How to justify belief in God? to move from agnosticism to knowledge or conviction?

What you offer is a common argument, but I find it lacking for two reasons.
One is that it only looks at things from a very limited world view and the other reason is that it does not take into account the totality of all that is.

First - the limited world view only sees this - the here and the now - only the visible…it is the view of the agnostic or the atheist. It says - there is suffering and people die horrible deaths. so God, if he exists, must be horrible, or as you suggest above, sadistic. Yet this same God made the earth you stand on, the air you breathe, the food you eat, the body you walk around in, the sun that warms you, the stars that we marvel at, the sunrise that gladdens us and sunsets that explode across the sky in glorious color.
This same God gave us people with heart, and intelligence and good will and conviction who have developed medicines, who have built missions, carried health care to remote areas. He has given us hearts that reach out to our fellow man where he is in crisis with food, medicine, housing, and prayer.
In short - God has shared with us the essence of Himself - Love of our fellow man.
Does this sound like a sadistic God?

Second - the totality of what is extends far beyond this earthly life. We are creatures destined for eternal life. Our lives here, for good or bad will affect that eternal life. Do we embrace Love or not. Do we embrace that which builds up or that which tears down, that which creates or that which destroys. That which hordes or that which sows.

Our faith is not something limited to the narrow confines of this earthly existence. It extends far beyond it. God has invited us to partake of the eternal. Yes our time here is imperfect. Yes there is suffering and yes we will all eventually die - unless Christ returns in our lifetime. But what then? Judgement. God will ask what have we chosen? Life with Him or life without Him. Our life here - good or bad - is how we make that choice.
And it isn’t a choice between this school of deep philosophy or that deep theology - it is a simple choice between love and hate.

Forget the rest - The most important and essential aspect of the life of a Christian - and the most important aspect of evangelization is to live a truly loving life.

Peace
James

Imagine telling a blind man that there are stars in the sky. Why should he believe you? From his point of view, there is no proof of the existence of stars.

This is, bar none, the Best Scientific basis for belief in God that I have ever seen.

We’re not yet on the same page regarding our conception of reality, so the short answer to your question is, “Yes, it can sound like it.” Whether it does or not depends on how one understands good in relation to evil.

If you torture someone without rest, the person will die sooner than if you torture him periodically and give him time to recuperate. In other words, to maximize the amount of suffering someone is able to endure, you must help him recover periodically. Therefore, a sadist interested in maximizing suffering will give the person good things now and again.

If someone tortures someone, and then binds his wounds and helps him recover in order to make him suffer more, what do we say about that person? It’s not clear to me that the good things in this world aren’t oases in a desert of suffering, that their purpose isn’t to enable us to suffer more. It’s not clear to me that God actually loves us, or that this isn’t in fact hell (perhaps when we die we’re reincarnated here).

Of course to be able to function, we must assume that God is good and that this life is worth living, but it’s not clear to me that it’s true. Of course your call to live a loving life I agree with, but my question is about God, not about how we should live. (Ultimately, I’m not willing to admit an evil god as supreme over creation, because it’s too fatalistic for me to embrace psychologically, so it is a question of either Christianity or atheism, unless some Mohammedan apologists can answer the numerous objections I have to the Quran.)

Finally, you claim that the essence of God is to help each other become better and will the good for the other (“love”). If this is true, then all my questions remain: Why is God absent? Why is God not keeping His promises? etc.

Why should he? I see this as a question without any impact: It doesn’t matter whether he does or not. I don’t see any reason why he ‘should’, except that if he admits the reliability of the scientific method for describing reality, then he should believe me in order to remain consistent with his admission.

Which is why you are having so much trouble.
Mu suggestion is that you simply stop trying to relate good with evil and simply embrace “good”.

Your analogy of torturing someone is one aspect of looking at things…a negative one…it assumes an intent that is not evident.
An evil sadistic person will torture for evil intent. Yet a doctor or other medical professional will "torture (cause suffering and pain) for an entirely good intent.

Finally, you claim that the essence of God is to help each other become better and will the good for the other (“love”). If this is true, then all my questions remain: Why is God absent? Why is God not keeping His promises? etc.

God is keeping his promises. He promised to be with us until the end of the age - God is not absent… He is present to us constantly - every day - in our love for one another.

Peace
James

Your statement here that God is present in our love for one another seems to me analogous to pantheism, that God is the universe: “God is our loving actions,” “God is matter and energy”.

To put it as a question:
How do we distinguish God from man? How do we distinguish between divine actions (divine agency) and human actions (human agency)?

It seems like begging the question (assuming the conclusion) to say that God is present in every good thing man does, and absent in every bad thing man does.

I do not concern myself with whether something “sounds like” this or that thing. The catechism teaches that others can have portions of the truth - so if my comments “sounds like” pantheism so be it. It does not change what God has taught us in Scripture. It does not change the reality of God in the world.

You seem to be stuck in what I call the “Yea but what if…” syndrome. It is a path with no end - a maze with no exit.
Can we have an answer to every question? Can we know the solution to every conundrum?
No we cannot because each answer will raise another, “yea but what if…”

I applaud your desire to know more, but the answer to your dilemma requires a shift in your world view.

Peace
James

Most blind people do believe that stars exist. The blind understand that they are limited in their ability to perceive certain aspects of the universe, and they trust those who have more ability than they do.

In the same way, we are limited in our ability to perceive the supernatural, and then the question becomes, can we trust those who can perceive more? Can we trust Christ? Can we trust those who are holier and closer to God than we are?

Here’s a story about St Augustine:

There is a story that St. Augustine was walking on the beach contemplating the mystery of the Trinity. Then he saw a boy in front of him who had dug a hole in the sand and was going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water to pour into the hole.

St. Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.”

“That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made” said St. Augustine.

The boy replied, “And you cannot fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.”

The story concludes by saying that the boy vanished because St. Augustine had been talking to an angel.

Here’s a more historical version, with paintings :slight_smile:

There is nothing that can be done for those “who will not see” .

I will read it with pleasure .

[quote=St Francis]Most blind people do believe that stars exist. The blind understand that they are limited in their ability to perceive certain aspects of the universe, and they trust those who have more ability than they do.

In the same way, we are limited in our ability to perceive the supernatural, and then the question becomes, can we trust those who can perceive more?
[/quote]

Although I hesitate to disagree with someone who calls themself St Francis, I don’t think that this analogy is apt. I would hope that the blind would trust only those that can reliably demonstrate their ability to perceive those particular aspects of the universe. Similarly, I would hope that we would only trust those who can reliably demonstrate their ability to perceive the supernatural. It is this requirement for a convincing demonstration that is the stumbling block. To not demand such a demonstration is, appropriately, called blind faith.

:o I am not actually calling myself St Francis; he’s my patron saint. I chose the name quickly and didn’t really think it through…

I don’t think that this analogy is apt. I would hope that the blind would trust only those that can reliably demonstrate their ability to perceive those particular aspects of the universe.

True, I should have included that, but I am sure most blind people get a sense of whom they can trust…

Similarly, I would hope that we would only trust those who can reliably demonstrate their ability to perceive the supernatural. It is this requirement for a convincing demonstration that is the stumbling block. To not demand such a demonstration is, appropriately, called blind faith.

Which is why I mentioned Christ and very holy people…

Being willing to trust Christ, the Apostles, and Saints is not blind faith. Why should God give us each our own personalized proof? Was sending His Son to us insufficient? Was Christ’s death on the cross insufficient?

ethereality,

what I am about to say I may have my head handed back to me on a platter. But I’m going to say it because I believe if you think about it, it will over time help you.

The first part of the question is “how to justify my belief in God?”

I’ve never justified my belief in God. To me it dosen’t need justification. I simply believe in God.

To justify means in a way that I don’t trust him to be believed in because I must logically show to myself that he is trustworthy in every way. But the fact is that Jesus wants us to say to him “Jesus, I trust in you.” And that is without any qualification…pure trust in him. All logic is abandoned and the heart is opened up, and then we make the profound statement…Jesus I trust in you no matter what.

Jesus said that we should become like little children. Children grab the hand of their parent, trusting that the parent will take good care of them wherever they go, and in whatever they tell them.

Something inside of you will try to suggest that you give reasons why what I said is illogical.
Try to resist this idea and think for a while just what trust in Jesus means. And give it a try.

I am thinking of you in my prayer.

May the Good Shepherd fill you with peace.

There is a great deal of obfuscation in and around religions .If you read only John 1 and then read only what Jesus Himself says .Give Him a try by asking Him to help you and guide you .Each day think of the words of the Lord’s prayer,and ask God the Father who is the lawmaker of the Trinity to support you on your journey ,and then make the prayer twice per day . Also read a little of experts on the bible often as they explain the background to the evangiles .
When I got to a certain stage where I knew I had to let go but could’nt , I was guided to read and understand the story of Abraham and Isaac .If you love someone more than anything else in the world,and you are asked to 'destroy’them to prove you have total faith in God, it is very very hard ,but that is what God asks ,as what He is going to give you in return is so enormous,that you have to do it, The only alternative at this stage of the ‘journey’ is to lose everything,forever ,so be careful .
Once God lets you become one of His, (through Jesus) there is no going back. He gives you lots of chances to get it right ,and you will have no doubt that you have been ,are saved, and that is truly wonderful, beyond imagination. You will cry with relief and amazement,and ‘see’ with new eyes all the wonders of His creation .
You will feel better and lighter and happier than you can ever imagine,and you will never wish to go back .
“Oh Lord my God when I in awsome Wonder conider all the worlds you hands have made”

The story of Lots wife turning to a pillar of salt because she turned to look back is what came to mind when I was tempted to let go , (and you will be by satan ) ,when I was slackening .
You may look to the side, and study things in God’s universe ,but never go back .
At first all the bad habits can draw you back ,but once I trusted in Him andt 'connect
every day , He has never let me down but Patience and faith are needed here
as we only get what is good for us .:gopray2:

The only thing to justify belief is an affirmation of that belief. Something outside of ones self, after gaining a belief (say that of belief in Christ), takes place to confirm that belief. continued trust in that affirming action (say the HS) is what separates rational belief from irrational. Bear in mind that to those whom have never had that same action affirm the same belief, will view your faith as insanity or stupidity.

+1


If man is a dependent, contingent being, then he cannot prove anything about that which is bigger than him, precedes him, or contextualizes him. Therefore, all efforts to prove anything about God are misguided.

Reasons or justifications for believing things are determined as valid or invalid by whoever one is trying to convince or justify oneself to.


Or that you’re not doing your part – that you’re underestimating your own free will.

No. The burden of proof is on the one who wants to understand.

Yes …

*]How can I persuade people that they should become Christian?

You should probably leave that to a time when you yourself will have the conviction you desire.
If the blind lead the blind …

*]How can I move from agnosticism to conviction?

By taking action in accordance with your best assessment of what you should do at any given point.

*]What is God waiting for?

You, perhaps …

*]Why hasn’t God given me more faith, despite so frequently praying for it?

Because whatever faith you got, you didn’t act on it?

*]Why does God continue letting us suffer?

Ask God.

*]Why hasn’t He returned yet?

Are you sure about that?

Actually I think He does frequently, I don’t think he ever left. I also think the Eucharist is evident of this, but, also indicates He is always present here in His creation. The sacrament doesn’t mean God comes only specifically to the Church, its rather the institution of a promise and instruction specifically given to the Church. Course a bit different than the second coming.

Why does God continue letting us suffer?

Interesting question. God didn’t intend suffering. Man chose suffering, as a result man suffers in general. Suffering is redeemable and the blessing is often missed. Look at the Coptic Christians beheaded. Today they are Saints.

I don’t know Lucy107, but I think they are both comments that invoke thought. :slight_smile:

Gary Taylor -

Are you addressing the above post to me?

No, your points were thought provoking, thinking out loud. :slight_smile:

The problem is precisely the opposite of what you suggest: For those who are more familiar with the science and philosophy, the problems are apparent. The problems with this book are apparent to those who do see the subject matter he is discussing. For those who don’t see the problems with his arguments, I’m sure the book is amazing.

I want you to better understand my situation, and why what you say saddens me instead of comforts me. I am not surrounded by people who love me. I am alone. I can only interact with some of my family, friends, and associates digitally – this means staring at a computer screen, and I have a few friends or acquaintances here with whom communication is difficult and with whom I cannot be intimate. I have received gifts from numerous people which have improved my quality of life (e.g. winter clothing, food), but which have done little to ease more than temporarily that -]numb emptiness/-] desolation I feel – that “God-shaped hole” I keep trying to fill unsuccessfully with the Eucharist. (Perhaps my problem is emotional, and spiritually I am in great shape, though.)

You tell me God is present, though. So I go to church, even to Mass, and what do I experience? A cold building, a language I mostly do not understand (Japanese), the appearance of bread, a wooden box, one stained-glass window depicting Jesus, and silence. “God is not absent. God is present constantly in our love for one another!” I hope you have some idea how hollow these words are for me, especially when you note Matthew 8:2-3 and Matthew 9:20-22 in contradistinction to my reception of the Body of Christ, so much more than the tassel of His cloak. I’ve also prayed that if it’s not God’s will to heal me, that He make this point clear to me, etc., but again, no direct response from God – only direct responses from human beings.*

As another has said, this world is basically what I would expect to find if atheism were true. Nonetheless, I do my best to continue keeping faith and hoping, hoping to awake in the morning healed, hoping Jesus will return this day, hoping to be healed when or after I receive the Eucharist the next time, hoping God will grant my other petitions and that the world will improve, etc.

  • I’m saying “direct response” here to give you the benefit of the doubt – I have not yet read an answer to my question regarding the distinction between divine and human agency, so I’m leaving open the possibility that a direct answer from humans may also be an indirect answer from God, although this seems unfair, not how a father would treat his son.
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