I believe in God, but I don’t want to talk about it and sometimes I don’t feel it – 2 short Trinity Int’l University lectures

I Believe In God… But I Don’t Want to Talk About It
Scott Samuelson

photo credit blue-ridge.org

Scott Samuelson: We’ve been part of a series this semester, on belief. And on Mondays we’re hearing how John describes belief as extravagant, as costly, as beautiful. And then, on a lot of our fridays we’re exploring the disconnect. „I believe this… but, I’m called to live this way sometimes… I’m tempted to live this way.” How do I erase the distance between what I believe and who I am? And so, today we’re gonna talk about what does it mean to say „I believe in God, but I don’t wanna talk about it?” If you’re at all like me, this will resonate with you, because I’ve been there, more recently than I’d like to admit. Maybe we should have called it: I believe in God, but please, please, please don’t make me talk about it.”

  1. Because sometimes it feels awkward and uncomfortable, and so I must not have the gift of evangelism.
  2. Sometimes, I recognize that I have a passion for justice for the poor and discipleship, but not the lost. So, I must not have the gift of evangelism.
  3. Sometimes, talking about faith seems judgmental, so I must not have the gift of evangelism.
  4. Sometimes, I’m afraid of rejection, so I must not have the gift of evangelism.
  5. I’m a private person, I’m an introvert, so I must not have the gift of evangelism.
  6. And sometimes, in our most honest moments, „I’m not sure I’ve got a lot to say,. I’m not sure I’ve seen the work of God in my life” so maybe I don’t have the gift of evangelism.

Those are great reasons. I’ve used every one of those, multiple times. But it doesn’t get us of the hook, because this is not just the work of evangelists. This is the work of Christians. Jesus says, „Go, make disciples of all people.” God calls every follower of Christ to live on display, in front of a watching world. And let me tell you, it is not a punishment. It is a grace. It is a privilege, it is awesome! It is wonderful to be part of the world’s rebirth. It is powerful to have a front row seat as the kingdom of God moves forward. It is incredible to see faith, as small as a mustard seed blossom in your life and take root in the life of someone else.

Jesus sent His disciples out two by two. He gave them nothing. He said, „Leave your money behind, leave your extra clothing behind. Just go and carry My Word.” And they came back with stories after stories of their experience of the power of God. Friends, God calls us to share the story. So, what does it look like to bear the Good News? What does God call us to do when we carry His Gospel?

VIDEOS by Trinity International University  Scott Samuelson talks to the TIU community about talking about their faith on March 28, 2014.

I Believe in God… But I Don’t Feel It  Brad Fruhauff

Brad Fruhauff: I’m gonna start with a little confession. I have mixed emotions about emotions about this topic. In Evangelical Christianity, it seems to me, we do in fact place a lot of importance on feelings. At best, I think this is actually the form of our faith, the thing that binds us in the absence of a form of liturgy. At worst, it disguises a form of real content or depth. At best, it’s justified by many biblical passages, in which God does seem to care about our emotions, like when He complains in Isaiah that „these people come near to me with their mouths, honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” At worst, it’s a superficial measure of God’s love and a tool, even, of emotional manipulation. Maybe this sounds familiar, not necessarily because it’s actually true, but because of the way we talk and think about ourselves.

So, I’ll ask myself, „How do I know if I’m right with God?” And I reflect: Well, I feel a certain elation and excitement when I sing with a bunch of people. I murmur „Yes, God” and Thank You, Lord” and things like that, with satisfaction, whenever the preacher says something I agree with. Of course, some people do the hand raising and the murmuring without feeling it, but those people don’t take their faith seriously. They’re like the Pharisees. We know all about them. It is even better to do none of these things and feel them privately, than to do them inauthentically.

And what if I don’t feel those feelings? Well, then we get this little tsk, tsk, tsk. Well, I must be doing something wrong. Here come Job’s friends to help me out: „Are you keeping up with your devotions? Do you attend church regularly? Are you spending time with God in prayer? Buck up. Kneel down. It will come to you. If it doesn’t, well…” Well, now we’ve discovered another feeling about faith. Right? It’s shame. I think we’re good at shame actually- feeling it and causing it. Although we don’t really call it feeling ashamed. We call it things like: struggling to feel God’s love for me.  Struggling to know God’s will for my life and we expect that we’ll feel better the next we get that injection of worship. Not walkways true, obviously. Hoepfully, not always true. Sometimes those are real struggles. Sometimes they’re the words we use to cover up the sense that we’re supposed to feel something, but we’re doing it wrong. And if that’s the case, I think that’s a problem.

It seems to me, despite the emphasis we place on emotion and faith, we lack a sophisticated and mature vocabulary for dealing with real emotions. It’s like we’re either shiny, happy Christians or we should feel bad that we’re doing something wrong. This is not just a contradiction; it’s something of a paradox… From the first 5 minutes, there are 26 min. remaining of this video.

Professor Brad Fruhauff talks about belief even when we don’t „feel” it on March 26, 2014 at Trinity International University Chapel.


Darwin’s Doubt: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (Kenneth Samples)

  • God created the universe with laws and logical principles
  • But, what if there is no God and the human mind is the product of a mechanistic, non rational process? Why should them, the human mind be able to correspond with the universe? These questions led me to the talk I am about to give here:
  • Some of you may not be aware that Darwin had doubts about his proposed theory of evolution. Darwin was a reflective individual by nature and he worried about the philosophical implications of his biological theory.
  • One of his genuine concerns was whether man’s cognitive  (or belief-producing) faculties which he believed had evolved from the lower animals, could be trusted to produce reliable, true beliefs about reality itself.
  • So then our question is: DO OUR COGNITIVE FACULTIES PROVIDE US WITH RELIABLE TRUE BELIEFS ABOUT THE COSMOS (THE WORLD, ABOUT REALITY)? If the Christian worldview is true and God created the universe and He created us in His image and He networked us together, then it makes sense that mathematics works, that the human mind has true beliefs about reality. And so, what if God doesn’t exist?
  • Self defeating. Several thinkers have argued that the worldview of naturalism (the view that nature is the sole reality and that no supernatural realities or entities exist) involves a fundamental state of epistemological incoherence or is self-defeating in nature. Why would an increasing number of theists think that evolutionary naturalism is potentially incoherent? Because it seems to fail to provide a viable pathway to ensure that humans develop reliable, true beliefs about reality. And the deliverances of science depend upon humans having reliable and true beliefs about the natural world. A physicist (not Christian and not a theist) at MIT recently raised a question, he said, „For creatures that were engineered by evolution to be able to pick bananas and throw rocks is to survive. Human beings seem far too intellectually endowed for naturalistic evolution to be an adequate explanation. I think, if we were engineered by evolution simply to survive, we seem to be incredibly, overly endowed.
  • The idea that atheistic evolutionary naturalism can reliably account for man’s rational faculties and explain how human beings can discover truth faces three potential defeaters. I think these are

The three defeaters when it comes to evolutionary naturalism:

  1. Naturalism postulates a non rational source for man’s rationality. If a person accepts the evolutionary naturalistic worldview, then he must also accept that the ultimate source of people’s reasoning faculties was not itself rational (endowed with reason), nor was it personal (self-aware, intelligent), and it was not teleological (purposive) in nature. Rather, the source was a non rational, impersonal, purposeless process consisting of a combination of genetic mutations, variation, and environmental factors (natural selection). Naturalism therefore postulates that a combination of random chance and blind impersonal natural processes (physical and chemical in nature) produced humanity’s rational faculties. However, presuming that a non rational, chance origin explains human intelligence raises legitimate questions about whether human reason can be trusted. According to the presumptions of science, an effect requires an adequate and sufficient cause, and indeed that effect cannot be greater than the cause. (The principle of causality)
  2. Evolution promotes a Species’ survivability, not its true beliefs. Evolution by natural selection is said to have taken billions of years to produce intellectual and sensory capacities in people. But that process operated solely in light of survival value and reproductive advantage. In other words, evolution functioned only to enhance a particular organism’s adaptation to its environment– thus promoting that species’ continued existence. What a particular species believes about its environment is nonessential to the process. Also, whether the organism’s convictions about reality are indeed true is highly questionable. In some cases reliably true beliefs might contribute to survivability, but in others the truths of the beliefs would be irrelevant.
  3. False beliefs illustrate evolutionary naturalism’s epistemological unreliability. Some naturalistic scientists and philosophers today have only served to heighten Darwin’s original doubt by suggesting that man’s inherent religious impulse is itself driven by evolution. In other words, beliefs in God, objective morality, and life after death are evolutionary generated beliefs that must have served some survival purpose in the distant past. (also the God gene). Richard Dawkins has gone further, arguing that belief in God is a mental delusion caused by a malfunction in the evolutionary process of the human brain. However, attributing man’s false religious beliefs (from the naturalist perspective) to the evolutionary process only adds suspicion to Darwin’s original doubt. If evolution is responsible for humankind’s virtually universal religious impulse, which from a naturalistic point of view is patently false ( and even pernicious according to Dawkins), then human history shows that false beliefs about reality have promoted human survivability more than true beliefs. Ex. If I have false beliefs, but those beliefs were generated by evolution to help me survive, why can’t I have serious doubt about evolution and the naturalist worldview? If evolutionary naturalism can cause a person to believe that which is false (such as religious oriented beliefs) in order to promote survivability, then what confidence can evolutionists muster that their convictions are reliable, true beliefs? And if evolution cannot guarantee true beliefs in a person’s mind, then how does one know that belief in evolutionary naturalism itself is a true belief  about the world?

This is a PowerPoint video of the lecture. The PowerPoint slides begin to change 3 minutes into the lecture.

Published on Jun 7, 2012 by 

How Darwinian evolution refutes naturalism and atheism. Titled: „Darwin’s Doubt: Can Naturalistically Evolved Human Minds Be Trusted to Yield True Beliefs About Reality?” Presented to CNS on November 15, 2010 by: Dr. Ken Samples, MA. Reasons to Believe, Glendora, CA 91740

A reflective person by nature, Charles Darwin initially had doubts about his proposed theory of evolution. Darwin worried about the philosophical implications of his biological theory. One of the areas in particular that bothered Darwin was whether an evolved human mind could be trusted to produce reliable truth about reality. This lecture by professor Kenneth Samples proposes that atheistic, evolutionary naturalism faces three potential defeaters in its attempt to explain humankind’s rational faculties in general and truth about reality in particular.

Tip: If you’re going to have doubts…

Dallas Willard:

If you’re going to have doubt, make sure to have doubts about your doubts as well as your beliefs. We’re taught in our culture that a person who doubts is essentially smarter than a person who believes. But you can be as dumb as a cabbage and still say why ? Our culture is set up on that.

You wanna say, „Believe your beliefs, doubt your doubts as well as doubt your beliefs and believe your doubts. You go the whole round, and that’s what we’re not taught. This is about how knowledge grows and knowledge grows by not only doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts but by (also) doubting your doubts and believing your beliefs. That involves conversation with others, inquiring, listening to a good preacher preach, going to read a good book on atheism by Dawkins… Now, not everybody has the time to do that, so in the fellowship that is one reason why we need one another so badly, so there can be other people who can do what we don’t have time to do and that division of labor really works in the church.

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Why is there no visible proof of God ? Here’s one opinion

Why is there no visible proof of God?

People believe that the fact that God hides (or can’t be seen) shows either that God doesn’t exist or He doesn’t love us enough to make Himself known to us in order to prevent us from going to hell.

Published on Apr 2, 2012 by 

Justin Barrett – Why Would Anyone Believe in God? – Veritas at UC Davis

Justin L. Barrett.is Director of the Thrive Center for Human Development, Thrive Professor of Developmental Science, and Professor of Psychology at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. He previously held a post as senior researcher of the Centre for Anthropology and Mind and The Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University. Barrett is described in the New York Times as a „prominent member of the byproduct camp” and „an observant Christian who believes in “an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being,” [and] “that the purpose for people is to love God and love each other.” He considers that “Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people, Why wouldn’t God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?” Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?”

Here is just one quote from his work: „There is actually a growing body of research that suggests that we have this tendency to see design and purpose all over the place from very young ages”.

Contrast this with * Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Below you will find the video and extensive notes from this very fascinating lecture from the Veritas Forum,  where you can find more apologetics resources.

Intro: The cognitive science of religion

Justin Barrett: I would like to give a broad brushstrokes introduction to the cognitive science of religion, an area that I’ve ben working in the last 15 years. (Main audience is comprised of students taking UC’s Psychology of Religion course).

Why religion is natural, science is not. „Religion like technology arises in every human culture. Religion is a universal phenomenon among human groups, which may well have existed from very nearly the emergence of our species in prehistory”. (McCauley p.149) WHY?

This year, if you keep your eyes on Amazon and so forth, you’ll see that there have been a number of books in this area. It’s getting hot and not just with psychologists and cognitive scientists and anthropologists and comparative religionists, but, also with philosophers and theologians who are starting to wonder, „What is this stuff all about?”  And, really what these scholars are trying to address is a pretty obvious phenomena once you bring it out. And that is: „Why is it that wherever you go , whatever culture you’re in, maybe even whatever historical epoch you are in, there are religious people. And not just a few.

A 1999 Gallup Survey International suggests that upwards of 90% of the world’s population today believe in some kind of a god or supernatural force, let alone historically. This is a pervasive thing that people believe in gods of one sort or another. Why is too, that  children seem to be especially receptive to religious ideas? They pick it up very easily and very naturally.

Here’s a quote from Paul Bloom, Developmental Psychiatrist at Yale University (from Michael Brooks’ article in the New Scientist in Feb 7, 2009 issue: Would a group of children raised in isolation spontaneously create their own religious beliefs?  „I think the answer is yes”. (p 33) WHY ?

Causes and reasons are important when we are talking about belief.

Reasons vs. Causes of belief

  • All thoughts and beliefs have causes: biological, psychological, evolutionary, social
  • But we can still have good reasons for beliefs: experiences, intuition, scientific evidence, logical arguments, testimony of authority, etc.
  • Focus here will be on causes

All beliefs have causes. All ideas have causes. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t have good reasons or bad reasons for those beliefs and ideas. I want to give you a scientific account as to why it is that people tend to believe in gods. At the end we might  start thinking about how those causes matter to whether or not such beliefs are reasonable. But, I want to be clear that those are two separate issues.

The first hat I want to put on is my scientist hat.

The naturalness of religion thesis

„People are disposed to generate and accept religious ideas because of how their minds naturally work in common human environments.” This is not just my idea. This is a convergent idea that many researchers and myself are coming to.  The claim here is, we all, by virtue of being human beings, living in a common world, all have certain kinds of cognitive equipment that develops. Psychological machinery. That predisposes us toward generating or accepting religious ideas. That’s why religious ideas are so recurrent. At least one of the reasons or causes as to why.

There is a sub variety of this thesis. A different wrinkle that I have been emphasizing lately, which I call:

The born believers thesis 

click „More” to read the notes from the entire lecture.

Mai mult

Is God Dead? Atheism vs Christianity. Debate (2 hours) at Wheaton College

April 2008 – Setting: Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, Cole Memorial Chapel- Cicero’s Podium, a Great Issues Debate Series (a  worthy 2 hour debate)

Peter Kreeft (Professor of Philosophy, Boston College) vs Michael Tooley, (Professor of Philosophy and College Professor of Distinction, University of Colorado, Boulder).

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