Author: DwightClough

Why do you need to believe what you believe?

When one of my sons was 12 or 13, he posted a comment on a forum that he favored creationism over macro-evolution. He received about 100 responses disagreeing with him. I don’t think a single one treated him with respect. Every one was some form of “you are stupid for believing in creationism.”

First, let me say this: This post is NOT about creationism vs. macro-evolution. It’s about something else.

To say that my son was hurt would be, I think, an understatement. Here he was, just starting to figure out his world, venturing into the public arena, and he was mowed over. I patiently dissected every comment with him, and tried to explain that every one was just a variant of ad hominem—an attack on a person, rather than the position. Sure, some of them sounded very sophisticated, educated, scientific, but they weren’t. They were just name calling.

This happens a lot. Much of politics is name calling. People do it because it works. If you call someone a name loud enough and long enough, pretty soon that person loses all credibility. Nobody wants to listen to them. And, believe me, it happens on both sides.

But anyway, the experience got me thinking. Why would a hundred people want to destroy a twelve-year-old boy’s self image? What would cause them to be so vitriolic? What difference does it make if a kid—or for that matter—if anyone believes in creationism? Why was this so important to them?

Why did they need to believe what they believed?

Don’t tell me that this has something to do with science, or the fossil record, or scientific advancement. It doesn’t. The venom in their comments is coming from someplace else. My son’s post touched something primal; it caused a visceral reaction. Why?

The answer I came up with is this: Macro-evolution is the lynch pin for the atheist. As long as he has it, he doesn’t need to invite God into his world. He doesn’t need to answer to God. God is irrelevant. But if he loses it, then his entire system comes crumbling down.

This explains, I think, why we can go around and around with people in conversations on politics, religion, and many other things and get no where. People believe what they believe NOT because they looked at the evidence with an open mind, but because they NEED to believe it. Their world falls apart if they don’t believe it.

Jesus said, “I am the truth.” He said, “The truth will set you free.” We need the Truth. We need Jesus at a primal level if we’re ever going to hope to START unraveling how we see our world.

Dwight

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Fundamentalist Christians?

I was paging through a book recently. The author’s intent was to extract all the “fairy tales” from the Bible and then see what was left. His method was simple; whenever he came across something he wanted to erase, he would say, “Only fundamentalist Christians believe in x.”

Example: “We all know there was no Adam and Eve. Only fundamentalist Christians believe they really existed.”

If it’s not immediately obvious to you what he’s doing, then substitute the N word for “fundamentalist Christians,” and then reread the sentence to yourself.

Just as the N word is a racial slur, so also “fundamentalist Christian” is a religious slur. It’s used to demean, devalue, and marginalize a group of people.

The intent is clear. Fundamentalist Christians are thought to be ignorant, uneducated, unsophisticated, homophobic, bigoted, racist, unenlighted, bull headed, sign wielding fanatics.

Most people don’t want to be thought of in those terms. By creating the impression that normal people don’t believe in, say, Adam and Eve, the author bullies people into silence, without actually supporting his assertions with any kind of logic.

“Fundamentalist” is also sometimes used to create guilt by association. If Islamic fundamentalists are terrorists, then fundamentalist Christians are domestic terrorists. Don’t laugh; something like this belief was reflected in an internal memo at high levels in our US government in the not-too-distant past.

100 years ago, “fundamentalist” was a term that some Christians applied to themselves to distinguish themselves from “modernists” who rejected, in their view, the “fundamentals” of the Christian faith. But this history is mostly forgotten in our modern culture. And, yes, I have a few friends who would probably still call themselves fundamentalists, but what they mean by the term and what our culture means by the term are vastly different things.

I bring this up for two reasons:

(1) There’s a Russian proverb: All that glitters is not gold. In the same way, all that sounds sophisticated is not truth. Don’t let yourself be bullied or deceived by slick spin doctors.

(2) I don’t want to marginalize anybody—even the people I disagree with. I’m willing to explain why I disagree if anyone cares to listen, but I’m not going to do it by putting someone down. I hope you’re with me on that.

Dwight

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Who to blame

In the New Testament Gospel of John, chapter 9, we find something very relevant to our culture today. Jesus is walking along with His entourage, and they come across a man who has been blind since day one, never able to see. Jesus’ followers immediately ask:

“Whose fault is this? Did the Democrats do this? Or the Republicans? Is this his own fault? Or did this happen because of some evil corporation? Is this a result of moral decline or climate change? Is this the result of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia? Or is this the result of laziness or media bias? Did this happen because of his socio-economic status or because he had no access to adequate health care?”

“Please, Jesus, tell us who to blame. We must know in order to feel okay about ourselves.”

What did Jesus reply?

He said, “Whoa! Wait! Stop! You’re asking the wrong question. The question is NOT, ‘Who do we blame?’ The question is, ‘What opportunity does this present? How can we take this bad thing and turn it into something good?’”

Hmm…

Dwight

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Why I believe (6-6) we will answer to God

Tennyson wrote, “Our little systems have their day.”

I like that way of putting it. It reminds me that, yes, we are free to do what we want within reason, but, in the end, we answer to God.

I believe Jesus will return to this earth to take charge of the creation that belongs to Him. I believe in the final judgment. I believe we will answer for how we lived our lives. I believe in heaven and hell.

All of these things are clearly taught in the Bible, if you just let the Bible say what it says. And it makes sense. A just and loving God will hold people accountable for the decisions they make—good or evil.

We all will stand before God. Compared to that, everything else shrinks into insignificance.

Dwight

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Why I believe (5-6) in miracles

I believe in miracles because, hey, God by definition is supernatural, so why wouldn’t supernatural things happen when He is present? Not believing in miracles seems like a way of back peddling on my belief in God, and I’m not about to do that. What I don’t believe in is miracles on demand, miracles for my own entertainment, vending machine miracles, cheap miracles. God will not allow His power to be misused like that.

Chief among those miracles I DO believe in: I believe Jesus rose from the dead. Many reasons; here’s one. Christianity has had opponents from Day One. Many have wanted to shut it down, even from the outset. And that would have been very easy to do. Just produce the body. Come up with the corpse. Show the world that Jesus was dead. They didn’t do it. They couldn’t do it. Even though they tried. And here’s a bonus reason. Nearly all the disciples paid with their lives for their claim that they had encountered the resurrected Jesus. People aren’t going to do that for a conspiracy. At least some of them will crack. None of them did.

Dwight

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Why I believe (4-6) how we live matters

God created us. God owns us. God cares about us. God is good.

All of that gives God the right to make the rules, and us the obligation to follow them. And I’m glad He does make rules because our choices have consequences. Our words and our actions heal or harm, help or hurt, restore or destroy.

How we live matters.

I’m not one of those Christians who thinks you just need to pray a magic prayer and then you’re set. God cares deeply about how we live, and our decisions can bring eternal good or eternal harm to ourselves and others.

We live in a moral universe. We answer to a moral God. We have been given the power to bring good or evil into the lives of the people God loves. How we live matters.

Dwight

PS. On 10/12/2019, our Inner Wealth topic will be overcoming a painful past. Many people want to forget the past, but don’t understand how and why the past still affects them or what you can do to get free.

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Why I believe (3-6) God is good

Some read the Bible and find in it a malevolent, vindictive God.

I do not.

Rather I find a God who hurts when we hurt, a God who fixes things that are broken, a God who keeps on loving us even when we slander Him, ignore Him, marginalize Him. I find a God who is fiercely protective of His children, who seeks out those who have lost their way, who heals hurts and repairs relationships.

It’s no surprise to me that followers of God have started clinics, hospitals, food pantries, schools, and universities. In the name of Jesus, people have worked to end slavery and human trafficking throughout the world, to end poverty, to stop racism, to end child labor, to repair broken relationships, to heal hurts of all kinds.

All of this rings true on my own experience. Throughout my life God has been kind to me, and even though I’ve experienced hard times, He has always turned those things around for good.

I believe what the world doubts: God is good.

Dwight

PS. On 10/12/2019, our Inner Wealth topic will be overcoming a painful past. Many people want to forget the past, but don’t understand how and why the past still affects them or what you can do to get free.

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Why I believe (2-6) in the Bible as God’s word

There are many sacred texts, but the Bible stands out to me for these reasons.

(1) It has stood the test of time.

(2) It is an incredibly diverse set of books by a diverse set of authors, but all point to the same God.

(3) The Bible is event-oriented. This is important. It isn’t merely a collection of opinions. It bases its authority on historical events like the resurrection of Jesus that took place in time and space in front of witnesses who could easily discredit the message if these events did not take place.

(4) The Bible has been embraced by people from nearly every nation and people group. Its message is universal.

(5) There has been an irrational hatred for the Bible throughout the ages. Even today, in some countries, people are imprisoned, tortured, or executed just for owning a Bible.

(6) Even though I’ve read through the Bible many times, I still find new depth of meaning in old familiar passages. Others report experiencing the same thing.

(7) The Bible offers hope and a connection with God I find nowhere else.

Dwight

PS. On 10/12/2019, our Inner Wealth topic will be overcoming a painful past. Many people want to forget the past, but don’t understand how and why the past still affects them or what you can do to get free.

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Why I believe (1-6) in God as Creator

Nothing created everything?

I don’t think so.

Big bang or not, everything came from something. There is a first cause, and that first cause is, by definition, supernatural—or beyond the natural, able to do what the natural cannot do.

Then there’s life. Do the math. Time and chance cannot arrange a trillion atoms into a single self-replicating cell—I don’t care how many times lightning strikes the mud puddle. It can’t be done.

And then God is supposed to be absent when hundreds of base pairs magically rearrange themselves in DNA not just in one organism, but also in another of the opposite sex. This needs to happen at the same time. The two need to find each other, mate, produce offspring before they both get eaten. And this is supposed to take place not just once, but millions of times.

Really?

In my mind it takes a whole lot LESS faith to simply embrace Genesis 1:1. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Dwight

PS. On 10/12/2019, our Inner Wealth topic will be overcoming a painful past. Many people want to forget the past, but don’t understand how and why the past still affects them or what you can do to get free.

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Great things God has done

 

…consider what great things He has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24

 

God brings order from chaos. That’s how He created the heavens and the earth. And that’s what He does with our lives. He takes the turbulence of our lives, together with the dull drudgery of day after day existence, throws in our dysfunctional past and somehow creates something beautiful from it.

Eternal life has begun inside us. It will grow and eclipse all that we have known. Eternal life, Jesus said, is knowing God and knowing the Messiah God sent. Even today, we are walking into that experience.

Dwight

PS. Our Inner Wealth topic for October 5, 2019 will be “Little known secrets for mind renewal”—an explanation of how we life-transforming paradigm shifts from God. (See Romans 12:2.)

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