Someone posed the following question on a local Facebook group for our community:
“If you could ask God any one question and you knew He’d give you an answer right now, what would you ask?“
What follows is one of many conversations that occurred in the comments for this post:
Her: Who created you?
Her: how many angels fit on the head of a pin?
Me: I doubt this hypothetical question is of sincere interest to you, so, I will leave it alone
Her: yes, philosophy and religion are extremely interesting and collide in all kinds of pithy ways. Religion has many positive social structures and fills some peoples’ needs for making order out of what they perceive as disorder. It’s all interesting to discuss if you can move beyond the trite.
Me: Yes, Christianity has contributed greatly to many essential areas of society (e.g. origin of hospitals, many Christian scientists such as Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, institutions of higher learning such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford had Christian beginnings and many other things). I agree that following Christian teachings has benefits for people in terms of stable families and moral behavior. But that’s not the main point. As C.S. Lewis stated, “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.” So, if it is not true, I might as well be golfing on Sunday mornings And yes, I strive to “move beyond the trite”. I like to concern myself with things that matter (eternally), and think that we all should do likewise. I think many (including my pre-conversion self) are more concerned about planning the next vacation or retirement than thinking about what will happen when they die. I’m open to a dialogue on these topics that really matter. Have a great day!
Her: why be concerned about what will happen when you die? If you’re a believer, you should have no concern at all about what happens. Plan that vacation and go play golf on Sunday.
Me: I personally am not concerned (or “worried”) about what will happen when I die. That issue was settled for me when I became a Christian, so yes you’re right – I have no concern, I’m confident about my eternal destination. Rather, what I was referring to were those people who have not yet made that decision. I, myself, am an adult convert. I didn’t grow up in the church, but became a Christian well into adulthood, being married with children. So, I was relying on my own experience, describing what my priorities were “pre-conversion”. I was there at one point in my life and am not claiming any superiority of those who’ve not made that decision yet. I’m just one beggar trying to tell another beggar where I’ve found food!
Her: people will always question and challenge the things they can’t see and know. That’s a part of both religion and philosophy, and all good.
Then, on another question in the same FB thread, the same person replied to my answer to this question:
How did life originate?
Me: The evidence suggests that abiogenesis (the theory that life originated from non-living material [non-life]) is highly improbable. According to Stephen Meyer, the odds of getting a functional protein of 150 amino acids by chance is no better than 1 in 10 to the 164th power. Now consider that there are 10 to the 80th power elementary particles in the entire universe. So, life could not have originated “on it’s own”. Life shows many evidences of design, therefore the most reasonable conclusion is that life was originated by an intelligent designer, who we call God.
Her: well, the odds of life being created by ‘god’ are even less! I’d like to see your statistics about that for comparison.
Me: Design requires a designer. Life is obviously designed. DNA is more sophisticated than any programming language that human beings have created. Creation requires a creator:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. Therefore the universe has a cause.
This syllogism is known as the Kalam Cosmological argument for God’s existence.
The universe didn’t “pop out of nothing”. The effect (the universe) tells us something about the cause.
The bottom line is this: Since there was an absolute beginning to space, time and matter, it’s reasonable to conclude that the cause of the universe must be spaceless, timeless and immaterial. This cause must also be personal in order to choose to create, intelligent to create such a fine-tuned universe, and powerful to create out of nothing. A spaceless, timeless, immaterial, personal, intelligent, powerful Being is exactly what theists call “God”.
Her: keep thinking! We know very little and eventually you can find calm in that
Me: sorry, but I will have to respectfully disagree. We know many things, according to the same standard of proof in our legal system, “beyond a reasonable doubt”. I don’t find calm in not knowing, but rather in trusting in God who I have good reasons to believe exists. Again, I will quote C.S. Lewis, who I believe is very helpful here: “Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves’, but also ‘as wise as serpents’. He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. The fact that you are giving money to a charity does not mean that you need not try to find out whether that charity is a fraud or not. The fact that what you are thinking about is God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any the less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants everyone to use what sense they have. “. Have a great day and I urge you to think deeply about the things I’ve said in our interactions in this excellent thread!
Her: excellent! Yes, I hope you find peace and comfort in the unknown. Scientifically and intellectually speaking, we ‘know’ virtually nothing at all. That makes life exciting! And full of experiences of all kinds. You don’t even know what your brain is going to be thinking about 20 minutes from now. Life is a grand adventure.
Me: you say “Scientifically and intellectually speaking, we know virtually nothing at all”. I would like to respectfully point out something about it by asking you a question… Is that something you claim to “know”?
Her: yes, I definitely know that I know almost nothing, compared to what there is to learn and ‘know.’ And, what is known by others is vast, but almost nothing compared to what we would like to know.
Me: so, you must be aware that your statement is what is called a “self-refuting statement”. It is a statement that doesn’t live up to its own standard. It would be like saying I can’t speak a single word in the English language, yet using English to communicate that idea. Self-refuting statements cannot possibly be true.
Her: lol, keep thinking! You are a reader and learn from others, and adopt others’ ideas that ring true to you. That’s super interesting. We use what we ‘know’ to try to understand what we don’t ‘know.’ Makes sense to us within the confines of so little knowledge.