Some Tough Questions

Here are some tough questions for the Christian, depending on his or her particular theology:

Can God be surprised? Surprise is the basis of laughter. Can God laugh?

Can God think? Thinking means weighing alternatives. But if God knows everything then can God think?

Is God metaphysically free? Did God ever choose his character and his moral standards? Does God ever know what it is to make a choice?

Is God Good?

If God didn’t need anything, then why did he create us? To say God’s nature is love and he wanted to share his love with us doesn’t help for two reasons, 1) Most of us will end up in hell, which means he knowingly created heaven for the minority on the screams of billions of people who end up in hell; 2) If life was already perfect for God, then God did not need to share any more love with anyone else. Why break this purported perfect harmony for the pain of dealing with us and the pain of those who end up in hell?

Once God decided to create us, if he planned everything in advance as the Calvinist believes, or if he foreknew everything would happen with certainty, then why bother creating us? What’s the point?

What is the basis of God’s foreknowledge?

If God gave us free will and he knew we would abuse it so badly, then why give it to us? Isn’t it incumbent for the giver of a gift to be responsible for whom he gives that gift? And isn’t the giver of a gift blameworthy if he gives gifts to those whom he knows will abuse those gifts? Should we make drugs available to 8 year olds and alcohol available to 6 year olds? Would you give a razor blade to a two year old?

Can God create free creatures who always obey? For the Calvinist this would’ve been no problem, so why does it bring God more glory to decree what we see here on earth and later in hell, than one where we always obey? For the non-Calvinist Christian, what is different for those in heaven such that they will have free will and never disobey? Will there be sin and another rebellion in heaven? Why not? And if God can make people obey in heaven then why didn’t he first create us such that we always obeyed here on earth too?

Did God foreknow that Adam and Eve would sin? If so, then he would also know in advance the reasons why they chose to sin. And if he knew in advance what those reasons were, then he could’ve corrected them and/or provided them more evidence to believe him. If, for instance, Adam and Eve needed more evidence that God meant what he said if they eat of the fruit, then couldn’t God have given them more evidence, like he purportedly did to Moses and Gideon who both doubted? To withhold this needed evidence is to be at fault for doing nothing to help Adam and Eve in their temptation.

Why didn’t God create us with a propensity to dislike sin? We have an aversion to drinking motor oil. But we could still drink it if we wanted to. Why couldn’t God have created in us an aversion to sin like we have an aversion to drinking motor oil?

Why did God create the universe with a big bang and the slow long evolutionary development of galaxy, star and planet formation, and then all of a sudden “switch gears” and instantaneously create Adam & Eve in an instant? Was it harder to create the universe than the peak of his creation such that it took him billions of years to create the stuff of the universe but a snap of his fingers to create the apex and crowning jewels of his universe?

Why is a supposedly omniscient and completely understanding God so barbaric, even allowing slavery, knowing full well the suffering people would experience because it wasn't one of his ten commandments: "Thou shalt not own slaves nor buy and sell them for profit."

Why is a supposedly omnipotent God not able to stop the 2005 Indonesian tsunami that killed a quarter million people before it happened? If he had stopped that underwater earthquake from happening none of us would have known that he did and hence he wouldn’t have revealed himself in any ways he might not have wanted to. Since all it would have taken is a “snap” of his fingers to avert that tragedy then isn’t he morally responsible for it? If we were God we would be morally obligated to do so. Why isn’t God? And if he is morally responsible for it, then he wanted it to happen for some greater good. That’s right, he wanted it to happen. What is the greater good here?

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Here's another good one by Dagoods. How is it that one member of the trinitarian Godhead can intercede on our behalf with another member of the Godhead? Does one member of the trinity, Jesus, know or want something that God the father doesn't? see here.

17 comments:

Bahnsen Burner said...

John: "Did God ever choose his character and his moral standards?"

This is a very topical question indeed. Christians say their god was not created, that it is eternal, that it has always been what it is and is forever immutable. This means it could not have chosen its character, for its character has always been. And if its morality is based on its character (as they say, morality "reflects" their god's character), then it did not choose its morality, either. So its own character and moral standard is out of its control. It's just by chance that it has the character it has, and it's just by chance that its morality is premised on its character. There's no cause to its character for it has always been. And there's no reason why it has the character it has for it was not selected from a set of alternatives. Their god is just a fluke, nothing more. And given its immutability, it's stuck with the character it has - it can do nothing to improve itself. Of course, Christians will say there's no room for improvement. But just reading a few pages of the bible will be sufficient to disprove this. Anyone who thinks that the god of the bible could not have made better choices should never become a parent. Woe to that man's sons and daughters!

Regards,
Dawson

King Aardvark said...

Those are some humdingers, there. A lot of them you couldn't really answer even if we were sure God did exist. When you start dealing with absolutes like "unchanging", "eternal", "all-knowing", and "all-powerful", logic starts to break down (which may be a good indication that it's a load of hooey).

Anyway, I've decided to take on your first question over at my blog:

http://inthenuts.blogspot.com/2006/07/stupid-answers-to-snappy-questions.html

tigg13 said...

I'd like to add a couple of questions of my own, if I may.

Why didn't God send Jesus to the Garden of Eden to teach salvation right from the start; or to Noah, either before or after the flood?

Why didn't God have the Hebrews conquer Egypt instead of Canaan? What with its fertile flood plains and all but plague decimated society it would have been so much better for them.

Why did God want Hell to be such an awful place? He could have turned it into anything He wanted; an endlessly long line, a redemptive and educational school, a place of endless sleeping... There are so many more humane ways of dealing with non-believers, why would he chose suffering and torment as the best way?

Thanks

Scott said...

Everyone who calls themselves an atheist should check out The Atheist Test at http://ecclesia.org/truth/atheist.html immediately! Seriously, read it and still have the nerve to say, "I know everything there is to know in the universe and I can say for sure there is definitely no God!" without looking like a fool or an unacknowledged agnostic.

Blu_Matt said...

Scott said:

"Everyone who calls themselves an atheist should check out The Atheist Test at http://ecclesia.org/truth/atheist.html immediately! Seriously, read it and still have the nerve to say, "I know everything there is to know in the universe and I can say for sure there is definitely no God!" without looking like a fool or an unacknowledged agnostic."

One word: coconut.

Even Comfort distanced himself from his own ridiculous banana ("atheist's nightmare") argument on The Hellbound Alleee show, calling it "tongue in cheek". It seems strange to think that he didn't seem to be 'joking' when he was frothing at the mouth at the chance of "proving that a god exists".

The rest of the arguments are just as ridiculous and prove nothing. It'd be a small task to change the "doesn't know" arguments to "know", and submit "God" appropriately, and you'd have arguments that are just as bogus.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Scott,

I looked over the page you linked to, and I will examine it more closely when I get time (I printed it out, so I should be able to do this on the train later). From what I have already seen, however, it is most unimpressive. Take for instance the following question: "If man cannot begin to make a human eye, how could anyone in his right mind think that eyes formed by mere chance?" What exactly is this question trying to ask? I certainly do not think that "eyes formed by mere chance," if by "mere chance" the questioner means "without cause." Sure eyes were formed by a causal process, namely a biological process. Biological causality is not "mere chance." What relevance does the fact that men do not create eyes have here? Theism posits that everything in the universe was wished into being by a supernatural consciousness. But what evidence is presented to support this? What experimentation has been conducted to validate such a "hypothesis"? The paragraph with this question goes on to say "man cannot make anything from nothing." I agree. We have no evidence of something coming into existence "ex nihilo." So why should we believe the claim that an invisible magic being created the universe "ex nihilo"? See my Basic Contra-Theism for additional points. The paragraph concludes by saying that "the eye is only a small part of the most sophisticated part of creation - the human body." But where is the claim that the body was supernaturally created validated? I don't see it. Where's the argument? I do not see that any argument has been presented.

Essentially, what little argument there may be here needs to be pieced together by the reader for the author, who does not venture to make his reasoning more explicit. Basically he gives nothing better than what is called an argument from incredulity, which is a common fallacy in theistic apologetics, based on a loaded assumption implying a false dichotomy. The false dichotomy is implied in the supposition that eyes were either supernaturally created by an invisible magic being, or they were "formed by mere chance." Then upon this dubious bifurcation the author dismisses the horn of the dichotomy which affirms that eyes were "formed by mere chance" simply because he thinks it's too incredible to believe, and the author's preferred version of theism is thus supposed to prevail. That's how it reads: "It's just too preposterous that eyes were formed by mere chance, so it must be that they were created by an omniscient deity!" Such pseudo-reasoning can easily be enlisted by Christianity's rivals by swapping out Christianity's god and replacing it with a competitor. The Lahu tribesmen could, for instance, use the same kind of reasoning to validate their belief in Geusha, the supreme being that they worship.

That anyone would find such embarrassingly careless "argumentation" satisfying for their theistic worldview must not be very concerned with truth.

Consider another statement in the article you linked to, Scott. It reads: "The declaration 'There is no God' is what is known as an absolute statement. For an absolute statement to be true, I must have absolute knowledge." Essentially he's saying that one would have to know everything to know that there is no god. Apologist Ron Rhoads attempts to use similar reasoning in his Strategies for Dialoguing with Atheists (see my response to Rhoads here).

But does anyone need to "know everything" in order to know that there are no square circles? Or, are you going to say that no one can be sure there are no square circles unless he were omniscient? This type of reasoning ultimately reduces to the dichotomy that one must either have all knowledge or he doesn't know anything, which is prima facie false. I don't know everything, but there are many things that I do know. I know that I am typing this comment, for instance. Notice how the kind of apologetic being pawned off here ultimately reduces to crass skepticism. That's not unusual to find in apologetic arguments since they are intended to defend a view which essentially considers the human mind invalid anyway.

The author tries to put the declaration "there is no god" on equal footing with the statement "there is no gold in China." But this is most deceptive. The supposition that there may be gold in China in no way contradicts what I know of reality, while the notion of a god contains a fundamental contradiction of what I know of reality in its affirmation of metaphysical subjectivism. I have ample evidence that both gold and the nation known as China do exist. My wedding ring is made from gold, and I have been to China, and I will likely be going to China again in November. But I have no evidence to suggest that a supernatural consciousness created the universe. Indeed, everything I know about consciousness and the relationship it has with its objects completely repudiates such notions, and there is ample evidence that believers in the supernatural fail to distinguish between reality and imagination when it comes to their god-belief claims.

So, I will continue to examine the paper you linked to, but so far it's striking out quite dismally.

Regards,
Dawson

Francois Tremblay said...

Hey Scott, Alleee and I already got Ray Comfort to renounce his banana argument on our show. You're a little late, buddy.

http://www.hellboundalleee.com/archives.html
Show 103: Going Bananas with Ray Comfort

DBULL said...

In addition to trying to debunk Christianity, I would encourage you to try to debunk satanism as well. Many of you spent years in christian ministry and have walked away from it. I can tell you that Satan does not hide himself from those who worship him like the Christian God does. If you are really such skeptics, dive deeply into satanism, give it an honest personal, experiential chance. If you are convinced that the devil does'nt exist then you'll have a stronger position to say that neither does the Christian God. When you find out that the devil is real however, what will you say then? If you dare, ask demons to come into your life and prove themselves to you. Give yourselves over to them, if they don't exist, whats the harm? When you find out that demons are real, what will you say then? Are you afraid to do this? Why? If you are not afraid to do it, why not do it? How bold are you really gentlemen? What's that fear in the pit of your belly telling you? If you guys want to be honest atheists, not just argumentative ones, go give satanism a try. I dare you.

exbeliever said...

If you guys want to be honest atheists, not just argumentative ones, go give satanism a try. I dare you.

What does this even mean? How does one "give satanism a try"? I believe in Satan as much as I believe in the Easter Bunny. I can't make myself believe he exists.

What do you want me to do? Say some Satanic prayers, draw a pentagram?

I'll play your stupid game. Just tell me the rules.

Here's a start: "Oh, Lord Satan, please enter my life today. Make me a true believer in you that I might do your bidding. Come and possess me now!"

Oooohhhh! Boy was that spooky!

bookjunky said...

Actually, I am quite certain someone can experience Satan in their lives. In exactly the same way they experience God. That is, through the amazing power of the human mind and imagination.

exbeliever said...

You guys and gals will never believe what has happened since I prayed to him.

Absolutely nothing.

Not Reformed said...

DBULL, you just made my night.

Best. Post. Ever!!!!

Quoth the Bull:

"In addition to trying to debunk Christianity, I would encourage you to try to debunk satanism as well."

That is a novel idea!

"Many of you spent years in christian ministry and have walked away from it. I can tell you that Satan does not hide himself from those who worship him like the Christian God does."

Please share the juicy details with us! Pictures? Testimony? Dare I say, proof?

"If you are really such skeptics, dive deeply into satanism, give it an honest personal, experiential chance. If you are convinced that the devil does'nt exist then you'll have a stronger position to say that neither does the Christian God. When you find out that the devil is real however, what will you say then?"

Here's is my first attempt at contacting the dark lord:

Dear Satan...I BELIEVE in you. Your power is great...you rock. Please, show us proof of your existance. Cause DBULL's head to sprout 2 horns in your honor!

"If you dare, ask demons to come into your life and prove themselves to you. Give yourselves over to them, if they don't exist, whats the harm? When you find out that demons are real, what will you say then?"

I guess I'll say, "Sweet! Now, where's all of the money, women, and power that satanists are supposed to get?"

"Are you afraid to do this? Why? If you are not afraid to do it, why not do it? How bold are you really gentlemen? What's that fear in the pit of your belly telling you?"

There's something happening in my belly now, but its more of an ache from the laughing I'm doing at your supposedly terrifying challenge.

"If you guys want to be honest atheists, not just argumentative ones, go give satanism a try. I dare you."

I accept the dare.

Lord Satan, show me the way. Take me tonight, to the river, and wash my illusions away!

tigg13 said...

Dbull, just how stupid would satan have to be to play along with this hair brained idea of yours?

"Gee, I've already got a lock on all of these non-believer's souls, but, since they are seriously asking for demons and devils to invade their lives, I'll go ahead and give them solid proof that Christian theology is 100% right."

Oh, and, by the way, has anybody noticed how none of the christians are responding to John's questions?

Rich said...

"Can God think? Thinking means weighing alternatives. But if God knows everything then can God think?"
So thinking would include weighing present situations with past ones and making a judgement. Even knowing everything to have to weigh alternatives would mean knowing his own comandments and knowing wether or not you followed them and judging where to send you. So I wold say yes to thinking because thinking doesn't become nonexistant because you know everything. Each situation would have unique circumstances that would require a thought process for judgement.

"Is God metaphysically free? Did God ever choose his character and his moral standards? Does God ever know what it is to make a choice?"

If God knows everything then he would know what it is to make a choice. He still has to make choices all the time. Doesn't this fall in line with can God think? If he can think then he can make choices.I heard it said that it is easier for us to believe that God has always existed as God. The alternative is that he was once like us and became God through the same process we are going though now. If God didn't always exist then what was before that? Who was first into existance as a being? For us it is inconcievable to think there wasn't a beginning and inconcievable to think there was beginning all at the same time. If there was a beginning then what was before that, nothing? If true then all this something so complex can't possible come from nothing stance that creationist believe sure takes a hit. Meaning their God came from nothing right?
As far as metaphysically free, I'm not sure I totally grasp the metaphysics. I was reading wikipedia about the topic and it see to suggest to me that free will is a problem for metaphysics so I'm not sure that it is possible to be metaphysically free. I really can't say much there because I don't feel real comfortable with my understanding of metaphysics.

rdlb said...

I have found myself to be still a skeptic at heart and remain a believer,
if that is even possible. In other words, when I read the Bible and run into those difficult passages, it occurs to my mind, “how can this be?” (I.E., light before the sun, moon and stars are created). It would seem to me that a very real God would have thought of that before He includes this information in His book (Bible).

I have been a Christian for over three decades and cannot be changed back to my former atheistic self. I have several personal reasons that tore me away from atheism, an out of the body experience where I was spoken to, “keep my word”. Several months later, a man I had never met gave me a personal prophesy and in that, I was spoken to again, “and as I told you before, keep my word”. Because of my embarrassment of this “out of the body” experience that my wife and I only were aware of, I dared not tell anyone.

How do I sic ‘keep my word” when Genesis reads the way it does in the first chapter? I began through much study of this book, outside of Seminaries, and discovered to me at least a clue behind the scripture segment, …,Ps 36:9 in thy light shall we see light. that opened to me the idea of the first verse of Genesis 1:3.

With that, I offer the following links, as I did not want to offend this blog’s hosts with sermonettes but wanted to read also opinions on the links. I will save you to my favorites and will watch if you post this, I will not be offended if this is not considered.

With respect to you and yours,
rdlb

My blog site: http://rdlb-spirit.blogspot.com/

The first link is a short read. http://www.swedenborgdigitallibrary.org/contets/es.html

The following links can be difficult reads.

http://www.swedenborgdigitallibrary.org/contets/es.html

http://www.heavenlydoctrines.org/ “The Doctrine of the Lord”, “Imputation and the Merit of Christ”.

paul said...

DagoodS,

Thanks for the compliment. You are so exhaustive in your approach to a subject it's usually hard to find something to add except affirmation!

I have the same relief from deconverting. Christianity was like living in a maze. I actually find it's easier to 'be good' now because my motivation is visable instead of unseen.

Actually, I get a headache reading all of Romans, a true rollercoaster. We're not quite off the hook on the marriage issue with Jesus' death, I guess because he also arose from the dead. While there is no giving in marriage in heaven, the church is Jesus' bride...don't forget the marriage feast. So Christians are betrothed. I don't know how these other scriptural facts fit in to Pauls comments. Don't get me started on Paul and marriage.

SuperSkeptic said...

I have had many tussles with my faith (and equal tussles with atheism) over the years. Many of these questions are what led me to question in the first place, and they are what continue my search. I was going to respond to some of these questions based on my thought process today, but most of the answers were simply “I don’t know.” Many Xians might say that we as humans simply can’t understand the nature of God, which, if God exists, is probably true. However, most of these points simply make no logical sense; the part of me that still wants to be Christian is forced into the “ya gotta have faith” defense much sooner than I’m comfortable with.

For instance, the “Is God good?” question brings about the old argument that at least one of the following statements must be false: 1) God is good; 2) God is omnipotent; 3) bad things happen. I think many evangelical Xians don’t believe #3: they believe everything is good, some things just seem bad because we don’t understand God’s Master Plan. That thinking runs completely counter to our senses and our perceptions, and leads us to not trust our senses or follow logic.

As the Religious Tolerance website states, there are many strong indications that the Bible is not 100% true. The further you dig into questions like these, the crazier you have to sound in order to defend the worldview that God exists and the Bible is inerrant. All of these questions can be answered with, “We can’t understand the nature of God.” But I’m really uncomfortable with that answer for so many important questions. I guess I would be a lot more comfortable with it if, like rldb, I felt that I experienced direct personal contact with God.

Also -- Thank you for the links, rldb. I am glad there are Christians who comment thoughtfully and respectfully, acknowledging their personal experience with the supernatural, and not engaging in personal attacks on the athiests who run this site. I doubt (ha!) that it will change many minds here--including mine--but I appreciate it just the same.