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How can we know that God is?

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  • How can we know that God is?

    Originally posted by mossrose View Post

    Or does ox think God will audibly speak to the person. Because, you know, God has used people all through history to tell others about Him. Why should this situation be any different?
    I'm picking this post because it sort of started this particular discussion. All opinions requested.

    Some time ago I decided to try to determine if God existed and if so if he wanted to communicate with me. I considered various approaches.

    Scripture: All religions have some form of "holy books" that they consider to support their beliefs. Which one should I read? All of them? The Bible is very confusing, fair enough, so ask Bible "experts". There are as many opinions on what the Bible means as their are "experts" (OK exaggeration, but there's huge disagreement about what even the most basic things mean). Try to find something common to all the writings? See above. Trust the Bible because it was inspired by God? That's circular, I have to find God first.

    Ask "people" as Mossy suggests: But they all disagree! David Koresh convinced a lot of people I hear. Who has the "right" answer?

    Explore the various "proofs" put forward by apologists: I didn't find any that that stood up to logical analysis, or supported anything but a vague deism.

    So, I tried to apply my own logic to the problem. If I hear a claim that a person exists and can't find him anywhere, what to do? Well, why not try to get him to respond in some way. Then, if he responds, I can ask more questions. Makes sense, no? So I did. I prayed. I didn't hear any voices, but received what seemed to be evidence in my own life. So I continued praying, seemed to feel some kind of "presence", joined a church, got quite into it, though when they recited the creed I stayed silent for most of it.

    After some years, it all faded away. I got bored with church, stopped feeling any "presence" and gradually returned to my vague atheism, though, to my pleasure, I no longer had the urge to argue with believers or try to convince anyone of anything. That sense of peace in the knowledge that nobody is really sure of anything in religion was in itself worth the effort I put into it all.

    To my point, if God doesn't communicate with us directly and clearly, and bearing in mind the (perceived) weakness of the other approaches, what Is a sincere open minded "seeker" to do?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Alien View Post

    I'm picking this post because it sort of started this particular discussion. All opinions requested.

    Some time ago I decided to try to determine if God existed and if so if he wanted to communicate with me. I considered various approaches.

    Scripture: All religions have some form of "holy books" that they consider to support their beliefs. Which one should I read? All of them? The Bible is very confusing, fair enough, so ask Bible "experts". There are as many opinions on what the Bible means as their are "experts" (OK exaggeration, but there's huge disagreement about what even the most basic things mean). Try to find something common to all the writings? See above. Trust the Bible because it was inspired by God? That's circular, I have to find God first.

    Ask "people" as Mossy suggests: But they all disagree! David Koresh convinced a lot of people I hear. Who has the "right" answer?

    Explore the various "proofs" put forward by apologists: I didn't find any that that stood up to logical analysis, or supported anything but a vague deism.

    So, I tried to apply my own logic to the problem. If I hear a claim that a person exists and can't find him anywhere, what to do? Well, why not try to get him to respond in some way. Then, if he responds, I can ask more questions. Makes sense, no? So I did. I prayed. I didn't hear any voices, but received what seemed to be evidence in my own life. So I continued praying, seemed to feel some kind of "presence", joined a church, got quite into it, though when they recited the creed I stayed silent for most of it.

    After some years, it all faded away. I got bored with church, stopped feeling any "presence" and gradually returned to my vague atheism, though, to my pleasure, I no longer had the urge to argue with believers or try to convince anyone of anything. That sense of peace in the knowledge that nobody is really sure of anything in religion was in itself worth the effort I put into it all.

    To my point, if God doesn't communicate with us directly and clearly, and bearing in mind the (perceived) weakness of the other approaches, what Is a sincere open minded "seeker" to do?

    I wasn't referring to asking people. I was referring to God using the prophets and preachers and teachers written about in scripture, and all those who came after and still come after, who teach the truths of the word of God.

    Read the Bible. If you want to hear God speak to you audibly, read it out loud.

    As I mentioned before, God has already shown us His presence. In creation, in our conscience, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and now we have the complete written word of God. It was not complete after the OT, but it is now.

    How much more clearly and directly do you want? Signs? Wonders?

    Just read the Bible. Get one with good study notes. If you are truly seeking, you will see the truths there because God's Spirit will show you. If you are just wanting to read it as an ancient text, as some here consider it, you won't see anything except what you want to see.


    I wasn't referring to asking people. I was referring to God using the prophets and preachers and teachers written about in scripture, and all those who came after and still come after, who teach the truths of the word of God.

    Perhaps this is a topic for another thread?
    Last edited by mossrose; 03-31-2022, 03:04 PM.


    Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Alien View Post

      I'm picking this post because it sort of started this particular discussion. All opinions requested.

      Some time ago I decided to try to determine if God existed and if so if he wanted to communicate with me. I considered various approaches.

      Scripture: All religions have some form of "holy books" that they consider to support their beliefs. Which one should I read? All of them? The Bible is very confusing, fair enough, so ask Bible "experts". There are as many opinions on what the Bible means as their are "experts" (OK exaggeration, but there's huge disagreement about what even the most basic things mean). Try to find something common to all the writings? See above. Trust the Bible because it was inspired by God? That's circular, I have to find God first.

      Ask "people" as Mossy suggests: But they all disagree! David Koresh convinced a lot of people I hear. Who has the "right" answer?

      Explore the various "proofs" put forward by apologists: I didn't find any that that stood up to logical analysis, or supported anything but a vague deism.

      So, I tried to apply my own logic to the problem. If I hear a claim that a person exists and can't find him anywhere, what to do? Well, why not try to get him to respond in some way. Then, if he responds, I can ask more questions. Makes sense, no? So I did. I prayed. I didn't hear any voices, but received what seemed to be evidence in my own life. So I continued praying, seemed to feel some kind of "presence", joined a church, got quite into it, though when they recited the creed I stayed silent for most of it.

      After some years, it all faded away. I got bored with church, stopped feeling any "presence" and gradually returned to my vague atheism, though, to my pleasure, I no longer had the urge to argue with believers or try to convince anyone of anything. That sense of peace in the knowledge that nobody is really sure of anything in religion was in itself worth the effort I put into it all.

      To my point, if God doesn't communicate with us directly and clearly, and bearing in mind the (perceived) weakness of the other approaches, what Is a sincere open minded "seeker" to do?
      For us today, I would recommend starting with the historical fact of Jesus' resurrection. That was the final and definitive proof that everything he said about himself was true. From there, everything else just sort of falls into place.
      Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
      But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
      Than a fool in the eyes of God


      From "Fools Gold" by Petra

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mossrose View Post


        I wasn't referring to asking people. I was referring to God using the prophets and preachers and teachers written about in scripture, and all those who came after and still come after, who teach the truths of the word of God.

        Read the Bible. If you want to hear God speak to you audibly, read it out loud.

        As I mentioned before, God has already shown us His presence. In creation, in our conscience, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and now we have the complete written word of God. It was not complete after the OT, but it is now.

        How much more clearly and directly do you want? Signs? Wonders?

        Just read the Bible. Get one with good study notes. If you are truly seeking, you will see the truths there because God's Spirit will show you. If you are just wanting to read it as an ancient text, as some here consider it, you won't see anything except what you want to see.


        I wasn't referring to asking people. I was referring to God using the prophets and preachers and teachers written about in scripture, and all those who came after and still come after, who teach the truths of the word of God.

        Perhaps this is a topic for another thread?
        Yes. Could you, or a moderator if you can't, move these posts to a new thread? I'll answer you there. It is very off topic for the OP!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Alien View Post

          Yes. Could you, or a moderator if you can't, move these posts to a new thread? I'll answer you there. It is very off topic for the OP!
          I've put in a request.


          Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

          Comment


          • #6
            I like the prayers that Paul prayed:

            "Who are you, Lord?" (i.e. ask the Lord to reveal himself to you)

            And "Lord, what do you want me to do?" (i.e. ask the Lord to reveal his will to you)

            I would go near thee--but I cannot press
            Into thy presence--it helps not to presume.
            Thy doors are deeds; the handles are their doing.
            He whose day-life is obedient righteousness,
            Who, after failure, or a poor success,
            Rises up, stronger effort yet renewing--
            He finds thee, Lord, at length, in his own common room. (George MacDonald, "Diary of an Old Soul")

            Blessings,
            Lee
            "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mossrose View Post

              I've put in a request.
              Thank you, and thanks to whoever moved it!

              Comment


              • #8
                OK, here we go.

                I think the problem I have with your response is that you are coming from a position of certainty. I bet that you feel the same about my question as you would if someone said "I want proof that the sun exists". You'd say "Of course it does silly, can't you see the light?" That's fine, but instead try to put yourself in the position of our theoretical seeker. He only believes what he sees at this point. He wasn't brought up in a religious culture, so his impressionable mind as a child didn't receive any religious conditioning. If it helps, I'll pretend to be that seeker and comment on your replies. (Remember the bolded part, what I will say is not exactly what I would say for myself.)

                Originally posted by mossrose View Post
                I wasn't referring to asking people. I was referring to God using the prophets and preachers and teachers written about in scripture, and all those who came after and still come after, who teach the truths of the word of God.
                But weren't these teachers people? Before I accept their words as authoritative, I need some evidence that this God you speak of actually did use them to convey the truth.

                Read the Bible. If you want to hear God speak to you audibly, read it out loud.
                How do I know the Bible is the word of God, spoken out loud or not?

                As I mentioned before, God has already shown us His presence. In creation, in our conscience, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and now we have the complete written word of God. It was not complete after the OT, but it is now.
                Yes, that was persuasive before science explained so much of the natural world as ... well, natural. How do you know that Jesus was anything more than a great teacher? How do you know that the Bible is the complete written word of God? (You still haven't established the existence, let alone nature of God, by the way). Oh, and should I also read the holy texts of the other religions? Seems only fair.

                How much more clearly and directly do you want? Signs? Wonders?
                Just a plain communication, tailored to my personal understanding. Shouldn't be too difficult for an all-powerful God, right?

                Just read the Bible. Get one with good study notes. If you are truly seeking, you will see the truths there because God's Spirit will show you. If you are just wanting to read it as an ancient text, as some here consider it, you won't see anything except what you want to see.
                I did that and didn't get the truths you describe. I guess I didn't seek truly enough. How can I improve that? And don't you think this is a bit catch-22 like? Read the Bible in the right way and you'll get truths. I did, and didn't get truths. Obviously the Holy Spirit isn't with you. Pray a lot and try again. [Rinse and repeat].

                Look God, I'm truly trying to contact you. I don't put any conditions on how you respond. You know what will convince me, being so knowing and all that. Why can't you just communicate with me?

                [Repeated line deleted]
                [/quote]

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                  For us today, I would recommend starting with the historical fact of Jesus' resurrection. That was the final and definitive proof that everything he said about himself was true. From there, everything else just sort of falls into place.
                  Is it really an historical fact?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
                    I like the prayers that Paul prayed:

                    "Who are you, Lord?" (i.e. ask the Lord to reveal himself to you)

                    And "Lord, what do you want me to do?" (i.e. ask the Lord to reveal his will to you)

                    I would go near thee--but I cannot press
                    Into thy presence--it helps not to presume.
                    Thy doors are deeds; the handles are their doing.
                    He whose day-life is obedient righteousness,
                    Who, after failure, or a poor success,
                    Rises up, stronger effort yet renewing--
                    He finds thee, Lord, at length, in his own common room. (George MacDonald, "Diary of an Old Soul")

                    Blessings,
                    Lee
                    Actually the prayer I used went something like this.

                    "God, if you are there I'm asking you to let me know. I'm not asking for any particular sign or form of communication. I'm not setting a time limit. I'll wait with as much patience as I can muster."

                    I also had a Christian friend pray that I would get a reply.

                    I asked what I should do after the first response.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'll just add that a lack of response could mean "no God" or "God doesn't want to talk to me". In the second case, maybe the Calvinists are correct and I'm in big doo-doo.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Alien View Post
                        I'll just add that a lack of response could mean "no God" or "God doesn't want to talk to me".
                        Please consider that the giants of faith have all experienced God’s silence. Mother Theresa famously recorded long periods of God not revealing His presence or any divine communication at all in any way. No dreams, images, no verses—nothing. And she remained faithful.

                        Even Jesus believed God forsook him, which must mean he believed he was condemned at the end. That’s heavy. Take that to heart.

                        Originally posted by Alien View Post
                        In the second case, maybe the Calvinists are correct and I'm in big doo-doo.
                        Calvinists are a sick branch of Christianity started by a mentally deranged man who burned Michael Servetus alive at the stake.

                        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Servetus

                        Think about that. They are a minority that have leveraged a few mysterious verses in the NT to scare the snot out of seekers like yourself. They subscribe to a bleak, trashy theology that paralyzes people spiritually.

                        Do not let that small offshoot of Christianity influence your decision to be a Christian.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Alien View Post

                          Is it really an historical fact?
                          The resurrection of Jesus is at least as well attested as any other event we accept as true in the ancient world, and is better attested than most.
                          Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
                          But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
                          Than a fool in the eyes of God


                          From "Fools Gold" by Petra

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Alien View Post
                            OK, here we go.

                            I think the problem I have with your response is that you are coming from a position of certainty. I bet that you feel the same about my question as you would if someone said "I want proof that the sun exists". You'd say "Of course it does silly, can't you see the light?" That's fine, but instead try to put yourself in the position of our theoretical seeker. He only believes what he sees at this point. He wasn't brought up in a religious culture, so his impressionable mind as a child didn't receive any religious conditioning. If it helps, I'll pretend to be that seeker and comment on your replies. (Remember the bolded part, what I will say is not exactly what I would say for myself.)
                            You're right. Faith plays a big part. And you likely won't find my further replies to your post helpful.


                            But weren't these teachers people? Before I accept their words as authoritative, I need some evidence that this God you speak of actually did use them to convey the truth.
                            Yes. They were people. Sinful and wilful and all that we also are. Nevertheless used by God to convey His law and His prophecies to the people. Goes back to faith again. God's word is true because He said it is. Miracles were performed in certain periods of Biblical history, and all the prophecies about God and about things that would happen have happened. The only prophecy not yet fulfilled is the second coming of Christ.


                            How do I know the Bible is the word of God, spoken out loud or not?
                            Again, faith that He has said so. Faith in the character that He portrays to us through scripture and the person of Christ, that He cannot lie.



                            Yes, that was persuasive before science explained so much of the natural world as ... well, natural. How do you know that Jesus was anything more than a great teacher? How do you know that the Bible is the complete written word of God? (You still haven't established the existence, let alone nature of God, by the way). Oh, and should I also read the holy texts of the other religions? Seems only fair.
                            Jesus was not a great teacher. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or who He said He was. Science is a man-made construct. Sorry, I don't trust it. It changes daily.

                            The scripture is complete because God said it is in Revelation 22.

                            18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;

                            19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.


                            And since Revelation is placed at the end of scripture, the "book" refers to the entire thing. No more revelation.

                            Just a plain communication, tailored to my personal understanding. Shouldn't be too difficult for an all-powerful God, right?
                            Read the Bible.

                            I did that and didn't get the truths you describe. I guess I didn't seek truly enough. How can I improve that? And don't you think this is a bit catch-22 like? Read the Bible in the right way and you'll get truths. I did, and didn't get truths. Obviously the Holy Spirit isn't with you. Pray a lot and try again. [Rinse and repeat].

                            Look God, I'm truly trying to contact you. I don't put any conditions on how you respond. You know what will convince me, being so knowing and all that. Why can't you just communicate with me?

                            [Repeated line deleted]

                            You may indeed be in deep doo-doo, as you so aptly put it.

                            My friend. I have said all I can really say about the matter. There are others here more knowledgeable than I, and hopefully they will be able to help you further.




                            Securely anchored to the Rock amid every storm of trial, testing or tribulation.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mossrose View Post

                              You may indeed be in deep doo-doo, as you so aptly put it.
                              You should really clarify this statement and think hard about what you meant.

                              Comment

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