10 Reasons the Crucifixion Story Makes No Sense

Does God exist?  You wouldn't think so given the bizarre crucifixion story.I’m afraid that the crucifixion story doesn’t strike me as that big a deal.

The Christian will say that death by crucifixion was a horrible, humiliating way to die.  That the death of Jesus was a tremendous sacrifice, more noble and selfless than a person sacrificing himself for the benefit of a butterfly.  And isn’t it worth praising something that gets us into heaven?

Here are ten reasons why I’m unimpressed.

1. Sure, death sucks, but why single out this one?  Lots of people die.  In fact, lots died from crucifixion.  The death of one man doesn’t make all the others insignificant.  Was Jesus not a man but actually a god?  If so, that fact has yet to be shown.

It’s not like this death is dramatically worse than death today.  Crucifixion may no longer be a worry, but cancer is.  Six hours of agony on the cross is pretty bad, but so is six months of agony from cancer.

2. What about that whole hell thing?  An eternity of torment for even a single person makes Jesus’s agony insignificant by comparison, and it counts for nothing when you consider the billions that are apparently going to hell.

3. Jesus didn’t even die.  The absurdity of the story, of course, is the resurrection.  If Jesus died, there’s no miraculous resurrection, and if there’s a resurrection, there’s no sacrifice through death.  Miracle or sacrifice—you can’t have it both ways.  The gospels don’t say that he died for our sins but that he had a rough couple of days for our sins.

4. Taking on the sin vs. removal of sin aren’t symmetric.  We didn’t do anything to get original sin.  We just inherited it from Adam.  So why do we have to do anything to get the redemption?  If God demands a sacrifice, he got it.  That’s enough.  Why the requirement to believe to access the solution?

5. The reason behind the sacrifice—mankind’s original sin—makes no sense.  Why blame Adam for a moral lapse that he couldn’t even understand?  Remember that he hadn’t yet eaten the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so who could blame him when he made a moral mistake?

And how can we inherit original sin from Adam?  Why blame us for something we didn’t do?  That’s not justice, and the Bible agrees:

Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin (Deut. 24:16)

6. Jesus made a sacrifice—big deal.  Jesus is perfect, so his doing something noble is like water flowing downhill.  It’s unremarkable since he’s only acting out his nature.  What else would you expect from a perfect being?

But imagine if I sacrificed myself for someone.  In the right circumstance, I’d risk my life for a stranger—or at least I hope I would.  That kind of sacrifice is very different.  A selfish, imperfect man acting against his nature to make the ultimate unselfish sacrifice is far more remarkable than a perfect being acting according to his nature, and yet people make sacrifices for others all the time.  So why single out the actions of Jesus?  Aren’t everyday noble actions by ordinary people more remarkable and laudable?

7. What is left for God to forgive?  The Jesus story says that we’ve sinned against God (a debt).  Let’s look at two resolutions to this debt.

(1) God could forgive the debt of sin.  You and I are asked to forgive wrongs done against us, so why can’t God?  Some Christians say that to forgive would violate God’s sense of justice, but when one person forgives another’s debt, there’s no violation of justice.  For unspecified reasons, God doesn’t like this route.

And that leaves (2) where Jesus pays for our sin.  But we need to pick 1 or 2, not both.  If Jesus paid the debt, there’s no need for God’s forgiveness.  There’s no longer anything for God to forgive, since there’s no outstanding debt.

Here’s an everyday example: when I pay off my mortgage, the bank doesn’t in addition forgive my debt.  There’s no longer a debt to forgive!  Why imagine that God must forgive us after he’s already gotten his payment?

8. The Jesus story isn’t even remarkable within mythology.  Jesus’s sacrifice was small compared to the Greek god Prometheus, who stole fire from Olympus and gave it to humanity.  Zeus discovered the crime and punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock so that a vulture could eat his liver.  Each night, his liver grew back and the next day the vulture would return, day after agonizing day.  The gospel story, where Jesus is crucified once and then pops back into existence several days later, is unimpressive by comparison.

9. The Bible itself rejects God’s savage “justice.”  This is the 21st century.  Must Iron Age customs persist so that we need a human sacrifice?  If God loves us deeply and he wants to forgive us, couldn’t he just … forgive us?  That’s how we do it, and that’s the lesson we get from the parable of the Prodigal Son where the father forgives the son even after being wronged by him.  If that’s the standard of mercy, why can’t God follow it?  Since God is so much greater a being than a human, wouldn’t he be that much more understanding and willing to forgive?

If we were to twist the Prodigal Son parable to match the crucifixion story, the father might demand that the innocent son be flogged to pay for the crime of the prodigal son.  Where’s the logic in that?

10. The entire story is incoherent.  Let’s try to stumble through the drunken logic behind the Jesus story.

God made mankind imperfect and inherently vulnerable to sin.  Living a sinless life is impossible, so hell becomes unavoidable.  That is, God creates people knowing for certain that they’re going to deserve eternity in hell when they die.  Why create people that he knew would be destined for eternal torment?

But don’t worry—God sacrificed Jesus, one of the persons of God, so mankind could go to heaven instead.

So God sacrificed himself to himself so we could bypass a rule that God made himself and that God deliberately designed us to never be able to meet?  I can’t even understand that; I certainly feel no need to praise God for something so nonsensical.  It’s like an abused wife thanking her abuser.  We can just as logically curse God for consigning us to hell from birth.

Perhaps I can be forgiven for being unimpressed by the crucifixion story.

Photo credit: Wikimedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Jason

    According to the book of Job, Satan was one of the sons of God. Does that make him Jesus’ brother? Do you think God used artificial insemination with some female angel or someone else to create Satan?

  • natsera

    You may be an atheist, but you do the Talmudists proud. They argued EVERYTHING and insisted on logic and knowledge (as they saw it). I no longer believe, but I’m a secular Jew, and it pleases me to see the values of my culture upheld, especially in a modern way that is not beholden to ancient life. I LIKE you, Bob Seidensticker!! :-)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Thanks! That reminds me of the story of Jewish scholars arguing about some point of the Law. God stepped in to give his opinion, but they told him to butt out because he had empowered them to decide this themselves.

      (I imagine you’ve heard it. Clarify if I have it wrong.)

      • Jason

        This reminded me of a quote that I think you will appreciate. According to the rabbis, Moses also argued with God.

        “When Moses was engaged in writing the Torah, he had to write the work of each day. When he came to the verse, ‘And God
        said, Let us make man,’ he said: ‘Sovereign of the universe! Why do you furnish an excuse to heretics?’ ‘Write,’ replied God, ‘whoever wishes to err may err’” (Gen. Rab. 8.8).

  • busterggi

    So Jesus existed before ‘the fall’ because Yahweh (his father but also himself) knew his creations would fail the test he planned for them (because their failure had to have been part of his plan or Jesus wouldn’t have needed to exist) then Jesus was born as a semblance of a human being (not a real human, real humans aren’t perfect) to die (though not really) so Yahweh could forgive the sins done by humans as part of his (Yahweh’s) plan?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You see? It’s not that complicated when you stop and think about it.

      • Pofarmer

        Don’t forget that God had already killed everybody on Earth(pretty much) once to try to stamp out the Sin problem. God isn’t very good at his job, apparently. Then, if Jesus death was to Atone for Adams sin, then why do we still have all of the afflictions attributed to “the fall”, wasn’t the crucifixion to take care of that? The fact of the matter is, nothing changed. Except this group called “Christians” got started, either believing in a mythical Jesus or a real one, makes no difference. The world stayed the same, we have a new movement, and………..

    • hector_jones

      And don’t forget that Jesus, though a God, could be killed by mere humans affixing him to a stick. No wonder God remains hidden from us – He’s scared.

  • busterggi

    Glad to hear you trust Odin.

  • Rick

    Bob,

    If you’re going to recyle a two year old post, I will recycle my responses as well. We have discussed most of these issues in the past. There are solid answers for each of your claims above. There is a short book by Josh McDowell, “More than a Carpenter,” that covers nearly all of what you raised. It is available as a Kindle download and is very affordable. If you are really serious about getting well reasoned answers, I would direct you there. But I also just found an online book, most of which is available free and the index is great. It is “Beyond
    Belief to Convictions,
    ” by Josh McDowell, Bob Hostetler and David H. Bellis, I don’t if its possible to a web reference in this comments section, so here it is (rather lengthy) or you can Google which is how I found it. A very thorough refutation of your point.

    LIFE AND DEATH
    One background discussion about life and death in scripture may help with the other issues I didn’t find in those books. In the Bible, life and death have both a physical and a spiritual dimension. Life means union, death means separation. Physical death, therefore, is the separation of my body from my spirit. Spiritual death is the separation of my spirit from God’s spirit. If we choose to reject God in this life by rejecting the payment Jesus offered, then God will also allow us to live out that choice by not forcing us to be in his presence eternally. That is called hell.

    Jesus experienced the spiritual death He did not deserve by being separated from His Father. Since He hadn’t sinned personally, he did not need to be separated, but experienced it on the cross. We know this because stated, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” As he was thinking out loud and praying, he expressed the devastating experience of being separated from His Father for the first time in eternity. Before he died, he said, “It is finished.” This indicates to most of us that the payment was complete and the separation he experienced during his torture and execution had finished paying for sin even before he died physically.

    But physical death is also an outcome of Adam’s sin and the resulting fall, so Jesus experienced that, too. He died physically, and the witnesses attested to several medically unknown then, but known now confirmations of death. Modern doctors have given remarkable testimony to the water mixed with blood narrative bearing adequate witness to his physical death. His resurrection on the third day demonstrated that 1) he had conquered physical death, and 2) more importantly, since God gave him power to come back to life physically, he had victory over the penalty for sin. That discussion helps answer several of your questions and is more exhaustively covered in any number of references I can provide if you are seriously interested in learning more.

    Answers to Bob’s 10 Questions:

    1) Answered in McDowell, “More than a Carpenter,” chapter 1, “What makes Jesus so Different?”

    2) See discussion above.

    3) Covered in an online resource, (free!) that I just found. See Beyond Belief to Convictions, page 261, topics “The Stolen Body Theory,” and “The Great Swoon Theory.” Or Google those topics. That is how I came across the reference.

    4) A perceptive question you have asked here! Somewhat theologically complex, but here is a simple way to look at it. It is the same as the choice which has consequences. You can believe I can fly you to Richmond and get on my airplane. But the act of demonstrating that trust by getting on the airplane and strapping in is efficacious. Without placing trust in Christ’s payment apart from any other source of hope, you haven’t had the consequence of sin in your life removed.

    5) Another complex question with a simple answer. We die for Adam’s imputed sin, but more importantly for our own. I have violated God’s moral laws. Have you? If so then focus on the need for payment for your own sins. The more complex theological issues about imputed sin become moot.

    6) Covered in McDowell, “More than a Carpenter,” chapter 1, “What makes Jesus so Different?” Also probably in the online resource above. I’m pretty pumped to have found that one for you. Lots of material and with a good index!

    7) Another complex theological question. The short answer is in the Life and Death discussion above—we live out what we choose here. If we get through all the other questions satisfactorily, we can return to the more complex ones like this one.

    8) This one has been thoroughly refuted by many. One of the best I found was this one (Jesus a copycat savior? – A Christian response
    kingdavid8.com/Copycat/Home.ht… which takes on the issue in a straightforward manner, and also refutes 78 separate mythologies in alphabetical order.

    9) God’s justice demands a sacrifice. That is what the entire OT system of sacrifices was about. The prodigal son story really tells a story of incredible mercy to forgive, and demonstrates God the Father’s desire to forgive, even paying for the cost of the feast and killing the fatted calf. The parables are told to illustrate specific points, not to be theologically complete in every parable.

    10) God sacrificed His Son not to bypass a rule, but to fulfill it. He did this because of His incredible love for you. Can you imaging loving someone enough to risk your own life? Sure you can. You said you hoped you would. Can you imagine loving another enough to sacrifice your own son for that person? Neither can I. You wouldn’t sacrifice your own son, and I wouldn’t do that either. In God’s case, He knew the outcome, but still had to watch the process in painful agony for the son and the father. I’d rather go through the pain myself than watch Andrew go through it, and you’d likely rather (if the choice had to be made) do it yourself rather than choosing to subject Bobby to it. That is how much God loves YOU though, Bob. It isn’t academic.

    See how easy that was? (To quote Bob Seidensticker in an earlier reply!)

    Rick

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Thanks for the input.

    • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

      What I find incredible, is that you don’t see the inexhaustible irrationality for all your answers. You choose to believe that 1+1 = 3, and assume you satisfactorily answer the questions, when in reality you merely make up conjectures that completely fail to answer them.

      Example: Question #1, you point to a book without actually answering the question. Might as well say the earth is flat because some book states it. But I guess you are used to saying that, since “the bible says so”.

      Bob’s questions stand, you are wrong and contradict yourself just as your book those, in every single answer.

      • Rick

        Pointing to a book is a standard way of saying, “the evidence is more complex than a sound bite, so I’m sending you to another source.” We do it all the time in the real world.

        Did I miss it or did you actually refute anything yourself?

        • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

          How can the information of such childish things be “complex” and why would your all mighty god create something so complex that humans have to actually debate and kill each other about it. Nice message of peace there Rick.

          In science we try to simplify everything, down to a small equation that can explain the entire universe, and your god can’t communicate a simple message without making humans go into war about the peaceful message because it’s subject to so much interpretation, that nobody knows what to think.

          Of course, this is only amongst religious people, we thinkers don’t bother with such fairy tales, except when they get in the way of progress and families, like it has with me and this country.

          I have no idea how you people live by such hypocritical and dangerous beliefs. I guess it’s all peachy living in a fantasy world, no matter what harm it causes the rest of the real world.

    • Mike De Fleuriot

      “In the Bible, life and death have both a physical and a spiritual dimension.”

      Can you show us evidence that a spiritual dimension actually exists. And for bonus points, works exactly as you claim it to work. Or must we just take it on faith, what YOU have claimed?

      Of you can only answer the above questions, once you have shown that gods can and do exist. Only then can you start to explain what they want and need from us. Otherwise you can just go ahead and make up anything, like a crazy theist would do….

      • Rick

        I can show that things you can’t explain are best explained by a creator who exists outside physical laws of the universe. Things like existence of matter, the physical laws themselves, and the incredible (irreducible) complexity of biology. If you believe in evolutionary naturalism in a world without a creator, then you are just [going] ahead and [making] up anything, like a crazy [atheist] would do….

        • MNb

          Hat tip:

          http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe.html

          “the physical laws themselves”
          are best explained by the fact that scientists formulated them. They are a way to describe what we observe, nothing more.

          “existence of matter”

          poofed into existence isn’t an explanation at all. Hey, I have something else that at the moment is best explained by “a creator existing outside the physical laws” sustaining it (no doubt BobS is getting tired of it):

          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Meissner_effect_p1390048.jpg

          God at work, because science can’t explain it.

        • Mike De Fleuriot

          Don’t see any evidence that gods can exist. Do you want to try again. (Hint: Try and understand each word of my request before you try and understand the whole sentence.)

        • Rick

          Your derision is not compelling. I don’t care to try again for more. But thanks for the offer! Come back when you want a conversation.

        • MNb

          Wait – you want a conversation with Mike unless he disagrees with you?

    • wtfwjtd

      More made-up theology attributed to an imaginary being, to buttress the claims of…previous made-up theology. Real convincing.

    • Gip

      To your 10th “answer”: God didn’t sacrifice his son, he knew that he would be resurrected and he knew that he would live.

      You can’t lose something if you’re an omnipotent being, you would be able to will it back into existence if you wanted to. God didn’t lose anything, Jesus didn’t lose anything either.

      And if we’re talking about Jesus’s sacrifice being pain, who cares? Such pain would be insignificant in front of an omnipotent, omniscient and eternal being. He could have solved the entire issue without haveing to feel pain, without anyone suffering. All he had to do was will it, and we’d have a perfect world. Instead he decides to do this extremely inneficient and frankly stupid plan to save of us from sin he bestowed on us, sin he could wipe out with a thought.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        God has no problem forgiving in the old fashioned way that we do: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,
        and remembers your sins no more” (Is. 43:25). A similar OT verse: Jer. 31:34.

        There’s another verse (can’t put my hands on it for some reason) where God admits that he deliberately gave his people bad laws, including child sacrifice.

        • Rick

          That would indeed be a very hard verse to find.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why? Because it doesn’t exist?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Ah, here it is: Ez. 20:25-6.

          God is furious at the Israelites’ disobedience. Here’s what he says he did to teach them a lesson:

          So I gave them other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live; I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.

        • Rick

          I can see where this would be a challenging verse for anyone to grasp. It does require consideration of the context. God was now putting in place the exact consequence the rebellious people had already chosen to do, so that they could then live out its consequences.

          If God were writing that verse to our society, I suspect it would have something about allowing us to enact laws protecting the ability to choose to chop our infants to pieces on the altar of convenience and perceived self-interest, out of pressure from family and society at large, and out of fear. This is what happens in all too many cases.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks; I think I figured it out the first time.

          God gave them statutes that demanded them to sacrifice their children.

        • Rick

          That isn’t what I said. You twisted it. God gave them commands to match what they had already chosen to do so they could see the futility of what their actions were bringing about.

          Do you really think you can twist things backwards and have no one notice? Do you think we are all that simple? That sort of cheap trick makes it hard to have an actual conversation on this site. Perhaps you think it makes you look superior and intellectual. It has the opposite effect on me.

        • MNb

          “God gave them commands to match what they had already chosen to do so”
          Quite the responsible moral teacher. If any Dutch parent tried to do so he/she would get a visit from

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_and_Family_Court_Advisory_and_Support_Service
          You might be right with your interpretation; I’m not going to try to refute it. To me it’s just another example of theology leading to sick morals.
          My aversion towards christianity is not only intellectual; it’s emotional as well. I sincerely hope you won’t ever try to apply this in your own daily life.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Do you really think you can twist things backwards and have no one notice?

          No, I think that twisting things is uncovered by most of the readers of these comments.

          In Ezekiel 20, God is furious at the Hebrews’ repeated idol worship as well as “desecrating the Sabbath” and rejecting his laws. He was an inch from destroying them in the wilderness but holds back so that other nations couldn’t accuse him of reneging on his promise to take them to the Promised Land.

          So what does God do to punish them? Like holding a dog’s nose to the soiled carpet, “I defiled them through their gifts–the sacrifice of every firstborn–that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD.”

          Bible Hub has a comparison of various translations of 20:26. It’s pretty clear.

        • Sarcastocles

          Wow. Just wow. God is even more of a monster than I thought.
          Now, I’m nothing close to a perfect being, but there’s no way I’m going to go around worshiping my moral inferiors.

    • MNb

      “In the Bible, life and death have both a physical and a spiritual dimension. ”
      Hence it must be true?

      • Rick

        No. Not sure how you would conclude that as an implied logical necessity.

        • MNb

          I didn’t conclude that, I asked you. Thanks for agreeing. It means that I can shrug your entire comment off. I simply deny that spiritual dimension (as a materialist I do) and according to you I don’t have to take the word of the Bible for it.

  • Matthew Alton

    Who designed/created God?

    • MNb

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster, obviously. He planted all kinds of gods in the heads of people. He must keep himself busy one way or another, mustn’t he? And for The Flying Spaghetti Monster we have irrefutable evidence:

      http://www.liberatedthinking.com/data/Info/fsm/fsm.html

  • Matthew Alton

    If it were not true these others would have disputed his claim.

    These others were not named. So how would they even know they were the people being referred to? How is Paul’s claim of 500 witnesses corroborated? If it is just that — a flat assertion without corroborating evidence — why on earth should we believe it?

    Also no enemies of Christianity at the time disputed these things.

    How would they know these things existed? Maybe they did dispute them and it was not recorded. Maybe they disputed them, it was recorded, and then the record was lost or destroyed. There are many plausible scenarios almost any of which is orders of magnitude more probable than resurrection.

    Have you actually seen what scientists have done or just read about their discoveries? You accept their word Bob just as we accept the word of witnesses.

    Dead wrong. We are perfectly free to replicate scientific experiments and research and determine the veracity of claims for ourselves. This is the definition of science. Nobody asks anybody to believe anything on faith. Our claims are falsifiable. They are supported by mountains of evidence. Religious myth is not falsifiable. There is absolutely no evidence for any of it. See the difference? I’m betting not.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I’ve written more about the poor argument the 500 “eyewitnesses” are here.

  • wtfwjtd

    This is one of my favorite posts, and among some of the first reading I did in helping me finish my de-conversion process. It’s good to see it again, and just in time for Easter too!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Thanks! I’ve got a bit of an Easter deluge going on, but it seemed appropriate to dredge up some of the old ones for the season.

  • decathelite

    Also, technically Jesus is guilty of sin according to the rules set up by God (oops himself), so he isn’t really an innocent sacrifice.

    Eze 20:27 Therefore, son of man, speak to the people of Israel and say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘In this also your fathers blasphemed me by forsaking me:’

    In the end, Jesus forsakes God (oops, himself) – Matthew 27:46 and actually is guilty of blasphemy. So he isn’t really sinless, unless there is some massive double standard going on.

  • c.k. lester
    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Hell is not “an eternity of torment.”

      Those Christians who say that it is have New Testament verses they can point to.

      Nobody would agree that torturing someone for all eternity is at all just or loving.

      Seriously? You don’t know that this is common in some Christian circles?

      If sin is a disease, God has the medicine. He offers you that medicine freely. You can reject it and die, or take it and live.

      No, it’s not offered to me. I can’t just believe stuff on command. (Try to believe in leprechauns and see how well that works for you.) I believe stuff for which there is evidence—indeed, I can do nothing else.

      God had told Adam and Eve, simply, that if they disobeyed Him and ate of that particular tree, they would die.

      They were moral children. They are judged for failing a test they couldn’t pass? Weird.

      He didn’t say he would kill them, but that they would die.

      The fruit is described as if it’s covered in arsenic. God said that they would die pretty much immediately. Read the comment in the NET Bible for confirmation.

      And—what do you know!—the snake was correct. Adam lived to be 930 years old.

      But Satan convinced Adam and Eve that God could not be trusted.

      It was a serpent, not Satan. Let’s not reshape the Bible to fit our preconceptions.

      Satan deceived them into believing God was acting selfishly, not selflessly.

      It’s kind of hard to object to moral knowledge. Even the Bible celebrates it.

      They understood obedience and disobedience

      If they understood morality, then what was the point of the knowledge imparted by the fruit?

      None of us, since then, have trusted God enough to not sin.

      We come out of the box imperfect. It’s how God made us. Deliberately. And you want to take the blame for you being how God made you?

      Huge deal, because the payment is death.

      Not really. He’s not dead now, is he? If not, I guess he didn’t die.

      he paid it for you, without even knowing if you’d accept it.

      Accept it? I didn’t accept Adam’s “sin.” Why must I accept Jesus’s payment?

      That’s not morally acceptable to a perfectly just God.

      Perfectly just? The guy is a genocidal maniac. You’ve read the OT, right?

      Besides, that’s anarchy, and nobody likes that idea.

      It’s anarchy to just forgive? That’s how you do it, right?

      God says, “Look, I paid your debt. Now don’t go and try to extract payment from others.”

      So no one understood how forgiveness works before Jesus?

      You can choose, instead, to pay the debt yourself.

      That’s how human justice works. Sounds good to me. Trouble is, God apparently doesn’t work that way.

      Satan did one better for you: he has people convinced that the wicked will burn for all eternity in hellfire.

      Convince the evangelicals and then get back to me when you’re done.

      Similarly, something bad happened in the heart of Lucifer.

      You’re connecting a lot of dots here. Don’t think you’re overextended?

      Living a sinless life is not impossible.

      Agreed. Job did it.

      He did it as an example and as proof that God’s requirements for living in paradise (love) are not impossible.

      I think you’re contradicting yourself. You’ve said both that we can and can’t live a perfect life and earn our way into heaven.

      As you were before you were born, so shall you be after hellfire.

      Why was I made if God knows that I’ll never get into heaven?

      The reason the author doesn’t understand God is because he’s fallen for Satan’s deceptions against the character, kingdom, and plans of God.

      God gave me a big brain to use, I would think. No?

      • c.k. lester

        I know that many Christians believe in an eternal torment for the wicked, but it’s simply not supportable from the Bible. Those who believe it latch on to one or two verses that could be misconstrued when taken out of context (or simply distorted), but the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, treats the final consequence of the wicked as a destruction. See here (http://indisputable.org/) about the fate of the wicked.

        I understand not believing stuff on command, and I don’t think you’re expected to. But you have to enter the dialog if you want to relate to God. He has shown Himself; now you take the step and set aside your doubts and skepticism and approach Him, if only to say, “OK, I’m going to test this theory out.” Of course, the Gospels are a good place to start.

        Adam and Eve absolutely could have passed that test (that is, remained trusting of and obedient to God). Why do you think it was impossible?

        > The fruit is described as if it’s covered in arsenic.

        That’s your interpretation, but it cannot be concluded from the plain text.

        Satan possessed the serpent and worked through it.

        > If they understood morality, then what was the point of the knowledge imparted by the fruit?

        Experiential knowledge.

        Imagine you tell your child, “Don’t touch the stove when the ring is red, or you will burn your fingers! It will hurt really bad! You don’t want to feel hurt. It hurts!” How do you impart experiential knowledge to that child so they understand what “pain” is? They’ve never experienced it! You don’t take the child’s hand and touch it to the burner and say, “That’s what pain is. Now, don’t touch the burner.”

        Adam and Eve knew about disobedience and its consequence (death), but they hadn’t “experienced” it. They did not have that experiential knowledge. AND THAT ISN’T A BAD THING in this case. God wanted to keep the consequences of sin away from Adam and Eve, just like you would want to protect your children from harm due to disobedience (touching a red stove top, playing in traffic, etc.).

        > We come out of the box imperfect. It’s how God made us.

        False. Adam and Eve were perfect. We, because of degeneration, aren’t quite so perfect.

        Oh! And the purpose of the fruit was for testing allegiance. There wasn’t even a “moral” purpose to it! God simply said, “Trust me and eat of everything of the tree and live full and happy lives.” Satan said, “God is lying. Take of the fruit and you’ll see what good and evil really is!” They did and we suffer for it. (But, remember, God has a plan to restore paradise, so we’ve got that going for us.)

        > Accept it? I didn’t accept Adam’s “sin.” Why must I accept Jesus’s payment?

        This is like an AIDs victim saying, “Doctor, I didn’t accept this AIDs. Why must I accept your treatment?”

        You can accept or deny the fact that due to your selfishness you’re not fit for heaven. But that doesn’t change the fact that God made a way for you to be made fit.

        You were, sadly, born with a disease you inherited from your father. But God has the cure. Yay!

        > That’s how human justice works. Sounds good to me.

        > Trouble is, God apparently doesn’t work that way.

        No, God will honor your free will. If you choose to die instead of live, God will honor that. He will let you succumb to the disease you have, even though He has the cure, if you so choose. Justice will be done, even though mercy was there for the taking.

        > Convince the evangelicals and then get back to me when you’re done.

        Study it for yourself. You can start here: http://www.helltruth.com/

        > You’ve said both that we can and

        > can’t live a perfect life and earn our way into heaven.

        Let me clarify: we don’t have the power ourselves to live sinless lives. We don’t have the power or ability ourselves to be selfless. But God offers us that power. We can, with His help, live sinless lives. This is only possible by faith in Jesus.

        > Why was I made if God knows that I’ll never get into heaven?

        Well, you’ll have to ask your parents. They made you. And at the end, if you “never get into heaven,” it will be because you rejected God’s gift. You will have rejected God’s paradise.

        > God gave me a big brain to use, I would think. No?

        Amen to that!

        And when you reason objectively, you’ll discover that life is impossible without supernatural intervention. That is, there are no natural processes to explain the “emergence” (the “abra-cadabra” of abiogenesis and evolution) of life from non-life. Everything we know about science says that abiogenesis is impossible. Every attempted theory of abiogenesis has been falsified. Currently competing theories for abiogenesis are mutually exclusive. That means, even among proponents of abiogenesis, there are some who subscribe to a theory that others have falsified.

        Reason leads us to believe that life requires a supernatural creator. So, who is that creator? That’s our quest.

        • Pofarmer

          Look, all you have in end is a classic presuppositional argument. Occhams razor applies. You have not one single piece of evidence for anything you say. Give me evidence for The Fall, and maybe there could be a discussion worth having. Also keep in mind, many of us here were christians, with all that entails.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I appreciate that you’re replying to my comments. Not everyone does that.

          it’s simply not supportable from the Bible.

          And millions of Christians disagree. My conclusion: your foundation is interpreted by each person (or tradition) and shaped as needed. That’s hardly firm enough to argue that this says anything meaningful about reality.

          He has shown Himself

          You mean as Jesus? That story is insufficient evidence.

          now you take the step and set aside your doubts and skepticism and approach Him

          I’ll think about it after you do the same to Quetzalcoatl. Or Shiva.

          “OK, I’m going to test this theory out.”

          Been there; done that. Search “Atheist Prayer Experiment” on this blog.

          Adam and Eve absolutely could have passed that test (that is, remained trusting of and obedient to God). Why do you think it was impossible?

          Didn’t say it was impossible. I’m saying that it’s ridiculous to pose a moral challenge to a person with the morality of a toddler.

          That’s your interpretation, but it cannot be concluded from the plain text.

          You followed up with the source that I suggested? That’s at least one scholarly source that agrees with me.

          Satan possessed the serpent and worked through it.

          Or not. Now that’s something that cannot be concluded from the plain test.

          Adam and Eve knew about disobedience and its consequence (death), but they hadn’t “experienced” it.

          I think you’re having a hard time with “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” They hadn’t eaten the fruit yet, remember?

          Try to let the text speak for itself without imposing your theology on it.

          False. Adam and Eve were perfect. We, because of degeneration, aren’t quite so perfect.

          Uh, yeah. That’s what I said.

          Satan said, “God is lying.

          (1) It was a serpent, not Satan. (2) They didn’t die when they ate it. Who’s the liar now?

          This is like an AIDs victim saying, “Doctor, I didn’t accept this AIDs. Why must I accept your treatment?”

          No. AIDS is opt-in. “Adam’s sin” isn’t—we just get it whether we want it or not.

          that doesn’t change the fact that God made a way for you to be made fit.

          Nope. As I’ve made clear, I can’t just believe stuff. Gotta have that evidence.

          He will let you succumb to the disease you have

          You mean the “disease” that I was born with? Gee, thanks God. What a pal.

          even though mercy was there for the taking.

          It’s not. You understand, right?

          Let me clarify: we don’t have the power ourselves to live sinless lives.

          That’s rather different than: “[Jesus] did it as an example and as proof that God’s requirements for living in paradise (love) are not impossible.

          Well, you’ll h ave to ask your parents. They made you. And at the end, if you “never get into heaven,” it will be because you rejected God’s gift. You will have rejected God’s paradise.

          God just gets a pass for everything, doesn’t he? God creates this messed-up world but it’s all fabulous. Any error or sin is our fault.

          How do I get his job?

          And when you reason objectively, you’ll discover that life is impossible without supernatural intervention.

          You get an A for optimism. Sadly, it falls apart when you actually, y’know, reason. Browse the blog to see more of where I’m coming from.

          That i s, there are no natural processes to explain the “emergence” (the “abra-cadabra” of abiogenesis and evolution) of life from non-life.

          Life from nonlife is abiogenesis, not evolution.

          But why raise this example? Are you saying that it’s actually relevant? That your faith is built on it? That your faith would take a body blow if scientists came up with a consensus view of abiogenesis?

          Of course not. When your point devolves into “science has unanswered questions; therefore, God,” come back when you have a serious argument.

          Everything we know about science says that abiogenesis is impossible.

          So your faith is on the line then? If science reaches a consensus view, you’ll become a naturalist?

          Reason leads us to believe that life requires a supernatural creator.

          Oh? Respond to more of my posts. I’ve taken pains to make clear what my atheism is resting on. There’s your chance to convince me.

        • c.k. lester

          > And millions of Christians disagree.

          How is that relevant?

          The Bible is clear. Study it for yourself, if only to understand what the Bible says about the fate of the wicked.

          Please visit the web site I linked and read the section on “the fate of the wicked.” It shows what the Bible says about the fate of the wicked.

          You don’t have to believe what millions say or thousands say. You have the opportunity to find out for yourself.

          > I’ll think about it after you do the same to Quetzalcoatl. Or Shiva.

          That’s like me having a stash of gold and you telling me to try spending pyrite.

          Once you’ve found the genuine, why seek the fake?

          > Didn’t say it was impossible.

          You said, “They are judged for failing a test they couldn’t pass?”

          When you said, “a test they couldn’t pass,” aren’t you saying it was impossible for them to pass the test?

          > I’m saying that it’s ridiculous to pose a moral challenge to a person with the morality of a toddler.

          Adam and Eve were obviously more capable than a toddler. And if the one thing you’re not supposed to do is eat from a tree, given that you’re in paradise and can eat from any other of the many trees available, I don’t think that’s quite difficult.

          It wasn’t until the serpent came along with his lies that this became a problem.

          > You followed up with the source that I suggested? That’s at least one scholarly source that agrees with me.

          Sorry, I missed it, and I can’t find any suggested source. Can you point it out to me?

          > Or not. Now that’s something that cannot be concluded from the plain test.

          Actually, many verses in the Bible conclude that the serpent was Satan. For example, Revelation 12:9. See also Revelation 20:2. I think it is commonly accepted that Satan did possess the serpent in the garden and worked through it to accomplish his deed. A quick Google search confirms this.

          > (2) They didn’t die when they ate it. Who’s the liar now?

          They died because they ate it. Satan turns out to be the liar.

          > AIDS is opt-in.

          Tell that to hemophiliacs. It’s not always opt-in, and the ones who contract it without doing anything “risky” are certainly allowed to yell, “UNFAIR!”

          Life in a world of selfish creatures is unfair. That’s what God is saying. Life in a world of selfless creatures is awesome. The righteous will live that out forever.

          > You mean the “disease” that I was born with? Gee, thanks God. What a pal.

          God is a doctor offering you a cure and you’re rejecting it. Thank yourself! 😉

          > It’s not. You understand, right?

          I understand why you think it’s not.

          > That’s rather different than: “[Jesus] did it as an example and as proof that God’s requirements for living in paradise (love) are not impossible.”

          How is it different? You and I have access to the same healing balm that Jesus used to remain sinless. We, as human beings, can live without sinning just like Jesus, the human being, did.

          > God just gets a pass for everything, doesn’t he? God creates this messed-up world but it’s all fabulous. Any error or sin is our fault.

          God created a perfect world and people messed it up by choosing to be selfish, self-centered, “do things my way.”

          > Life from nonlife is abiogenesis, not evolution.

          Well, life has to get started somehow. 😉

          And abiogenesis is dead in the water. So where does that leave evolution?

          > But why raise this example? Are you saying that it’s actually relevant? That your faith is built on it?

          If there are only two options for life: natural process vs. supernatural cause, and we’ve ruled out natural process, then what remains?

          If we found a natural process by which life could occur from non-living matter, I would have to seriously reconsider my faith.

          > When your point devolves into “science has unanswered questions; therefore, God,” come back when you have a serious argument.

          That’s not my argument! My argument is, “Science has answered the question of abiogenesis in the negative!” Therefore, there must be a supernatural creator. Who is that creator? Theology has the answer.

          > If science reaches a consensus view, you’ll become a naturalist?

          “Reaches a consensus view” is not science. If science PROVES abiogenesis is possible by natural process, then, yes, I would have to accept that life does not require a supernatural creator.

          I’m enjoying this discussion, but I want you to know I’m not here to convince you. I’m trying to fix some errors in your perception of the Bible and the God of the Bible. Whether or not you are convinced of its truthiness or not is not my concern. I think it’s better for you to understand what the Bible actually says (wicked are destroyed in hellfire) instead of what people say it says (wicked are tortured in hellfire for all eternity).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          How is that relevant?

          Like I said: I’m happy to hear your interpretation, but just know that this isn’t the sole view of “Christians.”

          The Bible is clear. Study it for yourself, if only to understand what the Bible says about the fate of the wicked.

          I’m not sure that’ll help much. We’ve already discovered that different Christians interpret the Bible differently. It’s hardly an objective source of truth.

          You don’t have to believe what millions say or thousands say. You have the opportunity to find out for yourself.

          And this blog is my little project to explore what the Bible says. So far, I’m not impressed, I’m afraid.

          That’s like me having a stash of gold and you telling me to try spending pyrite.

          And in the society where iron is valued but gold not, that pyrite would be the more valuable commodity.

          You’re saying that your view is the correct one, and the Shiva worshippers have it all wrong. Yeah, I understand. But obviously, they see things differently. Again, don’t pretend that you’ve tapped into some sort of objective truth that all of us can understand if we’d just give it 5 minutes.

          When you said, “a test they couldn’t pass,” aren’t you saying it was impossible for them to pass the test?

          Asking them to make a correct moral decision when they have no moral knowledge is idiotic. Perhaps I wasn’t clear.

          Adam and Eve were obviously more capable than a toddler.

          Not in the morality department. Read the story.

          And if the one thing you’re not supposed to do is eat from a tree, given that you’re in paradise and can eat from any other of the many trees available, I don’t think that’s quite diffic ult.

          You know what’s also not difficult? Calculus. Weird thing, though—toddlers never score well. It’s like they simply don’t have the capacity.

          That’s almost like Adam and Eve being given a moral test for which they didn’t have the capacity.

          Sorry, I missed it, and I can’t find any suggested source. Can you point it out to me?

          NET Bible. Look for footnote 53.

          Actually, many verses in the Bible conclude that the serpent was Satan.

          Unfortunately, none of those verses are in the Garden of Eden section. Yes, I realize that the Bible gets reinterpreted. That doesn’t mean that the people of the time would’ve agreed. Serpent = serpent. Satan hadn’t been invented yet.

          They died because they ate it. Satan turns out to be the liar.

          Genesis 2-3 doesn’t talk about Satan.

          It’s not always opt-in, and the ones who contract it without doing anything “risky” are certainly allowed to yell, “UNFAIR!”

          Do you really not understand? You have to do something to get AIDS. I didn’t do anything to get tarred with Adam’s brush.

          Life in a world of selfish creatures is unfair. That’s what God is saying.

          What a beautiful Creator you imagine.

          God is a doctor offering you a cure and you’re rejecting it. Thank yourself! 😉

          Uh, we’ve been over this. I can’t accept it. Remember?

          I understand why you think it’s not.

          Then don’t proceed as if this “cure” is available to me.

          How is it different? You and I have access to the same healing balm that Jesus used to remain sinless.

          Because Jesus lived a perfect life while we live an imperfect life (but apparently can get forgiven). Why is the atheist teaching theology to the Christian here?

          God created a perfect world and people messed it up by choosing to be selfish, self-centered, “do things my way.”

          A baby is born. It did nothing wrong, but it must live in this messed-up world. Only a Christian would have to apologize for their god’s actions.

          And abiogenesis is dead in the water. So where does that leave evolution?

          Or cosmology? Or materials science? Or mathematics?

          I think it leaves them just fine, since none of them are abiogenesis.

          If we found a natural process by which life could occur from non-living matter, I would have to seriously reconsider my faith.

          That’s a nice thought, though I have a hard time imagining it. I imagine 5 minutes of mild angst, after which your faith would’ve recovered. “God works in mysterious ways,” you’ll say to yourself, as you walk away, whistling a gospel tune.

          Science has unanswered questions. Your challenge is nothing more than, “Science can’t answer everything; therefore, God.” Tip: don’t expect to get much mileage out of this argument when you give it to a thoughtful atheist.

          My argument is, “Science has answered the question of abiogenesis in the negative!”

          Interesting! Show me.

          “Reaches a consensus view” is not science. If s cience PROVES abiogenesis is possible by natural process, then, yes, I would have to accept that life does not require a supernatural creator.

          Wow. You evolution deniers really need to get some scientific maturity before you step outside and imagine that you can get into an adult conversation.

          Science has never proven anything. Yes, a theory or law becoming the consensus view is as good as it gets.

          I’m trying to fix some errors in your perception of the Bible and the God of the Bible.

          Summarizing your personal view is fine, but you don’t speak for Christianity.

          Whether or not you are convinced of its truthiness or not is not my concern.

          (“Truthiness” is a derogatory word, FYI.)

        • c.k. lester

          > Do you really not understand? You have to do something to get AIDS. I didn’t do anything to get tarred with Adam’s brush.

          Many victims of HIV are “innocent,” in that they got a life-saving blood transfusion. Unfortunately, it was from a tainted supply. So, yes, I guess they “did something.”

          Or TB. Somebody else sneezes and you breathe. So I guess that person “did something.”

          Just like you were born. I guess you can blame it on your parents, then, that you were born innately selfish.

          >> Life in a world of selfish creatures is unfair. That’s what God is saying.
          > What a beautiful Creator you imagine.

          The Creator is trying to save us from our stupidity. How is he not beautiful?

          > A baby is born. It did nothing wrong, but it must live in this messed-up world.

          I really don’t understand why you expect a world full of selfish people to be anything but messed up.

          The baby is born not because it acted, but because its parents acted. The parents are to blame for bringing a baby into a messed up world, not God. That’s the miracle of choice: we don’t have to do what we do.

          >> And abiogenesis is dead in the water. So where does that leave evolution?
          > I think it leaves them just fine, since none of them are abiogenesis.

          It leaves evolution without life…

          > That’s a nice thought, though I have a hard time
          imagining it.

          You can imagine life emerging from non-living material. You can imagine a butterfly evolving. Trust me, your imagination is functioning on all cylinders.

          >> My argument is, “Science has answered the question of abiogenesis in the negative!”
          > Interesting! Show me.
          Google it. “Abiogenesis.” Every experiment we’ve done falsifies the theory. All you get from “science” right now is, “imagine this,” “it’s possible that,” “maybe,” etc… And the 2LoT makes it impossible anyway.

          > Yes, a theory or law becoming the consensus view is as good as it gets.
          Like when the consensus was for a flat earth… or for junk DNA.
          Your appeal to numbers is a logical fallacy. You use it because you don’t have any empirical evidence, you just have “maybes” and “might haves.” You have a philosophy grounded not in empirical evidence, but a worldview that requires what you believe.

          > Summarizing your personal view is fine, but you don’t speak for Christianity.
          That’s fine. I’ll speak for the Bible.

          > (“Truthiness” is a derogatory word, FYI.)
          I know. I was using it ironically.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So you see my point then that I can’t “accept Jesus’ gift” because I can’t just believe stuff without evidence?

          Or TB. Somebody else sneezes and you breathe. So I guess t hat person “did something.”

          God wanted me to get TB? ’Cause he wanted me to be guilty of “original sin,” which I didn’t do anything to deserve.

          The Creator is trying to save us from our stupidity. How is he not beautiful?

          Uh, because he gave us that stupidity? Or is this a trick question?

          I really don’t understand why you expect a world full of selfish people to be anything but messed up.

          Ah, now you’re speaking like a naturalist. The theist must imagine that this messed-up world is part of God’s fabulous plan. (And then you worship this guy? Weird.)

          This dude can do whatever he wants, and you’ll just all it “good.” I wonder if he’s going to ask for your brain back at some point since you’re not using it.

          It leaves evolution without life…

          I’m trying to help you out here, dude. Don’t conflate abiogenesis with evolution. Makes you look like a moron.

          Another tip: the “science has unanswered questions; therefore, God” argument doesn’t help your credibility either.

          Google it. “Abiogenesis.” Every experiment we’ve done falsifies the theory.

          We’re at the adults’ table, remember? You said, “Science has answered the question of abiogenesis in the negative!” And this is your evidence?

          You’ve provided evidence that there is no consensus view. Yeah, I already knew that. That is very, very different from science concluding that abiogenesis is false.

          When you make a claim, expect someone to call you on it and demand the evidence. When you have none, makes you look foolish.

          the 2LoT makes it impossible anyway.

          And I suppose you got that from a Creationist site where all the smart scientists hang out?

          Show me how the Second Law of Thermodynamics makes abiogenesis impossible.

          Like when the consensus was for a flat earth… or for junk DNA.

          What does this mean? That science is crap? Explain this.

          As for junk DNA, read my post where I dismantle the idea that DNA proves design.

          Your appeal to numbers is a logical fallacy.

          Again, I’m not following. Show me precisely where I made this error.

          That’s fine. I’ll speak for the Bible.

          Join the club. Hundreds of millions say the same thing, and they disagree with you. I’ll let you guys fight it out.

        • c.k. lester

          > So you see my point then that I can’t “accept Jesus’ gift” because I can’t just believe stuff without evidence?

          Of course. Quite reasonable.

          > God wanted me to get TB?

          I don’t see how you make these conclusions. It’s like you’re reaching or something. Or can’t make logical pathways.

          God didn’t want you to get TB, but you did because somebody else acted badly.

          > Uh, because he gave us that stupidity? Or is this a trick question?

          So, every time you do something dumb, it’s God’s fault. (or your parents’ fault?)

          Got it.

          > Ah, now you’re speaking like a naturalist. The theist must imagine that this messed-up world is part of God’s fabulous plan.

          Ah, I see the problem. You think this is God’s plan. It’s not. His original plan was peace and joy forever in paradise.

          One of his children screwed it up. So God is in restoration mode. He’s saving his children from the consequences of their stupid choices.

          > I wonder if he’s going to ask for your brain back at some point since you’re not using it.

          Let’s try not to devolve into name-calling and insults.

          > Don’t conflate abiogenesis with evolution.

          I’m not conflating them! I’m simply saying that evolution requires life. Without life, you don’t have evolution.

          > Show me how the Second Law of Thermodynamics makes abiogenesis impossible.

          Start here: http://www.scienceagainstevolution.org/v7i1f.htm
          Then here: http://www.scienceagainstevolution.org/v7i2f.htm
          Finish here: http://www.scienceagainstevolution.org/v7i3f.htm > Like when the consensus was for a flat earth… or for junk DNA.
          > What does this mean? That science is crap? Explain this.

          You put so much faith in consensus views, that you would be arguing for the validity of a flat earth long ago, or junk DNA more recently, both of which have been falsified (or at least are no longer the prevailing consensus).

          I don’t go where the group goes, I go where the evidence goes.

          All you’ve spouted is “consensus!” At one time, the consensus was that cigarettes were healthy. Enjoy that cancer!

          > Again, I’m not following. Show me precisely where I made this error.

          Arguing “consensus” is an appeal to numbers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum) (that is, a number of people believe something to be so; therefore, it must be so) and is a logical fallacy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Of course. Quite reasonable.

          I’m glad we’re on the same page now. We weren’t a few comments ago.

          God didn’t want you to get TB, but you did because somebody else acted badly.

          Gotcha. God punishes me even though I didn’t do anything.

          So, every time you do something dumb, it’s God’ s fault. Got it.

          I’m glad we’re on the same page here as well. Really not that hard, is it? I come out of the box with the capabilities and defects that God gave me. He’s the designer.

          Ah, I see the problem. You think this is God’s plan. It’s not. His original plan was peace and joy forever in paradise.

          One of his children screwed it up. So God is in restoration mode. He’s saving his children from the consequences of their stupid choices.

          (1) Giving a calculus test to a toddler has predictable results. Giving a morality test to a toddler has predictable results.

          (2) You wouldn’t blame me for something I didn’t do. Weird that God does, however. Maybe it’s just more of that “whatever God does is great, by definition” thing.

          (3) It’s a shame that two mental infants can outsmart God’s fabulous plan. Must not’ve been that foolproof if two fools defeated it.

          The Garden story is a myth. Any halfway-intelligent god would’ve put a dangerous tree out of harm’s way. Or put a fence up around it. Or any of a dozen obvious ways to avoid what happened.

          I’m not conflating them! I’m simply saying that evolution requires life.

          OK. Tell that to the guy who commented under your name and said: “there are no natural processes to explain the “emergence” (the “abra-cadabra” of abiogenesis and evolution) of life from non-life.”

          Start here…

          Sorry, I don’t have time to waste at Creationist sites. The way this works is, I spend half an hour to discover that, yes, this is indeed mindless crap just like all the rest. And then you dump another pile of links on me.

          If you want to give us a summary, however, I’ll be interested to read that.

          the coup de grâce of abiogenesis

          It is weird that abiogenesis is so obviously dead in the water, and yet the biologists just don’t get it. I guess they’re all stupid? Or maybe they’re on the take.

          You put so much faith in consensus views, that you would be arguing for the validity of a flat earth long ago, or junk DNA more recently, both of which have been falsified (or at least are no longer the prevailing consensus).

          (1) I do indeed accept the consensus view of science. If you have anything better, let me know.

          (2) On the topic of junk DNA, explain the c-value enigma.

          I don’t go where the group goes, I go where the evidence goes.

          And in fields where you’re layman, you’re not qualified to evaluate the evidence. I’d have thought that you’d be the first to realize this problem.

          Arguing “consensus” is an appeal to numbers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A… (that is, a number of people believe something to be so; therefore, it must be so) and is a logical fallacy.

          You know that advice about how you should give that email a proofread before you click Send? That.

          You’re wrong. I care about the views of the majority of a particular group of experts. This is not argumentum ad populum. It is, however, a popular (if hilariously poor) retreat for people who want to give themselves license to judge things they’re incapable of judging. Like where the evidence points in a scientific field.

        • c.k. lester

          >> God didn’t want you to get TB, but you did because somebody else acted badly.
          > Gotcha. God punishes me even though I didn’t do anything.

          What?! How is God punishing you when somebody else causes you grief? That’s truly inexplicable.

          > Giving a morality test to a toddler has predictable results.

          I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree about Adam and Eve’s capability as moral agents. I agree with you that the scenario you propose would be inane, but I don’t agree that they were toddlers in that regard.

          > (2) You wouldn’t blame me for something I didn’t do. Weird that God does, however.

          God holds you responsible only for what you do.

          > (3) It’s a shame that two mental infants can outsmart God’s fabulous plan. Must not’ve been that foolproof if two fools defeated it.

          They didn’t outsmart God. They outsmarted themselves. They lost paradise because they believed God was out to do them wrong (hey, kinda like you!).

          > Tell that to the guy who commented under your name and said: “there are no natural processes to explain the “emergence” (the “abra-cadabra” of abiogenesis and evolution) of life from non-life.”

          Notice how they are separately considered. That means I consider them two separate things. If I thought them analogous, I would write “abiogenesis/evolution.”

          > Sorry, I don’t have time to waste at Creationist sites.

          It’s not a creationist site. But, I’m not going to waste time either with someone who has their head buried in the sand.

          > The way this works is, I spend half an hour to discover that, yes, this is indeed mindless crap just like all the rest. And then you dump another pile of links on me.

          You asked me how the 2LoT prevents abiogenesis. I provide that information. You engage an ad hominem argument because… well, I don’t want to ascribe motive because I can’t read your heart or mind. But my answer is there, at those links.

          Fact is, the links I provided give a good explanation of the 2LoT, then explain why the 2LoT prevents abiogenesis. It answers your question.

          > (2) On the topic of junk DNA, explain the c-value enigma.

          You want me to explain the C-value enigma, but you don’t want to read about how the 2LoT prevents abiogenesis?

          I’ll pass. You won’t listen, and then you’ll just dump another question on me.

          > I don’t go where the group goes, I go where the evidence goes.

          It seems you go where the group tells you where the evidence goes.

          > You’re wrong. I care about the views of the majority of a particular group of experts.

          I called it! 😀

          You combine the argumentum ad populum and argumentum ab auctoritate! An appeal to the numbers of authorities. Clever. Just not logical. 😉

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree about Adam and Eve’s capability as moral agents. I agree with you that the scenario you propose would be inane, but I don’t agree that they were toddlers in that regard.

          After you eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you’ll understand all about good and evil. Before, you don’t. That’s the whole point, right?

          You seem to want to imagine that they knew all about morality before they ate the fruit that gave them knowledge of morality.

          God holds you responsible only for what you do.

          Though it’s odd that I’m still tarred with Original Sin® even though I didn’t do anything.

          Notice how they are separately considered. That means I consider them two separate things. If I thought them analogous, I would write “abiogenesis/evolution.”

          Sorry, then I must have no idea what you were talking about. You referred to “the ‘abra-cadabra’ of abiogenesis and evolution.” What’s the abracadabra of evolution?

          It’s not a creationist site.

          OK, thanks for the correction. What’s his motivation, then? I couldn’t find an About page.

          But , I’m not going to waste time either with someone who has their head buried in the sand.

          Would the same charge be valid for someone who refused to look at flat Earth sites? Or astrology sites? Or alchemy sites?

          Or would someone be entitled to follow the scientific consensus?

          You asked me how the 2LoT prevents abiogenesis. I provide that information.

          I’ll read your summary. If that’s not enough for you, then call me closed minded or whatever you choose.

          Fact is, the links I provided give a good explanation of the 2LoT, then explain why the 2LoT prevents abiogenesis. It answers your question.

          It’s like the guy with the perpetual motion web page.

          This guy has a simple proof that the Second Law makes abiogenesis impossible, and yet the scientific consensus rejects it. Does this guy deserve any of my time?

          You want me to explain the C-value enigma, but you don’t want to read about how the 2LoT prevents abiogenesis?

          Scientific consensus vs. nutty guy who has a web site. Seriously, they’re not the same thing. I’ll lean on the former without apology.

          It seems you go where the group tells you where the evidence goes.

          Yep. Again: tell me a better way. (Or should I assume that you have no better way since you didn’t answer this last time?)

          You combine the argumentum ad populum and argumentum ab auctoritate! An appeal to the numbers of authorities. Clever. Just not logical. 😉

          Wrong again. An appeal to an authority isn’t the same as an appeal to the scientific consensus, Mr. Latin Guy. And I await your explanation for what’s better.

        • c.k. lester

          > After you eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you’ll understand all about good and evil. Before, you don’t. That’s the whole point, right?

          > Though it’s odd that I’m still tarred with Original Sin® even though I didn’t do anything.

          What is original sin? You’re not guilty except by what you do, not by what you are.

          Ah! I get it! OK, Catholicism baptizes babies because they have the wrong idea. OK, OK. I get where you’re coming from.

          No, babies aren’t “guilty” in any reasonable sense. You die as a baby, you get to go to heaven. Probably. I’m not 100% sure, but I am 99% sure.

          I am 100% confident in God’s ability to judge fairly.

          > What’s the abracadabra of evolution?

          “Emergence.”

          > OK, thanks for the correction. What’s his motivation, then? I couldn’t find an About page.

          Questioning evolution scientifically.

          > Would the same charge be valid for someone who refused to look at flat Earth sites? Or astrology sites? Or alchemy sites?
          > Or would someone be entitled to follow the scientific consensus?

          You are always entitled to follow, even when the consensus is wrong. It’s just generally not very logical nor scientific.

          > It’s like the guy with the perpetual motion web page.

          You asked for the information. Read it or don’t. No matter to me anymore.

          > Scientific consensus vs. nutty guy who has a web site. Seriously, they’re not the same thing. I’ll lean on the former without apology.

          Many a scientist who disagreed with the “consensus” has been labeled a “nutty guy.”

          Now we see you as you truly are. You don’t care about the truth. You care about being seen as right.

          > Yep. Again: tell me a better way.

          You don’t bother listening, even when you ask for the answer! I have no motivation to keep telling you anything.

          >> You combine the argumentum ad populum and argumentum ab auctoritate! An appeal to the numbers of authorities. Clever. Just not logical. 😉
          > Wrong again. An appeal to an authority isn’t the same as an appeal to the scientific consensus, Mr. Latin Guy.

          Actually, it is. You conflate “scientist” with “expert” or… what other word can we use? “Authority!”

          So, you appeal to the scientific (the authority of scientists) consensus (number). And that’s the truth, facts be damned!

          Of course you can choose to NOT investigate opposing ideas. But when you ask for proof of how the 2LoT prevents abiogenesis, and then pull from your bag of Hand-Waving Tricks, it’s not conducive to the conversation nor your education.

  • RichardSRussell

    Re #3: As I’ve often pointed out, it really isn’t much of a “sacrifice” if you get to take it back a day and a half later. (Even calling it “3 days”, with the standard Christian tendency to exaggerate, doesn’t make much difference compared to an eternity of being truly dead.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Hello!? It had to be three days (and three nights) because of Jonah!

      QED

    • wtfwjtd

      “Re #3: … it really isn’t much of a “sacrifice” if you get to take it back a day and a half later. (Even calling it “3 days”, with the standard Christian tendency to exaggerate, doesn’t make much difference compared to an eternity of being truly dead.)”

      Three days or less sounds minuscule compared to being tortured for eternity by a just and loving God.

  • RichardSRussell

    Well, there was this teenage girl whose boyfriend was undoubtedly boning her regularly, and she starts to get a little swelly of the belly, which might well have torqued off her old man. So he asks “Was it that bum Joseph who’s always making eyes at you?”, and she replies “No, dad! What kind of slut do you think I am? It was a visitation by the Great Holy Father himself, in a dream. Yeah, that’s the ticket! And you have the gall to call yourself an observant Jew, a pious man of faith, but you don’t recognize a miracle when it happens under your very own roof.”

    Yeah, I figure that’s about how Jesus got to be God’s son.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      And Jewish girls “in trouble” ever since have found that to be a reliable excuse.

  • RichardSRussell

    2. Jesus did not die on a cross, but on an upright post with no cross beam. Hence was not crusified.

    Good to know that Pontius Pilate found the moral courage to resist all those pleas of the common people to “Crucify him! Crucify him!”. Thanks for bringing us up to speed. My attitude toward the Romans has just improved a couple of notches.

  • MNb

    “The Bible clearly explains”
    Hence it must be true?

  • Jasmine James

    I think he nailed it, pun intended. Brilliant!

  • aisiantonas

    Er, of course the crucifixion doesn’t matter if Jesus isn’t divine. You can argue all you like that Jesus is not divine, but withholding the assumption that he is divine and then saying that the doctrine of the atonement doesn’t make sense is ridiculous. The doctrine of the atonement presupposes the divinity of Jesus.

    • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

      He didn’t withhold the assumption of divinity:

      “But don’t worry—God sacrificed Jesus, one of the persons of God, so mankind could go to heaven instead.

      So God sacrificed himself to himself so we could bypass a rule that God made himself and that God deliberately designed us to never be able to meet? ”

      Jesus’ divinity adds nothing to make sense of the resurrection – it’s just another part of the total absurdity.

      • aisiantonas

        Ok, he admits the assumption again later. I was noting this response – Was Jesus not a man but actually a god? If so, that fact has yet to be shown – to the question ‘ Sure, death sucks, but why single out this one?’ The answer to that question is that this death is singled out because it’s God’s death. If it isn’t God’s death, or at least the death of God’s chosen representative, or something in the ball park, then there is indeed no reason to single it out. Withholding the assumption here is what bothers me.

        As to the quotation supposed to convey the absurdity of the whole idea, I can only say that that’s an uncharitable simplification of an account of the atonement which I would reject anyway.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          Do you believe in eternal damnation?

        • aisiantonas

          Interesting question. I guess I’m a universalist of hope, in that I hope all (even Fritzl and Pinochet, to return to an earlier discussion) will be saved – though thinking about Fritzl, Pinochet etc is partly why I wouldn’t go beyond hope.

          I do not think that God has arranged affairs after death specifically in order to maximise the suffering of sinners, eg, by creating a lake of fire. In a purely speculative vein, though, I’m happy to imagine some possibility such as Stalin ‘wandering’ for years around some sort of representation of the Gulags, coming to identify with the suffering of each his victims one by one. The anguish thus ensuing might, for all I known, be comparable to the anguish of being submerged in a lake of fire, except that the Gulag anguish strikes me as being good and the fire anguish strikes as being entirely bad.

          Nor do I think that our chances to repent and believe expire at the end of this life. Indeed, I would expect God to arrange affairs after death specifically in order to maximise the chance that sinners will repent. Perhaps some never will. That’s not for us to know on earth.

        • 90Lew90

          It strikes me as though you’re making it up as you go along. Not so long ago you could be burned alive for speculating like that.

        • aisiantonas

          I’m just reflecting on Scripture and Tradition as best as I am able. And no one burned Gregory of Nyssa at the stake – on the contrary, he was hailed as the Father of Fathers. He too was a universalist of hope.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          Well, in that case, your brand of Christianity doesn’t bother as much as many others – live and let live.

          You’re right that the nonbeliever doesn’t share any of your assumptions about Gods and sons of Gods. That’s because we see no reason to do so.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Or, consider this: bastards like Stalin die and wake up in heaven, just like everyone else. And they get the same profound wisdom that everyone else gets (which I’m assuming, since eternity with the moronic bunglers who live on earth now would get pretty tiresome after the first billion years).

          What would that be like for Stalin? He now has the compassion and wisdom of an angel, and he has eternity to live with the memory of what an SOB he was during life. Sounds like a learning experience as well as punishment.

        • aisiantonas

          It’s interesting how you and MNb have such conflicting intuitions about this. I think, in fact, that few people, if any, just wake up in heaven. God doesn’t zap people good. God leads those who are willing onwards into ever deeper fellowship.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We were speculating about the afterlife. Is mine less pleasant than yours?

          Is it any less plausible? I think the Bible rejects both of them.

        • aisiantonas

          I think my account is preferable insofar as it sees God respect human autonomy. And it’s not so clear that the Bible really does reject either account.

          ‘The Lord will not cast off for ever’ Lamentations 3:31, ‘and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ John 12:32 ‘through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.’ Colossians 1:20. ‘The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance’ 2 Peter 3:9.

          As to the contrary passages, well, I just don’t believe in inerrancy. The texts that speak of hell show that rejecting God’s love comes at a severe cost, but I do not feel obliged to conclude that that cost is a literal everlasting fire.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Where I come from, it’s customary for parents to sacrifice of themselves for their children–time, money, patience, and, if the need arose, they’d give their lives to safeguard their children.

          So Jesus had a bad weekend for his beloved children. OK, that’s cool. Not especially surprising that he’d do something noble, since he’s perfect.

        • aisiantonas

          I’m puzzled by this idea you seem to have that we should evaluate actions based on how surprising they are given the nature of the agent, rather than on how good the action itself is. Should the world marvel at every occasion Stalin gave one of his henchmen a sympathetic clap on the shoulder?

          Jesus endured agony for our sakes, and yes, that fact tells us about the goodness of God’s own nature. It’s good news! And, though it’s unexpected news, it is in a certain sense unsurprising news given an initial assumption of theism. That’s one step in a chain of reasoning that might lead someone to believe the good news.

        • Pofarmer

          “Jesus endured agony for our sakes,”

          So what changed? What did Jesus agony give us? Not a theological construct. Right here on earth, what did humanity gain by this supernatural act in a supernatural manner?

        • MNb

          “It’s good news!”
          I disagree. It robs people from their sense of responsibility. Historical examples in abundance.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          No, the world wouldn’t marvel if Stalin clapped a henchmen on the shoulder. But the world would marvel if Stalin sacrificed his life to save all the remaining victims of the Gulags.

        • 90Lew90

          That’s actually not a bad analogy, since Stalin put the people in the gulags in the first place. But I doubt very much that the world would marvel at such an act in such a thoroughly twisted scenario. Perhaps some might marvel grimly at Stalin’s madness. I doubt even more that anyone would be worshipping Stalin after such an act.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And yet the Christian story makes no more sense. God is furious that we are imperfect as he made us, and so obviously we must all burn in hell forever. But he finds a loophole: he sends himself to earth to die and placate his rage.

          That makes as much sense as Stalin sacrificing himself to free the prisoners in the gulags.

        • CodyGirl824

          Your interpretation of “the Christian story” is what makes no sense, Bob.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          What part makes no sense? It’s basically the story that I was taught growing up in conservative Christianity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Oh? I realize that my approach is snarky while yours will be accepting. That doesn’t make it wrong. Show me where I made a mistake.

        • wtfwjtd

          So, he demanded of himself, to kill himself, to placate himself, and then he forsook himself in the process, and then he didn’t even die? Huh? There is no point at all to this absurd, nonsensical merry-go-round of a story. How could anyone take this seriously?

          .

        • Pofarmer

          Ask Cody Girl. I see she’s back.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, now she’s flaunting her stupidity with jibberish about American history. I’m shocked.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          Oh, I only brought it up because asiantonas’ analogy with Stalin clapping someone on the shoulder was so far off base from real comparison. Unfortunately, even without such an act, many people did worship Stalin (after a fashion) in his own lifetime.

          There’s no guessing who people will worship and for what bizarre reasons. I find the notion of worshiping any person or entity repellent.

        • aisiantonas

          It wasn’t off base. The shoulder-clap was a minor good deed, which went strongly against the grain of Stalin’s evil nature. On Bob’s implied logic, this would make the shoulder clap more ‘remarkable and laudable’ than the noble deeds of a naturally noble person. My point is that we should evaluate deeds on their merits, and not on their degree of congruence with the doer’s nature.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          So Bob “implied” that the world should marvel if the worst dictator you can imagine did a minor good deed?

          Um … no. Bob implied no such thing. He stated clearly that parents sacrificing for their children was “customary”, not marvelous.

        • MNb

          “which I would reject anyway”
          Just because it’s an uncharitable simplification? Not because you can point out where this simplification is actually wrong? So much for being reasonable.

        • aisiantonas

          To clarify. There’s a particular account of the atonement, which I’ll call strong penal substitution, that is prominent among evangelicals and, I assume, is one that Bob has heard frequently from apologists who (bizarrely, as far as I’m concerned) seem to think it will make perfect sense to sceptics. Largely because of the evangelicals and their apologists, many non-Christians seem to think that it is the only account of the atonement. It’s not. I reject strong penal substitution, because no one has ever presented it in such a way that it seemed plausible to me. Bob’s summary seems as absurd as it does because a) strong penal substitution is as I see it, intrinsically implausible b) Bob has used his rhetorical talents to make it sound as implausible as possible.
          That’s no reflection on the doctrine of the atonement as such, since, as I’ve indicated, the doctrine of the atonement is not identical with strong penal substitution. And, as far as I understand, Bob wasn’t trying to criticise the doctrine of the atonement as such, so much as he was trying to criticise some things he’d heard apologists say about it.

        • 90Lew90

          “Rhetorical talents” or Occam’s razor?

        • MNb

          OK. You should realize though that there are about as many theologies as there are believers; it’s impossible, certainly in blog articles and in comments, to address every single interpretation. You may reject this particular account anyway, but if you want to have a serious discussion you should then tell us what your account is and why BobS’ simplification doesn’t apply to you. I’ll be the first to admit that there are atheists who want to prescribe you what you should believe, but you won’t find them on this blog (until now that is).
          What I try to say is that we sometimes must guess what the contents of your belief system are and unavoidably these guesses are sometimes wrong, exactly because theists never can agree on theology.
          As for atonement it still doesn’t make sense to me. If I understand you correctly you mean that my relationship with your god needs repair because of the mistake Adam and Eve committed (metaphorically or not) and that Jesus’ sac has made this possible.
          Well, I’ve never had any relationship with your god like I’ve never had any relationship with President Putin (and this false analogy doesn’t reflect well on your interpretation, because I can be very sure that it’s possible in theory and in practice to have a relationship with President Putin, while I maintain that the concept of a relationship with an immaterial being like your god is meaningless anyway), so there is nothing to repair.
          Metaphor or not, Adam’s and Eve’s mistake is not mine, so I don’t see why I should bother. The mistakes of Alexander the Great don’t bother me either. Your account of atonement assumes collective responsibility and I strongly dislike that since Hitler and his scumbags put it in practice. The community is not going to get punished for one member, nor is one member going to get punished for the entire community in my book.
          Next I was not even born when Jesus sacced himself for me, so I did not even have the chance to give him permission to do so or to tell him if I would appreciate it or not (you’ll guess correctly not). Finally I strongly dislike the idea that Jesus’ sac releases me from my responsibility for my own actions by suffering for my wrongdoings at beforehand. There are enough disgusting examples from christian history which show how that can play out.
          Of course you can argue now that my atheism shows that my relationship with your god is broken, but then you reduce your belief system to a meaningless tautology.

        • aisiantonas

          Yes, I realise that people have differences of theological opinion. I was merely noting why I remained unfazed by the absurdity of the quoted sentence.

          A brief response to your points. No I don’t assume collective responsibility, and no atonement doesn’t release anyone from their responsibility for their own actions.

          The ideal relationship between human and God goes like this: God know and loves us, we know and love God in return. Since you neither know nor love God (consciously), the relationship is broken. What the atonement achieves is, at least to start with, this: your will is realigned with God’s, and you accept God’s condemnation of human wrongdoing. Thus is the relationship repaired.

        • MNb

          “no atonement doesn’t release anyone from their responsibility for their own actions.”
          This implies responsibilty towards the people I interact with. Which makes the atonement you think so important totally superfluous. In the worst case – and like I wrote historical examples in abundance – your beloved imaginary relationship with your god will replace that responsibility towards your cohumans; in extreme cases the latter might even completely disappear. That’s the logical utter consequence of focusing on your god iso your cohumans.

          “The ideal relationship between human and God goes like this ….”
          Based on the assumption that there is such a relationship that needs to be repaired, an assumption I don’t see why I should grant it to you, like I explained above.

          Time for a concrete example. These people

          http://photobucket.com/images/god%20hates%20fags?page=1

          will totally agree with your doctrine of “the broken relationship with god” and happily point out that they are on an awareness campaign, urging them to take one important step to repair that relationship. You have nothing to bring up against them as they are totally in line with your doctrine. Every time two men (or two women) make love with each other they break their relationship with their god. So what these good christians want is exactly the same as you: “your will is realigned with God’s, and you accept God’s condemnation of human wrongdoing.”

          “Since you neither know nor love God (consciously), the relationship is broken”
          A toned down version of the tautology I ended my previous comment with. It still doesn’t make sense in any way.

        • aisiantonas

          ‘your beloved imaginary relationship with your god will replace that responsibility towards your cohumans’. No it won’t; my relationship with God depends on my relationship with my co-humans. If do not love His creatures, as He wills me to love them, I do not love Him.

          I presume those people also agree with your doctrine that evil should be opposed. You have nothing to bring up against them, because they are totally in line with your doctrine.

          I don’t know what you think a tautology is, but that’s not a tautology.

        • MNb

          Love is not the same as responsibility. The participants of the Cathar Crusade totally loved their victims and still slaughtered them with the words “God will decide who of them are innocent and will go to heaven.” Thanks to your doctrine of atonement they knew they always could clear their conscience.

          “Since you neither know nor love God (consciously), the relationship is broken.”
          Well, actually I’m not sure if this is a tautology or a circular argument. If you prefer I might also say that you are defining a relationship with an imaginary being into existence. Still it seems to me that “broken relationship” precisely means “not knowing or loving god” and then it’s a tautology indeed – a meaningless one. I repeat my comparison with President Putin again. I neither know nor love him (consciously or not). I never have had any relationship with him, so it’s an empty phrase to say my relationship with President Putin is broken. It’s same with your imaginary sky daddy. At least a relationship with President Putin is theoretically and practically possible; I cannot even begin to imagine how to build one with an immaterial being not having the means to interact with our material Universe, hence never answering prayers, hence always staying hidden. Perhaps it’s like the relationship a toddler builds with his/her teddybear? I wouldn’t know.

          Thanks for not addressing the concrete example I gave above. Just like you they claim to love and take responsibility for their targets. I’m happy to repeat:

          Every time two men (or two women) make love with each other they break their relationship with their god. So what these good christians want is exactly the same as you: “your will is realigned with God’s, and you accept God’s condemnation of human wrongdoing.”
          So they demonstrate at funerals etc. out of love and responsibility like yours – they urge people to repair their broken relationships with the imaginary sky daddy. As such they are good christians like you.

        • aisiantonas

          ‘The participants of the Cathar Crusade totally loved their victims and still slaughtered them with the words “God will decide who of them are innocent and will go to heaven.”‘

          No, that’s not love.

          “Since you neither know nor love God (consciously), the relationship is broken.”

          No, that’s neither a tautology or a circular argument. (Would it help if I pointed out that a premiss of the argument, if argument it is, is that God exists?)

          And yes I did address your concrete example. I pointed out that the example posed no special problem for a Christian doctrine of sin as against a secular understanding of evil. They, like me, are opposed to sin, and believing homosexuality to be a sin, they oppose it. They, like you, are opposed to evil, and believing homosexuality to be evil, they oppose it.

        • MNb

          “No, that’s not love.”
          How do you know? It doesn’t follow from your atonement doctrine.
          Would it help that I don’t see any reason to accept your premiss, see a good reason to reject it, that the analogy with President Putin makes clear that even if your premiss is correct it still doesn’t follow that my relationship with your god is broken?
          Thanks. Perhaps I missed the first time you addressed my example; Disqus kind of sucks. Now you seem to be a nice guy, but now is clear that sin for one christian (you) as quite something different than for others (they). As long as christians can’t agree what constitutes sin and what not the whole atonement doctrine just hangs in the air.
          That’s what I wanted to show. There is no single reason I should take it seriously. Whether you do or not is of course your business and nobody else’s; I can just neglect it.

        • aisiantonas

          It may not follow from my atonement doctrine, but I think it follows from any half-decent analysis of love!

          Putin doesn’t know you or love you, and he certainly didn’t create you. You have a relationship with God because God initiated it, by creating you, loving you, knowing you.

          I don’t think it really does really hang in the air. Christians are agreed that, whatever sin might be, the cross reconciles us to God despite our sin.

          I’m glad that we’ve got to understand each other better, anyway.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I think it follows from any half-decent analysis of love!

          I agree with your analysis, and all of us here probably do, too. That doesn’t address MNb’s concern, that the Bible can be interpreted like a sock puppet.

        • MNb

          “I think it follows from any half-decent analysis of love!”
          Exactly. Note that we don’t need a god for such analysis. Now the problem becomes this. I have no doubt that you are a nice guy. The question is: do you love your cohumans because of your atonement doctrine or does your atonement doctrine work well for you because you are a nice guy? From your answer I derive that the latter is the case.
          At the other hand I’m not a nice guy. My character has some serious flaws. I’m not talking about the internet version, but about the daily life one. You will understand that I’m not going to give any details; it’s sufficient that I probably wouldn’t like myself if I met someone with a character like mine.
          Still I have the strong desire to lead a good life. Your atonement doctrine is not going to help me; as the examples I gave show it may very well stimulate me to hurt and harm other people exactly because I would know that confessing and repenting would give me a clear conscience anyway. An old friend of mine (alas we have lost contact) recognized this and predicted that I would end as a bigot orthodox-reformed vicar. Fortunately that hasn’t happened, but it might have had I converted to christianity say 25 years ago.

          “whatever sin might be, the cross reconciles us to God despite our sin”
          Rejecting this has been the key, exactly because I don’t care about reconciling with any god, but do care about reconciling with my cohumans, who fortunately tend to be much more forgiving than I think I deserve.

          Why I say that the atonement doctrine hangs in the air:
          1. it assumes that god exists;
          2. it assumes that god wants a relationship with me and vice versa;
          3. it assumes that sin means what you say it means (muslims have a different view for instance);
          4. it doesn’t have a place for loving cohumans, so you need to add something if you want to, but it doesn’t provide any reason or stimulus for wanting this (think also of hermits, who have turned their backs to daily life);
          5. in certain interpretations (call them pervert if you want; the point is that the atonement doctrine doesn’t rule them out) it actually stimulates to hurt and do harm to other people.

          Indeed I never intended or expected to come to an agreement. My hope that you get my points has been fullfilled though. From these points I think I can conclude that BobS’ blog article is valid indeed.
          Thanks for your patience. I do appreciate it and hope you will come back to this blog, as our discussion has been rather fruitful indeed. That’s not always the case when I have a discussion with believers.

        • Pofarmer

          “and you accept God’s condemnation of human wrongdoing.”

          Just accept you’re a horrible worm and it’s all good. You gotta be a Catholic.

          Here’s the thing. I’m a relatively recent Atheist. I’ve never known God, nor thought I did. I always found people that thought they did, well, a slight bit creepy. If God is omniscient and immaterial he can’t be available. And if he is available he can’t be omniscient and immaterial. Although, I’m sure you want to have your cake and eat it to. Short version. There is no relationship to repair. You are living in a fantasy. End of story.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m seeing some points of agreement, which is good.

          What are these two ideas of atonement? Sounds like the other one is weak penal substitution?

        • aisiantonas

          There are various accounts going by the name of penal substitution, though as a matter of terminology I would call those that I prefer ‘representative condemnation’ theories. See Boyce on this page, ‘The Divine Exposure of Evil’ http://www.lastseminary.com/atonement/. Then there are the more Thomistic satisfaction accounts, as explained by Stump on the same page. These constitute the real foundation of the doctrine, as I see it. But once that’s laid, there are many storeys that can be built on top.
          There’s divine solidarity with human suffering, as voiced by Moltmann – though I disagree with the basic doctrine of God he works with. There’s another ill-named theory usually associated with Peter Abelard: the moral exemplar theory. The real force of it is that Christ’s passion is an extraordinary act of love which provokes love in us as a response. Then, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s the idea of the passion as a supreme theophany: nowhere is God more fully revealed than in this act of humble self-giving. And, though I think most attempts to turn it into a theory end up with nonsense, there’s the Christus Victor motif as a controlling metaphor. The significance of it all is that Christ has triumphed over death and sin. As it is written ‘death is swallowed up in victory’, as it is prayed (at least in the East) ‘Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life’. If it works as a theory at all, it’s that knowing that Christ has gone through death to resurrection conquers the fear of death, and all spiritual ills flowing therefrom, in us.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What I hear you saying is that the Bible is ambiguous. I’ll agree with you there. But does that give us license to just cobble together speculative metaphors and ideas into a theology?

          My approach would’ve been to see that it was ambiguous or incomplete and stop there.

        • aisiantonas

          No, the Bible doesn’t explain explicitly the ways in which the atonement is effective. Why should it? The main point is that it is effective.

        • Pofarmer

          Effective at what?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why should it? Why should the Bible bother giving any information that would resolve theologians’ debates?

        • aisiantonas

          Why should Paul or the author of Hebrews have attempted to settle in advance debates that only modern conservative evangelicals (and, in fairness, Bernard of Clairvaux) have considered important anyway?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m having a hard time with the idea of something being important to scholars centuries or millennia after the 1st century but not being of consequence to the authors of the books of the NT.

          If your point is that it doesn’t much matter to either of them (but theologians today have a little time on their hands and think up puzzles to wrestle with), OK.

        • aisiantonas

          The question of what makes a particularly topic theologically controversial is an interesting one, Basically, three things have to happen: people have to hold clearly defined opinions about the topic, some of those opinions have to be at odds with each other, some of those opinions have to be seen as undermining something essential to the faith. In the NT period, none of those conditions obtained for the topic of atonement. Bernard thought that Abelard’s examplar theory undermined something basic to the faith, and some evangelicals today think that any denial of what I call strong penal substitution undermines something basic to the faith. In general, though, people haven’t thought that a correct understanding of how atonement works is essential to the faith, and almost everyone has allowed that it works in a variety of ways.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So then if it’s dogma, it’s not dogma Christianity-wide but only within any particular denomination/sect.

        • aisiantonas

          No particular understanding of the atonement is established teaching throughout Christianity, but of course some doctrines are: any group prepared to deny the Trinity or the Incarnation is very far to the fringe.

        • Pofarmer

          First of all, you need to prove that there can actually be such a thing as men as Gods. Interestingly enough, the ancient Greeks who wrote the Gospels believed that there were lot’s of these. There don’t seem to be too many today. Jesus pretty much filled the type of a Greek Demi God.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X