COGIC Mother Won’t Acknowledge Atheism

s says:

I am an atheist and I have come out to my family as such but my mother, raised COGIC refuses to even acknowledge that I have told her that I do not believe. I never expected her support, but as time goes on she is getting more vocal about me praying and seeking the lord, she talks to me as if I’m a Christian and it’s putting a real strain on our relationship. we don’t talk often, maybe once a week, but our conversation is now filled with references to god. I don’t want to step on her right to speak her mind, but I want to ask her not to mention god to me.
Is is wrong to just want to talk to my mother without her bringing up her god every other sentence?

41 Responses to COGIC Mother Won’t Acknowledge Atheism

  1. buttermilk80 says:

    To those who believe (that is to believe that there is far more to life than what we perceive), He is everything. As you chose to remain as you are, she is incapable of not believing. What she shares with you is LIFE to her. And He will not take that away from her. What you are is yours alone, for that is your choice.

    While she finds peace, you find tormoil. For now, I tell you a truth, you are her pain of love. Oh how she loves you and desires that you should enter into her world. She is already part of your world yet has gone beyond this place of testing to trust in He who does not lie.

    I speak like this because the thing you lack is an understanding of her God. I don’t say that to judge you. I simply point out that He is to her what He is not to you. Accept her as she accepts Him and you will find a different relationship between you.

    By His Grace.

  2. The Atheist says:

    Hi, s. That’s a tough question. On the one hand, you are under no obligation to be constantly offended by your mother’s refusal to acknowledge your position, and her refusal to take your feelings into account when she forces her views on you. On the other hand, she’s almost certainly getting (bad) advice from her fellow believers to treat you this way and thus “bring you around”. At the very least, she’s simply in denial about your atheism. So it might be something she’ll “grow out of” when she sees that it doesn’t have any effect.

    I think it’s important for you to understand why she is acting the way she’s acting. It’s possible that your being an atheist is embarrassing to her. This would be a very selfish reason for her attitude toward you, and a conversation about that might be warranted. On the other hand, she may genuinely believe that you will spend eternity in hell. This makes her behavior a bit more forgivable since her attitude toward you is prompted by genuine fear and concern. In this case, you might think about letting her know that you understand her fear and concern. Or it could be some combination of the two motives in which case you have the unenviable task of trying to untangle the mess before you can deal with it.

    I don’t know how long it’s been since you came out atheist, but if it hasn’t been that long, I’d give it some time. But if it’s already been a while, then you can gradually let her know that you are less and less willing to put up with her attitude toward your beliefs and that you’re only choice is to have less contact with her if things don’t change. By gradually, I mean start out very gently, then become firmer each time until she begins to acknowledge you.

    If the “subtle approach” is simple not right in your case, you can be more aggressive while continuing to keep the conversation civil (and loving if that’s possible given the already strained relationship). Be the first one to bring up religion in your conversations. Bring it up by asking details about what she believes. For example, has God ever spoken to you? What did He sound like? How was it different from the “sound” of your own thoughts? There are no end to these kinds of questions. Don’t ask them in a combative demeanor, ask them in the spirit of actually wanting to know what she believes and more importantly, why. It won’t be long before she is the one avoiding the subject.

    • s says:

      My mother audibly hears the voice of god on a daily basis, she has for years. there is no doubt in her mind tha she is speaking to god. it is an amazing thing to see, she will talk to him as if he is in the room in the flesh. she also speaks in tongues and calls it the language of the holy spirit.

      She is proud of her faith and the sacrifices she has made for it. i wrote her a letter and in it i said that i felt that she loves god more than she loves me. she replied “of course i do, god comes first, he always has, you know that” she even seemed confused by my comment. my spouse feels that this is an unhealthy relationship that i should let go of, but she is my mother and when we talk about other things, about life,we can talk forever. but as time goes on and she asks me to pray and i politley change the subject, she just keeps bringing him up more and more often. i don’t want to cut her off, but i am losing patience on this matter. I came out three years ago.

      • The Atheist says:

        That sounds like a very tough position to be in. It’s beginning to sound like your mother may be suffering from some kind of auditory hallucinations, rather than simply being insensitive to you and being over enthusiastic about her religion (I’m no psychologist and I could be way off base! It just sounds that way to me from your description). Do you think there’s any chance of striking a deal with her? Something to the effect that you’ll pray with her as long as she’s meeting with a therapist? It’s just a thought.

        I think your spouse is right; it sounds like a toxic relationship and I can’t even imagine how hard it must be on you. You certainly don’t have to put up with constant assaults on your sensibilities. On the other hand, it sort of changes things if there is something really wrong and she needs help.

      • Susan says:

        S – I just recently contacted my father after a 30 year break & when he wrote back, I saw that he was in fact mentally ill. I didn’t have perspective back when I was a kid, but now others close to me read his letter & call it pathological among other names.

        The point? some people are just plain bats, & sometimes those people are parents. When that’s the case, you really have to back up into – what do I want from this, & what would be useless to say? If your mom spends her days chatting out loud to someone invisible who she freely admits is more important than you, then I think you can go ahead & indulge in some armchair diagnosis. And even without an official label (schizophrenia?) the bottom line for you may be the best you can ever hope for is occasional, short conversations that discuss basic daily life, but go no deeper. When a parent is really unbalanced, there are some arguments there is no point in having, since the whole reason you’re having the argument is because of their unreasonable position, which they wouldn’t have if they were capable of being reasonable. And your concern on stepping on her right to speak her mind – my guess is she’s so thoroughly wedded to her beliefs that you can say what you feel like you need to say, & it’ll just wash over her. If the problem is she won’t hear you, then she won’t hear you. Make sense? Good luck.

  3. The Atheist says:

    Good comments, buttermilk80. If you had a son or daughter who you discovered was atheist, how would you feel about it? Would you talk to fellow believers about it and ask for advice? How would you talk to your son or daughter about your beliefs and to what extent would you seek to understand his or her beliefs? I guess what I’m asking is what sorts of conversations would you expect to have with an atheist son or daughter about God?

  4. buttermilk80 says:

    I would have to resort to acceptance if I desired to keep my son. And, as a matter of fact, I do have a son who never talks to me. We are preparing to receive him back as the son of my bones. I do not consult the “church” in this matter. I listen to my Father in Heaven who tells me to be patient. And when (for he will return one day) he returns I have been told to speak of things like the croak of a frog, or a leaf when it falls, or even why do hairs fall out.

    He clearly tells me that a “return” does not mean we agree. But if I want my son back (and I do indeed) I am to accept him with the same love Jesus embraces me with.

    Now the great question remains: can I find the ability to obey.

    Father, as You speak we strive against our stubborness to obey. May You grant us wisdom, for You promised to give that without judgment.

    By His Grace.

  5. The Atheist says:

    After having lost contact with your son, do you have any way to contact him by letter or email for example, to let him know you would like to get back in contact with him and that you are willing to do so on his terms? If you and your son start by simply communicating again – maybe at first through letters or email, then by phone, then in person, and if each of you shows that he or she can hold up his or her end of the bargain: to agree to disagree, and not allow the disagreement to define your relationship, then you can develop a trust. Maybe you are closer to reconciling than you think!

  6. buttermilk80 says:

    I appreciate your advice. But two things appear from your advice which might be more helpful than either of us can speak. 1. When we get advise from others in regard to our relationships, whether good of bad (depending on the point of view each of us has), that advise will be passed through the lense of our personal reality. For instance, it was mentioned in a former post on this subject, that the advise of the church was being used. And the response was not welcomed as good intentioned. Now you give me advise, though it is not based on a faulty logic, it is still advise from another which is intended to be used in a personal relationship. Isn’t that what “mom’s” friends are trying to do also?

    2. The advise you give is only an echo of what I posted above. I spoke of what I hear from God regarding my son and I. Consider that I did not fall on that choice of response on my own. But He led me, and is still leading me in this very conversation with you.

    You and I won’t agree about where our mind finds it’s strength. But look at the outcome of the faith I profess. I do not uphold “religion” (for religion is man’s attempts to please his own version of God). I testify regarding a living faith in the living God. Are you able to receive my testimony as valid? Or do you throw away my personal experience because you don’t hold the same point of view?

    This is good conversation for us both. May God judge between you and I while He directs us both in His way.

    By His Grace.

  7. The Atheist says:

    If “mom” is getting advise from fellow believers, then I would assume that the advice is good intentioned. However if the advise is to bring God into every conversation, then I think the advice is bad advise; it will only serve to widen the gulf between mother and son/daughter.

    I would certainly consider your testimony. You’ve testified here that you’ve heard specific things from God. How can you tell that what you heard is God’s “voice”, and not simply your own thoughts?

  8. buttermilk80 says:

    It’s hard for any believer to tell the difference. For one thing, we are developing a different frame of thought patterns due to His influance. So as we develop we begin to think from His perspective. On the other hand, there are singular concepts that are obviously not from our perspective. It’s as though someone were to sneek up behind us and whisper what is true.

    However we try to describe it, I don’t believe man has the words to be accurate about His leading voice. What we believe is only proven true in the “fruit” which grows.

    By His Grace.

  9. The Atheist says:

    That sounds more reasonable that what you seemed to say earlier – earlier you sounded certain that God gave you specific commands, and that you “did not fall on that choice of response on [your] own.” However, now you seem to be saying something different. You seem to be saying that it’s hard for anyone to know if they are really hearing from God or just “hearing” their own thoughts. If that’s the case, then how do you know God is telling you to “be patient” and talk about “croak of a frog, or a leaf when it falls, or even why do hairs fall out?” How do you know for example that God isn’t speaking through me instead, in the advice I gave here, and what you thought you heard earlier wasn’t actually from God at all?

    If what have just said is true, that the only real way to know if what you are hearing is from God is by how things turn out in the end (by the “fruit”), then you can never know at the time you are “hearing from God” if you are really hearing from God. Would you agree?

  10. buttermilk80 says:

    I would happily agree that there is a serious struggle within me regarding who’s voice I’m hearing. The only test I have against this confusion is the Bible. Is what I’m hearing standing for or against the things written there. It is possible that harm will result from what is heard. Yet who am I to second guess? I trust Him. And He is able to confirm what I hear. I will also tell you that there was a moment when He told me to be careful what I thought I was hearing. Reminding me to go back to the Bible to confirm what I heard. This is a very difficult subject for anyone. It’s not hard to pick at it. But it’s REALLY hard to explain.

    I need to speak a few things from the central book of Christian belief; the Bible. You’re pressing against my words. And they will certainly fail at some point. I ask for your mercy while I try to explain. And I ask for your mercy while I call in my God, Jesus to give His Glory to my words. For this is what I proclaim: That we do not defend our faith, nor do we bother to defend God (at least we shouldn’t).

    (Father, You are the Living God. Your wisdom is promised to all who ask. How much more should we expect Your help when we speak of Your Holy ways. By Your Grace, please direct my words, thoughts, and attitude as I struggle to explain what You make plain through Your Holy Spirit. I ask this in the name of Jesus, for this is what You have promised.)

    You ask me about what I can’t prove. But remember the reference I made to the Living God. What we speak of is not something that can be quantified by man alone. It is in the humbling of ourselves that we find His Glory present in our mind. And, yes, He will speak through non-believers. For, look at how I am responding to your replies. There is no anger or frustration within me over this subject. He is able to speak wherever He wills.

    Again, it is good to carry this conversation with you. We both seek what is true. I testify regarding the source of truth. You have made it your joy to test such statements. I applaud you for the work you’ve done to prepare for such conversations. But try to consider that what I tell you has a solid hold on reality. He is from eternity. He enables man in his temporal state to speak to each other. Beyond our understanding, this is the way He has ordained the message to endure.

    Answers to your questions will be a bit long. Not because they need to be that way, but because I rarely get an oportunity to speak with an advarsary of my faith on even ground. So the length of my answers is my own failing to comprehend the great mysteries you and I are dealing with.

    By His Grace.

  11. The Atheist says:

    No worries about the long responses! I appreciate your answers and your effort to answer as completely as you can. I hope you don’t view my questions as attacks. Rather than keeping my skepticism to myself and then dismissing the views of others out of hand, or rather than accepting any old view on blind faith, I ask questions so that I can decide based on a more complete understanding of the claim. If someone suggests that I should believe something, it seems fair to ask for a reason.

    In the spirit of continuing to honestly consider your testimony, allow me press you a bit further about questions that come to mind as I read what you’ve said so far. You and I agree that no one can know if he or she is hearing from God, except you would add that if what one “hears” is in agreement with what is written in the Bible, then the voice is more likely from God. In other words, you depend on your knowledge that the Bible is authoritative when you use it to recognize what you “hear” as “God’s voice” vs. say your own thoughts.

    How do you know that the Bible says is authoritative? Or in other words, how do you know that the Bible is God’s Word? There has to be a reason other than God telling you that the Bible is His Word, since you rely on the Bible do know if what you “hear” is from God.

  12. buttermilk80 says:

    There are thousands of examples in life where we must take a leap of faith at some point. We can study all we want. But there is a place where study won’t accomplish anything more. And in that vein, shall we consider how many text books are written on any one subject? How does a teacher chose which one they should use? So, in the Bible’s claim to be from God, there comes a place where we are forced to either throw it away because it’s flawed in our assessment, or we need to believe and jump off the cliff (in a manner of speach).

    I chose to leap. You chose to label it flawed. At that moment, we parted company and embarked on a very different life choice. What will be the end of our lives? I can say, and I think you’ll agree, we can’t possibly both be right. With what I believe comes a great peace of promises from a Living God whom I trust. So I have something you don’t. I’m not gloating, just pointing to a truth. You have the peace of a non-contencious life. You neither believe in hell or heaven (so I assume). I have a very violent experience, for I fight against sin and struggle to gain a righteous perspective (which will come to fruition after my death here).

    By His Grace.

  13. The Atheist says:

    Should I also take a leap of faith and accept the Book of Mormon as divine? Should I take the leap of faith and accept the Vedas as divine? In the absence of any evidence that any of these texts are divine in nature, why should I take the leap of faith only for the Bible and not other sacred texts? The Bible seems to be inconsistent in places (I would expect a divine book to be perfectly consistent), it it is unclear in places (I would expect a divine book that was meant for humans to be clear to humans). Given evidence that the Bible isn’t divine, wouldn’t it make sense to want a reason to believe that the Bible is divine before accepting it on a blind leap of faith?

  14. buttermilk80 says:

    I’ll gladly entertain the places where you think the Bible is inconsistant. I don’t find them personally.

    Speaking of personally, you and I havn’t broached the subject of my personal experiences with the leading of Jesus in certain circumstances. If my assessment of the validity of God’s activity among His people were only based on the words in a book, your reply would hold a great deal of water. But there is a life directed by a pointed involvment from the divine (that which is not of this world).

    I could give you examples from my own perspective. But they would remain my perspective. I can tell you that there comes a point where my leap of faith becomes a trusted “knowing”. It’s at that very point where your understanding will fade no matter how hard you try to understand and accept my testimony. In fact, this is the place where our conversations must lay dormant for a time.

    Please forgive me for saying the following. But it remains the only answer to the proof you’re seeking. By the power of the One who God has commended, Jesus, I tell you that if you call on Him, He will answer you. Speak to Him like you’re speaking to me. Be real and accept what He says.

    I know….. I know….. I fell back on what you might well have expected. But what else is there to say? We’ve determined that there is really no evidence for the faith I have in He who we can’t see. Yet it’s this very mystery that is the key to understnding. He is right there with you right now. In a manner of speaking, He’s looking over your shoulder as you consider our conversation. He knows your past and has good plans for your future in His will.

    If you want proof there it is. I’m by no means closing the door. But since He is not of this world, we shouldn’t expect that proof will be in the form of things of this world. I’m being as truthful and earnest on your behalf as I can be. I understand where you’re coming from. But He knows where you’ve been. No one will know what you say or experience. And I’m right here to help if He, or you, allows.

    I’m not trying to convert you to my way of seeing the world. I’m saying that the proof you require is in His hand.

    By His Grace.

  15. The Atheist says:

    I’m willing to call on Jesus. If Jesus is real I want to know it!

    In fact, I’ve done that, just now before continuing my response. I have to admit I felt pretty silly talking to “someone” who I don’t believe exists. So far, nothing has happened. I’ll let you know if anything does. In any case, it’s not my intention to use your admission (that you have no evidence you can offer me, other than to say “try it!” …which I just did) to persuade you away from your own faith. However, I do hope that this brings us to a point in our discussion which might help you to understand your son’s perspective, at least a little better, enough to perhaps recognize some of the things that might alienate him from you.

    Here’s a thought: point your son to this conversation and ask him to “try it”. Cite my willingness to “try it” as an example that he, an atheist or at least a skeptic, should remain open minded. Once he has “tried it”, then maybe you and he can agree at that point that there is nothing more to say about it (unless Jesus speaks to your son, of course!).

    To answer your question, there are many examples of inconsistencies in the Bible. Here are a couple that we can look at first:

    2Ki 8:26 says that “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.” But 2Ch 22:2 says that “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.” How old was Ahaziah when he began to rain?

    2Sa 6:23 says: “Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.” But 2Sa 21:8 says: “But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:” Did Michal, the daughter of Saul have sons?

  16. buttermilk80 says:

    You have my sincere thanks for this conversation. I know we both walk away with a ponderous amount of information. I have set you in His hands. And I have assurance from Him that He will be faithful to His name. I will mention that God is not a fast food agency. He is from eternity and will treat all men from that perspective.

    As for my son: your mention of him brought a tear to my eyes (ok… maybe more than one). Thank you for your generous offer. I mean that sincerely. God will bring him home in God’s own time. I know this for a fact (in my faith ear).

    As for the inconsistancies, we bear in mind that the purpose of the Bible is not to create a historical and linner record. In these instances we might find a glitch or two. But keep your focus on how the Bible reveals the nature of God and the nature of man. One theme will present itself through out; Jesus. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water.

    Sir, I am heartened greatly by our conversation. Not that you might find the One who made you so much. But because the Lord confirms your heart is in His hand. I am learning to love Him. It’s a life long endevor. When I see His lovely face, then I will love Him completely. We are all locked in some measure of doubt while we walk in this place of testing. But we are assured that our faith will receive a certain “reward”. What we are, that God should consider us in this way is a great mystery. But we rest assured that He who promised cannot lie.

    You have my willing “ok” to use any part of this conversation in any way you please. In our short time I believe you are a trustworthy one.

    Father, I thank you for Your magnificant grace. We give You all praise for every good thing. May the peace You had before the first sin return to You in Great Praise. By the sacrifice of Your Son we hold You dear.

    By His Grace.

  17. thalio says:

    “S,” we have the right to set limits in our relationships with others.

    If I had a political philosophy that was the antithesis of yours, say, and I thought that what you believed was in serious error, even dangerous, I might ask for the sake of our civil relations that you leave those beliefs out of our conversations. Why you might feel that you needed to reference those ideas in everything would be entirely beside the point. It’s not about what the other party wants or needs here, it’s about the kind of parameters we have every right to set in our relationships.

    So getting back to the actual case: If you were to make the request of your mother that she not bring religion into every conversation, and she could not or would not respect that request, you would be faced with a choice. Do you weather the irritation of her constant religious speech, with perhaps its implied agenda? Or do you make yourself unavailable for such conversation?

    After making your request, you could try politely signing off if and when she made religious references and see where that leads. If she could not or would not respect your wishes at that point, you again would have the option to simply accept the annoyance, or to avoid conversation altogether. The latter would seem an extreme length to go to, and I personally would weigh the pro and cons very carefully before doing anything so drastic.

    • SnowballnHell says:

      I politley change the subject when she brings up her god. I have been trying to respect her known boundaries and not be seen as an angry atheist. i may need to give even more background on my mother than i did in my above comment to the Atheist because assuming that i am dealing with a rational adult is the first mistake you could make. but you don’t get to pick your parents and i am faced with the unenviable task of deciding whether or not to have a relationship with my mother. i feel that i have finally reached my breaking point.but as you said, to cut off contact is a very extreme step and should not be taken lightly.

  18. buttermilk80 says:

    I appreciate that two options might be apparent in this case of mother and son. But it’s been my experience that there are at least 3 options for every relational situation. And quite often, there are at least 3 options to every quandry.

    An option not mentioned (though it might not be a palletable option at all) is that there might be some value in what the mother is saying. Perhaps to accentuate the positive between you both. Let her know that there are small elements that you can agree with. Perhaps that would open a door that has remained closed.

    Just thought I’d add two more cents to the table.

    By His Grace.

  19. The Atheist says:

    From S’s perspective on the interactions, it sounds like the mother is unable or unwilling to even acknowledge S’s beliefs and positions, even though it seems apparent that S acknowledges his mother’s positions and beliefs. Even if the mother is unable to acknowledge it, we at least should acknowledge that what she insists on repeating doesn’t have value from S’s perspective. Not only does it not have value to S, but it’s a constant assault on S’s sensibilities. S doesn’t have to tolerate constant assault and he/she doesn’t bear the full responsibility for making the relationship work (though it sounds to me like he/she is doing more than his/her share).

    I think looking for things that you can agree on is a good idea. For this to work, the mother has to also be willing to find common ground. And for the mother to work toward finding common ground, she to be able to differentiate between where they agree and where they disagree. She has to accept for example that she and S disagree about the existence of a God. The mother’s refusal to even acknowledge S’s disagreements is S’s primary complaint.

  20. David says:

    The moral law says you should respect your mother, either believe in God or not, you can not denny the pain she bor for 9 months pregnant and the sleepness nights when you are a baby, all this will atttach her to you all her life.

    there must be a reason for you to believe there is no God, but look at the sky, the sea, different animal, even look at the forest and give explanation to their existence

  21. The Atheist says:

    What “moral law”? Are you by any chance referring to the “moral law” that says:

    For I [Jesus] am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    and:

    But [Jesus] answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

    and:

    And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

    In any case, I don’t know SnowballInHell or his/her mother beyond this blog post, but from the discussion here, it is apparent at least to me that SIH has an enormous amount of love and respect for his/her mother, which is the reason for the angst about what to do. So an admonition to “respect your mother” citing a religious “moral law” seems a bit misplaced at best and a bit insensitive at worst.

    Regarding reasons to believe that there are no gods (which is a different matter all together, isn’t it?), we are fortunate enough to live at a time when we know that the sky isn’t a firmament between the waters of heaven “up there” and the waters of the sea “down here”, and that animals and plants evolve via a process of evolution. The sun and stars may have prompted the ancients to imagine gods riding chariots across the sky, but it isn’t much of a basis for us to believe today, is it?

  22. buttermilk80 says:

    I don’t have time to read all the posts here. But I wanted to take a moment to respond to the mother hearing the voice of God and how she treats God as if He were in the room with her. This is what I’ve been trying to tell people. God is not only real, but is present with His people. That would say a lot of how persistent Christians are that what and who they believe is true. To battle against this is to beat your head against a wall. To us Jesus is more real than what we see in this world. Even more real than the people we talk to every day. This is true because He is eternal and we are only a flash in eternity.

    By His Grace.

  23. The Atheist says:

    It strikes me as somewhat inconsistent that on the one hand, you say very candidly: “I would happily agree that there is a serious struggle within me regarding who’s voice I’m hearing. The only test I have against this confusion is the Bible.” (emphasis – mine) That says to me that the voice of Jesus isn’t as real to you as the things that you and I both experience. But now you say that “Jesus is more real than what we see in this world.” How can both of your statements be true at the same time?

    Generally speaking, how would you distinguish something that is imaginary from something that is real? For example, if I were to tell you that I heard a voice in my head, how would you help me decide if the voice was real or if the voice was a figment of my imagination? How would you go about helping me decide if I was suffering from hallucinations and should seek treatment, or if I was perfectly sane and what I was hearing was real?

  24. Anonymous says:

    I understand the struggle to accept that we hear the voice of God. As I said in post above, we lay what we hear against what we know the Bible says.

    Let’s say you’re hired to do what a man tells you to do. Consider that he’s a prankster and you’re aware of it because you’ve seen him do certain things, and you’ve heard from others what he’s done in the past. This would be a pretty good view of the human mind. For it often plays tricks on us. How will you tell what is true from this man?

    I propose that you can lay what is true from him by looking at your job description. There will be instances where you might be fooled. But there is a risk of that, isn’t there. For the most part however, you can be fairly confident in what he tells you if you keep your focus on what you’ve been instructed to do. And let’s not forget that we do encounter each interaction with that man with a history of our own.

    We are not saying that we hear and know every truth ever spoken by the Lord of Life. What we’re saying is two fold:

    1. We trust Him to prove what we hear, and to clarify by our history, the Bible, friends, circumstances, and simple logic. Though His ways are not like our ways, He made us and is able to communicate with us in the constructs of belief through faith.

    2. Let us not forget the concept of Grace, which is promised by Him to anyone who will actively trust Him. We are allowed to make mistakes and misunderstand His will. He makes it clear that we are children learning.

    I do hope I’ve helped here. I know how hard it is to grasp this concept by those who are not even sure He is real. Let alone involved with His people in a moment by moment conversation.

    By His Grace.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I have to compliment all who are taking part in this thread. It’s a difficult task to speak of these things and not let emotion or predisposition cloud the conversation. I’m not sure if any of you recognize what we’re building here. But seeing what you’re posting, I’d conclude you to be just a little above the norm in this vein.

    Thank you for allowing Him to be heard through me. And I thank Him for helping me to hear with a man’s ear.

    By His Grace.

  26. The Atheist says:

    You seem to be introducing another element to the discussion – trusting God – which is a bit tangential to the current discussion. Here’s why: if we agree that a God who is loving, all omniscient and omnipotent exists, we’ll also agree that we should trust him. However, the issue is not whether we should trust a God that we know exists, the issue is that there seems to be no reason to believe that such a God, or any gods for that matter, exit.

    Then to press a bit further then in this vein, you repeat here that you depend on the Bible to tell you if “the voices” (and other experiences) are from God. But you’ve indicated that you believe that the Bible is authoritative because you believe in God and God tells you that the Bible is His Word. And you believe God is real because of “the voices” (and other experiences).

    To summarize a bit more succinctly what I’ve understood you to say so far: you believe in God because you accept the Bible as authoritative, but you accept that the Bible is authoritative because you believe in God. But you believe in God because you accept the Bible as authoritative.

    I’m not sure if your analogy helps me understand if voices in my head are hallucinations or if they are real. How can I tell? You may have answered that question in your last post but I wasn’t able to find the answer.

    All analogies fall short at some point, that’s expected and that’s not at issue. At issue, however, is that this analogy falls short in explaining the main points that it was intended to explain. There is a Job Description, analogous to the Bible, which is presumed in the analogy to be authoritative. And there is an Employer, analogous to the voices we hear, some of which are from God who is presumed to exist. However, the main issues are whether the Bible is authoritative and whether God exists.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying this blog and enjoying our discussion! I am too and I hope you’ll continue to contribute your thoughts! If you look at some of the other posts, you’ll notice that with very few exceptions, conversations are respectful, civil, and even downright friendly. The reason that there are exception at all is because I try and moderate as little as possible. And unfortunately, not everyone is civil.

    • SnowballnHell says:

      I really enoyed the piece about temporal lobe seizures, my mother suffers from epilepsy and i found the information fascinating, she does not suffer from temporal lobe seizures, however her faith is strengthed as she asks god to heal her. one of my main problems is that she does not trust neurological advice, and feels that taking her perscribed medication is a lack of faith. she takes it for a while and then stops, which results in seizures. logically i cannot approve of this, but arguing from logic is futile with her when all she wants me to do for her is pray. i don’t think i can watch her suffer like this for much longer, she is not ineresed in why i am an atheist, she wants nothing to do with my logic or reasoning on the matter. i want a real relationship with my mother, but i am beginning to think that there is no way for this to happen.
      By the way i do not try to force my beliefs, or lack there of on her, i just hope that critical thinking will lead her to more skepticism at least in regard to her health and our relationship because i am just about ready to call it quits.

      • The Atheist says:

        It’s amazing how sure these folks are who suffer from TLE (temporal-lobe epilepsy) that they have had a genuine religious experience, even when they know that they suffer with TLE. The experience is just that real to them. I found an article that might be of interest, even if your mother wasn’t diagnosed with TLE: http://neurology.org/content/61/12/E13.full?sid=17cfbd01-7128-45a4-a215-245e9eee464d

        According to this article:

        …a group of epilepsy specialists report how they tested their ability to diagnose temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) by listening to descriptions of the spells of 88 patients… These neurologists identified 96% of the patients with TLE by talking with their patients. Then they confirmed the diagnosis using other, more costly, tests.

        and

        TLE is one of the most common forms of partial epilepsy.

        Regarding the point you’ve arrived at in your relationship, I don’t think anyone could blame you if you decided you just can’t do it any more. I certainly wouldn’t. It sounds like your mother really needs help, but if she simply won’t accept it from you or anyone else, there’s not much left to do.

        One other thought – maybe you know a clergy or a friend of your mother’s that would be willing to talk with her – someone who shares her faith and can justify in religious terms their advice to stay on the meds? Maybe she would do it if someone “heard from the Lord” that it’s God’s Will that she should do it.

  27. buttermilk80 says:

    I have given the testimony I am able to give. The last thing I want to happen here is that I become a “lab rat” for Christianity. What I’ve been given to do is to proclaim warnings from God to those who refuse His generous invitation to eternity. As for explaining the Bible in it’s full context, there are those who have been given that specific gift.

    I bow out from more explanation from a personal perspective. My words are only my words. Though they reflect the truth, there is the Bible; the word of truth. Unless someone wishes to converse with me regarding specific issues I might be able to shed light on, I refer all who read this to “Through the Bible” http://www.thruthebible.ca/ .

    I do care greatly about every soul. But I’ve been around enough to know, or at least get a hint, of my personal limits.

    The speaker, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, is a difficult voice to begin to listen to. But his message and explanations are absolutely clear and appropriate.

    May the Lord Jesus grant every one of you eternal life through the forgiveness of your sins. And may He lead you into the Holiness the Father demands of all His children.

    By His Grace.

  28. I’m definitely joining this conversation late, and I admit that I haven’t read all of the comments (because there are a lot of them), but the conversation is really interesting and heart-wrenching to me.

    I like that you (The Atheist) are so willing to see your mother’s side of this… and therefore, I think it’s fair for you to talk to your mom about your side. If we’re really thinking about what Jesus did, He loved us when we didn’t love Him – unconditionally. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If your mother truly believes that, her love for you is unconditional. She doesn’t stop loving you if you do or are something she disagrees with.

    So I would say that it’s fair to have a conversation with her starting by saying that you know how important God is to her and that you recognize that bringing Him up in conversation is natural for her, yet it’s important to you that you have a relationship with her that’s deep and authentic. Such a relationship can’t exist if it’s dependent upon you going back to the church. You may also say that you don’t want to fake a relationship with Christ. You want to be honest about where you’re at, and it isn’t the same place she’s at, and it’s hard for you that the conversation is always God-centered. That doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about God sometimes, but variety in your conversations might take some stress and pressure off of you.

    I’m a Christian and would love to see you know Jesus. I think the conversation here shows that God is doing things around you and in you. My dad is an Atheist, and I remember the first time I think I understood him. We’d talked about God for just a few minutes, and he vulnerably said to me, “I don’t know how to make myself believe. I want to believe, but I just don’t.” My dad and I have managed to maintain a decent relationship, and I pray that that gives you hope. Maintaining dialogue with your mom is important for way too many reasons not to try with her. She’s your mom, which is a precious relationship, she clearly loves you (that’s why she’s so eager to share the deepest beliefs of her heart with you), and I think your conversation here shows that you hold a fierce love for her too. I pray that it all works out for you and that God would pursue you with His love and show you the relationship He offers… the relationship your mom is also praying you’ll find.

  29. The Atheist says:

    Hi, Kathryn. It’s not my relationship with my mother we’re talking about, it’s S’s (SnowballInHell’s) relation with his/her mother. I like your idea of saying that “you don’t want to fake a relationship with Christ.” But S said that there is no possibility of any rational conversation with his/her mother regarding God or belief.

  30. PhoenixGray says:

    In response to the earlier statements about biblical authority, I would like to point out that any response by a Christian should not be taken as the position of all Christians on that topic, including this one.

    However I would like to make a few points to help clarify:

    1. The seeming inconsistencies in the Bible has an answer that may not satisfy you, but here goes. The Bible is held to be perfect in the original. Any copy or translation has a margin of error. However, when you take copies and translations over the centuries and compare them to the oldest texts we can find, there are no errors of theologic significance that I am aware of.

    The more striking fact is that the portrait of God painted by the 60-some authors of the Bible is shockingly consistent. These people had no reason to work together, particularly over a period of 1500 years or so.

    2. As for why should you believe the Bible over other “divine” texts? Well, this boils down to a question of revelation. Revelation, in case there is confusion over how I am using this word, means that God directly passed off information to human beings for the purpose of keeping a record of his words.

    Only three major religions that I am aware of even make the claim to divine revelation. These are of course, Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam. Of course, they are all referring to the same God and starting from the same text when they make this claim. This actually applies to any number of offshoot religions such as Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormonism.

    To believe a Hindu text or the Egyptian Book of the Dead or anything like that is inerrant would be completely without basis because the books themselves are not held to be inerrant.

    As for any choice other than Judiasm or Christianity, I would have to ask, where is the evidence that this was written by someone who is being spoken to by God? In the Old and New Testaments, many specific prophecies are given that were later fulfilled, lending credence to their claims, as no man can know the future.

    If you choose to be an orthodox Jew based on this, I would say, that’s a good first step, now let’s analyze the reasons to accept that Jesus was not a liar or insane.

    3. The last test for biblical authority is personal experience, which I choose to define in different terms than Buttermilk. I agree with just about everything he said with regard to testing what you are thinking to see if it is from God or not, but generally I don’t rely on anything that pops into my head as authoritative or as evidence of a God. On the other hand, the New Testament paints a pretty thorough picture of the way humanity is, the attitudes that humans take towards each other, the world and God, and what kind of results you can expect from living the Christian life. I have tried it with a pseudo-scientific bent in the basic form of, let’s see the Christian life in action and see how well it corresponds to the hypothesis, ie: the New Testament particularly, and the Bible as a whole tangentially. So far, the evidence is weighty enough for me to accept that whoever made the Bible (By its own testimony that was God) is an authoritative source.

    ***

    As to the original topic, I’d like to say a few things. First off snowball, as was stated before, keep in mind that your mother does sincerely believe that you will go to hell as an atheist, and the most loving thing she could possibly do for you is try to keep that from happening by any means necessary.

    Secondly, as to audible voices from God and the Pentecostal speaking in tongues and such things, I don’t deny that they are possible, but I would have to see some pretty weighty evidence that these things are from God before I believe that it is not some form of self-deception or mental illness.

    Also, I don’t believe that her form of interacting with you by denying that you have stated that you don’t believe in God is a good way to handle this. If my son or daughter (if i had one) decided that they were not going to believe in God and Christ, I would do my best to make sure that they had sound reasons to hold that belief. As long as I wasn’t alienating them, I would question them as heavily as I could. The only limit I would place on that is avoiding saying things in a cruel or unloving way and pushing so hard that I feel like they are going to react emotionally and not rationally and become even more implacably against the idea of a God.

    Sorry for the long response.

  31. The Atheist says:

    The Bible is held to be perfect in the original… there are no errors of theologic significance that I am aware of.

    We should talk at some point about what constitutes a significant error vs. an error that isn’t significant. But I think we can uncover the larger issues by agreeing, at least for the moment, that errors we know of in newer copies of biblical manuscripts are not theologically significant – at least they are not as significant as theological differences that are probably in the original manuscripts. For example, Genesis depicts an Anthropomorphic God that lives with other gods and walks among men as another man. While he is far more powerful than humans, he isn’t omniscient (Gen 18:21), he isn’t understood to be omnipotent (Gen 18:12). There are competing descriptions of God from the various authors of the Bible. I’ve offered this particular example to illustrate the types of theologically significant differences I’m referring to.

    The more striking fact is that the portrait of God painted by the 60-some authors of the Bible is shockingly consistent.

    There is certainly consistency in the various traditions that span the time in which the books of the Bible were penned. Since newer traditions weren’t simply invented but rather grew from older traditions, I would be surprised if this were not the case. However there are also differences recorded in the various books that are significant, both culturally and theologically. This is what I would expect if the various texts were a record of beliefs about God from diverse cultures that changed over time. However this is not what I would expect of texts that recorded divine revelation.

    Revelation, in case there is confusion over how I am using this word, means that God directly passed off information to human beings for the purpose of keeping a record of his words.

    When you say the “God directly passed off information to humans,” do you mean that He dictated the words they wrote, or did he just give them the idea which they recorded in their own way? If the latter, do you consider each written word to be divine (apart from copyist error), or do you only think the ideas or concepts to be divine?

    What indication do we have that divine revelation has ever occurred? If you believe in divine revelation, how do you know to accept the Abrahamic version and to reject, say, the Hindu version? “Conservative Hindus accept the Vedas as the direct revelation of God and therefore inerrant.” (see http://www.sanskrit.org/www/Hindu%20Primer/hinduismandscience.html) What reason can you offer those who don’t believe that divine revelation occurred that it did (or does)? You’ve already mentioned fulfilled prophesy as a reason, maybe we can discuss a few that you might have in mind. Do unfulfilled prophecies likewise indicate an origin that is not divine?

    the New Testament paints a pretty thorough picture of the way humanity is.

    How do you differentiate human wisdom that has grown over thousands of years, and revelation? Do you feel that The Art of War or the Talmud is inspired, based on their keen understanding of humanity?

  32. buttermilk80 says:

    I posted this on my blog. Perhaps it’s time to make a decision.

    Observing a thread of posts by those who label themselves atheists, I am caused to wonder:

    You are asking questions of those who testify of God’s Grace. You are asking questions as to the origins of the Bible. You are seeking, or so it would seem, to understand what Christianity is. This has gone on now for some time. Much of the testimony you have received is solid and sure footed. But you continue to ask for more testimony.

    I perceive what you are doing as if you are holding court over the truth we claim. Testimony after testimony is brought before you and you ask another question. When is the verdict due? Or do you think that by this line of questioning you validate yourself? Render a decision. What are you waiting for? You will never gain the proof you’re seeking. In the end it will still be a matter of faith. And you are not new to this cross examination. Look what Paul wrote:

    “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Cor. 22-25)

    You will search out our testimony. But in the end of this foolishness you will be left with nothing. Consider your own testimony regarding Jesus. What do you say? Render your verdict. The central point of what we testify is that you will give account of yourself to this God you’re trying to prove. Don’t think that you will be admired by Him because you dissected His people’s faith.

    By His Grace.

  33. The Atheist says:

    This last post of yours seems quite different than what you told me earlier. Earlier you said regarding my discovering God: “…I have assurance from Him that He will be faithful to His name.” and “I will mention that God is not a fast food agency.” and “…the Lord confirms your heart is in His hand.” and “It’s a life long endeavor.” But in this last post, you seem to be ready for a “verdict” right now.

    Earlier you said: “I tell you that if you call on Him, He will answer you.” I did “call on Him” as I reported to you in my post. Is your advice still to ‘wait for an answer’ or has your advice changed to ‘wait no longer because there will be no answer’ and therefore I should “render a verdict” now? You admitted earlier that “We’ve determined that there is really no evidence for the faith I have in He who we can’t see.” In that context, you seem a bit eager for me to reject your claims since we both agree that at the moment, I have no evidence. Do you still believe that “if you call on Him, He will answer”?

    Generally speaking, you seem to be retracting a lot of what you said earlier: that “He knows your past and has good plans for your future in His will” and “I’m saying that the proof you require is in His hand.” What brought about the apparent 180 degree change?

  34. buttermilk80 says:

    I haven’t watched this entire thread grow. But I did check in once in a while to capture the jist of what was being said. In the mean time I’ve encountered a whole lot of others debating and debating. There are two issues regarding my post here. One is that there is a moment coming when He appears. The last thing I want for anyone is that they are caught debating the issue of serving Him. And the second thing is couched in what you said, “I did ‘call on Him'”.

    As I drove tonite I pondered that. Something nagged at my heart about it. Then it dawned on me. That comment was what provoked the urgency of my post today. Those who know Him are not those who “called” on Him. They are those who never stop calling on Him. They render the whole of their moments calling on Him.

    When I read it, I was tainted by the ways of others. I had seen enough debating, in light of the first reason. So I ask your forgiveness for, perhaps, being rash. On the other hand, we are told that there will be a moment when the Father tells His Son to “Go”. And we are told He will “Go” “. . . and will not delay”.

    Jesus is no respecter of men. He doesn’t say, “Well, I’ll just hang back a moment while Barry and Jeff make up their minds”. He will obey His Father and come to gather His children. With this urgency and the ceasless debating, I posted what I said.

    I ask forgiveness if it has offended or confused you. But I do not ask forgiveness for having spread a sense of urgency.

    By His Grace.

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