Responding to “10 Myths About God” (3 of 3)

Responding to “10 Myths About God” (3 of 3) September 14, 2018

Let’s conclude our critique of a Christian ministry’s video series of ten myths about God (part 1).

Myth 7: People are basically good. The Bible says that we have an inherent dignity and that there’s good within us, and we’re created in the image of God. But the guys reject the idea that we’re good at heart. No, it’s like humans are infected with a virus. Our hosts wallow in descriptions of our corruption, depravity, and rebellion against God and in the hopelessness of our condition. (Color coding explained in part 1).

I’ll agree that people suck sometimes. We may not be much, but we’re all we’ve got.

But we start looking pretty good when you consider what mankind has done that God didn’t. We’ve ended slavery as an acceptable institution in the modern world, we feed billions of people with industrial agriculture, and we’ve improved the health of the world through vaccines, antibiotics, clean water, and so on. Human society is far from perfect, but it’s a lot better than the Old Testament society that God was responsible for.

Myth 8: All paths lead to God. Remember the story of the blind men and the elephant? Each one felt a different part, and each came to a different and incomplete understanding. This myth says that Jesus is like the elephant, and different cultures just describe him differently. But no, the video dismisses this and tells us that the message of Jesus is an exclusive one. “No one comes to the father but by me” (John 14:6).

To the idea that the sacrifice of Jesus would be called just one path of many, one host called this a slap in the face of the father. I disagree. I don’t see the slap since the “sacrifice” wasn’t really that big a deal.

We’re told that the other options are wrong but are given no reason to accept the Christian path over the others. Or why any supernatural claims are correct.

Let me sketch out the obvious natural explanation: life is scary, and our fragile, imperfect minds have cobbled religions together to help explain the things that go bump in the night. The answers offered by Christianity were okay when it was the only game in town, but it’s not anymore. Humanity has grown up, we have far better explanations, and it’s time to leave childhood superstitions behind.

Myth 9: I go to church, so I’m a Christian. Just like being in a barn doesn’t make you a horse, being in a church doesn’t make you a Christian. Don’t be like the Pharisees, who focused on the godly appearance.

They say that the church is about fellowship and relationship. It’s easy to understand the community among people in church, but isn’t it ironic that God isn’t as obvious? What does that tell us?

Myth 10: Satan is the opposite of God. The myth is that God and Satan are like yin and yang—equal and opposite forces, and we can only hold our breath, hoping that God wins in the end. It’s like comic books where the superhero is equally matched to the villain, and we’re on the edge of our seats until the last scene.

The truth, according to the video, is that this is actually the most boring and mismatched matchup ever. God could, in an instant, wipe out Satan’s works and even his existence. Imagining Satan defeating God is like imagining any of us defeating God. But since Satan has read the Bible, he knows how it all ends. Why then imagine that he’s sticking around to put up with the charade?

Yet again, I wonder if the boys have actually, y’know, read the Bible. For example, it wasn’t Satan in the Garden of Eden, it was a talking serpent. To imagine it was actually Satan in disguise is simply to map Christian thinking into a far older non-Christian story. The book of Revelation vaguely makes this Satan/serpent argument, but it’s simply stated without justification.

We see Satan in one of the Bible’s oldest books. In Job 1:6–12, Satan is “the adversary,” like a prosecuting attorney. Here, “Satan” is a title, not a name. Far from being God’s sworn enemy, Satan is God’s handyman or assistant. Satan tests God’s people to make sure that they are as stalwart as they appear.

Only later in the Bible do we see Satan or the devil as a bad character:

[Jesus said,] “Away from me, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10).

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

[The angel] seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2).

We can see the complex background from which our modern idea of Satan as a villain arose when we consider the many names and ideas that are often conflated: Satan, Lucifer, Leviathan, Belial, Beelzebub, the devil, the dragon, the serpent. That we do see Satan as evil in the New Testament only argues that the idea has evolved, something that happens in manmade literature, not in the unchanging plan of an omniscient creator.

Any being that wants to be worshipped
has shown itself to be unworthy of worship.
— commenter Without Malice

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 12/3/14.)

Photo credit: WSJ

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  • JustinL

    Years ago I was researching the biblical Satan for a script I was writing, only to discover there basically is no biblical Satan. Roughly 99% of everything society thinks about the Devil comes from pop culture, whether it’s Dante or the Exorcist.

    • epicurus

      I always find the idea of the devil and minions ruling in hell and torturing people there as a bit off, as the few references in the Bible indicate Satan will be in the same boat as every one else in the pit/lake of fire, etc.

      • Bob Jase

        Kinda also makes you wonder why the devil et al are allowed to screw with humanity as they do, almost as if they’ve been given permission by someone higher up.

        • epicurus

          As if we humans don’t have it tough enough with an inherited sinful nature that clouds our minds and makes us choose evil, we also have a super smart super powerful divine being running around trying to trick and deceive us. But apparently it’s our own fault if we wind up in hell.

        • Otto

          In 6th grade my teacher, a Nun, said that Satan can only do what God allows.

          I don’t really feel like she thought through the implications of that statement…it certainly stuck with me.

        • Since Satan has read Revelation and knows how it’s all going to turn out, why would he play the charade?

        • Bob Jase

          I’ve asked that of believers because I certainly wouldn’t play along. I’ve been told Satan has no choice but to do what Revelation says – so much for Satan having free will but then, how did he rebel?

          Just doesn’t not make sense.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Pride?

        • Would pride get you to undertake a project you knew for certain you’d fail at, humiliatingly?

          It makes it all sound like literature, not prophecy.

        • Probably out of spite knowing his fate is sealed (that idea is mine).

        • It still seems crazy to collaborate with your sworn enemy, to play a part in his charade that leads to your demise.

          (I’m pretending, of course, that the Christian idea of Satan being the bad guy is actually how he’s introduced in the Bible.)

        • True -the alternative to that is not pretty at all-, even if one assumes is acting in Kamikaze fashion wanting to take as many as he can with him. Looks like the problem of evil pop ups again.

          Did not say that idea had no faults, especially what you mention about causing your demise (why God does not know better that some people are born more gullible than others and punish them?. Same for Fundies’ threats to skeptics, when are plenty of reasons not to believe, said Fundies being among the most conspicious of said reasons)

        • Clement Agonistes

          Satan would be the very embodiment of evil. The Problem of Evil is that Satan would exist in the first place. Satan is a created being, created intentionally to serve a purpose.

          How do we persuade smokers to stop doing what they enjoy and save their lives? We talk about death, cancer, heart disease, and that nasty smell – all the negatives. Yet, if they live, they will eventually experience all of those anyway, right? We are able to predict with absolute certainty that this life will end, and probably badly. The demographic with the highest suicide rate is the elderly. Their health is bad today and it will be worse tomorrow. Death is a welcome friend. Life becomes a punishment at some point. Who in the world would punish us by forcing life on us without our permission? Who would dare to speak that truth to us?

        • Satan, evil? Not according to what we read in Job.

        • Clement Agonistes

          He is trying to drive a wedge between God and a godly man. He says Job’s godliness is actually evil; motivated by greed. This book would be the exception, and that is iffy. You are pointing to an exception that might not be an exception.

        • Greg G.

          Satan and God made a bet in Job. Satan could not do anything to Job without God’s permission.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Satan and God made a bet in Job. Satan could not do anything to Job without God’s permission.

          Agreed.

        • Susan

          He is trying to drive a wedge between God and a godly man.

          And Yahweh takes the bet.

          I’m sorry maybe by “God”, you mean a deist god because you don’t actually specify when you say “God”.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVgZqnsytJI

        • Nope. Say that “Satan” has changed through the years, but Job is clear that Satan is on God’s team. Satan thinks that Job is making a monkey out of God, smiling only because he gets the goodies, and he wants to make sure God is treated fairly.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Satan thinks that Job is making a monkey out of God, smiling only because he gets the goodies

          And that is different than saying, “Job’s godliness is actually evil; motivated by greed,“?

          Say that “Satan” has changed through the years, but Job is clear that Satan is on God’s team

          It’s not clear that is the case. To be sure, one can make the case that Satan is the “devil’s advocate” here, but he is also the “Adversary” (on the other team). Without question, he is lying about Job. He was stirring up trouble in the relationship between God and Man.

          As an aside, a major point of Job is that faithfulness to God is no guarantee of a cushy life – a part of your theology that proved God does not exist. I agreed with you that at least in this instance, you have plenty of Christians who also have to ignore Job (et.al.).

        • And that is different than saying, “Job’s godliness is actually evil; motivated by greed,”?

          Obviously.

          one can make the case that Satan is the “devil’s advocate” here, but he is also the “Adversary” (on the other team). Without question, he is lying about Job.

          Is this the powerful “Nuh uh!” argument?

          Read Job 1. Satan is God’s prosecuting attorney.

          As an aside, a major point of Job is that faithfulness to God is no guarantee of a cushy life – a part of your theology that proved God does not exist.

          You’ve lost me. What about proving God doesn’t exist . . . ?

        • Clement Agonistes

          And that is different than saying, “Job’s godliness is actually evil; motivated by greed,”?

          Obviously.

          If it were obvious, I wouldn’t have asked. Can you be more specific?

          Read Job 1. Satan is God’s prosecuting attorney.

          Which verse do you read that (into)? “Whatcha been up to, Satan?”
          “Nuthin’ much Just checking out the Earth.”
          “Hey, what do you think about Job – cool guy, huh?”
          “Hardly. He’s in it for the Benjamins [one of Jacob’s son’s, no doubt].”
          “Is not.”
          “Is too.”

          It doesn’t read like prosecutor, and it doesn’t say “attorney” (although we could assume it from him being the devil), or “prosecutor
          “. his name means “adversary” and “accuser”. An adversary is on the other team. An accuser . . . . accuses.

          As an aside, a major point of Job is that faithfulness to God is no guarantee of a cushy life – a part of your theology that proved God does not exist.

          You’ve lost me. What about proving God doesn’t exist . . . ?

          4. Why do bad things happen to good people? Shouldn’t good Christians get a break? Shouldn’t there be at least a little boost here on earth for backing the right religion? How about something tangible to prove that one’s faith is well placed? Rain falls on good people just like bad people. There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.”
          – You.

        • If it were obvious, I wouldn’t have asked. Can you be more specific?

          Apparently not.

          It doesn’t read like prosecutor

          Satan answers to Yahweh (or is it Elohim here?). You like to complicate things, don’t you? Satan answers to God.

          a major point of Job is that faithfulness to God is no guarantee of a cushy life – a part of your theology that proved God does not exist.

          Yes, I see that God can allow shit to happen to people in his camp. The rest of your sentence I didn’t understand.

          “4. Why do bad things happen to good people? Shouldn’t good Christians get a break? Shouldn’t there be at least a little boost here on earth for backing the right religion? How about something tangible to prove that one’s faith is well placed? Rain falls on good people just like bad people. There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.”
          – You.

          Yes. You’ll have to show me where the proof that God doesn’t exist comes in, because I’d sure like to know about that.

        • Clement Agonistes

          What a bizarre post. You can’t clarify the difference between Job wanting goodies and being greedy, a “prosecutor” is “one who answers to God”, and “There is no God” has nothing to do with God not existing.

          Suddenly, I miss Amos’ frankness in telling me to fuck off.

        • But at least your position is clear–this is apparently your coy way of saying, “You’re right.”

        • Clement Agonistes

          LOL. Well, I certainly agree you’re right that “Apparently not” . . . you can’t be more specific (without destroying your argument).

          When the quote I provided concluded specifically, “There is no God …”, you requested that I show you where the proof that God doesn’t exist comes in. At that point, I have to concede I’m being told to FO without being so blunt. An alternative is that you were drunk when you wrote it, which has its own charms as an explanation.

          You grasped that people might believe something about God, but couldn’t understand what a belief about the nature of God had to do with theology. I mean , . . . . . Dude.

        • I certainly agree you’re right that “Apparently not” . . . you can’t be more specific (without destroying your argument).

          My argument is fine, but thanks for your concern. I just don’t like busy work. I don’t know how I was unclear, so I don’t feel like spending much effort rewording the point about Job.

          When the quote I provided concluded specifically, “There is no God …”, you requested that I show you where the proof that God doesn’t exist comes in. At that point, I have to concede I’m being told to FO without being so blunt.

          Nope. I said “you’ve lost me” because that sentence read like gibberish.

          An alternative is that you were drunk when you wrote it, which has its own charms as an explanation.

          That’s adorable, but no, I’ve never been drunk.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t know how I was unclear, so I don’t feel like spending much effort rewording the point about Job.

          Your wording was, “Satan thinks that Job is making a monkey out of God, smiling only because he gets the goodies

          It was refuting my statement, “He [Satan] is trying to drive a wedge between God and a godly man. He says Job’s godliness is actually evil; motivated by greed.

          Your were arguing that I was wrong because Job was not greedy (in it for personal gain), but wanted goodies (personal gain).
          1. I don’t see a distinction between those, but you say it is “obvious”.
          2. I don’t see how any distinction affects the point that Satan was driving a wedge between God and Job. That which separates anyone from God is the very definition of sin; evil. Satan was doing evil. . . . . according to the book of Job.

        • Greg G.

          Psalm 109:1-6 (NRSV)1 Do not be silent, O God of my praise.2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,    speaking against me with lying tongues.3 They beset me with words of hate,    and attack me without cause.4 In return for my love they accuse me,    even while I make prayer for them.5 So they reward me evil for good,    and hatred for my love.6 They say, “Appoint a wicked man against him;    let an accuser stand on his right.

          The word translated as “accuser” is the word “satan” in Hebrew. This is not the Satan of Christian theology but the Satan in Job is playing the same role as the satan in this Psalm. “Satan” also appears in Zechariah 3 but again, it is more of an accuser, not the Christian Satan.

          It seems that they had an adversarial court system without lawyers, just an accusing witness and a defendant before a judge.

          Remember that God punished serpents in Genesis. If it was really Satan, then God owes serpents an apology. If God is that gullible, then Satan has blasphemed the Holy Ghost in a Clement Agonistes costume so you can forget about going to heaven.

        • Susan

          “Is not.” “Is too.”

          “Be as cruel as you like. I don’t care. Obedience to me is all that matters.

          Slay animals, servants, children. All of them. None of that matters to Yahweh. I can torture whatever I like. ‘Cause I’m fuckin’ Yahweh.”

          You don’t get to equate “evil” with being “unYahwehly”.

          Without showing your work.

          (Which you’ve never done.)

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t think yours is an accurate characterization of the conversation under discussion and represents yet another attempt to hijack the conversation (although, granted, Bob has already seen to it that it will go nowhere).

        • Susan

          Why do bad things happen to good people?

          Because we live on a planet where bad things happen all the time. Because we are fragile biological beings in a universe ruled by physics.

          There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.

          The evidence doesn’t point there.

          That’s in the article too, no?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your understanding of Bob’s article jibes with mine. Only Bob seems to be lost.

        • Susan

          Your understanding of Bob’s article jibes with mine.

          No. Bob’s very clear about there being no evidence that leads to “God”.

          You are claiming that he claims “There is no God:”.

          People have made this distinction (including Bob in his articles) for over a year now when engaging you.

          But you are intent on shifting the burden.

          So… meh.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your understanding of Bob’s article jibes with mine.

          No. Bob’s very clear about there being no evidence that leads to “God”.
          You are claiming that he claims “There is no God:”.

          My support for my claim was quoting him as saying, “There is no God“. He is lost by that. He doesn’t know how anyone could say that was his conclusion based on his theology that believers should have easier lives than non-believers was that there was no God.

          PREMISE 1: If God exists, then bad things should not happen to good (believing) people.
          PREMISE 2: Bad things happen to good people.

          CONCLUSION: Therefore God does not exist.

          I am challenging his claim by pointing out that PREMISE 1 is flawed, according to Job, because bad things happen to a good person AND God exists.

        • Greg G.

          PREMISE 1: If God exists, then bad things should not happen to good (believing) people.
          PREMISE 2: Bad things happen to good people.

          CONCLUSION: Therefore God does not exist.

          We have been through this many times. That is just a variation of:

          PREMISE 1: If an omnibenevolent being exists, then it would not allow a sentient being to suffer unnecessarily.
          PREMISE 2: If an omnipotence exists, then all suffering is unnecessary.
          PREMISE 3: Sentient beings do suffer.

          CONCLUSION: Therefore an omnibenevolent omnipotence does not exist.

        • epeeist

          We have been through this many times.

          As we have with just about everything else that Clement raises. Clement has a maximally great reset button.

          But you see the weasel words from the devious little cunt – “bad things should not happen to good (believing) people“. Why should it matter to an omnibenevolent entity whether people are good or whether they believe? Surely such an entity would surely not want anyone to suffer, it wouldn’t restrict its benevolence to a particular subset of people. If it did restrict its benevolence then it would not be omnibenevolent.

        • Greg G.

          “There is no God”

          If you are using the fictional account of Job to support your argument, here is a list of Bible verses that say “There is no god”.
          Deuteronomy 32:39 NIV
          2 Samuel 7:22 NIV
          1 Kings 8:23 NIV
          2 Kings 1:3 NKJV
          2 Kings 1:6 NIV
          2 Kings 1:16 NIV
          2 Kings 5:15 NIV
          1 Chronicles 17:20 NIV
          2 Chronicles 6:14 NIV
          Psalm 10:4 NASB
          Psalm 14:1 NIV
          Psalm 53:1 NIV
          Isaiah 44:6 NIV
          Isaiah 44:8 KJV
          Isaiah 45:5 NIV
          Isaiah 45:14 KJV
          Isaiah 45:21 KJV
          1 Corinthians 8:4 NIV

        • Clement Agonistes

          Wow! Data dump! How long have you been hanging on to that list waiting for an opportunity to use it?

          . . . . other than God.

          Do you think Bob is arguing for some other God? Come on, Greg, let’s keep it relevant. Let’s be genuine.

        • Greg G.

          It’s not a data dump, it is quote mining. It cuts both ways. Every one of those verses say “there is no god” in one or more translations.

          The existence of suffering shows that there is nothing that is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent, even with the weakest definitions. There is no being that is both sufficiently benevolent and sufficiently potent to prevent suffering either.

          I have known dogs that seem to have been omnibenevolent but they were not potent enough to make a huge difference in the universe. A being like that is nice to know, but why believe in them without evidence?

          There could be some omnipotent being but it is insufficiently benevolent to prevent suffering. It chooses that suffering should exist. Why would you trust something like that? Why would you even believe in something like that without evidence?

        • Clement Agonistes

          You’re “mining” in the sense that you are extracting the part you want and throwing away the part that doesn’t support your point.

          “There is no god . . . . . . . other than God.” is not what Bob is saying.

        • Greg G.

          There is no omnibenevolent omnipotence. If those are two attributes of your god thingy, then there is no god thingy. If your god thingy is not omnipotent, it is not God. If it is not omnibenevolent, it is not God. Why wouldn’t Bob say that? Why would you dispute it?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Are you changing the subject? What was all that business about presenting scriptural references?

        • Susan

          Are you changing the subject?

          No. Greg G. is not like you, Clement.,

          What was all that business about presenting scriptural references?

          He was showing you what your cherrypicking looks like to the rest of us.

          He was playing by your rules.

        • Greg G.

          The subject is “there is no god”. I gave you 17 Bible verses that have been translated to say the words “there is no god”. Would a god inspire a collection of writings that say that over and over?

          Then I reminded you of the argument that if God has the attributes of omnipotence and omnibenevolence, then there is no god because that concept is incompatible with the reality of suffering. That concept of a god thingy is even incompatible with the concept that suffering is just an illusion.

          Your god thingy cannot possible exist. Why continue the charade of arguing for it? At least invent one that is plausible.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, when God says “There is no god besides Me”, you interpret that as God saying He doesn’t exist? You have a unique interpretation.

          Let’s keep it real, Greg.

        • Greg G.

          God said nothing. That was a whole lotta people saying it. If there was a god inspiring that, would he inspire that phrase so many times? There’s another seven or eight in the Catholic Bible with the Apocrypha included, too.

        • Clement Agonistes

          If there was a god inspiring that, would he inspire that phrase so many times?

          You’ve been having conversations with Christians all these years and you still have to ask? Du-uh – He did (in our view), and He is infinitely wise, meaning He would do what was wise to do. Come on, Greg, get with the program here!

          Seriously, our premise is disproving (Judeo-Xian) God using the Bible. Massive chunks of the Bible are devoted to convincing Israel to be monotheistic. You shouldn’t decapitate “There is no God” from “… other than Me.”, if you want to understand what is being said.

          I keep thinking this is so obvious that I must be missing something from your argument. Your argument seems to be that Hebrews are inspired to say – over and over – that atheism is the proper route to go. That’s just too nuts to fit you. What am I missing?

        • Greg G.

          Of course the phrase is taken out of context. But why is it in the context? Over and over and over. If there was a god up there trying to inspire scripture, he would be beside himself saying, “Don’t word it that way!”

        • Clement Agonistes

          Why would any of us repeat certain phrases? Because the message was important, obviously.

        • Greg G.

          So, “there is no god” is obviously important. You should pay attention.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “There is no god, other than God.” I do.

          Weren’t you agreeing that you were taking the quotes out of context when you made this same argument earlier?

        • Greg G.

          That phrase is not repeated two dozen times, just the “there is no god” part.

        • Greg G.

          Bingo! That was the point. You were taking “There is no god” as Bob saying it when he was pointing out that a particular argument said it. I used that exercise to show how things can be taken out of context to make it look like someone is saying what they are not. I even stated that it was quotemining. Creationists often quote Darwin saying something about the evolution of the eye when he is simply stating what his opponents would argue before he presents his argument. That is the classic quotemine.

          But you wanted to argue about it so I obliged.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It took you a long time to get around to making a rather tame point. But, OK:

          I quoted directly from Bob’s article, providing the accompanying context. You edited out the relevant part that completely changed the meaning. These aren’t analogous.

          Bob’s challenge to me was to show where he had said there is no God because bad things happen to good people. That “particular argument said it.” I quoted him presenting the argument and the conclusion in context. I continue to be baffled at why you guys argue against your own arguments. It’s like a knee-jerk thing to instantly get defensive. I had expected Bob would embrace his argument with pride. I did not expect or want an argument on such an obviously true observation.

        • Greg G.

          I butted in where you quoted Bob as saying “There is no God.” (You put it in italics.) See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/09/responding-to-10-myths-about-god-3-of-3-2/#comment-4109938304 .

          It took you a long time to get around to making a rather tame point.

          I made the point in my first post in this subthread. It took you a week to get it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Yeah, things aren’t operating like a well-oiled machine here, lately. Did you see the post where I quoted #4 from his article in which he stated that the reason bad things happen to good people (Christians) was because there was no God?

        • Greg G.

          Yes, that one is four posts above your post that I replied to and linked above. That one plus the one I replied to is why I posted the verses with “there is no god” in them. You took the phrase out of context. The complete sentence makes one particular claim. It is like, “There is no God of Electronics in the ancient Greek Pantheon.” If you are going to quotemine the first four words, you have no justification to complain about the citing of all those Bible verses that use the exact same phrase.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Here is the quote. Show me the quote mining. Show me how I am taking him out of context. Show me how there are only 4 words in this paragraph.

          “4. Why do bad things happen to good people? Shouldn’t good Christians get a break? Shouldn’t there be at least a little boost here on earth for backing the right religion? How about something tangible to prove that one’s faith is well placed? Rain falls on good people just like bad people. There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.”

        • Greg G.

          There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.

          Everything after “God” specifies a particular kind of god. It’s like “There is no God of Electronics in the ancient Greek Pantheon.” It does not deny other types of god thingies. It is not saying, “There is no God who feeds the monkeys. There could be a God who feeds the monkeys (to the lions).

          You ignore the phrase that is specific to make it a general statement.

        • Clement Agonistes

          OK, I think you’re messing with me now, right? If you are and I call you on it, you have to ‘fess up.

          Bob was clearly discussing the God of the Bible – the God of everything – electronics, monkeys, and balanced luck. The reason, said Bob, that bad things happen to Christians is because there is no God . . . . . . period.

          Argument #4 did not overlap with any of the other arguments. Since Christians are backing the right religion, God would, of course, give them at least a little boost (good stuff). Rain falls on Christians just like it does non-Christians. If God rewards Christians for being right, then less-than-optimal rain should fall on non-Christians (Bob didn’t specify whether rain was a good thing or a bad).

          This isn’t like you to make such an absurd argument. Therefore, you must be messing with me.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You did not make the point that I was taking anything out of context until 2 posts ago, like #12 in the series. The post you cite did not make that point.

        • Susan

          You’re “mining” in the sense that you are extracting the part you want and throwing away the part that doesn’t support your point.

          Bingo.

          “There is no god……other than God.” is not what Bob is saying.

          Define your terms.

        • Susan

          PREMISE 1: If God exists, then bad things should not happen to good (believing) people.
          PREMISE 2: Bad things happen to good people.

          CONCLUSION: Therefore God does not exist.

          There are plenty of people who claim that “God” is someone who intervenes and protects.

          On that claim, there is no evidence to support it.

          I asked you what you claimed and how you support it in order not to strawman you.

          You continue to dodge that but continue to use the word “God”.

          It appears that whatever “God” you’re talking about has no evidence to support it either or you would have answered that basic question.

          Instead we have to play your “There’s an immaterial fire-breathing dragon living in my garage” game.

          Can you define what you mean by “God” in such a way that you can support the claim?

          You tried it with cosmology and failed.

          With physics and failed.

          With logic and failed.

          With morality and failed.

          You don’t have any case at all, do you? .

          You have set a high bar indeed for methodological naturalism.

          And no bar for yourself and your fellow leprechaun believers.

        • Sample1

          The other day in the span of 12hrs we had a GSW, a dead 9wk old, and a limb amputation from explosion. All three resulted from freak accidents.

          Yes. Bad things happen to otherwise good people. The devils learn new evils with advancing technology apparently. Like we can graph this shit.

          Mike

        • Sample1

          The “balance” comes from one’s reaction to tragedy. For limb loss, his wife flew by helicopter to meet him at the airport for medevac. Her love is more important than an arm. The GSW will recover with the aid of strangers helping him. The baby, well, there is no balance for that. It will haunt the parents forever.

          But suffering is a virtue, a damn near fetish, for certain religions and by extension, their gods. So, yippie?

          No. A god makes it worse. But, well, humans find ways to cope even if it means surrendering their humanity to, wait for it, ultimately other humans wearing important hats.

          Mike

        • Sample1

          Update:

          They reattached his pour-a-blenderfull-of-steak-and-bones-on-a plate arm. He can move his fingers.

          Please hold off on the regrowing-a-limb™ prayers, science to the rescue.

          Mike

        • Clement Agonistes

          By all means, let’s personify him. Your premise is that whatever makes sense to us would make sense to the devil. I’m on board with that idea. Can we point to any instances in human history – heck, our own individual histories – when pride has brought on destruction? Is there enough paper on which to write the list we are about to construct? Are there enough electrons to do it electronically? Is there enough time left in our lives to complete the list?

          The first example that always pops into my mind is the Japanese at the end of WW II. Not only will I directly cause my demise, I will attempt to take as many of the enemy with me as possible. Barring that, I will stab myself in such a way as to make my death slow and painful. I don’t think the kamikaze (or those in the banzai charge) viewed what they did as “collaborating” with their sworn enemy.

        • I don’t think the kamikaze (or those in the banzai charge) viewed what they did as “collaborating” with their sworn enemy.

          Nor do I. I wonder then why you brought it up as an example.

          This isn’t what we’re talking about.

        • Clement Agonistes

          My apology for misunderstanding. I probably misunderstood Alec, as well. Whose fate was sealed? Whose demise were you referring to and who is the sworn enemy/crazy one collaborating? I note Alec also mentioned “kamikaze” in his reply to your post. Can you clarify?

        • See the Book of Revelation. According to it he’s gonna be sent to the Lake of Fire to be tormented for all eternity like so many people deceived by him using the Fundie logic, which causes the logic of Hell to be even more less understarable -two hells, the first one the current one where Satan rules and the second said Lake of Fire?.-

          The sworn enemy is God himself -see the book of Job as others have stated and remember that in the OT Lucifer -just one reference- is known to refer to a Babylonian king, the Snake originally has nothing to see with Satan and that identification came later, and what some consider “demons” were actually other deities venerated in place of Yahweh or in close places (Baal, Asherah/Astoreth, etc). Even one could interpret Jesus’ meeting with Satan in the desert as this working in a similar role, as the latter does not attempt to smite the former or vice-versa-, and as for “kamikaze”, etc. is what you mention above -by the Fundie logic, as he knows is defeated is trying to cause the most damage he can as long as he can-

        • Clement Agonistes

          See the Book of Revelation. According to it he’s gonna be sent to the Lake of Fire to be tormented for all eternity

          Hell, itself, will be thrown into that Lake of Fire and cease to exist. A quality of fire is that it consumes what is thrown into it. That said, I applaud you if you can understand Revelation – many of the finest minds humanity has produced have been stymied by that one.

          The sworn enemy is God himself

          OK, good, that was my understanding also.

          as for “kamikaze”, etc. is what you mention above -by the Fundie logic, as he knows is defeated is trying to cause the most damage he can as long as he can

          Good – I at least understood what you were trying to say. The motivation for Japanese suicide was pride . . . . after defeat was guaranteed. For Trekkies, Khan’s famous quote of Milton was, “Better to rule in Hell than to serve in heaven.” C.S. Lewis pegged pride as being at the core of many other sins. I’ve seen a number of atheists say that if they meet God, they’ll (basically) shoot Him the finger rather than worship him for one moment, much less eternity. surely, as humans, we get Pride.

        • Yes, you’re right and I missed that part. The book says that Death and Hell will be thrown there. That said, that part of the Bible is so trippy and full of symbolism (and schadenfreude, if people knew God was sending all those plagues it’s more likely there’d be a lot of conversions instead of blaspheming him as happens there), that is easy to obtain a mess or worse, and not just because interpreted literally some parts do not make sense (as in the part of stars falling to Earth because they were hit by the dragon’s tail).

          Then are the views of some dispensationalists (John MacArthur comes to mind), who identify the dragon with Russia and its Arab allies and the Sun-clothed woman as Israel and even include the book of Daniel in the mix but that’s another history.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I am totally with you when it comes to trying to make sense out of Revelation. Without going too go deep into the weeds, do we at least grasp how pride can control us to the point of self-destruction? Both of us used the analogy of the Japanese at the end of WW II. The Emperor had to record the surrender radio message in secret because of the pride of suicidal officers who wanted to go down fighting even if it meant the total destruction of Japan. Many did commit suicide rather than swallow their pride. Pride trumps personal security. If we see this in human experience, we can relate to it. It may not be THE explanation, but it’s plausible.

        • And abuse of power,knowing the way it corrupts.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Interesting observation!

        • (I’m replying late because Disqus just now gave me the email notification of your comment. Weird.)

          Somehow you’re confused. I don’t know how. But let’s go back to this comment of yours:

          Your premise is that whatever makes sense to us would make sense to the devil. I’m on board with that idea. Can we point to any instances in human history – heck, our own individual histories – when pride has brought on destruction?

          Yes, we can find personal examples of pride causing our destruction; no, that’s not what we’re talking about with Satan.

          He’s read the book! It’s like he’s an actor, and he’s read the script. For him to be an actor, knowing it’s not real, is one thing, and apparently this is how you see Satan. But no one would do this if it weren’t a play. According to the script of Revelation, God, the director, is going to say, “OK, Satan, for this next scene, you do X, and then I torture you for a thousand years.” Only this isn’t a play, it’s real.

          Who would do that?

        • Greg G.

          (I’m replying late because Disqus just now gave me the email notification of your comment. Weird.)

          I got about a half dozen from last Wednesday today, too. I think I had replied to them already when they appeared in Recent Comments or the open page after posting.

        • Clement Agonistes

          If you knew – with absolute certainty – that God existed, would you be saying the things you say? The contention has been that if only God would prove Himself to you, then you would believe . . . . . and that would change everything. Satan would have absolute certainty that God exists. He would know all of the attributes of God. Yet, he chooses to rebel.

          “Who would do that?” THIS GUY! We already know who he is before the book is ever written. He chose his path long before then.

        • If you knew – with absolute certainty – that God existed, would you be saying the things you say?

          You mean all the things about God not existing? Uh, no.

          The contention has been that if only God would prove Himself to you, then you would believe

          Correct, Mr. Tautology.

          Satan would have absolute certainty that God exists.

          Satan already knows with absolute certainty! Read Job.

          Let me re-repeat the obvious interpretation that makes sense of all of this: the Bible is a hodge podge of books written by humans and potentially inspired by many things, all of them natural. Satan in Job is God’s PA. His handyman. His Mr. Fix-it.

          But by the time Revelation comes around maybe a millennium later, “the devil” is quite different. Hardly surprising—that’s what mythology and legend do.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The original question was why Satan (even if we treat him as a fictional character) would do what he does, knowing that it dooms him. I threw out the explanation of pride. He knew exactly what he was doing and exactly what the consequences were long before Revelation would have wised him up. Apparently, we – now – agree on this.

          In Job, Satan is already seen driving a wedge between Man and God. This is on par with the original fall of Adam (starring . . . Satan). God rebukes Satan in Job. This doesn’t happen to other angels. I’ll grant that God must have a purpose for evil for it to exist in the first place. We’ve discussed this elsewhere. So, yeah, in that technical sense, Satan serves a purpose for God. He is breaking things – relationships), not fixing them. He is lying. . . . to a being who knows everything.

          Even if we treat Satan as a literary construct, personifying our own flawed nature, we still run up against the same problem. We also have sufficient information to know God exists. We also rebel. Our pride also separates us from God. We also try to separate others from God.

        • The original question was why Satan (even if we treat him as a fictional character) would do what he does, knowing that it dooms him. I threw out the explanation of pride. He knew exactly what he was doing and exactly what the consequences were long before Revelation would have wised him up. Apparently, we – now – agree on this.

          I doubt that we agree. I have no idea what emotion would compel someone to act out as the loyal soldier in his enemy’s play. Is he still the original Satan, the guy eager to do God’s bidding? Pride doesn’t explain anything.

          The obvious explanation is that it’s literature.

          He is lying. . . . to a being who knows everything.

          (1) God doesn’t know everything. Ever read the Bible? Remember how God had to send scouts down to Sodom to check out the rumors he’d heard?

          Are you actually well read in the Bible, but you’re just seeing if you can score some free points due to my ignorance?

          (2) How is Satan lying? He’s simply exploring a possibility that Job is being a lapdog only to get goodies.

          Even if we treat Satan as a literary construct, personifying our own flawed nature, we still run up against the same problem.

          Uh, no, that pretty much solves all the problems. You just need to keep in mind that “Satan” has evolved over the years, just like Santa Claus.

          We also have sufficient information to know God exists.

          Yeah? Show me. I must confess that I’ve completely missed it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I have no idea what emotion would compel someone to act out as the loyal soldier in his enemy’s play.

          Two of us mentioned Japanese suicide attacks as analogies in order to point to pride as a compelling motivation. I pointed out that there are atheists who say they will give God a tongue-lashing and flip Him the bird if they meet Him. Pride, anger, jealousy – all compel people to do what Satan is doing.

        • And it has been gently explained to you that Japanese suicide attacks were trying to have an impact on the enemy. Satan has no such hope.

          Yet again, the natural explanation (Satan in the Bible is a literary figure) wins. Are you avoiding that because it makes your argument look weak?

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Explaining”, even gently so, does not make your claim true. Here’s how Wikipedia describes them (relevant points in bold):

          These attacks, which began in October 1944, followed several critical
          military defeats for the Japanese. They had long since lost aerial
          dominance
          as a result of having outdated aircraft and enduring the loss
          of experienced pilots. Japan suffered from a diminishing capacity for
          war and a rapidly declining industrial capacity

          relative to that of the Allies. Japan was also losing pilots faster
          than it could train their replacements
          . These combined factors, along
          with Japan’s unwillingness to surrender, led to the use of kamikaze tactics as Allied forces advanced towards the Japanese home islands.

          On a number of islands, when the cause was lost, they used the suicidal banzai charge just to try to take a few more allies with them. Satan’s pride won’t allow surrender. He is trying to take as many people away from God as he can during his remaining time. if we can understand it in ourselves, we can understand it in Satan.

          I mentioned Satan as a possible literary figure. I’m not avoiding it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Humiliatingly”? God loves each and every human beyond measure. We are God’s beloved children.. Hurt me and it is no big accomplishment. Hurt my children, and it is a pain without a name. He’s taking billions of God’s most beloved away. Your own adult children have thought deeply about it and said that they hate your guts and are repulsed by you. Satan has hurt his enemy beyond calculating. “Failure” is in the eye of the beholder.

        • Susan

          God loves each and every human being beyond measure.

          In your imagination.

          For over a year, you’ve refused to even define what you mean by “God”, let alone support its existence.

          Now, you are making claims about it.

          Also, any agent that tortures earthlings to death for hundreds of millions of years (including humans, including massive numbers of humans under the age of five) when it’s supposed to have created the whole thing out of metaphysical nothingness is a sociopath.

          As it all appears to be just another myth (and you’ve provided nothing to separate it from being another myth), then your claims that it “loves” are ridiculous.

        • Clement Agonistes

          For over a year, you’ve refused to even define what you mean by “God”, let alone support its existence.

          I went through that exercise with you, and it was just chasing after a rabbit – the Endless Questions, remember? The fact that you would even say that I “refused” shows how pointless trying to satisfy this evasion is. Either your memory or your sincerity is so bad that we can’t go forward.

        • Susan

          I went through that exercise with you.

          No.

          the Endless Questions, remember?

          No. You accused me of asking endless questions because I asked what you were claiming and how you support it.

          You avoided answering and accused me of things I didn’t do.

          Either your memory or your sincerity is so bad that we can’t go forward.

          Rather than blow up another warehouse of irony metres, you could just define “God” and support it for anyone new to this conversation.

          Come on, Clement. Give it a try.

        • Clement Agonistes

          the Endless Questions, remember?

          No. You accused me of asking endless questions because I asked what you were claiming and how you support it.

          I went through a list of attributes that define God. After about half-a-dozen answered questions later, it became obvious that you were not sincere and there was no end to the new questions. So, your first question was answered, contrary to your assertion here [sound of irony meter exploding].

        • Susan

          I went through a list of attributes that define God. After about half-a-dozen answered questions later, it became obvious that you were not sincere and there was no end to the new questions.

          No. That’s not what happened.

          I’ll note, for the record here, that you’ve been here over a year and keep dodging requests that you define the term you continue to use and to support it.

          There is no record of you having done that. If you have one, provide it. If you haven’t, it’s not too late. Define your term and support it.

          So, your first question was answered.

          Because you say so? No.

          {sound of irony meter exploding}

          What a familiar sound that must be for you. You explode so many of them.

        • Clement Agonistes

          No. That’s not what happened.

          Great, then present your case – tell me your recollection of what happened.

          I’ll note, for the record here, that you’ve been here over a year and keep dodging requests that you define the term you continue to use and to support it.

          The key weasel words there were the last 4 – “…and to support it.” I presented my definition, and that wasn’t sufficient for you. You needed “support” . . . . with the caveat that you have the final says as to whether it is really support or not. SPOILER ALERT: You don’t think it is.

          Therefore, you feel you are justified in saying the question has never been answered. Typically, I will spend several weeks of quoting where the questions was answered before you grudgingly admit that it was answered, but [blah, blah, blah] and I am a liar even though what I said was true. Been there, done that. I’m not into that kind of disingenuous game-playing.

          And, no doubt, this is where the “burden shifting” game comes in as well. My “burden” is to convince you, because . . . . . . well, just because. You really don’t need logical reasons because the burden is on me.

          Get a new shtick.

        • Otto

          Since you are the one claiming there is a God and you claim God has specific attributes…yes the burden is on you.

        • Clement Agonistes

          . . . . if I am going to convince you that my claim is valid.

        • Otto

          You don’t care about supporting your position.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Not if the only point would be convincing Susan of, well, anything that she doesn’t want to believe is true (if I know her like I think I do). I’m already satisfied with the support for my position, so it doesn’t do me any good.

          Now, if you or someone else wants to discuss it just for the enjoyment and stimulation of good conversation, that is a different topic. As you and I have already found, even that has its limitations (one of those being heavy lifting on both sides).

        • Otto

          If you are already satisfied with your position why waste your time here? You aren’t interested in an honest discussion as you repeatedly demonstrate.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The premise or your 2nd sentence is wrong. I stated as much in my 2nd paragraph. It wouldn’t be a waste of time if there is good conversation. In terms of good conversation, there isn’t much to be found in Susan, but there is a level of enjoyment there.

        • Otto

          I have disabused myself that you are here for a good conversation. You say you are not here to be persuaded because you have made up your mind, it is obvious you are not here to try and understand our point of view, that pretty much just leaves you looking to be a troll.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your conclusions are unwarranted. I said I was “satisfied” that support for my position exists, not that my mind was closed. There IS support for the opposing position, as well. Each of us put differing amounts of weigh on various aspects of support. You don’t recognize what I consider to be evidence as evidence. i understand your POV far better than you understand mine. i can argue the atheist view persuasively without perverting its arguments. it’s a rare day when I can find an atheist capable of doing the same for the theist view.

          In the absence of a good partner for conversation, yeah, it does feel like trolling sometimes.

        • Otto

          >>>”i can argue the atheist view persuasively without perverting its arguments. ”

          That would seem to mean that all those times you pervert what is said to you is intentional. IOW troll behavior.

          >>>” i understand your POV far better than you understand mine. ”

          Not even close.

          >>>”In the absence of a good partner for conversation, yeah, it does feel like trolling sometimes.”

          I seriously put my best foot forward and made more than an honest attempt with you and you pissed all over it.

        • Susan

          convincing Susan of, well, anything that she doesn’t want to believe is true

          And again, you accuse me of unsavoury motives without warrant.

          This falls under the “Go fuck yourself” clause.

          The facts are that you have done nothing to support your position.

          You have strawmanned, burden-shifted, lied, weaselled and hit the Reset Button. Nothing but.

          Oh, except for flinging baseless insults when that didn’t work.

          for the enjoyment of good conversation

          Doing nothing but what is listed above does not constitute anything even remotely resembling good conversation.

          GFY.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I did not question your motives, Susan. In fact, I have always presumed your beliefs were sincerely and deeply held.

        • Susan

          I did not question your motives, Susan.

          Of course you did. You have done it repeatedly in your time here.

          You implied that I can’t be convinced of anything that I don’t want to believe is true.

          When you said:

          Not if the only point would be convincing Susan of, well, anything that she doesn’t want to believe is true (if I know her like I think I do).

          The problem is not whether of not I want to be convinced. The problem is that you have nothing but evasive dodging, strawmanning and ignorance. That’s all you’ve ;provided since you got here.

          I don’t know how you sleep at night.

          I have always presumed your beliefs were sincerely and deeply held

          What beliefs would those be Clement?

          That you’re a compulsive liar for Jesus? Sincerity isn’t the issue in that case. The evidence is there in your comment history.

          I didn’t begin with that belief. The evidence became overwhelming over time.

          And here you are, still trying to pretend that not believing you is a “belief”.

          GFY

        • Clement Agonistes

          I did not question your motives, Susan.

          Of course you did. You have done it repeatedly in your time here.
          You implied that I can’t be convinced of anything that I don’t want to believe is true.
          When you said:

          Not if the only point would be convincing Susan of, well, anything that she doesn’t want to believe is true (if I know her like I think I do).

          The problem is not whether of not I want to be convinced.

          So, what is the motive behind that behavior? Shall I define “motive” for you? I stated that I have always assumed you were sincere in your stated belief that there is no God. Your motivation that explains your behavior would be this sincere belief. I have never questioned this motive. Your tactics – YES; your motives – no.

        • Susan

          I stated that I have always assumed you were sincere in your stated belief that there is no God.

          I have never made such a statement.

          And you have been corrected on this so many times that there is no option left but to call you a liar.

          It’s a strawman, Clement. I don’t have to disprove what seem to be imaginary beings. I made no claim that “there is no God”.

          Your tactics-YES; your motives-no.

          GFY

        • epeeist

          And you have been corrected on this so many times that there is no option left but to call you a liar.

          His ability to misconstrue almost everything that is said to him leads to the a limited number of conclusions:

          1. He deliberately does this, in which case he really is a fucking lying cunt and troll.

          2. He is so stupid that he is unable to understand the majority of thing that are said to him

        • Clement Agonistes

          I have never made such a statement.

          “Elephant? What elephant? There is no elephant in the room.”

        • Susan

          There is no elephant in the room.

          No.

          No elephants.

          Just a big, fat lying troll.

        • Sample1

          Not if the only point would be convincing Susan of, well, anything that she doesn’t want to believe is true (if I know her like I think I do). -Clement Agonistes

          I don’t think you know Susan at all. For instance, she sees natural selection as abhorrently brutal and would rather not accept it as true. But that would cause painful cognitive dissonance. Science protectors are living martyrs.

          But more to the point, how would you go about convincing her that it wasn’t true? If you cannot do that convincingly in this century, does that reflect poorly on Susan or something else that is perhaps powerless and/or deficient?

          Now, if you mistakenly wrote the blocked quote above then that’s fine. Forget everything I wrote.

          Mike
          Edit done (removed an unseen paste).

        • Clement Agonistes

          For instance, she sees natural selection as abhorrently brutal and would rather not accept it as true. But that would cause painful cognitive dissonance. Science protectors are living martyrs.

          So, even though there is a price to pay for believing what she believes to be true, she is willing to pay that price. She cannot be persuaded that it is not true even if there were a reward for changing her mind. No matter how good the opposing argument is, she KNOWS what the truth is, and knows that the opposing argument is not true. She knows this is true with such conviction that she martyrs herself for the faith that she has in its truth.

          We agree.

        • Sample1

          You are wrong for the right reasons so yes, of course you’d agree.

          There is no cognitive dissonance for her hence no pain and no price there.

          The price of being a living martyr, on the other hand, is always honestly trying to find new analogies to explain reality to the scientifically illiterate. I’m sure you’ve experienced that because you use science all the time and have had to explain things to other people or at a minimum to yourself.

          You see, religion and faith are at the service of science. This is true even if some religious and faith claims are error ridden, like every theistic explanation for evolution to date.

          Mike

        • Clement Agonistes

          There is no cognitive dissonance for her hence no pain and no price there.

          He stipulated that she would “rather not accept it as true”, choosing the harder path rather than the easy one. He also described here as a “martyr”, meaning there is sacrifice (death, in the strictest definition). Your definition of martyr would be a wild exaggeration on the low side. I have never considered myself a martyr in any sense of the word.

          What I see on both sides of the argument are tribal identification and defense, biased thinking, moralism, elitism, and rampant emotions. Bob has written articles discussing these, but has a tough time recognizing these all-too human traits in his own tribe. The challenge to the higher parts of our brains is to overcome our nature, and it is a struggle we are going to lose the vast majority of the time. We are trapped on run-away elephants, deluding ourselves that we are the ones in control.

          I think at some level, we are all aware that we are not in control, and desire something trustworthy to be in control, such as God or Science.

        • Sample1

          Welcome to the human condition.

          We are trapped on run-away elephants deluding ourselves that we are the ones in control.

          That’s a pretty good line.

          Mike

        • Clement Agonistes

          It ought to be – Jonathan Haidt (the guy I stole it from) is an intelligent fellow.

        • Sample1

          That he is. Thank you for giving due credit for the phrase.

          You may appreciate the short discussion (Reality Club Discussion) that follows the article Pondering Haidt’s Hypothesis. Steven Pinker acknowledges Haidt’s moral theory as indispensable for understanding conservatism’s adoption of historical and current liberal trends.

          Enjoy: https://www.edge.org/conversation/jonathan_haidt-pondering-haidts-hypothesis

          Mike

        • Clement Agonistes

          I read that and it was interesting. It presented a quote that I read as being from Haidt saying that people vote for Republicans for emotional reasons, and Democrats don’t earn votes because they appeal to reason. A week or so ago, I was (trying to – it was unwatchable) watching a debate between Ted Cruz and Robert O’Rourke. It was just the opposite of what Haidt is describing, with O’Rourke speaking fast, high-pitched, and in emotional, moral terms. Either O’Rourke has read Haidt’s stuff, or he is an exception to Haidt’s theory.

          It’s always disappointing when someone’s main argument is that the other side is illogical, and I am the home of Reason. It may well be true, but the facts speak for themselves. If your only argument is that the other person is irrational, there is no way you are going to persuade them of that (since they are irrational) or, you are the irrational one, and you won’t have the ability to detect it in yourself. Either way, if it is your only argument, it is pointless. I wouldn’t expect it from him. That’s disappointing.

        • Sample1

          I read that and it was interesting.

          Good to hear.

          I was (trying to – it was unwatchable) watching a debate between Ted Cruz and Robert O’Rourke

          I watched it. Meh.

          I wouldn’t expect it from him.

          A correct conclusion.

          Mike

        • Susan

          Great, then present your case – tell me your recollection of what happened.

          I have and did repeatedly. If you have somewhere provided a coherent definition of God, you can link to it. If you can’t, then you can provide one here.

          The record doesn’t show you doing anything of the sort.

          weasel words

          You’ve got to be kidding. Asking someone to support a claim is using weasel words?

          My “burden” is to convince you

          Your burden is to support your claim, whatever it is. This has nothing to do with me.

          As it is, all you have provided is fallacious reasoning that undermines any claim you might wish to make and insults when people call you out on it.

        • epeeist

          If you have somewhere provided a coherent definition of God, you can link to it. If you can’t, then you can provide one here.

          The record doesn’t show you doing anything of the sort.

          There is of course a reason for this:

          Why are most believers so reluctant to specify the meanings of the religious propositions they cherish? There are at least three reasons. First there is security in obscurity. Precision invites refutation.

          Secondly, many religious propositions, including almost all statements about God, are not reducible to any one meaning but essentially ambiguous. The believer feels that the original proposition is more profound than any translation he could ever hope to furnish: there is somehow more to it-namely, though he is not likely to think of it in these words, an indefinite number of other possible interpretations.

          The third point is intimately connected with this ambiguity. The believer senses, however dimly, that previous generations, and even other believers today, associate widely different meanings with the same propositions. What determines his acceptance of religious propositions is not primarily their peculiar adequacy to his own intentions and ideas but a desire for continuity. As soon
          as a particular translation of a religious proposition is accepted as completely adequate, the continuity both with past generations and with one’s own disappears.

          Walter Kaufman – Critique of Religion and Philosophy

        • Pofarmer

          You’re more of a philosophy guy. You may or may not be interested in the discussion here. Tommy and I have kind of started at the very beginning. I’ll let Tommy have it for a while, probably.

          https://structureoftruth.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/the-incoherence-of-theism-i/

        • epeeist

          I made a comment, it is in moderation. Briefly, a perfect entity is unable to act since to do so would be a move away from perfection.

        • Right. Why would a god create the universe? If existence without it was imperfect, he would’ve already done so. And if it was already perfect, he would never have done so. Therefore, there could never be a point where he decided to create our universe.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ll assume that you noticed the same thing I did in his response to Tommy. He simply defines whatever he needs into his God, and then basically pretends he can read God’s mind.

        • epeeist

          Isn’t that called the “Backfire effect”?

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno. It almost seems like he’s violating a version of Occham’s razor, by giving his deity more and more qualities to make his theology work.

        • epeeist

          It almost seems like he’s violating a version of Occham’s razor, by giving his deity more and more qualities to make his theology work.

          Agreed, and I think this is an aspect of the backfire effect kicking in, ad hoc rationalisation in order to protect a position.

          I occasionally wonder in this kind of circumstance whether we are opening a chink, however small. A realisation on the part of the theist that their original arguments were weak at best and that being forced into new rationalisations makes it even weaker.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah. I dunno. I don’t want to badger him, and Tommy made basically the point that I was wanting to make. If something is perfect, why would it create in the first place? All the answers the theist gives look like “Just ‘Cause.” Which brings me to something I’ve been thinking. The Christian positions is God existed in perfect infinity before creation and finally created because “glory” or whatever. What if God actually existed in infinite anguish or imperfection and actually created out of desperate loneliness, or a desperate need for perfection, even though he knew his creation would be radically imperfect? Why is that any less compelling that the standard theist reasoning?

        • Bob Jase

          It took god the first half of infinity to realize that perfect is boring. God knows everything but is a slow learner.

        • Greg G.

          He and his Father are one. He says it, God believes it, that settles it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Great, then present your case – tell me your recollection of what happened.

          I have and did repeatedly. If you have somewhere provided a coherent definition of God,

          I did so repeatedly. LOL.

          weasel words

          You’ve got to be kidding. Asking someone to support a claim is using weasel words?

          Knowing that you have built-in subjective modifiers like “coherent” that you know in advance will not satisfy you is disingenuous. You rejected the dictionary definition. I offered you the opportunity to pick any definition you wanted so we could discuss it. You declined because your goal was to avoid discussing it. Weasel words are just a tool to kill discussion.

        • Susan

          Knowing that you have built-in subjective modifiers like “coherent” that you know in advance will not satisfy you is disingenuous.

          Asking someone what they are claiming and how they support it is not even close to “know(ing) in advance that (their answers) will not satisfy me.

          I offered you the opportunity to pick any definition you wanted so we could discuss it.

          That’s not how it works, Clement. This has been explained to you countless times but you stick your fingers in your ears and use your toes to step on the reset button.

          If you want to discuss “God”, then define it. If it doesn’t make sense, people will ask you questions. Not because they have made their minds up ahead of time but because what you say doesn’t make sense.

          This is basic, basic stuff.

          You declined because your goal was to avoid discussing it.

          No. You evade because you can’t support it.

          a tool to kill discussion

          You would like us to discuss an apparently imaginary agent as though it existed and as though you know something about what it wants.

          That discussion is dead on its feet if you can’t do better.

          I don’t have to kill anything.

          You are a dishonest interlocutor.

          One by one, people have given up in disgust.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Asking someone what they are claiming and how they support it is not
          even close to “know(ing) in advance that (their answers) will not
          satisfy me

          And yet, . . . . . 100% of the time you are not satisfied that the support is really support – a perfect correlation.

          If you want to discuss “God”, then define it. If it doesn’t make sense, people will ask you questions.

          I offered the dictionary definition – the very epitome of a coherent, objective meaning that make sense. Yet, . . . . 0% of the time it will make sense to you. I invite you – if you want to discuss it – to shop for a definition that does make sense to you. Yet, 100% of the time you refuse.

          You have a genuine, sincere conviction that god does not exist. It does not make sense to you that god could exist. How can you discuss something that does not exist?

          Well, that’s kind of what Bob does. He discussed it in the hypothetical sense. He grants the premise conditionally, then, he argues that the hypothetical does not satisfy the conditions.

        • Susan

          100% of the time you are not satisfied that the support is really support – a perfect correlation.

          I lost track of how many times I asked you to show that there was a logical connection between Yahwehjesus or even a a deist god and morality.

          You didn’t respond once. Not once.

          That is only the latest subject on which you have ignored your burden.

          Your schtick is to pretend people haven’t answered your questions a thousand times.

          And also to pretend that you’ve answered questions that have been asked a thousand times when you have never even tried to answer.

          Hey Clement. Show a logical connection between any sort of god and morality.

          (I’m going to guess you (once again) won’t answer the question.)

          But hey, prove me wrong. This one time.

        • “Humiliatingly”? God loves each and every human beyond measure.

          That’s nice, but we were talking about Satan.

          [Satan is] taking billions of God’s most beloved away.

          Does God care? Then he can do something about it. Since he doesn’t, and the Dark Lord is still out there, it seems like God doesn’t care.

          Your own adult children have thought deeply about it and said that they hate your guts and are repulsed by you. Satan has hurt his enemy beyond calculating. “Failure” is in the eye of the beholder.

          I get the vague impression of God building some precarious house of cards in his living room, and Satan, the mean kid from next door, comes over and knocks some of it down. Maybe God should reconsider his entire project.

        • wannabe

          Satan is playing the part of the Washington Generals in their games with the Harlem Globetrotters. Everyone knows how it will all turn out. It’s all for show.

        • Greg G.

          God = Meadowlark Lemon
          Jesus = Curly Neal

        • Bob Jase

          the Twelve Apostles = the Washington Generals

      • When you have pastors who accept without questioning it an at least 3,000 years-old tale that they, like so much of the Bible, stole from Judaism where it has different meanings and was inspired by previous stories, and say that is far more credible than evolution (a belief according to them, as if a woman appearing from a rib was science), don’t expect miracles.

    • eric

      Don’t forget Milton’s Paradise Lost. Dante contributed a lot of mythology about hell, but his Satan pretty much did nothing except stand there in the middle of the 9th circle. It was Milton who made Satan a personality.

      • Otto

        Those kids were innocent.

        😉

    • I like Satan as depicted in Lot–he’s just God’s assistant.

      • Greg G.

        I like Satan as depicted in Lot

        Job?

    • Phil

      I love the story of Satan tempting Jesus, who is god and created Satan, created the self imposed hunger he felt, the kingdoms that were already his and gravity that required angels to overcome if he jumped. Just ridiculous yet supposed to be profound.

  • Bob Jase

    “[Jesus said,] “Away from me, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10).”

    i wonder why Jesus was afraid of being tested? Especially as he set up the test under one of his aliases.

    • eric

      I always took it as more of a dismissal of annoyance. Here J goes into the desert to meditate, only to have Satan try to start a conversation with him not once but like three times. So he gives Satan the “in a movie, stop texting me” treatment.

  • Doubting Thomas

    God could, in an instant, wipe out Satan’s works and even his existence.

    And this would be a good thing, at least to the Christians saying it. And yet god just lets Satan wander around performing all sort of evil and inflicting all sorts of suffering.

    The really amazing thing is that the Christians saying this don’t understand how it makes their god look like a giant, uncaring ass. And it’s their article. They could’ve chosen to leave that part out. And instead they are clueless enough to think of god allowing evil to continue as a positive instead of the negative it is. Self awareness is not Christianity’s strong suit.

    • Otto

      I saw a number of Catholics blaming Satan for the Church’s mess…funny how they don’t realize God would have had to sign off on it too.

      • Pofarmer

        Funny how Satan seems more powerful than God.

        • As the serpent in the Garden, he’s Prometheus. Satan is the bringer of wisdom, while God wanted to keep humanity childlike.

      • epicurus

        Maybe it was another bet, like in Job. A divine gambling addiction perhaps?

    • eric

      It’s a completely incoherent mess of theology.

      God doesn’t interfere because FREE WILL. But letting Satan attack us and claiming it’s necessary for free will is like claiming I can’t make a free willed decision unless there’s a bully holding my hand and punching me with it while saying “stop hitting yourself.” This is obviously untrue, or at least a really warped definition of free will. You could, at that point, argue that God doesn’t interfere with Satan because Satan has free will too…but Satan has direct experience of God. If beings with direct experience of God can maintain their ability to make free willed decisions in the face of that experience, there’s no reason for God to remain hidden and the entire thing falls apart and it becomes a reductio.

      Christians could take another tack and state that God’s ultimate good is not understandable to humans. But then, how can Christians claim Satan is doing evil? If actions we think are evil actually serve a higher good, Satan could be doing ‘higher good’ acts. There is no way to claim we know Satan is doing evil while simultaneously claiming we humans are incapable of judging theologically ultimate good and evil.

      Of course this is all beyond what is discussed above. After reading parts 1-3, it appears to me the target audience for these guys isn’t really atheists and this isn’t really an attempt at converting nonbelievers. This is Christians attacking other Christian sects. Their target is Christians who aren’t their version of Protestant, and they’re signaling to these other Christians that they are bound for hell too unless they convert to the authors’ particular flavor of Protestantism. Acts aren’t enough, you dirty Catholics. People aren’t good, you dirty unitarians. Going to your misguided Church isn’t enough, you dirty other-sectarians. Join us, us in particular, or burn!

      • Otto

        >>>”unless there’s a bully holding my hand and punching me with it while saying “stop hitting yourself.”

        You just described the entirety of my relationship with my older brother until I was 12.

      • Michael Neville

        If beings with direct experience of God can maintain their ability to make free willed decisions in the face of that experience, there’s no reason for God to remain hidden and the entire thing falls apart and it becomes a reductio.

        I’ve made that argument against the hiddenness of God several times and never got a reasonable response from a Christian.

        • Ficino

          Yeah, in Aquinas it’s like the very first thing Satan and 1/3 of the angels do when they realize they have free will is go out and rebel, all the while having an intellectual grasp of the vision of God. But we poor slobs are supposed to figure out God’s existence from the way clods of earth fall and shit.

        • eric

          Given that the US is 75% Christian, maybe he stays hidden because being with us would cause more people to rebel against him lol.

          “BEHOLD ME…hey, where you guys going?….dammit, not again!”

        • If all-wise angels think that God is worth rebelling against, who am I to criticize?

        • Quality control with his servants is lacking if 1/3rd of them rebel. At least is more credible than one third of the stars being thrown to Earth after being hit by a presumably galactic-sized tail.

        • eric

          The only thing I’ve gotten back was the argument of incredulity, phrased as “oh, so you’re as remarkable as satan now are you?” Implying that just because an archangel can experience God and maintain their free will, doesn’t mean they think I could. Problem with that is, all the disciples saw miracles too. Thousands saw Jesus’ miracles (supposedly). The dead supposedly walked the streets of Jerusalem. In the OT, the entire Hebrew people saw mana fall from heaven, pillar of smoke by day, etc… David wrestles an angel. Adam and Abraham and Moses talk to God, and sometimes talk back to him. The bible is choc full of stories of people with such experiences.

          The entire “he can’t be witnessed or our heads will explode” thing is clearly a later retcon intended to try to address a difficult (and otherwise pretty much unanswerable) criticism. And the really killer thing is, it’s not even a good retcon.

        • The entire “he can’t be witnessed or our heads will explode” thing is clearly a later retcon

          especially since Moses spoke to God face to face.

        • Bruce Gorton

          Wasn’t Moses supposed to have talked to God’s butt?

        • And in Ex. 33:11, he spoke to his face.

        • Bob Jase

          And did it make a difference which end he spoke to?

      • I remember hearing about the relative of my next-door neighbor was going to Portugal to evangelize. But since they’re already all Christians, don’t you just declare victory and move on? Nope, since they were the wrong kind of Christian.

        That was an early clue that logic didn’t really apply in this domain.

        • eric

          Most of subsaharan Africa is predominantly Christian too. There’s both a big dollop of intersect warfare and a big dollop of colonialism/racism involved in US evangelicals sending missionaries there. Every evangelical wants to bring the word of God to the heathens; none of them want to do the hard work of improving the lives of desperately poor Christians. They all want to be the Great White Hope.

          I visited a fairly backwater community in Namibia some years ago (not as a missionary; as a tourist). Their “local cultural entertainment” was singing us traditional hymns their community had been singing for a century (in their own dialect). It was quite cool; the English was so transformed by dialect, accent, and interpretation that it took me half the song to recognize the hymn. Their biggest complaint about western missions? “They come here and keep rebuilding our church. We don’t need help with our church, it’s fine. But they never help with our school.”

        • epeeist

          Their biggest complaint about western missions? “They come here and keep
          rebuilding our church. We don’t need help with our church, it’s fine.
          But they never help with our school.”

          Having stayed at a community village in Madagascar earlier this year I can empathise with this, though in Madagascar it is the Catholicism left over from French colonial days. Go through any of the towns and villages and always the biggest, best built and maintained building is the church.

        • Greg G.

          In Vietnam, it is not just the Catholic churches, it is that way with Buddhist temples. I saw a spectacular Cao Dai Temple, too.

          Cao Dai is a hybrid of Buddhism, Catholicism, and Taoism. Victor Hugo is one of their patron saints.

        • Pofarmer

          This is OT, but one of the coolest things I think I’ve ever read is about this group of South African ADV riders going across Namibia.

          Darn it. It used to be a sticky post on Epic Rides on ADVrider.com, but I can no longer find it.

  • Any being that wants to be worshiped has shown itself to be unworthy of worship.
    — commenter Without Malice

    Like. This recalls:

    “All the means by which a man is made moral are, themselves, thoroughly immoral.” — F. Nietzsche

  • In Zoroastrism, things are supposedly more balanced and that point is far more credible than here, where attributing omni*** has ruined things and listening evangelicals about the Devil screwing everyone, being the prince of this world, etc. are tiresome as in fact is far more active than God according to them. Same as refering to him as “the Accuser”, ignoring what happens in Job.

    Also not only seems one must squint very hard to see demons in the OT after removing the single reference to Lucifer there, actually a Babylonian king, and what actually were other deities as Baal or Asherah/Astaroth or whatever, I feel the Satan Jesus encounters looks more like the Job’s adversary than the typical picture of the Devil as the former did not even attempt to fight the latter.