it’s right for God to slaughter women and children

it’s right for God to slaughter women and children August 9, 2013

old testament god slaughters women and children cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

I remember the first time I read the books of Judges and Joshua all in one day. I was overwhelmed with the violence of those books. They are full of blood, flowing throughout their pages, just like the bloody flood in the hallways of The Shining. Men, women and children, as well as animals, are being slaughtered everywhere every day.

Someone sent me an interview of John Piper where he was asked why it was okay for God to slaughter women and children in the Old Testament. His answer:

“It’s right for God to slaughter women and children any time he pleases!”

You might accuse me of taking this quote out of context, and I admit it is just one sentence out of a five minute interview. But believe me the rest of his argument doesn’t lighten the sentence at all. He means it.

When I read Joshua and Judges in a day, I realized then that these stories are products of their time. They give witness to a god who would have made sense to them at that time endorsing beliefs and behaviors that would have made sense to them at that time. These books emerge from a murderous age. An age of blood and stone. They testify to a time when it was laudable to annihilate the enemy and leave nothing breathing, to stake your claim in the blood-soaked ground and strike fear in the hearts of your foes. They testify to an era when such behavior would be commanded by a Warrior God to a warrior people. They do not testify to what is true, but what seemed true to them then.

Flannery O’Connor, a great author who wrestled with violence, wrote:

“Art always meditates on death, and thus creates life.”

Perhaps this is a clue: to approach the bible as art. Art always supplements the truth with graphic illustration… verbal, visual, audible, sensual. It assaults us with assault. Art intends to offend so that we might see.

One of my favorite artists, Barry Moser, who if often criticized for creating dark illustrations of biblical stories, writes in a fascinating article, “Blood & Stone: Violence in the Bible & the Eye of the Illustrator”:

“So why all the violence? All the blood and burning in the sacred texts?… I think they are warnings to all listeners, readers, and believers of the dire and mortal consequences of sin and disobedience. And I also think they are simple, vivid images that inflate and decorate good yarns, making them more instructive and memorable. Violence adds impulse and vigor to the tales we tell ourselves and to the narratives of admonition and exhortation. Like salt, it adds flavor to bland food, or when rubbed into a wound, burns while it heals”

They are scary stories meant to instruct us, and they have been handed to us with bloody hands. To use them as historical, literal sources for modeling our beliefs and behaviors after is, in my opinion, a childish and artless mistake.

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  • Wow. Dude. That’s deep, and left me thinking deeply. I’m far more comfortable with your take on it than with Piper’s wording, but I’m not sure if my comfort is the point.

  • Gary

    “They testify to an age when such behavior would be commanded by a Warrior God to a warrior people. They do not testify to what is true, but what seemed true to them then.”

    Exactly! Bravo!

  • deep subject 😉

  • Doug

    Try reconciling Jesus’ teaching about “forgiving seventy times seven” with the ethnic cleansing of the Old Testament, much less the doctrine of an eternal, punitive hell. It can’t be done.

  • justinwhitaker

    “All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.” – Joshua (ch 6), the world’s first televangelist?

  • klhayes

    The basis for Manifest Destiny which justified taking lands from the Native Americans.
    Another story that bothers me is the final plaque in Egypt. God just slaughters every first born.

  • Jeannine Engle Buntrock

    Love it – thank you. Exactly what I think too.

  • Guest

    This is how I feel too. I have been wrestling real deeply with the violence of the OT. Just can’t wrap my head around it yet. Deep subject, lots of years of thinking and wrestling and talking to gain an understanding.

  • hahahaha true true true 🙂

  • R Vogel

    This is the challenge for the literalist view of the Bible – anything G*d does, no matter how horrific, has to be considered good. There is no independent measure of morality. It is might makes right plain and simple. So no matter how much you say a particular view causes harm, it gains no traction. When some people happily serve a G*d who they believe ordered people to engage in ethnic cleansing and consider that fair and right, what do they care about denying people their rights?

  • Gary

    I like your statement that your not sure if your comfort is the point. I agree.

    What I have personally found very frustrating though when discussing this issue with more fundamental types is their accusation that the search for truth is only to seek comfort or to simply do what I want. I have been told recently that I don’t get to make the rules unless I have the power to create the world on my own and that God’s rules are in the bible and my only choice is to obey them or face eternal punishment.

    The search for truth seems so simple when one declares a book to be the end all source of it and no thinking is required.

  • xnlover

    I once asked a colleague who had taught OT at Oral Roberts University about God’s command to Israel to slaughter all the Canaanites when they occupied the Promised Land, and he said he was troubled by the command, as I was, and yet he thought it was God’s way of “establishing a holy nation” that would obey God’s commands implicitly. During the Iraq war GWB came up with the justification for continuing it that “we can’t allow those who have fought and died to have died in vain.” There’s something powerful in the human psyche that gives a thing greater value when blood has been shed on account of it – especially human blood – even the blood of enemies. We still rely on that power when we remember that Jesus’ blood was shed for our salvation; so, in a way, if the shedding of blood ever becomes something we reject, we’d best take care that we not fail to recognize the importance of the shedding of Jesus’ blood and that we allow that to have an appropriate impact on our minds and hearts.

  • Andy

    Here’s my philosophy on it all: God knows that we would destroy ourselves. And the only way free will is compatible with our ability to destroy each other is if God intervenes and destroys those who are accomplices in the destruction of greater mankind.

    We see in Revelation and other prophesies that man and the forces of spiritual evil in this world will conspire to destroy a large percentage of the population, and to exploit a series of natural disasters and famines in order to seize more of that deadly power. Why wouldn’t a just God avenge his people?

    Yes, yes, he could always do more to stop death and destruction from happening in the first place. But that’s the down side of free will. (And NakedPastor sure likes to exercise his free will!) Rational minds must admit there’s a dark side to this very libertine position God has taken with the sons and daughters of Adam.

  • Carolyn Garcia

    the old testament is also representative of a time when death was a familiar and maybe daily event for every person due to the prevalence of death due to disease, childbirth, injury, etc. leading to a generally a shorter life spans.

  • Jake Enns

    Piper simply does not KNOW Father to think that there could be a time when it pleases Him to see his creation, his children, suffer. Leave alone the blasphemous idea that it would actually please Him to murder them Himself.

  • Shawn Spjut

    What if these are stories of man’s view of God, not God’s view of man. Didn’t God tell Job’s friends that what they said about Him was not true? What if the OT Scripture (and even some of the NT) are a reflection of how we view God and have interpreted our acts of violence or even mother natures to justify our need for justice and justifiable scrapgoating? What if the true image and likeness of God is seen in Christ, whom we judged and crucified, rather that the OT and end time theologies of man? That might account for the schizophrenic view many have of God. I think a better picture of God is the one He gave Paul in 1 Cor. 13 ….love is…

  • Gary

    Yup…I think you nailed it.

  • One of the several NT Jesuses is made to say that he comes to bring a sword. In acts, God kills two people because they hid some tithing money. The Book of Revelation still wallows in slaughter.

    It ain’t just the OT. And again, it is a product of the times — or better put, the product of men. No gods or holy spooks — so it is not surprising.

    I’d view them as books with a purpose. “Art” is in they eye of the beholder, eh?

  • The various NT teachers put their own words into a character they called “Jesus”. So it is not surprising that we don’t have a consistent list of “Jesus’
    teachings” — remember, one of those Jesuses also states that he came to bring a sword, separate families and such. Believers tend to make their own Jesus and pick and choose their favorite sayings.

    Didn’t Jesus teach about hell too in Luke 16:24, Matthew 13:41-43

    Sounds like the same ole Yahweh to me. Jesus was a Jew, after all — or better yet, his authors were.

  • Al Cruise

    Here is an exercise to do. You are a writer/ storyteller.Put yourself back several thousand years. Now be realistic. Where would you get your information? The only source would be word of mouth. How would that word originate? It would come from people’s imagination and creativity trying to explain why things were happening to them the way they were. Wars, death, famine etc. Emotions people felt back then are the same as today. Survival was all about making your group feel special, and stories were told to make it look like you were favored by something supernatural to deal with the feelings of hopelessness which were often felt. Now tag all those stories as true, knowing that historical facts to prove them wrong cannot be found. Those stories written the same way J R R Tolkien wrote Lord Of The Rings, with imagination and creativity. Do this exercise and be real honest with yourself.

  • I guess my question is, “When are we going to stop giving so much value to iron age musings of superstitious people?”

  • I feel uncomfortable saying that he does not know father, but he does not know him well!

  • Great job on this topic, and it started with a remarkable cartoon. If I wanted to use one of your cartoons on my blog what kind of permission and attribution would I need? Or do you not allow use of your cartoons?

  • People online may share my cartoons. Just credit me and link to my post. Thanks 🙂

  • Thanks Pastor!

  • you’re welcome Jesus without baggage! 😉

  • Jakeithus

    The comment of “establishing a holy nation” relates to how I’ve been thinking about this issue lately. In the OT, God allows the Israelites to establish themselves as a “holy” and set apart nation, even through means like the use of violence and state power. The problem is, even taking these extreme steps was not enough for God’s people to uphold the law, remain holy, and create the kind of world God desires.

    Violence, state power, exclusion…it doesn’t work at creating a holy society. Something more is needed (I would argue it’s what Jesus accomplished on the cross).

  • Jake Enns

    Point taken, I should not state absolutes because I don’t know him personally. He sure knows much of God, and Lord, and sovereignty, but by his comments it is also clear that he knows little of the Father-ness of God.

  • Alice

    And it makes literalists look ridiculous when they gloat about their “objective morality.”

  • Robert Stribley

    “To use them as historical, literal sources for modeling our beliefs and behaviors after is, in my opinion, a childish and artless mistake.”

    Thank God there are Christians like you! (Sincerely.)

  • BT

    Kind of, yes. Sometimes I think the bible is two stories mashed together. A story of God’s interaction with man and our struggles to understand God. Obviously, we haven’t always got it right and we have a book that both proves it and points a different way.

  • Thanks Robert.

  • Jesus also says to cut off any part of your body that causes you to sin and one of the church fathers took this rather literally and made himself a eunuch. Jesus also says that you have to hate your family if you want to follow him. As soon as you play the literal card these become rather big problems because it makes Jesus a hypocrite.

  • Cat lover

    “We see in Revelation and other prophesies that man and the forces of spiritual evil in this world will conspire to destroy a large percentage of the population, and to exploit a series of natural disasters and famines in order to seize more of that deadly power. ”

    You mean the Republican Party?

  • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

    If we care about history, we’ll always value iron age musings. Without the sprit of attempting to understand the universe we would never have advanced. Though I no longer believe in God, I’ve come to a place where I can look compassionately on the past. They tried really hard to understand the life and times they lived in. Their conclusions were false but we can’t fault them for trying. I would say we have a lot to learn from their struggles. I’ve always been taught that we look to history so as not to repeat those mistakes. We see that their conclusions were flawed, so we make new ones 🙂

  • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

    I thank you as well, I appreciate your stance to not choose a label, while continuing to pursue truth and promote critical thinking and understanding through your cartoons and commentary.

  • Alice

    A while back, I started thinking, the conquest doesn’t make any sense as part of a divine plan. The world’s population was much lower then, so why couldn’t God just lead them far away to uninhabited land. Either land that was already nice or land that God transformed into inhabitable.

  • klhayes

    Ha! Beat me to it…I was just going to say that I think in many ways the Bible was written to justify what man was already doing.

  • klhayes

    That is why Christians can be so vicious towards non-Christians…God is always on their side.

  • klhayes

    I agree, I think many were trying to make sense out of rough circumstances

  • Take it up with Him when you have the chance. And you will someday.

  • Perfect Steve. You didn’t have an answer for this one, did you?!

  • Al Cruise

    Yea.Interesting answer from someone who I perceive is very intelligent. It must hurt to have to give answers like that.

  • Huh?

    How can I, or anyone get inside God’s mind?

    If He does something, He has a reason for it and it doesn’t have to comport with our generous reason.

    Jus the fact that He would send His own son to die a criminals death…for those who hate His guts, is totally different than what we would do.

  • I’m not all that smart. So thank you, Al.

    And I never shy away from saying that I cannot grasp the mind of God. Many try to make Him over in our image…but that seems silly to me.

  • Brigitte

    David, killer of very many; anointed of the Lord, leader of armies, king. / Psalm 2
    1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
    2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
    3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

    4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
    5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
    6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

    7 ¶ I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
    8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
    9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

    10 ¶ Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
    11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
    12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

  • Alice

    In context, Jesus was using the sword metaphor to illustrate how he will cause division between those who believe and those who do not. He wasn’t raising an army to slaughter the heathen.

  • I’m certainly curious about how people thought in the past and the ideas they came up with within the limited world view they had. My question is more like, “Why do we have to try and make sense of these writings? We don’t take Homer and try to figure out how god was communicating through Homer. I think we can psychoanalyze some of these stories, but I think it is quite evident that there is no Divine inspiration behind it all. The more likely explanation is that they were trying to claim the endorsement of god for their violence. God is made in the image of man. To me that seems obvious.

  • Wayne Froese

    Some people use a special font for impact and others require taking sex slaves and the wholesale slaughter of a society? That is beyond having a poor sense of proportion.

  • dT

    Hey Naked Pastor!
    The wife and I enjoyed the podcast. However, I do have questions concerning your perspective on contrition of sin.

    As we discussed it we thought it an appropriate and even necessary part of conversion. That divine influence we sense by way of God’s spirit that we have offended our heavenly Father. But in the case discussed here I think we have ppl (sadly myself included) who try and assume God’s role and use shame to achieve submission of another. I think this has likely led to false professions of faith. Uninspired by genuine repentance, otherwise would be, believers succumb to another playing the “shame-game” and build their house on sand.

    Thanks in advance for your response,

  • Or even vicious to other Christians, specifically those with whom they disagree.

  • It’s not “free will”, though. We have wills, yes, but none of them are free. For a person to have free will, they would have to act independent of any influence, which is impossible to do, because we’re humans, and we’re always influenced by something. Not to mention their will would take precedence over God’s, which would render God impotent, when God is supposed to be omnipotent; and it would make every passage that says that God always accomplishes his will absolutely pointless, and it would make him out to be a liar and a deity not worthy of praise, worship, or devotion.

    There are various passages that state outright that God is responsible for everything. Isaiah 45:7 clearly states that God created good AND evil. Various verses in Romans 9, 10, and 11 talk about God making some vessels for honour and some for dishonour, or that he reveals himself to whomever he wills and hardens the heart of whomever he wills, that he locks us up in stubbornness in order to show us mercy. In Corinthians, Paul writes that “ALL is of God” — again good and evil. In the Gospels, when various disciples asked Jesus why Bartameus was blind and if it was due to sin, Jesus said it was so God would be glorified through it. In Job, Satan couldn’t do anything without God’s permission. In Genesis, God put the Tree of Knowledge… right in the centre of the garden, in plain sight, even though he told Adam and Eve not to eat of it. He did it on purpose — “Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain from the foundation of the earth“, says Revelation 13:8. In other words, salvation was always part of the plan. Adam and Eve eating of the tree — rendering them mortal, so Jesus could come in mortal form and die for our sin — was always part of the plan.

    But what else is part of the plan? The restoration/reconciliation of ALL. And opposition to that has been readily supplied as well: the heretical doctrine of “free will”, which is connected to the heretical doctrines of “hell” and “eternal torment”, which many a Christian have bought into.

  • Piper is an enabler in love with an abusive god.

  • I like Lewis Black’s statement about the writings of the Old Testament being for people 2 hairs past a baboon.

  • xnlover

    If that is true – and I agree that it is – when are we Christians going to stop following the Israelites in their error and start following Jesus in his faithfulness?

  • Will

    “It’s not right for God to slaughter women and children”
    By who’s standard?

  • ThisIsTheEnd


  • Dorfl

    I’d say theirs.

    The women and children presumably don’t want to be slaughtered. Why would anybody else’s opinion matter?

  • An argument could be made that the New Testament is even worse with eternal punishment for the simple “crime” of not believing the right things. At least the Old Testament God just killed you and was then done with you.

  • Why do you believe the scripture authors were able to get in the minds of God? All of your beliefs are simply based on arguments from authority – a combination of what the original scripture authors said and those religious authorities that came after. The original scripture authors were themselves influenced by those that came before them.

  • I don’t believe anyone can get into the mind of God.

    All that know is what is revealed in Scripture. As for ‘why’….well that’s another issue. And one far above our paltry understanding.

  • Do you realize that your first two sentances are not logically consistent? Why not just stop after the first sentance?

  • Gary

    Except that “He” did not do what the warring blood thirsty nation of Israel claimed He did. The stories are of their own making. Most of us totally reject the entire premise that God did these things.

  • Gary

    Oh come on…why is it fair game to stereotype an entire political party? That is no different than claiming all muslims are blood thirsty or that all blacks are criminals. Your comment is totally unhelpful!

  • Brigitte

    Do you every pray anymore NP? Do you ever say: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy?

    The way my thinking went was, I could be bitter that my son died. He died in an accident but God could have prevented it, seeing how many people have miraculous near misses and such… So one could say it is God’s fault. He killed my son. Then one could say that we don’t know what is in God’s mind, as Steve says. Maybe my son was on a bad path and would have caused some kind of havoc. Maybe he was a terrorist in the making in some basement putting together explosive devices. Maybe not. But we just don’t know. It does not even make sense to discuss it. We don’t know everything. In fact, there is so little we do know. Like God said to Job: Where were you when I made….

  • Al Cruise

    You make a great point here. It gets really scary when a person digs deeper into what you said. A group believes in an abusive God. That groups grows in power both politically and militarily, that group then feels they are the only true representatives of that abusive God. What happens to their adversaries. They die horrible deaths as per that God’s will, which cannot be questioned, because he does not have to explain himself because he is God. Works perfectly.

  • Al Cruise

    How us humans define the will of God.
    ” Who ever has the biggest stick”

  • But He did send His only son to be mocked and murdered and then He had that very son forgive those same murderers.

    That is so far from what we’d do that we could never have cooked it up.

  • Except He didn’t really forgive them because they are going to burn in hell anyway. All he did was restrain his violent tendencies for the moment.

    Plus we have all kinds of literature that has people unjustly treated and they, like Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series Kung Fu, restrain their violence until absolutely forced to kick the big bully’s ass.

    This is a common emotional vehicle that makes great story telling.

  • I loved that series when I was growing up…”grasshopper”.

    No…He really did forgive them…and us. Some hear it, and believe it. And others, do not.


    Who knows why. God knows.

  • A violent god is god in our own image. Why keep implying that this violent narrative is part of god’s mysterious plan?

  • So if you are forgiven, but don’t hear it you still go to hell? When I forgive people, it doesn’t matter what they do, I’ve given up the need to punish them. I guess god hasn’t figured that one out yet?

  • God wil save whom He will save.

    And that’s it. He is a real God and does what He wants.

  • Because he does what he wants. LOL

    That’s quite a catch phrase. Apparently god is very immature and could fly off the handle at the slightest provocation and then decide to forgive and then decide to kill everyone, Who knows what this crazy god will do next?

    These are the same statements made by the Westboro Baptist members, except they say, “Because He can.”

    There’s no response to that except to laugh.

  • You have it ALL figured out..because you are a genius and way smarter than God.

    You think that God should be just like us. Maybe you should apply for the job.

  • I don’t believe in god. You’re the only one claiming to know that god does these things. You’re job as god’s spokesperson is under no threat from me.

  • dapowellii

    And yet…God still randomly kills his followers and their children. Just look at the tornadoes that struck Moore, Oklahoma in May of this year.

  • Gary

    Your schtick never really changes does it Steve. You have no answers at all and keep falling back on the lame line of “He is a real God and does what He wants.” Nonsense is nonsense. If He forgave everyone then he will not continue to punish them. It is pure nonsense to keep making these statements that are plainly self contradictory and attempt to explain them by the “God is a real God” line of bullshit.

    I may differ with cardw in that I still believe in God. But we absolutely agree on the fact that the god you describe does not exist. And coming back with the childish response of “You think that God should be just like us. Maybe you should apply for the job” reveals just how absurd your silly proclamations are.

    You don’t have to be smarter than God to recognize bullshit Steve…you only have to be smarter than you!!

  • Gary

    Lots of books reveal many things. NONE of them reveal the mind of God.

  • Gary

    Huh? You believe weather events are a divine act of justice?

  • Gary

    Yes…mine too,

  • Gary

    “Many try to make Him over in our image…but that seems silly to me.”

    And yet…that is EXACTLY what you have done.

  • Gary

    One thing we learned from these writings is how much people create God (or their understanding of Him) in their own image. Today we know that the God described in the Old Testament was a barbaric and immoral monster by the common sense moral standards of a much more advanced civilization. (Kind of like recognizing that the Earth is not fixed in the center of the Universe)

    If we learn from the past we can recognize that we do this and consciously seek a more genuine form of truth.

  • dapowellii

    Absolutely not. Apparently sarcasm is beyond you?

  • Gary

    Considering the representatives of fundamental dogma that troll this board…a simple clarification was all that was necessary. No need to get pissy about it.

  • Hey dapowellii… I really thought you were serious in your first comment. We often have fundamentalists and literalists saying things like that here. SO GLAD to know you were being sarcastic! My kind of humor. 😉

  • cajaquarius

    dapowellii: You should look up Poe’s Law. It is sad, but I find it is oftentimes true that in a world with groups like the Westboro Baptist Church we have to look at what should clearly be sarcasm or a joke (like your original line) and wonder if it really is or not. I can sympathize with your frustration.

  • cajaquarius

    God’s standard. He has expressly forbid murder and called in a work of evil. To have God engage in such acts makes God evil, by His own words.

  • cajaquarius

    Sounds like a being unworthy of any worship to me. I’d rather be a good man who follows the hero, Lucifer, than a Godly one who bows before a petty tyrant who isn’t as smart as myself and only understands violence and coercion, if that is the way it is. I’d choose eternal death to an existence that is like living as a wife in an abusive relationship for eternity.

  • cajaquarius

    “God wil save whom He will save.

    And that’s it. He is a real God and does what He wants.”

    Why worship a God so petty? What do you get out of it?

  • cajaquarius

    I would add a challenge to their companion partners, the inerrantists; why does The Gospel of John and the Gospel of Matthew have two completely different accounts of the Resurrection when the women visit the tomb of Christ? In one Mary says he is “Risen” in the other she simply claims that body has been taken. Considering the Resurrection is a paramount event, one would think an infallible, inerrant text would be in agreement on this particular point.

  • cajaquarius

    The trick is differentiating general discomfort due to the difficulty of a text or philosophy from the discomfort caused by said philosophy when it grossly violates your conscience. No human being needs to be taught right from wrong; that is written on our hearts. We are taught only evil as we grow older, when it comes to morality. If your conscience is good then always place it above any teaching.

  • cajaquarius

    Unless hell is just a temporary purging place like Universalists believe, I can see that being a big issue..

  • Scripture is a claim to know the mind of God in human language. Scripture does present claims of “why.” Life Jeff P said your first sentence negates your second.

    In addition, your claim that scripture is a revelation of god, is a claim to get into the mind of god. You can’t have it both ways.

    I suppose you can, if you think that’s logically consistent, and that leaves you with either a lack of understanding of reasoning, (you have claimed that you aren’t that smart,) or your ego can’t be wrong, or fear of looking at the world from an uncertain viewpoint.

    You are basically claiming to know after you have stated that we can’t know.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Lucifer entices the to break the law. Lucifer then accuses them to God. Lucifer is liar and murderer. God letting Lucifer do all these things and then using various parties to carry out judgments is what bothers us. From Satan we don’t expect different. But why is there evil, why is there Satan, why is there lawlessness, why is there misery and death… Surely we would all like to have it differently. Even God. But then if he is God then why… why… why?

    Our why’s don’t help now. We only can say that he is furious, does not like it either, must execute some kind of punishment for justices sake, and in the end bore it himself. As the Psalm already foresees. It is really quite remarkable to have the redemption by the Son forecast here.

  • The problem with this narrative is it sounds like two children fighting with each other. If Lucifer is so smart, how come he reasons like a child? If God is so smart, how come he comes up with these idiotic solutions? Killing your son and claiming that it satisfies your sense of justice is idiotic. It becomes rather clear that if these are considered literal, that the ones who made these up are pretty immature and primitive in their thinking.

  • Will

    Thank you! And it is the only one that we should follow and is worth following, despite people’s moral compasses, which are sometimes a good indicator of what God’s moral will is, but due to our fallen nature it is impossible without setting ourselves against His perfectly holy and righteous standard, which only through Christ can we achieve. The fact that the Lord has provided a way for us is the best news in the world despite the fact despite the fact that he is in no way obliged to, which is why it is through freely given grace through repentance and faith in Him which we are saved from his just and righteous judgement. .
    May the peace and grace of the Lord be with you all.

  • And what if you get up there and god says, “My guy was Eckhart Tolle. Who gave you authority to speak for me? The real inspiration behind the Bible and other holy books that try to codify the Divine was that simpleton Lucifer. I thought you would have figured that out on your own.”

  • So God is perfectly holy and righteous even though he breaks his own perfect and holy standard? That’s nonsense.

  • Greg T

    You can’t say that God has ever killed anyone who didn’t deserve it, except Jesus of course.

  • Actually you can say, if one believes there is a god, that god has allowed the death of those who don’t deserve it. This is a sin of omission if you believe god has the power to stop this. Did the child of Bathsheba deserve death because of the sin of David? Did the children who mocked Elijah deserve to be ripped apart by bears?

    What this paints is a god who has a huge ego and anything that has a huge ego is no god, but a child.

  • Greg T

    I meant “kill” in the sense of execute, as was portrayed in the blog post, but God still has the right to kill, or allow to die, as far as Bathsheba’s child goes. A Creator owns what He creates, and can do with it as He pleases.
    I don’t know how this in itself makes God have a huge ego, but I disagree that anything with a huge ego (sense of self-importance) cannot be God. I would think the One Being in the universe Who is above all other beings and gods and people would be allowed a “huge ego”.

  • Anything with a huge ego is a slave to other people’s opinions. This is a characteristic of the lowest forms of intelligence and a sign of immaturity.

    When you say, “A Creator owns what He creates, and can do with it as He pleases.” is a description of totalitarianism. I assume you know that the Christian god claims that He is a god of love. Love is not compatible with totalitarianism. Examples of totalitarian systems include Nazism, certain types of feudal states, fascism, stalinism, and other ideologically run forms of rule that subjugate the individual against their will.

    I consider Christainiy a toxic cult because it allows its god to circumvent his own rules simply because he is the creator and all powerful. This is not a high moral position. It is an excellent example of double speak as described by George Orwell in his novel 1984. The purpose of double speak is to allow good people to do evil things without feeling remorse. Examples would be a slogan like WAR IS LOVE. War is described as love because it brings order and peace to both sides. So by waging war against our enemies we are really loving them. You will see this type of rationale applied in all kinds of Christian statements. To me, it is rather chilling.

  • “God will save whom He will save.
    And that’s it. He is a real God and does what He wants.”

    Hitler will save whom he will save.
    And that’s it. He is a real Feuhrer and does what he wants.

  • cajaquarius

    The reason I speak so brazenly is because I don’t actually think that way, of course. I just say it as a challenge to really think about it and to think about God. God is supposed to be greater than human beings so he should, at the very least, live up to a lowly human standard (and surpass it by a wide margin). Unfortunately, much of the Old Testament God reveals a petty being who employs aggression above and beyond the call for the smallest infractions. In some cases, a lowly human being had to still his wrath and make him think for a moment. Remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? God was ready to destroy innocent people along with the wicked before his prophet spoke up and mentioned “Uh, what if there are good people there too?”

    This tends to be why I shy away from literalism.

  • cajaquarius

    A thing with a huge ego may not be barred from being a deity but almost certainly would be barred from being good. A being who is good and truly loves other beings serves them (think Jesus healing the sick and washing the feet of his companions). In fact, a good King serves his subjects as he is served by them, and genuinely loves them. A large ego prevents this, entirely, shifting the focus onto the self and placing it above all others. I have no interest in bowing to any being morally inferior to myself; overwhelming power touting empty ego doesn’t deserve worship.

    Also, I would like to point out that in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah of Genesis God was ready to destroy Lot and his family along with the evil people of the two cities before a human being pulled him out his His childish rage for a moment and talked sense into Him. This isn’t a big deal as Genesis is myth (proven by archeological study and compiled in the book “The Bible Unearthed” – the Wikipedia link has information from the book concerning the origin of the Jewish people under the heading “Origin of the Israelites” available for free:: so many Christians can simply disregard most of the problem passages there now as the fiction they have always been.

  • Zachary Hankel

    I think this is a bit of an over-simplification of the Old Testament. While I agree that the writers of the OT didn’t necessarily “testify to what is true, but what seemed true to them then”, the writer doesn’t consider that maybe what seemed true to them then was indeed truth. Perhaps we are the one that do not testify to what is true, but rather what seems true to us. Perhaps that has always been the case, both then and now. However, I think disregarding the potential for God to be violent or dangerous takes the Lion of Judah out of the paradoxical coexistence with the Lamb of God. In the words of C.S. Lewis “He’s not a tame lion. But he is good.” (<- paraphrase) 😀 I do think much of OT is poetic and not necessarily literal, but that doesn't make the message it speaks about God being violent any less true.

    This issue of evil and violence can bring us to an even more disturbing question. Why would God, being perfectly good, even allow evil or violence to exist? If nothing else we must admit that God allows these things. I don't have the answer's as to why this might be or why God has been recorded to be violent. It's an incredibly hard question to answer. However, I do not think that this article is it.

  • dapowellii

    I was hoping someone else would know Poe’s Law!

  • Gary

    I believe “the message it speaks about God being violent” is most certainly NOT true. Why? Simple…I believe I am created with a sense of understanding of what is good and just. I reject the notion that a righteous God would teach me right from wrong and then choose to violate those very principles in some of the most horrible ways imaginable simply because He has the might to do so. In fact I would sooner embrace atheism then believe in such a god. (Though I did for years)

    Jesus Himself twice quotes Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” and such is the theme and essence of His message. Love and mercy trumping vengeance and justice is both what He taught and displayed in His life. THIS is the heart of Jesus, and therefore God, or we have no god at all.

  • dapowellii

    Thanks! The point I was trying to imply, with my vain attempt at invoking Poe’s Law, was that the fundamentalist/literalist view must take that into account. One can easily imagine at least 10,000 devout people who prayed for a personal God to save their homes, their lives, and their childrens’ lives. How many were disappointed?

  • Gary

    Some Universalists believe this about hell…but many believe it simply does not exist.

  • Gary

    Really? How did David’s infant born of Bathsheba deserve to die? There are many such examples littered throughout the OT, but this one will suffice.

  • Gary

    No…you stated that “You can’t say that God has ever killed anyone who didn’t deserve it,” Now you declare that “A Creator owns what He creates, and can do with it as He pleases” and that “God still has the right to kill”.

    Explain to me how your comments are not directly contradictory.

  • The only way I can see reconciling the contradictory statements of the bible is either to let go of the idea that the statements themselves are really literally about God or to let go of any notion of needing logical consistency and also let go of any objective notion of good and bad. For a religious person, the choices would be that if God is willingly constrained by (or comes second to) what is good, then certain passages and ideas in the bible are suspect. If, on the other hand, God truly comes first and defines “good” as whatever He wants, then good looses any objective meaning. “Good” could be killing innocent babies at one time and saving them at a different time. There would not necessarily be any consistent pattern that we could detect. No moral guide. We would just become fearful “yes men” reacting to whatever God did calling it all good.

  • Gary

    Well said. There is no way to reconcile Greg T’s statements above either because they are based upon the irreconcilable statements of the bible.

  • Zachary Hankel

    What if your understanding of what is good and just is influenced or completely dictated by what you see fit. I believe that I too was created with a sense of understanding of what is good and just, but I dare not stoop so low as to pretend that my understanding of these things is undoubtedly correct and threaten “or else”.

    As to your understanding that a literal interpretation of the God of the OT would choose to violate His own principles, you missed a huge part of my argument. What do you think about a God who would permit such horrible evil when He has the might to stop it? Surely you must admit that we struggle with that problem today. And I think this problem of evil is in direct relation to the God of the Old Testament. What’s the difference between choosing to commit evil and choosing to not stop it?

    I will admit that I think when the writers of the OT wrote about the slaughter of whole towns including children, it might have been written to justify that action instead of an actual command from God. Or perhaps the success of a battle might have indicated to the Israelites that what they were doing was God’s will (much like we do today). I too find it really difficult to think of God being good and commanding, or even permitting, the slaughter of children. This article, though, seemed less focused on the death of children and more focused on violence.

    Jesus did indeed say “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” but he also said “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. While this verse doesn’t necessarily mean Jesus comes to bring war, it does mean that His ideas weren’t peaceful. While I completely agree that the heart of Jesus was of Love and Mercy I firmly believe that He is also the God of Justice. It is not Love instead of Justice, it is Love in spite, or alongside, of Justice.

  • Gary

    I don’t struggle with the issue of a God who would not prevent evil because any god framework that does not include free will is not one I would accept. I believe logically having free will over our own choices means God will primarily choose to not intervene.

    As for whether I trust my own judgment concerning right and wrong/ good and evil yes I do trust myself to recognize that to slaughter innocents (one or millions) is morally wrong much more than I trust ancient writings from Bronze age societies. You see this is what I am challenging…I am not challenging God Himself. I don’t believe we need a book to know right from wrong and to follow the Spirit, or else Jesus would have told us He was sending a book rather than a guide. And frankly I believe if we trusted the Spirit rather than worshipped a book we would see MUCH LESS violence and abuse in the world.

    As for Jesus saying he was bringing a sword…there are of course MANY ways to understand such a verse. Clearly His teachings were a great threat to the church and in challenging that power base the result would be violent. But challenging abusers of any kind often produces violent results. None of that tells me that God Himself has a different standard of justice than we are accountable to. Jesus repeated and clear teaching was on love and the golden rule. In fact He said if we keep it we have kept the law. I refuse to believe that a god who violates it in unimaginably horrifying ways is one we should call “Holy”. The mere thought of it is ludicrous.

    Therefor… yes I do trust myself MUCH more than these ancient writings which proclaim nonsense about the nature of God.

  • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

    A much better articulation of the problem 🙂 – I agree, though I might amend your statement to say “Why do we have to try and obtain absolute truth from these writings?”. Its the assumptions present in the process of interpretation that often lead to the most problems. I would say you can find wisdom in the words of Jesus, but to assume that they are the be all end all of wisdom, to me, is the essence of folly.

    Though we don’t take Homer for absolute wisdom, we use his writing as a teaching tool for understanding writing and literature, as well as various forms of storytelling. I would agree that there is no Divine inspiration behind it.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Good, we now know where we differ. I would trust the teachings of the Bible hands down over anything my misguided fallen mind could come up with. This of course brings a problem, how can I trust my own interpretation of the Bible, or anyone else’s for that matter. I also think that if we would truly trust the Spirit, we would also trust the Bible. Please don’t think that I worship the Bible, but I do trust it. If Jesus is the word, whether through Himself, the apostles, or the prophets who came before, then we must trust His word. I know your not exactly arguing against this, but rather that the word of the prophets or scribes in the OT was not Jesus’ word. Still, disregarding the Bible, including the OT, is just as bad as worshiping it.

    It’s good to hear that you think Jesus does have a sense of Justice that we are accountable to. In your last post I thought you meant that Jesus isn’t just, only merciful. But why are we so quick to think that because God destroys, sometimes in horrible ways, that makes Him unloving? It would for us of course, but we are not God. Again, I struggle with this idea as well.

    Believing “logically having free will over our own choices means God will primarily choose to not intervene” does not make the absence of action any less evil, any less of a struggle, or any less of an issue. God does have the power to stop evil, and yet he doesn’t. Free will or not, the issue is the same. That being said I personally cannot believe in free will. I could never think that God’s grace and sacrifice for my salvation can in any way be attributed to my own ability or choice. I am not that strong, I am not that wise, I am not that unselfish. Only God could make me able to accept his mercy. That, however, is partially another matter and partially a complication in the debate of this matter.

  • Gary

    If Jesus is the Word, it in no way follows that disagreeing with the bible is as bad as worshipping it. To me this statement is not logical. Jesus is God, the apostles and the prophets were men. I disagree with the bible in many places simply because I recognize it was written by men and represents their struggle to understand God. I do not go so far as to say God did not move on some men to write down their experience, but I believe they did just that, write down what they thought and understood rather than having become some sort of divine conduit perfectly representing God Himself. The message of the bible is at least partly (IMHO) a lesson for us to learn from the struggles and failures of those who came before, not a perfect “Word”. I do not disregard the bible, I recognize it for what it is rather than what others claim it to be. All I disregard is what others claim.

    As for Jesus sense of Justice, I believe the case for justice satisfied for ALL is much stronger than the case for some future justice.

    You ask an interesting question when you say “But why are we so quick to think that because God destroys, sometimes in horrible ways, that makes Him unloving? It would for us of course, but we are not God.”

    My answer to this is easy. If you trust the bible then you must believe God is Love. If you trust the bible you probably accept without question the definition of Love found in 1 Cor. 13. This present an unsolvable paradox with the god of the OT who would kill David and Bathsheba’s newborn child for the sin of it’s parents. (One example of many) I do not accept the premise that God is love AND God commits unspeakable acts of violence against innocents and yet is STILL love.

    God gave us a brain…I believe He expects us to use it.

  • Brigitte Mueller

    I don’t know. I eat the sons flesh and drink his blood most Sundays to remember this whole idiotic thing and not forget. It makes me one with my brothers and sisters and it assures me that my sins are indeed forgiven. It is pretty important to many people and an offer we really can’t refuse.

  • Zachary Hankel

    After this I feel like we agree more than disagree on this point. I think I almost completely agree with everything you just said.

    I need to note, however, that I did not say disagreeing with the Bible was as bad as worshiping it, I said that disregarding the Bible is as bad as worshiping it. I feel the 2 are different. And while it is most definitely true that the Bible was written by men who wrote down what they thought and understood, this must also be realized for the gospels themselves. The teachings of Jesus were written through imperfect hands. And while there is much consistency within the 4 gospels, there is also much consistency within the words of the scribes and prophets of the OT. Scrutiny can not only be placed on the parts of the Bible we have problems with, but must also be placed on the parts that seem easy and wonderful. Our understanding of Love and Christ’s mercy is as imperfect as our understanding of God’s slaughter.

    I too believe that I “recognize it for what it is rather than what others claim it to be.” Though I believe other claims of who God is can help us figure out who He truly is, including yourself.

    I’m glad you labeled the issue of God killing David and Bathsheba’s newborn as a paradox when looking at God being Love. These 2 issues are seemingly irreconcilable and yet they are both taken to be true, the definition of a paradox. This permeates throughout all of Christianity, one of the things that sets it apart from other religions. Jesus being both man and God is another example. However I’m a bit confused by what you mean here. Could you elaborate on what you mean by paradox and the point you were making.

    Finally, is there anyone who is truly innocent. This is a more aggressive point and I hesitate to make it, thought it is an important point to think through when considering this argument. Personally I would like to think so, but how can I say that being imperfect myself. Can we dignify anyone with the term innocent? What does innocent mean from the perspective of perfection? Food for thought, and I don’t have the answer to this.

  • Gary

    Sure. A paradox is an argument that produces an inconsistency that is usually unresolvable. I believe the paradox of a God of love (“always protects”) that would slaughter a child for the parent’s sin represents a paradox of mutually exclusive behaviors which are not possible to co-exist. As humans we recognize that our love at times fails, unlike the pure agape which “always trusts, always protects, always perseveres,” and “never fails”. This is why I say the stories of the vengeful god of the OT are the creations of men, because the “love” of that god figure most certainly failed…and in blatantly obvious sinful ways. And I personally reject the notion that because “god is god” then whatever he does by definition is not sin. If He is the pattern of perfection for us to follow, “be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect”, then this notion of some sort of different standard for Him would represent another paradox.

    I am at a place in my journey where I have come to believe the only real guide in my search for truth is that which is in alignment with the principles of Love. All else is suspect to me, no matter what holy book it is in or who declares it to be truth.

  • Gary

    As for if anyone is “truly innocent”, yes it is another point but a good question. I think in the example already cited the issue is not if the infant was truly “innocent” (though I believe he was as I am not a proponent of original sin) but whether he was innocent of the crime for which he was executed. In fact 2 Samuel is extremely clear that God caused the baby to suffer for seven days while David plead with him for it’s life, and then God killed it specifically for David’s sin. Other fine acts of retribution God handed out (supposedly) included taking David’s other wives and giving them to his neighbor to have sex with and having his son go have sex with his concubines on the roof top in open view of all of the nation. Of course these are direct violations of God’s previous decrees. Not to be too crass about this…but I see it as a couple of horny dudes took advantage of David’s grief to get their jollies with David’s beautiful women and then declare their innocence by saying “God told me to as part of your punishment”. Convenient huh?

    I don’t see it as a question of whether or not the child was “perfect” at all. Nor do I believe perfection in life is the standard of innocence. No, slaughtering a child (even if the child is not perfect) for the crime of another is not justice by any acceptable standard…even God’s.

  • Will

    That is a very good question!
    The fact of the matter is that God judgment and murder is not the same thing; ie. if these people were righteous then the Lord would have judged them as such and therefore they would not have needed to die. The fact that these people were able to live with the Lord’s common grace, as we do now with all that is provided for us (even basic things such as air and sunlight), even though they knew God but did not honour him as God or give Him thanks, and as a result common grace (which is freely given to us who are undeserving of it) is eventually withdrawn and people deteriorate into their original nature which brings death in all its forms.

    My point is: The Lord is eternally holy, righteous, just and loving, never failing to be faithful to His promises, but he is patient in handing down His judgment to us. But we have a way out of being objects of his wrathful judgment as His Son took it for us; for those who repent and believe in what He has done for us, for He loved us whilst we were still sinners (how much more can His love abide in us when we glorify Him and enjoy Him through the salvation He has freely provided for us!).

  • That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not the god described in the Bible. The god in the Bible murders innocent children in the flood. He orders the murder of innocent children in acts of genocide. He orders the “marriage”, really rape, of virgins captured by his people. If you’re not a virgin you are murdered. No one would consider it justice the killing of children for mocking a preacher.

    When you are creating apologetics for a god this evil, you leave no standard to condemn those like Hitler or other totalitarian rulers who look like bratty kids compared to god.

  • It’s an offer you can’t refuse because your god will kill you if you don’t accept it. Fortunately it is very clear to me that this whole idea is made up by men to control other people through fear. It simply takes a little time to read up on history without the sanitation of the narrative by priests.

    Christianity is hardly in the business in creating unity with people. It’s history is stained with the blood of those who’s particular interpretation of belief differed with another sect of Christianity. It forms new sects faster than anyone can keep track. We have over 40,000 different sects of Christianity today.

    I can think of no more appropriate symbol of this type of violence than drinking of this god’s blood.

  • Zachary Hankel

    I am a proponent of original sin. I also believe that many times the punishment for sin is more sin. For example the addict who begs God to free him from his bond, yet God doesn’t grant him this request (I am/was one of these). A punishment for sin is the continuation of sin. So in the case of David, his punishment was for sin to plague his life and his family. While David’s sons terrible acts may have been God’s plan, they were not innocent in doing them. Since I am a causal determinist, I believe that God planned for all of this to take place. But he also planned for the redemption of these sins, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30).

    Being a causal determinist, the issue of David’s child is nothing new to me. Job is the best Biblical example of needless suffering. God never actually tells Job why evil has befallen him. His friends attempt to offer rational explanations and all of them fail. The book ends with God showing Job the wonders of creation. We don’t really get any answer, and we certainly don’t get the answer that “it all works out.” While the death of David’s child was supposedly punishment for David, for the child himself it was needless.

    This is indeed a paradox “A seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true” (Merriam Webster). And while I’m into definitions here’s another. Vengeance: “Punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong” (Merriam Webster). Vengeance under this definition is justice through punishment. Only God is capable of retribution because only He can see our true character. The rest of us must adhere to consequentialism, our system of moral justice must be forward looking since our moral compasses are so very imperfect. That is my opinion.

    Another thing to consider is that children suffer from the sin of their parents all the time. A pregnant mother who does drugs gives birth to a mentally ill child, for example. While this is directly the fault of the mother, it is also permitted/caused (there is little difference) by God.

    Finally I refuse to think that the principles of love are the only real guide. While it is correct that God is Love, God is also Lord God Almighty, Master, My Shepard, Our Righteousness, The Lord Who Sanctifies You, Jealous, etc. To only follow the principles of love is to worship love, not God. God is so much more than love, although Love is most definitely who He is as well.

  • Gary

    There are too many instances of statements in your post that I strongly disagree with for me to attempt to respond to them all. Suffice it to say we have profoundly different views concerning God.

    However I would like to respond to one statement of yours as it is central to this entire discussion.

    You stated: “children suffer from the sin of their parents all the time. A pregnant mother who does drugs gives birth to a mentally ill child, for example. While this is directly the fault of the mother, it is also permitted/caused (there is little difference) by God.”

    First of all I believe there is no logical comparison between suffering that is the result of the sin of another and a deliberate act of vengeance by God (presumably) on one individual for the sin of another. I am really kind of disturbed that you seek to draw a parallel between them. I also totally reject your notion that there is little difference between God permitting and causing harm to come to another.

    With all due respect…your god is a monster. I am truly glad that this vengeful god of yours is the product of the imagination of men.

    (Cue the foreboding music and threat of eternal consequence for my apostasy) 😉

    Sorry for the humorous conclusion. I have enjoyed our conversation. However it seems we may have drawn out what common ground there is between us and further dialogue will not likely be profitable.

  • Zachary, you are a real piece of work (or your theology is).

  • Zachary Hankel

    What do you mean by that Jeff? I could either take that as a compliment or an insult and I’m not sure which you meant. If you meant it as a compliment, thank you but that’s not necessary as I’m not even sure it’s worthy of compliment. If you meant it as an insult you should both elaborate (please) and perhaps change it from an insult to an argument so that I can learn from your disagreement and also not feel hated.

  • Zachary Hankel

    I completely disagree, where there is not common ground is where the most profit from an argument comes. I beg you to please continue in this debate as long as you will. I am learning a lot.

    The first point I’d like to make is that whatever you believe is just as much “the product of the imagination of men.” In your previous post you have completely neglected to address my point, that the gospels and NT were written by hands as imperfect as the OT. Please address this in your argument. Also, I don’t actually believe that what you have said, or what anyone else posts here, seeks after the product of the imagination of men. Please see me as one who is seeking to know Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit/the Father as much as you are. Please don’t disregard me as a heathen in my honest search to love and know God and my neighbor, it’s insulting and hurtful. You preach love but your venom stings.

    Also please, I desperately beg you, explain to me why you “totally reject your notion that there is little difference between God permitting and causing harm to come to another.” I meet many people who think as you, but they refuse dialogue in explaining what they mean. For my sake please explain why you think this, and how my belief isn’t logical.

    To spell out my logic I will draw for you a logic statement.

    Premise 1: Our sins have negative consequences.
    Premise 2: These negative consequences were designed by God.
    Premise 3: Smoking while pregnant is a sin and therefore has negative consequences. (for the sake of the argument) (From 1).
    Premise 4: A negative consequence for a pregnant mother smoking is a stillborn child (From 3).
    Conclusion: This negative consequence was designed by God (from 2 and 4).

    This argument is completely logically sound, only if you disagree with a premise can it be invalid. The only premise I can see you having a problem with is Premise 2, but if you disagree with this then you must believe that God did not design sin to have negative consequences and that these effects are rather the result of something else. If this is true please explain what that something else is and why that makes sense. Please note that this argument has little to do with God’s vengeance paralleling suffering that is the result of the sin of another. Rather it is simply an explanation of God being the cause of the death of an (by our standards) innocent.

  • Gary

    Sure…as I indicated before I am sorry for my disrespectful humor. It was intended as more of a statement about discussing these issues with typical fundamentalists than it was directed at you.

    To start with your point of the gospels as well being the product of men…thank you for bringing it back up as I did neglect to elaborate my agreement with you. I totally agree. I consider the entire bible to be the product of men, which is not to say it (or parts of it at least) was not inspired. Of course I view inspiration to be different from infallible reproduction and I think we agree on this point. (Correct me if that assumption is wrong) I recognize that perhaps not all of what is recorded to be words and/or deeds of Christ is accurate. This is another reason why I believe evaluating with the heart (lead by the Spirit) is so important. I believe there are few themes of truth if you will which remain and they are “faith hope and love, the greatest of which is Love”. Some passages clearly strike a dissonance within me and I reject them. Many consider this to be simply following my own will or wisdom. I totally reject this because Jesus (apparently) said He would send the Spirit of Truth to guide us. The only alternative is to accept the infallibility of scripture. That position (to me) is self evidently false.

    As to why I reject the view that permitting and causing is fundamentally the same. I have stated that I believe free will is a necessary component of a faith I find to be feasible. Logically it is not possible to allow free will without also allowing the consequences of that freedom. This makes perfect sense to me. It also does not follow logically (to me at least) that God desires negative consequences. I believe if the alternative is a lack of freedom, THAT would be the greater negative consequence. I do not believe God wills the child of a druggy mother to die…but He wills the alternative (lack of free will) even less. And besides…there are no life lessons (which produce the very knowledge of love in the first place) to learn without consequences to our actions, so good can come from it. (Yes it sounds a little like God’s plan) But this is not the same as God Himself choosing to harm, destroy, kill, etc. The only thing that would be a consequence of is a God without any kind of justice. Not a good lesson there. (Unless you believe might makes right is honorable)

    In regards to your logical progression, I believe the premise that I disagree with is the assumption that a negative consequence of unhealthy choices (I am actually more comfortable with this term than I am with sin) is in any way comparable to the vengeful god portrayed in various parts of the bible. I think the foundational difference is what I believe to be the nature of God. I do totally reject the idea that God is repulsed by his creation or finds them unacceptable. I know this flies in the face of the atonement and Jesus sacrifice on the cross. But what if (I am still really struggling to resolve this in my mind and heart) the message of Jesus walking among us was that He loved us in spite of our failures (a love which He repeatedly demonstrated) and to show us the danger of the religions of men? I know this thought flies in the face of some of Jesus “recorded” teachings…but then again…so does His teaching on love. In other words…what if we can’t do anything to mess up the love of God? (Read “Proof of Heaven” for a very thought provoking exploration of this concept.)

    I guess I am about as much on the fringe of calling myself Christian as one can be. I do still believe Jesus was God among us. But the baggage of the church which makes that story one of contempt and judgment for god’s very creation is one I am finding myself rejecting more and more. In other words…yes I “sin”. But since all of mankind sins (however we define it) by the very design of God Himself, does it make sense that He abhors that which He lovingly created for being the only way we can possibly be?

    I really don’t think so.

  • There is quite a difference between cause and effect and god standing back from things he put into motion.

    What responsibility would someone have for a tornado killing their family or a flood killing thousands of people or some other disaster that according to your world view god is responsible? The suggestion that these happen because of sin and god is somehow powerless to intervene simply indicates that there probably isn’t a god even there in the first place.

    We are held responsible for those actions we don’t do when it is under our power to prevent suffering. How come god is not held responsible for those same situations?

  • Zachary Hankel

    I don’t believe God stood back after He put things into motion. I believe quite the opposite actually.

    I’m very confused by what you said in the tornado example. Are you claiming people should be responsible for a tornado’s destruction? And I’m saying quite the opposite of God being powerless to intervene in our world today. I’m saying everything that happens is in accordance with His good an perfect will, and that some of these actions are incredibly confusing and difficult to deal with.

    As far as us being responsible for lack of action, I completely agree. God would be responsible for the same situations, however there is no such thing as “lack of action” with God. He doesn’t sit back and watch. At least that’s what I believe.

  • Think about the tornado. Who causes tornados? God in your world view. Who has the power to stop tornados? God. Who doesn’t stop tornados? God.

    This is not confusing if there is no god there. The confusion only comes when you start to claim things you can’t possibly know.

  • Zachary, by “a real piece of work” I was implying that your theology, IMO, tends to try too hard to accommodate too many things at once. The predestination stuff doesn’t sit well with me and I don’t see much difference between a God who breathed suffering into existence in a deterministic world and a God who sits with arms crossed and does nothing to ease suffering in a world with free will. Instead of inventing (or latching on to) elaborate theologies to explain “the suffering problem”, I tend to accept the more simple answer that there is no over-seeing conscious Being behind it all or watching. I also have the view that the universe is much bigger than any theology invented by mankind and definitely bigger than the Abrahamic theologies invented 2 or 3 thousand years ago (even with all the more recent refinements). I do appreciate, though, your willingness to lay your chosen theology out for examination. Even though I may not agree with your theology, I do like discussing it. It is just the way God made me 😉

  • Zachary Hankel

    Again, now I think we are more on the same page after this post. I completely agree with evaluating the Scriptures with a heart led by the Spirit. We have all been given a Spirit of discernment, but even then our interpretation of His Spirit is just as fallible as the hands of the Biblical writers were. I believe both are equally important. With this point I only think differently on one point. I do not disregard Scripture verses that strike dissonance with me. Instead I wish to learn more about them and try to re-evaluate what I believe and why I believe it.

    The idea that “negative consequence of unhealthy choices is in any way comparable to the vengeful god” was never a part of my logical progression. Obviously that’s were this discussion stems from, but this specific logical progression is an explanation of God being the cause of the death of an innocent. I feel that this is a good base to start with, and it is the argument you seemed to have a problem with earlier.

    I completely agree that a huge part of “the message of Jesus walking among us was that He loved us in spite of our failures.” I don’t think it at all flies in the face of any teaching Jesus presented. That doesn’t necessarily mean that “we can’t do anything to mess up the love of God” but personally I really hope it does. I am a hopeful universalist. While I can’t find enough evidence to support this in the Bible or through other writings to believe this without a doubt, I do really hope that everyone that wants to can go to heaven. I will look up “Proof of Heaven”, I need to read more on universalism.

    I agree that “Logically it is not possible to allow free will without also allowing the consequences of that freedom.” However I think logically it is possible to allow free will without also allowing the consequences of that freedom to be negative. Why does free will need to have negative repercussions? Why could God not have created a world where we can have life lessons without pain and suffering? It is not logical that these consequences must be painful, it is also not logical that we must be given the freedom to make unhealthy choices. Under the acceptance of free will, couldn’t God have made a world where we learn perfect life lessons and only make choices that are healthy without infringing on our free will? This world is hard to imagine, but then again so is eternity and God Himself, etc. This is the only point I truly disagree with.

    Your final point confuses me a bit. The idea that we are beings “the only way we can possibly be” is a very deterministic one. It implies we cannot be different and therefore have no freedom, and you seem very adamant in your belief of freedom.

  • Guest

    God does stop tornadoes, after He starts them (or allows them).

    Of course it’s confusing if there is no god there. If there is no god, why does chaos and suffering exist? Saying “just because” is incredibly confusing.

    What are you claiming I can’t possibly know, and why?

  • Zachary Hankel

    I’ll take that as a compliment then. As to taking the simple answer, I dislike simple answers to complex problems. Also, I know my idea tries to accommodate many things at once, it’s a work in progress 🙂

  • Zachary Hankel

    To what are you referring when you say I claim things I can’t possibly know? And why can’t I possibly know them?

    Who has the power to redeem the destruction of a tornado? God. Who doesn’t? Everyone else. This is only confusing if there is no god there. Sure, people can rebuild and make the best of a bad situation, but they cannot purpose the destruction of a tornado to work together for good.

  • You can’t possibly know that god will redeem these or rebuild them because you have absolutely no evidence that god does anything. When things work out well how do you know that god does it. That’s what you can’t possibly know.

  • Are you trying to be obtuse? The implication is that god stops tornadoes before they kill anyone.

    Suffering exists because the universe is no respecter of species or of life. We can easily see a cause and effect universe. Humans are the only ones that get upset because it’s not about us. Most of the universe is completely hostile to human life.

  • Some problems are only complex because of false assumptions. As an example, in astronomy, there were once the assumptions that the earth was fixed and unmoving at the center of the universe and all other things orbited around the earth and all motion was in perfect circles. To account for the observed wondering motions of the planets, a very complicated structure involving circles within circles within circles was theorized. By your logic, this complicated answer would be preferable to a more simple explanation to explain the complicated phenomena. Eventually, people realized that the underlying assumptions were incorrect – they realized that the earth was not at the center of the universe, it rotated and moved, and things did not all move in perfect circles. A new more simple theory was then possible. We now explain the motion of the celestial objects by a much more simple theory involving gravity, the earth’s rotation, elliptical motion, and a sun-centered solar system.

    Back to the problem of suffering. The problem only becomes complicated when you have assumptions that make it a hard problem. When you insist on a causal chain of all phenomena back to a conscious supreme Being that is supposed to be all good, then you must invent a very complicated theology to account for the paradox that needless suffering exists in the world with an all good God controlling everything. If you drop the belief in a causal chain of absolutely everything back to a supreme Being, then you don’t need such a complicated theology.

  • Gary

    Perhaps stating that I “disregard” verses that strike a dissonance within me is not accurate. I don’t disregard as in ignore their presence altogether, rather I evaluate them for truth based on, at least in part, this standard.

    I understand your logical progression did not include the comparison between consequences and Godly vengeance. But for reasons I have explained already I don’t accept the premise of the progression. I must draw the distinction I have because to not do so is not logical or acceptable to me.

    Let me clarify my final point for you. The reason I stated that it does not make sense that God would abhor us for being exactly the way He made us and that we cannot be any different is because these are very rigid beliefs of the more traditional Christian faith. I was taught that I was born fallen and sinful. Where was my choice in this? I was taught that it is not possible to not sin and that every person of all time save Jesus has sinned. If this be true, and God created humanity, why is this my fault rather than His? I was taught that God literally cannot even look upon humanity without a blood sacrifice. Why? If He created humanity and we have no means of changing who and what we are (totally depraved) why is this also not His fault? I have come to recognize these as clear logical inconsistencies within one of the most basic frameworks of the Christian faith, the sacrificial requirement necessary to appease God’s vengeance. This is why I reject original sin, total depravity, etc. Those are very “deterministic” views that I do reject. Additionally they create the logical inconsistencies I have stated above.

    It has been difficult to let go of some of the foundations of my original faith of course. Especially considering I was raised Wesleyan and served in Baptist churches my entire adult life. These denominations are very fundamental and evangelistic. But once I began reading more and more about the history of the Christian church and the progression of beliefs over the centuries it became clear that what I had always been taught was nothing more than the current set of beliefs, dictated to be true by a few, in an ever changing progression. (I.E., A form of Universalism was the only belief taught for about 400 years following Christ) Studying the history of the bible, including canonization and translation, has also revealed to me that my former faith in the bible is both illogical and indefensible.

    I have not let go of my belief in God. Both logically and spiritually I still believe the universe has a creator. But I have come to believe no religion is capable of defining Him or portraying Him with any real accuracy, including the Christian religion.

  • Gary

    Oh and as a quick follow up. Your statements that it is possible to allow the consequences of free will without allowing the negative consequences seems totally illogical to me. In fact that premise would deny the very existence of the free will to begin with. And the very concept of love loses all definition without knowing the concept of the opposite of it.

  • Zachary Hankel

    In your example of astrology, the answer that was eventually accepted was actually far more complex than the previous belief. New elements to the equation, like gravity and the rest of the elements you mentioned, had to be accepted as real. This makes for a much more complex answer, not a more simple one. This is also a part of the reason it took so long to become accepted as true. On the one hand the church denied it, not because it went against scripture, but because it made the earth less “low” then it was. The reason a geocentric view was popular in the church is because the belief was tied in with the idea that the earth was the lowest of the low, the most evil. Copernicus’s model made the earth not at the bottom of the universe anymore, and the church was uncomfortable with this. On the other hand people found it too complex. Orbits and empty space were ridiculous if you weren’t a man of science. So you’re wrong, it isn’t simpler, it’s far more complex.

    As to your rebuttal against a causal chain. I am not a causal determinist because of my Christian faith. I am a causal determinist because I see that law to be true in the world. Everything I do has been caused by something, some things have more ultimate causes than others. I have no choice when I do something because of the causes that determine my choice, and therefore no freedom. There is no way to prove that freedom exists, not even when considering Quantum Mechanics. This is obvious without considering Christianity. However, Christianity also happens to use this doctrine. As for theology accounting for paradox. Of course this is true, it has always been something the Christian faith has had to do. Read Kierkegaard, he is one of the most profound philosophers who believes that Christianity surges through paradox. Just look at the basics to start. How can Jesus be completely God and completely man? How can we as God’s children be called to be living sacrifices? How can God be 3 persons in 1 being? These are paradoxical questions and can only be answered with paradox. So of course this needs an answer that accounts for this paradox.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Well if we’re looking at it that way, you have absolutely no proof that you exist. You can quote Descartes and say “I think, therefore I am”, but you can’t even prove that. How do you know that you’re not being fooled by some single mind that is making you believe that you exist when in actuality your just a product of this being’s imagination. How can you know that you’re not a product of my imagination? How do you know the world around you is real and not a part of your own imagination? You can’t possibly know that either the world around you, or yourself, exists. The same is true for me. I have to believe that it’s real. It seems very real, it’s too real to deny, even though I can’t prove that it’s real. Call it faith in the real. The same is true for God.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Ah, I see you found the post I deleted. Yes I was trying to be obtuse and ridiculous, sorry. And I think I agree with parts of your second paragraph. The only thing I’d say is that while yes, most of the universe is hostile to human life, I would say that much of what matters to us isn’t. We have earth, we have air, food. And while some or a lot of these can be hostile to humans, we still have plenty.

  • Guest

    How would it deny the very existence of free will? Because we can’t do something? Here on earth we can’t jump over skyscrapers (without help), we can’t lick our own elbows, etc. Do these things which we can’t do even if we wanted make us any less free (or have the illusion of free will)? However I think I agree with what your last sentence is getting at. I would like to expand on it. We don’t need to know the opposite of love to understand it necessarily. However, in order to understand God’s love we do need to know forgiveness, redemption, love in spite of failure. All of these require that we be fallen, which is another reason I believe we are naturally in need of God’s mercy. It also means we have no choice but to be fallen if we can begin to understand these concepts, which is another reason I don’t believe in free will.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Thank you for re-clarifying what you meant by “disregard”, I try to do the same thing.

    As to your re-clarification of your final point: thank you, it makes more sense now. I agree, they are very deterministic views. I didn’t have a choice but to be born into sin, but then again I didn’t have a choice but to be born. I don’t have a choice but to sin, and I do think that is very much God’s fault. Do not mistake me for throwing away responsibility. A mastermind is most definitely to blame when his pawns carry out an evil deed, but so are the pawns. I am to blame because he made me that way, not to abhor me or his creation, but to show me that love is more than just making me feel good or giving me a good life. His love is a forgiving, sacrificial love. God’s love in His act of dying for us is even more profound if we hate Him. Again, this is also why I’m a hopeful determinist. It’s difficult to reconcile God being good if he doesn’t extend this love to everyone since he made them that way. The only way I can see people going to hell is if they would still want to regardless of Christ’s majesty and love.

    Response to your follow up:

    How would it deny the very existence of free will? Because we can’t do something? Here on earth we can’t jump over skyscrapers (without help), we can’t lick our own elbows, etc. Do these things which we can’t do even if we wanted make us any less free (or have the illusion of free will)? However I think I agree with what your last sentence is getting at. I would like to expand on it. We don’t need to know the opposite of love to understand it necessarily. However, in order to understand God’s love we do need to know forgiveness, redemption, love in spite of failure. All of these require that we be fallen, which is another reason I believe we are naturally in need of God’s mercy. It also means we have no choice but to be fallen if we can begin to understand these concepts, which is another reason I don’t believe in free will.

    I decided to place my response here instead of making 2 posts. I deleted my other post so ignore the “Guest” post, sorry.

  • My reality and the so called reality of god are NOT the same thing. You can’t make the same correlations. My reality is based on observation through sight, sound, and touch. These verifications are not available for the existence of god. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if we could see, hear, and touch god in the same manner as we see ourselves.

    Just because you have a good feeling about the idea of god doesn’t mean that god exists in the same way as we can agree that the world exists. These would be far different degrees of faith, if we are going to use this term.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Of course they’re not the same thing, but they are comparable. I’m saying you can’t possibly know that you exist; sight, sound, and touch are deceiving. Just because you believe that you see, hear, or physically feel through observation doesn’t mean you exist. The same correlations can be made because we’re arguing knowledge/proof, not observation. And of course the degrees of faith are different, but then you admit that believing you exist requires faith.

    Sight, sounds, and touch are also not available for proving gravity exists. You can’t see, hear, or touch gravity. You can only see what it does, what it’s effects are. Granted mathematics can prove gravity exists but for 1 this was not mentioned in your argument and 2 philosophical proofs such as Aquinas’ 5 ways or the ontological argument can also prove God exists. For example:

    Premise 1 – God is the greatest conceivable being.
    Premise 2 – It is greater to exist than not to exist.
    Conclusion – Therefore, God exists. (from 1 & 2)

    While this argument is debated it is still completely logically sound. But then again, for science we can only get as far as theories and scientific laws, both of which may be found to be false. I’m not hating on science at all, my point is simply that there is more than just “a good feeling” when it comes to the idea of God.

  • You can’t argue something into existence.

  • Jeff P put it very succinctly. Philosophy starts with a single or set of assumptions. You can make an argument from those assumptions, but you can’t prove them. All you can evaluate is the internal consistency. I don’t accept your assumptions since they seem unlikely to me.

    You could make your same argument for any god. Why go with the Christian god?

  • Zachary Hankel

    That wasn’t the point. It was to share a logical argument that shows there is more to Christianity then just “I feel it must be true”. Of course you can’t argue something into existence.

    Also, you can argue that something exists already, which is the intention of the argument (but again, not my point).

  • You shared a logical argument, but valid arguments can be made from any number of false premises. My guess is that your premise(s) is(are) based on “I feel it to be true.”

    I tried for years to find a logical verifiable reason for Christianity and I found none. So far no one, including yourself, has been able to provide evidence for a god of any type.

  • We don’t have air, water, and food. We have adapted to our environment. The environment was first. We came second. That’s what happens in a cause and effect universe.

  • Zachary Hankel

    The point wasn’t to prove anything. Instead it was to show a starting point in the argument for the belief in God. You said earlier “just because you have a good feeling about the idea of god doesn’t mean that god exists”, and I completely agree. But having a good feeling about the idea of God has never been (for me), and never should be, the base for the belief in God.

    And are you sure you don’t accept my assumptions? Do you disagree that God is the greatest conceivable being? If so please tell me of a conceivable being who is greater. Do you disagree that it is greater to exist than to not exist? If so please explain how non-existence is greater than existence.

    This argument can’t be used for any god. Rather it can only be used for the greatest possible god. Thor, for example, is not the greatest conceivable being. The Christian God is. Now of course the Muslim god appears to also be the greatest conceivable being, but again this is a starting point only. I had no intention of using this as an argument for the Christian God, rather my intention was to show that some god (who is also the greatest being imaginable) can be argued for logically.

  • Your question, “Do you disagree that God is the greatest conceivable being?” is the logical fallacy called the false choice. The force that runs the universe might not be a being. It is a form of “good feeling” to want to anthropomorphize the universe.

    Your question, “Is it greater to exist than to not exist?” has no scale of reference. It implies preference, which is a feeling.

  • Gary

    “I’m saying you can’t possibly know that you exist; sight, sound, and touch are deceiving. Just because you believe that you see, hear, or physically feel through observation doesn’t mean you exist.”

    I’m sorry…but I have to call this view for what I see it as, a bunch of philosophical nonsense. And the 2 Premises and the conclusion you follow it up with are equally nonsense because the assumed cause and affect progression is not logical at all in that the conclusion in no way follows from the premises.

  • Gary

    “How would it deny the very existence of free will? Because we can’t do something? Here on earth we can’t jump over skyscrapers (without help), we can’t lick our own elbows, etc. Do these things which we can’t do even if we wanted make us any less free (or have the illusion of free will)?”

    No not at all. The fact that I “can’t” do something because of limitations in physical or mental ability, or even the laws of physics, is not at all comparable to my choices being limited by the will of another. They are not analogous comparisons. We do not say those living under a dictatorship have no freedom because they can’t lick their elbows do we?

  • I disagree that the Christian God is the greatest conceivable being. I also don’t think that the Muslim God is either. I also don’t agree that the ability to conceptualize such a greatest conceivable being in your mind proves that such a being exists even if you accept that existing is greater than non-existing. It is possible to conceptualize a lot of “greatest” things and that doesn’t mean they exist either. For example, I can conceptualize the greatest conceivable leprechaun but that doesn’t mean this greatest conceivable leprechaun actually exists. As for the Christian God, I can easily conceptualize a version of God greater than the Christian God as depicted in the bible. As a simple-minded example the Christian God created the world in 6 days but I can envision an even greater God that can create the world in 5 days… Another example might be envisioning a God just like the Christian God but a bit greater in that the greater version does not order the killing of quite so many people. Or one that doesn’t have hell last for eternity – just a few thousand years… In fact I would argue that any description or characterization (or theology) of God can only serve to diminish or reduce its greatness. It then becomes something less than the greatest conceivable being. IMO, the concept of the greatest conceivable being must remain completely without description and without a narrative.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Again, you’ve completely ignored my point. I concur that this argument has problems and, as I said before and as you have just shown, it is a widely debated problem. Once again, the point I was making was to show a starting point to the belief in a god (not the Christian God necessarily). I am not arguing for the existence of the Christian God at the moment, but only a god, with this example.

    Also I’d like to note that I don’t believe in 6 day creation, and I don’t believe creating the world in 5 days would be better than 6. I think creating the world they way He did, through the process of evolution, is the greatest way I can imagine God creating the universe. With this in mind it’s clear to see that opinion must come into account when considering what greatness is. I also think that the deaths that God caused/allowed will be, or have been, redeemed and that action is greater than preventing death (for them). Again that’s my opinion. This logic statement becomes complicated with opinions in mind, but then again I do not wish to use it as a proof of God. Rather it is meant to show that rational belief in God can start with reasoning. Read Aquinas’ 5 ways for more examples. They’re short and quick and found on Wikipedia.

    A description of someone could never diminish how or whom that person truly is. To think our words for God make Him who He is is an idiotic wish. Our words can only attempt to describe who God is, and of course we fall short in our description of Him. The church has known this since the beginning. Even the writers of the Bible can’t fully describe God. This does not make God any less great, it only makes our descriptions of Him imperfect. So I disagree, the greatest conceivable being must not remain completely without description or without narrative, but any attempt to do so will fall short.

  • Zachary Hankel

    It is a question with literally infinite answers and therefore not a false choice fallacy. I am not presenting you with only a couple choices. Saying you disagree means you believe that something else is the greatest possible being and that could be anything, even nothing. The scale of reference is whatever you can come up with.

    However, if it does imply preference, and if preference is simply a feeling then you must admit that your preference is also a “good feeling.”

    I do not want to anthropomorphize the universe. That would be trying to prove that either the universe revolves around humans, or it is a lot like humans. Rather I want to show that the universe revolves around God, and was created by God. While Christians believe that humanity was created in God’s image, we also have no idea what that means and it is clear that most of the universe is nothing like humanity.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Then again you haven’t been able to find a logical, verifiable reason that you exist either. If you need a logical verifiable reason for Christianity (or God), why don’t you for existing? I have no proof that God exists, but my premises are not based on “feeling it to be true”, that comes later. Please stop saying that, just because you want that to be my reason doesn’t make it so. That specific argument is not mine, it is a classic ontological argument that I wished to share, and so the premises are not mine.

    The Christian God makes the most sense to me and here are a bunch of reasons why:
    That’s just a starting point. For much less thorough examples, and some different ones, check out wikipedia:

    The reason I post these is not to be lazy, but because for 1 they say it much better than I can and 2 they are really long. I must say that you will never find proof, though, of God’s existence, just like you will never find proof that you exist.

  • Your false choice is limited by the answer having to be in the subset of beings or god. The universe is self organizing as far as I can tell. All you need is energy and matter and they organize. It doesn’t appear to me that matter has consciousness or energy has consciousness. It appears that they are simply doing very predictable things based on structure and the nature of energy.

    And since the scale of reference is anything I can come up with means that it isn’t a logical premise, because logic is binary.

    Since you have no useful definition of god, we can’t test for that “god’s” existence in any kind of logical fashion.

    I don’t believe in god because I don’t have a useful definition of god and even if I did I have found no evidence for any god.

    Technically I am an agnostic. I don’t claim to know. You claim to know there is a god. I don’t see how you can claim that based on your argument.

  • Zachary Hankel

    We do now don’t we? I agree we came second. Through God’s shaping of the universe, we have been created as products of our environment. But this completely goes against your point of the universe being hostile to life. If the universe allowed us to start existing, then it must have been hospitable enough.

  • These are all various forms of the argument from complexity or trying to answer why is there something instead of nothing. These are all hypotheses. They are not proofs or evidence.

    They are “logical” within their assumption. They all end up being circular.

  • I didn’t say the whole universe was hostile to our form of life. I said most of it is.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Your first paragraph is a legitimate answer to the question, therefore making it not a false choice. For the question “is God the greatest conceivable being?”, “no, nothing is the greatest conceivable being” is a legitimate answer.

    The answer to the question “is God the greatest conceivable being” has infinite answers. The logical premise is a true or false gate, which makes it binary. You know this, you admitted that it was valid (or Jeff did, I’m getting confused).

    I have not presented a definition of God because I assumed we both had one. To humor you here is a definition: The supreme or ultimate reality, the being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe. That of course is a working definition, however it is useful.

    I’m a little confused as to which argument you are referring? My argument over all? Or the logical argument? If it’s the former it’s not a complete argument (i.e. I haven’t explained everything I believe) so of course I can’t claim belief in God solely on what I have said so far. If you’re referring to the latter, then I once again state that I presented it as an example, not as a stand alone reason to believe in the existence of God.

  • Zachary Hankel

    I agree that they are not proofs nor evidence, but I already said that. But how are they all circular? Not all arguments for God assume His existence in the first place. Please read the Argument from Time and Contingency and the Kalam argument form the twenty arguments article for such examples and there are plenty more.

  • Zachary Hankel

    I didn’t say that either, and sorry if it seemed like I was implying it. My point remains, the universe must have been hospitable enough to allow humans to begin existing.

  • Zachary Hankel

    They are absolutely comparable, as long as God exists. If God created the universe as it is, then He created us with limits to the choices we can make. If He created these laws or abilities (and I believe He did, and it seems like you have been arguing similarly), then technically our choices are limited by the will of another within the laws of the universe, regardless of whether or not free will exists.

  • Gary

    No I believe it is still very different. In the physical laws of the universe subset there are choices denied me (this we agree upon) based merely upon the fact that I am not omnipotent. But within the bounds of the choices we DO have, which exist within the natural laws, you stated that if God chose to eliminate negative consequences to choices which are within our power to make (I’m paraphrasing here) that it would not deny free will. Intervening in the outcome of my choices is not comparable to the fact I was not created omnipotent.

    I understand what you are saying. But I am still making a distinction in the case of outcomes. If I were to choose to commit suicide for instance, how would preventing the outcome of death not be denying my free will. If I intend to deliberately harm another…preventing such harm is denying free will. Not all harmful outcomes are the result of ignorance.

  • Zachary Hankel

    These choices are only possible in our current fallen world. I’m proposing that God could have created another world in which choosing to commit suicide is as strange of a concept as licking your elbow, where the laws of the universe make it impossible to make unhealthy choices. Deliberate or ignorant harm is not prevented in this world, there is no need to prevent it since it can’t exist. Does that make sense?

  • Gary

    Sounds like what most people imagine heaven will be. I know I know…God could have started with a heavenly existence. But I have to believe the knowledge of something less than perfection is part of the joy. Without pain I really believe there is no fulfillment. What you describe sounds like mindlessness to me.

  • Zachary Hankel

    No that is completely my point actually (not the mindlessness part). Without pain I don’t think there is any fulfillment either, but then that means we must have pain. Earlier you stated that you asked where your choice was in being fallen. My reaction to this statement is to embrace the lack of choice in the knowledge that we must have pain to know what fulfillment is.

  • Gary

    But it seems to me as if your are talking in circles. I believe we have a life designed for love and fulfillment. I see purpose in this and it is purpose for our benefit. It may be true we did not choose the way the world is designed…but to stretch that original lack of choice into some philosophical statement of we have NO choice is silly to me. It is not the logical progression of that original premise.

    This is what I see appearing in many of your statements…conclusions that make no sense to me, as if you appeal to the absurd . Like your response to the very valid argument that there is no proof that God exists. To seek to counter such a statement with the claim that we have no proof that WE exist is both false and silly.

  • You stated as a counter that the universe isn’t completely hostile to life. That’s a non issue since I never said that. My point was that we adapted to this little corner of the universe. The earth and the universe were not created for us. All the evidence points to the adaption of life to conditions on this planet.

    This is what we would expect in a universe with no god. There may have been a god who started everything, but I see no evidence of said god’s intervention in the universe. And I see no way of determining if a god started it. This is why some of the founding fathers of the United States were Deists. The universe seems to run on it’s own in very predictable ways.

  • Like Jeff P said earlier. You can’t argue something into existence. Your reference to my existence being unprovable is really an exercise in nonsense. It’s not useful to deny things that I can feel and touch. The link you seem to think exists between my existence and god’s existence doesn’t make sense to me.

    Since we are not all knowing we have to operate functionally with the reality we can perceive. That’s why I don’t claim that god exists. It’s not a functional belief since I don’t have the tools to verify or falsify. This is true of any number of imaginary beings and deities. This is the basis of the Russell’s Teapot argument.

    Because these beings are only present within philosophical arguments, which require presuppositions, the presupposition required has no proof, so the argument becomes circular from one non proof to another. The best you can get is internal consistency.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Ah, I understand what you mean now, thank you. And again, I’m not trying to argue something into existence, I’m trying to argue that something already exists.

    As to the teapot argument, non of my arguments have been based on the fact that you cannot prove that God does not exist. I agree that is nonsensical. Again, read the arguments I asked you to read, they are not based on that logic, rather they are based on reason. While it’s nonsense that a teapot might be floating somewhere around the sun that we can’t see, it is also not reasonable to believe in it. I’m saying that it is reasonable to believe that God exists.

    The link between your existence and God’s existence is simply proof. It is useful to deny the things you can feel and touch if you really want to undeniably know what is real. Of course that’s potentially not useful to live in this possibly imaginary world of ours, but it is useful if you want to know. If I understand that I don’t actually exist, then my focus on the meaning of life switches from “what it means to me” to “why have I been given this imaginary sense of meaning” for example.

    As far as the functionality of God goes, there are a few ideas. One is that it is greater to have an ultimate being give you purpose than to have self given purpose. Another is that pure altruism in the sense of servant-hood, like the kind described by Jesus, is greater then the evolutionary altruism we have developed over time. There are more but I’ll stop for now. While these are not verifiable they are functional, I do not think they have to be verifiable to be so.

    Your same argument to either verify or falsify in order to believe goes against the idea of believing you exist. While you have the senses, you cannot verify or falsify your belief in them, it isn’t possible. While you did state that “we have to operate functionally in the reality we can perceive”, the reality you can perceive cannot be verified or falsified. If you still dislike this comparison to the belief in God, take it as a stand alone argument in a different debate. I still think it is very much related, but to each his own.

  • Zachary Hankel

    You said “Suffering exists because the universe is no respecter of species or of life.” My response was to mean that the universe respects species and life enough to allow it to begin and continue.

    Just out of curiosity, what do you think started the universe?

  • Zachary Hankel

    My embracing of lack of choice is not at all completely based on the fact that we didn’t have a choice in the way the world was designed. My base in the belief of causal determinism is scientific, reasonable, and observable. The universe looks like its deterministic. I’ve said this already, to me it seems you’re looking at my latest argument and thinking that my entire belief in everything is completely based on that argument. I know it isn’t a logical progression of that original premise, it wasn’t supposed to be. Rather it is a reaction to something I’ve already embraced.

    As far as my response to the idea that there is no proof that God exists (which I have admitted before and admit now), why is it silly and false? It cannot possibly be false, that word doesn’t even make sense when considering this specific argument. If it isn’t reasonable to believe in God based on the fact that we cannot prove His existence, then it follows that this is based on the idea that it isn’t reasonable to believe in something that we cannot prove exists. We cannot prove we exist, and yet we believe that we do. If it isn’t reasonable to believe God exists because His existence can neither be falsified nor verified (as cardw pointed out), then it isn’t reasonable to believe that we exist because our existence can neither be falsified nor verified. The 2 beliefs are on the same continuum when considering proof. To restate it a different way, we cannot use our gifts of sight, sound, and touch to prove that we exist, the same is true for God. To put it yet another way, here it is in a logic statement.

    Premise 1: It is unreasonable to believe something we can neither prove nor disprove.
    Premise 2: We can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God.
    Premise 3: We can neither prove nor disprove our own existence.
    Conclusion: It is both unreasonable to believe that God exists and unreasonable to believe that we exist (from 1, 2, & 3).

  • Gary

    We agree that we cannot prove God exists (or that He doesn’t) but I reject the notion we cannot prove our own existence. Scientifically, by all the standards of proof utilized within science, we certainly can prove we exist.

    In your logical statement above, I find both Premise 1 and Premise 3 to be false and therefor the logical statement to be fatally flawed.

  • Zachary Hankel

    Good to know what you reject. As for premise 3. Science can only prove that we exist by assuming we exist already. Science is based on our observation, which must assume that we are there to observe, which assumes our existence. Science cannot prove nor disprove that the world which we through science try to explain is imaginary. Therefore science is a bad means to try and prove our existence. It’s trying to prove your existence based on observation when you can’t prove or disprove that the observation is real.

    As for premise 1. I too reject this premise. If you reject the idea that it is unreasonable to believe something we can neither prove nor disprove then my guess is you believe the opposite. Therefore it is not necessarily unreasonable to believe that God exists under these stipulations. That is my understanding anyway (again, don’t mistake this to be my only reason).

  • There is nothing to suggest that the universe allows or disallows anything. You are anthropomorphizing the universe. If you want to function in this universe you have to adapt to it.

    I don’t have an opinion on what started the universe. It’s possible the universe has always been here. I don’t find any rational method available to us today that would allow anyone to know that.

  • Zachary Hankel

    So you’re saying you don’t know yet, right? If so, I can understand that point of view.

    If I’m anthropomorphizing the universe it’s out of following your own example. You were the one who gave the characteristic of respect to the universe, something that seems solely human. Me saying the universe allowed anything was not to be taken literal (as is the same for you I’m sure), rather it was to follow the same tone you were giving.

  • The implication of the universe not respecting life is that there is no conscious universe there. When you state the universe makes some kind of choice then you are suggesting the universe or god is taking an active part in life, instead of life adapting to what is unconsciously here. The context of this conversation is your attempt to show evidence for god, and my position is that there is no evidence for said consciousness.

    I think you are smart enough to understand context without bogging the conversation down in these inane tangents. I think I’m done.

  • Zachary Hankel

    I’m ok with being done, I’m forgetting the original argument anyway. There are quite a few tangents and I’m going in 3 different directions with 3 people, all of which seem to have their own tangents.