God as Donald Trump: Trying to Make Sense of Praise and Worship

God as Donald Trump: Trying to Make Sense of Praise and Worship August 21, 2018

President Trump wants a military parade—a big one with tanks and a fighter jet flyover. Y’know, like those for dictators in the Soviet Union or North Korea.

President Trump likes cabinet meetings with public adulation, praise, and flattery.

President Trump and his sensitive ego have turned the dial up to 11: “In the past 18 months, what was once nuanced praise has metastasized into obsequious fawning. Too much is never enough. Superlatives are tossed out like Mardi Gras beads on Fat Tuesday” (Washington Post).

Here’s a prayer that might satisfy America’s Dear Leader:

Oh President Trump: Ooh, you are so big, so absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed around here, I can tell you. Forgive us O Great Trump for this, our dreadful toadying and barefaced flattery, but you’re so strong and, well, just so super. Amen.

(That was a prayer in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, updated to switch the name of our celestial lord to our terrestrial lord.)

Is Trump’s thin-skinned demand for praise obnoxious? Offensive? Unbefitting a powerful leader? Why then does it make any more sense for the Christian god?

From Trump worship to God worship

I remember a church with a sign that said, “Come and praise God with us.” It got me thinking—why is it important to praise God? Surely God doesn’t care. Isn’t this like ants telling us how fantastic we are?

Obviously, God already understands his position relative to us. We’re telling him nothing he doesn’t already know when we say, “You’re so fantastic!” It sounds like sycophantic praise to an egocentric and insecure king. God is portrayed as having the ego needs of a spoiled child. Or Donald Trump. Does God really need to hear “Oh, what a good boy you’ve been!”? Wouldn’t he be above all that? Is this the personality of a perfect being? Even if the benefit is for us, wouldn’t worship be offensive to God?

I’ve searched Christian apologetics sites for their justification for worship and praise of God. Here are the arguments I’ve found.

1. Worship God because he deserves it

Why should we worship God?

We worship God first and foremost because He is the Creator of the Universe. . . . Respect, leading up to worship and praise, is all that much more to be expected, and the natural state of things. (Source)

You’re not explaining why. This is “You should worship God, just cuz.”

[Praise makes us] mindful of how much we owe to Him. (Source)

Praise is the joyful recounting of all God has done for us. . . . It is merely the truthful acknowledgment of the righteous acts of another. (Source)

You think God created you? Okay, be appreciative. Be thankful. But where does the worship come in? You can love and be thankful to your parents for bringing you into the world and expending much effort to raise you, but that’s not worship.

We are grateful to Him for dying for us on the cross, in order to make it possible that we can spend heaven in eternal bliss, with God. Just as we normally respect and admire and revere other human beings who do sacrificial and/or loving acts towards us, so we do the same with God, all the more so. (Source)

“All the more so”? Nope—with Jesus, it’s all the less so. Jesus can’t sacrifice because he’s immortal.

You allude to ordinary, fallible humans who sacrificed for other people, and I agree—their sacrifice can be remarkable and praiseworthy. But when they sacrificed their lives, they stayed dead. Jesus didn’t die; he was out of action for just a day and a half. (More on the illogic of the resurrection story here.)

And why praise God for his goodness when, as a perfectly good being, he could do nothing less? We don’t praise water for flowing downhill—that’s just what water does. We don’t praise planets or rocks for doing what gravity makes them do. We praise people for doing something good because they might not have done it.

Curiously, Christian apologist William Lane Craig agrees:

Since God does not, presumably, issue commands to Himself, it follows that God has no moral duties to fulfill. While human beings may be praised for doing their moral duty, God therefore cannot be praised for doing His moral duty.

But WLC still advocates worship in the form of adoration and awe.

The biggest obstacle I have is that God isn’t worthy of praise or worship, adoration or awe. You only need to read the Bible to see that he’s a Bronze Age bully. There’s no need to go into this for regular readers, but for anyone else, here are posts on God’s genocide, human sacrifice, lying, and support of slavery to get you going.

Continued in part 2.

When I heard preachers making false statements about evolution,
I could no longer trust what they said about religion.
If they didn’t know what they were talking about
regarding things they could look up,
why think they know about things
they couldn’t possibly know?
— commenter Greg G.

.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kevin K

    I agree with Hitchens on this one…dying on the cross is an immoral act, and I want no part of it.

  • Ctharrot

    And this is why my deity of choice is Cthena, the tentacle-faced goddess of logic and and Norman Lear comedies. Cthena neither craves nor hears our prayers. Cool and aloof and funky beyond sanity’s ken, she wanders the crepuscular courtyards and galleries of the corroded, dread City of Carcosa (a real fixer-upper), working out the final notes of an eldritch slap bass solo to accompany the End Credits.

    Cthena cares not for our worship. “Just don’t be horrid to each other,” she commands. “Oh, and try the stuffed crust. Or don’t. Whatever.”

  • Not to usurp the thread, but I’ve been having an interesting discussion with Richard Beck over at Experimental Theology.

    http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2018/08/progressives-on-judgment-and-hell-part_20.html

    Beck seems to think that “Everyone, even atheists, engage in moral hallowing … Everyone cares about God’s judgment … Everyone believes in judgment, damnation, and hell.” His argument is that even atheists, when they name evil, grant it a metaphysical reality. After numerous comment exchanges, I finally realized that it’s just another version of the “objective moral truth” argument. He doesn’t seem to get that atheists are perfectly content with a subjective moral truth based on our subjective preference for human well-being. Once that is established, an objective (i.e. non arbitrary) set of moral principles can be based on human well-being.

    Feel free to chime in, but be polite if you do.

    • Ficino

      Don’t classical theists deny that evil has metaphysical reality?

      • I’ve never heard that they deny it.

        • Ficino

          Neo-Platonist Plotinus maintained that evil is not a substance, only a privation. Augustine picked this up because he was looking for a handle to get out of Manichaeism, which held that there is a good principle and an evil principle. Augustine wanted a loving all powerful God in a universe where there’s evil, so he got God off the hook by repeating the claim that evil has no substantial existence.

          Aquinas and other scholastics refined this at length. Evils have only accidental causes, are not caused per se. Evil as such has no substantial existence, although substances can do evil things or cause harms. The evil that we predicate of something has metaphysical reality only insofar as it’s a privation of the good that the thing should have according to its nature. The thing is what is metaphysically real.

          Go over to some classical theism boards and you will encounter this reasoning constantly.

          I remember sitting in on a class taught by crusty old Calvinist apologist Cornelius van Til. Van Til was lambasting Aquinas for teaching that evil has no substantial existence. Van Til drew a diagram on the chalkboard to show how the saint had erred. I was taught by other Calvinists that God creates evil but God is not evil, just as God creates matter but God is not material. I don’t know whether van Til held that God creates evil, but I should think he did.

          Too bad Calvinists just fail to understand Aquinas. Neither evil nor matter is a substance. Dumber than bricks.

        • The privation view just makes no sense. Now they don’t think matter has substance either? That’s even weirder to me.

        • Kevin K

          Seems to me that this is how you get “transubstantiation”. The “accident” is the wafer, and the “substance” is Jesus, which is invisible and undetectable in the “accident” of the wafer.

          At least, that’s my interpretation of it.

        • I guess that’s something like how they see it. Ficino can explain I’m sure. The problem is they use all these terms in such different ways it’s very confusing to me. How can they tell a wafer is transubstaniated anyway? Suppose that you switch out the blessed one with an unblessed one? No way to tell the difference.

        • Kevin K

          It’s the priestly hand-waving that transubstantiates the cracker into Jesus. And that’s why you have to eat the cracker right away, and that no crackers can be left uneaten — so that Jesus isn’t lying around in a closet somewhere.

          Of course, it’s also why certain people went absolutely batshit insane when PZ Myers “desecrated” Cracker Jesus some time back.

        • Yep. In the past, “host desecration” could lead to you being killed.

        • Kevin K

          And yet, it’s a cracker. People and their talismen…cray cray.

        • A miracle, apparently. One no one but them can see.

        • Kevin K

          Look up the Miracle of San Lanciano if you want to go down that particular rabbit hole.

        • There are such claimed miracles of course. I think it would be more impressive for that to happen every time.

        • Kevin K

          Ew. Can you imagine? All those little pieces of Jesus heart?

        • Yeah, but at least it would be convincing. Even now that’s cannibalism according to the doctrine. Yes, ew indeed.

        • Bob Jase

          “How can they tell a wafer is transubstaniated anyway?”

          Hold it up to a vampire – if its trans the vampire will back off, if not the vampire will bite you. Its’ basic theological science.

        • Lols.

        • I was perplexed, but yeah, when you explain it like that, it is rather obvious, isn’t it?

          My bad for being skeptical.

        • Greg G.
        • Ficino

          No, matter is not a substance in Thomism. Matter is not “stuff.” It is potentiality in their system. Things in our world are composites of matter – potentiality – configured by form.

        • How very odd. So what is stuff? Only compounds of both? I suppose if we’re generous this is a bit like matter/energy.

        • Machintelligence

          Particles are merely a convenient way of looking at the universe. In reality it is fields, all the way down.

        • I have read that it’s all energy (presumably these fields are that?) and matter is just one form this takes.

        • Interesting!

    • it can be maddening to spend many comments only to realize that it would all have been much clearer in the beginning with a few word changes or shared definitions.

      • Especially since most apologetics ends up being just another fill-in-the-blank.

    • Scooter

      You may be interested to hear what apologist Ravi Zacharias has to say about subjective morality https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0218GkAGbnU

    • Some do. Other atheists believe in objective morality. It doesn’t make them theists.

      • Right! The words “objective” and “subjective” get a little sketchy in conversations between secularists and apologists. They may both believe in “objective morality”, but what they mean by “objective” is completely different. For Christian apologists objective morality has come to mean, like subatomic particles, some cosmic morality that has existed since the Big Bang. Fort the atheist objective morality has more local objectivity. Like baseball. Baseball is a thing that objectively exists, but only has relevance to humans during a finite time period on the finite space of Earth.

        • That’s frequently the case yes, thus it’s very important to pin down exactly what people mean by these terms. As you say, things don’t need to have existed forever. It can be enough for them not to be solely inventions. Baseball isn’t a good example I’d say since we did invent it. The game only exists by our convention.

        • Systems of morality are not conventions?

        • Not if they’re objective.

        • Conventions can’t be objective? We give objective tests in the classroom. Scientists use objective standards for experiments. Test taking and scientific experiments are conventions.

        • Well they refer to objective truths in those cases. If it’s all purely a matter of convention though like with baseball it’s different.

        • It is objectively true that baseball players and umpires conduct the game according to an agreed-upon set of rules. It can be objectively true that a baseball player might break a rule and be given a penalty.

          I could give students an objective test over the rules of baseball. Do you know what an objective test is? It is a test that does not need to be graded subjectively, because each answer is either right or wrong based upon a predetermined set of answers.

        • In that sense yes. The issue is there are many definitions to “objective”, and that wasn’t what I’m thinking of. I should have made it more clear though. The sense that I mean is a fact, independent of the mind. Analogous to science in that we discover rather than invent this.

        • There would be morality, if there weren’t minds? How is morality independent of mind?

          Morality refers to human behaviors. You don’t have human behaviors without minds.

        • Not precisely. Morality’s sources though are mind-independent according to some.

          This seems to exclude other beings having morality, assuming they exist.

        • You’ll have to do better than that. “According to some … ” is not a convincing argument for a silly notion like a morality that is “mind-independent”.

        • I’m not making an argument, but trying to explain the view. Calling it silly is not an argument either of course.

        • What was your explanation of the view of a mind-independent morality?

        • It’s not mine, but I haven’t gotten there yet. Basically its two varieties. In one its like Platonic forms or something similar. The other is things like wellbeing or pleasure as mind-independent goods.

        • Susan

          wellbeing or pleasure as mind-independent goods.

          What are either of those without minds?

          I know you’re just reporting Michael. What some people claim. You are not necessarily advocating for it.

          But you must be able to see why Beau calls it silly.

        • I think what’s meant is they aren’t created by our minds solely, as with the baseball rules example. While yes I’m just reporting here, I am interested and have tried to learn more about this. So far though it’s been difficult to understand for me. Apparently for others too.

        • Susan

          I think what’s meant is they aren’t created by our minds solely, as with the baseball rules example

          Respectfully, I don’t think “mind independent” implies “not being solely created by our minds”. It implies being completely “independent of minds”.

          yes I’m just reporting here.

          I know. Beau seems to be reacting to what you’re reporting.

          It’s been difficult to understand for me.

          Because when they say “mind independent”, they talk about “genocide”, “murder”, “torturing babies for fun”.

          None of which give them anything that’s mind independent.

          We can make rules about morality and measure our behaviour against those rules.

          But those rules tend to be about the effect our behaviour has on other minds and those rules are made by minds.

        • I don’t know precisely, but none seems to think our minds are completely uninvolved, just not the creators.

          I said that because it didn’t seem clear earlier.

          No particular moral rule tells you if it’s objective by itself, true.

        • Are you getting to the part where you explain how these “varieties” are mind-independent?

        • I’m bad at explaining obviously. From what I understand, it’s because they aren’t created by our minds. We simply interact with them. I guess this is analogous to how the properties of the universe aren’t created by us, only the terms we use for them.

        • The properties of the universe existed long before humans existed. There is no indication that human morality existed before human minds. What would morality even mean without minds?

        • Greg G.

          Chimpanzees demonstrate something like human morality. Scientists put chimpanzees in cages where one would receive an electric shock if the chimp in the other cage took the food. The chimps were reluctant to take the food, even if the other chimp was a stranger. One chimp went days without eating. That chimp appears to have been more moral than the humans who designed the experiment.

          Capuchin monkeys were taught to retrieve a rock and they would get a piece of cucumber. When they saw another monkey getting a grape for doing the same thing, a piece of cucumber wasn’t good enough and the monkey would throw a fit (and the cucumber at the experimenter). They discovered that the monkeys ranked the rewards almost exactly with the price of the fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, showing their tastes aligned with humans. It show that they have a sense of fairness.

          A similar experiment was done on dogs where a dog would do a trick without getting a reward. But if the dog saw another dog getting a treat, the first dog would want a treat, too. But the quality of the treat didn’t matter to the dog. They had a sense of fairness, too, but it wasn’t as well-developed as primates.

        • Greg G.

          A universe without some type of sentient beings does not have pleasure. It is just what endorphins do in brain chemistry. A brain (or something analogous) with no endorphins (or something analogous) or endorphins (or something analogous) with no brain (or something analogous) would not produce the pleasure sensation.

        • Susan

          It is just what endorphins do in brain chemistry.

          That looks better.

        • Greg G.

          I have away with words, that is, I get carried away.

        • Yes, of course. The question however is whether it’s just an opinion or a fact that pleasure is good. Or anything else.

        • Otto

          I would agree that the basic rules of our existence are mind independent, and those rules inform morality, but I don’t see how morality itself could be mind independent.

        • Greg G.

          Exactly! We are descended from monkeys that thrive in large groups so the rules of existence are different than they would be if the most intelligent, advanced species was descended from bears that thrive by marking off and defending a territory but merely tolerate one another during salmon season.

        • In the sense that, like such rules, we might discover rather than simply create it.

        • Otto

          I suppose we might discover…but the term discover implies morality is something to be found like a buried treasure, whereas what we seem to discover is just a better way to interact and not some ideal. I would equate it to building a house, we constantly improve through trial and error but that does not mean there has to be only one Ultimate best way to build a house that just is waiting to be discovered.

        • That may not be the best word. I was trying to contrast it with “invent”. The analogy is sometimes used with science, in finding out new aspects of nature. Of course that may not be adequate either.

        • Yeah, that’s a huge “according to some”. Morality’s sources are not mind-independent according to others. Given that morality is all about intent, which requires minds, I tend to agree with the others.

        • Yes, of course. What they mean I think is that it doesn’t solely come from the mind. Not that mind isn’t involved with acting on morality.

        • Yes, they usually mean it comes from God. Most metaphysical philosophy originates in historical eras in which Christianity was a given.

          I have yet to see a good argument for why morality requires a “source” outside of the mind.

        • Well theists do. There are also secular theories however.

        • Secular theories use a different definition of “objective” than theists, basically the same one you can use for baseball.

        • Not all of them.

        • Got any examples?

        • Sure. All of those I’ve read so far don’t fit with the baseball analogy. I haven’t consulted the entire literature, doubtless. However, that analogy seems to be what they’d call “constructive”. It’s very different from moral objectivism. Anyway, if you want names, I’ve read a bit of Erik J. Wielenberg, Russ Shafer-Landau and David Enoch. The view they defend is certainly not like baseball rules.

        • Susan

          Well theists do.

          Yes.

          There are also secular theories however.

          Yes. I’m not sure those theories are purely “mind-independent”. (Neither is any theist theory, for that matter. They are stuck with the mind of whatever deity they claim it is based on.)

          Lots of us are aware of those facts so we don’t need you to report them.

          But I respect that and am glad that you’re looking into them.

          What do you think so far?

        • From what I’ve seen, some are.

          This was responding to Beau. Any who does know already is free to disregard this.

          I don’t understand enough thus far to say for sure.

        • Liz

          Christians really love to have their own secret definitions of words.

        • My favorite is “faith,” where they change the role of evidence depending on who’s listening.

        • Liz

          I like “hope” as well. I was told that I should keep hoping and not give up hope and that Jesus has hope for me. But what they meant was “keep on wishing that God will eventually one day stop your husband from abusing you and don’t you dare leave him in the mean time. Even if it takes 40 years.”

        • Susan

          Even if it takes 40 years.

          And in many cases, even if it costs you your life.

        • Liz

          Right, because you’ll be with Jesus that way, so what are you whinging about????

        • Nice distinction.

    • Doubting Thomas

      I find it wise not to argue with people who use terms like “metaphysical reality.”

      • Doubting Thomas

        I find it especially wise not to argue with people who tell me, wrongly, what I think.

        • It’s that part of the equation that particularly irks me. I probably have an unhealthy urge to argue with people who tell me what I think.

        • Otto

          He is just creating his own reality and the rest of us are irrelevant in that equation.

    • Otto

      >>>”Everyone, even atheists, engage in moral hallowing … Everyone cares about God’s judgment … Everyone believes in judgment, damnation, and hell.”

      And what is his basis for this belief? If 1000 atheists tell him that isn’t true it does not seem like it would matter because he has already made up his mind on it…so my question to him would be what evidence could anyone give to show that his belief about what atheists think is wrong? It seems to me once someone has come to a conclusion like this there isn’t much else to talk about. It is horribly dishonest on his part but nothing is apparently going to change his mind because nothing could change it.

    • Wile F. Coyote

      “Evil” is one of many words laden with baggage. Many Christians, as well as members of other religious cults, upon hearing it will always initially default to its usage in a supernatural default context, where it exists solely as a negative condition selected to deliberately oppose the express will of supposed divine entity(ies, in the case of the Christian triune thingy).

      It is possible to discuss malefactors, judgement of their acts, and appropriate reaction to those acts — including punishement for them — and also avoid landing at least ankle deep in the murky, slimy, sucking pit of “sin” debate, with the very first step one takes.

      Thesaurus dot com lists 49 synonyms for the word evil which do not instantly mnemonically link to religious scriptural concepts written when socialization/behavior processes were seldom recognized, let alone comprehended. They keep me out of the mire of such debates, and are useful in attempts to steer ideologues around/away from it.

      Sometimes. Many in that lot have minds so rigidly formatted in ideological language that if it is possible to nudge them outside their strict programming, the time investment necessary to do so makes the effort a typically very costly investment in effort/time terms, and seldom worth any potential return.

    • David Keneally

      I’ll try to be polite, but I notice that Richard Beck is making a lot of jerk moves in his comments to you. He’s making strawmen out of caricatures and sneering at you for his own arguments you don’t make.

      • I’m very comfortable letting this thread stand for readers to determine who has been a jerk to whom in this exchange.

        • David Keneally

          Excellent. Everyone will see how you misrepresent him and call it “laughable”.

    • Susan

      Feel free to chime in, but be polite if you do.

      I tried.

      I don’t think it went very well.

      • Thanks for trying. I thought you did well. For all his expressed frustration, Richard Beck makes no convincing argument for metaphysical necessity.

        • Susan

          For all his expressed frustration, Richard Beck makes no convincing argument for metaphysical necessity.

          No. I agree. I don’t think he is used to having to do so.

          Often, atheists only show up when they start telling atheists what they think.

          That is where I draw the line.

  • eric

    The focus on worship makes it so obvious that the deity is an analog to a stone/bronze-age emperor or king, since that’s exactly how many of them demanded their followers act. Well…obvious if you aren’t already invested in the belief…

    • Ctharrot

      Perhaps it goes without saying, but the biblical rhetoric of the human-divine relationship explicitly reflects its derivation from the patriarchal, autocratic power structures typical of antiquity. God is King and Lord, we puny mortals are servants who literally bow our heads and bend the knee, etc.

      • Liz

        Good point. One of my first thoughts was comparing worship to the parades and exaltations we give our Queen, and thinking that is all right and proper. She is the queen, after all. But then I realised, *why* is it right? Our current Queen happens to be a good person who always seems a bit embarrassed by all the pomp and circumstance. Plus she doesn’t have that much power in practical terms. But if she was a tyrant who demanded we bring sheep to Buckingham Palace to be slaughtered, and sent a huge army across to kill all the people in Brittany, or demanded that all the men should nip over to Norway and slaughter everyone except the virgins, who could be brought back to live as sex slaves here, it would be a different story. The parades would have a very different atmosphere, and we would be reliving our history of peasant uprisings.

  • Zeta

    We are grateful to Him for dying for us on the cross, in order to make it possible that we can spend heaven in eternal bliss, with God.

    This hypocrisy is intolerable. Yahweh tells us in 1 Peter 1:20 that
    He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

    This means that even before the universe was created, the Christian god had already decided to “sacrifice” himself as his own son to save humans (yet to be created billions of years in the future) from he himself. How ludicrous! So pretending to have Jesus (i.e. he himself) “killed” for a few days was already on the grand agenda of this god. It looks like Jesus did not choose to sacrifice himself to redeem people of their sins. It is all a pre-planned show on a grand scale demonstrating that this god is the biggest and the original hypocrite. The idiotic concept of “sin” was fabricated as part of the plan.

    Grateful to him for all the pretending? For creating a show in which he was the scriptwriter, the director, editor, and audience all rolled into one? How can any right-thinking adult believe in such nonsense?

    • Michael Neville

      Besides, Jesus didn’t actually die. It’s part of the boiler-plate god contract, no permanent dying. Jesus spent a lousy afternoon hanging around the cross and then, day and a half later, he’s good to go again. So what’s the sacrifice?

      • Ficino

        Well, a day and a half of torture is a long time. I mean, I can’t stand listening to even five minutes of “Pass It On.”

        • Zeta

          Don’t forget that he could raise the dead, cure the blind, walk on water, calm a storm and perform other miracles, so pain control should be a piece of cake.

        • Don Camp

          Pain control is not necessarily a good thing. Without pain, we would be injuring ourselves seriously all the time.

        • MadScientist1023

          Zeta means that with all Jesus’s supposed miraculous abilities, dealing with the pain of torture would be expected, even trivial for him.

        • Don Camp

          It didn’t seem to be.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus would have been the greatest actor ever.

        • Otto

          It is a question Christians fought about early…that is why in the Apostles Creed it has to specifically say Jesus ‘suffered’…that wasn’t a given, it had to be canonized.

        • Bob Jase

          Jesus is Bruce Campbell?

        • Wile F. Coyote

          Don Camp watched The Passion of the Christ, believed it was a documentary, and has experienced nightmares ever since.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          based on what exactly?

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          That or he was in to pain.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          So it would be foolish to turn pain off completely all the time. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make sense to turn pain off when you’re having yourself tortured.

        • Jim Jones

          And point it out to the torturers. It really is a more lunatic story than even Joseph Smith’s demented lies.

        • Zeta

          Irrelevant comment. What has it got to do with my comment above?

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          standard apologist attempt to misdirect away from answering a question that undermines their theology

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          your magic physical manifestation of an omnipotent being would be able to turn on and off as required

        • Liz

          On the other hand, chronic arthritis is a bitch, and pain control allows me to walk without crying and play with my kids.

        • Bob Jase

          Yeah, if god didn’t feel pain he’d be constantly stubbing his toes of stars and not noticing the burns.

        • What’s the value in pain from cancer? Evolution explains this nicely, but an all-good god appears absent.

        • Susan

          Without pain, we would be injuring ourselves seriously all the time.

          You mean carelessly getting crucified by the Romans?

      • Questioning54

        Crucifixion was common at the time. Lots of people were crucified and I bet some if them were innocent of the crimes of which they were accused. Jesus suffering was not unique.
        A toddler a while ago was tortured over time by a carer and took a week to die of a ruptured bowel without any medical attention to treat him or relieve the pain. Now that is a case of an innocent suffering excruciating pain.

        • Kevin K

          It’s guaranteed that many, if not most people who died on the cross were innocent of crimes. One of the main uses of crucifixion in the Roman world was as punishment for a slave who killed his/her master. But the thing is, not just that slave was crucified, but the entire household’s slaves. Field hands, household staff, the entire lot. Instant, immediate, and not subject to bargaining or mercy.

          The Romans did not dick around.

    • Don Camp

      This means that even before the universe was created, the Christian god had already decided to “sacrifice” himself as his own son to save humans (yet to be created billions of years in the future) from he himself.

      Correction: To save humans from themselves. They are the ones who sinned and chose to remove themselves from fellowship with God.

      You are thinking in linear time. Time for God is eternal. That means his decision to sacrifice Himself/ the Son was prior to our present or our past but is present to God. Remember, there is no before or after with God. There is simply the present.

      So pretending to have Jesus (i.e. he himself) “killed” for a few days was already on the grand agenda of this god.

      That decision (called a decree in theology) was a logically foundational decision that is eternal. In time, Jesus the man, chose to surrender himself to the purpose of God for him. But since it was not only Jesus the man who died but the Son experiencing death in his adopted human nature, his experience of death is eternal. (I did not say death was eternal, but the experience of it.)

      • MadScientist1023

        Wow. You’re telling me that humans created Hell and that your God is powerless to get rid of it? I had no idea we were capable of making our own dimensions or overpowering God like that. Go us!

        • Doubting Thomas

          The more you talk to Don about god the more you find out that god is the dumbest being imaginable. Maybe there’s a philosophical argument there….

          Premise 1: God is the dumbest being imaginable.
          Premise 2: A being that exists is dumber than one that doesn’t ….

        • Grimlock

          Brilliant! Let’s try a modal version!

          1. God is the dumbest possible being
          2. A being that is the dumbest being in every world is dumber than one that is only the dumbest being in less than all possible worlds
          3. The dumbest possible being is possible
          4. Since the dumbest possible being is possible it exists in a possible world, and since it’s also necessarily the dumbest possible being, then (in axioms S5) it follows that the dumbest possible being exists in all possible worlds
          5. God exists

          Checkmate, atheists.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Have to wonder what purpose God had in giving sin such amazing reality warping powers.

      • Otto

        >>>”They are the ones who sinned and chose to remove themselves from fellowship with God.”

        I made no such choice and neither did you. According to Christianity the choice was made for us and now we are held accountable….? Why am I or you responsible for being in a situation I had no control over? We would never hold people accountable for situations they didn’t create…and yet apparently when God does it it is supposed to be ‘justice’? And then if I ‘believe’ the right thing that somehow makes everything OK…how does believing something change that responsibility or burden we hold? The whole thing seems to be nonsensical.

        >>>”his experience of death is eternal.”

        Why would anyone think you have any clue about what God experiences?

        • Questioning54

          You are right. According to Christianity we are born sinners unable to NOT sin, yet supposed to be held accountable for the way we are born. We don’t choose to sin if we are born unable to NOT sin. We don’t blame a person born with a disability for not functioning as if they did not have the disability. To blame and punish us for how we are born makes no sense. Then they say we are to blame because Jesus died to fix us up but we don’t take advantage of that. If we are born sinners in the first place we don’t have the moral capacity to get Jesus to fix us, and a large part of the world lives and dies without even hearing of Jesus. I guess that is the lure of Calvinism where God chooses to fix a few without their choice and stuff the rest, which makes God out to be of limited power or just mean. We are back to where people are punished for the way they are born. By then the whole thing has become ridiculous.

        • Wile F. Coyote

          You are so wrong. The whole thing is not ridiculous “by then”, because the whole thing is ridiculous initially, right out of the gate, from the get-go, from all the waaaaaaay back when it was first thunked up.

        • Questioning54

          You are right. I meant that particular line of (not) reasoning. But the whole thing starts with a strange legend about what happened in a garden where the odds were stacked against a woman (of course!) and, without even knowing what sin was, she sinned. And of course she enticed the poor man to join her in sinfulness. And so on from there. All ridiculous really.

        • We are born sick and commanded to be well (Hitchens).

      • Grimlock

        You are thinking in linear time. Time for God is eternal. That means his decision to sacrifice Himself/ the Son was prior to our present or our past but is present to God. Remember, there is no before or after with God. There is simply the present.

        Could you please define “linear time”? I’ve always been confused by that term. Do you mean linear, as in the mathematical term? If so, I’m not less confused by that.

        Also, the way you frame it makes me think that to God’s eyes, all moments in time are equally real. I take it you’re not a big fan of the Kalam argument, then, since it relies on the A-theory of time, and that doesn’t jive so well with all moments being equally real?

        But since it was not only Jesus the man who died but the Son experiencing death in his adopted human nature, his experience of death is eternal.

        Does this mean that his experience of, say, scratching his balls, is also eternal?

        • Liz

          I’ve heard this too. Christians have this conception that humans are bobbling along a timeline, always moving forward into tomorrow. You can’t go back, you can’t know what lies ahead, so you have to trust that God knows what he is doing and will guide you. Because according to this picture, God is sort of above and outside this timeline. It’s like we’re walking along a string inside a bubble, and God isniutside tje bubble and can see everything that’s going to happen…. even as I’m typing it it makes no sense, but this is the point in the sermon where evangelicals sort of chuckle and make a lame joke about “wow isn’t God incredible to be able to do this? Don’t worry if it makes no sense, guys, because more blessed are those who believe without seeing amirite?”

        • Grimlock

          I’m not opposed to the idea that one can be outside of time in some sense. But if someone starts talking about it, I fail to see how the word “linear” actually makes sense, and I prefer it to be a mathematically rigorous description.

          It seems to me that it’ll play havoc with the idea of consciousness and causality, and also make it hard for the apologist to appeal to the Kalam argument. But I’m not sure if the idea of being outside of time is in and of itself incoherent.

        • Liz

          I’m not sure precisely what the mathematical definition is? I think people call it linear because we often draw a timeline of history as a literal straight line along a whiteboard, with the past on the left and the future on the right. Maybe?

        • Greg G.

          But the line can only be drawn backwards, not in the order that we experience time. It is like being at the tip of a twig and drawing a line through the branches and limbs to the trunk. Traveling the other way has decision points that lead to other directions. So linear time would be one with no deviations in either direction. It has no room for free will.

          We can stand back from a tree and see all the branches but not see any as more likely than the other. That model has no room for omniscience.

        • Grimlock

          I don’t think most of the people talking about this time outside time has a rigorous definition in mind. Which makes it harder to investigate the consequences of such a scenario (where God is conceived of as being outside of time).

          Now, don’t take my word for this as I’m not much of a physicist, but my understanding is that time moves at different speeds in place A relative to place B, depending on such things as their speeds and local gravity. Or, even more weird (again – don’t take my word for this), if A and B happens at the same time, and B and C happens at the same time, it doesn’t mean that A and C happens at the same time.

          I guess my point is that drawing such a straight line really isn’t representative for how time works on large scales. It’s functional for our intuitions, and for “local” history, such as here on Earth. But a similar attempt at describing the universe would be… Flawed.

        • epeeist

          if A and B happens at the same time, and B and C happens at the same time, it doesn’t mean that A and C happens at the same time.

          Special relativity would claim that there is no such thing as “simultaneity” for things that are space-wise separated.

        • Grimlock

          Would that be because you can define slices of spacetime, and consider all parts there to be simultaneous, but different slices (with different events being “simultaneous”) would be equally valid? So something is only arbitrarily simultaneous, but not absolutely simultaneous?

          Sometimes I regret not doing physics after high school.

        • epeeist

          I went looking for something that would provide an easy explanation, the Wiki page on the relativity of simultaneity is fairly reasonable.

        • epeeist

          I’m not opposed to the idea that one can be outside of time in some sense. But if someone starts talking about it, I fail to see how the word “linear” actually makes sense, and I prefer it to be a mathematically rigorous description.

          It is poor usage isn’t it when you consider linear in conjunction with “algebra”.

          These days I suspect most physicists are substantivalists, but only about space-time and not space or time. To quote Minkowski.

          Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.

      • Tommy

        They are the ones who sinned and chose to remove themselves from fellowship with God.

        Where in the Bible did you read this?

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        They are the ones who sinned and chose to remove themselves from fellowship with God.

        I can’t speak for everyone, but I made no such decision. I guess I have no need of Jesus’s temporary suicide.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Not only that, but god doesn’t want us “removed” from him and yet he made sin the thing that would remove us knowing that everyone ever ever would sin!!!

          Again, it’s hard to imagine a dumber entity than the Christian god.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Let’s not even mention leaving that stupid tree in the Garden…

        • Doubting Thomas

          Any parent half as inept as god should have their children taken away by DSS.

          “Well, yes, officer, I did leave my kids unsupervised with an evil tree and snake, but I didn’t think anything bad would happen.”

        • Phil

          He should have created a Health & Safety Rep before putting the tree there. A disaster waiting to happen.

      • Jim Jones

        If ‘Jesus’ had ever existed this would have some interest for historians. But we could say as much for King Arthur or Robin Hood.

        Or for Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

      • Zeta

        Wow! Old friend and resident apologist from Debunking Christianity. This is the first time I see you here.

        Don Camp: “To save humans from themselves.
        Why don’t you explain what is in 1 Peter 1:20? Is what it says right or not? Does it say that the whole shebang is preplanned? What is meant by “foreordained before the foundation of the world“?
        Why do humans have to save themselves? From what exactly?

        You are thinking in linear time. Time for God is eternal.
        How do you know? Don’t try to quote C. S. Lewis’ unsupported time argument again unless you can tell readers how he knew (and how you know) that his assertion is true. Anyone can make assertions that cannot be verified.

        Jesus the man, chose to surrender himself to the purpose of God for him.
        Why did your god choose to impregnate Mary to produce him? Your claim would make a bit more sense if he was just an ordinary human born in the usual way. Isn’t his birth part of the grand show your god orchestrated?

        …his experience of death is eternal. (I did not say death was eternal, but the experience of it.)

        How do you know?

      • Phil

        “Time for God is eternal. That means his decision to sacrifice Himself/ the Son was prior to our present or our past but is present to God. Remember, there is no before or after with God. There is simply the present.”

        How do you know this? Is it just a guess?

      • Ficino

        Is it accurate to say that God is “Being Itself” or “Existence Itself”?

    • Doubting Thomas

      If god is omnipotent, then he could’ve found innumerous other ways to allow us to get to heaven. Since he settled on torture and murder, he’s either incompetent or evil (or the imaginary friend of ignorant superstitious barbarians).

    • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

      right-thinking adult

      A giant piece of the puzzle falls into place…

  • Grimlock

    A related point would be how some Christians will claim that god has done so impressive feats. But I find that something is impressive relative to the effort put into it. It’d be hard to be impressed by anything done by an omni-god, as the effort do to whatever it did has to be infinitesimal.

    • Bob Jase

      So giving someone a parking place isn’t as impressive as creating a universe IYO?

      • Greg G.

        Having someone pull out of a parking spot right when you arrive is not as impressive as providing a parking spot that has always been empty.

      • Grimlock

        That depends at least partly on the effort it would take to do so. Creating a universe would be quite impressive for a human such as yourself. Creating a universe for an omnipotent being? Not that impressive, especially if that being hadn’t made an effort to become omnipotent in the first place.

        Or, to rephrase a bit. In a sense, I find it more impressive for you to give up a parking space than for an omnipotent god to create a universe.

  • Grimlock

    Just for the chuckles…

    1. A being that creates A is greater than a being that creates B, if all else being equal, A is more impressive than B.
    2. A universe that is self-sustaining is more impressive than a universe that is not self-sustaining.
    3. If the greatest conceivable being exists, then the universe is self-sustaining.
    4. Any conception of God that considers God to be necessary for sustaining the universe and that God is the greatest conceivable being is contradictory and thus non-existent.

    Or, a fun variation,

    2*. An past-eternal universe is more impressive than a universe that is not past-eternal.
    3*. If the greatest conceivable being exists, the universe is past-eternal.
    4*. If the greatest conceivable being exists, the Kalam cosmological argument is false.

    Somehow, I don’t think many theists will find these (goofy) arguments very compelling.

    ETA: I’m spinning off of the idea of God as impressive or worthy of worship, and checking to see if I find some interesting tensions in this conception of God.

    • Jim Jones

      God can’t exist because of Eric The God-Eating Magic Penguin.

      Since Eric is God-Eating by definition, he has no choice but to eat God. So, if God exists, He automatically ceases to exist as a result of being eaten. Unless you can prove that Eric doesn’t exist, God doesn’t exist. Even if you can prove that Eric doesn’t exist, that same proof will also be applicable to God. There are only two possibilities: either you can prove that Eric doesn’t exist or you can’t. In both cases it logically follows that God doesn’t exist.
      ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

      Also:

      Imagine the greatest possible god-eating penguin. A penguin that existed and had eaten a god would be greater than a non-existent one that had eaten no gods, therefore a god-eating penguin that has eaten a god must exist.

      That said, a god-eating penguin who has eaten entire pantheons of gods would be even greater, therefore all gods have existed and Eric has eaten them all.

      • Tommy

        All hail Eric, the Devourer of Gods!

      • Bob Jase

        good thing for Eric that he will never go hungry.

        • Jim Jones

          God ensures sufficient food for Eric.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew 6:26 (NRSV)26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

          Penguins are the best birds. Are they not more valuable than the birds of the air?

        • Bob Jase

          If god is feeding all the birds then why do they keep coming to my feeders hungry?

        • Greg G.

          You can’t fool me. That means Bob Jase is God.

          Do I get into heaven now?

        • Bob Jase

          You have my permission but don’t rush, enjoy life first. Heaven isn’t as great as some folks make it sound.

        • Jim Jones

          They’re better dressed. And not in colored feathers like flying hookers.

    • Kevin K

      Very good.

      • Grimlock

        Thanks!

  • Halbe

    How could any sane person worship an entity that punishes people for thought crimes by means of eternal torture? Derision, condemnation, disgust, loathing, abhorrence and revolt are the only reasonable human reactions to such a monster.

  • RichardSRussell

    The very concept of “worship” itself is odious, demeaning, insulting, and unworthy of human dignity.

  • Bob Jase

    Biblegod is insecure, the ritual of circumcision demonstrates that. Even mere mortal male babies must have their penises shortened so Yahweh can be more secure about his.

  • Benny S.

    If worshiping God is so darn important because REASONS, why is it (generally) just scheduled for Sundays, from (roughly) 11:00 am to 11:12 am?

    • Bob Jase

      And even then its optional during football season.

    • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

      Woh! Where did you go with church services that were only 12 minutes long?

      • Benny S.

        Not the whole service, just the worship portion.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          If you go to a Pentecostal church, the worship service will sometimes last an hour.

    • Jim Jones

      And if sex is the second most important thing to humans (survival being #1), why isn’t the whole congregation furiously masturbating during the service?

  • Gary Whittenberger

    William Lane Craig agrees: “Since God does not, presumably, issue commands to Himself, it follows that God has no moral duties to fulfill. While human beings may be praised for doing their moral duty, God therefore cannot be praised for doing His moral duty.”

    If God did exist, he would have moral duties to fulfill and he would always fulfill them perfectly. He would not need to issue commands to himself. God would not be exempt from correct universal morality.

    But if God did exist and were following correct universal morality perfectly, then there wouldn’t be any natural disasters because he would prevent them.
    But we have natural disasters.
    Therefore, God does not exist!

    Craig contradicts himself. He says he believes in objective morality. This would be independent of God, if he existed.

    • Grimlock

      See, this is an utter mess. Unless I’m entirely mistaken, Craig also believes that morality is what resides in God’s nature. It seems reasonable that this would display itself in behavior much like what you describe.

      I think Wes Morriston has made a point about how God, at least on many conceptions, don’t have moral freedom. This is because its actions are “locked in” by its perfectly moral nature. But if God – the greatest possible being – has no moral freedom, why is it so great that we humans get such a moral freedom? Without a good answer to this, the free will defence goes out the window.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        G1: See, this is an utter mess. Unless I’m entirely mistaken, Craig also believes that morality is what resides in God’s nature. It seems reasonable that this would display itself in behavior much like what you describe.

        GW1: Yes, I think Craig is not thinking rationally. It is commonly claimed that if God exists, then he is all-loving, perfectly good, or perfectly moral. From this nature we would expect him to behave in some ways and not in other ways.

        G1: I think Wes Morriston has made a point about how God, at least on many conceptions, don’t have moral freedom. This is because its actions are “locked in” by its perfectly moral nature. But if God – the greatest possible being – has no moral freedom, why is it so great that we humans get such a moral freedom? Without a good answer to this, the free will defence goes out the window.

        GW1: Another view is that if God exists, he is free to make decisions of all kinds, but he always chooses to make the correct moral decision.

        GW1: I don’t think the free will defense works anyway. For example, if a god granted men the freedom to choose to rape women, then this god would be PARTLY RESPONSIBLE for every rape that occurred. If God did exist, given that he would be perfectly moral, he would not grant men the freedom to choose to rape women since that would make him culpable.

        • Bob Jase

          See, god chooses to not be able to choose so his inablity to choose is pure free will.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I think it is much simpler than that. If God exists, he is perfectly free.

        • Bob Jase
        • Grimlock

          GW1: Another view is that if God exists, he is free to make decisions of all kinds, but he always chooses to make the correct moral decision.

          Wouldn’t a consequence of this view be that God would be able to do evil? I suspect at least some theists would find that unacceptable.

          GW1: I don’t think the free will defense works anyway.

          I’m not entirely convinced by your example. In it, God would indeed be complicit (also, if a victim’s free will is about to be overruled, it seems to me it’d be fair for God to intervene and overrule the bad guy’s free will instead).

          However, if one accepts some nebulous reasoning along the lines of free will being a great enough of a good to compensate for bad things (which totally doesn’t smack of blaming the victim at all), I don’t think your approach is enough to undercut the generic version of the free will defence.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW1: Another view is that if God exists, he is free to make decisions of all kinds, but he always chooses to make the correct moral decision.

          G2: Wouldn’t a consequence of this view be that God would be able to do evil? I suspect at least some theists would find that unacceptable.

          GW2: I agree with you on both points. Other theists, however, would find the claim that God is not perfectly free unacceptable.

          GW1: I don’t think the free will defense works anyway.

          G2: I’m not entirely convinced by your example. In it, God would indeed be complicit (also, if a victim’s free will is about to be overruled, it seems to me it’d be fair for God to intervene and overrule the bad guy’s free will instead).

          GW2: I don’t understand why you are not convinced. Yes, in the example God would be complicit in rape, which means that he would not be perfectly loving, good, or moral, which leads to a contradiction. If assuming God’s existence leads to a contradiction, then he does not exist and cannot exist!

          G2: However, if one accepts some nebulous reasoning along the lines of free will being a great enough of a good to compensate for bad things (which totally doesn’t smack of blaming the victim at all), I don’t think your approach is enough to undercut the generic version of the free will defence.

          GW2: I disagree. Your objection implies that God could not be moral without giving free will to human persons, which contradicts the assumption of his omnipotence. This leads to another contradiction, i.e. God would be omnipotent and would be not omnipotent at the same time.

        • Grimlock

          GW2: I agree with you on both points. Other theists, however, would find the claim that God is not perfectly free unacceptable.

          True. I’d say that some (many?) theists also would say that God is both unable to do evil, and that God is perfectly free. Good thing it ain’t our problem if their account of God is incoherent!

          GW2: I don’t understand why you are not convinced. Yes, in the example God would be complicit in rape, which means that he would not be perfectly loving, good, or moral, which leads to a contradiction. If assuming God’s existence leads to a contradiction, then he does not exist and cannot exist!

          […]

          GW2: I disagree. Your objection implies that God could not be moral without giving free will to human persons, which contradicts the assumption of his omnipotence. This leads to another contradiction, i.e. God would be omnipotent and would be not omnipotent at the same time.

          Consider the following principle:

          An action with a morally bad result is in fact morally permissible if it also leads to a greater good.

          Then assume that humans having free will, and that having free will is a really great good. Better, in fact, than some evils that may result from it. And this is why I don’t think your objection works entirely. Does it make it seem weird and implausible that such a morally perfect being exists? Oh yes. Does it make it strictly impossible? I don’t think so. So, I guess I might accept your objection, though it’d depend a bit on what you think your objection achieves.

          What I think you might be getting at is that even if one grants the above, an omnipotent being should still be able to create free beings and avoid evil consequences. But then comes along Plantinga’s Free Will Defence, and the idea of transworld depravity. Which is basically the following:

          Suppose that every free being always does at least one morally bad thing in every possible world in which they’re instantiated.*

          If this is true, then it’s impossible for God to create free beings without also allowing for some evil. Do I think it’s plausible? No, don’t be silly. But it does, for at least some versions of Christianity, maybe allow for a way out of a strict logical disproof of God’s existence.

          *Actually, this is just one of the interpretations of the concept of transworld depravity. And, though i’m by no means an expert, the least plausible explanation – but also least confusing explanation – with which I’m familiar.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW2: I agree with you on both points. Other theists, however, would find the claim that God is not perfectly free unacceptable.

          G3: True. I’d say that some (many?) theists also would say that God is both unable to do evil, and that God is perfectly free. Good thing it ain’t our problem if their account of God is incoherent!

          GW3: Yep, not our problem.

          GW2: I don’t understand why you are not convinced. Yes, in the example God would be complicit in rape, which means that he would not be perfectly loving, good, or moral, which leads to a contradiction. If assuming God’s existence leads to a contradiction, then he does not exist and cannot exist!
          GW2: I disagree. Your objection implies that God could not be moral without giving free will to human persons, which contradicts the assumption of his omnipotence. This leads to another contradiction, i.e. God would be omnipotent and would be not omnipotent at the same time.

          G3: Consider the following principle: An action with a morally bad result is in fact morally permissible if it also leads to a greater good.

          GW3: I think I know what you mean by this, but I would reformulate the principle this way: “A deliberate act which causes harm and benefit is morally permissible if the benefit exceeds the harm.” I don’t necessarily agree with that, but I think it is what you mean.

          G3: Then assume that humans having free will, and that having free will is a really great good.

          GW3: I think that humans probably don’t have free will and that determinism is true, but I could adopt your assumption for the sake of argument. On the other hand, I see no good reason to accept your second premise here – that free will is a really good thing. It depends what you have freedom to do. If a god gives men the free will to rape women, this free will is not a good thing, but a bad thing. I don’t think you can consider free will as one all-or-nothing thing.

          G3: Better, in fact, than some evils that may result from it. And this is why I don’t think your objection works entirely.

          GW3: I think it works entirely. If a god gives men the freedom to rape women, then this act by itself is morally wrong. Therefore this god cannot be morally perfect. But God is assumed to be morally perfect. A contradiction results.

          G3: Does it make it seem weird and implausible that such a morally perfect being exists? Oh yes. Does it make it strictly impossible? I don’t think so. So, I guess I might accept your objection, though it’d depend a bit on what you think your objection achieves.

          GW3: Yes, it makes it strictly impossible! Again, if assuming that God exists leads to a contradiction, then God does not and cannot exist. I will give you a more formal argument if you want it.

          G3: What I think you might be getting at is that even if one grants the above, an omnipotent being should still be able to create free beings and avoid evil consequences.

          GW3: An omnipotent being could create human beings with partially free will such that they would not even think about committing such acts as rape and consequently would never commit those acts. And furthermore, a perfectly moral omnipotent being would do exactly that.

          G3: But then comes along Plantinga’s Free Will Defence, and the idea of transworld depravity. Which is basically the following:
          Suppose that every free being always does at least one morally bad thing in every possible world in which they’re instantiated.*
          If this is true, then it’s impossible for God to create free beings without also allowing for some evil. Do I think it’s plausible? No, don’t be silly. But it does, for at least some versions of Christianity, maybe allow for a way out of a strict logical disproof of God’s existence.

          GW3: I read Plantinga’s book on his free will defense and read some commentaries about it. I don’t think his defense can survive my objection that free will need not be all-or-nothing. (Most theists and theologians believes it must be.) If God did exist, he would grant partially free will. This would be compatible with his nature, especially his omnipotence and perfect goodness.

        • Grimlock

          GW3: Yes, it makes it strictly impossible! Again, if assuming that God exists leads to a contradiction, then God does not and cannot exist. I will give you a more formal argument if you want it.

          A more formal argument would be useful, I think. Near as I can tell, the contradiction you’re asserting here doesn’t arise if one agrees that free will is such a great good that it compensates for other evils. I don’t particularly think that’s a very plausible premise myself, for the record. And the argument from Morriston that I mentioned above specifically undercuts this idea by noting how God doesn’t have the same type of freedom.

          GW3: An omnipotent being could create human beings with partially free will such that they would not even think about committing such acts as rape and consequently would never commit those acts.

          That’s a very good point! I’ve been trying to see if I can think of a good way around it, so far without success.

          First off, it seems obvious that in our world, our free will is at best partial, as we have various factors limiting our choices. (Cognitive biases, physical limitations, epistemic limitations, etc.) So clearly, if we have free will and were created by God, then it’s okay for our free will to be limited in some ways.

          I’d guess that someone wishing to save Plantinga’s FWD would argue that despite this, in order to have sufficiently free will, it’s still possible that every free being would be transworld depraved. But this seems even more farfetched than the original position.

          I recently read a book chapter by skydivephil who made similar points: https://www.reasonpress.net/SU1E/Chapter7

          This strikes me as a strong objection to Plantinga’s FWD. Do you know if your approach has seen any treatment in academia?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW3: Yes, it makes it strictly impossible! Again, if assuming that God exists leads to a contradiction, then God does not and cannot exist. I will give you a more formal argument if you want it.

          G4: A more formal argument would be useful, I think.

          GW4: I’m going to present a formal argument and stick with the same issue we have been discussing:
          Part A:
          1. If God did exist, then he would be a perfectly moral and all-powerful person. (From definition)
          2. If any person were perfectly moral and all-powerful, then he would not design and create men with the free will to rape women. (From correct universal morality)
          3. Therefore, if God did exist, then he would not design and create men with the free will to rape women. (By deduction from premises #1 and 2)
          Part B:
          4. If God did exist, then he would design and create everything. (From definition)
          5. Everything includes men with the free will to rape women. (From relation of part to whole)
          6. Men with the free will to rape women do exist. (From observation)
          7. Therefore, if God did exist, then he did design and men with the free will to rape women. (By deduction from premises #4, 5, and 6)
          8. If anybody DID design and create men with the free will to rape women, then he WOULD design and create men with the free will to rape women. (From relation of the actual to the probable)
          9. Therefore, if God did exist, then he would design and create men with the free will to rape women. (By deduction from premises #7 and 8)
          Part C:
          10. Therefore, if God did exist, then he would not design and create men with the free will to rape women (from Part A) and yet he would design and create men with the free will to rape women (from Part B). This is a contradiction. (From #3 and # 9 and definition of a contradiction)
          11. If God could exist, then assuming that he did exist would not lead to any contradictions. (From relation of contradictions to reality)
          12. But assuming that God did exist does lead to at least one contradiction, i.e. in #10. (From actual comparison)
          13. Therefore, not only does God not exist, he cannot exist. (From deduction from premises #10, 11, and 12)

          G4: Near as I can tell, the contradiction you’re asserting here doesn’t arise if one agrees that free will is such a great good that it compensates for other evils. I don’t particularly think that’s a very plausible premise myself, for the record. And the argument from Morriston that I mentioned above specifically undercuts this idea by noting how God doesn’t have the same type of freedom.

          GW4: I would never agree to that assumption about compensation and free will. I don’t think free will can be treated in all-or-none fashion. Free will is not good in itself. Imagine if we were free to only physically harm other persons in a variety of ways. The value of free will depends greatly, maybe entirely, on what options are given to us or are in our repertoire.

          GW3: An omnipotent being could create human beings with partially free will such that they would not even think about committing such acts as rape and consequently would never commit those acts.

          G4: That’s a very good point! I’ve been trying to see if I can think of a good way around it, so far without success.

          GW4: Thanks. Please let me know if you do think of one.

          G4: First off, it seems obvious that in our world, our free will is at best partial, as we have various factors limiting our choices. (Cognitive biases, physical limitations, epistemic limitations, etc.) So clearly, if we have free will and were created by God, then it’s okay for our free will to be limited in some ways.

          GW4: I agree with your point here. We aren’t free to fly (without technology, that is). I think we need to think of free will as the ability to decide or choose to do anything within our physical capabilities, perhaps being influenced but not determined in what we do.

          G4: I’d guess that someone wishing to save Plantinga’s FWD would argue that despite this, in order to have sufficiently free will, it’s still possible that every free being would be transworld depraved. But this seems even more farfetched than the original position.

          GW4: I don’t know what “sufficiently free will” or “transword depraved” are. Also, I don’t think Plantinga writes very clearly.

          G4: I recently read a book chapter by skydivephil who made similar points: https://www.reasonpress.net

          GW4: I enjoyed reading that chapter and agreed with most of the points made.

          G4: This strikes me as a strong objection to Plantinga’s FWD. Do you know if your approach has seen any treatment in academia?

          GW4: Thank you. I don’t know if it has. I don’t work in academia. Do you? If you do, I invite you to carry the idea forward. We might consider collaboration on a publication. I did have an article published in Free Inquiry magazine which is related to what we are discussing.

      • Kevin K

        Plato had something to say about that as well, with the Euthyphro dilemma. Either the gods are the arbiters of what is good and evil, in which case those concepts are arbitrary, or the gods are constrained by some external source of what is good and evil, in which case the gods are irrelevant.

        • Grimlock

          Indeed!

          The Real Atheology podcast recently had an episode on the subject, though I haven’t had the time to check it out yet. If it keeps to their usual quality it’ll be pretty interesting.

  • E.A. Blair

    This is off topic, but I had a curious thought today. Imagine a world in which a god or gods manifested themselves whether physically or with a sufficient spirtual presence to leave no question about their existence (unlike here and now – imagine a temple where Zeus was actually present). What would we call someone who rejected those deities despite proof of their existence? “Atheist” wouldn’t be a proper term, since there would be actual proof of a divine presence; neither would “agnostic”.

    I guess this proves that I’ve been reading too many fantasy novels lately.

    • EllyR

      Flat earth believers seem to be the closest example that will fit so I guess “no god believers” will be a proper name. I hope the gods in your phantasy are benevolent… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/00b6a8cf2af8d515ae1235e6371a713f9a757ec877cb3783c6323b7a3b007a82.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4e86d6da091b3dbbcaf1cf6aadaef5c6c9a237f8f1c51a2d592a6fc59c63ebf0.jpg

      • Kevin K

        Yahweh always keeps his beard neat and trimmed.

    • Jim Jones

      If there was evidence of gods, religions would be sciences.

      • Doubting Thomas

        Yup. If there was evidence, theology would be taught in the science buildings,

    • That depends on their attitude. Refusal to worship god(s) is called alatrism. The belief that they’re bad is maltheism. Active hatred for them is misotheism. Assuming you mean rejecting their existence however I guess “deluded” would be fitting.

    • Grimlock

      What would we call someone who rejected those deities despite proof of their existence?

      Karsa Orlong.

      I guess this proves that I’ve been reading too many fantasy novels lately.

      There is no such thing as reading too much fantasy.

      Any recommendations by the way?

    • Bob Jase

      Well there are the gods OF Lanhkmar and the gods IN Lanhkmar…

    • Phil

      Trumpists – they reject reality.

    • Anthrotheist

      “What would we call someone who rejected those deities despite proof of their existence?”
      That could be taken two ways it seems.
      Rejecting the proof of their existence would make them god deniers, similar to Holocaust deniers.
      Rejecting their expectations or demands would make them heretics.

      • Michael Neville

        As Granny Weatherwax noted, just because gods exist is no reason to worship them. It only makes them start putting on airs.

    • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

      Should have gone to TV Tropes:

      Flat-Earth Atheist

      https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlatEarthAtheist

  • Jim Jones

    > Is Trump’s thin-skinned demand for praise obnoxious? Offensive? Unbefitting a powerful leader? Why then does it make any more sense for the Christian god?

    Once you realize that the audience is the author – even of religious books – the reasons are clear.

  • “Since God does not, presumably, issue commands to Himself, it follows
    that God has no moral duties to fulfill. While human beings may be
    praised for doing their moral duty, God therefore cannot be praised for
    doing His moral duty.”

    I don’t think WLC agrees. He’s suggesting that the god isn’t doing whatever supposed good it’s doing because it’s obligated to, but rather that it has no obligation and does the good things anyway, so it should be praised.

    • Otto

      >>>”He’s suggesting that the god isn’t doing whatever supposed good it’s doing because it’s obligated to, but rather that it has no obligation and does the good things anyway.”

      That funny because I can’t tell the difference between what his God does and a child sitting on the sidewalk burning ants with a magnifying glass.

      • Sure, it’s all bullshit, but my point was that I think Bob misunderstood.

        • Otto

          Well I understand WLC’s position to be that God is Good, God is by definition good and cannot be otherwise. He subscribes to divine command theory which basically says genocide is good if God wills it and God is incapable of doing evil.

          If all that is the case than Bob is right that God should not get credit for that which he could not do otherwise.

          OTOH apologists like WLC tend to be very contradictory and it could be that he has indicated both positions.

        • I see. WLC may very well subscribe to divine command theory, but this particular quote from him seems to me to simply be saying that “his deityship” has no obligations whatsoever, so any bone he throws gets credited to him as generosity.

        • Otto

          Yeah…true. Craig thinks we are just shit stains and should thank God for not washing us out of his underwear.

    • Interesting point, thanks.

  • Freodin

    God, as imagined by humans, is also a human. We are constantly told that God is a “person”. Our understanding of “personhood” is limited to humans, and while of course we are also told that God is the “perfect human”, he is portrayed more or less with all the good and bad attributes that humans can have.

    A desire for praise is a very human characteristic. We all crave acknowledgement for what we think we did well. Not always, but most of the time. We feel ignored or not valued when we don’t get this acknowledgement we think we deserve.

    God, as an “optimal human”, is portrayed as the same.

    But here a very negative human characteristic comes into this: the human way of forcing others to do their bidding. Power doesn’t look for acknowledgement and praise… power enforces it.

    And because this refutes the whole concept of receiving praise for accomplishments instead, this leads to a whole other set of problems. When you receive praise because not of what you have done, but because your force people to praise you, you can never be sure about their sincerity or their true appraisal of your work. So you know have to enforce sincerity. And so on, and so on.

    A vicious circle.

  • zenmite

    What do you do when you want to influence a human despot? You tell the king or queen how wonderful and generous they are in the hope they will grant your request……”Please don’t slice off my head.” or “Please make me the prince of my own homeland.”, etc. Sucking up to god is no different. I praise you oh god…you are so wonderful…I am nothing next to you…(subtext: Please don’t let me or my family get sick, or don’t send me to hell and I so appreciate your help in finding the very best parking spots! Amen!) We worship because we want something in return. The same reason people praise the Donald…”please allow me oh lord to keep my job in the cabinet!” Any objective reading of the bible shows the character of god to be very much like Mr.Trump. How many times have you heard that God created us to have a relationship with him? That relationship consists of us praising and worshiping him. And if we don’t???….to the dungeon with you!

    • Greg G.

      If he moves his water bottle, you have to move yours, too, without hesitation, lest your loyalty be questioned.