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Dialogue with a “Christian Atheist / Gnostic”

Dialogue with a “Christian Atheist / Gnostic” November 2, 2020

This occurred underneath my post, “Quantum Entanglement” & the “Upholding” Power of God (10-20-20). Words of Sandy Plage will be in blue.

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If there is an intelligence behind the universe, there is no reason to think of that intelligence as an omnimax “god”, and there is no reason to associate that intelligence with Yahweh, or Zeus, or Christ.

You’ve stated your position but have given me no reason to accept it (you’ve made no argument). Please provide some of those. Thanks!

No! That’s plain silly. I am not required to rebut Yahweh / Jesus (or Zeus, nor Yeh-Jez his cousin) as the omnimax intelligent designer of the multiverse! You are required to present evidence that Jesus of Nazareth designed quantum phenomena! Go ahead.

It’s just a cop-out. If you want to come off as unreasonable person with no reason for their beliefs, don’t expect anyone to be impressed. And I most assuredly am not. If you claim there is no reason to believe in God, presumably you have a reason to think why there is supposedly no reason, etc., or else it’s just blind faith: in which case you have nothing to tell anyone else (since it’s groundless and irrational).

As for reasons I give: I am an apologist, and they are presented as part of my 3000+ articles and 50 books. You are a guest commentator, so you gotta show us what you got in your intellectual “ammo.”

If you claim there is no reason to believe in God

Ok, it is my turn to be unimpressed. Where did I claim this? I did not. My initial post is one sentence beginning with “if.” I will wait while you reread it for comprehension.

You did, twice, in stating:

If there is an intelligence behind the universe, there is no reason to think of that intelligence as an omnimax “god”, and

there is no reason to associate that intelligence with Yahweh, or Zeus, or Christ.

It’s curious that you don’t see the connection.

I am willing to stand with Einstein and speculate that some greater intelligence may be at play. I am willing to call that (or those, plural) intelligences “gods.”

Good.

You express your faith that this intelligence is essentially Jesus of Nazareth as portrayed in the Gospels, aka Yahweh. I observe that this is entirely a matter of faith. And I accept that. Faith has its own reasons and rewards.

It is a matter of faith, but it is also able to be supported by reason. The two are not antithetical.

But don’t try to smuggle in science and Einstein. IF there is an intelligence behind the universe, we have no reason to believe it is the God or gods (Genesis has plural entities) of Jewish Scripture. Or Zeus. Or Allah. Or Brahma.

We have many reasons to believe that, as I have expressed in my apologetics in many articles.

In fact we have evidence to believe that this causal intelligence is capricious and does not care much about us, given the barbarity of evolution, the disorder in our DNA, the ubiquity of hostile natural forces,

I have dealt many times with the “problem of evil” as well, and consider it the most serious objection to Christianity.

and the absence of any modern communication from such intelligent entities (except of course the voices in our heads).

Again, you assert this, but do not prove it, and it’s very impossible, anyway, to prove a universal negative.

The Scriptural explanation for this barbarity and disorder is the original sin committed by two people. Again, this is pure faith, and I don’t buy it. In fact it is so obviously mythic that I fear for the sanity of those who take it literally.

It’s as good an explanation as any for the incredible evils that human beings commit against each other. What’s your explanation? Human beings are capable of great good but also great evil: precisely as the Christian hypothesis would suggest.

Finally. You are a well-published apologist. Good for you! I am not. I am a guest making simple comments as an amateur. I don’t “gotta show” you anything.

Then why did you just try?

If you are lightning quick to declare me an unreasonable person whose suspect intellect is “groundless and irrational”

I was simply contrasting the options available in your case. At first you provided no reasons for your belief (till I challenged you to so so). I wrote: “presumably you have a reason to think why there is supposedly no reason, etc., or else it’s just blind faith: in which case you have nothing to tell anyone else (since it’s groundless and irrational).” Since then, you have provided some reasons for why you believe as you do. Whether they are good or plausible reasons is another question altogether, but at least you submitted some, which shows that you are not merely exercising blind faith.

I think you are more than capable of understanding my reasoning there, and thus could have avoided making this false observation about me.

then I propose that is about you, not me.

Actually, it was simply a matter of logic . . .

No wonder that hardly anybody comes here to comment.

No wonder why this discussion will go nowhere, since you are quick to resort to the personal insult and the ad hominem fallacy. What else is new, with most atheist criticisms of Christians today? I think it’s sad and unfortunate.

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Oops, I guess I lose this one. I love you Dave Armstrong.

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Sandy wrote elsewhere, ten days ago:

I too sometimes call myself a Christian atheist. I was born into Christianity and the Catholic sacraments. I uphold many Christian values and beliefs. I just don’t believe that Jesus is God in the usual sense, or that the Jesus was even a historical person–but he certainly is a god in the mythical sense, and that is enough for me.

And again on the same day:

I do not reject Christ. I love Christ. I love the same Christ as Paul, who believed in a Christ who is a celestial archangel, crucified for us in the lower realms of heaven–read Paul, if you have not. It’s all there. I take all that metaphorically and spiritually, not literally. Paul had no knowledge of the ministry of an earthly Jesus. None.

As a Christian, let me say that it is nasty (and mean!) for you to reject other Christians and accuse then accusing THEM of “rejecting Christ.”

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I love you too Dave!

For me, the discussion is going somewhere.

Thanks for respecting my point of view by replying so carefully.

Not sure why you quoted my comment history without annotation. Perhaps because you think it is self-refuting, or embarrassing to me? Or you just don’t get it?

You continue to not grasp my point of view as someone who “believes in God” — but who at the same time does not believe that such a God or gods are a perfect, eternal force who creates the Universe. I believe that the story of Jesus Christ is a myth, and at the same time, I believe that such stories are the lifeblood of human society and thus worthy of respect and even awe. God is a real force in society and in many individuals. God is a manifestly important force in human consciousness. I believe this to be true, hence, I believe in God.

God is awesome!

I suspect you find my mythic belief in God heretical, and therefore insist that I don’t “believe in God.”

The issue appears to be that you have a specific conception of what a God or gods are.

I have been told many times by both atheists AND Christians that my own way of believing in God renders me an atheist, because I don’t believe in the orthodox way of describing God. Therefore I sometimes playfully describe myself as a “Christian atheist” and although that label is not very satisfying, it captures the tensions in my beliefs. I was raised a Christian, and I acknowledge that “Christ is in me.” As I stated before — I love Christ, and we have a relationship. (I am often mocked by other Christians for saying it all like this). I like the word “gnostic” as a self-descriptor but that has a lot of baggage.

Dave, no I have not read your portfolio as an apologist. I likely will not because your views (from the few posts of yours I have read) are frankly not new or interesting to me. I am sure you have thought about these issues. So have I. I have been reading apologetics for something like 50 years. (I just read and reviewed Tom Gilson’s new book, because he claims originality.) Such explorations have shaped the views I am sharing now. What I consistently find is that apologists are not able to honestly and fairly state the plausible alternative explanations for their views. Apologetics is a defense, not hypothesis testing. The portrayal of counter-hypothesis in apologetics is in my experience ALWAYS badly distorted and contorted into a few straw men. In my case, the mythic hypotheses (plural) are always mocked and discarded by apologists. Granted, many atheists believe that “myth” and “revelation” are opposites and that mythic views necessarily reject belief in God. I do not. God is real. God is mythic and yes “fictional.” These views are compatible.

You also misunderstand my motivations. I repeat: I don’t “gotta show” you anything. I am not here to demonstrate my intellectual ammo, or to honor yours. I am here to engage, learn, play, explore, provoke, and to try to have a dialogue. I am not required in this to prove my comments. I responded the way I did because you asked (demanded) that I defend myself. If this is against your ground rules, I will go elsewhere.

Love,
Sandy

your views . . . are frankly not new or interesting to me.

Likewise. But thanks for expressing your opinion: even though I had to “pull” it out of you, sort of like a dentist extracting a wisdom tooth.

Yes, I love you, because as a Christian, I love all human beings. Your views are not you and are a different story. I don’t love them.

I had to “pull” it out of you, sort of like a dentist extracting a wisdom tooth.

Ouch. Insulting. Unnecessary. Self-important.

You “pulled” it out of me by badly misunderstanding my point of view, insulting my intellect, and demanding that I show my “intellectual ammo” or else be deemed “a cop out … blind … irrational … unreasonable … groundless.” And this was all AFTER I briefly stated my un-adorned opinion in my initial response to your article and in my first follow-up. You did not like my opinion and you itched for a fight.

Good for you. You win. Tooth extracted.

Here by the way is my opinion, as stated before your brilliant “tooth extraction” process:

If there is an intelligence behind the universe, there is no reason to think of that intelligence as an omnimax “god”, and there is no reason to associate that intelligence with Yahweh, or Zeus, or Christ. … I am not required to rebut Yahweh / Jesus (or Zeus, nor Yeh-Jez his cousin) as the omnimax intelligent designer of the multiverse! You are required to present evidence that Jesus of Nazareth designed quantum phenomena!

You responded that you wrote a lot of books on the topic. But you didn’t actually present your arguments sufficient to believe that Jesus of Nazareth designed quantum phenomena.

If my views are so familiar to you, why do you so badly misrepresent them, as the lack of belief in God? I believe the answer is simply that you are orthodox and summarily dismissive of what is non-orthodox.

You make your Christian love of all human beings sound like quite a cross to bear. Thanks for trying.

you are orthodox and summarily dismissive of what is non-orthodox.

No; rather, I am orthodox and am not persuaded by heterodox “Christian” positions that are outside the realm of logical and intellectual rationales. Yours is a purely “blind faith” position; therefore, there can be no rational discussion about it.

It’s not personal in the least. You are the one who keeps saying how much you love me; yet your posts are filled with a dripping disdain and personal insults towards me: not merely my opinions. My replies simply don’t have those elements. I’m talking about ideas (that I have honest intellectual disagreements with), not persons.

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Photo credit: Activedia (5-12-16) [PixabayPixabay License]

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