15 Questions for Theists


There are a lot of blog posts and articles out there with questions for atheists. However, there don’t seem to be very many posts with atheists asking questions of theists. So I decided I’d write up some questions for the theists out there.
1)How many gods are there? What are their names?
2)How do you know these gods (or this god) exists? Why do you believe they exist?
3)How do you think the universe began?
4)When do you think the universe began?
5)How do you think life began?
6)When do you think life began?
7)Is morality objective or subjective? How do you know, or why do you believe, this?
8)What do you think this god, or these gods, want from humans? Why?
9)What do humans mean to gods? What is our importance or significance?
10)Could they get whatever it is they want from humans without humans? Do they need whatever it is they created humans for? Why?
11)Could you conceive of a world where humans exist without need of a god? What would that world look like? Why would it look like that?
12)What do you believe to be the consequences of a world without god(s)?
13)Where does evil come from? What is the god(s) role in the existence of evil?
14)What makes one thing good and another thing bad? Do good and bad have the same source (ie. The same creator)? Or do they have different sources? What is the source of bad things (if it’s different from the source of good things)?
15)Why do you think your god(s) exists, but the other possible gods don’t? Why do you think I should believe in your god(s)?

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39 responses to “15 Questions for Theists

  • Interfaith Dialogue: The Art of the Awkward Question | Late Nite Philosophy

    […] that will be expansions on a comment I left with Hessian and WithTeeth’s blog post here: 15 Questions for Theists. I respect others who ask the awkward questions without […]

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  • Cynthia Mauleón

    Wow–excellent, thought-provoking questions. My mind is busy chewing.

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  • My Father and Your Father, My God and Your God | foundations of happiness

    […] to the last batch of questions for atheists posted by hessianWithTeeth. […]

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  • Life, the Universe, & Everything | foundations of happiness

    […] with my attempt at answering the 15 questions posed by hessianWithTeeth, and begging to good naturedly offer a different opinion than that of paidiske, let me tackle the […]

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  • Why do I believe God exists? | foundations of happiness

    […] that was too titillating to pass by without mentioning it and without responding to it. The post, 15 Questions for Theists, also had some fascinating comments and responses, most notably this one by […]

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  • kevinosborne99

    We each, as individual awareness, view into space created by a God, or Full Awareness, which is a personage that can be know. As we view we co-create with that personage a reality that consists of points in space that can be observed. That observation can be called consciousness. One is immediately aware of, focused upon, one of these viewpoints and has a general view of others that can be called reality. The human mind functions as a reality compiler and sifting agent.
    Since we co-create with this larger personage, there is no co-creation by individuals except as we choose to occupy each other’s space. This makes for an interesting experiment if you wish to open that door. Find a viewpoint that you disagree with, even mildly, and make yourself completely agree with it. Occupy that space..
    Religion or atheistic belief is a sort of attempt to occupy the same space, but generally by my observation does not accomplish it. As can be seen by groups of any kind who, when left alone and unthreatened, begin to attack each other’s viewpoint. One tends not to attack what one truly understands.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      You can’t really make yourself agree with something you disagree with. You can try to see things from the other person’s perspective, you can try to empathize with them, but that doesn’t mean you agree with them. To try and force yourself to believe something you don’t believe is to suppress what you do believe for the sake of pretending. If you do manage to believe something that you didn’t believe, then that simply means that your beliefs change. I’m not going to pretend to believe something that I don’t because you believe that I’m missing something. Present your evidence for why you are right and I am wrong. Give me a logical reason to believe your claim. Convince me. That is the only way I will change my beliefs.

      Liked by 1 person

  • 15 Questions for Theists « Paidiske

    […] in the interests of good dialogue and good will, I have undertaken here to answer their “15 questions for theists.”  I encourage anyone else who is also interested to do so.  And, while I’m on the […]

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  • The Bad Catholic

    Hello! Thank you! This is quite nice.

    1)How many gods are there? What are their names?
    I think there is one God, but may be worshiped in many aspects (or not at all, as personal preference permits). Judaism holds that the true Name of God is unpronounceable, and in the United States, the Council of Catholic Bishops has published guidelines and norms recommending that the use of the tetragrammaton should be similarly respected (for instance, not given vowels). Seems fair enough to me. As a Catholic, I believe that this one God has three persons, which I suppose one could call aspects– the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    2)How do you know these gods (or this god) exists? Why do you believe they exist?
    I don’t know for certain. I honestly believe that attempting to prove the existence of God is an exercise in futility. How does a single atom prove the existence of the person in which that atom exists? I believe because it is a source of comfort and community, and a worldview which challenges me to be better, do better, love more and judge less.

    3)How do you think the universe began?
    Isn’t the current holding theory the Big Bang? I’ll have to check out the research.

    4)When do you think the universe began?
    See above.

    5)How do you think life began?
    Hey, just because I believe in a Creator God doesn’t mean I don’t think evolution is a thing that exists. There’s no conflict in my mind between a creative force and the physical effects of that creative force in the world.

    6)When do you think life began?
    Well, the Earth’s about 65 million years old… It’s been way too long since my last bio class.

    7)Is morality objective or subjective? How do you know, or why do you believe, this?
    Ooch, tricky question. …On the one hand, I think there are a set of pretty much non-negotiable “not-good” rules of morality, such as murder, cruelty, rape, enslavement/forced labor. (This is not a complete list.) On the other, I think there are a lot of things that I would never do, and file them under “moral objection”, but at the same time, I don’t feel I have the right to keep others from doing those things. Abortion is one issue that immediately comes to mind. So I suppose I work under a modified subjective morality, technically.

    8)What do you think this god, or these gods, want from humans? Why?
    I believe that God wants an intimate and personal loving relationship with every person in existence, and is constantly and repeatedly offering that relationship. In part, I believe this because it’s a tenet of my religion, but also because I’ve seen what happens to people who reject the creative and the unexpected, and both of those things are aspects of God. I’ve also seen what happens to people who embrace the unexpected and the creative forces in their lives, who know when it’s okay to take a deep breath and let go tight-fisted control of their own lives, to let go of judgment of self and others.

    9)What do humans mean to gods? What is our importance or significance?
    In part, see above. Expanding on that; God loves. First and foremost. We’re not alone in that love, but since in Catholic teaching each human is infused directly with a divine spark, we’re close enough to God to be called God’s children.

    10)Could they get whatever it is they want from humans without humans? Do they need whatever it is they created humans for? Why?
    …Complicated question. I… suppose not? In answer to the first question. Since I’m not aware of any other sapient beings in the universe (though dolphins and/or elephants might qualify). The Judeo-Christian tradition is that humans are created in the likeness and image of God, though, but that might just be humanocentric bias on the part of those who passed down oral tradition. As to the next bit, since what is offered is a personal relationship, I think it’s just as necessary as any personal relationship with anyone. God is relational.

    11)Could you conceive of a world where humans exist without need of a god? What would that world look like? Why would it look like that?
    Let me interpret this two ways.
    On the one hand, a universe without relationships or creative force or unexpected occurrences would not be able to continue existing. The entire foundation of existence is relationships.
    On the other hand, another interpretation of your question is, “can I conceive of a world where people do not need to deify that relational creative force?” Sure can. In my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Church, that’s how we’re supposed to live, because God is in us and all around us, infuses the universe. God doesn’t need a name or a religion, and by living in relationship to everyone and everything around us without fear or shame, there would be no need to deify or create a religion. Religions can be a source of personal identity, but religion is also quite divisive in this day and age, and that’s the precise opposite of what we’re called to be.

    12)What do you believe to be the consequences of a world without god(s)?
    See above. Depending on interpretation, utter dissolution or progression towards perfection.

    13)Where does evil come from? What is the god(s) role in the existence of evil?
    Oh, here’s a fun one. Evil is the consequence of denying or perverting relationships, judgement of self or others, attempting to over-control life, or denying freedom and life to others. God is the opposite of all of that– but because every human has the free will to accept or deny, any attempt to control that free will would make God the antithesis of what God is. The one thing God cannot do is not be what God is.

    14)What makes one thing good and another thing bad? Do good and bad have the same source (ie. The same creator)? Or do they have different sources? What is the source of bad things (if it’s different from the source of good things)?
    I guess this is the theological side of that objective/subjective morality question.
    Well, traditionally there is a character called Lucifer/Satan. Originally Satan appears in the Book of Job to act as a sort of agent of God, a kind of prosecutor or accuser. Stepping away from scriptural evidence, the story of the fall of Lucifer is sort of a model of what evil is: the one who was brightest of all, proudest of all, and fell the hardest of all.

    15)Why do you think your god(s) exists, but the other possible gods don’t? Why do you think I should believe in your god(s)?
    At least using my interpretation of God, all gods exist as other cultures’ views of one single God, just as my Father-Son-HolySpirit Trinity is the aspect by which I can understand God.
    I don’t think you should believe in my God if you don’t want to. I can’t make you, no one should try. That’s sort of what free will is all about. Forced conversion is a sick perversion, an abuse of what Christianity was supposed to be. How can a person have a freely-agreed-to and willing relationship with God (in any form or aspect) if they’re being forced by an outside party?
    If you’re interested or seeking, do your own research. I remember you commenting on someone else’s blog post that one can’t really speak about “what Christians believe” because it’s so across-the-board. It is, because of the many ways that and methods by which Christians interpret the teachings of Jesus the Christ. In that way, I think Christianity can learn a lot from Hinduism, which traditionally has no such thing as heresy or apostasy.

    Thank you for asking. I appreciate it.

    Liked by 2 people

  • trueandreasonable

    Here are my off the cuff responses:

    1)How many gods are there? What are their names?
    1, Jesus, Yahweh, and a few other names.

    2)How do you know these gods (or this god) exists? Why do you believe they exist?

    I am not sure that I “know” he exists. I believe he exists for the reasons I state in my blog.

    3)How do you think the universe began?

    I don’t really have much in the way of beliefs here. I’m familiar with a few different theories but its not really my area.

    4)When do you think the universe began?

    Although I vaguely understand some of the reasons why we want to put a beginning on the universe I am not sure I find them completely compelling. I don’t really maintain any specific date for the beginning of the universe.

    How did life begin?

    I am not sure but I think God has a hand in Life though especially human life.

    6)When do you think life began?

    I don’t have the exact date of when life began here on earth. I would go with what ever science says, not based on young earth creationism. I am not sure if there is life elsewhere other than earth and would have no clue when it may have began. i can’t properly calculate a percentage chance that there is life outside of this planet.

    7)Is morality objective or subjective? How do you know, or why do you believe, this?

    Objective. I believe this because it is the only morality worth believing in.

    8)What do you think this god, or these gods, want from humans? Why?

    He wants us to love each other as he loved us. Jesus appeared to be from God based on his miracles, and that seems to be what he said. I don’t have a better authority than him as to what God wants.

    9)What do humans mean to gods? What is our importance or significance?

    God loves us. But he is in not dependent on us. I can’t speak for God as to what he finds important about us.

    10)Could they get whatever it is they want from humans without humans? Do they need whatever it is they created humans for? Why?

    I think God “wants” us to love him. He would not be able to get humans to love him without humans. I am not sure he needs it though. Need it for what? To exist? No he doesn’t need our love to exist. Its hard to know how an infinite being like God works we are told his ways are beyond our ways. I have no reason to doubt that something could be beyond humans just like humans are beyond chipmunks

    11)Could you conceive of a world where humans exist without need of a god? What would that world look like? Why would it look like that?

    There are a huge number of worlds I can conceive where humans do not need God. But again I’m not clear need God for what? To exist? To be informed about morals?

    12)What do you believe to be the consequences of a world without god(s)?

    I don’t see how we would be reliably informed about morals.

    13)Where does evil come from? What is the god(s) role in the existence of evil?

    Evil comes from our free will and the free will of other creatures. God gave us and other creatures free will.

    14)What makes one thing good and another thing bad? Do good and bad have the same source (ie. The same creator)? Or do they have different ? What is the source of bad things (if it’s different from the source of good things)?

    Generally for something to be morally wrong you need to willfully have an wrongful intent. Some would say you must also act out on that intent but I tend to think consciously lingering on evil thoughts can be wrong as well. Its not so bad if you don’t act out on the evil intent.

    Ultimately God can be a factual cause of evil even if he is not a proximate cause of evil. That is if there was no God and no Universe there would be no evil. One thing can have many causes.

    15)Why do you think your god(s) exists, but the other possible gods don’t? Why do you think I should believe in your god(s)?

    I think although we could always ask for better evidence, the evidence of the Christian God is better than the evidence for other Gods.

    It provides the most rational package for moral belief. I try to give more details in my blog.

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    • clubschadenfreude

      I’m curious, what evidence do you think exists for your god and not for others?

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      • trueandreasonable

        Short answer: The new testament accounts.

        Long answer: I actually just did a blog on why I think they are evidence.
        http://trueandreasonable.co/2014/12/23/no-evidence/

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        • clubschadenfreude

          Those are just stories with nothing supporting them. Do you also accept that the stories in the Qu’ran are true too without any external evidence? By your post, this is also “some” evidence. Why don’t you believe in Allah and Mohammed as his prophet? This is also relevant evidence. Miracles are claimed to have been done by various gods in their stories. Do you believe those stories with no external evidence? By your own words, these are also instances of relevant evidence and the tendency to support those claims. Would you explain why you don’t accept these stories as just as valid evidence?

          As a trial lawyer, I know that you understand that if supposed eyewitness accounts differ, then there is reason to doubt such claims. There is no evidence that Jesus Christ even existed, much less was raised or any other of the miracles happened. We also have directly contradictory claims in the stories, in that claims made in one version preclude the claims that happen in another. This all makes the claims of the bible less and less trustworthy.

          Now, if you could raise someone now, in front of witnesses, that is also evidence. Can you? As a Christian, can you do the miracles your savior promised you could do as a baptized believer in him? Indeed, someone could claim, “oh it was aliens” but it would be quite a bit more concrete than a set of stories that amount to no more than hearsay. It would go a very long way in convincing me that the Christian god exists, though I do admit I still would not worship it if the descriptions in the bible are accurate.

          thanks for your response!

          Like

  • 15 Questions for Theists | A Little Place of My Own

    […] questions are taken from the blog by hessianwithteeth.  I do think some of the questions seem a little loaded if I am honest (although I get that the […]

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  • lleeoz

    Reblogged this on people SEEK and commented:
    Some nicely done questions addressed to theists. I like to say that open debate and discussion only makes us sharper.

    Now for some down time into John 3:30 mode and to attend to family needs and other matters. So for the next while, that’s good night from me.

    Thought for the day:
    “The day we cease to find a logically reasoned basis for believing in God, and everything he stands for, is the moment faith can begin to work in us. Even this faith, though, doesn’t come from us. It is a gift. So to save yourself the pain of a long journey of discovery, start by asking for the faith that God gives. Seriously. That’s the way it was setup; that’s just the way it is.”

    Like

  • 15 Questions for Theists | Christians Anonymous

    […] Originally posted on hessianwithteeth: […]

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  • 15 Questions for Theists - answered | Christians Anonymous

    […] state on an atheist blog recently “There are a lot of blog posts and articles out there with questions for atheists. […]

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  • keithnoback

    Wow, you got lots of responses. Nobody ever answered my questions about God’s intentionality and subjectivity.

    Like

  • Chan Hearron

    I wrote about worldview questions right here! Check it out! http://wp.me/p4S1ts-2m

    Like

  • Dave H.

    Hey, thanks for asking these questions. This is important stuff. I answered some of them. Take a look. In a spirit of mutual sincerity, I’m open to discussion. Thanks!

    Like

  • Re: 15 Questions for Theists, Part 1 | The Church at Pittsfield

    […] hessianwithteeth recently asked these following questions. I thought it a valuable exercise of mind and heart to give answers as far as my understanding allows. As a qualifying statement, I point out that as a believer I will be relying on the Scriptures for my answers, the reason for doing so being evident in my responses to the initial questions. Also, my answers will not be as detailed as they could be; I will give the short answer, and explanations can come later. […]

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  • mpincus708

    Hay there Hessianwithteeth; Thought this might be of interest to you, it was to me. 5 Important Figures Who Fought For the Separation of Church and State It’s on the Alternet along with my comment..

    I appreciate civil, constructive, mutualy informative discussion, I think of it as a great “mind muscle excersizer” and always a “win/win” contest for all humans, regardless of subject or outcome. Thanks, MP

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  • lleeoz

    Let me just say from the outset that, as much as is possible, I won’t be blindly regurgitating a stock standard answer I’ve seen it heard from an expert on systematic theology. Copy and paste answers that haven’t been given much thought would be less helpful than considered answers born out of much pondering and wrestling. Many the answers I will attempt to give will not have a stock standard rebuttal found on the internet. I won’t waste your time with those kind of answers where possible, so don’t waste my time looking for stock standard rebuttals and pasting them here; unless you really must.

    1.How many gods are there? What are their names?
    According to the bible, there is one God. According to the faith I hold to, there is only one God who existed before time and space as we know it. Think quantum physics and black holes and you get a glimpse of why this is not such an insane idea. Our powers of perception our somewhat limited, so it’s only natural we’d see the world in limited ways.

    Here’s where the limit of our ability to understand things through our limited perception really kicks in, though. According to the bible, there are what seem to be three entities that make up the one God. According to the faith that I hold to, there is a Father, a Son and a Spirit. They are unified as one God, though. Interestingly, I am not aware of any passage in the bible that tries to convince its readers, in an argumentative sense, in the existence of God as a three-in-one. That attribute is just a given.

    As limited as metaphors are in explaining reality, in this case it might be useful. The words ‘council’ and ‘community’ come to mind. There is one God. The Father, Son and Spirit exist as a council of three, but God is defined as the three united as one. Nothing can separate them, they cannot exist separately. That is God.

    God is essentially the embodiment of an eternal attribute that exists beyond our limited universe – community. God is the model of perfect community. The Father, Son and Spirit are one God, in a united and inseparable community of the three.

    This God created the known universe, and this God can and will make this universe all but disappear. What’s really odd about this story is that this God decided to make it possible for human entities in this created universe to exist beyond the time and space of the known universe. That’s rather bizarre, but also breathtakingly awesome, depending on your stance. The pathway to this life beyond the known universe is known as the gospel of Jesus Christ, but that’s another story.
    So what’s the name of this God? That’s just a stock standard answer. What I will add is that all three, the whole council, the full community, participated. The significance of the Word, though, cannot be understated. It’s like code. Without the code, nothing happens, whether it’s computer devices or DNA, or the laws of the known universe.

    In my opinion, anything beyond these three, the Father, Son and Spirit, is a human construct, most likely from a demonic origin. If you disagree, well you probably don’t believe in the same God or in the existence of the same demonic entities anyway, so does it really matter what my opinion is. I’m tolerant of the existence of all other religions that fit with harmonious community. It’s a choice and it should stay that way. Answer to question 2 to follow. The kids are patiently waiting to play.

    Like

  • paidiske

    Answering those questions is a fair amount of work. I will do so in a blog post, but it might not be today!

    Like

  • Caroline

    I think it’s a good list of questions, however I think each question needs: “And Why?” appending to them. The answers I’ve seen so far are too easy just to assert things without actually giving any justification.

    Like

  • clubschadenfreude

    great list. I reblogged and added a few of my own.

    16)When do you think the essential events of your religion happened e.g. flood, battles, etc?
    17)If your answer about good and bad, or good and evil, is that we somehow need one to know the other, how does that affect your version of the afterlife?
    18)what is your version of the afterlife?
    19) How do you know what parts of your holy book to accept and to reject?

    Like

  • clubschadenfreude

    Reblogged this on Club Schadenfreude and commented:
    A great list of questions for theists from hessianwithteeth’s blog. I have a few to add myself:

    16)When do you think the essential events of your religion happened e.g. flood, battles, etc?
    17)If your answer about good and bad, or good and evil, is that we somehow need one to know the other, how does that affect your version of the afterlife?
    18)what is your version of the afterlife?
    19) How do you know what parts of your holy book to accept and to reject?

    Like

  • 15 Questions for Theists – answered | Truth Tangible

    […] state on an atheist blog recently “There are a lot of blog posts and articles out there with questions for atheists. […]

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  • equippedcat

    7) I originally thought that morality was completely subjective, because I could not think of anything I could not come up with a “moral” reason to do. But then I realized I, like many people, was confusing actions with morality. It is not what you do which is moral or immoral, it is the impact of what you do, and who is affected by it. I have not come to a full realization yet how much objectivity or subjectivity is attached to morality.

    I do think that in order to be moral, you need to consider “everyone else” to be as important as you are. One of the conundrums we deal with in the “survival” community is :”raiding” during a period of emergency. There are people who think their survival is more important than any one else’s; these are people who proclaim that they don’t see a problem in taking stuff they need to survive from other people who legitimately possess it and also need it to survive. Their goal is laudable, their methodology despicable, and, in my opinion, the basis of their action is immoral.

    Some people claim that morality comes from God. And they might be right in the sense that He gave us a “feeling” for what is right and wrong. And His words can give us a guide towards actions which have the potential to be moral or immoral. Basically, we have the instincts common to animals and some of us can suppress these for the “common good”. Is this natural or not? Who knows. The problem is when we “pick and choose” our actions without paying attention to the underlying morality.

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  • equippedcat

    5) What is “life”? A human being or a single cell?

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  • equippedcat

    3 & 4) I think that God created the universe, more or less about the time that science postulates the Big Bang occurred.

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  • equippedcat

    14) Good and bad are even more subject to personal perspective than good and evil.

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  • equippedcat

    13) As darkness is the absence of light, I think that “good” is the absence of evil. Perhaps these constructs always existed, or perhaps they were created by God. Also, in many cases, the degree of good or evil depends on the point of reference. That is, one person’s good can be another person’s evil.

    Let us say you have one person who is undergoing withdrawal from some addictive drug. I would imagine that person would be certain that their suffering is evil, and someone watching them might be convinced that the suffering is “good”, because it shows the person the downside of their addiction and encourages them to do what is needed to kick the addiction. Then the addicted person comes over and robs the observer. The addicted person probably thinks this is good, not only because they are on their way to a “fix”, but because it shows the observer that doing nothing about suffering is not acceptable. And, of course, it is likely the observer thinks that being robbed is evil.

    It is natural to think of good and evil only how they affect you. And this is not “wrong”. But it could be helpful to keep in mind that there is a possibility that something which seems good, or evil, might not seem the same to someone else.

    Like

  • equippedcat

    15) The first part seems to be reasking question(s) asked at the top of the list. The second part is quite interesting. I don’t think you have to believe in my God; you are welcome to or welcome to believe in another God or even to not believe in any god. That whole “free will” thing. I think some people can benefit from that belief, that is, the benefits outweigh the “cost”. In other cases, the costs are perceived to be “too high” or the benefits are not received or perhaps not recognized as such.

    The thing is, belief “cannot” (and should not) be forced. In order to believe something, you have to want to believe it. Then you have to have some evidence which ALLOWS you to believe, and that there is no evidence which successfully PREVENTS you from believing. And it is wise to always remember that a) just because you believe something does not make it so, and 2) evidence is subject, either deliberately or accidentally, to inaccuracy or being misleading.

    Like

  • eb571573

    Great questions. You can look forward to a reply to this post on my blog soon.

    Like

  • transforminglifenow

    You probably wouldn’t get many answers to those questions. Good questions, though.

    Like

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