Jul
9

Has anyone ever met God and returned to tell about it?

By: Scott Youngren


metgod

In what is widely regarded to be the greatest soliloquy in all of drama, Shakespeare’s Hamlet refers to death as “the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns.” And in our culture, with its materialist undertones, it is often taken for granted that we can have no insight whatsoever as to what lies on the other side of death’s door. But in the last few decades, advances in medicine have made instances of resuscitation from the brink of death—including instances of resuscitation after the complete cessation of brain activity—a far more common occurrence. The accounts given by individuals who have had such “Near Death Experiences,” or NDEs, (of which there are many thousands) have revealed some startling and fascinating patterns. These accounts, though they have not rendered death a completely discovered “country”, are akin to the first reports returned from explorers to a new land.

An entire field of research has sprung up to analyze this phenomenon. Researchers from the fields of medicine and psychology have come together to form the International Association of Near- Death Studies (IANDS, website iands.org) and the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF, website: nderf.org).

In 2005, IANDS released The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences to summarize the conclusions of 30 years of research in this field.  Some of the revelations featured in this book (which appear below) should come as a wake-up call to those inclined to doubt the existence of the Deity:

“NDErs often believe that they have survived because God willed it and had a divine purpose in bringing them back…They have experienced the love of God and been changed by it (Grosso 1981). Many have come face-to-face with a personal God with whom they continue to maintain a loving relationship.”

“…for most the result appears to be a spiritual awakening. The NDE often brings with it a spiritual certainty and intense desire to conform one’s life to divine will. The new relationship with what is often a personal God becomes central to the NDErs’ lives.”

In part because of the sheer volume of NDE accounts, it has become a phenomenon that is difficult to ignore. And, as Patrick Glynn notes in his book God: The Evidence, “the majority of researchers who have investigated the phenomenon, generally professionals with medical, psychological, or other scientific training—many of whom started out as skeptics—have concluded that these experiences are authentic.” The strategy most often pursued by skeptics is to declare the NDE to be a hallucination…most often a hallucination produced by the eroding neural environment of the dying brain.

Please click here to read and view the NDE testimony of a Harvard University neuroscientist.

 

But the astute reader (with or without expertise in the fields of brain science or psychology) will immediately recognize why this explanation is inadequate to explain frequent encounters with a “personal God:” Hallucinations amongst various people share commonalities in terms of their perceptual alterations but not in terms of the content of the experience.

In part because of the sheer volume of NDE (near-death experience) accounts, it has become a phenomenon that is difficult to ignore.  And, as Patrick Glynn notes in his book God: The Evidence, “the majority of researchers who have investigated the phenomenon, generally professionals with medical, psychological, or other scientific training—many of whom started out as skeptics—have concluded that these experiences are authentic.”

For example, if one were to administer a hallucinogenic drug such as LSD to a large number of people, it would not be surprising if most or all of the subjects reported similar symptoms. These might include visual hallucinations, a feeling of euphoria, a feeling of separation from one’s body, etc…  Further, it would not be surprising if the content of one of the subjects’ hallucinations included meeting a purple leprechaun named Bobo who led him on a journey to Never-Never land.

One would certainly not expect, however, for multiple subjects to report a similar encounter with a similar purple leprechaun. The experiential content of hallucinations are unique to each individual. And entering into a “loving relationship” with a “personal God” speaks of the content of a vast number of NDE experiences and can therefore not be classified as hallucination.

But one should not expect those committed to the illusion of a God-free universe to change their views just because they cannot adequately explain away frequent encounters with God. Ideology can be a powerful force in human psychology. As such, atheistic NDE skeptics can be expected to continue trying as hard as they can to use their flawed ideology to hammer square pegs into round holes.

Psychologists are well aware of this phenomenon. Here we cite psychologist Charles Tart in his book The End of Materialism:

“Pathologies of cognition, both intellectual and emotional, that [the great psychologist] Maslow identified in ThePsychology of Science [include]: Hanging onto a generalization in spite of new information that contradicts it. You attach too much to what makes sense, what makes you feel good, what has worked before. Theory is always subject to change if new data doesn’t fit. When human experience doesn’t fit into scientistic materialism, for instance, there’s often a specious generalization invoked to make such potentially disturbing information go away. A common method is to invoke human fallibility: people are misled, superstitious, crazy, liars, or deluded, so you can stop paying attention to anything that doesn’t fit your idea of the way the world works.”

This specific “pathology of cognition” amongst NDE deniers is clearly at work in the case of their most prominent member, psychologist Susan Blackmore. Roy A. Varghese describes the now famous NDE case of Pam Reynolds and Blackmore’s reaction to it in his book There Is Life After Death:

“In 1991, Reynolds was found to have a basilar artery aneurysm in the brain that could not be operated on with conventional neurosurgical methods without imminent risk of death. She was taken to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix where the neurologist Robert Spetzler had pioneered a new type of surgery called hypothermic cardiac arrest, nicknamed ‘Standstill.’ What the patient first had to undergo included clinical death, which would mean that the brain EEG would come to a stop (no cerebral cortex activity), there would be no response from the brain stem (hence no brain function), and blood flow to the brain would cease. Reynold’s body temperature was brought down to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing stopped, her brainwaves flattened with no electrical activity in the brain, and the blood drained from her head. Just when she was brought to this state and before the surgery commenced, Reynolds felt herself ‘pop’ out of her body. She gave remarkably accurate descriptions of the unusual instruments used in the surgery, as well as the activities taking place in the operating room. This was followed by her encounter with her deceased relatives.”

 

 

During this NDE experience, featured in the BBC documentary The Day I Died (featured above), Reynolds also describes witnessing the presence of God.*(click here to see Pam’s experience) But, in an all-too-human fashion, Blackmore here allows her beliefs to frame the facts…rather than the other way around. (This is a “pathology of cognition” which all persons must be on guard against—in themselves—when examining issues which lie outside the margins of plausibility as dictated by one’s core assumptions about the nature of reality). As Roy Varghese notes:

“In a contribution to a Reader’s Digest article on the Reynolds case, Susan Blackmore wrote, ‘If the case you describe is true, the whole of science would need rewriting.’ She thinks the account could not be as described: ‘I can only say that my expectation is that this case did not happen like that.’ Apart from this a priori rejection, Blackmore did not offer a detailed critique.”

Notably, it is not the “whole of science” that needs rewriting. Rather, it is the core assumptions about the nature of reality and of human consciousness made by materialists such as Blackmore that are in need of rewriting. In particular, I mean the assumptions that the material world is all that exists and that, therefore, human consciousness and all of human experience are simply the product of chemical and electrical activity in the brain.

Commenting on this subject matter, quantum physicist Nick Herbert writes in Elemental Mind:

“In this materialistic age, dualists [those who believe in the existence of a soul apart from the brain] are often accused of smuggling outmoded religious beliefs back into science, of introducing superfluous spiritual forces into biology, and of venerating an invisible ‘ghost in the machine.’ However, our utter ignorance concerning the real origins of human consciousness marks such criticism more a matter of taste than of logical thinking. At this stage of mind science, dualism is not irrational, merely somewhat unfashionable.”

Please note that materialists such as Blackmore do not suggest that consciousness and experience have been explained by such purely physical, material processes; but that they will be. Hence, this philosophy has been mockingly termed “promissory materialism” by Karl Popper (who is widely regarded to be one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century).

But despite its fashionable status among atheists, the validity of promissory materialism can hardly be taken for granted. Revealingly, Varghese comments that “considering the present-day popularity of physicalism [a.k.a. promissory materialism], it is astonishing that four of the greatest brain scientists of all time were led by their work to affirm the reality of the transphysical.” They appear below as recounted by Varghese:

[1]  Sir John Eccles, winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology wrote extensively on the mind and brain.  Here are a few of his many comments on this topic.

“I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal [or brain] activity. This belief must be classed as a superstition.”

“We have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world.”

In his book The Wonder of Being Human, Eccles (and coauthor Daniel N. Robinson) write:

“We regard promissory materialism as superstition without a rational foundation. The more we discover about the brain, the more clearly do we distinguish between the brain events and the mental phenomena, and the more wonderful do both the brain events and the mental phenomena become. Promissory materialism is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists…who often confuse their religion with their science. [emphasis added]

[2]  Roger W. Sperry, winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology: In a paper titled Turnabout on Consciousness, he observed that an objective understanding of mental activity requires us to take subjective qualities seriously. In this context, he warns that to think of these as “nothing but” or “identical to” the neural events themselves is to be misled. “A neural event, or, preferably, a brain event or brain process,” he wrote, “is many things: it includes the physiology of nerve-impulse traffic, the underlying chemistry, plus all sorts of subatomic low- and high-energy physical phenomena. While these may be the stuff of neural events, they are not, as I see it, the conscious phenomena.”

[3]  Wilder Penfield, one of the pioneering neuroscientists of the last century.  Penfield said:

“For my own part, after years of striving to explain the mind on the basis of brain-action alone, I have come to the conclusion that it is simpler (and far easier to be logical) if one adopts the hypothesis that our being does consist of two fundamental elements…It seems to me certain that it will always be quite impossible to explain the mind on the basis of neuronal action within the brain.”

[4]  Charles Scott Sherrington, winner of the 1932 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology, said in his Gifford Lectures:

“If as you say thoughts are an outcome of the brain, we as students using the energy-concept know nothing of it; as followers of natural science we know nothing of any relation between thoughts and the brain, except as a gross correlation in time and space. In some ways this is embarrassing for biology…We have to regard the relation of mind to brain as not merely unresolved but still devoid of a basis for its very beginning.”

And if four of the greatest brain scientists of all time—plus untold thousands of NDErs–accept the concept of a soul that inhabits a body (and then, by extension, goes on to meet God after death), the burden of proof lies with the skeptic. Can the skeptic really furnish a solid, rationally constructed, fact-based reason why this cannot be true? Or is he/she merely reasserting previously held beliefs and declaring those who believe to be, in Tart’s words, “misled, superstitious, crazy, liars, or deluded” so as to hang on to “what has worked before?” Can the skeptic really refute the enormous body of evidence supporting this phenomenon, or is he/she merely falling back on a convenient platitude such as “there must be a rational explanation” that only reasserts previously held beliefs without really furnishing a rebuttal? The implications of this phenomenon are so profound as to demand a thorough investigation.

*Click here to read about skeptical counter-explanations for the NDE phenomenon and how to evaluate them.

*For further examples of this phenomenon, the reader may review the below videos. Also, several cases similar to Reynolds are available in God: The Evidence by Patrick Glynn.

1)skydiving accident NDE , 2)shooting victim NDE , 3)atheist college professor NDE

4)met Jesus , 5)medical doctor NDE , 6)blind woman sees during NDE , 7)seven minutes in hell

8) went to heaven and returned, 9) man visits both heaven and hell  10) Jesus saves a dying muslim.

Lastly, this website provides many compelling NDE testimonies regarding the existence of heaven and hell.

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Below is a list of some of the phenomena that have been repeatedly reported by many NDE experiencers. This list has been extracted from Evidence for the Afterlife by Jeffrey Long, MD, www.nderf.org, and www.iands.org. (I have chosen these sources, but many others are available).

1) Lucid death:  NDErs report highly lucid experiences while clinically unconscious or clinically dead. Such experiences often include witnessing an emergency room crew working on one’s own body after the heart has stopped and brain activity has ceased. Many conscious experiences have also been reported while an individual was under carefully monitored general anesthesia, which is intended to bring about loss of consciousness.

 

2) Out of body: Long states that “approximately half of all NDEs have an OBE (out-of-body experience) that involves seeing or hearing earthly events. Usually the point of consciousness rises above the body.”

 

3) Blind sight: Long recounts that, “in 1998 Kenneth Ring, PhD, and Sharon Cooper, MA, published a landmark article in the Journal of Near-Death Studies about blind people who have vividly visual near-death experiences….An especially interesting subgroup in this study was made up of case reports from individuals who were born totally blind and had NDEs with the typical elements, including detailed visual content.” Click on the following links for a couple examples: 1) Born blind NDE #1  2) Born blind NDE #2

 

4) Life review: Commonly reported is the phenomenon in which everything significant from the NDEr’s life is reviewed. This includes experiencing the emotional impact that one’s actions had upon others, from the perspective of the other person. The review is sometimes in a three-dimensional panoramic view.

 

5) Reunion with deceased loved ones and with God, angels, Jesus: The title says it all. Click here for more detail.

 

6) Very young children report NDEs: A common retort from NDE skeptics is that NDEs are the result of the dying brain bringing to mind the results of years of religious and cultural conditioning. But, as Long reminds us, “most five-year-olds have not yet started elementary school, where cultural influences are accelerated…very young children are practically a blank slate when it comes to the subject of death.” Nevertheless, these very young children (under 5) often report the same encounters with deceased loved ones, God, angels, and Jesus cited above. In fact, children under five “have had every NDE element that older children and adults have had,” according to Long.


58 thoughts on Has anyone ever met God and returned to tell about it?

  1. Gosh! All that intelligence and knowledge wasted on Hocus Pocus thinking.
    The answers are a lot closer then one thinks.Six inches between the ears.

    • I don’t think mocking and calling a persons’ view hocus pocus is the best way to debate. I find it difficult to find truth in any religion but I don’t dismiss their faith as I was brought up to respect people of different races and religions.

      I have read a few of the articles on this site now, they are well thought out and give me an insight and argument that I have not encountered before. I read them with an open mind, but at this stage of my life they do not resonate with my ideas and feelings.

    • Marvin:

      Do you intend to make a logically constructed, fact-based argument for your view that this is “hocus pocus”…or do you just intend to hope that someone will accept your view without any argument attached to it? We know what your stance is, and we know about the materialist assumptions that you start with, but where is your argument?

  2. I give you credit for the need to read and learn so you can form an opinion regarding this
    very volatile battle between fact and fiction.
    Now,when a baby is born it has no knowledge of the existence of any fairies in the garden or
    someone or something that has been regarded with all the powers and goodness one can possess.So until the flawed and supersticious grown-up begins to twist and damage the brain
    of this innocent being with imaginary stories of gods,angels and holy ghosts,this little being would not be aware of this religious hocus pocus.
    Before the whiteman discovered Africa the indiginious people lived quite happily with their medicine men and their own superstitions.BUT had no idea that they were created by this
    supreme “CREATOR”
    Now the black race in every corner of the world believes in a god forced upon them by the very same people who treated them worse that animals due to slavery.
    Desmond Tutu once said I quote.”When the whiteman came to my country,we had the land and they had the bible,and they told us to shut our eyes and pray.When we opened our eyes after praying(to god).They had the land and we had the bible”
    What I am trying to say is,use your own thinking and brain power to really see what is possible
    and logical.Do not rely on these so call” well read intelligent”people who think they are RIGHT
    because they all quote other people who they think are more “well read and intelligent” than themselves.Even their theories and opinions are based on just that.THEORIES,SUPERSTITIONS
    and their own INSECURITIES that they are trying to blind you with.

    • There is a reason for Scott refusing to reply to your dearly thought-out message, chap.

      Firstly, it contains nothing but mindless rhetoric, and no facts.
      Secondly, it contains forced assertions, to hide the lack of facts.
      Thirdly, if it is not a piece of rhetoric, or an assertion, it is not relevant.
      Okay, maybe there ARE facts in your dissertation on the delusion of the Militant Atheist mind, but they aren’t important to the topic.

      Let’s start by showing some reasons why that meat inside your head isn’t the answer.

      Identity
      The argument presented is based on the observation that you are a unified self, who persists over time, despite the fact that your body is constantly over-turning its components. We go even further, showing that the proposition Marvin is brain X, is simply absurd.

      1) Suppose we replace Marvin Jones’ entire brain with computer parts. (This is conceivable.)
      2) Either i. Marvin Jones is still alive, or ii.Marvin Jones is dead.
      3) If (i.), then Marvin Jones is not identical to his brain.
      4) If Marvin Jones is not identical to his brain, then materialism is false.
      5) If (ii.), then we have a new person, with the exact same mind as Marvin Jones.
      6) Marvin Jones did not die when his brain was replaced.
      7) Therefore, (3-4, contrapositive of 5).
      8) Therefore, materialism is false.

      The questionable premise is (6), of course. But it seems that rejecting (6) is absurd. Are we really expected to believe that I am a different person than I was seven years ago (as the material comprising the brain is completely replaced every seven years)?
      Now of course, the argument allows that a person is dependent on a physical brain, so merely referencing all the data that shows us time and again the importance of the brain… does not refute the argument! I am not trying to prove otherwise, and I gladly accept this data!

      Intentionality
      This is also known as the “aboutness” of something. I am thinking ABOUT how ridiculous it is for me to be writing this. This message is ABOUT how wrong you are when you make the assertions that you do. There are two kinds of intentionality: Primary Intentionality, which states that a particular object is about something other than itself, by its very nature. It is the essence of thought that they be about something other than themselves. Derived Intentionality, which states that a particular object has been given meaning by another.

      1) Matter is intrinsically meaningless (it lacks primary intentionality).
      2) If materialism is true, our thoughts are derived from material processes.
      3) Therefore, if materialism is true, our thoughts are intrinsically meaningless. (1,2)
      4) Our thoughts are intrinsically meaningful (I couldn’t write this if out thoughts were meaningless).
      5) Therefore, materialism is false. (4 and contrapositive of 3)

      Does matter really possess primary intentionality? If so, then you are affirming either Panpsychism (which is not materialism), or you affirm that matter is a manifestation of mind (which is not materialism). So denying (1) is out for you. (2) is a postulate of materialism, so cannot be denied. (3) logically follows from (1 and 2). What about (4)? Denying (4) is consistent with materialism, but is completely absurd; if your thoughts are given meaning from another, who or what is giving them meaning? Can’t be your material brain, that would be to deny (1). What if your thoughts simply have no meaning? Well, man-kind is obviously the biggest fool in the world, for believing that he is thinking about things, when he really isn’t –and notice how self-defeating that is, as your thoughts MUST be meaningful, or else you couldn’t believe that your thoughts are meaningless! All the premises are valid, and (5) follows from (4 and the contrapositive of 3).

      Efficacy of the Mind Over its Body
      It is a well-known fact that people are capable of affecting their bodies just by willing it hard enough. People have contracted warts, and by willing hard enough, they have managed to eliminate warts. Some of us have used our will power to prevent falling ill. The Placebo and Nacebo Effects are based on the principle that the mind can alter the physical body (sugar pills, etc.). How can the subjective mind have so much indirect influence over the objective world it lives in?

      1) Under materialism, the brain controls the mind.
      2) The mind controls the brain.
      3) Therefore, materialism is false.

      (1) is a tenet of materialism, as the material brain is where the mind comes from. (2) is obviously true; a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can actually will the part of the brain responsible for this error to come back under proper function. The causal chain is reverse what materialism predicts! (3) logically follows.
      Now that we can be certain that your materialism is purely unfounded, let’s get to your other issues.
      “What I am trying to say is,use your own thinking and brain power to really see what is possible and logical.”
      Scott knows that what we think is impossible tends to be mistaken. Therefore, when he knows the answers are available, he looks to see if there is evidence for something being possible. Logical? Everything he had said was based on a combination of evidence and logic.
      “Do not rely on these so call” well read intelligent”people who think they are RIGHT because they all quote other people who they think are more “well read and intelligent” than themselves.”
      Actually, this is not entirely true. The people he cited are (or were) leading scientists during the time when they had published what Scott is citing. There cannot be a person above them!
      “Even their theories and opinions are based on just that.THEORIES,SUPERSTITIONS and their own INSECURITIES that they are trying to blind you with.”
      It seems ironic that you act like dualists are science deniers, and that monists are scientifically minded, and then you go and denounce the opposing evidence. I should add this to the list of reasons for why Scott didn’t respond to you. I’ll do that right now*.

      Poor deluded chap.

      *Fourthly, your response is ultimately double-minded. If the evidence supported atheism, you would be accusing us of science denial (as shown by your first post, when you say the answer to everything is “six inches between the ears”). But because the evidence supports theism, you are denouncing these leaders of science!

  3. Dreams (the unconscious mind) often relate (in crazy weird ways) to life experiences or beliefs, usually recent ones. If you reached a state of unconsciousness, but death not entirely confirmed (NDE), but nearly so, these visions may be what you envisioned before the NDE.

    Could this be a possible explanation for NDEs, particularly the ones that involve an interpretation of the supreme being or supposed afterlife?

    • Well. look at it this way…. Have you ever had a dream that had the same characteristics as thousands and thousands of other people? This “dream” would include several common elements, including some or all of the following, depending on the depth of the “dream.” 1) meeting what untold thousands of people describe as a “personal God.” 2) A review of all of the events of your life (often in panoramic 3D). This life review includes experiencing the impact of one’s actions upon other people from the perspective of the other person. 3) Reunion with angels, Jesus, deceased loved ones. 4) Out of body experiences.

      The above are only a few of the common characteristics that these experiences share.

      You may have had a dream that had some vague similarities to a dream that a friend had experienced. However, nobody has had a dream that shares several common strikingly similar features to that of many thousands of other people.

      Please read my post entitled “How to Evaluate an NDE skeptic’s materialist explanations.”

      • I read it. Do you have any accounts of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, or any other non-Christian followers having an NDE reunion with the Christian god, angels, and/or Jesus?

        In your reference, how many of the 302 people who responded to the survey were of a non-Christian culture???

      • Scott, you assert that all people with NDEs report similar or identical elements of their experience, including a loving and personal god, correct?

        On the balance of probabilities it is fair to assume that not all of the thousands of people that have endured NDEs are christians, or in fact believe in any god, correct?

        If so, then by your own argument, it matters not one bit whether you believe in god or not – you’re still going to get one of the billions of personal gods just waiting to serve you and love you. This is pretty cool, but it kind of renders your entire website and philosophy redundant.

          • Empirically:
            It all boils down to this: there are plenty of evidences which favourt evolution if you would accept it. Thomas Mulvihill King delivered a lecture call “can modern world believe in God” http://www.amazon.com/Can-Modern-World-Believe-God/dp/B000BYF9LK In one of his quote, he said “Truth is absolute but we are relative people. Each one of us is with our relative limitation.”
            William Lane Craig (a brilliant debater who debated many atheists) is the supporter of progressive creationism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_creationism . Not sure why creationist are moving the evolution way. If you look back at history of concept of (G)god(s), you’ll see these stages of development: tribal religion, polytheist to monotheist. Initially, objects were worshipped as gods. Then wind, sea, season… has it’s own god(s). Then, everything becomes one God. It’s clear that the idea of (G)god(s) is a man made concept.
            I don’t like to say this, but until you can put a bullet into your head and come back and put your middle finger in my face, I cannot belief in (G)god(s). That’s my lazy man’s way out.
            Theoretically:
            Either (G)god(s) is just nature, creation is just evolution vs (G)god(s) exist in reality, keeping this world tragedy free. From the day Jesus resurrected, he opens the gate of heaven to all of us who believes in him and hence wiped out tragedy.
            In the opening of story of Job, God and the Devil appears to be betting on how Job would respond to disasters. My gosh, if this is real, all these time, God is playing us with the devil.

          • Here is the problem: There are many definitions of “evolution.” Below is an excerpt from The Politically Incorrect Guide Darwinism and Intelligent Design:

            Eugenie C. Scott writes: “What unites astronomical, geological, and biological evolution is the concept of change through time. But…not all change is evolution, so we must distinguish evolution as being cumulative change through time.”

            Nobody rejects evolution in this sense.. Our grandparents had a perfectly good word for it: they called it “history.”

            In biology, evolution takes on additional meanings. Some biologists define it as “a change in gene frequencies over generations.” Like “change over time” or “cumulative change over time,” evolution in this sense is uncontroversial. My genes are different from my parents’, and my children’s genes are different from mine. So what?

            Charles Darwin’s term for biological evolution was “descent with modification.” When used in a limited sense, however, even this is uncontroversial.

            …Breeders have been using artificial selection to produce descent with modification for centuries—within existing species. Natural selection has also been observed to do the same in the wild–but again, only within existing species. So nobody in any field quarrels with “change over time” or “cumulative change over time.” And nobody in biology doubts “change in gene frequencies” or “descent with modification” within existing species.

            But Charles Darwin claimed far more than any of these things. In The Origin of Species he set out to explain the origin of not just one or a few species, but all species after the first–in short, all of the diversity of life on Earth. The correct word for this is not evolution, but Darwinism.

            So the problem is that the terms “evolution” and “Darwinism” are often used interchangeably, as if they were synonymous, when they are really not. Evolution, in certain senses of the term, is virtually undisputed. But evolution in the Darwinian sense that all species are theorized to have descended from one common ancestor (brancing out to form a “tree of life”) has been completely discredited by the fossil evidence. Please review this video to see for clarification.

            Further, Darwin’s claim that new species emerge from previously existing species (through a process known as “speciation”) has not been demonstrated in even one single example. University of Bristol [England] bacteriologist Alan H. Linton said:

            None [evidence] exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of twenty to thirty minutes, and populations achieved after eighteen hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another… Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic [i.e. bacterial] to eukaryotic [i.e., plant and animal] cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms.

            You may also recall the following from my “evolution” post, which I have copied and pasted below:

            University of Massachusetts and Oxford University Professor of Biology Lynn Margulis has predicted that history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as “a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.” Behe further notes that Margulis is known for challenging molecular biologists present in the audience at her public talks to name a single, unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations. But, “her challenge goes unmet,” Behe reveals.

            Regarding this topic, please watch this video of atheist biologist Richard Dawkins being asked if he can cite an example of an evolutionary process or a mutation which can be shown to increase the information in the genome (which is necessary for more complex species to emerge from simpler life forms through natural selection). Please note that the question which he eventually answers was in no way the question he was asked. His eventual answer discusses intermediate steps in the fossil record, but does not answer the interviewer’s question. In short, whether or not there are intermediate steps displayed in the fossil record is irrelevant to the question of whether he can cite an example of an evolutionary process or mutation which can be shown to increase the information in the genome.

          • Scott

            I watched the video, it was unbelievable – in the sense of not being able to be believed. When someone won’t even look at the camera you know they’re lying, and this guy clearly has an agenda. Besides, if being in a white room for eternity is hell, I’ve spent worse afternoons in Swindon.

            I don’t know why you pointed me in that direction though – it wasn’t an answer to my question at all (this seems to be a common tactic of yours). I asked you two questions:

            1. Do people with NDEs report an encounter with a personal god? (You said they did so unless you’re now denying it, let’s say Yes).
            2. Are any of the people with NDEs atheists (unlike your YouTube example, who did believe in god)? Again on the balance of probabilities it’s fair to say that some of the thousands were atheists.
            If both of these are true, then clearly it doesn’t matter whether you believe in god or not. Sometimes believers go to “hell” and clearly sometimes non-believers go to heaven. Seems like a bit of a crap-shoot, which since it happened in Vegas is somehow appropriate.

            The whole “white room” and common shared NDE elements are completely explainable and totally logical in any case. I’m sure an astute truth-seeker like you will already have learned that the medical circumstances of most NDEs are identical – loss of consciousness (from any of a multitude of causes from heart attacks, strokes, drowning, asphyxiation etc) and resulting lack of oxygen to the brain. It is well-documented that a lack of oxygen causes everything to go a bright white like it did for your Vegas buddy. When top track cyclists push into oxygen debt in the final few laps they often report that their field of vision becomes narrower and narrower until it becomes a white light covering everything. If they’re not at the finish line by then, it’s time to back off or risk unconsciousness.

            When someone has an NDE they frequently talk of moving towards the light (their oxygen is getting really low now) and then being “yanked back” to consciousness as their oxygen levels rise. My sister nearly drowned as a young girl and spoke of a similar thing, until she was rescued and resuscitated. No personal god though, go figure.

          • Mike:

            1) Yes, people with NDEs report encounters with a personal God over and over again. Below is a cut and paste of a pertinent excerpt from my “Has anyone met God?” post:

            In 2005, IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) released The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences to summarize the conclusions of 30 years of research in this field. Some of the revelations featured in this book (which appear below) should come as a wake-up call to those inclined to doubt the existence of the Deity:

            NDErs often believe that they have survived because God willed it and had a divine purpose in bringing them back…They have experienced the love of God and been changed by it (Grosso 1981). Many have come face-to-face with a personal God with whom they continue to maintain a loving relationship.

            …for most the result appears to be a spiritual awakening. The NDE often brings with it a spiritual certainty and intense desire to conform one’s life to divine will. The new relationship with what is often a personal God becomes central to the NDErs’ lives.

            2) Yes, many atheists have reported NDEs where they encounter a personal God. I provide video links to 3 such atheist NDEs in my post entitled “When I Die, Is That It?” Some of these can be fairly time consuming, but they are well worth it. There are three examples at this post, and I can provide more if you request.

            Your comments about the “white light” are very similar to the common arguments from NDE skeptics. Recall that the “white light” is just one aspect among many of the NDE phenomenon. You can hardly explain away the entire phenomenon by just addressing one minute aspect of the phenomenon and ignoring the many other aspects. What, for example, would be your materialist explanation for why NDErs repeatedly report a “life review” in which everything significant from the NDEr’s life is reviewed? This includes experiencing the emotional impact that one’s actions had upon others, from the perspective of the other person.

            Can oxygen deprivation cause you to experience the emotional impact every action you have ever taken in your whole life has had on other people, and as viewed from the other individual’s vantage point? In other words, can oxygen deprivation cause you to see the world through someone else’s eyes?

            I address this issue in more detail in my snippet entitled “How to evaluate an NDE skeptic’s materialist explanations for the phenomenon.” The depth of the NDE experience determines how many of these common aspects are experienced. If your sister saw a white light but nothing more, she probably did not have a very deep NDE…if she had an NDE at all.

            If you feel that the NDEs (such as the ones to which I provide video links) are unbelievable, than your only available explanation is that the millions of NDErs are lying.

          • Scott

            Replying to your post of 18 Feb at 1.55pm:

            1. You still haven’t responded to the point I’ve raised twice now: if both believers and non-believers experience a “personal god” when they die, then clearly it doesn’t matter whether you believe in god or not.
            2. I didn’t say that all the videos were unbelievable; I said the one you pointed me to was unbelievable. Stop making things up.
            3. The “thousands of NDEs” seem to have become “millions of NDEs”. Are you exaggerating for effect, or still making things up?
            4. It is arrant nonsense to say that when people with NDE “see” a review of their life, that it includes “experiencing the emotional impact that one’s actions had upon others, from the perspective of the other person.” – and even more ridiculous to draw a conclusion from this fallacy. These people may well believe that’s what they experienced but you can no more experience something from another person’s viewpoint when they’re dead than you can when they’re alive. And yet there are obvious clues as to what effect a person’s actions had on those affected at the time, when everyone was alive. I know when I’ve done something, whether it’s good or bad, how other people will view it. All that’s happening is that the review includes your projections of how other people felt at the time. How and why does this happen? Who knows what chemical reactions happen in the brain when it is in extremis. But answer me this? What is the point of the “review” and in particular the review with your perception of other people’s reactions?

          • 1) Yes it does matter whether you believe in God or not. Please review the atheist NDEs where the experiencer wound up in hell. Also review the NDE I linked you to the 1st time you asked the question…where the guy who went to Vegas went somewhere much less enjoyable during his NDE.
            2) OK…then are the other videos believeable? Why would the other similar NDEs be believable but not the first one? Have you reviewed them? I know they require some time investment, but
            3) There are thousands of documented NDEs, and millions of reported NDEs. About 5% of the American population alone (or roughly 15 million people). That is the difference here between thousands and millions. Am I making things up? I provide references for all the claims that I make.
            4) So your reply to this phenomenon is just to state that it cannot be possible because your belief system does not allow for it. Chemical reactions in the brain cannot account for NDEs because there have been several documented NDEs that occured after all brain activity had ceased (such as the case of Pam Reynolds in the The Day I Died documentary, where all the blood was drained from her brain prior to surgery). If you believe that chemical reactions can account for consciousness, then are you implying that it is the chemicals that are having experiences?

            What is the point of the review? NDErs report over and over and over again that the purpose of life is to grow in the capacity to love others.

          • Have any persons of a non-Christian culture (not atheists of a Christian culture) reported an NDE experience with the Christian god, angels, and/or Jesus?

            The reason I ask this is because it would be substantive to say that thousands of Muslims from the Middle East or Indonesia, or thousands of Buddhists from Asia, have reported an NDE experience with the Christian god, angels, and/or Jesus.

          • A “being of light” is reported by NDErs from a variety of cultures.

            People from non-Christian cultures do not commonly interpret the “being of light” as Jesus, but as Dinesh D’Souza writes “lets assume the radiant being isn’t wearing a name tag–clearly the identification shows an element of cultural projection.”

            If you google “Jesus NDE,” you will find all kinds of examples NDEs where the “being of light” is described as Jesus. However, if you google “Mohammad NDE” or “Buddha NDE,” there do not seem to be documented examples of people encountering these religious figures. I do not think this should be taken as evidence against the veracity of Islam or Buddhism, however, because neither of these figures made any claims to divinity. Only Jesus did.

          • Danno:

            You ask “Have any persons of a non-Christian culture (not atheists of a Christian culture) reported an NDE experience with the Christian god, angels, and/or Jesus?”

            The answer is a resounding YES!

            Please view the following You Tube NDE testimonies from Muslims:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XshWBbibAM

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNcPVNboooQ

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgwR8jRiszs

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfGv9HyvbBM

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGyRTEwb8FU

            And check out this NDE testimony from a Buddhist monk (who encountered Jesus)

            Scott

          • Danno:

            Do you have an argument suggesting that Jesus did not make divinity claims? Please make sure it is something more substantive than “I found an author (Ehrman) who shares my belief.” Merely citing an author who supports your view (and who is completely out of step with mainstream bibilcal scholarship, by the way) without really understanding the substance and framework of his arguments does not contribute anything to the debate.

            In the future, when you make a comment (such as “or did he?”) please back it up with a rationally constructed, fact based argument. Mentioning a book without referencing the specific arguments that it makes is empty.

            I am about to start considering such comments as spam and deleting them.

          • To your remark, that only Jesus made claims of divinity, I think Danno’s, ‘Or did he?’ question is just.

            Jesus never claims in his lifetime to be the Son Of God. When under the most significant trial in scripture, prior to his crucifiction, Jesus was asked are you the Son of God and Jesus states clearly, ‘I am the Son Of Man’. In all his life he never utters the words, that he is the Saviour, God or the Messiah.

          • I’ve read your article. I think that’s a fair enough reply and obviously Christianity is founded on the belief that Jesus was God. I think what you say is fair enough, but it is true to say that there are no quotations in the Bible of Jesus calling himself God. Many miracles are performed, inferences made and he often refers to himself as a teacher or even Lord as one of your quotations says. But, he never says the words, I am Divine or God. I was taught this in Sunday School, this is not an anti religious rebuttal. He only ever claimed that he was, ‘The Son of Man’ or ‘Teacher’.

            It is fair that Danno asked the question and he is right really, but your article is fair as well.

      • Thank you!! Exactly!! These people will see. Time will show them. God is awesome!! That’s all I got to say about that!

  4. This is a good post brother. Its good for Christians to hear the views of atheist, because when we go to God and the Bible for answers, it increases our faith and knowledge.

    BTW Im a 22 year old black male, VERY Afrocentric. Some people even think Im racist because of my views. But I tell yall this, dont bother with the comment left by Marvin Jones, he is still stuck on “the white man is the devil” nonsense.

    A true Christian gets that warm feeling when he/she meets another Christian on the street no matter what race or ethnicity the person is. If I was stuck in a city where most of the Christians were white, I would have no problem fellowshiping with them.

    And Marvin Jones, you should study African history in concerns of spirituality, African knew who God is long before Europeans came there. Besides Christians are instructed to spread the goodness of God’s word. So Christianity had to reach Africans some how right?

    • Hi

      My comment has nothing to do with the white man being the devil or the black man being
      naive in being taken in by any religion.It is about anyone being brainwashed into a way of life without their questioning or studying of these teachings.I assume that you are extremely sensitive of anyone questioning or critisising your deep beliefs, so educate me.
      When and how did the African continent come to learn the teachings of Chritiianity?
      Seriously,I would love to know.

    • A true christian isn’t racist, although that’s “mighty white of you” to fellowship with the white folks in the unfortunate event you got “stuck in a city” of the wrong colour. Could you be any more patronising?

      • What is a true christian? Someone who believes that one can walk on water?
        Feed five thousand people with a few fish and loaves of bread?Give life to the dead? And claim to be the son of god?Someone whojust believes anything they have been told, without questioning the facts?Someone who will kill for being offended by a non believer?
        Bigotry,hate,murder,genocide,greed,rape,power and the belief in a god that
        gave us all these lovely gifts are inherent in us.
        START THINKING!

        • Marvin:

          Just because the miracles cited in the bible cannot be explained by a current-day understanding of science does not mean that they could not have happened.

          Think of it like this: If you could go back in time 500 years and tell people that music and voices could be instantly sent hundreds of miles through invisible waves in the air (that could also not be felt or heard), what might they think? Answer: Ridiculous and superstitious.

          But today, we do not think it is ridiculous or superstitious. Rather, we call it radio.

          You are making the common mistake of believing that your perception of reality provides a comprehensive picture of reality itself.

          God did not give us murder, genocide, rape, etc… We did. God did not commit the holocaust, humans did.

          • Scott

            So the existence of radio etc must be due to evolution and progress due to enhanced intelligence.So until there is undoubtable proof of the existence of god,people should refrain from speaking in a way that it is given that god does exist.
            You,yourself do not produce any evidence of a god,but rely on other emminent writers and thinkers to make your case.
            It seems that the people who have total belief will move heaven and earth to prove your point.
            Also, you say that god did not give us murder,genocide,rape etc,BUT I thought that he is responsible for EVERYTHING that exists and has always existed,SO he gave us the means to use these tools as we please.So please stop using the bits that suit and discarding the bits that do not.

          • Marvin,

            Feel free to bring to my attention to the bits that do not support my argument so we can discuss them. My point with the radio analogy is that you must be very careful not to assume that your view of the reality is a comprehensive view. Because miracles do not fit into your everyday experience of life does not mean that they are impossible. Radio waves did not fit into the everyday experience of people who lived 500 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that they did not exist in the universe.

            With regard to your comments about murder, genocide, rape, etc.., please refer to my “If God is Good…” post.

    • Marvin Jones needs to study a lot of stuff!! He is quite blind to God’s love. God is awesome. He keeps me excited all the time. He can change your life & you will have such peace. You have to believe. You need to pray & ask God to show you the way & he will. It took me 39 years, but believe me it was worth the wait. It is amazing!!!

  5. This is to Marvin Jones… You say that god is responsible for everything that exists. Well really thats not true. You seemed confused. Ok God is responsible for most of the stuff that exists on this earth but dont forget about the devil. See in the bible it talks about the 10 deadly sins and one of them are thou shall not kill. If you murder someone then that is a sin. So thats not god thats responsible for you doing that, Its the devil. You see the devil speaks to you in ways you couldnt even amagine. The devil is always trying to lurge you into his deep dark place. A place that I have been before and do not ever want to go back. I speak of the devil as the monster he drags you into all kinds of trouble and drugs and in the end he turns your life upside down, and might even kill you. So when you read this just keep in mind that the devil has a part in the biblic part to… =)

    • God says you cannot do anything unless he allows it. You couldn’t even lift your little finger. Nothing takes place unless God wants it to. You can do nothing if God is against it. The fact that it happens is God’s will. If you are allowed to do whatever you do, then it is God’s will. God gives us free choice.But it is not his will that you be punished unendingly if you don’t make the choice he wants. Life goes on forever & ever. You simply change form. After you change form,consequences cease to exist. There is just knowing. We do have consequences on Earth. These mean people that do bad stuff on Earth suffer because they will never know peace while they are Earth as you & I do. Always believe.

      • To Beth and Heather.
        It really is impossible to take anything seriously from anyone who so radically
        believes in serpents who talk,creatures with horns and tails(devil), men who walk
        on water,awake the dead,feed 5000 people wit a few loaves of bread and a few fishes,a god who made us in his own image.YEH? did he look like a chinaman,
        indian (red or brown),white man,blackman,arab,aborigine,or do you just believe anything because you are too afraid of the probability that it really is all in your heads.OH! I forgot, Men in frocks who teach the word of god while sexually abusing children of both sexes.
        Seen any fairies lately ladies?

        • Marvin,

          You are here committing a couple different logical errors. The first is the error of making a caricature of your opponents views and then attacking that caricature… rather than your opponents actual views. This is often referred to as “building a straw man and then shredding it.”

          Few Christian believers insist that all of the biblical narratives must be taken 100% literally. The “serpent who talks” in Genesis may have been intended as a metaphor for a spiritual truth that cannot be communicated effectively through other means.

          The “creature with horns and tails (devil)” that you refer to is another example. Metaphors are often the most effective means, or even the only means, to effectively communicate spiritual truths. Is the devil an actually physical being with horns and a tail? Almost no Christians would assert this.

          Secondly, the belief that there can be no such thing as miracles is dependent upon the view that there is no such thing as the supernatural. But we know that there exists a supernatural because we now know that the “natural” world had a beginning and had a cause. Time, space, matter, energy did not exist, and then all of a sudden (in the Big Bang), they did exist. That which caused the “natural” world to come into existence can only be termed “supernatural.”

          Further, if you think that miracles are ridiculous, then why do you believe in them? What on earth am I talking about? I am talking about the atheist belief that the universe “just is” and does not need a cause or explanation (or the universe is “a brute fact” as atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell put it). A universe that “just is” (existent without a cause) is best described as a “miracle.” This is especially the case since we know know beyond any reasonable doubt that the universe had a definite beginning (it is NOT eternally existent).

          Secondly, how about the existence of life? Is this another “brute fact,” or do you agree with your fellow atheists (such as the biologists Richard Dawkins and Francis Crick, and others) that life on earth can be explained by the fact that it was brought here by aliens from outer space. (See this video, again, of Dawkins endorsing the idea).

          • Scott
            Your trusty followers and yourself, really have to start admitting that you pick the convenient parts from the bible that suits your dogmatic unshakeable beliefs and treat the ridiculous parts as metaphors etc.As I have mentioned before,this belief in god used to be based on biblical teachings which have always been taken totally literally.AS time has progressed and modernised, well read people like yourself have found it necessary to move the goalposts and try to justify the ridiculous and impossible with physics and science.I have read Dawkins and Hitchens (Christopher) and though like them I radically disbelieve in gods( even the greek ones) Blow me down! How many are there.I jest.
            Even these emminent people do not convince me of their side of the debate.
            So getting back to the teachings of your bible,just answer my simple question.Do you believe that god made us in his own image? yes or no? if yes then answer the question that I asked the two ladies above which prompted you to speak on their defence,as they do not seem to know the answers themselves.

          • Marvin:

            Every aspect of the bible has always been taken literally by everyone? Perhaps by you, but not by everyone.

            Here, again, you are building a straw man and then shredding him. You are making a caricature of Christian believers as being all extreme biblical literalists because this suits your purposes. But, in reality, there has never been a point in time where all Christians were extreme literalists.

  6. Scott

    I am afraid that you can baffle all your trusty followers who can not and will not question the
    infallibilities of their dogma with your knowledge and dependence on supposed intellectual
    emminent so called people who, like yourself will move heaven and earth to justify your beliefs.
    BUT you seem unable to answer my simplest questions regarding your ambigious dogmatic beliefs.PLease explain which are the parts one can take literally or not from the book that makes you so positive of your beliefs.So if all my questions in the above comments are not to be taken literally.Can you please try to explain if you can without the usual cliches about god giving us a free will to abuse children whilst hiding behind the sacred name of god (priesthood), or the ability of a virgin giving birth,etc etc etc.

    • Marvin,

      If you want me to ask me about whether a specific passage in the bible should be taken literally, I will respond as best I can. But if you are hoping for me to write out a detailed list for you regarding what was intended literally and what was not, you should not be surprised that I do not have the time for that.

      Regarding miracles such as the virgin birth, Craig L. Blomberg writes:

      “For some people, the miracles in the Gospels form the most incredible part of the New Testament accounts. Modern science, they say, has demonstrated that the universe is a closed continuum of cause and effect. The ancients may have believed in the possibility of supernatural forces, but we know better today.

      In fact, this cluster of opinions proved more common a half-century ago than today. Philosophers of science have stressed that by definition all science can adjudicate is that which is repeatable under controlled conditions. If there is a God of the kind which Jews, Christians, and Muslims have historically believed, then we would expect him occasionally to bypass the laws of nature.”

      The view that miracles are scientifically impossible is based upon the outdated view of science which suggests that the universe is a “closed system” which is not acted upon and was not caused by outside (supernatural) forces. This view holds that the universe has existed eternally and therefore does not need a supernatural cause or explanation. But this view has been completely and utterly discredited by science (including Einstein’s theory of general relativity), as I have demonstrated in my posts entitled “Is there a God? (What is the chance the world is the result of chance?)” and “Isn’t the universe eternal? (Thus doing away with the need for a creator).”

      I am afraid that it is your belief in an eternally existing universe that is a “closed system” which is unscientific….not belief in miracles. Miracles are simply a case of the supernatural cause of the universe (read:God) occasionally bypassing the laws of nature which he has established.

      Below is one of my favorite quotes regarding the supernatural cause of the universe:

      “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover…. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”

      –Astronomer, physicist and founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies Robert Jastrow.

      • Scott

        I am afraid if your beliefs as a Christian are founded on the holy bible, then they are based on myths,legends,hearsay,murder,genocide and the most implausible events
        which are accepted without question.Fine,we obviously have to accept that we are extreme opposites in this subject.May I ask one more very simple question and would like your opinion.If as you definitely that the “BIG Bang” was the result of a “Creator”
        Then why does it appear that as far as we know (no suppositions or maththematical
        assumptions please)and discovering Galaxies that we may never be able to get to,that your Creator has only put life on tiny little Earth in all of infinite space.
        A little bit of an oversight? or could just be wrong in your necessity to believe.

      • Anyone like Chris Hitchens who starts with the premise “there is no God” then anything religious people might believe concerning miracles will obviously be false. But then Hitchens says “looks these deluded fools even believe in lifeafter death. How delusional is that? I rest my case.” And yet this totally false logic is readily embraced by the Hitchens’ faithful.
        If one starts with the premise that this magnificantly designed universe came into existence for a purpose then all things are possible, even the miracle that 3 quadrillion atoms came together to make you, the unique person that u are.
        Pax vobiscum

  7. If Scott cannot answer my question, what chance have you dogma ridden people have?
    Sorry folks, what do you really believe in?

    • Marvin:

      Why has God only put life on earth? I don’t know if this is really the case. Besides, exactly how does this relate to the topic of the existence of God?

      Do you want to talk about dogma? You apparently believe that materialism (the belief that the material world is ultimate reality) is undeniably true. If this is not dogma in it’s purest sense, then what is it?

      My essays and posts on this website should more than adequately describe what I believe in.

      Marvin, the mistake that you (and many other atheists) make is this: You expose competing views to intense scrutiny, but you fail to expose your own views to any scrutiny whatsoever. How can you really believe in materialism in spite of what modern physics has to say about consciousness being the ground of reality (as I describe in my God Is Real: Why modern physics has discredited atheism post)?

  8. I’m Gay, I believe that god made us all….So why does the church not accept that god made me this way? Does the church think that god made a mistake?

    • Christians who bash gay people are violating the precepts of their own religion. For the purpose of argument, let’s start with the assumption that homosexuality is sinful.

      Does that put gay people in the spotlight as particularly sinful? Certainly not. In the bible, it says we are ALL sinful. I’m not gay, but when I lust after women who I am not married to (or swear, or lie, or cheat), my sin cannot be judged as any less significant than a sexual sin that a person of a different sexual orientation commits.

      The simple fact is that we will ALL struggle with sin until the day we die, gay or straight. I will probably struggle with the sin of oogling women until the day I die. If homosexuality is sinful, then gay men will struggle with a different sexual sin than me. So what?

      In the book of James in the bible, it teaches that there is a simple way to distinguish between a true teaching and a false one. A true teaching fosters love, and a false one does not.

      So let’s put the practice of singling out gay people for criticism to the test: Does it foster love? Ah….that would have to be a “no.”

      Yes, the bible contains condemnations of homosexuality. But, many people overlook the fact that it contains far more condemnations against heterosexual sin.

      When you mention “the church,” I assume you are talking about the Catholic Church. I am not a Catholic, so I can’t really comment too much on its teachings.

      I strongly recommend that you read What Jesus Meant by Garry Wills. It delves into this topic quite well. Christians who bash gays, as this book points out, are basically modern day Pharisees. The Pharisees were a group of religious folk who considered themselves to be very righteous. They perceived the sin in others very keenly, but were blind to their own sin.

  9. On many websites, the “tone” of the atheist is often vehemently hostile. Many “reformed” atheists claim that they were desperately searching for God and their arguments against His existence stemmed from their dire need to find irrefutable proof beyond dispute that God does indeed exist. It is easy for non-beliver to feel comfort in his mortality and believe there is nothing beyond the physical, but moments before death, there is the natural fear in all of us that drives us to cling onto the only known form of life; the physical.

    If a spiritual afterlife does exist, it seems to be so far from our imaginations that it is uncomprehendible. We will not have physical bodies, therefore we will not hunger, thirst or sleep or God forbid, have sex. We will not have TV or books or sports or music (instruments); we will only have our consciousness and somehow the ability to telepathically communicate without a brain, mouth, lips, or tongues.

    One of the basic problems with Jesus physically rising from the dead is it sets up the scientific improbability that during the second coming of Christ that all bodies will be raised from the dead as Jesus’ and those that were cremated our SOL.

    Lawyers take a bit of truth and weave that truth with a majority of opinion, much in the same way as theoretical scientists. In the end, there will never be a conclusive smoking gun. Everyone will die, that is for certain and only after death will any individual know if there is an after life and what kind of after life it will be — certainly, it will be very different from the physical life we now know and that in itself can be quite scare and an eternity of no consciousness at all may seem a better alternative than being eternally aware — won’t it get boring in heaven without all that we have been used to on Earth?

  10. Just re-read the drivel above! Where do you get your statements from? Your beliefs are based on
    NO evidence whatsoever.Someone rising from the dead and floating up into the clouds.All the dead
    bodies rising when some guy in the sky decides it is time.Where do you get these hocus pocus
    ideas from.They are only beliefs of people who are too afraid to question the tripe that has been force fed into their empty brains.The very brain that is meant to ask for one iota of evidence of all the idiotic tales in these so called books of god.
    You believers have the audacity to go around making idiotic,senseless and unproven DOGMATIC
    claims and cliches to all and sundry as though they are a fact of life.You people need to keep all this MUMBO JUMBO to yourselves

    • OK, Marvin….you have stated your views. Now please support them with an actual argument instead of just forceful rhetoric (“mumbo jumbo”, etc.) and crude caricatures of Christian beliefs (“All the dead bodies rising when some guy in the sky decides it is time,” etc.).

      For example, what is your explanation for the encounters with God described in this essay? Are you going to furnish us with any counter-explanation whatsoever?

  11. We all have a worldview of how we make sense of reality. It seems to me that everyone including atheists tormented by the thought of an ultimate transcendence, are searching for meaning and destiny. One famous atheist said I just dont want there to be a God, I dont want the world to be like that. As Chris above said, “It is easy for non-believer to feel comfort in his mortality and believe there is nothing beyond the physical” Is this wishful thinking?
    One thing about faith is that it is a gift helping those who embrace it, to make sense of life’s experience. Sorry steve, without acknowledging what it means to be truly human no amount of scientific testimony will sway the closeminded skeptic. The recent study “Hardwired to Connect” cites evidence that we are hardwired to seek answers to non-scientific questions such as why are we here? What is the purpose and meaning of life? In a very real sense, it appears that we can’t help asking these questions. Neuroscientists Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew B. Newberg have used brain imaging to study individuals involved in spiritual practices such as contemplative prayer and meditation. During such states, they have found an increase in activity in a number of frontal brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex.
    A skeptic might claim that this neurological evidence actually proves that religion is literally, “all in the mind” since we can reduce the religious experience to a set of brain waves. Drs. Newberg and d’Aquili respond to this interpretation by observing that encountering freshly baked apple pie will also show up on the brain scan. Each of the senses of smell, taste and vision, registers distinct responses to the apple pie, and these responses can be measured and observed. This fact does not prove that the apple is “all in the mind.”
    Second, the children of non-religious parents still choose to seek religion. According to the authors of Hardwired to Connect, “Studies reveal that children whose parents have low levels of religiosity report levels of personal religiosity quite similar to those of other children– additional evidence to support the thesis that the need in young people to connect to ultimate meaning and to the transcendent is not merely the result of social conditioning, but is instead an intrinsic aspect of the human experience.” (pg. 32, citing Lisa Miller, et.al., “Religiosity and substance use in children of opiate addicts,” Journal of Substance Abuse 13 (2001): 323-336.)

    The hardened skeptic will probably say its just wishful thinking (or worse) but let me tell readers of a dream I had a few years ago. A teacher from my past whom I once had a lot of respect for, came to me in a dream and wanted me to follow him to show me something. Now I guess he may well be dead now but what he revealed to me left me with feelings of esctasy for days. If heaven is anything like what I experienced in that dream, you will not be disappointed.
    Pax vobiscum.

    • “You believers have the audacity to go around making idiotic, senseless and unproven DOGMATIC”

      Nothing could be more “idiotic,senseless and unproven” then an atheist who clings to the view that all reality is ultimately physical matter or that our finite rationally intelligible universe needs no explanation.
      If atheism is true then the brain is just a “collocation of atoms” (Russell) or “a bunch of selfish genes with no other purpose than survival” (Dawkins) So if the brain functions as a bunch of chemical reactions in a survival machine then all reality is reducible to mindless matter. Q1 are the abstract laws of science & Math invented or were they discovered? Q2 How do intelligent immaterial realities exist in a universe of mindless matter &energy?
      If atheism is true, the universe is just product of blind forces & mindless matter having no purpose or design. Why should it exist at all or obey abstract laws, & not be a random, chaotic mess of noxious swirling gases? Meaningless tragedies are exactly what one would expect. Since it has no meaning, no mind would evolve to ever deduce it has no meaning. If any life were possible it would evolve thru blind chance as molecules & selfish genes. There would be no meaning no hope no escape.
      If theism is true, 1)the universe has been created for a purpose 2)it would be finite in the past, exhibiting incredible power, design & predictability 3) an intelligent creature would emerge to observe the universe 2b rationally intelligible 4) Such a creature would be blessed with free will&reason, ability to grieve, dream, hope & to love 5) the issue of a personal God & transcendent meaning would be the most compelling issue dominating all human history. 6)life would have ultimate meaning & destiny

  12. “There must be a rational explanation for this.” Translate: “There must be an explanation that is consistent with what I believe! Just you wait!”
    The use of the word “rational” is both unwarranted, and an abusive ad hominem attack. It is unwarranted because materialist explanations are clearly not rational. It is an abusive ad hominem because it says that anybody who disagrees is an irrational bigot (very ironic).

    “A common method is to invoke human fallibility: people are misled, superstitious, crazy, liars, or deluded, so you can stop paying attention to anything that doesn’t fit your idea of the way the world works.”
    I wonder how long it will be? The atheist, if he truly is the most rational animal, must eventually come to realize that the axe swings both ways. If he can deny facts that are inconsistent with his view, we can, too. Maybe it’s all just a lie that the universe is fourteen billion years old, perpetrated by scientists who are trying to maintain their pseudoskepticism?

    That these people are supposedly a growing demographic group (they aren’t, see here: http://spectator.org/archives/2011/02/28/thriving-christianity and here: http://www.sneps.net/RD/uploads/1-Shall%20the%20Religious%20Inherit%20the%20Earth.pdf), simply is beyond me; must be the “freedom” that they are given. I could keep going, but never mind.

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