10 Questions Christians Must Answer (2 of 2)

Questions Christians must answerAs an homage to a powerful video from GodIsImaginary.com, I summarized five tough questions in Part 1. Here are five more of my own. I’ll give popular Christian answers for each question and then conclude with a single answer that neatly resolves each dilemma.

6. Why is faith required? In John’s gospel, Thomas missed Jesus’s first appearance. He didn’t believe the others’ story that Jesus had risen and said that he needed to see the nail marks in the hands of Jesus as proof. After Jesus appeared again and satisfied Thomas, Jesus said, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me” (John 20:29). In other words, Thomas believed because he had evidence—nothing special there. But someone who can believe without that evidence? Ah, that person is blessed!

Richard Dawkins challenged Kenneth Miller on some religious matter (both men are biologists, but Miller is Catholic), and Miller replied, “There’s a reason it’s called faith!” Christianity without faith wouldn’t be Christianity. Some say that faith isn’t earned but neither is it a right. Instead, the Holy Spirit gives faith to some using some unknown algorithm.

7. Why is God hidden? Thomas had a scientific attitude. Any scientific claim must respond to the demand for evidence. For example, cold fusion would be nice, but “nice” has no currency within science. There is insufficient evidence for any mechanism of cold fusion, so it is rejected. “God exists” is another claim, and the obvious supporting evidence—God simply making his existence known—is unapologetically unavailable.

God works in mysterious ways. This is yet another test of Christians’ faith.

Mother Teresa wrote about God’s silence: “the silence and the emptiness is so great” and “I have no Faith … [the thoughts in my heart] make me suffer untold agony.” She soldiered on despite her weak faith, and she has been beatified by Rome.

8. Why are there natural disasters? Haiti and Indonesia have been devastated by tsunamis in recent years, each disaster killing about a quarter of a million people. The worst tropical cyclones have killed this many people as well. The disaster area can take years to recover, especially if it hits a third-world region. How can God allow these to happen when it would be trivial to prevent the damage?

Christians have responded that the forces of nature have a good side. Earthquakes recycle minerals, and hurricanes are a consequence of the same weather system that brings sunshine and gentle rains. Disasters test Christians and give them an opportunity to help through prayer or donations. Christians infer God’s hand in the “miracle child” that survives the disaster that killed its parents.

If all else fails, Christians can fall back on the idea that God is there to comfort the grieving.

9. Why does the Bible show God doing terrible things? God demands genocide, and he gives rules regulating slavery just like the rules he gives regulating commerce.

Christians often argue that genocide and slavery were accepted components of society back then. God was simply working within the system. The tribes that God demanded be destroyed must’ve been rotten to the core—how could an all-good God act otherwise?—and even leaving their babies alive would risk a future for a tribe that God knew might tempt Israel in the future.

10. Why is the historical record so weak for Christianity? Outside the gospels, there are no biographies of Jesus from contemporary historians, of which there were many. There are not even any mentions of Jesus, aside from disputed passages in Josephus.

God’s plan apparently was to appear on earth in a low-profile way. A grand entrance is apparently not God’s style, and we’re just going to have to live with that.

The other way of resolving these questions

Instead of individual reasons that clumsily address these questions by assuming God’s existence, let’s again try to resolve these questions with a simple hypothesis: there is no god. This simple and obvious explanation—which even Christians apply to the other guy’s god—neatly cuts the Gordian Knot.

Why is faith required? All supernatural religious claims require faith because there is insufficient evidence to accept them otherwise. If there were evidence, you can be sure that that would be celebrated, not faith.

Why is God hidden? Because he doesn’t exist.

Why are there natural disasters? We can assign “good” and “bad” labels to events according to how they affect us, but that’s not nature’s perspective. Nature has no obligation to provide a pleasing environment for anyone. (We have to do “the Lord’s work” because he sure isn’t doing it.)

Why does the Bible show God doing terrible things? Because “God” is just a character in a mythological tale. His imagination and morality are reflections of that of the Iron Age people who created him.

Why is the historical record so weak for Christianity? Because Christianity is a legend that began after decades of oral history. After this, dogmas like the Trinity gradually developed over the centuries, and unpopular interpretations like Gnosticism were pruned away.

Convoluted answers that demand a presupposition of the very thing in question crumble when we simply consider that the fanciful claim is just what it looks like: legend and myth.

We could list lots more questions—Why create an enormous universe if the point was to create humans? Why does the view of God change through the Bible? If God created the universe, what created God? and so on—but they are all neatly resolved by dropping the God hypothesis.

Elbow deodorant

Elbow deodorant is a solution in search of a problem. We could imagine a society in which the elbows of any cultured person smell like flowers and only the uncouth go au naturel, but smelly elbows just aren’t a problem in our society.

Christianity is elbow deodorant. It is also a solution in search of a problem. So Christian leaders invent one: they imagine a god who gets furious if you do bad stuff and will punish you forever. But if you believe certain things, you get a free pass to the Good Place when you die.

No, smelly elbows and a god that doesn’t exist aren’t worth worrying about.

Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt.
It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.
Fundamentalism is, therefore, inevitable in an age
which has destroyed so many certainties
by which faith once expressed itself and upon which it relied.
— Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian

Photo credit: Wikipedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • MNb

    @6: Like I wrote before I’m OK with that. Just recognize that faith is what it is – assuming something without empirical evidence and without rational confirmation. This is what Kierkegaard argued for. Obviously no single apologist is willing to accept this position, because it makes apologetics superfluous.

    @7: Yep – Herman Philipse argues that the simple fact that there are atheists – ie people who haven’t experienced god the way our dear CodyGirl loves to drool about – makes theism less probable than atheism. If there is a god who cares if I worship him we would expect that he would reveal himself to me personally. In the past we already have discussed ways how he could do that. My favourite one is still god using collective nightmares to warn people for upcoming natural disasters like tsunami’s and earthquakes. This is something that can be statistically detected and moreover doesn’t affect free will.

    @8: Yep – the natural version of the Problem of Evil is even harder pressing than any human version, like the example of Elizabeth Fritzl.

    “How can God allow these to happen when it would be trivial to prevent the damage?”
    For instance by means of a collective nightmare.

    @9: Yep. You might have addressed CodyGirl’s “answer” though that the OT is just about the way the Ancient Hebrews perceived god.

    @10: Here don’t press hard enough. I’d like to know why Jesus, being the son of god, only appeared once in a human form? It would have been awesome evidence if he had appeared in one of the America’s as well, ie in a place the Ancient Hebrews didn’t even know that it existed. Of course we would expect some small deviations, but finding the core message of the Gospels in some pre-Columbian culture, especially the atonement doctrine …… that would shut up us nasty atheists.

    Compare: atheism originated at least twice independently from each other. See Carvaka from India.

    • ohnugget001

      ” I’d like to know why Jesus, being the son of god, only appeared once in a human form? It would have been awesome evidence if he had appeared in one of the America’s as well, ie in a place the Ancient Hebrews didn’t even know that it existed. ”
      The LDS would argue he did, albeit as bereft of evidence.

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

      I appreciated your comment last time, BTW, with the additional list of questions. Not that it’s hard to find questions to which “There is no God” is a nice resolution …

      • CodyGirl824

        I’ll bet you that Elizabeth F. in MNb’s proposed case really appreciates your response to her questions about the evil she suffered: “There is no God.” But, after all, that’s atheists’ response to every existential and moral question, given their worldview.

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

          And to a drowning person, you could say, “You can’t breathe under water.” Not a comforting or helpful statement, but true nonetheless.

          Same with “There is no god.” Atheists may have comfort to offer, but if we’re simply talking about what’s true, the god claim hasn’t begun to meet its burden of proof.

          Or has the conversation changed to what claims are pleasing?

        • CodyGirl824

          Upon whom does the “god claim” create a “burden of proof”? I ask because God has proven Himself to humankind. It’s just that atheists don’t agree.

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

          The Flying Spaghetti Monster has likewise provided clear evidence for all with the wisdom to see. Christians don’t agree.

        • CodyGirl824

          No one worships the FSM. Billions upon billions of people now living and throughout history worship God. Christians will not argue that there are folks who deify flying spaghetti but we see no evidence that spaghetti can fly. The reality of the FSM is that it is the deity that atheists invoke as their argument of last resort.

        • 90Lew90

          The reality of FSM is that it is invoked by atheists to (attempt to) demonstrate to the religious what irony-free zones they are. Naturally enough, the religious don’t get it. Ever heard about the link between humour and intelligence? Let me give you a clue. Psst. That’s why you don’t get many laughs in church.

        • smrnda

          Truth isn’t a popularity contest. There are probably millions if not billions of believers in astrology, ghosts, bigfoot, little green men from Mars, UFO conspiracies, alternative woo , homeopathic cures – the fact that people are convinced of something in no way implies it’s true.

        • smrnda

          You know, when people don’t agree as to whether or not something is true or real, there are ways we sort this out.

          Let’s say I tell you ‘you can take pill X and relieve constipation.’ What would be done? A double blind placebo trial. If there were many people who claimed pill X relieved constipation, pill X can be put to the test and that statement could be proven wrong. Confirmation bias and the placebo effect are real things. That’s why we have to account for them when testing claims.

        • CodyGirl824

          What you propose is not an applicable or effective methodology for sorting out differences in people’s understanding of what is meant by the term/word or concept of “God.” Claims about God fall within the domain of theology and science cannot “test” theological constructs or understanding. This is not the purpose of science anyway.

        • Cafeeine

          That’s not the purpose of theology.
          Claims about God’s existence don’t fall under theology, since theology assumes God’s existence as true from the get-go. You need to go beyond theology to get results.

        • CodyGirl824

          Of course theology “assumes” God’s existence. Theology is the study of God so to assume non-existence of what one is studying is non-sense. Atheology is a term we could use for the “study” of how to critique theology, perhaps. So how do you propose to “go beyond theology” to “get results” regarding what we speak of in theology as “God”? And what “results” are you seeking to achieve?

        • 90Lew90

          How do you “study” God? Theology is the study of *concepts* of God — religion — not God.

        • CodyGirl824

          Not exactly, Lew. Theology is the formulation and articulation of concepts and understanding (knowledge) of the reality that we speak of as “God” through study of spiritual and religious traditions (religion). God is as valid as a subject of/for scholarly study as any other and more so because of God’s role in human existence and relationship with humankind.

        • 90Lew90

          How do you “study” [your] God? “He” is ineffable. How do you “study” this being’s “role” in human existence? How do you “study” its “relationship” to humans. Perhaps I can answer for you. You can’t. Which is why theology is not a serious branch of scholarship and nor has it been for some time. The reason being that it is the serious study of dead philosophy: religion. It has borne no fruit besides some ingenuous thought experiments such as how to work out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It is a futile waste of time and minds.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are expressing your negative opinion about the value of the body of academic scholarship and activity called theology. So be it. However, isn’t this what atheists do? Examine theology and attempt to discredit it? If you desire to have any credibility at all in critiquing theology, you better be well-versed in what it is that you are critiquing. As I see it, there is no way for any serious atheist who enters into discussion and debate with people of faith to avoid theology: How else can you create all these straw man arguments?

        • 90Lew90

          “However, isn’t this what atheists do? Examine theology and attempt to discredit it?”

          No. Atheists simply reject the claim that a god or gods exist. Any interest in theology is incidental to the individual. Personally, since I feel religion is a source of harm in the world, a cursory interest in the rudiments of theology, via the philosophy of religion, is interesting and worthwhile to me. You don’t have to believe religious claims to find them interesting. It’s fascinating to me in a car-crash kind of way. In my experience, atheists are usually better versed on religion than religious people themselves, who often can’t see the wood for the trees. Take you for instance…

        • Pofarmer

          My boys have told me that I know more about the bible than about anyone at their school. (Catholic school).

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

          Wait–you’re telling Lew to get educated? The guy who had to lecture you in how America’s founding documents work? When the guy isn’t even American?

          You might want to be a bit more cautious in your demands for scholarship, given your evidently weak position.

        • hector_jones

          Did you see her comments from a day or two ago in part one of this topic where she asks us for a citation to a ‘peer reviewed article published in a scientific journal’ by Lawrence Krauss because, presumably, she’s going to read it then totally get back to us with her thoughts about it? Jenna’s given me some good laughs but those were the best so far.

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

          Yeah, sketchy guys like Dr. Krauss need to be watched closely. You never know when they’re going to get all science-y.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, between he and Sean Carroll, I think they have over 200 of them, so she could have her pick.

        • Kodie

          Her preliminary thoughts about a short passage immediately invoked “theological implications,” bypassing what was actually written.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, surely you agree that in order to argue against and critique theology you have to know something about it!? I respect the fact that in your blog articles, you appear to have done your homework and have read and thought deeply about the authors whose works you discuss here. I don’t think that questioning or ridiculing my scholarship about American history (since you identified no factual error that I made) or my knowledge of physics or cosmology gets you very far. It merely shows that you are disrespectful of your Christian contributors to your blog.

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

          since
          you identified no factual error that I made

          Ah, but I did! I wonder what it says that you were publicly shown to have fundamental errors in your statements about American history (by me and others) but that you internalized that as your statements being accurate.

        • Kodie

          Baby, you’re in denial!

        • Pofarmer

          “academic scholarship and activity called theology.”

          Ha, ha, ha, ha,ha, ha, ha, ha. Whooo boy.

        • TheNuszAbides

          perhaps in the sense that the most stultified, insular cul-de-sac of academia could, like theology (admittedly, from a relatively healthy distance), be thought of as more of a book club than anything else.

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

          I think you may have gone a little far this time. Next you’ll be saying that baseball as a religion is not a serious branch of scholarship.

        • Kodie

          See again, how useless theology is to every other subject. How can you claim it is moreso? It is the distortion of everything to fit into whatever concept a person happens to already believe. See also, how your theological implications make you demonstrably less capable of discussing other subjects intelligently.

        • Cafeeine

          “Of course theology “assumes” God’s existence. Theology is the study of
          God so to assume non-existence of what one is studying is non-sense”

          How about, rather than assuming, trying to ascertain if God exists?
          Declaring God exists, and then trying to find something suitable to hang the word on to is a backwards way to go about it, don’t you think?

        • Kodie

          The domain of theology is whatever you want it be, like, imaginary.

        • Greg G.

          The best thing about religion is that it gives you something to say to a dying person or to their relatives at the funeral, if you are willing to give false hopes.

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

          Ricky Gervais in The Invention of Lying:

  • James Walker

    6 – faith is needed for any non-falsifiable proposition. we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of deity. we choose the one or the other based on whether it works for us or doesn’t and we apply that to the rest of our philosophical framework accordingly. we “faith” it. we believe (or disbelieve).

    7 – is God hidden? my beliefs about God are somewhere in the range of pantheism or panentheism. God certainly doesn’t take the form to my perception many people seem to expect. no bearded sky-king sitting on a golden throne here! but failure to appear or be heard in one form isn’t the same as negation of all possible forms.

    8 – this goes back to the questions on the previous post about the “Problem of Evil”. why would it be God’s job to avert natural disasters or to craft the world as a “disaster free zone”? haven’t we evolved beyond the point where we require supernatural explanations for natural phenomena? our idea of God’s purpose should surely evolve along with our needs in that regard, yes?

    9 – we touched on this on the previous post as well. the Bible was written by people who did not have our same level of science, technology, history, etc. why is it surprising they would write the character of God in a way that would justify their own bad behavior? that doesn’t mean the depiction of God in the Bible is the “correct” understanding of God’s nature.

    10 – there are enough secondary references that the historicity of Jesus is hardly in dispute. whether He actually said or did any of the things attributed to Him in the gospel accounts is another matter altogether. for several decades, He could hardly have been considered an important figure to anyone other than His early followers and those who carried on after His death.

    as to the “solution in search of a problem” remark, religion was hardly that. religious belief is one of the things that has allowed humans to form social structures bigger than the immediate tribe. our beliefs in spirits and deity have evolved along with us and have shaped, sometimes in dramatic ways, the success or failure of nations at the same time that our social evolution has shaped our religious beliefs.

    rather than claim Christianity is a solution in search of a problem, we could instead insist that its adherents apply its best teachings to address the very problems that make the term Christian so loathsome to many non-believers.

    • MNb

      “we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of deity”
      Depends on how you define “prove”. Very, very short: if we define a deity as an immaterial being the question rises how this deity interacts with our material reality. I don’t see how this question can be answered without assigning said deity with some material features, which contradict the definition. Such a contradiction is proof enough for me.

      “failure to appear or be heard in one form isn’t the same as negation of all possible forms”
      That’s correct, but it does make god less probable.

      “haven’t we evolved beyond the point where we require supernatural explanations for natural phenomena”
      That’s the point – we don’t need god. So I call for William Ockham.

      • James Walker

        The pantheist/panentheist view of God resolves some of what you’ve brought up in your first and second points. The question of whether such a view of God is deserving of worship is, as always, a personal choice.

        • MNb

          The first point is not about deserving worship but about meaning. What meaning is left for any concept for god if he/she/it isn’t capable of interacting with our material reality? I don’t see any, but am happy to let you try. If you like.
          As for the second point I don’t see how pan(en)theism raises the probability of god.

        • James Walker

          the point is that God IS the material reality in this view, therefore cannot neatly be said not to exist. the question remains as to whether any individual person would consider the substance of the universe worthy of being called God.

        • hector_jones

          No the question remains that if God is material reality, where does his sentience reside? In the case of humans we know that sentience comes from the functioning of the brain.

          And what evidence do you cite that this sentience exists? The problem with arguing that god is purely natural is you now have to show us precisely which physical mechanisms he uses to communicate with you. The supernaturalists at least get to avoid this problem by claiming that the mechanisms he uses are also supernatural.

        • James Walker

          1) I don’t claim God is sentient as we understand sentience.

          2) Prayer, in my faith practice, is not “communication”. It’s communion. I don’t “receive Divine messages from the cosmos”.

        • hector_jones

          1) I don’t claim God is sentient as we understand sentience.

          Well that’s very convenient for you.

          2) Prayer, in my faith practice, is not “communication”. It’s communion. I don’t “receive Divine messages from the cosmos”.

          In earlier comments you seemed to be saying your god communicates with you. Now you seem to be denying this.

          Your god seems to me to be pretty much just something that you made up entirely on your own, with properties that, conveniently for you, make him as ill-defined and untestable as any supernatural god.

        • James Walker

          as I’ve maintained since beginning this dialogue with members of this community – you’re perfectly free to say of my concept of deity, “that’s not God” and I promise you, I won’t be offended but I’ll continue believing as I do.

          the question of whether God exists or doesn’t exist, and if God exists what specific form does that existence take is far, far less important than the question of how we should treat one another.

      • CodyGirl824

        MNb,

        Here you say this: “If we define a deity as an immaterial being the question rises how this deity interacts with our material reality.”

        Here you hit on the very fundamental misunderstanding of atheism (and atheists). Is what we do when we deify to simply define something (a deity) and then puzzle over what that definition does or does not do (interact) with material reality? God is not a definition. Nor is God a deification of a definition. “God” is a term or name used within the limitations of human language to signify the whole unified array of forces,energies, processes, natural laws and events that created/create the universe and life as evidenced by the existence of everything, seen and unseen, material and spiritual, in the heavens and on earth; a universal creative force.

        I totally agree with you that it is impossible to say how a definition interacts with material reality. I know of no definition that does. I think that you need to seek an understanding of what monotheism deifies.

        • Kingasaurus

          Why don’t you get together and conference with your fellow “monotheists”, get your story straight, and then get back to us.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why should I do that? Each and every Christians has his/her understanding of God. We share most of our understanding of God in common but do not necessarily articulate this understanding using the same language, using the same concepts and constructs, but diversity of our ways of expressing our understanding of God is of consequence in how we love God and experience God in our own lives. God is infinite, so an infinite variety of manifestations of and experiences with God is to be expected. So what’s your problem with this?

        • Cafeeine

          So “God” means everything and at the same time nothing.
          Of course the question of whether this conception of god reflects something real or is just the imagination of every believer is never addressed, because it hits a little too close to home.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Cafeeine, there would be no need and no possibility of creating a mental construct, concept or understanding of a non-existent something. Your comments like saying that that we humans use our imagination and our human language, individually and socially, to construct an understanding of nothingness. I know of no one who does this. I most certainly don’t. My conceptualization of God is a conceptualization and understanding of reality constructed through my own experiences of/with reality and knowledge derived from other people’s testimony of their experiences of/with that same reality.

          Atheism is merely an elaborate expression of atheists’ disapproval of and disagreement with other people’s expression of their understanding of the reality that we, in our human language(s), name and label using the word “God. Theirs (atheists) is merely a “dissenting” opinion.

        • Pofarmer

          “there would be no need and no possibility of creating a mental construct, concept or understanding of a non-existent something.’

          Of course their is. Look at Mormonism, Scientology, Romulus, Thor. Humans do it all the time.

        • CodyGirl824

          Thor is a deification of thunder and lightning. Do you argue that thunder and lighting do not exist? Mormonism is a religion. Do you argue that Mormonism does not exist? Do you argue that religion does not exist?

        • Pofarmer

          Your conceptualization of God is the deification of the Universe. Do you argue that the Universe does not exist?

        • CodyGirl824

          This is not exactly correct. I do not and monotheism does not deify the universe. We deify the Creator of the universe.

        • Pofarmer

          The terms that you use do not differentiate the two.

        • CodyGirl824

          How so? An example: To deify the cause (whatever it is/was) of the Big Bang is not to deify the Big Bang. The Big Bang is not what is deified. To deify the Creator of the universe is to deify that which created the universe. The universe is not what is deified. This is an important distinction to understand if one seeks to understand monotheism.

        • Pofarmer

          “”God” is a term or name used within the limitations of human language
          to signify the whole unified array of forces,energies, processes,
          natural laws and events that created/create the universe and life as
          evidenced by the existence of everything, seen and unseen, material and
          spiritual, in the heavens and on earth; a universal creative force.”

          So, how do you differentiate from the cause and what it caused? What is still left?

        • Kodie

          God of the gaps.

        • Kodie

          You are imagining that the what is a who and imagining personal qualities, behaviors, and intentions. Deify means to call something god even though it’s not. It is not god, the label is applied by you to it. It has no personal relationship with you, you conjure that out of loneliness I suppose.

        • MNb

          In addition to Pofarmer: ether (as the medium bearing light), phlogiston, the Monster of Loch Ness, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus – the list is endless. Some of these non-existing things at least had the virtue of being falsifiable.

        • Cafeeine

          “There would be no need and no possibility of creating a mental construct,
          concept or understanding of a non-existent something. ”
          Well, there is no need, that’s true, but possibility? You seem to be saying that people cannot mistake fiction for fact. which they can.

          “Your comments like
          saying that that we humans use our imagination and our human language,
          individually and socially, to construct an understanding of nothingness.”

          No, we use it to construct our understanding of the stimuli we receive. We can get it wrong however, and one of the ways we do is to see agency where there is none.

          When I say that theists imagine “god”, I’m not saying they are consciously inventing a god they know doesn’t exist. I’m saying they are akin to seeing a face in the clouds, and imagining a nebulous person in the sky instead of recognizing the false positive for what it is.

        • Kodie

          No, Jenna Black, we’ve talked about this, and every time you retreat.

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

          “So “God” means everything and at the same time nothing.”
          Like “flubberwutzky”.

        • Pofarmer

          :”using the same concepts and constructs, but diversity of our ways of
          expressing our understanding of God is of consequence in how we love God
          and experience God in our own lives.”

          It’s almost as if each person makes up their own God. Funny that. You would make a horrible Catholic, for sure.

        • CodyGirl824

          You erroneously use the expression “makes up”. Each person forms his/her own understanding of God, even atheists. If you didn’t, we wouldn’t be having this conversation about the different understanding of God that you and I have.

          We often quip in the Episcopal Church, or at least we did years ago, that Episcopalians are just Catholics who flunked Latin.

        • Pofarmer

          My understanding of your understanding of what you call God is that it doesn’t exist.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, you got this wrong. You conclude that God doesn’t exist based on YOUR understanding of God, not mine.

        • smrnda

          Everybody might have their own concept of Batman. Batman is somewhat different in each comic or film or TV series. However, we could ask whether an actual person named “Bruce Wayne” really lived in a “Gotham City” and whether he went out dressed as Batman.

          We could document the particulars of each depiction of Batman, but the question of whether such a person was actually real still remains.

          Many people have an image of Napoleon that he was very short. This is not, however true. If something is real, then no matter what people might think about it, it’s either true or it isn’t. A person’s understanding can be faulty.

        • CodyGirl824

          Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. All this discussion about comic book characters that everyone agrees are fictional aside, Is it your understanding that what Jews and Christians mean when We use the term/name “God” that WE (not your opinion) mean something that WE just made up? Is it your understanding that Jesus of Nazareth never existed? Do you think that when Christians talk about Jesus, that WE are talking about someone who is just “made up” and that never existed?

        • Pofarmer

          Was Baal made up? Was “The Epic of Gilgamesh” made up? Zalmoxis? Mithras?

        • CodyGirl824

          Pofarmer, do not attempt to make the term “made up” to be synonymous with deification.

        • Pofarmer

          I am not.

        • CodyGirl824

          Then what do you mean with these questions about Baal ( a god from polytheism, as I understand it), and the other names and epic that you list being “made up” Baal is the deification of something. What is it? What does Baal deify? I can’t respond without clarification on what you are getting at with these questions.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, Yahweh was originally a god from polytheism, so??????

        • CodyGirl824

          So, tell me what Yahweh deifies.

        • hector_jones

          I think the term ‘imagined’ is a pretty good synonym for deification because it doesn’t presume that the person doing the deification is committing a deliberate deception.

        • wtfwjtd

          But the big question remains: Do you understand what deification pastifies?

        • hector_jones

          Mmmmmmmmm pasta …

        • wtfwjtd

          Sauce! Don’t forget the sauce!

        • hector_jones

          I’ll never forget the sauce, ever.

        • Kodie

          Deification sounds so much smarter!

        • smrnda

          I have no opinion one way or the other of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. There exists some evidence either way, but at least Jesus is defined well enough that one could talk of the existence or non-existence of such a person since the person has well enough defined characteristics.

          Jesus could have been a real person and the stories that exist could be accurate or exaggerated to various degrees.

          The problem with saying ‘god is the sum total of all generative and creative forces’ is that isn’t a precise definition. It also doesn’t fit with definitions of god or god within specific religions. Muslims believe that a god gave a revelation to Mohammad. Christians do not accept this as far as I can tell. These are mutually exclusive claims. The inclusive, vague definition of god is inclusive enough to include incompatible visions of god, therefore it can’t be meaningful to talk about its existence. If god is ‘all creative forces’ then nothing is being discussed at all. If you define god as ‘everything’ the question of whether god exists becomes meaningless.

          I think most beliefs kind of evolved over time. Made up would be wrong since that would imply conscious deception or creation, it’s more like folklore eventually getting ironed out into specific traditions.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why do you think that it is necessary or informative to compare definitions of God from various religious traditions? What one discovers from studying comparative religion is that there is much consistency across theistic religions as to what is meant by God, so talk about “mutually exclusive claims” may be overly focused on the particular symbols, metaphors, allegories and linguistic terms that are used within a religion’s sacred scriptures or communities of faith to talk about God. Nonetheless, we are talking about and formulating an understanding of the reality that is common to us all as humankind. Christians really have no problem with this.

        • smrnda

          I don’t see consistencies across these formulations of god at all, and the more religions you bring into consideration the less I see them being alike. I really don’t think even Catholics and some Protestants worship the same god.

          Christians have ideas about god distinct from other monotheists. The notion of salvation through faith/grace and atonement is not a part of other religions. That’s a pretty key difference. Glossing over that leaves us with shared notions that are so vague as to be meaningless.

        • CodyGirl824

          I disagree that there are not consistencies across and among religions in our understanding of God, but I do agree that Christianity has some unique theological and spiritual constructs. No one is “glossing over” these, except perhaps those atheists who uniformly and indiscriminately reject any and all understanding(s) of/about God from any and every religion.

        • Pofarmer

          “except perhaps those atheists who uniformly and indiscriminately reject
          any and all understanding(s) of/about God from any and every religion.”

          Just being consistent.

        • Kodie

          You’re certainly rationalizing a lot.

        • smrnda

          You were glossing over them by implying some common or universal concept of god. You can only get that by only dealing with the most vague and superficial readings of what religions actually believe. The religious beliefs of different people are very diverse and distinct.

          If I said ‘since mr x and mr y are both asian men between 1 meter and 2 meters tall’ are you going to say that means they look similar? No, I’ve chosen a description that might fit a billi on men on planet earth. True, but hardly useful.

        • Kodie

          So you’re a Muslim?

        • hector_jones

          What one also discovers from studying comparative religion is an even bigger consistency – the presence of human beings. How consistent is God-belief of the various religious traditions when you compare each with the god-beliefs of cats or wombats?

        • Kodie

          God is the god of wombats, for their poop is cubed.

        • MNb

          “WE (not your opinion) mean something that WE just made up?”
          Yes.

          “Is it your understanding that Jesus of Nazareth never existed?”
          I think he existed as a human being. He was far from the first person who claimed to be divine. I don’t accept that claim from Alexander the Great, nor from the Egyptian farao’s. You gave us exactly zero reasons to back up this claim for Jesus, so why should I accept it regarding him? No, the Resurrection doesn’t count – it’s a made up story too.

        • Kodie

          Yeah.

        • Kodie

          I don’t have a concept of god. I have a concept of theists making unsupported claims about the character they call god and think is real.

        • MNb

          That it’s meaningless, like I wrote above.
          Now in the recent past you argued you told us that the word “god” is not meaningless, simply because 2,3 billion christians (plus some more believers) use the word (or something like that). So please tell me what you mean with the word “god”, but then more specific, like Smrnda asked you. Or don’t tell us, which implies admitting you’re too dishonest that the word “god” is meaningless indeed.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know how you say it’s clearly communicated in signs each person has to interpret and come up with varying answers. It must not be that clear.

        • TheNuszAbides

          exactly, and papering over differences between cults, while nominally admirable for the purpose of ‘not being divisive’, is merely forestalling the ultimate “well, those of us who follow The True Word can tell that Muhammad (e.g.) was confused about whatever happened.”

        • Pofarmer

          After that reply, I now understand why her son is a Buddhist.

        • smrnda

          “”God” is a term or name used within the limitations of human language to
          signify the whole unified array of forces,energies, processes, natural
          laws and events that created/create the universe and life as evidenced
          by the existence of everything, seen and unseen, material and spiritual,
          in the heavens and on earth; a universal creative force.”

          That definition is so vague as to be meaningless, and is therefore useless from a point of discussion.

          Most believers have far more specific ideas in mind when they say ‘god’.

          Additionally, if we’re talking about creative forces and natural laws, we already have definitions for them, and the use of an inclusive umbrella term for such distinct and diverse things isn’t an accurate way to talk about things. You can’t have a discussion with terms that are too vague or too inclusive.

        • Pofarmer

          “You can’t have a discussion with terms that are too vague or too inclusive.”

          That’s kind of the point, codygirl doesn’t want to have discussion. It’s the same reason she won’t accept mainstream scholarship on the NT. If you don’t accept anything that disagrees with you, then there is nothing to discuss.

        • MNb

          Slight modification: if you refuse to consider anything that disagrees with you ……
          I’m just f**king some dots and comma’s.

        • MNb

          “Is what we do when we deify …..”
          I don’t care what believers do. The question is about the atheist’s approach to reality.

          “God is a term or name used within the limitations of human language to signify the whole unified array of forces,energies, processes, natural laws and events that created/create the universe ”
          And here you stop asking. Atheists don’t. They want to know how, which procedures, which methods, which means god used to create etc. They want to know if they need the term or name to signify the whole shenanigan.

          If you don’t care to define what you mean (ao tell us whether he is material or immaterial) your god remains as meaningless as ever, despite all the evidence you bring up, whether that evidence is credible or not. You may as well talk about flubberwutzky doing all kind of neat fancy things. It still means zilch.
          I think you need to tell us what your special brand of monotheism means with the term or word “god”.

          Apologists and theologists like WL Craig, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, Emanuel Rutte, Erik Buijs, Klaas Hendrikse to name a few have told me. Now I’m sure they are not representative for 2,3 billion christians, let alone all other believers. Herman Philipse correctly notices that they usually just don’t think about the question. You take the next step and simply refuse to. As such you lose any credibility you still had. All what remains for you is faith. And like I have written several times that’s OK with me. What’s not OK with me is you denying it.

        • Kodie

          Yet it has personal qualities behaviors, and intentions. Do you know what deification means? It means creating a god, labeling something a god. Which doesn’t mean there is a god, but that people label whatever they’re feeling to be personal qualities, behaviors, and intentions of something they have decided feels like a god to them at the time. I think you’re a liar because you talk about this like there are limitations in the language, and yet, the rest of us don’t need to label it with personal qualities, behaviors, and intentions. That you can’t comprehend that you do this, you’re trying to explain it like it’s not totally crazy, but then you give it personal qualities, behaviors, and intentions, which are unsupported claims. The fact that you “deify” something does not make it have personal qualities, behaviors, and intentions, and it does make you sound crazy. Don’t blame the “limitations in the language” for your limitations in intelligence, because applying this figure to have personal qualities, behaviors, and intentions has made you demonstrably wrong in every subject you try to speak articulately about.

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

      6 – faith is needed for any non-falsifiable proposition. we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of deity.

      Right—we’re all on the same page here. Proof isn’t the goal; following the evidence where it leads is the goal. If we’re simply talking about belief well grounded in evidence, I’d prefer the word “trust.”

      failure to appear or be heard in one form isn’t the same as negation of all possible forms.

      Agreed, again. But “you haven’t proved God doesn’t exist” isn’t the way to go. Rather, we follow the evidence. That there is a god is simply not where the evidence points.

      why would it be God’s job to avert natural disasters or to craft the world as a “disaster free zone”?

      Because if you could stop the deaths of a quarter million people but said instead, “Eh—I’m in the middle of ‘Murder She Wrote’ and can’t be bothered,” you would be a morally bad person. Ditto God.

      our idea of God’s purpose should surely evolve along with our needs in that regard, yes?

      An evolving immutable God is what humans cobble together, not what might actually exist.

      why is it surprising they would write the character of God in a way that would justify their own bad behavior?

      Not surprising at all. But a god as a reflection of their own morals and knowledge is yet one more enormous clue that this is made up.

      there are enough secondary references that the historicity of Jesus is hardly in dispute.

      In fact, it is in dispute, but the Jesus myth theory is a tangent. If Jesus performed miracles, one wonders why they created so little impact that the historians of the day said nothing about it. The historical record looks like legend, not history.

      for several decades, He could hardly have been considered an important figure to anyone other than His early followers and those who carried on after His death.

      I think the earthquake, 3-hour eclipse, and the zombies walking around is quite noteworthy. Or do we assume that that was just fiction?

      religious belief is one of the things that has allowed humans to form social structures bigger than the immediate tribe.

      It was evolutionarily beneficial. Today, not so much. Let’s discard the training wheels.

      we could instead insist that its adherents apply its best teachings to address the very problems that make the term Christian so loathsome to many non-believers.

      We could invent a kind of malaria that’s not so bad, or we could just get rid of it completely.

      • James Walker

        yes, I presume that every reference to supernatural events given in the books of the Bible is either sleight of hand, misunderstood natural phenomena or outright invention on the part of the writer. aside from that, we’re parsing things pretty similarly and I’ve just chosen to be on the “what if” side rather than the “what if not” side. it works for me. I don’t necessarily expect it to work for anyone else. =)

        • hector_jones

          Do you, nevertheless, consider the Bible to be a valuable reference in understanding the nature of God and Jesus?

        • James Walker

          I would say, rather, the Bible is a valuable reference of what the writers believed about the nature of God and of Jesus. as such, it is a useful tool in teaching believers how the Christian faith came to be and how Christians are expected to approach questions of morality and ethics.

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

          You seem pretty harmless, so I guess that’s fine, but this attitude still makes no sense. Why not also be on the “what if” side of fairies, since it’d be cool if there were fairies? Or leprechauns? Or dragons?

        • James Walker

          the main reasons I posted here were to let you see that not all Christians are dogmatic and intent on converting atheists to our way of viewing the world. secondly, I wanted to suggest that you’re (in my opinion) going after the wrong thing with these questions.

          you’re attacking belief in some of the more traditional views of God and the questions you’re posing do highlight some of the genuine problems and inconsistencies with those views. however, what I suspect you really want to gain is freedom from the bad behavior of those Christians who have convinced themselves they’re fighting a kind of “holy war” against people like yourselves and going after their belief in God is not going to produce the results you seek. it’s going to activate their “persecution complex” and escalate tensions.

          if you instead approach these negative Christian behaviors as just that, the bad behavior of human beings who are not living up to the ideals of their religious practice, it’s my opinion you’ll get much better results. this will require something you may find distasteful – declaring that belief in God or disbelief in God is not actually important to you as long as the person demonstrates behavior that is functional in a diverse society.

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

          I appreciate the thoughts on effectiveness. If a Christian wants to just believe, that’s one thing. That alone isn’t the concern. It’s either (1) Christians’ impact socially (anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, religious nonsense in schools and government, general busybodying, and so on) or (2) claiming that their beliefs are actually the result of an intellectual search and that I have little logical excuse for not adopting them as well.

          For our conversation, (2) is the issue. When someone says that the evidence does indeed point to the gospel message, what do you recommend I do? (Keep in mind that “Shut your big mouth” may be good advice, but it’ll be hard advice for me to take.)

        • James Walker

          well, I would never ever say to you “Shut your big mouth” because, you know, I’d have to give myself the same advice and delete all my posts here. =)

          I would suggest, if possible, let the discussion about evidence fall by the wayside. you and I both know religion is not a science and does not have adequate tools for dealing with scientific data. It’s far, far too easy to fall into the “God did it” trap, along with the “God said it” trap. And then, you’re stuck once again arguing over the existence of God which is never a fruitful discussion.

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

          I’d say that it’s rarely a fruitful discussion. People do deconvert, and many say that that long process was triggered by noticing the inconsistencies or illogic in the Christian message.

          If I could distill your advice into “Don’t hold your breath,” that I can agree with 100%.

        • Pofarmer

          What if you’re wrong?

        • James Walker

          nothing bad will happen either way. the question of whether God exists is actually pretty unimportant to the practice of my faith.

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

          You have a faith that makes no supernatural claims? What “faith” is this?

        • James Walker

          yes, in the pantheist / panentheist view, it is not possible for God to be supernatural because God encompasses and/or is encompassed by nature.

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

          God = nature?

          Why call it a faith? Why not just use science as a tool to understand nature better?

        • James Walker

          the faith part comes in the internals. I don’t just want to understand nature better. I want to relate to the world around me and to my fellow humans and other beings in a better and more beneficial way. my faith gives me a framework for that because they are all, literally, part of God.

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

          Would “philosophy” be a better term than “faith,” since faith seems to demand the supernatural?

        • James Walker

          no, philosophy may or may not require the acceptance of intangibles. the term “faith” doesn’t actually require a supernatural component. it seems you’ve allowed the “Christianists” to define the field of engagement there.

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

          You’ve defended “faith” to describe your situation, but why isn’t “philosophy” accurate?

          As for Christians defining things, I’m wary of that, but faith assuming the supernatural is pretty common. It’s what I would say, for example.

        • Pofarmer

          Then what’s the point? What exactly do you have faith in?

        • James Walker

          my wording may have been confusing. I have faith that God exists, but the question of His existence is not fundamental to the practice of my faith. should it turn out that God does not exist, my practice will remain the same – to attempt to follow the teachings of Jesus concerning how to treat my fellow humans in the present world.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve got a feeling you are quite a bit past following the teachings of Jesus. The Golden Rule, which predates Jesus by centuries, will get you just about everywhere you need to go.

        • James Walker

          yep. as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the key reason I follow the tradition of Christianity is because it’s the tradition I was brought up in as a child. it’s my comfort zone and it’s where I feel I can do the most good in the area where I live.

          if I lived in a predominantly Buddhist or Taoist area, I could probably have been equally comfortable there. but, I don’t. so this gives me opportunities to make connections, to speak the “common parlance” and to take part in the culture that I wouldn’t have in another faith tradition.

        • Pofarmer

          While I can sort of see your point, you are living a contradiction. No big deal, people do it all the time.

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

          Tell me if my Christianity 2.0 post does anything for you.

        • James Walker

          hey, that’s pretty darned close! =)

        • Carol Lynn

          I’m sorry, I know I’m late to the party, but why do you speak of your God-of-everything as gendered male? Are “God” and “Jesus” synonymous words that describe identical concepts so that God must be gendered?

        • Jay

          No. God has chosen for the most part to reveal Himself as male so as better to communicate with man. The reality is that in His nature He is gender-less.

        • Carol Lynn

          So why do YOU in the here and now still refer to a male deity if you say you know that HE is genderless? There is a particular ridiculousness and unconscious, toxic patriarchy in saying “HE is genderless.” You ought to work on that if you expect to be taken seriously.

        • James Walker

          only because of tradition and because the English language doesn’t have a gender-neutral personal pronoun.

        • Carol Lynn

          No. Wrong. Try again. Go back and reread your sentence. “but the question of His existence is not fundamental to the practice of my faith” – If you replaced ‘his’ with ‘god’s’ – see no specifically gendered pronoun necessary – it makes just as much sense. You do think of god as male, which makes your whole god concept look even more ridiculous to me. “The totality of the universe is a genderless male.” snicker

        • James Walker

          I fail to see how you can ask me what I believe about the nature of deity and then claim to have some sort of superior knowledge of what I “truly” believe so that you are then entitled to correct my statement. But, you know, whatever. All you were seeking in reality was an excuse to mock me. YOU WIN! *snerk*

        • Carol Lynn

          I am just pointing out that your word choices betray your biases even though you give lip service to other ideals. If you expect people to believe in your genderless and/or male god, you ought to work on being consistent with your word choices. If you want god to be male, that’s fine with me and you should stand up to the challenge and just insist ‘he’s’ gendered. If god is genderless, then you should work on consistently using ungendered language to describe god as it’s not that hard. I don’t think there is evidence to support either claim. If you think my pointing out the logical contradictions of your position is a “gotcha” that’s your problem, not mine. I can still be amused by the logical contradiction of either of the positions.

        • James Walker

          my word choice doesn’t betray a bias so much as a habitual usage from 40+ years of having referred to God using the masculine personal pronoun. if you imagine it’s easy to always edit myself and catch all of those instances (not to mention, to avoid overuse of the word God in every single sentence I write describing what I believe), well, let’s just say your imagination is better than mine.

    • Greg G.

      The existence of evil and suffering shows that there is no entity that is both capable of preventing either and cares enough to do something about it. If an entity could do it but doesn’t do an infinite numbers of miracles perpetually, if necessary, why call it God? If it would do all necessary miracles but can’t, it is no more a god than I am.

      The best evidence that Jesus actually existed is that people who were indoctrinated as children that Jesus existed never question it when they get their PhDs.

      • CodyGirl824

        Greg, your reasoning regarding the existence of evil and suffering does not support your conclusion that there is no reality of that which we speak of as “God.” In fact, the existence of evil and suffering is easy to explain and in no way contradicts or diminishes humanity’s understanding of the Creator as a loving, benevolent force in the world. There is ample evidence of many miracles (which are never necessary) of healing that is beyond what can be explained through science. That’s the definition of a miracle, after all.

        I see that you are a Jesus-denier. Based on what evidence do you deny that Jesus is a real historical figure, a man who really lived?

        • Pofarmer

          “There is ample evidence of many miracles (which are never necessary) of
          healing that is beyond what can be explained through science”

          Such as?

          “Based on what evidence do you deny that Jesus is a real historical figure, a man who really lived?”

          this could get really, really long.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay, don’t bother with the Jesus-denier stuff. I’ve heard it all before.

          As for miracles of healing, these are more numerous than you can count. Atheists cannot ever find and invent a refutation for every miracle that has ever occurred, so you might as well not bother with this either, most especially since you can’t even successfully defeat the Resurrection.

        • Pofarmer

          “Okay, don’t bother with the Jesus-denier stuff. I’ve heard it all before.”

          Richard Carrier is coming out with a 700 page book on it. I’ll bet there’s something or other new in there.

          I can’t successfully defeat the story that Hercules traveled to Hades and back either, so what? It’s up to the believer to show how such a thing is possible, not for the Atheist to say that something that is impossible, stays impossible.

        • CodyGirl824

          When atheists say that something is impossible that really happened, they are simply wrong.

          Imagine that! 700 pages to say that a man who really lived never did!

        • Pofarmer

          That’s a strong statement Codygirl. Here’s the problem you have though. You are basing that statement on the literary works of unknown authors written and undefined time after the supposed event occurred in places far removed from said event. That is the scholarly consensus, whether you like it or not. There is nothing there that would constitute evidence that something, “really happened.” It would be like me writing down stories of my Great, Great Grandfather, based on stories my father told me, and neither of us ever met or knew him. That’s how far removed these stories are. You can protest, but you would be far outside the scholarly mainstream.

        • CodyGirl824

          Haven’t we had the discussion about what you call “the scholarly mainstream” before? There is no “mainstream” among Bible scholars that supports the arguments of the Jesus-deniers. Not even Bart Erhman denies Jesus’ existence. No scholarship exists that successfully refutes and defeats the testimony as to Jesus’ Resurrection as an historical, natural fact. Of course, you are most certainly free to think and believe otherwise because it fits your worldview. However, I do not find your opinion on the matter to be either wise or well informed.

        • Pofarmer

          You are arguing against an argument I wasn’t making.

        • Greg G.

          See what I mean. Your evidence for Jesus is that Bart Ehrman believes it. I leaned toward the historical Jesus until I saw how poor the scholarly evidence was as presented in his book.

          First, there’s no hard evidence which is not unusual for a given person. Second, there is no contemporary evidence. The extra-biblical evidence only tells us there were Christians in the late first century. The only evidence is in the New Testament.

          You’ve probably heard that but apparently you haven’t seen the positive evidence that Jesus was made up. The Gospel of Mark is the keystone for all the gospels. Every significant point attributed to Jesus in Mark can be found in the literature of the day. There are character, events and miracles from the Old Testament, Greek literature, and some of Paul’s letters. Almost all the parables come from the Gospel of Thomas and many of those sayings were ideas stolen from Paul and attributed to Jesus.

          The early epistles never discuss Jesus’ teachings, miracles, deeds, or even an anecdote. Paul mentions Jesus hundreds of times but every fact he gives us regarding Jesus comes from centuries old scripture.

          So we just don’t see anything that looks like oral tradition about Jesus in the early epistles or Mark. Paul and the early Christians thought reading Isaiah’s Suffering Servant out of context was a way to receive revelation about Jesus having come in their distant past.

          I can post every verse where Paul provides information about Jesus and his Old Testament source. That was what Pofarmer’s warning is about.

        • JohnH2

          Problem with resting everything on Paul though is that not all Christians followed Paul; the Jewish Christians claiming authority from James in fact appear to have excommunicated Paul for Paul’s teaching about the Law of Moses which went further than the compromise solution, and this division is attested to by both Paul and documents found more recently written by the other side of that debate.

        • Greg G.

          The other early epistles don’t tell us anything either. Paul’s writings are the earliest we have about Jesus and he doesn’t say anything about him but what he knows from the OT. He doesn’t think his knowledge of Jesus is inferior to the other apostles indicating that he thinks they got their information from the same texts he did.

        • JohnH2

          Except James claims to be, and was claimed to be (including by Paul), the brother of Jesus.

        • Greg G.

          Paul was being sarcastic. Notice the unusual first verse about not be sent by humans and that certain men came from James in the next chapter. Notice that Paul didn’t think James, John, and Peter being pillars was a big deal. Notice in Galatians 5:11-12 how Paul wishes the whole circumcision group would cut the whole thing off.

        • JohnH2

          Even assuming sarcasm it still leaves the implication that Paul agrees that James is the brother of Jesus, and not just in Galatians either, even if he is strongly disagreeing with the authority that is taken to confer on James.

        • Greg G.

          The implication is that James has assumed the authority to send people places the way the Lord sends Paul places, thus he has assumed the position of the Lord so he must be his brother. Paul expresses disdain that the three are considered pillars like that.

        • JohnH2

          Except that isn’t the only place where Paul himself refers to James with the implication that James is the Lord’s brother. There is also 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 and 9:5. As also in Acts, by Luke who followed Paul and so I am not sure what Luke would have to gain by referring to James as such if Luke did not believe it despite the disagreement.

        • Pofarmer

          I think Richard Carrier has shown pretty conclusively you can’t reach any conclusions with Acts. Much of Acts appears to follow Josephus, and much of it appears to be made up out of whole cloth. I’m not sure there’s really a scholarly consensus that Luke followed Paul. I think that’s the theological consensus, but I don’t think you can make a historical claim.

        • wtfwjtd

          Even Catholicism, pretty much the earliest documented organized entity of Christianity, doesn’t accept a literal reading of James being the Lord’s physical brother. So it’s not a radical concept at all, as even many Christians accept this interpretation.

        • Greg G.

          1 Corinthians 15 doesn’t make any implication about James being a brother.

          Notice the order in 1 Corinthians 9 is the reverse of 1 Corinthians 15. If so, the “brothers of the Lord” would be either the 500 or the Twelve. But Paul is defending his financial support. He is throwing the people in the list under the bus. Is it more likely that he would throw actual brothers of the Lord under the bus or that he is being sarcastic against the Twelve who are not brothers?

          Everything Paul says about Jesus comes from the OT but he uses the same word for his revelation as he does for all the others in 1 Corinthians 15. He doesn’t think his is any different than theirs.

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

          Do we know that we’re talking about biological rather than spiritual brothers?

        • wtfwjtd

          As I mentioned below, Catholicism holds to the spiritual interpretation, and always has. And, there’s good reason to place James within the family of Jesus–even if spiritually speaking– as Robert Price has pointed out. When it’s been made this easy, why fight it?

        • Pofarmer

          Nope. And the Catholics say brother could also mean “cousin”.

        • Greg G.

          The Greek root “adelph” is used in the epistles over 190 times. Two are in question as “brother(s) of the Lord” and three are used for literal siblings while every other use is in the figurative sense. Of the three, one is in Romans 16 regarding someone’s sister and the other two are in 1 John 3:12 regarding Cain and Abel. So there is no other use of even the root that refers to a brother who actually existed.

          In the gospels, the root is used many times and it is about 50-50 between literal and figurative.

        • Pofarmer

          And that division off the bat kinda tells us that the two sides were making up their own stories. Why would that have been necessary if one side could have said “But Jesus said…….”

        • CodyGirl824

          I have heard all of this before. All of these disparate arguments don’t add up to the conclusions you appear to draw. It’s that simple. Please don’t post any more of this Jesus-denier gobbledygook for my sake, although I’m sure many of your fellow atheists give you a round of applause for it.

        • Greg G.

          Do you have any evidence for the historical Jesus besides the scholarly consensus? Forty years ago, the scholarly consensus was that Abraham and Moses were historical. Now, not so much.

        • smrnda

          I actually do not know of any credible miracles of healing that are better substantiated than rumors. Could you post me to some links here? I do hear stories, but it’s all a bunch of second and third hand ‘I heard it from someone else.’

          I also hear numerous accounts of ghosts haunting buildings, and have met people who profess to have had encounters with these ghosts. Somehow, whenever I go to such a place the ghost doesn’t show up.

        • Kodie

          Might as well not bother! That’s your answer?

        • hector_jones

          Document one miracle of healing. Thanks.

          Edit: I should add, make it your best documented and most miraculous one. I won’t waste time on lousy ones.

        • Greg G.

          If an entity exists that could end suffering, then all suffering is unnecessary. It has chosen that people and animals suffer unnecessarily. That is malevolence. If you choose to call that entity a god, you are a horrible person.

          If I had the power to prevent suffering, I would do it. The suffering I can alleviate is minor but I do what I can. I am more deserving of worship than an entity that makes the choice that we should suffer.

          I’ll address the other question under a different post.

        • CodyGirl824

          Pain and suffering is necessary to biological life. Pain is an alarm system that serves us to alert us that something is wrong. Physical pain alerts us to dysfunction or damage in the organism. Emotional and spiritual pain alerts us to something wrong in our moral/spiritual lives. Emotionally/spiritually it is a response to loss, injustice, or in response to unloving or evil acts. All human suffering ends either in healing or death. Your argument that human suffering indicates malevolence doesn’t square with the reality of biological human existence. In fact, since we have a built-in system for alerting us to malfunctions of the organism and of the spirit support belief in the existence of a benevolent God because this means that we have a way to do “mid-course” corrections to bring things back to the way they should be in order for us to live and to experience love, joy and fulfillment in our terrestrial journey.

        • Greg G.

          Pain is only necessary for biological life if there is no entity that could prevent it with a better system. If there is an entity that could prevent it, it is derelict and malevolent because it has made a choice. If it is incapable of preventing suffering, it is no more a god than I am. Yes, Arnold Swartzenegger could squash me like a bug, too, but he’s not a god.

          Is your god capable of preventing suffering or not? If not, it is no more of a god than a South American tree frog.

        • hector_jones

          1976 Arnold could squash you like a bug. 2014 Arnold not so much.

        • Greg G.

          2014 Arnold might not be able to squash 1976 me.

        • JohnH2

          Which is why we keep children locked up in padded rooms for their entire lives, so they never have to experience any pain that we could have prevented.

        • Greg G.

          Is your god capable of preventing suffering without a padded room?

        • JohnH2

          Per my faiths doctrine, we fought a war in heaven over the issue and choose to not live in a world where suffering was prevented but rather in a world where there was opposition in all things so that we would learn to choose the good over the bad, and experience joy because we have known misery.

        • Greg G.

          Does agony enhance orgasms? Joy doesn’t require pain.

        • JohnH2

          “Does agony enhance orgasms?”

          Some people certainly find that it does.

          “Joy doesn’t require pain.”

          Not knowing any other state but peaceful bliss would make one unaware that they were in a state of peaceful bliss. The experience of joy requires that an awareness of not joy be had. Knowledge of good requires that there be knowledge of what is not good.

        • Greg G.

          I understand starvation without experiencing it but only because I’ve seen that people did it. Why should others have to suffer excruciating pain just so the next person knows how bad it could get. Yet people imagine worse tortures without them even being real.

          Negative and imaginary numbers are useful concepts but one doesn’t need to experience them to understand them.

        • JohnH2

          The understanding that comes from experiencing something is completely different from the knowledge of the things existence; many languages explicitly split those types of knowledge into different verbs.

        • Greg G.

          If experiencing suffering is necessary to appreciate, why are so many of us deprived of its value if that’s the point of this reality?

        • JohnH2

          Who is deprived of its value?

        • Greg G.

          You pointed out that direct experience is qualitatively different that simply being aware of the phenomenon. You said that there was a war in heaven for the ability to suffer misery to appreciate joy. Why are so many denied that privilege while those who die in agony don’t get to appreciate enhanced joy.

        • JohnH2

          Everyone that lives has experienced some suffering. The promise of Joy, at least not in full, is, as explained in places such as Job, Malachi, Ecclesiastes, Revelation, and by Jesus not something that is promised in this life, which does cause a problem for one that doesn’t believe in an afterlife as it is a promise of pie in the sky.

        • Greg G.

          If a little suffering is sufficient, why do so many suffer extremes and die from it?

        • JohnH2

          Death is an end to physical suffering and everyone does it.

          There are very many reasons why extremes of suffering happen, some include so that Gods judgements may be just, so that we can be moved to have compassion on others (as we are naturally pretty self centered jerks), for sin, for trials, because bad stuff happens.

        • Greg G.

          Death is fair. One to a customer. Suffering is not. Some babies suffer in far greater proportion than any just judgement can be the cause. They don’t survive so they don’t get to appreciate joy out of it. It’s all to teach someone else a lesson in compassion? I think I have more compassion for those who suffer because I don’t have to justify it theologically. Trying to justify suffering because of some imagined sin is not compassionate at all.

        • JohnH2

          “Trying to justify suffering because of some imagined sin is not compassionate at all.”

          It does not matter if we know or not the reason someone is suffering, we are to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that need comfort, and not judge because we don’t know and even if we did they are still our brother or sister and in pain.

          “They don’t survive so they don’t get to appreciate joy out of it.””Suffering is not [fair]”

          Since babies are completely innocent this is accurate and requires justification afterwards, or in otherwords pie in the sky. A baby that dies goes to heaven and no longer is suffering, but it is also tragic to us.

          “It’s all to teach someone else a lesson in compassion?”

          At one extreme it can be taken as such, at another everything can be considered to be for the individual passing through whatever it is they are passing through, both miss important points and aren’t the full picture, especially since one extreme ignores the individual suffering and the other extreme makes the suffering itself to be good, when really it is God’s ability to cause everything to work together for good not that everything is good.

        • Greg G.

          It’s difficult to articulate a reason for suffering. You can’t explain it but you have to assume there is a good reason.

          … when really it is God’s ability to cause everything to work together for good not that everything is good.

          Does this mean God is incapable of making everything good? Or is it that he chooses to slack off to allow suffering? Or does God allow unnecessary suffering because of a personal preference for it?

        • JohnH2

          God does and will make everything good.

        • Greg G.

          Are you are as sure about that as you are about the unnecessary suffering?

        • Kodie

          He’s capable of making everything good, he chooses not to. Heaven is a place we can go when we die that is void of pain and suffering because we won’t need compassion. But without compassion, how can it be good? In Eden the original world he created, everything was good but Adam and Eve ruined it for all of us. His next solution was wipe out most of humanity. His next solution was to make up a play about himself as a person that performs a martyr business in order to give everyone the free will to choose to go to the good place after they die, that will be like Eden but with no snakes or trees this time, no room to fail this time. God has it all figured out. We don’t deserve goodness on earth, we have a lifetime short or long, and circumstances that affect us, to live like we deserve it.

          But god is not described as one who is incapable of making everything good. All your criticisms and all their reasons why suddenly aren’t necessary once you’re in heaven. We don’t need to learn anything anymore or need to know pain to know good. On earth when you talk to a person, undivided attention is something reasonable to expect, but these people have a list of petty questions to ask god that don’t matter anymore. Hi God, nice to finally see you face to face. I was wondering if you could tell me those mysterious reasons? What if his answers don’t satisfy you? How can they dissatisfy you if you’re in heaven? Would it pain you to spend eternity with someone whose reasons didn’t ultimately satisfy you? As long as you got your reward, would you just let it lie and go retire at your mansion, or would it gnaw at you that you spent your whole life glorifying a monster and convincing others to worship him? How much integrity, as god’s chosen, do you have? Would you start to wonder if hell was really all that bad or just a rumor?

        • Greg G.

          In heaven, there is neither sorrow or pain, only happiness. You will be happy that your loved ones are getting all the torture they deserve. You won’t be troubled by compassion or empathy. All the human emotions will gone. You won’t be able to be dissatisfied to have a war for the right to feel differently as John H2’s religion espouses. There will be no sin in heaven. The apologists tell us that free will requires the possibility of sin so that implies there can be no free will in heaven.

          You will enjoy heaven whether you like it or not!

        • Pofarmer

          The beatings will continue until morale improves.

        • TheNuszAbides

          It does not matter if we know or not the reason someone is suffering, we are to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that need comfort, and not judge because we don’t know and even if we did they are still our brother or sister and in pain.

          not a shred of which requires supernatural agency or authoritarian discipline. (and not-judging is certainly not encouraged by the latter.)
          (and yes, i know i’m late.)

        • CodyGirl824

          We are only capable of empathy because we all know what it means to feel pain and to suffer. Pay attention to what JohnH2 is saying. He makes sense.

        • Greg G.

          If an entity could prevent suffering, why would we need empathy? Empathy is good for social beings in an indifferent universe.

          Is your god capable of preventing all suffering? How do you know? Have you responded to this question yet? I’ve asked several times but Disqus is sluggish on this device.

        • Kodie

          Why do we need a god to learn that? Why would we need empathy if there were no pain and suffering?

        • Kodie

          So heaven’s not going to be all great? If there were no starvation, why would we need to know what it feels like to understand eating?

        • JohnH2

          If there were no starvation then we would still understand eating because we all experience hunger.

          Heaven will be better than when we left it because we will have gained a knowledge of good and evil and learned to choose the good.

        • CodyGirl824

          Greg, describe for us please a human life in a biological, perishable body that cannot and does not experience pain and suffering. Just biological pain. What I am trying to guide you to see is that given death, pain and suffering are necessary. If there were no death, there would be no suffering. Do you think that God (or whatever you call your hypothesized omnipotent entity) should have created biological humans that do not die? Isn’t your complaint then that death exists?

        • hector_jones

          “If there were no death, there would be no suffering.”

          Sure, whatever. I just have to laugh at how you think you get to assert garbage like this and we just have to take it.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, there is a relationship between death and suffering. As I said, all human suffering ends, either in healing or in death. If you don’t agree, give me your counter-argument.

        • hector_jones

          Saying that all human suffering ends, either in healing or in death, is not at all the same thing as saying that if there is no death there would be no suffering. But you are too stupid to see why, so I’m not going to bother to explain it to you. I’m just going to enjoy the laughs. Thanks.

        • CodyGirl824

          What would be the source of pain and suffering if there were no death? The body experiences pain when something that is threatening to the body’s life-sustaining functions is happening, correct? If we were made to live forever (not die) what would be the reason for or function of pain? Don’t just insult my intelligence and mock me. Explain yourself! I’m taking this discussion seriously. Why won’t you?

        • hector_jones

          Since not all pain and suffering results in death, and since all pain and suffering precedes death, it is ipso facto impossible that death is necessary for there to be pain and suffering. It’s pretty simple and obvious, Jenna, to anyone with a shred of intelligence or intellectual honesty. It is life that is necessary for there to be pain and suffering, not death, Jenna.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are so smug and arrogant! You did not answer my question: What would be the purpose of pain and suffering if there were no death? I’m not talking about the death of any one individual human being. I am talking about death as a condition of life. All living things die. I presented the two alternatives in the case of pain: healing or death. And of course life is necessary for there to be death, just as pain and suffering are a reality in and for human life. Non-living things do not die and we don’t talk about the death of non-living things. Get off your high horse, hector!

        • Greg G.

          If an entity exists that could prevent suffering but doesn’t, then the point of suffering is the preference and enjoyment of that entity, whether there is death or no death.

          Is your god capable of an unlimited number of perpetual miracles or not? How do you know? Why believe in such a being?

        • CodyGirl824

          Greg, human beings are created (through whatever creative processes that brought us to be what we are as humans today) to live in a specific environment that has specific conditions that both threaten and support our survival (life). What you are asking us to imagine is an environment where there are no threats to survival and therefore, in such an environment, the creature designed to survive in that environment would have no need to feel pain or suffer. This is not humankind. We are made to live on planet earth. Our bodies have features that sustain and perpetuate our lives, but we also compete with other living creatures in our environment that threaten our survival and can kill us (cause a breakdown or life-ending malfunction of one or more of our essential survival systems).

          This is our reality. Your/our ability to envision a different sort of existence with different conditions in a different environment is testimony not to the non-existence of God but to His existence since we can imagine a “better” or more perfect life to which we aspire. Such a life would be a “perpetual miracle” because it is not possible without the agency of something beyond humankind to create. This is what we Christians call the Kingdom of God. Ancient Hebrews called it the Garden of Eden. Our ability to conceptualize and understand this kind of a life, different from our earthly human reality, is the reason we conceptualize and understand God.

        • hector_jones

          We are just asking you to imagine an environment that was created by a perfect, omni-benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent deity because that’s what xians tell us their god is.

        • CodyGirl824

          And as I said, we Christians call this environment the Kingdom of God. We also recognize that our omnipotent omniscient God, knowing all, being the Intelligence of all intelligence and being capable of doing anything, can do whatever He wants to do with intelligence. We are only biological perishable image of Him who He lovingly created.

        • Pofarmer

          “We are only biological perishable image of Him who He lovingly created.”

          Then why do we look so much like everything else on the planet? Why couldn’t we have a unique physiology like this guy? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2639831/The-alien-backyard-Researchers-sea-creature-unique-brain-regrow-four-days.html

        • hector_jones

          And we look just like god, but don’t you dare use the term ‘anthropomorphism’ to describe the beliefs of the Ancient Hebrews, or you will feel the Wrath of Jenna.

        • JohnH2

          Does Theomorphism bring down the Wrath of Jenna?

        • hector_jones

          Probably not in this thread since you aren’t an atheist. On this blog Jenna and all believers are just one big happy family. But if I were a Mormon like you I wouldn’t want to meet her alone in a dark alley.

        • Kodie

          Jenna wrote the book on theomorphism.

        • hector_jones

          I went to school with a guy named Theo Morphism. True story.

        • Kodie

          That thing can regrow its brain and we can’t regrow a pinky toe?

        • hector_jones

          Because God loves us sooooooo much more.

        • Pofarmer

          Ain’t it awesome?

        • Kodie

          I think he shouldn’t have saved Noah’s family. That was a douche move.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m sorry, but that second paragraph is so. Fucking. Stupid.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, you should be sorry for this sorry comment. But I don’t happen to believe that you really are.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s just that the idea that we can’t imagine things that don’t exist is so ridiculous. We do it, quite literally, all the time. Hell, it’s the basis for all kinds of sci fi and horror movies, oh, and religion. We do it so often you could say it’s common.

        • Kodie

          I’m sorry you are suffering from a bold case of stupidity, I wish you would take the cure.

        • hector_jones

          Some cases heal, some end with death. My money is on Jenna’s case being of the latter type.

        • Kodie

          You are describing life on planet earth without a deity.

        • Kodie

          This is our reality. Your/our ability to envision a different sort of
          existence with different conditions in a different environment is
          testimony not to the non-existence of God but to His existence since we
          can imagine a “better” or more perfect life to which we aspire.

          That’s why Eden was invented, the fall, and heaven where we long to go, a perfect environment was envisioned and for various reasons, we’re left with a crap world that’s hard to stay alive sometimes, and that’s the invention of a religion to cope with actual circumstances.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the success rate of this ‘coping’ is pretty slim too. an unfortunate many Flocks seem to have coping deficiencies now that more rigorous study and ‘wondrous’ tech continue to overtake the ~traditional~ (synonym for “don’t know any better yet”) bailiwick of religion.

        • Greg G.

          Right, humans made just the way an indifferent universe would make reproducing machines but humans are not made the way a compassionate, empathetic entity would make them.

          Surely an entity that had the ability to anticipate and prevent suffering could convey the knowledge of what the consequences would have been without the suffering.

          An entity could have made creatures made of diamonds and powered by the zero-point energy that expands the universe so there would not be limited necessary resources.

          Things are the way they are but you still have no justification for suffering be permitted by an omnipotent entity. Either your god is malevolent or impotent. John Loftus has said that if the Problem of Evil doesn’t keep a theist up at night, the theist doesn’t understand the Problem of Evil.

          Any theology that justifies suffering as necessary is horrible.

        • hector_jones

          Are you trying to get into a discussion of evolution, or something else?

        • 90Lew90

          What’s the purpose of death if you can get everlasting life? Why create people and put them to the test if all you really want is to have a great big eternal party where everyone doesn’t have genitals but lives in an everlasting orgasm? What are you talking about? Sorry but I can’t help but disdain this rubbish. There are more important and pressing matters to attend to, such as the only chance you and I and our cohorts get. Your view breeds irresponsibility and a cheapening of life and the value of now. “Take no care for the morrow.” Maybe some of us give a shit about “the morrow” and find your cant insulting and stupid.

        • MNb

          No, he is doing his (and my) favourite hobby: tempting you to write all kind of ridiculous things we simple atheists can’t even imagine, only because your belief system prevents you from both admitting that you’re wrong and admitting that there is something you can’t figure out.
          On a meta level the funniest thing about you is that your belief system propagates humility and at the same time prevents you from displaying it. As such you do a better job to discredit your own belief system than any atheist here can. Finally it’s very funny that no matter how often we warn you for this danger this you still continue. As such you give the parable of the wide, easy path vs. the small thorny path a highly ironical meaning.
          So do Hector and me a favour and please continue.

        • Kodie

          So it’s smug and arrogant to not answer your questions?

          There is no “purpose” to pain and suffering. In real life, you are right, it could tell you something’s wrong and go see a doctor or eat something or eat a bucket of ice cream. Not every suffering is fatal in nature and could last for decades until the person’s natural death or possibly their suicide if it’s painful enough. But it’s not put on us for a purpose. It’s how we evolved, we have senses, and some of those sensations we experience feel “bad”. What delusional thought process is searching for a purpose for pain and suffering? Oh yeah because you were asked to speak for god who doesn’t explain these things very well. (Neither do you, but you’re here and he’s not).

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know, I am in all kinds of pain pretty much all of the time. I broke an ankle several years ago that acts up on occasion. If I do too much up and down my knees ache and swell. I partially tore the rotator cuff in my right shoulder 3 years ago, which took 2 years to heal. I pulled the tendons in my left should last August, and re injured them in January. Whoa Nelly, but that’s painful. So, all of this pain, much of it I attribute to too much working too hard in my youth, is supposed to be, what? Making me better? Telling me God loves me? In reality, it’s almost like our bodies were “designed” by evolution to get old enough to reproduce a few times and then decay until death. At least that’s the way I see it.

        • 90Lew90

          But your god is wholly benevolent, and abhors pain and suffering. Why allow it unnecessarily? Your god, on this account, is either a bungling fool who isn’t up to the job, or a complete sadist. Given its record, it’s more likely the latter.

        • Greg G.

          Why is that necessary?

        • Kodie

          So, if a person doesn’t heal, they could suffer for decades before they die. You said it would end in death, you didn’t give a time-frame.

        • Greg G.

          No, death could be painless. Why would a body have to biological and perishable? If they are perishable, why can’t your god step in any number of times perpetually to prevent every incident of suffering?

        • CodyGirl824

          Why would God need to do this? If God removed every incidence of pain and suffering, then we wouldn’t know that anything was wrong, and we would still die, painlessly, of course, but with no hope for healing.

          All of this is an argument that basically claims that since humans are the way we are, this eliminates the possibility of God. This is simply a profound lack of understanding of what we mean when we speak of/about God.

        • Kodie

          You have a profound lack of understanding how your arguments don’t describe a benevolent god. He’s good to you if you feel it, and you don’t really care about anyone else. Their suffering is for your edification, that works!

        • Kodie

          That doesn’t make any sense. You are rationalizing that we need to learn these valuable life lessons supplied by god who neglects people for this purpose. So Jenna can learn a valuable life lesson, god has determined to allow suffering for others. Oh, that makes it better.

          These are just facts of life, they’re not facts that require a god, and make god look pretty bad for being his reasons that you infer from guessing.

        • hector_jones

          God makes Jenna stupid as a lesson to us all.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, why do you feel the need to insult and ridicule me? What is it that occurred in your loss of faith that makes you so antagonistic toward someone because of her faith? This arrogance and anger are, I fear, the ugly underbelly (sin) of atheism, which you express and typify but are not alone in among atheists. Your atheism seems to have turned you into an unpleasant and bitter man.

        • hector_jones

          I’m antagonistic toward you because you are:

          arrogant
          smug
          blatantly dishonest
          stupid
          wilfully blind
          self-righteous
          a weasel

        • CodyGirl824

          You misspelled “willfully.”

        • hector_jones

          Thanks for proving my point. To my list I now add the word ‘petty’.

        • Kodie

          I get pretty impatient with your constant bullshit and nonsense blathering, your dishonesty, your cowardice, your pseudo-intellectual superiority complex, and all the wrongness you keep repeating, especially about atheists. We’re angry at you because you’re irritatingly ignorant and ignorant about how ignorant you are. When you act like such a poor little victim because atheists don’t like arguing with you, it’s disingenuous. We’ve told you, I’ve definitely told you, exactly, specifically, what is wrong with you as a person as well as what’s wrong with any and all of your shitty arguments. You invite us to pick apart the stupid things you believe by being here and having a shitty, antagonistic attitude toward us.

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

          How exactly has it been helpful for you to disregard everything we say, fail at reading comprehension, play dumb, and retreat repeatedly? Are you intentionally playing a game, and then crying boo hoo when we’re too mean to you? If you’re not playing a game, do us a favor and pay damn attention:

          You are not here to open your mind and learn something, so it’s pretty assholish of you to presume we care about your beliefs. You’re wrong about a lot of things, so I don’t think there’s any substance in your monotheistic deification of whatever way the wind blows. How many different ways do we have to tell you so you can understand? Do you complain that we’re hostile, that’s just the way we are? Reasoning with someone as willfully ignorant and dishonest as you are tends to test our patience. You’re disgustingly judgmental to continue to carry beliefs that make our lack of respect for someone with as many aggravating and wrong qualities as you have the fault of atheism.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          Not to mention that God’s proposed morality revolves around not causing pain to each other and promoting joy and love. He could just create us in such a way that we would only cause joy and experience love, which is possible if you believe in Heaven. And the free will you have is choosing which way you want to please God and others. The ability to cause suffering is not a requisite for causing joy. If it is, it is because God made it so.

        • hector_jones

          The issue here isn’t really the alarm system, it’s the fire.

        • 90Lew90

          “Pain and suffering is necessary to biological life. Pain is an alarm system that serves us to alert us that something is wrong.”

          You’re cadging the argument I made earlier about the “problem” of evil. The problem still remains for you. In an evolved species, yes, pain has a function. But in a species created by a supposedly all-loving and omnipotent god which rejects and abhors evil and pain and suffering, why create species so vulnerable to pain and suffering? You conjour an image of a fumbling, muddling, rather imperfect god, who turns out its creation into a world of suffering and struggle, and then frets about it, but yet, it still expects we minions of his to be sorry for things we never fucking did and to worship it for giving us this often painful life of struggle. Pull your head out of your arse woman.

        • InDogITrust

          “Pain and suffering is necessary to biological life.”
          Wrong. Only animals with nerve cells sense pain. Plants, fungi, bacteria, viruses, many forms of life do not experience pain.
          So pain is God’s way of telling us there is a malfunction of the organism? Why didn’t he just create organisms that don’t malfunction?
          You don’t get points for putting a fire alarm in a house of straw, if you just as easily could have made the house fireproof.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay. Only animals feel pain. Please forgive me for omitting this detail from the discussion, not thinking, as I did, that it was necessary or relevant. See my response to Greg about my understanding of why God didn’t create humans as organisms that don’t malfunction and die. I need not repeat it.

        • 90Lew90

          That wasn’t an omission. It was an oversight. There is a difference. Your attempting to call it an omission makes you a slippery, equivocal, make-it-up-as-you-go-along, typical, weak-minded, dishonest, bullshitter.

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

          Assuming that pain is God’s gift to let us know when something is broken, what’s the point of pain for cancer? It’s not like we can pull our hand away from the stove, like it works with pain from a burn.

        • InDogITrust

          And phantom limb pain, that’s really useful.

        • MNb

          “Pain and suffering is necessary to biological life.”
          But you are a dualist. You expect an afterlife without suffering. How about our deal? Me giving up my existence (as I am not afraid of being dead) and your soul going to afterlife to be reunited with your late husband? Right here and now?

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          God wants us to experience love and joy, right? And that is contrary to the suffering we experience because God designed us with bodies that may cause us to feel suffering. So we can’t experience love and joy (or rather, choose the path of love and joy) if we’re dead. Would you believe it to be wrong for God to deny someone the chance to “choose” to love him? If so, why does God have us die anyway (not even counting him commanding others to kill or him directly killing someone himself)? Why not just have us live forever the way we are now so we can always be able to correct our mistakes and freely love God? I’m pretty sure God can handle the population growth if he wants Heaven to be big enough to hold all his creations.

          I mean, if there’s no evil to choose from then choosing good loses its significance and God doesn’t want that (according to you, I presume). That means evil must happen in Heaven since humans are naturally sinful or else we must be forced to choose good, in which case it’s not a choice at all.

    • smrnda

      On the problem of evil, it seems that Mormons believe in a powerful but not omnipotent god, which gets them out of that easier than most monotheists.

      I have often thought that polytheism makes far more sense than monotheism; many gods and goddesses with different powers and competing agendas would explain life far better than 1 good, omnipotent god. Despite the fact that it explains life better, I still don’t find it believable, but it does show that one can get around the problem of evil several ways by taking somewhat unorthodox beliefs.

  • wtfwjtd

    Speaking from personal experience, I’ve seen points #6 and #7 used in circular fashion by Christians everywhere: Why do we need faith? A: Because God is hidden. Why is God hidden? A: So that we may have faith.

    Using this circular construct allows the Christian to get past the sticking point of evidence: Faith is a virtue. Show strong faith by expressing public belief in a hidden God, and then hunt for circumstantial confirming evidence of answered prayers, and rely on emotional religious experiences for further boosts in faith. Lather, rinse, repeat…It gives the comfort and illusion that you have a real relationship with a powerful, hidden being, and this illusion is further boosted by interaction with those who do likewise. Been there, done that.

    • MNb

      “Faith is a virtue.”
      At least this is honest.

      “then hunt for circumstantial confirming evidence”
      But this isn’t, because in this circular argument confirming evidence has become superfluous. In other words this hunt implies that faith is not a virtue after all and that the believer needs more.
      This is basically what Kierkegaard argued.

      • wtfwjtd

        “…this hunt implies that faith is not a virtue after all and that the believer needs more.”

        In the believer’s mind, you want to hold onto that belief that faith is a virtue, but….there are plenty of times those nagging doubts begin to creep in, so hence the (low profile)search for confirming evidence. If you find what you think qualifies, great–you proclaim it. But if you don’t, you keep looking until you do. You’ll find something eventually–and this helps perpetuate the cycle.

    • Kingasaurus

      Yeah, I never get a good answer as to why this god thinks faith is a great thing, and he considers it the best way to get to know him. Why, exactly? What makes it so great? What’s the reason he wants people to engage in it, instead of just supplying proof? Is it a game? It’s really easy to have faith in the wrong/false thing, with no way to tell the difference or figure out that you’re wrong. Why does the god of Abraham prefer faith over other methods of “knowing”? No one ever tells us. God wants you to have faith, just because.

      The more parsimonious explanation (as Bob noted) is that he’s imaginary, and “faith” is a human concoction designed as a belief maintenance strategy in the face of the lack of evidence. Because, you know, he’s imaginary.

      • wtfwjtd

        “Yeah, I never get a good answer as to why this god thinks faith is a great thing, and he considers it the best way to get to know him. Why, exactly? What makes it so great? What’s the reason he wants people to engage in it, instead of just supplying proof? Is it a game? It’s really easy to have faith in the wrong/false thing, with no way to tell the difference or figure out that you’re wrong. ”

        It’s not that faith is such a great thing, but as an honest believer, you finally realize–it’s the only game in town. You realize, you really have no choice but to make the best of it, and so that’s what you attempt. It reminds me of when my hair started thinning, I “decided” that having close-cropped hair was the best hair style ever, and I’d wear my hair this way anyhow! Honestly, you admit to yourself that you wish you had more hairstyle choices, but due to circumstances beyond your control, you don’t. So, you just make the best of it, and pretend that it was your idea all along, when in reality it wasn’t. Religious faith is a lot like that.

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

          Great example! In short, we make the best of the hand that fate deals us, and we often never realize the duplicity.

        • Pofarmer

          That kind of explains the faith maps, doesn’t it?

        • wtfwjtd

          I’ve been watching with some amusement as JohnH and Karl have squirmed and twisted in trying to answer some of these 10 questions. Don’t get me wrong guys, I value your contributions here, they seem heart felt and sincere, and most of the time I feel you are making an honest effort to articulate what you actually believe, and not just attempting an inane game of formulating a silly “gotcha” argument that some come here to do. I appreciate this, as it challenges me to refine and verbalize my own feelings related to spiritual matters. And, it reminds me of some of the rationalizations I used to use–all in defense of the faith.
          That said, I know from personal experience that the believer avoids appeals to evidence to validate their faith, because then you are potentially making a falsifiable claim. This is dangerous territory for the believer–too much of this, and faith begins to weaken. Hence, the rejection of calls for evidence, and the extolling of faith alone as the highest virtue.

        • TheNuszAbides

          So, you just make the best of it, and pretend that it was your idea all along, when in reality it wasn’t.

          and on top of that, if the question of attribution actually comes up (from the scurrilous Anti-Faith called Doubt, foolish children, morally barren Atheisticals, etc.), you only have One option to credit anything good (The Almighty) and only two options to credit anything bad (sinful humans or the Arch-Bogeyman).

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

      How an adult can argue that faith is a good thing baffles me. Amazing.

      • wtfwjtd

        In order to understand this circular reasoning, you have to try and think like someone on the inside. This is tough, I know–I’ve *lived* it, and I still have difficulty trying to remember how I used to think much of the time.
        Anyhow, keep in mind, kids and teenagers especially are generally a lot more emotionally intense than adults are; so extolling a belief system that relies on strong appeals to emotion is a lot more appealing and effective to this age group, than are appeals to rationality. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that religion indoctrinates itself into teens and younger–once this stage of intense emotion has passed, it’s much harder for religion to take root in the mind. That’s because appeals to the emotion aren’t nearly as effective with most adults,especially older ones, and appeals to rationality fall flat–for lack of evidence, obviously. Once you take away that emotional appeal, what’s left? Simply faith in a hidden god, a concept that’s a much tougher sell to the rational mind. So, push the emotional aspects to the younger set, within limitations, get them hooked, and then as they age, shift the focus more to the circular construct mentioned above.

        • CodyGirl824

          wtfwjtd, you really need to gain an understanding of the development of faith in the healthy human personality across time as we mature. I recommend again the work of Professor James W. Fowler (1981) “Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning.”

        • Pofarmer

          Professor of?

        • MNb

          We got over that guy in the past already. He is a pseudoscientist who has cobbled together some Freud and some Piaget, combining it with scientifically refuted claims. All you need to read to recognize the bunk is this:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stages_of_faith_development

          My favourite is this one:

          “the psyche’s unprotected exposure to the Unconscious”
          which is nothing but baked air.
          Stage 5, the midlife crisis, has been falsified by psychological research. Of course the idea was hot in the 80’s so Fowler thought it fancy to weave some drivel around it.
          But we already know that Cody cares less than zilch about science, ie about knowledge. She only cares about the nice, warm cozy feeling in her underbelly. That’s her method.

        • CodyGirl824

          How predictable. You accuse me of ignoring or rejecting “science” when I provide a reference to a credible and respected work on the psychology of faith, as if science has a method of addressing human development from a psychological, spiritual perspective. Is your claim to have discredited James Fowler’s research that “psychological research” has “falsified the idea of the “midlife crisis”, which is not at all what Professor Fowler’s research is about? You don’t know what you’re talking about and it is obvious that you are grasping at straws to construct yet another straw man argument.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm. Before I would consider him credible and respected I would have to know how the Psychological community views his work.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay, so investigate to find out.

        • MNb

          Pssst – Fowler is not a scientist. He is a theologian. As I have shown he uses some Freud (the Unconscious), who has been been thrown out by psychologists since decades.

        • Pofarmer

          Looks like a theologian to me.

          “James W. Fowler is a graduate of Duke University and Drew Theological
          Seminary and earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University in Religion and
          Society in 1971, with a focus in ethics and sociology of religion. He
          pursued post-doctoral studies at the Center for Moral Development at the
          Harvard Graduate School of Education (1971-72). He taught at Harvard
          Divinity School (1969-75) and at Boston College (1975-76). In 1977 he
          joined the faculty of Emory’s Candler School of Theology. Emory named
          him the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Theology and Human
          Development in 1987.”

          I can only find about 2 cites to him in the works of others, and both of those are also theological in nature.

        • hector_jones

          Oh no, a theologian who thinks that makes him a scientist! Better not tell Jenna.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay. Disregard Professor Fowler’s research if you don’t consider it to be “scientific” if you choose to. But how would a “scientist” from any other field who knows nothing about theology be able to contribute to our knowledge of how faith develops?

        • MNb

          What research? Can you give us access to his empirical results?
          Why should a psychologist – it belongs to his/her field – need to understand theology to investigate how faith develops? All he/she needs is an operational definition of faith.

        • smrnda

          I actually know psychologists who do exactly that. They study faith the way someone studies the placebo effect.

        • MNb

          I’m not surprised.

        • Kodie

          What? You are all ready to leap to the conclusion that because faith develops, it comes from outside the body from a spirit dimension, based on a gross misunderstanding (theological implications, you call them) of brain scan research.

          Believe it or not, science is capable of studying human behavior without having to refer to theology at all.

        • CodyGirl824

          And your point is…?

        • hector_jones

          MNb’s point is that your statement thus:

          How predictable. You accuse me of ignoring or rejecting “science” when I provide a reference to a credible and respected work on the psychology of faith …

          Is complete and utter bullshit. You ignore and reject science and replace it with theology, but pretend that it’s science. You’re a fraud, Jenna.

        • CodyGirl824

          What have I “pretended to be science” that is not science. Be specific. Otherwise, I’ll just take this as another one of your drive-by insults.

        • hector_jones

          Your words “a reference to a credible and respected work on the psychology of faith …” was your attempt to pretend that Fowler is science when he’s theology. Christ on a cracker you are dishonest. I wouldn’t trust you to tell me what day of the week it is.

        • CodyGirl824

          Fowler’s work is psychology. Read the title of his book, please. If you don’t consider psychology to be a science, this is not my problem. I commit no fraud in calling this researchers work what he himself calls it.

        • hector_jones

          Oh the title of his book proves it? You are a fucking joke, Jenna. But keep going, I love to laugh.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!

          “I commit no fraud in calling this researchers work what he himself calls it.”
          Absolutely brilliant. Here, I have a guy doing physics for you. He himself calls it so.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Rowbotham

          It’s even in the title of his book: Zetetic Astronomy: Earth Not a Globe.
          And of course Ol’ Hambo, the Ayatollah of Answers in Genesis employs biologists. They say so themselves.

        • Kodie

          How did you read what hector wrote and come up with “if you don’t consider psychology to be a science…”???????

          How much worse can your reading comprehension get? I know, you don’t want to admit to yourself and to us that you are a fool, that you were fooled into believing you read a legitimate book on psychology written by an actual psychologist, but you’ve had the information laid out to you in very simple terms, and you still insist that’s hector’s mistake for not considering psychology to be a science?

          FOWLER

          IS NOT

          A

          PSYCHOLOGIST.

          He’s a theological dabbler like you, with little to no understanding in the field of psychology except as he can distort whatever findings he likes to uphold some fiction you call “theology”.

        • hector_jones

          Oh fuck off, twit.

        • Kodie

          Theology has no relevance in science. “Theological implications” is a way of interpreting and distorting scientific findings to fit in with a fictional story, and then pose as legitimate scholarship equated with the field of the findings they distort. It makes you feel scholarly and intellectual to read but they are garbage. Your time is better spent watching tv.

        • CodyGirl824

          Again, be specific. What science do you accuse me of ignoring or rejecting? Back up your claim or back off!

        • hector_jones

          The claim has been backed up, shithead.

        • MNb

          Psychology falsifying the midlife crisis, hence Fowler’s Stage Five.

        • Kodie

          Actual psychology. Actual psychology from a psychologist and not a theologian pretending to be one.

        • MNb

          See Hector underneath. Fowler’s theory is pseudoscience.

        • CodyGirl824

          Fowler’s model of the stages of faith development is eclectic, in that it encompasses psychology, sociology, philosophy and theology. He bases his model on the theories and research of recognized and respected psychologists, including Eric Erikson, Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kolberg and constructs his model based on hundreds of case studies of real people. I don’t know why you call it pseudoscience, other than that this appears to give your rejection of Fowler’s work the appearance of being “scientific.” This will win the approval of your atheist cohort.

        • MNb

          I don’t care if it is eclectic.
          It’s pseudoscience.

          “I don’t know why you call it pseudoscience”
          Yeah, we already know that you can’t comprehend anything that is outside your narrow field of vision, narrowed as this is by your tightened religious blinkers.
          It’s pseudoscience because
          a) it makes untestable claims and uses untestable concepts; the most obvious one is Freudian The Unconscious;
          b) it maintains the falsified hypothesis of midlife crisis.

          “This will win the approval of your atheist cohort.”
          I couldn’t care less about the approval of your (not my) atheist cohort. The only one who has ever banned me is the atheist Jerry Coyne. Daniel Fincke has explicitely forbidden me to use the word “stupid”. Nasty and obnoxious as I am I point him out every appropriate moment when “the infamous s-word” applies.
          Really, Jenna/Cody, you have no idea how silly you look when you try to be snarky like this. Of course this warning won’t stop you either; which will make me laugh more.

        • Kodie

          Fowler’s work has the appearance of being “scientific” to a pseudo-intellectual theology dabbler like you. Your faith makes you stupid and wrong about a lot of things.

        • Kodie

          A so he is a theological implicator, i.e. cherry-picker of legitimate fields of study to find ways to warp this into a convincing text for pseudo-intellectual theists like Jenna to base her beliefs on something that seems scholarly to her and as if it is respectable scholarship comparable to legitimate fields of study, which we’ve already established, have no use to insert theology in order to be understood in “human language”. It’s not all that complex that we need to make up ways to convey meaning, but ways of creating meaning where there is none; it just is.

          You wanted me to name names, I’m naming Fowler, a theologian pretending to be a psychologist.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why this barrage of attacks on Professor Fowler’s work on the psychology of human develop and the stages of faith development? Prof. Fowler is not pretending to be anything that he is not, nor am I pretending that he is anything that he is not. Nearly 600 subjects participated in Dr. Fowler’s research study. These included people of/ from many religions and self-identified agnostics and atheists. Dr. Fowler is considered to be “…a seminal figure in the field of developmental psychology. Have any of you bothered to look up his academic CV? I doubt it. Enough already. Faith exists and is a legitimate subject of inquiry, whether you like it or not. Get over it.

        • hector_jones

          Pofarmer looked up and posted his CV about 3 hours ago. Why would you doubt it? You don’t need evidence for things.

        • CodyGirl824

          All the more reason to question why you folks are attacking Dr. Fowler and making all sorts of wild accusations against me (fraud, stupidity, etc.) for recommending Prof. Fowler’s research on faith.

        • hector_jones

          OMG too funny. An atheist goes and does the very thing you ask them to do, and you reply that that’s all the more reason to be suspicious of the motives of atheists. My what great integrity you have, Jenna.

        • Kodie

          She is operating with her head up her ass.

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

          Jenna can’t lose–sweet! It’s nice having an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

        • Kodie

          We’re not disagreeing on the subject of inquiry or that people have faith. We’re questioning the credentials of someone passing off his bias as academic research, and you buying it. I don’t know what’s so difficult for you to understand about that.

        • MNb

          Stage 5: “”Conjunctive” faith (mid-life crisis)”
          See, it’s there. Also from stage five (“to late thirties”) we can derive that this supposed “conjunctive” faith starts around 40 – typically the age that the mid-life crisis is supposed to occur. Except that it doesn’t for 90% of mankind.
          If you don’t trust Wikipedia just google “James W Fowler midlife crisis.” You’ll find plenty of references. As the midlife crisis is bogus so is stage 5. It’s as simple as that.
          Now there are some good things to say too. In the first place Fowler has found himself an important scientific subject: the development of faith. And choosing Piaget as his model is excellent as well. So the parts which are directly connected to Piaget are scientific indeed: stage 2 and 3 are totally testable and, as far as I can tell from my 20 years experience as a teacher, probably correct.
          It’s when he deviates and when he “invents” stuff that he goes off the rails. For instance Piaget recognizes an important cognitive turning point at the age of 15, 16, which Fowler totally ignores. Moreover Piaget’s scheme stops at about 20 – hence Piaget does not back up Fowler’s stage 5 and 6. Finally stage 0 and parts of stage 1 (The Unconscious) are unscientific, because not testable.
          Where you – and not Fowler – go completely wrong is with your claim that Fowler’s model applies to all humans. It obviously doesn’t as there isn’t any room for apostates. People deconvert at all ages from 12 years on (something Piaget’s model predicts btw). Moreover there is no single reason to assume that it applies to people who are raised without religion, like me.
          Somebody should do Fowler’s work over again and then with a purely scientific attitude.

        • CodyGirl824

          Thanks for taking the time to look more deeply at James Folwer’s research. Of course, Professor Fowler’s model doesn’t apply to all humans. No model in any field of inquiry and research is universally applicable. That is the nature of models. I didn’t make any claims about Dr. Fowler’s model, other than to recommend his book as a source of information about the psychology of faith development. Also please note that there were atheists among his research subjects, which he talks about in some detail among the case studies he covers in his book.

          What do you mean by replicating Fowler’s work “with a purely scientific attitude”? You realize, of course, that case study research of this nature cannot be replicated. However, you will note that Fowler’s model has been used many times in subsequent research studies, which attests to its relevance and utility for investigating this subject.

        • hector_jones

          “Thanks for taking the time to look more deeply at James Folwer’s research.”

          Hahaha, this is the closest we will ever get to Jenna admitting she was wrong.

        • CodyGirl824

          Wrong about what?

        • MNb

          “No model in any field of inquiry and research is universally applicable.”
          Oh yes – we begin with the hunt for GUT – General Unified Theory – by physicists. The simple economical theory of monetary inflation is universal as well.
          And Piaget’s model applies to all human beings indeed. It’s possible that it needs some modification, but it never ceases to amaze me how I recognize it here in the small village in the middle of the jungle where I live, with kids with a totally different cultural background.

          “I didn’t make any claims about Dr. Fowler’s model”
          Liar. You did. A few articles ago you categorized atheists in two of Fowler’s stages.

          “What do you mean by replicating Fowler’s work “with a purely scientific attitude”?”
          Get rid of Freud’s influences; remove the silly “midlife crisis” part. Make sure to make only testable claims.

          “case study research of this nature cannot be replicated”
          Nonsense. Babies are born in religious families (if you are sensible and want to exclude non-believers) all over the world. As soon as they can talk their faith can be researched (provided we have an operational definition – social scientists and psychologists are usually thoroughly trained to formulate them). Before it is more difficult, but psychologists have figured out all kinds of tests of their cognitive skills. So consult them.
          And when we have a solid model that describes the development of faith it will be damn interesting to compare it with the cognitive development of nonbelievers. Does their nonbelief develop in a similar way? If not, why not? How about people who convert or deconvert? How do they fit? I have no idea, but it looks fascinating. That means that highly likely truckloads of psychologists are doing such research and I am only unaware of it.

        • smrnda

          I don’t actually think what Fowler – or Freud did would be considered ‘science’ by contemporary psychologists. The field has moved away from philosophical sounding woo into falsifiable experiments and a great deal of neuroscience.

        • TheNuszAbides

          aww, the Stages don’t have their own page anymore! poor profferer Fowler.

          seems a rather flimsy (if not desperate) effort. i much prefer the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-circuit_model_of_consciousness (if only the first five, and nobody is likely to chastise me for picking and choosing!).

        • hector_jones

          God sometimes makes me think of those toy ads I used to see on TV when I was a kid – “Some assembly may be required. Batteries not included”.

    • Greg G.

      How do we know God is hidden. Because we can’t see him.

      • wtfwjtd

        And why can’t we see him? Because he’s…

        Yeah, I get it, a circular firing squad.

        • Greg G.

          Ready, Aim, DUCK!

      • Testmeandsee

        In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

        Ps 19:1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.…

        Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

        Heb. 1:3  Son (Jesus) is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

        John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

        1 Timothy 6:16 (Jesus) who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

        Gen 33:19  And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;…

        The Supremacy of Christ
        15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.…

        Heb 9 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he EXISTS and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

        Man hates God, man runs from God, it is not in our nature to seek Him out. Of course you wouldn’t come to God if you believe He doesn’t exist. He doesn’t want you to come to Him in vain.

        I give you a metaphor: God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. God is spirit. Jesus came in a body. God is the software, the intelligence, designer, the word, the light, life, sustainer. Jesus is the hardware, the touchable, seeable, example, displayer, proof of God’s intent and purpose to redeem mankind from the FACT of sin.

        <

        • Kodie

          Are you kidding me, people love the shit out of a god. The notion is popular across time and culture. God seems to be ok if you come to “him” as a robotic zombie because someone said. What makes it ok to program children before they’re developed mentally in order that they fear an invisible sky daddy? They didn’t seek him out, does god like this dishonesty, that parents are too fearful their children won’t seek god out honestly, that they have to program them to robotic obedience? This seems to be the height of vanity, that grown adults just can’t stand if their children might learn something they don’t want them to learn, so spend their parenting time feeding lies of fear and ignorance.

          It’s just really weird to me that grown adults think god is real at all. Your metaphor makes very little sense. You’d have to presuppose a god to assign these qualities, and in order to “seek” god, you also have to presuppose there is someone to seek. There is no evidence that it is anything but a lie and a multi-level marketing scheme. You have a bible, you read it, do you think it is wise because it contains wisdom, or do you just agree with everything it says because you already presuppose a god? Do you think it must be pretty wise of god to author the bible? People who are Christians are not demonstrably better people, and often, their faith makes them worse people who are so arrogant, they won’t hear of it how sick and twisted they are because they are following their faith and made a sick and twisted decision. Sorry, man, you are detached from reality.

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

          Oh, we know about God because of a book, the reliability of which hasn’t been established.

          I think we need something verified as history.

        • MNb

          “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
          Where you there?
          Where the humans who wrote the Bible books down there?

  • Pofarmer

    Love the quote at the end.

  • The Man With The Name Too Long

    Oh man. Has anyone seen this? http://www.eternal-productions.org/101science.html I’m not sure if links can be embedded in text on this forum. This would probably be more relevant in the first part of this article about the point that the Bible is un-scientific.

    Just now when reading the comments section of a College Humor video about circumcision I saw this:

    “God said to circumcise the 8th day when the body produces peak levels of Vitamin K and prothrombin, which causes blood coagulation. Besides preventing cancer in the male, [circumcision] prevents cervical cancer in the female (I go to public restrooms, I see how many people wash their hands, I do not have much faith in the over all cleanliness of society.) This is just one of the many advanced medical breakthroughs the Bible always had. Strong evidence for the Biblical account which should be clear as day to an rational, objective third-party… Also there is physical evidence of the Resurrection by non-believing scientists in peer-reviewed science journals…”

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

      Weird stuff. Thanks.

  • Pofarmer

    Fwiw, Richard Carrier has up a pretty long post about a recent debate he had with a Jesus Historicist who is also an atheist.

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

      I found that here. Thanks.

  • Walter

    God is all good only in so much as he is the alpha and the omega and hence all the good AND all the evil of the universe. It all springs from Him, right?

  • JohnH2

    6.) At the most basic level faith is a necessary component of induction. Not what you are actually asking though (given the reference to John). Faith in God, Christ, Afterlife, etc. without having a sure knowledge is good because we are to learn to choose what is good for ourselves because it is what is right despite everything else.

    7.) God is not hidden.

    8.) Everyone dies. There are a variety of reasons why God may cause a natural disaster but unless He tells us via a prophet we don’t know why. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?

    9.) Genocide internal to the Bible is explained as the Israelites were unrighteous and unfaithful and so couldn’t live with those that didn’t follow God because they would be corrupted by them as opposed to converting them to God. It is also implied in the Bible that those around them were ‘ripe’ with wickedness, but that keeps falling apart in the narrative, as does the Israelites actually having successfully implemented a genocide.

    10.) See 6. Bringing in the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ probably just changes the point to why there is such a weak archeological record in support of the Book of Mormon; assuming theories as to why the names of old world animals are used in the Book of Mormon are accepted; to which there is first the answer of expecting anything different from New World archeology is actually expecting way too much and second, even if we did have sold evidence that wouldn’t be a reason to really believe much of anything, no one believes the popol vuh even knowing that it is an accurate translation of ancient Maya religion.

    • InDogITrust

      Are you saying that there are circumstances in which genocide is good?

      • JohnH2

        There are circumstances in which God killing people is the best alternative, but it isn’t good and God is described as weeping over such instances.

        • 90Lew90

          Boo-fucking-hoo.

        • JohnH2

          I love you too.

        • 90Lew90

          Where is your god described as weeping over killing lots of people?

        • JohnH2
        • hector_jones

          Looks to me like he weeps first, THEN he kills everyone because they made him cry. That’s not compassion, that’s being a dick.

        • JohnH2

          Everyone dies.

        • hector_jones

          So it’s ok when your god slaughters people, because he made a world in which everyone dies. Got it.

        • JohnH2

          Given the term “God” if everyone dies then to some degree God slaughters everyone (murder and war to a perhaps lesser degree than otherwise).

        • 90Lew90

          You forgot about all the little baybees he aborts. Millions. Every day.

        • JohnH2

          I am not a Catholic.

        • hector_jones

          Unlike Cody, you come across as someone who is capable of knowing better. Why do you persist in defending a moral monster? Do you think god is a dick but you are just stuck with him? If so, you need to talk more with former christians about how liberating it was for them to come to the realization that they could live life without God. I’m not the one to really talk to about this because I never had a period in my life where I believed very strongly in God, so giving up on him was easy for me.

        • JohnH2

          God is not a dick; That you have neither come to terms with everyone dying nor understand what death is nor understand who God is, isn’t really my problem.

        • hector_jones

          No it’s not your problem. But beliefs like yours are everyone’s problem, unfortunately.

          Where have I not come to terms with everyone dying? In my view atheists are the only people who truly come to terms with everyone dying. You think you are going to get a planet out of it.

        • JohnH2

          How are my beliefs everyones problem, excluding that everyone here disagrees with me but they wouldn’t really be here if they did not get some sort of enjoyment out of such debates online and so it can’t really be termed a proper “problem”.

          Out of dying I would not get a planet.

        • 90Lew90

          Did it ever occur to you that you’re a true believer in a death cult?

        • JohnH2

          Except Mormonism is not a death cult; Life is what is important and this is part of eternity. The purpose of life is not to die but to live, to gain a body, to be tried and tested in all things, to get married (if possible).

        • 90Lew90

          Like fruit flies? That’s glorious indeed.

        • JohnH2

          It is glorious, and I am sure the fruit flies agree.

        • 90Lew90

          I’m going to part by saying I find you risible. I really don’t have anything else left to say. I can’t quite express my astonishment at how deluded you and your ilk allow yourselves to become. It digusts me. Ignoramus. You collude in your own ignorance and the spreading of it. It’s self-serving, cowardly and disgusting.

        • JohnH2

          “Ignoramus”

          I am sorry that me dealing with issues that make you uncomfortable causes you to resort to ad hominem.

        • hector_jones

          It’s your stupidity, dishonesty and irrationality that Lew is uncomfortable with. But if you feel the need to believe otherwise, that’s only to be expected.

        • JohnH2

          Prove stupidity or irrationality; I am not being dishonest.

        • hector_jones

          I think at times you’ve displayed all three qualities, but mostly irrationality. I think your claim that your support for God’s murders isn’t moral relativism is dishonest.

        • JohnH2

          It isn’t, there is a right and wrong which given all relevant knowledge all beings would agree on the right or wrong action if placed in the same situation.

        • hector_jones

          But your system is designed such that you will always find a way to let God off the hook while condemning Hitler for the very same actions, i.e. killing a whole bunch of people who make them angry. You’ve admitted that you don’t know what god’s reasons are for doing this, and they could be bad reasons – just like Hitler. But you condemn Hitler and not God. You even say that it might have been better if Hitler had killed his own children? Frankly I don’t really know what you were getting at with that reference.

          So you give your god the benefit of the doubt because he’s god. Your belief system says that no one else but god can be god anyway so none of us could ever be placed in the same situation as him anyway. No matter what, God gets to commit genocide and Hitler does not.

        • JohnH2

          God gets to kill everyone, while for a mortal killing anyone is wrong.

          Actually my belief system already has set up a clear Heir. and others.

          No, I am saying that Hitler was not sending his children to the death camps, where as God was sending His children to a virtually guaranteed long term separation and suffering.

        • hector_jones

          No, I am saying that Hitler was not sending his children to the death camps, where as God was sending His children to a virtually guaranteed
          long term separation and suffering.

          I’m sorry but I just cannot wrap my head around what this is supposed to mean or how it defends God over Hitler.

        • JohnH2
        • Pofarmer

          I think I was wrong about Mormons. I now think they are probably crazier than Catholics.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it’s indirectly comforting, that a bunch of primates bumbling their way into a New-Time Revised Enhanced Improved Religion can be more or less just as absurd about it after nearly two millennia of incremental advances in the collective learnin’.

        • Susan
        • MNb

          “God gets to kill everyone, while for a mortal killing anyone is wrong.”
          An excellent example of moral relativism.

        • Kodie

          We decided that you do think god’s a dick too, but you are ok with it, and you wouldn’t put it in those terms. This is the fault of religion and your wrecked moral compass. The cat always lands on its feet, god is a good guy with good reasons you don’t mind.

          Without a deity to give these shitty rationales for, we can generally accept that bad things happen, and people die. With a god in charge, it’s not that easy, and another part of the problem is the claim that it’s not meant to be easy – to come to terms and accept god’s ways, to believe he has our best interests at heart, really, truly, no matter what happens. When humans act the way god is described to have acted, when humans give excuses for these actions, such as “I have my reasons and I don’t have to tell you, but I promise if you stay on my side, we’ll have a lot of fun later,” you’d call that a toxic and abusive relationship.

          So when god does things, it’s because he’s god and we’re not to question him, and believe every promise that he makes for later, and we don’t understand because we don’t try to understand? If, for example, I started defending Hitler, you know, he had some good reasons. I don’t know them, but he wouldn’t kill 11 million people without a pretty good reason, would he? Everybody dies, so what’s wrong with that if one guy takes it on himself to create a systematic way of doing that in a short period of time. He certainly was efficient, you can’t say he wasn’t. Just looking for positive qualities… most normal socialized empathic humans would have sharp criticism for me, if not beat the living shit out of me on sight.

        • JohnH2

          Hitler is not responsible for everyones death, God already is.

          The world is as it is, bad things happen, people die; and God exists and is good. For those of us living we are able to experience the “Fun” now, despite whatever else we may be passing through as well.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah see I can’t let your god totally off the hook for this while condemning Hitler. I condemn both. Given the difference in power and knowledge attributed to your god vs Hitler, I find your god even worse. But in the end I reserve more condemnation for Hitler for one simple reason – Hitler was real, and your god isn’t. For your defence of this god of yours, however, I blame you.

        • JohnH2

          Death is a part of life, You condemnation of God is a condemnation of the world as it is, you will die, we all will die, and if you can consider even in hypothetical the existence of Supreme Being, then that being is of necessity responsible for every death that happens; He notices the sparrows fall.

        • hector_jones

          No my condemnation of God is not a condemnation of the world as it is because the world as it is does not include God.

        • Kodie

          It doesn’t really help to know this is part of someone’s plan. If you already believe in a god and don’t know an answer, him having any kind of plan may be something you just have to accept as the best answer you’ll get. But accepting that bad things happen isn’t the same thing as accepting this is just what god wanted to happen.

        • JohnH2

          “just what god wanted to happen.”

          Wanted is going too far in many cases, allowed is correct.

        • hector_jones

          There’s no arguable distinction between ‘wanted’ and ‘allowed’ when the being in question is omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent. It is all ‘God’s Will’.

        • Kodie

          It’s pretty hard to reconcile “plan” with “allowed”. If you argue that he’s fixing all the variables so everyone gets whatever outcome he decides for them, then his hand is in it. Let’s do a human scenario – I’ve created a Rube Goldberg machine to make me a bowl of cereal. So that was my plan, to have a bowl of cereal, and now I want a bowl of cereal, and trigger the machine. It worked until it got to the part where instead of putting the bowl in place, it dropped and broke the bowl, so the cereal poured on the table over the shards of my broken bowl, and there the milk went as well. I didn’t plan for that to happen, I allowed that to happen because I didn’t know whether it would work as I designed it to work. We presume (?) that god has the omniscience to foresee that would happen and the goodness to know that the model was a failure and redo it until it worked correctly. He’s not a schmo like me, without knowledge. I wouldn’t have designed a machine to break my bowl and make a mess in the kitchen. If he has plans, then he planned for and wants what happens to happen, or no knowledge to know what will happen.

          Or this is some kind of martyr business, where millions of people have to die horrifically in order for his actual goal to be met successfully, in which case, why is Hitler evil? Did Hitler get in the way of god’s plan or did god not count on the variable of Hitler? Or did god place him in time and place to perpetrate a massive genocide in order to lead to some greater goal of goodness that’s unknowable to us mortals?

          Given the god you describe, it’s hard to see where god didn’t see Hitler coming (allowed), or didn’t give Hitler a bonus when he got to heaven for making what was supposed to happen happen.

        • InDogITrust

          Because eventually all humans die, it’s ok for God to cause genocide?

        • JohnH2

          Sure, put crudely and ignoring a lot, yes.

        • Kodie

          I think god’s a big fan of genocide. Maybe we’re making him angry by not killing enough people at once, and that’s why he has the occasional devastating tsunami or earthquake or hurricane.

        • 90Lew90

          Ah yes. Your “jealous god”. He didn’t weep because he killed them, he wept because they didn’t worship him. As the wife-beater often says: “Look what you made me do!”

          “34 And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them.

          35 Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.

          36 Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren.

          37 But behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?”

          Now I know where the Scooby Do writers got it from. You’re deranged if you believe this stuff. Never mind that your god wept, not out of compassion, but possibly at his own horribleness for having killed his own creatures who had the temerity to not “know” him, what about the glory he took in slaying the people who were manifestly not on his side? I’m sorry, but this passage passes no muster. Do you have any idea how much blood-lust the book you’re waving around has begotten? Idiot.

        • JohnH2

          Orthopraxy is the important point in Mormon theology, not Orthodoxy. Whether they knew or did not know God isn’t really relevant.

          I believe something close to 150 people have died with the book I am waving around as a potential motivating cause.

        • 90Lew90

          Isn’t that 150 too many, given that it’s bullshit? You seem to be falling on the horns of the Euthyphro dilemma. Is a thing good because the gods will it, or is it good in itself. You appear to sway for the former, in which case if “it is written” that God favours people who kill and eat babies, then that is good. If the idea repulses you, then “good” must exist independently of God. This is a problem for you, not me. And all you come up with is obfuscation and obscurantism in response.

        • JohnH2

          No, it is the latter, things are good in themselves.

        • 90Lew90

          Well then. All that is good cannot come from your god. Doesn’t that make you a heretic?

        • JohnH2

          No.

        • 90Lew90

          I’m afraid it does. Good luck in Hell. (You know how angry your petulent god becomes with hapless people who get it wrong.)

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

          Who were the 150? Missionaries?

        • JohnH2

          Referring to MMM plus I think there were a few additional deaths on the Missouri side of the Missouri-Mormon “War”/Extermination order. My wording may not have been clear enough on that, but the people of Missouri, Illinois, the US government, and so forth were killing Mormons because they disagreed with that text (among others) not because they believed in it.

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

          Huh?? Mountain Meadows was Mormons killing Mormons! That doesn’t put the leadership of your church in a very good light.

          I was expecting missionary martyrs.

        • JohnH2

          Think you typed Mormon too many times in that response.

          Why does putting the leadership of my church in a good light matter?

          I didn’t take the comment as being about Mormons that died for their faith but about bloodshed that Mormons caused.

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

          Wasn’t it Mormons killing Mormons?

          The current church is built on the past church, which includes its previous leadership. I suppose you could wriggle out of it by saying that no Prophet was involved with the massacre. I don’t know the details of this event.

        • JohnH2

          Mormons killing settlers from back east who were not Mormons.

          The Prophet was not directly invovled in the massacre though his propaganda efforts for the Mormon-Utah War can be considered as being partially responsible for it, as well deaths from water that the settlers had camped by, and boasts by the settlers about what they had done to Mormons in Missouri (which was moronic (and false) on their part but in no way justified the massacre).

        • InDogITrust

          So, when the options are: 1) let the unrighteous and unfaithful just continue on with their unrighteous and unfaithful lives, or 2) kill them all, the BEST alternative is 2?

          They weren’t worshipping God according to what he considered his due so it was better to kill them? You realize that’s basically the same logic that Elliot Rodger used?

          “Mass murder in Rodger’s writings is explained as the women were stuckup and unappreciative and so couldn’t live with those other men because they would have sex with them as opposed to having sex with Rodger.”

        • JohnH2

          The options are not as you put them, they are 1.) Continue sending your children down to where they only really have the option of being unrighteous and unfaithful or 2.) Kill all the unrighteous and unfaithful, placing them in a position so that they can repent, and start over so that those born afterwards have real choices.

          Again, for God, everyone dies. Elliot Rodgers is not the Eternal Ruler of the Universe. I am positive that you allow that a government going to war is potentially a good moral thing to do.

        • 90Lew90

          GUFFAW! “Real choices?” GUFFAW!!!!

        • hector_jones

          By your logic what Elliot Rodgers did would have been perfectly fine if he had been the Eternal Ruler of the Universe. This is moral relativism, something which christians claim to hate and of which they love to accuse atheists.

        • JohnH2

          If Elliot Rodgers was placed in the position of God with the same knowledge as God then what is moral for God would be moral for Elliot Rodgers. If God were placed in the position of Elliot Rodgers what is moral for Elliot Rodgers would be moral for God, which is not killing people.

        • MNb

          So morals for god are not the same as morals for ER. That’s the very definition of moral relativism.

        • JohnH2

          Any being placed in the same position as any other being with the same knowledge as that being would have the same moral choices, what is right and wrong would be the same.

        • MNb

          And your god is placed in a different position, hence moral relativism.
          Thanks.

        • JohnH2

          Rather that you don’t understand objective morality to begin with if you say that. Adultery is wrong while sleeping with your spouse is generally not.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          I love you, John.
          Hector formulated it in another way:

          “But shitty, petty reasons are ok for you when they are God’s reasons and not Elliot Rodger’s reasons.”
          Because different (sleeping? sex?) position.
          Great.

        • hector_jones

          What your reasoning also leads to is the conclusion that what Hitler did to the Jews might have been perfectly OK because he might have had good reasons for it. If he kept his reasons to himself, who are you to say that they weren’t good?

        • JohnH2

          I am sure that Hitler thought his reasons to be good, probably. That doesn’t mean that they were. Given his publicly stated reasons and his actions and the results of his actions it is safe to say that he did not have good reasons for what he did and was in fact evil.

        • hector_jones

          Whether Hitler thought his reasons were good or not is beside the point. His actions and the results of his actions? He killed a whole bunch of people, just like God. There’s no relevant difference there, John.

          His publicly stated reasons were that the Jews were out to destroy him and his people, and he had to get them first before it was too late. What better reason did he need? Is that a worse reason than god gave in the passage you cited?

          I’m sorry John but you really are just saying that the only difference between the two cases is that one set of murders was ordered by Hitler and the other set ordered by God. So God being God and Hitler being Hitler makes one OK and the other Bad. Reasons have nothing to do with it.

        • JohnH2

          The main difference is that God “kills” everyone equally where Hitler killed only those he chose to kill.

          Yes, that is a worse reason than the passage I cited as Hitler was not sending his own children to the death camps or casting them off forever by putting them in a situation where the Jews weren’t killed. God would have been unjustly sending His children to a place where they would have suffered more than necessary due to their actions caused by the culture that they grew up in.

        • hector_jones

          Jesus, John, is someone holding a gun to your head and forcing you to type this? Blink if the answer is yes and we’ll try to send help.

        • JohnH2

          No, no one is forcing me to type this, I am honestly trying to address the issues and I don’t believe in avoiding the issue because it is not usually discussed or is uncomfortable to think about.

        • hector_jones

          I really don’t know what to make of you John. But I will gladly admit that you seem to be doing your best not to avoid the issues. Though I find many of your views disturbing and appalling, I think you are trying hard to be honest most of the time. It’s your views and not your personality I have a problem with. With Cody, it’s both.

        • Kodie

          Is this not uncomfortable for you to think about?

        • JohnH2

          It is more uncomfortable to not think about it. To be honest in life death must be considered, even or especially death that comes suddenly and out of time. To be honest in religion death must be placed as God’s responsibility, especially those most tragic and unjust.

        • hector_jones

          So in a way God is responsible for the very same murders that Hitler is or Elliot Rodgers is. But Hitler and Rodgers are evil, while God is good. For the very same crime! Amazing.

        • JohnH2

          Yes, in some sense God is responsible: He allowed Hitler and Rodgers to do the evil. To have prevented that would have been to either ‘punish’ Hitler and Rodgers for the evil they would have committed or to in a sense completely destroy Hitler and Rodgers by removing their ability to make moral choices. Hitler and Rodgers victims though die as everyone else does and have their lives cut short but their moral choices are not impeded, it is a crime which Hitler and Rodgers will answer for.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you’re getting it. Preventing them from murdering doesn’t have to involve, like, a stuck trigger, or freezing or confining them as in some Twilight Zone scenario. Your claim is that god works on all these variables seamlessly in a way undetectable from natural probability.

        • MNb

          Well, you do believe in afterlife, don’t you?

          http://www.mormon.org/beliefs/plan-of-salvation?CID=99100110&s_kwcid=AL!3737!3!40859508382!p!!g!!mormon%20heaven&ef_id=UmQjkAAABHrowSil:20140530094236:s

          How will it be like there? Will there be evil in afterlife? Yes? Then there is no point in getting there. No? Then my question is if you will have free will in afterlife as well. No? Then what’s the fuzz about “removing our ability to make moral choice” during Earthly life? Yes? Then it’s possible in afterlife to combine absence of evil and having free will. Why not during Earthly Life?
          In all cases your god is s s**ker.

          Not to mention that you claim that your god is omniscient and omnipotent. So he knows right now that you deserve a glorious afterlife and not me. He could send you there right now and here, while sending me into oblivion, into nothingness (that would be very nice of him). Why doesn’t he do that?
          Because he is a double s**ker.

        • Kodie

          Figuring out ways that god comes out fresh as a daisy must keep you up at night.

        • Kodie

          He doesn’t kill everyone equally. Everyone dies does not mean it’s equal.

        • JohnH2

          Not following, Everyone dies and God is nearly equally responsible for all deaths, how is that not killing everyone equally?

        • hector_jones

          Because he kills some people horribly, while others die peacefully in their sleep. He kills some young, while others he kills old. This isn’t at all equal.

        • Kodie

          As hector says; I would also use examples of horrible deaths from a kidnap-rape-murder-dismemberment, buried alive in earthquake rubble, trapped in a fire, etc. These are, to a person without god, part of the violent world we contend with, but to a person who believes in god, these are part of god’s plan for these individuals, and equal to a peaceful, painless death.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          What is death to God anyway? “It’s time for you to have your consciousness separated from your body, making your body a pointless sack of flesh because you can apparently still experience everything you normally do without it.” And this act of separating flesh and consciousness was something morally reprehensible when Hitler did it to millions of Jews why exactly? Sure you get “separated” from your loved ones but they’ll die eventually too! So the separation is nothing compared to eternity.

        • JohnH2

          The body is much more valuable than that and we will all get resurrected because we need our bodies to do and experience everything that we do now.

        • CodyGirl824

          This is unbelievable! You compare God to Hitler. You are off your rocket, hector. Get some help!

        • hector_jones

          Read the bible, Jenna, you shitforbrains imbecile.

        • JohnH2

          Given the subject matter the Hitler comparison isn’t out of place; On this point I don’t think you are actually understanding or addressing what I am saying very effectively, but given what it being dealt with that is entirely understandable and Godwin’s law doesn’t apply.

        • Kodie

          It’s curious that you didn’t correct Jenna, but Hector. We know it’s a fair comparison.

        • JohnH2

          Hector had already responded, I was writing to codygirl when hector responded.

        • Kodie

          But you didn’t click “reply” on Jenna’s post, you clicked reply as if you were responding to what hector said.

        • Kodie

          This is how her moral compass has been so badly destroyed. Good can’t be bad, how dare you!

        • hector_jones

          I must be off my rocket.

        • Kodie

          Did someone say something wrong? What was it?

        • Kodie

          But see, god has the authority to smash me, whereas … I mean it works like this – if you can somehow appeal to Hitler from inside a camp, he might set you free, and you do whatever he says because otherwise, back in you go. God’s a lot like that.

        • hector_jones

          And worse, a lot of people actually voted for Hitler and gave him authority. No one ever voted for God. He just appointed himself.

        • JohnH2

          That isn’t what my faith believes at all.

        • hector_jones

          Oh right. You made up a council or something that gave him authority? I forget now, please tell us.

        • JohnH2

          We all were on that council.

        • hector_jones

          We who? I wasn’t there.

        • hector_jones

          I also noted that John skirted around the problem of what if Hitler had never stated his reasons for killing the Jews. John’s reasoning tells me that if Hitler had been more cagey about his views on the Jews, John would logically be forced to give Hitler the benefit of the moral doubt, just like he gives his god.

        • Pofarmer

          Hitler was pretty much in line with Luther and supported by the Catholics. He couldn’t have gotten away with what he did to the Jews if there wasn’t some sort of underlying belief.

        • JohnH2

          Accurate.

        • JohnH2

          A mortal killing another is wrong. There can be justifications for doing so but the mass slaughter of innocents by a mortal is not one that does have any justification and is evil.

        • hector_jones

          Moral relativism

        • JohnH2

          A soldier defending his home and country is killing another mortal and is (or may be) justified in doing so, this is not moral relativism.

        • hector_jones

          You’re just saying that reasons have nothing to do with it. God vs Man is the distinction. God can kill as many people as he wants because he’s God, and the rest of us can’t, (though we can kill in self defence, which no one here is denying anyway).

        • JohnH2

          What part of Everyone Dies is unclear?

          Meaning God ‘kills’ everyone, it is part of the job description.

        • hector_jones

          No part. But that doesn’t get a mass murderer off the moral hook. Worse, it’s the mass murderer himself who has decided that everyone dies. Would Hitler or Elliott Rodgers have been less blame worthy if they decided to kill every living person on the face of the earth?

        • Kodie

          That makes Hitler god’s hero, I think.

        • Kodie

          Do as I say, not as I do.

        • JohnH2

          When/if you ever reach God’s position then you should do as He does.

        • Kodie

          So it’s a matter of authority to do as you please, even if those reasons aren’t what we would determine as “good”, right?

        • JohnH2

          No, it is a matter of what is right and wrong and that if you had the same knowledge as God then you would determine what is right the same as Him. As with a ruler of a country who orders wars, they can be morally justified but the ruler is still responsible for the deaths.

        • Kodie

          That doesn’t really solve any issues or describe a good morally justified god. It’s still supposing there is a god and then weaving a story to justify calling him good.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          You do realize that the “knowledge” of God is not something he discovers but that he creates? For instance, God doesn’t just know that e=mc^2, but that he made it so and can change it whenever he wants (because he’s omnipotent). Likewise, God knows all the results of ever action he could take as well as not being bound by any rules. For example, God can breathe fire underwater because he can just rewrite physics on a whim.

          Given that, the concept of “necessity” is insignificant to God. God doesn’t need to do X to achieve Y because he’s omnipotent. He doesn’t need to be above water to make fire.
          What I’m getting at is that God doesn’t need to kill anyone in order to achieve anything. No amount of knowledge would change this fact considering that God can just change what he “knows” (in refutation to your argument that God’s vastly greater knowledge means anything he does is good). This makes any act of genocide on God’s part an exercise in pointless harm when whatever he’s trying to achieve with genocide could be done gently.

        • JohnH2

          That isn’t anything like what God is like; God can’t change the laws of nature as they and we are co-eternal with God.

        • hector_jones

          So respect the office, not the deity?

        • JohnH2

          Hopefully both.

        • hector_jones

          How many different individuals have held this office? Do they have names?

        • JohnH2

          Ignoring a lot, one for this world, at least one for a prior, implication is uncountably infinite prior.

        • hector_jones

          Just count them up for me and give me the number. Are you saying it’s infinite? How long has the current one held the office? Since the creation of this ‘world’? What’s his name? By ‘world’ do you mean this planet or the universe? Are you saying some of these Gods are ruling right now in other worlds? If so I’m only interested in the ones in whose jurisdiction you and I live. How many of those have there been and what are their names?

          If the names are too numerous, just give me a couple of the names of the more noteworthy ones, such as the ones who did the best public works or defeated the nastiest enemies.

        • JohnH2

          The implication is infinite.

          For eternity.

          Elohim.

          Universe. (being what we experience not the full meaning of Universe)

          Yes.

          1 Godhead, 3 Gods: Elohim (God the Father), Jehovah (Jesus Christ), The Holy Ghost (name unknown). Actually assuming Elohim refers just to God the Father is inaccurate there is also Heavenly Mother, but very little is known about Her.

        • hector_jones

          Ok so Elohim rules the universe and he has done so and will do so for eternity? Which renders this comment of yours to Kodie

          When/if you ever reach God’s position then you should do as He does.

          utterly meaningless.

        • Kodie
        • JohnH2

          Except it doesn’t, as there are other ‘universes’ (to abuse the term as we are) to which there are other Gods and we will become part of that.

        • hector_jones

          Oh I see then. Kodie could one day get the job of ‘God’ in her own universe. And then she’ll be able to understand the reasons for things that she currently can’t understand, such as why it’s ok to commit genocide.

        • JohnH2

          With objection to your wording, and some theological qualifications which on this point don’t I think substantially change what you are saying, as well as her just like anyone else having to be married, yes.

        • hector_jones

          “Heavenly Mother, but very little is known about Her.”

          She’s probably busy in the kitchen.

        • Pofarmer

          Less is known about the heavenly mother than those other dudes. Are we going deeply into negative territory?

        • JohnH2

          We are probably too much in love with the idea of a divine steam engine from greek metaphysics and phallic worship to be willing to accept much of anything about Her.

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

          Heavenly Mother = Asherah?

        • wtfwjtd

          Interesting, but Elohim didn’t seem to much care for her, at least later. Family quarrel, perhaps?

        • Greg G.

          Asherah got cakes and wine as offerings while Elohim got overdone barbecue and burnt grains. He responded as any two year old human or a capuchin monkey would in that situation.

        • wtfwjtd

          No wonder he was always in such a grumpy mood! But wasn’t he just getting what he asked for?

        • Greg G.

          Well, if you call incorporating that into their laws “asking for it”. Theres Genesis 8:20-21, Exodus 29:15-41, Leviticus 1:1-17, and Leviticus 2:1-10 where he demands it but then there’s Isaiah 1:11:

          What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
          says the Lord;
          I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
            and the fat of fed beasts;
          I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
            or of lambs, or of goats.

          He decided he prefers the smell of burnt souls better.

        • Pofarmer

          So I asked Dr. Ehrman a couple questions on oral traditions in the Gospels. The exchange went like this.

          Me.

          “So is there anything to, in your opinion, the thought that Mark was
          pretty much a Greek literary creation, possibly/probably based very
          loosely on some vague oral tradition, or possibly on the writings of
          Paul? After all, the Gospel of Mark was said to ne written in Rome,
          correct? How easy/hard would it have nee for a messianic oral tradition
          to be transferred from Ancient Palestine to Ancient Rome in some
          recognizable form? It just seems like so much of the synoptics rely on
          the Septuagint instead of the torah, and have Greek literary forms, that
          I think it would be awfully hard to say what part of some obscure oral
          tradition played into it.”

          Dr. Ehrman.

          “Mark can’t be “based on” Paul because virtually none of Mark’s stories
          can be found in Paul. My sense it that it is not based on vague
          tradition but on lots of available orla traditoins, and that the vast
          majority of its stories were not made up by the author himself.”

          Me.

          “I suppose what I mean by “based on” is that it seems like the Gospel of
          Mark fleshes out the divine Jesus that appeared to Paul. How would you
          determine if the stories were the Authors or belonged to a previous
          tradition, especially given the nature of the stories?”

          Dr. Ehrman

          “It’s very difficult! One looks to see if the stories are multiply
          attested. And if they contain any vocabulary, stylistic features, and
          themes otherwise foreign to the author who preserves them. And whether
          they presuppose a different setting from that which appears to be the
          author’s own. And so on.”

          So, it looks to me like, we’re back to the same murky criteria when we don’t have any corroborating sources.

        • Greg G.

          1 Corinthians 7:10-12
          10 To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) –and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

          Paul seems to be trying to explain Deuteronomy 24:1-4 to Greeks who were accustomed to women divorcing husbands as Deuteronomy has no provision for that.

          Mark 10:11-12
          11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

          Mark has Jesus saying the same thing to the disciples but with them being Jews, a wife divorcing her husband isn’t possible. It makes no sense there. Matthew 5:31-32 and Luke 16:18 both drop that line in the parallel passages.
          It seems more likely that Mark was putting Paul’s words into his Jesus puppet.

          In Galatians 2, Peter and Paul argue. Mark 7:1-23 has a similar argument between Jesus and the Pharisees. But Paul and Jesus are supporting the same position. If Mark had actually happened, Peter would have agreed with Paul as he would have been there to hear Jesus. Mark 7:15, 18-19 sounds like Romans 14:14, 20 and Gospel of Thomas 14c: “…For what goes into your mouth will not defile you, but that which issues from your mouth – it is that which will defile you.” I suspect that this saying from the Gospel of Thomas came from Romans. Mark 7:21-23 is like Romans 1:24-27 and 1:29-31, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21 but all could come from Wisdom of Solomon 14:24-27. Mark 2:16-17 has Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors as opposed to Galatians 2:11-12where Peter separated himself from eating with the Gentiles when the men came from James.

          “Abba, Father” is a strange phrase with the same meaning spoken in two different languages, sort of like Sahara Desert. Paul uses it in Galatians 4:6 as coming from the Spirit and in Romans 8:15 as from a person who received a spirit. Mark uses the phrase in Mark 14:36 as the opening of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. In Mark, it seems to explain that “Abba” is Aramaic for “Father” to be in conjunction with Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52 which explains that “bar” is Aramaic for “son of”. When the readers are introduced to Barrabbas in Mark 15:7, they should recognize the scapegoat scenario of two men called “Son of the Father”.

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

          Huh? The god of the Old Testament was an asshole. I certainly won’t be following his example.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know how you can know that. His reasons were good enough to persuade millions of people to carry out his plans and call it good. I don’t know enough about it to do anything other than guess the issue might have been one of threat, i.e., if you don’t agree with me, Hitler, I will also put you in a gas chamber. People who don’t want to go in a gas chamber might do anything in that case. As long as they’re not one of the defined groups to be rounded up, they don’t have to stand on principle.

          Sounds like Christianity.

        • JohnH2

          Theology had a huge part to play in why people went along with Hitler, as did “scientific” theories such as social darwinism.

        • Kodie

          So people can believe something that’s wrong and feel conviction that it is right and what god wants them to do.

        • JohnH2

          I question the feeling conviction that it is right, but otherwise yes.

        • Kodie

          They’re as certain as you are, and their feelings come from the same place. Where do you get the conviction you’re right about right and wrong?

        • Kodie

          Like how marital rape is ok because you’re married. Basically that’s what you’re saying.

        • JohnH2

          “generally” <– this word has a meaning.

        • Kodie

          My remark wasn’t in reference to a person having sex with their spouse but to draw a parallel with your rationalization.

        • Pofarmer

          Is Adultery wrong if all parties involved agree that it’s O.k?

        • JohnH2

          All sexual relations outside of marriage are wrong regardless of the desires of the parties involved.

        • Pofarmer

          What about polygamy?

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

          And there’s the problem. When “wrong” is unhooked from what causes harm, things begin to make no sense.

          An imaginary being getting his feelings hurt doesn’t count.

        • wtfwjtd

          “When “wrong” is unhooked from what causes harm, things begin to make no sense.”

          Yep, when this happens the definition of “wrong” starts sounding mighty arbitrary.

        • Kodie

          So god has his mysterious unknowable good reasons.

        • hector_jones

          How do you know that Elliot Rodgers didn’t have some special knowledge that you lack that made what he did right?

        • JohnH2

          If you had said that Elliot Rodgers had a mental deficiency that makes him not responsible for his actions I could theoretically buy that, at least somewhat. Given what Elliot Rodgers said and what he wanted from those he killed, I really think both possibilities are out of the question.

        • hector_jones

          What Elliot Rodgers said and what he wanted was a lot like what your god says and wants from human beings. Eerily so. All you’ve got is moral relativism – It’s OK for god to be a sadistic mass murderer because he’s the Eternal Ruler of the Universe. God’s reasons don’t even matter to you.

        • JohnH2

          It isn’t moral relativism, but rather a form of objective morality.

          God is not sadistic and everyone already dies; God’s reasons do matter but your understanding of Christianity doesn’t appear to be helping you understand how I see His reasons as it is very different.

        • hector_jones

          You don’t even know what his reasons are. He’s your god, and Elliot Rodgers isn’t, and that’s reason enough for you, no questions asked.

        • JohnH2

          If you say so, I am impressed at your ability to tell me what I believe and think; where ever would I be with out you? (sarcasm if you can’t tell)

        • hector_jones

          Oh so you are the one and only christian alive who can tell me what god’s reasons are for the things he does? Do tell, I’m listening ….

        • JohnH2

          No, I am the one and only person who can tell you what I believe and think; and I already gave you the scripture reference on God’s reasoning which I have already stated that you don’t understand as I do as you don’t understand all of the background.

        • hector_jones

          The scripture reference you gave tells me that god has shitty, petty reasons for killing people. But shitty, petty reasons are ok for you when they are God’s reasons and not Elliot Rodger’s reasons.

        • hector_jones

          Let me ask you this – could God ever have a bad reason to commit a mass murder?

        • JohnH2

          Yes, He could.

        • hector_jones

          Ok then. Do you know God’s reasons for every single mass murder he has committed?

        • JohnH2

          I know the reason for death generally and the mass ordering of deaths in a few particular cases.

        • hector_jones

          I’ll take that as a “why no, Hector, I do not know God’s reasons for every single mass murder he has committed.’

          So now my question to you is, if you don’t know God’s reasons for every mass murder, and you concede that he could have bad reasons, does the admitted possibility that your god has committed mass murder for bad reasons not cause you any concern? If not, why not?

        • JohnH2

          So everyone dies. There are good reasons that everyone dies. The order in which people die can be good or bad. I do not know the reason for the ordering of when each person dies, nor do I have all relevant knowledge. I know that if God were to do what is bad then He would cease to be God. In other areas I have proven His faithfulness and goodness. I must therefore assume His faithfulness in this area until such time as I am given all relevant knowledge. The God in charge of such things has Himself come down and suffered all that we suffer and suffered everything for us, as well as death which I have not yet passed through, He also resurrected and promises that everyone will live again. I therefore know that He understands my point of view and trust that when He says it is good that it is good.

        • hector_jones

          You say If god were to do bad, then he would no longer be god. You also admit he could do bad. You assume that he does not because you haven’t caught him yet (even though you cited a scriptural passage that showed him doing bad). Hence, in the end you assume that god is god, you do not know it. Moreover, you make this assumption even though you have evidence that he is not god, because he has done bad.

          I submit that the reason he knows your point of view is because he is just a product of your imagination. Your own logic is telling you this, but for some reason you don’t want to see it.

        • JohnH2

          He knows my point of view because He came down and suffered through all things, descending below all things so that He might be in all things the light of truth. Already covered that, keep up.

        • hector_jones

          And you totally ignored the entire first paragraph of my comment. Keep that in mind the next time you complain about me not addressing one of your points.

        • JohnH2

          I am sorry, I haven’t responded to it yet but I intend to.

        • JohnH2

          The passage isn’t Biblical but from the Pearl of Great Price; it doesn’t show God doing “bad’ but rather God doing good. If you note the suffering that God is referring to is primarily that after death, God is sad that His children will already suffer and wants to limit the number of those suffering and their suffering, as well as provides a way for them out of suffering. They have done wrong, but their parents are responsible for more of it then them.

          I am in a position to judge only what Jesus Christ, who is a member of the Godhead, did while alive, and I do not see where He did bad, I realize that I only have limited and imperfect knowledge of everything that He did, but I know that He did take what I have done wrong and made it so that I am able to be perfected, He paid the price of my wrong doings so that I do not have to experience the full weight of my removing myself further from God, if I seek to change my ways and return to God.

          The works of God are not destroyed so God remains God, I have the evidence of the fulfilling of the covenants that He has made with the Jews as well as the evidence in my own life so I know Him to still be God.

        • hector_jones

          No I’m talking about the passage you cited from Moses, where god felt rejected, cried, then killed a bunch of people because he was angry. A passage which you thoroughly misrepresented, by the way, as an example of god weeping afterwards because he felt bad for having killed a bunch of people.

        • Pofarmer

          Have you noticed that JohnH2’s definition of God is indistinguishable from no God?

        • JohnH2

          I am not sure what you mean by this. Given that I believe in an active God that calls prophets, is gathering Israel, and so forth my idea of God is highly distinguishable from no God.

        • Pofarmer

          But then you equivocate to “Well, God must let this or that bad thing happen, because, God.” and “Good things do come through human action.” Your idea of God might be distinguishable, but in practice it’s not.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          “God…is gathering Israel…” You mean PEOPLE are GOING to Israel which PEOPLE established in order to fulfill a prophecy they already knew about for so long which makes it self-fulfilling? Not to mention that they might have just made up the prophecy as being from their god when it was really just something they were trying to achieve themselves.

          That’s like saying that God has prophesied that I will have lobster I’ve always wanted to try and that God fulfilled it by me going to a restaurant and ordering it of my own volition with clear knowledge of this “prophecy”.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah I noticed that the other day. He imagines God as hiding his works behind the works of actual human beings. It’s almost as if Mormon God is a reverse Santa Claus. Mormon Santa lets your parents buy the gifts, and they even get to put ‘From Mom & Dad’ on them. Heck you even get to go to the store with them when they buy them, and watch them wrap them and put them under the tree. But when you open them up on Xmas morning you shout ‘thanks Santa!’ and that way you know Santa is real.

        • TheNuszAbides

          except for the really rather fascinating part about “if He does something Wrong He’ll no longer be God” … i’m guessing then someone else will be promoted? another Council is convened? is there always a tie-breaker?

        • JohnH2

          Moses is not a book in the Bible.

        • hector_jones

          Ah ok so we are talking about the same passage then. I thought you meant it was from one of the Books of Moses. It’s from the Pearl of Great Price? ok.

        • JohnH2

          Yes, and I may have in fact misrepresented the passage some their death is part of it though.

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

          Where it’s from isn’t the issue, is it? You brought up the Book of Moses.

        • hector_jones

          It’s not an issue to me. He was asked for an example of God showing remorse for killing people and thoroughly botched it by giving an example of God doing the exact opposite. That was good enough for me.

        • Pofarmer

          “In other areas I have proven His faithfulness and goodness.”

          How so?

        • Kodie

          That’s the worst thing theism does – accept how much of a bratty murderous child god is and call him good. You’re afraid to call him bad. You’re trained not to hold it against him because if you look the other way, you’re promised rewards when you die.

        • InDogITrust

          Governments’ going to war? Oopsies! I’m sure it was just an accident that you knocked the goalposts way over there; let’s put them back where they started:

          So God’s “children” were unrighteous and unfaithful, so what? Why was it not an option to let them just continue being unrighteous and unfaithful? Why was it not possible for God to just forgive and just let his children be?
          It’s okay for God to kill people who don’t worship him because he’s God, but Elliot Rodgers, well he’s not, so he can’t?

          Do you realize that you are defending GENOCIDE? You are trying to justify GENOCIDE? You are saying that GENOCIDE is better than letting people not do exactly what an all powerful being wants them to?

        • JohnH2

          This life is not all there is. If we do not choose what we know to be right, which may or may not include worshiping God, then we will not be able to live with God again. God sending His children to a place where they do not have the option of choosing right would be for God to predestine them to failure, which would be unjust.

          Everyone already dies, changing when everyone dies is for God different from a people or person making a choice to kill people.

        • MNb

          “is for God different”
          Another way to define moral relativism.

        • InDogITrust

          “Knock-knock. Let me in so I can save you from what I’m going to do to you if you don’t let me in.”

          So God committed GENOCIDE to give people the option to chose to spend eternity with someone who commits GENOCIDE if people don’t worship him? Tell me again why Heaven is such a great place, spending eternity with the champion of GENOCIDE?

          Is that still how God works? That is, has God been behind all genocides after the Old Testament- the Holocaust, Armenia, Rwanda, the massacre of the First Nations, just to name a few? You see, if God isn’t still committing genocide, he’s apparently figured out it doesn’t work in which case the OT genocides were EVIL. If he is behind Holocaust, Armenia, Rwanda, the massacre of the First Nations, God is EVIL.

          Genocide is either good, bad, or neutral: You are saying that God’s committing GENOCIDE is not bad; therefore you think GENOCIDE is good or neutral.

          And you know what, I don’t think I want to continue talking to someone who thinks GENOCIDE is anything other than bad. Bye-bye.

        • JohnH2

          As I have repeatedly stated worshiping God is not the issue, and also everyone already dies. I am not sure what you don’t understand about either of those points.

          Given God is Omnipotent and Omniscient (for some value of both those terms) then clearly God must be responsible to some degree for everything that happens. Though, better to point out would be the Spanish Flu, Smallpox, Black Death, Earthquakes, Volcanos, so forth which don’t involve the choices of others to commit those acts.

          We should not kill other people and us choosing to kill masses of people for whatever reason is pretty much bad, though again war can potentially be justified and involves killing others. So Genocide is bad. For God everyone always dies and having the deaths occur all at once instead of spread out doesn’t change His moral responsibility, Him again being Omniscient and Omnipotent.

        • MNb

          Yeah, god’s moral responsibility is different from ours. I must compliment you John. Few people have been able to provide so many different definitions of moral relativity is such a short time as you this evening.

        • JohnH2

          Gah! Talk to a Catholic about these exact issues sometime.

        • MNb

          I will as soon as I get the chance, don’t worry.

        • Kodie

          When people die as a direct result of being targeted and rounded up because of the kind of people they are, I don’t think god can’t have a good enough reason. In every case that someone is murdered, we don’t give the murderer a good reason. I just saw Aaron Hernandez plead not guilty to two counts of murder among some other things, where apparently he was paranoid. They were looking at him funny so he followed them and later killed them. I also .. this is more trivial and light-hearted, but a few weeks ago, someone was pulled over for speeding, and his excuse was he had won a lottery prize so big he had to drive to the commission to redeem it, and the officer let him go. It’s novel compared to being late for work, but it’s not a good reason. I think that’s even more reason to give him a ticket, but I’m not a cop. Having this reported on the lighter portion of the news known as “fluff” does not make it an acceptable execution of justice, for the people who do obey the law, nor for the people who have to share the road with this maniac.

          In the vast scheme of things, having knowledge of all things, and potentially having a mind-blowing reason that will turn out to be acceptable is a really far-fetched cover story. If someone kills a bunch of people, they usually have what they consider a valid reason or else they wouldn’t have done it. Rarely are these things carried out by someone who knows they have shitty reasons. But we, the society they live in, do not have to accept their reasons. What makes you think if god knows all and must have good reasons that he can’t share with us now, that those reasons will be found acceptable to you later? Another option is that god is mentally incapacitated and does not know right from wrong, and can’t be held accountable for his actions.

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

          That was Richard Dawkins’ excuse for refusing to debate genocide apologist William Lane Craig.

        • InDogITrust

          “Excuse” or reason?

          For me, debating is either an attempt to convince the other party, or entertainment, and discussing morals with someone who thinks genocide is a viable option is futile and not entertaining.

        • JohnH2

          The logic requires a theodicy.

          A. God is Omnipotent and Omniscient. (true for any value of either term which still has the term have value)

          B1. Genocide happens,

          or better (per free will):

          B2. smallpox, black death, and other natural disasters and illnesses happen killing more people than any human caused genocide.

          C. Everyone dies.

          A and C: God desires everyone to die.

          A and B1: God permits the mass death of people.

          A and B2: God causes the mass death of people.

        • Ron

          Omniscience and omnipotence are mutually incompatible traits. If I know for certain that I’m going to have pizza for lunch tomorrow, then I’m powerless to change my lunch selection. And if I do decide to have chicken at the last minute, then I cannot be all-knowing.

        • MNb

          I make an exception for John this time, because he consistently argues against moral relativism by giving excellent definitions and examples of the concept. That’s highly entertaining indeed.

        • InDogITrust

          The display of moral relativism is certainly fascinating, and I now have a much better understanding of moral relativism thanks to John, but one must draw the line somewhere, and I just can’t bring myself to interact with someone who apparently thinks that Elliot Rodgers’s actions would have been morally justified if only Rodgers had been someone else.
          You have much higher tolerance for creepy than I have, so carry on!

        • hector_jones

          I’m not convinced that someone like Cody is a better person than John because she denies that her god has ever committed genocide while John does not. It’s right there in the OT. At least John is acknowledging that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and for that I give him credit. I don’t really know what arguments an honest believer can make other than John’s and still be honest and a believer. Cody just chucks honesty out the window.

          It doesn’t follow that John himself would ever commit genocide or condone it when committed by others. He doesn’t seem to me like the type of person who would. The real danger is that his arguments give moral cover for people who would commit genocide in the name of God, which to an atheist like me, is what all of God’s genocides really are.

        • Kodie

          It means he can justify it. He is certain that the examples we’ve shown him are evil and not something that god willed, but, like the rest of us, had no way to prevent from happening. He can justify genocide in theory, however, which means he’s persuadable to support an unjust cause by believing it to be just, just like the Nazis were.

        • hector_jones

          Oh I agree. If John doesn’t like a particular genocide he can just say it was a mortal killing mortals, so it’s wrong. If he approves, he can just say his god ordered it. But this is how all religious morality works in the end.

          When it comes to John personally, my money is on the former, he has enough personal integrity to condemn all acts of genocide outside his holy books as the product of mortals, hence wrong. Cody, I’m not so sure.

        • wtfwjtd

          Has there ever been a genocide committed anywhere in the history of mankind that wouldn’t be considered wrong by moral people? Isn’t it only religious people that think genocide is good?

        • Kodie

          I don’t want to get all PETA but it doesn’t seem to faze most people to commit extermination or participate as a consumer in mass slaughter of food animals at all. Right, these aren’t people. I eat meat, I kill bugs, I’m not right here standing for the rights of any animals. It’s just that when we see a problem, we kill it without any morality jarring us as to the extent of our power. I can have justifiable wrath over mosquitoes, ants, termites, mice, and fleas, and gleefully as I can, rid myself of the problem. I don’t offer them a chance at salvation, either. Some of you may pray to me, but I answer your prayers with a bug bomb or traps. Your sin is merely being a species having a natural behavior that destroys my comfort at home and I have the means to overpower you, and the human-centered superiority to do so without reservation. This seems to be similar to why god hates people, and we are deluded to think there’s some bargain we can strike to avoid being exterminated. Meanwhile, these animals are actually just living their lives and aren’t trying to affect my comfort at all.

          Again, I’m not saying it’s wrong to kill pests, but one ought to give it a little thought sometimes. Where genocide is committed, it is generally a factor of dehumanizing the target group first, equating people with some kind of pest that’s out to destroy our personal comfort. For example, let’s pretend for a moment that a certain group of humans were all intent on committing genocide. If we know this and prevent their genocide by rounding them up and systematically killing them first, would that be justified?

          Is it important, for example, to consider Hitler and his Nazis as human, always, or could we predict what they will do and prevent them from doing it by doing it to them first?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Is it important, for example, to consider Hitler and his Nazis as human, always, or could we predict what they will do and prevent them from doing it by doing it to them first?”

          More civilized people would try and stop them without killing them first, I think, and only use war as a last resort, and not the first thing. Sometimes it can be a tricky business, and there are always varying opinions on actual threats, and how far we need to go to stop them.

        • Kodie

          All you really need is the firm conviction you’re right, and you can organize an effort through persuasion, as we see on the news, appealing to people’s fears. We like to think we’re civilized enough to protest, but we aren’t in numbers enough to do so. After 9/11, fear of Muslims justified a war, by which I don’t mean it was justified, I just mean that the majority either justified it or took it laying down, it was going to happen and we could not stop it. People signed up join the cause in abundant numbers, and considered it largely un-American to oppose their efforts, their own personal reasons for going.

          Let’s not forget the Cold War, are you as old or older than I am? The Soviet Union was made out to be a fearsome threat, just like the US is to Muslim countries, and this justified a nuclear weapon program and ICBMs. A potential for nuclear holocaust less than 30 years ago, and as scary as it was, paranoia and distrust for Reds still linger. I don’t know exactly where I”m going with this, but I hardly think we’re settled into the ‘civilized’ phase yet. We didn’t even enter WW2 to bring down Hitler. It didn’t bother people enough to justify defeating the genocider, and we rounded up a lot of Japanese ourselves, because it must have seemed like a fine idea.

        • wtfwjtd

          Some interesting points here Kodie. With the Iraq war, something like 70 per cent of the US population supported its initiation; I was not part of this. Interestingly, after something like 5 years, that approval rating had fallen to something like 42 per cent.We see similar numbers for Viet Nam, maybe even farther apart. I have to wonder, does the falling approval numbers make the war at some point morally wrong? Was it morally right because of its high approval rating to begin with? It’s an interesting question.

          Oh yes, I remember the Cold War, and all the ‘duck and cover’ nonsense that was going to protect us in case of a nuclear attack(yeah, right). Don’t forget, largely as a result of this fear and nonsense we got stuck with the religious “In God We Trust” bit on our money, before this our currency didn’t have this. So, obviously, religion plays a part in our perceptions of right and wrong and taking sides when it comes to war.
          We finally got involved in WW2 because we were sneak attacked, and it felt a lot more like self-defense then. We viewed WW1 as a European civil war, which it was more or less, and we knew from our own experience–and theirs, that these tend to be an extra-bloody mess. Hence our reluctance to get involved. Yes the rounding up of Japanese Americans was a shameful act, about the best I can say is at least we didn’t specifically intend to put them in death camps.

        • InDogITrust

          “This seems to be similar to why god hates people, and we are deluded to think there’s some bargain we can strike to avoid being exterminated.”

          If Yahweh actually existed, this is the only rational explanation: he’s evil and humans have made up religion as a way to try to deal with it.

        • MNb

          “one ought to give it a little thought sometimes”
          I think this is one of the big moral problems of our time.

          Your Hitler-dilemma is even a bit more difficult. Though Germans generally didn’t realize he meant to organize a genocide several of them did realize no good would come from him – and hence tried to murder him. He survived 42 murder attempts. Had one of them succeeded before 1939 things very likely would have been different.
          Still I’m against the death penalty; so much for consistence.

        • MNb

          You make a mistake here: your usage of “moral people” implies absolutism. The Romans were totally OK with genocide and committed it dozens of times. They still were moral people – it’s just us having completely different morals especially on this issue in the 21st Century.
          That doesn’t answer your question though; I’ll have to think about it. My gut feeling says no, so I’ll try to find an example. I might fail of course.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, you are right, I was typing quickly and didn’t take the time to make the distinction. I should have added a qualifier, something like “based on modern understanding”, or similar.

        • TheNuszAbides

          kinda depends on how you frame the go-to ‘atheist atrocities’. it’s easy to posit that neither Stalin nor Mao nor Pol Pot could realistically claim to be enlightened beyond the superstitions and authoritarianisms of the nations that raised them. it’s not much more difficult to posit that their behavior and/or organizational structure depended on the same principles that ‘excused’/fueled the worst excesses (of/inspired by/excused by) any of the plethora of theisms.

          i prefer to lump it all in with Bad Ideas, like Needing Leaders, Great Man Syndrome, etc.

        • JohnH2

          All genocide that is mortals killing mortals is wrong. Even in my holy books, which are themselves partially the products of mortals.

        • wtfwjtd

          Even the God-ordered ones?

        • JohnH2

          I believe yes; The Bible already does say they are bad (when it isn’t saying they are good) but really I would need more evidence that God actually ordered them in the first place as I have as much evidence that God ordered and approved of those genocides as of Him ordering the Cathar crusade and less evidence that they actually happened.

        • hector_jones

          But you don’t really need evidence that God ordered any genocide. You have admitted a number of times elsewhere that God is behind all acts of killing and bears some responsibility for them. Welcome to the Problem of Evil, John.

        • JohnH2

          To which free will is the standard response.

        • hector_jones

          Which standard response doesn’t cut any ice with anyone who’s thought it through.

        • JohnH2

          Talk to Karl in the previous comment thread.

        • hector_jones

          Yes I know. It was more important to your god that Hitler’s free will not be interfered with by god, than it was that the free will of the many millions of Hitler’s murder victims not be interfered with by Hitler. He wanted to see whether Hitler would love him and choose good over evil. He chose evil. That was the point of the Holocaust. Hitler was so important to God that millions had to die horrible deaths to see whether Hitler should be allowed into Heaven. You don’t see any moral problem with this arrangement because death is really no big deal to you since Everybody Dies.

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

          Well, the silver lining is that Hitler’s free will wasn’t impinged upon. I can sleep now.

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

          How does free will get God out of responsibility for the genocides he ordered?

        • InDogITrust

          Whether an omnipotent being ordered a genocide is irrelevant: if he didn’t stop it, he’s evil.

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

          What are you saying? That you know of no instance when God ordered the Israelites to kill large numbers of or even genocide other tribes?

        • hector_jones

          So reasons never matter. Why did you ever bring reasons into this discussion, John?

        • Kodie

          How about this – god can’t actually kill anyone. He needs an agent to carry it out for him.

        • JohnH2

          In which case we would no longer be talking about a Supreme Being who is in any sense, not even the limited version of my faith, Omnipotent or the ruler of anything but something else entirely.

        • Kodie

          I don’t see god killing anyone. How can you blame the mere mortal with the gun in his hand for pointing it directly at the next person god decided needs to die?

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

          It’s remarkable that Christians make moral judgments pretty much like atheists do–if it feels abhorrent, they avoid it, and so on. It’d be nice if they’d realize that they simply bypass the God step.

        • wtfwjtd

          For some reason, pretending to know that God is on their side gives a feeling of comfort to many people. As Richard Carrier has pointed out,it’s amazing how “god” usually conforms to our societal and cultural preferences and norms. Which the atheist recognize as entirely man-made, and hence eliminates the middle man.

        • JohnH2

          In terms of Genocide I am primarily considering floods, illness, etc. things that the only intelligent morally culpable agent that we are aware of that has the power to permit or stop is God (even saying Satan does it still leads back to God as Satan only has power as God permits it). All genocides by humans are only relevant in that God permits those as well, not that they are caused or justified by God.

        • hector_jones

          It seems to me then that you are pretty much stuck with the problem of how can you ever condemn a human-created genocide if you see God behind it. This is the Problem of Evil in a nutshell. You aren’t solving it by saying that Hitler’s role in genocide is evil but God’s is good.

        • InDogITrust

          My declining to engage further with John on this subject comes not from the fact that his arguments give moral cover for people who would commit genocide in the name of God, but from disgust that anyone would even make those arguments.
          I do give John credit for being intellectually honest enough to address the issue (although he loses considerable points for his gymnastics in logics), and for having what appears to be a real theology (rather than just a bunch of memorized bullet points), and I don’t in the least bit think that if push came to shove he would commit or condone actual murder, much less genocide, but I must look askance at anyone who refuses to leave his antiseptic intellectual ivory tower when the subject is such as genocide. However brilliant their brain, I am forced to question their heart.

          I don’t read Cody’s comments enough to know the basis of her denial of God’s committing genocide. Frankly her blathering isn’t interesting enough to try to wade through. But a dishonest fool does not creep me out the way a genocide apologist does, intellectually honest or otherwise.

        • JohnH2

          On the broad scale that I am referring to, how does Dawkin’s debate anyone that believes in any sort of God?

        • hector_jones

          But remember – it’s we atheists who really lose the argument whenever we use the word ‘fuck’. Defending genocide? No loss of moral high ground there, no siree.

        • wtfwjtd

          When atheists use words like ‘fuck’, ‘shit’, ‘damn’, etc. it means we have no argument–or so I’ve been told. But theists defending their god by saying that child-murder is good as long as it’s committed by their god? Well, the theist’s morals are to be extolled and commended over you nasty relativists! Our god is an absolute moralist!(Never mind that he’s an absolute monster,it’s OK ’cause, well, you know, he’s god and all).

        • hector_jones

          When theists have no argument they call it ‘theology’.

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

          “God can kill whoever he wants” is way more offensive that “fuck” in my book.

          And “You’re going to hell–in fact, you’re lucky God doesn’t send you there right this minute, because you deserve it.”

          And lots of other Christian sentiments.

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

          :-)

        • Kodie

          And you know what, I don’t think I want to continue talking to someone who thinks GENOCIDE is anything other than bad. Bye-bye.

          That’s supposed to be the normal response. If morals would be objective, that would be the only correct response regardless of who committed the genocide. Don’t forget, a lot of people liked Hitler, he had charisma and they agreed with his goals, they got on board with a good cause, they thought at the time. Us against them – the same way that god-belief works.

        • InDogITrust

          Yup. “You think genocide can be justified? Oh, look at the time!”

        • TheNuszAbides

          hence Chris Hedges’ not-so-terrible argument that tribalism is a deeper and more dangerous problem for humanity than theism.

        • Kodie

          So why are people happy when they survive a close call? If they were going to die eventually, why do they pray to god for recovery instead of pray to go to heaven today?

        • JohnH2

          Generally people don’t want to die. Death holds unknowns even if one knows they do not cease to exist. One knows from experience though that they will be separated from the living that they love; and who will miss them.

        • Kodie

          But everyone dies. Might as well get it over with.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          Forgive me, you have some theology that I’ve never seen before according to which one can repent AFTER they die and it allows them to hang out with God. Since you just made a point about God having to kill people so that they can repent as opposed to being “predestined for failure” means that a person can be all kinds of evil but just say “I’m sorry” after they die in order for them to be saved (from whatever it’s like to not be with God, which I assume is bad).

        • JohnH2

          1 Peter 4:6. We are still judged according to what we have done wrong, even if we can eventually be saved, and salvation is not the highest goal.

        • Pofarmer

          John, you surely realize that you can rationalize some really awful things with that viewpoint. That is the basis for religious intolerance and bigotry.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          “Continue sending your children down to where they only really have the option of being unrighteous and faithful…” Well so much for God creating with free will so that we might be righteous and faithful. Unless you mean that they could only be unrighteous and unfaithful in the circumstances they were in. In that case you’d think God, all-wise and just, would just remove those circumstances.

        • MNb

          “so much for God creating with free will”
          +1; this one escaped me.

        • JohnH2

          That is precisely what I am saying that God did do.

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

          Oh? Show me where God weeps over the genocide of the Amalekites.

    • 90Lew90

      Barmy. I love the way the whole god idea stimulates weak minds. It’s like Chinese whispers. Sorry, I know that sounds pompous, but Jesus, do these people ask for it. I want unicorns and leprechauns. They must be feeling left out.

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

      I’ve responded to some of your points, but, as a metacomment, I appreciate your adding to the arguments made in response to these questions. Are you saying that your arguments explain the facts better than my “God doesn’t exist” hypothesis?

      6.) At the most basic level faith is a necessary component of induction.

      “Induction”? Electrical induction? Induction into a club? What does this mean?

      I’ve never understood faith to be necessary for anything except belief in things that don’t deserve belief.

      7.) God is not hidden.

      Cool! Show him to me then. Not in some vague shadow-of-a-hint-of-a-wish kind of way, but like any other person.

      There are a variety of reasons why God may cause a natural disaster but unless He tells us via a prophet we don’t know why.

      Or … “God” doesn’t exist. Let’s opt for the simpler, more obvious explanation.

      Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?

      Show me that God exists first. Don’t assume him at the outset. That is what we’re trying to establish, after all.

      those around them were ‘ripe’ with wickedness

      Or so the record of the victors tells us. A natural explanation pops to mind which is likelier than “God exists.”

      that keeps falling apart in the narrative, as does the Israelites actually having successfully implemented a genocide.

      The Israelites genociding a tribe isn’t the issue. People do cruel things. The all-perfect, all-fabulous Yahweh commanding genocide is the issue.

      Bringing in the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ

      You’ve probably read my defenses of the LDS position in other posts. That is, if you are impressed with the evidence for the conventional Christian position, you’ve got to be bowled over by the evidence for the LDS argument. Where the Christian position wins is where it avoided the error of actually being specific and testable.

      • MNb

        “What does this mean?”
        I think he refers to induction as a philosophical concept, which has become part of the scientific method, ie collecting empirical data and trying to draw conclusions from them. How this relates to faith is beyond me though.

      • JohnH2

        I am actually not saying that, at least not necessarily, knowledge of God that is relevant to anything must come from God so even if it is possible to ‘prove’ God’s existence to someone that doesn’t already see it that isn’t actually even desirable, most of the time.

        “Induction”

        Philosophical, the hypothesis that the future is like the past and we can learn from experience. Having not experienced the future we must take on faith that this is so.

        “Show him to me then”

        I can show evidences of Him to you, but each must ascend the mountain of the Lord for themselves and the trial of faith is an individual thing.

        “That is what we’re trying to establish”

        See above, I disagree that this is what is attempting to be established.

        “Or so the record of the victors tells us.”

        Precisely, though more correct would be ‘the record we have’, as they weren’t always the clear cut victor as with Hezekiah which we have the Assyrian account of and they likewise claim ‘victory’.

        “commanding”

        Prove that isn’t just Israelite propaganda and we can talk.

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

          Philosophical, the hypothesis that the future is like the past and we can learn from experience. Having not experienced the future we must take on faith that this is so.

          We follow the evidence. Faith isn’t necessary.

          I can show evidences of Him to you, but each must ascend the mountain of the Lord for themselves and the trial of faith is an individual thing.

          Right. This is the shadow-of-a-hint-of-a-wish that I said I had no use for. God is a person who really exists? Cool—let’s meet for coffee. If that’s impossible, then you might want to rethink your calling him a person (assuming you do?).

          Prove that isn’t just Israelite propaganda and we can talk.

          It might well be just propaganda—how does that get you off the hook? When powerful person X says “kill all the Amalekites!” then person X is an SOB. It’s pretty simple.

        • JohnH2

          Following the evidence depends on the induction hypothesis (or axiom) and demonstrates faith in induction.

          I wonder if God drinks coffee? You could ask Him, about drinking coffee and meeting you for coffee. God is a person that really exists.

          If it is propaganda then there really isn’t a reason to think that God commanded it.

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

          God has none of the properties of a person who could have coffee with me. I think the problem is saying that he exists.

        • JohnH2

          You sure seem knowledgable about the properties of being that you don’t believe exists.

        • hector_jones

          Hit the showers, John. You are just recycling Cody’s trash talk now.

        • JohnH2

          Unless Bob is referring to some moral aspect of God with which he disagrees and which I have presented (entirely possible), then any statement by him on the properties of God which disagree with what I have claimed is arguing for a different God than what I know.

        • hector_jones

          So the God you know could have coffee with Bob? Great! That would also give MNb a chance to weigh him. Killing two birds with one stone! Set it up.

        • JohnH2

          The actual drinking of coffee is something I am not sure of; Is God bound by the Word of Wisdom currently, or is that just something for us which doesn’t apply to anyone not currently mortal and LDS? Given that God is okay with drinking wine, I am betting He probably could have coffee.

          Setting it up with representatives of God would be quite easy, but not what is asked for. To actually get God Himself would require the interested parties to ask Him and Him to agree to it. There are some technical problems that would have to be worked out, but sometime after His second coming assuming that both Bob and MNb live to/through and/or are righteous enough would take care of those easily.

        • hector_jones

          So let me get this straight. You insist that god can morally commit mass murder for reasons unknown to you, but your problem with Bob’s point was that you aren’t sure whether God can drink coffee?

          This is absurdly tragic on so many levels, John. You do realize that Bob isn’t really interested in watching God drink coffee, right? It’s an expression for getting together for an informal chat. I’m sure Bob would be so thrilled to finally meet him that he wouldn’t mind in the least if God drank bottled water.

        • JohnH2

          “You insist that god can morally commit mass murder for reasons unknown to you, but your problem with Bob’s point was that you aren’t sure whether God can drink coffee?”

          Pretty much yes.

          “You do realize that Bob isn’t really interested in watching God drink coffee, right?

          No, I didn’t actually catch that.

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

          I’m sure God would insist on tap water. He’s pretty environmentally conscious.

        • hector_jones

          As long as you don’t insist that God drink coffee, the meeting is a go. Oh but you have to wait till the second coming. There’s always a catch.

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

          Do not get God started on the evils of hot drinks!

          Maybe an iced latte.

        • Kodie

          Empty promises!

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

          Yes, yes I am.

          I’m something of an expert in what a “person” is, I don’t mind saying, and believers like you and Karl have made clear that God doesn’t act at all that way, except that he does.

        • The Thinking Commenter

          You sure seem knowledgable

          Love the “seem” there. Things “seem”, unless it’s God. Then all the tentative qualifiers head for the showers and the Jesus team moves off the bench and punts for the win. You should have more faith in Bob.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Praise “Bob”!

        • Greg G.

          At least we atheists don’t accuse God of giving those commands. Only Bible believers do that.

        • JohnH2

          True.

        • Pofarmer

          “I can show evidences of Him to you,”

          So show already, don’t be coy.l

          “Philosophical, the hypothesis that the future is like the past and we
          can learn from experience. Having not experienced the future we must
          take on faith that this is so.”

          Uhm, no. We believe in the use of induction not because of faith, but because we can use it to make useful predictions. if induction failed, it wouldn’t be part of the scientific method.

        • JohnH2

          It fails all the time, but then we make new theories based on the failure to account for the failure.

        • TheNuszAbides

          ‘based on the failure’
          what, like killing someone for killing someone (or for arguably less than killing someone)?

  • InDogITrust

    “Christians have responded that the forces of nature have a good side. Earthquakes recycle minerals”
    Say what? Do people really say that? From my experience of two major earthquakes, I’d say earthquakes are proponents of landfills, not recycling.

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

      I have indeed heard this. No, I don’t understand it either.

      • MNb

        BobS, one reason your blog rules is that it manages to shock me. I can’t believe my eyes once again.

        “Christians have responded that the forces of nature have a good side. Earthquakes recycle minerals”.
        This is just beyond my imagination. Skeptical as I am I would appreciate a link.

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

          A fair request. I’ll be on the lookout for one.

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

          “volcanoes help create rich soils” Source

          “the higher tectonic activity during Earth’s early history could have played a key role in cycling critically important nutrients and energy sources for life” Source

        • MNb

          Thanks a lot. I’m flabbergasted.
          Though it’s obvious I still like to point out that these guys challenge god’s omnipotence and don’t even realize it. They claim that god is incapable of drafting natural laws that minimize “the collateral damage” – which is btw completely random, something they don’t address either – more than they do know.
          Stunning.

        • wtfwjtd

          Apologetics–the art of making up excuses to cover for God’s bad behavior. The only problem is, when you make up these excuses to try and explain away one thing, you tend to open up a whole new can of worms somewhere else. And the cycle just keeps going, until it eventually crashes(which generally don’t take too long).

        • hector_jones

          It really is turtles all the way down.

        • InDogITrust

          I like turtles!

        • hector_jones

          Me too. Turtles all the way down, and yet I could still do with some more turtles.

        • InDogITrust

          Can we throw in a few tortoises, just to mix things up?

        • hector_jones

          I think there’s room.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, I think they know, they just don’t want to deal with the implications of the “Pale Blue Dot” model.

        • Kodie

          I know a climate change denier you would love! He says that industrialization dropped childbirth rates, so fewer carbon footprints than before industrialization.

        • hector_jones

          Wait, so he thinks there are fewer people on the planet today than there were prior to industrialization?

        • Kodie

          He is confusing childbirth rates with the amount of children each family has, which is what is lowered.

        • Greg G.

          The world’s population has doubled in my lifetime. The world was industrialized when I got here.

        • Kodie

          His claim is that industrialization is better for the environment because people have fewer children.

        • InDogITrust

          The stupid, it hurts.

        • Kodie

          Doesn’t it?

        • Pofarmer

          You would think it would be self evident that you need to look at population growth and population growth rates, as well as resource use per individual. But, apparently not.

        • Eric Sotnak

          A common argument pattern that this represents is also found in many “fine tuning” sorts of arguments. “We have good G because of bad B. Sure, an omnipotent being could have brought about G in other ways, but for all anyone can prove to the contrary, B was the best way of bringing about G.” It’s really just the mystery card dressed up in church clothes.

    • The Man With The Name Too Long

      I guess we shouldn’t feel self-centered. God loves all his creations equally. That includes a bunch of non-sentient rock whose distribution of minerals is not ideal to God even if shifting it would cause some of his living, emotional creations harm. I guess God has to make sacrifices sometimes.

  • 90Lew90

    Nice follow-on from 7 to 8. Mother Teresa to the distaster in Haiti. The same, basically atheist, sado-masochistic Mother Teresa who embraced and celebrated suffering (at least for others, like any good sadist), did so on a grand scale when she also embraced the Duvaliers, who raped Haiti of its wealth to such an extent that it can be said the country would very, very likely have faired better after that earthquake had they never graced the face of the earth. But with the endorsement of the fraud Mama Teresa? Sheesh. Baby Doc just packed his bags and took off with the country’s wealth. See Hitchens, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. For more on Mother Teresa see Donal MacIntyre’s piece here: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/human-rights/2014/04/squalid-truth-behind-legacy-mother-Teresa

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

      Thanks for making that connection. That’s news to me.

  • Ricker

    I think a more common response to point 8 is that natural disasters are god’s punishment for societies’ not following his laws or commandments. That was the justification for the flood: everyone was bad, let’s kill everything and start over. Then realize that your creation, which you easily could have changed with a single thought instead of murdering them, will always be bad and say “oops, I won’t do that again. Here’s a pretty rainbow as an apology.”

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

      Good point. Reminds me of the wisdom of Jerry Falwell: “God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.”

    • InDogITrust

      Given that the tornados and hurricanes that are God’s punishment re The Gays keep hitting the most anti-gay parts of the country, perhaps they should reconsider the message God is trying to send them?

      • Ricker

        Well, god is sending them a message that they aren’t trying hard enough. They’re being punished for their failing to enslave the rest of us with their dogma.

        • InDogITrust

          Oh! silly me! See, if I hated the Gays and controlled the weather, I would punish the states that love The Gays. Wait, maybe God just has bad aim? After all, a tornado hit the Los Angeles Convention Center. In 1983. Really really bad aim. But wait, wasn’t there also a tornado in Salt Lake City?

        • hector_jones

          If I was God and hated gays, I’d give San Francisco really shitty weather … OK that’s not a good example, but you get what I mean.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    This is pretty incredible. Perhaps you thought the Holy Roman Catholic Church had no standards at all when it came to beatification. That turns out not to be true; they have standards, just very very low ones:

    Beatification of Pius XII blocked by absence of approved miracle

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

      They fast track the sainthoods of John Paul II and Mother Teresa in response to public demand, but they won’t revisit their nutty ideas about priest celibacy and contraception because, y’know, they have standards after all? Weird.

      • hector_jones

        I think I read just the other day that Pope Fluffy would be open to the idea of getting rid of the requirement of priestly celibacy. But he was vague about it and I’m not holding my breath.

  • Eric Sotnak

    I just want to re-emphasize the cognitive tension between these two common claims:
    (1) Jesus’ appearance in the world as God-in-the-flesh and his subsequent death and resurrection were the most significant events in human history
    (2) If better evidence for these events were to exist, faith would be undermined.

    It is hard to see how there isn’t an implicit principle at work here that the more significant a claim C is, the more desirable it is for the evidence favoring C to be weak. To this I can only scratch my head and say, “huh?”

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

      Excellent point. Conservative Christian apologists are adamant that there is plenty of evidence. Indeed, if one simply follows the evidence, the Christian message will inevitably be accepted.

      Cool–in that case, drop the faith thing.

      • hector_jones

        Yet no christian I’ve ever met became a christian by following the evidence. Our own resident christian troll Jenna Black acknowledged that she was a christian before she ever read the bible, as they all are.

        • wtfwjtd

          I don’t think she’s ever read the Bible, at least, she doesn’t know shit about it, anyway.

        • hector_jones

          Don’t be too hard on her. She’s too busy reading peer reviewed papers published in scientific journals to have time for the bible.

        • wtfwjtd

          You’re right of course hector. But I’ll defer to Kodie on this one–Jenna does do some reading all right, it’s just that her reading comprehension is about zero. And after she’s ran that through her theological implications machine, there is less than nothing left.

        • hector_jones

          Agreed. I don’t know how Jenna manages something as simple as eating in a restaurant. With her poor reading comprehension, how can she even read a menu and understand it?

        • wtfwjtd

          After what she’s shown us here, I think she would go into a restaurant and order a hamburger, and expect to receive a salad. For her there is little connection between written words, and their universally accepted definitions. Words mean whatever *she* thinks they mean at the time, and whoever thinks differently is wrong.

        • InDogITrust

          Many menus have pictures.

        • Greg G.

          I have trouble with menus, too. Every time I start getting really interested, the plot changes.

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

          They’ll point out that people change denominations and that Christianity gets new converts, but I agree: people are predominantly a reflection of their environment.

          Doesn’t say much for the truth of their claim.

    • InDogITrust

      This! Because if faith (as opposed to knowledge through evidence) is absolutely necessary, then in fact, faith is more important than Jesus’ appearance, etc., in which case, Jesus was unnecessary, since God could have achieved the same thing with “let’s not and say we did.”

    • Pofarmer

      So, if Jesus death and resurrections was supposed to atone for the Sins of Adam and Eve, then why is the world still fallen? Shouldn’t something have changed?

      • Kodie

        As I understand it, god rigged up a system to place the unfallen world in the afterlife after he had come to accept that people would continue to act in ways he disapproves of. Jesus had come to liquidate the burnt offerings system. Nothing has changed, but you can eventually arrive in heaven to get your reward.

        • TheNuszAbides

          pretty much spot-on, and you didn’t even have to be raised in a churchy bubble to figure it out! so much for smokescreenstheology.

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

        When you can’t tell the difference between the world before Jesus and the world after, it doesn’t look like he did a whole lot.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I also wonder exactly what Christians say it was SUPPOSED to do (I hate using capitals for emphasis and I don’t know how to italicize). Jesus dies…and what? Our sins are forgiven? Or what? What about all the sinners before Jesus? If they got along without Jesus than why was the sacrifice necessary if it was necessary at all?

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

          Almost looks like an invented religion.

          (To make italics, do it [i]like this[/i] except replace the square brackets with angled brackets. And remember that there’s the Edit button if you make a mistake.)

        • Greg G.

          You can make it look <i>like this</i> to make it look like this. If you use the letter “b” instead of “i” in both places, it looks like this. You can use “blockquote” tags to make an indented paragraph. When you want to have separate paragraphs, it is best to put a space character between the paragraphs to maintain the spacing between paragraphs.

      • TheNuszAbides

        the ‘change’ i was taught (and have seen no seriously considered variations on) is that before Da Passion everyone was condemned (never got a straight answer as to how long the Window of Total Doomed-ness was – ever since the Eden eviction? ever since Da Chosen Folks lost the Ark? – but then i never actually asked a straight question along those lines), and then, due to the ~Mighty ‘n’ Mysterious Sacrificial-But-Not-That-Kind-Of-Sacrificial Workings~ of Da Passion, everyone now has the opportunity to ‘acknowledge Christ as The (or more often, One’s Personal) Savior’.

        (i.e. to pretty much all theists, anyone expecting any sort of change ‘in the earthly realm’ is simply barking up the wrong tree. there’s no incentive for them to think of this as bait beyond the “you’re doing it wrong” response.)

        • Pofarmer

          Thats another thing. How in the hell do you lose the Ark of the Covenant? Wouldn’t there be a story in there somewhere?

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

          It’s lost?? I thought you had it!

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

          On a completely different topic, it is curious that the Ark (their most important possession) was lost.

          Have you ever wondered if they could lose a day here and there? Our Saturday (Sabbath day) was the day God rested, but what if there was some sort of social upheaval (like the exiles) and the Hebrews had other issues to worry about than counting exactly 7 days every single week. Seems possible that they got off by a day once or twice (or many times).

          https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/andyrooney110927214900.jpg

  • SirThinkALot

    6. The premise of this question is flawed. ‘faith’ means ‘trust’ not ‘belief without evidence.’ Yes faith(trust) CAN be ‘blind'(that is, without evidence) but it doesnt HAVE to be.

    7. I would argue that there is good evidence for Jesus’ ressurection, for those who honestly seek it. And God is not obligated to directly show himself to every single person on earth.

    8. This is a question I honestly struggle with, I dont have a good answer.

    9. Most examples of ‘genocide’ in the Bible are actually cases of overheated rhetoric as part of a military campaign to defeat or drive out an opposing force. And slavery as commanded on the OT is closer to what is known as ‘indentured servitude.’

    10. In his own lifetime, Jesus would have been a very minor figure, only becoming well known after the Christian church spread his story. Also, how do you explain the birth of Christianity without a historical Jesus?

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

      If your goal here is simply to summarize additional Christian responses to these tough questions, I appreciate that. But you do see the big picture, right? Instead of the Christian’s individual, convoluted, question-begging responses to each question, “God doesn’t exist” neatly and effectively answers every single one.

      6. The premise of this question is flawed. ‘faith’ means ‘trust’ not ‘belief without evidence.’

      Why then bless those who believe without evidence, as in the Thomas story? Jesus should’ve said instead, “Demand evidence, people! Mental zombies who just believe random things without evidence are no followers of mine.”

      7. I would argue that there is good evidence for Jesus’ ressurection, for those who honestly seek it.

      Why “for those who honestly seek it”? Do you add that qualifier for other things? There is good evidence for a spherical earth, for those who honestly seek it? There is good evidence for atoms, for those who honestly seek it?

      God is not obligated to directly show himself to every single person on earth.

      OK, but that’s yet another excuse made to apologize for missing evidence.

      8. This is a question I honestly struggle with, I dont have a good answer.

      I appreciate your honesty. But doesn’t this tell you something? Are you being true to yourself by putting this nagging problem on the shelf and ignoring it? Maybe this could be the beginning of a serious inquiry to make sure your beliefs are well grounded.

      9. Most examples of ‘genocide’ in the Bible are actually cases of overheated rhetoric as part of a military campaign to defeat or drive out an opposing force.

      I don’t care whether genocide happened or not—I agree that it didn’t. That God is shown ordering genocide is the issue. And a damning one at that.

      And slavery as commanded on the OT is closer to what is known as ‘indentured servitude.’

      For fellow Jews, yes. Not for people of other tribes. God is quite clear on that—see Lev. 25:44-46.

      how do you explain the birth of Christianity without a historical Jesus?

      How do you explain the growth of Scientology without a historical Xenu?

      • SirThinkALot

        “Why then bless those who believe without evidence, as in the Thomas story?”

        Actually he never said ‘blessed are those who believe without evidence’ He said ‘blessed are those who have not seen and believe.’ Speaking in context of his walking, talking ressurected body.

        And clearly it doesnt require much trust to follow Jesus after seeing him dead and then walking again. It does require a certain ‘leap of faith’ for those of us who dont have that direct experience.

        “Why “for those who honestly seek it”? Do you add that qualifier for other things? There is good evidence for a spherical earth, for those who honestly seek it? There is good evidence for atoms, for those who honestly seek it?”

        I would if I was speaking to a flat earther, or somebody who denies the existence of atoms(I havent met such a person yet, but there probably is at least one out there). Because, lets be frank, such people are not going to approach the evidence for those positions honestly.

        “I don’t care whether genocide happened or not—I agree that it didn’t. That God is shown ordering genocide is the issue. And a damning one at that.”

        And I’m saying God didnt order genocide. Not unless you think ‘I’m going to beat the crap out of you’ means that I will literally beat you till your bowels are empty.

        “How do you explain the growth of Scientology without a historical Xenu?”

        Xenu wasnt supposedly walking around barely 20 years ago.

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

          Actually he never said ‘blessed are those who believe without evidence’ He said ‘blessed are those who have not seen and believe.’

          Sounds like the same thing to me.

          And clearly it doesnt require much trust to follow Jesus after seeing him dead and then walking again.

          I agree. As you say, too bad for those of us in the 21st century.

          such people are not going to approach the evidence for those positions honestly.

          You put an odd qualifier on God evidence that you don’t for other evidence. Sounds like you’re admitting that this “evidence” is in a very different category.

          And I’m saying God didnt order genocide.

          And I’m saying that you are forgetting what the Good Book says. Do I need to quote you the bits?

          Keep in mind that while God saying “I want you to kill everyone, including babies” is outrageously embarrassing today, it wasn’t in OT times. Genocide (and slavery) are A-OK … as long as it’s happening to the other guy.

          Xenu wasnt supposedly walking around barely 20 years ago.

          So it’s all the more remarkable that Scientology is as popular as it is? Is that what you’re saying?

        • SirThinkALot

          “You put an odd qualifier on God evidence that you don’t for other evidence. Sounds like you’re admitting that this “evidence” is in a very different category.”

          Not at all. I”m assuming the person I’m speaking to has a bias that will effect how he examines the evidence.

          “And I’m saying that you are forgetting what the Good Book says. Do I need to quote you the bits?”

          No, but you DO need to explain why its an actual command for genocide, and not overheated rhetoric in preparation for a military campaign.

          “So it’s all the more remarkable that Scientology is as popular as it is? Is that what you’re saying?”

          No,I dont think its all remarkable that people(especially those who scientifically illiterate) would believe miraculous things happened trillions of years ago. Especially when that belief is tied up with some self-help techniques that really do work for some people.

          But it IS remarkable that people would accept miraculous things happened within their own lifetime. Especially when that belief results in them getting ostracized from their family and the wider society.

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

          Not at all. I”m assuming the person I’m speaking to has a bias that will effect how he examines the evidence.

          You have a qualifier that good evidence for Jesus’s resurrection exists “for those who honestly seek it.” Either remove the qualifier or admit that the resurrection claim is of a different sort than other claims about reality.

          No, but you DO need to explain why its an actual command for genocide, and not overheated rhetoric in preparation for a military campaign.

          So then I do need to show God demanding genocide. OK:

          “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.” Deut. 20:16–18

          No, I don’t care if this actually happened or not. The God of the Bible orders genocide. That’s the point. Pretty simple, and pretty damning.

          But it IS remarkable that people would accept miraculous things happened within their own lifetime. Especially when that belief results in them getting ostracized from their family and the wider society.

          What are you referring to? Is this the “who would die for a lie?” argument? I eviscerate that argument here.

        • SirThinkALot

          “You have a qualifier that good evidence for Jesus’s resurrection exists “for those who honestly seek it.” Either remove the qualifier or admit that the resurrection claim is of a different sort than other claims about reality.”

          I have no problem removing said qualifier. I do have to wonder though, why you have repeatedly ignored my explanation for why I included said qualifier(not even dismissing it). And no, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the claim being ‘different.’

          “So then I do need to show God demanding genocide. OK:

          “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.” Deut. 20:16–18

          No, I don’t care if this actually happened or not. The God of the Bible orders genocide. That’s the point. Pretty simple, and pretty damning.”

          Just quoting the relevant text proves nothing. How this any different than similar statements made about the Germans during WWI? Or about the ‘reds’ during Korea and Vietnam? You know, how we were gonna ‘destroy them’ or ‘kill all those dirty commies.’

          “What are you referring to? Is this the “who would die for a lie?” argument? I eviscerate that argument here.”

          Dying was just the last and most extreme point in what early Christians went through for their convictions.

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

          I have no problem removing said qualifier.

          OK, so now you’re saying that the evidence of Jesus’s resurrection is just another true claim like “the earth is round” or “Julius Caesar was a ruler of Rome” and is tested (or rejected) using the same tools.

          I do have to wonder though, why you have repeatedly ignored my explanation for why I included said qualifier

          I missed a good explanation for the qualifier. Can you pull that out?

          Just quoting the relevant text proves nothing.

          Well, I’ll admit that it doesn’t prove e = mc2, but it certainly does prove that the Bible has God demanding genocide, just like I promised.

          How this any different than similar statements made about the Germans during WWI?

          I’m not sure what you’re saying. You’re saying that people exaggerate?

          Sure, I get that. But so what? (1) your holy book admits that (2) the Christian god uses genocide. I don’t see how this compares to ordinary fallible people talking smack about the enemy.

          Dying was just the last and most extreme point in what early Christians went through for their convictions.

          How do you know any of the first generation of Christians died/was injured? And why is this relevant?

          You have followed the link to see my position on this, right?

        • SirThinkALot

          “I missed a good explanation for the qualifier. Can you pull that out?”

          Yep, quoting myself:

          “I would[include such a qualifier] if I was speaking to a flat earther, or somebody who denies the existence of atoms…. Because, lets be frank, such people are not going to approach the evidence for those positions honestly.”

          And

          “I”m assuming the person I’m speaking to has a bias that will effect how he examines the evidence.”

          “Sure, I get that. But so what? (1) your holy book admits that (2) the Christian god uses genocide. I don’t see how this compares to ordinary fallible people talking smack about the enemy.”

          You dont see how similar it sounds to such examples of ‘talking smack?’ Seriously?

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

          Huh? You’re saying that the OT is just the product of the primitive imaginations of Bronze Age people? Cool–we agree.

          If, on the other hand, you want to salvage something and say that God really exists, then you’re stuck with your own holy book making it clear that God is A-OK with genocide and slavery. Your “moral” god is immoral.

          Bizarrely, you seem to want it both ways: the Bible is just trash talking when other tribes are mentioned … and yet a sterling god is in there somewhere. It don’t work that way. Take the Bible or leave it.

        • SirThinkALot

          I actually dont think its a problem even if God did directly speak those words(which admittedly is unprovable either way). Who’s to say God cant use trash talk?

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

          Face the issue squarely instead of trying to slip away. We’re not talking about trash talk; we’re talking about your god ordering genocide! You don’t find that problematic?

        • SirThinkALot

          I might if I thought that he had. I havent seen anything to convince me of that yet.

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

          You really need to think more to earn your name. I’ve already shown you one place (Deut. 20:16–18). Respond to it.

          You do see that it doesn’t matter whether God actually said that or not, right? Your Bible says that he said it.

          Discard the Bible as mythology if you want (that’s what I do), and the problem is solved. But if you want to keep it, you must address the fact that your god is said to have no problem whatsoever killing a tribe down to the last baby.

        • SirThinkALot

          I already did address it. I pointed out that it sounds, at least to me, like the kind of overheated rhetoric(‘trash talking’) you hear in connection with pretty much every single military campaign in the history of ever.

          When I asked you what makes that different passage, you simply re-stated your assertion thats its a command for genocide, and offered nothing new.

          So, yea unless you have something to offer besides bald assertions, I dont see any reason to see this as a command for genocide. For military conquest, yes(and you can argue over whether warfare is justified or not), but not wholesale slaughter of an entire people.

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

          I already did address it. I pointed out that it sounds, at least to me, like the kind of overheated rhetoric(‘trash talking’) you hear in connection with pretty much every single military campaign in the history of ever.

          So then the Bible is unreliable. When it says that God said something, we can’t trust it. Is that it?

          And ask yourself how you tell the trash talk from the good stuff. My guess is that you decide based on what makes the most sense to you. That is, you beat the copper of the Bible on the anvil of your own opinions. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

        • SirThinkALot

          Actually the idea that the Bible must be read in a plainly or ‘naive’ literal way is purely a product of modern American fundamentalism and bears little-to-no resemblance to how Christians read the Bible for the first nearly 2000 years.

          Augustine warned constantly about ‘naive literalism’ in reading the Bible, and said that if a ‘plain’ reading seems to contradict our observations or moral sense, then that reading should be rejected offhand.

          Aquinas, probably the most famous of the Medieval theologians, explicitly rejected the notion of a 6 day creation period. Instead he held that in the instant of creation God created what he called semina(latin for ‘seeds’). While hes not clear on what, exactly these ‘seeds’ are, he went on to say that they followed natural law to produce everything on earth….Bear in mind that Aquinas lived half a millennium before Darwin.

          And those are just two examples. Serious theologians have pretty much always from the very beginning rejected the idea the Bible must be read always with the plainly ‘literal’ reading in mind.

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

          Actually the idea that the Bible must be read in a plainly or ‘naive’ literal way is purely a product of modern American fundamentalism and bears little-to-no resemblance to how Christians read the Bible for the first nearly 2000 years.

          I wonder at your algorithm for determining which is the crap and which the good stuff.

          if a ‘plain’ reading seems to contradict our observations or moral sense, then that reading should be rejected offhand.

          Ah—so the algorithm is, “If it makes sense, it’s good stuff; if it sounds insane, discard it.” So the Bible is just your sock puppet, with each person making it say whatever that person thinks? Your conclusion has no more inherent validity than Fred Phelps’s?

          But then the Bible is a useless middleman. Discard it and simply consult your own conscience to know what to do.

          Aquinas, probably the most famous of the Medieval theologians, explicitly rejected the notion of a 6 day creation period.

          It’s not like that did much to stop those Christians determined to view things a different way. Here again, Aquinas has his “truth,” and biblical literalists have theirs.

          Bear in mind that Aquinas lived half a century before Darwin.

          Bear in mind that Aquinas (1225-1274) lived more than half a millennium before Darwin.

          Serious theologians have pretty much always from the very beginning rejected the idea the Bible must be read always with the plainly ‘literal’ reading in mind.

          And I imagine they have also come to no happy conclusion to the problem I pose to you.

        • Pofarmer

          “And clearly it doesnt require much trust to follow Jesus after seeing him dead and then walking again.”

          Makes you wonder why all the Pharisees and saducees didn’t spontaneously convert, doesn’t it?

        • SirThinkALot

          Why would it? Jesus never supposedly spoke to them after his ressurection.

        • Pofarmer

          Even if Jesus never appeared to them, wouldn’t the disciples walking around with sooper dooper powers attract attention?

        • MNb

          “And I’m saying God didnt order genocide.”
          Wow.
          Just wow.
          Even William Lane Craig, not exactly the most honest person in the world, recognizes that your and his god did.

          http://www.reasonablefaith.org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites

    • MNb

      “how do you explain the birth of Christianity without a historical Jesus?”
      Wrong question afaIc. I don’t have any problem with a historical Jesus. I don’t see any reason to assume a divine Jesus. The two are not the same.
      Question 10 implies more than just rejecting a historical Jesus. I agree that Jesus in his own lifetime was a very minor figure. If I am to assume that he was the son of god though, aware of his importance for the future, I would expect him to have ordered his apostles to write his words down – or to have done it himself.

      • TheNuszAbides

        indeed – is there even any scripture (or vaunted Council ‘findings’) attempting to excuse the fact that a radical new sect which painfully-obviously depended on an established scriptural tradition didn’t even begin to iron their New Testament down until more than a generation after the death of the Founder?

        • MNb

          The biggest fun of course is that there is a nice secular answer to your question that’s totally unacceptable for lots of christians.
          1. They didn’t iron their NT down because they anticipated the second coming and believed it would happen during their lifetime.
          2. When the Romans destructed the Temple of Jerusalem the proto-christians realized that the second coming was postponed a bit and that to preserve their ideas (and also to organize their new movement) they had to write stuff down.

          And that’s why I claim that Jesus was relatively unimportant for the content of christianity. Paulus is the guy – a political genius, I cannot but admit, who saw the potential from the very beginning.

        • TheNuszAbides

          parallel takedowns of SaulPaul and L.Ron Hubbard would be a fun exercise.

  • $105158253

    As if part one wasn’t embarrassing enough for you. Double wow!

    • Kodie

      Nobody takes you seriously, you know that, right?

      • $105158253

        I never expect fools to take me seriously.

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

      Whoa–another clear rebuttal to my post, point by point!

      Kidding! Just havin’ a little fun with you there, Frank. I hope you don’t mind.

      No, this is complete crap and shows that you have absolutely no arguments. Most Christians who have absolutely no weapons in the arsenal just look on silently. Good for you for having the guts to lay your cards on the table to show us that you’re holding shit.

  • Joe

    I just posted a comment in the com box for Part One. I’m always a day late I suppose.

  • Asmondius

    6. Bob, I’m sure you carry some paper bills in your wallet. They have no intrinsic value, yet you probably ascribe some value to them. Why? Because you have faith that their value is backed by your government. Human beings can not control or oversee everything which affects their lives, hence faith is a normal component of human existence.

    7. By definition, God exists outside of our physical paradigm – He is not bound by time, space, or matter. Since science exists to basically measure these areas, it is illogical to assume science can address God. People are honored as saints not because they were perfect, but because they struggled with their imperfections to achieve a positive result.. All people, including saints, have times of doubt. Peter denied Christ three times in one night.

    8. This is just another variation of the “why doesn’t God make everything perfect?’ question – ‘why doesn’t God heal amputees’, ‘why do good people suffer’, etc. etc. etc. which I already addressed. It’s rather obvious you were just being redundant here in order to pad out your list to ten items. The answer is simple – the world is imperfect. A long time ago we chose knowledge over perfection, so enjoy your science and stop whining about the mosquitoes.

    9. Because it happened.

    10. It’s not true – that’s just a convenient false conclusion on your part. You disingenuously left out Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, etc.. I’d love to hear why you would think that a ‘historian’ (there were no professional historians then, by the way) of Christ’s time would have known about a poor Jew executed in an obscure outpost of the Empire and been excited enough about the topic to write a biography. Perhaps someone did and it just no longer exists – after all, Plutarch’s biography of Alexander appeared some 400 years after Alexander’s death. Jesus was obscure, Alexander ruled the world. But none of Plutarch’s sources survive.

    The problems you are experiencing here seem to originate from very basic misassumptions concerning ancient times and how we research that history.

    You and most of your readers here seem to subscribe to what I term the ‘Flintstones Theory of History’. That is to say, you view history only through the modern lens, assuming that everything then was the same as now except that their technology was cruder. Romans didn’t have personal vehicles just as we do, powered by feet instead of gasoline – right?. It’s just as silly to demand that there were ‘professional historians’ and public media recording everything that happened. We don’t have a whole lot from those times to work with, and existence usually does not come from formal ancient histories but father from traces found in letters, proclamations, plays, etc.. The city of Troy was eventually found based upon clues found in literature. Up until several decades ago, among the strongest evidence for the existence of Pontius Pilate was his appearance in the New Testament. And then an inscription was found wherein his name was mentioned – fancy that.

    Christianity has undeniably existed for about 2000 years now, and has had an undeniably huge impact on human existence. Saying that the historical record for Christianity is ‘weak’ is just ludicrous.

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

      you have faith that [money’s] value is backed by your government.

      I’d say “trust,” but I see your point. Yes, I do have trust in money, because that trust has been validated over and over and over. Not so for the Christian claims.

      God exists outside of our physical paradigm

      If that’s true and God stays there, then you have no warrant for believing in him. Most Christians say instead that God dips his toe into our reality to create the world, listen to and answer our prayers, and nudge it this way or that.

      it is illogical to assume science can address God.

      “God answers prayers” (to take just one Christian claim) is a scientific claim. Let’s use science to test it.

      All people, including saints, have times of doubt.

      Yes, I can imagine that. By contrast, I never do. But to your point: doesn’t this tell you something? Doesn’t doubt give you good advice in other situations?

      8. This is just another variation of the “why doesn’t God make everything perfect?’ question – ‘why doesn’t God heal amputees’, ‘why do good people suffer’, etc. etc. etc. which I already addressed.

      And I already responded: you can wiggle out of it by saying that we shouldn’t expect God to give any evidence of his existence in this or that situation, but after you’ve done so, you’ve simply undercut your reasons for believing.

      It’s rather obvious you were just being redundant here in order to pad out your list to ten items.

      I won’t apologize for giving natural disasters, which kill people by the thousands, their own entry. I’m quite happy to have God stand in judgment for this one by itself.

      A long time ago we chose knowledge over perfection

      Reminds me of a joke: the Lone Ranger and Tonto are camping, and when they see hundreds of mounted Indians appear. The Lone Ranger says, “Looks like we’re in trouble!” Tonto replies, “What do you mean ‘we,’ Kemosabe?”

      Ditto here. The Bible itself (in a rare moment of sanity) admits that blaming children for their ancestors’ mistakes is wrong.

      More importantly, you presume the consequent (that God exists) to make your point. Let’s go there once we actually have evidence.

      9. Because it happened.

      OK, thanks for your candor. God is a dick then.

      You disingenuously left out Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, etc.

      Wrong again. They don’t mention Jesus.

      there were no professional historians then, by the way

      I’m happy to see you undercut the scholarship available to us. I’m surprised you’re so eager to do it.

      You and most of your readers here seem to subscribe to what I term the ‘Flintstones Theory of History’. That is to say, you view history only through the modern lens, assuming that everything then was the same as now except that their technology was cruder.

      Nope. Few of the atheist commenters here would make that mistake either.

      I see the difference in how we record history and how it was done back then. You want to say that our record from back then is weak? Works for me. And yet again, you cheerfully undercut the value of the evidence you point to to support your amazing claims.

      We don’t have a whole lot from those times to work with

      Tell me about it! You sound like an atheist.

      Christianity has undeniably existed for about 2000 years now, and has had an undeniably huge impact on human existence. Saying that the historical record for Christianity is ‘weak’ is just ludicrous.

      It might be, but this statement about Christianity’s longevity does zilch to support it.

  • MMurray

    Wow, as a former atheist I have to say that this is probably the dumbest list of objections to Christianity I have ever seen. No strike that, the questions themselves are not necessarily stupid, but the snarky, sarcastic, contemptuous manner of the “answers” simply denotes the writer as an unserious man. This is not an inquiry at all, but a propaganda piece by an atheist meant to impress other atheists. What a waste of time for a serious thinker.

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

      Dumb? Because you have easy answers? Share them.

      It’s not clear that you even understand the point of the post. Try again?

  • Yaroslav

    Is this a joke? I will answer some questions briefly. Concerning hurricanes and natural disasters. Why God doesn’t stop them? Because He is the author of them. He punishes evil men for their sins and then sends them to eternal tortures of Hell. These disasters often act to show God’s justice, to forewarn evildoers of the punishment to come, and to discomfit them in order to make it easier for them to convert. Why does God command genocide and slavery in the Bible? Because these things are not intrinsically evil. Genocide and slavery can be both good or bad, depending on how they are applied. The same applies to war, death penalty, corporal punishment, torture, etc. In fact, God tortures vast majority of mankind in the fires of Hell for all eternity. Why does God allow evil things to happen to good people? To try their faith and love of God, and also because their flesh is still under the dominion of the devil until the resurrection. Although the soul can be redeemed in this life, the flesh cannot. “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the
    flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the
    things that you would.” Galatians 5:17. Why is God hidden? Because mankind separated themselves from God by sin. Jesus came to restore this communion. But those who are of good will God reveals Himself to them, although men cannot see God due to our sinful flesh. Why won’t God heal amputees? First of all, amputees have been healed in the past, and more will be healed in the future. Secondly, God is the one who allows or directly amputates people to punish them for their sins. Why should He heal them if they refuse to repent? Why is faith required? Faith is required for everything not directly palpable. For instance, faith is required for Big Bang and evolution (which are false, by the way) because they cannot be proved through empirical evidence but through conjectures. Bible is unscientific? I suggest you read some creationist books and then attempt to make that statement. This post is probably one of the worst atheist posts I’ve ever seen, to be honest. For your only hope of salvation, visit JohnTheBaptist.us

    • Kodie

      In other words, god is mafioso: nice life you got there, shame if something should happen to it.

    • Greg G.

      This post is probably one of the worst atheist posts I’ve ever seen, to be honest.

      Couldn’t be. That would be too much of a coincidence because your “post is probably one of the worst theist posts I’ve ever seen.”

      • Pofarmer

        Why would God have to resort to wars and Genosicde, couldn’t he just appear to the preists of the other guys? And not only that. If God can send a disaster to punish the evil, or test the good, how do you know which you are?

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

      Why God doesn’t stop [natural disasters]? Because He is the author of them.

      And you worship this guy? You might want to rethink that.

      He punishes evil men for their sins and then sends them to eternal tortures of Hell.

      And you worship this guy? You might want to rethink that.

      These disasters often act to show God’s justice

      You mean “justice.”

      Why does God command genocide and slavery in the Bible? Because these things are not intrinsically evil. Genocide and slavery can be both good or bad, depending on how they are applied.

      Remind me to stay far away when you lament the loss of the “good old days.”

      In fact, God tortures vast majority of mankind in the fires of Hell for all eternity.

      Fun! He must be a hoot at parties.

      Why does God allow evil things to happen to good people? To try their faith and love of God

      Good thinking. I do that with my friends quite often. I’ll burn down someone’s house or something like that just to make sure that their friendship is serious.

      Boy, do I hate someone who just kinda likes me.

      Why is God hidden? Because mankind separated themselves from God by sin.

      That must frustrate God. He wants to make himself known, but he just can’t.

      Guess he’s not really very powerful.

      those who are of good will God reveals Himself to them, although men cannot see God due to our sinful flesh.

      Kinda like magic?

      Why won’t God heal amputees? First of all, amputees have been healed in the past

      Evidence for this remarkable claim? Or were you just throwing chum into the conversation?

      God is the one who allows or directly amputates people to punish them for their sins.

      Bam! You got me. And all this time, I thought God was the nice guy.

      My bad.

      Why should He heal them if they refuse to repent?

      Good point. They don’t believe for no good reason at all? Screw ’em. Burn ’em in hell for a trillion years.

      Why is faith required? Faith is required for everything not directly palpable.

      Which raises the question: why is God (belief in whom is incredibly important) not directly palpable?

      God works in mysterious ways, I guess. It’s almost like he’s not even there.

      faith is required for Big Bang and evolution

      Wrong again.

      …(which are false, by the way) because they cannot be proved through empirical evidence but through conjectures.

      Science is never proven.

      Boy, are you stupid. Or is it just ignorant? Either way, go back to sixth grade and learn the basics of science.

      I suggest you read some creationist books

      Been there, done that, had a good laugh.

      I’ll get my science from the scientists, but thanks.

      This post is probably one of the worst atheist posts I’ve ever seen, to be honest.

      Thanks for the feedback. Now I’m even more eager to reread your critique.

      For your only hope of salvation, visit

      Translation: “Fuck you. Oh, by the way, wouldn’t you like to join my cult? Here’s a link.”

      • MR

        You mean “justice.”

        Someone recently remarked about the need to use two different words when referring to God’s ‘justice’ as opposed to the common ordinary definition. God’s ‘justice’, punishing someone for eternity, most certainly does not equal what your average human being considers justice.

        I’ll burn down someone’s house or something like that just to make sure that their friendship is serious.

        “For Bob so loves his friends…,” Bob 3:16

        Why is God hidden?

        “For God so loves the world that he squirrels himself away out of their sight….” John 3:16 NIRSRV (New Improved Revised Standard Revision Version)

        God is the one who allows or directly amputates people to punish them for their sins.

        Oh, good to know. How to judge people at first glance! “Don’t pity them; no, they deserve their punishment!” Tell that to our soldiers.

        Burn ’em in hell for a trillion years.

        That’s just the first trillion—I’m pretty sure infinity is longer than that. Because, you know: justice.

        This post is probably one of the worst atheist posts I’ve ever seen, to be honest.

        Oh, I bet he says that to all the atheists!

      • Greg G.

        I’ll burn down someone’s house or something like that just to make sure that their friendship is serious.

        I’ll give you 20% of the insurance money.

    • MNb

      “Genocide and slavery can be both good or bad, depending on how they are applied.”
      OK. Could you tell me how to apply genocide to you and your people so that it is a good thing? I’m going to pay you a visit next week and want to make sure not doing it the bad way.

      • Kodie

        Genocide and slavery applied to animals is sometimes considered “good”. Kill all the ants, cockroaches, fleas, termites, or mice you want to, you don’t need a good reason other than they are pests to you. Slavery is using animals for labor, we never consider an animal’s desire for freedom. That goes for animals used for plowing, hauling, being eaten or worn, tested on, entertainment at a circus, or a zoo. At a zoo, they try to recreate an animal’s natural habitat, but they are still in a cage. We consider some or all of these purposes to be “good” because we gain from them food or clothing, safety in the goods we use, or marvel at their obedience to a trainer or feel educated and smart.

        • MNb

          Yes, that’s a difficult hence interesting ethical problem I don’t have an answer to.

      • Greg G.

        It would be kinda funny if he posted that not knowing what the word “genocide” means. It would be horrific if he said that and knew what he was saying.

        • Kodie

          All you need to agree to genocide is to imagine the people you want to kill are like, because of the kind of people they all are, like the kind of animal you would exterminate because of the kind of animal they are. I had a cat with fleas once, and it wasn’t like any of those fleas were any good. I wasn’t about to ask any if they were the good kind of flea who meant well and wanted to leave me and my cat alone. I took the cat out and left a flea bomb in the room for an afternoon. Another kind of person you want to kill all of is the kind of person who is trying to kill you. Like, the whole culture has decided that you are bad and everyone like you is bad and you all need to die. So you don’t look at those people and think, some of them are babies, some of them have families, they all live and such a lot like we do. The main thing is they are encultured to hate everyone here and want us all dead, so we have to equate that kind of person with any regular pest, or even worse. Fleas aren’t trying to kill anyone on purpose. Fleas can’t be reeducated to prefer a different food than cats – FYI on the subject of pets: cat fleas will eat any goddamned blood even from a dog. Dogs might have dog fleas or cat fleas. “Dog fleas” only like dogs. “Cat fleas” will like a cat or a dog or a person or anything.

          Anyway, I get that it’s hard to have sympathy for a whole culture who is trained to hate you and want to kill you and everyone of your tribe, etc. That is probably why Christians fear repercussions, now that they imagine gay people have some extra power or permission to retaliate for the bigotry. If we oppress gay people forever, they can never retaliate! Oh no, now they have their freedom to marry and next they will be coming after us! (Way to miss the fucking point). But it’s one thing to say those people were trying to kill us so we defended ourselves with war methods, and another thing to say every single person in that village fucked babies, including other babies, and wore white after Labor Day, so we elected to fulfill our godly expectation and obliterate the population to eradicate their sins from propagating (and we wanted to live there).

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

      Yaroslav, You have some outstanding comments here to respond to. I don’t think you’ve been very convincing.

    • Dys

      So your response is basically a litany of excuses for why God behaves like an evil, immoral tyrant and can’t do things that would be incredibly simple for him to do.

      For instance, faith is required for Big Bang and evolution (which are false, by the way) because they cannot be proved through empirical evidence

      Actually, we have empirical evidence for both evolution and the Big Bang. You’re wrong.

      Bible is unscientific? I suggest you read some creationist books and then attempt to make that statement.

      Creationism isn’t scientific. And there’s plenty of unscientific things in the bible – it gets the order of things in Genesis wrong, Adam and Eve did not exist, etc.

    • adam

      ”’

  • Testmeandsee

    SIN!
    The 10 questions can be answered in the violation of 10 Commandments.

    We don’t believe God, we don’t honor Him as Creator, we won’t worship him as God. Worship is sacred, Life is sacred, marriage is sacred, sex is sacred, property is sacred, rest is sacred.

    Adam’s sin, rejecting God’s commandment, plunged all of creation into chaos. Read the account Genesis 2&3.

    Although they knew God they did not glorify Him as God …. Romans 1:21 SIN essentially means without God.

    you know there is no criminal who is half so bad in actuality as you know yourself to be in possibility. My “grave” has been opened by God and “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.” God’s Spirit continually reveals what human nature is like apart from His grace. (Quote: Oswald Chambers)

    I would also like to address the Myth of Christianity. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_mythology

    In ancient Greek, muthos, from which the English word “myth” derives, meant “story, narrative.” By the time of Christianity, muthos had started to take on the connotations of “fable, fiction, lie”.[2][3] Early Christians contrasted their sacred stories with “myths”, by which they meant false and pagan stories.[2][4][5]

    With all due respect, I would like to confidently say that God, Israel, the bible and Jesus Christ, is a “mystery or myth” only to those who refuse to accept what God has clearly and coherently revealed.

    Let us be confident in the fact, and boldly proclaim, that there are no contradictions in God’s word. If a person can not reconcile one part of Scripture with another, then the fault lies with the person only. May God grant them wisdom to understand! Let us not put on a sense of false humility (which is a form of self-righteousness), hiding behind the false notion that God’s ways can not be understood. It is true that his ways are not our ways, but that does not mean that he mysteriously refuses to be known by those who truly seek to know him and his ways. Romans 16:25… What was a mystery in ages past has now been made fully known. Christ has been revealed and his church has been established, and so there is absolutely no reason we cannot understand what has been revealed about Jesus in scripture.  

    Peter suggests that Paul’s teachings are hard to understand, but that does not mean that there are still “mysterious” aspects to God’s word. Hard to understand does not mean it’s impossible to understand. Perhaps a person just hasn’t yet learned that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom? 

    If one is not seeking understanding in an honorable way, then I dare say they haven’t yet begun to fear the Lord and so it would be no wonder why they can not understand what God has already clearly and coherently revealed.   If one is an unbeliever, then s/he will not understand it until God grants them life.

    Let us live as though we truly believe that there is a holy God to appear before some Day.

    If it’s not this, it’ll be that ….. <

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

      God, Israel, the bible and Jesus Christ, is a “mystery or myth” only to those who refuse to accept what God has clearly and coherently revealed.

      I gotta disagree with you there. I see scant evidence of the truth of Christianity’s supernatural claims.

      Think about why you reject all the other religions, and you’ll understand why I reject yours.

      • Testmeandsee

        1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

        I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. —John 17:4

        The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in history of the very mind and intent of God. There is no place for seeing Jesus Christ as a martyr. His death was not something that happened to Him— something that might have been prevented. His death was the very reason He came.

        God forgives sin only because of the death of Christ. God could forgive people in no other way than by the death of His Son, and Jesus is exalted as Savior because of His death. “We see Jesus…for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor…” (Hebrews 2:9). The greatest note of triumph ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ— “It is finished!” (John 19:30). That is the final word in the redemption of humankind. (Oswald Chambers)

        Most other religions require some form of effort and payment, and maybe I’ll make it to their final place. How much do I owe? How do I know I’ve paid enough?

        Jesus Christ did not come to make bad men good He came to make dead men alive! Glorious!

        • Greg G.

          Most other religions require some form of effort and payment,

          If that is in response to “Think about why you reject all the other religions, and you’ll understand why I reject yours”, you missed a few verses on works.

          Mark 10:21-22
          21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

          Do you still have a computer or smart phone? It would be a shame for you to miss out on heaven over that one thing.

        • Testmeandsee

          Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself … the rich young ruler replies “i have done these things” Our Lord replies, “yet one thing you lack” You trust in your riches, your independence, your self sufficiency. God is the source and He provides resources.

          Works do not save me. The blood of Jesus paid the price for sin. His sanctifying work in me produces the good effects, no greed, no lust, no lies …
          Goodness, kindness, etc.

          If I say I have no sin, I am a liar, there is only one thing I can take all the credit for, my sin. The justice for my sin would be the death that Jesus died. And the incarceration for my soul would have been eternal separation from the light and life of God. He died for me. Paid in full. WE ARE HIS TWICE, ONCE BECAUSE HE CREATED US, TWICE BECAUSE HE BOUGHT US. <

        • adam

          …..

        • Greg G.

          That’s one interpretation. There are over 40,000 Christian denominations because of different interpretations. Some believe what you believe on that point, some don’t. Some Christian believe the Pastorals were written much later after Paul was dead and that three other epistles were forged in his name. They believe the Holy Spirit speaks to them and they are just as confident as you are. Either the Holy Spirit is lying to some of you, is lying to all of you, or you all are using an unreliable method where you are all imagining the voices in your head are God.

        • Kodie

          According to the bible, you can’t take credit for your sin.

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

          Jesus died? Not really. He’s up in heaven right now, isn’t he?

          That’s not “died.”

        • MNb

          “Works do not save me. The blood of Jesus paid the price for sin. His sanctifying work in me produces the good effects, no greed, no lust, no lies …Goodness, kindness.”
          Goodness and kindness are works and hence don’t save you. You can be a greedy, lustful liar as much as you want, according to your own atonement doctrine you will be OK as long as you confess, repent and put your fate into Jesus’ hands, exactly because his blood has paid the price for more evil you can even imagine, let alone commit. Jesus’ blood gives you a blanco cheque to do indulge all your sins and more.
          That’s why pedophile priests fear human justice, not divine justice.

        • Pofarmer

          “God could forgive people in no other way than by the death of His Son,”

          Why?

        • Testmeandsee

          Because He is just. Heb 9:22 without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Back in Genesis, God made a covering of skins for Adam and Eve. All through OT blood sacrifices for the atonement of sin, including Abraham’s offering up of Isaac are all types and shadows of Jesus Christ coming as a saviour/redeemer for mankind.

          God has a judicial system. God’s justice requires payment, a pure, perfect, unspotted sacrifice. He paid the requirement Himself. Sending himself in Christ Jesus to die for sin of man. Because the requirement is met and in effect, God now can say, I grant you mercy, i pardon your sin, accept my offer, my gift.

          <

        • Greg G.

          How do you know it is really God and not the devil? A devil could imitate voices in your head and you couldn’t know the difference.

          The ancients thought blood was magical. They didn’t know where the sun went at night.

          There is no reason to take your religion seriously.

          http://www.jesusandmo.net/strips/2015-07-15.png

        • Testmeandsee

          If there is no God there is no devil … Discernment isn’t the difference between wrong and right, but rather right and almost right.

          and, man began to call (profane) the name of the Lord. Life is in the blood. The ancients did offer blood sacrifices to their god, human blood. Profaning and perverting all that God called Holy. <

        • Kodie

          You’re the one who believes in god. How do you know you’re not tricked into certain “discernment” from the devil instead? The rest of us know it’s neither – it’s just humans believing other humans and finding whatever they hear fits or doesn’t fit into what they already think is true. The same goes for us, by the way. What you, a human, says is no match for reality. Discerning that you are a fraud, even an unwitting one, is easy. How much money have you given to your church?

        • MNb

          Exactly! We don’t believe in the devil either. How smart of you.

        • Greg G.

          What if God is wrong and just lies about the devil who may actually be the good one? How would you know if you only believe the one who lies? If you judge the liar by the liar’s standards, then the liar will be the best. The omnipotent has the power to deceive.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Dys

          If God is perfectly merciful, he cannot by definition be perfectly just, and vice versa. They’re mutually exclusive. Plus substitutionary atonement is immoral (and not possible; moral wrongs aren’t monetary debts) anyway.

        • Testmeandsee

          http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/mercy-and-justice

          Immoral: implies a standard

          Mutually exclusive: or held in tension?

          Like the sovereignty of God and Freewill.

          A truth cannot be contradicted.

          “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily … Jesus, Christianity is not a forced belief, we have been given the dignity of freewill, He does not force us to love Him or obey, and free to reject His gift. <

        • Kodie

          The standard is the golden rule. God as described in the bible and excused in events biblical, historical, and contemporary as attributed to god, by Christian apologists, regularly violates the golden rule.

          Why is it ok if parents disobey god and take away their children’s “free will”? Why do Christians always take up the cause of their abuser and threaten non-believers at the very least that they need to believe and repent, or else? That’s not free will. If there is a tyrant, we should have completely free will, which means obvious and undeniable access to his existence, so that we may know him. It is not “free will” to choose to believe in something that might exist when we don’t know. It is not “free will” to decide that thing that might exist does not exist, simply because we can’t find out, except from hearsay and attribution. I want the total free will to deny a god that really exists, not just the free will to deduce that you, a human telling tales, are full of shit.

        • Dys

          Interestingly enough, your link doesn’t address what I pointed out. If God is merciful, then by definition he can’t be perfectly just. So yes, perfect mercy and perfect justice are mutually exclusive.

          Immoral: implies a standard

          Yes, ‘immoral’ does imply a standard. It just doesn’t require a deity to arrive at.

          Like the sovereignty of God and Freewill.

          The existence of either is highly questionable.

          A truth cannot be contradicted.

          Well, since the bible contradicts itself, and Christianity has been contradicted, we can say neither of them is true.

        • Ron

          From the link:

          The author (John M. Njoroge) states:

          The biblical solution to this conundrum is uniquely ingenious in both logical and relational terms. It was at the Cross of Jesus where God’s justice was perfectly administered and his eternal mercy publicly displayed when God took upon Himself the punishment meant for the guilty. The perfect, sinless, infinitely just God devised the means whereby sinful, guilty human beings could be justly reconciled to God without an ounce of guilt being swept under the carpet.

          How does killing an innocent person constitute justice?

          To put it in context: would you have been satisfied and called it “justice” if the state of Texas had executed your grandmother instead of the woman (Karla Fay Tucker) convicted of double homicide?

        • Pofarmer

          But, it wasn’t just an innocent person. it was God killing himself.

        • MNb

          “A truth cannot be contradicted.”
          Yep. What you write can be and has been contradicted hence you don’t offer any truth.

        • Greg G.

          <]><

        • Testmeandsee

          Explain …

        • Kodie

          It looks like he is rejecting your “gift”.

        • Greg G.

          I was trying to make a bigger fish eating your fish. The HTML is too limited to do much. Just a Disqus experiment.

        • William Davis

          God’s justice requires payment, a pure, perfect, unspotted sacrifice.

          I just so happens that this sacrifice served as a great meal for the Jewish priests. I’m sure this is purely coincidence 😉

        • Testmeandsee

          Not coincidence. Requirement. Not just for the priests. Levitical ordinances and ceremonial. A type and shadow of the ultimate, once and for all sacrifice Messiah, Jesus Christ crucified. <

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you got the joke. It still happens to this day – not only did Jesus come to liquidate the burnt offerings system, retail businesses mark the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve as the profit-turning portion of the year. They spend, according to legend, 10.75 months of the year in the red, until people go apeshit to celebrate your lord’s birthday by buying stuff nobody needs. And if we didn’t do that, the economy would tank.

        • adam

          //

        • Kodie

          It’s poorly planned, so not perfect. Sorry, deal with it.

        • Pofarmer

          Lemme get this straight. In order to forgive you for something you did, you have to kill something that didn’t do anything. And this pleases God, and then God forgives you, because an innocent victim dies.

        • Testmeandsee

          YES

        • Kodie

          And you don’t recognize how fucked up that is?

        • Pofarmer

          How is killing something, for something you did, in any way related to Justice?

        • MR

          It brings to mind the Aztecs: sacrificing innocent victims to appease their god. We call that barbaric. Why does Abraham get a pass for being willing to sacrifice his son, but not Deanna Laney for murdering her children for God? Had Abraham had access to adequate medical care, would Christianity even exist today?

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

          Most other religions require some form of effort and payment, and maybe I’ll make it to their final place. How much do I owe? How do I know I’ve paid enough?

          Great questions, but don’t pretend that the way to the Christian heaven is any easier. Remember the part about the road being narrow? And about the 144,000 people who make it into heaven?

          I’m betting that hundreds of millions of Christians have drunk the Kool-Aid but are still anxious about their standing. Were they pious enough? Did they believe strongly enough? Was their faith up to snuff?

        • Testmeandsee

          Who are that 144,000 and who are the multitudes of tribes and tonges and nations? And, they overcame them by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.

          Check yourself to see if you are in the faith. Believe I am He?

          and, yes, it is the hardest road, not because the attributes are difficult, but because humans by nature do not like to submit, as in Honor to, and in position.

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

          It’s not obvious that I’m not in the faith? I’m pretty sure I’m not.

          Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

          I don’t think that includes me. I doubt it includes you, either.

          Sorry, bro.

        • adam

          “1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all
          acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of
          whom I am chief.””

        • William Davis

          The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in history of the very mind and intent of God. There is no place for seeing Jesus Christ as a martyr. His death was not something that happened to Him— something that might have been prevented. His death was the very reason He came.

          The oldest gospel, Mark, directly contradicts this. It’s something God did to Jesus. Mark 14

          32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba,[h] Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”

          If Jesus was God, he should have known everything. Not only did he not know for sure he came to die, he pleads with God to not kill him, and even says with God all things are possible. Like I said, it’s in direct contradiction to your view, and the view of most Christians.

    • MNb

      “We don’t believe God, we don’t honor Him as Creator, we won’t worship him as God.”
      Indeed, I don’t. Why would I?

      “I would like to confidently say that God, Israel, the bible and Jesus Christ, is a “mystery or myth” only to those who refuse to accept what God has clearly and coherently revealed.”
      In other words: you first have to believe, then you’ll be convinced christianity is true.

      “Let us be confident in the fact, and boldly proclaim, that there are no contradictions in God’s word.”

      Gen. 3:16 says that female fertility is a divine punishment.
      Gen. 20:18 says that female infertility is a divine punishment.

      That’s quite a contradiction.

      Matth. 5:39 says “turn the other cheek.”
      Matth. 21:12 describes how Jesus did not turn his other cheek.

      “Let us live as though we truly believe that there is a holy God to appear before some Day.”
      Matth. 23:36 “All these things shall come upon this generation.”

      Well, that generation has been gone since more than 19 centuries. So yours is not the best advise ever given.

    • adam

      ..
      ..

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

        Like elbow deodorant.

        (I’ve got cases of the stuff in my garage! Now, if I could only convince people that smelly elbows is an actual problem …)

        • adam

          Elbow deodorant is now one of my favorites…

          Thanks

    • Dys

      Adam’s sin, rejecting God’s commandment, plunged all of creation into chaos.

      It’s incredibly immoral to hold all of humanity responsible for one person’s trespass.

      • Testmeandsee

        And you still reject Him like Adam

        • Dys

          But according to Christian mythology, it’s not my fault, but an immoral curse passed on from Adam due to an even I had absolutely nothing to do with.

          And I don’t reject God like Adam – Adam definitively believed in God. I don’t.

        • Kodie

          “Reject” =/= “find no evidence”. Please accept that you’re a fallible human with no credibility.

    • Kodie

      God doesn’t speak or reveal. All your information, including your favored interpretation of it, came from another person. Your choice is to devote your life to the version of the story you like best from another person.

  • Testmeandsee

    Let’s go back to the premise that there is no GOD and this PENTATEUCH, TORAH, BIBLE is a just a wonderfilled, diaobalical concoction of, violent and atrocious behavior, an amazing collaboration of extraordinary fiction, yet describes human nature at its worst. If all the slander attributed to God is placed instead on mankind,
    man never had good intentions and is not capable of good intentions. It’s fact, a hungry woman will eat her baby. A man will kill and steel to satisfy his needs and his wants …

    God did not kill people in genocides, disease, tsunamis, floods or earthquakes …. fate, they were all in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sounds like an innocent in a drug raid.

    … so God did say, “Adam don’t eat.” Adam says, “I will eat.” “Adam you’ll die.” “No I won’t die.” (my eyes will be opened and I will KNOW experiencially and I will DECIDE for myself what is good and what is evil.) Adam became an Athiest, he did not believe God and …

    Adam died..

    • Dys

      God did not kill people in genocides, disease, tsunamis, floods or earthquakes …. fate, they were all in the wrong place at the wrong
      time. Sounds like an innocent in a drug raid.

      And Adam didn’t live to be 930 years old either. There’s a phrase which sums it up the natural disasters quite nicely – “shit happens”. It’s only the desire for post hoc rationalizations that leads to the “everything happens for a reason” nonsense.

      Except according to the bible, Adam wasn’t ever an atheist at all, he just disobeyed the god he believed in. You can’t even get the story in your own book right.

      Adam died..

      Setting aside the fact that Adam didn’t really exist, the fact that he died isn’t special. Every single person who has ever lived (including Jesus, if he actually existed) has died.

      • Testmeandsee

        We die …

        • Dys

          Yep, everyone dies. It’s a fact of life. I hope this isn’t breaking news to you.

        • Kodie

          Rational people accept reality, and irrational people invent a fantasy.

        • adam

          Everything dies, even ‘gods’

        • MNb

          Yes. So what?

    • Greg G.

      The Adam in the Genesis story never was an atheist. An atheist is someone who doesn’t believe there is a god. Not believing a god is not the same as not believing a god exists.

      If god was omnipotent, he could ensure the safety of everybody in or near a natural disaster. You are trying to make excuses for him.

      People will do desperate things in desperate times. Some people are desperate a lot. The god hypothesis doesn’t explain anything better than that.

      • Testmeandsee

        Well, you get the point of the story though … consequences.

        • Kodie

          I only see an abuser making an arbitrary instruction and then testing his victims. And then punishing everyone on earth because he is so insecure!

        • adam

          What consequences, YOUR ‘god’ put a loaded gun in front of two toddlers and then blamed THEM for shooting the gun at each other..

        • Greg G.

          Why is there suffering? What can suffering do that God cannot do without the suffering?

    • adam

      So YOUR ‘god’ places a loaded gun in front of two innocent toddlers who knew nothing of death, nothing of evil, nothing of consequences..

      And THEN BLAMES the innocent toddlers when one shoots the other.

      Why call it ‘god’ indeed……

      • Testmeandsee

        That’s a two-edged sword … you are the one who says he’s cruel. You believe God is cruel, mean, wicked, unreasonable. If he gave us 100 ways to be forgiven we’d ask for another way. I will not come this way, i would rather die in sin then bow and ask for forgiveness.

        What is it that you want God to do? Wipe the slate clean for our mistake? Solve all of our problems. When a man see’s he is heading down a wrong road, the sooner he turns around the sooner he gets to his right destination. God in Christ rehabilitating mankind to Himself, forgiving his sin. When Christ died on the cross He wasn’t just dying for a moral reason He went through death, rose again, reclaiming His entire creation.

        I am living on the same planet, if you can’t see the acceleration and frequency of desctruction and choas you are blind. All your questions do have answers and a purpose. Redemption! <

        • Kodie

          You sound like an apologist for your abuser, and your task is to get other victims for your abuser to take the heat off of you. What you describe looks really self-interested, selfish, arrogant, vain, and sick. How do you expect reasonable people to agree with you, a person, with no evidence that anything is actually at stake?

        • adam

          ///

        • MNb

          “You believe God is ….”
          Eh no. Adam is an atheist, which means he only believes one thing concerning god: that he doesn’t exist.

          “All your questions do have answers and a purpose.”
          OK. Why made your god Joseph Fritzl forget to lock the basement after 24 years of raping his daughter Elizabeth iso say three weeks? What was the purpose of that prolonged suffering?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritzl_case

    • Kodie

      The human animal is capable of a wide variety of emotions and deeds, many of them are in our best interest and many are not. Deal with it.

    • MNb

      Yes. And what’s wrong with that? That it doesn’t make your underbelly feel cozy and warm?

  • Testmeandsee
    • MNb

      I don’t care what the pope says.

  • Testmeandsee

    Substitution

    “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

    Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 2:18-25

    Of this God in Christ, our text says that he knew no sin. It does not say that he did not sin; that we know: but it says more than that; he did not know sin; he knew not what sin was. He saw it in others, but he did not know it by experience. He was a perfect stranger to it. It is not barely said, that he did not take sin into his heart, but he did not know it. It was no acquantance of his. He was the acquaintance of grief; but he was not the acquaintance of sin. He knew no sin of any kind,—no sin of thought, no sin of birth, no original, no actual transgression; no sin of lip, or of hand, did ever Christ commit. He was pure, perfect, spotless; like his own divinity, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. This gracious person, is he who is spoken of in the text. He was a person utterly incapable of committing anything that was wrong. It has been asserted lately, by some ill-judged one, that Christ was capable of sin. I think it was Irving who started some such idea, that if Christ was not capable of sinning, he could not have been capable of virtue. “For,” say they, “if a man must necessarily be good, there is no virtue in his goodness.” Away with their ridiculous nonsense! Is not God necessarily good? And who dares deny that God is virtuous? Are not the glorified spirits in heaven necessarily pure? And yet are they not holy because of that very necessity? Are not the angels, now that they are confirmed, necessarily faultless? And shall any one dare to deny angelic virtue! The thing is not true; it needs no freedom in order to create virtue. Freedom and virtue generally go together; but necessity and virtue are as much brother and sister as freedom and virtue. Jesus Christ was not capable of sin.

    : It would have been awful for the sinless Christ to suffer just for one sin of one man. But for him to suffer for all the sins of a countless multitude past, present and future must have been appalling beyond all imagination. How God must hate sin! How he must love poor sinners! Did Christ die for you (Galatians 2:20)?

    • Kodie
    • Dys

      The bible isn’t an authority.

    • Greg G.

      He was a person utterly incapable of committing anything that was wrong.

      If God could make Jesus that way, why couldn’t he have made Adam that way?

      Is not God necessarily good?

      If there was a god, it could be good or bad, or both good and bad, or indifferent. There is no reason that it would be necessarily good. By what standard do you judge your god to be good? Just because you believe that he says he is good? That would be two failures of logic in one step.

      If God can’t simply forgive sin, he has a mental problem. You can’t say he is omnipotent if he cannot. Sin is a failure to obey God. Is God so immature that he will punish people eternally for not getting his way?

      What a silly religion!

      • MR

        I’ll save you from drowning, but first you have to swear you love me.

      • Brother Lawrence

        Logic flaw; you put forward an assumption that God exists, then attempt to demonstrate the falsity of such by abusing Him when He doesn’t do something YOU think He should. You elevate yourself to God level by doing this; you give yourself absolute authority of your personal opinion. But isn’t this what you mock; absolute authority and power? By mocking Him, then equating your powers of authority with that of His, you end up mocking yourself. You fall on the sword of relativism. If you deny such is the case, then no one should have any faith in your argument as it is not absolutely true.

        Anyway wanting to be as God is why Satan was booted out of Heaven. It is also the cause of Adam’s original sin, “I (me, myself) will decide what is right and wrong”. This business of I am right, my truth is correct, your truth is correct, everyone’s truth is correct; I am a god; this morally bankrupt, logically incoherent moral relativistic mess is most likely a reason for why God provides a place for such a soul to go at death. Such a soul would just not be right in God’s presence. From what I understand, Hell is where souls end up if ppl do not want a relationship with God. It is a place for people who would not be happy in Heaven with God.
        Joshua 24:15 “if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve”.

        Without the intermediary of Christ between such a soul and God, they would not be able to withstand God’s fiery Presence; it would be, well,… just like Hell.

        • Greg G.

          Logic flaw; you put forward an assumption that God exists, then attempt to demonstrate the falsity of such by abusing Him when He doesn’t do something YOU think He should. You elevate yourself to God level by doing this; you give yourself absolute authority of your personal opinion.

          Your god sure is touchy. I would expect an omnipotent, benevolent being to be more magnanimous than that.

          Why not take a swing at the question. If God could make a sinless Jesus, why not just make a sinless Adam?

        • Brother Lawrence

          You are doing it again; the moment you say “I would expect” is you making up a god instead of understanding the God of the Bible. Yes He is my God; He is everyone’s God. Plenty of Bible lessons on the Web to bring you up to speed friend before we continue to discuss our God.

        • Greg G.

          Is your god omnipotent? Is your god benevolent? If he is benevolent, he would prevent unnecessary suffering. If he is omnipotent, he can stop unnecessary suffering and all suffering is unnecessary. If he could have made Jesus instead of Adam, we wouldn’t need theology or theologians.

          If he accidentally made a flawed Adam, he is not omnipotent. If he intentionally made a flawed Adam, it is his fault and he owes everyone who ever lived an apology.

        • Brotehr Lawrence

          You make too many assumptions. Who says your standards are the same as everyone elses or even God’s? In fact the moral relativism you must hold as an atheist leads you into contradictions as you must accept everyone elses truths as correct as well as your own. Gotta go now. Nice chatting with you gentlemen but I have no further time for this activity which leads no where.

        • Greg G.

          Those are not assumptions. They follow from the definitions of the words commonly used to describe the Christian god.

          You have been deceived. I can consider the next person’s morality to be wrong under moral relativism. The Bible condones slavery and I consider that wrong for that time and for this time, for example. It is amusing to watch Christians try to defend it with obvious lies they have been told.

          I can’t say I have read all your posts here but I haven’t seen you describe your god, only question other statements about the subject. Is your god belief so amorphous that you have to run away when you are asked about it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is your god belief so amorphous that you have to run away when you are asked about it?

          Given that I know that you know the answer to that question is a big fat YES…and the loving brother has run away after shooting from the hip, I’m going to assume it was a rhetorical question.

        • Greg G.

          How did I know that? I must have the Holy Spirits giving me the power of revealed prophecy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are a visionary, that’s why.

        • MNb

          “as you must accept everyone elses truths as correct”
          You are the one who contradicts himsef – and you do so to uphold a strawman. According to moral relativism there are no moral truths that can be correct or incorrect. There are opinions. They can differ – and they totally do in daily life. Abortion anyone?

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

          Who says your standards are the same as everyone elses or even God’s?

          Sure, God might have an unintelligible morality, but we don’t start with that assumption.

          In fact the moral relativism you must hold as an atheist leads you into contradictions as you must accept everyone elses truths as correct as well as your own.

          Wrong again.

          I have no further time for this activity which leads no where.

          That’s a damning admission! But, yeah.

        • TheNuszAbides

          You make too many assumptions.

          it must seem so, but for some of us “god did it” is a wholly inadequate core assumption.

        • MNb

          If words like omnipotent, omnivolent and omniscient are meaningless to you you’re correct.

          “He is everyone’s God.”
          Nope. Not mine. Just like you are not my friend.

        • Brother Lawrence

          I love you brother

        • MNb

          Creepy.
          But if you are sincere withdraw the nonsensical “He is everyone’s God.” If you don’t you confirm that you’re not only creepy, but also disingenuous. And then I’d rather be saved from your love than from my sins. If you do I must start taking you seriously.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the infinitely mysterious Almighty enjoys condemningchallenging its creations. Jesus-too-soon would have been infinitely mysteriously boring.

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

          attempt to demonstrate the falsity of such by abusing Him when He doesn’t do something YOU think He should.

          Problem?

          On this planet, we humans do our imperfect best to evaluate claims. Might we make a mistake in evaluating the God claims? Yes. Might there actually be a god even though the evidence points there? Sure, but no honest seeker of the truth starts with that presupposition.

          Perhaps you do things differently where you come from.

          You elevate yourself to God level by doing this

          God? Does this God exist? Show us. Until then, keep your hypothetical god to yourself.

          you give yourself absolute authority

          … I don’t think it’s the atheist in this conversation who makes any reference to absolute anything.

          no one should have any faith in your argument as it is not absolutely true.

          You live in a bizarre black and white world. Your world is filled with claims that are either absolutely true or absolutely false? Weird.

          Anyway wanting to be as God is why Satan was booted out of Heaven

          That was Satan 2.0.

          Read Job to see how he was initially interpreted.

          It is also the cause of Adam’s original sin

          Adam had the morals of a baby, and God is going to judge him on his morality? Kinda stupid when you think about it.

          this morally bankrupt, logically incoherent moral relativistic mess

          Lots of claims there with no evidence. I think your world with its objectively correct morality doesn’t exist. Show otherwise.

          From what I understand, Hell is where souls end up if ppl do not want a relationship with God

          Then you understand wrongly. Go and reread the story of Lazarus and the rich man.

          Without the intermediary of Christ between such a soul and God, they would not be able to withstand God’s fiery Presence; it would be, well,… just like Hell.

          Wrong again. Remember when God dropped by Abram’s place for a chat? Or when Moses and God hung out together (Ex. 33:11)?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Wrong again. Remember when God dropped by Abram’s place for a chat?

          Went to Abe’s for dinner no less…maybe that’s where he got a scundering for goat and milk?

          http://www.thebricktestament.com/genesis/god_drops_by_for_a_meal/06_gn18_08-09.html

        • TheNuszAbides

          thanks for ‘scundering’, a new one for me. does it need elaboration here? : http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=scunder

        • Ignorant Amos

          A think that covers the definitions.

          In the context of my comment I’ve used it as a deep sickening. Revolting say.

        • TheNuszAbides

          revoltingment! revulsion?

        • TheNuszAbides

          Anyway wanting to be as God is why Satan was booted out of Heaven

          That was Satan 2.0.

          is that particular tale coaxed out of Revelation? is there an earlier form of it on record? for a while someone had me convinced that Milton came up with it all by himself.

  • Testmeandsee

    Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

    New Living Translation
    Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.

    English Standard Version
    But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.

    New American Standard Bible
    But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.

    King James Bible
    Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    Holman Christian Standard Bible
    Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.

    International Standard Version
    Jesus answered them, “You are mistaken because you don’t know the Scriptures or God’s power,

    NET Bible
    Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God.

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English
    Yeshua answered and he said to them, “You do err, because you do not understand the scriptures, neither the mighty works of God.

    GOD’S WORD® Translation
    Jesus answered, “You’re mistaken because you don’t know the Scriptures or God’s power.

    Jubilee Bible 2000
    Then Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God.

    King James 2000 Bible
    Jesus answered and said unto them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    American King James Version
    Jesus answered and said to them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    American Standard Version
    But Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    And Jesus answering, said to them: You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

    Darby Bible Translation
    And Jesus answering said to them, Ye err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God.

    English Revised Version
    But Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    Webster’s Bible Translation
    Jesus answered and said to them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    Weymouth New Testament
    The reply of Jesus was, “You are in error, through ignorance of the Scriptures and of the power of God.

    World English Bible
    But Jesus answered them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

    Young’s Literal Translation
    And Jesus answering said to them, ‘Ye go astray, not knowing the Writings, nor the power of God;

    • Kodie
    • Dys

      Just because the bible says it, doesn’t make it true.

    • Greg G.

      What specific scripture was Jesus referring to in that verse? The question the Sadducees were asking refers to Tobit 3:7-8 but Tobit doesn’t contain the answer to the question. Paul talks about the resurrection of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:35-50, Philippians 3:20-21, and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 but those would have been written long after Pilate was out of office, so Jesus could not have meant them and they don’t anser that question. Jesus goes on to quote Exodus 3:6 but it doesn’t answer the question.

      So which scriptures from the early first century say that people neither marry nor are given in marriage in the resurrection? Which scriptures say that the resurrected will be like angels in heaven?

  • MarkAnthony

    If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have?
    Maybe, its by design? Maybe God leaves it to us to choose to believe or not? What if He doesn’t want to force people to follow.
    You cant force a lover or a child to love you.

    • Dys

      If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have?

      According to the Bible, Satan knows God exists and still disobeyed. So the “no choice” argument is dismantled by Christianity’s own theology.

      Maybe, its by design? Maybe God leaves it to us to choose to believe or not?

      Beliefs aren’t choices. People are persuaded or compelled to a belief, but they don’t pick them.

      You cant force a lover or a child to love you.

      Of course, you also wouldn’t condemn people you claim to love to eternal suffering for choosing not to reciprocate either…

      • MarkAnthony

        Exactly, Satan has no choice, he believes.

        “Beliefs aren’t choices”, so do you choose to believe that?

        “Of course, you also wouldn’t condemn people you claim to love to eternal suffering for choosing not to reciprocate either…”
        Not sure what you mean? Like a medieval depiction of hell?

        • Dys

          Exactly, Satan has no choice, he believes.

          And still disobeys. The free will defense for divine hiddenness doesn’t hold up.

          “Beliefs aren’t choices”, so do you choose to believe that?

          No, obviously. That’s like pretending you can deflate arguments against free will by asking if someone decided to offer the argument in the first place. It completely avoids the issue by offering a shallow, canned response. Can you honestly choose to believe the moon is made of marshmallows?

          Not sure what you mean? Like a medieval depiction of hell?

          Plenty of Christians out there still really love and believe that medieval depiction. Annihilationism is a pretty minority view in Christianity, even though it’s the closest to what probably happens to everyone. What particular view do you take of the fictional place?

        • MarkAnthony

          The question is in relation to Satan’s belief, why do you bring his obedience into the conversation?

          I have no idea about hell, the medieval view is really scary though and I just don’t hear it in the teaching of Jesus

        • Dys

          The question is in relation to Satan’s belief, why do you bring his obedience into the conversation?

          Because it makes the point that just knowing that God exists doesn’t force anyone to follow him, or love him. Ergo, trying to use free will as an excuse for why God stays hidden doesn’t work. It winds up just being a post hoc rationalization to preserve faith – a convenient excuse for a lack of evidence.

        • MarkAnthony

          The question was never about obedience. Here it is again, “If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have?” By choice I am referring to belief in existence, not sure how this has anything to do with obedience.

          I am not saying I am right, I could be wrong!

          My question is about freewill. Is it truly freewill if we have 100% proof that God exists?

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

          If we were neighbors, I’d have 100% proof that you exist. Where’s the problem? Why does that challenge free will?

        • MarkAnthony

          So you’d know beyond any shadow of a doubt that your neighbor exists, great and that’s my point. If you know your neighbor exists the luxury of a freewill is out the door. You cant question existence if you know your neighbor is there. Or can you?

          Like I said, I may be wrong on this.

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

          I would know my neighbor exists with as much confidence as my knowing anything. The option of disbelieving in his/her existence is now gone. That’s just life–I believe in the existence of zillions of things, and I can’t go back and un-believe that. That’s not a problem. Don’t pretend it would be if I knew that God existed.

          That God is hidden is an enormous clue that he actually doesn’t exist.

        • MarkAnthony

          So does knowledge exist if it’s ‘hidden’ from you?

        • Susan

          So does knowledge exist if it’s ‘hidden’ from you?

          No. You can’t call it “knowledge” if it’s hidden from you.

          Let’s begin with the idea that when we say “knowledge”, we are saying “justified true belief”.

          If it’s hidden, we can’t justify it. We can’t test it as a truth claim. All you have left is unjustified, not necessarily true belief.

          That’s not what is generally referred to as ‘knowledge”.

        • Dys

          Although it could possibly be knowledge to someone else, if it’s not hidden from them. But when it comes to God, that gets into the inherent problem with divine revelation…it only counts as a revelation to the person who actually received it. After that, it’s hearsay.

        • Susan

          it could possibly be knowledge to someone else, if it’s not hidden from them

          .

          Possibly. But they’d have to show it to call it knowledge.

          That’s why I used a fairly standard definition of what we generally mean by “knowledge”. Not one I made up out of thin air.

          Notice that Mark hasn’t acknowledged that WLC isn’t a historian?

          How do they know what is or isn’t hidden from them?

          If they can’t even acknowledge the obvious?

        • Dys

          Right…I just meant that they’d be justified in calling it personal knowledge, but it wouldn’t qualify as knowledge to anyone else

          Notice that Mark hasn’t acknowledged that WLC isn’t a historian?

          Not really…did he claim that he was somewhere? I may have missed it.

          My frustrations have come from what appears to be his thinking about philosophical topics that have been debated since ancient Greece for all of two minutes and thinking he’s resolved the issues. I tell him there’s more to it than he thinks (and give some pretty basic examples), but he appears happy with his initial 2 minute investment.

        • Susan

          I just meant that they’d be justified in calling it personal knowledge

          .

          No. It’s not knowledge if they can’t separate it from personal “belief’.

          They could only be justified in calling it “personal knowledge” if they can demonstrate reliably that they have “justified true belief”.

          They can only call it belief if they can’t make the distinction.

          So far, they can’t.

          Plain old belief does not pass as knowledge.

        • Dys

          Okay…maybe I’m misreading you. So here’s a hypothetical situation to hopefully explain where I’m coming from.

          A guy writes a letter to his girlfriend. He has personal knowledge that he’s written the letter, regardless of whether he shows it or tells anyone else about it. Now, if no one else knows about it, they couldn’t claim to have any knowledge of it. Only the initial person can.

          Now, if the guy wants people to believe him, certainly he would need to present the letter or provide some indication that it exists. But he does possess the knowledge that he wrote it regardless of any demonstration.

          Granted, however, that when it comes to supernatural beliefs and claims to knowledge, people’s idea of what’s justified and what’s not got straight down the proverbial toilet.

        • Susan

          maybe I’m misreading you.

          Probably not. We’re generally on the same page.

          He has personal knowledge that he’s written the letter, regardless of whether he shows it or tells anyone else about it

          What if he was dreaming?

          I’m not saying there can be no knowledge if he remembers doing it. Just that it can’t be called “knowledge” if he can’t justify it.

          Here’s another hypothetical scenario. A guy gets abducted and probed by a wandering spaceship. He has personal knowledge that he has been abducted and probed.

          Again, I’m not insisting the guy did not write the letter or that he didn’t get abducted and probed (the mundane case and the outrageous case are put side by side for a reason).

          A guy remembering doesn’t mean the guy is wrong. It also doesn’t mean it’s knowledge.

          it’s a guy remembering.

        • Dys

          I guess my hang up is that ‘justify’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘justify to others’.

        • MarkAnthony

          What have I resolved? I asked a question!

          I have also stated many times that I might be wrong.

        • Dys

          I’ve already pointed out the problems with your understanding of how beliefs are adopted and with free will, as simply as I know how. Most recently, I think I made it pretty clear how ridiculous the notion that we can just choose to believe whatever we like is.

          It’s frustrating because you don’t have any real objection to what I’ve said regarding belief or free will. Just “nah, I don’t think that’s right”. I can’t decide to believe the earth is flat any more than you can just decide to believe the moon is made out of marshmallow. Because that’s clearly not how beliefs are adopted.

        • MarkAnthony

          Do you believe what you have just written?

        • Dys

          Yep. And yet it wasn’t a decision. I’ve already tried to point you in the right direction on your errors. I’ve defended my position, but you don’t seem motivated to bother doing the same. Stop being lazy.

        • MarkAnthony

          Maybe your undecided weather you believe any decisions you make?

        • Dys

          So you’ve been reduced to stupidly trolling now. It’s a shame you don’t really care about the answers to the question you originally asked.

        • Greg G.

          Over the weekend, my wife and I wanted to go to an outdoor festival but our “undecided weather” made us decide to cancel our plans. I believe we made the right decision as a thunderstorm rolled through.

        • MarkAnthony

          “Notice that Mark hasn’t acknowledged that WLC isn’t a historian?”

          Pardon?

        • Susan

          Pardon?

          Apologies, Mark. I had the wrong person.

          I will edit accordingly.

        • MarkAnthony

          No problem

        • MarkAnthony

          Do you possess the knowledge of Stephen Hawking?

        • MarkAnthony

          Anybody????

        • MarkAnthony

          A-N-Y-B-O-D-Y?

          H-E-L-L-O

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

          Does 5 = 6? Hello? Anybody??

        • MarkAnthony

          So you have decided to believe my question “Do you possess the knowledge of Stephen Hawking?” equals “Does 5 = 6? Hello? Anybody??” ?

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

          Precisely. You asked a question to which you knew the answer. Just like me.

          If you want to make a point then do so.

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

          You’re changing the subject. Sounds like you’re asking if I think I have all knowledge.

          I showed how the free will argument is a meaningless objection to God’s letting us know that he exists.

        • MarkAnthony

          Who changed the subject?

          You claim “That God is hidden is an enormous clue that he actually doesn’t exist.”

          I responded “So does knowledge exist if it’s ‘hidden’ from you?”

          Com’on, play fair,

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

          You said, “If you know your neighbor exists the luxury of a freewill is out the door” and I responded. Are you still saying that God giving us free will is some obstacle to his revealing his existence to us?

        • MarkAnthony

          I think I see a *cough* Red Herring *cough* to my last post.

          It’s just a question. If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have? Believe it or not, I am genuinely interested in the question. I am not claiming to know the answer.

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

          I am not claiming to know the answer.

          And I’m claiming that I do. If God made clear his existence to everyone in a way that that person would find convincing, we would all believe that he exists. That’s how belief works. No, we wouldn’t have the choice to believe that he doesn’t exist, just like I can’t believe my dog doesn’t exist (she does).

        • MarkAnthony

          Respectfully, your missing my point.
          And not sure why you haven’t answered my earlier question?

          However, are you saying all belief is based on being convincing?

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

          What question? “If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have?”?

          Already answered. If God appeared to everyone, we’d all know he exists. “God doesn’t exist” wouldn’t be an option anymore. But so what? Does this offend anyone?

          Belief is the response to evidence. I can’t disbelieve that Donald Trump exists, for example. It’s not a choice.

          Given that, what is your free will complaint?

        • MarkAnthony

          Do I take you seriously? You claim to know “the answer” yet cant complete the simple take of answering a question Iv’e asked you to about 4 times now.

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

          I’m too stupid to get your question right. Give it to me again.

          It’d better be good.

        • MNb

          It’s an irrelevant question. And your other question already has been ansered as well. You are the one who doesn’t play fair.

          “If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have?”
          Not getting along with him, ie not worshipping him. It’s goddam in your own Holy Book.

          Plus, I repeat, by posting on this blog you rob us from the option of not being aware that “Is there a god?” is an actual question. On behalf of your god you have robbed me from my free will. I don’t have the choice anymore to not know that there is such a question. If you cared as much about my free will as you claim your god does you would have kept that question hidden from all unbelievers by not posting on this blog.

        • MNb

          Knowledge the way I define it can’t be hidden by definition.
          We can say we have knowledge when

          1. we have collected a variety of empirical data and applied induction to them;
          2. plus we have a consistent and coherent theory, using deduction;
          3. plus that theory correctly describes those empirical data, ie the conclusions of induction and deduction are the same.

          We don’t know the name of the Unknown Soldier because we lack empirical data (they are hidden).
          We don’t have knowledge about superconductivity because we don’t have a theory that describes the phenomenon at relatively high temperatures (it’s hidden).

          These are known unknowns.
          There are also unknown unknowns.
          If nobody ever had asked “is there a god?” then it would have been an unknown unknown.
          But somebody like you did and denied that option to me, hence, according to your argument, robbed me from my free will. You’re an accomplice and as such violate your very own argument regarding the hidden god.

          Jesus, ie your god, gave his followers the Great Commission: to spread the word. Assuming that your god stays hidden from me because of my precious free will but is OK with making himself known to me by means of disciples (which robs me from my free will in exactly the same way) doesn’t make any sense. Your argument fails.

        • Greg G.

          I have had many neighbors over the years and knew they existed. I liked some of them and I didn’t like others depending on how annoying they were. But you seem to be implying that one must use one’s free will to be gullible. There’s a house down the street with a “For Sale” sign in the yard, a notice that has been hanging on the door for a while, no curtains in the windows, no car in the drive, and the grass hasn’t been mowed recently. Should I assume there is somebody living there and like them?

        • MarkAnthony

          You have just proved my point in a couple of different ways, Cheers.

        • Susan

          You have just proved my point in a couple of different ways.

          Excellent. He has accomplished something you haven’t since you got here.

          Now, show us how he did it.

          What was your point and what did Greg G. do to prove it?

          He asked you direct questions and you stated that he proved your point.

          Answer the questions and then show Greg G.’s work that leads us to your point.

          (What was your “point” again?)

        • MarkAnthony

          I sense a little hostility, thats not my intention.

          Greg had many neighbors and knew they existed, I would assume he has evidence and proof that he had these neighbors? So Greg didn’t have a choice in the matter, he had to believe and he couldn’t choose not to believe….My question is … “If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have?”

        • Susan

          I sense a little hostility

          None in my comment.

          Let’s go over this again:

          You told Greg:

          You have just proved my point in a couple of different ways.

          I asked you where he did something that you haven’t managed. This is your chance to show us rather than just make asinine claims.

          Then you said:

          Cheers.

          I didn’t bother to point out what seemed to be obviously intentional hostility there. Because 1) I could be wrong and 2) it’s irrelevant to your first point.

          I would assume he has evidence and proof that he had these neighbors?

          Very likely. Do you have neighbours?

          Greg didn’t have a choice in the matter, he had to believe and he couldn’t choose not to believe

          Not much choice when there’s evidence. Hard to ignore your very real neighbours and the evidence of them living in your area.

          My question is … “If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have?”

          If your neighbour appeared to your neighbourhood, what choice do you really have?

          “God” is a placeholder though. As a placeholder, I assume it would have the same initial effect as the existence of my neighbour, which is “Oh, look. A neighbour.”

          But that’s not what you mean, is it?

        • MarkAnthony

          “I sense a little hostility

          None in my comment.”

          I get the vibe, know what I mean?

          “Let’s go over this again:

          You told Greg:

          You have just proved my point in a couple of different ways.

          I asked you where he did something that you haven’t managed. This is your chance to show us rather than just make asinine claims.”

          Well I did. He can’t now not believe his neighbours exist after the fact.

          “Then you said:

          Cheers.

          I didn’t bother to point out what seemed to be obviously intentional hostility there. Because 1) I could be wrong and 2) it’s irrelevant to your first point.”

          Not hostile, just sarcastically thanking him for proving the point.

          “I would assume he has evidence and proof that he had these neighbors?

          Very likely. Do you have neighbours?”

          I have no idea how this is relevant, did you read my question?

          “Greg didn’t have a choice in the matter, he had to believe and he couldn’t choose not to believe

          Not much choice when there’s evidence. Hard to ignore your very real neighbours and the evidence of them living in your area.

          My question is … “If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have?”

          If your neighbour appeared to your neighbourhood, what choice do you really have?

          “God” is a placeholder though. As a placeholder, I assume it would have the same initial effect as the existence of my neighbour, which is “Oh, look. A neighbour.”

          But that’s not what you mean, is it?”

          No, my question is up on top. Just scroll up to it.

          Seriously, I don’t want to answer the same thing again and again.

          I asked a question for discussion.

        • Susan

          I get the vibe, know what I mean?

          Nope.

          Well I did. He can’t now not believe his neighbours exist after the fact.

          Do you have neighbours?

          Did you read my question?

          This one?

          If God appeared to everyone, what choice would we really have?

          If so, I addressed it. If you mean a different question, then it’s Disqus and I might have missed it.

          Restate it or click on the timestamp next to the original comment in which you asked it and paste it into the comment box in your next reply.

        • MarkAnthony

          “Nope.”
          That’s odd

          “Do you have neighbours?”
          Best to stick to the argument.

          “This one?”
          No

          Last time….”Seriously, I don’t want to answer the same thing again and again.

          I asked a question for discussion.”

        • Susan

          That’s odd.

          Only because you’ve decided to see hostility where someone respectfully engages you.

          I note that you haven’t even acknowledged that your claim that WLC is a historian is wrong.

          “This one?”

          No

          Last time….”Seriously, I don’t want to answer the same thing again and again.

          I didn’t ask you to answer it again. I asked you to post it again.

          It’s disqus. Comments get buried. That means that sometimes, one of us can’t find the orignal question.

          Either link it (see the timestamp instructions I suggested) or type it out again. It’s useful for documenting the question you think is relevant to the discussion and it would be helpful if I missed something that you wrote that you think is crucial to discussion.

          (It’s still important that you acknowledge that WLC is not a historian. You claimed he was and he isn’t.)

        • Dys

          He’s confusing a belief in whether one has neighbors or not as a choice to be made, when it’s not. I’ve tried to point this out to him, but all he responds with is silly “didn’t you decide to believe that?” or “I choose to not believe you”.

        • MarkAnthony

          Can you choose to believe the earth is flat?

        • Dys

          No, I can’t. Can you? Right now? Do you have the ability to treat your beliefs as light switches, where one end is flat earth and the other is spherical earth, and you can flip flop between them willy nilly?

          I mean, I could say I now believe the earth is flat, but it would be a lie. And unless you’re one of the flat earth loons, I suspect you’re actually in the same position.

        • Greg G.

          The point of Christianity is not to believe that God exists. There is much more to it than that.

          James 2:19 (NRSV)19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.

          There are many people who believe in God and are not Christians. Why would it matter if you chose to be a Christian with informed free will instead of gullible free will? Where does it address that in the Bible?

        • MNb

          “If you know your neighbor exists the luxury of a freewill is out the door.”
          Repeating the error does nothing to remedy it. Even if I know that my neighbor exists my free will to get along with them or not is not affected at all. Same for your god.
          If you were serious about your argument you would stop telling us that there is a god, stop playing the intermediary. By doing so you are robbing me as much from my free will as your god would if he contacted me directly. Thanks to you I’ll never be able again to not consider whether there is a god or not, just like I never will be able again to not consider that I don’t have a neighbor.

        • Herald Newman

          The only reason that it could possibly matter is if God somehow values belief without evidence, and that anything else isn’t good enough for God.

          The only people who have ever adequately explained why God requires this kind of faith are atheists. The answer is simple, there probably is no God.

        • Dys

          Ok, but your original comment mentioned both following God and choosing to love God, both of which are irrelevant to divine hiddenness.

          Since beliefs aren’t choices, there wouldn’t be one to make regarding God’s existence anyway, even presupposing free will is real. It would wind up with more people convinced of his existence I’m sure…of course, since his supposedly divine plan relies on people believing in him, you’d think he’d want more of them to do so.

          And depending on which Christians you listen to, the Holy Spirit is required to be saved anyway, which is an act of God, not the self. So free will is out of the picture in that scenario as well.

          No matter how you look at it, God’s divine plan shows a tremendous lack of foresight and logic.

        • MarkAnthony

          My original comment had nothing to do with either following or loving God?

          “Since beliefs aren’t choices”, did you choose to believe that statement?

          Sorry, I cant speak for “Christians” who believe that stuff.

          “No matter how you look at it, God’s divine plan shows a tremendous lack of foresight and logic”
          What is this “divine plan” you speak of?

        • Dys

          My original comment had nothing to do with either following or loving God?

          *Sigh* ok, then you need to reread your original comment…here’s a portion of your it:

          “What if He doesn’t want to force people to follow.
          You cant force a lover or a child to love you.

          So the implication from your original comment is that belief entailed loyalty and love. But neither of them are necessary even if one believes in God. So the free will defense for divine hiddenness doesn’t work.

          “Since beliefs aren’t choices”, did you choose to believe that statement?

          Again, no. I don’t want to insult you, but I already pointed out why your question fails to accomplish what you think it does. It shows that you don’t understand the point at all. Beliefs aren’t choices. Please decide to honestly believe the moon is made out of marshmallows if you think beliefs are choices. And then explain how you managed to do it. Don’t bother repeating the silly question – I’ve debunked it twice on you now.

          Sorry, I cant speak for “Christians” who believe that stuff.

          It’s a fairly significant portion of them, regardless. Putting Christian in quotes doesn’t make them not Christian either, btw. Please don’t try pulling the No True Christian stuff.

          What is this “divine plan” you speak of?

          Apparently you believe it involves divine hiddenness, which as I’ve shown, makes no sense.

        • MarkAnthony

          “My original comment had nothing to do with either following or loving God?

          *Sigh* ok, then you need to reread your original comment…here’s a portion of your it:

          “What if He doesn’t want to force people to follow.

          You cant force a lover or a child to love you.

          So the implication from your original comment is that belief entailed loyalty and love. But neither of them are necessary even if one believes in God. So the free will defense for divine hiddenness doesn’t work.”

          You are making implications that were far from the writers mind. My question has nothing to do with follow or love. Love was solely used as an example to illustrate that you can’t force someone to love you. However my question was about free will.

          “”Since beliefs aren’t choices”, did you choose to believe that statement?

          Again, no. I don’t want to insult you, but I already pointed out why your question fails to accomplish what you think it does. It shows that you don’t understand the point at all, and that you ignored my explanation. Beliefs aren’t choices; people are persuaded or compelled to belief. Please decide to honestly believe the moon is made out of marshmallows if you think beliefs are choices. And then explain how you managed to do it. Don’t bother repeating the silly question – I’ve debunked it twice on you now.”

          I choose to disagree with you… or hang on….I disagree with your choice 😉

          “Sorry, I cant speak for “Christians” who believe that stuff.

          It’s a fairly significant portion of them, regardless. Putting Christian in quotes doesn’t make them not Christian either, btw. Please don’t try pulling the No True Christian stuff.”

          How can I possibly speak for “Christians” or some “Christians”? I am speaking for myself.

          “What is this “divine plan” you speak of?

          Apparently you believe it involves divine hiddenness, which as I’ve shown, makes no sense.”

          You claim that “God’s divine plan shows a tremendous lack of foresight and logic”

          I am asking, what is the divine plan you are talking about?

        • Dys

          You are making implications that were far from the writers mind. My question has nothing to do with follow or love

          Then including them in your original comment doesn’t make much sense. But moving on…

          I choose to disagree with you… or hang on….I disagree with your choice 😉

          Disagree with me all you like, but I notice you punted on my little challenge. I think that says it all, and it’s a bit curious that you’re asking a question, receiving an answer to that question, and then showing absolutely no real interest in it. You disagree with my response, but you can’t actually say why beyond offering an easily debunked question that shows you haven’t considered the position at all.

          At no point did I choose my stance on God – I was originally indoctrinated to belief in God, and gradually was persuaded that belief was false. But those aren’t decisions. As such, your worry over free will in regards to god revealing himself removing a decision to be made is reduced to a false dilemma.

          I am asking, what is the divine plan you are talking about?

          It was just another way of referring to your divine hiddenness argument.

          Another problem with your argument is that it relies on the existence of free will, which is itself a highly questionable assumption.

        • MarkAnthony

          “You are making implications that were far from the writers mind. My question has nothing to do with follow or love

          Then including them in your original comment doesn’t make much sense. But moving on…”

          Before you move on, what didn’t make much sense in my original question?

          “I choose to disagree with you… or hang on….I disagree with your choice 😉

          Disagree with me all you like, but I notice you punted on my little challenge. I think that says it all, and it’s a bit curious that you’re asking a question, receiving an answer to that question, and then showing absolutely no real interest in it. You disagree with my response, but you can’t actually say why beyond offering an easily debunked question that shows you haven’t considered the position at all.

          At no point did I choose my stance on God – I was originally indoctrinated to belief in God, and gradually was persuaded that belief was false. But those aren’t decisions. As such, your worry over free will in regards to god revealing himself removing a decision to be made is reduced to a false dilemma.”

          Your claim “Since beliefs aren’t choices” doesn’t make much sense to me. I am sincere, maybe you could explain, as I am just not getting it?

          “I am asking, what is the divine plan you are talking about?

          It was just another way of referring to your divine hiddenness argument.”

          Fair enough :)

          “Another problem with your argument is that it relies on the existence of free will, which is itself a highly questionable assumption. And it’s not resolved with infantile “Didn’t you decide to do that” questioning.”

          Now that is the first statement that relates to my initial question! WooHoo

          How could you prove free will or not?

        • Dys

          Before you move on, what didn’t make much sense in my original question?

          If neither a willingness to follow God or deciding to love God are necessitated by accepting that a god exists, then there doesn’t seem to be much point in bringing either of them up in the first place.

          Your claim “Since beliefs aren’t choices” doesn’t make much sense to me.

          Between explaining my changing belief in the existence of God and the thought experiment I proposed, I don’t think there’s any way I can make the point clearer. We don’t choose what we find compelling or persuasive, things are either compelling/persuasive to us or they aren’t. Likewise, as I described above, we are compelled, persuaded, indoctrinated, etc. to belief, but we don’t actually choose them. There’s no actual choice in there to be made. The entire point of an argument is to persuade someone to a different belief; otherwise, debate and argument would be a completely pointless endeavor.

          Now that is the first statement that relates to my initial question! WooHoo

          My comments concerning the nature of belief also directly related to your initial question. Hopefully you’ll eventually realize that.

          How could you prove free will or not?

          To me, free will seems to be one of those things that people want to believe exists, and so go out of their way to ignore the evidence against it. And they spend an inordinate amount of time imagining the hellscape of what they imagine a non-free will existence would entail, and pretend that’s somehow evidence in support of free will.

          There are neuroscience experiments being done in this area that at least some actions are initiated at an unconscious level. But mostly, I think most people’s perception of free will relies heavily on the existence of a soul, which isn’t scientifically supported in the slightest. If there’s no magical spirit controlling meat puppets (and it doesn’t appear there is), the idea of free will becomes a bit harder to justify. At least the libertarian version of it, which is what most people think of when talking about free will.

        • MarkAnthony

          “If neither a willingness to follow God or deciding to love God are necessitated by accepting that a god exists, then there doesn’t seem to be much point in bringing either of them up in the first place.”

          My question is about the existence of God, only the existence. I didn’t bring up loving or following, you did.

          “Between explaining my changing belief in the existence of God and the thought experiment I proposed, I don’t think there’s any way I can make the point clearer. We don’t choose what we find compelling or persuasive, things are either compelling/persuasive to us or they aren’t. Likewise, as I described above, we are compelled, persuaded, indoctrinated, etc. to belief, but we don’t actually choose them. There’s no actual choice in there to be made. The entire point of an argument is to persuade someone to a different belief; otherwise, debate and argument would be a completely pointless endeavor.”

          I don’t agree at all. I don’t believe what you say here. That is a simple choice I made.

          “To me, free will seems to be one of those things that people want to believe exists, and so go out of their way to ignore the evidence against it. And they spend an inordinate amount of time imagining the hellscape of what they imagine a non-free will existence would entail, and pretend that’s somehow evidence in support of free will.

          There are neuroscience experiments being done in this area that at least some actions are initiated at an unconscious level. But mostly, I think most people’s perception of free will relies heavily on the existence of a soul, which isn’t scientifically supported in the slightest. If there’s no magical spirit controlling meat puppets (and it doesn’t appear there is), the idea of free will becomes a bit harder to justify. At least the libertarian version of it, which is what most people think of when talking about free will.”

          Wouldn’t having the ability to make a choice one way or another prove that you have a freewill?

        • Dys

          My question is about the existence of God, only the existence. I didn’t bring up loving or following, you did.

          They were both in your original comment. You brought them up, presumably for no purpose since they have nothing to do with your question by your own admission. Hence my confusion – why bring them up if they’re pointless to your question?

          I don’t agree at all. I don’t believe what you say here. That is a simple choice I made.

          No argument, nothing of any substance, just a weak “nuh uh”. What choice did you actually make? Not finding someone’s argument compelling isn’t a choice; it’s just something that happens or doesn’t. My failure to convince you doesn’t constitute a choice on your part. You disagree but have nothing whatsoever to offer as a response. It’s rather disappointing, honestly. Especially since it actually answers your divine hiddenness argument. I would suggest you read up on doxastic voluntarism/involuntarism because it doesn’t appear you understand how beliefs are adopted.

          Wouldn’t having the ability to make a choice one way or another prove that you have a freewill?

          How would you go about demonstrating that you actually have the ability? It’s actually quite a bit more difficult than you might imagine. There’s a reason the debate over free will hasn’t been settled by silly “didn’t you decide to do that” style questions like you tried to pose with my stance on how beliefs are formed. The usual example is a thought experiment: if you go back in time to when you made a decision, and literally everything is exactly the same, could you make a different decision? This means that you don’t have any of the knowledge of where your initial decision led. And if you answer ‘yes’, how do you justify it? Because just having a feeling that you could have chosen differently doesn’t demonstrate the ability to have done so.

        • MarkAnthony

          “They were both in your original comment. You brought them up, presumably for no purpose since they have nothing to do with your question by your own admission. Hence my confusion – why bring them up if they’re pointless to your question?”

          I didn’t bring them up or use them in the sense you did. If we are going to have a fair argument, please play fair.

          “No argument, nothing of any substance, just a weak “nuh uh”. What choice did you actually make? Not finding someone’s argument compelling isn’t a choice; it’s just something that happens or doesn’t. My failure to convince you doesn’t constitute a choice on your part. You disagree but you have nothing whatsoever to offer as a response is rather disappointing. Especially since it renders your divine hiddenness argument as irrelevant. I would suggest you read up on doxastic voluntarism/involuntarism because it doesn’t appear you understand how beliefs are formed at all.”

          You say “Since beliefs aren’t choices”. I choose to disagree. I don’t believe that statement. I think this is just so simple (no disrespect). I answer it over and over to show that it’s nonsensical. My answer to is shows this.

          “How would you go about demonstrating that you actually have the ability? It’s actually quite a bit more difficult than you might imagine.”

          I have a green apple and a red one, I can choose to have either. Seems really easy to me?

        • Dys

          I didn’t bring them up or use them in the sense you did.

          In any case, they’re completely irrelevant and have nothing whatsoever to do with your question and can therefore be ignored, yes. On a related note, I reread your original comment numerous times, and it doesn’t appear I misused them at all.

          You say “Since beliefs aren’t choices”. I choose to disagree. I don’t believe that statement.

          As I said, you haven’t really made a choice. You have a belief, haven’t found my arguments to the contrary compelling, and so haven’t been persuaded to a different belief. No choice made.

          I think this is just so simple (no disrespect).

          None taken, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not as simple as you think. If beliefs are truly choices, you should be able to choose to believe whatever silly nonsense you’d like to at the drop of a hat. Can you honestly do that? Because I’m fairly positive the answer is no.

          I answer it over and over to show that it’s nonsensical.

          All it really shows is that you haven’t really thought about it much at all. I’ve tried to provide a thought experiment making my point abundantly clear, but you’ve chosen to ignore it, which is beyond my control.

          I have a green apple and a red one, I can choose to have either. Seems really easy to me?

          Can you? How do you really know that? If free will is an illusion, you merely think you had a choice, when in reality you were always going to pick the apple you chose, and couldn’t have chosen differently. The debate over free will is far, far deeper than you think.

        • MarkAnthony

          “In any case, they’re completely irrelevant and have nothing whatsoever to do with your question and can therefore be ignored, yes?”

          If you want to ignore the very thing you brought up and used in the manner it was never intended PLEASE DO! I would encourage you to do so.

          Straw men are only helpful in fields.

          “None taken, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not as simple as you think. If beliefs are truly choices, you should be able to choose to believe whatever silly nonsense you’d like to at the drop of a hat. Can you honestly do that? Because I’m fairly positive the answer is no.”

          You can choose to believe the earth is flat. Doesn’t make your choice right, however you and I have the right to choose it if we desire.

          “Can you? How do you really know that? If free will is an illusion, you merely think you had a choice, when in reality you were always going to pick the apple you chose, and couldn’t have chosen differently. The debate over free will is far, far deeper than you think.”

          I put my cards on the table, let’s see yours?

        • Dys

          Straw men are only helpful in fields.

          It’s not a straw man. If neither a willingness to follow God or a need to love him are necessitated by belief in God, then they don’t have anything to do with your question. And since you’ve said they don’t, I have no idea why you brought them up. And that’s all I’ve said on the topic. So I’m confused why you constantly object to my trying to put them aside when, by your own admission, they don’t mean anything to your question.

          You can choose to believe the earth is flat.

          Can I? Just like that? I can blink my eyes, and suddenly decide to believe the earth is flat? I know I can’t. Can you? Can you flip flop back and forth, choosing to believe the earth is flat or spherical once a minute or so? Because if you’re being honest, I’m pretty positive the answer is no.

          I put my cards on the table, let’s see yours?

          My cards? I just pointed out the obvious flaw in your understanding of free will. Did you want something more than that? Thinking you have a choice isn’t the same thing as actually having one.

        • MR

          Can I? Just like that? I can blink my eyes, and suddenly decide to believe the earth is flat? I know I can’t. Can you? Can you flip flop back and forth, choosing to believe the earth is flat or spherical once a minute or so? Because if you’re being honest, I’m pretty positive the answer is no. But if beliefs were truly choices, you should be able to do it.

          Sometimes they can’t hear themselves.

        • Dys

          At least he finally gave me something to refute (silly as it is), instead of just mindlessly repeating “didn’t you decide to believe that?” He’s asking philosophical questions that require a lot more thought than what he’s bothered to invest so far.

          Hopefully shredding his attempt at “can’t you choose to believe x” finally made the point clear enough to him.

        • MarkAnthony

          Do you believe what you posted?

        • Ignorant Amos

          “I believe the moon is made of marshmallow”

          That’s a lie and I know it’s a lie so it is impossible for me to believe.

          Do I believe I wrote it? Well yes, because I know I did. I can’t un-believe I wrote it.

          “I believe there is a god in heaven called YahwehJesus who answers prayers”

          That’s a lie and I know it’s a lie so it is impossible for me to believe.

          Do I believe I wrote it? Well yes, because I know I did. I can’t un-believe I wrote it.

          you seem to be having all sorts of issues with this issue.

          Someone has already suggested that you learn what philosophers call “doxastic voluntarism”.

          A good example I’ve read…

          A form of doxastic voluntarism is presumed by Pascal’s Wager, which states that it is preferable to believe in God because of the potential outcomes. The wager presumes that God rewards belief just for the sake of belief, but it also requires one to have free rein to control whether they accept the Christian God or not. In practice, many people don’t find this to be the case. For example, an atheist can no more willingly and arbitrarily start believing in God than than they could believe that grass is a funny shade of orange. Similarly, committed believers cannot force themselves to disbelieve something. Because of the lack of perfect free will in this situation, Pascal’s attempt to coax people into belief through his wager falls at the first hurdle — someone could, at best, only “fake” their belief in God and not truly feel it.

          Now, don’t go getting confused with coerced belief like what cults do, or brainwashing, or drug effects, etc., those enforced beliefs don’t count.

        • MarkAnthony

          Did people believe the earth was flat?

        • Greg G.

          Yes.

        • MarkAnthony

          And did people chose to believe the earth was flat?

        • Greg G.

          No, it looked flat to them.

        • MarkAnthony

          So after they decided the earth “looked flat”, did they believe the earth was flat?

        • Greg G.

          They didn’t have to decide the earth looked flat because it did look flat to them. They believed the earth was flat because they had no reason to think otherwise.

        • Dys

          They didn’t ‘decide the earth looked flat’ – it looked flat to them. Observations are not choices either. You keep trying to shoehorn a decision in where none exists.

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

          “The earth is flat” is an excellent approximation for medium-range distances.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why indeed they did…why is that do you think people once believed the Earth was flat, rather than what is?

          Do you think that when people believed the Earth was flat it was a choice they made, in spite of the fact that the Earth is actually an oblate spheroid or oblate spheroid?

          What about later, when people believed it was no longer flat, but round. Do you think that was a choice they made, in spite of the fact that the Earth is actually an oblate spheroid?

          Of course the shape of the Earth is slightly more complicated that that.

          What shape do you believe the Earth to be? Why?

          One would have thought the incredible shrinking God of the buybull might have made the details clearer in the big book of instructions. When he was larger than life I mean. When he was narrating to those he was relying on to get the facts right, instead of describing a world that was flat.

          You do realise that today, those few that believe the Earth is flat in spite of the mountains of contrary evidence, are considered as bug nutty bat shit crazy, don’t ya? You don’t believe the Earth to be flat do ya Mark?

          Here, Isaac Azimov does a far more interesting job of an explanation than your invisible man in the sky.

          The Relativity of Wrong

          http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

        • Dys

          So it’s back to mindless replies after all. I’ve given up with you. The topics are quite clearly beyond your grasp, despite the very basic thought experiments I provided to you. Your replies reveal that you haven’t bothered to actually think about the issue at all, and that you have no intention of starting.

          You ask philosophical questions, but have shown that you just don’t care too much for getting answers of any substance.

        • MarkAnthony

          Ad hominem

        • Dys

          No, it’s not, because you don’t have an argument. I’ve already demonstrated in previous posts why your childish “didn’t you choose to believe that” questions don’t work as a response. And you don’t have any actual reply other than to just repeat yourself.

          You haven’t given any actual response to the criticisms I’ve written against your position. If you have something more than “I think I have free will therefore I do” and “I think I choose my beliefs”, let’s see it.

          You’ve confused being insulted with an ad hominem attack. They’re not the same thing.

        • MarkAnthony

          I think have made an argument?

          I don’t believe you have demonstrated your point, sorry.

          I do and have a reply that I chose to believe. Why change my reply if I believe it?

          Ad hominem is a insult.

          We are starting to go around in circles, yes?

        • Dys

          I think have made an argument?

          You had an initial question, and have been running away from any real answers ever since. “I don’t believe you” is not an argument. Explaining the problem with my argument or even giving an explanation as to why you don’t believe me would be. You’ve done neither.

          I don’t believe you have demonstrated your point, sorry.

          That’s nice. But you haven’t pointed out where I’m wrong. You’ve completely avoided responding with anything other than “nuh uh” equivalents. You’ve not responded to the very simple thought experiment I provided, nor have you said a single thing to my teardown of your “you can choose to believe the earth is flat” tripe.

          I do and have a reply that I chose to believe. Why change my reply if I believe it?

          I’ve pointed out already why your reply doesn’t make sense. You responded by just lazily repeating it. In arguments, you have to actually defend your viewpoint, which I’ve done. I’m still waiting for you to do the same, but I’m done holding my breath, because it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

          Ad hominem is a insult.

          No, it’s not. Being insulted and then told why you’re wrong is not an ad hominem. Being told your argument is wrong because you’re an idiot would be. I haven’t done that.

          We are starting to go around in circles, yes?

          Yes. I’m answering you with thought experiments and reasoning, and you don’t really have anything to say beyond “I don’t believe you”.

          Your original question has been answered, you don’t like the answer you got, but can’t say why. When someone insists they want an answer to a question but then continually avoids discussing the answer, I’m going to assume they didn’t really care in the first place.

        • Greg G.

          Ad hominem is a insult.

          No, it isn’t. An ad hominem is the fallacy of addressing the person instead of the argument made by the person. It might be an insult.

          There cannot be an ad hominem if there is no argument. If the argument has been refuted, there cannot be an ad hominem.

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

          I’m guessing that you were pushing Mark into uncomfortable territory with your questions.

        • MarkAnthony

          Why so much personal attack here in this forum?

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

          Like interactions in much of the rest of life, this forum is like a mirror. You are treated roughly as you act.

        • MarkAnthony

          I haven’t insulted or attached you.

          Ad hominem

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

          I haven’t insulted or attached you.

          You said, “If you are going to attack what the Bible is “telling you”, you could at least do your homework couldn’t you?” Was that not meant to be insulting?

        • Dys

          Ad hominem doesn’t mean what you think it does.

          “In reality, ad hominem is unrelated to sarcasm or personal abuse. Argumentum ad hominem is the logical fallacy of attempting to undermine a speaker’s argument by attacking the speaker instead of addressing the argument. The mere presence of a personal attack does not indicate ad hominem: the attack must be used for the purpose of undermining the argument, or otherwise the logical fallacy isn’t there. It is not a logical fallacy to attack someone; the fallacy comes from assuming that a personal attack is also necessarily an attack on that person’s arguments”

          http://laurencetennant.com/bonds/adhominem.html

        • Dys

          I don’t think he’s truly interested in exploring the issue in his original question, and was just giving the rote free will excuse for divine hiddenness. He’s been avoiding defending his position ever since.

        • MR

          …finally made the point clear enough to him.

          Clearly it did not.

        • Dys

          Despite my best efforts, my cynicism is constantly reinforced.

        • MarkAnthony

          People choose to believe all sorts of things, does that make their beliefs correct?

        • MR

          You’re not the sharpest cheddar on the cracker, are you? Restating your flawed response doesn’t correct the flaw. Remove the word “choose,” which was the point, and you might have something to build on. You’re like the foolish man who built his house on the sand.

          And the rain fell, and the floods came, and Dys blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

        • Michael Neville

          You are wrong. What difference would it make it your god “displayed” itself? Acknowledging existence is not the same as worshiping a sadistic, narcissistic bully like your god.

        • MarkAnthony

          What difference would it make? Didn’t you read my very first question?

          “Acknowledging existence is not the same as worshiping a sadistic, narcissistic bully like your god.” I would have thought that goes without saying?

        • Michael Neville

          Why does having a choice about something or other with your god, you haven’t been explicit about what this supposed choice actually entails, have to do with anything?

        • MarkAnthony

          My “god”, speculations everywhere!

        • Michael Neville

          Pardon me, sirrah, you must have mistaken me for someone who gives a shit about whether or not you’re a Christian.

        • MarkAnthony

          Mistaken?

          Didn’t you make reference to my “god”?

          Having a god makes you Christian?

        • Greg G.

          Having a god makes you Christian?

          Of course not, which makes your removal of free will argument moot.

        • Michael Neville

          Yes, you stupid twit, it does.

        • Greg G.

          I would say having a god makes one a theist but not necessarily a Christian.

        • Herald Newman

          > “If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really
          > have?” By choice I am referring to belief in existence

          This leads me back to my million dollar question. Why is faith (the belief in God’s existence without clear evidence) so important to God? This has always seemed an absurdity to me, and one of the reasons I started to question Christianity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Another one that hasn’t read the instruction manual ffs…

          Read yer bloody scriptures why don’t ye?

          http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_ncyQWsyp0Ns/TMNfcB2tBwI/AAAAAAAAAdg/JvBd1_bDs6U/s1600/2+-+inside.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos
        • MarkAnthony

          Dunno if the scriptures teach or affirm scaring people into believing in God, what do you think? That Isaiah 66:24 just seems so out of context to the people who might be reading it now, today. I could be wrong, just a thought.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It depends which flavour of the cult one adheres to and how one interprets scripture. Squint hard enough and ya can see anything ya wish in there of course. But there is no doubt in my mind that “traditionally” it was a device for scaring the bejaysus out of youngsters.

          http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/files/2011/12/9-Its-your-choice.jpeg

          As for the Isaiah passage, here are some commentaries by Bible scholars for your perusal.

          http://biblehub.com/commentaries/isaiah/66-24.htm

          Certainly a thought that there is a reference to Gehenna.

          Another piece I’ve read says this…

          A number of Christians believe that Jesus taught on several occasions that the lost will suffer forever in hell, and specifically in Mark 9. There Jesus quotes from Isaiah 66:24, which reads:

          “And they [i.e. “all flesh,” see verse 23] shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

          Although it is common for Christians who believe in the eternal torments of hell to quote this passage as though it supported their view, even at a glance it appears to do no such thing. In the first place, and most importantly of all, the people who are referred to here are not alive in torment; rather these are dead bodies being eaten by maggots. They are “those slain by the LORD” (v. 16). If this passage can be taken to describe the last judgement in literal terms at all—and of course it may not—it teaches annihilationism. The reason some people regard this as teaching eternal torment is that the writer says that the fire “will not be quenched.” However, as Chris Date pointed out here at Rethinking Hell, there is a difference between a fire being quenched, which indicates that it is extinguished or put out, and a fire that simply comes to an end because it has consumed what fueled it. The fire in Isaiah 66 is not quenched—that is, nobody puts it out, which means that it is allowed to carry on burning until it has completely consumed the bodies of those described who rebelled against God. The verb used in Isaiah 66:24, kabhah, often means quenched or put out in the Hebrew scriptures, and so there is nothing at all in Isaiah 66:24 to suggest eternal torment. The people are already dead, and nothing is said about the fire lasting forever.

          A number of Christian’s seem to read the OT scripture like the gospel authors, that is, through NT style Christ inventing glasses.

          I’ve been on a site populated by Catholic’s that claim that Hell is not a place, but a condition. The condition being excommunication with YahwehJesus for all eternity. A condition if you are a Catholic I guess is every bit as terrifying as being in a sulphur burning pit with the devil shoving a red hot poker up one’s arse. Go figure.

          Anyway, the Christian concept of Hell derives from the Bible with subsequent embellishments. It has been used as a cosh to terrify adherents for centuries, that’s an undeniable fact.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inferno_(Dante)

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

          Read the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man to see what the NT says about hell. It ain’t a fun place.

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+16:19-31

        • MarkAnthony

          I always through that story was an allegory?

        • Greg G.

          I think it was Luke thoroughly rejecting John’s Lazarus resurrection story. Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1 talks about Ananus having five sons who became high priests and John 18 tells us that Ananus was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, so the Rich Man is Caiaphas who wants Lazarus to go to his father’s (in-law) house to warn his five brothers (in-law).

        • MarkAnthony

          Well, I didn’t see that coming

        • Susan

          I always thought that story was an allegory?

          .

          Which stories are literal and which are allegories and why?

        • MarkAnthony

          literature has many form of genre, why?

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

          Does it matter? The Bible is telling you what hell is like.

          Torment so bad that a single drop of water on your tongue would be a blessing? Sounds pretty bad.

        • MarkAnthony

          Have you ever been so cold that you said “Geeperz, I’m freezing”?

          Sometimes we use all sorts or tools to tell stories, make points & etc.

          If you are going to attack what the Bible is “telling you”, you could at least do your homework couldn’t you?

        • Greg G.

          Christians throughout the years have taken what the Bible says to be exactly true. We both know that there is hyperbole in the Bible. But much of what the Bible says is exaggeration about imaginary concepts.

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

          If you are going to attack what the Bible is “telling you”, you could at least do your homework couldn’t you?

          The last comment of yours whined about how people are so mean here. But when you drop comments like this one into your comments, you can get some pushback.

          Have you ever been so cold that you said “Geeperz, I’m freezing”?

          What’s that mean? That the story of Lazarus and the rich man was an exaggeration?

          So how do you separate the literal bits from the hyperbole? Just use your instinct?

          Now you know why people call the Bible the Big Book of Multiple Choice.

        • Dys

          If you are going to attack what the Bible is “telling you”, you could at least do your homework couldn’t you?

          Wait…you’re making this type of criticism? You’re trying to discuss free will and how beliefs are adopted, and have made it quite clear you’ve done absolutely no research on the issue at all.

          Hypocritical.

        • Greg G.

          If you are going to attack what the Bible is “telling you”, you could at least do your homework couldn’t you?

          What homework have you done to think “that story was an allegory?”

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

      If Mark Antony knocked on my door and I opened it and saw him, what choice would I have? Darn it, I’d just have to believe he existed! My free will would be thrown in the trash, and my blissful state (where Mark, like Schrodinger’s Cat, doesn’t necessarily exist) would be gone.

      • MarkAnthony

        I don’t really understand your reply?
        I exist and so do you. I am curious about God’s existence, if He is so powerful, I am sure He could rip the clouds apart each day and prove His existence….He doesn’t, so either He doesn’t exist or it is by design that He doesn’t impose Himself on us…Aren’t you curious?

        • Michael Neville

          Let me try. You don’t know if someone named Michael Neville is writing this post. It could be my name or I could be using a pseudonym. You have a major clue that I exist in that I’ve written this comment which you’ve read but you have no idea what my name is. You suspect my name is Michael Neville because that’s the name on this post but it’s just a suspicion. There are tools an experienced computer tech could use to discover my email address and see what name is there. As it happens, it’s also Michael Neville and it’s a gmail address. Gmail requires people to use their names but it’s easy to make up a pseudonym that looks real. In the end, you just have faith that my name is Michael Neville.

          So what’s my name?

        • MarkAnthony

          I am not sure what your name has to do with discussing if God exists?

        • Michael Neville

          Okay, the analogy didn’t work. I won’t try again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Like a said…”Whoooooosh!”

        • MNb

          “He doesn’t, so either He doesn’t exist or it is by design that He doesn’t impose Himself on us.”
          Like the shy little girl on the background who stays away as far as possible from the boy she loves, you mean? She won’t get anywhere either – as far as that boy is concerned she doesn’t exist indeed.

        • MarkAnthony

          Are you saying boys never approach girls?

        • Ignorant Amos
        • MNb

          You are saying girls never should approach boys.

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

          Yes, you exist. Your existence doesn’t impose on or offend my free will. So don’t tell me that God’s existence would offend my free will.

          Curious about what? When there’s good evidence to make me think that God might exist, I’ll get curious. Right now, God looks no more likely than all the other gods.

    • MNb

      “If God appeared to everyone what choice would we really have?”
      To worship him or not to worship him.

      “Maybe, its by design?”
      Or he is just a product of your imagination.

      “Maybe God leaves it to us to choose to believe or not?”
      Like the tooth fairy, you mean?

      “What if He doesn’t want to force people to follow.”
      He appearing to me doesn’t guarantee me following him, exactly because

      “You cant force a lover or a child to love you.”

    • Michael Neville

      Maybe God leaves it to us to choose to believe or not?

      Why would your god do that? And if you tell me “it’s a mystery” then we’ll both know that you don’t have a reasonable answer to this question.

      • MarkAnthony

        I agree, I don’t have a reasonable answer. Could it be to protect a persons’ freewill? I am not sure how or if it could be proved?

        Its just a question.

        • Michael Neville

          How and why would freewill be compromised by knowledge of something? I think theists come up with “gawd doesn’t expose himself because of freewill” is a euphemistic statement which really means “we don’t have the slightest evidence for gods and we know we don’t so we’ll use bullshit instead.”

        • Greg G.

          It’s how they quell cognitive dissonance. Trying to convince others of their bullshit bolsters their own belief.

        • Scott

          Because if it is compelling evidence then it isn’t free will, is it?

        • Greg G.

          There is compelling evidence that the universe is billions of years old yet creationists believe it is 6000 years old. Is that free will or stupidity?

          According to the gospels, people saw the spirit descend like a dove. If such a thing happened, then compelling evidence doesn’t matter.

        • Scott

          Both.

          If you saw the Holy Spirit descending and it reminded you of a dove, you still wouldn’t believe it. So that doesn’t make that compelling, does it?

        • Greg G.

          It doesn’t say it looked like a dove descending. It says the spirit descended like a dove. In John 1:32, John the Baptist said he saw the Spirit descend like a dove. He wasn’t confused that it was a dove. That was something unusual for the Gospel of John as the theme is confusion about what Jesus said or did throughout the rest of the gospel.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It doesn’t say it looked like a dove descending. It says the spirit descended like a dove.

          Are you suggest that the wise sage that is Scott has some reading comprehension issues? Surely not. He reckons he has it read properly.

        • Greg G.

          It doesn’t say it reminded anyone of a dove. The analogy is about the descent. In the story, they knew it was the Spirit.

          Do you actually believe these apologetics or are you trying to convince yourself?

        • Scott

          The Spirit descending obviously reminded him of a dove because that’s the analogy he used. I didn’t say the Spirit was a dove. But you’re quibbling about something immaterial.

          The only real question that matters is: What would it take you to believe?

          To answer your question… I don’t believe in apologetics. That would be a misplaced belief. Apologetics is knowledge or a tactic one might use to defend what you believe. It’s not something you believe in. I believe there is a God. I believe He can make a difference in your life as he has in mine.

        • Greg G.

          The Spirit descending obviously reminded him of a dove because that’s the analogy he used. I didn’t say the Spirit was a dove. But you’re quibbling about something immaterial.

          What analogies did the author have for something descending two thousand years ago? There would be lightning, clouds, falcons, doves, sparrows, butterflies, bees, and bats. The author chose a dove. It doesn’t mean he was reminded of a dove. Muhammed Ali was said to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” but nobody thought he looked like an insect.

          The only real question that matters is: What would it take you to believe?

          Gullibility. If there was really an omnipotent, omniscient being that wanted me to believe, I would already. It would know exactly what it would take to convince me and could do it.

          To answer your question… I don’t believe in apologetics. That would be a misplaced belief. Apologetics is knowledge or a tactic one might use to defend what you believe. It’s not something you believe in.

          My question was whether you believe apologetics, not if you believe in apologetics. More specifically, my question refers to the apologetics you are espousing in this forum.

          I believe there is a God. I believe He can make a difference in your life as he has in mine.

          I went to Sunday school every week for most of my young life but I became skeptical. Then I got “saved” after high school. Yeah, I exaggerated the difference in my life, too, but it really wasn’t much different than before nor after I left faith behind. Just different activities with different friends. I have always been a law-abiding citizen and a nice guy whether I was a Christian or not.

        • MR

          Yeah, I exaggerated the difference in my life, too, but it really wasn’t much different than before nor after I left faith behind

          Yeah, I look around at my Christian friends and family and they really don’t have lives any different than mine. The same ups and downs. Sometimes they have great days, but at the same time they’re not immune to life’s slings and arrows, and sometimes they even make spectacular mistakes. Being a Christian doesn’t automatically guarantee that your life is going to be easy or even happy. That largely depends on individual circumstances.

          Nor does leaving the faith result in any great change in the person. When I left the faith, I had no sudden urge to go on a sinning spree. I was still just plain ol’ me. I personally don’t know any self-proclaimed atheist who isn’t a basic, good, moral human being.

        • MR

          Suppose for a brief moment that all of us are wrong and Hinduism is in fact the true religion. What would it take for you to believe?

        • MR

          We didn’t lose you, did we Scott? I’m still interested in your response to my question below.

        • MR

          I’m disappointed, Scott. If this is the only real question that matters, why won’t you answer it yourself?

        • Scott

          I didn’t answer your question because it makes no sense. If we know Hinduism to be the one true religion, then belief doesn’t matter. We have only acceptance or denial.

        • MR

          What would it take you to believe Hinduism?

        • Scott

          I’ll rephrase the question as “why don’t I believe in Hinduism”.

          There are several reasons but I’ll provide one. One of the main tenets of their belief is a concept called Maya which basically says the word is an illusion. There are 2 main problems with this:
          1) It doesn’t fit the world we see. We can know the world we live in (i.e. science).
          2) It is a contradiction. If the world is an illusion, then we are an illusion and knowledge and reason are an illusion. If everything is an illusion, how would we ever know it is an illusion?

        • MR

          Tsk, tsk, tsk. You passed on the only real question that matters. Why do you suppose that is?

          What would it take you to believe Hinduism?

        • Kodie

          So it doesn’t make sense. Neither does Christianity, but you believe that.

        • MR

          Also, plus one because your two key points can also apply to Christianity.

        • Scott

          Bold assertion. Now back it up with an argument.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bold assertion.

          Not that bold at all really.

          Now back it up with an argument.

          Myna A’s observation’s on your assertion of what you think Màyà is aside.

          Piece of piss.

          1) It doesn’t fit the world we see. We can know the world we live in (i.e. science).

          The buybull doesn’t fit the world we see. The concept of YahwehJesus doesn’t fit the world we see. The Christian ethos doesn’t fit the world we see. We know a lot about the world we live in through science. Religion, god’s and sacred texts, not so much. Ergo, Christianity offers nothing more or less that Hinduism doesn’t offer to someone who believes in neither.

          2) It is a contradiction. If the world is an illusion, then we are an illusion and knowledge and reason are an illusion. If everything is an illusion, how would we ever know it is an illusion?

          Exactly. How would we ever know it is an illusion? Given that you can’t, then you can’t claim it is a contradiction. A contradiction of what? Why can’t Christianity be a worldview in that illusion every bit as illusionary as any other article that makes up the illusion.

          Never heard of last Thursdayism?

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Last_Thursdayism

          Most people on the planet think Christianity is an illusion. Or at least lot’s of things in it anyway. Your hero is an illusion. The foibles of your faith, such as miracles, are an illusion. In the same way you think those foibles of other faith’s are illusions. Atheist’s just go one set of illusion’s further.

          Your misunderstanding of the meaning of Màyà notwithstanding. Religions are cluttered with illusions…Christianity very much so.

          The illusion that is transubstantiation has been argued and fought over by Christians themselves. What chance has an outsider got?

          Let’s not get started on the ballix illusion that is the Trinity again.

          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/illusion

        • Scott

          All you did was make more assertions and rhetoric.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope.

          Hand waving away without explanation, as you like to do, won’t cover the Cognitive Dissonance and Self Justification that is seeping from your every pore.

          http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.uk/2007/11/introducing-cognitive-dissonance.html

          But like MR has said, this tells us everything we need to know about you on this issue.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Transubstantiation. The nonsense that is transubstantiation and has contradictory views with Christianity, is not just my assertion, or rhetoric.

          Protestant Christian apologists calling Catholic Christian’s heretic’s and wrong on the issue.

          https://carm.org/transubstantiation

          Catholic Christian apologists explaining why they are correct on the issue.

          http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/transubstantiation-for-beginners

          There is clearly a contradiction on the doctrine that is the illusion of transubstantiation. Which version of this idiotic nonsense that was plagiarised from earlier pagan ritual meal rites do you punt to? Why are you right and the others wrong? And how is this not a contradiction within your very own Christian faith?

          Us outsiders and one-time insiders think it is all ridiculous woo-woo…as do all the many never insiders. But I’m interested in any explanation why Christianity is so confused on this central illusion.

          This one example of NOT assertion or rhetoric will do for now.

        • adam

          And all you do is dance.

          Dishonest gods breed dishonest followers…

        • MNb

          If so it’s because he’s using your method.

        • MR

          Actually, the burden of proof would be on him. If I make a claim of cats and rabbits and unicorns and gravity and magic, one would expect me to provide examples of cats and rabbits and unicorns and gravity and magic. “You can’t prove magic doesn’t exist” isn’t an argument against “it doesn’t fit the world we see.” As far as contradictions, the various Christian denominations can’t even work out their own contradictory beliefs, let alone tackle the obvious contradictions with reality.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Actually, the burden of proof would be on him.

          But isn’t it your assertion that Scott’s two key points can also apply to Christianity.

          Scott thinks his two key points are an adequate explanation and he offers nothing in support of the two key points as an argument.

          He thinks your referral back to Christianity is somehow bold and can’t be backed up with supporting examples or evidence. That’s not usually how atheists operate.

          If I make a claim of cats and rabbits and unicorns and gravity and magic, one would expect me to provide examples of cats and rabbits and unicorns and gravity and magic. “You can’t prove magic doesn’t exist” isn’t an argument against “it doesn’t fit the world we see.”

          But my understand here is that it is up to you, or anyone supporting you and wishing to partake in the challenge, to support the fact that Scott’s own two key points apply to Christianity once you, I, we, make the claim that they do,no?.

          I understand the concept of the burden of proof, which is Scott’s, up until when you turned his response back around, i.e. his illusion and contradiction argument against Hinduism vis a vis Christianity. Don’t we have an obligation to demonstrate that our comparison is sound, when he challenges that assertion?

          As far as contradictions, the various Christian denominations can’t even work out their own contradictory beliefs, let alone tackle the obvious contradictions with reality.

          Exactly, and part of my response.

          Apologies if I’ve stormed in and tramped on some toes in this debacle. There ain’t much else happening about the place.

        • MR

          No, no! Sorry, I’m not saying don’t do it. Just pointing out that he’s really the one making the ontological claim for the existence of God and the burden of proof is on him. Doesn’t mean we can’t support our own argument.

          Just as he says Hinduism doesn’t conform to reality, the argument applies equally to Christianity. A Hindu would need to supply some evidence for his claim that conforms with reality that would meet Scott’s (unprovided, need I remind ourselves) threshold for belief. Scott would no doubt scoff at the argument of “you can’t prove Hinduism isn’t true” as valid evidence for its existence, just as we don’t accept it as valid evidence for Christianity’s existence.

          I was simply adding to, not overwriting your response. Sorry for the confusion. Please carry on. :)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah right, my error. Soz.

          What we are engaging in here is technically The Outsider Test for Faith and poor Scott is failing it miserably, at his own hand may I add.

        • MR

          poor Scott is failing it miserably, at his own hand may I add.

          Hat tip: Don’t use arguments that undermine your own.

          Amirite? 😉

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes…

          Principle Nine in the art of cross examination….

          If You Aren’t Prepared For The Answer Don’t Ask The Question

        • MR

          I suppose we could, technically turn his “answers” into answers that address the original question, but I think he would likely have heartburn with it:

          MR: What would it take for you to believe Hinduism (or another religion you don’t believe in):

          Scott:
          * That it fit the world we see.
          * That it not be a contradiction.

          We can easily attack these, but I doubt, given the opportunity, he would really want these used as his answers. (Oh, yeah, he has been given the opportunity.) It’s only fair, before we start in and be accused of strawmanning something that he himself set up. I can see a couple reasons why these wouldn’t be suitable answers for his case. I’d rather he answer the question, as originally stated, on his own.

          I used Hinduism as an example, but I don’t expect him to answer constrained by that. I ask it in the same vein that he asked Greg G. What would it take for you to believe [something you don’t currently believe]? I know it’s silly that I have to spell that out, but clearly Scott’s having trouble cognitive dissonance understanding the nuance.

        • adam

          “I know it’s silly that I have to spell that out, but clearly Scott’s having trouble cognitive dissonance understanding the nuance.”

          “Scott:
          * That it fit the world we see.
          * That it not be a contradiction.”

          Almost a billion Hindus think it fits the world we see, and see no contradiction.

          Any one who limits Pascal’s wager to a single christian god, is inherently dishonest.

          Dishonest gods breed dishonest believers…

        • MR

          Bold assertion? Your own conversations with Bob and Greg have already touched on a couple of contradictions, and there isn’t a page on Bob’s blog that doesn’t point out many others. Second, no one had been able to demonstrate God, just bold assertions of his existence that don’t conform to reality.

          But these are all just asides. You still haven’t answered “the only real question that matters.” Let’s get back to that. You asked it, after all. Why are you avoiding answering it?

        • Scott

          I did answer it. You just didn’t like my answer. Since I don’t believe Hinduism because of the inherent contradiction in the concept of Maya, that would at least need to change in order to believe.

        • MR

          You didn’t answer. You punted. We can see that; you’re not fooling anyone.

          You can replace Hinduism with “a religion you don’t currently believe in.” What would it take for you to believe another religion? What would tip the scales for you to believe something you don’t currently believe?

          Why do you suppose it’s so hard for you to answer the question? Why do you suppose you had to change the question in order to feel comfortable enough to attempt to answer it. If you could honestly explore those questions within yourself, you might come a long way to understanding where an atheist stands.

          But the more I speak with the religious I’ve come to learn that kind of introspection rarely happens and I expect more punting.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Freaky coincidence on the use of the word “punt”…there’s the hand of the supernatural at work…or not. LOL.

        • Scott

          This will be my last post. Besides Amos’ last post (respect to Amos), there hasn’t even been an argument posted – just assertions and name calling.

          @MR – I did answer your question and now you are changing it because you didn’t get the answer you wanted. Fine. The religion would have to explain 1) the world we see and 2) why we are here better than what I currently believe.

          What you’re insinuating by your “honestly explore” and “introspection” comment is that If I did that, I would then agree with you. And yet you have no idea how I came to my conclusion. Therefore you assume that I haven’t. What you’ve written is a poor commentary, not an argument.

          Since you don’t even believe in God, what in the world does it matter what religion I believe. That’s step 2.

          Step 1 is to take the facts we know:
          1) There is a universe
          2) It is finite
          3) There are a number of constants we find that are necessary for life as we know it
          4) There is life
          5) We have DNA
          etc, etc

          These have all been covered ad nauseam. So, with all this information, you have a choice. It is more likely blind chance or supernatural. Those are your choices.

          Only after you’ve made that choice does religion even matter. Then the question is: which religion (or no religion) fits the world we see and why we are here.

          I could be wrong. There might be no God. However, if that’s the case, I lose nothing. I’ve lived a moral life putting others ahead of myself. I can live with that.

          If you’re wrong, it costs you everything. Now, ask yourself: Is there even the slightest chance you are wrong?

        • Myna A.

          I did answer your question and now you are changing it because you didn’t get the answer you wanted.

          No, you rephrased it to your own comfort level.

          If you’re wrong, it costs you everything.

          How so? According to whom?

          Is there even the slightest chance you are wrong?

          About what?

          It is more likely blind chance nor supernatural. Those are your choices.

          No, they are not the only choice. Conscious force is neither blind chance or supernatural.

        • Joe

          It is more likely blind chance or supernatural. Those are your choices.

          No.

          Physical processes guided by the same physical constants that shape our universe. Or aliens. There are multiple choices. Note that ‘supernatural’ doesn’t automatically equal ‘very specific sect of Christianity’.

          If you’re wrong, it costs you everything

          Again no. It costs nothing, and nothing is gained or lost in any situation.

          . Now, ask yourself: Is there even the slightest chance you are wrong?

          Yes. What about you?

        • Greg G.

          I could be wrong. There might be no God. However, if that’s the case, I lose nothing. I’ve lived a moral life putting others ahead of myself. I can live with that.

          If you’re wrong, it costs you everything. Now, ask yourself: Is there even the slightest chance you are wrong?

          Paul anticipated Pascal’s Wager and pre-refuted it by saying that if you lose, it is not the case that you lose nothing. He says you are to be most pitied.

          1 Corinthians 15:19 (NRSV)19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

          But if you reject Hinduism because of a perceived contradiction, enjoy your next life as a dung beetle. Or maybe you’ll get to be a suicide bomber’s virgin because you rejected Islam.

          I hear that there are religions that say followers of the wrong gods are punished more than those who follow neither the right god nor the wrong god.

          What if God prefers people that are not gullible enough to follow a religion? Life in a world full of religion might be his test. He would probably punish someone who fell for Pascal’s Wager almost as much as someone who touted it.

        • adam

          “I could be wrong. There might be no God. However, if that’s the case, I lose nothing. ”

          You lose all your life you wasted depending on the MAGIC of the supernatural.

          “I could be wrong. There might be no God. However, if that’s the case, I lose nothing. ”

          So being deliberately deceptive is ‘moral’ to you, putting others ahead of yourself?

          Being deceptive again.

          “If you’re wrong, it costs you everything.”

          How so?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/52ad7a007ef441d557c5024cd34cb0755d756306e8b3b48511d5a2bdcaf35f7d.jpg

          You are assuming a bible God, in which Jesus is clear that most are going to hell.

          I hope you’ve sold everything you own and given the money to the poor like Jesus says, otherwise, your life as a christian will be a waste.

        • adam

          “It is more likely blind chance or supernatural. Those are your choices.”

          Nope,

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cb49f25b842aef4e0a6e36dccd4c0d86c43e6e95e934f6a511dc718c5fd1fac3.jpg

        • MR

          Well, no, Scott. You didn’t answer my question, you answered your question. They are subtly, but importantly different. That you don’t see that suggests to me that, no, you haven’t honestly explored the question. My liking or not liking your answers has nothing to do with it.

          At least you’ve finally made an attempt now to answer my your question, but I don’t think you quite achieved what you think:

          MR/Scott: What would it take for you to believe?

          Scott: The religion would have to explain:

          1) the world we see and
          2) why we are here better than what I currently believe.

          (italics my emphasis)

          Both your answers hinge on the word “explain.” Is an explanation really what you hinge belief on? Is that really what you mean? I doubt it.

          1) Every religion attempts to explain the world we see. Is an explanation what it would take for you to believe? An explanation? That puts all religions, and science, or even a mad man’s ranting about what he thinks of the world on equal ground. This is beyond weak. Don’t you require, I dunno, some kind of evidence to go along with the explanation? If so, what is your threshold of evidence?
          2) What do you mean by better? Again, every religion believes it explains better. How do you determine? Is it not possible that a religion could explain why we are here better than what you currently believe, but still be wrong? Christianity doesn’t explain many things better than science. In fact, Christianity has often gotten things wrong. (causes of disease, cosmology, etc.)

          Consider this: If I were to ask you what it would take for you to believe in Bigfoot, UFOs or fairies, I imagine that you wouldn’t hesitate to give a concrete answer like: a captured Bigfoot, UFO or fairy. That you retreat into “explanations” when it comes to religion suggests to me that no, you are not “honestly exploring” your belief. It’s like accepting “an explanation” for the noises you heard in the woods, the broken branches, the tuft of hair, etc., as a reason to believe in Bigfoot! How about we get some DNA on the hair sample!!!

          What you’re insinuating by your “honestly explore” and “introspection” comment is that If I did that, I would then agree with you.

          Agree that your answer is weak when it comes to determining belief? Why, yes, yes I do believe that. See, what I think you are doing is hedging your answer so as to allow your preferred belief. If you set the bar too low, which is what you’ve done, it allows belief in other religions [and more importantly opens the door to gullibility], while setting it too high, concrete evidence, will exclude your own. Do I think if you were looking at it honestly, you would see that? Yes. It’s not hard to figure out that thought process, I see it all the time.

          I had an apologist once answer the question with: “It would have to be a religion with a savior figure.” I laughed out loud. Surely even you can see the cognitive dissonance at work here. Front-loading your answer with Christianity!! Do you think his answer was honest? Do you think he really gave it some thought? Or do you think maybe he was working toward a predetermined conclusion? I don’t want to be deceived and when I’m presented with such a weak argument, do you think it prudent for me to just accept it? I think that would be foolish.

          What you’ve written is a poor commentary, not an argument.

          I presume you mean that you thought I was making an argument against God. I made no argument, period. I only tried to get you to make a statement of belief. I knew that statement would be weak. I wasn’t attempting to make an argument. You’re making it for me.

          …It is more likely blind chance or supernatural. Those are your choices.

          Er…, no. You’ve been reading too many apologetics websites. You misrepresent (straw man) science and you’ve have made zero case for the supernatural. Get back to us on that when a) you learn what science really has to say and/or 2) you can provide evidence of the supernatural.

          If you’re wrong, it costs you everything.

          Pascal’s Dilemma. Yawn. See Greg G’s comment.

          Now, ask yourself: Is there even the slightest chance you are wrong?

          That depends on what you mean by wrong. That there is no God? Well, I have no way of knowing if there is a deist God, but a deist God would provide no reason to believe in him anyway, so the point is moot. God, as described (defined) in the Bible and in our culture basically defines himself out of existence, so no, I have no doubts about such a being.

          I could be wrong. There might be no God. However, if that’s the case, I lose nothing.

          You lose a clearer understanding of the world you live in. Many people lose basic rights because of other people’s false belief. Many, many people have lost their lives. Good for you if you think you lose nothing. Sucks to be those other people, though.

          This will be my last post.

          I can understand if the cognitive dissonance is too much for you, but it would be nice if you stuck around to, you know, explore these things a little more honestly.

          [edits]

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

          I could be wrong. There might be no God. However, if that’s the case, I lose nothing. I’ve lived a moral life putting others ahead of myself. I can live with that.
          If you’re wrong, it costs you everything. Now, ask yourself: Is there even the slightest chance you are wrong?

          Oops. Pascal’s Wager isn’t your friend. Think, just a moment, before you click Post next time, OK?

          You bet on God but you imagine that you lose nothing if you’re wrong? What if Allah is the right answer? What if Buddhism is the right answer? (I’ve been to the temples and seen the paintings of hell–seriously, you don’t want to go there.)

          And so on. The flaw with this application of Pascal’s Wager is that it imagines only 2 options. Kinda dumb when you stop to think about it, isn’t it?

        • MNb

          “If you’re wrong, it costs you everything.”
          Nope. If I’m wrong it costs me nothing, because the prospect of sharing eternity in the company of souls like you is as horrible as the worst hell imaginable.
          If I’m right I win – I get exactly what I desire after I die: nothingness.

        • Myna A.

          …the prospect of sharing eternity in the company of souls like you…

          I don’t think apologists really think about the prospect of the Christian heaven with so many divergent points of view in their own religion. It would be utter chaos.

        • Michael Neville

          No, you did not answer the question. I’ll repeat it for you:

          Suppose for a brief moment that all of us are wrong and Hinduism is in fact the true religion. What would it take for you to believe?

          The question assumes that Hinduism is true. If the truth of Hinduism was revealed, what would it take for you to believe in Hinduism?

          The question is not “why do you not believe in Hinduism” nor is it “what is wrong with Hinduism.” Instead of answering the question you prefer to answer, why don’t you answer the question you were originally asked?

        • Susan

          why don’t you answer the question you were originally asked?

          Which happens to be the question he originally asked with “christianity” replaced by “hinduism”.

          It’s a false question. Something apologists ask but are never willing to answer.

        • MR

          It’s a question that I suppose is meant to imply to the non-believer that he’s being unreasonable and that nothing could convince him. The problem is, it exposes the underbelly of hypocrisy of the believer when you turn the question around. Any reasonable evidence they would require in order to believe some other religion also isn’t available in Christianity. They don’t hold their own religion to the same standards of belief.

          My threshold for believing in God would likely be relatively low, but I’d rightly require some level of reasonable evidence. What would that evidence be? Well, it’s likely on a par with what the average Christian would require in order drop Christianity and believe the claims of another religion. Now, some people have an affinity for changing religions like changing wardrobes, but I think your average Christian would rightly require a relatively high bar of evidence to switch to something like our example, Hindusim.

          The problem for the Christian trying to answer the question is that they’d then realize their own religion doesn’t have the same level of evidence they themselves would require! Zzzt. Cognitive dissonance.

          Then the games begin, avoiding the question, attempting an answer that applies only to Christianity, requiring too little evidence and hoping no one notices the same evidence could apply equally to other religions…. They never stopping to think, hmmm…, maybe the evidence for my religion isn’t so strong. Maybe the atheist does have reasonable doubt.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you’re wrong, it costs you everything. Now, ask yourself: Is there even the slightest chance you are wrong?

          It doesn’t matter a shit. I can’t “pretend” to myself to believe something I don’t really believe. I can give the impression to others that I believe something I don’t, we all do that all the time, but deep down I can’t bluff myself. Which is exactly what I believe a lot of religious folk are attempting to do in order to fit in. That’s certainly the impression they give by their actions anyway.

          But here’s the rub, there will be no bluffing an omniscience. So if you want to go along with your silly charade, you better nail your colours to the mast of some different deity, because as has been pointed out by MR, God, as described (defined) in the Bible and in our culture basically defines himself out of existence, so you’ve been sold a pup. A reassessment might be the order of the day Scott. At least think about it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It is more likely blind chance or supernatural. Those are your choices.

          Let’s take your argument here at face value with you and I agreeing those are the only two choices. Why would you opt for the second choice?

          Blind chance, aka accident, happens all the time. That’s a given. There has never been a verified example of the supernatural and by definition, can’t be. Everything once thought to belong to the realm of the supernatural that has been verified becomes natural. The supernatural doesn’t exist.

          Accidents are a daily occurrence and a dime a dozen. Millions happen every second and they come in all forms, shapes and sizes.

          Of course, clever and smart people see blind chance and accidents in terms of probabilities. The probability that this universe exists is not zero because here we are, in it, talking about the universe, so the accident has happened at least once. Evidence of one blind chance in my opinion.

          So given your only two choices, the smart money is already on blind chance over the supernatural by a long chalk.

          Your [J. D. Hooker] conclusion that all speculation about preordination is idle waste of time is the only wise one: but how difficult it is not to speculate. My theology is a simple muddle: I cannot look at the Universe as the result of blind chance, yet I can see no evidence of beneficent design, or indeed of design of any kind in the details.— As for each variation that has ever occurred having been preordained for a special end, I can no believe in it, than that the spot on which each drop of rain falls has been specially ordained.— ~ Charles Darwin

          “The process of natural selection feeds on randomness, it feeds on accident and contingency, and it gradually improves the fit between whatever organisms there are and the environment in which they’re being selected. But there’s no predictability about what particular accidents are going to be exploited in this process.” ~ Daniel Dennett

        • Dys

          I could be wrong. There might be no God. However, if that’s the case I lose nothing. I’ve lived a moral life putting others ahead of myself. I can live with that.

          It always comes down to Pascal’s Wager with apologists, and their inability to see what a crap argument it is.

          Scott, you could also be wrong in that you’ve picked the wrong God, and the real God is one that punishes people for not believing in him properly. In which case you’re screwed and will lose everything. Pascal’s wager is essentially a false dichotomy.

          Or there is no god, and you’ve wasted your time and energy worshiping something that doesn’t exist during your limited time of existence. So you still lose something, even if there is no god.

          Additionally, you seem to be under the delusion that belief is a choice – it isn’t. People can’t just decide what to believe – that’s not how it works.

          If your final comment is no more substantive than Pascal’s Wager, then you have nothing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It must be terrible to be living under the eternal threat of an invisible boogeyman with zero evidence for its existence.

        • adam

          ” Since I don’t believe Hinduism because of the inherent contradiction in the concept of Maya, ”

          You mean like the contraction between Heaven and and life on Earth?

          You are just being DISHONEST

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8568462465e0a6d9fe0cd05f38e83e107c0107b3deb40cea42b1e471011ad8ac.jpg

        • Myna A.

          I’ll rephrase the question as “why don’t I believe in Hinduism”.

          That is so, so dishonest. And rude, besides. It would have been more honest just to say you won’t answer the question because you don’t know enough about Hinduism to really answer it with any depth.

          I don’t think you understand the concept of illusion in Eastern thought. It’s more complex than your 1 and 2.

        • Scott

          If I am wrong, then please explain it to me. Explain how I’m wrong. Instead you called me dishonest and rude and that I know nothing of Hinduism. I could be mistaken, but in no way was I dishonest or rude.

        • Myna A.

          It is rude to rephrase a direct question given you. Rephrasing is a dishonest tactic to avoid answering directly and truthfully. Hinduism is very complex and no one would hold you at fault for saying you simply don’t have enough information to answer the question. On the other hand, there’s a whole lot of information available on the religion and others. Know what you can about what you are rejecting is always good practice.

          As for Màyà (illusion):

          In Hinduism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_(illusion)

          In Buddhism: http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=187

          [Edit to add links]

        • Scott

          If I changed the question to avoid answering it is one thing, but my response still answers his question. Clearly, the contradiction would need to go away before i would believe in Hinduism.

          You posted information about Hinduism (and Buddhism for some reason). I have already read this. However, this doesn’t answer how my understanding is incorrect.

        • adam

          ” Clearly, the contradiction would need to go away before i would believe in Hinduism.”

          Just like in christianity this ‘apparent’ contradiction goes away with ‘faith’

          So CLEARLY you understand how to do this with bible God, https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/60865103a336b5d68f96eb3254e706491af8f8a5dbd80dafef9edf2beab0319d.jpg

        • Kodie

          Why do you easily tolerate the contradictions of Christianity?

        • Philmonomer

          This is a great question. At the end of the day, the Trinity is a contradiction that doesn’t make any sense.

          If I said, “One of the main reasons why I don’t believe in Christianity is that the Trinity is a contradiction,” his response would be: “You simply don’t understand it. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it is a contradiction. If you properly understood it, there would be no contradiction.” And then he could point to some big book someone wrote that purports to explain it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “You simply don’t understand it. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it is a contradiction. If you properly understood it, there would be no contradiction.”

          Ah, yes…The Courtier’s Reply.

        • MR

          If I changed the question to avoid answering it is one thing, but my response still answers his question.

          No, it doesn’t. Skip Hinduism if you’re going to cop out, then. More generally, what would it take you to believe any religion you don’t currently believe. The concept is not that difficult unless you’re trying to squirm out of answering it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Scott has painted himself into the corner big style.

        • MR

          His own question. 😛

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Myna A.

          No, your response does not answer the question. I included Buddhism to show how religions overlap. If you had understood what you read in the links, you would not have answered as you did with your 1 and 2 nor would you defend now them as a correct comprehension of the concept of illusion.

        • MR

          It’s a sleight of hand.

          ^1

          You might be an apologist if….

        • Myna A.

          I don’t think he gets that story, itself, is an illusion.

        • MR

          Nor does the question require a knowledge of Hinduism to answer. Notice he was quite comfortable in asking Greg the same question about Christianity without going into knowledge of Christianity. He retreated into a narrow interpretation of the question in order to safely not answer his own question. Completely dishonest. [e: But expected.]

        • adam

          ” I could be mistaken, but in no way was I dishonest or rude.”

          Of course you are/still dishonest or else you are lying now.

        • adam

          “1) It doesn’t fit the world we see. ”

          Neither does the bible

          “2) It is a contradiction. If the world is an illusion, then we are an illusion and knowledge and reason are an illusion.”

          And the bible has Satan, who clouds peoples minds with illusion

          So you cant believe in bible God, either.

          What would it take you to believe Hinduism?

        • adam

          “If we know Hinduism to be the one true religion, then belief doesn’t matter.”

          Sorry, but most of us dont realize that you KNOW Hinduism to be the one true religion.

          How do you KNOW this?

        • MR

          Sorry, Adam, this may have gotten muddled. Previously Scott had asked Greg G in reference to Christianity:

          The only real question that matters is: What would it take you to believe [Christianity]?

          I tried turning the question around and asked Scott:

          Suppose for a brief moment that all of us are wrong and Hinduism is in fact the true religion. What would it take for you to believe?

          He responded:

          I didn’t answer your question because it makes no sense. If we know Hinduism to be the one true religion, then belief doesn’t matter. We have only acceptance or denial.

          He didn’t understand (or pretended not to) why I phrased the question the way I did. Basically what I was trying to break his preconceptions, and then turn the question around to ask what it would take to believe in Hinduism. If you don’t mind, please give him an opportunity to answer before responding to me.

        • adam

          I was following and understand.

        • MR

          There you go, Adam. Scott didn’t answer the question as I knew he wouldn’t. He can’t without exposing his own hypocrisy.

          He thinks it a powerful question to ask until he tries to answer it himself. See, if he answers with the bar set too low, he has to allow for other religions, too. Too high, and he can’t make a case for Christianity. Sure, he asks the question of Greg G but he can’t answer his own question.

          Now, watch the cognitive dissonance take effect. Watch him squirm, justify and continue to not answer the question.

          This non-answer tells me what I need to know.

        • adam

          His HIndu answer tells me what I need to know.

          He has biblical ‘faith’ (wishful thinking) that he ‘knows’ christianity is true, but he knows he cant demonstrate that it is true, because he understands that it is not true and that conflicts with his wishful thinking that it is is.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • adam

          All that crazy talk about a rational mind…..

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anno…nutz isn’t it?

        • adam

          “If you saw the Holy Spirit descending and it reminded you of a dove, you still wouldn’t believe it.”

          Of course one would, how can you state differently?

        • Kodie

          The excuse that “free will” is intended because god is not completely fucking obvious is imaginary nonsense.

        • Michael Neville

          Sorry, still not seeing how knowing something denies freewill. According to the propaganda Satan and his followers knew God existed but that didn’t have any effect in their freewill decision to rebel.

          I still prefer my previous answer the the “freewill” argument is an ad hoc attempt to explain away the complete lack of evidence for the existence of gods (note the plural, there’s more than your favorite deity).

        • Susan

          if it is compelling evidence then it isn’t free will,

          How do you define free will so that it is augmented by a lack of compelling evidence?

          Even further, that compelling evidence negates it?

        • Pofarmer

          Wouldn’t you still be free to ignore the compelling evidence?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I love the weasel introduction of the word “compelling” here.

          I wonder what Scott means by this term and what he classes as such.

          The Hebrews walking out of Egypt apparently had all the compelling evidence that could be mustered, but time and again rejected the big I Am. All that smoting by YahwehJesus around them, compelling evidence I’d suggest, and yet free will still prevailed.

          Unless, of course, it’s all a pile of nonsensical claptrap that is?

        • adam

          Because bible God uses a carrot AND a stick, it CANNOT be free will, as it isnt free.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9bfb7cbb09a39ae8911c3879d7def113ab5277eb302961e16b02b2a649a0e7d6.jpg

        • Philmonomer

          Because if it is compelling evidence then it isn’t free will, is it?

          First, the definition of “free will” here seems very murky, It strikes me that it there is a huge potential for problems if we are talking about something that isn’t well defined.

          Second, let’s take something for which we have compelling evidence: gravity (in a general, layman’s understanding). Throw something up. It comes back down. You walk off a cliff, you fall to the bottom. How does having compelling evidence for gravity negate our free will? (It seems to me people choose the negative repercussions of gravity all the time.)

        • MNb

          When I jump off a tower gravity does violate my free will – I want to fall upward but can’t!

        • adam

          Hence the basic difference between will and choice.

          Gravity violates MY free will as well.

        • Philmonomer

          Yeah, but it isn’t the compelling evidence that violates your free will, it’s gravity itself.

        • epeeist

          First, the definition of “free will” here seems very murky, It strikes me that it there is a huge potential for problems if we are talking about something that isn’t well defined.

          Try the idea of libertarian free will, which holds that determinism is false (it is an incompatabilist position).

          The problem for the theist is that if we are causal agents and have free will then their god cannot be omniscient.