Being "Led" by God
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25-10-2012, 12:47 PM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2012 12:52 PM by onedream.)
Being "Led" by God
I'm new to the journey here. I recently began exploring all of the evidence FOR and Against God for myself.

I've spent over 20 years as a Christian. I'm currently in Christian radio. But I'm teetering on Deism at this point. Who knows if that will lead to atheism or not?

Here's part of what is keeping me from being an atheist: I have so many times when it appears that God comes through and provides EXACTLY what I need WHEN I need it. And...it seems like I'll regularly say a prayer and BANG it gets answered in a really uncanny way.

For instance: I went to a garage sale last Saturday. And I started talking to the couple running the garage sale. It turned out that they were doing the garage sale to raise money for a ministry they run for people who are in prison. Well, the more I heard, the more I liked. And I decided I wanted to put them on my Christian radio show as a feature ministry.

When I said that, his eyes lit up. And he said "I was just praying last night and asking God how he was going to help us get the word out that we needed support for this ministry. And I felt him say 'Don't promote yourself. I'll bring the promotion TO YOU."

It appeared to be a "divine appointment."

I've had lots of stuff happen like this too. Where I'll get a feeling or a strong sense of "Knowing" that God has said something to me. It's not a voice. It's just a feeling. Or a STRONG thought. And when it happens, I recognize it as not being something that I'm just "whipping up" myself.

Does this happen to atheists or people in religions besides Christianity? I've got to know.
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25-10-2012, 12:52 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
(25-10-2012 12:47 PM)onedream Wrote:  Does this happen to atheists or people in religions besides Christianity? I've got to know.

Yes. Every religion claims that this happens. Just ask any Muslim.

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25-10-2012, 01:01 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
How about all the times "god" ignored requests? Many of those requests were of a much greater need. I guess when you have parents of dying children begging you for mercy it's easy to get turned around and think, hey, this group needs some cash.

I do not find people in a ministry appealing to their god for help particularly strange and them running into another Christian less strange still. Had they not mentioned it, you would not know about it. Hey may not have promoted it but he certainly was getting the message out. Coincidences happen.

" Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous."
David Hume
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25-10-2012, 01:13 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
kingschosen gave the best answer, short and sweet. Every religious person feels the same way, and if you believe your belief is not compatible with theirs then you gotta ask what is really happening. I do not have a beleif in your God but even if I beleived that he does exist I would certainly not beleive that my trivial everyday mundane problems, among all of the universes problems in all of its time, is important enough for God to say...whats that? You down there don't have a guest for a show? No problemo, I got this. Additionally KidCharlemagne (Damn two KC's) makes an excellent argument as well.

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25-10-2012, 01:13 PM
RE: Being "Lead" by God
Hi onedream,

Welcome to the forum. Smile

One thing that I believe about religion is that people in it tend to notice the things that fit well and not the ones that don't. (As a former Catholic, I've been there and done that myself.) I'd be willing to bet that there are also plenty of times you pray for something and nothing resembling an answer ever happens. But when, just by coincidence, something does happen that seems like an answer - especially when it happens soon after praying - it's very easy to conclude that it resulted from praying.

My suggestion would be to pick something besides God to ask - I don't know, a statue or a tree or an animal. Whatever suits you. If you fear being blasphemous, don't pray to it, but just ask it. But don't pray to God so there is no doubt. Then look and see if your wish is granted. I think you will find that sometimes it is, but you know a statue, tree, or animal couldn't have granted it to you.

In answer to your last question, the feeling of God's influence used to happen to me when I was a Catholic. After I left Catholicism, I then went through a period of exploration regarding religions and didn't know exactly what I believed. During that time, I had moments where things still seemed to fall into place too easily at times as though they were meant to be and it contributed to lingering doubts about becoming an atheist. After that, I went through a period where I just got so busy in my life that I mostly forgot about religion. It just wasn't important enough to focus on anymore and from that point to now I no longer get those feelings of supernatural intervention.

Recently, I returned to the subject of religion and found I am now more comfortable than ever in my atheism. But it takes a lot of time for all the years of religious programming to leave your system (at least it did with me). In fact, to this day, I still occasionally look up at a beautiful sunset and get a feeling like God is present. But I believe this to be the association my mind had made for so many years still lingering (as well as just the awe factor of the scene). On a logical level, there is no doubt in my mind that no god exists.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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25-10-2012, 01:14 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
Confirmation bias. Humans are pattern-seeking animals, so they tend to ignore it when they don't see a pattern, and when they can see a pattern (real or not), they remember it and place meaning and value on it, and they interpret it to fit into their preconceived notions. That's why a theist and an atheist can experience the same thing and interpret it in vastly different ways sometimes.

I would imagine that, if you were an atheist and the same things and feelings happened, you'd just attribute it to something else, rather than using a religious explanation.
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25-10-2012, 01:23 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
Hello onedream, and welcom to TTA.

As someone who was also considered in the faith for 20 years, I see where you are coming from. I would often attempt prayer for certain things, and when it seemed to work I would be quite thankful. When it didn't I would try and ascert blame to someone/something else. Eventually a knowledge that was always in the back of my head crawled its way forward, and I came to complete realization, that when prayer "worked," it was a combination of my choices/work and coincidence of other people's choices/work. For instance, when I wanted to get into college, part of me prayed for the acceptance letter, and when I got it, I knew it wasn't because I prayed, but because I met the college's requirements for me to be accepted ( good grades and guaranteed loands Tongue )

But that was for me. Ask yourself this, if more times than not, you and pray and it works out; why not the same for other people who have similar faith to you, and are maybe stronger in their conviction? What about people who's prayers are "answered" by a different deity? Why are you so special? Why would any one person be special to get their prayers answered and not others?

The idea that one deity exists over any others is one of the most improbable claims a person can make for a few reasons: (Note, just my own thoughts on how this plays out)
1. You have to make the claim that a higher power/supreme being/god/deity exists. (I would like to say wih evidence, but if that was the case than we would believe in said deity wouldn't we)
2. You have to claim that a specific deity exists (in your case we will say God).
3. You have to claim that the other deities do not exist, which have as much "evidience" for their deity as you do yours. (majority of religion's deities claim that they are true, making all others false)
4. In making the third point, you now admit possibility that your deity (God) does not exist. But considering the Bible's teachings and instructions, to make such a claim is absurd, heresy, and blasphemy. Nonetheless, whether one wants to admit it or not, the possibility is there.

Now you arrive at a muddled fork in the logical road. Do you ignore the logic and evidence that opposes your belief or do you move continue on with your thinking for whatever reason? I am not here to tell any one person any of the 5 W's on beliving in something. But for myself, i find it pompus and arrogant that someone/something is looking out for any one person when there is without a doubt a whole multitude of people who could use it more.

As far as that voice... most people call it a conscience. Part of our evolution. We are able to rationalize beyond the basic instincts of survival.

Hope this helps to some extent, know that nothing i mention here is meant with any malcontent or grudge. Just honest opinion.

And yet another interesting topic I am not interested in.
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25-10-2012, 01:36 PM
RE: Being "Led" by God
Why would god answer that couple's prayer to raise cash, but not answer the equally sincere prayer of a young boy praying to god to make his father stop coming home drunk and beating him and his mother, his prayers for someone to come and take him away, to someplace safe. Why are his prayers ignored, but the prayers of a couple of undoubtedly very nice, but not particularly needy middle-class adults are answered?


There are three answers.
1. God is a sadist
2. God doesn't answer prayers
3. There is no god

E 2 = (mc 2)2 + (pc )2
614C → 714N + e + ̅νe
2 K(s) + 2 H2O(l) → 2 KOH(aq) + H2 (g) + 196 kJ/mol
It works, bitches.
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25-10-2012, 02:03 PM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2012 02:24 PM by Aseptic Skeptic.)
RE: Being "Led" by God
Amyb said "humans are pattern seeking animals". We had to be. Even if you reject evolution, seeking patterns has allowed us to rise to heights of civilization and conquer our environment. Egyptians (and all other civilizations with major rivers) needed to know when the Nile would flood and when it would not - seasonal flooding happens every year and crops need to be planted and harvested between floods rather than during them. All over the world, farming relies on observing seasons, weather patterns, etc. - get it right and you have food to eat all winter, but get it wrong and you may starve to death. Incidentally, it was not necessary to keep track of when the rivers didn't flood, so our ancestors learned to track events that matter and ignore irrelevant non-events.

Those of our ancestors who were good at it survived and bred children who shared this capacity. Those who were bad at it starved and didn't breed children who were bad at it. (that's simplified, but basically that's how it works).

This is why YOU, today, are good at recognizing patterns - your ancestors needed that skill to survive and they were good at it so you are, too. It's also why your brain really doesn't keep track of the non-events that don't fit into observable patterns.

So you pray for stuff, and sometimes that stuff comes true, and your pattern-recognizing brain jumps all over it and sees the pattern and forms the opinion that prayer works. But when you pray for stuff and sometimes nothing happens at all, your pattern-recognizing brain ignores that because it doesn't fit into any pattern and is treated as inconsequential.

Perfectly normal.

For example, I'm an atheist, I was born that way and never attended church even one day of my life. Just last week my sprinkler system stopped working. I still don't know why. I specifically told several people that my lawn was getting a big brown and I sure hope it rains soon because I am going to have to wait a couple paychecks to fix that. This week it has rained an unusual amount for this area at this time of year. Now, it's easy for my pattern-recognizing brain to say "Wow, I talked to my friends and it came true." In fact, there have been other events in my life where I talked to my friends and stuff came true.

But, there is a cause-and-effect relationship that I have to consider. My friends certainly did not cause it to rain. I can clearly understand that. So there is a pattern here, and my brain likes the pattern, but my rational mind rejects it as extremely unlikely to be a plausible expression of reality.

However, this is not possible with God. He is a supernatural magical being. So if I had told God I wanted rain, and then it rained, I would not be able to reject that because supernatural magical god supposedly COULD make it rain, so it would fit the pattern and be believable to my pattern-recognizing mind. Assuming, of course, that I believed in God, which I don't, but this is how it works for people who believe in God - any pattern that links a prayer to a normal event that could have and would have happened without God's intervention still gets credited to God because he's so supernatural and so magical that he can do anything and the believer accepts that he does do everything, so all coincidences get attributed to God's Will.

Back to your garage sale, you would have gone to that sale regardless of whether that guy prayed or not. I'm betting this was not your first yard sale. I'm further betting that you heard no Godly voice in your head leading you right to that sale, saw no stars in the eastern sky leading you there, etc. You just happened to want to browse a garage sale and that guy happened to pray for a means to get his word out. I suspect he prays for lots of things and that this was just one prayer out of thousands, or millions. Probably not that big a surprise that he prayed for this. And this visit to a random garage sale was probably also not unusual for you and not that big a surprise that you were at a garage sale.

Could it have been God guiding you there? Maybe. Could it have just been a coincidence, like when I wanted rain and it rained? Definitely.

So, we know it could DEFINITELY be a coincidence and could only MAYBE be God (even if God turns out to be real, He might not have deliberately intervened in your Free Will by forcing you to go there, so it could have still been a coincidence). Since we know this, there is no reason to attribute magic, supernatural forces, God, or any other outside influence to what was more likely to just be a coincidence - except that pattern-recognizing part of your brain really wants to, and is designed to, and has evolved to do so.

And finally, I might suggest one more thing: You, at some level, deep down, aren't sure you believe in God. That was easy, because you have admitted as much on this same thread. But what I want to suggest is that you have had those same doubts for a very long time, probably longer than you realize. You have always been looking for proof, "seeking" God, trying to find something that can prove your deep-down internal doubts. That pattern-recognition part of your brain has been feeding you all kinds of God patterns for all of your life, comforting you by falsely confirming your own bias ("God exists and he loves me and guides me and takes care of me") whenever it can.

Recently, the rational part of your brain has started to reject this false comfort. It's not quite so blindly, gullibly, accepting that all these God patterns are true. I am quite certain that when you said in your first post on this thread "I've got to know." that this was your cry for help, your mind realizing that your comfort system is fading away and trying to reach out for a new one, a real one: the comfort of knowing that you are not alone and that other people, lots of people, have exactly the same experiences and, like you, recognize that there is an alternative explanation that is better and more real than "God did it".

That's why your faith is slipping - not because of new doubts, but because of new acceptance that the same old false comfort isn't so comforting any more and those old doubts are not being swept away by the false comfort like they used to be.

Please let me know if I've read you wrong.

Awareness is the first step - be aware that your mind is building patterns that aren't really there.
Honesty is the second step - recognize the doubts that you have always had and stop burying them with false comfort.
Reality is the third step - take the first two and the third will happen automatically.

I think you're well on the way to reality.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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25-10-2012, 02:07 PM
RE: Being "Lead" by God
(25-10-2012 01:13 PM)Impulse Wrote:  Hi onedream,


In answer to your last question, the feeling of God's influence used to happen to me when I was a Catholic. After I left Catholicism, I then went through a period of exploration regarding religions and didn't know exactly what I believed. During that time, I had moments where things still seemed to fall into place too easily at times as though they were meant to be and it contributed to lingering doubts about becoming an atheist. After that, I went through a period where I just got so busy in my life that I mostly forgot about religion. It just wasn't important enough to focus on anymore and from that point to n[undefined=undefined][undefined=undefined]ow I no longer get those feelings of supernatural intervention. [/undefined][/undefined]

Thanks for the welcome! Have you ever feared that the reason you don't feel those moments of supernatural influence is because "You've shut God out?"

Not trying to argue. Remember, I'm learning as I go here.
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