Calvinism is Bullshit, and God Wanted Me to Say This.

Okay, get ready for another round of verbal body slams and charges of ignorance, but it's time to revisit Calvinism. I hate that theology with a passion, but keep in mind I do not hate Calvinists themselves (kinda like, "love the sinner hate the sin").

I have written quite a bit about Calvinism on this Blog. You can read some of what I wrote as follows, in the order of their appearance:

1) Did God Sovereignly Decree What I'm Doing?

2) A Question for Calvinists.

3) What's the likelihood Calvinists are wrong?

4) Calvinism Explains Everything...and Nothing.

5) The Calvinist Dilemma...the Atheist Dilemma.

If you only have time to read one of the above postings on Calvinism then read the fourth one.

There are so many things wrong with Calvinism it's hard to know where to start. Calvinist cannot show the Bible is historically true for one; that some of the claims in it occurred, or that they even make sense (like the Trinity, the creation of a first moment in time, the Incarnation, Atonement, personal survival after death, hell, etc), nor can they harmonize the mythical creation accounts with science, the Flood story with geology, the Exodus story with archaeology, the Roman census with birth narratives of Jesus, etc. Nor can Calvinists show that their particular interpretation of the canonized texts is preferable to the Arminian interpretation, all of which must be true for their theology to be true, plus much much more.

Calvinist theology goes against civility and love for one's neighbor (that is if the neighbor isn't another Calvinist or Christian). It calls upon them to hate people just as God hates people (i.e. unbelievers, "fags," adulterers, and so forth). It calls upon them to worship and love a God who eternally and sovereignly decrees many people to eternal torment for his own egomaniacal glory (i.e., they could not have chosen to believe if they had tried).

But the bottom line for Calvinism is that if God has a secret behind-the-scenes will which no human being is privy too, then Calvinism commits the Calvinist to agnosticism. You see, it's not the Bible that tells the Calvinist what God wants them to believe or to do. No siree, Bob. The Bible is merely a divine aide to get believers to believe and do what God wants. God doesn't even need the Bible because he can equally get non-believers to believe and do what he wants. All that anyone believes or does is exactly what God wants them to believe and do. So no, it's not the Bible that tells the Calvinist what God really wants. God's secret will is his real will. He really wants me to write these very words even though if we read the Bible he wants me to believe and to evangelize. But the truth is he wants me to do exactly what I am doing. I am doing God's will right now, his secret real will! Praise Jesus! Hallelujah! I cannot do differently if I try. I could not even desire to do differently even if I try.

All of this means that Calvinists cannot trust the Bible. That's right. They cannot trust that what the Bible tells them to believe or do is what God actually wants them to believe and to do. Calvinism leads to agnosticism, a complete and utter agnosticism about what pleases their God. Calvinism also makes God a liar, despite the fact that Bible says God does not lie. Why? Because he tells us one thing in the Bible and then behind the scenes secretly wants us to do otherwise. As far as God's real secretive will goes, the Calvinist doesn't even know whether or not God is actually pleased with nonbelievers. Wouldn't that be a surprise to Calvinists to find that the people God was secretively pleased with are people like me, and that it is they who will be cast into hell while I and other non-believers are brought into heaven? ;-)

How can any intelligent person accept this complete and utter nonsense? Calvinism is quite literally bullshit, and God wanted me to say this!

First posted 1/31/09

72 comments:

James said...

You know you'll be accused of "strawmen" and "not understanding Calvinism", right? Of course, you've simplified it just a tiny bit but it's still accurate. Calvinists HATE it when people don't use flowery language to describe their theology: it makes them look like the sh*theads they really are.

In any rate: what you have is a God who wills that which He doesn't will. He's the two-headed, schizophrenic God who actively desires people simultaneously to do AND NOT DO that which He wants (or doesn't want) them to do.

Let me state that again: according to Calvinism, God decrees/wills people to do that which He does not will them to do.

I've asked Calvinists how they're certain that God won't later turn them into apostates for His entertainment. How do they know? Are they privy to God's "secret will"? Of course they're not, but it doesn't matter. They *know* they're among the elect.

Of course, state how this makes no sense and all you'll get is "Who are you to answer God back? Sit down and shut up!"

I don't know ... the circular reasoning and insane, Lewis Carroll world of the Calvinist is not something that can easily be penetrated. Frankly, arguing with a Calvinist is almost always a complete waste of time.

James said...

Oh, by the way, here's a CHRISTIAN post about John Calvin and some of his "hobbies". He was an unrepentant murderous, torturing thug, basically. There was much more to the his life than just the Servetus incident.

http://www.biblestudying.net/johncalvin.html

Hey, so he had a few people decapitated and burned alive. At least he didn't kiss another man on the lips, right?

AndreLinoge said...

Calvinism certainly is ugly, but I find Arminianism to be just as bad. A god who supposedly loves his creation, but damns them for not making the right "choice", or who damns them for not being able to generate enough or sincere enough faith.

J. K. Jones said...

We do what we do because we want to do it. We make choices, and we are responsible for the otucomes of those choices because nothing ouside us causes us to choose the way we do.

Our choices are also forordained from the foundation of the world. They could not be made in a different way that they are. They must be made the way they are made because that is the kind of people we are.

Where exactly is the contradiction?

John W. Loftus said...

JK, could we want or desire to do differently?

DrMark said...

Fascinating and irrational how atheists object more strongly to Calvinism than most, for atheism is the ultimate beief in predestination. If naturalism is true, then no free will exists because it is biochemiclly predestined. Terms such as free will, right vs. wrong, etc. imply objective standards beyond majority. Slavery is always wrong even in 1850's southern America or ancient Mideast. Anti-semetism is always wrong, even in Nazi Germany. The Inquisition is always wrong, even in politicized European Crusadeville. A two-headed schozophrenic God is always wrong. Yet wrong implies a standard for right, a standard beyond the majority. Atheism dictates these standards are only resultant from biochemical predestination. Otherwise, something else beyond the physical stuff of the universe would facor into "choosing" a belief system. How you repsond to this blog is already predestined in your Calvatheist chemistry. Seems rejecting both hyper-Calvinistic predestination and atheistic naturalism predestination should be considered. But to rejet the latter would be to reject true naturalism, true atheism. Dean Kenyon originally proposed this atheistic idea of bichemical predistination. He later refuted it and embraced the Christian faith. He has some good literary work for open-minded Christians and open-minded atheists - if their chemistry hasn't predestined them to accuse the other camp of being closed in mind.

Dave said...

J.K.Jones wrote:

> nothing ouside us causes us to choose the way we do.<

And then he wrote:

>Our choices are also forordained from the foundation of the world"

It's difficult to decipher what you're saying, J.K., because you're making contradictory statements. Presumably you do so unconsciously and do it in order to hold onto to your beliefs.

ahswan said...

John, While I have my own issues with Calvinism, I don't have quite the same visceral reaction that you do. But then, I'm saved by grace through faith. ;-)

JK is right, if you don't blame God, then you've lost anyone to blame but yourself, even though I think that the Calvinist-Arminian continuum presents something of a false dichotomy. While Western Christianity for the most part has adopted the Augustinian view of total depravity, the Eastern church has not, believing that man is given both the freedom, grace and ability to see and to choose God. Again, we can choose.

Now, you have chosen a set of control beliefs, which determine (I could say, "predestine") your conclusions about religious faith of any kind; the logical outcome of your starting point is a disbelief in God. However, your control beliefs themselves can't be proved from within your belief system. Dealing with theological issues, therefore, seems to be a wasted effort.

James said...

Dr Mark writes: "Fascinating and irrational how atheists object more strongly to Calvinism than most"

Did I say I was an atheist? I consider myself a marginal Deist and skeptic, not a militant atheist.


Dr Mark continues: "Yet wrong implies a standard for right, a standard beyond the majority."

Really? John Calvin (who's considered a saint and a hero by many) justified and condoned his murders and his tortures. What standard was he appealing to? What understanding of "right" was he using when he burned other Christians at the stake or made their lives as unpleasant as he could? The link is above. Check it out.

I'm not suggesting Christianity provides NO standards or worthless standards, but they've not been as stable as Christians pretend they have been. Is slavery a moral evil? Depends who you ask and when you ask it. Look up Thornton Stringfellow who has provided a very solid Scriptural defense of slavery.

Is polygamy? Again, depends. I might remind you that the men of the Old Testament were held up as models of faith and conduct. Most of them had multiple wives. I know that some don't consider Mormons "Christians", but I do, considering they believe in Jesus (just not all the baggage that other Christians insist is intrinsic to Christianity). Fundamentalist Mormons still find no conflict between their faith and the practice of polygamy.

What about working on the Sabbath? Part of the moral law was refraining from ALL work upon penalty of death (not the civic or ceremonial law). In Numbers, a man was stoned to death for picking up sticks. Today, I doubt any Christian believes that physicians or law enforcement agents (or anyone else for that matter) is earning the Divine Wrath for working on Sunday, whether out of necessity or not.

****
There are some noble precepts in the Bible: all that stuff about forgiving and self-sacrifice and whatnot. It's a pity they're overshadowed by the more prominent passages promising death and everlasting torment to those whom God's had a bee in His bonnet about since before they were born.

Harry McCall said...

What Calvinism basically states is that the ONLY reason to preach and witness to the world is to let its people know whether they are eternally damned or eternally saved (among God’s elect).

Since there isn't anything a true Calvinist can do to change this fore-ordained state of salvation, the only use of preaching is to edify the elect of God.

My undergraduate study was done at a Wesleyan University where the Bible / ministerial students were about 50% Baptist Calvinists and the other 50% were Wesleyan- Methodist Arminians.

I have personally seen several ministerial students square off in a debate over which theology was true with Biblical references flying back and forth in a point / counter point attack.

I have personally seen tempers flare and hatred rain to the point where I told the Arminians that, during the debate, they had lost their salvation and to the Calvinist; they were never saved!

Player Piano said...

DrMark,

You are wrong. Really, really wrong. Let me explain.

You said:

"If naturalism is true, then no free will exists because it is biochemiclly predestined."

No, this is wrong.

You believe that free will is a black and white issue: either all of our choices are free, or none of them are. This is ridiculous and absurd as a dichotomy, because it does not correlate with our reality, and excludes many sensible alternatives.

Some of our choices are not free, but many of our choices are free. There is a continuum of free will, and our lives are neither entirely free nor entirely determined.

We are equipped with certain genetics, born at a certain time in a certain place, and we grow up under circumstances that are largely beyond our control.

However, we do have choices. We can choose to be ignorant about the world, or we can choose to open our minds and admit that we could be wrong about what we know.

Does a naturalistic outlook equate with complete determinism? No, that is a gross oversimplification. There are certainly factors beyond our control that influence our choices, but we still have choices we can make. If the calvinistic outlook is accurate, there are no choices we can make because all the choices have already been made for us.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

"All that anyone believes or does is exactly what God wants them to believe and do. So no, it's not the Bible that tells the Calvinist what God really wants. God's secret will is his real will. He really wants me to write these very words even though if we read the Bible he wants me to believe and to evangelize. But the truth is he wants me to do exactly what I am doing."

And there it is, in plain English; the conundrum I tried to avoid thinking of in my years as a Calvinist.

I had "answers", of course. "God foreknew everything we would do." (And chose to let us be born, anyhow? -- squelch that thought!) Or "We all have a choice, but without God's grace, we are unable to make the right choice." (So, it was still His will for us to make the wrong one, because He could have helped, but didn't? -- Shush, inner skeptic!)

A schitzophrenic (lay meaning) God makes for schitzophrenic followers.

Rev. Ouabache said...

Thank you for all of your posts about Calvinism. I've always had a very visceral reaction to Calvinism and it's (usually extremely arrogant) followers. You've put into words all of the reasons I'm opposed to it.

Perezoso said...

Calvinism has a certain bureaucratic-like logic, presuming that an omniscient, monotheistic G*d exists: G*d would by definition know all, and control all. Like a mad scientist, he built the robot, and knew what it would do, and knows the outcome. Sounds like premeditation, and Mass Murder 101--those conditions apply to any omnipotent, montheistic Being, however. Issue warrant ....and arrange court date.

That said, the anglo calvinists--d presbyterians, bapticks, etc.-- do not seem that similar to the cooler, swiss euro variety. More like english soldiers who wanted to off the frenchies (and irish for that matter) by any means necessary.

DrMark said...

James, thank-you for supporting my position that naturalism and free will cannot coexist. And thank-you for supporting my position that there is arguably a standard of right beyond our own determinations, whether individually or in majority by vote or social more. Clearly some mores do not fall into the category of the wrongness of say the Khmer Rouge tactic of banging babies against trees – let’s not confuse polygamy with that kind of thing. Your agreement to this is clear in your rhetorical question regarding obvious "wrongness" when you wrote, "What understanding of "right" was he using when he burned other Christians at the stake or made their lives as unpleasant as he could?" You have reiterated precisely my point as you obviously and rightly intimate his "wrongness." I don't recall calling you a militant atheist by the way. What you and I consider ourselves to be labeled has nothing to do with the arguments against the coexistence of naturalism and free will.
And to Player Piano, if you are going to argue for the coexistence of naturalism and free will, then you will have to argue against one of naturalism's greatest champions, Richard Dawkins, who said: "We are survival machines - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. … There is at the bottom of it all no good, no evil, no purpose, nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is and we dance to its music."
Like you, I believe in free will in some things and not in others; thus, like you, I believe in free will, for one single instance of such is all that is required for its existence. Therefore I must reject naturalism in order to be intellectually honest. Dawkins would agree because he is adamant about the inability for free will and naturalism to coexist.

mdf1960 said...

Question: Are there particular churches that follow Calvinism? If so, which ones?

Robert_B said...

DrMark Greetings and fond salutations.

You wrote: "Yet wrong implies a standard for right, a standard beyond the majority."

Here's some objective morality for ya.

"You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk." - EX. 34:26

Don't you ever cook any Stroganoff ever again. If you do, then its Numbers 25:4 for you and your Stroganoff eating buddys. :) ha-lol-ha :)

Player Piano said...

DrMark,

Atheism is not a religion.

I just wanted to throw that out there - because science is not my dogma and Dawkins is not my prophet.

While I obviously respect Dawkins' work in science, I disagree with his philosophical conclusions. While you or Dawkins may or may not be right, your argument from authority does not impress me.

I agree with you that a few things are subject to free will -- also, what Dawkins said does not obviously imply that he believes in an entirely deterministic worldview. Maybe he does -- but that quote doesn't show me. How do I know that you're not misrepresenting his words? Sometime I will try to read "The Selfish Gene". It sounds really intriguing.

Even if Dawkins does believe in complete determinism, I still do not believe that naturalism and partial determinism are incompatible. Honestly, if Dawkins believes such a thing, then I think he is just being silly. Of course, didn't Newton try to defend Biblical literalism? I'm not Newton and neither are you, but I think we realize that the Bible is not fully literal (I at least I hope we both recognize that). My point is, sometimes people who are very intelligent believe things that are not necessarily true or supported by evidence. Now, I am sure if Dawkins believes in complete determinism, he has good reasons for doing so, but I disagree all the same.

He could argue very well that most of our choices related to being a "survival machine" are deterministic, but many of our choices are not directly related to this. Besides, I still think you are possibly taking that quote out of context. However, if you are right, I still disagree with your interpretation of it (with Dawkins' interpretation.) There are many choices we make which are not directly attributable to the things which Dawkins lists as deterministic: if he cannot account for all the choices we make, how can he say that everything is deterministic?

I could be wrong about this, and I probably know much less about this than Dawkins or even you, but based on what I know now, the best conclusion I can come to is that our outcomes are only partially deterministic.

However, I don't see how this is incompatible with naturalism. To me, your statement that the two things are incompatible just seems like an obvious non sequitur. What do the two things have to do with one another, partial determinism and naturalism?

Also, how do you know that Dawkins isn't rejecting complete free will just in the way I am? Perhaps he would agree with my position, and perhaps you are conflating his opposition to complete free will with opposition to any semblance of free will? Yes, complete free will is at odds with naturalism, but I think Dawkins would probably make a differentiation between complete free will and partial, as I have.

pwoon said...

"Slavery is always wrong even in 1850's southern America or ancient Mideast. Anti-semetism is always wrong, even in Nazi Germany. The Inquisition is always wrong".

In our modern progressive world, those things are wrong. It wasn't wrong in those societies at the time they were occurring, by the people in the society. Are you trying to argue for absolute right and wrong? Doesn't exist. For the slaves, it was wrong, for the slave owners, it wasn't - at the time. Now, we see that it was wrong. Is homesexuality wrong? Some people in this society feel it is, some don't. If we could live another hundred years, you'll probably see that everyone (perhaps 99%) will say that it isn't.

Darrin said...

inb4 10,000 replies

Brother OMi said...

its funny i was telling my wife the same thing. one of her friends is a 5 point Calvinist. lol

Damien said...

To clear up the Dawkins thing, I would be greatly surprised to learn that he believes that the universe is completely deterministic, especially so, and not in spite of, the quote you provided. I know a little something about how Dawkins views biology and its relation with ethics and in a small way, free will.

When people make the argument against "Darwinists" that if evolution is true, then things like genocide, racism, and tribalism are morally permitted, Dawkins responds by saying that just because the forces of nature and our origins compell us in some ways to play dirty, human beings have a special quality that helps them to rise above and conquer their primitive nature.

So what he said in your quote is for the most part true. Nature has left us with a DNA recipe that isn't perfect and is inescapable, but just because it's always there, and you will always feel the subtle persuasion to dance to the music (sexual urges, hunger), you can still often put your foot down.

Logosfera said...

I'll take a calvinist over (almost) any type of christian any day. If a person tell you he is a calvinist you know you're in front a madman that would have no problem of crushing you like a bug if you tell him you're a nonbeliever, homosexual etc.
But the rest of the christians are not like that. They pretend they have good intentions when they actually look forward to the day they'll be laughing in heaven and smelling the roasting comming from "below".
If I were to compare christians with suicide bombers, calvinists would be the only kind that would not cover their strap-bombs and everybody will be able to see their intentions. You have to give them some credit for their transparency, John.
It would be great if they would wear "calvinist" tags.

Robin said...

"Calvinist theology goes against civility and love for one's neighbor (that is if the neighbor isn't another Calvinist or Christian). It calls upon them to hate people just as God hates people (i.e. unbelievers, "fags," adulterers, and so forth)."

Calvinists don't teach that at all. They teach that people have different kinds and degrees of love for people. A man does not love his wife the same way he loves another man's wife just as a woman has a special love for her children that she doesn't have for someone elses children. This is only right and proper.

They teach Christians to love everyone but they have a special love for God's children (their brothers ans sisters in Christ) just as God shows common grace to everyone but special grace to His children.

More could be said here but I'm out of time.

SE said...

Hmmm, James, marginal Deist and skeptic. I'm beginning to think that describes me best as well. Of course, under my definition of atheist, I guess I still am one (lack of belief in the god of classical theism or lack of certainty regarding the existence of any gods). I still don't believe there is any evidence that can convince a doubter that even the deistic god exists, though. As far as Calvinism goes, it's a child's theology, and Christians should put away childish things. And of course, it's evil.

James said...

Dr Mark writes: "thank-you for supporting my position that there is arguably a standard of right beyond our own determinations, whether individually or in majority by vote or social more."

Maybe, maybe not. In my opinion, Christians could stand to be a little more humble in terms of the potential for knowing that objective standard. That was my point.

As I've said, John Calvin believed he was acting according to that standard when he ordered the torture and death of dozens of people.

Many Americans believed they were acting in line with that "objective standard" when they forcefully brought men from other nations to act as their domestic help.

The Christian attitude seems to be "We're 100% right in terms of this issue and what GOD thinks is right. Ask us again in 50 years when some contrary behavior is the norm and we'll be right then, too."

Did you ever see the movie "Doubt"? If you haven't, you should. Religious faith tempered by doubt and humility CAN be a good thing. Dogmatic certainty is just hubris and is, IMO, unwarranted given what we as humans are capable of experiencing in life.

I can only act AS IF something is true. I will drive home from work tomorrow AS IF my house is still intact. Of course, it could have gone up in flames when I was away. I don't know it until I arrive, and I'm always aware of the possibility my actions and beliefs will not be inline with reality.

Andre said...

I didn't have any clue as to what Calvinism was until I found this site last year. I still don't know much about it, except what I get from these posts, and don't wish to, as I outright reject it, and refuse to believe in such teachings. But growing up as a Seventh Day Adventist, I always thought that all of Christianity had these basic Calvinistic beliefs. I was taught that God knew if I was going to heaven even before I was born. At least that's what my mother told me, and I asked her, but doesn't that mean that in the meantime, I could do whatever I want, and if I was to go to heaven, then nothing can change that? I was told not really, I still had to have faith and do good. That answer never did sit well with me for what I would think were/are obvious reasons, but apparently it isn't that obvious. However, when I eventually lost my faith in God, I rested my conscience on that fact of God. I thought if I didn't make it to heaven, then I wasn't meant to anyway. I couldn't lose.

Such beliefs led me to believe things like, if I were to walk late at night in a dangerous area that there's no way I would be killed if it wasn't in God's foreknowledge. In a more personal issue in my life right now, my wife at this moment, is not ready to have kids, and doesn't want to go on the pills again, so she worries about getting pregnant. Her being a believer, I can't help but testing her beliefs by asking her that if she were to get pregnant, wouldn't that mean that it was meant to be because God knew it, and what he knows must come to pass.

To me this is telling when we think about God's foreknowledge compared to free will. Either me and my wife really and truly can and will decide on our own when to have a child, (also depending on fertility)or it will only happen when God knows it will. But God cannot know this if we really have the free will to what we would call, accidentally causing a pregnancy. If this is not the case, then every child that has ever been conceived had to be, since God knew, no matter the situation or circumstances. So which is it?

Joe E. Holman said...

John, you know that no one hates Christupidity more than I do, but let me add to your comments...

YOU SAID: "But the bottom line for Calvinism is that if God has a secret behind-the-scenes will which no human being is privy too, then Calvinism commits the Calvinist to agnosticism. You see, it's not the Bible that tells the Calvinist what God wants them to believe or to do. No siree, Bob. The Bible is merely a divine aide to get believers to believe and do what God wants. God doesn't even need the Bible because he can equally get non-believers to believe and do what he wants. All that anyone believes or does is exactly what God wants them to believe and do. So no, it's not the Bible that tells the Calvinist what God really wants. God's secret will is his real will. He really wants me to write these very words even though if we read the Bible he wants me to believe and to evangelize. But the truth is he wants me to do exactly what I am doing. I am doing God's will right now, his secret real will! Praise Jesus! Hallelujah! I cannot do differently if I try. I could not even desire to do differently even if I try."

MY REPLY: I don't see a problem with the revealed will of God to God's people and insights that spoke of destiny and things to come, and a "this is what you should do" spoken or written will of God. Now the way the God of the Bible does things (like this) is quite stupid, but it has a parallel for Calvinists, I think. For Calvinists, It corresponds to the Bible being a message of the future and God's will for the fate of souls, and at the same time, tells them to evangelize and to bring in more souls; for instance, those that heard the "repent and be baptized" part and responded to it were apart of that elect all along and we just didn't know it (as in the parable of the wheat and tares, Matthew 13:24-30).

Yes, God wants you and I to keep preaching atheism, but only for the same reason he wanted to raise up Pharaoh in rebellion to showcase his own winning power (Exodus 9:17). That's the sick and egomaniacal conclusion, but it's not logistically problematic, and it's no different from Jesus saying of Judas "Of them, I have lost none, save the son of perdition, that the scripture may be fulfilled" (Matthew 11:27). God needed and wanted Judas to burn. It was predestined. And God says he wants some to go to hell (Proverbs 16:4; Jude 4,13).


YOU SAID: All of this means that Calvinists cannot trust the Bible. That's right. They cannot trust that what the Bible tells them to believe or do is what God actually wants them to believe and to do. Calvinism leads to agnosticism, a complete and utter agnosticism about what pleases their God. Calvinism also makes God a liar, despite the fact that Bible says God does not lie. Why? Because he tells us one thing in the Bible and then behind the scenes secretly wants us to do otherwise. As far as God's real secretive will goes, the Calvinist doesn't even know whether or not God is actually pleased with nonbelievers. Wouldn't that be a surprise to Calvinists to find that the people God was secretively pleased with are people like me, and that it is they who will be cast into hell while I and other non-believers are brought into heaven? ;-)

MY REPLY: I'd say no. The Bible can't be trusted because when it is studied, it is found to be a collection of unsupported myths of a bizarre Jewish heresy long ago, but not because of a dual will. Though I see why you have a problem with it, I just don't see a contradiction between a spook having a providential will and a written will. Our problem with theism should be with ALL theism in that the god of free will apologists and the god of calvinists is the same monster who condemns those who could do no differently; they all tolerate evil and make "plans" for their own glory at the expense of our suffering when they could have prevented it, and we are all equally powerless to see the end from the beginning. The predestination factor is really just a dead horse dispute that doesn't make a difference.

YOU SAID: Calvinism is quite literally bullshit, and God wanted me to say this!

MY REPLY: Yep, God did want you to say that, if what theism says is true! I'll second it! :-)

(JH)

Perezoso said...

"Calvinist theology goes against civility and love for one's neighbor (that is if the neighbor isn't another Calvinist or Christian).

That seems to have been my experience as well: either you are a calvinist (which includes most protestants) , and are part of the Elect, OR, you are not a calvinist, and.....uno pedazo de mierda. (See the Triablogue SS for examples). The papist zombies going out for the sacred triscuit are not quite so dangerous (not sure about jewish or muslims---), at least if you don't leave yr kids with the paddies.......

For that matter, next to the Witnesses most bible-sales people tend to be bapticks: tho' a few mormonics around CA, pedaling for King Brigham...

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hi all,

Wow there is some emotion here.

I just have one question to throw in the mix.

John, why, in all your posts about Calvin, do you fail to quote him?

The problems that offend you may in fact be Hyper-Calvinism or just something people have labeled as Calvinism!

I think if you hate Calvinism then you will need to deal with all of his statements regarding particular topics and back them up with quotes. Otherwise I'm not really sure what you think is bad or not.

Regards, Rev. Phil.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rev,
that goes back to misinterpretation doesn't it?
Its kind of like god a pistol to a bunch of monkeys and hoped for the best isn't it?

What is the payoff god is hoping for? That everyone should be saved right? So he bets it all on the capabilities of human beings that he knows are defective?

Do I have a misconception here?

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hey Lee,

Good stuff Lee, I like your humor. ;-)

No I don't think that is the payoff or what Calvin says God thinks the payoff is!

What part of Calvin did you get that from?

Regards, Rev. Phil.

By the By. I have nearly finished my post about your IDQ, look for it in the next couple of days.

Valentin Talos said...

Well, gee, Johny, I'm glad You think that way, but, uhm, when I tried presenting a different, non-Calvinist understanding, the answers I got in return were:

"Wow Lvka, your source sounds like Harry and Lee! [...] Too bad the rest is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. He seems to get the nub of the problem pretty effectively, he just has no solution except to say that God is light or somesuch nonsense."

"Ahh, yes! More preachy orthodox crap! *rolls eyes*".

"The fact is, God made souls to exist so as to cause those who rejected him to suffer for eternity. That's just as if he had actually built a place of suffering for that purpose. Distinction without a difference on your part." -- this last comment was made not to me directly but to someone presenting a similar view.

So, ... what will "do" for You guys? Hmmm? :-\ I'm just curious...

Lee Randolph said...

HI Rev,
I hope you did your homework.
;-)

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hi Lee,

Me Too :-)

Phil

Steph A said...

Brilliant until the very end. Why does nobody use the word "literally" correctly anymore?

DrMark said...

Quantum theory posits that subatomic particles can actually hold two contrary states at the same time—can occupy two positions, or spin in opposing directions—until the moment they are observed (i.e., measured), at which time they are said to "collapse" in a fixed position.In quantum theory, we are forced to accept the reality of paradox. We see a fleeting image of the paradox that has always resided at the heart of revealed truth: the apparent contradictions that haunt the Christian faith. How can God be three persons in one unity? How can Christ be fully divine and fully human at the same time? How can God be good and yet allow evil? How can free human choices work out in God's foreknowledge of history ina dnout of our 4 dimensional reality of space and time? And how can I suffer in this world through circumstances clearly opposed to God's loving and good nature, yet be confident that all is working together for good? We are forced to accept paradox in the observations and "non-observations" of quantum reality, yet we are too arrogant to embrace their possibilities form the creator of those phenomena. Pride does indeed go first.
"He [Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17). Do we grasp the dimensions of that statement? Not only did Christ once create, He also continually re-creates. How can a universe composed of zillions of uncertain particles cohere into any sort of unity at all? Because He never stops observing it. Christ is the determination of infinite ambiguity; Christ is the measure of every seeming paradox. "In Him all things hold together"—all possibilities collapse, and nature finds its true and final shape.
Thanks to Stephen...

Steven said...

DrMark,

People love drawing parallels between weird stuff in quantum theory and religion. The only problem is that those of us who have studied quantum theory find that such comparisons all too often mischaracterize quantum theory to the point that its use completely undermines your point. For example, the superposition of quantum states is something that is well understood and arises naturally from wave function evolution. In other words, this isn't a "paradox" that we are forced to accept, it's something that is understood. On shakier ground is the concept of the collapse of the wavefunction, and why the different possible states come up the way they do, but this isn't paradoxical, it's just something that quantum theory hasn't provided an answer for.

In other words, we actually have a good rationale for holding many of the weird things in quantum mechanics, but this is because we have empirical evidence and some mathematics to go with it, that shows that these things aren't nearly as strange as they first appear and they also form a coherent picture even if we don't have all the details.

Your concept of god does not have these traits, and as such, it must be subjected to much closer scrutiny due to this lack of reliability.

Deist Dan said...

Robin said

"Calvinists don't teach that at all. They teach that people have different kinds and degrees of love for people. A man does not love his wife the same way he loves another man's wife just as a woman has a special love for her children that she doesn't have for someone elses children. This is only right and proper."

People that make claims like this are either dishonest or stupid. The calvinist god doesn't simply love the elect more than the non-elect, he hates the non-elect and predestined them to commit sins so he can punish them in hell forever for his glory.

As one arminian writing against calvinism titled his book: what love is this?

Andre said...

Come to think of it, Jesus is included in my "every child that has ever been conceived" statement. With God's foreknowledge, and if Jesus's mother Mary had to be a virgin, as in, "touched for the very first time," then this means her free will was taken away. God kept her for himself and kept Joseph away from her also.

DrMark said...

Steven - Thanks and I quite agree that comparisons all too often mischaracterize quantum theory; but "all to often" from wrong sources shouldn't remove critical doubt. Try reading some J. Polkinghorne, whose knowledge and expertise in these areas far exceeds "those of us who have studied quantum theory." To many experts, he IS contemporary quantum particle physics. Then phrases like "it's just something that quantum theory hasn't provided an answer for" and "even if we don't have all the details" might not be easy bypasses and may well take on a fresh meaning without presuppositional prejudice. Such details might well include apparent presuppositions on my "concept of god," though benefit of the doubt would suggest that you likely have somewhat of an idea about that - lol.
By they way, the one I thanked at the end of my last blog was Stephen Barr, a theoretical particle physicist at the Bartol Research Institute of the University of Delaware. He holds the same views as that last blog expressed. He is another like Polkinghorne who is among the few whose expertise surpasses "those of us who have studied quantum theory." You might emjoy some of his work as well as Polkinghorne's.
Enjoyed your comments and insight. Thanks.

DrMark said...

Steven - Thanks and I quite agree that comparisons all too often mischaracterize quantum theory; but "all to often" from wrong sources shouldn't remove critical doubt. Try reading some J. Polkinghorne, whose knowledge and expertise in these areas far exceeds "those of us who have studied quantum theory." To many experts, he IS contemporary quantum particle physics. Then phrases like "it's just something that quantum theory hasn't provided an answer for" and "even if we don't have all the details" might not be easy bypasses and may well take on a fresh meaning without presuppositional prejudice. Such details might well include apparent presuppositions on my "concept of god," though benefit of the doubt would suggest that you likely have somewhat of an idea about that - lol.
By they way, the one I thanked at the end of my last blog was Stephen Barr, a theoretical particle physicist at the Bartol Research Institute of the University of Delaware. He holds the same views as that last blog expressed. He is another like Polkinghorne who is among the few whose expertise surpasses "those of us who have studied quantum theory." You might emjoy some of his work as well as Polkinghorne's.
Enjoyed your comments and insight. Thanks.

Steven said...

DrMark,

I'm well acquainted with Dr. Polkinghorne's work. In short, he's a good physicist, but a poor philosopher, which isn't all that surprising. Most people with a cursory knowledge of the philosophy of science can spot the flaws in his ideas. The thing that surprises and dismays me is that science curricula never require scientists to actually study the philosophy of science. I had the take the initiative myself to do it as part of my physics degree, and I was literally the only science major in my class at the time.

In short, scientists make bad philosophers because they don't study the subject enough, and the result is that we get people like Ken Miller, John Polkinghorne, Mike Behe, and others. They're people who wind up shooting their mouth off without really knowing what their talking about. I admit that my experience on the subject is limited, but I know enough to be able to tell when these folks have crossed the line from reason to conjecture to outright wishful thinking.

To put it another way, Polkinghorne's non-scientific musings on faith and quantum theory are not accepted within the scientific community nor are they all that relevant to it. Polkinghorne is a great physicist, and I have a lot of respect for his work, but that doesn't mean that everything that he has done or said is gospel.

Robin said...

"People that make claims like this are either dishonest or stupid. The calvinist god doesn't simply love the elect more than the non-elect, he hates the non-elect and predestined them to commit sins so he can punish them in hell forever for his glory.

As one arminian writing against calvinism titled his book: what love is this?"


Read the debate between James White and Dave Hunt in the book:

"Debating Calvinism"

It's the chapters on Omnibenevolence.

Robin said...

"No matter how often Arminian tradition repeats it's mantralike chant that God is not free to love a particular people redemptively, the Bible is plain on the matter. God loved Israel with an undeserved love that He did not show to any other people. And the love God has for His own people, the elect, is different than the love He shows to the creation in general or to rebel sinners outside His grace in particular."

James White

Debating Calvinism page 268

James White clearly says here that God shows love towards His creation in general as well as to the reprobate but it's not the same as the love He showed Israel or the love He shows His elect.

Deist Dan said...

Robin,

Instead of referring to a book to respond to the claims made against calvinism, maybe you could do so yourself...

James said it well...

"Calvinists HATE it when people don't use flowery language to describe their theology: it makes them look like the sh*theads they really are."

Calvinists subconsciously understand their religion is idiotic and immoral so they try to package it in their special terminology to convince the "elect" to keep believing in it. The only people that think calvinism is reasonable are the people who think they are elect, and born with a one way ticket to heaven. How convenient.

The reality is that calvinism teaches that the only reason people commit sins is because the calvinist god willed them to, so he can then punish them for eternity for his own ego-maniacal glory.

Calvinist have no right to complain about anything because if they do they are complaining against their god's eternal decrees. Satan gets turned into a faithful doer of the will of the calvinist god and murderers and child molesters can take delight in their work knowing they are carrying out the will of god.

The calvinist metaphors ring hollow. Yes a person loves their children more than other people's children, BUT they also will care for, help, and protect other people's children. People generally do not cause evil things to happen to other people's children.

The same cannot be said for the calvinist god. Calvinists try to portray their god as graciously intervening to save a few totally depraved sinners while simply leaving the rest to carry out the course of destruction they chose for themselves. They say, god needn't intervene to save anyone, god had no obligation, no moral responsibility to do anything.

This is idiocy because their god eternally decreed whatsoever comes to pass according to his will only according to calvinist theology. Making the calvinist god's will the sole reason that any evil takes place.

Robin said...

"This is idiocy because their god eternally decreed whatsoever comes to pass according to his will only according to calvinist theology. Making the calvinist god's will the sole reason that any evil takes place."


To understand the Reformed view of the matter we must pay close attention to the crucial distinction between positive and negative decrees of God. Positive has to do with God's active intervention in the hearts of the elect. Negative has to do with God's passing over the non-elect.

The reformed view teaches that God positively or actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to ensure their salvation. The rest of mankind God leaves to themselves. He does not create unbelief in their hearts. That unbelief is already there. He does not coerce them to sin. They sin by their own choices. In the Calvinist view the decree of election is positive; the decree of reprobation is negative.

Hyper-Calvinism's view of double predestination may be called positive-positive predestination. Orthodox Calvinism's view may be called positive-negative.

The dreadful error of hyper-Calvinism is that it involves God coercing sin. This does radical violence to the integrity of God's character.

R.C. Sproul "Chosen by God" pp. 142-143


As for God showing common grace to everybody:

To understand it properly we must first look briefly at another concept, God's common grace. This refers to the grace of God that all men commonly enjoy. The rain that refreshes the earth and waters our crops falls upon the just and the unjust alike. The unjust certainly do not deserve such benefits, but they enjoy them anyway. So it is with sunshine and rainbows. Our world is a theatre of common grace.


All that God has to do to harden people's hearts is to remove the restraints. He gives them a longer leash. Rather than restricting their human freedom, He increases it. He lets them have their own way....He merely removes His holy hand of restraint from them and lets them do their own will....One group recieves mercy the other group recieves justice.

R.C. Sproul "Chosen By God" pp. 145-148.


Commenting on "hated"

One recieved the blessing of God and one did not. One recieved a special portion of the love of God, and the other did not....The divine "hatred" mentioned here is not an expression of an insidious attitude of malice....divine hatred is not malice. It involves withholding of favor.

R.C. Sproul "Chosen By God" p. 149

Robin said...

Also,

The God of calvinism isn't on an ego trip. Pride thinks of itself and loves itself more highly than it ought to. God doesn't do this. God's loving Himself and thinking of Himself is in direct proportion to He is. The most glorious of all beings. He's perfect and He thinks of Himself as such. I'm not perfect or all knowing. For me to think so leads to pride and arrogance. I would be thinking of myself more highly than I ought to. This isn't so with God. He loves Himself above all because He is infinitely glorious.

For me to do this is pride and arrogance. For God to do it is the essence of righteousness. He doesn't think of Himself more highly than He ought to. He's not egotistical.

Robin said...

God is all-knowing and I'm not
God is self-sufficient and I'm not
God is all-powerful and I'm not
God is perfect and I'm not
God is the Creator and I'm not

There's a God and I'm not it.

Alfred J Nag said...

I wants me some of that "total depravity," please!

Princess Bree said...

I am a Calvinist and I could go on and on about this post, but I only want to say two things in response to two sentences of yours.

1. "It calls upon them to hate people just as God hates people."
-- Funny, I don't hate people, or at least, I try not to. And besides, don't many people across the world (non-Calvinists included) hate people, too?

2. "How can any intelligent person accept this complete and utter nonsense?"
-- So now my religion automatically makes me stupid? I guess it doesn't even matter that I attended Oxford University and received a 4.0. I shouldn't have even gone to school, apparently, because my intelligence is so base and infantile that I'm incapable of understanding anything besides nonsensical Calvinism.

It's like calling someone dirty just because they're a Mexican.

Neal said...

Princess Bree - "I guess it doesn't even matter that I attended Oxford University and received a 4.0"

Which Oxford University would that be? I assume it's not the Oxford in the UK, since the grades awarded there are 1st, upper 2nd, lower 2nd and 3rd class degrees...
A minor quibble, and if I've misinterpreted your comment, I apologise.
However, criticising someone because of their religious beliefs is not the same as criticising someone because of their ethnicity or nationality, as you suggest. Someone's religious beliefs, or lack thereof, are a personal choice. You are free to follow any religion you choose, or none. You do not get to choose your ethnicity or nationality (or your sexual orientation for that matter...). If you choose to believe something which others see as stupid, it's their right to call it stupid. Get over it.

DrMark said...

Princess, I do suggest a chill-out for you. Have fun at this site or don't do it. Remember Christ said that because the world hated Him, it would hate His followers also (hate of course meaning the full spectrum from rejection to ridicule to outright persecution - and now that will generate a lot about how Christians hate, so brace yourself but ... have fun). Don't expect congeniality toward Christ or your faith here and if it comes, enjoy it. It's our job to witness, just share what we know as witnesses on a stand are supposed to do. I know you care but don't take insult. Just enjoy the dialogue and then trust.

Hey Stephen - gotta love it. You go from "those of us who have studied quantum theory find that such comparisons all too often mischaracterize quantum theory" to calling the man most qualified to properly characterize quantum theory "a poor philosopher."
Care for some pretzels with the logic dip?
I do agree with you about philosophy of science courses. I did not get a decent course in such in my 20 years as a scientist; but I finally did only when I encompassed graduate work in theology and philosophy! Go figure, huh?

Neal, when I did my graduate work at Oxford, UK, I received alpha and betas with +, ? (query), and - clarities. Thinking it correlates to the firsts, seconds, etc. Just an FYI.

An Apostate said...

DrMark,
Until you can provide the slightest bit of verifiable, testable evidence that your god exists at all, your ramblings are mere mental masturbation.

DrMark said...

Thanks for that great example to Princess, An Apostate (sorry you got hurt).
Anyway: So one computer said to the other, "Don't be ridiculous. We weren't manufactured by humans. We are the highest power we know. Now, let's create a Terminator to prove it."

Steven said...

Uh DrMark, you're equivocating. Polkinghorne is a physicist, not a philosopher. And as I said, Polkinghorne's philosophical musings on what quantum theory "means" aren't anymore relevant to the true nature of the universe (and by extension, us) than those of anyone else, unless he can back them up empirically at some minimal level.

I'm not saying that he doesn't have any insight, I just don't think it amounts to much unless he can show that his ideas are more plausible than the ideas of others', which he can't do.

DrMark said...

Steven,
Just curious for my own FYI (I am not into baiting and traps, etc.): Do you consider yourself a physicist and not a philosopher?
I do think it is reasonable for scientists to engage in love of wisdom and for philosophers to engage in science and certainly philosophy and ethics of science - hopefully on more than a majoritive basis - lest we get Hitler's SuperMan or the children of Sartre - Khmer Rouge - or dictatorially politicized Christianity - Inquisition, or radical Isalm - terrorism (thank God (or ammonia gas) not yet majoritive but moving in that direction).

Princess Bree said...

DrMark,
I wasn't expecting any sort of congeniality from this site. What I didn't expect was being treated as though I deserve no respect (Neal's "get over it" was rather rude).

I actually just wanted to bring up some valid questions from my perspective. I find it odd that no one responded fully and logically to my first inquiry. If you all think Calvinism is ridiculous because it "tells" us to hate people, I wanted to get your opinions as to why that's any different from non-Calvinists or non-Christians hating people, too. It's a poor argument to say that "because they are told to hate people Calvinists are ridiculous and stupid." Then are the non-Calvinists or non-Christians who hate people also ridiculous and stupid?

And I don't want the argument back that we choose to believe Calvinism and therefore we agree to hate people. I know many people who believe some one is evil and actively choose to hate that person. Many people choose to hate other people. It's the same concept, only without the religious aspect.

Neal,
I was indeed talking about Oxford University. I got a 4.0 because that's how my degree-grade transferred to my American college. Sorry about not clarifying.

And that's fine if you have a right to call me stupid because you think I'm stupid for believing what I do. But I can come back with that exact argument: I can call you stupid if I think what you do, say, or believe is stupid. For example, I could say: "I think you're stupid for not believing God," "I think you're stupid for saying 'get over it,'" etc. That argument doesn't hold much ground.

Although does anyone really want to discuss things in-depth with Christians on this blog, or do you all just want to make fun of us?

I'm honestly looking for some good discussion and respectful information from both sides.

J. K. Jones said...

Princess Bree,

Keep the faith.

Robin said...

And according to Philip R. Johnson (the Calvinist) Hyper-Calvinism (not orthodox Calvinism) teaches:

1. The denial of common grace.

The Protestant Reformed Churches (see #3 above) grew out of a controversy between Herman Hoeksema and the Christian Reformed Churches over the issue of common grace. Hoeksema denied that there is any such thing as common grace, and in the midst of the controversy, the PRC was founded.
The idea of common grace is implicit throughout Scripture. "The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works" (Ps. 145:9). "He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Deut. 10:18-19). "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:44-45).
The distinction between common grace and special grace closely parallels the distinction between the general call and the effectual call. Common grace is extended to everyone. It is God's goodness to humanity in general whereby God graciously restrains the full expression of sin and mitigates sin's destructive effects in human society. Common grace imposes moral constraints on people's behavior, maintains a semblance of order in human affairs, enforces a sense of right and wrong through conscience and civil government, enables men and women to appreciate beauty and goodness, and imparts blessings of all kinds to elect and non-elect alike. God "causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matt. 5:45). That is common grace.
The doctrine of common grace has a long history that goes all the way back to Calvin and even Augustine. But type-4 hyper-Calvinism denies the concept, insisting that God has no true goodwill toward the non-elect and therefore shows them no favor or "grace" of any kind.




2. The denial of God's love toward the reprobate.

Type-5 hyper-Calvinism is closely related to type-4. To deny that God in any sense loves the reprobate is to suggest that God holds us to a higher standard than He himself follows, for he instructs us to love our enemies—and Scripture teaches that when we love our enemies, we are behaving like God, who shows lovingkindness even to the reprobate (Deut. 10:18; Matt. 5:44-45).
Furthermore, to insist that God's demeanor toward the non-elect is always and only hatred is a de facto denial of common grace—the same error of type-4 hyper-Calvinism.
There are some who hold this view, yet manage (by being inconsistent) to avoid other hyper-Calvinist opinions. The most influential advocate of the type-5 position was Arthur Pink. I hesitate to label him a hyper-Calvinist, frankly, because he fought the stronger varieties of hyper-Calvinism in his later years. A few other Puritan and mainstream Reformed theologians have also denied the love of God to the reprobate. They are a distinct minority, but they nonetheless have held this view. It's a hyper-Calvinistic tendency, but not all who hold the view are hyper-Calvinists in any other respect.
This error stems from a failure to differentiate between God's redemptive love, which is reserved for the elect alone, and His love of compassion, which is expressed in the goodness He shows to all His creatures (cf. Matt. 5:44-45; Acts 14:17). For an excellent antidote to the notion that God loves no one but the elect, see R. L. Dabney's superb article, "God's Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy."

Deist Dan said...

Robin,Princess Bree and other calvinists,

First of all it's important to realize that calvinism doesn't come purely from the bible because there are a number of biblical passages directly contradicting it.

Passages like...

John 3:16,17

1tim 2:4,6

1tim 4:10

luk 2:10

rom 10:9,13

1john 2:2

1john 4:8

I can go on, but calvinism cannot be true with these passages being true at the same time. So calvinism exposes internal contradictions within the bible.

Calvinism not only has biblical problems but it doesn't even pass the smell test.

The idea that God predestined/decreed everything according to the counsel of his will (as articulated in the westminster confession)means he is responsible for every evil act ever committed. Everything happens because he willed it into existence, this is the unavoidable conclusion whether you want to accept it or not.

Robin starts talking about positive and negative decrees, again showing the desperation of calvinists. So God decreed (commanded) to allow people to commit sins? Which is it, did he command it or allow it? Calvinists tend to resort to arminian terminology when they get pinned down.

Calvinists don't believed God ALLOWED anything! He commanded/decreed everything according to his will.

Listen to what the westminster confession says about your god's decrees

Chapter 3

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; (here comes the double speak) yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. (nothing happens by free will)

III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death. (For his glory some are born damned to hell with no hope)

IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. (they cannot do a damn thing about it)

This is calvinist doctrine, and this is totally unfair and unjust.

If you want to believe in a immoral and unjust god thats fine, but don't preach about a loving, good, gracious, merciful god then.

DrMark said...

Princess Bree,

Like JK Jones said, "Keep the faith." I meant to encourage. When the dialogue collapses to calling your position stupid or to say certain considerations are "mental masturbation" as 'An Apostate' crushed me to the floor with such flawless logic - lol - I only wanted to encourage you what the Lord of the universe says would happen when nerves are touched by a brush with Truth. I do understand the frustration of the hypocrisy of functioning in a blog entitled Debunking Christianity and then avoiding serious dialogue with Christians; but on and all many atheists, Deists, and agnostics on this blog do want to engage without being disrespectful. There are obnoxious ones to be sure; but, unfortunately, we hear some of the same junk from our own brothers and sisters. Hang in there.
On the Calvinist thing, I have kind of landed on God having full foreknowledge and also full sovereignty to choose (a constant state for Him from everlasting to everlasting since He is unchanging) what we would see as sovereign intervention through action or inaction. Remember naturalists will not embrace the concept of undeserved rescue (even though that is what evolution is through morphing stuff), so your position is going to appear "unfair and cruel" even though such a judgment dictates a standard-bearer.
I know the concepts of the coexistence of free will and sovereignty, three persons one God, decretive and preceptive will, etc., are tough for most Christians, so how much moreso will there be difficulty for those whose starting point is naturalism or the absence of an infinite / personal God. Love and grace and patience ... huh?

R O'Brien said...

"Oh, by the way, here's a CHRISTIAN post about John Calvin and some of his "hobbies". He was an unrepentant murderous, torturing thug, basically. There was much more to the his life than just the Servetus incident."

I do not care for Calvin as a person but that has no bearing on whether his theology is correct.

Anyway, I do not accept five-point Calvinism* but the four-point Calvinism of Moses Amyraut is appealing.

*I'm not sure that Calvin himself advocated five-point Calvinism.

Steven said...

DrMark,

I consider myself a physicist suffering with a love/hate relationship with philosophy. ;)

I recognize the importance philosophy, but at the same time, I also find that philosophy has an annoying tendency to become disconnected from reality. And I get irritated with that, even when I find the subject interesting.

DrMark said...

Steven,

My guess is you accept that reality has no higher purpose other than itself anyway; so you may as well enjoy philosophy while you are here and maybe that perspetive will make it less irritating. No need to get irritated about something that has no personal eternal importance, even though I know I am making a value judgment against being irritated and for enjoyment. So enjoy ... glad to be of help and comfort - lol.

Steven said...

DrMark,

You're making an awful lot of presumptions and extrapolations about what I think, and by and large you're wrong. But then again, as with most theists your religion keeps you from seeing the world from different perspectives (and of course, you'll turn around and accuse me of the same thing, although, again, you'd be wrong to do so).

The reason I think philosophy is worthwhile is because it is important to do the best we can to understand the world we live in and philosophy is an inescapable part of that, regardless of the bits that I personally find irritating. Having such an understanding transcends my own limited time here as it impacts the way that I interact with the world around me, the people I know, my children, and ultimately, the future. Regardless of whether or not there is a man behind the curtain.

I am not nearly as short sighted as you are attempting to imply.

DrMark said...

Steven,

Okay. That's why I added "personal" meaning that ultimately, truly ultimately, when your children and mine and all children's children's children are ultimately dead and gone and the whole universe finshes its current course toward entropy death, my understanding of the non-theistic view is that it ULTIMATELY will not matter on a personal level. No insult to your depth intended.

Gandolf said...

Wow ! i almost smell the roasting of human flesh.Please somebody tell me!,has hell arrived here on earth?

I never knew much about Calvinism before but it seems its a bit like Idi Amin`ism .

Oh dear im really shocked,by this eye opening experience John Loftus.But thanks because these things need to be known.

DrMark said...

Is my understanding as stated in the last blog regarding the non-theistic view regarding ULTIMATE irrelevance accurate or can someone enlighten me?

BTW, I am not a hyper-Calvinist, as if that might be of interest. I agree there was a lot of male cow poop espoused; but I also know a lot of Calvinists and, with some exceptions, most are really decent people who share and care even if the presentation of their doctrine appears so cold - like I said - a lot of male cow poop.
For me, I know I would have to be a cold-hearted jerk to believe what I believe and not share it.
I appreciate this blog - a lot of people giving a lot of thought - clearly intimating an understanding of the importance.

Sean said...

I am neither a "Calvinist" nor an "Arminianist" but, rather, a "Christian Universalist." In commenting on this post and the issue of "free will" however, I will quote, not from the Holy Bible, but from India's most famous spiritual and philosophical classic, the Bhagavad-Gita:

"O Arjuna, the Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings, whirling by maya all beings as if on machines mounted." - Gita Bhashya, XVIII.61 -

As regards "free will" or "volitional autonomy" consider that the energy of an electromagnetic "particle" (photon) is measured in terms of its frequency, or wavelength. But the mathematics shows that they couldn't be real waves in space, like ripples on a lake's surface, but rather represent a complex form of vibrations in a mathematical-holographic space dubbed "phase space." But -- and here's the rub that many will find unacceptable -- this necessitates the agency of an "External Chooser" (God) operating out of a holographic core-space of each being. The same object appears in your consciousness and mine because the "External Chooser" (God) projects informational-energetic pulses from within our core-space which manifest as objects and scenarios upon the "screen" of our 4-D awareness. This is not to suggest that the universe is merely a "mirage." "Free will" is, however, a convincing illusion.

e said...

"Wouldn't that be a surprise to Calvinists to find that the people God was secretively pleased with are people like me, and that it is they who will be cast into hell while I and other non-believers are brought into heaven? ;-)"

It is doesn't sound like nonsense to me. What if the serpent was the good guy?

Rob R said...

FYI, the best criticism against theological determinism, that is if that determinism is also not universalism (such as some have argued about Barth), Thomas Talbott has written an essay that is second to none demonstrating that it is impossible to follow the two greatest commandments and hold to the doctrine of reprobation (the view that damnation of specific individuals is inevitable either because God ordained it directly, or merely witheld the grace that is necessary for repentence(not that I consider those different but I suppose some do)).