I haven't ventured onto these forums in a while. I'm so sorry I missed this. Poor fireproof has been hangin' here by himself for the most part. I love these discussions. Usually I'm frustrated by the way most Christians argue about their beliefs, but kudos to fireproof. And for what it's worth, after reading this entire thread, I don't think Dorkman was coming off as hostile or vitriolic at all. I'm amazed at the civility of the discussion. This truly is a great online community. Again I apologize for not being here more often.
I just want to expound on a few things that I saw discussed in this thread.
First is the idea of faith. As some here have expressed, faith is based on evidence. I don't believe in blind faith. The bible doesn't teach blind faith. God doesn't expect blind faith. God expects faith in His nature based on His past actions in your life. Faith is based on experience. That is why so many times in the bible, God asked his followers to make altars after an event in their life. That altar was to act as a reminder of His faithfulness. In fact the word faithful means that someone has a track record that can be counted on. I have experiences with God, not just lessons from a book. I have miracle stories from my life that I personally have experienced. Not many, not everyday, but significant ones that I have lived through. I don't discuss faith in a purely academic level, I discuss faith based on my actual life experiences.
The bible, in Hebrews 11:1, defines faith as "the evidence of things hoped for" and "the convictions of things not seen." The bible also defines, in Romans 10:17 where faith comes from: "hearing by the word of God" The Greek word for "word" in that passage is "rhema" and it refers to a living, spoken word as opposed to something inscribed or written down. More importantly, it says that faith cannot simply be conjured up on your own. It must originate from God as a promise. You then hold onto that promise based on your experience with God in your life. I liken this process to a ticketed event. Let's say I go online and purchase a ticket to see The Hobbit at an IMAX theater in LA. (I live in Bakersfield so I can't just go to the box office and buy it). I'm emailed a confirmation that shows my seat number. An e-ticket if you will. That ticket guarantees my seat. I don't have my seat yet, but I have faith that the seat will be there for me after I drive two hours to get there. I couldn't just create that ticket on my own. It had to come from the theater. I can't just type up my own ticket then expect the theater to honor that seat. The legitimate ticket from the theater is the substance I hold on to that allows me to expect my seat until I'm actually sitting in it. So many Christians misunderstand this process, they've been taught wrong. They think that they can print up their own ticket and demand that God honor their wishes. At that point, their prayers are just that, wishful thinking.
Ultimately, faith in God starts with experience. And faith based on experience cannot be shaken. You cannot break my faith because it is not some sort of academic understanding based on what others have told me, it's based on what I have experienced, what I have lived through, what God has done for me personally. You can argue confirmation bias all you want, but I act out on things before the confirmation happens. I claim what will happen before it does. I've lived it enough to count on it.
My experience has shown the bible to be true to me. I act out how it says and things happen as it says it should. It is as consistent as I am with it. I'm not perfect, I make mistakes, I sin and miss what God is trying to tell me all the time. But when I'm tacking right, when I'm following His word as I should, I hear him clearly and the decisions I make produce the outcomes promised.
I'm living through something right now that started a year ago. At the time, I knew what God spoke to me, and it was to take a step of faith and begin a whole life change for me and my family. At the time, I was having semi-regular lunch meetings with an atheist friend of mine and I told him what I was about to do. He thought I was crazy. A year later and we are now meeting for coffee on a weekly basis and he is watching me as what I told him would happen is happening in front of his eyes.
My life is my testimony. It is the evidence of God working. It is my evidence of the validity of the bible.
I've more to say but this will be enough for this post. Love you all.