Rebutting Reasonable Faith: Remembering the Lost

In question #86 of his Reasonable Faith column, William Lane Craig addresses a question from a Christian who’s troubled by one of the most wicked doctrines of that theology, the dogma of Hell. Craig’s correspondent wonders whether the saved will feel compassion for the damned, but also worries that it would be a violation of free will for God to erase their memories of their lost loved ones.

I would never forget that I had a child and wish to be with them in the afterlife unless God specifically altered my mind… I am just having trouble imagining myself so happy that I just don’t think about my child who is burning in eternal damnation.

Craig’s response begins:

You object… that God would violate the free will of redeemed persons were He to take such action. I don’t see that this implication follows. God’s respecting human free will has to do with moral decision-making. God will not cause you to take one morally significant choice rather than another. He leaves it up to you. But obviously God limits our freedom in many morally neutral ways… if God removes from the redeemed knowledge of the damned, including knowledge of loved ones that are damned, He does not violate the moral integrity or free will of the persons involved, any more than if He had removed their knowledge of calculus.

This is just obviously wrong. Stealing people’s memories of the suffering of others is a morally neutral limitation on their freedom? By what bizarre reasoning could anyone possibly arrive at that conclusion? Taking away that knowledge stops us from acting in ways that we would otherwise want to, which is the essence of making a moral choice.

It would be as if I had a relative who was dying from cancer, and I went to see a therapist who could hypnotize me into forgetting their existence, so I wouldn’t have any desire to visit them in the hospital and comfort them. By Craig’s reckoning, this is a “morally neutral” choice. By any rational system of morality, however, this would be an act of supreme callousness and depraved indifference to the suffering of others.

But not to worry, Craig has a fallback answer:

This alternative suggests that the experience of being in Christ’s immediate presence will be so overwhelming for the redeemed that they will not think of the damned in hell.

Craig compares this to a wounded soldier having a limb amputated without anesthetic, suffering from pain so intense it drives all other thoughts out of his mind – except, he says, we should substitute happiness for pain to get some idea of what it feels like to be in Heaven. (Great analogy!)

What this comes down to is saying that the saved will be like drug addicts on a permanent high, so wrapped up in their own euphoria that they care nothing for the world outside their own head. Heaven will be like the Land of the Lotus-Eaters from Greek mythology, its inhabitants forever smothered in a blissful haze that leaves them unable to think of or contemplate anything else, for all eternity. Am I the only one who finds this image disturbing rather than appealing?

Craig isn’t the first one to suggest this; other Christians have said very similar things. But whenever they try to describe in any detail what people in this state would look or act like, they always wind up painting a picture of Kafkaesque automatons that I call bright machines. Far from being the fullest and most perfect realization of human potential, the imaginary inhabitants of Heaven are less than human. They’re lacking in all the emotional depth, all the richness and color that makes our lives real and meaningful.

We do have a glimpse of this vision here on Earth. Certain kinds of brain damage can rob a person of all emotional affect, so that all they ever feel is a constant, all-enveloping bliss – very like Craig’s vision of Christians overwhelmed by the beatific vision. But the result isn’t an appealing picture:

“He looks like our son and has the same voice as our son, but he is not the same person we knew and loved…. He’s not the same person he was before he had this stroke. Our son was a warm, caring, and sensitive person. All that is gone. He now sounds like a robot.”

This, then, is the Christian conception of the afterlife – blissed-out robots in Heaven, billions of the damned eternally suffering in Hell. If that’s what William Lane Craig and others want to believe, that’s their right. But I would hardly call this reassuring or comforting to the worried questioner – much less a “reasonable faith”.

Other posts in this series:

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  • http://jetson.wordpress.com Jetson

    See how easy it is to make up just about any excuse for Gods actions! And Christians tell me that if God didn’t empower each of us with free will, we would all be mindless robots. How ironic, that when we arrive at the very place promised by the all-loving God, we are, apparently, exactly robots.

  • valdemar

    Excellent post. And this conception of heaven makes simply being dead seem quite acceptable. Decent, reasonable nonexistence beats eternity as an smiling imbecile.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Yet more evidence that Craig is practicing sophistry, not philosophy.

  • cello

    It rarely fails to amaze me that:

    1. Christianity has so many key internal inconsistancies that border on the absurd. Why would God command Love Thy Neighbor only to have you ignore their eternal suffering after death?

    2. Theologians take it upon themselves to speak for God, in both his motiviation and plan. AFAIK, there isn’t much in the way of description of heavenly life in the Bible. Maybe everyone is kept in cages like parrots.

  • lpetrich

    There’s another solution to this conundrum, that of Tertullian, Thomas Aquinas, and others. It is that people in Heaven will enjoy the sufferings of people in Hell, and that they will learn in Heaven how well-deserved those sufferings are.

    A theologian like that would say in response to question #86 that the questioner will learn how much that child deserved to be tormented in Hell, and will end up enjoying the sight of that child’s sufferings.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Ipetrich,

    I had always though that that was the usual Xtian take on the sufferings of loved ones (and everyone else) in hell.

    There is an absolutely fantastic medieval mural in the cathedral in Albi, France, which depicts, quite vividly and graphically, the demonic torments of hell, with the saved looking down from heaven (alongside a beatific God), snickering, pointing and guffawing while the damned are having their heads torn off and their entrails feasted upon by demons.

  • Peter N

    Craig needn’t have gone to the effort to concoct his two unsupportable, contradictory theories. I wonder if he has ever taken a basic CPR class? If so, he knows enough to assure the woman that within just a few minutes of the cessation of her blood circulation, her brain will be irreversibly damaged, and all the memories of her child, and everything else that she might think of as a “self” or an “identity”, will be gone for good.

    He could then go on to encourage the woman to feel and show her love for her children right here and now, and to do all she can to make the world a happier and safer place for them.

    But then, he would be talking like an atheist.

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

    Craig’s vision of humanity in heaven gives a thinking person so much to look forward to in the afterlife. {/snark} Yet, Christians insist that their religion makes them more fully human.

  • Ritchie

    Am I the only one who felt a shiver of horror reading the original poster talk so coldly about her loved ones, her own children even, burning in Hell?

    And didn’t Craig sound like a pantomime villain producing reasons why this is all reasonable? I would expect at the very least some patronising hand-patting and bland reassurances that her children were in Heaven.

    Where is the comfort in ‘Don’t worry, as soon as you get to Heaven you’ll be so blissed out you won’t care if they’re in Hell’? He sounds like a satirical parody of a Christian theologian.

    On the other hand I can’t think what answer he could possibly have given which sounded any more reasonable given the fact that he’ll cling to the Bible being true.

  • http://www.skepticaloccultism.com/ pendens proditor

    I suspect that many Christians would argue that they couldn’t have any loved ones in Hell, because if someone they knew was sent to Hell that would mean there was a darkness and evil inside that person that they hadn’t been aware of in life. They would be thankful that the person’s true nature had been revealed to them and their love for that person would be instantly extinguished. After all, who are they to argue with God about a person’s hidden character?

    The most compassionate and humble person who had ever lived could end up in Hell (very easily, according to God’s rules) and it would simply be evidence to them that this person wasn’t as pious as he or she seemed.

  • Nurse Ingrid

    For my fundamentalist relatives, the great tragedy of their lives was that all of their children and grandchildren became nonbelievers. They were very sad in their old age because their belief in heaven was little comfort to them: “how can it be heaven when our families aren’t there?” It broke my heart but of course nothing I said or did made any difference to them. I doubt Craig’s answer would have helped either, though — yikes.

    Last night the movie “Pump Up the Volume” was on TV, and the Christian Slater character has a great rant against suicide. “Assuming there’s a heaven, who’d wanna go there?? It would be so boring!” That was one of my first big realizations when I was becoming a nonbeliever. The thought of my consciousness being permanently snuffed out is awful, but no religion has ever described an afterlife that I had any desire to experience. As Hitchens says, heaven sounds like North Korea to me. No thanks.

  • http://www.failingtheinsidertest.blogspot.com/ Jeffrey

    “Blessed are those who mourn, for their memories will be wiped clean of whatever it is that they were mourning about. The eternal sunshine of the evangelical mind.” – Fred Clark

  • Mark.V.

    The alternative to hell, death, i.e. non-existence won’t work either. Afterall if the consequence of a lifetime of sin and debauchery is oblivion the obvious question is, why repent? Christians need a hell to drive people into heaven.

  • Leum

    I suspect that many Christians would argue that they couldn’t have any loved ones in Hell, because if someone they knew was sent to Hell that would mean there was a darkness and evil inside that person that they hadn’t been aware of in life. They would be thankful that the person’s true nature had been revealed to them and their love for that person would be instantly extinguished. After all, who are they to argue with God about a person’s hidden character?

    Generally, modern Christianity, especially the Hellfire branches, holds to the idea that everyone is loathsome, horrible, and evil. Being a Christian isn’t about being good, it’s just about being saved. Most Christians will cheerfully say that otherwise nice, good (inasmuch as anything as vile as a human can be good), and kind people will burn (Jack Chick has some tracts that illustrate this principle quite nicely).

    The alternative to hell, death, i.e. non-existence won’t work either. Afterall if the consequence of a lifetime of sin and debauchery is oblivion the obvious question is, why repent? Christians need a hell to drive people into heaven.

    Not really. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Mormons get along fine without a Hell (Mormons have the Outer Darkness, but you have to be really evil to go there).

  • Sarah Braasch

    Yeah, the JWs say that there is no hell (the unsaved simply cease to exist), BUT that’s why they bring hell to earth in the herenow. You don’t have to wait for demonic torment. You can get it now.

    According to the JWs — demons are real; Satan is real. And, they roam the earth, and they can harm you in any way they might wish. They can kill you. They can rape you. They can hurt you. They can also just torture you psychologically.

    They go after bad people. But, they also go after good people. So, being a really good JW and calling upon Jehovah might help, but, then again, it might not. Jehovah does have his mysterious reasons after all. Sometimes demons go after the best JWs just for kicks.

    So, basically, as a JW you are under constant threat of demonic attack — all the time. You can never let your guard down.

    And, you have to be constantly searching out ways in which you might be inviting demons into your life. Antiques, horoscopes, ouija boards, your circle of friends, music, books, bad thoughts, etc., etc..

    It’s enough to make anyone crazy. And, they teach this to the kids — totally unwatered down.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    This alternative suggests that the experience of being in Christ’s immediate presence will be so overwhelming for the redeemed that they will not think of the damned in hell.

    I see. So the experience of Christ’s presence will be so overwhelming that we won’t care about, or think about, or indeed even remember the people we love.

    And how exactly will we be ourselves, then?

    My thoughts and feelings about the people I love are a central, crucial part of what makes me who I am. The best part, arguably. And Craig thinks that in heaven, this will just disappear?

    And he thinks that’s a good thing?

    What’s more: Compassion and caring for others is supposedly a major part of Christianity. And yet somehow, our heavenly reward for living a compassionate and caring life is that we get to have that experience permanently stripped from us after death. How does that work, exactly? And again — how is that a good thing?

    What is wrong with these people, anyway? Do they even hear themselves? Do they know what they sound like?

  • nfpendleton

    What’s most amazing to me about the whole William Lane Craig response is just how painfully obvious it is that he’s making the whole thing up. It makes me wonder if he believes any of the tripe he’s shoveling, because I smell the stench of cynicism on this poorly-conceived and half-ass attempt at an answer.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    My thoughts and feelings about the people I love are a central, crucial part of what makes me who I am. The best part, arguably. And Craig thinks that in heaven, this will just disappear?

    Of course, Greta. Individuality and Christianity rarely play well together.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    This post reminds me of that cartoon I saw about a child in heaven resting on the clouds and looking down to see his grandma being dragged to hell for not accepting Christ and he remarks along the lines of “Well, she sure did bake some good cookies.”

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    What is wrong with these people, anyway? Do they even hear themselves? Do they know what they sound like?

    Greta, my favorite was a Christian blogger who goes by the name of Rhology who claimed that if Jeffrey Dahmer was sincere in his conversion to Christianity in prison before his death, then he is in heaven right now. As for the people Dahmer killed before they had a chance to turn to Jesus, well, apparently they’re shit out of luck. Jesus Christ. The ultimate get out of jail free card.

    Theists like to quote that line from one of Dostoevsky’s characters, “Without God, all things are permissible.” I propose a corollary to that. With God, all things are permissible, as long as you say the right magic words before you die.

  • http://mysite.verizon.net/pschult/ Pete Schult

    Bright machines? So in heaven everyone’s a bright (in Dawkins’s sense)?

  • David

    If the Christian God exists we are all in a lose-lose situation. Either we all go to Heaven and become smiling Worship-Robots, or we go to Hell which is even worse. There is no other path.

    Horrible.

    I think Hell has become a doctrine with quite different utility now than it had when it was first created. I imagine that, at first, Hell served primarily to reassure Christians that, whatever their sufferings at the hands of the Romans and all other Antichristian forces, they would ultimately triumph and their enemies be cast down and punished.

    Now, it has become a mind enslaving device that prevents people from leaving the faith because they are afraid of a horrible, torturous fate at the hands of their omnibenevolent God.

  • billf

    What a twit. I love how he finishes his argument:

    “I’m not claiming, of course, to know if either of these alternatives is true but merely claiming that they serve to defeat Talbott’s argument for universalism.”

    One of their favorite ploys when cornered in one of the silly beliefs their religion forces upon them is to retreat to “possible” explanations. As soon as they come with something even just slightly plausible they feel they can dismiss your arguments in total. Craig demonstrates this perfectly with the last sentence of his post. Translation: “I might be pulling this out of my butt, but it still refutes your argument.”

  • paradoctor

    Craig: theology fail. The Zen monk D.T. Suzuki said that if there were a single soul in Hell then he would refuse Heaven.

    The question usually does not arise because religion is community-based; the believer’s unconscious assumption is that all their loved ones are saved. Thus collective egotism suppresses cognitive dissonance.

    I can think of few Hells worse than a place that calls itself Heaven but shows you loved ones in Hell, and expects you to like it. The solution would be to reject such a false Heaven and rejoin your loved ones in false Hell; for love is Heaven.

    I admit that the preceding paragraph is poetry, not to be taken literally. I just think that my poem is better than Craig’s.

  • An Indonesian Atheist

    This! This is one of the strongest reasons that hastens my deconversion. Spending an eternity as a god-worshipping robot is stupid and boring. If god so value human’s free will as not to interfere with it while on earth, why strip it away when the said human make it to heaven?

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    This alternative suggests that the experience of being in Christ’s immediate presence will be so overwhelming for the redeemed that they will not think of the damned in hell.

    Yup. JC is that powerful. I mean, it worked for Judas, right?

    Sarah Braasch “There is an absolutely fantastic medieval mural in the cathedral in Albi, France…”
    Do you mean The Last Judgement? Looking at it, I can’t help but notice how (except those in Hell and those begging for mercy), well, organized everyone is. Heaven is like being queued in His Most Divine Bureaucracy.

    pendens proditor “The most compassionate and humble person who had ever lived could end up in Hell (very easily, according to God’s rules) and it would simply be evidence to them that this person wasn’t as pious as he or she seemed.”
    Don’t forget that you don’t go to Heaven because you’re good (“Good fruits” are just a side-effect of the Holy Spirit and you don’t have to have the latter to do the former). Nobody is good and even at your best, you’re still not perfect (which is intolerable to the God that made you the way you are knowed what you’d do). You go because God chose you, before you were born, when He did that voodoo that He do.

    Leum “Being a Christian isn’t about being good, it’s just about being saved.”
    “Personal salvation”. Only those filthy Catholics believe in works.
    “Jack Chick has some tracts that illustrate this principle quite nicely…”
    Oh, Jack…the line between “righteous” and “malevolent sociopath” is so fine…

    paradoctor “The Zen monk D.T. Suzuki said that if there were a single soul in Hell then he would refuse Heaven.”
    And you can ask him about that…when you see him in hell! Take that, sinner! Also, God loves you.

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

    I’m not claiming, of course, to know if either of these alternatives is true but merely claiming that they serve to defeat Talbott’s argument for universalism.

    Craig seems to suffer from the delusion that a response to a position automatically counts as a refutation. How does Craig’s made up crap, which Craig admits his answer is, defeat Talbott’s made up crap? The only stuff that defeats anyone’s made up crap is truth, something with which neither Talbott nor Craig seem to be very familiar.

  • Jim Baerg

    Sarah Braasch: “There is an absolutely fantastic medieval mural in the cathedral in Albi, France, which depicts, quite vividly and graphically, the demonic torments of hell, with the saved looking down from heaven (alongside a beatific God), snickering, pointing and guffawing while the damned are having their heads torn off and their entrails feasted upon by demons.”

    IINM Albi is the place the ‘Albigensians’ were named for. Do you have any idea if that mural is from before or after the Albigensians were exterminated by the orthodox Catholics in that area?

  • Sarah Braasch

    It’s from after. Apparently, much of the inspiration for depicting such hellish horrors was to keep any latent albigensians (cathars) in line. The cathedral also looks like a fortress. I have never seen another cathedral like it anywhere else in the world. There’s a ton of info online about the mural and the cathedral and the history.

    It was painted by a group of unknown artists during the mid 15th century and is considered one of the great masterpieces of the late Middle Ages. (From some web site — I forget which one.)

    It’s been more than a decade since I’ve seen it up close, but, now, I have a desire to go again. On the day I was there, so long ago, there was a young couple getting married in front of the mural. It was such an odd juxtaposition.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    This is an interesting topic. I’ve always found it interesting that humanity does a very effective job of making Hell seem real and detailed while Heaven seems rather vague. I’ve read Dante’s Inferno, but have yet to read Purgatorio or Paradiso.

    Stealing people’s memories of the suffering of others is a morally neutral limitation on their freedom? By what bizarre reasoning could anyone possibly arrive at that conclusion? Taking away that knowledge stops us from acting in ways that we would otherwise want to, which is the essence of making a moral choice.

    I couldn’t agree more. In my pathophysiology class, my professor told us that Alzheimer’s Disease is most feared by the elderly, because it takes away the part of your brain that makes you who you are. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s Disease. After seeing what she went through, I think one of the scariest things that can happen to a person is taking away memories or taking away the ability to think. If Heaven involves such things, count me out.

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  • Scotlyn

    Sarah, I noticed that, implicit in the artwork you pointed to, is somewhat the surreal notion that clothes are more difficult to “resurrect” than bodies.

    Sharmin, your point about Alzheimer’s is well taken, and that very disease demonstrates one of the absurdities of “heaven” or “hell” – ie which “you” is the one you will “arrive” with – the “you” at 10 just figuring things out? The “you” at 20, convinced you’ve just figured it out? the “you” at 30, figuring out how to make ends meet? the “you” at forty, finally getting a handle on the finances? the “you” at fifty, figuring out how to tactfully point out to the teens and 20′s people in your life how much more they’ve got to figure out? the “you” at 60, when no one cares any more about what you’re just beginning to figure out? the “you” at 70 when you no longer care what anyone else cares about, and no longer figure you’ll ever figure it all out? the “you” at 80, surrounded daily by all those strangers with familiar faces, which you have to keep trying to figure out, with a memory that’s more of a net than a bucket?

    Which of these is the real “you.” If you settle on one, then you lose/forsake all the others. If you could somehow become “all of them” at once, you would lose the mystery of your own future and the pathos of your own past, all curiousity sated, all growth potential gone. How could you be you?

    Not to mind the additional multi-layers of complexity contained in your life-long varying web of relationships – the subject of OP.

  • http://acoward.blogspot.com An Anonymous Coward

    Not really. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Mormons get along fine without a Hell (Mormons have the Outer Darkness, but you have to be really evil to go there).

    In the Mormons’ case, they make up for it by devising different degrees of heaven, and making the highest degree of heaven really, really good. (And, of course, to get there, you have to follow all the commandments and ordinances of Mormon doctrine…) In the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, you get to become a full-fledged God yourself, and have your own children who go through the whole cycle themselves and get the chance to eventually become gods, and so on and so forth. It’s the Circle of (After)life…

    So, yeah. Mormons may not threaten their faithful with a stick, but they make up for it by dangling a really big carrot…

  • Elijah

    Craig’s reply I don’t think is satisfactory in the least.
    We will definitely remember “the lost.”

    I think a much more logical and reasonable answer would be this.
    Upon entering heaven ours and others deeds will be made known and judged. When we see a loved one who had never accepted God’s forgiveness be sent to Hell, while there may be sorrow, it wouldn’t be in anger. We were fortunate enough to have God offer free forgiveness to us, and we accepted it. That’s our only alibi. Nothing that we could’ve done on own merit, would have made us acceptable.

    When we see someone sent to hell we realize A) That person had just as much an opportunity made to them, B) That God is just, and must judge according to one standard.
    So while it’s not what I, or anyone I know wants to someday see someone sentenced to separation from God like that. We know that the sentenced was justly deserved.
    (Might I add, deserved of us all, but made able to be pardoned by God)

    So it’s not a memory wiping. My analogy would be that of a loved one on trial for murder. And all the jury is asking for is an admittance of guilt and apology. While we as the family don’t want to see our dear one to go to jail, we realize that it is the just thing to do.

  • monkeymind

    Elijah, thanks for the clarification. It’s certainly a relief to know that god doesn’t need to borrow cheap plot devices from hack sci-fi authors. And you’re right of course: as long as we know our loved ones richly deserve eternal torture, there’s no reason why the thought of their suffering need disturb our enjoyment of heaven’s luxurious amenities. So party on, dude!

  • Elijah

    So answer this Monkey,

    Should we not have jails? Should not those who deserve punishment, receive it?
    Don’t kid yourself into thinking jails are only to protect the public. Thats a complete joke.

    Now, I agree, the thought of their suffering is something we should be disturbed by. Because there is an alternative thats readily available. That’s something I am greatly disturbed by.

  • Peter N

    Elijah,

    This discussion could quickly be derailed into one about different theories for responding to unlawful behavior, and as interesting as that might be (with this diverse bunch!), I’d like to get back to your original comment.

    It’s obvious, isn’t it?, that everything we know is tied up in our living, healthy brains. As I said in a comment above, when our blood circulation stops, our brains start to break down right away. We know this. Even if a person is resuscitated, after a very few minutes, the brain is permanently damaged. People can recover from some kinds of brain damage — if, say, the parts of the brain containing memories are intact, but the patient has to learn new ways of accessing them. But after you’re dead and buried, how will you remember anything with no brain?

    When the books of the Bible were being written, nobody understood this. In fact I’ll bet those people had no idea what the brain was for. They certainly couldn’t have understood how it worked. [For fun, I just ran a search for the word "brain" in half a dozen versions of the Bible on http://www.biblegateway.com, and the word never appears.]

    How did we get this idea of a “soul” which retains a personality and a complete set of memories? I suspect that to people completely ignorant of what science has since taught us, a recently-dead body was a puzzling thing. It looked just like a living person. It should be able to get up and walk around, but it never did. It must have seemed that the thing that made the body “alive” had fled. Where did it go? Must have gone somewhere! They didn’t realize what we have all known now for many years — a body has life because it maintains a very delicate balance of metabolism, oxygenation, hormones, electrical activity — all ideas that wouldn’t have occurred to people in the Bronze Age.

    Do you believe you have a “soul”, separate from your organic brain, that is some kind of mirror of your mind, that will exist forever? This is so far removed from the laws of nature as we understand them that you would have to have some really convincing proof to persuade us.

  • Caiphen

    I haven’t red all the posts, so hopefully this hasn’t been mentioned before.
    Prior to my deconversion I studied Classic Greek, so I know a little about the bible. In defense of Xianity from myself being an ex Xian, on this point only. The bible doesn’t support the idea of an eternally burning hell. According to it a person is thrown into a fire, but this is to burn a non believer into non existence, not for a non believer to spend an eternity there. There is a whole bible study on it, which really doesn’t have a place on an atheist website.

    My non belief is based on the facts of evolution, my rejection of the god of the gaps and my rejection of the religious reasons for human suffering. It’s not based on an eternally burning hell.

  • Elijah

    Well Pete, I’ve got somethings I could share, but will you read it with an open mind? Or will you be as what most Xians are labeled as (and rightfully so for the majority) and be narrowminded? Hopefully you won’t be like that. You seem pretty respectable, so I’m not worried.

    Firstly, I don’t believe that the burden of proof should fall on me in the first place. There’s no way to fully prove the existence of God. But I think I can make the argument that it’smore probable than not.
    This though isn’t a thread for it. So I digress.

    To answer your question about “souls,” though while I don’t believe you are correct about first century medicine, neither of us have any source data, so it’s a mute point. But, here’s an argument for an existence for souls, not proof.

    Lets start with humans. What are we? What separates us from our animal friends? Can we deny that humans are drastically and distinctively different from all other life on earth? According to the Atheist Creed as posted on this site, humans have certain inalienable rights. (Again, I would have to argue that, from and atheistic standpoint, this is not consistent belief, but again, not the place for that) What makes humans deserve these rights above animals in this world? Are we really to say that a cockroach’s life is just as valuable as a humans?
    What makes us so special?
    Well we’re more intelligent and more powerful, so naturally survival and dominance of the fittest should apply. But wouldn’t that mean that certain humans are indeed more valuable than others, depending if you’re an invalid or a genius?

    So my first point would be 1) The fact that we are somehow actually significant means there is something different about us.

    Point 2#
    What other creature creates art for enjoyment? Self-actualization according to Maslow’s basic needs for life. But really, this is far from a need. The only needs we have or physiological and safety. This is completely innate to humans only. The ability to create and enjoy art of all kinds. This shows us that we indeed have personality.

    I think thats enough for now, I have to work at 6AM, so I’m signing off.

    But in summary,
    1) We are uniquely valuable. Separate from cats in dogs.
    2) We are uniquely personable. That is, we possess traits found only in humans that pertains to personality.

    Conclusion:
    What is the cause?
    Is it possible we have something more than just a physiological advantage to all other species on earth? But something that goes beyond merely the physical?
    Is it probable?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Is it possible we have something more than just a physiological advantage to all other species on earth? But something that goes beyond merely the physical?

    And that concludes tonight’s exercise in human egocentrism. Try surviving without the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract and tell me what a physiological advantage you have.

    Can we deny that humans are drastically and distinctively different from all other life on earth?

    There are many life forms that are drastically and distinctively different from all other life on Earth. Some forms of life reproduce asexually. I would argue that is drastically different. Some forms of life on this planet exist in environments that we cannot survive in, which is why they are called extremophiles. Some forms of life engage in mutually symbiotic relationships. Certain marine animals will frequent places where they know that other marine animals will eat the parasites off their skins and in return for the act, will refrain from eating their cleaners.

    Are we special? Yes, to us. But if we vanished tomorrow, a lot of living things on this planet, like those that live around thermal vents on the ocean floor, would never notice and just go on about their lives.

  • http://prinzler@calpoly.edu Paul

    Elijah, in what way(s) are people more powerful than bacteria, and in what way(s) are bacteria more powerful than people, and on what basis would you conclude that one is therefore more powerful than the other?

    Saying that people are more powerful than bacteria depends on how you define “powerful.” If you count the mere number of organisms, bacteria win by orders of magnitude. If you count by size, then people win. If you count by dependence (do people need bacteria or do bacteria need people), I’m not sure who wins. And then, how do weight number, size, dependence, etc., in relation to each other?

    Comparing us to other organisms does not illustrate our superiority quite so easily.

  • Caiphen

    1) We are uniquely valuable. Separate from cats in dogs.
    2) We are uniquely personable. That is, we possess traits found only in humans that pertains to personality.

    Hey, my dog’s got a personality, here’s one of his traits. He’s agressive to those who reckon he doesn’t have one. He’ll even bite you!

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

    So my first point would be 1) The fact that we are somehow actually significant means there is something different about us.

    We assign our own significance to ourselves. It has nothing to do with souls.

    What other creature creates art for enjoyment?

    And what logical chain of thought leads you from “Humans create art” to “Humans have souls?”

    Now, I agree, the thought of their suffering is something we should be disturbed by. Because there is an alternative thats readily available. That’s something I am greatly disturbed by.

    But, you just got done arguing that we won’t be disturbed by it. So, which is it?

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Um, animals make art. Not many of them do, as far as we know, but some of our nearer cousins (orangutans? chimps?), in captivity, have been found to scratch patterns on rocks, then arrange them out of others’ line of sight. Of course, I now can’t find the links to cite this, and searches like “animal art” come up with paintings of ponies. What is the internet anyway, a ten year-old girl?!

  • http://theorangesashford.moonfruit.com Steve Bowen

    Can we deny that humans are drastically and distinctively different from all other life on earth?

    Except for Neanderthals with whom we shared the planet up to about 25000 years ago. Or didn’t they get souls?

  • Peter N

    Elijah,

    The other commenters have made a lot of good points in reply to what you wrote. Before I add my $.02, I would like to know a little about your underlying assumptions.

    It is clear to me that the earth is over four billion years old, and that life has been evolving here almost since the beginning — do you agree? I am also convinced by the scientific evidence that humans are a branch on the ape family tree, and related more distantly to all other living things on earth, including plants. That makes me (merely) one example of animal life on this planet, far more similar to my cat than different — do you agree?

    Because if you believe in a young earth, and/or a “special creation” of humankind by an external intelligence, then any conversation about why we create art is going to have to wait until we work out a few basic premises.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    This website here shows works by Koko and Michael, two captive gorillas.

  • Joffan

    Elijah

    What makes humans deserve these rights above animals in this world?

    We’re the ones, us humans, deciding on our rights. The cockroaches can decide on their own rights.

    Of course it has happened before now within our own species that different groups have each decided on their own rights, and also decided that other groups have no (or very few) rights. These occasions may be categorized under either “slavery” or “warfare”, and often under “religion”.

    Modusoperandi

    What is the internet anyway, a ten year-old girl?!

    Well, it ain’t no grandmothers’ tea party, let me tell you.

  • Elijah

    Wow thats a lot of replies. I’ll stick to Peter for now, sorry guys.

    Sure, lets go ahead and say our assumptions.
    No I do not subscribe to Young Earth theology. My reasons are the same as yours. Do I believe we have descended directly from apes? Well thats certainly a possibility. I no doubt believe we are from Neanderthal origins. Could they be from apes? Well thats a hard question to answer. It is certainly possible, but I think my reasons are different from yours. (Let me know if you want me to further explain, it’s sorta long. I think you could determine what our differences will be.)

    Are we related to all other life on earth? Well if you just count the fact that we share the same elements, then sure. (hydrogen, oxygen, etc) But I would not submit to the statement that we are all A) Of the same intrinsic value. B) Abiogenesis as the means to which we came into being.

    Now let me ask you for some clarification to your pressumptions:
    These are taken directly from the Atheist’s Creed:
    “We are human beings, intelligent and self-aware, possessing both reason and emotion, with the potential for immense good as well as terrible evil.”
    That is, that there is a universal moral standard? Or do you believe our morals are derived from cultural indoctrination?
    “Every human being possesses inherent worth, and every human life is equally valuable.”
    Or that we are a result of evolution and are a series of chemical processes and synapses?
    “Through the use of reason and conscience, we can perceive morality, defined as the principles of behavior which produce the greatest happiness and the least suffering both now and in the future. Morality is not dependent on personal opinion or societal prejudice, but is objective and universal and is accessible to every intelligent being. We should, to the best of our ability, obey these principles and be good to each other.”
    Do you agree or disagree with this statement? If disagree, please explain.
    “Human beings possess fundamental rights and freedoms upon which no one may infringe. Among these are freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the right to an education, the right to live in peace and safety, and the right to seek happiness.”
    Agree or disagree? If disagree, please explain.
    “Only through reason and the scientific method can we hope to learn how the world works. No other method of gaining knowledge is reliable and all claims to knowledge not gained through this method should be considered suspect.”
    Agree or disagree? If disagree, please explain.

    Thanks!

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Or that we are a result of evolution and are a series of chemical processes and synapses?

    Oh, good grief, another one of those “chemical” people!

    That is, that there is a universal moral standard? Or do you believe our morals are derived from cultural indoctrination?

    Given the numbers of people, separated by distance, language, environment, and so forth, inevitably, humans will have developed localized moral systems. Because most of us do not live in hermetically sealed borders, cultures will interlap and fertilize one another over time through trade, migration, conquest, et cetera.

  • Elijah

    OMFG
    “But, you just got done arguing that we won’t be disturbed by it. So, which is it?”
    Sorry I didn’t clarify. I am troubled by the fact that there is a way out of that fate available to everyone and yet not everyone takes that free gift, requiring no payment of our own.

    Joffan
    “We’re the ones, us humans, deciding on our rights. The cockroaches can decide on their own rights.”
    Oh? This is not a logical situation at all. So in the beginning humans must’ve started without any decided rights. And then we came into an enlightenment and decided we should have certain rights?
    Where would this concept ever had originated? As products of chemical reactions and evolution, we could not have invented the concept of personal rights. It would be beyond our scope of understanding. We would have no value to inalienable rights. We couldn’t assign value to whats right or wrong at all subjectively.

    Tommy
    “Are we special? Yes, to us. But if we vanished tomorrow, a lot of living things on this planet, like those that live around thermal vents on the ocean floor, would never notice and just go on about their lives.

    So Tom, are you saying humans hold no value? But are just as worthwhile as say coral reef?

  • monkeymind

    “I am troubled by the fact that there is a way out of that fate available to everyone and yet not everyone takes that free gift, requiring no payment of our own.”

    OMFG is correct, we have looped around to the original question- with a variation. In heaven, the saved will have to be relieved of their compassion, or their self-righteous priggishness, according to temperament. Either way, some mind-alterations would appear to be necessary.

  • monkeymind

    “And then we came into an enlightenment and decided we should have certain rights?”

    Um, yeah, pretty much. At first, humans all lived in small bands or tribes, all calling themselves “The people” or “god’s people.” Gradually we came to believe that people in other tribes were people, too, and should be treated as such. Some people still think tribalism is still cool, though, and they scare me.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Hello Elijah,

    I am troubled by the fact that there is a way out of that fate available to everyone and yet not everyone takes that free gift, requiring no payment of our own.

    Atheists tend to think that that “free” gift isn’t free at all. It requires submission to unearned and undeserved authority, the forsaking of critical thought in favor of harmful superstition, adherence to many political positions that we find abhorrent trespasses on the liberty of others, and many other undesirable things as its purchase price. And for all you’d have to give up, we’ve seen no evidence that the promised reward even exists.

    So in the beginning humans must’ve started without any decided rights. And then we came into an enlightenment and decided we should have certain rights?

    Let me suggest an analogy:

    In the early eras of history, humans were ignorant of what foods contained the proper nutrition. As a result, we ate foods that didn’t contain all our dietary requirements for vitamins and such, and many people suffered various kinds of malnutrition brought about by those deficiencies. Later, when we began to think scientifically, we found out which foods would constitute a healthy diet. Was there no such thing as proper nutrition until we did this? Were we “inventing” the standards of nutrition?

    As products of chemical reactions and evolution, we could not have invented the concept of personal rights. It would be beyond our scope of understanding.

    Speaking as a product of chemical reactions and evolution, I disagree. There’s no reason why this concept should be any more difficult to comprehend than any other abstract concept, and we’re quite adept at coming up with those; that is one of the abilities that evolution has conferred on us.

    So Tom, are you saying humans hold no value? But are just as worthwhile as say coral reef?

    We hold value to each other. That is the only place value can exist: inside a mind. For something to be valuable, it must be valuable to someone.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    So Tom, are you saying humans hold no value? But are just as worthwhile as say coral reef?

    Thus asks Elijah after having already quoted my statement “Are we special? Yes, to us.” Palm slaps forehead.

    Let me repeat, we are valuable to each other.

    As for coral reefs, we have come to understand that they are important to our way of life. Reefs provide habitats to marine life which means we get to eat seafood and some people get to earn a living catching the marine life that we eat.

    But even if we all vanished tomorrow, coral reefs would still be valuable to the marine life that sustains them. Therefore, coral reefs have value to other forms of life independent of the fact that they are also of value to humans.

    I can’t believe I have to spell this out for you.

  • Elijah

    Ebom & Monkey on Rights
    I like your analogy Ebom. I think it fits my point of view better than yours. Lets delve into it a little deeper. Of course there were always nutritional values. But thats because there are actual tangible fruits and veggies and food of all sorts.
    Now when it comes to moral standards, you propose (ebom atleast) that they are universal, and were there the entire time. Even before we had knowledge of them. I agree completely. But the origin of these morals is where we find the fork in our little road. You have no basis for it’s origin. Why do humans at all have any special, unique value? If we are from the same pond as frogs and flowers, how can we assign any more significance to us, than to these other things?
    We cannot reasonably, and logically, assign any higher value to any one piece of matter than the other without an objective basis.
    But we do have an objective basis. That is that creator God has personally crafted all of us, and says we are of value. Yes even more valuable than coral reef.

    Ebom On Free gift
    “Atheists tend to think that that “free” gift isn’t free at all. It requires submission to unearned and undeserved authority, the forsaking of critical thought in favor of harmful superstition, adherence to many political positions that we find abhorrent trespasses on the liberty of others, and many other undesirable things as its purchase price. And for all you’d have to give up, we’ve seen no evidence that the promised reward even exists.”
    WARNING: I feel this comment requires more than a reply rooted in debate. But a statement. You’re warned, yo.
    Well if thats what I heard people say, I’d be an atheist too. (In fact for a good amount of time I was for that very reason.) But thats not at all what the bible teaches. So here’s my two cents, all of that is incorrect. The free gift I’m talking about is truly free. You don’t have to quit drinking, smoking, sleeping around, stealing, murdering, raping. (Not that I’m accusing you of that!) To some people that seems unrighteous, it’s offensive. But thats the truth. God wants a relationship with all of us. A deep, actual personal relationship. And made that possible through Christ. All we have to do for this relationship is simply ask for Christ’s death to cover all our wrongdoings. However small, however large. And thats it. Done. You gain a personal relationship with the designer and creator of all things.
    There’s no submitting to any political things. You give up NOTHING. And gain everything.
    You don’t even have to fully believe in what I’m saying. You don’t have to have all doubt wiped from your mind to have this. But if for just a moment, you think in the slightest way, it may be possible, in a million years. Then ask for it in your mind. Doesn’t have to be outloud or anything.

    What you heard from people is wrong. What I’ve said is what the bible teaches.
    Ok, enough of that. Thats the only way to answer that objection.

    Tommy & Ebom on Value
    So we only have value to us? Well you wouldn’t say we define what is true or not, right? So even if we hold ourselves valuable, it’s only that we think that and not that it’s true. That’s what you’re saying. Or am I mistaken?
    Which means, we really aren’t valuable. At all. And if we know that, why can’t we break free of it? That to me is the biggest scandal of them all if it’s true.
    We are enslaved to our own pitiful view that humans are actually valuable, when we really aren’t. You’re all about free-thought, and not being under authority. Look at us! We’re all fooled into believing there’s actual worth to a human life. Isn’t that EXACTLY what you’re proposing? That is the logical end to your presupposition that we are only valuable to ourselves.
    So what will it be, lie to yourself and me and tell me what I said is exactly what you believe, or admit that you don’t actually believe that. In which case, you need to rethink your presupposition.

    Monkey
    Are you really saying gaining knowledge is “mind altering”? Wow, thats not the definition for mentioned at all.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Elijah,

    I’m going to defer responding to the rest of your comment for now, because you raise one point that I’m curious about and would like to focus on:

    But we do have an objective basis. That is that creator God has personally crafted all of us, and says we are of value.

    So even if we hold ourselves valuable, it’s only that we think that and not that it’s true. That’s what you’re saying. Or am I mistaken?
    Which means, we really aren’t valuable. At all.

    These two quotes of yours raise an interesting contrast. You appear to be saying that if we human beings, acting collectively, proclaim that we are valuable, that’s just a comforting fiction and doesn’t really count for anything. But if God says we’re valuable, then that’s the truth and we do have value.

    So, why does this work for God but not for humans? What special power does he have that permits him to give things Real Value? What’s the difference between God proclaiming that humans are valuable, and humans proclaiming that humans are valuable?

    Also, a related question: If God created us exactly as we are now, but said that we had no value, would that be the truth? And would we be morally free to kill and maim each other, if so?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    God wants a relationship with all of us

    Elijah sets off another human egocentrism alert. Yeah, right. God created a vast universe filled with billions of galaxies just so that he can have a relationship with us. Poor Elijah can’t feel good about himself and life unless he thinks there is a an all powerful divine being that wants to be Elijah’s BFF.

    Does God want a relationship with people who are born with severe brain damage? If so, how? They are not in a position to understand Christianity and its claims. Do they go to hell when they die, or does God give them a pass?

  • monkeymind

    Elijah, the original question was from a woman who obviously cared a lot about her “unsaved” child, and worried that she would never be able to endure being in heaven if she knew her unsaved child was suffering in Hell. So she felt that the only way heaven could be heaven for her was if God wiped her memory clean of her child, but wouldn’t that violate the concept of free will?

    And her guru, instead of saying something sensible like “No one knows what happens when we die, so be sure to love your child as much as you can when you are alive” gives some kind of convoluted explanation about how God could remove her memory of her child and not violate free will.

    I don’t know if you have any kids, Elijah, but if you did you might realize how repugnant it sounds that somebody could take the memory of your child away, or that a parent could want that memory erased. Your response doesn’t make sense to me – you seem to be saying that you wouldn’t need memory of your loved ones erased, because you would know their punishment was deserved, but at the same time, you would mind that they didn’t take advantage of the free offer of salvation. But I guess, not enough to diminish your enjoyment?

  • Peter N

    Elijah,

    Thank you for taking an interest in my comments. I’m afraid I won’t be able to reply in depth for at least a day, and possibly a week, as I am heading out of town on as part of my work, to the land of uncertain internet access (and free time). So best wishes, and I’m sure my fellow commenters will keep you occupied.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Tommykey “Oh, good grief, another one of those ‘chemical’ people!”
    You just saying that because you “fizzing” differently.

    Elijah “The free gift I’m talking about is truly free. You don’t have to quit drinking, smoking, sleeping around, stealing, murdering, raping. (Not that I’m accusing you of that!) To some people that seems unrighteous, it’s offensive. But thats the truth. God wants a relationship with all of us. A deep, actual personal relationship. And made that possible through Christ. All we have to do for this relationship is simply ask for Christ’s death to cover all our wrongdoings. However small, however large. And thats it.” (emphasis mine)
    Now, I might be reading more in to that than is warranted, but why is a group that commonly posits absolute morality so willing to piss on the concept with carp like the above statement?

  • Joffan
    We’re the ones, us humans, deciding on our rights. The cockroaches can decide on their own rights.

    This is not a logical situation at all. So in the beginning humans must’ve started without any decided rights.

    “In the beginning” of our species we were already living in tribal groups and we had some ways of getting along, I’d imagine, but nothing explicit.

    And then we came into an enlightenment and decided we should have certain rights? Where would this concept ever had originated? As products of chemical reactions and evolution, we could not have invented the concept of personal rights. It would be beyond our scope of understanding. We would have no value to inalienable rights. We couldn’t assign value to whats right or wrong at all subjectively.

    Ebon has answered your incredulity in some detail above, but let me add that a study of history would be of value to you. We humans did not suddenly have an enlightenment, but gradually worked out, in practical ways, how to operate as a society and to start to avoid some wrong turns like genocidal dictators and slaves. We’re still working it out, aided by successive insights and debates by people with strong views that make for an ongoing discussion. As humans we have invented all sorts of concepts (from rice pudding to income tax) – I don’t see why this should cause you such difficulty.

  • http://theorangesashford.moonfruit.com Steve Bowen

    the origin of these morals is where we find the fork in our little road. You have no basis for it’s origin.

    Yes we do and to an extent it is back to good ‘ol evolution. Man evolved as a cooperative animal. There is nothing unique in this as many species do the same at some level. Where we find cooperative species we find the rudiments of morality (I won’t cheat if you don’t cheat, but if I catch you cheating I will punish you). This is the origin of the golden rule. Human morality seems more complex, but that is only down to the increasing complexity of the societies we have created. Old testement morality seems despicable to modern eyes, but that is because only the tribal in-group were considered. Anyone from outside the tribe was fair game to kill, maim, and rape. As society expanded and neighbouring tribes became more dependent economically and for security the in-goup also expanded and morality followed. Even by Jesus’ time, biblically, he really only considered the Jews his in-group and only “loved his neighbour” to the extent they were jewish. The more universal xian doctrine is post Paul and he had good marketing reasons for extending the in-group to be as wide as possible.
    In short there are plenty of reasons to assume morality arises naturally out of the human condition, and will continue to evolve to the extent that society does. There is no reason to appeal to gods for our sense of fairness or altruism, particularly since any god sent morality instantly falls foul of the euphythro dilemma.

  • Joffan

    Steve, I thought of a snappy way of summarizing the Euthyphro dilemma:

    When you say “God is good”, are you describing God or are you describing good?

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

    Steve already mentioned evolution, so I won’t re-tread that ground.

    I will add that Elijah seems to be going the same route as Matt Powell did recently, only over value. If we don’t have absolute value, then we supposedly have zero value? Sorry, but this is a false dichotomy.

    We should also be careful not to conflate absolute or universal with objective. They are not necessarily the same thing.

    Lastly, as monkeymind points out, we are back to the original question. Will you be bothered by people suffering in hell or won’t you? It’s very hard to imagine that any sane, rational person in heaven would not be bothered by the thought of people being torture for all eternity, unless that person’s soul were altered such that they were no longer rational or sane. I say this, because it is inherently unjust to have eternal torment for finite crimes and not rationally justifiable.

    If the heavenly are bothered by it, then it doesn’t really sound like heaven.

    Joffan,
    I like your summation of Euthyphro.

  • Steve Bowen

    Steve, I thought of a snappy way of summarizing the Euthyphro dilemma

    Not to mention the correct spelling. Edit Schmedit!!

  • Nurse Ingrid

    “What you heard from people is wrong. What I’ve said is what the bible teaches.”

    …says you…

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

    Well, I’m sure that Elijah really is Scottish and all those other Xians who interpret the Bible differently are not.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    But we do have an objective basis. That is that creator God has personally crafted all of us, and says we are of value. Yes even more valuable than coral reef.

    Did God craft the thalidomide babies?

    WARNING: I feel this comment requires more than a reply rooted in debate. But a statement. You’re warned, yo.

    Translation: “I cannot answer this charge with reason. I shall therefore dispense with such uselessness.”

    The free gift I’m talking about is truly free. You don’t have to quit drinking, smoking, sleeping around, stealing, murdering, raping. (Not that I’m accusing you of that!) To some people that seems unrighteous, it’s offensive. But thats the truth. God wants a relationship with all of us. A deep, actual personal relationship. And made that possible through Christ. All we have to do for this relationship is simply ask for Christ’s death to cover all our wrongdoings. However small, however large. And thats it. Done. You gain a personal relationship with the designer and creator of all things.
    There’s no submitting to any political things. You give up NOTHING. And gain everything.

    Such a deity, who values abject worship over rightness, is unworthy of the worship he so obviously craves.

    Ok, enough of that.

    That’s the first sensible thing in your post.

    You’re all about free-thought, and not being under authority.

    This is false. I operate under the discipline of reason, and regard myself as obligated to society at large to do so. I accept authority only when it is apparent. The very fact of proselytizing shows that religious authority isn’t ipso facto apparent.

    Look at us! We’re all fooled into believing there’s actual worth to a human life. Isn’t that EXACTLY what you’re proposing? That is the logical end to your presupposition that we are only valuable to ourselves.

    For value to be appreciated, a perceptive mind is required. We cannot be valuable to rocks. I don’t expect a fly has the mind to grasp value. My pet dog, however, is another story. We have a variety of assignable values based on the context of the judgement. Why can you seemingly not grasp that point?

    Are you really saying gaining knowledge is “mind altering”? Wow, thats not the definition for mentioned at all.

    I don’t believe monkey was attempting a definition, but rather describing a characteristic. Isn’t your mind altered by your learning?

  • Elijah

    Ebom re:value
    The difference between if God claims it, and if we claim it ourselves. Is that we as humans do not have an objective stand point to judge value. Just because I feel that I have the best sweater in the world, doesn’t make it true. I’m using subjective reasoning. I may think my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world, but clearly, I am not married to Keira Knightley. And while I may be sincere in that affection and it be true to me, it does not make it objectively true.
    God can be objective because he has created all things, and is a perfect being. He can precisely judge what is valuable or not. He knows how everything works and intended. Therefore the final arbiter of truth. If you write a mystery novel twice, you know exactly what you are trying to make, and would be able to judge which one is better than the other.

    As to your second question:
    The fact that God created us means we are valuable.

    P.S. before we move on, you still haven’t answer my reply directly. Was my summise of your stance on value correct? If not please clarify.

    Tommy
    Stunning display of intellilect, abusive comments because you cannot rationally retort. You don’t even care what my answer is to your question, so I won’t waste my time.

    Monkey: clarifying my response
    Did you read my analogy of the murder trial? I think that clarifies what I’m saying pretty well.
    Your summation of my standpoint is correct. I and my closest loved one have been found guilty of a crime and therefore deserve punishment. But we can both be pardoned if we just ask. I leap for joy, I readily accept. I tell my friend to as well. But he feels he doesn’t really deserve punishment. He admits to maybe some wrongdoing, but nothing “that bad.” So he doesn’t ask to be let off the hook.
    Now I am A) Troubled that he did take the pardon when it was freely offered. But I am not B) Angry or sad about his punishment. We both rightfully deserved it.
    Do you see how both feelings are equally possible and compatible?

    Peter
    Thats for the discussion, have a good trip. Yeah I’m sure they will, ha.

    Modusoperandi
    I agree that a lot of Christian mouthpieces are guilty of being fundamental moralists. But that is an advent of the Church, not the bible or Christanity. It’s basic people who don’t understand the concept of absolute grace, and deciding to be more rabbinic in their teaching and thus force people to live under the law of the OT.
    It’s clearly not what the NT teaches.
    Simply read Romans Chapters 3 & 4. it’s very clear that we are not morally upright. Before or after conversion.

    Steven & Joffan On the Origin of Morals
    You all seem to be missing the point. I fault myself for not being clear enough. Steven you hit it right on the head. The Golden rule metaphor. I won’t cheat on you, if you don’t cheat on me. Thats a moral statement. That statement, has no basis at all. Let me explain it as clearly as possible. If morals were up to us, if they were not imputed onto us by our creator, we would have none. We would NOT be able to DETERMINE if CHEATING was morally offensive. As evolved species from swamps, we wouldn’t even be offended by cheating, it would be just another action, there would not be a catagory for it being a party foul. You’re saying we define our morals based on what makes us feel hurt. But you see, you’re defining the “first morals,” by already existing morals! Do you see your dilemma? Morals cannot have been created, the could only have been dictated.

    Thumpalumpacus
    Ebom’s first repsonse was a direct statement about theology proper. I therefore explained it in that fashion. I put a warning up because of how biblically rooted the answer was. Seeing how a lot of people on here react to that sorta thing, I figured I’d gives a heads up. The answer is fully reasonable.

    Re:Worship -
    I didn’t mention the word worship at all, your response to my quote is absolutely irrelevant. If you want to try to refute something I say, actually refute what I’m saying. Not what your thinking. Otherwise address me with what your thinking in a question, much like Ebom or Peter did. Or do you not even what to hear what my answer would be like Tommy?

    Re: Precieved Value (aka bs)
    You’re saying a certain level of perception is require to realize we’re valuable? How can we objectively [scientifically] test that I wonder? So again you’re saying only we find ourselves valuable because we have the perceptive mind to be able to determine that we are. But rocks do not find us valuable. So, this insists the question, what makes humans be atop the heirarchy of value assessment? If we are a result of pure chance. And once we die, we are gone forever. Just like every other living species, how on earth can we REASON that we are of value?
    You see, many of you and I agree on all the same conclusions. The problem is our presuppositions are not the same. And your conclusions are not consistent with your presuppositions.

    Re: mind altering -
    The definition was describe basically in the article. That God wipes our minds of memories. Thats all. Why is this a point of contension?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Stunning display of intellilect, abusive comments because you cannot rationally retort. You don’t even care what my answer is to your question, so I won’t waste my time.

    What makes you think I don’t want to read your answers to my questions? And my questions were a form of rational retort. That you don’t like the fact that I am pointing out the underlying psychological reasons for belief is not abuse. Abuse would have been if I had called you blockhead, douchebag, moron or any other number of insults and epithets. However, you did spell “intellect” wrong.

    Let me explain it as clearly as possible. If morals were up to us, if they were not imputed onto us by our creator, we would have none. We would NOT be able to DETERMINE if CHEATING was morally offensive.

    That is just your opinion. That’s what people like you do. You try to deny your fellow human beings the right to make informed moral decisions outside of the scope of religious belief in order to delegitimize them. You want matters of morality to be your exclusive monopoly. Your kind have enjoyed that monopoly virtually unchallenged for the last 1,600 years, but now it’s starting to weaken and you can’t abide that fact.

    how on earth can we REASON that we are of value?

    It’s funny that we seem to have no problem doing so, in spite of the fact that you think we should.

  • monkeymind

    Re: feelings for the “lost” in heaven – I give up, Elijah. I guess you can either allow yourself to experience it as a problem, or you can’t. I get the feeling that the mom who asked the original question would be overjoyed to find out that after all her “lost” child could join her in heaven, whereas Elijah would be slightly pissed off that they didn’t get what they deserved.
    In any case, it’s your fictional afterlife, not mine.

  • Jim Baerg

    Steve: “Even by Jesus’ time, biblically, he really only considered the Jews his in-group and only “loved his neighbour” to the extent they were jewish. The more universal xian doctrine is post Paul and he had good marketing reasons for extending the in-group to be as wide as possible.”

    If a certain famous story was actually told by Jesus, then Jesus was a few steps better than you say.

    In the essay “Lost in non-Translation” Isaac Asimov notes that much of the point of the story of “The Good Samaritan” is lost because few later people know the context. The Samaritans were considered a bunch of nasty heretics by the Jews that Jesus was speaking to. Asimov stated that Samaritan needs to be translated to eg: nigger in the US South of more than a few decades ago, or Papist for the Northern Ireland Protestants. Samaritan needs to be translated into the name of whatever group is the hated outsider among those to whom the story is being told.

  • http://prinzler@calpoly.edu Paul

    Elijah, how do you explain moral behavior in other primates (it is well documented)? How can animals be moral if morality depends on what you say it does?

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Is anyone else as bothered as I am by the insistence of many theists that atheists cannot build a just, coherent moral system without Sky Daddy telling them what’s right and wrong? Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary? It really pisses me off that folks like Elijah would deny me moral agency. It also makes me think there’s a case of projection going on (“Without God, there’s no right or wrong, what’s to stop you from murdering people?!?” “Uh… are you saying if there were no god you’d do these things…?”). Physician, heal thyself.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    God can be objective because he has created all things, and is a perfect being. He can precisely judge what is valuable or not.

    I’m afraid that merely sidesteps my question. Even if God knows every fact that there is to know, that doesn’t automatically give him a basis on which to judge value. You still need to have a preference set by which to evaluate those facts.

    Consider: If I have a chocolate and a vanilla ice cream cone, I may know every fact there is about both of them – their ingredients, their nutritional value, how they taste – but that doesn’t tell me which one I should value more. To make that decision, I need to know something about me: namely, which flavor is my favorite.

    Well, even if there is a god, he doesn’t evade this point. Your choice of values can’t be deduced ex nihilo from the facts; it has to arise from a preference set that you already hold. That’s the essence of what I said earlier, that value doesn’t exist except within a mind. So, is there some reason why God’s preference set is the best, or is it just something he arbitrarily chose for no reason at all?

    I may think my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world, but clearly, I am not married to Keira Knightley. And while I may be sincere in that affection and it be true to me, it does not make it objectively true.

    I agree with that. But you haven’t given any reason why this same analysis would not also apply to God’s preferences.

    If you write a mystery novel twice, you know exactly what you are trying to make, and would be able to judge which one is better than the other.

    Unless someone else reads both my drafts and disagrees with me about which is the better story. Just because I’m the author doesn’t make me the final authority on that.

    As to your second question:
    The fact that God created us means we are valuable.

    Now you’re contradicting yourself, friend. First you imply that God’s valuations are the best because he knows all the facts by which to judge the relative value of things. Now you’re saying that the simple fact of God’s having created us confers us with value – which, presumably, means that everything from human beings to bacteria would be equally valuable, since we are all equally God’s creations. So which is it? Do you need to know all the facts about something to judge its value, or not?

  • http://theorangesashford.moonfruit.com Steve Bowen

    If morals were up to us, if they were not imputed onto us by our creator, we would have none. We would NOT be able to DETERMINE if CHEATING was morally offensive. As evolved species from swamps, we wouldn’t even be offended by cheating, it would be just another action, there would not be a catagory for it being a party foul. You’re saying we define our morals based on what makes us feel hurt. But you see, you’re defining the “first morals,” by already existing morals!

    The “no cheating” rule evolves as an adaptive behaviour in social animals because genes that promote it in an individual are selected for (given that an individuals reproductive success is linked to the success of the cooperating group). How that behaviour is reinforced / signalled to animals other than humans is currently moot. Does a wolf feel “guilty” if it breaks the rules, or a chimp feel “hurt” if it is cheated? We probably can’t really say. However we know that humans have evolved more complex minds, capable of higher orders of intentionality (I think that you think that she thinks etc)and that the phenotypic response in ourselves to the above events is indeed “guilt” or “hurt”. The fact that we can name these things (or for that matter call the end result “morality”)is a function of our biology and evolving minds allowing us to give things names. In this context “morality” is a reification of a logically evolved behaviour for our species, it does not need to have an independent existence outside of ourselves.

  • Amy

    Modusoperandi:
    paradoctor “The Zen monk D.T. Suzuki said that if there were a single soul in Hell then he would refuse Heaven.”
    And you can ask him about that…when you see him in hell! Take that, sinner! Also, God loves you.

    made me laugh.

    ElijahPoint 2#
    What other creature creates art for enjoyment? Self-actualization according to Maslow’s basic needs for life. But really, this is far from a need. The only needs we have or physiological and safety. This is completely innate to humans only. The ability to create and enjoy art of all kinds. This shows us that we indeed have personality.

    Ever seen the bower bird’s nest? Looks an awful lot like art to me. And who said we create art for enjoyment? Maybe we create art to get laid. Or get attention or be validated. I wonder how many people would create art if they knew no one else would ever see it.

    Don’t feel the need to respond; I’m just passing through. Nice website!

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

    As evolved species from swamps, we wouldn’t even be offended by cheating, it would be just another action, there would not be a catagory for it being a party foul.

    This is bass-ackwards. The reason we are offended by cheating is because of our evolved moral base.

    I agree that a lot of Christian mouthpieces are guilty of being fundamental moralists. But that is an advent of the Church, not the bible or Christanity.

    And again, I’m sure that you are the only Scottish Xian there is, right?

    The definition was describe basically in the article. That God wipes our minds of memories. Thats all. Why is this a point of contension?

    Because our memories are a big part of making us what/who we are. IOW, god must alter our persons into the equivalent of robots in order for us to enjoy heaven (except for maybe sociopaths that will enjoy the suffering of those who “deserve” it in hell). This is inconsistent with the idea that free will is a good thing to have.

  • Paul

    The ultimate problem with theism is that it is a necessarily failed attempt to provide ultimate answers. When Ebon above (and Euthyphro) question where God’s morality coms from, the inability of existence to provide ultimate answers is exposed. Theists try to bootstrap absolute morality through God, but it ultimately merely begs the question through a clever series of logical and grammatical sleight-of-hand moves.

    The best refutation of ultimate answers through theism is the one I’ve seen recently (here somewhere?): how can we ever know for sure that God isn’t really Satan, that anything that God says isn’t a lie for his own evil purposes? Ironically, it’s the argument from divine hiddenness (thanks, Ebon) that allows theists to imagine their ultimate answers. We can verify for usual purposes if something is true, but God’s hiddenness allows theists to imagine their ultimate answers without empirical proof *against* their claim (reversing what should have been the burden of proof).

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Ebom’s first repsonse was a direct statement about theology proper. I therefore explained it in that fashion. I put a warning up because of how biblically rooted the answer was. Seeing how a lot of people on here react to that sorta thing, I figured I’d gives a heads up. The answer is fully reasonable.

    The fact that you must resort to religion makes your argument irrational. It isn’t “reasonable”; it is self-referential. You insist that we have value because of your faith, and when pressed, point to your holy book as evidence. While that makes your argument self-congruent, it also makes it circular, and therefore unconvincing.

    Re:Worship -
    I didn’t mention the word worship at all, your response to my quote is absolutely irrelevant. If you want to try to refute something I say, actually refute what I’m saying. Not what your thinking. Otherwise address me with what your thinking in a question, much like Ebom or Peter did. Or do you not even what to hear what my answer would be like Tommy?

    The fact of the matter is that the God of the Bible demands absolute worship — self-abnegation. This is certainly a prcie to pay, a price you apparently don’t mind but one I find too costly. As such, my response is to the point, and if you cannot riposte it, you’d ought not launch personal attacks, but rather ask yourself “Why can’t I?”

    Re: Precieved Value (aka bs)
    You’re saying a certain level of perception is require to realize we’re valuable? How can we objectively [scientifically] test that I wonder?

    Go ask a rock what it thinks of you. Dissect a rock and search for its cerebral cortex. You won’t find one.

    So again you’re saying only we find ourselves valuable because we have the perceptive mind to be able to determine that we are. But rocks do not find us valuable. So, this insists the question, what makes humans be atop the heirarchy of value assessment? If we are a result of pure chance. And once we die, we are gone forever. Just like every other living species, how on earth can we REASON that we are of value?

    I did not claim that value is an objective charateristic, or a result of reasoning. My valuations of people are subjective and emotional, and I’m comfortable with that. Furthermore, I don’t think we are the result of “pure chance”. Natural selection certainly has random events, but it has a direction imposed by the environment in which it operates. Both of these arguments of yours commit the straw man fallacy.

    Finally, what does our final disposition have to do with our value as people?

    You see, many of you and I agree on all the same conclusions. The problem is our presuppositions are not the same. And your conclusions are not consistent with your presuppositions.

    Indeed, our presuppositions aren’t the same. I don’t presuppose a deity.

    Re: mind altering -
    The definition was describe basically in the article. That God wipes our minds of memories. Thats all. Why is this a point of contension?

    Because your answer to monkey (“Are you really saying gaining knowledge is “mind altering”? Wow, thats not the definition for mentioned at all.”) carries with it the inference that you don’t think the presence or absence of knowledge is mind-altering, and frankly I find that baffling, both on a material and a psychological level. Do you mean to argue that you’d love your mother just the same even if you didn’t know her?

  • Elijah

    Ebom
    Knowing everything does indicate that He has a right to judge what is of value or not. Back to the novel analogy. If you were to right it exactly how you thought it would be best (and being a perfect being who knows all, you would be right.) So if someone were to say, “well that one isn’t better than the other.” You could correct them, it’s exactly how it should be. You are the final authority.
    How does this apply to God being about to say we’re valuable? Because he created us, he designed all things, knows what true value is. It’s like if you invented a human robot, you would know the most important part of the it would be X. You’re the designer, and the inventor. Even if the robot says, no I think Y is the most important part, you stand from an objective standpoint. You would really know whats right.
    Us being God’s creation means were valuable was a short way of saying God wouldn’t make something worthless or somethign that’s a waste of time, thats all. It’s not contradicting.

    OMGF
    Why has everyone ignored my point on justice and the few analogies I’ve used? If we all are guilty and deserve a just punishment, but a pardon is made available, we would HOPE that everyone for that pardon. If they do not, we understand the sentence of judgment is warranted. Thats the simplest way to answer the original question asked of Craig.

    Thumpa-whatever
    The original statement by Ebon was a matter of biblical interpretation. Resort to religion? That was the entire basis of his response. It was a direct comment on the bible and on it’s teaching of grace. What your saying is completely mindless. If he made a comment about math, I would answer it using mathematics, not biology.

    My point about you bringing up worship, is that it’s completely irrelevant to the conversation and my post. Stop being so defensive, it’s extremely obvious that worship wasn’t even insinuated in my post, and yet you brought it up. You have no idea what you’re talking about, theologically. Now go ahead an scurry over to biblegateway and pull some obscure verse from the OT out of context and “prove” me wrong.

    It’s not a straw man in the slightest. I’m saying if you follow your presupposition to it’s logical conclusion, you cannot reasonably come into the realm of value and morality. (More on this later)
    And natural selection has absolutely no basis for being in your thesis for your origin of life account. Natural selection can only take place on living organism. I was saying, according to your presupposition, it is by complete chance we came into being. The study of abiogenesis, that is life springing from nonlife.

    Tommy
    You’re pointing out my underlying psychological reasons?
    Good lord, you sound like every christian you oppose, a complete ignorant judgment. If I were to make such a judging statement on here, I’d be burned alive with flaming comments from all the users.
    My opinion? Now, Thumpa, that definitely sounds like a cop-out because he cannot refute.

    Short essay on Human Value and Moral: Logical Conclusions
    Lets clarify the premises of this.
    A) Humans, as all other life on earth, came into existence by complete chance. Through presumably a vat of primordial soup, consisting of basic elements (o2, hydrogen, etc) that repeatedly is struck by lightning. Despite the unbelievable odds, boom, we get the first single cell organism. That, in a nut shell is abiogenesis. Life springing from Nonlife.
    B) From that organism, natural selection could then take place. Eventually animals evolved from it and from them, us.
    C) There is no designer/creator/deity
    D) Concepts such as an afterlife cannot be true because we are fully only physical beings with only one conciousness. Once our physical bodies die. We no longer exist, and by default no conciousness.

    Now, I feel like from reading a lot on this site before ever posting, this sums up some basic statements which many of you would agree with. Let me know if you feel differently. Because I cannot think anything besides those, that defines Atheism.
    After humans came on the scene (neanderthals) we somehow came up with morals. The following short essay is why, with the presuppositions stated (A, B, C, & D) This is not a logical conclusion.

    So, according to these premises, everything on earth is the result of chance and came out of chaos. If we see reality as a series of causes and effects, matter in collision with matter and energy, reacting according to natural law. If this is true, then everything that exists has been chemically determined. Chemicals and energy don’t decide what to do when they collide. They do whatever the conditions and natural laws dictate. In other words, there is a cause and effect sequence in operation wherein each event has a given result. According to this naturalistic model, there can be no outside influence (like the human mind) that is not also a part of this cause and effect chain. What we think are free thoughts on our part are really just chemical reactions in the synapses of our neurons, according to this naturalistic world view.

    If we, including our minds, are part of this cause and effect chain, all our thoughts and perceptions must be preconditioned by chemistry and physics. Why, then, would anyone with this world view think his own thought processes (themselves conditioned) could tell him anything about reality? Clearly, if we think our minds are not completely conditioned by natural law, we must presuppose the possibility that something non-material exists. We must suppose the supernatural exists.

    The fact that we use our reason to interpret reality, and the fact that we trust these conclusions also shows that we believe that there is an orderly and rational basis to the universe. Such reasoning, and such confidence in reason is consistent with theism (belief in an infinite personal God, like the God of the Bible), not with naturalism (the belief that nothing exists but matter and energy). As theists, we argue that this reasonable and orderly basis behind the universe is none other than the reasoning and personal one who created all, and is himself the ground of all being

    Morality
    When we act as though we are free choosing beings, rather than determined ones, we imply that we believe there is a basis for freedom. Again, belief in personal freedom is only consistent with theism, never with naturalism. As a theist, I argue that this basis is the eternally free and sovereignty choosing creator God who has made us in his image.

    The same goes for morality. Morality is impossible without free choice. Suppose I use a chain saw to sever someone’s head from his body. When the police come, they arrest me, not the chain saw, even though the chain saw actually did the cutting. Why shouldn’t the chain saw have to serve a prison sentence along with me?

    The answer is obvious. The chain saw is a machine, incapable of choice. It does whatever I make it do. Therefore, we ignore the saw from the standpoint of morality and go the first free-choosing being involved in the crime. Only when we are free to choose can we be held responsible morally.

    People who accept that there is such a thing as morality must also presuppose a personal basis for morals. But naturalists have no such basis in their world view. Ask yourself, “Is it morally wrong to sexually abuse 3 year olds?” “Is this purely a personal moral preference, or is there a universal moral standard at stake?” If such a moral is universal, and lies outside of the individual’s decision to make it a moral, then there must be a basis.

    If people are nothing but matter, they must do what they do because they were conditioned to do so. What other reason would there be? But if we were conditioned to do what we do, we are no more free in our choices than the chain saw. All morality disappears.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Elijah, you haven’t addressed my question. As with my ice-cream analogy, even knowing all the relevant facts doesn’t give you a basis by which to judge the value of things. You still need to have a preference set. So, I ask again: What are the contents of God’s preference set, and why should we consider his preferences to be definitive, rather than ours?

  • monkeymind

    What a normal person would feel on the day their child is executed:
    Despair, guilt, deep sense that it is a tragedy on many levels.

    What Elijah would (apparently) feel:
    “Crime must be punished, and she should have accepted the plea bargain offer instead of pleading not guilty. Oh well, I’m off to the mall!”

  • John Nernoff

    What Craig is purveying is a power play. It’s the same old priestcraft which tries to sell obedience and submission to the propaganda line (at least Isam openly admits it). Believe what I say, says the priest; I’ve won over your mind; you are weak and have fallen for it. Threats and rewards, the carrot and the stick are standard elements. It’s as old as humanity. Free will is an illusion. It devises to determine guilt and punishment for actions the priest deems acceptable or not. If you rebel (rebellion is a key word in this game — you rebel and thus are not submissive) then you get the punishment determined by the priest. Otherwise you are treated with promises, with a no money back guarantee. The priest has the ideal scam. Oh — the free will. You have none. You either follow what you have been taught (submission or rebellion) or decide based on automatic molecular (or quantum) randomness; either way you are not responsible. Either your culture or your atomic composition causes it. I can’t think of anything else.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Elijah, I repeat my questions:

    Does God want a relationship with people who are born with severe brain damage? If so, how? They are not in a position to understand Christianity and its claims. They are incapable of making the choice. Do they go to hell when they die, or does God give them a pass?

    If such a moral is universal, and lies outside of the individual’s decision to make it a moral, then there must be a basis

    The basis is its universality. Nobody wants to be raped, even people who commit rape. In a world where there is no legal sanction against rape, people will still fight back against it, and the stronger will avoid being raped by the weak. Therefore, rape is not universally applicable. It would be a matter of personal preference. But non-rape is universally applicable, precisely because nobody wants to be raped. Same applies to murder, theft, et cetera.

    But naturalists have no such basis in their world view

    Then why aren’t we all out committing crimes? You people can’t have it both ways. On the one hand, you claim, like one of Dostoevsky’s characters, that without god all things are permissible, but then when atheists behave morally and advocate good morals, we’re criticized by theists for doing so. Well, which is it, Elijah? Do you want Ebon, Thumpalumpacus, myself and the rest of the gang here to go on murder and rape sprees in order to validate your theology? Or would you rather we behave like good and moral beings even if we don’t believe in the existence of your sky daddy?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Why has everyone ignored my point on justice and the few analogies I’ve used?

    Because your analogies refer to punishing people who committed crimes against other people to justify your belief that your mental construct of a god is justified in punishing people who refuse to kowtow to it. The god you purport to worship is just that, a mental construct. You don’t have an objective moral system, you simply subscribe to someone else’s subjective moral system that is wrapped up in the guise of divine command.

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  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    I’m not going to bother discussing morality and free will with someone who is either ignoring or ignorant of the lengthy and often contentious arguments that go on amongst non-theists on this subject. If you are simply ignorant, I recommend reading Elbow Room and Consciousness Explained, both by Daniel Dennett. Or at least take something beyond a freshman philosophy course.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Tommykey “Then why aren’t we all out committing crimes?”
    Ooo! I can answer that one. We all secretly believe in the God of the Bible that we don’t believe in (see Rom1 18-20). Obviously.
    I assume there’s a good, non-obfuscating reason why nobody comes to the right answer based on General Revelation alone and why all the Special Revelations except one (more than one, really, but combined in to one book) come to a most definitely wrong answer. I assume it’s Man’s fault. It’s always Man’s fault. Stupid Man. *grumble*

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

    Why has everyone ignored my point on justice and the few analogies I’ve used? If we all are guilty and deserve a just punishment, but a pardon is made available, we would HOPE that everyone for that pardon. If they do not, we understand the sentence of judgment is warranted. Thats the simplest way to answer the original question asked of Craig.

    Oh, quite the contrary. Your points have been directly addressed by me and others. You are the one that is ignoring our points. To wit – if you are saying that we’ll be sad that people are in hell, then it won’t be eternal bliss in heaven. If you are saying that we won’t be able to be sad for those people, then it’s because god has altered who we are and has usurped free will, etc.

    The fact that we use our reason to interpret reality, and the fact that we trust these conclusions also shows that we believe that there is an orderly and rational basis to the universe.

    We accept that the universe is orderly (on a macro level) because it has consistently shown itself to be through empirical study. There’s no reason why an atheist can’t accept these conclusions.

    Such reasoning, and such confidence in reason is consistent with theism (belief in an infinite personal God, like the God of the Bible), not with naturalism (the belief that nothing exists but matter and energy). As theists, we argue that this reasonable and orderly basis behind the universe is none other than the reasoning and personal one who created all, and is himself the ground of all being

    This is only potentially true in the case of a deistic god that set the universal laws and has been hands-off ever since. With a personal god that can and has interfered with the laws of this universe, the theist can make no claims to order. Afterall, a miracle could occur at any time, right?

    When we act as though we are free choosing beings, rather than determined ones, we imply that we believe there is a basis for freedom. Again, belief in personal freedom is only consistent with theism, never with naturalism. As a theist, I argue that this basis is the eternally free and sovereignty choosing creator God who has made us in his image.

    Then perhaps you’d care to demonstrate how it is possible to have free will with an omni-max being having created the universe. Seeing as how everything that has happened or will happen was scripted from the moment god thought it up. Do you think you are free? Try doing something that wasn’t already scripted for you. But, be careful as you may prove that god is not omni-max.

    People who accept that there is such a thing as morality must also presuppose a personal basis for morals. But naturalists have no such basis in their world view. Ask yourself, “Is it morally wrong to sexually abuse 3 year olds?” “Is this purely a personal moral preference, or is there a universal moral standard at stake?” If such a moral is universal, and lies outside of the individual’s decision to make it a moral, then there must be a basis.

    The basis of our morality, as you keep ignoring, is our shared evolutionary history. We also base morality on empirical results.

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

    BTW,

    After humans came on the scene (neanderthals)

    No, that is not correct. Neanderthals were our cousins – an offshoot of the hominid line that eventually became us.

  • Maynard

    Shorter Elijah:
    Theist = God’s fault.
    Atheist = Chemistry’s fault.

  • http://theorangesashford.moonfruit.com Steve Bowen

    Elija

    Lets clarify the premises of this.
    A) Humans, as all other life on earth, came into existence by complete chance. Through presumably a vat of primordial soup, consisting of basic elements (o2, hydrogen, etc) that repeatedly is struck by lightning. Despite the unbelievable odds, boom, we get the first single cell organism. That, in a nut shell is abiogenesis. Life springing from Nonlife.
    B) From that organism, natural selection could then take place. Eventually animals evolved from it and from them, us.
    C) There is no designer/creator/deity
    D) Concepts such as an afterlife cannot be true because we are fully only physical beings with only one conciousness. Once our physical bodies die. We no longer exist, and by default no conciousness.

    Now, I feel like from reading a lot on this site before ever posting, this sums up some basic statements which many of you would agree with. Let me know if you feel differently. Because I cannot think anything besides those, that defines Atheism.
    After humans came on the scene (neanderthals) we somehow came up with morals. The following short essay is why, with the presuppositions stated (A, B, C, & D) This is not a logical conclusion.

    I have made a grave error. I had assumed since you were arguing so vehemently agains evolutionary basis for morality that you understood evolution. From the above it is apparent that you don’t. You are making the kind of crass assumptions and leaps of logic common to many creationists making your subsequent conclusions irrelevent.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Elijah –

    Invective is no substitute for thinking. If you cannot see that “value” requires a valuer, and is thus inherently subjective — subject to individual perceptions, then fine. If you honestly accept a Platonic shadow world of ideas, so be it.

    I am not going to waste my time explaining to you. To quote Robert Anton Wilson: “Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”

    Have a great day. And learn some manners.

  • Lenoxus

    The doctrine of Hell is a gift that keeps on giving. In the OP’s exchange, the real giveaway (for me anyway) is Craig’s acknowledgment that the woman would be sad to know her son was in Hell.

    If Craig truly believes the whole story, including its omnimax god, what he ought to say is “What? You don’t see the justice of Hell? You think you’d be sad that your son was being infinitely tormented for rejecting Christ? What is wrong with you? When we’re saved together, I’ll pass you some popcorn, it’ll be great.”

    In other words, the Aquinas answer, which strangely enough doesn’t work so well for us modern globalized folk who more easily see all humans as fellow beings.

  • Jeff Eyges

    As I said on Greta Christina’s blog, in a thread on this topic – Craig is an execrable piece of garbage, and he’s the best they’ve got.

    Tommykey – Rhology is a creationist and (IIRC) a college kid who thinks he invented Christian apologetics. He hasn’t got the brains his god gave an end table. He’s a joke on the atheist blogs.

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