Thank God for the Holocaust!



I mean, really, if God allowed it to take place then there was a greater good he desired more than the sufferings of these people, and if that's the case Christians should thank God for it! For the higher, greater good that came out of it was better than had it not happened at all. What was that higher good then? Even if Christians "punt to mystery" here, can they also have it both ways? Can they condemn the Holocaust and at the same time maintain there was a higher, greater good that resulted from it? I don't think so. But they can try. The question for the Christian is this one: Was it better that the Holocaust happened or not? Yes or no?

Thanks to Bill Ross for the link.

155 comments:

zilch said...

In case anyone's interested, here's my translation of the beginning of the song:

I will go to the fir trees
Where I saw her last
But the evening throws a pall over the land
And over the paths behind the edge of the woods
And the woods stand black and empty

Woe is me, woe is me; and the birds sing no more
Without you, I cannot be, without you
With you I am alone too, without you
Without you, I count the hours, without you...

WoundedEgo said...

If we accept the Bible's telling, then Hitler was just warming up the oven for Jesus' mass extermination:

Re 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

If we accept the Catholic-Protestant notion of everlasting torment, then Hitler's actions were less mean spirited than those of Jesus.

And if we accept the Calvinist view, the God created the majority of humans *specifically* to punish them in everlasting conscious torment in order to be glorified, and to show is incredible "justice."

So, burning up sinners, biblically speaking, is a righteous, Jesus kind of thing. Hitler isn't the scary one:

Luke 12:
4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Bill Ross
http://bibleshockers.blogspot.com

Jason said...

I'm shocked and disgusted you're stooping this low to condemn Christianity. The Holocaust was a tragedy of unspeakable measure and you're using it as a soapbox because you're out of brilliant ideas on how to debunk Christianity.

Shame on you.

You're not interested in intellectual conversation. All you're interested in is mindlessly provoking others by appealing to their emotions. I sincerely hope others here stand up and voice their displeasure at such an awful post. Your insinuations are absolutely appalling.

Joseph said...

Oh, Jason, such posturing! Why shouldn't the holocaust be considered when we're talking about the existence of God? You don't have an intellectual answer to the question, so you retreat behind the shield of self-righteousness. Shame on you for avoiding the issue.

Andrew said...

Whats the big deal?

After all, didn't the Jews invent genocide in your view?

Joseph said...

Huh?

Andrew said...

You know...all the old testament exterminations and all.

Andrew said...

To hear Albert Speer tell it, Hitler thought both Christianity and Boshevism were Jewish inventions, and he planned to finish of the Church "after the war".

After all, you can only take on so much at one time!

WoundedEgo said...

Joseph, I think Andrew is referring to the fact that long before the Holocaust, Jews were commanded by Yehovah/Allah to kill all of the Amalekites (an Arab tribe descended from Shem through Iram) in retaliation for their ambushing them when they came out of Egypt:

1 Sam 15:
2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Since the children were not spared, this was genocidal.

However, it is probably not fair to refer to this as the *invention* since we do not know if this was the first time. Perhaps that Arab tribe practiced such killing? Killing the whole family in a case of retaliation might have been a common practice.

However, Hitler's slaughter was not severe retaliation but rather intended to exterminate them for fabricated crimes. We see the same agenda among the modern fundamentalist Islamo-fascists who blame the Jews for 9/11, accuse them of stealing the land that Arabs sold and that was given to the Jews by its Brit protectors, and the UN, etc.

The only Arabs killed by Jews in modern times are those killed in defense from the nations that attacked them when they were just born, retaliation of the Olympic terrorists and in the war against Hezbollah - the terrorist organization bent on destroying Israel and the US, who crossed their border to kidnap, and who fired missles into Israel, and in self defense in Palestinian incidents, such as rock attacks.

There just is no fair comparison there, Andrew. The Holocaust was a very big deal. So is denying it and emulating it.

Bill Ross
http://bibleshockers.blogspot.com

Jason said...

Joseph, read the original post and stop confusing the issues. John's presented two options in his brutal argument, neither of which have anything to do with the existence of God: Either thank God for the "goodness" of the Holocaust or condemn the Holocaust and admit God's intentions were strictly evil.

Nonetheless, considering their involvement in the Holocaust and their belief in God, it's far more relevant to ask a Jew what he or she thinks. I'm sure they'll be receptive to hearing John's argument. I'd love to hear what they say.

Speaking of the Jewish perspective:

"Instead of concentrating solely on those who perished we must focus on those who survived. Given the extreme methods and persistence of the Nazis, how did any Jew escape their grasp? We must not and cannot ignore or judge those who died; but we must also not ignore the evidence of those who survived. Without saying that those who survived deserved to live while those who perished did not, we can still say that God had a reason that we do not understand for protecting some.

We do not know why G-d allows people to suffer and philosophers would be well-advised to recognize and acknowledge the difficulties of horrific suffering. We cannot explain it. But the existence of tragedy does not in any way disprove the reality of G-d. Questions about G-d's existence and providence may be left unanswered but the continued existence of the Jewish people answers at least one of those questions. As Mark Twain wrote:

The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal, but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality? (Mark Twain, "Concerning the Jews," Harper's Magazine, 1897)

I recommend reading the full article: http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_devarim.html

Jon said...

It is easy to identify the greater good that John refers to. Human free will. If God intervened it would violate our God-given right to choose evil.

Bryan Riley said...

It strikes me that men and women were responsible for the holocaust. Men created in His image with the ability to choose life or death. Many, unfortuntately, choose death. Could God have stopped it? Yes, just as He could have stopped the crucifixion. But He doesn't because of His great love that gives us the gift of choosing His way or not.

John W. Loftus said...

Jason said...I'm shocked and disgusted you're stooping this low to condemn Christianity.

Then shall we instead talk about the massacre taking plce in the Congo right now, or the witchdoctors telling men with AIDS to have sex with babies in order to be healed? What shall we talk about then? It seems that no matter what issue I speak about you could say that I'm being insensitive. Is it because you don't want to talk about the reality of evil? Is it that you'd rather just sweep this under the rug?

Oh, that's right. Free will. Any GOOD parent does not give her children more freedom than they can handle. That's why mothers don't give their children razor blades or hand grenades. If a parent gave her children a gift that they couldn't use responsibly we would fault the parent if the child misused it.

So, you want to tell us once again why God isn't to be blamed for giving us this freedom?

Didn't think so.

NOW it's time to punt to mystery.

Again, the question for the Christian is this one: Was it better that the Holocaust happened or not? Yes or no?

Bryan Riley said...

Was Hitler 3 years old? 6? even 12?

Stu said...

Jason

Was it better that the holocaust happened than if it didn't?

Answer the question.

Bryan Riley said...

Now, having said that, I'm not ashamed of God being a mystery. I think it's called finite minds grasping an infinite mind. Which also is likely why faith is a necessary component of our journey.

John W. Loftus said...

The analogy, Bryan, was about giving someone a gift they couldn't use responsibly no matter what their age is. God did this with humans as a whole, judging from how we use this freedom.

Stu said...

Oops John you beat me :-)

Bryan Riley said...

Stu,

I'm not Jason, but I don't know. I believe God can redeem it, yes. Was the US better off after 9/11? Many would say yes!

Curiosis said...

If hell-believing christians are correct, then every Jew who died in the Holocost is now burning in torment in hell.

Any one of them would gladly choose to return to Auschwitz to avoid their current torture.

What does this say about the christian god? That one of the most heinous acts in human history is infinitely preferable to what god has created for the bulk of humanity.

Jason, if the holocost disturbs you so much, then I can only assume that hell horrifies who even more, right? Or is torture somehow a good thing when god does it?

This post deals directly with the existence of the biblical god. If this god is omnibenevolent but tortures people far worse than the Holocost (an evil act we all recognize), then he clearly cannot exist because those attributes are mutually exclusive.

Bryan Riley said...

I understood the analogy; I just didn't think it made the point. I also think that often parents give their children more responsibility than they can handle and the result can be that the child comes back to the parent for help. It can also be disastrous. But in the mean time wisdom may be attained. We all know that we learn the most through our errors. Scientific method even has shown that.

Stu said...

Bryan,

WHO would say yes?

Bryan Riley said...

If hell simply is the result of choosing not to follow God, and that free choice is ours to make, then how is that God's responsibility? That is ours.

Stu said...

Bryan

If I gave my little child a meat cleaver and left her with it, so she could learn what not to do with meat cleavers from her mistakes, am I a good parent, or do I deserve jail?

John W. Loftus said...

Bryan, giving us the freedom to choose between heaven or hell is giving us more responsibility than we can handle, especially since none of us know that there really is a hell or that our "sins" are such grievious offenses to a God who "hides" himself from us.

Bryan Riley said...

I've heard numerous people discuss the positive spirit that swept the country after 9/11. How it brought us together. How it gave more people a reason to stop being apathetic and start living life again. Difficult circumstances do that. They challenge people to do things they did not know they could do. This isn't an argument for the holocaust; it simply is a truism about how difficulty produces change. And, when it is change for the better, then it is good.

I still find it interesting that people who don't believe in an ultimate truth are concerned about any thing as being evil or good. Isn't it all relative?

John W. Loftus said...

Bryan, how was 9/11 better for the people who died and went to hell?

Bryan Riley said...

John, I think we do.

Stu, we can all draw up absurd word pictures. That doesn't change the question about whether God so loved us that he gave us choice. We can argue about how much choice would be loving, but we really don't know do we.

I know that when we start limiting others' choices they start screaming about their rights rather quickly.

Look, I'm sorry if I'm seeming a bit more argumentative than normal. I am wrong for that. I am in bed with pneumonia and feel a bit hotheaded and muddled.

I really am okay with it being a bit mysterious because I, nor you, have all the facts. I can't see all of history and the future in a single moment. I can't know how many people were saved from themselves or from others through the tragedy that was the holocause. I have no clue. MYSTERY. I still know a personal, loving Father.

Bryan Riley said...

Instead of asking me, ask God. I am not. He is.

Stu said...

I'm sure those who died in 9/11 will be comforted to know their deaths were not in vain. Hell, if it only took 3000 lives to make people less apathetic, then why stop there! Why not kill another 3000 people, so that people will feel mildly purposeful!

John W. Loftus said...

Bryan said...Isn't it all relative?

This is called a red herring, since we're not talkng about whether everything is relative or not. What we're talking about is the internal consistency of the things that YOU believe (not me) with regard to a God who is supposed to be all that you claim he is, in the face of evil.

Bryan Riley said...

And that loving Father want you to know Him too. Believe it or not. Faith.

Stu said...

Bryan

"I can't know how many people were saved from themselves or from others through the tragedy that was the holocaust"

Neither can I, but I don't need to know. It's only those who can't admit there wasn't a greater good to it who feel the need to justify it in some way by vague possibilities that someone somewhere must have been better off in some way.

Andrew said...

John tells us in the conclusion to his book that everything came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing.

Of course this goes beyond anything science can tell us, and is certainly not established by John's book, but what the heck.

That being the case I would like to ask, since when are atheists so concerned about violence?

Its not as if they haven't engaged in plenty of it.

Jon said...

"Didn't think so."

It's arrogance like this that makes us call you insensitive. You're going to issue a challenge and insult me for not accepting in the same breath? Who the hell do you think you are? I have an answer but I'm not going to give it until you ask in a way that respects my intelligence.

Bryan Riley said...

And, moving beyond free will, what if there is a devil? And many others who serve him? Red herring though you may call it, it seems he is awfully good at distracting us.

And, yeh, say I bring it up because it's Halloween. :)

Bryan Riley said...

And, sure, if God's so powerful and good why allow a devil? Ask the question. I dunno. :) It seems he gave the angels choices too.

Bryan Riley said...

I mean, imagine, a god who doesn't demand our worship even though He is worthy of it; instead, He simply desires our worship. Moreover, imagine a god who would want creatures such as we to be in fellowship with Him? Pretty cool stuff to imagine, if you try.

Joseph said...

"Jason,Was it better that the holocaust happened than if it didn't? Answer the question."

Don't hold your breath, Stu. Jason, why don't YOU go back and read the original article, watch the video, and then tell me that it demonstrates the existence of a loving God and that he willed this to happen for some greater good.

Andrew said...

By the way, while you are bellyaching about something that you don't even believe in, how about somthing that is real...the nuclear weapons that fill the world, made by atheisitic scientists. After all, most scientists are atheists according to Dawkins.

And if the bombs fall, civilization could end in an afternoon.

After all, fundies may talk about the end of the world, but atheistic scientists have made it possible.

Stu said...

Good grief Andrew, are you serious?

Jon said...

Just so we're clear, I'm not with these spammers!

Dillie-O said...

Wow John, you're really pulling out all the stops today eh? Some people might call you insensitive, given the context of things. But here's my stab at things...

I would say that it would have been better that the holocaust didn't happen. It was a tragedy of immense proportions and there were lots of torture and needless death by a truly evil man.

Now my next issue that arises (as I may mentioned in the past) is that you're accusing God of being evil when he gave Hitler the choice to do such acts. I would wager you would call God equally hypocritical if you said we could do what we wanted, but then stopped certain actions because he deemed them bad. What if he blew up your blog posting here because he deemed it bad? What is the standard?

But now we're going back to the free will debate. God set things up so that we would have a choice, and he isn't giving meat cleavers to children (as one poster might try to allude to), we are given a sense of right and wrong (even if its for "group benefit of evolution") and once you're given the tools, you're held accountable for the actions.

I'm still waiting for the discussion of what is better, innocence versus virtue, but that's probably better slated for a different post as well.

I must say though that while I knew your intent with the title of this post, I fear you may have just wanted to appeal to emotion first as opposed to bringing this subject up in another Problem of Evil segment. Then again, a few posts back you were talking about "tactics" to debunk and I think emotional responses were needed.

Alas I'm blabbing now, but just be careful next time you make a comment so bold, regardless of its true intent. I thought you respected people more than that.

John W. Loftus said...

Jon said...It's arrogance like this that makes us call you insensitive.

Okay. Sometimes I get on a high horse. Back on earth again. What d'ya think Jon?

John W. Loftus said...

Dillie-O said...I would wager you would call God equally hypocritical if you said we could do what we wanted, but then stopped certain actions because he deemed them bad.

Not at all. That's what good parents do with their children.

What if he blew up your blog posting here because he deemed it bad?

Then I wouldn't like it at all! But if God exists and If we're sending people to hell....he should. Why doesn't he?

Ben said...

Does anyone believe that these "atheistic" scientists who develop nuclear weapons do so BECAUSE they are atheists?

BECAUSE they wish to further the idea that we should act on the basis of evidence?

BECAUSE they believe that the Bible is untrue?

To me, your statement makes as much sense as saying we should think of these scientists as brown-eyed scientists. (And we all know what THEY are like.)

Ben said...

"group benefit of evolution"

What is this, please?

Bryan Riley said...

Because He is giving you the opportunity to see it for yourself, John. That's why.

Joseph said...

Christians, if a god exists, we can only deduce from what we see in the world around us that this God is insensitive to death and suffering. After all, according to the Bible, God is to be believed, then he sovereignly wills it to happen (or, if you wish, "allows"--same it diff). Nothing can happen apart from God's will. Therefore, God willed the holocaust to happen and you Christians should be thanking him for his wisdom.

The only answer Christians have is a feeble one: free will. This red herring is easily defeated (God doesn't care about free will when he wants to get his will accomplished. See the Exodus story, the Passion story, etc).

But, let's back up for a moment. Why are Christians so reluctant to place responsibility on God's doorstep? Wouldn't the holocaust just be an affirmation of his sovereignty? If nothing happens that God does not will for his children's good and his ultimate glory (Romans 8:28), then the holocaust must have somehow accomplished both. That's the bitter logic you must follow if you want to take the Bible at its word.

Now, they way I see it, God easily (EASILY!) has the power to step in and stop holocausts, but he doesn't. Anyone of us would be liable if we neglected to intervene to stop evil when we had the power to do so. According to Matthew 25, Jesus will condemn those who see suffering and do nothing to alleviate it. So why isn't God being held to his own standard? Consistency! God sees horrible, terrible, excruciating suffering and does nothing. That's what we call a moral contradiction, folks.

In summary, what we read in the Bible and what we see in real life just doesn't match up. At this point, we have to confront the logical implications. Either:

-God exist, but is a sadist
-God exists, but is impotent, or
-God does not exist

Bryan Riley said...

I wonder how Corrie Ten Boom would answer your questions.

Jon said...

"Oh, that's right. Free will. Any GOOD parent does not give her children more freedom than they can handle. That's why mothers don't give their children razor blades or hand grenades. If a parent gave her children a gift that they couldn't use responsibly we would fault the parent if the child misused it.

So, you want to tell us once again why God isn't to be blamed for giving us this freedom?"

The reason why a parent does not give their child razor blades or hand grenades is because they expect the child to hurt themselves, and rightly so. However by keeping the child from hurting themselves they also keep the child from the experience of being hurt. How is a child supposed to fully understand the danger of razor blades without experiencing that danger firsthand? Of course, the parent could explain the danger to the child, and the child can take such knowledge by faith, but Lord knows the criticism Christians receive for doing the same thing! God warned us about the evil of the actions of the Holocaust. At that point the only thing he can do to teach us why it's so awful is to let us experience it first hand. If there's anything good that came of the Holocaust it's that we all learned a lesson we will not soon forget!

The key difference between your analogy and the Holocaust is that the parent has different motives than God. The parent wishes to keep the child safe from harm. To God safety is secondary to learning why we must follow him.

cipher said...

Jews were commanded by Yehovah/Allah to kill all of the Amalekites

There's more than just that. When the Israelites returned (supposedly) from Egypt, and were retaking Palestine from the Canaanites, they were commanded to commit genocide. In one passage, they're told to kill all of the adults, and all of the underage males. The underage females, they could keep for themselves.

Any GOOD parent does not give her children more freedom than they can handle. That's why mothers don't give their children razor blades or hand grenades. If a parent gave her children a gift that they couldn't use responsibly we would fault the parent if the child misused it.

I've always felt that Christians let God off the hook far too easily on this matter. Giving us free will then blaming us for the state of the world, or even of our own souls (if we have them), is like giving a child dynamite to play with, then, after he blows himself up, saying, "It wasn't my fault. I didn't light the match!"

If hell-believing christians are correct, then every Jew who died in the Holocost is now burning in torment in hell.

I actually came across one fundamentalist minister who said just that. I think I remember it pretty much verbatim: "Every man, woman and child who died in the Holocaust went straight from the fires of the crematoria to the fires of hell." And they wonder why most of us don't find their belief system appealing.

Bryan, you said, Was Hitler 3 years old? 6? even 12?; then you said, I think it's called finite minds grasping an infinite mind. This is the thing with conservative Christians - you always want it both ways. On the one hand, we have enough understanding to damn ourselves. On the other, we don't have enough to entitle us to question God.

You also say, If hell simply is the result of choosing not to follow God, and that free choice is ours to make, then how is that God's responsibility? That is ours.

That's simply ridiculous. He set up the system! Of course it's his responsibility!

I agree with Bill. Christianity posits a God who is worse than Hitler. Hitler just killed us; Christians are content to see us suffer for all of eternity. The cognitive dissonance is staggering.

Bryan Riley said...

I don't understand how we can't be responsible for our own choices. Choice, by definition, provides responsibility, not to the one giving choice but the one holding choice. Sure, you can get into an argument about negligent provision, but it really seems silly coming from people who don't believe in a god in the first place, doesn't it?

I also don't understand what you mean by "On the one hand, we have enough understanding to damn ourselves. On the other, we don't have enough to entitle us to question God." God invites us to question and reason with Him. It isn't questioning or understanding that damns us. It is a lack of faith in Him and His provision for us - the provision of the cross, the provision of His life for ours.

cipher said...

I don't understand how we can't be responsible for our own choices.

Because we're spiritual imbeciles! We don't know what we're doing. I think the state of the world alone is evidence of that. As God said of the citizens of Nineveh - we don't know our right hand from our left. It simply isn't reasonable - forget about the question of "fairness" - to place us here, with this lack of comprehension, and make us "responsible" for our eternal destiny.

but it really seems silly coming from people who don't believe in a god in the first place, doesn't it?

Well, that's the point. They're trying to point what they consider to be the inconsistencies in the Christian belief system.

As far as my other point goes - I really don't know how else to express it. Your statement presupposes that anyone who questions and reasons with a truly open mind can only come to your conclusion. If one questions and reasons, and comes to a conclusion different from the one to which you've come - then, in your view, he/she deserves eternal damnation. I don't think that you really believe that we can question God. As soon as one comes up against something that creates too much of a moral dilemma - such as hell - we can't understand the necessity of it. Our minds are too limited. But they aren't limited enough to excuse us of the responsibility of getting ourselves there.

Jon said...

" Christians are content to see us suffer for all of eternity."

Content to see you go to Hell?! HELLOOOOO!!!! What about all of our incredibly annoying outreach attempts?! If there's ONE thing you CANNOT accuse Christians of it's that they won't let you become a Christian!!!!!!

Bryan Riley said...

You say this:

Your statement presupposes that anyone who questions and reasons with a truly open mind can only come to your conclusion.

No, I don't say or presuppose anyone thinking will agree. I think many disagree, just as you do here. I say it takes faith, which seems like foolishness to me. But I believe, therefore it no longer is foolishness. I don't mind being a "fool" for Christ's sake.

cipher said...

Content to see you go to Hell?! HELLOOOOO!!!! What about all of our incredibly annoying outreach attempts?! If there's ONE thing you CANNOT accuse Christians of it's that they won't let you become a Christian!!!!!!

I'll say two things about this:

1. Perhaps "content" is the wrong word. I'll change it to "complacent". I'm not saying that you're happy about the prospect (although I think a lot of you actually do look forward to it). I am saying that I don't think it bothers you all that much. As long as you're saved - that's the important thing.

I'll give you an example. In Buddhism, the goal is to become a Bodhisattva - a being who could attain nirvana, a deathless state beyond suffering, but who chooses to remain in the world to work for the salvation of all beings. And, as the number of sentient beings is believed to be infinite, the job never ends. A bodhisattva postpones indefinitely his/her own salvation, in order to help everyone else to attain theirs.

In Buddhism, the goal is to get to the threshold of "salvation", then to hold the door open for everyone else, pointing the way in. In Christianity, salvation is a purely individual matter: "I've got mine; you get yours."

2. One of the early 20th century British authors - I think it was Shaw but I can't remember for certain - said, "Missionary activity is the outward manifestation of an insecure faith." I agree with this. The missionary isn't trying to convince me as much as he is attempting to convince himself. He thinks that if he can convince me that he's right, then he really must be right, and he doesn't have to deal with his lingering doubts.

I know you won't agree with any of this. I don't care; I'm out. I only dropped in for a minute, and got caught up in this. I'm done.

Rich said...

using a hackneyed atheism attack.

do your research.

read "Why did God allow the Holocaust?" by C.S. Lewis

If after reading then, you still doubt...then I want to see your arguments.

Jon said...

"One of the early 20th century British authors - I think it was Shaw but I can't remember for certain - said, "Missionary activity is the outward manifestation of an insecure faith." I agree with this. The missionary isn't trying to convince me as much as he is attempting to convince himself. He thinks that if he can convince me that he's right, then he really must be right, and he doesn't have to deal with his lingering doubts."

In that case I must be an incredibly secure Christian since I haven't participated or even encouraged missionary actions in years!

Jason said...

Again, the question for the Christian is this one: Was it better that the Holocaust happened or not? Yes or no?

Was what better? Define "it". Otherwise your question is a false dichotomy.

Bryan Riley said...

Cipher

I agree that many Christians are complacent and fat in their own "salvation." That is a good, and sad, point. It makes their faith appear hollow and/or shallow.

I am a missionary. I don't know what it means. I simply believe that God told me to go. So I went. If it's insecurity that's driving me, then sobeit, but it must be subconscious. I will be glad to share my story whenever anyone wants to listen, but I'd hate to bring out the brightly colored fish again.

Joe E. Holman said...

Jon said...

"It is easy to identify the greater good that John refers to. Human free will. If God intervened it would violate our God-given right to choose evil."

Bryan Riley said...

"It strikes me that men and women were responsible for the holocaust. Men created in His image with the ability to choose life or death. Many, unfortuntately, choose death. Could God have stopped it? Yes, just as He could have stopped the crucifixion. But He doesn't because of His great love that gives us the gift of choosing His way or not."


My reply...

Oh boy! I see we're back on "free will" and "making choices." I almost want to beg a deity not to ever hear those fucking words again, but I know what the result of such a prayer would be!

You two need to shut your Jesus-loving cakeholes. Your sky spirit stood by and watched from heaven as men abused the freewill he gave them in the hollocaust. God knew it was going to happen anyway. He could -- and should -- have stopped it. If we humans allow evil to go on, we are guilty of not stopping it, but if God lets it go on, he's just soveriegn and divine.

While we're at it, we should just join God, playing xylophone on the protruding ribs of these sickly, underfed Jews. Would that make you happy? I think it would considering all the other harm Christians have done to the Jews over the centuries and then made excuses for.

You should know that every damn time you make reference to "greater good" and the "gift" of freewill, you might as well be spitting in our faces.

(JH)

Jon said...

Let's make a new rule: Children are no longer allowed to participate in conversations intended for adults.

bpr said...

Thank God there is hope for a life after this dump we have now. In the meantime, I don't see why my beliefs of charity and goodwill can't be motivated by something else. It seems like you agree that human suffering is bad.

Why shoot the person who wants to help you?

Jim Jordan said...

The Holocaust was an incomprehensible tragedy, just as abortion is today. The real title to this video on Youtube is "The Holocaust - Never Again". What was God's role?

God created the people. He brought forth life and gave us all free will. We screw it up and then blame him. Did we even learn our lesson? Iran promises a "real" holocaust is coming when they annihilate Israel once and for all. As I mentioned above, abortion is still running at full-steam. Yet how many people on this blog support abortion? How many say its not a Holocaust? How many are with Ahmadinejad on that one, denying a Holocaust? Will we ever learn our lesson?

Thank God for giving life. Thank Mankind for the Holocaust. Just because he could not love God, he could not love his neighbor. Don't worry though, it's those people, the Nazis and their ilk, who burn in Hell.

Jennifer said...

"Any GOOD parent does not give her children more freedom than they can handle. That's why mothers don't give their children razor blades or hand grenades."

And God did? Did I miss something? GOD never gave people more than they could handle. Man seeks after what he shouldn't have....with willfulness.

When was the last time all you good parents put your children in a box so they would not be exposed to the ills of the world? Yes, I see now. God isn't a good parent because He allows us to make our own choices. Trees shouldn't grow more than three feet off the ground...oh wait... a child can drown in an inch of water, He shouldn't have made the sea.
Then there are those pesky rocks. Yah, no rocks...they should be made out of rubber. But then maybe someone who's perfectly innocent will break the rubber rocks up into pieces and use them to choke someone. No rocks. I know! The Earth should be a giant pillow! No...babies suffocate in soft bedding.
I guess it would be best for God to not make anyone if it's that much trouble. Actually...if God is there it would probably be in His best interest and the interest of His creatures if He just stayed by Himself.

That's tidy. A bit sad perhaps...like couples who can't have children...but it would save us all a headache eh?

This is silly and very insulting to those who suffered at the hands of evil. I know, you don't believe in evil. I suggest you read Dean Koontz's novel, The Husband. The son of a psychiatrist learns that there IS evil...not just misunderstood and sick people. I can quote you on that.

Jon said...

I try to work from bone-dry analogies and Jennifer creams us all with creative writing! Nicely done!

Joe E. Holman said...

Jim Jordan said...

"Thank God for giving life. Thank Mankind for the Holocaust. Just because he could not love God, he could not love his neighbor. Don't worry though, it's those people, the Nazis and their ilk, who burn in Hell."

My reply...

Yes, thank God for the diptheria germ and cancer--and all predatorial life.

And thank man for bringing about the holocaust, but we can't forget God who so graciously agreed not to intervene at the will of the theists so that we could exercise our "gift" of freewill.

And thank God for Hell, where not just nazis will be, but atheists, Africans, and Aztecs who never heard the gospel to begin with!

Such amazing and gracious love!

(JH)

Lee Randolph said...

Some people did try to stop it but their freewill was being overridden.

If freewill is more important to God than stopping the holocaust, then how is it that some peoples freewill can override other peoples freewill to such a horrific degree?

Is there a contextual element to this freewill which would make some implementations of freewill more preferential than others in some cases?

I would guess that the majority of the world wanted the holocaust to end but the minority wanted it to continue. So god stood by and watched while the minority freewill implementation overrode the majority freewill.

That sounds wrong, so I must be missing something. Once the majority had decided to stop it and take some action, like the atomic bomb, god could have presented and put a stop to it, enhancing his glory.

But he didn't. He chose to let it contiue in 'mans time' instead of 'gods time'.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jon,
However by keeping the child from hurting themselves they also keep the child from the experience of being hurt. How is a child supposed to fully understand the danger of razor blades without experiencing that danger firsthand?
So I guess you are more likely than not to poke yourself in the eye with a fork because you don't fully understand what it means.

One of the things that sets humans apart from animals is their ability to learn from observation. This is demonstrated in primate research. I just heard about it in one of my science news podcasts. But this news is nothing new. Its just a confirmation through experimentation of a sound hypothesis.

Your principle that you base your claim on is flawed.

Jon said...

"I would guess that the majority of the world wanted the holocaust to end but the minority wanted it to continue."

Actually, historically speaking, most Americans refused to believe that a holocaust was happening. Don't forget, it wasn't until after the war that we learned the true horror of what had happened. All that reached North American ears were easily dismissed rumours.

There are few greater forces than the power of human laziness.

Still, I know what you're saying (in the rest of the post), and I have to admit it's got me a bit stumped. I'll reply when I've thought it through.

"So I guess you are more likely than not to poke yourself in the eye with a fork because you don't fully understand what it means."

We were discussing instances where the parent gives freedom to a child that is almost certainly going to misuse it. There is no issue with giving freedom to someone who will use it properly.

"One of the things that sets humans apart from animals is their ability to learn from observation."

I'm not sure what you're suggesting. Is it that the parent should cut themselves to show the child how it is bad?

Joe E. Holman said...

Jon said...

"Let's make a new rule: Children are no longer allowed to participate in conversations intended for adults."


My reply...

And yet here people like you are, defending belief in an imaginary friend! That is a childish notion for sure.

I'm all for the new rule, but that means you'll have to see yourself out.

(JH)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jon,
Actually, historically speaking, most Americans refused to believe that a holocaust was happening.
So they aren't culpable? That reduces the amount of freewill in opposition to the nazis to even it out? If you say they aren't culpable, you need to look at how you would apply that principle to christian beliefs about human morality and righteousness. And remember that god can do anything, so he could easily have informed them to make them culpable. At what point does the freewill of the nazis even up or outnumber the freewill of the 'good guys'? Then we have the problem of the Freewill of the victors overtaking the freewill of the bad guys. The argument from the 'importance of feewill' can't be reconciled because it depends on everyone having the same degree of freewill, which they don't. It will always come down to, what makes one freewill override another? And the inconsistency of the problem of evil and a good god marches on.

I'm not sure what you're suggesting. Is it that the parent should cut themselves to show the child how it is bad?
are you deliberately splitting hairs here? do you deny that people can learn through observation, reading books, listening to lectures, hearing stories, getting instruction from parents? Kids don't need to experience cutting themselves with knives to grasp the lesson. Some do, but generally they don't or we'd have a bunch of kids going into kitchens and cutting themselves all the time. Therefore arguing that the importance of freewill trumps gods intervention in the holocaust because we must learn from experience is flawed.

Jon said...

"So they aren't culpable? That reduces the amount of freewill in opposition to the nazis to even it out? If you say they aren't culpable, you need to look at how you would apply that principle to christian beliefs about human morality and righteousness. And remember that god can do anything, so he could easily have informed them to make them culpable. At what point does the freewill of the nazis even up or outnumber the freewill of the 'good guys'? Then we have the problem of the Freewill of the victors overtaking the freewill of the bad guys. The argument from the 'importance of feewill' can't be reconciled because it depends on everyone having the same degree of freewill, which they don't. It will always come down to, what makes one freewill override another? And the inconsistency of the problem of evil and a good god marches on."

Wow you really like reading things into statements that weren't there to begin with. I never suggested they weren't culpable. Heck, if you even read to the end of my response you might've figured out that I wasn't doing anything close to providing justification for the American response. I was just correcting your incorrect account of WW2 history.

"are you deliberately splitting hairs here? do you deny that people can learn through observation, reading books, listening to lectures, hearing stories, getting instruction from parents? Kids don't need to experience cutting themselves with knives to grasp the lesson. Some do, but generally they don't or we'd have a bunch of kids going into kitchens and cutting themselves all the time. Therefore arguing that the importance of freewill trumps gods intervention in the holocaust because we must learn from experience is flawed."

I wondered what you were asking because I already answered this in a previous post. God already TOLD us not to do evil things such as holocausts in the Bible. If we're not going to listen to reason what choice does he have but to let us go our own way? I really suggest you go back and read previous posts. It helps keep things moving.

As for Joe H - I'm not even going to bother. I don't cast pearls before swine. If he's interested in a discussion that respect both participants, I'm available. Until then he's not getting anything out of me.

Lee Randolph said...

If we're not going to listen to reason what choice does he have but to let us go our own way?
you are assuming that no one was listening to reason. Some of them were and trying to stop it. And evidently some of them, if they didn't believe it was happening, were in denial because they didn't want to believe it. Do you say that the attitude toward the Jews was the majority attitude in the world and God is justified in letting 'us' suffer it? If not then how is it that minority attitude was important enough to justify god letting us suffer it?

Gribble The Munchkin said...

This arguement boils down to two propositions.

The first is the god is either
a) not good
b) not omnipotent
or
c) not real

And the second is that God gave us free will and to interfere in human events would violate this. Except miracles. Which are usually randomly occuring in scientificially unverifiable ways.

It strikes me that the first arguement is only sound if the second is. But here we run into problems. If Joe the NAZI prison camp guard suddenly had a god inspired change of heart and instead of gassing everyone, let them go, fair enough, free will violated.

But if one of the few escapees has a few god-made lucky breaks (e.g. he finds a push bike allowing to escape guards, he gets sheltered by a kindly local, etc) and makes it to someone that could pass on information to the Allies, how is that violating free will.

In fact, if god had sent a miracle to Churchhill and Roosevelt early on and let them know exactly what was planned for those camps, before it had even happened. How would that violate free will? They'd still have the option to intervene or not.

Christians tend to fall onto the free will arguement but fail to follow it up. There are all kinds of things that god could do, both blatant and covert to make this world better without violating free will in any sense. The fact that these horrific things still happen makes be think that god is either a, b or most likely c.

cipher said...

I said that I was out, but I can't pass this one by.

Jon, when I said that Christians are content to see us go to hell, you said,

Content to see you go to Hell?! HELLOOOOO!!!! What about all of our incredibly annoying outreach attempts?! If there's ONE thing you CANNOT accuse Christians of it's that they won't let you become a Christian!!!!!!

Then, you said, In that case I must be an incredibly secure Christian since I haven't participated or even encouraged missionary actions in years!

This is an example of what I said to Bryan - you Christians always want it both ways. One moment it's black; the next, it's white.

And one other thing - Jennifer said, GOD never gave people more than they could handle. Man seeks after what he shouldn't have....with willfulness.

I could not disagree with this more. In my opinion, God, if He exists, certainly did give us more than we can handle - the state of the world is evidence of that. These arguments about free will are irrelevant - we obviously can't handle this reality. Which brings me back to my original point - we don't know what we're doing, and it's unreasonable of God to hold us responsible.

It never seems to occur to Christians that if we fell from grace right out of the starting gate, there had to be something wrong with the blueprint. And again - stop waving the "free will" banner around. You people always hold that up to explain everything, as though it were some absolute quality. It's irrelevant, and it doesn't excuse God of his culpability for our predicament.

I don't know why I'm bothering with this. You'll always attempt to rationalize your way out of these arguments, so that you can go on believing in that which gives you comfort. And you'll continue to accuse us of rationalizing so that we can lead hedonistic, self-directed lives. In your view, we don't believe, simply because we don't want to. I don't know how many times I've heard it over the years: "You don't want to be held accountable!"

cipher said...

There are all kinds of things that god could do, both blatant and covert to make this world better without violating free will in any sense.

I agree with this completely, and I'll go a step further - God could save everyone, without violating our "free will". There are all sorts of ways to get people to do what you want them to, without compromising their free will. Humans do it all the time; is God less capable?

Bryan Riley said...

Isn't it crazy for us, Gribble, with our finite knowledge to go around second guessing, though? I mean, we can all create scenarios of things that could have been done, but we dont' even know what was done. Perhaps it could have been way worse. Your comment and argument isn't really additive becuase we don't know what was or wasn't done.

Jon Holman - Why come to an open forum if you don't want to listen to opposing viewpoints?

Jennifer - great points and no one answered. Until Cipher answered one aspect of it, and he may be right.

Perhaps God did give us more than we can handle just so that we would wake up to the fact that we need Him. And, if He is perfect, then it seems cool that He designed it to drive us back to Him (but didn't force us to choose it). I'm sure that sounds terrible to everyone here, but the more I talk to parents of teenagers, it seems that that is more and more what they end up finding themselves needing to do.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Cipher, Gribble,
I totally agree with you guys, but I wouldn't go so far as to call the freewill question irrelevant because it is used so much as a defense and justification and it is such a handy heuristic to resolve cognitive dissonance.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bryan,
Perhaps God did give us more than we can handle just so that we would wake up to the fact that we need Him.
Its just as likely that he doesn't exist and things like this happen naturally. If we take god out of the equation, thats what we get, if we put god back in the equation the result doesn't change. Therefore he cancels himself out.

Bryan Riley said...

And maybe sometimes we humans do accidentally argue out of both sides of our mouths (yes we all do it, not just Christians), but perhaps that is simply because of our limited minds trying to understand something greater than ourselves. And, that is why He only asks of us faith, not scientific understanding, because He knows our condition.

Lee Randolph said...

Isn't it crazy for us, Gribble, with our finite knowledge to go around second guessing, though?
no, its not crazy, because using reason, we can gain knowledge. Ever solved a puzzle? Sudoku? picross? You have to iterate through possibilities till there is only one solution. In the beginning it looks like a mess, but in the end, it all falls into place. Randomly filling in the blanks with guesses doesn't work.

Bryan Riley said...

Not sure I follow that reasoning, Lee, but it sure strikes me as hopeless if your conclusion is true. WE might as well rip "hope" out of the dictionary. :)

Bryan Riley said...

My point, Lee, is that it is crazy when we don't have the knowledge. I'd bet a lot of the people who've written here, including me, didn't even live during the holocaust, and, even had we done so, we weren't there, and even if we were there we only perceived a limited portion of what was going on.

I could write all day long about how it could have been worse and this could have happened, etc., and that would be just as useful and Gribble saying couldn't God have done this and this and made it better? No, I don't know. I don't know if that would have been better. He alone knows what each individual on this planet needs, at the same time, and can work toward that. That's what is really amazing, particularly when there are other forces working as well. He alone can redeem something even as horrific as the Holocaust.

Lee Randolph said...

Bryan,
what i mean is that we look a the world, we look at the bible, look at what we are told and see if it matches. If it doesn't we have to reconcile it someway. We can make guesses or we can use reason to say things like "if freewill is so important that the holocaust resulted then I have to wonder what about the freewill of the Jews, and those that were trying to right the wrong". It doesn't follow from gods supposed goodness.

That is one of the iterations.

here's another one,
how can you say that god exists and cares when it seems like he doesn't? If the holocast happened with a god around, using it to drive us back, what would the world be like without god? Worse? I'd say better because we wouldn't have been hindered by that obviously flawed doctrine starting with genesis through leviticus and deuteronomy ending up with the pauls apparent disrespect for women.

I haven't ripped hope out of my dictionary, in fact, when I excluded god from my definition of hope, I saw I had a lot more options.

He alone can redeem something even as horrific as the Holocaust.
and only the religious can reconcile a good loving god with random acts of horror on this earth.

cipher said...

I wouldn't go so far as to call the freewill question irrelevant because it is used so much as a defense and justification and it is such a handy heuristic to resolve cognitive dissonance

That's what I was trying to say - that it's "irrelevant" in that it can't be used as a universal rationalization.

our limited minds trying to understand something greater than ourselves

And, again, back to my first point - then He has no business holding us responsible for our eternal destiny.

And, that is why He only asks of us faith, not scientific understanding, because He knows our condition.

Well, if He knows our condition, then I submit again that He does ask too much of us. Faith itself is too much to ask, for many of us. In fact, I really am sick of the word "faith". It seems to be one of those words that mean whatever the user wants them to. If we're using it to mean "belief" (and I'm not even sure what that means), there's a growing body of evidence that would seem to indicate that some people are hard-wired for it, and others aren't. If some people are simply incapable of it, what does that say about God's fairness? "I've created you without the ability to know me, either directly or through faith, and will now punish you for not knowing me by sentencing you to hell for all of eternity." And, please - I'm completely uninterested in Paul's claim that God has planted within us a "natural" knowledge of him. I reject that completely - it's a perfect example of framing an argument so that it can only lead to one conclusion - the one he wants it to.

Joseph said...

bpr said, "Thank God there is hope for a life after this dump we have now."

And what makes you think the "next life" is going to be so much better. Consider:

-The same God will be there who ignores and/or instigates evil and suffering in this life (e.g. the Holocaust, the Canaanite purges).

-Human beings will free will are also going to be there...and we know from history that it can only mean trouble.

Seems to me that if God's first world was a muck, the next world can't be much better.

SadEvilTan said...

Hi guys most interesting debate, although i'm not quite sure where it's leading to, or what the purpose of this argument is supposed to have achieved.
I've read the bulk of the comments in this post & have to admit it rather 'Dragged on' somewhat; mainly, i suspect the 'repetitious nature' in which the comments were being posted, therefore just seemed to 'Trail away' towards the end of the argument.
We all know that the "Nazi regime" was an "Evil" organization, what they did should be beyond any decent, law-abiding individuals comprehension & such an 'Heinous act' should be treated with the utmost 'Contempt' & deservedly so.....!We all know that there's good & bad in all walks of life but that's no excuse for condoning such an act, -You can recite all the 'Bunkum' from the 'Scripts' till your blood boils, what do i care -let me draw your attention to the term (Mass murderer), as we all know it defines the 'Defenseless slaughter' of the "Masses", & the term wasn't invented until the 'Twentieth century' so let me elucidate you on some of the (Worst) attrocities that were carried out in that period just mentioned: We had a MILLION+ Armenians, that were supposedly slaughtered by the Turks; then there were 13+MILLION Ukranians or the even 'Greater numbers' of GERMANS killed by 'Churchill & the allies in the last war'; but the honours for being the (Worst) 'Mass murderer' of all time must surely go to the bespectacled, harmless-looking figure of 'Harry s Truman who dropped two 'Atom bombs' om the JAPANESE.....!Not a British achievement, alas; but at least his 'Murderous deeds' had the enthusiastic support of the British Prime Minister of the time, Clem Attlee.

Joseph said...

"Was what better? Define "it". Otherwise your question is a false dichotomy." Oh, please, Jason. Show some balls and answer the damn question:

"Can [you] condemn the Holocaust and at the same time maintain there was a higher, greater good that resulted from it?" Why or why not?

Curiosis said...

sadeviltan,

Had the atomic bombs not been dropped, then we would have had to invade Japan. That invasion was expected to cost upwards of 1 million deaths. So, as terrible as the destruction to Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, it ultimately saved more lives.

Jennifer said...

Cipher,
and it's unreasonable of God to hold us responsible.

What exactly is God holding us responsible for?

This is what is frustrating...most of you probably send your children to school where they face all sorts of affronts to their humanity. We send our children out into the world at large and hope they are equipped to handle the pressures with wise skill.

I think most of you would agree that in order to learn to make wise choices a person must either have a choice to make, and by choosing the better one reap the benefits, or by choosing the worst reap the negative consequences, OR they must be so attentive to the mistakes of those who have gone before that they don't dare to make the same mistakes.

Free will is not neccessarily a "good" thing. Free will is a neccessary part of becoming fully human and like God(Theosis). If God's goal is to have fellowship with beings who CHOOSE Him, and to be like Him, it makes sense that He would design a world where we make our own bed. We SHOULD learn from those who have gone before but we don't seem to be doing very well. History is one continuous example of how men fail to recognize trends and shifts. Until we all stop reacting and become the cause, nothing will change.

By the way....have any of you looked into the life of Josef Mengele? He was an anthropologist, educated, based everything on logic. He found that anthropologically speaking, there were inferior humans...in fact he believed that Jews in particular were not really human. He was not insane, he was not sick, he was not misunderstood. He was evil. So where does evil come from?

Many Christians believed that God would have them shelter and care for Jews and those on the run. They did it because they knew God's love for them and they couldn't help but do the right thing. THAT is what I believe God is after. These Christians did not benefit or have the power to hide behind to save themselves if they were found out. They did what God would have all of us do for each other.

Viktor Frankl even mentioned in his book, "Man's Search for Meaning" that those who believed in God did better than those who had not faith....in the camps.

How different the Congo would be if thousands, tens of thousands of us plopped down in that country and snatched up the suffering children and their parents, brought them home and left the "bad" guys to themselves. How can you blame God when you are not willing to have your life interrupted for the sake of saving some lives.

How are you different from the Germans who turned the other way?

cipher said...

Wow - there is so much in there with which I disagree that I wouldn't even know where to begin.

I'll just answer your question - what is God holding us responsible for? In your worldview, he holds us responsible for our eternal destiny, which hinges upon our making the correct "choice" regarding one issue - the divinity of Jesus.

I resent it. I resent my existence. I resent having been created - if, indeed, I was. I resent having this kind of responsibility thrust upon me. I resent my crappy life, and I resent having spent the past five decades listening to people like you telling me that the only thing I have to look forward to is an eternity of unimaginable torment, because I can't quite seem to agree with you. I am so f*cking sick of it, I can't even begin to tell you.

But, that's right - it's God's prerogative to create us and to do with us as he will. I don't like it? That's a function of my sinful, rebellious nature - for which he isn't responsible, even though he created me.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jennifer,
it makes sense that He would design a world where we make our own bed.
Your god is not all powerful? It makes sense that an all powerful god would create us with all knowledge and experience we would have gained if we had suffered on the earth. He could have made us like he needed us, freewill and all.

He was evil. So where does evil come from?
Evil is in the eye of the beholder. I think he was evil too, so don't flame me. People do bad things. There is no need to invoke the supernatural.

How can you blame God when you are not willing to have your life interrupted for the sake of saving some lives.
Uh, because an all powerful god had a choice of how to make the world and he made it like this? Would you say the people in the trade center were to blame in the case that they didn't help others to get out? People are trying to survive in thier own way. To throw caution to the wind and go to the congo might mean that I wind up needing help and I have increased the surplus by one. There is just too much, we would all have to do something, but we can't re-engineer the world to make the desert flourish, or the hurricanes stop, there will always be disease and hunger. Should the medicine makers stop and go to the congo? Should the sanitation engineers stop and go to the congo? Should the farmers stop and go to the congo? Where would you draw the line?

Joe E. Holman said...

Bryan Riley said...

"Joe Holman - Why come to an open forum if you don't want to listen to opposing viewpoints?"

My reply...

I tend to be less patient than some around here who seem to love pointless arguing.

But hey, don't mind me; if you want to waste your time repeating the same old crap countrified Baptists preachers spout off, thinking it will convince us, go right ahead, my friend!

(JH)

Lee Randolph said...

aw joe,
my arguing isn't pointless. It makes me sharper. ;-)

Jon said...

"This is an example of what I said to Bryan - you Christians always want it both ways. One moment it's black; the next, it's white."

Hardly. It's so much to the opposite that it doesn't even deserve explanation, just rereading on your part.



The non-Christians have lately been pressing a new point, that other people's free will contradicted the Nazis', and who's to say whose will should win out? We know the Nazis DID lose, but we didn't they lose sooner?

The first thing I would like to point out is that the atheists are giving us a rather shifty view of common WWII world views. The Nazis were not, as they suggest, an isolated group. Fascism was quite popular over the entire globe. It was only after War ended, and, indeed, because of the war itself, that fascism attained the disdainful reputation it now has. Likewise, Nazis weren't unique in their hatred for the Jews. Anti-Semitism was actually very widespread through the Christian world. This was not a small, isolated group of extremists, they were ordinary people who took their beliefs a couple steps further.

The problem with what you are arguing is that it changes the problem of evil. The conversation started with the proposition that it was impossible for God to allow the Nazis to do what they did because it is impossible for an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God to allow evil. Now you're arguing something quite different, that it is preferable for God to have stepped in and stopped the Nazis. They're both valid discussions, but they're very different ones.

God had two choices, teach us a lesson (or let us teach ourselves a lesson) or save the world. A combination of both is what happened. This decision is not one we are free to criticize because our perspective is so limited. Who's to say God didn't allow this to happen so that something far worse somewhere down the line didn't happen? Fascists and anti-Semites had been chomping at the bit for such a holocaust for centuries. Who's to say that God hadn't thwarted countless holocausts up to that point? Basically what I'm getting at is that the Nazis were not a flash-in-the-pan, now-we're-here-now-we're-gone group. There were generations of people who desperately wanted this to happen.

Let us not deny the good that came after WWII too. Not the good that came of the holocaust, but of how we learned from such evil. Fascism is now considered an insult, Jews are socially-protected from anti-Semitism, Israel was re-created, giving the Jews a home for the first time in millenia, social Darwinism is not tolerated and we haven't had another major, multi-national war since, and despite the US government, probably will not for a long time. Not only were all of these sentiments not terribly important to the pre-WWII world, many would be viciously opposed to them. In short, we learned the lesson.

So what we're actually complaining about is the cost of such a lesson. We know it was a necessary lesson to learn, but couldn't God have taught it to us without destroying so many lives? I don't think any of us are really at liberty to answer. Our perspective and knowledge of the world is so incredibly limited. Surely we can be humble enough to at least accept that. I know this is less than a satisfying response, and if I think of anything new I'll write it, but it still is a valid one and, rather than drawing it out of my magic hat of responses, this is one that I consider, evaluate and use to evaluate other claims nearly every day.

We've strayed quite a bit from the problem of evil at this point.

Jon said...

"I resent it. I resent my existence. I resent having been created - if, indeed, I was. I resent having this kind of responsibility thrust upon me. I resent my crappy life, and I resent having spent the past five decades listening to people like you telling me that the only thing I have to look forward to is an eternity of unimaginable torment, because I can't quite seem to agree with you"

The atheist philosophy in a nutshell. We can complain about God's involvement in WWII forever, how about the atheist involvement? Statements like this make it easy to understand how it was the atheists that initiated the whole thing to begin with.

"I tend to be less patient than some around here who seem to love pointless arguing."

Isn't this the point of DC? Oh I see, you just want to have a conversation with yourself. You want to condemn Christians, and tell everyone you know how much you condemn them, but not give them the chance to respond.


Kudos to Jennifer for her spot-on post.

cipher said...

"This is an example of what I said to Bryan - you Christians always want it both ways. One moment it's black; the next, it's white."

Hardly. It's so much to the opposite that it doesn't even deserve explanation, just rereading on your part.


Excuse me? You have absolutely GOT to be kidding! You made two statements in diametrical opposition to one another - but it's a function of my inability to perceive the difference?

"I resent it. I resent my existence. I resent having been created - if, indeed, I was. I resent having this kind of responsibility thrust upon me. I resent my crappy life, and I resent having spent the past five decades listening to people like you telling me that the only thing I have to look forward to is an eternity of unimaginable torment, because I can't quite seem to agree with you"

The atheist philosophy in a nutshell. We can complain about God's involvement in WWII forever, how about the atheist involvement? Statements like this make it easy to understand how it was the atheists that initiated the whole thing to begin with.


You arrogant, condescending fool. You have no good answers; you aren't even addressing my statement. You don't hear my pain; there's Christian compassion for you. You simply attempt to invalidate the opposition so that you don't have to think too deeply about what we're saying. You're interested solely in protecting your beliefs.

Jon, please take this to heart - it's because of people like you that I am not a Christian. And, for the record - I'm NOT an atheist, but I wish to God I were.

That's it - I really am out this time. What was said a few entries ago is correct - you people don't argue intelligently; you just repeat the same drivel over and over. I can't waste any more time on this nonsense.

Joseph said...

Look everybody, it's this simple: If the God of the Bible truly exists, then he has the power to intervene and stop terrible events like the Holocaust. He could do so without jeopardizing anyone's free will. But he doesn't intervene.

Why? Because he exists only in a book called the Bible. What we are arguing about is an idea perpetuated by an ancient book, an idea which has no verifiable evidence. Christian simply want to believe in.

Bad things happen because bad things happen. That's what most of the reasonable Christians here are saying. They have a very secular outlook when it suits them.

Jennifer said...

How about if we level the field and use Paris Hilton as an example of what happens when the Powers That Be interfere. Are her parents giving her strength of character by rescuing her from herself?

I understand your points and used to ask the same questions. God could intervene in miraculous ways but what would be gained?

Cipher,
I don't actually know what to believe about hell and I am not condemning you. I don't know what's in your heart and the example of Rahab and many more show me that God is not as black and white about as many things as we can make Him out to be. I don't think the Bible gives a clear enough picture of what hell really is to be able to have a solid belief about it.

Joseph,
If you are using power as a base, wouldn't you agree that we, as Americans, have more power than the babies in the Congo? Doesn't that mean that we should be doing something?


Lee,
I'm not flaming you, I hope. I'm just frustrated that God is the one being blamed for the actions of men.

I see what you are saying about God making us like He wants us to be in the first place. I'm not sure how He can make someone wise without offering a choice. God has constant choices as to how to use His wrath, mercy, power etc. How can choice be take out of the equation?

About the Congo...I don't have answers. I think it's worth talking about though. I will not be adopting a family because my husband is not open to it, but if it were just my life on the ticket I would be doing something yesterday!
And...I do know of several families in the U.S. who have had dreams from God telling them to adopt families from Sudan. I'm talking many people added to the family and they are committed to doing whatever it takes to care for them.

I don't know. I think we should all be talking about ways to help. I have to wonder why it is that the majority of relief agencies and workers are Christian. Worldwide, not only U.S.? Doesn't that say something?

Joseph said...

Jennifer, I really don't get the point of comparing the US to God. Isn't he supposed to be all powerful? Able to create a universe in a week or less?

In answer to your question: yes, the US should do what it can to alleviate suffering. Why? Because it has the power to do so. With great power comes great responsibility. The Christian God has infinitely greater power. If he has any compassion at all, he should use his power to stop evil events like the holocaust or terrorist attacks, since we obviously are limited in what we can do as human beings.

Joseph said...

By the way, where do you get the idea that most of the relief agencies around the world are distinctively Christian?

Bryan Riley said...

Cipher, you'd think he'd asked you to commit the holocaust. He asked you to believe, to love Him.

I'm sorry if you have had problems with countrified Baptist preachers in the past. Often religion does all sorts of evil in the name of God, but knows nothing of God.

I think it is interesting how most of you try to stay very logical and scientific until you start saying things like God could do this and this if He's so this and still have free will... blah blah blah. What? You say it like you know what you are talking about. I don't get any of that. I don't think any one of us coudl determine how to deal with billions of free wills, working to bring them all to love, yet working with evil choices all the while. Sounds more difficult than you make it out to be.

Curiosis noted that there was good out of bombs (although I'm sure the Japanese who died would differ with you). That's just his example, but it is based on his viewpoint. Trying on God's viewpoint would be quite interesting.

And, yes, there is a lot more evil out there, as SadEvilTan notes. It seems to prove God's point, not the opposite.

Joseph said...

Bryan said, "I think it is interesting how most of you try to stay very logical and scientific until you start saying things like God could do this and this if He's so this and still have free will... blah blah blah. What? You say it like you know what you are talking about."

And why not? We're simply taking the doctrines of the Bible to their logical conclusions. Do you believe in an all-powerful God? If so, then could your God NOT have stopped the holocaust? If he could, but didn't, can you in all good conscience thank him for it? Why or why not?

"Sounds more difficult than you make it out to be." So would be creating a universe out of nothing in 6 days. Why limit your God? Aren't all things possible for him?

Bryan Riley said...

Joseph, you know my answer to that. We've already written it above. It's called power that is limiting itself. Your arguments attempt to be logical based on things you think may flow from something you dont' even believe in. It strikes me that that is a recipe for illogic.

God created in 6 days? Maybe. Could have been 6 milliseconds or 6 millenia. I don't know. He could. You are right.

Shygetz said...

We can complain about God's involvement in WWII forever, how about the atheist involvement?

The Nazi's weren't atheists. Do I need to type it more slowly so it can sink into your head? The. Nazis. Weren't. Atheists. Many of them were confessing Catholics (none of whom were excommunicated for their involvement). Many were involved in Hitler's Positive Christianity movement. They weren't atheists. Neither were the Japanese, nor the Italians. During WWII, even the atheist Soviet regime revived the Russian Orthodox Church to whip up the fervor needed to defend the motherland; they turned to religion when it was convenient to prop up their totalitarian regime.

Additionally, in case you forgot, atheists don't claim to be omniscient, omnipotent, or omnibenevolent.

And your "atheist philosophy" proves that you are from the "la-la-la, I'm not listening to you" school of debate. If you can honestly still hold that opinion after reading the posts here, then you simply aren't paying attention.

God obviously doesn't hold free will to be sacrosanct. He violated Pharaoh's free will when He hardened Pharaoh's heart against the Jews, just so God could slaugher the firstborn of Egypt (Exodus 9-14). If God found it acceptable to violate Pharaoh's free will in order to kill innocent children, why did He not find it acceptable to violate Hitler's free will in order to save innocent children?

And as was pointed out earlier, God used miracles left and right to frustrate the free choices of humans when they did not meet His approval. The tumbling of the Walls of Jericho, for example. Joshua wanted to take the city, but was unable; God fixed that. The Jews (and Jehovah's Witnesses and various others, let's not forget) wanted to stop the Nazi slaughter of themselves and their people, but were unable. God chose NOT to fix that.

You can't have it both ways. Either God intervenes sometimes, or He doesn't. If He doesn't, the Bible is wrong. If He does, then He has to account for why He didn't in every case where He obviously should have. I mean, God intervened to turn water into wine; I think saving millions of lives from hideous torture is a mite more pressing a concern.

Bryan Riley said...

I agree that it seems like He "obviously" should have, but I don't and can't know. I can believe that His character is consistently love and trust Him, or I can not believe that and use the HOlocaust as one of many examples to chunk Him. I choose to trust. You choose to chunk. Both are reasonable. You make good points, Shygetz, but they are based on limited knowledge and assumptions, not truth.

Noogatiger said...

"It is plain that there is one moral law for heaven and another for the earth. The pulpit assures us that wherever we see suffering and sorrow which we can relieve and do not do it, we sin, heavily. There was never yet a case of suffering or sorrow which God could not relieve. Does He sin, then? If He is the Source of Morals He does--certainly nothing can be plainer than that, you will admit. Surely the Source of law cannot violate law and stand un-smirched; surely the judge upon the bench cannot forbid crime and then revel in it himself un-reproached. Nevertheless we have this curious spectacle: daily the trained parrot in the pulpit gravely delivers himself of these ironies, which he has acquired at second-hand and adopted without examination, to a trained congregation which accepts them without examination, and neither the speaker nor the hearer laughs at himself. It does seem as if we ought to be humble when we are at a bench-show, and not put on airs of intellectual superiority there". - Mark Twain

Jon said...

"Excuse me? You have absolutely GOT to be kidding! You made two statements in diametrical opposition to one another - but it's a function of my inability to perceive the difference?"

It is completely your inability because the first statement was hopelessly sarcastic! AN 8 YEAR OLD WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO TELL!!!!

"You arrogant, condescending fool. You have no good answers; you aren't even addressing my statement. You don't hear my pain; there's Christian compassion for you. You simply attempt to invalidate the opposition so that you don't have to think too deeply about what we're saying. You're interested solely in protecting your beliefs."

A discussion of the problem of evil is no place for you to break down in an irrelevant and pointless sea of resentment. You want to have an emotional outburst, fine, do it somewhere else. I'm not a counselor and I don't validate appeals to emotion. Do NOT mask your hatred as philosophical discussion.

Keep it together man.

"The Nazi's weren't atheists. Do I need to type it more slowly so it can sink into your head? The. Nazis. Weren't. Atheists. Many of them were confessing Catholics (none of whom were excommunicated for their involvement). Many were involved in Hitler's Positive Christianity movement. They weren't atheists. Neither were the Japanese, nor the Italians. During WWII, even the atheist Soviet regime revived the Russian Orthodox Church to whip up the fervor needed to defend the motherland; they turned to religion when it was convenient to prop up their totalitarian regime."

This is beyond wishful thinking. They followed a philosophy spelled out by Darwin and Nietzche. Who CARES what label they slapped on it. It's what philosophy they followed the most accurately that matters, and that's social Darwinism, an atheistic philosophy! This is so fruitless to deny. Anyone with any knowledge of the Third Reich would eat their hat before denying Nazism was a form of atheism. This is so established that atheistic debaters don't even argue it.

I need a break from this discussion. It's getting way too stupid.

Stargazer said...

Bryan said:

Both are reasonable. You make good points, Shygetz, but they are based on limited knowledge and assumptions, not truth.

I think a more accurate statement would be that Shygetz's points are based on evidence, not belief.

Joseph said...

Bryan, you seem to have trouble with me working through the assumptions of Biblical doctrine. I don't quite understand why. You might do the same if you were seeking to disprove Islam or Mormonism or atheism. I'm simply taking the Bible's own teachings and showing how they are incongruent with reality.

God cannot be omni-anything, except omin-evil and allow something as hateful as the holocaust to happen. Therefore, in my mind, the Biblical doctrine a matter of faith--and not well-informed faith, either. Notice, I said the Biblical doctrine of God. I realize that the presence of evil does not negate the existence of some superior, intelligent power somewhere in the universe. It does effectively negate the Christian's God, however.

Joseph said...

"If God found it acceptable to violate Pharaoh's free will in order to kill innocent children, why did He not find it acceptable to violate Hitler's free will in order to save innocent children?"

Brilliantly stated, Shygetz.

Shygetz said...

This is beyond wishful thinking. They followed a philosophy spelled out by Darwin and Nietzche. Who CARES what label they slapped on it. It's what philosophy they followed the most accurately that matters, and that's social Darwinism, an atheistic philosophy! This is so fruitless to deny. Anyone with any knowledge of the Third Reich would eat their hat before denying Nazism was a form of atheism. This is so established that atheistic debaters don't even argue it.

You are ignorant beyond belief as to the history and nature of the Nazi movement. Hitchens discusses it at some length in "God Is Not Great". You can find tons of information on the relationship of Nazism to religion and Nazism's Positive Christianity, thoroughly sourced. Where are your sources, jon? Where are your facts?

Nazism was based on eugenics (which recommends intervention), NOT Social Darwinism (which states that such problems take care of themselves without intervention). Neither is an atheistic philosophy; they are ignostic, and simply declare that not all human life is of equal worth (a very common stance in the Old Testament). They practiced eugenics based on their religious belief in Aryan blood myths and the Nordic nature of Christ. Eugenics was performed in traditionally Christian-dominated nations, including Great Britain and the USA (epileptics could not marry in Connecticut in 1896; mental patients were forcibly sterilized in Virginia in 1927; in all, 60,000 people considered genetically unfit to reproduce were forcibly sterilized in the USA).

Atheists and freethinkers were persecuted in the late 20's and 30's by the Nazi regime. In 1933, Hitler said in a speech “We have . . . undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” How are these the words and actions of an atheistic regime? Only in your fevered dreams, jon.

You, sir, are an idiot.

Jon said...

I know I said I should take a break but this is just too ripe. I'm only going to offer a couple quotes, so accepted that they're taken from wikipedia (if you want more sophisticated sources I can find them for you):

"Hitler often visited the museum in Weimar on Nietzsche and posed for photos looking intently at the bust of Nietzsche. The Nazi movement found much affinity with Nietzsche's ideas including his attacks against democracy, Christianity and parliamentary governments, his preaching in The will to power where Nietzsche proclaimed the coming of a ruling race that would become the "lords of the earth," his praise of war and the belief in a coming master race and the superman. The Nazis also borrowed Nietzsche's views on women saying 'They belong in the kitchen and their chief role in life is to beget children for German warriors' or as Nietzsche put it 'Man shall be trained for war and woman for the procreation of the warrior, any thing else is folly[2]"

"The appropriation of Nietzsche's work by the Nazis, combined with the rise of analytic philosophy, ensured that British and American academic philosophers would almost completely ignore him until at least 1950."

"Hitler's private statements are more clear. There are negative statements about Christianity reported by Hitler's intimates, Goebbels, Speer, and Bormann.[25] Joseph Goebbels, for example, notes in a diary entry in 1939: "The Führer is deeply religious, but deeply anti-Christian. He regards Christianity as a symptom of decay." Albert Speer reports a similar statement: “You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?"[26] In the Hossbach Memorandum Hitler is recorded as saying that "only the disintegrating effect of Christianity, and the symptoms of age" were responsible for the demise of the Roman empire.[27] In 1941, Hitler praised an anti-Christian tract from 362CE, Julian's Against the Galileans, saying "I really hadn't known how clearly a man like Julian had judged Christians and Christianity, one must read this..."[28] He was reported to say that religion should die on its own accord.[29]"

"In the beginning Hitler was opposed to state atheism, which for example was part of the political system of the Soviet Union, but he nevertheless desired a religiously neutral state system, at least during the years of his dictatorship.[46] He feared the political power that the churches had, and did not want to openly antagonize that political base until he had securely gained control of the country. Once in power Hitler showed his contempt for religion and sought to eliminate it from areas under his rule.[47] [48] Within Hitler's Nazi Party some atheists were quite vocal especially Baldur von Schirach, Arthur Axmann and Martin Bormann. From Hitler's promotion of declared atheists within his party and his use of Muslim fighters[49][50] in his army, it can be concluded that Hitler in the public realm tolerated different religious opinions, ranging from atheist to Islamic to Christian, as long as those people professing these different creeds would support the Nazi regime. Hitler often used religious speech and symbolism in his propaganda to appease and promote Nazism to those that he feared would be disposed to act against him,[51][52] and he also used religion as a pretext in diplomacies.[citation needed] The Marxist Russian state feared that if they commenced a program of persecution against religion in the western regions, Hitler would use that as a pretext for war.[53]"

This shows the religious pretensions of the Nazis to be no more than the placating of a mainly Christian society. Hitler's true colours and inspirations were revealed behind closed doors.

Looks like it's more than me who's an idiot. Maybe the whole world are idiots and you're the only smart person.

Jon said...

I'm not going to wait for you to ask. Here is a quick description of Hitler's love for Nietzche's view on the superman. Skip to 20 mins in:

http://www.rzim.org/radio/archives.php?p=LMPT&v=detail&id=617

billf said...

To true bible believing Christians the answer to why God allowed the Holocaust is obvious.

Why would God intervene? Why would God care whether 6 million or so Jews die 40 or so years early? What is 40 years of life compared to an eternity of torture in hell?

Almost all humans are going to hell anyway. (Not you, the reader of course, I am sure that YOU are one of the lucky few who happen to believe in the RIGHT kind of Christianity!) So why would God get in the way of us getting there a little quicker? Holocausts, floods, fires, nukes, suicide bombers, whatever.

And if a few of the 'right' Christians accidentally get popped early, that is no big deal either. Poof, your in Heaven. Everybody wins!

God, what a genius.

Joe E. Holman said...

Lee Randolph said...

"aw joe, my arguing isn't pointless. It makes me sharper. ;-)"


My reply...

I stand corrected, sir!

I see now how SOME good came out of all this hoopla!

(JH)

zilch said...

jon- you say:

Anyone with any knowledge of the Third Reich would eat their hat before denying Nazism was a form of atheism. This is so established that atheistic debaters don't even argue it.

Wrong on two counts. Nazism in the Third Reich was a form of government, not a "form of atheism". And here am I, and others, atheist debaters, and we're arguing it.

Hitler was a megalomaniac- I think we can all agree on that. And like megalomaniacs everywhere, he did his best to consolidate power in every way possible. That included encouraging a cult of personality around himself and his deputies. To this end, the Nazi regime borrowed from and supported many existing systems of belief, as long as they thought they were useful. As your quotes from wikipedia show, they were willing to accomodate any belief, be it Norse mythology, Japanese fatherland worship, Christianity, Islam, or simply the Germanic equivalent of Mom and Apple Pie homilies, as long as it served their purposes.

I have a small collection of Wochensprüche der NSDAP (these were posters put up weekly by the Nazis) which include such inspirational quotes as "In the laying down of one's life for the community lies the crowning of all self-sacrifice" (Adolf Hitler). Or this anonymous gem: "Kindness and friendliness are never signs of weakness, but rather of spiritual superiority". Now, of course, governments have always tried to identify themselves with what people hold near and dear. But the Nazi regime were masters at manipulating every system of ideals they could somehow influence.

In any case, whatever bizarre mixture of messianic beliefs Hitler himself entertained, he was not an atheist. More to the point, as shygetz has already said, by far the greatest number of "normal" Germans (and Austrians), those who were just "following orders", were Christians, primarily Catholics.

Jon: I will admit right away that I'm no expert on the Third Reich. But I do have primary sources I'm willing to bet you do not: I know a number of people who lived through the Third Reich here in Austria, including people who were in concentration camps, or unwitting Aryan children, or Nazi officers, in WWII. And while this is a mere handful of people, the breakdown of their beliefs is interesting.

The concentration camp inmates I knew (they have all since passed away) were all Jewish (not surprisingly). The people I know (quite a few) who were Aryan kids are now a mixture of atheists and Catholics, none very observant. And the Nazis (also now dead) were strict Catholics. I'll admit that my sample is not statistically significant by itself, but it fits with all the larger studies: most of the Nazis considered themselves Christians.

Shygetz said...

jon, did I ever say Hitler didn't like Nietzsche? No. But admiring Nietzsche does not make an atheist, any more than admiring Newton makes me an Anglican. Hitler was also against the Christian teachings of the time, which is why he started the Positive Christianity religion.

"Joseph Goebbels, for example, notes in a diary entry in 1939: "The Führer is deeply religious, but deeply anti-Christian. He regards Christianity as a symptom of decay." "

Hmmm...is "deeply religious" code for "atheist" in your world, jon? How can you quote this approvingly yourself and still claim Hitler was an atheist?

Look, read Hitler's words. Read Mein Kampf.

“The anti-Semitism of the new [Christian Social] movement was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.”

“Thus inwardly armed with confidence in God and the unshakable stupidity of the voting citizenry, the politicians can begin the fight for the ‘remaking’ of the Reich as they call it.”

“It may be that today gold has become the exclusive ruler of life, but the time will come when man will again bow down before a higher god.”

“What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe.”

“[T]he world has no reason for fighting in our defense, and as a matter of principle God does not make cowardly nations free…”

"... I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews. I am doing the Lord's work."

“The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God's will, and actually fulfill God's will, and not let God's word be desecrated. For God's will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord's creation, the divine will.”

Hear his comment to General Engel in 1941.

"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."

His speech in 1944:

“I may not be a light of the church, a pulpiteer, but deep down I am a pious man, and believe that whoever fights bravely in defense of the natural laws framed by God and never capitulates will never be deserted by the Lawgiver, but will, in the end, receive the blessings of Providence.”

He died in 1945; you telling me he changed his mind in that last year?

Read the belt buckles of the vermacht soldiers.

"Gott mit uns" (God is with us)

He made Christian prayer compulsory in school. He banned freethought organizations and persecuted atheists. Are these the words and actions of an atheist? Yet you insist they are.

If you want to claim that Baldur von Schirach, Arthur Axmann and Martin Bormann were atheist, you're going to need sources, which Wiki didn't have. I tried to look it up online, but only found the same three guys listed as an unsubstantiated claim on various pages, usually in the same wording. Army chaplains testify that Baldur von Schirach was a protestant and regularly took Communion during his captivity by the Allies. But, even if you do, that is three people out of the entire Nazi regime. Shall I list Adolf Eichmann (Catholic), Heinrich Himmler (Catholic turned neopagan and Buddhist), Goering (theist who requested communion prior to suicide), von Ribbentrop (Christian), Alfred Rosenberg (Positive Christianity), etc.

Your lie that no scholar argues that Hitler wasn't an atheist was a clumsy lie. You should know better.

Jim Jordan said...

Does the fact that the Holocaust happened rule out the existence of a benevolent God? That would be like saying rotten cheese is evidence for the non-existence of milk. Milk is nourishing, rotten cheese is awful, but doesn't rule out the possibility that the milk was once good.

My previous question went unanswered, so let me paraphrase it:
If God had intervened, prior to the liberation in 1945 (divinely inspired?), what would have happened? Would that have prevented the next genocide in Russia and China both of which actually dwarfed this one? Would that have prevented Pol Pot's genocide of Cambodians, the Hutus genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda? Saddam's genocide of his own people? The genocide in the Congo just a few years ago? Or the genocide of unwanted children going on right now under our proud noses?

This god would have to intervene every few months to stop us from the next Holocaust somewhere on earth. How long before our free will would dissipate in the face of this perfect nanny god?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jim,
as i see it your comment is a case of an excluded middle. While the holocaust is not unequivocable proof that god doesn't exist, it is inconsistent with claims about his character.

The excluded middle is that you seem to be saying that Gods intervention would be analogous to him being a 'nanny' but I and others are saying that he could just 'tap the ball' so to speak to his glory, and intercede when the local minority freewill is overpowering the global majority freewill. When he knows that we would want it stopped and are in effect trying to stop it, he should 'tap the ball' or give us a hand, as I would and have helped out others that I saw were trying to do the right thing. Someone mentioned the spread of aids in africa because of irresponsible sexaual practices of the men in some tribes earlier, and now I add the problem of the missionaries and the pope discouraging the use of condoms. None of us want aids spreading in Africa, yet it continues and is facilitated by Gods supporters.

This is slightly analogous to the holocaust. He could have given us a hand.

Permitting these horrors are not consistent with claims about gods character.

Therefore it weakens the argument for his existence.

Additionally your argument depends on the flawed principle that one is not morally obligated to help others in distress. I would say that god is morally obligated to help us out when we are trying to do the right thing.

Jennifer said...

Can we really trust anything Hitler said in public? He was schoozing people! He was talking to Germans who had a long history of spirituality before Christianity even blinked upon the scene. He had to line up with some form of belief in the divine in order to be seen as a noble leader.

Look at the fruit of his life...Jesus said people would know His followers by their love for one another.

Lee Randolph said...

Wow Jennifer, that really sounds like you are wanting to dispute scholarship and history to fit your opinion. That would be consistent with what i understand behavior resulting from cognitive dissonance to be.

His statements seem consistent with his actions to me. Especially this one "... I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews. I am doing the Lord's work."

Bryan Riley said...

Lee, that is not the only point of Jim's argument. And it doesn't presume one doesn't need to act, although I would say God has no obligation to do so.

Another point is (still is because it has been articulated previously) that you really can't know what would be better. We can all add a bunch of perhaps to the equation. Perhaps if the holocaust hadn't reached the epic proportions no countries that could stop hitler would have acted soon enough (U.S.). Perhaps not only Pearl Harbor had to happen to get our full attention, although there is another example of a tragedy likely causing a greater good.

How do those who believe it's all chance decide what was good? Why couldn't you be arguing that it's bad Hitler lost? What is good and what is bad with a foudation of pure chance???

Lee Randolph said...

Bryan,
the only way that I can see that you can justify saying that a benevolent perfect being has no obligation to abide by sound principles of morality is to reconcile your belief system.

Another point is (still is because it has been articulated previously) that you really can't know what would be better.
I can say that I think it would have been better not to have a holocaust because it would have avoided all that suffering. If that is not your view, I find that pretty odd.

How do those who believe it's all chance decide what was good? Why couldn't you be arguing that it's bad Hitler lost? What is good and what is bad with a foudation of pure chance???
get a grip bryan. The holocaust was not good. I wouldn't be arguing that it was bad that hitler lost because he was doing a lot of harm and I all for minimizing harm. The principle of minimizing harm is a good foundation, maximizing our chances for successful outcomes in terms of survival and comfort is a good foundation. What is so hard to understand?

I think it is hard for you to understand because it doesn't reconcile with the existence of the christian god.

The fact that people will tolerate and justify things like the holocaust by saying "that you really can't know what would be better" in order to reconcile a belief in a benevolent god is scary and it is one of the reasons I support this blog.

Bryan Riley said...

Lee, we aren't connecting because your recharacterizations of what i'm trying to say don't match what I thought I said. I apologize because I know my ability to communicate briefly in writing via the internet is poor.

zilch said...

bryan- you say:

How do those who believe it's all chance decide what was good? Why couldn't you be arguing that it's bad Hitler lost? What is good and what is bad with a foudation of pure chance???

Who here has said that it's "all chance"? How many times do we naturalists have to explain: it's not "all chance"? Please take a look at this thread. Life is not all chance: the unfathomable complexity of life, and of our societies built upon that complexity, are the result of billions of years of incremental increases in order, bought at the expense of untold trillions of lives of living organisms. How that can be dismissed as "chance" is beyond me.

Jim Jordan said...

Lee wrote
as i see it your comment is a case of an excluded middle. While the holocaust is not unequivocable proof that god doesn't exist, it is inconsistent with claims about his character

The middle ground was brief but it was there in parenthesis regarding the liberation (divinely inspired?)

You must admit that all these tragedies came to an end or will come to end (case of Darfur, abortion, etc.). The beauty of that is that the minority became the majority [I would argue that the "majority" is generally cruel until they are forced to see their errors].

Previously, the majority was apathetic but the cruelty people began to see convicted them to act. Tyrannies always end. Tyrants are always despised for their evil in the long run.

Tyrrany is central to man's character, it is not an anomaly.

he could just 'tap the ball' so to speak to his glory,

Again, who's to say he didn't?

Jim Jordan said...

Regarding the Catholic church not promoting condom use in Africa, that's true. But condoms are everywhere.

Francis (who's 16) has learned a little about condoms - not from school, but by reading the instruction leaflet inside a package.

Hmm, that's how I learned. Talk about universal education!

Now if you can find some priests and nuns running around ripping condoms off of the penises of African men, that might be a genocide. Cheers.

billf said...

Calling Hitler an atheist despite all of the contrary evidence is ludicrous.

We non believers need to watch this as well. If we think, for example, that the Bush administrations policies are based mainly on his faith we are just kidding ourselves.

The Bush administration is willing to use anyone to get and retain power so that they can do what they want to do. The religious right was just a useful and very, VERY, easy to manipulate voting block. A congregation is called a 'flock' for a reason.

As evidence, read "Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction" by David Kuo.

He was high up in the "Office of faith based initiatives." He left after figuring out that the Bush administration really didn't care about religion, and mocked the religious behind closed doors. He was not the first such person to leave for those reasons either.

It would do us all well to realize that religion is most often just one tool that the power hungry use to achieve their goals.

Shygetz said...

Can we really trust anything Hitler said in public?

Some of the quotes are from private correspondences Hitler had that were not for public consumption. He was a theist to the end. He started a religion, for Chrissakes!

He was talking to Germans who had a long history of spirituality before Christianity even blinked upon the scene. He had to line up with some form of belief in the divine in order to be seen as a noble leader.

Stalin didn't, and the Russians had a much greater tradition of religion than the Germans--they had a near-divine czar for centuries. True, Stalin used the Church, but he never claimed to be either religious or divine, and he was pretty successful in grasping and holding power over a religious nation.

Look at the fruit of his life...Jesus said people would know His followers by their love for one another.

Oh, the Nazi's had no problem loving one another; it was the outsiders that gave them problems.

And lest we forget, Hitler didn't kill many millions of people with his own two hands. The Catholic Church says that over 25% of SS members were confessing Catholics (not lapsed, confessing). Most of the rest were Protestant. They are the ones who did the killings in the name of God and the Aryan race, and many of them eagerly. Atheism was stamped out, being considered to be related to Bolshevism. Look at his fruits; they were not atheists. Atheists suffered under Nazi Germany, just as they did under Franco's Spain and Mussolini's Italy (an atheist who converted to Catholocism before he commited his atrocities).

You're trying to pull the common religious trick:

1.) A Christian (or Muslim) is defined as someone who follows Christ and is good.
2.) Therefore, all Christians (or Muslims, etc.) are good.

This is circular reasoning. Additionally, Christians are constantly strutting about, claiming the US is a Christian nation when obviously it isn't by your definition; that Christianity has been hugely successful historically when obviously it hasn't by your definition; etc. If all Christians are good and loving, then Christianity is and always has been a tiny fringe cult.

Bryan Riley said...

I'm not trying to get into the Hitler is an atheist argument. I just assume he was a theist who believe that the god of his belief was himself. But, can't atheism be classified as a religion? Why all this talk about Hitler being religious as proof that he wasn't an atheist?

Jon said...

I have two reasons to believe Nazism to be closer to atheism than anything else:

1) It's most horrendous and differentiating beliefs were taken directly from Nietzche's nihilism. Take, for example, the belief in the superman. This was the ideology directly responsible for the genocide. Of course Nietzche would have never supported such crimes, but he also understood (and wrote) that such evil was the direct consequence of his philosophy.

2) The very fact that the Nazi leaders flip-flopped so often between supporting Christianity and insulting it shows their skepticism. If they actually believed in an all-powerful, vengeful creator, regardless of what one, they would treat the matter more reverently and not change their view depending on how they were talking to. The fact that they move between mocking God and using him so frequently shows they didn't really believe in him.

I think it is as another post-er put it: Hitler was a theist because he believed himself to be God. This is what I most agree with, but I also believe this is a direct result of atheism. However I don't want to argue this just yet because it would be like opening a whole separate can of worms.

We must get away from judging people by their affiliations. Instead, judge them by their philosophy as carried out by their actions. It doesn't matter that the Nazis called themselves Christians if the philosophy they followed was more atheistic than anything else. This idea of doing away with camps and categories has long been a point of confusion among skeptics and has led to some rather annoying misconceptions (check out South Park's view on the afterlife for an abundance of misleading information).

Here is one of the most compelling responses to the problem of evil (given by Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig):

http://www.rzim.org/radio/archives.php?p=LMPT&v=detail&id=979

zilch said...

jon says:

We must get away from judging people by their affiliations. Instead, judge them by their philosophy as carried out by their actions. It doesn't matter that the Nazis called themselves Christians if the philosophy they followed was more atheistic than anything else.

Here we have it clearly stated: if people do evil, it must have been inspired by atheism, no matter what the evildoers themselves claim about their beliefs. This is as good an example as I've ever run across of how religious belief can distort rationality. This is the same kind of reasoning that the Nazis employed to attribute all the ills of Weimar Germany to the Jews.

Jon said...

Man, that just doesn't make any sense. You're taking it completely out of context and reading something into it that isn't there, then drawing the most ridiculous comparison possible. You're not interested in an intelligent discussion. You're just interested in embarrassing the other side as conveniently as possible.

I'm really sick of the cheap shots, low blows and suckerpunches.

zilch said...

jon- sorry, I'll stand by my analysis. I'm not saying that you are like a Nazi, just that your reasoning is similar in this case: you don't want to admit that coreligionists can do wrong, so you blame the "other" instead. And that in the teeth of evidence that the "others" have little or nothing to do with the problems.

And as far as taking offence at "cheap shots"- this from the guy who tells us atheists that atheism is responsible for the Holocaust.

Jon said...

It's not a cheap shot if it's justified and intended for discussion, which it is. Compared to the indefensible and completely juvenile insults that have come from some of the other post-ers I really don't think you have anything to complain to me about.

In fact, the only part of my post that you attacked was the observation that we should judge people according to their beliefs as carried out in their actions, not by their affiliations, and this is easily defended. I can go to AA all I want, but only if I am addicted to alcohol do I become an alcoholic.

Besides, you've misjudged me. I'm the first to condemn Christians. Heck, I condemn humanity in general, including myself, as we all should. None of us are perfect. You'll never hear me defend the laziness and greed of WWII Christian America, or the dull, thick-headed fanaticism of the Christian Nazis. They all should have known better. I will defend Christianity for as long as it takes, but I'll rarely defend a Christian.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jon, Zilch,
I can't say much now but I do want to say I am relieved at Jons reaction to Zilch.
You're taking it completely out of context and reading something into it that isn't there, then drawing the most ridiculous comparison possible.

because after responding to Bryan, Jon and jennifer and one of them asserting that I was misrepresenting their position, I was wondering if I was too hasty or had a problem with reading comprehension. I see now that I didn't and it is just a case of some people not thinking their viewpoints through to their logical conclusion.

I'm out for a little while.

have fun.

zilch said...

jon- I'm not complaining, just pointing out what I think is faulty reasoning.

I'm all for judging people by their actions, not their affiliations. But what you've done is judged the actions of the Nazis to be evil (no disagreement there) and fantasized an affiliation which is very weak at best.

Truth is, there are good and bad people (or, to state it with less baggage, people who do harm to others) of just about any religion or secular philosophy you can name. Being a Christian is no guarantee of being a good person. Nor is being an atheist.

Jon, if you're ever in Vienna, or in the SF Bay Area in summer, drop me a line, and I'll spring for the drinks. I'm actually a pretty nice person, by all accounts. This invitation goes for all of the rest of you, too.

Jennifer said...

Zilch,

Being a Christian is no guarantee of being a good person. Nor is being an atheist.

I think this is what we are all trying to say. The key word, in my opinion, is "being". Being a Christian, in my opinion, should have some expectations behind it. If a person claims to follow Christ, there should be some solid evidence of the character that is attributed to Jesus showing in the life of the person. If a person is an atheist there is no specific conduct or expectation required beyond being a decent human being.

When talking about Hitler and his regime, there must be some criteria for analyzing his claims. If he called himself a Christian yet didn't exhibit the character of Christ in many ways, I don't think we can accept that his understanding of what it means to "be a Christian" is accurate according to the measure.

By the way, I'm a bit jealous that you are in Vienna. :)

Lee,
I am not trying to change history to fit my perception, I am only pointing out what we can all observe from any political figure.
Many things are said which are not true.

All I can do is judge from my chair as I peek into a dark window. Based on the little I CAN see, I can confidently say that he was not anything like Jesus and therefore should not be given any credit for being a Christian.

zilch said...

jennifer- you say:

Based on the little I CAN see, I can confidently say that he [Hitler] was not anything like Jesus and therefore should not be given any credit for being a Christian.

Back to the old problem: who, then, is a "Christian"? It seems to me fruitless to try and draw lines (this is the "No True Scotsman" fallacy). If we are to judge worldviews on their fruits, then we must consider all their manifestations, and not just single out the saintly as examples of how wonderful they are.

Now, I won't claim that this is easy. In fact, as I've said before, and unlike many atheists, I won't presume to judge whether the total effect of religion on humanity has been bad or good, in the balance. Who can say?

If a person is an atheist there is no specific conduct or expectation required beyond being a decent human being.

Required by whom? Atheism proper doesn't require any specific conduct at all: it simply means not believing in gods. I would say that society requires and expects everyone to be decent human beings, regardless of what they believe. At least, that's necessary in my conception of an ideal society.

Jennifer- I see by your profile that you're in Washington. Do you mean the state? I was born in Seattle, and still have relatives scattered around there. Vienna is a nice place in many ways, but the Pacific Northwest is also special.

Jennifer said...

Zilch,

If we are to judge worldviews on their fruits, then we must consider all their manifestations, and not just single out the saintly as examples of how wonderful they are.

I agree in part. The word, "Christian" means little Christ. Doesn't it seem that there should be more adherence to Christlikeness if someone is to call themselves a Christian?
I don't remember where I heard this phrase, but a long time ago someone asked, "If you were tried for your faith, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"

Well...I hope so, but this would depend on the criteria being used and I think the list in Galatians is a good place to start.

If Hitler claimed to be Buddhist and to be reaching nirvana by cleansing the world would you have believed him?

zilch said...

jennifer asks:

If Hitler claimed to be Buddhist and to be reaching nirvana by cleansing the world would you have believed him?

What can it mean to say, I would have believed him, or not believed him? How can I judge what someone claims about their religion? There are obviously many degrees of religious belief, and many different ideas of what it means to be a Buddhist, or a Christian. That is my point: there's no real place to draw a line between "good" Christians and "bad" Christians, or "real" and "fake", or whatever.

Tell me this: was Martin Luther a Christian? Is he in Heaven? He said some pretty nasty things about Jews, which are well known. I'll just quote him on witches:

„daß ein Exempel an ihnen gegeben werden möchte, anderen zum Schrekken. ...
Mit denen muß man kein Mitleid haben. Ich wollte sie selber verbrennen.“


"An example should be made of them, to frighten others... One should have no sympathy for them. I wanted to burn them myself."

„Man töte sie! ... Es ist ein sehr gerechtes Gesetz, daß die Hexen getötet werden; sie richten vielerlei Schaden an. ... Schaust du solche Weiber an, so wirst du finden, daß sie ein teuflisches Gesicht haben. Ich selber habe deren etliche gesehen. Man töte sie nur!“

"One should kill them! ... It is a very just law, that witches should be killed; they cause many kinds of harm. ... If you look at such women, you will find, that they have a devilish face. I myself have seen many of them. One should only kill them!".

You see the problem here. No matter what the "true" essence of Christianity, or any other religion is, the real-world consequences of believing (whatever one conceives that to mean) are all too often terrible.

That's why I cannot say whether or not the total effect of religion on society has been, or is now, all things considered, good or bad. While it's interesting to debate what constitutes "true" Christianity (or Islam, or Hinduism...) what is more important to me is: how do people who identify themselves as being religious actually behave, as it affects me and everyone else?

Jennifer said...

what is more important to me is: how do people who identify themselves as being religious actually behave, as it affects me and everyone else?

Having been in a part of the world where witchcraft is practiced, not the "nice" sort of white magic many Wiccans and Pagans say they practice, and I probably shouldn't comment on what I think Luther was saying. I would be interested in what Richard Dawkins would have to say after spending a few months in Haiti and seeing what happens during a weekend long festival of spirits. I know the mind is powerful, but I believe there is evil beyond the control of the mind.

zilch said...

I would be interested in what Richard Dawkins would have to say after spending a few months in Haiti and seeing what happens during a weekend long festival of spirits.

Not that I can speak for Dawkins, but I can easily imagine what he might say: "This is a good example of the power of the human mind to assimilate memes- in this case, the animistic religions of the African homeland combined with the Catholicism of the European kidnappers- to form a system of beliefs, and practices, that manipulate our fears and hopes".

I know the mind is powerful, but I believe there is evil beyond the control of the mind.

And that is precisely what such religions depend upon: the belief in an incarnate evil, and its opposite, incarnate good. Good and evil are such useful ways of looking at the world, any time we are trying to build society, that it's natural to enshrine them as entities outside ourselves. That's one reason we have religions.

And as far as being "beyond the control of the mind" goes- what voodoo (for instance) does is most definitely in control of minds: the invocation of deep symbols and primal hopes and fears are all products of minds. Or have you proof that something supernatural is going on? People are easily fooled, especially when they want to be fooled, and religions have played into this, consciously or unconsciously, throughout history.

I do hope you're not suggesting that Luther was right about killing witches.

Shygetz said...

bryan said: But, can't atheism be classified as a religion? Why all this talk about Hitler being religious as proof that he wasn't an atheist?

Only as much as not collecting stamps can be considered a hobby. Atheists have no religion.

zilch said...

"Atheism" is only a religion if "off" is a television channel.

kachow007 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kachow007 said...

Why would you thank God for the Holocaust? I thought you didn't believe in God. Isn't that contradicting your beliefs?

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

Upon reflection, my previous comment (now deleted) was mean spirited and unnecessary. I apologize to anyone who might have taken offense.

kachow007 said...

ok well i still don't understand why you would be thankful for the Holocaust. what justifies that the Holocaust was a good thing.... or does it just give you another reason to be angry with God?

Shygetz said...

Sweet zombie Jesus, atheists are NOT angry with God. We are pointing out some of the conclusions that result from believing in an interventionist, benevolent God. I know why I'm not mad at God; same reason I'm not mad at Santa Claus for failing to bring me a pony last year.

Why are you not mad at God for allowing the Holocaust? After all, you believe He exists, you believe He loves His people dearly, and you believe He intervenes in human affairs, yet He allowed one of the most heinous crimes to occur. So He must have approved of allowing the Holocaust. Do you praise His benevolence for allowing the Holocaust? Why not?

kachow007 said...

No, I don't know why God allowed the Holocaust to happen...there is no reason in my human mind that could justify it. I just have to trust God that He had a reason for it and also thank Him from stopping Hitler before he could control the whole world. You just can't look at the bad, you have to look at the good that came from that and the good people who helped stop it.