My response to Emmanuel

Hi Emmanuel,

Thanks for all the details. Following are a lot of questions and comments. I assure you I’m never sarcastic.

First off, do you think that it’s fair to say that had you been raised in a Muslim family that you would have been Muslim? It’s ccommon knowledge that most people who are religious of any type are of their community. Thus, there is no independent validity to any one faith as all are passed down like any family heirloom.

> You may say, how do you know that God is even real nor who even knows if an > afterlife or heaven and hell exist? My answer to that is I can’t really > answer that in a few sentences. It’s like a man married to his wife in a > loving relationship for 10, 20, 30… years and then someone suddenly ask > them, well why did you marry her? What makes you think she loves you? What > makes you think she’s real and true? Why won’t you doubt her? …etc.

Pardon me, but this is, in the least, a false analogy. You’re comparing a relationship with a fellow human to a relationship with an omnipotent being. Beyond that, I understand that you have a lifetime of experience with Christianity, but had you had a lifetime of experience as an ancient Greek, I wonder if you’d make the same claims of Zeus.

Additiionally, a wife would be physically present, the husband and the wife would have direct communication, the wife would have countless opportunities to demonstrate her affection, etc.

> God was still faithful and loving to me in showing Himself to me in many > different ways.

Cool. Like what?

> When I look back, God has blessed me with so much, my
> prayers are answered, I have all I need, I have good health,

I have perfect health and have for almost my entire life, and yet I have actively, consciously denounced any supernatural force of any kind.

> there were
> decisions I made that would have been bad but God pulled me out of it for > the better, and the list goes on.

I’d love to hear about that. Sounds specific.

> And then someone will for sure say oh
> well that’s just some hindsight theory phenomenon. But I tell you the > truth, man can always come up with explanations and theories to explain away > God and what He’s done for us.

By that same token, man has always come up with rationalizations for a god when no evidence was present.

> However, if you ask a person who’ve really
> walked with God and experienced Him in first person, that person will tell > you without a shadow of a doubt that God is real, and no one can shake them.

A profession of faith is not evidence for that faith. I met a woman who claimed to speak with an Egyptian goddess (the cat-headed one) on a daily basis. She was certain of this, had no doubt, that this cat-god is real.

> It’s like saying to that married man, hey man, after that 20, 30 years, > maybe your wife was playing you all this time, she’s not real, maybe it’s > even just a figment of your imagination.

That ignores the physical presence, daily communication, affection, etc. Now it may be that a man has truly imagined his wife. In that case, there are objective ways of proving that.

> Yes, we can take months and months to go through all the scientific, > historical and archeological evidences of why the bible is absolutely true > and is the word of God and that the scriptures is the most reliable and > accurate archeological piece recorded with thousands of manuscripts…etc, > and we could even go into all the apologetics of the reasons why God exists, > suffering, evil vs good…etc. everything. But at the end of the day, just > going through all that would really mean nothing if we won’t put faith in > God.

I agree time would be consumed. How about this? Give me one objectively verifiable fact of each. Give me a scientific fact, a historical fact, and an archaeological fact. I agree that apologetics is ultimately a mutual waste of time.

My problem with faith is if I am to put my faith into god, that is believe without evidence, why not put my faith in Zeus, Osiris, or unicorns?

> It’s like that married man before he got married could have decided > not to get married, even though he was convinced that the girl was right, > she’s real, the commitment is real, and everything.

Except that again, in your analogy, a girl is physically present, can communicate, can show affection, etc.

> Because I believe that even if we can “win
> the argument”, it doesn’t mean you’ll have “won the person” to eternal life.

I understand this. The problem is, though, that you are making extraordinary claims. Heaven, eternal life, Hell, etc. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As I told someone else recently, why should I follow what you say if the only reason you can give me is faith? In point of fact, I spoke with someone years ago who claimed that without baptism, nothing else matters, you go to Hell. Period. I’ve spoken to other Christians who claim that baptism is an important committment, a symbol, but is not required to enter Heaven. Which is it? And how do I know? So yes, the question of “winning” arguments is ultimately irrelevent, but you have to give us unsaved souls some reason beyond “just have faith.”

> So I did take that leap of faith and started to become serious in my faith. > I repented of my sins, asked Jesus to forgive me and He has since walked > with me, provided for me, guide me and this experience is undeniable.

I honestly don’t know what you mean by this. I assume you don’t mean that Jesus showed up and physically walked next to you.

> Others will say it’s a placebo effect, still you may say it’s confirmation > bias, or any other theories as I’ve learned in my 4 year Psychology major, > but I tell you, it’s like that man who married his wife for 10, 20, 30 > years, no one can take that away from him who he knows for sure is the > truth.

Confirmation bias is not a theory. It is the fact of someone believing something and then only identifying and examining evidence that supports the person’s belief. And again, you’re equating an objectively verifiable wife with an unverifiable omnipotent entity.

Now, I’m sure you feel certain things like pleasure at prayer, like security and solace. That’s a different conversation.

> Only if others would step into faith, trust God, and walk with Him, > they will know as surely as well that God is indeed real.

Again, with no evidence, we might as well step into faith, trust Zeus, and walk with Him. That woman I mentioned was certain that her cat-goddess was real.

> I can stand in
> front of a chair and think wow this chair is nice, and it may be comfortable > to sit down, and I even believe it will hold my weight, but until I actually > take a step in faith and SIT on it, I would not enjoy the benefits of that > chair.

You can objectively verify a chair’s existence. However, if the chair is unstable and you don’t immediately notice that, you could sit down and it could collapse beneath you. In that case, I’ll grant sitting in the chair and expecting it to hold you up is an assumption. Then again, it’s not faith as you have a precedent of sitting in other chairs that did not collapse beneath you.

> It is the same with faith in God. Ever since I got serious and took > that step of faith and commitment, I can tell you that my life have not been > the same. I have seen got worked miracles, answered in my life, and I have > seen God worked miracles in other people’s lives.

Seriously, that’s awesome. What were they?

> Initially it was hearing
> reports from others telling it. And after I stepped out, like praying for > people, I’ve seen FIRST HAND the reality of God.

Great! Like what?

> By God’s grace and love
> through prayer, I’ve seen personally stomach cancer dissolve reported by > doctors, a shorter leg grown back out of a 11 year old boy, blind eyes > starting to regain vision, poor hearing regain perfect hearing, obesity come > down, all sorts of pain gone,..and the list just goes on.

Correlation does not equal causation. The cancer may have dissolved, but you have no evidence that it was because of prayer. I’ve never heard of an amputee regaining his limbs so would love to hear more about that. There is a medical precedent for blind eyes regaining vision. Same with hearing. Obesity is easily cured. A friend of mine, also an atheist, switched from sugar to diet soda and lost 30 pounds.

Additionally, this begs the question, does god require our prayer in order to heal? Why does he simply not heal of his own accord? Why does he allow the devil to inflict?

> If it is not for
> a real and LIVING God who lives in me through faith, there is absolutely NO > WAY that these things could happen.

We can certainly discuss that. By the way, the cat-god girl? She also claimed that her god was living.

> People read the bible and think it’s
> all fairy tales and that’s because they don’t put faith and walk it out.

Again, why would faith be required if an omnipotent god wrote the book? Couldn’t an omnpotent god do it in such a way as there is no doubt without the requirement for a leap of faith?

Besides the fact, the faith matter here is a cop-out. I’ve read a great deal of the Bible. I’ve obviously never felt any inner meaning or connection or whatever you want to call it. I was told this is because I’m not doing it right. But the thing is, anyone can make that claim about anything. You can say forever that I’m not reading it right or with enough faith.

> My life would be a waste, have
> no meaning, and I am getting closer and closer everyday to my destruction in > eternity.

I take exception with this. Yours is an arrogant presumption. I’m not a Christian and yet my life has meaning and is not a waste. Now, I make make my own meaning as I don’t attribute it to an unverifiable entity, but I have friends, have work, have a girlfriend, have passions and hobbies, etc. I have all this wonderful stuff without a god.

> And that is
> also why I am willing to spend time at 2 in the morning on a Sunday night to > write this to you because indeed the stakes are high, and I don’t want you > to miss out on it.

And I do appreciate your time. Thanks!

> To answer your second question. The bible promises that anyone who has > FAITH in God and thereby invoking the name of the Lord Jesus Christ can > receive physical healing in the bodies (same as salvation for the soul and > spirit). So it’s not just “invoking on the name”, it’s invoking on the name > in faith that makes it work.

I want to make sure I have this right. So, my mom believes in god, I know she believes that Jesus existed, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t believe that he was a god himself, resurrected, or any of the rest. Now, am I right in your assertion that god will not heal her until she believes the whole kit and kabootle?

> If you
> could leave me a number and a time where I can call and pray for your mom on > the phone (it’d be good if you’re here too), I am willing to minister > healing to her by praying through the phone.

No, I mean, would you be willing to fly out to her and heal her in person? This is not for my benefit to prove that god exists. This is to help her. I assume an omnipotent god can provide you with airfare, hotel accomodations, and a rental car if you need one.

> I believe this is a sign God
> is giving you to let you know that He is real. What the doctors cannot > cure, God can. And He wants to show you that He loves your mom and He loves > you. So you let me know my friend. Let’s see a miracle together and > witness the love and reality of God the Lord Jesus Christ. > I’ll talk to you soon, be blessed!

I have always said, give me a reason and I’ll believe. You fly out to Portland, heal my mom, and that’ll definitely be a step forward. And again, whether I’m convinced or not is of no real interest, but I don’t want her to be debilitated by this terrible disease.

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