What Does the Whole ‘Atonement’ Thing Actually Mean?

(This is a continuation of first God is Love; Christ is Pain, and then Why did Christ have to sacrifice himself?)

Here is part of how, in my book “Penguins Pain, and the Whole Shebang: Why I Do the Things I Do,” by God (as told to John Shore), I have (as a literary device only, of course) God himself answering the question, “What does the whole ‘Atonement’ thing actually mean?”:

The At One-ment (Hey! I’m hooked on phonics! Wait—no I’m not) refers to that act in which I allowed myself to get brutally murdered so that all humans could be forever cleansed of the guilt associated with the things they do or think that do not, shall we say, represent their finest moments.

I let myself be tortured to death so that you could live free of pain.

But, hey, no pressure or anything. I don’t want you worrying about it. I was glad to do it. Seriously. No problem. It was a Friday. I really didn’t have all that much to do but hang around anyway.

For three days.

I was just killing time.

Oh, don’t I just slay you?

Cuz I sure do me.

Speaking of which, why don’t we revisit the final moment of my human life as recorded in the Bible? Here’s the last of that experience, as remembered by that prophet to end all prophets, the inimitable John:

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

So. There’s that.

You know, when you’re dying from a prolonged beating while nailed to a giant wooden cross by steel spikes hammered through your hands and feet, nothing says “refreshing” like a filthy sponge full of wine vinegar being smeared all over your face.

And it leaves you feeling so dignified, too.

Ahh. Not good times.

Still, there was a job to do, and I was the man to do it. And so I did: The “it” in “It is finished” refers to the establishment of the means by which all people, forever, could have access to real and lasting salvation. I know I just said this, but if anything in the universe bears repeating, it’s that what my dying on the cross secured was the means by which, from that point on, any human being could have rinsed from their hearts and minds their guilt (however “naturally” they acquired it), which, without my divine intervention, must otherwise fester inside of them, where at best it severely undermines the quality of their lives and at worst compels them to contribute to that wretched, twisted cause which seeks to drag all of humankind down into the pits of degradation.

Do you see? I won the battle between good and evil by paying, in full, with my body, any and all karmic debt that might ever be incurred by anyone doing evil.

You might owe the phone company, the electric company, the credit card company, and your landlord. But you don’t owe me, or the world, anything. I’ve already totaled you out.

I’ve already atoned for your sins.

Which means that you and I, forever, are copasetic.

As long as you believe in me, that is. As long as you believe that as the Christ I took human form and stepped into human history for the specific purpose of removing from all people—by which I most definitely and forever mean from you personally—the debt incurred by any and all sin.

Believe that, and it’s all about you and I, friend.

Don’t, and you’re on your own.

But you believe it. You have to. Cuz you know who’s on your side, don’t you? You know who’s got you covered, don’t you? You’re feeling the love. You know you are. C’mon. Admit it. Who loves you? Who? Who cares about you? Who gave his all so you could delight in life instead of being bogged down by true existential angst?

Who’s your daddy?

That’s right: Me. The Father. Jesus. The Holy Ghost.



And what do really good fathers do? That’s right: They fork over the big bucks to cover the cost of every single thing their kids could ever think of doing.

Do you really wonder why such infinite numbers of people have always signed on for Team Jesus? Do you really think they’re all just lazy, shallow simpletons?

Well, they’re not. What they are is debt-free. Which is to say that, spiritually-speaking, they’re forgiven.


By God Almighty!


Man, I just don’t know what else you could possibly want from me.

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  • http://www.leafprobably.wordpress.com leafprobably

    I'm not religious at all, and I've never understood this bit of Christianity… Thanks for clearing it up, this explaination (both posts) were much easier to understand than some of the other stuff I've heard and read.

  • http://www.todayscoolnews.com Brian Shields

    So Harrison, again as I mentioned yesterday, it's all just a big PR stunt. The Ron Paul Blimp was unavailable that day so what the hey, let's have an old fashioned barnburner crucifixion. That will get the Goyum's attention all right. They won't forget that piece of whiz-bang.

    I will try to restate my question from yesterday in the context of John, er I mean God talking to John's, explanation today.

    This God you refer to seems stuck trying to find a good solution to a game someone else set up. Someone created the system where people need to have their guilt atoned for. Someone is making an accounting of that guilt and deciding how many calves or sheep or lambs or Son of Men will need to be slaughtered to cover that debt.

    Is God playing someone else's game? Or did He/She/It create these rules just the way he created the creeping things that creepeth upon the earth? If so, He/She/It seems to be gaming his own system. Where' the challenge in that? Indeed where's the sacrifice?

    Maybe there's an Uber-God somewhere who sets up the rules that our God has to follow. And that Uber-God had to send his son to our God's heaven to die in order that our God is free to save us? It soon degenerates into sollipsisms.

    Again I want to return to my attraction to a God of Love. I would think such a God would reward humanity for its good works, for being charitable, for doing all those things mentioned in the Beattitudes and the Sermon on the Mount.

    Murdering his son doesn't seem like the way to get into this God of Love's good graces. Expressing hatred or even disapproval towards people who don't conform to some narrow view of acceptable sexual practices and partners also seems like a bad strategy for achieving eternal salvation.

    Love one another as I have loved you (gay people included)

  • Laura

    Brian, my heart hurts for you. Seriously. I'm sorry for the ways it seems like God has been misrepresented to you, because the God I know is everything you say and at the same time nothing like you say.

    I think that the true glory of the cross is that by murdering the Son of the God of Love, that Son was able to conquer death and that, and only that, is what brings salvation.

    Christians also believe in the Holy Spirit, the third part of the trinity, and Jesus himself said that the helper (Holy Spirit) could not come unless Jesus went away (in reference to His death and resurrection).

    And as to the people who "have (a) narrow view of aceptable sexual practices and partners," I apologize for them and the hatred and disapproval they have shown you. They were wrong. You are right- we are supposed to love everybody, and despite popular opinion, there are ways to love people without loving all the things they do. (A book that is really good about this is John's book "I'm O.K.- You're Not).

  • http://yeuann.blogspot.com Abraham

    I love this quote that I read before on a Christmas card – and think it's apt for this post:

    "He came to pay a debt He didn't owe,

    because we owed a debt we couldn't pay."

  • http://www.opendiary.com/entrylist.asp?authorcode=A414735 A Thinking BUM

    "I figured that what they were all basically asking was, “What, exactly, is the atonement?” So that’s the question I promised I’d answer."

    It wasn't the question that I was basically asking, in my case at least.

    If you want to say that Jesus accepted the ending of his earthly life for an eternity of paradise and bliss, then I would call that a "trade up" rather than a sacrifice.

    So you might more accurately say,

    "Jesus improved his situation for you."


    "Jesus loved you so much, that he was willing to endure an eternity of bliss and happiness for your sake."

    I mean, I know WHY it isn't presented like this — it doesn't sound like much of a sacrifice, but it's accurate, right?

    Unless you want to say that the pain that he endured was the true sacrifice?

    In which case he could have just stubbed his toe repeatedly until the pain he suffered was "enough", right?

    And, oddly, Christians would have to be thankful that Jesus' death wasn't lethal injection, because then the "sacrifice" wouldn't have worked because he didn't feel enough pain.

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2


    I just have to jump in and comment here to start at the beginning, or at least my view gained from a consensus of many others. I think you know this one.

    God created us with free will meant to be used to love him. That's because God didn't want to force us to love him like some automan (sic). So we got willful and disobeyed God. God knew this would happen but still gives us free will for the before-stated reason. So down here God came as God/Man (Jesus) to gives us a means to get back to loving him. The rest of that has been covered a heck of a lot better above or in John's "Penguin" book that to me made Christianity and the Bible more understandable than most commentaries I've read.

    Hope that's not oversimplifying, condescending or too much of a plug for John – its just my understanding.

    And understanding God can be difficult for someone who has been chasing Him or running from Him for almost 35 years.

    To continue, a metaphor that helped bring home how incomplete my understanding is – and a lot of others' understanding as well from what I read – is a metaphor the band Daniel Amos used for it's album "Darn Floor, Big Bite." The title refers to the Gorilla Koko that used sign language to spell out "Darn Floor, Big Bite, Trouble, Trouble" after an earthquake.

    This in turn is why many turn to the Bible – some simply for a view of History while others for deeper significance – but almost all to try to understand God. They've got a spiritual question they want an answer for – as do I.


  • Harrison

    Yes, Jesus died in the way that he did in order to leave an effective and powerful impression in the human psyche, as John so accurately expresses in his post. But something that I do not think is understood, and is important to understand, is that he also had to die.

    From a consciousness point of view, Jesus simply had to die. With the knowing that he had, being amongst the people – the density of the consciousness in 30 AD – was a slow and painful experience for him much of the time. He was kind of ‘beating his head against the wall’, so to speak trying to get through to the people. It was a skilful move for him to create his death in the way that he did, to maximise the impact of his message and time spent on earth.

    Also, because Jesus entered the earth in a pure, or virginal state, which is to say with no previous experience in the earth matter, his time spent incarnate effected his being, gave him some past, and attached him to the story here on earth. But his overriding wisdom and knowledge of the divine gives him the strength to continue his work. Not until the majority of mankind gets the truth of his message can he rest. In this way, his death was in fact he beginning of his true mission.

  • Robert W. Orians

    Right on Bro. John !!! You goose-bumped me out man! I am forgiven and reconciled to Abba Father ! He loves me and died for me ! WOW!I'll never get over that ! I don't want to ever get over that . He has saved-delivered-healed and restored me and my family . He gave me beauty for ashes ! Even when I set the fire ! I'm gonna' have to stop and praise Him now folks ! Signing off , Bro. Bob

  • Laura

    I think it's too easy to fixate on the pain that Jesus suffered and not enough on His actual sacrifice. Many have made the point that Jesus could have simply "stubbed his toe enough times" to gain salvation for everyone.

    That's not true at all. Jesus suffered so that He could die in unique ways to fulfill Old Testament scriptures so that people familiar with them would recognize the Messiah. Jesus' true sacrifice was that, when He died, He was rejected by His Father (God), which is the punishment that we were all meant to bear. That's what it means when He says that He bore our sins. He took the rejection of God that was meant for us. That was His sacrifice, not the earthly pain He experienced.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    "I’m sorry for the ways it seems like God has been misrepresented to you, because the God I know is everything you say and at the same time nothing like you say."

    Well, given the fact that there are about 1,000 denominations of Christianity, let alone myriad other religions, how is anyone to know that you aren't the one who is misrepresenting some god?

  • Dan Cartwright

    I respectfully submit that it is about more than rejection – there is an element of 'just penalty' that we cannot ignore without doing damage to the whole of scripture. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). He wasn't just rejected in our place, He died in our place and suffered the just punishment for OUR sin. It goes all the way back to the atoning sacrifices offered by priests to 'cover' the sins of the people of Israel. There are over 90 uses of the term 'atonement' relating to sin in the OT. That sacrifice was temporary, while Jesus substitutionary death on our behalf was the ultimate sacrifice. It's about where we will eventually spend eternity. Personally, I find the descriptions of hell in the NT so graphic and so horrible I cannot help but believe it is real and indeed the only alternative to eternity in His presence.

    Going back to John Shore's use of the imagery of the cross, I can remember a time when the imagry of my Savior bleeding while hanging on the tree beame crystal clear, if just for a moment in my spirit. That imagry 'zoomed in' to a close look at drops of blood falling to the ground from His broken body. I saw my name on one of those drops of blood! That's how personel this is, my friends, and why I can be rather forceful sounding at times.

    John also said we must believe in that substitutionary atonement. He hit the nail on the head on that one Ping! Ping! The gospel of John is all about His divinity, the need to believe in Him (not a religious system), our inherent inability to believe without a divine 'nudge', and the assurance from His very lips that once His, we are His forever. It's an amazing book.

    The gospel (good news) that the Blble proclaims consists of two basic things – Jesus died, according to the scriptures, for OUR sin and was physically raised up, according to the scriptures, as a demonstration of being brought from death to life. Jesus' physical resurrection is a picture of OUR having been brought from total spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ when He lovingly draws us to Himself (John 6:44) and we choose to believe in the One He sent.

  • Jules

    Regarding being loved by God for good works, charity, generosity, etc. It only gets you so far. Ephesians 2 "8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

    Just how many gold stars would you need to get into heaven? 5, 10, 100, 3000? Surely if you got 2,999 you would get a shoe in right? Well, by only focusing on works, you can miss the mark 2 fold: by the fact it will never be good enough on your own terms trying to make the mark of perfection, which we can't do and also because it negates what is most important to God, which is a personal relationship with Him. He wants a relationship with you before works, not works before relationship. The works are a product of the relationship because we first love God then obey, not obey God and then love.

    In addition to this, commenting on the sacrifice of Jesus, it is also a model of what we are called to do. We are called to die to ourselves (sin natured sum bitches we are :P), to sacrifice our "old self" to recieve the gift of salvation. Jesus, God as man, died to Himself, in order to give the gift of salvation. We can't die for anybody else's salvation, nor our own.. Jesus did that. But out of love for Him, to gain access to abundant life spiritually, we die to our old self to surrender and make God the focus of our life, shifting everything into His control so that our lives become what He would make it.

    I used to struggle with the surrender part, we see overly religious zealots and want to disaccociate ourselves from the aparent slavery their religion brings. What I would want any athiest to know is this, and though it doesn't make sense, it's true for many of us.. that there is an honest freedom in giving one's life over to Christ. We are free not to worry about controlling our lives ourselves, but trusting that God will handle everything, even the small stuff. The faith in that is tricky, but can be achieved by prayerfully requesting it as well. When God is in control, and we can believe it.. man.. that's gravy. And thank the Lord for it!

  • Dan Cartwright


    It souonds like you are saying that 'works' that bring glory to God WILL result from genuine salvation – which is by believing in the One sent.

  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com/ Daniel

    John, your explanation of the atone was simply superb. Brian's game theory perspective ignores the the rule of law idea, which Laura hints at in #10. Expanding on that hint, violent criminals can do many good things for friends, family, and others. Their victims don't think so but that doesn't negate the fact people who other people harm at times they are/may/could still/still be capable of doing good to others. Because this is so, should we not demand our judges and courts to just love them anyway. You know acquit them for all the good deeds done. After all, they only killed one or two persons or maybe they just raped a few–their hormones got the best of them or maybe they robbed a couple of times because they addiction made them do it or maybe they got pissed off and beat the crap out a few obnoxious people while having a really bad day. Surely, we all can understand that. As the gospel of grace says, we are supposed love not judge what people do to each other or themselves for matter. eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we all get to go to heaven at live it up.

    I do not know of many who do not want criminals punished in some way. Most people in the land of the rule of law expect it. God is a just judge of moral crime. Jesus paid the price for that crime. Or, as John put it, "And what do really good fathers do? That’s right: They fork over the big bucks to cover the cost of every single thing their kids could ever think of doing." God's only begotten was the price God had to pay for the debt owed of our moral crimes. Those who take this gift of God''s love are "debt-free. Which is to say that, spiritually speaking, they’re forgiven."

    Now, good works add up to present and future benefits or blessing not a hoped for acceptance of God. Once cleansed from our guilt and the burden of guilt is off our backs, we are free to love God without continually violating that love. When we again violate the law of God, the same atonement applies as long as we acknowledge our moral crime and ask for forgiveness and honestly intend never to do it again. The beautiful thing is when we do all of the right things and still continually repeat what we know is wrong God's intervenes to free us from the internal problem keeping us from doing we know is right and are trying to do. That is when we acknowledge it is his responsibility to enable us to do what the law require i.e., what's right.

  • Dan Cartwright

    Pardon my spelling error above. BTW Jules, the freedom issue is HUGE – the greatest being that in Christ we are free from the bondage of sin while everyone who is apart from Christ remain in bondage. Another result of believing in the atonement.

  • Dan Cartwright


    Did Jesus just pay for 'moral crime', or did He pay for the very fallen nature of mankind (that's the DEAD in sin bit). In other words, did the atonement just cover 'things' we do or was there more?

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    I love Penguins. So does my daughter and son-in-law. It is funny and poignant. But if it doesn't work for you, as C.S. Lewis says, just throw it away, ignore it. Move on to another explanation, another response. There is no formula; there cannot be. We (the church) try at times to create a formulaic method but it always fails. All explanations and responses left me dissatisfied and disinterested for the first 39 years.

    C. S. Lewis addresses this same question in his book Mere Christianity. Its not hysterically funny like Penguins but it is another explanation. I respond to this question in different poems like, Our Turn, which is also not hysterically funny. The sacrifice sounds like something completely absurd, which happens to be the title of yet another non-hysterical poem. Others have added some responses in the comments here. And of course Christians believe God responds in the bible… sort of my last but not least shameless plug.

  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com/ Daniel


    I think Jesus paid for sin so that God could restore or renew our nature as we learn what that is and how to live in right relationship with God. The whole born-again thing is not so much about a new nature as much as it is a new relationship–one with the Creator–resulting in a new way of life.

    I define life as relationship because death is essentially severed relationships. Not only does this new relationship often result in a restored life physically i.e., healing, but it also often results in restored relationships with other people as well as in the formation of new relationships, which good relationships add much to life.

    Atonement make its possible for God to do so while satisfying justice and maintaining holiness.

  • Dan Cartwright


    "We (the church) try at times to create a formulaic method but it always fails." Good point, if you mean man's methods always fail. God's word is however, truth, and His method (providing atonement for our sin through the death of His Son) is sure and certain when we believe. Through the years the written word has never failed. I attribute that to the indwelling Holy Spirit (result of believing in the Atonement) who sorts out what is God's and what is merely man's method.


    Don't our new nature in Christ and our relationship with Christ go hand-in-hand? 2 Corinthians 5 is all about being a new creation, reconciled to God through the death of His Son. I would emphasize being a new creation with a new nature over relationship because the new birth in Christ reconciles us to God. Even apart from Christ we have a 'relationship' with God – that of being in rebellion against Him.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    First I love the word copacetic. It's fun to say and a cool idea too.

    Now-God did not demand the sacrifice of His son. Christ was given a choice. Very much like we are given choices every day. It is called free will and many of us tend to make the most of it (not necessarily the best) as samwrites2 pointed out.

    But I believe free will also goes a long way in explaining the abundance of evil in the world. Evil is introduced into the world by humans. By the choices we make. By the use of our free will. Our choices to ignore the things damage and pain caused in the world. Our choice to cause the damage and pain.

    The whole thing for me boils down to two images: God's grace for me, a sinner, and his kneeling down to embrace me; and the love and grace that I must share with the world around me, whether I agree with you or not.

  • http://www.todayscoolnews.com Brian Shields

    Daniel: In the criminal courts, I know who creates the laws. It's the legislature. If I disagree that smoking pot or having sex with a guy or any other behavior should be criminal, I have the ability to campaign to change the law. If we as a society decide through our legislature in a democracy that certain acts should have certain consequences, I'm fine with the idea of punishment for overstepping the boundaries that we have clearly created.

    No one has addressed my core question. Who sets the rules that your God has to follow? Who says atonement is necessary? Who defines sin? Is it some innate rule of nature that applies to both God and us? Or did God set up these game rules and is now going through the motions of "fulfilling" them? Again if he's gaming his own system, it hardly seems like a sacrifice. Indeed, it feels like he's just playing cruel mind games with us.

  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com/ Daniel


    True relationships are not one sided. With a genuine relationship God through Christ no new creation can exist. Moreover, judicial standing because of Jesus' atoning sacrifice renders us righteous before God, but becoming like Christ who is perfectly like God is a process over time.

    If we have a new nature because of a new creation, what kind of creature are we? If we are all descendants of Adam, are we not all spirits manifested physically (psychologically and socially) reflecting the image and likeness of God? If so, what's new out our redeemed nature?

  • http://www.unscrewingtheinscrutable.com Brent Rasmussen

    No one has addressed my core question.

    And no one ever will, Brian. To do so removes the flowery language (or in John's case, the home-spun folksy language) that serves to obfuscate what is at its center an un-answerable dilemma for not only Christianity, but for religion in general, when you get right down to it.

    My advice? Don't expect much, because the answer to your question does not exist. You may as well ask them how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. As silly as that question sounds, it was once a hotly-contested theological argument within the Christian religion. Atonement is the same thing – it just sounds more erudite and learned.

  • Dan Cartwright


    All of your questins are answered inGod's inspired word, the Bible. It will tell you who sets the rules – God. He has defined sin, put in motion the atoning sacrifice of His own Son and He is not 'gaming His own system'. If you are seriously seeking answers, read The Bible and you will find them. Actually a better way of saying it would be that if you trully seek God, He will find you. Jesus said He came to seek and save the lost (Lukle 19:10) If you are merely trying to justify your own unbelief, rave on, but you will never succeed. As I mentioned before, there is no true atheist – we all know of the existence of God (Romans 1 and Psalm 14).

  • Dan Cartwright


    I could try and answer that for you, but the Apostle Paul does a much better job than I could. I suggest you read the Book of Ephesians for yourself and ask God to make it real to you.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse


    Why do you assume Brent hasn't read the bible?

    I have. More than once. And have consistently found its ability to answer questions wanting.

  • Instrumann

    Jesus died because he kicked the money changers out of the temple. The Jews at the time didn't like that. Afterwards, to glorify his death and to try to make it seem like a huge sacrifice for humanity people started saying stuff like "he died for the sins of mankind".

    In short, he did not have to die for the sins of mankind, he had to die because he pissed a lot of people off. That's just how they did things back then.

  • http://www.unscrewingtheinscrutable.com Brent Rasmussen

    I re-read the bible about once a year. I've got 7 or 8 different translations on my bookshelf. I also read other religion's holy books.

    But no answers there, really. You have to swallow the initial premise first before you can begin "answering questions" with a circularly referential collection of fables, myths, and just-so stories.

    Using your faith's holy book to explain the intricate theological doctrines of your religion doesn't lead to answers – just to more questions. It's completely pointless.

    It's like a Harry Potter fan debating with other Harry Potter fans about whether or not mudbloods can truly become powerful Wizards, or if they can only be weak shadows of trueblood Wizards – and using the Harry Potter series of books to "prove" this point or that point. Blah, blah, blah, ad naseaum.

    Someone who has read the books, but isn't a fanatic about them, can step back a few paces and say, "you know of course that none of this is real, right?"

    You know of course that none of this is real, right?

  • Dan Cartwright


    You are reading into my comment. Mind reader, are you? Congratulations – I flunked that course. I merely made a suggestion. The only worthy answers I have originate from the Bible anyway. I personally like the book of Ephesians for having so many answers.

    Since you did not ask a question I will not offer an answer to your being unable to find answers therein. I do seem to recall from the 6th and 10th chapters of John there sometimes a case of inability to 'hear' and a need for 'enablement'.

  • http://www.todayscoolnews.com Brian Shields

    I have read the Bible and it offers answers to Sumbunall questions.

    I think Bertrand Russel had it about right when he suggested that a truly loving God wouldn't give us a book with all of the answers in it. He would be more likely to say "I gave you a brain, now figure it out yourselves."

  • Jules

    Did I forget to mention one fact I'm sure of? This argument will go on until beyond the cows coming home and being tipped in the middle of the night. If anybody is genuine in their pursuit of truth with openess, I'm sure truth will be revealed. If anybody is just trying to read the bible only to find contradictions, instead of truthful tapestry, they may have a hard time finding what is actually there for people to gain from it. I can understand the "contradictions" being something that trips us up. For example, there's polygamy in the old testament and yet we know it's one man and one woman. Some might look at that and say "HAH!! SEE.. that's contradictory!" But what you have to understand is that it's there for information purposes, just like the news tells you some Mormons have more than one wife, and it's also there to tell you, if you read further to see what happens to people with more than one wife, like Soloman, is that he fell victim to the consequences of the sins he committed by having the many wives. See? It teaches, if you look hard enough, that because of his free will, to disobey and marry many times, that things got very hard for him because of it.

  • Dan Cartwright

    The doctrines of the Bible have seemed crystal clear to millions of believers who have believed in the Atonement. It is not necessary to try and understand with human logic before believing anything, in fact that is a fairly useless pursuit. However when 'belief' happens as a result of God drawing the sinner to Himself and that lost sinner hearing the preaching of the word and deciding for Christ, the eyes can see, the ears can hear and in comes understanding when none was possible before.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    "The doctrines of the Bible have seemed crystal clear to millions of believers who have believed in the Atonement"

    In all seriousness…how does that statement mesh with reality?

    You and John can't even agree what is "crystal clear" in the bible, and both of you are Christians.

  • Dan Cartwright

    I think John and I are in total agreement concerning the necessity and fact of the atonement, although we approach it from slightly different perspectives, perhaps.

    That aside, my last comment went to the fact of millions having received the benefits of the Atonement of Christ and are secure in their standing with God through His Son. If there are other points that we seem to not agree upon, I ocan only offer that if we are new creatures in Christ, we still live in sin-trained carcasses, and that far greater men of God have railed to be in agreement concerning every point of doctrine. The Apostle Paul even addressed that issue and urged believers in his day to get past non-essentials and live peacably together in unity of Spirit. DIfferences of opinion or interpretation do not make the truth any less truthful. It only goes to human frailty.

  • http://www.unscrewingtheinscrutable.com Brent Rasmussen

    Of heads and pins and angels, and the dancing thereof.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    "we still live in sin-trained carcasses"

    Wow. I'm terribly sorry that you, or anyone, hates humanity so. And I mean that seriously. It genuinely makes me sad to read things like that.

  • Dan Cartwright

    Nice comment, Jules – 'truthful tapestry' is a good description. The longer I keep kicking around and reading it, the more beautiful the tapestry becomes. Maybe that's because God knows we couldn't handle ALL the truth at a single sitting and why He reveals Himself at a pace we can handle at any given moment in time. It's like these awesome WOW!!!! moments are sprinkled across the landscape of our lives and at times, the sort of moment we need when the enemy comes in to steal our joy.

  • Dan Cartwright

    Not my idea, Morse – just what the Bible has to say about fallen humanity. It's not a matter of hating humanity. It's a matter of realizing the true state of humanity since the Fall of man. I can also say with confidence that God's love and grace are just all that much more precious when one realizes the depths from which he/she has been rescued. I don't fiind an occasion for sadness, but one of rejoicing that I am no longer DEAD in sin, but alove in Christ!

  • Deborah

    Thanks everyone! Some of the best and brightest discourse on this topic I have read. And a perfect opportunity for me to use for discussion among my non-Christian friends.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    And Dan, life and this world is all that much more precious when one realizes that there is no paradise we get to escape to after death.

  • Dan Cartwright

    Actually that was 'alive' in Christ, as in the following from Ephesians, chapter 2:

    "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."

    Not just alive, but alive in Christ with an inheritence that cannot be matched by anything this world has to offer!

  • Dan Cartwright

    Well, Les it seems that you have grasped some of the facts of the whole sacrifice/atonement thing but somehow missed the truth of it. I kind of reminds me of some folks who observed the miracles that Jesus performed but couldn't see the truth in them either (that Jesus came from God). If you really want to know what it is all about, why don't you ask God about it. He might tell you. No amount of words from any person in here can give you a sense of the truth of it, no matter how well it is explained. Interesting thing though – even if the words of mere mortals butcher the truth of it, His spirit can enlighten yours and the truth will become plain.

  • Dan Cartwright

    Gentlemen, apart from Christ we stand condemned already. Not my opinion, but words of Jesus (John 3:18). Love can and does include judgement, but 'right judgment' (Matthew 7). I totally missed the meaning of God 'gaming' anything. I don't see Him playing any sort of game with mankind, or with Himself, for that matter. It is definitely correct to say that God didn't need anyones opinion/permission to do anything. Perhaps the greatest mystery is how God cold oove those who are by nature objects of his own wrath (Romans 5:9).

    Great verses from Romans 8! Here's something to think about. The ability to truly Love God and others (given to us by Him) pretty much transcends the law as handed down in the Big 10. The first ones deal with loving God (verticle) and the rest deal with loving each other (horizontal). When we are in Christ we can focus on two instead of ten!

  • Dan Cartwright


    It's been a good day of discussion and thanks for putting up with a crusty old retired soldier!

  • http://www.considerjesus.wordpress.com Michelle

    He had to be sacrificed to inaugurate a New Covenant – without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. He became our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, who was a king and a priest of the Most High God.

    He is our High Priest who completely “gets us”. I can go to Him with my weaknesses and He understands what I’m feeling. He knows what it is to be confined to the flesh. He experienced the flesh, with all its weaknesses, yet overcame the world. It really is beautiful. I mean, think about it, if I were the creator of a new breed of insect and I loved that breed above all others, and wanted that breed to be able to enjoy me too…but the bugs were not able to obey my laws as ruler over them…Would I be willing to become a bug in order to have fellowship? Wouldn’t it be a huge sacrifice on my part to leave my comfortable suburban lifestyle to live among the bugs? (I know it’s a pathetic analogy, but work with me here)

    To leave the splendor of heaven,

    the cosmos moving at your whim,

    speak and new worlds come into existence,

    angels continually singing your praises because of your awesome beauty,

    so magnificent is your glory that the beings of heaven hide their faces in worship…

    the words are too inadequate to express what it must have been for Him to give up so much to be one of us. And yet He sacrificed it all to experience life among us – to feel the limitations of being human. And then to endure the worst torture man could know…

    I call that sacrifice.

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Dan Cartwright, Jules (I think) and others who have given a similar answer, i.e. "If you read the Bible with an open heart" or "If you search for God you will find him" or something like that:

    Don't you understand that a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddha, or any follower of a religion with a holy book, can make the exact same claim, and with the exact same force as you? All you are saying is that if we are willing to turn our brains off, ignore common sense, and give one heapin' helpin' of the benefit of the doubt to your holy book (but only yours, of course) then we'll find exactly what you've found.

    And as someone else pointed out, you all can't even completely agree on what you've found. But it's there, by golly.

  • http://crumblestone.wordpress.com snowhite197

    I think daniel (45) gave the best answer to this question. props to him for actually having the guts to consider and answer it.

  • http://stupidevilbastard.com/ Les

    So I’ve sat here and read through all the responses and I still haven’t seen a proper answer to the simple question of what, exactly, was the sacrifice Jesus made?

    There was a lot of talk about the atonement and how Jesus supposedly “died” and suffered “God’s rejection” yet last I recall from my time reading the Bible, Christ isn’t sitting in Hell, but is kicking back in Heaven.

    It’s difficult to see how a God who allows himself to die to appease his anger at his own creation is in any real way sacrificing anything at all when he doesn’t stay dead or in someway lose that part of himself that he sacrificed. It seems more like a pointless melodrama designed to impress the easily impressed, but which really serves no real purpose. What, exactly, has God given up for our benefit? Near as I can tell, nothing. It’s not a sacrifice if you don’t lose something in the process.

  • Chris Warner-Carey

    Forgive the length–this is part of a sermon I preach during Passion Week. Some people explain Jesus’ death by saying that Jesus had to die for our sins, typically understood to mean that God needed Jesus’ bloody horrific death as an atonement, as some kind of payment to balance the cosmic books, or the medieval notion that the crucifixion was needed to satisfy God’s ego and honor. This understanding of Jesus’ death seems to imply that it was God’s doing—that God, so angered by human sin needed a sacrifice to be appeased, lest He smite all of humanity. While there are scripture references that have been used to support this view, there have always been a minority of the faithful who reject this scheme of cosmic justice. technically called substitutionary atonement—Jesus takes the penalty of our sins upon himself, in place of us. I believe Jesus died as a consequence of sin, but I do not believe that Jesus died as payment for sin. I have a serious problem with that understanding of the death of Jesus–The problem with that is this makes God responsible for the death of Jesus; it is God who kills Jesus. Human beings were merely acting as puppets in God’s hands, from Judas to Pilate and the Jewish council—all controlled by God. God is the one who is making things happen so that Jesus would end up on the cross.

    NO! God does not demand or orchestrate the death of Jesus—we do. It is human beings just like us good folks that make decisions about Jesus. It is human beings, all of us– who demand Jesus’ death because we live in a culture of death that never hesitates to use violence and bloodshed to get what we want. All of human history attests to this reality—violence works—the powers of the world-which means us—the powers of the world always get what we want through violence—nations are built, resources are secured, peoples are enslaved, economies grow—all through violence. And so, it makes perfect sense that we would once again turn to violence as the easy, cost effective solution to the problem of Jesus. Yes, Jesus is a problem for us. The problem with Jesus was that he wanted to reclaim the world for God; he wanted to move humanity from a system where violence and death is business as usual, to a world of mutual relationships, a community of justice, love and peace. Jesus was making demands on us that we simply could not tolerate—Jesus was demanding that we turn away from seeing ourselves as the center of the universe and instead turn to the creator of the universe as the source and ground of our lives—it is a question of loyalty, of lordship—do we follow our own selfish wills, do we continue to participate in and believe the great lie of the deceiver, or do we follow the Lord of life? That challenge to our individuality, to our self-justifying way of dealing with others could not be tolerated. And so the powers of the day killed Jesus on our behalf.

    And God lets them. Why? God seems weak, powerless, and vulnerable. By our human standards, God seems to be absent. By human standards. The truth is, the power of God is present—but in a way that seems foolish to us. The cross of Christ reveals a God who has so loved the world that he has given himself to us in the person of his Son. Where there is love, there is vulnerability. There are risks involved in love. It takes a certain kind of power, a certain kind of strength to love this much—only God is capable of this kind of power and love. So where is this power of God made known? So where is God when a righteous Son is gasping for air on a Roman cross? Why is God silent? Why does he not send ten thousand angels and show the world what power really is? God remains silent until the fury of human defiance and sin runs its course. After the well-oiled machine of the culture of death has done its worst, when the life of the Son of God is snuffed out, it is then that God speaks. God speaks loud and clear. God speaks not in vengeance, in counter-attack or destruction. God does not kill Pilate, the Roman soldiers, the high priests and the passers-by. Instead, God splits a curtain in the Temple—an unmistakable sign that God has now and forever removed any barrier between himself and humanity—Through Christ, God becomes open and available to the world. God splits rocks, shakes the world, opens tombs and lets the saints out of their graves. It is at that point that the Roman soldiers realize how pitiful and puny they are and all their bravado and empty courage melts and they gasp, "Truly this man was God’s Son!" God acts in strange ways. The final act in this passion play is the resurrection—Jesus’ vindication and God’s declaration that death no longer has the last word—that love is stronger than death.

  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com/ Daniel


    I see what you’re getting at. I agree; God is gaming his own rule of law and fulfilling them. As far as I can tell, God-Creator never sought the opinion of anyone on what nature should be like, what laws would governed it, what processes would produce these, or how to deal with problems when they occurred.

    Depending on one’s perspective, it could seem like playing mind games with us.

    I agree that what changes lives is not hate or condemnation but love.

    God’s love is based on law, justice, and holiness as well. Grace is not tolerance. Love is not non-judgment. God is enabled to fully love moral criminals without condemning us because our crimes have been paid by His Son suffering and death.

    However, moral criminals cannot realize God’s loving grace until they acknowledge their need for his atonement and empowerment enabling them overcome their moral and behavioral bondages as well as to consistently live according to the moral law of God.

    As Paul said, we are freed from the law of sin to fulfill the requirement of God’s law (Rom. 8:1-4). If we love God and love others, we fulfill the law of God. (Mat. 22:37-40; Rom. 13:8-10) Jesus still lives help us do just that.

  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com/ Daniel

    Rob makes a good point about other religions. My understanding is that the founders experience the reality of God and it forever changed their lives, and they helped changed their culture for the better as a result. Having talked with a few Hindus and Muslims, the significant difference is the means of acceptance with God. It all depends on what I must do to earn it in those religions versus what God did and still does for us to enable us to be and do what He wills.

    An Egyptian Muslim business man was in a hospital with life threatening form of shingles all over his head and face. I have seen pictures of him in the hospital. He prayed for God's help but no help came. However, he says Jesus came into his hospital room, talked to him, and healed him. He changed his mind about Jesus and Christianity. He now pastors a church in Oklahoma.

  • K.


    First let me say, "thank you" for trying to answer to the the question posed to you. It is a question that I find most Christians shirk.

    However, I still find the answer lacking. I still can't see how "God" letting part of his self being tortured for a couple of days in exchange for returning to a heavenly existence relives us from our "sins".

    It seems to me that Job is by far a better example.Here was a man who lost everything and and yet held to his beliefs. He lost his wife, his children and his health in a cosmic pissing contest between God and Satan.

    Job had no choice, no free will, he was a simple victim in a cosmic struggle between two powers that where beyond his compensation.

    How is Jesus's suffering greater than his?


  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Daniel: an anecdote about some Muslim claiming to have been saved by Jesus doesn't address the point at all. Followers of all religions have claims of how their god has changed their lives in some way. Why should anecdotes about your religion be any more compelling than the others?

    And you didn't address the question I asked, anyway. If an open heart and willingness to believe are all that's needed to accept what your book claims, why isn't it enough to accept the claims of other books. If you didn't already have a Christian bias, you could read any religious writing with the same frame of mind and become just as certain that it holds the truth as you are about the Bible.

    People claim that they did read the other books with the same open heart, but since they didn't accept them as the truth, it's obvious that they really didn't read it that way. They read the Qu'ran, for instance, merely looking for inconsistencies. They wanted to be convinced that the veda did not lead them to god(s), so they remained unconvinced.

    If you can plead that for the Bible, why can't the same thing be said of the other books?

  • http://www.cmfhq.org Dan Cartwright

    There was a fellow named Paul – a religious leader in His time with the equivalent of probably three Masters degrees who kept the gospel simple and, in fact, wasn't given to much argument on the matter of the atonement, although he could probably hammer us into the ground, intellectually speaking of course. To at least one of the churches he founded, he felt it necessary to emphasize the core of the gospel (good news) on more than one occasion, maybe because folks back then were as much prone to argument as we are today. Paul would tell us this:

    "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 (NIV)

    And he was talking to 'church' folk! It is instructive to note that both Jesus' death and physical resurrection are well attested to historical events. Paul even mentions his burial as evidence he did indeed die (they were not in the habit of burying live folks) and his having been seen by many as evidence of his resurrection. His death having been God's action on our behalf to atone for OUR sin (penal substitution) is a doctrine well substantiated by the whole of scripture (OT and NT).

    We can have our little pseudo-intellectual jousting matches all day long, but in the end it is not a matter of debate and all of our human musings mean nothing to God. Jesus died for what the whole of inspired scripture says he died – for OUR sin, in OUR place. That's it, folks.

    Please don't take it personally if any of this rubs you the wrong way. I remember well the time in my life when I embraced all sorts of 'religious' lies and even called myself an agnostic (I was never brave enough to think I was an atheist). But there came a time in my life much like the time in John Shore's life when I realized (with a little help from a divine nudge – John 6:44) that it's all true – the atonement thing.

    John Shore – Thanks for being a great host!

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Will anyone other than Dan Cartwright attempt to answer my question? It's apparent that he still doesn't understand what I'm asking for, or isn't willing to address it. If you don't understand my point, just ask and I'll attempt to clarify it.

  • born4battle

    Instrumann, Why are you here, except to get your little God-hating rant on? We were trying to discuss the Atonement.

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Born4Battle and WineyMomma: My question is mostly addressed to those who tell us Atheists to read the Bible "honestly" and we'll understand all. When we explain that we've read the Bible (as most of us have) and remain unconvinced, we're told (as Dan Cartwright and Jules did earlier in this thread) that we didn't read it right somehow. Our hearts weren't open, or we were too prideful, or we were just nitpicking it, looking for errors.

    That you are convinced that the Bible is the word of god is fine and all, but you have no way (outside of what the Bible tells you) of knowing that your Bible is any more special than the other religious books. Christianity is not unique in having a savior, but even if it were, so what? Why assume the presence of a savior or the issue of atonement is required in order to be the "true religion"? Because your Bible says it is? That's the same special pleading that I'm trying to get you to address in the first place.

    I apologize that this is really outside the topic of atonement, and if you want to focus on that issue I understand. My question was specifically addressed to DC and Jules, based on answers they themselves gave earlier.

  • http://www.atheistjournal.com/ccmclaugh Christopher McLaughl

    Instrumann, you are being uncharitable.

    The answer to you question, "How can otherwise intelligent, sane people believe in magic and fairy tales?" is that some folks don't yet know all of the story. And some of them are not inclined to know or acknowledge all of the information that contradicts their belief. ("…it is always exhausting to be in this type of debate." – Jules).

    Some people use a unique standard of evidence for their religious belief, that is separate from their evidential standards for other beliefs. For instance, some people convince themselves that their holy text is not subject to the same standards of evidence as other texts. This is definitional irrationality, and thus cannot be reasoned with.

    I am reminded of a recent psychological experiment that proved that people tend to prefer dubious explanations over uncertainty. What could be simpler to explain life, the universe, and everything, than god?

    I must confess that as an atheist (irony?), I much prefer the simple formulation that THERE ARE NO GODS. In reality, I should more accurately be self-described as an agnostic. It would be foolish of me to not consider the possibility of the existence of gods. I must, in all rationality, concede that if presented with satisfactory evidence, that I will believe in what is proven to me.

    So far, the evidence for the existence of gods is on par with the evidence for the existence of all sorts of other things that we can be reasonably certain do not exist. There are many religious texts that describe all manner of fantastical things in great detail. To hold up one holy text above the others requires a leap of faith that cannot be rationally legitimated.

    Let us say fairly that god-belief requires a certain amount of unfounded faith. If we take the rational exploration of any religion to it's final conclusion, we are left doubting the truth of any religion and of any god. And this website seems dedicated to following rationality only so far.

  • Skip Sohrweid

    I just have to say this!!! I believe in you and your right to the First Amendment, however, I do know this:

    JESUS DIED SO THAT I ( and your) CAN LIVE FOR ALL ETERNITY. God says it and that does it !!!!


  • http://www.atheistjournal.com/ccmclaugh Christopher McLaughl

    Very funny. Now post under your real name, Dr. Dawkins.

  • born4battle

    There is no arguing with gross unbelief. Jesus went through that, using every 'logical' argument possible, yet unbelief persisted. Even informing 'religious' leaders in his day that their only spiritual father was the devil didn't cause them to reconsider their position. I cannot, nor will I judge any man's spiritual state. However, if the scripture I offer judges, so be it. I can do nothing else but offer truth and pray that God will open eyes to see, ears to hear, and turn hearts toward Himself.

  • born4battle

    My arguments don't count. I just refrain from using them because God can speak for himself and has.

    Gross unbelief: That of the many of the religious leaders of Jesus' time and that in which many today find themselve. That which will attack anyone who dares share the truth of scripture rather than consider the claims of Christ. And in some cases, that which will only lead to an eternity separated from the very God of creation, who sent His Son to die for the sin of mankind. But don't take it personal. Consider this:

    "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.' (1Cor. 1:18)

  • Cliverty

    Les posts —

    [quote] ——————————————-

    So I’ve sat here and read through all the responses and I still haven’t seen a proper answer to the simple question of what, exactly, was the sacrifice Jesus made?

    There was a lot of talk about the atonement and how Jesus supposedly “died” and suffered “God’s rejection” yet last I recall from my time reading the Bible, Christ isn’t sitting in Hell, but is kicking back in Heaven.

    It’s difficult to see how a God who allows himself to die to appease his anger at his own creation is in any real way sacrificing anything at all when he doesn’t stay dead or in someway lose that part of himself that he sacrificed. It seems more like a pointless melodrama


    1. Christ did not die "to appease God". RATHER "God so LOVED that He gave"!! John 3:16.

    (In fact Christ prays 3 times to the Father "IF it be possible let this cup pass from Me".

    2. God is BOTH "King of the Universe" (and so – Law giver) AND "Savior of the World". God's "solution" for saving mankind does not violate His Justice or His mercy. It is a "perfect solution".

    3. God created man in a sinless, flawless, deathless peaceful environment in perfect harmony with his Creator and with fREE WILL.

    4. Man chose to sin – to rebell against his maker and Lord, and so doomed mankind to the LAW's penalty – the 2nd death (see Rev 20 for details). God then chose to SAVE mankind by paying the debt WE owe – but NOT in a "gorcery store model" rather God chose an "ATONEMENT MODEL" as HE defines in Lev 16.

    5. That means that God assignes an exact finiite debt of suffering and torement for EACH and EVERY sin that we commit and the EXACT amount owed by all sins of all humans in all of time was then heaped upon Christ starting in Gethsemane where He sweats great drops of blood in agony and where He said "My soul is sorrowful even unto death".

    It is a supernatural payment that is made. The suffering owed by all humans for sins they committed in all of time. Infinite God alone COULD have the capacity to SUFFER to such an extent.

    What you "see" in the passion is merely the outward "form" not the true depth of the payment.

    in Christ,


  • Cliverty

    One more point — when the penalty demanded by law is paid – rather than simply telling the criminal "get out of jail free" then the Law is being UPHELD and "established" not bypassed and ignored.

    in Romans 3:31 Paul says "Do we then make void the Law of God by our faith? God forbid!! In fact we ESTABLISH the Law"


  • http://www.atheistjournal.com/ccmclaugh Christopher McLaughl

    Consider this:

    Your holy text is written by anonymous Bronze Age primitives, and it's books were prejudicially selected and erroneously translated over the millennia since.

    One should be more skeptical before basing one's belief system on a text of such a dubious, convoluted, and self-contradictory nature. There are Eastern religions that have more coherent texts. At least Mormons, Christian Scientists, and Scientologists have texts written by people who knew that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not the other way around.

    It baffles me that people can take any of that stuff seriously. Come on people. The truth is out there if you care to look.

  • born4battle


    “If you can plead that for the Bible, why can’t the same thing be said of the other books?”

    Perhaps I don’t understand your question, Rob. I was trying to stick with the subject of atonement. In that vein, none of the other ‘religions’, ‘books’ or ‘belief systems’ have a Savior, who died in the polace of sinful men, but are ALL based on ‘working’ one’s way to heaven/paradise/nirvana/wherever. The difference is this ‘atonement’ we have been discussing. Man can and will never be ‘good enough’ to make it. The God of the Bible demands total perfection, absolute sinlessness. Jesus lived a sinless life and was able to present himself in a state of perfection as the ultimate sacrifice for sin of mankind. As believers, although we still have sin in our lives, Christ represents us to the Father through His death and resurrection.

    I can and will plead the Bible because it is THE truth. Jesus said “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life. Outside of Christ there is no spiritual life for mortal man. A religion without the Christ of the Bible is a lie. It sounds hard, but Jesus even told the ‘religious’ leaders of His day they didn’t even serve the God they claimed as their father.

    And by the way, my own journey took me into a lot of the false religions – child of the 60’s and all. I am so glad He is a patient God!

    Over at the main blog, Andy summed it up pretty well without all the scripture verses to which I have a tendency to refer.

  • http://www.atheistjournal.com/ccmclaugh Christopher McLaughlin

    I was going to ask why god had to put on a show in order to provide atonement. Then I realized that I was being taken in by the same old convolutions that successful religions have used over the centuries. The very situation in which we find ourselves here and elsewhere, as we debate religion, is itself more proof of the non-existence of gods.

    Gods do not need to be subtle. If a god wanted something it could it make it plainly clear not only of its existence but of it’s desire. The fact that we are here trying to understand the “will of god” is evidence that we are simply debating the “will of men” who are trying to convince us of things in the name of invisible gods.

    Given the dearth of evidence, it is reasonable to assume that gods are either non-existent or unavailable.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    “If an open heart and willingness to believe are all that’s needed to accept what your book claims, why isn’t it enough to accept the claims of other books(?)”


    born4battle answered part of this question when he said “none of the other ‘religions’, ‘books’ or ‘belief systems’ have a Savior, who died in the place of sinful men, but are ALL based on ‘working’ one’s way to heaven/paradise/nirvana/wherever.”

    If it were as simple as living the “good” life then we wouldn’t have all these interesting conversations and we would have no need for free will. For explanation and attempting to prove it all I got is faith. I have to accept it on faith. And that is something I can neither quantify or prove to anyone.

    Not sure if this is the question you were asking or if the answer is one that is acceptable.

    If there is another question maybe you could post it specifically. If the answer needs more then I will expand.

  • Jules

    What trips us up perhaps is the wording of the question.. What did Jesus sacrifice? Maybe if we consider it more as What did God sacrifice? Anybody got kids? I do.. if you don’t, consider the person most important to you and multiply your care for them by 10 perhaps, since they’re not your kid. Would you be willing to let them be crucified for the sins of the world? Hell no.. because you know the world is wicked.. but if you could it would be a display of perfect love for your creation. Ok.. God loves us infinately more than we can love our kids, or the next most important person if you’ve never experienced parenthood. He loved his own son Jesus infinately more than you could possibley love your own child. He sacrificed his son, part of Himself, out of love for the world. Take a scenario like sacrificing your arm to save somebody’s life.. then scale that scenario down to one grain of sand compared to all the ones on the earth, and you can maybe begin to realize the impact of what God sacrificed for everybody in human existance. It is of course a choice.. He wants us to love him, but not the way a sock puppet on your hand says “I love you”.

    As far as the sacrfice Jesus made, I guess it would be coming to earth as a human.. he never lost perfection, because he is God, but he came to know first hand what it was like for the rest of us to struggle with sin. To go from never having to deal with sin at all, to having to struggle with it is a sacrifice in itself. He then dealt with being wrongly accused left and right from all the highly religious people of the day.. people who were supposed to be on his side. He then, on the cross, for a time.. took on every single sin for every single person that has ever or ever will exist, from the lustful thought to the serial rapings, from the slight bit of impatience, to the rageful murder of an innocent person.. every bit, from everybody.. in an instant, he went from being perfection, to embodying every bit of evil. He also did it in the shell of a human, the one human God favored most over any body else, who was as perfect as God himself, had God turn his back on him and was forsaken.. for us. I suppose that is Jesus’ sacrifice.

    I’m going to bow out of this.. as it is always exhausting to be in this type of debate. God bless to all..

  • http://www.atheistjournal.com/ccmclaugh Christopher McLaughl

    Very funny.

    Your belief or disbelief in no way changes the facts. There is a name for the state in which one who does not let reality enter into their evaluations: delusion.

    So many of the religious claim that they are rational; that they respect logic and reason. And yet so many simply refuse to consider ideas that challenge their faith. It is cowardly. It is what one should expect when others are simply unable to justify their ideas.

    One should not expect their ideas (or faith, if you prefer) to be respected if they cannot stand up in the face of scrutiny. The religions of the world are NOT self-evidently true. That should be a clue.

  • Crudely Wrott

    Not intended to be amusing, Christopher, merely informative of the fact that there are indeed real, functional human beings who do not subscribe to magic as an explanation for what they do not know.

    Imagine, if you will, the outrage and angst that must have accompanied the first demonstration of the ability to start a fire at will. To many attendant and who heard by word of mouth later on, such a dastardly deed would surely mean the end of all. All, that is, that was known then.

    Compare with what is known now and observe the same cry of "Beware! Don't go there!"

    I still don't believe that a separate, overarching personality gives diddly about what I do or do not do.

    E Pluribus Unum.

  • Instrumann

    There are so many scary people here who actually take this fairytale hooha seriously. These people actually believe in the sky wizard who with a wave of his magic wand made a world full of sinful people. These people profess to believing in living the good life, sin free and with good will to all, but I have always seen something very sinister underneath. They do not live free lives and do not have free will. They live according to rules set down by a colllection of fairy tales started by cavemen and people suffering from sunstroke induced hallucinations. They oppress others in the name of their sky wizard and believe they are doing good. How can otherwise intelligent, sane people believe in magic and fairytales?

  • http://www.atheistjournal.com/ccmclaugh Christopher McLaughl

    Hey, watch that friendly fire!

  • Crudely Wrott

    Oops. Not firing at you, Christopher. But firing parallel to your shots.

    I'm thinking aloud tonight, extemporaneously examining things again, much as I have done before. I guess it is the paradox that occurs when a legitimate question about Life, the Universe and Everything is legitimately answered in terms describing the limits of our knowledge only to hear, a moment later, the same question. The best example would be, "Are we there yet?" I was under the impression that the answer was "No." Still, a small voice will be heard asking again. A patient adult will once again answer, without a trace of irritation. Would that I could.

    Go well, friend.

    E Pluribus Unum

  • http://stupidevilbastard.com/ Les

    It’s interesting to see that Dan Cartwright decided to go with the non-answer of “ask God” in reply to my comment and proceeds to fill the rest of his comment with the standard seek-with-an-open-heart nonsense that so often comes up in these discussions. He makes the mistake of assuming that I haven’t ever been a Christian in my past or probably assumes I wasn’t a “true Christian” seeing as I no longer count myself as one. He also doesn’t seem to realize that quoting Bible passages at people that are already familiar with the Bible and have rejected it as any kind of truth doesn’t make a convincing argument.

    Michelle at least attempts to answer my question with the following:

    “He had to be sacrificed to inaugurate a New Covenant – without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.”

    My question in return becomes one of: Why does the remission of sin require the shedding of blood? This seems a particularly arbitrary requirement on the part of God, who presumably is the source of that rule. He’s God. All powerful and all knowing. If he wants to just forgive people it’s certainly within his power to do so without requiring anything at all, but you claim he has to have bloodshed before he considers the sin to be “washed away.” Why should that be so?

    She goes on to write: “the words are too inadequate to express what it must have been for Him to give up so much to be one of us. And yet He sacrificed it all to experience life among us – to feel the limitations of being human. And then to endure the worst torture man could know…”

    But if you take the Bible at its word he didn’t really give any of that up. God is a trinity and still existed in Heaven at the same time that he existed as Jesus on Earth. He still had all the comforts of home, the singing, the bashful angels, etc.. And I’d argue the point that Jesus went through the worst torture you could know. Certainly it would be brutal, but there are worst tortures than physical pain. Regardless of how bad it was I find it hard to believe it would be all that difficult for a God, even one who’s living as a man, to endure it. And, in the end, he didn’t actually lose anything in the process. That’s not a sacrifice.

    If I give up a kidney to save someone’s life, I lose the kidney forever. If I jump on a hand grenade to save someone’s life, I could end up maimed or dead. Considering that I don’t believe in an afterlife the loss of my current life would be forever. Those are what I’d consider a sacrifice. What did God give up that he didn’t get back in the end? Nothing.

    Jules tries making a simile to parenthood: “Anybody got kids? I do.. if you don’t, consider the person most important to you and multiply your care for them by 10 perhaps, since they’re not your kid. Would you be willing to let them be crucified for the sins of the world? Hell no.. because you know the world is wicked.. but if you could it would be a display of perfect love for your creation. Ok.. God loves us infinately more than we can love our kids, or the next most important person if you’ve never experienced parenthood. He loved his own son Jesus infinately more than you could possibley love your own child.”

    The problem I have with the above is that God and Jesus are technically one and the same thing. That whole paradoxical trinity nonsense. My daughter is a wholly separate entity from myself. Jesus, despite being called the Son of God, is not a wholly separate entity. He is separate from, but a part of God along with the Holy Ghost.

    Jules also assumes that there are no circumstances where a parent might sacrifice the life of an offspring for the sake of all humanity, but as long as we’re speaking of hypotheticals I can think of a number of scenarios where I could, in good conscious, give up my offspring for the sake of the greater good. Whether or not I would depends more on the situation and if there’s any alternatives than whether or not the “world is wicked.” Such scenarios of the entire world’s fate depending on the death of my child are unlikely to ever come to pass, however, so it’s a silly question to begin with.

    Jules goes on to write: “He loved his own son Jesus infinately more than you could possibley love your own child. He sacrificed his son, part of Himself, out of love for the world. Take a scenario like sacrificing your arm to save somebody’s life.. then scale that scenario down to one grain of sand compared to all the ones on the earth, and you can maybe begin to realize the impact of what God sacrificed for everybody in human existance.”

    And just proves my point again. God didn’t give up anything. Jesus, if I read my Bible correctly, is alive and well having been resurrected and ascending to Heaven where he sits at God’s right hand. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

    In your example if I sacrifice my arm that arm is gone forever never to be a part of my body or useful again. Sure, I could hold onto it, but all it would do is lay around and decay. It would never help me lift a refreshing beverage to my lips ever again. According to you believers Jesus isn’t gone, he’s up in Heaven with God. God hasn’t lost a thing. He’s not sacrificed anything. He’s put on a big show and that’s about it. Jesus is still there, still a part of God, and still useful.

    Jules also writes “As far as the sacrfice Jesus made, I guess it would be coming to earth as a human.. he never lost perfection, because he is God, but he came to know first hand what it was like for the rest of us to struggle with sin. To go from never having to deal with sin at all, to having to struggle with it is a sacrifice in itself.”

    The above makes no sense at all. How can God know first hand what it was like for the rest of us to struggle with sin when he couldn’t lose perfection by the very nature of being God? If God was never at a point where there was a possibility he could sin then there’s no struggle to be had. I can crawl around on all fours and mimic my dog, but that doesn’t mean I understand the struggle of trying to decide whether or not to sniff someone’s butt that my dog goes through.

    And even if it were possible that he could experience first hand the struggles of sin how is that a sacrifice? What did he lose in that sacrifice? Inner peace?

    Jules writes.. “He then, on the cross, for a time.. took on every single sin for every single person that has ever or ever will exist, … every bit, from everybody.. in an instant, he went from being perfection, to embodying every bit of evil. He also did it in the shell of a human, the one human God favored most over any body else, who was as perfect as God himself, had God turn his back on him and was forsaken.. for us. I suppose that is Jesus’ sacrifice.”

    That would be impressive if he were rotting in Hell, but he’s not. God didn’t forsake him for long. Three days, a whirlwind tour of Hell, where he wasn’t even subject to the same tortures the rest of us are supposedly in for, and it’s back home to daddy and the singing angels. He’s still God, he’s still perfect, taking all that sin on didn’t even leave a bad taste in his mouth. Where’s the loss? What did he give up? Nothing. The point still stands.

  • http://stupidevilbastard.com/ Les

    In other words, you have no good arguments. OK, I can accept that.

    Though I have to ask: Just what is “gross unbelief?”

  • Instrumann

    Born4Battle, I don't hate god. That's a ridiculous statement. I don't believe in any god so how could I hate one? I hate the fact that so many people invest so much of their time and energy believing fairytales and living their lives according to the rules of the fairytales.

    I have to share my world with lunatics, simpletons, delusional people and people who are just too lazy to bother questioning what's been force fed to them since they were kids. I do hate that fact.

  • Crudely Wrott

    I don’t believe it.


  • Lunatic Lazy Delusio


    I hate arrogance, 'Christian' or atheistic. And IF you are representative of atheists – intolerant, narrow-minded, insulting – I prefer to stay in my lunatic fairytale dreamworld.

  • born4battle


    "I have to share my world with lunatics, simpletons, delusional people and people who are just too lazy to bother questioning what’s been force fed to them since they were kids. I do hate that fact."

    I assume the above lunatics, simpletons, delusional and lazy people are those who belive in God and living according to standards outlined in the Bible. I won't take it personally – after all, in order to speak so disparagingly against us, you MUST have something against God or you wouldn't be so upset and hate the fact that we are messing up YOUR world. How exactly do we mess up YOUR world by believing in God? If it was all about Peter Pan or the tooth fairy would we me messing up YOUR world? Would you even care?

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    born4battle: it's not YOUR belief in myths that is the problem, it's that so many of you mythicists want to force everyone else to live by your myths. Your posting your beliefs in this blog or somewhere else isn't the threat, it's the people who vote on referendums to deny homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples because their mythical being thinks it's icky. It's the people who support politician's who want to change the US Constitution to meet "God's word" because it's easier than changing "God's word". (Yes, I'm focusing more on what happens in the US than other places, because I live in the US).

    We Atheists mostly wouldn't care about your delusions if you weren't (as a group) trying to have the 10 Commandments posted in front of Court Houses, or trying to force children to participate in religious indoctrination in public schools. Maybe we wouldn't be so insulting if we weren't constantly told that we have no basis for morality because we don't believe in God, or that we aren't really Atheists, we just hate God.

    You think we're insulting, but can't see that your own words and actions are insulting to us. You think you're on solid grounds because you're just "speaking the truth", but you can't have it both ways. If you want the right to speak your truth without being accused of being insulting, don't be surprised when we speak our truth (which has a lot more basis in fact, by the way), even if it is insulting.

    And quit purposefully misreading the point that we make, because that makes you some kind of liar. When we say we don't hate God because we don't believe in it, we just hate the way its believers behave, quit repeating "see, that just proves you hate god." It's pathetic, insulting, and stupid.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Instrumann: The harshness of your proclamation does compromise you being taken seriously. It's too mean. Once you show people such bilious disrespect, you kind of forfeit your own right to be respected. Which is kind of a shame, because (as you know) there is much reasonableness to all you've said.

  • http://crumblestone.wordpress.com snowhite197

    “I hate the fact that so many people invest so much of their time and energy believing fairytales and living their lives according to the rules of the fairytales”


    Plenty of people believe in fairy tales. Especially in America. They believe that having more stuff will make them happy (in America!!!). They believe that sex will make them happy. They believe that if they can be healthy enough, rich enough, look good enough, know enough, have the right social connections, meet the right person and fall in love, then they will feel fulfilled.

    My fairy tale tells me to live my life to try and help others instead of myself all the time. Guess what? It makes me happy. Do I still try to be a successful and productive member of society? Yes. Do I still thirst for knowledge within AND outside of the Bible? Yes. Do I beat people over the head with my beliefs? NO.

    I’m not too lazy to question my beliefs. I question my beliefs all the time. That’s why I read blogs like this one-to hear about other beliefs and listen to why people believe in different ways. And a lot of what you believe makes sense. But I cannot come to the conclusion that there is no God because of my personal experiences with Him.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    One of the biggest reasons the bible is unreliable?

    It mentions talking snakes, talking bushes that are on fire, women made from ribs, men who walk and water and return from the dead. And expects people to take those things literally.

  • Dan Cartwright


    Why is it that when one of 'us mythicists (SP?) even discuss God, we are accused of trying to convert everyone around us? If I talk about my car, I'm not trying to get you to run to the nearest dealer and get one just like it! I would offer that that sentiment (we are always pushing something on someone when all we do is 'mention' God) might be an indicator that perhaps some are merely trying to deny His existance when they know better. Why else the hostility?

  • Dan Cartwright

    Good grief, the system of laws we have in America was founded on the 10 Commandments (as laws of other countries were)! They were already on the court houses and 'you' want to take them down! Study hour history, man!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    “Forfeit”? Did I spell that right? Forfiet? No, that’s not it…Forfeit. That must be it. Forefit. For Fit. For Feet. Four Feet. Animals.

    C’mon. Let’s all stop acting like animals. That’s my point.

  • born4battle

    John Shore,

    I'm beginning to wonder if there is any such thing as an 'inquiring atheist". From atheists 'comments' in here it might be more accurate to say that many just want to disparage those who believe in God as a bunch of mindless idiots. They might be playing you, John.

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Dan C, if you really think our laws were based on the 10 Commandments, it's you who needs to study history. I'll repeat what Morse asked, because it's the most salient point: name one principle unique to Christianity that this country was based on. Name one commandment other than "thou shalt not kill" that our laws are based on. I bet you can't, and if you can I'll bet you can't defend it.

    born4battle, for someone with a nick like that, you seem strangely thin-skinned. Anyway, I personally don't think all god believers are a bunch of mindless idiots. Most of them have minds, even if in this one area of their lives they seem reluctant to use them.

    Nobody is playing John, not that I see. He posts, asks for comments, and that's what we do. Most comments have been respectful to him, and quite a few have been harsh with you, Dan C., and a few select other Christians. Contrast your comments with John's and you might start understanding the disparity in how we react to you. Mindlessly spouting Bible verses, for instance, isn't up to the standards warranting serious reply, and when you are insulting to us you'll probably find that we respond in kind (as mentioned earlier.)

  • born4battle

    "it’s not YOUR belief in myths that is the problem, it’s that so many of you mythicists want to force everyone else to live by your myths.." – Rob

    Because we believe in God we are "mythicists"?

    "Name one commandment other than “thou shalt not kill” that our laws are based on." – I'm not taking the bait. It's too juicy. Maybe our laws were not copied directly from the 10 Commandments, however.the link is unavoidable if you read the framers of the constitution.

    "name one principle unique to Christianity that this country was based on."

    Another juicy one. Perhaps not "unique" to Christianity – just natural law? Cicero (a favorite of the framers of the Constitution) defined natural law as that set forth by the "Supreme Creator of the Universe."

    "We Atheists mostly wouldn’t care about your delusions"

    Christian beliefs are delusions? "Mindlessly spouting Bible verses?," Why is using Bible verses mindless? That's not intentionally insulting the beliefs of Christians? May it didn't use the words 'mindless idiots' but it sure inferred them. I may have quoted scripture you didn't like but I don't remember personally calling anyone mindless and delusional.

    "Erecting the ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” -Thomas Jefferson

    That was about government establishing a 'state' religion, NOT removing the mention of God from the public square.

    The rest of the story:

    According to Justice Joseph Story, of the U.S. Supreme Court:

    “The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects [denominations] and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which would give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”

    He also said:

    “Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the [First] Amendment…the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. Any attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.”

    Since this was the original intent, it is not surprising that in 1854 the United States Congress resolve that:

    “The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

  • born4battle

    July 4, 1821, John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of these united States of America:

    "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. From the day of the Declaration, they (the American people) were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of The Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledge as the rules of their conduct."

    "Here is a recognition by law, and by universal usage, not only of a Sabbath, but of the Christian Sabbath, in exclusion of the Jewish or Mohammedan Sabbath…the recognition of the Christian Sabbath (by the Constitution) is complete and perfect. We are a Christian people not because the law demands it, not to gain exclusive benefits or to avoid legal disabilities, but from choice and education; and in a land thus universally Christian, what is to be expected, what desired, but that we shall pay due regard to Christianity." January 19, 1853, as part of a Congressional investigation, records of the report of Mr. Badger of the Senate Judiciary Committee

    "Every thinking man, when he thinks, realizes that the teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally impossible for us to figure ourselves what that life would be if these standards were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals; all the standards towards which we, with more or less resolution, strive to raise ourselves." Theodore Roosevelt, Twenty sixth President of these united States of America

    James Madison, Fourth President of these united States of America and the man who wrote the U.S. Constitution:

    "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments."

  • born4battle


  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles


    "Because we believe in God we are “mythicists”?" You believe in a myth, you're a mythicist.

    "Maybe our laws were not copied directly from the 10 Commandments, however.the link is unavoidable if you read the framers of the constitution." The link is not only avoidable, it isn't even there. If you think it is, defend your position (I can't defend "it isn't there" if it isn't there, but you should be able to defend "it is there" if it truly is. But it's not.)

    Just because Cicero defined natural law as being set by the "supreme creator" doesn't make it so, and even if it did that wouldn't suggest the Christian god. I'll agree that the concept of natural law is certainly not unique to Christianity, though, so it's a non-starter anyway.

    For a refresher, I simply want one commandment (as per Dan C's claim) that the US constitution or law is based on. "Don't kill" doesn't count because prohibitions against killing were around long before the and goat herders who made up your myths. (That wasn't an insult, because I'm just speaking the truth.)

    Yes, your beliefs are delusional. Again, just speaking the truth. If they aren't delusional, then why does my saying that bother you? Isn't that your argument: if there is no god why do we atheist get bothered by you godders claiming that there is?

    Citing biblical verses germane to a specific argument is fine. Ignoring points other people are making and chanting biblical verses in an attempt to show that the Bible is true, again completely irrelevant to the issue at hand, is mindless spouting. I don't want to keep repeating the "it's not an insult, just the truth" thing, so just understand that it's there each time, m'kay?

    It's funny how you blindly leap from quoting Justice Story saying "Probably…" to yourself declaring "Since that was the original intent…" It's not particularly logical, or warranted, or even surprising, but it is funny.

    If the original intent of the Constitution was to make a Christian nation, it would seem the very, very bright framers of the constitution and actual authors of said document would have recognized that an excellent time to declare that intent. You'd think somewhere in the Constitution, were it really building a Christian nation, there'd be some mention of Jesus, God, or even a Holy Spirit. You know what, though? There isn't. Not one.

    I'm sure you've heard of the Treaty of Tripoli, so I won't bring up that whole "the US is in no way founded on Christian principles" thing. After all, I wouldn't want to offend you. A rational person would see this as an irreconcilable contradiction to the modern claim that the US is founded on Christian principles. You mythicists, though, are so accustomed to ignoring the inconsistencies in your own mythology to be swayed by something that concrete and straight forward.

    No offense.

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles


    "“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; …" This is an unverifiable quote, and most likely Adams never said any such thing. Even if he did, he would simply be wrong.

    I can't determine who you claim the second quote is from, so I can't look that up now.

    "“Every thinking man, when he thinks, realizes that the teachings of the Bible …" Did Theo Roosevelt say this? Even if he did, his declaring it without supporting the declaration doesn't make it so. It's no better than if you or Dan C. assert it.

    AS for the quote attributed to Madison, it's not found in any of the Federalist papers, or any of his other writings. See http://members.tripod.com/candst/misq1.htm for a longer analysis, but it looks that once again, good, solid upstanding Christians have lied to you.

  • http://www.helium.com/user/show/341944 Deltachord

    The bible has more extant manuscripts than any ancient book and that is just one reason it is reliable. In order to know more about what you are talking about Mr. McLaughlin first read “How We Got The Bible” by Neil R. Lightfoot.

    It’s a good start to understanding the bibles accuracy, which statistically has good standing.

  • Ramon

    No sorry, that still doesn't make sense. The way it appears is: God created mankind with all our frailties. God gave us a set of instructions on how to live our lives. God eventually seems to have realised that with our fallibility we couldn't keep them perfectly. So far so good, although he should have known of our limitations, having designed us himself. Here's the bit I don't get: Having decided that the old code of laws was too much, he could have just repealed them and given us the new code. If he wanted us in heaven, Abracadabra and we're in. If we need some convincing, I'm sure an omnipotent deity would be able to come up with a miracle so spectacular it leaves no doubt. Why did he think it was necessary to sacrifice his son (himself?) to himself in order to do that? It's a bit like being robbed and instead of just forgiving the thief and choosing not to press charges, you go to prison yourself instead. Doesn't make sense. Then to top it off, in order to go to heaven all you got to do is believe that all that happened as described, without giving any real reason to believe that particular story and not any one of the myriad other religions which generally also require you to believe/worship to get saved.

  • http://www.atheistjournal.com/ccmclaugh Christopher McLaughlin

    Quotations from freedom loving patriots (and Dan):

    “Study hour history, man!” -Dan Cartwright, February 29, 2008

    “Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” -Thomas Jefferson

    “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.” -Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1790

    “The United States of America governments have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.” -John Adams

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse


    I have a challenge for you. Please name one part of the constitution that has an idea that originally came from Christianity.

    Just one.

    Don’t get me started on the silliness of the Decalogue. :)

  • man on the moon

    Since my second comment has not found it’s wa through the spam filter

    and after reading the latest comments which make me wanna lagh or cry (those of dan cartwright) here’s the straight dope…..

    Dear Bible readers, a suggestion…..

    take you Bible and read it as if it were the first time.

    Also take some pieces of paper and a pencil.

    Make lists of

    a) the moral messages of the bible

    b) the “scientific” statements

    c) the attributes of Jesus

    Look at list a. and count how many of the moral statements contradict each other and how many of them violate our current secular laws.

    Compare the “facts” of list b. to modern scientific theories (wikipedia will sufice)

    Count how many of Jesus attributes can be found in earlier mythical or historical personalities like Mithras, Dionysus, Appolonius etc.

    If you manage to do that objectively please post your results and then ask yourself a question: Do you really thing this book is the word of God ? If yes what kind of strange fella is he ? (I supose him to be male cause a woman would have done a better job)

    PS: Mose I admire your patience man, do you get a kick out of it debating with dan ?

  • born4battle

    You guys sure like making fun of other folks for believing something you don’t, huh? You give yourselves away.

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Oh, and Dan C., I’ve only been here a few days and read comments from 2 (or 3, maybe) posts, and I haven’t seen anybody accusing you of trying to convert anyone just for talking about your beliefs. I certainly haven’t.

    You’re a fellow veteran, so I don’t want to be overly harsh with you, but damn! Quit your whining and grow a pair, huh?

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Ramon, it's even worse than that. It's like goading someone on until they rob you because it's obviously what you want, then telling him what a horrible, despicable person he is for doing what you made him do. Then, the only way you can forgive him is to go to jail for him (?!), so you go to jail and completely forgive him, but if he doesn't believe that you did that you'll send him to the state prison for ever.

    Oh, and you spent a very small amount of time in jail, and your record was expunged three days later.

  • Andy Christensen

    God is good, perfect, righteous and just; in Him there is no darkness at all, He cannot sin or leave sin unpunished.

    God created the robber without sin.

    He allowed the robber to choose to sin.

    He chose to sin, to steal.

    The robber must make restitution to God. Unless he does so he will go to jail; for God to not send him there would be a violation of His righteousness and would be impossible.

    The robber cannot make restitution; he has no ability to do so. And he will go to jail unless something happens.

    God loves the robber so much He went to jail in the robber's place. God is so good that his 3 days in jail are able to make up for the robber never going to jail. However, for the robber to go free he must be truly sorry for what he did and want to be at peace with God. If he's not sorry or wants nothing to do with God, he cannot go free; for him to do so would be a violation of God's righteousness and would be impossible.

    The problem with the initial analogy is you have two people who could theoretically just go their separate ways and have nothing more to do with each other. However, someday good and evil, light and darkness will be totally segregated. Today we live in a gray zone, but someday it will disappear. Why? Because God cannot leave sin unpunished or let those who don't think they've done anything wrong and want nothing to do with Him hang out with Him for eternity.

  • Andy Christensen

    John, thanks for sharing the excerpt from your book. When I read it I felt the love. What an amazing God we have!

  • Andy Christensen

    Why is something not a sacrifice if you only suffer for a time and then later get it all back and then some?

    Christ's sacrifice was Himself. He talked about this at the last supper with His disciples. “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'

    “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.'” (Luke 22:19-20)

    “Such a high priest meets our need — one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once and for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

    “The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.” (Hebrews 7:26-8:2)

  • Instrumann


    "I assume the above lunatics, simpletons, delusional and lazy people are those who belive in God and living according to standards outlined in the Bible. I won’t take it personally – after all, in order to speak so disparagingly against us, you MUST have something against God or you wouldn’t be so upset and hate the fact that we are messing up YOUR world. How exactly do we mess up YOUR world by believing in God? If it was all about Peter Pan or the tooth fairy would we me messing up YOUR world? Would you even care?"

    Yes, you are right. These are the people messing up MY world. It is not exclusively mine but mine nonetheless. You don't see too many atheists flying aeroplanes into buildings or putting innocent men to death because "if he's innocent he'll go to heaven. If he's guilty he'll still go to heaven because we've punished him here on Earth" as the christian "leader of the free world" did when he was governer of Texas. I would love if more people believed in Peter Pan, the tooth fairy, santa clause and the easter bunny. I would rather people were "good" so that they would get presents from Santa rather than being good because of a fear of going to hell. It's a lot more honest. There is nothing sinister about the easter bunny or santa clause and belief in different versions of them dos not cause international conflict as does belief in the sky wizard.

    As I said, I have nothing against God. There is no God so how could I have something against something that does not exist? I do have a lot of problems with otherwise sane people believing fairytales and forcing these fairytales down the throats of others. I have to share MY world with people who will kill and cause wars in the name of a fairytale. I have to live in a world where people who live alternative lifestyles are persecuted and discriminated against by these people who believe in sky wizards. There are some things in the book of fairytales that had some merit when they were written in the bronze age such as not eating pork because of tapeworms and homosexuality being frowned upon because of the need for reproduction in a hostile environment, but these things are completely outdated. Yet the fairytale believers still think these things are "sinful" because the book of fairytales says so.

    Take it personally if you like. It probably is. If you believe fairytales then I believe there is something wrong with you. You've been indoctrinated and brainwashed and can now no longer think for yourself.

  • born4battle

    I still refuse to take it personally. I also hate it when someone tries to force their beliefs down my throat, but I refrain from callling others' beliefs 'fairytales'. Whatever others may do with their 'fairytales' I also will not let them mess up my world. If they mess it up, it's only because I let them. Their actions (forcing or not forcing) have absolutely no impact on my world, neither do their 'fairytales'. I am secure in my 'fairytale'.I honestly am not trying to convert anybody (my job is to share the good news) I prefer to let my God do the rest – He does the converting. If anyone feels 'forced upon' I will endeavor to review my 'sharing' to see if I somehow gave the appearance of 'forcing'. If that is the case, I will change the way I 'share' my beliefs. I will not stop sharing, however because I have a duty to my God and I really do not want to seeany human being spend an eternity 'separated' from God, regardless of their 'profession' of agnosticism/atheisn/or any other form of non-belief in the Creator. It's not a good place to be left in after death.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    His philosophies would have died out after his death if an idiot hadn’t gotten sunstroke on the road to Damascus.

    That's one heck of a sunstroke! Able to make Paul's companions hear a voice. "The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone." (Acts 9:7) Able to make Paul abandon the religion he had followed his whole life and join the people he was persecuting.

  • Instrumann

    What complete and unadulterated WAFFLE. I guess you’re giving up on talking about it too then. Apparently the things I said have hit a nerve because you did not address them at all. You said I must have something against God and I explained my position.

    You focussed on the indoctrination of christians instead. You say you don’t force it down others’ throats. Do you donate to christian charities who do not feed starving children unless they attend mass and get baptised?

    Someone else here called me intolerant. I agree, I am intolerant, but not of people’s lifestyles. I am intolerant of bigotry and discrimination in the name of a book that has not been updated in 2000 years yet is still held up as the book of rules for how people should live their lives.

    This whole thread started as a question about Jesus Christ. I’ll tell you what I think about Jesus Christ. I believe that he was a guy who preached a humanist philosophy. He was probably one of many at the time. He had quite a few adherents as did many others. He died for his cause as did Martin Luther King, Padraig Pearse, William Wallace and a whole host of others. He was a righteous patriot of his time but he was not divine in any way. He was a misogynist as was typical of the time (read the gospel of St. Thomas). He probably performed some tricks as are still performed by baptists to this day to keep the gullible masses convinced. His philosophies would have died out after his death if an idiot hadn’t gotten sunstroke on the road to Damascus. He had a hallucination about a person he had heard so much about and it was so strong he became bewildered. He looked around and saw ordinary people doing ordinary things that were brutal and apalling but were the norm for the day and decided that this guy he had heard so much about had died to redeem these people.

    I can go on but I will leave you to contemplate this and respond. It is quite late here.

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Andy: perhaps, just maybe, people back then were prone to hyperbole. Why should we assume that Paul, or anyone writing on his behalf, wouldn't make up stuff to bolster his case. People do it today, so why wouldn't they do it then?

    Jimminy crickets, the way most of you Christians accept unquestioningly every claim made in the Bible because, hey it's from God (and we know this because the Bible says it is, and we trust the Bible) is incredible. You won't afford any other book that luxury (and you shouldn't), but just let it be written that 500 people witnessed something, or a couple of guys heard something too (!!) and you wet yourselves with excitement over how this proves EVERYTHING. Never mind that you have no way of verifying the authenticity or accuracy of the claim, if the Bible said it happened, that's good enough for you.

    And you wonder why people who can reason get so damned frustrated with you.

  • born4battle


    You are really trying to have a decent discussion with these guys. Hats off to you, but it might be rather pointless. They really don't want to talk about it, they want to rant and mock. Their generalizations, tone and vocabulary give them away.They remnind me of some in Jesus day who wouldn't believe even though he performed incredible miracles, the sort of miracles even they acknowledged only God could perform.

    My advice to you is to put them on ignore – they are not even listening. When you merely share scripture from your heart, you are mindlessly spouting scripture. If you haven't received that one, just hang around. Just pray for them – that God will open their hearts to be able to hear him. They know not the bondage in which they are imprisoned.

    Part of the issue is hidden in your comment that "God created the robber with free will." You are appealing to a 'free will' that they don't have. The only humans created with 'free' will were Adam and Eve. When they 'freely' chose to disobey God, sin entered creation and corrupted everything, even free will. Since that time human will has been under the bondage of sin. When God saves a man, He supernaturally acts upon the human will, melts hearts of stone and that man 'willingly' chooses God out of a changed will.

    I remember when, after choosing to turn my life over to God, I thought 'I' had made that decision on my own. Then I came across John 6:44. You could also consider the question: "If our salvation is ultimately based on a human 'totally free will' decision isn't that stripping God of His sovereignty and putting us in charge of our salvation? The Bible tells us that He is the "author and finisher of our faith". Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that even our faith is a gift, not something we generate all on our own.

    Do we choose Christ out of our will? Absolutely! But it is a will that has been moved upon by God, who enables us to choose him when we are unable in and of ourselves to make that choice.

    None of the great Reformers believed in total free will, neither is it taught anywhere in scripture. On the contrary, the Bible teaches us that men are unable to even seek God on their own. (Romans 3 and Psalm 14, for example.) Somewhere along the line, the doctrine of original sin (the effect of the fall of man on cration) disappeared in the Christian church. Today's gospel is that we are basically born 'good' but we since we do sin once in awhile we need some help to get to heaven so Jesus went to the cross. My friend, we are the ones who deserved death since the day we were born because of sin. He took OUR place on that cross.

    Grace is rightly defined 'unmerited favor'. As fallen human beings we 'merit' nothing but death. We are not sinners because we sin, we are sinners by our very nature.

    Please do not think me unkind toward the 'scoffers' and keep on witnessing to the Glory of God!

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    samwrites2 wrote:

    God created us with free will meant to be used to love him.

    I hope you can see the contradiction in your statement.

    Andy wrote:

    That’s one heck of a sunstroke! Able to make Paul’s companions hear a voice.

    Why is it that when people a few thousand years ago heard voices they are considered perfectly sane but today we would probably medicate them?

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen


    I give the Bible such credence because it has earned my trust. It is full of amazing teaching and insight, prophecies and explanations. I have spent my life trying to analyze the world and I never really understood more than a fraction of what I do now until I started learning what it says.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen


    Thanks for the encouragement, brother. Peace be with you!

    I was trying to work with someone else's analogy and it didn't quite fit. I didn't mean to say that we have the same position Adam and Eve had. We inherited a sinful nature from them and are born slaves to sin. Only the Holy Spirit can empower us to choose to never sin. Still, I believe that Satan has not yet completely abolished God's image from us; we still have some good in us. We cannot choose to do only good and no wrong, but we can respond to God's saving grace.

    As far as discussing things with people I just try to let myself be led by the Spirit.

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    Andy said:

    I give the Bible such credence because it has earned my trust. It is full of amazing teaching and insight, prophecies and explanations.

    Except of course for all those teachings, insights, prophecies and explanations you choose to ignore. Unless of course you consider genocide to be an appropriate response for a god?

  • born4battle

    Andy C,

    Well said. I agree we have what we consider good by human standards – absolutely. However 'good' that might be in human terms however, consider this from the prophet Isaiah concerning the human condition:

    "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."

    The 'filthy rags' actual refer to 'meunstral rags'. Compared to the goodness and perfection of God, our stuff is pretty much junk when it comes to being pleasing to God. All of it is somehow tainted by sin even we can't necessarily see it.

    Yes we were created in God's image and that stamp is upon us, but only God is totally and perfectly 'good'.

    That was a hard pill to swallow, for me at least, but when it sunk in, God's grace became even more amazing!

    And brother, we are in a battle, from the moment of our salvation, we are citizens of heaven, on temporary duty on planet earth, as His 'sent' ones, to share the good news. We share, He does the rest.

    Keep on keepin' on!

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse


    The Midianites, for example? Everyone except for Noah and his family?

    If those things actually happened (which I don't think they were) then they were certainly genocides for which your god is responsible.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen


  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    Pardon the length, but a serious point deserves a serious response.

    God is responsible for creating us and giving us freedom to make moral choices. The first humans chose to disobey and contaminate creation with sin. "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men." (Romans 5:18) And the wages of sin is death. Physical death for every person was one of the punishments for this rebellion.

    One of the sins is murder. "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man." (Genesis 9:6) We may not take each others' life without cause, because we were made in God's image.

    When early humanity almost entirely rushed headlong into sin, it grieved God. "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth — men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air — for I am grieved that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7) So He sent the flood, but He spared Noah, who had found favor with Him. He came very close to wiping us out, to giving up on having a relationship with us.

    Did He have a right to do this? We may not take each others' physical life. We have already noted that we all lose our physical life as a punishment from God for sin. God has the right to judge and punish what He has created. He is qualified to do this because of His righteousness and because He created us. “'Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?” Does your work say, “He has no hands”?'” (Isaiah 45:9)

    God must and will eventually judge all people. But he withholds His wrath because He loves us and wants us to be saved. “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:7-9)

    So why did God, in effect, bring early punishment on large groups of people — the world in Noah's day, the Midianites? God's punishment always has a purpose. It is not arbitrary or capricious; that is not His way. We saw that He was sorry He had created us but preserved a remnant with Noah; we got another chance. In the case of the inhabitants of Canaan, which God commanded the Israelites to wipe out, there was a limited strategic purpose of giving the land to Israel, the chosen nation. There was also a specific responsibility that the Canaanites had for their great evildoing, which had done violence to the land and which the Israelites were told not to emulate: “'”Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.”'” (Leviticus 18:24-25)

    God absolutely has the right to judge His creation. But He definitely loves us and wants to be in a relationship with us. None of the punishment of God causes us to be condemned any more than we are already; none of it is because of a lack of desire for us to die rather than live. “'Say to them, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?”'” (Ezekiel 33:11) But real life and death have to do with the eternal and spiritual, not the temporary and physical. We are already dying physically. None of God's physical punishments in the bible made anyone any more dead than they already were, they just moved up the date of death. And many of those punishments served strategic functions in God's redemptive plan for the world.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    So basically your point boils down to: genocide is okay as long as god says it is. Am I right?

  • Mijan

    What I want to know is why Christians only seem to see two options: Christian or Atheist. Why do you guys think you have monopolies on morality, the afterlife, the soul, and the Divine? You guys take the entire Bible on blind faith (ie. "It's 100% because… because it's 100% true! It's the Word of God because it SAYS it's the Word of God! So… so nyeah!"), yet I've not seen reliable evidence that it's anything more than a collection of legends from desert tribes, which was chopped-up and re-assembled by a bunch of political elitists long after your Savior was gone. Most of your Gospel text was written decades after Jesus supposedly died. I'm glad you can take it on blind faith that some guys from 2000 years ago could write the divinely inspired quotes of their savior VERBATIM. I don't buy it.

    There's evidence that some countryside preacher was going around that area about 2000 years ago, telling parables, preaching good morals, and generally irritating/infuriating the powerful and wealthy hierarchy of the day. However, a veritable mountain of evidence shows that what was finally written down as the "Bible" was a strange compilation of what some people vaguely remembered mixed with ancient myths and other beliefs.

    Does "god" exist? Sure, but not your limited version of that concept. The fact that you think you hold some sort of exclusive rights to god is so ridiculous that it makes everything else you say seem utterly laughable. The concept of god – a concept which embodies the Infinite itself – is way to big for one religion. Religion is the invention of mankind, often used to control human behaviour for the benefit of the rich and elite few. (Look at a preacher from a megachurch flying around the world in his Lear Jet, telling politicians what to do, and demanding thithes and complete obedience from their "flocks", and you might see what I mean.)

    Regardless, whether you believe in a Christian version of God, another view of Deity, a concept of the Eternal, or believe that the physical world contains all the mysteries (it's the best you're going to do in this lifetime), I would hope that reason and logic in social matters would eventually outpace the stupid tribal clashes between religions that continue to this day. (And by tribal, yes, I'm referring to the continuation of tribal myths that you guys call the Bible.)

    Oh, and if you think the earth is only 6,000 years old, you're a certifiable nut-job.

  • Instrumann

    Andy Christensen, did you really expect an answer to that?

    I believe that all of your answers are variations of "Why do you believe what the bible says? Because the bible says I should."

    Can I ask you a question with all prejudice aside?

    Why has the bible not been updated in 2000 years? Surely this is a different world we live in but your god has stopped giving his word. Why? We can't be expected to live in a world ruled according to bronze age circumstances. Why will your god not give us some updated rules as he was so wont to do when humanity was in its infancy? I speculate it is because people are a bit more educated now and do not trust senile or sunstroke victims' word on what they think has happened to them.

    Really. I'd like to hear. I do not believe in the bible. Without referring to the bible convince me that I am a sinner and will go to hell. You must have some proof somewhere or else you are just trusting an ancient book of fairytales. I will ask Born4Battle the same question. Without referring to the bible, convince me.

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Morse: of course, that’s exactly it. Is god good, or is good god? Since (according to some Christians) god defines good, god can make anything it chooses be good, even genocide. Even killing women and children is good if good ol’ god says it is.

    Though according to other Christians, god is good because it must be good. God embodies goodness, which means “good” is defined by something other than god itself. So if god commits atrocities, it’s only doing it because it’s the “good” thing to do, and god can’t be anything other than good.

    Now if we could get the two camps to decide on which it is: is god good, or is good god?

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Instrumann: you're being a big meanie again. Harsh, unfair, insulting… just a big meanie!

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    The only thing I have to base my Christian faith and practice on is the Word. In the end, it is the only basis I have for anything I am saying.

    If I kill someone without cause, it is murder. If God kills someone, it is never without cause so it is never murder, it is just judgment. When He told the Israelites to kill the Canaanites, it was just judgment. If I received a message to kill someone, it would take a lot to convince me that that message was from God, because He does not operate that way. How do I know? Because the Bible says so. The destruction of Canaan was not genocide, it was just judgment, and it was, and will be, the only time God asks His people to carry out such a task. How do I know? The Bible says so. If anyone disputes me on that I will confront them with scripture and question their relationship with God.

    Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. When He came He fulfilled the Law and completed God's revelation to us. No further word to the entire body of believers will come or is necessary.

    Instrumann, the Bible tells me that Christ will be the judge of everyone's spirit. It tells me that is His job and that I am to stay out of it, which I am all too happy to do. I am unable and unqualified to tell anyone whether they are going to heaven or hell, and have been specifically told not to. Any Christian who does so is mistaken. However, we have been given authority by Jesus to tell people that our relationship with God is broken, and tell people how they can be reconciled to Him (Matthew 16:19). We are not to tell anyone whether they are saved or not, but we are to tell people how to be saved. I cannot convince you, but the Holy Spirit might. But the Spirit operates through the Word. I can tell you what the Word says about it. Are you willing to listen?

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    So, Andy, if your god tells you that it has passed judgement on a people and asks you to carry out that judgement, you would do what it says, right? If your god told you to kill your neighbors, and it somehow convinced you that it really, really is your god, you'd do that, right? Your neighbors, their children, their pets; your god (and you know for certain it's your god however it is you'd have to know) tells you they all have to die, not a one regardless of their age to be left alive, and you are to do it yourself (with some help if you need it), you're going to do it, right?

    And don't tell me your god won't do that, because according to your book of myths it has done it a number of times. There's no logical reason to assume that it wouldn't do it again if it felt the need to do so.

    But hey, maybe you'll get lucky and it will tell you to keep all the little virgin girls for yourself. Hubba, hubba, right?

  • Instrumann

    Andy Christensen,

    So your answer is you can't? That's a shame. Now prove to me that I should believe in the bible then without quoting the bible. I am willing to listen. To my mind it has about as much relevance and as much believability as greek mythology. It has as much magic and is great fun to read but should not be taken seriously. How is it different to Theseus and the Minotaur or Perseus and Medusa?

    I think they were written around similar times. Why do you believe one and not the other.

    Born4Battle, can you answer?

    Rob Miles, Me a meanie? Pots and kettles come to mind. All the little virgins? That's not christianity, that's islam. Although I don't know which religion is more bloodthirsty.

  • Dan Cartwright

    Hang in there Andy. . .

    You willl be perceived as one of the 'mindless delusional mythicists' no matter how you say what needs to be said. I'm thinking about changing my name to MDM. It doesn't matter if you offer an honest opinion for opinion's sake or repeat the words of Jesus.

    I've been reading Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion and he makes an interesting point when he says that the Christian who tries to pursuade an unbeliever of spiritual matters is foolish because the truth of scripture can only be understood when the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. (Dan's paraphrase of the exact quote).

    So just continue to put it out there until the Holy Spirit says stop. Jesus went to great lengths to speak to unbelief and even demonstrated his miraculous power to those whose religion postulated that only God coule do such things and they still refused to believe. Finally He told them they never were His sheep to begin with.

    Hang in there, bro!

  • Dan Cartwright


    Yes I can provide an answer, but I shall refrain from doing so. It has been provided several times throughout this blogand a couple of others. However, until the Holy Spirit reveals it to you, you cannot receive it, hear it, see it, or understand it, according to the Book you ridicule and it's Author. That is not a personal remark, only what the Book says.

  • http://www.tworobs.com Rob Miles

    Because the BELIEVE, Instrumann. They sincerely BELIEVE the bible is true. That's gotta count for something, right?

  • Instrumann

    Yeah, but why the bible? And why so unquestioningly?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    At some point, you have GOT to get tired of asking that question. Christians believe what they believe because they believe God is telling them to believe it. Faith in the abiding reality of God is not "knowledge" of the sort that's subject to objective verification or empirical quantification. You know that. Why, then, continue around the same circle? Aren't you by now BORED with this interminable back and forth?

    Christians think atheists are denying The Big Truth. Atheists think Christians are tragically deluded.

    Anything NEW there?

  • Instrumann

    I guess you're right. I'm not getting any satisfactory answers anyway. I'm just being self indulgent. I love baiting christians. I've spent long enough on the receiving end.

  • Instrumann

    WHAT A COP OUT. That’s a ridiculous answer. That’s like a wife saying to the husband “If you don’t know why I’m angry then I certainly won’t tell you”. So I can’t be convinced unless I already believe?

    I asked another simple question, why do you give this particular book such credance and not a book on greek mythology?

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    Rob, I don't believe God would tell me to do that. That was for the Israelites, at one time, for a specific purpose. God wants to save us. It is the enemy who wants to destroy us. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11) "When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice….I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:4-5, 7-10)

    God will not tell me to do something contrary to His Word.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    Dan, thanks bro. I often feel compelled to say something; I almost always feel afterward like I said too much! Pr. 17:27-18, Mt. 10:14; on the other hand, Ro. 10:14-15, 1 Pe. 3:15-16.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    Instrumann, the Bible contains the only logical explanation why, in spite of huge advances in technology, wealth, and education, we are still killing, stealing and lying to each other, even though we know it would be better if we didn't. We are enslaved to sin, to darkness. God is light, and in Him there is no darkness. Light came into the world, but we resisted it because we love the darkness. We love the darkness because we do evil and don't want it to be seen. To be with God, the source of life, for eternity, we must be spiritually transformed. We each must let God's light break into our lives so that we become adopted into His family.

    It contains predictions that the people writing them could not have made unless God gave them the info.

    It has the God who has held me in the palm of his hand from day 1, and it has the words which, when I finally made them the foundation of my life, radically transformed my life.

  • frank

    "Faith in the abiding reality of God is not “knowledge” of the sort that’s subject to objective verification or empirical quantification."

    The hypothesis of a God with the specific attributes that he has in monotheistic religions e.g. creator, omnipotent, all-knowing, loving etc. IS subject to both logical reasoning and empirical observation.

    The God that Christians believe in is not of this world. The premises contradict our experience. Hence it would be honest to change the premises or abandon the hypothesis at all.

  • frank


    "It contains predictions that the people writing them could not have made unless God gave them the info."

    Please name me one prediction of that sort.

  • Instrumann

    "God will not tell me to do something contrary to His Word."

    He told Abraham to do it.

  • patrick kelly

    Chris Warner, thank you for presenting that alternative explaination.

    Everything here is very western -protestant/roman-catholic oriented, heavily influenced (and IMAO opinion distorted) by Augustine, Anselm, and Calvin.

    The Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective is very similar to what you describe.


  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    Frank, Daniel 11:2-4.

    Instrumann, do you mean when He told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

  • Instrumann

    Yes, I know you'll say he was testing Abraham but who's to say you won't be tested too.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    Maybe there are two questions here. One, is God ever wrong? Does He ever do evil? Definitely not. He is good, perfect. And goodness defines Him; He is overflowing with it. This means He is overflowing with love. It also means He is overflowing with righteousness — He must oppose evil. These two things, which may seem contradictory to us, really go hand in hand. If we don't believe that God's wrath upon something is justified, then it must be that we don't realize how serious the evil is that His wrath is falling upon. So whatever God tells me to do, I will do — I will trust Him.

    Two, does God ever go back on His Word? Does He ever change His mind? No. We are the ones who change, who go back on our word. God promised Abraham He and Sarah would have a son. They did — Isaac. Then God tested Abraham. Abraham passed the test and lived out his faith, obeying God no matter what. Isaac was spared — God never had any intention of killing him. God then swore by Himself that Abraham would have many descendants and that the whole world would be blessed through them. Years later God commanded the Israelites, telling them what to do to nations they fought who were in the promised land, what to do to everyone else they fought (which was different), and to not kill without cause. Finally Jesus came and completed God's Word to us by commanding us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It's hard to do that and kill them at the same time. So if God were to tell me to kill someone, He would have to go back and revise what He has already told us in His Word, which He will not do.

    God does not give each of us all of our instructions on an individual basis. He gave the things He wanted all of us to know, to His messengers, His representatives, His prophets. They wrote them down and passed them on to the rest of us. Therefore we can have confidence to keep doing what God has already told us, and we can check the teachings of that person who claims to be teaching the truth from God. And we know that somebody cannot come along and truthfully say, "God just spoke to me and he said He's changing this and He's changing that and now this is what we're supposed to do."

    Just following what God has already told us is challenging enough. And I have definitely been tested. But God never tests us beyond what we can bear.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Instrumann, A short answer might be, God has already shown us his hand on this one (i.e., love). It would be pointless to run the same test over again when we already know the outcome. And God knows we know. As Andy puts it,it would be a contradiction.

  • Instrumann

    He's God, he can do anything. Suppose he decides to try something else? Suppose he decides to find out just how far humans will go for his glorification? Don't say he wouldn't either because everything we do is supposed to be for his glorification. If we stop doing things for his glorification he gets pissed off and wipes people out through either "the wrath of god" or through flooding. This is inflicted on people who have no way of fighting back. If your god is capable of being this vindictive then he is capable of sadistic games too.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    He’s God, he can do anything….

    Actually, no he cannot.

  • LCR

    Ric said:

    "Actually, no he cannot."

    Very interesting, Ric. So there are limits to what God can do?

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Very interesting, Ric.

    Not nearly as interesting as What, Exactly, Was the Sacrifice Jesus Made.

    And limitation is the word we would use to describe this characteristic. Its not the right word but that would not stop us from using it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse


    So your god isn't omnipotent?

    Just checking. I think this is the first time someone I know has admitted that.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    As much as that post sounded like it, I swear that wasn't sarcasm.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth


    Again the wrong words. I guess to clarify, limitation is the word people would use to describe but it is the wrong word because it then leads to your question, which is not the right question since it is based on the wrong word.

    You cannot tell me those in this thread have not already discussed (to death) the create-a-rock-so-big-he-cannot-move-it puzzle. If not, you should Google it. Be sure to read both sides.

    And again it is interesting but not nearly AS interesting as the What, Exactly, Was the Sacrifice Jesus Made.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Morse: No, no! I didn't think you WERE being sarcastic! I meant what I said, too! I WAS feeling the bloggy love. If I have any two readers whom I think could become fast friends, it's you and Ric.

  • LCR

    Bloggy-love aside, you did not answer Morse's question, you just side-stepped it with your tap dance regarding right/wrong words and right/wrong questions. This is a valid question. Is God not omnipotent?

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth


    As I suggested, the create-a-rock-so-big-he-cannot-move-it puzzle addresses the issue notion of "God can do anything." That is different from Morse's question. Omnipotent means God has infinite power but it doesn't mean he can use that power to do anything.

    So again I go back to the original issue. We got to omnipotence because of the word "limit" which is not the right word.

    I'll probably get in trouble for this one but… Simply put, I have the power to murder someone in cold blood. However (thankfully), I cannot do that! Is that a limitation on my part?

    Morse, I just saw your comment 160… John has responded that question on another post.

    I have to turn in… 5am daylight savings time comes too early.

    I will check back in the morning.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    Well, he hasn't answered it well (no offense John, no one has), or else I wouldn't keep asking it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    How does that answer people starving to death? It would be saving people from natural evils, not stopping people from committing evil.

    Is saving someone's life violating their free will?

  • LCR

    Ric, you said:

    "Omnipotent means God has infinite power but it doesn’t mean he can use that power to do anything."

    First, you wrote "can use". As in "permitted to use"? Or "able to use"?

    Second, that isn't the definition of "omnipotent" and to argue otherwise is to attempt to redefine a concept to fit your beliefs and thus pretend that the contradiction does not exist. But in one breath to say that a being has infinite power, and then in the next breath to deny that the power is actually infinite is indeed a contradiction. And while I am well aware of the "rock" quandry, that is not my question to you (though I do see the relationship). Please help me understand what allows you to consider this contradition to be a non-issue to your faith?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Morse: C'mon, now. You take pride in applying logic; don't pull up short now.

    People starve to death because other people LET them starve to death. I think it's safe to say that if everyone in the world decided tomorrow that NO ONE in the world would ever starve again, no one in the world would ever starve again. God doesn't let people starve; people let people starve.

    There are lots of sound reasons to choose not to believe in God. But because choosing TO believe in God isn't rational won't hold water as one of those reasons. And the problem of the theodicy–which you see is so readily and comprehensively solved–sure won't stand up as one of them, either.

    If you're going to be logical, be logical. I know you agree.

  • LCR

    Sorry, have to jump in here…

    "People starve to death because other people LET them starve to death."

    I call foul. Ultimate cause comes into play here. According to the Bible, God is responsible for our presense here and he is responsible for creating us with free will (your words), which means he is ultimately responsible for the evil done by man. People let other people starve, but only because God let us have that option of behaviors. Doesn't sound like such a loving being to me… cruel and manipulating seems to be a more appropriate description.

    Being omnipotent, he could have made us good… "in his image", so to speak… or maybe he did make us in his image and the good and bad choices we make truly reflect God himself? Now there's an interesting thought…

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Ahhh….feel the bloggy love….

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Sorry LCR. No. Unless you remove the not, in which case Yes, God is omnipotent. But then this is a question that Christian agree on and atheists already know the Christian answer.

    The prior issue is misunderstood by both side frequently so it was worthwhile. It was more than simply a ping-pong match. So yes, I was still trying to answer the prior question and not fairing too well at that.

  • LCR

    Thank you for the answer, but it raises others.

    You say in comment #147:

    “It would be pointless to run the same test over again when we already know the outcome. And God knows we know. As Andy puts it,it would be a contradiction.”

    So this contradiction is unacceptable, and yet the idea that an omnipotent God, in your words, “cannot” do something doesn’t strike you as being even more blatantly contradictory? Can you explain this contradiction or is it simply one you live with as one of those mysteries of God?

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    My question is much more simple than the “rock bigger than” question.

    I still focus on the problem of evil. If god, for all intent and purpose, is omnipotent, why does he allow evil to take place?

    There seems to be only two answers: he is not all good, or he does not exist.

    And I mean all good. God could still be pretty good if he let evil happen.

    He might even be mostly good. But if there’s evil, and he has the ability to stop it and doesn’t, then he’s not all good.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Morse: Yes, I have answered the question of why God allows evil to take place. I’ve TOTALLY answered it, here:


    The short answer is that God doesn’t “allow” evil. He allows people to do evil, because stopping anyone from doing anything they want to would neccessarily violate that person’s free will. And there’s no way to DETERMINE when an “evil” action actually becomes evil, since there are infinite gradations between thinking something evil, and doing something evil. In order to stop all evil thoughts, God would have to trash our free will; we’d be zombies. If you, or I, or anyone, is determined to do evil, God, out of his love, must allow that to happen. He loves us too much to rob us of our free will, period. That IS the answer.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    John, I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. And I'm being logical.

    Logically, we as the well-off people of the world have the ability to keep people from starving. So, WE let people starve.

    Logically, GOD has the ability to keep people from starving. So, HE lets people starve.

    And John, I want to be clear. This is in no way a piece of my argument against the existence of god. Certainly it suggests the lack of existence of an all-good god, but we don't have to assume a god is by default all good.

    This line of questions/argument is just my personal problem with the Christian view of god. And even if tomorrow I was convinced that god happened to exist, those are the reasons I wouldn't worship him.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    LCR and Morse,

    My jump into this thread was to help understand Christian theology (and I believe other religious theologies as well) surrounding the unqualified statement that "God can do anything." Many incorrectly believe this to be true. So, on this one thing we should agree before moving on to other issues such as omnipotence, evil, etc…

    God cannot create a rock so large that he cannot move it.

    Therefore the statement (assertion) that God can do anything is false.

    Logically (mathematically!) proven without any biblical references. However, also supported and embraced within Christian theology (long before any of us showed up on the scene — I'm not making it up on the fly). Therefore it would be illogical and unbiblical to dispute this point.

    So can we agree on this? Even if it is just an incredulous nod, its the beginnings of some common ground. From here we may be able to have a discussion on another issue — but that will depend on you.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    "God did not create us to do evil."

    Then he must not be omnipotent.

    Sorry for going in circles and all. :)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Morse: It's weird. You have, all along, been doing such a good job of being logical. And here–as you must, in order to maintain that you're right–you utterly and manifestly drop the Logic Ball.

    Apparently without blinking you assert two diametrically opposed propositions–and leave them there, as if each stands as sufficient proof of its veracity.

    First you say, "Logically, we as the well-off people of the world have the ability to keep people from starving. So, WE let people starve." True enough! (And my point entirely.) And then you follow that with: "Logically, GOD has the ability to keep people from starving. So, HE lets people starve."

    But your second assertion is anything but logical. My whole POINT is that since the first proposition is true, the second cannot be. That you either won't or can't acknowledge such a rudimentary logical truth can only mean that, like any dogmatist, you're choosing to cling to your personal conviction rather than go where simple rational thought would necessarily take anyone free of such an incumberence. Too bad. I like you–and my affection for you remains undiminished–but, honestly, I thought you would prove a better thinker than this demonstrates you to be. You ARE a better thinker than this. You can do better, I know.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    It's only uncomfortable because I hate wasting my time.

    One more, and I'm out.

    God stopping anyone from doing anything IS, by definition, violating their free will. If someone wants to kill someone, and they are stronger, and more capable, and simply have the power to execute their will, God-out of love for ALL human free will–will not stop that person from doing that: the weaker or more vulnerable person will suffer at the hands of the stronger, more powerful person. The onus of that crime is on the person who chose to excercise their strength in that terrible fashion; it is NOT on God for not stepping in and freezing that person in mid-strike, or for not at the last minute altering the thoughts of the murderer, or whatever absurd thing you imagine God doing when you imagine him so overtly butting into and changing what anyone does or thinks out of their own free will.

    People get victimized. But they get victimized by OTHER people, not by God. If you but think a moment or two about it, you'll see that there's no PRACTICAL way for God to interfere with SOME of SOME peoples' thoughts, actions, and feelings, without having to rob virtually everyone of all of their free will.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    John, you didn't answer my question. You seem focused on people committing evil on others. I'm not asking about that. Forget about people doing evil to others. That's not the issue I am raising.

    When an earthquake hits a city, why doesn't god save the people? When a tsunami heads for an island, why doesn't god stop it?

    Those aren't examples of people being victimized. Those are natural unfortunate events. No one is causing them, so stopping it wouldn't be effecting anyone's free will.

    Those events ARE on god for not stepping in, if he has the power to prevent them.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Morse: Thus far you HAVE, in fact, only asked about people committing evil against other people. As far as I know, that's virtually the only thing you've asked about. Hence, for instance, your question about the two men not helping the starving man. When I did answer that, you then changed your question to one of "natural" evil.

    Be fair: Admit you now understand the compassionate, fair, reasonable reason that God never stops any person from excercising their free will, even if doing so means violating the free will of another. Admit that, and we can move on to your next question about natural evil. But fail to do that, and you show me you're not being real about this conversation at all.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    I was using the two men/starving men analogy to help elucidate my point. The man is starving. The other men aren't starving him, but they can help. That is 'natural evil', is it not? I have not once asked about god stopping people from doing evil to others. I only asked about god HELPING people. You said we had to help them. Well, god can too, can he not?

    Now, I take issue with your "admit this or I won't answer your question" line. I don't like conversations in which I'm given an ultimatum.

    That being said, I understand your reason for it. I disagree that it is compassionate, fair or reasonable.

    If you don't want to answer my question, this is your blog, I can't make you.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    It's not a matter of not wanting to answer your question: Trust me, I answer your questions–both the one about man-generated evil and natural evil–all the time. I directly answer both in my very short book "Penguins," for instance, and I spoke on both those questions just last week.

    But you have, in my humble opinion, shown yourself willing to only take logic as far as it bumps into your personal convictions. You've only done that thus far; it's clear enough you'll continue to do only that.

    So, again, it's not that I don't "want" to answer your question. It's that I know in taking the time to answer it–to do it the very real justice it deserves–I'll be wasting both of our time. And that's just something I hate doing. I've already done too much of that here, and can't continue. Later, gator.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    Wow. I never knew you to be close-minded or dogmatic John, but you very clearly are being so here.

    Just because I don't come to your conclusions does not mean my logic is bumping into personal convictions. Saying you won't answer because you think I won't accept your answer is just copping out.

    I'll answer any question you ask of me. Whether I think you'll agree with me or not. Whether I think it's 'wasting my time' or not. Which suggests that you don't actually want a conversation. You want to give me your answers, and have me accept them without question. (Which saddens me, because I really do respect you and enjoy discussing things with you.)

    I'm sorry, but unless your answers strike me as right, that won't happen. And on this issue, they have no struck me as right or logical.

  • LCR


    "Therefore the statement (assertion) that God can do anything is false."

    Then the statement (assertion) that God is omnipotent is also false. Thank you for clearing that up.

    John Shore, you have not responded to my question regarding ultimate cause. I'm interested in your response to this.

    Andy, God created us with free will AND He is all-knowing, so by definition, he knew that his actions would ultimately result in evil behavior among humans. He is therefore responsible for that evil as it is the direct consequence of his informed actions. If this is not true, then which part of that first statement is false, that he created us with free will or that he is all-knowing?

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Morse and LCR, You may not have seen comment 169 because it was trapped in spam for a bit. I don't want you to think I left without at least saying something.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    LCR, Conceptually (not religiously) …

    Assuming an omnipotent being exists is it correct to assert: "An omnipotent being can do anything" ?

    Substituting … Can an omnipotent being create a rock so large that the omnipotence cannot move it?

    Regardless of your answer, "omnipotence" does not imply "can do anything." It is illogical to believe otherwise.

  • LCR

    Ric, you said:

    "Regardless of your answer, “omnipotence” does not imply “can do anything.” It is illogical to believe otherwise."

    I will agree that the concept of omnipotence is indeed illogical and can have philosophical holes punched through it left and right. But there is no getting around the fact that the definition of the word is literally "all power" or a power with no limits. No implications involved, that is the definition; that is what the word means. To use your words, it is "illogical" to argue (not believe) otherwise. You can not change the meaning of a word to fit your purposes. As soon as you impose limits upon omnipotent power, you are no longer speaking of omnipotence.

    Christians such as yourself insist that God can be characterized as "Omnipotent". Simply by definition, that means he is all-powerful; he has no limits on his actions. If that is not the case, if there are indeed things that God can not do, then he is not omnipotent. He may be very powerful, but because there are things he can not do, you need to find another more accurate word to describe that power, because "omnipotent" then gives a false impression of the extent of his power.

    And I get the rock thing, so you can stop bringing that up. I'm waiting for you to recognize and acknowledge the logical contradition of speaking about the things that a supposedly omnipotent god CAN'T do.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yeah, Ric.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    God did not create us to do evil. We decided to do it. We are responsible for the mess we are in, for the evil we do to each other.

    God is quite capable of doing something about all this. And someday He will. What we need to understand is that we should not be too eager for God to “do something about all this evil”, because until we are forgiven of our sin, we are each on the wrong side of God’s judgment. Because He loves us He is holding it back to give us a chance to repent and turn to Him. Even allowing us to experience the consequences of our evil is loving because it helps bring home to us the spiritual predicament we are in. And that spiritual danger is what God is most concerned about, and what we should be most concerned about.

    God is not cruel and manipulative, we are. He is loving. If He wasn’t, He never would have sent His Son, never would have created us with freedom to choose, probably never would have even bothered to create the universe and put Himself through all that He has. I doubt very much that I would have; fortunately, God is not like me. And it is so amazing that He cares enough about me to want to show me what love is all about.

    This wasn’t going to be a long comment, but you know me. :)

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    And my whole point is that if the first proposition is true, so is the second.

    Say you and I walk by starving men on the road. We are both capable of helping him. You stop and help them, but I don’t. You are helping them, and I am letting them starve.

    Why is god exempt from this? Does he chain his own hands? Does he say “nope, I will not save anyone from death” just because?

    If you have the ability to save someone’s life and do not, then you are guilty of assisting in their death. Obviously there are different levels of this. I can’t physically help anyone from dying sitting here at work. But I am a tiny bit guilty, because the excess I have could help others.

    God, being omnipotent, is therefore able to help anyone at any time. So if he exists and is omnipotent, then he is, by definition, the most guilty of assisting in the death of starving and dying people.

    I know you love your god, and you don’t want to think anything bad of him, but I’m not being illogical here. I’m sorry you can’t see that.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, I can’t do this with you anymore; you’ve Gone Stubborn, which always means a debate is over.

    One more time, and I’m outta this sad loop: God can’t violate the free will of any human because doing so would dehumanize that person, and God loves every person too much to rob them of that quality–free will–which defines us all. It doesn’t matter how awful a thing someone wants to do with their free will, God still won’t stop them from doing it.

    I keep saying that; you keep dodging around it. Happy dodging, mate.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    I’m not dodging! You seem to think that saving a person’s life is somehow breaking their free will. I’m not speaking about stopping people from doing evil. I’m talking about saving people from unfortunate natural occurrences.

    I don’t want to turn this into some silly “Yes you are, no I’m not argument”, but if anyone is being stubborn or dogmatic it is you John.

    I believe that you think I’m being stubborn because you don’t have a good answer for the question.

    But I won’t force you to continue down this road if it’s uncomfortable.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    I'm hearing the theme music for the Twilight Zone …

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    Your religion posits a man who can walk on water, turn water into wine and rise from the dead…and LCR's comment inspires the theme to the Twilight Zone?

    And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen


    Andy, God created us with free will AND He is all-knowing, so by definition, he knew that his actions would ultimately result in evil behavior among humans. He is therefore responsible for that evil as it is the direct consequence of his informed actions. If this is not true, then which part of that first statement is false, that he created us with free will or that he is all-knowing?

    I guess I disagree with the premise that since God created us with free will and is all-knowing, He is responsible for our evil actions. If parents could somehow know that their child would become a murderer, would they be responsible for his crime if they went ahead and had him? I believe God is responsible for allowing evil to happen, but He does not cause anyone to commit evil, nor can He Himself commit evil. (see James 1:13-18) Foreknowledge of evil does not equal responsibility for that evil when we chose to commit that evil, and when God allowing us to chose it results in a greater good — the ability to be in a meaningful relationship with Him.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    Logic is only as valid as your starting point. So your arguments could be logically valid, but still wrong and insane.

    I don't abandon logic. But I also don't give a label to something and then argue constantly why that label doesn't apply.

  • LCR

    Very good question.

    You will find that many atheists and agnostics who arrived there after spending much of their prior lives practicing a religion have dedicated a lot of time exploring the ideas behind their faith and asking harder questions about the contradictions that start to become apparent. It is often the absense of clear, logical answers to those contradictions that leads a person to conclude that religion is false and doubt the existance of a god. It is a relief to not have to do the mental gymnastics required to pretend that those contridictions don't exist or aren't imporant.

    But the curiosity over the attraction of religion remains and those questions about the contradictions have never been answered. Whenever I find a person or a group of people who feel strongly about their faith and seem to understand it well, I like to raise questions such as these to see if they can resolve the issues. I don't really expect any resolution, but its interesting to see not only what your responses are but how you respond. You are pretty typical in your response pattern.

    This conversation has been very curious. The God of my childhood was described as all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good, though that last bit was qualified with the understanding that if you were bad, God could be bad to you right back. God was a supernatural being and he was bigger than big, immeasurable by any human standards and indescribable as well. He could conceivably be anything he wanted to be, simply because he could, and you would never know when he might be influencing or evaluating you, so you better measure up.

    The God I've met in this thread is much, much smaller. He has limits. He can only do certain things. He is a good loving God who is not able to do bad things, even if he wanted to, and yet he is either powerless to help those he has created or he chooses not to, so he is either weak or mean. He forgives us of our sins simply by our agreeing to "welcome him into our lives"… in other words, he doesn't ask us to be responsible for our actions any more then he is responsible for his own. With each qualification, each description of what God is like or why he acts as he does, you manage to chip away at the immeasurable, impressive vastness of "God" and gradually reduce him to a meer "god" with human characteristics, weaknesses and foibles. Religion has nothing to fear from science because God's own followers will reduce him to nothing at all within a decade if you aren't careful.

    Oh, and the "logic" comment to Morse is absurd. Our questions were honest and born of logic. When you began to recognize that you couldn't honestly answer them logically without acknowledging the existing contradictions in your faith, you resorted to dishonest, snide, empty responses. Quite a soldier for your faith you have turned out to be. We would have respected you more if you had given an honest "I don't know but that won't change my relationship with God". The mental and semantic twists and turns you chose to take instead were interesting but not impressive or convincing in the least.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Morse, Thanks for the response. I do not understand what you are getting at with the "label" thing but that is ok…I'm not terribly interested in that. For what is is worth I agree with your bad doesn't mean right/wrong video on you youtube site. Although it won't fly well with mass media. Bad morals/Good morals whatever, its not what its about. That is, I am not a Christian because it teaches me good morals.

    LCR, If you are truly curious about Christian theology there are A LOT better ways to go about acquiring the information. I could recommend a few books if you'd like. Chatting with any old joe in blogosphere is not terribly reliable. Most of us here are unimpressive and unconvincing at our very best.

  • Second Michele

    About Omnipotence and Omnibenevolence (spell? :-):

    Titus 1:2 (New King James Version)

    2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began…

    James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

    2 Timothy 2:13

    Even if we are not faithful,

    he will remain faithful.

    He must be true to himself.

    It may be fair to say that God has "limitations" – in context of these verses.

    I"m not particularly threatened by my God giving Himself these limitations in Scripture. I would say that these texts argue for a God who is by nature Good, not one who makes up the definitation of "good" as He goes along.

    But to those who say "Well, then, Good must exist apart from God.

    And furthermore, we should be able to judge God by whether He meets His own standards of goodness"

    One problem with that thought is that God knows everything. We don't. We really, really don't.

    This is why God allows Earth to suffer the consequences of sin – the misuse of freewill on humanity's part – for a time. He knows it is best.

    We don't know that. We can't see that. We only see the evils of the world we're living in.

    We are limited in our ability to percieve evil. We see a Tsunami, have a family member get sick, watch a friend die. And we look at all these things and say they are evil. And they are.

    What we cannot look at, is the world that does not exist, the world where God never gave anyone free will, or the world where God zapped the first person who sinned, the world where people obey God only out of compulsion and fear not love, or just walk around like machines waiting for God to tell them what to feel and think.

    Although I cannot show you a comparison of the evils of a world that does not exist with the evils in the world we know, I will try to illustrate the choice God has made.

    Look at how we treat criminal defendants. We give them rights, even though many of them are obviously guilty. Sometimes, the guilty go free – and commit more crimes – as a direct result of the fact that there are certain things we as a society WILL not do to stop evil doers.

    And yet, while we do take responsability for the results of our justice system, it was not us who chose to commit those crimes. The evil was not our desire or our doing, but our UNWILLINGNESS to take certains actions against evil – because we respect human dignity – has allowed some crimes to happen.

    What we will not do, because of our moral code, is similar to what God will not do, because of His Code, and because of the alternatives that He can see and we cannot.

    To tie it back to the OP, God believes in our free will so much, He would take on the cumulative suffering of all the world upon Himself (in a supernatural experience that outweighed the physical torture of the Cross) – than deny us our Choice.

  • LCR

    My curiosity has lead me to read a selection of books and I have taken a few comparative religion courses over the past 15 years or so. As an anthropologist I find the history and development of religions in general to be fascinating. But since everything I read further amplifies the contradictions and incongruities of God and faith (which gave me the impetus to step away from religion in the first place), I am truly puzzled how others can remain such avid supporters. Its interesting to talk to the "old joes" of the blogosphere for some personal insight that I can't get from a book and I enjoy the back and forth between two opposing viewpoints. I really am interested in trying to understand why you feel it so necessary to believe as you do and I also don't think it hurts to have believers exposed to the ideas the make non-believers tick.

  • LCR

    Thank you, Second Michele, but what you need to understand is that your argument only makes sense if you are already a believer and if you are pre-biased to accept the conclusions made by your argument. When you speak that way to a non-believer (complete with bible quotations) it carries no power to persuade or explain, because it is based upon a belief system we don't follow. I am convinced that you believe in God, but I am merely left with the impression that the contradictions I've raised don't really concern you because you believe God doesn't want you to be concerned with them. The unquestioning acceptance of these conflicting ideas is very disturbing.

    Do you believe that purple unicorns exist? I'm guessing no. To get a feeling of how it is for a non-believer to read something like your post, insert the words "the purple unicorn" into the passage every time you see the word "God" and it might just give you a feel for how little sense it makes to us. I don't mean to offend, just as I know that wasn't your intention at all, but I hope this makes you more aware of how others see the world around you.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Ok… I’m am laughing now.


    For the record:

    God cannot:

    Create a rock too big (which is mathematically nonsensical)



    So I guess the argument is since God cannot be nonsensical and evil he is then not omnipotent…. So what you’re saying is if I drop the omnipotent claim, you will drop the nonsensical and evil claims? Its like a compromise right?

  • LCR

    Actually since God cannot be contained within our realm of reality (more limits and such), I find it curious that he must be sensical. Why must he obey the laws of our natural world since he is supernatural, or beyond that of the natural world? Why do you find it necessary to fit God into the same logical shoebox in which we are required to exist?

    And why in the world can’t God lie? More limits, huh?

  • LCR

    Ah, a snide comment…which means you can’t answer my question? Come on… help me understand.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen


    The issue of God alleviating human suffering is a complicated one, and a difficult one. What do you say to someone whose daughter is dying of cancer? So what follows is not intended to gloss over the difficulty of the issue.

    I believe that for God to allow suffering is part of getting us to realize there is a problem that needs to be addressed: Our relationship with Him is broken by our sin. In the Genesis account of the Fall, God did not send Adam and Eve straight to hell, but He also did not shield them from the consequences of their sin. He told them their bodies would return to the dust from which they came and that they would painfully toil to make a living (Genesis 3:17-19).

    God cares about our physical well-being. But He cares even more about our spiritual salvation. He understands, as we often don’t, that the first ultimately depends on the second. He wants to bless us, to shower His goodness on us. But because He loves us He cannot just do that if it runs counter to His plans for our salvation. I believe He wants more than anything for us to turn to Him so He can be good to us.

    Sometimes it might advance His redemptive plan to intervene supernaturally on behalf of a non-believer. And sometimes, the fulfillment of His purpose to bring about spiritual growth in the life of a believer might mean allowing adversity. That adversity does not come from God, it comes from this fallen world. Our world is a function of two things: 1) God’s perfect creation, and 2) Our rebellion against God. Whenever we talk about suffering or the human condition, we need to keep that in mind.

    And how do we know God has not stopped tsunamis from happening, or saved people from being killed in earthquakes?

  • LCR

    Andy said:

    “If parents could somehow know that their child would become a murderer, would they be responsible for his crime if they went ahead and had him?”

    If they knew absolutely (as God supposedly does) that their child would become a murderer and that there was nothing they or anyone else could do to turn him from that path, then yes, the parents would be just as guilty of the crimes as there child would be.

    In our criminal justice system, one’s foreknowledge of wrongdoing by another but with no action taken to prevent that wrongdoing can actually lead to charges of accessory to that crime. Not to mention the fact that it is morally reprerehensible to stand by idly and watch evil take place when it is within your power to stop it.

    So if God is able to prevent evil (is he?), evil that he knows will take place, and yet he chooses not to act and permit that evil to occur, then yes, he bears responsibility for that evil occurring due to his lack of action. I would also argue that it puts God’s moral judgement into question. Can’t say this recommends him as that special omnibenevolent someone with which I would wish to have a “meaningful relationship”.

    … Unless God is NOT all-knowing, in which case he wouldn’t be culpable? Ric seems willing to allow that God is not omnipotent, so maybe he is not omniscient either?

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth


    I am known for snide remarks (sarcasm) and for raising more questions than answering. Why do you ask so many questions about Christian theology?


    The twilight zone (where things are all backwards) was not inspired by a single comment but rather the DAY listening to you and LCR abandon logic without a second thought. I felt like I was listening to evangelical fundamentalists … not terribly pleasant. Why to you ask so many questions about Christian theology?

  • Born4Battle

    "When you speak that way to a non-believer (complete with bible quotations) it carries no power to persuade. . ."

    Without being personal, I wanted to comment on that statement. I don't know about other believers who have posted in here, but i don't see it my duty to 'persuade' the non-believer of spiritual truth, only to put it out there. Only the Holy Spirit of God can illuminate the human heart to God's truth.

    I commend any believer who applies Biblical truth (quotations) to any discussion!

  • LCR


    It's apparent that you fail recognize that your version of the New Testament Christian God is very different from other Christian versions. I have an uncle who is Methodist and a Bishop Spong enthusiast who doesn't recognize your God as his. I have a Unitarian friend who can't abide descriptions of God as she sees this as limiting God to that particular characteristic. My neighbors are avid creationists who believe that to live in fear of an all-powerful and certainly not necessarily loving God is the most righteous of paths to take in life. And then of course there are the Catholics (like my in-laws) who see God as a benevolent but occasionally tyrannical patriarch; they look on your version of God as a relatively powerless goody-two-shoes. Your vison of God is not universal to all who practice Christianity and is the product of your particular interpretation of the bible. So to answer your question, no, your contentions such as "God can not lie" are NOT basic Christian theology. They are unique to those of the evangelical flavors of Christianity. The fact that you do not recognize this is interesting and a little disturbing, but not too surprising. And no, I was not goading you. It was an honest question.

    And I understand that you feel that you don't have any choice but to believe as you do. But as someone who used to feel obligated to practice a religion, and no longer does, I recognize that you actually do have a choice. I'm just not sure if your failure to acknowledge this fact is due to fear of that option, stubborn blindness, or honest obliviousness.

    The "blue sky" exercise is not that useful. I get that God is real to you, as real as the blue sky itself. The purpose of my suggestion to Michele was to help her understand my perspective, which is often difficult or impossible for believers to fathom. And since she was trying to explain things to me, not the other way around, her choice of language and her explanatory perspective was what was in question, not mine.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    Speaking of theology…Reclaiming the Mind ministries has an online theology course aimed at those who will probably never go to seminary for one reason or another. You can pay $100 and get a certificate, or lurk in the shadows for free and go at your own pace.

    ANYWAY, these guys are Evangelical Christians, but they work hard to present the material irenically (?), which is to say they're trying to explain the various views objectively without attacking anyone.

    I've only made it thru the first session myself (I lurk), but was impressed by what I saw.

    So LCR (and/or anyone else interested in Christian theology) might want to check it out–


  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    LCR, Thanks for that insight. It helps to know that part of the driving force behind your questions is anthropology. As far as my recommendations for further study goes, I based that on what I read as surprise to hear “no he cannot” in response to “God can do anything.” I was under the impression that “God cannot lie” or “create a rock too big” were basic Christian theology. Or were you feigning surprise/ignorance to goad or bait as part of an anthropological study?

    I really am interested in trying to understand why you feel it so necessary to believe

    Actually, its not like that. There may be many who “feel it necessary to believe.” I do not. In my case I really have no choice any more. Its hard to explain but I like your “purple unicorn” approach so I’ll steal it for a moment. I know stealing a sin but I’m over it.

    For me and for many Christians, when someone who does not believe comes up and questions our view of God it is like someone coming up to you and trying to convince you that the sky is not blue. So if you would like to gain insight, anthropologically speaking, into what goes on in my head, substitute “blue sky” for God in all of your comments.

  • LCR


    If you are in a discussion with other believers, then of course you don’t need to persuade. But if you in a discussion with non-believers regarding your faith, what is the point of your participation? If you seek only to convince us or you faith, you are wasting your time and mine. I already believe you. But is you are trying to help us understand where we are wrong in our conceptions of your faith, then I’m afraid you need to use language that persuades. So its really up to you and what you hope to gain from the discussion.

  • Second Michele


    There are two differant discussions that are going on and we need to try to keep them separate.

    One is – Does the Christian God exist?

    The other discussion has to do with whether the beliefs of Christianity fit together logically **If they were true**

    When atheist ask if our God is just, or if the ideas of Omnipresence, Omnibenevolence, and Omnipotence can exist logically in the same being, Christians will not give an answer that tries to prove that God is not just like a purple unicorn.

    They will give an answer based on the **theory of God** set forth in our belief system and our Bible. I was trying to explain what the Christian God is like from the Bible and my own understanding – not prove His existance, but explain how such a God, if He exists, can be just. To explain such a God, I have to refer to the definition of what the Christian God is, ie, the Bible.

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to explain your beliefs without mentioning what the definition of your beliefs are – which are found in the Bible.

    You cannot be upset if you ask us questions about the Christian God, and we respond by discussing – of all things- the unbelievable, far-fetched concept of the Christian God, as described in the book which defines the Christian God.

    In school, you might be asked to analyze a character in mythology, even make arguements for or against certain personality aspects of that Character. Hey, people even do that when discussing fictional TV characters.

    But it is not logical to tell someone “Your theory about this character makes no sense because he/she is fictional.”

    Of course you will point out that I do not believe my God is a myth. Which is true, I don’t. But this is a logically separate debate from the defense or defamation of the “character” of God.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    Second Michelle, great answer on omnipotence and responsibility for evil.

  • LCR


    I believe I’ve been phrasing most of my questions as if the assumption that God exists is correct. I realize that it is not possible to provide evidence for the existance of God, so I am not expecting you to provide that for me… it was never part of my inquiry. But I was asking you to explain your ideas in generic, philosophical terms. Isn’t it possible to speak of God without refering to the Bible? Do you not consider issues of your faith and explore the ideas behind religion in your head or with others, using your own thoughts and words and not those of the Bible? Are there no other sources that could help you explain your belief system to me?

    If not, then our difficulty to communicate may be less in our thoughts on God than in our views on the Bible. Christians are willing to accept it as the “truth” and “the word of God” (though it has always fascinated me how selective you can be about which parts you actually accept into your daily lives and how you manage to ignore the inconvenience of the rest). Knowing something about the history of the Bible, namely who wrote it and who altered it to fit their agendas (fallible man, not God), I can’t do that. So if your definitions and understanding of God are based exclusively on the Bible, then any attempts to continue this discussion are futile, because in order to accept your arguments, I must do what I am unable to do: accept the Bible as truth.

    But if you would like to provide evidence as to why I should accept the Bible as truth, we can talk… as long as your evidence isn’t “because God says its the truth”. I’ve never been a fan of circlular logic.

  • Second Michele

    “So if your definitions and understanding of God are based exclusively on the Bible, then any attempts to continue this discussion are futile, because in order to accept your arguments, I must do what I am unable to do: accept the Bible as truth.”

    Not as Truth – Although I accept it as truth – but as an authoritative source for the definition of the Christian God.

    Back to the school analogy:

    You would never hear this in a Greek literature class “if your definitions and understanding of Hercules are based exclusively on the Greek Myths, then any attempts to continue this discussion are futile, because in order to accept your arguments, I must do what I am unable to do: accept the Greek myths as truth.”

    By the way, are you saying I didn’t give ANY philosophical arguements after I quoted the Scriptures? There is NOTHING in my post but Bible texts? NONE of those words were my own? Did I post that post myself or did a first century scholar do it for me? (Sorry, couldn’t resist :-0 )

  • LCR

    By whose “authority” is the Bible an accurate definition of God?

    I assume you wrote the post itself but all of your comments are unsubstantiated claims that I would wager to have their origin in the Bible, such as:

    “This is why God allows Earth to suffer the consequences of sin – the misuse of freewill on humanity’s part – for a time. He knows it is best.”

    “What we will not do, because of our moral code, is similar to what God will not do, because of His Code, and because of the alternatives that He can see and we cannot.”

    “God believes in our free will so much, He would take on the cumulative suffering of all the world upon Himself … than deny us our Choice.”

    Do you claim ownership for those ideas (not just the words), in which case I will make sure to cite you if I repeat them, or are they based on what you have read from the Bible or do you have another previously unmentioned historical source?

    I like your Greek Myth analogy. It is far more appropriate than you seem to understand. However it fails miserably to match these circumstances since no one actually believes the Greek gods are real, so we are free to discuss them abstractly as fictional characters from fictional, mythical tales. No conflict. No leaps of faith. No need to provide supporting evidence of their existence. But you are taking a series of stories that are mythical, just like the Greek tales, and you are expecting me to accept them as a description of reality, without any supporting evidence whatsoever. Do you see the difference? Accepted fiction vs. unsubstantiated claims of reality.

  • Em

    I’m going to be flippant for a moment, and say this: my dad spent 2 years dying of lung cancer. Jesus had a really bad weekend. Same end result. same loss of dignity. Dad suffered longer, if not as intently. How is it, being divine, and essentially immortal, Jesus managed to atone for all of humanity, and yet the death of my dad and the deaths of soldiers and those who died in service to humanity don’t count for that much? Jesus, theoretical as he is, didn’t sacrifice half as much as those who are dead /permanently/. It disturbing to hear the de facto claim that those deaths and sacrifices don’t matter as much as a sad but nevertheless common death of one man thousands of years ago (especially if that death was temporary).

  • Cliverty

    Second Michelle –

    You are absolutely correct to claim that the Bible IS THE authorotative source for "defining the Christian God" — Christians have no other book for doing that very thing so Christians call it "the WORD of God".

    So no matter if one is atheist or Christian IF the context is to "discuss the Christian God and ask why he would or would not do something" – THEN the source text that defines him is "logic to consult" —

    Impossible to escape your logic there. You are absolutely correct.

    Also you made a very good point that GIVEN a "free will" construct for the Christian God's creation according to the Bible – we would expect some of the same limits as we see today in our own justice systems. As the bible speaks about not removing the weeds from the wheat until the harvest "lest you destroy some of the wheat" so our Justice system might give a criminal more lattitude than "he deserves" to preserve our democracy.

    Good points all – thanks for sharing that logical presentation.


  • Cliverty


    LCR asks –

    "By whose “authority” is the Bible an accurate definition of God?"


    Well it's a no-brainer to see it as the authorotative definition for "the Christian God".

    But if you are not talking to a Christian – but to a Hindu — then I think you are going to have to speak in terms the Hindu documents for God.

    If you are trying to get to "IS THERE a GOD no matter Christian or Hindu" the answer is pretty obvious from nature – "Yes".

    The architecture and design for encoding, transmitting and decoding DNA has put that question to rest.

    But it does not tell us "whose God" – Hindu or Christian.

    If you start by asking the question "WHY would God allow…." or "Why would God do such-and-such" to a Christian – then you are going to "fully expect" an answer from "the Christian Text".

    Because (obviously) IF you got an answer "off the top of somebody's head" in response that flatly contradicted the Christian Bible – the next "obvious question" would be – "Well then why does the Bible say that God…" etc.


    LCM –

    "I assume you wrote the post itself but all of your comments are unsubstantiated claims that I would wager to have their origin in the Bible, such as:

    “This is why God allows Earth to suffer the consequences of sin – the misuse of freewill on humanity’s part – for a time. He knows it is best.”


    The fact that an atheist would not accept the Bible as "his authority" is not too surprising. The fact that an atheist would imagine that a Christian 'has another source the defines God as well as the bible" IS –


  • HOPE


    Words fail to grasp the pain of losing loved ones.

    The pain and death on this earth is awful and it doesn't give me hope of anything better but when I look at Jesus — I get a different picture — the hope (faith) that all this misery will come to an end.

    John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

    For me it boils down to hope — hope(faith) that because Jesus died for this world's sins — I have the great hope of going to heaven.

    John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life

    John 14:"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

    Jesus came so to take my sin so I can become the righteousness of God. I can truly say “In Jesus I am the righteousness of God.”

    2 Corinthians 5:21God made him(Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.

    Just a couple words of HOPE in a world of pain.

  • Cliverty

    EM writes –


    I’m going to be flippant for a moment, and say this: my dad spent 2 years dying of lung cancer. Jesus had a really bad weekend. Same end result. same loss of dignity. Dad suffered longer, if not as intently. How is it, being divine, and essentially immortal, Jesus managed to atone for all of humanity, and yet the death of my dad and the deaths of soldiers and those who died in service to humanity don’t count for that much?


    Good question! VERY good question.

    Is 53 says that as the Messiah "He took the stroke of justice for US to WHOM the punishment was DUE".

    In Hebrews 2 we are told that "HE tasted the sufferings of death" for everyone of mankind.

    In 1John 2:2 "He is the Atoning SACRIFICE for our sin and NOT for our sins only but for the SINS of the WHOLE World".

    You are right to conclude that what we see Externally in Christ's sufferings is NOT the "payment made" for sin. It is simply the outward physical form — the nexus/intersect in the Ven diagram in physical form that we can see.

    In the book of John we are told that BEFORE being crucified Christ stated that His soul was in supernatural agonay and torture "My soul is sorrowful even unto death" and the supernatural agony was so great that by the time He reached the garden – and while in prayer "He sweat great drops of blood" — on the cross He died "and both water and blood flood" showiing that the pericardium had burst around His heart due to the extreme suffering in paying for the sins of the world.

    So "IF" you are asking for the Christian "reason" as to why the sufferings of Christ are in fact that sufferings OWED by all mankind in the lake of Fire for all sins committed in all time — and yet to physical appearances – this is "a bad 2 days" — that is the rationale given.

    "God so Loved the World that HE Gave HIS only begotten son that whosoever Believes on Him might not perish but have ever lasting life".

    There is an interesting follow-up reading for this in John 11 where Mary and Martha come to Jesus in tears with the bitter lament "IF you had been here my brother would not have died" — might want to look that one up.

    in Christ,


  • Matthew Tweedell

    “And, to fulfill scriptural prophesies, he had to go out persecuted, so he did.”

    He did it so as the prophecies were fulfilled, but that is not *why* He did it so. Rather, because He was to do it that way is why the prophesies happened to say so, not the other way around.

    Jesus’ birth would not have any great significance for man except as a part of a chain of events that leads through His death—with which all that had to be done was accomplished—to the resurrection—with which begins the revelation of all that He had accomplished.

    Of course, disagreeing doesn’t make you or me hell-bound!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.p.engel Jason Engel via Facebook

    Engaging in a cute way, then dramatically undermined by the seriousness of the people posting comments to it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Derrick-Perry/742229193 Derrick Perry via Facebook

    I really wanted to ask this same question. But I still feel like it’s not answered. The ‘why’ part is still missing to me.

  • Linnea

    This is the part of Christianity I really have a problem with. Seems to me like the traditional view of Jesus’ death on the cross is just cosmic child abuse. How can you reconcile the idea that God loves us all unconditionally with the idea that “sin” is such a problem that God is helpless in the face of it, and the only way it can be dealt with is through a horrific “blood sacrifice”?

    I prefer to think that Jesus was killed *not* because God wanted it to happen, or planned for it, but because the political powers-that-be were terribly threatened by Jesus’ message of radical equality and justice. So, they condemned him to death as a revolutionary, a political threat.

    But that wasn’t the end of the story. God took what should have an awful moment, and instead turned it into one of the great triumphs of history, basically flipping the bird to the earthly powers-that-be, showing that injustice and violence and death would *not* have the last word in reality. *This* is the “good news” that God has for us!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Derrick-Perry/742229193 Derrick Perry via Facebook

    The traditional view of the atonement is a biblical one. The earliest new testament writings are attributed to Paul who generally agrees with (and is likely the progenitor of) this view.

    I’d hardly call the bible inerrant, but it is certainly a guide post for Christian theology as there is little written about Jesus outside of the biases of new testament authors (Flavius Josephus being the only one I can think of, whose work probably had Christian interpolation on the subject of Jesus).

    I would likely agree with your assessment that Jesus was executed as a socio-political threat. But then there ends the story. Many a prophet were even threatened or killed before him, so why treat this prophet especially well by raising him from the dead? Is it that he is god? If so, what did he come here for in the first place when he had a message supposedly identical and fulfilling of the law and prophets? What was accomplished then? Why call him god? Why base and change the Jewish faith into something solely about this Jesus (whom I might add is not the only one in the bible to be called messiah or Christ)?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linnea-Sommer/100000732918551 Linnea Sommer via Facebook

    Keep in mind, though, that much of what we consider to be Christianity was a much later development, and that includes the “traditional” view of the atonement. Also, though I respect some of what Paul has to say, not all of the letters attributed to him were actually written by him. Also, he was writing well after Jesus died; scholars think he wrote his letters a good 20 years or more later. So there’s a lot of room for changing interpretations of his death and resurrection in that time. Same goes for the Gospels; they were written long after Jesus died.

    I’m not saying others can’t hold to the traditional interpretation, but it doesn’t work for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Derrick-Perry/742229193 Derrick Perry via Facebook

    I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to suggest that your interpretation was invalid or that it shouldn’t work for you. It’s just that for me (as you mentioned) the entirety of the chronicles of Jesus were written well after his death. That and it is uncertain that the authors that we attribute to certain books actually wrote them. And even if they did, their own interpretation of old testament scripture was worlds different then their Jewish contemporaries or the orthodox today. In judaism the messiah is a warring king like David and an infidel slayer like Moses and Elijah who will give peace to the Jews. This idea of human sacrifice is anathema to Judaism, let alone calling a man god…Did I digress?

    I think what I’m saying is, for me, I can’t find an anchor to hold on to Christianity because there are an abundance of inconsistencies, errors, contradictions, holes and unanswered questions. I feel like belief in any religion is an all or nothing thing. And with all the basic issues of the faith being disagreed upon (and with some either ethical or logical failings) I can’t get the conviction to believe. And I really want something to believe in…:-(

  • Richard Lewis via Facebook

    I wonder if the concept of blood atonement, i.e., requiring the innocent to shed blood for the sins of another, is a holdover from bronze age morality? God has had a close relationship with me since before I even knew anything about Christ or Christianity. And that spiritual closeness continues even now. I’m not sure.