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the sad clown

It's All About Me

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Abu Firdaws had asked me about my story and current beliefs.

 

I grew up in a Christian home with a mother who was especially active in church. I too became a very committed and active Christian, involved in church and bible studies outside of church. I later went on to a christian bible institute to study more and perhaps prepare to be a christian minister myself. It was here that I first began to question the christian tradition that I grew up with, although I remained a deeply committed Christian. I continued to study intensely Christian theology and history. Unfortunately, my studies eventually led to a collapse in my belief system and in desperation, I abandoned my intellectual efforts and sought God through direct experience, through prayer and straining to hear God speaking to me through the Bible. When this too proved unsuccessful, I slowly began to lose my faith, weathering over three years of struggling against my loss of faith, seeking help from church elders and pastors to save my christian faith, but to no avail. At the end of the process, I had to admit that I no longer believed in God.

 

My current beliefs are plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/ (that is a great article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for those who are interested), and as such, I don't believe in God in the negative sense that I don't see any evidence for holding such a belief, not in the positive sense of thinking I have proof against God's existence.

 

I hope that answers your questions. Let me know if I need to expand on anything.

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Abu Firdaws had asked me about my story and current beliefs.

 

I grew up in a Christian home with a mother who was especially active in church. I too became a very committed and active Christian, involved in church and bible studies outside of church. I later went on to a christian bible institute to study more and perhaps prepare to be a christian minister myself. It was here that I first began to question the christian tradition that I grew up with, although I remained a deeply committed Christian. I continued to study intensely Christian theology and history. Unfortunately, my studies eventually led to a collapse in my belief system and in desperation, I abandoned my intellectual efforts and sought God through direct experience, through prayer and straining to hear God speaking to me through the Bible. When this too proved unsuccessful, I slowly began to lose my faith, weathering over three years of struggling against my loss of faith, seeking help from church elders and pastors to save my christian faith, but to no avail. At the end of the process, I had to admit that I no longer believed in God.

 

My current beliefs are (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/"]naturalism[/url] (that is a great article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for those who are interested), and as such, I don't believe in God in the negative sense that I don't see any evidence for holding such a belief, not in the positive sense of thinking I have proof against God's existence.

 

I hope that answers your questions. Let me know if I need to expand on anything.

 

I'll get back to you insha'Allaah. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Wow, no wonder you called yourself Sad Clown..

Perhaps you can expand on what or at what stage of you studies that caused you began to lost faith in Christianity- the so called turning point so to speak..Only if you want to..FWIW we have seen many well established points against Christianity from so many discussions here that just about anyone who are rational enough would reject it, but who knows yours maybe different..

Perhaps you could consider taking a step back when you used to believe in God but instead of the Bible, start with the Quran this time.? Who knows the outcome maybe different?

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It is true, Rahimi, that the name 'the sad clown' was born of those dark times. To be honest, I have to admit that almost seven years later, I am still going through them, although it is not so intense now.

 

And no, I don't mind explaining the turning point, but it will probably seem weird, even to other Christians. I think a sort of time line might help put it in context and make the most sense. I began as a Pentecostal Christian, and while that may not mean much to you, the important piece of information about them is that they are very ahistorical. By this I mean that they have almost no regard for Christian history or tradition, with nearly everything being "in the moment" and "lead by the Spirit". I found this unsettling since I thought Christianity needed to be based on the Bible. From there is the following mental journey:

 

1. Bible is authoritative, but given the number of different traditions, is obviously subject to interpretation

2. There is a need for an authoritative interpretation in order to know which is correct

3. How do I recognize this authoritative interpretation?

 

From this, I sought an answer in Church history. This made sense to me since classical Protestantism (Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Anglicanism) all affirm the importance of church history for the establishment of Christian tradition, i.e., the authoritative interpretation I was seeking. This was in addition to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy which I already knew would affirm such a search. But once I began reading the writings of early Christians, I quickly discovered that they wouldn't have recognized much of Protestantism, and in fact struck me as being rather similar to Eastern Orthodoxy.

 

Thus I studied intensely the disagreement between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, the two main claimants to continuity with these early Christians. After years of study and debate, I came across a passage in a book titled, "A History of Christianity in Asia", and it was there that I read that Asian Christians, outside of the Roman Empire, had conducted their own council of elders to decide whether or not to accept one of the Ecumenical councils declarations (a church council that happened before Catholics and Orthodox split). This was a startling revelation, since by either measure (the Pope's declaration for Catholics, or a council for Orthodox) it represented a rejection of the kind of authority these Christian churches claimed.

 

It was in fact rather conclusive for me. There was no authoritative interpretative tradition. In fact, there never had been, and my entire search, years of research and reading and debating and struggling, were for nothing. The frustration I had put my wife and family taking them to this church and that church as my studies progressed, was not only a colossal waste of time, but a negative experience without even a good conclusion to balance it out. I was fairly broken intellectually from this event, and soon afterwards one of my last acts as a still believing (yet already struggling) Christian was to guide my family to a church that I knew would at least serve their needs.

 

That is a rough outline, but it is already pretty long and esoteric, so I'll leave it at that. I appreciate the offer for replacing the Bible with the Qur'an, but my problem was never with the Bible, at least not until after I lost my faith. I have read some of the Qur'an, at least an English translation, and I haven't found myself interested in it to date. Nothing in the translation I read jumped out at me as being "Truth" and compelling enough to move me further along in the conversion process.

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Thanks for taking the time to write that, don't know about others but that is new to me.

I appreciate the offer for replacing the Bible with the Qur'an, but my problem was never with the Bible, at least not until after I lost my faith. I have read some of the Qur'an, at least an English translation, and I haven't found myself interested in it to date. Nothing in the translation I read jumped out at me as being "Truth" and compelling enough to move me further along in the conversion process.

Kind of remind me of an old friend who lost his first love some 20+ years ago and still never gotten over her, still single and not interested to this day...

I'm sure you have prayed and invoked God before as a Christian, perhaps you could try doing that again but only this time the prayer is to the one who Created you and the entire universe and ask Him to guide you if He is listening (I'm sure He is), perhaps you could try this, hey what have you got to lose except a few minutes of your private times?

Edited by RAHIMI

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I recall having done what you suggested before. Actually, I believe I did more than that at the suggestion of a fellow forumite here. I remember actually adopting some of the posturing for Muslim prayer as well. It felt very artificial and didn't do much for me.

 

The problem is I could pretend to have such a conversation, but without the conviction that there was someone on the receiving end, it ends up being more like talking to yourself (or pretending to talk to an "invisible" friend). The more I have tried this, and I have tried numerous times, the more I have come to the conclusion that such a breakthrough will not come about through my own will power, but needs at least some sort of divine impetus if it is to ever succeed.

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Well I don't really know what else to suggest..and as per guidance, as Muslims we believe it is all in Allah's hands, He Guides whom He wills and He leaves astray whom He wills..

All the best to you..

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I still appreciate your interest in my welfare and thank you for your concern.

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I don't believe in God in the negative sense that I don't see any evidence for holding such a belief, not in the positive sense of thinking I have proof against God's existence.

 

We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Qur'an) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things? [41:53]

 

Isn't the fact that you exist enough proof of the existence of a Creator? Look around you, do you honestly believe that all of this came to be by chance?

 

I want to know how and what you think; I cannot comprehend the thought of having no Creator, it defies all logic and everything we know to be true about the world in which we live in.

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and is not/naught worldly provision/wealth/fame/satisfaction/fame/contentment but "scarcity".."Quran"

hopefully your CREATOR WILL NOT disappoint you

salaam

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We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Qur'an) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things? [41:53]

 

Isn't the fact that you exist enough proof of the existence of a Creator? Look around you, do you honestly believe that all of this came to be by chance?

 

I want to know how and what you think; I cannot comprehend the thought of having no Creator, it defies all logic and everything we know to be true about the world in which we live in.

No, unfortunately the fact that I exist is not sufficient proof of a Creator for me. The Bible has a similar verse which equally condemns me for not seeing how clearly the universe around me manifests the signs of a divine creator. I am currently satisfied with the explanations given by science for how I came to be, namely chance and evolution. I felt similar to you when I was a Christian as well, but of course things have changed for me so that I can now understand how it would be to live in a world in which you do not think there is a God. But please, ask any question you want if it will help you know how and what I think.

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No, unfortunately the fact that I exist is not sufficient proof of a Creator for me. The Bible has a similar verse which equally condemns me for not seeing how clearly the universe around me manifests the signs of a divine creator. I am currently satisfied with the explanations given by science for how I came to be, namely chance and evolution. I felt similar to you when I was a Christian as well, but of course things have changed for me so that I can now understand how it would be to live in a world in which you do not think there is a God. But please, ask any question you want if it will help you know how and what I think.

 

Ok, I'll try and keep it as simple as possible; and I'd appreciate it if you would do the same.

 

How did the universe come into existence?

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and is not/naught worldly provision/wealth/fame/satisfaction/fame/contentment but "scarcity".."Quran"

hopefully your CREATOR WILL NOT disappoint you

Scarcity is defined by a lack of something, thus it would seem to me to be perceptual, since an unfelt lack would not seem like a lack to me. Only when it is a felt reality could the situation be marked by scarcity.

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How did the universe come into existence?

I don't know. From what I have been told, the Big Bang event would have erased most of the information from any period before that, although (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetuniversetoday(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/13630/what-was-before-the-big-bang-an-identical-reversed-universe/"]there is some indication[/url] that at least some information may have passed through. I am happy to speculate on the possibilities, but it would only be speculation.

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I don't know. From what I have been told, the Big Bang event would have erased most of the information from any period before that, although (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetuniversetoday(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/13630/what-was-before-the-big-bang-an-identical-reversed-universe/"]there is some indication[/url] that at least some information may have passed through. I am happy to speculate on the possibilities, but it would only be speculation.

 

But the problem I have is that you do not see the need for a Creator in order for all of this to happen. Ok, so the universe came into existence via the big bang, but that does not explain how the conditions necessary in order for the big bang to take place came about. As an atheist do you have an answer for that? Or do you feel that it doesn't need an answer?

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But the problem I have is that you do not see the need for a Creator in order for all of this to happen. Ok, so the universe came into existence via the big bang, but that does not explain how the conditions necessary in order for the big bang to take place came about. As an atheist do you have an answer for that? Or do you feel that it doesn't need an answer?

No, like I said, there are several theories in science about how the Big Bang came to be, but from what I can tell, none of them have really risen above the others to be understood as the operating hypothesis for the origins of the universe. This is likely due to the dearth of information that was capable of passing through such an event. But a lack of evidence (due to the nature of the Big Bang) is not evidence for God, it is merely a lack of evidence for anything. Since there are non-God theories that are also plausible explanations for the origins of the universe, I don't feel the need to resort to God in order to come up with an explanation. This frees me up to consider current observable evidence for God's existence.

 

BTW, it is entirely possible to simply remain agnostic about the beginnings of the universe, much like how Christians and Muslims are satisfied with trusting God's judgment without being able to comprehend the divine mind. One could just as easily accept a completely naturalistic universe without feeling the need to try and answer how it came about.

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The more I have tried this, and I have tried numerous times, the more I have come to the conclusion that such a breakthrough will not come about through my own will power, but needs at least some sort of divine impetus if it is to ever succeed.

 

This is very true.

 

And We shall remove from their hearts any lurking sense of injury;- beneath them will be rivers flowing;- and they shall say: "Praise be to God, who hath guided us to this (felicity): never could we have found guidance, had it not been for the guidance of God: indeed it was the truth, that the apostles of our Lord brought unto us." And they shall hear the cry: "Behold! the garden before you! Ye have been made its inheritors, for your deeds (of righteousness)." (7:43)

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Thank you, Younes Ibn Abd' al-Aziz, for sharing that passage. I believe this one opinion of mine is the last remaining strongly held religious sentiment left me, namely that if there is a God, and this God is good, then he will reward an earnest search for the truth by revealing himself to the seeker.

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Since there are non-God theories that are also plausible explanations for the origins of the universe, I don't feel the need to resort to God in order to come up with an explanation. This frees me up to consider current observable evidence for God's existence.

 

But in order for these "non-God theories" to be logical would that not mean that whatever caused the big bang, and whatever caused the cause of the big bang, and whatever caused the cause of the cause of the big bang (if that make sense) would need to be eternal?

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But in order for these "non-God theories" to be logical would that not mean that whatever caused the big bang, and whatever caused the cause of the big bang, and whatever caused the cause of the cause of the big bang (if that make sense) would need to be eternal?

Well, at least the chain of causes would have to be eternal, unless it really is possible for something to come from nothing. Like I said, I don't mind speculating about what happened before the Big Bang, but it would only be speculation.

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No, unfortunately the fact that I exist is not sufficient proof of a Creator for me. The Bible has a similar verse which equally condemns me for not seeing how clearly the universe around me manifests the signs of a divine creator. I am currently satisfied with the explanations given by science for how I came to be, namely chance and evolution. I felt similar to you when I was a Christian as well, but of course things have changed for me so that I can now understand how it would be to live in a world in which you do not think there is a God. But please, ask any question you want if it will help you know how and what I think.

The fact that something exists now means that something always existed! This is a song I wrote:

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibewa2G25yc

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The fact that something exists now means that something always existed!

No, if I draw a triangle, that specific drawing did not exist before I made it. You can argue aspects of it existed beforehand, but not the token we have at hand.

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Well, at least the chain of causes would have to be eternal, unless it really is possible for something to come from nothing.

 

Is that logical, though? Because my logic tells me that nothing in our world is eternal, and that everything we know has a beginning and an end.

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No, if I draw a triangle, that specific drawing did not exist before I made it. You can argue aspects of it existed beforehand, but not the token we have at hand.
The triangle didn't but you did, before you created it. So you prove my point and make my case!

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The triangle didn't but you did, before you created it. So you prove my point and make my case!

My apologies, I thought you meant the same something. If you mean different somethings, then it is much less controversial. Thanks for the clarification.

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