God: Impotent, Evil, or Imaginary

Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.

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  • Jumbleconchires

    The relativist in me would prefer “indifferent” over imaginary. Especially considering what version of God(s) you’re referring to.

    • http://www.unindoctrinated.com Unindoctrinated

      Changing “Imaginary” to ‘indifferent” would alter the whole tone and change the major point therefore you may as well have simply said “I don’t agree”
      “what version of God(s)” Really? This applies to all gods equally, you are just applying the prejudice of the monotheistic.

      One should assume that Mr Harris was merely paraphrasing Epicurus.

    • http://macsage.com MacSage

      “Indifferent” in this case would be the same as evil. Any god who is indifferent to the pain and suffering of a catastrophe is simply evil.

      • Jesse

        It is only a small group of people that believes that if a person can choose to stop someone from being hurt and chooses not to, that they are being immoral. Most would say that a choice to do nothing means you are taking yourself out of the situation. So therefor, by having god stand-back and watch it does not make him evil, but rather keeps him away from the problem all-together.

        Undoctrination: The quote says god. You uncorrected the original commenter.

        • Sunny Day

          No.
          We are not talking about whats moral for people who are constrained by limitations of power, and perception. But a god who by definition of christian dogma is responsible for everything that happens.

          “Undoctrination: The quote says god. You uncorrected the original commenter.”

          You know there’s more than one version of the christian god right? They all fail the tests and it’s tedious to write all those s’s.

        • JED

          What world do you live in??? If a man were hanging by a cliff and another man was standing close by and did nothing to help him and the cliffhanger fell to his death, 99% of the world would call that man evil. I can’t believe I just read your post. Only someone desperately trying to justify an absentee God could make the argument you just did.

  • Ty

    Epicurus was first.

    • Hurblehoff

      Yeah, but most people in the bible belt probably think Epicurus is some kind of anti-wrinkle cream.

      • Ginny

        “The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue”, asshole.

        • Matt

          Epicurus definitely did not say that. So either this is a hilarious piece of satire or you just proved their point.

  • shiny

    You forgot to list that God might cause catastrophies because of the gays. Pat Robertson seems pretty sure that the gays are why God is evil.

    • Will

      think it could be the people who hate gays for no reason?

  • mikespeir

    Okay, well, let’s see…uh…

  • Rob Jase

    Maybe I’m greedy but why not choose all three rather than just one?

  • http://lonewolfsden.net Lone Wolf

    You forgot one: god(s) might not even know we exist.
    “Hay God, what is the-”
    “What are you?”
    “I’m a human from earth. You created-”
    “Listen homan I am to busy shaping galaxies to deal with little bipeds from arph for wherever your from.”

    • Ty

      Occam’s Razor easily dispatches that particular version of god. He’s just so damned unnecessary to the equation.

      • Elemenope

        There are a few other options, though.

        Incompetent. Insane. Perpetually distracted. Elsewhere. Sleeping. Dead. On a bender. Uncomprehending. Unaware (as Lone Wolf pointed out).

        None of which imply incapacity or evil, necessarily. I mean, yeah, obviously non-existence is by far the best inference given available data; my thing is it’s just not that exhaustive a set of options, and that sort of sucks the punch out of the purported trilemma. It’s great rhetoric but poor philosophy.

        • Ty

          I like the Epicurean formulation better.

          • Elemenope

            It’s a great rejoinder to the God that monotheists tend to want to believe in, for sure, despite the fact that that God isn’t the God that’s even really described by any of their holy books.

            But if they engage in a standard and orderly retreat to the Philosopher’s God position (as they always do in these cases), the Epicurean trilemma will not find blood.

          • Ty

            At which point the god they are defending is functionally meaningless, and I am willing to leave them in their lonely fortress sadly waiting for someone to give a shit.

          • Elemenope

            Fair enough.

            Of course, they only stay in that fortress while under attack. As soon as the attack is over, they come right back to the Jesus/Allah/Yahweh crap like nothing happened.

            • Len

              Except that they’ll be proud that they withstood the attack.

          • http://lonewolfsden.net Lone Wolf

            The Epicurean formulation is better but if (hypothetically) gods exist they might not even know that we exist. We could simply be too small for the gods to perceive us and even if they would care about us (which they probably wouldn’t) they couldn’t save us from catastrophes because they don’t even know of us.

            • Len

              Not exactly omniscient, then.

        • elainek123

          Some some think pres.Putin is a reincarnation of Pope Paul. I pray to god each day to stop 20,000 children dying a day, Priests not to abuse children, not to marry off little girls from the age of 5 to much older men, to stop miners being killed whilst working for wealthy owners, for Mugarbi who tortures people every day to stop. No reply yet, still waiting. Oh so thats why, theres no god is there,why didnt someone tell me.

        • Stutz

          Each one of those is a form of “not omnicient/omnipotent” — either he doesn’t know or he can’t stop it. The point is that he does not have the essential traits of “God” as the word is defined and understood. These do imply incapacity because they disprove his Godly worth. If he does have Godly traits, and catastrophes still happen, then it’s either evil or nonexistence.

        • Jake

          Actually “God” as we refer to “Him” can’t be those things you listed (Incompetent, insane, etc). God, philosophically speaking, is omnipotent and omniscient so it is not possible for him to be incompetent, insane and especially not unaware. For if this supernatural being is unaware (etc) of us he is not all powerful or all knowing and thus it makes no sense to refer to him as god. Trying to philosophize over the extent of power of a non-”omni” god is near impossible.

      • http://lonewolfsden.net Lone Wolf

        The gods dark matter and gravity are too busy battle the eldritch abomination known as dark energy to care what a hairless ape on an significant blue rock thinks.

        • Ty

          This hairless ape is also apathetic about what a god might think.

        • http://lonewolfsden.net Lone Wolf

          That might make a good story. The god of dark energy tries to destroy the universe by ripping it everything apart, the gods of gravity, strong force, matter, etc have to fight the god of dark energy to stop it.

          • Ty

            Who is the POV character?

            • JonJon

              Ford Prefect.

            • http://lonewolfsden.net Lone Wolf

              Don’t know. Perhaps gravity, gravity is trying to hold the universe together and dark energy is pushing it apart.

          • Elemenope

            Who is the POV character?

            The Great Electron!

            (Whoa.)

            • UrsaMinor

              Too seasonal for a general-appeal novel. Everyone knows that the Great Electron only puts in an appearance once a year at Halloween, when it surfs its own wave function around the world and delivers an indeterminate number of calories to deserving boys and girls.

  • Matt

    In the world, there are both Good and Evil elements. Creation is not dualistic. The Evil elements give rise to Good elements, eg. the sun is needed for life to even exist, but it can cause lethally hot weather. A carnivore may eat a herbivore, but then we may eat that carnivore. A storm may cause flood damage, but without precipitation, the Earth would be dry. As part of the world, humans will experience both Good and Evil, and that is just a fact you’re gonna have to deal with.

    • Nzo

      I tend to disagree with you about your yin-yang evil/good B.S., but what point are you trying to make exactly?

      • The celestial

        It’s a question of balance curly!

  • Zephan

    There’s another option not listed here. Maybe he does exist, does care, and can stop disasters, but finds it necessary to allow them for any number of possible reasons?

    • Nzo

      Such as?

      • Zephan

        Well, after I posted that idea I found a page about it that makes pretty good sense to me, see what you think though: http://www.doesgodexist.org/Pamphlets/ProblemOfHumanSuffering.html

        • Jabster

          Yes but what do you think? Just pointing at website and saying this is what I think is neither productive or interesting.

          • Zephan

            That’s true, isn’t it? Note I never said “this is what I think”. A question was asked, and while I had no immediate answer, someone did. So I linked to them.

            • Jabster

              So what do you think then as you did say “that makes pretty good sense to me,” … so why does it make pretty good sense to you?

              Why did, for example, you god allow or even cause the earthquake in Haiti?

            • Zephan

              Why do you make so many assumptions? You assume I believe in God and you assume that I would have any idea why he would have allowed an earthquake. However, if you had read the article I linked to, you probably would have found a christian answer for that, and that was the point.

            • Jabster

              Why the fuck would I read an ‘article’ linked to by some random uninteresting nobody from some shitty same old arguments wank Christian site … either say what you think i.e. contribute something or just STFU. You do understand the idea of having your own ideas don’t you?

            • Zephan

              My bad, I thought this discussion was about “reasonable thoughts on religion, science, and skepticism” as the top of the page says. Not belittling people and swearing at them because they presented an opposing view, be it their own or not. I’ll look elsewhere for intellectual conversation.

            • Sunny Day

              How is handwaiving us to a site, where by your own words you don’t really believe, taking part in a discussion? When people have pressed you for details all you’ve done is dodge and weave and now blame us for your own failures.

            • Zephan

              You’re confused. The fact is that I had nothing of my own to argue, and I never pretended to, thus ‘pressing me for details’ is pointless. The only thing I did was try to provoke intelligent conversation by presenting someone who seems to have decent points against what is being said here. I certainly never blamed anyone for anything either, while I may have been put off by Jabster’s attitude there’s quite a difference. Why are so many people on this site so hostile? I don’t believe it’s ever been this bad when I’ve dealt with the people on the other side of the ‘debate’.

            • Nzo

              The fact is that I had nothing of my own to argue, and I never pretended to

              What do you call this then?

              There’s another option not listed here. Maybe he does exist, does care, and can stop disasters, but finds it necessary to allow them for any number of possible reasons?

              So:

              Why are so many people on this site so hostile?

              Answer: Because you’re displaying troll-like qualities, not contributing anything, hand-waving us to a godbot site, and playing the martyr card…

              I don’t believe it’s ever been this bad when I’ve dealt with the people on the other side of the ‘debate’.

              …and you tried to make it sound like Jabster was wrong when he made the connection that you were also an ignorant godbot. So, more or less, you’re a liar.

            • Zephan

              Just because what I’m contributing isn’t my own doesn’t mean I’m not contributing. I was interested in seeing a discussion about a web page I had found, but was met with only hostility, now including yours. You think just because I recognize that when I talk to christians I’m not insulted every other sentence like I am here it makes me a liar? The only thing I said was that Jabster was making assumptions, because whether I’m a ‘godbot’ is completely irrelevant. In your assumption that I am I have learned that you people must think everything that comes out of a god believer’s mouth is some kind of attack. You really think I’m the one being a troll here? I’m the only one who hasn’t insulted anyone or accused anyone of anything. The direction you guys have taken my attempt to start a debate is really sad…

            • Jabster

              “The direction you guys have taken my attempt to start a debate is really sad…”

              Excellent … so fuck off then and don’t come back. If I wanted the same level of engagement I could get from you, I’d just drink ten pints and rant at the TV.

              p.s. Did I tell you to fuck right off or was it just fuck off?

            • UrsaMinor

              You’re unusually mellow tonight, Jabster. Usually you’re a lot more blunt than this. :)

            • Jabster

              @Ursa

              Sorry .. it’s just that knobs like Zephan piss me right off. I would really rather that he’s a troll otherwise there’s the horrible thought that a few million years of evolution and this is what it’s produced.

              Anyway … and relax, unclench buttocks and release lemon … how are you?

            • UrsaMinor

              Oh, I’m doing quite well. Celebrating my birthday today, got to say goodbye to the diet for 24 hours, started off breakfast with a 500-calorie chocolate covered chocolate donut, and finished it up with a large hot fudge sundae. In between those two bookends I crammed in a delicious cheese sandwich grilled in butter, several tangerines, some tortilla chips, a bowl of hiyashi wakame, four pieces of nigiri sushi, a bowl of miso soup, salad with ginger dressing, a deep-fried chicken cutlet in ponzu sauce, five pieces of spicy tuna roll with lots of ginger and wasabi, two deep-fried gyozu, a bowl of sticky rice, and a large bottle of hot sake. Life is good.

            • Jabster

              Well first things first … happy birthday and all that and second things second …

              “started off breakfast with a 500-calorie chocolate covered chocolate donut, and finished it up with a large hot fudge sundae.”

              Now as an Englishmen bred on sexual innuendo I just had to have a fnaaar, fnaaar at that!

              … but thirdly and lastly – you obviously like Japanese food and myself and my better half went out for a Japanese meal tonight and I tried, for the second time, an unfiltered cold sake and it’s very, very nice (very smooth with a slight sweet taste) but what I don’t understand is that the label says product of the US – what’s that all about?

            • kholdom0790

              “I was interested in seeing a discussion about a web page I had found”

              Discuss it yourself, you lazy sod. Try some basic intellectual decency. We’re not going to do your work for you. If you’ve got nothing, read and think until you *have* something, then come back. Wtf.

            • UrsaMinor

              @Jabster:

              Well, at least I brightened your day, didn’t it?
              But to paraphrase Freud, sometimes a donut is just a donut. Our innuendos are somewhat different over here. E.g., we Yanks will smirk at you (or possibly look aghast, depending on your target) if you say you’re planning to knock someone up.

            • Jabster

              @Ursa

              After Rich ‘I hate the gayz but can’t tell you why’, Zephan was ripe for getting a verbal kicking … I just came across this site, I mean really just how lame is that?

              Anyway, anyway … back to the comedy section – we British are fortune in that we’ve managed to convince large parts of the world that we’re really, really funny as we do knob gags. Who needs an empire we you can do that?

            • Nzo

              Just because what I’m contributing isn’t my own doesn’t mean I’m not contributing.

              It means you’re relying on something/someone else to do your contributing for you. This happens often with people that cannot think for themselves. Unknown screennames hop on here and expect us to read Answersingenesis from top-to-bottom quite often. If you’re not getting the response you wanted, I’d try a different approach.

              I was interested in seeing a discussion about a web page I had found, but was met with only hostility, now including yours.

              You failed to mention anything about this page that other than “makes sense to me”. You’re not even remotely following any forum-discussion etiquette by doing this. You are rightly labeled a ‘troll’ at this point.

              You think just because I recognize that when I talk to christians I’m not insulted every other sentence like I am here it makes me a liar? The only thing I said was that Jabster was making assumptions, because whether I’m a ‘godbot’ is completely irrelevant.

              You’re a liar because you’re pathetically attempting to discredit the astute conclusion Jabster came to when he called you out as a godbot. The fact that you’re a godbot is more relevant than you’d think. If you weren’t a godbot, you’d probably understand exactly why you’re being treated the way you are. You’d also understand that the christians you’re around are, in all probability, would say the same things about you, just not to your face. Christians feel the need to put on a ‘christlike’ front, whatever ‘christlike’ really means, it often is just a fixed smile, and a patronizingly humble presentation overall.

              In your assumption that I am I have learned that you people must think everything that comes out of a god believer’s mouth is some kind of attack.

              Pretty much, but not in the way you’re thinking. Godbots are constantly attacking their own critical thinking, in an attempt to make their god make sense. You’re not getting this response because we think you’re attacking us. You’re getting it because you’re showing us that you’re either ignorant, stupid, or a troll.

              You really think I’m the one being a troll here? I’m the only one who hasn’t insulted anyone or accused anyone of anything. The direction you guys have taken my attempt to start a debate is really sad…

              Someone that recently became an atheist on this very site said about the same thing. The facts are these:

              You value the delivery of the argument over the content. Here, the content is all that matters. Content being ones personal thoughts, ideas, explanations, or questions – NOT those of a trained apologist’s wharrgarbl from a known apologist site. The mere fact that you’re commenting on our attitude instead of responding, with content, to our posts, shows that you have nothing of value to say. You’re here to play your martyr card, appeal to emotion, and hand-wave our questions to another second-hand know-it-all.

              Regardless of what you may believe, there are no ‘learned’ or ‘scholarly’ people with religious answers about god/jesus/allah. Your interpretation is just as good as theirs. Ergo, any thought in your head about your religion is just as valid as that pile of s**t website you sent us to.

        • http://fugodeus.com Nox

          I think it makes no attempt to answer the relevant question, and was in fact written specifically to create the illusion that the question had been answered while intentionally side-stepping it.

          I think the core rationalization of this article only works if you’re positing a god who does not intervene in the universe. Such a god if it existed, could hardly be called good or evil as we would have no data on which to base such an assessment. Once you try to apply it to any conception of god which does intervene in the universe (particularly one who is said to be omnipotent and benevolent) as Clayton does in this article (also see this article, and this one, where the same author explicitly argues that god does exactly that) (that second link is pretty definitive proof against the honesty of the author, but I’m more immediately concerned with his argument here), it falls apart.

          If there is a god who controls every aspect of the universe, and interferes as he sees fit, then he would of course bear some responsibility for how that universe turns out. There’s not really any way around that. Clayton recognizes this as clearly as Epicurus did. There is no real answer for this question unless you are willing to consider impotent, evil or imaginary (or just doesn’t give a f*ck) as possible traits of god. For obvious reasons most christians are unable or unwilling to consider these possibilities, and yet christendom (or at least the industry of christian apologetics) requires at least the appearance that this question has already been answered (otherwise the god they are arguing for might look like kind of a dick).

          Clayton attempts to cover this gaping plot hole by claiming that human suffering is caused by human foolishness (to be fair, most of it is, but not in the way he intends us to believe) (he doesn’t mention this explicitly here but he’s pretty obviously talking about the original sin story). That god gave us a perfect world, and a perfect way of living, but we f*cked it up. And that it was because we turned from god’s plan that things went badly (and we’re back to impotent).

          He attempts to draw a parallel between disobeying god’s commandments and building one’s house on a volcano, but makes no attempt to establish that scripture is a good source of advice (it isn’t) or explain away the countless times that suffering has been directly caused by people following god’s commandments. It assumes (and asks the reader to assume) that if every one followed the bible, none of these problems would exist. This is a profoundly naïve worldview (I will however credit the author for his endorsement of empathy. If more christians believed in the golden rule some of those problems would go away).

          And then (in the eighth paragraph).It goes from harmless foolishness, to foolishness that could only possibly cause suffering, when he attempts to address the question of innocent people whose suffering is caused by the actions of others.

          “But on the other hand I opened this discussion by reading to you a passage from the ninth chapter of John, which describes a situation that does not fall in this category. Jesus was passing by, the Bible tells us in John 9:1–3, and He saw a man who was blind from his birth, born without sight. Now His disciples asked Him the typical question. They said, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” It was their conviction that the problems that the man had were a result of man’s sin, which in some cases is correct. But notice what Jesus said in the third verse: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Jesus said it was not because this man sinned or not even because his parents sinned that he was born blind. It was not sin that did it. It was not that this man abused his body; it was not that this man abused his environment; it was not that this man failed to heed the warnings of his environment. Jesus said it was that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

          Okay, this one actually comes from the new testament rather than John Clayton, but it is one of the most poisonous ideas man has yet devised. Believing that the suffering of ourselves or our fellow humans is actually a good thing, because god might be glorified through it (or as this view is more commonly expressed, that our souls might be saved) as truly akin to building your house on a volcano.

          And why do christian apologists actually think this is an answer to the problem of human suffering? If god is intentionally letting (or causing) people to suffer so that he will look better, that would actually make god more responsible for human suffering, not less.

          • Zephan

            Glad to see someone making good points against the page rather than refusing to read it and freaking out at me. While everything you say is very thought provoking to me, there is another thing I’d like to hear someone argue against. If the world was perfect, and there was no suffering or disasters, would anyone believe in God then? Wouldn’t everyone simply say “Why should there be a god? Everything’s fine without one.”?

            Also, when you say suffering was caused directly by people following the commandments, could you give a specific example? Especially if you have one where the people that were following the commandments were the ones suffering.

            • Jabster

              You really are a fucking knob aren’t you Zepher … someone actually goes to the effort of replying to you and you basically reply with – whatever here’s another question. What don’t you try and engage with people here or else go and play and the traffic?

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              Sorry about Jabster. He can be a bit abrasive, but what he does is unfortunately necessary (although perhaps more enthusiastically dickish than is strictly necessary) so that we can have that more reasonable discussion.

              You see, it is a pretty common occurrence around here that someone appears at our door to proclaim that atheism is false for reasons they are unable or unwilling to say but here’s this website that pretends to explain it. It is generally an indication that the person in question does not wish to have an honest conversation (or that they haven’t really thought about what they’re saying). With the sheer volume of these incidents I’m sure you can understand why he might be a bit impatient. Still his manners do not speak for all of us. If you are in fact here to have a serious discussion, that is why I am here as well, so by all means, let’s do that.

              But if we could just put aside the “fuck off and play in traffic” bit for a moment, Jabster’s initial question is an important one, and one I would have to put to you as well.

              I’m also a little unclear on what point (if any) you were intending to make with your initial statement. If we could clarify that I think it will lead to a more fruitful discussion. And while I don’t actually speak for others here, I predict you’ll see a sharp decrease in the verbal abuse if you can answer the original question.

              So I will answer your two questions (no guarantee that the answer is what you’re looking for), and in exchange I would like you to answer Nzo’s one question (which I think is a perfectly fair request).

              And I’m not asking you to explain all of god’s unfathomable reasons or anything like that. Just your reason for believing “does exist, does care, and can stop disasters, but finds it necessary to allow them” is a viable option is all I’m looking for here.

              Of course you did not technically say you believe that, but as our knowledge of your actual views is limited to what you have said here (and which words from others you yourself have chosen to represent your views here) it is a rather straightforward conclusion.

              Sam Harris: “Either god can do nothing to stop catastrophes, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either: impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick and choose wisely.”
              Zephlan: “There’s another option not listed here. Maybe he does exist, does care, and can stop disasters, but finds it necessary to allow them for any number of possible reasons?”
              Nzo : “Such as?”
              Zephlan: “Here’s this website that explains it.”

              Do you see the conclusion that pretty much anyone reading this would logically come to?

              If you are saying that the arguments in the article you linked are a reasonable defense against the Epicurean dilemma, you are wrong (“god has his reasons” falls under “doesn’t care to”, see “evil”).

              If you are not saying that, it might remove some of this confusion if you could not say that just a little more clearly.

              What “possible reasons” were you referring to when you said “Maybe he does exist, does care, and can stop disasters, but finds it necessary to allow them for any number of possible reasons?” I realize you probably meant that statement in the abstract sense, but if there are not “possible reasons” then the statement is, in a less abstract sense, false.

              The problem of human suffering is not something to be lightly dismissed. It is a legitimately damning problem against the christian concept of god. And if you wish to take issue with it, then you should actually do so, say what you think the issue is.

              Priests and theologians have always used appeal to “divine mystery” or “god’s greater plan” to sweep this question under the rug. Saying he could possibly have some reason doesn’t actually tell us anything. Yes it’s a possibility. Lots of stuff is a fucking possibility. But that in itself means nothing. Not all possibilities are equal.

              Let’s say we grant that god exists (a proposition for which there is no reliable evidence), and then further grant that it is the christian version of god (a proposition which is basically impossible), and then further grant that he has some big intricate plan for the Universe (at this point why the fuck not), we are still left with the question, “are god’s reasons good reasons?”.

              The word “god” tends to imply “an all knowing, all powerful creator who controls everything and generally wants what’s best for his creation”. Just as the word “catastrophes” implies “those senseless fuckups of nature that kill and maim countless innocent people”. If you understand that part, it should be fairly obvious to you why Epicurus still wins.

              If it is your intention to get god off the hook, you will need to bring something more substantive than maybe he had some possible reason.

              If you are just trying to stimulate discussion, that’s excellent, and I’ve no wish to discourage you. But you should say so clearly as that hypothetical discussion is a slightly different one than if you are actually endorsing these ideas yourself.

              If (as I think is probably the case) you are just a bit unsure of what your own views actually are, and are hoping to see the two sides make their case so you can determine which position is stronger, that is something to be encouraged as well (though I would point out that many such debates have already occurred and some of them can be found right here on the internet). And I don’t mind giving you a few arguments against christianity (or links to websites containing those arguments) if that’s what you’re looking for.

              But first your two questions…(as I said, these are probably not the answers you are looking for, but they are the actual answers to the questions you decided to ask).

              “If the world was perfect, and there was no suffering or disasters, would anyone believe in God then? Wouldn’t everyone simply say “Why should there be a god? Everything’s fine without one.”?”

              The problem of human suffering is one good reason to disbelieve a particular view of god (the one held by most people who believe in god). For most people who do not believe in god, the main reason not to believe in god is the lack of evidence for his existence. It has nothing to do with any assessment of how good he is or how much unnecessary suffering there is in the world. “Does god exist” is a different question than “is god good”.

              Perhaps I could more meaningfully address your question if you were to clarify whether god is any more apparent in this hypothetical universe than in ours (it should also be taken into account that in almost every hypothetical universe there will be some people who do believe in god).

              “When you say suffering was caused directly by people following the commandments, could you give a specific example? Especially if you have one where the people that were following the commandments were the ones suffering.”

              Admittedly, most of my best examples would be of people inflicting suffering on others by following god’s commandments. But it goes both ways pretty easily. When god commands things that are directly detrimental to the well-being of the commandment follower, you can expect to see people suffering for their faith.

            • JonJon

              Oh Nox, I missed you…

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              I missed you too JonJon.

            • Len

              If the world was perfect, and there was no suffering or disasters, would anyone believe in God then? Wouldn’t everyone simply say “Why should there be a god? Everything’s fine without one.”?

              There may be more chance that people believe in a good / perfect god in this situation than in the real world. After all, he (/she/it) made – and maintains – everything perfectly, just like him (/her/it).

            • blotonthelandscape

              To take a stab at answering your question “would people believe in a God if he created a perfect universe?”, it contains an implicit assumption that the only way god can reveal himself reliably is via contrasting his actions with some external variable. I fail to see how anyone could defend this assumption, especially if they believed god to be omnipotent.

              If god created a perfect universe, he would simply have to reveal himself in some way that doesn’t require people to suffer beforehand.

              Another approach to this is to say that, if a good god was incapable of revealing himself without also inflicting suffering, then said god would probably be content to remain invisible and instead end suffering. After all, so what if people don’t believe in you, if you have been able reduce or even end suffering by remaining hidden?

    • http://facebook.com joharrah

      God has its own purpose…. you don’t have the right to ask him……..you’re just a CREATION and he is the CREATOR…… there are things that only faith can answer…..

      • Troutbane

        So, Evil then? Fair enough.
        Imagine you wrote some AI computer programs. These programs can feel pain and think. Then you give them some basic rules and just start watching. One of these rules is they must worship you just because. You let time (and generations) pass and then when they start asking questions about the nature of the programmer, instead of answering those questions, you start smiting them for lack of faith (but, please note, you only smite them in a way that no one else can tell if the smiting is from you or a software bug)
        That’s some evil douche-move level behavior. Actually, sounds like a psychopath.

      • Kodie

        So your faith answered which questions you weren’t allowed to ask in the first place? I think you are in favor of not using your brain. It’s like, this perfectly good brain “our creator” made for us but we’re not allowed to use it. That’s the worst of all! What answers does faith answer to that question? Don’t worry, I got permission.

  • Nzo

    WOW tags got messed up – sorry, could i get a srvr munkeh on that? Also, I had to try and post that twice because apparently I was posting too fast – I was over my limit of 3 posts in 12 hours ’till that second time trying to post it! (something is terribly wrong!)

    • vorjack

      Fixed.

      Sorry about the “posting too fast” thing. We’re still getting flooded with spam.

      • Nzo

        Thanks for the fix!

        It’s all gravy, I know that evil god of the bible attacks us atheists because he hates our freedom. Keep fighting the good fight brother!

  • anti_supernaturalist

    It’s the institutions, stupid.

    “Gods” are irrelevant because all gods are dead. With “gods” gone, religions appear as they have always been: institutions seeking illegitimate political (secular) power based on wholly irrational ideological claims.

    • To argue with xians indulges them with pointless, meaningless discourse about “gods”. Theology is a diversionary waste of time. Theology is the subject without an object. It fifth-rate fan fiction.

    Instead religious institutions must be attacked as de facto centers of anti-democratic ideology which deserves no more respect than any other hate-filled, racist, enemy of the Open Society. (Their intolerance cannot be tolerated in our secular state. They have no place in making public policy.)

    • The irrelevance of the existence (or non-existence) of some god to political legitimacy in an Open Society was carefully engineered by James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution.

    The US Constitution guarantees a radical right which millions of Americans would deny to all of us — the right of freedom of conscience. The right to go to Hell in our own way. Would you really want to serve the god-proxies of that sadistic “Father” worshiped by the big-3 Monster Theisms? (“In heaven, the best people are missing” — Nietzsche.)

    • Even should some “god” exist, as claimed by xianity, or by theisms, or by deism, we have the sovereign right to reject any claim that “It” must be acknowledged, accepted, or worshiped.

    Let the xian politico-religious ideologues understand that “the sleep of reason breeds monsters”. Xians themselves.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  • Paul

    I think abusing Zephan is moronic as especially as he sounds like a doubter and wanted a considered opinion on the religious site he mentioned.
    I visited the site and there is a lot of wind but no substance as to why gods allow misery.In fact the author seems as confused as most “thinking” theists and I suspect if he had a few of us atheists chatting to him he would be released from the burden of religion.

    • Nzo

      If he’s too lazy/stupid to post something in his own words, he’s probably too lazy to deserve respectful discourse.

      “Well, after I posted that idea I found a page about it that makes pretty good sense to me”

      He posted an “idea”, then chose to have a website explain it for him, and expects us to take the time to read something from “doesgodexist.org”. Right – that’s what I want to do in my discussions… let’s just have everyone else think for us! Non-stop links to other webpages as arguments!

      He’s more than welcome in the fundieclub imo.

    • Jabster

      … and I think complaining that abusing Zephan is moronic as ‘we’ should have shown him the error of his ways when the person doing the complaining didn’t make any effort to show him the error of his ways is twatonic – what say you?

      p.s. Have a look how Zephan’s reply to Nzo if you really want to see moronic ..

  • Derek

    Your Question is answered in Genesis when man Chose Sin.

    • Sunny Day

      I see you are taking the, “God is Evil.” option. Bold Choice.

      • Derek

        how do you get “god is evil” ? That is clearly a sign of a un-educated athesist . If you comprehend what you read out of Genesis you understand man had a choice to have a perfect world or a sinful world (witch includes destruction).

        • Nzo

          If you comprehend what you read out of Genesis, you have an evil, stupid, non-omnipotent, strangely bronze-age-human-like, arrogant ass of a ‘god’.

        • kholdom0790

          God’s omniscient… means he knew what was going to happen and let it happen anyway. So loving.

          Great how you call others “un-educated” while being quite unable to spell or construct a good sentence.

        • Daniel Florien

          Why is it when people call others “uneducated,” they sound like they’re in 2nd grade? Though, to be honest, I’m pretty sure I knew the difference between “which” and “witch” in 2nd grade.

    • LRA

      Ummm Derek. Have you actually read Genesis? Eve was deceived by the serpent into eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

      That’s not a choice. That’s trickery.

      Try again.

      • Chris

        It wouldn’t have made a spit of difference if Eve eat of that fruit or not. When you’re dealing with the kind of personality that delight in leaving temptations out in the open, you know he’ll get you eventually.

        Also hi people, from stumbleupon.

        • Nzo

          Hi Chris! Welcome to UF. Hope you like it here!

        • LRA

          Tru dat.

          And welcome!

  • StupidAnts!

    he is maybe trying cure earth from a disease called humans. just look at earth on space pictures, looks like cancer to me. city and roads polluting nature, genocide again animal spices, trying to punch holes in the ozone layer. Why should he save us? we are destroying his work!

    • Stutz

      Hey, we’re just another species. How are our constructions any different than a beaver’s dam? We both evolved on this planet and we both build things. Who’s to say that one is natural and one is not? I submit that natural/unnatural is a distinction without content.

      • blotonthelandscape

        This, with the caveat that, given that we can envision a more sustainable way of building than beavers or our ancestors, we do have a responsibility to at least try.

        Also, as a further response to SA! god has only himself to blame. If he is moral, then he he cannot use his incompetence at creating a master species as an excuse to destroy us.

    • Yoav

      If he existed then we are part of his work and if we fukc things up it’s due to his design. If he care about the environment why doesn’t he just pop over for a few minutes with the blueprints for a clean renewable energy source, a molecular fabricator that will allow the generation of unlimited food and the designs for spaceships that will allow us to spread into the rest of the solar system and the universe so we don’t need to build more cities and road to deal with an increasing population?

  • God!

    God! here. I’m ready to answer your question. Impotent, Evil or Imaginary? To be honest I don’t really give a flying spaghetti monster about your troubles. Does that make me evil or indifferent? I wouldn’t lift a finger if I had one. Does that make me indifferent of imaginary? Really fellas, I’m trying to be all things to all people. Its the least that I can do. Does that make me lazy? I get a kick out of all this time you spend debating the nonexistant. If I existed I sure woulda made something better than you putzes. Because only a putz could have imagined a god like me. Seriously. Get yourself a real god or get a life. Which reminds me. William Shatner would make a great god. Worship Will! You putzes.

    • LRA

      “I get a kick out of all this time you spend debating the nonexistant. ”

      What a theistic thing to say… hmmm.

      Well, I spend time debating the nonexistent because I’m sick and f*cking tired of the Religious Right in this country (the US) trying to tell me what to do with my life. I debate because I want people to realize how their beliefs affect others. I debate because sometimes, just sometimes, someone comes around and rejects the silliness.

      But hey! Keep being sarcastic and apathetic because that’s just awesome.

      • blotonthelandscape

        I love how much effort he put into coming here and telling us we’re stupid to argue about something he doesn’t care about.

        For what it’s worth though, I also get a kick out of these debates and conversations. Which is why I engage in them in the first place. Oi vey!

    • kholdom0790

      God would know how to spell non-existent.

  • Melissa Retallick

    Sorry I can’t look at this and not say anything. God does exist and everything happens for a reason. At the moment you dont know why but there is always a reason. You can honestly tell me that there is no god? Then look at the mountains, and the geogrous oceans and everything that we have, and every day that we are living. Then say that!

    • Melody

      Do you really think a moronic, anti-intellectual statement like this will fly on a highly intellectual site like this? If so, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. I honestly never thought I’d see such a naive comment here, even with all the trolls I’ve seen here.

    • Sunny Day

      You can honestly tell me that there is no god? Then look at the mountains, and the geogrous oceans and everything that we have, and every day that we are living. Then say that!

      So you worship mother nature? funny I thought you were a christian.

  • bridget

    we were put on this earth for many reasons. one, to serve God, another, though, to make it through. if God kept all bad things from happening, there really would be no point in life, because we would be living in a utopia. prayer will get you through!

    • Melody

      Ditto what I said to Melissa. Are you two 15 years old or something? That’s the kind of naivete I had when I was that age. Grow up and educate yourselves.

    • Sunny Day

      “one, to serve God, “

      Why does god need a starship?

      “God kept all bad things from happening, there really would be no point in life, because we would be living in a utopia”

      So you’re saying God has limitations and was incapable of giving someone purpose and can’t have made a world without bad things in it

      Why would you worship something so weak?

      “prayer will get you through!”

      Do you have any evidence that prayer accomplishes anything other than a brief impression that you’ve actually done something to have helped without taking any real action?

    • Yoav

      Why would an all powerful being need to be served, and why is making it hard beneficial for it? The only thing I can see god getting out of such a setup is satisfying some sort of sadistic joy by seeing people suffer while they grovel in front of him while he loughs at their pain. And if you didn’t praised is a*sholeness enough during your short and painful life he will then throw you into a lake of fire to be tortured for eternity.

  • Melissa Retallick

    I’m sorry I cant look at this and not say anything. even though bad things do happen they happen for a reason and we may not know we why, but thats what what makes us stronger. But you can honestly say that there is no God, you can look at the mountains and the geogrous oceans its amazing that we are just living each day because of God and you can say that there is no God. Unbelievable.

    • Nzo

      I’m sorry I cant look at this and not say anything. even though bad things do happen they happen for a reason and we may not know we why, but thats what what makes us stronger. But you can honestly say that there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster, you can look at the mountains and the geogrous oceans its amazing that we are just living each day because of the FSM and you can say that there is no FSM. Unbelievable.

      ^fixed. Also, Jupiter, Ra, Baal, Leprechauns, Unicorns, Milk Jug.

  • Beach

    It is definetly easy to point out negatives. It is also easy to pose a question like that to prove your point. It is easy to look at all the bad in the world. In realty there is just as much good as bad in this world. One could also look at it this way- Why would God give us a beautiful world to live on with all it’s natural resources, or the ability to pro-create, or the scientist who cure diseases that kill millions? God is either generous, loving, or forgiving. You choose. Choose wisely.

    • Nzo

      D) God does not exist

    • Sunny Day

      “In realty there is just as much good as bad in this world”

      Glad to see you admit that your god if it exists, isn’t a good one.

    • Len

      God is either generous, loving, or forgiving. You choose. Choose wisely.

      So your god is not generous and loving. Or generous and forgiving. Or even loving and forgiving. Then why bother?

      • trj

        Heh, I like how that patronizing comment just blew up in Beach’s face.

  • Emily

    To the quote says Sam Harris at the bottom. No wonder atheists have problems, by the quotes they don’t know the secrets of the kingdom of GOD, he has already done, and abundantly provided all HE is going too. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for the EVIDENCE of things not seen. I John 1:1 in the beginning was the WORD: the WORD was with God and the WORD was God. HE was with God in the beginning. And so on … You either already want your mind set or you can check it foryourselves. Seed time and harvest. The seed must have time to die, just as the seed that was planted instead of me, my LORD Jesus, the Word

    • Nzo

      Are you a relative of John C?

      • John C

        Yes. Do we not all have One Father? (Mal 2:10).

        • Nzo

          I have no idea why I continually tee you up for such things.

    • trj

      A true tour de force of Christian platitudes.

  • Jason

    If you are so convinced God can’t exist please tell us why you feel the need to confront the rest of us with this brainstorm! I do not believe in a deer with a glowing nose, and heading a pack of sled pulling, magic deer. Yet I’m not posting anything about that.
    I say that you are delusional to be arguing against something you say doesn’t exist, (no offence) or you are arguing against something inside yourself that says God IS.
    My opinion on God cannot make or break this conversation. It will not make your decision easy either. If you feel this need to scrutinize the believers you may want to find out why.
    And to presume that you can decide that God is evil, or passive, or unable to act, are all based on the idea that you know ALL the facts. I will say for sure that you are not God and have no right to make that argument.
    Thanks for the thoughts!

    • Yoav

      If people weren’t trying to use god as a justification for legislating their bigotry and for denying others their equal rights,or as justification for killing those who don’t believe their particular version of god then we could treat it like we do other fairy tales. But as long as believers try to shove their god into my life this argument will remain an important one.

    • Custador

      Yoav summed it up. YOU lot are trying to force YOUR mythology into OUR lives. The second you stop doing that, the second you stop being corrupt, spoiled, entitled brats about your God, the second you don’t automatically expect special treatment and privilege because you believe in a particular brand of imaginary sky-daddy, then not a single fuck will be given by atheists about religion.

      We confront you because if we don’t you take serious advantage of the rest of us. In fact, you take serious advantage of the rest of us anyway – We confront you because you need to stop doing it.

    • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

      “I do not believe in a deer with a glowing nose, and heading a pack of sled pulling, magic deer”

      Why not?

      Honest question.

  • Jason

    P.s.what about all the bad things that don’t happen? I E, if your earthquakes, floods,… are proof that God can not exist then the fact that their is order should bring us to the conclusion that God in some form has to exist.
    Self defeating arguments are easy to pretend are sound if you attack what you are unwilling to explore! Your bitterness sheds light on your fear of truth. Why should you reason something you don’t care about. What if God exists and your pain could be healed?

    • Nzo

      God doesn’t heal amputees.

      God is not the conclusion where order is found, nor is he the conclusion where disorder is found.

      Arguments without substance are easy to dismiss without substance.

      The bitterness you mention is nothing but a projection of your own bitterness towards those that would attack your justification for your hatred.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      No one is saying that no god can possibly exist. If that’s what you got out of “impotent, evil, or imaginary” then you didn’t read the whole thing.

      The point of this particular argument is not that god could not exist, but that if god does exist, he’s apparently kind of a dick.

    • Custador

      Sorry, just to clarify, where is there “order” in nature? I hear Christians say that a lot, but if you’re going to tread in science’s stomping grounds, do it right: Define your terms. What do you mean by “order”, and where in nature do you claim it exists?

  • Jabster

    “Why should you reason something you don’t care about.”

    Well I think if you had bothered to read Yoav’s response to you then you may understand but to put it in even more simple terms … if it was decided that where you life should be governed by Sharia law what would your reaction be?

  • Jason

    Smh! If you could see that Gods commandments are not to hurt you but to keep you safe! Like the fact that loving parents don’t let young kids play in the road. If they sneak around and do anyway is it the parents fault they get run over?
    Should you decide what is good or bad? What about Hitler? What about the FEW that think right is killing you the in believer? SELF DEFEATING! If everyones opinion is equal then none matter because they are defeating one another. Thus the anarchy that you see inside this world that is returning us to a barbaric society?
    You my friend are no more God than I am. Yet you would like to make the rules that you cannot even think through!

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      The problem is that god’s commandments are demonstrably harmful. For example, you mentioned Hitler, a man who described his actions thusly “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord”.

      So now that the thread is already godwinned, would you like to explain how Hitler’s adherence to christian principles was more beneficial than the humanism you both oppose?

    • Jabster

      “Smh! If you could see that Gods commandments are not to hurt you but to keep you safe! Like the fact that loving parents don’t let young kids play in the road. If they sneak around and do anyway is it the parents fault they get run over?”

      … and someone who believes in Sharia law would pretty much say exactly the same thing so really … what is your point?

      Of course you haven’t actually addressed the question at hand as to what your reaction would – you don’t believe in the god of Islam do you so why would you be ‘angry’ at such a concept?

  • Jason

    God is not nearly as scary to me as the thought of you being in charge. Or me for that matter! And for the record I once was one of you, then I decided to research the topic and actually ask the question apart from my preconceived ideas. Just because SOME people are not loving and don’t do it right is not a argument that the rest of us want to hurt you!

    • Bill

      “Just because SOME people are not loving and don’t do it right is not a argument that the rest of us want to hurt you!”

      Straw man is mad of straw.

    • trj

      No, you don’t want to hurt us. You only want what’s best for us. That’s why you interfere in our private lives, our education standards, our health sector, our political processes, our legal system.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      “Just because SOME people are not loving and don’t do it right is not a argument that the rest of us want to hurt you!”

      You were the one who wanted to talk about Hitler. I’m not comparing all Christians to Nazis, but you also don’t get to pawn off the atrocities of the pope’s errand boy on atheism.

      “And for the record I once was one of you.”

      Can we maybe define “one of you” a little more clearly? What you’re saying is you were an atheist?

      “I decided to research the topic and actually ask the question apart from my preconceived ideas.”

      What did you research? What convinced you of the truth of these previously unconceived ideas? Saying you researched a topic hardly tells us anything. What did you find? Why does it support your position? Why should anyone else here conclude that it supports the position you are trying to convince them of?

      Anyone can claim that there is some unspecified evidence out there for their claim that would be known if we knew more. Those of us who have done the research know that in this case, no evidence will be forthcoming.

    • Sunny Day

      And for the record I once was one of you

      Well then assuming you are not another liar for jesus, it should be simple for you to lay out the logical conculsions of your “research” that lead you to your reasoned belief in god.

    • Custador

      Why can’t fundie trolls see the fucking “reply” button? Seriously, why?

    • Custador

      YOU were an atheist? Okay then, let’s hear it. Let’s hear the standard-issue Christian fake backstory you made up for pew-cred. Let’s hear about you describing yourself in terms that you think apply to atheists, and attribute acts to your past that you think atheists would identify with.

      I have £10 that says obvious fiction will be obvious.

  • Jason

    A Christian who acts in opposition to Christian values, who cannot believe scripture, is not a Christian! Jesus was a Jew, who said don’t even hate much less murder thousands of his own people! No sir, regardless of what you or Hitler said he did not trust the teachings of Christ! By the way that is the one prerequisite of being a Christian. The argument prover that you are ignorant of fact, or simply trying to win an argument with whatever motive!

    • Custador

      No True Scotsman, check.

  • Jason

    Straw man is mad of straw.

    In that case you are putting yourself in the pot with the god less masses that murder, rape, and molest children! Self defeating! Face it the horrible things people do in gods name are no more Gods work than if I killed a man with your gun and signed your name to it!

    • Bill

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

      “Face it the horrible things people do in gods name are no more Gods work than if I killed a man with your gun and signed your name to it!”

      Well I’ll give you this much, they aren’t god’s work. Of course I suspect we have very different reasons for believing they aren’t god’s work. But why argue over the details?

    • Bill

      Also, please us the nesting feature for comments. It makes it a lot easier to follow the conversation.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      Masses do often result in the rape of children. Not sure how you can blame that on godlessness though.

      You seem to be under the impression that people here are blaming god for the actions of humans. We are not. Your god was made up by humans to avoid having to take responsibility for themselves. That is the problem. Its hard to stay mad at a god that doesn’t exist.

      My point that you still seem to be missing is that “christian values” are not helpful, moral, or wise. And just assuming christian values would fix everything is dangerously naive. We’ve tried that. You remember the Dark Ages. Christian values already had a chance to show us what kind of world they would create (and they did show us).

      Those of us who have read the bible know that god (the same god who is Jesus later in the book) spends much of the old testament commanding genocide. Note, not allowing genocide, not endorsing genocide. Straight up commanding genocide.

      So again, I’m not comparing all christians to nazis (and you would do well to stop saying all atheists are nazis or rapists), but to say that Hitler was acting in a way that is inconsistent with scripture or christian values is simply not true.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      The problem with christian values is not what some christians do. The problem is with the values themselves.

      We get that not all christians are bad people. But you are all promoting a bad idea. A bad idea that we already know is untrue, and a bad idea that has already done immeasurable harm to humanity.

  • Jason

    I say that if you want to live in a country that values the Democratic law system then you value my opinion! If not move! If you have opinion I can have one also. I don’t want to rule you like you stereotype me to. If you choose to self destruct it is your business! But don’t be hypocritical and tell me what to teach my children! If you have rights so should I?

    • Jabster

      No one is claiming you don’t have a right to an opinion although it does not of course follow that all opinion are equal. The subject a hand was why are people ‘angry’ at something that they don’t believe in. I’ll repeat the important part again for you …

      “If people weren’t trying to use god as a justification for legislating their bigotry and for denying others their equal rights,or as justification for killing those who don’t believe their particular version of god then we could treat it like we do other fairy tales. But as long as believers try to shove their god into my life this argument will remain an important one.”

      Now if you truly do wish for belief to be a private affair then I really don’t believe you will find many who post here who would disagree with, but he fact remains that the reality is that there are a number of believers who do not hold this view point.

  • Bill

    “I say that if you want to live in a country that values the Democratic law system then you value my opinion!”

    Is this a two way street? Do you have to value everyone else’s opinion too?

    Because this isn’t really how freedom of speech works. You have the right to your opinion, but I have absolutely no obligation to “value” it. As a matter of fact, I have a right to ridicule it and call it out for the utter bullshit it is.

    “But don’t be hypocritical and tell me what to teach my children!”

    Look, I know Xians love the who persecution complex thing, but nobody here has come close to telling you what to teach your kids.

    • Sunny Day

      Well schools tend to teach that bigotry is wrong. When the children realize that such hate is wrong they tend to wonder what else they’ve been taught is wrong.

  • Jason

    “What did you research? What convinced you of the truth of these previously unconceived ideas?”

    The fact that there is enough possible information in one strand of human DNA that if it were written out it could span the equator over three times. The fact that atheist never argue their proof that God doesn’t exist, yet always expect a detailed reason for your faith. But because when I could not change my life from the path that was destroying me He(God) did! The impossible in my book! What do you have to loose? The rage and bitterness?

    • Jabster

      … and again all claims that could lead to belief in a different god from yours – so what’s so special about the god you believe in?

      p.s. Please try to use the reply button.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      “The fact that atheist never argue their proof that God doesn’t exist”

      What atheists where? We love to argue, and most of us are smart enough to know you can’t ever prove that there can’t ever be any god. But are any actual atheists anywhere saying there can’t ever be any god?

      A variety of deities have been proposed by man, and while there is no actual evidence for any of them, some are more likely than others. (Not speaking for other atheists here)There are some gods I’d give as much as a 49% chance of existing (since the deists say their god doesn’t intervene in the Universe, it would be silly to blame him for earthquakes).

      But the god in the bible? The god of christianity? I’ll be happy to prove to you that he doesn’t exist. And that in addition to not existing he is quite possibly the worst nonexistent thing you could choose to follow.

      But since my first proof comes from Genesis, and I have no idea how literally you take Genesis, I’d just like to ask first what your view on the bible is. I won’t ask you to give a detailed reason for your faith (yet), just whether you consider the bible to be the word of god and whether you believe your answer applies to the whole book.

      As there are actual scientists here, and I am not one, I’ll refrain from commenting on the DNA thing too much, but what I do know of DNA suggests that if the “possible information” in a strand of DNA was a real number, it would be infinite.

      • Jabster

        “As there are actual scientists here, and I am not one, I’ll refrain from commenting on the DNA thing too much, …”

        Well even being a non-scientist I can tell you that this sentence can stretch as far as you like if you make characters big enough so the whole three times around the equator is a nice sound bite but unfortunately meaningless.

        • UrsaMinor

          You’d have to specify both the typeface and the font size. :)

          But I fail to completely fail to comprehend the original point behind the non-argument “DNA strands are very long, therefore God”.

          • UrsaMinor

            D’oh! I hate having no edit button.

            That’s “But I completely fail to comprehend…”

      • Matt P

        Nox says: “what I do know of DNA suggests that if the “possible information” in a strand of DNA was a real number, it would be infinite.”

        Nox, Not to split strands of DNA, but the human genome, which consists of approximately 3 billion base pairs, equates to approximately 770 megabytes of raw data, or 3.2 gigabytes in human-readable format. The largest confirmed genome is 150 billion base pairs, which similar proportional size. While not infinite, still a pretty large number.

        Jason says: “The fact that there is enough possible information in one strand of human DNA that if it were written out it could span the equator over three times.”

        The earth’s equator is almost 25,000 miles or about 40,000 km, which equates to a little less than 1.6 billion inches. This means at two characters per inch, the human genome in spelled-out base pairs would span the equator one time (Courier New Font, 60 pt size). Can I see your source on that? I used math.

        • Jabster

          I think, I think, I think it was the ‘possible’ information not actual assuming that ordering of base pairs (whatever they are) is important – it’s still not infinite though.

          How many different combinations of base pairs are there or am I being incredibly thick even asking that question?

          • UrsaMinor

            It’s a very pertinent question. Conceptually, finding the answer is trivial if you know the number of possible subunits (which we do; there are four) and specify the length of the chain. Let’s go with 3 billion base pairs (3 times ten to the ninth power in American parlance). The number of distinct permutations is 4 raised to the power 3 billion, which is so colossally huge that I am unable to find a device that is capable of calculating the answer. Ordinary computer chips aren’t built to handle numbers this big.

            Let’s put it in perspective. Suppose you had a DNA chain that was only 10 base pairs long, and you could plug A, T, C or G into any one of those slots. The number of distinct permutations is 4 to the 10 power, or 1,048,576. Over a million possibilities already, and we’re just getting started.

            20 base pairs? About 1,100,000,000 permutations.

            100 base pairs? 1,610,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 permutations. Note that 100 is barely enough base pairs to code one protein subunit, or a very small complete protein.

            Your mind cannot possibly wrap itself around what four to the power three billion is. There are fewer sand grains on all the beaches of the Earth. Heck, there are fewer individual atoms comprising the planet.

            But what we have here is a testament to DNA’s information-carrying capacity, not its actual information content. It’s certainly not unique in its flexibility. One can spin similarly impressive figures for a 26-letter alphabet and a 700,000 character string of them (a.k.a., a 300-page book. The number of possible books that fit these constraints is not infinite, but it’s very, very, very, very, very large).

            • Jabster

              Just to make sure I get the number of combinations – a base pair can be one of:

              A+T
              T+A
              C+G
              G+C

              i.e. A+T is not the same as T+A giving four combinations not two?

            • UrsaMinor

              Correct, but largely irrelevant. Only one of the DNA strands is the “sense” strand, so only one half of each base pair contributes to the information content. The other is there for structural stability, to form the double helix and protect the DNA from damage.

              The antisense strand can be said to carry the same information as the sense strand, in that you can reconstruct the sequence of the sense strand from it- but its sequence is completely dictated by that of the sense strand, and so it doesn’t carry any information of its own.

              We are really only interested in the sequence along the sense strand. For the purposes of calculating information content, it’s irrelevant what the sense strand bases pair with.

            • Matt P

              UrsaMinor, I think we agree in principle, but disagree semantically, which is the best way to disagree as we get to argue about it forever.

              We’re getting into information theory vs permutations, two very different things. A
              byte consists of 8 bits. It can store 8 bits of information (each a 1 or 0), but there are 256 permutations. But each of the 256 permutations stores the same amount of information. So let us approximate the number of digits the permutations within human DNA at 3.2 billion base pairs. Each base pair contains two bits of information.

              2 to the 10th power is 1024, which we can approximate to 1000 (or 10 to the 3rd power) (which, incidentally, is what hard drive manufacturers do). Our formula for the approximation is divide the power of 2 by 10 and multiply by 3 to get the number of digits.

              So we are trying to calculate 2 raised to the 6,400,000,000 power. This number would have more than 1,920,000,000 digits, which is an extraordinary number of combinations. This is the number of possible permutations, but is says nothing about the capacity of the DNA to carry information, just the number of permutations.

              The capacity of the DNA to carry information is 6.4 billion bits, or about 800 million bytes.

              It is unclear what is meant by the term “possible information.” I interpreted it to mean the equivalent of “hard drive capacity,” not “number of permutations of data for a hard drive of given capacity.”

            • UrsaMinor

              @Matt P:

              You are correct, each base pair carries two bits of information. This is four possible values that it can represent, not two, as you use in your calculations.

              The information content is based on the sequence; order is meaningful, and without it, the only information that you can store is the total number of As, Cs, Gs and Ts you have, without regard to sequence. The total amount of information that DNA (or any other information system) can hold is a function of the number of distinct states that each element can assume, raised to the power of the number of elements you have. Raw “hard drive capacity” tells you how many elements N you have, and therefore what percentage of the total set of discrete permutations of N elements that it has the capacity to hold at any one time. This is a very much smaller number than the total number of permutations that are available to fill N slots. The same is true of any DNA sequence of finite length.

              Translation between mathematical bases is irrelevant. Whether you express the answer in base 2 or base 10, the number of discrete states is the same.

              In real life, computer information storage is more efficient than DNA information storage in the sense that it utilizes all unique combinations of its elements and DNA does not. DNA base pairs are interpreted as codons of 3 consecutive pairs (64 unique combinations), but the code is degenerate, as they only translate to 20 possible amino acids. I.e., some amino acids are represent by more than one codon.

              I do think we are arguing semantics. “Hard drive capacity” is the number of data elements the hard drive holds. “DNA capacity” is the length of the DNA molecule in base pairs. The information capacity is related, but depends on how many distinct states each data element can hold. For computer bits, this is two states; for bases in DNA, this is four states. Computer encoding is more efficient on an abstract level because it uses all unique combinations of its elements in a meaningful way; DNA has the edge (despite its coding inefficiencies) in that it is several orders of magnitude more compact because it works at the molecular level. Some day soon we may have molecular encoding of computer data, and that edge will disappear.

          • http://fugodeus.com Nox

            Yes, that is exactly what I was going for.

            Apparently ‘infinite’ was a bad choice of words on my part. I was interpreting “possible information in one strand” to mean “information that could potentially exist within this strand” (which, yeah wouldn’t that be infinite?).

            This is why I try to leave the explaining of science for those who know science better than I do. UrsaMinor’s answer was better than mine anyway, and was basically the point I was intending to make.

            “What we have here is a testament to DNA’s information-carrying capacity, not its actual information content.”

    • Yoav

      The fact that there is enough possible information in one strand of human DNA that if it were written out it could span the equator over three times.

      That’s a load of bullsh*t. Creationists insist of claiming some sort of information that is not explained by evolutionary process but keep dodging when asked to define what is this magic “information” is. I’m too lazy to look it up for you but PZ myers has a annual post on the anniversary of the date where a creationist promised to reply “tomorrow” with an answer, it is currently at year 7 and tomorrow haven’t come yet.

      The fact that atheist never argue their proof that God doesn’t exist, yet always expect a detailed reason for your faith.

      If you make a positive claim it’s up to you to provide evidence. However while we can’t completely rule out the existence of a god there are ample evidence against the existence of the interventionist, personal god described in the buybull to a level that it non-existence can be considered as close to proven as possible and justify putting biblegod into the same category as santa, the easter bunny, zeus and snow white.

    • Custador

      Google “Junk DNA”, then feel free to shut the fuck up. Standing in science’s stomping ground again, and on this site I promise if you keep it up it’s only a matter of time until a biologist rips you to shreds.

    • Sunny Day

      Things are complicated? That’s your excuse to believe in god?

      how very small of you.

  • Jason

    Nox, like what? Love your neighbor as yourself? SCARY!

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      No I’m actually a big fan of “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I also approve heartily of the golden rule (which predates Jesus, but that’s a separate point), some of the other sayings attributed to Jesus, and some in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

      But “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:17-18)”? Yeah. That is a kind of scary thing to find in a book that is so widely considered a source of good values.

      I never said every word of the bible is untrue. But if one word is not true, then none of it is reliably true. What is true is true. What is untrue is untrue. Whether something is in the bible or not doesn’t affect which of these categories it belongs in.

      The fact that Jesus is said to have endorsed the ethic of reciprocity does not make it wrong. The fact that Genesis claims sunlight is older than the Sun does not make it right. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is in at least one important sense of the word, true.

      But surely you know there is more to christianity than “Love your neighbor as yourself”. If it was just that, do you think anyone would object?

      I’m talking about original sin, sin in general, substitutionary atonement through blood sacrifice, salvation through adherence to blind faith, the authority of the church, the inspiration of scripture, public commandments from private revelation, chosen people, purity, promised lands, promised messiahs, prophecies relating to the first or second coming of said messiah, promises of punishment or reward in an unverifiable afterlife and people basing their lives and decisions on these beliefs.

      Do you recognize these christian concepts as being christian concepts?

      Do you take exception to this description of christianity?

    • Yoav

      You want scary:
      Acts 3:23

      And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

      Deuteronomy 20 13-14

      And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
      But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

      And there a lot more where these come from

      • John C

        Yes, and you can not understand a single one of them in your current state of unbelief since there is no Light ‘there’ Yoav. (Ps 36:9)

        How long will you toil in darkness friend?

        Awake! (Eph 5:13&14)

  • Jason

    On a mobile and can’t see a reply? Sorry!
    I looked at other religious, Muslims propagate violence to others, they use the weakest of themselves to commit cowardly acts to others. That goes against what is basic in human conscience! It also failed to offer me hope and logic. The profit mohammed had young kids for wifes. That aint right.
    Others teach that it is proper and fitting to suppress others while promoting ones self. (Hindu )
    Not one showed the path to God to be a selfless journey, that doesn’t focus on the glorification of self. Christianity teaches loving others, and sacrificing the leaders for the followers!
    I made a decision, you made yours.

    • Bill

      “Christianity teaches loving others, and sacrificing the leaders for the followers!”

      Which one of these acts of terrorism in the name of Christianity fits your definition?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_terrorism

    • Jabster

      That you wish it to be true makes it no more true that what you wish it not be true makes it false. If someone invents a new religion that you considered even ‘nicer’ would you believe that to be true instead; do you not believe in cancer as you wish that cancer was not true?

  • Jason

    @ Nox, yes the Bible is God breathed!

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      @Jason, Thank you.

      In Genesis 1 “god” claims that the Earth experienced alternating periods of light and darkness for three days prior to the creation of the Sun.

      As the creator of all this stuff, why didn’t “god” realize that was wrong?

      • John C

        Because He’s not merely referring to the outer, natural world in the creative sense, but our inner world (and its progressive enlightenment) as well. Notice there was ‘evening and morning’ for 6 days but on the 7th (the # seven = spiritual perfection and speaks of the sabbath rest which was ‘made for man’ and not the other way around for ‘there remains a spiritual state of rest’ for the people of God, Heb 4:9) there is no evening (darkness) mentioned friend. This speaks of the the state of spiritual perfection and Jesus said ‘
        ‘Be ye perfect (fully enlightened) as your Father in heaven is perfect’. Matt 5:48.

        All the best, Nox.

      • Jabster

        @Nox

        I’m not sure this being unenthusiastically almost pleasant is all it’s cracked up to be.

        • http://fugodeus.com Nox

          @Jabster

          I had noticed you’ve been playing nicer than usual recently. It was a good effort. And while I do appreciate the thought you don’t need to apologize to me. All I ever meant to ask you for is that you don’t tell them to f*ck off immediately as soon as they get here.

          Here with Jason, I was trying to encourage what momentarily looked like it might be an attempt to actually answer a question (see carrot; stick). It appears that in this situation, being almost pleasant resulted in nothing more than “LOL I’m not gonna try to answer that”. Score one for dickishness I guess.

          Just to clarify, I’ve never said being diplomatic (or in this case refusing to give someone the anger they want from you) is any kind of guarantee that people will understand your point or engage you reasonably. Obviously, it is not. But in addition to being good general practice and undermining every evangelist’s favorite rhetorical device, I suspect it does just slightly increase the odds of someone who doesn’t already agree with you being able to understand anything you’re saying.

          On the basic level I agree with the school of thought that some things are just f*cking stupid and should be treated as such. Insulting stupid people and stupid ideas is a noble and necessary task. We should disdain blatant foolishness, and we should not tolerate bullsh*t. And sometimes just making someone feel foolish for saying something foolish is the best thing to do (as was my intention with counter-godwinning Jason). Ignorance is not necessarily an individual’s fault, but it is our species’ greatest fault, and it should be cut out mercilessly. Ridicule is a valuable tool which should never be completely ruled out (see my eventual response to Naoc, which was not as some suggested a loss of temper, but a conscious intentional use of the valuable tool of calling someone a f*cking idiot).

          On the other hand, when people feel insulted they feel threatened and it is easier than usual for them to go into defensive mode (often this is gonna happen no matter what you do) and stop reading. Then if you challenge their beliefs, they won’t even hear you. I believe that some of the theists who come here really are just looking for answers or looking to understand how the other side thinks. I know that a person can change their views and choose to overcome their dogma. And I worry that the most counterproductive impression that a curious theist could leave here with is that atheists have not given god a chance to exist. So (in between my random five month sabbaticals) I try to answer questions. Even senseless questions. Even questions that aren’t actually questions or even sentences. Because I want them to remember that when they came to church with questions they were called a sinner, and when they came here their questions were answered.

          Can I say with certainty that what I try to do is the right approach? Absolutely not. Can I even say that there even is a right approach? Only if there is some balance between remembering the person you are talking to is an individual with some of their own thoughts and feelings and often with good intentions and basic reasoning skills, and remembering that they serve a malignant entrenched belief system which has poisoned their minds and that they are here for the sole intention of spreading that poison to others (I only mean this half rhetorically. I’ve been thinking about exactly this for awhile with no clear answer). If there is some way to challenge what is most sacred to a person without triggering subconscious defense mechanisms that make your point inaccessible to them.

          Absent that, maybe a variety of approaches. I’ll keep doing what I do (attempting to express skeptical concepts in the language of the faithful) and you can keep doing what you do (stopping bullsh*t in its tracks).

          • Len

            If there is some way to challenge what is most sacred to a person without triggering subconscious defense mechanisms that make your point inaccessible to them.

            Giving them something to think about can help. Bluntly calling them names or gently nudging them in the direction of critically reviewing what they believe can help – as can everything in between. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

  • Jason

    BaHAHAHAHA. that’s your “PROOF”?God is the ultimate energy source! He is referred to as light throughout scripture. That shows ignorance! In Him is power to give and take light or darkness, or anything else He chooses. It also states in scripture that he turned back time!

    • Sunny Day

      Yes he created the entire universe last Thursday.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      John C,

      I am working on a John C-to-English dictionary so we can all check out this light of yours ourselves. So far I’ve got “David”=”Christ”, “Amalek”=”a part of the human psyche”, “uncircumcised”=”some unspecified thing which is unrelated to foreskin”, and “killing”=”washing”.

      I just started it. But is this about right so far?

      Jason,

      That wasn’t my proof. It was my first proof. And you haven’t actually countered it. The opening verses of Genesis make a statement so obviously wrong that even those who claim to believe the bible is “god breathed” cannot actually believe what the bible actually says. They can only pretend it does not say what is clearly stated right on the page. Sort of like what you are doing here.

      But maybe I’m jumping ahead too much. I asked what your opinion of the bible was, and hinted that the question was related to whether you subscribe to a literal reading of Genesis. Maybe I was not clear enough with my question.

      I took your answer, “yes the Bible is God breathed!” to mean that yes you Jason do subscribe to the common christian idea of the inerrancy of the bible and its affiliation with the creator of the Universe.

      Was this a premature assumption on my part?

      What parts of the bible do you believe?

      • trj

        I don’t know why you bother, Nox.

        Yes, Genesis is full of ridiculous stuff which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, especially if one insists on interpretating it literally. But any literalist Christian, as Jason appears to be, is simply going to counter with “God can do anything”, probably followed up with “Were you there when God created everything?”.

      • Jason

        Im actually not here on purpose at “your” site on a mission to convert you or even really argue with you about what I believe in or what you believe! I was interested in the hate filled bitter comments I came across. Honestly if believe nothing makes one so upset I’m glad that I’m so “DECEIVED. I leave you with this one thought; What if you are wrong and the reason for your rage is because you have nothing to stand on and therefore nothing to stand for? What if God could change your life as He has mine and you could no longer beg for it to end and wake up cursing God because it didn’t end? What if someone cares?
        Later friends! It has been interesting to say the least!

        • Bill

          “What if you are wrong…”

          What if you are wrong, and all along you should have been worshipping Allah? Then we are equally fucked. Pascals wager only get you so far buddy. Try actually supporting your beliefs with some evidence, then we can talk about whether I’m wrong or not.

          • Jason

            Thats my decision to make like it is yours. If I chose to believe allah, which is a poor argument on either side of faith, I’d live in fear that my children may follow that teaching and murder people who don’t agree. Also that I’d be expected to trust a teaching that teaches inequality and hate. They also worship a profit.
            It is a stupid point. Like worshipping ones own thoughts and ideas. It builds a world of people who ARE ALL THE ONLY ONES TO KNOW EVERYTHING. All gods. Which leads to frustration because they all know that they don’t know. This frustration leads to anger and violence, or even self medicating which is where my frustration led.
            All I’m saying is this. If God is not, then who’s ideas do we follow? Who is boss? You? I doubt you are able to handle that job.

            • CoffeeJedi

              “If God is not, then who’s ideas do we follow? Who is boss? You?”

              Yes, in a way. We live in a constitutional democracy, therefore we get to decide our laws for ourselves and everyone has a voice.

              Why are you so scared of humanity thinking for ourselves? What’s so great about a god imposing its will and morality anyway? That’s far more limiting and closed off. If something already knows everything and has decided it all beforehand, what’s the point? I’d rather live in a universe where our choices actually matter.

            • Yoav

              I’d live in fear that my children may follow that teaching and murder people who don’t agree. Also that I’d be expected to trust a teaching that teaches inequality and hate.

              And how is that different from christianity?
              At least in islam you can avoid being killed by converting or, for christian and jews, by agreeing to live under muslim domination and pay the jizyah, compare that to your god’s orders for a complete genocide of the Canaanites.
              You should learn some history, muslims will have to be working very hard to get anywhere near the numbers that were murdered in jesus’ name.

            • Jason

              Yoav, you are talking over your head again or are just distorting fact. In a time where civilization was establishing its self and a people fought for its very existence, compared to today? Great argument to focus the attention on the good christianity has done. Example is how the greatest nation in the world was built on Christian values. Where freedom and equality reins! America was built on a value system that some would through out the window!

            • Bill

              Again, please support your belief with some evidence. Then we can talk about whether you are right.

              Also, we follow the ideas of many people. Including great thinkers and common people like me. We examine them. We try them. We decide what makes the most sense for our society, and we discard the bad ones. (Hopefully.) But ideally we do this based on rational analysis of existing evidence.

            • Yoav

              America was, HAAAAHAAAA, built on, HoHoHo, christian values, WUAHAHAHA.
              Thanks Jason, I really needed a good lough.

          • Jason

            The argument presumes that a belief in God is equal to the possibility that I believe in anything! Its insanity! For the record I don’t believe in everything that calls itself christianity either!

            • Jason

              Coffeejedi 90% of Americans trust in some form of God. Fact is that is how legislation works. Then why must you 10% through ACLU and the judiciary try to rule the Democratic majority? Plus I just happen to think you are wrong. And that sometimes I’m wrong but I’ve never found God to be wrong!

            • Custador

              Google “tyranny of the majority”, realise that the entire point of the rule of law is to prevent it, then shut the fuck up.

            • CoffeeJedi

              So, thanks for completely dodging my question! About what I figured you’d do.

              Also, before you start mindlessly spouting off about the ACLU, do a little research some time. I think you’ll be surprised how many times they’ve defended the rights of Christians and other religious people over the years. But let me guess, your preacher and Fox News have told you how eeeeeevil they are, so you just assume without reading into it for yourself.

            • Yoav

              Democracy is not the same as tyranny of the majority. True, a majority of americans believe in some form of god, but these forms are often completely incompatible with each other. Which god should be imposed, evangelical jesus, catholic jesus, allah, orthodox jewish yahwe, reform jewish yahwe, and hat’s just abrahamic version of god, why not the hindu gods or the greek ones, odin is preaty cool and don’t forget his noodleiness.

              but I’ve never found God to be wrong!

              One of the many benefits of not existing.

            • UrsaMinor

              Let’s start at square one, shall we, Jason? Why is it reasonable in the first place to believe in your god? You haven’t offered any reasons or evidence, merely an insistence that your belief is warranted. Pretend I’m an alien from another planet who has never heard of Christianity, and explain your choice to me.

            • Jason

              No their actions speak volumes. And my answer is think for yourself, I think for my self that you are wrong. Simple

            • Jason

              Ursaminor or whatever, read my posts. Fact that Gods word explained Jesus to a T, even thought to be contradictory prophecy such as him being born in Bethlehem and being from Nazareth . Hundreds of years before Christ. Plusses the life change I have had.
              My phone is dieing so later!

            • UrsaMinor

              And my answer is think for yourself, I think for my self that you are wrong. Simple

              So, you are unwilling to explain your thought processes?

              Aren’t Christians supposed to help lead others to Christianity?

              What is your god’s reaction to willful refusal to even try to show others the truth of Christ?

            • UrsaMinor

              Fact that Gods word explained Jesus to a T

              Surely you can see how this is a circular reference which doesn’t explain anything. It requires that you must already believe the very thing that you are trying to prove, in order to accept the proof. It’s an example of faulty reasoning known as “petitio principii” or “begging the question” that has been known to Western civilization for 2400 years.

            • Noelle

              2400 years, eh? Sounds like just in time for Jesus, plus a few hundred years to spare. Must’ve been invented just for him.

        • trj

          Hm, okay, so we are bitter, raging, hateful people who curse God while begging for our lives to end.

          You perceptive abilities are really something, Jason. I wonder if you apply the same level of insight to your own beliefs. I’m guessing yes.

          • Jason

            Not all but look at the rage posted on this page. What of that? If you were indifferent then why do you bother? Self defeating!

            • Bill

              What rage?

              You really like this persecution shtick.

            • trj

              Or maybe it’s just that you’d really like atheists in general to be raging and hateful. They don’t believe in God, so surely they must have miserable lives and emotional problems, right?

            • UrsaMinor

              I see a lot of disdain in the comments for the obvious lack of familiarity with the topics you’re speaking about, and for the absence of any argument more substantive than “I’m right and you’re not”, and a fair bit of snark directed at the fact that you haven’t stepped up your game to demonstrate that you’re here for serious reasons.

              If you are going to do nothing but parrot somebody else’s explanations for why your beliefs are correct, and repeatedly demonstrate that you don’t even understand those third-party arguments, and you’re not interested in learning whether or not they hold up to scrutiny, well, all I can say is that you’ve come to the wrong forum.

            • Jabster

              “Not all but look at the rage posted on this page.”

              Rage … oh dear you are joking aren’t you? Let me put it this way for the stupid wank stain that you have proved yourself to be (that’s not rage by the way, that’s just realising that you’re a complete simpleton). Last night I went to bed but not wearing my boxer shorts and maybe hadn’t wiped my arse quite as good as I should have – now do you know what, that little skid mark was still more of a gift to humanity than you are.

              So then where are we – oh yes, I remember now … your quote “I leave you with this one thought” so why don’t you do that or in other words piss of you stupid little prat.

              @Nox

              I’m sorry … :-(

            • Jason

              Resorting to name calling and the inability to consider any other persons perspective makes you both WHAT? And you say… let me guess “Christians are closed minded bigots”.
              Fact is you can’t carry on a debate over the Internet without becoming angry thirdenough grade playground name callers. But I’m the “wank stain”?

            • Jabster

              The fact is wank stain boy you’re not carrying on a debate at all … you’re just spouting complete shite in between not answering questions and then finishing it off with doing a cut and paste from a creationist website and acting like a wank stain. That makes you a wank stain of the highest order.

              If you actually want to have a debate, and let’s be honest here you don’t have the intellectual capacity to do that, then please do. If on the other hand you want to say I’m not try to convert people and than make it clear that you are or even say you leaving and then can on posting your stupid fecking drivel then that’s you choice. Of choice it’s my choice to point out you are a wank stain and have shown yourself to be a wank stain but that’s good isn’t it as you can add it to your list of how the nasty atheists called you names like wank stain.

            • UrsaMinor

              I will have to agree with Jabster, although not quite so earthily. You have not put forth one single argument in support of your case, Jason. You have simply made assertions that your own position is correct, without backing those claims with any corroborating evidence. You clearly don’t even understand the sources that you are quoting secondhand, and have not checked them for accuracy.

            • Jabster

              @Ursa

              Jason had his chances and basically blew them … he’s failed to answer any questions put to him and then just drones on with his message. The icing on the cake was the ‘I’m not trying to convert anyone …’ and then proceeding to do exactly that. Is that statement the new ‘I’m not racist but …’?

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              “I’m sorry”

              Thanks but no need to apologize to me. All I’ve ever meant to ask from you is to not chase off potential conversants while I’m still writing my opening statements.

              “That’s not rage by the way”

              Just posted this upthread, but for the sake of keeping things neatly nested I’ll say it again here. My insistence on not displaying rage is closely related to Jason’s insistence on seeing rage.

              “Is that statement the new ‘I’m not racist but …’?”

              It’s a spinoff. Out here in the colonies “I’m not racist but” is still in wide circulation.

            • Jason

              Or maybe my friends you get so excited arguing nothingness and chance that you don’t see the holes in your world views.
              Fact is that the complexity of the world you live in is proof enough that your wrong in the facts. Of course you have no solid proof that you are right. That because you can spin information and regurgitate failed arguments make you superior?!! You can see the holes in your argument that my simpleness makes you some how correct?
              Killing God will never make you God or put your selfish ideas right. Time and time again the model of a society without morals has failed.
              Lets say that by chance you can convert enough people into worshipping your ideas. You can control law in American, you will only reign until enough people disagree with you,and see that you cannot offer even hope in the very disasters you claim disprove God. See you are not God. I’m saying that the ideas you have are wrong and easily proven so. That by replacing my God with yours will only make you and I hopeless.
              You have in fact not dismissed the idea of god but have made an idle of your ideas, and in so doing (without naming your opinions god) have began to worship a bad guess at best. Because it is easier than obedience even when you know deep down that you are wrong.

              The person who claims that a Christian would seek death for an unbeliever has been misinformed, or has met some hypocrite who hasn’t a clue of the teachings of Christ.
              I do care enough to come here time and time again in hopes that you reweigh the information. I have no power to convert you but I pray that you see the light through the Spirit of God that is calling to you.

            • CoffeeJedi

              I am so sick and tired of Christ-o-bots saying that I as an atheist want to “worship” myself or that I think that I am or want to be my own god. This is simply and utterly bunk. There is nothing that I “worship”, just ideas that I reject or accept based on evidence.

              You’re so wrapped up in this hierarchical vision of the world that you can’t even conceive of the fact that we don’t think in those terms. You’re not the first to come here and make these claims either. It’s maddening because it has no basis in anything we’ve ever said, and it’s impossible to get through your own projections of your religion on to our lack thereof.

              I think what I’m trying to say is “kindly pull your head out of your butt, thank you.”

            • Sunny Day

              Shorter version of Jason: “Knowledge and Learning is hard, the world is so complex. derp. derp. derp.

            • Sunny Day

              “I do care enough to come here time and time again in hopes that you reweigh the information.”

              But you also said you were leaving. Were you lying then, or now?

              Why should we give the words of a liar such as your self any more time?

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              “A society without morals” has never been tried anywhere on Earth, has never been suggested in this thread by anyone but you, and is not the only alternative to a society where you get to impose your broken morals on others.

            • Jason

              I meant I was leaving, getting off for the day. Sunny day.
              Coffee…, the fact that you consider your opinions to be superior to the word of God suggest that you would have control over anything. That control belongs to God and is only lent to man (the original argument on this page makes that case). If you seek the power to decide right and wrong you want to usurp the authority that you can’t handle. It is, although difficult for you to conceive, logical and rational to drawl the lines between your murder of God and trying to be one.
              I’m leaving for a little while again, if it’s ok with you.

            • Jabster

              “Coffee…, the fact that you consider your opinions to be superior to the word of God suggest that you would have control over anything.”

              No, he doesn’t believe in your god in the first place … do you believe that your opinions are superior to that of the Muslim god?

              “That control belongs to God and is only lent to man (the original argument on this page makes that case).”

              … and you know this how?

              “If you seek the power to decide right and wrong you want to usurp the authority that you can’t handle.”

              No, it’s merely to usurp the power of people who use their version of god to impose their version of right and wrong.

              “It is, although difficult for you to conceive, logical and rational to drawl the lines between your murder of God and trying to be one.”

              I can no more murder your god than I can Harry Potter. I can of course fight for the right not to have your beliefs imposed on me.

              “I’m leaving for a little while again, if it’s ok with you.”

              Maybe you could use the time to actually answer some of the responses to you?

            • UrsaMinor

              Jason, not to put too fine a point on it, but you have taken no steps and presented no evidence to establish that your god is real (although you have been asked many, many times on this thread).

              We don’t share your blind assumption that your god is real. Your assertions about your god wants or doesn’t want are meaningless to us until you demonstrate that it is real.

            • Bill

              “…the fact that you consider your opinions to be superior to the word of God suggest that you would have control over anything.”

              Here’s the thing, before you argue that atheists consider their opinions superior to “the word of god,” you have to establish that it actually is the word of god. You must establish the existence of god, and you must establish what his “word” entails. You’ve failed to do so.

              Assuming you can establish the existence of god and clearly define his word, we can talk about whether our opinions are superior to his “word.”

              You aren’t even out of the starting gate on this.

            • Jason

              So Jabster, read! I have answered the questions posed. The ones that I can answer.
              If you are fighting against “Christian imposed rule” what would you replace it with?? Your anarchy? If no one has a right to impose rule on others we have no civilization. Read ALL MY POSTS.
              My mobile is dieing again the but a question for you; What is it that you want so badly to do? What is this the greatest country in the world is stealing from you? Maybe you should move to a place that your nothing is working? Religion is everywhere, secular humanism is a religion also.

            • Jabster

              “So Jabster, read! I have answered the questions posed.”

              No you haven’t … there are many replies to which you have no answer and have therefore just ignored. The fact that you are unwilling or unable to admit that says a lot about your character.

            • UrsaMinor

              Putting words in our mouths again. Please point out where anyone here has advocated anarchy. When you can’t answer a question, point in another direction to distract people.

              At this point, Jason, I’m going to call your bluff. If there is evidence that your god is real and that your religion is correct, you personally do not have the slightest idea what that evidence is. Otherwise, you would have been able to tell us.

              If you do not know what the basis for believing in your own religion is, Jason, you might as well throw a dart at the wall and pick a religion to believe in at random.

              Oh, wait! You don’t know why you should believe in Christianity! You’ve already thrown that dart. May Allah have mercy upon you.

            • Bill

              ” If no one has a right to impose rule on others we have no civilization. ”

              What on earth makes you think anyone here is saying no one has the right to impose rules on others?

            • Bill

              “Religion is everywhere, secular humanism is a religion also.”

              Religion doesn’t mean what you think it means.

            • Jason

              I ask u to forgive me again. I am not on my PC because frankly I have things to do at home, and I wouldn’t want my kids to stumble on this forum! Please be patient in that there are many of you and yet I’m only one.
              @ursaminor Anarchy is when order (civilization) no longer is in control.  This isn’t putting words in your mouth, but drawling the lines in the arguments from this page that some choose not to drawl. BILL The line that leads to anarchy is this from Yoav that called Christian majority rule “tyranny”! So if not majority rule then who rules America, everyone?  This is lawlessness, everyone cannot be the leader just like we may both be wrong but if in opposition at least one of us is wrong. This is not the case for God for He is God regardless if anyone believes or not.
              Jabster, make me a list. My reason for believing is mostly experience, that I couldn’t get you to see if I died trying. But I’ll try until I die. I’ve tried to elude to some of my reasonings but again;
              The complexity of the world you live in. If you was in a place void of life, and in that place you found a watch. It worked perfectly, kept time perfectly and even had china or USA stamped in it you would say;a) an explosion happened and resulted in this watch or, b) someone was here and left it. You’d say b. Now even single celled organisms are way more complex because they gather their own energy and reproduce. God EXISTS!
              As to Which one is right, only one offers hope and unconditional love! The God of the Bible. Once upon a time I was so angry with life I too tried to believe that God didn’t exist. My wife’s parents were very bad “christians ” and I was tired of them telling my wife and I how we should live. I started reading this Bible to blow holes in the writings of the Jews that Have withstood scrutiny for thousands of years. I looked at the Scriptures for what they actually said, in original Greek/Hebrew, not preachers interpretation!  I started finding what appeared to be “holes” but in research I found these holes to actually be evidence! IE the sun question from last week. Look up revelations 22 verses 4-8 or somewhere in there. Also prophecy about Jesus coming true even the ones that seem to contradict. I got interested and started asking real questions, what if God is a personal God who would die that I have hope. See I have lived one of those lives that either make a good case for killing ones self. I was to the point once that I’d go to sleep begging for death and wake up cursing the light (or God if he was putting me through life). I found Him to be real and personal delivering me from bondages that nothing else could have.
              God has changed every aspect of my life,and given me a heart for the hurting. Good comes from the storms of life.
              You may be bored by now but it was you who insisted.
              I have found the writings of the ancient historian Jocephious who was secular to give his own account of Jesus’ works to be thought provoking.
              You can recite the same old lines but you cannot argue what I know to be real in my own life experience. Especially from the perspective of nothing.
              You believe in George Washington, why. The historical account. You trust thousands of eyewitnesses for him but not Thousands for God?

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              “I started reading this Bible to blow holes in the writings of the Jews that Have withstood scrutiny for thousands of years. I looked at the Scriptures for what they actually said, in original Greek/Hebrew, not preachers interpretation! I started finding what appeared to be “holes” but in research I found these holes to actually be evidence!”

              No you didn’t. You saw an apologist claim to have done this and on the assumption that they were telling you the truth you thought it would be a good meme for you to appropriate.

              You already showed that you haven’t read even the first nineteen verses of the first book of the bible. Little late to tell us now about how much you’ve studied it.

              Or perhaps since you wanted to talk about prophecies relating to Jesus, you could explain why Jesus falsely predicting his return two thousand years ago just appears to be a hole in your story.

            • UrsaMinor

              Anarchy is when order (civilization) no longer is in control. This isn’t putting words in your mouth, but drawling [sic] the lines in the arguments from this page that some choose not to drawl [sic].

              Atheism does not equate to anarchy. The vast majority of atheists are firmly dedicated to the idea of the rule of law. We just think it should be based on ethics and not religion.

              You can recite the same old lines but you cannot argue what I know to be real in my own life experience.

              If you are going to use this argument with a straight face, you must grant that other people’s interpretations of their own life experiences are just as valid as your point of view. And please keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of people on the planet, whether they are religious or not, do not share your particular point of view, precisely because of their own life experiences.

              There is zero doubt in my mind that if this same argument were presented to you by a Hindu or a Buddhist or a Muslim as proof that their religion must be true, you would reject it out of hand. Here’s a clue for you: you shouldn’t be using an argument that you wouldn’t accept yourself if it led to a conclusion that you didn’t like. Your argument, if correct, supports ALL religions, not just yours.

            • UrsaMinor

              I have found the writings of the ancient historian Jocephious who was secular to give his own account of Jesus’ works to be thought provoking.

              If by “Jocephious” you mean the Roman historian Josephus, he’s not an eyewitness. He wasn’t even born until several years after Jesus was allegedly crucified. Neither were Pliny, Suetonius or Tacitus, the only other ancient writers who mention Christ or Christianity. These are your “thousands of eyewitnesses”?

              The complexity of the world you live in. If you was in a place void of life, and in that place you found a watch. It worked perfectly, kept time perfectly and even had china or USA stamped in it you would say;a) an explosion happened and resulted in this watch or, b) someone was here and left it. You’d say b. Now even single celled organisms are way more complex because they gather their own energy and reproduce. God EXISTS!

              This is called “argument from ignorance”. I.e., “I can’t personally see how X could be true, so it must be false, and since it’s false, my completely unrelated assertion Y must be true.”

            • Bill

              “BILL The line that leads to anarchy is this from Yoav that called Christian majority rule “tyranny”! So if not majority rule then who rules America, everyone?”

              Yes, everyone. Through the election of public officials. And for the most part the laws that govern our society are non-controversial. For instance, atheists and theists alike agree that random killing and stealing is bad and shouldn’t be allowed. Keep in mind, however, that our constitution explicitly protects minorities (religious or otherwise) from opression.

              You really have no idea how our government works do you?

              “My reason for believing is mostly experience, that I couldn’t get you to see if I died trying. But I’ll try until I die. I’ve tried to elude to some of my reasonings but again;
              The complexity of the world you live in. ”

              Yes, you’ve certainly tried to elude reasoning. I think you’ve succeeded actually.

              Personal experience doesn’t prove the existence of anything without idependent evidence supporting it. If it did you would have to concede the existence of evrything anyone felt they experienced, including all other gods. Complexity of life doesn’t begin to prove god exists.

              Sigh – it’s always the same blather.

            • UrsaMinor

              The line that leads to anarchy is this from Yoav that called Christian majority rule “tyranny”! So if not majority rule then who rules America, everyone? This is lawlessness, everyone cannot be the leader just like we may both be wrong but if in opposition at least one of us is wrong.

              People who trot out the majority rule line are A) always members of the majority and B) wrong.

              The U.S. Constitution guarantees ALL of its citizens certain basic rights. No Federal or local laws may override them, and they cannot be voted away at the whim of the majority.

              Yoav was using “tyranny” in the same sense as the American colonists used it to describe British rule: forcing the governed to do things against their will and without their consent. It may have escaped your notice that the overthrow of tyranny during the Revolutionary War resulted in a the formation of a representative democracy, not an anarchy.

              I will support anyone’s right to worship as they please so long as they place no burden on me when they do so. I expect them to reciprocate. That is essence of the legal and social contract of freedom of religion in the United States.

            • Bill

              “I am not on my PC because frankly I have things to do at home, and I wouldn’t want my kids to stumble on this forum!”

              It would be TERRIBLE if your children were exposed to critical thinking and the fact that not everyone shares their father’s opinions.

              It’s striking that so many christians are sure they have the abosolute self evidient truth, yet feel the need to insulate their children from opposing views. If you have the unassailable self evident truth, there should be very little risk in allowing your children to see opposing views.

            • Sunny Day

              Mushrooms grow best when kept in the dark.

            • Jason

              Smiling @Nox,  actually I’m a Pastor and am use to encouraging a congregation of believers. I’ve only been a Pastor a couple of years so yes I don’t know everything.  I started my journey about 9 years ago. This is a fascinating exploration of nothing! Atheist have less proof than anyone, seeings how nothing can leave no tracts, yet are the least likely to admit the faith it takes to believe order from ciaos!

              Bill and Ursa, you don’t have to school me on government.  I assumed that your points were standard knowledge.  You can however tell your fellow atheist that the tyranny they speak of by your definition of u.s. government, cannot exist. But there is as you know a push to enact judicial tyranny against anyone of faith in America.  Washington, Lincoln, even Jefferson took part and led groups, including this countries founding government , in prayers to a Holy God. Yet you would have the rest of us to believe America’s not a nation built on the moral fabric of Christ’s teachings? Also Bill I’ll try again to make the anarchy point clearly for you. NO ONE AGREES, EVERYONE CANNOT BE IN CHARGE, IF EVERYONE IS IN CONTROL THEN THIS ORDER (CIVILIZATION) NO LONGER EXISTS. Because we all cannot agree. You as a believer in nothing are protected to believe nothing but us who believe in God are in control. You should thank your random chance that the Muslims who think you should be dead are not in control YET. Atleast us “evil” Christians want to convert you and love you and not kill you,
              Josephus was not my reference to a witness. It did look like that’s what I was saying to your credit. He was not a Christian who did mention Jesus in his writing. He did have access to fresher information than you or I. And there are thousands of witnesses in the Bible who witnessed miracles! You know no one who witnessed Washington yet you believe him. Why. It was written perhaps? Why believe those writings if not the Bible? Because Jesus asks something of you, something you are scared to give up. TRUST
              If you have all you want and are content to be of and bound for nothing, I hope you the best. I choose to live my life for the Christ that changed me, gave me hope, purpose, and a future.

              You are going to die and what if I’m right?

            • Bill

              “Also Bill I’ll try again to make the anarchy point clearly for you. NO ONE AGREES, EVERYONE CANNOT BE IN CHARGE, IF EVERYONE IS IN CONTROL THEN THIS ORDER (CIVILIZATION) NO LONGER EXISTS. Because we all cannot agree.”

              Representative government combined with consititutional protections really escapes you doesn’t it?

              “But there is as you know a push to enact judicial tyranny against anyone of faith in America.”

              This is utter bullshit. Your “faith” is consitutionally protected. Please cite examples of this alleged “judicial tyranny.”

              “You as a believer in nothing are protected to believe nothing but us who believe in God are in control. ”

              More bullshit. But at least you’ve revealed yourself for the theocratic facist you are.

              “If you have all you want and are content to be of and bound for nothing, I hope you the best. I choose to live my life for the Christ that changed me, gave me hope, purpose, and a future. ”

              Good for you. Now please be so kind as to keep your god out of my government.

              “You are going to die and what if I’m right?”

              Mr Pascal would like his wager back. What if the Muslims are right? The Hindus? The Scietologists? Given the lack of evidence supporting any religious belief system, your wager would require me to practice every religion and probably make up a few too.

              But let’s concede your false choice for a minute. Let’s say that the choice is either believe and go to heaven or disbelieve and go to hell.

              Behind door A is a place filled with sanctimonious baptists, lutherens and cathloics who spent all their time on earth try to deny people some of the best parts of life. For eternity I will be forced to praise on high a dictatorial father figure who would have gladly tortured me for all eternity but for the fact that I praised him on high.

              Behind door B is every atheist, rock star and non-christian in the history of humanity. There is also a lake of fire and eternal physical torture.

              Seems to me, both places include dictatorial torture of one kind or another, but the company is a lot better behind door B.

            • UrsaMinor

              From the 1797 treaty between the United States and Tripolitania (written at a time when many of the Founding Fathers were alive, well, and still active):

              “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              @Jason

              I didn’t say you weren’t a pastor. I said you clearly hadn’t read even the first page of your holy book. Most pastors haven’t.

              By the way, are you unaware of the role deists played in the writing of this country’s foundational documents, or are you intentionally trying to sweep that under the rug?

            • Sunny Day

              He wouldn’t want his kids to stumble into this forum because of shame.

              No Father would want his children see him so humiliated. Especially when you can Google and confirm the answers for themselves.

              “I am not on my PC because frankly I have things to do at home, and I wouldn’t want my kids to stumble on this forum!

          • Jason

            Bill, I also don’t let my small kids drink liquor, watch porn, play in the highway, eat ice cream 3 mills a day,lay out of school…… All things I decided to disallow. But my oldest knows what I wish you could, how God changed me! Experience is superior to perception!
            this is fun!

            • Bill

              So engaging in conversation with atheists is tantamount to boozing, watching porn and glutony?

              Does your wife know you’re engaged in this wanton discussion? Have you confessed the sin of talking to us?

            • Jason

              Twisting Ursa, read. That treaty quote says that well not go to war with a country on account of religion! So what’s the big point. And no we are not founded on the mandatory believing in Christ. But you are fooling only yourself if you don’t think that we are a nation founded on Christian morality and ethics.
              This conversation has focused my attention on the apologetics. Dinesh D’souza has some very interesting thoughts on this subject. Check him out. At least it would give you some opportunity to consider the thoughts of a educated man. God knows that I’m not as educated as you must be.
              Bill, I’m not trying to be ignorant about government. Just the opposite in fact. You have made my points better than I can. This is the best government in the world. Not perfect but the best. Atheist have a right to believe nothing and that should be your right. Christ never forced anyone to believe. They did on the other hand want to believe as he held and answered the needs that they had. I’m arguing to the fact that you think a Christian has no right to bring his or her belief to office or government with them. Yet you think that its fine to rule from the vantage point of a nothing world view. The constitution never asked that of leaders. You ever studied history? How the presidents called for this country to pray when faced with difficult situations. Now a student gets sued when invoking the name of Jesus in a commencement speech! But you say you know the facts? I’m sure you know that students can’t tell students about Jesus even as I have told you but you point a finger at me for not letting my kids read your slanted,misconceived,and misinformed bitter rants? Ok!
              God isn’t a cosmic kill joy. He tries to teach us to have abundant LIFE. Just like you would concede the point that a drug addict has a poor quality of life because they allow to control them the very thing that they think is bringing them joy. God knows what will hurt you and wants it to “be well with you” Deuteronomy 5,33 I think. Just after the giving of the law. Man is the one who makes the law oppressive rather than redemptive. We focus on what isn’t good and you think that makes God evil. Smh. That is a human flaw not Gods flaw.
              You think perhaps Led Zeppelin, not really trying to condemn him, will be touring and giving away pot in Hell? You are a optimist for sure! In the world I lived a party life. I was always invited because I was the so to speak life of the party. It was nothing like the fun I have now, or the joy I feel now.
              I worship God because I love and appreciate all that He has done for me. It is not something I’m forced to do to worship my Lord.
              You keep equating religions! Have you ever studied anything other than Christianity? Not that you have ever studied christianity. You cannot have. You only know what your preconceived wrong ideas of Christianity are. Muslims do not believe in any equality or freedom of any individual. Inside or out. They never have a guarantee to even make it to Heaven, and there prophet was….well study it. Hindus have the cas system that allows society to allow the higher classes to turn a blind eye to injustice on a lower class. That the low class were bad in a future life and deserve the hideous treatment! Christianity teaches love and equality, even to you that Muslims would have already beheaded if you lived under that system.
              Regardless of if you care to accept it or not, the values we have to personal equality and those our government calls God given rights were historically made popular by us “filthy Christians”. Study it up. Romans certainly did not believe in equality. Neither communists now. They actually believe that the ruling class gets one standard and everyone else gets what’s left to share. I’m off subject.

            • Custador

              The US has the best government in the world? I stopped reading right there.

              Keep on repeating “The USA is free and democratic” until you convince yourself, by all means.

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              If you really think your beliefs are solid and will stand up to examination, why are you afraid of your children seeing conflicting beliefs?

            • UrsaMinor

              Twisting Ursa, read. That treaty quote says that well not go to war with a country on account of religion!

              Yes, it absolutely does say that. It is right there in the text, in plain English. And it also says, in plain English, that the U.S. was not founded on the Christian religion. This carries a great deal of weight, because it is not just wishful revisionist thinking or the idle speculation of historians on the unwritten motives of the Founding Fathers; it is an official public document written and approved by people who were there when our country was founded.

              And how was I “twisting” anything by quoting it verbatim? All I did was put it up for you to read. If you are accusing me of altering the treaty text to make it support my point, then f*ck you, and go look up the original for yourself.

              On second thought, don’t bother. What history actually says is irrelevant to you. I’m arguing with a man who is interpreting “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” as “the Government of the United States of America was founded on the Christian religion”.

              Christianity teaches love and equality, even to you that Muslims would have already beheaded if you lived under that system.

              Let’s put this “Christianity is a lovefest” claim to rest, shall we? Your religion has a very bad track record even with its own adherents.

              First off, Christians have killed lot of Muslims in first-strike attacks. Read up on the Crusades.

              The most thoroughly Christian period in European history was the Middle Ages, which was not exactly an egalitarian time. The population was almost entirely Christian, and Christians ran absolutely everything. Nobody interfered with Christian rule. And what kind of society did they produce? They didn’t even pretend to teach equality. They believed in the divine right of kings; they believed that kings were kings and serfs were serfs because God had ordained that class system for the good of society. They believe that Scripture supported this division of society. Medieval Christian serfs were not free, they were slaves, and they lived in the most appalling conditions as the property of higher-ranking Christians. This all-Christian society was every bit as restrictive as the Hindu caste system, if not more so.

              You keep equating religions!

              I am not. I am equating the quality of the evidence for any of them being true. This is entirely different from claiming that they resemble each other or are somehow interchangeable in their doctrines.

            • Bill

              I’m done with this one. Nothing interesting to add, and he’s being wilfully ignorant about constitutional law and history.

              I’ll only say this, if Zeppelin is touring in hell I’m totally there. I’ll pay the ferryman now for tickets to that show. I haven’t seen them since Live Aid.

            • Jason

              Nox, When they become old enough to understand the weightiness of the subject, I’ll even help them with their research! It’s a promise I’ll make to you.

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              Can I take that to mean that you are not already indoctrinating them into what you have decided are the right beliefs for them?

              Will your research include ensuring that they are exposed to the arguments you have refused to answer here?

              Will you be encouraging them to investigate both sides, and to find out for themselves how much you’ve lied to them?

              If you’re just promising to make your kid watch a bunch of apologetics videos, I kind of already figured you were going to do that. So I guess I believe your promise.

            • Jason

              No Nox. I would hope they evaluate the biggest decision of their life completely. Because if they don’t it will never stand this scrutiny. What is faith if it will not stand.
              You could help me by presenting me with a list of your facts that God is not….. I would be glad to review your facts. Not a bunch of apologetic videos though or opinion pieces. Thanks

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              I’m glad to hear that Jason. And of course I’m glad to help.

          • Jabster

            “You are going to die and what if I’m right?”

            You’re also going to die and what if another religion is right … it’s fun this game isn’t it?

            • UrsaMinor

              I’ll save Jason the trouble, and the rest of you a lot of extra reading:

              “But they’re, like, not, and stuff.”

            • Jabster

              Oh and I was waiting for Jesus and saving us from our sins …

            • John C

              ‘what if another religion is right’

              The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony within himself (1st Jn 5:10)

              Its not like an intellectual guessing game Jab’s, that’s not the gospel truth friend. We can surely know…for sure, for, as JC said ‘You SHALL know the truth and (the consequence of knowing It) shall MAKE you free!

              Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Jab’s. All the best, as always.

  • Jason

    @ matt its in notes. Ill get it to you!

  • Nzo

    Did some funditard site link to us in a poorly thought out digital crusade? These guys aren’t even half as smart as the usual drips.

  • Jason
    • Matt P

      Jason, thank you for posting that link. I’ll discuss a number of points later, but for now I just want to mention E. coli discovering how to synthesize citric acid to refute the “all mutations are harmful” argument implied in the link. Some (very few, on average) mutations are, in fact, beneficial. But those mutations which are beneficial, or at least, not harmful, will tend to be fixed in the DNA of the descendants.

    • UrsaMinor

      I’ll take shot at addressing a couple of points on that website that are crucial to its arguments.

      Evolution requires some way of generating the new information that’s to be switched on or off.

      The implication here is that no mechanism exists to generate new information, and it is simply false. In fact, there are several such mechanisms. Point mutations, insertions, deletions, duplications, transpositions, inversions, and chromosome nondisjunction during meiosis leading to polyploidy. Several of these mechanisms result in a net increase in genetic information.

      Regarding Hox genes:

      The information needed to build a fish fin is vastly different from that needed to build a leg or arm.

      The comparison here is improperly and rather disingenuously being made between apples and oranges. The information needed to build a fish fin is very much like the information needed to build a leg or an arm- and not surprisingly, the genetic sequences needed to do so show considerable signs of homology. This is exactly what you would expect to find if the sequences are descended by modification from a common ancestor.

      The basic information needed to build a whole fish is also very much like the basic information needed to built any other whole vertebrate. In more complex vertebrates, we see bells and whistles that elaborate on the basic form. The extra information needed for those bells and whistles requires additional genes, several mechanisms for generating which are known to exist (see above).

      Special creation does not predict the genetic, developmental or structural homologies that we observe in nature. Evolutionary theory does.

      Even in articles and TV programs touting Hox changes as proof of evolution, they could only come up with an extra functionless pair of wings on flies, or a functionless leg where the antenna should be (antennapedia).

      First off, this is a misrepresentation. The legs produced by attennapedia, for example, are quite functional; they are complete limbs, they have all their parts and they are capable of motion. They cannot be used for normal locomotion as situated, but they are not ‘non-functional’.

      Furthermore, since they are not lethal, the organism lives on. What happens next depends on their utility. It is possible that they could be put to a use other than locomotion (e.g., as feelers for sensing the width of a tunnel the insect is crawling through- a new function that did not exist before the Hox mutation created the misplaced pair of legs). If such a use is found and it is beneficial to the organism, then the trait will spread throughout the population and subsequent evolution will fine-tune the structure for its new role (this is one possible explanation for the evolution of the insect mandible, which is thought to derive from extra copies of either legs or antennae).

      It is also possible that extra limbs like these could be a burden, and if this is the case, the mutation will disappear from the population, and we’re back to where we started.

      The observation that the origin of mandibles can be reasonably explained by Hox mutation is a good argument that sometimes (although not often), Hox mutations can be an advantage to the organism, and provide useful new capabilities.

      It is also entirely unclear why a omnipotent deity would feel constrained to construct all organisms with Hox genes that behave this way. If I were an omnipotent being and I wanted to create forms of life that were supposed to be static in form over time, I’d wouldn’t rig a system like this that could drift from design specs. I would simply create a biology that was unchanging.

  • Jason
  • Bill

    Is it just me or has the quality of trolls been in decline lately?

    • UrsaMinor

      Quality is about the same. Quantity is up.

      • Bill

        Maybe you’re right, and exposure to the same crap arguments (or complete lack of argument) over and over is getting to me.

        • Nzo

          Happens to us all.

  • soffitti

    I suppose that depends on which of the 9,000 odd gods one might be considering. Of course if you ask a Christian, he/she will find an absolutely excellent, if not necessarily reasonable defense to that comment by claiming:
    A. God does all things in time
    B. God will answer your prayer or grant your wish. You just have to wait and be patient.
    C. God woiks in mysterious ways. (Brooklyn version)
    D. You atheist $%*&%$&%@#$%! You should be killed! (Young Christian)

    But you can’t blame Christians for their ways. After all, if you had been brainwashed nearly to complete sterility during your formative years, you would be nearly that insane too. Be glad you are as undamaged as you are young atheist, for if you were not you would not be able to think either.

  • Buckwheat

    Ever notice, me bucko’s, that for every theist comment on here, there are 20 atheist comments? Amazing so few theists know how to write, ain’t it?

    Wait, mebby not.

    They spends their time in churches where the BS collects so deep they can’t find the books what teaches em to write. That’s it.

    Hey, tell one of em that religion is geographical and watch em have a fit, but that’s easy prove stuff huh? Christian aren’t often born in the slums around Baghdad, now are they? Or in an African tribe that lives on the savanna, or on the stepps in Russia, or . . . oh hell, religion is just plain geographical, but it don’t mean a thing to a Christian cause they kin justify anything with jus a little bullshit.

    • timothy mark

      One needs to be respectful of the intellect and knowledge contained and shared on this site. Sentiments are strongly voiced with reason and authoritative expertise. I visit occasionally, get a full dose of subjects to ponder, offer a few opinions and move on. I appreciate the humor but sometimes cringe at the rancor. Few Christians can take on the complexity of the philosophical dilemma posed by the existence of evil and catastrophe. You certainly are in no need of weak fodder to sharpen responses or revisit the problem which is paramount to the conviction so many profess. I certainly lack ability to argue the problem posed by pain of the world in the qualitative manner which would be warranted. Other aspects I can respond to on a relative scale. To which point, and to name just one, Ravi Zacharias one the leading apologetic christian theologians of our day was was born in India. With regards to geography South Korea is an example of amazing growth in a nontraditional Christian nation. As is Indonesia. Pentacostal forms of Christianity are largely responsible for the growth of the religion in Southern Africa parts of Asia especially China. Hope this didn’t come off as a fit.

      • UrsaMinor

        I think much of the rancor is understandable, if not always forgivable. One grows tired of rebutting the very same fallacies over and over and over again. Personally, I try to keep my discourse civil.

        • timothy mark

          Belated Happy Birthday!
          What a way to go off the diet for a day.

      • Sunny Day

        “Hope this didn’t come off as a fit.”

        No worries there I don’t understand what you were trying to say.
        It came off as the usual mish mash of; you believe your faith is true because other people have told you it’s true; some how the rate of growth of religions is supposed to be futher evidence?

        • timothy mark

          Not at all, just not accepting of, you worship according to where you were born or who you were born to in every instance.

      • Dale701

        You should know better, or are you just trying to be dense too?
        You ever heard of Christian Missionaries?
        Yikes, I found a Christian in a Islamic country, this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that where you live has nothing to do with what you believe?
        Your comment riled me up more than the rantings of Jason!

  • Jason

    I was riding this morning and as the sun peaked through the clouds I was amazed to see a rainbow! What got my attention was the vividness of it against the drab gray sky.
    My mind began to wonder if anyone else was seeing this phenomenon…
    .could anyone else see this….could anyTHING else see? My train of thought brought me from the blindness of some unfortunate people to the designed blindness of some lesser organisms. Those trees around me could not see that rainbow, yet it was!
    That led to the thought of all the things that us arrogant humans have no senses able to detect, yet are, and have been proven. Examples include the songs of whales and elephants, and the existence of single celled organisms that until recent times were undetectable!
    Because we have no ability to detect something is not conclusive proof that the thing doesn’t exist. Arrogance is proof of stupidity! The fact is that just as I can not physically/ conclusively prove Gods existence you cannot disprove it.
    My point is that just as you, my friends, are spiritually blind, and can not see the hands of God, those trees could not detect the rainbow phenomena, or me for that matter. That can not prove that I don’t exist. I know that you are smarter than a tree but even you can’t claim to know everything.

    • Nzo

      Translation-

      Nox is right, I know it, but I’m going to pretend my god is real anyway. I’m going to give you this sappy, vomit-inducing anecdote in an attempt to hide from the crushing weight of reason and logic. I’m going to tell you that you don’t have something I have, so that I feel special; this something lets me see things that nothing else in the world can detect. All in all, because I cannot convince you, I’ll hide behind stupid, cliche, unreasonable arguments that ignorant, selfish, stupid people like me have been giving for years. This will show you that I’m right, and you’re wrong.

      • Nzo

        **Continued-

        I’m also going to indoctrinate my children with such indefensible beliefs, and hope that they grow up unable to think critically. I don’t really care that they have a grasp of this world, because, despite a complete lack of evidence, I believe that after they die, they go to a magical place. Their ability to function in any society, save a predominantly christian one, will be hindered by their inability to understand any other viewpoints besides my own.

        /translation

        It’s embarrassing to see grown men/women throw away their integrity by dodging questions, and outright lying, not only to us, but to themselves, to preserve silly magical beliefs.

        • Jason

          This is the problem. You see,and believe what you want to. That is yours to do if you wish but delusion is often treatable.

          • Nzo

            delusion is often treatable

            I agree, and projection is cowardly denial.

    • Len

      So I guess you also accept that the invisible pink unicorn exists – because while I can’t prove she does exist (bless her holy hooves), you can’t prove she doesn’t. Same for vampires. And zombies. And Father Christmas (although I have some theories).

      Seriously though – apart from it being impossible to prove a negative like this, it’s not me making the claim that God exists, so it’s not up to me to provide evidence of his existance. You are making that claim, so you must provide evidence.

      • Jason

        Has your pink unicorn left tracks? Has it ever created anything, given anyone hope,taught anyone to love,comforted anyone? Has it left its signature on ALL of mankind, forever? Has it ever had a book written about it? What about the most books written about it?
        What great faith you have, to believe in something that defies EVERY law of physics! That from nothing came everything! 0=infinity? A 5way year old knows better than that.
        What question am I ignoring? My proof is anything!
        Go ahead mix up the argument again. Say that I may have picked the wrong God. That will not answer where everything came from? The first chapter of John answered that 2000the years ago

        • Jason

          Two questions. You can not confuse with each other. Is God real? Who is He? My God answers that to. He says I AM

          • Len

            1) Not as far as anyone can verify (you’ve already conceded this earlier, so I guess that i agree with you).

            2) No answer is possible – see 1.

        • Len

          Why do you find it so strange when I say that I believe in a (rather obviously) false deity, when you believe in one just as non-existent. You have still shown no evidence of your god. Well, not evidence that stands up if you don’t already believe it.

          • Len

            … evidence that your god is real and is the correct one to worship.

            [sorry - forgot the last bit :-)]

            • Jason

              Two desperate discussions.

            • Jason

              Separate not desperate discussions! Sorry. If you believe that God can’t exist then it is irrelevant who I believe in. Once you know God is we can discuss who He is.

          • Jason

            You have shown no evidence against Him! It is my belief that everything that is points to a creator, you believe that chance explains everything. That is proof. You choose not to see that! Fine but you are wrong!

            • Len

              I’m sure you realise that it’s impossible to prove a negative in the way you’re asking. There’s as much evidence for and against your choice of god as there is for and against the invisible pink unicorn, but you seem OK to reject her without having shown any evidence against her. Same for all other gods that mankind has ever dreamt up; you reject them because you’ve chosen to accept one particular god, without subjecting evidence for his existence to the same level of scrutiny that you subject evidence for other gods to. But please don’t get the idea that you can convince other people to accept your unsubstantiated claims quite so easily.

              And by the way, I believe in evolution, not chance. If you think that evolution is just chance, then I suggest you read up on what it really is.

              And before you ask – many people who post on this site have read the bible all the way through. Although it may have had us fooled for a while, we managed to think for ourselves enough to realise that it was not what we’d been told (preached to) that it was.

            • Len

              … I believe in evolution …

              It would be more correct to say that I accept evolution. Because it doesn’t matter whether I believe in it or not, it will happen anyway.

            • Jason

              Lol, so you are arguing the impossible existence of God by invention of a idol? That is not even almost intellectual!
              You believe in evolution? Me to! But not to the extent that you do. If not chance how do you describe the origin of the first living cell? Why are there multiple different trees in one specific area? Why didn’t you natural selection weed out most of the weaker ones? Why the variety of birds,fish? Why is, if evolution, is humanity weaker than ever? Society is d-evolving, why?
              I’m a little different, if you know you are right, why. No answer. You don’t know. Thank God that you know that you don’t know!

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              Len: “I’m sure you realize that it’s impossible to prove a negative.”

              Jason: “So you are arguing the impossible existence of God?”

              You’re still missing a fairly basic point here Jason.

            • Len

              Jason, I’m not arguing “the impossible existence of god by invention of an idol”. I’m showing that your choice of a god is as arbitrary as anyone choosing any other thing to worship whose existence has also not been demonstrated by evidence.

              Do you believe in micro-evolution but not macro-evolution (I’m guessing, based on your comment)? That’s like saying that I can walk to the fridge, but I can’t walk to Scotland (OK, as I live in Belgium it would be a pretty neat trick for me to walk to Scotland, but I hope you get my point).

              As for the origin of the first living cell, I will happily admit that I don’t know much about that (although other regulars here probably do). Have a look at the abiogenesis stuff on Wikipedia for some background (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis). And yes, there seems to be an element of chance (randomness) involved for the first cell. But after that, evolution would seem more likely related to the improved chances for survival that certain mutations offer. Those ones thrive, relatively speaking.

              You ask “Why are there multiple different trees in one specific area?” If you are really asking that, then you should go and read a little about what evolution actually is. Same for your questions about birds and fish.

              Regarding your comment that “society is de-evolving”: Evolution means that a group of organisms adapts to new conditions by small changes to the gene pool. Changes which are generally only visible over very long periods of time. But society is not subject to evolution in quite that way, because society is a result of much more than just how our genes define us. But I see what you mean with the question – albeit that the change is more related to learned behaviour and cultural norms than to genes. And we can see behaviours and those norms changing over time – often not for the better.

              I really don’t understand what your last paragraph is trying to say.

            • Jason

              Smh. I know that the devolving of society isn’t biological but it stands inside the same lack of thought? I’m sure that I’m also saying that if evolution as you say is the way each species exists, why then the diversity? Why not a superior tree taking over the weaker tree, bird…fish….
              That is not logical! You can’t reasonably explain that? You have to admit that you don’t know again. If you don’t know then you have no authority to teach me truth. Your arguments

            • Custador

              Teh Srvr Munkehs are trying to get me to agree to running all of your posts through the Idiot Fundie Translation Filter. I’m sorely tempted to let them, the little buggers.

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              “I know that the devolving of society isn’t biological but it stands inside the same lack of thought?”

              No. You tried to use your baseless claim about society as an argument against the biological process of evolution.

              You do know that the words you are pretending you didn’t say are still right there on the page right? At this point catching you in a lie is as simple as scrolling up.

            • Len

              Jason, it would appear that you’re the one displaying a significant lack of thought in these exchanges. But anyway … Different types of trees, birds, fish, and everything else evolve – and some of them survive because they exhibit the necessary abilities to survive in their environment. The rest don’t survive. Evolution doesn’t stop just because it’s found a successful configuration for something. Please, before you talk any more about evolution, at least read a little about it. I don’t know much, but I try to read and understand things, so at least I can discuss them a little.

              Ignorance itself is no problem, it just means that you haven’t learned (or maybe haven’t had the chance to learn) something. But wilful ignorance is a problem. That is, ignoring what you’ve been told, ignoring advice to read a little about something, ignoring the chance to educate yourself about something, and then responding with something really daft.

              Jason, I’m sorry to say this but your condescending and, frankly, dumb way of responding doesn’t really lead to good dialogue. But you’ve shown many times that dialogue is not your goal – you just want to think you’re scoring points by ignoring what we’re telling you and then acting as if we’ve given you no answers. Too bad.

          • Daniel Florien

            Jason, please show me some evidence that god is not an elephant inhabiting Pluto. I fear that this is the case. Thank you.

            • Jason

              We are way past that. Read

            • Ty

              Wow. There’s just no arrogant like dumb and arrogant, is there?

        • Devysciple

          What great faith you have, to believe in something that defies EVERY law of physics! That from nothing came everything! 0=infinity? A 5way year old knows better than that.

          1. Something comes from nothing all the time.
          2. We have a few theories how the universe might have come into existence.
          3. You find it unbelievable that the universe in its complexity came into being by mere chance, yet you have no problem accepting that an incredibly more complex being existed forever (which in itself is meaningless, since time only began at the big bang).
          4. If god existed, and if he did so before he presumably created time, he could not have created anything.
          5. Even if you find a way out of #4, god still can’t create a universe out of nothing.

          Get your “facts” and your logic straight, and then come back to argue. I am tired of the same old arguments from ignorance.

          • Jason

            That is 5the of the most ignorant arguments that I have ever herd. 1) like what? You can give no examples of something coming from nothing. 2)3) what banged? Where did it come from? At lest the other people on this page have the depth of thought to realize the complexity of the world, and not just flippantly assume that random chance isnt at least a leap of faith. 4+5) why? Because you say? God is not in a box. He did what He pleased. John chapter one gives an answer for this. I know that it is hard for you to read a Bible but it’ll be good research for you.

            • Ty

              Jason, sweetie, you’re not up for this. You should stop now.

              You read like you’re about 13. There’s nothing wrong with being 13. But you’re not going to win these arguments. You just don’t know what you’re talking about.

              1) He links to an example of something coming from nothing. You should read it. But the simple explanation is that ‘space’ is not empty. Virtual particles are appearing and disappearing all the time. The only rule is that no new energy or matter can be created. These virtual particles exist in pairs that annihilate each other shortly after appearing. But the fact remains that things appear from nothing and return to nothing quite often, as long as the net energy remains zero, no laws of the universe are broken. Read up on Hawking radiation, the evaporation of black holes, etc for more info on this phenomenon.

              2) We don’t know what the initial cause of the big bang was, and it may be possible that we’ll never know, because for all intents and purposes time started at that point. However, it’s the model that most closely matches the data we have.

              3) Chance does not mean what you think it means. For example, solar systems seem complex. However, brownian motion and gravity will ensure that no gas cloud is ever uniformly dense. Once you have pockets of greater density, they will begin to attract more material to themselves. At a certain level of density, nuclear fusion will begin. The star thus created will burn fast and die young, having forged heavy materials in its heart. It will explode, throwing those heavy materials into the space around it. Often, there will be sufficient gases for collapse and fusion to begin again, and the heavier material thrown into orbit around the new second generation star will get pulled into stable orbits, eventually coalescing into smaller bodies orbiting the star. Viola, solar system. See, it appears to complex to happen by ‘chance’ but once you understand the mechanics you realize that it isn’t chance, it’s inevitable.

              What you are doing is called argument from ignorance. You assume that because you do not understand something, it therefore can not be true. This is called a fallacy. You should look that up before you pick any more fights here.

            • Custador

              But you still expect us to believe that God is the something that came from nothing. You’re a bit of a thicky, aren’t you Jason?

            • Jason

              Oh great genius! I’m so mesmerized by those accusation of my inferiority! Thanks for your factual points. 1+2 are theory, do you know that theory mean, oh great brain?
              3 all sounds like complexity to me. Make me one and show me. Sounded so simple, make two daddy!
              Explain how you create life? Simply? DNA that even you can’t grasp? How the human mind works? My friend, with your depth of knowledge and use of “big words”,tell me why you haven’t cured cancer? Could it be that you don’t know how? That you don’t understand the problem enough to fix it. Not that you would if you could. You may then know and understand the complexity of the world you live in and how nirvana gets no ones attention? Ty my friend regurgitation of information makes you look smart, however it cannot insurance your ability to think. Thanks pumpkin!

            • Len

              tell me why you haven’t cured cancer? Could it be that you don’t know how?

              Why hasn’t your god? Doesn’t he know?

            • Jason

              Len, if you can and will read the statement again. I think you can see an answer to that rhetoric question just behind your quote. S l o w l y

            • Len

              tell me why you haven’t cured cancer? Could it be that you don’t know how? That you don’t understand the problem enough to fix it. Not that you would if you could.[my emphasis]

              So you’re saying that your god doesn’t understand the problem. That he wouldn’t fix it if he could. Great deity you worship.

            • Custador

              Sorry, but can I just point out that we can cure cancer. Not all cancers, but a lot of them. In fact, overall survival to cure in Britain for everything that could be called “cancer” is now nearly 90%. That’s up from less than 10% in the 1960s. So yeah. Yay medicine, screw your God and the mythology he rode in on.

            • Ty

              “Ty my friend regurgitation of information makes you look smart, however it cannot insurance your ability to think. ”

              More word salad. You are not only ignorant, you take great pride in your ignorance. This is sad.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      The ability to see things that aren’t there is not a superpower.

      • http://fugodeus.com Nox

        And does anyone else find it an interesting contrast that these apologists always insist we take their word on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, then when evidence against their god is brought up they invariably complain that it is not absolute conclusive proof against all possible gods?

        @Ken Ham and Jason,

        Were you there?

      • UrsaMinor

        The ability to see things that aren’t there is not a superpower.

        Perhaps not, but the Dunning-Kruger effect makes a pretty invincible force field. It has been fascinating, in a watching-a-train-wreck sort of way, to watch it at work here on this thread.

  • Jason

    Merry Christmas!

    • Nzo

      You mean Saturnalia.

      • Bill

        Festivus!

        • UrsaMinor

          Actually, today is the first day of Pancha Ganapati. Are you wearing yellow and making amends with your family members?

          • Len

            I’ve got my magic underwear on – does that count?

    • Matt P

      Boas Festus!

  • Jason

    Unreasonable faith is this: From everything came nothing. We know everything, yet we don’t know anything. Our guess is right because we say. God cannot exist because you will not let your self believe! You will not answer straight because you refuse to think!
    Your only destroying your only hope.

    • Ty

      That was word salad.

      • UrsaMinor

        It also sounds a lot more like Jason’s own argument inverted and projected on us than anything that we have actually said.

        I especially like the claim that we’ve claimed that we know everything. That right there tells you that he hasn’t been listening to a word we’ve been saying.

        I don’t know about you, Ty, but if I’m going to be despised and pitied by someone, I’d prefer to be despised and pitied for something that I am actually guilty of.

        • Jason

          I do pity you. But I will never despise you. For the record!

          • Custador

            Personally I think you’re brainwashed, which makes you worthy of pity. But you lack the capacity to realise it, which makes you not worth the effort of despising.

            So I guess it’s mutual.

  • Jason

    I’m gaining insight and experience discussing our reasons for what we believe or not. Thank you for both.

    • Sunny Day

      Your own words in this discussion show you to be a liar.

      • Jason

        You misunderstood! I’m learning that “you” have nothing. No real answers. I was nervous about your intellect! You can’t even handle me. Yet have all the answers? In other words I’m more confident now! Tks

        • Mogg

          What was that you said, Ursa? Dunning-Kruger effect, you say?

          • Ty

            I’m guessing ignorant, home schooled, and about 13.

            • UrsaMinor

              Home-schooling is not necessarily a bad thing. I know some parents who are doing a much better job than the public schools. And if I were a parent, I would probably choose to home-school my own kids, given the current state of public education in my area. Kids need to learn practical stuff like English, math and critical thinking skills, not to mention getting an overview of history so that they can see current world events in context. This sort of stuff is simply not being provided by the public school system in my area right now.

            • Darwin

              Being 13 is also not necessarily a bad thing. It was the age at which I read Catch-22. The moment I read Yossarian’s rant was the moment I abandoned the last vestiges of faith I still had and decided to slowly start to distance myself from religion and gently break my decision to my parents.

            • UrsaMinor

              After the last couple of posts, I’m revising my estimated of his age downwards to about 10.

        • http://fugodeus.com Nox

          So you announced in your opening post that atheists can’t have any argument, and now after being presented with fifty arguments that you have completely failed to address, you’ve “learned” that atheists “have nothing”.

          In case you missed that list that you requested and have so far not acknowledged seeing, here it is again.

          Your claim to have not encountered evidence against god might have slightly more weight if you weren’t transparently refusing to admit the evidence that has already been presented to you.

        • Len

          Jason, it’s clear that you haven’t understood many (or perhaps any) of the posts made in response to your posts. Or maybe you didn’t read them. Either way, until you start to think for yourself (and scrutinize your beliefs), you won’t be in a position to even argue your case properly, let alone convince anyone that you’re correct about anything.

          Good luck.

          And Merry Christmas :-)

        • Jabster

          Listen wank stain boy … you were fecking stupid when you starting posting here and it’s gone down hill from there. Either start answering some of the questions put to you or just piss off.

          P.s are all pastors as thick as you?

          • Jason

            Try this. I was being tested. A little like questioning my faith. You have, not only, not given me any reason to abandon my faith, but let me reinforce it.
            What can you offer?

            • Len

              How about freedom from the chains of religion.

            • Jason

              Len, I don’t expect you to try to understand. I trust that God cares for me like a father who wants the best for me. So far I haven’t found this relationship to be oppressive. I posted an explanation the other day. It is not so much religion as a relationship. I live for God because he freed me from the addictions your freedoms afforded me. Addiction that nearly cost me everything. It’s love. And gratitude!

            • Len

              Why don’t you expect me to try to understand? Are you projecting your ways onto me?

              I am trying to understand you – and I think I’m doing a pretty good job. Because I also remember how I was when I was a believer. Just as narrow minded, just as sure that God was real. Just as scared to look deeper, think harder, learn more.

              Sorry, but the line “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” (and all variations) was stupid the first time someone said it and it just gets dumber the more it’s used. It shows a marked lack of understanding of what a relationship actually is – for example, a relationship includes two-way communication. Can you honestly say that your god speaks to you? Really, really honestly? In the deep, dark night, scary and alone honestly? That any voice you hear in your head is not just your own conscience? Has that voice ever told you anything that you didn’t know before? Think hard.

              I’m glad for you that you’re free from your earlier addictions, but I hope you’re not just swapping one set of chains (ie, addiction) for another (ie, religion).

              Anyway, I’m out for a few days – yay Christmas :-)

        • Bill

          Please don’t feed the trolls.

          Somebody had to say it.

  • Nzo

    “Discussion” is usually a word reserved for an examining arguments to come to reasonable conclusions. You seem to be under the illusion that your posts merit any examination, or lead to any reasonable conclusions. This idea is false.

    Your contributions roughly equate to shoving your fingers in your ears, and shouting, “lalalalalala” as loud as you can. You’ve dodge questions, pretended to have a point, and attempted, pathetically, to psychoanalyze those that disagree with you.

    • Nzo

      Meant as a reply to the above post of Jason’s.

    • Jason

      Have you answered mine. What would you like to know,lottery numbers?

      • Matt P

        I’d love to know the winning ones. Do you have them? Can you pm me? I’d rather not spread it across the internet.

      • Nzo

        Your questions have been answered numerous times, in great detail, from more than a few people here. Your claim about us not having answers is obviously a cowardly evasion of the truths before you.

        It’s apparent that you chose long ago to leave your dignity behind, for a fairy tale world.

        It’s clowns like you, unable to answer even a single response to your bullsh*t, that your god chose to defend your faith? How sad is that? Omnipotence isn’t what it used to be.

        • UrsaMinor

          I think you should give it a rest, Nzo. This one is so inept at discourse, he couldn’t defend his own religion if God himself wrote the script for him and Jesus ran the teleprompter.

          • Nzo

            Aww, do I hafta? *sulks away to the doghouse*

      • Theory_of_I

        @Jason, adherence to certain principals is generally expected in serious discussion or debate.
        This is how you have fared so far:

        Jason’s scores (decile scale) on the following criteria:

        Reading comprehension………………………………………….. 3
        Understanding and use of logic……………………………….. 0
        Originality of argument…………………………………………… 0
        Willingness/ability to answer specific questions………. 0
        Provides appropriate evidence for claims………………… 0
        Responses clear and organized……………………………….. 0
        Strong and persuasive arguments given…………………… 0
        Reasonable defense against objections to claims……… 0
        Can distinguish belief bias from reasoned thought…… 0
        Is able to think independently and undogmatically…. 0

        Score: 3/100
        Grade: FAIL

  • Michael

    Who says I’m not hairy. My little brothers the apes are just as important as we seem to think we are. We are so egocentric that even with the ever growing scientific knowledge of the universe, we still place ourselves in the center, big or tiny. Religion is OUR CONSTRUCT and therefore dangerous. Thought based on ignorance has always proven deadly. Has that got anything to do with our seeming innate need for a spiritual answer as exhibited by not magic but by our music, poetry and art. Ask our brothers in this land (Australia) about the dreamtime. Not a religion not a philosophical construct but a desire to understand our place in the vastness, not insignificant or terribly significant. The only “religion” that seems to want to closely examine our ignorance seems to be Buddhism, but that too can be a trap made by ourselves. Luckily it wants to deconstruct its own religiosity. That is why the other religions distrust buddhism. Here is a little poem for our friends the Atheists.

    Ode to all atheists
    Long may you think, ”This is it”?
    And questions of WHY WHO OR WHAT
    Don’t trouble your little heads.
    Just keep chewing, breeding (for the tax base) and shiting,
    Thence go quietly out the back door, with minimum fuss.
    YOU ARE RIGHT
    The spirit is useless to you,
    And unless music, art and the enjoyment of the
    Airs of the Muses serve a prosaic end,
    Let it be just that, meanness to a pointless bent.

    Ignore the human millennia struggle, the wasteful need to say
    Why me. Too stupid are billions not to acknowledge
    Your plea “this is it my little chick a deas”

    Be happy in your selves,
    Don’t ask of others WHY do you
    Believe. They cannot answer
    For you that question, if
    You have no capacity for that
    Type of reflection.

    Yours truly, Michael

    • Nzo

      “blah blah, I’m the buddhist version of John C, blah blah”

      Meandering verbosity : making a point :: A butterfly’s flight : making a straight line

  • Clint Baxley

    The problem with this argument is that evil cannot be proven either. God is the answer to the invention of “evil”. Both are imaginary.

  • adamfludd

    Hi everyone: I’ve never been here before, but I have to say that reading these comments has been hugely entertaining! I’ve spent about 2 hours, captivated. This discussion is better than Breaking Bad.

    I’d like to talk to Jason for a few minutes, though:

    Jason,

    Hi there. I imagine that you are expecting anyone who responds to you here to be an atheist who only wants to ridicule your point of view, and I promise you I’m not– just so you don’t stop reading right away. I do hope you take this comment seriously and read it very carefully, because I’m going to try to help you out.

    First is a touchy issue, and it’s going to sound critical, so please don’t get defensive– I’m not saying this to ridicule you, but to help you make a stronger case. Here goes: your writing is really not very good, and that makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Even if you used the best arguments, the most convincing examples, the most moving personal testimony imaginable, your thoughts are going to seem kind of dopey when there are misspellings, bad grammar, and misused words in them. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of the writing mistakes you’ve made (not counting obvious mobile-related typos and punctuation errors):

    “offence” is spelled “offense”
    “their is” is spelled “there is”
    “a argument” should be “an argument” (later, “a educated man”, “a optimist”)
    “profit Mohommed” should be “prophet”
    “wifes” should be “wives”
    (again) “they choose to worship a profit” where you mean “prophet”
    (I’m not normally counting incorrect usage of commas, but) “who’s ideas” should be “whose ideas”
    “freedom and equality reins” where you mean “reigns”. You find reins on horses.
    “through out the window” where you mean “throw”
    “your wrong” where you mean “you’re wrong” (several times)
    “you have made an idle of your ideas” where you mean “idol”
    “drawl” instead of “draw” (several times)
    “I’ve tried to elude to” where you mean “allude to”
    “use to” instead of “used to”
    “order from ciaos” instead of “chaos” (possibly a typo)
    “3 mills a day” where you mean “meals”
    “cas system” where you mean “caste system”
    “me to!” instead of “me too” (several times)
    “that I’ve ever herd” instead of “heard”

    Now, first I must apologize for the length and detail of the list. I’m a linguist, and compiling and analyzing examples is what I do. Secondly, you’re probably a little annoyed at my nit-picking. What’s my point? So there are some typos– you were typing fast, on the go, and didn’t have time to spell check, right? The point I’m trying to call to your attention is that the kind of arguing you are trying to do here requires a lot of serious thought, a lot of deep reading, and a lot of attention to subtlety and detail. Your writing leads people to believe– even if this is not the case– that you are a sloppy thinker, because, to put it a little harshly, you are a sloppy writer. The people on this site might be asking themselves, “How can Jason base his whole worldview on a Book, a Text, a written message that he has to read, when he can’t distinguish the meanings of words?” And– even though I don’t want you to see me as being on “their side”, I have to agree! Some of the mistakes above are no doubt just carelessness, but some of them (sorry to be so blunt) point to a pretty serious inadequacy in your understanding of English, and could drastically affect your ability to understand something you’ve read. For instance, what if you were reading an important piece of text, and it said “elude”– what would you think that meant? It actually means “avoid, escape”, but it appears from your usage above that you think this means “to refer to” (allude). That is a pretty serious problem for understanding what an author is saying, don’t you think? It means almost the opposite– and you accidentally made a joke at your own expense when you said you were trying to “elude (to) your reasoning”– you meant “refer to” but you actually said you were trying to ESCAPE reasoning!

    Now, if you agree with that, you can imagine how alarming it is to see someone say “profit” instead of “prophet”, when he is making the claim that he has researched Islam. Again, not to be blunt or rude, but I have to ask myself, how did you do this research if it didn’t involve reading enough material to know that “prophet” is “prophet”? In fact, it seems that you should know that just from reading the Bible, since that word is there hundreds of times.

    Long story short, the reason spelling matters is because it stands to reason that, after a certain number of times seeing the word “prophet” written down, it would stick in your mind that it is spelled “prophet.” The fact that it hasn’t stuck, suggests that you haven’t actually READ that word, but just heard it. I’m not accusing, and once more, I’m sorry for being so rough with you, but the picture you have painted here is of someone who has listened to people talking about things, but hasn’t actually done much reading himself. There are several other examples I pointed out above that suggest the same idea: “cas system” seems like how someone might spell the word if they had only heard it but never seen it written.

    You can see how this directly undermines the claim that you’ve done research on these other religions. I hope you’re honest enough to know that I’m telling you the truth at this point, without trying to humiliate or insult you.

    So, based on the above, it’s time to come clean just a little bit. Keep in mind that this does not mean admitting defeat, admitting that you are wrong, admitting that God does not exist– but you really should admit that you have been less than honest in saying you’ve done certain kinds of research. The most extreme example of this, ahem, let’s say, “fudging” the truth, is when you said you studied the Bible in the original languages. Now Jason, I read Ancient Greek and New Testament Greek very well. I have a degree in it, along with linguistics and philosophy. Reading Greek requires an extraordinary attention to detail, the ability to distinguish between forms of words that differ by only one letter– not even these Latin letters, by the way, but a whole different, confusing alphabet– and the ability to remember hundreds of irregular forms of words. (You left some evidence of how you handled one Greek word, the name of the writer Josephus, whom you called “Jocephious”). If you had studied Greek, frankly, you would be a much better writer in English. You would not equate the Greek/Latin nominative masculine ending -us with the English suffix -ous. Without a better ability to operate in your own native language (I feel a bit guilty for being so blunt!), you simply do not have the ability to handle an immense task like New Testament Greek.

    Now, I want to give you credit and I want your ideas to be taken seriously so that everyone gets the most out of this important discussion, but I have to corner you here– I think you fibbed a little bit in saying you studied Greek, not to mention Hebrew, and that it would help your credibility out a million-fold by admitting that to the people here. By making that claim, you have supported their opinion– even if it’s not true!– that you are just spewing a lot of empty talk. Again, I’m not trying to offend or insult, but to help out.

    Moving on.

    The next problem is also a little harsh, so bear with me. Several of your opponents here have made the comment that you have offered little to no evidence or arguments to support your point of view. And again, sadly, I have to agree with them. Excluding political statements, comments on scientific theories, and personal attacks (e.g. “You should have cured cancer if you’re so smart”), here is a list of the arguments you have attempted to make to support your theological views (paraphrased in the clearest, most charitable version I can understand):

    1) “You wouldn’t criticize something you don’t believe in. Therefore, some part of you must believe in God but be resistant to Him.”

    2) “God must exist because sometimes earthquakes don’t happen.”

    3) “There is enough possible information in a strand of DNA that, if written out, it would span the world three times. Therefore God exists.”

    4) “Old Testament writings perfectly predicted the events in the life of Jesus, even seemingly contradictory events.”

    5) “If you found a watch in a desolate place, you would assume from the complexity and the apparent purpose of the mechanism that it had a creator. Yet a living cell is much more complex than a watch. We should therefore conclude, for the same reasons, that it had a creator.”

    6) “An ancient writer, Josephus, provided independent (i.e. non-Christian) historical evidence for the existence (and miracles?) of Jesus.”

    7) “It is reasonable to believe in George Washington because of historical documents that mention him. Therefore it is equally reasonable to believe in Jesus because there are historical documents that mention him.”

    8) “Trees cannot perceive a rainbow, but that does not mean the rainbow does not exist. Likewise, there are certainly things that human beings cannot perceive, but that does not mean that they do not exist. The fact that there is no evidence for something is not evidence against it.” (Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, in the traditional formulation).

    9) (In response to mention of the Invisible Pink Unicorn) “There is no evidence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, but there is evidence of God. You are arguing that God does not exist by inventing something else that does not exist, and this is invalid.”

    10) “The first chapter of the Gospel of John gives an [unspecified] answer to many of the objections made here.”

    11) (scattered and implied) “It is unreasonable to believe that something comes from nothing. Therefore God exists.”

    I’m not going to respond to these point by point– that’s been done and done again in the comments above, and it appears that you aren’t concerned to defend these statements after you make them. What I will do is ask you to very, very carefully think about these arguments and you will see that they do not stand up to scrutiny. Even if– ESPECIALLY if– what you’re saying is true! Think about this: What if you’re right? What if you’re telling these atheists the Truth, but because you defend it with an invalid and frankly foolish argument, they decide (correctly) that your logical skills are not up to par and your conclusion shouldn’t be trusted?

    What if I said to you: “Barack Obama is often on the television. George W. Bush was also often on the television. George W. Bush was president. Therefore Barack Obama is president.” My conclusion is correct, isn’t it? But my reasoning is wrong, wrong, wrong. That is a very bad argument I just made, even though my final statement is right. The problem with this is that, even if I did get it right, it was just by accident. I could have made the same argument about Regis Philbin and “proved” that he was president. If I made this argument to someone who didn’t know who the president was, they would be absolutely right not to trust me, because my reasoning is shockingly wrong. The chance I would come to the right conclusion through this kind of reasoning is very small, so it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that I’m probably wrong.

    Your arguments above– even if they’re correct in the end– are flawed in exactly the same way. Just to take a few examples: first, the argument I’ve listed as number 7. You seem to claim that if it is reasonable to believe in George Washington, then it is reasonable to believe in Jesus because both beliefs are based on the same evidence (i.e. historical documents). Yet this is a very misleading equivocation. There is vastly, vastly, vastly more evidence for the existence of George Washington than there is for Jesus: there are personal letters, paintings and drawings, contemporary accounts by actual acquaintances and eyewitnesses, copious official documents, genealogies from currently living family members, physical evidence in the form of personal effects (e.g. dentures!), handwriting that coincides across a variety of written texts, books, pamphlets, speeches, and memos written by the man himself, and a huge amount of historical circumstance that would be utterly unexplainable if the man himself had not existed. (“Why do so many historical sources, all the way back to contemporary times, agree that the first president of the United States was named George Washington, was born here, lived there, had this middle name, participated in this battle, took these actions, wrote these foreign dignitaries, etc.– and why does all of this historical documentation coincide perfectly with the large amount of physical evidence?”) On the other hand, the existence of Jesus is predicated on (from earliest to latest) a) the writings of Paul (ca. 50 AD, 20 years after the crucifixion would have happened), who never met him and makes no mention of any biographical details of Jesus’ life; b) the testimony of the Gospel writers, who wrote from the 70′s AD until the end of the first century or a bit later, and who gradually added detail about Jesus’ life, family, and childhood; and c) a few first-century sources, which do little to confirm the actual existence of the man. Tacitus, for instance, merely explains that there is a group of religious believers in the city of Rome who claim to worship a man named “Chrestus”, and, I’m sorry to inform you, but classical scholars (of which I am one) have concluded that the Flavian testimony– that of ‘Jocephious’– is a forgery. It interrupts a coherent story right in the middle of a sentence, and makes statements that no orthodox Jew would make. It was clearly inserted into the text after the fact. All in all, this is not very strong evidence at all for the existence of Jesus. It certainly casts doubt on the historical veracity of claims made about him. There is a lot more evidence for even minor figures in Roman history for roughly the same time period: we have books and letters written by Caesar himself, Roman records of many executed criminals, contemporary political commentaries on many religious upstarts much less significant than Jesus is supposed to have been, and yet almost no trace of Jesus except for a handful of documents that appeared decades after he lived. That’s not good. That’s not George Washington-level evidence.

    Next, the Invisible Pink Unicorn. The person who mentioned that– I shouldn’t have to tell you this– does not believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn. This kind of argument is a type of reductio ad absurdum that ironically points out the following:

    “Christians say that their God must exist because no one can prove He doesn’t. No one can prove that the Invisible Pink Unicorn exists. Therefore, by Christian reasoning, it must exist.”

    And, my friend, they are right.

    You need to offer a better argument. The fact that you did not respond to the arguments these people have presented, that you did not answer their questions (even when several of them seem to have presented you with detailed lists of arguments and questions to which you could respond), and that you failed to grasp the point of some of the arguments here, makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about– even if you do!! It doesn’t help that you present Paley’s Watchmaker argument, which is in every beginning philosophy AND biology textbook, every introductory discussion of any of these issues, as a new and profound piece of information, as if they would have never heard of it! You presented it as if it was your own thought, didn’t name what it was, and clearly did not realize that it was part of the basic toolkit for discussing this topic. All of this serves to prove what the people here have come to believe about theists.

    This is not the way to show people the way to the Lord. In fact, it makes the Lord look like something that only someone who can’t think straight would believe in. Again, sorry for the harsh words, but you need to hear this.

    Now, after pointing out some logical flaws, I have to keep going and bring up another issue that concerned me greatly. You said that you are a pastor. Yet, while many of the atheists on this site have quoted specific Bible verses, you have been quite vague about your Biblical references for things. Here are your actual Bible quotes throughout the foregoing posts, and please note the level of accuracy with which you have been able to direct your readers to your sources:

    “Look up Revelation 22 verses 4-8 or somewhere in there.”

    “God… wants it ‘to be well with you’, Deuteronomy 5:33 I think.”

    Honestly Jason? A pastor? At this point I really hope you are lying, because it makes my skin crawl to think that you are teaching people about the Bible. No apologies for being harsh here– I’m saying this in all honesty, with no malice, with only the desire to help you: Please, if you’re really a pastor, please, please stop. Resign. Go to seminary, go to classes, work on your understanding. Please do not try to get people to believe in Christianity based on the kinds of things that you are talking about here. The things you have said– this is tough love– are not a solid foundation for faith, and someone smarter than yourself would have to abandon Christianity if these were his or her reasons. That sounds brutal, but it’s the truth. If you care about your kids’ spirituality, I think the best advice is to let someone other than yourself do the leading. Please take these words into consideration.

    The last thing I want to bring up is your history. There are several places in the above comments where you make it very clear that your faith, which is very clearly not based on “research”, logical chains of inference, Biblical knowledge, historical knowledge, or scientific knowledge, is actually based on the kind of person you were before you had faith in Christianity, and the fact that your faith has changed you as a person. Weaving together several of your quotes:

    “For the record I was once one of you. Once upon a time I was so angry with life I too tried to believe that God didn’t exist. See I have lived one of those lives that either make a good case for killing ones self. I was to the point once that I’d go to sleep begging for death and wake up cursing the light (or God if he was putting me through life). I live for God because he freed me from the addictions your freedoms afforded me. Addiction that nearly cost me everything. I found Him to be real and personal delivering me from bondages that nothing else could have. What if God could change your life as he has mine and you could no longer beg for it to end and wake up cursing God because it didn’t end? What do you have to lose? The rage and bitterness?”

    Now Jason, this is very personal stuff. It’s very moving and very important, and it’s wonderful that something has happened to change who you were and what your life was like. But here’s what you have to understand, and these are my final thoughts: Not everyone is the kind of person who hates their life, who wants to die, who cannot control themselves, who takes drugs and ‘self-medicates’, who is full of rage and bitterness. I know you imagine that anyone who lacks Jesus must be in the same state you were when you didn’t have him. You believe that all atheists are tortured, bitter, furious, and lost, and turn away from God out of defiance for their own hurt. But that is not the case, my friend! Some people are happy, and good! Some people have enough sense to avoid becoming addicted to drugs without the belief in some kind of supernatural Father– they just live the way they should, without any threat or carrot on a stick in front of them, without any desperate feelings of longing for love and acceptance.

    The description you have given of yourself is the description of a sick person, an addict, a person with a hole inside that burns and gnaws at you until it is filled, and if you can’t fill it with God, you would have to fill it with something to dull the pain of existence,. But for us, for the people on this page– and yes, I’ll tell you finally, I AM one of them– for us, the world doesn’t hurt. We aren’t bitter, we aren’t full of rage. You are seeing some people on this page who are annoyed at Christian dishonesty, Christian stupidity, and Christian arrogance, all of which you have exhibited in purest form, but these people are not angry at God. They’re angry at people like you, who can’t live their lives without a mentally-crippling Holy Crutch, and who cynically believe that everyone else needs the same crutches you do. You’re in a wheelchair and you refuse to believe that others can walk. And you dare call your worldview “Good News.”

    Jason, I’m still not trying to insult you or ridicule you. I’m saying this, though you can’t still be believing me at this point, out of care for you, and compassion: The reason you believe in God the way you do is because there is something wrong with you, and the belief to some extent fixes it. Good for you. Nevertheless, for the sake of your family, I still recommend getting some help, preferably not from another insane religious person.

    And in the meantime, you have to stop making a fool of yourself in discussions like this one. I genuinely felt bad for you.

    — —

    P.S.: I will be a flat-out dick about this though: Who the hell calls Led Zeppelin a “he”? You wrong fa dat bruh.

    • kholdom0790

      Cue the slow hand clapping gif….. dude, that was beautiful.

    • Nzo

      Well played sir. Do stick around, as I’m certain your prose is widely appreciated.

    • Jabster

      That’s all well and good but I think you’ll find that it’s ‘offence’ not ‘offense’. Just because the colonies have bastardised the mother tongue doesn’t make it right.

      • adamfludd

        Now THIS is a debate I love! Much more light-hearted. In the spirit of good-spirited transatlantic rivalry:

        You’ll find that “offense” derives from Latin ob+fendere– specifically the past participle offensus. At the time of the linguistic divide between the States and the motherland, we were still spelling it with the proper s, but since, you chaps have substituted an incorrect c. ;)

        • Jabster

          Well who would you choose to decide which is the correct version – a language invented by a bunch of people from countries that I could probably buy with the spare change in my pocket or the country that gave civilisation to the world, whether that wanted or not, and only asked in return to strip them of all the resources, enslave some of them and kill the rest?

          Oh and I’m dubious whether the Romans even used Latin. Consider the following and tell me they aren’t speaking English:

          ACT V
          SCENE I. The plains of Philippi.

          Enter OCTAVIUS, ANTONY, and their army
          OCTAVIUS
          Now, Antony, our hopes are answered:
          You said the enemy would not come down,
          But keep the hills and upper regions;
          It proves not so: their battles are at hand;
          They mean to warn us at Philippi here,
          Answering before we do demand of them.

          ANTONY
          Tut, I am in their bosoms, and I know
          Wherefore they do it: they could be content
          To visit other places; and come down
          With fearful bravery, thinking by this face
          To fasten in our thoughts that they have courage;
          But ’tis not so.

          Enter a Messenger

          Messenger
          Prepare you, generals:
          The enemy comes on in gallant show;
          Their bloody sign of battle is hung out,
          And something to be done immediately.

          • Jabster

            … dooooh “whether they wanted it or not” – English never was my strong point!

          • Custador

            Well argued Jabster. You’ve made a cogent and lucid defense of the Queen’s British English. I believe you’ve earned the right to a victory cup of Darjeeling, and a scone. With clotted cream and strawberry jam. That’s JAM, for all you colonials. Not “jelly”. JAM. Butter on my scones please, Jabster. You be mother.

            • Jabster

              Scones, jam and clotted cream … now there’s a good combination. Pot of tea by the side and that’s how the empire was made. Now fortunately for dinner I’m having roast beef; a proper meal and not the sort of foreign muck that we often see.

              Anyway where were we … the problem with the yanks is that they’re so desperately embarrassed by turning up late for the last two world wars that they are passionate about making sure they’re really early for the next one.

            • Custador

              And losing almost every war they’ve been involved with since, of course.

            • UrsaMinor

              Oh, pish! We haven’t made a formal declaration of war on anyone since 1942. Everything since then has simply been an ‘incident’ involving Congressionally authorized use of military resources.

            • Custador

              Please feel free to mentally amend my comment to “And losing almost every ‘incident’ involving Congressionally authorized use of military resources they’ve been involved with since, of course.” ;-)

          • UrsaMinor

            Give it up, guys. The control of English passed out of British hands more than a millennium ago. If this were not so, then there would not be nearly so much naturalized Norman French in our vocabulary.

            • Custador

              Nonsense. We’re just dividing and ruling every other language, because that’s how we roll.

    • Custador

      I don’t know who this new guy is but I like him already. I wonder if we can get him to breed with Nox so that their offspring can produce super-scholarly walls of text a million words long? That’d be amazing!

  • Theory_of_I

    @adamfludd:

    Welcome, hope you will find this site to your liking. Lucidity and clarity are much admired around these parts.

  • adamfludd

    Thanks for the warm welcome everyone, and sorry for the long-windedness. I’d love to stick around and participate.

    • Nzo

      Keep that long-windedness as long as it suits you. We like long posts if they’re reasonable and not in violation of the Wall of Text laws.

    • UrsaMinor

      I think it’s nice that somebody had the patience to lay it out calmly like that for Jason. Sadly, though, I suspect that he’s already left the building and will never see it.

  • John C

    Dismantling Jason is easy. Perhaps next time he should try picking on someone his own size.

    ;)

    • Theory_of_I

      Easy? like Sisyphus you mean? Well Jason may be gone, but you’re still here and rolling. Ah well, as the rocks of hell go, some are more tolerable than others.

    • Custador

      John, with the best will in the world, you’re not even orbiting the same planetary body. Arguing with you is like punching fog – You may have noticed that we’ve kind of stopped bothering!

      • John C

        Good thing too since ‘arguing’ was never the goal anyway ;)

        • Custador

          I don’t know why I love you, John C, but I do. And no, it’s not because of Jesus. Shush now.

          • John C

            Ha, your secrets safe with me, Custy. The feelings mutual friend. All my best, always.

    • adamfludd

      I disagree a little bit– it’s actually much more difficult to set things out in such a way that even a… less-than-apt, let’s say, person will see that they’ve been beaten. The problem is not one of logic, but of getting through the automatic assumption that the only reason someone would disagree with him is because they’re angry, disturbed, or whatever. When someone can think clearly, discussion is a much more straightforward issue.

      Not that I think that guy is going to read any of it– like UrsaMinor said, it appears he hasn’t been here in forever. Which makes the whole thing a bit masturbatory on my part, but oh well…

      John C, I’m not familiar with your views like everyone else but I’d be glad to have it out if you’re up for it. I’m itching for a debate that’s interesting because of the actual ideas involved, and not just the psychology!

      • John C

        Gosh, I don’t know, Adam. Given the size and scope of your last offering, do you think its possible you could keep the word count down to, oh I don’t know, say a few words shy of Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ next time, maybe? Ha, I’m just messing with you friend, I can get a little long in the tooth, err uh keypad myself at times.

        So, what do you imagine that I believe? Or don’t believe?

        All the best, Adam.

        • adamfludd

          Hi again– sorry for taking so long to get back to you. Hmm… what do you believe? If I were to guess from some of your other posts, I’d say that you are one of the more sophisticated Christians who believes that the Bible is not a crude positivist document to be taken in the simplest possible way; rather, I imagine you’d argue that it has many layers of meaning, and that a spiritually adept reader can descend into various esoteric depths by an act of contemplation similar to what is known in Judaism as midrash. That’s just a wildly hazarded guess, though. Am I on the right track?

  • Firebeard

    Hi everyone,

    Got here through stumbleupon. I am a Christian and a student of philosophy, and I am familiar with Epicurus. I see there has already been multiple months of discussion on this subject, and I have read through it all.

    While some have raised the contention that it is possible for God to have His good reasons for allowing catastrophies to occur, I don’t believe anyone has yet given that contention its full justice.

    Harris argument carries an unsupported assumption: given some of God’s known alleged attributes (omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence), He would necessarily keep all catastrophies from happening.

    The problem with this assumption is that although it is possible to expect an omnipotent/omniscient/omnibenevolent God to be able to prevent all suffering, it is also possible to expect such a God to have good reasons for allowing suffering to occur. There is no need to spell out exactly how God would accomplish either expectation: the mere fact that there are multiple possibilities is all that is needed to refute Harris’ assumed necessity.

    I understand that one might attempt to support Harris’ necessity by saying that there are no good reasons for allowing catastrophies to occur. As compassionate as that statement may sound, there is no way to support it. Indeed, one would have to actually be omniscient in order to have the evidence to state it with confidence. No finite being can know if there really aren’t any good reasons for allowing suffering to occur. For the worst possible catastrophy, our limited perspective may, in fact, shroud a possible very intricate and purposeful reason for allowing it.

    As long as the possibility remains that God could have His own good reasons for allowing suffering, it negates the necessity that He doesn’t have them.

    • UrsaMinor

      As long as the possibility remains that God could have His own good reasons for allowing suffering, it negates the necessity that He doesn’t have them.

      And a world with a omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god who does not prevent catastrophes looks exactly like a world with a malevolent god or an uncaring god or an impotent god, or indeed like one without a god at all. I.e., this hypothesis cannot be falsified and has no power to distinguish between the various possibilities or shed light on the question of whether the god in question even exists. It goes nowhere.

      I might also point out that if you are going to argue that your god’s reasons for not preventing suffering are unfathomable to humans, you give up any claim to being able to explain or interpret any action or motivation (or absence thereof) involving said god.

      • Firebeard

        I.e., this hypothesis cannot be falsified and has no power to distinguish between the various possibilities or shed light on the question of whether the god in question even exists. It goes nowhere.

        It only goes nowhere if you assume (as you just did) that we’re currently discussing God’s existence…which we are not. The track I took down Harris’ three fork problem was that God “does not care” to stop catastrophes, then I questioned the validity of the conclusion that He would be evil as a necessary consequence. I did not take the track that God does not exist.

        Thus, the issue we’re discussing here is God’s benevolence, not His existence. That isn’t to say that God’s existence doesn’t deserve arduous discussion and indeed proof to support, but since Harris’ resurrection of the Epicurean problem seemed arduous enough by itself, I thought I’d start there.

        If the very notion of God strikes someone as something evil, then I’d like to address that before I even suggest moving on to an actual God.

        [EDITED by server monkey to restore quote]

        • Firebeard

          [Preserved for thread integrity]

          • Firebeard

            Nope…clearly I’m lost.

            • Firebeard

              At any rate, I would not seek to suggest that God’s reasons are unfomable to humans, but I would say that it is perfectly acceptable to consider them possible while yet unkown.

          • Elemenope

            Probably the best way in WordPress to quote is either with the [blockquote]…text…[/blockquote] tags. Just replace the brackets with angle brackets.

        • Kodie

          You’re perhaps suggesting a god who has a good reason for letting disasters happen, let’s suppose that is how he cooks meals for other beings in a far galaxy. They are his chosen, and that’s what they eat, so every once in a while, god has to feed them. That would be disqualifying him from being OMNI-benevolent, he’d merely be benevolent to another type of being, so why worship him. It would be much simpler to suppose the world works as it does, we’re beings on a planet that has, for example, earthquakes and we do the best we can not to get killed by an earthquake, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. It’s much simpler to go there than imagine what could be a “good” reason for it happening. The “good” reason that it happens is that the earthquake doesn’t intend its victims, it just is; we know how geological formations operate and physics, momentum, force of say, a consequent tsunami – it’s going to be fatal. We’re just smallish animals who can hide or get out of the way, but fragile against a direct hit. If you want to add god doesn’t intend his victims, he just is, then I would ask you why it matters? How can you suppose love, mercy, and justice in some sort of parental analogy about eating too much candy. Obeying god doesn’t save you from a devastation any more than not obeying god guarantees you’ll be killed by it. They aren’t messages from beyond, or warnings, or precise amounts of punishment for only those who deserve it (according to god). That amounts to evil, if there were a god. If god knows a better reason than we can come up with, no doubt it’s “spin” created by Christians so they can reconcile their belief with their horror.

        • UrsaMinor

          I did not assume that the immediate discussion was about the existence of God; that’s your own reading.

          The thrust of my argument is that the state of the world that we actually observe cannot distinguish between A) the god who can’t intervene, B) the god who doesn’t care to intervene, C) the god who can intervene but refrains from doing so for ostensibly good moral reasons, D) and the complete absence of a god. You have four logical possibilities, and they all result in a world that looks the same to a human observer.
          None of these four hypotheses advanced to explain the observations can be falsified, and Hypothesis C is the unquestionably the most complicated of the four.

          • Firebeard

            I did not assume that the immediate discussion was about the existence of God; that’s your own reading.

            ?

            or shed light on the question of whether the god in question even exists. It goes nowhere.

            Sorry for taking this as moving the immediate discussion in a direction of God’s existence. It certainly looked a lot like, though.

            While hypothesis C is indeed the most complicated of the four, that simple fact does not necessarily count it out if indeed it turns out to be the most reasonable explanation…yet in order to do that, one would have to (as I maintain you initially suggested) enter into a discussion of God’s existence.

            • Len

              You seem to want C to be “the most reasonable explanation” (even if complicated).

              If we leave aside the question of a god’s existence (ie, not D), then why not A or B? Is it because you want to be able to conclude that the Christian version of god must be correct? So you’re arguing toward a conclusion, rather than from a debatable premise.

            • Kodie

              @Len – I think he’s very carefully saying that, if C) is true, then it’s not the most unreasonable, in the same way that any remote and complicated possibility is 100% probable after it turns out to be true, and that it remains a remote and complicated possibility because it can’t be logically rendered an impossibility.

              He’s very delicately avoiding the assertion that it’s what he believes is true, but he did disclose that he is a Christian, and that shouldn’t interfere with his logical premises, such that God can be good but seem terrible, only because God has to be good, therefore anything he does is good, and who are we to presume his intentions (only when a terrible act occurs); we can, however, presume they are always good; we can, however, presume they are about us; we can, however, presume that he is doing everything he can; and we can, however, presume he exists. Only because we can’t rule it out, not because that’s what he wants to be true.

    • Elemenope

      First off, welcome!

      I tend to disfavor the Epicurean formulation, as I indicated further up the thread, and the reason is similar to your criticism; it tends to reduce to the (almost certainly incorrect) logical problem of evil. The existence of evil and the existence of a perfectly good God are not, strictly speaking, logically contradictory.

      A better approach for capturing the flavor of what Epicurus was getting at, I think, is Rowe’s or Draper’s evidential problem of evil: that the quantity, quality, and capriciousness of observed evils in the world reduce the probability of there existing a morally sensible deity to nearly nothing. Being an inductive argument, it lacks the crispness and comforting reassurance of a deductive syllogism, but it has the virtue of being incredibly difficult to argue against, since the argument naturally and inexorably leads to conceptions of God so morally alien that they cannot be termed good.

      • Firebeard

        Elemenope,

        Thanks for the welcome. I highly appreciate it.

        The task of laying out a probability on the goodness of God through human experiences seems to require a great deal of knowledge about 1) the entirety of human experience and 2) a standard by which to gauge it. For an inductive argument, this is not impossible. We are at least vaguely aware of how things go and how things have gone for human beings, and we are at least vaguely aware of how things should go or perhaps how we think they should go.

        I question whether or not a full critical analysis of our human experience really leads us to a conclusion that a good God is truly improbable. Our own assumptions about how things should go can be, and often are, wrong. The standard over which we judge how the world ought to be requires a full exploration before we can make any conclusions about the probability of God’s goodness.

        Indeed, you could be right…but first, what kind of things do we expect from God that He hasn’t done?

        We should discuss those things, and see if I can’t provide a description of a good God that reasonably fits with them.

        • Elemenope

          The task of laying out a probability on the goodness of God through human experiences seems to require a great deal of knowledge about 1) the entirety of human experience and 2) a standard by which to gauge it.

          I agree with 2, but not 1. Human experiences themselves are not continuous over the whole period and breadth of ‘human experience’, but are rather absolutely atomized into individual lives and (comparatively) short durations. Thus any measure of ‘good’ that could be applicable to humans must not fail to hold true (and remain intelligible) from the perspective of that atomized interval, else it really isn’t applying to humans at all.

          For the standard, I’d argue that there is significant evidence for incremental ethical convergence across nations and social borders over time, such that it wouldn’t be an impossible task to collate diverse ethical attitudes and distill a reasonably stable set of moral expectations that humans generally share.

          I question whether or not a full critical analysis of our human experience really leads us to a conclusion that a good God is truly improbable.

          As well you should, as a Christian and as a philosopher. :)

          Our own assumptions about how things should go can be, and often are, wrong. The standard over which we judge how the world ought to be requires a full exploration before we can make any conclusions about the probability of God’s goodness.

          Quite so. However, there are some rather easily available examples of moral choices and rules that, if they were in error, would be a great shock indeed (given the convergence towards them I indicated earlier). Matters of this nature include genocide, slavery, and rape. These matters tend to be problematic in the extreme for any claims of deific benevolence in the Abrahamic traditions, given the tolerance of and often outright institutionalization of these and other moral errors in the instruction manual and formative history of these religions.

          Indeed, you could be right…but first, what kind of things do we expect from God that He hasn’t done?

          One of the many big sticking points that comes up quite a bit in discussion is an expectation of clear and unambiguous communication. Even given the restrictions one might easily imagine that lend themselves to accomodationist or condescensionist models for God-Human communication, the available texts and other materials about which a claim is made of divine communication are all defective far in excess of that necessary to communicate complicated concepts to lesser creatures.

          • John C

            Why all the historical conjecture when you can know yourself for certain…now?

            John 5:25

            • Kodie

              You’re so dumb.

            • UrsaMinor

              Deciding what constitutes reality by personal, individual fiat sounds like a really bad idea.

          • Firebeard

            I agree with 2, but not 1. Human experiences themselves are not continuous over the whole period and breadth of ‘human experience’, but are rather absolutely atomized into individual lives and (comparatively) short durations. Thus any measure of ‘good’ that could be applicable to humans must not fail to hold true (and remain intelligible) from the perspective of that atomized interval, else it really isn’t applying to humans at all.

            The reason why I suggested 1, was in order to get something tangible which we could lay against our idealistic standard in 2. Indeed, the overall structure of what I had in mind takes on something which mimics a much more basic mathematical probability (such as the 1 over 2 in the likelihood of getting heads in a coin flip). I’m afraid that agreeing to 2 without 1 will not help us get very far. If it helps at all, I’m only saying that we take human experience in its most general sense here. Indeed, I thought you’d be quite gleeful to accept 1, given all the horrific experiences through which the human race as gone…ideas in your mind popping up something akin to Christopher Hitchens’ famous “hundred thousand years vs two thousand years” speech.

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              Personally I prefer the slightly more logically tenable formulation, “Impotent, evil, imaginary, or doesn’t give a f*ck”. So I can agree that Harris oversimplifies a bit. But the problem he mentions is a real problem for an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god.

              As long as the possibility remains that God could have His own good reasons for allowing suffering, it negates the necessity that He doesn’t have them.

              This is the same objection John Clayton (via Zephan) tried to raise back at the beginning of this thread. But god has not stepped forward to state his reasons. That he might possibly conceivably have some reason is as true as it is meaningless. We don’t need to map out all of human existence to know something is wrong with the concept of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god. We only need to observe one instance of truly preventable suffering.

              As I said upthread, “since the deists say their god doesn’t intervene in the Universe, it would be silly to blame him for earthquakes”. It is in assigning intention to natural events that the cruelty of nature becomes an issue. The Earth does not need to explain why it quakes. Tectonic plates simply do not care who is hurt by their movements. On the plus side they are not consciously trying to murder us.

              But if god is omnipotent, anything which happens, happens because he causes it to happen or does not prevent it from happening. If god is omnipotent and omniscient, and knows all the possible outcomes of all his possible causing/preventing/not preventing, anything that happens, happens because he has consciously chosen it to be that way.

              If a conscious being decides to intervene in the Universe to give Tim Tebow a few extra passing yards, and simultaneously lets a child starve in Guatemala, the absolute best you could say about that being is that he is benevolent to some (or god is good, sometimes).

              The common reply here is that god is still bound by his larger plan, or that god can’t interfere with free will, or that god has set certain rules and processes in motion and has to allow those to proceed unhindered. All of these are what is meant by impotent. As in not omnipotent (then why call him god?). If god can’t anything, if god’s hands are ever tied, then god is impotent (and there’s no need to debate god’s omnipotence if you don’t believe it either) (and if god is in any way affiliated with the christian church then he has already massively interfered with the free will of humans).

              “Does not care to” covers whatever motivations god might have. The point is that god chooses not to prevent these catastrophes for whatever reasons. And Harris’ point of linking that to “evil” is to say that no motivation could be good enough. If there is a conscious mind deciding all this sh*t, then he has visited wanton cruelty upon his conscious creations. I tend to think “good” and “evil” are not the most constructive terms for discussing moral culpability. But if god in his infinite wisdom decided that countless innocent people should suffer and die as a result of things that he decided should happen, that’s exactly the sort of situation we have the word “evil” to describe.

              Even if we grant that god has reasons, the question “are god’s reasons good reasons” sits unanswered. And Harris’ contention “either god can do nothing to stop catastrophes or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist” stands. If god doesn’t intervene in disasters because god doesn’t want to, then god is evil (or doesn’t give a f*ck).

              And if god does not intervene in the Universe, leaves no evidence of his existence, and does not interact with our reality in any observable way, then that does not appear any different from imaginary. How could you ever differentiate between an invisible god who does nothing and an imaginary god who doesn’t exist?

              But assuming god does exist how many people have to starve before he has a responsibility to end a famine? How many people have to suffer and die from preventable illnesses before it is his fault for not preventing them (or creating the viruses that led to them)? How many people have to kill each other in deference to his commandments before he has to take some responsibility for his commandments? And even if there is some god who is not affiliated with any commandments, how many objectively evil things have to be done in his name before he has a responsibility to step in?

              So forget Sam Harris for a minute. I put to you this problem instead. If god exists and controls everything then he has a responsibility for how things turn out. If any god is entirely responsible for how this world turned out that god has quite a lot to answer for. If any god consciously chose for any reason to make the world turn out exactly as it has then that god could not reasonably be called omnibenevolent.

            • Elemenope

              . If it helps at all, I’m only saying that we take human experience in its most general sense here. Indeed, I thought you’d be quite gleeful to accept 1, given all the horrific experiences through which the human race as gone…ideas in your mind popping up something akin to Christopher Hitchens’ famous “hundred thousand years vs two thousand years” speech.

              The reason I’m not gleeful to accept the premise is because I don’t think it accurately describes what human experience actually is, despite how attractive it might be for my wider points. :)

              Mainly I think it is a compositional error; the set of experiences of human beings severally considered is not the same thing as synthesizing a “human experience” from the experiences of human beings. One of those things actually exists (as a somewhat disjoint set), while the other is entirely an abstraction of convenience.

              The individual experiences of individual human beings are highly context-sensitive, almost to the point of it being trivial to point out, and so even if it were possible to sum over histories, so to speak, human experience, I’m not entirely sure it would be useful for sussing out whether there are ills in the world against which an explanation of divine ethics would have to survive. Rather, I am arguing that as each individual human being experiences their own travails, the proper lens through which to analyze the claims of divine benevolence is the lens of the individual human being, wherever and whenever he or she happens to find themselves.

              In light of that, I find it an intriguing phenomenon that there is evidence for gradual moral convergence over time across societies. I think that this indicates, problematically for the claims of religious texts, that the moral fidelity of humanity has steadily improved despite the claimed moral instruction of any deity, especially since many of these moral advances have come as a direct result of abandoning or heavily modifying religious moral codes.

    • Ty

      “As long as the possibility remains that God could have His own good reasons for allowing suffering, it negates the necessity that He doesn’t have them.”

      I’m sure god appreciates keeping these loopholes open for him.

    • Sunny Day

      “As long as the possibility remains that God could have His own good reasons for allowing suffering, it negates the necessity that He doesn’t have them.”

      God could have reasons but, they would be either Evil ones or because of impotence, not because of Good.

      If god is omnipotent there is no possible impediment to its accomplishing an objective without using/allowing suffering.

      If god is omniscient and chooses to use suffering to accomplish it’s objectives it is Evil.

      • Firebeard

        God could have reasons but, they would be either Evil ones or because of impotence, not because of Good.

        If god is omnipotent there is no possible impediment to its accomplishing an objective without using/allowing suffering.

        It can just as easily be said: If God is omnipotent, then there is no possible impediment to His having good reasons for using/allowing suffering.

        • Custador

          Except that’s complete bullshit. You can’t semantically argue God into being possible any more than you can philosophise him into existing. He does, or he does not. Spoiler: There’s no reason to think he does.

          • Firebeard

            That wasn’t semantics, that was merely thinking logically.

            If God is big enough to blame for not making everything perfect, then He’s also big enough to have good reasons for not having made it all perfect.

            And have I not said multiple times already that in knocking down Harris’ argument, I haven’t yet even begun to posit God’s existence.

            • Custador

              Then he’s also big enough to resolve those reasons without causing suffering. Omnipotent, remember?

        • Elemenope

          It can just as easily be said: If God is omnipotent, then there is no possible impediment to His having good reasons for using/allowing suffering.

          This is an equal problem for aspiring theists, since if there is no material impediment to approaching reasons for allowing suffering, then there must also be no impediment to explaining reasons for allowing suffering. Since no explanation is forthcoming or expected, even in the traditions that recognize the underlying problem (cf. Book of Job), one is then given to question the original claim of omnipotence.

          • Firebeard

            Since no explanation is forthcoming or expected, even in the traditions that recognize the underlying problem (cf. Book of Job), one is then given to question the original claim of omnipotence.

            This assumes that the omnipotent Being wants to share His reasons. Indeed, that sharing His reasons is the best thing to do based upon all the knowledge that He has i.e. omnipotence.

            • Elemenope

              Let me ask you a question, then.

              If you were to undertake to act upon another being, and that action is almost certainly going to be interpreted by that person as a hostile, maleficent action, do you not owe at the least a moral obligation to that person explaining the causes and purposes of your facially maleficent act?

        • Sunny Day

          “His having good reasons for using/allowing suffering.”

          Then god isn’t benevolent.

          • Firebeard

            …good reasons…

            …would allow for benevolence.

            • Kodie

              You know, every once in a while, a story will make the headlines of a parent, intending suicide, killing his or her children first. Either the media paints this person as a monster or the people watching it on their TVs do. One “good reason” is the parent’s idea that their children will go to heaven and won’t have to suffer living without them, under the circumstances. This can be twisted to be at least “considerate” if not benevolent from their perspective, absolutely the kindest way to spare their children a lifetime of pain. This makes a little bit of sense, but not enough sense. Another “good reason” is, they hear voices telling them to do this.

              Objectively, it’s completely batshit. If a possible benevolent “good reasons” god were to exist without disclosing these reasons, we have nothing to go by but our human experiences, as it is also “batshit.” I highly suspect that when terrible things happen, to secure one’s belief in the god of your choice, you can’t think of a good reason for it to happen, and you pull the “good reason” card from your ass. As in, well, this is all a horror that makes me sick and scared and upsets me, so as not to disturb my faith, I will instead go on “good reasons” that are beyond my understanding. You know, rather than begin to suspect there isn’t a god after all. That we live on a planet, and we’re animals. We’re not “fallen” or “saved.” We’re just animals.

            • Sunny Day

              That’s your argument, god has to have good reasons because god is good?

              God’s omnipotence allows him to accomplish its objectives without including suffering.

              Choosing to include suffering when it clearly doesn’t have to is an evil act and throws benevolence out the window.

            • Len

              We know good and evil just like god (Genesis 3:22) and we realise that he’s evil. Why does anyone defend him or try to justify his evil actions?

            • Len

              Let me temper that a little: we realise that he does evil things. But so many evil things that it tends towards impossible to not also assign evil as one of his defining characteristics.

          • Elemenope

            To amplify the point a bit, it is worth pointing out that benevolence requires an object. It is not sufficient to call an entity “benevolent”, as benevolence is defined as a dispositional orientation towards ideas and acts that are beneficial to the object of the act. One must also define to whom one is being judged as benevolent.

            If the object of a supposedly benevolent act is a sapient being, he or she has the opportunity to play the role of judge in determining whether they should apply the label “benevolent” to any entity that acts upon them, according to their own experiences of the outcome of the act and whatever context gives the act efficacy and meaning.

            Certainly there are acts that have a painful or harmful component that are nonetheless good and would be adjudged as such even by the recipient of the act, so long as they are aware of the context of the act, usually made explicit by the perpetrator of self-same act for the purposes of explanation.

            Point being, while by its own lights a hypothetical God may find its own acts perfectly contextualized and good on that basis, for any entity that does not share the God’s-eye perspective it does not seem particularly rational or sensible to call harmful acts without apparent moral cause beneficent, absent any forthcoming context or explanation. Given that it is the object of the act that has to experience the ill caused by the act, that person possesses extensive moral priority to its claims about whether the act is maleficent or beneficent.

            • Firebeard

              Point being, while by its own lights a hypothetical God may find its own acts perfectly contextualized and good on that basis, for any entity that does not share the God’s-eye perspective it does not seem particularly rational or sensible to call harmful acts without apparent moral cause beneficent,

              I contend that the God’s-eye perspective in this hypothetical is the only one that matters. This is demonstrated through a mere consideration of what the God’s-eye perspective actually means. It isn’t just that God would have all the power to deal with everything anyway He wants to (while that is enormously valuable).

              You must consider the fact that God allegedly has the highest possible reservoir of knowledge, indeed the only infinite reservoir of knowledge by which to base His decisions. Therefore it’s this hypothetical God’s decisions which are the only ones that matter.

              Therefore, whether one has the God’s-eye perspective or not, any action made by said hypothetical Being is the best one, whether this Being deigns to share His reasons or not…

              …because even the decision to share reasons or not to share them would be made based upon an infinite reservoir of knowledge.

            • Elemenope

              I think that moral consideration is not reducible to knowledge, because experience in a phenomenological sense is not reducible to knowledge. Experiencing something is qualitatively different than understanding it (even with perfect fidelity).

              I would say that Christianity, such as it is, recognizes this problem and attempted to provide a solution with the picture of a God who for a short period experienced existence as a human, and the attempt is fascinating. That attempt, I think, does fail for purely logical reasons (incarnaion being, at best, a slapdash notion which crumbles at the slightest logical poke). But it is notable all the same.

              I think the problem stems from the fact that moral facts arise not from things-in-themselves, but rather from the relationships that come into existence between things that possess intentionality to act. An act by God upon a person is moral only if it is moral from *both* perspectives; I do not see how divine knowledge circumvents this problem.

            • Sunny Day

              “I contend that the God’s-eye perspective in this hypothetical is the only one that matters. ”

              I think he just came around to, “If god then Cthulhu”.

  • Firebeard

    Sunny Day and Nox,

    Both of you take the stance that there can be no possible good reasons for allowing evil and suffering. There’s no way you can know that. It is ultimately possible for there to be good enough reasons for allowing evil and suffering.

    A 1) God powerful enough to not allow for any evil or suffering, is just as powerful as a 2) God who can have good reasons for allowing evil or suffering.

    Take note: In this discussion, I do not consider myself to have proven that God #2 exists or is even the more likely possibility (as Elemenope and I are hashing out)…only that because God #2 is a logical possibility, God is not necessarily evil as Harris suggests. To flesh this out: “necessary” in the philosophical sense means that “something is so-and-so in all possible worlds,” so to speak. When a possibility arises which contradicts something someone claims to be necessary, then said claim is false.

    • Elemenope

      I concur as to the logical possibility of a good, powerful God overseeing a relatively evil-filled universe. But logical possibility is an awfully thin reed upon which to rest the more important inquiry, which is whether it is reasonable to postulate such a God given prevailing conditions. There are all sorts of things that happily subsist in Meinong’s Jungle but that we don’t concern ourselves with actually thinking about existing. Russell’s Teapot could very well be merrily soaring around the sun somewhere between Mercury and Neptune, but it isn’t exactly on NASA’s to-do list to track down.

      I think that the biggest challenge for a person who wishes to hypothesize a good, powerful God in an evil-filled universe must first explain why it shouldn’t be treated as every bit a dead hypothesis (in the Jamesean sense) as one postulating the existence of Russell’s Teapot. When it comes to the realm of the abstract, philosophers may well be content to deal in modal categories like necessity and contingency that have little practical application (some of which were themselves invented specifically for the task of talking about the logic-warping consequences of the mere existence of a hypothetical God), but I think it’s a safe guess that most atheists who are not apatheists generally base their atheism on empirical, probabilistic grounds, and not on grounds of a God’s logical impossibility.

      • Ty

        Indeed.

        “Could exist” isn’t any more compelling to me than, “You can’t prove it doesn’t exist.”

        Neither offer evidence to support their claims, and thus can be dismissed without concern.

        • Custador

          Yeah, this. Questions like “Where did the universe come from?” and “Is there an omnipotent being watching me while I whack off in the shower?” are actually kind of important – Far too important to accept answers which are basically completely baseless speculation. I want these questions answered only by people who can actually back up their hypotheses.

    • Yoav

      But if god is not just powerful but omnipotent, as the abrahamic religions claim, then he should be able to achieve whatever goal he had without having to resort to allowing evil to exist, and we’re back to square 1, god is either imaginary, impotent or evil.

      • Firebeard

        he should be able to achieve whatever goal he had without having to resort to allowing evil to exist

        What exactly are God’s goals, such that they should exclude evil?

        • Kodie

          Yeah, it’s convenient enough that we can’t know what god’s goals are, that things can be just as they are with the supposition that there are very good reasons for someone to make or allow them to be this way. Starts very easily to sound imaginary and unnecessary.

          • Firebeard

            Yeah, it’s convenient enough that we can’t know what god’s goals are

            Except that’s the very thing: it’s quite likely we can know at least one of the goals of an allegedly omni-attributed Being.

            Think for a moment, about an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent Being. This Being has no one to answer to but Himself, His own self-interests, His reputation, His own distinction, His own beauty, and indeed His own ego would be His main pursuits.

            Perhaps this sounds rather proud or hubristic, but really pride and hubris are only faults when they are misappropriate. Hubris by definition is misappropriate, and pride is good when appropriate. Say you did quite well on a project or some well-earned achievement…I think it’s quite within reason to be proud.

            So indeed, one of the goals of God (if not the primary one) would be His own distinction and good. In fact, to pursue anyone else’s good or distinction would be a bad idea considering that anyone else’s would be lesser than His own. His own goodness and distinction is the best thing to be pursued for the sake of everyone else, because His ideas about everything are the best ones.

            • Firebeard

              Only meant to quote the first paragraph last post.

            • Kodie

              I was thinking that I’m the god in my apartment, and to put anthropomorphic feelings to all the inanimate objects within, and by my observation, the paper thinks it is my “chosen people.” For the greater good, sometimes I sort through hordes of paper and throw some right in the trash, some I crumple up first; I shred some cross-cut; many I file in an order I like, and I am obeyed. I have a “good reason” for treating my ostensible chosen people in a way they may say seems arbitrary. Obvious to me, I merely tolerate the paper I need to keep, order them to follow my laws, and am violently displeased with the paper I dispose of, and pack them to the dumpster. It’s an illusion of the paper that I like any of them very much at all and that I rent this space just to house them. Each piece of paper has knowledge, just not comprehension of their overlord’s intentions. Paper accumulates beyond my control, because I’m not the god outside my rental and the belongings herein.

              Now, let’s suppose there’s a god of the earth. What does this god exist for? For us? Perhaps his very good reason for all the bad things is that he’s not for us. Any guess you want to make about his intentions, based on your observations is obvious to fail, that’s why you insist he’s both benevolent and has good reasons. We have knowledge, just not comprehension. How is it that we should care he exists, or that believe that his good reasons are about us? It just doesn’t seem to reconcile. Perhaps a god who is not omnipotent and is merely a victim of a nuisance species, like so much junk mail and bank statements and terrible poems he wrote when he was 15.

              The reason there’s a god is because bad things happen; we don’t comprehend and so anthropomorphize an intention, file ourselves according to its laws, which are only based on vague association with an order we can arbitrarily decide; we consider this thing we can’t see, egotistically, is all about us. The ego creates the god who both cares and has a convenient excuse for not seeming to care.

        • Yoav

          It doesn’t matter what his goals are, you argue that god allow suffering in order to achieve something but if he’s omnipotent then by definition he can get the same result without allowing suffering, unless suffering is his goal.

        • Custador

          If they don’t exclude evil, then the Christian ideal of “God” does not exist. All knowing, all powerful, infinitely good, remember?

          Is this what people mean when they say “a personal God” – Everybody gets to have their own version of God, with characteristics and ideals which match their own almost exactly and which gets to ignore or rationalise awkward questions?

    • John C

      Because He is suffering right along with us, is in us, in mankind, err uh GodKind, we having ‘Laz-are-us come forth’ from Him. ‘In ALL (y)our afflictions He was also afflicted’. (Is 63:9). And why/how is this? Same reason we were ‘co-crucified’ with Him and ‘co-resurrected’ to newness of life (Rom 6:4) because He (Christ) IS our (true) life/identity (Col 3:4) but most of huManity is oblivious to this liberating Truth! All the best.

      • Len

        Some of that kinda sorta explains why there’s often no beer left in the fridge or the tequila is finished: he co-drinks it with me.

        Bugger – I should have known it was god.

    • Custador

      How is God a logical possibility? God is the exact opposite of a logical possibility the second you actually understand logic.

      • Elemenope

        How so? I’ll readily cotton to God’s incredible improbability, but so far as I can see there is no sound argument that shows logical impossibility.

        EDIT: I’d be more amenable to a claim that hypotheses of an omni-God are, as a category, conceptually flawed, because they traffic in terms like “perfection” and the omni- prefix that are themselves poorly conceived, inadequately defined, or incapable of being applied in a logically consistent way. This would lead to a more ignostic conclusion, I’d think.

      • Firebeard

        How is God a logical possibility? God is the exact opposite of a logical possibility the second you actually understand logic.

        Care to elaborate?

        • Custador

          The primary “logical” argument I hear for God is the first-cause argument: Everything must have a beginning, therefore everything must have a cause, therefore some intelligent entity must be ultimately responsible for everything, therefore God. Of course, there’s no part of that “logical” chain from premise to conclusion which isn’t filled with fail and wrong. If you don’t follow that particular reasoning, then I apologise. I tend to assume that it’s what theists are talking about when they talk about God being a logical possibility / probability, since people post it here so very often.

          • Elemenope

            Those arguments (teleological, cosmological, ontological) seek to establish logical necessity for God. They fail, too.

            What Firebeard and I are both claiming is that there is no logical argument that establishes the logical impossibility of God.

            Given that logic provides neither the means to definitively establish nor definitively exclude the existence of God, the conversation about existence needs to be diverted into other areas of inquiry (mainly empirical, inductive ones).

    • trj

      Firebeard, you strike me as a sort of reverse agnostic: basing your hopes and faith on God possibly not being as uncaring, evil, or incompetent as he seems.

      Your defense of God is reduced to there being some hypothetical, unknown, untestable redeeming factors which are presumed forever out of our grasp. By this argument it is impossible to ever resolve theodicy, even in theory, because the goal posts are forever movable.

      Not many other Christians would find comfort in such an academic god, and philosophically it’s an unsatisfying, defensive argument for the lack of divine involvement we observe. A much simpler explanation would be that God doesn’t exist, which neatly resolves all paradoxes regarding his attributes and behavior.

      • Firebeard

        Firebeard, you strike me as a sort of reverse agnostic: basing your hopes and faith on God possibly not being as uncaring, evil, or incompetent as he seems.

        I’m sure I only strike you so because I have not taken this discussion into the realm of God’s existence. I have refrained from doing so because this entire thread is based on Harris’ argument which I have been working to refute.

        As I said earlier, I am a Christian.

        Your defense of God is reduced to there being some hypothetical, unknown, untestable redeeming factors which are presumed forever out of our grasp. By this argument it is impossible to ever resolve theodicy, even in theory, because the goal posts are forever movable.

        Theodicy’s main goal is to shoot down Epicurus, which has been my goal throughout this discussion. So far, I’m sure my defense of God looks extremely vague considering that goal, but especially considering that goal, no more need be expected.

        A much simpler explanation would be that God doesn’t exist, which neatly resolves all paradoxes regarding his attributes and behavior.

        What paradoxes do you have in mind?

        • trj

          Yes, I realize you’re a Christian. That’s why I called your approach to your faith reverse agnosticism. Well, never mind that.

          What paradoxes do you have in mind?

          I was thinking primarily of the seeming paradox between an omnipotent benevolent God allegedly being able to do anything he wants, yet allowing the existence of evil (or even seeming to actively act in evil ways, according to the Bible), though he doesn’t have to.

          Of course, your defense of this paradox works, in that it’s always possible to postulate that what we perceive as evil is actually good since we can’t comprehend the “real” reasons behind it. It’s just that this explanation is analogous to the always theoretically possible existence of Russell’s teapot, and as such not a very compelling argument.

  • Firebeard

    That attempt, I think, does fail for purely logical reasons (incarnaion being, at best, a slapdash notion which crumbles at the slightest logical poke).

    What is so illogical about an omnipotent Being managing an incarnation?

    • Elemenope

      The same thing that would be illogical about an omnipotent being managing a square circle. Simple definitional incompatibility.

      • Firebeard

        What is there in the definition of God that cannot be compatible with becoming a human being?

  • Firebeard

    I think the problem stems from the fact that moral facts arise not from things-in-themselves, but rather from the relationships that come into existence between things that possess intentionality to act. An act by God upon a person is moral only if it is moral from *both* perspectives; I do not see how divine knowledge circumvents this problem.

    Perhaps you could expound a bit more on this *both* perspectives concept being required for a moral action. Consider this example:

    There is a starving beggar on the side of the road who has fallen asleep, yet a lost hundred dollar bill has blown up under his chin. A kindly passer-by who regularly sees the beggar at this location takes the bill and buys the man a good nutritious IV, a night’s stay in a hotel, and new soles for his shoes. Unfortunately, the new manager at the hotel early the next morning mistakes the beggar for a break-in and has him put back out on the side of the road where he’d started the night before. The beggar awakes the next morning none the wiser.

    Is the kindly passer-by any less moral because the beggar was unaware of his kindness?

    • Elemenope

      Actual awareness is, I’d think, unnecessary. The proper criteria would be that, if the person were aware, that they would adjudge the action beneficent. I’d hazard that moral rules, by dint of their reliance on relationships between objects that may or may not actually obtain at the time that the event occurs, are best described subjunctively. If someone does something nice for me without me knowing about it, it is still nice so long as I would judge it to be so had I been aware of it.

  • Firebeard

    If you were to undertake to act upon another being, and that action is almost certainly going to be interpreted by that person as a hostile, maleficent action, do you not owe at the least a moral obligation to that person explaining the causes and purposes of your facially maleficent act?

    Not necessarily. If the act of explaining my action happens to do complete disservice to the very act of helping the other being in the first place, then obviously not. Explanations of moral actions are not necessary to make the actions moral, and in some cases can quite possibly negate them.

    • Elemenope

      If the act of explaining my action happens to do complete disservice to the very act of helping the other being in the first place, then obviously not.

      I’m having trouble filling this hypothetical category of actions with possible constituents. Help me out. When would a clear explanation do a disservice to the good being done by an act that, without the explanation is viewed as a bad act?

      • Firebeard

        Help me out. When would a clear explanation do a disservice to the good being done by an act that, without the explanation is viewed as a bad act?

        Example: A person with whom you have an established antagonistic relationship (and who does not trust you in the least) has just insulted you. It also happens that this person is also about to be fired upon. You run at him and have absolutely no time to explain “I am not, in fact, reacting to the insult you just yelled at me, for in fact, I am running at you to pull you out of harms way: as there is a gunman about to shoot you!”

        This is merely a single case I thought of on the spot. It does serve to illustrate that a communicated explanation is not always useful, and it is at least possible to act morally in a case when explaining it is a detriment.

        In God’s case, one might consider that an omniscient Being can be and is aware of other, more detrimental consequences to accompanying moral actions with explanations.

        • Elemenope

          There is a plausible argument to be made that the act and the explanation sometimes cannot be simultaneous. However, after the act itself and its proximate consequences are past, the excuses for not revealing the purpose of the act fade with them.

          Besides, all examples of this sort include either an element of immediacy or an element of mutual distrust between the actors (or both).

          • Firebeard

            Besides, all examples of this sort include either an element of immediacy or an element of mutual distrust between the actors (or both).

            There is no mutual distrust between human beings and God? I think we’d be too quick to jump to that conclusion.

            It is abundantly obvious (take the website we’re currently on) that many people don’t trust God. And why should God have to trust people who regularly go about doing untrustworthy things?
            I think we have enough evidence to support a likelihood of mistrust on both sides.

            • Elemenope

              God could theoretically mistrust a person only if he were incapable of predicting the person’s actions to complete precision; else the person is merely doing exactly what God expects him or her to do, as he already knows it. That doesn’t sound very omniscient.

              The mistrust the other way–it’s kinda ironic you’d point this out–is premised entirely on suffering evils in the world and not having an explanation as to why! If the explanation truly is sufficient to demonstrate the necessity and hidden goodness of every evil (and we grant the intuitive notion that God would be a perfect communicator…despite his past alleged attempts), then mistrust wouldn’t be a problem.

              As Kodie already illustrated quite sharply on the thread, the problem of immediacy is a silly one in this context, since we have time, and God certainly has time.

              The general argument, though, that there are theoretical grounds for a God to indefinitely withhold critical information about the suffering that exists in this world (whether due to mistrust, immediacy, or another factor), I think fails for another reason. Kant argued persuasively that it is always ethically illegitimate to treat sentient beings as a means to a personal end, rather than as an end-in-themselves. The bottom line is, if God is withholding information which would otherwise be due to a person in order to prevent some behavioral consequence that would transpire if the information were known, God there crosses the line from treating human beings with the most basic level of dignity towards treating them as mere cogs in his grand plan.

              I might also point out that even if withholding were somehow morally obliged for other unknown reasons, that itself would not justify answering with misinformation, which indisputably occurs often in religious texts. Telling someone that you cannot or will not answer them about a critical question (and that you can’t even tell them why you can’t or won’t answer; two entire layers of hidden information!) is a very different thing from providing BS and/or contradictory answers to those questions.

            • Custador

              Your claim is nonsense. Nobody here distrusts God – Do you distrust Peter Pan? No. Why? Because he doesn’t exist.

        • Kodie

          It’s not like we don’t have time. It’s a fair example of what you could mean, but it’s not comparable, since we have time. And I know, based on many other Christian posters, that it’s on the human being not to wait until it’s too late, but that if you DIE, say, at 20, and haven’t turned your life over to Christ, you will go to hell, but if you haven’t DIED, and maybe you’re 95 and living your last days in a hospice, there will be people who make it a point to witness you because it’s not too late yet. I don’t know about you, but I think if god just gave everyone 100 years whether or not you’ve died inside that amount of time, we’d almost all get a chance to interview him and see what the fuck he wants. Outside of that condition, you’re saying he’s whomping whole seaside cities with tsunamis to get them out of the way of an otherwise nice day to be alive because he doesn’t have time to send a text to say “hey”.

          • Firebeard

            While my example rested greatly on a short amount of time a person would have to explain himself, that wouldn’t necessarily be God’s reason for not explaining His own moral actions. I merely raised the example to posit that there are certain conditions by which a person would have moral reasons to not explain himself. If such conditions exist then, there’s no reason to exclude the possibility that God possesses such reasons, if not exactly the same ones.

            • Kodie

              Again, it’s convenient that mere humans could not think of a reason that we can presume god must have.

            • Kodie

              I mean, choosing to believe god must be moral and working back from that conclusion, we still run into the problem of omnipotence. In the example of 2 humans that you gave, the one has to injure the other guy who dislikes him in order to save his life because he doesn’t have time to explain. If that guy were god instead, he could stop time, he could even have there a dollar on the ground so he ducks, any number of things. He could meet that guy over a beer and see if they can’t be friends.

              An omnipotent god could smash people to bits using car accidents and diseases and fires and choking on popcorn, and you’re saying this is somehow unknowable moral, whereas if there is some greater purpose to these awful things, why would an omnibenevolent god not come up with a kinder way? He is outside of time, isn’t he? He can go to his outside-of-time workshop and come up with another way to go, to achieve his purpose. Since he’s omnipotent as well, and omniscient, knows all and can do all, and isn’t constrained by the quick thinking on his feet for the closest obvious solution as the person in your example it is hard to excuse bad things due to a moral reasoning that’s beyond our comprehension. Well, hard for normal people.

            • Kodie

              Or can but doesn’t care, or doesn’t exist.

  • Firebeard

    If someone does something nice for me without me knowing about it, it is still nice so long as I would judge it to be so had I been aware of it.

    This is precisely the manner by which I wish to classify moral actions done by God, which we remain unaware of. These are still moral acts, and were we aware of them we would consider them so.

    • Elemenope

      Difference being that the acts in question are not a mystery. We are aware of the putative acts under consideration, otherwise they would not be under consideration.

      For example, in the OT there are lengthy instructions from God (through Moses) to his people describing in rather painful detail how slavery ought to work. The act of describing regulations for slavery is overt; there is no element of a person not being aware of the act and the resulting instructions. What is lacking is the explanation for the act, the theodicic excuse for why the overt act (okaying slavery and lightly regulating its practice) should be considered good.

    • Theory_of_I

      “This is precisely the manner by which I wish to classify moral actions done by God, which we remain unaware of. These are still moral acts, and were we aware of them we would consider them so.”

      You know what we would think?

      So. you would have us believe you are your god’s surrogate, that you are god’s latest messenger of abstract constructs, tasked with proposing apologetic myth extensions and imaginative speculation to explain what god failed to reveal in biblical scripture (the absolute, ginuwine, ya better believe it words of god his self)? OK — but where are your credentials? Surely you have something that validates your divine dispensation?

      • Firebeard

        you would have us believe you are your god’s surrogate, that you are god’s latest messenger of abstract constructs, tasked with proposing apologetic myth extensions and imaginative speculation to explain what god failed to reveal in biblical scripture

        This isn’t some new revelation, and everything I’ve said so far has not been some kind of mythical outlandish apologetic claim. Show me something I have said in my apologetics that isn’t anything except logical discourse about the concept of God.

        Any claim which I have made about God has been simply to clarify what a proper logical view of the concept God looks like.

        • Firebeard

          God could theoretically mistrust a person only if he were incapable of predicting the person’s actions to complete precision; else the person is merely doing exactly what God expects him or her to do, as he already knows it. That doesn’t sound very omniscient.

          Actually, it really seems to be exactly opposite the case when it comes to mistrust. You do not mistrust someone because you lack knowledge about what their going to do. You mistrust someone because you do have knowledge about what their going to do. You don’t want them to do what you suspect them to do.

          In God’s case, because He would know how we react not just suspect, He’d have even more solid foundation to base His mistrust upon. He’d know exactly how you’d react, given such-and-such information, and because of not just infinite knowledge but infinite wisdom, be able to make a proper decision to trust or mistrust us with said information.

          Kant argued persuasively that it is always ethically illegitimate to treat sentient beings as a means to a personal end, rather than as an end-in-themselves.

          Kant idealized human reason. He used it as his banner for all ethical decisions. For instance, he also said that if someone got himself drunk, then he would have foregone his place as a being worth moral consideration (having purposefully rid himself of his own rationality). Therefore, anyone is morally allowed to do whatever they like to a drunk person under Kant’s moral system. Does that legitimize date-rape, so long as the person drank under her own volition? Kant’s moral code raises other questions: what about mentally challenged people, brain damaged people, or animals?

          Perhaps Kant’s rationality-based moral code isn’t such a good standard for a moral system after all.

          The bottom line is, if God is withholding information which would otherwise be due to a person in order to prevent some behavioral consequence that would transpire if the information were known, God there crosses the line from treating human beings with the most basic level of dignity towards treating them as mere cogs in his grand plan.

          Really what is so uncomfortable about this? Perhaps human beings quite simply aren’t the best thing around. Perhaps divine moral decisions should not be based around us. I think it’s fine to say that God includes us in His decision-making, but already we saw how disastrous it was to base a moral system off of a highly admired human quality in Kant’s system. Why should God prioritize human dignity above all else? I can understand if God makes us a consideration, but not His top priority.

          Like I said before, if God is the “best thing around,” so to speak, then all His decision making would be based on Himself. To base it off anything less would be immoral.

          In the end, God, an omni-being would have to have the best decision making capabilities on all matters including moral ones, and to put us at the center of it all makes no sense whatsoever.

          Christians are often accused (rather rightly I think, based on the whole Copernicus scandal), of placing human beings at the center of the universe, and I think that has been a mistake. Both on the part of Christians for not understanding their own scriptures, and on others for not understanding what God is really all about.

          Over and over again the Bible talks about God making everything all about Him. It’s His knowledge, His decisions, His purposes, and His glory that really matter…not ours. And really this only makes sense.

          If God really is the smartest, wisest, most powerful, most knowledgeable, and most moral Being, then you’d expect Him to be the only one who’d know when even genocide, slavery, or rape should be allowed or even commanded to maintain the best possible plan for everything at all times. He’d only sensibly ever make Himself and His own ideas the center of it all…not us.

          So really, it makes a lot of sense that there be plenty of disasters and catastrophes in store for human beings, when God probably has a bigger goal in mind than the menial things we consider to be so important.

          I’m not saying that I can prove to you here and now that there is an after-life more important than the life we’re living, but I am saying that given a hypothetical omni-attribute God, there are probably plenty of things more important for us or especially than us.

          Does he have our ideas, and our perspective about the world in consideration? Sure. But His ideas about where we’re going would most likely be the best ones.

          • Firebeard

            One might say, “Well look see, you’ve put this supposedly omnipotent God in the box of needing to allow catastrophes in order to enact this grand plan which is so much more important than us.”

            But that’s not necessarily the case, suppose God’s desire to allow for human beings to tear the world down into a broken place came from answering only to Himself.

            It isn’t as though God’s saying “oops, my hands were tied, I couldn’t have made the world any different.”

            He’d just be saying, “That’s what I wanted based upon myself and no one else.”

            We consider it an ability to contradict ourselves because we do it all the time, but really it’s an inability to remain consistent with ourselves.

            Among God’s abilities within omnipotence would be consistency. God would be the only consistent Being, because a contradiction or inconsistency with God would be being less than the best Being.

            This is the only way in which “free-will” argument (wherein God allows us human-beings to make decisions that ruin the world, or ruin relationship with Him) works. If God gives human beings free-will so that they can truly love, then He’s answering to a higher power than Him called love, but if God gives human beings free-will so that they can truly love because love is in Him (the best thing around), then it’s God just being true and consistent with Himself not answering a higher power.

            And if God let us screw up the world because we had free-will because he wanted us to truly love because love is in Him and that’s His grand scheme for the world, then I’d expect Him to tell us about it, and that is the scheme which the Bible narrates.

            I’m not proposing to now delve into a historical document validity debate on the Bible, I’m just saying that given our hypothetical God we’ve been talking about, the story of the Bible does fit what I have been proposing: that hypothetically God can allow for evil and suffering and still be benevolent.

            • Sunny Day

              Fundies really don’t understand how the reply link works, do they?

            • Len

              It’s one of the mysteries revealed by their omnipotent god. Or not.

        • Theory_of_I

          “God who can have good reasons for allowing evil or suffering.”

          “…moral actions done by God, which we remain unaware of. These are still moral acts, and were we aware of them…”

          Assertions based on not knowing? — vacuous, disingenuous and absurd.

          Translation: Death, destruction and living in misery and fear is good for us, but we cannot and will never know why. (unless we accept another unfalsifiable claim)
          .
          Your concept of (at best) a conditionally deceptive yet omni-benevolent god is an unknowable construct (either abstractly possible but pitifully useless, or purely imaginary). You offer no evidence for the assertion beyond your anecdotal comparatives which is ignoratio elenchi, fallacious and illogical.

          What you are trying to do is set up infinitely moving goalposts in which your imaginary unknowns unfalsifiably prove something — It only proves you are full of nonsense. If you want to succeed, here’s the challenge — Prove God.

          • Firebeard

            Assertions based on not knowing? — vacuous, disingenuous and absurd.

            People make assertions based on lack of knowledge all the time. The United States’ justice system is one very prime example. If we do not know that someone is guilty, then we assert that they are not guilty.

            My assertion works in much the same way. I claim that the idea of God cannot be indicted for evil based upon a logical survey of the concept of God, which I have amply provided. There has been nothing vacuous, disingenuous, or absurd about the logical analysis I have demonstrated given the very idea of an omni-attributed God.

            Translation: Death, destruction and living in misery and fear is good for us, but we cannot and will never know why. (unless we accept another unfalsifiable claim)

            Now you’re putting words into my mouth. I have never once made the claim that we cannot nor ever will know the good reasons which God may reserve for suffering and death.

            The content of this discussion does not require any falsiability. The topic at hand is the consistency of the trait of benevolence within the idea of God.

            Your concept of (at best) a conditionally deceptive yet omni-benevolent god is an unknowable construct (either abstractly possible but pitifully useless, or purely imaginary).

            Can you demonstrate any deceptiveness of God anywhere in the concept of Him which I have been defending? Indeed, we have been talking about a mere concept, but you have yet to show me where I have failed in my treatment of this concept.

            You offer no evidence for the assertion beyond your anecdotal comparatives which is ignoratio elenchi, fallacious and illogical.

            What evidence does one need when discussing a concept? We both have the idea in our minds of an omnipotent, omniscient, and (currently being debated) omnibenevolent God. I have provided my reasoning about said God, which support benevolence.

            What you are trying to do is set up infinitely moving goalposts in which your imaginary unknowns unfalsifiably prove something

            Falsiability/evidence are not needed when discussing a concept. The mere idea can be analyzed a priori, and all of my arguments can be followed to their very static logical conclusions. I haven’t been moving anything around at all.

            — It only proves you are full of nonsense.

            You have yet to demonstrate that. Where has my reasoning broken down? How have I been nonsensical?

            If you want to succeed, here’s the challenge — Prove God.

            How is proving God’s existence necessary to my stated goals? You say that it is, but you do not provide any reasoning to back up your claim.

            • Len

              I think that T_o_I is correct here: it looks like you’re trying to make the goalposts so infinitely movable that – pretty much by definition – anything is possible. But those infinitely movable goalposts also allow for all other gods and all other types of gods (eg, caring and uncaring). They also allow for no god.

              You’re basically saying that we don’t know it now, and we can’t understand it now, but you believe that god has really really good and valid motives and knows so much more than we do, so it’s all OK. But all you’re really saying is that you don’t know either. You’re trying to convince yourself with long-winded arguments that cite some of the right names, but still don’t deliver the one little thing that’s missing. They don’t prove god – yours or anyone’s.

              So while it might be fun to discuss philosophical possibilities, it all remains hypothetical because you haven’t shown a shred of evidence that any god exists, let alone yours. Feel free to produce that evidence.

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              The original question which after much handwaving you have still not answered:

              “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
              Then he is not omnipotent.

              Is he able, but not willing?
              Then he is malevolent.

              Is he both able and willing?
              Then whence cometh evil?

              Is he neither able nor willing?
              Then why call him God?”

              A better effort than Zephan, much better than Jason, but you still have not actually said anything new here. You have merely reasserted the same premise that Epicurus was pointing out the problem with in the first place.

              I think maybe you are still misunderstanding what is meant by impotent. It isn’t a pejorative statement. The point isn’t to say yhvh can’t get an erection (although I get a sophomoric giggle out of the implied mocking of the sexual virility of a patriarchal god). It is simply to say god can’t. Your example of god not being able to warn us already calls him impotent.

              Or perhaps you just don’t get what is meant by omnipotent. If god is omnipotent then he is all powerful, meaning everything is in his control. If it is so, it is because he has decided it shall be so. If larger circumstances demand that he must make it so, it is because he decreed those circumstances in the first place. If there are larger concerns that god is bound to, if god couldn’t have made it another way, then you need to drop one of your omnis. Maybe we’re not talking about the same god. How are you defining “omnipotent” here?

              “Sunny Day and Nox, Both of you take the stance that there can be no possible good reasons for allowing evil and suffering. There’s no way you can know that.”

              No. I simply refuse to make the unfounded leap from “we can’t know the mind of god” to “god has good reasons”. You keep inserting necessity into everyone’s statements. There is a difference between not accepting the possibility of a statement and not accepting the truth of a statement (and if you read my earlier statements in this thread you’ll see I’ve said that god is not necessarily evil). I’m not saying no good reason could ever possibly exist. I’m saying the reason isn’t good.

              In order to determine a particular god’s nonexistence, we do not need to map out every inch of the Universe to see if there’s a god hiding there. We only need to determine that the concept of god is incoherent and almost certainly wrong. Human logic is sufficient for that.

              In order to determine that god (if he exists) has a moral obligation to his creations, we do not need to see every possible motivation of a god’s eye view. We only need to determine that conscious beings are responsible for the foreknown results of their actions. Again human logic is fully up to the task.

              The problem isn’t that no reasons could possibly exist. It’s that whatever reasons god may have, if he exists he has a responsibility for how things turn out, including the fate of any conscious beings who happen to be harmed by his action/inaction. Humans do exist. And whether god exists it is humans who have to bear the results of “god”. Maybe god causes these things and maybe he doesn’t. Maybe god exists and maybe he doesn’t. In either case it is us that has to deal with it.

              That is our authority for judging the mind of the creator. I wasn’t there when he “laid the foundations of the Earth”, but I know enough about Earth to know that it’s architecht shouldn’t even be using that phrase metaphorically. I can’t draw out Leviathon with a hook, but we haven’t established Leviathon as a thing that even exists let alone needs to be hooked. I can’t make unicorns serve me, but unicorns or not, I gotta live on this rock (in case this paragraph is too cryptic for anyone here, it is in reference to god defending his master plan to Job with what amounts to “were you there”).

              Unlike god, I can provide evidence of my own existence (and unlike yhvh, I’m not the alleged author of a book that codifies the most primitive modes of human thought), and unlike god I can be held morally accountable for my actions and their consequences to myself and other living things. I would expect a theist to read this as hubris, but this actually does make me a better arbiter than god. I am qualified to say what is good because I can honestly ask ‘what is good?’.

              At every step in the evolution of human consciousness there have been those who crippled our reason by inserting god’s motives into the process. Not one has ever shown a scrap of evidence that god exists, that god has good motives or any particular motives, that it is in the best interest of humanity to prioritize god’s motives over what is best for things that exist, or that they are telling the truth when they relate the unknown will of an unknown deity. If any god wishes to step in and state their reasons then let them do so. But prioritizing the feelings of an unestablished entity has caused enough problems already.

              That some undefined reason might exist is not a reason. That some undefined inscrutable highly unlikely completely unneccessary being might exist who may or may not have some undefined reason but we should totally assume it’s a good one so we should just trust him (by which you mean trust the people who claim to speak for him), is also not a reason.

              Perhaps the question that needs to be addressed first is not Epicurus, but Euthyphro. There’s not much point arguing whether god’s reasons are good if we’re not using the same definition of good reasons. Really we can’t have any meaningful discussion of things like “good” or “bad”, if we’re not using the same definitions of those words.

              What is good? Why is it good? How is it separate from things that are bad? If “good” is a meaningless word then “god is good” is a meaningless concept. If we agreed (and I for one don’t) to define “good” as “godly” then obviously we would have to say that whatever god’s reasons are must be good. I mean god approved of it so it’s okay. By this logic of course god could call anything good and it would be, which makes this a nonfunctioning definition. Since we’re already discussing Sam Harris we could try Harris’ definition, “that which benefits the flourishing of conscious creatures”. It’s still subjective, but it gives us a good general yardstick (rocks and gods can fend for themselves).

              What reason are you proposing god may have? And what makes god’s reasons better than human reason? The closest thing to an answer you have put forward is that god doesn’t care about anyone besides himself. Selfishness in humans is rightfully considered a trait of a small mind. Yet you assert god’s selfishness and then cite it as a reason that his ways are higher than ours.

              If you really are proposing a god who controls the Universe capriciously, concerned only for himself with no thought for how his actions affect the existing things that have to live with them. Then I would say such a god is irrelevent at best, somewhere between an absent father and a cosmic tyrant. If such a being did exist, we would not only have no moral obligation to him, we would have a moral obligation to our fellow humans to oppose this unelected dictator.

              (As an aside if we are talking about the christian god, we would have reason to suspect that his reasons are not bigger than ours. If the bible is to be believed, his stated motives are tribal at best.)

        • Shoebutton

          God hates reply buttons

          • Firebeard

            I’m not saying no good reason could ever possibly exist. I’m saying the reason isn’t good.

            What reasons have you been analyzing to classify them as such?

            It’s that whatever reasons god may have, if he exists he has a responsibility for how things turn out, including the fate of any conscious beings who happen to be harmed by his action/inaction.

            When have I said that He doesn’t take responsibility for conscious Beings? Throughout the entire narrative of my position, I have maintained that God’s decisions/reasoning for moral decisions are coupled with action or inaction, which classified as good would entail responsible.

            The closest thing to an answer you have put forward is that god doesn’t care about anyone besides himself.

            I never said that. I said that God’s highest priority would have to be Himself, and everything else (including us) would be ordered by that priority. I have explained my reasoning for saying that. If you want to discuss that reasoning, then we can get somewhere, rather than making a strawman out of my position.

            Selfishness in humans is rightfully considered a trait of a small mind. Yet you assert god’s selfishness and then cite it as a reason that his ways are higher than ours.

            Why is selfishness in humans considered a trait of a small mind? Because human beings are limited beings. Thus, human beings with large minds work towards efforts “bigger than themselves,” as they say: things like helping others, pursuing breakthroughs for humanity, helping the planet, etc. Selflessness in humans is marked by attempts to think larger than oneself.

            Bringing the same classification over to God in the case of selfishness makes no sense. It is a category mistake.

            How does it make sense for the largest possible Being to be selfless? What does make sense is for Him to consider Himself to be the standard. To be selfish. His ideas really would be the best ideas, His self-interests would be the best interests, His plans would have to be the best ones.

            There is no expectation for an omnipredicate Being to “be selfless” and “pursue a cause larger than Himself.” He is the largest cause.

            This doesn’t mean He’d just ignore everyone else as you claimed. It means that everyone else would be dealt with in the best possible way because His prioritization scheme would be properly aligned.

            If the bible is to be believed, his stated motives are tribal at best.

            Just remember it was you who brought up the Bible.

            How does the narrative of the Bible lead to tribalism?

            Disagree with God’s methods as you may, but biblical the scope of God plan is most certainly multi-ethnic.

            Furthermore, this is not just a New Testament concept. It is a theme which threads its way throughout the entire Bible.

            Here are some samples:

            Genesis 12:3
            “I will bless those who bless you,
            and whoever curses you I will curse;
            and all peoples on earth
            will be blessed through you.”

            God wanted to partner up with a person (Abram) in His creation, and wanted to make a tribe out of him. He wanted to make sure Abram’s tribe didn’t get messed with (obviously because its his tribe He’s working with), but His end goal in working with him was to bless all peoples on earth.

            Psalm 67
            “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us–
            so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
            May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
            May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity, and guide the nations of the earth.
            May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
            The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.
            May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.”

            This psalm talks a whole lot about God getting all the attention, but remember the premise: if God’s the best thing around then He should be getting all the attention, and what He wants should be what everyone wants. But it doesn’t just talk about God getting all the glory, when God is given proper priority (in everyone’s eyes including His own), that’s when things are good: “May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity, and guide the nations of the earth.”

            If the God of the Universe is deciding to act in the lives of a desert tribe on puny little earth, you’d expect Him to behave differently than all of the other gods of the time. And He did.

            All the other gods of all the other tribes were concerned only for the people of their tribe. Global scope was never considered, especially not global scope which sought benefit and blessings for all the peoples of the earth. Your god was for you and your tribe alone. The God of the Bible doesn’t act that way.

            Isaiah 42:1-7
            “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
            my chosen one in whom I delight;
            I will put my Spirit on him,
            and he will bring justice to the nations.
            He will not shout or cry out,
            or raise his voice in the streets.
            A bruised reed he will not break,
            and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
            In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
            he will not falter or be discouraged
            till he establishes justice on earth.
            In his teaching the islands will put their hope.
            This is what God the LORD says—
            the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
            who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
            who gives breath to its people,
            and life to those who walk on it:
            I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
            I will take hold of your hand.
            I will keep you and will make you
            to be a covenant for the people
            and a light for the Gentiles [i.e. every other tribe in the world],
            to open eyes that are blind,
            to free captives from prison
            and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” (emphasis mine)

            And indeed, as the Biblical narration goes, this servant, mentioned in Isaiah, did come directly from the tribe through which God said He’d bless the world.

            John 1:29
            “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

            You know the story, Jesus takes the punishment for the sins of the world, and it’s the good news (i.e. gospel) of this display of love which He desires that everyone accept from Him and live by, and thereby be a blessing to the world.

            And He says that this era is not done until all peoples know about it and are blessed by it:

            Matthew 24:14
            “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

            As I said earlier this is just a sampling from across all of the Bible. There are many more passages which demonstrate the theme of God’s work as global/multi-ethnic/for all tribes and peoples…not as a form of tribalism.

            You may protest that God worked too slowly, choosing to pick one guy, to make one tribe, to work with over the course of years to bless the world…but why make a creation, indeed conscious self-acting beings, unless you include that creation, those beings in your work?

            If God was going to do everything Himself why would He make people in the first place?

            God can simply desire to include other self-determining beings in what He does.

            The idea that God would allow evil for the sake of having conscious willing beings rather than automatons is not complete nonsense. Not that He had to, but that He wanted to.

            It fits within the concept of an omnipotent Being, that He do things because He desires them, not that He is limited to them. Why can’t it be that God, simply by wanting to, would’ve thought to create other self-determining beings?

            How should we expect a Being with unlimited possibilities to have to exclude us from all decision making, all problem solving, all chances to fight evil on our own or even along with Him, and all ability to be part of our own solutions?

            He should’ve just made us simple, black and white, like a fifties sitcom, blandly following a robotic program…

            …or perhaps He should be stepping in every time we get in trouble, He should be our nanny wiping our dribbling mouths, never desiring that we might seek, or purpose, or create things on our own like art, music, poetry, philosophy, science, just like the beings He made us to be.

            I project an image of a God who made people whom He wants to include in His work, yet at the same time allows them to step out on a limb, to do things on their own, to solve problems, and to choose whether or not they want to love Him.

            How ’bout those for good reasons to sit back from humanity every once and a while?

            • Theory_of_I

              @firebeard:

              As this discussion has been centered on an artificial set of supposed attributes of an unknowable deity (your construct) and as you argue that your assertions be accepted as logical even though they are not related to any substantiated reality and cannot be demonstrated by means of any kind of evidence, then I can agree your concept is logical. You will agree reciprocally that my concept of your deity as imagined fantasy is at least equally logical.

              Neither of us has a shred of factual evidence to prove the truth of our concepts. I won’t even try to prove mine but, since you undoubtedly will yours, let’s expand a bit on your idea:

              Using your rationale, no more, no less, I propose that there is a Superdeity that has killed your mere god and caused it to explode, thereby creating out of it’s dying remains what we think of as the universe.

              The Superdeity has the exact attributes you assign to your dead god and for the same logical reasons. To quote you, “Any claim which I have made about [Superdeity] has been simply to clarify what a proper logical view of the concept [Superdeity] looks like.” One exception is that it doesn’t know or care that sentient beings exist.

              Do you deny this concept is as logically valid or truthful as yours? On what grounds?

  • adamfludd

    Though I haven’t had time to read the whole thread carefully since Firebeard first posted, I’d like to (after a brief skimming of the points raised here) logically strengthen his argument a little bit.

    Many of the commenters who have responded are right in saying something along the following lines: “Yes, it is certainly possible that God may have good reasons for allowing suffering, etc. But appealing to God’s reasons for doing things implies that God has to, well, “reason” about what to do– that he has to consider the possibilities and act within some kind of logical confines to achieve his intended outcome. Perhaps God needs suffering to take place because of [insert inane hand-waving here]. Fine. But the point remains that that God is not omnipotent, because an omnipotent God could simply do the best thing, reasons be damned. An omnipotent God would not have to strategize, to calculate outcomes, or to compromise in any way, and therefore there CAN be no reason for an omnipotent God to allow evil.”

    Yet, logically, Firebeard has a point. At least in the relatively weak formulation given by Harris above, we might simply say that catastrophes etc. — suffering in general– is not evil. That is a logical possibility that would allow an omnipredicate God to skirt around most Theodicy arguments: evil simply does not exist, and what we see as evil is in fact, not.

    This is logically very different from saying that God, for unspecified and unknowable reasons, “has to” allow evils to exist.

    In the classic Epicurean formulation, we are told that a God who allows “evil” (unspecified in nature) to exist must fail to attain either omnipotence, omniscience, or omnibenevolence; and that’s harder to get around, because it’s pretty logically sound. I tend to agree with the harder formulation, because I can see no reason why an omnipredicate God would allow evil, and agree with the posters above that “reasons” implies non-omnipotence.

    However, the theist can get around this objection just as easily by maintaining that there is no actual evil in the world– still, as Firebeard (I think) is trying to say, a logical possibility.

    Now, the reason that I don’t like the Theodicy argument is that it puts us atheists in an uncomfortable position. It’s pretty safe to assume that an atheist with a naturalistic worldview would hold that there is no such thing as metaphysical, moral evil– that “evil” is a relative concept related to the experience of suffering and is dependent on human consciousness, emotion, desire, and to some extent culture. As an atheist who believes this, I feel a little strange using the assumption of the existence of metaphysical evil to prove that God doesn’t exist. In my worldview, there is no evil except for from the human perspective, and therefore my universe is (ironically) consistent with an omnipredicate God!

    Just wanted to play God’s advocate for a moment. I’ll read the thread in more depth later but for now, any thoughts?

    • Azel

      That still doesn’t get God off the hook, because even if the only existing evil is relative evil, depending on human relations and subjective suffering, God still allows it to exist.
      And if there is only relative evil, there is also only relative good and there goes omnibenevolence.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      Kodie,

      The apartment analogy was brilliant.

      Adamfludd,

      Basically agreed.

      Epicurus does not establish that there can be no god. It simply points out a damning logical flaw in a particular view of god (the one which seems to be held by a majority of people who believe in god) (and sometimes by Firebeard). If the 3xomni god existed there should be no suffering at all. But I have no problem admitting the possibility of a somewhat powerful, basically nice being who knows a lot, who may potentially be in some overseeing or creative position in the Universe. I suppose we could even call it god and still say this is compatible with the suffering of conscious creatures and everything else we’ve observed.

      The philosopher’s god isn’t a bad guy. But would he even notice whether anyone prays to him? This is why I add “or doesn’t give a f*ck” to Harris’ version of Epicurus. Because it is a legitimate option. I can conceive of a god who has no ill will to humans but doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about us, or may not even know we exist. Perhaps life on Earth is an unintended side effect of god engineering certain processes into the Universe in order to ensure that his real chosen people would evolve on some distant unrelated planet.

      Such a god is coherent and consistent, but a little unnecessary (basically his main job is making sure natural processes go the way they would anyway). If such a god existed, I’d probably not call it malevolent, but I’d have trouble imagining why anyone would worship it or why it would want anyone to.

      • adamfludd

        Exactly–
        The problem with this one loophole to the Theodicy is that, once you have established a completely amoral universe run by an amoral and indifferent God, you’ve gained logical consistency at the cost of having to believe in a God that is basically useless in a religious sense. It’s even worse if you are forced to say that suffering, Nazism, tapeworms, etc. are in fact good in themselves (and not just a circumstantial, summative good in the sense that they are necessary to achieve a greater good of some kind)– it’s hard to imagine any religious person taking this strategy seriously. And it is certainly incompatible with being a Christian.

    • critterfluffy

      This is a very well thought out argument but it fails to take into account that nearly all religions have evil as either an example of bad behavior or used as a threat. If there is no evil then none of these religions are again correct.

      So we are left with
      a) Impotent
      b) evil
      c) imaginary
      d) not the god of any major religion

      Also to comment on other people stating that in other examples there are other choices then please, provide another choice but the ones above. I would love to add a legitimate e)

  • Elliot

    Well this is like saying “You have this carrot. It can be shoved into your eye, your gut, or your butt. Choose wisely.” Can’t it also go in my mouth even though it might turn into shit later? At least I’m being productive with myself.

    I’m not religious, but I’m going to side with Pascal’s Wager on this one.

  • Olive

    Hey guys, remember deism? Still a valid option! :)

    On the other hand, this is probably the worst argument I’ve ever heard against the existence of God (no offense, Epi) because it presumes that humans know or can understand exactly what God is up to and why.


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