10 Questions Christians Must Answer

Atheism Christianity QuestionsI remember listening in amazement to a Christian podcast talking about a tragic situation made more tragic by Christianity. A panel of Christians were responding to a dilemma raised by a father whose 20-something son had recently died. That was bad enough, but the father’s Christian belief made it worse: according to his denomination, the son was not saved and so didn’t go to heaven on his death. The father’s own belief had put the son in torment in hell. The panel had the difficult task of tap dancing around the issue, offering the father comfort while being honest to their conservative Christian dogma.

Like Alexander cutting the Gordian Knot, the simple solution is to reject the unsubstantiated claim of a hell and any god that could put anyone there.

Tough questions to the Christian

I recently responded to ten questions from apologist J. Warner Wallace with the post, “The Christian Poses Tough Questions to the Atheist.” There’s not much to the list—it’s a collection of as-yet unanswered scientific questions and familiar deist apologetics—but it was a good exercise to address some of the best arguments claimed by the Fundamentalist worldview. With this post, I’d like to return the favor and present some of the toughest atheist challenges to the Christian.

Let’s start with five questions from an older atheist site, GodIsImaginary.com. You may have seen the video, “10 questions that every intelligent Christian must answer.” This was a powerful argument when I first saw it, and it’s just as hard hitting today.

These are tough problems for the Christian to answer, but, like the problem of the dead son in hell, I think they dissolve when looked at the right way.

1. Why won’t God heal amputees? You never see missing limbs spontaneously restored. Why is that? Surely the prayers from amputees and their loved ones are plaintive enough.

Christians might respond that God has a special, unknowable plan. They start with the presupposition that God is omnipotent and loves us, and they conclude that we simply don’t understand. (Some might say that there have indeed been reports of missing limbs restored, but I’m talking about scientifically verified healings—sorry to rain on the parade with a demand for evidence and all.)

2. Why are there so many starving people in our world? Doesn’t God answer their prayers? God has received uncountably many prayers both from the desperate people in the world and from healthy Westerners who are concerned about strangers in need. If God answers any prayers at all, why would they be for your finding a parking space over a starving person not dying?

As before, Christians might say that God has a plan—it may not make sense, but we’ll just have to trust him. Or that strangers’ suffering increases our opportunity to learn compassion or give charitably. But let’s not dwell on this too long, because it’s uncomfortable holding the competing ideas of a loving God vs. a god so disconnected with human problems that he allows widespread suffering.

3. Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense? Genesis begins with a flawed view of cosmology picked up from the Sumerians. There was no Flood and no Garden of Eden. Man came from evolution, not from dust. The Bible has no recipe for soap or basic medical advice.

Christians will say that the Bible has no intention of being a science textbook. It simply worked through the flawed worldview of the times. The Bible had no goal to improve the condition of our lives; it taught God’s rules, not health rules.

4. Why do bad things happen to good people? Shouldn’t good Christians get a break? Shouldn’t there be at least a little boost here on earth for making the right decision? How about something tangible to prove that one’s faith is well placed?

No, God works in mysterious ways. He gives strong faith as he sees fit. Even Mother Teresa complained about the lack of evidence that undercut her faith.

5. How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? Jesus could appear to you, but he doesn’t. He appeared to Paul after he died, so it’s not like he hasn’t done it before. He could appear to give you advice for a tough decision, give you comfort in person like a friend would, or just assure you that he really exists. He doesn’t.

The Christian might argue that God has his reasons, one of the oddest ones being: because then there would be no need for faith. Because apparently just having faith is a noble thing.

The other way of resolving these questions

As shown above, we could cobble together individual reasons for each of these questions. With the work of perhaps millions of determined theologians over the millennia, we have lots of material. Alternatively, we can cut the Gordian Knot with one simple, devastating hypothesis: there is no god.

Let’s run through the five problems to see how this hypothesis resolves them.

Why won’t God heal amputees? Because there is no God to restore their limbs or to answer prayers. “Answered prayers” are just wishful thinking and coincidence. You can pray to God, Shiva, or a jug of milk and get equally poor results.

Why are there so many starving people in our world? Because life is sometimes difficult, nature has no desire to make people either happy or unhappy, and there is no God to magically solve the problem.

Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense? Because it is a product of an Iron Age culture and has no more knowledge than people of Mesopotamia had at that time.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Rain falls on good people just like bad people. There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.

How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? Jesus is imaginary.

Next time: conclude with Part 2.

(I stand on the shoulders of giants. This post has been an opportunity to acknowledge one of the many sources of insight that I benefitted from in my early days as a seeking atheist. Thanks, Marshall Brain, the force behind GodIsImaginary.)

Strange…a God who could make good children as easily as bad,
yet preferred to make bad ones;
who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short;
mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness
multiplied seventy times seven and invented Hell;
who mouths morals to other people and has none himself;
who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all;
who created man without invitation,
then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man,
instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself;
and finally with altogether divine obtuseness,
invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!
— Mark Twain

Photo credit: Wikipedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • evodevo

    Re: #3 – That’s not what my Fundie friends say !!!

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

      They’re of the Ken Ham school of science, I guess?

  • CodyGirl824

    Tell us, please, Bob, why do you think that Christians MUST answer any of these questions? And which Christians are the ones who must? You’ve already provided your answers, so why should any Christians go to the bother to change your mind? I’m just asking so that the purpose of this “must answer” exercise for Christians is clearly stated up front.

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

      They must answer if they have any interest in making a credible claim to either themselves or to an outsider. You’re right–if they want to hold unsupported beliefs and give no thought to whether they’re credible or not, they can do that.

      • CodyGirl824

        Credible beliefs to ourselves as Christians? Are you claiming to be concerned about Christians’ personal spiritual growth and wanting to prompt questions that will spur our growth? Bob, you are being disingenuous.

        • MNb

          Don’t worry, Cody, there is no single reason why you should answer any question regarding christianity. Nobody here suspects you of trying to make credible claims to anyone.

        • CodyGirl824

          So does this mean I’m off the hook? I’m not one of those Christians who Bob thinks MUST answer his questions? Then which ones does this “must” apply to, especially when we don’t see answering his questions as personally edifying?

        • Cafeeine

          Those who which to maintain a degree of intellectual honesty.

        • smrnda

          Well, if atheists or non-Christians pose questions to Christians, we’re likely to want some answers. Do you want converts or not?

        • katiehippie

          The question isn’t ‘if’ you can answer. The question is ‘can’ you.

        • Kodie

          You don’t have to answer any questions you don’t know the answer to.

        • Greg G.

          If you want to pretend you are a Christian, you must obey 1 Peter 3:15:

          But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

        • MNb

          To the ones who insist that christianity makes credible claims. So not you – you have shown over and over again that you don’t.

        • Cafeeine

          Abandoning Christianity for a more rational position counts as personal spiritual growth in my view.

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

          Ah–I didn’t anticipate that response! You could just ignore my point. You got me.

        • RichardSRussell

          It is hardly necessary for Bob to supply all the fertilizer Christians need for their “personal growth” when they generate so much of it all by themselves.

        • Kodie

          Nobody is concerned about your personal growth.

    • Ron

      “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

  • MNb

    I’m gonna side with the christians this time, though not necessariliy in a way they will like.

    1. Problem of evil. One answer is original sin.
    2. Problem of evil – hence the same question as 1.
    3. The Bible never was meant as a scientific treatise.
    4. Problem of evil – hence the same question as 1.
    5. Why would having faith not be a noble thing?

    These answers may not satisfy me, atheist, but they may satisfy the christian who believes.

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

      Good point. I should’ve included The Fall/original sin.

      5. Why would eating grapes not be a noble thing? Uh … because it’s just not. Ditto having faith.

      • wtfwjtd

        That whole “original sin” concept always looked suspiciously like someone making up an excuse to explain why God treats mankind like shit. I never found it very convincing personally, even as a hard-core fundie.

        • Pofarmer

          Original sin becomes the excuse for everything, even though there is zero evidence for it. I’ve asked on multiple christian and Catholic forums And all you will ever get for evidence is “how things are.”. Literally everything not perfect can be attributed to original sin, which makes it completely non-predictive and bogus.

    • Deanjay1961

      5. Because you can have faith in anything at all.

  • MNb

    From a Dutch forum which has formulated more than 100 questions I have selected a few.

    11. Where does your god come from?
    12. Could you define your god more precisely, so that we know what your talking about?
    13. What’s the use af gazillions of galaxies?
    14. For Ol’ Hambo and his crew: how can an omniscient god be disappointed about his creation, so that he unleashes a flood?
    15. For the christians who accept Evolution Theory: how can your god be so indifferent towards animal suffering?

    • wtfwjtd

      I like #12: I’ve been told that the Christian god is invisible, undetectable, inaudible,and immaterial. So, how do we know anything at all about this god?. The only way this god is defined is with platitudes and meaningless jargon. And, his inaction and inability to act when called upon is always explained away by numerous lame excuses. I guess god is pretty much defined by whatever and however you want him to be. Sounds like the textbook definition of “imaginary” to me.

      • RichardSRussell

        (1) Many people have written in asking “How exactly will I know Kush when I meet him?”.

        (2) That’s easy.

        (3) You can’t see him, hear him, smell, taste, or feel him.

        (4) When you meet someone who matches that description, that’s Kush.

        (5) He’s one of a kind.

        (6) Accept no substitutes.

        —The Sacred Book of Kush, Chapter 10

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

      Great!

  • wtfwjtd

    An interesting note about question #1: Jesus never heals an amputee either. The closest we get is a man with a “withered hand”, whatever that means. So maybe this could be a Christian’s “lame” excuse(pun intended) for why we never see this–because Jesus didn’t, so amputees are just SOL. But then, they paint themselves into a corner–if we only get healing “miracles” as performed by Jesus in the gospels, there are going to be a lot more people that are SOL as well. So, another excuse needs to be invented by the Christian, I guess…
    Or, the most obvious explanation comes to mind: healing an amputee would be a tall order to fake, so this is going to be one “miracle” we’ll never see, and why Jesus couldn’t do it, either.

    • CodyGirl824

      The flaw in your thinking, wtfwjtd, is IMHO, your “miracles on demand” attitude. This is what I call the Cosmic Butler notion of God: He is just a super-powerful butler up there in heaven, waiting around until some human rings the bell to swoop down to take our orders. What sort of healing does an amputee need, wtfwjtd? Do you have any way of saying with certainty that God does not provide this healing? Only atheists are concerned about “fake” miracles. We Christians know real ones when we experience them.

      • Cafeeine

        “Only atheists are concerned about “fake” miracles.”
        More correctly, those who realize miracles are fake eventually become atheists.

        • CodyGirl824

          Those who accept no miracles as real or even as possible are atheists.

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

          Why do you say that atheists reject miracles as being possible?

        • hector_jones

          Because she defines miracles as coming from God.

        • CodyGirl824

          You got that one right, hector.

        • Kingasaurus

          That’s stupid. People of many different beliefs could, in theory, agree that a “miracle” has actually happened while still disagreeing about what the cause is. The problem is getting people to FIRST agree that such things actually take place and don’t instead have mundane causes or are just made-up stories.

        • MNb

          Resulting in a circular argument (and like Kinga write, a rather stupid one): god provides miracles, which are evidence for god. No wonder you don’t have a methodology to separate correct claims of miracles from incorrect ones.

        • Cafeeine

          Or deists, or pantheists. Don’t presume so much.

        • Deanjay1961

          There are plenty of people who believed until they found out their faith healers were fakers. Finding out miracles aren’t real often precedes atheism, rather than following it.

      • smrnda

        ” We Christians know real ones when we experience them.”

        Nothing but confirmation bias. Personal experience is pretty weak evidence for anything. Talk to anyone from any religion and they all say something like this, from Christians to pagans who are praying to Hecate.

        How am I supposed to sort out this nonsense when I’ve got all these people with conflicting beliefs telling me about their personal experiences? Isn’t it worth having some kind of falsifiable test?

        • CodyGirl824

          Why ask for a “falsifiable test” when if you are honest you will admit that you believe that miracles are impossible because there is no God? It is logical for atheists to claim that miracles are impossible because they must, in order to justify and maintain their atheism. Since they believe that no God exists, they can accept no account of a miracle as truth since miracles are evidence of God and there can be no evidence of anything that does not exist. Non-existence leaves not a trace. So we Christians don’t blame atheists for rejecting miracles. It is consistent with their belief system. We simply wish that they would accept the reality of the blessing of miracles as wondrous acts of God.

        • Cafeeine

          You’ve got the cart before the horse and try to apply the religious mindset of declaring God as real and massaging the facts to fit around it to atheism.

          Atheists usually care far less about atheism than theists care about theism. It is a conclusion, not a presupposition. It is the implausibility, vagueness and incoherence of miracle claims that will enable atheism rather than the other way around.

        • CodyGirl824

          Atheism is “enabled” by free will. Atheism is merely an elaborated opinion about what other people believe, or more to the point, what atheists believe that other people believe. The existence of atheists is clear and convincing evidence of the existence of free will. Whatever would we people of faith do without the Loyal Opposition?

        • katiehippie

          Atheism is non-belief in any gods. Not some opinion on what other people believe. Don’t flatter yourself.

        • Kodie

          That is a ridiculous conclusion that your faulty logic has led you to make. If you could tell how bad your arguments are, or, like, read anything we’ve ever explained to you before many, many times…. you might learn what atheism is. If you’re not going to read what people say, why should we tolerate your nonsense?

        • Cafeeine

          What in the world did free will have to do with my comment? Couldn’t you find a more direct way to attempt to derail it?

          Atheism is not a result of will independent of reality. It is the result of the lack of credible evidence for deities. Nothing necessarily elaborated about it either
          .
          “Whatever would we people of faith do without the Loyal Opposition”
          Have to decide which of the several thousand variations of sects of religions qualifies for the afterlife lottery?

        • katiehippie

          “Whatever would we people of faith do without the Loyal Opposition?”

          Search for another way to feel oppressed?

        • busterggi

          Turn on one another to kill off the heretics, a proud tradition of Christianity since it was started.

        • MNb

          Is that why Jesus got crucified? Because there weren’t atheists around back then to provide Loyal Opposition? You’re getting incoherent again.
          Not to mention that atheism is way older than christianity.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C4%81rv%C4%81ka

          Even your Superhero didn’t pull that off – starting the same movement at least twice.

        • Deanjay1961

          It’s not that elaborate. It’s not about what you believe, it’s about what we don’t believe. For those of us who are skeptics, we simply don’t believe in the existence of things without reasonable justfication.

        • MNb

          It’s the other way round. I don’t believe in any god because I never have seen miracles or any supernatural event (plus a few other reasons). You really have a hard time to get atheism, CodyGirl.

        • Deanjay1961

          More accurately, most of us don’t think any paranormal phenomena are real. Attribution of the phenomena to God is NOT the primary criteria for rejecting such claims. Investingating the claims and finding little to them over and over and over again has a lot more to do with it than rejecting the proposed source. In most cases, when someone starts out religious, as most atheists do still, skepticism precedes atheism. You find out how poorly supported the claims are before rejecting them. If I found out any paranormal phenomenon were real, I would happily reexamine my worldview.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve been praying tomthe left back door frame. So far it’s working out about the same as praying to Jesus ever did.

      • katiehippie

        I don’t demand god give me a miracle if he exists, but he can’t even manage to give someone else a miracle with complete proof. Anyone at all. Surely it’s in god’s plan somewhere that so-and-so is up for a miracle. Why wouldn’t god do something like that when it would be so easy for him? Can’t he do anything?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Why wouldn’t god do something like that when it would be so easy for him?”

          But, but, but…if he did that, then Christians wouldn’t need “faith” any more. And doubters like me would be forced to admit that there might be something to this “god” belief. That would just be too easy–I mean, where’s the fun in any of that? The way things are, Christians get to demand that people accept things on “faith”–that is, blind acceptance of religious dogma, without a shred of credible evidence–and people like you and I are still stuck with that darned old intractable demand for–I dunno, something like credible evidence. So, the Christian informs their belief system with faith–that is, blind acceptance with zero evidence–whereas, you and I inform our beliefs with evidence and reason. That way, “god” can tell us apart. He’s a crafty dude, this “god” fellow.

        • katiehippie

          Silly me. I should have thought of that. I’ll just have to keep slogging along with my damnable evidence based reasoning.

        • CodyGirl824

          You don’t know what you are talking about.

        • Kodie

          That’s what you sound like. You did just say to someone “why do you think that belief in god should be effortless?”

          The excuses abound for god’s absence. Did god tell you why he doesn’t answer prayers or is it just your assumption based on the fact that he doesn’t?

        • CodyGirl824

          Why do you think that belief in God should be effortless?

        • Kodie

          Why do you believe it shouldn’t?

        • katiehippie

          So what’s the use of the being who can do anything but wont. What’s the use of a being who wants you to think you are a horrible person that can only be saved by belief? Why would god need people to believe in him? He can do anything, why would he care what we think?

        • Cafeeine

          Because truthful beliefs require no effort to maintain. Some truths may be difficult to discover, like the existence of atoms, or the basis of morality, but once you have them, they do not need constant reinforcement.

        • Ron

          “We may define ‘faith’ as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of ‘faith.’ We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.”
          ~Bertrand Russell

        • CodyGirl824

          You might want to consult the definition of faith from Professor James Fowler, author of the book (1981) “Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human
          Development and the Quest for Meaning.” “Faith is “…a person’s way of leaning into and making sense of life, which is not equated just with belief or necessarily religious. It is a “…dynamic system of images, values, and commitments
          that guides one’s life.”

        • MNb

          Ron, you might not want to consult James Fowler, because he sells snake oil (this is a metaphor, Cody).

        • Ron

          Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as: “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

          It then lists numerous OT people whose faith was predicated upon trust in divine providence—i.e. a trust not based on empirical evidence.

          Bertrand’s point was that choosing to operate on faith rather than evidence eventually leads to conflict, because faith—a non-evidence-based view of reality—can never be defended rationally.

        • MNb

          Why do you think that belief in your god should be so extremely hard, especially if that god is said to be concerned about humanity? Mind you, I don’t expect him to do me a favour. I can hold up my own trousers and am hopelessly lost for christianity any way. The general point of question 2 though is that there are lots of people who badly need a little help – not to mention even more animals, who don’t even suffer from original sin. Your god doesn’t do anything for them; in fact he has constructed the Universe in such a way that suffering is unavoidable. That’s especially damning if we realize that according to christian doctrine a realm without such suffering is totally possible. That realm is called Heaven.
          At this point I always like to offer a deal. See, I don’t have existential fear. I am totally willing to give up my existence right here and now to allow good christians like you to enter Heaven immediately and skip the Vale of Tears called Earthly life. For you this deal means that you will be reunited with your late husband. Isn’t that an exciting prospect?
          Let’s begin small. I disappear into oblivion and non-existence, you disappear into Heaven. What is your god waiting for?

      • Kodie

        Should we name again all the flaws in your thinking?

      • katiehippie

        “Do you have any way of saying with certainty that God does not provide this healing? ”

        No, do you have any way of saying with certainty that he does?

      • RichardSRussell

        Flaw in our thinking? No, taking the Bible at its word is the problem:

        (23) … Verily, verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

        (24) Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

        —John 16:23-24

        • Ron
        • The Thinking Commenter

          While supplies last!

        • CodyGirl824

          What does the concept “to ask the Father in my name” mean to you? Or Jesus saying “ask in my name”? Remember the Commandment not to take the Lord’s name in vein. Remember also that for the ancient Hebrews, God’s name was so sacred that it could not be spoken or written. To ask for something in God’s name or in Jesus’s name to the Jews was a very serious and sacred matter of worship and faith. It appears here that your sense of “taking the Bible at its word” means that you are a literalist.

        • RichardSRussell

          It appears here that your sense of “taking the Bible at its word” means that you are a literalist.

          Well, either that or that Jesus was a blowhard. Or, more likely, being misrepresented by his fan club.

        • katiehippie

          “in vain”
          So…. you don’t believe what the bible says? How hard is “ask, and you shall receive”?

        • Kodie

          What’s wrong with being a literalist?

        • MNb

          For us atheists that it leads to attacking strawmen.

        • Kodie

          But then miracles are a matter of historical record for some reason, and we’re called mistaken when we are not literalists.

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

          Seems to me that taking the Bible at face value is about as much respect that a nonbeliever can offer. Handwaving excuses for its failures is actually disrespectful. The fundamentalist and the atheist are actually letting the Bible speak for itself.

        • CodyGirl824

          Drawing a parallel between fundamentalists and atheists is right on, Bob!

        • MNb

          The funny thing of course is that you’re partly a literalist as well – you refuse to accept the Resurrection as a metaphor. Nice double standard, CodyGirl – unless of course you explain your methodology.

      • Deanjay1961

        You’re right, that’s a totally unjustified expectation, it’s not like Jesus told his followers to expect miracles….
        The healing an amputee needs is to get their limb back. Why would you find that a question worth asking? A single verifiable example of this happening is all you would need to prove that it DOES happen. Surprise, we can’t prove a universal negative.
        Judging by how easily many Christians are taken in by demonstrably fake ‘miracles’, it is clear that Christians have no special ability to discern fake from real. It’s easy to walk into a charismatic church with some parlor tricks and get a reputation for being touched by the Holy Spirit.

    • KarlUdy

      Jesus healed the servant’s ear that Peter chopped off.

      • wtfwjtd

        Did he? It’s strange, only Luke seems to have recorded this detail, the others somehow missed it. Nonetheless, not exactly a limb regeneration, but it’s about as close as we’re going to get.

        And, I always thought it peculiar, that “one of those standing near” or “Peter” just happened to have his trusty sword handy, while going to pray in the garden, and seemed to know how to skillfully wield it too. Was a sword standard kit for a praying foray into a quiet garden ancient Palestine? One wonders…

        • Ron

          Wasn’t Peter also called Simon the Zealot? Perhaps he had a concealed carry permit.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, the writer of John calls him “Simon Peter”…but I don’t recall offhand if he was a Zealot or not. Maybe one of our resident Bible scholars can clear this up for us.

          I’m sure the Romans were happy to pass out a CCW or two, especially to the restless natives. I mean, what’s an extra sword or two among friends, right? After all, “an armed society is a polite society”….

        • GubbaBumpkin

          Or possibly, since he was a Zealot, he considered himself a citizen of the “Kingdom of Heaven,” and therefore did not feel obligated to follow the petty laws of earth-bound governments.

        • CodyGirl824

          As I understand the story, Peter grabbed the sword of one of the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus.

        • busterggi

          One would think a bunch of armed soldiers might not take kindly to being attacked by a suspected rebel with a sword – odd that no retaliation is described, in reality Peter should have been turned nto hamburger.

      • KarlUdy

        Did he? It’s strange, only Luke seems to have recorded this detail, the others somehow missed it.

        It is in all four gospels.

        The question was “Why won’t God heal amputees?” and people do get fingers, toes etc amputated, so I thought this qualified.

        In Luke, just prior to Jesus’ arrest, the disciples mention that they have two swords amongst their group.

        • wtfwjtd

          Did he? It’s strange, only Luke seems to have recorded this detail, the others somehow missed it.

          “It is in all four gospels.”
          That’s part of my point–the story of the *attack* is in all four gospels, but the “healing miracle” is only mentioned in one. How could the others have missed this incredible event? *If* it actually happened this way, that is…

        • Ron

          Well, John did say:

          “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” John 21:25

          This must have been one of those miracles he left out for lack of space.

        • wtfwjtd

          Oh, but of course, that *must* be it!

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

        And add to that that the followers of Jesus will be able to do all the miracles Jesus could and more, we should see this in our own day, all the time.

        I must be reading the wrong papers.

    • Greg G.

      When Jesus gets arrested at Gethsemane, Peter hacks off somebody’s ear and Jesus sticks it back on in Luke 22:51. Doesn’t that count?

      • wtfwjtd

        Yep, we discussed this one below Greg, I remarked that it’s interesting that while all 4 gospels have an account of the attack, only the writer of Luke mentions this remarkable healing. Incredible–how could the other 3 gospel writers have missed this astounding event? That is, if it actually happened at all…

        Also, I posted the following comment:

        And, I always thought it peculiar, that “one of those standing near” or “Peter” just happened to have his trusty sword handy, while going to pray in the garden, and seemed to know how to skillfully wield it too. Was a sword standard kit for a praying foray into a quiet garden ancient Palestine? One wonders…

        Any ideas or insights here?

        • Greg G.

          Peter was supposed to be standing guard. It is never mentioned that they carried weapons anywhere though. Perhaps when it says that Peter had a sword, we should read steak knife. It reminds me of A Boy Named Sue where his father cut off a piece of his ear.
          I find it hard to believe that Peter wouldn’t have been arrested for assault. If he was wanted, he wouldn’t have been hanging out at the courthouse where a capital crime was being judged.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, the story in all 4 gospels said that “(he) drew his sword” –Matt 26:51, Mark 14:47, Luke 22:49, and John 18:10. Heck, in Luke apparently all of Jesus’s followers were packing cutlery. They were ready to rumble!

          Great minds think alike, I guess. What you said about Peter crossed my mind too–why wouldn’t he have been arrested?
          This story is a perfect example of how the gospels were written. The only logical explanation for how only Luke wrote about the healing, and that only John and Matthew knew it was Peter who struck, is clear evidence of 1 story becoming 4. There’s simply no other reasonable explanation that would fit.
          This story works as a literary device, but when you think it through, it’s clear that actual events would not have happened as they are presented here.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, one story told four times by different authors who included different details in their narrative but are obviously talking about the same people and events. This is a description of testimony. What makes you think that when a story is told multiple times, this fact casts doubt on its truth? Your conclusion is illogical.

        • Deanjay1961

          If four people tell a story about the same event, one doesn’t expect all the dtails to match, sans any divine guarantee of accuracy. If one of them goes on about a gorilla that none of the others mention (for instance), that’s odd. That’s reson to think that one is making up part of the story. Surely if there had really been a gorilla, the others would have mentioned it, too.

  • RichardSRussell

    Tuff to top Twain.

  • Nemo

    Too much problem of evil stuff in here. The problem of evil doesn’t pose a problem for the Bible, since the Bible states that Yahweh creates suffering and evil. You could argue that Yahweh is not benevolent, but that has nothing to do with whether he exists or not.

    • RichardSRussell

      I agree. I’ve often said the same thing about free will. People would dearly love to believe they have it, but it’s hard to figure out how such a thing would work, since we’re all products of our DNA and environment. Nonetheless, those who dearly believe it will object to all sorts of Xes with “But that would mean we don’t have free will”, as if that’s a conclusive argument against X, when it’s nothing of the sort.

      I think what Bob is getting at here is less “God doesn’t exist” than that “If your God does exist, he’s a flaming asshole and doesn’t deserve anything better than your utter contempt and loathing, let alone praise and admiration. Fersher the benevolent, kindly, loving deity whom you present in your PR materials doesn’t exist at all — never did.”

      • Kodie

        I’ve only been able to understand that they mean by free will that god is apparent and we are given a choice to worship or reject it. And we have a lot of other choices in life we can make mostly regarding whether we obey god or disobey god, for example the “choice” to be gay is one of their favorites. We can choose “sin” or suppress our natural “sin” and live strictly by the book in obedience to the prescription of a life where we avoid “sin” to honor god. However, I don’t see Christian parents allowing for free will among their children. They have to be trained right in the ways of god and it’s among the family’s biggest tragedies should the child grow up to think for themselves and be themselves by being an atheist or gay or both, such that they may be thrown out of the house.

        That is, there are earthly consequences to “free will” of rejecting the apparent god – rejection from the family or community, not having equal rights, etc.

        Out of the other side of their mouths, “why do you think a belief in god should be effortless?” He wants us so badly to find him, he’s apparent and we’re just rejecting him, and yet we’re also supposed to expend the effort it takes to meet god in the first place, and we’re to expect him to do nothing at all while we do.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      A good point: the “omni-God” of the philosophers, about whom all the logical “proofs” are presented, is not Jealous (Exod 34:14) of Teh Bible. Therefore, all the logical defenses provided in service to the omni-God, and all the claims of non-disprovability, do not apply to Jealous. He is on his own, and can be easily rejected on the strength of the evidence.

      BTW, RichardSRussell, the term “free will” appears nowhere in Teh Bible, so it is bizarro to see it offered in a defense of Jealous.

  • KarlUdy

    In answer to your 5 questions here:
    1) The issue is not why God won’t heal amputees but why we are not presented with compelling evidence of God healing amputees. There could well be healings of amputees that I do not hear about or am unable to verify because of a separation of time and/or distance. If we ask why we are not given verification of
    such miracles, then we are asking that healings not be acts of compassion on God’s part, but instead that they function as an audition for our allegiance.

    2) There are two sides to this. The first is understanding what sort of a problem this is. In terms of the problem of evil, starvation (in our time, at least) is very much a case of human evil as opposed to natural evil. That God does not directly prevent humans engaging in evil acts and practices because of the value of free will is well-established. Natural evil is a different story, but not one you have raised here. The second side is that God is indeed working to feed the hungry.

    3) It is inaccurate to say the Bible contains “anti-scientific nonsense”. It can not be anti-scientific because it was not written against a background of anything that could be called “scientific” as opposed to knowledge in general. And to the use of “nonsense” is a pejorative and prejudicial term that adds nothing to the argument.

    4) Some of the most profound writing on this topic is found in the Bible. Christianity is founded on the idea that the best person suffered the worst fate.

    5) This goes back to 1). On what basis can I demand that God should appear directly to me? He has to other people in the past, and based on reports still does (especially in Muslim countries). But he has no obligation to appear to me. He is my Lord, not vice versa.

    • James

      No offense, but every answer you gave here sounds like an excuse for why we don’t have evidence for the existence of one particular deity and not actual evidence.

      1) according to the BIble, God once did give compelling evidence of superanural healings, giving his followers the ability to perform miracles in his name and so forth. And sense the invention of the scientific method, scientific medice and the camera, there has not been even one single documented case of a supernatural healing – why do you suppose that is? Conversely, medicle science cures people all the time – and healing does not require anything supernatural.

      2) If God is indeed working to feed the hungry, why are there still hungry people? Is there some limitation to omnipotence that we are not aware of? What is your evidence that feeding the hungry requires divine intervention? Please show us a single real world example that backs your claims – as Bob pointed out in an earlier post, Churches are as efficent as country clubs when it comes to delivering charity.

      3) Fair enough – then it contains lots of information that suspeciously looks like pseudo-scientific nonsense that has a 2K+ year history of being interpreted as pseudo-scientific nonsence, but it is in fact poetic, allegorical spirit lifting stories intended to convey morals (some of which are quite dubious) – which distinguishes the Bible from any other myth, how exactly?
      4) What is your evidence that Jesus was the best person? What is your evidence he suffered the worst fate? On the contrary, the gospel story reads like the narrative of a pefectly ordinary faith healer and Golden-rule centric preacher – just like many others of his era – who died a perfectly ordinary death on a cross. Others have suffered worse. He also doesn’t see particuarlly moral – violently kicking people out of a market where they had every legal right to be, destroying someone else’s personal property – a fig tree – because it would not bare fruit out-of-season, calling a Samaritan woman a “dog” and so forth. And where is the evidence any of this occured? In the Bible narrative, Jesus demonstrates he is someone special by performing miracles – and there is absolutely no evidence of miracles either today or at any time in the past.
      5) Nice rationalization – do you see how your claim doesn’t require the slightest trace of evidence to believe it? Well, I’m off to feed my pet invisible pet dragon who eats immaterial virgins.

      • Kingasaurus

        —–No offense, but every answer you gave here sounds like an excuse for why
        we don’t have evidence for the existence of one particular deity and
        not actual evidence.—–

        Yes.

        On a related point: Part of the reason for raising the question is that the overwhelming majority of claimed supernatural healings are healings of things which have a statistical chance of being cured on their own, with only human intervention at best. Tumors can shrink, there are spontaneous remissions which aren’t credited to any supernatural being, etcetera. The ones that aren’t like that are incredibly difficult to track down and say anything at all about them – the possibility of hoax or rumor-mongering is always greater than a genuine miracle, because our information about such things is almost never better than hearsay and urban-legend stuff. Why do the few claimed leg-regrowths happen somewhere far away where we can never track it down?

        So basically, the small percentage of people who don’t die and recover from whatever severe ailment they have, can always claim that some god was at least partially responsible for helping them recover. Such a claim is totally unfalsifiable of course, and useless to prove anything of the sort. There aren’t one set of statistics for illness-recovery for people who pray for healings, and another set for people who don’t.

        The bottom line is that if some god is omnipotent, then growing back a leg or restoring a severed spinal cord is just as easy and effortless as making a tumor disappear or eliminating someone’s back pain. So why do we only ever see the latter and never the former? Why are people only supernaturally “cured” of things which are statistically possible for improvement without miraculous intervention?

        The most parsimonious explanation is that god doesn’t exist, and people get healed from all sorts of things for all sort of mundane reasons (and often falsely imagine supernatural help in their recovery), but amputees and quadraplegics with severed spinal cords never are.

        If a god existed, why would he only heal certain things in such a way that makes it look like he isn’t even there?

        • Pofarmer

          “There aren’t one set of statistics for illness-recovery for people who pray for healings, and another set for people who don’t.”

          The religious like to say that we couldn’t “detect God” if he didn’t want us to, but modern hospitals keep statistics on everything, quite literally. If there was a correlation in their somewhere, they would tease it out.

        • JohnH2

          Again, Statistics is more about what we do not know than about what we do. If something has a chance of being healed then there is a reason for it, the chance alone is a non-explanation.

        • Kingasaurus

          Based on what we know about diseases, even if incomplete, indicates that appealing to supernatural explanations is unparsimonious and unnecessary.

        • JohnH2

          I fail to see why an Omnipotent and Omniscient being would need to resort to anything termed supernatural in order to accomplish anything.

        • Kingasaurus

          Since you’ve got god all figured out then, you don’t need my help.

        • JohnH2

          You weren’t trying to figure out God, you were attempting to demonstrate that He doesn’t exist via the lack of healing. Which is bunk on the face of it as every study must be controlled precisely for healing based on the belief of those in the study that they are being treated and will be healed.

        • Kingasaurus

          The God hypothesis is unnecessary based on what we observe.
          Why does god never grow back someone’s limb? Doesn’t feel like it? Likes messing with people?

        • JohnH2

          Asserting something doesn’t make it true.

          We are discussing limbs elsewhere, no need to re-ask that.

        • Kingasaurus

          When you keep failing to answer adequately, it needs to be re-asked.

        • Kodie

          It’s bunk that god heals any ailments any time someone demonstrates that he has and clearly overlooks the ones that there is no chance. Your understanding of statistical probabilities again faulty here – god could have made us regrow limbs. If he is in the womb forming limbs from a fertilized egg, and can regenerate tissue otherwise, this doesn’t seem to be too much to ask.

        • JohnH2

          Yes, i imagine in the future we will be able to regrow limbs.

        • Kingasaurus

          God can do it now if he wants to. Why is he bothering with back pain and psoriasis?

        • JohnH2

          Because people deeply believe those to be healable.

        • Kingasaurus

          God is an omnipotent, yet impotent nothing, constrained by nature (which he supposedly made) and what humans can currently do (which he also supposedly made).

          This is completely demented. This is how an imaginary being operates.

        • Kodie

          Because people believe them to be healable or because instances have occurred in which they have been cured? Your presumptions there’s a god gets you to make silly answers to direct questions.

        • wtfwjtd

          Now, King, don’t set your expectations so high. I mean, gee whiz, it’s not like we’re talkin’ about god here, is it? Oh, wait…

        • Kodie

          Without god.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      1) The issue is not why God won’t heal amputees but why we are
      not presented with compelling evidence of God healing amputees. There
      could well be healings of amputees that I do not hear about or am unable
      to verify because of a separation of time and/or distance…

      You be crazy.

      We live in a world of instantaneous worldwide media, with many news outlets eager to pander to the believing masses. We hear about it every time Jesus H. Christ appears in a burrito or on a dog’s butt. If you think that amputees are being healed, but you’re just not hearing about it, then you are seriously out of touch with reality. Seek help.

      • KarlUdy

        There are lots of places around the world that the media ignores.

        And even with places that it would be possible to hear initial reports and get a media team into to follow up a story, many places don’t have well-documented medical records.

        And even if there just happened to be someone with a camera recording what looks to be an amputee healing, can you honestly say that you would not think that the recording was edited as either a fraud or a hoax? And no news agency would want to be stung by a hoax.

        This is the reality.

        • Kodie

          Not that it would… have to be a hoax? In the areas where media coverage is ample, the same news outlets feel no hazard to report another kind of healing, the kind of recovery that takes place because of medicine and is on the inside. You get someone given a dire diagnosis and gets well, if they ignore the medical intervention and the statistical probabilities, the person gets well, defying their diagnosis, and attributes this wellness to Jesus. True believers don’t call this a hoax. No amputees, they’re hidden for bullshit reasons that they happen all the time where people don’t have cameras or media coverage and could be a hoax! Why is god intent on keeping these occurrences out of the media? Why, when the Bostom Marathon bombing happened, when soldiers come home from war, when people have their limbs eaten off by infection, in the civilized world, does not ONE of their prayers regrow their missing limbs!!! Your answer is “because, duh, I don’t know, maybe.”

        • JohnH2

          How often do those people actually pray for the regrowth of missing limbs?

        • hector_jones

          Oh good point. Who would pray for something as trivial as that huh? Or could it be that no one prays for limb regrowth because they know it’s a waste of time?

        • JohnH2

          Given modern sensibilities about such things, your second question is likely to be the answer.

          But I don’t actually know if they do or do not pray for their limbs to regrow; they might, they might not. My suspicion is that very few people do and fewer do and actually think that healing is a possibility.

        • hector_jones

          ‘Modern sensibilities’? I call it facing reality. Even the most devout realize that there are no instances where their god ever regrew someone’s missing limb, so they don’t even bother asking him for it. It’s the very same reason why kids only ask Santa for toys that just happen to be made in factories in China.

        • Kodie

          I love how you people get really curious about specifics whenever faced with criticism of your beliefs. God didn’t answer them on a technicality that nobody specifically asked! Really? That’s your answer? JohnH2’s answer is “god is a dick”.

        • JohnH2

          It was a question, not an answer.

        • Kodie

          Right, your question implied that nobody asks so god doesn’t answer. You theists get awfully hung up on technicalities when it suits you.

        • JohnH2

          If nobody is seriously asking then how can God be to blame for not answering an unasked question?

          James 4:2-3.

        • Kodie

          How do you know nobody is asking him?

        • Kingasaurus

          You think nobody is? No amputee desperately would like to have their amputated limb back? Really?

        • JohnH2

          Desperately? Sure they would desperately want it back.

          Desperation though is not the prerequisite.

        • hector_jones

          Desperation is the motivation to pray, silly. You are the one claiming no one prays for this particular miracle because …

        • Kingasaurus

          Why are you acting so dense? The point is at least a few of them are desperately asking god to restore them. You don’t think so? Don’t hang around much with people who want god to relieve them of some physical difficulty? is this your first rodeo?

        • JohnH2

          Again, desperation is not and never is the prerequisite; reiterating that there are people that desperately want something doesn’t change that.

        • Kingasaurus

          People are ASKING. Which you just denied.

          Knock it off.

        • JohnH2

          You left out a word.

        • Kingasaurus

          Yes, they’re asking seriously. My grandfather had many amputations due to diabetes. He seriously asked. Your ridiculous notion that god won’t do anything that is beyond modern technology because nobody asks him to do anything beyond technology is utterly stupid, and in gross contradiction to the facts.

        • Kodie

          Do you know what the prerequisite is?

        • JohnH2

          Faith, obviously.

        • hector_jones

          So no amputee has faith? Not a single one?

        • JohnH2

          Everyone has faith, you are asking the wrong question.

        • Kodie

          That’s the answer you gave. If there is more to it, oh do go on.

        • JohnH2

          The question isn’t whether someone has faith, but rather what they have faith in and of.

        • hector_jones

          Why is no one seriously asking, John?

        • JohnH2

          I would imagine because it is believed not to be possible; at least not with current technology.

        • hector_jones

          Current technology? You are very confused John. We are talking about miracle healing, not healing by means of modern technology.

        • JohnH2

          Why do you think there is a difference?

        • hector_jones

          Because modern technology is the work of humans John. Please don’t try to tell me that this is how god works – he doesn’t perform miracles directly, he just gives us the tools to heal people, even though we only get those tools from millions of human-hours of research and development and trial and error. Don’t even go there John if you want to maintain any credibility.

        • JohnH2

          God gave us sense, reason, and intellect allowing us the tools to understand and change our world and inspires people to do good and towards knowledge; yet when people use their sense, reason, and intellect and do good I am supposed to not confess the hand of God in that? Seems inconsistent to me.

        • Kingasaurus

          It’s redundant.

          God is the stone in “stone soup.”

        • JohnH2

          It’s redundant to you because we are approaching the question differently. You are assuming God doesn’t exist and trying to see if there is a “proof” of that in healings. I know God to exist independent of healings and am trying to understand the mind of God through the healings.

        • Kingasaurus

          Sure you do.

        • JohnH2

          i do, and attributing dishonesty to those that disagree with you isn’t a good way to conduct an argument.

        • Kingasaurus

          You’re not consciously dishonest. Just delusional.

        • JohnH2

          Precisely my point, you are claiming to know that I don’t know what I know.

        • Kingasaurus

          Claiming to “know” something when your evidence stinks doesn’t get you anywhere with anyone else who isn’t completely credulous.

        • Kodie

          The mind of god as you have already implied is that he’s a dick. You don’t have a satisfactory answer and are making things up as you go along.

        • JohnH2

          I am well aware of your opinion that God is a dick, Kodie.

        • Kodie

          You think he’s a dick too, you are just ok with it.

        • JohnH2

          I wouldn’t quite put it that way.

        • Kodie

          I’m not saying you would. Of course you wouldn’t, you have been doing all the shoveling.

        • Deanjay1961

          What healings? The perfectly natural ones? If so, what does believing they’re possible have to do with anything? If miraculous, why does God never, ever, restore a lost limb?

        • JohnH2

          “The perfectly natural ones?”

          Which is precisely the point in question.

          For the placebo effect knowing that one is getting a placebo lessens the effect; meaning that belief is highly important in those healings. Furthermore there are strict efforts by hospitals to be positive with patients and optimistic because belief that one will or can get better is highly statistically significant in getting better.

          God will restore all lost limbs in the resurrection.

        • hector_jones

          This is a common misunderstanding of the placebo effect. It most certainly does not mean that any healing you desire is possible if you just believe it is. The placebo effect rarely involves any healing at all.

        • JohnH2

          “any healing you desire is possible if you just believe it is”

          That isn’t what I claimed at all.

        • hector_jones

          Ok, you argued that any healing that is ‘possible’ can happen due to the placebo effect. No, that’s not what the placebo effect means at all. It’s no where near as powerful an effect as even that.

        • JohnH2

          I don’t see trying to make each other understand what the other means on this point to be worth it.

        • hector_jones

          Ok.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why you think positive thinking is relevant.

          2, empty promises.

        • Deanjay1961

          There’s nothing supernatural about the placebo effect.
          What makes lost limbs something you have to wait for while ailments anyone can heal from spontaneously can get immediate attention? The obvious answer is that natural healing is the only kind we get in this world and you’re fooling yourself if you think your particular healing is the exception. I’d be interested in your take, though.

        • JohnH2

          Depends on what you mean by supernatural.

          The supernatural is natural, and God works within nature.

        • hector_jones

          So god doesn’t actually perform miracles at all. He created us, then stood back to let us go about our lives and figure things out for ourselves? And when some poor deserving soul suffers from an amputation or an incurable malady the best god can do is say ‘too bad you weren’t born a couple centuries from now when the human race will have figured out how to cure you’.

        • JohnH2

          God performs miracles all the time, but also lets us go about our lives and figure things out for ourselves, those aren’t contradictory states of affairs.

          There have always been those that have survived incurable maladies, and a very few recorded instances of amputations being healed. Whether more happen than are recorded is not something I know.

          But yes, God has shown those in the past days in the future so that despite what they were forced to live through they would still have some hope.

        • hector_jones

          Circular.

        • JohnH2

          See my response to Kingasaurus on that same claim.

        • Kodie

          The fictional character of god leaves us all to lean on one another and never intervenes because he’s fictional. I love how you ask specific questions to disprove your beliefs but you don’t answer specific questions to prove them. You are making assertions, like “god performs miracles all the time”. Which miracles are you talking about?

        • JohnH2

          A change of heart is the specific miracle which I am referring to, as it is really the only one that matters in some sense.

        • Kodie

          I see you attribute belief in god to a miracle created by god, while I see it as a combination of wishful thinking and gullibility. I have said that your arguments are “convincing” in the sense that some people are convinced by them, but they are not logical or rational. I read your Moroni book and felt nothing, it’s just words on a page. It seems you really have to want it to be true to conjure up your own beliefs and then a character who fulfills that belief, making a relationship with an imaginary friend.

        • Kodie

          John’s understanding of statistical probability is that god distributes most of the outcomes toward the middle and deliberately hands out extremely unlikely but possible outcomes to a few at either end. He doesn’t say why.

        • Kingasaurus

          LOL. Isn’t that exactly what would happen anyway without a god? Hmmm…..

        • Kodie

          I don’t know. He says everything that happens has too many variables we can’t ever manage to control for, except god certainly exists. His example is a coin-flipping machine that flips coins consistently one way if they are set a certain way. God doesn’t work outside the possible, so everything possible is indication of god’s intervention, possibly his meddling in every variable to arrive at whatever outcome is arrived at. It seemed he was implying that without god, the results would distribute evenly, or perhaps all land in the exact middle of the distribution and have no variation. I’m not sure about the last part, but he was certain god has a hand in distributing outcomes on a bell curve on purpose.

        • Kingasaurus

          Uh, that sounds reasonable.

          Just kidding.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Coin flipping machine”? That sounds a lot like my Magic 8-ball, only it’s “god” operating it. Yeah, sounds plausible. I knew there was something to that thing!

        • Kodie

          The link was from NPR. Someone invented a machine that gives consistent flips because of machine precision, whereas normally a coin flip is prone to variables that a human can’t normally control, i.e. intervention by god to make the coin go higher, flip more or less times in the air, wind, etc.

        • JohnH2

          Actually, I think there are pure random events rather than just uncontrolled variables, but without controlling for all variables there is no way to be sure if there are pure random events.

          Any argument of what would or would not happen without God is pointless as we have one data point and that data point is precisely what we are debating over. So my point is not that statistics prove God, but that attempting to say they disprove God when statistics is precisely about choice and the unknown rather than the known is a misunderstanding of statistics.

        • Kodie

          The aggregation of non-controlled variables provides outcomes on a bell curve naturally. When variables are controlled, you see outcomes graphed in another shape.

        • JohnH2

          That really depends on what setting we are talking about.

        • Kodie

          Your claim that god distributes random outcomes on a bell curve, distributing the unlikely survival rate of a disease to a few… you don’t sound like you know about numbers at all. A possible variable in this situation is changing diet, for example. A lot of cancer survivors go on talk shows to talk about their complete change of diet that they believe contributed to their recovery, in addition to medicine. Prognoses aren’t prophesies, they are based on statistics – “doesn’t look good, nearly always fatal, maybe 6-12 months left to live”. A lot of people defy those odds if they are caught in time, treated and respond to medicine, and probably change their diet. It doesn’t work for everyone, most likely not responding optimally to the medicine. Meanwhile, this is the best known medicine so far for their illness, yet only a few respond well and get better from it. Most experience some alleviation of symptoms and extend their life for a few months at best. A best case scenario is a quality of life for the time you have left to sew up your personal affairs and not be bedridden with tubes in your arm for up to a year, or believe you have minimum 6 months to work with and die in two weeks.

        • Kodie

          Holy shit, current technology is developing the most awesome prosthetics! God can’t do it, amputees need their fucking limbs back, and science and engineering doesn’t take god’s answer of “impossible”. Why would it be impossible for god? I gave you two examples of “god’s” doing, he can easily grow limbs from a blob of cells and he can regenerate tissue. Doesn’t seem impossible for god.

        • JohnH2

          Right, it is obviously not impossible for God as everyone will have their bodies restored to a perfect state in the resurrection.

        • Kodie

          A non-answer. We’re talking about compared to other healings attributed to god on earth right now and in the past, none of these healings are regrown limbs.

        • Deanjay1961

          You don’t know any Pentecostals, eh?

        • CodyGirl824

          This question is not a criticism of anyone’s beliefs, but it is evidence that atheists grasp at straws in their attempts to justify their own crazy notions about God.

        • Kingasaurus

          Yeah, we’ve all got a bunch of “crazy notions” about your invisible friend. Yup.

        • wtfwjtd

          Is there any other kind of notion about an invisible, undetectable, inaudible, and immaterial friend?

        • Kodie

          They’re legitimate questions no Christian can honestly answer, but you must ask the questions yourself and be satisfied with the excuses.

        • Deanjay1961

          We only respond to other people’s assertions about God. We don’t make this stuff up to make believers look gullible, they supply all the material themselves. If your belief is different, by all means, trot it out.

        • Deanjay1961

          You mean before giving up in anguish?

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

          Is this a trick question? You think that the thousands of devout Christians who’ve lost limbs have never stopped to think that prayer might be useful?

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, address JohnH2’s question, since your entire premise is that some amputee somewhere in the world at some point in time has prayed faithfully to God to restore (grow back) his/her severed limb but that God has ignored his/her prayers or denied his/her request. We are entitled to know if this has ever happened as you claim and how you know this in order to make the claim in the first place.

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

          So your hypothesis is that the reason we never see regrown limbs is that no Christian amputee has ever bothered to pray for it?

          Devastating. I think the burden of proof for this remarkable claim is yours.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Bob, you asked the question, which has an embedded assumption, which is, in fact, a claim. Remember that the one who makes the claim bears the burden of proof. But, I really do not expect you to be able to prove that something has never happened. This would require omniscience and I know that you are not omniscient. So, simply admitting that this question is ridiculous and that this exercise is nonsense will suffice.

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

          So that is your hypothesis, then? That the reason we never see regrown limbs is that no Christian amputee has ever bothered to pray for it?

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

          Do you avoid uncomfortable questions? It’s a simple request for a clarification of your demand. I’ll repeat it for your convenience:

          So that is your hypothesis, then? That the reason we never see regrown limbs is that no Christian amputee has ever bothered to pray for it?

          Simply admitting that your position is ridiculous will suffice.

        • JohnH2

          Admitting ridiculousness or foolishness isn’t a problem. 1 Corinthians 1:21

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

          My last line was simply an echo of Cody’s charming proposal.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Bob. I’m not the one demanding that Christians answer his questions. I am merely examining and parsing the assumptions that underlie and are embedded in your question, which is, verbatim from your article: “Why won’t God heal amputees?”

          Your use of the word “won’t” means that you base your question on the premise (assumption) that God willfully refuses to heal amputees (by growing their severed limbs back) despite genuine requests to do so. You are asking whatever Christian addresses your question to give you his/her best guess as to why God refuses to do something that God has been asked to do. Therefore, it is YOU who makes two assumptions: 1) A single request or many has/have been made for “healing” by amputees and that God is unwilling to grant the request. You have now been asked by two Christians (at least) to prove that there have been such requests (prayers) before we speculate on what reasons God may have for not granting them. This is logic and critical thinking in response to your question, which is not ridiculous, even though your question is.

        • 90Lew90

          I don’t think it’s ridiculous to ask why a supposedly omnipotent and thoroughly benevolent god wouldn’t heal an amputee, particularly when his son is supposed to have done similar good things for people. I think it’s a fair question. What I do find ridiculous is that grown-ups believe this shit. I find that ridiculous and sad and I find the people who make a living out of perpetuating this myth to be fed to the gullible loathsome.

        • CodyGirl824

          If you acknowledge that Jesus healed amputees, then you have your answer. God IS willing to heal amputees, through His son who He sent to perform miracles and signs so that we can know God’s love for us. God’s willingness to heal is not in question.

        • 90Lew90

          I acknowledge that he is *supposed* to have healed people, but as has been pointed out, a doctor on an accident and emergency ward does more for individuals every week than the supposed Jesus of Nazareth did in a lifetime.

          “God IS willing to heal amputees, through His son who He sent to perform miracles and signs so that we can know God’s love for us.”

          Do you realise for one minute how ludicrous this sounds?

          “God’s willingness to heal is not in question.” Yes, based on the claims made about him, yes it very much is. Because he/she/it doesn’t. (How, by the way, do you know which it is: he/she/it? Given its apparent distaste for sex I would assume it’s an ‘it’.)

        • Kodie

          I think it is. You haven’t demonstrated that “god” has healed anything. It’s an unsupported claim that he has, but he seems to have a certain prejudice against giving amputees their limbs back. We have a guy who posted in this thread that amputees definitely pray for for their limbs back. So stop supporting the notion that maybe it’s because nobody ever asked. Why not? Do people who have faith not have enough faith that god can do that? What is impossible for god to heal? Why wouldn’t they ask? Why would they presume to know what god can and cannot do before they even try and ask him? Let’s talk about these Christians and their shitty faith if that’s not something they would even ask. Let’s talk about them and how they go to the doctor when they’re sick, and take medicine and undergo surgeries when they’re sick, and pray to god for it all to go well in their favor, and give credit to god when the medicine works.

          Let’s talk about how they would not even conceive to ask god for their limbs back because that would be ridiculous. People wouldn’t have stopped asking, if indeed they ever stopped, if it ever happened once.

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

          No, Bob. I’m not the one demanding that Christians answer his questions.

          OK, now maybe that was my fault. I thought that if I ask a clarifying question, you’d answer. Perhaps that’s my bad for thinking that you would deign to explain your position.

          Do I need to say “please”?

          Yo u have now been asked by two Christians (at least) to prove that there have been such requests (prayers) before we speculate on what reasons God may have for not granting them.

          You have now been asked (politely) three times to explain your position. It is so incredible to me that I want to make sure I’m understanding it first before I answer the wrong question.

        • CodyGirl824

          My “position”? You might not have caught the most recent exchange below between 90Lew90 and me where I explain how IMO, God has shown (provided evidence) that He will heal amputees through the miracles of healing that Jesus performed, which another poster, JohnH2 perhaps, cited. But in addition, let me describe this hypothetical scenario:

          A Christian named Luke suffered an injury serving as a marine in Iraq and lost his leg. Luke, in his grief and desperation over his loss and resulting handicap, prays to God to send him the miracle of having his lost leg grow back. Luke really doesn’t just want his leg back. He wants the life he had before his injury back, as if the injury had never happened, but nonetheless, he prays with an usual level of detail in regard to the healing miracle he desires. Luke has a fruitful and devoted prayer life and he awaits God’s answer. He begins to realize that if God were to make his leg grow back, he would not have his pre-injury life back at all. He would become a celebrity. He would be the focus of much publicity and scrutiny, most especially from skeptics who would hound him day and night for “evidence” that his leg had been severed and that he wasn’t just faking it somehow in claiming that his leg had miraculously grown back. Luke knows that God loves him enough not to impose a miracle on him that would so dramatically change his life in ways that he neither desires nor asked for in his prayers. God reasons with Luke and Luke accepts God’s will that a miracle is not the answer, but that his life body and soul will be healed in God’s time and in God’s way as a demonstration of God’s love for him.

          Now, Bob, this hypothetical is my best attempt at speculating as to why God may choose not to answer the prayer, should there ever be such a prayer, of an amputee to have his/her severed limb grow back. But of course, I can’t read God’s mind and I am not omniscient so I can’t say that there has even been a “Luke” who prayed for this miracle. But at least you can’t say that no Christian has ever answered this silly question.

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

          This doesn’t answer the question. 4th try:

          So that is your hypothesis, then? That the reason we never see regrown limbs is that no Christian amputee has ever bothered to pray for it?

        • Kodie

          Your scenario is hilarious. Such a freak that he would be to have his leg back that he couldn’t just have the life pre-injury the way it was before. Maybe this is god’s plan, to have people’s legs blown off in explosions and have to live that way and understand it’s just god’s plan because they wouldn’t trade that in for a little celebrity, never! God knows what’s best for Luke is that he avoid becoming a celebrity for being the only known human in history to have his limb restored in a miracle from god. God doesn’t want that kind of publicity either, so he leaves it to jerks like you to make up idiotic justifications and “minor miracles” like the free chicken I got from the store last Friday. Luke got his leg blown off in an explosion, why didn’t god intervene so Luke could have his life without the injury instead of wishing to get it back after having sustained injury? Why is this so complicated for you? Your claims that a god exists and operates in this fashion to prevent Luke from suffering celebrity are amazingly stupid.

        • Kodie

          Your answer before said god wouldn’t heal someone without their consent, i.e. prayer, and your suggestion is that nobody prayed to have their limbs grown back. When pressed on the issue because you ridiculously compared this situation to rape, you retreated without comment. Let’s revisit that first before you say you have logic and critical thinking, and are not ridiculous.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie, you are making the assumption here that those who have lost a limb pray for the limb to grow back. How do you claim to know this? I would bet that not a single one of them prays for this to happen. This is not the healing from their wounds that they pray for. And then, we must assume that if they are atheists, they don’t pray at all.

        • Kodie

          Are you claiming that not a single person asks god to regrow their limbs? Are you omniscient?

        • CodyGirl824

          You are assuming that they do. Are you omniscient?

        • Kodie

          I asked you first.

        • Deanjay1961

          I was raised Pentecostal. My whole family is different flavors of Pentecostal. They believe, and they pray, and they make excuses for why God doesn’t deliver, just like you. It’s offensive that you deny the existence of Christians who fully trust that God can restore a missing limb and pray for it with all their hearts.

        • Deanjay1961

          It is true that the more primitive and remote an area, the more likely you are to hear that there are miracles happening there.

    • Kodie

      1) Healing of every variety is attributed to god (rather than doctors, in the cases where these people also sought medical care) all over the world, except regrown limbs. You are willing to believe demons cause disease, ffs. Why is amputated limbs regrowing something that never happens when anyone can record it?
      2) How is starvation a case of human evil? What the hell is natural evil? If god can help someone let me in front of them in line at the grocery store, why can’t he inspire the behaviors of other people?
      3) The bible is a myth story, it reads like a myth story.
      4) How is this the worst fate? He’s the only doofus on a cross that day that reversed his own death, and he headed into his death on purpose. To say he was the best person meeting the worst fate is a slap in the face of many good and generous people or innocent children wasting away with terminal cancer or dying in a fire. There is no “reason” bad things happen to good people except if you believe in god, then the reason is always “good” and “unknowable.” If you believe Jesus is “sinless” and all these other mere mortals are not, and that they, given your god, deserved to die painfully for god’s “good” and “unknowable” reasons, you still haven’t answered the question – since it’s “unknowable”, all you have left to believe is “it must have been a durn good reason!
      5) Making up god’s rules for him makes you the authority, not him, and I don’t take your authority on the matter as credible. What are his actual reasons that you are not merely inferring from his absence? You don’t know. On the basis that so many Christians claim he is apparent, and they warn me to find Jesus before it’s too late. The brain in my head, that allegedly put there by god, demands a little substance to the evidence, not the guesses of the fallible Christians who think this makes any sense. This article should be called “10 questions that Christians routinely answer with excuses for their god.” From what I do know of Christianity, it makes a person less logical, or they were already prone to fall for bad excuses built on wishful thinking. You can’t stop all the holes simultaneously, because a lot of your (Christians’) answers contradict each other.

      • KarlUdy

        Why is amputated limbs regrowing something that never happens when anyone can record it?

        As I said before, because healing is about compassion for the suffering, not performing tricks for skeptics.

        How is starvation a case of human evil?

        The world produces enough food to feed the world many times over. Africa, the most poverty-stricken continent is incredibly resource-rich. Unfortunately corruption and systemic oppression is behind most starvation and poverty.

        What the hell is natural evil?

        Evil as a result of nature eg earthquakes.

        If god can help someone let me in front of them in line at the grocery store, why can’t he inspire the behaviors of other people?

        Have you ever considered that maybe everyone who is actively working to overcome poverty and starvation in the world is somehow inspired by God to do so, whether they are aware of it or not?

        3) How does the Bible read like a myth story? And in any case, this is a completely different question to that posed by Bob.

        4) You should try to read and understand some of the Bible’s writing on this subject. It seems you are unaware of it.

        Making up god’s rules for him makes you the authority, not him, and I don’t take your authority on the matter as credible. What are his actual reasons that you are not merely inferring from his absence?

        I am not making up any rules for God. In fact I am saying the opposite – that I cannot make up rules for God. You really have a talent of accusing people of making claims opposite to what they actually claim.

        • hector_jones

          As I said before, because healing is about compassion for the suffering, not performing tricks for skeptics.

          But if that were true we would still see some regrowth of amputated limbs, because surely some amputees deserve compassion for the suffering. And yet we see absolutely zero regrowth of amputated limbs. Instead we get this.

        • KarlUdy

          Perhaps, but as I said before, we may not be aware of those cases. In any case, not everyone is healed, even those who seek healing. That is not a problem for me, because healing is an act of compassion performed at God’s own prerogative. He doesn’t report to me or you.

        • hector_jones

          And as we have said repeatedly, why are we totally unaware of those particular miracles and not others? How is it that we don’t know of any regrowth miracles at all?

          No one said god has to report it to us. This is a straw man. The people who regrew a limb can report it to us. Yet not one of them ever has. Why do you think that is? Christians are eager and happy to tell us about god giving them a little extra spaghetti in the bowl or fixing a flat tire, but when he regrows them a limb they are all just ‘meh, big deal, there’s no need to mention this in church next week’. And everytime a church goer notices a fellow parishioner suddenly sporting a regrown limb, they just keep that hush hush, cuz wouldn’t want anyone else to know how awesome their god is right? cuz that’s christianity’s goal, to keep the awesomeness of god a secret!

        • KarlUdy

          You misread me. I said that God doesn’t have to explain to me why he does or does not heal in any particular situation.

        • Kodie

          If god were real, he wouldn’t need so many people to cover for his non-existence with weak excuses.

        • CodyGirl824

          Since God is real, He tends to His own revelation of Himself, without relying on people.

        • hector_jones

          Absent the bible, which was written by people, what have you got? He very much relies on people and not on his own revelation.

        • CodyGirl824

          Do you really think that absent the existence of the Bible, people would know nothing about God and have no relationship with God? Really? There are probably billions of believers in God today and throughout history who have never read the Bible. I came to believe in God before I read the Bible. You don’t appear to understand the relationship between belief and the Bible and the role of the Bible in faith and worship. This is because you don’t really understand how people come to know God and how He reveals Himself to each of us and to all of us.

        • hector_jones

          Absent the bible, what would you know about Jesus and the resurrection, Jenna?

        • Kodie

          We don’t dispute that people can be imaginative.

        • Kodie

          Are you saying you’re not a person? Are you saying the person or people you learned about god from aren’t people?

        • hector_jones

          Meh. We already know he’s got you convinced, Karl. That doesn’t even begin to answer our questions.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, you are touching on a very important point. If KarlUdy and billions upon billions of other people are convinced without your miracles-on-demand scenario, and accept the miracles God has given us and continues to give us, why aren’t you? Why should God give you a command performance? And why do you ask because you probably don’t really want one anyway?

        • hector_jones

          Ad populum, once again.

          You are also entirely missing the point. I am not asking for miracles on demand or for personal miracles. I am not saying why doesn’t god come and cure this particular amputee I have sitting next to me right now. I am asking why is it that god has never once cured an amputee, when he is claimed to have performed so many miracles?

          Your response is basically to tell me that I should just accept it because you and billions of others accept it. I want to know why, not the numbers of people out there who don’t care about why.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, you are asking God a miracle, supposedly for someone else who probably not asked for this miracle him or herself, to satisfy your skepticism and denial of God. Your desire is to satisfy your ego, not a loving wish for healing for someone else.

          Did you catch it earlier when JohnH2 posted this verse from the NT? James 4:2-3 “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask
          with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

          Note the part about “wrong motives.” God pays attention to this: He’s no fool.

        • Kingasaurus

          Always an excuse.

        • hector_jones

          No Jenna I am not asking God for a miracle. I am not an amputee. I am asking about past non-existent miracles.

        • CodyGirl824

          You’re doing a good job here, KarlUdy. I think that an important thing that remember is that God’s healing takes place within a relationship with God. As you point out, God is not going to just perform tricks to satisfy skeptics. The way I see it is that when skeptics can’t see God’s work in the ordinary lives of their fellows and they reject a relationship with God, then some trick is not going to heal their broken souls and bring them into communion with Him and his faithful people.

        • Kingasaurus

          An imaginary relationship, where healing which would happen anyway is attributed to an imaginary friend. If that weren’t the case, There would be s different set of medical statistics for people who pray. We don’t see any evidence of that, and people claiming that we can’t control for such things are simply reducing god to a Magic 8-ball, where no matter what outcome is seen as evidence for him.

        • CodyGirl824

          “Healing that would happen anyway…” Yes, because we humans are created by God with the capacity to heal. All human suffering ends either in healing or in death.

        • Kingasaurus

          The Great Pumpkin has just set things up this way! Whether you are healed or whether you die, it’s all part of his glory!

          Yeesh.

        • CodyGirl824

          There is no biological life without death. If you are resentful about death, then what is your attitude toward life? I suspect that you are ungrateful for life, which IMHO, is a very bad attitude.

        • Kingasaurus

          What you “suspect” has no relation to reality.

          I was poking fun at the unfalsifiable nature of your beliefs. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, i can’t help you.

        • Kodie

          I don’t remember why you think death is relevant here.

        • wtfwjtd

          Now, hang on there just a minute, pal. Are you trying to tell me that…my Magic 8-ball is…a fraud?

        • hector_jones

          Your magic 8-ball isn’t a fraud. It’s just miscalibrated. For $17.99 plus postage and handling, I can fix that for you.

        • KarlUdy

          Thanks :-)

        • Kodie

          You can’t also claim that god wants a relationship with me.

        • Ron

          Oh come on, Kodie! Just because God never phones, writes, texts, emails, tweets or shows up in real life doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to have a “close personal” relationship with you. Why, he loves you sooooo much he’s willing to torture you forever if you don’t love him back sight unseen. How can you reject that kind of affection?

        • hector_jones

          I joked about this elsewhere when I basically said that this is exactly the relationship I have with Jennifer Lawrence. I am the luckiest man on earth.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie, you do have a relationship with God. God is your/our Creator. That’s the starting point. However, sadly, your conscious relationship with God is one of rejection and denial based on your free will to either love God or not love God.

        • Kodie

          What is the basis for your assertion?

        • CodyGirl824

          Logic and reason.

        • Kodie

          You don’t even know how to answer the question. What is the basis for your assertion? It’s not logic and reason, you have to demonstrate that you know what those are, for starters, but that is not what people are asking for when they ask you to support your assertion. I have logic and reason and I came to different conclusions, so you can see how that’s not an answer?

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

          Regrowing amputated limbs vs. a little extra spaghetti for unexpected guests–it’s basically the same thing.

        • Kodie

          You don’t think amputees deserve compassion?
          2, No, I never consider people doing good things as inspired by god to do them. I consider that they may live their lives as if that’s true, but that doesn’t mean they are driven from the outside.
          3, So an objective reader, it is exactly a myth and superstition. The language you use to distinguish your beliefs from other myths and superstitions does not actually distinguish it. It is marketing.
          4, It seems you have stupided yourself with the bible and unable to answer the question as asked. Why do bad things happen to other good people? All I’ve ever heard is “god’s good but unknowable reasons”.

          Yes you are making up rules for god. Maybe someone else made them up, ok, and it wasn’t you, but you believe their authority on the guesses they make, given the world we have, what god must be like and why he absolutely refuses to show up. My answer is he doesn’t exist, and your answer infers that since he calls the shots, he doesn’t have to do anything. You don’t actually know that, you infer it from his invisibility and build excuses around that invisibility.

        • KarlUdy

          1) Who said anything about “deserving” compassion? Do you even understand what compassion is?
          2) If you did, you would find it an internally consistent explanation.
          3) Show me the objective reader, and I’ll judge your claim.
          4) The Bible has A LOT more to say on the topic than that.
          5) What I am saying about how God acts is implicit in the definition of God.

        • hector_jones

          So if it has nothing to do with ‘deserving’ compassion, why doesn’t god just go and heal all the amputees right now? Your god is completely devoid of compassion when it comes to amputees. Why is that?

        • KarlUdy

          You make two assumptions: firstly that we know that n amputees get healed. Secondly, that a physically regrown limb is the only way God could show compassion to them.

        • Kodie

          If it is to be believed that god heals other people of their diseases, and not merely bestowed with compassion to deal with them another way, then why would god deny amputees what they need and not what he decides they need? Yes, everyone in the world just needs to cope with what they’re given, but we don’t need god to cope either. We’re asking a specific question and getting a run-around answer that “well duh, I don’t know, maybe this or that, maybe you’re asking too much, he’s GOD SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!”

        • hector_jones

          I am not assuming that no amputees get healed, I’m saying we have absolutely no evidence of it.

          Meanwhile you just admitted that god never heals amputees, because he has other means of showing them compassion. Yet he apparently heals other people of diseases all the time.

        • KarlUdy

          Is your problem that no amputees get healed, or that you personally have no evidence of amputees getting healed?

          Because if it is the former, you don’t know, and if it is the latter, what obligation does God have to make you aware of an instance of him showing compassion to someone else?

        • Kodie

          Because, Karl, many humans attribute their “healing” of many other illnesses to god and expect us to be shown their “miracle” and believe in god. God on the other hand doesn’t seem to care if we believe in him or not, if we are going by the “I make explanations how god must work based on what he can and cannot do, and what he does and does not do” method of revelation. .

        • Kodie

          It’s not really god, you’re making an excuse there, but human Christians can’t seem to keep quiet about the miracles. If we haven’t heard about them, they haven’t occurred in any part of the world. You can’t blame the integrity of media news, since there are Christian sources that have none and would report this as they do other healings.

        • KarlUdy

          If the game is how many logical fallacies you can fit in a paragraph, then Kodie, I think you’re winning :-)

        • Kodie

          Point them out to me.

        • KarlUdy

          It’s not really god

          Begging the question

          If we haven’t heard about them, they haven’t occurred in any part of the world.

          Argument from ignorance

          You can’t blame the integrity of media news, since there are Christian sources that have none and would report this as they do other healings.

          Poisoning the well

        • Kodie

          I could argue that you didn’t read for comprehension there. Nobody is asking god to jump, we are asking you why no faithful Christian anywhere in the world has reported on a specific type of healing when they are so eager to do so any other time, and media outlets report these as miracles. As well, many Christians share these stories with atheists with the “how else do you explain this????” and you mean to say, with all your vague certainty, assert that god does not prove he exists by performing miraculous healings of a specific type?

          Or that nobody specifically asked, or they maybe happening, we just aren’t privy to their obscure remote locations. That never has stopped a Christian from reporting on healings before, and you’re a liar if you think we’re accusing “god” of holding back. You’re the believer here, not me. These questions are for you, not me.

        • KarlUdy

          Where are the reports from rural China, India or Africa which don’t include the healings you’re looking for?

        • Kingasaurus

          —“rural China, India or Africa”–

          Isn’t that where they always are? Why is that, exactly?

        • wtfwjtd

          Odd coincidence, that. “God” always seems to bypass the industrialized world. Another poster here would no doubt attribute this strange state of affairs to a lack of “faith” on the part of believers in these parts.

        • KarlUdy

          Why would they not happen there?

          You’re the one who says they don’t happen at all. I’m beginning to think you mean they don’t happen conveniently for you to investigate.

        • Kingasaurus

          Reports of such things never seem to happen in places where investigation is convenient. To a non-credulous person, this should activate your bullshit detector. This doesn’t work for you, apparently.

        • KarlUdy

          It gets frequently overloaded reading comments on blogs :-)

          But seriously …
          Those places often happen to be precisely the places where medical care is not readily available, and so I can understand that God would do more healing in those places.

          Also, as I’ve said several times, I think healing is primarily about compassion. If you want evidence for God, there’s plenty of other evidence out there.

        • hector_jones

          “Why would they not happen there?”

          And you are the one who talks about logical fallacies? The question isn’t why would they not happen there, but why don’t they happen here?

        • CodyGirl824

          Where do you mean by “here”?

        • Kodie

          What exactly is your brain damage that you can’t follow a conversation?

        • Kodie

          Plenty of examples of reports of healing other illnesses arise from all over the civilized non-remote world. Why would god only choose to heal amputees in remote areas? Are these people more devout or something?

        • hector_jones

          Ok so first you tell me that the reason there is no evidence of limb regrowth is because God has no particular need or interest to prove to anyone that he performs such miracles. Now you tell us oh wait their is such evidence, it’s in Buddhist countries like China and India, and also in Africa. Why didn’t you just give us this overwhelming evidence in the first place?

          Oh did I say overwhelming? I meant overwhelming like the evidence for WMDs in Iraq was overwhelming – “they are in Baghdad, and places north and east and west and south of there”.

        • KarlUdy

          As I said before, you are the ones claiming that these miracles do not happen. But when I ask you if you have evidence they don’t happen in these places you get all offended. Surely it can’t be too hard to admit you don’t know?

          Here’s something that is a bit easier to find out though. What are the respective numbers of Buddhists and Christians in the “Buddhist” countries of China and India?

        • hector_jones

          Sorry but no, this isn’t how it works. You made the claim that there are amputee-healing miracles in rural China, India and Africa. So give us the evidence. Put up or shut up.

          I have no idea what the respective numbers of Buddhists and Christians are in China and India. But I know that Christians are very much in the minority in those countries. So I found it amusing that your best sources of amputee-healing miracles don’t even come from places where Christians are in the majority. And yet you never even hinted that maybe God doesn’t heal amputees outside of China, India or Africa because God doesn’t like Christians as much as he likes Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims. Funny how in your search for ad hoc explanations you didn’t make that argument, isn’t it? Just an oversight? Or was it something else?

        • KarlUdy

          You say:

          Sorry but no, this isn’t how it works. You made the claim that there are amputee-healing miracles in rural China, India and Africa. So give us the evidence. Put up or shut up.

          It might be a good idea to read what I actually said:

          Where are the reports from rural China, India or Africa which don’t include the healings you’re looking for?

          Which actually goes back to Kodie and her logical-fallacy-loaded post, which included the stunning sentence:

          If we haven’t heard about them, they haven’t occurred in any part of the world.

          Kodie refused to deal with the logical fallacies in her post so I posted the above question to bring her back to one of her logical fallacies.

          You then demand that I show these reports of healed amputees, either an act of getting the wrong end of the stick that truly amazes, or a demonstration of an extreme allergy to actually showing any evidence yourself.

        • hector_jones

          I really have no idea what your problem is at this point. Do you have evidence of miraculous regrowings of amputated limbs, or not? Let’s just deal with the evidence instead of your long-winded excursions into perceived logical fallacies, please.

        • KarlUdy

          I really have no idea what your problem is at this point.

          Then go back and read what I wrote. I’m not claiming to have evidence of regrown limbs. I am questioning the validity of the claim that they do not happen. So far the evidence that they don’t happen seems to be that you don’t know of any. Obviously a test to how strong that evidence is, is how extensively you have sought out reports. Seems to be precious little.

        • hector_jones

          If you aren’t claiming to have evidence of regrown limbs then I think you pretty much forfeit the debate. Sorry.

        • KarlUdy

          When logic fails, just declare yourself the winner :-)

          Go back and read Bob’s original question and my original reply and you will see why this demand for evidence has no bearing on my overall argument.

          As I pointed out at length earlier, this back and forward over demand for evidence goes back to Kodie’s statement that:

          If we haven’t heard about them, they haven’t occurred in any part of the world.

          There are two ways this statement could be wrong. One is if the premise is wrong (ie we have heard about them, which is what you want me to argue). The other is if the conclusion does not follow on from the premise (ie my lack of knowledge about events does not prove they have not happened, which is what I am arguing.)

          Is this too hard to follow?

        • hector_jones

          Yes it’s too hard to follow.

        • Kodie

          Your problem, like when you suggest diseases may be caused by demons, is that if we never hear otherwise, the possibility of them occurring keeps it plausible for you. I promise you that it has never happened. anywhere in the world, or it would be the site of a global pilgrimage.

        • Kodie

          The definition of god is “revealed” by guessing his motivations for why things are the way they are. Yes, I am objective. You have yet to give me something that’s not bias filled bullshit excuses for god, invented by humans who very dearly need him to exist and will believe anything to maintain it. Nothing you said is logical – you are taking what we’re given and creating a character of god to match.

        • Deanjay1961

          As I said before, because healing is about compassion for the suffering, not performing tricks for skeptics.”
          So God will withold healing from someone lest a skeptic find out about it? Classy.

          “Evil as a result of nature eg earthquakes.”
          But drought and famine don’t count as natural evil, for some reason.

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

      1) If we ask why we are not given verification of such miracles, then we are asking that healings not be acts of compassion on God’s part, but instead that they function as an audition for our allegiance.

      If I hung around you, I would probably see the good works (or lack thereof), unless you were being deliberately secretive. So either God is secretive or there is no god. I vote for the simple explanation.

      starvation (in our time, at least) is very much a case of human evil as opposed to natural evil. That God does not directly prevent humans engaging in evil acts and practices because of the value of free will is well-established.

      Natural evil is a different story, but not one you have raised here. The second side is that God is indeed working to feed the hungry.
      3) It is inaccurate to say the Bible contains “anti-scientific nonsense”. It can not be anti-scientific because it was not written against a background of anything that could be called “scientific” as opposed to knowledge in general. And to the use of “nonsense” is a pejorative and prejudicial term that adds nothing to the argument.
      4) Some of the most profound writing on this topic is found in the Bible. Christianity is founded on the idea that the best person suffered the worst fate.
      5) This goes back to 1). On what basis can I demand that God should appear directly to me? He has to other people in the past, and based on reports still does (especially in Muslim countries). But he has no obligation to appear to me. He is my Lord, not vice versa.

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

      1) If we ask why we are not given verification of such miracles, then we are asking that healings not be acts of compassion on God’s part, but instead that they function as an audition for our allegiance.

      If I hung around you, I would probably see the good works (or lack thereof), unless you were being deliberately secretive. So either God is secretive or there is no god. I vote for the simple explanation.

      starvation (in our time, at least) is very much a case of human evil as opposed to natural evil. That God does not directly prevent humans engaging in evil acts and practices because of the value of free will is well-established.

      If you saw an injury that someone else had done, you’d be obliged to not intervene?

      God doesn’t give a damn about free will. When the free will of the victim is violated, he doesn’t step in to protect it.

      God is indeed working to feed the hungry.

      Is he? I’ve seen no evidence. What is it?

      It can not be anti-scientific because it was not written against a background of anything that could be called “scientific” as opposed to knowledge in general.

      So “non-scientific nonsense”?

      And to the use of “nonsense” is a pejorative and prejudicial term that adds nothing to the argument.

      Help me out then. What’s the word for a statement about the natural world that’s wrong? A lie? Bullshit? Nonsense? If you have a better word, I’ll try to use it.

      Christianity is founded on the idea that the best person suffered the worst fate.

      We’re talking the crucifixion here? I don’t see how his death was particularly bad. Heck, yours might be worse. Yes, I realize that crucifixion isn’t an option, but six months of slow death from cancer ain’t no picnic.

      On what basis can I demand that God should appear directly to me?

      You say you have no warrant to demand God to appear? OK—don’t. The problem remains: you don’t have evidence on which to build the remarkable claim that God exists. (Or unicorns or leprechauns or fairies …)

      This is yet another obvious opportunity for evidence at which point you must make excuses, while I’m pointing to the obvious Gordian Knot-cutting alternative: there is no god.

      • MNb

        “So “non-scientific nonsense”?”
        That caused a grin on my face.

      • KarlUdy

        If I hung around you, I would probably see the good works (or lack thereof), unless you were being deliberately secretive. So either God is secretive or there is no god. I vote for the simple explanation.

        A poor example. You are talking about one particular type of act – healing of amputees. To follow your example that would be suggesting that I had no good works because I don’t save people who are drowning.

        God doesn’t give a damn about free will. When the free will of the victim is violated, he doesn’t step in to protect it.

        You are attacking a straw man, not the argument I’m making.

        Help me out then. What’s the word for a statement about the natural world that’s wrong?

        What are these statements about the natural world that are wrong?

        The problem remains: you don’t have evidence on which to build the remarkable claim that God exists.

        Actually there is plenty of good evidence without God making a personal appearance to me. So, no problem.

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

          You are talking about one particular type of act – healing of amputees. To follow your example that would be suggesting that I had no good works because I don’t save people who are drowning.

          The issue isn’t “Does Karl/God do good works?” If you didn’t save drowning people but could trivially do so, you would indeed be a person of bad morals.

          You are attacking a straw man, not the argument I’m making.

          Seems like a frontal attack to me. Clarify how my point is off target.

          Actually there is plenty of good evidence without God making a personal appearance to me. So, no problem.

          There are simple ways to figure out if the claim “Person X exists” is true. You say that you have alternate ways of knowing that Person X exists, but in so doing, you’re agreeing with me that the conventional ways don’t work. Doesn’t prove that Person X doesn’t exist, but that you admit that the conventional ways don’t work is a problem.

          So, no problem.

          Nope–enormous problem. I probably don’t have to remind you how easily people delude themselves. You’re the only one able to prevent Karl from being deluded. When you see yourself handwaving excuses like this, that’s a warning sign to you.

        • Pofarmer

          “Actually there is plenty of good evidence without God making a personal appearance to me.”

          The problem though, is that Occams razor applies. Nearly everything you call good evidence can be explained by naturalistic means.

        • KarlUdy

          Seems like a frontal attack to me. Clarify how my point is off target.

          Show me a proponent of free will, who uses the term to mean that those who possess free will have no limits at all on the exercise of their free will, and I will accept that it is not a straw man.

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

          How does this address the problem of a supposedly free-will-loving God allowing people’s free will to be trampled upon?

        • KarlUdy

          One of the limitations on our free will is other people’s free will

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

          So God is cringing as the rape victim’s free will is violated but somehow he can’t do anything about it?

          Is he just a wimp or a coward or what’s his problem?

        • KarlUdy

          So are you advocating a world where rape is impossible?

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

          You’re changing the subject. Don’t tell me that God cares about free will if he doesn’t lift a divine finger to defend it (when he could).

          That’s the subject.

        • KarlUdy

          I think you haven’t thought through the implications of God over-riding our free will the way you seem to think he should. If you don’t want to, I don’t think God will over-ride your free will on that either, so I guess it’s up to you.

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

          Pick a single random rape. The world would be a better place if God had prevented it. He didn’t. My conclusion: God is no particularly strong advocate of free will.

          Stop pretending that he is.

        • KarlUdy

          So you’re saying that God does not defend free will because there are some situations where you think he should over-ride free will and he doesn’t?

          It seems the issue is more that God allows us to use free will even in ways that we should not.

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

          I’m not sure why you’re determined to make this complicated. I’m saying that God doesn’t defend free will because it’s violated constantly and he doesn’t step in to prevent this. Ergo: we have no reason to say that he cares deeply about our free will since he doesn’t defend it.

        • KarlUdy

          But you seem to think the solution is for God to over-ride other people’s free will.

          If he did that you would surely say that God doesn’t care about free will.

          Moreover, it still appears you have not considered what the actualities of your counter-factual example would be.

          What would God stepping in once look like? Who knows, maybe that’s already happened. In which case, your wish is granted and we can move on.

          But I suspect you would want to see all rapes eliminated. And there are implications for all sorts of things if rape becomes “impossible”.

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

          But you seem to think the solution is for God to over-ride other people’s free will.

          If he did that you would surely say that God doesn’t care about free will.

          And parents must always permit everything otherwise they’re mean? Most of us grow out of that when we become adults.

          You’re determined to show God as a champion of free will, and yet we find no evidence of him stepping in when free will is violated. Fail.

          Moreover, it still appears you have not considered what the actualities of your counter-factual example would be.

          Like when Superman does it. Problem?

          Who knows, maybe that’s already happened.

          Yes, that’s possible. But, given zero evidence, I have no reason to think that.

          there are implications for all sorts of things if rape becomes “impossible”.

          A wise Celestial Policeman who prevents rapes is a terrible idea?

        • KarlUdy

          And parents must always permit everything otherwise they’re mean? Most of us grow out of that when we become adults.

          You’re determined to show God as a champion of free will, and yet we find no evidence of him stepping in when free will is violated. Fail.

          So you are suggesting that God should over-ride our free will if we are about to use our free will in bad ways?

          What would that look like?

          Would God over-ride our free will whenever we decided to do anything bad?

          Sort of leads to a situation where we don’t have free will. Everyone would be a slave to God’s will, with no possibility of deviating from it, because by definition deviation from his will would make things worse.

          Or would God only over-ride our free will when we used it to bring out evil of a certain magnitude? Then, where does one draw the line? Perhaps God does do this, and the line is at some point worse than the evil experienced in the world so far? How would we know? In this case, your wish would be granted, and your complaint resolved.

          Or would God never over-ride our free will, no matter what we did? That would certainly be giving free will a certain priority that the other positions don’t.

          Actually, I think either the second or third position is possible. Certainly, it is impossible for us to know which of these two situations describe our reality best.

          Yes, that’s possible. But, given zero evidence, I have no reason to think that.

          Actually, one person who intended to rape, who ended up not raping for any reason (whether circumstance, change of mind, or whatever) would be evidence of this.

          A wise Celestial Policeman who prevents rapes is a terrible idea?

          If sex cannot be “taken”, can it really be “given”?

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

          So you are suggesting that God should over-ride our free will if we are about to use our free will in bad ways?

          Your deliberate obtuseness is annoying. I’ll bet that you are a parent, know parents, or had/have parents. Compared to children, parents are much wiser. They allow some things and forbid others to give their children a challenging but safe environment.

          I’m (obviously) suggesting that God act in a similar way. Some things he’d allow; others that would cause permanent harm he might disallow. He’s really smart. He’d know how to do it.

          Sort of leads to a situation where we don’t have free will. Everyone would be a slave to God’s will

          Yeah, just like it works with parents. Oh—wait a minute. It’s not at all like that with parents.

          Let’s go back to the parent model. Like that. Let’s give God the honor of assuming that he has some wisdom to figure out which to allow and which not. We’d be a slave to such a god like we’re a slave to our parents. In other words, not.

          Or would God only over-ride our free will when we used it to bring out evil of a certain magnitude? Then, where does one draw the line?

          Golly, that’s a toughie. God is 10^12 times smarter than you. I’ll bet he could come up with something.

          How would we know?

          God does prevent a teeny number of bad events but we simply don’t know? Then obviously we don’t have sufficient evidence to assume that he does. Yet another God fail.

          Or would God never over-ride our free will, no matter what we did? That would certainly be giving free will a certain priority that the other positions don’t.

          So God is so timid that he’ll screw things up that he never does anything? Yeah, that sounds like the OT psychopath that we know and love.

          Actually, one person who intended to rape, who ended up not raping for any reason (whether circumstance, change of mind, or whatever) would be evi dence of this.

          A changed mind means “God did it”? Let’s be a little more hesitant to jump to the incredible supernatural explanation, OK?

        • KarlUdy

          Your deliberate obtuseness is annoying. I’ll bet that you are a parent, know parents, or had/have parents. Compared to children, parents are much wiser. They allow some things and forbid others to give their children a challenging but safe environment.

          I’m (obviously) suggesting that God act in a similar way. Some things he’d allow; others that would cause permanent harm he might disallow. He’s really smart. He’d know how to do it.

          I’m not being deliberately obtuse.

          We’ve all known children who have broken their parents’ rules and done things that were forbidden.

          I don’t think, from this conversation, that you are asking God to say “x is forbidden”. Hasn’t he already done that?

          My understanding is that you are asking God to make it physically impossible for us to do these things that are forbidden, or to directly intervene to prevent some of these things.

          I don’t know of any good parents who have an environment set up where children are physically unable to express themselves in any way that does not coincide with their parents’ will.

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

          I don’t think, from this conversation, that you are asking God to say “x is forbidden”.

          You are determined to put my points into a bin that they don’t belong. You’re determined to have a simple rule. “OK, so then you’d have God forbid every single bad action, right?” No, I’m suggesting that we allow God to use his wisdom to head off all the pointless problems you’re determined to imagine.

          Try this: imagine that God would take the obvious steps that you (as a superhero) would to prevent injury to innocent parties. Next, imagine that God is quite smart and will avoid the boneheaded errors that you bring up—“Golly, if God stomped on our free will, that would suck, wouldn’t it?” etc.

        • MNb

          In addition: we don’t ask perfection. I’m just wondering why god, who apparently dislikes extramarital pregnancy so much, doesn’t significanty decrease the fertility of unmarried people compared to the fertility of married people. That wouldn’t in any way affect the free will of those people who have extramarital sex; it can remain a sin as always and ever.
          It seems to me as if god doesn’t care. That also would explain why abortion rates in god fearing Louisiana are relatively so much higher than in secular European countries.

        • KarlUdy

          You are determined to put my points into a bin that they don’t belong. You’re determined to have a simple rule. “OK, so then you’d have God forbid every single bad action, right?”

          No. I’ve put forward three different options for what I think are different possibilities for what you may be thinking. I think with this latest comment, you’ve finally narrowed down what you mean to one of those possibilities.

          Try this: imagine that God would take the obvious steps that you (as a superhero) would to prevent injury to innocent parties. Next, imagine that God is quite smart and will avoid the boneheaded errors that you bring up—“Golly, if God stomped on our free will, that would suck, wouldn’t it?” etc.

          I think I may have found a source of one of our communication problems here. My concept of God is not anything like a superhero. I’m not approaching this problem from that angle – to do so would be disingenuous because I am explaining why I believe certain things.

          So far you have told me that the solution you would would include:

          I’m (obviously) suggesting that God act in a similar way. Some things he’d allow; others that would cause permanent harm he might disallow.

          imagine that God would take the obvious steps that you (as a superhero) would to prevent injury to innocent parties. Next, imagine that God is quite smart and will avoid the boneheaded errors that you bring up

          Now if God as the supreme creator and sustainer of the universe did these things, then how could we perceive them? I would think it quite likely that he would conduct and orchestrate things in such a manner that we would not necessarily perceive any direct intervention at all. And if we are unhappy with where the line is drawn, obviously we should defer to a God who much smarter than little-old-boneheaded me. After all, he knows how every little event connects and works out in the end. And if you ask what exactly God has done to prevent evil, the simplest way to think about things is to ask if our world could be more evil. If it could, then God is responsible for preventing that evil that could potentially have occurred but did not.

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

          you’ve finally narrowed down what you mean to one of those possibilities.

          You mean you didn’t understand my statements the first time? This is the deliberate obtuseness that I mentioned earlier.

          My concept of God is not anything like a superhero.

          Yes, I think this is the problem. Your concept of God is like a dick.

          We start with universally accepted ideas of what good and bad people are like. Good people go out of their way to help other people to the best of their ability, etc. Not a lot of controversy here.

          The problem is that you want to have a whole different calculus. You want to say God is “good,” but you don’t like the constraints that our understanding of that word demands. So you keep the word but change the definition. Nope—it don’t work that way.

          If you want to say that God is unjudgeable or not understandable, that’s fine. But don’t say that he’s good or just or moral or whatever while rejecting the parallel with a person with those attributes.

          I would think it quite likely that he would conduct and orchestrate things in such a manner that we would not necessarily perceive any direct intervention at all.

          We’ve been over this. I agree that this is possible. Given that, however, that gives you (by your own admission) zero evidence to point to that God does these nice things. And my point stands.

          obviously we should defer to a God who much smarter than little-old-boneheaded me.

          … once we’ve established that this thing exists. No one goes into such a discussion presuming such a remarkable thing. No one, anyway, who doesn’t have an agenda.

          And if you ask what exactly God has done to prevent evil, the simplest way to think about things is to ask if our world could be more evil.

          No, we ask if the world could be more good. Of the millions of rapes last year, I’m sure that there is one that, if prevented, would’ve made the world more good.

          Another God fail.

        • KarlUdy

          … once we’ve established that this thing exists. No one goes into such a discussion presuming such a remarkable thing. No one, anyway, who doesn’t have an agenda.

          I think this is your problem.

          Your post is entitled “10 Questions Christians Must Answer”. The questions are basically of the form, “Given that you are a Christian, then how do you explain x?”

          And you seem surprised that I answer the questions assuming basic Christian beliefs, such as that God exists?!

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

          You’re right–I’m not surprised. I’m simply saying that a single, simple, logical, plausible, natural explanation replaces every one of the convoluted Christian responses to these questions.

        • KarlUdy

          My original answer was simple, logical and plausible. What has been convoluted has been trying to find out just exactly what your problem with free will as an explanation for human evil is, only to find out that it is that if this world is created by God, you think you could do a better job than God.

          My estimation of my own abilities is not nearly so lofty.

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

          My original answer was simple, logical and plausible.

          What was your original answer? That a supernatural being created everything? That’s not simple (to posit the supernatural is vastly complicating), logical, or plausible (you imagine an entirely new domain, filled with new beings?).

          What has been convoluted has been trying to find out just exactly what your problem with free will as an explanation for human evil is

          That’s not the problem. You’re trying to use free will to get God off the hook for not being asleep at the switch. All I see is your sidestepping and rephrasing the issue to avoid the problem that I’ve raised: that we have no evidence of God stepping in to human affairs to defend free will. Your response: well, it might happen but we simply don’t know. You’re right, and that gives you zero evidence for saying that it does happen.

          if this world is created by God, you think you could do a better job than God

          Using the dictionary definitions of good, just, moral, and so on, absolutely, I could do a better job. Indeed, I already do.

          You retreat into keeping the words (good, just, moral, etc. are nice words) but dropping the definitions. No, these words are meaningless without human action as an analog. If X is bad for a person to do, it’s probably bad for God to do. Keep the words with their definitions or drop them both and say that God is inscrutable. You can’t have it both ways.

          My estimation of my own abilities is not nearly so lofty.

          Guess again. You are better than your god.

        • KarlUdy

          As you can see, my “answer” was not that God created everything. That part was implicit in labelling your list questions as those that ‘Christians must answer”.

          If you ask for answers from a Christian point-of-view, and then reject them because they come from a Christian point-of-view, eg “to posit the supernatural is vastly complicating”, “you imagine an entirely new domain, filled with new beings?” this betrays that your questions were not asked in good faith.

        • MNb

          Yeah, but that’s not what occurs. We ask for answers from a christian point-of-view and then reject them because they don’t make sense even from the christian point-of-view. This means the christian point-of-view is incoherent.

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

          If you ask for answers from a Christian point-of-view, and then reject them because they come from a Christian point-of-view

          I don’t understand your point. So, “Look—we Christians just see our world in a particular weird way, so you have to respect that” is supposed to be an excuse for poor thinking? I doubt that’s your point, but I can’t imagine what else it would be.

          Yes, positing the supernatural is indeed enormously complicating, and dropping that supposition gives you a far simpler and more likely answer—that was the point of the post. That you’re accustomed to this idea is irrelevant.

          You charge me with bad faith—show me.

        • KarlUdy

          As I saw it, your questions were intended as a sort of presuppositional line of inquiry – “Suppose that these beliefs that you have are true, then what about this?”

          After all, how could you in good faith ask the question:

          Why won’t God heal amputees?

          and not expect a thoughtful answer to be given that did not take the existence of God for granted for the purposes of the discussion?

          This is the spirit that it appeared that the questions were given.

          If in attempting to answer the questions the theist becomes tied up in knots or stumped with a logical contradiction, then you can use this as evidence that the worldview may not be robust enough to deal with these questions.

          But to criticise arguments in this type of discussion because they assume as facts the beliefs that it is agreed are part of the worldview betrays an unwillingness to actually test whether the worldview is internally consistent by simply voicing your disagreement with the worldview.

          That is why I described your questions as “in bad faith”.

          You would not accept “because God did it” as a defeater for an issue which atheism cannot answer simply (such as consciousness, the cause of the universe, etc). In particular, if the question, “I don’t think an atheist has any explanation for this, but how does an atheist explain consciousness?” was given. I’m sure you would regard a response of “That sounds complicated. Wouldn’t it be much simpler to just admit God did it?” as out of line, and rightly so. Why? Because it would seem I was just pretending to take your arguments seriously but having no intention of doing so.

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

          expect a thoughtful answer to be given that did not take the existence of God for granted for the purposes of the discussion?

          Yes, I want the best arguments Christianity has for these questions.

          If in attempting to answer the questions the theist becomes tied up in knots or stumped with a logical contradiction, then you can use this as evidence that the worldview may not be robust enough to deal with these questions.

          Few Christians would admit that. They’ll flip open Evidence that demands a verdict or other apologetics tome and parrot the argument they’ve been assured is a sensible answer. My point isn’t that Christians have no answer, just that their answer is convoluted and ad hoc compared to the hypothesis “there is no god.”

          That said, several Christians have responded with their own answers. I could take that two ways: either “FYI, here are other good arguments to add to your list” or “You’re full of crap—my Christian answers are way better than yours.” I may have interpreted an answer of the first type with an answer of the second, and that might’ve brought from me an unwanted critique. Is that relevant to your point?

        • KarlUdy

          I always try to give answers in the spirit of the first type.

          If you treat people as if they’re giving answers of the second type you’re going to generate more heat than light in any discussions here.

        • KarlUdy

          I see that ucfengr below has experienced the exact same issues I was talking about. He explained how he dealt with these issues to his satisfaction according to his tradition, but these answers were treated with disdain, to the point that after defending them several times, you seem unaware of his original explanations, and somehow expect him to show how these explanations not only satisfy supposed problems within Christianity (which was their intended aim) but to also demonstrate that Christianity answers these questions better than atheism (which is impossible as the questions assume Christianity)

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

          I completely missed ucfengr’s direct response to the questions. Several people–you too, right?–gave me an enumerated list. If he responded directly to all 5 questions then I didn’t see it.

        • Kodie

          What are we supposed to do with your answers? Say, “oh, that’s interesting,” and not comment on how warped they are? Let me give you a clue – we’re…. I’m not interested in your answers to get a Christian perspective, except it helps to know how an actual Christian will answer these questions. These questions are not based on curiosity of the Christian mindset, but are criticisms of the Christian mindset, based on answers Christians have already given that leave giant gaping holes in logic. Your answers to these questions do not sew up these holes. It is the supreme hope that you get to the part where you think whether these answers satisfy you or are not satisfying to you. Some of the atheists who post here are testament to these answers’ ridiculousness because they used to believe them but found them to fail to satisfy. Maybe that’s not you, but you are acting surprised and wounded that someone would ask you a question to see what your answer would be, and then, because your answer is basically bullshit, criticize your answer. Why do you think you can give bullshit answers and not invite criticism?

        • KarlUdy

          By all means criticize if there are internal contradictions in my answers. That is not my complaint.

          My complaint is that to criticize a Christian viewpoint merely because it is Christian is actually sidelining the discussion.

        • Kodie

          Who did that?

        • wtfwjtd

          Sometimes, criticizing the Christian viewpoint “merely” because it is Christian is a fair and ethical thing to do–for example, the God-endorsed genocide and slavery of the Old Testament, for example. Criticizing this isn’t sidelining the discussion, it *is* the discussion. Forcing the Christian to denounce this and distance him/herself from it is the object here, and so, this likely won’t be comfortable.
          OTOH, I’ll grant your point on other not so obvious things. Civility and some empathy is definitely an asset for both sides of a discussion, and will help facilitate it.

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

          Who does that? I criticize an argument because it’s flawed, and that’s what most commenters here do. I get criticized myself from other atheists occasionally.

        • KarlUdy

          Bob,
          When you criticized my earlier answers to your 5 questions that a Christian must answer, because implicit in the answer was an assumption that God existed, you were doing that. How could a Christian answer these questions without assuming God as a given for the purposes of the discussion? Some of the questions even explicitly mentioned God!

          To grant a premise for the purpose of a discussion, and then to fault the answers for assuming the given premise proves nothing more than how low you’re willing to go to try to score points.

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

          I thought we were on the same page here.

          In this (unusual) post, yes, a valid Christian response could be to offer additional Christian answers to the questions. That response could be accompanied by a request that I take them simply to bolster the Christian answers in my post rather than criticize them.

          Where’s the problem?

        • KarlUdy

          The problem is not that the answers are criticized, it is that they are criticized for depending on a premise that is given for the purposes of the argument.

          Let me put it mathematically, and you might find it simpler to see my issue …

          Let’s say I give you an equation with x and y, and tell you, if x=a, then solve for y. You proceed to provide a solution for y, and then I tell you your solution is no good because I can’t believe that x=a. Would it be true that your solution is no good, or would I be treating your contribution to the exchange unfairly?

        • MNb

          While I’m not saying that BobS or anyone else is doing this – then I should first reread way too many comments – I agree with you that criticizing christian answers on eg 1 and 2 because they assume god is a lame strategy. The point of those two questions is to show that if assuming god a good answer isn’t possible, so we should stick to that.
          Overall I don’t find these five questions very good; you can find my criticism if you scroll down almost to the bottom. Plus I provide five other questions. Plus I think questions 6-10 better.

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

          This post was unusual in that answers of the first type were welcome. I want to give Christians’ best responses to these problems without judgment on my part.

          But almost every other post is of type 2, where I present a problem. I welcome Christians trying to support their side, but I will attack weak arguments as necessary.

          This blog is pretty much a type 2 blog–bring your A game, Christians, but be prepared to defend your arguments.

          You’ve always seemed to have no problem with that before, it seems to me. No?

        • MNb

          “you think you could do a better job than God.”
          This implies “having the abilities of god” hence your last sentence doesn’t make sense.

        • Kodie

          And if you ask what exactly God has done to prevent evil, the simplest
          way to think about things is to ask if our world could be more evil. If
          it could, then God is responsible for preventing that evil that could
          potentially have occurred but did not.

          That sure is “simple”. This is a case of Stockholm Syndrome, Karl.

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

          “My boyfriend could’ve beaten me more, and I’m just grateful to him that he didn’t.”

        • MNb

          “So you are suggesting that God should over-ride our free will if we are about to use our free will in bad ways?”
          How does this play out in Heaven, where you expet to go after you die? Are you suggesting that you won’t ever use your free will in bad ways after you die? Then why do you do so on Earth? If you have a good answer for it, why doesn’t god let you skip Earthly life and send you there immediately after he has created your soul? Omniscient as he is he knows that you deserve it.

        • JohnH2

          “But, given zero evidence, I have no reason to think that.”

          There would be zero evidence of a rape that didn’t happen.

        • Kodie

          Are you kidding me? I’m sure there are accounts of rapes that almost happened but got interrupted for some reason, and would you suggest that none of these were attributed by the victim to god?

        • JohnH2

          If that is your argument then you already have evidence of God preventing rape.

        • hector_jones

          Stuff happens, so God.

        • Kodie

          No, I don’t have evidence of god preventing rape. I have evidence of a rape that didn’t occur, which you said there would be no evidence for. I don’t believe like you do, that god has his hands over all the variables, and for some people that variable results in a rape committed and some a rape interrupted.

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

          And zero reason to imagine that God did it.

          You do realize that I have no interest in proving that God doesn’t exist or that God didn’t do thing X, right? I simply follow the evidence. And I conclude: no god.

        • Kodie

          It doesn’t seem at all like free will is one of god’s priorities. “Free will” is just a way for you to explain, poorly, why bad people do bad things to other people. The free will explanation is back-ended into situations that already occur, as if that makes it all better – god doesn’t want to control us, he wants us to be free to make whatever choices we make and then know that when we do, we accept the consequences he will dish out as a result of our behavior.

          This doesn’t fit well with “god has a plan” and “everything happens for a reason” and what we are to take away from suffering, because “god” didn’t make the situation, he just didn’t interfere, but he planned for it to happen so we would have some lesson learned, or to keep us company while we recover.

          A lot of people believe in fate, and they feel powerful feelings of love for someone and they were meant to be. They take the good with the bad and fix themselves to promise this person to the end of their life. Let’s say god knows this guy, and he arranges for it for this woman to meet him, bump into him at the grocery store and, you know, if she didn’t go to her refrigerator that day and see her cheese had spoiled, she wouldn’t even go to the grocery store to get cheese. She meets Mr. Perfect near the cheese, and they date and later get married. He’s a little nasty and controlling sometimes, but he’s just moody and sensitive, she rationalizes. He beats her every once in a while, but he always brings flowers the next day because he really is sorry and didn’t mean it. She persists in the belief that they’re soul mates and meant to be together, because she loves him and he loves her. I’m not making this shit up out of whole cloth, matchmaking is something people think god does.

          So did god know the man was abusive before he spoiled the woman’s cheese? Does the woman rationalize that this is who god put her with so it must be what she deserves?

          Later on a few years, she gets out of the relationship permanently. She’s had a lot of time to think about it, and she decides that god put her in the cheese aisle that day and into an abusive relationship and marriage in order to teach her something. It’s all part of god’s plan, for people to rationalize terrible situations they’re in or have escaped from as life lessons they needed to learn firsthand, in order to rise from the ashes and become a better person. But not everyone becomes a better person! Platitudes like that are not the rule but the exception. We love triumph stories, and use these to measure god’s plan – the woman would not have returned to college and gotten her master’s degree if she had just gotten into a plain loving relationship based on equality and respect. She needed to fall for the abusive dude in order to triumph! The reality is most people are not changed for the very much better by having been victim to a bad person.

          In any case, her free will was trumped all her life, and affected by having been in an abusive marriage. Her plans involved falling in love and getting married to a good person, and she was manipulated into thinking the wrong person was right by conflicting rationalizations of god’s plan and free will.

        • KarlUdy

          There are simple ways to figure out if the claim “Person X exists” is true. You say that you have alternate ways of knowing that Person X exists, but in so doing, you’re agreeing with me that the conventional ways don’t work.

          I think the reason you see this as a problem is because (correct me if I’m wrong) you are a materialist.

          I have good reasons for believing in the existence of immaterial reality (and God) without a personal appearance.

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

          I think the reason you see this as a problem is because (correct me if I’m wrong) you are a materialist.

          No, it’s because I know what a person is and how interactions work. You’re saying (1) God is a person as real as you and I but (2) all the ways of interacting and even knowing of his existence are different.

          Drop one or the other.

        • KarlUdy

          How would you interact with a non-material person?

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

          A never-material person? That kind of person would be irrelevant because he and I could never conceivably interact.

          A sometimes-material person? Someone who was supernatural but could interact with the physical world sometimes would, presumably interact just like you do.

          Or, if your point is, “It’s God! What a dumb question to think that you could interact with him like you and I do!” then we agree. Don’t call him a person in this case since he doesn’t act at all like a person.

        • MNb

          “What are these statements about the natural world that are wrong?”
          Pick your choice:

          http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/science/long.html

        • KarlUdy

          If the Bible were amended to appease the skeptics annotated bible, then it would be nonsense.

          Seriously.

          One of the complaints is that the Bible refers to the seven stars (Pleiades), there are actually thousands of stars but only seven are visible to the human eye.

          It’s on the level of saying that any writing would be in error if it referred to a sunrise, as we know that the sun does not in fact rise, but the earth rotates to bring the sun into view.

        • MNb

          “there are actually thousands of stars”
          There are actually gazillions of stars. Quite a blooper, Karl. But that’s what happens when you rely on the Bible for statements about the natural world.
          Last time I tried to count far more than seven stars were visible. There are seven in the category “Pleiades”, but that category is meaningless in modern astronomy. These seven stars don’t have any relation with each other.
          Thanks for picking this example of a wrong statement about the natural world in your favourite Holy Book.

        • JohnH2

          Wikipedia agrees with Karl:

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

        • MNb

          I stand corrected: the Pleiades appear to be more than just an astrological constellation. That’s about the only point on which Wikipedia agrees:

          “The cluster contains over 1,000 statistically confirmed members”
          “It is dominated by young, hot blue stars, up to 14 of which can be seen with the naked eye depending on local observing conditions.”
          Not exactly what Karl writes. Hence it’s still an example of a wrong Bible statement about the natural world.

        • KarlUdy

          There are actually gazillions of stars. Quite a blooper, Karl. But that’s what happens when you rely on the Bible for statements about the natural world.

          If you think my mention of “thousands of stars is a blooper, please let me credit my source: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/science/long.html

          292. “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion.”
          Other translations have “Pleiades” instead of “seven stars.” In any case, the Pleiades is an open star cluster that contains thousands of stars, not just the “seven stars” that are easily visible from earth without a telescope. And the constellation Orion is a collection of stars that happens to form an interesting, but temporary, pattern when viewed from earth. It was not purposefully designed by anyone or anything. 5:8

          What do you expect? that the Bible would refer to constellations that couldn’t be seen?! That would be nonsense.

        • wtfwjtd

          “What do you expect? that the Bible would refer to constellations that couldn’t be seen?! That would be nonsense.”

          Well, the Bible does refer to God, who can’t be seen, so…ah, but I digress.

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

          I would indeed expect that the book inspired/written by the supernatural creator of the universe would have new scientific information. That it doesn’t is another clue.

        • KarlUdy

          Do you expect it to say who the winners of the World Series are, too?

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

          Meaningless

        • KarlUdy

          Yes, meaningless is exactly what new scientific information would be in a book that is not about science.

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

          Nope, not meaningless. Potentially quite helpful–it could save or improve millions of lives. That’s pretty important to we humans, though I’ll admit that the Bible may not much care.

          This is no proof that God doesn’t exist, but it’s yet one more log on the bonfire of evidence pointing against the God hypothesis.

  • Pofarmer

    I think the starving children question is a very good one. Sam Harris absolutely knocks that one out of the park. Mark Twain does a little bit different version with diseases and parasites, but they both come to basically the same conclusion.

  • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

    A very interesting post. I would add that another stressful point of Christian doctrine is the underlying idea of Evil as an effect of the so-called “Fall of Humankind”, an event we all supposedly participate in, in some mysterious way. Put simply, an honest Christian, confronted by a distressed person (a widower, a cancer survivor, etc.) would reply saying something like “I’m really sorry, dude, but your tragedy is ultimately YOUR fault, as you are a sinner…”, and yada yada yada.

    • MNb

      I strongly dislike this as well, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

      • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

        Anything is possible: I was just pointing out that very few apologists/preachers dare to honestly say that, often preferring more haphazardous answers.

        • R Vogel

          You need to go to some Pentecostal churches, they say that shit all the time!

        • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

          I live in Italy, where Pentecostal churches are still marginal; also, I guess their pastors are ready to give you some kind of “magical” solution, provided you “believe” (and pay) enough.

        • R Vogel

          Repentance and grace is generally the solution, although a healthy tithe never hurts……

    • R Vogel

      How would you respond to a christian who says that ‘the Fall’ isn’t an event, it is describing a certain facet of the human make-up couched in a metaphorical story?

      Also, just as a sidebar, although the scenario you are describing, where we would bear the responsibility for the sin of Dirtman (sounds more like a super hero!), is the most prevalent view in western christianity, it is not the only view, nor is it, from my rudimentary understanding, the most historical either.

      Quick Note: I am not trying to proselytize you or anyone else, not sure how much of this I believe myself, just kicking around different ways of thinking about these text beyond the typical evangelical, fundamentalist, adjective, adjective, adjective American christian talks about them

      • Kingasaurus

        —“How would you respond to a christian who says that ‘the Fall’ isn’t an
        event, it is describing a certain facet of the human make-up couched in a
        metaphorical story?”—

        Then god would still be responsible for our make-up, metaphor or no. It’s still his fault, either way. If you can do anything, it’d be pretty easy to create free beings who don’t have the drives and inclination to do destructive or “sinful” things every five seconds. It’d be pretty easy to make “sin” so physically repulsive that we’d never want to do it – like drinking battery acid. We’re “free” to do it, but nobody wants to.

        • R Vogel

          The whole ‘who is responsible thing’ is a side issue for me in this context, although I agree it is a serious objection to those who would want to use the story in that way. I have yet to find someone who can make any sense of what kind of a G*d would create a flawed being and then punish them for it. So without getting into all the details, over which you could have many reasonable objections, could you accept that there may be something more going on in the ancient myth of ‘the Fall’ than describing an actual event? I mean, I am pretty sure that the story of Phaethon in Ovid is not meant to be factual. It includes a bunch of anti-science nonsense like the Sun being dragged across the sky by a chariot. But it is trying to get at some sort of truth, perhaps only relevant to ancient Greek and Roman culture. Could some of the stories in the bible be of similar composition?

        • Kingasaurus

          Well, yeah. It’s basically ancient people trying to explain why the world isn’t perfect and bad things happen and people do stupid things. Not very different from other creation stories from other tribes. Not sure what answer you’re looking for, exactly.

        • R Vogel

          OK, that’s all. I think it is different to say they are ‘people trying to explain why the world isn’t perfect…’ versus stating that they were writing down how they thought things actually unfolded. No different at all from other creation stories, I completely agree. I’m not making a case for one versus another. I think few if any creation stories are trying to set down a historical narrative as much as trying to think through almost psychological questions about why things are the way they are in a metaphorical framework. I am absolutely dumbfounded when I meet full grown adults who try to defend the Genesis accounts as historical fact – magic gardens, talking snakes, G*d strolling around (does he have feets?!), fiery swords! Can adults really believe this?

        • Kingasaurus

          —-OK, that’s all. I think it is different to say they are ‘people trying to explain why the world isn’t perfect…’ versus stating that they were writing down how they thought things actually unfolded.—

          Well, they might have thought that at the time. It’s hard to tell where and when these stories bubble up and become set as part of a cultural framework. It shares many features with similar stories like Pandora’s Box and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. “Don’t touch that!.. You’ll be sorry!” And so on…

          Pretty obvious to me the Israelites were influenced by Sumerian, Babylonian and Persian mythology at one time or another. It’s not a coincidence that the Garden of Eden is supposed to be between the Tigris and Euphrates.

        • R Vogel

          Sure – I think whenever human societies come in contact with each other they can’t help but transfer things to each other. I was reading recently about Lilith, who pops up a couple of times in the Jewish scriptures – a later myth turns her into Dirtman’s first wife, but she is more likely borrowed from Babylonian religion (if I remember correctly). The flood story is clearly from a well defined regional trope. I find them interesting from a literary/humanist perspective, in the same way I find Ovid interesting, or Homer, or Marcus Aurelius interesting. For all the talk of the scripture as a moral guide, I have never found any moral teachings that people wouldn’t figure out on their own. Don’t murder, duh! Don’t steal. Maybe that’s why many/most(?) christians are so hung up on the homosexuality thing – it is the one rule that (a) is not inconvenient to follow (gots to have our bacon) and (b) is not totally obvious (you mean it might be a bad thing if I sleep with my father’s wife, what?!)

        • CodyGirl824

          I call it the genre fallacy.

        • Kodie

          Nobody cares what you call it.

        • CodyGirl824

          My understanding is that we are not punished for being sinful but we are deserving of punishment for acting sinfully when we know better.

        • Kodie

          Your understanding is that whatever created the universe cares about any of this shit.

        • R Vogel

          From my rudimentary understanding of it, I think that is closer to the Orthodox position which does not accept the doctrine of original sin. For me sin complicates the issue because you now have to define what ‘sin’ is and that takes us down the rathole of ‘Is something sinful because G*d hates it, or does G*d hate things because they are sinful?’ People are comfortable with different degrees of caprice in their deities – I suspect most commentors on this post have no tolerance for it at all. I don’t care about the whole punishment angle one way or the other – I am interested in how ancient peoples thought about why people are the way they are. They used the term sin, I would use the terms selfish, short-sighted, violent, uncharitable, etc. At least those are things we can, hopefully, all agree on as not ideal for human community development and perpetuation, yet we seem to all suffer from them to some degree of other. Ancient people did not have the benefits of evolutionary psychology and neurology to understand how these things may have developed in our brain structure so they used other metaphors. Like us they suffered from confirmation biases and cultural myopia and went further afield then they probably should have declaring things that they didn’t like or thought was icky as evil. Even today many people are not interested or able to understand evolutionary psychology or philosophical ethics, so religion can be a useful shortcut if we a willing/able to untangle some of the mess. If not, it will end up on the ash heap of history and rightly so.

        • wtfwjtd

          “People are comfortable with different degrees of caprice in their deities – I suspect most commentors on this post have no tolerance for it at all.”

          That reminds me of a PBS Masterpiece Theater “(Any Human Heart)”, I believe–one of the characters made the statement, “Dammit, Mountstewart, I don’t want to serve a god I can sit down and have tea with, I want to serve a wrathful, vengeful god…”

          Yep, he’d been reading some those wonderful Old Testament stories for sure….

        • R Vogel

          Ha! Funny thing is in my experience it is christians who want to serve that G*d more than anyone of the Jewish faith. Strange that…..

        • CodyGirl824

          Without free will, there can be no love, because to love is an act of free will. When there is free will, there must be a choice not to love and therefore, to act unlovingly, toward ourselves and others. Conformity to God’s will for humankind is pure love. To go against God’s will and to disobey God’s loving laws is sin. The Apostle Paul describes the drive toward sin in our human nature; Romans 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” If you want to blame God for our human nature and be angry about free will, go ahead, but we Christians know God’s love because He gives us wisdom to discipline ourselves against sin and seek the means for salvation from sin, Jesus Christ.

        • hector_jones

          Prove to us that love is an act of freewill. I can point to many parents of children who don’t agree with you.

        • CodyGirl824

          Do you think that love can be coerced? If love is not a free chose, it is not love. I really don’t understand your question. It is really silly of you to think that I have to “prove” anything about love. If you don’t know what love is, then you aren’t human.

        • Kingasaurus

          Another part of being human is actually understanding your opponents’ arguments.

        • CodyGirl824

          But I do. I simply find them unconvincing.

        • Kodie

          You have not demonstrated that you do.

        • hector_jones

          It doesn’t follow from what I say that love is coerced, any more than hunger is coerced.

        • CodyGirl824

          What? I am responding to your demand that I “prove” that love is an act of free will. If love can be coerced, then it is not an act of free will, and it is not love. But you make a good point, perhaps inadvertently. Love comes naturally to human beings, as naturally as hunger, and is something that we all experience.Would there be hunger if we humans had no need for food?

        • Kingasaurus

          —If love can be coerced, then it is not an act of free will—

          You mean “Love me or burn in hell.”?

          That kind of coercion?

        • CodyGirl824

          Do you understand what it means to love God? Surely, you are familiar with the metaphor of God, the Father. Why do you think God would want (command) us to love Him? The way I understand God, it that is because God loves us and because He loves us (all of us), He wants us to love Him as He who created all of us. As our Heavenly Father, He only wants what is best for us. God loves all of His creation and wants us to love it, too. That means that anything that is harmful and destructiv­e to ourselves or to our fellow human beings (also children of God) or to God’s creation (the environmen­t, all living creatures)­, is disobedien­ce to God (called sin) and goes against His will for us. Why would anyone want to disobey a Father who is all powerful, all knowing and all loving who wants us to live the Abundant Life and has revealed to us how we can achieve this? And if, in addition, God promises us an eternal life with Him enjoying His love and without the suffering of our biological bodies at the conclusion of our time on earth, why not do all we can to achieve this as an extension into eternity of the “abundant life” (John 10:10)? It all makes perfect sense to me.

        • Kodie

          The problem is your reading comprehension, if this makes perfect sense to you. Nothing else makes any sense to you unless it fits in your theology. You lie and evade questions and misinterpret the subject constantly, as if you can’t understand a damn thing about anything. Who is to trust your understanding about this when you have such a record of botching nearly anything else?

        • hector_jones

          Nevermind Jenna. I didn’t really expect an intelligent answer from you anyway. I wanted to see if you would display even the slightest grasp of the problem of simply asserting that love is an act of free will. You did not disappoint.

        • CodyGirl824

          If you don’t agree that love is an act of free will, why don’t you just say so? If not, then why argue about it? I don’t think that I am wrong in assuming that you know what love is and what it is not. You are the one playing games here, hector.

        • Kodie

          Now you are chasing your tail. What does god have to do with any of this?

        • hector_jones

          And no it’s not silly to have to prove the things you say. Only you think it’s silly because you have no idea how logical argument works.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, you are overusing the word “prove.” As I said, and we appear to agree, I don’t have to “prove” anything about love since we all experience it. Oh, please, don’t tell me that you are one of those “prove to me you love me” kind of guys!

        • hector_jones

          Just give me some evidence and reasoned argument for why love must be an act of free will for it to be love. But of course you can’t even grasp the issue here, so don’t worry about it.

        • Kodie

          Oh, please, don’t tell me that you are one of those “prove to me you love me” kind of guys!

          But it’s great when god does it!

          Yes, Jenna, you do have to support your claims with some kind of proof.

        • CodyGirl824

          My “claim” is that love is an act of free will and that without free will, there can be no love. What proof is needed? Either you agree or disagree. If you disagree, give me an example of coerced love that is not freely given that is really love.

        • MNb

          “since we all experience it”
          For the third time: no, there are characters who don’t experience love. What’s your conclusion?

        • CodyGirl824

          Are you claiming that Jeffrey Dalmer never experienced love from his parents or grandparents or siblings? From his teachers in school? From anyone? Or that he never felt love for anyone or any thing? How can you know this? I am reminded of the “thriving babies” studies from the 1950’s where researchers found that babies who were feed and cared for routinely but not held and nurtured in orphanages in Europe lost their will to live and died. Dalmer would not have grown to manhood had he not experienced love. His own capacity to love was damaged somehow, as with sociopaths, but nonetheless, he experienced love. But this is all really beside the point. Do you or do you not agree that love is an act of free will? A yes or no will suffice.

        • Kodie

          How does this to do with your claim of your god, who loves me but I don’t experience it?

        • CodyGirl824

          Did you make yourself come into existence? Are you grateful for being alive? If you feel a sense of gratitude, appreciation and awe at your own existence, then you experience God.

        • Kodie

          If you could only learn what’s wrong with every part of that answer. It’s a bullshit non-answer. I experience life, I’m alive, that does not conclude experience “god” character or love. Another one of your baseless assertions.

        • CodyGirl824

          So what name do you give to whatever it is that brought you into existence? Note that I mean all the way back to the beginning of life on earth, not just your parents, whose beginning is also at the beginning of all life on earth. What brought the very first living cell into existence?

        • Kodie

          It’s called abiogenesis.Unlike you, I don’t give undue awe and personify it. It doesn’t love me and didn’t plan for me. Why do you be so silly and give that a personal name with personal qualities?

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay. Your choice. Do you think that the name God is a personal name? Funny, but I don’t.

        • Kodie

          Is that what I said? Read and address what I actually said.

        • CodyGirl824

          What did I get wrong? You told me that you “don’t give undue awe and personify it” with “it” being abiogenesis. I said, okay, that’s your choice. And I indicated that I don’t think of the name “God” as a personal name. So what’s the problem?

        • Kodie

          I didn’t say anything about names, I said qualities. We’re talking about personal qualities. Nothing about names. Why are you so confused about this? I’m using language to convey a thought and your impulse is always to comprehend something else.

        • CodyGirl824

          Certainly, you can agree that we cannot talk about the “qualities” of a non-existent something. Why would we. There is simply nothing to say about it since it doesn’t have any qualities because it doesn’t exist.

        • Kodie

          No I don’t agree. Why would I certainly agree? Because it makes all kinds of sense to you, that means it is sensible universally? I have given you examples and you dodge them or classify them as another thing entirely so your god can continue to have unique personal qualities, behaviors and intentions that you keep pulling rather obviously from your ass.

        • hector_jones

          They have entire gatherings of people who get together and discuss the qualities of non-existent things. They call it Comicon. In other places they call it Church.

        • Pofarmer

          I actually respect comicon players, at least they know they are getting off on fiction.

        • hector_jones

          I’m not making fun of Comicon. I’m pointing out an obvious example that shows that Jenna is, once again, out to lunch.

        • Pofarmer

          I didn’t mean to imply that you were making fun. I was just agreeing witht you.

        • hector_jones

          Ah I see what your point is. I read it as saying you respect comicon players but I don’t. But you are saying you respect comicon players, but not religious people.

        • CodyGirl824

          Do any of these Comicon fans deify and worship any one of their comic characters as the Creator of the universe?

        • hector_jones

          That’s not the issue, Jenna. You said “we cannot talk about the “qualities” of a non-existent something. Why
          would we. There is simply nothing to say about it since it doesn’t have any qualities because it doesn’t exist.” And I just proved that you were full of shit.

        • Kodie

          I think most of them know they are fictional characters but some might get too involved in their fantasy.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, sexual reproduction brought me into existence. Abiogenisis brought life into existence. Quantum forces brought the Universe into existence.

        • MNb

          “How can you know this?”
          You’re disingeneous once again. A few comments above your wrote:

          “If love is not a free chose, it is not love.”
          Here you’re talking about an emotion you assume that every human being feels, so including Jeffrey Dahmer. Now suddenly you talk about something outsiders give to JD. Love given and love receiving are obviously not the same. It’s safe to assume that JD never felt love for any other human being, or he would not have been capable of his cruelties. The question if his parents, teachers etc. felt love for him is irrelevant here.
          Have I told you already that with your dishonesty you are walking antipropaganda for your belief system? You do a better job for atheism than any atheist overhere.

        • hector_jones

          Actually my point wasn’t that there are people who don’t experience love (though I’m sure there are), but that there are people who experience love in such a way that it doesn’t feel like they had a choice in the matter at all, such as the love many parents feel for children.

        • Kodie

          Love from god is a threat of eternal damnation or love. Yes, people can be manipulated and that’s not love.

        • MNb

          The no true love fallacy.
          I ask again: were characters like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ilse Koch not human? They didn’t feel any love for their victims, so apparently they didn’t know what it is. Or are they another divine failure?

        • Kingasaurus

          You didn’t even read what I said. Totally Clueless.

          You can create beings who still have “free will” but have the internal willpower to go indefinitely without sinning for very long periods of time. You could make “sinning” physically repulsive instead of pleasurable. Like drinking battery acid.

          Did god do that? No.

          If your god instead made us in such a way that we were so constitutionally weak that our sinning would be widespread and inevitable, then it’s his fault.

          Right now, you have the “free will” to drink battery acid. Do you want to? Will you? No. God could have made disobedience as repulsive as battery acid, without affecting our “free will” one bit.

          I’m betting you won’t get this at all.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay. I get it. You who doesn’t believe in God think that you have a better plan for humankind than He does.

        • Kingasaurus

          Any logical human can think up a better plan! It’s stupid. Almost as if the whole religion was invented by pre-scientific people who didn’t know any better. Hmmm…..

          I knew you wouldn’t get the problem. Woosh! Right over your head.

        • Kodie

          This sounds exactly like a human plan. A deity can’t come up with a better plan than threaten people who can’t acknowledge his existence because he remains hidden and doesn’t become apparent unless you are willing to submit your own logical senses in trade for a chance at something you might get but you don’t know for sure until after you die? Any decent advertiser could make a better plan than that.

        • wtfwjtd

          Hang on King, you may have picked a bad example there. Mark 16:17-18 says “And these signs shall accompany those who believe:…when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all…”
          So, Cody should be perfectly willing to choose to drink battery acid, to demonstrate her belief.

        • Ron

          It also promises them the power to heal the sick. I’d much rather see her go in and clear out entire hospital wards.

        • wtfwjtd

          Agreed!

        • CodyGirl824

          Deuteronomy 6:16
          “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.”

        • Kingasaurus

          “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, you wouldn’t want to put your God to the test, ’cause he’d fail, and you would die.

        • CodyGirl824

          I don’t wish to put God to the test because He is the teacher and I am the student. I would fail. As do atheists who propose silly schemes to test God by asking His students stupid questions.

        • Kingasaurus

          “Just obey and keep your mouth shut!”

        • CodyGirl824

          Most people pray silently, so keeping the mouth shut doesn’t pose a problem for us in communicating with God.

        • Kingasaurus

          Then give the rest of us a break.

        • Kodie

          Now who’s being a literalist? The one who lectured us on misunderstanding Jesus’s “figure of speech” (in quotation marks) about sheep, without giving a relevant answer that time, come to think about it.

        • Kodie

          These are questions you must have asked and you just find the answers satisfactory. You make a lot of bold claims about atheists, and yet you fail to answer any question I’ve asked about the testimony of people who used to be Christians and came to understand from our “silly questions” or otherwise that there is no god. You only care about testimony that supports your claims and have not said one word about the testimony of people who used to believe this bullshit and why they don’t believe it anymore (and how they feel about it).

          But you are not god’s student, you are a pawn. None of your answers is a logical and seamless answer that actually puts the question to rest. It’s not silly to ask these questions, it’s normal to wonder about these things, and it’s normal to ask a Christian to answer them because we wouldn’t know.

        • CodyGirl824

          Oh, please, Kodie. You aren’t really so naive to think that Bob Seidensticker asks these questions, declaring that Christians must answer, because he really wants to know?

          As for testimony of ex-Christians, I know of no one personally who is one, and I have not really explored anyone’s public testimony about his/her de-conversion, so I don’t wish to speculate. However, from what I have read of these cases and take note of is that these stories are mostly about the person’s disaffection with a specific community of faith that they left out of anger or disappointment rather than having much to say about his/her broken relationship with God.

        • Kodie

          Why don’t you do the work and check it out? It’s only fair. Many atheists you find on these blogs used to be Christians. Did you even ask or did you make assumptions?

        • Kodie

          Seriously, you have a strawman atheist you are arguing against, and you don’t even know it. We’ve been writing to you for a few weeks and not a single clue has gotten through your thick, wrong skull. From what you gather from your preconceived notions and stereotypes? Your arguments are terrible and former Christians come to recognize them as terrible and come to recognize the existence of god as nothing more than an illusion. You make assertions that atheists will never get through all the faith, but faith is slipping in numbers. You warn against reading the results assuming they all turned atheist, but they didn’t stay Christians, Jenna. That’s what the data says. Atheists poke a lot of holes in beliefs, maybe not yours, but many Christians are educable, I never claimed you were. If this is not convincing you, then leave it alone, but you seem to think you’re here to convince us – your arguments, I repeat, are illogical garbage and not likely to convert or intrigue any atheist here. It only works on the “atheist” who believes in god already and is rebellious – that’s not us, we call those Christians.

          Bob used to be a Christian! I think most patheos atheist bloggers were Christians. JT of WWJTD collects and shares letters from former Christians who write and thank him for arguing them out of their position, he has hundreds. That’s just one blogger.

        • wtfwjtd

          Of the regulars here who post comments, I used to be a Christian, and of course Pofarmer, Mr Two, Greg G, and many others. Speaking strictly for myself, my god belief fell apart when I actually started looking for confirming evidence for my beliefs. I had a relative that got into apologetics in a big way, and it was then that I began to realize how flimsy the whole underpinnings of Christianity was. As Greg G has said, once you see it, you can’t unsee it. I didn’t choose not to believe, any more than I could choose not to believe gravity; it’s just where the evidence led, plain and simple. No anger necessary.

        • MNb

          I have never believed (I started out as an agnost) and am not even baptized, so I never have had a relationship with any god. Hence it can’t be broken.

        • CodyGirl824

          You may not have a relationship with God, but God has a relationship with you as your/our Creator, but I get your meaning as to how you see it from your point of view.

        • MNb

          Thats’ a circular argument once again: god exists, he has a relationship with me, hence he exists. Shrug.

        • Kodie

          Are you ever going to answer the question of how whatever caused the big bang is a whoever that has a relationship with me?

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

          When Christians have answers that I didn’t expect or anticipate, yes, I want to know.

        • MNb

          Then your god is a bad teacher. I happen to teach maths and physics and am actually delighted if my students test me. I encourage them to do so. Unlike your god I don’t pretend to have all the answers though.
          I like your analogies, Cody. They tend to show the opposite of what you are trying to argue.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s a great point MNb, if your students aren’t asking questions, they aren’t paying attention. Like you, I am delighted when students of a subject under my tutelage ask questions–it means they are learning to think, and act, for themselves.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why do atheists see fit to put a God they don’t believe exists to the test? That’s the issue here. God does have all the answers, most especially about Himself. Of course, you don’t believe that because you don’t believe in God, so on this blog, atheists think that believers in God must take the test for Him. Let’s be clear about who’s asking who questions here, because of course, if I have questions for God, I go to Him directly. If you did the same, you might get the answers you are (allegedly) seeking.

        • Kodie

          It’s just a test of existence. Believers are willing to go way out of their way to make up possible reasons god’s not in the mood to be put to the test. An existent thing with so many qualities his believers claim him to have ought to behave as though he exists and has these qualities. Believers believe improbable and twisted logic in order to support their beliefs, and when you go ask god and come back to us with your answers, it seems even worse! God can’t be as stupid as you are, Jenna. His real answers are humans’ answers because he obviously doesn’t answer even your questions. Testing believers on the quality of their arguments is another thing. Your arguments come from imperfect illogical and gullible human minds, not what a rational person would expect of a deity in control of it all.

        • CodyGirl824

          If God did not exist, no believers would be making any claims at all about what God is like (His qualities) since nobody would have any reason to talk about a something that does not not exist. There is nothing to say about a non-existent X. Who are you to say that God does not have the qualities that we believers understand God to have? Our knowledge of God comes from our experiences of/with God, which you deny having.

        • Kodie

          Why do you think that’s true? If monsters under the bed didn’t exist, no children would be afraid of monsters eating their feet and smothering them in their sleep.

        • CodyGirl824

          How many adults do you know who debate for hours upon hours about the qualities of the monster their children imagine is living under their bed?

        • Kodie

          Now you’re catching on!

          I know you’re really not but you made a claim and I gave you a counter-example, a very common one. The question is how many adults do you know who actually argue that there are monsters under the bed?

        • CodyGirl824

          The point is this, Kodie. Our ability to imagine, conceptualize and understand God and to put those ideas and imagines into language to communicate about them does not mean that God is not a reality. The cause of the existence of everything in the universe is a reality. The cause of life’s existence on earth is a reality. The fact that we deify the First Cause and imagine its (His) qualities and characteristics, often through anthropomorphic metaphors and expressions does not mean that He/it does not exist or is not real or is only imagined. This is essential to atheists’ ability to grasp why denying God’s existence is merely an expression of their (negative) opinion about other people’s understanding and linguistic representations of the reality that we call “God.” God’s existence does not depend on human beings’ (individually or collectively) ability to imagine or understand God.

        • Kodie

          Now you’re evading again. The point is you said why would people talk about something that doesn’t exist? Why would this being have so many qualities and behaviors that humans have? You don’t use anthropomorphic metaphors, you are talking about a literal being with personal qualities, behaviors and intentions, and acts accordingly when it pleases him but not on demand, etc. and etc. You can keep asserting that we deny its existence, but you’re putting personal qualities, behaviors, and intentions on this thing non-metaphorically. You are not just using language to understand it, we do not disagree because we “deny” it, and we are saying there are no evident personal qualities, behaviors, and intentions that you assert continually without basis. The examples and arguments are faulty, and we are showing them to be faulty and unreasonable, imaginary, and rather unnecessary. You are arguing from a script because you reverted to some other standard assertion in place of addressing what I actually said. You don’t know and you know we know you don’t know.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie, I have explained that we talk about God using anthropomorphic representations and metaphors because we are created in God’s image, not the other way around. The way we discover God’s qualities is through experiences of/with God and a relationship with God. That’s how we know that God is real and what God is like. If you don’t have a relationship with God because you choose not to, then you will not learn what God is like for yourself. This fact, however, does not keep those of us who do have a relationship with God and experience God from sharing our knowledge and experiences through our human language, the only language we have.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you know what metaphors are, actually. I asked you how many adults argue that there are monsters under the bed, and you ignored it to go on your stupid spiel again, but I don’t think you know what a metaphor is. A metaphor is a comparison, you are making a definition. You have made hundreds of posts defining a literal god’s qualities, behaviors and intentions, and not a metaphorical understanding that you suggest. You asserted that people can’t talk about something that’s not real, and I said children fear monsters under the bed, they describe what it looks like, what it acts like and how it’s probably going to kill them in their sleep. This is a direct analogy to your god – the god you “know” by feelings. a child knows the monsters by feelings. Do the feelings of fear come from the monster under the bed or inside their own imagination? Is the monster really there? Does it exist? Then why are children capable of describing it?

          Yes, Jenna, this is something children do, and which you yourself did not take seriously that adults do. Instead of addressing it, you reverted to some other conversation to avoid it. You changed the subject because you don’t know and you know we know you don’t know. Take a laxative, it will come to you.

        • hector_jones

          The key for a believer is to have absolutely no expectations from God at all. That way they’ll never be disappointed.

          Coincidentally, this is also how people often end up coping with an alcoholic in the family. But God is awesome!

        • CodyGirl824

          How do you claim to know what is key for a believer since you aren’t one?

        • hector_jones

          Because you and your fellow christians have told us repeatedly that having any expectations from God is a mistake on our part. He’s not a performing monkey, ‘what makes you think God has any interest in proving himself to you, atheist?’ etc. Any time we say anything about what we would expect from God if he were real, you leap in and tell us this is an error and that God doesn’t work that way. The conclusion I am forced to draw from this is that believers expect nothing from God at all.

        • Kodie

          What do you think is really wrong with her?

        • hector_jones

          I don’t know. I’m not a psychiatrist.

        • CodyGirl824

          We object to the Cosmic Butler image of God because this is a distortion of the relationship between the person and God. You’re grasping at straws again, hector.

        • hector_jones

          You object entirely to the idea that anything can or should be expected from God. He does what he wants. If he does nothing at all even in a situation where a powerful, benevolent human being would act, that’s not a problem for you, because you expect nothing from him. And yet he’s out there and he’s totally awesome!

        • CodyGirl824

          You don’t know what you are talking about. Don’t tell me what I think, want and expect. How arrogant of you to do so.

        • hector_jones

          Oh but it’s not arrogant when you do it, right Jenna?

          And I’m not ‘telling’ you what you think, want and expect. I’m telling you what the logical conclusion is from your very own words about what you think, want and expect regarding your god. The message is ‘stop expecting anything from God, that’s not how he works!’

        • Kodie

          We know what you think, want, and expect, because you keep talking to us and describing it. If this is not what you want to sound like, I suggest you either shut up or think hard about what you really believe and how you’ve been expressing it to us.

          MEANWHILE,

          How do you claim to know what is key for a believer since you aren’t one?

          Among other lazy and wrong beliefs you have about atheism, one thing you ought to understand, unlike you, we can actually read.

        • Kodie

          You say no cosmic butler, hector says no expectations. What to you is the difference?

        • Kodie

          The key for a believer is to deflect criticism that is accurately portrayed in their own representations of themselves, with a complete bias against self-awareness, and a marked inability to read for comprehension. Meanwhile, your assertions on what atheists are is a ridiculous cartoon also invented by your theological implications to provide you an opposition and evidence for free will. You’re here to ignore everything we say and claim to understand it but you never do. Your stereotype of the atheist and what lies behind our arguments is so false, but you wouldn’t admit you’re wrong about that, since it conflicts with your beliefs.

        • hector_jones

          That’s exactly what I would say too if I wanted to get people to believe in my god and to get skeptics to shut up.

        • CodyGirl824

          Testing God comes from a profound misunderstanding of the relationship between God and us.

        • Kingasaurus

          The “profound misunderstanding” is you just assuming your invisible friend actually exists without first verifying it in a way that your personal biases are discounted as much as possible.

          Your problem is you just take “God exists” as an unfalsifiable axiom. Do you know what I’m talking about?

        • hector_jones

          She hasn’t a clue what you are talking about.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kingasaurus, if and when you could grasp what monotheism deifies, you will realize how nonsensical it is to argue about whether or not God exists. Define for me, please, exactly what you mean by the term/name/concept “God” and exactly what you mean by whatever it is you mean by “God” to “exist.” I’ll get you started with a dictionary definition of the term “to exist”:
          Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary definition of exists
          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exist

          “a : to have real being whether material or spiritual

          Please note that in common parlance, there are two types of existence: material or spiritual.

        • Kingasaurus

          You’ve got to be kidding.

          How do you know your “god” is real and not a figment of your imagination? If you were wrong about your answer, how could you tell? Is there any way to know that you were wrong?

          That’s the only question that matters.

          (Is this the same Jenna who doesn’t think the Gospels are anonymous and were actually written by the names that are on them? Or is this a different one? If it’s the same one, why am I even talking to you?)

        • wtfwjtd

          “Is this the same Jenna who doesn’t think the Gospels are anonymous and were actually written by the names that are on them? Or is this a different one? If it’s the same one, why am I even talking to you?”

          It’s the same one King. After a while, it’s kinda pointless going round and round with a septuagenarian that changes her beliefs (and word definitions) as the discussion suits her. I think you’ve gotten the idea.

        • Kodie

          It’s the same Jenna Black who left in a big snit a few months ago.

        • Kodie

          God “exists” in the collective and individual imaginations of over 2 billion people who, from what I gather, cannot agree on what monotheism deifies. You say monotheism makes whatever caused the big bang into a who without ever explaining why you make that leap, and expecting the rest of you to take it as a given. Meanwhile, we do not and you do not give us any reason to do so. God could come and clear this shit up, for instance, but he sent you, as wrong as you are about a lot of things, as bad as you are about reading comprehension, to assert that you actually KNOW something, anything, much less the nature of a deity whose laws we’re apparently beholden to obey or perish in hell.

          Now why would whatever caused the big bang care about that?

        • JohnH2

          1 Corinthians 1:27

        • Kodie

          That doesn’t mean anything to me.

        • Ron

          Judges 1:19

        • MNb

          You believe, so you are the one who must tell us what you mean by the term/name/concept “god”. Yours is different from John’s for instance; his god is material. Then I will go on arguing that the term/name/concept is meaningless.

        • MNb

          Yeah yeah, we already have found out that your relationship with your god is totally unilateral. You give everything and you get nothing.

        • Ron

          Behold!—the God-sanctioned “Alter Test” for determining whose god is for reals:

          1) Each “true god” contestant builds an alter of wood, butchers a bull and places the pieces upon the alter.

          2) Each alter gets doused three times with four pots of water.

          3) Each participant takes turns calling upon their chosen deity to light the alter (no cheating with incendiary materials such as lighter fluid or flamethrowers permitted).

          4) The god who answers by consuming everything in flames is the shizzle.

          Bonus: contest winners get to slaughter the losers. (See here for complete details.)

          Elijah: “The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

          Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

        • JohnH2

          Not sure that counts as an on going thing. Who would be the competing deities if it were?

          Malachi 3:8-12 reports to have something you could try proving God with.

        • Kodie

          Because he cannot pass!

        • Ron

          Free will is never mentioned once in the Bible. In fact, words like “appointed” and “predestined” make it crystal clear that the authors believed we’re nothing more than pieces being moved about in God’s cosmic chess game. (Acts 13:48; Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:11-21; Eph 1:4-5, 11; 2 Thes 2:11-12; 2 Tim 1:9)

        • hector_jones

          Yep. Free will was invented later as a way for apologists to try to explain why God is so well hidden from us.

        • wtfwjtd

          …and of course, why we deserve to burn in hell. It conveniently gets God off the hook.

        • CodyGirl824

          wtfwjtd, in our human law, we do not punish those who commit acts that they commit when they are incompetent to judge whether their actions were right or wrong, due to such factors as insanity or lack of maturity. Atheists choose of their own free will, in full control of their mental faculties, whether to love or not to love God. Their lack of love for God is not God’s fault, so there is no reason to “get God off the hook.” He was never on it in the first place, but atheists are, as are all of us.

        • MNb

          “Their lack of love for God is not God’s fault”
          Like I predicted above. This implies your god is not omnipotent – or he could have created me wit love for your god.
          What interests me is how this plays out in Heaven, the place you expect to go after you die. Will you have free will there? Will there be evil in Heaven? If the answers are yes and no, why didn’t your allknowing and omnipotent god send all the deserving souls (not me, obviously) there immediately after he created them, thus skipping the Vale of Tears called Earthly life? At this point again: how about the deal I proposed? Me giving up my existence for you getting reunited with your husband right here and now?

        • hector_jones

          Yep. Believers love to bring up ‘free will’ because it does double duty – they think it solves the Problem of Evil and the Problem of Hiddenness.

        • CodyGirl824

          See my note above to Ron.

        • CodyGirl824

          Ron, God gives the ancient Hebrews the Law (the Torah). One does not give law or laws to those who have no free will to either obey or disobey it. The term free will may not appear as a term or in these words, but the concept is fundamental to the understanding of God’s Convenant with the Hebrews (Israel) and their response to God.

        • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

          @CodyGirl824: I’m going to repost something I wrote on this on my own blog because I think it completely answers your statement.

          In “The Case for Christianity” C.S. Lewis wrote:

          “God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.

          “Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. (…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”

          Can you see the problem here? He says “God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way.” According to the Bible, there was no “if.” God purposed to send the redeemer before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:3-5 says:

          “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

          4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

          5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will… .”

          Christians who don’t believe that God predestined each individual who would be saved believe that this is saying simply that God knew people would sin so he predestined the method by which they would be redeemed, and it seems to me that the wording supports that view.

          Let’s dissect this: The definition of “sin” is simply doing one’s own will instead of God’s will. God cannot sin, by definition, because whatever he does is his own will. Without free will there is no sin, so when God gave the angels free will he created sin. He didn’t sin himself, because that is impossible by definition, but also by definition sin virtually came into existence the moment the option was opened up.

          The ironic thing here is that it says he predestined us to adoption according to the kind intention of His will. The “kind intention of his will” is that he was going to create a class of eternal beings, give them the ability to choose to follow their own will instead of his own, knowing full well that’s what the majority would do and that he would have no choice but to send them to Hell, which he created for the Devil and his angels (to whom he had also given free will, by the way), and he did it anyway! So according to the Bible God created two classes of eternal beings — angels and humans — and gave them the ability to sin. He apparently had better luck with the angels, since only a portion of them chose to do their own will (but without the avenue of redemption), whereas every last human ever born chooses to rebel against him. Does that definition of “kind” seem different than the one you normally use?

          This cannot be stated too strongly: According to the Bible God knew ahead of time that the majority of humans would wind up in that place that he supposedly didn’t intend them to be in.

          This discussion is not intended to say that God is evil or malicious or anything of the sort. This discussion is intended to make the reader realize that God is a not-well-thought-out concept of a god that obviously does not exist. And while C.S. Lewis wrote this in defense of Christianity, does he not himself sound full of doubt? It’s as if he’s saying “I don’t know why God created free will; it doesn’t seem to be a good thing, but he’s God so he must know what he’s doing.”

          There’s another quote that is relevant here, reputed to be by Epicurus. It presents something that through the ages has been referred to as “the problem of evil,” and it’s about as good of an argument against the existence of the god of the Bible as I’ve ever read:

          “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

          Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

          Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

          Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

          Why indeed? Why even think such a being exists?

        • CodyGirl824

          I disagree with the conclusions you draw from your analysis, but appreciate your posting the quote from C.S. Lewis. To me, the key idea here is love. Is God’s gift to us of life not love? Would humans be humans without love? So, yes, evil in the world, caused by humans who do not love as we should, is the “risk” that God takes. But how much risk does an omniscient, omnipotent, omni-benevolent really take? God also created us as creatures who can be reasoned with, who can learn, who can respond to His love. If evil really goes too far, it is human beings who will destroy ourselves. We are the ones put at risk by evil, not God.

        • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

          You’ve stated it very well. If this idea of God is real, then he has not taken any risk. He created souls and put them at risk, knowing full well that most would be lost. (Did you overlook that part about his planning to have to redeem the human race before the act of creation?) The idea is so impossible to fathom that somewhere around 200 BC the idea of Satan was added to explain evil. The Zoroastrians had a good god and an evil god. Satan takes the place of their evil god, except with the fatally flawed idea that he isn’t always existing, but rather, created by God, thus the problem of evil isn’t solved. Had they fully accepted the evil god concept instead of the Satan concept, perhaps the logic of Christianity would have worked a bit better.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are talking about ideas and concepts of/about and understandings of God, not about God. It is not an idea of God that is real. It is God that is real. The “Problem of Evil” is a human problem, not God’s. If our souls are at risk, it is not because God puts them at risk. It’s because we do.

        • MNb

          Yup – if something good happens, praise your god. If something bad happens, blame mankind.

        • JohnH2

          I really like Job 2:10 and Job 1:21.

        • MNb

          “Would humans be humans without love?”
          Are people like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ilse Koch not human? Or did your god fail once again, this time to “create” them with the capability to love their victims?
          Let me guess: you’re taking the common cop out again “if something good happens, praise my lord; if something bad happens, blame mankind”.

        • CodyGirl824

          Who am I to interfere with your dialogue with yourself?

        • MNb

          Someone who deludes herself.

        • JohnH2

          You have one messed up conception of what sin is.

        • Ron

          Sin: my imaginary friend hates your behavior as much as I do.

        • JohnH2

          Again, you have one messed up conception of what sin is.

          Sin is choosing that which one knows for themselves to be wrong over that which one knows for themselves to be right.

        • Ron

          Sin is a purely religious concept. It is defined as:

          – an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. (Oxford)

          – an offense against religious or moral law
          – transgression of the law of God (Merriam-Webster)

        • JohnH2

          Romans 2:15
          Deuteronomy 30:10-15

        • Ron

          “For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.” Hebrews 8:7

        • JohnH2

          Doesn’t negate the law being written in our hearts and everyone knowing good and evil themselves (see also the tree of knowledge of good and evil).

        • Kodie

          This is a fictional construct with a lot of ignorance and judgment about reality.

        • Ron

          The fact that the law had to be written down on stone tablets negates the claim that it’s written upon our hearts. Moreover, no one living outside of Palestine followed the Jewish code.

        • JohnH2

          I think you are misunderstanding what Paul is saying in Romans 2:14-15.

          The Jewish code is only sort of the the law that we are to follow and that is written in our hearts; Paul and Moses both make that clear.

        • Ron

          Paul doesn’t stipulate what laws the Gentiles were following. He more than likely meant rules against murder, theft and perjury, which are universal; as opposed to the first four commandments, which are not.

        • JohnH2

          That Paul doesn’t stipulate is precisely my point. The Gentiles in question were following the law written in their hearts, the way in which man is become as God, knowing good and evil.

        • Ron

          Except the laws the Gentiles were following could not have been the same commandments mentioned in Deuteronomy, because those were contained in a book of law given to the Israelites:

          “If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.”

        • JohnH2

          What part of Moses saying that they don’t need that don’t you get? Yes, the Jews need to follow the Law of Moses, but the real law is the one that one doesn’t have to go to heaven to get but is written in our hearts. The choice between good and evil are before each of us constantly and the Law of Moses reminds us of that and guides us to choose good as well as is a part of the covenant that the Jews have with God. To those of us who do not have the covenant that the Jews have, either having another or none, than we don’t follow the stipulation of the Law of Moses, but still have that same choice of good and evil placed before us constantly via that which is written in our hearts, not that which one must ascend to a mountain or to heaven to receive. We are all as God: knowing good and evil, and we all fall short of the glory of God as we all choose that which we ourselves know to be wrong, regardless of what anyone else says.

        • Ron

          And your source for this information is?

        • JohnH2

          What I referenced to you already, plus my obvious reference to Genesis and to the writings of Paul.

        • Ron

          Right, that’s my point. Ancient texts written by men with little to no scientific understanding of the universe they inhabited.

        • JohnH2

          Ron,
          We were discussing what the term ‘sin’ means and how you had a messed up conception of ‘sin’. You responded with ‘sin’ being a theological construct, so I responded in kind, via scriptures of theology in the Christian tradition because that is tradition in question. If you meant some other groups conception of divine law and etc. then you should have specified. Otherwise, your point is an admission that I was correct in my assertion of your messed up conception of sin per Christianity generally.

        • Kodie

          Quoting scripture to argue against the concept of “sin” being a theological concept?

        • JohnH2

          No, that Ron’s theological conception of sin was wrong.

        • CodyGirl824

          Are you familiar with the concept of the Noachide Law that applied to the gentiles? Look it up.

        • Ron

          Be fruitful and multiply, don’t eat meat with blood in it, and don’t shed the blood of others. (Genesis 9)

          What about it?

        • CodyGirl824

          What about it? Did you look up Noahide law, aka, the 7 laws of Noah?

        • CodyGirl824

          What? I hope you aren’t planning to go to law school.

        • Ron

          Which of the Ten Commandments are enshrined into law? I count only three: theft, murder and perjury. There are no laws against the other seven. In fact, American capitalism is premised on coveting your neighbor’s possessions.

          And how many non-believers (or even Christians) follow the Jewish dietary code?

        • CodyGirl824

          Where are you going with this? What I was noting is a misunderstanding of what it means for The Law to be “written upon our hearts.” Obedience of/to the Ten Commandments is the basis of the ancient Hebrews’ Covenant with YHWH. They believed that all humanity had/has the law written on our hearts and that there are righteous among all nations. I don’t get your point.

        • Kodie

          So what they believed it? Is it actually true? Do you look around you and see that this is something humanity has written on their hearts? It was carved into tablets in the story. If it were written on anyone’s hearts, Moses wouldn’t have to come down from the mountain with tablets to show them, would he?

        • CodyGirl824

          You are not convinced that our unalienable rights are endowed to us by God even though this is written in the Declaration of Independence. IOW, this is not written on your heart. The sacred tablets suffered much the same fate with the Hebrews.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, it was written by guys, may have even been believed by guys. What makes you think being written down has some correlation with what is actual? Our inalienable rights are certainly alienable, being as when the CONSTITUTION and the BILL of RIGHTS grant us these freedoms, it was another century or so before even most of us had the same rights, and we still all don’t. They certainly don’t come from god, they come from people standing up for themselves and asserting their equality when they are oppressed.

        • MNb

          Since when has your thoroughly American DoI any relevance to any non-American?

          “The sacred tablets suffered much the same fate with the Hebrews.”
          I agree. They are even more irrelevant to me as your DoI, because the USA is a superpower and the ancient Hebrew nation not.

        • Kodie

          You seem to think we all agree what’s wrong and what’s right? And that those who, in your opinion, choose to “sin” are doing what they know to be wrong. That’s where you misunderstand, where all you theists misunderstand, that we are not beholden to religious laws and are allowed to question whether or not they qualify as things that are right or wrong.

          This is where Ron’s definition is apt. Your imaginary friend makes these laws and you obey them. In the real world, there’s nothing wrong with a whole bunch of them, and nobody should feel bad for doing them.

        • JohnH2

          “You seem to think we all agree what’s wrong and what’s right? ”

          Obviously not; not everyone has the same knowledge or light and what is wrong from me may not in fact be wrong for you given what knowledge and covenants I have made compared to what you have.

        • Kodie

          Another bullshit answer. Your covenant is with yourself, the rest of us can know better than to promise not to do something there isn’t anything wrong with doing. We’re trying to live and do business in a rational world, not one where you consider “knowledge and light” something you have that others might not have. We are only unto ourselves, we have a social contract to not murder each other and steal from each other because of empathy.

        • MNb

          Knowledge implies objectivity. Morals are subjective.

        • MNb

          You better figure this out with CodyGirl. In the country where I live mormonism is fringe anyway, so for practical reasons I go with her definition. Moreover the way you define sin it becomes synonymous with wrongdoing, so your definition lacks distinguishing power. It hasn’t anything to do with any god anymore.

        • JohnH2

          Mormonism is fringe pretty much everywhere except in the state of Utah in the USA.

          My definition agrees with the Catholic definition of sin, as per the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

          Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”

          So yes, synonymous with wrongdoing. Why should it have anything to do with God per se? (Other than the obvious Catholic conception, but that is a different point).

        • MNb

          Because of “failure in genuine love for God”, in the very quote you provide.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why you think so, but the bargain is to have free will to choose to go to hell or take the safe route. That isn’t love. You make a lot of baseless assertions.

        • R Vogel

          …because to love is an act of free will.

          Besides admiring the beautiful circularity of the entire statement, the first question that pops into my head is ‘Says who?’

        • MNb

          “To go against God’s will and to disobey God’s loving laws is sin.”
          Which is why sin is a meaningless word to me. It saves me a lot of superfluous guilt and shame, I can assure you. Here, you have a solid original atheist testimony.

      • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

        I know there are many points of view when it comes to human nature, sin, atonement, etc., but the most prevalent view you have mentioned is of course the favourite one by most churches, as it is the best way to produce anxiety, sense of guilt and lack of self-confidence, so getting people under their “care”.
        What about your first question? Well, I really appreciate Kingasaurus’s answer (see below), and I would add that, even if “the Fall” can be seen as a metaphorical story, I still object to the underlying idea, which is the nostalgia for a supposed “perfect” condition humankind irresponsibly gave up.

        • R Vogel

          I completely agree with you. It is a valid criticism of the majority view, and the western church in particular found it to be quite useful especially when it got into bed with empire around 312 or so. I think you would find many objections similar to yours raised by a variety of non-mainstream christians, although I generally feel that they are too squishy when challenging the mainstream in general. They are still sucking at the teat of christian industrial complex and reticent to really shake things up. So they will likely die out along with their judgy brethren…I no longer consider this a saddening possibility.

      • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

        @R Vogel, “How would you respond to a christian who says that ‘the Fall’ isn’t an event, it is describing a certain facet of the human make-up couched in a metaphorical story?”

        Having been raised in a fundamentalist tradition, when I first came to accept that the first part of Genesis couldn’t be true, I did consider this liberal Christian view on the subject. Ultimately, the question I asked myself is the question I would ask the liberal Christian, and that is “at what point do the stories quit being metaphorical and begin being historical?” The entire thing is presented as fact. Genesis 3 is clearly mythology and could be considered a fable with a moral, but Genesis 1 and 2 purport to explain how we got here. If that really didn’t happen, then why am I to believe that God took Enoch? Why am I to believe that Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead, and was himself raised? At what point does it become real, and how do I even know that God is real based on the fables?

        • R Vogel

          Where, indeed? If I was discussing with a liberal christian I might ask exactly that. There seems to be quite a divergence of opinion on the matter. Perhaps none of it is true in the sense of what we would consider to be historical narrative, kind of like an Oliver Stone movie :). Depending on how you view it, that may not matter much. There are those who believe Jesus was an historical person, but that he was later mythologized. I don’t know that it matters much one way or the other. I am much more interested in the search for meaning that the scriptures represent, rather than events themselves. This is quite liberating in that I am free to read whatever I like from any tradition and find interesting things.

          I was also raised fundie: pentecostal, charismatic flavor (no snake handling, though). Glad to see you made it out too! Hopefully the damage wasn’t too deep – I myself am still dealing with the results 25 years hence…

        • Pofarmer

          the problem with the fall as either a metaphorical or a real event, is that is isn’t predictive. What would we expect the world to look like before the fall? Is there any evidence of that world? And wasn’t Jesus sacrifice supposed to atone for the fall? So, what changed after? Why don’t we have the world back from before the fall? The whole thing is a flimsy construct with no proof, and no predictive power. Modern psychology, sociology, and medicine have far surpassed this useless old doctrine. We have a good idea why things are the way they are, this doctrine doesn’t add, it takes away from human knowledge.

      • MNb

        “How would you respond …..”
        The Fall is a metaphor, the Resurrection is a metaphor, god is a metaphor.

        • R Vogel

          I find it a shame that certain breeds of christian, perhaps the majority in the US, are so offended by this idea. It closes off what I think could be very fruitful and interesting discussions about the possible meaning of the metaphor(s) rather than pointless spats over whether they are ‘real’ or not.

    • James Walker

      an honest Christian, confronted by a distressed person (a widower, a cancer survivor, etc.) would reply

      that’s a bit over broad. I, for one, would never respond that way. I don’t believe the story of “The Fall” in Genesis is in any way a literal depiction of events. I believe it’s a myth, told by the ancient Abrahamic peoples to help explain to themselves why the human condition seemed to be one of suffering and brutality.

      • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

        I was neither trying to say every Christian accepts a strictly literal view of Genesis (I know most of them don’t), nor accusing Christians of being inherently deceitful; I just wanted to say I can’t believe humans were once perfect and then “fallen” because of a conscious, vicious choice, and I also think it’s awful to blame NATURAL Evil (illness, biological death, etc.) on humans’ “sinfulness”.

        • James Walker

          Agreed

  • R Vogel

    Why amputees in question 1? Just curious. Also, isn’t 1, 2, and 4 sort of the same question asked in 3 different ways or am I missing some nuance?

    Regarding 3, how would you respond to someone who would agree that creation stories and magical gardens never happened and those who read the bible that way are bat-shit crazy?

    • Kingasaurus

      —-Why amputees in question 1?—-

      It’s a way to differentiate between types. Someone can just say ‘I used to have back pain and god made a miracle and now it’s gone!” But with an amputation, if your limb grows back there’s no mistaking that for anything other than what the miraculous claim would be (assuming you could verify it). It’s something obviously “miraculous” to outside, skeptical observers. And tellingly, it’s something that god never seems to bother to actually do. Even though, being omnipotent, all healings would be just as effortless to him as any other.

      As a skeptical visitor to Lourdes once said (noticing all the crutches that had been discarded by the “healed” and put on display):

      “All those crutches and braces, but not a single wooden leg, glass eye or toupee….”

      • CodyGirl824

        You have no evidence whatsoever that God has actually been asked through faithful prayer to grow back a severed limb and “never seemed to bother to actually do” it. So the whole premise of the question is false. You can’t ask the question “Why doesn’t God…” if you can’t say for sure that He doesn’t. Since you folks don’t believe that God can raise the man Jesus whose body was broken unto death from the grave into a totally healed body, then you don’t and won’t believe that God can heal amputees, so the question is simply silly.

        • Kingasaurus

          Put up or shut up.

        • CodyGirl824

          What? To whom is this message addressed?

        • Kingasaurus

          You

        • CodyGirl824

          Put up with what?

        • hector_jones

          LOL

        • Kingasaurus

          Show me some evidence that your invisible friend exists or does anything. It’s all in your head.

          So, not one person who lost a limb (or a severed spinal cord), in the entire history of the world, has never faithfully prayed to be restored? Not once ? EVER? Really?!?

          You’re embarrassing.

          It’s amazing the psychological knots people like you will tie yourselves into trying to rationalize things. The things you tell yourselves! It’s pathetic. Nothing but excuses. “It didn’t happen because nobody asked the right way (except they did) and god isn’t your trained monkey and he’s smarter than you and knows better so shut up.”

          Oo-fah.

        • JohnH2

          So you think God is a trained monkey?

        • Kingasaurus

          That what YOU think atheists want – for god to perform anything on demand. It’s a caricature and a straw man.

        • JohnH2

          Except, you appear to actually want God to perform on demand.

        • Kingasaurus

          I want actual evidence that it (which god, again?) exists and does anything at all, which would stand up to the criteria we would use for deciding if anything non-God was real.

          You want your invisible friend in a special box, completely safe from the same rules of inquiry governing everything else. I don’t play those games – sorry.

          You say there’s an all-powerful disembodied supreme intelligence that knows everything and can do anything, but is completely beyond verification, and looks completely made-up to anybody who doesn’t already buy into your story. Good luck with that.

        • JohnH2

          I actually don’t believe in a disembodied intelligence that is beyond verification; i would say that is a caricature or straw man but you being unfamiliar with me is a more likely excuse.

          I am a Mormon and am regularly telling people to read Moroni 10:3-5 and Alma 32 and do as they say in order to gain their own knowledge of God. Personal verification is the name of the game.

          Besides which I occasionally argue in terms of other evidences for the existence of God, but don’t feel those to actually matter. As with the Book of Mormon, if one knew that it were a true accurate account that alone would make no difference, no one believes in the Popal Vuh, even knowing that it is an accurate accounting and translation of the religious text of the Maya. You have before you the gathering of Israel into a state and the retaking of Jerusalem, fulfilling prophecies made thousands of years ago in detail; what exactly would convince you and why do you think that convincing is the desired outcome?

        • Kingasaurus

          Yeah, OK.

          At least most of your con is only 200 years old instead of 2000. I’m not arguing with someone who thinks Joseph Smith was anything but a charlatan and con man. It’s like arguing with Scientologists – it is (and has been) a waste of my time.

        • JohnH2

          You know you proved my point, right?

        • Kingasaurus

          Yup. Keep buying that snake oil, pardner.

        • hector_jones

          What point was that? The classic theist’s non-point that they win an argument because an atheist used a notty word?

        • JohnH2

          That actual verification of God is not what Kingasaurus is after.

        • Kingasaurus

          Sure I would be. If anyone could actually provide it. The ravings of Mr. Smith don’t qualify.

        • JohnH2

          Which is why I went with something found in Deuteronomy.

        • Kingasaurus

          Those ravings are just older, sir. No better attested. Sorry.

        • JohnH2

          That they are older is the point, don’t care about their attestation. Deuteronomy 28-30 talks about the scattering of Israel and their eventual gathering, and this well before they were ever scattered.

        • Kingasaurus

          —don’t care about their attestation.–

          That’s abundantly clear.

          Dueteronomy was forged anyway. Or do you actually think a lost book of the Law was miraculously “found” in Josiah’s Court just when it was needed? It was concocted.

          And self-fulfilling prophecies don’t count.

          Something tells me you’re a little less credulous when it comes to the prophetic and miraculous claims of religions not your own.

        • JohnH2

          Deuteronomy was probably from the Northern Kingdom and then edited by Josiah to fit his purposes. That still doesn’t change the prophecy, and furthermore you are attributing the Jews with having engineered their own scattering and the holocaust so you are less than believable in your claim that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          That Something is wrong.

        • Kingasaurus

          Nonsense. What was self-fulfilling was returning to Israel in ’48. Jewish persecution was nothing new. They didn’t “engineer their own Holocaust.” That’s just stupid.

          Such “prophecies” are no more impressive that the supposed OT prophecies that predict Jesus. the Jews don’t buy that for a reason. “Prophecy” doesn’t prove what you think it does.

          And let me know where those plates are, OK? And Joe’s magic hat.

        • JohnH2

          The hat isn’t magic, the stone in the hat would be what could be considered magic. It used to be in the Saint George Temple but I believe has been moved to the records vault. Given that each year we sustain our leaders as ‘Seers’ there are possibly other stones but you would have to ask one of the Apostles. The plates are with Moroni, again if you had the plates that wouldn’t substantially change the discussion as I noted with the Popal Vuh.

          I agree with the stupidy of your position regarding the prophecy.

        • Kingasaurus

          Whatever. Give me a ring when you get that planet.

        • hector_jones

          And neither are you. You are already happy with the fake verification of God.

        • JohnH2

          Neither of you have actually addressed what I said in the slightest.

        • hector_jones

          Why don’t you ask Cody or Karl to address it?

        • JohnH2

          That would be off topic of this thread, and blog; but I regularly do discuss such topics with Christians.

        • hector_jones

          Why is it off topic for them to address but you think you can demand that Kingasaurus and I have to address it?

        • JohnH2

          I can’t demand any such thing, but if you want to respond to what I say then you should address it. I am not currently saying anything to them in this thread and as far as the topic of the thread grows it appears we largely agree with each other; since I have said things that they may or may not agree with it would be up to them to call me on it here, not for me to force the issue when that isn’t the topic.

        • MNb

          Neither are you as long as you refuse to tell us how we can measure the mass and the size of your mormon god.

        • JohnH2

          As I already stated, that type of verification is irrelevant, though you could measure the mass of God by getting Him onto a scale and a tape measure would tell you His size. Knowing that He was God and that you should follow His commandments though is not something that a scale or tape measure would ever tell you, which is the verification that is relevant.

        • MNb

          Thanks for confirming that you are not any more after “actual verification of God” as Kingasaurus.

        • JohnH2

          How would the mass and size of God tell you anything actually useful or life changing about God? Say God hid His glory (as happened with say Abraham for example) and walked into your school asking to be weighed and measured, how would you determine that you were dealing with God? and how would having those weights and measures make you a better person?

        • MNb

          It would verify that your god is material, as you claim.

          “how would you determine that you were dealing with God?”
          That question if for you to answer, not for me.

          “how would having those weights and measures make you a better person?”
          Rather the opposite – from what I know about mormonism converting would make me an ethically worse person.

        • JohnH2

          “That question if for you to answer, not for me.”

          You are the one that wants to weigh Him, not me.

        • MNb

          You are the one who claims he is material and that mormonism is backed up by science (including physics), not me. That claim remains meaningless until you tell us how to measure his weight and volume.

        • MNb

          “I actually don’t believe in a disembodied intelligence that is beyond verification”
          I am still totally willing to verify the mass and the volume of your mormon god. Shall we?

        • CodyGirl824

          What makes you think that God is “safe from the same rules of inquiry governing everything else”? Which rules might those be?

        • Kodie

          How about stop lying and read the statement in context, if you can.

        • Compuholic

          Actually, yes I do. If god only performs when he wants to, his action will always look like random events and you have no way of telling the difference. And this means that Occams razor disposes god quite nicely.

        • JohnH2

          Random events are not a dismissal of God, saying so shows a lack of understanding of randomness.

        • Compuholic

          True it is not a dismissal. It only shows that god is unnecessary to explain the data. But it shows that you are simply making up your story as you go along because you could not possibly have any verification for your claims.

        • JohnH2

          Please say you are arguing for pure random events, that would be awesome and I would love to continue this conversation under the setting of an admission of pure random events.

          Otherwise every random event needs to have an explanation and you have presented less of one than saying ‘God did it’ (which itself is a non-answer)

        • Compuholic

          Maybe “pure random events” or the “explanation of a random event” are meaningful concepts in philosophy. Mathematically they are incoherent babble.

          Please define the terms and show me how you distinguish between “god acting whenever he wants” and those random events (whatever it is you mean by that)

        • JohnH2

          If you are going with a philosophically random event then you are talking about something that is irreducibly random, unless you are slipping physics in, in which case you mean a event whose variables haven’t all been accounted for such that it gives the appearance of randomness but that, as a matter of faith, were all variables to be accounted for down to the point at which further information is useless for the process in question then the event would be deterministic.

          So you are referring to non-determinism, which is really quite incredible for an atheist to suggest is actually the case (even with Quantum Mechanics). So all arguments that we don’t have free will go right out the window, as well as the non-action of God, as you are admitting that particles, or events, or people (and any one of those pretty much of necessity leads to the others), act in ways that are inherently unpredictable, even if the distribution can be modeled, as statistics was developed to account for free will. At which point whether it is the free will of the particles and actors or God Himself acting becomes the debate.

        • Kodie

          Wow, this is so convoluted!

        • MNb

          Why is non-determinism – ie acausality and probabilism – “really quite incredible for an atheist to suggest”? It’s what me turned me from an agnost into an atheist in the first place and it’s the main reason why about 80% of all physicists are atheists.

        • JohnH2

          Why did it turn you from an agnost to an atheist?

          In speaking with scientists that are atheists non-determinism is something they want to avoid as it brings in free will and says that somethings are inherently unknowable, and was not what caused them to be atheists.

        • MNb

          Your sucking this out of your thumb. Go read the Wikipedia page on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Relation to begin. Then proceed with Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, chapter 4.

          “Why did it turn you from an agnost to an atheist?”
          Because any single god I met until then – all christian versions – were causal, so I had to choose.
          Btw I don’t have any problem with free will; it’s something science has to decide, specifically neurobiology.

        • JohnH2

          Is my God not Christian?

          I have read, and own, A Brief History of Time.

        • MNb

          Whether your god is christian or not is your problem, not mine; it’s irrelevant for my previous comment.

          Go read chapter 4 again. Hawking explains how QM challenges determinism. In addition: with the exception of Relativity all Modern Physics is non-deterministic.

        • JohnH2

          You say you met all Christian versions of God, leaving me with the implication that mine is not; unless I am misunderstanding what you are saying.

          I realize that all of physics is non-deterministic, which is why it always surprises me to have atheist scientists argue in favor of determinism and against free will, and that God can’t exist due to physics. The very non-determinism itself calls into question reductive materialism, which is what many to most atheist scientists favor.

          Having inherent ‘choice’ as to outcomes, as in for instance nuclear decay suggests free will to me (and fits with my faith, which being from the 1830’s is prior to non-deterministic physics); at the very least though it leaves a huge hole in which God can act; and God being an Omniscient being should really only have to influence in a minor way in order to obtain desired results.

        • hector_jones

          Once again, why don’t you ask Cody or Karl?

        • CodyGirl824

          Exactly, Kingasaurus. You’re getting it now.

        • Kingasaurus

          OH, don’t worry. I have you all figured out.

        • CodyGirl824

          I believe that God is whatever caused the Big Bang. That is what I speak of as God, the Creator of everything. Now tell me, is the Big Bang and the entirety of the universe all in my head? The problem that atheists have is that you reject your own silly ideas about God, as do I. But your silly ideas about God are not God.

        • Kingasaurus

          —I believe that God is whatever caused the Big Bang.—

          A placeholder for something you don’t know. Got it.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah it’s just god of the gaps. She’s had this pointed out to her repeatedly, but there it is again.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, hector. To say that I believe that God is whatever caused the Big Bang is not the god of the gaps. It is to point out what science tells us about the origins of the universe and that the universe began to exist with the Big Bang. The Big Bang’s cause is what I am talking about when I use the name God. There exists a gap in our human knowledge about what caused the Big Bang, but to call that cause God is simply a use of language to convey meaning.

        • Kodie

          It is considering a “what” a “who” with no reason or excuse. I have asked you a few times and you ignore ignore ignore. You randomly associate whatever (by considering it a whoever) caused the big bang with the god of the bible, who is a “who” not a what, and makes rules and demands and has a behavior that you personally have made excuses for.

          That is not “simply language to convey meaning”. That’s a leap to a conclusion, begging the question, presupposition. How about you stop lying and stop pretending we don’t notice you’re doing it.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Kodie, it is deification of the natural phenomena that created everything that exists in the universe. It’s simply giving the name “God” to the cause of all existence. As I explained before, “who” is a pronoun that signals anthropomorphism in reference to the natural phenomena that created the existing universe.

        • Kodie

          No, Jenna, you speak of both things as god. You are not merely conveying in “language” (why “god” language and not science language that means something to everyone?) if you are also asserting elsewhere that this god IS a who, HAS personal qualities of behavior and reasons that only you can deduce by tuning in you radio to listen? Explain how you get from the WHAT you are describing to the WHO you’ve also been describing. Stop being such so intellectually dishonest for a change and answer that question. It shouldn’t be a hard question, and yet I’ve asked it a handful of times and you speak only half of it.

        • CodyGirl824

          I believe that the cause of the Big Bang, the Creator has an on-going and eternal relationship with each and every one of us. When you talk about God’s “personal qualities,” this is anthropomorphism. We have characteristics that are a reflection of God, not the other way around. The way we express this in the Judeo-Christian tradition is found in Genesis 1:27: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

        • Kodie

          So the bible says god has personal characteristics, not me, you and the bible. How do you reach the conclusion that the what is this who? And why do you continue to back out of the questioning by accusing me of anthropomorphizing a character because you describe him with personal characteristics? Why do you continue to back out of questioning that this is simply you using “language” to convey a meaning? We already have language that conveys the same meaning, only we don’t attribute personal qualities to it, the jealousy, wants, whims, rules, judgments, abilities, creativity, concern with the fate of my soul (another word we don’t need), love, reasons, and furthermore “relationship”. If you’re not describing a being with personal qualities then you are making a lot of literal assertions regarding this metaphor.

          Please address this and don’t be a liar this time.

        • CodyGirl824

          I really don’t get what you’re driving at and why you seem to be so upset about this. Again, when we talk about God using terms that we use in our language to talk about persons, that is anthropomorphism: I have nothing against anthropomorphism. It is necessary for us to use such terms (metaphors) for talking about the Creator because of the limitations of human language in representing our concepts and understanding of what we give the name “God” to. I have not “reached a conclusion” about anything. I/we merely give a name to a reality. Is it that you think we should call God “Fred” instead of using the name, term, label, word “God”? Is that your problem?

        • Kodie

          I don’t understand what limitations you think the language has that you have to invent a story to understand it, when what it really seems to be doing is obstructing your ability to understand reality. Metaphors can be helpful, but it’s obvious you do not consider it to be a metaphor. You think a creator with a capital C has personal qualities, behaviors, and intentions and is not just language. You are lying or you are even more confused than any of us ever thought, and a lot of that could be cleared up if you would only speak in normal language that the rest of us can use. Perhaps you really are so stupid that you need a child’s fairy tale to understand and cope, but the rest of us do not need to add that construct, metaphor or no. You have demonstrated that having your beliefs steers you wrong and stupid, so none of us can see the value in having them. If it’s just metaphor, a lot of your posts don’t make any sense, because your assertions seem to take this story literally. So I think you are lying or extremely confused why nobody can understand what your monotheism deifies. I think you have brain damage, actually.

        • MNb

          “It is to point out what science tells us about the origins of the universe ”
          Modern Physics tells us that the origin of the Universe is non-causal. Exit god.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, modern physics does not tell us that the universe has no cause. Modern physics may not have explained the cause, but it does not and cannot say that there is none. Please cite your source if you claim that there is even one physicist or cosmologist who proposes a “non-causal” theory of the Big Bang.

        • Pofarmer

          Laurence Krause, Sean Carrol? Whoops, that’s two.

        • CodyGirl824

          So, you mean to tell us that there are some physicists who claim that everything that exists in the universe has a cause expect the universe itself?

          I found this website that says that Sean Carroll’s theory is that the Big Bang was caused by gravitational waves. As far as I can tell, physicists believe that gravitational waves are caused. So cross him off the list of “non-caused universe” theorists.

          http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/17/tech/innovation/big-bang-gravitational-waves/index.html

          I’m still looking into Laurence Krause. A specific study or article in a peer reviewed scientific journal would facilitate my search. Please post one.

        • hector_jones

          You couldn’t possibly understand an article by Krause in a peer reviewed scientific journal. Just start with Google for now.

        • CodyGirl824

          How presumptuous of you to suggest this! Just send a citation without the editorial comment.

          What I note so far is that Krause attempts to theologize by saying that everything came about “by natural causes.” This does not eliminate God since God is totally natural. He’s like many other physicists who are brilliant physicists but lousy theologians.

        • Kodie

          It would be only be presumptuous if we just met you.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah remember the recent Sean Carroll thread? It was clear from her comments that Jenna hadn’t even viewed the video that was the subject of that thread, let alone understood what Carroll had to say. But it’s presumptuous of me to suggest she couldn’t understand a peer reviewed scientific paper by Lawrence Krause! I don’t think I could understand a peer reviewed paper by Lawrence Krause. But Jenna’s going to read one and school us all about Krause’s failure to understand what monotheism deifies. Too damn funny.

        • hector_jones

          Oh do you subscribe to a service that gives you access to these journals?

          A brilliant physicist but a lousy theologian! Damn that’s hilarious. I doubt there’s a single physicist alive who would consider that anything but a compliment. It’s like calling an MD a brilliant surgeon but a lousy homeopath. OUCH!

        • CodyGirl824

          There is no problem unless such physicists pretend to do theology. Victor Stenger is the most egregious example, but Stephen Hawkings is the first runner-up.

        • Kodie

          Why do theologists think they can do physics?

        • CodyGirl824

          Of whom do you speak? There are some physicist who do theology and there are theologians (not theologists) who are very knowledgeable about physics but are not physicists. Here are my favorite books on the topic:

          Stephen Barr (2003). Modern physics and ancient faith. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

          Robert Spitzer (2010). New proofs for the existence of God: Contributions of contemporary physics and philosophy.

        • Kodie

          I don’t care what your favorite book on the subject is. What’s at issue here is your aversion to physicists pretending to do theology, as you put it, when theology is horseshit and mangles physics and cosmology (and biology and history) to serve itself. From a position of theology, you get a lot wrong about physics once you warped it through your theological implications machine. I don’t know how else to tell you, but you are wrong a lot and your beliefs steer you wrong. Theology is not a vital subject used to understand anything. It does not provide any useful language to convey meaning to any subject. It’s unnecessary in a conversation about physics to even let theology weigh in, in order to understand the subject. Way back, Mnb made a statement on the debate between Carroll and Craig and said “theology shouldn’t even get into physics,” and you said “I AGREE THAT physics ought to stay out of theology.”

          You still don’t know the difference between those two statements, and why there is no agreement between them. You did not agree, you said the reverse. You misquoted Mnb to make your own remarks and when it was pointed out to you, shown to you, diagrammed for you, you’re stupid pointy little head got all disturbed and you walked away. You are doing it again and that’s why we say you’re dishonest.

        • CodyGirl824

          Ah, but you are forgetting: The theological implications of science. Physics is physics and theology is theology, but nothing prevents theologians from discussing the theological implications of physics.

          If you want to know my opinion of Victor Stenger’s work, you can find my critique of his book: “The God Hypothesis” up on amazon.com.

        • Kodie

          I am not forgetting it, it is easily ignored and we still get by.

        • CodyGirl824

          Of course, you can get by and never give the theological implications of science even a fleeting thought. But of course, this means that you are ill prepared to enter into a theological debate about the origins and Creator of the universe.

        • Kodie

          Why is that something you imagine I would want to do?

        • hector_jones

          There is no one doing theology who isn’t pretending.

        • MNb

          The question if the Big Bang is a causal or a probabilistic event does not belong to the domain of theology. It’s exactly the opposite. Any believer, theologian or not, who claims that “God is whatever caused the Big Bang” makes a claim that totally belongs to physics. Because of the word “caused”.

        • hector_jones

          Jenna, imagine if we were having a debate about how planes fly, then you ask me where you can rent a Boeing 747 because you want to take it out for a spin and prove me wrong. That’s how far out of your league your request for a paper by Krause is. Seriously, I’m not saying this just to mock you, although you are being ridiculous.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, this is a type of snobbery that I have very little patience with. If you cannot or will not cite an article that Krause has published in a peer reviewed scientific journal because you think I’m not smart enough or knowledgeable enough to understand it, you are doing either one of two things: begging the question because you don’t have a citation or talking down to me without knowing my qualifications to understand research and its implications, whether or not I can understand every scientific detail in an article. I am interested in research methodology and conclusions drawn from the data, since these are novel theories in the field of physics. Just get off your high horse and send a citation for an article! Or not.

        • hector_jones

          I think it would be a complete waste of your time and mine to cite a peer reviewed article from a scientific journal by Lawrence Krause for you. I guess that makes me a snob in your book. Deal with it.

          You are interested in his research methodology and conclusions drawn from the data are you? Stop it, Jenna, you are killing me! (I wish MNb were here right now to see these particular comments from you. He’d bust a gut laughing at them.)

        • Kodie

          Your qualifications are all your posts where you don’t understand much simpler things.

        • MNb

          You don’t even understand that (good) article by Elizabeth Landau you linked to above and it’s an enormous simplification.
          You don’t need to be a theologian to postulate that the Big Bang is a probabilistic and not a causal event. You only need to understand that every single theologian understands god as causal, which is contradictory, which means exit god.
          Remember Einstein? Remember that he wrote: “God doesn’t play dice”? Sorry for Einstein (not so much for you) but the Universe totally does play dice.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector and Pofarmer,

          This is what Laurence Krause himself has to say:

          http://www.npr.org/2012/01/13/145175263/lawrence-krauss-on-a-universe-from-nothing

          “So it could be that the question what happened before the big bang is not even a good question, because before it had no meaning.”

          “It’s not necessarily the case because we really don’t know. We are at the limits of our knowledge. And I guess that’s something I want to stress for people who think, you know, I don’t want to claim that we know the universe came from nothing. What is amazing is that we can see plausible mechanisms by which that happened. And I find that development truly astounding, and remarkable and worth celebrating.”

          So, we can conclude, as Dr. Krause says, that both time and meaning began with the Big Bang, which could have been created ex nihilo. The Creator ex nihilo, whatever it is, is what we Jews, Christians and Muslims call “God”

        • hector_jones

          Krause never mentions a creator. You fail this physics exam, Jenna. Sorry.

        • CodyGirl824

          Of course not. He’s a physicist, not a theologian. But nothing prohibits us theology fans from talking about the theological implications of cosmology.

        • Kodie

          That’s theologists pretending to be physicists, and it’s egregious!

        • CodyGirl824

          When has a theologian pretended to be a physicist? Please be specific. This global out-range doesn’t cut it. I named names, so should you.

        • Kodie

          Anyone who makes theological implications from science is dabbling and miseducating you in the process. I don’t have to name names, Jenna Black – pick any author you’ve shilled in the past several weeks, and they are pretending to be an expert in a field they’re grossly distorting.

        • hector_jones

          A better question is when has a theologian not pretended to be a physicist?

        • hector_jones

          You say I’m presumptuous for telling you you couldn’t comprehend a peer reviewed paper by Lawrence Krause, then moments later you prove me right by showing you can’t even comprehend an interview he gave to NPR. Congratulations, Jenna.

        • CodyGirl824

          What is it that I didn’t understand about LK’s interview. I quoted his words directly and verbatim, and then commented on his ideas. If you want to “correct” my interpretation or disagree with my interpretation, be specific.

        • Kodie

          Can you ever comment on a subject without adding new information that’s fictional and not in the article? Because your comments aren’t interesting if you’re going to do that and no indication that you’re capable of understanding it.

        • hector_jones

          You gotta admit that her comments here are some of the most hilarious, and that makes them interesting. I don’t think I’m going to be able to fall asleep tonight because I can’t stop laughing at her demand that we cite a peer reviewed paper by Lawrence Krause for her.

        • Kodie

          She can’t even read a short passage without implicating it theologically, that was her whole take on it.

        • hector_jones

          She could be a case study for research on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. She hasn’t got a clue just how preposterous and out of her league her request for a ‘peer reviewed paper from a scientific journal’ by Lawrence Krause really is. I’m still laughing.

        • Kodie

          I notice you personified this event again.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Kodie. I deified it.

        • Kodie

          Why? Because you don’t really comprehend a universe with no god? Why do you presume to think we can’t?

        • Pofarmer

          Dr. krause has a two part video on youtube entitled “a universe from nothing”. It is even linked on the main Atheist page on Patheos. Now, why don’t you go over to Sean Carrols blog, “preposterous universe” and let him know that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he says there is no need for a cause or a creator, and, btw, we do have a ready example of uncaused phoenomenan, radioactive decay.

        • hector_jones

          The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the name I give to that which causes radioactive decay. Your problem is you fail to consider what it is that Monotheism pastafies.

        • MNb

          “Sean Carroll’s theory is that the Big Bang was caused by gravitational waves.”
          No my dear Cody, that’s not what SC writes. It’s what you think SC writes. What SC writes – and what the article is about – is this. Gravitational waves are a probabilistic concept. That’s because they are offspring from Quantum Mechanics. The core of QM is Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Relation (together with Schrödinger’s equations), which essentially says that the basic principle of our Universe is chance (more precise: probability).
          The gravitational waves the article you linked to talks about are described by functions like these:

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

          One relevant quote:

          “a real number interpreted as the probability density of finding a particle in a given place at a given time”

          So when that article writes

          “Scientists believe that in the fabric of space-time, there are tiny ripples called quantum fluctuations.”
          this means rolling dice, not causation. What fluctuates is the above mentioned probability density.
          I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure Lawrence Krauss talks about this as well. You can find yourself some physicists who hold on to causality (for instance Gerard ‘t Hooft and Mark Perakh), but they all will admit that they are just speculating. They don’t have a causal theory that can replace Quantum Mechanics. So this

          “modern physics does not tell us that the universe has no cause”
          is flatout wrong. In Modern Physics there are several models describing the Big Bang. All but one are probabilistic. The one that isn’t (derived from Relativity by Alexander Friedmann and Georges Lemaitre) is dismissed because it doesn’t take into account that an incredibly short time after the Big Bang the Universe was so small that Quantum Mechanics hence probability applies.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          CodyGirl thinks she understands physics. See underneath.

        • hector_jones

          😀

        • Ron

          So which god is it that you believe in: an impersonal creator of the universe, or a personal god that concerns itself with human affairs? You seem to keep switching back and forth between deism and theism as the mood suits you.

        • CodyGirl824

          You have injected anthropomorphism into the conversation, not I.

        • hector_jones

          You inject anthropomorphism into the conversation every time you mention Jesus.

        • Ron

          Has she ever stated what denomination she follows? Unitarian, perhaps? Though, quite honestly, she strikes me as your standard cafeteria Christian.

        • hector_jones

          Episcopalian

        • CodyGirl824

          No, you do not understand the meaning of the term anthropomorphism. Jesus was a man, a human being. One cannot anthropomorphize a human being.That is a misapplication of the concept. We can (and do) deify Jesus but we cannot anthropomorphize him.

        • hector_jones

          So you don’t accept the trinity any more? Good for you, Jenna. That’s progress.

        • Kodie

          That’s a lie, you’re a liar. Monotheism deifies “whatever caused the big bang” and “loves us” and “if you don’t know what love is, you’re not a human being”.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie, Ron presented a dichotomous choice: “an impersonal creator of the universe” or “a personal god that concerns itself with human affairs.” Impersonal vs. personal in reference to God is anthropomorphism. These are his terms, not mine.

          Yes, love is an act of free will. Yes, I believe that God has free will.

        • Kodie

          Your answer is evasive nonsense. Please look it over and stop using your script.

        • Kodie

          You are trying to sneak this bullshit in when you change a what to a who and don’t think we’ll notice. What is the basis of your assertion that the ‘what’ is a ‘who’?

        • MNb

          The Big Bang is not a causal event according to modern physics. You’re antiscientific once again.
          The problem for you is that your ideas about your god you claim not to be silly are equaly silly.

        • Ron

          I’m still waiting for you to introduce me to this physically resurrected man named Jesus.

          Have you arranged that meeting for me yet?

        • Pofarmer

          “Since you folks don’t believe that God can raise the man Jesus whose
          body was broken unto death from the grave into a totally healed body,”

          So, basically, we’re sane and rational?

        • R Vogel

          Generally the burden of proof would rest with the person making the miraculous claim. If I claim that there is a 6ft invisible rabbit following me around and you indicate skepticism, I cannot turn it on you and make you prove there isn’t…

        • CodyGirl824

          Well, if you ever run across anyone who claims that his/her amputated limb miraculously grew back as a result of fervent and faithful prayer, I most certainly would expect you to check it out thoroughly.

        • Kodie

          If you ever run across anyone who claims that his/her amputated limb miraculously grew back as a result of fervent and faithful prayer, I most certainly expect you to unquestioningly believe it.

        • R Vogel

          I sure would and I imagine I wouldn’t be the only one. Sadly, I can think of no one who has…curious that. Which seems to be exactly Bob’s point, eh? (admittedly I missed it a first too)

        • CodyGirl824

          Which is exactly why God would never impose such a miracle on a person without his/her prior consent and full cooperation.

        • Kodie

          Oh, is that how it really works? Not a metaphor?

        • R Vogel

          Whaaaa? Did some say something about drive by divine healing? What does consent have to do with anything?

        • CodyGirl824

          I hope you’re not asking because you don’t know the difference between rape and consensual sex.

        • Kodie

          What does rape have to do with it? You asserted without basis that god does not heal people without their consent, and yet, people who don’t pray for god to heal them also get spontaneous remission or cure of their illness, not to mention the many other things attributed to god’s will that he allegedly inflicts upon people without their consent. I’m sure there are plenty of parents praying for god to give their child cancer and die so he can answer them in the affirmative. But god would never impose healing on someone? The claims you make for god’s character are utterly baseless in addition to being contradictory and describe the character of basically a dick – who would not give people more than he thought they could handle, and to leave them with that for an excuse, but not surprise them with a spontaneous healing they didn’t ask for specifically?

        • R Vogel

          Are you drinking?

        • hector_jones

          Really? Does God impose the miracle of life on us with our consent and cooperation? Because I don’t recall being asked.

        • CodyGirl824

          You have the free will to end your own life if you so choose. And you realize that you are committing the fallacy of equivocation. Although I consider life to be a gift from God, this is not what this thread is about in terms of our use of the word “miracle.” Are you now acknowledging that life is God-given? How do you know that your soul did not gives its consent to be born into your body?

        • Kodie

          Jesus F. Christ, you moron. You were asked a question and you gave another bullshit excuse for god’s personal qualities, behaviors and intentions. This is not that, it’s classified as something else entirely and we’re not talking about that right now because it obviously breaks the rules I just asserted without basis. You expect us to understand any of this and take you seriously? Nobody is acknowledging your baseless assertion, we are asking you how come this isn’t that, how come you just made a rule for god and then pointed out to you that god apparently disobeys his own rules that you just made up. Souls are fiction and another baseless assertion, and your new made-up answer about souls consenting to be born in someone’s body, and how would we know?

          Let me ask you this since you brought it up – if I did have a soul, wouldn’t I fucking know if MY OWN FUCKING SOUL CONSENTED TO BEING BORN IN MY BODY? How would you know that your soul did not give consent – my but you are an illogical and ignorant moron.

        • hector_jones

          So you don’t think that life is a miracle from God? So you believe in abiogenesis now? Interesting.

          I also have the free will to cut off my own arm if I choose. So why doesn’t God just grow limbs back for people without asking? If they don’t like it, they can stick it back in the corn thresher and be an amputee again.

        • johzek

          If you hadn’t noticed, the question “Why doesn’t God heal amputees” is meant for the believer to answer. It is rather disingenuous of you to require an atheist to come up with reasons for why amputees are in fact not healed. It is even more ludicrous to suggest that we need to assume your superstitious belief is true and come up with an answer before the question can even be asked.

        • CodyGirl824

          I’m not asking any atheist to answer this silly question but please note, if you ask someone to tell you what God does or doesn’t do and why, you must realize that the question assumes that God exists and that Christians know everything about what God does and doesn’t do and God’s reasons. IOW, you are asking a Christian to read God’s mind and to be omniscient him/herself so as to know the entire history of God’s actions in relation to the entirety of humankind. This is asking quite a bit of an ordinary believer, don’t you think? And for what purpose? (A question I posed at the beginning of this thread that has not been answered.)

        • Kodie

          Maybe someone will be honest for once.

        • hector_jones

          Uh oh, Jenna. Johzek is on to you.

        • Greg G.

          These questions don’t have to be answered to us but you should have an answer for them. They follow basic logic. If A, then B. But logic can turn that around so that not B implies not A. So A would be “there exists an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent being who could produce any number of miracles perpetually to prevent all suffering” and B is “there exists an absence of suffering”. Since there is suffering, we have not B which means we have not A, there is No omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent being who could produce any number of miracles perpetually to prevent all suffering.
          If you can’t answer the question, you should stop wasting your time or just becoem a Satanist.

      • R Vogel

        Ahh, that make sense, yes. It would be kind of hard to argue with a spontaneously regenerated limb. I wasn’t thinking of it from the verifiability angle as much from the healing angle. Thanks

        • Kingasaurus

          Sure. The idea also is that it’s a data point in favor of atheism and naturalism. When god supposedly does miraculous healings, but never manages to “heal” anything that human cells or human medical treatments are 100% incapable of doing, that’s a strong hint that something’s wrong with your intervening-god idea.

          The far more likely hypothesis is that god is imaginary (or 100% inactive, which for practical purposes is the same thing), and all “healings” attributed to him have other causes, and can be chalked up to the way our own bodies combat diseases or the way human medical treatments work. If you have a 1% chance of surviving a particular form of cancer, and you survive it, it’s not a “miracle” from god – even if you mistakenly think it is. You just beat the odds, and 99 other people who had that same cancer died.

          If there was an all-powerful god and he intervened the way most believers claim he sometimes does, then regrowing a limb (or restoring a quadraplegic to full health) is just as easy for him as shrinking a tumor. But the regenerated limb never happens, and claims that it happens are extremely rare and never achieve anything better than urban-legend status. Therefore, shrunken tumors (an example of something that actually DOES happen) that are attributed to god, are much more likely to have other causes.

          All this stuff should be an enormous red flag to anyone who is even remotely skeptical. Unfortunately, many people just aren’t, and the excuses believers give as to why their invisble friend never does any of these things is very telling.

  • JohnH2

    1.) I imagine that in the future amputees will be healed. Technology on that subject is improving rapidly. Also, every amputee is already promised to be healed in the resurrection.

    2.) Starving people in the world today is primarily due to misallocation of resources (assuming starving people not starving is the desirable outcome). From God’s point of view there is no saving someone from dying, that doesn’t even make sense. Everyone everywhere dies, and death is not the end; if the plea is to relieve the starving suffering or even to save them then death is, for God, at least, as good an answer as sending manna from heaven.

    3.Because the Bible was written by a pre-scientific people with a wide variety of agendas but it still contains the silver thread of God’s interactions with man.

    4 and 5. Faith must be tried by fire as gold is if we are to receive the appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this life choosing what is good often does and can appear to be useless, or worse, as in MLK died for what he knew to be good, for example. The choice to ascend the mountain must be freely made because it is the right thing to do, despite everything else and not because of it.

    • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

      Perhaps your response is sarcasm… it’s a bit hard to tell. It does look suspiciously like a Christian answer.

      I think your answer to the first question best illustrates the failure of the Christian apologetic.

      “1.) I imagine that in the future amputees will be healed. Technology on that subject is improving rapidly.”

      James 5: 14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

      What’s interesting is that God used to be really terrible at keeping that promise. For over 1800 years following, he just had a terrible time with it. Then he began to get better. In the last 50 years he’s learned a lot about healing heart disease and cancer, and he’s now learning to grow new organs, though he hasn’t gotten into the practice of putting them in humans yet. But you’re right, technology, er, I mean, God is improving rapidly on that subject. It’s a shame that the promise made two millennia ago is only now being honored by him. I guess he over-estimated is ability.

      • JohnH2

        Not sarcasm at all.

        ‘saving the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up’ – There are better verses than that because despite what you think, that doesn’t actually imply healing from illness but rather being saved with God and raised up at the last day (hence why the sins are mentioned).

        • Pofarmer

          wait for it, wait for it.

  • Ron

    Re: Why won’t God heal amputees?

    Perhaps the more pertinent question is why God didn’t just create humans with the same body part regeneration capabilities already possessed by lizards, sharks, flat worms, zebrafish. starfish, sponges, and Mexican Axolotls?

    • hector_jones

      Because then he would deprive himself of the chance to show us compassion when we lose a limb. And compassion doesn’t mean regrowing the limb, it means something totally unspecified.

      • Ron

        ….like finding an accessible handicapped spot near the front entrance of the supermarket. :)

        • CodyGirl824

          Do you realize how offensive this mockery of people who suffer from handicaps is? Do you think that handicapped people like being the butt of your ridicule? What other minority groups do you feel free to ridicule like this? I so wish that atheists could reflect on how hurtful and demeaning these images are for real people with real feelings.

        • MNb

          Do you realize how arrogant you are wanting to decide this for say a handicapped atheist? Especially as not the handicapped people are the butt of this ridicule, but your god?

        • CodyGirl824

          No minority group is safe when it comes to who atheists want to use to ridicule God.

        • Kodie

          I think you’re having a knee-jerk reaction.

        • jumbybird

          I think you should listen to the original video to see why amputees were chosen.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah stop ridiculing God! Who else is gonna provide a parking space for you if you become handicapped, right Jenna?

        • Kodie

          How is this offensive? God can’t heal amputees but he shows compassion by legally required special parking spots. That’s the way god works. If it’s offensive it’s because god is offensive.

  • Trent Horn

    If it’s fair for an atheist to answer questions like “Why is there a universe instead of nothing at all” with “I don’t know, but that doesn’t prove God exists or that there is no natural explanation,” then wouldn’t it be fair for a theist to answer questions like “Why is there X kind of evil?” with “I don’t know, but that doesn’t prove atheism is true or that God doesn’t have good reasons to allow evil?”

    Of course, one could say evil by it’s nature disproves God, but then an argument is needed just as an argument for a contingent or finite universe is needed to prove God exists. In each case a question begins the discussion, but doesn’t end it.

    • MNb

      “then wouldn’t it be fair for a theist …..”
      I can’t speak for other atheists, but to me this answer is totally fair. This means that the theist admits his/her belief system isn’t rational or reasonable, but just based on faith despite certain observations. Moreover for a christian it means admitting that christianity doesn’t provide the comfort to suffering people it promises to provide. Many theists are not ready to admit this, but indeed there are a few who do. I fully respect them.
      Btw I would argue that evil by its nature makes a benevolent etc. god unlikely. I don’t think the problem of evil worries any polytheist.

    • Greg G.

      David Hume quotes Epicurus from about 25 centuries ago thusly:

      “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”

      I think there is another line that asks “Why call him God?”

      The existence of evil proves that there is no omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being. Why believe in a god that obviously doesn’t exist? It is a legitimate question for believers.

  • The Man With The Name Too Long

    Sorry about the massive wall of text.

    1) I think the bigger problem is that God does not consistently fulfill prayers if he does at all (this includes those who “deserve” it). Imagine if a relative of yours was a doctor but gets diagnosed with cancer. They pray with all their heart to God to be cured so they can continue to help other people but they die anyway. And in the next hospital room, a convicted murderer prays to God to be cured from cancer and their cancer remits. That’s a tougher question because God is indirectly denying other people potentially life-saving help by letting the doctor die.

    2) Believe it or not, I’m actually with Karl on this one. We have enough food to feed everyone but we’re just not sharing it enough. Granted, God could just multiply the already existing food like Jesus does with the bread but chooses not to, so this point is relevant to the first.

    3) It depends on whether the the so-called scientific verses are meant to be literally true but aren’t. Since we can’t decide what the original authors intended (I mean, you can’t decide what the author meant, only the author can do that), and we don’t know if the authors literally meant them, I guess I have to pass on this one.

    4) Refer back to one. Of course, you could go with the “life is a test” but that flies in the face of people who are straight up criminals who never get their come-uppance nor seriously suffer while devoutly religious people get horrifyingly debilitating diseases. Unless you fall back on, “they’ll get what’s coming to them in the afterlife” which has a whole bunch of its own problems that I don’t have room for in this post to discuss.

    5) One could simply lower their standards for what it means for Jesus to “appear” to them. “I prayed to Jesus and I felt something tingly in my spine!” Correlation does not equal causation is something very important to remember when talking about the supposed presence or actions of supernatural beings (or in the case of Jesus, a person performing a supernatural action). This also has to do with bias, as seeing Jesus (that is white Jesus of course) in a dream is seen as more meaningful somehow than seeing King Kong in a dream, because we are conditioned to believe that seeing Jesus in a dream has some important meaning. But Jesus is just as much a cultural meme as King Kong is, despite how you feel about either one.

    • MNb

      I agree that the questions are not very good. I think they can be improved though; both above and underneath (after a lot of scrolling) you can find them.

  • MNb

    As three of the questions are related to the Problem of Evil we should not be surprised that the most common answer pops up: free will. Someone mentioned Dostojevski’s The Brothers Karamazov. This novel formulates the Problem of Evil in a hard pressing way – but not hard enough imo. Here is my try, via a thought experiment.
    Suppose you’re a christian pastor. Elizabeth Fritzl enters and requests to ask a few questions. Of course you give permission; that’s what you are a pastor for. Then Elizabeth Fritzl tells you how she was locked up in a basement for 24 years to be raped by her father two, three times a week. Suppose she asks: “Where was God during those 24 years? Why didn’t He prevent my father to make me suffer that way?”
    The Free Will Defence provides this answer: “If God had prevented your father one way or another he would have turned into an automaton. Your father would not have had free will anymore.”
    Question: What about Elizabeth’s free will during all those years? Why did her father have the choice to rape her or not for 24 years, but didn’t Elizabeth have the choice to walk out or not? Why is the free will of the offender (this applies to every single case of rape and torture) so valuable and the free will of the victim of no value at all?
    If you are that christian pastor, what are you going to tell Elizabeth Fritzl? Or any rape victim for that matter?

    • CodyGirl824

      What does the atheist say to Elizabeth Fritzl based on your lack of belief in God? What is your answer to her pain?

      • Kodie

        Don’t weasel, you weasel!

        • CodyGirl824

          Oh, so this question-asking thing is a one-way street, eh? Atheists get to ask all the question but don’t have to answer any. I am really curious. How would an atheist respond to this horrendous evil? Morality is subjective and Elizabeth’s father thought that what he was doing was not immoral, because according to his standards, raping your daughter is not wrong? After all, atheism articulates no moral standard that says it’s either right or wrong and since there is no absolute morality to say otherwise, her father could be right? Or how about this? There is no such thing as free will, so why is she complaining that something that doesn’t exist was taken away from her? I could go on speculating about how atheists are equipped to address the Problem of Evil, but that’s enough to spur some thought for now.

        • Kodie

          Changing the subject is just your weasel way.

        • CodyGirl824

          I’m merely pointing out that atheists like to ask questions of Christians that they refuse to answer themselves. My dear mother, the attorney, always warned me against this practice.

        • hector_jones

          No. The attorney maxim is ‘never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to’. You can’t even get that right.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, never ask a question when interviewing a witness that you don’t know the answer to already, and my mother’s advise to me: Don’t ask questions in a debate that you are not willing and prepared to answer yourself. Are you suggesting that I misunderstood my own mother? I repeat: atheists shouldn’t ask Christians questions that they refuse to answer themselves.

        • Kodie

          I notice you still never answered the question. Enough stalling, weasel!

        • MNb

          As far as I know no believer ever has been able to answer this question. I asked a muslim once and he honestly said that he didn’t know. I thought of him when I answered Trent Horn underneath.
          Now what I find remarkable is how Cody as a christian is supposed to be humble and modest. Still she can’t admit that she is not capable of answering some hard question. Rather she violates her own 9th Commandment and begins to bear false witnesses on atheists.

        • hector_jones

          Yes I’m suggesting you misunderstood or misremembered what your own mother told you. Because “asking questions which you refuse to answer yourself” and “never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to” aren’t the same thing at all. Notice how you have changed what your mother’s advice to you was, in light of my comment. More dishonesty from you, Jenna.

          Moreover the lawyer’s maxim applies specifically to a lawyer asking questions of a witness on the stand. It doesn’t mean that in life in general one should never ask questions that one doesn’t already know the answer to. That would be stupid advice to live by.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, my mother’s advise is far from stupid. Now you’re insulting my mother? How low do you think you have to stoop to make your case?

        • Kodie

          It’s not stupid advice, the way you use it and get it all wrong and try to apply it in situations it’s not applicable is stupid.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah she starts out whining “Atheists get to ask all the question but don’t have to answer any” and then tries to tell us that this is a violation of the lawyer’s maxim that her mother once taught her.

          Well you know what? Lawyers questioning witnesses in court get to ask all the questions but don’t have to answer any either. It looks like her mother didn’t tell her about that.

          Is there any analogy that Jenna Black can’t botch? I have yet to see one.

        • Kodie

          Nobody even asked her this question in the first place. Don’t bring up the courtroom analogy she will say she is just a juror and doesn’t have to answer questions.

        • hector_jones

          Oh darn, you are right. But at least we get to ignore all her questions from now on.

        • hector_jones

          Jenna, stop. I’m never going to be able to get to sleep if you keep me laughing so hard.

        • Kodie

          I’m merely pointing out that theists like to weasel out of answering questions they don’t know the answer to and try to change the subject.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie, answering the victim of a horrendous crime is very difficult for anyone, even for a trained Christian priest or minister. I have a very close friend, Lou Dunst, who is a Holocaust survivor who is a deeply religious Jew. We have had several intense conversations about the Holocaust and how his faith in God grew through his experience in the death camps, where he survived the gas chambers twice and was pulled from a pile of corpses and saved when the camp was liberated by the American troops.

          Lou Dunst is one person who I would trust completely to respond to someone like Elizabeth Fritzl who has also suffered terrible evil. These matters are not to be taken lightly, and atheists should put aside their arrogance and condescending attitude and realize that they don’t have the answer to the Problem of Evil and in fact, are far less prepared to address it than are people who have faith in God.

          See Lou Dunst’s compelling and inspiring book “My Bargain with God” that you can get through Amazon.

        • Kodie

          We don’t need the problem of evil when addressing the victim of a crime. I don’t know why you think that makes us ill-equipped. Lynn had a good answer. Your made-up atheist answers were horribly construed. You don’t know what we think about anything and then make presumptuous comments that we’d be ill-prepared. Having to guess why god does things makes dealing with difficult situations more difficult, not less. You still didn’t answer the question, you just said it’s not to take lightly. The victim is asking you for an answer, and you have no answer because you need time to consult the correct theological answer that isn’t insensitive.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, the victim in MNb’s question is asking a Christian pastor, someone who is trained as a counselor. I am not a pastor and I am not trained as a counselor. If MNb wants any ole ordinary Christian to address the Problem of Evil, then MNb needs to answer it first.

          Theological answers are not “insensitive.” They are comforting and healing. That’s the point. How did Lou Dunst’s faith help him survive the Nazi death camps and become the wonderfully self-actualizing and spiritual man and moral and religious role model that he is, that is the theological question. How do atheists respond to the moral, ethical questions of Holocaust survivors? Do they/you set out to convince them to abandon their faith in God?

        • hector_jones

          How do atheists respond to the moral, ethical questions of Holocaust survivors?

          The good news is that we don’t have to answer this question or any other question of yours ever again! Why not? Because you never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to, just like your mother taught you. Saves us all a lot of time.

        • Kodie

          Theological answers are platitudes. Situations arise when it is apparent the claims you make about god are lies that can’t stretch far enough to cover. It’s not comforting that god has a plan that involves concentration camps, gas chambers, or holding a woman hostage in a basement for 24 years. It’s not healing when god had good reasons to respect the free will of some people who victimize others who then have no choice but to endure their tyranny. The fact that some people can ignore that and distort it just to cling to it doesn’t mean these are good answers and you seem to know it – you know that you are ill-equipped to offer these platitudes to someone coming out of a situation and asking these questions of you as a mouthpiece for your deity, and why you hand it off to someone you rationalize will have any better or more sensitive answers.

          Theological answers are no more sensitive than the bullshit atheist answers you made up because you really don’t have a concept what an atheist would say, and delude yourself that we’d have to rely on your faulty theology in order to offer comforting or healing words. The question was posed to a theist, a pastor, that the victim had questions about god. You don’t imagine no god exists, so I don’t know why you were so stubborn to answer the questions. Why would someone ask an atheist questions about god?

        • MNb

          You have gotten your answer. Where is yours, weasel Cody?

        • smrnda

          “Theological answers are not “insensitive.” They are comforting and healing.”

          Just to point out – to WHOM are they comforting or healing?

          I would agree that a person who already believes in some religion might find its answers appealing. However, they end up being nothing but platitudes to those outside the same faith community.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are probably right about this, smrnda. But the hypothetical posed here is with Elizabeth F. asking a Christian pastor for a response to the evil she has suffered. If she were an atheist, why would she ask a Christian pastor or even an ordinary Christian to tell her anything? If Elizabeth is seeking a theological answer, she asks a theist. If she is merely seeking comfort and sympathy, she can ask any decent person. IMO, the first thing that a Christian pastor would ask Elizabeth F. before responding is if she believes in God and if she is a Christian. You are correct that to “talk God” to an atheist as a form of counseling to a victim of a horrendous crime is not a good approach.

        • Kodie

          To endure 24 years of confinement and incestuous rape, one might ask a Christian pastor to explain why, where was god, how could he let this happen, etc. I think they might be looking for more comforting answers than the pastor can give. Depending on how one feels about the answers, it could actually devastate her. That humans can be bad and god couldn’t curtail her father’s free will, now, could he, these are answers given by Christians on message boards regarding events that don’t directly affect us, but I don’t know what happens in a pastor’s office when he’s counseling. It would seem the victim’s faith is in peril, so what could a pastor say about the god that let this happen when she is asking him to give her a decent explanation? It isn’t that these answers aren’t comforting to anyone, it’s that these answers aren’t comforting if you actually think about them.

          I once participated in a discussion on a Christian blog where the author was trying to help other Christians avoid platitudes. Jeez, but a lot of Christians got real huffy being told what they could and could not say to people! They had no social senses, they had to speak “the truth” no matter who it hurt, in the example, a couple that lost a child, at the child’s funeral. Compare what theists often think atheists would say out loud at a funeral, and how comforting it isn’t. We’re just atheists, not insensitive assholes.* These Christians had the nerve to insist that their platitudes were comforting and if the person didn’t like hearing “the truth” during their sorrow, that was their problem.

          *For example, I would not accuse any Christian of being such an insensitive asshole as to declare the deceased is burning in hell because they need to speak “the truth”. I don’t know why theists think atheists would say anything equally rude in someone else’s grief, but we’re not about to lie and say they’re in heaven. There are plenty of other things to say to someone who just lost a loved one that are neither cruel nor dishonest.

        • MNb

          For the thought experiment it doesn’t matter if she is an atheist or not. Let’s say she is in doubt because of her horrible experiences. Neither does it matter whether the christian pastor is qualified as a counselor or not. He is allowed to consult any source imaginable.
          The point of the thought experiment – and of course you try to evade it, because it’s a difficult point for you – is to show how onesided the Free Will Defense is as a solution of the Problem of Evil. The FWD is all about the offender (at all costs god wants to avoid turning him into an automaton) and pays exactly zero attention to the victim. That doesn’t become clear if formulated in abstract terms, like apologists prefer to do, but becomes painfully clear when formulated in concreto like this thought experiment.
          So what about Elizabeth’s free will during those 24 years in her basement?

        • MNb

          So what is Lou Dunst’s answer?

        • CodyGirl824

          Read his book and let him speak for himself.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          You have to consider that many people also stopped believing in God because of the Holocaust. The fact that someone can still believe in God after going through the Holocaust is no more to the point than that people still believed in Harold Camping after his end-of-the-world predictions went wrong.

          There are many atheists who are content in life and help others in need and when people come up to them with all these tragedies they don’t say, “Well, just keep believing in God and it’ll get better”. Because they can try to work past it and be comforted by actual people instead of the hope that some immaterial being is going to whisk them away to some happy place for eternity if they just keep believing and none of the crap they went through in life would matter.

          The problem of evil is only a problem so long as there are beings: atheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Pastafarians, Scientologists, deities, spirits, or whoever who can help others in need but don’t. Atheists generally try to hold the “God of monotheism”, as you call it, to the same standard but theists don’t for some reason.

        • CodyGirl824

          What we have here is atheists holding a God that they don’t believe exists to an absolute moral standard that they believe doesn’t exist. Now there’s a moral triumph for humanity!

        • hector_jones

          Like I said before, Jenna “Stop expecting anything from God, you stupid atheists!”

        • Kodie

          The god you describe isn’t even as good as most people I know, and the people I know aren’t the best either. For sure, they can’t do as much as the god you describe can do. Let’s make some theological implications, your favorite! The theological implications of reality as compared with the god you describe is theists end up making a lot of excuses, mainly regarding his authority and prerogative to abstain from acting.

          And yet people feel his “minor miracles” every day when they get a call from a friend, find something they wanted on sale, get the tests back and they don’t have cancer, swerve in time to miss hitting another car, the lady who just won her spot on the showcase showdown on The Price is Right, etc.

          This is your grand evidence that god is real and god is good. Impressive. Again, why should I sign up?

        • hector_jones

          Want to hear something strange? During a break from the conversation we were having yesterday about healing amputees I popped over to the convenience store across the street. And guess what I saw there? A man with a missing arm. I kid you not. It was a miracle! Praise God! He is real!

          But wait. The omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God stood around for 24 years and watched with depraved indifference while a man confined and raped his own daughter? Foolish atheist, why do you expect anything from the great and powerful Creator? Praise him!

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I guess it depends on what you consider evil. If you take evil as disobeying God’s commands with no concern for the suffering or pleasure they would cause, then the “problem of evil” is just a “problem of disobedience”, which is not really a problem in the first place. I mean, who cares about obeying God, right? Unless, disobeying God leads to suffering, which is the most basic thing a human cares about (avoiding, that is). But then the problem becomes, the “problem of people suffering even though they obey God and people prospering and joyful even though they disobey God” which once again brings up the issue of God’s inconsistency in answering prayers positively.

          For an atheist, the problem of evil is subjective in the sense that it’s the “problem of things occurring which are counter-productive to a happy, prosperous society”. I’m pretty sure all you need to find out what makes a happy prosperous society is to find out what makes people happy and successful and just go with that. For some people, that’s believing in God hence freedom of religion.

        • MNb

          You have gotten your answer, but don’t answer it yourself. That’s why Kodie calls you a weasel.

        • Pofarmer

          several different Atheists have answered the question. I think it’s enough to note that the ideas of Good and Evil vary from society to society and change with time. They are very much a human invention subject to human intelligence.

        • Kodie

          Those sound like Christian rationalizations.

        • broken_cynic

          We don’t have to answer one that doesn’t (cannot) apply to our position, no…

          You are right to say that, “atheism articulates no moral standard…” However, that is not at all the same thing as saying that atheists do not have morals and cannot say that Elizabeth was horrifically wronged by her father. Atheists claim a variety of different moral systems. Some are indeed subjective (though that does not usually mean ‘absolutely subjective’ as you are implying) and some are objective (see the large number of posts that Dan has written at Camels with Hammers here at patheos.)

          Atheists also don’t hold a dogmatic position with regard to the existence of free will. You can find non-believers that think it is a fiction, others who think it is a very real thing, and others who think that it depends on what you mean by ‘free will.’

        • hector_jones

          I’m an example of an atheist who doesn’t hold any particular position on the existence of ‘free will’ except for one – I don’t find any arguments for God based on notions of ‘free will’ to be compelling.

        • MNb

          “Morality is subjective and Elizabeth’s father thought that what he was doing was not immoral, because according to his standards, raping your daughter is not wrong?”
          Yup – or he knew it was immoral and didn’t care.
          Now where is your answer?

      • Lynn

        So the question is what do I say, as an atheist, to Elizabeth… after she just told me her father locked her up and raped her for two decades?

        Easy. I say “What your father did to you was monstrous. I am so incredibly sorry. What a horrific thing to live through.”

        Was this supposed to be a hard question?

        • CodyGirl824

          You have offered sympathy, but you have not addressed the Problem of Evil and the question of free will, which is what MNb asked. Yes, it is true. Atheists have no response to the Problem of Evil.

        • hector_jones

          So is that what you would say to Elizabeth Fritzl? Lecture her on the problem of evil and free will? You are a real mensch.

        • Kodie

          Atheists don’t have a problem of evil.

        • CodyGirl824

          Oh, really? Are you ever in denial!

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why you think we do, but we don’t.

        • broken_cynic

          For the Problem of Evil to be, well… a problem, requires both the existence of evil AND a omni-benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient being. By definition atheism lacks that second element.

          No one is denying that evil is a thing, but ‘bad stuff happens’ does not produce any sort of logical conundrums when paired with a lack of belief the way it does with respect to an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving god.

        • CodyGirl824

          …which is why atheism has nothing to offer humankind toward understanding or overcoming evil. Atheism neither proposes nor articulates a paradigm for moral reasoning. Monotheism does. Christianity does.

        • Kodie

          That’s not what atheism is for. You don’t need a belief in god to want to understand or overcome what you label as “evil”. Atheism is the lack of a belief in god. It doesn’t offer, propose or articulate a paradigm for moral reasoning, but empathy exists without a god. Christianity is an awful way to execute empathy.

        • James Walker

          exactly. atheism itself isn’t a philosophy of life. it can be a central tenet to a philosophy of life just as belief in God can be. but neither of those propositions actually informs our moral judgement or solves problems of human evil.

        • CodyGirl824

          What do you mean by this statement: “Christianity is an awful way to execute empathy.”?

        • Kodie

          Because it constructs a god, a scapegoat.

        • CodyGirl824

          You’ll have to elaborate since I don’t understand how either God or a “scapegoat” fail to “execute empathy”.

        • Kodie

          We have elaborated at length before about how poorly set your moral compass is because you rely on god and defend actions commonly attributed to the character, and the people who act in his name to overcome their foes. Go read that again.

        • CodyGirl824

          But Kodie, atheists have no moral compass that they/you can articulate based on your lack of belief in God. You have made this clear. By what moral standard are you judging my alleged “moral compass” as being “poorly set”?

        • Kodie

          Try to wrap your puny mind around this: atheists don’t base anything on a lack of belief in god. Stop trying to find atheism analogous to your religion as providing a framework or a foundation or a doctrine or a dogma. It is merely by itself a rejection of claims in the affirmative for any kind of god. We are not authored by a god, we are on our own to figure this out and live and work together. We are not constricted by outdated knowledge or concepts on morality. We are not beholden to heed signs or warnings that are merely the product of imagination. When we are wrong, we can correct. When you are wrong, you say god is right so I am right. Christians find it very hard to disobey what they imagine god wants, and atheists are free to change and consider new information.

          Your concept of what atheism is is harmed by your beliefs. Of course we have a moral compass. Empathy is the best and most real, even other animals demonstrate empathy. Do you say animals have no moral compass? Theism blinds you from thinking clearly about what is right and what is wrong, because you believe it is determined, and when you defend or excuse acts of the character god (i.e., not acting when he is able, or sending violent threats, etc.) or humans acting in god’s name, you are not acting in empathy, you are acting in superiority. That’s why you have no moral compass. We don’t need Christianity or god to have empathy.

          Atheism isn’t a religious construct in order to offer what religion claims to offer. It’s just to not put up with your silliness or violence carried out in god’s name. That’s all. Anything more isn’t constructed from atheism but acting in recognition of empathy and the lack of god to do anything for anyone.

        • CodyGirl824

          You have described atheism quite accurately here, confirming what I have said about its lack of a moral paradigm. This is the comment I find most remarkably ridiculous here: “Your concept of what atheism is is harmed by your beliefs.” I can’t even imagine how my concept of what atheism is could be anymore “harmed” than it’s been by reading atheists’ comments on this website, and feeling your lack of empathy for people who don’t share your views.

        • Kodie

          You seem to think it should. Why do you stick to a moral paradigm that’s wrong? I don’t think you understand and you’d rather cling to being wrong, like I said “god is right so I am right” is the Christian way of thinking. Your idiotic shot at atheists’ empathy for people who don’t share our views is non sequitur. I don’t know where you’ve seen any of that, unless your faulty moral compass mistakes justifiable exasperation with your nonsense for lack of empathy. Is it kindness for you to keep being so wrong and harassing us with your evasion, lying, and ignorance? If you pretend you are some wandering innocent Christian, let me remind you:

          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.

          That is, an intentional mission to head off a two-way discussion and not learn anything.

        • CodyGirl824

          Let me remind you of Christians’ paradigm for moral reasoning:

          Matthew 22:36-40

          “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

          Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

        • Kodie

          Let me inform you that you don’t have a god either. You have invented one so you could have a moral paradigm, someone to threaten people with and someone to hide behind when people oppose you. But anyway, you didn’t read what my post is about, you skipped over the parts that didn’t fit into your preconceptions. Atheists are not confined to a specific paradigm that is outdated and contains rules from an invisible force that will doom me just because you say so. Your moral compass is absolutely screwed on wrong, as long as you rest assured that anyone is in hell. That’s not loving your neighbor, plus, you say that like Jesus invented empathy.

        • smrnda

          I don’t get it. As an atheist, life on this earth is all we have. The way to move forward is to try to get a decent standard of living for everyone, making sure that nobody gets left too far behind.

          How do we do this? Study what works. Stick with real solutions. Use evidence.

        • James Walker

          I would say that neither theism or monotheism offer any particular paradigm for moral reasoning either. Christianity offers a framework for morals and ethics in that it has some specific teachings given as commandments that must be followed in order to claim the title: Christian.

          Kodie has a valid point. this is not an area where it’s fair or rational to claim Christianity is “superior” to atheism. Christianity is an entire set of beliefs and traditions that includes moral guidance. atheism is merely a statement of non-belief in deity. people who adhere to atheism usually have some other philosophical structure that informs their moral and ethical decision making without reference to the commands of a deity.

        • MNb

          Of course not. Evil is a category developed by humans, enabling to morally judge all kind of behaviours. So if there is evil it is of human origin. Saying that male ducks rape female ducks (in human terms they do) and condemn them for it is meaningless.
          The development of ideas about good and evil can be described in terms of evolution. See Frans de Waal. This all is completely consistent and coherent. We don’t have to combine this with the concept of an all good god. You have though, because of your God is Love doctrine.
          So what is your answer?

        • 90Lew90

          It might be better to say psychopaths don’t have a problem of evil.

        • MNb

          No, that’s not what I asked. What I asked is “What about Elizabeth’s free will for all those 24 years?”
          The atheist answer is of course, like Lynn wrote, that her father was a monster to rob her from her free will (plus the rest).

        • Lynn

          There is no Problem of Evil in atheism. We don’t believe in an omnipotent yet loving god, so we don’t have to explain how evil and god can both exist.

      • MNb

        See underneath.

    • R Vogel

      First, I would hope that anyone’s answer would approximate Lynn’s response below (or above, I have no idea how to predict where things are ordered on Patheos) A victim does not need a sermon or explanation, they need empathy and acknowledgment and a safe place.

      The whole free will thing is a pile of horseshit, isn’t it? I don know how Arminian christians feel like they have everything sewn up by appealing to it and feel so damn superior to calvinists as if their position is somehow less monstrous.

      With that said I think there is an answer, but not one most people would be happy with because it requires you to toss out the whole omni-everything conception of G*d, which is more a product of philosophy than scripture anyway. Some, in both camps, would say that a G*d who is powerless to prevent such things is not worthy of our worship. That’s a fair criticism, I guess. It’s funny that the same idea that leads one to reject the idea altogether leads others to invent in the image they want. It is hard for many religious people to give up the idea of G*d as a big strong man in the sky –

  • lawrence090469

    We have no Devil, Kirk. But we understand the habits of yours.

  • James Walker

    1, 2 and 4 are different variations on the same theme – why doesn’t God, the magical sky genie, fix all the world’s problems and give us all a nice, easy life (with all our limbs intact)? well, I’m a Christian and my answer to all three of those is that “God the magical sky genie” doesn’t exist, therefore can’t do those things. I do believe in God, but my belief is not in some entity who has supernatural powers, does magic or grants wishes so for me these three questions have as little to do with reality as they do for most atheists.

    there is also this idea that prayer is a means of petitioning God for things we want, sort of a ritualized version of sitting on Santa’s lap. that’s a cute idea and all, but it’s not how prayer is presented by Jesus in the gospel accounts. instead, prayer is a means of communing with the Divine Mystery to express thankfulness, to express sorrow over our weaknesses and failings, and to bolster our hope that we can, indeed, do better and face the bad things of this world.

    3 has the right answer already in the article – the Bible, like most other foundational literature for the world’s religions, was written at a time before science and was written by human beings who weren’t trying to write about science or medicine or even history (the academic version, I mean). they were trying to tell the stories about how their particular tribe came to be, why they were “special” in the eyes of their version of deity, codify the rules of their form of worship, etc. why on earth would any of us, believers or non-believers, look to these works to teach us anything about science?

    5 – umm.. He died, you know. right? why would I want Zombie Jesus showing up in my living room, exactly? I use His teachings as a guide for my faith and my life here on earth. I don’t expect to see Him. ever. maybe if there really is an afterlife, my soul (whatever that might be?) will “see” Him. so, for me this question is kind of silly and meaningless.

    I look forward to the next five questions.

    • hector_jones

      Did you read this comment, Jenna? This is exactly what I am talking about when I say that the key for believers is to have no expectations from God and they will never be disappointed. James Walker has learned that lesson so well that he doesn’t even believe that his god has supernatural powers. I’m sure his god never disappoints him.

      • James Walker

        my only expectation from God is personal and internal. everything external is my job and the job of my fellow human beings, to the extent we are capable of making any change.

        • hector_jones

          And I’m sure that since God is just a voice in your head, he never lets you down.

        • James Walker

          and you see something wrong with that why, exactly?

          the point for me is to work with my concept of God to help make me a better human right here and right now.

          whether that is meaningful or useful for you isn’t for me to worry about.

        • hector_jones

          Hehe. But the voice in your head, he created the universe right?

        • James Walker

          you could just as easily say He was created the moment the universe came to be, or that I and all those who follow a tradition of belief have been in the process of creating Him just as He has been creating us. (and, for the record, I use the masculine pronouns only out of tradition and the fact English has no gender neutral personal pronouns)

          I don’t see any way of separating God from the “stuff” of the universe around me, or from the ideals we strive for but can’t quite reach such as Compassion, Love, Grace, Mercy, Truth, Wisdom, etc.

        • hector_jones

          I could easily say a lot of things. I was asking what you believe about this ‘counsellor’ god of yours.

        • James Walker

          you’re not reading carefully. I answered your question.

        • hector_jones

          No you didn’t really answer my question, you gave me a lot of silly speculation, though I do like the idea that people are in the process of creating Him. I am amused by how you flip more traditional christian beliefs about god and his power on their head and think that arguing for an extremely weak god makes him more real than a powerful one. If only you could take that to the logical conclusion.

        • James Walker

          God is, to me, all of those things in my answer. He is as big as the entire universe and as small as what you like to call “the voice inside my head”. He is the ideals we humans strive for. He is not a person as we understand personhood and yet He is the embodiment of the best we hope for as people. He has evolved right along with our various cultures and is still evolving and changing as our understanding grows and changes. We seek a God who is worthy of worship. Who can say whether such an entity objectively exists? Does it matter? If we find something that is worthy of worship, should we not worship it even if we can never honestly say it’s objectively real?

          It is meaningless to ask the question of whether He created the universe because there is no “before” and no “after” to the universe. There’s no “place” outside the universe for any posited creator to exist and there’s no “time” for such an entity to have operated in. We can say that the universe began with the expansion after what is called the Big Bang but we know that even calling something the Big Bang is meaningless to our understanding of physics and quantum mechanics.

        • hector_jones

          The thing is you didn’t say at first “I believe the following things about my god” you said “one could say this, or one could believe that, and there are those who believe …”. Those are just weasel words. I’m glad to see you finally owning your beliefs. Thanks.

        • James Walker

          ah. I see that I wasn’t as clear as I thought I had been. thanks for asking again so I could clarify that all of those statements were part of my beliefs.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I think the reason people expect God to help people with things like missing limbs is because he’s paraded around as a magical genie who helps you if you ask and sincerely believe. Like when people thank God for helping them find their car keys, giving the impression that, if God helps people with things as trivial as finding car keys, then he must surely help people with cancer/missing limbs/something clearly more dire. I guess that’s the fault of society. If God does exist, I’d hope that there’s something more to life than “I created you to serve me. Do it or burn in hell. But I’ll give you cookies occasionally if you do obey me. But sometimes I’ll just make you get horrible diseases to see if you’ll still believe in me or for that time you lied to your wife about not being fat. And after you die you’re stuck wherever you end up for eternity.” It’s a shame that God doesn’t have all babies live long enough to understand how much God has helped them.

        • Kodie

          The concepts you list are human-defined and humans have to create and live with those concepts if they want them. I don’t know why you need god to explain them to you, or demonstrate them? It’s not really an answer to what would you say to the woman who was held captive and raped by her father for 24 years, if she’s asking where was god and why didn’t he intervene. Your Christian answer is that god is a let-down in the good department and the power department. You might be ok with this god, but why should anyone else find this satisfactory? What makes this god still defined as a god? The typical lame Christian answer is that he keeps us company while we are suffering.

        • James Walker

          did I ask you to buy in to my concept of God? did I ask whether you found my concept of God worthy of worship?

          if the only God you think of as being worthy is demonstrably not real, I think that’s more your problem than mine.

        • Kodie

          You illustrate the idea that there are as many different gods as there are Christians, just about. What you are worshiping is humanity, and idealized perfection of our own capacity. You said you don’t know how to separate god from that, and you admit to god as a human invention. I don’t know why we need to assign worship to human ideals. That just seems misplaced to me, and if there is a god, you define him by what he doesn’t actually do, and that’s good enough, in fact, you still think he’s the best. I just don’t get why.

        • James Walker

          if I were worshiping humanity, I would not be worshiping ideals that are out of humanity’s reach and concepts that are too broad and too small for humanity to fully grasp.

          why do you insist on playing the game of “that’s not really God”? or “that God logically can’t exist”? it doesn’t matter if God is or is not objectively real. I think you’re fighting on the wrong turf.

          if someone calls themselves a Christian (or a Buddhist, or a Muslim) and their belief doesn’t help them to be a better human, something’s wrong and it really doesn’t matter whether the “something wrong” is that their concept of God is illogical or not.

        • CodyGirl824

          James, thank you for sharing your clear and articulate understanding of God.

        • hector_jones

          Funny how it doesn’t match up at all with your understanding of God. Oh but wait, you are now going to tell me that your beliefs and James Walker’s are perfectly compatible, aren’t you? Of course you are, you rascal.

        • CodyGirl824

          What you fail to understand, hector, that I’ve attempted to point out many times, is that each of us have our own understanding of God, even atheists. Atheists’ understanding of God causes them to not believe in God or seek a relationship with God. Obviously James’ understanding of God is a source of great joy and closeness with God through Christianity. Only atheists are so intent upon foisting their (mis)understanding of God onto others.

        • hector_jones

          Oh you are a rascal, just like I said, Jenna.

        • James Walker

          I think it says more about you than you realize that you insist God is required to have magical powers and use them to “save” people from “bad stuff”.

        • hector_jones

          You know what it says about Kodie? That’s she’s spent a lot of time arguing with people who believe exactly that about God. Maybe your quarrel is really with these people, sometimes referred to as “Christians” or “theists”, rather than with Kodie.

        • James Walker

          oh, believe me, I’ve been through those quarrels a lot. =)

          I was, for about a year, an admin on the Unfundamentalist Christians blog. I had as many Christians telling me that I didn’t belong in their club as I had “fundamentalist atheists” telling me I automatically failed at logic and science because I believed in God.

        • hector_jones

          On this point, I believe you.

        • JohnH2

          From my point of view as a Mormon saying that we both believe in God seems to be stretching it really far. You seem closer to Buddhism than Christianity on the subject of Christ, not even really Christian-Buddhism but just Buddhism that happens to have Christ as a bodhisattva.

        • James Walker

          I’m very, very eclectic. I tried a lot of different paths when I left my Southern Baptist roots to come out as gay. I find the place where my beliefs fit the best, and where I can do the most good, is under the umbrella of Christian but much more in the Progressive and Universalist areas of the faith.

          there are some things I think the Mormon faith deals with very well and other things about your church’s teachings I adamantly disagree with. at least your church, like the Catholic faith, has an in-built mechanism for doctrine to evolve as a conversation between God and the needs of the congregation.

        • MNb

          I like that too. Indeed I don’t get why belief and science (including logic) should be incompatible a priori. That’s an extraordinary claim and I haven’t seen any extraordinary evidence or arguments. Of course this doesn’t rule out that lots and lots of belief systems are incompatible indeed, but I trust you to get that.
          You’re unconventional indeed.

        • Kodie

          Why do you define what you believe in as a god?

        • James Walker

          FYI – my response to the hypothetical woman in the scenario would be virtually identical to Lynn’s. leave God out of it. that’s human evil that requires human intervention.

        • Kodie

          What I’m hearing is god is good, people can be very bad. Leave god out of it, I do. He’s neither good nor evil, he’s imaginary. People can be bad is sufficient explanation and no need to blame a god who isn’t there. But Christians believe god is there, that’s the problem, and defending him by saying he should not or does not have to jump when we say jump, when he provides the “minor miracles” Jenna likes to use for example. He is not a superhero, he is just an invisible friend, and with constant faith that he is good no matter what happens, he has good reasons.

        • James Walker

          on those points, you and I are pretty well aligned. I cringe at the “He has good reasons” comments. it’s an excuse, and a poor one at that.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know how you reconcile it then. If he exists, he better have a good reason. We’ll all ask him when we get to heaven. It should be mind-blowing.

        • Malu Ribeiro

          You’re the the closest thing to a Deist I’ve ever seen! If God and the “stuff” were created together, or came about together, it still doesn’t answer what came before, or caused it, with what materials etc… This article was not written for people like you as much for those with more traditional views of God, religion, etc

        • James Walker

          well, we can’t know what came “before”, assuming “before” makes any sense in the context of the expansion event where time and space as we know them began.

          at any rate, I responded to the article because the article was addressed to Christians in general, of whom I’m one even if my theology doesn’t map very well with “traditional” Church views. =)

        • JohnH2

          hector_jones, Not sure you actually want to go there, unless you can prove that you aren’t a Boltzmann brain and that you aren’t just having this conversation with a voice in your head.

        • hector_jones

          Perhaps you’ve been reading too much William Lane Craig. No one else cares about Boltzmann brains. They don’t interest me in the least.

        • JohnH2

          I have never read William Lane Craig besides his attacks on my faith.

          The point is philosophical, Boltzmann brain’s just give a physics backing to it (though clearly self referential).

        • hector_jones

          Oh and that was supposed to stop me dead in my tracks was it?

        • JohnH2

          Prove that I exist and we can continue this conversation.

        • hector_jones

          You think that’s a point in favor of God do you? Perhaps you should see a medical professional about possible Cotard delusion. I’m not qualified to help you with that, sorry.

      • CodyGirl824

        It seems to me that James really gets it. John 4:24 “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I would ask what this means but I think the answer would be even harder to understand. It sounds like the author was trying to say something profound and enlightening but just came off as poetic. I think the Bible could have one verse which just says, “Pudding tastes good” and Christians would think it sounds just as profound, simply because it’s in the Bible.

    • The Man With The Name Too Long

      So you’re a pandeist? At least I think that’s what it’s called. And you call yourself Christian because you follow the teachings of someone called Christ even if you don’t buy into much of the supernatural stuff associated with Christianity. Much like Buddhists follow the teachings of someone called Buddha. I have a question though, do you follow the teachings of Jesus because you think they are good teachings or because you’ll get to live forever in a palace after you die if you do? I’m not a Christian but I agree with many of the things Jesus says (not so much on other things, such as that “turn the other cheek” stuff). But similarly Buddha said many things I agree with (and he predates Jesus).

      I guess it’s hard to separate the supernatural beliefs from the codes of morality in religion and to take only one.

      • James Walker

        I am unable to say anything about an “afterlife” because it falls outside what we’re capable of knowing in this life. if there is one, God will take care of that for me. my job as a Christian is to try (and try, and try some more) to demonstrate Love to all my neighbors by following the teachings of Jesus.

        and, yes, it’s not surprising to me that you’d spot similarities between my beliefs about Jesus and Buddhist beliefs about Siddhartha.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I can’t see anything wrong with that, but I hope it’s because that’s what you believe to be right through your own contemplation rather than, “Well all my friends and relatives are Christian, better be one too!” I guess what I don’t like is people thinking something is good because Jesus praised it or thinking it’s bad because Jesus condemned it. I like when people develop their morality because they’ve honestly thought about the consequences and implications of their actions rather than following something because a specific individual said to act that way.

          EDIT: And about the afterlife, I guess the Hindu idea of reincarnation seems more fair than the “You get one life. If you f*** it up, you burn forever” type of afterlife. But I guess we won’t know until we die.

        • James Walker

          the Christian faith is my personal comfort zone because of where I grew up and the influences I was exposed to when I was young. had I been raised in an Islamic country or a Hindu one, I would likely have come back to one of those faiths (but with, I hope, a similarly nuanced view to the one I hold now).

    • wtfwjtd

      “I do believe in God, but my belief is not in some entity who has supernatural powers…”

      So you reject Christianity as false then, since the resurrection of Jesus depends on the supernatural.

      “He died, you know. right? why would I want Zombie Jesus showing up in my living room, exactly?”

      Exactly. He died, and stayed dead. So, why bother with the Christianity construct of expressing a belief in God? I assume you are espousing a just a belief in the Jewish God of the Old Testament then, correct?

      • hector_jones

        Sounds more to me like he’s espousing a Muslim belief in Jesus as the ‘wise prophet’ and nothing more.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, maybe so.

        • James Walker

          Jesus is, to me, very similar to what Siddhartha was to Buddhism. He was the embodiment of the “Good Man” and, as such, has become elevated to a status very similar, if not identical, to deity.

        • hector_jones

          That’s cool. You call yourself a Christian, and that’s perfectly fine with me. I think we can add yet another Christian denomination to our list. I suggest the name “Walkerism” but if you’ve already got a name for it, I’d like to hear it.

        • James Walker

          Unfundamentalist Christians. most of us like Hemant’s blog a lot. we don’t all believe exactly the same, but we’re all compatible and non-dogmatic.

          ETA: clarification – I got here in the first place via a link from Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist page. It took a while for me to realize this is actually someone else’s blog. =)

          hey, I’m human. lol

        • MNb

          Is “the perfect embodiment of agape” the right description? If yes I’d like you to know that I think higher of St. Franciscus of Assisi than of Jesus.

        • James Walker

          and you’re absolutely free to do so. it might even lead you to very similar results in how you direct your life.

          I’m not interested in proselytizing. my particular faith might not work for anyone but me.

        • MNb

          Yet another one I like. I am not interested in deconverting people. It doesn’t make me happy and I don’t think exterminating belief/religion will make the Earth a better place. That’s because good and evil are part of the human condition. So if belief/religion disappears I trust Homo Sapiens to find other ways to screw things up.
          Alas you haven’t answered my question.

          Is “the perfect embodiment of agape” the right description?

        • James Walker

          I think so, yes. it’s not as personal or intimate as the other Greek words used where the English generality “Love” fills in.

          ETA – and there’s also a caveat in Jesus’ life that He evidently believed His ministry was to re-imagine and revolutionize the Jewish faith. as a result, He sometimes brusquely dismissed people of other cultures who approached Him in the gospel depictions.

        • MNb

          OK, then we disagree on the agape/Love thing.

        • James Walker

          on further reflection, I need to walk that one back. His life, as depicted in the gospels, is less about embodying agape than it was about being blameless under the Law and, therefore, qualified to challenge the legalism of His time.

        • Matthew Alton

          Your obfuscated, rationalized, sanitized view of Christ as a fully actualized, albeit merely human, moral philosopher bears no resemblance to the central tenets of mainstream Christianity. It is not unreasonable for people to make assumptions about your beliefs if you go around calling yourself a Christian. You’ll be doing all of this backpedaling over and over.

          You are a Christian in the same sense that I am a coal miner. I do like the idea of working for a living, digging in the ground, &c. I just don’t happen to indulge in the trappings or formal practice of the trade. I have never actually been in a coal mine per se nor do I plan to enter one. I have never been employed by or affiliated with a mining company. Also, all of the negativity that comes with coal mining — the environmental damage, occupational hazards and so forth — I really can’t get behind any of that. And I vote counter to the interests of the mining corporations. But, yes, I am a coal miner.

        • wtfwjtd

          You make some good points here Matthew, but in defense of James, sometimes we just make try and make the best of our personal circumstances. What I see here is James espousing a form of cultural Christianity, and I’m sure he has his reasons. There are plenty of parts of the US where declaring outright disbelief can turn you instantly into a social pariah, get you ostracized from your family, and in some cases, even fired from your employment. I can see plenty of places that cultural Christianity could be useful, and as a self-defense mechanism especially I can respect that. It would be nice if we all had the freedom to express ourselves and our true feelings, but we don’t all have that luxury. Sometimes, it’s prudent to err on the side of some obscurity, if only for the sake of self-preservation.

        • Matthew Alton

          Sometimes, it’s prudent to err on the side of some obscurity…

          Fair enough. I have no respect for this practice but it does have its ardent adherents. There is also Daniel Dennett’s “belief in belief” crowd — too smart to believe in myth but daft enough to believe that belief in myth is a worthy goal, so they fake it. Such notions are foreign to me.

        • wtfwjtd

          “belief in belief” is a bridge too far for me, I won’t go there. But I also acknowledge there are a substantial number of people for whom the questions of the existence and/or actions of god just aren’t very important, and for a lot of these folks it’s a lot easier to go along to get along. Personally, I try to be as transparent as possible, and since we have lots of friends and family heavily steeped in religion I generally don’t intentionally bring the subject up. But I won’t duck the hard questions either, and if asked directly I won’t lie about how I feel.

        • hector_jones

          There is something to be said for this if James Walker were saying these things to us in a public discussion in his local diner that could be overheard by his christian neighbors. But I don’t think any of it really applies to the internet, particularly this blog.

          I suppose your point is that James can’t help but post these views here too, because he truly believes what he says, even if it is a massive rationalization for him to claim to be a christian while believing as little as possible of standard christian dogma.

        • Kodie

          I think of it like a big rug, and the main thing is staying on the rug, the floor is lava. I watched a TED talk by some Christian talking about 9/11 and the Thai tsunami, and he went on and on and on about what god may be like when I came to think of it like this. In times of grief, when Christians do not have any better answers, god is just as sad as we are and he comforts us by listening… something like that. I had another thought about this, how “god” appears in the aftermath of a disaster. People rally to help each other through, and that is allegedly god’s presence. We ask where was he before, why did he allow this to happen, why didn’t he step in and prevent it, and it’s all brushed away with look at all the people coming together, that’s him!

        • wtfwjtd

          Many people just aren’t that interested in questions regarding the existence of god or religion, and aren’t interested in a deeper look. I was that way for a couple of decades or so before I de-converted; I clung to a basic vague belief in Christianity, mainly for reasons of local and personal convenience. At the time, it made my life a lot easier, I felt, and was pretty effortless. Then, my life’s circumstances changed fairly drastically over the period of a few years, and I decided to take a closer look. And, partly as a result of those changed circumstances, as well as a renewed commitment to rationality, I allowed my belief system to evolve as well, following the evidence where it led.

      • James Walker

        my Christianity is not dependent on a supernatural resurrection event.

        the early followers of Christ clearly believed that he literally died and literally came back from the grave. I’m not sure that’s what actually took place, and it’s not relevant to me. regardless, it’s been 2,000 years. Jesus is quite clearly dead and no longer inhabits this earth.

        • wtfwjtd

          Ok, thanks for the clarification.

    • MNb

      “can’t do those things”
      Then your god is not omnipotent.

      • James Walker

        I neither need nor want God to have that attribute.

        • MNb

          I like that.

        • Malu Ribeiro

          “so why call it god” Epicurius

        • MNb

          That never has struck me as a particular good question, especially as Epicurus was familiar with the Greek Pantheon which consisted of many gods. None of them were omnipotent.

        • James Walker

          did you know that quote is incorrectly attributed to Epicurus by Hume and by Lactantius before him? =)

          I think the question itself is framed poorly and I asked my reframed version above. why do we assume the onus to cure humanity’s ills rests with God?

          haven’t we evolved beyond needing supernatural recourse for natural problems?

        • Kodie

          Then Christians should stop crediting god for fixing any problems at all. I think the problem is that most Christians attest to god intervening in their lives in ridiculously minor ways, on the grand scale of things, and in pretty major ways for individuals who survive diseases or walk away from car crashes, etc. This is not something an atheist expects any god to do, it’s what we are asking the god who grants small favors to Christians who claim his intervention in our lives, or actually the question is for those Christians. If that’s not you, don’t answer the question.

        • James Walker

          err.. so, I shouldn’t have bothered commenting here at all because I’m not the right sort of Christian this blog article was aimed at?

          it didn’t exactly have a disclaimer to that effect, you know?

          but if I’m not welcome here, I’ll gladly go my merry way.

        • Kodie

          Well, instead of pressuring atheists why we expect so much of god, why not ask your fellow Christians why they make unsupported claims of god having nothing better to do than perform parlor tricks? I never said you weren’t welcome to take part in the conversation, but you are being defensive as well. A lot of Christians participate by describing their particular take on Christianity as differing from the “accusation” for lack of a better word, and confront the criticism from a point of view that’s not being criticized. If you have wormed your way out of the problem of evil by not expecting anything from god in the first place, you were already called on that (mostly because it came up earlier in the thread), but try to understand here. Christians seem off-put and confused that anyone would criticize god, really doesn’t understand god the individual, personal way they understand god.

          God is perfect no matter who you ask. As far as I can tell, this is another tactic of evasion. If I’m not happy with the character god that I’m criticizing, of course all that’s needed is a fresh understanding of god from another Christian. All we need is to understand god is more like this and not like that at all, then we’ll know god, and then we won’t have criticism. We’re criticizing claims, ok? Christians make them. If you aren’t making that claim, if you’ve rationalized it away to keep your faith intact, we aren’t criticizing you for your claims.

        • James Walker

          I do regularly challenge and get challenged by other Christians over these very issues you bring up, and defend my view of God to them and my view that conscientious atheists are in many ways better examples of living the way Jesus taught than a lot of Christians I meet.

          the point of my top-level post and of most of my comments has been that just as there is a tremendous and wonderful variety among people who don’t happen to believe in God, there is a similar variety and diversity among people who do. I would hope that by being here, I’ve helped some of you to have an appreciation of that and to understand it does none of us any good to try and compartmentalize people or to force “sides” in a discussion.

        • Kodie

          I don’t really mind you being here, and it helps a lot to know what the details of your personal version of Christianity are. Another part of the problem that I didn’t mention is that even though we’re taking on one criticism of god as portrayed by many if not most of his followers, doesn’t mean we don’t have any for you at some point, or any other Christian we meet along the way. I don’t think the problem of evil is concerning you at this point, but that doesn’t mean we just don’t understand god the right way.

          From an atheist point of view, I’d say most of the criticism we receive is that we just don’t understand it correctly, and if we just would, we would fall on our knees in worship. A constant remark is that we’re just mad at god, we don’t like his ways, his rules, or whatever, and we just need to understand better. The impression I get from most Christians is that they do not disagree fundamentally with any other Christian at least on an atheist blog, it’s all solidarity against atheists misunderstanding each of them and they are not out to correct each other very often if they happen to disagree. It’s just details and to each their own, apparently.

          The actual issue many of us have is with believers and their unfalsifiable claims, and also how they suppose their beliefs make them morally superior such that the rest of us have to defer to their superstition in our society and to dictate our laws. It’s my observation that beliefs don’t make any noticeable advantage in morality and often affect morals negatively, while they’re whipped up to fight for a cause they are told is good; their logic is for shit and their ability to recognize logical fallacies and gimmicks is for shit; some people are made more markedly stupid about a lot of things. Atheists can and do fall for some of the same traps, but we like to think we are able to alter course when new information is available and checks out.

        • James Walker

          amen, amen and amen. =)

          thanks for the clarification and have a wonderful night.

        • Malu Ribeiro

          Thank you for your correction, I’m so humbled!
          I didn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t write here, you’re free and welcome to participate I am sure.

          It’s just you don’t quite fit in with the issues brought up, they don’t apply to you; but maybe they do! I’m not convinced; you don’t make sense, I believe pretty much in what you believe but I don’t call myself a Christian because the cosmetics of Christianity seem superfluous, unnecessary even at your level of agnosticism of traditional religions, and if you were so wise, you’d come to the same conclusion. But you had good interactions, people learnt from you, it’s all good! Except that that is an issue, “they’ve learnt from you” – there’s a tone of superiority in your statements, including some didactic observations.
          The answer to your question is “No” (have evolved beyond need for the super-natural). And how insensitive of you to expect us to embrace the illness or loss of a child or being raped! (for example)

          I just quoted Epicurus for politeness (it”s not mine, ok, not his). He did express in writing his belief that if there’re gods, they’re not concerned with our issues. Which is exactly what “my” question implies. If there’s a primal mover for lack of a better term, indeed it seems incapable to help or indifferent of what we call suffering, it’s not good nor evil, it just IS, it’s the laws of nature, even before they were modeled laws, it has no means of controlling what seems to be getting out of hand both in the cosmos and on earth. Therefore, my question stands, why bother? Why call it god? Whoever came up with the whole so called Epicurus quote, the whole quote! was using logic and it is brilliant! Because the most important thing that no believer of any kind manages to satisfy us with, is what we perceive as suffering and evil from any source. The question has nothing to do with evolving beyond super-natural help as a Buddha, which we have not as a species!! Furthermore, how is a dying baby supposed to learn wisdom from this being or process that only wants us to go through all this for our own improvement/awareness? or, if we procreate, we’re bound to experience pain I don’t care how many Zen books we read! We don’t control much of nature and ourselves, but if there’s a god, it’s not of much help, that’s the quote’s point, which indeed seems more fit as a response to the Judaic-Christian tradition that brags about an omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent god which Epicurus could have been aware of (Judaism) but not likely to address.

          Another point: time and space started with the Big Ben, yes, its been proven for what we call universe, but we might be shortsighted by words and their limitations, there’s a “before” somehow even if lost in eternity or other universes; as a skeptic, I can’t be certain, but I can fathom numerous explanations. I find it amazing that even brilliant scientists get stuck on that one, when they just proved they stepped out of the human limitations of thinking!!
          The reason why your vision of Christ is similar to Buddha is because Christianity was a movement heavily influenced by Buddhism, and Christ is another version of Buddha (there’re authors that cover extensively the geographical, economic and historical reasons why that happened and they cover when/why the two diverge). No reply of yours to any people here makes logical sense – you “don’t need God to be omnipotent?” I want! I want a super-natural god I could ask favors to, to help so many people not just me! Jeez would I give an arm for a god, perhaps my life! There’s no indifferent god that would put us here to learn things its/our way, for self improvement!! that would be a cruel god indeed, it’d have made us wiser, why the process? we’d know the process!! Our very judgement to be able to improve would be a proof of our similarity to god, to a god that is not acting in mysterious ways, our own process of acquiring improvement would define god, our perceptions limit who god might be!! Only some gurus/monks/few out there have overcome the need for the super-natural, but even Buddha himself started to question ascetic or monastic life. There’s self-denial in Buddhism if applied too rigidly, there may be no suffering, but not real joy! how protected is the Dalai Lama in his own tradition? he himself speaks of romantic love with vagueness, he has not experienced so many things, so he cannot deny their marvels.
          Not to mention that since to resurrect, even literally, is a super-natural phenomena unless explainable by medicine (coma, mental disorder, etc), what happened to Christ after he resurrected literally? Because even for early Christians, he stayed around very briefly. Yes, there’re Gnostic gospels with different Christ lives, he even got married, but, which one to follow anyway? LOL
          I’m not impressed! Clinging onto some sort of tradition just to be part of a community or because you were born into it!?! we’re too independent thinking for that kind of thing. The variety in Christians is considerable, but not so much in this country; and it’s still infinitely smaller than all free-thinkers, secularists, agnostics, and skeptics. So I am at a loss of what you were trying to accomplish. To begin with that you try to come across as so rational and yet, the existence of Christ hasn’t even been proven scientifically or historically, so why would a person who admits not to need an omnipotent god, would still cling onto believing in a “historical” figure that demonstrates more wishful thinking on our part, than any form of certainty. If Christ stands for principals you wish to be reminded of, why not read Espinoza, or other guys we know existed and questioned life and our assertions rationally and don’t claim hysterically they were son of god or performed miracles? Buddha can be the one, except that to elevate the benefits of any individual to a pedestal or deity level, is to open the door to veneration, blindness and disappointment (if one is willing to see the truth in “its eyes” when it happens). So hey, of course, believe whatever you will, you seem quite irrational to me! Have a good one, Oh! illuminated one!

  • Malu Ribeiro

    Jesus has appeared to believers, or at least that’s what some say. And they have plenty of roundabout answers to your questions. Most explain things as “free will” (which now is been proven doesn’t really exist) and that gets us in trouble etc. I’m sorry but it’s impossible, your questions are rational, they’re not! we’ve asked these questions through the ages, they just BS themselves and us.

  • guest

    1. We live in a fallen world
    2. because we’re not doing our duty. There is enough food to feed everybody and God has made his wishes perfectly clear. If someone is starving, don’t ask, where is God? Ask ‘what should I be doing to help them’?
    3.God had to tailor his message so the people of the time would understand it. The basic message of Genesis is still true; God is the creator of everything.
    4. There is nobody good in this world. We all get what we deserve. Jesus is the only way out.
    5.Jesus has appeared to me many times. He’s walked by my side through the hard times. He’s always there when you need him: you just have to open your heart and let him in.

    • 90Lew90

      So:

      1. People (and the world) are shit.
      2. Ditto.
      3. People are stupid.
      4. People are shit.
      5. I’m a bit crazy.

      ?? Am I there yet?

    • Pofarmer

      fallen from what? Some proof for your assertion 1 would be nice.

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

      I think Lew nailed it, but a few more thoughts.

      These are yet more rationalizations. The simple and obvious explanation: there is no god.

      because we’re not doing our duty. There is enough food to feed everybody and God has made his wishes perfectly clear.

      Many denominations will tell you that your purpose here isn’t to do good works but to understand and worship God. It’s “perfectly clear” to them that putting all your effort into helping others is a misspent life.

      If someone is starving, don’t ask, where is God?

      Let’s stay on topic. When the question is “Is there a god?” the existence of starving people is a clue. No.

      3.God had to tailor his message so the people of the time would understand it.

      “Don’t enslave people” and “don’t genocide people” would’ve been hard for them to understand?

      4. There is nobody good in this world. We all get what we deserve.

      Unintentionally hilarious. We broast in hell because we’re imperfect? The way God made us? What a dick.

      5.Jesus has appeared to me many times.

      Tell him to drop by. I work at home, so my schedule is pretty flexible.

      He’s always there when you need him: you just have to open your heart and let him in.

      Like Hobbes is to Calvin?

    • Kodie

      This is just dogma. These are the answers you’re given when you ask, and we can’t help that you’re satisfied with them, but they’re not answers a thinking person would be satisfied with.

    • hector_jones

      What if I opened my heart and Xenu walked in?

      • JohnH2

        Then you spend your life savings and sell your body parts to gather enough money to buy all the Scientology books and get rid of him. Or you assume some form of pluralism and visit every church and religion that practices some form of exorcism and try and get rid of him that way, which is probably cheaper.

        • hector_jones

          Woosh.

        • JohnH2

          Just trying to be funny.

        • hector_jones

          It would have made me laugh if you were a skeptic. But coming from someone who believes nonsense every bit as ridiculous as Xenu, it’s just sad.

        • JohnH2

          If you say so.

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

        I opened my heart to the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli once, and he took it.

        • wtfwjtd

          Didn’t that kinda hurt a little?

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

          I’m a generous guy. And he is the sun god, after all.

  • 90Lew90

    The “problem of evil” is, I think, over-egged. It is at its knottiest for the individual who chooses to believe in a benevolent god, and it is his religious forebears who have produced so much superfluous thought on it. Some of that thought, it must be admitted, is brilliant — Iranaeus, Augustine, and as someone mentioned below, Dostoevsky for instance. Of the latter, the quote often attributed to him: “If God is dead, everything is permitted”, doesn’t actually appear in The Brothers Karamazov, as anyone who has read it and paid attention will know, though it does capture the flavour of the book. Dostoevsky’s hand-wringing is typical and symptomatic of the kind of wasted brilliance that the concerns wrought by religion bring about. What if those minds were put to better use?

    The “problem” of evil is quite satisfactorily explained by evolutionary theory on at least two fronts (that I can think of as a non-specialist). The first and most simple explanation is that life is a struggle. This is easily forgotten when one lives in relative comfort, working for pay and with a roof over one’s head. For others it is excruciatingly clear; the picture above of the starving child watched over by a vulture is very apt. Not many are happy with their lot, such is the human condition subjected to the quotidian, but it is salutary to think that though you may not have all you want, what you have comes not from the whim of a benevolent god, but from the accrual of human cooperation. It is other people to whom you owe thanks, not to a god. As an atheist, I feel something of a duty to try to know these people by reading as widely as possible in history, philosophy, popular science and literature. God did not make the chair you’re sitting on any more than God made the keyboard you’re sitting at or the fingers you use to type on it.

    Following from the fact that life is a struggle is the fact that people get hurt. Bad things happen to people all the time and we can never be sure how they will process or construe their experiences. In criminology, psychology and sociology, the orthodox approach to acts which in the past would have been deemed “evil” is now to investigate the perpetrators of those acts. Initially this was to better understand “evil” itself, but by looking “evil” in the face, as it were, we have come to see that in individuals “evil” is most often committed by people who have themselves been deeply hurt. This is a compassionate view. This is a humanistic view. “Evil” also irrupts out of ignorance, and religion is a wellspring of ignorance. “Why do good people do bad things? That takes religion.” So we have witch-burnings and suicide bombers and crusades from very pious people. In the religious view, tied up with the fallacious notion of free-will, both “good” and “evil” are seen as extrinsic to the individual. “Good” is from God. “Evil” is from Satan (or whoever). So we have exorcisms. In all of this a vital part of the human being — indeed, of every living thing — is cast into limbo. This fallacious view itself defies the notion of free will. If all that is good comes from God, and evil is the work of Satan, then what is all this natter about us having “free” will? Are we not, in this view, constantly under the influence, however far removed, of forces outside of ourselves? Nice conundrum and a question which should produce much more obscurantism from apologists. (Isn’t it interesting that the one thing apologists never do is simply apologise.) The idea of free-will misses the simpler point that everything about an individual is contingent. Everything we think and do is contingent. If you are thoroughly indoctrinated the chances are you will be religious, especially if the indoctrinators get you when you’re young. Thus, religious people can’t keep their hands off kids. Contingency — the evolutionary view — ousts the incongruous notion of “free-will” and makes a lot more sense. It also leads to a more compassionate way of looking at so-called evil. I am firmly of the belief that the better we understand ourselves and our world, the less “evil” there will be in it, and the happier people will be.

    In this view I depart sharply from the basic doctrine of the Abrahamic religions, which is that people are shit. Isn’t it striking that in the West, the more godless we have become, the more we have prospered? The less violent we have become (see Stephen Pinker), the more compassionate we have become? It certainly strikes me. Today in Northern Ireland’s biggest regional paper I read that the First Minister of the part of the world I call home has endorsed a firebrand pastor who has announced from a pulpit that Islam is a faith from hell. Not content with hating catholics and bringing about more than 400 years of strife here, these Calvinists now have the knives out for Muslims who have recently moved here. Polish people (because they’re probably Catholic) are being intimidated out of their homes. Black people are being intimidated out because of the sympathy with the far right that these people tend to have. Ulster is British, and to these people’s minds, British means white.

    I may have rambled, but to me, in all of this the human being is lost. The individual is lost. I’ve said enough, I think, but I’ll leave you with a quote from that most misunderstood, and astute, and humanistic of philosophers, Nietzsche. Here, he captures beautifully and boldly and powerfully the plain fact that life is in flux, not static, as the religious would have us believe. Life in the individual and on the grand, whole scale, evolves. Nietzsche is easy to misunderstand if you have been brought up — even if you’re now atheist — in a Christian culture. If you find he sends a chill down your spine, wonder why that might be. Could it be that it’s because the undercurrent of your culture inculcates in you the impression that people are shit? Then wonder at how un-baptised babies, dogs, horses, bonobos (and for all we know, earthworms), exhibit moral sense.

    “Whoever uncovers morality also uncovers the disvalue of all values that are and have been believed; he no longer sees anything venerable in the most venerated types of man, even in those pronounced holy; he considers them the most calamitous type of abortion—calamitous because they exerted such fascination.

    The concept of “God” invented as a counterconcept of life—everything harmful, poisonous, slanderous, the whole hostility unto death against life synthesized in this concept in a gruesome unity! The concept of the “beyond,” the “true world” invented in order to devaluate the only world there is—in order to retain no goal, no reason, no task for our earthly reality! The concept of the “soul,” the “spirit,” finally even “immortal soul,” invented in order to despise the body, to make it sick, “holy”; to oppose with a ghastly levity everything that deserves to be taken seriously in life, the questions of nourishment, abode, spiritual diet, treatment of the sick, cleanliness, and weather.

    In place of health, the “salvation of the soul”—that is, a folie circulaire [manic-depressive insanity] between penitential convulsions and hysteria about redemption. The concept of “sin” invented along with the torture instrument that belongs with it, the concept of “free will,” in order to confuse the instincts, to make mistrust of the instincts second nature. In the concept of the “selfless,” the “self-denier,” the distinctive sign of decadence, feeling attracted by what is harmful, being unable to find any longer what profits one, self-destruction is turned into the sign of value itself, into “duty,” into “holiness,” into what is “divine” in man. Finally—this is what is most terrible of all—the concept of the good man signifies that one sides with all that is weak, sick, failure, suffering of itself—all that ought to perish: the principle of selection is crossed—an ideal is fabricated from the contradiction against the proud and well-turned-out human being who says Yes, who is sure of the future, who guarantees the future—and he is now called evil.— And all this was believed, as morality!— Ecrasez l’infame!—— [Voltaire’s motto: “Crush the infamy!”]”

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

      Yes, a tad long, but helpful and relevant insights, thanks.

      • CodyGirl824

        90Lew90,

        You say this:

        “The concept of the “beyond,” the “true world” invented in order to devaluate the only world there is—in order to retain no goal, no reason, no task for our earthly reality! The concept of the “soul,” the “spirit,” finally even “immortal soul,” invented in order to despise the body, to make it sick, “holy”; to oppose with a ghastly levity everything that deserves to be taken seriously in life, the questions of nourishment, abode, spiritual diet, treatment of the sick, cleanliness, and weather.”

        This comment and analysis of the reasoning behind the concept of God and its meaning reflects a profound misunderstanding of Judaism and Christianity. It is your concept of God that is wounded, not the concept of God from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

        • 90Lew90

          You didn’t read what I wrote. That was Nietzsche. Attributed. But I’m very flattered that you thought I could match him. Pay attention. And don’t give me the you-hate-god line. Please.

        • CodyGirl824

          Obviously, you offered a quote from Nietzsche in support of your argument against Christianity. I don’t know whether or not you hate God. I merely observe your misunderstanding of what Judaism and Christianity teach about the dignity and value of each and every human being. Nietzsche is as wrong about this as you are.

        • 90Lew90

          I would vouch that it’s you who has misunderstood, particularly given your daft contributions on this site. But we’ll agree to differ. I have to wonder though; do you accept that Christianity and Judaism — you forgot Islam in this — teach that the world, and humanity, is fallen? Since you obviously can’t dispute this, what is your understanding of “fallen” humanity? Luther and Calvin construe that as meaning that man is depraved. To be depraved is not to be dignified. The “dignity” of human life as understood in the Abrahamic religions is not intrinsic to that life but is derived from the *potential* of the individual to worship the creator god properly, thus pleasing the god. I’d dearly love a more robust challenge from you.

        • coeumo

          *crickets chirping*

        • TheSquirrel

          “I merely observe your misunderstanding of what Judaism and Christianity
          teach about the dignity and value of each and every human being.”
          I seem to recall them saying girls are worth a couple of shekels…

      • 90Lew90

        Sorry but I was tired and had taken a little drink. Hic!

  • Malu Ribeiro

    To James Walker:
    I don’t know where my other reply is. I didn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t write here, you’re free and welcome to participate I am sure.

    It’s just you don’t quite fit in with the issues brought up, they don’t apply to you; but maybe they do! I’m not convinced; you don’t make sense, I believe pretty much in what you believe but I don’t call myself a Christian because the cosmetics of Christianity seem superfluous, unnecessary even at your level of agnosticism of traditional religions, and if you were so wise, you’d come to the same conclusion. But you had good interactions, people learnt from you, it’s all good! Except that that is an issue, “they’ve learnt from you” – there’s a tone of superiority in your statements, including some didactic observations.
    The answer to your question is “No” (have evolved beyond need for the super-natural). And how insensitive of you to expect us to embrace the illness or loss of a child or being raped! (for example)

    I just quoted Epicurus for politeness (it”s not mine, ok, not his). He did express in writing his belief that if there’re gods, they’re not concerned with our issues. Which is exactly what “my” question implies. If there’s a primal mover for lack of a better term, indeed it seems incapable to help or indifferent of what we call suffering, it’s not good nor evil, it just IS, it’s the laws of nature, even before they were modeled laws, it has no means of controlling what seems to be getting out of hand both in the cosmos and on earth. Therefore, my question stands, why bother? Why call it god? Whoever came up with the whole so called Epicurus quote, the whole quote! was using logic and it is brilliant! Because the most important thing that no believer of any kind manages to satisfy us with, is what we perceive as suffering and evil from any source. The question has nothing to do with evolving beyond super-natural help as a Buddha, which we have not as a species!! Furthermore, how is a dying baby supposed to learn wisdom from this being or process that only wants us to go through all this for our own improvement/awareness? or, if we procreate, we’re bound to experience pain I don’t care how many Zen books we read! We don’t control much of nature and ourselves, but if there’s a god, it’s not of much help, that’s the quote’s point, which indeed seems more fit as a response to the Judaic-Christian tradition that brags about an omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent god which Epicurus could have been aware of (Judaism) but not likely to address.

    Another point: time and space started with the Big Ben, yes, its been proven for what we call universe, but we might be shortsighted by words and their limitations, there’s a “before” somehow even if lost in eternity or other universes; as a skeptic, I can’t be certain, but I can fathom numerous explanations. I find it amazing that even brilliant scientists get stuck on that one, when they just proved they stepped out of the human limitations of thinking!!
    The reason why your vision of Christ is similar to Buddha is because Christianity was a movement heavily influenced by Buddhism, and Christ is another version of Buddha (there’re authors that cover extensively the geographical, economic and historical reasons why that happened and they cover when/why the two diverge). No reply of yours to any people here makes logical sense – you “don’t need God to be omnipotent?” I want! I want a super-natural god I could ask favors to, to help so many people not just me! Jeez would I give an arm for a god, perhaps my life! There’s no indifferent god that would put us here to learn things its/our way, for self improvement!! that would be a cruel god indeed, it’d have made us wiser, why the process? we’d know the process!! Our very judgement to be able to improve would be a proof of our similarity to god, to a god that is not acting in mysterious ways, our own process of acquiring improvement would define god, our perceptions limit who god might be!! Only some gurus/monks/few out there have overcome the need for the super-natural, but even Buddha himself started to question ascetic or monastic life. There’s self-denial in Buddhism if applied too rigidly, there may be no suffering, but not real joy! how protected is the Dalai Lama in his own tradition? he himself speaks of romantic love with vagueness, he has not experienced so many things, so he cannot deny their marvels.
    Not to mention that since to resurrect, even literally, is a super-natural phenomena unless explainable by medicine (coma, mental disorder, etc), what happened to Christ after he resurrected literally? Because even for early Christians, he stayed around very briefly. Yes, there’re Gnostic gospels with different Christ lives, he even got married, but, which one to follow anyway? LOL
    I’m not impressed! Clinging onto some sort of tradition just to be part of a community or because you were born into it!?! we’re too independent thinking for that kind of thing. The variety in Christians is considerable, but not so much in this country; and it’s still infinitely smaller than all free-thinkers, secularists, agnostics, and skeptics. So I am at a loss of what you were trying to accomplish. To begin with that you try to come across as so rational and yet, the existence of Christ hasn’t even been proven scientifically or historically, so why would a person who admits not to need an omnipotent god, would still cling onto believing in a “historical” figure that demonstrates more wishful thinking on our part, than any form of certainty. If Christ stands for principals you wish to be reminded of, why not read Espinoza, or other guys we know existed and questioned life and our assertions rationally and don’t claim hysterically they were son of god or performed miracles? Buddha can be the one, except that to elevate the benefits of any individual to a pedestal or deity level, is to open the door to veneration, blindness and disappointment (if one is willing to see the truth in “its eyes” when it happens). So hey, of course, believe whatever you will, you seem quite irrational to me! Have a good one, Oh! illuminated one!

  • $105158253

    What a pitiful post. Sad.

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

      Awesome! This is the very kind of comment that helps me hone my skills. I’m not too proud to admit that I make mistakes, and your careful enumeration of them will help me prevent them in the future.

      Many thanks, brother!

      • $105158253

        Ok great! After all people come here expecting clear thinking right
        . Its in your tag line no? Keep trying!

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

          And yet more pointed wisdom! It is true: everyone is a teacher, and your content-rich comments are far wiser than most.

        • $105158253

          You are consistent at least. Not much but something.

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

          I’ll return the compliment. Unfortunately, it’s not a compliment. An empty drive-by makes me conclude that you’d give specific criticism if you had any … but you don’t. Sad.

        • $105158253

          Poor Bob. Doesn’t know he lost long ago the moment he rejected God.

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

          I keep thinking that you’ll be embarrassed into actually making an argument to defend your beliefs. I keep being disappointed.

        • $105158253

          That’s funny! You I don’t even recognize how embarrassed you should be to put out such drivel and you are worried about me? I guess its always better to shift focus away from the self so you don’t have to deal with reality. Just wow!

        • MNb

          “I guess its always better to shift focus away from the self so you don’t have to deal with reality.”
          This fully applies to you – not to BobS.

        • $105158253

          Yet another who has no concept of the truth.

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

          Snap!! Who’s got a response to that one, eh?

          Nice one, bro!

        • MNb

          Truth is for arrogant believers like you. I’m more modest and have learned to live with (scientific) uncertainties.
          Way too many have been killed in the name of the truth – yours and the truth of others.

        • $105158253

          Truth doesn’t need your approval or your understanding to be true.

        • MNb

          Strawman. I never wrote that truth needs my approval or understanding. I wrote that it is for arrogant believers like you. A strawman is a form of bearing false witness. Even when talking about truth you fail to provide it.
          Good job well done.

        • $105158253

          Says someone who obviously has no concept of the truth. Well done!

        • Kodie

          Are you trying to troll, or do you have something important to say?

        • Kodie

          I think you lost long ago the moment you were fooled there was a god. But you haven’t stated any arguments, intelligent or otherwise. You’re a shallow critic. Apparently, you’re a believer, but you are not interested in debate, you are only interested in looking down your arrogant nose at non-believers. Maybe quit while you are ahead – we’ve already answered whatever your arguments are in this thread. Is it too hard for you to read some of them?

          I also think it is a waste of your Christianity to post vague comments on how pitiful and sad we all are, since we’re not, but you would not know, since you never read beyond your own comment. You’re not serving a purpose either way, and nobody is affected by your opinion since all we know is you have some kind of superiority complex.

    • TheSquirrel

      Yes, your post is pitiful.
      Sad.

      • $105158253

        And a new contender arrives. Well done sir! Yours is the most pitiful!

  • http://MyFutureMother.com Mika’el

    No, Yeshua did NOT appear to Saul of Tarsus (#5). If you really knew how to read “ACTS” you would realize that 1. Saul lied three times about that supposed encounter, 2. the ‘Spirit’ denounced him and 3. He chose ROME over the truth and went out from the true UNITY (1 John 2:19). I am just so amazed that the world is still under the specter of the Teacher of Lies – the Roman vicar

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

      I’m missing your agenda. What position are you coming from and what’s your problem with Paul?

      If you really knew how to read “ACTS”

      What is your reliable method for reading the Bible correctly?

      • TheSquirrel

        As for a “reliable method for reading the Bible correctly”, I find a stiff drink, comfortable clothes and a sense of humor and a marker are sufficient to enjoy this ancient work of fiction.

      • http://MyFutureMother.com Mika’el

        My ‘agenda’ is the truth, in fixing the breach. What you should be asking yourself is what was the ‘agenda’ of Caesar when he placed these writings of Saul (referred to as the ‘enemy of mine’ and the ‘antichrist’ by the Apostles) into his testament. I want to free the world, Caesar only wanted to control the world and divide it up.

        My reliable method… I look at it through the proper basis –

        Religions of men were created by men for the benefit of men.
        In the heavens there is no religion only the adoration of God.
        You are in the heavens.
        -Kelaiah

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

          Given your kant-fail method for biblical interpretation, I’m surprised everyone hasn’t gotten to the same page you are on. Wherever that is.

        • http://MyFutureMother.com Mika’el

          Ouch… so when you fail on the truth you have to get personal? There is nothing Kantian about my ‘page’ or the truth within my testimony.

          I guess I shouldn’t quote Isaiah either when he stated 2600 years ago that God was tired of people whining and always wanting things but never really living by the Teachings. That alone would answer your other questions.

          If the heart of man was hardened in Moses’ time, just how much more so today?

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

          I wasn’t referring to Kant. That was a deliberate misspelling of “can’t.”

          You have a way you like to find truth in the Bible and others have their ways. It’s a sock puppet that says whatever you want it to.

        • http://MyFutureMother.com Mika’el

          Transference… good move! Why do you think the world has slipped into darkness? The Light is made into darkness by the sock puppet so that the world cannot see the true Light… I like that! It kinda makes the delusions of Rome fun… Thank you!

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

          Yes, this is indeed fun. You’ll have to clue me in on how transference works its way into the conversation.

        • http://MyFutureMother.com Mika’el

          You tell me that I am using a ‘sock puppet’ because you do not recognize my authority nor the Truth (not my truth or a slant on the truth) when in reality you have the ‘sock puppet’ on your hand… Transference.

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

          Doesn’t help me understand my use of transference.

        • KarlUdy

          I think Mika’el is a gnostic. Either that or a troll. Or both.

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

          Thanks. I guess he’s too embarrassed to state his position himself.

        • Austin

          Yes it is!

    • Lbj

      You are lying when claim that Jesus did not appear to Paul. You need to show some facts that Jesus did not appear to him and that the apostles also believed that Jesus did not appear to Paul either.

      • http://MyFutureMother.com Mika’el

        I could do this all day brother…

        I’ve already given the quote of John.

        In a letter from Peter to James (a letter that Rome denies), Peter called Saul the ‘enemy of mine’ and was so afraid of his teachings because the world would be lost in ‘error’.

        Re-read “Acts” and you will see how the 3 accounts of Saul differ (truth is always consistent). How Saul had ‘visions’ in the desert and the secret chamber. How Saul was denied by the Spirit. How Saul did great ‘signs and wonders’. How Saul denied the ‘brotherhood’ for Caesar. The author of “Acts” was showing how Saul was not one of them…

        These events were even foretold in Matthew… (it also explains why Joseph Smith was mistaken too. Oh my…)

        Matthew 24

        23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not.
        24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
        25 Behold, I have told you before.
        26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not.
        27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

        • Lbj

          You don’t have a good grasp of Scripture nor how to interpret it. It is not necessary nor untruthful for Paul-Acts to give identical accounts for Paul’s encounter with Christ on the Damascus road. What is necessary is that the core events are the same.

          If Paul was a false apostle the apostles would not have accepted him nor would have the early church included his letters in the NT canon.

          You still have to show that Jesus did not appear to Paul on the Damascus road.

        • http://MyFutureMother.com Mika’el

          Eeks… you didn’t just say that?? There is nothing else but consistency within the Truth. Inconsistency is born of delusion…

          And, because I do not follow the vomit of Rome and interpret it the way they tell people to interpret it, I am wrong? We are in the end times and soon the world will understand the truth about Rome…

          7 of the 13 ‘letters’ attributed to Saul have different authors than the other 6 – FACT. The Romans have inserted many things into the original writings – FACT (See ‘comma Johanneum’ and research the differences in various sects compilations of these texts).

          As then as it is now, we are ALL children of the living God. The Apostles gave him many chances to be with them. Saul, in the end, was given a choice by James. Saul chose Rome over Jerusalem… even when he went into Rome, the brotherhood neither acknowledged him nor spoke badly of him because he ‘didn’t exist’ to them any more. This was a common practice amongst the people of his day. To truly understand you must know the society, language, vernacular and techniques of the writer…

          Acts 28
          21 And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.

        • $105158253

          Speaking of vomit….

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

          It would help if you’d define what denomination/school/whatever you’re coming from since what you’re saying makes little sense.

        • http://MyFutureMother.com Mika’el

          What I am saying makes little sense to the uninitiated. If you knew my authority you still would not believe it within the delusion you entertain. Empty yourself that you may be filled…

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

          “Don’t bother” is what I’m hearing. OK, works for me.

        • Pofarmer

          Shit man, we’ve been in the end times for 4.5 billions years. It’s all gonna come crashing down someday. Probably not your day, though.

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

          truth is always consistent

          This doesn’t seem like a smart play on your part. The Bible is full of inconsistencies. The simplest resolution: they were written by fallible men who told a changing story rather than men inspired by an unchanging truth.

        • http://MyFutureMother.com Mika’el

          Eeks… the Truth has no inconsistencies.

          I never said the Roman testament wasn’t flawed, nor did I say it was the truth…

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

          And you remain an enigma. Is secrecy part of your agenda or do you remove your mask and tell us your position ever?

  • Lbj

    “1. Why won’t God heal amputees?” How do you know He hasn’t at some time in history? After all, He gave sight to the blind, cured lepers and raised the dead. Healing an amputee would be no problem for God.

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

      You’re right–I don’t know for sure that God hasn’t. However, there’s no good evidence that he has; therefore, the objective observer concludes that this line of reasoning points to no god.

      As for giving sight to the blind, etc., we don’t know that. What we have are stories of such things. And supernatural tales are pretty much a dime a dozen.

      • Lbj

        Supernatural tales maybe a dime a dozen but that does not mean the miracles in the gospels did not happen. The evidence for the resurrection of Christ is very strong and it does point to God.

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

          “Yeah, but we don’t know for sure that the gospel miracles didn’t happen” is a pathetic argument. Don’t use it.

          No, the evidence for the resurrection is very poor. Search on this blog for more.

    • Pofarmer

      And Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox made the Grand Tetons in a wrestling match.

  • Lbj

    “How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? Jesus is imaginary.” is a very bad argument. If we used such reasoning in other areas of life we would know almost nothing.

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

      You’re not making sense. “Jesus is imaginary” is my response, based on the evidence, to this (and all the other) questions. It is far simpler and more plausible. The God hypothesis fails.

  • SirThinkALot

    1. God isnt obligated to answer prayers. Its not a ‘magic incantation’ that obligates God to grant whatever you request.

    2. This is actually a good question, one that I will be honest I dont have a good answer to. I will say that its part of Christian obligation(one that we consistently fail at) to help people in need.

    3. Its a combination of the fact that the Bible was never meant as a scientific text book with the fact that it was not written directly by God.

    4. Nowhere are Christians promised a ‘good life’ in exchange for faith. So I dont know why we would expect it.

    5. A better question would be ‘Why would I expect Jesus to appear to me?’ He’s not obligated to, I’m not a prophet(at least I havent been called as one yet), and nowhere are we promised direct communication with Jesus or the Father, but only ‘indirect’ communication through the Holy Spirit.

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

      Though I applaud the sentiment, I’m not sure Sir ThinkALot has thought a lot about his answers.

      1. God isnt obligated to answer prayers. Its not a ‘magic incantation’ that obligates God to grant whatever you request.

      That’s not what Jesus said. Remember “Ask and ye shall receive” and all that?

      I will say that its part of Christian obligation(one that we consistently fail at) to help people in need.

      It’s weird how Christians feel the need to step in to help the poor, sad, omnipotent Creator of the Universe®. God can’t stand up for himself?

      Let’s let God face the music himself without apologizing for him.

      3. Its a combination of t he fact that the Bible was never meant as a scientific text book

      Not really. If the Bible never touched on things or skipped over them (“God created everything” and that’s it, for example), your argument would hold. That the Bible parrots the flawed cosmological myths of other cultures is damning.

      4. Nowhere are Christians promised a ‘good life’ in exchange for faith. So I dont know why we would expect it.

      I agree, though this is yet one more opportunity for Christianity to actually have evidence of its truth where it fails.

      5. A better question would be ‘Why would I expect Jesus to appear to me?’

      Same answer as #4.

      nowhere are we promised direct communication with Jesus or the Father, but only ‘indirect’ communication through the Holy Spirit.

      So instead of evidence, we’re obliged to extrapolate God’s existence and presence from vague, ambiguous clues. That’s certainly not what I would expect from someone so smart as God and so eager to have a relationship with us. “I love you to pieces, but you’re just going to have to find your way to me on your own. Sorry.”

      • SirThinkALot

        “That the Bible parrots the flawed cosmological myths of other cultures is damning.”

        Not really this goes back to the ‘not directly written/dictated by God’ thing(which you edited out). I actually have no problem with the idea that the Bible contains some legends that may be even be related to stores told in other cultures(although to say it ‘directly parrots’ them is a bit of stretch.

        “That’s certainly not what I would expect from someone so smart as God and so eager to have a relationship with us.”

        Just so you know. I hate that whole ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ nonsense with a passion.

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

          I actually have no problem with the idea that the Bible contains some legends that may be even be related to stores told in other cultures

          So the Bible is full of meaningless crap that ordinary, fallible people stuck in there? How do you tell the crap from the good stuff that God did authorize?

        • SirThinkALot

          “So the Bible is full of meaningless crap that ordinary, fallible people stuck in there? How do you tell the crap from the good stuff that God did authorize?”

          A better question is, “Why does something have to be literally true and completely unique to be authorized by God?”

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

          No, I like mine better.

          You have a book that you say is a mixture of crap (my word for legendary explanations for scientific questions) and truth. How do you tell which is which?

        • SirThinkALot

          The short answer is: Study and thinking.

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

          A very unreliable algorithm, as I noted in my most recent post. Fred Phelps, John Shelby Spong, and Pope Francis will interpret things very differently.

          Your own algorithm gives us the Tower of Babel Christianity we see today.

        • SirThinkALot

          People have differing views, therefore…what? Whats your point here?

          Also, I dont think Fred Phelps was the most well educated man.

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

          My point (obviously) is that everyone makes the Bible into a sock puppet. If you’re simply saying that you do the same thing, great–we’re on the same page.

          But don’t you imagine that there is a reliable way (that’s clear to thoughtful people) that the Bible can be interpreted.

        • SirThinkALot

          I dont think is ‘a’ way that ‘the’ Bible can be interpreted. Because frankly there is no ‘the’ Bible. There is a collection of 66(or more) separate books we call ‘The Bible.’

          But those 66 books are written by separate people, come from different time periods, and span the gamut of genres from legal documents, to poetry to historical annals to apocalyptic writings. Each of which has to be understood in completely different ways.

          So, yea understanding the Bible is going to be complicated, going to take some work, and there are some parts that may never be understood in full. Given that, I’d be more shocked if people didnt come to wildly differing understandings of it. Still not seeing what that proves other than ‘people disagree.’

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

          So, yea understanding the Bible is going to be complicated

          If we’re simply approaching this anthropologically or historically, sure. But if there’s the guiding hand of an all-loving God who desperately wants us to understand his Fabulous Plan®? No, that would be simple enough that unsophisticated Israelites 3000 years ago could get it.

          there are some parts that may never be understood in full

          Ah, the “I’ll add that to my list of things to ask God when I see him in heaven” gambit.

          No, the theological purpose of the Bible is to help people here and now. There’s no point for it to have a message understandable only when you get into heaven.

          Still not seeing what that proves other than ‘people disagree.’

          That any argument prefaced by “The Bible makes clear that …” is a joke.

        • SirThinkALot

          “But if there’s the guiding hand of an all-loving God who desperately wants us to understand his Fabulous Plan®?”

          Who’s to say God expects us to understand his plan. Hell thats, what faith is, trusting God even without knowing what he is going to do.

          “No, the theological purpose of the Bible is to help people here and now. ”

          Why do we need complete knowledge in the here and now?

          “There’s no point for it to have a message understandable only when you get into heaven.”

          What makes you so sure? There isnt anything we will need to know on the New Earth that we dont now?

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

          Who’s to say God expects us to understand his plan.

          Because if we don’t understand that the plan exists and is fabulous, we should reject it.

          Hell thats, what faith is, trusting God even without knowing what he is going to do.

          And what else do you have groundless faith in? Are you a Muslim as well? And a Hindu? And a Buddhist?

          Why do we need complete knowledge in the here and now?

          Read and respond to my points. We don’t need complete knowledge in the here and now, but if the Bible is meant for us in the here and now, then everything it says should be understandable by us here and now.

          Not so hard to understand when you actually listen to what I’m saying, is it?

        • SirThinkALot

          “Because if we don’t understand that the plan exists and is fabulous, we should reject it.”

          Thats fair enough as far as it goes. Although I dont think every need be known about God’s plan to know he has one and that its worth following.

          “And what else do you have groundless faith in? Are you a Muslim as well? And a Hindu? And a Buddhist?”

          Faith need not be groundless. I cant know what God will do in the future, but I can know he exists and something of his character through Jesus, and through

          “We don’t need complete knowledge in the here and now, but if the Bible is meant for us in the here and now, then everything it says should be understandable by us here and now.”

          Fair enough. But who says the Bible is meant exclusively for the hear and now? I’v certainly never made that claim.

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

          But who says the B ible is meant exclusively for the hear and now?

          Logic. The Bible has no purpose in heaven—you’re already there. Its purpose is exclusively here and now.

        • SirThinkALot

          How does logic lead to that conclusion? And what does the fact that we are on the New Earth have to do with whether the Bible will be useful or not?

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

          Wow. This is slow going …

          You tell me then. What is the purpose of the Bible? Why did God give it to us?

        • Jay

          One of the purposes of the Bible is to reveal the true God to man.

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

          How important will the Bible be to you once you’re in heaven? That is, will you continue to consult it when you’re in heaven?

        • MNb

          How do you know? Because it’s in the Bible? Nice circular argument.

        • Greg G.

          What is “New Earth” and what is your concept of heaven? Are these concepts exclusive to your religion?

          If heaven is where God is, then he should be able to communicate directly and wouldn’t need printed or online Bibles to communicate so the Bible can only be for use on Earth. If it cannot be understood on Earth, what good is it?

        • SirThinkALot

          The ‘New Earth’ will be the earth refined and perfected. That is the reward for Christians, not to ‘go to heaven’ but for God to come to earth. In that sense its what is often colloquially meant when most people use the word ‘heaven.’ However the word heaven is a rather imprecise term that can have several different meanings, and often carries some rather problematic connotations(such as our reward being a ‘spiritual’ existence). Which is why I use the term ‘New Earth.'(which is also a biblical term Rev 21:1)

          If you are wondering why I didnt bring this up earlier. The answer is quite simple: I didnt want to derail the conversation with a topic that, in the context of what we were discussing, isnt overly relevant.

        • Greg G.

          Thank you. It’s always best to make sure you understand what the other person is talking about. One person looks like she is speaking Christianese but she has her private defintions for each term so you communicating different things. Others have new terms for common concepts and some have unique concepts to their denomintion but they think the concepts are common to all of Christianity.
          I was trying to follow the conversation and was thrown for a loop by that phrase.

        • MNb

          “The ‘New Earth’ will be the earth refined and perfected.”
          And exactly how did your study and thinking (see above) lead you to this prediction? Pleasy compare with one of my favourite examples – how deduction (Newtonian laws embedded in a coherent and consistent theory) and induction (the innumerable amount of observations in the past that confirm it) lead me to the prediction that you will fall downward and not upward when you jump off a bridge tomorrow (whenever tomorrow is).

  • Tony55398

    Who do you blame for our problems, since you can’t blame God for them? What are you doing to help solve them? What is your definition of morality, now that God does not exist for you? Do you accept the “Christian Love your neighbor as yourself” or a morality that is your own invention?

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

      Morality is invented by society. If you think that it is objectively grounded, I invite the evidence.

      If blame is due for problems, I’m happy to assign it.

      I’m not doing enough to solve the world’s problems, I’ll be the first to admit, but I do donate money to some charities (not enough).

      • Tony55398

        What is your morality? How would it compare to a Christian’s? I admit that I’m like you, I don’t do enough. It will take society as a whole to protect and support from birth to death and the will to do it.

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

          I’d say that my morality is grounded precisely as the Christian’s is: a shared moral programming plus what we learn from society.

          Of course, the Christian adds the God hypothesis, which is as useless as the magic stick in this recipe: “To boil water, put a pot of water on a hot stove. Stir with a magic stick (once, clockwise). Wait.”

          Do you claim objective morality? I see no evidence.

    • hector_jones

      Do you blame God for our problems?

      • Tony55398

        I blame ourselves for not working to solve what we have the capability to solve.

        • hector_jones

          So why did you ask Bob this question? What answer were you expecting from him?

        • Tony55398

          Whatever Bob wanted to say. Whatever Bob believed, certainly not to judge, just his point of view, Bob has a right to believe as he does, so do we all.

  • Tony55398

    Hell is probably misunderstood by Christians. It’s more of a state of being than a place. It’s like two people walking down the street, one can be happy and the other in a state of total depression and in this particular case, of his own choosing, not a medical or mental illness. Though I doubt anyone will end up eternally in this state, since mankind is subject to his own fallacy’s by nature.

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

      Are you saying that this is the description of the afterlife consistently made in the Bible, or are you saying that this is your own personal view?

      • Tony55398

        The description of the afterlife in the Bible is what could be imagined by the writers of the Bible. The Bible is not a word for word transcription dictated by God.

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

          God’s kind of a bungler if he managed to let this contradictory, evolving thread on the afterlife (one of the most important concepts in the Bible) slip through the editing process.

          If you’re saying that there was no editing process and that the ancient authors were just clumsy humans doing their clumsy best, with God not guiding their pens, I agree. I am baffled then at how your propose we look at this uninspired pile of notes to accurately uncover God’s plan.

  • Tony55398

    I know a few Atheists, they’re like any other people, including Christians, some are good, some not so good and a few I wouldn’t dare turn my back to. Some are related, and are really nice people, I like them very much and trust them.

  • ucfengr

    These questions are only a problem if you accept the doctrine of “sola scriptura”. For Roman Catholics and other Orthodox demonimations, these really aren’t a challenge to our faith.

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

      They’re not? Because you never think about them or because you have simple, logical responses to them? If the latter, I’d like to see what explains the facts better than simply dropping the god hypothesis.

      • ucfengr

        Catholics don’t have a doctrinal problem with suffering (not that we particularly like it) because Jesus suffered. A servant can’t be greater than his master. We are to accept our suffering as Jesus accepted his and as his Apostles accepted their’s. Our suffering is part of God’s redemptive plan.
        Regarding science, I’m pretty sure that Georges Lemaitre, a Catholic Priest and originator of the Big Bang Theory, and Gregor Mendel, a Catholic friar and father of modern genetics would disagree with your assessment of the Bible as anti-science. In any case, the Bible isn’t a science or medical book, I’m not sure why you would expect it to read like one. Also, Catholics don’t have a problem with accepting evolution.
        As to why Jesus hasn’t appeared to me, I would refer you to the Nicene Creed which tells us that Christ isn’t going to come again until the day of Judgement.

        • Pofarmer

          “Also, Catholics don’t have a problem with accepting evolution.”

          Actually, they do. They claim special creation for Humans.

          “Also, Catholics don’t have a problem with accepting evolution.”

          Isn’t it a whole lot easier and more honest to say that it certainly appears that there is no plan? All Animals suffer, not just humans. Is their suffering part of God’s plan, too?

        • ucfengr

          Yes, animal suffering is part of God’s redemptive plan. All of Creation needs redemption, not just man.
          Your response about evolution seems a bit nit-picky. Special creation only applies to Man’s soul, Catholics accept that evolution may explain how man’s body developed.

        • Pofarmer

          Your response about evolution seems a bit nit-picky. Special creation only applies to Man’s soul, Catholics accept that evolution may explain how man’s body developed.”

          That isn’t how it is taught. Either you are missiformed or dishonest.

          “All of Creation needs redemption, not just man.All of Creation needs redemption, not just man.”

          This is stupid. What did my dog do to need to be reedemed? My beef cows( which weren’t really a thing in biblic times) need to be forgiven for some sin?

        • ucfengr

          From Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis (1950):
          “The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experiences in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.”
          Regarding the need for all Creation to be redeemed, Adam was given dominion over Creation, when he fell, it all fell. Therefore it all needs to be redeemed. I don’t expect you to accept the doctrine, but it does show why suffering isn’t a challenge to Catholic faith the way it can be to Protestants.

        • Pofarmer

          So, Pope Pius XII wrote a letter in 1950. What I am telling you is what the Catholic Schools are teaching in the U.S. in 2014. They are teaching that Man was created apart in the image of God.

          Now, as to the rest of it. When you come up with some evidence for, say, Adam, and the Garden of Eden, and the Fall, maybe some evidence of the world before the fall, I will start to consider your doctrine. Until that point in time I’ll consider it what it is, convoluted theological ignorance to explain what iron age humans couldn’t understand, that has inappropriately been applied when we should know better. Not only is suffering not a challenge to the Catholic faith, but it’s set up so very often reality isn’t either.

        • ucfengr

          I have no interest in debating the relative merits of atheism vs. Christianity, I’m only pointing out that these questions aren’t a challenge for Catholics because Catholic doctrine accounts for them.

        • Pofarmer

          And I’m pointing out why they are bogus.

        • ucfengr

          Except you’re not, unless your definition of “bogus” is “things you don’t agree with”. Do you actually attend a Catholic school or send your kids to one? Because I do, and that is not what they’re teaching in the parochials schools of my Diocese.

        • Kodie

          Don’t mind me, but I’m going to pop some popcorn. brb

        • Pofarmer

          i see our Catholic friend left after getting answers to his questions, but giving none in return.

        • Pofarmer

          My kids go to one, I pay attention to what they are teaching. But that wasn’t what I was reffering to with my bogus comment.

        • ucfengr

          Why on earth do you send your kids to an organization “which rationalizes some of the worst treatments of our fellow humans”? I’m not saying you’re lying, but there is a serious disconnect between what you say you do and what you say you believe.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s a long story, but it starts out before I realised how fundamentally warped the Catholic worldview is. It has fostered some great conversations with my kids, and taught me more than I ever wanted to know about the Catholic church.

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

          Huh?? Then account for them! Give me a list, 1 through 5, showing how your theology has a better explanation than the hypothesis “God doesn’t exist.”

          All I’m getting at the moment is that you don’t care about them because God. Or something. I’m hoping you have something more substantial.

        • ucfengr

          If you have an actual interest, I would encourage you to research the subject yourself. The Catholic Catechism isn’t some secret document, heck there’s an app with for both iOS and Android. There’s also no shortage of Catholic apologetic sites. If you’re not interested, I really don’t have the time to waste beating my head against a hardened heart.

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

          If this is all you’ve got, I appreciate your contribution, but yes you probably are wasting your time.

          No, it’s not my hardened heart. I’m simply demanding what you apparently can’t give me: compelling evidence that the God hypothesis is correct.

        • MNb

          The name we atheists give to “hardened heart” is “healthy skepticism”.

        • ucfengr

          I use “hardened heart” to describe someone who’s not open to the possibility. It’s a couple standard deviations to the right of “healthy skepticism”.

        • Pofarmer

          What it is is intellectually dishonest. Many of us here were Christians. BTDT. So, we were open, and most still would be open to compelling evidence for the truth of your faith. If you can’t change the hardened heart to see the beauty of the magnificent lord of all, then what good is your faith, after all?

        • ucfengr

          What would you consider “compelling evidence”? Alternatively, what “compelling evidence” caused you to change your mind about “Christianity”?

        • Pofarmer

          Honestly? I started out searching for the “truth” of Catholicisms claims. Not from within it but from without. I found matt slick and CARM. He did a food job pointing out the obvious flaws in some Catholic Doctrines. I then turned Slicks methods on the bible itself, and found Bart Ehrman, and Robert G Price, and Robert M. price, and Richard Carrier, and Randal Helms, and Remsberg, and Andrew
          Dickson White, among others, and that experience utterly destroyed that there was any truth behind Christianity, Catholic or otherwise, at all. It’s ancient superstition carried into the present day, and it’s damaging and wrong. End of story. So’ what’s your deal?

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

          So a Christian boldly proclaims that the Good News can withstand scrutiny, you take him up on his challenge, and you’re an atheist as a result? Snap!

          My story is similar. A YEC friend started in on me on evolution, then we moved on to the Jesus story, and I’m an atheist as a result.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, I think I’ve told my story on here before, but, my story starts out with me wanting to share my faith, as a nominally non-denominational protestant, with my kids. My wife, who was getting exponentially more active with her “Catholic faith” freaked out, and it caused quite a scene at Easter maybe 5 year ago? So, I said, ya know what, I’M gonna research the Catholic view, and if it really does make sense and have truth, I’ll convert. O.k. what did I find? I found a Church that denies science and tries to cram human nature into it’s dogma, instead of realizing what human nature is. I found a church that wants to control but not nurture. I found a Church that wants to use Apocrypha when it’s convenient to their argument but discard it when it’s not. I found a church who’s doctrine ends in the horrors of the Magdelene laundries, stolen babies sold into adoption, and the horrors just uncovered AGAIN with a home for unwex mothers in Ireland. I found a church who’s doctrines and Dogmas should lead it’s priests to be the most holy among us, and yet there are sexual abuse cases against thlusands of them in every diocese in the U.S. but 10, and all across the world, and what’s interesting about this too, is that psychology could predict this in a group of sexually repressed adults. I find a Church that is all too comfortable lying to itself, and to everyone else. In short, I found a damnable organization, not truth in doctrine, flowery words backed up by hell. I found an organization steeper in darkness, hate, and fear, all covered up with flowery language and beautiful ceremonies. And that was BEFORE I got to the ridiculousness of christianity and design.

        • 90Lew90

          Thank your lucky stars you weren’t raised Catholic. It’s astonishingly insidious; I would say more so than Protestantism, given the latter’s focus on the Bible, which is easy to reject on common-sense grounds. Catholicism has a whole raft of very finely honed hooks to keep people in the faith. It took me quite a lot of work to throw it off, and I would still consider myself a “recovering” Catholic.

        • MNb

          Dickson White is not after truth either – he begins with a conclusion, then searches for examples which seem to confirm his conclusion and finally neglects the rest.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, Andrew Dickson White was writing with a purpose, that is certain. He was catching a large amount of flack for cofounding Duke as a secular university. I still think the boom is useful, though, as it catalogs a whole lot of religious dogma that was overturned by the scientific method. The list would be longer today.

        • MNb

          If someone writes with a purpose, whether religious or anti-religious, you must wonder if that writer presents the data correctly or rather twists them to help him realize that purpose. That’s what we do with biblical scholars. Not doing this with ADW means a double standard.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, I’m certain that White is presenting the evidence that is useful to him. The thing is, there are tons and tons and tons of footnotes and sources. When he quotes sermons and religious treatises verbatim, that stuff is hard to ignore and twist. He points out the views of ancient Cosmology and how the ancients related everything to God or Gods better than anyone I have ever read. I have read several people say he has been “discredited” but everyone one of the people doing the “discrediting” is a Christian apologist, so that makes me wonder just how discredited he really is.

        • ucfengr

          Going to CARM to find out the truth about Catholicism strikes me a a little like going to Christian Science to find the turth about modern medicine or Thomas Edison for the truth about AC current. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to compare it to going to Hamas to find out the truth about Israel. Slick and CARM are not objective analysts.

          As to me, I’m an electrical engineer with a love for history. I see a world that looks designed and assume a designer. The Catholic Doctrine describes a world that is consistent with the one I observe.

        • Pofarmer

          I’d liken it more to going to consumer reports to find out information before buying a car, although that’s not entirely apt. Do you buy a car based soley on the manufactuers literature? Not generally. You don’t find the truth of something by examining it from within, but from without. And Carm wasn’t where I stopped. Kn your Edison example, the truth won out, and the truth is that Catholicsm lost it’s stranglehold on religion and religious thought. What parts of Catholic Doctrine confirms what you see? How does the dogma of the fall, that we’re all damaged and fallen from Gods grace, have more application than the fact that we are evolved social primates with all the implications that that entails. One viewpoint holds up to testing and scrutiny and can make reliable predictions. The other cannot. Unlike you, I find no truth in Catholic doctrine, and often find it amazingly harmful.

        • ucfengr

          CR may prefer Honda to Ford, but the aren’t trying to show that Ford is an automotive heresy.

        • 90Lew90

          I’m also interested to know which bits of Catholic doctrine describe the world you observe.

        • Pofarmer

          Crickets.

        • Pofarmer

          Whatever. Pop your head out of the ass of “the one true Church” and look around a bit. I answered the question, more than once, are you going to take turn?

        • ucfengr

          Posting on a militantly atheist blog doesn’t count as looking around a bit?
          When did Catholicism ever have a “stranglehold on religion or religious thought?” You might be able to make the case they had a brief “stranglehold” on Christian thought, but even that is a stretch. You may as well argue that the Beatles had a stranglehold on musical thought during the 60s. Sure they were big, but they were far from the only game in town.
          You find “Catholic doctrine amazingly harmful”? In what meaningful way are the billion or so Catholics (who all follow Catholic doctrine to some extent) in the world threatening you? Is a 78 year old man bathing the feet of Muslims “amazingly harmful”? Some folks helping out at a soup kitchen or hospital? Funding a crisis pregnancy center? Are Catholics doing this despite Catholic doctrine, or because of it?

        • Pofarmer

          “You might be able to make the case they had a brief “stranglehold” on Christian thought, but even that is a stretch.”

          I dunno, there was that 11 or 12 or 14hundred years between Constantine and the Enlightenment.

          “You find “Catholic doctrine amazingly harmful”? In what meaningful way
          are the billion or so Catholics (who all follow Catholic doctrine to
          some extent) in the world threatening you? Is a 78 year old man bathing
          the feet of Muslims “amazingly harmful”? Some folks helping out at a
          soup kitchen or hospital? Funding a crisis pregnancy center? Are
          Catholics doing this despite Catholic doctrine, or because of it?’

          Oh, it’s all so wunnerful, how could anyone think differently. I’m sorry, you’ve converted me, I’ll change my mind now. Fuck. That. I dunno. What about babies tethered to beds in a slum orphanage in India while an organazation has 50 million in accounts and equipment sitting unused? What about an organization that let’s a boy die of a kidney infection when he could get free treatment elsewhere? What about an organization that argues against birth control in some of the most impoverished and overpopulated slums on earth, consigning millions more to the same conditions? Who argues against Condom use in Countries plagued by HIV? The truth of the matter is, to bathe the feet of a Muslim, help out at a soup kitchen, or help mothers in need, in no way requires one to be Catholic. Anyone can do that. To take “help” to the puritanical dogmatic extremes that it becomes harmful to those it :”serves” does take “faith” though. To look at all the statistics on teenage pregnancy and birth control and abortion around the civilized world, and not change ones stance because of doctrinal purity is idiocy fostered by religious indoctrination. I’m sorry. ” Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

          And. You. Still. Haven’t. Addressed. The. Fucking. Question.

        • wtfwjtd

          You find “Catholic doctrine amazingly harmful”?

          Not to butt in here, but you might have a look at this:

          http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/04/children-galway-mass-graves-ireland-catholic-church

        • ucfengr

          So, explain to me again why you send your children to a school that teaches an “amazingly harmful” doctrine. Don’t you love your kids?

        • MNb

          Accidentally I happen to know the answer: Pofarmer’s wife.

        • ucfengr

          Sounds like he married up.

        • Pofarmer

          You gonna attempt to answer the question?

        • ucfengr

          Okay, if the “Theory of Evolution” can make reliable predictions, what will….cockroaches evolve into? That one should be pretty easy; short life cycle, huge population, lots of data points. Give me a “reliable prediction”.ilov

          Catholic doctrine teaches that people are damaged by sin. People that are deeply involved in sin, as the Catholic Church teaches, typically lead pretty tragic lives, and they pass that tragedy on to their family members. Do you disagree?

        • Pofarmer

          On your evolution question I would suggest “Why evolution is true” by Jerry Coyne or “The selfish gene.” by Richard Dawkins.

          People are damaged by harmful activities. Sin’s got nothing to do with it. “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.” Um, O.k. not particularly damaging to one or ones family. Then on the other hand, there are situations that would not be considered sin, that can be extremely damaging, like spending all your time at church while your family suffers. There are all kinds of things classified as “sin” that may not be particularly damaging to the individual or their family. Would these same activities be non damaging if they were not a sin? Does psychology or sociology have a use for the term “sin” when treating behavioral disorders? What, no? You got to be kidding me. There are plenty of people who lead lives that are at odds with the teachings of the Catholic church who get by just fine. In general, they are called protestants. You’ll have to do better than that. Sorry.

        • ucfengr

          Be wary about Dawkins. He’s taken to describing himself as a “secular Christian”. He’s, maybe two, three steps from speaking in tongues and handling snakes.

        • 90Lew90

          I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick about Dawkins. I’ve seen him describe himself as a “cultural Anglican” by which he means he has an aesthetic appreciation for things like religious art and church bells and quaint English churches. He says he would miss that if it were gone in the same way he would miss cricket if it were done away with. He was expressing a nuanced view in his autobiography and then the press were all over it, naturally enough. You can be assured, he’s not wavering.

          You can read an interview in which he elaborates on the point here: http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9018391/interview-richard-dawkins-on-what-hed-miss-if-christianity-vanished/

        • MNb

          How does that disqualify The Selfish Gene? You’re moving the goal posts, of course because you don’t have an answer plus don’t want to admit that catholic doctrine on sin is a failure.
          In addition I recommend

          http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-What-Fossils-Say-Matters/dp/0231139624

          It’s the best of the three imo.

        • ucfengr

          Sorry, I didn’t realize that you weren’t allowed to poke fun at Dawkins. I guess even atheists need their saints.

        • 90Lew90

          You didn’t poke fun, you misrepresented him. If that was supposed to be funny, I didn’t get it.

        • Rudy R

          Dawkins is a brilliant evolutionary biologist, but he has no more insight into religion or the god question than any other atheist. I’d find it refreshing if Christians critiqued his position on biology rather than religion.

        • 90Lew90

          You don’t have to be religious to have an insight into religion or the god question. In fact to be religious while tackling those issues is such a hindrance as to make much of what the religious have to say about their own religions useless.

        • ucfengr

          How is Dawkin’s position on biology significantly different from the norm for evolutionary biogists? Evolution has been critiqued numerous times. What about Dawkin’s merits specific criticism beyond his notoriety?

        • 90Lew90

          “Evolution has been critiqued numerous times.” “Critiqued” (if that’s what you want to call it), by kooks. Dawkins’ position on evolutionary biology is orthodox. It doesn’t diverge in any way from “the norm”.

        • Rudy R

          I didn’t claim Dawkins’ position on biology was significantly different; however, he did reformulate the theory of natural selection through his “selfish gene” theory. And you made my point: Dawkins’ doesn’t merit specific criticism beyond his notoriety.

        • MNb

          Irrelevant question until you show what Dawkin’s position on biology has to do with religion. I guess that’s christianity – asking irrelevant questions.

        • ucfengr

          Dawkins puts himself out as a spokeman for atheism and a critic of religion. It’s on that basis that he opens himself up to criticism, not his not really unique positions on evolutionary biology.

        • 90Lew90

          Sorry, but his single greatest achievement in evolutionary biology, the “selfish gene”, revolutionised our understanding of how natural selection works. His criticism of religion came about only after decades of attacks on his discipline by dumb religious ideologues, and the spur was September 11. He is not so much a “spokesman for atheism” so much as a champion of science, the implications of which include atheism as being the only intellectually respectable position to take on the question of the existence of a god or gods.

        • MNb

          So your warning “be wary of Dawkins because of his views on religion” has exactly zilch to do with Pofarmer recommending The Selfish Gene. Thanks for admitting. I suppose you’re still not going to read the book, because you’re not really interested in the question which predictions Evolution Theory makes and only pretended so a few comments above.

        • ucfengr

          What predictions does evolution make? What specific predictions does Dawkins make in his book? Are they universally agreed upon. And, no, I probably won’t read the book and don’t see why I should feel any obligation to. I’ve read a few books in the genre and don’t think Dawkins will add anything enlightening. I recommend books are the time, but don’t get all “butt hurt” when my recommendations aren’t taken. Not sure I see why you should when the recommendation I’m not following isn’t even yours.

        • Pofarmer

          Dawkins is Dawkins.

          “Speaking at the Hay Festival, where he was presenting the first volume of his memoirs An Appetite For Wonder, the evolutionary biologist claimed that although he does not believe in the supernatural elements of the Christian church, he still values the ceremonial side of religion.
          The author made the comments after being questioned by an American minister in the audience who claimed that he no longer believed in miracles or that Jesus was resurrected, but still considered himself a Christian and preached the teachings of Christ.
          “I would describe myself as a secular Christian in the same sense as secular Jews have a feeling for nostalgia and ceremonies,” said Dawkins.
          “But if you don’t have the supernatural, it’s not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister.”

          Hell, I kinda like the ceremony, I just don’t beleive the bullshit it’s supposed to symbolise. So, next.

        • MNb

          Thanks for showing your lack of understanding Evolution Theory.

          “That one should be pretty easy”
          This is as impossible as solving the problem of three point masses in physics – it is as impossible as predicting the trajecory of a specific molecule in a gas. There are too many unknown variables.

          “Give me a “reliable prediction”.”
          You ask, evolutionary biologists deliver.

          http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA210.html

          Bonus:

          http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA215.html

          “Do you disagree?”
          Not so much disagree – catholic doctrine is just meaningless here. “Damaged by sin” means “pissing god off hence harming your relationship with him”. This is just baked air as there is no god to piss off. “Typically lead pretty tragic lives” at the other hand has nothing to do with whichever god. Sometimes people behave in a stupid way – for instance people who start abusive relationships over and over again. Even according to you god didn’t force them (free will etc.), so sin hasn’t anything to do with it either.
          Other people suffer from bad luck.

          http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/4-people-who-just-suffered-from-freakishly-bad-luck/
          http://www.cracked.com/article_17416_the-7-most-bizarrely-unlucky-people-who-ever-lived.html

          Of course combining stupidity with bad luck is also totally possible:

          http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-people-who-mixed-bad-luck-with-stupidity/

          Catholic doctrine tells us nothing about them. If you can find a correleation between sin at one hand and stupidity and/or bad luck at the other hand you’re invited. If you can’t we atheists will just shrug it off.

        • Jay

          Give me an example how Price, Carrier or Bart “utterly destroyed that there was any truth behind Christianity”?

        • Pofarmer

          Look around here, there’s tons of threads. Do yourself some reading.

        • Pofarmer

          It wasn’t individually, it was collectively over time. Matt Slick over at CARM actually introduced me to the methods debunking Catholic doctrine, then I turned his methods on the bible itself, that’s when I found Ehrman. He showed me that the Gospels are anonymous literature with some history and much storytelling, and introduced me to apocrypha. Robert M. Price, Robert G. Price and others helped explain the underlying stories in the NT based on the OT and some new Greek thought. Neil Degrassse Tyson, and Laurence Krause and Sean Carrol and Andrew Dickson White among others showed me where theology parted with reality. My own experience showed me the hateful, fearful ignorance of much “belief”.

        • Kodie

          Exactly what do you feel is wrong with a person not open to the possibility? What do you think that person is missing?

        • MNb

          “You’re the one who made the blog post implying that Christians can’t answer these question.”
          And publishes it to give christians like you the opportunity to challenge this. So your definition of “hardened heart” doesn’t apply to BobS.
          At the other hand you refuse to tell BobS what would make you deconvert – say become a worshipper of the Ancient Greek gods. His question was not about your conversion, but about an eventual reconversion. This indicates that according to your own definition your catholicism has hardened your heart.
          But I’d still like to tell you what would make me convert.
          1. If archeological evidence was found somewhere in say South America, evidence from a time before christianity and hence the Bible reached the place, that a guy with a name similar to Jesus has been tortured to death and then resurrected – plus that this guy has left some teachings similar to what the Gospels provide. Atheism arose at least twice in human history; Jesus being the son of god could have done it too. This would make me convert to some form of christianity, though certainly not to catholicism, which I see as a failure. Mutatis mutandis the same for every religion.
          2. If statisticians would find a significant correlation between potential victims collective warnings for upcoming natural disasters (like tsunami’s and earthquakes) in the form of nightmares and these natural disasters. This would not make me convert to christianity though; I would find myself a religion that suits me better.

          What will not make me convert is any post hoc rationalization that tries to explain away these glaring omissions.

        • Pofarmer

          :”Atheism arose at least twice in human history”

          Eh?

        • MNb

          Sorry for the delay. Disqus s***s.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C4%81rv%C4%81ka

          Materialism without atheism doesn’t make sense.

        • Pofarmer

          Thx. Yes, disqus is pissin me off.

        • ucfengr

          What would you consider “compelling evidence”?

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

          Show me the kind of compelling evidence that you would need to accept some new religion and reject Christianity and you’d be in the ballpark.

        • ucfengr

          Well, since I’m a Catholic, I’m obviously a gullible sort (it was a homeless dude in a sandwich board that convinced me), so I’m not sure you’d be wise to use me as your standard. Have you thought about what evidence you would find compelling? Because it sounds like you’re saying nothing would convince you, which is what I mean by a “hardened heart”, or perhaps you haven’t given the matter any thought. You’re the one who made the blog post implying that Christians can’t answer these question. I’ve shown you that Catholics have addressed the questions. That you don’t like the answers is only relevant to the extent that it causes you to think about what answers you’re looking for. If you’re answer is “nothing could satisfy my requirements”, then you really haven’t asked the questions in good faith.

        • Kodie

          So you would need a homeless dude with a sandwich board to convince you that Christianity is mistaken and something else is true? I don’t think I have a hardened heart, and take that as a propaganda term.

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

          perhaps you haven’t given the matter any thought.

          Atheists: What Would It Take to Change Your Mind?

          You’re the one who made the blog post implying that Christians can’t answer these question.

          No, I made quite clear that I acknowledge that they have answers, just that they suck.

        • ucfengr

          Clearly you have given it some thought. I will note that it strikes me as being defensive. Almost as if you’re trying to cover yourself in case this whole “God” thing turns out to be true and you find yourself in front of God having to account for yourself.

        • Kodie

          That’s quite a delusion you have there. I find that once people “find” god, they can’t quite conceive how anyone else lives with themselves, but that’s a part of how wrongness propagates only more wrongness.

        • ucfengr

          What’s delusional about an impression? If you and I have a different impression regarding an article or book or piece of music, does that mean one of us is delusional?

        • Kodie

          Your “impression” of atheists is that we actually believe in and are threatened by god. Yes, that’s a delusion you share with other theists.

        • ucfengr

          I don’t have an “impression of atheists”, I have an impression about a single article, written by a single (I assume single) atheist. I try not to evaluate groups based on the actions of discrete individuals. Otherwise I might be tempted to blame the actions of Stalin and Mao, for example, on all atheists, and that would be wrong, and unkind..

        • Jay

          The delusion is on the atheist side since the atheist has to deny so many obvious examples of God’s work in creation. It’s mind-numbing to see how atheist justify their atheism.

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know, the way things normally work on blogs, is there is some back and forth, you would be welcome to share some passages with some citations, or, ya know, facts.

          “I really don’t have the time to waste beating my head against a hardened heart.”

          At least you didn’t pull out the Pearls before swine Garbage. Are our hearts as hardened as these?

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/06/02/mass-grave-in-ireland-holds-the-remains-of-800-out-of-wedlock-children-who-died-in-the-care-of-catholic-nuns/

        • ucfengr

          I’m not sure there’s a formal metric for “way things normally work on blogs”, but I think I’ve met, at least the minimum standards for “back and forth” and “citations”. I’d be happy to suggest some books if you’d like, but these aren’t new or novel arguements that have been made by our host. The Church has addressed these questions numerous times over that past couple of millenia, I doubt I can improve on their work.

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe not, but you could cite chapter and verse, so somebody could look it up.

        • Scott_In_OH

          The very next paragraph (#37) in Humani Generis insists that there was an actual, human Adam from whom all humans are descended. Evolutionary biology rejects this hypothesis.

          Also, the paragraph you cite makes it clear that the Church gets to make the final decision on what happened, not scientists.

          http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html

        • ucfengr

          “Evolutionary Biology” can’t categorically reject the hypothesis; it can only state that the evidence they have doesn’t support it at the present. Evidence of absence doesn’t equal absence of evidence. Science isn’t written on stone tablets.

          In any case, “Evolutionary Biology” is concerned with the body, the Church is more focused on the spirit. As, Pope Benedict XVI said in a discussion on creation and evolution:

          “The clay became man at the moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought of “God”. The first Thou that—however stammeringly—was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which the spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed. For it is not the use of weapons or fire, not new methods of cruelty or of useful activity, that constitute man, but rather his ability to be immediately in relation to God. This holds fast to the doctrine of the special creation of man … herein … lies the reason why the moment of anthropogenesis cannot possibly be determined by paleontology: anthropogenesis is the rise of the spirit, which cannot be excavated with a shovel. The theory of evolution does not invalidate the faith, nor does it corroborate it. But it does challenge the faith to understand itself more profoundly and thus to help man to understand himself and to become increasingly what he is: the being who is supposed to say Thou to God in eternity.

          The story of creation is not about animal becoming man, but about man becoming “Man”.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Branches of science do, in fact, reject hypotheses, even if only provisionally. (What they don’t do is prove hypotheses; it is far easier to disprove (i.e., reject) them with a high degree of confidence.) Biologists have asked what the world would look like if there had been at some point only two humans from whom everyone currently on earth is descended. The answer is it would look different than it does now–the hypothesis of a single couple who begat the rest of us is rejected.

          The hypothesis of a single couple who begat the rest of us is precisely what Humani Generis states as unchallangeable fact:

          37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty [i.e., they are not allowed to believe it, according to Pius XII]. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

        • Kodie

          I know, animals need redemption now? How are they supposed to come to belief and live a pious life? Or that we are just all animals, and some of us are deluded that there’s a bigger plan.

        • Pofarmer

          What our resident Catholic here either fails to recognize, or glosses over, is that this is just another one of the dark theologies which rationalizes some of the worst treatments of our fellow humans. I mean through Torture and Sacrifice those who don’t believe the same way we do can come to the love of GAWD! What a wonderful theology. A theology that led to the horrors of the Magdalene laundries and the uncaring squalor and agony of Mother Theresa’s homes for the dying. Where no treatment was offered even if someone could be saved. Better to suffer and die holy. Ignorant fuckwits.

        • wtfwjtd

          This seems to get crazier every time I hear it.

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

          For that matter, what did you do to deserve participation in Original Sin™?

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, shit Bob. Adam and Eves sin was so great, and Gawd was so butt hurt by it, that he ruined the ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET! I mean can you imagine? Before that there was no disease, no pain. People and animals lived for hundreds of years in harmony. No wars, no animosty, only loving gently goodness. But, Adam and Eve fucked the whole thing up, and the ifinitely good and gracious God decided to throw a wrench in the works and condemn everyone and everything for all time and make things, well, pretty much like they are. Now, this may seem a little silly and unscientific, but I have it on the good advice of very, very smart theologians that it actually happened just lime that , and they can totally prove it, talking snake and all, but it’s really not worth there effort to give the evidence for something so obvious and readilh apparent that obviously isn’t explainable in any other way.

        • wtfwjtd

          Help me out here a little, Pofarmer. I know Protestants are big on the whole Original Sin thing, aren’t Catholics stuck even more on it? And wouldn’t clinging to this nasty bit of dogma throw the whole “religion is in harmony with evolution” right out the window? I mean, how could you get Original Sin to mesh with Evolution?

        • wtfwjtd

          Maybe God’s “man project” was on a Monday?

        • Pofarmer

          OH yes, the original sin and the fall are very big. Like I said, at my 8th graders graduation we were told to bow our heads and contemplate on our sinful nature. What they try to do, to get it to mesh, is to say that the fall is Allegory. Well, O.K. But if the fall is allegorical, then you have an allegorical Jesus dying for Allegorical sins, so it kind of paints them into a corner, and they have to dodge back to their fundamentalist roots to salvage the theology. The whole thing becomes hopelessly convoluted as they try to work it all round to everything good is a miracle from God and everything bad is because of our sinful nature. God, I hate that church.

        • wtfwjtd

          Ah yes, the fall is “allegorical”, and doesn’t apply specifically to man’s physical body. Then, they pull the ol’ switcharoo, and make the crucifixion literal, and then talk of both of these events this way.
          Much like Christianity is constantly using switching back and forth with other word definitions–take “faith”, for example. In one usage, it’s the Biblical way–believing God , no evidence, he’ll take care of things. Next thing you know, it’s a synonym with trust, or means you only assume things based on evidence. All this makes the doctrines and dogmas squirmy and hard to pin down, which of course is the precise goal in playing these word games.

        • Pofarmer

          I tried to read the Catechism back when I was a Christian. I didn’t get very far in before I had my first WTF moment. Bunch of convoluted garbage that should be discarded and start over.

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

          I can imagine God sitting down to a model airplane project. After a couple of hours, he’s just about done. The last step is installing the propeller, but he gets a little extra glue on the mounting and now the prop won’t spin.

          “Me dammit!!” he shouts and smashes the plane against the wall and sweeps all his paints and brushes onto the floor.

          A little petulance happens to all of us. He’s only human.

        • wtfwjtd

          I can totally see that. Maybe he snaps a control flap, or smears glue on the canopy. He flies into one of his rages, shouts a “Me Dammit!” or two–(that’s hilarious BTW) and throws his project on the floor, and maybe stomps on it a few times. Then, being the total buttwad that he is(as described in the OT), he blames his project for his mistake and hurls it outside.

          No wonder those ancient Hebrews were terrified of this dude, no telling when or where he might snap, and fly into one of his obtuse rages. What a dick.

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

          The ancient Jewish leadership was like an abused wife, praising the husband for not beating them (though I see that parallel even more in modern times).

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

          And now you (or your religion) have crossed the line. God is pleased at animal suffering? Wow–what a dick.

          Uh, no–neither animals or even humans today committed the outrageous sin of eating the fruit of a tree. This assignment of trans-generational and trans-species guilt is seriously deranged.

        • ucfengr

          Thanks for highlighting the problem of “Sola Scrutura”. Catholic doctrine doesn’t teach that every verse must be interpreted literally. Take Adam and Eve, for example, their sin was not in eating a piece of fruit (which is probably an allegory) but in believing the lies of Satan and rejecting God. Because Adam was given Dominion over the Earth, his sin effects the entire earth, much like an abusive or addicted parent can damage an entire family. God suffered Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, to redeem the World and he called on us to take up our cross and follow him. Suffering in this world is temporary, the Glory of God is eternal.

          In any case, my point is not to convince you that Catholic doctrine is right, only that it addresses the questions you cite in your article. That it doesn’t address them to your satisfaction is discussed in the Bible in 1 Corinthians
          1:23: “we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,”

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

          How do you separate the nonsense in the Bible from the good stuff?

          Take Adam and Eve, for example, their sin was not in eating a piece of fruit (which is probably an allegory) but in believing the lies of Satan and rejecting God.

          There is no Satan in the Garden of Eden story. Anyway, the liar in the story was God. He said they’d die when they ate the fruit, and the serpent said they wouldn’t. Guess who turned out to be right?

          his sin effects the entire earth, much like an abusive or addicted parent can damage an entire family.

          And that’s part of God’s plan? You’d step in to protect the family from the abusive parent if you were omnipotent. Too bad God can’t be as moral as you.

          God suffered Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ

          Yeah, a little. It’s hard to imagine much redemption from so little suffering.

          to redeem the World

          From what? From the imperfect life we’re bound to lead because of how God made us?

          Suffering in this world is temporary, the Glory of God is eternal.

          Bold talk. Give me evidence.

          In any case, my point is not to convince you that Catholic doctrine is right, only that it addresses the questions you cite in your article.

          I don’t see how this addresses the questions, but if that’s the best you’ve got, OK.

          That it doesn’t address them to your satisfaction is discussed in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 1:23

          Wow. You so don’t want to go there (as I think has already been raised recently). Paul said, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.”

          The Jews require a sign (miracle), but that Paul has nothing is a stumbling block! So much for the remarkable gospel stories of raising the dead, healing lepers, killing fig trees, and all that.

        • MNb

          So you believe in Satan? Then you’re a polytheist.

        • ucfengr

          I wasn’t aware Satan was a god. Catholic doctrine describes him as a fallen angel.

        • MNb

          Satan is an immaterial being with all kinds of superpowers. That makes him as much a god as the Greek and Germanic ones.
          Angels are divine characters as well. Thanks for confirming that you are a polytheist.

        • ucfengr

          I’m not aware of any “superpowers” attributed to Satan. Perhaps you’re confusing him with the “Son of Satan”, a minor Marvel comics character from the 70s.

        • MNb

          Satan wants to wrestle power from your god, doesn’t he? He needs superpowers to do so. Maybe you should read some Medieval tales how Satan buys human souls – wine barrels that never get empty and such stuff. The capability to pull that one off is a super power.
          Transforming into a talking snake is also a superpower.
          As a non American I’m not familair with Marvel comics. Even as a kid I thought them boring.

        • ucfengr

          Catholic doctrine teaches that the Genesis origin story is most likely an allegory, and has since the early Church. Do you give credence to Medieval tales about Satan? I don’t. As the “Father of Lies”, I would expect Satan to have a pretty good PR machine. Maybe that’s his superpower.

        • MNb

          Don’t be silly. I’m an atheist and materialist. A priori I do not give credence to anything catholic doctrine teaches. The only point I make is that the way many, but far from all christians, including many, but again far from all catholics, talk about satan implies he is a god – the evil mirror image of the god who is supposed to have created the Universe.
          Here and now I’m curious what your view is. Saying “catholic doctrine says this hence satan is not a god” means nothing to me; I ask you to tell me how you distinguish a divine immaterial being with superpowers from a non-divine one. I don’t see any difference, except that one is supposed to be good and the other evil. As for the superpowers: being able to travel in and out of heaven (or wherever your god is supposed to reside) is also a superpower. I can’t and neither can you.

          “the Genesis origin story is most likely an allegory”
          AfaIc the entire bible, including your god, christ (ie the supposed divine aspect of Jesus), the holy spirit, satan, angels, heaven, hell, mother mary plus all the saints you are praying to are allegories, unless proven otherwise. Again: what catholic doctrine teaches about this means nothing to me. Since

          “if [catholic doctrine] shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black”
          I cannot take catholic doctrine seriously.
          So for the time being I maintain that you are a polytheist. I’m not saying you worship satan. That’s irrelevant. The pagans from Antiquity didn’t worship all their gods either. Polytheism means you believe there is more than one god, whether your worship or reject them. You worship one and reject another. That makes two. I worship nor reject any of them. That’s the definition of non-believing.

        • ucfengr

          Geckos can lick their own eyeballs, humans can’t, ergo Geckos have super powers.

        • MNb

          If you want to argue that geckos are gods too and that you worship them I won’t prevent you. I do note though that geckos, their eyes and their tongues are material. Your god, satan and the whole bunch not so much.
          You believe in immaterial entities, not me. I’m only asking what makes the creator of the Universe you worship a god and not satan. But I guess that you don’t have an answer and hence I can maintain my conclusion that you’re a polytheist.

        • ucfengr

          You don’t believe that beings beyond our understanding could exist? You think that in the 15B odd years that the universe has existed no immaterial life forms could have evolved? Perhaps in some alternate universe? That sounds a lot like a religious belief to me. All faith, no proof.

          I do long for the days when atheists at least felt an obligation to understand religion before they attempted to refute it. You haven’t even bothered to learn the differences between monotheism, polytheism, and pantheism let alone have even a minimal understanding of basic Christian, let alone Catholic doctrine.

        • MNb

          As long as you don’t have a method to separate correct claims about a supposed immaterial reality from incorrect ones (like satan is a god too) I’m fully entitled to postulate that such an immaterial reality is a meaningless concept. Plus interaction with our material reality is only possible with material means, which immaterial entities like your god and satan don’t have by definition (or they would be material). That makes all concepts about immaterial entities meaningless as well.
          That’s sufficient proof for materialism.
          Take for instance this.

          “immaterial life forms could have evolved”
          OK. Please tell me how, which mechanism was at work, which evidence you have and what method you have used to come to this conclusion. The results should be as objective (or intersubjective if you prefer) as natural selection for Evolution Theory. “Catholic doctrine says” doesn’t suffice.

          “That sounds a lot like a religious belief to me.”
          Yeah, the good old “not collecting stamps is also a hobby.”

          “the differences between”
          Then teach me. Where did I go wrong when I wrote

          “Polytheism means you believe there is more than one god”

          When I ask you “why is satan not a god” the only answer I get from you is “catholic doctrine says”. Now you aren’t capable anymore of answering – because with that Jesuit quote I showed you how silly “catholic doctrine says” is – you start to act like a berserker with your wild and unfounded accusations.
          I like that. Every single neutral outsider will notice the lack of content in your last comment. So please continue. Be warned though. As a Dutchman I’m used to dragging down the level of discussion; it can’t get low enough for me. I probably will defeat you on experience.

        • Pofarmer

          “Because Adam was given Dominion over the Earth, his sin effects the
          entire earth, much like an abusive or addicted parent can damage an
          entire family”

          I’ll just ask again. What evidence do you have for this statement?

          “God suffered Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, to redeem the
          World and he called on us to take up our cross and follow him”

          So, if the fall is Allegorical, God suffered for an Allegorical sin?

          “to redeem the World”

          So if Adam’s sin tainted the whole Earth, then why didn’t Jesus redemption, ya know, fix it? Maybe just a little part of it?

        • TheSquirrel

          Redemption from a problem he created.
          Some god.

        • ucfengr

          Yeah, that whole “free will” thing….not His best idea.

        • MNb

          Do animals have free will? What does that mean for say an individual ant? If it doesn’t have free will, then why does it need redemption – like all of Creation, as you write above?
          You’re incoherent.

        • TheSquirrel

          Free will can be easily compatible with a world without sin for a god who is all powerful. God either didn’t see it coming, isn’t all powerful, is a super jerk, or doesn’t exist.

        • Pofarmer

          Nice dodge. Oldy but a goody.

        • MNb

          “Georges Lemaitre, a Catholic Priest and originator of the Big Bang Theory”
          There goes your credibility. The originator of the Big Bang Theory is Alexander Friedmann, a Soviet-commie and atheist.
          Georges Lemaitre was a strong supporter of keeping religion and science separate and protested vehemently when many Catholics wanted to use the Big Bang as confirmation of the Cosmology. So he is not exactly a witness for your case. There goes your credibility again.

          “Catholics don’t have a problem with accepting evolution.”
          And here goes your credibility for the third time. True, the Pope has accepted Evolution Theory about 60 years ago. Except it doesn’t seem to be Evolution Theory as formulated by evolutionary biologists:

          http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/336358-we-are-not-some-casual-and-meaningless-product-of-evolution

          Because that’s exactly what science says – that we are some casual and meaningless product of a process that took a few billion of years. A similar attitude is displayed towards the Big Bang:

          http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/vaticanview.html

          “The Pope told the physicists they should not inquire into the Big Bang itself”
          which is of course exactly what they want to do.

          http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/06/us-pope-bigbang-idUSTRE7052OC20110106

          “Christians should reject the idea that the universe came into being by accident.”
          There are several theories around which describe the Big Bang and all of them postulate exactly that the Universe came into being by accident. The causal model as proposed by Friedmann and Lemaitre has been rejected by all physicists several decades ago exactly because it’s causal.
          Catholocism has more problems with modern science than you prefer to admit.

        • ucfengr

          I’m not sure how my creditability is damaged. Nothing I said was false. Lemaitre is credited as the originator of the theory (regardless of whether Friedmann had the idea first) and he was a Catholic priest. He clearly didn’t see being a scientist as being in conflict with being a priest, nor does anything in Catholic doctrine.
          I’m not sure about the relevance of some individual Catholics accepting “creationism”. It’s not doctrine that you must.

        • MNb

          “Lemaitre is credited as the originator of the theory”
          Only by believers and then mostly catholics. None of them, including you, have studied the subject seriously. The fact that you take over this credit from others is a strong indication that you don’t understand the Big Bang and the science involved. That’s how you lose your credibility.
          This is confirmed by your lazy dismissal “nor does anything in Catholic doctrine”, because I showed with papal quotes and all how catholic doctrine conflicts with modern science indeed.

          ” It’s not doctrine that you must.”
          Catholics who reject the catholic doctrine. Why don’t you go tell them?

          Catholic doctrine says that the Universe was caused in the form of a creation. Modern physics says, because of Quantum Mechanics, that it was a probabilistic event. If that isn’t a conflict then Sarah Palin is a socialist.

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

          Catholics don’t have a doctrinal problem with suffering (not that we particularly like it) because Jesus suffered.

          You’re saying that Catholics don’t recognize the Problem of Evil? Or that Jesus suffered plenty, so stop whining and take your share?

          We are to accept our suffering as Jesus accepted his and as his Apostles accepted their’s. Our suffering is part of God’s redemptive plan.

          I’m getting flashbacks of a Mother Teresa horror movie …

          I don’t see how this answers the questions above (or those on the next list).

          Is there anything in the Bible that supports that last sentence of yours?

          I’m pretty sure that Georges Lemaitre, a Catholic Priest and originator of the Big Bang Theory, and Gregor Mendel, a Catholic friar and father of modern genetics would disagree with your assessment of the Bible as anti-science.

          I’ll just point to MNb’s critique of who actually originated what. As for Mendel, he’s nothing more than a footnote in science. Sure, he was the first, but that mattered not a bit. It wasn’t until the rediscovery of what he learned that science absorbed the ideas of genetics.

          If you’re saying that these two men show that one can be Christian and science-y, I already knew that. Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller are two current examples. I’ll bet, however, that if we could talk to your two examples, they’d admit that the church hasn’t always gotten out of the way of free inquiry.

          the Bible isn’t a science or medical book, I’m not sure why you would expect it to read like one

          Trick question? When the Bible says, “The earth began like this,” and that is wrong (in fact, lifted from other cultures nearby), we have to wonder why God didn’t just skip the nonsense.

          And that leaves you with a problem. If you’re going to say that the Bible is a mixture of crap (uncovered today thanks to science) and wisdom, how do you tell which is which? We know that Gen. 1-3 are crap thanks to science; my conclusion is that we should only listen to science. That’s easy and unambiguous.

          the Nicene Creed which tells us that Christ isn’t going to come again until the day of Judgement.

          Yet one more missed opportunity for providing evidence. Your response, “Yeah, but that doesn’t prove Christianity wrong.” I agree, but it certainly is evidence in that direction.

  • http://ehoah.weebly.com/ Rua Lupa

    That is why I like to act on these problems instead of believing that saying something to ostensibly a great being, but really no one but to myself, would make things better. I believe much of these problems stem from worldviews that are disconnected with the reality of Nature. And believe that creating a worldview that is based on Nature, that encompasses the planet and its inhabitants (human and non-human like), and respects our interconnections would solve a lot of them, if not all.

  • Joe

    Great questions. I think I’ll start with Number 5. Like most Christian answers to questions like these, the answers are long and complicated. First, I’ll quote the question:

    “How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? Jesus COULD appear to you, but he doesn’t. He appeared to Paul after he died, so it’s not like he hasn’t done it before. He could appear to give you advice for a tough decision, give you comfort in person like a friend would, or just assure you that he really exists. He doesn’t.”

    “The Christian might argue that God has his reasons, one of the oddest ones being: because then there would be no need for faith. Because apparently just having faith is a noble thing.”

    Again, this is an excellent question. I’ll give you my understanding, which is different than what was proposed.

    If you were God and you wanted all your children to know and believe in you, wouldn’t you give them more evidence? A miracle every day at six o’clock sharp, for instance? Or Jesus appearing to you?

    The question is actually a clue FOR belief in God. Essentially, it comes down to this: If God did not conceal Himself, He would not reveal Himself truly; only by partial concealing can there be revealing of God to man in his present state.

    Is this a contradiction? Not at all. It’s a paradox. A paradox is “A SEEMINGLY contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true: The paradox that standing is more tiring than walking.” (American Heritage Dictionary).

    What do the prophets (who lived centuries before Jesus) say about Jesus? That He will plainly be God? No, but that He is a truly hidden God, that He will not be recognized, that people will not believe that it is He, that He will be a stumbling-block on which many will fall, etc.

    Thus the fact that Jesus does not appear to us is not something that counts against the Christian claim, but for it. For the claim, and the prophesy of it, is not that He will be “the plain God” but “the hidden God”. The prophesy is fulfilled perfectly.

    We tend to assume that Christ acted as we would have acted; that He would do ANYTHING to attain the end of universal acknowledgement, allegiance and discipleship. But of course, Isaiah 55 says that God’s ways are not our ways. Instead, like the prophets stated, Jesus came to open some eyes, and shut others, reveal Himself to some and conceal Himself from others, simultaneously with the same words and works.

    Jesus came to GIVE light, as a gift, not to force light on us. A gift must appeal to freedom. It must be freely accepted as well as freely given. Thus there must be the freedom to refuse it.

    Jesus came to blind those who have clear sight and to give sight to the blind.

    This is exactly what Scripture says. But what does it mean?

    It means the same light that fulfills some threatens others; that the same divine nature, the same justice and righteousness and holiness, the same unselfish love and self-surrender and willingness to accept suffering that is Heaven to the saints, is Hell to sinners.

    Christ does not deliberately and delightedly hide from unbelievers or blind them. He can’t help it, just as the sun can’t help shining. He blinds unbelievers simply by being what He is.

    God wishes to move the will rather than the mind. Perfect clarity would help the mind and harm the will. God wants to humble our pride.

    Jesus does not appear to us because we would have more knowledge but less humility and thus less wisdom. Humility is the beginning of wisdom. Socrates certainly exemplified that.

    Jesus hides from those who aren’t interested in finding Him, and reveals Himself to ALL who seek Him. Because ALL who seek God, find Him when they seek Him with all their hearts.

    The problem is not with finding God. The problem is that people don’t seek Him.

    Thus wishing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart and hidden from those who shun Him with all their heart, He has qualified our knowledge of Him by giving signs which can be seen by those who seek Him and not by those who do not.”

    There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.

    Therefore, if an atheist wants to affirmatively prove that Christianity is false, all he needs to do is to seek God with all his heart. If he fails to find God, Christianity is false. (This, of course, is not a short term proposition–but that should not sway those who love the truth).

    But, be careful. As the Oxford scholar and former atheist turned Christian CS Lewis said:

    “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere…God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”

    Anyway, that’s my understanding. Would love to hear what you think. I welcome all critiques, comments and thoughts.

    TO BE CONTINUED

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

      I think you dumped a book of Christian platitudes in here. Not a lot of content, unfortunately, and that explains some of the snark below. But thanks for your polite insights.

      If God did not conceal Himself, He would not reveal Himself truly; only by partial concealing can there be revealing of God to man in his present state.

      Sounds like 1984’s Doublespeak.

      God sashayed up to Abraham. Didn’t cause Abraham any harm. That Christians apologize for his not doing it today is a huge clue that he doesn’t exist.

      A paradox is “A SEEMINGLY contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true: The paradox that standing is more tiring than walking.” (American Heritage Diction ary).

      Like the Trinity, eh? Sorry—the Trinity is nonsense as well.

      You can’t dress up nonsense and call it a mystery and expect people to respect that.

      What do the prophets (who lived centuries before Jesus) say about Jesus?

      Good question. What do they say? I’ve seen no reference to Jesus in the OT, though I’ve seen a lot of inept handwaving.

      Thus the fact that Jesus does not appear to us is not something that counts against the Christian claim, but for it.

      Bro, be serious. Do you listen to yourself?

      That God and Jesus love us to pieces and know that our understanding their existence and the rules for the afterlife is vitally important but don’t make their existence plain is very, very strong evidence that the emperor has no clothes.

      We tend to assume that Christ acted as we would have acted

      Yes, we do. We have no other option. The words in the dictionary applied to Jesus and God treat them like people. If those words don’t apply (good, just, merciful, loving, etc.) the don’t use them. The dictionary has no exceptions for mysteries or for God.

      Jesus came to GIVE light, as a gift, not to force light on us.

      Force? Force what? Jesus could force knowledge of his existence on me? People do that all the time. It’s OK, really. That’s not “forcing.”

      the same divine nature, the same justice and righteousness and holiness, the same unselfish love and self-surrender and willingness to accept s uffering that is Heaven to the saints, is Hell to sinners.

      What a loving “father”! When I’m roasting in hell, I’ll have a long time to say Thank You.

      He can’t help it, just as the sun can’t help shining.

      Jesus can’t help making absolutely no impact on our lives just like the sun can’t help shining? Sounds like the guy doesn’t even exist.

      Jesus hides from those who aren’t interested in finding Him, and reveals Himself to ALL who seek Him

      I’ve heard the same is true for Allah. You ought to check it out.

      The problem is not with finding God. The problem is that people don’t seek Him.

      Why? There’s no evidence that he’s not pretend.

      Therefore, if an atheist wants to affirmatively prove that Christianity is fa lse, all he needs to do is to seek God with all his heart.

      I’ve participated in the Atheist Prayer Experiment. Why don’t you earnest seek Allah for a year and see how that goes?

      What’s that? You say that that would be stupid? OK, then your reluctance to try out all the other religions in the world must give you insights into why I’m uninterested as well.

      “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere…God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”

      Uh, yeah. Scary. I’ve been doing this for years, and the God monster seems more and more remote.

      • Joe

        Bob, thanks for taking the time to respond. I certainly appreciate it.
        You state:

        “I’ve participated in the Atheist Prayer Experiment. Why don’t you earnest seek Allah for a year and see how that goes.?”

        “What’s that? You say that would be stupid? OK, then your reluctance to try out all other religions in the world must give you insights into why I’m uninterested as well.”

        My response: I actually don’t think seeking Allah for a year is a bad idea (although perhaps it is–I haven’t ruled that out as well). I have spent a good amount of time studying the different religions and philosophies of the world including Islam. I try not to denigrate any of these religions or philosophies including atheism. Atheists have recommended books to me. I’ve read a number of them including Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris as well as some of the atheists of the early 20th century and 19th Century. I’ve had a long discussion with an atheist discussing atheists books he recommended. I recently had a long ongoing dialogue with a couple of agnostics.

        Another thing. I try to avoid “arguing” in these types of discussions. I picked that up from Plato’s Republic. I prefer a Socratic dialogue. Arguments seem to often deteriorate into name calling and mocking the “opponents” and their ideas in an attempt to “win” the argument. The loser is often the “truth”.

        Another thing I learned from the atheist Sam Harris is cognitive bias. To oversimplify a complicated concept–cognitive bias is when I have a bias towards my own ideas and beliefs against competing ideas and beliefs. Now, cognitive bias has both good and bad aspects to us. The good aspect is that we’re not constantly changing our minds. The bad aspect is that we are slow or stubborn to change our ideas and beliefs when confronted competing ideas and beliefs. When we hear evidence against our ideas and beliefs we tend to dismiss said evidence–not because the evidence is not good–but because we have a bias towards our own ideas and beliefs.

        My understanding is that all humans suffer from cognitive bias. So, I try to keep myself on guard against it. But, it’s not easy for me.

        It is also my understanding that human reason is weak. Aristotle taught this. Blaise Pascal wrote extensively about this in the 17th Century. Freud wrote about this. And the people who are most versed in this in 2014? Advertisers. All these people understood that humans are driven much more by their passions and by their reason and logic.

        “Men…hardly stir except when jolted by (passions)…”

        “Reason never wholly overcomes (passions), while the contrary is quite common…”

        Blaise Pascal

        Anyway, this is my understanding.

        Anyway, thanks for your thought reply. I will try to respond to some of the other aspects of your reply. And I appreciate your continued critque and comments.

        • Pofarmer

          Another good book to read would be “true believers” by Eric Hoffer. It has explained faith more than any religious or non religious book I ever read.

        • Joe

          Thanks. I’ll look into and maybe give it a read.

        • Joe

          And I’ll return the favor by suggesting a book as well. “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” by the world class pioneering Geneticist, former Head of the Genome Project, and former atheist Francis Collins.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, have read some by him. Happily deluded.

        • Joe

          Pofarmer, Again, thanks for your book recommendation (i.e., “True Believers” by Eric Hoffer). Looks like it is very interesting.

          Also, thanks for your most recent reply. You state that Francis Collins is “Happily deluded”. He may or may not be delusional. I don’t know. Couple of questions if you don’t mind.

          1) Was he always “deluded” (he was formerly an atheist) or has he only become deluded when he decided to believe in God?

          2) If he was not always deluded, what do you specifically think caused his delusion and when did that occur?

          3) Does his delusion affect his science? For example, is the Genome Project non or anti scientific delusions?

          4) Maybe Collins is on a journey seeking what is true–he started out an agnostic, became an atheist, believed in God, became a Christian…who’s to say he doesn’t return to atheism? He wouldn’t be the first. Do we then describe his journey as 1) agnostic–delusional 2) atheist-perfectly rational 3) Believes in God–delusional again 4) Christian–still delusional 5) Atheist–perfectly rational, cured of his delusions?

          5) Does it also work the same way in science? It’s my understanding that Albert Einstein, at least initially didn’t believe in the Big Bang. Now, the Big Bang is the accepted science. Was Einstein delusional when he didn’t believe in the Big Bang? Or was he merely mistaken?

          6) Is everyone who disagrees with you delusional? For example, I understand that some atheists think that life is full of meaning, while some think life is meaningless. The atheist Sam Harris (and those like him) believes in a spiritual aspect to life. Other atheists are pure materialists with no belief in spirituality whatsoever. Is one group enlightened and brilliant (take your pick which one) and the other delusional?

          5) I was wondering why you call Collins “delusional” (an ad hominem attack which is a logical fallacy–its a logical fallacy because it attacks the person rather than his arguments) rather than say something along the lines of “I didn’t find his arguments persuasive”?

          The atheist Christopher Hitchens said he always felt he was winning the argument when his opponents resorted to ad hominem attacks.

          Perhaps these questions demonstrate my own delusional nature. I haven’t excluded that possibility.

          Thanks again (especially for the book recommendation). As always, I welcome your reply.

        • Pofarmer

          If you will actually read true believers, I think it will answer nearly all of those questions.

          On your number 5. Science will eventually go with the most correct answer. It constantly seeks truth and tests itself and adjusts it’s answers. This is religions main weakness. It only changes when the scaffold it had built it’s beliefs on is almost entirely removed.

        • Joe

          Pofarmer, Thanks for your latest reply.

        • MNb

          1) Irrelevant – nobody claims that atheists are never deluded.
          2) He describes it himself: the moment he saw that waterfall and “recognized” the Trinity.
          3) Not necessarily. I refer to Newton and his alchemy.
          4) Again irrelevant – atheism is no miracle cure against delusion.
          5) Pofarmer already answered: scientists can be wrong and can be stubborn enough to clinge to their wrong views. Even a better example – an atheist as far as I know – was Fred Hoyle. Apparently wrong views in science simply have to die out.
          6) Obviously not. The motto of science stems from Richard Feynman, atheist too: “the first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest to fool.”
          7) Calling someone “delusional” is not an ad hominem if it is the conclusion of a logical argument and/or if there is evidence for this delusion. The ad hominem has the form “Collins is delusional hence he is wrong” – ie it is the starting point of an argument.

          So you omitted the most important question of them all: why do you call Francis Collins delusional? How do you back this up? Obviously “because he is a christian” doesn’t suffice, but if I know Pofarmer a bit he won’t give that answer.

        • Joe

          MNb, Thanks for your reply.

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

          I actually don’t think seeking Allah for a year is a bad idea

          Learning more about Islam isn’t a bad idea (given more time, I’d do that), but simply walking the walk—acting like a Muslim just for the heck of it—is ridiculous.

          I’ve read a number of them including Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris as well as some of the atheists of the early 20th century and 19th Century.

          Good for you for trying to understand the other guy’s position. Check out mine if you want more.

          I try to avoid “arguing” in these types of discussions.

          Yes, an acrimonious argument is simple much less pleasant than a civil dialogue.

          I prefer a Socratic dialogue.

          That’s Peter Boghossian’s approach (I’m meeting him for dinner in a few days—should be interesting). That’s not something I’ve done so far. When it’s done on me, I haven’t liked it, so I’m not sure how it’ll work as a new technique. But I’m eager to check it out.

          The good aspect is that we’re not constantly changing o ur minds

          Yes, it’s hard to get through life when we’re skeptical about the safety of that next step or that next breath.

        • Joe

          Bob, Thanks for your reply. Concerning Socratic Dialogues–you state that you haven’t liked it when it’s done on you. That’s how everyone reacts when they first experience it. I think one of the reasons for this is that we are used to a culture of debate and argument so that when we experience Socratic dialogue we still think we’re in a debate or argument. The goal of Socratic dialogue is to have dialogue “partners” not dialogue “opponents”. It’s not supposed to be a “competition” with a winner and a loser. Your dialogue partner is your diagnostician so to speak (and vice versa). Socratic dialogue can also deteriorate into an argument (or even start out that way) if a party (or parties) are more interested in “winning” or “defending” an idea. The key is to question everything. You can tell that it wasn’t properly done when you said Socratic dialogue was “done on me”. It shouldn’t be done ON you. It should be done WITH you.

          If you read Plato’s Republic, it shows you Socratic dialogue at it’s best and worst. Fairly early on, Socrates has a dialogue with a man named Thrasymachus. This dialogue is contentious from the start. Socrates dialogues as he always does. But, Thrasymachus wants to argue, fight and name call. Socrates is certainly capable of dialoging with a partner like this, but the dialogue is not very fruitful. Shortly thereafter, Socrates has a dialogue with Glaucon (Plato’s brother). This dialogue is fruitful. Each takes turns questioning the other. They hold opposite opinions–but question one another on these opinions.

          Unfortunately, most of Socrates’ recorded dialogues were not of the quality he had with Glaucon. That’s because his dialogue partners were not trained in Socratic dialogue and were trying to argue with Socrates. But, Socrates would just keep questioning.

          In a good quality Socratic dialogue, both parties learn something even if neither party changes their opinions. Indeed, Socrates–the great teacher–didn’t consider himself a teacher at all. Just the opposite. He ALWAYS considered himself everyone’s student. Example:

          Euthrypho: Hello, Socrates.

          Socrates: Euthrypho, what are you doing here?

          Euthrypho: I’m prosecuting my father for murder.

          Socrates: Really? Is it a good moral act for one to prosecute one’s own father?

          Euthrypho: Of course. It doesn’t matter who the defendant is.

          Socrates: What’s your basis for this?

          Euthrypho: It’s an act of justice.

          Socrates: Can you define “justice” for me?

          The above is a tiny paraphrase of Socrates’ dialogue with Euthrypho. Euthrypho is certain he’s right. Socrates has no idea if Euthrypho’s right or wrong. Euthrypho maintains his position throughout the 12 page dialogue–but he consistently contradicts himself and can’t even give a proper definition of “justice”. Socrates ends the dialogue still not knowing whether it’s a good moral act to prosecute one’s father. Obviously, Euthrypho is not an ideal partner for Socratic dialogue.

          I can recommend Plato’s Republic and Socrates dialogue with Euthrypho. Both are available online for free.

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

          when we experience Socratic dialogue we still think we’re in a debate or argument.

          Arguments are great. What I don’t like is the asymmetric nature of a Socratic dialogue. The other guy asks all the questions and tries to steer the conversation, and I’m just answering.

          Have you read Boghossian?

        • Joe

          Bob, thanks for your reply.

          I have not read Boghossian. Do you recommend his writings? If so, which one would you recommend I read first? Also, which of your books do you recommend I read first?

          I agree that most Socratic dialogues are as you say–one guy asks all the questions and tries to steer the conversation, the other guy is just answering. But, that is not the ideal. Again, if you’re interested, check out the dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon in Plato’s Republic for a two way Socratic dialogue. You’ll only need to read five or ten pages to get the gist of a two way Socratic dialogue. Indeed, although both are asking questions, Glaucon is asking more questions than Socrates. Socratic dialogue is a good technique. But, it can be corrupted by either or both participants. The person asking the questions should welcome being questioned himself and should not unilaterally steer the conversation. And it is difficult to find a good Socratic dialogue partner.

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

          As far as I know, Boghossian only has A Manual For Creating Atheists. That’s the only book of his that I’ve read. Curiously, he’ll be in Seattle today for a lecture tomorrow, and I’m part of a group having dinner with him tonight.

          The goal is good: how to have productive conversations with other people with the goal of not just sharing information but actually pushing one’s antagonist to challenge his beliefs and improve them. He thinks that faith is a false epistemology and wants people to stop using it. I’m not sure if I’d recommend the book or not–maybe I need to give it a try. A Socratic approach is certainly not what I’ve used so far; perhaps it’ll improve my effectiveness.

          I see your point about the partner. I might well be eager to have my antagonist improve his thinking, but he likely won’t share that interest.

        • Joe

          Bob, Thanks for your latest reply. I agree that challenging another’s beliefs and improve them is a worthy goal for a productive conversation.

          I see that Boghossian is a scholar on Socrates. Since you’re having dinner with him, I’d love his take on Socratic dialogues along the lines we’ve been discussing–their usefulness, difficulty in finding a partner to dialogue with etc.

          Five days ago, you and I had this exchange:

          Joe: “What do the prophets (who lived centuries before Jesus) say about Jesus?”

          Bob: “Good question. What do they say? I’ve seen no reference to Jesus in the OT…”

          If it is agreeable to you, allow me to show you a couple spots where Christians claim Jesus is in the Old Testament, and I’d appreciate your response to it.

          First, a couple of New Testament quotes:

          Jesus speaking to the Jewish authorities:

          “For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me.”

          John 5:46

          Here, Christians claim that Jesus says Moses wrote about Jesus. That, of course, is quite the claim since Moses lived many centuries before Jesus. Of course, that claim needs to be verified. Where in the Old Testament is Jesus written about?

          Before we get to that, let’s look at a couple other New Testament cites:

          Jesus speaking to Cleopas and another person:

          “And he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.”

          Luke 24:25-27

          Here, Christians claim Jesus is saying that the Old Testament prophets said that the Messiah should suffer. Then, the text says that Jesus interpreted “Moses and all the prophets” (i.e., the Old Testament) “what referred to” Jesus himself in the Old Testament.

          Again, another bold claim. One more New Testament cite before we see where Christians claim Jesus is in the Old Testament.

          Here Jesus is speaking to the Apostles:

          “He said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'”

          Luke 24:44-47

          Here Jesus is claiming the same thing. That “everything written about” Jesus “in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms (i.e., the Old Testament) must be fulfilled. Christians claim that Jesus is stating that the Old Testament, written centuries before his birth, is writing about him. Again, this is a bold claim. Where in the Old Testament do Christians claim that the Old Testament is referring to Jesus?

          Let’s take a couple cites from the Old Testament and see where Christians claim Jesus is spoken about in the Old Testament. I certainly would like your take on this and what the atheist objections are. First up is a cite from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom:

          “…the wicked…said:

          “Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
          he sets himself against our doings,
          Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.
          He professes to have knowledge of God
          and styles himself a child of the Lord.
          To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
          merely to see him is a hardship for us,
          Because his life is not like other men’s,
          and different are his ways.
          He judges us debased;
          he holds aloof from our paths as from things pure.
          He calls blest the destiny of the just
          and boasts that God is his Father.
          Let us see whether his words be true;
          let us find out what will happen to him.
          For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him
          and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
          With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.
          Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
          for according to his own words, God will take care of him.
          These were their thoughts, but they erred;
          for their wickedness blinded them,
          And they knew not the hidden counsels of God;
          neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.”

          Wisdom 1:16; 2:1; 2:12-22

          Now, let’s read the passage again, put this time let’s replace the reference to the “just one” with the name “Jesus” and replace the words “the wicked” with the term “The Pharisees” (i.e., the Jewish authorities who opposed Jesus in the Gospels and planned and orchestrated his death). Christians claim it fits. Here goes:

          “…The Pharisees…said:

          “Let us beset Jesus, because Jesus is obnoxious to us Pharisees;
          Jesus sets himself against our doings,
          Reproaches us Pharisees for transgressions of the law
          and charges us Pharisees with violations of our training.
          Jesus professes to have knowledge of God
          and styles himself a child of the Lord.
          To us Jesus is a censure of our thoughts;
          merely to see Jesus is a hardship for us,
          Because Jesus’ life is not like other men’s,
          and different are Jesus’ ways.
          Jesus judges us Pharisees debased;
          Jesus holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
          Jesus calls blest the destiny of the just
          and boasts that God is his Father.
          Let us see whether Jesus’ words be true;
          let us find out what will happen to Jesus.
          For if Jesus be the son of God, he will defend Jesus and deliver Jesus from the hand of his foes.
          With revilement and torture let us Pharisees put Jesus to the test that we may try Jesus’ patience.
          Let us Pharisees condemn Jesus to a shameful death;
          for according to Jesus’ own words, God will take care of him.
          These were the Pharisees’ thoughts, but they erred;
          for their wickedness blinded them, and the Pharisees knew not the hidden counsels of God;
          neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent soul’s reward.”

          Again, I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Another Old Testament passage is from the prophet Isaiah. This was written centuries before the birth of Christ. Again, I’ll provide the passage and then we’ll see if this is about Jesus:

          “See my servant shall prosper,
          he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
          Even as many were amazed at him—
          so marred was his look beyond that of man,
          and his appearance beyond that of mortals—
          So shall he startle many nations,
          because of him kings shall stand speechless;
          For those who have not been told shall see,
          those who have not heard shall ponder it.”

          “Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
          He grew up like a sapling before him,
          like a shoot from the parched earth;
          There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
          nor appearance that would attract us to him.
          He was spurned and avoided by men,
          a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
          One of those from whom men hide their faces,
          spurned, and we held him in no esteem.”

          “Yet i was our infirmities that he bore,
          our sufferings that he endured,
          While we thought of him as stricken,
          one smitten by God and afflicted.
          But he was pierced for our offenses,
          crushed for our sins,
          Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
          by his stripes we were healed.
          We had all gone astray like sheep,
          each following his own way;
          But the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all.
          Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth;
          Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
          and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
          When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people,
          A grave was assigned him among the wicked and burial place with evil doers,
          Though he had done no wrong and spoken no falsehood.
          (But the Lord was pleased to crush him in infirmity.)”

          “If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
          he shall see his descendants in a long life,
          and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him.
          Because of his affliction
          he shall see the light in the fulness of days;
          Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.
          Therefore I wil give him his portion among the great,
          and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
          Because he surrendered himself to death
          and was counted among the wicked;
          And he shall take away the sins of many,
          and win pardon for their offenses.”

          Isaiah 52:13-53:12

          Now, let’s replace the places referring to this suffering “servant” with the name Jesus and see if it fits. Christians claim it does.

          “See, my servant Jesus shall prosper,
          Jesus shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
          Even as many were amazed at Jesus—
          so marred was Jesus’ look beyond that of man,
          and Jesus’ appearance beyond that of mortals—
          So shall Jesus startle many nations,
          because of Jesus kings shall stand speechless;
          For those who have not been told shall see,
          those who have not heard shall ponder it.”

          “Who would believe what we have heard?
          To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
          Jesus grew up like a sapling before him,
          like a shoot from the parched earth;
          There was in Jesus no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him.
          Jesus was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
          One of those from whom men hide their faces,
          spurned and we held Jesus in no esteem.”

          “Yet it was our infirmities Jesus bore, our sufferings that Jesus endured,
          While we thought of Jesus as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted.
          But Jesus was pierced for our offenses,
          crushed for our sins,
          Upon Jesus was was the chastisement that makes us whole, by Jesus’ stripes we were healed.
          We had all gone astray like sheep,
          each following his own way;
          But the Lord laid upon Jesus the guilt of us all.
          Though Jesus was harshly treated, Jesus submitted and opened not his mouth. Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, Jesus was silent and opened not his mouth.
          Oppressed and condemned, Jesus was taken away,
          and who would have thought any more of Jesus’ destiny?
          When Jesus was cut off from the land of the living,
          and smitten for the sin of his people,
          A grave was assigned Jesus among the wicked and burial place with evildoers,
          Though Jesus had done no wrong
          nor spoken any falsehood.
          (But the Lord was pleased to crush Jesus in infirmity).”

          If Jesus gives his life as an offering for sin,
          Jesus shall see his descendants in a long life,
          and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through Jesus.
          Because of Jesus’ affliction
          Jesus shall see the light in fullness of days;
          Through Jesus’ suffering, my servant Jesus shall justify many,
          and their guilt Jesus shall bear.
          Therefore I will give Jesus his portion among the great,
          and Jesus shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
          Because Jesus surrendered himself to death
          and was counted among the wicked;
          And Jesus shall take away the sins of many,
          and win pardon for their offenses.”

          Christians make certain claims about these passages. One, that they were written before Jesus was born–sometimes many centuries before Jesus was born. Two, that they were written by Jewish, not Christian authors. Three, that there are dozens and dozens of such passages in the Old Testament referring to Jesus. What is the atheist response to this?

          Thanks again. Enjoy your dinner with Peter Boghossian.

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

          Here, Christians claim that Jesus says Moses wrote about Jesus.

          I only care about the specific claims of OT prophecy. This is way too vague.

          Here, Christians claim Jesus is saying that the Old Testament prophets said that the Messiah should suffer.

          The messiah”? Why just one? Every high priest and king was an anointed one.

          ‘Thus it is written that the Messiah …

          I need specific OT quotes.

          First up is a cite from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom

          Is this canonical in any Protestant church?

          let’s read the passage again, put this time let’s replace the reference to the “just one” with the name “Jesus” and replace the words “the wicked” with the term “The Pharisees” (i.e., the Jewish authorities who opposed Jesus in the Gospels and planned and orchestrated his death). Christians claim it fits.

          And this makes a very poor prophecy. I’ve written about lots of prophecies (Isaiah 52, Ps. 22, Is. 7, Daniel) on this blog. Poke around to find them if you’re interested.

          Where are you on these claims of prophecy?

          What is the atheist response to this?

          That these are laughably pitiful “prophecies.” Everyone knows what good prophecies look like, and these aren’t that.

        • Joe

          Bob,

          Thank you for your reply and my apologies for being so late in replying. Indeed, perhaps you are no longer even checking this blog. Again, I’m a day late (actually four days late) and a dollar short.

          Assuming anyone is still reading this blog, I’ll try a response. Again, forgive me for my tardiness.

          As you recall, I asked you for your take on two OT prophesies. One from the Book of Wisdom and the other from Isaiah 52 and 53. Your response was that these were “laughably pitiful prophesies”. While you did reference me to an article you wrote on prophesies (which I read) and to your take on certain prophesies (which I was unable to find), I’m basically left with your response of these two prophesies as:

          “laughably pitiful prophesies”.

          Aren’t you supposed to provide me with a specific reason? Isn’t mere mocking a Logical fallacy? Is this a Socratic response?

          Is this the discussion and challenge to a person’s beliefs you spoke of earlier (which I agreed with)?
          Am I supposed to question Christians when they bring up OT prophesies by name calling?

          Anyway, hope you enjoyed your dinner with Peter last Sunday. Be well. Maybe you’re still checking this blog. If so, I welcome your response.

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

          Thanks for the reply.

          perhaps you are no longer even checking this blog.

          Nothing escapes the notice of the all-seeing Eye of the Dark Lord.

          One [prophecy] from the Book of Wisdom and the other from Isaiah 52 and 53. Your response was that these were “laughably pitiful prophesies”.

          The Book of Wisdom is noncanonical within the Protestant church, which is why I ignored that one. I’d rather focus just on the popular prophecy claims.

          I address the Isaiah 53 prophecy here.

          Search for other prophecies—the virgin birth in Is. 7, Ps. 22, or Daniel are ones that I’ve discussed.

        • Joe

          Bob, Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I read your address on Isaiah 53. Interesting. Did you get the chance to read some of Plato’s “Republic”?

          I asked Pofarmer if he has read the 20th century atheist Jean Paul Sartre and his take on his writings. If you have read Sartre, I’d appreciate the same from you. In particular the following passage from Sartre’s book “Existentialism and Human Emotions” (pages 21-22):

          “God does not exist and we have to face all the consequences of this. The existentialist (atheist) is strongly opposed to a certain kind of secular ethics which would like to abolish God with the least possible expense…something like this: God is a useless and costly hypothesis; we are discarding it; but, meanwhile, in order for there to be an ethics, a society, a civilization, it is essential that certain values be taken seriously and that they be considered as having an a priori existence. It must be obligatory, a priori, to be honest, not to lie, not to beat your wife, to have children, etc., etc. So we’re going to try a little device which will make it possible to show that values exist all the same, inscribed in a heaven of ideas, though otherwise God does not exist. We shall find ourselves with the same norms of honesty, progress, and humanism and we shall have made of God an outdated hypothesis which will peacefully die off by itself.”

          “The existentialist (atheist), on the contrary, thinks it very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, that we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plane where there are only men. Dostoyevski said, ‘ If God does not exist, everything would be possible (permissible).’ That is the very starting point of existentialism. In deed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to.”

          As always, I’d appreciate your thoughtful insights.

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

          No, I haven’t read Sartre. Unfortunately, this passage doesn’t make me want to start.

          Let me quote another philosopher, Penn Jillette:

          The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine.

          We don’t need God to keep us in line. Indeed, the Bible makes clear that even with God we won’t stay in line.

          The error is in thinking that morality, meaning, purpose, and similar words have objective grounding. They don’t. Look them up.

        • 90Lew90

          “The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine.”

          Exactly! I’ve put that to Christians often, that if they think that without their god they would be raping, murdering, lying, sinning scumbags, they speak for themselves and there is no justification for them to judge others by their own standard.

        • MNb

          I totally agree with Jillette. In fact I hadn’t thought about this myself, so this is a fine example of what philosophy has done for me lately.
          Hehheh.

        • Joe

          Bob, Thanks for your thoughtful reply. 21 days ago we had the following exchange:

          Joe: “I’ve read a number of them (atheists) including Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris as well as some of the atheists of the early 20th century and 19th century.”

          Bob: “Good for you for trying to understand the other guy’s position.”

          Now, you say (from four days ago above): “I haven’t read Sartre. Unfortunately, this passage doesn’t make me want to start.”

          Shouldn’t you want to read Sartre to try to understand the other guy’s (Sartre’s) position?

          Next, you use Sartre’s (an atheist) statement to launch an attack on “religious people”? Obviously, Sartre was not a religious person. And Sartre’s position that I quoted is not my position. I know a lot of moral atheists and agnostics. I know a lot of immoral religious people. And vice versa.

          Why the attack on “religious people” when I ask a question about Sartre?

          You and I are not in a debate. I know this because I rarely debate. I try to dialogue.

          Jillette gets asked this question by “religious people” “all the time”? He must travel in different circles than I do.

          Finally, you state that “The error is in thinking that morality, meaning, and purpose, and similar words have objective grounding. They don’t.”

          Interesting. What’s your basis for this?

          Thanks again for your very thoughtful reply. I certainly enjoy listening to what you have to say.

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

          Shouldn’t you want to read Sartre to try to understand the other guy’s (Sartre’s) position?

          I don’t much care about Sartre’s position. There is much I have yet to learn, and I have to prioritize. Intrigue me about Sartre, and I’ll move him higher in the list. Right now, I’m more interested in your position.

          You and I are not in a debate. I know this because I rarely debate. I try to dialogue.

          Jillette gets asked this question by “religious people” “all the time”? He must travel in different circles than I do.

          I imagine that Jillette seeks out debate. I certainly do. Yes, we might well travel in different circles than you do.

          Finally, you state that “The error is in thinking that morality, meaning, and purpose, and similar words have objective grounding. They don’t.”

          Interesting. What’s your basis for this?

          The dictionary. Look up “morality,” “good,” “purpose,” and other words. There is no objective grounding in their definitions.

          If you think that morality is objectively grounded, for example, show me. I’ve heard many claims for this, but no one every tries to give a justification of this. Search “objective morality” at this blog for more.

        • Joe

          Bob, Hope all is well with you. I apologize again for being late to respond. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

          Just to rehash:

          Bob (6 days ago): “The error is in thinking that morality, meaning, and purpose, and similar words have objective grounding. They don’t.”

          Joe: “Interesting. What’s your basis for this?”

          Bob (6 days ago): “The dictionary. Look up “morality”, “good,” “purpose,” and other words. There is no objective grounding in their definitions…I’ve heard many claims for this (objective morality etc) but no one ever tries to give a justification of this.”

          Again, thanks for the thoughtful reply. I need some clarification here if you don’t mind. When you say:

          “I’ve heard many claims for this (objective morality etc) but no one ever tries to give a justification of this.”

          Are you saying you have not heard the reasons which support the idea of objective morality?

          Thanks again.

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

          Didn’t I already answer this? Correct: I’ve never heard anything but a laughably childish justification for the claim of objective morality. I invite yours. (And it would probably be best to include your definition of “objective.”)

        • Joe

          Bob, Thanks again for your reply. And I appreciate your invitation for my thoughts on objective vs. subjective morality. I must respectively decline as I try (not always successfully) not to get involved in issues which might lead to disputation. As I previously said, I prefer dialectic. Boghossian, based on the little I read about him, seems to favor dialectic as well. I think I may have mentioned that Plato’s Republic contrasts “disputation vs. dialectic” very well. For instance, Thrasymachus wants an argument with Socrates while Socrates doesn’t argue. Thrasymachus calls Socrates a “fool” (paragraph 343d) and here’s one of Thrasymachus’ exchanges:

          1) “What a bunch of drivel, Socrates! Why are you (i.e., Socrates and some others) deferentially bowing and scraping to each other like simpletons? If you really want to know what morality is, then don’t just ask questions (a major component of dialectic) and look for applause by refuting any and every answer you get (ironic since this is actually more like disputation than dialectic), because you’ve realized that it’s easier to ask questions than it is to answer them. No, state an opinion yourself: say what you think morality is. And make sure you state your view clearly and precisely, without saying that it is a duty or benefit or profit or gain or advantage; I won’t let you get away with any rubbish like that.” (paragraph 336d)

          The Republic also states that Thrasamachus was “furious”.

          I think I lost track at how many logical fallacies Thrasymachus committed in just a few sentences. Thrasymachus even wants to argue that Socrates shouldn’t be using dialectic and should be arguing like Thrasymachus is. Thrasymachus is also annoyed that the dialectic has been so cordial (a feature of dialectic). This is often (though not always) what occurs in disputation. Of course, the goal in every disputation is the same. To win the argument. That’s the goal. Now, let’s look at a dialectic between Socrates and Glaucon (Plato’s brother) later in the Republic. Here, Socrates and Glaucon are discussing disputation vs. dialectic:

          Socrates: “You know, Glaucon…a lot of people find themselves unconsciously seduced by (disputation)…The reason for this is their inability to conduct the inquiry by dividing the subject-matter into its various aspects (i.e., dialectic). Instead their goal is the contradiction of statements at the purely verbal level, and they converse with one another eristically (i.e., disputation), not dialectically.” (paragraph 454)

          Glaucon: “Yes, that’s a common phenomenon. But does it have any relevance to our current situation?”

          Socrates: “Nothing could be more relevant. At any rate, we’re in danger of unconsciously resorting to disputation.”

          Why are Socrates and Glaucon “in danger” of falling into “disputation” when they are doing dialectic? Because dialectic can easily fall into disputation due to several factors including weak human reason and cognitive bias (which I’ll address in a moment).

          A Cambridge professor’s notes accompanying my copy of the Republic:

          “Dialectic is philosophical discussion whose goal is the truth and improvement of life; the interlocutor is seen by its practitioner…as a fellow-traveller. (Disputation’s) goal is the confusion and refutation of an interlocutor who is seen as an opponent.”

          As I stated earlier: Human reason is weak. Aristotle stated this. Therefore, it was well known by philosophers who read Aristotle ever since. Human reason is weak in all men–obviously some more than others. And human reason can be trained. But, it remains weak. The atheist Freud stated this and wrote extensively on it in Civilization and Its Discontents. Who knows more than anyone that “Human Reason is Weak”? Advertisers.

          From a philosopher:

          “Reason works slowly…Feeling does not work like that, but works instantly, and is always ready.”

          Reason is hindered by passions and emotions. The same philosopher:

          “(Passions) are the dominant faculty in man, master of error and falsehood, all the more deceptive for not being invariably so; for it would be an infallible criteria of truth if it were infallibly that of lies. Since, however, it is usually false, it gives no indication of its quality, setting the same mark on true and false alike…”

          “This arrogant force, which checks and dominates its enemy, reason, for the pleasure of showing the power it has in every sphere, has established a second nature in man…Nothing annoys us more than to see it satisfy its guests more fully and completely than reason ever could. Those who are clever in (passions) are far more pleased with themselves than prudent men could reasonably be. They look down on people with a lofty air; they are bold and confident in argument, where others are timid and unsure…”

          “Reason never wholly overcomes (passions and emotions), while the contrary is quite common…”

          Human reason is weak. This is why arguments break down into logical fallacies and why dialectics can break down into arguments.

          Also, cognitive bias. Perhaps you are familiar with the concept. I first heard of it from the atheist Sam Harris. Here’s an oversimplified definition. Cognitive bias is where we prefer our own ideas to other ideas especially those that compete with our ideas. There is both a positive and negative aspect to cognitive bias. The positive aspect is that cognitive bias keeps us from changing out mind every ten seconds. The negative aspect is that we are reluctant and slow to change our views even with additional evidence. Evidence that challenges our ideas are dismissed out of hand. It’s not impossible to change ideas (obviously) but it tends to be a slow process.

          This is merely my understanding. If there’s anything new here you find useful, feel free to use it. If not, feel free to ignore it or reject it.

          Thanks for listening.

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

          I must respectively decline as I try (not always successfully) not to get involved in issues which might lead to disputation.

          I like your polite style, though perhaps you’re taking that to extremes by avoiding argument.

          Boghossian, based on the little I read about him, seems to favor dialectic as well.

          When the subject is belief not grounded on evidence, yes. By contrast, my belief is grounded on evidence. Show me that my analysis is flawed, and I’ll change as appropriate.

          you’ve realized that it’s easier to ask questions than it is to answer them

          I think Thrasymachus has a good point here! I see many Christians using questions simply as a way to parry attacks that they can’t respond to.

          (Disputation’s) goal is the confusion and refutation of an interlocutor who is seen as an opponent.

          Yes, I do often see this: both that the other is an opponent who must be vanquished and that argumentation is often used as a smokescreen or caltrop to avoid directly confronting issues that are difficult.

          Also, cognitive bias. Perhaps you are familiar with the concept.

          Yes, quite familiar.

          Now, with that throat clearing out of the way, do you want to discuss anything interesting?

        • Joe

          Bob, Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. Here’s my reply:

          Bob: “I like your polite style though perhaps you’re taking it to extremes by avoiding argument.”

          Joe: I think I do go to extremes to avoid argument. Not because arguments are necessarily bad in and of themselves. But because by their very nature (combined with the fact that human reason is weak) they often–but not always–break down into name calling, straw men and other logical fallacies. Waaay too often for my taste. Not that dialectic can’t break down into argument (as Socrates pointed out in the Republic) and then further break down into logical fallacies)

          Bob: (Boghossian favors dialectic) “When the subject is belief not based on evidence.”

          Joe: Boghossian only uses dialectic when the subject is not based on evidence? He doesn’t use it when the subject is based on evidence? Dialectic is a great way (though not the only way) to discover if a subject is not based on evidence. It’s usually one of my first questions: What’s your basis (or evidence) for this assertion? Often (not always) an issue has some evidence supporting each side. A legal trial is a good example. In a criminal trial, the prosecutor presents evidence of a defendant’s guilt. The defense cross examines that evidence. Then, the defense will often (not always) present evidence of the defendant’s innocence. There’s evidence on both sides. How does one decide whether the defendant is innocent or guilty? Obviously, one is required to shift through the evidence. Weigh the evidence. Decide which evidence carries more weight. Which evidence is relevant etc. And then after weighing the evidence, one still needs to come to a logical conclusion.

          Anecdote–I was a juror on a murder trial a couple years ago. The trial was a month long. The jury spent many hours together. We were all quite cordial and friendly. People going to lunch together. Then deliberations started. Everyone continued being cordial for a day or two. Around the beginning of day three, the jury was 10-2 to convict. I was with the majority. Things started to disintegrate quickly. A number of majority began to rip into the “holdouts”. Calling them names (ad hominem attacks) and ridiculing their arguments. Leading the way in these logical fallacies was a college professor with a Ph.D. in mathematics. I thought to myself “This is not helpful”. Instead of patiently leading the holdouts through strength of the evidence and the logic of their conclusions, they decided to try to bludgeon them into submission.

          This is the problem with arguments. They all too often fall into logical fallacies and bludgeoning. Dialectic is less likely (though no guarantee) of this happening.

          Bob: “…my belief is grounded on evidence.”

          Joe: I believe this to be true.

          Bob: “Show me that my analysis is flawed, and I’ll change as appropriate.”

          Joe: I’m sure you have changed your mind at times by being persuaded by evidence and being shown that your analysis was flawed. But, you’re not subject to cognitive bias? I thought all humans were. The atheist Freud at least partially disagrees with you here. Advertisers are betting hundreds of billions of dollars that your statement is not totally true.

          The agnostic scientist Carl Sagan (sorry I don’t have the cite) said that scientists sometimes change their minds when presented with new evidence. It doesn’t happen quickly. And it doesn’t always happen. And it certainly doesn’t happen as much as it should. But, it does happen. Then he asks: How often does that happen with political or religious arguments?

          Bob: “I see many Christians using questions simply as a way to parry attacks they can’t respond to.”

          Joe: I’m sure that’s true. But, only Christians? You have never seen an atheist do that? Also, have you considered that some Christians might be able to respond to questioning and challenges which are not in the nature of “attacks”? Perhaps they don’t respond well when being bludgeoned?

          Also, I hope you don’t confuse the cordial nature of dialectic with not being rigorous or extremely challenging and questioning. I notice you have a book called “Cross Examined”. Socrates was doing that 2400 years ago. And you noticed how Thrasymachus was “furious” at Socrates even as Socrates remained cordial? Indeed, Socrates “was heartily disliked by many” (Meno paragraph 28a). That’s why they had him put to death.

          I welcome any comments.

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

          I’m sure you have changed your mind at times by being persuaded by evidence and being shown that your analysis was flawed. But, you’re not subject to cognitive bias?

          Of course I am. That and more. But so what? Does that mean that I should just throw in the towel and not bother coming to any sort of intelligent evaluation of the evidence? I say, no. I don’t claim to be perfect, just that I reach intelligent conclusions better than chance.

          The agnostic scientist Carl Sagan (sorry I don’t have the cite) said …

          He said: “In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.” [1987 CSICOP keynote address]

          I’m sure that’s true. But, only Christians? You have never seen an atheist do that?

          Yes, atheists, too.

          Also, I hope you don’t confuse the cordial nature of dialectic with not being rigorous or extremely challenging and questioning.

          My interest is in getting into arguments for and against Christianity. If that’s not how you roll, that’s fine—I’ll get into it with someone else.

        • Joe

          Bob, Thanks for your reply. I think I’ll make an exception and enter into an argument with you over the topic we discussed–“objective morality”, if that’s agreeable to you.

          Before we get into that, I’d like to go over a bit of our past dialogue:

          Bob: “I see many Christians using questions simply as a way to parry attacks they can’t respond to.”

          Joe: “…only Christians? You have never seen an atheist do that?”

          Bob: “Yes, atheists, too.”

          Joe: Was your statement–“I see many Christians using questions simply as a way to parry attacks they can’t respond to”–a half-truth, a logical fallacy?

          I look forward to our discussion on “objective morality”.

          Be well.

        • Pofarmer

          Without getting into a bunch of cut and paste because, frankly disqus is eating my comments. Your OT passages are pretty much useless, simply because the NT authors also had access to those texts. The common mythicist argument is that Paul and the apostles in Jerusalem were mining the OT for passages relating to the messiah, and had developed their theology based on that and the idea of a celestial, astrological messiah. This is reasonable because the Gospels, especially, are Greek compositions, and the Hebrews would have been experiencing a lot of “new” Greek and Roman thought. What is more likely, that OT “prophesies” could correctly foretell the future, or that future authors used these stories in their own writings. It’s rather like the prophesies fulfilled in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.

        • MNb

          “The common mythicist argument ….”
          This position is not exclusive to mythicists – it’s consensus among historians of Antiquity. Though I’d maintain that “the Gospels are Greek compositions” is quite a stretch (and in fact contradicted by your statement that Paul, the apostles and/or the authors of the Gospels quoted from the OT – btw I would like to know how mythicists argue for apostles without a messias). Here is another source, definitely non-Greek, even though written in that language:

          http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/fbe266.htm

          It got its definite form in the 2nd Century CE.

          Several prophesies in Harry Potter are better constructed – that goofy teacher makes a few which are ridiculed by everyone and still come “true”. Even more fun is that no single character recognizes it – they only recognize the self-fulfilling ones!

        • Pofarmer

          “Though I’d maintain that “the Gospels are Greek compositions” is quite a
          stretch (and in fact contradicted by your statement that Paul, the
          apostles and/or the authors of the Gospels quoted from the OT.”

          It’s a combination of Greek thought and Hebrew religious ideas. At least that ‘s the way I see it. Mark was a pretty skilled composer. The Gospels have ideas from the Septuagint instead of the Hebrew Torah, in most places, meaning that their authors were probably Greek speakers and not familiar with Hebrew. Educated Jews should have either quoted the Hebrew passages or at least knew the Greek was wrong.

          “btw I would like to know how mythicists argue for apostles without a messias).”

          Apostles are/were “messengers.” ie, you could spread the message of a celestial Christ just as easy as a real one. Also keep in mind that you had priests of Apollo, etc running around. I assume you don’t believe in an historical Apollo?

        • Pofarmer

          Interesting link, thanks.

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

          (Disqus doesn’t usually lose comments, but it often seems to misplace them. Click on Load More Comments at the bottom over and over until all comments are loaded in, and then you should find any comment you made.)

        • Joe

          Pofarmer, My apologies for responding so late. Indeed, perhaps you are no longer checking this blog. I thank you for your thoughtful response. With regards to the Christian claim that the OT prophesies were “Paul and the apostles in Jerusalem were mining the OT for passages relating to the messiah…”

          Here’s some questions:

          1) You mean Paul and the apostles lied? If so, why not say so directly?

          2) Why do people lie? Isn’t it to get something good?

          3) What did Paul and the apostles get? Wasn’t it persecution, torture and death. Are these considered great perks?

          I welcome your response. Be well.

        • Pofarmer

          1) Did Joseph Smith Lie? L Ron Hubbard? Worshipers of Zeus? Apollo? Saith Sye Babba? Founders of Dianetics? Worshipers of Mithras? Gnostics? The Cathars? Muslims? See where I’m going with this? I’m sure that Paul and Cephas and James thought they had found great new revelations in the scriptures. We see this all the time even today. Where they lying? No more than any other religious cult. Paul says that Jesus was revealed to him through the scriptures, and not from an human. It’s pretty straight forward.

          2) See 1.

          3) See 1. People die for bad reasons all the time.

        • Joe

          Pofarmer,

          Thanks for your response.

          1) Does this mean you think Paul and the Apostles lied? I’m still not sure if that is what you mean.

          2) Some atheists claim that Paul and the Apostles “lied”. Deliberately intended to mislead people. Other atheists say that the apostles had a hallucination when they “saw” Jesus on Easter Sunday.

          3) Assuming that Joseph Smith, L Ron Hubbard, Worshipers of Zeus, Apollo et al all lied or was mistaken (I’m not saying they were or were not), does it then automatically follow that Paul and the Apostles lied or were misled themselves?

          As always, I look forward to your response. Be well.

        • Pofarmer

          I thought I was fairly clear on 1). First off, all Paul mainly mentions are the two main apostles in Jerusalem, Cephas and James. It looks like they were a triumvarate. There is only one passing mention of the twelve that is probably an interpolation.

          2). Easter sunday is a story in the later Gospels. Paul never mentions it. He just says that he got his info through “revelations” from the scriptures, and he thinks the others got their info the same way.

          3). I wouldn’t automatically assume anything, but it does present a pattern. There were a multitude of religions, mystery and otherwise going on at the time.

          What it looks like is that Cephas and James were preaching a cricified messiah that was going to come down from heaven and kick ass(or something) and Paul joined up. The later Gospels nearly completely fictions built on this.

        • Joe

          Pofarmer, Thank you for your reply.

          Have you read the 20th Century atheist Jean Paul Sartre? If so, I’d like your take on his writings. In particular the following passage from his book “Existentialism and Human Emotions”(pages 21-22):

          “God does not exist and we have to face all the consequences of this. The existentialist (atheist) is strongly opposed to a certain kind of secular ethics which would like to abolish God with the least possible expense…something like this: God is useless and costly hypothesis; we are discarding it; but, meanwhile, in order for their to be ethics, a society, a civilization, it is essential that certain values be taken seriously and that they be considered as having a priori existence. It must be obligatory, a priori, to be honest, not to be your wife, to have children, etc., etc. So we’re going to try a little device which will make it possible to show that values exist all the same, inscribed in a heaven of ideas, though otherwise God does not exist. We shall find ourselves with the same norms of honesty, progress, and humanism and we shall have made of God an outdated hypothesis which will peacefully die off by itself.”

          “The existentialist (atheist), on the contrary, thinks it is very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, that we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plane where there are only men. Dostoyevski said, ‘If God didn’t exist, everything would be possible (permissible).’ This is the very starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to.”

          If you could give me your take on Sartre in general (if you have read him) and this passage in particular, it would be greatly appreciated. As always, thank you sharing with me your thoughtful insights.

        • MNb

          Far from all atheists are existentialists and not all existentialists are atheists. The founder of existentialism was a christian called Kierkegaard.
          If existentialism means “everything would be possible (permissible)” I’m not an existentialist. But as far as I understand existentialism a la both Kierkegaard and Sartre it is a little more. It’s about making choices. I have made my choice indeed regarding ethics. It took me 15 years, but it works for me. Subsequently I have noticed that many, many people who don’t share my choice still largely come to the same ethical views. After 10 years I’ve got used to it, but it still surprises me that my female counterpart, a practicing muslima, almost always shares my views on good and bad.
          Humans being humans of course mainly the differences are debated, especially on internet.

        • Joe

          MNb: Thanks for your thoughtful reply. You state:

          MNb: “Far from all atheists are existentialists and not all existentialists are atheists.”

          Joe: Agreed.

          MNb: “If existentialism means ‘everything would be possible (permissible)’ I’m not an existentialist.”

          Joe: Glad to hear it.

          MNb: But as far as I understand existentialism a la both Kerkegarrd and Sartre it is a little more.”

          Joe: I have the same understanding.

          MNb: “I’s about making choices.”

          Joe: That’s certainly a big part of Sartre’s philosophy (as I understand it) as well.

          MNb: “…many, many people who don’t share my choice still largely come to share the same ethical views…it still surprises me that my female counterpart, practicing muslima, almost always shares my views on good and bad.”

          Joe: Interesting. Why do you think that is? Do you think we all know basically what is good and bad (even as we disagree on many of the specifics)? Do you think morality is objective (i.e., stealing is wrong, in all places, in all cultures, in all times)?

          Thanks again for your thoughtful reply.

        • MNb

          I don’t really know, though I have noted that many believers far from always refer to their Holy Books when making moral decisions.
          That is very possible and seems to be confirmed by the research of Frans de Waal.
          No. Morality depends on the subject. If cats and ants have morals they will differ enormously. Humans may have largely (or not so largely) the same morality because they belong to the same biological species.
          You’re welcome.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ll have to admit to not being current on my 20th century French philosophers.

        • Joe

          Pofarmer, Any thoughts on Sartre’s quote that I provided?

          I’m interested in your opinion.

          Thanks.

        • Pofarmer

          Honestly? I think e idea that morality is grounded in something outside of humanity and out experiences is false and demonstrably so. First off, look at the behavior of other social primates, then other social mammals, which is the vast majority. We exhibit much the same behavior as pretty much all life on thr planet, which indicates to me that cooperation, in it’s simplest form, is an evolved respomse. Secondly, look at the difference in morals even today. Look at the values of the Hindu Caste System. Look at the morality of fundamentalist Muslims who believe it is perfectly o.k. to throw acid on the face of a “wayward” woman, or that honor killings are perfectly acceptable. And those are just a couple of examples, the list would get quite long. So, rather than the idea that morals are somekind of a transcendental value, and honest look around shows that they are a human construct, developed and passed on by our genes, and our societies. Some of it we are born with, some of it we are taught. Rather than giving us angst, it shoiuld give us hope that the moral failings of or age can and will be addressed.

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

          Creationists like to imagine that “might makes right” is how evolution works, ignoring the advantages of cooperation.

        • Pofarmer

          Yes, but no scientist or evolutionist believes that, and the evidence is just too obvious across too many groups and species to completely ignore ot, although they’d prefer to. You have to dismiss literally mountains of evidence, granted some of it developed or popularized fairly recently, to come to a conclusion of some transcendental source of morality.

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

          Agreed, but it’s not like the lone Creationist has any problem imagining himself Judge of All Science. They seem quite comfortable doing it frequently.

        • MNb

          At which point I always refer to Pjotr Kropotkin, who spend five years in the Siberian wilderness and concluded that cooperation can have many evolutionary advantages indeed. He did so in 1862, well before the words creationist and fundamentalist were invented:

          http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_evolution/2012/10/evolution_of_cooperation_russian_anarchist_prince_peter_kropotkin_and_the.html

        • Joe

          Pofarmer, Thanks for your thoughtful reply and my apologizes for taking so long to respond. On another note, I ordered the book you recommended “True Believers”.

          Thanks again.

        • TCG

          Human nature unless they were suffering from psychosis (all10 who were killed) judas hung himself and another was put on an island, if they lied then they would’ve cracked like all of us would

        • Pofarmer

          What in the fuck are you talking about? We don’t have good evidence that even one were killed, for starters. All we have is legends.

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

          Is this the “Who would die for a lie?” argument? I’ve responded here.

        • MNb

          The Socratic method is great for a teacher who wants to show that a pupil knows more than he/she assumes him/herself.

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

          Reminds me of the “best caller ever” on the Atheist Experience. In response to a Christian caller talking about his mother getting better:

          “What do you call it when a person is perfectly healthy and then drops dead–is that proof that God does not exist?”

          “No, that’s just proof that whatever happens to that person, happens.”

          (later) “Do you believe in unicorns?”

          “No.”

          “Why?”

          “Because unicorns are fairy tales, and it hasn’t been proven that there is one.”

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJxCFa8YmbQ&feature=kp

        • MNb

          Spot on. This is the Socratic method in full flight, not the cheap rhetorical version.

        • TheNuszAbides

          (I’m meeting him for dinner in a few days—should be interesting).

          hey, how did that dinner go? (if it was mentioned in another post since, i’ve obviously missed it)

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

          It was interesting. He practices Brazilian jujitsu and is a professor in Portland. He engages people on religion all the time–in lines at the grocery store, for example. Impressive, but I doubt I’ll be doing that soon.

        • TheNuszAbides

          at least one living philosopher setting a reasonably ‘good’ example, no? perhaps still not something that’s been “done for you lately” {nudge, nudge}, but.
          i’ve caught him speaking about ‘street epistemology’ at INR (via the ‘tube). promoting inquiry way out in the open seems like one of the better things any of us could do with our time.

          do you do book-clubbing? disclaimer: i’ve tried twice and failed. slow reader (for absorption) in general and massively distracted (on occasion) from reading by games and/or online pursuits*. but i was thinking i shouldn’t review Hume** alone:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baeg47KS-jo&list=WL&index=10

          *: not a euphemism for porn. (though i am sad i keep missing HUMP!)

          **: according to Matt Dillahunty, iirc, the only philosophy anybody needs to read.

          P.S.

          please delete this if ‘dinner + clubbing + hump + professor in Portland’ attracts any bad news. (now, if i note that i am mock-shaking my fist at the wayback machine, is this page automatically more likely to get captured?)

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

          6 hours of Hume? That’s a bit much for me, I’m afraid. I’ll read the abbreviated Cliff Notes version, but I don’t think I have the interest or patience for this one.

          I missed HUMPfest this year as well. It’s crazy good fun.

  • King Dave

    The picture shows the effects of real religious bigotry in action.

    It’s what Arab Muslims did to the remaining black Muslims in Sudan, driving them out to the desert to starve

  • King Dave

    Great article once again Bob.

    Here are 350 more comments on your article, including questions for you if you are interested and just can’t get enough reaction. I told them to visit your blog and ask away for you are not shy.

    http://king-dave.newsvine.com/_news/2014/06/16/24356978-10-questions-christians-must-answer?lite#threadId4066658-lastNewId84167309

  • Asmondius

    Well, here comes Bob with another platoon of straw men.

    1. This is the old ‘Why isn’t God like Santa Claus?’ routine. And the old sawbones about missing limbs makes it even more antique. The hilarity really begins when you insist on ‘scientific evidence’ – from the same science that can’t cure cancer or regenerate limbs itself? Oh, I know Bob. It ‘coming’, right? Well, so is Christmas.

    I know of no Christians who believe that limbs miraculously regenerate. That sure looks like a self-serving fable you set up. The answer is that regardless of what God may do, our physical existence is mortal and finite at this point in time. Where does He stop before we no longer have a free will? God is not a helicopter parent. He would much rather see your science buddies use the talent He gave them to accomplish these things instead of finding new ways to kill unborn children or make designer babies. Christians need not answer your question because it is based upon a false premise

    2. Because other people don’t care enough. ibid #1

    3..The Bible is not a science manual and science is not an arbiter of religion. Incidentally Genesis is profoundly correct on many topics that human ‘science’ did not discover until long after. Since you can’t possibly discount Eden or the Flood, that is just your own biased opinion. That’s politics, not science.

    4. Because we live in an imperfect world – obviously.

    5. No need to. Christianity is not centered around Christ appearing to anyone. Don’t feel so left out.

    In summation, you have presented one bigoted opinion and four star man arguments. Not exactly a convincing post..

    • 90Lew90

      “In summation, you have presented one bigoted opinion and four star man arguments.”

      “…He’d like to come and meet us,
      But he thinks he’d blow our minds.”

      • TheNuszAbides

        let all the children boogie.

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

      Well, here comes Bob with another platoon of straw men.

      Fasten your seat belts, folks! Looks like I’m about to get a good thrashing.

      1. This is the old ‘Why isn’t God like Santa Claus?’ routine.

      And the Christian says that he’s not like Santa Claus. He’s not like a loving father. Indeed, he’s not like anything that actually exists.

      And the Christian wonders why his faith isn’t compelling to outsiders …

      The hilarity really begins when you insist on ‘scientific evidence’ – from the same science that can’t cure cancer or regenerate limbs itself?

      I’m missing your point completely. You’ll have to explain in detail what you’re saying.

      I know of no Christians who believe that limbs miraculously regenerate.

      Never said they did. What I did (you should probably read the post) was to summarize Christian rationalizations for why God doesn’t do this. If you want to add, go ahead. Just read the punch line to know what explanation you’re trying to beat.

      Where does He stop before we no longer have a free will?

      What does this mean? That God restoring amputated limbs means no free will?

      He would much rather see your science buddies use the talent He gave them to accomplish these things

      Said another way: Yes, in this case, God looks nonexistent. He really does exist … but as far as the evidence indicates, he doesn’t.

      2. Because other people don’t care enough. ibid #1

      And my prior response applies as well. As far as evidence would indicate, God doesn’t exist.

      3..The Bible is not a science manual and science is not an arbiter of religion.

      Ditto answer.

      Incidentally Genesis is profoundly correct on many topics that human ‘science’ did not discover until long after.

      Oh? Show me one bit of science that Man learned first from the Bible. I can think of nothing.

      Since you can’t possibly discount Eden or the Flood

      Unparseable. Expand on your point here.

      4. Because we live in an imperfect world – obviously.

      We do live in an imperfect world. And the evidence doesn’t point to a God. Again.

      Christianity is not centered around Christ appearing to anyo ne.

      Damn my need for evidence! Here again, you say that God has no need to provide evidence. And I’m delighted to accept that. Bizarrely, you’re knocking out evidence supporting the God hypothesis with abandon. And seem quite happy to do so.

      And I return to my (unchallenged) conclusion: the hypothesis “no God” nicely explains the evidence we see with no supernatural demands.

      • Asmondius

        Bob: ‘I see no beauty in that painting, therefore my (unchallenged) conclusion: the hypothesis “not beautiful” nicely explains the evidence.’

        Bob’s Friend: “That is the most beautiful thing I ever saw’.

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

          Uh … yeah. So I guess you have no response to my points?

  • TCG

    May I point out something, question 3, we believe we came from dirt which is made of minerals and atoms corrects and you believe that we evolved, saying that all life came from a single cell, you also believe that that cell formed as a result of lightning hitting a stagnant pond with just the right minerals?? And you are calling us absurd… (Retread it now after 20 hrs sorry bt the bad grammar and formulating)

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

      First figure out what the scientific consensus is about abiogenesis before you summarize it for us. Tip: getting your science from Answers in Genesis or the Creation Research Institute is a bad idea.

      • TCG

        Sorry I don’t follow I haven’t finished school yet so I’m just like “What??”

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

          OK. Let me try again.

          You said, “You also believe that that cell formed as a result of lightning hitting a stagnant pond with just the right minerals??” No, I don’t believe that. That isn’t the scientific consensus.

          The study of what happened before evolution–the first life–is called abiogenesis. You’ll get snappy comments like the one you used from Answers in Genesis and other religious (rather than scientific) sites. If your goal is to get a pat on the head and reassurance that you’re a good boy for believing, they’re good for that. But if you want to find out the actual science (which often has loads of unanswered questions, including, “How did life start on earth?”), go to a good science site.

          Especially since you’re still in school and have a student’s mindset, I encourage you to read broadly. Go ahead and see what the religious people say. But if you want science, read Wikipedia or http://talkorigins.org/ or some other well-respected site.

        • TCG

          Thanks for your reply

        • TCG

          Thanks for the reply I did try to post a reply but it wouldn’t go through so thanks and I didn’t mean for that comment to be “snappy” sorry

        • Greg G.

          Sometimes the replies make it to Disqus but the acknowledgement doesn’t get back to your computer. If you refresh the page when you have hit a link to the comment, you usually don’t see any replies to that comment.

          The way to tell if it went through is to go to your Disqus page by clicking your name above a comment. You can find your most recent comment and it should be there.

        • TCG

          Thanks also about the slavery versus’

        • Greg G.

          Before there was life on Earth, the whole Earth was like a sterile test tube. Carbon and Hydrogen combine easily to form hydrocarbons and the oceans would be full of them. At high tide waves would splash these hydrocarbons on rocks and the rocks would bake them in the sun for a few hours. The next tide washes the baked hydrocarbons into the water and they form balls of lipids much like a cell. The lipid balls could merge with others and divide.

          Minerals in clay happen to attract certain chemicals that react to form other chemicals. When the new chemical accumulates with other new accumulating chemicals, more reactions occur. There was no free oxygen in the atmosphere so early cells were anaerobic and some produced oxygen as a waste product that was poisonous. At some point, some life forms developed a chemical pathway to use oxygen. It is thought that the early chemicals would have developed a chemical pathway cycle similar to the way the ability to use oxygen developed.

          These things were happening on a giant test tube with different temperatures and chemical mixtures for millions of years. On some particular beach out of all the beaches or some underwater volcanic vent or some other location, a lipid ball may have enclosed samples of an entire chemical cycle, divided and merged naturally, and eventually had a combination that was fairly stable but not completely stable. The small variations could have hit upon a combination that was almost life, and so on until it was life.

          That is just one scenario I have read about. There are others. The would have been thousands of such experiments on every grain of sand all over the planet for millions of years.

        • TCG

          Thanks for that answer

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

          Then there’s panspermia, the idea that if the initial conditions on earth didn’t have something necessary for abiogenesis, that might’ve come by meteorite from another planet. We’ve seen evidence of amino acids and other interesting chemic