Friday, July 13, 2012

A Conversation with Sarah (Part 2)

You can read Part 1 of my conversation with Sarah, here.

To Sarah:
Sarah,

Thanks for your patience. It’s been a very busy few days; but what else is new. :-)

I do hope this email finds you well.

Here’s the link to the first blog post regarding our conversation: http://www.onthebox.us/2012/07/conversation-with-sarah-part-1.html

In order to not barrage you with too much information all at once, and since you brought up several questions/issues, I’m going to answer your original email a piece at a time. I may ask some questions myself along the way, so I can better understand what you are thinking, how you feel, and what you mean by the words you say.

Please know, Sarah, email is an inherently challenging way to communicate. It’s hard to gauge a person’s tone of voice without being able to actually hear their voice or see the look on their face. If at any time you feel I am being sarcastic or mean-spirited, please know it is not my intent. And don’t hesitate to let me know if you do not like my tone as you perceive it, or if my answers create more questions, or if anything I write is confusing or vague.

Okay, here it goes! :-)

You wrote:

“I don't believe in any particular God. I do not see proof for a God.”

My first answer may seem a little pretentious and even contentious, and that is because I enter all conversations like the one we are having not merely believing God exists, but knowing that He does. I can say this with confidence because I appeal to an authority outside of myself and greater than myself—an authority not created by man’s wisdom, feelings, or subjective beliefs…The Word of God (the Bible).

The agnostic and/or the atheist must admit that they cannot definitively say there is no God. They would have to assume perfect knowledge of all things to say there is no God. The agnostic must also admit that if God does exist then He is able to communicate with people and reveal Himself in such a way that people can understand and know He exists. And this is exactly what God has done for the Christian. The Bible says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16-17).

But God has not simply revealed Himself to Christians. He has revealed the reality and truth of His existence to all of creation, including all people. You see, Sarah, I also enter all conversations like the one we are having not merely believing, but knowing the person with whom I am speaking knows that God exists.

The Bible says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:18-23).

All this to say, I do not believe you believe there is no God and that you do not see proof for His existence.

I am not saying you are intentionally lying to me when you say you do not believe in God. Not at all. What I’m saying is that while intellectually you may try to deny belief in the existence of God, doing so is merely an effort to suppress the truth by your unrighteousness. It’s not that you can’t believe in God, or that you don’t believe in God. The heart of the matter is that you don’t want to believe in God. And the reason for not wanting to believe in God is one you share with every other unbeliever. You don’t want to submit to God’s authority in your life.

One of your questions (and I’m guessing you already have several) undoubtedly is, “How can you say these things? We’ve never met. You don’t even know me.”

I can say these things because every human being is in the same boat. Every human being shares the commonality of an inherited sinful nature. Quite literally… no one is perfect. And it is because of the sin in people’s lives that any person would deny the existence of God. They simply are trying to suppress the truth about who God is by their unrighteousness (their sin).

I’ve already given you plenty to chew on; but I want to briefly address your statement that you don’t see any proof of God’s existence.

Again, I would assert you see plenty of proof of God’s existence. When you see a beautiful painting, your first thought is not: “I wonder how long it took for this painting to evolve? How long did it take for the paint to make its way onto the canvas and form the amazing smile of the Mona Lisa?” When you look at a remarkable piece of architecture, your first thought is not: “How did the glass, metal, wood, stucco, and paint come together, on their own, to form that building? Did it take one million, two million, three million years?”

It sounds silly, I know.

Sarah, when you look at a beautiful painting you don’t think twice about whether or not there was a painter involved. When you look at an extraordinary building you don’t think twice about whether or not there was a builder involved. The fact that the painting and the building exist testify to the reality of a painter and a builder.

And all you have to do is take a mere glimpse at the world around you to know there was and is a Creator. You cannot have creation without a Creator. The world is so intricately designed—you are so intricately designed—you know such beauty, grandeur, magnificence, and sophistication could not happen without the involvement of a Master Craftsman, an Amazing Artist, an Intelligent Designer…..GOD. And you know this to be true, whether or not you assert unbelief.

Sarah, you are going to discover in our email conversation that I love to write. :-) I’m sorry if I seemed a little long-winded; but I am trying to lay a foundation for the rest of our conversation.

Again, I do hope this email finds you well. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Your turn! :-)
From Sarah:
Hi Tony,

Thank you, again, for responding to my email.

I understand the word 'busy' all too well.

Your email is fine. I love to read, so it's no problem for me!

I agree, email is a challenging way to communicate. I don't take offense easily, but I will let you know if something does come up. I will be as honest as I can, with what I know. Sometimes, it may seem, I am not completely open-minded and that is not my intention. I try my best to word things, as to not be offensive towards another person. I've been agnostic 20+ years, so anything a Christian says seems strange.

I've come to know the people in chat, as genuine (even though, I know none of you personally) and I appreciate their honesty. To find people who actually will listen to you, and not talk over you, is rare. They've allowed me to share what I believe. Mutual communication is important. I can't stand it, when I've run across Christians who act like they're better than me.

I am glad to be in communication with someone from chat, who offered me their email.

This morning (Thursday), my husband was on his way to work. The light was green so he proceeded through the intersection. Another driver drove through a red light at approx. 50 mph.. The speed, at which, the other driver was going would have killed my husband instantly, hitting his driver-side door. They suspect he was texting. My husband, Adam, says he doesn't know what made him slam on the brakes. He didn't see the other vehicle coming through the intersection. Literaly ft. away from being crushed. The other driver didn't even realize he nearly killed someone, and kept driving for quite a distance and finally stopped his vehicle. I am so thankful he is alive! Back pain started tonight, and he plans to see a Chiropractor tomorrow.

You attached a link to the 180 Movie. In my area, many people have been passing the DVDs out. Last week, I took one, and it sat at home for a few days. You showed a video of a parade, where they were passing out '180'. I became more interested and sat down to watch '180'. Good presentation, and excellent explanation. I can say I am NOT pro-choice anymore. I always felt it should be left up to the mother to decide, but I would never personally have aborted a baby.

Almost 13 years ago, it was recommended that I abort my first baby girl, because she was not going to live anyway. I refused. She was stillborn. I am SO glad I made the right choice. While we miss her, I have hopes of seeing her again one day. We now have two precious 6 year old girls. I don't know how I feel about the end of the movie yet. Overall, very powerful movie!

I agree, that I cannot say with complete assurance "there is no God." I can also agree, that if God does exist, he could possibly reveal himself to people. The Christian says he does, but people in other religions say this, also. I haven't actually seen it in my own life though.

My husband says "there is no God". He says this as if it's absolute fact. Here's where it gets interesting...he claims God does NOT exist & yet he hates God. He finds Christianity fake, and says, "I don't believe it anymore". I bring this up, because I say you can't hate something, that you say doesn't exist. Why bother arguing over something that you say doesn't exist? He reads Richard Dawkins books, like Christians do their Bibles. I refuse to read those books.

I understand the concept, about a building needing a builder; and a painting needing a painter. However, when I look at the world around me, I don't see it through the same eyes as you do. I suppose, it could be a suppression of some sort, but I don't think I am suppressing anything. I try to see things logically, and intellectually. For me, my belief is logical. However, I'm not 100% sure on anything anymore, so yes, I could be wrong.

Concerning the Bible: I was asked in chat, if I had read it, and if I had ever read ALL of it. I explained that as a child, I was made to read Genesis, but have never read anything else. They challenged me to read the book of John & Romans. I had told them earlier I was opened-minded, so when they challenged me to read the Bible, I couldn't refuse. I've finished John and have started Romans. It's just words on a page to me. I realize Christians take the Bible as their ultimate authority, but I don't see how you can take one book as absoulte truth. If I'm completely honest, I find the Bible strange.

Concerning sin: I have a hard time understanding what Christians mean by sin. I agree we are not perfect, but I think we all try our best.

Yes, in some ways, I think what we believe is based on personal experience. Personal experiences vary, therefore beliefs vary between people. Many beliefs doesn't make them all true, though, and I understand just because I believe something to be true, doesn't mean it is true. That's what I'm trying to find out.

Thanks, Sarah. :)
To Sarah:
Sarah,

I am so very glad to hear that Adam is okay. As a deputy sheriff for twenty years, I know all-too-well, the devastation a car accident can be, not only to the person or people in the car, but to the people who love and care for them.

I so appreciate your candor. Honesty is much more than the “best policy.” It’s the only way we can have any real communication. You’ve brought up some fascinating points, which I look forward to addressing—especially what you said about logic and logical thinking.

It might be a day or two before I can write my next response, but I will do my very best not to keep you waiting too long.

Praying for Adam’s full and speedy recovery.

Oh, and forgive me. I forgot to mention how very excited I was to read that watching 180 changed your mind about abortion. And thank you for sharing so personal a story with me regarding the life and death of your first child. I have an important question to ask you regarding your child who did not survive pregnancy; but it will have to wait a bit, since I want to address some of the other things you said, first.

As the father of three daughters (25, 22, 17), I know how precious little girls are. Two six-year-olds. I’m not the sharpest tack in the box, but I’m guessing they are twins. :-) A dear friend of mine who also serves at Living Waters has twin 14-year-old girls.

Hoping you have a good day.
From Sarah:
Yes indeed, twins they are :)

One thing I forgot to mention, I never intend to go on bunny trails (or squirrels lol) I will do my best to stick to whatever we are in conversation about, at the moment. If I don't have an answer, I usually don't say much.

Elizabeth's fiance is a Deputy Sheriff. I believe it'll be 10 years in Sept.

Thank you. Have a wonderful day.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my conversation with Sarah.