Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18: “I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He added in June 2017 in a combox: “If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Delighted to oblige his wishes . . .
Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me, encouraged by Bob on his blog, he banned me from commenting there. I also banned him for violation of my rules for discussion, but (unlike him) provided detailed reasons for why it was justified.
Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. On 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like his own behavior: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could! He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 73 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.
Bible-Basher Bob reiterated and rationalized his intellectual cowardice yet again on 12-21-20: “I love people who can make cogent arguments against mine or point out data I hadn’t considered before. What I dislike (and ban) are $#&*%@s who . . . refuse to learn/adapt . . . ignore compelling arguments against their position, and so on.”
I am responding to Bob’s post entitled, God’s life is hell (9-16-21; update of a post from 4-3-17).
We see problems as bad things because most of us have too many, but what if you have none?
God has problems. He has to figure out how to save as many stubborn, unrepentant, rebellious, obstinate, stiff-necked, sin-loving, ignorance-obsessed humans with free will (like Bob) as possible, since we know from the Bible (His revelation) that He desires that none perish.
God could never be perplexed by anything,
and there’s nothing to exercise creativity on. There’s no pleasure in solving a problem, no thrill of an Aha! insight.
This is untrue. He does all He can to save every one of us, but because He gave us free will, the possibility always remains that we will reject His free offer of forgiveness, grace, and heaven. Hence, God’s challenge, and it still is one, even though He is all-powerful (i.e., to do all that is logically possible) and all-knowing. When anyone goes to hell, God knows (and knew from all eternity) that He did everything He could to save him or her: that sufficient grace and understanding was granted for that person’ to be saved, but they chose to reject God and spend eternity away from union with Him.
Not only does God have no problems, he doesn’t even have surprises. No matter what it is, he saw it coming.
The first thing is false, the second true.
No matter what it is, the correct response is not only obvious but foreseen billions of years earlier.
That is, from all eternity. And it wasn’t “foreseen”, because for God it wasn’t future; it was the eternal Now, outside of all time.
Not only can’t God wrestle with a problem, he can’t think a new thought or plan or regret or be surprised or get a joke or make a decision.
He doesn’t need to, because He’s not like us in that respect. Those things are good for us precisely because of our inherent limitations as finite creatures.
God’s ways are a heckuva lot more unlike our ways that you may have thought.
Yes, and a lot more different than Bob has thought, too, as I will show as I proceed.
But God’s calendar is packed, right? He’s granting prayers, weighing the consequences of people’s actions, satisfy his agenda by performing undetectable [only for Bob and atheists] miracles, tweaking evolution so it goes in the right direction, and so on.
One might say He is busy, but since He has “all the ‘time’ in the world” to deal with any particular at all, He has no sense of being “busy” or “burdened”. To follow C. S. Lewis’ analogy, He’s (somewhat) like the author who can take an entire week to come up with one great sentence from the mouth of one of his or her characters in a book, that will most effectively serve the plot.
God’s omniscience has consequences, and the God Christians have invented is as personable as a machine.
We couldn’t possibly have invented such a marvelous, benevolent Being (we’re neither that smart, nor creative). He had to reveal Himself to us; and He did. Bob sees Him as a “machine” (we who know Him don’t) because he is misinfortmed and carnal-minded, and doesn’t seek to learn and to be set free from his intellectual and spiritual bondage.
He knows every request and every human problem, now and in the future. Knowing the future, God could list his every action like this: “At time T1, do action A1; at T2, do A2,” and so on.
God experiences no “future” or “past” because He is entirely outside of time.
God is nothing more than that. Not only could he mindlessly carry out these actions, but God could be replaced by a universal wish-granting machine.
He could not, because He is free in a way that a machine can never be. It’s the same with people. We are essentially different from any machine because we have a soul, made in God’s image, and we are free to make our own decisions: up to and including acceptance or rejection of God. It’s Bob’s “god”: imagined out of an arbitrary, atheist mindset: constructed only to mock and deride. Well, that’s fine if Bob gets a charge out of making up fairy-takes and then making fun of his own imaginary nonsense, but it forms no intellectual (let alone persuasive) argument at all.
We can imagine a conversation with God, but he couldn’t see it like we do. A conversation for him would be like stating lines in a play, all of which he’s memorized.
He makes Himself accessible to us, so that it’s possible to talk (and of course came to earth as a man to make it even easier). This is the common biblical theme of anthropopathism and anthropomorphism that I have brought up a hundred times in replying to Bob; but since he never reads my replies — or if he ever does, utterly ignores them — he never learns, and so keeps saying the same stupid and clueless things about God and Christianity over and over.
It’s true that God in the Old Testament has original conversations, gets surprised (example: he regretted making humanity before the flood), gets angry (such as his response to the golden calf), and so on, all of which makes sense only if he’s not omniscient. But how is this possible? God would’ve seen it all coming for 13.7 billion years.
That’s not true. It makes perfect sense once one understands anthropopathism and anthropomorphism. He at least has heard of one or both of these fifty-cent words because he actually mentioned the second word in one article (the first one, never). But he obviously never understands that these concepts answer his supposed “gotcha” questions for Christians that he specializes in and takes special glee in tossing out every day.
Christians have changed the properties of their unchanging God over time.
Monotheism has developed since Abraham, which is a self-consistent change of greater understanding, not the changing of one thing into something else entirely different.
What did God do all day before he created the universe?
There was no such “day” for Him because He is outside of time. Everything He has done was done from all eternity and has no sense (in God’s “eyes”) of before or after.
If he created the universe, that admits that things weren’t perfect beforehand—if they were, changing things would make them less perfect.
God is perfect, because He is self-existent and self-sufficient, and always has been. The universe isn’t perfect by virtue of being a created rather than eternal thing. But creation was good.
And if things were perfect after creating the universe, why wait so long for creating it?
God doesn’t wait for anything.
(And who’s going to say that this mess of a world is perfect?)
As we saw above, I didn’t say that. But the question is: what has caused all of the evident imperfections of the universe (chiefly, suffering and evil): God or human beings and demons?
Fourth-century church father Augustine told of someone who was asked what God was doing before he created the universe. The answer: “He was preparing hell for those prying into such deep subjects.”
Well, that’s Christian humor (and rather good at that!).
But pry we must. A popular Christian answer is to say that the Big Bang theory has a beginning for the universe (more precisely, this theory says that there’s a point in time before which science can’t take us yet). Therefore, God lived timelessly before he created the universe.
The Big Bang theory is what it is, and is perfectly consistent with creation ex nihilo, as taught in the Bible.
No, a timelessness God doesn’t solve anything.
That’s right. It simply is. It’s “eternal reality.”
How could God create the universe if he’s outside time?
By willing it.
How could anyone create anything if you’re outside of time?!
By being inherently omnipotent. What He desires, comes to be, as long as it’s logically possible.
Creation is a process that can only operate within time.
According to whom? If the timeless Being can create time, then He can create a physical universe at the same “time” He creates time.
That’s also true for the decision to create.
How does that follow? It doesn’t.
A timeless god is a frozen, unchanging, and inert god. He makes no decisions, sees nothing, decides nothing, initiates nothing, and loves nothing.
Well, this is simply Bob’s imaginary “god”: that he pretends is the Christian / monotheistic God, but it isn’t. Neither the philosophical theistic God nor the biblical Jewish / Christian one is of this nature. He’s indeed timeless and unchanging, but none of the other listed things.
Christians have created a God who’s inert (when outside of time) and a soul-less robot whose hands are tied by his own omniscience (when time is proceeding). Christians should rethink the properties they invent for God.
Nonsense. We created nothing with regard to God. We accepted His revelation of Himself, either directly (Moses, Abraham et al and in each believer’s own experience of Him, and in Jesus, the incarnate God) or through His revelation, the Bible. Human theistic philosophy helped us to further grasp this one true God. But Bob’s tweaking, petulant silliness simply comes from his own vain and futile imaginings and has nothing to do with the Christian understanding of God.
Can you imagine anything more absurd
than an infinite intelligence in infinite nothing
wasting an eternity?
— Robert Ingersoll
I can’t. Blessedly, this is not the God we believe exists, so it has nothing to do with Christian belief. Great straw man, though! That’s been the atheist specialty from the beginning.
Summary: Anti-theist atheist Bob Seidensticker, addressing the issue of an omniscient God, creates an imaginary “god” & then proceeds to shoot the straw man down, thinking he is refuting Christianity.