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The Childish Faith of John Lennox (2 of 2)

its' ok for a child to have a childish faith; not so much an Oxford mathematicianThis is a two-part critique of an interview with Oxford professor John Lennox on the topic of the Problem of Evil. Read part 1 here.

Let’s continue with Lennox’s comments in bold, followed by my responses.

There is no logical incompatibility between evil and a God who is all powerful and all loving. God could have his reasons.

Yes, if you presuppose God, you can rationalize that he must have reasons that we just don’t understand. But that’s backwards from how anyone approaches a remarkable truth claim. Instead, we start with what we know (evil exists) and work forward to the best explanation (it doesn’t look like an omnipotent and all-loving God does). No seeker of the truth would start with the presupposition that God exists.

From the atheist’s standpoint, the vast majority of humans will never receive justice. The human heart rebels against the idea that there is no justice.

(What’s the deal with retribution with so many Christians? Life’s just unfair; you can’t just let it go at that?)

Imagine that everyone has a karmic bank account. The best among us leave life with a net positive, and the worst have a net negative. What evidence is there that after death we meet the Celestial Bank Manager to take our surplus or answer for the deficit? And why imagine that Christianity’s idea that all deserve infinite torment in hell is any less unfair than no supernatural audit at all?

Natural evil is sometimes manmade. Desertification can be caused by thoughtless farming practices. Earthquakes are made worse by people building in earthquake zones.

It’s hard to have God involved with and concerned about life here on earth and yet so uninvolved so that he’s not responsible for anything. This attempt to let God off the hook is embarrassing. He can’t speak for himself?

Lennox visited New Zealand just after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Yes, earthquakes are devastating, but tectonic movement is essential for life.

(Well, maybe life as we know it, but not life.)

Sure, we can find silver linings in disasters, and we must realize that many aspects of nature (fire, storms, earthquakes, etc.) can cause good and bad effects. Earthquake magnitudes follow a power law distribution, but what is that to God? It would be child’s play for him to clip all earthquake magnitudes at (say) 5.0. He could distribute the energy in a magnitude 8.0 earthquake over thousands of magnitude 5.0 earthquakes.

And why is it always the atheist who has to point out the amazing things that an omnipotent god could do?

“The problem of pain, suffering, and evil must be answered not just by theists but also by atheists. There are no simple answers.”

Sh*t happens. Nature doesn’t care. There is no celestial rule maker who shares our sense of right and wrong.

Simple enough for you?

Lennox had cardiac surgery that saved his life. Yes, he thanks God for that, but in that same year, his 22-year-old niece died from a brain tumor just a few weeks after diagnosis. Can God have intervened with Lennox but deliberately didn’t with the niece? He must be consistent.

Good for you for trying to be consistent, saying that it was the same God behind both medical issues. Let me propose a simpler explanation: there is no God, and medical science is what actually saved Lennox. Now there is no difficulty juggling a God that loves people but lets these disasters happen.

“What has atheism to say to my niece? Absolutely nothing. It’s hope-less. It’s got to say that that’s just how life is.”

Christianity offers empty hope and atheism doesn’t? Okay, I can live with that, but I have no use for a “hope” grounded on little more than wishful thinking. (But I understand that life can be very difficult. I appreciate that some people may drop the need for evidence to embrace this hope. I’m in no position to criticize. My complaint is only with the Christian who says that the evidence points to God.)

This reminds me of a podcast discussing a father who had lost a son, about 20 years of age. Anyone can sympathize with this tragedy, but the father had another problem: his son had not been “saved,” so the father’s theology placed the son in torment in hell. That’s a problem caused by Christianity. From an atheist’s standpoint, this problem simply doesn’t exist.

“Any hope at all is infinitely better than what atheism offers because it offers nothing—simply death and that’s the end.”

So you’ve got no use for evidence then? A Pastafarian afterlife with a beer volcano is more hopeful than the atheist nothing, so therefore it’s worth believing in? I would’ve expected a lot more from an Oxford professor than this childish faith.

This contribution from Lennox reminds me of Nobel prizewinner Linus Pauling’s ill-advised vitamin C megadosing or Nobel prizewinner William Shockley’s dabbling in eugenics and race politics.

Lennox is entitled to weigh in on Christianity and atheism just like anyone is. But his well-earned stature within mathematics does nothing to argue that his arguments are any better formed than any others.

What a waste of a brilliant mind. Maybe he should stick with mathematics.

Anything is possible,
but the historian wants to know
what is probable.
— F. C. Baur

Photo credit: Crazybananas

About Bob Seidensticker
  • http://www.facebook.com/norman.donnan Norm Donnan

    I guess the thing that amazes me as a Christian is atheists concept that,”If He is God He should therefore do this,or that”.I often read posts saying that Christianity infantilizes adults.,but to us who have more of an understanding of the spiritual realm,(good and evil) mans free will and the big picture ect,to me it is atheism that could be best described as “childish”, or at best “adolescent”.

    • kagekiri

      Is expecting internal consistency “childish”?

      When a being is declared as perfectly good, all powerful, with a plan, with absolutely love, but can’t even live up to “mere” human standards or basic ethics, what makes you think we should accept such a being as “divine”, let alone realistic or likely?

      God doesn’t even listen to what he calls “good” in the Bible, nor his own commandments.

      For example, not punishing children for the sins of their parents: something he supposedly explicitly does to every human ever, and multiple children in the Bible, such as the first child of David and Bathsheba, who God kills for David’s sins, or the children and workers of Job, who God allows to be killed in order to satisfy Satan’s bet, or every infant killed by God-commanded genocides.

      Or a pretty big one: forgiving without memory or payment, something Jesus says we should do both in parables and in plain wording. Yet this is something God apparently cannot do for us: he needs blood sacrifice.

      Also, bragging about increased knowledge of the spiritual realm is pretty funny, but mostly condescending. Imagine if I said “to us who have greater understanding of reality”, I’d sound like an arrogant ass, right? And I don’t even have explicit commands in the Bible to not be a stumbling block to others or to try and blend in if trying to convert people, as Paul repeats multiple times in the New Testament, which, well, you should.

      Paul wasn’t wrong there: coming in here and broadly insulting atheists with a half-argument and little Holy Spirit-juice isn’t particularly Christian (though of course, Paul did it too in Romans 2, but hey, as I’ve stated, consistency isn’t your religion’s strong point).

      Free will’s price is evil: why else would you effectively lose it in heaven? The only thing free will has done for the world is apparently, make God happy, and send a bunch of people to hell who wouldn’t have gone except for free will, and given God a bunch more mindless worshipers in the end, as you no longer choose good or evil in heaven.

      Expecting God to live up to his own standards is too much to ask, I guess. Let’s not even get started on how said standards, even if perfectly lived up to, would still fail to make God particularly good, moral, or admirable compared to any other bronze age god, let alone modern people.

      And that is including you, honestly; do you condone rape? You don’t? Then you’re better, more moral, than God.

      Do you think slavery is wrong, that women and minorities deserve rights? Yes? Bam, better than God.

      Do you kill your enemies families when they insult you? No? You’re better than God.

      God’s laws and actions are horrible, out-dated, and inhumane. Humanity deserves better than this God, than this backwards, archaic trash from the nightmares of our past.

    • RichardSRussell

      “… to us who have more of an understanding of the spiritual realm,(good and evil)”

      So, since you have such a deep understanding of the “spiritual realm”, where is it, exactly? Got any pictures? Maybe a URL?

    • Guest

      “…but to us who have more of an understanding of the spiritual realm…”

      Arrogant, condescending hot air.”to me it is atheism that could be best described as “childish””

      Why? You don’t actually explain.

    • http://twitter.com/ChardHollis Richard Hollis

      “…but to us who have more of an understanding of the spiritual realm…”

      Arrogant, condescending hot air. Nothing more.

      “to me it is atheism that could be best described as “childish””

      Why? You don’t actually explain.

    • Mick

      Norm Donnan, I’ll tell you what is infantile: A god who tells his priests that if they fail to give glory to his name he will rub shit on their faces.
      Malachi 2:3

    • Greg G.

      If you believe that eight people could manage the care and feeding of two of every species of animal on Earth for a year on a boat while water covered the mountains, you may be an infantilized Christian. (Genesis 6-8)

      If you believe Lot’s daughters got him drunk to sleep with him because they thought there was no man on Earth, even though they had just left Zoar, you may be an infantilized Christian. (Genesis 19)

      If you believe that a god who once wiped out nearly all life on earth with a global flood and two cities with fire and brimstone would need the Hebrews to perform genocide on the Canaanites and call it moral, you may be an infantilized Christian. (Joshua 6,8,10)

      If you believe that when Ruth uncovered Boaz’ feet, it was not a euphemism, you may be an infantilized Christian. (Ruth 3)

      If you believe that a prophet who kings sought for advice on battle tactics would hold a conversation with a talking donkey, you may be an infantilized Christian. (Numbers 22)

      If you believe that an omnipotent being requires a cosmic zombie to
      forgive a planet of humans if they telepathically beg for it because a
      naked rib woman ingested knowledge in the form of a fruit because a
      talking serpent told her to do it, you may be an infantilized Christian.

      • Norm Donnan

        If you believe there was this great big bang which caused a chemical reaction,then the chemical turned into bacteria and the bacteria turned into a fish which grew legs and wings and turned into butterflies and elephants and people you may be an infantilized scientist.

        • Greg G.

          If you believe that scientists think “there was this great big bang which caused a chemical reaction,then the chemical turned into bacteria and the bacteria turned into a fish which grew legs and wings and turned into butterflies and elephants and people” you may be an infantilized Christian.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ BobSeidensticker

          Norm: If you accept insane ideas without protest like that two quantum particles can communicate somehow instantaneously as “quantum entanglement” suggests or that quantum particles can “tunnel” out of a well for which they have insufficient energy, then …

          Oh–wait a minute. That’s the scientific consensus. Never mind!

        • DavidMHart

          Please tell me you are at least aware that that is a grossly caricatured version of our current understanding of the origins and development of life.

          Decades upon decades of research and discovery tell us that the most plausible explanation for the current diversity of life is that, given that no process of reproduction is perfect, every individual organism will be slightly different, and those differences can have an influence, however slight, on that organism’s chances of survival and reproduction relative to its peers, and that, over millions of years and countless generations, those differences can add up to allow (relatively) simple single-celled organisms to diversify into animals as different and complex as fish, butterflies and humans.

          And note that no serious biologists that I know of claim that single cells pinged into existence in one go; there must have been some period of self-replicating molecules before that level of complexity is reached. We may never be able to figure out exactly what form those earliest self-replicating molecules took, but we have several plausible hypotheses that do not require supernatural intervention, and we will not claim to have a definitive answer to that question unless we do turn up compelling evidence for one particular chemical origin hypothesis.

          By comparison, the creationist position essentially boils down to ‘We don’t need a complicated explanation, supported by many strands of mutually corroborating evidence, for how life got to be how it is. We have a book that says that a magic being did it, by magic’. And you have the chutzpah to claim that the people who accept the current scientific consensus are the infantilized ones.

        • Norm Donnan

          No David but just because you make it all sound really complicated and indepth doesnt mean it is true either,only their best guess.(at this stage)

        • DavidMHart

          “Best guess” is a bit of a dishonest distortion. “Best explanation, currently supported by the overwhelming preponderance of evidence” more like. Sure, you can call that a guess, if you like, just like you can say that the idea that the Earth is approximately spherical is our current ‘best guess’, but you’d be playing humpty-dumpty with the ordinary meaning of the word “guess” – which normally means just a hunch, supported by little or no evidence.

          Seriously, you should go and spend some time on Talk Origins, or read The Greatest Show On Earth, or some other good book explaining the case for evolution for the lay reader. If you would dismiss the theory of evolution by natural selection, you’ll have to come up with a literally unimaginable amount of contradictory evidence – something that no creationist, no matter how sincere, has ever managed to do.

        • Norm Donnan

          Sorry Dave Ive read plenty of books on evolution,the only differance is l also read the response to them,like John Sarfati’s”The greatest hoax on earth”,a point by point demolition of Dawkins book.A easy starting point would be “Creation” magazine,creationist have consistantly come up with the evidence but guess what,if it isnt what pro evo’s want it will be blocked from students so you all believe that evolution is abolute,well it’s not.

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

          Norm: And when you have the biologists saying something about evolution and the non-biologists saying that it’s all nonsense, how do you judge that debate? Do you figure that the scientists are the ones who can actually evaluate the evidence, so we go with them? Do you figure that all scientists are on the take, just spouting whatever line gets them the most grant money? Do you just pick whichever result you want to be the case?

        • Norm Donnan

          No Bob but l will go with the biologist who support creation and all the other scientists in all the other fields who support creation,biology is only one .

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

          Norm: So you’re consistent. You consistently pick whatever option that makes you feel best, regardless of what the scientists say. Is that right?

          You say that you go with the biologist who supports creation. But who cares what the biologists say? You already know what the truth is. Doesn’t much matter whether you can get a biologist to agree with you or not.

        • Norm Donnan

          No Bob,its irrelevant how l feel.One group of scientists look at a fossil or whatever and say what they think its life story was and another group look at the same evidence and come to a completely different conclusion .Because l believe the bible and so do the creationists scientists,when we can use the evidence of eyewitnesess and what the creator Himself says happened to us it trumps hands down what a group of people who are only guessing and what to us is completely unplausable .Thats why evolution will ever only be a theory and not science because it carn’t be tested or repeated which is what science requires to be called science.

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

          Norm:

          its irrelevant how l feel.

          At least we agree on this point.

          One group of scientists look at a fossil or whatever and say what they think its life story was and another group look at the same evidence and come to a completely different conclusion .

          I hope you’re well informed enough to know that it’s not at all like this. 10,000 biologists have reached the overwhelming consensus that evolution explains why life is the way it is, and the other group that you mention is a large group composed of not biologists.

          the evidence of eyewitnesess and what the creator Himself says happened to us

          What eyewitnesses? You’ve got a big hill to climb in proving any book in the Bible was written by an eyewitness. And just because the Bible says what God says, that doesn’t mean that it’s actually history.

          it trumps hands down what a group of people who are only guessing and what to us is completely unplausable .

          Wait—you just said that how you feel is irrelevant. So now all of a sudden you’re qualified to judge the good, bad, and ugly within science? That’s quite a turnaround.

          Thats why evolution will ever only be a theory and not science because it carn’t be tested or repeated which is what science requires to be called science.

          Uh, yeah, here again we lean on the people who actually understand this stuff, not believers who are offended by science.

          1. “Theory” means a well-founded explanation. A theory will never graduate to something more impressive (law, science, whatever). “Theory” is as good as it gets. More here. Germ theory (why we get sick) is another theory, and it has nothing to be embarrassed about for not being a law or science or whatever.

          2. The people who actually understand the facts (again, not you and me) tell us that evolution is about as well-supported by evidence as any theory within science.

          Your religious biases are showing.

        • Norm Donnan

          Well Bob it’s also your biases that are also showing again.It’s what the bible says that trumps our understanding,not how l feel about anything. For me the bible stacks up,l believe it.I may not understand it all absolutely but l dont need to ,I trust God as a father.I believe He has my best interests at heart,that He see’s the big picture that I wouldn’t be able to comprehend this side of eternity even if it was totally explained.People can only understand what they see from their limited comprehension.When we are in the spiritual realm, size, distance and time will all be irrelevant but here in the physical they limit and control everything. This is why you carn’t be anything but biased.

  • busterggi

    “I would’ve expected a lot more from an Oxford professor than this childish faith.”

    I wouldn’t, see Lewis & Tolkien.

  • RichardSRussell

    So basically what we’re getting from Lennox is Theodicy’s Biggest Hits.

    Here in Wisconsin, where we know cheese, we recognize Swiss when we see it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1374438730 Greg King

    Yes, his faith is in wishful thinking, and only a child would rely on wishful thinking to decide what is real and what isn’t. I can fall into wishful thinking, but eventually the evidence creeps in and reminds me why my thinking is wishful.

  • MNb

    Atheism has this to say to Lennox’ niece: bad luck sucks. As for the nothingness in afterlife: that’s more attractive to me than christian heaven.
    How twisted Lennox’ logic is is clear when he ” justifies” god allowing earthquakes by arguing that human incompetence makes their consequences worth.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ BobSeidensticker

      MNb:

      To expand on that, atheism goes beyond “this sucks” to try to do
      something about the problem. Atheists don’t stop in the backwater of prayer and think that they’ve actually accomplished something.

    • MNb

      @BobS: “Atheism goes beyond”
      While that is generally true it doesn’t apply to Lennox’ niece as she is dead already. Before she died atheism/science wasn’t capable of doing something. So for her it’s just “bad luck sucks” indeed.
      To us there should more to it. Her bad luck makes me realize my good fortune, despite having had a share of suffering too. Unlike her I have got plenty of opportunities. I feel, exactly because she was robbed of them, an obligation to make full use of them. Her bad luck also makes me realize that I have done nothing to earn my good fortune, so it contributes to my modesty. So we could say that her undeserved suffering motivates, inspires and urges me to try as hard as I can to improve our world a bit, just because I can and she can’t.
      Though she won’t take benefit of it herself this implies that her suffering was not for nothing, even if it is not much.

  • KarlUdy

    Sh*t happens. Nature doesn’t care. There is no celestial rule maker who shares our sense of right and wrong.

    Simple enough for you?

    I think the sticking point in your summary is working out what right, wrong, good and evil are, what they are based, and where they come from in atheism. The two answers I get from atheists are, “I think it is right/wrong/good/evil” and “My society thinks it is right/wrong/good/evil”. You don’t need to be an Oxford professor (or MIT graduate) to see the problems and limitations of such answers.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ BobSeidensticker

      Karl:

      The two answers [for morality] I get from atheists are, “I think it is right/wrong/good/evil” and “My society thinks it is right/wrong/good/evil”. You don’t need to be an Oxford professor (or MIT graduate) to see the problems and limitations of such answers.

      Your confidence is flattering but misplaced, I’m afraid. Help me through this one.

      In my view, morality comes from moral instinct (from evolution) and society. Is anything left unexplained? Seems to be complete to me.

      • KarlUdy

        In my view, morality comes from moral instinct (from evolution) and society. Is anything left unexplained? Seems to be complete to me.

        OK, so you want to go the long path through this argument. How does instinct explain where the categories right/wrong and good/evil come from?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ BobSeidensticker

          Karl:

          OK, so you want to go the long path through this argument.

          Sounds like you’re reluctant to go there, but that’s OK. We don’t have to. Evolution is a sideshow.

          Let’s focus instead on the actual argument: show that objective morality exists and is accessible and then show that a god grounds it.

        • KarlUdy

          Sounds like you’re reluctant to go there, but that’s OK. We don’t have to.

          I’m not reluctant. I am actually interested to hear you say how instinct explains where the categories right/wrong and good/evil come from. I forget what you said last time we had this discussion.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ BobSeidensticker

          Karl:

          You have a black box labeled “Morality.” You consult it with a problem. It responds back with an evaluation of the morality of that situation or question.

          If you were a Romulan or Klingon or some other intelligent species, you’d have different firmware that would provide different answers. “Right” and “wrong” (from your perspective) are what your firmware tells you.

          You can imagine an objective perspective if you like, but don’t bother telling us about it until you show that it exists.

          Now: response to my previous challenge. Show me that objective morality exists and is accessible, and then show that a god grounds it.

        • KarlUdy

          You haven’t answered my question. And your haste to change the topic makes it look like you really want to dodge the issue.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ BobSeidensticker

          Karl:

          That is the issue. That has always been the issue. Your reluctance to give evidence for objective moral truth (should be easy, right?) suggests that, like me, you see the claim as empty and indefensible.

          You have the burden of proof. And, surprisingly, it sounds like an actual burden to you. Isn’t showing why God grounds objective moral truth something you’d delight in telling us about?

          And “You haven’t answered my question” tells me zilch about what you didn’t understand about my last answer.

        • KarlUdy

          Bob,

          you said:

          In my view, morality comes from moral instinct (from evolution) and society. Is anything left unexplained? Seems to be complete to me.

          And when I have asked you questions about your view you have twice tried to change the topic to whether absolute morality exists, and now you’re telling me that I have the burden of proof?! Why should I have the burden of proof regarding a claim that you’re making about the origins of morality?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ BobSeidensticker

          Karl: You could get hot under the collar, or you could (1) respond to my attempts to sketch out my position and (2) offer a defense of your own position.

          Your call.

    • Kodie

      They come from us. What is so hard to believe that the universe doesn’t care what we do – it’s we who care what we do and we who have to live with what we do. Not just me, living with what I do, but you who have to live in a world where I exist, people 100 years from now who have to live with the consequences that we’ve all existed. Bowing to a deity, making that deity the one who is concerned with you, and not the rest of us, is anti-social behavior. You might feel quite social in your group, but performing morality for some universal accounting of your behavior is looking away from your effect on other humans. You could justify anything if you focus on the deity and not on your neighbors. You think the bible made up “love thy neighbor as yourself”? You think you’re doing that so god approves?

      Now, yeah, some people will do awful things and we have to live with the consequences, while they enjoy their freedom, or even their freedom from the tedium and responsibility of living. It’s like you want some counselor in the sky to make sure they don’t get away with it. If there were a god concerned with justice, why are humans so concerned with justice? Why do we have prisons and penalties for committing offenses?

      Some people will do great things and maybe their acts will snowball into popularity so that all may know their deeds and recognize, but billions of people plod such a good life day after day being generous and kind-hearted, and self-sacrificing in general anonymity. Maybe they are known around town, but not farther than that. If they are exemplifying the most moral behavior, if it’s for the satisfaction of making people happy and does not injure them to do so, that’s great. But if they are martyring themselves to get a seat in heaven, I think that’s a selfish act. I don’t want to negate all the good they’d done, but that’s some terrible reasoning.

      I don’t know anyone personally of either type. Most people I encounter are not that good. They are not that concerned with being that good at being good, since it’s also a popular Christian belief that it’s not deeds but grace. Kind of lets you off the hook to be an ordinary selfish, yet communal, animal. I certainly can’t figure out, if you’re the top creature, why it’s so hard to get your minds wrapped around the idea that helping people helps them, and why do you need more? Why is it so important to religious people that there’s more to life than other people! They can’t do it alone – we’re all in this together. @Karl, you sell godlessness short, and you suppose nobody can be motivated by simple facts of life in a society.

      Theists are all about selfishness. Seriously, if I am sitting next to you, hungry, it’s like you have to ask god permission to buy me a sandwich based on whether I look like I deserve it. Without god, you cannot think of who I am and what I might need, or remember what you have and that you can spare it. You are inclined to look the other way, seriously? Without god, you would not give me a sandwich? You would just let people starve to death; because there’s no god, there’s no point? I assume you know what it’s like to have no food and maybe what it’s like to be short of money to buy some. Why does there have to be a god implanting you with empathetic urges from beyond? Why is it so hard to believe that you evolved to be a creature with compassion?

      I would even say, and I don’t recall you sharing this opinion, about homophobia. It is rooted in a ridiculous belief that god made humans to be heterosexual. Where the moral intent comes in hating gay people and not giving them equal rights is being “on board” with a group mentality. It’s not coming from god, it’s using the bible to reinforce stereotypes and simple thinking. How do you get so many people to hate so many other people and not understand how bigoted it is? Weigh on their compassion. “Hell is real” and “tough love”, trying to save the sinners from their fate is transformed into a “moral act”. It’s not out of hate they believe that they act, but out of love. This is the theist mentality and manipulation you think is real? This is how morality actually works. Homosexuality was shamed and continues to be shamed, but by fewer and fewer people. There are still acts that are met with shame, but they are not the same acts that religious people continue to harp on.

      For example, theists continue to believe, and poison the social well, that rape is ok. Women can’t dress how they please, go where they like, and talk with anyone they want, and expect men to rein themselves in. We live in a society that predominantly accepts that women invite rape to occur against them, as well as pity the men who are (rarely) prosecuted for having their futures ruined by “one act”! Never mind the woman who might have had her future ruined, traumatized, and then publicly shamed and blamed for the men’s outcomes. It’s apparently ok for a lot of people that a woman could get raped. All you need to do is figure out at what point she was no longer a person with rights, and make certain allowances for the male of the species for acting impulsively as he will, of winning the game. This is an issue that has to be and will be corrected by vocalizing information that comes from people, not god. The bible says the rapist has to marry her sullied vagina, because she’s chattel and were spoilt. Seems to me that’s meant to ruin the rest of the rapist’s life, as if he couldn’t marry several others; he’s made to take her on, like a burden, while her value is destroyed for other men. This, marrying her rapist, is literally the best she can do.

      You think we atheists can’t do better than accepting that morality comes from god? Nothing comes from god, because there is no god. Believing in god is one way to get a lot of morality the opposite of right. Not believing in god is not the assumption of the highest, most hedonistic urges because we won’t necessarily be punished in the long era of eternity. It’s the idea that people deserve a little better than what god apparently has wanted for us. We are beyond being practical now. We don’t make women marry their rapist for example. Her father doesn’t own her to sell to a bidder with a penis, no longer caring, as long as he’s been paid, that her husband treats her with kindness as an equal. Well, many of us are that far. Not everyone. If you think morality comes from god, then why are women still objectified, not just by evangelical theists, but by advertising, and everyone in between? Are you saying that women are rebellious and have to get back into the kitchen, meanwhile signalling we’re available for sex from any guy that walks over, by wearing low-cut tops and shaving our legs every fucking day. I mean, are you saying that’s what’s good or not evil, because most people have an opinion. It’s practical for men to tell who is up for anything and who is not, right? Women aren’t people and as soon as we stop trying to pretend we are, the sooner all our moralities will adjust back to where we’re supposed to be?

      I’m really not sure why people think morality comes from god, so tell me why, when someone finally convinces you there is no god with irrefutable evidence, you won’t care to respect anyone?

      • Greg G.

        Seriously, if I am sitting next to you, hungry, it’s like you have to ask god permission to buy me a sandwich based on whether I look like I deserve it. 

        Many of them will buy you a sandwich on the presumption they’ll be able to preach at you while you eat.

        I agree with the rest. If a moral is good and fair, it’s self-justified. If it’s bad for someone or unfair, it needs a religion to justify it

  • swbarnes2

    I think this rebuttal is dancing around the central issue. It’s not that atheists want to live in a world that isn’t warmed by the love of a caring God.

    It’s that the evidence doesn’t support the belief that we live in such a universe.

    The right answer to the second quote should be “This isn’t about what my heart does or does not rebel against. This isn’t about formulating how I wish the world was. This is about figuring out how the world is, by looking at evidence. So theist, make no more arguments about how the world ought to be. Arguing about what a benevolent God would or would not do is not allowed until you have demonstrated the existence of that God with evidence”.

  • smrnda

    I’m kind of surprised that he doesn’t seem to have any arguments I haven’t heard before from many other Christian apologists. Then again, there’s only so many arguments to be made.

    On hope, plenty of people have died and suffered, many of them unnecessarily. The best we can hope for is to learn so that it happens less in the future. This is why we try to advance with science and technology, but why we also try to fight against bad ideas that have a tendency to cause a lot of harm.

    In terms of morality, I look at morality as a kind of engineering problems – what rules should we live by that give us the best hope of a decent standard of living, and that provide us the greatest protection from harm? Even when I talk to religious people, they all promote their religion’s view of morality based on the idea that, if everybody follows the rules, everybody will be happier.

    Gods don’t seem to solve the problem of ‘objective’ morality. Child sacrifice is bad, unless god tells you to do it, then it’s good. There’s no consensus on what god wants in many situations, and when there isn’t, I tend to find many religious people fall back on utilitarian arguments like when people argue that slavery is bad even when it was permitted in the Bible.

  • primenumbers

    “There is no logical incompatibility between evil and a God who is all powerful and all loving. God could have his reasons.” – and evil people have their reasons too, but it doesn’t stop them being evil any more than the supposed rationalization is either evidenced or excuses God.

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

    Norm:

    It’s what the bible says that trumps our understanding

    Why?

    For me the bible stacks up,l believe it.I may not understand it all absolutely but l dont need to ,I trust God as a father.I believe He has my best interests at heart,that He see’s the big picture that I wouldn’t be able to comprehend this side of eternity even if it was totally explained.

    This is your theology. I get it. You didn’t have to explain it to me. But what I don’t understand is why I should follow your lead. If you’re just saying that this is how you see the world and you have no intention of explaining it, OK. But I think you’re trying to evangelize here. To do that, you need to do more than explain; you need to give reasons.

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