Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic and a dyslexic?I give.You get someone who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there's a dog.
As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think that I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because, when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.
Let's say I have a mystical soul and a rational brain, and, like Montaigne, I am incapable of choosing between them. I don't know if I believe in God, but I am often tempted to believe.
Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?
The Bible has noble poetry in it... and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies.
There was a time when skepticism was an act of rebellion. Since to a degree I both believe in evolution and have faith, I can only conclude that, as prophesied, to have faith will someday be an act of rebellion.
It is debatable whether blind faith is truly faith at all. Faith is the perceptive gray area where scientific facts meet an individual's experiential truths - the extreme of the former is left feeling in the dark whereas the latter is caught blinded by the light. By proper scientific method, it is intellectually dishonest for me to declare the existence of God with utmost certainty, but to my individual spirit, I would be intellectually dishonest to deny the existence of God even for a second. This leaves the best of both worlds, as the believer is called to be able to give reasons for his faith, a deviation from mere fantasy.
If God existed (a question concerning which Jubal maintained a meticulous intellectual neutrality) and if He desired to be worshiped (a proposition which Jubal found inherently improbable but conceivably possible in the dim light of his own ignorance), then (stipulating affirmatively both the above) it nevertheless seemed wildly unlikely to Jubal to the point of reductio ad absurdum that a God potent to shape galaxies would be titillated and swayed by the whoop-te-do nonsense the Fosterites offered Him as worship.
The whole war between the atheist and the theist comes down to this: the atheist believes a 'what' created the universe, the theist believes a 'who' created the universe.
My lack of faith in God is not a dilapidated house.It does not need to be razed to the ground or burned down to cinders.I refuse to be the wounded woman on a crossthat you crucify with your disapproval like nails;I will only be the woman who believes in thunderstormsthe same way lightning loves the tops of trees it strikesevery time it gets tired of being pent up in an unforgiving sky,the only difference is that I believe these are natural weather phenomenons,not God’s belly rumbling or synapses firing.When my doorway is filled with groups of peoplewielding religious conversion pamphlets like crossbows,I will be the martyr who steps aside to let the arrowscrack through the plaster in my wall instead of piercing my chest.This is not a eulogy to the believer I could have been.This is a battle cry to the believer I always have been,believer in sunsets like splashes of paint, handholdinglike willow branches brushing one another, new morningsafter old nights spent drowning in despair, believerin love as an entire language instead of a single word.Just because my beliefs align themselves on a different spectrumdoes not mean they are the wrong wavelength or color.And even though I think the universe was created by the Big Banginstead of a God with magic dust shooting from his fingertips,my universe does not contain fewer stars.
I believe in God the way I believe in quarks. People whose business it is to know about quantum physics or religion tell me they have good reason to believe that quarks and God exist. And they tell me that if I wanted to devote my life to learning what they've learned, I'd find quarks and God just like they did.
Think outside the box? Indeed. But to add balance to that, one should not in the process forget what the inside of the box looks like as well. Those who are best at thinking outside the box do it not to puff themselves up, but to see how small they really are. As a contented fish in its fish tank appears to have a small, boring existence to us, imagine a larger, more perceptive kingdom (even by scientific taxonomy) to whom our contented existences may appear to be small and boring. This is where true creativity and massive perceptive abilities spawn a sense of intellectual humility; the kind which God adores.
We all ought to understand we're on our own. Believing in Santa Claus doesn't do kids any harm for a few years but it isn't smart for them to continue waiting all their lives for him to come down the chimney with something wonderful. Santa Claus and God are cousins.
Of all the major religions, or lack thereof, the atheist's is one of the best pretenders: his foundation for all existences, as well as moral behaviors for the permanent good of mankind, begins at science but ends at himself, the Napoleon complex of both intelligence and imagination. On the other hand the anti-theist wouldn't survive without a deity beyond himself to hunt. He doesn't pretend, he simply nullifies his own position.
The typical atheist rebels against God as a teenager rebels against his parents. When his own desires or standards are not fulfilled in the way that he sees fit, he, in revolt, storms out of the house in denial of the Word of God and in scrutiny of a great deal of those who stand by the Word of God. The epithet 'Heavenly Father' is a grand reflection, a relation to that of human nature.
The position of the Atheist is a clear and reasonable one. I know nothing about ‘God’ and therefore I do not believe in Him or in it; what you tell me about your God is self‐contradictory, and therefore incredible. I do not deny ‘God,’ which is an unknown tongue to me; I do deny your God, who is an impossibility. I am without God.
Man has 2 common problems with God: the one is that there is evil in the world; the other is that free will is limited. The one, he is charging that the world is too evil; the other is that it is not evil enough.
The human brain has the unique ability to doubt the reality presented to itself. To comprehend the dissonance between ideas and the truth of the surrounding world. God knows this, and it infuriates him. It terrifies him.
God's relationship with man does not work in a way in which man stumbles and then God has to drop what he is doing in order to lift him up; rather, man stumbles so that God can lift him up. Hence it is utterly impossible to truly diminish his glory.
We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That's it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.
To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
The only thing that guarantees an open-ended collaboration among human beings, the only thing that guarantees that this project is truly open-ended, is a willingness to have our beliefs and behaviors modified by the power of conversation.
Doubt is a question mark; faith is an exclamation point. The most compelling, believable, realistic stories have included them both.
The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.
It is taboo in our society to criticize a persons religious faith... these taboos are offensive, deeply unreasonable, but worse than that, they are getting people killed. This is really my concern. My concern is that our religions, the diversity of our religious doctrines, is going to get us killed. I'm worried that our religious discourse- our religious beliefs are ultimately incompatible with civilization.
What we do in every other area of our lives (other than religion), is, rather than respect somebody's beliefs, we evaluate their reasons.
A totally nondenominational prayer: Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that I be forgiven for anything I may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which I may be eligible after the destruction of my body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.
What I'm asking you to entertain is that there is nothing we need to believe on insufficient evidence in order to have deeply ethical and spiritual lives.
Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There`s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.
If faith is what you have to go on, if faith is the link between your beliefs and the world at large, your beliefs are very likely to be wrong. Beliefs can be right or wrong. If you believe you can fly, that belief is only true if indeed you can fly. Somebody who thinks he can fly, and is wrong about it, will eventually discover there's a problem with his view of the world.
We rely on faith only in the context of claims for which there is no sufficient sensory or logical evidence.
When the stakes are this high- when calling God by the right name can make the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, it is impossible to respect the beliefs of others who don't believe as you do.
The problem I want to talk to you about tonight is the problem of belief. What does it mean to believe? We use this word all the time, and I think behind it lurk some really extraordinary taboos and confusions. What I want to argue tonight is that how we talk about belief- how we fail to criticize or criticize the beliefs of others, has more importance to us personally, more consequence to us personally and to civilization than perhaps anything else that is in our power to influence.