If You Believe, You Will Receive Whatever You Ask For In Prayer

You’ve read the title of this post. Do you believe it to be true? Have you experienced it in your own life? There is a digital sign made by signsforjesus.com that is located a few towns over from me at a busy intersection. This was the message on it today. It’s nothing new. This is a message as old as the Bible itself. In Matthew 21:22, the Bible clearly states “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” So once again, do you believe it to be true?

 

This is a topic that troubles believers. I know it did when I believed. It bothers me still because many people believe it based on nothing and push this idea. According to some (not all) Christians, if prayer doesn’t work for you, then maybe you are not a true believer even if you think that you are. Most believers are decent enough and don’t accuse other people of not truly believing, but many do. (You know who you are) If you believe, and your prayers go unanswered, then you are left feeling confused, betrayed and unworthy. If you are an unbeliever, then this verse clearly shows the Bible’s message is faulty and it stands out like a sore thumb. So what’s the deal here? Is the Bible wrong to say this? Is it made up? Is there another reason prayers consistently go unanswered? Make no mistake, prayers absolutely go unanswered. When I believed, and I did believe, my prayers went unanswered. There’s an issue here.

 

The topic of unanswered prayer has been discussed far too many times. People ask why prayers are ignored and the faithful usually come up with some excuse why this happens. “There is sin in your life creating a barrier between you and God.” Well, obviously. The Bible itself says that we all sin. If sin was the reason prayers went unanswered, we could expect that 100% of prayers would go unanswered as we all sin, all of the time. What is the other popular excuse? I mentioned it earlier. “You were never a real Christian to begin with.” Ah, of course. The old “You were never one of us” excuse. My prayers all went unanswered and I left the faith all because I never truly believed. I was never truly a Christian. Yes, I’ve heard this before. And every time, this is a B.S. excuse.

 

If believers, according to Matthew 21:22, have their prayers answered, then why aren’t their prayers answered? People who stand up high, looking down their noses at those of us who lost faith, claiming that only the true believers have their prayers answered also have unanswered prayers. Again, according to Matthew 21:22 “…you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Ask any believer, any one of them, if one of their prayers went unanswered. If the answer is yes, then what is their excuse? What is the reason that a true believer was denied what was promised to them? Was it God’s will? The excuse of, “Well, my prayers didn’t get answered or something different happened than what I asked for because it was God’s will. God has a plan and our prayers don’t always fit into that plan.” But that’s not what the Bible promises us, is it? …whatever we ask for…” There are no rules or stipulations. There are no prerequisites or conditions. There is a promise made that goes unfulfilled. Excuses cannot explain this away.

Prayers by believers and by unbelievers are answered at the same rate. They are answered at the same exact rate as chance. About 50/50. Random chance dictates whether or not you get what you ask for, regardless of what you believe. Believers do not get whatever they ask for in prayer just because they believe. Believers, even the most sincere believers (Yes I once was a true believer) can lose faith. They lose faith not because they weren’t true believers or their hearts weren’t “given to Jesus”. They lose faith because of broken promises, unanswered prayers and a book “inspired by God” that is actually man-made and as flawed as you or me. Deconverting from Christianity does actually happen and it happens even to the most pious and devout amongst Christians. If you are a believer and disagree with this statement, it is because you still believe and can’t see any other option but to believe. It does happen and to judge those of us who leave as being “not true Christians” is as ignorant and as arrogant as you can get. If you still believe, how many of your prayers were ignored? How many didn’t go your way? They should have been given to you, exactly as you asked for them. Every one of them. If not, then either the Bible is wrong…or maybe you aren’t true believers either.

73 thoughts on “If You Believe, You Will Receive Whatever You Ask For In Prayer

  1. No. It is always a game of statistics, probabilities, or more specific… a game of roulette. Most all of the time there are WAY TOO MANY VARIABLES and FACTORS that go into your own narrow-minded tunnel-vision of what YOU want to happen in life. That’s hardcore reality. 🙂

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    1. Exactly. What bothers me about this message being posted in a busy location is the motive behind it. It clearly is intended to entice people to come to Christ…with a promise of getting whatever you ask for. It takes a biblical promise (that I think most people don’t believe) and uses it to grab someone’s attention. If it said, “Come to Jesus and your life won’t change one bit, then most people wouldn’t have any desire for church activities. But promising anything you want and all you need is belief, well, some people might just jump at that chance and say “sign me up!”

      Anything I have accomplished in life, I have done on my own. Prayers did not help me do them nor did they help loved ones get better from illness. Prayers for God to draw me closer to him fell on deaf ears and prayers for my doubt to be removed went unanswered. I could fill a book with the prayers I prayed that went unanswered, but it’s a lot easier to just write down how many were answered. 0. That’s zero. None. Ever. That either means I never believed (which is not true. I believed deeply for most of my life) or the Bible message is just not true. I think I have to side with the Bible being not true.

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      1. That is only ONE reason to know with certainty Ben that the 4th-century Hellenistic Apotheotic Canonical Bible is purely a 1st thru 5th-century CE sociopolitical manuever to TRY to unite and maintain a crumbling, collapsing (internally) Empire. All of it has nothing to do with any Universal truths or miraculous “salvation” from a make-believe damnation or depraved life. 😄

        As you’ve correctly figured out… WE make this life what we want/perceived as BEST we can. It’s that simple. 😉

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  2. Those church signs have fueled some excellent posts for you Ben. Thanks. Prayer also brought me to the crossroads. Clapton said it well “I went down to the crossroads,
    Fell down on my knees.
    Down to the crossroads,
    Fell down on my knees.
    Asked the Lord above for mercy,
    “Save me if you please.”

    I went down to the crossroads,
    Tried to flag a ride.
    I went down to the crossroads,
    Tried to flag a ride.
    Nobody seemed to know me,
    Everybody passed me by.

    I’m going down to Rosedale,
    Take my rider by my side.
    Going down to Rosedale,
    Take my rider by my side.
    You can still barrelhouse, baby,
    On the riverside.

    You can run, you can run,
    Tell my friend-boy Willie Brown.
    You can run, you can run,
    Tell my friend-boy Willie Brown.
    And I’m standing at the crossroads,
    Believe I’m sinking down.
    If faith lived or died by prayer it would’ve been over the day after your scripture was published. Faith before knowledge is blinding to the obvious, but how to make that clear when your in it? I haven’t found the trick yet

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      1. Have you ever walked into a place and there was a long line so you got in it, only much later to see a window with no customers waiting? We all got in the line for a while Ben, but as we looked around we saw an opening that few are able to act on.

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      2. Very well said. The narrow path message doesn’t only apply to believers. I would argue that the believers are on the wide road that leads to destruction, not the unbelievers. They think they are on the right path because so many people are there and more people means more truth. They are following the crowd (blindly) and they just can’t see it.

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      3. If the gate is narrow, and few that find it, that automatically disqualifies most of Christianity who think they’re all in. Lol. Good point Ben. That makes two now. Lol

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  3. Really enjoyed reading this. I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness, so I feel the perpetual belittlement over leaving “the truth.” But, I don’t understand religion and I feel should be free to determine what my own beliefs are. I’ve had many unanswered prayers borne out of lack of conformity to a religion that forces its views on people.

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    1. You can tell a Jehovah’s Witness, but you can’t tell ’em much. Lol. Glad you saw the light. I was raised Mormon and the guilt to leave was great. Welcome aboard daylight.

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    1. If I believe in the Good News, that is, I believe we are here to love God and people, and that belief is truly at the heart of my prayer, then whatever comes to me in prayer, over time, will help nurture my love of God and people.

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      1. This is the “it is God’s will defense.” Whatever I pray for will be given for his glory. I may not see an answer, but I assume God is using it for his glory. It’s a cop out and an excuse. Jesus spoke of moving mountains. No one can move mountains. Some people of faith have tried. No one expects mountains to move, yet simple prayers like stronger faith should be able to get God’s attention. “People want to be more like me? They want to hear more of my message and follow me? Great. I’ll just ignore them completely and pretend I’m not home. That’ll show them I care.”

        I’m sorry, but “loving God and people” is a nice idea, but that’s not all that was promised in the Bible. Prayers coming to fruition “over time” is an excuse as to why we see no answers. We need to first have faith God is listening, and second, we need to have faith that even if we never see answers to prayer, that God will answer them in his time.

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      2. “Loving God and people” is not just a nice idea. According to Jesus, it is the peg on which his faith hangs.

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    2. What I mean by unanswered prayer is exactly that. Unanswered prayer. Before I lost my faith, do you know what my most common prayer was? It was to not lose faith. I prayed to overcome my doubt and to love God deeper and understand his plan for me. I prayed to have him show me the path I should be taking. I prayed for my faith in him to become stronger and help me be a better Christian. I no longer believe now. At all. If a prayer for stronger faith and a prayer for being more like God can be ignored, what hope do any of us have of any other prayer being answered?

      I wasn’t praying for stuff. I wasn’t praying for a bigger house, a better car or a new job. I was praying for God to pull me closer. Yet here I am. My prayers went unanswered. I don’t believe it is in God’s divine plan for someone begging for him to bring them closer to him, to ignore that person and let them go. But that’s what happened. I cannot even begin to tell you how much that hurt.

      Look, if I prayed for stuff, like money or fame, I wouldn’t expect an answer to that because no one needs that. But when I pray to God for more God, for more faith, to be a better Christian, then I think those prayers are worthy of a response. There was none. Not one.

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      1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am sorry to hear about the hurt that you experienced.

        Like you, I would find it hard to believe that God would leave that kind of prayer unanswered. However, I’m left wondering what kind of answer would have been more satisfactory, or how you decided it was unanswered? If you feel like commenting further, I would be sincerely interested, but thank you in any case.

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      2. I feel it is unanswered because I do not believe. I do not believe in the Christian story at all. The jury is still out for me on if there is a god or not because I’m not totally convinced one way or another. But the biblical story has so many holes in it and the promises contained go unfulfilled. I don’t expect magic. I don’t expect three wishes. I do expect one thing promised to come to fruition. Not one has. I have lost my Christian faith. That’s what I prayed for. I don’t see this being an answer to prayer. I don’t see why God’s answer to pulling me close is to push me away.

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  4. This one caused me a lot of trouble, too. When I prayed for something like healing for someone else, I could easily dismiss the “no” by thinking it just wasn’t God’s will. But, when I prayed for things that I knew should be his will, like my sister becoming a believer, or for help with my anger, or bad attitude, or lust, and didn’t get help, that was frustrating, to say the least. My wife and I prayed and prayed for guidance regarding a move across the state, and yet we felt completely alone in making that decision. I now know why.

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  5. Excellent post. I prayed for a post like this to appear, and, magically, here it is. It is magic, right? I mean, how else could such a post appear? Well, OK, maybe a person wrote the post, but, unless he was directly inspired by an invisible entity to write it in response to my prayers for it, it never would have been written. Right? Thus, this proves without any doubt, that, not only is there a god, he’s the Christian god, AND, the particular brand of Christian god that I believe in. Don’t agree with me? HA!! Then it’s your job to prove what I just stated ISN’T true with irrefutable, tangible empirical evidence. I prayed to be smart enough to write what I just did, and THAT prayer was answered too. $Amen$

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    1. If the only answer to prayer is “God will do whatever God wants to anyway” then why pray to begin with? Why are we told to bring our petitions to God if his mind is already made up? Just to see if we are faithful enough to ask the questions? Just to see if we blindly trust enough? “God’s Will” conveniently answers every single unanswered prayer . If you get what you prayed for, then that’s great. God must have intervened. If not, God’s Will is why not.

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  6. “I don’t see why God’s answer to pulling me close is to push me away.”

    Respecting the fact that only you can discern this, it seems within the realm of possibility that losing your former faith was indeed the answer to your prayer, and God is pulling you closer by challenging you and calling you to a better faith. (And a new, better faith may well be more Christian, not less Christian, than your former faith.)

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    1. We are not the same person at 40 or 50 that we were at 18 or 30. Sometimes our faith has to catch up. We can simply discard it, but I it may be wiser to update it and grow it.

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      1. @ LOY

        If Jesus taught anything, it is that being set in stone is the exact opposite of faith.

        Exactly how do you know the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth taught anything?
        Please be specific.

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      2. I refer to the alleged character’s alleged teaching (as you well know from the context of the discussion).

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      3. I refer to the alleged character’s alleged teaching (as you well know from the context of the discussion).

        Ah, sorry. I didn’t pick up on the subtleties of context.
        With this in mind, therefore, we can assert with minimal fear of contradiction that, based on the most up to date scholarly studies, the character Jesus of Nazareth probably said practically nothing of what is attributed to him in the gospels.
        To paraphrase the immortal words from the Life of Brian: ”He’s making it up as he goes along.”

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    2. I don’t really know how to properly respond to this. That is not even close to what my life has become since leaving the faith. Jesus is a character in a book to me now, not the cornerstone of a religion. He may have existed once but I don’t believe for one second that he was divine. If this is God’s way of molding me into his image and bringing me back, then he is taking the long road and hiding every one of his intentions from me. I’m so much further away from Christianity than I’ve ever been. If making me a better Christian is to have me deny the Bible, deny Jesus’s divinity and question whether God exists at all then God is going against all we read about in the Bible. If that’s the case, then we can all just throw it out right? If God can ignore it all to bring one person back, then why should any of us follow it? It’s not set in stone if he can ignore it and bend the rules just for me.

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      1. Maybe you could start with a prayer of thanksgiving for being liberated from your former, dead faith.

        Maybe God is calling you to a non-Christian faith (but I would learn more about other ways of being Christian before writing it off).

        If Jesus taught anything, it is that being set in stone is the exact opposite of faith. He taught that “rules” without love are worthless. Although some people who identify as “Christian” treat the Bible as if it were an instruction manual set in stone, I would argue that view is far from Christian.

        In my experience, very little worthwhile is easy.

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      2. I prayed to keep my faith and that prayer went unanswered. Saying a prayer of thanksgiving for having that happen just seems ridiculous. Say a prayer. If it gets answered, say thanks. If not, say thanks. That’s not how my mind works any longer. I’ve moved on from that line of thinking. If I talk to my wife and she completely ignores me and walks away as if I didn’t say a word, I can’t pretend as if she really heard me and responded. I’m not going to thank her for her input and guidance when she completely ignored everything I had to say. If I ask what she wants for dinner and she makes no eye contact, doesn’t say a word and goes out to mow the lawn, am I supposed to think my question was answered? Of course not. Well, maybe she was trying to get me to understand that she didn’t want food, but rather wanted to take a walk and by ignoring me I was supposed to figure that out. That’s just not realistic. But that’s how we are to expect God to be? God is supposed to be like us; a father. We’re made in his image. Yet he ignores us and we’re just supposed to say thank you? What are we to think? How should we react? What should we say in response to silence? Dear God, I pray that you ignore me again tomorrow because I’m sure that just means you are taking me in a completely different direction than what I had originally thought? Okay, until then, I’ll just try to figure out your plan on my own without any guidance. See you then.

        I just can’t do that any longer.

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      3. Well, yeah, we do have to figure stuff out for ourselves, because, being created in God’s image, we’re rational beings and not automatons. From what you’ve shared, though, it sounds like you did get pretty persuasive guidance in answer to your prayer — namely, that you need to jettison your former dead faith and start over with first principles. (Nothing terribly surprising about that — it can happen more than once over the course of a lifetime. It’s the cost of living an examined life.)

        Now, you seem to think it’s a binary choice from here — your old faith or no-faith. What I’m saying is that that’s not the case at all.

        No, God is not at all like us. Any anthropomorphic statement about God is at best a crude analogy, and in most cases profoundly misleading.

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  7. Loy this is the ridiculous part, created in gods image, or nothing like god, even our explanations are crude. So, which it, image of god or nothing like god? You have buried your head so far up apologistic circular, and frankly stupid talk all the way through, you can’t see anything for what it is. And I already know you’ll come back with some metaphorical statement requiring the experts to opine but like Ben says. The facts here are quiet obvious about prayer and god. Once examined, wanted it to be true. But alas. Better to just move past these childish things.

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    1. @jim: Yes, I agree, as I have stated — perhaps God is calling Ben to put aside a childish faith in order to develop a more mature faith. Many of us have experienced something like that. “No” faith is not the only alternative by any means (and certainly not the best one IMHO).

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      1. Mature into a more ingrained neurological connection. Continue to indoctrinate oneself until nothing else makes sense and the ability to ignore contradiction and fallacy becomes hard wired. Then the problem/religious connection becomes physiological. So it is with any one-line of discipline.

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      2. The “childish” faith I had was Christianity. A new version of Christianity (Christianity 2.0) is not a mature faith if the source material is the same as the original. If the source is the Bible, then nothing will change. If it is not the Bible, but some other source, then why keep this new source from me (or any of us for that matter) for so long and then reveal it to me only after I rejected what I was given? If there was a better source or a way to reveal to me what I needed to bolster my faith this whole time, why keep it from me? I was sincere. I was devout. I prayed only for more God yet my prayers were answered with silence. Unanswered prayers like mine (the ones asking for deeper faith) do not lead to a mature faith. They lead people away from God…in droves.

        I believe you mean well, but I don’t think you can clearly see the other side of this argument. You only see what you perceive as truth and anything contrary to that must be either from the enemy or part of a bigger plan that God has yet to reveal. The simple truth is that prayers go unanswered. All of them. That’s it. We pray. Nothing happens. We pray again. Nothing happens again. We then have two choices; we can accept that prayers do not get answered or we can make excuses so that we don’t have to admit that prayers go unanswered. Me? I’m tired of making excuses.

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      3. You certainly don’t need to justify your beliefs to me, but here’s what I find puzzling in this dialog. You used to subscribe to a very narrow, very childish version of a particular religion. You outgrew it, so now what? Do you think this now makes you an expert on all versions of all religions, such that you are justified in dismissing them all? As someone whose former faith was important to you, you’re not the tiniest bit curious what a more mature faith is like?

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      4. If you have read any of my blog posts other than just this one or the following comments, you would know that I am open to truth. If truth points to religion, so be it. I’m not interested in just finding a new religion to cling to because I lost one. Revealed religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) all have one thing in common, they have “holy books.” Each one of these holy books have man’s fingerprints all over them. The paper trail shows changes (many deliberate) along the way throughout the years. I do not trust ancient man any more than a man today that says they have all the answers. Am I “curious” as to what a mature faith is? What does that even mean? More Jesus? More prayer? What? If it is not evidence-based with proof, then no I am not even remotely interested. God may exist, but it certainly isn’t in the form of what any of these religions have made him out to be.

        I never claimed to be an expert on anything. But I’m no fool either. When there is a religion based on hearsay then I have nothing to go on but someone else’s words. That’s not evidence. That’s not truth. That is not mature. I would argue that any religion based on faith without evidence is childish (your word not mine). I subscribed to Christianity (the same religion still being taught today). This religion (or faith) is supposed to be eternal and unchanging as we are told that God never changes. If I was part of a religion serving one God, but it was immature and I needed to “grow up” in my faith, then what you are suggesting is that God does change…or at least he changes his mind.

        God knows right where to find me and if he wants to reach me, I have no doubt he will. I am open to that and have not once suggested otherwise. Because where God may indeed exist, religion is entirely man-made and not worth my time, effort or money. I’m not an atheist and have never referred to myself as one. I am however, an atheist when it comes to Christianity though as that God only exists within the pages of a book. In real life, that God remains silent and inactive. If you have some truth that can lead me to a “mature” faith, then let me hear it. If it’s a Bible verse or a Christian cliché, then I’m going to have to pass.

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      5. Glad to hear you’re open-minded. I guess what you will just have to discover for yourself is that what you keep calling Christianity isn’t — it’s just some very bad theology very far removed from the Gospel Jesus preached.

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    2. In a way, it sounds like you haven’t really let go of your old idea of faith, in that you still think a religion should be very literal and obvious and unchanging. If it is based on a “holy book”, the book should be carved in stone and handed down from on high in a literally true and obvious and unambiguous form, miraculously purified of any human taint. God should be a human-like character who hears our prayers and answers in obvious ways. Faith is primarily about belief.

      In other words, those are your standards for judging a religion, and you abandoned your former faith because it didn’t measure up. But I’m saying those are really bad criteria. If there were such a religion, it would be unworthy of us.

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      1. @LOY
        Surely a religion should be judged by the standards held by those who follow the text and doctrine as interpreted and proclaimed by those who are adamant they have been transformed (saved) by the restorative power of the Word?

        That their current transformed lifestyle – degree of faith and their actions towards others and themselves – should reflect the absolute irrefutability of the Holy Text (Holy Spirit) and show beyond a question of doubt that absolute acceptance of the Truth of said religion is the only path to salvation.

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      2. Old faith, new faith and everything in between should have one thing in common; truth. If there is no evidence of something then truth for you is whatever you want to believe. The “holy book” thing you mention isn’t something I said had to be set in stone. It does have to have some truth to it in order to be used for anything other than a self help book. If there is some truth, some proof of the Divine, which parts show that? How do you know? How do you separate the truth from the poetic? Even if Christianity was only loosely based on the Bible ( it’s not though… it’s completely based on it) then at least some parts are required to have truth. I’m simply asking which parts are true and how is it you came to know that?

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  8. @Ben: Not all truth is amenable to empirical evidence. Some truths we hold by the light of reason, e.g., all people have the same rights, and these rights include
    life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Only by the light of reason can we decide what matters — or why we matter, or how to create lives that matter. Only by the light of reason can we form a conscience. Evidence should inform our stories, but it’s not the whole story, or the whole truth. A poem, allegory or other work of art can contain more profound truth than a set of data.

    That every person must rely on her own power of reason to ascertain the truth about some things does not necessarily mean that truth is relative and subjective. It probably just means that we are all fallible, and nobody has the complete picture. There is much truth in the story — (!) — about the blind men and the elephant. Such is life.

    The Apostles didn’t worship the Bible (they never saw one). Yet they came to love God’s Word, and to believe they had encountered it in the flesh. That’s always been the example for Jesus’s followers to emulate. It’s too bad some of us want to fashion a false idol out of the human language of the Bible.

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    1. Not all truth is amenable to empirical evidence. Some truths we hold by the light of reason,

      Exactly. Now, is there really any reason to believe that a three day old corpse arose from the dead? And let’s make this perfectly clear – not what a bunch of highly distraught, 1st century, illiterate rough and ready Jews believed , and most definitely did not witness.

      Under these circumstances exactly how reasonable is it, LOY?

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      1. It’s as Bart Ehman says, “by definition, miracles are the least likely things to happen.” Dead bodies don’t regularly come back to life, so if one did, it would be the least likely thing to happen. Reasonable? Nope. With evidence, sure, I’d believe it. Without any, why would anyone? Wanting things to be true doesn’t make things true.

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    2. It seems odd that you keep saying you don’t need empirical evidence and that the Bible isn’t everything when it comes to truth and faith…and then you reference the Bible to prove your point. You speak of the Apostles and their faith despite having no Bible. Where, may I ask have you heard of the Apostles and their story? Oh yes. The Bible. We know of them and their Bible-less faith from the Bible. So again, how do you know this is true? Which parts of the Bible are true and how do you know? I’m curious if you have a reason other than just faith and without using your Bible. Saying you don’t need a Bible and then using it extensively to prove your point is a little ridiculous.

      Once again, if you believe in the stories from the Bible, some or all must be true, right? How do you know this? How can I too know this.. beyond “it just feels right” or “I just believe it “? Without the Bible, why do you believe in Bible stories?

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      1. You claimed that Christianity is “completely based” on the Bible. I pointed out how easy it is to refute this claim — the first Christians didn’t have Bibles (and for that matter few people, even if literate, had direct access to Biblical texts before the printing press appeared).

        I said it’s too bad some want to make a false idol of the human language of the Bible. That is not to say that the content of the Bible is irrelevant. How can one discern the truths of the Bible? I know of no paint-by-numbers solution. Each of us must apply our own knowledge, intelligence and reason (nothing to do with “feelings”). Anyone who is serious can draw on 20 centuries of thought, reflection, scholarship, exegesis, commentary, teaching, preaching, research, disputes, inspiration and practice.

        One thing I learned long ago is that understanding the Bible requires some empathy for people who lived in a different culture, but who had many concerns familiar to us and have much to teach us. We won’t get anywhere if we insist on imposing a reductive, extremely literal modern bias.

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      2. Obviously it isn’t easy to refute the claim that Christianity is based on the Bible. You certainly have not convinced me in the slightest that you aren’t going by those texts. Where did the words in the Bible come from? They came from oral tradition that people used for centuries prior to the creation of the Bible. So what you had was tribe after tribe talking to one another, sharing their legends and their renditions of what may or may not have happened. After a long time, scribes wrote things down. Now, the written words that our now printed Bibles are based on have been clearly altered through the centuries. All one needs to do is look at the earliest known texts and compare them to the copies made after. Were there changes? Yes. Were some of them minor errors? Yes. Were some completely obvious forgeries? Also yes. If the written word was clearly shown to have been altered, how can we trust that the people from different groups using word-of-mouth prior to writing it down kept their stories straight year after year after year? We simply can’t.
        So yes, obviously before there was a Bible, people were talking. The stories that are in the Bible are millennia old. Playing the child’s “telephone” game is not the best way to keep an accurate account of anything that has happened. People are flawed. If someone tells someone else a story and they they tell someone else and then they tell someone else, etc…the story will get changed. Human nature and imperfect people ensure this to be true. The fact is that not one of us alive today was alive when these stories originated. There is simply no way to know what is true, what is false and what is in between.
        People who lived before the Bible was created used a very, very error-filled way of communicating their stories. At some point, these stories were written down. It is still all hearsay. 100% of it. Without some sort of evidence (not paint by numbers at all) it is all trust and not truth. You seem to trust that Christianity would be here and would survive without the Bible. Without the Bible, we would still be using word of mouth and have a completely untrustworthy story having been based on “this person told this person and then that person told another person and they told someone else” until the story eventually gets to your own ears. Christianity today is 100% based on the Bible which was based on oral tradition. You don’t know of any of the Christianity story from outside sources. If you do, then you heard it from the old “word-of-mouth” source, which is the same source the Bible was written from. It is completely untrustworthy. If you do trust it, you do so by faith alone, not truth.
        Truth requires evidence. Faith requires belief. You can choose to believe anything you want. If you choose to believe in ancient hearsay, then that is your business. Trusting in another person’s word rather than seeing for yourself is not something we do in most situations. Religion is an exception. People tend to also believe in stories when taught by someone they trust, especially when taught at a young age. That is why so many kids believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. These stories were taught to them by someone they trust. It does not make them true.
        The Bible is the source of Christianity today. Oral tradition was the source prior to that. Both are still hearsay and both require complete faith in order to believe. Is there evidence for the Bible being true? No. Is there evidence that the oral tradition that inspired the words of the Bible was true? No. It’s still faith. It’s still trust. It’s still a personal choice whether you believe or not. It will never be a universal truth because that would require at least one shred of evidence that all could see. If there was one tiny piece of evidence that any of it was true we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. @Ben: See my previous responses. With respect, I don’t see anything in your last comment that I have not already responded to.

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      4. It seems you are done with this conversation as you keep avoiding questions and then claim you’ve adequately answered them. That’s fine. We can be done now. I’ll ask you one more question and you don’t have to answer it. Just think about it. What is your purpose as a Christian? Is it just for you to be saved and reach Heaven or to is it to bring others to Jesus? If it is to bring others to Jesus then you need to be able to show skeptics, unbelievers and atheists something that makes them change their mind. Simply repeating yourself over and over when someone says they need more proof than just words doesn’t bring anyone closer to truth. It just keeps you satisfied that you’re right and helps you continue in the life you’ve been comfortable in.

        I will leave it at that. Take care.

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  9. I never pretended to have “the truth”, much less aspired to “lead” anyone to “the truth”. That’s on them. No mortal possesses “the truth”. There are no stone tablets containing “the truth”. That’s your inner fundamentalist talking (and a tenacious little devil he is [note: before you demand “proof” that devils exist, that was a metaphor]).

    My only purpose in commenting originally was to point out the rather obvious possibility that your prayer was answered with a challenge to grow closer to God by moving beyond the faith you had outgrown. I soon learned that I had seriously underestimated the hold of the fundamentalist mindset.

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    1. I’m not sure you know what fundamentalism means. I seriously think you are confusing me with someone else. I’ve never been a fundamentalist anything, let alone a fundamentalist Christian. If you make a claim and someone asks you to back that claim up, the person asking you to back it up is not automatically a religious fundamentalist. They just want to know how you know something. If you say you believe in Jesus and I say, “Well that’s great. How can I believe like that? Where is your evidence that Jesus is real and not only real, but a savior?”, that’s not being someone who is strict and by the book. I don’t need you or anyone to go line by line and show me how each word of the Bible is true. Asking for evidence does not make one a fundamentalist. It makes them a seeker of truth. That’s all. Evidence doesn’t have to be eyewitness testimony, a photograph of the subject at hand or even a recording. It does not need to be anything like a stone tablet as you suggested. You seem to be confusing someone who asks questions with someone heavily indoctrinated and influenced by the church.

      All evidence that is requested can be simplified into this question: “What makes you sure you are right and how can I know that?” That’s it. That’s the type of evidence I was asking for. I don’t need you provide stone tablets or historical documents to prove anything to me. If you say you believe (In the Bible, God, Jesus or anything else) then explain why you believe and how you can be sure you are right. That’s it. Simple, right? If you know you are right, then you should also know why you are right. If you know that, then explaining it to someone who doesn’t share your beliefs should be easy. Anything that I know about in life, I can explain to someone else. Anything I don’t know, I can’t adequately explain. I’m not asking for you or anyone else to explain God to me. I know that people love saying God cannot be understood by mere mortals. I’m asking for people to explain themselves when they make claims about their own beliefs. That’s all I asked. If you believe in God’s word, explain why and how you know that it’s truth. If you believe so strongly in it, then surely there must be a reason for that belief.

      For anyone reading this, here is the definition of a fundamentalist: “a person who believes in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture in a religion.”

      If I had ever once said that I believe every last word of the Bible must be true then you would be right to accuse me of being a fundamentalist. However, what I said was that at least SOME of it needed to be true in order for any faith in its content to be valid. SOME. If NONE of it is true, then there is no reason any sane person should feel the need to have it be part of their life. If none of it needs to be true for you to believe, then where does your faith come from? Divine inspiration? Personal revelation? If you think that within scripture, God’s words reside, then at least some of it needs to be true. If you cannot point to one part as being true and instead saying it’s open to interpretation, I fail to see the need for any of it.

      Here’s what’s frustrating about this conversation. I ask how you know what you claim to be true is, in fact, true. You didn’t answer that. You referenced the Bible. I then asked how you know it’s true and you answered with it’s a mix of poetry, allegory, and fiction. So I asked how you know which part is which and what parts are true. You did not answer that question. You speak as if you know a lot about spirituality and have an understanding of scripture. But you still cannot explain why you believe it to be true. You say that that God doesn’t work like everything else does. There’s no hard evidence that can prove the story. Okay. Fine. What does prove it then? There needs to be something you can point to that you can say “This is why I believe.” If there isn’t something you can point to that shows why you believe, then how can you expect others to believe? You also said that leading others to truth is not your job. It’s on them. That’s a very interesting statement coming from a Christian, considering nearly all branches of Christianity say that leading others to Jesus (AKA “the truth”) for the kingdom is the most important thing we can do while here on earth. Some even go so far as to say it’s “the meaning of life.” If God’s word is not the truth and Jesus is not the truth, then Christianity is also not the truth, correct? If it’s all true however, then shouldn’t there be a way for all of us to know that? If someone does know the truth and does not share it, what good can come of it?

      So you can continue believing what you want, both about religion and about me. That’s fine. But you need to realize that asking someone who says they believe, why they believe, is a reasonable request. Strict, literal interpretations of the Bible are not necessary to answer why you personally believe and explain to someone how you personally know that you are right.

      For the record, I never “demanded” anything from you or anyone else. I asked you questions which you summarily dodged each time. Instead of answering my questions, you accused me of having fundamentalist beliefs which could not be further from the truth. If someone asks me why I do not believe any longer, I can provide reason after reason why that is. In fact, I’d be happy to offer that information. If someone asked me why I believed back when I was a believer though, I (like you and many other Christians) would have had a hard time explaining it to someone else. I know now that it was because it was how I was raised and I took it all on faith, not truth. I couldn’t point to anything other than the Bible as my evidence because there was no actual evidence. If someone had asked me why I believed in the Bible, I could only offer that it was my personal belief that it was true. It may not have been the best reason, but it was the truth of why I believed. I believed in it because it felt right and it was how I was raised. That’s it.

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      1. Why do I believe in the fables, allegories and hearsay of the Christian faith; in the testimony of a great cloud of witnesses; in twenty centuries of inspired thought, reflection, scholarship, exegesis, commentary, debates, teaching, and preaching; and above all in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

        My personal beliefs are not the subject of this discussion, but for the sake of friendly dialog I’ll momentarily look past the red herring. I believe in the above because on the whole they provide the best account I’ve heard so far for discerning what matters, why we matter, and how to create lives that matter.

        Do I know I’m right? Of course not. All I can know is that it’s my personal best judgement at a point in time, entirely contingent on subsequent learning. To the extent other faith traditions do also offer valuable insights and truths, the more the merrier. (I hasten to add, however, that from what I can detect, atheistic materialism has little to offer.) If you’ve got something better, Ben, then by all means let’s hear it, and why you believe it.

        One more time: Very little that matters is “knowable” in the simplistic, reductive, absolutist sense that you want to be the case. Each of us has to fumble our own way toward the truth — painfully, incrementally — through the use of reason, discernment, and the brains God gave us.

        Your turn: Do you believe, for instance, that all people have the same inherent rights? What makes you sure you are right and how can I know that? Where is your proof of the truth of this proposition?

        You say, “If someone asks me why I do not believe any longer, I can provide reason after reason why that is. In fact, I’d be happy to offer that information.” Please go right ahead. You can leave out any points having to do with the historicity or provenance of the Bible. We’ve already gone over that.

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      2. Red herrings, strawmen, hand-waving and a few other select words seem to be the standard responses when a believer is confronted by a nonbeliever. It’s about you controlling the discussion and keeping the ball in your own court. This is a conversation though, not just a one answer only response to the post topic which was about unanswered prayer. But, I’ll ignore the condescending implications of your accusations and move on.

        Now, you say that you believe in things which are unprovable because of your best judgement. Because it’s “the best account I’ve heard so far” That’s not a strong enough argument in my opinion any more than saying I believe in mermaids because the existence of mermaids is the best explanation of why some fishermen claimed to have seen them. It is a personal choice and you are more then welcome to believe what you want. I can’t tell you what to think any more than you can tell me what I should think. But out of nearly 8 billion people on earth, just over 2 billion people are Christians. Why is that? If this is the best explanation we have, why do so many reject it?

        You said: “Very little that matters is “knowable” in the simplistic, reductive, absolutist sense that you want to be the case. Each of us has to fumble our own way toward the truth — painfully, incrementally — through the use of reason, discernment, and the brains God gave us.”

        This is a great example of an opportunity where we could simply say, “I don’t know.” There is nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know” when you really don’t know. We don’t have to cling to religion or non-religion in every circumstance. You ask me if I believe that we all have the same inherent rights and how I can know that. I would say, we all have the same rights as members of a society. As a member of the human race who all need to work together for our survival and our enjoyment, having the same rights is essential. Do I think we were created this way? I don’t know. Do I think we evolved to be this way? I don’t know. My position on things, oftentimes, is simply based on what I think, not necessarily on evidence. I can admit that. I can’t just go to the default answer of “God did it” when I don’t have a better answer. Honesty is always the best policy and if the honest answer is “I don’t know” then just say “I don’t know.” I don’t need to prove my position of “I don’t have the answers” because my position doesn’t have eternal consequences. Religion does. That’s why the burden of proof is on the believer. If someone simply says “I believe in God” and that was it, no one would care. If that same person adds “We all need to believe and follow this God because if we don’t, then an eternity of pain and misery will follow” then that’s totally different. Now you are applying consequences to your belief and most people want to know why they should believe that before signing up.

        Again, I don’t have all of the answers. I never have had all of the answers. When I was a believer, I would say, “It’s one of God’s mysteries” or I’d say “we’re not meant to know that answer this side of heaven.” A God of the gaps is an excuse, not evidence. A “science of the gaps” is no better. If there is a “gap” and we don’t have an answer, we need to be unashamed when we answer with “I simply do not know.”

        Why do I not believe? I can answer this in a very simple way. All I was taught to believe has no merit. None of it adds up the way I was told it would and nothing in this life of mine would indicate any prayers have been answered. The historical evidence we have points to the Bible being written in a style similar of other myths and seems to have heavily plagiarized early religions’ stories. But, historicity and provenance aside, the Bible (or the stories passed down through the millennia) has no verifiable elements to it. The stories are just stories without evidence. The messages contained within it either cannot be proven or have been determined to be false. I see no evidence of Jesus anywhere outside of the Bible or in the oral tradition of Christianity. Any mention of Jesus outside of the Bible in ancient literature simply mention a man who was killed. Many men were once killed back then. There is not one mention of his divinity, his miracles or anything else supernatural about him…except in the Bible. If we are to toss that aside and not be so “fundamental” about the Jesus story, there would be no story. There is no evidence, (physical, historical, literary or otherwise) to corroborate the story of our creation, of the great flood, the exodus, the Apostles or Jesus that the Bible speaks of. These are simply stories that need to be believed in based solely on faith. I don’t have blind faith any longer. It’s not being a fundamentalist to tell someone that if you use a story for your evidence, you need to show why you believe it and where the proof is. Not believing in a story requires no proof. The unbeliever is just saying that your story has left them unconvinced. Does that mean the unbeliever has a better story? No. It just means that your story has holes in it and needs evidence to believe it. I don’t need to provide an answer if I don’t have one. If I don’t know something, I’m not going to just make something up just to have a counterpoint. The Christian religion relies on Biblical stories as its foundation. Even if you say historicity does not matter, it does matter if you expect people to agree that it is worth following. Saying that truth is truth if you just believe it and that’s good enough, you’ll find that is not very convincing. If there is no proof necessary for the stories to be real, what methods can be used to show a skeptic that they are real? Just believe and hope for the best?

        Again, I’m not looking for a “set in stone” type of thing for evidence. You seem to think that I have something in mind that I would consider evidence and that if you provide anything other than that, I’d reject it. I never said anything like that. I am open to any evidence of any kind…other than faith. Personal belief is personal and isn’t going to convince anyone. Belief in something simply because you believe in it is not evidence. It may convince you, but not others. I can’t convince anyone of my beliefs. I just offer what I do know, why I know it and rely on what evidence we have before us. If I don’t know something, then you won’t hear me preaching it. You won’t see me knocking on doors trying to sell it. No one on earth has all of the answers. If anyone claims to have the answers, then they need to provide evidence. If they can’t, then they are selling faith based on personal beliefs of certain stories. Once more, you can certainly believe in anything you wish. You can believe in ghosts, bigfoot and UFO’s if you wish. Nobody really cares too much about these things. However, If you start a religion based on any of these things and threaten eternal consequences for nonbelief (as the Christian religion does) then people take notice.

        You seem to believe because you have not yet heard a better explanation for life and why things matter. That’s fine and you are entitled to that belief. You are certainly welcome to believing and living your life accordingly. I’m not here saying that you should change anything about yourself. If you want to believe in something, by all means continue doing so. If you want to show a nonbeliever “the light”, though, then personal beliefs will not suffice.

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      3. @Ben: Let’s step back. My starting premise is the old saying that the unexamined life is not worth living. An examined life means engaging with the most basic questions, for example: Who am I? So what? Now what? What matters, why do I matter, how do I create a life that matters?

        Unless we’re just going to sleepwalk through life, we have to face these questions and develop a personal philosophy. If it’s fair to ask people about the convictions that guide their life, then it’s fair to ask everyone (even the non-religious). They (you) don’t get a pass.

        So I repeat: If you’ve got something better, let’s hear it. If not Christianity, then what philosophical wellspring do you find provides a better basis for discerning what matters, why we matter, and how to create lives that matter? As importantly, how does this stack up against your own stated criteria? How or why do you believe it? You can’t just say, “I don’t know,” if by that you mean you mean your mind is a blank slate and you have no convictions.

        On the other hand, all of us should say (as I did above), “I don’t know I’m right,” meaning we don’t have perfect knowledge, and our knowledge and convictions are always provisional to some degree. All that we can know for sure is our own personal best judgement at a point in time.

        As I’ve made clear above, I don’t presume it’s up to me to show anyone the light or lead them to the truth, other than by reasoning together. I’m not pushing my personal beliefs at all, only responding to you. I’m not preaching or knocking on doors (much less talking about an eternity of pain and misery!). As should be quite clear by now, I don’t advocate blind faith (or faith alone, scripture alone, etc.)

        I’m not trying to persuade anyone of anything other than my original point: namely, that it’s a false choice to think that the only alternative to blind or childish faith is no faith.

        Christianity is not based on historical artifacts or doctrines, but on the faithfulness of the Jewish people, as understood by Jesus and his followers. The faithfulness of the Jews is evident in their lives (and sometimes needs to be more evident in the lives of alleged Christians).

        Studying the historical origins of the Judeo-Christian faith makes for a fascinating academic exercise, but that’s about it. Anyone with a sincere interest in understanding that faith isn’t going to get very far if they think they must first nail down all the historical particulars beyond a reasonable doubt. The starting point for understanding has to be in observing and sincerely reflecting on how at least some authentic Christians and Jews manage to live out that historical faithfulness in today’s world.

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      4. Okay, let’s step back. Let’s take a breath and review a few things. You said that you don’t know if the Bible is true or not. You said that it’s not your job to lead anyone to truth. You also said that it doesn’t matter if the Bible is factually correct because it’s not meant to be read that way. I apologize for presuming you believed in these things. I think what led me to believe them was the fact that you said you were a Christian. I assumed you believed in these things as a Christian because these things are found in the “statements of faith” for EVERY SINGLE branch of Christianity. With of course the one exception (Catholicism) which relies on church over the Bible and the Nicene Creed over doing works for Christ. But, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Pentecostals and even Mormons believe in the truth of the Bible and the fact that our purpose here is to do good works for Christ and lead people to him by spreading “the Good News.” Praying to Mary, confessing to priests instead of to God directly and calling priests “father” all go against biblical teaching so I can see why the Bible is not part of the Catholic “statement of faith.”

        If you are suggesting that all of the things that Christians agree upon don’t matter then you are going against all Christian doctrine and instead are adopting a “buffet-style” religion. Picking and choosing which parts to cling to and which parts to ignore. Again, you are more than entitled to believe whatever you want to and live your life any way you want. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s no one’s business but your own. But when you claim to be a Christian and then say the basic tenets of Christianity do not matter, people get a bit confused, myself included. Please, by all means do what makes you happy in life, but be prepared for anyone who knows what Christianity (not to be confused with just a belief in Jesus or being a fan of Jesus) is supposed to be about, to question you.

        Now as far as me getting a “pass”, I’m not sure if I should laugh that comment off or address it. I guess I’ll address it. If you say you are a Christian, that usually means (with of course that one exception called Catholicism) that you believe in the Bible as fact (or at least containing facts) and believe that our purpose is to spread the Gospel to all people by being good disciples. If you say that’s not what you believe, then an explanation is necessary or else you are the one getting the pass. If I say I do not agree with Christianity as a religion built on truth and I find evidence for it lacking, that doesn’t mean I have to come up with a better, more believable alternative. Let me explain with a fictitious scenario with two people discussing Aurora Borealis. You know, the northern lights? Let’s call these two people Bill and Sally:

        Bill: “Isn’t this beautiful Sally?”
        Sally: “It sure is Bill.”
        Bill: “Do you know what causes these lights to appear?”
        Sally: “No, what?”
        Bill: “Magic. 100% magic.”
        Sally: “No, that cannot possibly be correct. You can’t back that up.”
        Bill: “Do you have a better explanation for why these lights appear?”
        Sally: “Well no. I never really thought about it and I never took the time to do research on the subject.”
        Bill: “Well, if you have nothing better to offer as an alternative, then magic it is.”

        Do you see the flaw in this logic? Is Bill right because Sally couldn’t offer an alternative? Of course not. Just because someone is unconvinced by someone’s beliefs DOES NOT mean that they have a better explanation or need to come up with one. I do not believe in the Christian story because there is no evidence to back it up. I don’t know enough about evolution or the Big Bang or any other scientific theory to say I know what the alternative is. If I say 2+2=7 to someone who has no clue how to do math and they say “I don’t think that’s right” but can’t come up with the answer for themselves, does that mean my math is right? No. It just means that the other person disagrees. Asking for a better alternative is called deflection. It is what people do when they can’t adequately defend their position.

        You mentioned that giving up my “childish faith” shouldn’t mean making the leap to “no faith.” What are you suggesting? Believe in something just to say you believe in something? If you had been following my blog for the last 3 years or so you would know that I am always searching for truth. I am always learning and trying to figure things out. But, since I still don’t know what the actual truth is and what our purpose is I will not just jump to faith as a default response. I do not consider myself an atheist because I DO NOT KNOW enough to rule God out. But I also DO NOT SEE enough evidence to say I believe. So yes, in my case, “I don’t know” is the appropriate response. It’s not a pass, but my response to not being convinced by religion. I don’t need to say what we all should believe in to know what I DON’T believe in.

        What convictions “guide my life”? I don’t have any right now. I did, for most of my life. Then I investigated the doubt I had for years and found that I don’t really believe in it. Religion isn’t always the answer. It’s not, “well Christianity didn’t work out so what are my other religious options?” It’s more of, “I don’t believe in Christianity any longer so I will just live my life the best I can.” What drives me? What keeps me going? My family. My wife. My kids. My friends. The people in my life that are always there for me drive me more than an absent god ever did. Is there more to life than what we can see? Maybe. Should I devote myself to religion “just in case”? The old “Pascal’s Wager” way of life? If God was watching me live that way, he would not be fooled. I can’t just believe to say I believe or have some kind of faith because it’s “better than nothing.”

        I think that you think because you have a belief system and a “faith” that guides your life, then everyone must have one. If not Christianity, then some other belief system. Some people (whether they want to or not) just live their lives. It may sound bleak to people who believe in eternity. But without proof, eternity is just a nice thought that is more comforting than just having life end and then have nothing more. I’m not going to pretend I have an alternative just to say I have one. I’m also not going to say that because I don’t have a better belief system than Christianity, that Christianity is right. That’s absurd.

        Look, we can just keep going around and around or we can just be honest. You believe in something that I don’t. You don’t know for sure you are right and I don’t see any reason to try to come up with an alternative answer. I will always be searching. I will always be striving to find truth wherever it is. No matter where truth leads me, I will follow. I can’t, and won’t, ever follow something I do not believe in, even if that means living a life that simply ends when I die. You are free to believe whatever you want to and I am free to say I disagree with it, but let people do what they wish. I don’t write blog posts to stir up trouble or to make enemies. I also don’t feel that I need to come up with “something” when I do not know the answer. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to either. I will leave it at that and I wish you the best. Take care.

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      5. Protestants are only about 37% of Christians worldwide. Catholic and Orthodox are 62%. Now I’m sure you can come up with reasons to reject Catholicism and Orthodoxy as well, but if we’re going to be honest, then we should at least be accurate, and acknowledge that the only faith you’re familiar with — the basis for your complaints — is not historical Christianity, but rather a minority viewpoint, i.e., conservative Protestantism. I largely agree with your criticisms of that faith. But that faith is by no means synonymous with Christianity.

        And there’s the nub of our disagreement: Whether it’s reasonable to throw out the whole bushel because of one bad apple.

        It was Socrates who said the unexamined life is not worth living, so it’s not my idea nor primarily a Christian idea. It doesn’t have to lead to religion. But it is still sage advice.

        As for Bill and Sally, I’m afraid they completely miss the point. If you ask me my philosophy and how I justify it, it’s entirely fair to ask you the same question. No, you don’t have to come up with something better. But if can’t, you have no real basis to criticize my position.

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      6. Loy, you’ve just nailed why there are so many disagreements among believers.

        Catholics do NOT have the inside track when it comes to Christianity any more than Orthodox or Protestants. The very fact there are so many “interpretations” of what was written down several thousand years ago by numerous and unknown individuals should be evidence enough that it’s all to be taken with a grain of salt.

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      7. I’m not criticizing your position if it is your sincere belief. You are free to believe whatever your heart desires. I’m saying that if there are no facts to back it up, then there is not enough to convince someone else. Where, you say it’s not your job to convince anyone, that’s not a big deal. I don’t think it is my place to tell you what to think and how to live. I’m just saying that without evidence (even a tiny smidge of evidence) then it’s all just stories. If evidence presents itself further down the line that corroborates these stories then I will gladly look at it and accept it as truth if truth it is.

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      8. @Ben: If you take away nothing else from this exchange, I hope at least you can acknowledge that very little that truly matters is knowable from “evidence” alone. I have a settled conviction that all people have the same inherent rights. You will find no evidence anywhere for that proposition. We know it’s true by the light of reason and prudence, not because of facts and data.

        If I had claimed, as you formerly did, that my religious convictions are based only on the factual reliability of accounts from the Bible, then it would be reasonable for you to ask me for factual substantiation. But I don’t make that claim. I have explicitly disclaimed it, or any notion that Bible accounts should be taken at face value. Yet you keep reverting to that template from the bad old days. With respect, I’m not sure how to square that with striving to find truth wherever it is (even in stories).

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      9. @Nan: As noted above, I haven’t pushed my personal beliefs at all, I’ve only mentioned them when prompted. My point here was simply to point out a glaring and misleading inaccuracy — that is, in attributing to an entire religion complaints that are specific to a minority faction within it. (And yes, I agree that all sides of this discussion should be taken with a dose of salt.)

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    2. @ LOY

      Exactly how would anyone know if a prayer had been answered?
      As you obviously believe in the power of prayer, will you please offer us an example of a personal experience that confirmed prayer worked for you.
      Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excellent question. I am interested in hearing from anyone who can verify answered prayer. As someone who has prayed for most of his life with zero results, I would very much like to hear how you can know a prayer has been answered. Perhaps I’ve been praying incorrectly or for the wrong things. That’s what I’ve heard in the past from Christians when I tell them my prayers went unanswered. Maybe someone with more experience can enlighten the rest of us.

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      2. Pleased to oblige. Every day I pray for an increase in love for my atheist sisters and brothers, and behold, I find that I love all of you more today than yesterday (but not as much as tomorrow).

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      3. What a shame that such love is not reciprocated.
        Although I confess to a rather large dollop of derision with a smidgen of pity.
        However,in the face of your obdurate intransigence and flagrant willful ignorance – may I suggest as a result of indoctrination? – such pity is beginning to thin out like the watery cabbage soup Charlie Bucket was obliged to eat.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I shouldn’t even respond to this, as your subtle facetiousness in your response was not so subtle. But, that aside, do you have any real examples of prayers being answered? I mean real answers, not something like “I prayed that an earthquake never happens in my neighborhood and behold, my house is still standing without the slightest tremor ever having shaken my dishes.”

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    1. I would apologize for writing such a long comment on my blog or any other, but sometimes you just need to let it all out in order to make sure someone gets the point you’re trying to make. It doesn’t always work, but it’s always worth the effort.

      Thanks for the link and for thinking enough of my post to share it. Much appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Not sure I should add to this discussion. Everyone is gonna have their own belief and sometimes anger at those beliefs. I can barely call myself a Christian but I still believe God exists. I even believe that God hears me.

    Yesterday, after an extremely trying week I made an ultimatum with God in the shower. Maybe some would say it’s just wishful thinking but I was pissed at God and told him so. I essentially told him to throw me a bone or we were done. Interestingly, 3 things happened that seemed to convince me that God does hear me. These 3 things were roadblocks that I had been dealing with for months with no solution. One of them was trying to get SSI for my autistic daughter. I couldn’t locate a number to see where they were at as far as processing her application. When I did call, the lady I talked to told me i couldn’t discuss a thing with them unless I showed up in person. I threw my hands up in the air and told myself “screw it”. I was so mad and upset that I was getting no where with her autism services stuff and I hit every wall possible. So it shocked me when on that very day I prayed, I get a phone call saying she was approved and that she wanted to process it as soon as possible. What?! 2 other things just as obnoxious also resolved that day too and so now I’m back to considering that I’ve been bitter at God. Maybe he does care. I can’t believe these 3 things are just coincidence so therefore, I’ve opened my heart up a little to the possibility that God does care. No he isn’t a genie and I also don’t claim to get it, but I can’t buy he doesn’t hear me. I know he does. But I do understand why many believe he doesn’t. God is quite the enigma to me these days. I think the biblical explanations confuse things too. Again, not saying I have it figured out but God seems to show himself and I feel it’s my job to not shut him out. Good luck to you as you figure out your own way. Faith, if we believe, must be our own.

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    1. I have had many times in my life where I prayed for something and had it happen. I would praise God and believe it was an answered prayer. But I’ve had similar experiences since leaving my praying days behind me where things work out. Does that mean God’s answering prayers I don’t even pray or were my once-answered prayers actually just a coincidence? I always leaned towards prayers being actually answered when things went my way and used the “it must not have been in God’s plan” when things didn’t go my way. Looking back on all prayers that appeared to have been answered, I cannot prove that they were any more than coincidence. I’ve had way more important prayers go unanswered in my life than the ones I interpreted to be answered. Things like “give me more faith” or “help me love you more, God” or even “God, I’m losing faith in you. Please do not let me go.” My “answered prayers” of issues with money and other trivial things seem completely insignificant to the unanswered ones of my relationship to God, or healing my dying father or keeping my daughter alive when we lost her.

      I won’t judge anyone who believes in answered prayer. If people choose to believe that, then they certainly may. I just do not see it. Coincidence and random chance seem to play a major role in whether prayers get answered or are ignored. I am willing to be proven wrong. I’d love to find out that God is real and does answer us when we call out to him, but having been ignored when I asked for him to comfort me and draw me close, I’m not holding my breath.

      I am happy things with your daughter worked out for you. I hope that eases your mind a bit and allows some peace into your life. It is much deserved and a long time coming. I wish you the best.

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