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PBS’s The Question of God: Why Believe?

broadcast June 2004 | comments (10)

Does having faith in God need to be an emotional decision, or can it be purely an intellectual one? What difference does faith make in your everyday life?

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10 Comments to “PBS’s The Question of God: Why Believe?

  1. Carol Inouye Says:

    Scientific experimentation has shown that human toddlers, but not chimps, EXPECT to be taught and thereby “follow orders” (shown by the magic box built black and then clear shows). We also have a “learning-teaching” capability that enables the “triangle effect” which creates expectations about what the other is thinking. Creating the mindset that having faith makes one a better human has been the “natural” legacy of the method human minds use to learn. Emotion in this case overrides intelligent thought in the decision to have faith in God. I personally do not have a faith in God and that makes no difference in my everyday life. I do, however, have faith in the power of the human mind, self-responsibility and human interconnectedness through relationship and this faith grows everyday supported by what I experience.

  2. Miaohua Jiang Says:

    On the conversation about loving thy neighbors.

    The point is that other than behaving like your neighbors
    to play tic-tac-toe, Juses pointed out another option: to be
    a fool like him. It is this willingness to be a fool that lead us to the path of humanity. Of course, we reserve the right to play this old game of tic-tac-toe when necessary. But we just admire people who do not play this game and prefer to be a fool. Jesus was completely an idiot to believe that by sacrificing himself on the cross, he could save the souls of those illiterate peasants in rags. Gandhi was another example of the biggest fools. He even thought it was possible to use non-violence to defeat Hitler. A social worker found that fundamental Christians are more willing to adopt children with disabilities. They are surely the most idiotic people we can find in U.S.

  3. George Parry Says:

    What would have happened to Ghandi and his nation if Hitler wasn’t stopped?
    “A social worker found that”, This is about as unscientific as you can get. If you are already a believer in God you will put this feather in your cap really quickly.

  4. Kaizen Says:

    I disagree with Pascal’s logic on why we should choose Theism by default if we’re not sure. He implied that if we choose Theism, we have nothing to lose. This is far from the truth (if Theism is wrong). The real thing of value that we wager is our life here and now, and how we come to our decision ultimately determining the results in our lives. And if our lives is all we have, then all we have is at stake.

  5. john george Says:

    We nonbelievers should quit saying we have “faith” in science. Actually, we don’t have faith in anything, but we do have CONFIDENCE in science, logical inference, etc. JG

  6. Larry Curleanmo Says:

    JG says: “We nonbelievers should quit saying we have “faith” in science. Actually, we don’t have faith in anything, but we do have CONFIDENCE in science, logical inference, etc. JG”

    Man, get a dictionary. CONFIDENCE is another word for FAITH. See the root FIDE-; it means faith. Cf. BONE FIDE, meaning, GOOD FAITH.

    Here are definitions for CONFIDENCE from Dictionary.net:

    Confidence \Con”fi*dence\, n. [L. confidentia firm trust in, self-confidence: cf. F. confidence.]

    1. The act of confiding, trusting, or putting faith in; trust; reliance; belief; — formerly followed by of, now commonly by in.

    Society is built upon trust, and trust upon confidence of one another’s integrity. –South.

    A cheerful confidence in the mercy of God. –Macaulay.

    2. That in which faith is put or reliance had.

    The Lord shall be thy confidence. –Prov. iii. 26.

    3. The state of mind characterized by one’s reliance on himself, or his circumstances; a feeling of self-sufficiency; such assurance as leads to a feeling of security; self-reliance; — often with self prefixed.

    Looks like non-believers DO have FAITH in something.

    Larry Curleanmo

  7. Raymond Davis Says:

    Why I believe and what. – I am a former unbeliever.
    In Germany as a teenager and later in the military, Christians would come up to me and start talking to me about God/Jesus, and I would ask them if He was real. They would say, “Yes.” I would say to them, “If he is real you have 60-seconds to have Him appear, if He appears I will believe.” Of course He never appeared!
    While living in Frankfurt Germany, I read Eric Von Daniken’s book, Chariots of the Gods. As a young teenager it made an impact on me, and I quickly believed Eric’s theory to be the right stuff. In 1978, we moved to the New Cumberland Army Depot near Harrisburg, PA where I met a man from Guam who became my martial arts instructor. He is a very highly respected person and had attained a very high level of “enlightenment.” He was able to do unbelievable things in the physical and spiritual realm, of which I began to follow. One of the strangest things he did was stand in the middle of the floor with his hands out to his side and no one could move him. He “became an iron beam” he would say.
    By the summer of 1992, I was teaching martial arts in several locations, working in a top secret job and considered myself an atheist acquainted with the spiritual realm. I was quite happy with my understanding of the universe and money was something I had plenty of. One of my favorite toys was a car stereo that I purchased in 1984 that cost me about $3,000. I loved music whether classical, rock, techno, jazz, yes, even country.
    My commute was 35 minutes from Harrisburg to the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle. One day I just could not listen to the stereo anymore so I began to read poetry. Amazing what we do driving. I had memorized a large part of the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and about 30 poems within a few months. One day I forgot my poetry book, and I looked around the car to see if there was anything I could memorize. I saw a booklet on the back seat that was left in my car from my wife’s catholic church. Not liking religion, but needing something to memorize, I started memorizing what seemed to me to be a poem, but was really a song, “How Great Thou Art.”
    With the radio off while I was driving home, I began to memorize the song and when I read the verse:
    And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
    Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
    That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
    He bled and died to take away my sin.
    I said out loud, “Why would you do that?” and for a split second I thought, why did I just say that and to whom am I speaking?
    (What happened next is difficult to place into text or speech. All I can say is that God is not constricted to linear time. Several things happened simultaneously and something that would take you, and I several seconds to say and do took Him a split second. Think of it as 30 seconds in 1 second?)
    Then suddenly I heard an audible voice come from the back seat area of my car which amazed me. The voice said, “Because, I love you.” As I heard the “B” sound in the word “Because” I felt something get out of my body and hang in the air between my head and the side window. I could sense that it was there, but I could not see it. I was never aware that I had anything in me, but I felt it get out of me and place its self right next to the left side of my head. I was slightly startled by the audible voice but more so by what just got out of me.
    At the same time that I heard this audible voice—time and space changed. During the time it took Him to say the word “Because” audibly, He spoke three sentences directly into my mind and showed me two visions. All during the time I hear “Because.”
    In my mind He said to me, “I Am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I Am, who stretched out the heavens.” And all of a sudden it was as if I were suspended in space and I see stars going out away from me as if someone pulled them open like a blanket filled with stars and space. I was amazed! It was beautiful! I saw this for a few seconds.
    And then He spoke in my mind again, and as I heard His voice in my mind, “I Am,” I saw the road in front of me. Then right next to my right elbow over the center console an oval hole opened up right in mid air! I look down into this hole and about an eighth of a mile away I see a man dying on a cross. I knew (it was revealed to me) immediately that this was Jesus the Son of God, that He is God, and that He was dying on that cross for my sins. The holiness which came out of that hole is indescribable and my physical being was almost overwhelmed.
    After looking at Jesus for a few seconds the hole closed up, and I heard the rest of the sentence, “I love you.” So He showed me all that during the time it took Him to say, “Because.”
    Now I have this spirit riding along with me, right between me and the driver’s side window. I just heard God say to me audibly, “Because, I love you.” I heard His voice in my mind, saw the creation of the universe and saw Him dying on a cross, and He reveals the holiness of what Jesus did for us on that cross.
    I knew that this love was unconditional. It was the first time I had ever felt unconditional love. But out of my mouth, out loud, I say, “But I’m stupid.” And I thought to my self, “Why did I just say that?” And immediately I remember my mother saying to me in many ways over the years that I was slow, couldn’t do what the other kids could do etc. etc. etc. But the love would not go away, it was unconditional. I knew that God loved me even if I could not spell. And I thought to myself, “What do you want?”
    I knew that Jesus just paid for my sins and that He was Holy; I wanted to give God something back. “What do you want?” I thought. I thought I would give Him all my money… no response…He didn’t want that? I will give You all my money and my house?…no response… He didn’t want that? I will give You all my money, my house, and my cars?… no response. What do You want?…. Me! I felt so unworthy. I knew at this point that Jesus Christ was without sin, that He was pure and holy. Me? “Yes.” And I vividly remembered a boy that I kicked in the chest as two other boys held him bent over. Though he had a thick coat on he fell to the ground, and we ran away. Suddenly I saw what I did from God’s holy point, and I was grieved and my heart was so sorry. I began to weep, and I cried out, “O’ God, Please make it as if it never happened.” And in my spirit I heard, “Forgiven,” “Paid for.”
    The spirit that was next to me in the car got out of the car and was riding along with me outside my window. I could feel it very tangibly, but I could not see it. And immediately I saw the face of a girl I had sex with when I was younger. I had forgotten about her, but when I saw her face I began to grieve deeply for what I had done. “Forgiven!” And the next sin popped up, and I grieved and was forgiven again, and again, and again. There must have been 70 to 100 images that popped up into my mind and because my heart was truly grieved and asking for forgiveness as soon as they appeared, and I dealt with them I was forgiven. This went on for a minute or so. I didn’t know that so much of what I did was sin. But as soon as they popped up I grieved and was forgiven.
    Then the Lord said to me in my mind, “The way you are, right now.” And I said, “But I have to change my language.” I used foul language on a regular basis at the military basis I worked. And He said, “No, the way you are right now.” And suddenly I saw a black line in front of me, and to the left was all black with a white “No” and to the right was all white with black “Yes.” And when I saw this I leaped at the “Yes” with all my being with my spirit I could actually feel myself leap to the “Yes.” And two things happened, first the spirit that was outside my car began to leave—I sensed it, as if I could see it go up and away from me back towards Carlisle. I could sense it for about a half a mile, and then it just took off. I knew that it was gone. It wanted nothing to do with what was happening to me.
    At the same time electricity touched the top of my head and as a wave began to filter down through my body. When it reached my heart another wave started at the top of my head. This continued on until I had four waves going down through my body at the same time. When one would leave my feet another would enter my head. I could not drive anymore, and I pulled over to the side of the road. My body was shaking as if being shocked—but I felt no pain. I began to cry, laugh, sing songs I had never sang. I felt such joy, such love, I was overwhelmed. This went on for an hour. Every time I would pull on to the road it would happen again, and I would have to pull over. This was the greatest day of my life. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my wife. Oh, the love, Oh He’s real.
    When I got home my wife opened up the door, and I said, “Honey, you have got to give your life to Jesus!”
    She replied with a shout, “Of course I have, I’m catholic. Who are you?”
    I said, “No you don’t understand, you need to give your life to Jesus!”
    Five years later, Leah would have an experience which I find incredible and wonderful that would accomplish the same for her as this testimony has done for me: salvation and a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe, the God of Three Parts; Yahweh— whom we know as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I could write for hours the stories, signs, wonders and miracles that have happened since this day in 1992.

  8. Susie E. Says:

    Why do only some people have a life altering experience like this and the rest of us are just left to wonder? Is there a God? If so, why does he not reveal himself to me? Does he not love me? Am I worth as much to him as these other people who are given miraculous signs and wonder? If God exists and loves all his children, I think that all people would have these type of experiences and not only just a chose few. So, either God does not exist or he is not all-loving – more of a Zeus type of entity.

  9. CJLee Says:

    Well as Mr. Davis says in the beginning,

    “By the summer of 1992, I was teaching martial arts in several locations, working in a top secret job and considered myself an atheist acquainted with the spiritual realm. I was quite happy with my understanding of the universe”

    Perhaps his knowledge of the spiritual realm and universe caused his experience to be more extravagant. I am interested if Mr. Davis still feels as close now to the spiritual realm, or more than ever.

    Let me ask Susie, are you a good person regardless of your belief in god?

    Jeopardy:

    This Seven Deadly Sin caused the economic downfall of America in 2008.

    -CJLee

  10. CJLee Says:

    Reminder: Most experiences are near death and I believe before death.

    Although sadly I have not had an experience like Mr. Davis. I have had a coincidence that made me feel as though Jesus is here for me. I have also had a dark experience, again no visions but an overall sense of evil.

    Good and Evil are out there, its up to you to decide!

    YES or NO?