Criticizing the Logic of the Atonement

Criticizing the Logic of the Atonement August 3, 2016

atheist christian atonement logicThe Christian atonement is the reconciliation of humans to God through the death of Jesus. While it’s pitched as an incredible gift from a loving god, it doesn’t make a lot of sense when you stop to think about it.

The role of today’s Christian apologist is played by Greg Koukl, who recently responded to skeptics’ questions on the Unbelievable podcast (audio here; go to 30:10).

And our skeptic questioner is Frances. She had three concerns. Each is an illustration of how our sense of justice works, and each is a tenet that the atonement rejects. (I’ll try to clearly identify input from both Frances and Greg Koukl, and anything else is my own reaction.)

  1. If we’ve done something worthy of punishment, then we should get that punishment. Anything else is unjust.
  2. Whenever someone takes a punishment that should’ve been applied to someone else (like Jesus taking our punishment), that’s a miscarriage of justice.
  3. If you give one guilty person a break, you must give the same break to everyone in the same situation, otherwise that’s an injustice as well.

(And there are more issues. For example, why must we be reconciled in the first place? If we’re flawed, that’s because our Maker made us so. And why make a big deal about the sacrifice when Jesus popped back to life a couple of days later? I talk about that more here. But the answers to the three answers are such a train wreck that we’ll limit this discussion to just them.)

Worldviews: let the tap dancing commence!

Koukl responds by saying that we must first identify the worldview from which a statement is made. Sometimes people critique Worldview 1 from the standpoint of their worldview, Worldview 2. An atheist doesn’t accept miracles and so may scoff at a Christian talking about miracles. “It’s absurd from within their story because their story doesn’t allow for that kind of thing,” but within the Christian story, miracles are quite normal.

He wants to pigeonhole Frances’s comments as coming from an atheist worldview, but they’re not. Her observations about justice come from a Western worldview and perhaps even a worldwide worldview. They are pretty much universally held.

Koukl imagines a symmetry that’s not there. He’s saying in effect, “We each have a worldview—I have my Christian worldview, and you have your atheist worldview, so let’s admit up front that we’re both biased.” Here again he’s wrong because there is a default position. We have a common idea of justice, and Frances is speaking from that standpoint rather than an atheist standpoint. Koukl is welcome to have a different point of view, but we will always see it in terms of its differences from the default.

He wants to respond to Frances from within the Christian worldview, but is that available to anyone? Can I answer from within a Scientology worldview and expect that to be respected? Or Raelian? Or Pastafarian? Can I say that polygamy is okay from a Mormon standpoint? Can I say that ritual murder is okay as Kali worship? Or is Christianity privileged for some reason—and if so, why?

Koukl says that God is the primary one offended by any sin or crime. “Even if I sinned against Frances, I am sinning first and foremost against Frances’s maker.” So if God is indeed the primary offended party and he’s satisfied with Jesus as a substitute (and the substitute is satisfied, and the guilty party is satisfied), then where’s the problem?

The problem, of course, is that this isn’t justice. Instead, it’s mythology and legend that over time became codified into religious dogma. I’m happy to accept Koukl’s claim that from within his standpoint, his worldview makes sense (obviously!), but that’s not how we critique a challenge to our default idea of justice.

Koukl starts with an assumption of God and then weaves a story showing how it all makes sense from within a Christian worldview. It may make sense to him, but that’s not the point. We start, not with an assumption of the supernatural (the Hypothetical God fallacy), but with the idea of justice held pretty much universally in the West and compare the Christian version against it. It doesn’t compare well.

He says, “I don’t see the conflict within the context of the Christian worldview. Certainly I can see from a perspective of justice outside of the Christian worldview that there could be a conflict.” Exactly! Critiquing his position from outside the Christian worldview reveals a conflict. That’s all Frances has been saying. More importantly, this external, more universal view is the default. Koukl can’t dismiss it by saying that he simply has a different worldview.

(Oddly, Koukl’s position sounds like the postmodern “We each have our own truths” attitude that conservatives claim to hate. Maybe they only hate it until it’s convenient.)

Mercy and debt and punishment, oh my!

Koukl addressed the unfairness issue: “Mercy is an overflow of goodness that is not required of God.” God can grant mercy … or not. For example, Frances is within her rights to forgive one debt but not another. And if she is owed a debt but a third party wants to pay it, and everyone is happy with that, problem solved.

Yes, Frances can be arbitrary, but doesn’t God follow a higher standard? A judge certainly does. Fairness is the standard that society tries to achieve with our justice system. True, we don’t always meet that standard, but we are imperfect. A perfect, omnibenevolent being would be perfectly fair.

As for a third party paying a debt, that’s an option only for monetary payment, not for punishment for a crime. Frances suggested that we imagine someone unfairly imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit. Once the error is discovered, no one says that the debt has been paid and there’s no need to find the actual perpetrator since someone has already served the time.

We can see that with the Innocence Project, which has used DNA evidence to overturn more than 300 cases in the U.S., one quarter of which were for murder. Had justice nevertheless been satisfied in these cases because punishment was at least given to someone? Of course not—these were miscarriages of justice just like the Christian story of God’s righteous wrath being satisfied by the death of Jesus.

Koukl has a few more misfires on justice and morality, and that critique is concluded in part 2.

Justice is the only worship.
Love is the only priest.
Ignorance is the only slavery.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now,
the place to be happy is here,
the way to be happy is to make others so.
— Robert Ingersoll

Image credit: Justin Leonard, flickr, CC

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  • Jouke Elsinga

    What is justice according to atheism? So what is the point of their critique? God is the ultimate standard of justice and justice stems from His identity. Asking for more fundamental standards will lead to an infinite regress. Problem solved.

    • John Grove

      Poe’s Law?

      • I’m guessing Jouke is lampooning Christianity.

        • MNb

          I am pretty sure either he himself or his direct ancestors are compatriots of mine – specifically from

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friesland

          At least Plantinga has a non-Dutch first name. There is no more Frisian name than Jouke.

        • I looked up the name to see what clues Google could give me, and a Dutch site came up, so I did guess that this was the case.

          Sorry about that.

      • Whoops … after reading more from Mssr. Elsinga, I think I was taken in.

        Slapped in the face by Poe. I should’ve listened to you.

    • Kevin K

      “God is the ultimate standard of justice”?

      What “standard” are you applying? Punishing an innocent person for someone else’s crime seems to be the Christian “standard” of “justice”.

      • Jouke Elsinga

        It is like in the court where someone pays the fine of the defendant. That person chooses to do that. Maybe instead of criticizing God, you should be thankfull to Him for providing a way out. Moreover He will build His kingdom on earth and He wants people like you and me to join His plan. When we contrast the gospel with the materialistic view we discover that on atheism ‘..there is no good, no evil, nothing but blind pittyless indiference’, no meaning. Objectively, so overlooking your subjective opinion life becomes meaningless. This scenario could be true if atheism were true. However my experience tells me that atheists don’t reason from truth, but from emotion and everyone knows that this perspective is not only untrue, it is also depressing.

        • busterggi

          Except Jesus paid nothing – he resurrected according to your book.

        • Kevin K

          “Pay a fine”? You mean mom paying Johnny’s speeding ticket?

          What about the DEATH PENALTY. No court would allow someone to accept someone else’s DEATH PENALTY.

          You’re trying to conflate every “sin” (an incoherent concept) with a speeding ticket, when there are a thousand gradations ABOVE that. You’re applying the LEAST punishment that can be levied and saying that’s equivalent to EVERY OTHER penalty.

          Sorry. Doesn’t work. Not one little bit. Other than that single example you mention, no court would allow anyone to accept someone else’s criminal sentence. Mom can’t do Johnny’s community service, can’t go to prison for him, nor anything else.

          The analogy fails massively in the real world…which is all there is.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          It is reported in the Bible that God did accept Jesus sacrifice. Read for instance the following verses. 6:23 which says: ‘For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’
          ‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;
          and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’ Rom. 5:12. Notice this verse doesn’t says anything about eternal conscious torment overhere. If you think you know what the Bible teaches, (I am not suggesting that you do) I recommend you to read it again.

        • Read the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Then tell me that there isn’t any conscious eternal torment.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          There isn’t since the parable. Read that word again parable isn’t about the final judgement. What Jesus did in that parable is using the conceptions the pharisees had on hell to argue against them. Jesus rebuked the pharisees for placing money above God. See: http://www.hellhadesafterlife.com/rich-man-lazarus

        • If the rich man wasn’t in hell, where was he?

        • John Grove

          “It is reported in the Bible ”
          Therein is your problem..

        • Uzza

          It is reported in the Codice Chimalpopoca that the gods accepted Nanahuatzin sacrificing himself to become the sun. So what?

        • Joe

          So, lets try an example:

          Say a drunk, disqualified driver crashed his Rolls Royce into your family’s car, killing your loved ones. Would you be content for his butler to serve the sentence in place of the driver?

        • Herald Newman

          > It is reported in the Bible that God did accept Jesus sacrifice.

          Great. So any sins I commit are already paid for, including the sin of disbelief!

        • Jouke Elsinga

          No incorrect. A person has to repent, trust Jesus and should be willing to follow his commands and built on Gods Kingdom

        • MNb

          Yeah. You can torture as many babies as you like, as long as you confess, repent, trust Jesus and are willing to follow those commands (but it’s OK if you fail – just start again with confessing) you’re fine. The only unforgivable sin is not believing.
          That’s the justice of your god.
          Thanks for confirming BobS’ conclusion that that’s not at all what humans thinks justice is.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          Atheists like babies being tortured. That is why they are pro choice.

        • MNb

          According to your argument abortion is OK as long as the woman confesses, repents, trusts Jesus and is willing to follow those commands (but it’s OK if she fails – just start again with confessing).
          What atheists like and don’t like is totally irrelevant here. So you pulled off a Tu Quoque and we have another failed theist argument.

        • Random ungrounded insults? And now you’ve just moved into being an asshole. That’s fine, but just take that step with your eyes open and don’t be surprised at the pushback.

        • adam

          Nope, it is christians who like babies being tortured, they call it ‘Love’

        • John Grove

          Jourke, you claim to be a Christian and come to this forum spouting insults and lies. How exactly does that square with the biblical admonitions not to do the very thing you are doing?

        • adam

          “Atheists like babies being tortured. ”

          And I suppose you ‘believe’ that Jews eat babies.

          I understand what kind of person you REALLY are….

        • adam

          “Atheists like babies being tortured.”

          Then why is it that YOUR “God” celebrates the torture of babies?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Apparently, babies never grow up in your demented thought process. Reality check: Babies DO grow up, and some of them become pregnant. You treat pregnancy as if it was of no serious consequence to those babies, and that it’s no big deal to use them like factory equipment to make more babies to eventually be treated like factory equipment. A torturer is you!

        • Herald Newman

          Why must I repent, trust, and be willing to follow his commands? Is it a sin if I don’t do these things? If so then Jesus already died as payment for those sin too. Perhaps your God an Indian giver?

        • Jouke Elsinga

          A persons sins are only forgiven if the person satisfies the conditions required for the forgiveness. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

        • Max Doubt

          “A persons sins are only forgiven if the person satisfies the conditions required for the forgiveness.”

          Atheists don’t sin.

        • Herald Newman

          So I have to do something in order to be forgiven.. That sounds like a works religion to me…

        • John Grove

          “A persons sins are only forgiven if the person satisfies the conditions required for the forgiveness.”

          Not only are you a child in your misuse of logic, but you apparently don’t even know squat of the book you claim to believe. You believe a person has to “do” something to be saved according to the Bible. A “works” salvation..

          “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that (That is the faith that God gives you to be saved) not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

        • adam

          “A persons sins are only forgiven if the person satisfies the conditions required for the forgiveness.”

        • MNb

          “It is reported in the Bible …..”
          You can repeat this phrase as often as you like, it will remain the core of your problem.

        • Max Doubt

          “It is reported in the Bible that God did accept Jesus sacrifice. Read for instance the following verses. 6:23 which says: ‘For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.'”

          One of the many luxuries of being an atheist is that we don’t sin. We don’t need any forgiveness, pay any wages, or require any sacrifices for sin. We’re not in on your game of let’s-pretend with the sacrifice points and sin penalties and the ticket for a free game if we get a high enough score at the end.

          You’re like a child with an imaginary friend coming into a room full of adults and telling us all we should step aside so we don’t bump into your invisible pal. Even a kid will knock it off when he’s told. If you continue to talk about gods as if they’re real or your bible as if it’s true, you’ll demonstrate that you’re as poorly behaved as a spoiled seven year old. Remember, we’re not playing make believe with you.

        • Kevin K

          There’s your problem right there. The bible is a set of myths, fables, just-so stories, revisionist Jewish history, and dietary guidelines for people without ice. It has zero relevance to today’s society.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I read that god used Jesus as a blow-up doll. It says so in a Bible I own. There is nothing about acceptance of a sacrifice. Isn’t great how honest it is to claim an immortal omnipresent person uses written language technology despite having no reason to shoot itself in the foot?/sarcasm

        • Kevin K

          I’ll continue later — but the concept of “way out” is incoherent.

        • Truly a Gish Gallop of insanity–well played, sir.

          To pick just one tempting low-hanging fruit, I’ll observe that someone else paying your fine was thoroughly dealt with in the post. Reread it.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          I just did. According to the Bible it is possible for someone to pay the sentence in case of capital punishment. If you don’t believe me, than just reread the letter Paul wrote to the Romans. By the way if God does not exists than ‘justice’ is just a silly word invented by humans to denote some meaningless ‘actions’, so in that case you are just expressing your own arbitrary subjective feelings about something that isn’t even real.

        • According to the Bible it is possible for someone to pay the sentence in case of capital punishment.

          Yes, obviously. And we regular people know that that’s insanity (except with a Christian worldview).

          if God does not exists than ‘justice’ is just a silly word invented by humans to denote some meaningless ‘actions’, so in that case you are just expressing your own arbitrary subjective feelings about something that isn’t even real.

          Is that how the word “justice” is defined? That’s weird, since that’s not what my dictionary says. What does yours say?

        • Jouke Elsinga

          I’m discussing the implications of your worldview. Obviously I don’t believe that objective good and evil do not exist.

        • MNb

          Yeah yeah, the worn out “without ultimate meaning/justice/whatever there cannot be any meaning/justice whatever” trope. Fortunately those implications of BobS’ worldview you discuss are still based on your assumptions, which are not those of BobS. In the end you only discuss your own view: “it’s all or nothing”. That’s a false dichotomy.

        • That wasn’t obvious at all. I also reject the idea of objective morality.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Show that there are not many diverging points of view of what is good and evil. The very existence of differing viewpoints leaves you with nothing more than, “Jesus justice is really special, or he will hurt you!”

        • John Grove

          “According to the Bible”
          Therein is your problem……

        • Joe

          ” if God does not exists than ‘justice’ is just a silly word invented by humans”

          All words, silly or otherwise, were invented by humans.

        • MNb

          Are you saying that those “meaningless actions” you talked about aren’t real?
          If yes you should reconsider who actually is silly.
          If no you should try to use your brains for a few seconds. Then you might realize that “justice” (see above – a word I don’t care for much) is a concept to evaluate those “meaningless actions”.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          I said that meaning and morality cannot exist in a materialistic universe. There is nothing to evaluate in a world without standards, neither can a materialistic worldview support realism.

        • Dus10

          Meaning is what the individual ascribes to it. Nothing more nothing less. Morality is a category on which we use to describe behavior. Because the meaning of the behavior is ascribed by the individual there will be disagreement on how to describe it.

        • MNb

          Thanks for not answering my question.
          But I’m happy to repeat.

          “if God does not exists than ‘justice’ is just a silly word invented by humans to denote some meaningless ‘actions'”
          Are you saying that those “meaningless actions” you talked about aren’t real?
          A simple yes or no, please.
          If you again refuse to answer – or withdraw this postulation of yours – I take it as “I’m too dishonest to admit my silly error.”

        • I said that meaning and morality cannot exist in a materialistic universe.

          Right. Without evidence.

          But that’s easy to fix. Go to a dictionary and show us how these two words are defined to prove your point.

        • John Grove

          “I said that meaning and morality cannot exist in a materialistic universe. ”

          Another non-sequitur. This guy pays lip service to the use of logic and fails to properly use it again and again.

        • adam
        • Giauz Ragnarock

          If God does exist justice is still subjective.

        • Michael Neville

          I see, you’re one of those idiots who think atheists are immoral or amoral nihilists.

          First of all, morality doesn’t depend on gods. Humans are social animals who evolved morality to help us live together in groups. The problem is what is or isn’t moral differs from group to group. For instance Catholic bishops have decided that gawd thinks contraception is immoral while pretty much everyone else, including most Catholic laity, think contraception is moral. Therefore morality is relative, even for people who think some god is the source of morality.

          Atheists have exactly the same hopes, desires, fears, wants and needs as theists. The only difference is that we don’t believe some magic sky pixie exists. We know that our life here on Earth is all we’ve got so we should make the best of it for ourselves, our family and friends, and all other humans. Our lives have the meaning which we give it. That’s more meaning that “I’ve got to make the magic sky pixie happy or else he’ll shit on me when I die.”

        • Jouke Elsinga

          Once again a simple question for an atheist: Is morality real, or is it simply a human invention? Atheists and reborn christians don’t have many needs in common. Atheists believe that people ultimately live for themself and Christians follow Jesus and live for God and His Kingdom.

        • Michael Neville

          It is literally a human invention. If you want to think a fictitious, imaginary critter dreamed morality up then you have to show that your illusionary god exists before you can ascribe inventing morality to it.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          Even if it were, than that still doesn’t prove it to be false. Maybe following a course philosophy 101 would help. You have to prove why the arguments of theists fail and no atheist is capable of doing so. But still they continue pretending to be smart.

        • MNb

          “why the arguments of theists fail”
          My dear compatriot or descendant of patriots, we have pointed out many times on this very page why your theist arguments fail. Several times you simply neglect it – like me pointing out that “objective meaning of life or no meaning at all” is a false dichotomy.

        • MR

          If I were to poll random strangers on the street on what gives their lives meaning (the majority of whom in my area would no doubt be some form of Christian), I’d be willing to bet that no one would attempt to answer with an objective meaning, rather they would answer with the everyday, common, ordinary things that give their lives meaning: family, friends, sunsets, goals, weekend soccer games, etc.

          Not even Christians go around thinking, “Gosh, to serve my Lord is the meaning of my life!” I mean, even as a Christian, I would have found that kind of thinking rather creepy. Get a life!

          And if Christians really felt that was indeed their objective meaning in life, I imagine they’d spend a lot more time doing God things and spend a lot less time with their wives and children and going to soccer games….

          As you note, MNb, the whole “objective meaning” or “no meaning” just rings false.

        • Otto

          Believing something to be true on the basis that it has not been proven to be false is fallacious. A logic 101 course would be in order for you.

        • MR

          If I had to believe everything that hasn’t been proven false…. Oy! Imagine all the contradictory beliefs I’d have to believe!

        • Even if it were, than that still doesn’t prove it to be false.

          Brilliant! “My god exists because … well, because you haven’t proven that he doesn’t!”

          I think you might want to take that philosophy course yourself.

          But I do appreciate your giving me cover for my belief in leprechauns, fairies, and Nessie. Thank you, my brother.

        • MR

          At least leprechauns, fairies, and Nessie presumably don’t want to be found. It’s harder to make a case for an omnipotent being who claims to so love the world yet can’t seem to be bothered to unambiguously reveal himself.

        • John Grove

          “You have to prove why the arguments of theists fail and no atheist is capable of doing so.”

          So, you are essentially saying you believe in God because no one can allegedly disprove god’s existence. By this logic, you must believe in anything you can’t disprove. That means all things are real until disproved, including fairies, goblins, ghosts, gremlins, pink unicorns.

          Theology is the study which has yet to prove that its subject matter exists.

        • adam

          “Theology is the study which has yet to prove that its subject matter exists.”

        • adam

          Even if it were, than that still doesn’t prove it to be false.

        • gusbovona

          Jouke: “Is morality real, or is it simply a human invention?”

          “Are the rules of tennis real, or are they simply a human invention?”

          See the problem with your distinction?

        • MNb

          Is a car real or is it simply a human invention?
          Now a simple question for you. How can any simple human invention not be real, whether it’s a car, an ethical regulation or the rules of chess?

        • Otto

          “Is morality real, or is it simply a human invention?”

          Those are not mutually exclusive. That is like asking ‘do you walk to school or carry your lunch?’.

        • katiehippie

          Thankful to god? For what? Making up rules and then when we don’t live up to them, he sends himself to earth to die (but not forever) to please himself. He made up the rules, he could change them. Life truly has no meaning if we’re only here to wait until we are supposed to be in heaven. Life truly has no meaning if there is a god.

        • Max Doubt

          “Maybe instead of criticizing God, you should be thankfull to Him for providing a way out.”

          If you see us criticizing gods it’s strictly as if we’re criticizing any other character from fiction. I could, for example, criticize Sherlock Holmes for a particular way he chooses to investigate a mystery, but it would but utterly ridiculous for me to thank him when he solved it at the end of the book. Thanking fictional characters demonstrates a fundamental inability to recognize the difference between objective reality and figments of your imagination.

          “Moreover He will build His kingdom on earth and He wants people like you and me to join His plan. When we contrast the gospel with the materialistic view we discover that on atheism ‘..there is no good, no evil, nothing but blind pittyless indiference’, no meaning.”

          When you have to dishonestly misrepresent the position of atheists in order to try to make your your point, you’ve failed before you started.

          “Objectively, so overlooking your subjective opinion life becomes meaningless. This scenario could be true if atheism were true.”

          Atheism is true. There are people who reject the claim that a god or gods exist. That’s a fact. Atheism exists as a true and actual point of view, your feeble attempt at dishonest equivocation notwithstanding.

          “However my experience tells me that atheists don’t reason from truth, but from emotion and everyone knows that this perspective is not only untrue, it is also depressing.”

          Your experience is severely limited, and/or you are abjectly willfully ignorant. Let me help you out here. Atheists reject the claim that a god or gods exist. We don’t believe in gods. That’s all. And we generally hold that position because those who claim gods exist have never in the history of humanity been able to provide a mote of objective evidence to support their claim.

          As far as failing to reason from a position of truth, it is those who believe gods exists who claim to know the truth without evidence. You claim something is true without being able to objectively demonstrate it, and you say atheists don’t reason from truth? That makes you kind of a hypocritical dick, doesn’t it?

          Atheists reason from this truth: As far as you or anyone else knows there is no objective evidence to support any claim that any gods exist as something other than figments of individuals’ imaginations. That. Is. True. And even you can’t — with honesty — deny it.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          Do you think that I agree with you? There is objective evidence, but atheists just stick their heads in the sand. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus Jesus speaks about evidence. Read it if you want my take on evidence. There is always a way out. A person can always say that he is some sort of brain in a vat, that he is dreaming, or something similar. Atheists design their own world apart from reality instead of facing the truth in the meanwhile they accuse theists for doing the very same thing.

        • MNb

          “There is objective evidence”
          Feel invited to present it.
          A made up story from a 2000 years old book is not any more evidence for your claim that there is a god than the Harry Potter books are evidence for Hogwarts being real.

          “A person can always say that he is some sort of brain in a vat, that he is dreaming, or something similar.”
          Nobody here is saying that or something similar. Thanks for confirming MD’s conclusion that “Your experience is severely limited, and/or you are abjectly willfully ignorant.” The fact that you inserted this falsehood and in the next sentence accuse atheists of not willing to face the truth makes you a hypocrite, unless you withdraw this quote.
          Your god is superfluous and doesn’t explain anything. “Without God’s justice no justice at all” is an elementary false dichotomy. You refusing to recognize this confirms that you don’t care about truth.

        • Max Doubt

          “Do you think that I agree with you?”

          Well, yes. You don’t know of any objective evidence to support any claims that any gods are real. Gods don’t make things appear or disappear. They can’t be seen, heard, smelled, touched, or measured by any objective method. They aren’t able to move things or change things. They have no weight, take up no space, and they don’t create any magnetic fields or gravity.

          Gods are utterly impotent, incapable of even the most minute task or of manifesting themselves in any way. Hell, even I can do a few things your god can’t do. I have the power of visibility. I can demonstrate objectively that I exist. And I can change the state of the universe. Let’s see you come up with any objective evidence that your wussy god can do anything like that. I’ll kick your god’s weakling little ass in any contest you can design.

          “There is objective evidence, but atheists just stick their heads in the sand.”

          This is where you can provide the objective evidence, admit that you don’t know of any, or lie. I’m betting you’ll neither bring in the evidence nor admit that you don’t know of any.

          “In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus Jesus speaks about evidence.”

          In A Study in Scarlet Sherlock Holmes speaks about evidence.

          “Read it if you want my take on evidence.”

          No thanks. I read it many years ago. It was dull, repetitive, and uncreative, and the plot points were contrived. Rank amateur stuff. If the authors were in middle school I’d probably only give them a C.

          “There is always a way out. A person can always say that he is some sort of brain in a vat, that he is dreaming, or something similar.”

          I suppose a person can always say that, and some probably do. It seems like a pretty impractical philosophical perspective.

          “Atheists design their own world apart from reality instead of facing the truth in the meanwhile they accuse theists for doing the very same thing.”

          Again you’re falling back on lying about atheists. Do you even realize you’re being dishonest? If not, you might seriously consider discussing your problem with a competent mental health professional.

        • There is objective evidence, but atheists just stick their heads in the sand.

          Objective evidence for God? You forgot to give it to us. Simply claiming that it’s available but that atheists are just too cowardly (or whatever) to accept it doesn’t work.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          O.k. here it is.
          P1. If God does not exist intentional states of consciousness do not exist.
          Evid P1: If there is no one to direct or structure our thought processes, these processes would be entirely random rendering it impossible to think of, or about something.
          P2. Intentional states of consciousness do exist.
          Evid P2. Obviously I can think about your article.
          Conclusion: Therefore God exists.
          This is rocksollid proof for Gods existence, but if you are able to show me why one of the premises is wrong, or why the conclusion doesn’t follow, than I am open to that.

        • This is rocksollid proof for Gods existence

          Yes, except that P1 is bullshit. You’ve assumed your conclusion by hypothesizing that thoughts must be directed.

        • MR

          And, besides, if Brahma does not exist then gravity does not exist.

          Logic Fail 101

        • Michael Neville

          That’s the same presuppositional argument that you gave before. It’s already been shown that P1 is a logical fallacy so the rest of your argument is worthless.

        • adam

          “Evid P1: If there is no one to direct or structure our thought processes, these processes would be entirely random ”

          Nothing that depends on chemistry and physics is truly random.

          “This is rocksollid proof for Gods existence,”

          For which ‘Gods’, Gods of Ignorance?

        • WayneMan

          Seriously? Your logic doubly fails before you finish the 1st sentence.

          “If God does not exist intentional states of consciousness do not exist.”

          First there is an assumption that conscientiousness only exists because some god. There is no evidence that a god is necessary for consciousness. So, in other words you are claiming “if P then Q”, with no proof of that requirement. This leads to a circular argument fallacy. But then your logic starts with the inverse statement of your invalid assumption, by assuming that “If P, then Q, therefore not P, then not Q.” This is called the fallacy of the inverse. Inverses may or may not be true, so assuming it true is a fallacy. So that makes all the rest of your logic totally useless.

        • Max Doubt

          “O.k. here it is.”

          It’s interesting that you’d make that reply to a request for objective evidence to support the claims that gods exist, when the rest of your reply contains no such evidence. Any middle school science tutor can help you understand the concept of evidence, and in many communities you can get that sort of help for free. Do it. It may save you from making such a fool of yourself in future comments.

          “P1. If God does not exist intentional states of consciousness do not exist.”

          It would, of course, be equally as accurate and equally as well supported to state the premise thusly: “If a festering boil on Jouke Elsinga’s ass does not exist intentional states of consciousness do not exist.” Do you have a festering boil on your ass?

          “Evid P1: If there is no one to direct or structure our thought processes, these processes would be entirely random rendering it impossible to think of, or about something.”

          Your failure seems to come from your desperate need to personify natural processes, your incredulity, and your ignorance of the relevant biological sciences.

          “P2. Intentional states of consciousness do exist. […] Evid P2. Obviously I can think about your article. […] Conclusion: Therefore God exists.”

          Do you have a festering boil on your ass?

          “This is rocksollid proof for Gods existence,…”

          No. It’s a rerun, so old it’s moldy, tried before by children far younger and smarter than you. They failed just like you failed. That is some bullshit your preacher or parents or maybe some pals on the ‘net fed you with a spoon. You ate every bite. You’re not even willing, or maybe you’re unable, to form your own original thought on the matter.

          “… but if you are able to show me why one of the premises is wrong, or why the conclusion doesn’t follow,…”

          You have not demonstrated that your first premise is true. You brought a god into the mix as an assumed fact not in evidence. So we are where we were. You know of no objective evidence to support any claims that any gods exist as something other than figments of individuals’ imaginations. If you were honest you’d admit that’s true. You don’t appear to be honest.

          “… than I am open to that.”

          No, you’re not.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “This is rocksollid proof for Gods existence”

          Logic is not grounded in evidence. Change your terms and assumptions and the invisible pink unicorn or Thought2Much or FSM explains consciousness just as well.

          Starting with evidence like observing and testing animal and human behavior as well as investigating how nervous systems function and what they are composed of is how we develop theories of consciousness. So far, there is no evidence that would get us from nervous system function to “a wizard did it!” stand-in called “god” any more than we can get to consciousness being the machinations of space whales.

        • MNb

          “Maybe instead of criticizing God, you should be thankfull to Him for providing a way out.”
          I’m not in, so why would I need a way out?
          (assumption: you mean “a way out of sin”).

        • Kodie

          You yourself have defined what you wish to be good or bad. That’s all religion is, pretend that you have an outside source for your own definitions. It’s depressing that so many adults need to cling to a fairy tale to avoid being depressed.

        • SparklingMoon,

          It is a mistake to call sin like debt that can be paid by others. Sin or pain etc are properties of human soul and it cannot be transferred to others or. It is not possible that someone other take medicines to relieve my headache

          It is explained by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the reality of sin from the viewpoint of spiritual philosophy: Deliverance from sin and love for God is undoubtedly the highest object of man’s existence,and forms the true happiness that is also called Bliss. Conversely, every desire that goes against the will of God, and every life spent in the pursuit of such desires, is like the fire of Hell. The question now arises as to how man can find deliverance from such an infernal existence. It does not require a lot of arguments to show that only true God realization can inspire love or fear. If a child is given a diamond worth millions, it will not cherish it any more than it cherishes a toy. And if a man is given honey which has been poisoned without his knowledge, he will eat it with relish and will not realize its danger.On the other hand, no one will ever consciously endanger his life by thrusting his hand into a snake pit or swallowing poison. Why is it, then, that people do not fear the death that must come upon them as a result of transgressing Divine commandments? I tell you that it is only because they are not as aware of the perils of sin as they are of the harmfulness of a snake or a poison.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          Or it might be that the results of sin are manifested over time and that people are more and more deceived by sin as they do it more often. And if the latter is the case, then what does that do to prove that sin is less real? The example you give shows that the man eating honey doesn’t fear death at the moment when he eats it, does that change the ultimate result?

        • SparklingMoon,

          The fact is that sin is a poison that is born when man does not obey God, does not love Him fervently and does not remember Him with love. A person whose heart has become estranged from God’s love is like a tree which, having been uprooted from the soil and, therefore, being unable to absorb water, withers with each passing day and soon loses all its verdure.Sin devastates man just as dryness kills a tree.

          Divine law has prescribed three remedies for this condition: Firstly, love of God Almighty. He who loves God is like a tree firmly rooted in the soil. This is man’s ultimate bliss. Just as a tree sucks and absorbs water from the earth, and expels harmful substances through it, when a person’s heart is nourished by the water of Divine love, it is easily able to get rid of all poisonous influences. Having immersed itself in God it continues to receive pure nourishment that causes it to grow and flourish and bear good fruit. But those who do not have their roots in God cannot absorb this nourishing water.They become drier with every passing moment and all their leaves fall off leaving behind bare and unsightly branches.

          Secondly, always ask help from God Almighty to come over human weaknesses and desire not to expose something. As long as a tree’s roots remained covered by the earth, it has every chance of remaining green.

          Thirdly, repentance (turning to God in all humility to absorb the water of life) to attain nearness to Him and to be released from the darkness of sin through righteous deeds.Verbal repentance is not enough;true repentance must be accompanied by good deeds which bring one nearer to God. Prayer, too, is a form of repentance because through it we seek nearness to God. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • MR

          When we contrast the gospel with the materialistic view we discover that on atheism ‘..there is no good, no evil, nothing but blind pittyless indiference’, no meaning. Objectively, so overlooking your subjective opinion life becomes meaningless.

          Hi, Jouke, for clarification, can you tell us the objective meaning of life and how we can objectively determine that it is in fact objective?

        • Jouke Elsinga

          Yes of course. The meaning of life is to Love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We know it because it is ingrained in the human nature (by moral experience). People feel that this is why we are here on earth. God intentionally gave us a conscience which tells us to do these things.

        • MR

          And yet for billions of people that is simply not the meaning of life, objective or otherwise. In fact, that appears to be a strictly subjective Christian outlook. “Moral experience” is easily explained by the evolutionary process and that I can see does not appear to be objective at all. How can we objectively determine that what you say is in fact objective?

        • MNb

          Given buddhism and Confucianism no, it is not ingrained in human nature that “the meaning of life is to Love the Lord our God with all our heart”.

        • MR

          Not to mention loving one’s neighbor as oneself!

        • Life is Monopoly Plus!

    • MNb

      There is no god, so he cannot be any standard, let alone an ultimate one.

    • Michael Neville

      According to one version of Christianity two people “sinned” 6,000 years ago, pissing Yahweh off, So four thousand years later Yahweh rapes a girl so she can give birth to Yahweh Jr (called Jesus for short) so Jesus, who is actually Yahweh except he’s not (it’s a mystery), dies so Yahweh can feel all better and, as soon as Yahweh feels all better then Jesus can stop being dead because gods don’t really die (not dying is part of the boilerplate god contract). Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

      • Jouke Elsinga

        I am not a trinitarian and don’t think that the Bible teaches that God is a trinity. But if you think that it does, than I like to see the proof verses. I give you two things to consider: Does historical events have to make sense, or follow the laws of logic to occur? If God created and owns all of it, is He than allowed to do what He wants to do with it? By the way bear in mind that God is the standard of justice and he gave us the ability to make moral choises and to even choose against Him.

        • MNb

          “By the way bear in mind …”
          If we have to do that there is no need anymore to answer your two questions, silly.

        • Michael Neville

          Who gives a rat’s ass about what flavor of delusion you personally follow?

          If God created and owns all of it

          First show us your fictitious god exists then we can discuss whether or not it owns anything. Hyundai made my car but they don’t own it so in a similar your make-believe god may have created things but that doesn’t give it any claims to owning anything.

        • Jouke Elsinga

          Why don’t you just read your comment and think about what might be wrong with your analogy? But anyway. The following argument offers the proof for God’s existence:

          Prem 1. If God doesn’t exists, intentional states of consciosness do not exist.
          Evid. I mean there is no one to direct and structure thought processes so it is impossible to think ‘about’, or ‘of’ something.
          Prem 2. Intentional states of consciousness do exist.
          Evid. 2 I can think about your comments.
          Conclusion: Therefore God exists.

          O.k. now show me where the argument fails. I am curious. I like to learn new things.

        • John Grove

          Premise one is obviously flawed because it a priori assumes consciousness comes from God up front. That is circular reasoning. You are assuming what you set out to prove using the conclusion as the premise in an argument, thus going around the proof. You have smuggled in God through an unwarranted assumption and one that has not the slightest shred of evidence.

          We have every good reason through 150 year of neurology to believe consciousness is a result of the brain. In fact if consciousness wasn’t tied to the brain than anesthesia would be pointless. An entire scientific discipline devoted to temporarily extinguishing consciousness that produce results millions of times on a daily basis.

          Sam Harris stated:

          “Science is not in principle committed to the idea that there’s no afterlife or that the mind is identical to the brain…

          If it’s true that consciousness is being run like software on the brain and can – by virtue of ectoplasm or something else we don’t understand – be dissociated from the brain at death, that would be part of our growing scientific understanding of the world if we discover it…

          But there are very good reasons to think it’s not true. We know this from 150 years of neurology where you damage areas of the brain, and faculties are lost… You can cease to recognize faces, you can cease to know the names of animals but you still know the names of tools…

          What we’re being asked to consider is that you damage one part of the brain, and something about the mind and subjectivity is lost, you damage another and yet more is lost, [but] you damage the whole thing at death, we can rise off the brain with all our faculties in tact, recognizing grandma and speaking English!”

          BYW, you keep using the word “proof” in the wrong context. Proof is a mathematical concept only. In science there is only evidence.

          All I can do is re-state what Sam Harris has so astutely stated:

          “If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?”

        • Otto

          It fails in the first premise. You have simply asserted that there is some connection between a God and consciousness.

          And please define what ‘intentional states of consciousness’ are exactly.

        • MNb

          Like Otto and JG pointed out there is no reason to accept premise 1. It assumes what you want to prove.
          Intentional states of consciousness are likely to be explained by Evolution Theory.

          http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/06/how-consciousness-evolved/485558/

          So your argument is also nothing but a God of the Gaps.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s a presuppositional argument, also know as begging the question or petitio principii (Latin for assuming the initial point). Your first premise assumes that your god exists. Since that’s what you’re trying to prove, then you can’t use it as a premise. If my argument that all dogs have five legs starts with the premise that all dogs have five legs then, ipso facto, all dogs have five legs. Try again, this time without using logical fallacies.

        • Joe

          Premise 1: No.

          You beg the question in the first premise and don’t adequately demonstrate that fact. Your argument fails.

        • SparklingMoon,

          This doctrine that God, out of His love for the world and in order to bring salvation to mankind, transferred the sins of disobedient, disbelieving and wicked people to His beloved son Jesus and caused him to be hanged on the cross to deliver the world from sin, is completely wrong. if God had no other means of bringing salvation to mankind —except that He should have a son who should take upon himself the curse of all sinners and be put on the cross — then there is no reason why it should not have been mentioned in the Torah and the other Jewish scriptures.

          No sane person can ever accept that the eternal law of God, which He has prescribed for the salvation of mankind, should keep on changing and that different laws should operate at different times: one in the time of the Torah, a second in the time of the Gospel, a third during the time of the Holy Quran, and yet other laws in the times of other Prophets who appeared in different parts of the world.
          After much analysis, we can conclude that neither the Torah nor any other book of the Jews teaches this kind of sacrifice. As far as salvation is concerned,the teaching of the Torah is in full accord with that of the Quran which teaches that turning towards God with all sincerity, seeking forgiveness for one’s sins, doing good deeds, refraining from carnal passions with a view to pleasing God, observing Divine prohibitions and injunctions and following Divine precepts and commandments in letter and spirit are the only means to salvation.(Ruhanikhazain)

        • Otto

          “If God created and owns all of it, is He than allowed to do what He wants to do with it?”

          ‘Might makes right’ is a concept that is almost universally rejected as having anything to do with justice.

        • MR

          We often see Christians redefining moral terms when applied to God as opposed to us mere humans. Often in the opposite sense as your illustration points out. If the rules are different for God than they are for mortals, then it’s not an objective definition, so they need to quit using the same terms: Don’t call it “justice” if our “justice” is different than God’s justice. Call it something else.

          As an example, many Christians believe in hell. Infinite punishment for finite “sins” is about as far from the definition of “justice” that I can imagine. In fact, to my mind, it is the definition of “injustice.” It’s annoying when they pretend we’re talking about the same thing.

        • Otto

          You are spot on. Greg summed this up so well that I saved his quote.

          “If God’s definition of good is different than the human definition of good, the human word for the human concept of good should not be used for God’s concept of good.”

          -Greg G.

        • Michael Neville

          Your god is the “standard of justice”? According to your own propaganda your god is a sadistic, narcississtic bully with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old. He kills people just because he can. If that’s a “standard of justice” then there ain’t no justice, there’s just us.

        • Perhaps Jouke hasn’t read the Old Testament.

    • Uzza

      Yes, Huitsilopochtli is the ultimate standard of justice. Death to the Tlaxcalans!

      • Michael Neville

        Besides, Ol’ Huitz makes sure the Sun continues to rise every morning.

    • Joe

      We aren’t asking for fundamental standards, just one the majority can agree on.

    • Otto

      Funny how the ‘ultimate standard’ is purely based on the subjective opinion of each theist. Pretty weak assertion.

    • derwood

      Problem not solved, because nobody has a clue what the morals are until you tell us. I suppose you could call it the Heisenberg objective morality box. Every state of morality in the world is in there, until *boom* you tell us and it collapses the Heisenberg thingy, at which point, boom badda bing, we know the true morality and it’s objective.

      • derwood

        And which god too. The Heisenberg uncertainty god box. We don’t have a clue which god is the real one until you tell us. Might as well call it the Jouke Elsinga we dunno until he tells us box.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      God is the ultimate standard of voyeurs and sadists. Wonderful how we can speak for an all-powerful supposedly still alive god as if it’s an invalid.

  • Tyler Willis

    You say there is a default idea of justice but I think this is false if you look through the lens of history and culture. The idea of justice has changed over the years. If you are saying that justice is one particular, absolute thing that never changes then I think you should explain that. Which culture and which generation owns this default idea?

    • No, I’m not saying that this doesn’t change. I’m talking about now.

      • Tyler Willis

        Even now I don’t see this default idea. Who owns it?

        • Nuremberg trials? It wasn’t that hard to find a unified legal code.

        • Tyler Willis

          Cultures and people groups disagree that this is the default. It’s not hard to see the problem with your view that there is this default idea. No one culture or people group own the idea of default justice.

        • Not really sure where the problem is. Legal concepts are largely the same in Western societies. You’ll point out important differences just between US and British legal systems (and on and on). Yes, granted, and also not the point. In broad terms, they’re the same. Contrast this with the atonement, which has a radically different (and conflicting) idea of justice.

        • Tyler Willis

          If you rig everything to fit your definitions and allow no other, of course you’re right about the default idea of justice. A rigged argument is biased.

        • I have no idea what the problem is and little interest in finding out. It seems simply like you’re determined to argue with me. If you want to point out a specific problem, that might resuscitate this conversation.

        • Tyler Willis

          The specific problem is I see a flaw in your argument and I’m trying to bring it to your attention.

          You claim that you have the default idea of justice, but isn’t that the key point that you and Koukle disagree about? You cannot just claim you are correct and then “argue” that the other person is wrong. You’ve rigged the argument and a rigged argument isn’t an argument.

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve just reread the OP and I don’t see where Bob claims to “have the default idea of justice”. Please point out where this claim is made.

        • Tyler Willis

          “Here again he’s wrong because there is a default position. We have a common idea of justice, and Francis is speaking from that standpoint rather than an atheist standpoint.”

        • Joe

          “We have a COMMON IDEA of justice” (emphasis mine)

          You answered your own question.

        • Tyler Willis

          I don’t follow you. We have many common ideas of justice, not just “a” common idea. Which is the default?

        • Joe

          Can one idea be more common than others? That’s what’s generally accepted by the definition of ‘common’.

        • Tyler Willis

          It’s common among religious people to not share the common secular view of justice. Which is the default idea of justice?

        • Joe

          The one held by the majority, and enshrined in the law of that particualr country.

          I am having trouble understanding the point of your argument. I also have difficulty in believing you do not understand how the legal system works.

        • Tyler Willis

          Ideas of justice go beyond the legal system. There are ideas of justice held by a minority that voted against the laws. They think some of the laws are unjust. My point is the default view of justice is extremely subjective and an argument that relies on that kind of thing isn’t a good argument.

        • Joe

          So we can’t have any kind of justice? Release all prisoners, because they disagree with the laws that put them in prison.

        • Kodie

          Of course some laws are unjust, that was never the point.

        • Rudy R

          There are ideas of justice held by a minority that voted against the laws. They think some of the laws are unjust.

          And what laws are those? Would they include punishing the innocent?

        • Kodie

          It’s common among religious people to seem to want more people punished than less. They want to get off the hook with Jesus, but they want to believe there’s a universe where Hitler doesn’t “get away with it”, that even if we didn’t manage to bring him to earthly justice, that god will take care of that. I’m not saying atheists wouldn’t have hunted him down, but dying without getting caught and tried and convicted doesn’t mean anyone got away with it. We’re satisfied enough that there isn’t always perfect universal justice for crimes committed.

          I’m saying, the Christian sense of justice is, they don’t want to have to go to hell, they just need to believe they are forgiven for everything so they don’t have to be responsible, but anyone who doesn’t come to Jesus doesn’t deserve mercy, which is the opposite of justice. If you commit a crime or a sin, and you aren’t caught, to them, if there isn’t eternal damnation, those people get away with something.

        • MNb

          “they want to believe there’s a universe where Hitler doesn’t “get away with it”,”
          Except that they have constructed a universe in which he totally could – that’s what the atonement doctrine is about. What a mess.

        • You claim that you have the default idea of justice, but isn’t that the key point that you and Koukle disagree about?

          No. As I made clear in the post, Koukl accepts my view of justice as well! He puts on his Christian hat only when he wants to rationalize the atonement. In other areas of his life—talking about justice in ordinary society—he has the same ideas of justice as I do.

        • Tyler Willis

          ‘Koukl accepts my view of justice as well”

          If Koukle accepts your view of justice as the complete view then he’s not accepting the christian view so I’m a little mystified that a christian would do that. Where does Koukl say that your view of justice is also his?

        • Not what he says, not what I say, not what I said in the comment, not what I said in the blog post.

          It’s all in the post. Good luck.

        • Tyler Willis

          I’ll try reading it again. Thanks.

        • Joe

          It’s only a flaw in his argument if we they don’t have an established system of justice currently in place in the USA. I believe they do.

        • MNb

          Total nonsense. BobS rightly points out that all “rechtsstaten”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rechtsstaat

          have several things in common. Then he compares these things with christian atonement doctrine and observes some big differences.

        • Tyler Willis

          They do have several things in common. I’m not denying that this idea of justice exists. It does. What’s being rigged, I think, is that this is the “default”. That word is being used as a battering ram to (falsely) discredit any attempt to argue against it. “It’s the default, it’s the default!!” Okay fine, fine call it the default view. Now explain how the other side is false or your side is true. I don’t see that so there’s really been no argument made.

  • watcher_b

    I’m ok with Koukl’s statement that one’s view of justice is coming from their worldview. He just shows that his view of justice sucks and since it is coming from his worldview that his worldview probably sucks as well for all the reasons Francis brings up.

    • Uzza

      I can’t hear Koukl’s argument without thinking yes, the insane person in padded room #6 has a different view as well, now why should we privilege your view over his?

    • Joe

      I’d be OK if he actually lived by that worldview, but he doesn’t.

  • Catechin

    So, if in the “Christian worldview” it is fair for someone to receive the punishment that should be given to someone else, when are we going to code this into our laws?
    Can you imagine the opportunities that it would create? Lots of innocent people would be willing to “sell” jail terms for white collar crimes or drug traffickers!

    • That’s what did during the Crusades. You’d get an indulgence for participating in the Crusades, but that’s such a hassle. So rich people would pay poor people to take their place. The poor got paid, and the rich got the indulgence.

      Win, win.

      • Catechin

        Darn … I am almost 1000 years late with my scheme!

      • Kevin K

        Of course, in the end, the poor people got slaughtered in the Crusades…but such a minor thing!

    • Joe

      It’s the ‘whipping boy’ all over again. This is what would happen if society was again governed by Christian values:

      http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/whipping-boy.html

    • RichardSRussell

      A theme that pops up from time to time in science fiction is that of a hypothetical future world in which people from a disfavored class (indigents, criminals, clones) are kept alive and minimally comfortable so their organs can be used as spare parts for the wealthy and powerful — who are thereafter tempted by the ready availability of backups to engage in all sorts of dangerous pastimes. And, since the W&P are the very people who create the rules of society, it becomes progressively easier to enter the disfavored class.

      • Catechin

        Apparently nothing wrong according to the “Christian worldview”!

  • Uzza

    It’s worth mentioning that this default worldwide view of justice is not even limited to just our own species.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KSryJXDpZo

    • evodevo

      Yes. This. the evolutionary origin of morality has a lot of data now, and there are a number of papers done on this topic. I have been observing dogs, horses and other animals daily for 60 years, and they exhibit the primitive beginnings of almost all our “human” moral bases … you just have to simplify the semantics. Horses exhibit an understanding of fairness/justice/equality & punishment/revenge/grudges, etc. I have seen companionship/friendship, empathy, cooperation, jealousy, unwarranted physical abuse and bullying, and more. They are all there, but their /expression may be more or less different than what we see with humans. The unmistakable origins are there, however. Sorry, G-d DIDN’T do it…

      • busterggi

        What’s even more impressive is that its also inter-species though mostly observable in domesticated – I have a neighbor who had a dog & monkey who were great friends for years.

      • Michael Neville

        Social animals evolve morality to help them live together in groups. Humans are social animals so we evolved morality just like wolves, chimpanzees, cats and gorillas.

  • Kevin K

    So if God is indeed the primary offended party and he’s satisfied with Jesus as a substitute (and the substitute is satisfied, and the guilty party is satisfied), then where’s the problem?

    The problem with this, of course, is that when applied on Earth it means that every prison door should be open and every prisoner released — as long as they’re Christian and say the right prayer. Non-Christians of any stripe, even deeply religious people who seek forgiveness of “sin” through their own religious practices, would not qualify. Only Christians.

    Not fair. Not just. Not rational. Not moral. Not ethical.

    It also argues for facts not in evidence. Is child pornography a sin? The bible certainly doesn’t say so. So, who decides what crimes/sins are punished and what aren’t?

    • A clash of Christianity with reality. Who’d have anticipated that??

      • Rick

        Christians don’t claim that the consequences of sin, including prison and capital punishment, are banished because of the payment of Christ. Only the debt owed to God is satisfied by the payment God provided with His Son. The line of reasoning provided is a strawman argument not made by Christians that I have ever seen.

        • MNb

          So christians claim two types of justice which eventually may conflict with each other ….
          Yeah, problem solved.

        • Are you saying that there is nothing in the Bible that says that Christians get special benefits here on earth? I thought I read a passage that said that they were prevented from sinning. No?

        • Peter_J88

          Ha! Hell would have to freeze over before that would happen…

        • If you’re saying that Christians aren’t immune from sin, I agree, but the Bible doesn’t.

          “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.” (1 John 5:18 )

          See also 1 John 3:6-9.

        • Peter_J88

          Yes, the whole immunity from sin thing… We both know that what the bible says and what happens in real life are two completely different things.

        • MNb

          Blame Adam and Eve, brother.
          And because Original Sin: blame yourself.
          You never can blame yourself enough.
          That pleases Our Lord Divine Father.
          If what happened in real life was the same as what the Bible says we would live in Heaven, not in the Vale of Tears called earthly life.
          You should pray more.
          Not with me, because I’m such a lost soul that I don’t even desire to live in Heaven.

        • Michael Neville

          “Heaven for climate, Hell for society.” –Mark Twain

  • davewarnock

    So the answer to the three questions is simple: Because God. Magic.

    Ok? Next question, same answer.

  • busterggi

    If Jesus died for us then did his resurrection mean he changed his mind because it cancelled out his death?

    • Michael Neville

      According to the propaganda Jesus didn’t die. He spent an unpleasant afternoon hanging around the cross and then, day and a half later, he’s good to go again. What’s the sacrifice?

      • Without Malice

        Yeah, but he apparently had to carry around those wounds forever. He still had holes in his hands and feet and side when he came out of the grave, so I imagine he still had all the whip marks too and maybe a couple of black eyes. How would you like to look like that forever?

        • Michael Neville

          Whip scars and holes in extremities are manly. As for the black eyes he can use mascara as a coverup. If mascara is good enough for Mick Jagger, Tim Minchin and Billy Joe Armstrong then it’s good enough for Jesus.

        • Without Malice

          Maybe he started a rock band.

  • MNb

    As I reject all three points I suppose I’m an unjust man.
    I’m only interested in punishment if it works, ie changes undesirable behaviour. That doesn’t necessarily make me a softie. Sometimes only harsh punishment works and then I’m totally ready to hand it out.
    Only two days ago Galen Broaddus banned me. He didn’t like my attitude, was not capable of changing it with other means he could think of and so he did the only thing he could do. I upvoted him for it. It was probably unjust (I didn’t use any foul language for instance), but shrug.
    Of course this view is totally incompatible with the atonement doctrine. Jesus’ sacrifice did not do much to change undesirable behaviour of barbarians and even less so of modern christians.

    “It’s absurd from within their story because their story doesn’t allow for that kind of thing,”
    Rather the other way round – the absurdity of miracles (Hume) leads me to my atheist story.

    “Koukl imagines a symmetry that’s not there.”
    Post modernism pops up again.

  • pec

    I think both contenders are missing the point here. Jesus’ death for our sins is only a miscarriage of justice if J was no more than a righteous mortal carpenter. If he was God Incarnate, as Christians insist he was, then he was jointly responsible with
    God for our innately sinful nature; he was also part of the whole preposterous atonement scheme from the start. So he got what he wanted, he got what he had coming, and justice was served. The real problem is, the whole scheme, including J’s “sacrifice”, was a human contrivance and accomplished exactly NOTHING for anybody, and justice was NOT served.

    • Joe

      Even if he was ‘god incarnate’, it still doesn’t make sense. How does a criminal atoning for his sins absolve others of different sins?

      • pec

        Of course it doesn’t make sense; none of it makes sense. It’s just what these poor sods believe.

    • Kodie

      I tend to think Jesus, if he was real on earth, was a deluded martyr. The sins of humanity that he is alleged to have sacrificed himself are almost altogether nonsense. Being human means being selfish and competitive at times, and react with inappropriate emotions sometimes. To me, god just throws in the towel with Jesus, accepting that his perfect creation is basically an immature monster like himself. I don’t know why Jesus had to die to satisfy god. That part doesn’t make any sense. Christians only get distracted that he did, and imagine themselves as devoted to him in every way in repayment, It doesn’t make sense that Jesus had to die, and it doesn’t make sense that, if his dying made everyone forgiven, that there is anything else they need to do, including worship Jesus.

      I mean, forgiveness means no further debt is owed. It’s nice to show appreciation, I guess, but if you owe someone money, whether it is your friend or a credit card company, and they decide to forgive the debt, that means it’s erased without your payment. If you paid, it’s not forgiveness. If they expect payment in another form, it’s not forgiveness. If you bargain to pay it off some other way, or beg them to erase the debt if you do all their dishes or whatever, it’s not forgiven.

      Anyway, the world is still the ugly place god once flooded, he just decided not to expect any better, but according to most Christians, he’s still leveling punishment on earth and in death for the people who don’t cower and kneel and grovel over Jesus for dying on our behalf. He’s not still griefed over our shitty behavior, only that the offerings system is liquidated. That’s not what forgiveness is, that’s just another sadistic plot. It’s not poetically beautiful, and it didn’t change anything. In order to be completely forgiven, we all get into heaven and we don’t have to go to church or tithe shit. I mean, I can understand if churches want to go on as sort of an education center of sorts, they should charge admission to support themselves as a business, but they aren’t really required, and any church or community who requires membership in a church is a liar. Churches are businesses, and there is peer pressure to belong so people who think they are good judges of character can tell if you’re a good person or not. They don’t serve or glorify god or Jesus, they are merely pep rallies to get people attracted to giving money for nothing.

      • Without Malice

        And of course there’s always future sins that you may not be forgiven for unless you repent. So what we have is not much different than the old scheme under Judaism where God promises to forgive the sins of those who repent. The animal sacrifice was just for show and Yahweh himself said that what he really wanted was a contrite heart. So how the death of Jesus improved on this is still anyone’s guess.

  • Kodie

    It bothers me more than it should, but Francis with an i is the masculine spelling. Frances like the plural of France is the feminine spelling.

  • Rudy R

    To follow Koukl’s logic to its natural conclusion, the Christian worldview should be applied to the US justice system, whereby, it’s justice:
    1. if we’ve done something worthy of punishment, then someone else can get that punishment.
    2. whenever someone takes a punishment that should’ve been applied to someone else (like Jesus taking our punishment).
    3. if you give one guilty person a break, you must give the same break to everyone in the same situation.

  • Logan Blackisle

    1. If we’ve done something worthy of punishment, then we should get that punishment. Anything else is unjust.

    This assumes that, in a given society, some acts are indeed worthy of punishment.

    A statement I have to disagree with, vehemently.

    Punishment, when talking about crime, law, justice, etc, is essentially a societal form of ‘an eye for an eye’; or in other words, ‘person x wronged person y, and since it would be unjust to let person y wrong person x right back, society will do it instead’.

    That isn’t justice.

    • Kevin K

      Well, what you’re proposing is anarchy. So, that doesn’t work either.

      And I think you’ll find that the law has evolved quite a bit from “an eye for an eye”. These days, it’s more like, “$100 for speeding”.

      • Max Doubt

        “And I think you’ll find that the law has evolved quite a bit from “an eye for an eye”. These days, it’s more like, “$100 for speeding”.”

        … and, we’ll take your property and make you live in a cage because you had some marijuana growing in your yard.

        • Kevin K

          And there are means to change laws you feel are unjust. Declaring that no laws should exist because a few unjust laws exist is a logical fallacy.

        • MNb

          Yeah, but LB actually didn’t write that. Essentially he questioned if justice is a useful concept. As soon as you write “that doesn’t work either” you should question it as well.
          I’m not sure if this is correct, but it seems a bit that when talking about justice punishment becomes a goal in itself. I think it should be a means to an end – for instance people speeding less.

        • adam

          “I think it should be a means to an end – for instance people speeding less.”

          Unless the true goal is the accumulation of power/money instead of ‘justice’

        • Max Doubt

          “And there are means to change laws you feel are unjust. Declaring that no laws should exist because a few unjust laws exist is a logical fallacy.”

          I didn’t see where anyone suggested declaring that no laws should exist. I got the impression Logan was criticizing the idea of punishment. You can have a society where we isolate people from society if they pose a threat to the peace and safety of everyone else. We can assess fines for certain acts to offset what those acts cost society, like the way a lot of our traffic laws work. We can apply fees to cover the cost of repair or replacement when someone takes or damages public or private property. But we don’t have to intentionally make people feel bad as a way to make ourselves feel better, which seems to be the way so much of our “justice” system works now.

      • Logan Blackisle

        what you’re proposing is anarchy

        Where did I propose anything?

        And I think you’ll find that the law has evolved quite a bit from “an eye for an eye”

        I said:

        essentially a societal form of ‘an eye for an eye

        Do I really need to explain this?

        • Michael Neville

          Do I really need to explain this?

          Yes I think you do. “He killed someone. Oh well, too bad for the victim but we can’t do anything to the murderer, that would be punishment.”

        • Logan Blackisle

          Aside from punishment, there are also the concepts of deterrence, isolation, and rehabilitation.

          Rehabilitation is fine, isolation is fine – to a degree – deterrence is just punishment by another word.

          Take a look at Finland’s system

          How far do I need to pencil this out?

        • Michael Neville

          In other words you’re objecting to locking someone up for punishment but locking them up for deterrence or isolation is just hunky-dory. A difference that makes no difference is no difference.

        • Logan Blackisle

          No.

          When you’re putting people in prison as part of their punishment, the prison is designed for just that. Likewise with isolating people for rehabilitation.

          And notice I put deterrence in the same boat as punishment in my previous comment; not opposite as you indicate:

          you’re objecting to locking someone up for punishment but locking them up for deterrence or isolation is just hunky-dory

          I said [emphasis added]:

          Rehabilitation is fine, isolation is fine – to a degree – deterrence is just punishment by another word.

          The current system in most western countries is focused on isolation as (part of) punishment; I’m saying this is unjust and should instead be isolation for the purpose of rehabilitation, or, if rehabilitation is not possible, then simply isolation like Finland does it – humanely.

        • Michael Neville

          I see. Locking somebody up for punishment or deterrence is double plus ungood but locking them up for isolation is just peachy-keen. Either you’re not explaining your position very well or you haven’t given it much thought.

        • Logan Blackisle

          I said [emphasis added]:

          When you’re putting people in prison as part of their punishment, the
          prison is designed for just that. Likewise with isolating people for
          rehabilitation.

          Rehabilitation is fine, isolation is fine – to a degree – deterrence is just punishment by another word.

          The current system in most western countries is focused on isolation as
          (part of) punishment
          ; I’m saying this is unjust and should instead be
          isolation for the purpose of rehabilitation, or, if rehabilitation is
          not possible, then simply isolation like Finland does it – humanely.

          What are you having trouble understanding?

        • Michael Neville

          I’m having trouble understanding the difference between locking someone up for punishment and locking someone up for isolation. To me isolation sounds like solitary confinement. But I won’t bother to respond to you any more. Your incoherence is not worth the effort to try to decipher.

    • RichardSRussell

      “An eye for an eye”, however harsh it may seem today, was introduced in the ancient (pre-Biblical) Code of Hammurabi as a moderating influence, admonishing the relatives of someone who had been blinded not to go out and massacre the entire family of the guy who did the blinding.

    • Your objection to punishment (I presume you mean something besides restitution or fines) is interesting, but that’s a separate topic.

      The first word in point 1 is “if.” It begins with an assumption. You’re welcome to declare that that assumption is always false, but the point still holds (and is relevant since punishment for sins/crimes is the topic at hand).

  • Laurance Emory

    I told my Thai gf about Jesus taking away all our sins story. She was raised with almost total ignorance of Christian theology (lucky her). Her reply? “Impossible. Cannot do. No one can take away bad thing you do. It is yours, it is your karma”. To me it seems like Christians are trying to “pull a fast one” by this scheme. Grow up, be responsible.

    • Christians are outraged at the injustice of Hitler “just getting away with it all.” But they’re content with Hitler accepting Jesus just before he pulled the trigger and thereby getting away with it all.

      Logic isn’t really central to this belief system.

      • Kevin K

        Yes. My favorite example of that is Jeffrey Dahmer, who is allegedly in heaven because he converted right before he was shivved in prison, while the people he dismembered and ate are in hell as unrepentant homosexuals.

  • John Morris

    I have always had to problem with the notion of sin. It seems to be the way some men try to control everyone else. The notion of sin nature that we are born with is setting all of us for failure. How can a just God let you be born with a sin nature?

  • RichardSRussell

    Y’know, if it weren’t for the fact that the existence of Greg Koukl is independently verifiable, I’d think that you were making him up as a straw man to show how asininely stupid apologist arguments are.

    • Yeah, it’s pretty nutty. I’m pretty careful to give good links to my sources to back up my claims. I guess you just can’t make this stuff up.

  • Sheila Warner

    “If Jesus paid the debt for all, where is the problem?” That’s exactly my problem. All “sins” are paid for, so why add the additional requirement for repentance & proper belief? Do you need to repent for already forgiven “sins”? I could be a better god than the Christian one.

    • Otto

      Unconditional love, with one condition.

      • Without Malice

        Paul (whoever he was, and we really don’t know) wrote, “By grace you are saved, through your faith.” Once anyone gets to that contradictory statement they should just stop reading because it only gets worse from there; “and that faith is not your own, it too was given to you by God.” So we have a situation where no one is deserving of grace but you get it if you have faith, but you can only have that faith if it was given to you by God.
        And where does death and atonement enter into this? One might just as well say that Jesus was a baker and that unless you believe that he made the best cakes any baker ever made you can’t be saved from an eternity of hell, but you can’t taste the cakes to make up your mind if they’re really the best or not, you just have to take someone else’s word for it, even though that someone else has never tasted the cakes either and anyway you can’t really believe he made the best cakes unless God give you the faith to believe that he did. I mean, this is all Alice through the looking glass to the nth degree and there’s no sorting any of it out.

  • Michael Neville

    Our Christian troll has decided to take his logical fallacies elsewhere.

    • Darn. I was certain Jouke was just about to begin making sense.

    • MNb

      Yeah, for some reason “I say without God X is impossible and you can’t refute that” didn’t work.

  • Peter_J88

    Even from the outside the cognitive dissonance is hard to deal with… Im just going to get a glass of wine and forget I ever believed such bullshit.