Genesis 3: God screws up the world, blames man

An Evil God Blog Series Header

This is the second part in the series An Evil God?

The Bible’s Answer

The Bible, like many myths, begins with answering how the world came to be and why it’s so screwed up.

The Bible tells us that God created everything in six days. He created Adam out of dust, and Eve out of Adam’s rib. (Woman, being the property of man, doesn’t get the dignity of her own mud spawning.) They were placed in the Garden of Eden and told they could eat of any fruit except one. If they ate that evil forbidden fruit, they would die that day.

Well, as you know, the snake tempts Eve, she eats the fruit and then Adam eats some too — and what do you know, they’re still alive. Soon after, God shows up, asking, “Where art thou?” (Come on, God, do you really not know?) When he finds them, he gets angry at their disobedience and curses Adam, Eve, the snake and the earth.

And that’s the explanation for why the world is the way it is — our ancestors ate some forbidden fruit, God got angry, and now everything is screwed up. That’s definitely on The Top 10 List of Worst Explanations Why the World is Screwed Up.

The Blame Falls on God

The story attempts to put the blame on man, but fails. The blame falls on God.

Man was doing what he does best — eating things that look delicious and disobeying rules for which he has no reason to obey. Only the snake gave an explanation, who said man’s eyes would be open, and they would know good from evil — that they would be like God. And you know what? The snake was right!

God was the one who made man with a nature that is susceptible to temptation. God made the tree look delicious and tempting. God made man to require reasons — and didn’t give him any. God created the snake and let him into the garden. And God knew all this would happen, yet still setup things so man would disobey him!

Man is not at fault — God is. This myth does not get God off the hook for what a crazy, screwed up world we live in — it would make him responsible for it.

What kind of God would punish so many innocent people and animals throughout history because of one sin that he orchestrated to happen? Why did he put the tree there anyway? Why did he make the tree have magical properties so that when they ate Adam and Eve “knew good from evil” — clearly a desirable thing? And if they didn’t know good from evil before they ate the fruit, how would they have known eating it was evil?

Some may find this story profound, but instead of answering questions, it just creates more. Of course it’s just a crazy ancient story, though — what did you expect?

Two Ways

There are two ways to view the world around us: the natural and the supernatural.

As we look around, we see that things are not ideal. Natural disasters kill millions of innocent people. Diseases ravage through populations. Children die of starvation. People are born with horrible birth defects. Good people suffer, while the evil prosper. Life isn’t fair.

Christians believe that God created the world and is in control of it, so they must find a scapegoat for all this evil that goes on. They can’t believe their God could have intended all this to happen. So they have the story of the forbidden fruit and Satan, the rebellious angel. Yet is the Bible’s answer really satisfying? As I have argued, it would make God responsible for this mess.

On the other hand, we have the natural answer. We see that there are natural laws and can predict many natural disasters. We know they are simply part of the world that we live in — parts that have helped form us, and without which we would not exist.

We can study disease and see it is not demonic or a superstitious curse. And as we have progressed in science, we have been able to cure many diseases.

We know that children are starving because of economic, agricultural, political, and cultural problems — problems that can be solved with science, government, and human compassion — not sacrificing sheep to an angry sky God who delights in the burning smell of animal blood.

The natural explanation makes far more sense than a supernatural one, and has the advantage of having an abundance of evidence. Why cling to old superstitions and supernatural boogeymen when we have a better natural explanation?

  • http://www.StevesPcGamez.com k12rswow

    If you were a robotisis, and you created a large array of intelligent droids. Say you gave them free choice to do whatever they wanted. Say the guy in the cubicle next to you hates you. He writes some malicious code, and temps your droids. Wouldn’t you feel good about the droids that decided to stick with you? The ones who were temped by your evil friend wouldn’t mean that much to you. You may be hurt by them rejecting you, and calling you names all the time. I suppose this life of ours is a proving ground for our loyalty to Christ. If we accept Christ, he will accept us. Please stick with God, it is not easy, and the devil knows us better than our mom does.

    • kefergus

      The Devil! Perfect! And who do you suppose created Lucifer? Do you think that God could not foresee what Lucifer would become? Creating the devil to ‘tempt’ us was just a mistake? There was an error in creating the angels, was there? Why would God banish him and give him a kingdom to rule? Why not just destroy Lucifer? Or maybe God and Lucifer are in cahoots… he is still God’s most trusted angel and rules all those who have disobeyed and punishes in the name of god. Or maybe we’re just terrified of opening our eyes to the truth: these stories are those of men. Not God. Not angels.

    • Andrew

      The fact that lucifer existed means god doesnt know everything. The bottom line of the human intelligence is that it requires LEARNING , neigh , ALL beings on planet Earth. Maybe thats gods pourpose for doing shit is to learn ? Learn about us , how we act , how we think , what we think , our perception and differences etc. How will anything move on in existence without LEARING…?

  • Russ

    If God had placed Jesus Christ in the garden, do you think that Jesus would have rebelled as Adam did?

    Yes, God does give man a free will. Man has the ability to receive the forgiveness of God or to reject God’s offer of eternal life. He does place before all of us both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Mankind does not suffer to this day for only Adam’s sin. Man suffers because man continues to choose evil above life even as Adam did. Man continues to choose rebellion above the forgiveness of God. God has gone to great extents to rescue man from His rebellion, including sending His only Son but man is more intent upon rebellion then forgiveness even when God offers complete forgiveness and newness of life without charge.

    … the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. [Rev 22:17]

    The tree is life is still available to you at no charge. Whose fault is it if you continue to choose rebellion above eternal life?

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    Thanks for the Sunday School evangelism time, guys! Do you really think that will be effective?

  • NobodyInParticulare

    “If you were a robotisis, and you created a large array of intelligent droids. Say you gave them free choice to do whatever they wanted. Say the guy in the cubicle next to you hates you. He writes some malicious code, and temps your droids.”

    Wouldn’t you run a diagnosis on the droids to get rid of the illegal code? Robots are expensive. You aren’t going to let them run around with faulty code. Wouldn’t you get the cubicle guy fired? Or at least punch him in the face?

    Of course, designing robots with freewill… one would expect them to rebel with or without “malicious code”

    (If you are going to posit a human hypothetical, I’m going to give you a human answer)

  • NobodyInParticulare

    Rewrite the code, try to fix it. Wipe their memory and reboot the original code.

    I’m certainly not going to “punish” the robots in anyway.

    The robots failure would be a refleciton of my own failure.

  • toddyenglish

    Okay, to answer the question about the rogue droids…

    Aside from the fact that Droids are machines and human beings are not is a non issue…

    The issue here is this. If this god is: benevolent, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient wouldn’t he have known that the droids would have gone rogue in the first place? Wouldn’t he have placed somekind of fail safe button within the rogue droids to ensure that they didn’t go rogue in the first place?

    Moreover, if he already knew they would go rogue why fault them for going rogue in the first place? If he gave them free will then choosing not to ally with him would be the droids following protocol (e.g. exercising their free reign over their own decisions).

    Basically, the robots screwing up would be a failure…And since the entire christian religion is predicated upon the idea that a God is perfect then that pretty much negates that right there. Our failures and screw ups are proof positive that God (if it even exists)is a colossal screw up.

    All of this madness is his fault, not our’s.

    Granted, I’m agnostic so I’m open to any possibility. But, sorry, I highly doubt the existence of a benevolent perfect creator that created humanity in it’s own image. If that is the case God must have a self esteem complex if: Perez Hilton, Bruce Valanche, and Whoopi Goldberg are all made in his image.

  • http://newworldliberty.wordpress.com/ jeepndesert

    god likes to pull the legs off bugs and humans because he is bored living in eternity. god is a punk. ignore him and go on with life.

  • TheOtherOne

    “If you were a robotisis, and you created a large array of intelligent droids. Say you gave them free choice to do whatever they wanted. Say the guy in the cubicle next to you hates you. He writes some malicious code, and temps your droids. ”

    You missed a really important part. In order for this hypothesis to work out, you had to:

    A) create a few angel-bots, and give them knowledge and free will;
    and

    B) despite being all-powerful and all-knowing, do this despite knowing IN ADVANCE that Bob was going to hate you and lead a bunch of them into rebellion against you; and

    C) create a planet; and

    D) after Bob leads some of the angel-bots against you, exile him to the planet; and

    E) create a new variety – humanbots. These humanbots will have free will, but not knowledge; and

    F) stick them on the planet you tossed Bob onto; and

    G) tell them not to eat this one fruit. Don’t tell them why, and don’t warn them about Bob.

    Oh, and despite having foreknowledge and all of that, don’t do anything to keep Bob away from them.

    H) punish them for failing to be perfect, when you set them up to fail.

    If God is all-knowing, then he CHOSE to create sin. Then he set up a no-win situation (sooner or later, SOMEONE was gonna eat that fruit, and he knew in advance that it would be Eve and Adam). Then he punished people for falling for the sin/trap he’d created.

    Yeah, that’s a nice guy. One I want to spend a lot of time trying to please.

    • kefergus

      Hehe… well said.

  • http://intrinsicallyknotted.wordpress.com Susan B.

    I’ve always thought the story would be better if Adam and Eve had not eaten the fruit but had instead left the garden and gone off to seek knowledge in their own way. What good is knowledge if it’s handed down from a higher being either willingly or unwillingly. I’d much rather learn for myself than suddenly gain knowledge by eating something.

    A good epilogue to the revised story would be for Adam and Eve, having mastered the breeding and cultivation of plants, to produce a delicious new breed of apple (such as my favorite, the Honeycrisp). Then one day they find their way back to the garden and see the tree still standing there. The snake offers them a taste and they try the apples (tradition calls the forbidden fruit an apple even if it’s never explicitly declared in the bible). But they find that the apples of the tree of knowledge are nowhere near as sweet and filling as the apples they’ve created in their own search for understanding.

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    -”I’ve always thought the story would be better if Adam and Eve had not eaten the fruit but had instead left the garden and gone off to seek knowledge in their own way. What good is knowledge if it’s handed down from a higher being either willingly or unwillingly. I’d much rather learn for myself than suddenly gain knowledge by eating something.”

    Wow, that would be a MUCH better story!

    Daniel, those are some great points about the A & E story.

    It makes me wonder…
    I’m sure you’ll get to the Noah’s Ark story, but if God flooded the Earth to “wipe the slate clean” so to speak, isn’t it God’s fault that people got so bad that he had to kill everyone?

    What I’m saying is: If he was pissed at how Man turned out, why didn’t he kill A & E and start again instead of waiting until there were many more (thousands/millions?) people to murder?

    I suppose the answer is just that Man would always choose evil, but that’s depressing.

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    TheOtherOne

    -”If God is all-knowing, then he CHOSE to create sin. Then he set up a no-win situation (sooner or later, SOMEONE was gonna eat that fruit, and he knew in advance that it would be Eve and Adam). Then he punished people for falling for the sin/trap he’d created.

    Yeah, that’s a nice guy. One I want to spend a lot of time trying to please.”

    Excellent points!

    But who are we to question his intentions? Right?
    BLEH!! How stupid.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @McBloggenstein: Thanks! I certainly will get to the Noah’s Ark story (probably after the next one). You make a good point about it being God’s fault. The main problem I have with that story is that only an evil God would do such a thing. Wipe out his entire creation! Did he see that coming? Bunch of crazy stories.

  • cello

    “The ones who were temped by your evil friend wouldn’t mean that much to you.”

    In this story, the evil friend = Satan – who God created. So has been pointed out hundreds of times, God created both good and evil. He created the temptation and the tempted.

    The usual follow-up is that God is testing us (purposefully tempting us) to see if we would choose him otherwise he will throw us in hell for rebellion, for not choosing him.

    Yet *among his own creations*, we can find more mercy and more compasssion than in this God itself. Yes, a parent would want to have a child choose to love the parent – but most parents would never throw a disobedient, or even unloving child, into eternal hell.

    Can God create a more merciful and loving creation than he, the creator, is? Would he?

  • Vorjack

    I have to feel sorry for the ancient authors/editors of the Pentateuch. I tend to see these stories as relics of a polytheistic past, with a God who is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, and certainly not omni-benevolent. Not alone, either, hence lines like Gen 3:22: “Behold, the man is become as one of us…”

    But the stories must have been popular, so they felt they had to work with them and fold them into the narrative. So they turned some of the other Gods into angels, turned the tempter into just a talking snake, and stuck God with both the roles of good guy and heavy.

    I guess it’s most obvious in the story of the ark. The Babylonian version is more sensible, since only some of the Gods decided to wipe out humanity, who were becoming too noisy. Another of the Gods slipped out and warned the Noah-analog to build a ship. But in the Hebrew version, God has to be both the flood-maker and the savior. I bet the authors hemmed and hawed over that one for a bit.

    The ridiculous part comes from the modern biblicists, who refuse to accept even the most basic aspects of higher criticism. They weave apologetics in a feeble attempt to make scripture fit with modern doctrine. Guys, the bible is in tension with itself. Get over it.

  • Dave

    I’m glad I found my way to this website. Very interesting.

    Russ wrote:

    >an continues to choose rebellion above the forgiveness of God.Whose fault is it if you continue to choose rebellion above eternal life?<

    Rather than think through what Daniel wrote in the above post, and discuss it Russ, you simply presuppose that your god exists. You fall back on blind faith, unable to confront the reality that the story of Eve and Adam is a metaphor. You can’t bring yourself to discuss specific contradictions.

    The story isn’t about the Fall, so much as it’s about what makes us human. And what makes us human is the self-realization that we are human – the knowledge that not only do we live, we also die.

    You can’t see any of this, Russ, because you’ve been blinded by your faith – you’re unwilling to accept reality.

    By the way, since the idea of a god is just a projection of who we humans are, it’s not surprising the Bronze Age thinkers would attribute human capabilities – and the lack of them – to their god.

    Which explains why bible god couldn’t find Adam and Eve when they hid from him. And it neatly explains how it is that a god can blame humans for screwing up: because a god is really just a projection of human thought, of human belief, it means that god is simply an imperfect human – one with power, perhaps, but a human none-the-less.

    It’s not a god who created humans – it’s the other way ’round.

  • James Lowry

    god screws up the world, blames Man. The title applies to almost the entire bible.

    If god created the universe and everything in it, that makes him responsible for it all.

    Saying that he created evil as a way of winnowing out the wicked among us means that god is just playing a cosmic game of the Sims with us, and I don’t believe that to be consistent with the idea of a loving god who cares about us as individuals.

  • Dave

    Sue wrote: “What good is knowledge if it’s handed down from a higher being either willingly or unwillingly.”

    That’s a good point. But I’m sticking with my own theory, which is that a god is a projection of human thought – we create the god, not the other way ’round.

    So, if god – unconsciously – is actually a human, then the story of Adam and Eve can be seen for what it is, a metaphor, a way of dealing with an important issue with a symbolic explanation.

    There’s an underlying poignancy, for me, in the story of Eve and Adam. For if we humans didn’t have the ability to know who are, what we are, then we’d be like the animals around us – we would not know of our own mortality.

    Yet, because we know who we are, because we know what we are, we also know that we are mortal. And that’s what makes life precious, at least to me.

    In a way, humans do earn the right to become human in the genesis story; they do earn the right to know who they are by believing what the serpent tells them, and acting on it.

  • Vorjack

    As long as we’re discussing the unfairness of God, maybe someone should speak for the snake. After all, he was only speaking the truth to Eve.

    And let’s suppose that most Jews and Christians are right and the snake was actually Satan in his role as the tempter. Why on earth did God curse every future snake for the actions of someone who wasn’t really a snake? The real snakes were innocent! Why take away their legs/wings/whatever because Satan decided to be long and thin that day?

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @Vorjack: You DARE question God?!? Now all your descendants and friends shall be tortured and killed! That’s only fair, right?

  • Vorjack

    Yikes!

    Really God, it’s not my fault! I didn’t want to question you, it was … was … that water buffalo over there! He told me to question you! Yeah, real subtil [sic] animals, those water buffalo.

    Yeah, God, so why don’t you make him and all his descendants flop around on the ground like giant fuzzy caterpillars. That’ll teach ‘em to be subtil.

    [I pity poor Eve, but you get the feeling that the whole snake thing was a sham, don't you? "Really, it was .. um,um,um ... a snake! Yeah, a talking snake, that's the ticket."]

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Even God falls for a naked chick telling him lies … So that’s something we have in common!

  • trj

    Most of us can agree that a literal interpretation of the Garden of Eden is ludicrous. But interpreting the creation myth as a metaphor doesn’t make much sense either (at least to me).

    I presume a metaphorical interpretation would be that the Fall of Man illustrates our imperfect and sinful nature. By our very nature we’re sinners, either from the moment we’re born (unless you believe Jesus absolved us of original sin) or we are 100 percent sure to become sinners during our life. We’re supposed to feel guilty and ashamed of this fact – even though God decided to create us this way. We’re supposed to feel guilt over being humans? I don’t get it. But maybe someone has a better metaphorical explanation?

  • Ty

    Any rational examination of early Hebrew scripture shows god to be an insecure and vindictive person.

    I also suspect there is something of the practical joker there.

    God: “You failed to follow my commandments! Now you will be destroyed!”

    Man: “Wait! What can we do to make it up to you!”

    God: “Uh, cut off a piece of your dick, and, uh… oh, don’t eat meat and dairy together!”

    Man: “Huh. Really? Ok. That doesn’t make any sense. But, I mean, I guess your ways are above our ways…”

    God: “Don’t forget it, buster, or I will smite the fuck out of you.”

  • Dave

    “I don’t get it. But maybe someone has a better metaphorical explanation?<

    I gave you the explanation above, trj, or at least my interpretation.

    What is a metaphor? A comprending the meaning of one concept by using another.

    Thus the story of Adam and Eve is the story of our coming to self-awareness as humans, and what that entails.

    God, in the bible, is the literal father. And Adam and Eve are like children, who one day learn about adult concepts – death, sex, taxes.

    The concept of evolution wasn’t possible, so the authors of Genesis came up with another way to explain why we are who we are. Yes, it has plot holes, it’s ridiculous when we think through it. It’s the best, though, a primitive culture could come up with.

  • scout

    This comment doesn’t have to do with this particular post and there might be a better place for me to post things like this, maybe not here at all.

    I’m just beginning to test the waters of my doubt. I was raised in a mainstream denomination and then spent many years participating in a charismatic, non-denominational church that I have since left.

    It probably sounds very basic to seasoned posters such as I read here but I just can’t reconcile the whole “inspired by God but written by man” premise of the Bible. How does that not throw into complete doubt the words found within? Therefore, putting a very large crack in the foundation of my supposed beliefs.

    Would love some thoughts but realize I might be in the wrong place.

  • Lord of Numa

    “If you were a robotisis, and you created a large array of intelligent droids…”

    The problem with using this as an allegory is that it does not fully match up.

    YOU would have been the one who wrote the faulty code, not Bob. You just left it lying on your desk, in plain view, knowing full and well that Bob (who is malicious because you were a complete douche to him at one point in time) would see it, and use it “tempt” your robots.

    You give your robots free will, and you expect them to not use it. You want your robots to be able to make their own decisions… as long as they make the right one…

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too…

  • Whateverman

    Why cling to old superstitions and supernatural boogeymen when we have a better natural explanation?

    Because the “naturalistic” explanation really doesn’t remove doubt and uncertainty. All it simply does is explain some of the things we see.

    In contrast, the questions that keep us up at night, tossing and turning in an attempt to forget their torment, demand answers that are unhesitatingly certain. We need to know why we exist, how the universe came to be, and what we’re supposed to be doing.

    Religion provides relief from these metaphysical demons, in a way that naturalism is powerless to match. The old superstitions ultimately yield tangible answers – regardless of whether those answers are accurate or not.

  • BrightonRocks

    Whateverman:

    ‘In contrast, the questions that keep us up at night, tossing and turning in an attempt to forget their torment, demand answers that are unhesitatingly certain. We need to know why we exist, how the universe came to be, and what we’re supposed to be doing.’

    Is that the royal ‘we’ you are using or are you just being a bit presumptuous in assuming that everyone else thinks like you?

    ‘We need to know why we exist’ – This just smacks of a feeling of self importance so great that you need a special reason to explain your existence. Does the same ‘need to know why’ apply to other animals, plants, fungi, bacteria or is it just humans that are so special that there must be a reason ‘why’ they exist?

    how the universe came to be’ – Our knowledge is increasing all the time via physics and cosmology. Currently there are several cosmological models that explain all the data and none of them require any supernatural intervention. If you want absolute certainty you will be waiting a long time but inserting ‘God’ or the supernatural into gaps in current knowledge is both bad science and bad theology as the supernatural diminishes to irrelevance as knowledge increases.

    ‘what we’re supposed to be doing’ – Again, why do people think that they are so special and important that there must be some purpose to their existence beyond the purpose they give it through their own humanity?

  • wazza

    Ty: Jeffrey Rowlands likens the Old-Testament God to a prisoner who’s just been transferred and has to make everyone respect him…

    scout: It depends what you’re looking for. We aren’t going to help you reconcile the supposed divine inspiration of the bible with its obvious mundane origin. But if you want help dealing with your doubts, you’ve come to the right place. I suggest heading over here and checking out their guide for the newly deconverted. It might help answer some of your questions even if you definitely don’t class yourself as newly deconverted at all.

    Now for my comment…

    Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is, in large part, an enormous examination of this very question (bundled up in the best comedy of the 20th century and a great plot). A few quotes might show what I mean:

    “I think it was a bit of an overreaction,” said the serpent. “I mean, first offense and everything. I can’t see what’s so bad about knowing the difference between good and evil, anyway.”

    “You’ve got to admit it’s a bit of a pantomime, though,” said Crawley. “I mean, pointing out the Tree and saying ‘Don’t Touch’ in big letters. Not very subtle, is it? I mean, why not put it on top of a high mountain or a long way off? Makes you wonder what He’s really planning.”

    God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

    “Well, nice try,” he said, in a completely different voice, “only it won’t be like that at all. Not really.
    “I mean, you’re right about the fire and war, all that. But that Rapture stuff — well, if you could see them all in Heaven — serried ranks of them as far as the mind can follow and beyond, league after league of us, flaming swords, all that, well, what I’m trying to say is who has time to go round picking people out and popping them up in the air to sneer at the people dying of radiation sickness on the parched and burning earth below them? If that’s your idea of a morally acceptable time, I might add.
    “And as for that stuff about Heaven inevitably winning … Well, to be honest, if it were that cut and dried, there wouldn’t be a Celestial War in the first place, would there? It’s propaganda. Pure and simple. We’ve got no more than a fifty percent chance of coming out on top. You might just as well send money to a Satanist hotline to cover your bets, although to be frank when the fire falls and the seas of blood rise you lot are all going to be civilian casualties either way. Between our war and your war, they’re going to kill everyone and let God sort it out — right?”

    “I don’t see what’s so triffic about creating people as people and then gettin’ upset ‘cos they act like people,” said Adam severely. “Anyway, if you stopped tellin’ people it’s all sorted out after they’re dead, they might try sorting it all out while they’re alive.”

    “Perhaps this isn’t just a test of the world,” said Crowley. “It might be a test of you people, too. Hmmm?”
    “God does not play games with His loyal servants,” said the Metatron, but in a worried tone of voice.
    “Whooo-eee,” said Crowley. “Where have you been?”

    “I don’t see why it matters what is written. Not when it’s about people. It can always be crossed out.”

    “Well,” said Crowley, who’d been thinking about this until his head ached, “haven’t you ever wondered about it all? You know — your people and my people, Heaven and Hell, good and evil, all that sort of thing? I mean, why?”
    “As I recall,” said the angel, stiffly, “there was the rebellion and–”
    “Ah, yes. And why did it happen, eh? I mean, it didn’t have to, did it?” said Crowley, a manic look in his eye. “Anyone who could build a universe in six days isn’t going to let a little thing like that happen. Unless they want it to, of course.”

    “If you sit down and think about it sensibly, you come up with some very funny ideas. Like: why make people inquisitive, and then put some forbidden fruit where they can see it with a big neon finger flashing on and off saying ‘THIS IS IT!’?”

    He couldn’t see why people made such a fuss about people eating their silly old fruit anyway, but life would be a lot less fun if they didn’t. And there was never an apple, in Adam’s opinion, that wasn’t worth the trouble you got into for eating it.

    “Admittedly, you’ve already been bait-and-switched here, because this isn’t really a document about atheism. This is not a bad thing. Essentially, knee-jerk atheism is no better than unexamined religious faith, as it is as often as not a purely emotional response to an adverse religious experience. This document is trying to put you on a somewhat better footing, a rationalist one in which you feel comfortable asking the questions that everyone always told you that you weren’t supposed to ask. You’ve heard the phrase “curiosity killed the cat”? That’s a very stupid aphorism. Curiosity is a great thing, and it’s part and parcel of practically every great discovery in the history of humanity. Be curious. Do outside research, then research the research. Don’t ignore inconvenient data. Strive to find the truth about everything.”

    Of course, this only barely scratches the surface of what is truly an amazing book, but it contains a lot of thoughts pertinent to the discussion and this way is faster than individually hunting down everyone in this discussion and standing over them with a 2 by 4 and a meaningful look until they’ve read the whole book.

  • http://digitaldame.wordpress.com Digital Dame

    scout said:

    “I just can’t reconcile the whole “inspired by God but written by man” premise of the Bible. How does that not throw into complete doubt the words found within? Therefore, putting a very large crack in the foundation of my supposed beliefs.”

    Well it does throw it all into doubt. Most of us here accepted long ago that it’s not inspired by God. It was created by man, for man.

    And Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman RULE!

  • TheOtherOne

    scout,

    It’s actually worse than “inspired by God but written by man”. It’s more like “inspired by God, passed down through oral tradition, translated into a different language in order to write it down (before punctuation, yet), then translated from the original written text into a foreign language.”

    Oh, and did I mention the times that a group of guys (or just good ol’ King James) went through the various written texts and decided which ones were going to be put into this version? And how the translation would slant if there were any questions about what a particular section of text meant?

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Dave:
    Re. Metaphor. Your explanation is a succinctly-put version of the way my dad explained Genesis to me.

    @scout:
    Welcome. As to the Bible, I see nothing more likely in its authorship than “Written by ancient men, interpreted by generations of others.”

    I mean, different versions of the Bible contain different books–which one is the inerrant version?

    The book we now have is very different from what the original church fathers worked with. And truly, one wonders what it will look like in a hundred years. What will get added or deleted?

    @Wazza:
    TP and NG do indeed rock hardcore. However, I feel Adams is better expressed on this point:

    ”Your God person puts an apple tree in the middle of a garden and says do what you like guys, oh, but don’t eat the apple. Surprise surprise, they eat it and he leaps out from behind a bush shouting `Gotcha’. It wouldn’t have made any difference if they hadn’t eaten it.”

    ”Why not?”

    ”Because if you’re dealing with somebody who has the sort of mentality which likes leaving hats on the pavement with bricks under them you know perfectly well they won’t give up. They’ll get you in the end.”

  • Pingback: Is God Evil? A Response, Part 1 (Adam and Eve) « Apologia

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    Everyone,

    If you have an hour to spare (no kidding, it’s that long) check out Eric Kemp’s response to this post. You may remember him spurring up quite a debate on the 1st Evil God post. The comment before this one is the pingback.
    I just got through reading it.

    Here’s the conclusion from his post:

    In order to call God evil, Daniel must deny human and angelic free will and responsibility, falsely portray Biblical accounts, ignore context, and judge God’s actions according to his own ideas.

    That pretty much sums up the entire post. Eric analyzes just about every part of Daniels post, and mostly tries to make the point of: Who are we to put our morals and judgement on God? He is all mighty, he does what he does for a reason, and we shouldn’t question that reason. Eric sticks with the idea that just because something is irrational, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    I’m going to have to say that Eric is again forgetting that we are judging this story of the bible on the basis that it is just a story, and not what really happened. I don’t want to speak for all atheists here, but the fact that it does not follow logic (and especially the logic that we would hope an all-powerful god would possess) is in fact a good reason for me to not believe in it as fact and a true account of events.

    Eric would say: Who are we to put our logic on God?

    I would say: I am a human who has free will, and if I want to put my morals and logic on THE IDEA OF GOD, then I will.

  • Jabster

    @McBloggenstein: One problem I’ve always had with the whole defending the illogicality of Christian thinking and the Bible is why even bother with the first reason, in this case god gave man free will, if when you explore it further the end answer is always the same – god works in a way that we can’t hope to understand. Why not just skip straight to it and say that to every question about god’s behaviour. This is of course complete forgotten when using the Bible to justify actions other actions in the name of god – persecution of homosexuals yep the Bible says so even though it is often claimed that we can’t hope to understand the mind of god yet we some how managed to write down his thoughts in a book and these ones just happen to be perfectly clear.

    The Bible is a true account of events in much the same way as Jeffery Archers autobiographer is.

  • TheOtherOne

    In order to call God evil, Daniel must deny human and angelic free will and responsibility,

    Uh-huh. So.

    I intentionally design an artificial intelligence. Call him AR-2. I have some options. I can give it truly free will, or I can make it “sinless”. I choose to give it free will.

    But I put in a “feature” (which some might consider a bug) that says that if this new intelligence commits an act of which I disapprove, it will give up 20 IQ points and become vulnerable to attacks by hackers.

    I don’t actually TELL AR-2 about this, I just tell it that it is not allowed to look at the Cute Overload website.

    I also don’t mention that AR-1, my first design, came out kinda sneaky and we don’t get along so well anymore.

    So AR-1 comes along and says “hey, you know, there’s a reason that controlling b*tch doesn’t want you to look at CO. It’s because you’ll see enough and learn enough there to figure out for YOURSELF who’s cute and who’s not.”

    Come on. Can I *really* argue with a straight face that it’s AR-2′s own fault that he’s now crippled by hacker attacks? Really?

    I created the situation. I gave him “free will” but not the information he needed to make an informed choice. And I’m responsible for not protecting him from that sneaky AR-1. Not to mention my responsibility for having created AR-1, when I knew from the get-go that he and I were going to become mortal enemies and that he would be responsible for unending pain and devastation for the entire AR series – for thousands of years.

  • Russ

    We are not droids. We are human. Our choices are not based on “code”, they are based on love. Either love for ourselves, love for others or love for God. We are not robots and all coding analogies fall far short of who we are as humans.

    God is the source of life. You are the manipulator of 1’s and 0’s. There is a huge difference between the two. If you think that because you can manipulate 1’s and 0’s that you are operating on the same level as God, you are full of yourselves.

  • TheOtherOne

    Russ, you don’t get it.

    Whether we’re human or robots, the Bible story describes a situation in which an all-knowing God created the being that would become the Devil. He then put that Devil in a place where the devil would have free access to unknowing, unwarned humans.

    He then gave humans “free will” and gave one single order. He didn’t explain the reasons, or the consequences. Since they had no knowledge of sin, they had NO reason at all to not believe the snake. What’s a lie? Why would someone/something try to mislead them?

    God made them “innocent” not just in the sense of not having sinned but also in the sense of “vulnerable and unprotected”. And then he failed to protect them. Worse, he put them in a spot where the devil could access them.

    Then – well, I was going to say that he watched what happened. But all-powerful and omniscient, right? He didn’t have to watch – he got the preview. And he LET the snake mislead her. And he WATCHED her “sin”. Then he waited until after she goes to Adam, and THEN he gets all smitey on them.

    HOW is this humanity’s fault? More to the point, how on (pardon the pun) God’s green earth could it be MY fault?

    *HE* created the situation. He did it knowingly. He didn’t just give us free choice – he *created* sin, and he created the devil, and he put us where the devil could get at us.

    And then he tells us it’s OUR fault? Oh, HELL no.

    If in fact I saw any evidence that any of it were actually true, I’d have some words to say to the big guy. As it is, there’s no point in resenting someone’s fictional character for the fact that the first few chapters are a lousy, horrible, nasty, mean-spirited story.

    But the character? Is a nasty, lousy, horrible, “gotcha”-grabber.

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    Our choices are not based on “code”, they are based on love. Either love for ourselves, love for others or love for God.

    Russ, you’re right… I forgot about love.

    I think we need some Whitney Houston music or something here. Or Celine Dion?

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @McBloggenstein:
    I don’t think I’ll follow that link. Kemp seems intellectually dishonest to me, and perhaps a little crazy, judging by his circular argument.

    “Eric would say: Who are we to put our logic on God?”

    –I’m his Son. So they tell me. But we haven’t talked much lately. He was never around very much, and since I hit adulthood he just seems to have taken himself off somewhere.

    Maybe he’ll call. I mean, it’s not like he doesn’t know my number …

    @Russ:
    So god’s analog? I’ve always kind of thought so.

  • Jabster

    @Metro: I’m not sure that intellectually dishonest is the right phrase to describe Kemp just plain old blinkered and closed minded seems about right to me. Just take a look at some of his blog entries and comments. You sort of wonder why he bothers replying to negative comments at all when when many of them are just of the form of “no I’m right and you wrong because I say so.”

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    McBloggenstein

    I would actually ask what your definition of logic is and if you could please explain how the Genesis account defies that logic.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Metro

    I’d like you to explain where my argument is circular

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Jabster

    If you could please show me a single argument I’ve made that can be ACCURATELY paraphrased with “I’m right because I said so”, that would make you less dishonest.

  • Jabster

    @Eric: Well maybe you could post this evidence you have for a Christian god that you’ve repeatedly been asked for but have never posted?

    Oh and I would love to answer your question but on the grounds that we can’t even prove that matter exists then I’ve decided that it’s invalid – hope that’s ok with you.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Jabster

    Well done! Make a claim, and then when challenged, change the subject! I can tell this is the beginning of an honest, cordial, and fruitful discussion.

    Also, I was never asked for evidence of the Christian God, I was asked for evidence of God. You can move goalposts if you want to, but that was the original question (if we ignore the fallacious “prove God” question). I already gave some evidence with the kalam argument:

    1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause
    2. The Universe began to exist
    3. The Universe has a cause

    Now, I already showed how the “yea, well what cause did God have?” argument has nothing to do with the question at hand, in fact, that argument forces you to admit that God created the universe and I know that you don’t want that. So you can’t use that one.

    Also, it was suggested that the Universe has always existed, yet that can’t be since we know there was a Singularity. So you can’t use that one.

    The question of, “why is that cause called ‘God’?” was asked, but when I asked, “What else could it have been? What else would you call a force powerful enough to create a universe?”, I got no answer. So perhaps you can start there.

    Oh, and the argument was generally incredulously strawmanned, mocked and berated just so those who didn’t want to answer it didn’t have to. Perhaps you’ll finally take up the challenge Jab, I’m willing to give you another chance!

  • Jabster

    “@Eric: Well maybe you could post this evidence you have for a Christian god that you’ve repeatedly been asked for but have neverSo just dodging the question again then are we?

    So just dodging the question again then are we?

    “Well done! Make a claim, and then when challenged, change the subject! I can tell this is the beginning of an honest, cordial, and fruitful discussion.”

    Which is part of your posting style – it’s rather funny when it’s turned around on you isn’t it?

    Oh and another chance for what – for you to show how blinkered and close minded you are? I have the answer now find the facts! I’ve personally decided that in actual fact the universe doesn’t exist as we understand it and it’s really a theme park for a tourist it just so happens we don’t know about it so you holy text is basically a prop – think of it as more sophisticated version of Second Life. So all those thoughts you have well this ‘universe’ was only created a week ago so none of your memories are real and the tourist is going home next week so it will all disappear. Admittedly I have no evidence for this but that doesn’t seem to be important to you so I’m sure you’ll also believe this!

  • BrightonRocks

    Eric Kemp:

    1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause
    2. The Universe began to exist
    3. The Universe has a cause

    Not the argument from first cause!

    But this has been known to be logically and philosophically bankrupt for centuries. Why do people who otherwise appear intelligent, educated and thoughtful wheel out these well worn arguments that have been thoroughly refuted?

    Axiom 1 is just an unwarranted assertion.

    Causality certainly seems to apply to much of what we observe now but you just don’t know that it applies to everything and throughout all of space\time. Even certain phenomena that can be observed today, such as particle\antiparticle pairs coming into existence and then annihilating, appear to be completely random and without any cause.

    Axiom 2 is another unwarranted assertion.

    Did the universe ‘begin’? I don’t know and nor do you. There are valid cosmological models that do not require a beginning to space\time and others that do (in fact the Cyclic model of Turok and Steinhardt works either way).

    Furthermore causality implies a temporal relationship as if A causes B then A must occur before B. How therefore can you apply causality at or before the beginning of time? It’s just logically incoherent to even talk about causality before space\time exists as by definition there is no ‘before’ in which a cause can exist. IF the Universe had a beginning then that was the beginning of time and you cannot apply causality to this ‘beginning’

    Axiom 3 is therefore not justified as it relies on unwarranted and logically flawed premises.

    There are several other well known objections to the ‘first cause argument’ such as the fact that the Universe is not a ‘thing’, it is the ‘set of all things’. It is well known that a conclusion about a member of a set cannot just be applied to the set, as a set cannot be a member of itself. Thus a conclusion concerning things in the Universe cannot be applied to the Universe itself .

  • Jabster

    @brightonrocks: I’m disappointed you didn’t mention my theory of what the universe is!

  • BrightonRocks

    jabster:

    I’m disappointed you didn’t mention my theory of what the universe is!

    That’s because you clearly state that you have ‘no evidence’ so yours is a ‘faith’ based position that I’m more than happy for you to believe in. Of course with the proviso that you don’t try to force it on me and that your belief doesn’t lead you to spouting offensive or bigoted nonsense about us ‘non believers’.

    If however you tried to bandy about a logical argument to support your belief that was hopelessly flawed then, whilst still being entitled to your belief, you may expect some criticism of the argument.

  • wazza

    Indeed, causality, which is required for the “first cause” argument, relies on the laws of physics. And the thing about singularities, the really important thing, is that the laws of physics stop applying once you reach one. That’s why they’re so “singular”.

    So inside a singularity, there is no cause and effect, therefore no need for a first cause.

    Also, even if there was, why would that cause need to be God? I can start an avalanche in the mountains, if the conditions are right, but that doesn’t make me the Wintersmith.

    And finally, even if the first cause is God, why should it be the Christian God? Why not an impersonal god? Why not a destructive or evil god (I admit, for the earlier parts of the Bible that basically is the Christian God, though Christians always claim otherwise…)?

    So, this is your logic: gaps all the way up.

  • Russ

    God created man with a free will. True
    God placed man in paradise. True
    God created a perfect woman to keep him company. True
    God had daily conversations and fellowship with man in the garden. True
    God warned man not to eat the fruit of just one tree. True
    God placed a fallen angel in the garden to tempt man. True
    God knew that man would sin. True
    Man had no choice but to disobey God. False

    God truly gave man a free will and a choice. Man chose to rebel against God and man continues to rebel to this day.

    Adam was only told about death but he could not truly appreciate all the consequences of his choice because he had never seen death. The only life he knew was perfect life without pain and without end. You on the other hand have experienced both the joys of life and the pain of death. You are in a better position then Adam was because you have knowledge of both good and evil.

    Today you also have a choice. You can continue to act as Adam did or you can become a son of the 2nd Adam, Jesus Christ. The choice is yours and you have the free will even as Adam did to choose life or to choose death.

    You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? [Rom 9:19-24]

    If you will repent and ask God to save you he will soften your heart but if you continue to accuse God of being evil, He will continue to harden your heart.

    Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Jabster

    Again, well done sir. You have no response to the kalam argument and now everyone knows it. No, wait, that’s not fair, you DO have a response. It’s to mock, berate and be sarcastic just so that you can deny your irrationality in being unable to answer the most basic argument for God’s existence and yet still call yourself an intelligent atheist. Keep it up!

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Eric:

    “So just dodging the question again then are we?

    “Well done! Make a claim, and then when challenged, change the subject! I can tell this is the beginning of an honest, cordial, and fruitful discussion.”

    And with that response, sir, you push yourself over the edge of trolldom and into the abyss.

    Intellectually dishonest. I was a little uncertain before, but you’ve cleared that up nicely.

    You understand the question put to you. You refuse to respond.

    Argument FAIL.

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    “I would actually ask what your definition of logic is and if you could please explain how the Genesis account defies that logic.”

    My definition of logic is the same as the dictionary’s:

    – reason or sound judgment, as in utterances or actions
    – The relationship between elements and between an element and the whole in a set of objects, individuals, principles, or events
    – The study of the principles of reasoning, especially of the structure of propositions as distinguished from their content and of method and validity in deductive reasoning.

    Ok, the word reason is used a lot in those definitions, lets look that up:

    – sound judgment; good sense
    – normal or sound powers of mind
    – the power of intelligent and dispassionate thought, or of conduct influenced by such thought

    Now let’s look at the story again…

    An all-knowing, all-powerful god created Satan.
    An all-knowing, all-powerful god created the garden.
    An all-knowing, all-powerful god created Adam.
    An all-knowing, all-powerful god created Eve.
    An all-knowing, all-powerful god gave A&E one rule.
    An all-knowing, all-powerful god waited to see what would happen.
    An all-knowing, all-powerful god watched while his creation broke his one rule.
    An all-knowing, all-powerful god decided instead of killing A&E for breaking his rule, that he would let them populate the Earth with sinners and if they do not believe in him, they will burn in hell for eternity.

    So, the conduct of this god in this scenario is not reasonable.

    As Daniel says above: “God was the one who made man with a nature that is susceptible to temptation. God made the tree look delicious and tempting.”

    Beauty, and the idea of something being delicious, is purely subjective. Wouldn’t A&E would have been lucky if they didn’t really like apples, like my brother who never eats them?

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Russ:
    So if you offer your kid a choice, knowing that the child will choose to disobey; that is, you are fully aware that when offered the choice the child will make a choice that will condemn him/her and all their descendants to a future of pain and heartbreak …

    And knowing that since you are sole judge, jury and executioner in the case, it’s you that will be inflicting that misery on them …

    And because you love them all, even above your “only son” …

    What do you do?

    a) Shrug philosophically and start heating up the branding irons?

    b) Issue a stern warning, but heat up the irons anyway.

    c) Remove the option to disobey.

    God appears to have made a choice that’s more in line with Vlad Tepesh than St. Francis.

    God cannot have given humankind free will. Because the moment a thought crosses the mind of God, then it is so, right? He knew how it was all going to fall out, so that was how it was going to be. But He still allowed it to happen.

    We cannot oppose the will of God, so the only way for us to disobey God is if He plans it that way to the last miserable detail.

    However, if you call out to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, even at the eleventh hour he will admit you to heaven, where there are beer fountains and a stripper factory.

    Ra-men.

  • Jabster

    @Eric: Nope I gave you a response yet you cannot argue against it. Please post why my facts about the tourist is any different to your facts about your Christian god and more importantly less rationale.

    Oh and you don’t seem to have replied to the other part of the post where you claimed you had never been asked the question:

    “@Eric: Well maybe you could post this evidence you have for a Christian god that you’ve repeatedly been asked for but have never.”

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    @Russ:

    God created man with a free will. Mmm.. Not likely.
    God placed man in paradise. Highly improbable.
    God created a perfect woman to keep him company. Do they exist?
    God had daily conversations and fellowship with man in the garden. Naa…
    God warned man not to eat the fruit of just one tree. Nope.
    God placed a fallen angel in the garden to tempt man. Doubt it.
    God knew that man would sin. Hmm, assuming this really happened, I would say True.

    Man had no choice but to disobey God…

    …I don’t think anyone said that. It has been said that God set up the scenario so that what A&E did was extremely likely to happen. This does not mean they did not have a choice.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    One of the things I find strange about Christians here is they just assume this story is true. Why? There’s no evidence for it. Christians reject all the other myths like this. Why would this one be any more credible? It’s just as absurd.

    Shouldn’t the default response be to not believe this unless there was sufficient evidence? How can a story written down thousands of years after this supposedly took place be counted as evidence? Because that’s ALL there is.

  • wazza

    but Daniel… teh divyn insparayshuns!

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @wazza: Doh! I Forgot about that classic argument:

    1. Genesis doesn’t say it was inspired by God and there it is no evidence it was.
    2. But we have faith it is inspired!!!! jESUS, mY pRECIOUS sAVIOR, wROTE iT!!! MMMM!!!!!
    3. Therefore, Genesis is inspired by God and the Adam & Eve story is true.

  • wazza

    @Eric: you were answered three times, quite clearly, and so you said “ha! You can’t come up with an answer!”

    I think that’s your debating technique in a nutshell

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Metro

    I answer Jabster’s question, please read a few sentences later in my comment and you’ll see that I answered it.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Wazza

    You’re right, on the previous thread, I was answered by several people and I summarized their answers in my comment on this thread. If you disagree, then show me where.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Jabster

    If you consider your tourist canard to be a response to the kalam argument then you are just plain daft. If you would at least admit that all you’re doing is mocking the silly Christian because you find it fun, then I could at least consider you to be a rational person. But to really believe that some tourist story that has NOTHING to do with the kalam argument, as an answer to the kalam argument…that’s just daft.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Brightonrocks

    “Causality certainly seems to apply to much of what we observe now but you just don’t know that it applies to everything and throughout all of space\time.”

    You’re right, we can’t know for sure that causes were needed before time began. However, here is the problem with that: We’re just humans right? And science is based upon what we can see and observe, science requires cause and effect to be verifiable. So everything that we can see and observe, everything that science can verify, tells us that everything that begins needs a cause.

    So to say that “perhaps”, at the Singularity, causes weren’t needed, violates all known natural law. It’s pure speculation. Am I to subscribe to some speculation that perhaps the law of cause and effect could be violated? Or am I to relate the things I can’t see to that which I can see, namely, that everything needs a cause? That’s an honest question.

    “I don’t know and nor do you. There are valid cosmological models that do not require a beginning to space\time and others that do (in fact the Cyclic model of Turok and Steinhardt works either way).”

    It depends on what your definition of “valid” is. Since we know the universe is still expanding, there is no evidence that the universe will STOP expanding and turn in on itself (which the Cyclic model requires). Is the Cyclical model empirically valid? Nope. More speculation is needed to deny a cause.

    “Furthermore causality implies a temporal relationship as if A causes B then A must occur before B. How therefore can you apply causality at or before the beginning of time?”

    This begs the question of wether or not time beginning needed a cause. Why did “causes” start beginning? If you were saying there was no cause and effect before time began, then what caused cause and effect to begin? Nothing?

    Anyway, Jabster, this is an example of a logical response to the kalam argument.

  • Jabster

    @Eric: So the points to go through are:

    You claimed that you have never been asked for evidence that the creator was a Christian god yet it was clear that you had been and I posted as such. You have still failed to post any evidence. If you wish to admit you have no evidence then please post as much and stop avoiding the question.

    You have asked me to take up the “challenge” and I replied with the tourist response to which your reply is “then you are just plain daft”. Just because you say something is daft doesn’t mean that it is*. Please post why this is daft using the criteria that you have put forward for why a Christian god was creator.

    * Yep turning your words around on you again – isn’t it fun?

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Eric Kemp
    Troll, I have nothing I wish to discuss with you unless you produce this alleged evidence for a god, any god, you claim to have, and for which you have been repeatedly asked.

    Produce it, or go away.

    Until then, you are violating the terms of civilized discourse and I don’t see the point in trying to communicate with you.

    Troll is as Troll does.

    Run along now.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Jabster

    “You claimed that you have never been asked for evidence that the creator was a Christian god yet it was clear that you had been and I posted as such.”

    No, I stated that the original question was “prove God exists”, which was then modified “Provide some proof of God”, which I then put forth the kalam argument. You have, so far, had no answer for the kalam argument. If you want to ignore the kalam argument by moving goalposts to “provide evidence of the Christian God”, that’s great, but it’s not the original question. Nor is it something that I’m interested in, nor is it something I need to do to show your atheism to be irrational. Although you’re doing a pretty good job of displaying that fact yourself.

    ” Just because you say something is daft doesn’t mean that it is*. Please post why this is daft using the criteria that you have put forward for why a Christian god was creator.”

    You’re right, just because I say it is doesn’t make it so. So I’ll show you. Firstly, I never agreed to put forth evidence that the Christian God was creator. Why would I do that when we can’t even agree that there was a creator? You’re attempting distract from the issue, and move goalposts, just so you can ignore the kalam argument.

    So since I wasn’t putting for the Christian God as creator, the kalam argument only puts for a cause for the universe, your “tourist” response was one big strawman (arguing against a point I never made). Like I said, if you want to just mock and berate than admit it. But to actually think that arguing a strawman tourist analogy is actually a response to the kalam argument is just plain and purposefully daft.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Metro

    I’m confused to how you can say that I haven’t put forth an argument for God when I’ve repeated the kalam argument twice now. Perhaps you should read all the posts I’ve made before you judge.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    Seems to me the kablooey argument has been refuted quite a few times here. If the argument isn’t convincing anyone, then it probably isn’t very compelling — perhaps you should try another?

  • Jabster

    @Eric: Yet again you change the subject and lie as to what has been asked of you. You have been asked repeatedly for evidence, not an argument, of your Christian god and repeatedly you have failed to answer the question and repeatedly claimed that you have never been asked the question i.e. you are a liar. I really don’t care what the original question was my question was post the evidence of a Christian god that you claim you have. You have also completely failed to answer the question of the tourist yet again.

    I don’t like to be harsh but basically you are a complete idiot and a liar and as Metro stated are incapable of holding what would be considered a normal conversation – so yep run along now.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    I’m going to stop using the term “Epic FAIL” in favour of “Eric FAIL”, I think.

    @Troll:

    I didn’t ask you to produce an (invalid) argument for god.

    I asked you to produce the evidence you claim to have for god.

    The two words mean different things. It’s true–you could look them up in your dictionary.

    You do have one, don’t you? For looking up the hard words? Like “Troll”?

    You continue to go on and on in bad faith. Are you the best deism has to offer?

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    Guys, let’s remember that without people like Eric, it would just be a bunch of us agreeing with each other.

    Sure there are the occasional thumpers that disagree with us and tell us we need to love God because God is love (whatever that means), but they’re not good for much more than a laugh.

    While I don’t like his debate style, and similarly to the thumpers I’m not sure he will ever understand our point of view, knowing he is there to dispute my point makes my point stronger when I am thinking about it.

    Don’t forget that the topic of this post was the A & E story, not whether or not there is evidence for God. Any atheist-theist debate can easily slip into that big and final question.

    I think in order to keep the conversation going, and to help spread what we believe (or don’t believe), let’s stay on topic.

    On that note… Eric, did you see my response to your question about my definition of logic in regards to the A&E story?

    Now, by me saying that God planning this scenario and then how he dealt with it was not reasonable, I do not think it would be correct to fall back on “who are we to question God?”.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Sorry, McBloggenstein. I don’t think there’s a way to get honest discussion out of someone who, asked the same question three times at least, responds with the semantic equivalent of “I know you are but what am I?”

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    I do not recall who said what because I didn’t keep up with all of the discussions going on.

    But if that is the case, then I would feel the same way you do.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Metro and Jabster

    Whoa! Since when is an argument not evidence?

    You know, both of you are so quick to insult and berate that it took either of you dozens of comments and days to make the distinction in your mind between evidence and argument clear to the person you are arguing with. Perhaps if you didn’t assume that I was immediately on the same page with you we could have cleared this up a long time ago.

    When you ask for “evidence” of God, I think an argument in defense of His existence satisfies that request. I honestly thought I was answering your question and both of you were just ignoring that the kalam argument did answer your question.

    Just for your future edification. There are different kinds of “evidence”, there is empirical evidence, logical evidence, philosophical evidence and metaphysical evidence to name a few. When you say the word “evidence” and assume everyone understands the evidence you are asking for must be empirical for you to accept it, you are making an assumption that not everyone subscribes to.

    The point? Every piece of evidence we consider must be interpreted. There is no such thing as independent, brute facts. Evidence is interpreted through our starting assumptions. You must have experienced this the last time you tried to show a Christian how God treats people badly and the Christian just came back with “God is justified”. Why is the Christian able to do this while you see the evidence so differently? You start with the assumption that God doesn’t exist, or that He’s evil and the Christian starts with the assumption that God is perfect and can do wrong.

    Similarly, any empirical evidence a Christian gives you for God will be filtered through your already decided upon assumption that God doesn’t exist. While I find Behe’s Irreducible Complexity to be compelling, you won’t because you already know that God doesn’t exist while I know that He does. Do you see where I’m going with this?

    That is why, if I had understood that you were asking for empirical evidence for God I would have declined the offer and would have explained the above to you. It’s not that I don’t think that there is any, I obviously believe I can see God’s hand in nature, it’s that attempting to convince you of this is pointless due to your starting assumption of his non-existence.

    But, let’s be honest with ourselves, you also have ZERO empirical evidence of God’s non-existence. In truth, there can be none, directly. Neither for His existence nor against it. Why is this? Because God is a metaphysical proposition, as is no-God.

    So, can we not argue on a philosophical and/or metaphysical basis? Especially since neither of us has direct empirical evidence for our positions? Don’t we all hold to philosophical and metaphysical beliefs?

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    McBloggenstein

    I honestly did not see it until now.

    “So, the conduct of this god in this scenario is not reasonable.”

    According to you? You gave the scenario accurately and then just decided that it was unreasonable behavior. You did not explain HOW this behavior is unreasonable.

    In fact, let me give you a scenario in which it is. And we can argue in the hypothetical if you want, it makes no difference to me. Since you’re arguing against the Christian God, and the Christian worldview, let’s explore who God is in that worldview.

    Not only is God all-powerful and all-knowing as you’ve said, He’s also Love, Justice, Grace, Holiness, Righteousness, Wrath, and Wisdom to name the relevant ones. You cannot separate God from any of His attributes. He is not more one than any other.

    So, in truth, the scenario goes more like this. God in all His Wisdom and Love, created A & E. In His Grace and Love He gave them everything. In His Righteousness and Holiness, He demanded one rule. When in A & E violate that rule, they violate God’s Righteousness, and His Justice cannot allow Him to dwell with them any longer. He could have destroyed them, in fact His Justice demanded it, but by His Grace and Wisdom He allowed them to live, knowing that in the future that would be a covering for Adam’s sin (Jesus Christ).

    So future human beings, in the same way, are responsible for their violation of God’s Law (post A&E, known as the Ten Commandments). In the same way, God’s Justice demands humanities destruction, but his Grace, Love and Wisdom allows for a covering and a staying of His Wrath.

    What is irrational about this? Can you please explain?

    Also, I just find it ironic that you, as a human being, question the rationality of an all-knowing God. If He truly is all-knowing, then His rationality is the ONLY true rationality.

  • Jabster

    @McBloggenstein: I have to agree with Metro here Kemp has repeatedly been asked the same question but has refused to answer it at . He’s not interested in debate but only showing that he is right and right in the case means the existence of the the Christian god. Just look at his latest replies – he’s now claiming that we would dismiss the evidence he has as we don’t believe in his god to start with and he is also using the you can’t hope to understand the rationality of god. Do you honestly think this counts as debate?

    I agree you need people to present the other side but Kemp doesn’t fall into that category and would be much better off talking with people who won’t question the rubbish he puts forward as logic/facts etc.

  • BrightonRocks

    Eric Kemp:

    Thanks for the thoughtful response, though you seem to be clinging steadfastly to the kalam/’first cause’ argument despite several logical flaws that have been pointed out. You also seem to agree with some of the criticisms yourself as you say:

    You’re right, we can’t know for sure that causes were needed before time began.

    But if we can’t know for sure that causes were needed then the first premise of the argument fails. The kalam argument is a logical proof not some probabilistic calculation. In a logical proof if you can’t be sure of one of the premises then the whole argument fails. We just seem to be disagreeing on how the above point, that we both agree on, affects the argument.

    However, the situation for causality is actually a lot worse than you appear to acknowledge for two reasons:

    1. We just can’t say with any confidence that causality is required now, never mind near to or at ‘the beginning of time’. There are observed phenomena (such as the tunnelling effect and the coming into existence of particle\antiparticle pairs) that just don’t appear to have any cause. The standard model of quantum mechanics simply does away with our ‘common sense’ notions of the role of time and causality. In fact even before quantum mechanics, in the 18th century, David Hume refuted the idea that there was a necessary logical connection between cause and effect.

    2. The whole concept of causality and of something having a ‘beginning’ break down at the ‘beginning of time’. I can make presumptions about the ‘beginning of the football match’ and what may have caused this as there were things and events that preceded it. But I can’t make any presumptions about ‘the beginning of time’ as there was no Universe before it. You can’t just apply arguments concerning the ‘beginning of things’ to the ‘beginning of time’.

    Also I find some of your last paragraph a bit confusing:

    This begs the question of whether or not time beginning needed a cause

    ‘Time beginning’ is the same as the ‘Universe beginning’ as space and time don’t exist without each other, so for your argument to conclude that the ‘Universe has a cause’ you are clearly stating that ‘time beginning needed a cause’. There is no begging of the question, quite simply if time didn’t begin then neither did the Universe.

    Why did “causes” start beginning?

    As the concept of universal causality is already moot you may as well ask ‘why did the conservation of momentum start beginning?’ or more generally ‘why did the fundamental laws of physics start beginning’. This is a good question but there is no need to invoke any supernatural or external agency to answer it. The laws of physics emerge with the Universe itself. For example it was shown in 1918 by Emmy Noether that the most import physical laws (conservation of energy and momentum) will appear in any model that does not single out a special moment in time or position and direction in space. Special relativity then follows if we do not single out a special direction in four dimensional space-time.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Jabster

    It was obvious in my comment to you and metro that I am attempting to find common ground on which to debate with you two. It was also obvious that I completely misunderstood that you and Metro don’t consider an argument as “evidence”.

    You, on the other hand, desire to find no common ground on which to rationally debate with me. You have strawmanned every single argument I’ve made here, and you’ve done it again, twice, to McBloggenstein. I’ll show you:

    “he’s now claiming that we would dismiss the evidence he has as we don’t believe in his god to start with. . .”

    That’s not what I’m saying. Are you denying that there are other types of evidence besides empirical? Are you denying that evidence is interpreted through our starting assumptions? There are no “brute” facts. So any attempt on my part to show you “brute” facts of God’s existence (which is what you’re asking for) is pointless. You will filter any empirical evidence I give you through your starting assumptions.

    One of those assumptions you start with is “no God”, yea. But that’s not the only one you have. Naturalism, empiricism, uniformitarianism (these you must have to call yourself an atheist); these are also assumptions that you make that will necessarily affect how you interpret evidence. Our starting assumptions are so different, that it’s pointless to talk about “facts”, and much more productive to talk about our assumptions and how they allow us to explain the world around us.

    Let me be clear: the assumptions of empiricism, uniformitarianism and naturalism that you hold are metaphysical beliefs. That is, there can be no empirical evidence to confirm them, they are outside the perview of science. Just as my belief in God and His influence in this world are metaphysical beliefs, so are those assumptions of yours.

    So why can we not discuss our beliefs at the metaphysical level?

    “he is also using the you can’t hope to understand the rationality of god.”

    I never said anything of the sort. I explained, in terms of the Christian worldview, how God’s actions towards A & E make sense. Do you have a rebuttal to this? I also pointed out the irony of calling an all-knowing being irrational. If He really knows all things, then He knows the “most” rational decision better than any human ever could.

    I realize that my misunderstanding of what you and Metro were asking of me must have been frustrating to you. I understand that, truly I do. However, you can at least attempt to be honest that the misunderstanding was not ALL my fault, and if you truly desire the rational discussion you say you do, I’m offering common ground.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Eric, you’re terrific. It takes you a hundred lines to say “But I SAID that already,” after which you further repeat your argument–or “evidence” as you would have it

    Whoa! Since when is an argument not evidence?

    Do you truly not know the difference? OJ should have been convicted by the evidence, but was freed by the arguments.

    You know, both of you are so quick to insult and berate that it took either of you dozens of comments and days to make the distinction in your mind between evidence and argument clear to the person you are arguing with.

    Dude–I can’t speak for Jabster, but I waited for those dozens of comments for you to stop talking in a rather drearily repetitive spiral.

    You feel as though I attacked you at first? I invite you to consider our history, which largely consists, from my standpoint, of begging you to make some sense. But no matter. Let that not stop you from accusing me of a rush to judgement.

    When you ask for “evidence” of God, I think an argument in defense of His existence satisfies that request.

    And we’d accept an argument, if it worked as argument. First causes is simple assertion with no supporting facts.

    In the case of Christ, C.S. Lewis said we must assume him to be liar, lunatic, or lord. In your case I’m wondering whether we can narrow it down a bit.

    Perhaps, though, the problem is that I am too simple for your enlightened argument. So I humbly ask you to provide for me one shred of your evidence for the existence of god. Try to keep it to a paragraph or so, eh?

    In fact, I’ll sketch you out a form of argument that I might find acceptable: Where A is some set of conditions you’ve decided makes good god-evidence, and B is that the God of some sect exists:

    A. Therefore we can logically follow steps A1 to A2, and so on until we come to B–the conclusion.

    Do try to keep clear of first causes, though, won’t you?

  • Jabster

    @Metro: So do you expect:

    a) an answer
    b) a complete dodge of the question
    c) a claim that he’s already answered the question

  • BrightonRocks

    @Eric Kemp

    But, let’s be honest with ourselves, you also have ZERO empirical evidence of God’s non-existence.

    You are right that there is ZERO empirical evidence for God’s non-existence but that applies to the existence of anything as empirical evidence is only affirmative, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There is ZERO empirical evidence for the non-existence of Ra, Thor, unicorns and the Holy Pachyderm that visits my back garden. Applying this philosophical non sequitur to your God gives no more credibility to its existence than to any of these other things. The pertinent point is that there is no evidence despite much looking.

    In truth, there can be none, directly. Neither for His existence nor against it.

    I really don’t think that is true or honest to say that there can be no evidence ‘for’ the existence of a deity. If the deity can interact with the physical Universe then it can reveal itself. If it can’t interact with the Universe then it’s a deist God that is effectively irrelevant to our lives and it is certainly not the Christian God of the Bible. Of course the deity may choose not to reveal itself (for whatever strange purpose it likes) but that is not the same as it being unable to reveal itself.

    Because God is a metaphysical proposition, as is no-God.

    Withholding belief in a supernatural entity due to lack of evidence is not a metaphysical position at all. Is your non belief in Ra and The Holy Pachyderm a metaphysical proposition?

    Stating that these things can never possibly exist may be a metaphysical proposition but that’s not what most people (if any) subscribe to. Even the arch-atheist Richard Dawkins says that he would gladly believe in God given a bit of evidence. This is not a metaphysical position it’s just the default mode of withholding belief in that for which there is neither reason nor evidence to believe.

    While I find Behe’s Irreducible Complexity to be compelling, you won’t because you already know that God doesn’t exist while I know that He does.

    I would have thought that whether or not someone finds Behe’s Irreducible Complexity to be compelling depends more on whether they understand biological evolution than on belief in God. There are several fatal flaws in Behe’s definition that sink it even as a valid hypothesis.

    In brief, Behe uses a straw man version of evolution which he assumes only works by ‘the addition of single parts with no change in function of the system’. However, in the real world there are several evolutionary mechanisms that can result in an irreducibly complex system, for example: Deletion of parts; Addition of multiple parts (e.g. duplication); Change of function (exaptation); Modification of parts. Given a proper understanding of biological evolution ‘irreducible complexity’ is not only possible but to be expected. In fact it was predicted as long ago as 1918 by the Nobel Prize winning geneticist Hermann Muller.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Jabster:
    Well he skipped the 28th. He may be composing a response, I guess …

    @BrightonRocks (I’ve always wanted to ask–is this anything to do with Graham Greene?)

    Nicely explained, in simple, honest, direct language. I admire your clarity, your rhetorical skills, and your patience.

  • BrightonRocks

    @Metro

    Thanks.

    I’ve always wanted to ask–is this anything to do with Graham Greene?

    It’s a pun on that and the fact that I like Brighton and was living there when I started commenting on The Guardian’s website.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Thanks for your patience guys. I took most of yesterday and today off from the blogosphere.

    BrightonRocks

    “though you seem to be clinging steadfastly to the kalam/’first cause’ argument despite several logical flaws that have been pointed out.”

    Under certain conditions, in certain circumstances, every argument/proof has the ability to fall apart. I do not cling to the kalam argument as my only argument, but I do feel like it is a compelling one despite the problems with it. I hope to explain why.

    “But if we can’t know for sure that causes were needed then the first premise of the argument fails.”

    As I so popularly pointed out in the previous thread, we can’t know for sure that matter exists, so being able to concieve of a situation in which causes are not needed doesn’t invalidate the argument anymore than concieving of a scenario in which matter doesn’t exist invalidates reality.

    I find the need for a cause in the universe compelling because every bit of empirical evidence I have tells me that causes are needed within this universe (yes, this is circular, but I don’t have a choice). The phenomena of cause and effect must have started at some point. What caused, cause and effect? What caused the laws of our universe to begin acting so differently than they acted (theoretically) before the universe? These are the questions I find more compelling than the general, “what caused the universe?”

    “1. We just can’t say with any confidence that causality is required now, never mind near to or at ‘the beginning of time’.”

    I agree with you. I can use a cue ball to knock a billiard ball into a pocket 100 times, but do I know for sure that #1: the cue ball is REALLY causing the billiard ball to move? (it could be a coincidence that’s happening over and over again) and #2: Do I know that the cue ball will make the billiard ball move the 101st time? No, I assume it will.

    “2. The whole concept of causality and of something having a ‘beginning’ break down at the ‘beginning of time’.”

    You’re right, we’re making assumptions about the beginning of time. However, it’s assumptions along the same lines of assuming that matter exists and assuming the cause and effect is working in my billiard ball examples. I can imagine a scenario in which cause and effect break down, but that doesn’t make the question of “what caused the beginning of time?” any less compelling for their being a cause.

    Here’s why: Let’s say you and I are in seperate rooms. You hear a large *BANG!* in my room. You come in and ask, “Where’d that come from?”, I answer, “No where”. Confused, you resphrase, “What caused it?”. I say, “There was no cause.” Doesn’t that just defy all logic? But, then you’re going to say, “Well we can’t compare that to the beginning of time.” This is something you can’t know. You are preferring to think of the beginning of time as different for no reason, merely because you prefer it.

    “There is no begging of the question, quite simply if time didn’t begin then neither did the Universe.”

    But we know that they both did begin to exist. If the universe was eternal then it wouldn’t be expanding like it is and the sun would have burned out infinitely long ago.

    “you may as well ask ‘why did the conservation of momentum start beginning?’ or more generally ‘why did the fundamental laws of physics start beginning’. This is a good question but there is no need to invoke any supernatural or external agency to answer it.”

    How do you know that we don’t need that? Did science tell you this? It couldn’t have. So why did you decide this?

    But, we can leave the kalam argument where it is. I’ve got another one for you that I can make as I respond to your next comment.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Metro

    “Do you truly not know the difference? OJ should have been convicted by the evidence, but was freed by the arguments.”

    Gimme a break. The kalam argument has nothing to do with legal arguments.

    Arguments are not the same as evidence, arguments USE evidence. The kalam argument uses the empirical evidence that the universe had a beginning and that causes are needed to make a metaphysical argument.

    ” I invite you to consider our history, which largely consists, from my standpoint, of begging you to make some sense. But no matter. Let that not stop you from accusing me of a rush to judgement.”

    The difference is that you made no attempt to reconcile or explain the difference, only berate me for not understanding it. It’s more fun for you to assume that Christians are nincompoops who can’t hold a logical conversation instead of treating them like fellow human beings who can’t read your mind.

    The rest of your comment is again asking for empirical evidence for God when I spent an entire comment explaining how such an attempt is pointless based upon the differences in our metaphysical assumptions. Either argue that you don’t have metaphysical assumptions/beliefs or attempt to argue that your none-God belief is empirically verifiable. I’m not going to discuss empirical evidence that you will merely filter through your metaphysics without discussing those metaphysics.

  • Jabster

    @BrightonRocks: Brighton is a lovely place except during the cold windy winters when it can be a bit depressing although some people like to describe it as bracing!

  • Jabster

    @Eric: Well done you choose options b) and c) combined. I suppose option a) was a bit much to hope for wasn’t it?

    Oh and you’re right about your “argument” being nothing to do with legal arguments. It wouldn’t even stand up in a civil case let alone a criminal one but to you it’s compelling. It’s a bit like finding a dead body then inisiting that John Smithely of 10 Denby Drive, Wexeter shoot him yet there is no place called Wexeter and no gun shot wounds on the body.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    BrightonRocks

    ” Applying this philosophical non sequitur to your God gives no more credibility to its existence than to any of these other things.”

    Good thing I wasn’t using it to show evidence of God. I was quite clear on this. I’m using it to show the irrationality of demanding empirical evidence for a metaphysical position while you have no evidence for YOUR metaphysical position.

    “I really don’t think that is true or honest to say that there can be no evidence ‘for’ the existence of a deity.”

    Good thing I qualified it by saying “empirical” evidence.

    “If the deity can interact with the physical Universe then it can reveal itself.”

    I obviously believe that God has done this. However, science excludes the supernatural a priori and you know this. But this is where naturalistic assumptions come into play. If I tell you of a phenomena that I attribute to God, you will filter it through your assumption and say “there must be a natural explanation for it.”

    “Withholding belief in a supernatural entity due to lack of evidence is not a metaphysical position at all. Is your non belief in Ra and The Holy Pachyderm a metaphysical proposition?”

    Yes it is. But you are actually strawmanning the issue. This is one of Dawkin’s favorite techniques; when asked the question of God he goes, “Which god?” That’s not the point and it’s a blatant misdirect. The point is this: Does the metaphysical proposition of an all-powerful creator better explain the world around us and human experience than the alternative?

    “Even the arch-atheist Richard Dawkins says that he would gladly believe in God given a bit of evidence.”

    He’s spent his entire life attempting to remove God from anything besides inside the walls of a church and the above claim it just another way for him to push his agenda.

    “This is not a metaphysical position it’s just the default mode of withholding belief in that for which there is neither reason nor evidence to believe.”

    Nope. By default, no-God means that matter is able to create itself, life can come from non-life, intelligence from non-intelligence and reason from non-reason. These are metaphysical beliefs that require a belief IN the possibility of those propositions.

    You also actually strawmanned IR, but I’m not here to talk about IR. I have an argument for you.

    Per our previous conversation, you believe that the universe had no cause. The definition of a phenomena having no cause is a random phenomena. So the universe was begun randomly. How then, do you explain the order and uniformity that so apparent in the universe? Random is the opposite of order. In fact, we know that order deteriorates to random. So how does a random beginning create order?

    In short, my argument is that an atheistic, random beginning cannot explain the order in the universe, that such a proposition is impossible. Order only comes from order. Atheistic metaphysics have no explanation for the uniformity of nature that science relies upon, and has worked so far. They use it, but they can’t explain it. An all-powerful, all-knowing intelligent being on the other hand absolutely explains how the universe acts so orderly, and can explain why we can trust the uniformity of nature.

  • Brian

    The burden of proof lies with god. Until this god speaks (and, yes, so that EVERYONE understands who it is that is speaking) to everyone and “shows up”, there is no reason for anyone to give an account for non-belief. All this talk, aside from filling the human (animal) need to puff his chest to claim territory, is essentially unwarranted. There never has been a valid reason to explain atheistic thought although many have had to and have died for it. I also have a problem with the word atheism. It assumes a theistic starting point, which there is no evidense for. It assumes a deviation. It is theistic belief that is deviant, because there is no evidence to warrant a belief in a deity. There is speculation, but no evidence.

  • Brian

    by the way…I like your blog, Daniel.

  • Roger

    To further Brian’s point the burden of proof also lies with those who claim to know the existence of said god. They cannot point to natural phenomena and say “Ah, THERE is [deity],” for that is not proof. Pointing to a black hole or a void in space, or grandma’s home cooking does not prove in any way the existence of a supernatural deity or deities. Imagine if, contra Eric Kemp, someone said, “Thor created the world, not the God of Christianity”–how would Kemp or a fellow theist refute the Thorian’s argument? It would essentially boil down to a “Nuh uh!” “Did TOO!” argument. Unless the theist can produce proof positive of their claims, then all he/she has is baseless speculation.

  • Brian

    Russell describes this well when he wrote about his celestial china teapot. Google it sometime and read what he has to say…very interesting. It gives words to a frustration may of us non-theists may have had in the past.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Eric Kemp

    Arguments are not the same as evidence, arguments USE evidence.

    My point.

    The difference is that you made no attempt to reconcile or explain the difference

    A difference you appear to understand full well. Once again we encounter the question of good faith.

    Furthermore, you’re not even logically consistent. You claim you have no faith that matter, for any real purpose, exists.

    Yet you’re willing to invest time and energy in a god whose likelihood is considerably less than that of matter. Why the skepticism for one but not the other?

    I have experienced matter–Smacked my thumb with a wrench only last week. Gods, not so much.

    If I tell you of a phenomena that I attribute to God, you will filter it through your assumption and say “there must be a natural explanation for it.”

    Yup. ‘Cos you see, I’m the one operating from the default position of not believing in something of which I have no experience of any nature and for which no evidence exists.

    But let’s say we drop our standards of proof to meet yours. What evidence is it that you’re offering?

    I think we can dump your first-causes argument. If you can’t even agree that the material universe exists, you can hardly point to it as evidence of the existence of a god!.

    Look at your cue-ball argument: If you saw a rolling cue ball, you would assume it had been struck by another ball, not kicked by a zebra that happened to be standing across the table. Yet this is the philosophical position you’ve asked us to accept: That because events have causes, god must exist.

    Events have natural, ascribable causes. Just because the cue ball is bigger, and because we’re not certain of that cause, is no reason to go assuming that it was god who got it moving.

    But are you now telling me that your next argument is merely the old “atheism is as much a blind faith as deism?”

    Aside from the fact that that does nothing to suggest that your belief is any better or more valid than the one you suppose us to have, it’s wrong.

    It’s not that I believe in no-god. It’s that I have no belief in god. You have a non-belief in several dozen gods. Neither of us believes in Allah, nor Bast, nor Zoroaster. I merely include one addition which you don’t.

    Which makes the whole thing easier–I don’t need to select a list of gods to fail to believe in.

    So no, I have no metaphysical belief. I don’t even believe in UFOs, which are somewhat better documented and more likely than a supernatural being.

    Oh–and the entropy argument is complete balderdash as well. Throughout the history of life we see continual change and progress toward more complex, yet more structured forms.

    Even inanimate matter can do it: Look at the hurricane. Consider the hoodoo, the avalanche: each derives from a single ice crystal, miniscule in itself, organized with billions of others. The ice crystal, from a circular blob of water, takes on magnificent geometric shapes of terrific complexity. Why shouldn’t the universe and life at large behave that way?

    I believe matter originated in some perfectly non-supernatural manner which we are beginning to glimpse. I believe life arose from chemicals and structures not living in themselves, but helped along by a complex process so unlikely that in all our nearly-infinite universe, so far as our limited gaze has taken us, it has only happened once that we know of.

    None of this requires any metaphysical assumption–more or less the reverse.

  • Jabster

    @Metro:

    “I believe matter originated in some perfectly non-supernatural manner which we are beginning to glimpse. I believe life arose from chemicals and structures not living in themselves, but helped along by a complex process so unlikely that in all our nearly-infinite universe, so far as our limited gaze has taken us, it has only happened once that we know of.”

    To me these are some of the most fascinating questions to which answers have eluded us so far along with question about the human mind and what makes us, us. I can only hope that in my lifetime we have proper answers although it always feels bad to think that in a few hundred years time or so school kids we know these facts just as day to day things!

  • Dan L.

    Eric:

    1. I believe the others are asking for empirical evidence when they talk about evidence. So no, logical and philosophical arguments don’t cover it.

    2. The Kalam argument fails for the reasons mentioned above, most importantly:
    a) Causality does not seem to apply universally and
    b) Verbs (such as “to create” or “to begin”) are incoherent without a concept of time. To talk about the creation of the universe or the beginning of time does not make immediate sense without redefining what you mean by “time.”

    3. Non-belief in God sans evidence is much more philosophically defensible than belief in God sans evidence, for the reasons mentioned above (which you have conveniently decided to ignore). This is Russell’s teapot. If I were to tell you there was a tiny floral-patterned pink teapot orbiting Mars at an altitude of 50 km, would you believe me prima facie? There’s no evidence AGAINST the existence of this teapot. Granted, there’s no evidence FOR it either. Which is the more defensible position: believing in the teapot or not believing in the teapot?

    More generally, there are NO STATEMENTS WHATEVER of the form “X does not exist” (e.g. “God does not exist) that can be proved logically or through evidence. One cannot prove a negative. Am I thus obligated to assume that all negatives are true?

    This is why it makes sense to demand evidence for the existence of God when we have no existence for the non-existence of God. The entire concept of “evidence of the non-existence of God” is incoherent in the first place.

    4. No reason to believe matter exists? Are you kidding me? I don’t know about you, but I interact with matter every moment of every day. When I get up in the morning, I push off my bed (made of matter) to put my feet (also matter) on the floor (likewise matter). There is nothing more fundamental to my experience of this world than the existence of matter. I’d LOVE to see you try to argue your way out of this black hole.

    Nope. By default, no-God means that matter is able to create itself, life can come from non-life, intelligence from non-intelligence and reason from non-reason. These are metaphysical beliefs that require a belief IN the possibility of those propositions.

    Wrong. “Matter is able to create itself” makes no sense using the word “create” in any manner I’ve ever used it or heard it used. Your other propositions are similarly meaningless (“come from” has the same problems as “create” in this context).

    Per our previous conversation, you believe that the universe had no cause. The definition of a phenomena having no cause is a random phenomena. So the universe was begun randomly. How then, do you explain the order and uniformity that so apparent in the universe? Random is the opposite of order. In fact, we know that order deteriorates to random. So how does a random beginning create order?

    Not even wrong. Word salad. It is completely wrong, but at least coherent, to say “the definition of a phenomena (sic) having no cause is a random phenomena (sic.” But then you have stuff like “Random is the opposite of order.” Uh, no. In fact, randomness can look a whole lot like order — that’s pretty much white noise in a nut shell. This paragraph in general shows a complete lack of understanding of the second law of thermodynamics, concepts like “entropy” and “randomness,” etc. Please learn about these things before trying to make metaphysical arguments based on them.

    In short, my argument is that an atheistic, random beginning cannot explain the order in the universe, that such a proposition is impossible. Order only comes from order. Atheistic metaphysics have no explanation for the uniformity of nature that science relies upon, and has worked so far. They use it, but they can’t explain it. An all-powerful, all-knowing intelligent being on the other hand absolutely explains how the universe acts so orderly, and can explain why we can trust the uniformity of nature.

    Again, you’ve said nothing to make a case for any of this, mostly because you seem to think you know a whole lot more about information theory and thermodynamics than you actually do. All you’ve demonstrated is that you haven’t given science the chance that some of us have already given God.

  • BrightonRocks

    @Eric Kemp

    Sorry to say this but I just find so much of what you say logically flawed, inconsistent or just plain wrong. I don’t like to criticise without backing it up so I’ll just take your replies from the top and work down:

    we can’t know for sure that matter exists, so being able to concieve of a situation in which causes are not needed doesn’t invalidate the argument anymore than concieving of a scenario in which matter doesn’t exist invalidates reality.

    That’s just woeful. You, me and the Kalam argument all assume that matter exists and build on that. If matter doesn’t exist then nor does causality which requires both matter and time to even be a valid concept. Prevaricating on the existence of matter does not help to validate a claim that relies on the existence of matter. Either matter doesn’t exist, in which case the Kalam argument fails at the first step; or matter does exist, in which case conceiving of scenarios in which it doesn’t exist are irrelevant.

    I find the need for a cause in the universe compelling because every bit of empirical evidence I have tells me that causes are needed within this universe

    You say this even though I have given examples of phenomena that do not appear to need causes. Maybe you are talking about your own personal experience rather than documented scientific evidence, in which case the need is not particularly compelling as time and again when we look at phenomena outside of the scales of human experience (in terms of size, time and speed) we find that our ‘common sense’ notions of how the universe works just don’t apply.

    For example, I may find the Galilean transformation compelling as every bit of empirical evidence I personally have of moving towards an object at X mph that is travelling towards me at Y mph tells me that our relative speed is X + Y mph. For that reason should I reject Special Relativity and the Lorentz transformation?

    What caused the laws of our universe to begin acting so differently than they acted (theoretically) before the universe?

    The laws of the universe are mathematical descriptions of how the things in the universe appear to interact and operate; interactions between things in the universe necessarily emerge and evolve with the universe. It’s a complete non sequitur to talk about the ‘laws of the universe’ as ‘acting’ before a universe. How can a relationship between matter and energy act without matter and energy?

  • BrightonRocks

    @Eric Kemp

    You’re right, we’re making assumptions about the beginning of time. However, it’s assumptions along the same lines of assuming that matter exists and assuming the cause and effect is working in my billiard ball examples.

    You can’t just assume that cause and effect is universal because we had to assume that matter exists. These assumptions are not ‘along the same lines’ at all as the assumption about matter is a requirement that must be made to even get to the concept of causality (or to even have an argument about the physical Universe). I could apply your reasoning equally to any concept that I like and thereby validate any assumption. The fact that we were required to make one assumption does not give us carte blanche to make subsequent assumptions about other concepts.

    Your billiard ball example is just an 18th century argument with Hume. Even if Hume posthumously conceded defeat it is now known that what is apparent on a billiard table cannot be applied to all observed phenomena (for example the quantum mechanical tunnelling effect).

    Let’s say you and I are in seperate rooms. You hear a large *BANG!* in my room. You come in and ask, “Where’d that come from?”, I answer, “No where”. Confused, you resphrase, “What caused it?”. I say, “There was no cause.” Doesn’t that just defy all logic? But, then you’re going to say, “Well we can’t compare that to the beginning of time.” This is something you can’t know. You are preferring to think of the beginning of time as different for no reason, merely because you prefer it.

    There clearly is a difference between the situation in which you, me, both rooms and the building that we are in exist before the *BANG!* and the situation where you, me, the rooms, the building, all matter and time don’t exist before the bang.

    You can logically try and apply causality to the former case as a cause may exist within the pre-existing time and matter. In the latter case there is no concept of a cause as there is no time or matter in which a cause can exist. I am not ‘preferring’ to think of these situations as different, they clearly are. I find it illuminating that you deny that the situations are different.

    But we know that they both did begin to exist. If the universe was eternal then it wouldn’t be expanding like it is and the sun would have burned out infinitely long ago.

    We don’t know for sure that the Universe and time had a beginning. Currently there are both Inflationary and Cyclic/Ekpyrotic models that are valid hypotheses (explaining all current data) and no one yet knows for sure if either is correct. The Cyclic/Ekpyrotic model of Steinhard and Turok does not require a beginning to the Universe. If you think that this model does not account for the current observations of inflation or the existence of the sun then you are wrong. Do you really think that the ‘Albert Einstein Professor of Science’ at Princeton University and the ‘Chair of Mathematical Physics’ at Cambridge University are not aware that the sun exists and the universe is inflating?

    The pertinent point is that you cannot currently say with any conviction that the Universe had a beginning. It is speculation either way. Fortunately this is science so the issue will be decided on the evidence and the different models make very different predictions for some phenomena, such as the nature of the polarisation of the background radiation, and future experiments should rule out at least one of these models within the next decade.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Dan L.

    “1. I believe the others are asking for empirical evidence when they talk about evidence. So no, logical and philosophical arguments don’t cover it.”

    Even logical and philosophical arguments that USE empirical evidence? Also, do you find it rational to ask for empirical evidence for a philosophical, more accurately, a metaphysical position such as God or no-God?

    “b) Verbs (such as “to create” or “to begin”) are incoherent without a concept of time. To talk about the creation of the universe or the beginning of time does not make immediate sense without redefining what you mean by “time.””

    But doesn’t it seem just a bunch of dodging semantics to try to argue that the phenomena of cause and effect never had a beginning?

    “There’s no evidence AGAINST the existence of this teapot. Granted, there’s no evidence FOR it either. Which is the more defensible position: believing in the teapot or not believing in the teapot?”

    This is such a strawman of the kalam argument that I will not respond to it. Also, Russell’s teapot always assumes a dirth of evidence, which isn’t true either.

    “This is why it makes sense to demand evidence for the existence of God when we have no existence for the non-existence of God. The entire concept of “evidence of the non-existence of God” is incoherent in the first place.”

    I have no problem with demanding evidence for God. In fact, this is something that we should absolutely do. However, to demand this evidence fit YOUR definition of what evidence can ONLY be is just as ridiculous as demanding blind faith be a requirement for a belief in God.

    “4. No reason to believe matter exists? Are you kidding me? I don’t know about you, but I interact with matter every moment of every day.”

    You weren’t there when we discussed this on the other thread, so I’ll ask you some questions to show you my position. Do you REALLY act with matter every day? What, exactly, tells you that you are reacting with matter? Is it not your brain? More specifically, is it not electrical signals passing across synapses in your brainstem that tells you what you are feeling? So all you REALLY know, is that your brain is experiencing electrical impulses. Is this not the case? So, since your entire sense experience, in every second of your life, is nothing more than electrical impulses in the brain, could you really PROVE that you are interacting with matter? Could you really KNOW that your brain isn’t in a jar some where having electrical impulses artifically shoved into it (a la The Matrix)?

    And as I pointed out in the previous thread, this is not some advanced level philosophy. Any PHIL 101 class will go over a similar exercise with you.

    “Wrong. “Matter is able to create itself” makes no sense using the word “create” in any manner I’ve ever used it or heard it used. Your other propositions are similarly meaningless (”come from” has the same problems as “create” in this context).”

    You are arguing semantics in order to ignore an argument. In evolutionary theory, life comes from non-life, unreasoning animals give rise to philosophers, non-intelligent animals give rise to exteremely intelligent animals. This is a belief of evolutionary theory and no amount of arguing the definitions of words is going to change this. Perhaps if you were able to provide an argument in which these things are shown to be possible (some evidence would be good too) then you’d be rational.

    “Please learn about these things before trying to make metaphysical arguments based on them.”

    Entropy is GUIDED by laws of nature (in this case, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics). This is not the randomness that I mean. To reference a law of nature, which deals with the unguided but predictable and measurable movement of molecules, to provide an argument why the universe wasn’t random is disengenous. Either the universe had a cause or it didn’t. If it didn’t have a cause, then it’s beginning can only be described as random. No amount of semantics will change this.

    “Again, you’ve said nothing to make a case for any of this, mostly because you seem to think you know a whole lot more about information theory and thermodynamics than you actually do. All you’ve demonstrated is that you haven’t given science the chance that some of us have already given God.”

    Just because you don’t understand an argument doesn’t mean one wasn’t made. The only way to get around the random beginning of the universe is to equivocate the word “random”, “cause,” or argue semantics with “beginnings”. If there was no cause, it was random. That’s it. Order doesn’t come from randomness, and you know it. The “random” movement of molecules is STILL predictable and measurable and obeys discernable laws. Where did these laws come from? How did they become universal? The random, atheistic beginning to the universe can’t answer these questions.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Brightonrocks

    “That’s just woeful. You, me and the Kalam argument all assume that matter exists and build on that. If matter doesn’t exist then nor does causality which requires both matter and time to even be a valid concept.”

    We absolutely assume that matter exists. But that’s my point, it’s an assumption. I can concieve of a scenario in which matter DOESN’T exist but that doesn’t invalidate the question of where matter came from. That’s my only point. Conceiving of a situation in which causes aren’t needed doesn’t invalidate the question of where causes came from.

    “Maybe you are talking about your own personal experience rather than documented scientific evidence, in which case the need is not particularly compelling as time and again when we look at phenomena outside of the scales of human experience (in terms of size, time and speed) we find that our ‘common sense’ notions of how the universe works just don’t apply.”

    I haven’t given examples of where causes weren’t needed because I don’t know of any, for sure. Perhaps we haven’t found a discernable cause for EVERYTHING but the very vast majority of all things need causes and that’s all I have to go off of. That’s my point. Everything I can empirically test tells me that a cause is needed, to not also apply this to the beginning of the universe takes more faith than not. Do the problems with the kalam argument that we’ve already discussed still exist? Of course, but my sense experience (along with the rest of humanities’) still tells me that the question of causality is compelling.

    “It’s a complete non sequitur to talk about the ‘laws of the universe’ as ‘acting’ before a universe. How can a relationship between matter and energy act without matter and energy?”

    Ok, so you can say they didn’t “act”. That works for me. The question stands. How did the laws of the Universe begin acting in such a universal and law-like way when they come from a random (uncaused) beginning?

    “There clearly is a difference between the situation in which you, me, both rooms and the building that we are in exist before the *BANG!* and the situation where you, me, the rooms, the building, all matter and time don’t exist before the bang.”

    I knew this is what you said, and my statement stands. You don’t know that there is a difference besides location.

    “I am not ‘preferring’ to think of these situations as different, they clearly are. I find it illuminating that you deny that the situations are different.”

    What I mean to say is that there is no evidence that causes were any different before time and buildings began. You are choosing to think of them as different for no reason. Is it plausible that it was different? You know I would agree with this. Is it plausible to think causes were the same? Sure. What does empiricism tell us?

    “We don’t know for sure that the Universe and time had a beginning. Currently there are both Inflationary and Cyclic/Ekpyrotic models that are valid hypotheses (explaining all current data) and no one yet knows for sure if either is correct.”

    *sigh* You’re right, the current evidence doesn’t disprove the Cyclic model, but neither does it support it. We know that the Universe is still expanding, in fact, we know it’s winding down. Will the universe reverse it’s course and begin to cave in on itself? That’s speculation that can’t be disproved.

    On the other hand, everything that I CAN have evidence for tells me that beginnings are needed. That matter exists and doesn’t cycle, that the sun is losing energy and if the universe always existed would have run out of energy an infinite amount of time ago. That you consider such speculation just as valid as what empiricism tells you speaks to your dogmatic belief in naturalism.

    But even so, the question still remains. In the Cyclic Model, the beginning of OUR CURRENT universe is STILL random. How do universal, abstract orderly laws come from randomness?

  • wazza

    Eric: There’s a model which allows for the Universe to move, in a timeless fashion, from state to state, until it finds one which allows life, and then time starts as a product of that state… and presumably when time ends the universe will move on (and indeed already has, because the whole life of the universe is at the same time* the one timeless moment when it is in the state that allows life to occur. Unfortunately I am awful at explaining such things, but Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart do better in the third Science of Discworld book.

    Oh, and in your last statement you’ve got it wrong. The laws precede the randomness. Laws, then randomness, and the very randomness (as opposed to uniformity) then allows the formation of clumps which become quasars and generation 1 stars (the furnaces of life-stuff, from hydrogen and helium). Once you have the elements up to Iron, you’re doing pretty well, but then the heavier stars – and the first stars, having rich fuel and no competition, were all heavy – explode, creating elements heavier than Iron 56 and producing the full periodic table up to Uranium (and even beyond, until they decayed). These then clump together into worlds (the process is considerably more complex than that, but that’s basically what happens), water and gases leach out, and then more complex molecules start forming under the pressure of sunlight, and all it takes is a few basic elements coming together at the right time and you get something that can reproduce itself. Once it can do that, natural selection can do the rest.

    Where do the laws come from? We’re working on it. The LHC is intended, amongst other things, to probe the unity of laws at high energy (two laws become one when things get hot enough, and in fact at the start of the universe there was just one law that decayed). For now, they seem to be interconnected properties of the universe.

  • Ryan Cunningham

    The robot analogy fails for the simple reason that the guy in the cubicle next to me would ALSO have to be a robot I created. God created the Devil, chief.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Eric:
    Sigh.

    You’ve claimed to have no empirical evidence. But now you come in with what you claim are:

    … logical and philosophical arguments that USE empirical evidence?

    Okay–and that evidence consists of … ? But answer comes there none.

    Ever.

    Just an endless cycle of first-causes argument, refutation, and then the same argument painted a different colour.

    The “wrestling-with-a-pig” metaphor comes to mind.

    In any case, I think I’m out of patience with waiting for you to assemble a coherent argument for the existence of your deity.

    Is it even possible for you to express that philosophy in fewer than two hundred words of a single syllable?

    I’m really not trying to be insulting. But your arguments are very thin mortar to anchor a philosophy on.

  • Julian

    Good post and an excellent argument, but one small quibble. Satan, in the bible, was never a rebellious, evil angel; that idea is really the result of later Christian mythologizing done during the conversion of Europe to explain why the natives needed to abandon their old gods. Even when Jesus is in the desert, Satan is merely fulfilling the role which god created it to fill, namely, to tempt and test god’s creations for loyalty.

    Of course, if anything, this only strengthens your argument. How can god not be responsible when god has purposely created a being and gifted it with supernatural powers of persuasion and compulsion then tasked it with leading its other creations, which it has endowed with specific, overpowering needs and desires, astray? The Mosaic god is an illogical, capricious, and sadistic concept.

  • Julian

    And just to head off any potential responses about how Jesus resisted this temptation; if you are a Christian then you believe that Jesus was not a man, but an incarnation of god. How does god not being tempted from god’s own path have anything at all to say about the condition of humanity when faced with an offer of fulfillment? To make the argument that such a comparison is valid is to deny the divinity of Jesus.

    More than this, how could god fall to the wiles of its own creation?

  • Dan L.

    Even logical and philosophical arguments that USE empirical evidence? Also, do you find it rational to ask for empirical evidence for a philosophical, more accurately, a metaphysical position such as God or no-God?

    “God/no-God” is only a purely metaphysical position if God cannot interact with the universe causally. Otherwise, God’s influence is in principal detectable. If God’s influence is undetectable, this is a stupid argument to start in the first place. Also, you haven’t provided any logical or philosophical arguments based on empirical evidence.

    “b) Verbs (such as “to create” or “to begin”) are incoherent without a concept of time. To talk about the creation of the universe or the beginning of time does not make immediate sense without redefining what you mean by “time.””

    But doesn’t it seem just a bunch of dodging semantics to try to argue that the phenomena of cause and effect never had a beginning?

    Is that what it seems like to you? Please try to bear in mind that in science AND in philosophy, semantics are HUGELY important. Unless you can rigidly define terms, you can’t be sure of any of your conclusions in either field.

    Furthermore, you’re still not stepping out of your parochial view of how the world works to try to understand anything about the nature of time. It’s already been explained to you that the meaning and the behavior of time as a degree of freedom changes to be almost recognizable at the boundary of a singularity. If you were watching someone fall into a black hole, you would have to sit and watch literally forever. If you were falling into a black hole, you would see the rest of the universe end/evaporate/whatever is going to happen for the rest of time. Trying to go backwards in time given the conditions prevalent in the early universe could be just as paradoxical or even moreso than the behavior of time in this simple case. The nature of time, rigidly defined within the context of empirical science, does not need to conform to your notions of “beginning” or “causality.” There is no requirement that physical laws have to be comprehensible to human minds.

    This is such a strawman of the kalam argument that I will not respond to it. Also, Russell’s teapot always assumes a dirth of evidence, which isn’t true either.

    It’s not a strawman at all, and it’s also not an answer to the Kalam argument. You asked why it made sense to demand evidence for God but not to demand evidence for not-God. I explained that the requirement of evidence to prove a negative (which can’t be rigorously done in principle) is silly, and I illustrated that with Russell’s teapot. Did you actually think that this was my answer to the Kalam argument when it appeared under a completely different bullet, or are you being dishonest?

    I have no problem with demanding evidence for God. In fact, this is something that we should absolutely do. However, to demand this evidence fit YOUR definition of what evidence can ONLY be is just as ridiculous as demanding blind faith be a requirement for a belief in God.

    We need criteria for what constitutes “evidence” if the term is going to mean anything at all. What specific problems do you have with my characterization of evidence (which I never specified in the first place; strange that you would have a problem with it).

    “4. No reason to believe matter exists? Are you kidding me? I don’t know about you, but I interact with matter every moment of every day.”

    You weren’t there when we discussed this on the other thread, so I’ll ask you some questions to show you my position. Do you REALLY act with matter every day? What, exactly, tells you that you are reacting with matter? Is it not your brain? More specifically, is it not electrical signals passing across synapses in your brainstem that tells you what you are feeling? So all you REALLY know, is that your brain is experiencing electrical impulses. Is this not the case? So, since your entire sense experience, in every second of your life, is nothing more than electrical impulses in the brain, could you really PROVE that you are interacting with matter? Could you really KNOW that your brain isn’t in a jar some where having electrical impulses artifically shoved into it (a la The Matrix)?

    And as I pointed out in the previous thread, this is not some advanced level philosophy. Any PHIL 101 class will go over a similar exercise with you.

    Why would you assume I never took philo 101? I’m familiar with the argument, and because I’ve thought about it for 5 minutes (back in high school, before I took philo), realize how much of a non-argument it is. Whether the world is as it appears to be or is an illusion created by a malevolent entity, there is still some reality; the only question is the nature of this reality. This is the situation we’re in no matter WHAT the true nature of the universe is. Your characterization is particularly laughable, as you mention neural mechanisms; these are obviously predicated on the existence of matter. But even if it was all fairy dust, the nature of existence would FORCE us from a scientific point of view to define matter AS fairy dust. As long as there is subjective experience, there is something on which it is predicated, and that something characterizes physical law whether or not what we currently call physical law is in any way accurate

    “Wrong. “Matter is able to create itself” makes no sense using the word “create” in any manner I’ve ever used it or heard it used. Your other propositions are similarly meaningless (”come from” has the same problems as “create” in this context).”

    You are arguing semantics in order to ignore an argument. In evolutionary theory, life comes from non-life, unreasoning animals give rise to philosophers, non-intelligent animals give rise to exteremely intelligent animals. This is a belief of evolutionary theory and no amount of arguing the definitions of words is going to change this. Perhaps if you were able to provide an argument in which these things are shown to be possible (some evidence would be good too) then you’d be rational.

    Again, when talking about science and philosophy in particular, semantics are IMPORTANT. Waving away arguments that point out semantic difficulties is fundamentally dishonest. When I make an argument based on semantics, it is because you are not being clear about what you are trying to talk about. Again, it is not clear what you mean by “come from,” “give rise,” etc. This lack of clearness is your problem, not mine. If you can characterize what you mean by these terms, then please do.

    Entropy is GUIDED by laws of nature (in this case, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics). This is not the randomness that I mean. To reference a law of nature, which deals with the unguided but predictable and measurable movement of molecules, to provide an argument why the universe wasn’t random is disengenous. Either the universe had a cause or it didn’t. If it didn’t have a cause, then it’s beginning can only be described as random. No amount of semantics will change this.

    If it’s not the randomness you mean, then the semantical problems are yours, not mine. Define terms if you want to convince anyone of anything. It’s not clear at all what you mean by “randomness” if you don’t mean the commonly-accepted mathematical characterization of it.

    “Again, you’ve said nothing to make a case for any of this, mostly because you seem to think you know a whole lot more about information theory and thermodynamics than you actually do. All you’ve demonstrated is that you haven’t given science the chance that some of us have already given God.”

    Just because you don’t understand an argument doesn’t mean one wasn’t made. The only way to get around the random beginning of the universe is to equivocate the word “random”, “cause,” or argue semantics with “beginnings”. If there was no cause, it was random. That’s it. Order doesn’t come from randomness, and you know it. The “random” movement of molecules is STILL predictable and measurable and obeys discernable laws. Where did these laws come from? How did they become universal? The random, atheistic beginning to the universe can’t answer these questions.

    I never denied that you made an argument. I also understood in, inasfar as parts of it were coherent (some parts weren’t). You’re using your own definitions for terms that need to be RIGOROUSLY defined if one wishes to make valid arguments. If you’re not willing to use the usual meanings of “random,” “cause,” or “beginnings,” then you need to tell us what it is you DO mean.

    This is not quibbling, nor is it equivocation. I’m simply telling you that it’s not clear what you’re talking about and it seems like it is because you do not know enough about the science involved to make the sorts of arguments you’re trying to make.

  • Michael

    Julian, “if you are a Christian then you believe that Jesus was not a man, but an incarnation of god.”

    Sorry, that’s not Christianity.

    “if you are a Christian then you believe that Jesus was both a man, and an incarnation of god.”

    There. That’s better.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/sunclipse/ Blake Stacey

    I think my favourite take on the Creation—Fall story arc is the hypothesis proposed by George Leonard.

  • Jimminy Christmas

    There is no such thing as free will. Free will is an illusion.

  • http://shamelesslyatheist.wordpress.com/ Randy

    Eric, the Kalam Cosmological Argument (even if I do not dispute its premises, which I do) does not say anything about the nature of the first cause. To go from the existence of a first cause (the logic for which I have already stated I dispute) to the first cause being god is a logical chasm which cannot be crossed without arbitrarily and dishonestly attributing it to being god. This applies to all Arguments from First Cause.

  • Sam

    Hello Eric,

    I am curious about your kalam “first cause” argument. Let’s say, arguendo, I agree with your three axioms regarding the universe needing a cause outside itself.

    You call this cause, “God”. But “God” really implies a lot more than just “cause” to most people. Some of the things that wouldn’t be required, even were we to accept the entire first cause argument, would be:

    1) continued existence
    2) sentience
    3) intent in creating universe
    4) morality
    5) omniscience, omnipresence, omnibenevolence, or omnipotence
    6) continued interest in the universe

    These present a significant barrier to me for calling any hypothetical first cause “God”. That’s without even getting into any specifics of talking snakes, herbivorous mosquitos, or magic foodstuffs.

    And it points out a further question. Supposing science eventually does find the cause of the universe, and it isn’t “God”. The first question of theists will be, “Well, what caused that first cause? It must have been God”.

    If it’s just going to get back to the inability to disprove a negative, it may be best to find a new strategy.

  • Sam

    “There is no such thing as free will. Free will is an illusion.”

    I prefer to think of it more as a misnomer than an actual illusion. Notice how no one is ever terrified by the idea that they have “free” will?

    If you deny the concept of free will, but argue that self-will exists, lots of people will think you’re talking about exactly the same thing. Then it becomes a matter of determining what the “self” is.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    I think Eric’s various refinements of the Kalaam argument can now be summarised thusly:

    1) We can’t be sure that the Universe exists.
    2) If the Universe does exist, we think it maybe had a beginning.
    3) If the Universe had a beginning, then it might possibly have needed a cause (but maybe not).
    4) Therefore, God definitely created the Universe, and he totally exists.

    Is that about right?

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Wintermute = Shorter Eric Kalam.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Sorry … Eric KEMP. My apologies, Eric.

  • Jabster

    @Metro: Not until he’s posted the same thing a least a dozen times in slightly different forms.

  • kingjoebob

    I see many of the pro god folks saying man has free will. How on earth can you believe in the bible and still have the concept of free will? It is by design of the christian faith that free will can not exist.

    According to the bible man is born in sin and must be cleansed of it. If this is the case try as you might you CANNOT live without sinning. IF you CANNOT choose to not sin then you HAVE NOT FREE WILL.

    caio,
    bobers

  • http://drfrog.net B.T. Murtagh

    Here’s a question for you: before Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, did they know it was wrong to disobey God’s command?

    Obviously not, since that would mean that they already knew the difference between good and evil.

    The story fails even within its own narrative.

  • 60613

    I continue to be amazed – and really scornful – at how much time and effort y’all are spending arguing this crap.

    For god’s sake – AND YOUR OWN! – stop blathering about this: go out and do some good: volunteer to teach or ladle soup, or hand out toys in a children’s hospital. Even ring a bell for those hugely obnoxious Salvation Army folks – at least they use the money TO HELP PEOPLE!

    Blather Blather Blather Blather Blather

    STOP TALKING AND DO SOMETHING!

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @60613: You know, you should really go out and do something instead of spending your precious time writing that comment. You should GO HELP PEOPLE instead of SURFING THE INTERNET.

    STOP COMMENTING AND DO SOMETHING!

    :)

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    60613: Are you suggesting that anyone who doesn’t spend every waking moment helping others is somehow inferior? Are we not allowed, in the few moments between feeding the hungry and comforting the sick, to engage in a little philosophical discussion for no better reason than that it pleases us to do so? What if such a discussion might possibly have the effect of making the world a better place, by converting everyone to the One True Faith, or by demonstrating the superiority of examined atheism? What if we discuss the relative merits of secular and missionary charities, and how our efforts are best spent?

    One wonders if Alexander Flemming would be chastised for mucking about with mouldy bread when he could have been out hugging lepers…

  • Pim

    Eric,

    I’ve grealy enjoyed your comments in this thread, up to a certain point. It’s obvious you’re a clever fellow and you’re not completely scientifically ignorant (which is just about as much leeway as I would dare to give myself on most science). The impression can’t escape me that a part of you, call it a little devil on your shoulder if you want, knows full well that the concept of the metaphysical does not reconcile with the things that we can observe, the theories we built on them, but that a larger part of you cannot accept the implications this has on reality. Of course I can only project, but it sounds to me like you’re scared on account of the poetry of it all. You want reality to be like a piece of music, something that surrounds you and follows rules but, at the same time, has this lyrical quality of being untouchable.

    Things were like that for me, for a long time. I personally never managed to subscribe to a biblical God that interacted with people, because such a God would have left observable evidence on this world. But I didn’t like the idea of life being devoid of metaphysical spirituality, it struck me as harsh since there would be no more meaning to the presence of life here than there is to its total absence on the surface of the moon. It seemed to me like life would lose its poetry.

    It took me years to realize that feelings of awe and connectedness and purpose, in the absence of the metaphysical reality, is even more awesome. Bach’s Mass in B minor has not started sounding worse and the audible religious devotion the piece exhumes is only more poetic once seen as an illustration of the condition of the human mind at the time it was written, of mankind’s dreams, reflections and ambitions. A sunset still inspires. The Earth is still an amazing planet.

    In the same process, it dawned on me that being fully aware of the fact that life has no inherent meaning is a much better motivator for creating this meaning for yourself than any prospect of an afterlife can realistically be. If cheap immortality is not to be had, the only hope you can have for yourself is to have had a positive impact within the bubble of space-time your existence influences.

  • Pim

    Correction, “are even more awesome”. I blame the lack of a preview button.

  • Lorraine

    I am Lorraine, and I am a recovering Christian. It continues to be a sometimes frustrating/arduous process, being as I was indoctrinated before birth by enemies of reason. I appreciate your struggle and your blog. You can’t have rational discussions with those who value the ability to believe in something with absolutely no evidence, but at the very least you provide a haven/support for like-minded individuals who otherwise have no outlet for intelligent thought.
    Thanks :-)

  • Casey

    If you were a robotisis, and you created a large array of intelligent droids. Say you gave them free choice to do whatever they wanted. Say the guy in the cubicle next to you hates you. He writes some malicious code, and temps your droids. Wouldn’t you feel good about the droids that decided to stick with you? The ones who were temped by your evil friend wouldn’t mean that much to you. You may be hurt by them rejecting you, and calling you names all the time. I suppose this life of ours is a proving ground for our loyalty to Christ. If we accept Christ, he will accept us. Please stick with God, it is not easy, and the devil knows us better than our mom does.

    Wait, so you’re claiming there’s TWO gods? are there only two, or are there even more to just fuck things up?

  • morrispollard

    Funk this “does god exist?” business. People have been going round and round on that one for ages, and you know what? It doesn’t really matter. I don’t care if you believe in god or not… no, what bugs me is when the you shove the manifestation of your belief (i.e. your religion) in my face and demand that we teach creationism/ban gay marriage/war with some other religion/whatever-it-is-today-with-those-people.

    You can have your god (and your religion too), just don’t expect the rest of us live by the arbitrary rules that you’ve decided your magic sky fairy approves of.

  • http://www.revealedsingularity.net tigerhawkvok

    @Eric Kemp

    “You are arguing semantics in order to ignore an argument. In evolutionary theory, life comes from non-life, unreasoning animals give rise to philosophers, non-intelligent animals give rise to exteremely intelligent animals. This is a belief of evolutionary theory and no amount of arguing the definitions of words is going to change this. Perhaps if you were able to provide an argument in which these things are shown to be possible (some evidence would be good too) then you’d be rational.”

    Strictly speaking, I should point out that evolution by means of natural selection requires differential extinction as caused by competition or external factors. Abiogenesis is strictly outside of this arena, as abiogenesis lacks components which can undergo differential extinction and thus cannot evolve in any sense.

    In the spirit of your argument, though, we have a relatively comprehensive phylogenetic tree of life that shows the relatedness of various species across Eukaryota. The simplest (Occam’s Razor) interpretation that fits all the facts is descent with modification. This is born out by evidence such as genomic data, morphological data, etc. Often more than one pathway has been demonstrated for major organs and organ systems, as well as the evolution of novel capabilities within lines, such as E. coli evolving the capability of metabolizing citrate (occured only in the lab, and this was never found before. It took 20 years of culturing).

    “Either the universe had a cause or it didn’t. If it didn’t have a cause, then it’s beginning can only be described as random. No amount of semantics will change this.”

    You’ve disregarded the virtual particle argument at least twice before this, but it is indeed critical. The creation of “something from nothing” is possible, predicted, and measured by physics within the constraints of the (energy-time) Uncertainty Principle. The occurance of these events are unpredictable. THIS IS FINE. Furthermore, even using the (very shaky) argument that the UP can be applied to the origination of the universe, since the universe has 0 net energy (most measurements suggest that potential energies exactly equate with the total mass-energy content of the universe), its existence from nothing is physically valid. And that’s with restrictions that probably don’t apply!

    “Order doesn’t come from randomness, and you know it.”

    Patently incorrect. For example, look at interfering wavefunctions (single and double-slit experiments). Further, in many, many cases “order” is in fact a stable physical solution to a random distribution. For example, a large (random) array of gases at a specific temperature collapses down into a rotating protostellar cloud whhen it meets the Raleigh-Jeans criterion. A random gas cloud to a star with a planetary system increases what you would call “order”, and it is quite OK with physics. Mind, it still increases entropy, but if you really want to debate entropy that’s for another post.

    “Perhaps we haven’t found a discernable cause for EVERYTHING but the very vast majority of all things need causes and that’s all I have to go off of. That’s my point. Everything I can empirically test tells me that a cause is needed, to not also apply this to the beginning of the universe takes more faith than not.”

    Again, virtual particles are a perfect counterexample. They are predicted to be causeless, they show up with a random distribution, and can be empirically tested via Hawking radiation and the Casamir force (the latter of which has been quite precisely measured). This is an utter and complete refutation of the first premise of the kalam argument. It is not a supposition or plausible refutation — it is an experimentally confirmed one. Even if you refuse to believe the other problems with the argument, this single point destroys the kalam argument by virtue that its premise has been empirically proven to be incorrect today.

    “Ok, so you can say they didn’t “act”. That works for me. The question stands. How did the laws of the Universe begin acting in such a universal and law-like way when they come from a random (uncaused) beginning?”

    The origination of the universe formed a single spacetime structure. This structure has certain properties like nonpreferential directions, (probably) CPT invariance, etc, which are the only requirements for the effects we observe today. The reason that these properties exist in particularly the form that we observe is the matter of intense research into a “grand unified theory”, of which there are many approaches. A possible argument also lies in the “Many Worlds” hypothesis, which would have split the universe’s timeline into all possible timelines, including all possible fine spacetime structures, which then degenerates to the anthropological principle (ours is like this because if it wasn’t we couldn’t ask why it was like this). While perhaps seeming a bit ad-hoc, it is logically complete; at any rate, the jury is out for now, so I won’t speculate on it further.

    “I knew this is what you said, and my statement stands. You don’t know that there is a difference besides location.”

    Well, while I think Brightonrock’s argument is sufficient, dare I point out that it is possible (though mind-bogglingly unlikely) for that to happen quantum mechanically? And anyway, air moving around and stuff … hell it could probably happen with the right gust of air through the right geometries. The fact that energy is around when this happens makes it a wholly different ball game.

    “What I mean to say is that there is no evidence that causes were any different before time and buildings began. You are choosing to think of them as different for no reason”

    Strictly speaking, there is no reason to assume that “cause” had a meaning “before” time, and even less reason to assume that it would be unchanged through the event of the creation of spacetime.

    Wazza gives a nice explanation on why we actually observe the products of randomness.

  • millsapian87

    God didn’t create us in his image, we created him in OURS. That’s why he (at least in the OT) is self-contradictory, jealous and vindictive.

  • Kemist

    Taken as a metaphore – the god part being an unnecessary accessory- , the story is interesting. It relates a fact : at some point in evolution, humans developped a conciousness of themselves, a consciousness that is more acute than that of other animals (even though we could argue that some higher animals -apes, elepants, dolphins, ect.- do display a higher level of it than most might think).

    Before humans (or proto-humans, if you will) got an extended conciousness of themselves and others, they couldn’t define things as “right” or “wrong” in the moral sense (as opposed to the biological sense, upon which our morals are undeniably based, “right” being what allows you to thrive, “wrong” being what might cause your extinction) ; therefore, they could not feel such a thing as guilt, even if they commited murder. They were innocent, just as we wouldn’t accuse a bear that killed somebody of murder. Just as they had no conscience of their own death, and that the passing of a fellow human was therefore meaningless. So, as far as they were concerned, there was no death.

    Consciousness brings you not only guilt, but apprehension of your own death. No wonder these ancient nomads thought it was evil : it brings an anguish to which, to their knowledge, other animals were not submitted.

    Actually, if you think about it, humans were not really humans, before they took a bite out of that metaphoric apple. I’m not sure I would like to meet an “unfallen” human, i.e. a human that has no capacity to feel guilt. Sounds like a very dangerous person – a potential serial killer.

  • Kemist

    Strictly speaking, I should point out that evolution by means of natural selection requires differential extinction as caused by competition or external factors. Abiogenesis is strictly outside of this arena, as abiogenesis lacks components which can undergo differential extinction and thus cannot evolve in any sense.

    Actually, this should be thought of in shades of gray. Chemical species can be thought of as replicators in competition which can undergo differential extinction influenced by their environment. Chemical evolution :)

    Research on abiogenesis can make use of evolutionary theory, as can informatics. It’s a pretty powerful theory. And, what’s more, it works.

    For example the evolutionary algorithm (also called genetic algorithm) can solve optimization problems quite fast compared with traditional methods.

  • http://www.sundriesshack.com Jimmie

    It’s tough to do good analysis of a book if you don’t read it all that carefully. I counted at least two factual errors in the first two paragraphs.

    When you get the details correct, perhaps I’ll pay attention to the rest of it.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @Jimmie: I’m happy to correct them if I agree they are factual errors. Hope you’ll let me know instead of just saying that.

    Unfortunately, I make errors just like everyone else, but I can tell you I’ve read this story probably over a hundred times, and have heard it recounted many times more. But if I got something wrong, I’m happy to correct it and admit my error.

  • kai_hiwatari

    If god is supposed to have created everything why did he put the fruit in garden in the first place? Even if the fruit is there why didn’t it create human in such a way that we can’t be tempted? Freewill? If it had never given us freewill, no one would even know about freewill.

    Its a good story but not convincing enough. What Susan B. wrote earlier about human leaving the garden to seek knowledge is much better. I guess they were not as creative back then.

  • Leif

    McBloggenstein said:

    “But who are we to question his intentions? Right?”

    I will answer the second question first: Wrong.

    The bible contains a large amount of familial metaphors, of God’s children, more so in the new testament but also in the old testament. As a child grows and develops, its need for parents/caretakers diminishes, as he or she learns to provide for his own needs and dependency on elders decreases. There necessarily comes a time in the child’s life, now in adolescence, when he must begin to question the choices his parents make on his behalf, to develop an independent identity from his elders. A child who does not question his parents will never develop an independence from them, always requiring their guidance and approval for happiness, unable to find it within themselves.

    My father taught me that it was a parent’s greatest purpose to see their children become happier and more successful than they, a belief that I find honorable and uplifting. No one can ever do that if they are forever dependent upon Mommy and Daddy for advice and support. Therefore, if we are truly God’s Children, it is not only our right to question God’s intentions, it is our duty to do so.

  • http://www.revealedsingularity.net tigerhawkvok

    @ Kemist

    I know, and agree (and really, where do you declare life? By many metrics, those first chemical replicators were a form of life), but my point was that chemical soup -> replicators is not an inherently evolutionary event, and the evolution of replicators doesn’t quite work with the standard person’s idea of evolution. I should have been more careful in my phrasing!

    Now, none of this is to imply I think that anything other than abiogenesis is correct, just trying to be accurate.

  • TTT

    A question for the faithful:

    The concept of the “Fall” is that man ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, and so gained the ability to judge. Man was then kicked out of Eden not only as punishment for that, but also to keep him from eating the fruit of life and becoming immortal and thus becoming–as the original post here said–”as one of us,” i.e., gods. Knowing everything and living forever.

    The punishment for this “crime”–mortality, hard work, painful childbirth–is still in effect.

    Does it not thus follow that the human ability to judge God is also fully-realized and in effect? If that is what the fruit allowed us to do, and we’re still being punished for it, then it must be there.

    Which means we can look at God and judge him evil. It isn’t enough to say “the lord works in mysterious ways,” or the various hedgings that were handed down to Job. If we did the time, we must have done the crime–and the crime is knowledge. We don’t need to understand God’s “mysteries”–in this world, for our lives, he does evil.

  • http://37stories.wordpress.com Archie

    There are obviously a bunch of brilliant thinkers that are following this blog. So, I have a question and apologize in advance if it is off topic. Can anyone tell me what God’s glory is?

  • Nick

    Great post. In addition to being responsible, the Christian god is not held accountable by his followers. A great many “rules to live by” are in the Bible, yet the deity is not required to follow any of them. So Christians are taught that a capricious, irrational and unaccountable leader is “in charge,” and this acceptance can then transfer to actual human leaders – see for example the semi-deification of George Bush and the acceptance of his disastrous policies by the Christian faithful.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Archie: “Can anyone tell me what God’s glory is?”

    The largest erection in the universe?

  • Anonomouse

    “Can anyone tell me what God’s glory is?”

    A property of a Mythical Creature.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Hello Everyone

    I truly wish I had the time to keep up with all of you. As it is, finals are quickly approaching, and combined with the family and friends obligations that go along with the holidays, I haven’t spent as much as I’d like on the blogosphere. Those of you who have written responses to me, and there are some good arguments in there, I plan to get back to them as soon as I can. Believe me, I consider a good argument a challenge as it forces me to reconsider the merits of my own position and learn about the position of another person.

    So, thanks for your patience and for taking the time to respond to me.

    Eric Kemp

  • cyrano

    Here’s an interesting thought exercise relevant to the topic:

    Why would Adam eat the fruit? Prior to the fall, surely man’s nature was pure – an act of deliberate disobedience to God would have repulsed him utterly, to his very heart. Because there was nothing evil in the garden, was there? So what could have put it in man’s head to disobey?

    There is an answer to this question, though it involves a speculative reading of the text. So:

    God creates man, then sees that he is alone. God recognizes that this is not good. So man was alone, in a “Not Good” state-of-being for some period of time, before God made woman.

    Perhaps, as man sat there, all alone, dejected, not feeling very good at all, he reflected on God’s nature.

    IF God knew what he was doing, he surely would have been able to predict that man would suffer in his loneliness. If that was the case, then did God deliberately make things “Not Good?” Is God truly a benevolent intelligence?

    On the other hand, IF God did not know what he was doing, then man’s safety was not guaranteed. What a frightening notion!

    Either way, man enjoyed a fair amount of existential angst before he realized that he needed to take responsibility for his own spirit. He could not leave matters in the hands of a God that was either (i) malicious or (ii) incompetent. So he ate the fruit, and from it acquired knowledge of good and evil.

    And for generations after, the sons and daughters of man have sought to deny this primeval realization about the nature of God, as though they could vomit forth the fruit and crawl, undignified, benighted and ignorant, back into the garden of their master. Well, it’s impossible, but that will never stop them from trying.

  • arachnophilia

    And God knew all this would happen, yet still setup things so man would disobey him!

    well, maybe not. maybe he legitimately wanted to know if man would follow directions blindly, and obey the lying god instead of the truthful serpent. whether or not man failed that test is also up for debate.

    What kind of God would punish so many innocent people and animals throughout history because of one sin that he orchestrated to happen?

    but then go look at genesis 18, where abraham sucessfully argues that god would be unjust for whiping away the innocent along with the guilty. clearly, abraham does not think god should kill innocent people (and indeed, that there are innocent people) because of the sins of others, and god agrees. which also sort of puts abraham’s blind faith in the willingness to murder his own son into perspective. maybe he was supposed to tell god “yeah, no thanks, he’s done nothing wrong.” he was willing to make the same argument for his nephew lot, right?

    Good people suffer, while the evil prosper. Life isn’t fair.

    if you want to talk disturbing, look at job. worst, most anticlimactic ending ever.

    “why do bad things happen to good people, god?”
    “shuttup, i’m god. deal with it.”

    though i suspect this book was primarily written to undercut the idea that everyone got exactly what they deserved, so the worldly blessed must be the pious and the cursed must be sinners (and by extension, judah didn’t deserve her exile in babylon, as jeremiah would like us to think).

    Christians believe that God created the world and is in control of it, so they must find a scapegoat for all this evil that goes on.

    interesting aside, the word “scapegoat” is a general bastardization of a ritual described in, iirc, leviticus, where one lamb is slaughtered and the other is sent out in the wilderness. early interpretation was that it carried the sins of israel on it, but closer examination reveals the parallelism. l’azazel “for the goat that disappears” is in parallel to l’yahweh, “for yahweh” and thus is probably also a proper name. it’s certainly used as such in intertestamental literature. so why exactly are the children of israel being commanded to deliver a sacrifice to another god? or perhaps, the chupacabra?

    So they have the story of the forbidden fruit and Satan, the rebellious angel.

    there’s nothing in the bible to suggest that satan is rebellious (at least until the end times). somebody invented this story along the way. rather, job puts him as “a son of god” (perhaps “demigod” or “other god” depending on how idiomatic you like your texts), and has him specifically acting only within the authority of yahweh, sort of like god’s prosecuting attourney. interesting that in some christian mythologies, christ takes over this role…

    in any case, there’s certainly no reason to think that the serpent was satan, either. the story specifically describes why snakes have no legs and lick the ground. doesn’t sound like a demon, sounds like an animal. that… you know… used to be able to talk. hey i didn’t write the thing.

    @cello:

    So has been pointed out hundreds of times, God created both good and evil.

    indeed, even the bible says so. in the present tense too.

    @vorjack:

    I have to feel sorry for the ancient authors/editors of the Pentateuch. I tend to see these stories as relics of a polytheistic past, with a God who is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, and certainly not omni-benevolent. Not alone, either, hence lines like Gen 3:22: “Behold, the man is become as one of us…”

    there’s a LOT of speculation about that one. i’m not sure it’s polytheistic (i can show you some polytheism if you’re interested), as it’s not like they just copied the stories outright. a lot of work went into even the stories that were adapted from other cultures (look at utnapishtim in “gilgamesh” and noah in “genesis” lots of similarities, but a good deal of changes too). i personally suspect it’s a simple linguistic quirk, but most people suggest it’s god and his angels. he similarly uses plurals in genesis 1, making man in “our image” and so forth.

    But in the Hebrew version, God has to be both the flood-maker and the savior.

    very common in genesis. god keeps changing his mind, like he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    Guys, the bible is in tension with itself. Get over it.

    indeed. and don’t think i’m trying to deny that. only that blatant and idiotic contradictions are overly common within the individual sources. i find it unlikely that the authors wouldn’t notice; they must have used things like the plurals for a reason and not by accident. and i’m positive that redactors noticed contradictions between sources when editting stories together.

    @vorjack:

    Really God, it’s not my fault! I didn’t want to question you, it was … was … that water buffalo over there!

    even more curious, adam doesn’t blame eve. he blames god for putting eve there. and gets evicted anyways. apparently, shifting the blame didn’t cut it. supposedly, one of the morals people are to draw from this is that even in a world that’s set against you, it’s up to the individual to be honorable and not simply following others.

    @trj:

    Most of us can agree that a literal interpretation of the Garden of Eden is ludicrous. But interpreting the creation myth as a metaphor doesn’t make much sense either (at least to me).

    indeed. it works much better literally. i mean, literarily. like, “as literature.” i see no need to read it metaphorically, and don’t suspect it was ever meant that way. metaphorically, it could be about just about anything. birth of consciousness, exit from the fertile crescent, the invention of agriculture…

    @russ:

    God placed a fallen angel in the garden to tempt man. True

    false. read it again, more closely this time. the only angels in the garden are the ones god places there to keep man out.

    God truly gave man a free will and a choice. Man chose to rebel against God and man continues to rebel to this day.

    what do you do when you’re given two bad choices? do you follow orders blindly even though they’re lies? or do you disobey authority and accept the argument that’s truthful?

    The only life he knew was perfect life without pain and without end.

    technically true since he hadn’t died at this point. but the evidence from the text is that god created man mortal. why else put a tree that grants eternal life in the garden, if man didn’t need it? it’s only the exile from this tree that eventually kills adam.

    You are in a better position then Adam was because you have knowledge of both good and evil.

    in the way that god does? are we like god in our knowledge? adam evidently was. we might be in exactly in the same position as him. it’s another bad assumption that he didn’t know right from wrong — it’s one of MANY interpretations of the text. though i might argue that we do know right and wrong about as well as god, i’m just not sure you’d be happy with that argument. afterall, god turns to abraham for counsel on what the moral thing would be to do regarding sodom.

    Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

    unless god’s really, really pissed and sends your ass to babylon. or curses you to just test you faith. or, you know, you’re his only begotten son. or the guy who wrote the words he quoted on the cross.

  • Russ

    All,

    I have not been able to keep up with all that has been said due to my schedule so I apologize if I say something here that has been responded to already.

    @ cyrano

    IF God knew what he was doing, he surely would have been able to predict that man would suffer in his loneliness… On the other hand, IF God did not know what he was doing, then man’s safety was not guaranteed.

    Or, perhaps God knew exactly what He was doing but allowed man to experience loneliness so that he would more fully appreciate his wife when she arrived. Does God have the right to teach His creation truth through experience?

    … (man) needed to take responsibility for his own spirit.

    It was not man’s spirit in the first place. His spirit came from the breath of God. His dependence was completely upon God just as your breath is from God. Even with all of man’s scientific advances, man is still dependant upon God. Just stop the rain from falling on the earth for a few years or stop the sun from shinning for a few days and you will quickly see that man is still dependant on God.

    Is God obligated to make man a certain way? Should the tree curse the river that brings water to its roots? God has created us to be dependant upon Him and He has every right to do so. When you take home a puppy you are making that animal dependant upon yourself and I would guess that you will teach it not to piss on the carpet and to come when you call. God is the source of life and those who rebel against the very source of life will die, not because God is evil but because you cut yourself off from the very One who gives you life in the first place.

    Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

    Like it or not, you are dependant upon God for your life but if you rebel and you choose death instead, it is your choice but be aware that your choice is not just for time, it is for eternity.

    @ arachnophilia

    …the only angels in the garden are the ones god places…

    Satan is a fallen angel according to other passage in the Bible.

    …what do you do when you’re given two bad choices…

    Obedience to your Creator is not a bad choice especially when the God who created you is a God of love. Yes God allowed man to fall into sin and suffer death but He was also willing to allow His own Son to suffer the same death to save man from his rebellion. In doing so God is glorified and man is humiliated but this is proper for man has no right to rebel against a loving God.

    …god created man mortal…

    Yes. God created man dependant upon Himself. Does God not have the right to do as He pleases? When you were born you were completely dependant upon your parents. Should your parents not have birthed you because you could not survive without them? Did they not also require obedience from you?

    Being separated from God is death. Being reconciled to God is LIFE! – Because God is the source of life. If you choose to separate yourself from the source of life, is God responsible when you perish?

    Death is not the punishment of God. Death is the result of being separated from the source of life.

    Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” [John 15:5-6]

    You choose to abide in Christ when you ask Him to forgive you of your sin. Then you will be born again and will experience real life for the first time.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Shorter Russ:
    God doesn’t have to play by the rules because he is the rules.

    “God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players (i.e. everybody), to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.”

    –Pratchett & Gaiman, Good Omens

    And also:

    “Just ’cause you’re the dungeon master doesn’t give you the right to be a dick!”

    –Me, to a guy named Dale, age fifteen.

    No, no–it was a Dungeons and Dragons weekend.

  • Rene

    Thought I’d add in my two bits. I’m still trying to figure all of this out, but this is where I’m at so far.

    Regarding good and evil:

    *Good and evil aren’t things, but the use we make of things.
    *Good and evil are actions with motives, not substances.
    *Good and evil have always existed as abstract possibilities or potential ways of acting, because God is a being who acts
    *Good would be wisest or best use one makes of persons or things.
    *Evil would be foolish or destructive use of persons or things.
    *Only good existed as a concrete reality or as that which was actually done as long as God was the only one making choices.
    *Evil changed from an abstract possibility or a potential way of acting to a concrete reality or to that which was actually done when certain beings freely made unwise and unloving choices. Perhaps is never HAD to happen.

    You are who you are because you have acted out of the reality of choosing some of the potential ways of acting that are before you.

    Can God do Evil? I don’t think so. Not because He lacks the power, but because He lacks the heart. For example, if someone asked me to shoot my husband, would it be within my physical power to do so? Sure. But I wouldn’t have the heart- I simply couldn’t go through with it.

    One would be foolish to make such statements without asking the questions,
    ‘If God has sovereignly predetermined all, how is He not the author of evil?’….
    ‘Why would God judge people for being the way they are if it is God who predestined the way we would be?’….
    ‘If God really predestines some to be chosen for salvation and some not, how can you love someone like that?’

    People want nothing to do with God because they have ideas about Him that aren’t correct.

    Here’s where my current thought process is at:

    Not all events are predestined by God. Our choices are creative acts. Before they are made they do not exist except as possibilities. Once made, they are no longer a possibility but an actuality. God knows all things, both actual and possible. God sees contingent events as they really are.

    God wishes all to enter into relationship with Him. Salvation is initiated by God. We need to respond to God’s grace. God elects to save those who respond.

    He knows every possible situation and has infinite power to deal with anything. He is omniscient- He sees all possibilities and all actualities, but none as a certainty. Therefore, to a great degree, the future is open. If everything is a certainty from all eternity, does God really have the freedom to change anything? Wouldn’t I be locking the deity into a box by thinking like that?

    I think God can make us free without blame for people’s decisions. He made us capable of good or evil- it is not certain whether you go to Heaven or to Hell when you are born. God really has given you freedom and the choice to make. He designed it open.

    Love involves freedom. I don’t think I am independent of God in my freedom, I don’t think this view takes away from His sovereignty, I think I’m free through Him.

    ‘Freedom entails risk. In creative beings with freewill, omnipotence from the outset submits the possibility of defeat. What you call defeat, I call miracle; for to make things which are not itself and thus to become capable of being resisted is the most astonishing and unimaginable of all the feats we attribute to the Deity.”
    -C.S. Lewis

    Jeremiah 18:1-9, Jeremiah 26:3. The possibility of an open future gives God room to grieve for what is going on the in the world. Otherwise, why would He?

    So, then why have all men sinned?

    Explanation 1: We are all born sinners or have inherited a sinful nature from Adam.
    -Strength of this argument: Simple explanation.
    -Weakness: Poor answer as to why everybody is guilty for doing it.

    Explanation 2: We have all chosen to follow Adam and Eve’s example.
    -Strength: strongly upholds responsibility of the individual.
    -Weakness: Poor answer as to why every single individual did it.

    Which is correct? Rom 7:17-21. When you make choices, you begin to make yourself into something and it becomes
    you.

    I think God’s goal is to make us see sin for what it is. Why else would people continue to sin?

    I think the solution lies in the combination of seeing sin for what it is, and seeing God for who He is.

    We too often believe that because we are tempted, we have sinned. It’s not true. Jesus was tempted and was without sin. Can’t you experience a “temptation” -a sinful thought, whatever- without processing it and making it your own through action? I think so. To be freed from sin, there is both a God component and a human component.

    So, why did it happen? Why did all sin? Perhaps there is no true answer than that we all simple followed Adam and Eve’s example for no reason. I mean, we are bombarded with outside thoughts and influences all the time, right? But those influences are not necessarily who we are. I can deny the right of a certain thought or idea to influence my into any action or to exist in a permanent manner.

    We are not born as selfish children. We are born with self-love…a desire for happiness and not misery within ourselves. It becomes selfish when that desire outweighs the needs of other people.

    Yeah, that was long. Holla back folks.

  • Sunny Day

    “I truly wish I had the time to keep up with all of you. As it is, finals are quickly approaching, and combined with the family and friends obligations that go along with the holidays, I haven’t spent as much as I’d like on the blogosphere.”

    Translation: “I don’t want to think about what has been painstakingly explained to me in the past so I’m headed back to my blog to make a ridiculous post about my complete and utter lack of understanding of Science.

    http://intelligentscience.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/three-ways-of-knowing/

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Russ: “Or, perhaps God knew exactly what He was doing but allowed man to experience loneliness so that he would more fully appreciate his wife when she arrived. Does God have the right to teach His creation truth through experience?”

    God is not omnipotent enough to have made Adam respect and appreciate Eve without having to torture him with loneliness?

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Rene:
    Doesn’t your third point leave you in a bit of a mess?

    Good and evil have always existed as abstract possibilities or potential ways of acting, because God is a being who acts.

    So God is capable of evil.

    Evil would be foolish or destructive use of persons or things.

    Such as drowning all but some half-dozen of them? Or ordering entire cities slaughtered down to the last child? Or sending bears to rip up a bunch of kids for mocking Elisha?

    Only good existed as a concrete reality or as that which was actually done as long as God was the only one making choices.

    Not sure where you find evidence for this. Shall I argue that keeping Adam and Eve deliberately ignorant when He had foreknowledge of their eventual damnation and the suffering He would then inflict on them, and us, isn’t evil?

    Can God do Evil? I don’t think so. Not because He lacks the power, but because He lacks the heart. For example, if someone asked me to shoot my husband, would it be within my physical power to do so? Sure. But I wouldn’t have the heart- I simply couldn’t go through with it.

    Interesting idea–perhaps the residents of Sodom or Gomorrah would care to opine on this? Or those of Jericho? Herod? Ananais, Sapphira? God murdered every one of those people either by his own hand or by instruction. How about the “gotcha” he gave Abraham and Isaac?

    It also doesn’t address the contemporary assertion advanced by some that God chastises those he loves in this world (By, for example, giving them AIDS, say some, but let’s leave the specifics out).

    What if you thought God was telling you to shoot your husband–would you disobey God? Isn’t that the evil choice? If you sought counselling for what you thought was a delusion, wouldn’t that be questioning God, and would you not expect to be punished for that–”welcome the chastisement of God”, indeed?

    After that statement, you ask the right questions, but you don’t seem to get any real answers:

    Not all events are predestined by God.

    That is, the all-powerful, all-knowing being is powerless against our will? He knows exactly the path we will walk, his knowing it makes it so, yet he cannot change it with a thought?

    Or:

    He is omniscient- He sees all possibilities and all actualities, but none as a certainty.

    So God could bet wrong? In which case you’re saying He doesn’t actually know the future?

    If everything is a certainty from all eternity, does God really have the freedom to change anything? Wouldn’t I be locking the deity into a box by thinking like that?

    An excellent question, but then you have to take the “all-powerful” label off the new box you’ve just shoved the new, less-impressive God into.

    I have a better answer: God is made up.
    -Strength of this argument: Simple explanation.
    -Weakness: Um … well, you have me there. It does leave one question uncertain: Where did we come from. But science has already given us a glimpse into the first seconds after the “Big Bang”, and it’s no stretch to guess they’ll eventually figure out the orgins of life as well.

    The non-exisitence of god makes more sense than any other explanation. It’s simple and answers all the questions. Theology dances and twists itself into knots, as your comment seems to prove.

    Is there a better, simpler way to reconcile the irrational disconnect between an all-knowing, all-loving God who plans every moment of misery we will suffer both on this earth and in the Hell he has created to receive the unrighteous, than his non-existence?

    I also enjoyed reading the ideas you put forth about sin:

    We too often believe that because we are tempted, we have sinned. It’s not true. Jesus was tempted and was without sin. Can’t you experience a “temptation” -a sinful thought, whatever- without processing it and making it your own through action?

    I was brought up in a tradition of “thought, word, and deed.” And I believe thoughts can be sinful, because whether we act on them or not, they influence our actions. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a Hooters restaurant chain, Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t have an audience, and the Civil Rights Act would never have been necessary.

    Your final point, about selfishness, is excellent. It’s just that I don’t see any gods having anything to do with the case.

  • Russ

    Wintermute,

    God is omnipotent enough to make the entire universe. Are you angry with God because He does not do things the way you want them done?

  • Russ

    How can the thing that is formed have a better understanding of what is right and what is wrong then the One who formed it? For example, if I write some computer code that is defective, does the code itself have a better understanding of how to fix itself or does the programmer? How can we accuse the One who has created us of evil when He is for more knowing then we are?

    By continuing to accuse God of evil, you continue to separate yourselves from God who is the source of life. If you cut yourselves off from your source of life and you die, is God to blame?

    But if you will repent and humble yourselves and confess your sin before the God who created the universe by speaking it into existence and the one who so loved the world that He gave His only Son to save it from death, you will have eternal life. The choice is yours.

  • Sunny Day

    “God is omnipotent enough to make the entire universe. Are you angry with God because He does not do things the way you want them done?”

    Why be angry with a Farie Tale?

  • Sunny Day

    “How can the thing that is formed have a better understanding of what is right and what is wrong then the One who formed it? For example, if I write some computer code that is defective, does the code itself have a better understanding of how to fix itself or does the programmer? How can we accuse the One who has created us of evil when He is for more knowing then we are? [Rest of the Bible Tumping Deleted]”

    So Might Makes Right?

  • Jabster

    @Russ:

    “How can the thing that is formed have a better understanding of what is right and what is wrong then the One who formed it? For example, if I write some computer code that is defective, does the code itself have a better understanding of how to fix itself or does the programmer? How can we accuse the One who has created us of evil when He is for more knowing then we are?”

    Which is jut another way oh saying “god works in mysterious ways” which seems to be used frequently to justify god existing but his “actions” not conforming to to the all loving god that he is supposed to be. You then go on to say:

    “But if you will repent and humble yourselves and confess your sin before the God who created the universe by speaking it into existence and the one who so loved the world that He gave His only Son to save it from death, you will have eternal life. The choice is yours.”

    So in this case you understand exactly how the mind of god works. This is one of the problems I’ve always had with religion. You are happy to try and impose your world view and morals on others and yet at the same time insist that we cannot understand god. You can’t have it both ways to suit your own agenda.

  • Dan L.

    How can the thing that is formed have a better understanding of what is right and what is wrong then the One who formed it? For example, if I write some computer code that is defective, does the code itself have a better understanding of how to fix itself or does the programmer? How can we accuse the One who has created us of evil when He is for more knowing then we are?

    But we’re not talking about how well a particular patch of code works, we’re talking about moral judgments in the real world. What made you think that this is a reasonable analogy? Code != human beings, and function != morality.

    A better analogy might be, if I write some error-correcting code that is defective and run it on some Turing-like system (otherwise there is no agency involved in the code), can it do a better job of detecting errors when run on itself than I could debugging it myself? And that depends on how robust the code is, etc. It is no a straight-forward yes or no. Even then, this is not a question of the program being able to make moral judgments better than I can; this is a question of whether the program can perform a completely specifiable task better than I can.

    The notion that God is more knowing than we are is an assertion that very few people here are going to stipulate. By assuming that God is omnipotent/omniscient, you’re begging the question and not inviting any sort of debate.

    By continuing to accuse God of evil, you continue to separate yourselves from God who is the source of life. If you cut yourselves off from your source of life and you die, is God to blame?

    It seems that people die whether or not they believe in God. To my knowledge, everyone who has ever lived so far is going to die at some point. And if God created us, then yes: God is to blame.

    But if you will repent and humble yourselves and confess your sin before the God who created the universe by speaking it into existence and the one who so loved the world that He gave His only Son to save it from death, you will have eternal life. The choice is yours.

    Umm, what reason do I have to believe this other than the say-so of a bunch of people with less understanding of how the real world works than I do? If all you can do is beg the question, this may not be the blog for you.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Russ: “God is omnipotent enough to make the entire universe. Are you angry with God because He does not do things the way you want them done?”

    No, I’m not angry with God, any more than I’m angry with unicorns for not leaving chocolates in my bed.

    You’re the one who’s saying that there are things God can’t do; specifically, he can’t make people who appreciate company without first being soul-crushingly lonely. If you’re happy with a god who is so limited in his creative abilities (sure, he can do gross structures like planets and galaxies, but the subtleties of emotion are beyond him), then fine. But seeing as there’s no evidence for any of this anyway, why not believe that he’s actually competentat making humans?

  • Russ

    Sunny Day – Truth makes right, not might

    Jabster – Because you cannot understand God does not mean that His children cannot understand Him. Jesus never imposed His view on anyone. He only responded to those who attempted to impose their view on Him.

    Dan L – “… if God created us, then yes: God is to blame.” So if God created gravity and then warned you not to jump off a cliff but you do it anyways and you die, then God is to blame?

    Wintermute – I never said that God could not make man any way He chooses. Don’t put words in my mouth please. I said that God chose to make man dependant upon Himself and unable to live apart from Him – which is why there is death, because man has chosen to rebel against the very source of life.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Russ:

    I never said that God could not make man any way He chooses. Don’t put words in my mouth please.

    You said:

    Or, perhaps God knew exactly what He was doing but allowed man to experience loneliness so that he would more fully appreciate his wife when she arrived.

    So, God could have chosen to make a man that would fully appreciate his spouse without first needing to be saddled with soul-crushing loneliness? You contention is that God deliberately chose to make man such that he’d need to suffer in order to learn what God wanted him to know? And you think that’s a good thing?

    It’s either incompetence or malice.

  • Russ

    Wintermute

    So then, unless God makes man all knowing and all powerful then God is evil. Unless God makes man equal with Himself then God is evil according to you. God gave you life but you curse God because God did not create you equal to Himself.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @Russ: If God doesn’t want us “cursing” him, why doesn’t he tell us himself, instead of having you tell us for him? If God exists, why doesn’t he show himself?

    Because he doesn’t exist, that’s why.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Russ:

    So then, unless God makes man all knowing and all powerful then God is evil. Unless God makes man equal with Himself then God is evil according to you. God gave you life but you curse God because God did not create you equal to Himself.

    No, not at all. First of all, I don’t curse God any more than you curse Mithras, and for the same reason. Why would I want to waste my energy railing against someone else’s delusion?

    Secondly, I said nothing about wanting humans to be all-powerful or all-knowing. I have no idea where you got that from. I made a very specific point about your conception of God deliberately choosing to make humans such that he’d need to force them to suffer.

    You are the one who claims that God made humans in such a manner that he’d have an excuse to force them to suffer; and that he could have made them not need to suffer, if he so chose. If I made a life-form that I claimed to care for, but deliberately designed it so that it could only learn what I wanted it to know if I first locked it in a cage and poked it with sticks (knowing that it found this unpleasant), would you say that this was a good thing to do, or a bad thing?

    I maintain that if God created man in such a way that he had to force us to suffer, when he could have chosen otherwise, this is evil.

    Unless, of course, we assume that humans are simply more moral than God, and that we have to treat him like a child who hasn’t yet learnt empathy? I suppose that then it would be acceptable (but terribly regrettable) for him to have acted so…

  • Sunny Day

    “Sunny Day – Truth makes right, not might”

    Then all you have to do is prove the Truth that your god exists.

  • Marcy

    If there is a god who governs the universe then here’s a news flash he doesn’t need our permission to exist. He would exist whether or not we believed he exist. And if there was a god then who cares what some insignificant little winny ass like this idiot Daniel has to say..
    Get over it! Stop trying to pretend like you have some sense. I don’t know if there is a god however I really can not stand ego centric little men like Dan who enjoy masquerading around as though they are ifar more ntellectually superior then everyone else. You have your head so far up your own assets that the only thing you see is darkness!

  • Jabster

    @Russ

    “Because you cannot understand God does not mean that His children cannot understand Him.”

    Well firstly you already said that it doesn’t matter whether we are his children or not we still can’t understand every thing, although the bits about persecuting others for their sins seems to be easy to understand, and secondly I thought we where supposed to all be his children – oh well.

    “Jesus never imposed His view on anyone. He only responded to those who attempted to impose their view on Him.”

    To address the second part are yo seriously trying to claim that god doesn’t try to impose his will? So let’s see you can be a completely moral person and do good for others all your life but if you don’t believe in god you burn in hell for eternity.

  • Jabster

    @Marcy

    “If there is a god who governs the universe …” well it’s a good job there isn’t then.

  • http://reverted.blogspot.com reverted

    Marcy: “…they are ifar more ntellectually superior…”

    Me: “cdesign proponentsists” anyone? ;)

    Sorry, Marcy, but you calling Daniel egocentric is ridiculous. Each post of his that I’ve read has shown him to be far more restrained and fair than several of the other commenters here (with most of whom I agree).

    Your post reads as nothing more than a temper tantrum from someone who feels deeply offended, but can’t quite figure out any rational way in which to mount a defense. So, you resort to a dogpile of subjunctives, which you seem to think justifies making ad hominem attacks—which, in turn, you seem to think actually makes the strong defense you so crave.

    But, screaming while writing on the floor, flinging poo, does not constitute a sound intellectual defense.

    So, please, actually carefully THINK about the cogent points Daniel has taken the time to broach (and how staggeringly tenuous and illogical your response to them was).

  • http://reverted.blogspot.com reverted

    That should be “…while writhing on the floor…”.

    Stupid typos. :p

    (At any rate, Daniel’s posts are incomparably more poised, articulate, and relevant than Marcy’s is.)

  • Tom Ritchford

    “1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause”

    This is called begging the question. Yes, if everything has a cause then there’s a God. But what evidence do you have that that is the case?

    I throw a pair of dice. They come up 6. What was the cause of 6 (as opposed to 7?)

    In your world, God decided that the dice should come up 6 – but then you have a large number of new questions opened (“why did he pick 6 and not 7?”)

    In my world, there was no cause for 6 over 7. It was just random luck. No explanation is needed – the end.

    “2. The Universe began to exist”

    Again, how exactly do you know this fact?

  • ano

    Russ asks “If God had placed Jesus Christ in the garden, do you think that Jesus would have rebelled as Adam did?”

    Some dualists in the past have actually asserted that the god who created the world is evil and that Jesus was the serpent that convinced Eve to eat the fruit to free man from the evil god.

  • http://www.girlonlaptop.com Rachel

    Hey, i like your writings. My biggest problem with the gospel is that Judas committed suicide…makes absolutely no sense that somebody would have to kill themselves when Jesus set up his own death!

  • hootencrew

    I really don’t want to comment to this, but I feel like this post is one sided and in many ways pretty ignorant. You have given a really simple and relatively weak exegesis of what is actually going on in Genesis chapter three all based on what you think the main parts of the story are, when in reality brilliant men have wrestled for ages with the ramifications of what is being said here about God and man. It seems silly to attempt making any kind of argument in a few paragraphs on this issue. The only way one could do this would be to simplify what is really going on, throw in a few jabs at God’s expense, and then give their own opinion. Hmm sounds pretty familiar.

    1.“The blame falls on God”…The basic argument is whether or not God caused evil. I won’t try and delve into the whole scope of this argument, because to do so would be to make the same mistake that was made here in this post. However, many theologians have concluded that God could have ordained evil exist without being evil Himself. This conclusion is Biblical with the best example being the fact that God himself ordained that Jesus would die to atone for sin. Jesus death was a profound act of murder and evil that, according to the Bible, was fully set in motion by God himself. The point still remains that God is not the one who disobeyed, it was Adam, and God did not perpetuate the act of Jesus death, man did. The book of Romans deals with the ramifications of this statement especially in chapter 9 so read that before you go off asking dumb questions. Please!!!

    2.“The snake was right”…He absolutely was right. Adam and Eve knew what evil was, but before this moment Adam and Eve had no concept of what evil was like because it didn’t exist in humanity yet. I can know what something is and not know for myself what it is like. This happens all them time. I knew as kid what driving a car was but I didn’t have a clue what it was like until I did it. The knowledge of good and evil came when they themselves experienced evil by disobeying God. Evil at its core is doing what goes against the will of God and disobeying falls into that category.

    3.”What kind of God would punish so many innocent people and animals throughout history because of one sin…”…This is a misunderstanding of what is actually going on here. No its not a misunderstanding its reducing something down to an easier form instead of dealing with reality, because that would be a lot harder than throwing out ridiculous punditry. God is not punishing the world for one sin, rather He is punishing a world that is now innately wired to sin. Man now has the ability to know good and evil and faithfully chooses the evil. Atheism is a great example of this. You say I don’t believe in God, and if He does exist I think He’s a big fat jerk so there. You are also assuming that God sends Adam and Eve out from the garden because He now hates them and wants to make them pay, but this is not true since the Bible is clear that events had already been set in motion for God himself to redeem mankind. These events will happen because of God’s love. Man will be punished for disobedience but the act of punishment itself is intended to turn mans heart back to God. It would be horrible if every time somebody’s kid did something bad if they just said, “Ah don’t worry about it.” The kid would grow up to be a raging narcissist and be impossible to be around. Punishment always has a loving purpose when it comes to God. But I will say again that volumes have been written about this subject by really smart people who for some reason couldn’t sum up their thoughts in 300 words on an internet blog.

    4.“Why did he make the tree have magical properties so that when they ate Adam and Eve “knew good from evil”…This was my favorite line of the whole thing really. I will answer the question. The tree wasn’t magical. The Bible never says it was magical. It was the choice that caused the change in man, not the fruit.

    I would love to write more here but my kids are about to kill each other. Sin nature at its finest!

  • hootencrew

    Your skills of argumentation astound me. This is the deepest argument against God ever. I’m now going to be an atheist.

  • http://anevilgod Rev Erma Juliano

    IT IS INTERESTING YOU CAME UPON A REALIZED THRUTH; GOD THE FATHER IS LOUSY
    WITH THE HUMAN RACE AND HIS OWN SON – LUCIFER. GOD ALWAYS LEAVES A TRAIL
    ON HIS FRAILITES. HE DOESN’T HIDE OR COVERUP — HE EXPOSES IT.
    LUCIFER, GOD’S SON, SERVED HIM FAITHFULLY FOR YEARS AND YEARS. THEN ONE DAY GOD BEING BORED DECIDED TO HAVE A LITTLE FUN WITH LUCIFER. THE END RESULT IS KNOWN AS THE WAR BETWEEN GOD THE FATHER AND LUCIFER. GOD
    WON, LUCIFER LOST. GOD, NATURALLY, BLAMED LUCIFER FOR THE WHOLE EPISODE.
    THERE ARE OTHER EVIDENCES THROUGHOUT THE OLD TESTAMENT. THE MOST NOTORIOUS IS THE FIRST AND LAST CHAPTERS OF THE BOOK OF JOB.
    INSTEAD OF BEING HAPPY WITH JOBS’ RIGHTEOUSNESS, HE SENDS LUCIFER AFTER HIM. LUCIFERS’ JEALOUSY OVER HIS HEDGE OF PROTECTION(jobs)ALLOW GOD THE
    FATHER TO PLAY ANOTHER GAME. DID JOB APPRECIATE ALL THIS. WOULD YOU?
    THE LAST CHAPTER IN JOB REVEALS GOD THE FATHERS’ FRAILTY. GOD BRAGGED
    AND BRAGGED OVER HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS. TO END THE WAR, JOB ‘SUCKED UP’
    AND SAID YEA, YOU’RE THE GREATEST. SATISFIED, GOD LEFT HIM ALONE. THE RESULT: JOB IGNORED HIM THE REST OF HIS DAYS. WHO WOULDN’T.
    THE ONLY REASON WE HAVE PROGRESSED BEYOND THE DARK AGES OF THE
    OLD TESTAMENT IS BECAUSE OF JESUS CHRIST. WITHOUT HIM, LIFES’ PROGRESSION WOULD BE NILL. THERE IS JUST ONE PROBLEM: EVEN THOUGH CHRIST IS ON THE
    THRONE — god the father is still at it.
    WHAT IS THE SOLUTION. .

    • John C

      Is this Marcion in disguise? Nonsense duality…phooey. The Lord is…One.

  • http://haikuist.wordpress.com Ikiru

    I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.

    It reminds me of last year when me and my girlfriend started our reading of the classics last year. After finishing Gilgamesh we read some of the books of the Hebrew Bible (we’ll get to the Christian “New” Testament after we finish with the Romans). Ages ago, I was in the very fundamentalist Church of Christ. Later I opted for a more “liberal” Christian theological approach. I’ve been an atheist since about 2001.

    I’ve lived a good deal of my life in the southern US, and some variant of Christianity (usually of the very conservative kind) is practically unavoidable here. But my girlfriend is from New Zealand and her and her family has had practically NO exposure to religion whatsoever.

    The reason I bring this up is that our discussions on religion, and especially our reading of the Bible have been interesting for me because she will still point out things to me, an atheist by deliberate choice, am oblivious to. Her questions on Christianity are enlightening to me because she has no framework of reference, exposing the assumptions that even I make. –then again, I haven’t touched a Bible since 2001 either.

    Anyway, its interesting getting the POV from someone who has had no exposure to religion, who is atheist really only by default, because she’s had hardly any exposure to religion at all. For which I am glad!

  • bob wierdsma

    Sorry, man not God is to blame for the world’s “screwed-up” state. Adam AND Eve had a free choice and they chose wrongly, and so, unfortunately their descendants suffered the consequences. But because LOVED the human race he sent his son to atone for our sins so we would have a loophole to obtain eternal life – with no pain and no suffering. The real superstition lies with the atheist who thinks the world – poof(!) (and should I say “Bang”) – came into existence all by itself with no INTELLIGENT being to make it possible. God laughs at such absurdity with those dumb atheistic “ants” who think they are such smart dumbasses with their stack of worthless scientific degrees.

    • Sunny Day

      Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good and evil, it was impossible for them to choose wrongly.
      It is immoral to punish the descendants for their ancestors crimes.
      Penal Substitution is also immoral.
      What intelligent being designed god?

  • R. N. B.

    God certainly is a psycho with power!:P But your science and government aren’t gonna help either.. We humans are self destructive.. We are monkeys with brains.. Peace and harmony with all creatures is something monkeys can’t do! Sad story.. But hey, “The natural explanation makes far more sense than a supernatural one, and has the advantage of having an abundance of evidence. Why cling to old superstitions and supernatural boogeymen when we have a better natural explanation?” .. as they say I guess, “Truth is harsh!” ;) Cheers!:)

    • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

      You’ve got the first part right about humans being self-destructive such as when Eve ignored God’s instruction not to eat the fruit from ONE certain tree – but she did – and gave some to Adam. And so sin, death and (self) destruction came into the world. God was not blame for their actions – that would be like blaming the victim. And yet he paid the ransom so that those who believe in his only begotten Son can look to a joyous future in paradise. Isn’t his LOVE great?

      • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

        If god really is omniscient, then he knew he was setting them up to fail. He knew what would happen if he put that tree there, and he did it anyway. Your god is one sick fuck! Sets up a couple of humans deliberately to fail, then collectively punishes the entire species for them falling into his trap, then decides to come to Earth and have himself tortured to death as the price of his own forgiveness for his own bullshit trick!

        You seriously believe that bullshit, man?!

        • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

          He simply gave them free will and they chose not to follow his simple instructions. It’s a bit like a boss leaving his employees in charge while he goes off on a sales trip. He is still in control of the business and the employees can control their actions but choose not to do so and so much suffer from the consequences. In the case of God he COULD intervene each time humans make a bad choice but then they would feel they never really have a free will to make their own decisions. However, there will be a time when God stops all our actions and will require an account of what we did during our life here.

          • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

            You’re missing the point: According to your philosophy, humans DON’T have free will, because God always knows what they’re going to do (ergo, they’re following a script that’s already written), and God could change that – but he doesn’t.

          • Len

            The comparison between God and Adam & Eve and a boss and employees doesn’t really work, because the employees can be presumed to know right and wrong. Genesis 3 says that Adam & Eve didn’t know good and evil until after they’d eaten the forbidden fruit.

      • Sunny Day

        It is impossible for God to be a victim.

        • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

          Perhaps. But he did become a “victim” for our sake when he was crucified for our sins. But what man meant for evil God meant for good – our salvation.

          • Sunny Day

            We were talking about the Garden of Eden when you brought up blaming the victim.
            Even when you move the goalposts to thousands of years later it’s still impossible for god to be a victim.

            Now if you want to start a discussion about god is self hating and destructive you might actually have a point.

      • Yoav

        But if god designed humans then any flaws are his fault, if a badly designed bridge collapse we wouldn’t blame the cement we would blame the engineer. If we buy into the all-omni god then we also have to assume that any flaw in the design was intentional which move god’s actions from the negligent to the malevolent.

        • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

          God made man perfectly since he said after he was done: “It is very good!” However, because of Adam and Eve’s decision that all changed and now they had to face the possibility of an imperfect world where the second law of thermodynamics was set into motion where everything would start to deteriorate and slowly die, including all human beings, etc. Can I be any clearer than that?

          • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

            A perfect being is, by definition, incapable of making an imperfect choice; ergo, either God did NOT make them perfect and God is therefore NOT omniscient, or he DID make them perfect, and they made the perfect choice (perfection being defined by God’s will), and God is therefore malevolent.

            • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

              Unless of course that perfect being is made with a free will which many religions may not believe. Being a Calvinist I suppose I might be inclined to support that idea (e.g. predestination) but, really, both sides have free will in this is especially so for the unbeliever since God leaves them to make their own decisions.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              Ahem:

              “You’re missing the point: According to your philosophy, humans DON’T have free will, because God always knows what they’re going to do (ergo, they’re following a script that’s already written), and God could change that – but he doesn’t.”

              I’ll use a new argument when you do.

          • Len

            God made man perfectly since he said after he was done: “It is very good!” [my emphasis]

            Not perfect, just very good.

      • UrsaMinor

        Shorter bob:

        “I can’t hear you! LA LA LA LA LA LA!”

        • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

          I think I might have scared him off. My money says he’s on the ‘phone to his pastor getting ammo for a killer comeback. Bring. It.

        • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

          I’m still “here” but I do have other interests on the go such as my artwork. But, since, somebody decided to answer a comment from many months ago I thought I would do the courtesy of trying to answer your perusings but perhaps you don’t understand what I’m talking about – or don’t want to!

          • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

            I may be back later but right now I have to – as they say – go back to the drawing board – literally!

          • UrsaMinor

            In all seriousness, bob, I think the problem is that you don’t understand what you’re talking about. You literally do not appear to be able to parse your own arguments or grasp their logical and theological implications. This is a serious impediment to a meaningful discussion.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              What Ursa said, basically.

            • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

              I understand perfectly. But you seem to have a set of blinders on which prevents you from understanding my side. There’s an old biblical saying, “The darkness understood it not…” I suppose we’re just not on the same page!

            • Elemenope

              There’s a saying that has been used by pretty much everyone at some point: “People who disagree with us are wrong. You’ll know, cause they’ll disagree!” It is often first used on the kindergarten playground, with the immortal wording: “Nuh-uh!”

              It is almost nauseatingly arrogant to assume that people don’t agree ’cause “they just don’t get it”, as if your argument were so awesome the only way a person could possibly disagree is if they misunderstood it. Double arrogance points for claiming you “understand perfectly”.

              Come, now. Put away the childish arguments and come at this discussion with some maturity.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              Bob, we understand your side perfectly well. This is an argument we’ve had (quite literally) hundreds of times.

              The difficulty with this discussion is that we’re using logic in the commonly accepted meaning of the word, and you’re using Theist Logic™, which allows you to alter the basic rules of logic to suit your argument.

              Because you’re a theist in a theist land, you’re not used to people expecting religion to be subject to exactly the same scrutiny and rules of engagement as any other subject under discussion. In other words, your faith doesn’t get a pass on being thoroughly questioned and debunked just because it’s your faith.

      • R. N. B.

        I read the wonderful argument you have had with the others.. They said a lot of things that I would have told you myself.. but since they did the job for me, I realized you are not here to learn anything new.. I don’t know abt the others, but I certainly know everything you have just said, and like you, I too once believed in all that..
        But, I questioned, (which in your terms is a bad thing because apparently we shouldn’t question God right?), which drove me to understand one basic thing that destroys all possibilities of ever understanding God as an all loving being.. Your God shows more signs of a dictator than the heart of Mother Theresa.. In case you didn’t know, Hell itself was created by him.. so tell me when did the purest of hearts be able to create something so tormenting? doesn’t sound logical does it? true in a sense it was created for Satan, but wouldn’t it be more suitable if he did not banish the so called non believers to damnation for their ignorant actions? Because you and I both know that Satan was an arch angel back in the day and he is more intelligent than we will ever be.. so why do we, who are ignorant, born with the ability to do good and bad both, which is because we’re supposedly blind, have to suffer the same fate as Satan and his demons? Using your own example of the Boss and his Employees, it’s as if the Boss was so upset, (which is a human emotion by the way), fired all of them and then without stopping at that, (not bad enough they lost the job), the Boss also decides to somehow strip them off the luxury of ever working anywhere else either..
        Now it’s really up to you to take it or leave it.. I really don’t care what you do with your life.. as far as I’m concerned I’m done with trying to find shit anymore because the more the knowledge, the more the heartache.. Mankind is a prime example of that.. But think about it if you can when you have the time.. If some of the destructive things God did were done by human leaders, you would have written articles of what a dictator he is and so on.. So why the double standard when it came to God? Is it simply because you’re scared to fight against someone who has the ability to throw you to hell? Or is it just that you have conveniently ignored the fact that God has so many human emotions than you care to realize? As I said think about it.. What you do afterwards is your business.. don’t even reply this.. you won’t change my mind trust me.. I practically lived in a born again church till I was 15 and they’re still trying to get me to come back.. so pls don’t bother.. I just told you all this to help you understand where we’re coming from.. good life to you my friend.. Cheers!:)

  • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

    Elemenope and Custador: It’s obvious we’re not on the same page. Yes, Maybe I don’t understand you exactly what you are grasping at since I can’t see inside your mind. You look at it from the point of an unbeliever and I’m looking at from the point of a believer and neither the twain shall meet! Sorry I can’t help you pal!

    • Sunny Day

      So your beliefs only make sense to someone that already believes.

      Thank you for admitting your beliefs have no real foundation and you are just parroting back what you were told to believe.

    • Elemenope

      You seem to be using “understanding” as a synonym for “agreeing with”. As in: “But you seem to have a set of blinders on which prevents you from understanding my side.” My beef here is not with your belief but with your approach with those who disagree with you.

      Most disagreement on this Earth is not due to people failing to comprehend their opponent’s arguments, but comes simply from people valuing things differently. The objections that Ursa, Custy, and Sunny have patiently laid out for you are with the consequences of the valuations necessary to possess in order to sincerely hold the beliefs that you have presented. I’m just cranky because of your seeming inability to recognize a disagreement as a disagreement, which is demanded as a first step of any respectful discourse; demoting you interlocutors to being benightedly “without understanding” is a demeaning rhetorical trick.

      • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

        I was simply trying to answer your comments since you approached me first and so I gave one. It is up to you all to make up your own mind on whether or not to accept or reject my answers as I saw them.

  • Adam

    I believe that everything here is subject to interpretation, even the entire Bible. Throughout history, people have interpreted Holy texts in numerous different ways – take, for instance, the radical Muslims who believe that they must kill non-believers. This does not, by far, represent the entire Muslim population, but the fact is that they are reading from the exact same book, and interpreting it two completely different ways.

    I’m far from a Biblical scholar, but I am a bit of a philosopher, and the conclusion that I have come to is that almost everything is a matter of interpretation and belief. I have had many arguments with people I know, of all faiths, and the one thing that we come back to is faith. Some people don’t have trouble having faith in a God that, from a scientific standpoint, there is no evidence for, and others feel that they must have physical evidence one way or the other. That’s not to say that one person is wrong or another is right – it just means they have different opinions, and the point is, THAT’S OKAY. From a democratic standpoint, and even a Biblical standpoint, it is okay to disagree! God, if he exists, would not have given us free will if he was going to torture us for eternity for not believing in Him.

    Then, there is the whole question of defining God. God is often defined as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. However, there are paradoxes in this definition – the paradox of omnipotence, for example. I have one very simple question that shows that God, if he exists, can NOT be omnipotent: Can God create a rock that he himself cannot lift? Either way, he obviously is not capable of some things, unless someone can provide a logical answer to this.

    The point is that finding God is a different struggle for everyone, or if they believe there is no God, then so be it. That doesn’t make them an evil, immoral person with no values. And, to the atheists out there, just because somebody believes in God doesn’t mean they’re foolish or scared. Whether you like it or not, religion has brought people together and created a lot of good in the world. Yes, I know some of you will attack this and say “Well, it’s created a lot of problems, too. If there was no religion, the crusades would never have happened. If there was no religion, the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened.” While this is interesting to consider, that doesn’t mean that religion is only a cause of problems. There are plenty of evil people in the world, religious and non-religious, and they will exist one way or the other. Hitler killed 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, but a lot of people tend to forget that he also murder 6 million other people in his death camps, including gypsies, African-Americans, homosexuals… the list goes on.

    So lighten up. It’s not worth killing each other over believing in something that you can’t prove or disprove. No one is going to turn an atheist into a believer, and vice-versa, so why bother trying? As far as I’m concerned, it’s interesting to debate, but trying to actually change each others opinions is not only useless, but downright rude.

    And before anyone asks, I’m a Taoist. No, I’m not Asian. And before you start bashing it, do some research.

    • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

      Thanks. I’m certainly not in favour of taking a person’s life since then the opportunity for salvation would, perhaps, forever be lost – not that an atheist would even acknowledge the idea of an afterlife – but this is from my own perspective. About trying to change the other person’s opinion I wonder then whey even debate the matter or challenge the other person since that would SEEM to indicate that you do want to change people’s opinion closer to their own. Of course a person can do it the rude way – or in a more polite manner (and maybe I haven’t always been perfect.)

      • Mark the Pilgrim

        “About trying to change the other person’s opinion I wonder then whey even debate the matter or challenge the other person since that would SEEM to indicate that you do want to change people’s opinion closer to their own.”

        You do realise, that you came here and posted. Did you expect that no one would offer a rebuttal to your theistic opinion that you posted on an atheist/secularist website?

        • http://facebook/bob.wierdsma bob wierdsma

          Actually, somebody asked me first from a comment I made MONTHS ago. I could have ignored it but I did the courtesy of answering. P.S. They even have atheists on some Christian websites making their views known so it’s not confined to an atheist/secularist website. Shucks.

          • Mark the Pilgrim

            It doesn’t matter whether you came here months ago or even yesterday, the point is that whenever a person puts forward his opinion in a public setting, then they should expect it to be scrutinised, dissected and criticised. And I was actually thinking of bringing up the point about atheists on Christian websites. Whenever an atheist goes to a Christian website and claims God doesn’t exist, what do the Christian members do? A: Some of the members respond with a rebuttal or at least posit their own opinion. I’ve never actually been to a Christian message board, but I’d imagine this to be frequent. It happens everywhere. I wouldn’t expect ideological immunity if I were to go to pro-David Cameron website and criticise his policies. It would be rather arrogant if I were to expect that.

            What were you expecting? Did you expect UF to accept your views espoused in the original post without questioning them? That’s slightly arrogant.

    • Mark the Pilgrim

      Heya Adam,
      I haven’t posted in a while, but I thought I’d address one of your points in particular.

      “So lighten up. It’s not worth killing each other over believing in something that you can’t prove or disprove. No one is going to turn an atheist into a believer, and vice-versa, so why bother trying? As far as I’m concerned, it’s interesting to debate, but trying to actually change each others opinions is not only useless, but downright rude.”

      I’m not making a personal jibe at you when I say this, but I think that point was quite contradictory and far too cliché.
      I say it’s cliché because all too often whenever there is a debate about religion or belief, one person must always enter into the fray and contend that both sides must remain silent or tone down the discourse because “we shouldn’t try to change other people’s beliefs”. First of all, I think that line of thinking suffers from a tendency to dramatise the situation. This is a discussion, and yes, it can be heated, but it really isn’t affecting anyone to the point where someone should intervene.
      Secondly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to change someone’s opinion or belief. It’s the manner by which you attempt to do so that makes it right or wrong. So far, from what you can see, it is the theists who arrive on this site and stumble across an article that they take issue with and decide to air out their opinions (and for the record, I’m not playing a childish, “but it’s them, not us!” card. I, for one, welcome it. And I strongly suspect the other members do as well). There’s no coercion, bullying or trickery to attempt to change another’s opinion here. It’s all fully consensual; the theists who come here should know what they are getting themselves into. So I can’t see why you’d indirectly accuse anyone of being rude.

      About the contradictory nature of the post. I’m not sure I see where you’re coming from. So it’s acceptable to debate but not to change the other person’s point? Whether we admit it or not, most debates are conducted with at least a slight intention to alter someone else’s viewpoint. Even your own post was constructed to bring us to your own viewpoint.

      All ideas must be and will be scrutinised in some form. It doesn’t matter whether they are deeply held beliefs or not. And there’s nothing wrong with attempting to change them.

      • Jabster

        @Mark

        … are so you the spotted the flaw in all the posts that claim, in one form or another, that all aguments are really just opinions and so we are never really be right or wrong and should therefore respect others beliefs and not try to change them. Of course this doesn’t apply to this opinion which is obviulsy totally right and you should always follow it.

  • Malena

    I HATE that free will bullshit! Christians always always always use that as a way to absolve god of any wrong doing.
    For me -the path to Atheism was easy. What kind of god would allow children to be raped and abused? What possible evil has a 5 year old child done to deserve that? Oh yes -man’s free will? Bullshit. God is “god.” If he is sitting up there-watching it happen and does nothing -than exactly. He is either evil, a coward or gasp – does not exist.
    And of course my favorite christians are what I call the “fence sitters” the agnostics. They don’t believe in god but just in case….. lol

  • Sock

    Welcome to the fold, brother!

    I’m surprised that you were so easily convinced by such a simple point, but if that is what worked… then welcome!

    I hope you enjoy the freedom and love to be found on this side of the fence.

  • gamingguy

    What this situation is saying though is that you hold the remote control of your droids, yet still allow them to destroy themselves. You have the ability to reprogram them so they will be happy, yet you let them suffer. You have the ability to give them the gas and oil that they need to continue operating, yet you decide instead to let them shut down. Behavior like that doesn’t demonstrate very much care for your droids.

    Also consider that since you made the droids and you started everything, you are the C.E.O. of the company. You control every aspect of how things are run. Yet you decide not to fire this employee who has blatantly sabotaged your prized equipment and even gone so far as to attempt to force you to take the company public so he can buy all the stock and get you thrown out on the streets. You decide it’s better to keep him around as head of the scrap pile, even though he’s still plotting to destroy you and your company and is actively working to ruin your droids so they all get trashed.

    Your only saving grace is you created a repair bot that was able to fix many of the problems with the damaged droids. However, you decide that it’s actually better if you let some of the reprogrammed droids wreck him so you can repair him as a symbolic gesture. Instead of actually letting him continue his good work, you decide to keep him in your corner office all the time and only let specific wrecked droids come be healed. The other droids you send to your arch-enemy to make him stronger.

    None of this seems to make much sense. Try running a business with this strategy and it’ll go under rather quickly.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X