Friday, May 1, 2009

Mother Teresa: Angel or Agnostic?


SKEPTIC: A couple of years ago the world was taken by surprise when Mother Teresa's personal letters were made public. They revealed that for virtually the entire time that she worked in India (1948-1997), she was operating without God as her co-pilot.


PREACHER: I know of many Christian workers who have had the same kind of struggle. I did when I first came out as a missionary, after I won all those debates about the veracity of the Bible with my profs. I was saying "where is my faith, where is my God?" Luckily, I got kind advice from a senior missionary who didn't judge me. He just suggested that I start a daily devotional of reading the Bible and talking to God out loud. It took a few months, but eventually I felt my faith restored. I have been tempted to fall into that frame of mind from time to time, but never quite so low since.


SKEPTIC: The difference between you and Mother Theresa is that you came back to God, but she never did. Her lack of faith stayed with her until her death. That makes her (at the very least) an agnostic in my book. From reading what she wrote, she really struggled and suffered with her lack of faith and it sounds like she may have become clinically depressed. Imagine how much easier her life would have been if she could have engaged in her good works without the yoke of the church around her neck. It's fascinating to watch Christians and the Catholic church try to spin her lack of faith into some sort of virtue.


PREACHER: The conclusions you give are based on some of her writings. Are you claiminig to be able to read her mind for all the time that she lived on this earth?


SKEPTIC: Well, yes, that's true. I'm basing my comments on what she wrote in her private letters to her confessors over several decades. Unless she just made everything up, I think it's safe to assume that they accurately represented her state of mind.


PREACHER: I would also have to make a disclaimer for her. Since she was Catholic, her understanding of God's grace may not have been fully developed.


SKEPTIC: Oh, that's right. I almost forgot. Only Christians are truly enlightened. Man, if I was a Catholic, I think I'd be pretty insulted by that remark. Oh, what the heck, I'll go ahead and be insulted anyway.


PREACHER: Well, here's the thing. I can understand what happened with Mother Teresa. Believing in God is absurd, but then believing in no God is just as absurd. Both positions are a leap in the dark.


SKEPTIC: There are lots of things I don't believe in. I don't believe in unicorns. Is that a "leap in the dark?" However, if I choose to believe in something that offers no real rational basis, that's a "leap in the dark." But I'm glad to know that you agree with me - "believing in God is absurd."


PREACHER: Believing in God is absurd in that we have no way of proving that to the non-believer (however there may be a day coming when faith becomes sight). Not believing in God is equally absurd because the nonbeliever has no way of proving that to the believer. You can go pretty far with proving that unicorns never existed on this earth by checking out the fossil record and historical records. However when it comes to proving that God doesn't exist, you don't have access to the whole universe or all of the events that ever occurred so you end up with a stalemate. Personally, I think the argument that we and this complex but ordered world we exist in is all a product of random activities of matter is a ridiculous explanation.


SKEPTIC: Nonbelievers have no obligation to prove anything to believers. We are not the ones making irrational assertions based on superstitions and myths. We're just saying, sorry, we don't believe you, but hey, it's your life, you can believe anything you want. Unlike Christians, nonbelievers are not (generally speaking) a proselytizing bunch. And by the way, I'm pretty sure you've totally misrepresented evolution.


PREACHER: When I lived in Fukuyama, I had the acquaintance of a Catholic priest. We used to have united worship services about once a year. He told me that Catholics don't study the Bible or get much training in theology. He and his parishioners always appreciated hearing a protestant preacher explain the Bible. So, I wonder if she had had more of a theological background, would she have struggled so much. Nevertheless I respect her for living a Christian life, even if it didn't make sense to her.

To say that she didn't have God as her co-pilot can hardly be presumed. Actually, He never was her co-pilot. He was her commander and chief. That is why she stuck with the church work all her life despite her agonizing doubts. When God is just your co-pilot and you don't want Him anymore you leave the scene and go to a country where most everyone agrees with you. Now concerning the myth of evolution, that deserves a whole new post.

21 comments:

  1. Preacher thinks that believing that "..this complex but ordered world we exist in is all a product of random activities of matter is a ridiculous explanation."

    and rightly so.

    but no one says evolution is entirely random, only "fit for purpose" organisms pass their design on down the line, for further refinement.


    I didn't know anything about Mother Teresa (apart from her working in India) before reading this conversation. it was a very interesting read, thank you both.

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  2. He just suggested that I start a daily devotional of reading the Bible and talking to God out loud.

    I could talk to a broom or a chair and find that practice helpful. Getting it out of our chest and saying it aloud helps us understand our issues. God doesn't have to be real for that to happen.

    From reading what she wrote, she really struggled and suffered with her lack of faith and it sounds like she may have become clinically depressed.

    She may even have been an atheist using the religion to do the works her human heart was calling her to do. I think a lot of Catholic priests and nuns fake the religious part in favour of doing the good works they are interested in doing.

    I don't know how she could've done anything without the church patronage, though, being a woman in a country like India.

    That she was unhappy, it was quite obvious, as she never smiled and usually looked grumpy. I wouldn't have wanted to work by her side or be one of the "blessed" children. She looked like a person that could bite you for a minor mistake.

    I would also have to make a disclaimer for her. Since she was Catholic, her understanding of God's grace may not have been fully developed.

    The good old line on Catholics not being real Christians. There are millions of evangelicals as unhappy, grumpy, and discontent with God as she was. Preacher should know that being an evangelical Christian isn't exactly "Alice in Wonderland."

    So, I wonder if she had had more of a theological background, would she have struggled so much.

    The priest was talking about the congregation. Nuns do study theology, as do priests.

    When God is just your co-pilot and you don't want Him anymore you leave the scene and go to a country where most everyone agrees with you.

    No, when God is not the co-pilot, the Christian feels guilty and blames him/herself, not the absent God. Depression is the result of thinking one should believe in God and knowing one can't.

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  3. Lorena, you seem to be one of those who has a hard time believing in God. I don't condemn you for that. However, you seem to have the supernatural ability to read the "true" intentions of those who claim to believe in Him. I find that rather annoying.

    By the way, God is not my co-pilot. He is my commander and chief. I don't have the privilege of sensing Him constantly by my side making me feel good all the time either.

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  4. Wow! I did piss you off. Great. Makes my day.

    I believed in your God for 40 years sir. You have the supernatural ability to judge people you don't know.

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  5. I would also have to make a disclaimer for her. Since she was Catholic, her understanding of God's grace may not have been fully developed.Not a True Christian™, eh? I wish I had a nickle for every time I've heard that one! I usually hear that one when I mention that I'm an ex-christian or when I point out the brutality of the church during the inquistion.

    However when it comes to proving that God doesn't exist, you don't have access to the whole universe or all of the events that ever occurred so you end up with a stalemate.I love that argument! It can be applied to every other god as well. All I have to do is replace God with my favorite diety and voila! Like so:

    However when it comes to proving that Ganesha doesn't exist, you don't have access to the whole universe or all of the events that ever occurred so you end up with a stalemate.

    or

    However when it comes to proving that Odin doesn't exist, you don't have access to the whole universe or all of the events that ever occurred so you end up with a stalemate.
    See what I mean?

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  6. Great blog, BTW.

    You're on my blogroll.

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  7. We both agree about Ganesha and Odin and a whole host of other mythical beings. Why bring them up unless you want to change the subject. Whether they exist or not is no concern to us anyway. They didn't die for our sins,or rise from the dead to give us eternal life, and they aren't going to judge us in the end. Our disagreement is about Jesus Christ. Is He for real or not? That is the question.

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  8. Paul wrote: "By the way, God is not my co-pilot. He is my commander and chief."

    in other words, don't blame me, it's not my responsibility.

    he also writes: "Whether [other gods] exist or not is no concern to us anyway. They didn't die for our sins,or rise from the dead to give us eternal life, and they aren't going to judge us in the end. Our disagreement is about Jesus Christ. Is He for real or not? That is the question."

    get real Paul, as a book, the bible is no better than, say, "Aesop's Fables" -- both written by people who want to put their message across; of course, the bible is of more consequence, unfortunately. the end of the day though, the bible is fiction written by men (I use the term loosely), not fact, so all this stuff about "Jesus" being a real, historical person or not is NOT the question.

    the question, IMO, is how can you justify using a fiction as an excuse to deny personal responsibility?

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  9. In my mind believing in a creator is pretty easy. It only becomes absurd when you think you know what it is. A sure fired way to cause doubt and depression is to claim know what something is and have no actual reliable evidence for it. So when all the people point out the flaws in your "knowing", you then start to doubt your sanity. ;)

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  10. Paul,
    You said that to believe that God doesn't exist, the Skeptic needs to know everything about the universe. I was just pointing out that you don't require yourself to know everything about the universe to reject all the other gods.
    .
    "They didn't die for our sins,or rise from the dead to give us eternal life, and they aren't going to judge us in the end.".
    Now, you're just special pleading. Just because you believe X about a certain diety, doesn't mean that all others are exempt from the requirement of having to know everything about the universe to reject them. BTW, knowing everything about the universe is your requirement, not mine.

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  11. I also noticed that the title to this post is a false dichotomy.

    Angel or Agnostic?

    Why not both?

    Angel and Agnostic?

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  12. Good point Robert. However, to determine what she really believed, especially at the last few seconds of life is beyond the scope of our knowledge, isn't it.

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  13. Lorena, I obviously don't have any supernatural abilities in judging people. I thought you were not much older that 14.

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  14. Robert,

    When it comes down to the issue of who Jesus Christ is, you guys always change the subject. No one today considers these other deities to be historical persons. However, a lot of people with good educations still believe that Jesus was a real person and He died and rose again from the dead. We also believe that He will return some day. We may or may not see that in our lifetime. Anyhow, the proof is in the results. I am willing to wait and see. There is nothing in the meantime that will disappoint me.
    If I am wrong I will never know the difference. If you are wrong you will.

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  15. Paul wrote "Lorena ... I thought you were not much older that 14."

    is normal, we all think of others as being our own (mental) age. ;-))

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  16. Paul.

    you appear to think Jesus was a historical person.

    do you have any proof not based entirely on works of fiction written by men?

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  17. Paul said, "When it comes down to the issue of who Jesus Christ is, you guys always change the subject.".
    .
    I want to point out that I haven't changed the subject. You mentioned the "knowing everything" argument, so I wanted to explore it.
    .
    Paul said, "No one today considers these other deities to be historical persons.".
    .
    Are you so sure? I agree actually, but I wouldn't go so far to say that no one today considers these other deities to be historical persons. There's probably someone out there who does. Especially in the case of Ganesha, since he is currently still widely worshiped.
    .
    Paul said, "However, a lot of people with good educations still believe that Jesus was a real person and He died and rose again from the dead. We also believe that He will return some day.".
    .
    What you just did is called the argument from popularity. The fact that lots of people believe it, doesn't make it true.
    .
    Paul said, "We may or may not see that in our lifetime. Anyhow, the proof is in the results. I am willing to wait and see.".
    .
    The results are not good. Technological advances pretty much stopped after Christianity took hold. Untold amounts of suffering. And two-thousand years later and still no return. Remember Jesus said many times that he would return quickly and within the lifetimes of the disciples.
    .
    Paul said, "If I am wrong I will never know the difference. If you are wrong you will.
    "
    .
    .
    False Dichotomy again.
    What if we're both wrong? And the Muslims are right? What makes your religion and worldview any better?

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  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  19. Lorena, I obviously don't have any supernatural abilities in judging people. I thought you were not much older that 14.

    Talk about personal attacks. When you can't refute the argument you go straight for the "body check" like in hockey.

    Do you believe, preacher, that because I am a woman you have the right to insult me?

    Conversely, do you believe that because I am a woman I shouldn't challenge your beliefs?

    Didn't the "Holy Spirit" tell you anything about who I was? Obviously, "The Counselor that will lead you to all truth" grossly misguided you, sir.

    Go ahead delete the comment, again. Ban me if you will. Show yourself for who you are.

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  20. Dearest Lorena,

    I didn't delete your comment. I want the whole world to see how intelligent and wonderful you are. You need to tell me more of your interesting life story.

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  21. Good balanced video(especially for Hard Ball)! If Mother Theresa was really an unbeliever, then the question needs to be asked: Why did she stay in the church? If she was indeed an atheist who wanted to do good, why did she have to join the church in the first place? How come atheists haven't produced many big charitable organizations on the level of the Catholic church that such good people like her can join. The answer is obvious.

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