Anencepahlic Babies and the Problem of Evil


This article is to narrow down the Problem of Evil to one type of situation that I have not seen Christians provide a rationale for. Maybe I missed it because I wasn't reading carefully enough. In any case here is the chance for Christians to resolve this once and for all, to provide something they can proudly point to on this blog as an unequivocal victory.

P1. God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent
P2. God is Good.
P3. God permits suffering because it creates a greater good
C. There should be no suffering that does not add value to the greater good.

Anencephaly is a lethal birth defect characterized by the absence of all or part of the skull and scalp and malformation of the brain. (answers.com)
Anencephaly from Wikipedia.

As far as I can tell, the couples that have had anencephalic babies were average people. Some of them appear to be persons of faith. They exercised their free will and they wanted to have children. The woman did nothing intentionally or inadvertently that would have caused this. The babies were carried to term and they typically live up to three to five days before they die. While it is true that there is no perceptible suffering on the babies part, there is suffering on the part of the parents and family. What value to the greater good could this possibly add? And if it is for "soul building", then why doesn't something similar happen to everyone? For most people I think it can be said that having a baby is a joyous time.

This webring is a tribute and place where people who have had this happen to them support each other.
Anencephalic Angels I provided the text of the first page as an appendix to this article.

As far as I can tell the only defense is to Appeal to Ignorance/Appeal to Mystery. It can be argued that we don't have enough information to say anything about Gods goodness. It can even be argued that God defines goodness, and our definition is flawed. But be careful when you do that because you are establishing a principle that can be used to show that it is impossible to know anything about God with any certainty. If the problem of Evil is the fault of Man, and started in the Garden of Eden by disobeying god, or if the story of A & E is metaphor for mans natural condition, then mans tendency to disobey God makes it impossible to know anything about God with any certainty.

If
P1. man caused his own fall through the exercise of freewill and disobeyed God,
P2. And as a result or initial condition man is prone to sin,
P3. And God wrote the bible through man,
P4. And The bible scriptures are the only accepted authority about God
P5. And Man is prone to mis-interpret the bible as evidenced by the multitude of theological disagreements,
P6. And There is no standard except Jesus by which to measure proper knowledge of God,
P7. And Because we only know anything about Jesus anecdotally and not from the source,

C. there is no way to know if the information in the Bible is accurate therefore no one can know anything with any certainty about God.

It appears to me that God has a problem with infinity. If God had boundaries, then it seems to me that most of the Atheistic arguments against God would go away.
I don't think the ancients thought it through very well. That is a characteristic of folklore.

If you say that God is not completely good, or God is not omnipotent then the problem of Evil/Suffering goes away or if Jesus had sat down and spent a month writing, then I suppose he could have explained it away.

And if this too easy to explain, heres another one
Police, shooting at snake, kill 5-year-old boy, officials say

APPENDIX

Here is a list of the First page of Links on the Anencephalic Angels web ring.

In Memory of Adam
In memory of our angel, Adam, who we lost due to anencephaly.

Matthew's Memorial
This site was made in memory of my sweet baby boy, Matthew, who was stillborn due to anencephaly.

Jessica's Journey
My Jessica's story, information about anencephaly, support groups, memorial links, and inspirational stories are all found within the pages of Jessica's Journey.

Nathan's Story
This is the story of our precious little boy, Nathan ,who lived for 25hrs and 2 minutes before returning to heaven.

MY ANGEL ARIEL
Memorial to my baby lost to anencephaly and a tribute to her sister lost to miscarriage at 12 weeks.

My Angel Lily Faith
Memorial to my baby born with anenchephaly after years of intertility & IVF treatment.

Memorial to Mary Elizabeth Karg
A short story with pictures about the happenings leading up to the birth of Mary Elizabeth, about her short life, and about saying goodbye.

IN Loving Memory of Annalise
The story of the my daughther Annalise from her diagnosis till eventual death.

Anouk's memorial
A memorial to my anencephalic daughter Anouk.

Michaela's Hope
A site created in memory of our daughter, Michaela Hope.

Calebs Memorial
A memorial site for our angel Caleb whom we lost to Anencephaly in March of 1999.

Faith Lynn
This site is dedicated to my daughter, Faith Lynn, who was born and died on 8-21-02 due to complications from anencephaly.

Heaven's Lullaby
A place where mommys, daddys, and families can find comfort and support after the loss of their baby.

Ryan and Jesse Angel Babies
This is a educational memorial dedicated to my angels Jesse who had anencephaly and Ryan had congential diaphragmatic hernia.

Anencephaly - Angel Meert's Memorial Site
This is a memorial site dedicated to our baby boy that we lost to Anencephaly on 7th October 1995.

Gabriel Aaron Meehan our child in heaven
Gabriel Aaron Meehan was born on April 15, 2003 to his loving parents Ben and Kelly, and to his adoring big brother and sister Zach and Emmarie.

Jasmine Faith, Our Treasure in Heaven
The story of my daughter, who passed away shortly after birth due to anencephaly.

My Angel Daniel
This is a website in memory of my sweet boy who i lost to Anencephaly in Jan 1992.

Our Precious daughter 'Angel'
Memorial to our baby lost to anencephaly on January 12th 2002.

Amanda Marie
In loving memory of my daughter, Amanda, who was born still because of anencephaly.




72 comments:

Former_Fundy said...

Lee,

This is a good example. I can tell you already though what you are going to encounter from Christians. Either


1. You have no basis to define good since you are not a theist.

2. God works in mysterious ways--he has a reason but we can't know what it is.

2. Somehow this is a result of the fall of Adam.

I personally don't find any of those answers satisfying and I doubt that the parents of these children would either.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Former_Fundy,
If it wasn't clear from the text, I'm sorry, but
I tried to anticipate those rebuttals in the text and show that the principle that "we are prone to disobey god" has the potential to unravel the bible.

Goldstein said...

Actually, I don't see that atheists...who support abortion on demand of perfectly healthy babies, by the millions...have any room to comment.

After all, one of their arguments for abortion is that many of the kids are better off dead than being born unwanted.

So the baby in question is in heaven now according to Jesus.

No different in principle that the atheists abortion promoters.

Certainly better off than living in a world that doesn't care.

And while you are complaining about God, Loftus, tell us about all your good works.

Shygetz said...

So goldstein, do you support abortion on demand? I suspect, based on your comment, the answer is no.

Do you support your God? I suspect the answer is yes.

If the actions of your God and the actions of abortion proponents are so morally comparable in your eyes, how do you justify holding God as an example of perfect goodness while holding abortion proponents as such an evil one?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi goldstein,
are you talking to me? John didn't write this. I did.

Nice dodge, Neo.

What value to the greater good could this possibly add?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Michael Ejercito,
I have deleted your comments and will continue to do so until you make some that add value to the discussion. Just so the rest of you know, you can see what he wrote in most of the other articles. Its all the same repetitive nonsense.

Dave Barrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lee Randolph said...

Hi Goldstein,
I'll stop deleting you when you take the article seriously and stop using it to throw ad hominems around at John.

I'll say it now to take your ammunition away, I am going to delete comments in this article that are irrelevant to the content.

If you don't know what relevance in argumentation means, you can read up on it here Relevance in Argumentation

Lee Randolph said...

by the way,
anyone with an rss reader can see what you are writing so it is a waste of time to play the victim.

Once the comments get recorded by the RSS feed and downloaded by the client rss reader, its there for all to see.

richdurrant said...

The Mormon religion believes that children that die before the age of accountability will go to heaven, similar to the some Christian faiths. This, to them, would be a case of someone who showed themselves to righteous enough in what we call the pre-existence, or life before this earth, that all they needed from this life was a body. I have a severely handicapped daughter that firs this bill also. I guess that makes this fit the better good category.
Now as far as for myself these types of situations never seem to have an answer that really helps, even if you fully embrace something like I just mentioned. I can tell you from personal experience that there aren't answers that make the hurt go away. the difference I guess between you and me is that I still hold the belief that it will all work out in the end for the better good.

Jim Jordan said...

Thought-provoking article.

I think a fair question from a theist would be "how much good is good enough?" and "how much bad is too much?" to make a definite statement about God.

What if everyone was born perfectly healthy? They would all still die and would suffer at some time or another. It's not a perfect world.

Therefore, should we judge God based on what happens in the world? The world is imperfect, therefore either God is not perfect or He doesn't even exist.

There is another possibility. God is perfect. God is the standard. We are something else. Nature, like us, reflects God imperfectly. This would explain why we have a deep-seated feeling that the world is not as good as it should be [OK, C.S. Lewis' "idea of a straight line"]. According to Scripture, God feels the same way.

Former fundy is absolutely right that the parents of these children don't find Christian answers satisfying. I wouldn't either, but I've known many people who have been transformed from a self-centered existence into a strong faith-centered life. One website about the life of a severely retarded Down Syndrome child put it in a very powerful way, "Jon didn't come to us to learn, he came to teach."

Stargazer said...

lee randolph said:

If
P1. man caused his own fall through the exercise of freewill and disobeyed God,
P2. And as a result or initial condition man is prone to sin,
P3. And God wrote the bible through man,
P4. And The bible scriptures are the only accepted authority about God
P5. And Man is prone to mis-interpret the bible as evidenced by the multitude of theological disagreements,
P6. And There is no standard except Jesus by which to measure proper knowledge of God,
P7. And Because we only know anything about Jesus anecdotally and not from the source,
C. there is no way to know if the information in the Bible is accurate therefore no one can know anything with any certainty about God....



I cannot express how freeing this conclusion has been to me personally. To not HAVE to try to figure out some reason, some spiritual explanation behind everything that happens, especially the horrible stuff. To be able to let go of all the proofs that are not proofs, to discontinue trying to force square pegs into round holes.

I'm only a recent presence here, I've been doing a lot of reading on this site and others, and it is such a relief to find others who have experienced this same path. I read Valerie Tarico's story the other day (the first chapter of her book that is on this blog), and outside of changing the college and a couple other experiences, I felt like I could have written that myself. (And yes, I'll buy the book! :-) )

Thank you for continuing this discussion in connection with the problem of evil.

lowendaction said...

lee,

There should be no suffering that does not add value to the greater good.

Response:

I think a more accurate P2 should be: God is love. Which, based on the combined definitions of common and biblical understandings of the word, changes that qualifier quite a bit (IMO).

P3. Are you assuming that we then know what this greater good is? I think, at best, most believers will reference metaphoric biblical attempts at describing heaven and eternity. Presuming that it exists (along with God), do you really think that ANY human could accuratly describe such a thing should it be revealed to them (to what degree it is revealed would also matter)? There is plenty of non-biblical history that attempts to explain what we now know as common natural phenomenons, but they had great difficultly recording them at the time(then often refered to as legends, myths, etc).

Thus, my understanding of the purpose of suffering, which I believe will retort your first conclusion, is that it is an individual test of ones character/self/soul. And I would also modify your conclusion from a "greater good", to a "greater eternal purpose". IOW, the bible teaches that there is an existance awaiting us all, however God will only accept those who are truely worthy. Worthiness, in this case, being based on such things as faith, love (to God, others, and self), and fullfilling the great commission: spreading God's love to as many, who are willing and open to hear it, as possible. What goes does with "the rest", as in small children, the invalid and unreachable, I have no idea. I like to think that this is God's way of saying, "Don't worry about them, you just worry about yourslef and those with whom you come in contact with."

then why doesn't something similar happen to everyone?

God deals with the individual. So therefore what tragic trials one family goes through loosing their baby, might be equal to the next who looses their job. From our perspective, they don't even come close on the suffering scale we measure such things by. But that IS why God is all-knowing, because He can see and know in ways that we can not.

there is no way to know if the information in the Bible is accurate therefore no one can know anything with any certainty about God.

Do you know if your spouse/loved one, really loves you? If so (which I sincerely hope!), how?

The bible is God's word as I believe it. But it is also the written journey of others before me who were just as human as me. This is a represenation of their attempt at capturing their experiences. I'm not even sure that I could relate to some document that God penned personally with some kind of magic wand or wacky mind control. I believe that these individuals had just as many questions and doubts as we all do (many speak of them directly). No one can know for sure how God was exactly involved with the writing process, if at all. In the end, one must take what is at hand, and marry that to what one is willing/able to put one's faith in. For we all have faith in someting, the question is in what, and why.

This sunday, at my church, we had a couple come up front, and share with us that their 20-something son had just past away in a car accident (not his fault) on July 19th. They spoke about their requests to mourners and well-wishers to direct their tokens of affection and support not towards flowers or other such temporary things, but a special fund they had set up. This fund was designated to provide money towards the construction of a fresh water well in an area of great need in India. They announced that enough money had been raised to build two. They went on to describe how this meant that his death now represented literal life for others in these Indian villages.

Did they cry? Of course. Were we all sad for their loss and pain? Of course. But they also projected a very real hope and conviction that noy only was their son now in heaven, but that his death, though raw and painful, was something that they had implicidly entrusted to God and His "greater plan".

Good (as defined here with God) does not equal no suffering.

God equals love. And love requires effort and in some cases sacrifice. But love always has a GOOD outcome, even if that doesn't happen here on earth in our lifetime.

This is what I believe anyway.

thanks for the great post lee.

John W. Loftus said...

Goldstein, you are obnoxious and about to be banned if you keep it up. You said...Loftus has claimed that he wouldn't follow Christianity even if he were to admit it was true.

To read one place where I and others said this see here.

David B. Ellis said...


As far as I can tell the only defense is to Appeal to Ignorance/Appeal to Mystery.


Yes, I agree.

Of course, the problem with such an appeal is that it leaves us with no rational basis for concluding that God, if he exists at all, is benevolent.


It can be argued that we don't have enough information to say anything about Gods goodness. It can even be argued that God defines goodness, and our definition is flawed.


One little quibble here. You haven't distinguished between the two very distinct usages of the word "good" and we've seen that create lots of confusion in discussion of the POE before:



1. Good in the sense of morally right (which is the usage theists seem to prefer since they often think there is no basis for judgements of right and wrong if God doesnt exist---and here the discussion gets derailed into meta-ethics never to really return to the POE).

or

2. Good in the sense of loving, compassionate, concerned for the well-being of others.

In this second sense there can be no debate over meta-ethics---that issue, interesting as it is in its own right, just isn't relevent to the discussion.

IrishFarmer said...

Hey, just wanted to pipe in with some constructive criticism.

I'll start with argument 1.

"P1. God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent
P2. God is Good.
P3. God permits suffering because it creates a greater good
C. There should be no suffering that does not add value to the greater good."

You once again just gave yourself the burden of proving a universal negative that cannot be answered without omniscience.

Furthermore, there should be a P4, P5,...PN until you've exhausted every possible reason for suffering. Which would also require omniscience or a good imagination.

Otherwise the argument is quite weak on its own.

You're still got the same problem you've always had. I'm a skeptic of the argument, so I'll ask you a question. Why is anencephaly worse than the existence of sodium? Explain, in detail, so that I can understand where your argument comes from.

Argument 2.

"P1. man caused his own fall through the exercise of freewill and disobeyed God,
P2. And as a result or initial condition man is prone to sin,
P3. And God wrote the bible through man,
P4. And The bible scriptures are the only accepted authority about God
P5. And Man is prone to mis-interpret the bible as evidenced by the multitude of theological disagreements,
P6. And There is no standard except Jesus by which to measure proper knowledge of God,
P7. And Because we only know anything about Jesus anecdotally and not from the source,

C. there is no way to know if the information in the Bible is accurate therefore no one can know anything with any certainty about God."

I have several problems with this argument, but I'll focus on one of the most pivotal. The argument that humans cannot agree on how to interpret the bible does not mean the entire thing is unreliable.

In that case, evolution is out the window, because scientists can't agree on all the details either.

Your article would carry much more force if you were able to patch up these discrepancies.

John W. Loftus said...

Irish Farmer, did you say something about the fall of man?

scott gray said...

what is the intent of your post?

is it bragging rights?

mutual affirmation society?

or to convert others to your way of thinking?

if to convert, consider more effective strategies.

David B. Ellis said...


Why is anencephaly worse than the existence of sodium?


Because the suffering caused by anencephaly is intrinsically undesirable.....and sodium isn't (in fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think its actually necessary for our survival).

I suppose you were trying to argue that there can be no basis for prefering a world without anencephaly to one with it if there's no God.

Which is, of course, ludicrous. What makes one state of affairs preferable to another are the intrinsic qualities of experiencing life in that state of affairs---not whether or not there exists an infinitely powerful disembodied entity.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Richdurrant,
I'm sorry about your daughter. How is it that giving a soul to an anencephalic baby makes any sense at all?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jim Jordan,
One website about the life of a severely retarded Down Syndrome child put it in a very powerful way, "Jon didn't come to us to learn, he came to teach."
Jon was used as a sacrificial lamb for the people that are taking care of him? Jon is 'taking one for the team'? I wonder what Jons perspective is? What is it about those people that warranted that type of 'blessing'? What sets them apart?

I say it was chance. It sounds like you say it was god. Which is the simpler explanation?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi IrishFarmer,
boy, you had me worried. You sure can make it sound like an argument is bad up front, but when you get right down into it you lose your steam.
Furthermore, there should be a P4, P5,...PN until you've exhausted every possible reason for suffering. Which would also require omniscience or a good imagination.
So you are appealing to mystery. P3 should be the most important, and should, as I see it, encapsulate all the rest.
If you appeal to mystery, then you have no leg to stand on by saying that suffering contributes to the greater good, because you have no way of knowing. All you can say is that you have to reserve judgement until you get more information. That weakens the claims for a perfectly good all powerful god, and strengthens the argument for chance. Its what you would expect from chance, but not from god. You don't go scratching your head over this related to chance like you do related to god. Chance is the simpler explanation.

The argument that humans cannot agree on how to interpret the bible does not mean the entire thing is unreliable.
if you want to go pick out the good parts, be my guest. But from a book that is supposedly the word of god, that is quite a demotion. You've begun to minimize your god.

In that case, evolution is out the window, because scientists can't agree on all the details either.
this is a red herring. Nice dodge, Neo. Here is one place I discuss it. do a search on this blog for evolution and you can find more. Generally, around the world, the consensus of experts is that evolution is sound, and the mechanism is sound. I'll bet you a beer that globally, more people accept evolution than Christianity. And globally more experts agree on the mechanism for evolution than agree on the mechanism for salvation. What is your stance on Baptism and salvation, and do all christians agree with you? Thats about as fundamental as it gets in christianity.
Thats all I have to say about that.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Scott Gray,
I thought the intent of the article was clearly stated. I want to give christians the chance to focus on the intent of the argument about the problem of evil; Apparently needless suffering. They, and you, have the option of participating or not.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Lowendaction,
ok, I revised my argument,
P1. God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent
P2. God is love.
P3. God permits suffering because it creates a greater good
C. There should be no suffering that does not add value to the greater good.

So how does that change the argument at all? It seems as clearly false it was before.

Thus, my understanding of the purpose of suffering, which I believe will retort your first conclusion, is that it is an individual test of ones character/self/soul. And I would also modify your conclusion from a "greater good", to a "greater eternal purpose".
So I modified the argument and heres what we have.
P1. God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent
P2. God is love.
P3. God permits suffering because it creates a greater eternal purpose
C. There should be no suffering that does not add value to the greater eternal purpose.

You are engaging in a speculation festival. What is it that the sufferers are learning that would be useful in heaven?
You are appealing to mystery as well. "Soul Building"? You go and tell those people on the web ring that you know how they feel because you lost your job. You are callously minimizing the experience of these people to support your belief system. I'm sure the mother would rather have lost her job than go through nine months of emotional roller coaster to experience the horror of the situation. Don't you?

Do you know if your spouse/loved one, really loves you? If so (which I sincerely hope!), how?
uh, my spouse doesn't pretend to be god. wake up. think about what you are saying.

I'm sorry for the people in your church. But their experience is not unique to christians. Muslims, buddhists etc can say the same thing. this has more to do with chance and humanism than god. it is the simpler more plausible explanation based on what we know about the world.

scott gray said...

so...
what do you think is the intent of the argument about evil?

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Are the people on the referenced website aware of your exploiting their situations for use here???

Let's not be deluded - let's not objectify, distance or minimize evil - let's confront it right here.

Jim Jordan said...

Hi Lee
Sorry, I wasn't too clear about the Down Syndrome child, Jon [I was rushed offline by a South Florida electrical storm - really]. Actually Jon's still alive and his family cares for him. The link is here. The effect he's had on his family is remarkable. That is why he's called a "teacher". If you watch the video, you'll realize you can't teach him anything. He's quite a funny character though.

Jon is what you might call a blessing in disguise. By the day-in day-out drudgery of caring for him, his family was forced to put his needs first which drew them out of their ego-centric shells. In a real sense, he freed them from themselves.

My point is that while children with severe birth defects suffer and cause suffering around them, they do have this side effect of causing their family members to think beyond their own needs, and gain a truer perspective of where they are in life.

Mark F. said...

"My point is that while children with severe birth defects suffer and cause suffering around them, they do have this side effect of causing their family members to think beyond their own needs, and gain a truer perspective of where they are in life."

OK, but why does an all powerful God need to have children suffer to help their family members?

Jospeh said...

I'll have to say that I'm disappointed at my fellow Christians. I almost want to apologize, because I somehow wish for better arguments from "our" side. Let's face it, gentlemen. The atheists have us on this issue!

Instead of offering challenging, intellectual conversation and rational refutation, I see a lot of mere assertions being made ("The Bible is God's word," "God is love," "babies go to heaven"). As though the very assertion of Biblical dogma would end the argument. Talk about balls! Why do we expect others to just swallow their rational objections and take our faith-based answers? Is it because we secretly believe that the Christian faith cannot be established with reason and evidence? That it must be accepted as a blind leap of faith?

To answer a concrete example like the tragedy of anencepahlic babies by merely asserting dogma doesn't really deal with the objection at hand. It dismisses the objection out of hand and, in doing so, shows great disrespect to the problem itself (and the one who brought it up).

I would love to see a point-by- point refutation of the two outlined arguments Lee gave in the article (I respect Lowendaction for at least starting down this path). Don't you know that you are not going to win anyone unless you meet them where they are at?

Now, why don't I offer a sound argument to refute Lee's article? Well, as I said earlier, it's because I believe the athiests have us here. I'm willing to admit the problem of evil (moral and material both) is a legitimate barrier to my faith in God, and I suspect also a barrier to a large number of Christians who sit in the pews as silent doubters.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Ah yes Joseph - those who chose to exploit and commit heinous insensitivities towards the suffering of others in order to justify their own righteousness are a much better lot than those of faith - This post is Exhibit A of how pride and arrogance blind us to the imminent evil that dwells within us, whether we are sitting in a church pew or writing a web post. Do you really believe that the people from the referenced website know that they are being used in this way?

Lee Randolph said...

HI mmm,
I worried about exploitation myself, but I assume that on the internet as long as I don't take credit for authorship, it is public domain. If it is not, they should take precautions to safeguard their privacy.

Beautiful Feet said...

Why should this be an issue of legalism? Why can't it be a heartfelt restraint? Why is it so necessary to resort to this to justify a point??

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Beautiful Feet,
if you are offended you are free not to participate.

however, I felt that this was necessary to get through to the participants in the the other POE debates that kept skirting this issue. As I stated in the article, it was intended to focus on this type of issue not the specific suffering of the families of anencephalic babies. Anything else would have invited the same type of evasion that was going on in the other articles.

Lee Randolph said...

H mmm,
you remind me of about four other names I've seen around here in the past few months.

GordonBlood said...

I am not so worried by this article or its contents, mainly because it seems to have little appreciation for the created order. Let me explain. If God wishes to create a universe where beings are themselves allowed, and indeed forced, to survive and adapt via evolutionary mechanisms (Time, chance and selection) than there are going to be pitfalls. This is the nature of flesh and blood; it would be, I argue, a contradition for massive mutations and other terrible tragedies such as this one to not take place within such a system. So the question, properly narrowed, is why did God choose this sort of roundabout creation? Well, I think that question, obviously, has a mysterious flare to it but there are at least reasonable answers. Perhaps God simply enjoys that method... certainly I looking at the history of life on earth find it a glorious picture, when taken with a holistic view. Yes there are mutations and accidents but on the whole once you enter the true tomb of evolutionary biology one is swept away by the beautiful innovations that (supposedly) blind mutation creates. In other words I am arguing that it is not EVIL for God to use the evolutionary process, which via necessity (im not sure how many of you that are atheists are truly interested in science or just use it to advance your own means, but I contend it to be naturally impossible via contradiction for a God to use the sort of evolutionary mechanisms employed without in the chain of events tragedies such as this. As for possible good that can come out of this I argue that there are some ways that good can come about. Firstly, the sufferer can show patience, humility and bravery in facing the pain of losing their lost one. I think perhaps of the case of John Edwards (the politician, not the man who said he spoke to spirits or whatnot) who after losing his son in a car accident returned to the Christian faith (I am of course assuming this to be an actual occasion and that he is telling the truth, just as I assume you are telling the truth when you are you are former Christians but, via good arguments or bad, lost that belief. Another way that good can come about in such instances is that other people can show sympathy, respect and care for the couple who has lost that child. Does the good involved override the tragedy? That is not a question human-beings can empirically judge, but I believe that such incidents do indeed cause, on the whole, allow for greater goods so long as people are willing to partake in those opportunities to help those who are pain. Unfortunately, in our consumerist world, behaviour which would allow these goods seems to be sadly lacking, a point that im sure all the members and visitors at DC can sadly appreciate.

Michael Ejercito said...

OK, but why does an all powerful God need to have children suffer to help their family members?
He does not.

There is no evidence that God inflicts people with birth defects.

scott gray said...

i finally figured out what it is that bothers my about what you are doing. you’ve chosen to knowingly build an argument on a construct—evil. and i think i finally figured out why.

evil is neither true or false. it is an understanding filled with meaning, however, particularly for christians. they have a world view, a meaning-filled narrative, that is also neither true nor false. just as you live in a world view, debunked christianity, that is neither true nor false.

truth requires no converting, does it? but shifting to a world view different from the one currently held is all about conversion. and i think this is one of the underpinnings of your site. you wish to convert christians by removing meaning from their world view (deconstruction). and many christians want to do the same to any and all non-christians.

there is nothing wrong with seeking to convert others to your world view. the header on your site indicates that you used to be a christian—is this true? so you’ve experienced a conversion from christianity to debunked christianity. there are many ways conversion happens, but a conversion between these two world views couldn’t have been gentle or gradual. i’m betting it was centered around a catastrophe of some sort.

you also know that many christians seek to convert thru duplicitous means. partial stories are told. lies are told. promises are made that can’t be kept. advantage taking, especially financial advantage taking, goes on non-stop. do these things make you angry? they make me angry.

just so it is disappointing when i see you seek to convert thru duplicitous means. you know that evil is a construct. you chose to build a logic argument, full of premises and conclusions, on what you know to be neither true nor false. is this your best conversion method?

the christian world view is not about truth, it is about meaning. the debunked christian world view is not about truth, either, it is about meaning. yet i’m betting that each of you makes claims about the truth of your worldview, and from my point of view, you’re both wrong.

each of you feels that your world views are mutually exclusive, when they are more like two partially overlapping circles on a venn diagram. while each of your world views has parts that are different and antipathetic, each also has parts that are the same.

i might suggest that more effective conversion of christians to debunked christianity might include: 1) your stories about the rich meanings of the debunked christianity worldview; 2) your story about your conversion experiences, especially your conversion from christianity to debunked christianity; and 3) logical arguments, full of premises and conclusions, based on authentic aspects of your worldview.

so….
what was your conversion from christianity to debunked christianity like?

peace

scott gray

Shygetz said...

"There is no evidence that God inflicts people with birth defects."

While I agree that there is no evidence, I don't think that's what you meant.

Typical Christian theology is that God created everything under the sun with full knowledge of the past, present, and future. Therefore, God knew when he set creation in motion in the manner he did that birth defects would be the inevitable result. God is powerful enough to simply have creation be as it is without birth defects, but he chose not to. God could prevent/heal birth defects in utero without the knowledge of humans, therefore not impinging upon free will. God could prevent fertilization in cases where birth defects would occur. We could live in a universe where birth defects are so unheard of that there is not even a word for the phenomenon. He does none of these things, which suggests he approves (or at least does not disapprove) of birth defects.

Kelly Gorski said...

I guess I'd like to know why a theist wouldn't simply say that these types of fetuses are evolutionary anomalies. After all, I've heard many theists claim they believe in "guided evolution."

I recently wrote about abortion on my blog. You may want to check out the comments section to get a feel for the inherent sexism of faith-based thinking. One commenter on there displays it very well, and that may help us all get to know the theist position better (especially if we take it to its logical conclusion). Once faith-based concepts have saturated one's thought process, it's only a matter of time before it blinds the individual.

lowendaction said...

lee,

First of all, thank you for your response. There's alot of fire coming from different directions, and I appreciate the time and thought/respect you give each one.

I think the first thing that needs to be said, and I believe it will put to rest many of the points stated (at least between you and me), is my stance that God is everything He claims to be. That obviously puts me in an inferior place of understanding Him completely. I'm ok with that.

It is also clear, that you have rejected His claims, in fact His very existance. That automatically puts you "above" Him (from your point of view), and therefore allows you to "explain" Him (away) at will.

From these polar caps, we are always going to be looking through two entirely different scopes (duhhh). This does however explain my poor attempts at verbalizing this whole afterlife plan thing. With God and I being who and where we are, there will be much that is not for me to know, and again...this is ok with me. I don't find this deal to be lob sided , because I also believe in the "reward" that awaits me. And for me, that is sufficient.

As to my "love" reference, I was attempting to outline that love does not always equate good. But again, you are asking for me to explain to you what God has "supposedly" in store for us in eternity. As I mentioned...human attempts at this would be poor at best. The promise of this, and the interpretations of those few who have been granted a rare glimps will have to do. As far as I'm concirned, that's better than anything any human brain can cook up...presuming that God is who He claims to be!

I appologize if the job loss vs the baby tragidy came across as callous, but again, this is my attempt at illuminating our "limited" perspective versus that of God's.

I understand that your spouse (and if I'm getting to personal I appologize, but I think it's a relevant reference) does not claim to be God, but I believe the question was in regards to "defining the evidence of interpersonal expressions of love" in response to your question of the certanty of God.

I would like you to consider the words of someone far more knowledgable and wellspoken than myself. I think you'll find the topic somewhat relevant.

http://www.marshill.org/teaching/index.php

Please reference the August 5th podcast titled: Here I Am - Ed Dobson.

Thank you

Jospeh said...

MMM said, "Ah yes Joseph - those who chose to exploit and commit heinous insensitivities towards the suffering of others in order to justify their own righteousness are a much better lot than those of faith."

Once again, this proves my point. You have a sarcastic comeback, but not a substantive argument. Call it exploitation or not, the athiests have brought up a concrete example of physical evil and you have nothing to say other than, "My view is better." Anyone can say that. I'm looking for some persuasive counter-arguments here. I look forward to reading the ones that have been posted above in greater detail.

David B. Ellis said...


I think the first thing that needs to be said, and I believe it will put to rest many of the points stated (at least between you and me), is my stance that God is everything He claims to be.


Except, of course, that you don't actually know what God claims to be. You only know what human beings have claimed that God claims to be. Or, at most, what a book which some people claim to have been inspired by God claims about him.

And so, just as much as us, you are relying on your own merely human judgements to come to conclusions about God.

Unless, of course, God speaks directly to you.

And, even then, if he does so in a way which can't be verified to be not imaginary then you are still relying on your own judgement as to whether the experience is really from God and not your own imagination (or, for that matter, diabolical forces).

lowendaction said...

joseph,

I think all substantial evidence that can be brought forth from both arenas should be seriously considered against ones own world view. But at the end of the day, and this goes again for both sides of the arguement, one must step out in faith for one or the other.

Either you reject God, our you embrace Him. The rest is built on either foundation. But without having first laid that definite base, your belief will always topple.

Therefore, you can not critizise a Christian for using, what they believe to be, God's word as their frame of reference. That should not give way to exclusivity from scientific fact, nore ignoring any other type of proposed evidence. But without any former frame of reference, what do you do bring to the table?

lowendaction said...

david,

touche (as a wise frenchman once said...)

My attempts at showing purposful humility and admiting to selective ignorance is all about this:

Option A: I decide that I (the human species) am ultimatly the smartest thing in our known universe, and must therefore find a satisfactory explanation for my existance and purpose here on earth. I must also then reject any suggested claim for the exsistance of a higher power (since I already have ownership of said title).

Option B: I decide that I am in fact not the smartest thing around, but merely the product of a being/entity that is far superior to me, but also has a vested interest in me and my lifes outcome. I choose to submit to, what I decide is the "true" representation of, this God and dedicate my life to learning more about Him/it and aligning my life to a purpose that is congruent with His/its plan/design.

You take one of these two realities, and compare those to your perspective of the world, and you go with it. My only stipulation, is that it be your own path that you've chosen of your own free will.

So that's how it makes sense to me.

And here's my two cents about de-converted Christians (and no, I'm not going to claim you were never really Christians...). You are always super quick to point to the stereo typical Christians upbringing as the source of their fickle belief system. But wasn't yours the same? Odds are, your former religious belief was born of a similar situation. And though you now reject that, do you not still use that same knowledge/experience as fuel to counter Christianity today? So what if you were to explore Christianity without the influence of parents, peers or church? Would it look different for you...for anyone? I would argue, since your purpose is clearly stated as the header of this blog, you are not able or interested in taking such a non-biased approach to God. If I am wrong...please correct me!

My parents are missionaries, and so I had not much say towards the belief department in my formative years. However, in my late teens, I made a conscious desision to break from the belief of my parents (though I had as much respect for it then as I do now, which is a great deal!), and moved to a different continent. My journey was a purposful attempt at breaking from the God I was raised with, and to then discover A. was He even real to me, and B. if so or not, what does that mean to me. I eventually chose the former. And so the journey continues, and it will go on until my last breath is drawn.

that's all, thanks

Jospeh said...

Lowendaction said: "Therefore, you can not critizise a Christian for using, what they believe to be, God's word as their frame of reference."

Fair enough. However, I wasn't objecting to the inclusion of Biblical ideas in an argument. I was merely taking issue with the dogmatic assertions Christians make in response--as though these assertions themselves can satisfy the demands of a good argument. My preference is to see a point-by-point debate.

You're right in saying that Christianity is ultimately faith-based, but certainly it is not immune from the scrutiny of rational inquiry. If it is, then so is every other world religion and we have no ultimate basis for saying that Christianity is superior to Islam or the worship of Baal.

It seems what we are trying to accomplish in this discussion is to arrive at basic truth; truth as it best corresponds with reality. A thoughtful Christian will present his arguments accordingly...and not run for the shield of faith with the argument becomes overwhelmingly rational.

Btsai said...

lowendaction,

I think you have some mis-conceptions about the atheist position.

But at the end of the day, and this goes again for both sides of the arguement, one must step out in faith for one or the other.

...

Either you reject God, our you embrace Him.


If someone claims 100% confidence that God does not exist, then yes, that would require faith. But what most atheists actually say is that although it is possible that God exists, there is insufficient evidence to support this conclusion. No faith here.

Option A: I decide that I (the human species) am ultimatly the smartest thing in our known universe, and must therefore find a satisfactory explanation for my existance and purpose here on earth. I must also then reject any suggested claim for the exsistance of a higher power (since I already have ownership of said title).

As far as I know, atheists don't reject God because we think we're the smartest beings around. Our egoes aren't that big :) The rejection is because of lack of evidence *points above*

lowendaction said...

joseph,

I here you. I think the question then is, what is your (general statement) shield made of? I think the bible urges us to live a "faith only" life, but also recognizes our inherant humanness, and thus we have a book filled with real people (so say I!) who struggle through this very issue.

I wish more self-proclaiming Christians would join these kinds of conversations, to rattle their armor a little. If it holds up, great. But if it is brittle, they've got some work to do (or hole to hide in...).

thanx

lowendaction said...

btsai,

Thanks for the clarification. But I have to be honest with you, it doesn't jive with much of what I read here. When someone compares God to fairies, they've made it quite clear that have absolutely no reverence for Him. I'm not saying this because I might be offended. It's just an observation.

Even without having the ability to compeltely disprove God, the position the atheist stands on is: "I do not accept that which God (or man about God) claims to be." Meaning (in my way of understanding) "I am greater and smarter than God, because I do not recognize His supposed presence."

This does not nesasarilly imply an overly inflated sense of ego, it's simply a logical conclusion about who's left on top.

Metaphorically speaking, this leaves the atheist looking "down" on God, whereas the Christian chooses to look "up" to Him.

I make a decided effort to assume a neutral vantage point when discussing God here (try being the key word;). My question is whether my atheist counterparts are willing/able to do the same?

Very often, one gets a very strong sense of pride and defiance when God is so easily put in His various atheist boxes. Though I would quickly add, that we have our fair share of bible wielding ignoramuses present as well!!!

thanx

David B. Ellis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David B. Ellis said...


Even without having the ability to compeltely disprove God, the position the atheist stands on is: "I do not accept that which God (or man about God) claims to be." Meaning (in my way of understanding) "I am greater and smarter than God, because I do not recognize His supposed presence."



I'm not a believer in the existence of God because I find no convincing evidence that he is real.

That has nothing to do with who is smarter than whom.

As for "accepting what God claims to be", God has yet to claim anything to me about his nature....only humans have done that.

As for what men have claimed about God, I have found their claims unconvincing because they have no evidence to back them up.

That isn't a judgement about anyones relative intelligence. Its simply a difference of opinion.

As for your Option A and B, I find neither of them to fit my views and there are about forty umpteen million other options to choose from.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Jopseh (I apologize for misspelling your name prior) - I use sarcasm - I dish it out sparingly, but I can take it as well - it's not for everyone, that's for sure.

My intention for commenting here was not to present argumentation or assert my own superiority over another person. I don't know if you paid a visit to the referenced site on this post, but I did and it touched my heart deeply. I felt grieved that their circumstances were aired thusly and felt it might be useful to raise an awareness alert here that these are very real people with very real losses and not to objectify their grief for purposes of debate.

I am appealing to and asking the author of this post that the link to the anacephalic angels website be removed.

Thanks!

David Kear said...

I will admit upfront that I did not read the comments on this post. So, if I am restating something that someone else has said I apologize.

Below is the argument:

P1. God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent
P2. God is Good.
P3. God permits suffering because it creates a greater good.
C. There should be no suffering that does not add value to the greater good.

P1. Correctly states what Christians believe.
P2. Is not an exhaustive representation of what Christians believe but will suffice as a correct premise.
P3. Does not correctly reflect what Christians believe.

The conclusion is therefore false.

I know that what you are attempting to do is critique our worldview by showing alleged inconsistencies. However, I wonder why? What is your motivation? If you think there is some “good” to be gained by showing a contradiction in our worldview how do you account for that result being a good thing? What atheistic presupposition can serve as a foundation for your motivation in seeking this result?

If you have none then your motivation is irrational.

I do believe that it is good and beneficial to point out and correct logical contradictions. However, “good” has a rational foundation within my worldview.

If an atheist was true to his presuppositions he would not care to debunk Christianity.

John W. Loftus said...

MMM, listen, every time we have tried to highlight human suffering in light of a belief in an omnibenelovent God some Christian (usually) has said we are exploiting those who suffer...every time.

My position on this is that, 1) We are more sympathetic to their suffering than Christians who try to superficially explain it away as something toward a greater divine good. 2) We would never be so insensitive as to make this argument directly in front of a person who is suffering, so since we are not saying this to the people who are suffering, we are doing nothing insensitive or wrong. 3) If we can never talk about real human suffering in real people's lives then that's exactly what Christians want us to do so they never have to deal head on with what their faith commits them to.

Btsai said...

David B. Ellis, thanks for fielding that one :)

lowendaction, please take some time and think about what David B. Ellis said. I think that's a far better portrayal of the median atheist position than what you've been working with. You'll find it much easier to discourse with atheists once you see our position for what it really is (and isn't).

Beautiful Feet said...

John, what are you saying? That as long as you do this behind their backs and they don't find out, it's justifiable? That seems incongruent with one who claims superior sensitivity towards others' suffering - I really don't understand how you are defining what caring about others means. I dealt with this as head-on as I could.

Bye for now!

John W. Loftus said...

Beautiful Feet. What do you think I'm saying? Try now. Give it a shot. You can do it. But it will require you to think.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi all, in reviewing the responses since the last time I was on, no refutations have occurred. The only relevant rebuttals that I have seen are challenges to the premises, which as I see it, need backing with scripture, or to show why my premises are wrong scripturally. Since we only know anything about god from the scripture, personal opinion doesn't count much.

Those of you that say god wouldn't do this sort of thing are confirming my assertion that it is chance and is not used for soul building, which means that god, if he exists, chooses not to do anything,

for those of you that say that this is part of his plan, that he chose this method even though he could have chosen any other, means that god, if he exists, chooses not to do anything about it,

For those of you that recognize that evil is in the eye of the beholder, bravo, I agree, but that doesn't say anything about why an all good god who supposedly loves us so much would let needless suffering persist. If they are not suffering from an "evil", they are still suffering.

For those of you that keep pressing on the insensitivity of the article, I wish to offer some of the comments above as evidence that rationale based on faith, and not reason, leads to a callous heart in rationalizing away horrible suffering to support a belief that is contradicted by the evidence. While I realize that saying "they do it too!" doesn't justify my use of the material, the goal of drawing out and revealing this phenomena in text for analysis does.

to refute the assertion that there is too much evil/suffering in the world for the claims that an all good god exists requires you to admit that you don't really know anything with any certainty about god at all. Appeal to mystery, and at the point, all you can say is you don't have enough information to make an informed decision one way or the other, so you call upon the precautionary principle to choose the safe bet (on god and the appeal to mystery) and draw upon your slew of cognitive biases rather than the evidence to support your world view. You call it faith.

Assert, till you are blue, that atheism is a faith, but the evidence against an all good god is compelling, and the inference that if god existed, this should not be the case is not unique to atheists but happens to christians as well. To explain that away, you need to challenge sound principles of reasoning.

For those of you that recognize that you are struggling with two contradictory beliefs, the name for it is cognitive dissonance. It causes people to resort to denial, and it is widespread, cuts across categories of people, and even appears to extend to the highest levels of government.

lowendaction said...

btsai & david,

thank you both for your patient responses. I will most certainly take them to heart, and I am happy to say that I have gained a better understanding of your position.

However, I still don't think it changes my premise. My point was simply one of authority. Whereas I have chosen to to validate God, and therefore put Him in a place of authority over me. You have not. By your very statement that God is created/claimed via humans, He is--at best--on the same level as you, should you even accept that He exists.

Based on these facts (and I think I'm pretty safe there), our analyses/understanding of Him will forever have different results.

lowendaction said...

lee,

As you know, the only way anyone can unequivocally prove/disprove the existance of God, is to break the time-space continuum or return to us from the dead with tangible evidence, and barring some supernatatural intervention, these things will never happen.

So that leaves us with the here and now. Not even so much what was, or what is to come, but right now. Debating these same unsolvable cyclic topics has little to no contribution to the quality of anyones present life (unless you're pursuing a major in phylosophy or divinity...in which case, we're all in trouble!!;)...IMHO.

Christianity vs Atheism. I think the more relevant question is: which one is "good" for me, you, the world, right now? Better yet, which one will contribute to a more purpose-filled and life-enriching existance here on earth, that will not only have a positive effect on me and my surroundings, but leave a lasting and meaningful legacy?

The existance arguement will never go away, so why not talk about things that actually matter...right now?

Just to clarify, I'm not saying that the subjects and comments here are substanceless, or pointless. I'm just saying, for the sake of gleaning something of practical worth from this site, how about we talk about things that we actually can apply to our lives?

thank you

scott gray said...

oh, how duplicitous! to reason to cognitive dissonance on a construct! some of you must feel that the pursuit of 'truth' is what your philosophy is about. where's the 'truth' in arguing from a construct?

Btsai said...

lowendaction,

My point was simply one of authority. Whereas I have chosen to to validate God, and therefore put Him in a place of authority over me. You have not. By your very statement that God is created/claimed via humans, He is--at best--on the same level as you, should you even accept that He exists.

As David B. Ellis pointed out, *all* the claims we have about God were written by people. Sure, they claim to have been divinely inspired, but so do the authors from a lot of other religions. How do we evaluate their conflicting claims? By evidence.

What you seem to be saying is that you've decided to accept God on faith, and then process evidence accordingly. So the question is, why have you decided to accept one set of supernatural claims without first weighing them against evidence, when there are so many different sets to choose from? Why this one?

If God gets validated by evidence, I would have no issue accepting his existence. And if the evidence validates his superiority over us, I would have no issue accepting that either.

Based on these facts (and I think I'm pretty safe there), our analyses/understanding of Him will forever have different results.

Yes, of course. People starting from different premises will always reach different conclusions. The point of this website, as I see it, is to challenge the validity of accepting Christianity's claims as the premises of one's worldview.

lowendaction said...

btsai,

I'd like to think, that not only when I made my initial decision to follow the Judeo/Christian God, but on a contiunual basis along my journey, I weigh my faith against all available evidence.

My short answer for choosing Christianity vs "the others":

- That God may have created/designed the perfection that is our natural world.
- The individual relational connection that this same God desires with me, which is not dependant on other people, idols, or laws/regulations.
- Living via the example of Christ is nothing short of fulfilling and meaningful, as well as a positive influence on everyone around me (this is not a reference to an increase in such temporary things as: more money, friends, happyness..., nore does this exclude persecution or suffering).

Btsai said...

lowendaction,

I'd like to think, that not only when I made my initial decision to follow the Judeo/Christian God, but on a contiunual basis along my journey, I weigh my faith against all available evidence.

An admirable stance. I would just like to point out that if you do indeed test Christiantiy's claims against evidence, you are doing exactly what skeptics do. No more, no less. We just happen to arrive at different conclusions. But this does not make one of us more arrogant, nor the other more humble.

That God may have created/designed the perfection that is our natural world.

The same could be said about the deity/deities of any other religion. And frankly, the natural world is by no means perfect. The case for a designer/creator is lacking.

The individual relational connection that this same God desires with me, which is not dependant on other people, idols, or laws/regulations.

Again, not exclusive to Christianity. Many other religions also claim that a personal relationship exists between their deity/deities and the worshipper. For example, the following is claimed by Hinduism:

Yes, little by little, slowly, very slowly, a relationship evolves, a very personal, loving relationship, between the devotee and the elephant-faced God. Psychic protection is granted, physical protection, mental and emotional protection are all granted as boons by Him. He will not allow His devotees to use their free, instinctive willfulness to make more kukarma by getting into difficulties. Rather, He will guide them carefully, protecting them every moment along the way so that their natural birth karmas may be worked through and sukarma created by right living. This is His main concern. Lord Ganesha loves and cares for His devotees. Once the devotee is connected to Him through the awakening of the muladhara chakra, loneliness is never experienced.

Hindu Deity of Dharma

Living via the example of Christ is nothing short of fulfilling and meaningful, as well as a positive influence on everyone around me (this is not a reference to an increase in such temporary things as: more money, friends, happyness..., nore does this exclude persecution or suffering).

Are you saying that non-Christians cannot lead lives as fulfilling, meaningful, benevolent as those of Christians? This is an incredibly tall claim to try to make. All evidence points to the contrary, that people manage to have quality lives regardless of whether they are Christians.

None of these suffice as reasons to pick Christianity over other faiths, or faith over atheism.

lowendaction said...

btsai,

My intent in responding to you, was not to convert or even convince you of the brilliant infallibility of my decisions/beliefs (NOT). They are just that, mine.

I take them as a whole, and of course these are summarized highlights. I have no interest in laying out my entire belief system or testimony on this blog.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as I can look myself in the mirror, and honestly say that what I believe is true and real to me, and without the aid of any exterior force but of my own free will I choose to follow, then I'm good with that.

I had no intentions of implying that a non-Christian life is one with out meaning or purpose. I appologize if it read like that! This is a personal manifesto, and I alone must determin what is satisfactory to my world view.

For me, the God of the Christian bible is sufficient for me.

What is sufficient for you? You obviously have a plethora of answers for what dose not suffice. So what DOES make it all worth while for you? Just curious.

thanx

Btsai said...

lowendaction,

I think we've taken the comments section on a long tangent away from the original subject, so I'll try to wrap things up a bit, and try to keep it brief while I'm at it.

I did not mean for you to lay out your entire belief system here. But the place *is* called "Debunking Christianity". You should be prepared to justify your acceptance of Christianity's claims as the building blocks for your worldview.

Saying "I believe it because it seems true and real to me" doesn't suffice. Because that can be used to justify just about *any* worldview. To distinguish between real and false worldviews, we need evidence, and it's simple lack of evidence that steers skeptics away from theism.

What is sufficient for you? You obviously have a plethora of answers for what dose not suffice. So what DOES make it all worth while for you? Just curious.

I'm not sure what the question is. Are you asking what evidence I would consider sufficient for proving Christianity, or what I think the purpose of my existence is? My comment on 11:55 AM, August 08, 2007 in this thread touches a bit on both:

LINK

lowendaction said...

btsai,

I too wish to wrap this up, and appreciate your insightful, as do I appreciate lee's patients with us!

I think one major difference between you and I, is you seem to have a need for cold hard tangleble facts that would preferable be laid under your microscope. Whereas I tend to pan back and look at the big picture. Like the design of nature, purpose of life, life after death and such (i'm not suggesting that you don't ponder the same issues, i just get the feeling that you would prefer more tangible data).

So when I look at that grey area where science falls short, and the supernatural picks up, I have to start rationalizing. And when I'm presented with the options of skeptically striving my way towards a known dead end, or striving towards the Godly existance, with the off chance that there is something beyond the end...


And that's what makes sense to me. Strangly enough, I'm an INTJ, so I wonder how that plays into david ellis's personality theory...

I'm sure we'll pick this up on another post.

thanks

Btsai said...

lowendaction,

I know I said I'd try to wrap things up, but I just couldn't resist...

So when I look at that grey area where science falls short, and the supernatural picks up, I have to start rationalizing.

Where science falls short, we need not resort to the supernatural. Science has a proven track record when it comes to answering the "how" questions. Just because it does not currently explain something does not mean a supernatural explanation is required. Ancient people used to invoke supernatural explanations for thunder and lightning, because their science was unable to explain such phenomenon. That reasoning was unsound then, and it's just as unsound now.

As for the "why" questions, those are lie outside science's domain. They fall instead in philosophy's domain. But the supernatural is in no way necessary for philosophical work.

And when I'm presented with the options of skeptically striving my way towards a known dead end

How is science a known dead-end, and in regards to what?

or striving towards the Godly existance, with the off chance that there is something beyond the end...

This sounds like Pascal's Wager. But the choice is not simply that of believing in God or not believing in God. There are an infinity of possible supernatural entities to choose from. An infinite subset of these will punish disbelief with eternal torment. So your odds of choosing the right one is 1/infinity, or effectively zero, exactly the same as the atheist who chooses none at all!

richdurrant said...

In thinking about the post, the greater good part, I had a thought. Since we are talking about an internal critique of Christianity, for God it is his purpose to save us. So if suffering could serve this greater good by saving even one person, then it wouldn't necessarily by needless. That to me doesn't minimize the suffering of the person, or those affected by it. Remembering that I have a severely disabled daughter, so I believe I can have some empathy for these folks, I would say that if she were able to help someone's salvation, then all her, and our, suffering would not be needless. That doesn't mean it would lessen the suffering, or make it good, but that it served the "greater good" purpose and therefore isn't needless. Your bringing this down to one case and I am responding to this one case. So this isn't going to answer for all suffering.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Richdurrant,
I didn't think anyone was still working on this.
Does your solution cover non-christians as well?

Heres one to think about, by your definition is there any needless suffering going on in Iraq, and if it is only witnessed by Muslims, and it reinforces their belief or causes some to convert to islam, would that be considered greater good?

richdurrant said...

Yes it would cover non-Christians. Primarily because I don't believe only Christians will be saved. If it turns someone to believe in God and change their lives for the better, than regardless of the denomination, I wouldn't consider that suffering needless.
I'm always thinking about certain posts even if I don't comment on them though;)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Richdurrant,
I have to say that it is a pleasure to correspond with you. :-)
thanks for your participation.

richdurrant said...

likewise