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Posts Tagged ‘certainty’

by Mike Edwards

It can’t be proven God is real or not. If God is who believers claims, God should be capable of speaking to the hearts of either believers or skeptics. Billions that are convinced there is a loving God cannot be declared definitively irrational or delusional. It is not irrational either to ask if God is real, why doesn’t God clinch the argument by making their Presence obvious?

Claims of certainty is suspect 

Just to be certain, total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. For example, there is disagreement if God of the Bible desires preachers or priests be women or gay. Literature requires interpretation. I am convinced so many people are leaving the institutional church, but not God, because of lack of open dialogue. It’s hard to be relational when you are so damn certain!

Is it God’s fault the Bible isn’t clearer?

Even if God dictated the Bible, interpretation is still required. It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.   What we do with the communication we have, then lack of communication, may be the bigger challenge. Open discussions can steer us away from demanding “supposed truths.”

Uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to chaos or lawlessness 

I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God person that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. Certain laws are just common, moral sense. Who doesn’t believe physical or sexual abuse is wrong? Ask a terrorist if you can rape their partner. Immigration laws can be discussed as which are the most caring for the greater good. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

In God’s defense – intuitions and an open future 

God may not get enough credit for communicating through our moral intuitions. Criminals often don’t defend their actions; instead, they deny committing such crimes. Only a perfect or good God is worth believing in! The best way to talk about such a God is comparing to perfect human love. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others. Problems begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book.

It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future which makes freedom nonsensical. God’s plan is not a detailed blueprint but a general one to set us free to love. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. God joins us in an open future. God deals as much with uncertainty as we do, as not even an all-powerful God can know a free, undetermined future. 

God’s directness didn’t always inspire belief

God dropped manna from the sky and separated the Red Sea to escape one’s enemy, but the Israelites still did not believe or at least put their total trust in God. God even came in person but Jesus’ miracles did not obtain the results some may suggest if God would stop hiding.

Where has certainty gotten us?

It is logical to suggest we can’t be totally certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty according to a Book has led to justifying slavery and other atrocities. Certainty has led to condemning gays though scholars, who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about obvious evil such as beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. Honest, open dialogues allow continually evaluating what a loving God is like.

Uncertainty about God may be out of love

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. Relationships that require more faith and trust due to the unknown may reach greater heights. Is our love in human relationships greater when we have to trust than know for certain what the future holds together? When parents push their agendas, even if in their child’s best interest, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and non-coerced choices may best lead to lasting convictions. Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Amoral decisions are open. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

This Post is longer than usual. It is an essay I wrote that was recently published in a book Open And Relational Leadership. Such a view of God, as opposed to a closed, standoffish God can be a game changer. Leaders proclaiming certainty have not allowed God’s open and relational ways to guide individuals in their own time.

I am grateful for pastors of churches I attended in the past who encouraged getting to know God. In retrospect, it seems pastors felt compelled to proclaim certainty of what God thought, according to their understanding of Scriptures. Perhaps they felt an internal pressure due to leadership expectations from parishioners. Didn’t pastors, though, read books where biblical scholars, who respect the authority of Scriptures, do not always agree? Total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. For example, can preachers or priests be women or gay? Many are leaving the institutional church because of the lack of honest, open dialogue. God’s example seems more open and relational because of the freedom given to understand God in our own time.

It’s hard to be relational when you are so damn certain.  

One would think Christians would be the least judgmental people in the world. After all, they believe in loving others like they want to be loved. Catholics and Protestants, or whatever other representation of the church may apply, seem compelled to establish creeds, as if uncertainties about God are a sign of weakness. It isn’t always voiced that you are required to accept their doctrines to participate, but try challenging them and see where that gets you! If God was so concerned about beliefs such as the Trinity, angels, the Bible, the Virgin Mary, or hell, it seems there would be more agreement. Maybe Christians would be more united and less judgmental if religions only encouraged the Creed of Love as the Spirit guided individuals. 

No, uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to lawlessness!  

I am not suggesting anything goes in the declaration that we can’t be certain. No one questions laws against murder. Criminals don’t deny their actions are wrong; they deny they committed such a crime. Unless you are a terrorist, it is almost universally accepted that it is morally wrong to kill or behead someone because of his or her beliefs. We don’t have to fear uncertainty. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side, as we continually evaluate the most loving approach or understanding of God. 

The idea of an infallible or inspired Bible may be a reason Christians claim certainty. 

The Bible certainly is a resource to discover what God is like, though the majority of people born into this world didn’t have a Bible or knowledge of Jesus. There must be other ways to know God! Infallibility is a non-starter because we don’t have the original manuscripts. The many translations or versions of the Bible we have today suggest copying is not an exact process. Even if we had the original autographs, interpretation is still required. Scholars who believe in the authority of Scriptures disagree regarding what the Bible says about critical issues such as homosexuality, gender roles, divorce, and hell, among many other things.

Interpretations are fallible, but most people do not begin a discussion with “I may be wrong…” Keep in mind that we can’t prove that God inspired every word of the Bible, unless you argue a biblical writer making such a claim is definitive evidence. The possibility of a fallible book encourages questioning rather than demonizing views to the contrary. We have every right to question interpretations that suggest a Creator does not love in the way we were created to love. God-followers seem unaware of how often they appear to be unopen and morally superior based on their assumptions about the Bible. 

How can we know God?

Some declare God is mysterious when their interpretation of the Bible makes God appear immoral, but how can we have a relationship with a God we can’t understand with the brain God gave us? Is evil sometimes mysteriously good? The Bible assumes we can understand God by challenging us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). We can only understand God’s perfect love by the way we humans were created to love perfectly. It is intuitive to think that the perfect love of God and human are the same. That is why the mystery card is used when God seems unloving from a human perspective. A Creator surely loves others and us in the same way that we were seemingly created to love others. 

Where has certainty in God’s name gotten us? 

It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain of what an invisible, inaudible God thinks. But supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery. It has led to revered theologians such as St. Augustine and John Calvin not firmly opposing the execution of those who didn’t agree with their theology. The Bible can’t be the definitive guide to what God would do because scholars who respect Scriptures disagree on so many issues. And it clearly is wrong to behead people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God. 

Jesus didn’t judge uncertainty.  

Jesus performed many miracles, but his disciples/followers still didn’t believe. Jesus didn’t cast away Peter when warning him he would deny Jesus three times; I believe Peter now is called the “Rock.” Jesus hung out with all kinds of people that didn’t share his certainty. Jesus didn’t unload on others when their beliefs weren’t his, unless you were a religious authority who was misrepresenting God. My hunch is that God, like parents, would rather be doubted than ignored. 

Is God unloving by not being more visible, thus more certain?

We may wonder why God isn’t more obvious in our lives. God’s awe-filled or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas, even if in their children’s best interests, a child may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back from that rebellion. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. God may know what a controlling parent never learns: the road of learning, reflecting, and non-coerced choices may best lead to lasting convictions.

God’s love is not controlling. Controlling love is an oxymoron. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. Not even an almighty God can force true love. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God, like parents, had a choice—not to create or to create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. Divine love limits divine power. God is open to changing the world at relational speed. 

Uncertainty can lead to acting more lovingly.  

Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly. God understands, as much as humans do, that forcing beliefs does not lead to long-lasting changes. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong…” will more likely lead to new understandings and creative solutions. Conversations change when humility is part of the tone. Certainty, when it comes to political matters such as taxes or health plans, has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Differences don’t have to lead to chaos but can be resolved by remaining open-minded to the most loving ways.

The Bible tells us the Word of God is not the Bible; it is flesh in the body of Jesus (Jn. 1:1-14). Jesus, when leaving this earth, didn’t promise to leave us with a Bible, but with God’s Spirit to aid in discerning good from evil (Jn. 14:16). Doesn’t the Spirit speak to us somehow when we have thoughts to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down, despite our constant failures? It may be good that that the Spirit doesn’t communicate audibly. The Bible may be more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite being subject to interpretation. Leaders who admit uncertainty, rather than certainty, about God, keep from imposing beliefs on others, which is just not in God’s open or relational nature.

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By Mike Edwards

The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we don’t have some notions of what perfect love is. The only way to understand God’s love is to compare to human love. God surely loves us the way we know how we ought to love others.

God and perfect human love must be the same.

The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and human love are the same.

Moral intuitions are a guide in what true love is.

It is plausible a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is how a Creator communicates how to treat others if in that person’s shoes. I don’t know any God or non-God person that doesn’t value the golden rule in relationships. Rational people don’t always agree what is our moral obligation concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people, but calm dialogue allows evaluating the challenges we encounter and finding what different views have in common.

What does God really think about women, gays, and non-Christians? 

Most intuitively question if a loving God really favors men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. Most intuitively question if a loving God really condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who attracted to than straights can. Most intuitively question if God would torture infidels forever for beliefs while on earth only for a short time. Humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies.

We can’t know what God’s perfect love is only according to the Bible.

Many don’t question the above views because of the Bible. Did the biblical writers always understand God perfectly as opposed to being on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like? How would God control every cognition and word written down? Besides, the Bible requires interpretation and biblical scholars, who respect Scriptures, don’t all agree the Bible teaches different roles for women and men or that the Bible condemns monogamous same-sex relationships. Not questioning a Book has led to sick and weak minds carrying out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense.

Uncertainty, rather than certainty, can be a good thing.

Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. It is hard to be relational when so damn certain! It is universally accepted that it is evil to kill or behead someone because of their beliefs unless you are a terrorist. Problems begin when insisting on our interpretation of a supposed inspired Book. God may not communicate more clearly, because God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. The road traveled of learning and reflecting may best lead to lasting convictions. The Bible was more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite subject to interpretation. Different opinions communicated respectively can stand together as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

Can we judge what is truly evil?  

Terrorists believe that murdering or beheading others for their beliefs isn’t evil. One main clue about extreme behaviors is if our actions demonstrate loving others how we wish to be loved. Would terrorists accept their wives and children being murdered or beheaded for different beliefs from another group claiming God-speak? Even extremists want to be treated with loving kindness. I would ask extremists how we can be certain their Book is really God’s words or that they have interpreted correctly. I assume the conversation would go downhill until one accepts Books can’t be proven inspired or uninspired.

It matters what we think God is like!

Our mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers might treat others. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the closer you are to them. We can’t claim with certainty, which may not be a bad thing, what God would do in every situation but human perfection is our best starting point for discussion. We can’t know what God is exactly like, but continually evaluating the most loving approach openly with others is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. Imagine what God is like. You may be right!

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By Mike Edwards

Total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. For example, there is genuine disagreement if God of the Bible desires preachers or priests be women or gay. I am convinced so many people are leaving the institutional church, but not God, because of lack of open dialogue. It’s hard to be relational when you are so damn certain!

Certainty is not found in a Book even if infallible.

It is implied that we can only know God through the Bible. Newsflash – literature always requires interpretation. You are interpreting my meaning as you read this blog. Am I saying God disapproves all certainty or that uncertainty isn’t all bad? A fallible, not infallible Book, more encourages questioning than demonizing views to the contrary. God-followers seem unaware, as I was, how they come off morally superior based on their assumptions about the Bible.

How can we know God if certainly not through the Bible? 

Only a perfect or good God is worth believing in! Who doesn’t know a good God hates beheading people for unbelief unless a supposed infallible Book speaks for God? God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral intuitions. Criminals often don’t defend their actions; instead, they deny committing such crimes. A Book couldn’t be a Creator’s only type of communication, because the majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a Bible or know of Jesus. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book. How can we decide what God is really like? See HERE

Where has certainty in God’s name gotten us?

It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and revered theologians such as St. Augustine and John Calvin not firmly opposing the execution of those not agreeing with their theology. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. 

Uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to chaos or lawlessness.

As mentioned, the Bible can’t be the definitive guide what God would do because scholars even biblical scholars disagree what God says about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, the afterlife, etc. Uncertainty unless talking about beheading infidels, not certainly about God, protects against imposing beliefs on others which is not God’s nature. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. 

Uncertainty must exist in a free world.  

Freedom is absolutely necessary for authentic relationships. God’s constant interference and presence could prevent true intimacy from emerging. Freedom leads to a great deal of unpredictability. The only way for a God to protect us completely against emotional or physical harm is to create robots. God can’t promise you a certain outcome in relationships or jobs and still be a respecter of freedom. God deals as much with uncertainty as we do, as not even an all-powerful God can know a free, undetermined future.

Uncertainty about God may be out of love.

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas, even if in their child’s best interest, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and non-coerced choices may best lead to lasting convictions. Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Amoral decisions are open. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

Uncertainty can lead to acting more loving.

Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly. Forcing beliefs doesn’t lead to long-lasting change. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” more likely leads to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in relationships! Uncertainty doesn’t result in lawlessness. Who doesn’t know God hates murder, sexual abuse, stealing, adultery, even not treating others like you want to be treated? Continually evaluate the most loving approach is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. A loving God only wishes to influence us to make choices with the interest of others in mind.

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Mike Edwards

I have written on this topic ad nauseum. Issues not addressed in this Post see here. Many scholars acknowledge the Bible has numerous contradictions which is reason enough to question the Bible’s inspiration since God is assumed to be perfect. Does God take pleasure in destroying (Deut. 28:63), or does God take no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11)? Does God punish children for the sins of parents (Ex. 34:7; Num. 14:18), or does God never punish children for what parents do (Ezek. 18:20)? Questioning the Bible may lead to knowing God better.

Why wouldn’t we question since we can’t prove the Bible is inspired by God?

Circular logic is used to argue the Bible is inspired by claiming the biblical writers make such a claim. Besides, the passage most commonly used to defend inspiration is – “All Scriptures is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16) – is subject to different interpretations. God-breathe could literally mean God-spirited, meaning God uses writings to touch our spirit. Humans are said to be God-breathed and we aren’t infallible. Also, this passage can only refer to the Old Testament since the New Testament and Jesus’ words hadn’t been collected.

Questioning avoids the slippery slope of inspired interpretations.

It doesn’t matter if you believe the biblical writers/editors always understood God perfectly because the Bible is literature which requires interpretation of a writer’s meaning and application to personal circumstances. Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret differently what God thinks about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, and the afterlife which impacts ever person every born. Infallible Books, as opposed to fallible Books, often lead down the slippery slope of justifying interpretations as if infallible.

Questioning avoids justification of violence and other immoralities in God’s name.

The idea of an infallible or inspired Book has led to assuming God’s views on morality only come from a Book such as the Bible. Terrorists kill infidels in the name of God. Extremists don’t question putting men in authoritative positions over women. One country only recently loosen restrictions on women’s ability to travel without male guardian permission. WHAT! Such ideas could only come from a supposed infallible Book about God. Imagine if terrorists or extremists had to question if God didn’t endorse words in a Book. A fallible Book may actually lead to less violence and violation of rights.

We must question if God really condemns women, gays, and other religions!

How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? How could a loving God condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? How could a loving God approve only Christians go to heaven, when the majority of people born into this world rebel or adhere to the religion where born. Is God a God of chance? 

Jesus as the final authority on God isn’t the solution.

Even if we argue all of Scriptures must be understood through the life and death of Jesus, since Jesus was God, this doesn’t solve knowing what God would do. We still have to interpret Jesus according to a Book. Rational people don’t agree on God and violence according to Jesus. When Jesus said love your enemies, does this mean He would say never to kill to love innocent victims when no other option seems to exist? We can’t always know when Jesus spoke about certain subjects without stating exceptions or used hyperbole for emphasis. It is better to question than go down the slippery slope of an inspired Book by God.

It is claimed we can’t know God if not through the Bible. 

Only a perfect or good God is worth believing in! Who doesn’t know a good God hates beheading people because they don’t share your beliefs unless a supposed infallible Book supposedly speaks for God? God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral intuitions. Criminals often don’t defend their actions; instead, they deny committing such crimes. A Book couldn’t be God’s only type of communication because a copy of the Bible and knowledge of Jesus hasn’t been available to the majority of people born into this world. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book. How can we decide what God is really like? See HERE

Is certainty really better than uncertainty about the Bible?  

Total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. Biblical scholars can’t agree if God desires preachers or priests be women or gay? It is suggested viewing the Bible as “inspired imperfection,” or we should view all of the Bible through Jesus’ eyes. As mentioned, even if Jesus was God in person His words still require interpretation. Uncertainty, not certainly about God, protects against imposing beliefs on others which is not God’s nature. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

What good is the Bible if we don’t know what passages are inspired by God?  

I believe the Bible has God’s blessing. There is so much wisdom to be gained from interacting with it. The viewpoint that God didn’t inspire the Bible, or at least admitting one’s interpretation isn’t inspired, could lead to less violence in God’s name and forcing other immoral opinions on others. The Bible can be viewed as recorded experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in other documents. Question biblical texts by writers that give qualities to God morally questionable. Aren’t we created in God’s image? 

God never intended a Book to take the place of a relationship with God and others. Even the Bible tells us the Word of God isn’t a Book but Spirit who lives in us (Jn. 14:16-17). As long as we read the Bible with a questioning spirit motivated by love rather than blind obedience, the Bible allows God’s spirit to influence making unselfish decisions for a better world. Certainty has only gotten us more violence, sexism, homophobia, etc. Discuss different views of God by defending our reasoning, respecting the opinions of others, and committing to growing in understanding.

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By Mike Edwards

A God who bothers to creates surely wants us to know what God is like. Atheists and believers agree. The only kind of God worth believing in is a perfect God. A Book can’t be the only way to know God because even scholars, who respect the authority of Scriptures, don’t agree on whether Hell really exist or God condemns gays. Most believe we ought to treat others like we want to be treated. We can only know what such love is through our own moral notions.

God and human perfect must be the same.

If God exist most would agree with the Bible’s exhortation that we should strive to: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). It is intuitive that human and godly perfection are one in the same. We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly? It is only natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others.

We cannot know definitively what God’s perfect love is according to the Bible.

Literature always requires interpretation, thus why scholars disagree on the meaning of the same biblical passages. You are currently interpreting whether I am saying none of the Bible is inspired or that every word of the Bible may not be inspired by God. It is normal to question interpretations. Interpretations that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss because they are contrary to our moral intuitions and understandings of perfection. We cannot avoid using our moral brains when reading ancient literature. 

We cannot know definitely what God is like according to Jesus.  

It is argued, because of the challenges understanding God and violence in the Old Testament, that Jesus is our final destination for fully understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. God-followers though don’t always agree what Jesus taught because of transmission, translation, and interpretation. People who love Jesus with all their heart don’t agree if Jesus’ teachings allow or rule out war when evil is rampant and victims can be saved. It is an illusion to claim we can know God would do because the Bible or Jesus says so.

Uncertainty can be a good thing.

Even if God is Truth we still have to discern what is Truth. Many leave the institutional church because of the lack of honest, open dialogue. Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. But c’mon! We don’t have to make laws against murder, sexual abuse, etc. Admitting uncertainty, unless beheading people for beliefs, allows different opinions to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from a Book.

God surely is not a mystery but understandable.  

The idea of a mysterious God may only come from one’s understanding of a Book about God. Biblical interpreters will often play the mystery card when their view suggests God’s morals are not the same as human morals. They understand some rationalization is needed when views of God are incompatible with human ideas of a loving God. If God isn’t understandable, why does the Bible ask us to imitate God (Eph. 5:1)? We may not be able to comprehend all plausible moral reasons how suffering and a good God can co-exist, but that doesn’t make God a mystery.

God surely isn’t a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking.  

An evil God isn’t worth believing in. Language breaks down if we say God’s evil sometimes is mysteriously good. The Bible encourages us to be perfect like God, but we can’t be like God if God’s love isn’t what we know love to be. A Creator surely loves us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. God is neither mysterious or a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking. 

So, for example how does God really feel about gays?  

Many only condemn gays because they are convinced the Bible does. I have written here to please reconsider that the Bible doesn’t condemn gays, even if you believe every word is inspired by God. Some condemn gays because it doesn’t seem natural to them. Why would God condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Loving others like you want to be loved is true, human, godly love! See Here

Human perfection is our best starting point for knowing what God is truly like.

We often think of God according to what we have been taught. We may imagine God, most often referred to Father, is like our earthly father or parent. We may think God is like what is claimed by others according to the Bible. Our understandings about God shape our attitudes toward God. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the closer you are to them. We can’t claim with certainty, which may not be a bad thing, what God would do in every situation but human perfection is our best starting point for discussion.

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By Mike Edwards

I am not suggesting anything goes when I declare we can’t be certain. No one questions laws against murder. Criminals don’t deny their actions are wrong; they deny they committed such a crime. It is almost universally accepted that it is morally wrong to kill or behead someone because of their beliefs unless you are a terrorist.

Uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to chaos or lawlessness.

Total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. The Bible can’t be the definitive guide what God would do because scholars who respect Scriptures disagree what God according to the Bible thinks about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, the afterlife, etc. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

Where has certainty in God’s name gotten us?

It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and revered theologians such as St. Augustine and John Calvin not firmly opposing the execution of those not agreeing with their theology. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same/different gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name.

An infallible (certain) Bible is problematic!

It is argued that if we can’t know what the Bible says, we can’t know God. Newsflash – literature always requires interpretation. You are interpreting my meaning as you read this blog. Am I saying God disapproves all certainty or that uncertainty isn’t all bad? A Book possibly being fallible, then infallible, encourages questioning than demonizing views to the contrary. God-followers seem unaware, as I was, how they come off morally superior based on their assumptions about the Bible.

Jesus didn’t judge uncertainty.

Jesus perform many miracles and His disciples/followers still didn’t believe. Jesus didn’t tell disciples to get lost because of doubts. Jesus didn’t caste away Peter when warning him he would deny Jesus three times. I believe Peter now is call the “Rock.” Jesus sought the company of people that didn’t share His certainty. My hunch is that God, like parents, rather be doubted than ignored. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times.

Uncertainty can lead to acting more loving.

Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” more likely leads to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in relationships! Conversations change when humbleness is part of the tone. Certainty when it comes to political matters such as taxes or health plans has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. 

MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

Why I Doubt the god of Extremists Or Terrorists

Why I Doubt God Is A Prayer Genie

Why I Doubt God Controls Evil And Suffering

Why I Doubt God Knows The Future And Why It Matters

Why I Doubt God Cares What Your Beliefs Are

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By Mike Edwards

One would think God-followers wouldn’t be judgmental. After all, we are guided by the principle of loving others as we want to be loved. Jesus certainly didn’t seem judgmental. He hung out with all kinds of people who probably didn’t share His beliefs. Jesus did get His ire up with religious folks because they were misrepresenting God. We must stand up or judge when children are abused, women are violated, etc., but not unload on others when their beliefs aren’t ours.

Some Christians may be judgmental as a defense mechanism.

It isn’t easy for those of us who have forsaken religion but not God to have discussions about our new beliefs with those still a part of the institutional church. Remember, you may be causing one to question or defend beliefs they have held on for a long time. Don’t be too judgmental. Can you remember at one time arguing about what you use to believe passionately? We mustn’t force conversations but have civil discussion with those who desire them.

Some Christians may be judgmental because of Leadership.

Church leaders seem to believe uncertainty is a sign of weakness. Catholics, Methodists, Etc. establish the certainty of creeds that one must believe in. Try challenging the doctrines and see where that gets you! If God was so concerned about beliefs such as the Trinity, Angels, the Bible, the Virgin Mary, wouldn’t there be more agreement. Maybe Christians would be more united and less judgmental if religions only had the Creed of Love. Jesus didn’t follow the business/institutional church manual. Jesus encouraged “Whoever is least among you is the greatest” (Lk. 9:48).

The biggest reason Christians may be judgmental is because convinced following the Bible.

Many Christians condemn same-sex relationships, women are denied equal or authoritative roles as men, and it is said only Christians can go to heaven so all other religions can go to Hell. Good people, though it doesn’t feel natural, often only condemn same-sex relationships out of supposed allegiance to God because of the Bible. But literature, including the Bible, requires interpretation.

Even if the entire Bible is inspired by God, interpretations aren’t inspired. Admitting you could be wrong would encourage different views standing side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Many spiritual minded people assume they need to convert their friends to supposed certain beliefs (theirs) to be accepted by God. Stop! You may be wrong! Now, if you believe in beheading and killing people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God, you are wrong! God gave you a brain not a Book to discern evil actions.

Christians may fear uncertainty.  

There is almost universal agreement on most moral matters. Criminals don’t defend their murderous actions; they deny they committed such actions. To violate one’s physical or emotional rights is clearly wrong, but total certainty is an illusion. Christians who proclaim “because the Bible says so,” force supposed truth onto others. As mentioned, the Bible requires interpretation.

Uncertainty, rather than certainty, leads to more loving actions. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” can lead to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in marriage! Conversations change when humbleness is part of the tone. Certainty when it comes to politics has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Different opinions expressed without physical or verbal aggression can be resolved by respecting the freedom of others, as God does, while remaining open-minded to new understandings.

Would you naturally assume if not for your understanding of a Book that:

  • God condemns gays though gays no more choose to be gay than straights choose to be straight
  • God prohibits women serving as pastors or priests though my wife and daughters are a lot smarter and better leaders than a whole lot of men
  • God encourages wives being more submissive to husbands which is conducive to abuse
  • God judges based on religion when the religion the majority adhere to depends where born

Every view above is debated among biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures. Let’s have open discussions without hiding behind an infallible Book like terrorists. Even if an infallible Book does exist, infallible interpretations are a myth. I am convinced questioning the Bible would lead to Christians being less judgmental and more loving.

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By Mike Edwards

We cannot definitively say what an invisible, inaudible God is like or even prove that God exist. But, millions if not billions are not insane for knowing or at least hoping there is a Creator who can provide worth, perspective, meaning, and hope of life after death. We should not have hidden agendas in relationships. If people want to pursue a relationship with God, they should see in our life something worth asking about. One can argue what if it turns out there isn’t a God. What do we loss striving to be unselfish and trying to be the person we deep down desire to be with the help of our Creator? Many rightly tune out God because of claims made about God. What is God like?

Why does it matter what we think or say God is like? 

Understandings about God shape attitudes toward God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our views of God. The more we respect our earthly or heavenly parent, the closer we are to them. Some are atheists, not because they believe God can’t exist, but because what they imagine a loving God should be like isn’t what God-followers claim. Don’t believe everything you hear! 

We can begin to understand God through our moral intuitions.

If God does exist and desires a relationship, the Bible likely isn’t the only way to know God. Over half the people born into this world never had a Bible or heard of Jesus. Also, we can’t prove if the Israelites wrote more about what they thought God to be like or what God was really like. The possibility for a universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated is a Creator communicating through our moral intuitions. We all intuitively know how we “ought” to treat others.

God is claimed to be a mystery sometimes because one’s interpretation of Scriptures suggest God is evil from a human perspective. Don’t we have an inborn intuition that God and human perfect love are the same? Even the Bible assumes we can know what perfect love is, because the Bible tells us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). God’s love surely is the same as perfect human love.

We cannot definitely say what God is like according to the Bible.

It doesn’t matter if you believe the biblical writers/editors didn’t always understood God perfectly, or whether you believe God inspired every word of the Bible. Literature requires interpretation of a writer’s meaning and application to personal circumstances. This is why there is disagreement whether one should divorce or not according to the Bible. It depends on their situation. Biblical certainty is an illusion. Laypeople, much less biblical scholars who respect Scriptures as authoritative, disagree what the Bible says about same-sex relationships or gender roles to name only a few critical issues. Something isn’t immoral just because we think the Bible says so.

Can’t we at least say God is like what the New Testament and Jesus says?  

The New Testament still requires interpretation and we don’t always agree, even what Jesus would do. Many theologians rightly question if Old Testament writers always had a complete understanding of God. In OT times it was sacrilegious to not speak of God as being all-powerful and controlling even through violence. This may explain violent warfare actions in God’s name. It is suggested Jesus, who claimed to be God in the flesh, had a more complete understanding of what God is like. We still though have the challenge of interpreting Jesus’ words. Turning the other check is used to claim Jesus never advocated violence, but a possible literal translation of Mt. 5:39 is “do not resist by evil means.” Would Jesus say violence is never desired but may be necessary sometimes? We must be careful declaring the Bible said or Jesus said, especially if such beliefs hinder others from pursuing God on their own. God can explain themselves to individuals.

A God who is a moral hypocrite isn’t worth believing in!  

Believers and unbelievers at least agree an evil god is not worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical unless we can distinguish evil from good. As mentioned even those who claim God is sometimes a mystery do so because their interpretation requires an explanation of God from a human, moral perspective. If your view of God seems immoral to another, be gracious enough to let God reveal themselves to others unless others believe like a terrorist. Terrorists can only defend their beliefs because of a supposed inspired Book, which of course their interpretations are correct. Who can argue with a Book supposedly directly from God! We can’t know perfectly what God would do in everything situation but human perfection is our best starting point.

What are some beliefs about God that are common stumbling blocks?

God can’t be a hellish, sadistic torturer. Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies! Such a place may be only imagined because of a Book. It turns out the Bible doesn’t say anything about the traditional understanding of the word Hell. Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna that was translated into the word Hell in some of our Bibles. Gehenna was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem that was filled with garbage and even dead bodies. Fires were set to get rid of the garbage and smell. We don’t translate names of valleys with different name. Gehenna should be translated as Gehenna. Jesus used the word Gehenna symbolically to illustrate spiritual death is as horrific as physical death, not what happens to people in the afterlife.

God can’t be a homophobe. It makes no sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals. It can rightly be argued that not even the Bible condemns same-sex relationships. I have written here to please reconsider that the Bible doesn’t condemn gays. Some only condemn gays because they are convinced the Bible does. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Shouldn’t we be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices? 

Lack of certainty about God does not mean anything goes? How do we decide?  

We don’t have to make laws against murder. Criminals don’t deny their actions are wrong; they deny they committed such a crime. It is almost universally accepted that it is morally wrong to kill someone out of revenge or for selfish reasons. It is universally accepted that it is morally wrong to behead people for their beliefs unless you are a terrorist. Believing the Bible can’t be use to definitively tell us what God is like protects from those claiming their interpretation is definitive while demonizing views to the contrary. 

Unfortunately, Christians often claims certain morals are universal because of their personal beliefs based on a Book. To divorce or not is not a universal law to impose upon others. A partner may respond with gratitude for a second change or another chance may simply enable bad behaviors to continue. Consensual relationships, straight or gay, are not violating anyone’s personal rights. It doesn’t matter if you think gay or straight relationships aren’t natural. You either aren’t gay or straight.

Some relationships, such as pedophilic relationships, are obviously not consensual. There are always exceptions to general guidelines. The Bible isn’t a rule Book or question and answer Book. We may have to kill to protect another life. Let’s have a respectful discussion rather than shut down discussion by claiming we speak for God because of our understanding of a Book. Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. Uncertainty allows different opinions to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Differences don’t have to lead to chaos but to new understandings and creative solutions.

How we ought to treat others is how a good God treats others. 

Common moral, loving sense is not the enemy. Don’t let your interpretation of a Book override the golden rule with others of different gender, color, or sexuality. Terrorists or extremists justify immoral treatment of other by hiding behind a supposedly infallible Book. A Book questioned if entirely inspired by God seems to lead to more open discussions. You can hardly every going wrong treated others like you wish to be treated were you in their shoes. Actions of love are always more important than any beliefs you may have.

Don’t let your understanding of God turns people away from God?

Terrorists’ view of God can’t be right. It is almost a universal belief that God respects freedom if such freedom does not endanger the lives of others. Forced love is an oxymoron. Others are convinced God condemns gay love, women leading men, etc. only because of their interpretation of a Book. Well, not all who respect the Bible agree with that interpretation. Do not speak for God when your interpretation is debatable. Let people decide on their own what God is like. God can handle their own business. 

What do you imagine God is really like?

You may be right! Listen to your moral inner voice. We just seem to know what is moral or immoral in most situations. Be guided by love in treating others like you want to be. We can imagine what God is like by discussing what human perfection is. Those who argue humans are created in the image of God usually accept that God created us to know and hate evil. If God sometimes is evil according to one’s interpretation of the Bible, should we hate God sometimes? A God who seeks a relationship is surely more understandable than mysterious.

Don’t we get closer to understanding what Godly love is by accepting that loving others like we want to be loved is the same as how God loves us and others?

 

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By Mike Edwards

I admit choosing a provocative title. I could have said God is like the perfect human being. What is my point? I am not suggesting any human being is God or that an invisible, inaudible God is human. I am simply trying to find a way to write and encourage discussion of what God is like. We can’t claim to know exactly what God is like, but what ideas may be closer to the truth? 

It matters what we think God is like.

Our understandings about God shape our attitudes toward God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our views of God. The more you respect your earthly parents, the closer you are to them. Some are atheists, not because they believe God can’t exist, but because what they imagine a loving God should be like isn’t what God-followers claim.

We can’t be positive what God is really like of course.  

I can’t even prove God really exist. I just think that millions if not billions are not insane for knowing or at least hoping there is a Creator who can provide worth, perspective, meaning, and hope of life after death.  We need a way to talk about what God is really like. It is often claimed we know what God is like – just read the Bible!

The Bible cannot be the definitive way of knowing what God is like.

The Bible is ancient literature that requires interpretation. Laypeople, much less biblical scholars who respect Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree what the same passages mean. Some claim the Bible condemns homosexuality; other deny such claims. How do we decide which interpretation may be the best interpretation of God’s true nature? The majority born never had a Bible so a Creator may have thought of others ways to communicate what they are really like. 

Doesn’t God communicate through our moral intuitions?

A universal, inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated could suggest how a Creator communicates what is good. When we read ancient literature such as the Bible and two plausible interpretations exist, we can’t avoid using our moral brains.  We are trying to determine what a perfect, loving God is like. An immoral God isn’t worth believing in. Even the Bible assumes we can know what perfect love is, because the Bible tells us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). God’s love surely is what we imagine perfect human love is like.

Even those who play the mystery card assume perfect godly and human morality are the same.

Many claim God is a mystery sometimes because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. Such interpreters are using their moral intuitions and assuming God and human love are the same. It is certain that we don’t always know what perfect love is, but the mystery card short circuits discussions about God’s true character.

Doesn’t the Newer Testament through the eyes of Jesus give us the correct view of God?

Many theologians rightly question if Old Testament writers always had a complete understanding of God. In OT times it was sacrilegious to not speak of God as being all-powerful and controlling even through violence. This may explain violent warfare actions in God’s name. It is suggested Jesus, who claimed to be God in the flesh, had a more complete understanding of what God is like. We still though have the challenge of literature requiring interpretation. Turning the other check is interpreted to claim Jesus never advocated violence, but a possible literal translation of Mt. 5:39 is “do not resist by evil means.” Would Jesus agree violence is never desired but may be necessary sometimes? We can never claim certainty “because the Bible or Jesus says so.”

Lack of certainty about God does not mean anything goes?  

We don’t have to make laws against murder. Criminals don’t deny their actions are wrong; they deny they committed such a crime. It is almost universally accepted that it is morally wrong to kill someone out of revenge or for selfish reasons. It is universally accepted that it is morally wrong to behead people for their beliefs unless you are a terrorist. Claiming the Bible can’t be use to definitively tell us what God is like protects from those claiming their interpretation is definitive while demonizing views to the contrary.

God is like the perfect human being!

We can’t know what God is exactly like but we can imagine what God is like by discussing what human perfection is. Those who argue humans are created in the image of God usually accept that God created us to know and hate evil. If God sometimes is evil according to one’s interpretation of the Bible, should we hate God sometimes? We must question not rationalize such interpretations. A God who seeks a relationship is surely more understandable than mysterious. Don’t we get closer to understanding what Godly love is by accepting that loving others like we want to be loved is the same as how God loves us and others.

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