Bird Brain!

"13. Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? 14. Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust, 15. And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. 16. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not her's: her labour is in vain without fear; 17. Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding." (Job 39:13-17)

The truly amazing thing about this passage is not that God created a merciless ecosystem where certain animals are incapable of caring for their young, but the fact that the ancient writers, like most unobservant theists today, honestly did not give the matter a second thought! Characteristically, God-believers have always tended not to notice when heinously sadistic characteristics of the "nature" that God created are pointed out to them. Apparently they have willfully blinded themselves to the implications of God saying he knowingly created an inept creature who is naturally an unfit mother! Why on earth would your god do that, theists?

Population control? Maybe, but if that is so, it is not only wasteful and unnecessary (God could just lessen the amount of eggs laid), but not part of what this text says at all. It says she crushes them because she is stupid! She can't help it. She is profoundly stupid. She just doesn't know any better! God intentionally created what would be the inspiration behind the reference, "bird brain." God gave those much needed IQ points that were supposed to go to the bird to us, so we could speak eloquent flatteries to God and remind him of how great he is. I'm sure, if the bird was smart enough to contemplate her short-changed situation, she'd pray for wisdom.

It is a known fact that if a manatee mother has two or more calves, she will often leave all but one behind because she is incapable of counting past the number one. Like his mother, that lost manatee calf may not be very smart, but I'm certain it experiences the same sense of horror and distress when it is deserted as one of our own children would getting lost in a mall or being sent to an orphanage.

Apologists are content to dilly-dally with what they consider to be new and improved versions of various philosophical arguments and biblical textual evidences that "prove" the God of the Bible's existence. What they should do instead is take a step backwards and deal with simple but inexcusable problem passages like this one!

(JH)

22 comments:

Kaffinator said...

Stated formally,

P1. If God created creatures, he would necessarily have created them all with exactly equal mothering abilities.
P2. God created ostriches.
C3. Therefore God does not exist.

Or perhaps,

P4. God created some creatures that seem stupid.
P5. Holman cannot conceive of a reason God would create stupid creatures.
C6. Therefore God does not exist.

> What they should do instead is take a step backwards and deal with simple but inexcusable problem passages like this one!

If there is an “inexcusable problem” it is not the passage, it is the bizarre assumption P1 and the unwarranted weight you place on P5.

kraryal said...

Your reading of his argument is not exactly fair, Kaffinator.

To use your format:
P1:
P2: God is good.
P3: God will not create gratuitous cruelty.
P3: The Ostrich's mothering skills are a gratuitous cruelty.
C1: P1 or P2 or P3 is invalid.

I am not sure how one could rationalize this passage using inerrancy besides Divine Command theology. Without that, one could say that the author was making a rhetorical point based on faulty observations.

The Evangelical theology has very powerful attractors in it, causing people to simply skip over these type of questions.

-kraryal

kraryal said...

Pardon me. P1 should read "God exists."

Daniel said...

I'm not sure that most theists would have a problem with this, Joe. They could always claim that the "Fall" caused the degeneration of the ostrich into the stupid creature we see today, whereas, pre-Fall, it was a great mom, or something.

Theists can ad hoc anything to support special creation, and never mind the idea of "evidence".

I would say that this argument in the creationism vs. evolutionary theory arena may be more apropos. Of course, most of our visiting Reformed friends are special creationists, who get their biology from Answers in Genesis or the Institute for Creation Research, ignore summarily the lines of evidence for common descent, and invoke a "poof" whenever necessary to piecemeal their ad hoc versions of history.

For these reasons, as well as others, I decided not to waste my time trying to lay out a coherent scientific case for a cyclic universe.

Why cast pearls before swine, eh?

paul said...

Ed Babinski put together a great piece with many such examples as this. www.edwardtbabinski.us/babinski/designer.html

Daniel,
The fall being the reason for the Ostrich becoming heathen like in her demeanor just couldn't be used this time. God is making the case to Job here that this is how he created things...so there needs to be some different hoc added in this instance to make it okay.

Steve said...

The truly amazing thing about this passage is not that God created a merciless ecosystem where certain animals are incapable of caring for their young, but the fact that the ancient writers, like most unobservant theists today, honestly did not give the matter a second thought! Characteristically, God-believers have always tended not to notice when heinously sadistic characteristics of the "nature" that God created are pointed out to them. Apparently they have willfully blinded themselves to the implications of God saying he knowingly created an inept creature who is naturally an unfit mother! Why on earth would your god do that, theists?

Do what? Create an inept creature, or willfully blinded themselves to the implications of God saying he knowingly created an inept creature?
One might say that this is evidence of "A bunch of dumb asses without the ability to conjure up a forminable god!" Others may see this as "Telling the truth no matter how good, or bad it looks!"

Also explain "inept creature!"

Kaffinator said...

Hi Kraryal,

The Job passage describes the ostrich as relatively stupid (as evidenced by its lack of care for its egg), but also joyous (v13) extremely fast (v18). This is part of the larger point that God is here making to Job, that by creating such things God is necessarily greater than all of those things.

The point is not that ostriches are guilty of some sort of moral failure before God. They are how he made them. And just as they are, they testify to his power and wisdom. The same egg "cruelly" abandoned will be a blessed feast for some other creature.

Unless you assume it is appropriate to judge brute animals by the moral standards God revealed to man, for man, your fourth proposition fails.

Hi Daniel,

> They could always claim that the "Fall" caused the degeneration of the ostrich into the stupid creature we see today, whereas, pre-Fall, it was a great mom, or something.

I've heard that argument. I don't buy it either. Nothing I read in the Bible suggests that animals behave any differently as a result of human sin.

Daniel said...

Kaff,

You are right that there is nothing specific in the Bible re the Fall "degenerating" other creatures somehow. That doesn't stop creationists from invoking Romans 8 when they need to:
God gave Adam dominion over creation, so when he fell, the whole creation suffered—see The (second) greatest catastrophe of all time. This is taught in Romans 8:18–25, where the ‘whole creation’ is said to be groaning in pain, because it was ‘subjected to futility’. The late New Testament scholar Dr F.F. Bruce, then Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, affirms that this passage is indeed speaking of the Curse which fell on the whole creation—the entire universe—as a result of the Fall.3 Bruce also considered who ‘subjected the creation to futility’ and concluded that the text indicated that it was ‘most probably God’, and most unlikely that other commentators could be right when they suggested Satan or Adam.4

Another expert commentator on Romans, New Testament scholar C.E.B. Cranfield, likewise made it very clear that ‘creation’ in Romans 8:19–20 was universal: ‘the sum-total of sub-human nature both animate and inanimate.’5 Further, Cranfield explicitly states ‘[t]here is little doubt that Paul has in mind the judgement related in Genesis 3:17–19, which includes (v. 17) the words “cursed is the ground for thy sake.”’,5 thus relating the Fall to the creation outside mankind as well.6

Yet another commentator on Romans 1–8, James Dunn, wrote:

The point Paul is presumably making, through somewhat obscure language, is that God followed the logic of his purposed subjecting of creation to man by subjecting it yet further in consequence of man’s fall, so that it might serve as an appropriate context for fallen man; a futile world to engage the futile mind of man. By describing creation's subjection as ‘unwilling’ Paul maintains the personification of the previous verse. There is an out-of-sortedness, a disjointedness about the created order which makes it a suitable habitation for man at odds with his creator.7

Ross supporter Norman Geisler also affirmed that the Fall was a cosmic disaster. And more recently, Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey gave a good account of the biblical teaching of the origin of death and suffering in their book How Now Shall We Live?


They invoke the idea that the entire cosmos is fallen, even in their defense of how aliens would have been affected by Adam's Fall!!:
-- For man’s sake, because of Adams fall, all creation is cursed and subject to futility and ‘bondage to decay’ (Romans 8). Other civilizations, presumably sinless, would then have to share in the effects of this cursed cosmos.
-- Eve is described in the Scriptures as the ‘mother of all living’.
-- The final catastrophic judgment is described as one in which the very elements will burn with fervent heat, and in which the heavens and earth will be rolled away, passing away with a great noise, and no place will be found for them. Such a cosmic, universal catastrophe would mean that any other civilizations also would be annihilated in the same cosmic fireball (perhaps the very antithesis of the evolutionist’s favoured ‘big bang’).
-- It was on this earth that the Creator Himself became flesh, and bled and died for Adam’s hapless race—and because of His redeeming action, all creation will one day share in the effects of total redemption/restoration. For beings unrelated to Adam to share in the cosmic effects of both curse and restoration seems to ignore the whole thrust of Scriptural cosmology.


[rolls eyes madly]

Soooo...long story short, some creationists (mostly those of the intellectual vacuity to listen to Carl Baugh and Kent Hovind) do resort to using the Fall as an ad hoc device to invoke anytime God's creation appears, well, unGodly: creatures with incontrovertible anatomical vestiges and molecular ones...things like pathogenic microbes and parasites, etc. I don't want to get into a cre-ev debate on this thread, I'm just exemplifying the sorts of claims against which they quasi-argue a "cosmic" fall.

kraryal said...

Hello Kaffinator,

You are quite right that the fourth premise here needs support.
The ostrich is not guilty of a moral failing either; the point was to judge God by the standard we have for good.

If I step on an ostrich's eggs like the passage says, that would be a cruelty. God does that by proxy, having made the ostrich the was it is.

Kaffinator said...

Hi Kraryal,

Again, I think you’re missing the point of the passage. God is not pronouncing moral law with respect to ostrich eggs. If he always thought it was cruel to crack an egg then all omelets are sinful. But that’s just not what the passage teaches. It teaches that even though ostriches are pretty stupid, they can still outrun a horse and rider, and in that way they testify not to the greatness of the creature but the greatness of Creator.

Joe E. Holman said...

Kaffinator said...
"Hi Kraryal,

Again, I think you’re missing the point of the passage. God is not pronouncing moral law with respect to ostrich eggs. If he always thought it was cruel to crack an egg then all omelets are sinful. But that’s just not what the passage teaches. It teaches that even though ostriches are pretty stupid, they can still outrun a horse and rider, and in that way they testify not to the greatness of the creature but the greatness of Creator."

Friend, you're doing just what I said in the article theists do when confronted with these problems. You are choosing rather to view the passage's main message rather than the implications it carries.

To be blunt, this text almost seems like it belongs in a stand up comic's routine. The passage starts out talking about God being responsible for the animal as a testimony to him, then it takes a sudden bizarre turn and starts talking about God making her stupid, things that any thinking person would not take credit for.

Can you imagine Oreck trying to sell a vacuum this way, by talking up it's suction powers, and THEN talking about how it sprays dust out at your feet towards the floor???!!!

I pointed out that just like you, the superstitious people back then took no issue with this. It doesn't matter to them that God did a bad job creating a ridiculous animal. They gloss over the bad to see the good, just like a duped audience a "psychic's" misses and cling to his hits. Theists hear what they want to hear.

You just don't want to get it. We atheists point out to you that Earth is one planet spinning in space which is habitable for life, unlike all the chaotic rest of it, and you theists turn around and tell us how great god is for creating it, without addressing the fact that there are dead, useless planets out there! We atheists ask why God created germs and deadly viruses, and you theists point out how God made a system that depends on other organisms. This won't work. Since you are obviously one of God's self-proclaimed spokesmen, you must answer these things or admit you can't. Don't try to gloss over it.

God intentionally made a stupid bird. He could have done better with no loss to him, but he didn't. This is sort of like a mechanic who knowingly produces an otherwise power computer with only 25 mergahertz! My objection is valid and should deeply concern you if you are a thinker. This bothered me even as a theist. I can remember reading it for the first time and thinking "What?"

You've got a lot to answer for, a lot indeed!

Oh, ...and for your information, eating the eggs of another species is a human thing, not divine at all. I don't believe a god (if he existed) would intend for his prime creation man to consume the eggs and milk from another species! This was part of man's evolution. Had nothing to do with a ghost's will for us.

(JH)

kraryal said...

See, this is why the contributors write the blog and I just comment on it. Mr. Holman has encapsulated my argument better than I could; I will be quiet now.

-kraryal

Kaffinator said...

Hi Kraryal,

Actually I think your argument (P1-P4) was more defensible than Holman’s post. But since he has decided to addresses us I will now turn to his words.

> Friend, you're doing just what I said in the article theists do when confronted with these problems. You are choosing rather to view the passage's main message rather than the implications it carries.

Yes, I am. Focusing on the main message of a passage is what we call responsible hermeneutics. Let’s say I focus on your statement, “she will often leave all but one behind because she is incapable of counting past the number one.” I could dispute this assertion because nobody really knows whether manatees can actually count or not. But that would not deal with the message you are conveying, would it? You’re asking me to do the same with Job and I don’t see any profit in it.

> To be blunt, this text almost seems like it belongs in a stand up comic's routine.

Who says the Bible isn’t allowed to be funny now and then? But you might have something here. There is something rather comical about a bird too dumb to know its egg from a rock, yet is easily able to outrun a horse and rider.

> It doesn't matter to them that God did a bad job creating a ridiculous animal.

I still don’t know where you get this assumption that God is somehow obligated to create all creatures with exactly the same characteristics, or that it’s fair to apply a human sense of morality to judge the lives of beasts. That’s not what the Job passage says, and it’s not what I or other Christians do. Is it an atheist thing?

> We atheists point out to you that Earth is one planet spinning in space which is habitable for life, unlike all the chaotic rest of it, and you theists turn around and tell us how great god is for creating it, without addressing the fact that there are dead, useless planets out there!

Yes, we praise God for having provided for us in this unique way. I guess you’re saying that inhospitable plants are supposed to bug me?

HOLMAN’S MOM: Happy birthday, honey! Open it!

HOLMAN, 8 YRS OLD: (rips open package) Wow, an Atari 2600! … Wait. Mom, you’re horrible.

MOM: What?

HOLMAN: Well, there are at least six other kids on our street who want one of these. Did you get one for each of them too?

MOM: Well…no.

HOLMAN: So, I’m supposed to be thankful when you can’t even give gifts to everyone the way I think you should?

MOM: If that’s your attitude, young man, then I’ll just bring it back to the store (grabs for box)

HOLMAN: (pulls box away) No, I’m going to keep it--but don’t you think I’m going to be grateful. That would be totally inconsistent.

MOM: ???

HOLMAN’S DAD: I told you we shouldn’t let him read that awful John Loftus book.

paul said...

"A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." Proverbs 12:10
Is it to much extrapolation to expect the same behaviour from God?

Or perhaps the life doesn't begin in the egg and it was just a type of abortion.

Kaffinator said...

Paul, for God to be God you expect him to what, exactly? Miraculously prevent any ostrich eggs from being broken? Is that right?

paul said...

Hiya Kaffinator,
(If you deconverted would you become dekaffinator?) :)

"...for God to be God you expect him to what, exactly? Miraculously prevent any ostrich eggs from being broken?" silly me.

well, what I was pointing out was that God deems it righteous for a man to care for his animals, so why wouldn't he hold himself to the same standard? Yes, it really is hard for me to comprehend an all knowing, perfect, loving God, who says animals are important (not one sparrow falls without his permission)purposely creating a stupid bird that aborts its' own offspring. The two just don't line up. Kind of like salt water coming from a fresh water spring. I'll grant you there are much bigger issues than the ostrich, but Gods hand is not so short that he cannot save and deal with all issues. Why do you consider that foolish?
Do you imagine in the by and by, when the lion lays down with the lamb, that the stupid ostrich will still be squishing her eggs?

Kaffinator said...

If you converted, would you become Saul? :-}

> Yes, it really is hard for me to comprehend an all knowing, perfect, loving God, who says animals are important (not one sparrow falls without his permission) purposely creating a stupid bird that aborts its' own offspring.

Maybe careless ostriches are simply God’s way of feeding a few hyenas? Maybe God has a different purpose in mind for the ostrich than to be the Ultimate Exemplar of Righteous Mothering?

As for the ecology of the New Earth I have no comment, sorry.

Joe E. Holman said...

KAFF SAID: "Yes, I am. Focusing on the main message of a passage is what we call responsible hermeneutics.

MY REPLY: But not JUST the main message. It is possible for something to be implied and not directly stated from a verse. For instance, I Peter 3:20 says 8 souls were saved from the flood. Peter was not trying to refute those few modern theologians who believe God created a white pair of Adam and Eve, a black pair, etc., but this passage refutes that idea implicitly, and I'm almost sure you will agree. You believe that God created "kinds" of creatures and none evolved (I assume). Paul implicitly stated that he believed the same thing. "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of man, another of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds." (I Cor. 15:39). Paul is not specifically trying to refute evolution, but one can extrapolate from these words that Paul would disagree with that position. Same thing in Mark 10:6, "But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female." This was not written to refute the gap theory, but it does incidently if one believes the New Testament. It shows that whoever was behind your Jesus character believed that man was created 6 days after the universe itself. I suspect you know this, but will disagree on things like this ONLY when the bible proves to differ with your contemporary version of Christianity. I understand the principles of hermenuetics, and it is far from bad hermeneutics to pick up on and dig out deeper details in the scriptures. The very meaning of exegesis is to "draw out" the meaning of a chapter or verse. Your knowledge appears to be elementary.


KAFF SAID: Let’s say I focus on your statement, “she will often leave all but one behind because she is incapable of counting past the number one.” I could dispute this assertion because nobody really knows whether manatees can actually count or not. But that would not deal with the message you are conveying, would it? You’re asking me to do the same with Job and I don’t see any profit in it.

MY REPLY: Wrong, you have every right to call my facts into question. Manatees have been tested on this, and the consensus of tests showed that manatees cannot count past one. However, if you disagree with that, I have literally tens upon thousands of examples of cruelty and poor design in the natural world to draw from. The Booby bird mother only feeds the strongest and most enthusiastic young chick. The other is starved and forced to leave the nest. It quickly becomes food for any predator around. The list of such atrocities is endless. Animal suffering cannot be discounted. Yes, regardless of the truth of an example, you'd still be expected to get the gist of my words, but the fact remains that we judge someone by the words they use and the beliefs they hold. I hold your deity accountable for succombing to the savagry of the times, his admission that God made a product that could have been improved upon. This is a just and logical philosophical criticism. Despite your closedmindedness, we should make a big deal about animal suffering, and your god is to blame.


KAFF SAID: Who says the Bible isn’t allowed to be funny now and then? But you might have something here. There is something rather comical about a bird too dumb to know its egg from a rock, yet is easily able to outrun a horse and rider.

MY REPLY: Uh, we are not laughing with your god, but at him! This is very embarrassing. Yes, the bird is fast, but the fact remains that a better, more humane design could have been employed. Just like I said, you see the hits and not the misses, all the good and none of the bad.


KAFF SAID: I still don’t know where you get this assumption that God is somehow obligated to create all creatures with exactly the same characteristics, or that it’s fair to apply a human sense of morality to judge the lives of beasts. That’s not what the Job passage says, and it’s not what I or other Christians do. Is it an atheist thing?

MY REPLY: I'm not asking God to make all creatures the same or with a sense of strictly human cultural morality, but I am demanding that creation be done with compassion. In case you haven't thought about it, a prey feels a lot of pain when a furocious beast chomps down on it's hyde as it's trying to flee. In your theistic arrogance, considering yourself not an animal, but a higher being, you just assume god entitled them to suffer, but not you! Pain is pain, and a moose sinking in quiksand is just as terrible a thing as with any other sentient lifeform who can contemplate it's own sad demise. You are an animal just the same. I don't want you to suffer, nor them. Fact is, if a mad scientist could create in a lab a self-contained ecosystem, and deliberately made it so that larger lifeforms prey off the smaller, weaker ones, he'd be villainized by everyone and probably locked up, but God does the same with our world and he gets a pass for it. I have a feeling you'll strongly object with owners who are curle to animals, but you got no problem with God setting up a system where an old, sick zebra, who can't run fast enough, gets eaten by a big cat. Very strange, isn't it!


KAFF SAID: Yes, we praise God for having provided for us in this unique way. I guess you’re saying that inhospitable plants are supposed to bug me?

MY REPLY: You just don't get it. I'm asking you to explain why your creator, if he's interested only in human life and "soul saving", would bother to create a cold, barren, chaotic solar system, where 8 dead planets with useless moons, spin aimlessly and senselessly. What about all those other solar systems and galaxies? They serve no purpose for man. Only a few of the many stars out there can be seen without the aide of superpowerful telescopes. This speaks up for a naturalistic origin of the universe, not a divinely created one. Your god wastes space on unfathomable levels.


KAFF SAID:

HOLMAN’S MOM: Happy birthday, honey! Open it!
HOLMAN, 8 YRS OLD: (rips open package) Wow, an Atari 2600! … Wait. Mom, you’re horrible.

MOM: What?

HOLMAN: Well, there are at least six other kids on our street who want one of these. Did you get one for each of them too?

MOM: Well…no.

HOLMAN: So, I’m supposed to be thankful when you can’t even give gifts to everyone the way I think you should?

MOM: If that’s your attitude, young man, then I’ll just bring it back to the store (grabs for box)

HOLMAN: (pulls box away) No, I’m going to keep it--but don’t you think I’m going to be grateful. That would be totally inconsistent.

MOM: ???

HOLMAN’S DAD: I told you we shouldn’t let him read that awful John Loftus book.

MY REPLY: Regardless of how far you are willing to follow your cruel deity off a cliff, the avoidance of suffering is a universe constant with all life. Cultures and intelligence levels differ, but pain is a sensation of death and injury. it is never wanted. If this creator must create life as we know it, you bet your bottom dollar I expect there to be harmony in that system where the life god created is cherished and preserved.

I appreciate your willingness to defend your views. This is not a deep subject. It is quite simple. I think you can see what I'm saying, but refuse to allow your mind to consider it.

(JH)

Josh (joshster@epals.com) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rich said...

It is tough for us believers to justify everything in the bible. This time on earth is spent at a lower than perfect level of existance. Things are mortal. When the second coming of christ happens then things will begin to change, lions lay with the lamb, suffering comes to an end, peace reigns. The law of moses was a lesser law and was fulfilled in Christ and then love thy neighbor took over eye for an eye. We are progressing towards higher laws. It is rue that the fall brought about a great many things that didn't exist before. This will return to the garden of eden state. So while I agree that many things seem poor design and all the back and forth arguments will continue for a long time to come, we are in a fallen state and it does nood to be this way for us to prove that we will follow God without being in his presence. there are many terrible things that happen here and I can assure you that it pains God greatly to watch these attrocities but he has an eternal perspective that we don't, call it glossing over the issue but I can't explain it any other way. I'm not sure I did a very good job of explaining anything here anyway but I try. The biggest problem of all is that the bible is incomplete and not a completely accurate guide of Gods gospel. So many important things are just not found there. To rely soley on the bible will always keep us in trouble.

Kaffinator said...

Hello Holman,

Thanks for the response. I hope I will provide some welcome surprises for you in mine.

> But not JUST the main message. It is possible for something to be implied and not directly stated from a verse.

Yes, just the main message. But perhaps you are right and my thinking is simplistic. So let me quote from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics:

"WE AFFIRM that the meaning expressed in each biblical text is single, definite and fixed. […]

"The Affirmation here is directed at those who claim a "double" or "deeper" meaning to Scripture than that expressed by the authors. It stresses the unity and fixity of meaning as opposed to those who find multiple and pliable meanings. What a passage means is fixed by the author and is not subject to change by readers.
"

It seems I am in good company.

> For instance, I Peter 3:20 says 8 souls were saved from the flood. Peter was not trying to refute those few modern theologians who believe God created a white pair of Adam and Eve, a black pair, etc., but this passage refutes that idea implicitly, and I'm almost sure you will agree.

Sorry, I don’t. 1 Peter 3 is simply drawing an analogy between the power of the ark to save people from the flood, and the power of Christ to save people through an “appeal to God for a good conscience” (baptism). Verse 21 makes this clear. The author does not discuss whether the flood was local or global. So to draw such an inference makes the text say more than its author intended.

> You believe that God created "kinds" of creatures and none evolved (I assume).

"Assuming" is the whole problem here isn’t it? People assume that because Genesis describes a six-day creation, that it was attempting to give a newspaper-reporter version of history and indicate six 24-hour periods. I don’t make that assumption. Nor do I make any assumption about the mechanisms that God employed to unfold his creation, because Genesis does not really specify them.

In such matters I agree with Augustine,

"Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn."

> I hold your deity accountable for [succumbing] to the [savagery] of the times, his admission that God made a product that could have been improved upon.

Do you have any idea how absurd this sounds? How can you hold a non-existent deity accountable for anything? Ah but if you are going to critique my God’s existence then you must also adopt his complete sovereignty as part of your critique. It may seem cruel to you that squirrels have to die but it is part of God’s greater plan, very little of which are we even capable of understanding with our puny minds. That’s the whole point of God’s response to Job in the very chapter you quoted. But you seem to have missed this point, focusing as you are on irregular and ancillary inferences that are as silly as the flawed hermeneutic you used to draw them out.

Since you can't seem to make your critique of my beliefs consistent, let’s take a view from your chair instead. If “god” is that which created everything, then perhaps for you this is a set of physical laws (gravity, entropy, evolution, etc) which are somehow pre-existent and govern the universe. If so then your god is far more cruel and arbitrary than mine, for it inflicts pain, suffering, decay, and death upon all living creatures but for no purpose whatsoever. Perhaps you are merely projecting your frustrations with your own god upon mine.

> Yes, the bird is fast, but the fact remains that a better, more humane design could have been employed.

Well when you’ve create your very own cosmos you will have the right to tell everyone how things could have been done better. Until then you are a second grader arguing that 2 times 3 should equal 23.

> In your theistic arrogance, considering yourself not an animal, but a higher being, you just assume god entitled them to suffer, but not you!

If God entitled his own precious son to suffer, a son who said each of us must pick up our crosses to follow him, why would I assume I am immune to suffering? Suffering is part of this life and as long as you pretend suffering has no purpose you will live a stunted existence.

> if he's interested only in human life and "soul saving", would bother to create a cold, barren, chaotic solar system, where 8 dead planets with useless moons, spin aimlessly and senselessly.

Who ever said that man was God’s only concern? Just because I can’t conceive of a reason for “dead planets” does not mean God cannot.

> Regardless of how far you are willing to follow your cruel deity off a cliff, the avoidance of suffering is a universe constant with all life.

Is it not suffering to sacrifice my own pleasure and self-interests to better another? If so then that is a path I choose to follow, in imitation of my Lord. I’m very sorry you do not seem to understand this. I pray that some day, by God’s grace, you will.

Joe E. Holman said...

"Yes, just the main message. But perhaps you are right and my thinking is simplistic. So let me quote from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics:

'WE AFFIRM that the meaning expressed in each biblical text is single, definite and fixed. […]

The Affirmation here is directed at those who claim a "double" or "deeper" meaning to Scripture than that expressed by the authors. It stresses the unity and fixity of meaning as opposed to those who find multiple and pliable meanings. What a passage means is fixed by the author and is not subject to change by readers.'

It seems I am in good company."

Friend, you have made what should have been a simple exchange rather complicated. I understand hermeneutics quite well, but it is not required in this instance. Your quote is useless. I am not arguing for hidden meanings, alternate meanings, or secret undertones. We have both agreed that the Bible says God made a stupid bird. I am simply employing philosophical criticism to that and demonstrating that this was a dumb move on your sky spirit's part. It is philosophically justifiable to make such an accusation. It violates no analytical principle of rule of interpretation whatsoever. We both understand that God makes stupid things, now it's time to grow up and except an infidel's criticism of them.


In spite of your rather narrow interpretational hang ups, the bible implies a great many things that one is safe to gather...

John 20:10 mentions a napkin being laid over Jesus' face in his burial. Does this not, by implication, deny or make highly improbable the chances that the Shroud of Turin could be legit because if what John wrote was correct, his face would not have been directly contacted by the shroud at all? [They know the Shroud is a fake now, I use it just as an example]

Hebrews 9:27 says "It is appointed unto man once to die and then to face judgment". Does this not incidently refute the doctrine of reincarnation?

Discussing all this really doesn't matter, but I am curious to see how far you'll go in your claim that the Bible must be specifically addressing a point to say anything about it.


"Sorry, I don’t. 1 Peter 3 is simply drawing an analogy between the power of the ark to save people from the flood, and the power of Christ to save people through an “appeal to God for a good conscience” (baptism). Verse 21 makes this clear. The author does not discuss whether the flood was local or global. So to draw such an inference makes the text say more than its author intended."

Amazing! Just goes to show you can prove or deny anything by the bible! What I was trying to show is that if 8 souls were saved by water, that implies a number of things...a) that no less than 8 were on the ark, b) no more than 8 were on the ark, and c) none were saved outside of the ark (or the ark wouldn't have been necessary). This is just basic logic.

Yes, I'm 100% convinced now that your thinking is very elementary!

* Did you even stop to consider that the local flood position must be considered to be biblically false because if the flood was local, was God not smart enough to have his people just relocate to another place rather than go through the trouble of building some big boat?

* Did you even stop to consider that since local floods still occur all the time, killing people in our world, that your god breaks his promise not to send destroying floods every year?

If you're going to trust that vile book, maybe you should actually trust it to the extent that you start taking it's suggestions and implications like these to heart instead of trying to be cautiously modern to give yourself an out every time a skeptic accosts you on something!


"Assuming" is the whole problem here isn’t it? People assume that because Genesis describes a six-day creation, that it was attempting to give a newspaper-reporter version of history and indicate six 24-hour periods. I don’t make that assumption. Nor do I make any assumption about the mechanisms that God employed to unfold his creation, because Genesis does not really specify them."

I am not saying you are a literalist, but a Progressive Creationist. Most modern theologians do not believe God "ensouled" an ape to become a man. They believe God created the different creatures at different periods of time and define "kinds" to mean different animals: chimps, bonobos, apes, etc are all one "kind", but not man. They just divide up the terms as they see fit.

But nevermind the illustration, since you seem to think that unless the bible specifically addresses something, that nothing can be deduced from it.


"In such matters I agree with Augustine,

'Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.'"

OK


"Do you have any idea how absurd this sounds? How can you hold a non-existent deity accountable for anything?"

Yes, I can. Given that he exists (for the sake of argument), he has no excuses to screw up. He should be thankful you are representing him here today. He sure is silent!


"Ah but if you are going to critique my God’s existence then you must also adopt his complete sovereignty as part of your critique. It may seem cruel to you that squirrels have to die but it is part of God’s greater plan, very little of which are we even capable of understanding with our puny minds. That’s the whole point of God’s response to Job in the very chapter you quoted. But you seem to have missed this point, focusing as you are on irregular and ancillary inferences that are as silly as the flawed hermeneutic you used to draw them out."

Ah, I knew it! Special pleading was on it's way sooner or later! Now you want me to buy into the age old idea that God has a secret plan for things! Nope, won't do it, friend! You accuse me of drawing bad inferences, yet you don't know anything about which you speak. You've made that clear already. My article and the verses I quoted came straight from the Bible. They made sense perfectly. The only thing that was "silly" was your god's admitting to making a moronic bird!


"Since you can't seem to make your critique of my beliefs consistent, let’s take a view from your chair instead. If “god” is that which created everything, then perhaps for you this is a set of physical laws (gravity, entropy, evolution, etc) which are somehow pre-existent and govern the universe. If so then your god is far more cruel and arbitrary than mine, for it inflicts pain, suffering, decay, and death upon all living creatures but for no purpose whatsoever. Perhaps you are merely projecting your frustrations with your own god upon mine."

Now you should find this insulting. You just admitted that your god's universe and sovereignty in his creation can easily be passed off for one of chaotic death, directed by unintelligent causes! You admitted what I mentioned on my website: "if a god does exist, then he sure has made it seem like he doesn't!" That's precisely how I feel! You admit that not only does God make stupid birds, but he also makes contemptible universes.


"Well when you’ve create your very own cosmos you will have the right to tell everyone how things could have been done better. Until then you are a second grader arguing that 2 times 3 should equal 23."

More special pleading! We sorry humans are like that bird, just too stupid to understand! Theists love ad hoc reasoning like this: it's an escape hatch for you. When you run into something you are unable to make sense out of, you just claim man can't understand it!


"If God entitled his own precious son to suffer, a son who said each of us must pick up our crosses to follow him, why would I assume I am immune to suffering? Suffering is part of this life and as long as you pretend suffering has no purpose you will live a stunted existence."

Uh, the point is, none of us should suffer!! It is a universal constant to seek to avoid pain and death! Yet, your god constructed a universe where death and misery are the norm. And in case you didn't notice, you are the one pretending suffering has a purpose. I know that a child born with spina bifida is not intended to be a lesson to anyone. Get out of your Mary Poppins world of fantasy.


"Who ever said that man was God’s only concern? Just because I can’t conceive of a reason for “dead planets” does not mean God cannot."

More special pleading. Old folks would say, "Third time's the charm." No, deluded one. A distant moon, crashing into a dead, cold, barren planet is not "purpose" or "design" of any type.


"Is it not suffering to sacrifice my own pleasure and self-interests to better another? If so then that is a path I choose to follow, in imitation of my Lord. I’m very sorry you do not seem to understand this. I pray that some day, by God’s grace, you will."

Don't hold your breath.

(JH)