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April 04, 2013

Comments

Jason,

I will make one attempt, although I refrained from posting early feeling I would have the same response that it would not suffice. But I'll try nonetheless.

Have you heard of Guillain-Barre Syndrome? It is a neurological condition that weakens nervous control of portions of the body. In the early 1980's, my mother was affected by this disease. Our doctor was convinced of all the symptoms that my mother would have paralysis of her arms for two to three months. We were accepting the fact that our busy active mother would be indisposed for a longer time with the planned therapy. One week into the affliction, mom suddening lost the tingle in the arms and within a few days had good control back in her arms.

A few points can be made:

1) I'll grant the possibility of misdiagnosis. However, I remember the bafflement of our physician who was sure of the testing. It is difficult to always insist on a scientific or logical explanation to a situation. I have once offered an analogy of a story of a sighting of a person who vanishes from sight as it is approached. We may conclude that the phenomenon was an odd refraction of light, a mirage, a hologram from some prankster at MIT. Then we laughingly add the notion that it was a ghost. Several scientific explanations and one supernatural one. Only an insistence on strict scientific catagories would disallow the one, which could perhaps be the solution after all.

2. The issue of unanswered prayer was raised in this string of posts. I would advance this point one farther. If in my mother's case the prayers of friends and family would run the gamut of miraculous healing to strength to endure the ordeal, would the prayers of the "give mom strength" been an unanswered prayer, or an invitation to have their concept of answered prayer trumped with something better?

3. In all these 200+ posts, you have received here and there an "evidence" (the point of the article after all was on this concept). This of course was to your challenge: Do you have any direct personal evidence, i.e. something you have seen with your own eyes or that has happened directly to you that can not be explained by any other means than the Christian god... I am confident that one more story of how one fellow's mom was cured of what was an extremely disabling disease will not tip the balance and voila! enlightment!!!! I have often been told the thing about anecdotal evidence. But I see here what could be accumulative evidence. Something is compelling people of what they have seen.

4. In the end, whether mom was up and around in one week or whether she suffered months until therapy saved the day, it would not matter how it would fare. It was after all a matter set into God's hands. We would think none the less if natural means did the trick, but seem all the more grateful for quick, sudden healings.

Jason, through all these posts you have been tactful, and I think you have grown a little appreciative of what Carolyn and the rest were driving at. I wish you well, but hope you keep eyes open to the little graces God ushers into lives here and there.

Hi Jason,

I am reluctant to share a miracle that happened to me, because of the reaction it usually gets. But it is exactly what you are asking for.

When I was 5, I lost the toenail on the big toe of my right foot due to a large can of peaches being dropped on it. I remember being upset, but not in anguish or a lot of pain, I just remember it being a big deal to me.

I was raised a Roman Catholic and I prayed almost every night and I remember enjoying it. I prayed prayers that were taught to me in school and by my mom (act of contrition, our father, hail mary, etc) because that is what I thought God wanted to hear. But my favorite part was when these prayers were done. I would just talk to God after these "traditional" prayers, (like I'm talking to you now,) until I would fall asleep.

That night, I prayed that God would heal my big toe and I went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, my toe nail had grown back...over night. This was a supernatural event. At the time, I remember the excitement, the pure joy of having this Person I talked to every night grant me this wish.

When I tell that story, it is mostly mocked by atheists that complain that a God that would heal the toe of a 5 year old, but let (insert any form of human evil here) to continue is an evil god. Well what do you say to that? I was 5 and I was happy God had healed my toe. And it made an impression on me at that time that Something answers my prayers. I called him God, and that was about all I knew about Him at five.

So God healed my big toe when I was five. Because I asked him to. Since then, I have received other miraculous answers to prayer, but not of the same kind of obvious physical healing as you asked.

Warm regards,
John

DGFisher and John Willis,

Thank you for your replies. I would never mock either of you or your stories. I wasn't there. Those healings were real for you, and who am I to say different?

DGFisher, one of your statements stood out to me:

" In the end, whether mom was up and around in one week or whether she suffered months until therapy saved the day, it would not matter how it would fare. It was after all a matter set into God's hand"

I understand this line of thinking as I shared it for 35+ years. I'll be honest and say that I don't understand it now.

Not to be offensive, but that (current) opinion of yours (and former opinion of mine) seems like nothing more than confirmation bias. According to my understanding of the bible, if we pray for something, it should be done. There shouldn't be any question.

When we pray for someone, one of three things happen, and those happen to be the same things if we didn't pray at all or prayed to any god, i.e.

1. The person is "healed". No matter what medical intervention (doctors, surgery, drugs, therapy) was involved, we still praise god because he "healed them". Often, we don't thank the doctors at all. That part bothered me even as a believer.

or

2. The person isn't "healed" but gets "better". We praise god because "it could have been worse".

or

3. The person isn't "healed" and if they die, we still praise god and because "He needed another angel" or "His ways are above our ways" or "He knows best".

No matter happens, what "god answered the prayer". He can't lose because of the belief his goodness. Again, I get that because I used to believe this as well.

If so, what is point of praying? How is that not different than not praying or praying to one of the other thousands of gods man has deified throughout history.

I think Christians pray because it's good therapy...for them. It brings peace regardless of the outcome because they are believing in something bigger than themselves. I'm not knocking that. It's true. But the same can be gain through meditation or praying to anything/anyone we really believe in, can it not?

Shouldn't we have some more conclusive proof? We demand it from things much more benign and non eternal. If you tell me that you have super powers, I am going to want an unambiguous demonstration. As mentioned before, if I'm buying a used car, I actually want to see it in person and drive it before I buy it.

Does that make sense?

If you are like me, you pray thousands of times or been a part of thousands of prayers in church services and such. In all those times, did any of you ever seen anything unambiguous, like a paraplegic walked again or a person blind from birth receive sight or a missing arm grow out? These things would be proof that prayer actually does something other than make us feel better.

Thanks,

Jason

John,

God is funny that way. He sees the littlest of things. Like me.

Hi, Jason,

Glad you're back and still willing to talk. (And coffee in Houston sounds nice! And your wife and I would have something in common--our birthdays are the same!)

You asked if I believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Yes, I do, Jason. I also believe it has to be read carefully, paying attention to the various methods of writing styles being utilized in different parts of it--poetic, narrative, commanding, etc.

You asked if I believe that signs and wonders (miracles) are for today or if they were just for biblical times. It seems to be my lot in life to come up against this distinction often in my conversations with people! I'm pretty sure, from things you posted, that you were of the charismatic persuasion of Christianity; I am not. My GENERAL answer to that question (which will likely get me in hot water with someone) is that I don't believe that the signs and wonders are in much use today in first-world countries. And I employ that caveat with good reason. It's not as if I think God sent us some message that they were not going to be used any longer. It's that I believe that they were originally used to point people who didn't know about Christ, to the extraordinary uniqueness of this man who claimed to be God. I believe they were gifts given to people to be able to guide them to their source--Jesus Christ. In our church age today, we typically have no fundamental need for such things since we have all we need in the Word of God. Now, before there is general uproar over this (and I know the "proof texts" which will likely come streaming in over this) I also want to say that God is God--He alone can do and use what He wants. In many other threads here, we've gone over the typical response to this--"Oh, you just say that to give God a way out", etc. But here's the thing...in other countries, where the dissemination of the Word has not been as readily available as it is here, I think God does use those things to attest to Himself.

I was in India at one point, just a month or so after a visiting pastor had used a large outdoor, grassy arena to give a message to the people in that area. It was, apparently, widely attended with people coming from quite some distance to hear this man speak. The interesting thing is that there are a gazillion different dialects and languages in India and they can be different from as close as a few miles away from one area to another. (In fact, many poor people there never travel more than 2 or 3 miles from their hometown in their entire lives.) Anyway, the speaker did a great job, I'm told, and the message was very well received. Folks were still talking about it a month later when I was there. The weird thing is that, of the many hundreds who came to listen, most knew only their own language. Yet all came away moved by what was said--and it was not being translated into a bunch of different languages and dialects. But I'll be the first one to say that, in our country, I think speaking in tongues has no real place; we share a common language. I have had LENGTHY discussions with other believers about speaking in tongues--from "personal prayer language", to "speaking in a tongue that is universally understood", to "the sudden ability to speak in a foreign language which you've never studied". I've heard about "angelic utterances", I've heard a prayer group speaking in tongues all at the same time, and I've observed Christians looking down on those who don't speak in tongues as "less than" real believers.

I feel even stronger about so-called "miracles" of the bells and whistles kind. Truth be told, I am always dumbfounded by those believers who are clamoring for the big, dramatic, show-stopping, jaw-dropping miracles! Inevitably, the response I get when I ask them why, is that they want "more of what God has for me". I usually ask them what they're doing with what He has already given them. I've watched firsthand a man ignore the needs and pleas of his wife, yet run to every promising "show and tell" of miracles about to be performed--as if it's a side-show not to be missed! I've watched them get completely spun up in a frenzy, waiting to be "slain in the spirit" (useless god-speak) or tipped over by the "minister" touching them. I'm going to hold back here and not get crazy with my response to that. Let's just say that, if I could run faster it would be a good thing.

Maybe my sense of Christianity is on the practical side and just exceedingly skeptical of the "experiential". I don't look for slam-dunk miracles that would be fodder for The Enguirer. The true miracles of life are so commonplace that we all take them for granted. YES, the baby born healthy when it should have been otherwise, the child in the news just yesterday who fell three stories from his window and landed on his feet--those are the wonder of the hand of God extended to people in this world, in my practical view. For His reasons, and for His alone.

We likely have interpreted a lot of Scripture quite differently. I know people who believe that God MUST heal them because they prayed for it. I know people who are very charismatic who believe that, because the Bible says man's days will be 120 years upon this earth, that there is NO chance that they will die before they're 120 years old! When I question about a family member who believed the same way and still DIED, the pat answer is always that they "just must not have had enough faith". Amazing.

I can only share with you how I pray. (And, BTW, one of these charismatics once asked me if I pray for my own physical healing. And I said that I generally do not. He was stunned and demanded to know why not. He went on for hours about how the words "By His stripes we are healed" means that we are already completely healed right here and now, body and spirit, and that it's just a lack of faith if we don't experience it--so we have to pray for it. That was about as much nonsense as I've ever heard an adult speak. I told him that I don't think every ache and pain is something to be gotten rid of; it's part of our human existence and a lot can be learned through pain and suffering. I draw closer to God in pain, for one thing. I pray for lots of things, but I never recall praying much for healing. I don't pray for "things" at all--not for money, or cars, or a bigger house or that God would give me much of anything tangible. I pray for the salvation of lots and lots and lots of people, I pray for patience and an attitude of kindness, and I pray for wisdom and for mercy. I pray for God to open my eyes to my sin, to keep me aware of suffering around me, to give me opportunity to meet needs. And I know He hears my prayers and knows my thoughts and I am always delighted when the answer is right there in front of me!

I'll end with this one thing: about three months ago I had a free day and I wanted to go out and do some errands. I stopped at my favorite place for lunch and had a lovely meal all by myself, energized for the things I had to do. But my meal was too big for me, so I ate half of it and took the other half in a box to eat later. Off I went to one of my favorite stores, and I parked and walked across the lot to the entrance. A young man of about 19 walked up to me--sort of thin and tired looking but nothing else of note. He asked me if I might have any work for him--any jobs he might be able to do for me to earn some money. I told him that I lived about an hour away, so it wouldn't really be practical to get him over to our home. He was very nice and thanked me and said that I was the first person who had spoken to him all day and that he had been there for hours. So I talked with him awhile and learned some things about him and his situation. The next words out of his mouth were, "You don't happen to have any food I could eat, do you? Maybe in your car?" UHHHHHHHHH. I sure do! Wait here. So I walked back, got the lunch and gave it to him. I also tucked some money into his hand and told him to take his mom out for dinner that night. He thanked me again, assuring me that he would, and went off to eat his lunch. I couldn't stop thinking about him and his situation as I shopped. So I left the store and went to the local ATM and took out a large sum of money, hoping to find him again and give it to him. I searched everywhere and he was gone. So I put it in my wallet, vowing I would have it there if the need ever arose again in a situation like that. About a month later I was at the same shopping center, exited my car, and was walking to the door. There was the same young man again and he approached me. He started to ask if I knew of any work he could do, and then he recognized me and smiled. He said, "Oh, I remember--you live too far away." And then I remembered that money in my wallet and I reached in and gave it to him. His face shone with the most beautiful light imaginable as he gently took it from me, asking God to bless me. I'll tell you what--those were two of the best "miracles", "answers to prayer", that I'd had in awhile, and I went off praising God and being in awe of the way He works!

Warm regards, Jason

PS (Mama mia, that's the longest post I've ever written!)

Mr. Blue;

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate the spirit in which you're approaching this. Unfortunately, time constraints prevent me from an extended discussion. I hope this will suffice and no offense is intended in my comments.

You said:

"This is not the type of evidence I am looking for."

I understand. However, based on my presuppositions, everything, everywhere is evidence for the existence of God in the same way for you everything, everywhere is evidence of no God. This is the antithesis that constantly exists between believer and unbeliever. The sun and trees only exist because of God. The birth and development of my children is only possible because of the existence of God. It (birth, development) happens regardless of whether you are a Hindu, Christian, Atheist...because of God.

Now, to your question: "Do you have any direct personal evidence, i.e. something you have seen with your own eyes or that has happened directly to you that CAN NOT BE EXPLAINED BY ANY OTHER MEANS than the Christian god, e.g. "Have you ever prayed for a paraplegic and they walked again from that point forward in their life?"

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: Yes, but the problem is the part that I put in all caps. No description, no reply will be adequate for you because of those "other means" you mentioned. I'd like to close with a quote:

"The denial of the very possibility of miracles is not a piece of evidence for rejecting the Christian worldview, but simply a specific manifestation of that very rejection."

Peace to you, Jason.

Beautifully said, S.S...

Hi Jason, I was addressing Carolyn, that you read it is of no concern to me. The scripture quoting was for Carolyn's benefit....a description of you.

I have read nearly all of the comments from the Keller post, and this one. [also the latter one "I'm not a Christian..." which I dont think you participated in].

I dont think you can reason well enough to judge whether you yourself or another is coherent in your worldview. In my estimation, scblhrm is a far more coherent thinker than you have demonstrated to be. I dont have any personal animosity to you, but I do take offense that you feel some duty to:

"I occasionally interact with Christians in the hope of opening up their eyes to reality to set them free from mythology."
. Again, the scripture quoting was not for you, but in this context[me directing a commment in response to you], you might want to go re-read them to see what I think of your own testimony:
"I was a sincere devoted Christian for more than 30 years."

Anyway, I dont have nearly enough time right now to keep up with threads that average 40+ posts a day, so it's likely that I wont engage in a substantial way, but I think scblhrm exposed your incoherent worldview regarding morality, and I think a poster [ktm?] exposed similarly but you dismissed with a hand waving counter assertion to keep from dealing with the lack of foundation=epistemological justification.

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.

I pulled an all nighter with work last night, so I'll be sleeping today. I hope to come back to this thread tomorrow (Thursday).

Brad, I apologize for my one statement about mythology offended you, and that my other hundreds of heartfelt comments did not make up for that one. Someone must have really hurt you. If it was an atheist, I'll apologize for them too. Perhaps you could forgive me enough to stop insulting me now.

Hi Jason,

I think Brad is alluding to one facet of your story and what I was trying to get at too with my first question to you...

"What were you trusting in Christ for?"

Your reply was that you were trusting Christ with everything in your life. (my paraphrase) Well as far as things go, I think that's a good plan, but I don't think the Bible teaches that that is the way the Boss initiates the relationship.

Let me explain what I mean....

If you were trusting in Christ to save you from God's judgement when you die - His wrath - (which is what Christ's sacrifice is for) then I don't know why you would fall away. In fact, I don't know, nor have I ever heard of a single Christian falling away, or walking away from their faith who came to Christ to avoid God's wrath when they die. It just doesn't happen.

Let me explain....

Do you now believe you aren't going to die someday? Probably not.

Do you now, as a professed atheist, not feel guilty anymore when you do wrong? I would say probably not to that one too. Even though you say you've never enjoyed your life more since your "deconversion" (your word), I think you would probably say you still do things that violate the ten commandments (God's law).

So the conditions that would bring a person to the foot of the Cross haven't changed in your life. If you're not a sinner, then you don't need a savior- right? But if you know you're a sinner, then that's when Christ's offer of a pardon really becomes attractive.

In contrast to a lot of the false teaching out there about salvation, there is a book called "Hell's Best Kept Secret" by Ray Comfort that really explains this part of Scripture well. The reader's digest version is this; There is really only one main thing Christ's sacrifice does for us - it saves us from God's wrath. The knowledge of that pardon, produces a lot of other awesome spiritual things in your life the Bible calls "fruit". When we come to Christ and put it on as part of our identity for "the fruit only", or to make you rich, or to heal my wife's grandma or my big toe, then we're accepting something Christ isn't offering. He promises none of those things. In fact He promises us trials and trouble and that He'll never leave us because of the trouble in our life, even when we're the ones who bring it on ourselves! To me, that is true forgiveness and I want that pardon more today then the day I first heard it was available.

Reasons why I would leave Christ:
1. We found the body.
That's it.

Hope this helps!

John

Jason,

I hope you don’t my interrupting here? My apologies if this is an intrusion in your discussion with Carolyn and Brad.


I do not think Brad meant to insult you. What he did (and what I did earlier) is challenge, openly, your logical coherence on a few points. He also addressed specifically the difference in the concepts of knowing someone vs fully believing in someone (though indirectly and while speaking to someone else on scripture's references to such nuances).


I share your pain in these sorts of exchanges because I often put in a lot of time and emotion into some of my posts, only to have someone else, well, let’s say "dump on them" and so forth. That really feels painful, and very personal and I think that is natural. It's not easy to keep all those things separated in our minds and hearts and it’s particularly hard to separate (on an emotional level) someone's challenge of coherence with someone's ad hominem character attack, but the two are worlds apart.

I tried to do the same with you when it came to natural selection's increasing frequency of the “ugly stuff” as such is “logically incoherent” with your definition of morality, and, I also tried (and failed) to do the same when it came to your insistence that your claim of fully believing in the God of Christianity equated to my inferences on actually meeting someone who is an actual person. Obviously you cannot have met someone if that same someone does not exist (God, Etc.). You can say “I looked but did not find”, but met? Impossible. You even went so far as to say you had what I had (have) and more. It is incoherent to claim you met someone who is a real person and then say that person doesn't exist. That is to say, that would be impossible. You cannot have met someone who does not exist. I think you clarified that when you conceded that it is impossible to know any god like we know a human being, with the same certainty. Of course, God (the God Who is Love) being the very foundation of Personhood makes such a claim (on purely a logical or academic level) not coherent because whatever Personhood is, it is (if God exists) our experience and more simply by definition. And juxtaposed to my experience it is not identical in and thus again not congruent. It is merely your “assertion”. Do you see how these are simply challenges of congruity and so forth and not character attacks? For example, I can’t be talked out of the existence of my wife. How could I be when I’ve already met her? Your descriptions of God’s painful paucity (and it is painful) (those unanswered prayers) to me sound like ( since I’ve met Him ) something to which I would say this: My wife’s absence in my immediate presence, or her refusal to answer me, or even her silence just cannot talk me out of knowing that her existence is simply unchanged despite those actions and lack of actions on her part. How can they talk me out of knowing she exists when I’ve already met her? “Fully believing in” (your experience) is not “Meeting Someone” (my experience) and on a simply academic level this is where phrases and scriptures with things like "never known" or "never knew" are a valid challenge (not a character attack or insult) and thus are (were) properly injected (by Brad) as a counter to your logic in that arena if you really intend to equate our two personal descriptions of our two personal experiences.


If scripture promises X and X does not show up, then a thesis on “X was promised and there is no X” would be valid. “You will pray for the sick and they will be healed”. I don’t see a promise of Every Time there. The sick are healed and the paucity of such events is, though painful, not a proof of scriptural inconsistency with reality. We can’t find in scripture the promise of “Every Time” and yet we can and do find promises of all sorts of hardships in this (not our final) reality. Now that is congruent with reality. Perhaps it is worth noting that no one has really bothered to “call you out” (a challenge, not a character attack) on not specifically addressing John Willis' medical miracle with his foot when he was five years old. Miracle or dismissal?


You have some well-spoken reasons for disagreeing with us and, by disagreeing with us, and, more specifically, by challenging us, we have not charged you with insulting us.


It is (for me) incredibly painful when God is too silent. It is incredibly painful when my wife is too silent. Love expects (and rightfully so) a response of some kind.


Sometimes, for me at least, it is not so much the presence of evil that is such a hardship, but rather the paucity of His felt Presence, His manifest Hand. Scripture promises us that Face trumps Hand. Well, that agrees with reality. If I had to choose between “knowing Him” ( meeting Him ) and seeing my own paralyzed arm healed, I can tell you I would choose the former. Fortunately we don’t have to choose as Love Himself has promised us both over time, out of time.


I'm not really bothered by some of your reactions (questioning my mental health, equating an honest disagreement on coherence to a personal insult, and so forth). Because they are my reactions. You can ask Brad of my own personal and moral failings in this area towards him in the past. He must be some sort of bottomless sponge or something? It’s taken me awhile to get to the point where I can be “called out” and not respond with the immediate heat of my fingers pounding on the keys. Love is hard work. Loving one who’s words feel, shall we say, “un-soft” is even harder. But Love is just so worth it!

@scblhrm...oh, my! That was beyond excellent.
@John Willis...ditto! Both comments just so spot on and beautifully written.

scblhrm,

I was/am not insulted in the least by someone challenging me. That would be immature for sure. I've admitted and freely admit now that I did get very, very frustrated with you as I felt like you never did understand what I was saying. However, I also realize that you could say the very same thing about me and have the same frustration, and you would probably be right. I think we got past that because we stuck with the conversation long enough to actually hear the other person and not just throw rocks.

Like you suggested, it is insulting to put a lot of time and effort into expressing oneself and then have a non involved third party like Brad drop by and immediately claim that I was disingenuous in my engagement, and then subsequently state that I don't have the reasoning power to know whether or not I'm coherent. I think the insults are intended and clear. If they weren't, then they are at the very least incredible insensitive to someone that is seeking the truth in honest dialog. That is all I will say on that matter.

I realize that there is no way I could convince any of you how genuine my relationship with god was and how personally I "knew" him. I know it's impossible to believe that I did since I walked away. I get that perspective as I once shared it, and there's little point in me trying to convince you all of that. I sadly concede that there's just no way to bridge that gap in perspective.

S.S.,

I don't deny the possibility of miracles at all. I did not come here to prove they didn't happen. I came here to ask if any of you witnessed them unlike me or any Christian I've ever known. I appreciate the time anyone took to share their stories.

John Willis,

You asked what I was trusting for. I may have given the wrong impression. I didn't spend my Christian walk looking for evidence and barely holding on to my faith. I was VERY sure of it right until the end. Right up until the last weeks, I was preaching and teaching and prophesying and counseling, etc. It was a sudden unexpected realization that what I considered to be evidence of god had been nothing more than confirmation bias all along (as I explained in detail in previous posts). This is of course my opinion and not one I am trying to force on anyone here.

To answer your question about sin and a savior, I still live by love and a moral code, but I no longer believe in "sin" as I once did. At the risk of offending someone, there's a quote that states "sin is an imaginary disease, invented to sell you an imaginary cure". I don't know who said that, but it is (perhaps too) a blunt and brutal summation of where I stand on that subject now.

Carolyn,

Thank you so very much again for your kindness, and yes I did come from a non denominational charismatic background.

All,

I have enjoyed our discussions here. I think we all see that it's extremely difficult to see from the other person's perspective, but I still feel that I am better off for having spent the time in conversation.

I think this will be my last post, as I am going out of town for a very busy few weeks.

'Bye, Jason, and thanks for the opportunity to talk with you. Have a good trip:-)and come back again any time.

I appreciate you Carolyn.

To Jason, I'll let John's and scblhrm's comments speak for themselves and make a couple statements that will be for everyone to understand where I'm coming from.

First, you responded to my taking offense toward your anti theist activity by saying:

"Brad, I apologize for my one statement about mythology offended you, and that my other hundreds of heartfelt comments did not make up for that one"

I was certainly not taking offense at that personally,[that is nearly impossible] rather my taking offense is due to your trampling in the vineyard of God. Even dogs growl when their master is threatened.

I dont consider your activity something to be taken lightly or dismissed without taking note, nor do I think you are innocent as you portray yourself to be. You might consider this harsh, but let me give you an analogy, something very proverbial[ala from Proverbs].

A person is suffering from a disease that will eventually kill them. The symptoms of the disease are visible to othrs they encounter, occasionally they encounter a doctor who gives a diagnosis. The person responds hey doctor, are you done insulting me[?], or hey doctor, your not being very nice/Christian.

Now, you can take this story for what it's worth, the proverb is "the wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy". You mighn't call me "friend", but what you get from me is direct honesty of what I think. I will be the first to admit that I am not perfect--I've proven this many many times. My judgement of you is based on nothing but blog interactions and certainly this is a limited sampling. I probably did err by lumping you in with the shaughnessey mcgillucuttys, the Alex Mcallister's, the "freeatlasts", the opr's, et al., but here's a little advice that I've found helpful if I'm the one under scrutiny from another.

Anytime someone interacts with you and gives you their truth[I'm not a relativist btw], you should consider it a gift and be thankful for it. Response 1, they have told you the actual truth, for which you ought to be grateful, or response 2 you are confident that they are in error, but at least you know what they really think, and this is, if nothing else of value, honesty toward you such that you dont have to wonder what they really think.

So, no reason to take personal offense when one is critiquing your actions, words, ideas, etc..

So, if I say I dont think you have the ability to reason well[consistently] logically, what is your response?

Brad,

I honestly appreciate that you acknowledge error in lumping me in with other atheists. That's all I was looking for.

You asked "So, if I say I dont think you have the ability to reason well[consistently] logically, what is your response? ".

My response would be that I didn't come in here to compare the size of my intellect to anyone else. I didn't come in here to prove I was more logical and coherent than any one else, or to "win" a debate.

As proven by the vast majority and the tone of my comments, I tried to have an honest and pleasant discussion about love and about personal evidence. I shared my story and listened to others. I did not mock anyone's story.

If I took the same tactics as you, there would not have been a discussion. If I came in here and told you that you were "suffering from the disease of Christianity" (as in your analogy of me above), I would have be run out quickly, and rightfully so. If I came in here and posted the harshest atheists quotes against you as you posted the harshest scriptures against me, I would be run out quickly, and rightfully so.

You seem to think it's OK for you to be defensive ("Even dogs growl when their master is threatened. ") when your faith is challenged generally, but it's unreasonable for me to do the same when I am challenged personally. Surely, you can put yourself in my shoes for a moment and see the incoherency in your own behavior?

Jason

Jason,

"I tried to have an honest and pleasant discussion about love"

Well……... when something which we desire to call “ugly” yet is, over time, more beneficial to the durability of the species and, over time, displaces love within the genome via natural selection's sees-not and cares-not cascade.....and as we watch, right before our eyes, some “ugly” itches increase in frequency….?


You have not been honest about what love "is" in your worldview; that is to say, on the terms dictated by natural selection. It is logically incoherent to insist that whatever increases in frequency defines good, and then cherry pick this and that as good but not the other stuff too. It is logically inconsistent to insist you have actually met a person who does not exist. It is logically consistent to inject the phrase “never met” or “never knew” into that assertion of yours (that you have met a person who does not exist).


I cannot count the times that you have ignored these questions about your logic (not personal attacks) and responded with a mere, “Well okay so you don’t’ have any evidence, but that’s why we call it faith, because you don’t have any evidence” and so forth which, Jason, is not an innocent sounding, “I just want to have a friendly conversation” sort of tone to set. Well, I mean overall.


And on your logic about healings we have also asked about your logical inference, and the incoherence of it, with this description of your use of [paucity] as a [proof] of non-existence:


“If scripture promises X and X does not show up, then a thesis on “X was promised and there is no X” would be valid. “You will pray for the sick and they will be healed”. I don’t see a promise of Every Time there. The sick are healed and the paucity of such events is, though painful, not a proof of scriptural inconsistency with reality. We can’t find in scripture the promise of “Every Time” and yet we can and do find promises of all sorts of hardships in this (not our final) reality. Now that is congruent with reality. Perhaps it is worth noting that no one has really bothered to “call you out” (a challenge, not a character attack) on not specifically addressing John Willis' medical miracle with his foot when he was five years old. Miracle or dismissal?”


I’m not completely sure you have been quite as honest about things as you infer, Jason. Love. Natural Selection. Actually meeting someone who does not exist. [Paucity] as a [Proof] when scripture’s balance of answered and unanswered prayers, Jesus’ disciple’s inability to cure the epileptic, God’s thrice-refusal to Paul to get rid of the thorn in his flesh, God’s Face vs. God’s Hand, promised hardships, and Etc. are all congruent with reality. And of course John Willis’ foot (lots of those stories floating around….not as much as you or myself would prefer of course). And so forth.


My last post to you earlier was in genuine sympathy with you Jason as I too have had to bite that painful pill of His seeming paucity in this world and wrestle with it. As I said, Love expects (and rightfully so) a response of some kind. But Love will manifest inside of and will be known inside of Person and not by some other vector, not by any other vector for Love is but that motion in and among and amid Person amidst the trinity of I and You and We. As with the undeserved love I receive from my wife, that beautiful gift from Heaven, the joy I have had with her just cannot be, ever, overrun or overcome should she be too quite, too distant, too silent, or even should she refuse me forever. Such will, having already tasted of her love, but make me burn all the more for her. Such is Love. Such is Love. Once I had tasted of her love it was over for my soul. –Tis her! OH That Love!


Oh, I see more clearly what you want Jason, I'll give you a line of bull to maintain a peaceful tone if that is what you came here for. Funny thing though, I thought it was you, maybe one of the other anti-theists claimed truth was their motto in life or some variation of that.

Of course I think scblhrm is right on again. I'm pretty sure you don't get it though, as my diagnosis of your reasoning ability is being shown accurate as the posts progress. My hope is that you'd challenge yourself and inspect to see if what is being said has merit. If you really want to take the blue pill[know truth] and see where the it leads, let us expose the incoherency of the worldview you are relying on and go down into the rabbit hole wherever it leads. Maybe start by answering scblhrm's questions.

Love must be satisfied,


A man named John sees Word made Flesh, Love manifest, Who spreads His arms wide, and pours Himself out for His Beloved, who is You and I and We. John is then in his twenties or thirties. Decades later John is perhaps in his seventies. And this writer of Love, whose letters speak of nothing but love, and of love's worlds, now when he is old, betrays his interior. He ends both II and III John by eluding to the path of all things, to Man's Final Felicity. He tells his readers that he just does not desire to put word to paper any more; no more Written Word. Instead he simply desires to see them ~ face to face ~ that.... that their joy may be..... complete. His age of Writing, the age of Written Word, begins to fade; to wane in the midst of the Greater, the Greatest, the very thing that all of that Writing was meant for. John grows inpatient with "paper and ink" in both II and III John. In both he now wishes only for, not that necessarily incomplete joy of messages, but, instead, for the face-to-face, which he calls our completed joy. The day will come when we will see Him face to face, and therein there will be no more Faith, nor Hope, but only Love, for we will see Him as He is and in seeing Him we will be made like Him and we will then know Him even as we are known by Him. The Written Page will pass away, and our Beloved will be with us. Face to Face. Joy Completed, Fulfilled, Actualized, Realized, Tasted. Known. I and my Beloved will be then Face To Face. We will be One. We are One. Pleural. Singular. Such is Love.

Brad,

You simply don't get it. You have too much anger in your heart to see. You reserve the right to be blunt and brutal in your comments because you are being honest, but you deride the other dissenters here precisely because they were being blunt and brutal in an attempt to be honest. Yet, you don't see the incoherence, and you mock me for trying to keep the conversation pleasant.

My reluctance to be blunt comes from love. I know that Christians take criticism of their beliefs very personally. I know that because I was a Christian. Christianity is very personal. I didn't want to personally offend anyone if at all possible. I care how people feel, so I took great care with (most of) my comments. My compassion keeps me from hurting people, even if I know it's not intentional, and even if I'm correct, I still hold back out of love, not deception or lack of intellect. Yet, you mock me for that.

If you want me to be blunt and brutal like you, I could try. I could rationally question John Willis' childhood toenail miracle instead of being accepting and thankful (as I was to him).

I could answer scblhrm's questions with black and white rationality instead of trying to speak to him in his language.

If I do that, I predict that you would immediately relegate me to the cadre of angry anti-theists.

Do you see my dilemma? Do you see your hypocrisy? Do you want me to be really blunt? If so, will you then dismiss me for the very same thing you are doing? I am asking honestly.

Jason

I know that no one is asking my for my opinion here, but I do want to say this: not EVERYONE who comes here or comments here argues or defends a position from a highly formatted and thought out apologetic framework. I'm sure that I don't and I'm also sure that, put to the test, a lot of reasons I have for holding things to be true could be shot full of holes. I believe I could defend them to MY satisfaction, but that might not meet the intellectual rigor of many of the thinkers here. Without benefit of extensive philosophy classes, debate forums, or theological foundation courses, I would only be able to defend my positions from what I have learned thus far in my walk. Time spent here on this blog has provided me with a lot of learning options which I'm most grateful for.

I mention this because I think we have a lot of people from a lot of different circumstances who come here and put in their two cents' worth. Some say they were Christians previously and are not any longer, some have always been atheistic and come here to mock and scorn, etc. But, in general, folks who say they WERE Christians and no longer believe that way, have been seriously disillusioned with their understanding of their faith. They were hurt, confused, depressed or angry over something that left them feeling there was no other option but to leave. I guess I just don't see how repeatedly standing by an evaluation of a guest here on the basis of high scholarly "diagnosis" (for lack of a better word) does much good. Even if it appears that Jason isn't holding to his own definition of logical reasoning, multiple posts here seem to simply be rubbing salt in the wounds! In short, perhaps what I'm attempting to say is that, perhaps for some people, overcoming the disillusionment or hurt must occur FIRST so that they can then be led through some of the finer points of critical argument. Lots of people don't ever even THINK in those terms, so it has to be shown in a progressive process! I can totally see how, notwithstanding the most heartfelt efforts of some posters here, those efforts were processed as critical and without feeling. For example, Brad, I don't see it as:

"Oh, I see more clearly what you want Jason, I'll give you a line of bull to maintain a peaceful tone if that is what you came here for."

I KNOW you're trying to point out logical fallacies and the like, but I don't see Jason as coming from that perspective yet! So your words seem harsh and hard and unfeeling and everyone hunkers down to protect themselves. Look, I love a robust apologetic give and take as much as anyone here, but we've got to recognize each individual as unique. I completely believe we're missing the mark with Jason--even if our assessment proves correct, because we're missing the heartfelt origins of his disillusionment. Am I the only one who sees it this way?? (It makes me think of the story of the child who asks her parents where she came from and they go into an extensive biological treatment of reproduction with her. She responds with a blank look and says, "I just wanted to know if I'm from California or Washington."

"I could answer scblhrm's questions with black and white rationality instead of trying to speak to him in his language.

If I do that, I predict that you would immediately relegate me to the cadre of angry anti-theists.


Hi Jason, you can dismantle my whole approach in one second if you'll just follow through with your rational answers to scb's points. I beg of you to do it. [I hope when you say rational you mean logically consistent though.] You say I'm guilty of incoherence, show me how or where I've been incoherent. Just show us that you can reason logically, defend your worldview coherently, and then it will be shown who believes in myths and who doesn't. scblhrm's provided an opportunity, grab hold and swing for the fences.

Regarding the pain of disillusionment, I have been offering Jason my own bridge (the bride which I walked) out of that pain. And it has to do, entirely, with what Love is and where those encounters have lead me.

Let me repeat the following before going further:


“I share your pain in these sorts of exchanges…..That really feels painful, and very personal and I think that is natural…”


“It is (for me) incredibly painful when God is too silent. It is incredibly painful when my wife is too silent. Love expects (and rightfully so) a response of some kind…….”


“My last post to you earlier was in genuine sympathy with you Jason as I too have had to bite that painful pill of His seeming paucity in this world and wrestle with it. As I said, Love expects (and rightfully so) a response of some kind…….”


Now, the pain that I have had in this arena of His seeming paucity, or His delay which seems to me to be too long, has been traversed only by the witness of His Person, His Love, through varied vectors into my consciousness.


The fact that Love, or rather Love Himself, is the Ultimate, Final, Actuality is what has made the journey out of that pain not only possible for me in here within the subjective but also out there within the objectively coherent.


This is why I keep coming back to Jason’s point about Love. This entire dialogue (between Jason and myself) hinged on one point which I want Jason to be introspective about and it is this: Love is the Highest Ethic. Now, I think he actually believes that. And, it is worth forever coming back to that belief of his and his claimed worldview (natural selection Etc.). I want to see which he believes in more. He cannot traverse the pain short of Love. We all know sooner or later his bid on natural selection to produce only lovely and pain-free things will be unmasked for what it is: sees-not, cares-not cascades into all sorts of horrible appetites which have been valued in the past and which are being valued right before our eyes today. What I mean is, that topic has been long settled as atheists simply concede that such “is enough to get by on” as we, via sheer preference, pick and choose our way through the never-ending thicket of itches. But I do not think Jason will be satisfied with the “it is enough to get by on” conclusion he will ultimately face inside that worldview.


If Jason is willing to embrace mutable preference ultimately rather than immutable Love Ultimately then he will have settled his heart to its contentment. If instead his repeated claim that love is the ultimate ethic seems to him to be true even though natural selection can never get him there, can never provide him with that ultimate conclusion outside of mere preference of this itch over that itch, then I felt comfortable telling him this:


“If you actually have met, do know, the God Who Is-Love, then I feel comfortable telling you to stick with Him. Even if it means dropping Christianity. I feel comfortable saying this to you (near blasphemy or heresy or something I’m sure) because sooner or later the God Who Is-Love will spread His arms wide and pour Himself out for His Beloved. And His Beloved will be you. And, then, when you see Him thus poured out for you, into you, Love Himself will be there manifest, and then we will be close enough to the same blurry reflection of Actuality Himself that the rest will take care of itself…”

Jason has been disillusioned out of one thing and into what thing?


That is for him to face.


And why does His often silence not factor into our awareness of Him? That too is for Jason to face. It has to do with what love is………


Through ten thousand vectors Love’s Face is found manifest in this world piercing my consciousness. And once tasted, it matters not, from that point forward what becomes of me for, having met Him, Love Himself, -tis but the fullness of that Love there tasted which is my satisfaction. This is true regardless of which person love is tasted through. Wife. Child. God. With God it is therein the same as with the love I receive from my wife, that beautiful gift from Heaven, for having already tasted the joy I have had with her, such just cannot be, ever, overrun or overcome should she now be too quite, or should she now be too distant, or should she now be too silent, or even should she now turn her back to me and refuse me forever. Such actions on her part will, on my part, having already tasted of her love, but make me burn all the more for her. Such is Love. Such is Love. Once I had tasted of her love it was over for my soul. –Tis her I thirst for!


This is why miracle or no miracle, answer or no answer, granting or refusal, blaring trumpet or silence, embrace or back turned in refusal just are not the substrate of Knowing-My-Wife, of Knowing-My-Child, of Knowing God, for such just have zero claim on who and what she is, on who and what my Child is, on Who and What He, God, Is.


This is what Love is like. Love will not be some other way. This is what Knowing-Wife is like. This is what Knowing-Child is like. This is what Knowing-Him is like. Such is Love. This is why we say of Him, “Though there be no answer yet does my soul burn for Him, though there be ten thousand granted answers yet does my soul burn for Him, though there be too long of a silence yet does my soul burn for Him.


We say this in truth of Wife, of Husband, of Child, of God, for Love tastes of its delight therein. This is what Love is like. Love is not some other way.


Scripture’s congruency with reality need not be a stumbling block to Jason for such pain is found in this life as promised but it is also promised that our Final Felicity, our Final Bliss will be satisfied by Joy and not Sorrow. As for this life? Whether it be the disciples’ inability to heal the epileptic, or prophesied increases of diseases throughout the world (healings apparently not keeping up with such), or God’s thrice refusal to take the thorn out of Paul’s flesh, or scripture’s utter saturation with the trinity of Answered Prayers, Unanswered Prayers, and Silence from Him as we call out to Him, or Timothy’s GI disorder [ a pastor with a GI disorder to whom we hear this advice, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses”…… What?! Where is the Poweeeerrrrrr Brotheeeerrrrr!? ], or the myriad of personal accounts all over the world of how God has healed us, whatever it is, all of these things are found quite congruent with reality and need not be a stumbling block to us, or to Jason, when it comes to the reality of His Love for us and simply of Love Himself.


Fortunately, Love finds its ultimate satisfaction as all these sufferings will be, finally, quenched there in Love’s Kingdom. Which is at hand.


Amy can you un-do the italics?

Jason,

My apologies for my mistake with the italics run on. I emailed the correction to Amy but it may have to stand as is. I hope you can find some benefit or perspective from it. Despite of my mistake I hope the words can speak for themselves. Stick with Immutable, Everlasting Love and not some lesser imitation.

Carolyn, thank you for seeing the real me. You are truly a sweetheart :) I didnt leave christianity out of hurt, disappointment, or bitterness. I simply came to an unexpected conclusion. I am happy and at peace.

Thank you John Willis, S.S, and a few others for treating me with respect.

Brad, if you can't see the inconsistency in your behavior and the behavior you require of non believers by now, then I can't help you.

scblhrm, if you dont believe I was a christian by now, you never will. since you never made any genuine effort to answer my question, without demanding the exact answers on the exact reasoning basis you wanted from me, then you probably never will.

I didnt come here for an apologetic debate, just to ask a simple question, to see if I had missed anything.

Brad, you can rejoice now that you have run another non believer off. I hope you are proud of yourself. You will be unlikely to find a more loving, kind, and open minded person than me. Good luck attracting anyone to your faith.

On further thought, I can't leave the conversation like this. It wouldn't be fair to Carolyn if no other reason.

I feel I have answered scblhrm's questions many times, and that my answers are only incoherent if one is coming from the christian world view.

However, I am willing to take his last few big posts point by point again in an attempt to have a real conversation if you are willing to also take my posts point by point in return.

I'll be with my family tomorrow, but will take time on monday to respond if we have a deal.

do we have a deal?

Jason of course we can,

But you have to allow others to call out incoherence in various conclusions you infer without taking it personally. The first time you express “hurt” or “insult” at something we can just stop.


Also, as apologetics is not my strong point, or the rigor of it, and so forth, I want ( actually I need ) to employ Brad (if he’s around) as he just functions on a higher level in this area than I do (or even can).

If Brad is unwelcome, I'll bow out.

Let’s start with this: We know and believe that you fully believed in Christianity.

Your take-away is that it was all in your head.

Well then, it really was all in your head. And, you never saw a healing of any kind or knew anyone you could trust tell you of theirs, etc.

We accept your personal testimony.

Jason,

A few observations from my end,

1) I know Him, the God Who Is-Love, just like I know my wife. Concrete. By definition this is wholly coherent because if God exists then He is the very foundation of Personhood and thus whatever “tasting person” is to us, it will be fuller bodied with Him than it ever could be with another Human. As a matter of definition and as a matter of my experience this all fits quite well. I am not lying to you about my testimony. On an academic, apologetic level, your statement that we “can’t know god that way” is incoherent simply by definition because “If God” then “Tasting Person” will be at least as full bodied in the vertical direction as it is in the horizontal direction, and perhaps more so.

2) In an odd way, the God Who Is-Love is more concrete to me than the mere tenants of the ism that is Christian-ity.

3) If “Christianity” ever becomes incoherent with this God I know I will at some point drop it. I may pause and wait on Him, but, short of Him somehow showing me the Why and the How, I would drop it. There have been such gaps between Him and “it” in the past.


Brad,


Any thoughts on Pastor Timothy's GI disorder? My suspicion is that he may never have seen the paraplegic walk never mind his simple GI disorder ever healed. Paul, who healed some via Love’s Spirit, didn’t heal this Pastor. Some Pastors, some Churches with such Pastors, some towns, some states, never did get to see such things. At least according to scripture. Apparently some disciples cannot heal the epileptic either, even with Jesus right there. At least according to scripture.

Brad,


What I mean has to do with the notion of “argument”. An argument against Christianity must be against Christianity as described in the full body of scripture, and not against one verse only. Somehow I think this “If A then B” line of logic about the paraplegic is off base somehow. I’m curious if you can help me.

Jason,


I forgot to mention: I've never seen a paraplegic healed in front of me. That should settle this for you and permit us to stop here.

I think on your terms that (paraplegic healed) is all Knowing-Person is comprised of or even can be comprised of, and, that is all Scripture shows us as to what to expect in the experience of every life lived. I know several who have suffered great hardships for Him who are just living sacrifices out there who tell me of such healings, and their testimony counts for something given the way they have proved their interior content, though I’d rather see it myself. But they are few and far between by far. Paucity. Why-Lord-Why. When-Lord-When. Help-Lord-Help. Such is quite congruent with Christianity as presented. But their long trail of testimonies to us and to you, and my testimony to you, and John Willis’ testimony to you will all die the death of the other variables.


It sounds to me like you must have been part of Pastor Timothy’s Church during your Christian years; that Pastor who has to drink a bit of wine to settle his stomach. That Church never got “higher” than that. Never.

So we should be able to just stop now. I am fairly confident that you have got the proof you were looking for as to God’s non-existence and Christianity’s non-congruency with reality.


scblhrm,

Once again, for at least the third time, I did not get insulted by Brad's questioning me. You repeating that claim over and over doesn't make it true. If you can't see that all of Brad's posts to me are full of anger and disdain and have not once ounce of love, Christian or otherwise, then you will never see it.

I am not "demanding" that Brad bow out, simply that he treats me like a human being. I would simply appreciate it if he holds himself to the same standard of behavior that he holds the non believer to in this forum.

All I want is to have a real conversation, as if we were sitting in your living room or standing in your church foyer. I am not here to prove to Brad or anyone that I am smarter, or that my logic is superior, or that I am better at apologetics.

There are no "winners" in those type of conversations. No one learns anything meaningful.

Can we just talk like normal human beings?

I'm out with my family the rest of today. I'll check back tomorrow. Have a good one.

Jason of course we can.

I’m not sure what you mean really. I think your primary question is, has been, repeatedly, on the paraplegic being healed on a video of the sort which has had its validity attested to by reliable sources. I mean that is what you came asking about.


No one has presented that to you.


No one (here at least) will.


It seems that is therefore settled, although it need not be.


If there is anything else you want to talk about not related to your assertion ( and you have been asserting it ) that [Paucity] = [Proof] of Scripture’s non-congruency with reality, I’m happy to converse.

Hi scblhrm, I dont have anything to say about Timothy's GI situation,he may have asked for healing or not. The Apostle Paul certainly did have an ailment and it pleased the Lord that he not be relieved. At any rate, I think the scriptures do speak to those who seek a sign for proof and it doesn't speak well of them. Here are a few that come to mind.

Mark 8:12 "Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, "Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation."

Here 2 scriptures speaking to two different groups.

Jn 6:36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe"

Jn 20:29 "Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."

Signs, or even any emperical evidence is subject to interpretation by fallible creatures. A perfect example is here:

Jhn 12:28 "Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."
Jhn 12:29 So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, "An angel has spoken to Him."
Jhn 12:30 Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.

Peter said this concerning emperical evidence:

"2Pe 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
2Pe 1:17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"—
2Pe 1:18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
2Pe 1:19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
2Pe 1:20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation,
2Pe 1:21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Here Peter speaks of the superiority of God's word by comparing experience[things seen/handled] with God's word. You'll never have to contemplate your concern above about the God you know contradicting the word given that Christianity is founded upon. In other words, the Word of God is to be trusted higher than any form of emperical-ism and since it is representative of Him you love, it necessarily will remain coherent--it's His word afterall.

Speaking of emperical-ism, the faith of the naturalists/atheists etc... I read a post on one of the threads at Uncommon Descent that says it all so well, here is the thread titled Behe's Elephant, the comment of note is #11 by JDH. Here is the comment in case you dont want to go through it.

Another unfortunate event that has shaped the biased attitudes towards ID of modern thinkers is the confusion of the methods of science with the concept of what reality is. It is in this light that men of faith and science ( Newton, Pascal, Planck ) practiced science and believed in God.

A. By the mere fact that scientific experiments insist on reproducibly, the practice of the scientific method must assume methodological naturalism.

What should be understood by all, ( and is ignored by fools ), is that point A is a statement about the limitations of science. It has no bearing about what the reality looks like. The questions that science can not answer are simply the question that science can not answer.

People who do not see science as a tool of humanity, but instead have made it their god, unfortunately must insist on a reality which is limited to the small portions of reality that can be investigated by science. No wonder they reject the true and living God.
[The bolding is mine in JDH's comment]

To Jason, your choice to believe and trust in empericism over against the God who gave you absolute truth in supernatural revelation is the root of the incoherency in a worldview that tries to account for love, value, knowledge, meaning, etc...without the Person Who gives these attributes their importance.

If you were in the audience of Moses with Pharoah, and the magicians threw the staff on the ground and it turned into a snake would you believe in their power. Are your sense perceptions infallible, can they be fooled? Somewhere, Jesus said to a rich man, "they have Moses and the Prophets, even if one were to rise from the dead, they will not believe".

"Jhn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word[logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jhn 1:2 He was in the beginning with God. Jhn 1:3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

Asking to demonstrate coherency in your worldview is not a challenge between blog posters, it is a challenge between worldviews. The Christian worldview is superior in that it justifiably accounts for reality as humans experience it. My mocking tone has not been meant to focus on you the person Jason, but on the worldview you've cloaked yourself in. So long as you wear this foolish worldview, you are subject to suffer the embarrasment associated with this woefully inadequate worldview.

This is fitting as come to proselytize Christians that their faith if foolishness when it is demonstrably and easily proved if someone will only reason coherently.

My last sentence doesn't make sense, at least the sense I intended, a redo has it going like this:

This is fitting as you come to proselytize Christians claiming that their faith is foolishness when it is demonstrably and easily proved true if someone will only reason coherently.

I'm chiming in for likely the last time, though I will continue to read this blog as long as it lasts--mostly because I don't think I'm helping as far as what Brad and scblhrm are trying to get you to see; I'm sort of on the "precursor" events!

Jason, I appreciate your kind remarks and hope you trust me enough to allow me to express my thoughts on this subject, all the while hearing what is at their foundation. I think I made my concerns about the charismatic sector pretty obvious and I don't wish to harp on that or get into other tangents about it. But I think that folks who immerse themselves in it have an almost insatiable need for tangible evidence for their efforts. (I collectively called it "bells and whistles" previously because of the fervent desire to see extraordinary things.) Without exception, those I've known of that sector were always awaiting something miraculous or supernatural and were quite disenchanted with the usual day to day living and relating of non-charismatics. Invariably they would quote Scripture passages which "proved" their expectations, and I always came away thinking that I simply don't process those Scriptures the same way. We clearly had a completely different understanding of God--how He interacted and related with His own, how and what we trusted Him for, how we thought of Him and beheld Him. I guess I could sum it up by saying that their belief in the person of God was equal to the satisfied expectations they had of Him.

But what if their understanding was mistaken? What if He didn't deliver the goods (whatever those might be) when they so surely KNEW He would because of their understanding of Scripture? I can tell you of an example that I know of personally that involved someone absolutely convinced that God was going to raise a young man in their congregation from the dead. I won't go into all the things they, as a congregation did to prepare for this event, absolutely expecting it would happen (and having a team ready to summon the media as soon as it did.) There was a collective giddiness on the part of all concerned as they gathered around this young man's body, awaiting God's expected miracle. So distraught was the man I knew, when it did not occur, that he went into a slump of despair and agony that cut him to the heart. But never once did I hear him say that perhaps they had misunderstood something about God. Never. The answer I got to my inquiries was, "Well, God raised someone somewhere, even if it wasn't here. And if it wasn't here this time, we just have to have faith that it WILL be here at some time." Huh???

So all in all, I think it would be sort of like being married to someone, all the while presuming that you knew everything necessary about that person, and then discovering later that the person was not who you thought he/she was. So troubling, so humbling, so questionable--but there it was. At that point I guess the person could walk away and say the spouse was bogus, or he/she could reconsider and think that perhaps his/her own underlying suppositions were incorrect. Either way, that spouse is STILL THERE and there is still opportunity to know the reality of that person.

I hope you'll choose to reconsider your options--because God hasn't gone anywhere and He waits with longsuffering patience for His own. You are precious in His sight, Jason, and He is worth every bit of effort, humbling, re-thinking, reconsideration, or whatever it takes. We are not called to happiness in this life, we are called to holiness. The Christian life is filled with trails and suffering and a cross to carry, and it bears no resemblance to the life of the non-believer. But at its heart there is the peace of Christ, the promise of Christ, and the person of Christ. And He waits. I will pray for you and your family, Jason. I promise you that. I have truly enjoyed our talks and look forward to meeting one day.

Carolyn

"And He waits. I will pray for you and your family, Jason. I promise you that."

Carolyn,
This is a good example of why I appreciate you.

That's most kind of you, Brad. And I appreciate the intellectual rigor you always bring to the table! My heart longs for Jason to be restored to his Creator, and I trust in the power of prayer. I can't do a lot for people but I can pray. (And I am tenacious when I do! There are two people in my life that I have prayed for consistently for over 30 years and I am still waiting to see those prayers answered! But I am not giving up.)

BTW, I meant to write "trials" in my post above, not "trails"!

Hopefully, we have all been impacted by Jason and what he has shared with us. Every person adds to the learning curve and "talking" with Jason has made me appreciate the hurdles people can experience when it comes to spiritual things. When all of the many posts here have been processed and digested, I pray that God will consolidate them into a message of fresh realization and personal intimacy between Himself and Jason--and may the soil of his heart be receptive to the One who knows and loves him completely.

It may help to remind ourselves of Jason's heart-felt needs. His complete disappointment with his prior experience comes through quite clear in his own words:


“I told you multiple times that I did in fact "start with Him-as-Love", that I did fully believe in his person. When one believes that, everything else fits into it. I get that. Once again, I lived that for a very long time……. I once felt that I knew Jesus as well as my parents or wife, but when I look at that objectively and critically now, that's ridiculous. I can physically see, smell, converse with, and touch my wife. You can't compare that type of knowing a person with the mental/emotional/spiritual knowing of a deity, as in with the same provable certainty………”

And,

“A generic response of "Answered prayers? My body? Yes" is not in any way a specific response to my singular question, and you know it. You didn't answer my question because you can't answer my question. It's as simple as that.You have proven that your relationship with god exists only in your thoughts and emotions. I know it's very real to you. I don't doubt that. It was very real to me, but your lack of actual evidence makes it undeniable….”

And,

“……..a tiny demonstration of that tiny fraction is more than reasonable and would be undeniable to every one. For example...just one modern day miracle...a real one...an video taped arm growing back or a paraplegic getting up to walk while a person is being prayed for by Christians...something that could not occur without the Christian god. It NEVER, EVER happens. There are hundreds of millions of videos on Youtube, and not one objectively demonstrating god. That is why people that rely on evidence cannot believe…..”

If God exists, and is the very foundation of Person, the question Jason will need to answer (for himself, not us) is this: Would it be possible to Know Person if one never saw any miracle.


I think Jason's answer is a clear "No". Person cannot know Person in that manner. Person does not transcend Body, does not transcend Genome, and thus, unless or until the body is touched, Person cannot be tasted, cannot be known. Jason does not desire the miracle per se, but the Person on the other end of it. And he is sure that he just cannot Know-God unless or until he sees one.

The Body, the Genome, the Miracle is the bridge by which he will be convinced because Personhood is therein contained and is not something which exists outside of Body, outside of Genome.


Now, Jason will not say it in those words. As a Christian he knew that Person transcends Body. He gets that. Got that. “But with all the promises of Body-Touches, we ought to be able to get at least one” (something like that).

Person-Knowing-Person is the very substrate of which the very core of Jason's heart-felt need is comprised of.


If God exists, and is the very foundation of Person, the question Jason will need to answer (for himself, not us) is this: Would it be possible to Know Person if one never saw any miracle.


And, if [Paucity] and When-Lord-When, Why-Lord-Why, Help-Lord-Help is actually part of Scripture’s depiction of our current condition (and it is), then Jason will have to answer (for himself, not us) just how that fits into his approach and his expectations here with God.


Jason I will tell you that Person does transcend Body, and so you don’t need a miracle to actually know Person-Hood-Himself. And, I will tell you that we do find in Scripture both Paucity and physical healing.


Two camps of error are 1) If you are sick it must be God’s will (this violates the very possibility of a healing, which is scriptural, and it also destroys all Agencies other than God’s Agency, which would be unscriptural) and also 2) If you don’t get healed you are somehow missing God (this violates the obvious seasons of Paucity clearly depicted in scripture and even the intentionally withheld restorations as we see in Paul, which Brad eluded to). Number 1 may be ALL we ever see of Him in Body. Or, number 2 may be ALL we ever see of Him in Body. Yet neither one nor two have anything to do with Person-Knowing-Person for Person-Hood-Himself transcends Body.


Jason it really does come down to What is Person and how do we know Him?. One on one with Him. Go there. That painful paucity of God in the world begins to fade only there. It seems to me that you actually do believe in your heart that love is our ultimate ethic and therefore I feel comfortable telling you to follow your heart. It’s telling you the truth of the matter. How you reconcile that with the world outside of you is fairly straightforward. No one can show you Love Himself except Himself Jason. I think you may know that already. You’re going to have to trust what you discover of Him in prayer with Him at some point. We will never bypass that subtle undercurrent of Wait and yet in that Waiting I will tell you that the Paucity begins to fade as He Himself becomes manifest in the world right before your eyes. Logic and Reason and Love will all confirm those vectors breaking through in prayer quite easily.

-Tis my Beloved Wife! Once touched -Tis her and no other I thirst for! Should she turn her back to me and refuse me forever, such would but make me burn all the more for her. For I have tasted of her! OH my Beloved!

I'm getting on a plane to Phoenix now, but I will respond in detail tonight when I get to my hotel.

Thanks for the replies. I think we are "getting to the heart of the matter" so to speak, at least from my perspective.

That was a really good post, scblhrm. I think you summarized all of it beautifully. For some inexplicable reason, I started to think about a soldier who "meets" a woman via a pen-pal situation in the 1940s. They begin exchanging letters and soon find themselves falling in love. A couple of years go by, and the words they pen to each other have built a foundation of love and passion and longing. They are at a point in time where they can make plans to meet, and both of them are anticipating this day with full hearts. A date and place are arranged and the time is established. He carries a small ring box to the meeting place, looking very handsome in his uniform, practicing the words he will say, and his heart races as he searches the faces of those who wander in. What he isn't aware of is that, en route to the meeting place, his beloved is killed in a car crash just hours earlier. (Yes, I know, it sounds like a Hollywood drama; but bear with me.) The questions that form in my mind, related to the topic we're discussing, is: Did he know her? Was she a real person? What proof does he have of her existence?

Okay, I'm REALLY done now!

Hi Jason,

You wrote: "I didn't spend my Christian walk looking for evidence and barely holding on to my faith. I was VERY sure of it right until the end. Right up until the last weeks, I was preaching and teaching and prophesying and counseling, etc."

Jason, please don't take this the wrong way, I'm saying this out of love...tough love albeit. But from what you've written, it is absolutely crystal clear to me that you never were a Christian!

This may anger you, but it doesn't have to. God is telling you something here. Walking away from your "faith" was/is a good thing, because it never was placed in Him. Again, this may anger you, but I hope it doesn't. The Bible tells us that some people will "fake it" until death, only to find out they never knew Jesus when they finally meet him on the other side of physical death. (Luke 13:24-30) I don't want that to happen to you and neither does the Lord. You leaving your "faith" is a gift from Him. The fact that you found your way here and are asking questions and being honest about your "faith" is proof of this!

You have been deceived by a false Gospel and it's not entirely your fault. The loudest "Christian" voices in our media and culture are unfortunately just sometimes flat out wolves in sheep's clothing. I mean - thanks Rob Bell! I swear sometimes I want to punch that guy in the face for all the souls he's deceived. I'm not saying you were following his teaching, but he's an example of just one kind of "Christian" fraud.

Your past religious activity means nothing to God. Nothing. He doesn't need your work! In fact, He views your attempts at manipulating the relationship as insults!

He is offering you a pardon. It is non-negotiable. We don't negotiate with God, on how he is going to reconcile the relationship. Praise Him that He even made a way in the first place!

You went onto write:

"To answer your question about sin and a savior, I still live by love and a moral code, but I no longer believe in "sin" as I once did. At the risk of offending someone, there's a quote that states "sin is an imaginary disease, invented to sell you an imaginary cure". I don't know who said that, but it is (perhaps too) a blunt and brutal summation of where I stand on that subject now."

Exactly! You don't think you're a sinner, so why do you need a Savior? I love your honesty! This is break through stuff. The Bible tells us we can't even repent on our own, that the Holy Spirit brings us to repentance....to a place in our soul where we realize we are sinners! It is a horrible place to be! If you've been there, you would never leave Christ. Where are you going to go? The famous song, Amazing Grace hits it right on the head..."it was GRACE that taught my heart to fear and GRACE my fear relieved."

Again, Jason, this is a good thing. You are letting go of something that was never real in the first place. In one sense, this should make you feel relieved. Please, please, please pick up the book - Hell's Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort. This book won't save you and it might not even make you "feel" better, but it will point you in the right direction and make the main things of Scripture regarding salvation crystal clear, in a way that would be impossible for me to expound on in a blog post. And besides Comfort's a much better writer and a much more mature Christian then I.

Another recommendation that illustrates the same is John Edward's sermon - Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Respectfully,
John

Scblhrm wrote::

...I think your primary question is, has been, repeatedly, on the paraplegic being healed on a video of the sort which has had its validity attested to by reliable sources. I mean that is what you came asking about. No one has presented that to you. No one (here at least) will. It seems that is therefore settled, although it need not be...

My general question asked anyone here if they had direct personal evidence outside of their thoughts and emotions that the Christian god was real. To make my question as clear as possible, one of the examples I gave, among others, was a paraplegic being healed. I never intended the question to be narrowed down to healing and then narrowed down further to a paraplegic being healed. I was asked for any evidence that would match my criteria.

To address an earlier post of yours, I also did not claim that my former Christian belief was that every prayer should be answered (like prayers for healing). I think one could make lots of arguments on either side of that question if they are relying on scripture. My point was that I had never seen anything “supernatural”, i.e. personal direct proof of the Christian god outside of my thoughts and emotions, and no Christian I ever knew had either when you get right down to the details, including family, pastors, etc.

The entire point of the “evidence” question for me is “shouldn’t there be some proof outside of thoughts and emotions, somewhere, sometime, directly in each of our lives”? No one here offered any such evidence except for John Willis. He shared a story of his missing toenail growing back overnight after prayer when he was five years old. That is in fact personal, direct evidence of the supernatural to him. I did not dispute that point. I hesitate but I have to point out that this is the memory of a five year old, and if like most five year olds like I was, he probably had a wild imagination and also believed in Santa Clause at the time. I don’t say that to deny his story. I can even accept it as true, but you do see how a rational person could question it.

The real point is that there was only one Christian here with direct personal evidence outside of their thoughts and emotions, out of many lifetimes of Christian experience. Doesn’t that make any one wonder? If not, shouldn’t it? Why are prayers never answered about anything tangible and provable, i.e. things that could not have happened by any other means than supernatural? I won’t repeat my previous example of the three general possible outcomes of prayer and my conclusion of confirmation bias again. I did that twice before here, and no one even attempted to address that point.

Brad B wrote:

Asking to demonstrate coherency in your worldview is not a challenge between blog posters, it is a challenge between worldviews. The Christian worldview is superior in that it justifiably accounts for reality as humans experience it. My mocking tone has not been meant to focus on you the person Jason, but on the worldview you've cloaked yourself in. So long as you wear this foolish worldview, you are subject to suffer the embarrasment associated with this woefully inadequate worldview. This is fitting as you come to proselytize Christians claiming that their faith is foolishness when it is demonstrably and easily proved true if someone will only reason coherently.

I agree that the issue is different worldviews. Thank you for finally acknowledging and explaining the incoherency in your standards of behavior for Christians and non Christians. The fact that you think mocking is OK for you because your worldview is correct, and mocking is not OK for others because their worldview is incorrect, explains your comments. I think that it’s a very immature conclusion and will exclude you from ever meaningfully reaching anyone for Christ, but at least I understand the context of your mocking/angry/disdainful comments now, and I won’t take them personally anymore.

Christianity is pretty much the definition of incoherency given that there are more than 30,000 denominations just in the US that think they have the correct interpretation of it. Since you make a claim, I would like you to “demonstrably and easily” prove that Christianity is true in a subsequent post.

Also, you have claimed that I haven’t answered some of scblhrm’s questions, at least coherently. Can you please point out which questions/points these are and I will be happy to address them? I believe that I have answered every question/point. If the only answer that will satisfy you is one agreeing with him, then it will be unlikely that you would accept my answer, since we as you stated, we have different worldviews.

Carolyn said:

I'm chiming in for likely the last time…

Don’t leave! You are the main reason I’m still in this conversation :)

I think I made my concerns about the charismatic sector pretty obvious and I don't wish to harp on that or get into other tangents about it. But I think that folks who immerse themselves in it have an almost insatiable need for tangible evidence for their efforts.

I agree with you, and I wasn’t one of those. As stated previously, one day I simply realized that no Christian I ever knew, including me, had any direct personal evidence outside of their thoughts and emotions that the Christian god was real.

But what if their understanding was mistaken? What if He didn't deliver the goods (whatever those might be) when they so surely KNEW He would because of their understanding of Scripture?

Right…but something, sometime, somewhere, somehow should happen to someone right? Surely all those scriptures with supernatural promises don’t mean that nothing happens, ever, in no place, in no way, to no one? If so, then why believe in the Christian god any more than any other god or no god at all?

The Christian life is filled with trials and suffering and a cross to carry, and it bears no resemblance to the life of the non-believer

How is the life of a believer and non believer different, in reality? Statistically, marriage, divorce, crime, financial success/ruin, etc is the essentially the same for both groups. I understand that the mental and emotional reality is/can be different, but so can those realities among different non believing groups. People of many faiths and non faiths reach “peace” many ways.

My heart longs for Jason to be restored to his Creator, and I trust in the power of prayer. I can't do a lot for people but I can pray. (And I am tenacious when I do! There are two people in my life that I have prayed for consistently for over 30 years and I am still waiting to see those prayers answered! But I am not giving up.)

I genuinely appreciate this, but since I’ve been asked to be more direct in my replies, I have to point out that all scientific studies (done by actual peer reviewed scientists, not apologists) show that prayer makes zero difference in outcomes. It can be good therapy for the person praying and perhaps comfort to those that know they are being prayed for, but it’s been proven beyond any doubt to have no effect on circumstances.

Scblhrm wrote:

If God exists, and is the very foundation of Person, the question Jason will need to answer (for himself, not us) is this: Would it be possible to Know Person if one never saw any miracle.

Again, I apologize that my remarks led to the inference that I was locked into having to see “any miracle”. Like I said before, I wasn’t waiting around and questioning “When-Lord-When, Why-Lord-Why, Help-Lord-Help”. I simply realized one day that there wasn’t any type of personal direct evidence outside of my thoughts and emotions. None. Period. No one save John Willis has offered anything to the contrary.

Two camps of error are 1) If you are sick it must be God’s will (this violates the very possibility of a healing, which is scriptural, and it also destroys all Agencies other than God’s Agency, which would be unscriptural) and also 2) If you don’t get healed you are somehow missing God (this violates the obvious seasons of Paucity clearly depicted in scripture and even the intentionally withheld restorations as we see in Paul, which Brad eluded to).

I agreed with this fully as a Christian, but it doesn’t explain why it never happens for any one, ever, and why Christians are ok with not knowing why this is the case.

Carolyn said:

For some inexplicable reason, I started to think about a soldier who "meets" a woman via a pen-pal situation in the 1940s. They begin exchanging letters and soon find themselves falling in love. A couple of years go by, and the words they pen to each other have built a foundation of love and passion and longing. They are at a point in time where they can make plans to meet, and both of them are anticipating this day with full hearts. A date and place are arranged and the time is established. He carries a small ring box to the meeting place, looking very handsome in his uniform, practicing the words he will say, and his heart races as he searches the faces of those who wander in. What he isn't aware of is that, en route to the meeting place, his beloved is killed in a car crash just hours earlier. (Yes, I know, it sounds like a Hollywood drama; but bear with me.) The questions that form in my mind, related to the topic we're discussing, is: Did he know her? Was she a real person? What proof does he have of her existence?

I like your analogy, but here’s the additional element you may not have considered. What if his beloved never actually wrote or spoke with him? What if someone else wrote the letters on her behalf telling him how much she loved him, etc, but there was never any direct personal contact with her? That third party also promised that she would do A or B or show up at C, etc because she “told him to write that”. When A, B, and C never happened in any fashion, wouldn’t he be right and in questioning whether she ever existed, even if he was completely convinced she did at one time? Wouldn’t he be normal for requesting some “proof of life” directly from her?

John Willis wrote:

Jason, please don't take this the wrong way, I'm saying this out of love...tough love albeit. But from what you've written, it is absolutely crystal clear to me that you never were a Christian! This may anger you, but it doesn't have to.

It doesn’t anger me at all because I understand that you MUST think that. I’m just not sure how you can come to that conclusion given all of my comments. Sure, I went through a phase early where I tried to “earn” my salvation, then I came to the “revelation” of god’s love and grace. I wasn’t some miserable works-based bible thumping faker. I really believed. I willingly and happily gave everything to god because I wanted to. I was really genuine. I led people to salvation through love and compassion, never fear.

You have been deceived by a false Gospel and it's not entirely your fault. The loudest "Christian" voices in our media and culture are unfortunately just sometimes flat out wolves in sheep's clothing.

I didn’t listen to those Christian voices. I saw them as wolves and despised them for leading others astray. Which “false Gospel” do you think I was deceived by?

Exactly! You don't think you're a sinner, so why do you need a Savior? I love your honesty! This is break through stuff. The Bible tells us we can't even repent on our own, that the Holy Spirit brings us to repentance....to a place in our soul where we realize we are sinners! It is a horrible place to be! If you've been there, you would never leave Christ. Where are you going to go?

Thank you for the compliment. I assure you, I was totally “there”. I was “filled with the Holy Spirit”. I was convicted of my sins and sinful nature. I fully believed in the atonement of Christ and that he was the only way to heaven. I accepted his forgiveness and grace and reveled in it. I just simply realized the entire concept was a con. As previously stated, my “rejection” of the definition of “sin” was not so I could “go out and sin”. By anyone’s definition of “sin”, I do so less as an atheist than I did as a believer.

Please, please, please pick up the book - Hell's Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort.

I tried Ray Comfort and I’m fully familiar with his writings and ministry. Frankly and bluntly, and forgive me, but the problem with Ray….is that he’s a bonafide idiot, especially when it comes to science. There are several videos of him making a complete fool of himself, stating things that patently and demonstrably false and uninformed (google “Ray Comfort” and “banana” for one). I’m sorry, but I have no respect for him as a scholar or teacher as a result.

Respectfully,

Jason

So, no miracle, no God.

?

Some Christians tell us that unless we get a miracle we are not "real" Christians.

Some Atheists tell us that unless we get a miracle God cannot be "real".

Neither presents what is actually found in scripture and thus neither can tell us anything about the True/False status of scripture.

Jason's "No miracle = No God" reasoning is thus not helpful in discovering the true/false status of things where the God Who is Love is concerned.

scblhrm,

I thought I made it abundantly clear that the evidence I was looking for was not limited to miracles (or any specific miracle).

I was looking for any evidence that you have directly and personally experienced that is not in your thoughts an emotions. It could be anything that proves the Christian god is real. Anything at all.

The fact that Christians don't require this type of simple evidence for something that is so life consuming is baffling to me now.

Other than thoughts and emotions, why do you think the Christian god is real? Please answer specifically if you can.

Jason

All,

If your answer to my question

Other than thoughts and emotions, why do you think the Christian god is real?

is some version of "I just know" or "I just believe" or "God is love", then that's totally OK. I'm not trying to trap you. I understand that it's a matter of faith.

Respectfully,

Jason

We told you about healings. They died the death of a thousand qualifications.

It was not enough.

It never will be.

Person is not there.

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