Do True Christians wear seat belts?

DrB-

Millions of people who claim to be Christians drove to and home from churches yesterday. How many of them wore a seat belt while they did so?

Consider, that if you are a True Christian (™) who believes in The One True God (™) , you may believe the following:

1. Heaven and Hell are real, and you will go to one of them after you die.

2. You will go to Heaven when you die, and you strongly desire to be there.

3. That intentional suicide is a sin.

 

If you believed those things, would you wear a seat belt?

 


You can find me on twitter, @DrDavidBurger

  • Glodson

    In their defense: not all car accidents are lethal. Jesus might save, but spending weeks in physical therapy might just suck. And some would even say that while they can’t wait to get to Heaven, they also want to enjoy this gift of life, or some other bullshit. Then there’s the idea that they want to stay alive as a part of God’s plan, even though that begs the question of why God lets one of his pawns get into a wreck… Moving on quickly, some might say that the seatbelt was made by God to protect us, which begs the question of why even needing it in the first place…

    I’m sure there’s a good, logical way to answer that question. The problem is that the answers themselves will create even more problems. One might say that life is a gift, but then if it is a gift, why do some Christians have it ripped away so violently? One might say that it is because of the Fall of Man, so we need to protect ourselves, and the trap is averted by saying while the Christian isn’t worried about their own death, they are worried about the very real problems and grief their death would cause, in the short term. Of course, why God wouldn’t take care of the families and loved ones left behind is a mystery.

    See? I can answer the question as to why Christians would wear a seatbelt. But not without creating more problems.

    A note to any religious person reading this: Wear your seatbelt. Please do that. I don’t want to see anyone dying or getting injured because they had faith in a god. Maybe we’re somehow wrong about this and you’ll be fine in the afterlife, but you will leave behind suffering and pain as people mourn your death.

  • tumeyn

    Very strange post. Are you suggesting that people who really believe those three things would live reckless lives HOPING to get inadvertently killed? That’s rather strange thinking because Christians also believe that:
    1) Life, as God made it, is enjoyable and valuable – worth living. (physical bodies are good and pleasurable)
    2) We are put here for a purpose (ie, God has a plan of some sort for my life)
    3) God holds us responsible for what we do and don’t do with our lives (ie, neglecting to do something good is just as much of a “sin” as doing something bad)
    4) Relationships matter (I don’t want to hurt my family/friends by dropping dead)
    5) The actions that we do here actually may impact OTHER people’s ultimate destiny and wellbeing. (both in this life and the next)

    Remind me again of what your question is?

    • Glodson

      Problems with this:
      1. What about all the kids with cancer? Life is pain and hardship for them and their families. And, notably, very short. It is one of the more heartbreaking things to see first hand, to see them suffer for no reason, and knowing that they’ll likely die soon. Their lives are valuable, but it cannot be said that their physical bodies are good and pleasurable. Not to mention the men, women, and children who live in pain and starvation through no fault of their own. Many of both sets are Christians, but all are humans.
      2. If we are here for a purpose, why do we need the seatbelt? Why would god let a needed pawn die before we carried out his plan? This is faulty as well.
      3. We might be responsible for what we do, but how can we be held accountable for not wearing a seatbelt? It isn’t a sin, and dying will just send you straight to Heaven in a lethal accident. Accident is important here as the dynamic will change if the wreck is intended by the Christian. And then that’s dependent on how that domination sees the consequences of a particular sin. Which shows the vagueness of the religion.
      4. This is something I would stress, but then why would a loving god allow a family to suffer, especially a faithful family? Why would this god punish the family by allowing them to suffer?
      5. Yes, this is related to point 2. If god has a plan, then wouldn’t my death in a car wreck be part of that plan? If not, if I’m a part of his plan and I die unexpectedly in a car wreck, god isn’t all-knowing or all-powerful. So god either wants me to die or not die. If he doesn’t want me to die, then I won’t. So no need for a seatbelt. But if I am to die then and there, no seatbelt will save me. So no need for a seatbelt.

      Don’t get me wrong, when I counter your points, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t wear the seatbelt. Dr Burger isn’t saying that either. The point is that there’s a problem with faith. Even those who are deeply religious take these precautions, act as if there isn’t a god watching over their well-being. We might pray for safety, but we take the precautions. When nothing happens, we praise the god even though it was our efforts that kept us safe. It is almost like there’s no god.

      • sqlrob

        Well, a car is effectively an iron chariot, so god can’t affect that in any way.
        /game, set, match

        Damn weak god, ain’t it? I just don’t get why he didn’t tell his followers about that “magic potion” of bat dung, brimstone, and charcoal, that would handily dispose of an iron chariot. Oh yeah, he doesn’t exist.

        • Glodson

          But… there’s not a whole lot of iron…

          Ah, got it!

          It wasn’t the iron in the chariots, it was the horses! That was the problem. Those horrible demon horses in the next valley over.

    • iknklst

      Judging from your number one, I’m assuming you are not a Calvinist. Certainly not a Puritan. At one time, such a statement could have gotten you a nice long stay in the stocks.

    • Brad1990

      I’m going to go ahead and focus on 2) there, because that’s the hole in your argument. If God has a plan for us then our actions don’t matter. Either we need to live longer in order to fulfill His plan, or his plan for us is to die right there. The latter being the case, I don’t think wearing a seatbelt is somehow going to foil the plan of an omnipotent God, so there’s little point wearing one. Equally if God does not wish you to die right then and there then the actions of some other driver (who is also fulfilling God’s separate plan for them, which in this instance happens to involve being very drunk behind the wheel of a pickup) are going to be equally ineffective at foiling the plan of the aforementioned ineffible being. So, if you truly believe God is an omnipotent infallible being who has a plan for you and everyone else on the planet, then there is no point wearing a seatbelt or indeed taking any precautionary measures in anything, ever.

  • Gregg R. Thomas

    In some areas both believers and heathens are required by law to wear seatbelts…next…

    • sqlrob

      Yeah, and there’s laws against defacing an atheist billboard too. Doesn’t stop ‘em from showing their faith.

  • tumeyn

    Glodson writes:
    “If we are here for a purpose, why do we need the seatbelt?”
    I could also easily ask: If I’m here for a purpose, why bother eating? God could miraculously sustain me. Why bother running from a bear? God could save me, right? Your question quickly boils down to this: Why did God grant us free-will at all? If he had a purpose, he could easily have accomplished it with some sort of automatia (robotic) form of life. Or he could have bypassed us altogether and snapped his fingers to “poof” his will into existence. But that isn’t what we see. We, indeed, appear to have free will.

    But this makes complete sense in light of the Bible. The Bible maintains that the purpose of God’s creation of mankind was for relationship. This can’t be accomplished without free will. He wants a relationship with mankind and has granted us the dignity of causation. My actions matter. They can fit with his plans or they can work against his plans.

    “why would a loving god allow a family to suffer, especially a faithful family?”
    Obviously this question has plagued all Jewish and Christian faith since their inception. This is a question wrestled with repeatedly in the Bible, from cover to cover. Certainly I don’t have a good answer. But your question is not really an external attack on Christianity, but rather questioning whether it is internally consistent or not. So therefore I’ll remind you of two Christian beliefs.
    1) God can have reasons for actions that I don’t understand, and never will. Just because I can’t think of a good reason does not mean that there isn’t a good reason. There are lots of ways that I annoy and even hurt my kids for reasons that they do not understand – and will not understand until they become parents themselves.
    2) God’s primary interest is not in my comfort. The Bible clearly states that his main interest is in our moral character and our relationship with him. A comfortable life is often not compatible with this. Think of the most “perfect” person that Christians believe in: Jesus. Did he have a comfortable life? Then why should I expect a comfortable, pain-free life?

    “Even those who are deeply religious take these precautions, act as if there isn’t a god watching over their well-being. ”

    I never argued that a god is “watching over my well-being”. I said that God has a purpose for my life. That purpose is almost certainly NOT just for my physical well being.

    • sqlrob

      Yet God has no problem removing free will (see: Pharaoh), nor does he have issues with doing stuff for no good reason (see: Job)

      • kagekiri

        We also lose free will in Heaven, or at least, we lose the ability to feel sad (no tears in heaven) or do much besides worship God like a mindless automaton.

        Which of course, makes you wonder why God didn’t just make us mindlessly good/obedient in the first place. The entire purpose of free will seems to be so God can send some/most people to Hell.

        God could’ve made us sinful but created only beings he KNEW (being omniscient) would eventually go to heaven, but God made people he knew would go to hell too, of his own flipping sovereign will. He could’ve just cursed all sinners with infertility, but instead he punishes their descendants for many generations afterwards.

        Which means God seems to greatly value torturing people he supposedly loves for eternity and punishing people for the crimes of their ancestors, and also that he doesn’t really need free will to have good worshipers/followers.

        The whole “why free will” thing was so hard to grasp as a Christian. I had to default to the “God’s ways are higher” crap to avoid thinking too much about it, as it all falls apart if you compare God’s “higher” ways to any basic human decency.

        As for tumeyn’s “but parents do things their kids don’t like/understand!” Yeah, but parents endlessly TORTURING their children for reasons the children don’t understand or the parents refuse to explain? Those parents are just fundamentally evil. God is, at best, an extremely abusive, manipulative, and hateful character who does things no decent person should respect.

    • iknklst

      Can I see some evidence that God has a purpose for your life? Otherwise, how do you know? And don’t cite the Bible at me, because then I will ask you for evidence that the Bible is valid evidence…and so on. You can’t cite the absolute goodness of your book and expect all of us here to suddenly fall all over ourselves in apologetic backtracking. I’ve actually read the thing, and you’re going to have a long way to go to convince me that you can know what God wants from reading a book full of contradictions and mutually exclusive orders. I maintain that YOU have a purpose for your life, and you give God the credit.

      • tumeyn

        No, of course I can’t prove that God has a purpose for my life. But that wasn’t the question. The original question was about whether Christian beliefs are internally consistent. I maintain that they are. However, that does not mean that they are provable.

        I can’t prove to you that morality exists. Nor free will. Nor beauty. Nor love. But belief in those things is not illogical. That’s what I’m saying about Christianity. No, it isn’t provable. But it isn’t illogical.

        • Glodson

          Christianity is not like love, or beauty. Love is an emotion, I can point to where love is generated in your brain, I can define what I consider love. Same with beauty, I can make a definition for beauty and argue what is or isn’t beautiful.

          Free Will can be argued over, and shown to exist or not exist. We can look at the neurology and see how we change as part of our brains change. If you make the claim that free will exists, it is incumbent upon you to provide proof, or a line of reasoning as why Free will should exist.

          Christianity isn’t like any of those. Christianity is predicated on the existence of a specific deity with specific qualities. We can show this god exists or doesn’t exist by examining any evidence for such a deity. Failure to provide evidence for this deity destroys religion. If YWHW doesn’t have a real existence, Christianity doesn’t make sense. If Jesus wasn’t divine, Christianity doesn’t make sense. This is a claim we can evaluated. It isn’t a subjective and abstract idea.

          • Randomfactor

            I’d say that if YWHW does exist as stated, and Jesus was divine, the whole “dying-on-the-cross-resurrection-thing” STILL doesn’t make sense. As Yoda would have said “redeem, or redeem not. There is no ‘Rube Goldberg scheme to set aside your own previous decision under certain unclear circumstances which are completely arbitrary anyway.’”

          • Glodson

            @Randomfactor

            I would say that if a Christianity deity is real as put forth in the Bible, there’s no way we could consider this to be anything other than malevolent deity. Jesus was killed in a sadistic manner, but then by allowing Jesus to die, we see the idea of Hell emerging. This serves as a justification for the eternal torture of billions who don’t believe. I would say that the story of the resurrection doesn’t make sense in the context of a benevolent deity. But a sadistic deity? It makes more sense.

    • Glodson

      I could also easily ask: If I’m here for a purpose, why bother eating? God could miraculously sustain me. Why bother running from a bear? God could save me, right? Your question quickly boils down to this: Why did God grant us free-will at all? If he had a purpose, he could easily have accomplished it with some sort of automatia (robotic) form of life. Or he could have bypassed us altogether and snapped his fingers to “poof” his will into existence. But that isn’t what we see. We, indeed, appear to have free will.

      This raises so many questions. First is the question of any positive evidence for the existence of YWHW. But the next one is proof for existence of Free Will. How does it work? What is the mechanism? The evidence before me tells me that my brain is the source of all my thoughts and actions. Damage the brain, you change how I will act. This does not bode well for the existence of free will. And again, if god needs us for a plan, then you shouldn’t be able to die. But then what if you, by your own free will, elect to ignore god’s plan? What happens? Well, if we are going to go with the Bible, god makes you do it anyways. So why do we even need the concept of free will? Then why should we pray for the salvation of others? If they have free will, then god will either have to supplant their free will in order to grant the request, or god cannot grant the request reducing god to being less than omnipotent.

      But this makes complete sense in light of the Bible. The Bible maintains that the purpose of God’s creation of mankind was for relationship. This can’t be accomplished without free will. He wants a relationship with mankind and has granted us the dignity of causation. My actions matter. They can fit with his plans or they can work against his plans.

      If our actions work against god’s plans, why are we supposed to worship him? He is definitely not as powerful as us then. Worse, if God created us for a relationship, he’s an abusive jerk considering the Bible. He drowned mankind in a rage. He created the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and then punished mankind for eating it. Think about that. God, the father of Mankind, punished his children for eating the forbidden fruit before they could tell the difference between Good and Evil. Why did even create the damned tree in the first place? This tale fits in well with the worldview of the ancients, where gods are typically presented as uncaring and callow to their creations. This is the actions of an abusive person. If there’s a God as presented by the Bible, failure to follow his wishes will condemn a man to Hell. If I were to tell me wife that if she doesn’t listen to me and do what I will, I’ll torture her, I would be treated a monster. And rightfully so.

      This all is contingent on the Bible, for which I have no reason to even hold to be true. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s no evidence of the Hebrew people existing until around 1,100 BCE. Worse, what about all nearly 100,000 years of Anatomically Modern humans existing? Why didn’t he give are ancestors any guidance? Why just those few tribes of Semitic peoples? Why isn’t this message universal?

      Obviously this question has plagued all Jewish and Christian faith since their inception. This is a question wrestled with repeatedly in the Bible, from cover to cover. Certainly I don’t have a good answer. But your question is not really an external attack on Christianity, but rather questioning whether it is internally consistent or not. So therefore I’ll remind you of two Christian beliefs.

      Now this is talking about theodicy. Which is a nice way of trying to figure out how to get out of a major plothole in the Abrahamic narrative. We have a god that is supposed to be the source of good, and is opposed to evil, but is all-powerful. And this all-powerful and perfectly benevolent deity allows for evil. There’s so many bad explanations for that, and it all amounts to patching up a glaring plothole in the narrative. One is the Free Will Argument, which you touched on earlier. Apart from the problem of explaining where our free will comes from, there’s another problem. God cannot be all-knowing if free will exists. Which means that God is either all-knowing or there’s no free will. This is not so much a problem for Calvinists, who just believe that god is a straight up psychopath.

      Theodicy is a major problem for theology. There’s ideas that evil exists because it is required for soul-making, as man cannot love without pain. Which is just ridiculous and can be dismissed as we understand that our feeling pain and love come from two different parts of the brain, and are not dependent on each other.

      For explanation one is an example of theodicy often called “mysterious ways.” It is such an ambiguous answer that it cannot be commented on in any meaningful manner. Maybe for the faithful, there’s some compensation that makes it worth it, but what about the unfaithful? Why even allow use to have that option if by a quirk of who our parents are, what our culture is, how our brains work, that we reject the right religion and get condemned to hell? The vast, vast majority of people adopt the religious positions of their parents, and those religions are often, by some odd magic, the right and correct religions. Everyone else is just boned. Why? Why allow that? And that does make god seem like a petty scorekeeper. And maybe this allows for the answer of mysterious ways for the faithful. But it still leaves people, often for no fault of their own, out. Worse, why even do that when he could just do one big act to show he exists? Why this asinine test? It sounds like the acts of a sadist.

      As for 2: Jesus got the pay-off. Again, look at what I said above. It isn’t just the pain, it is that Jesus got about 33 good years. How about those kids with cancer again? What justification could any deity who is sufficiently powerful enough to cure them of that suffer to allow these children to suffer so?

      And all of this is granting the existences of things that I need not grant. There’s no solid proof for the existence of god to begin with. There’s no solid proof for the divinity of Jesus. There’s even room for doubting his existence. The claims of the Bible fail.

      For example Mark 16:17-18 which says:

      And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

      Yea, you get sick, get to the doctor’s. Don’t ask your local preacher to just lay hands on you. Don’t drink any deadly thing, you’ll die. That’s what deadly means. But these are to be signs of a follower. This is a problem. It is a claim, much like the prayer or the three-hour eclipse. None of them happen. We can show this to be false.

      The whole seatbelt idea can be seen as a Turing Test for the faithful. Everyone acts as if there’s no god watching out for us, and we live pretty well doing so. It is easy to say that faith matters when we talk about the abstract. But you aren’t going to pray for god’s help when you cut your leg. You are going to get a bandage, some rubbing alcohol, and take care of it as best you can until you get it stitched up. You aren’t going to merely pray for a safe journey, you are going to take steps to ensure it is safe.

      Now, if you have some evidence that YWHW is real, that might be something. However, anything presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. The whole point is that faith is easy when it is abstract, it is less easy when we start trying to test it empirically.

      • tumeyn

        Glodson,
        A quick non-theology question: How do you do the little “grey box” around quotations of mine? That’s great. It makes things you write very easy to read. Thanks.

        • Glodson

          Okay, I tried this once and it failed. Let me try it this way. Maybe it won’t fail. The code is blockquote.

          To do this, hold the shift key and press the “,” key. This will give you the character you need. The last time I did this, the comment window ate the character, so that’s why I need this convoluted bit. Okay, [shift ","]blockquote[ shift "."] Quote [shift ","]/blockquote[shift "."]

          No [ ] characters, just follow the instructions in the [ ] and use blockquote, and be sure to close the command with the /blockquote when you finish the quote.

          If that wasn’t clear, read this.

        • sqlrob

          Let’s see if the blog handles this right…
          <blockquote>
          Stuff goes here
          </blockquote>

          That would show up as

          Stuff goes here

          And to type < you use &lt; and to type > you use &gt; otherwise things may behave strangely.

          /me keeps fingers crossed that this actually works.

          • Glodson

            Oh goddamnit, I didn’t even think of writing it like that.

          • tumeyn

            Thanks!!

      • tumeyn

        Glodson, great post. Obviously I can’t answer everything point-by-point. That’s a crazy way to have a conversation. But I’ll make a few comments:

        1) You ask how free-will works. What is its mechanism? Since when did mechanism become a prerequisite for belief? We had very good reasons for belief in genetics long before DNA was discovered. We had very good reasons for belief in gravity long before Newton and Einstein. I can’t convince you that anyone has free will. But perhaps this question will stimulate some thought: Perhaps we just appear to have free will. Perhaps it is an illusion. If that is so, then why are you trying to convince me that your views are correct? If free-will is not a reality, then you believe atheism, not because it is rational, but because the molecules bouncing around your neurons lead you to say certain things. You have no choice in the matter. I have no choice but to be a Christian. It was predetermined by the dice of chance and the laws of physics. So remind me why again why we are having this conversation? The fact that we are engaging in this discussion reveals that we both are under the impression that we have free will – even if we don’t understand the mechanism.

        2) I won’t argue any point in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. My own personal belief is that those chapters are more of an allegorical history – not history in the sense that we think of today. Read chapters 1-11, then read chapter 12. There is a clear shift in genre.

        3) The verse you quote in Mark are not in the earliest manuscripts. They were appended to Mark about 200AD or so. Therefore I won’t defend them.

        4) You say “Everyone acts as if there’s no god watching out for us”. Yes, of course. I don’t believe that God is “watching out for us”, if by that you mean “watching out for our physical wellbeing”. That just isn’t biblical. You are attacking something that isn’t part of the Christian faith.

        5) “The vast, vast majority of people adopt the religious positions of their parents, and those religions are often, by some odd magic, the right and correct religions. Everyone else is just boned. Why? Why allow that?” That’s a great question. One I struggle with a lot. But the simplistic faith that is presented by many evangelicals today is not what I am defending. There is very good (scriptural) reasons before thinking that God holds people responsible for the revelation that they have received – not for things that they could not have known. I can quote the various verses, but I doubt you are interested.

        • tumeyn

          There is very good (scriptural) reasons before thinking that God holds people responsible for the revelation that they have received – not for things that they could not have known.

          Sorry, I should have said:
          There are very good (scriptural) reasons FOR thinking that God holds people responsible for the revelation that they have received – not for things that they could not have known.

          • Glodson

            In that case, people spreading the word of God are condemning people who hold their own religions to be true to hell. If there’s a hell, which is the worst place anyone one person could ever go and a sure way to never go there is to not know of Jesus, then the spreading of the Gospel has condemned countless souls to hell.

        • sqlrob

          I won’t argue any point in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. My own personal belief is that those chapters are more of an allegorical history

          Why is Genesis clearly an allegorical history yet someone coming back from the dead is not? Someone who doesn’t show up in any of the major histories of the time even, describing events that aren’t described anywhere else.

        • Glodson

          Perhaps we just appear to have free will. Perhaps it is an illusion. If that is so, then why are you trying to convince me that your views are correct? If free-will is not a reality, then you believe atheism, not because it is rational, but because the molecules bouncing around your neurons lead you to say certain things. You have no choice in the matter. I have no choice but to be a Christian. It was predetermined by the dice of chance and the laws of physics. So remind me why again why we are having this conversation? The fact that we are engaging in this discussion reveals that we both are under the impression that we have free will – even if we don’t understand the mechanism.

          Our brains work in very specific ways. It is a strange thing, to think about thinking. This is where we walk into a veritable minefield. This is beyond the scope of what I’m capable of properly explaining, but I’ll give this much a shot. If there’s any free will, at all, it is an emergent property of the human brain, it is the most plausible explanation if there is any free will. My whole point is to eliminate the idea of the Ghost in the Machine. There’s no ghost. It is just your brain. Phrenology won’t work, but reverse phrenology might.

          Now, you don’t really make a choice, but we can learn. We can learn logic and reason. We can learn and apply the scientific method. I can explain my lines of reasoning, and I can try to show you what I’ve learned. It is up to you to accept or reject those ideas. It is up to you to apply these tools fairly or not. Now I don’t believe in free will, but that doesn’t mean that arguments and reasons don’t have an effect. I just know of no mechanism for free will to exist. As such, I cannot accept that free will does exist. I also reject the notion of a Laplacian Deterministic Universe, as I know that can’t exist either. I know I don’t have all the answers, but I do the best I can with the information available.

          2. This is a problem. Why there? Believe me, this is how I tried to rationalize my beliefs back when I was faithful as well. Basically, I made up my own version of the Omphalos hypothesis, and even the Day-Age hypothesis. I had no good reason for saying that most of the Old Testament was allegory or just the recorded history of a tribal people after centuries of oral traditions but the New Testament was mostly spot on.

          3. And we are getting into another problem. What parts are supposed to be there? How can God, when our eternal salvation hangs in the balance, allow any errors in critical passages? That is a strike against this god existing,or at least a strike against this god existing.

          4. Again, look to the Bible. Much of what people claim about prayer stems from that source. Intercessory Prayer, for example, is a common Christian idea where people ask god for help. Double blind studies show this doesn’t work. So that means that god either doesn’t grant them, can’t grant them, or doesn’t exist. If we assume he exists, this means that god lacks power or empathy. Either way, that doesn’t sound like a deity worth worship.

          Saying that god isn’t concerned with our physical well-being is a dodge. We are dodging the fact that there’s no god working for a tangible effect we can see. Saying that it is more about our souls begs the question: how do we even know there’s a soul?

          5. Well, I would be, but I require more than scripture. This is a great quote that seems to sum up my points well, from Epicurus. It is this:

          Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

          All we have left is the idea of mysterious ways, which is an unsatisfying answer as it leaves so much on the table unanswered. It is the idea that we mere humans can’t understand what god’s plans are. I utterly reject that. As a species, since the advent of writing, we have come so far despite our tribalistic tendencies to arbitrarily divide the world. We have examined spaces so small that we can’t even imagine the world on that scale. We have looked at times so small that they defy imagination. We have peeled back the origins of this Universe itself to mere moments before the Big Bang. We have found planets on the other side of this galaxy. We, as a species, can think in such large scales. We have used chemistry and our understanding of biology to make such advances in medicine that we can brush off illnesses that would have killed a few generations ago. Sadly, we have taken some of that knowledge to create horrors, like bombs that can recreate the Sun’s core briefly on Earth. Regardless, as a species, we can understand much. Hearing why a deity needs so many to suffer could be made sense of.

          And this begs one final question: why doesn’t a deity who wants a relationship with his creation seem to take such great pains to hide any evidence of his existence?

          • tumeyn

            Glodson,
            Let’s unpack this free-will issue a bit more. You claim that either it is:
            1) Nonexistent or
            2) An emergent property of high intelligence

            Arguing point #1 is futile. If #1 is true, then there will never be any way to KNOW that it is true. (and it leads to lots of uncomfortable conclusions – like the fact that no one is really responsible for their actions).

            So let’s ignore #1 and just assume that free will is an “emergent property”. Well, I have two major objections to this.
            1) “Emergent property” is a general catchphrase used to describe properties that cannot be explained by upward causation from fundamentals. (see the wikipedia article on the subject) This is exactly what I am saying. There is something more to us than just the laws of physics and chemistry. By definition, physics and chemistry will never be able to explain free will through causation (because free will implies DOWNWARD causation – where as physics and chemistry implies UPWARD causation).
            2) Let’s say, for arguement, that you are correct. Free will (and I’ll use conciousness as synonymous here) is simply the result of complexity and intelligence. Then, we should eventually be able to reproduce this in a robot or supercomputer, right? Let’s say that day comes. I have a supercomputer and a person in my backyard. I’m pointing a gun at them both. Both are pleading for their lives. Does it make any difference which one I shoot? Would destroying a person and destroying a supercomputer have equal moral culpability?

            You see, as a theist, I maintain something known as dualism. That we are more than just the components that form my physical body. That provides a basis for morality. I’m curious in your worldview where our value comes from.
            (please don’t turn this into another attack on the Bible – I really am curious about the above scenario. I genuinely don’t understand ethics in an atheistic framework. It’s easy to attack another persons morality. It’s much harder to formulate and defend your own.)

          • Kodie

            We don’t really have free will at the start from things like needing food to eat. Free will would involve intentionally not eating, or depend on what we can choose to eat. We don’t necessarily have free will to eat if there is nothing to eat, or if there are no choices available – I will be hungry and I will eat whatever that one thing is even if I would rather eat something else. Choose to not eat it and die from hunger? That’s your only other choice.

            I thought “free will” worked like that. You can choose to be in the arms of the Lord or you can spite yourself and go to hell. I didn’t know about all this other free will like locking the door if you don’t want intruders or staying married to an abuser because you have determined that it’s your god-given purpose. Too many things on earth are arranged by humans to truly have free will anyway. People obligate themselves to an order and do not use their free will to look for a way out. We are intertwined in responsibility toward one another in some fashion, some may be beautiful and cooperative and some may be imprisonment at least emotionally.

            Resignation to the way it has to be seems to be the mark of the Christian. Your safety literally relies on other people, people you don’t even know in other countries.

          • Glodson

            You really don’t want to get into Free Will. This won’t go well for you. Before I even consider your points, I need you to find a good source for why I should even contemplate dualism. Why are our behaviors dictated by the functioning of our brains? Why will my behavior change dramatically as Alzheimer’s sets in? Who I fundamentally am, the person I am, will change radically. What parts of me are due to this mysterious “mind”? Further, how can you dismiss the notion that Free Will is non-existent? And let’s talk more about what dictates our behavior.

            My attitudes do not exist in a vacuum. There’s the functioning of my brain, for starts. Some people have the complete inability to feel empathy, which makes for a problem. But they even develop some idea of what they should do, thanks to our socialization. As we learn what is or isn’t acceptable, and the consequences for conforming or rejecting these norms, certain neural pathways are strengthened or weakened. As we look under the hood, so to speak, we can see our morals and attitudes are a result of the functioning of our brain as we interact with those around us. How my brain is functioning, how I was brought up, the culture I exist in, all of these combine to form me. The decisions I’ve made reflect this. I did not spontaneously create my moral code. My free will, if it has any real existence at all, has very real constraints. Damaging my brain will change this. That’s a mark against free will. People can use different techniques to brain wash me, and while some knowledge can stave off these effects, they will be effective over the long haul. The fact that this can happen is a mark against free will. So we can look at the psychology, and the neurology and try to find a mechanism for free will. Until that is presented, I can reject the notion of free will. To say that we simple just don’t know about it is an argument from ignorance. There might be a mechanism, but we have to base our conclusions on the evidence at hand, not what we could possibly not know yet.

            Let’s say, for arguement, that you are correct. Free will (and I’ll use conciousness as synonymous here) is simply the result of complexity and intelligence. Then, we should eventually be able to reproduce this in a robot or supercomputer, right? Let’s say that day comes. I have a supercomputer and a person in my backyard. I’m pointing a gun at them both. Both are pleading for their lives. Does it make any difference which one I shoot? Would destroying a person and destroying a supercomputer have equal moral culpability?

            This is not an effective trap. I’ll tell you why. I believe we shouldn’t let anything suffer that feels pain unnecessarily. I need to eat, so some animals will die. I would like them to die as painlessly as possible. This happens, but it is necessary. Our current supercomputers are no where near that mark, but let’s say we build one that can fully emulate human intelligence. Then you shouldn’t shoot either. That would be bad. It doesn’t even need to be emotional. This is a moral dilemma, but only if you think that humans are special. We aren’t. We are just an intelligent animal thanks to the mass of grey matter that is a powerful computer. If we create an intelligent machine, there should be some ethical considerations. You might think this is not a satisfying answer, but it is a point that some are starting to consider. Start here for more. I hate linking to Wikipedia, but it is an excellent summation of these fledgling ideas as we start to dip our toes in systems this advanced.

            I don’t understand how quoting what the Bible actually says is attacking, but okay. Moving on. Ethics is independent of any religion. Some might not like that statement, but when we talk about a moral code handed down by a religious entity, I hesitate to even call that Ethics. Look at the Divine Command Theory, and see how bad that is. If you want to know more about how atheists see it, read this. I cannot speak for all atheists as there’s no dogma. Many of us are Secular Humanists, but that’s not really dogmatic either.

            One thing I would note is this. By the rejection of the afterlife, I see that I only have the hear and now to be good. I only have this life to do what is right, to help people, to make it better. As such, it pains me to see people suffer. It breaks my heart as I see no reason to believe in an afterlife. I have to get it right now, I have to do what I can right now. This life is the most important thing, for all of us.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

            Tumeyn, I can’t ignore #1. I know I’m getting into this a bit late, but here’s hoping you see it anyways.

            Arguing point #1 is futile. If #1 is true, then there will never be any way to KNOW that it is true. (and it leads to lots of uncomfortable conclusions – like the fact that no one is really responsible for their actions).

            I completely disagree. If God is nonexistent, then everyone is solely responsible for their own actions. We are all products of our brains and our genetics and our environments, true enough, but for all that we do seem to have the availability of choice. I can choose to respond to your argument- or not. I can choose to donate money to Planned Parenthood- or not. I can choose to run around outside naked- or not. I can choose to kill someone just to watch hir die- or not. Our environment shapes us, but we are ultimately who we choose to become.

            And if none of us are really here, as per existential arguments? Well let’s make our dream-world the best it can be, with the least suffering and anguish. Human effort and achievement do that, not futile prayers to a God that isn’t there.

    • Kodie

      So basically, you are under the similar physical conditions of every other animal on earth, but what sets you apart is delusion of purpose.

      • tumeyn

        Let’s turn this question around. In your worldview, what sets you apart from every other animal on earth? Intelligence? If that is the case, then is not a supercomputer more valuable than you? Where does your value come from?

        • Kodie

          That doesn’t even make sense.

          • tumeyn

            I’m asking about value. Where does your value come from? You are right. We are very physically similar to every other animal on earth. But you (I assume) behave as if you are more valuable than they. I assume that you eat chickens, but not people. You may help feed homeless people, but I doubt that you feed homeless skunks. Why? (please don’t say “empathy” unless you can define what it is and where it comes from)

            You could argue that our value comes from our intelligence. But if so, then a supercomputer has more value that we do. I claim that our value comes from the fact that a “god” made us will autonomy and moral responsibility. You can mock that claim all you like. But I have yet to hear a better hypothesis. You might do better with your attacks on Christians if you could formulate ethical framework that could be easily explained. That’s all I’m saying.

          • Kodie

            Another thing most animals have is preservation of their own species. Our value comes from being humans. I value other humans and myself because that is my animal. Our niche happens to be intelligence. Our value does not come from our intelligence, because I don’t even understand what that is supposed to mean, “value”. I value myself because I am alive and I want to stay alive, and I value my species because I don’t want to go extinct. That is true for every animal even if that’s not what they’re aware of valuing their own species above other species. A lion values lions, an elk values elks.

            Our species developed intelligence and puts it to our best use of survival. You are determined to rank species of the earth according to god with your question. That’s why it doesn’t make sense.

        • Kodie

          Love how Christians can’t wrap their heads around a concept in another “worldview”. What sets any animal apart from the others?

          • tumeyn

            Kodie writes:

            I value other humans and myself because that is my animal. Our niche happens to be intelligence. Our value does not come from our intelligence, because I don’t even understand what that is supposed to mean, “value”. I value myself because I am alive and I want to stay alive, and I value my species because I don’t want to go extinct.

            But throughout the ages people have wanted to exterminate other people groups (to make them go “extinct”). This is perfectly natural in the animal kingdom. Is it acceptable under your worldview? If we feel threatened by another people group, are you Ok with nuking them? Why not? And is it merely a gut feeling, or something that you feel the right to impose on someone else?

            If people have value only because you give them value, then you can easily take away their value whenever you feel like it. Either we have risen above our animal instincts and recognized a higher power (my claim), or we are equal with animals and have no moral responsibility to our fellow man (beyond whatever suits my fancy at the moment).

          • Kodie

            We’re accountable to each other. That’s where we get our morals from. Of course some people will take their disagreements to violent levels, and those people are accountable. They may win the war and get a medal and never go to hell. We can sit here and talk about what a bad guy Hitler was – you are wondering to whom is he accountable though, where does he go to pay for his crimes? That bothers you but that’s how it really works.

        • sqlrob

          Nothing. We are just another animal.

          • iknklast

            An animal with opposable thumbs, which come in very handy for working can openers. (Or as one of our students put it, disposable thumbs – that I’d really like to see)

    • Brad1990

      Free will and an ineffible plan are mutually exclusive. That’s kind of our point. Think it through, I’m sure you’ll get it.

    • Brad1990

      If I’m here for a purpose, why bother eating? God could miraculously sustain me. Why bother running from a bear? God could save me, right? Your question quickly boils down to this: Why did God grant us free-will at all? If he had a purpose, he could easily have accomplished it with some sort of automatia (robotic) form of life.

      You could equally ask those things, yes, but you have missed the point when you say our question boils down to

      Why did God grant us free-will at all?

      . It doesn’t boil down to that at all, since that’s the sort of theological question that is only ever asked by those who already believe in God and are trying to reconcile their belief that God has a plan for them with the obvious fact that they have free will. Our point is that free will and an ineffible plan are mutually exclusive. You either have a fate (or God has a plan for you, call it what you will) or you have free will. You can’t have both.

      • Brad1990

        Dunno what I did to make the second blockquote all shouty :-/ my bad.

        • Glodson

          I don’t know. I kind of liked it. It was like you were having trouble controlling the volume of your voice.

          [I wish we had a preview button, that would be helpful]

          • Amyc

            YOU LAUGH BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE WITH THIS CONDITION! IMAGINE BEING A TEENAGER AT A SCHOOL DANCE, CASUALLY SINGING ALONG WITH THE OTHERS: “AND A LITTLE BIT SOFTER NOW, AND A LITTLE BIT SOFTER NOW, AND A LITTLE BIT SOFTER NOW.”

            Teehee, I <3 Will Ferrell

      • tumeyn

        Our point is that free will and an ineffible plan are mutually exclusive. You either have a fate (or God has a plan for you, call it what you will) or you have free will. You can’t have both.

        The key word there is “ineffable”. Coaches have plans for their teams. Commanders have plans for their armies. Parents have plans for their kids. In each case, the person making the plan has true authority. But the subject also has a role in whether the plans are carried out or not.

        So remind me again why “God’s plan” and “free will” are incompatible? They aren’t incompatible in any other area of life. I think perhaps that you and I disagree about the nature of God. The God of the Bible is a relational being who doesn’t force himself on anyone. But he is also full of grace and love for those that seek him.

        • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

          But he is also full of grace and love for those that seek him.

          And he’s all genocidey for everyone else.

          • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

            My bad, that was God 1.0. God 2.0 fixes the default to genocide option.

            He’s not genocidey for everyone who doesn’t seek him, he waits until they’re dead and then has them tortured for all eternity in an unimaginably horrific way. You know those stories about kids kidnapped and raised in a dungeon on daily rapes and abuse? That’s a walk in the park compared to Hell, and even a kid raised in a sex torture dungeon can look forward to it ending one day – but no, Hell goes on forever and ever and ever and there’s never any mercy.

            But he’s totes grace and love for you coz you seek him.

          • sqlrob

            Genocide, eternal torture, whatevs.

        • Glodson

          The key word there is “ineffable”. Coaches have plans for their teams. Commanders have plans for their armies. Parents have plans for their kids. In each case, the person making the plan has true authority. But the subject also has a role in whether the plans are carried out or not.

          Are any of these plans ineffable? Are any of these plans too great or sacred to be expressed in words? Are any of these plans made by an entity that can be said to be all powerful by those tasked with carrying out those plans? No. Not at all. Parents, as one myself, often have vague outlines that need to be rewritten often. Coaches might have an overarching game plan, but it is subject more to the changes dictated by the other teams, and maybe even officiating. These plans are not ineffable, nor are they made be beings that can be described on any terms that resemble gods. This makes this a false analogy.

          So remind me again why “God’s plan” and “free will” are incompatible? They aren’t incompatible in any other area of life. I think perhaps that you and I disagree about the nature of God. The God of the Bible is a relational being who doesn’t force himself on anyone. But he is also full of grace and love for those that seek him.

          Hell. Hell. The mere existence of Hell ruins that. And it is more Bible time! I have so many verses. I’m the worst kind of atheist to have around, one that has read the Bible. Hmm, that’s like all of us. We’re terrible. Anyways, let’s read some scripture. Acts 3:23, John 3:18, John 3:36, John 5:15, Luke 19 22-27, Luke 12:5, and pretty much the rest of the Bible as well. These are not acts of a deity that wants a relationship that is functional. This is abuse. This is a malevolent deity that will torture us at his whim.

          Now, if there’s some grand plan and we have free will to fuck with it, then there’s no grand plan. Any sufficiently powerful deity that wants something done will see it done. Let’s go to a lesser example. As a parent, if I want my daughter to do something, she’s going to do it one way or another. What I want, my small plan, will be done. Like if I want her to clean her room. My plan: her room will be cleaned. The outcome: the room will be cleaned. I might have to punish or bribe or just do parts of it myself, but that room will be cleaned. The story of Jonah shows that Jonah’s free will meant precisely dick. If we have complete free will, god doesn’t have a plan.

          Worse, consider this. There’s a place where evil, in the Christian mythology, that evil cannot exist. Heaven. If I cannot be an evil sod in Heaven, how can free will exist there? Do I lose my free will when I go to Heaven? Can I sing Uncle Fucker before the throne of God?

          • doctorburger

            On an unrelated note, if a post contains a bunch of links in it, it sometimes gets flagged as spam and I (or Jt, or whoever wrote it) have to manually approve it.

            [like ^this one]

            so, if ever a post doesn’t show up, and it had a lot of links, it might be just the author being lazy/not at their email…….carry on!

          • Glodson

            Thanks, Doc!

            I knew that posting too many links would trigger moderation. Sorry for the hassle. If you all want me to stop with the links, I can. I’ve done a few like that recently in attempts to add a few pieces of evidence to the conversation. Maybe I just have just linked the big list of cruelty and called it a day.

          • tumeyn

            Are any of these plans made by an entity that can be said to be all powerful by those tasked with carrying out those plans?

            You seem to conflate the word “plan” with the work “predestine”. Have you ever read the book of Exodus? God “changes his mind” about things frequently based upon human action. Our actions clearly impact God. No clear thinking Christian (or Jew) would claim otherwise. You are making a claim about God that I am not making. I claim that he is all powerful, but does not impose himself. You claim that if he is all-powerful, then he SHOULD impose himself. Why do you think that? The God described in the Bible is loving. I don’t force my will upon anyone that I love. Why do you think that God should? Love is freely chosen – by BOTH parties.

            Hell. Hell. The mere existence of Hell ruins that. And it is more Bible time! I have so many verses.

            Let’s take one of those verse you mention. Luke 19:11-26. It’s a great passage to illustrate what I’m talking about. Why was the mina taken away from the servant? Why was he killed? Look back at verse 13. He was given an instruction: “Put this money to work”. The servant didn’t fulfill his obligation. Notice that his obligation isn’t great – his life would have been spared if he had even stuck the money in the bank and earned a bit of interest! But no, he squandered the responsibility he had been given and ignored the clearly spoken commands of his master.
            Now, let’s apply that to our life. According to Christian theology, each person has been granted some sort “gifts” and some sort of “responsibility”. I can’t tell you want yours is or anyone else’s is. But I am responsible for my own. If I ignore the responsibility written on my heart, then I have rejected my master (God) and I have articulated my heart’s desire. My desire is for my own wellbeing, not for the purposes for which I was created. I have rejected God – why should he force me to spend an eternity with him when I have rejected him in the decades that he gave me here?
            Notice something else about the story. Not everyone was given the same amount of money. Some people only have a glimpse of God (Romans 1:18-20 is a great example). They are only responsible to respond to the glimpse that they have been given. Some people (like many in the Western world today) have been given a huge amount of information about God. They bear greater responsibility. See Luke 12:48 as another example of this. Romans is filled with this theology, especially the early chapters.
            I know that many Christians today think that “believe in Jesus and go to heaven, and everyone else goes to Hell.” But a more thorough reading of the Bible makes it clear that this is drastically oversimplified. There are very good biblical reasons for thinking that many “Christians” will actually end up in Hell while many “non-Christians” will populate Heaven. See Matthew 25:31-46.

          • Glodson

            The problem with Hell is that anyone ends up there. It doesn’t make sense. What crime could possibly justify burning forever in a pit of fire? Can you not see the problem? Can you not see the problem with killing a servant for screwing up a job? Again, the master is supposed to be God… which leads to the problem that our relationship with God is fundamentally flawed as put forth by the Bible. If this deity exists, he’s evil. Again, no reason to even hold he exists.

            My desire is for my own wellbeing, not for the purposes for which I was created. I have rejected God – why should he force me to spend an eternity with him when I have rejected him in the decades that he gave me here?

            Why should you be subjected to torture for failure to adhere to the unknowable will of a deity that seems to go to great pains to hide any presence from us? Why should anyone be tortured to begin with? And for what? Because he had some plan that none of us can know or communicate? That’s that ineffable means.

            Look at what you’ve written to justify those verses. Imagine it was written from the prescriptive of another religion. Really, try that. Maybe you’ll see what we see.

            Have you ever read the book of Exodus? God “changes his mind” about things frequently based upon human action. Our actions clearly impact God. No clear thinking Christian (or Jew) would claim otherwise. You are making a claim about God that I am not making. I claim that he is all powerful, but does not impose himself. You claim that if he is all-powerful, then he SHOULD impose himself. Why do you think that? The God described in the Bible is loving.

            See Hell. And I’ve read the Bible. Exodus didn’t happen. At all. None of it. And if he’s so loving, why did he kill so many? God’s got an impressive body count for a powerful entity: God v Satan, Fight!. God wins! Fatality!

            So, I have a deity, in the his own holy book, that commands genocide, allows many to die, directly kills many, sends bears to kill children who mocked a bald guy, tortures and kills his own son, tortures Job and kills his family, forces unbetrothed who are raped to marry their rapist if they are raped, commands the rape and enslavement of women captured in the cities conquered, will condemn people to Hell for eternity, and has actively hidden any evidence for his existence, but he’s loving?

          • tumeyn

            Glodson, the comment about Exodus wasn’t about its historicity. It was about whether the Christian faith is internally consistent or not. You continually claim that it is not, but then you attack beliefs that are not supported by the Bible. If you want to attack Christianity, you have to attack a belief that is really articulated. I don’t care (at this point) whether Exodus happened or not. I care about the way that God is described. The God described in Exodus is consistent with view of “God’s plan” that I laid out above.

            Now, about Hell. Of course I can see the problem. But notice that the Bible does not say a lot about the nature of Heaven and Hell. The classic view of Hell (articulated well by CS Lewis) is that the gates are locked from the INSIDE. Anyone who wants God is free to choose him at any point – just like we see here on earth. I don’t know how that works. I don’t claim to know. But I know that free-will is absolutely CONSISTENT with the idea of both a Heaven and a Hell. Free will is INCONSISTENT with universalism. (and universalism is inconsistent with the Bible – but that isn’t the point I’m making)

            Lewis, interestingly, thinks that Hell and Heaven are exactly the same place. The presence of God might be absolute heaven for some, but absolute hell for others.

            Another point: The duration of the punishment is not really connected to the length of time it took to commit a crime. It’s connected with the severity of the crime. Many criminals are locked away for life because of a crime that took a split second to commit. The Christian claim is that rejecting the very purpose for which we were made is a capital offense. All other offenses can be forgiven. (see Mark 3:28-29)

          • Glodson

            If you want to attack Christianity, you have to attack a belief that is really articulated. I don’t care (at this point) whether Exodus happened or not. I care about the way that God is described. The God described in Exodus is consistent with view of “God’s plan” that I laid out above.

            Huh? How could a fictional story that didn’t happen be any part of God’s plan? “Hey, here’s my holy book, you better believe the parts that happened and are true, but I’m not telling you which, because my plan!” That doesn’t make sense.

            Let’s look at Exodus, and let’s look at this god. Really, let’s look at this. These are not good things. At all. Well, I guess the fact that a fetus isn’t considered to be alive and so abortion isn’t murder is okay. But the rest? Really? That’s consistent with your idea of God? It is okay to beat your slaves? It is okay to have slaves!? It is okay to beat your slaves to death as long as they live for a few days before succumbing to their injuries!? Did you know that children, right now, are being tortured and killed in parts of Africa because of the passage “suffer not a witch to live?” This is just scratching the surface. Just for allowing the book of Exodus to exist, god has a lot to answer for.

            But I know that free-will is absolutely CONSISTENT with the idea of both a Heaven and a Hell. Free will is INCONSISTENT with universalism.

            I’m not saying that Hell isn’t consistent with free will. I’m saying that Hell and a loving all-powerful God are mutually exclusive ideas. I’m saying that a God that allows a Hell to exist is either sadistic or not powerful enough to end it. I am not that good of a person, and I wouldn’t let any Hell exist for any period of time if I could stop it. If there’s a Hell, as defined by the Bible, God is evil.

            The duration of the punishment is not really connected to the length of time it took to commit a crime. It’s connected with the severity of the crime. Many criminals are locked away for life because of a crime that took a split second to commit. The Christian claim is that rejecting the very purpose for which we were made is a capital offense. All other offenses can be forgiven. (see Mark 3:28-29)

            It isn’t about the duration, it is about the punishment being disproportional to the crime. That’s the problem.

            Mark 3:28-29: “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”

            Yes, according to this passage, God who leaves no evidence for his existence will punish me forever for rejecting this idea. Forever. That’s exactly what it says. There’s no reprieve. Not in the Bible. This is a threat. Pure and simple. If I said “hey, if you don’t concede the point, I’ll punch you in the face,” I’m threatening you.

            The quote you pulled shows that God is a petty bully who will punish us for dissent, and Jesus makes this clear.

            Again, this is a point that I keep coming back to. We have a deity that will punish us forever and forever for a lack of faith when there’s no reason to believe he even exists. Which means, that if he does exist, he must be evil. Maybe Lewis was right, Heaven and Hell are the same place, which doesn’t bode well for anyone.

            The tl:dr is this: God is a bully, and there’s no reason to believe he exists, and citing a book in the Bible that has no truth value doesn’t make a good case for faith.

          • tumeyn

            Glodson writes:

            Huh? How could a fictional story that didn’t happen be any part of God’s plan? “Hey, here’s my holy book, you better believe the parts that happened and are true, but I’m not telling you which, because my plan!” That doesn’t make sense.

            Look at the original post. The final line reads:

            “If you believed those things, would you wear a seat belt?”

            The entire discussion is on the internal consistency of Christian faith – not the external evidence for it or against it. If you want to see if the Christian faith is internally consistent, then you need to put yourself in the mindframe of a Christian and read the Bible as if it is God’s word. I’m claiming that if you do so, then the Christian faith makes sense.

            Your attack on the historicity of the Bible is a completely different issue. That is an EXTERNAL attack on faith. We can deal with that another time (and we partially dealt with it last week in our discussion of the gospels). You claimed:

            Now, if there’s some grand plan and we have free will to fuck with it, then there’s no grand plan. Any sufficiently powerful deity that wants something done will see it done.

            You may be right, you may be wrong. My argument is that the God described by the Bible is not consistent with what you are writing. That’s not the god I believe in because that god isn’t described in the Bible. If you want to attack my beliefs, then you have to attack the God I really believe in – not the God that you make up.

          • Glodson

            You may be right, you may be wrong. My argument is that the God described by the Bible is not consistent with what you are writing. That’s not the god I believe in because that god isn’t described in the Bible. If you want to attack my beliefs, then you have to attack the God I really believe in – not the God that you make up.

            I have referred to, and only referred to, passages of the Bible. Repeatedly. The god of the Bible is a vicious deity. It is a cruel deity. That’s in the Bible. I know all the tricks of apologists, having used a few myself. When we get down to it, we have a murderous deity, and the only way to make this god loving or benevolent is to make a special pleading. Not good for consistency.

            Dr Burger’s question again shows a problem with faith. We’ll be rehashing this discussion. If there’s a god, wouldn’t it just be sufficient to pray for safety? If he grants the prayer, the seatbelt is redundant. If he doesn’t, then that would mean it was your time to die, making the seatbelt useless. Unless, of course, he could be defied by a simple strap of fabric.

            Your attack on the historicity of the Bible is a completely different issue. That is an EXTERNAL attack on faith. We can deal with that another time (and we partially dealt with it last week in our discussion of the gospels)

            I haven’t attacked it. I’ve examined it. You brought in Exodus, and I dismissed Exodus as nothing more than the recordings of oral traditions handed down by a few tribes of Semitic peoples. This is my way of saying that Exodus was pure fiction. However, you said it was consistent with your idea of god. But I see no discussions of the atrocities committed by god in the book, and through his will thanks to the rules of the book.

            The entire discussion is on the internal consistency of Christian faith – not the external evidence for it or against it. If you want to see if the Christian faith is internally consistent, then you need to put yourself in the mindframe of a Christian and read the Bible as if it is God’s word. I’m claiming that if you do so, then the Christian faith makes sense.

            ???

            You know who needs some love? Nonstampcollector. This guy needs some love. His Quiz Show video shows that the Bible itself isn’t consistent. Making any religion based off it inconsistent.

            In essence, in order for me to believe the bible, I need to believe the bible. Did that, got the whole dunking in the water thing to prove it. Turns out, big on dunking me in the water, but very light on evidence. So light as it could be said to be nonexistent.

            That’s the problem. No evidence, inconsistent holy book, a book full of injustices and poor morality, a book with no good answers all serve as a foundation for belief.

            However, Mark, below us, answered the question in a way that I cannot actually refute. You see, nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say but nothing comes out when they move their lips just a bunch of gibberish, and motherfuckers act like they forgot about Romans 13:1-2. But we’ve got a problem…

            Which to believe?

            Finally, I want to say this: examining your beliefs, looking at what your religion actually says, looking at what your book says, and quoting it directly, trying to account for context, all of this are not attacks. I’m not making up stuff. This is a criticism. Religion, no religion, is above criticism. No belief system is above criticism. These aren’t attacks.

        • Loqi

          Coaches have plans for their teams. Commanders have plans for their armies. Parents have plans for their kids. In each case, the person making the plan has true authority.

          Coaches, commanders, and parents are not omnipotent. Omnipotence and free will cannot logically coexist. If something has free will, it can act against the wishes of the omnipotent being, which would be a limit on the omnipotent being’s power (which is, by definition, unlimited). So either we’re acting out the omnipotent one’s plan and have no choice because it is omnipotent, XOR we act of our own accord and there is no omnipotent one.

    • sqlrob

      Look at this link. (warning: Large PDF)

      Now, with a straight face, how can you say anything based on that book is internally consistent?

  • Liam

    Imagine you are a compassionate Christian. Let us further posit that you believe that babies will go to Heaven if they die because they are too young to have sinned (Limbo and such aside). You would be a terrible person if you didn’t kill babies because you are putting your own soul ahead of the possible salvation of many others. I suppose it might be a good pro abortion argument to make too.

  • http://skepticfreethought.com/tokenchristian/ Jaime Wise

    What I like most about this post is that it draws attention to the philosophical underpinnings of Christianity, or prevalent versions of it. Not every christian believes that their lives are divinely orchestrated, or that this world is a waiting room for something else. However, those beliefs are probably in a considerable majority, which means others aren’t always given consideration. Kudos for putting those principals into a real-world scenario and sparking this discussion.

  • Mark

    As a Christian, I wear a seat belt because it is the law. See Romans 13.

    • Glodson

      You should wear it because of the laws of physics, which is why when there’s a wreck, you need it as you still have momentum while the car is being violently stopped.

      • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

        Uh… Um…
        Okay. Mark’s comment is actually concise and relevant and works to address JT’s post.

        It has indeed turned out that the only way to get people to wear seatbelts is to make it mandatory. So many people wanted to cling to their inalienable right to conserve momentum. Even now I hear people darkly muttering about “rather be thrown clear”.

        • Loqi

          You can take my momentum, when you pry it from my cold, dead hands! Godless liberals always trying to take away my Newton’s Second Amendment rights…

        • Glodson

          Oh, I know. I just couldn’t come up with anything better, and I really like momentum.

        • Kodie

          They partially understand something then? They think they will be in better shape after an accident if they are not strapped in, trapped, crushed, or whatever. It doesn’t sound like they would rather die nobly as unfettered and not being told by the government what to do for their own good, but that they actually believe they will have a better chance of survival or recovery if they are thrown clear… ? Am I understanding this wrong? I’m not saying that they would be right about that, but in some limited view of things, they believe some anecdotes about the outcomes of some car accidents, and not still that god will protect them just because they trust him and not a seat belt; that’s what it sounds like to me.

          • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

            The Tennessee driver’s handbook has a section specifically to debunk the most popular belt myths.

            “Some people are thrown clear in a crash and walk away with hardly a scratch.”
            “If I get hit from the side, I am better off being thrown across the car, away from the crash point.”

    • sqlrob

      I would hope you don’t try to get Creationism or the Bible in schools, or nativity on public property. After all, those are the law too.

  • Anonymous

    OVERCONFIDENCE is a key term here. If we were allowed to be overconfident we would expect to do whatever we want because God will save us no matter what. Have you never been overconfident then immediately taught a lesson? Please don’t tell me you’ve never gotten cocky and ended up in a bad situation because of it? It’s really a simple concept…And it has been clearly explained before I’m sure. You can’t EXPECT God to do things for you. In not wearing a seat belt you’re expecting Him to save you.

    • Loqi

      You can be too confident in god? Of course, I would consider putting any confidence in any gods to be sheer lunacy, but to hear it from the mouth of a Christian…

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      I was under the impression that the name for applying expectations to God was “prayer”.

    • Glodson

      First, random capitalization of words is not a great way to make a point. It paints the image of someone screaming at their computer about those damned kids with their Pac-Man video games and 8-track players.

      Second, why not? Isn’t God supposed to grant prayers? If you pray for safety, then that was God’s will. You are safe. If you pray for safety and God doesn’t grant it, wasn’t that God’s will? Which means no safety precautions should work. I guess we should consider the third possibility, one given by some truly bad people, in that you weren’t quite faithful enough for God, and this failure to live up to God’s expectations of faith denied your protection. In that case, God’s a jerk.

  • Mark

    sqlrob, I do not, however, given the opportunity I would, and I would be willing to accept any or all penalties of doing so under law (Romans 13) as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

    “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” I Peter 2:20

    • Glodson

      I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

      This fits with the thesis that God is a malevolent entity. God loves to see us suffer so, apparently. Nice guy, this god fellow. “Hey, your suffering is part of my plan, so I’m going to allow this.”

      Now hear the horrible suffering you will face for disobeying the law and violating the Establishment Clause: you might have to take down your religious symbols from the public place in accordance with the law, or actually not force psuedoscience nonsense into a classroom. And maybe pay the legal fees for the opposing side, depending on the frivolity of the violation. Such a sacrifice. This is the Christian Persecution Complex.

      You shouldn’t promote creationism because creationism is a lie. I’m sure there’s a commandment for that. It seems to get broken often by Christians, so maybe I’m misremembering that.

      The passages you selected does seem to add to our point that God is a sadist. If there’s a benevolent deity, it won’t be YWHW.

  • Loqi

    There’s that Christian persecution complex at work. What a noble martyr you are, willing to “accept any or all penalties” for something that isn’t a crime.

    • Mark

      Better tell sqlrob that.

      • Glodson

        Violations of the Establishment Clauses and Free Exercise clauses aren’t really criminal matters. These are Constitutional matters that result in either the voiding of a law, or a civil penalty, depending on the nature and scope of the violation. No one gets locked up, or really punished in a meaningful away apart from being forced to follow the law.


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