On the Possibility of Perfect Humanity

Last month, in “An Impoverished Infinity“, I wrote about the strange limitations that many Christian believers impose on God. These theists believe that God was not wise or powerful enough to create a world with intelligent beings that did not also include earthquakes, diseases and other disasters – as if the infinite space of possible worlds was somehow foreclosed.

The discussion in the comments thread centered largely around the issue of free will, which is the most common example of these theological limitations. Several theists showed up to argue that God could have created human beings such that we never chose to sin, but believe that he could only have done so by making us into automata who lack meaningful freedom.

I believe this argument is wrong, and I’ll explain why. As I wrote some time ago, what it means to have free will is that you can choose from the options available to you in accordance with your desires. The “automata” claim overlooks the fact that there are three things which free will does not require.

First, free will does not require infinite choice, where every imaginable course of action is a realistic possibility. Even if the laws of nature and logic restrict our options to a limited set, we can still choose freely from among the members of that set. Free will is not a total absence of constraint, but rather the ability to select among the options that are available.

Free will also does not require a mental blank slate, where every possible course of action seems equally attractive and compelling. On the contrary, a free person can have dispositions, desires and character traits that incline them to choose a certain way in a given situation. This must be so, for a person who had no desires or inclinations would never act at all. Having a certain set of unchosen desires is a precondition for having a will in the first place. Just as with the previous point, we are still free because we can still choose among the options open to us. What makes a person unfree is not acting in accordance with their desires, but being compelled to act against their desires.

Finally, free will does not require randomness. Granted, a free person can choose to inject a kind of “radical choice” into their decision-making, permitting their decisions to be controlled by some external source of random input – whether it be a coin-flip or quantum noise in the synapses of the brain. But a random component is not required for an act to be free. Even a decision that involves no quality of randomness, one that is entirely determined by the facts and reasons available to the decision-maker, can be a free choice.

After all, wouldn’t the freest possible agent be one who is perfectly responsive to reason, who is perfectly aware of all the facts relevant to any decision, and who decides on that basis? Such a person would always make the decisions that were best for them without ever needing to choose randomly, and surely that is the purest and most desirable form of free will. Anything less would be inferior, because being unaware of facts relevant to our choices diminishes, not increases, our freedom; it causes us to overlook possibilities we would otherwise have considered.

All three of these points should be uncontroversial, even among theists. To deny either of the first two is to deny that humans have free will, because obviously we do have built-in inclinations and do not have infinite choice. To deny the third, meanwhile, is to deny that God has free will; or at the very least, it is to suggest that our free will is more perfect than his, because we are blessed with ignorance and he, presumably, is not. Since I doubt that most theists would want to make either of those claims, I figure they would agree with me.

Now see where these conclusions lead. Free will does not require unlimited choice, absence of desire, or randomness. A person whose choices are constrained by physical law and their own desires, and who chooses in accordance with those desires and with the relevant facts, still can be and is free in a way that is genuine, significant, and worth wanting. (In fact, each of us is such a person.)

Given all this, why couldn’t an omnipotent deity have done things differently? Such a being could have created a world where evil was a literal impossibility, where physical law is constituted by God’s will and it is not possible to act in contravention to that will. Or God could have created a world in which evil acts were physically possible, but in which human psychology would be different than it actually is, such that we only desire to choose the good. To truly rule out evil in this world, our decisions would also have to be non-random, so that chance would not occasionally intervene and cause us to do evil despite our desires. In either of these worlds, human beings would truly be morally perfect.

None of these options, as we’ve seen, would turn humans into puppets or automata. We would still be truly and legitimately free. But in these worlds, there would be no sin or wrongdoing at all, and thus no evil, no suffering, no need to create an afterlife of torture or send earthly catastrophes as punishment. Why wouldn’t God, if he exists, have created a world like this? It would have been superior to our own in every way.

The force of this argument should be undeniable. In fact, in worldviews like the Christian one, God conferred on human beings a positive attraction to sin – a set of psychological inclinations that frequently bias our decisions toward disobedience. If that isn’t seen as taking away our free will, why couldn’t he have done the opposite and instead given human beings an equally strong set of inclinations toward obedience? In short, instead of original sin, why not original virtue? If God hates sin so much, why would he create a world that would all but ensure the maximum amount of it?

A rational deity would not demand moral perfection unless he created beings capable of supplying it. To say otherwise contradicts a basic point of morality: that you cannot blame someone for not doing what they are not capable of doing. This is why, for example, we don’t hold mentally ill people criminally responsible. We understand that their capacity to tell right from wrong is impaired, and that it wouldn’t be just to treat them as we treat people who possess that capacity. But God, if we believe the Christian logic, rejects this reasoning – he created human beings imperfect and then punishes them harshly for their imperfection. If, as the Bible says, God is “not willing that any should perish”, then I am unable to see why he would not have created a world where that will could be realized.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Ric

    Well argued, my friend. The only way out of this I can see is playing the old (and completely unsatisfying) ineffability card.

  • Adrian

    There’s also the unpleasant fact that each person is not born with the same filters on our behaviour. If a god really cared about free will above our suffering or happiness, then why are some people born with an almost pathologically kind and forgiving nature while others are psychopaths, born with no empathy or feelings towards other human beings?

    Do I suffer from any loss because I feel a sense of revulsion and horror when I contemplate killing or raping someone else? What about my free will to make decisions about murder in perfect freedom? Does Ted Bundy have more free will than I have?

    All jokes about altar boys aside, I think most people making this free-will-justifies-horrors argument are just as limited by their biology as I am. We aren’t perfectly free to harm as we are to heal, yet we don’t think this is a problem at all!

    The argument “against” free will is the recognition that we can be born with a revulsion for harming others, indeed most people are born this way. Yet we are not automatons, we feel perfectly healthy. The question is why is there some minority of people that are born with “more” free will to sin, or some people born without any desire to help others?

    (And let’s face it, free will doesn’t affect influenza outbreaks, earthquakes or other natural disasters. To answer the question of why good people die from disease by saying “free will” is just idiotic.)

  • penguin factory

    You raise some good points. I’ve encountered the free will argument several times, but I’ve never thought to use any of the refutations you present here. They seem so obvious in hindsight!

  • terrence

    I’d love to ask a Christian apologist, if sinning is a misuse of our free will, why isn’t correcting the deity’s mistakes also a misuse? A while ago in India, some surgeons used their free will to deliberately mess up a fine example of intelligent design, a little girl born with four arms and four legs. Reading the story of the successful surgery, I had to admit, my own free will felt perfectly intact, too.

  • GSmith

    Many Christians claim that God gave man freewill as a gift. They argue that each person is free to act in any way that he or she chooses. I can use that freewill to “serve God” or I can use it to do other things. Therefore, if I want to, I can use my freewill to rape a little boy or girl. My question is: If I choose to rape a child, does this not, at least temporarily, take away the child’s freewill, which is supposedly given to him or her by God. If the child is using his or her freewill to walk home from school and his or her intent is to get home, eat dinner, do homework, and play, by kidnapping the child and raping them, have I not prevented them from using their freewill? If freewill were a gift from an all-powerful God, wouldn’t it be impossible for me, a mere human, to take away the freewill of another person? Where one person is using his God-given freewill to commit evil and another, who is using his God-given freewill to do good, wouldn’t an all-powerful God find this to be the ideal time to intervene and protect the freewill of the one who intends to do good?

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    Very nice argument. I’ll be interested in seeing how any theists respond to it.

  • hb531

    Ditto

  • Stephen

    I’d love to ask a Christian apologist, if sinning is a misuse of our free will, why isn’t correcting the deity’s mistakes also a misuse?

    Some say it is. Take for example the fundamentalist protestants who refuse vaccinations on those grounds. And when the first heart transplant was carried out I remember some religious people protesting against it on the grounds that the surgeon was “playing god”. (As a small boy at the time, I wondered what exactly that meant. I’m still wondering – only I no longer expect a sensible answer.)

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    Excellent essay, as usual. I can’t believe that I, or anyone else, ever takes Christian doctrine seriously. It seems so obviously convoluted simply to avoid the truth that it makes no sense.

    Of course, free will has nothing to do with so-called natural evil, and I’ll never understand why theists don’t seem to realize that.

    There are also the associated problems of God’s supposed foreknowledge and human freedom. Everything supposedly happens according to God’s plan. How do we have freedom then? We freely choose to act according to God’s pre-ordained plan? My becoming an atheist is according to God’s plan, then. Yet, even though it is part of God’s plan I am responsible for it? That doesn’t make any sense at all. It makes the words freedom and determinism completely void of content.

  • hereigns

    Most excellent post! Points are well laid out which makes it easy to follow/digest. This topic is definitely a weightier matter and you’ve forced me to pull out my Harvard degree on this one ), just kidding. When I first read this post I started gathering all my “handy” scriptures to help facilitate this discussion but I quickly realized that’s not going to help so I’ve put them away, atleast for now ).

    He did not create robots, he created human beings. Love is not love if it is forced. God desires that we worship Him freely. If He had wanted robots surely He could’ve/would’ve made everybody without the ability to sin and love Him. But He has given each of us free will so we can either choose to love Him or to not! You wouldn’t enjoy your children much if they were forced to love you, would you?

    My simple answer to your question(s) is…let’s just blame all of it; sin, evil, suffering, and hell on Satan! I know you’re probably thinking what a cop-out answer! Blame all of these problems on poor little innocent Lucifer. But as you already know, that’s what the Bible says and I’m not going to try rewrite His Word to “win” an argument ).

    I won’t pretend for one moment as though I have all the answers to all the in-depth/wonderful questions that so many people have regarding God but man it sure is fun discovering the limited depths of our knowledge. Just like you, I get frustrated with sin, pain, suffering and honestly…God’s salvation plan is not an pill for some to swallow.

    I realize I’m making myself vulnerable with the above comments but the bottom-line is when I look upon the cross all I see is a love story. I see how much He loves me! I never really knew what love was until I fell at His feet and worshiped Him! I wish I could somehow share His love with you, who knows…maybe someday I’ll get that chance!

    Now you know I can’t post without atleast one verse ).

    I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live (Deuteronomy 30:19)

  • OMGF

    He did not create robots, he created human beings. Love is not love if it is forced. God desires that we worship Him freely. If He had wanted robots surely He could’ve/would’ve made everybody without the ability to sin and love Him. But He has given each of us free will so we can either choose to love Him or to not! You wouldn’t enjoy your children much if they were forced to love you, would you?

    This is a non sequitor. Why do we need to desire to do evil in order to love god? Why can’t we choose to love god or not without desiring evil?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    He did not create robots, he created human beings.

    “hereigns”, my entire post is an argument for why it is possible to create free-willed beings that would freely choose to not do evil. In other words, it was a response to the boilerplate Christian apologetic you just posted. I suggest you go back and read it more carefully.

  • Vegan Atheist

    I really wish I had something more intelligent to contribute to the discussion than “Right on!!!” Until such time as I do, well, right on!

  • http://ecstathy.blogspot.com Efrique

    Fantastic post. Some real gems recently.

    I have a little twist to bring up.

    Let’s imagine that a theist were to have a decent response to all this – that somehow one is able to argue that free will really does require that you be able to sin, and that you be inclined to sin, while you know that it’s sinful (if you don’t understand that it’s sinful, you can’t be blamed for it, surely, because otherwise we’re back at punishing the mentally incompetent – indeed, by that light we should put animals on trial if they harm people or damage property).

    Let’s go back to Genesis. Eve plucks the fruit from the tree of knowledge … so right then, as just the creature God made her, she could not possibly have understood what sin was, since she had not yet eaten the fruit. All she had was the admonition not to do it – but without having eaten the fruit, there can have been no understanding that disobedience was itself a sin, because she has no knowledge of good and evil.

    She could only have understood that the act was wrong by eating the fruit!

    So if the story is true, why did God punish every creature since, for his own failure? Indeed, if it was so darn important to keep his creation ignorant of why they shouldn’t eat the fruit, why put the fruit right there anyway? It’s the action of a petulant fool, and a damned vindictive one at that.

    [If you don't want a toddler to grab the shiny thing you just made, you don't dangle the shiny thing in front of them and say "don't play with the shiny thing". You put the shiny thing *away*. If you tease them with it and then leave it laying around and they grab the shiny thing, you can only blame yourself.]

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Excellently put, Ebonmuse. You’re certainly making me rethink the details of my understanding of free will.

    hereigns,

    I realize I’m making myself vulnerable with the above comments . . .

    Taking that as an admission that you know those arguments have serious flaws, the rest of this comment may well be superfluous. If so, forgive me — but for completeness:

    [L]et’s just blame all of it; sin, evil, suffering, and hell on Satan! I know you’re probably thinking what a cop-out answer! Blame all of these problems on poor little innocent Lucifer. But as you already know, that’s what the Bible says and I’m not going to try rewrite His Word to “win” an argument.

    But don’t you have to blame God for Satan in the first place? After all, God is supposed to have created Satan along with everything else. Moreover, if God is omnipotent, God has the power to stop Satan.

    Love is not love if it is forced. God desires that we worship Him freely. You wouldn’t enjoy your children much if they were forced to love you, would you?

    Actually, I think if they were forced by their own dispositions to love me, I’d still appreciate their love very much. In fact, I think most children, in healthy and even unhealthy families, probably are forced by their own dispositions to love their parents. And I’m sure there are biological reasons why mothers love their children. Do you think that, knowing that, I shouldn’t appreciate my mother’s love for me?

    On the other hand, how much would you enjoy your children if you knew they were forced to either love you or spend an eternity suffering? (See this Ebonmusings essay).

  • hereigns

    Ebonmuse,

    Maybe I missed the mark here but I believe I followed the logic of your posting properly. I simply made an additional point regarding “loving the Lord” which I believe is directly connected to sin/evil.

    OMGF,

    Good question but again it goes back to the “fall” of man. Adam was created to live without sin/evil. I realize how quickly I’ll get flamed for this but apart from God we can’t even begin to walk in the “Way”. In Christ we learn step-by-step, day-by-day how to love ourselves and others. I’m not saying I’m perfect, far from it…I still struggle everyday like everyone else.

    I get the Biblical representation of free will so it’s hard for me to see it from your perspective. I understand we are free moral agents who “freely” choose to love God or not.

  • Jim Speiser

    Hereigns:

    You see a man with spikes driven through his flesh, bleeding from scourge wounds, thorn wounds, etc., as a love story? I would hate to see your collection of horror movies…

    ==JJS==

  • javaman

    Why can’t we be kind to each other, just because it feels good to be kind and hope that,that person passes it down the line, so that we all give and receive compassion, loving kindness,and knowledge, as we are in the loop too. Even if we give more then we receive? Theists are good because they have a hidden wish to get on the good side of god so they get into heaven.In addition to fearing god, They do good primarly because they get a future reward. Would they still behave this way if there was nothing in it for them in the future,if there is no god keeping score. The time to be happy is now, the place to be happy is here, the way to be happy is to make others happy.

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    It struck me that perhaps hereigns is a robot, judging from the canned Christian apologetic regarding free will.

    None of the things you said in your first comment, hereigns, address the issue of this post, which was an evisceration of exactly that type of thinking. Better luck next time!?

  • hrd2imagin

    heregins:

    Love is not love if it is forced. God desires that we worship Him freely. … He has given each of us free will so we can either choose to love Him or to not! … I understand we are free moral agents who “freely” choose to love God or not.

    To Lynet’s point, God has not given us a “no strings attached” variety of free will. He provides an ultimatum, “Choose to love me or endure eternal torture in the flames of Hell.” Put this way, it is plain to see that this is NOT free will.

    It can also be argued that Hell is an instrument of God. Without Hell, this fundamental choice God has given us cannot exist, therefore, there would also be no reason for us to worship Him. Heaven would just be where we go when we die.

    God created Hell because God needs Hell.

  • goyo

    hereigns: You’re absolutely right! What a cop-out answer!
    How can you come on a post like this and resort to “satan” as an answer.
    You know we don’t believe in these fairy tales, and to resort to them to try to answer the intelligent statements that people are making is insulting!
    Talk to us about evidence.
    terrence: Excellent point. I saw on the news reports that at first, the parents didn’t want to “fix” her, because they thought she was a reincarnation of their goddess, “Shiva”.
    I don’t know how they convinced them to change their minds.

  • http://aveganatheist.blogspot.com Vegan Atheist

    hereigns -

    It’s very nice that you’re using your devotion to the Bible as a motivator for personal improvement. If you’re actually trying to discourse intelligently on an atheist blog, however, you would be better served by not assuming that we all share your belief that there is anything factual about the Bible.

    Ebonmuse suggested that you re-read the main article because you don’t seem to have understood what he said. Let me direct your attention to a crucial paragraph:

    Given all this, why couldn’t an omnipotent deity have done things differently? Such a being could have created a world where evil was a literal impossibility, where physical law is constituted by God’s will and it is not possible to act in contravention to that will. Or God could have created a world in which evil acts were physically possible, but in which human psychology would be different than it actually is, such that we only desire to choose the good. To truly rule out evil in this world, our decisions would also have to be non-random, so that chance would not occasionally intervene and cause us to do evil despite our desires. In either of these worlds, human beings would truly be morally perfect.

    If there were such a thing as “God’s will” (please remember that none of us believes there is!), it would not encompass all choices that can possibly be made within the stricture of absolute moral perfection. For example, there is nothing inherently moral in choosing a flavor of ice cream at the cone shop. Furthermore, creating humans in such a way that they truly, honestly preferred to do “God’s will” would not be making robots of free agents, any more than raising a child to prefer not kicking puppies makes a robot of a child.

    To speak to your second comment, yes, you are going to meet with much disdain and annoyance for telling us that your way (“God’s ‘Way’”) is the only way. We do not share your belief that any part of a human being persists after death, so threatening us with eternal damnation really isn’t going to fly.

    We know it’s hard for you to see it from our perspective; you have been conditioned quite thoroughly by your religious meme to be incapable of reasoning sanely on a variety of subjects. You do seem to be trying, though, so keep it up!

  • velkyn

    I’ll have to add that love with a condition isn’t love. Not as humans define it. I’m sure some Christian has tried to redefine that word also to excuse their deity.

    Free will also is abrogated as soon as God interferes in anything. All those miracles in the OT and NT, and those claimed now kill free will.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    “You wouldn’t enjoy your children much if they were forced to love you, would you?” — hereigns

    Rob, given the fact that your religion demands the worship of god at threat of eternal damnation and hellfire, how can you rationally argue that this is a free choice? We’ve been over this ground before, you and I, and I never received an answer from you other than “good point.” I ask you again: If I am robbed at gunpoint is that truly freewill? If I love god only to avoid hell, isn’t that only my recognizing that god holds my soul hostage?

    Seems to me a god devoted to free will is mighty persnickety about how he applies it, kind of like a tornado skipping over the farmhouse to blow away the pigtrough. Further, I’m sure you know that free will is an ex post facto construct of theologians. Nowhere in the Bible, to my knowledge, is the concept brought up. It is an appendix with the sole purpose of rescuing Christian dogma from the Problem of Evil.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    @goyo – nitpick, but Shiva is a god not a goddess. More importantly, the parents may or may not have thought she was an avatar, but they always wanted her to have the operation; they said her divine nature (if it existed) wouldn’t vanish if she were to be normally shaped. It was some other people – who fortunately had no say in the matter – who wanted her left alone.

    “We have high hopes of everything going fine and everything is going fine now.”

    Her parents, who earn about 50p a day as casual labourers and are both in their twenties, were turned away by a government hospital when they asked for help to increase Lakshmi’s chances of survival.

    However, they were brought to Bangalore after Dr Sharan Patil, the consultant orthopaedic surgeon leading the operation, visited their village.

    “We tried to take Lakshmi to hospital but they turned us away and said nothing could be done,” Mrs Tatma said. “We saved money and even went to Delhi but the hospitals there turned us away too. Lakshmi had never once seen a doctor until Dr Patil came to our village and took an interest in our case.

    “I believe that Lakshmi is a miracle, a reincarnation, but she is my daughter and she cannot live a normal life like this.”

    The hospital’s foundation is paying for the surgery because Lakshmi’s family can’t afford the considerable cost of the operation.

    Source

  • Serafina

    Aside from this well-argued post, there’s the simple fact that if God is really all-powerful–able to shape not just physical laws but also moral and aesthetic concepts to his will–he should be able to make perfect beings with free will no matter how weird the idea seems to us.

  • hereigns

    Jim, “You see a man with spikes driven through his flesh, bleeding from scourge wounds, thorn wounds, etc., as a love story?”

    Yes, what a high price to pay for my sin!

    Javman, “Theists are good because they have a hidden wish to get on the good side of god so they get into heaven.”

    If I had to rely on how “good” I am in order to get into heaven I can assure you I would not make it!

    “In addition to fearing god, They do good primarly because they get a future reward. Would they still behave this way if there was nothing in it for them in the future,if there is no god keeping score.”

    The only reward I really care about is being with my friend, Jesus. I’m not earning any “brownie” points for any good I may or may not do.

    “The time to be happy is now, the place to be happy is here, the way to be happy is to make others happy.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more!

    hrd2imagin, “To Lynet’s point, God has not given us a “no strings attached” variety of free will…it is plain to see that this is NOT free will.”

    A choice whether you agree or disagree on it’s premise is still a choice.

    goyo, “Talk to us about evidence.”

    Prove me I’m wrong. The burden of proof is on both of us. You can’t prove God doesn’t exist any more than I can prove He does exist.

    Vegan Atheist, “Given all this, why couldn’t an omnipotent deity have done things differently? Such a being could have created a world where evil was a literal impossibility, where physical law is constituted by God’s will and it is not possible to act in contravention to that will…”

    I can assure you I’m following Ebonmuse and now your logic, both commentaries have been commuincated well. First, I don’t have the mind of God (I know, surprise-surprise) and the scriptures do not directly answer this long debated question, atleast not that I can find, but please allow me to present one possibility.

    I think you would agree with the following statement; our actions speak louder than our words. It’s one thing to set a goal for something you desire but it’s quite another to take action and make it come to fruition. It’s one thing to tell someone you love them and would do anything for them but it’s quite another to actually donate one of your organs for them.

    This idea of action, bringing things to completion and therefore being particularly important is also found in the Bible. Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him righteousness BUT it was not fully expressed or completed until he acted on it by trusting God in a difficult situation. Jesus’ incarnation and identification with us was complete because He lived as a human and experienced everything we do, including our sufferings.

    Logic says, a world in which “moral acts” are carried out has more “good” in it than a world without or one in which the act(s) are only abstract…the more love the more good. Some moral acts therefore cannot be performed in a world that lacks suffering or evil. Some examples include; courage, generosity, self-sacrifice, repentance, forgiveness, and mercy.

    If there weren’t any suffering or evil throughout the history of the world, there would be no instances of any of the above. Some might reply that they’d be willing to make the trade-off and live in a universe that consisted solely of heaven. However, that universe would lack good which this universe contains, and therefore it wouldn’t necessarily make it better. Besides, since God allows each of us to abuse our free will by doing evil, He also gives us the chance to experience repentance, forgiveness and mercy firsthand, after which we much more fully appreciate His love and who He is.

    source: http://www.rationalchristianity.net/evil.html

    “We know it’s hard for you to see it from our perspective; you have been conditioned quite thoroughly by your religious meme to be incapable of reasoning sanely on a variety of subjects. You do seem to be trying, though, so keep it up!”

    Please refrain from these types of rude comments. They do nothing to add to your commentary and simply distract from an otherwise excellent discourse. Thank you.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Some might reply that they’d be willing to make the trade-off and live in a universe that consisted solely of heaven. However, that universe would lack good which this universe contains, and therefore it wouldn’t necessarily make it better.

    The mind boggles. Are you saying, as a Christian, that you believe Heaven is not a better place than this world?

  • hereigns

    Ebonmuse,

    I would’ve bet a thousand dollars you would be the first to catch that! Not at all, all I ask is for a little slack on this one. Maybe…I wouldn’t be capable of appreciating/receiving all of heavens glory if I haven’t received God’s greatest gift, His love in His Son.

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    The mind does boggle. Doesn’t it strike anyone as arrogant to say, oh, I don’t know, that it’s better that the world have the Holocaust, just in order to allow people to forgive the terrible things that have been done to them? Such a response always seems to me to belittle the immense, unbelievable amounts of suffering in this world.

    Did you know that 16,438 children under the age of five will die today from preventable causes? And tomorrow, and the next day, and every single day after that? I think it would take more good than I have ever experienced to wipe away even ten of those deaths (if we can think in such cold mathematical terms), thus leaving quite an imbalance in the good-evil ratio in the world.

    Even more disturbing is that there really isn’t anyone responsible for this. Perhaps certain large networks of people are responsible, but there is little that can be done about this. The mechanisms which drive global politics on a historical scale are so large and complex that we as yet have little understanding of them. Truly, only God could be responsible, in the end, for this state of affairs.

    Ebon, you bring up something I’ve wondered myself – if Heaven is so great, why not just have everyone born into Heaven, and dispense with the suffering physical world all together?

    Furthermore, (many, at least) Christians believe that there are free, totally good beings in existence – angels. These angels supposedly have free will – they can choose to love or hate God – and some of them are able to be good and never do evil. How does that work!? Why couldn’t God have made humans the same way?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    So, hereigns, which is better: a world in which everyone attains salvation, or a world in which a small number of people attain salvation and a vastly larger number are condemned to eternal suffering?

  • goyo

    hereigns: Yes I can. What does the bible say? It says that with god all things are possible. It also says “ask and you shall receive”; “if you have faith, you can say to the mountain, move, and it will move”; you know the rest…
    The proof is that your life is no different than mine. There is the ultimate proof.
    If the christian life is real, you should be different than me. You should be immune from sickness, death, sadness, poverty…
    If you are not different, then why spend all the time proclaiming your love for a god that supposedly changes lives? How are you different? Tell me specifically.
    I experience good times, bad times, the same as you. How are we different?
    I say again, no matter what religion it is, there is no difference between an unbeliever and a believer.
    There’s your proof.

  • RollingStone

    Here’s what I don’t get about the free will argument: If God wants us to be free to make our own choices, then why does he also want to control every aspect of our lives and do whatever he says without questioning it? That’s my impression of how the Biblical God supposedly runs the world.

  • javaman

    Hereigns,are you really such a badass that you’re not going to make it into heaven?
    I take it from your comment that you don’t think you are heaven material? what terrible behaviors do you engage in? and don”t you think you better start fixing this heaven rejected lifestyle now? So jesus died to save you/us from sin? I’am sorry what is that sin again that you/me committed? So, if you are not going to heaven you are not going to be with your friend jesus? If you are receiving no points for being good, then how does your friend jesus judge you? I disavow all gods ,including jesus, but I know that if I got this one all wrong ,and there is a jesus /heaven etc.I am such a kind, and caring person that I will be 1st in, And when I’am there I will teach your friend jesus and god a lesson on true compassion and how not to hurt humans. Oh, btw when i’am in heaven I’ll talk to my new best friend jesus about getting help for you badassness. (thanks for sharing and being part of this site. Even is we don’t agree on god/jesus I’am happy you try to reach out and try to communicate with us )

  • random guy

    Excellent post Ebonmuse. Ok now that thats out of the way, this whole commentary is bordering on the surreal to me.

    By any moderate definition of the term, Hereigns is delusional. You could write several books addressing the flaws in argument and the ungrounded assumptions hes made in just the few posts here. Yet half a dozen commenters are responding to him expecting some kind of reasonable discourse, just to see him use the “satan did it” play. He clearly seems to be aware the these arguments are not satisfactory, but persits in using them.

    I have only one question for him: What evidence has led you to believe that the mind survives the death of the body?

    Because weather or not there is a kingdom of heaven, angels, hell, Satan, God, or moral commandments from said God is completely irrelevant unless you can satisfactorily answer that question first. You don’t have to answer to me, I don’t really care what your particular belief is, just ask yourself weather or not you’ve thoroughly investigated that claim. Thorough investigation does not mean that a lot of people have told you stories about personal experience, it means actually looking for any real world mechanism by which your mind/soul is somehow unaffected by the death of your brain.

    I don’t want you to think that I hate you, I’m sure your a very nice person, and more than likely a decent human being. But the things that your saying are crazy, a socially acceptable form of crazy, but crazy none the less. I could list hundreds of contradictions within bible, thousands of logical problems with the consistency of your world view, and yet I feel that it would still completely escape your compartmentalized understanding of things.

    Despite everything I’ve put here, I don’t look down on you. Many of my friends share the same beliefs you do, a majority of the world shares similar beliefs with you. It is painfully obvious that people are not obligated to compare their beliefs to the real world. The vast majority of all beliefs, be they political, religious, or ethical are inherited from the authority figures we collect throughout life. It requires a great deal of effort to examine, challenge, and change those beliefs. To do it properly requires a great deal of dedication to pursuing truth, and the self analysis required can be destructive, depressing and somehow glorious all at once. I guess most people just have more important things to do.

  • LindaJoy

    Hereigns- It would be a good idea before you post a quote from the Bible that you look at the context in which it was written. In Deuteronomy 30:19, God was telling “his people” that if they didn’t follow all his laws and commandments; if they even looked sideways at another god, he would curse them and they would perish. They (the Jews) obviously didn’t listen because eventually God gave up on his constant punishments and sent Jesus down with a new message to scare “his people”- believe in my son or you’ll go to HELL.. They still didn’t listen, so God gave up on the Jews and concentrated on his new favorites- the Christians! He even upgraded the old animal sacrifices to a human sacrifice- nice and bloody too. This is the vision and the story that you have “fallen in love” with?? This is a god of LOVE? This a god who gave you free will, so that when you use it, he can play “Gotcha”! I still think that you are fighting an internal battle to let your inner freethinker out- that is the real reason you continue to post on this website….

  • OMGF

    hereigns,

    Good question but again it goes back to the “fall” of man. Adam was created to live without sin/evil. I realize how quickly I’ll get flamed for this but apart from God we can’t even begin to walk in the “Way”. In Christ we learn step-by-step, day-by-day how to love ourselves and others. I’m not saying I’m perfect, far from it…I still struggle everyday like everyone else.

    Well, if it is a good question, I would have preferred that you actually answer it. Noting that god (unfairly) punished Adam and all his descendants (as if evil is inheretable from one’s parents) does nothing to answer the question why we must desire evil in order to do good or love god.

    I get the Biblical representation of free will so it’s hard for me to see it from your perspective. I understand we are free moral agents who “freely” choose to love God or not.

    If we are “free” to love god or not, why does god make us inherently not want to love him? Does this really make us free?

  • Jenyfer

    The notion that Adam’s descendants can get punished for Adam’s sins is probably the sickest in the whole Bible. It’s blood libel, basically–sets the stage for all sorts of xenophobia and even genocide.

  • nfpendleton

    Christian theology has always taught that heaven is the home of god-obedient automata, and the “perfected” human is the one without freewill to speak of, who never experiences death, illness, sadness, doubt. If it’s good enough for the Ultimate Reward, then why isn’t it good enough for Earth and her ‘lings? Is that really what they propose: that your reward for a lifetime of fighting death, decay, despair, and all of Satan’s other minions while “finding” the messiah through all the noise, clutter, and almost complete lack of real evidence…is to become a robot for Jesus?

    Of course, heaven is also described as a 1st century bce gated community constructed with top tier materials and run on god magic. I’d rather just die, donate my body to science, and live on through my children and grandchildren–hopefully leaving them a world that’s less ignorant and violent than the one we inherited.

  • hereigns

    Mathew Wilder,

    “Truly, only God could be responsible, in the end, for this state of affairs.”

    I’m puzzeled, based on your prior postings I believed you to be an Atheist, are you not? Atheists do not believe in God or the devil for that matter. Please clarify your comment. I wholeheartedly agree and am by no means minimizing the horrific loss of life that happens day in and day across the globe. It is truly a sad the state this world finds itself in. I don’t blame God but rather MAN for most, if not all, of the horrible atrocities which occur in our towns. Here are some examples:

    1906 San Francisco earthquake: thousands of people died. Dr. T. Nakamura, sent by the Japanese government went to investigate the earthquake. His prognosis: “Dishonest mortar was responsible for nearly all the earthquake damage”. (Gaukroger 1995:22)

    1935 Quetta, Pakistan earthquake: where many again died. The reason similarly was the poor constructional quality of the buildings. Those buildings which survived all had good cement, so that their chimneys still remained intact (Gaukroger 1995:23)!

    1985 Mexico City earthquake: again culpability was put on second-rate workmanship and the skimping on construction materials.

    1985 Ethiopian famine was devastating, yet two years earlier relief agencies working in Ethiopia had warned the government that it was coming. Instead of alleviating the problem, the government spent $200 million on celebrating the independence of the communist takeover.

    source: http://debate.org.uk/topics/apolog/suffer.htm

    goyo,

    “The proof is that your life is no different than mine. There is the ultimate proof. If the christian life is real, you should be different than me. You should be immune from sickness, death, sadness, poverty…” “If you are not different, then why spend all the time proclaiming your love for a god that supposedly changes lives?”

    Based on your posting, our understanding of the Bible and it’s principles are quite different. The verses you quoted seem to be taken out of context. I have no desire to be sick, live in poverty, or be sad anymore than you or anyone else does on this earth. Jesus speaking to His disciples said, “In this life you WILL have many trials and tribulations, but rejoice for I have overcome the world.” In the last chapter in the Gospel of John Jesus gave a sad prophetic word regarding Peters later days. The Bible doesn’t say we won’t have problems but rather quite the opposite. So like you, I can’t rejoice about all the problems in this world but I do rejoice in my salvation, restoration in my marriage, broken relationships being healed and for all these and more I am very joyful.

    “Ask and it shall be given to you” is not a blank check for us to use for our will but to ask what is on God’s heart so that His will is done. To further elaborate on this point, Paul as you may already be aware, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament; did great exploits for God yet when you look at his life it was full of tension and turmoil and died at the hands of the Romans. If he’s not exempt from the things you mentioned I know I shouldn’t be either.

    RollingStone,

    “Here’s what I don’t get about the free will argument: If God wants us to be free to make our own choices, then why does he also want to control every aspect of our lives and do whatever he says without questioning it? That’s my impression of how the Biblical God supposedly runs the world.”

    I’m asking this question honestly; how does God control every aspect of your life? Like you, I question God at times. I don’t for one second pretend to understand everything He does either but I can say I’ve learned to trust Him. I found out that by prayerfully reading the Bible and applying it’s principles in my everyday life that His ways truly are better than mine.

    javaman,

    “Are you really such a badass that you’re not going to make it into heaven?”

    Your nothing if not colorful )…let me help you out about me, on my best days I KNOW I’m not heaven material! If ALL my good deeds were to be lined up and multiplied by a million they still wouldn’t get me into heaven! BUT that’s where grace comes in! I’m saved by faith through grace alone, not by my good deeds or “works”! That’s what the cross is all about! But thanks for putting in a good word for me )

    random guy,

    “By any moderate definition of the term, Hereigns is delusional. I have only one question for him: What evidence has led you to believe that the mind survives the death of the body?”

    Not trying to play word games with you but it’s not our mind that survives our physical bodies but rather our soul. Since I’ve never died the only evidence I have is the Bible.

    “…To do it properly requires a great deal of dedication to pursuing truth, and the self analysis required can be destructive, depressing and somehow glorious all at once. I guess most people just have more important things to do.”

    Seems like a common theme here…put down the Christian because he believes differently. I understand you don’t want to hear this but with comments like this one you build a strong case for God. This kind of rhetoric will only build walls between us. Is that your goal?

    LindaJoy,

    “…This is a god of LOVE? This a god who gave you free will, so that when you use it, he can play “Gotcha”! I still think that you are fighting an internal battle to let your inner freethinker out- that is the real reason you continue to post on this website….”

    Needless to say we are reading the same or atleast similar words with two completely different understandings. You say God is playing “gotcha” I say He’s playing “save ya” or better put, ‘let Me help you’. Thanks for the helpful tip about my “freethinker” ).

    OMGF,

    “…god (unfairly) punished Adam and all his descendants (as if evil is inheretable from one’s parents) does nothing to answer the question why we must desire evil in order to do good or love god.”

    How did God unfairly punish Adam? Following the story in Genesis it’s painfully clear that sin is/has been inherited with the “original” sin. The very first murder happens in the first generation of man, Cain kills Abel out of jealously.

    Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…

    “If we are “free” to love god or not, why does god make us inherently not want to love him? Does this really make us free?”

    I believe we have to go back to Adam for the answer on this one as well. When you think about it, God created Adam and they were to live together in paradise forever. But then he sinned and yet incredibly he still lived to the ripe old age of 930. Our deeds are evil and we do not want them exposed, first chapter in the Gospel of John. As I stated earlier, chosing to love God or to not, is still a choice, even if you don’t agree with its premise.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Hereigns,

    f ALL my good deeds were to be lined up and multiplied by a million they still wouldn’t get me into heaven! BUT that’s where grace comes in! I’m saved by faith through grace alone, not by my good deeds or “works”! That’s what the cross is all about!

    So you won’t go to heaven because you’re a good person, you’ll go there because you close your eyes and wish extra hard? Hardly seems like a valid reason to me, if I happened to be the gatekeeper at such a place. Kind of like saying “A football team can lose every game in the session, but if they just believe they’ll get into the superbowl, then they will!”

    Since I’ve never died the only evidence I have is the Bible.

    So you believe the bible is the word of god because the bible says it is? In that case, I am god and you should do what I say, and you can be sure I am god because I just told you I was. Also, remember the bible says not to test god, so don’t try to verify that I am by any independant means.

    I understand you don’t want to hear this but with comments like this one you build a strong case for God. This kind of rhetoric will only build walls between us. Is that your goal?

    Seriously? Making a stronger case for god somehow by making fun of your faith? Hell, works for me, since I am god and all, and you know it because I told you I was and the bible says you shouldn’t test me. I would like to thank randomguy for helping to prove me correct.

    You say God is playing “gotcha” I say He’s playing “save ya” or better put, ‘let Me help you’.

    Similar to the lifeguard who offers to save a kid who can’t swim right after he pushed him into the pool, if only the kid is willing to give up everything for the help.

    How did God unfairly punish Adam?

    well there’s the whole “adam not knowing right from wrong” thing, god placing the tree easily witin his reach without even putting up a fence, god creating adam’s natural curiousity perhaps, then punishing every person who came after adam and eve (who would be genetic identical twins, but hey, don’t test the bible) even though they had nothing to do with it and couldn’t have done anything about it, so god’s being unfair…

    Following the story in Genesis it’s painfully clear that sin is/has been inherited with the “original” sin.

    Oh right, nevermind; god (I mean me) must have punished adam justly because, well, the bible says he did. Checkmate!

    The very first murder happens in the first generation of man, Cain kills Abel out of jealously.

    And that has what to do with adam? Or how about why did god like Abel’s offering of blood better than cain’s of fruit? Or how about why people would offer anything to god anyway, since, you know, he created everything and it’s all his anyway, so there’s really no way to offer it to him?

    When you think about it, God created Adam and they were to live together in paradise forever. But then he sinned and yet incredibly he still lived to the ripe old age of 930.

    Actually, that’s the kind of answer I would expect when I don’t think about it. Have you seen a 90 year old, and what shit they look like, physically and mentally? Imagine being 930 years old, with no one else around on the planet. Sounds pretty nasty to me.

    As I stated earlier, chosing to love God or to not, is still a choice, even if you don’t agree with its premise.

    I’m so flattered that you love me so much (remember, I am god, and you know because I told you so, and don’t test me) to look past the fact that I’m just a figment of your imagination. Now, it’s part of my divine plan that you send me all your money; I need it for god-stuff.

  • Adrian

    Hereigns,

    What a curious selection and interpretation of natural disasters.

    The selection is curious because it left out the single largest natural disaster of the last century, the Influenza outbreaks. In 1918-9, over a period of only about 6 months, more people were killed by Influenza than would die in WW I and WW II put together (and that includes Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Estimates are 50-100 million people dead across the globe, with infection rates over 50%. Most died from secondary infections, but many died directly from the Influenza as their lungs slowly filled with fluids and they drowned but not after coughs so strong that people often broke their own ribs. It was so bad that many of the ships of sailors the US sent to war arrived in England with almost everyone dead.

    There have been two other major outbreaks since then, and each killed around a million people.

    I can’t wait to hear how we could have prevented this through better construction, or better cement.

    Your interpretation is even more curious. You’re blaming the victims, do you understand that? An earthquake happens and you blame the building contractors for the deaths. How mad is that? If you refuse to assign any responsibility to God for these events, how can you possibly credit God for any positive event?

  • LindaJoy

    Hereigns- the god of the Old Testament was not into “saving” people. He was a direct “punish you on the spot” kind of guy when he was mad, and a “I’ll help you conquer your enemies and give you some good land when you are good” kind of guy. Did you ever hear Moses say that God’s rewards to his people included salvation in heaven? The Jews did not believe in heaven, therefore, the god they worshipped didn’t offer that. You really need to read your Bible thoroughly. The god of the Christians was into “I’ll save ya”, so if you are going to bolster your arguements on salvation, as least quote from the right section of the book!

  • OMGF

    hereigns,

    How did God unfairly punish Adam?

    I can’t help but notice that you latched onto that one word and again avoided answering the question. Why must we desire evil in order to do good or love god? I’m starting to think that you really don’t want to answer for some reason…

    I believe we have to go back to Adam for the answer on this one as well. When you think about it, God created Adam and they were to live together in paradise forever. But then he sinned and yet incredibly he still lived to the ripe old age of 930. Our deeds are evil and we do not want them exposed, first chapter in the Gospel of John. As I stated earlier, chosing to love God or to not, is still a choice, even if you don’t agree with its premise.

    Again, this does nothing to answer the original question. If we are “free” to love god or not, why does god make us inherently inclined not to do so? Further, does this really mean we are free? Why are you avoiding these questions, especially since you’ve said that at least one of them was a good question?

  • Jim Baerg

    Hereirns said:

    but it’s not our mind that survives our physical bodies but rather our soul

    What is the difference?

    If neither my body nor my mind is what goes to heaven, how can that be said to be ‘me’ in any sense & why should I care?

  • hereigns

    Mrnaglfar,

    So you won’t go to heaven because you’re a good person, you’ll go there because you close your eyes and wish extra hard?

    If being a good person got someone into heaven what would the criteria be and who would set the bar? My going to heaven has nothing to do with my righteousness but rather His.

    Similar to the lifeguard who offers to save a kid who can’t swim right after he pushed him into the pool, if only the kid is willing to give up everything for the help.

    If God did work in the way which you have described I wouldn’t follow Him either. But our understanding of God is obviously quite different. Which brings us full circle and back to God giving mankind and Lucifer free will.

    If I held a gun to my wifes head everyday and said, ‘love me or I’ll kill you’, chances are VERY good I would receive the opposite reaction; at the very least she’d probably hate me. But if I show her I love her by my actions the chances of her willingly love me improve dramatically. Alas, we’ve come to great divide. Seems to me, you see God with a gun in His hand threatening you and I see Him in His love; because He demonstrated His love by giving His own Son to be killed for my sins. Without this single act Gods Word would be mere words and I wouldn’t give 2 seconds to reading the Bible. But His actions speak much louder than any words that have reached my ears.

    And that has what to do with adam? Or how about why did god like Abel’s offering of blood better than cain’s of fruit?

    Everything! It shows the fall of man in the second generation of man! Sin being passed down from generation to generation.

    The answer to your second question is found in Genesis 4:3-7

    And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

    Check out verse 4, it explicitly states that Abel also brought the FIRSTBORN of his flock, which represented the best of the flock. God doesn’t want the left overs He desires the best because He has given us His best! On the other hand Cain merely brought what was at hand, what was easy. BUT God tries to help Cain overcome his greediness by telling him, paraphrasing now, “If you give Me the FIRSTFRUITS of your labor will it not also be equally accepted but if you don’t SIN will overtake you”. You know the rest of the story.

    Everyone else, I’ll not be able to respond again until Monday, at the earliest. Until then, I hope everyone has a good weekend!

  • Mrnaglfar

    Hereigns,

    If being a good person got someone into heaven what would the criteria be and who would set the bar?

    You answered the first question in the beginning of the sentence; the criteria would be actting in a fashion that helped to minimize suffering and/or maximized happiness; not stealing, lying, hurting, or killing people strike me as a good starting point. As for who would set the bar, it would be that god you believe in but I don’t. The difference between how I would view the situation and how you do given your faith is that my critera would involve actting in that above mentioned fashion, and not in whether people subscribe to the faith or not.
    That all boils down to the simple question: What is moral about believing in a god/religion/book for which there is no evidence? Why is that trait so good that it allows anyone to get into heaven?

    If I held a gun to my wifes head everyday and said, ‘love me or I’ll kill you’, chances are VERY good I would receive the opposite reaction; at the very least she’d probably hate me. But if I show her I love her by my actions the chances of her willingly love me improve dramatically. Alas, we’ve come to great divide. Seems to me, you see God with a gun in His hand threatening you and I see Him in His love; because He demonstrated His love by giving His own Son to be killed for my sins. Without this single act Gods Word would be mere words and I wouldn’t give 2 seconds to reading the Bible. But His actions speak much louder than any words that have reached my ears.

    One word question: Hell?

    As for the whole Jesus thing, you talk about it like you know it happened, only you don’t know it happened. You think it did because the bible says it did, and because the bible says it’s the word of god it must be true, right? Same with my example before; you should likewise believe I’m god because I told I was. That’s all the ‘evidence’ you have. So you wouldn’t believe in any of bible if it wasn’t for what the bible says happened, even if the bible can be wrong about so many other things (like the sun being the center of our local system, the stars not being pinpoints on the sky, the earth being round, bats no being birds, the earth not being 6000 years old, christians not being able to drink poison and live, unicorns not existing, etc)? That’s stunning circular selective reasoning on your part.

    Whenever you want to acknowledge I’m god because I said I was, I’ll except your arguments.

    Everything! It shows the fall of man in the second generation of man! Sin being passed down from generation to generation.

    Right, so Cain was not Adam, and because Cain killed someone in the story that makes Adam the bad person for actting contrary to what god wanted before he knew what good and evil actually was. Couldn’t he just kill Adam and Eve and make new people who weren’t sinful, fence of the damn tree and be done with it instead of punishing every single person for the rest of time over something they had nothing to do with?

    You still never answered the question about how one can offer something to god. Matter of fact, you didn’t really answer any of the questions so much as you restated your same point in different words.

  • OMGF

    hereigns,
    The heritability of sin is just plain ludicrous. If one of your parents committed murder before you were born, would it be just or moral to punish you for it now?

  • goyo

    hereigns: As to your response to me about god answering prayer: You’re right, I guess those scriptures are occuring in Dutch’s parallel universe. Thank you for admitting that god does NOT answer prayer.

  • LindaJoy

    hereigns- where is the character named Lucifer discussed in the Bible? Which chapter and verse talks about God giving Lucifer free will? (This will count as your Monday morning lesson!)

  • Thumpalumpacus

    And Hereigns –

    I cannot help but notice that you didn’t (wouldn’t? couldn’t?) respond to my question. Permit me to repeat it: given the fact that your religion demands the worship of god at threat of eternal damnation and hellfire, how can you rationally argue that this is a free choice?

    Of course, my inclination is to state that you cannot answer this question, at least in a manner which will both show internal consistency and preserve your faith. The fact is that any extant hell or other punishment for the refusal to believe would implicitly make any belief in god compelled, and this is exactly the opposite of free will. Your refusal to recognize and admit this simple chain of reasoning seriously undermines what credibility you may have had, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this last sentiment.

    At any rate, I look forward to your response to this question.

    On another point, you state that heaven cannot be gained by works but only by faith. This turns the idea of morality on its head, no? You truly believe that god is more worried about what you believe than whether you’ve done right by your fellow humans? Is it more important to god that you kowtow to him than that you not harm his other children? What does this suggest to you about his nature? And isn’t eternal damnation in this context imprisonment for thoughtcrime? I find it hard to believe that a perfect god would be so egotistical.

  • hereigns

    OMGF,

    The heritability of sin is just plain ludicrous. If one of your parents committed murder before you were born, would it be just or moral to punish you for it now?

    I’m not sure if we’re still on topic anymore but…we inherit our nature, which is to sin against God, from Adam (Rom. 5:12-21). The proof-is-in-the-pudding so to speak, all of us have broken 1 or more of the 10 commandments at some point in our life.

    Our sin with Adam: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

    goyo,

    As to your response to me about god answering prayer: You’re right, I guess those scriptures are occuring in Dutch’s parallel universe. Thank you for admitting that god does NOT answer prayer.

    My response in no way shape or form admits that God does NOT answer prayer, I KNOW that He does! He’s healed me in many ways! He’s physically healed my wife by restoring her gall bladder. Because it was failing her doctor was going to remove it from her body but God answered our prayer and He healed her! I could go on and on about how God has answered so many prayers in those around me!

    LindaJoy,

    Where is the character named Lucifer discussed in the Bible? Which chapter and verse talks about God giving Lucifer free will? (This will count as your Monday morning lesson!)

    I will refuse to dispute over semantics with you, Genesis 3 should suffice in this discussion.

    “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:9)

    Thumpalumpacus,

    I cannot help but notice that you didn’t (wouldn’t? couldn’t?) respond to my question. Permit me to repeat it: given the fact that your religion demands the worship of god at threat of eternal damnation and hellfire, how can you rationally argue that this is a free choice?

    I truly am not ignoring your question(s), forgive me if I’ve came across that way, just been a little busy lately. You’re right, you and I have been around this block once before and to be perfectly honest I’m not certain any answer I can give you will be acceptable to you, atleast not at this time.

    Say I’m driving my car at 70mph and there is a collision ahead of me, logic says if I don’t manuever my car one way or the other on the road I may very well be killed or at the very least get hurt when my car gets tangled in the mess. But if I react/decide to move the car to the left or right enough to miss the vehicles involved in the accident I will have greatly improved my chances of walking away from the incident without a scratch.

    Now I didn’t like the fact that the accident happened and I certainly didn’t like the fact that I found myself in the situation where I could be injured or possibly killed by making the wrong decision. But my liking or disliking this incident doesn’t change the fact that I still had to made to make a choice.

    The same is true when it comes to God and His righteousness. God does offer us two choices, heaven or hell.

    …seriously undermines what credibility you may have had, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this last sentiment

    I’m afraid you give me too much credit )

    On another point, you state that heaven cannot be gained by works but only by faith. This turns the idea of morality on its head, no? You truly believe that god is more worried about what you believe than whether you’ve done right by your fellow humans?

    Works alone will not save anyone just as faith without works will not save anyone. With faith comes works, faith without works is dead. When we come to God He changes our character. He removes our own selfish desires in lieu of His. One example of this is the woman caught in the adulterous relationship. The men who caught her in the act want to stone her and bring her to Jesus. Once Jesus convicts the men of their own sin He simply turns to the woman and says, “go and sin no more”.

    …knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galations 2:16)

    and

    But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18)

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    And to return to the original topic of the post:

    When we come to God He changes our character. He removes our own selfish desires in lieu of His.

    And if that is the state God desires human beings to be in, then why wouldn’t he create them that way in the first place? In the Christian worldview, God gave humans a set of strong desires to do the opposite of what he actually wants them to do, and then punishes them with an eternity of torture for acting in accordance with the nature he gave them. This theology is completely bereft of reason or logic. My original post argued that, if God wants humans to act a certain way, he could have given them desires to act that way without taking away their free will. Your recitation of canned theological talking points has yet to address this foundational argument.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Hereigns,

    There is so much wrong with what you’re contending, so I’ll do it piece by piece.

    we inherit our nature, which is to sin against God, from Adam (Rom. 5:12-21). The proof-is-in-the-pudding so to speak, all of us have broken 1 or more of the 10 commandments at some point in our life.

    Simple solution, as I’ve mentioned before: God kills adam and eve (two who people; compared to his record in the bible, that’s not even a bat of an eyelash). Once they’re dead, he fences off the tree, or better yet, removes the tree from the garden, and makes two new perfect people who won’t pass sin onto everyone ever. Once he got around that whole “genetically, it’s impossible to bred an entire human population from two people” thing, we’d be home free. Perfect people, no sin, no nothing. Are you suggesting god’s plan is better than that one?

    I KNOW that He does! He’s healed me in many ways! He’s physically healed my wife by restoring her gall bladder.

    Yeah, it’s not like people can heal themselves! That’s never happened! Not ever! Doctors don’t have a better chance of healing people than prayer, everyone knows that Also, this prayer working thing has been confirmed by pray studies so we can be sure it works! Everyone who gets prayed for shows significance increase in their condition, and clearly, no one who was ever being prayed for died, or got cancer, or took months/years to heal! Not to mention all those people who have lost limbs regrown suddenly through prayer!

    …right?

    “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:9)

    Yeah, that totally talks about god giving lucifer free will. I see your point now.

    Wait, no I don’t, and no it doesn’t.

    Say I’m driving my car at 70mph and there is a collision ahead of me, logic says if I don’t manuever my car one way or the other on the road I may very well be killed or at the very least get hurt when my car gets tangled in the mess. But if I react/decide to move the car to the left or right enough to miss the vehicles involved in the accident I will have greatly improved my chances of walking away from the incident without a scratch.

    Now I didn’t like the fact that the accident happened and I certainly didn’t like the fact that I found myself in the situation where I could be injured or possibly killed by making the wrong decision. But my liking or disliking this incident doesn’t change the fact that I still had to made to make a choice.

    The same is true when it comes to God and His righteousness. God does offer us two choices, heaven or hell.

    Better analogy; You’re a child who can’t swim and the life guard pushes you into a pool you didn’t ask to be in, knowing you can’t swim. As you thrash around blindly, the lifeguard offers to save you, if you just submit to his will for the rest of your life. He doesn’t like the fact that you’re in the pool, and neither do you, but by offering to save you if you submit to his will, he’s showing his grace in it’s wonderful bounty. The freewill thing comes in here, because you can now choose to drown or to be saved.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking; That analogy falls short! It’s clear that we know the lifeguard exists, whereas god goes through great lengths to avoid revealing himself in ways that don’t involve grilled cheese sanwiches. Also, we know lifeguards are there to help the kids regardless of who they are, and if they saw one drowning would jump in immedately to help! They wouldn’t ask the kids such a silly question. Not to mention, the lifeguards didn’t create the pool with the intention of this in mind, whereas god clearly created hell with this idea.

    I’d add more, but I’m saving it for my book about why lifeguards show stronger moral character than god.

    With faith comes works, faith without works is dead

    That’s funny, because it directly contradicts what you said above; In case you forgot, you said this:

    If ALL my good deeds were to be lined up and multiplied by a million they still wouldn’t get me into heaven! BUT that’s where grace comes in! I’m saved by faith through grace alone, not by my good deeds or “works”! That’s what the cross is all about!

    I’ve bolded that part where the massive contradiction occurs. Feel free to correct yourself again.

    Once Jesus convicts the men of their own sin He simply turns to the woman and says, “go and sin no more”.

    Wow, that’s easy. I guess they forgot the rest of the story where the woman goes to hell for breaking the 10 commandments. Or the other parts of the bible that say she should have been stoned to death (which means the men were wicked for trying to follow god’s word. If only a person without sin should be able to cast the first stone, shouldn’t Jesus have done it himself?)

    Now, as always, let the mental gymnastics and dance routine begin.

  • Mrnaglfar

    One more thing I forgot to mention, though I’ve mentioned it before.

    Person A is an atheist with a long list of good deeds.
    Person B is a theist with that exact same list of deeds.

    Only one will make it into heaven, the other will be tortured forever in hell according to you, se please tell me what is so morally good about believing in something with has yet to be proven to even exist, and if does exist, is going through great lengths to avoid revealing itself to us?

  • Reed Ulvestad

    hereigns:

    If I held a gun to my wifes head everyday and said, ‘love me or I’ll kill you’, chances are VERY good I would receive the opposite reaction; at the very least she’d probably hate me. But if I show her I love her by my actions the chances of her willingly love me improve dramatically. Alas, we’ve come to great divide. Seems to me, you see God with a gun in His hand threatening you and I see Him in His love; because He demonstrated His love by giving His own Son to be killed for my sins.

    So to extend your analogy to include the “sacrifice” god made. You threaten your wife with a gun and demand that she love you, but then say, “because I love you so much, and I know your love can never measure up to my standards, I’ll shoot my own little toe off to let you off the hook. Now you don’t have to love me, but you need to thank me and try to love me… or I’ll kill you.”

  • LindaJoy

    I’m sorry hereigns, but your head is so full of illogical, contradictory stuff, and you cherry pick the Bible so much, it gives one a headache. So many posters on this site have demonstrated that to you and yet you keep on dishing it out. It must be very painful to live in this inner world full of arguments based upon mythologies and imaginary events and books like Revelations. Thomas Jefferson was right- Revelations is just the delusional ravings of some man with bad dreams. The more you dig in with these arguments, the more you put yourself in a hole. While it is brave of you in some ways to argue with a group of people who disagree with you, it is kind of naive of you to think you will convince a group of people who have probably already been where you are and managed to think themselves out of that box.

  • Adam

    “because I love you so much, and I know your love can never measure up to my standards, I’ll shoot my own little toe off to let you off the hook. Now you don’t have to love me, but you need to thank me and try to love me… or I’ll kill you.”

    I’m laughing out loud! That was funny!

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Hereigns –

    Thank you for your response. I had a nice reply all cooking up in my head until I read Mrnaglfar’s riposte; he covered most of my salient points with a verve and wit I can rarely muster. Then again, I’m on my lunch break, and he’s probably been sittin’ on his duff all week.

    At any rate, a couple of points he missed:

    1) Your comparison of the creation of Heaven and Hell with the occurence or avoidance of an accident is very inapt. You, the believer, are the one arguing for an omnipotent, purposeful god. Hell is no accident. To get back to Ebon’s point, god made us flawed, knowing we would fail, and then sends us to hell for being who he made us. That is no god worthy of worship.
    2) You write, “When we come to God He changes our character. He removes our own selfish desires in lieu of His.” How is it he can do this after we’ve developed into adults, but not while he himself is busy creating us?

    I’m sorry, but I left my suspension of disbelief at the theater, a rightful place in my book, and so I find your arguments wholly unconvincing.

  • OMGF

    Heriegns,

    I’m not sure if we’re still on topic anymore but…we inherit our nature, which is to sin against God, from Adam (Rom. 5:12-21). The proof-is-in-the-pudding so to speak, all of us have broken 1 or more of the 10 commandments at some point in our life.

    Let’s look past the fact that god made their sin inheritable as punishment and just agree that the sins of the parents can and should be visited upon the children according to what you just said. According to this, there should be no moral outrage at locking children up if their parents commit murder.

    Say I’m driving my car at 70mph and there is a collision ahead of me…

    Ah, but god caused the accident, didn’t he? Maybe a better analogy would be that if you pray, god will take the wheel and help you survive, but if you don’t, then god will hold the wheel fast and cause you to die…horribly.

    One example of this is the woman caught in the adulterous relationship. The men who caught her in the act want to stone her and bring her to Jesus. Once Jesus convicts the men of their own sin He simply turns to the woman and says, “go and sin no more”.

    Oh, that’s a bad example, considering that it was not actually part of the Bible when it first came out. That story was obviously added (according to textual scholars). So, it never happened (if anything in the Bible actually happened). I suggest you pick up Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” for a better discussion.

  • Adam

    Ebon,

    “First, free will does not require infinite choice, where every imaginable course of action is a realistic possibility. Even if the laws of nature and logic restrict our options to a limited set, we can still choose freely from among the members of that set. Free will is not a total absence of constraint, but rather the ability to select among the options that are available.”

    Sounds good to me.

    “Free will also does not require a mental blank slate, where every possible course of action seems equally attractive and compelling. On the contrary, a free person can have dispositions, desires and character traits that incline them to choose a certain way in a given situation. This must be so, for a person who had no desires or inclinations would never act at all. Having a certain set of unchosen desires is a precondition for having a will in the first place. Just as with the previous point, we are still free because we can still choose among the options open to us.”

    Sounds great!

    “What makes a person unfree is not acting in accordance with their desires, but being compelled to act against their desires.”

    This statement makes no sense. Are all of our desires good? Do they all lead to happiness, which is man’s goal? No. Being compelled to act against one’s desires is therefore a good thing in some situations (when they lead us to the bad). Therefore this statement is illogical.

    “Finally, free will does not require randomness. Granted, a free person can choose to inject a kind of “radical choice” into their decision-making, permitting their decisions to be controlled by some external source of random input – whether it be a coin-flip or quantum noise in the synapses of the brain. But a random component is not required for an act to be free. Even a decision that involves no quality of randomness, one that is entirely determined by the facts and reasons available to the decision-maker, can be a free choice.”

    I don’t know what you’re saying here.

    “After all, wouldn’t the freest possible agent be one who is perfectly responsive to reason, who is perfectly aware of all the facts relevant to any decision, and who decides on that basis? Such a person would always make the decisions that were best for them without ever needing to choose randomly, and surely that is the purest and most desirable form of free will.”

    This sounds fantastic! If only man did not sin he would always choose the best thing for himself, resulting happiness everyday for his whole life.

    “Anything less would be inferior, because being unaware of facts relevant to our choices diminishes, not increases, our freedom; it causes us to overlook possibilities we would otherwise have considered.”

    Absolutely! This is why man, if he does not believe in God diminish his freedom.

    “Now see where these conclusions lead. Free will does not require unlimited choice, absence of desire, or randomness.”

    True

    “A person whose choices are constrained by physical law and their own desires, and who chooses in accordance with those desires and with the relevant facts, still can be and is free in a way that is genuine, significant, and worth wanting. (In fact, each of us is such a person.)”

    Yes, you’re right.

    “Given all this, why couldn’t an omnipotent deity have done things differently?
    He could have, but who are we to question God’s ways? If he exists, then he created us. Who are we to question the God who created us? We are nothing, He is everything. Our intelligence in questioning, come from Him. One should not question Him and his ways, but figure out why He did what he did.
    Such a being could have created a world where evil was a literal impossibility, where physical law is constituted by God’s will and it is not possible to act in contravention to that will.”

    But He didn’t. It is too bad, life would be easier without evil.

    “Or God could have created a world in which evil acts were physically possible, but in which human psychology would be different than it actually is, such that we only desire to choose the good.”

    But he didn’t. Man chooses evil sometimes, therefore sins. If God made us to only choose good we would be “unfree” to choose the bad. If God did not make us to desire only the good, then there must be desires for the bad. This contradicts your “unfree” statement at the beginning: What makes a person unfree is not acting in accordance with their desires, but being compelled to act against their desires.

    If man has some desires that are bad, then it is reasonable that he should not do them; if he does do them then there should be a consequence. Therefore without consequence we do not know what is good. Hence Hell.

    “To truly rule out evil in this world, our decisions would also have to be non-random, so that chance would not occasionally intervene and cause us to do evil despite our desires. In either of these worlds, human beings would truly be morally perfect.”

    Non-random, Meaning God chooses for us?

    “None of these options, as we’ve seen, would turn humans into puppets or automata. We would still be truly and legitimately free. But in these worlds, there would be no sin or wrongdoing at all, and thus no evil, no suffering, no need to create an afterlife of torture or send earthly catastrophes as punishment. Why wouldn’t God, if he exists, have created a world like this? It would have been superior to our own in every way.”

    Again, who are we to question God? If he exists he is infinite. We are trying to reason God’s ways in our finite mind. He is limitless, who are we to question Him?

    “The force of this argument should be undeniable. In fact, in worldviews like the Christian one, God conferred on human beings a positive attraction to sin – a set of psychological inclinations that frequently bias our decisions toward disobedience.”

    No, you’re wrong. Christians do not believe that God gave man a positive attraction to sin. It is a result of the Fall of man, not a set of psychological inclinations. Yours is a false statement.

    The term your getting at is concupiscence

    Christian teaching is as follows: CCC 405 Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

    As you see, man’s nature was weakened and he does incline to evil, but it was not something God conferred on human beings.

    “If that isn’t seen as taking away our free will, why couldn’t he have done the opposite and instead given human beings an equally strong set of inclinations toward obedience?”

    Because your previous statement is false, this is false

    “In short, instead of original sin, why not original virtue? If God hates sin so much, why would he create a world that would all but ensure the maximum amount of it?”

    This is a great question. The Great Why Question.
    In both of your essay’s One More Burning Bush The argument from divine hiddenness: Where is God? and in All Possible Worlds The problem of evil. You have come up with some awesome questions about life and suffering. Why is there suffering, evil, and where is God is all this mess?

    Allow me to sum up Catholic Teaching on this.

    First, let’s define our terms so you know where I am coming from.

    What is Suffering? Suffering is the state that occurs as the result of the experience of evil. Evil is the lack of something good.

    Man suffers on account of evil, which is a certain lack, limitation or distortion of good. We could say that man suffers because of a good in which he does not share, from which in a certain sense he is cut off, or of which he has deprived himself. He particularly suffers when he “ought” – in the normal order of things – to have a share in this good, and does not have it” (Salvifici doloris, 7, Pope John Paul II).

    Since evil is defined with reference to the good, there can be as many evils as there are goods. How has man experienced evil? You have done a wonderful job developing this in All Possible Worlds The problem of evil so I think you know…plus your alive and like every person experiences evil and suffering.

    The question we all have then, is why? Let me develop this a little differently then you have in One More Burning Bush The argument from divine hiddenness: Where is God? and in All Possible Worlds The problem of evil.

    Catholics teach that suffering is actually the occasion for a dialogue with God; “God expects the question and listens to it” (SD, 10). Putting the question about the meaning of suffering to God is a way of being faithful to His will, since He made us to do so. Suffering is not an end in itself, nor is it a consequence of sin that falls outside of or beyond God’s Providence. He allows it because He intends to bring good out of it.

    God does not respond to our question about the meaning of suffering with a philosophical, abstract, merely informational or explanatory answer, but with the call to follow Him (SD, 26). He also states that it takes a long time to enter fully into God’s answer. The CCC echoes this: To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question (CCC, 309).

    Faith must precede an understanding of suffering! Most often people respond to suffering with the question, “Why?” It is probably a mistake to assume that this is primarily an intellectual question. It is, rather, “Why me?” and this indicates that the question conveys a sense of injustice. Only a profound awareness of the divinely revealed meaning of life and of human history in terms of sin and redemption provides the context for grasping the meaning of suffering (CCC, 309), and this requires a fair degree of spiritual maturity. Again, no quick or simple answer suffices.

    Is it God’s will?

    People often ask whether the suffering they or a loved one experiences is God’s will. This shows that they grasp, at least intuitively, that only God can answer the question (SD, 9), and that there appears to be an incompatibility between the profession of faith in a good, wise, loving and all-powerful God and the reality of evil and suffering (CCC, 164). In a nutshell, the problem may be stated in this way: God is all-good and can only will what is good. He is also omnipotent, so that one ought to expect that His will be fulfilled in all matters. The experience of evil seems to negate this, indicating as it does that God’s will is not always realized.

    Catholic theological tradition distinguishes between God’s antecedent will and His consequent will in order to preserve the compatibility-in-mystery of two fundamental truths: (1) God Who is love can will and cause only what is good; He cannot will and cause evil; (2) Nothing can happen without God’s knowing it and in some way allowing or permitting (consenting to) it.

    God only allows evil because (1) He wills the good of created freedom, which is the condition of beatitude or communion with Him; (2) He is able and intends to draw good from it (CCC, 311-12). Thus, we are invited to look beyond present suffering and reformulate the question as: “What is the good that God wants to draw out of this situation?” Even better: “What is the good that God wants to draw out of me?” Ultimately, God is more concerned about how we respond to suffering than He is about the suffering itself, and what He has revealed contains more about our response than it does about an intellectual answer to the question “Why?”

    For the saints, responding improperly to suffering, falling short of the Christian ideal in this regard is the source of a worse kind of suffering. We should focus, then, on what we know, based on divine revelation.

    Ebon, Divine Revelation presupposes Faith. Therefore when you talk about Christianity in your articles you are not seeing the whole picture because you have not learned it in Faith.

    If we desire to enter into God’s wisdom about suffering, it is helpful to ask: Why did Jesus not begin His public ministry earlier? Why did He wait until He was thirty? During this time, how many lepers died in Israel? And how many fell into despair because there was no answer or relief to their suffering? He had the power – where is the wisdom and love in waiting?

    This line of questioning can be prolonged: Why did God not send His Son sooner to remedy the damage of sin? Why were there so many generations of Hebrew slaves in Egypt?

    The answer is summed up in the expression, God’s pedagogy. This is His wisdom in dealing with men. If God had sent the Holy Spirit five minutes after Adam and Eve sinned, would they have recognized the gift? If Jesus would have came to save man, right after the fall, would man have had the capacity to love God as he should?

    Why didn’t God just save man right away, not give him the opportunity to Sin? We covered this already, but one does not know love without the absence of love.

    If God could foresee all the suffering, how could He go ahead with creation?

    This is a common version of the so-called problem of evil. It is nothing more than a projection onto God of what we think is the wisest and most loving thing to do if suffering is foreseen. We must remind ourselves that the first thing God foresaw was His own death on the Cross as His wise and loving response to sin – and this did not deter Him from proceeding with creation. This might be likened to a woman who, knowing the risks to her own health and life, out of love brings new life into the world. Foreknowledge of His own suffering did not deter God from loving by creating life and freedom.

    Here again the image of God that must be uncovered is that of God as removed and unconcerned with what happens to man. As a God who would allow suffering because he is irrational.

    Is all suffering bad? When we break a leg, is the pain that results bad, or does it tell the body it needs to be fixed?

    Don’t assume on God’s wisdom.

    “A rational deity would not demand moral perfection unless he created beings capable of supplying it. To say otherwise contradicts a basic point of morality: that you cannot blame someone for not doing what they are not capable of doing.”

    This statement is false. God does not demand moral perfection. He demands that we love Him and seek his will and repent when we fail; go to confession and then try again. Therefore his does not blame us for not doing what we are not capable of; he knows we are not perfect so he instituted the sacrament of confession.

    “This is why, for example, we don’t hold mentally ill people criminally responsible. We understand that their capacity to tell right from wrong is impaired, and that it wouldn’t be just to treat them as we treat people who possess that capacity.”

    That’s right

    “But God, if we believe the Christian logic, rejects this reasoning – he created human beings imperfect and then punishes them harshly for their imperfection.”

    This is a false statement, for reasons stated above.

    “If, as the Bible says, God is “not willing that any should perish”, then I am unable to see why he would not have created a world where that will could be realized.”

    First of all, you’re assuming on God’s will again,
    Second, I am guessing you are quoting John 6:39 where is says: “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”

    But you need to read onto the next line, where it goes on to say that, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    There is a condition for eternal life, the Son. We must look towards him. It is not God’s will that man should perish; it is man who chooses Hell.

  • LindaJoy

    Well Adam, nice bunch of overly complicated gobbly gook from the same group of people who covered up the pervasive institutional evil of having sex with children. The proposed “saint” John Paul II looked the other way while all this was going on. Fat lot of good your CCC lessons did for the church hierarchy. Have you ever really studied the history of your church? While pious bishops wrote the kind of stuff you just quoted, other bishops were outside carving up Hypatia and dragging her pagan body through the streets. The Catholic Church as the authority on morality and the nature of man? I don’t think so. Maybe an authority on EVIL…. Oh wait! I forgot! You can just go to confession at the end of of the week and all is forgiven!God surely is great!

  • Wedge

    Adam,

    I see nothing in the warped, evil story of Christianity to make me think that the corrupt, destructive Catholic Church has any connection at all with any god, much less a benign one.

    So to your ‘who are we to question god’ defense of Christian morality, I can only say–I see no gods here. Only power hungry, abusive church leaders. Who am I to question what they say? A decent human being.

    Beats the god in the Christian fairy tale any day of the week.

  • Reed Ulvestad

    But Linda, those aren’t the Real Catholics(TM)! ;)

    It’s amazing the rhetorical hoops theologians are willing to jump through to make the insane contradictions seem almost plausible to believers who are willing to squint hard enough. Especially when problems like “why evil exists,” aren’t problems for naturalistic philosophies.

    Natural disasters aren’t evil without an omnimax god, they are just physics. Evil perpetrated by humans (or other animals) often arises from natural instincts that aid survival, but are difficult to keep in check at an appropriate level and are easy to twist and misuse when our imperfect abstract thought capabilities get a hold of them.

    I may not be exactly right on that, but it is an answer to “Why does evil exist?” that I find at least as satisfying as Adam’s and is encapsulated in far fewer words.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Adam,

    The answer is summed up in the expression, God’s pedagogy. This is His wisdom in dealing with men. If God had sent the Holy Spirit five minutes after Adam and Eve sinned, would they have recognized the gift? If Jesus would have came to save man, right after the fall, would man have had the capacity to love God as he should?

    Same way if you saw your daughter get hit by a car, you wouldn’t rush over immedately and help her. After all, if you helped her right away, how could she ever appreciate being helped? Besides, getting hit by a car would teach her a valuable lesson about looking both ways before she crosses the street next time.
    What you’re saying is similiar to that, except on a much larger, and much more painful scale.

    Faith must precede an understanding of suffering! Most often people respond to suffering with the question, “Why?” It is probably a mistake to assume that this is primarily an intellectual question. It is, rather, “Why me?” and this indicates that the question conveys a sense of injustice. Only a profound awareness of the divinely revealed meaning of life and of human history in terms of sin and redemption provides the context for grasping the meaning of suffering (CCC, 309), and this requires a fair degree of spiritual maturity. Again, no quick or simple answer suffices.

    Really? Faith has to procede an understanding of suffering? What about when you said:

    Is all suffering bad? When we break a leg, is the pain that results bad, or does it tell the body it needs to be fixed?

    Nothing in there about god or faith. When you feel pain it’s because your body is not happy with it’s current state of internal/external affairs. Bam! Just explained suffering without invoking faith. Not only that, but it explains why bad things happen to good people too, thus answering the “why me” question; namely because nature isn’t concerned with your particular suffering, and isn’t about bend over and accomidate you because you were really nice to that guy last week. Also, a lot of things that cause suffering (viruses, parasites, bacteria) are in fact looking out for their best interests, and your recovery means there death. All that without once invoking faith, sin, or your religion; easy enough.

    God is all-good and can only will what is good. He is also omnipotent, so that one ought to expect that His will be fulfilled in all matters. The experience of evil seems to negate this, indicating as it does that God’s will is not always realized.

    Here’s an interesting question for you; Does god desire good because it’s good, or is it good because god desires it? For instance, suppose god actually existed, and came down to earth tomorrow and told everyone “rape and murder is now ok, and I encourage it”. Would you now go out and start raping and murdering people? Answer at your leisure.

    Ebon, Divine Revelation presupposes Faith. Therefore when you talk about Christianity in your articles you are not seeing the whole picture because you have not learned it in Faith.

    i.e. ” You haven’t learned christianity by unconditionally accepting it without asking for evidence and ignoring evidence contrary to what it teaches, as well it’s failures, so naturally you see what you think are failures. Well, not failures, because when the bible says something that’s factually incorrect, it’s only because you’re not distorting and bending what it actually says. And isn’t it weird how the bible always seems to agree with my view points? It’s kind of like how all the music I like is good, but the music I don’t like is bad; somehow I always pick out the best music; same with the bible. The way I interpret it always seems to be right, and other people’s always seem to be wrong; I wonder why I’m so good at that”.

    In essence, that’s what you said there sounded like to me.

    If man has some desires that are bad, then it is reasonable that he should not do them; if he does do them then there should be a consequence. Therefore without consequence we do not know what is good. Hence Hell.

    If man has some desires (which were created by god and allowed to exist by god not killing adam and eve after they ate from the tree, thus removing sin, and starting over, maybe having the hindsight to fence off the stupid tree next time) that are bad (bad because they involve sin, which was also created by god, even though god can’t do evil because he’s all good, which just means all the times in the bible he kills people it’s actually good killing), then it should be reasonable that he doesn’t do them (because god says “do as I say, not as I do”, ala the killing example above, or when he forcibly impregnates the virgin mary; you think she could have said no?).
    Therefore, without consequences we do not know what is good, Hence Hell (Hence a play that involves suffering and screaming forever, where there is no hope for escape or bettering oneself. Not only that, but this place only gets revealed after our death, when any hope of bettering ourselves in this world is totally gone; however, before that the consequences need to be invisible to all these adulters, homosexuals, atheists, murders, rapists (provided the last two weren’t done in god’s name), theives, members of different faiths, anyone working on the sabbath, or anyone who breaks any other single commandment without repenting for the nature god gave you. Same way that if you don’t torture children, whether they’re your own or not, for actting in a way contrary to what you feel god’s will is, they’ll never know what good is.)

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    This statement makes no sense. Are all of our desires good? Do they all lead to happiness, which is man’s goal? No. Being compelled to act against one’s desires is therefore a good thing in some situations (when they lead us to the bad). Therefore this statement is illogical.

    No, what Ebon said made perfect sense. He said that you are only free if your choices are not compelled. Your statement, however, contradicts what you say later:

    But he didn’t. Man chooses evil sometimes, therefore sins. If God made us to only choose good we would be “unfree” to choose the bad. If God did not make us to desire only the good, then there must be desires for the bad. This contradicts your “unfree” statement at the beginning: What makes a person unfree is not acting in accordance with their desires, but being compelled to act against their desires.

    If man has some desires that are bad, then it is reasonable that he should not do them; if he does do them then there should be a consequence. Therefore without consequence we do not know what is good. Hence Hell.

    Your argument seems to be based on the idea that god gives us free will, meaning we can choose to do evil because we can’t be free unless we can do evil. Further, you wish to state that god is good, yet you admit that being compelled to act against one’s desires and do good is a good thing. This is contradictory.

    Further, it should be pointed out that we don’t truly have free will, or else we’d be able to choose the good at all times. Yet, we all need saving, do we not? This is because we all choose evil at some point according to Xianity. If we are all pre-destined to choose evil at some point, then how can you claim that we truly have free will? This also negates your argument that man does not have a positive attraction to sin.

    This is why man, if he does not believe in God diminish his freedom.

    Huh? Do our beliefs shape reality? Does god exist because you believe that he does? The fact that you need to “believe” instead of know that god exists is Ebon’s whole entire point. If god exists and does not demonstrate this existence to all humans, then we are making choices without the benefit of all the information, and god is judging us without giving us crucial info.

    Catholic theological tradition distinguishes between God’s antecedent will and His consequent will in order to preserve the compatibility-in-mystery of two fundamental truths: (1) God Who is love can will and cause only what is good; He cannot will and cause evil

    So, was killing almost the whole entire planet in a global flood a good thing? Turns out it was rather impotent considering god did not get rid of evil, so he killed all those people and animals for what? As a lesson?

    We must remind ourselves that the first thing God foresaw was His own death on the Cross as His wise and loving response to sin – and this did not deter Him from proceeding with creation.

    How was Jesus dying on the cross wise and loving?

    God does not demand moral perfection.

    Then we do we all need saving?

    He could have, but who are we to question God’s ways?

    And who are you to say that god’s ways are good? If you can’t question god’s ways, then how do you make the determination that those ways have positive value?

    Catholics teach that suffering is actually the occasion for a dialogue with God

    So, god is the little boy in grade school that pulls little Suzie’s hair because he likes her and doesn’t know how else to get her attention? What a ridiculous god you’ve described.

  • Adam

    How do you guys do that quote thing? in your posts?

  • OMGF

    Adam,
    If you look at the line directly above the box where you type your comments, one of the options is blockquote. Use the less than and greater than around “blockquote” to start your quote. Use the less than and greater than around “/blockquote” to end your quote.

  • Adam

    just testing

  • Adam

    testaadfadfafadf

    sweet, thanks :)

  • Adam

    LindaJoy,

    I’m sorry if you or anyone you know has been affected by the priest scandel in the Church. They are discusting and very painful events, and as a Catholic I am saddened and embarrassed by them. I very sorry that those things happened and I hope they never happen again.

    Reed Ulvestad,

    I’m not sure what you mean by Real Catholics. I am only trying to relay what the Church teaches. I am by no means an expert, but will continue to try my best.

    OMGF,

    As always, you bring up excellent questions. I will try to continue to bring up questions we can dialogue about.

    All,

    With my last post I have bitten off more then I can handle. Each one of you brought up great points but I do not have the time to answers all the objections nor am I qualified. I have to look a lot of this stuff up.

    So, with your permission I would like to start over.

    I want to continue our discussion about free-will, goodness, omnipotence of God, evil, and happiness, but I have to do it in a much smaller scale, each post being much shorter. Otherwise I will be bombarded with too many questions, and I am not smart enought to answer them all, nor do I have the time. I am a new dad, and I am not getting enough sleep :)

    My hope is that after we are done with these 5 definitions we will all have a better understanding of evil and of our points of view.

    So, to make this the best use of all of our times lets focus on each definition one at a time.

    What is Evil? Please define; Then I will try and define, and once we agree on the definition we will move on.

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    sweet, thanks :)

    No worries.

    I’m sorry if you or anyone you know has been affected by the priest scandel in the Church. They are discusting and very painful events, and as a Catholic I am saddened and embarrassed by them. I very sorry that those things happened and I hope they never happen again.

    Should those priests go to heaven if they confess? Are they more worthy than an atheist that goes her whole life without molesting little boys, but doesn’t confess to jaywalking?

    I am a new dad, and I am not getting enough sleep :)

    Congrats.

    What is Evil? Please define; Then I will try and define, and once we agree on the definition we will move on.

    Evil is rather hard to define. Certainly, we can say that evil is doing harm to others, but only because we have a moral sense. I wouldn’t consider a lion attacking another animal for food to be evil.

    I also consider natural disasters to be evil if there is an omni-max god.

  • Adam

    OMGF,

    Evil is rather hard to define. Certainly, we can say that evil is doing harm to others, but only because we have a moral sense. I wouldn’t consider a lion attacking another animal for food to be evil.

    Do you have problems with this?

    First let me state the problem:

    The problem can be stated very simply: If God is so good, why is His world so bad? If an all-good, all-wise, all-loving, all-just, and all-powerful God is running the show, why does He seem to be doing such a miserable job of it? Why do bad things happen to good people?

    First off, there is a tendency to see evil as a being, an entity, it is not. It is not a thing, like a tornado (which is a type of evil, but not evil it’s self) or the Devil. Things are not evil. A sword is not evil. Even a sword that chops off your head is not evil in its being, in fact you need a “good” stroke to chop of a head  No, evil is not a thing but a wrong choice, or the damage done by a wrong choice. Evil is no more a positive thing than blindness is. But it is just as real. It is not a thing, but it is not an illusion either.

    If evil was a thing, the problem of evil would be unsolvable, for if God made it He would not be all-good and loving, and if He did not make it, then He would not be all-powerful. But alas, evil is not a thing.

    There are a number of different types of evils, for the sake of argument let us focus on just two, moral and physical evil.

    What is moral evil? Moral evil is the lack of something good. It is the corruption of the order that should reign between the free and voluntary acts of the rational creature (man) and his reason. Christians call this Sin. Examples are rape, murder, theft, ect…

    What is physical evil? Physical evil affects our bodies. It is the corruption of the natural perfections of things. There are two types of physical evil: (1) evil to the body, such as death (2) natural evil, such as volcanoes

    Should those priests go to heaven if they confess? Are they more worthy than an atheist that goes her whole life without molesting little boys, but doesn’t confess to jaywalking?

    First of all I am not the judge of these men’s souls. But if they are contrite in their confession and repent, the Church teaches that their sins are forgiven…do they make it to heaven, I have no idea, God is the judge of that. As far as the woman, again, I have no idea, God is the Judge. There are different types of Sin, Mortal sin and venial sin. The priest’s committed mortal sin, and must go to confession and truely be sorry. the woman’s jaywalking is a venial sin, where the soul is not endanger of hell

    Mortal sin there has to been 1. full knowledge (you know what you are doing is bad), 2. grave matter (example: murder, rape etc) 3. full consent (you want to do the sin, you’re not forced to do it)

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    The problem can be stated very simply: If God is so good, why is His world so bad? If an all-good, all-wise, all-loving, all-just, and all-powerful God is running the show, why does He seem to be doing such a miserable job of it? Why do bad things happen to good people?

    That is the problem of evil, and it can’t be waved away by saying that evil is not a thing in itself.

    If evil was a thing, the problem of evil would be unsolvable, for if God made it He would not be all-good and loving, and if He did not make it, then He would not be all-powerful. But alas, evil is not a thing.

    But, alas, as you admit evil is real, and god created all that is in this universe, including the underlying system that would allow for evil to be real. god can not escape responsibility on this one. Also, I would not say that evil is necessarily a wrong choice or the damage caused by that wrong choice.

    What is moral evil? Moral evil is the lack of something good. It is the corruption of the order that should reign between the free and voluntary acts of the rational creature (man) and his reason. Christians call this Sin. Examples are rape, murder, theft, ect…

    I have a problem with this definition. If I don’t give money to a homeless guy on the street, have I committed evil? It would be a good act to give him money, so not giving him money constitutes the lack of something good, hence it is evil. Further, Xians don’t call this sin. Sin is disobedience to god, not committing evil. When god commanded his people to commit genocide was it a sin to do so, or would it have been a sin to say no to god?

    What is physical evil? Physical evil affects our bodies. It is the corruption of the natural perfections of things. There are two types of physical evil: (1) evil to the body, such as death (2) natural evil, such as volcanoes

    And which one of these can an omni-max god deny responsibility for? Neither.

    First of all I am not the judge of these men’s souls. But if they are contrite in their confession and repent, the Church teaches that their sins are forgiven…do they make it to heaven, I have no idea, God is the judge of that.

    Well, according to your church, as long as they are actually repentent, they will go to heaven. The atheist will not be so fortunate, however, as you yourself noted when you said that the condition for staying out of hell is the son. If it is god’s will that no man should perish, then why does god send us all to hell unless we do specific things and hold specific beliefs? The system that has been set up is a system where we are all headed to hell, unless we follow some arcane rules that we can’t even be sure are correct. Maybe god thinks the methodists have it right, or the hindus or any number of the vast numbers of other religions out there. But, believe in the wrong thing and you’ll be in hell for all eternity. Does this sound like a god that desires that no man should be in hell? If he truly wanted that, then why make hell at all?

  • Adam

    OMGF,

    You’re asking great questions, but they are questions that would take a long time an energy to answer, and I will try to give you the Church’s teachings on everyone of them, but for right now, lets stick to the definition of evil, agree apon it, and then move on…the rest of the questions we will get to.

    Evil is not a thing or a being in and of itself, it is not the Devil, is it?

  • Adam

    Also, I see we have to define Good. What is goodness? I am not talking about the act of kindness.

    The church say’s this about goodness:

    Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. i, 42) that, “inasmuch as we exist we are good.”

    we all desire goodness.

  • OMGF

    Adam,
    Of course I don’t believe in the devil, that’s your department, remember?

  • Adam

    So evil is not a thing, a being in a of itself correct?

    What about goodness?

  • OMGF

    Are you going somewhere with this?

  • Adam

    Yes, I’m going towards the teachings of the Catholic Church. I am not trying to trick you into anything. I am just trying to define our terms so we each know what we are talking about. that is all

  • OMGF

    Than make your argument already. This back and forth of one line posts where you ask the same questions over and over is getting a bit tedious.

  • Adam

    It is impossible to make an argument if we’re not talking about the same thing.

    what is goodness?

    Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. i, 42) that, “inasmuch as we exist we are good.”

    we all desire goodness.

    Therefore goodness is what we all desire.

    do you agree?

    What is evil? it is not a thing, it is the opposite of goodness, or the absence of goodness.

    knowing this new information, do you agree with this:

    What is moral evil? Moral evil is the lack of something good. It is the corruption of the order that should reign between the free and voluntary acts of the rational creature (man) and his reason. Christians call this Sin. Examples are rape, murder, theft, ect…

    and this:

    What is physical evil? Physical evil affects our bodies. It is the corruption of the natural perfections of things. There are two types of physical evil: (1) evil to the body, such as death (2) natural evil, such as volcanoes

  • OMGF

    I don’t agree with your definition of goodness or with your attempt to erase the idea of evil by calling it an absence of goodness. This, of course, is leading to the Xian apologetic argument that god doesn’t create evil, because evil is just an absence of his goodness. Of course, this still doesn’t get god off the hook and is contradictory to his quality of omni-presence.

    I still have the same objections to your definitions as before and I don’t see you as having made any argument to change my mind on anything.

  • Adam

    Please tell me your definitions of these questions.

    By no means am I trying to get God off the hook about evil. Evil is a real thing, I’m trying to talk about it with you.

    What are you objections, then what are your definitions. I am not trying to trick you into anything.

  • Adam

    OMGF,

    What is the definition of God’s omnipresence?

  • OMGF

    I’ve already provided you with a defintion of evil. We could use the dictionary too if you’d like. I don’t think it should be this hard to decide on a definition of evil, especially when there is already an agreed upon defintion handy (dictionary and all that). My objections were already stated to your comment as well at 11:52am this very day. Have you forgotten already?

    Omnipresence is the state of being everywhere at once. This leaves no room for god to claim that evil is where he is not present, because that would violate his omnipresence. Any evil that he does not directly cause (he directly causes natural evil as well as other evils as described in the Bible) he still bears responsibility for in that he’s there but does nothing to stop it, or from the standpoint that he set up a system to have so much evil (with malice afore-thought) and proceeded with his creation anyway, knowing that this evil would result of it. This shoots multiple holes in the idea that god is omni-benevolent, omni-present, or perfect. If you wish to rely on the free will defence, then you have to show how free will is not contradictory with an omni-max god, and then you have to show why free will should allow us to commit evil or how some higher level good comes out of it. This is a tall order indeed, because the very idea of free will is contradictory to a omni-max god. Even if you jettison the omni-max part, you have yet to show why we need to want to do evil or even have the capacity for evil or you have to show that a higher good comes from it, which is impossible if just one soul goes to hell, since hell is infinite suffering and infinite evil.

  • spaceman spif

    So much of this discussion reminds me of a discussion I had long ago with another believer. Years ago, while browsing the internet, I came across an interesting blog. The author was discussing how he came to know “God”.

    He went on, in great detail, to discuss how he weighed out all the world’s major religions. Judaism, Shiite Islam, Sunni Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, etc. He listed all the pros and cons, as he saw it, for each religion. In the end, to him Islam (can’t remember which type) made the most sense to him, and so he embraced that religion.

    He was very fair in his musings on each religion, and showed no partiality all throughout. I told the believer “This man had a heart that desired above all else to know God. And after years of devoting his life to finding the right path, he chose Islam. Will he be condemned to Hell for that? Should God see that this man desired a relationship with Him more than anything else? Or will he wake up in front of the judgement seat one day to find God telling him “Sorry! You chose the wrong one!” and send him to Hell?”

    The Christian told me that yes, that man was going to Hell. And I thought how insane that when someone has such a strong desire to find God, and devotes so much of their life and FREE WILL to finding God, that God will eventually punish that man not because he caused great harm or was cruel and vicious or hated God, but only because that man used the FREE WILL and the brain that God gave him and didn’t come up with the correct answer.

  • OMGF

    And that, SS, is a good example of the evil of god and hell.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Adam,

    I admit, you stumped me with this one:

    There are two types of physical evil: (1) evil to the body, such as death (created by god) (2) natural evil, such as volcanoes

    First off, there is a tendency to see evil as a being, an entity, it is not. It is not a thing, like a tornado (which is a type of evil, but not evil it’s self) or the Devil.

    So things like tornadoes and volcanoes(which god created according to you, right?) are evil, but not evil? Doesn’t that fuck up the god not creating evil part? What about the part of the bible that explicitly says “god created evil”? How in the world are you dancing around that one in your head?

  • OMGF

    I think he’s saying that tornados are not in themselves evil, they just are. That god sends them down to kill people is the evil part of it.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Then intent describes evil? Sounds like a reasonable start to me.

  • Adam

    So we agree on evil, Good.

    Now, what is goodness? Is man good in being? Is that what he desires?

  • Adam

    The Bible explicitly says “god created evil”?

    What passage is that? I could not find it?

  • Adam

    If I don’t give money to a homeless guy on the street, have I committed evil? It would be a good act to give him money, so not giving him money constitutes the lack of something good, hence it is evil.

    That is not the goodness we are talking about.

  • spaceman spif

    Adam,

    One way to look at it is that God created the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil before Adam and Eve ever committed the first sin. Evil already existed before man had any knowledge of it, and before man ever committed any sinful act. Where else could it have come from?

  • spaceman spif

    Adam,

    An even better place to start would be this link here…I did a little searching and what do you know? I ended up at this site!

    http://www.daylightatheism.org/2007/01/little-known-bible-verses-v-god-creates-evil.html

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet
    The Bible explicitly says “god created evil”?

    What passage is that? I could not find it?

    See this post.

    As for me, I’d define goodness in terms of happiness, fulfilment, etc.

  • spaceman spif

    Lynet,

    Ha! Beat you by mere seconds!!

    ;)

  • Adam

    SS and Ebon,

    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

    —Isaiah 45:7

    That looks great, but don’t forget these passages:

    2 Kings 6:33
    Behold, this evil is of the Lord.

    Isaiah 45:7
    I … create evil.

    Amos 3:6
    Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

    Are we in agreement that God divinely inspired the bible? If not, why do you care what is in it?

    The Church teaches that both Scripture and Tradition is the faith.

    Besides, these passage are being Cherry picked out of the bible, read the whole chapter and verse when you quote scripture.

    I am no biblical scholar, but lets look at Is 45:7. I am doing this off the cuff.

    It uses Antonyms (opposites) in it. God created the light, opposite of light is darkness. He makes peace and creates (the opposite of peace is..): woe, affliction, etc. In the translation Ebon used in his post it says evil. But this does not mean the evil of Original Sin. I think we can all see that.

    Ebon is 100% wrong when he says:

    The translators of many modern Bible editions, aware of the unsettling implications this verse holds for their faith, have attempted to soften the blow by translating it in a more palatable way.

    I have never in my whole life heard of a bible scholar or theologian run away from a bible passage.

    Or maybe I should assume that Ebon has read the passage in ancient Hebrew and Greek and translated it himself.

    I have not translated in the ancient hebrew or greek, but I also do not rely on the bible alone for my faith. I rely on Tradition as well, and do not cherry pick bible verses.

    But again, what should it matter. You do not believe in the Bible. Either admit that the Book is divinely inspired (then we can start to talk)or stop quoting single verses of the bible, passing it off as truth to try and prove christianity false. You can not have it both ways.

  • spaceman spif

    Adam,

    You’re the one who asked where the Bible said God created evil. All we did was provide you the verse. (And btw, you need to specify the Catholic church in your discussions, since “tradition” holds no place among the Protestant faith)

    I have never in my whole life heard of a bible scholar or theologian run away from a bible passage.

    More like you have never heard a scholar ADMIT they ran away from a passage. But if you look for yourself, you can find how some verses have indeed been “softened” over time.

    Either admit that the Book is divinely inspired (then we can start to talk)or stop quoting single verses of the bible, passing it off as truth to try and prove christianity false. You can not have it both ways.

    That’s the point. You claim it is God’s perfect word. So we bring up verses that contradict everything you tell us about God. If God is love, then why this verse? If God is perfect, then why that verse?

    And along those lines, if you were to meet a Muslim who tried to convince you that the Quran was Allah’s perfect word, can you honestly tell me you wouldn’t do the very same thing to them?

    …stop quoting single verses of the bible, passing it off as truth…

    I just really wanted to highlight that comment right there, and give it time to register.

  • http://nesoo.wordpress.com/ Nes

    Adam:

    You did read the very next paragraph after that bit you quoted in which Ebon explains what the Hebrew word used in that passage is and how it was used in several other passages, yes?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    If experience is any guide, he hasn’t. On at least two past occasions, he’s posted long tracts of Catholic dogma without reading the initial posts.

  • Adam

    Nes and Ebon,

    I did read the post, that is why I added a few more bible passages.

    Nes,

    I saw where Ebon tried to explain what the Hebrew word “ra” means and it is silly that you, or anyone would consider him an expert in Biblical studies.

    This is why I tried to make the point that he did not read the whole passage in ancient Greek and Hebrew.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Adam,

    I saw where Ebon tried to explain what the Hebrew word “ra” means and it is silly that you, or anyone would consider him an expert in Biblical studies.

    This is why I tried to make the point that he did not read the whole passage in ancient Greek and Hebrew.

    I’ll assume you’re no expert on the subject either (not that being an expert in biblical studies is much to really be proud of in my mind, but hey, I’m easy). Not to mention I doubt you have read the original biblical translations either. I don’t think either has any bearing on you avoiding the point that ‘disaster’ doesn’t fit there, yet evil does.

    Are we in agreement that God divinely inspired the bible? If not, why do you care what is in it?

    It’s called entertaining the idea. Not only can we show you from outside how logically untenable the position of faith is, but we can even say “assuming for the sake of argument…” and show were the bible is wrong, insane, or just plain contradictory (read most parts) from within.

    It uses Antonyms (opposites) in it. God created the light, opposite of light is darkness. He makes peace and creates (the opposite of peace is..): woe, affliction, etc. In the translation Ebon used in his post it says evil. But this does not mean the evil of Original Sin. I think we can all see that.

    Really? I can’t. How do you propose sin got there without god allowing it and/or creating it? What was so special about the tree (that god made that way) that ment when one eats from it everyone forever has to go to hell unless they believe in Jesus (who didn’t exist, according to the bible, for thosands of years after the fact, meaning all those people went to hell in the mean time)? Out of everything that man was allowed to eat in the garden how was this one tree special regarding sin and how could it be any other way without god making it so, according to the bible?
    Obviously, we’re not biblical experts, and I think that that would be a good thing; it means we may have invested the time doing more productive things.

    But again, what should it matter. You do not believe in the Bible. Either admit that the Book is divinely inspired (then we can start to talk)or stop quoting single verses of the bible, passing it off as truth to try and prove christianity false. You can not have it both ways.

    Why, do you suppose, god had to ‘divinely inspire’ many different authors to write conflicting accounts of what happened, that somehow managed to avoid being recorded at the time (like a man walking into a jewish temple during passover and starting a riot), and indeed waiting for hundreds of years after the fact to do so?

    More importantly, if the bible is divinely inspired, why is it not at least internally consistent, let alone externally consistent.

    In short, prove the bible is divinely inspired. Any evidence would be appreicated.

    Also, various Jesus cults are big into saying “you need to read that in context for it to make sense the way I see it”, yet if someone does just that and comes up with a different explaination, you insist that they haven’t read it the right way (i.e the way you think it should be read). Doesn’t that even strike you as just a little odd?

    Behold, this evil is of the Lord.

    In context: 33 While he was still talking to them, the messenger came down to him. And the king said, “This disaster/evil is from the LORD. Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?”

    This disaster/evil referring to a faminie, cannibalism, and god not helping the isrealities; I think that can be translated as “evil” just fine.

    Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

    God is supposed to be everywhere, right?
    God is supposed to have created people with their nature, right?
    God is supposed to be able to do/stop/make whatever he wants happen, right?

    If a crime is committed, then god is someone who could help but didn’t and an accomplice in planning the crime. By extension, it seems when man does evil, so does god (since he created man the way he was).

    But even giving you those two passages, even if disaster COULD fit in that translation, disaster still doesn’t fit in the other places, yet evil does. Try and dance around it all you want, you’ll need to confront that passage for what it says or block it out.

  • OMGF

    Adam’s main problem is the problem that most theists have, he’s already a priori picked his conclusion (god is good) and so he shoe-horns all facts to fit around it. He’ll of course say the opposite of us, that we’ve decided a priori that god is bad, but that would be far from the truth. So, Adam, let me tell you why. Most of us grew up in the Xian tradition and believed in god’s goodness. We don’t now, becausee we’ve been swayed by the plain evidence that if the Bible is true, then god is a monster. How else does one describe an omni-max being that can think of no better way to teach humanity a lesson than to wipe out most of it, for just one example?

    Either admit that the Book is divinely inspired (then we can start to talk)or stop quoting single verses of the bible, passing it off as truth to try and prove christianity false. You can not have it both ways.

    Thank you for the choice. We can either say god exists and inspired the Bible, or we can shut the hell up? Let me shatter your false dichotomy by explaining that we do neither. As others have pointed out, we are perfectly capable of arguing from the standpoint of a god that inspired the Bible and showing how ludicrous that claim is, all the while there’s no necessity for us to believe that god inspired the Bible or that god even exists. We can also take the road of a Bible that is man made and still point out problematic verses. There’s no reason why we can’t have it both ways and other ways as well.

    It uses Antonyms (opposites) in it. God created the light, opposite of light is darkness. He makes peace and creates (the opposite of peace is..): woe, affliction, etc. In the translation Ebon used in his post it says evil. But this does not mean the evil of Original Sin. I think we can all see that.

    It uses antonyms to show that god is the creator of all, including evil. This is not an explanation for why god does not create evil, it’s a non-answer. Further, this has no bearing on original sin. Even if god is not responsible for that one (which I have no idea how he can escape responsibility for it) he is still responsible for other evil, as told in the Bible. If you believe the Bible is god’s word, then he’s admitting it right there.

    Besides, these passage are being Cherry picked out of the bible, read the whole chapter and verse when you quote scripture.

    Sigh. Yeah, every time we see something problematic, it’s because we didn’t read it enough. And, we’ll continue to read it wrong until we come to the conclusion that you’ve come to I suppose? How do you know your interpretations are correct? Are you divine? Holy? Infallible? Your own theology claims that humans are flawed, yet you don’t feel that you can be flawed in your interpretation? Considering how many interpretations are out there, the chances are that you are wrong in your interpretation. So, why should we take your word for it? What evidence do you present that shows your interpretation to be better than ours?

  • Adam

    OMGF and Mrnaglfar,

    Here is a summery of the Catholic notion of how the sciptures were written and how they should be interpreted, also the what tradition means. I will try my best to begin to answer some of your questions:

    Sacred Tradition is God’s Revelation regarding faith and morals which were not written down by the Apostles in Scripture, rather passed on orally through teachings. In 2 Thess 2:15 St. Peter commands them to keep to the traditions he has taught them; In 2 Thess 3:6 St. Peter shuns those who are not keeping to the traditions; 1 Cor 11:2 St. Peter says, hold fast to the traditions I have handed on to you.

    Thus Sacred Tradition has two purposes: 1) it functions as the key to unlocking the Holy Scriptures; without it error would persist in interpretation. For example, before Luther asserted sola scriptura in 1517 and the ensuing protestant reformation, Sacred Tradition was the standard defining authority on the Holy Scriptures. Without this Tradition the Protestant church has since split into over 20,000 different denominations; 2) it contains truths not explicitly in the Bible. St. John’s gospel ends with, “but there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were all written, I suppose that even the world itself would be unable to contain all the books that would be written” (21:25).

    An example of a teaching not explicitly in the Bible that sacred tradition has always held is the Churches teachings on abortion: 1) the Bible forbids innocent blood; “Thou shall not kill” (Ex 20:13). If there is an agreement that fetuses in the womb are “persons” then this commandment should be enough to dispel the notion that abortion is not in the Bible; 2) prenatal life is fully human, and precious to God (Ps. 139:13-16); therefore God does not want His children killed; 3) respect for the unborn (Ex 21:22-25); 4) laws of Justice and Mercy for the unprotected (Ex 23:7, Prov. 6:16-17).

    This is just a sample of the passages in the Bible that contain teachings against abortion. Although there are those who would say that these passages mean nothing, or should be interpreted differently, these persons’ main problem must ultimately be about Tradition and the Protestants who eradicated it the 1500’s. But, as shown, God has always intended both Tradition and Scripture to be the means for passing on the faith. Thus it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the Church and its 2,000 years of teachings must be who they say they are. God’s has entrusted the Church to take care of the sacred deposit of faith. In 2,000 years their teachings have never wavered. The Didache, written in the first half of the second century says this: “God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes” (CCC, 2271). The Church has always been against abortion. As Dei Verbum 10 affirms: “sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the teachings authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others.”

    More on the Bible

    After reason reveals to man God’s existence, the next greatest difficulty is figuring out if, when, and where God has spoken. It is not necessary for God to talk directly to us because that is not how He works, if it were, we would all be having divine conversations with Him. On the contrary God speaks to man through intercessors. For example, Catholic Christians would say that God spoke to the prophets and Apostles of old, and the mystics today. In Catholic Tradition, these are the people whom God has entrusted His Divinely Revealed teachings. However, how is man supposed to know who God has spoken too, and who He has not? The first clue is in the teachings passed down by the intercessors. These teachings must be obvious for man to recognize, otherwise it would be impossible for man to know who is telling the truth and who is not. If this were not the case, reason recognizes that any person with a hidden agenda or an honestly misdirected person could lead people away from the Truth. This is observable in the diverse and ever increasing religious beliefs and sects seen throughout the world today.

    So how can man know who is telling the Truth? He must look at the intercessors. To teach about a Divine Being, one must have divine credentials. Without divine credentials there can no longer be trust in the words spoken. These credentials are called motives of credibility. Motives of credibility are supernatural signs that prove God’s intentions.

    The most unique characteristic of the Catholic Church is her claim to be started by Jesus, who claimed to be God, who started a Universal Church for all men. No other religion in the world makes this claim. Therefore, if one should happen to disagree, one would do well to look at the motives of credibility and prove them disingenuous.

    There are three principle motives of credibility for Catholicism: 1) prophecies 2) miracles 3) the universal spread and continuity of the Church. The Church is the most important miracle of them all, after Christ’s resurrection. The Church is a visible sign for every generation to see, its tradition goes back to Christ himself, through the line of St. Peter. If the Church was not a divine institution, it lasting for 2,000 years would be an impossibility. In fact, history shows us what happens to religious bodies that do not base doctrine on Divine Revelation, they divided and disappear. This fact is seen in Protestantism. There are now over 20,000 different denominations and sects seen across the globe, each divided by doctrine. This has not happened with Catholicism because it is divinely inspired. One final note: before the expansion of the Church, the Apostles and their successors worked many miracles including curing illnesses, and the resurrection of the dead. Today these types of miracles are not as needed because all can see the Church, which these Apostles started using miracles and the teachings of Christ.

    Thus, when I say that God did not create evil, I am just telling you what the Church has always taught.

    Finally, the Garden of Eden. The Original Sin of Adam was not the sin of eating the apple. His sin was not in the action of eating the apple. Adam’s sin was in the diobedience towards God. The Apple was just the tool God used. Adam’s sin was his decision to follow his own will, and not God’s. Thus the tree in and of itself was fine, it was like any normal tree. The only difference was that God did not want Adam to eat of it. When Adam did, the decision to do so was man’s Original Sin. (so the Church teaches)

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    This thread is overdue to be closed down, but here goes:

    …a teaching not explicitly in the Bible that sacred tradition has always held is the Churches teachings on abortion…

    Reading Adam’s statements here, anyone could be forgiven for getting the impression that the Catholic church has always believed that the fetus was a person from the moment of conception. The truth is quite different. In fact, that didn’t become the official Catholic view until Pope Pius IX declared it so – in 1869.

    Before then, Catholic views on abortion were far more complex. Both Augustine and Thomas Aquinas believed that a fetus became a person only at the moment of ensoulment, which they believed took place sometime around the end of the first trimester. Before that point, they held that the fetus wasn’t sufficiently well-formed to contain a soul, and thus its destruction was not murder. This “delayed hominization” view was confirmed by the Council of Vienne in 1312, and has never been officially repudiated. Pope Sixtus V did declare all abortions to be homicide in 1588, but his successor, Pope Gregory XIV, reversed that prohibition just three years later.

    In contrast to what Adam imagines, the Catholic church’s views have not been historically consistent about this matter. Rather, they’ve been all over the map. Its total opposition to abortion, far from a longstanding tradition, is actually a recent development.

    See here, here and here for further information and references.

    prenatal life is fully human, and precious to God (Ps. 139:13-16); therefore God does not want His children killed; 3) respect for the unborn (Ex 21:22-25); 4) laws of Justice and Mercy for the unprotected (Ex 23:7, Prov. 6:16-17).

    Here’s a biblical example of God’s “respect” and “mercy” for the unborn:

    “Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”

    —Hosea 13:16

    This supposedly pro-life deity seems to have remarkably few qualms about violently slaughtering unborn children as punishment for the crimes of their mothers.

    There’s also a biblical story in which a pregnant woman is ordered to be executed, with no thought given for the life of the child within her (Genesis 38:24). Pregnant women’s children also are not counted as separate people in censuses like the one taken in Numbers 3.

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    But, as shown, God has always intended both Tradition and Scripture to be the means for passing on the faith.

    As shown? You mean “as asserted.” You haven’t shown anything. You haven’t shown that god exists, nor what this god wants or intends.

    Thus it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the Church and its 2,000 years of teachings must be who they say they are.

    How did you get this? There are older religions out there, so it can’t be due to the length of time.

    In 2,000 years their teachings have never wavered.

    Ebon has already obliterated your claim in regards to abortion, but this is false in other areas as well. Purgatory, the virgin birth of Mary, the position of the Earth in the universe, the flatness or roundness of Earth, evolution, etc. The church changes their position all the time, and only an Orwellian understanding of their position could lead you to say otherwise.

    It is not necessary for God to talk directly to us because that is not how He works, if it were, we would all be having divine conversations with Him. On the contrary God speaks to man through intercessors.

    Or maybe that’s what the intercessors want others to think so that they can command others in the name of god? This has been the traditional way of controlling others for long before Jesus.

    However, how is man supposed to know who God has spoken too, and who He has not? The first clue is in the teachings passed down by the intercessors. These teachings must be obvious for man to recognize, otherwise it would be impossible for man to know who is telling the truth and who is not. If this were not the case, reason recognizes that any person with a hidden agenda or an honestly misdirected person could lead people away from the Truth. This is observable in the diverse and ever increasing religious beliefs and sects seen throughout the world today.

    Due to all the sects and other religions in the world and the fact that some people have no religion, I’d say that your point above is disproved. No teachings are “obvious for man to recognize” therefore no teachings come from god, else there would not be so much division. I know that you wish to claim that the obvious teachings are the ones you follow, but you simply can’t know that’s true and that other teachings are false. You’re hoisted by your own petard here.

    So how can man know who is telling the Truth? He must look at the intercessors. To teach about a Divine Being, one must have divine credentials. Without divine credentials there can no longer be trust in the words spoken. These credentials are called motives of credibility. Motives of credibility are supernatural signs that prove God’s intentions.

    Every religion has its own miracles that people have attested to.

    The most unique characteristic of the Catholic Church is her claim to be started by Jesus, who claimed to be God, who started a Universal Church for all men.

    Ah no, Paul started the church.

    No other religion in the world makes this claim.

    Which claims are you talking about, and why would unique claims make a religion true?

    There are three principle motives of credibility for Catholicism: 1) prophecies 2) miracles 3) the universal spread and continuity of the Church.

    Prophecies? Those don’t hold up. Miracles? Those don’t hold up. The church? It’s still around, although it has splintered, but so what? Other religions are older and they’re still around.

    If the Church was not a divine institution, it lasting for 2,000 years would be an impossibility.

    Wrong again, because other religions still exist that formed long before Xianity. Longevity does not prove a religion is true.

    In fact, history shows us what happens to religious bodies that do not base doctrine on Divine Revelation, they divided and disappear. This fact is seen in Protestantism.

    Are you serious? Protestantism is a sect of Catholicism (IOW, Catholicism is what divided!), and no they have not disappeared.

    This has not happened with Catholicism because it is divinely inspired.

    Ah, but it did and has happened, since those denoms. came from Catholicism. Plus, there are different sects within Catholicism (Opus Dei for one).

    One final note: before the expansion of the Church, the Apostles and their successors worked many miracles including curing illnesses, and the resurrection of the dead. Today these types of miracles are not as needed because all can see the Church, which these Apostles started using miracles and the teachings of Christ.

    How many other dead people did the apostles raise? It kinda puts a less shiny gloss on the resurrection of Jesus, don’t it? Plus, why wouldn’t miracles be needed? Obviously, people can see the church, but it obviously doesn’t work, since not everyone is Catholic. Is god too stupid to figure that out?

    Thus, when I say that God did not create evil, I am just telling you what the Church has always taught.

    No evidence. Also, if that’s what they’ve always taught, then why didn’t they actually read their source material, which says the opposite?

    Finally, the Garden of Eden. The Original Sin of Adam was not the sin of eating the apple. His sin was not in the action of eating the apple. Adam’s sin was in the diobedience towards God.

    Ah, but he couldn’t know that what he was doing was wrong until after he ate the apple.

    When Adam did, the decision to do so was man’s Original Sin. (so the Church teaches)

    And it makes no sense to punish us all for the decisions made by someone who was our ancestor. It’s neither loving nor just. Your own story of god’s actions convicts god of being barbaric, unfair, cruel, capricious, and unjust.

  • goyo

    Hey, Adam. If original sin is passed from parent to child, that makes it a physical thing, doesn’t it? Is it like a virus? How exactly is it passed? Through the blood?
    What does the church teach about it?
    Also, what do you think about transubstantiation? Do you really believe that the wafer and wine are converted into the body and blood of jesus? Can this be proven in a laboratory? How do you feel after you consume it? Do you feel stronger, or wiser?

  • OMGF

    Add on question to goyo’s:
    Do you feel like a cannibal after you eat the blood and body of Jesus?

  • Adam

    EBON & OMGF,

    Reading Adam’s statements here, anyone could be forgiven for getting the impression that the Catholic church has always believed that the fetus was a person from the moment of conception. The truth is quite different. In fact, that didn’t become the official Catholic view until Pope Pius IX declared it so – in 1869.

    It is impossible for the Catholic Church to go against her own teachings once the teaching becomes an unchangable teaching. Each Pope is bound by the previous teachings of the church.

    The Church only declares a teaching unchangeable when there is a movement to go against the teaching. There was not a huge movement against abortion until the 1930′s when contraception was a huge issue All Christians were against abortion until then. Thus the Church needed to declare it’s teaching on abortion infallible after the rest of the Churches split.

    Take for example the divinity of Christ. The Church always taught that Christ was God and Man, but did not declare it infallible untill the 400′s at the Council of Nicaea because of the Arian Heresy.

    Only when there is a scandal against the Church does the Church even need to define it’s teachings.

    Here is a list of teachings on abortion dating back to 70 AD: link

    It ends with:
    Thus, in 1995 Pope John Paul II declared that the Church’s teaching on abortion “is unchanged and unchangeable. Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors . . . I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium. No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church” (Evangelium Vitae 62).

    If you want to read Evangelium Vitae you will see the whole history of the Churches teaching on abortion:

    Whole document:link

  • OMGF

    So, your argument is that teachings can and do change until the church finally pulls its head out and says, “Here are the teachings” at which point the teachings are set in stone, never to be changed again no matter what new evidence comes to light? And, this is supposed to be a good system? A moral system?

  • Adam

    OMGF,

    The Church only declares a teaching unchangeable when there is a heresy to go against the teaching.

    Above is the point of the argument

    For example:

    the divinity of Christ. The Church always taught that Christ was God and Man, but did not declare it infallible untill the 400′s at the Council of Nicaea because of the Arian Heresy.

    The teachings DO NOT CHANGE, look at the link I provided if interested.

  • OMGF

    Well, Ebon has showed that the teachings DO change. Other examples include the teachings about the sun going round the Earth, the Earth being at the center of the universe, etc. Face it, your assertion is completely wrong.

    Oh, and if you are going to quote yourself, don’t change the wording.

  • Adam

    OMGF,

    You’re right we have a conflict. You believe what the “Catholics for Free Choice” say (a decenting group of the Church), and I believe what the Church says.

    To see what the Church teaches one has to look at the councils. Each council is bound by the previous councils infallible teachings? Do teachings develope? Certainly. Especially teaching like those regarding science. But the Church has always taught abortion to be wrong. For example, when science showed that the sperm and egg combine to form a brand new living organism (Which they did not know 2000 years ago), the Churches teachings developed to teach that abortion is wrong starting at this early stage.

    If St. Thomas did teach something against the Church I hope he repented. Long before he was alive the Church had already stated their beliefs on abortion. And this is what we are debating about isn’t it. The Churches teachings, not individuals teachings?

    As far as the Sun around the earth. It is a common misunderstanding. The Church never declared this teaching infallible. Just like all scientist back then, the Chuches scientists taught that the sun revolved around the earth, but once Galileo proved otherwise, their teaching changed. Makes sense to me.

    See link for the whole story if you would like

    I would really recommend, at the very least, looking at Evangelium Vitae (see link above) and scroll down and look at all the History of teachings against abortion

  • Mrnaglfar

    Adam,

    From your link:

    But Galileo was intent on ramming Copernicus down the throat of Christendom. The irony is that when he started his campaign, he enjoyed almost universal good will among the Catholic hierarchy. But he managed to alienate almost everybody with his caustic manner and aggressive tactics. His position gave the Church authorities no room to maneuver: they either had to accept Copernicanism as a fact (even though it had not been proved) and reinterpret Scripture accordingly; or they had to condemn it. He refused the reasonable third position which the Church offered him: that Copernicanism might be considered a hypothesis, one even superior to the Ptolemiaic system, until further proof could be adduced.

    I guess Galileo was just too militant about things like “facts”, and “observable evidence” for the church. He too agressively asserted what, was in fact, true. Sounds a lot like the allegations often leveled against Dawkins and Hitchens. But of course the problem here isn’t what was true, the problem is that the bible said one thing, and someone was saying “that’s not true and I can prove it”. Why should Galileo even need to consider bowing to the church? Under what authority (one that exists, mind you) do they have any sway over what reality is, or should be allowed to try and censor those whom don’t agree with them?

    But in 1614, Galileo felt that he had to answer the objection that the new science contradicted certain passages of Scripture. There was, for example, Joshua’s command that the sun stand still. Why would Joshua do that if, as Galileo asserted, the sun didn’t move at all? Then there were Psalms 92 (“He has made the world firm, not to be moved.”) and 103 (“You fixed the earth upon its foundation, not to be moved forever.”), not to mention the famous verse in Ecclesiastes. These are not obscure passages, and their literal sense would obviously have to be abandoned if the Copernican system were true.

    Which of course, he was right about. Especially since most people in the time believed that nonsense, Galileo was right in trying to address a widely held, misconception by the people. Unless you try and push the line of thought that science needs to bend over backwards to dance around irrational thought nicely, I don’t see the problem here.

    At least they got this right

    Unfortunately, there are still today biblical fundamentalists, both Protestant and Catholic, who do not understand this simple point: the bible is not a scientific treatise.

    However, they fail to mention why the bible is an authority on anything. And I haven’t heard good reasoning from anyone in the bible camp yet.

    Galileo’s condemnation was certainly unjust, but in no way impugns the infallibility of Catholic dogma.

    Bullshit alert! The church was wrong but the church is never wrong? not buying it

    The Catholic Church really has little to apologize for in its relations with science. Indeed, Stanley Jaki and others have argued that it was the metaphysical framework of medieval Catholicism which made modern science possible in the first place

    Yeah, and we have religion to thank for science? That’s still bullshit and I’m still not buying it.

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    To see what the Church teaches one has to look at the councils.

    First off, never heard of the Catholics for Free Choice. Second, what I quoted above is exactly what Ebon did:

    Before then, Catholic views on abortion were far more complex. Both Augustine and Thomas Aquinas believed that a fetus became a person only at the moment of ensoulment, which they believed took place sometime around the end of the first trimester. Before that point, they held that the fetus wasn’t sufficiently well-formed to contain a soul, and thus its destruction was not murder. This “delayed hominization” view was confirmed by the Council of Vienne in 1312, and has never been officially repudiated. Pope Sixtus V did declare all abortions to be homicide in 1588, but his successor, Pope Gregory XIV, reversed that prohibition just three years later.

    As far as the Sun around the earth. It is a common misunderstanding. The Church never declared this teaching infallible.

    Which I find to be a cop-out. If they have direct access to god, why couldn’t they get it right? Why do they have to have certain teachings that are not infallible just in case?

    Just like all scientist back then, the Chuches scientists taught that the sun revolved around the earth, but once Galileo proved otherwise, their teaching changed.

    I’m sorry, when did the Catholic church finally officially recognize that the Earth goes round the sun? I seem to recall it was in the 1980s. Your article claims that it was in 1741 (about 150 years after Galileo BTW and even longer since Copernicus) so either way it’s a little late.

    Either way Adam, your assertions are not holding water.

  • Adam

    OMGF,

    I have nothing more to say, sorry.

    Are you serious about the 1980′s comment?

    I’m sorry, when did the Catholic church finally officially recognize that the Earth goes round the sun? I seem to recall it was in the 1980s.

    First of all, The Church only teaches infallibly regarding Faith and Morals. When it comes to Science and Galileo their scientist are like any other scientist: When they find new information then they change their teachings. Just like everyone else

    To quote myself

    “Just like all scientist back then, the Chuches scientists taught that the sun revolved around the earth, but once Galileo proved otherwise, their teaching changed.”

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Since the Catholic church’s science-related teachings are obviously fallible, why should we assume that they have access to any higher authority when it comes to morals?

  • OMGF

    I still find the argument that the church only makes certain things infallible but not others to be indicative of a group that does not have a direct conduit to an omni-max being that created all. Also, if you are going to criticize what I say, I recommend that you read the whole comment and take it in context. Thanks.

  • Adam

    EM, OMGF

    Since the Catholic church’s science-related teachings are obviously fallible, why should we assume that they have access to any higher authority when it comes to morals?

    This question gets at the difference between theists and atheists.

    Catholic Chirstians believe God, who is the One God, through Jesus, who is God, established a Church…infallible when it comes to faith and morals, through Apostolic succession, begining with St. Peter. (cf. Matt 16:18 and others).

    We can discuss reasonable reason’s for God existence if you would like, Ebon.

    Jesus did not come to teach about science, rather God (i.e. faith and morals). It is reasonable that if God indeed did communicate with man and taught him who He is, that we would want every person to know as well. He would establish a Church to teach everyone, this Church would be infallible regarding the faith and morals that He passed down to them. Infallible so that there is no error in the teachings, that the same teachings he wanted to give will be the same for all time.

    This gets at Apostolic Succession. Each Pope is bound by the previous Pope’s teachings. St. Peter (32-67AD ) was bound by Jesus’s teachings (God’s teaching about faith and morals), St. Linus (67-76) was bound by St. Peter, St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88) was bound by St. Linus, St. Clement I (88-97) was bound by St. Anacletus……All the way to Pope Benedict 16th.

    1. St. Peter (32-67)
    2. St. Linus (67-76)
    3. St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)
    4. St. Clement I (88-97)
    5. St. Evaristus (97-105)
    6. St. Alexander I (105-115)
    ……
    266. Pope Benedict 16th

    This is why it is reasonable to assume that we have access to a higher authority. Jesus told us so.

    I recommend that you read the whole comment and take it in context. Thanks.

    I’m sorry, when did the Catholic church finally officially recognize that the Earth goes round the sun? I seem to recall it was in the 1980s. Your article claims that it was in 1741 (about 150 years after Galileo BTW and even longer since Copernicus) so either way it’s a little late.

    I hope there are no hard feelings, I was really just wondering if you thought it was in the 80′s?

    You said it’s a little late. When would have been the right time? I think being scientifically sound before you decide to teach something new (like all scientist do)is reasonable.

  • Graham

    This is a very good argument and obviously well thought through. I, however, would like to point out that it is not an argument supporting the non-existence of a god. It is an argument that simply states “the version of god portrayed by most Christians does not make sense to me.” This could only be an argument of the existence of God assuming the following: the version of God portrayed by most Christians is correct, and in order for God to exist, we have to be able to understand him. The former is up for debate (and has been since the beginning of Christianity), the latter cannot be defended. Very good argument. I learned much. Still not an argument of the existence of a god (or even the Christian God), though.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    It is an argument that simply states “the version of god portrayed by most Christians does not make sense to me.”

    Actually, it’s an argument that states that the version of god portrayed by most Xians (and other theists) does not make sense at all. And, it is most certainly an argument against the existence of such a god as put forth by the majority of Xians, who need to reconcile the issues put forth in order to salvage their contradictory ideas.

  • heliobates

    This is why it is reasonable to assume that we have access to a higher authority. Jesus told us so.

    Oh, well, that changes everything, then.


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