WHO WAS         
         I KIDDING ?
I'VE HEARD IT SAID the reason people
  get hostile when their religion is
  questioned is because they are not
truly settled in what they believe; they're
not at peace with themselves.   That
applied to me, as I blew off the Bible
thumper.   I thought I was pretty secure
on where I stood.
   But after three hours of ‘alternative
rationales,’
I had developed some
doubts.   As a scientist, that bothered me.
But I couldn't snap out of it.   I couldn't
stabilize or; reason myself back to
health.   Both sides of the argument kept
swinging back and forth like a pendulum,
bringing with it emotional highs and
lows.
   Yes, I'd feel like a kid sometimes,
entertaining ‘What ifs,’ with speculative
abandonment.   But then the rational,
logical scientist in me would remind me
of ‘the facts’ as science knows them.
   So after several swings of the
pendulum, it was time to climb off.   I
needed help.   But what kind?   The idea of
visiting a shrink left my mind faster than
it popped in.   I was a scientist, we don't
need shrinks.   We are logical, rational,
and objective members of the human
race.   We don't know the meaning of
uncertainty.   (So why was I so
indecisive?)   Perhaps I simply needed
someone to sit me down and slap some
reason back into me.   And as I mulled it
over, I realized who would make the
perfect ‘slapper.’
   I rushed to the campus library and
began asking around, and in no time
found a local chapter of the only
organization that could help me.   I made
a phone call, jumped in the car, and
twenty minutes later, I was knocking on
the door of a Freethinker . . . !

Mr. Piston, I'm always glad to see people interested in joining our freethought
      organization."

   "Well, actually, I'm not here to join your-- "
   "Oh, then perhaps you wish to join the Freedom from Religion Foundation?"
   I shook my head.
   "The American Humanist Association?"
   "No.   I just wanted--"
   "The Libertarian party?"
   "I never realized all these organizations are made up of freethinkers," I said.
   "Mr. Piston, when one carefully examines all theistic arguments, atheism remains the
only rational position.   Would you care for a Coke; a drink perhaps?"

   "No, thanks."
   He pulled out a pipe and began to light it.   He said, "A freethinker is a person who
forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independent of tradition,
authority, or established beliefs."

   "I know what a freethinker is, and I'm not really religious," I said, wondering if I had
made a mistake.
   "Oh?   But you said on the phone that you were afraid that you might start believing
in God."

   "That wasn't exactly what I--"
   "Then why exactly are you here?"   He had the pipe going by now, puffing clouds of
smoke into the air.   "I hope you don't mind," he said, after the fact.
   "No, go ahead.   It's your house."   I chose my words carefully.   "I guess I'm here
because I spent three hours debating the natural vs. the supernatural, and-- I'm
embarrassed to admit--I'm not as sure about it as I thought."

   "And what do you want from me?" he said.
   "I wanted to talk to someone known for their rational thinking, someone unbiased,
someone who could--"

   "I think I know what you're trying to say.   As head of this local chapter I see it all the
time--victims of religion, the scorn that claws its way into nonrational and rational alike.
Religion is most detrimental; it hinders a person's life by dangling the false prospects of
an after-life.   It sacrifices honesty at the expense of a childish lie.   Think, Mr. Piston!   Think
of all the time, money, and human resources that is diverted from the improvement of
this world--the only world that truly exists.   Religion has always been a tyrant's tool,
choking the freedom of millions--"

   "That's nice, but I simply wanted to hear your reasoning on the existence of God."
   "Nonexistence!   Mr. Piston-- as you will soon agree."   He drew from his pipe again.
"But before I begin I want to set the ground rules for my line of reasoning.   Reason is a
tool of critical thought that limits the truth of a statement according to the strict tests
of the scientific method--"

   (I looked at my watch)
   "--For a statement to be considered true, it must be testable.   That is to say, what
evidence or repeatable experiments confirm it?"

   "Okay," I said, jumping in edge wise, "my first question is--"
   He continued.   "The statement must be falsifiable.   What, in theory, would disconfirm
it, and have all attempts to disprove it failed? --"

   I tied my shoes, wondering if I should have sought help
from the Elks, instead.
   "--The statement must be parsimonious.   Is it the
simplest explanation, requiring the fewest assumptions?
And finally--are you listening, Mr. Piston?--"

   "Of course!"
   "-- Finally, the statement must be logical.   Is it free of
contradictions, non sequiturs, or irrelevant ad hominem
character attacks?   Did you catch all that, or must I repeat
myself?"

   "Oh, please don't.   Can I ask something now?"
   "Go ahead.   You sure you don't want something to
drink?"

   "A couple days ago, I was first hit with the challenge of
proving that there is no God.   Naturally that being an
absolute negative, I couldn't, with complete assurance,--"

   "Mr. Piston, that is an old, and feeble attempt at
discrediting an atheist.   The challenge is irrelevant.   Atheists
claim that God is unproved, not disproved.   There is a big
difference there.   Do you see it Mr. Piston?"

   I sighed.   It made sense!   I felt I was regaining ground . . .
But then the pendulum swung the other way.
   "Ah . . . back up," I said, "If you consider it unproved
does that mean you are still open to the possibility of
God's existence-- providing someone does prove it?"

   "Of course not," he said, removing the pipe from his
mouth.   "How could someone prove something
unprovable?"

   "How do you know it's unprovable?   You said earlier, a
true statement must be falsifiable.   Yet all attempts to
disprove God's existence can never be tried!   You, yourself,
said atheists claim it's unproved not disproved.   There's a
difference there, do you see it, or is it me?"

   "Really, Mr. Piston, I am amused by your convoluted
logic.   But you're fighting yourself.   You are trying so hard
to believe in a deity that you are biasing yourself against
common sense."

   "I'm biasing myself?   I'm just trying to reason this out;
it's important to me--"

   "The fact is, the God-believer must make the case; the
burden of proof is on him.   Everyone else is justified in
refusing to believe until evidence is produced and
substantiated."

   "So why can't the God-believer be justified in refusing to
not believe until absolute evidence that God doesn't exist is
produced and substantiated?   See, this duality is what's got
me thinking--"

   "There is no duality; they're not the same thing!"
   I paused.   The phrase ‘not the same thing’ popped a red

flag in my head.   Maybe this guy wasn't as objective as I
thought.   Maybe no one is, when it comes right down to it.
   "With all due respect, sir, I think you have a double
standard."

   "Mr. Piston, I am a busy man.   Did you come here to
argue, or to learn and set your silly neurosis straight?"

   That did it!   No one had ever called my neurosis silly
before.
   "I came to learn something," I said.   "But I assumed you
wouldn't mind me thinking for myself.   After all, it's called
freethinking right?"

   He just puffed away.   "Is there anything else, Mr. Piston?"
   "Yeah."   I sat up straight.  "Some people claim that since
cultures have always believed in God, there must be some
truth to--"

   "Yes, yes, don't bother finishing."   He shifted his weight.
He was clearly getting bored.   "Mr. Piston, for centuries
people have used God to explain mysteries such as thunder
and lack of fertility, but the more we learned the fewer
gods we needed."

   "So why hasn't science completely eradicated God?"
   "Because there are still major ‘unknowns.’   And as long as
there are ignorant people fearing the unknown, there will
be gods.   However, replacing a ‘mystery’ with another
‘mystery’ does not answer a thing."

   "So, you're assuming that God couldn't ultimately be
behind the science?   I mean, does a natural explanation,
automatically exclude God from the picture?   Or are you
preconceiving that it has to be either nature or God, and
not possibly God overseeing the laws of nature?"

   "Piston, the universe is ‘all there is,’ god would have to
be part of ‘all there is.’  You can't separate them, and claim
that one is outside, overseeing the other."

   "But is God really a god if He's part of His own creation?
How could He have created Himself?   Why call him God
then?"

   "That's a mindless Ontological argument!" he said.
   "That may be."   (I had no idea what he said.)   "But the
fact is, you've constructed an argument based on limiting
Him to being part of the universe.   You have naturalized
God from the start, preventing Him from taking on a
supernatural--"

   "Okay, Mr. Piston we are wasting our time here.   You
obviously didn't come here seeking help; you came here to
dispute--"

   "No wait, I did come here to learn.   I really wanted to be
set straight, and I wanted it done in a purely analytical and
objective manner; one that left no doubts in my mind.   But,
from talking to you, I've realized something else.   I've

noticed a pattern," I said.   "You keep making assumptions
within a naturalistic mind set."

   "Of course, what else is there but the natural realm?"
   "But how do you know for sure?"   Things were clicking.
   "Because I can see it, touch it, interact with it!" he said.
   "Okay, then how can you believe ancient history?   You
can't see it, touch it, or interact with it!"

   "Don't be stupid, Piston.   We have records."
   "Fine, but we also have records of supernatural
phenomena."

   "But it's not the same!   Those ‘supernatural phenomena’
can always be explained naturalistically."

   "Even if that were absolutely true every time," I said,
"does that automatically exclude a supernatural agent
acting behind the natural explanation?   You are assuming
that if it doesn't exist within natural boundaries, it doesn't
exist at all.   But how do you know for sure?"

   "This is nonsense!"
   "Let me finish!" I said.   "You're biased!   By confining
your arguments to the physical realm, you're guaranteeing
that you will never get a supernatural answer!   But how can
you dogmatically say, there is absolutely nothing outside
the physical realm?"

   "You can't prove there is!" he said, "That's the bottom
line!"

   "And you can't prove there isn't!   The only ‘proofs’ you
keep offering are arguments framed with the built-in
assumption that ‘there isn't’ in the first place!"

   "It's not an assumption!"
   "Of course it is.   It has to be.   You don't have
ALL knowledge at your disposal!   YOU DON'T KNOW
EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING!   AT LEAST BE
INTELLECTUALLY HONEST ABOUT IT!
"

   "Please, Mr. Piston.   This is going nowhere.   I'm afraid
you are hopeless.   Perhaps your calling in life is to shave
your head and sell flowers at the airport.   Please leave
before I call the police."

   I stood up, and offered a hand shake.   "If it's any
consolation, you've helped greatly.   You've helped me
realize: why fight it?   Even you, with your ground rules of
reason, are as biased by your preconceptions as the
religious person.   I guess there is no way to objectively
prove God's status either way."

   He smirked.
   I continued anyway.   "The fact is, unless a person knows
everything about everything they should be open to the
possibility of anything.   That's the only ‘reasonable’ ground
rule that makes sense . . ."

IF you were to die today, are you 100% SURE
you would go to Heaven?
  The Bible says
YOU CAN BE SURE (1 John 5:13).

BUT FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you from going to Heaven are your sins, because:
"...your iniquities [sins] have separated between you and your God," Isaiah 59:2.
In fact, in God's eyes YOU ARE A SINNER: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23.

SECONDLY, you must realize that there is NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn Heaven: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."   Eph. 2:8-9   Baptism, good deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are all examples of good works that cannot save you, because: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he [Christ] saved us," Titus 3:5.

THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through Jesus Christ.   He said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."   (John 14:6)   THAT'S WHY: "...while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."   (Rom. 5:8-9)

THEREFORE: You must REPENT (change your mind); admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner and can't save yourself.   And call upon Christ, and Him alone, to save you.   "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [REPENT], and shalt believe in thine heart [TRUST] that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."   Romans 10:9

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