I Challenge Christians To Put Up Or Shut UP...Literally!

It's always man's fault, isn't it? It's never God's fault according to Christians, no matter what the problem is. They are letting God off the hook too easily here...way to easily. What would it take for Christians to say, "hey, this is probably God's fault in some way"? The fact is, God did not reveal himself clearly which has led to so much confusion among Christians even to the point of burning other Christian people alive (at least some, and probably many of the people burned at the stake during the Inquisition would be admitted into today's fundamentalist churches). There have been wars between Christians too. Christians killing other Christians due to a disagreement over little things by today's standards by far, leaving many widows without a husband and many children without a father.

What would it take Christian, for you to consider what I consider obvious? Name it, or drop this defense of your God.

Furthermore, why God did not say this: "Thou shalt not buy, own, sell, or trade slaves," and say it so often that Christians would've gotten the point and be appalled if any other professing Christian decided to own a slave in the American South, much less make it allowable under law. Some of these slaves became Christians and their Christian masters still beat them and whipped them and raped their wives and daughters.

God is at least partially to fault! I have argued this many times before. Christians are simply not being reasonable about this because of blind faith...that's right...blind faith.

But here's the rub. If God is even partially to fault, then this destroys the orthodox Christian faith in a perfectly good God who is believed to be completely pure and faultless. So Christians continue spouting off proof texts mindlessly in support of their blind faith.

Sorry to be so harsh, but Christians are clearly and plainly denying what is obvious...obvious. Which can only mean they are blinded by their faith just as much as sincere Muslims who become suicide bombers in hopes for 70 virgins when they die (THEY REALLY BELIEVE THIS, AND YOU COULD NOT CONVINCE THEM OTHERWISE!). The one difference in today's world (for the time being) is that the Christian blindness (for the most part) doesn't cause this much mayhem. But both are blind.

lowendaction recently provoked this outrage from me when he described, as I've heard so many times before, "a wide range of so-called Christian church fellowships..." (Although, what he said was mild compared to this response of mine which has been building up from hearing so many others who say the same thing in more matter-of-fact ways).

What do Christians mean by describing other evangelical Christian fellowships as "so-called" ones (I presume that's the only fellowship he would be a part of, and if I'm wrong, this takes nothing away from my upcoming challenge)? My challenge is this: Tell me what they believed or how they acted and I will show you how easliy God could have straightened them out. Barring God doing that, I can probably show you how you either believe or act the same way, or that what you believe or how you behave is at least as bad as them (in many cases).

I think I can show you how easily God could've done differently by clearly communicating to them. Easily. Try me. It's PARTIALLY God's fault Christians don't know what the truth is or how they should act.

Give us here at DC a try. Put up or shut up. I claim it's partially God's fault, and if that's the case your orthodox faith crumbles to the ground.

49 comments:

SteveJ said...

I'm glad you hit on this "so-called Christian church fellowships" idea. It's pervasive among groups that fancy themselves nontraditional, lying outside the lukewarm status quo. I've been involved in plenty of judgmental discussions myself while in those groups. We would often sit around and bash the traditional Christians who "just don't get it" (we did, of course). Like the prophets of old lamenting the adulteries of Israel and Judah, we ripped into Christendom general as some kind of harlot. But it was just ego-gratifying conceit. Many of those traditional churches contained fine people with good hearts -- even if they didn't "get it." They were imperfect people, after all. The irony is that most of the people involved in these discussions (including me) had deep, miserable character flaws themselves.

Let those who excoriate "so called" churches read through the Sermon on the Mount and Paul's Love Chapter. Then we'll see if the critic can say, "Yup. That's me all right!"

King Aardvark said...

But John, if God cleared the confusion up it wouldn't be faith anymore, hence it would be worthless. God has made the perfect decision to allow this ambiguity to exist for the greater good of the gift of faith. And who are you to question God's perfection anyway? I don't have all the answers, and I don't understand Him perfectly, but I know for sure that He's perfect and loving. Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it isn't perfect.

How's that John? What I wrote sounds like a bunch of hooey to me, but I took a stab at it from the fundy perspective. Hmm, not enough all caps.

Bruce said...

King Aardvark, I think you hit the nail on the head. I've never understood why "faith" is such a desirable trait? I can't think of much in life that would be better using faith than using reason and logic. Were they using faith to hold that bridge up? And why would God not want people to be certain of his existence (for the sake of this argument, let's assume God actually exists) instead of just taking it on faith? The only reason I can think of is that God is some sort of sadistic maniac that likes to see people struggle over believing in him and kill each other over who is right and who is wrong. Besides, wouldn't God get a lot more people into Heaven if he just came out and told everyone what they needed to do instead of leaving some cryptic message in a book? If God could make it clear to me that I would burn in Hell for eternity if I didn't straighten up, I bet I'd be a lot more motivated to follow his word. Maybe Heaven has a finite size and thus he needs to weed people out?

GordonBlood said...

Hmm... A very interesting read. I believe, if I have read correctly, that John is alluding to why God allows moral ignorance. Well that is a reasonable question. My own personal view on the issue is that God allows man-kind to discover morality, which is of course a painful process indeed. Yet in almost every case, it is (I think we can all agree on this) Christians who enter the trenches of moral ignorance and take it on. You seem to make it sound as though Christians are not aware of this though John. Do you think Wilberforce, surrounded by men who called themselves Christians, was not aware of this issue? Or Martin Luther King? One can think of many more but I have made my point.
Now is God responsible in the sense that he allows the ignorance to happen... yes. Certainly, there is no logical cantrip that can be made out of that. However, one still has to somehow prove that God is not being good in allowing this too happen if it is agreed upon that it is good that man is given alot of responsibility in protecting and preserving the moral order. Simply put, I think we may have to adjust our view of what divine goodness means. Does it mean God will be, as Lewis put it, a senile benevolence who wishes that everyone just have a good time? No. The blood of the martyrs and the crucifixion can attest to that in spades.
As a sidenote I would argue that the PRIMARY reason that such overwhelming evil pops up everyone is not the moral ignorance itself but human arrogance. Let me explain. If one is humble (and again, I think we can all agree that is something Christ and Paul taught quite bluntly) then we will not go around trying to bash people's heads in about certain truths. We can respectfully talk about such issues, but whether it be an adamant fundamentalist or an adamant fundamentalist atheist (i believe this to be correct terminology though i appreciate the debate around the term) too force a view on someone aggressively and forcefully is, as I see, disrespectful both of human freedom and our moral duty to respect that freedom.

Jospeh said...

I'll have to take King Aardvark to task here. Faith, as most Evangelicals teach it (and to some extent even Catholics) is more than mere belief "that" God exists--it is a belief "in" him. It is about having a relationship with God. "Believe IN the Lord Jesus"--not as you would believe in Santa Claus, but as you would believe in someone who is your hero. Basically we're talking about building trust here.

Now, the big question that John brings up is why isn't God doing more to help us believe and build that trust, towards an actual relationship with him? It seems to me that if he had appeared from the sky and averted a tragedy like the bridge collapse that many would not only believe "that" but would also believe "in." Wouldn't it be great for God to be the hero of the headlines?

Shygetz said...

As a sidenote I would argue that the PRIMARY reason that such overwhelming evil pops up everyone is not the moral ignorance itself but human arrogance. Let me explain. If one is humble (and again, I think we can all agree that is something Christ and Paul taught quite bluntly) then we will not go around trying to bash people's heads in about certain truths.

What does arrogance have to do with birth defects and natural disasters?

My own personal view on the issue is that God allows man-kind to discover morality, which is of course a painful process indeed.

That does not answer John's question, which is WHY does God force man to do this rather than make the truth clear?

Yet in almost every case, it is (I think we can all agree on this) Christians who enter the trenches of moral ignorance and take it on.

False, and arrogantly ethnocentrical. Great philosophers of morality and ethics have arisen out of every major tradition you can name, including atheism.

However, one still has to somehow prove that God is not being good in allowing this too happen if it is agreed upon that it is good that man is given alot of responsibility in protecting and preserving the moral order.

Do we give a cop the responsibility of upholding the law without trying our best to ensure that he knows what the law is? Should we punish our children for breaking rules that we have not told them clearly? Why do you absolve God of the responsibility of not making his morality clear to mankind, then granting them the free will to either follow or not?

Simply put, I think we may have to adjust our view of what divine goodness means. Does it mean God will be, as Lewis put it, a senile benevolence who wishes that everyone just have a good time? No. The blood of the martyrs and the crucifixion can attest to that in spades.

Then what is divine goodness? At what point will you concede that what you attribute to the divine is no longer what can be considered "good"?

What action could God take that would make you admit that it was evil?

GordonBlood said...

Alot to comment on by your response shygetz but most of it seems to be misunderstanding which is fine.
1) I was referring simply to actions of man-kind, obviously. My own personal belief is that if God wishes to create a being through a long and winded process, that is his choice. I personally hold (agnostically) a number of different answers to the situation of natural evil, primarily that it allows us to make far better use of our free-will (again, I do not think it is God's intention that we never feel pain) and also, frankly, that it makes us realise that we do not live in a perfect order... my response however is that if the universe is a massive cosmic accident which does it have in other places such amazing beauty and why is it that a creature that is built by pure evolution (which, again, i more-less go along with) wishes for something much much greater?
2) So you are looking for an answer as to WHY God does thing. Such a thing seems alittle bit begging the point but a logical possiblbity is that God values free-will in discovering moral truths that he will allow those amoung us who are evil to, for the short duratiion of their lives (roughly 50-90 years) to abuse that privilege.
3) I was most certainly not saying that it is ONLY Christians. I was saying that, historically, Christians play a major role in social justice movements. Frankly I never saw Bertrand Russell feeding dying lepers in the gutters of Calcutta nor AJ Ayer leading peace-marches. You get my point, do not try to smear my words.
4)I never said I absolved the accountability. If I am correct and there exists a God and that God will give me an afterlife I will ask these questions for which I can provide plausible but not bullet-proof answers. I am a Christian because of what I know, not because of my ignorance of specific issues. As for plausible answers it has to be locked away, I think at least, in God's wishing us to navigate the murky water of moral decision making. Is that wrong? Would it be technically easier for us (and him) to just appear out of nowhere and give us the clearest commands possible. Certainly. However, I myself do see the good in allowing us to learn for ourselves.
5) Well if you want to get into subjectivist nonsense we can but thats a pretty silly road to go down. If God were to make us zombies who have no free-will at all could I consider him good? No. If God were to torture people for eternity could I call him good? No. (do not retort hell because I do not buy for a second the popular view of hell as being an eternal torture chamber, it seems to me to be something read into the text). But is it evil that God allows beings, whether they be human or not, to suffer pain as a result of natural processes. No, I do not think, mainly because pain is a very good survival mechanism indeed. I hope that clears up at least afew misconceptions of what I said, though I fear that you purposefully made afew on purpose.

lowendaction said...

John - I am sorry to have "pushed your button", it surely wasn't my intent, but I will reply to your questions/challenges as best I can.

What you call blind faith, I call mans inability to fully understand and the live out God's plan. Are we really that dumb a species that we need "Owning slaves are bad" spelled out to us? Just because there have been Christians who have USED the bible (portions thereof) or other religious extrapolations, does not automatically lead to the conclusion of God's inability to communicate. He made it difficult and mysterious, so that we would have to put some effort into this whole life experience!

See, I don't have to justify God's actions with those who are "innocent" or whatever, because I believe that He created ALL of this (including them), so what He chooses to ultimatly do with them, is entirely up to Him. I have committed to this belief, so therefore I don't have the luxury of "putting Him in a box" and coming up with whitty explanations for Him.

What I consider obvious, is quite simply His creation. No one can convince me that the perfection of Math and Music are the result of a cosmic coinkydink!! To me every living thing is His very signature of perfection (one could argue flaws and symantics all day long, but in the end, these creations are not only incredible, but in most ways still a complete mystery to man!).

As to the "so-called" line. I realize it sounded very much like an off handed judgement, and for that I appologize. While I was writing this, I was contemplating the scriptures that talk about those who will "do many things" in the name of Christ/God, but in the end, He will not have known them. IOW, just because someone has a cross in their building, and claims the name Christian, does not automatically connect them to God. Using "so-called" was no more than my saying...I really don't know for sure where they stand with God. And that's the whole point. My belief is not based on what "other Christians" do or say, but what His word has to show me.

I guess from where I stand, using the actions of people to judge the merit of ones belief is a little shallow.

I fought in Iraq, and I can honestly say that I know the difference between a Muslim extremist and a "regular" Muslim believer. You can't tell me that their belief or entire culture is based on the actions of a few (even if it was a many!).

As a species, we are weak-minded, and history has shown that the right (or wrong...)person with engouh motivation and people skills can move masses to do unspeakable things. If that person chooses to use religion as their vehilce, this again does not declare the inhearant evil of that belief system.

To your final challange: I will not compare myself to any other believer (of any kind), simply because it is not my place to do so. Does it anger me that what I believe as a Christian is sometimes different than what others of the same title claim? Of course. But what good does it do me to pick them appart? I go to my one true source (obviously this might vary for some, but for me it is the modern translations of the evangelical bible NIV, NAS, the Message, etc) and wrestle with God 1:1.

Again, and this is important, I am not accusing or judging anyone specifically with any of these statements. I am merely attempting to respond to John's writings.

P.S. I find this post a rather delicious contrast to Lee's most recent one.

Thank you

SteveJ said...

> ... Using "so-called" was no more than my saying...I really don't know for sure where they stand with God. ...

> I fought in Iraq, and I can honestly say that I know the difference between a Muslim extremist and a "regular" Muslim believer.


Lowendaction:

There are Christians who would doubt just where you stand with God, because you fought in the military for the sake of a political entity. And they have a good argument. Would Jesus have shed blood on behalf of a country? Can you love your enemies while trying to kill them? How can you be "harmless as doves" while toting a rifle? How can you follow Jesus when he himself said, "Everyone who takes up the sword shall perish by the sword"?

Maybe you're a little overconfident about your relationship with God.

SteveJ said...

I guess my point is that no matter what you do, there's always a person somewhere who will question whether you're a "true" Christian.

Shygetz said...

gordonblood:

1) The Problem of Evil is usually limited to natural phenomena in order to simplify out the questions of free will. The PoE speaks to the vast amount of suffering that exists independent of man's free will and without any obvious potential use for greater good (e.g. fatal yet lingering birth defects). I would argue that great beauty does not exist independent of the observer, and that one potential explanation is that we evolved to find certain things in the universe to be beautiful, and that had the universe been different from what it is, our standards of beauty would also be different to match it. I'm not sure what exactly you mean by people wanting something much, much greater. If by that you mean the desire for divinity, there are various hypotheses with varying amounts of data behind them. You should know that artificial stimulation of particular parts of the brain have been shown to trigger that feeling of transcendental oneness that you may be referring to, which indicates that this feeling is physical in nature.

2) John was asking originally why God, with all of the attributes normally associated with him by Christians (a loving desire for his children to know him), did not grant to all mankind (or at least to his followers) a clear view of what he wanted from them. Is it not an equally powerful test of free will to instill in man a firm knowledge of what is right, and then allow his free will to determine if he will follow what is right, or follow what is profitable?

3) You stated "Yet in almost every case, it is (I think we can all agree on this) Christians who enter the trenches of moral ignorance and take it on." This is untrue. Even when you try to reword it into charity, this is untrue. For every Christian feeding dying lepers in Calcutta, there are ten or more Hindus doing the same. There are powerful charities done in the name of vairous faiths, as well as wholly secular charities. I did not smear your words; I read them in their whole context and responded to the hubris contained within.

4) This is all John was claiming; that it is God's fault that Christians do not understand him. If you agree, then you have no argument on this point.

5) If it is a silly road, then blame your fellow theists for opening it by defining good as "whatever God is/does". I'm glad to know that you, at least, have some limits on what you would accept as good from God. But now I suggest you inspect your limits and ask why you place them there.

You would say that, if God tortured people for eternity, that would be evil. Well, what if he tortured people for a year? A week? A day? You claim that God should allow people to suffer due to "natural processes", but if your God is the traditional intercessory God of the Bible, there really isn't such a thing as a natural process; they are all God-influenced. God chooses to allow babies to be born with terrible birth defects; he chooses to allow children to slowly suffocate under the rubble of buildings that collapse in an earthquake. None of these were caused by an exercise of free will; at what point do they become evil?

I'm going out of town, so I'm afraid I have to drop out of this discussion. I'm sure someone more capable will pick up where I left off...

lowendaction said...

stevej -

To question my Christianity is every man's right, and who am I to stand in their way?

Am I overconfident in my relationship with God? I'm not sure if I know what that really means. The relationships that I maintain are done so by my COMPLETE attention and devotion (to the best of my ability...I am after all not perfect;). So my choosing to be in relation with God is a wholehearted decision. I believe any other approach would be less than genuine.

As to my time in the military (which has now thankfully ended...baring my being re-activiated within the next year), I joined the Marine Corps pre-9/11 and had no intentions of being involved in any kind of war, though I was realistically aware of such a possibility (mind you, this was before we actually KNEW Bush...), I was reasonably sure I wouldn't be effected by it, and I could do my four years in relative peace, after which I would have gained all kinds of wonderful experience.

Unfortunatly, things didn't quite work our that way for me. However, I can proudly say that I did not knowingly kill anyone. That does not mean that I would have hesitated for a second to take out someone who was directly threatening my life or that of one of my fellow Marines. I'm not going to try and scriptually explain such actions. I personally feel that I am on good terms with God on this matter. And that's all that really matters, considering that this is something between Him and me.

Finally, I would be cautious to use "bible sound bites". They can often be wielded to conveniently fit any given arguement.

SteveJ said...

> So my choosing to be in relation with God is a wholehearted decision. I believe any other approach would be less than genuine.

OK. If you're wholehearted, why don't you sell everything and go live in the slums, ministering to the destitute?

lowendaction said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lowendaction said...

john (and anyone else...)

So here's my challenge/question for you:

Since you put such high a degree of faith in your belief in evolution. Please explain to me why humans have self awereness and a mind built for purpose and meaning? What possible darwinian evolutionary function could such an imense leap from animal to man entail?

Since it is clear that the animal kingdom simply exsists to procreate and then ceases to be, and man is simply one or two ladder rungs above that, why the big brains?

I'm obviously no evolutionarian [:), so I would love some cearity on this quandary.

thanks

GordonBlood said...

ugh why did I have to post on the most contentious issue on Christian philosophy... Oh well, time for me to start typing.
1) Im not sure what you mean by fatal but lingering birth defects, but im assuming things such as massive mutations and so on. Well the Christian answer is that we have a choice how to treat that individual. We can take the Peter Singer option, which is to destroy the individual. Or we can, at our own material expense, take care of that individual. Plus one can show bravery and patience living with that affliction. Again, I do not think suffering to be evil. I think Richard Swinburne gives a full elucidation of my primary belief on the issue here-http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/resources/Summer%20Course%201/046_Richard_Swinburne.mp3

2) I may be mistaken by what you are saying here but if you are suggesting that God should somehow insert in man an Aristotelian definition of rights and wrong I think that is tinkering with the issue quite abit. By that I simply mean that one is playing around with words so much "he should give us x-amount more moral knowledge" that it becomes a what-if argument. As for the situation you provided I doubt we would be that much more different historically because once you get free-will into the system you will also, inherently, get different conceptions of what is profittable and, indeed, what we really should do. When I was a deist I didnt understand this line of reasoning either until I really immersed myself into the real implications of free-will.
3) First a hard-nosed response, you either misread the context or simply took the pretext of disproving me wrong attempted to squirrel the argument in such a way that i looked arrogant. Obviously there are 10 Hindu's doing good (how you define good id love to see, but that is a different conversation entirely) and I suspect it is a much greater ratio than 10-1. I will correct myself on one thing however, I should have said western movements. So it was Christians, in the west, who fought against slavery, child-labor/prostitution, racism etc and built hospitals, orphanages, homeless shelters etc. If you take offence in your reading of my comment than I apologize, it was not my intent.
4) While I would take several issues here as to what faulthood is, I will agree for the sake of argument that God does take on the issue of allowing ignorance, as well as evil, to happen. Whether or not it was evil of him to do so however is another question entirely.
5) Fine, I agree with you here that there are certainly circumstances in which if God allowed certain things to happen he could be called evil; that for me is not problematic. As for this torture word I should not have used that as it has alot of negative connotations ( I suspect we immediately picture Dante's inferno) The correct word I think is punishment. If God exists and hell exists do I think it would be wrong for a man such as Hitler, Stalin etc (the usual bad guys) to be punished for what they did and either be destroyed or have a chance for redemption somewhere along the line or lose what made them truly free beings and simply be former shadows of themselves? No I dont, and I suspect you agree with me on this to some extent, though obviously you doubt the theology behind it. As for this issue of birth defects and buildings I have two responses. Firstly a good number ARE preventable by human-beings who, whether we like it or not in terms of preference, God has given wardship over the created order, at least on this planet. Chemical spills, untested food products, poor living conditions are all examples of humans not just allowing but making these things happen (obviously God allows them but I think that allowing beings for a limited time (again, 50-90 years) to have free-reign is morally permissable, especially is heaven exists. Now with the issue of natural evils I think we simply have to peg this down to the vry nature of being material flesh and blood creatures. Unless you are suggesting God should have made us perfect, inserted us in paradise etc I dont think there would be a need for free-will... or at least free-will would be relatively unnecessary. Again I can appreciate that you may disagree on somethings here and that this isnt a perfect treatment of the issue but, frankly, im really not the sort of person to write a book on a topic that has been talked about for over 1900 years almost non-stop in some form or another. Il leave that to Plantinga or someone else who is more qualified than myself.
Afterthought- Im sorry, I did not address your critique of my issue I brought up about the beauty of creation. Personally I think your skirting the problem here... if you are going to deny that beauty, and hence natural goodness, exists than how are you possibly going to make an argument for natural evil... it seems to me that you are suggesting preference rather than objectivity is at play here. But more importantly what mechanism is actualyl suggested that would make us thing for example that the sunset or the moon is beautiful? I myself take the view that it is an emergent property (as evolutionary creatures become more complex, theyre ability to realize things is more complex, but it is not a result of evolution itself per se). As I have said, I am a fairly orthodox darwinian but I dont think any good arguments have been made for why humans would think things like sunsets or the stars are beautiful in the wat we do. Certainly animals appreciate pretty things but beauty seems to be uniquely transcendent to humanity. What I mean by people wanting something "much much greater" (my thats terribly amateurishly written... oh well I am an amateur so there goes) is that most people both in the historic past and the present truly wish for more than just this life. Gorillas may have many human-like traits but I dont think they will be experiencing existential doubts any time soon. While I disagree with CS Lewis on some issues I think he was right to say that if there are things the massive majority of mankind (as opposed to a small group, which could simply be preferential novelty) wants, than chances are those things, in some form or another, truly exist. As for the brain issue that seems quite reductionist to me; yeah sure if you prod the brain in such and such a way it will do that, I certainly agree, but that has no say on whether or not it is just a physical event all the time. Andy Newberg, who is the person who studies alot of these things, feels himself that chances are there does have to be some sort of spiritual reality behind it; though he is more nuanced as to what that may be.

Larry said...

I guess the easy answer to this post is that Christians are not going to stop. If one "Christian" stops, God will call another. From the atheist's perspective, it is a futile attempt to "debunk" Christianity.

Matthew 16:18b "...on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it"

The church will not fall. Period.

I just posted this in another post:
"Those attacking Christianity sometimes point to the many religious wars and atrocities perpetrated in the name of Christ and the Church. They forget that not everyone self-labeled ‘Christian’ truly follows Christ."
Read more at:
http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v20/i3/blood.asp

A debate followed:
http://www.answersingenesis.org/Home/Area/feedback/2005/0204.asp


What did Christ Teach?
Mark 12:28-31
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."


Another interesting read:
The power of ideas
What you believe does matter
http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v24/i1/ideas.asp

lowendaction said...

Who's destitute? Only those who are less fortunate?

I'll just pretend like that wasn't racial profiling. Furthermore, who's to say that middle America working out of a cube doesn't need to know about Christ's love as much as the respected members of this blog?

silly question.

(sorry...typos)

Jospeh said...

If I were a bystander watching the sparks fly (which is what I've been for the past two months), here's what I would be hearing:

I hear atheists saying, "Look around you at the natural and/or moral evil. It is inconsistent with what Christians claim about the nature of God."

I hear Christians responding, "Well, God is more concerned with allowing us to exercise our free will than he is by stopping or preventing evil phenomena."

Do you see what's happening? The conversation always seems to shift away from an evaluation of God's character to what seems like a side argument on free will.

There is no question that there is free will and that we learn things from having free choice. But it still doesn't solve the problem of why God stands by and does nothing when a child is molested, a bridge collapses, or a nation is systematically exterminated. What can possibly be gained morally from these things happening? There would be FAR more gained morally if the sickos were STOPPED in the act, the bridge disaster was AVERTED, the people of Sudan RESCUED.

I don't care whether God does it overtly (hand out of the sky) or covertly (through "his people"). The fact is, HE'S NOT DOING ANYTHING. That's what the evidence tells us--hence it is a powerful argument against God or at least what Christians have traditionally taught about God's character. It is a crack in the dyke, so to speak--and the free will argument is only a rouse to keep us from noticing that the crack is getting wider by the minute.

John W. Loftus said...

I was away and still have not heard a Christian meet my challenge.

Just in case they missed it, here it is again: My challenge is this: Tell me what they believed or how they acted and I will show you how easliy God could have straightened them out.

Why no takers?

And lowendaction, as far as us having big brains goes, if we have minds then God did not have to create us with brains at all, nor create any animals who prey on each other and whom we prey on to eat. The loving thing to do is for God to have created us all as vegetarians...all of his creatures, and made vegetation to grow as plenteous as wild weeds do today. If you say God cannot do this, then you deny he can work miracles...perpetual ones, which as far as a Christian knows are themselves the laws of nature. In fact, a loving God did not even have to create us such that we needed to eat anything at all, nor did he have to create any animals either. He could've had our bodies replenish themselves with nutrients miraculously everyday and we never would have known differently! And if animals have no eternal purpose and they have no moral lessons to learn from the pain of the law of predation, then it doesn't make any moral sense to have created them at all. To say that animals suffer like this because of a human fall is inexplicable. Why did God make animals suffer because of a human fall? YOU EXPECT SO VERY LITTLE OF YOUR GOD! That's why I said it is blind faith!

Now meet my challenge. Thank you.

John W. Loftus said...

Joseph said...There would be FAR more gained morally if the sickos were STOPPED in the act...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Compare that to what we do as human beings. We lock these people up. We take away their freedom. We think this is a good thing. It helps people to live peacful lives.

Can you hear any sane person saying, yes, but freedom is so precious we shouldn't stop them? Sorry, but sometimes I have nothing else to say but "bullshit!"

We already have examples in the Bible where God took away people's freedom when he killed them, and we have Pharoah whose heart was hardened. So God can do it. Freedom isn't a good thing when it comes to sicko's, so where is God?

I'll tell you where. No where.

larryniven said...

"my response however is that if the universe is a massive cosmic accident which does it have in other places such amazing beauty and why is it that a creature that is built by pure evolution (which, again, i more-less go along with) wishes for something much much greater?"

Probably because if you don't continually wish for something greater than what you have, you have less incentive to improve your life. Can't you see how that might be evolutionarily disadvantageous?

"But is it evil that God allows beings, whether they be human or not, to suffer pain as a result of natural processes. No, I do not think, mainly because pain is a very good survival mechanism indeed."

That's a contingent fact and you're blowing it out of proportion. Pain is a good survival mechanism *because we are the way we are.* If we had been created (or had evolved) differently, pain might not be helpful at all. And even you will admit that not all pain is good. The thing about this argument is that your side *can not* win by using small-scale arguments - you are required to prove that *all* suffering is necessary or good.

"Are we really that dumb a species that we need "Owning slaves are bad" spelled out to us?"

...evidently, yes, we are.

"Just because there have been Christians who have USED the bible (portions thereof) or other religious extrapolations, does not automatically lead to the conclusion of God's inability to communicate. He made it difficult and mysterious, so that we would have to put some effort into this whole life experience!"

By "effort," do you mean "needless suffering"? Because it sure seems like you do. So, in that case, what you're saying is that God intentionally set things up so that we'd suffer more than we have to. Think about that real hard.

"As for this issue of birth defects and buildings I have two responses. Firstly a good number ARE preventable by human-beings who, whether we like it or not in terms of preference, God has given wardship over the created order, at least on this planet."

Again, "a good number" *is not sufficient.* So long as there is even one instance of suffering that we could not prevent, the argument stands.

"Now with the issue of natural evils I think we simply have to peg this down to the vry nature of being material flesh and blood creatures. Unless you are suggesting God should have made us perfect, inserted us in paradise etc..."

Neither of those is really necessary. God could have put us down in geologically and ecologically stable areas and made it impossible for us to find the places (like New Orleans) that are prone to being whacked.

Really the bottom line here is that barely anyone has touched the central argument of the original post. It's irrelevant whether or not any group of Christians is "really" Christian; it's irrelevant that parts of the Bible say this or that; it's irrelevant whether such-and-such an act or state is good or bad, because I think we can all agree that, if God exists, this world isn't going the way God wants it to and that therefore God isn't doing everything in God's power to fix it.

John W. Loftus said...

...evidently, yes, we are.

Yes, but I'll say this much stronger.

...obviously, yes we are.

Obviously. So why didn't God figure this out and condemn it.

God is at least partially to blame. To say differently is blind faith.

lowendaction said...

joseph,

I think I've attempted to make this point before, but was either ignored or passed by. So I will re-attempt now.

The free will part really only applies to Adam and Eve. They practiced it, and now we're living it. This is not blame, it's biblical fact.

So, now we are living a life separated from God's direct and tangeble presence.

My point however, is that we must try and not look at this through terrestrial and terminal human eyes, but Godly eternal ones. A life extinguished here on earth (even if it is preceeded with pain and agony) is then in one of two eternal locations. The question then becomes, did that individual have a relationship with God prior to their end on earth? As far as babies, invilids, or those who have never heard of God...way beyond my comprehension of the one who put all this together.

See, I think this is one of the major problems about alot of these conversations. Either you believe in ALL of God, or you don't. We don't get to pick and choose the pieces of God that suit us.

We are so concerned about our little pathetique exsitances here on earth, that we are unable to grasp the amazing love that God has already laid out for us (well, time doesn't really exsist in God's realm...so?!?).

If anything, the kind of suffering you mentioned, should be an even greater motivator to spread this eternal gift that is available to all.

lowendaction said...

John -

Unfortunatley my office clock has run out, and I will unable to resurface until monday. At which point I will gladly take your challenge head on.

Meanwhile, I find it interesting how you didn't answer my question regarding the brain at all. All you did was point out silly "would-be's" and somehow attached them to your theory about God's short commings.

I honestly thougth that my question was a fairly valid and scientifically sound question.

more later...

thank you

Jospeh said...

lowendaction, have you never questioned these beliefs? I mean really questioned them...as thoroughly as you question atheists' beliefs?

You said, "The free will part really only applies to Adam and Eve. They practiced it, and now we're living it. This is not blame, it's biblical fact."

First off, are you arguing that free will ISN'T the reason why God allows moral evil to take place in the world today? You seem to be saying that God could care less about our free will, it's Adam & Eve's choice that he's still pissed about.

That we are held responsible for A & E's bite out of the apple seems to mitigate against a fundamental principle of justice laid down by God himself in Deut 4:16 ("Each is to die for his own sin."). I still have trouble understanding intuitively how Adam's error in judgment could have such dramatic implications for billions of future others. The sad part is, none of us can even offer to make things right for A & E's sin. We all have to suffer...right down to the very last one of us. How cruel.

You also said, "My point however, is that we must try and not look at this through terrestrial and terminal human eyes, but Godly eternal ones."

OK, but which set of God's eyes should we look through? What I see is a God who hates divorces, yet makes specific provision for it in the OT/NT. A God who supposedly doesn't want human beings enslaving one another, but makes an institution out of it in the OT and upholds it the NT. A God who cannot lie, but sends a lying spirit to deceive. A God who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, yet will condemn the vast majority of people to unspeakable torture in hell for eternity. Holy contradictions! When you try to see things from God's perspective, how can you be sure of what it really is? This God who cannot change, sure changes a lot in the Bible.

You said, "Either you believe in ALL of God, or you don't. We don't get to pick and choose the pieces of God that suit us."

Tell me, what is the truth about God? Once you've sorted through the maze of contradictions in the Bible, tell me why should I believe it? What makes your interpretation of the Bible, or adherence to the Bible over any other religious book, of ultimate consequence? Ah, we are back to a question of reason and evidence.

Finally, you said, "We are so concerned about our little pathetique exsitances here on earth, that we are unable to grasp the amazing love that God has already laid out for us..."

You think our existence is small, insignificant, even pathetic? Wow, a lot of pastors would disagree with you! Aren't we the ones accusing the atheists of devaluing human life...and then you go and make a statement like that. But I understand your tactic. If you can just convince me that this life is of no intrinsic value, then there's no reason to get upset about rape, theft, murder...until it happens to you and your family. Then you would be thinking it mighty important! You're shooting your own side in the proverbial foot here.

Btsai said...

lowendaction, I'll take a crack at your challenge.

First, you should be aware that humans are not the only ones with self-awareness. Chimpanzees, dolphins, and other animals have exhibited behavior (like recognizing their own reflection in mirrors) that animal behaviorists accept as evidence of self-awareness. I'll look up the relevant studies if you like.

What survival value does self-awareness have? Self-awareness allows an organism to better understand its relation to its environment, and is the basis for many helpful survival instincts. You can't have instincts for defending one's own territory or even self-preservation without a sense of self.

What survival value does a sense of purpose/meaning have? This one's tougher. Like many other mental capacities, it may not have its own distinct survival value but may be an extension of one that does have survival value. In this case, it could've developed as an extension of trying to figure out another animal's motivation, or our capacity to plan for some goal. After all, purpose/meaning is just another way of referring to motivation and goal.

How did these two come about? My take is similar to gordonblood's take on our sense of beauty. I think they are emergent properties of sufficiently complex brains. Our brains grew more and more complex because it allowed us to better process input from our environment, and at a certain stage, it became complex enough to support self-awareness and planning, which gave rise to seeking of purpose/meaning.

I will be the first to admit that this is all speculation on my part. As far as I know, evolutionary theory isn't particularly concerned with "why" something evolved. It just says that if some trait is retained in a population, it likely granted some evolutionary advantage.

What evolutionary theory is concerned with are the mechanisms (natural selection, genetic drift, etc.) by which organisms evolve. And we have lots of very good evidence that support evolutionary theory's claims about what these mechanisms are and how they work. I highly recommend reading the following link for an intro on what evolutionary theory really says, and some of the evidence we have for it:

TalkOrigin's intro to Evolutionary Biology

Jennifer said...

What would it take?

It would take you explaining why God should even bother with people who don't listen to Him even when He does show Himself. What does the world say when a person claims they were healed of cancer? They say, "we can explain that..blah blah blah". Tell me how a young man is prayed for an his short leg grows three inches on the spot. We aren't going to run and tell the news, they would sensationalize a powerful moment between a young man and God.

I'll tell you what...my 10 year old has a mass in her pancreas. I don't expect God to heal it. I will ask Him to, but with all the toxins we depend on every day, why should God intervene?

When every single person on this planet gets on their knees and asks God to forgive them for their little part of messing up the planet and each other..for disregarding and ignoring Him and being so busy with churchy stuff or work or whatever..and we all stay there until we cannot physically survive any longer...if at that point, God does nothing I will concede that I am wrong and there is no god.

It is all the fault of man.

lowendaction said...

btsai -

Thank you for your insightful and respectful response. I obviously have a great deal to learn in that arena, and I appreciate you taking the time to give me a glimps.

lowendaction said...

joseph -

have you never questioned these beliefs?

Absolutely! Everyday. My very presence here should underscore that.

are you arguing that free will ISN'T the reason why God allows moral evil to take place in the world today? You seem to be saying that God could care less about our free will, it's Adam & Eve's choice that he's still pissed about.

This and many of my comments are the product of me trying to juggle not getting fired and work, and attempting to capture some complex issues in as few words as possible. All I was trying to get at wtih the A & E thing, was that they set a chain of events in motion. Or better yet, they broke the original bond with God. I think if they hadn't done it, one of their little brats would have. I seriously doubt that God was really shocked by this. I believe that many of such occurances, are really for our later benifit to help us grasp some of God's deeper characteristics, and less about A & E themselves. IOW, they enabled our free will as we know it today. And no, I don't believe God is still sitting around moping about his first two prototypes going AWOL.

The sad part is, none of us can even offer to make things right for A & E's sin.

Enter Jesus.

God's eyes

This is of course only an attempt. If we believe that God is truely the creator, do you really think we could actually fully grasp all that He is? No, and I'm not even suggesting it. However, He did send His son, so that we might strive to be more like Him. Just because he doesn't enjoy seeing us suffer, doesn't mean that he's not going to allow it. I think we must finally put to rest this image of a gentle old man with the flowing beard. Stephen Law calles himself a naturalist. Well, I think God is the ultimate naturalist. Life and Death are synonimous. Pleasure and pain, good and evil, these are all very real and for the most part balanced facts of our present world.

Tell me, what is the truth about God?

Why do you seek the truth? Is it to embrace it, or to reject it. You will find that both approaches have vastly different outcomes.

You think our existence is small, insignificant, even pathetic? ... But I understand your tactic. If you can just convince me that this life is of no intrinsic value, then there's no reason to get upset about rape, theft, murder...until it happens to you and your family. Then you would be thinking it mighty important!

Another example of my poor literary skills. I was attempting to make a comparison based on the amount of value we put in our present existance versus our eternal one. Pathetique, was a poor choice. In fact, our purpose/meaning here on earth is of great eternal importance. Not only as a determining factor of our ultimate destination, but of our function there (of which I have no real idea, but am more than excited about!).

As to bringing the whole thing home with that line about family tradgidy. There's really no need for that. You don't know me. You don't know my life. Nore do I know yours, so let's keep it that way. However, I can tell you that no such tactic was in my mind. In fact, I do not believe (as previously stated), that any of this present living is meaningless. It only becomes meaningless when your goals have a terrestial timeline, as apposed to an eternal one.

Human suffering, be it at home or far removed, is tragic and inexcusible. The only way any of it CAN make sense to me, is that God exsists, and that He has a place waiting for me, and every other person who accepts Him, that is completely void of any negative element that we are currently burdend with. And so it becomes my lifes mission to share this truth with as many people that are willing and able to hear it. I would rather it piss a person off now, and somehow later sink in, than miss the opportunity and see that person miss out on an eternity with the one who is love.

And yes, that means that Christians are charged with the responsibilty of spreading His love. We can not save anyone, only God can. But we are His earthly presence, through whom the world might recognize Him. Do all Christians screw this up on a daily basis, to include myself...absolutely. But that doesn't make His love and longing for us stop, nore does it get me or any other believer off the hook.

thank you for allowing me to share.

Btsai said...

lowendaction, thank you for your compliment. I'm just another guy learning what he can. One who, like you, tries to balance writing about complex issues and posting from work without getting fired :)

lowendaction said...

larry - john,

...evidently, yes, we are.

I do believe that there are some significant biblical translation issues with the word slave as it pertains to that period in time.

http://users.joplin.com/faith/slave.htm

what you're saying is that God intentionally set things up so that we'd suffer more than we have to. Think about that real hard.

More than what? Where does this utopian alternate reality exist? Just because God has the powers to make such things exist, does not logically impy that He must do so because that's how we think it should be! His design is not only beyond our comprehension, it is also beyond our demention of time and space...

I have thought about this...REALLY hard, and if this is price that we must pay for what He has promised...bring it on!!!

It seems clear to me that there are some very key character traits of God that seem either irrelivant to you or insignificant. The truth is, your choosing not to accept God's very existance will always limit your understanding of God's person. This is not a "look at how much I know about my God, and you don't konw Jack" arguement. It's just a fact.

Jennifer said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Compare that to what we do as human beings. We lock these people up. We take away their freedom. We think this is a good thing. It helps people to live peacful lives.

OK..let's have God come tell us to build enormous prisons and then we will farm the land, sew the clothes, fetch the water and provide the medicine they need in order to keep them all alive. Sounds like a great way for the rest of us to live...support all the sickos so they can get free care.

Or..would you propose God supply all their needs through miraculous intervention? If that's the case, there are days I would rather be in prison!

Or maybe you think God should build this prison or create another planet for all the sickos but let us stay here. Those people won't suffer necessarily except to be abusing each other...then what is solved? All of the transgressors would be complaining like you are and saying how unfair it is for God to send them away.

I'm sorry, John, that is just idiocy.

I would like YOU to answer my questions.

David B. Ellis said...


Tell me how a young man is prayed for an his short leg grows three inches on the spot.


This is very easy to fake and is one of the most common "miracles" among faith-healers knowingly perpetrating a fraud.

And I am not claiming all faith-healers are frauds. I think some of them honestly believe they are healing people (though, I suspect, on rather poor evidence).

Faith-healing is quite an interesting topic in its own right. I'm all for an indepth discussion on this topic.

David B. Ellis said...

In particular, I'd love to discuss what any christian out there takes to be the most well-documented miraculous healing of which they have heard that they consider to be both massively implausible by anything other than supernatural intervention and most well supported by hard empirical evidence in these two regards:

a. the illness, deformity, etc is extremely well documented as having actually been suffered by the victim and, preferably, be of a sort that could not plausibly have been misdiagnosed (an amputated limb would be ideal; it would take a pretty incompetent doctor to misdiagnose that).

and

b. be well documented to have been eliminated following the faith-healing. Again, an amputee would be the ideal subject here since this is something that simply doesnt happen in humans in the natural course of events

larryniven said...

"I do believe that there are some significant biblical translation issues with the word slave as it pertains to that period in time."

...thank you? That's the author's exact point, so I'm not sure who you're supposed to be arguing against here.

"His design is not only beyond our comprehension, it is also beyond our demention of time and space..."

Okay, so stop talking about it. If you claim that it's utterly beyond your comprehension, then why should I listen to you at all?

"It seems clear to me that there are some very key character traits of God that seem either irrelivant to you or insignificant."

Funny - my thoughts exactly. Isn't your God supposed to be all-good? Wouldn't an all-good God do everything in its power not to be misunderstood? Etc. Try to stay focused.

Jennifer said...

David,
Your comment is just what I mean!

This didn't happen with a "faith healer", it was a private affair between a few people. The only testimony is from the person, family, friends and doctor. There is no way to convince you! How can God win?

I'd be interested to read what you have to say about what you know. I don't put any stock in faith healers, just to be clear, but I wouldn't put it past God to heal someone through them if He chose to.
I can't think of the names of the books but there have been at least a couple of books written with stories from doctors of miraculous healing.
How can you say it isn't God? Should God bypass our physical make-up to work a miracle...like miraculously place a pacemaker in someone's heart? Even then no one would believe..they would say the person went to Mexico to get it done secretly where there is no record.

gwc said...

(This may've been said before)
Ironic that it is all man's fault!

I wonder if this can be crafted into an atheist indirect argument from evil?

ie, Omnipotent god necessitates divine responsibility; Christian's own (correct) assertion of human responsibility (as vain refutation of argument from evil) thus itself implies indirect RAA, QED

But perhaps such arguments are unnecessary, seeing as atheists' seem to get along fine with purely logical (non-empirical) arguments from evil.

Jospeh said...

Lowendaction, thanks for clarifying your comments. Yes, I understand the Christian teaching of Jesus as atonement for sins--A&E and our own. I was just trying to tie all this together with the problem of evil and was perhaps a bit rushed in the framing of the argument myself.

I may be way off in what I'm to say next, but I'm going to do some free thinking here: If Jesus is the answer to the sin problem, if he restores our relationship with God, just as it was before the curse of Eden, then should we not be FULLY restored the moment we are saved, i.e. no bodily sickness, suffering, pain, and physical death? I know, heaven is posited as the solution to all of this, but why wait for heaven? Forgiveness is forgiveness, right? Restoration is either full restoration or not at all. Why should we continue to carry the burden of the curse within our bodies and sphere of influence, if we have been accepted by God through the atonement of Jesus?

At the very least, we should be able to see Christians continue the works of Christ on the earth, with all the healing, miracles, and such (here's where the Pentecostals have, at least, picked up on the logical necessity of this). Jesus told his disciples (which was obviously a greater circle than just the twelve at the time) that they would do greater works than him. So, why is it that the church isn't mobilizing as a united force healing the sick, suffering, etc? There are, of course, theological reasons for saying that the sign gifts have ceased, but do you see my point? And no, Benny Hinn's miracle crusades don't count.

The Christian theology now seems to me to be conveniently patterned so as to fit the realities of life as we know it. Nothing changes when one becomes a Christian except perhaps his frame of mind and (hopefully) the way he treats others and does business. That much I do appreciate the influence of Jesus for.

But when it comes to offering convincing answers for why God continuously allows evil and suffering, I see none in sight, save for the standard admonition, "Just believe, we'll understand it all by and by."

Bruce said...

lowendaction asks: Since you put such high a degree of faith in your belief in evolution. Please explain to me why humans have self awereness and a mind built for purpose and meaning? What possible darwinian evolutionary function could such an imense leap from animal to man entail?

Since it is clear that the animal kingdom simply exsists to procreate and then ceases to be, and man is simply one or two ladder rungs above that, why the big brains?

I'm obviously no evolutionarian [:), so I would love some cearity on this quandary.


Your first mistake is assuming that there has to be some purpose for why things are the way they are. The process of evolution is not geared toward any ultimate goal or purpose. Humans have these abilities because they evolved to have them, that is all, there is no "why" about it. If we were able to start evolution over again from the very beginning there is no guarantee that anything even close to humans would develop.

The other thing to keep in mind is that human beings have been around for a very short period of time, evolutionarily speaking. Thus, it may be that having such a big brain and all those unique cognitive abilities may not turn out to be the best route for survival and humans may only be on this planet for a limited time. I think something like 95% of all species that have ever existed on this planet are extinct. Obviously the evolutionary process has "created" many species that ultimately didn't survive. I know we humans like to think that we can outwit evolution, and to some degree we may be able to. But if I was a betting man, I would place all of my money on the cockroach to win the evolutionary race over humans.

lowendaction said...

Thanks bruce!!!

Very honest. I like that. So that's the alternative to God? Wow. I think I'm just going to stick to my guns.

thanx

lowendaction said...

joseph,

then should we not be FULLY restored the moment we are saved

Here's how it makes sense in my head. God's got this masterplan that goes way beyond this earthly present. And I think He's looking for a few individuals who are worthy of His challenge. This is why our present existance is often referred to as a test. He wants to see if we REALLY want what He has to offer. In hindsight of heaven, even the most hanous suffering will be wiped from our minds. So Jesus arrival has less to do with life getting better here on earth, and more with building the connection to God, with heavenly a heavenly outcome. In fact, Christ made it quite clear that to follow Him would cost us dearly.

And that takes me to this whole idea of a "good" God. Another product of modern regligious marketing. Our definition of "good", and how that applies to God are two different things. Again, it's the big picture. We can only think of the things done here on earth, right now. God sees "the big picture". So what's a little suffering now in light of eternity? This is not me making light of suffering, just tyring to remove our egocentric human perspective for just a second.

thanks for the dialoge brother.

lowendaction said...

General statement to DC and followers:

Why do you seek to understand God? Is it to disprove Him, or to truely know Him?

I would argue, that if your goal is to disprove Him, and you are unwilling to first really knowing Him, your answers will forever support your supposition. And though you may have been a Christian in days gone by, this does not automatically qualify your knowledge of Him.

I'm not accusing anyone of anything. If this does not apply to you, great!

The logical response to this: "Well, how do YOU claim to know God."

First of all, knowing God, does not imply knowing EVERYTHING about God. It refers to a journey of relational intimacy.

Second, one must first concede His existence, if only temporarily.

Third, one must be open and willing to study and learn from His word, and honestly wrestle with the mysterious and hidden truths that lie below the surface. Many will simply take sound bytes from the literal pages of this book, and then throw them around to support their position. The bible is not a manual. It is not a narrative. It is the self proclaimed living and real word of God. Discover this and challenge this.

If you use your facts and the bible to simply underscore a belief which you are unwilling to part with, than what are you really doing here?

I can not speak for anyone else but my own motivations. But when I come to this blog, and many others like it, I do my very best to lay my own belief system aside for a few moments, and honestly contemplate and study that which is being presented. Then I will compare this to what I have established as my truth. Somtimes it may augment my belief, other times it will not.

Finally, I just want to reiderate. I am not accusing anyone here of being stupid, or ignorant, or anything derogative (if my language suggests otherwise, it is my inability to better express myself that you must blame, not my intent!). This is merely an observation that I believe EVERY person that contributes to this site should take to heart.

thanks for listening, you are all highly respected in my book.

Bruce said...

Very honest. I like that. So that's the alternative to God? Wow. I think I'm just going to stick to my guns.

No, that is the scientific explanation for how we (and all other species) came to be here. Granted, it needs no supernatural intervention, but it doesn't in any way replace what most people are looking for in God.

I would say that a truer "alternative to God" would be a philosophy like Secular Humanism. Yes, this incorporates evolution, but it also strives to give people a "meaning" to life and a moral framework to live by. I think you'll find that it shares a whole lot in common with your religious values, but of course there are some differences.

Evolution is great for explaining how things got to where they are but it is really rather poor for explaining what we ought to do and why we ought to do it. I think that's why a lot of religious people have no problem incorporating it into their belief system, since it really has little bearing on how they should live their lives. I doubt very few people say to themselves "What Would Evolution Do?" when considering a moral dilemma.

Nightmare said...

lowendaction said... More than what? Where does this utopian alternate reality exist? Just because God has the powers to make such things exist, does not logically impy that He must do so because that's how we think it should be! His design is not only beyond our comprehension, it is also beyond our demention of time and space...

I have thought about this...REALLY hard, and if this is price that we must pay for what He has promised...bring it on!!!


Even with this little bit of text, you are presuming a great deal. Obviously, you presume that your god did in fact create this reality and has the power to do so - a position that is not tenable based on realistic analysis, but that is neither here nor there.

Of more import, you are presuming that your god can be trusted to keep his promises. This I have found, by personal experience, to be very far from the case.

Steve said...

Joseph Said: "There is no question that there is free will and that we learn things from having free choice."

This is far from a certainty. In fact some would argue that nothing we do is from free choice, but rather based on our environment entirely. (Although that would depend on your definition of free will).
Now, on the flipside, I am fairly sure that scientists cannot tell us why/why not we have free will, so the issue is still undecided. But nonetheless, the point is there is a question as to whether it exists or not.

I dunno, the rest of this debate seems like more of a "tell everyone what we feel/believe" deal than really answering John's challenge.

The truth of the matter is this: Christians and Atheists believe what they want to believe. (Along with everybody else). They simply have an emphasis on differing reasons to believe what they do.

David B. Ellis said...


This didn't happen with a "faith healer", it was a private affair between a few people. The only testimony is from the person, family, friends and doctor. There is no way to convince you! How can God win?


Sure there is. By pointing to hard evidence for the claims of miraculous healing.

For example, who was this individual and what evidence is there for him or her having suffered this condition. And what is the evidence for it having suddenly disappeared.

Or, if there is no such evidence to be found for this particular event, can you find ANY claimed miraculous healing where it's available?


I can't think of the names of the books but there have been at least a couple of books written with stories from doctors of miraculous healing.

How can you say it isn't God?



If we can establish that there is a preponderance of evidence for healings that could not plausibly be accounted for by natural processes then I won't claim it isn't God.

So, again, what claim of miraculous healing can you find that is strongly supported by hard evidence to have occurred?


Should God bypass our physical make-up to work a miracle...like miraculously place a pacemaker in someone's heart? Even then no one would believe..they would say the person went to Mexico to get it done secretly where there is no record.


Uh, that would be a pretty weird variety of miracle.....to miraculously install a pacemaker instead of, oh, I don't know.....healing the physical ailment itself.

But I can give you an example of the sort of thing that I would find extremely compelling evidence of the reality of miraculous healing.

If an amputee's limb grew back overnight after having been prayed over by believers.

This has all the characteristics that make it strong evidence:

---it is the sort of ailment that cant be misdiagnosed or faked.

---it is one that is obvious to all who know the person and for which huge numbers of people could testify that the person had the condition.

---it is the sort of condition that does not sometimes get better on its own in the natural course of events (as is the case with things like cancer remission).

Of course, it doesn't have to be amputees to fit the bill. Victims of severe burning and congenital deformities would also fall in this category, just to name a couple of others.

What it comes down to is:

does there exist compelling evidence for miraculous healing or do we have strong grounds for a high degree of reasonable doubt?

David B. Ellis said...


The truth of the matter is this: Christians and Atheists believe what they want to believe. (Along with everybody else). They simply have an emphasis on differing reasons to believe what they do.


The psychology of belief is not so simple as that.

I believe quite a few things that I would much rather not be the case.

Everyone does. (as even a modicum of introspection will reveal).

soulblade2007 said...

So Jennifer, if only select people are healed from diseases and disabilities, are the rest of the afflicted not worthy of the healing? And why should the healed keep quiet? Wouldn't this help convert people who are on the cusp if there is testimony about how the healing showed God's mercy and grace?