A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Monday, August 20, 2012

Honest Doubt: Not in some things--the most important!

Ac 9:5 "And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."

How do you verify your thoughts?  What makes them true or false?  You think there is no biblical God, the Creator, perfect in power, love, justice, knowledge, wisdom, etc.  That is something pretty important not to be certain about.  But how can you be certain?  If certainty is impossible, then if He does exists He cannot be loving.  To even raise the doubt destroys the only comfort that is possible for man.  Before you can ever decide whether anything is true, you have to make a decision about whether you are capable of knowing it.  You must affirm something about yourself in order to affirm anything else. 

To tell the parents that there is no reason, no loving purpose, nothing but bitter chance or cruel nature, for the death of a beloved child; or the birth of a severely handicapped one, or any of the other harsh tragedies of the world is to deprive the experience of meaning, to take away hope, the support of life.  Anyone who does this is not loving, but bitter and angry.  "But it is true," they say.  "There is no God.  We have to face the truth."  But how can you be sure?  Isn't it important enough to be certain about?

Because the doubt raised by the skeptic represents a most bitter and unloving spirit, the doubt fills the soul with bitter knots and fears, especially in a world of tragedy. If the doubt is from God, then He is no loving God, and the skeptic represents no love and no compassion. 

Again, the doubt raised by the skeptic is not humble, but imagines that those who believe in God have been conditioned by others and do not think for themselves.  They think that only stupid people would believe stories about talking snakes, water from rocks, bread from heaven, parting of seas, etc.  Stupid people from all the world believe such stupid myths in all religions.  The skeptic hasn't seen such things and like Thomas, he demands that he be given a private viewing before he will believe.  He is a cut above everyone else intellectually, he thinks.    

Ob 1:3 "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee...."  Pride is the greatest of all intoxicants and blinds the mind and the heart.   It demands the right to define the boundaries of truth.  As such, at the very beginning of the inquiry, it refuses to recognize Jehovah who resists the proud and calls men to forsake their own thought and live. "The light shines in darkness, but the darkness comprehendeth it not."  Understanding requires an act of the will to "take hold of," for the mind is not a wax tablet upon which experience writes, but people must have a "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him." [Eph. 1:17]  This is the reason that Paul and all faithful ministers pray that "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints...." [Eph. 1:18]

Why the Knowledge of God Must Be Clear

The existence of God would be clear from physical reality, and the universe would abound with a veritable downpour or hurricane of evidence, that would reveal the folly of doubt.  It would be clear from the intellectual reality, and the vanity of thought that would result from denying Him.  It would be clear from the spiritual and moral realities and the selfishness, corruption, and spiritual bankruptcies of those who doubt.  Without Him the whole world becomes a bottomless pit, intellectually, morally, spiritually, physically.

If Jehovah is possibly a myth and the very doubt is warranted, then all the evil results follow.  To start with doubt is to deny the existence of Jehovah.  To doubt His existence is to deny it, a frightful offense against God and all his creation.  Denial is in the doubt; for it is impossible for an all powerful and all loving God not to have revealed Himself clearly.  How could a loving God permit the world to believe in Jehovah?  How could a loving God permit Moses to be so deceived and the Jews to suffer so much to preserve their Scriptures and the knowledge of Jehovah?

But because the biblical God is real, then no doubt cam be warranted, for His love would make His existence transparent and written in all His works.  The man who knows God will realize that the doubt is culpable and is to be condemned, as the Bible says.  The doubt itself would be worthy of judgment and the wrath of a good God, though He bear long with it. The doubt itself would reveal the bankrupcy of man's intellect, his spirit, his very powers of observation, and use of His senses.   The doubt would reveal that the skeptic has refused knowledge; not that the knowledge is obscure.   The doubt condemns the doubter, not the evidence.

Because of this, the skeptic cannot deliver himself from his own doubt; how could the blind man see? how could the dead feel? how could the deaf hear?  If he does not believe he is condemned already, because he does not believe.  There is no excuse for his unbelief, for the unbelief itself is culpable.  His jaundiced eye makes everything yellow, and nothing he finds in his friends, the birds of the air, or the fish of the sea, or the moon and the stars, or even in the love of family can convince him of the truth of that which is self-evident.  His heart is hardened in pride.

Such men are to be prayed for and pitied.  "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."  2Tim. 2:25,26

Revisiting Charles Schultz

Revisiting Charles Schultz

Of course Charles Schultz had a right to write what he felt.  I am just very sorry that he felt that way.  The comic strip about sound doctrine that I reposted from somebody recently does not mean what some Christians might think it means.  The message throughout Peanuts is that we live in a hard unforgiving world and the weak take solace in religious myths [like the Great Pumpkin], impossible ideals [winning baseball with dogs and girls], stubborn building of tiny islands of meaning around yourself: Beethoven, security blankets, doghouses, etc.  "Sound Doctrine" is one of those security blankets and might even affect how realists like Lucy think, who are among those who realize the Charlie Brown is a blockhead, Linus is a religious mystic and Lucy and Snoopy [the realists] are always trying to take away the security, so that the blockheads can see reality.  It is hopeless to think that such stubborn blockheads will ever see the truth of psychiatry and nature and live in the world of reality.  

There is no purpose for this stupid world, some realist will always pull the football away; the reality is in the journey, for there is no ultimate purpose. 

The very name "Peanuts" reveals that Schultz's world view was that we are a bunch of insignificant childlike idiots whose lives have no meaning, so you have to find your own meaning in your little circle and be prepared to protect yourself from the realists like Lucy.  

Your little doghouse can be filled with immense furnishings that could exist only in a world of fantasy.  The best thing you can do with such a world is to laugh at it.  Little people living meaningless lives:  Peanuts was pre-Seinfeld Seinfeld, but as funny as can be, especially when you recognize the pain at the root of it, for great humor always comes out of pain.  It is a bitter satire clothed in the comedy of children, a Swiftian satire with the bitterness masked.

The value of such satires and the humor of them is that we see ourselves and others and life becomes a bit more bearable for meaningless lives.  It is especially funny when we see our friends so displayed.  We know those who always whisk away the football.  The tragedy is that in laughter and fun we often miss "The Horror, The Horror!" and drift on into eternity where reality will hit us with a vengeance.  There IS a God and we were created to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.  That the present sufferings are not to be compared with the glory that awaits those who believe on Christ and have found the Way the Truth and the Life.  And that is NOT a great pumpkin.

The comparison with the Old Man and the Sea is pertinent.  The world is meaningless.  The struggle is the existential meaning we impose on the world.  The meaning is in the catching of the great fish you dream of--it's the dream that counts.  Make your hands keep holding on, continue the struggle and do not give up.  You will never win a baseball game, but every year you take the mound again.  But realize, that nothing will turn out as you dream, the sharks will eat the fish, and you will be left with nothing but memories of the struggle, but people will marvel at how brave you are.

Pshaw!  No wonder Hemingway blew his brains out.  Cheer up, friend, nothing will turn out right.  The Great Pumpkin will not return again.  [Irony alert]


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