Does God Have the Moral Right to Do Whatever He Wants To Us?

Here's a question I received via e-mail: "I was recently having an argument on the morals of God when I came across an interesting theory on ethics which I am having a little trouble refuting. It says that God created us and therefore has the right to do whatever the **** he wants to us. Comparisons to Hitler and Stalin were made, but they said that neither of those two were the Creator of anything, and therefore it was inadequate. I asked if, since the mother makes the child, does she have the right to kill him? The reply was that she did not create the original matter, God did. Am I really stumped here, did I fall prey to a mind game, or have they just created an unfalsifiable argument? I know there was a recent post on NO MAGIC BULLETS!, but I honestly can't find a way around it."

My response:

The short answer is that if God created us then he can do whatever he wants to us. But that doesn't make him a good God. Goodness means at least treating people as you would want to be treated, and such a God would have no respect for us as human beings. We are worse than a proverbial ant farm to him. God would be the ultimate Josef Mengele, experimenting on us and torturing us for his own purposes. That's the kind of God that's being defended here, and it's very repulsive.

As a human in God's ant farm I have every reason to object to his treatment of us. I have every right to rebel and try to thwart him (even if futile) just like a captive person who has been kidnapped has every right to escape and to harm his capturers. And if this is the case I have every reason to deny him, to reject him and to cease believing in him. Let him do to me as he wants. He will anyway. It would be my way of rebelling against the biggest bully in town. He has no moral right to treat us this way, even if he claims that he does. He doesn't have any moral right from my perspective, and that's the only perspective that matters to us as humans if he causes us to suffer.

However, the actual situation is that the presence of the amount of suffering in our world stands as evidence against the existence of any God, from our earthly perspective. If such a God existed he would be incompetent, lame, and ineffective. It's the handiwork of a buffoon, a duffas, a dimwit. Come on, why would he create such a world that has so many faults, like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, poisonous creatures and plants? Why not create us with better immune systems to diseases which have wiped out whole civilizations in the past? Why did he create the whole predator-prey relationship in the first place? All creatures could've been created as vegetarians and kept that way with reduced mating cycles so there is enough vegetation for all.

Christians who respond by saying that suffering is God's punishment for our sins fail to understand that the so-called punishments do not fit the crimes. Even our own system of punishments is more humane in how we treat criminals.

40 comments:

Chris said...

The whole point of the Bible is God's sovereignty; his right to rule over his creation. The fall from grace was man's assertion that it is our right, not God's to rule. He has for a time let man do what man insisted on doing in the Garden; govern himself. As we can see from history, man cannot rule himself successfully, let alone others.

You are simply saying he has no right to rule. Even if you say he doesn't exist, you have said that he has no right to rule.

You're objection to the whole arrangement is a little like this:

Your neighbor has thrown a party and invited you over. As you enter you notice that classical music is playing and he's serving shrimp kabobs, caviar and champagne and his chairs are arranged around a shady tree to promote intimate conversation. You quickly decide that this party is for losers and immediately change the station to rap music, order a pizza and throw the chairs into the pool.

Whose party is it, yours or your neighbors?

John W. Loftus said...

Chris. What if there are people being killed and tortured and starved to death and raped and women forced into sex slavery upstairs in the house where this party is taking place?

Chris said...

You make my point. They've entered the party and have decided to throw the chairs into the pool.

Desolate-Paladin said...

Hello, John,

It's not a matter of falling prey to a mind game, just knowing how to annihilate Judeo-Christian "logic" (Now, THERE's an oxymoron if I ever heard one) in this matter. I got into this "tar baby" with Christians on my "Is God a Sadistic Monster" thread."Hey, if God want's to throw an 18 yr old girl into eternal fire, who are we to question that? He made her, and he can do what he wants to her! Besides, the little heathen slut probably deserved it!" Judas Priest. and these neanderthals wonder why I trashed their reprobate religion! The bible-thumpers are using a twist on the "might makes right" concept. The flaw in this, is that Christians claim God to be all-merciful, all loving, compassionate, Fatherly, yadda,yadda, yadda. They need to decide what side of the record they're going to play. They argue on one hand that God is the quintessential do-gooder, and then they say, "but if he wants to be a bastard, it's okay, because he's God!"huhhhhh??????In other words, if Christ, God in human form, wanted to rape and castrate a 5 year old boy, he could do it, since he created him! This is what Christians are ultimately arging, that God is autonomous and accountable to no one, no matter how atrocious his acts may seem. My position is that if I created sentient beings, with the ability to feel pain, think, reason, love, be hurt emotionally, etc, I would NOT take the attitude that I can do whatever I jolly well wanted to my creation, especially when I'm imposing laws of morality, compassion, charity, and behavior on this creation, and I hypocritically am unwilling to "practice what I preach". I remember when Data on "Star Trek:TNG" created "Lul" his android daughter, he asked Capt. Picard if he wanted him to deactivate her since he was obviously upset about being kept "out of the loop" when Data decided to create her. Picard's response was:"Data, this a new sentient life-form. You don't just shut it off!" It's sad when the humanistic writers of Star Trek have a better understanding of the value of sentient life than Christians. God may have the ABILITY to do what he wants to do to us, but to argue that is is morally acceptable for him to do to us whatever he chooses for no other reason than because he's the "Grand Poobah of the Universe" is ludicrous, inane, unintelligible, and just plain FREAKING STUPID!! If I incinerated a city because it's inhabitants were homosexuals, I'd be tried as a mass-murderer. When God does it, it's called "judgment"(is that what they're calling genocide and "ethnic cleansing" these days!?)If one can't see the hypocrisy and double-standard here, one must be either comatose or psychotic.

Desolate-Paladin

John W. Loftus said...

No I haven't Chris. It's the owner of the house who is throwing the party who is doing the carnage.

Dale Callahan said...

You are rightly troubled.

Why is it that we assume that there is a universal absolute standard for morality apart from the God who made us?

If so, what is this standard?

Why is it absolute, universal...and how do we know it?

Bahnsen Burner said...

Dale,

Do you think man requires morality to begin with? If you answer yes, can you explain why you think this? What exactly is 'morality' on your view (what's your definition, and where did you get it?), and why exactly does man need it? What is the consequence of not having morality? What is morality supposed to accomplish for man?

Once we have an understanding of what you mean by 'morality', then perhaps we can move on to your other questions.

Regards,
Dawson

Chris said...

John - In your view, what is God's purpose for doing indiscriminate carnage? Caprice? Whimsy? Something more sinister? How come its easier for you to believe this version of reality than it is to believe the story that God tells of why evil exists?

John W. Loftus said...

There's that objective moral standard objection again.

Let's say that you're right about this, that there can be no absolute apart from a belief in God. So what? Who needs it? I mean really, who needs it?

Christians claim to have an absolute standard in a historical conditioned document purportedly from God, but since it's a historically conditioned document they disagree on what they should do all of the time. And even when they agree that we should "love" one another, it doesn't help them know what to do with specific cases, even on a personal level (should we punish her, or forgive her?).

Besides, the modified divine command theory is so fraught with problems that even on a theoretical level it solves nothing. And even if it can be defended, and I don't think so, such an absolute standard does nothing to help the Christian know how to behave. Which ethical commands follow from accepting the modified divine command theory of ethics? Even if someone accepted it, she could still deny that the Bible is from God, like I do. Natural law ethics places us all on the same ethical plane, since ethics can be discovered by us all, in the natural world, if true.

Then there are the many civilizations of the past which did not have any Christian influence, and by the standards of their day were great civilizations. Surely, you as a Christian would deny these great civilizations had an absolute ethical standard. And yet they did just fine without your standard.

We are all in the very same ethical boat, except that Christians claim to have an absolute objective standard for their behavior. Go ahead and keep claiming that all you want to. Go ahead and claim the high ground here all you want to. But such a claim is hollow and makes no difference in how we live our lives.

If I'm wrong show me where. The Christian can do whatever she desires believing that God understands and will forgive. You know this is true. Explain how a Christian can have an affair for years and still profess Christ, if this isn't true? Just saying she knows right from wrong doesn't cut it here, because she's doing what she believes is right, i.e. having the affair and believing God understands and forgives.

For me, I cannot turn my character on and off like a faucet, following the late Louis P. Pojman. So I deny myself instant gratification all of the time in keeping with the benefits of having a good character. The benefits of having a good character include friendship, a livelihood, internal peace, a nice family, and a good reputation. And these benefits are shared by people regardless of whether or not they claim, like you do, an objective absolute or universal standard for behavior.

People who do not want the benefits of having a good character abound. But it's not limited to people who don't have an objective standard for morality.

John W. Loftus said...

Chris....John - In your view, what is God's purpose for doing indiscriminate carnage? Caprice? Whimsy? Something more sinister?

Why do you ask? You tell me why God allowed the Indonesian tsunami which killed a quarter of a million people and then later allowed an earthquake to take even more of their lives. Suggest something reasonable here such that a grieving mother may understand. Suggest something reasonable here that woul exonerate you if you were God and could easily do something about it and did nothing at all.

How come its easier for you to believe this version of reality than it is to believe the story that God tells of why evil exists?

Conitue reading this blog and you'll know.

Chris said...

I am just starting to read this blog. I was hoping to get some understanding from you since it was your post that prompted my question.

Who says God "allowed" anything to happen. Why do people build houses on earthquake fault zones? Is that God's fault? When Mt Ranier finally blows and the whole city of Seattle is decimated will our righteous anger be directed at God or to the city founders who felt it wise to put a big city in the wake of potential danger? My guess is that you will find a way to blame God rather than chaulk it up to imperfect human understanding. When San Francisco was rebuilt after the 1906 quake on the very same fault line that leveled it, was it God's decision to do that? Will it then be his fault when the city is once again leveled?

Where do we get such notions of God's culpability? Are we incapable of accepting responsiblity for our own actions? Where in the bible does it say that you will be protected from natural disaster? I missed that section.

Hellbound Alleee said...

"As we can see from history, man cannot rule himself successfully, let alone others."

I'd like to see some backup of this. What failures to rule ourselves are you talking about? If there's a God, isn't he ruling us? Since when has God decided to stop ruling us? If so, then what do you mean by "ruling ourselves?" Do you mean bad government, (which is one group ruling everyone else) or do you mean that you assert that an individual cannot rule himself? Do you have proof of this?

As far as I can see, what you're saying is that God has done a piss-poor job of ruling us.

John W. Loftus said...

Chris, thanks for reading this blog and for responding.

After the Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, LA, someone suggested that people shouldn’t have lived there in the first place. But where on earth can we escape from all of the potential evils out there? We may instead move into a tornado zone, or one prone to earthquakes, floods, fires, or the like. While we try to escape from one evil we run smack dab into another. By escaping a hurricane we get bit by a brown spider, or fall prey to a parasite, or a fatal plant, a poisonous creature, a ravenous wolf, a fire, and so one. And even if there might be one safe place on earth, then such a place would become overcrowded which would result in other kinds of suffering because of the overcrowding.

John W. Loftus said...

What if I had created an elaborate maze with trapdoors, falling blades, faulty walls that collapse on a whim, etc? Then I place human beings in there; a very dangerous situation. Now if a blade falls on them, or any other disaster, do I have any blame for putting them in a system that has such hazards? Of course I would. But this is what we find in this world. And this is the situation that is not compatible a kind, caring omnipotent father/creator God.

Chris said...

Allee,
I ask you what system of human government has ever been truly successful? If you say Rome, I say look at the countless millions it killed and enslaved. If you say Macedonia, I say the same thing. The USA, of which I am a resident, is modern day Rome, building an empire based upon a theory that might makes right and an insatiable appetite for wealth at the expense of other nations. Inevitably one man's success leads to another man's failure. One nation's success comes at the expense of others. Man dominates man to his injury. There is no government on earth today, nor has there ever been where righteousness dwelled. Can you name one? I cannot.

Francois Tremblay said...

"The short answer is that if God created us then he can do whatever he wants to us."

Why? There is no moral principle I can see that applies here. Moral agents are moral agents regardless of whether they were created or born.

With the eagerness even atheists have in submitting themselves morally, I can only imagine what kind of slavery we'll inflict on androids...

Dale Callahan said...

Dear Dawson [Bahnsen Burner]

I don't believe that I need to first define morality or if we really need it...because the people on this blog are already assuming some type of morality exists...a morality that God is being judged by.

The question I am asking is where does this standard come from?

And why is any standard binding on God or anyone else?

Dennis said...

To summarize John's post:

If we put John and God on a "Goodness scale", John would win.

God doesn't act and behave like John would, therefore he doesn't exist.

I wonder if John would forgive someone who willfully killed his son?

Luke 23:34: 'Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'

Bahnsen Burner said...

Dale: "I don't believe that I need to first define morality or if we really need it...because the people on this blog are already assuming some type of morality exists...a morality that God is being judged by."

Don't you think that the conversation could only benefit if we clarify what we're talking about? Or, do you think it's better to leave key terms undefined and unexamined for some reason?

"The question I am asking is where does this standard come from?"

Well, until we're clear on what we're talking about, how is one going to be able to answer such questions?

"And why is any standard binding on God or anyone else?"

I'm not sure what you mean by "binding," as this is not a term that I would use in a discussion regarding morality. I see morality as a guide. The use of the term 'binding' here suggests that you think of it as some kind of restraint. This is why I think it's important to put our respective definitions on the table, otherwise the only likely outcome of such conversations will be deeper misunderstanding of each other's position. So, for the moment, my questions to you remain unanswered.

Regards,
Dawson

Bahnsen Burner said...

Dennis: "I wonder if John would forgive someone who willfully killed his son?"

I strongly doubt that John would condemn his children and all their offspring for a single act of disobedience. John, am I correct?

Regards,
Dawson

John W. Loftus said...

Francois Tremblay, I was making a distinction between what God might have the power to do ("can") and what we would hold him morally responsible to do.

John W. Loftus said...

I strongly doubt that John would condemn his children and all their offspring for a single act of disobedience. John, am I correct?

Absolutely!

DagoodS said...

Sorry for the time it took for me to answer this e-mail question.

The statement that “God has the moral ability to do anything with His created” may be consistent for a theist but not for a Christian. To respond, all one has to do is point out all the other areas, in Christianity, in which a moral limit is placed on God, and question how we go about determining which areas God is limited or not. Due to the lack of verification, there is no way to do so.

This is just the Christian’s self-serving attempt to resolve the problem of the Tanakh atrocities, which will be quickly and immediately abandoned when discussing the salvation of the New Testament. Thus demonstrating its weakness as a defense.

Look, presume that since we are God’s created, He can do anything with us, including killing us, or torturing us for an eternity.

This would also mean that God could break any promise He made to humans. Could God curse the ground again and destroy every living thing? (Gen. 8:21) If the Christian is holding to the premise that God can morally do anything to his created, then the answer is yes.

What about God, then, lying? Well, if God can kill, murder, rape, and torture his created (he can do anything remember) how do we make the determination that he could not lie to them as well? What morals is God limited to?

Jesus: “Let’s go down and kill all the Midianite males, all the boys, all the children, all the mothers, widows, grandmothers, older girls, take the Virgins for our chosen people to be forced wives and plunder the Gold and silver.” (Numbers 31)
YHWH: O.K., But make sure we don’t lie to them!

Or, what if God decides to clean out heaven, and replace it with all the souls from Hell? Remember, he can do anything with his created. Or if God decides that he won’t provide salvation to any, and sends everybody to hell. Remember he can do anything with his created.

What if the New Testament was all one big tease, in which God wanted to see how many humans He could con into believing this big lie, so that on the day they die, he can see the look on their crest-fallen damned faces, sent off to hell? Remember God can do anything with his created.

At this point, the Christian cries out, “God wouldn’t do THAT!” and then we must find out how a person goes about determining what Morals God ”must” abide by, and which ones he must not.

(‘Course that then introduces a whole new can of worms under Euthyphro, as to why there are certain morals God must abide by.)

The response is simple—point out the inconsistency within the position itself.

Dale Callahan said...

The Bible teaches that God is the King, the Lawgiver and the Judge.

There is no moral standard above God and God didn't arbitrarily create morals.

God's character is the standard of morality.

God is Spirit [immaterial] and is infinite.

This infinite Spirit created a material world.

He governs this world by His Almighty hand.

Because He is the King and Lawgiver we have a universal and absolute standard of morality and not just a "every man doing what seems best in his own eyes".

Because He is the Judge then His laws are binding...meaning...there will be blessings for faithfulness and the fruit that flows from it [good works] and there will be curses for unfaithfulness and the fruit that flows from it [rebellion and disobedience. But His commandments are not "empty" laws with no consequences to them.

At this point you really shouldn't have to know what I believe to answer the question brought before you. You should be able to just answer by what absolute standard of morality is God being judged as good or evil?

The reason why I didn't come out and share any of my beliefs is because I find that atheists are usually very good and be the prosecuting attorney, but very poor at defending their own beliefs at the grass roots level.

Apart from what I believe is there a moral standard, that is a must for the whole universe, that God or anyone else must keep or pay the price?

Phoenician in a time of Romans said...

Where do we get such notions of God's culpability?

Omniscient. Omnipotent. Interceding.

Pick any two, but if you pick all three, then he's culpable for *everything*.

The Bible teaches that God is the King, the Lawgiver and the Judge. [...] You should be able to just answer by what absolute standard of morality is God being judged as good or evil?

Your argument is based on the assumption that the Bible is correct in its unsupported assertion that God is the King, the Lawgiver and the Judge. Since atheists and agnostics do not agree with this assumption, your argument is thus irrelevant. How much validity do you give arguments based on the Qu'ran?

Would you care to restate your argument so it does not rest on this assumption?

Dale Callahan said...

No I wouldn't care to restate my argument at this time.

I do not agree with your naturalistic assumptions either so whatever you say really means nothing...very immature argumentation.

You have beliefs that I don't agree with and I have beliefs you don't agree with.

No matter what my argument is I still haven't heard anyone try to explain from their beliefs by what ultimate standard God is being judged.

What I hear you guys saying is "Let's just assume a standard and never see if "it" holds water.

Then when someone challenges us on this standard we ask them what their beliefs are and head down a million and a half rabbit trails...always keeping away from our own weak points."

God does not leave Himself to be defined by unbelieving rebels.

No wonder you come to your conclusions when you come up with the definitions for God's attributes.

I read in one of the earlier comments "God can do anything right?" and then went on spewing out moral sins that God is guilty of.

The Bible doesn't define God's Omnipotence as God being able to "do anything at all".

Some people think they are being so profound when they ask...Can God make a rock so big that he can't life it", thinking that in their brilliance they have won the day.

God can do what ever He wants to do. But God cannot lie, He cannot deny Himself, He cannot cease being who He is.

You guys have cheap parlor game tricks to sucker in the evangelical because they moved away from many of the precious,historical truths that makes Christianity strong.

But your arguments are by no means powerful or profound.

Dale Callahan said...

I do wonder how many of the ex-Christians on this blog came out of wishy-washy circles of Christianity.

Some educated unbeliever comes along and challenges your "at the time" beliefs and they are found wanting.

Instead of checking out to see if there were better arguments for the Christian faith you toodled off to apostate land...

John W. Loftus said...

Dale, what you just said is pure poppycock. You don't know us, so you can go on assuming we're ignorant. But we're mot at all. We have come to "see" things differently, that's all. Such a comment by you merely tells me you are uneducted.

Joe E. Holman said...

Dale Callahan said...

"I still haven't heard anyone try to explain from their beliefs by what ultimate standard God is being judged."


My reply...

I sware, people make the simplest of things the most difficult! It's astoundingly simple!

The standard by which we condemn the gods (all of them) is the standard of the senses; we have nerves that tell us when a thorn or a knife rips our flesh, when a bullet mames us or poison sickens us. These nerve signals tell us that damage is being done to our bodies, hence, wrong is being done, things that should not be done, things that should not have happened (that's essentially what an injury is).

A woman need only have bare minimum brain function to know that when she is forced into a staircase of a building and sodomized by some deviant lowlife with herpes, who forever ruins her life, evil has been done.

In every one of those countless cases where diseases, poisonous plants, and parasites kill, the senses tell us evil has been done against us by nature.

God could have done better. He could have created a planet that doesn't need to breathe and level cities with volcanic eruptions, etc.

Even in those cases where accidents happen, like falling off a latter, or burning our skin on a hot stove, an omnipotent creator is still at fault because being infinite in every ability and power, he could have prevented such mishaps, no exceptions.

It does not take much imagination to realize that an indescribably better world could have been made for us, one where the laws of reality are so divinely specific that even basic laws (gravity, light, etc.) could be tailor-made to never inflict harm.

Remember, he's an infinite god...one who can never raise an excuse for why something doesn't happen according to the plan!

So by the same logic that you would sue an elevator company for constructing an elevator that fails and results in injury or death to the occupants, we "sue" the tyrant you call a benevolent creator.

The jury of intelligent humanity judges this god who could have prevented these things, but chose not to, as being guilty of unspeakable crimes against humanity.

Like I said, it's astoundingly simple.

(JH)

Bahnsen Burner said...

Dale: "I do not agree with your naturalistic assumptions either so whatever you say really means nothing...very immature argumentation."

Dale, I asked you to define your key terms, specifically the term 'morality' and any accompanying terms which make this term meaningful in the sense that you mean it. You have refused to do this. I also asked you to weigh in on the matter of whether not man needs morality, and if so, why. I've not seen you address this question. These questions are fundamental to the concerns you have raised, so until you clarify your assumptions, how is there to be any profitable discussion? You do want a profitable discussion, do you not? Perhaps you've not considered my questions before?

Also, I'd be surprised if you really did not agree with our "naturalistic assumptions," Dale. We assume that if we do not eat, we will eventually whither and die. In fact, there's good naturalistic evidence to support such assumptions, and we act on them everyday. Do you not eat?

Dale: "No matter what my argument is I still haven't heard anyone try to explain from their beliefs by what ultimate standard God is being judged."

Dale, I reserve the right to judge any and all actions that an agent chooses to take. Understanding why I judge specifically chosen actions would require you to understand how my worldview answers the questions I have posed to you. My worldview has answers to these questions, but I typically do not see Christians giving very clear answers to them, and what's more, the answers that one Christian gives is often quite different from what the next Christian gives, implying that there's no clear understanding within Christianity - unless of course they keep the matter vague and obscure it with all kinds of declarations about their god. I do not find the word 'morality' in any of my bibles, so I don't know what a biblical definition of 'morality' would look like.

If the actions you think your god has taken are actions which it chose to take, then they are subject to moral evaluation. Since it is customarily supposed by Christians that their god chose to take the actions they attribute to it (they would not want to say their god was forced into taking any particular action, for instance), then we have a number of questions to ask. For instance, what served as this god's moral guide? Well, given what I understand by morality, and given what Christians claim about their god, it wouldn't make sense to me to suppose that such a being had any use for a moral guide in the first place. Again, what you mean by morality and what I mean by morality are quite different. At best, your god would be amoral - i.e., morality simply wouldn't apply since its generic qualities could only mean that it wouldn't need morality in the first place. But yet it still is said to act by choice. What serves to guide its choices and actions? It could not be a code of values which serves to guide its choices and actions, for it has no need for values in the first place. Values pertain only to living things which face a fundamental alternative: life vs. death. But since Christians say their god is immortal, they're saying that it cannot die, and thus it does not face such an alternative. Consequently, saying that such a being serves as "the standard of morality" as you have affirmed, simply commits the fallacy of the stolen concept: you're asserting a concept while denying its genetic roots. The qualities you have attributed to your god disqualify it as any standard of morality whatsoever. That's my view. You've not presented any reason to prefer yours over mine.

Dale: "What I hear you guys saying is "Let's just assume a standard and never see if "it" holds water."

Actually, this is what I see you doing, Dale. You've come here with all kinds of loaded assumptions that you're unwilling to define or make clear. You've had the opportunity to make your premises explicit, and you've been expressly invited to do so as well. But you've refused to do this.

Dale: "God does not leave Himself to be defined by unbelieving rebels."

The "unbelieving rebels" as you call us, are not the ones asserting the existence of something called "God" in the first place. It is up to those who seek to defend such a notion to supply their own definitions. If you do not define your terms, perhaps that is because ultimately your words are meaningless. Or, it could simply be that you've not given this matter much critical thought in the first place.

Dale: "No wonder you come to your conclusions when you come up with the definitions for God's attributes."

It sounds like you agree then that some of the conclusions expressed here are reasonable conclusions. Now, if the issue here is moral culpability, you apparently want to have your cake and eat it, too. You assert on the one hand that your "god's character is the standard of morality." It's not clear what this means, and you've not defined your terms. At the very least it suggests that your god's choices and actions would serve as the supreme moral model. But then, when it comes to the issue of culpability, you do not allow your god any moral responsibility. It allegedly created everything, but it's not responsible for what it created. Suppose a man created an indestructible robot capable of robbing banks and killing unarmed citizens, and then let it loose in the city streets. By the end of the day 30 banks are robbed and 400 people are dead because of the robot. When the inventor of the robot is then questioned, he says "I'm not responsible!" That's what I see Christians saying: their god created everything, and yet they do not want to hold their god responsible for anything their god's creations do (Van Til even tells us that "God controls whatsoever comes to pass" DoF 160). And yet we're told that this is a perfect creator. This would imply that its creations are perfect, otherwise we'd be wrong to call the creator perfect (for a perfect creator does not and cannot create imperfection). A standard of morality? It couldn't be further from the truth.

Dale: "Some people think they are being so profound when they ask...Can God make a rock so big that he can't life it", thinking that in their brilliance they have won the day."

What a topical question! See here.

Dale: "God can do what ever He wants to do. But God cannot lie, He cannot deny Himself, He cannot cease being who He is."

Sounds like human beings have many abilities that your god does not have. Also, if your god is supposed to be the standard of morality, and it cannot, as you say, "deny himself," why does he condition discipleship on men denying themselves (cf. Mt. 16:24)? Here we have as a moral injunction something that is said to be utterly alien to the standard of morality.

Dale: "You guys have cheap parlor game tricks to sucker in the evangelical because they moved away from many of the precious,historical truths that makes Christianity strong."

Christianity is a black hole, Dale. It swallows human minds after breaking their spirits. We have broken free. Many resent us for this. It makes their blood boil that we walked away and regained our humanity. It is we who have been restored, Dale.

Dale: "But your arguments are by no means powerful or profound."

You mentioned this word "profound" a couple times now. Can you present what you would consider a "profound" argument?

Regards,
Dawson

Bahnsen Burner said...

Dale: "I do wonder how many of the ex-Christians on this blog came out of wishy-washy circles of Christianity."

Why would this matter to you? Isn't your god in control of everything anyway? If you want to get sore at anyone, why not direct your resentment to your god? By condemning the situation, you yourself are implying that things could be better. And who controls the situation, according to your worldview?

Dale: "Some educated unbeliever comes along and challenges your "at the time" beliefs and they are found wanting."

Actually, that's not at all what happened in my case. I was taught to shun unbelievers unless I was in a position to weild a proselytizing upper hand. Otherwise, "come out and be ye separate," and "do not be unequally yoked" with those of the world were the operating injunctions. On the contrary, my departure from Christianity became inevitable when I chose to be honest to myself. Those who chose to remain dishonest remained in the church pews.

Dale: "Instead of checking out to see if there were better arguments for the Christian faith you toodled off to apostate land..."

Really bugs you, doesn't it?

Regards,
Dawson

Bahnsen Burner said...

Chris asked: "Who says God "allowed" anything to happen."

Greg Bahnsen for one. Consider his solution to the problem of evil: "GOD HAS A MORALLY SUFFICIENT REASON FOR THE EVIL WHICH EXISTS."

Chris asks: "Why do people build houses on earthquake fault zones? Is that God's fault?"

On my view, human beings are autonomous agents. They make their own choices. But on the Christian view, "God controls whatsoever comes to pass." (Van Til, DoF, 160)

Chris: "When Mt Ranier finally blows and the whole city of Seattle is decimated will our righteous anger be directed at God or to the city founders who felt it wise to put a big city in the wake of potential danger?"

If I thought there was an all-powerful god which "controls whatsoever comes to pass" in the world, I certainly could not blame the city founders for the forces this god chooses to unleash. On such a view, the city founders are mere puppets; they have no autonomy. They are only doing what the god chose for them to do. Like characters in a cartoon.

Chris: "My guess is that you will find a way to blame God rather than chaulk it up to imperfect human understanding."

My guess is that Christians will always try to find a way to evade the responsibility their claims would put on their god if those claims were true.

Chris: "When San Francisco was rebuilt after the 1906 quake on the very same fault line that leveled it, was it God's decision to do that? Will it then be his fault when the city is once again leveled?"

Greg Bahnsen answers this: "God controls all events and outcomes (even those that come about by human choice and activity) and is far more capable and powerful than modern machines." (Van Til's Apologetic, p. 489n.43)

Regards,
Dawson

Phoenician in a time of Romans said...

I do not agree with your naturalistic assumptions either

Fine with me. You seem to forget, however, that it is YOU making positive assertions such as There is no moral standard above God and God didn't arbitrarily create morals and Because He is the King and Lawgiver we have a universal and absolute standard of morality and not just a "every man doing what seems best in his own eyes".

God does not leave Himself to be defined by unbelieving rebels.

Positive assertion. Proof?

God can do what ever He wants to do.

Positive assertion. Proof?

But God cannot lie, He cannot deny Himself, He cannot cease being who He is.

Positive assertions. Proof?

You guys have cheap parlor game tricks to sucker in the evangelical because they moved away from many of the precious,historical truths that makes Christianity strong.

Or, alternatively, the "cheap parlor tricks" you refer to are the basic of logical argument, and distinguish a good argument from unsupported assertion.

Matthew said...

Dale idiotically writes "I do wonder how many of the ex-Christians on this blog came out of wishy-washy circles of Christianity.

Some educated unbeliever comes along and challenges your "at the time" beliefs and they are found wanting.

Instead of checking out to see if there were better arguments for the Christian faith you toodled off to apostate land..."

Geez Dale, I didn't realize that Christians could get more ignorant than I previously realized. If there truly are "wishy-washy" circles of Christianity that we supposedly came out of, that represents a big problem for you because what it means is that you have to work extra hard to make sure people understand what the best circle(s) of Christianity is before they join and also work on dismantling these "wishy-washy" ones. What are you doing to accomplish this? This isn't really an option for folks like you; you have an moral obligation to do this, if you think about it. After all, you're an image-bearor for Christ, so you have to help make sure that everyone sees the best image of Christ.

Secondly, John is right on target here: you don't know any of us and I especially find your condenscension absolutely appalling because it suggests that you are intellectually and morally superior to us. If an "educated unbeliever" came along and challenged our faith and our faith collapsed like a house of cards, waht are you doing to combat these educated unbelievers? What about the fact that most critical Bible scholars were once Christians who renounced their Evangelical past? Robert M Price, Michael Goulder, Gerd Ludemann, Bart Ehrman, etc..., and the list goes on. Doesn't sound "wishy-washy" and uneducated to me.

And how the goddamned hell did you determine that none of us checked to see if there were better arguments for the Christian faith? How do you know this? I did precisely this. I read the arguments of Bill Craig, Gary Habermas, Mike Licona, and Robert "No Links" Turkel, and I am in the process of reading N.T. Wright. You cannot get any better apologetics than these folks, unless, of course, you happen to think that presuppositional apologetics is the "way to go!"

Please, enough with your self-righteous stench. Take your ego somewhere else and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Matthew

Dale Callahan said...

I must say that you all have a knack for "volume" when it comes to words.

But with your many words...and at time foul words from Matthew [oh my virgin eyes]...you have really said nothing.

As I said earlier, you are very well practiced in tearing apart other beliefs but don't answer for your own.

I am not saying that any of you are uneducated...you sound very intellectual...but that doesn't mean you are wise.

The only guy in the last few post who even tried to answer my question was "Jeholman" and his answer really fell short of the mark.


He said "The standard by which we condemn the gods (all of them) is the standard of the senses; we have nerves that tell us when a thorn or a knife rips our flesh, when a bullet mames us or poison sickens us. These nerve signals tell us that damage is being done to our bodies, hence, wrong is being done, things that should not be done, things that should not have happened (that's essentially what an injury is).

A woman need only have bare minimum brain function to know that when she is forced into a staircase of a building and sodomized by some deviant lowlife with herpes, who forever ruins her life, evil has been done."


How about when its a baby in mothers womb...does everyone say that putting the knife to that person is "evil"?

How about pre-marital sex? Does everyone say that is evil?

If you can discount certain "sins" because you don't view them as really evil then why doesn't some rapist have the same right to do so when he waits in the stairwell?

I do have to laugh...I the Christian, who do not rest in my own righteousness but in the righteousness of Christ...I am "self righteous" according to Chris' humble opinion. Chris who is so proud that he puts God before his judgment seat...boy oh boy what humility.

I will take Matthews advice though..and I won't let the door hit me on the way out...there will be no "wise" answers coming from this group anyway.

tigg13 said...

Wait a second Dale. I have a question for you concerning a statement that you made earlier that I think is central to this discussion.

Dale: "No matter what my argument is I still haven't heard anyone try to explain from their beliefs by what ultimate standard God is being judged."

Isn't Christianity founded on the concept that our whole existance revolves around the question of whether or not to believe in God, that God gave us free will in so that we could choose freely to believe in Him, and that it is our choice that will decide whether we will find salvation or damnation?

If so, how is one to make this choice without first judging the alternatives? And what else do we have to base this judgement on except our own subjective beliefs? The Bible? But thats putting the cart before the horse; we need to have faith in the speaker before we can accept the word. Besides, it is from the Bible that we learn of God's anger, His jealousy, His arbitrary and ambivolent mood swings and His willingness to kill, mame and torture without remorse.

If we do not judge God, then our choice becomes nothing more than a blind deference and is as meaningful as a coin toss.

So, according to your religion, God requires us to judge Him so that we may freely choose whether or not to accept Him. But, according to your argument, no one who does not already have faith in God has a valid standard by which to judge Him. If this is true, then it invalidates all of the free will choices that have ever been made concerning God since all those choises were based on incorrect judgements.

How can God make us responcible for the fate of our immortal souls if he knows that we have no valid standards to base our choices on?

bookjunky said...

After reading "Important: Read This" and spending some time here the last few days, I am truly disappointed that Matthew's rudeness was allowed to stand here. I thought this was one of the apparently few atheist blogs where a civil dialogue might take place. If atheists truly want to make any inroads against Christianity, don't we have an obligation to debate courteously? What changed your mind - logic and evidence, or someone telling you you were an idiot? It seems to me that one can make a point without being offensive.

beepbeepitsme said...

"Morality is of the highest importance - but for us, not for God." Albert Einstein

Michael Ejercito said...

Guess what? That is the God who reigns over us, and can not be overthrown.

Complaining about God makes as much sense as complaining about gravity. You are not going to repeal gravity, and you are not going to repeal God!

The two choices are obedience to God or eternal torment in Hell. There is no third choice.

Michael Ejercito said...

John,

God allowed the tsunami because He felt like it . No other justification is necessary. In fact, God does not have any duty to us at all.

The two choices are obedience to God and eternal torment in Hell. Whcih do you choose?