The God Debate, 2 of 3 (Fiction)

From Part 1 of this excerpt from my book Cross Examined:

Jim set the cups on their saucers and swirled the tea in the pot. “It was a revelation—all the convoluted and flimsy rationalization that had been necessary before just vanished. My God hypothesis was a poor explanation of reality, and when I no longer insisted that it was correct and simply followed reality where it led me, things made vastly more sense.”

“Moving from love to nothing is a harsh change,” Paul said. “You must at least agree that the atheist position repels many people.”

“Some do feel that way, but that has nothing to do with whether or not God exists. I have no use for the happy explanation but quite a bit for the correct explanation. You can’t be arguing that it’s disagreeable to imagine that there is no God, so therefore he exists—surely we have higher standards of evidence than that.

“Many Christians admit that the problem of evil is the most difficult problem for Christianity—why God lets bad things happen to good people,” Jim said. “The Greek philosopher Epicurus had an excellent way of putting it. He said that if God is willing to prevent evil but not able, then he is not omnipotent. If he is able but not willing, then he is malevolent. If he is both able and willing, then why is there evil? If he is neither able nor willing, then why call him God?”

“Well, difficulties build character,” Paul said. “My own life started out pretty bad, but it made me who I am.”

“That’s just what an atheist would say—we don’t seek out misfortune, but good can come of it. It’s a simple and workable understanding of the world, and it doesn’t need a supernatural element. But the Christian’s challenge is to make sense of evil permitted by a supernatural being who could stop it in an instant if he wanted to—a tall order.”

“Here’s how Reverend Hargrove explained it to me,” Paul said. “Free will is mandatory in a good world. God could have created us like machines without choice so that we would always do the right thing, but then we wouldn’t be human.” He remembered a metaphor from one of Samuel’s sermons. “What’s the point in walking a maze if there’s a sign pointing the correct direction at every junction?”

Jim dropped the Bible onto the carpet and put his bare feet up on the table where it had been. They were practical feet, ugly with calluses, and they looked like they were rarely confined in shoes. His feet made a sharp contrast with his natty gray trousers. “If God cares so much about free will, I wonder why he allows the free will of the victim to be trampled by the thief or murderer,” Jim said. “And tell me this: does free will exist in heaven?”

“I would think that it must.”

“And does it cause the same problems in heaven that it does here on earth?”

Paul swirled the tea in his cup and watched the dark bits of leaves make patterns in the liquid. “I suppose the spirits in heaven are enlightened. They’d have no desire to do bad things. Otherwise, heaven would have the problems we have here.”

“Then God could give us that enlightenment now.”

“God can’t just give us wisdom. Then we’d have no opportunity to learn. My point about the maze was that a lesson learned is more powerful than a lesson given. Wisdom is more valuable if we earn it.”

“Why is that?” Jim asked. “God could enlighten us with the same lessons as profoundly as if we’d learned them through experience, and no trials would be necessary. If free will is mandatory, why was the enlightenment needed to properly use it reserved for the spirits in heaven? Why would God shortchange us like that? It’s like an automobile without an instruction manual. The God hypothesis is unnecessary and it complicates the explanation. And why does God not show himself? Why not make clear his purpose? Why the mystery, why the test, when he knows the outcome already? Why not just tell us?”

“He did tell us. He told us through Jesus’s ministry.”

“That’s a story, not concrete evidence. What we see, including the legend of Jesus and the emphasis on faith instead of reason, is exactly the kind of thing primitive people would give us. The natural explanation is far more plausible than the existence of a divine maze maker.”

Paul leaned back in his chair. The defensiveness of the past was almost gone. Instead of focusing on his own crumbling argument, Paul reflected on the construction of Jim’s. He tried for another analogy. “I think of life as a school. We learn and then we graduate into heaven.”

“But some fail and go to hell. It’s a poor school that fails such a huge fraction of its students. Isn’t God a skilled enough teacher that everyone could pass?”

Paul fingered the seams on the arm of the chair as another avenue came to mind. “I’ve always found comfort in everyday miracles—not parting the Red Sea, but a child rescued from a fire or a miraculous recovery from illness. Don’t events like that make you stop and think?”

“Good news pleases me as well, but let’s be clear about what causes it. I read in the paper a few weeks ago about a woman whose home was destroyed in April’s earthquake. She lost everything, but charities and the government have given her food, clothes, and a temporary place to live. Do you know what her reaction was? She said, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ ”

“And you say that it wasn’t Jesus who helped.”

“Exactly. Give thanks to those who provided the help—the people who have opened their homes to the homeless or fed the hungry. It doesn’t happen often enough, but it happens. People from as far away as Idaho and Washington are still sending bread by train to feed people in San Francisco. The prayer ‘give us this day our daily bread’ is being answered, but by people, not God. We don’t need to invent supernatural beings to explain what we see.”

Paul had seen enough callousness to last a lifetime—and yet, he had seen plenty of generosity, too. “Some would say that Jesus caused those people to do good, that He worked through them.”

“Right, and Santa Claus works through parents. ‘God will provide’ really means that people will provide. It’s amazing how far Christians will go to rationalize a positive role for Jesus. The Creator of the universe apparently stands by to let disaster consume a city, and then his apologists want to credit him with the people cleaning up afterwards. No—I’d rather give people the credit they earned.”

“Many would say that disasters are part of God’s plan—a short-term loss for some greater gain in the future.” Paul surprised himself as he shored up the Samuel side of the argument. He didn’t think it the stronger position, but he wanted to hear Jim’s response.

Jim said, “People don’t say, ‘This disaster must be for the greater good’ and sit back to watch dispassionately. They help where they can. We don’t say, ‘Smallpox is supposed to be deadly and to change that would interfere with God’s plan’—we create vaccines. We don’t say, ‘Injuries are supposed to hurt’ or ‘Bones just break sometimes’—we create laudanum and splints. People talk about how there must be a greater good behind God’s plan so they can salvage the claim that God is good, and yet they don’t hesitate before using modern medicine to help the sick and injured or using charity to help people displaced by a natural disaster. They don’t hesitate a moment before interfering in ‘God’s plan.’ ”

Paul sipped from his cup as he considered Jim’s argument. He was beginning to enjoy this tea—harsh but with a sweet aftertaste. “I heard a story about a woman tending her garden.” Paul wasn’t much for telling jokes, but this one took on a new meaning. “The pastor walks by and says, ‘Isn’t it marvelous what God can do in a garden?’ She wipes the sweat from her forehead and says, ‘You should have seen it when He had it all to Himself.’ ”

Jim stood and let out a whoop. “There’s hope for you yet!” He picked up the tea tray. “Let’s continue in the kitchen.”

Concluded in part 3.

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  • Bob Jase

    “Paul sipped from his cup as he considered Jim’s argument. He was beginning to enjoy this tea—harsh but with a sweet aftertaste.”

    hmmm…someone getting poisoned???

    • I had in mind ginseng oolong tea, which has a sweeet aftertaste.

    • Len

      Realitea.

  • RichardSRussell

    As long as you live, and whatever you experience, the only good things you get out of life will have been given to you by other living creatures (mainly your fellow human beings, but I didn’t want to leave out the dogs and cats).

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    “Right, and Santa Claus works through parents.”

    LOL! That’s my favorite line (and paragraph) of the excerpts.

  • skl

    The argument here seems to be as follows:

    1) Life on earth is not heavenly and perfect, therefore

    2) There can be no god of the bible.

    I’m not sure that’s a sound philosophical or logical argument.

    • Greg G.

      1. Suffering exists.
      2. There can be no being that is both powerful enough to prevent suffering and caring enough to prevent suffering.

      • Chuck Johnson

        God is an explanation which does not explain.

        • Pofarmer

          In having a discussion with a theist on a Christian site, he said “What could possibly be said about a non existant anything?”

          I give you – Theology. A subject without an object.

        • Chuck Johnson

          In having a discussion with a theist on a Christian site, he said “What could possibly be said about a non existent anything?”-Pofarmer

          Not following up on the semantic problems with this statement causes confusion and paradox to result.

          Saying that God does not exist will cause such confusion.

          Instead, we should realize and state that God exists as an idea, a fictional character and a human invention. This takes away the paradox, but many theists will not be happy with such honest, plain speaking.

          No, we can’t say anything about things that have no existence at all, but things that exist only as ideas certainly can be the subject of productive discussions.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s actually pretty much my tack. Point out that you can talk about the Star Wars Universe, for instance, just as much as the Yahweh Universe.

        • nice definition!

        • Pofarmer

          I can’t claim it.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        “But he might have reasons.”

        Of course theists never seem to acknowledge that the “unknown validation” response cuts the legs out of everyone. How do we discern between an apparently harmful action done for unknown kind reasons and an apparently kind action done for unknown harmful reasons?

        Congratulations, you just made god categorically unknowable… which seems to be a common refuge when forced to support their position. All while pretending that doing so leaves other arguments magically intact.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Therefore, there can be no perfect God of the Bible.

      The Bible and Christians want to sell you a perfect God (sometimes) and an imperfect God (other times).
      They switch back and forth to try to make their God look logical and believable, but it just doesn’t work.
      The chicanery becomes obvious.

      • Pofarmer

        And they do the same thing switching back and forth between “natural” and “supernatural” as it suits them. “Well, you can’t use science to see a supernatural effect on the natural!” Then who the fuck cares?

        • epeeist

          And they do the same thing switching back and forth between “natural” and “supernatural” as it suits them

          While at the same time being extra careful to avoid defining what they mean by “supernatural”.

        • Pofarmer

          If you want to see some real bafflegab. Look at the comments here. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2017/11/22/why-prayers-are-blocked-delayed-or-denied/

        • Otto

          I think I am most impressed that the comments are open…

        • Pofarmer

          I’m trying to be good, but, yeah……

        • epeeist

          I had to give up on the comments, I could feel my IQ dropping the more I read.

        • Pofarmer
        • epeeist

          Yeah, I think the only way out of that one is to find two ad hoc rationalisations that contradict each other.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how the “supernatural” isn’t just a currently undiscovered subset of the natural.

        • Chuck Johnson

          That’s a good way to state it.

          But many theists will want you to know that it’s “undiscoverable” instead of “undiscovered”. They have a great reverence for divine mysteries.
          And other shenanigans.

        • Pofarmer

          If it’s undiscoverable, they can’t know shit about it either.

        • Chuck Johnson

          But they like to say, anyway.

        • epeeist

          I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how the “supernatural” isn’t just a currently undiscovered subset of the natural.

          This is of course related to the fact that while many phenomena that formerly had a “supernatural” explanation now have a natural one there are no explanations that have gone the other way.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          No doubt, but if ghosts are demonstrated today, is a supernatural discovery? Or just a heretofore unproven natural one?

          Theists talk as if there is a fundamental distinction between the two (which is what the idea of a naturalistic bias roots itself in), but it only appears to be a linguistic difference to me.

        • epeeist

          No doubt, but if ghosts are demonstrated today, is a supernatural discovery? Or just a heretofore unproven natural one?

          On reflection I think what I am saying is that the supernatural claims were never true in the first place. In keeping with this blog consider diseases being caused by demons, this was never a matter of fact.

          There is a famous (infamous?) case recounted in Paul Boghossian’s Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism where archaeologists’ findings about the origin of Native Americans has been rejected by a number of tribes because it runs counter to their ideas on their (supernatural) origin. A summary can be found in this New York Times article. If you don’t read all of the article make sure you read the last couple of paragraphs.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, I can use science to see a supernatural effect on the natural.
          This happens when you define “the supernatural” as in idea or a human invention.

        • Pofarmer

          But, is there really any definition of the supernatural this doesn’t work with? I mean, if we can’t see the effects of the supernatural, then why do we care? If the supernatural is unknowable, then shut up about it already!

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I mean, if we can’t see the effects of the supernatural, then why do
          we care? If the supernatural is unknowable, then shut up about it already!”

          No, I wasn’t joking or being snarky when I defined the supernatural as “just an idea”.

          What makes you think that ideas are not worth examining ?
          They are very much worth examining.

          Ideas and human inventions are both very important parts of our universe.

        • Pofarmer

          But now you’re not using the same definition of supernatural that the theist is.

        • Chuck Johnson

          And with very good reason.
          The pinheads.

        • Otto

          Exactly, but ho boy do a lot of people know about it.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s very convenient that they have the exact right revelations.

        • Otto

          I just want to know what they use to get this information. I had a conversation with one guy who said that there are other ways to get information about reality other than our 5 senses, I of course disagreed, and when pressed he couldn’t come up with anything and the discussion ended.

    • Michael Neville

      According to the dogma your god is supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent (plus other omnis as extra flavoring). An omnipotent, omniscient and omnipotent god would not allow suffering. There is suffering in the world, so your god lacks one or more of the assigned attributes or, my personal belief, doesn’t exist. I’ve just given you a sound logical argument. If you think it’s unsound then what’s your rebuttal?

      • skl

        “According to the dogma your god is supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent (plus other omnis as extra flavoring).”

        Not my dogma and not my god.
        As to their dogma and god, perhaps they
        1) Have their dogma wrong, or
        2) Have their dogma right, but people misunderstand the meaning of the “omni”s.

        “If you think it’s unsound then what’s your rebuttal?”

        That the god of the bible is obviously an extreme god. This
        god rewards extremely (e.g. heaven) and punishes extremely (e.g. hell).

        • Michael Neville

          Not my dogma and not my god.

          Yeah right. Maybe if you say that enough times you’ll believe it but the rest of us won’t. You argue Christian apologetics too strongly and too consistently not to be a Christian.

          This god rewards extremely (e.g. heaven) and punishes extremely (e.g. hell).

          Then YOUR god isn’t omnibenevolent.

        • eric

          As to their dogma and god, perhaps they
          1) Have their dogma wrong

          Finally, he gets it.

          Yes of course teleological arguments like Bob’s don’t rule out all possible versions of God; only the ones whose claimed traits seem inconsistent with observation and/or their claimed acts. But that category tends to include most CHristian conceptions of God.

          When two-thirds of the US population starts trying to defend the existence of Vishnu or Zeus or a deistic absent watchmaker, we’ll use different arguments to show why their belief is unsound. Until then, standard teleological arguments are a pretty good way of showing how standard Christian beliefs are unsound.

        • skl

          “Finally, he gets it.”

          No, I suppose I don’t.
          Perhaps it would help if you showed where in their official creeds or dogmas that they mention the word “omnibenevolent” and further how they define it so as to exclude the possibility of hell.

        • Otto

          God is Love

        • epeeist

          God is Love

          Yeah, I did this one years ago with someone who constantly posted this as a one liner, my response:

          The OP obviously thinks that “Love” is concrete rather than abstract, but since this may be difficult to grasp then, for illustrative purposes only, let us replace it with something that we can get a handle on. “God is Laphroaig” will probably do. Now it is obvious that since god is Laphroiag then he can’t be Talisker and “God is Johnny Walker” would plainly be ridiculous. The only way that god could be both Laphroaig and Talisker is if he were some kind of composed class of the two, e.g “God is whisky”, or to make it more abstract “God is ardent spirit” (this is of course not the kind of spirit that theists generally seem to think of god as). To do that in the terms that the OP states we would have to rephrase his proposition with something like “God is emotion”.

          Indeed, why should we not take it as such, after all Jesus after all cursed Chorazon and its inhabitants, a reflection of hatred of those who would not follow his teachings. And as I have pointed out in the past god is responsible for the creation of the Loa-Loa worm, what emotion would one assign to someone who could do such a thing? Finally, given that the only signs god seems to provide these days are dubious faces in Marmite jar lids or the temporary cure for a single case of Parkinson’s disease then perhaps indifference or ennui might be the current emotion he is feeling towards his creation.

          If “Love” is concrete then presumably “Hate” and “Ennui” are also concrete? Or is the OP mistaken, is he trying to reify something that is simply an attribute we can only apply to a relationship?

        • Michael Neville

          “God is Laphroaig”

          So God cannot be The Macallan 18 Year Old or Glenfiddich Private Vintage. That certainly narrows down the elusive definition of God.

        • Greg G.

          The Macallan 18 Year Old is omnipotent while Glenfiddich Private Vintage is omnibenevolent, unless I have the attributes reversed.. Only Laphroaig is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

        • Otto

          That makes the liver the devil.

          Seen on a T shirt … ‘The Liver is evil and must be punished’

        • Otto

          I had to look up ‘Laphroaig’…now it all makes sense.

        • epeeist

          Laphroiag was my first love when it came to single malts but I have deserted it for Ardbeg Corryvreckan.

        • Greg G.

          Love is Blind.

        • epeeist

          Love is Blind

          No cat has eight tails; every cat has one more tail than no cat; therefore every cat has nine tails.

          Of course we have to ask whether the copula specifies an identity relation, thus if “God is love” can we say “Love is god”?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Stevie Wonder is God

        • Greg G.

          FINALLY someone completed it!

        • Otto

          Damn…I was trying to think of a proper response. Missed it completely.

          But what about Ray Charles?

        • Greg G.

          That’s who it was when I first heard it but that was a long time ago. Stevie Wonder is dated by now.

        • Susan

          FINALLY someone completed it.

          I just assumed it was taken for granted.

          That Ray Charles is God. `Nuff said.

          HEWB completed it but he got the wrong answer.

          God would never write such a piece of drivel as I Just Called to Say I Love You.

          Even Superstition won`t make up for that.

        • Greg G.

          I would accept “Ray Charles is God,” too.

        • Kodie

          I Was Made to Love Her, Sir Duke, Don’t You Worry ’bout A Thing, Susan.

          I forgive him just like I forgive Heart for These Dreams, Boston for Amanda, and David Bowie for Dancing in the Street (not Mick, that’s just something he would do).

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVcl0Iw3fs8

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G4jnaznUoQ

        • TheNuszAbides

          in Stevie’s case, works of the ’80s don’t count and can be safely ignored.

          (i almost forgot I Was Made to Love Her)

        • Susan

          in Stevie’s case, only the 70’s count

          Ray is eternal.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i certainly can’t shake What’d I Say.

        • Susan

          Why would you want to?

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Susan

          No, I suppose I don’t.

          We know that.

          Perhaps it would help if you showed…

          So many “God”s. All of them seem to be imaginary.

          The deity who is the ground of all being and the deity who is obsessed with what you do with your naughty bits. And all kinds of deities in-between.

          Which is why I don’t bother with the word “God” and instead ask people what they are claiming and how they support it.

          They generally don’t answer. (As you don’t.) When they occasionally do, it’s not very impressive.

        • eric

          Sure, here’s a quote from the first Vatican Council:

          “The Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church believes and acknowledges that there is one true and living God, Creator and Lord of Heaven and earth, almighty, eternal, immeasurable, incomprehensible, infinite in
          will, understanding and every perfection. Since He is one, singular, completely simple and unchangeable spiritual substance, He must be declared to be in reality and in essence, distinct from the world, supremely happy in Himself and from Himself, and inexpressibly loftier than anything besides Himself which either exists or can be imagined.”

          It’s right there in their doctrine. Infinite in every perfection. Inexpressibly loftier than anything that can even be imagined

          Now sure, there are some Christian traditions that reject it. Calvinism springs to mind as the main example. But as I said above, theodicy and teleological arguments aren’t and never claimed to be arguments against every theology. Just a lot of the most commonly held ones.

          As for demonstrating to you that their definition excludes the possibility of hell, that’s not my problem, it’s theirs. If someone offers a definition of God and one arguable consequence of that definition contradicts their other teaching or some other claim, then that’s a problem they must address to me if they want me to think their notion of God is even credible. I don’t have any burden of proof to show that someone else’s apparently inconsistent set of claims is actually consistent unless I can prove otherwise.

          The same allocation of burden holds true of everyone, for everything. If I say “my shirt is only blue. And my shirt is only red,” then if I want to convince you that I said a true thing the burden of proof lies on me to show how those claims are consistent. I can’t sit back and shift the burden of proof to you, demanding that you explore every possible way in which my statement might philosophically hold together and claiming that if you don’t do that work, I win the argument. It doesn’t work that way. If I make seemingly contradictory claims, it’s up to me to defend and justify them. And if the church makes seemingly contradictory claims about God, it’s up to them to defend and justify them. Claims of omnibenevolence and hell are seemingly contradictory. If they want unbelievers to agree that their theology is consistent, the burden of proof is on the Church to reconcile them, it’s not on me to demonstrate beyond doubt that they can’t be reconciled.

        • skl

          “It’s right there in their doctrine. Infinite in every perfection. Inexpressibly loftier than anything that can even be imagined”

          I saw no mention of the word “omnibenevolent” in your Vatican quote. Further, it seems to be in synch with what I said –
          infinite (i.e. extreme) in every perfection (i.e. including of rewards and punishments), far more than humans can imagine.

          “As for demonstrating to you that their definition excludes the possibility of hell, that’s not my problem, it’s theirs.”

          If it’s a problem then they’ve acknowledged and even embraced and preached the problem for the last 2,000 years. In other
          words, I don’t think they think they have a problem.

          “Claims of omnibenevolence and hell are seemingly contradictory… the burden of proof is on the Church to reconcile them…”

          Again, if you could just cite the Church’s official creeds or dogmas that use that word “omnibenevolence”, and further,
          how they define it so as to exclude the possibility of hell.

        • eric

          I saw no mention of the word “omnibenevolent” in your Vatican quote

          Sigh. The term ‘omnibenevolent’ etymologically arose in the 1600s. So if you’re demanding we show that word show up in early church texts, you’re asking for the impossible. But if you’re asking for references to doctrine that show the concept of God being maximally good is one the church espouses, there are probably many. Anselm’s ontological argument from the 11th century may be an early description. Aquinas and his philosohpical legacy, Thomism, also IIRC claims God is maximally good. In the modern era, Plantinga espouses the notion that God is necessarily good.

          If it’s a problem then they’ve acknowledged and even embraced and preached the problem for the last 2,000 years. In other words, I don’t think they think they have a problem.

          This is a nonsense argument: an organization asserting contradictory claims for 2,000 years doesn’t somehow make them non-contradictory. When judging whether the theological claim “God is maximally good” conflicts with the theological claim “God accepts nonbelievers being tortured in hell eternally”, philosophers don’t (or shouldn’t) start their analysis with “well, how long have they said it?” ‘How long’ is not a criteria for judging the consistency of those claims. Just think about how ridiculous your defense is. So if I assert “my shirt is only blue. And my shirt is only red” over an over again, you’re saying my claim gets less contradictory every year I say it?

        • skl

          “But if you’re asking for references to doctrine that show the concept of God being maximally good is one the church espouses, there are probably many. Anselm’s ontological argument … Aquinas … IIRC claims God is maximally good.”

          Aquinas apparently also believed in hell – http://www.newadvent.org/summa/5097.htm

          Anselm believed in hell, to put it mildly:
          The Beauty of Hell: Anselm on God’s Eternal Design

          https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/489186?journalCode=jr

          “This is a nonsense argument: an organization asserting contradictory claims for 2,000 years doesn’t somehow make them non-contradictory.”

          I doubt they see it as contradictory. Mysterious, perhaps. But not contradictory.

        • eric

          I doubt they see it as contradictory. Mysterious, perhaps. But not contradictory.

          That sentence captures two terrible arguments. First: “I see ‘x and not x’ as mysterious, not contradictory.” Second, “it’s a mystery as to how it’s not contradictory, but I believe there must be a way.”

          In fact they’re both so unconvincing that, to me, they sound more like emotional crutches for the believer than they do arguments intended for nonbelievers.

        • skl

          Your arguments are unconvincing to me. I can only imagine how unconvincing they are to a Christian.

        • Kodie

          How does it make sense to you ‘x and not x’ is mysterious, not contradictory, UNLESS YOU”RE A CHRISTIAN.

        • But you are a Christian, remember? You only play an atheist to show how skeptical you are.

        • Otto

          They would only be unconvincing to a Christian because the Christian assumes the conclusion. That is why Mystery has to be invoked, there has to be an answer for the assumed conclusion, it does not matter whether it makes any sense.

        • skl

          “… Mystery has to be invoked, there has to be an answer for
          the assumed conclusion, it does not matter whether it makes any sense.”

          I agree that Christians assume many conclusions that don’t
          make sense to the natural world. I’m just saying that the god the bible describes is obviously an extreme god – extreme in rewards and extreme in punishments. I use one word – “extreme”. The Vatican I quote from @eric above is wordier:
          “almighty, eternal, immeasurable, incomprehensible,
          infinite in will, understanding and every perfection… distinct from the world… inexpressibly loftier than anything besides Himself which either exists or can be imagined.”

        • Bob Jase

          biblegod can’t find Adam & Eve in a walled garden, can’t stand up to iron chariots, is whupped by Chemosh, has a gambling addiction and finds incestuous drunk old men to be virtuous. Now that’s extreme.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A shoulda read down the thread, shouldn’t a?

        • eric

          Skl:

          I’m just saying that the god the bible describes is obviously an extreme god

          Actual bible:

          the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance…

          Temperance. So according to skl, when the spirit of God comes upon you, it gives you traits opposite those of God. LOL.

          Now of course there are also verses that say contradictory things. To a rational person, this shows that the claims of the bible can’t be trusted. That there is no ‘God the bible describes’ in any sensible definition, because the descriptions are contradictory. Skl, who claims to be a non-christian, does some classic christian cherry-picking however by deciding to believe those verses that support his ‘god is extreme’ thesis and ignoring the ones that don’t.

        • skl

          “Actual bible:
          the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance…”

          You seem to think that someone having such “nice” traits, even to the extreme, cannot also have “not nice” traits.

          You seem to be saying such a someone could not exist, because “contradiction.”

          I am skeptical of such a view. I see such people all the time.

          Last night I watched the movie “We Were Soldiers.”
          The lead real life character, Lt. Col. Moore, seemed to be a loving and tender husband and father, but also a literal hell-raiser on the battlefield.

        • Greg G.

          You seem to think that someone having such “nice” traits, even to the extreme, cannot also have “not nice” traits.

          That’s why there are so few hard atheists who argue that no god thingy exists. But there are few theists who believe in that kind of a god thingy. The one most theists claim is omnibenevolent and omnipotent, which is disproved by the existence of suffering. The existence of suffering is compatible with a god thingy that is anything from sometimes naughty to sadistic.

          But there is still no reason to believe in the bad boy god thingy because there is no evidence that any such thing exists.

        • Kodie

          Is god supposed to have the quality of being able to know the future? I have questions about a lot of things.

        • Greg G.

          Theists like to claim omniscience as an attribute for God, but I think that follows from omnipotence.

        • Kodie

          If god can see the future, does he will to change it, or leave it to its disasters? I mean, I was thinking about that shit about free will and if god knows how it will turn out, that people do not have free will at all and will always follow the script. People don’t willfully born themselves. I don’t know how to write that sentence, but, assuming god loves free will, he could also prevent people from being born who will be dangerous and disastrous. He could prevent people from being born who will only live miserable lives of pain and suffering. I am not trying to imply anything about genocide or getting rid of people who already exist in this world, but questioning what purpose those people have. The old juvenile cry “I didn’t ask to be born” applies. Life is pain. Without having lived, a person would not know they don’t exist, and with life, they can live a life either they or other people regret. I’m also saying because execution is a thing – once someone has crossed the line, society likes exacting vengeance. I think there is a movie about preventing crime by arresting people before they commit their crimes, but yeah, god can see the future, and only likes to complain what a terrible filthy species he created and how unworthy we all are. A murderer can ask forgiveness. Victims get cheated out of their free will. I was thinking in a perspective where life was the afterlife and pre-born was life, so god knows the end of the story and people only get born if they are worthy, whatever that means.

          In the real world, none of this, of course, applies. People are random and feature a wide range of behaviors. We don’t know the future. We can’t prevent bad things from happening to good people.

        • Kodie

          Probably? All those kind of movies are about the same thing to me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          For an entity that was supposed to know everything, it knew next to fuck all.

          It didn’t even know where the evil twosome were hiding in the Garden ffs.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew and Luke tells us every hair is numbered when God couldn’t keep track of two people in Genesis.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What a nightmare to keep track with the older folk…that number ever changing as it must. But then again, a piece of piss to a multi-Omni being. Except it isn’t.

          The bet with Satan in the Book of Job wasn’t much of a sweat either.

          Pure nonsense the whole lot of it.

        • skl

          “That’s why there are so few hard atheists who argue that no god thingy exists.”

          So you’re saying that most “hard atheists” argue a god thingy does exist. That makes no sense to me.

          “The existence of suffering is compatible with a god thingy that is anything from sometimes naughty to sadistic.”

          Yes, except I try to stay away from subjective terms such as “naughty” and “sadistic.” I’ll stick with the more objective “extreme.”

        • Susan

          So you’re saying that most “hard atheists” argue a god thingy does exist.

          No. He is not.

          That makes no sense to me.

          It makes no sense to anyone. You just made it up rather than address Greg G.’s points.

          But we’ve come to except nothing else from you.

        • Greg G.

          Hard atheists say there is no god nor gods. Atheists don’t believe that a god or gods because there is insufficient evidence. The definition of gods change with the believer so you have to prove everybody wrong if you accept the burden of proof.

          How is a relative term like “extreme” objective and “sadistic” isn’t? Sadism is causing unnecessary suffering to others for one’s own pleasure. Extremes can be good or bad.

          I think it could be said that a person is extremely moderate as well.

        • skl

          “That’s why there are so few hard atheists who argue that no
          god thingy exists…
          Hard atheists say there is no god nor gods.”

          Whatever.

          “How is a relative term like “extreme” objective and “sadistic” isn’t?
          …Extremes can be good or bad.”

          “Good” or “bad” are subjective, whereas “more” or “less” are
          objective. E.g. Four is objectively more than three.
          “Extreme” is similar to “more” and “less”.

        • Greg G.

          Nope. A Prohibitionist-type tee-totaler might well consider the once-a-month binge drinker and the hard-core drunk both to be extreme while the hard-core drunk would consider the occasional binge drinker a lightweight.

          “More” and “less” work great with objective values. Is Nestle chocolate more tasty or less tasty than Hershey chocolate? Is Ghirardelli extremely tasty chocolate?

        • skl

          We’ll have to agree to disagree.

          Good night.

        • Susan

          We’ll have to agree to disagree.

          This is why I’ve never regretted calling you a disingenuous weasel. After dozens of comments in which I tried to have an honest discussion with you, you made it very clear that that is the last thing you ever want to do.

          And months later, you haven’t done a thing to show that that assessment was wrong.

          Good night.

          How do you sleep at night?

          What are you doing here?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You sound like the wingnuts who bleat that ‘separation of church and state’ is not, verbatim, in the US Constitution.

          And idea can be inferred from the text.

        • It’s worse when those wingnuts believe in the Trinity, a term that is not found in the Bible. (Indeed, even the concept is pretty much nonexistent there.)

        • Otto

          There are quite a few that were added in to support the concept.

    • You’re an atheist (or at least you play one when you’re here). Show us how to make a proper argument then.

    • The argument seems to be that God is improbable, not logically impossible, a weaker claim.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      By the ‘bibles’ own statements, combined with logic, the position is not just supportable, it’s inevitable.

      So if the logic’s good, then there’s something wrong with at least one of the antecedents.

  • epeeist

    The Demise of this blog (and other blogs on Christianity)?

    At least in Europe, it turns out that non-religion is the default with Christianity becoming increasingly marginalised.