Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hello all. Happy holidays. I am up in Spokane for the next week or so. And I haven't posted a blog recently because I just love the discussion that's happening in the comments section of my blog and I don't want to interrupt.

SO... the forum is here! It's here! It's here! Please click on the forum link at the right (in my list of links) to get to it. Or go here: Julia's Forum. For the time being I won't be posting on my blog and will probably just post only on the forum. I think this will keep things going in a much more straighforward and open-discussion-oriented way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Okay. This is why eye-witnesses are so unreliable. I watched my appearance on Craig Ferguson, thanks to One Good, and it’s startling to me. My version of my appearance is disputed by the undeniable evidence that I saw. I didn’t get a big laugh off of not being “sure” there was no God. I think the comedienne in me just relaxes after I get a quasi-laugh, and that was the quasi-laugh that relaxed me, so in my mind it was a big laugh. So, that realization is kind of embarrassing. But on the other hand, I thought I didn’t mangle things like I thought I did. In any case, I think I did okay and thanks for the notes of support.

I really don’t want to be one of those needy girly-actresses who says she thinks she sucks while her eyebrows raise, waiting for others to chime in and say she didn’t suck at all. Oh, I hate that kind of person so much and that is what I feel I did with my blog entry, to a certain extent. In any case – yes! The appearance. And I did sell a bunch of Cds so that is good. (Thanks if you are one of those people!) I am trying to wait to put the Cd on Amazon until AT LEAST after Christmas. So, this publicity is good in that I am making my money back towards the initial investment of the Cds before Amazon has it and my profit goes down to almost zip. Amazon – amazing how they do business. But that’s another story.

I was wishing I had said something about eye-witnesses to Craig Ferguson when he said the thing about people having experiences with "purple dragons" that make them know they are real. Because right there, that is one of the most startling and unsettling things I learned in my journey away from God. I didn't realize how completely unreliable personal experience was in terms of verifying facts and relying on it for real hard information. All those religious experiences that people have had, that convinced them there is a God, that started religions and so forth -- all personal experience and memory, all highly faulty! It might seem like it's obvious to the people reading my blog, but just this little thing to me -- made everything different. This alone turned me into a skeptic. Visions, feelings, memory -- emotionally important, sure. But reliable as truth? Not really. Not really at all.

OH. I am just about decided on the type of forum that I am going to put up. This, I hope, will happen very soon. I mean – all those forums look almost identical to me, but I have to have a certain type of one that goes with the language that my website uses. Talking to people about this is like me in a foreign country where I know exactly ten words and I just keep using them over and over and nodding my head vigorously like I know what people are saying when really I only get a very general idea.

I loved people’s posts from yesterday. I really loved the person who wrote with all the reasons I should send my daughter to a religious school. I agree with everything she said! And it was really funny too.

But I don’t think it’s going to happen. Mulan is in a really great public school and unless I move to Spokane while she is in school, the chance is incredibly small that she would go. I think I couldn’t do it, anyway, if it really came down to it. On the other hand, I really want Mulan to know religion. I want her to know about St. Paul and Abraham and have some idea of why those stories have such impact. I think I will have to start my own Sunday school teaching it all my way! Ha.

My grandmother had this beautiful rosary – it’s large, like maybe three or four feet long, with huge wooden carved beads. It was always hanging over her bed, on two nails, so that the rosary hung in a kind of shape that almost looked cross-like. And the beads sunk down in the middle. I thought it looked like a person with arms outstretched to the sky, to God. I really loved my grandmother and that rosary reminds me of her and how it felt in her house, which was really cozy and safe.

Anyway, after my aunt died, I got the rosary and I hung it in my bedroom. Not right above my bed, but over some bookcases. I really like it there and it’s comforting for me to look at. So, the other day, Mulan referred to the big “Y” necklace. And I said, “What?” And she pointed to the rosary and said, “Y’know, the big “Y” necklace!” And my heart sank. How does she not know that is a rosary!?!

I know, this falls under the heading of anything that kids won’t be familiar with that I was familiar with – dial phones, Tvs with no remotes, blah blah. But still, there was a little sword sticking me inside when she didn’t even know what a ROSARY was.

I guess it’s that I think of Catholicism as art. That was the art of my childhood. That was the place with flickering candles and people in robes and incense and paintings and stained glass windows and people huddled together away from the cold reciting poetry and singing songs. And I am giving none of that to Mulan. And even though – really, I mean this, I think she is better off without it, it KILLS ME that she isn’t getting it. Sure, sure, I am giving this feeling to her in other ways, in other places, with other things – sure. But not in this particular way.

On the other hand, I think of this incident, too. Last summer I was up in Spokane, with my girlfriend Darcy at her house. She had had a lunch with me and four or five other of our friends. We’ve all known each other since childhood. And anyway, there was a kid’s drawing framed on one wall and it said, “Family is important. Family is great!” And there was a picture of a family. Darcy’s children are now in Catholic school. And another one of my girlfriends said, “Isn’t that darling? It’s so… Catholic.” And I said, “What’s Catholic about it?” And she said, “It’s so Catholic, the importance of family.” And I said, “But that’s not particularly Catholic.” And she said, “Oh yes it is. They really talk about family a lot at Catholic school.” To me the implication was that in a public school, kids wouldn’t draw pictures like that.

Now the point of this is – as we all know, family is important, especially for kids – this has nothing to do with religion. Mulan comes home with pictures like that all the time. But for my friends who send their kids to religious school -- they think that something like this is unique. They reinforce to each other and their kids, just with little comments like that one to me, that it’s Catholicism that promotes the idea of family and in the cold harsh world outside Catholic school, they don’t. It’s this subtle prejudice that is built in. I mean, we all do this, of course, about some things. But this time it really struck me. It was so odd to me, that comment.

What’s funnier still about this is that my friend Darcy is gay, living with another woman and they have two sons together. Not only that, my friend Darcy is not even a Catholic anymore but this choice of school for her sons is the right one for the moment and the situation for her. Furthermore, when Darcy put her sons there, she and her partner went to the school principle and said, “This is our family, we are proud of our family, and if there is any problem with the school about our family, we aren’t coming here.” And there were assurances that there would be no problem. And as far as I know, there hasn’t been one.

But still. That comment reverberated in my mind. “It’s so Catholic.” The emphasis on family is… so Catholic. ARGH! And that’s why I am so glad that Mulan is not at a religious school no matter how enlightening it might be and how inoculated against religion it might make her.

I know, I am rambling about small points today.

And I am off to Mulan’s school for the Holiday Performance this morning!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Well, I just got home from a taping at Craig Ferguson. I really don’t know how it went. I am sort of flummoxed. Well, maybe not flummoxed. I will probably know better how it went when I watch the show. Which won’t happen because I won’t be able to bring myself to watch it. Mostly because it's on so late. And because I can't bear to watch myself. Those two things will stand in my way of having a reasonable feeling about it.

First of all, one of the wonderful things about doing the show was that Tim Meadows was also there. We were on SNL together. He does little sketches for Craig from time to time. Tim was also in the Pat movie. We had a good time talking in my dressing room about friends and what has happened with everyone we know from SNL.

Craig started right off (after a brief mention of Pat and SNL) with asking me how I could know for absolute certainty that there was not a God. I said I didn’t know for sure (which got a laugh) but that I think the evidence for God was weak. And then I said that I describe myself as an “atheist” because I do not live my life under the assumption that there is a God. I am “a” theist. I’m not sure I was very clear about this. And then that started a longer defense of atheism. I spurted out the Carl Sagan analogy of the purple dragon in the garage and I think I sort of mangled that. Then he asked me if I was trying to convince people to be atheist. Atheist, Atheist, Atheist. This is the only thing people will remember about the interview. And my nervous laughter. I am sure this will help me sell about two Cds. UG. It’s so hard! I mean, this is so not really what my show is about. Which I tried to get us back to. The struggle, the FUNNY.

Craig is really smart and charming. He said he “used” to be an atheist but now is not so sure. He had a joke about a dog crossing the street in the pedestrian crosswalk and how this makes him believe in God. I mean, we got to talk much more about the topic of my show than I did on The View. But still, I wasn’t totally thrilled when it was over. Not because of Craig – I mean, he is smart and funny and he gave me time on his show. But I felt I didn’t represent my CD as well as I wanted to. I wasn’t ready for the “how can I know for absolute certainty there is no God” and so forth. I made my case, but I don’t think it was very clear. OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH… I mean, how could I not have expected to be asked that? It's the obvious question. But I thought I was so smart and had figured out that people who interview me were going to only ask me questions, like, about how my parents reacted to my show or how I am raising my daughter. Because no one would want to touch the topic directly. See -- just shows me never to assume anything. So, I am glad it's over. Criag genuinely listens to his guests and that is really unusual and nice. I think he is smarter than your regular talk show host. But still, I felt that many of you blog-poster people could have done a better job defending the viewpoint. On the other hand, I had a good time. So, go figure.

Oh. I am so tired. I must go to sleep.
Good morning! Okay, that does it. I am definitely starting a forum. This conversation is getting too good and too all over the place and we just must find a better vehicle for it. That means a forum. I am working on this with my friend Joel and I will let you know what it up very, very soon. In the meantime, I would love to get some suggestions for subjects. Anyone, as probably most of you know, can start a thread, but I have to decide what the subjects are. So, what? Ethics without religion. Parenting without God. Navigating through social situations with the religious, but without God. God as a euphemism, too good to give up?

And speaking of the last idea. That's what I've been talking to myself and to my boyfriend about this weekend: God is such a great euphemism. But when you're ME, you can't really use it so much anymore. DAMN.

I can't write much -- I am off to take Mulan to school and then meeting with my music composer friend who may be doing the music for the film version of "Letting Go" today and then the Craig Ferguson Show later this afternoon.

Btw, I am so over on the side of no-Christian songs at public school -- 10,000%. I listen to classical music on the radio and of course it's all Jesus and all Christmas all the time at this time of year. Which I love, but still. Enough already.

Yesterday, as my boyfriend and my daughter and I were driving to Monterey Park for Chinese food last night, my daughter said she wanted to practice her Christmas song -- the one she's singing at the "Holiday Performance" at school on Wednesday. We said, "Go ahead." And she belted out, "Oh Kwansaa! Oh Kwansaa! The Seven days of Kwansaa!" And I was filled with joy! YEAH PUBLIC SCHOOL. I was actually filled with national pride too. I can hardly believe that this is the way it already is in our country. We are so lucky. This separation of Church and State is our most precious resource.

Anyway, give me your ideas. What are discussions you would like to see explored?

Also, I plan to take some of my favorite posts from the blog and put them up in a special place on my website. So many things people have written have taken my breath away.

And, yeah... the new blogger allows me to have such a bigger font. BIG, huh?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Random Thoughts

Once again, I am beat. I am working on getting the forum together, because clearly, we need one on this site. But I thought I would offer some random thoughts, some of them in regards to posts that have been written in the last few days.

I have gotten hundreds of emails after doing The View. Most of them, the vast majority of them, positive and encouraging. Several have been from Mormons, correcting me about their Church's belief in the Virgin Mary and the divinity of Jesus. Of course, as most of you know, I understand that. When I speak about the Mormon missionaries and their stories, and then say that I couldn't be condescending to them because I believed in things like a virgin birth, etc. What I meant was that I also had mythical stories that I took seriously. I didn't mean to imply that the Latter Day Saints didn't also believe in those stories as well as their own, specifically Mormon stories. All I have to say to all those emails is... WOW.

I also got some disgruntled letters from atheists! One said I wasn't smart enough to be an atheist! Well, I'll show him or her! I will not be smart AND be an atheist and, and... just take that, mister. Or, sister.

Anyway... WOW. I think this person in particular was upset about comments I made on this blog about Christmas songs being sung at public school. (Combined with being what was characterized as overly polite to the Elizabeth on The View...) I have been thinking about that -- and since I wrote that blog entry I have been literally drown in a sea of Christmas -- every radio station (almost) filled with stories about Our Lord And Savior's Birth -- and I was thinking how sick I am already of it and how GLAD I am that when I go to Mulan's "Holiday Celebration" next week I will mostly hear about Kwanzaa. But after being so snidely insulted, I offer more defense of my original idea. I, like all of you fellow non-believers - think the Christian stories are myths. I am still not sure that making those stories off-limits in public schools is making things better. I am not sure that every teacher would teach the Bible with a believers slant and I offer up England, Australia and much of Europe for evidence. Yes, based on principles, Christian stories should be kept out.

But what if there was a group of people who seriously believed that Santa Claus was real? Would we have to stop anyone from talking about Santa Claus in a public area? Then the Santa Clausists might feel persecuted and huddle together - starting their own schools just so their kids could talk about Santa Claus openly. I think it's a difference in opinon in the matter of strategy. What will make the myth of Christianity become more obviously mythical? Having kids do nativity plays in public school and singing Christian religious songs? Or having them not mention a word about Jesus during Christmas time? I think that we blew it, frankly. Or possibly. My own strategy would have been to innundate the kids with Jesus to the point where they were puking from it. (The Shick Center Concept for getting rid of Christian Myths!) And I don't think having this opinion makes me "less developed in my thinking." (As one writer put it.)

For the record: I am not the president of Atheists of America or any group that is like that. I am not even an op-ed writer for a newspaper. I am just me. I have opinions. Not everyone is going to agree with them. I might even change some of my opinions as I get more information. But that's no reason to start calling me names. C'mon you atheists who wrote me in anger, jeez!

Also, Norma. In response to your response to Becky. Not every one of us is rational through and through about everything we do. I can totally understand Becky's desire to send her children to CCD (Catholic religious school) to get a "conscience." Norma wondered, in the face of all the obvious damage that Christianity has done - specifically Catholicism, and in spite of the fact that Becky herself didn't need continuing "conscience" education as an adult, why she would want to send her children to get indoctrinated.

Well, maybe I can answer.

1.) Maybe Becky wasn't sure why she had a "conscience." Maybe she felt her own morality had been shaped partially by her church and then she took it from there. Maybe she felt her church had inculcated a sense of deep morality in her that she couldn't instill in her children on her own. Now - mind you - I don't think this is the case. I can just understand why someone would think that way. It's reasonable.

2.) Churches and church communities offer lots of opportunity for reciprocal altruism. There are lots of personal interactions and much social debt that is spent and accumulated at a church. As we know, this is the basis for the evolving of a moral conscience. Maybe there was no other equally dense social opportunity for her to immerse her children in that would cause them to be aware of how they treated others with such scrutiny and such payoff.

3.) How old was she? It sounds like she was in her twenties. If I had had children in my twenties, they would have all been Catholic. I think my decision to raise them Catholic would have been reasonable, given my age and circumstances.

What else? Oh yes, my interest in fantasy in film. I loved "Heaven Can Wait" before and after I believed in God. The Lubitch film is brilliant. But on the average, I am more inclined to reality-like films than fantasy-based films. I don't know why. I would take Yasojiro Ozu's "Late Spring" (where the big drama is a subtle shift in attitude) over Star Wars. Which brings me to my next admission. I have never seen Star Wars. But if I did... Okay, that's not fair. I should have seen Star Wars. I am just not one for fantasy or science fiction. I do like The Wizard Of Oz.

And now I get to Mulan. So, recently Mulan put it together and figured out that The Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus were not real. Because I want to encourage her skeptical thinking, I admitted it when she asked. I couldn't keep up the ruse. Basically she found a baggie of her teeth in my bathroom and one question led to the next. It was a pretty funny conversation we had. Of all the moments I wish had been secretly filmed between us, that was the time. And to be honest, I was proud of her.

But now Mulan has told one of her friends that there is no tooth fairy and the mother of this friend has complained to me. I talked to Mulan and she promised not to reveal this to anyone else. But then she said, "But... I want to tell!" And I thought, "I TOTALLY understand."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Well, I just did “The View” and I am waiting at the airport to head back to Los Angeles. I had such a nice, even fun experience doing the show. I was moderately concerned about the response. I think I was just skeptical that they were really going to have me on at all. I mean, this is a major daytime talk show – whose target audience is mainstream American women, and it’s ABC, y’know a huge corporation. And all that usually means that people who have views outside the norm are not on. But it was really great. I had a wonderful time. Rosie came to my dressing room before the show and told me how much she enjoyed the CDs. I was really impressed that she actually listened to them. I mean – not that she wouldn’t have, but come on, there must be so much material in one week on that show that I figured it would get lost. Joy Behar was delightful and even Elizabeth, the conservative Christian, who I was worried about -- a little bit – she was just receptive and nice and open. We spoke after the show for several minutes and she told me how she just can’t look at a little baby and think that that baby was an accident. I tried to explain evolution to her in, like – 30 seconds. She said when she sees the beauty in the world, she feels it must be designed and come from God. And I explained that we all innately have a feeling that the world is designed and blah blah blah – everything I’ve said before. And she was really nice and sweet and said she wanted to listen to the CD and I was really bowled over by her sincerity and graciousness. I felt a little more nervous than I usually feel, going on shows like that. I guess it’s been a long time. I think the audience didn’t quite to know what to make of me, and I was so glad they put my CD/book in their gift packages. I mean, to me this is a major deal that they did that. Anyway – one little voice out there and all, but still it felt good.

One of the producers walked me to the limo and told me how he was feeling more comfortable being outspoken about his lack-of-faith. That was really nice, too. There is so much I wish I could have said – I wish I’d been more relaxed and funnier – I was worried that people wouldn’t know that the show is a comedic look at my search for God too. But all in all, when I figure I really had only six minutes and two minutes were taken up with “Pat” and talking about Mulan, so really, four minutes, I did okay. I feel good.


Next week, on December 11: Craig Ferguson.

Oh! My big news, and I really wish I had said this on The View as well, is that my show is now downloadable from This means that in two weeks it will be up on iTunes as well and will be linked from Amazon as a download. I got several emails from people in the last few weeks saying, “Come into the Twenty-first Century Woman!” And so, I have. You can download it. Go to audible if you care. And there will be a link on my site to audible very soon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Okay, so here I am in New York City. I just flew in to do this appearance tomorrow on the View. I have no idea how it will go, but I am so thankful and happily surprised that they are having me on the show to talk about Letting Go of God. I know that Jenny McCarthy is also a guest. I don't know if we will get into my show very much or not. But we will see.

I am going to start a Forum so we can continue all this great discussion. It probably won't be up for a while, but it eventually will exist. In the meantime, I'm collecting my favorite comments that people have made and I am going to post them in a special place on my website.

In the meantime, I wanted to answer the letter that Michael wrote to me -- after I asked him, why he believes in God and what that God is like. His letter to me is in italics. My response is not.


Thank you for at least acknowledging there are issues with the concept of spontaneous creation. I appreciate your honesty about that.

Wait a minute! I didn't say there were "issues" with spontaneous creation. I said that there are lots of possibilities for how life got started on earth, all of them plausible and from natural sources - or not-God sources. I worry that you use the word "issues" to mean that the evidence for a wholly natural universe is shakey, when it is not.

Now, to answer your questions. I write this with a little trepidation because I know that it will be jumped on by many, but, you asked an honest question and I will provide an honest answer. I don't expect that it will be a satisfactory answer to most, but it is at least a contrary viewpoint from a believer to a non-believer.

The short answer to your question of why do I believe what I believe is that I believe that God loved me so much that He voluntarily came to earth and became human. He endured incredible suffering of physical and spiritual pain and torture for the redemption of my sins. He was humiliated, mocked, laughed at, and killed because of that love. Yet, he was resurrected. I cannot escape his love for me and I, in turn, love him. Boiled down to its core, love is the essence of my relationship with God.

But there is no evidence that God loved you so much that he came to earth and became human. To me, this is a myth - a common myth - that you believe as true because your religion told you it was true and you have some reason to need to believe it. This story of Jesus divine nature is repeated through out many myths. There is no credible evidence that he was resurrected. The evidence is based on heresay and eye-witnesses and we know that this is one of the worst possible types of evidence. Even though it might feel good to believe this story and even though there might be plenty of social and psychological reasons to believe this story, to me - it doesn't seem like there is any solid evidence to believe this story as fact.

I feel his presence in my life. I have joy, peace, and contentment trusting in him even in very difficult situations. God has been faithful to me even when I have not been faithful to him. He has answered prayers and provided guidance with difficult decisions. Without Him in my life, there was a gaping hole in my being that only He could fill.

I think you have been coached to feel that the joy and peace and contentment came from God when really that is all within you. You have the capacity to make yourself feel joy and peace and contentment and God is a mechanism through which you can transfer your inner powerfulness onto a "God" and then give it back to yourself as if it's a gift. And it IS a gift. It's the gift of your own evolved psychology and biology. You may need to believe in God. You may be a better person for believing in God. But that still doesn't mean there is a God.

Now, the longer answer. There was a time in my life when I questioned whether there was a God "up there." But, in doing so, I had to acknowledge that the universe had a beginning at some point. It likely started with a singularity and rapidly expanded from there. Why would that have occurred? What would have caused it? How could matter be created out of nothing? In the words of the old Billy Preston song, "nothing from nothing means nothing." Logically, it does not make sense that something would be created out of nothing for no reason without the force of a creator creating it. An intellect and power beyond anything we can comprehend or even imagine in this dimension would answer that dilemma. It makes much more sense to me that a being created the universe than believing that it just happened.

I think that there is plenty of evidence for a Universe created without intention or intelligence. I think consciousness is a product of an organ that we have evolved: our brain. I think we have evolved to think that consciousness is something that is other-worldly or exists outside ourselves. We overly-revere consciousness -- and it's easy to see how this could be. Consciousness is amazing. But that doesn't mean that the Universe has a consciousness. Also, the universe didn't "just happen." It happened through a long process of evolution and natural selection. Our brains are also designed to expect a designer. We see such a small little bit of it in our lifetime -- that's why we need science and a concillience of evidence from many disciplines to really see what is likely to be true. And all of that points to a world without design and without an intervening and loving consciousness that is concerned about us. Even though - I know - that SUCKS. It was really hard for me to take that. It meant that bad things really did often happen for no reason. It meant that all that time I "kept it to myself" when I was wronged or thought I was wronged, and then thought - "well God knows this and that's what is important." It meant that I had to stand up for myself and see all the terrible injustice in the world. And that bad things can happen to good people because lots of bad things are random and not deserved. So, I know, it is difficult to look at the world that way. But I think it is accurate to look at the world without a Supernatural Love. And now I see the dark side of believing that, too.

Secondly, there is the question of where did life on this earth come from. Life on this earth also had a beginning. How did it begin? Evolution is one attempt to answer that question. An atheist friend I used to work with tried to show me how clear evolution was. He provided me with some books, one being from Gaylord Simpson. As I read it, I noticed how many assumptions, speculations, and holes there were in the whole theory. Why should I abandon my faith in God for a theory that required my faith to accept. (I acknowledge that there are many Christians who accept evolution as being God directed; however, I personally don't buy macroevolutionary theory).

Evolution is not a theory in that it is debated in the scientific community. Theories in science are what describe groups of facts. Evolution is a theory and a fact. The theory of gravity explains why apples drop from trees. But gravity is not a theory that is debated in science. The same is true for evolution.

The more I've learned about evolutionary theory, the more incredible it is for me to believe. I've touched on only a couple problems I have with it. I don't accept these assumptions that have to be made. For example, creatures more advanced than apes supposedly led up to man in a string of transitions. Those creatures would have been at that time the most advanced creatures on earth. Where are they? Why aren't they still around? Oh, I know that we have a few bits and pieces of bones here and there which are subject to interpretation. But I'm talking about the living, breathing creatures. Why would the most advanced creatures on earth ALL disappear except the last in the line? It doesn't make any sense. Therefore, again, the Bible supplies the answer for creation of the species that makes much more sense. A creator created that life.

I don't really understand what you are saying here. They are us. Or they are other species that are not extinct. I don't think you understand what evolution really is. The Bible's description of the creation of the species is a story that was made up by an ancient people that didn't have the means to look at the evidence. It makes much less sense. Why would God create all those animals? We don't need all those animals.

I also have found that the Universe, the beauty of nature, and the incredible complexity of life from cells up to humans displays not randomness but design. Design implies a designer. One may make patterns out of a cloud, but the cloud is not the object you see. I wouldn't expect to come across a sculpture and wonder what windstorm or firestorm caused some hunk of bronze to fashion itself into the replication of a horse. Rather, I would wonder who created the sculpture. Yet, atheists see an incredibly designed, perfectly complex universe and all that is in it but believe it just happened on its own by chance.

We see things as designed becasue we are arriving here on earth so late in the process and we are only alive for a very short period of time. It is reasonable that you would think the world was designed. This is one of the greatest gifts of insight that science has given us -- it shows us that the world exists without a designer. It goes completely against our instincts and common sense. And yet, the evidence points this way. We can see it in the smallest levels -- the ones that you accept -- in viruses and bacteria. Evolution happens and the byproduct, over a very long period of time, is a world that looks designed.

Fourth, why are humans so different from all the other creatures. The Bible says man was made in God's image. There is a quantum leap in intelligence between humans and animals. Furthermore, isn't it odd that all peoples throughout history have believed in a God. Now, you can chalk that up to ignorant superstition, but if that's the case, why do doctors, mathematicians, lawyers, CEOs, and, yes, even scientists, etc. in the year 2006 also believe in God. It would appear that there is some connection between being human and believing in God. It is not unreasonable to believe that God has given us the ability to find Him.

That's just it! We humans, it turns out, aren't all that different from other creatures! And it SO seems like it. But the more we learn about animals, the more animal like we find ourselves. Because we are animals. I think people all around the world believe in God because people made up reasons why there was thunder and lightening or why their particular tribe was special. They made these stories up to explain things they could not explain, or to help their group psycologically. And I think the reason that so many educated people say they believe in God is because there are a lot reasons to benefit from believing in God. It makes you part of a defined community, it alleviates anxiety about death, there is a social stigma to not-believing and so forth. It makes sense to me that there is not God AND that most people believe in God.

Next, I had to consider the life of Jesus. He clearly lived on this earth. He clearly claimed that he was God. Reliable witnesses saw him perform miracles. He was crucified, died, and was buried. There is no question that the tomb was subsequently empty and many witnesses saw his resurrected body. His ministry lasted only 3 years in an insignificant country in the middle of nowhere. Yet, within a short time, his message had spread and is now one of the world's dominant religions. The mention of his name provokes reactions like none other. His disciples went from being afraid to even admit they knew him to boldly preaching his word and being willing martyrs rather than deny his deity. You ask for proof of God? Jesus Christ was that proof.

Becuase someone claims they are God, that doesn't make them God. Lots of people claim to be God. The witnesses that saw Jesus perform miracles were not reliable. There were a lot of incentives to make this up. There have been many messianic characters in history and many stories about them. That doesn't make it true. The reactions that people have about Jesus are real, but they have them for psychological reasons and not because Jesus himself is having some effect on them. Many scholars don't even think that Jesus ever existed. AND just because people like the disciples went from doubt to faith to preaching doesn't mean that it is real and true. Jim Jones also had disciples who went through the same progress in behavior and thinking. I don't think you understand what "proof" is, really.

I have seen people who were addicted to drugs or alcohol turn their lives 180 degrees after accepting Jesus as their Lord. I have seen people who have been homeless for years completely turn around after becoming a Christian. I have seen individuals who have attempted suicide because of depression and failed lives be healed of that sickness. Christ offers redemption and hope to those who are suffering or in pain, which is most of us at one time or another. I'm not sure what atheism has to offer those individuals.

You are right that the idea of God or of someone like Jesus can have a dramatic psychological effect on someone. But I think those people all had that strength to turn their life around themselves. I think humans are capable of the most astonishing transformations.

Finally, God offers the promise of eternal life to those who believe and that's no small thing.

Yes. And there you go. I think that the idea of God and eternal life alleviates a great deal of anxiety in us about death. This is potent and deep. But it doesn't make it true. It just makes belief effective in that way.

I have explained in part above what the God that I believe in is like. He is an intellect far beyond my comprehension and understanding. I may wonder why some women die in childbirth. However, to say that I cannot imagine a God who would allow that is to say that I know everything God knows, and, knowing that, I conclude that a true God would not allow such things. Job had the same debate with God and God's responses were instructive.

Hmmm... Well, I thank you for describing your faith and what your God is like to me. I think that your faith is really meaningful to you and maybe even psychologically necessary for you. In that case, I am glad that you live here in America where you can have your faith. In many areas of the world, you would not be able to have your faith. You would be forced into some other faith. But here in America, at least it still seems like it - you can believe this story as the truth and you can privately worship in your own way. I am so glad that this country guarantees that people can worship - privately - in whatever way they want to. I just get ticked when one group of believers feel that they must make me believe the same thing as they do.

It seems like you want to have it both ways. You want to believe and you want what you believe to have the facts and reason and science behind it. But I think you have to let go of that. I think you should just believe because you believe. Just have faith and I would say, don't even try to get into explaining it or proving it. I know you aren't asking me for advice, but that is my advice. I am mostly concerned about keeping our society a secular one where the laws are based on reason and science and a tolerance for people to have their faith that they can express privately. I have no reason to convince you not to believe in God.

Anyway, there you go.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lordy, Lordy how I love reading the posts. And I wanted to write a thoughtful response to Michael's post of a few days ago and now today is all gone and I am too bleary eyed to write or read. And tomorrow is going to be even harder... I may not be able to write till Monday! But keep writing. I love it so much. I mean, if you want to. Thanks!