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Opinion

Opinion

God’s presence is felt, not proven

March 3, 2011

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“That which is without quality cannot be measured, the invisible cannot be examined, the incorporeal cannot be weighed, the limitless cannot be compared, the incomprehensible does not admit of more or less.” — Gregory of Nyssa (fourth century Christian philosopher)

“I am that I am.” — Exodus 3:14

Occasionally, I manage to tick off an atheist.

It is not something I set out to do. Usually it results from some passing comment reflecting my belief that God is. As in a recent column on Lara Logan, the CBS reporter sexually assaulted in Egypt. I wrote that she is “deserving of our compassion, our empathy and our prayers.” This drove a reader named Patricia to her keyboard.

There ensued a brief colloquy whose highlights on her part included: “Please stop the superstitious nonsense.” And, “Keep the public naive and stupid.” And, “An atheist is absent of belief and willing to change their position when evidence is presented. When you mention prayer, you are acting as an evangelist promoting an irrational act.”

And here, allow me to establish that I support the right of people to believe — or not believe — as they wish. Indeed, if you’ll forgive the cliché, some of my best friends and co-workers are nonbelievers.

This would include Terry Jackson, a Miami Herald editor who died of cancer two years ago. I remember telling him I would pray for him. “I’m a pretty hard core atheist,” T.J. warned, but he added that he would take any help he could get.

I always thought there was a lot of grace in that response. It’s a grace that is usually missing when atheist readers question me on issues of faith.

Indeed, I find myself struck by the similarity between certain atheists and fundamentalists. Meaning the ones who can always tell you exactly what’s on God’s mind and even what He had for breakfast this morning. God did this, they say, because He didn’t like those people, did that because that country ticked Him off. Funnily enough, God’s likes and dislikes always seem to exactly match theirs.

There is a certain hubris in them that is mirrored in the declaration that God does not exist because our telescopes cannot see Him nor our equations prove Him. It was only a minute ago, as the universe measures time, that our kind was scared of fire, so our faith in our tools to now definitively disprove God is as arrogant as it is amusing.

Show me evidence, says Patricia, and I will reconsider. She makes the same error fundamentalists make when they try to force schools to teach from the book of Genesis: She imposes upon one discipline the standards of another rather than assessing it on its own terms — like a rap fan declaring Mozart invalid because Mozart had no beats.

To put that another way: God is not proven. God is felt. I know the subjectivity of that will give Patricia — and others — fits. Deal with it.

Last year, writer Marilynne Robinson published a book, “Absence of Mind,” whose purpose was less to prove the existence of God than the possibility of God. In a lyrical, profoundly thoughtful dissent, she took issue with the notion that because what is felt cannot be quantified, it is somehow invalid. Feeling is, after all, the most common of human experiences. She questioned “this defining of humankind by the exclusion of the things that in fact distinguish us as a species.”

And yes, I know: T.J. died despite my prayers. Why? demands the skeptic. I don’t know. When I see God, I’ll ask. The thing with me is, I’m OK with “I don’t know,” OK with the humility those words require, OK with what I can only feel and never prove by the tenets of science.

One of my favorite gospel songs says, “Over my head, I hear music in the air. There must be a God somewhere.”

I believe that. If that belief offends someone, I’m sorry.

But not really.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 10 months ago

"If that belief offends someone, I’m sorry."

I'm not offended, Leonard. Just not convinced that your "feelings" can in any way overcome the logical contradictions inherent in any belief in an all-powerful, omniscient, supernatural being.

Gene Wallace 3 years, 10 months ago

Your "God" does Not exist in my spiritual reality. Keep him in your home and place of worship and not in my face. I will do the same with my deity images and aspects. Freedom of Religion and from Religion means All Religions and Spiritual Realities.

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 10 months ago

Exactly! And that alone is reason enough to keep the Westboro Baptist Cult away from funerals. Freedom of speech?!? No Freedom from Religion! GTFO!

Haiku_Cuckoo 3 years, 10 months ago

So you publicly post on a message board to thousands of people that their god is not real and that they should keep their religious thoughts to themselves. Umm...Do you see the irony here?

Liberty275 3 years, 10 months ago

He uses the oxymoron 'spiritual reality". I doubt he will be able to spot irony in his post.

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

just wait until you figure out that there isn't a god(s), and then you'll understand why we feel double extra sorry for people who do.

shadowlady 3 years, 10 months ago

Just wait unti you FIND OUT there is a God, and your standing before Him on judgement day. Pretty scary to me!!!!

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 10 months ago

LOL! But you scare so easily... Get a grip! It's called reality...come join us!

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

"well I believe in Thor I feel so sorry for those who dont he is real not a mith" "well I believe in Ganesha I feel so sorry for those who dont he is real not a mith" "well I believe in Isis I feel so sorry for those who dont he is real not a mith" "well I believe in Kingu I feel so sorry for those who dont he is real not a mith" "well I believe in Loki I feel so sorry for those who dont he is real not a mith" "well I believe in Mithras I feel so sorry for those who dont he is real not a mith" it goes on and on and on.

conservative 3 years, 10 months ago

Sorry but that "feeling" you have could just as easily be one of the tentacles of the flying spaghetti monster reaching out to you. Belief in organized religion is mostly just an intellectual lie that allows a person to not have to take responsibility for figuring out how to solve their own problems. I won't dismiss the possibility that some more powerful being created our universe, however if that happened i have no reason to believe such a being cares if i spend an hour a week praising him in some randomly assigned building once a week. More likely we are more akin to bacteria in a forgotten petrie dish forgotten in the corner of the lab.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

"Belief in organized religion is mostly just an intellectual lie that allows a person to not have to take responsibility for figuring out how to solve their own problems."

And to not take responsibility for screwing up. It was God's will that (insert whatever here) happened, not something they did.

Larry Miller 3 years, 10 months ago

The problem with your statement is that you can do research and find out if there is something going on. If you had, for instance, a set of predictions spread over 2 or 3 thousand years that had all come true I think that would imply more than a random chance. I'd think you would want to look a little closer at the rest of the included documentation. If you did, you would find out a lot of other information that would be relevant to your belief system.

libra101 3 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, because it is so hard for man to write a book that answers all the questions posed in a book previously written by another man. You can't even provide evidence that Jesus actually existed as a man, let alone as a crazy guy who claimed he was god.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I think there is substantive evidence that Jesus existed.

And, I think that there are many beliefs about him that are simply inaccurate, like the idea that he claimed to be god, or the only child of god, etc.

TheYetiSpeaks 3 years, 10 months ago

It does? I must have missed that day of class.

pace 3 years, 10 months ago

Boy everyone is so wrong. The is a god and he is real and he phoned me. He explained that wall street and bankers were largely to blame for the current economy. I asked him why he didn't do something to reveal that to the people. I said some people thought it was because teachers were asking for pensions and others that it was because of the two guys in Western Kansas wanted to get married. He said, no it was mostly wall street guys and some bankers. I asked again, why didn't he reveal that. He said he did but the government misfiled the papers and he even told the press but they were busy covering Lindsey and Charley someone. I wished him luck, he wished me luck and said we would talk again.

Getaroom 3 years, 10 months ago

Getaroom (anonymous) says… As if anyone needs your blessings. There must be a mirror in your place somewhere, check out the guy looking back at you and recognize that your posts are as racist and bigoted as any. Your comments about Pitts and Obama are proof enough. Cold empty hearts? Always have a second look in the mirror before you cast your stones.

ThatGirl2 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm curious why you would assume non-belief equates a cold and/or empty heart. My heart is full of love, joy, and inclusion. I know far more people with closed hearts in the name of their God.

andrew55 3 years, 10 months ago

"The fool has said in his heart there is no God...." Psalm 14:1.

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

and if you were using a manipulative device such as religion, to control the masses, wouldn't you want to make anyone who disagrees look like a fool?

"He who buys into a dogma made up by men from the bronze age, and holds tightly to those concepts in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary, is a delusional moron" -AreUNorml 3:3:11

Getaroom 3 years, 10 months ago

As if anyone needs your blessings. There must be a mirror in your place somewhere, check out the guy looking back at you and recognize that your posts are as racist and bigoted as any. Your comments about Pitts and Obama are proof enough. Cold empty hearts? Always have a second look in the mirror before you cast your stones.

ignati5 3 years, 10 months ago

There is entirely too much Bible-thumping in these columns lately. Even Leonard Pitts feels obliged to take his turn at the crank of this particular bolony mill. Best leave religious witness to the clergymen, whose motives are usually transparent and whose theology may even be sound in some cases.

Liberty275 3 years, 10 months ago

"You are what you is." -- Frank Zappa, You are what you is, side 3, track 1

mmmkisses 3 years, 10 months ago

"The thing with me is, I’m OK with “I don’t know,”"

This statement seems insincere coming from someone with “faith”. Gods are invented, in part, because we need explanations for the things we don’t understand. Believing in a god provides the explanation when an acceptable explanation cannot be found through science or reason.

Alfred_W 3 years, 10 months ago

"The thing with me is, I’m OK with “I don’t know,”"

Which also happens to explain why I am agnostic. Nobody still in this world truly "knows", and that makes organized religion kind of pointless.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

There are other reasons for people to gather together in spiritual communities, even if absolute knowledge isn't possible on the subject.

Prairielander 3 years, 10 months ago

Exactly. If it provides comfort, then it isn't pointless.

thebigspoon 3 years, 10 months ago

The depth of this statement apparently escapes some people. The message here is that the writer is saying, "I believe, and am comforted by my faith. You don't believe, and that's OK with me, but I will believe for you in the hope that my belief will grant you a measure of comfort, and, maybe, a measure of mercy if, indeed, you meet up with a supreme being such as I intuit exists. Your unbelief is not a source of anguish to me, but a source of comfort, of a kind, to you. And my deity knows this about you and will deal with you accordingly."

I believe, probably in a slightly different way than Pitts, but I feel his comfort in his statement. It's too bad that so many find it necessary to demean the man for his deeply held, unproveable faith. I know he does not, nor do I, find it difficult to understane that unbelief, but never will anyone find me distraught over another's opinion of my belief. Death and the hereafter, if there is one, are unfathomable to any of us, but the comfort of knowing in one's heart that there is a reward is unfathomable to some, and for that I am sorry. It may not be God, as I know him, but I will not allow you to debunk my source of comfort and hope just because you do not have an alternative.

All that being said, have a nice day, whatever your level of belief. That, after all, is the whole point, don't you think? and, to paraphrase my friend Tom Shewmon, "May --------- bless you all".

average 3 years, 10 months ago

I can neither prove nor disprove a God. Lacking any better explanation for why something and not nothing, I tend to fall slightly toward deism.

But, the universe is over a decillion cubic light years in volume, billions of years old, and we're one of 100 billion humans that have inhabited this tiny rock in that vastness.

It takes a whole, whole lot more of that "certain hubris" Pitts talks about to look at that situation and, with exactly no evidence to support it, conclude that said Creator loves you very, very much, intends for you to believe X, Y, and Z, etc.

Sorry, but if you think God cares about you in that sense, you might need a narcissism checkup.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

Disappointing drivel from Pitts. We as humans feel a lot of things, including the warm and fuzzies. Ascribing these to god's presence without objective proof of god's existence is a logical and intellectual fallacy. Fantasy, in other words.

Unicorns and trolls give me a warm and fuzzy feeling, too.

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

Tom, do you agree that man made litter, debris and chemicals are harmful to small ecosystems, and that such things are not pleasant to look at? Global warming is probably a bad choice of terminology. It's really climate change. and perhaps all the climate change isn't man made. I realize this is a big planet with plenty of other greenhouse gases forming naturally via volcanic activity. But man's foot print on the planet is evident.

Do you know why NOAA is removing buoys? it's because they cannot get funding to keep tens of thousands of them operation (http://www.gomoos.org/news/buoynotice.html) , mostly because of the ignorant ramblings of people who refuse to admit that the earth is changing. It so happens that those people also believe in the invisible man in the sky. and that's really really sad.

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

I don't think all the news Fox reports is bogus, but I think you should dilute it with other sources. really Tom, I'm certain that your more Libertarian, just getting caught up in the conservative inanity.

TheYetiSpeaks 3 years, 10 months ago

It's funny how atheists are so convinced of their intelligence and unbending in their beliefs, while accusing their antithesis of the same. Atheists claim they don't believe in gods. I posit that atheism is very much a deistic enterprise. They have deified themselves. Their intelligence is supreme and their logic is infallible.....I suspect neither of these things will comfort them as they lay dying. Don't get me wrong, they can believe what they want and I'm not in the business of making anyone believe what I believe. That's just my opinion.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

I didn't see your post before I posted mine below.

I can only speak for myself, but you are painting every atheist with the same brush and you are wrong in doing so. I doubt that most atheists feel the way you are supposing they do. My own experiences in talking and listening to people has led me to believe that there are many people who are atheists, but who do not go around talking about it. Some are even church members (gasp!).

I rarely mention the fact that I am an atheist for a number of reasons, one being that a lot of people are very uncomfortable with the idea. I have certainly never supposed that my intelligence is supreme---that very idea is really mind-boggling. Being an atheist allows me to be more open minded.

Another reason I usually don't talk about it is that people would then try to "convert" me because they think I'm going to hell and I have enough of that happening anyway.

And I have never, and would never, try to convert anyone to being an atheist. People have reasons for wanting to be involved in a religion. Tradition and ceremony are not necessarily a bad thing and the sense of community it gives people can certainly be a good thing.

TheYetiSpeaks 3 years, 10 months ago

My apologies. I should have said the atheists that tend to comment on these forums seem to be those things. No offense intended. You don't seem to be that way but I'm confused by the way you see your atheism. It seems by definition that ahteism would be pretty rigid....not something that opens up more avenues of thought: You either do or do not believe in a god or gods. Agnosticism seems more open-minded than atheism as it pertains to what is unknowable. Just a thought.

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree, you've got a fairly narrow view of what an atheist is. here's the short definition. Atheist - One who does not believe in god(s).

Unlike Verity, I've become an outspoken atheist, and for several reasons. I don't think that I, or anyone else, should be ashamed of our lack of belief. Atheistic people should stand up and be counted. The more of us there are, the more people will question their own dogmatic beliefs and realize that it's perfectly ok to not spend your life praying to an empty sky.
I became an atheist through education. I read about the religion I grew up with, I read about those that my religion despised, and I read about hundreds more that I'd never heard of. My curious mind paired me up with scientific ideas, and led me to realize how vast our known universe is, and how small religion tried to portray it. I believe that it's important to educate everyone with facts regarding how much we know about where we came from. I don't think that it's a good idea to indoctrinate children into religious fallacy when their minds are not developed enough to consider the ignorance. after all, would your parents lie? yes, of course. It seems that most people are ok with atheists, as long as we sit down, shut up, and go along with theocratic rule in our society. is that about right? I don't mind offending religious persons, because I believe that delusional actions should be viewed under a microscope for all to witness.

TheYetiSpeaks 3 years, 10 months ago

"Atheistic people should stand up and be counted. The more of us there are, the more people will question their own dogmatic beliefs and realize that it's perfectly ok to not spend your life praying to an empty sky."

For someone not saddled with the "burden" of belief, your desire to convert others speaks very loudly to the point I was making earlier: That you seem to share a lot of characteristics with those you can barely (if at all) hide your contempt for. I find it ironic. That's all I'm saying, nothing less...nothing more. Once again, I'm fine with your stance and don't wish to convert you or anyone else. Peace be upon you.

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

i struggle with that a bit. the proselytising. However, there's a difference. my desire to "convert" others, is from a deep seeded desire to not live under theocratic rule. currently, it is basically a requirement of every elected official to proclaim his choice in religions. Some are more widely accepted, and it's expected that they will use their belief system to create the laws and govern the nation. I don't want that at all. Therefor, I feel much necessity to help others understand how their beliefs affect others, and that it's not their place to dictate a false morality that, frankly, most don't understand too well to begin with.

While I can appreciate you not trying to convert me, there are millions of Americans currently working day and night to do just that. It's in the scriptures to go forth and do so. I find that even folks like yourself, who don't bash religion over others' heads, give lip service and credibility to those who will.

Peace be upon you as well.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

AreUNormal, my question would be---are you better off approaching this from the direction of why a theocracy is both undemocratic and harmful and why religion and state should be kept separate for logical reasons?

I'm not trying to start an argument, but I feel it's better to approach these issues from our common ground. Whether God/god exists or not isn't the question imho.

When I pointed out to someone that whether they thought homosexuality was wrong or not, homosexuals should still have the same civil and human rights as the rest of us, that person immediately saw the point and changed his mind. Obviously, that will not always happen, but I would have gotten nowhere had I tried to persuade him that homosexuality wasn't wrong.

Religion evolved for a reason. Some feel the need for it and others don't. I think it will be with us for a long time to come. While I feel nothing but disgust for the way it is often used, I also feel that is has done a lot of good. I have no problem being associated with a religious group whose objectives I believe in.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

I addressed this below, but will try to state it in a different way. There are many different kinds of atheists, just like there are different kinds of Christians or Muslims. I'm not saying that I know there is no God/gods---that is not something one can prove. I'm saying that I don't believe there is because I see no proof or any reason to do so. Some try to say that makes me an agnostic, but that says one is undecided. I am not undecided---I do not believe.

So, no, being an atheist does not make me rigid. It allows me to try to look at things from all sides with an open mind and to try to understand where other people are coming from. Arrogance has no place in any world view.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

I was answering TheYetiSpeaks 12:26 comment and see now that I repeated myself. Sorry about that.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

People seem to often misunderstand what being an atheist means.

It doesn't mean that I think I can prove that there is no god/gods. A negative is generally impossible to prove. It means that I don't believe there is a god because I see absolutely no proof or reason to believe that there is.

At least that's what it means to me. I would like to hear from other atheists what their definition is.

I think Pitts is wrong on this one. Like someone said, too warm and fuzzy.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Many atheists seem much more certain that there is no God, and pretty dogmatic about it.

Agnosticism is the only intellectual position that makes sense to me - we just don't really know.

shadowlady 3 years, 10 months ago

What has anybody got to lose by believing that there is a God?????

libra101 3 years, 10 months ago

Their self-respect. And their sanity to a certain extent.

voevoda 3 years, 10 months ago

Leonard Pitts expressed his own belief in God, without saying that anybody else needed to share his theological tenets (which he did not specify), or even his belief in a transcendent power. He objects to being ridiculed because he made reference to his faith in an opinion column.
So how do the posters on this forum respond? Non-believers proceed to ridicule believers, including Leonard Pitts. For what reason? As Leonard Pitts put it, "I support the right of people to believe — or not believe — as they wish." Why isn't this good enough for non-believers? Some of the believer-respondents use the column as an excuse to ridicule their usual targets, who normally would include Leonard Pitts. As Leonard Pitts put it, "Funnily enough, God’s likes and dislikes always seem to exactly match theirs." Most respondents have missed the point of the column entirely.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

I don't object to PItts objecting to being called out for using the word "prayer" and I agree with much of what he said. It's the element of trying to justify "feeling" that I object to.

voevoda 3 years, 10 months ago

verity, People make decisions based on "feeling" all the time, including important decisions, such as whom to marry. Some decisions ought to be based on emotion, although usually those decisions are better when reason in brought in, too. The "God" question, Pitts argues, is an emotional one for him, so he doesn't see any need to "justify" it in logical terms. Unlike some other columnists (Cal Thomas, for example), Pitts doesn't apply his concept of "God" rooted in his own subjective emotion to social and political issues that are more properly assessed by logical means.

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

I think you're comparing unlikes. I don't think the feeling of "love" for another person equates with a feeling that there is a god/God.

Maybe I'm making too fine a point, and Pitts may not have written the headline for the article, but I feel that "God’s presence is felt, not proven" (which is essentially what he said) is a very questionable statement.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Actually, love is often the feeling people equate with God.

Given that God, or the lack thereof can't be proven or disproven, emotion seems like a likely place to look.

ThatGirl2 3 years, 10 months ago

Not entirely true. See above, where I was accused of having a cold and empty heart. That seems like I am being insulted based on my non-belief. So, it goes both ways.

sourpuss 3 years, 10 months ago

If people cared about loving and caring for other people half as much as they loved and cared about God, maybe we wouldn't need to pray to God so much?

Just a thought.

Romans832 3 years, 10 months ago

The headline of Pitts' column says "God's presence is felt, not proven." I'm not hear to argue whether the existence of God can or cannot be proven. But is God still God if His presence isn't felt? I'm thinking about those who experienced "the dark night of the soul." Sometimes the feelings of joy and intimacy are wonderful, other times God seems a million miles away. (Heard the expression, "Your prayers don't seem to get any higher than the ceiling?") Paul, in II Corinthians 5, is talking about the glory awaiting us in the afterlife and says, "We walk by faith, not by sight." But I think that pretty much describes the life God calls us to here and now... When we can't see/feel His presence, when we cannot "hear music in the air," what keeps us pressing on? Sometimes all that is left is faith. Like the man whose son Jesus healed, our response may well be, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 10 months ago

I gain a lot of amusement from the various responses in this thread. My work for many years has taken my areound many churches over my lifetime and several things have become pretty apparent. God exists in the minds of people. God is a quasi-rational explanation of the unknown, the unexplained and the unprovable. It is a matter of faith and is a personal issue. If anyone asks me if I believe in God my response is "What theHell business of yours is THAT?"
I do believe there is an unknown force and power of the Universe, this did not all happen at random. But I do not believe in a ficticious kind old bearded man sitting on a cloud passing out "blessings" and "thunderbolts" Some do. That is fine with me. As for church organizations, these are social networks and community centers with various goals. Mostly to gather a group of like minded folks together for a community celebration of their beliefs and that is not a bad thing. What amuses (and annoys) me is that many church organizations will loudly proclaim their love and support of mankind and humanity, and then shunn those who do not believe as they do. Try going to a Catholic communion without being a card-carrying member. They profess to follow Jesus and help the poor and downtrodden. And then spend hundreds of thousands (millions?) of donated dollars on huge self-serving edifices, family life centers, private schools to keep out the undesirables (mostly in the south, blacks and latinos) and even imaginary institutions of higher education (Oral Roberts, Liberty University ad nausium). There are those enterprises who seek to gain solvency advertising themselves as "Christian dating", Christian counselling (read indoctrination)" Christian gas stations" (What WOULD Jesus drive?) yadadadadada. I once observed a heated lunch room conversation between one of the devoted "belioevers" who was greatly offended by news reports of the discovery of ancient human-like remains. He was highly incensed that this did not square with his ingrained belief that the world was created in several days and that science was a tool of the devil.(another fabricated image of "religion")

Well, I know full well that this is pretty meaningless to many, but religion is a creation of man, people who put on their pants pretty much like we do today, who were seeking answers to a lot of questions and failing to find them, created a lot of myth, legend and supposition that a lot of people have taken to heart and believe fervently that God exists in their world and does speak to ministers who are after the contents of your pocketbook.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

A question for believers: How did you decide which god explained the warm and fuzzy feeling you have inside?

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

I imagine that cultural constructs play a large role in how people interpret their religious/spiritual experiences.

So people raised in Christian societies are more likely to believe in Christ, those in Indian societies more likely to believe in Krishna, etc.

That doesn't mean their experiences are invalid or unreal, though, it just means they interpret it differently.

beatrice 3 years, 10 months ago

The thing I like about athiests is they never come knocking on my door asking me if I would consider not accepting God into my life. They don't even leave flyers on my door when I'm away.

Nobody living has a real clue, hence there being so many different religions. People born and raised in Western Europe and North America aren't smarter and don't a better connection to God than the people in the Middle East. Sad that we allow those who believe in sky gods to rule our world.

Gene Wallace 3 years, 9 months ago

I am Wiccan. I will Not knock on your doors. I will Not stand on street corners or in front of supermarkets handing out copies of the "Witchtower" Or will I mail to you pamphlets or videos on "The Wiccan Way". In court, I will not raise my hand to show you that I have no Brand and I will Never say, "So help me god". So Mote It Be! (Look it up, it's Saxon for "court" So is the brand-in-the-hand thing)

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

Allah is the Arabic word for God. same sky god as christians. Muhammad is the Islamic prophet, that's the real difference in your texts.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

Yep. Christians split from Jews with Christ, and Muslims split from Christians with Mohamed. Same sky god, though.

Gene Wallace 3 years, 9 months ago

Allah is an Abrahamic Sky god. the same one as Yahweh/Jehovah/El.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 10 months ago

Agnostic, I love it!! One thing that so much "(dis)organized religion lacks is a sense of humor.

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

so while in scary situations, you reach out for whatever will comfort you. since religion is a pretty well known comfort tool, and probably something you had in childhood, that's what you conjured up to feel better. Now imagine if you were born Hindu, or ancient Greek. Who would you have been praying to? does it make it right, or just the cultural norm?

somedude20 3 years, 10 months ago

Charlie Sheen for "God" in 2012!!!!! Could "God" smoke a 7 gram rock to his/her head? I think not! In the name of Keith, Ozzy and the holy bumper ..............., snort

KansasPerson 3 years, 10 months ago

Benjamin Franklin used to donate money to people who wanted to build a church, whether he agreed with their faith or not, just because he believed that firmly that this was, or should be, a country where people should be able to believe what they want. That's a fine example of the best kind of philanthropy in my opinion. He was supporting not the detailed doctrine of any one faith, but the overarching concept of people being able to worship (or not) however they wished. Why can't we be like that?

Stuart Evans 3 years, 10 months ago

he also said "lighthouses are more useful than churches".

KansasPerson 3 years, 10 months ago

Yes, he did not seem to have much use for churches personally, but my point is, he appears to have actually helped people to do something even though he didn't personally agree with it.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

It amazes me how a normally rational person like Pitts, who usually argues points on reality and evidence, can so easily slip into fantasy when it come to religion. He almost seems to revel in this little slice of his life that is divorced from reality.

This is the true danger of religious thought. When what you decide you believe is based on fantasy and not reality, you can start believing some pretty messed up stuff, and acting on it. No one can convince you otherwise, because your decision making process was not rational or objective.

It almost seems like Pitts and other god-heads just love to wallow in irrationality and fantasy and wear their irrationality and fantasy like a badge of honor.

It is almost as if they are saying that I am so open-minded that I can be led to believe anything, as long as I feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Count me among those atheists who judge that believers are intellectual light weights, deniers of reality, and seriously misguided.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Ok - you're counted as an arrogant atheist, if that's what you want.

So you know to a certainty that God, or something like that, doesn't exist?

If not, your position makes no sense - you should be an agnostic.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

"So you know to a certainty that God, or something like that, doesn't exist?"

Yes, to extent that a complete lack of objective evidence is certainty. As certain as I am that unicorns don't exist. That fairies don't exist. That banshees don't exist. That Middle Earth doesn't exist. That Thor doesn't exist. That Zeus doesn't exist. That Superman doesn't exist. That phaetons don't exist. That the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist. Ad nauseum.

The real point is that believing in something that has no basis in objective reality is messed up.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

Shut the bleep up, Tom. You're in way over your head, here.

With apologies to Walter Sobchak, Donnie, and the Coen Brothers...

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Ok.

Include in your list of lightweights that you so easily dismiss:

Descartes Spinoza Jefferson Martin Luther King Emerson Thoreau Einstein

Etc.

Glad to know, though, that you're much smarter, and more correct, than all of those folks.

Seems to me you've fallen into the mistake of equating real with material, external reality.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

"Seems to me you've fallen into the mistake of equating real with material, external reality."

As opposed to what? Immaterial reality?

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Are you really interested?

Or are you so sure you're right, and I'm stupid, that it will just be a waste of time?

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

According to my dictionary, atheism has 2 definitions:

  1. A disbelief in the existence of deity.
  2. The doctrine that there is no deity.

The 1st definition is clearly where folks like verity are, and isn't really an issue - some folks believe in God, and others don't.

The second is where those like ywn are, and is more of an issue - they are certain there is no God, and that anybody who believes in God is some sort of idiot.

Despite the many very smart people throughout history who have had some kind of faith.

By the way, I don't give believers a pass either - those who are certain they are right make the same mistake - belief, by definition, is not the same thing as knowledge or certainty.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

"they are certain there is no God, and that anybody who believes in God is some sort of idiot."

As I said, I am as certain that god does not exist as I am that unicorns, fairies, middle earth, the FSM, phaetons, Superman, Thor, Zeus, etc. do not exist.

And yes, I do think that those who believe something in the absence of any objective evidence are idiots.

How on earth do you decide what to believe? How do you choose between god and any other book or movie you have seen about a fantasy world or any other work of fiction?

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

Ok.

So all of the people I listed, plus many more, who are generally considered to be quite intelligent, are idiots.

It's nice to know that you think Einstein was an idiot.

If you're really interested in my views/experience, I'll be glad to share them, but it's hard to believe you are, given that you already think I'm an idiot.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

Now wouldn't you feel bad if I had a developmental disability and a malformed head? WWJD?

ScottyMac 3 years, 10 months ago

I notice that, in reference to God, "him" and "he" are capitalized both here and in the atrocious letter from that lunkhead that ran the other day. I thought AP Style says to use the lowercase when using personal pronouns in this context. Doesn't the Journal-World use AP Style?

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

"they are certain there is no God, and that anybody who believes in God is some sort of idiot."

As I said, I am as certain that god does not exist as I am that unicorns, fairies, middle earth, the FSM, phaetons, Superman, Thor, Zeus, etc. do not exist.

And yes, I do think that those who believe something in the absence of any objective evidence are idiots.

How on earth do you decide what to believe? How do you choose between god and any other book or movie you have seen about a fantasy world or any other work of fiction?

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 10 months ago

"And yes, I know: T.J. died despite my prayers. Why? demands the skeptic. I don’t know. When I see God, I’ll ask. The thing with me is, I’m OK with “I don’t know,” OK with the humility those words require, OK with what I can only feel and never prove by the tenets of science."

No, the real hubris is the certainty that not all things can be explained by objective, natural phenomena.

The real hubris is dismissing the idea that one day we might know answers to questions that are now mysterious.

The real hubris is dismissing that things we do not understand now may one day be knowable, and instead prematurely and without evidence answering the question by invoking god.

jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

So you believe that science can and will answer all of our questions about the nature of reality, human consciousness, life and death, etc.?

I recommend a book by Thomas Kuhn called "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions".

Larry Miller 3 years, 10 months ago

"I am as certain that god does not exist " You should do some research on that subject. Of course, it takes a lot of time and a lot of work. Much easier to ignore the evidence.

libra101 3 years, 10 months ago

What evidence would that be? Surely if it existed, it would have a Facebook page.

jd 3 years, 10 months ago

you atheists sure are a cranky bunch

Brent Garner 3 years, 9 months ago

Tolerance seems in short supply these days. The unbeliever wants the believer to be silent. The believer wants the right to be heard. Mr. Pitts expresses and geniunely held and charitible belief and a reader castigates him for using his column to allegely promote a belief in God. It seems that increasingly those who do not want to hear about God or religion are more and more adamant about silencing those who believe. These unbelievers demonstrate the same intolerance as the religous bigot who loudly and promenently proclaims that all are damned except himself and those like him. Both are strident, vexing voices. Yet, both have the right to be heard. Those who disbelieve are entitled to disbelieve. Those who do believe are entitled to believe. The problem comes when one or the other seeks through court action, legislation, economic sanction, or any other coercive force then a very bright red line has been crossed and if that crossing is NOT opposed by all good people then intolerance and ultimately tyranny win the day.

If you don't want to believe, then don't. If you don't want to hear, then don't listen. A little respect both directions would be a good thing!

NEthingUsay 3 years, 9 months ago

AMEN for this discussion! "God is not proven, God is felt." How could you believe until you have felt His grace?

You are forgiven, but please update your comment should you truly have a divine experience in the near future; you'll know when it happens.

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