Religion and evidence

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Tue 17 Jan 2006 - 15:06:13 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: Religion and evidence"

    Chris Taylor wrote:
    > It started with my being slightly alarmed by the text of the mass (once
    > I stopped chanting and listened): Sort of like the icky feeling when one
    > hears the root of most common nursery rhymes kids recite, which are
    > mostly quite unpleasant (the rhymes not the kids). Narcissism (no other
    > gods, and keep the praise coming) not that I knew the word at the time,
    > vampirism and cannibalism (transubstantiated or not), the presence of an
    > altar with its associations (how very OT). Then I was probably like most
    > in that I saw a lot of 'evil' as I watched more news. The death knell
    > came with things like the mistranslations in the bible, the range of
    > qualitatively different faiths and of course science. Evolutionary
    > biology (my thing once upon a time) has a history that starts with
    > clerics and ends with loads of atheists :D
    > Anyway I wonder what confirmed and sustains your faith in the face of
    > what made me so very different in outlook? This is by definition
    > probably quite personal but if you can sanitise it I'd feel privileged
    > to hear it as you are clearly in possesion of well-developed critical
    > faculties.
    > Btw I didn't misunderstand I don't think, but I was already building up
    > a nice head of steam and so wasn't so clear myself: I am genuinely
    > intrigued by what gets under the wire as not absolute (objective
    > scientific) proof in the sense of God on TV saying 'Chris start saying I
    > rock or you're in for an eternity of fire boyo' but yet is more than gut
    > conviction or a response to the possibility of god? I'm repeating the
    > above request essentially.
    > Cheers, Chris.

    As a result of my investigations into Christianity, atheism and other world religions I became convinced that a lot of what I believed were good arguments against Christianity were in fact good arguments against things that have nothing to do with Christianity. For example I had thought that science disproved religion and then I read thoughtful, intelligent debates amongst people who were Christians, scientists and able to engage in rigorous discussion of the issues that this throws up. And they all seemed to believe in evolution, too.

    When I began to discover what Christianity actually says it made a lot of sense to me. When I began to put its claims to the test they held water. When I made changes to my life in accordance with those claims my life got a whole lot better, in lots of ways. People who knew nothing about my changed outlook commented on the difference in me.

    Most of all, the best explanation of what happened when I prayed seemed to be that I was really in some sort of communication with a loving God.
      At first I was nervous; inevitably unsure about whether I'd jumped down on the wrong side of the fence. I began to avoid awkward conversations. Then I suddenly thought - idiot - if you really believe this is true then asking a few questions isn't going to change it. And if it isn't true: even more of an idiot for leaving the lush grass of atheism on the other side of the fence.

    So I really began to grapple with the bits I still found hardest to believe, to grasp, to live with. I'm still grappling with some of them.
      But I didn't come across anything that fell down when I pushed it. When I couldn't see my way out of a situation, and I prayed about it, the way inevitably appeared. And even more remarkably, I cannot tell you how many of the people I love I have prayed for, when they've been in some sort of difficulty; and they haven't known anything about my prayers because frankly not many of them would be interested; and the changes that have happened have been astounding.

    OF COURSE there are a thousand-and-one alternative explanations of the things that I have experienced over the last twelve years. But here's why I believe that my interpretation of events could be valid.

    The ways in which we test religious claims have to be different from the ways in which we test scientific claims. This is because science explains how the natural world works, but religion interprets the meaning of those events. So you and I can be in complete agreement about the events that have happened, but argue over their meaning.

    This applies to any field in which interpretation is necessary. Creative endeavours of all kinds - musical or literary, artistic or cinematic - are argued over endlessly and simply pointing to the picture, watching the film again, or whatever, will not resolve the argument. The same is true of the ways in which we respond to other people. We make inferences about their personalities, from the ways in which they behave, and we often come up with different explanations of the same behaviour.

    Similarly, when I examine the events of the past twelve years the most plausible explanation of them, as far as I'm concerned, is that I have actually had a relationship with a loving God throughout that time. There are alternative interpretations, to be sure. But the Christianity interpretation is coherent, consistent with the facts, and keeps throwing up accurate predictions. In my life. So much so that I am prepared to say that I believe the Christian interpretation of life to be the truth.

    Now I'm feeling so off-topic that memetics is but a hazy image in the distance. The modern dominance of secular thought/atheism in the West - as per your other post - is a whole other, fascinating memetic question.
       Hmmm . . .


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