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    Question If God wants us to follow him ...

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    An atheist friend put this argument to me a while ago:

    " If what you say is true, and God is real, and he knows me because he has willed me to be ... then he must know that I am an atheist and all my reasons for being an atheist.
    If what you say is true, and God is loving and wants what's best for me, and if what's best for me is to follow God ... then God should want me to become a follower of his. Since he knows what's hindering me from becoming a follower, he should also know what to do or which 'buttons to push' to make me a follower.
    If what you say is true, and God is all-powerful, then he should be able to put the right things in place to make me believe.

    In the meantime I am happy to wait and see if God decides to move in on me"


    I am mentioning this conversation here, because it occurs to me that (apart from the atheist element) the argument is not unlike one I have used here in the LI forum with Muslim friends before:
    "If God wanted me to become a Muslim, he would be more than able to guide me in such a way. I am willing and prepared to follow him whereven he leads me."

    What do people make of the above argument?
    I would love to hear the views of people from different religions and none.

    Peace
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Peace
    glo

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]


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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    I think it creates a god with a particular set of character traits -- powerful, coveting worship, manipulative, and imposing -- I don't think that this sort of character is what we see with regard to the nature of God in either Christianity or Islam, so I think people who are waiting for such a forceful hand will ultimately have a long wait. God pricks our conscience to awaken us to his reality, and that people have moral values at all tells me that he has pricked everyone to at least a degree (otherwise we would all be as ammoral as an amoeba), but he leaves the choice of how to seek and respond to his consciousness awakening largely in our own hands. To do any different would be to violate his own character, and I don't see him doing that.
    Last edited by Grace Seeker; 02-12-2009 at 09:41 AM. Reason: spelling

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Grace Seeker View Post
    God pricks our conscience to awaken us to his reality, and that people have moral values at all tells me that he has priced everyone to at least a degree (otherwise we would all be as ammoral as an amoeba), but he leaves the choice of how to seek and respond to his consciousness awakening largely in our own hands. To do any different would be to violate his own character, and I don't see him doing that.
    Thank you for your reply, Grace Seeker.

    I understand what you are saying about God's character and the free will we have to make our own choices.

    Yet you hear from people who have had very powerful experiences of (what they came to believe to be) God working in their lives.
    Sometimes this seems to be at moment in people's lives, when they perhaps were more receptive to God's presence - perhaps at moments of worry, trouble and pain.
    Other accounts seems to come completely out of the blue, without being asked for or sought.

    The conversion of Saul seems a good example of the latter. He seems a very unlikely candidate to have wished to change his view of God. Seems like God didn't give him all that much choice in the matter ...

    Peace
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Peace
    glo

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]


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    glo's Avatar
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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha Dude View Post
    IMO, if your atheist friend really is prepared to follow where Allah would lead, then he/she has to at the very least make an earnest plea to Allah - i.e. ask Allah for guidance. If your friend were to do that sincerely, then I have no doubt at all that Allah would bestow guidance.

    If your friend didn't ask in that manner, when it is within your friend's capability, then God can't be blamed for your friend's faithlessness.
    As a theist I understand you point, Alpha Dude.

    But how can an atheist - who lacks the belief in God in the first place - make that shift to 'sincerely ask for God's guidance'?
    How do you sincerely ask for something you don't believe to be real??

    It must be in God's mercy that he makes allowances for people a fail to/seem unable to believe in him ...

    Peace
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Peace
    glo

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]


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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha Dude View Post

    The want has to be there. The keenness to find answers has to be there. It can't be a case of your friend arrogantly holding the position that God does not exist at all already, before even trying to find him, cos that would go against 'being willing and prepared to follow'. An open mind must be had, when wanting to be lead.
    As an omnipotent, omniscient and entity God must ultimately be responsible for the character traits, wants, arrogance or keenness, and experiences that lead to certain decisions, even if He is not responsible for the decisions themselves (and I find the case for that unconvincing enough). As an omnibenevolent entity, he should indeed be supplying the required circumstances and characteristics even if any actual decision is free.

    The argument is a convincing one; certainly rather more convincing than any of the responses to it that I've seen.

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Allah decides what's good or not, he is beyond good and bad, this sort of binary simplicity isn't appropriate when discussing a being beyond comprehension let alone 'worldly' affairs. he is benevolent, but it cannot be understood by humans, we don't see all time spaces, thus we don't know what constitutes good or bad ultimately. mainly it could be said we object to 'evil' since it potentially harms 'us', not from any so called 'altruistic' or similar romantic values, the only reason the self 'exists/lives' is for itself.

    should and would don't work either, he is what he is, not how we envision/want him to be.
    we cannot know how he is, rather he has given free will, and sent prophets, it's up to us to follow or not. there is never an out of the blue conversion, nor a single measurable moment when someone turns from a belief to another. like all processes it's gradual, naturally, the critical point differs from person to person.

    on another note, Newtonian-mechanistic- atheism has been disqualified so long ago, I'm surprised it's still advocated and held as a viable belief. it doesn't take much more than the uncertainty principle to see it's flaws..
    Last edited by alcurad; 02-12-2009 at 09:12 AM.
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    ” إن الأمة التي تحسن صناعة الموت توهب لها الحياة”

    正直・・・微妙

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    god creates a mean to follow him. take for example if your playing chess against an opponent, your going to use the rules and regulations of the game to win right? your not going to take out a gun to shoot your opponent to win right? similarly god uses the means of this world to guide us. we can relate to other human beings and he selected the best of them ( the prophets) to reveal himself to them and called them to guide others to the correct path. of course god can reveal himself to anyone and everyone but then whats the point of free will? god created human beings above all his other creations because we have free will unlike the angels who constantly worship him.

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Trumble View Post
    As an omnipotent, omniscient and entity God must ultimately be responsible for the character traits, wants, arrogance or keenness, and experiences that lead to certain decisions, even if He is not responsible for the decisions themselves (and I find the case for that unconvincing enough). As an omnibenevolent entity, he should indeed be supplying the required circumstances and characteristics even if any actual decision is free.

    The argument is a convincing one; certainly rather more convincing than any of the responses to it that I've seen.
    But did you notice that I dispute the assumption of omnipotence as most people conceive of it. God can't just do any and everything that he might want, because that in itself is a negation of who and what he actually is. Though God is sovereign, he himself limited his power in creating mankind with freewill to accept or reject the wooing that God does. For God to then force himself upon a person would be to violate himself by turning mankind into a different sort of creation (more like that of a puppet) than he made him to be.



    Quote Originally Posted by glo View Post
    Thank you for your reply, Grace Seeker.

    I understand what you are saying about God's character and the free will we have to make our own choices.

    Yet you hear from people who have had very powerful experiences of (what they came to believe to be) God working in their lives.
    Sometimes this seems to be at moment in people's lives, when they perhaps were more receptive to God's presence - perhaps at moments of worry, trouble and pain.
    Other accounts seems to come completely out of the blue, without being asked for or sought.

    The conversion of Saul seems a good example of the latter. He seems a very unlikely candidate to have wished to change his view of God. Seems like God didn't give him all that much choice in the matter ...

    Peace
    The stories you cite seem to be the exception, not the rule. One is able to come up with perhaps a handful of them over how many thousand years of human history. But even then, I don't see God actually forcing anyone's hand.

    Take a couple more blatant ones that you didn't mention -- I suppose because it goes the other way -- the hardening of Pharoah's heart or of Judas in the position of traitor. Even these instances are not ones where God cast the mold for that person's future. Rather, he saw what was in them, the choices they were already inclined toward of their own volition, and magnified the result of those choices in their lives.

    I think this is exactly what happened with Paul as well. Here was someone on fire to do something for God, unforunately his knowledge of God was limited to just what he had read. So, God set him up with a personal one-on-one encounter and let Paul's on heart make the decision as to how he would respond to it.

    I heard former President Clinton say something interesting today as he was reflecting on President Abraham Lincoln. He said that 90% of life is not what happens to us, but how we choose to respond to what happens. Doesn't that address your question?

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by glo View Post

    ...But how can an atheist - who lacks the belief in God in the first place - make that shift to 'sincerely ask for God's guidance'?
    How do you sincerely ask for something you don't believe to be real??
    Peace
    atheists do have gods, they just make a habit of denying that.

    and grace, "For God to then force himself upon a person would be to violate himself by turning mankind into a different sort of creation (more like that of a puppet) than he made him to be."
    Last edited by alcurad; 02-12-2009 at 09:45 AM.
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    ” إن الأمة التي تحسن صناعة الموت توهب لها الحياة”

    正直・・・微妙

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by alcurad View Post
    A

    on another note, Newtonian-mechanistic- atheism has been disqualified so long ago, I'm surprised it's still advocated and held as a viable belief. it doesn't take much more than the uncertainty principle to see it's flaws..
    What is 'Newtonian-mechanistic-atheism', and how do you believe it (or it's 'disqualification') to be relevant? The issues, or two of them here, are free will, determinism and predestination; debates originating long before Newton (take the Stoics and Epicurans, for example). All theories on that subject are'flawed', which is why the issue is still being discussed after 2,000 years or so. Quantum mechanics doesn't help; one interpretation even 'believes' quantum mechanics to be deterministic and Newtonian mechanics indeterministic! Even if you accept it as indeterministic, 'free will' is no better off, 'decisions' (if you assume they are made dependent on quantum events) become merely chance events. It's irrelevant in this context anyway; if you assume there is a God he must have both designed the uncertainty principle and be aware of every possible event it was, is, or will be responsible for.
    Last edited by Trumble; 02-12-2009 at 10:10 AM.

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by alcurad View Post
    and grace, "For God to then force himself upon a person would be to violate himself by turning mankind into a different sort of creation (more like that of a puppet) than he made him to be."
    Having just read that line again in your post rather than mine, I see something else.

    "For God to then force himself upon a person...."

    Of whom else in this world do we use such language? The only category of person I can think of that we describe as "forcing himself" on another is a rapist. How unlike God to be some sort of spiritual rapist forcing his affections on someone who does not want them. That isn't love. And, above all things, as a Christian, I recognize that God is love. Therefore God cannot do what the questioner proposes and still be the God who he is. It is like asking why did God make the sky green and the grass blue, it is a nonsense question asked only by people who haven't taken the time to observe the true nature of the world that God actually created and are living with a false view of what is and is not.

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Grace Seeker View Post
    He said that 90% of life is not what happens to us, but how we choose to respond to what happens. Doesn't that address your question?
    Yes, that's worth digesting carefully!
    Thank you
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Peace
    glo

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]


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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by glo View Post
    An atheist friend put this argument to me a while ago:

    " If what you say is true, and God is real, and he knows me because he has willed me to be ... then he must know that I am an atheist and all my reasons for being an atheist.
    If what you say is true, and God is loving and wants what's best for me, and if what's best for me is to follow God ... then God should want me to become a follower of his. Since he knows what's hindering me from becoming a follower, he should also know what to do or which 'buttons to push' to make me a follower.
    If what you say is true, and God is all-powerful, then he should be able to put the right things in place to make me believe.

    In the meantime I am happy to wait and see if God decides to move in on me"


    I am mentioning this conversation here, because it occurs to me that (apart from the atheist element) the argument is not unlike one I have used here in the LI forum with Muslim friends before:
    "If God wanted me to become a Muslim, he would be more than able to guide me in such a way. I am willing and prepared to follow him whereven he leads me."

    What do people make of the above argument?
    I would love to hear the views of people from different religions and none.

    Peace

    Are you saying Allah hasn't guided you to Islam while posting this on an ISLAMIC forum????

    It truth, no matter how much some people would like to characterize themselves as truly "truth seeking", they are not. Their own desires blind them.

    A man who adores the idea of blood atonement but refuses to question it's scriptural basis is not truth seeking. A man who bases belief on firm scriptural evidence along with a desire to know Allah is the real truth seeker.


    You have been here long enough to form barriers against Islam in your mind. Only you stand in the way of yourself becoming Muslim.


    On a side note:

    I find it ironic that you have this under your post.

    "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
    See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. "

    And yet you don't extend this same principle to the Bible. When debates show flaws or inconsistencies in the Bible, you cast them aside as irrelevant yet earnestly hope for God's guidance.

    This strikes me as quite the paradox.
    Last edited by AntiKarateKid; 02-12-2009 at 06:44 PM.
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Even Satan believes in Allah.

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Grace Seeker View Post
    Take a couple more blatant ones that you didn't mention -- I suppose because it goes the other way -- the hardening of Pharoah's heart or of Judas in the position of traitor. Even these instances are not ones where God cast the mold for that person's future. Rather, he saw what was in them, the choices they were already inclined toward of their own volition, and magnified the result of those choices in their lives.
    If I know my atheist friend at all, he would counter-argue that when God (if he existed) created Pharao and Judas he made them with those characteristics which made them be hard-hearted and become a traitor.

    I had some time to ponder this whilst I was gently stirring a white sauce until it reached boiling point ... and I came to the conclusion that this takes us to (what some people refer to as) the nature-vs-nurture-debate.

    Clearly there are some properties we are born with and which are beyond our own influence - our intellect almost certainly, and perhaps some personality traits too.
    Isn't the question to which extend who we are is determined before we are even born, and to which extend we can influence how we react and what we become?

    Peace
    Last edited by glo; 02-12-2009 at 09:15 PM. Reason: typo
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Peace
    glo

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]


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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by AntiKarateKid View Post
    You have been here long enough to form barriers against Islam in your mind. Only you stand in the way of yourself becoming Muslim.


    On a side note:

    I find it ironic that you have this under your post.

    "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
    See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. "

    And yet you don't extend this same principle to the Bible. When debates show flaws or inconsistencies in the Bible, you cast them aside as irrelevant yet earnestly hope for God's guidance.

    This strikes me as quite the paradox.
    I have to disagree with you, AntiKarateKid.
    On the contrary, during the time I have spent here in LI, I have removed many misconceptions I had about Islam.
    But he barriers which remain seem indeed unsurmountable.

    However, I am not worried. I firmly believe in God's guidance and in his presence in my life.

    I can sense your frustration when people remain unconvinced by the many arguments for Islam, which are presented in this forum.

    You may question my sincerity in seeking God, but - with all due respect - it is not for you to pass judgement on that.

    May God lead us all on the right path, and may we all keep our hearts wide open to his loving guidance.

    Peace
    Last edited by glo; 02-12-2009 at 09:18 PM.
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Peace
    glo

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]


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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by glo View Post
    I have to disagree with you, AntiKarateKid.
    On the contrary, during the time I have spent here in LI, I have removed many misconceptions I had about Islam.
    But he barriers which remain seem indeed unsurmountable.

    However, I am not worried. I firmly believe in God's guidance and in his presence in my life.

    I can sense your frustration when people remain unconvinced by the many arguments for Islam, which are presented in this forum.

    You may question my sincerity in seeking God, but - with all due respect - it is not for you to pass judgement on that.

    May God lead us all on the right path, and may we all keep our hearts wide open to his loving guidance.

    Peace

    I understand where youare coming from but don't you get uncomfortable when someone brings up an argument against the Bible and youdont have an answer to it?

    Perhaps that question was a way of God guiding you. But to insist that you have a firm belief in God's presence yet dismiss the questions that arise in your faith, brings some.... awkwardness into your relationship with God doesnt it?
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Even Satan believes in Allah.

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    If I may interject into the middle of your conversation:
    Quote Originally Posted by AntiKarateKid View Post
    I understand where youare coming from but don't you get uncomfortable when someone brings up an argument against the Bible and youdont have an answer to it?
    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on the nature of the question.

    I freely admit that there are somethings I don't know. Somethings I don't expect to ever know in this life. And somethings I don't know that I feel I should have a better answer for than I do.

    Rarely are the set of questions posed by those who are actually trying to attack the faith the questions that keep me awake at night. More often the difficult questions are those posed by other Christians seeking to more deeply explore it.

    There are questions about all faiths and those who lack any faith that remain unanswered for me. But despite the questions I may have, the Christian response, even if not perfect in every detail, remains the most convincing to me.

    How would you respond if that question was reversed and put to you with regard to Islam?
    Last edited by Grace Seeker; 02-13-2009 at 01:41 AM. Reason: improved clarity

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Grace Seeker View Post
    If I may interject into the middle of your conversation:

    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on the nature of the question.

    I freely admit that there are somethings I don't know. Something I don't expect to ever know in this life. And somethings I don't know that I feel I should have a better answer for than I do.

    Rarely are the set of questions posed by those who are actually trying to attack the faith, more often they are posed by other Christians seeking to more deeply explore it.

    There are questions about all faiths and those who lack any faith that remain unanswered for me. But despite the questions I may have, the Christian response, even if not perfect in every detail, remains the most convincing to me.

    How would you respond if that question was reversed and put to you with regard to Islam?
    Personally, I get distressed when I dont understand something about Islam and try as much as humanly possible to get an answer. Otherwise, the Islamic response has been the most convincing tome. Perfect book. Easy to follow. And a plethora of reliable information.
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Even Satan believes in Allah.

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Grace Seeker View Post
    the Christian response, even if not perfect in every detail, remains the most convincing to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by AntiKarateKid View Post
    the Islamic response has been the most convincing to me.
    Hence our respective faiths.



    Quote Originally Posted by AntiKarateKid View Post
    Personally, I get distressed when I dont understand something about Islam and try as much as humanly possible to get an answer.
    I can understand that. I just suppose that life experience has tempered some of the angst I used to feel and really since I feel secure in the central core of my faith, the peripheral questions don't seem significant enough to get all that distressed over them.

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    Re: If God wants us to follow him ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Grace Seeker View Post
    Hence our respective faiths.



    I can understand that. I just suppose that life experience has tempered some of the angst I used to feel and really since I feel secure in the central core of my faith, the peripheral questions don't seem significant enough to get all that distressed over them.
    But just because we are convinced by our respective faiths doesnt change the fact that one of is is right and one is wrong.

    We both can put forward the reasons and arguments behind why we are convinced by our respective faiths and see which stands up to the test.

    Our appreciation for our religion should not lie in an isolated vacuum. God has put forth truth, and we should understand why our religion is better than all others.
    If God wants us to follow him ...

    Even Satan believes in Allah.

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