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Why all people believe in God?

Human MindAn ancient Near Eastern psalmist wrote, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4, King James Version). There is an innate desire of supernaturalism. This is why most societies on earth held to kinds of beliefs in deities. In 16th century, John Calvin grounds his religious epistemology in what he calls sensus divinitatis. According to Calvin, all people have a sense, not only of the existence of a Creator-God (Helm, 1998, p. 93), but also of a “positive affective and conative condition towards” Him (Helm, 1998, p. 88).

Calvin does not, by means of modern apologetics; attempt to prove his claims, as he suggests that this sense is simply based on innate, properly functioning capacities (Helm, 1998, p. 93). To clarify what Calvin means, Helm (1998) writes, “Calvin does not say that all men believe in God; he says that all men have the seed of religion, the disposition to believe in God” (p. 105). In 20th century, C. S. Lewis (2001) equally argued that creatures possess innate desires that correspond to their satisfaction. If an innate desire finds no satisfaction in this world, it is probable that there is another world beyond it.

Alvin Plantinga (1981) proposes that the belief in God, in absence of a defeater, needs not to be based on other beliefs or propositions; but one is perfectly rational in accepting it, just as he accepts the reality of past events, actuality of the world around us or existence of other minds.

Not only theology and philosophy has focused on this question; preponderance of scientific evidence emerging from cognitive science suggests that beliefs about the existence of God(s), dualism, afterlife or moral realism are not explicitly cultural indoctrinated ideas. They are intuitive innate implicit[1] beliefs. (Bering, 2006). On the contrary, disbelief in supernatural “requires some hard cognitive work to reject or override the intuitions that nourish religious beliefs” (Norenzayan & Gervais, 2013, p. 20). Bering (2010) goes as far as to say about atheists that, “this self-classification has little – if any – bearing on what actually happens inside their head” (p.167). This does not show that these biases lead to a specific understanding of God(s), it merely points towards a conclusion that humans are wired to be intuitive theists, believing in transcendent beings. Therefore, also children not exposed to socio-cultural influence would naturally come to hold such beliefs. Banerjee and Bloom (2013), dissent from the consensus view, nevertheless they suggest we are prone to hold similar conceptions, as our “cognitive biases make humans ‘receptive’ to religious ideas, but do not themselves generate them” (p. 7).  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Reasonable Faith

 

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Christian God & Muslim Allah 2/2

Attributes of God

Quran and BibleIt is often pointed out that the list of Gods attributes in both religions is nearly identical. Both acknowledge His Judaic background and understand God to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and morally perfect creator of all that is, eternal alpha and omega, first and last, greatest conceivable being abounding with grace, mercy and compassion, most holy and righteous who alone by his very definition is worthy of worship. Except for a few disagreements, many of these above mentioned major characteristics of what is referred to be God are astoundingly corresponding. At this point however it is important to ask what do Muslims and Christians mean when they use these labels? It is the case that the same terms are being applied but are they also embodying the same concepts and ideas?[1] In the ensuing section I will analyze several of these notions.

Omnipotence

When it is being said that God can do all things and there is nothing He cannot do, Islam and Christianity differ in their philosophic conclusions. While Muslims perceive Allah’ omnipotence in the absolute sense of the word, Christian understanding maintains a certain qualification – God can do all things (that are logically possible) and there is nothing (logically possible) He cannot do. In Hebrews 6:18 we read that “…it is impossible for God to lie”[2]. Since God is morally perfect Christians hold that it would be in the direct contrast with His nature, as if He lied, He could not be morally perfect anymore. Likewise He cannot create a stone He would not be able to lift or make a married bachelor as these are logical contradictions. Similarly God cannot learn anything new or be wrong due to His omniscience and He cannot sin due to his holiness. Consequently there are number of things Christian God cannot do, while being considered almighty within the logical framework. Now, the generous Muslim view of omnipotence raises at least one disturbing possibility. Craig writes: “[on] Islamic view of God’s power that trumps everything, even His own nature… God is so powerful that he could say to faithful Muslims on the Day of Judgment, “Ha, ha! I tricked you! I’m sending all of you to eternal hell for believing in me and my Prophet!” On this view God is not constrained even by His own goodness.”[3]

Trustworthiness

The implication springing from previous paragraph is thus unavoidable. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Reasonable Faith, Theology

 

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Christian God & Muslim Allah 1/2

(or) same thing, different name…

In an interview for christianitytoday.com made in 2011, Miroslav Volf, professor of theology at Yale Divinity School, was asked this question: “Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?” he answered: “I think that Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The referent is the same.”[1] Afterwards he goes on to explain his position to a greater detail, yet his initial statement remains.

In a world of multicultural societies full of pluralistic prospects we experience a natural tendency to link similar looking concepts and consider them to be the same. We incline to connect ideas that are foreign to us to those we are already familiar with, thus looking rather for similarities than differences. Today many would share Volfs perspective and suggest that the Muslim “Allah” and the Christian “God” is virtually the one same god, only perceived from different angles. In the following lines I will not attempt to give, what is in philosophy called, “a killer” argument, that would decisively disqualify one of the alternatives. No, the intention of this paper is more modest. Both similarities and differences of the two theologies will be highlighted and the conclusion, whether the referent is the same, will stay with the reader.

Only one God

With regard to the broad spectrum of world religions Islam and Christianity is at this point truly very close to each other. In fact this parallelism is taken to be one of the most impressive. Yet this is not to say that a great many other religions do not recognize a figure of a high god. Egyptians worshipped Ra, Isis or Osiris, while Greeks gave their praise to Zeus or Jupiter.[2] Nordic people among others feared Odin and Thor while in China “Yu-huang-shang-ti” was originally taken to be the greatest sky deity. Hinduism exalts Brahma, Vishnu and Siva while Mahayana Buddhism follows the example of Buddha. Hiebert, Shaw and Tienou further in their book offer a list of several other tribes that hold this belief: “In sub-Saharan Africa, belief in a creator God is taken for granted by almost everyone. The Masaii call this god “Engai,” the Yoruba “Olorun” [“ Lord of the Sky”], the Dinka “Nhialic,” the Mende “Ngewo,” the Ibo “Chukwu,” and the Fon “Mawu.”[3] The overriding issue with all these other belief systems is that they at the same time recognize multiple high or lesser gods or goddesses, ending up in polytheism. Their belief is nowhere confined to only one god. On the contrary both Islam and Christianity make indisputable claims about only one true God.open_bible

Bible claims:

Det. 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” Mk. 12:32: “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 1 Cor. 8:4: “…We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” Exod. 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before me.”

The last verse is mentioned as one of the Ten Commandments given by God directly to Moses when he was on the mountain of Sinai.quran

Quran claims:

Surah 112[1] “…He, Allah, is One. [2] Allah is He on Whom all depend. [3] He begets not, nor is He begotten. [4] And none is like Him.” Surah 57 [3] He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things. Surah 4[48] “Lo! Allah forgiveth not that a partner should be ascribed unto Him. He forgiveth (all) save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribeth partners to Allah, he hath indeed invented a tremendous sin.”

The last verse in Islam is associated with an unforgivable sin called “shirk” (associating). As suggested, Allah, if he pleases, can forgive other sins yet if someone breaks his commitment to the only one God, he falls beyond Allah’ remission.[4] Thus it appears that this strong monotheistic attitude is an undeniable bond between the two religions. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Reasonable Faith, Theology

 

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Suffering, Please Enjoy

…a contemplation by Mads Bak Pedersen

Suffering

What a suffering task to write about suffering! Hopefully not, because the Bible is full of it. I believe that there so many dimensions inside the suffering realm, but I also believe that suffering without a cause is waste of time and does not lead to any good at all. The great thing for me to reflect on and find out is how suffering and pain are presented in Bible in 2 Cor. 1 and if it works anything good into anything. Can you praise while experiencing pain? Does it make sense for those experiencing it? At last the question: how can I then apply it to any kind of church?

We know from the OT prophecy about Jesus Christ in Isa. 53 that he in many ways was meant to go through all these sufferings according to Gods will (vv. 10). He experienced our pain and suffering, was crushed, pierced, oppressed and afflicted. He was then raised, lifted and exalted. After he had suffered, he saw the light of life and was satisfied vv. 11. It seemed foreseen that this indeed was the will of the Father. So this was how Christ lived and we are called to live like him (1st letter of John 2:6). It is not only in holiness and righteousness, but in death and in life (2nd Cor. 4:10-12). It is appointed for a Christian to suffer in light of scripture.

The two main reasons for it in 2 Cor. 1 is; for God to comfort and those comforted by Him to be comfort others, and secondly to not trust in our own, but in God. In Paul`s situation, suffering did not seem like something, he was questioning God about. We know from chapter 12 in the same letter, that Paul three times asked God to take away the torn in his flesh but he got the confirmation that “My grace is enough”.

In Ph. 1:19-21, we see that he knew that no matter if he died or lived his main purpose was to display Christ in everything he did, and that’s why he knew the great reason for his suffering. He also knew that other Christians were meant to suffer (that’s why he writes that his comfort will help his brothers and sisters).

Gods compassion

in Scripture

Paul proclaims God´s compassion and comfort before talking about suffering. In the midst of suffering, suffering does not stand out as the main outcome. Paul wanted the fellowship of suffering with Christ (Ph. 3:10). Why? To be one with him and so close to him that nothing else mattered.

God especially is known as a God of compassion. Psalm 145:9 says “the Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made”. Even those who are not reconciled with God, he shows compassion. “His compassion never fails” (La. 3).

in 21st century

In 2007, 23 South Korean Christians were kidnapped by Taliban. Some of them died down there, while others were set free. This is a summary (my own) from the teaching on “suffering” by Francis Chan, where he takes up the situation from Afghanistan with the Taliban.

francis-chanEverything was taken from them. But one of the girls still had a bible or some scriptures she handed out to her fellow brothers and sisters, so they could be encouraged. They stood in a circle and surrendered their lives to Christ and some of them were saying: “no matter what brings you glory and honor, I will do it. If my death brings you honor, let it be so. If my life brings you honor, let that happen to me”. They experienced sacrificial love towards each other. Nobody wanted to be the last to say: “I will die first”. The amazing thing about this story is not that some of them died (we know that Christians die for their faith every day). But here is the thing: When those who survived came back to South Korea, one of the pastors experienced people from the trip to come to him, saying: “don´t you wish that we were down there in the hands of Taliban? Because I was so close to Jesus, so intimate with Him. I have tried to pray and fast, but it is not the same. I want to go back there””.

It blows my mind hearing and writing this, because I want it. I want to experience as Stephen said: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Ac. 7:56).

“You gotta see this (suffering with Christ) as a good thing, because it brings you closer to Christ”.                                                                                                                         Francis Chan

When I look at churches in general in Denmark, I am asking myself this question: Why are we not experiencing the same kind of persecution as in the Bible, the First Church and in other countries today? Could it be that people around us do not even know we are Christians? And if they do know, are they then confronted with our faith? I believe that each individual person have to ask him- or herself these questions. An application could look like this:

Did Jesus say that people following him would suffer? (Mt. 16:24: Mt. 10) Are you suffering?

Do you only read those scriptures that you want to read?

Or do you also take them in, you do not even want to believe in?

Are you living for this life or the next? (Php. 1:21)

Did Christ come to save, so you could have the best life ever now? (John 14:6)

My conviction and what I believe the Bible testifies is that to suffer for Christ is biblical for all Christians. That does not mean we cannot be happy and rejoice. Gods comfort and compassion, the Gospel itself and that all the means of suffering are serving us to conquer by him, “who have loved us” (Rom. 8:31-37). As John Piper puts it, “What I think more than conquers means is that a conqueror has his enemies lying subdued at his feet. More than conquers do not only mean that they are at my feet, they are serving me. They are not only in chains, in prison, they are serving. My persecution, my famine, nakedness and my loss as painful and tearful they are, they work as my servants. God works them all together for my good (vv. 28). That good is the foundation of my happiness.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2012 in Lifestories, Theology

 

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Interview with Peter Makovini on Religion & Faith

What does your religion mean to you?

It’s the foundational rock from which nearly everything else unwinds. In other words, it influences my worldview to its deepest measures.

What makes your life valuable when you’re religious?

Namely because I am a Christian, I see life as something valuable since it was created by a loving God, according to his own image with a specific intention for every individual.

Do you try to make other people believe the same as you? If yes, a short explanation why?

I surely am. Before I answer why, I think it’s important to differentiate ones view on Christianity and being “religious”. For there is a serious number of people out there who the word Christian and “being religious” take as a mere tradition of going to church, having Children Baptism or Confirmation. While those are all good things, there is much more to being a Christian. In the end, you need to ask yourself the question – ”Does God really exist?” and if he exists “Is He the God about which we read in the Bible?” Because there surely are answers to those. It’s either “yes” or “no”. No matter which of them you take, this belief should seriously affect the way you live your life.

When I tried answering these questions for myself, after some years I had to say “yes” to both. This knowledge brought joy into my life which I simply had to share with other people and later as I read my Bible I found that it is actually also something we are to do as Christians, in places like Mark 16:15 “…Go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone.

Do you think other religions offer a better life than your, even though you believe in what you do?

This question can be answered in a number of ways since it very much depends on what the word “better” means. I guess I would briefly say that if one thinks merely about expanding his material wealth, securing health and enjoying all the 21st century pleasures Earth can offer, than I would agree that the belief that God does not exist, namely atheism, might be the “better” way. However if meaning, purpose, joy and happiness are part of the definition, I would say that I don’t think other religions including Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam, even if true, can offer better life.

Do you think your religion expand in a way that makes your life more valuable?

It seems to me that the question 2 and 5 are quite similar so I would just add to it in the way I understood it. I indeed can say that I know for sure that Christianity expands the value of one’s life in contrast for example to atheistic belief. Try to follow me here.

When someone puts his faith on the fact that there is no God, no Creator, nothing but a blind chance by which we ended up all here on this speck of dust called Earth in the endless and mindless universe; he must deal with a series of terrible truths for his life and his future. Namely, that his very existence is absurd without a real purpose, meaning or value. If life ends at the grave it makes no ultimate difference whether you live as a Stalin or as a Mother Teresa. One of the prime atheists in Britain, Professor Richard Dawkins puts it well, for given atheism: “There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference… We are machines for propagating DNA… It is every living object’s sole reason for being.” More than that from what we know from modern science is that the universe is expanding and as the galaxies are further and further apart it gets colder and colder for its energy is used up… Eventually all the stars will burnout. There will be no light; no heat; no life; only corpses of dead stars and galaxies, ever expanding into the endless darkness. Not only that life of each individual person will stop, but at some point the accomplishment of human civilization as such will perfectly turn in vain. There is no hope, no escape.

I admit, this alone does not make Christianity true, yet it shows some good news about how much this belief expands value of one’s life, simply by giving it objective meaning.

Many of my answers were inspired by the book “On Guard” written by Professor William Lane Craig.
 
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Posted by on December 1, 2012 in Lifestories, Reasonable Faith

 

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Love Her More and Love Her Less

For Karsten Luke Piper
At His Wedding to
Rochelle Ann Orvis
May 29, 1995

The God whom we have loved, and in
Whom we have lived, and who has been
Our Rock these twenty-two good years
With you, now bids us, with sweet tears,
To let you go: “A man shall leave
His father and his mother, cleave
Henceforth unto his wife, and be
One unashaméd flesh and free.”
This is the word of God today,
And we are happy to obey.
For God has given you a bride
Who answers every prayer we’ve cried
For over twenty years, our claim
For you, before we knew her name. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Question suggestion

a question to consider….

Have you ever seriously doubted your faith? What was the main reason?

…Give it a thought!

(If you would like to share your answer underneath the article, you are more than welcome!)

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Question Suggestion

 

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