The Perpetual Miracle Objection

When it comes to the problem of evil, in my book I mention the possibility of perpetual miracles from God that alleviate suffering among God's creatures. I call it the Perpetual Miracle Objection. David Hume didn't use this exact phrase when he objected that the ordering of the world by general natural laws "seems nowise necessary" for God, but it's the same concept.

I was wondering if there is an essay or chapter that I may have missed in my reading on the perpetual miracle objection. The only thing I've seen questioned is whether a conceptual possibility can be a metaphysical possibility (ala William P. Alston). I countered Alston's argument in my book by arguing that vegetarianism is indeed a metaphysical possibility since we find instances of this in the natural world. If all creatures were vegetarian this would save God's creatures from an immense amount of suffering, you see. And since God could do perpetual miracles to make his creatures vegetarians but didn't do this, then God is not perfectly good. I deal with other objections too, of course.

I'm just curious. I haven't seen in my reading someone who raises this problem the way I do with the exact phrase "perpetual miracle(s)." Have you? If not, then I have the right to name it what I just did.

First Posted in May 2009

57 comments:

feeno said...

Loftus, enough is enough. You've finally crossed the line. You can make fun of us Christians and our Bibles and even blaspheme the Lord's name, but are you suggesting I can no longer eat steak. You are a sicko.

You and your Atheist buddies can all go out and eat broccoli and salads,
As for me and my house, Outback tonight.

Late, feeno

John W. Loftus said...

Feeno, funny, but whether or not you eat meat now doesn't change the fact that God could've made all his creatures vegetarians. I have a cat. It's ugly to see him play with a mouse until it dies. He has claws. There are many instances of this in the natural world from polar bears ("killing machines") to wolves, sharks, orca, lions, and even spiders, scorpions and snakes. Nature is indeed red with blood, having carnivorous teeth and sharp claws.

Chris W said...

[To the tune of Foo Fighters "Best of You"]

We're living in the best, the best, the best, the best of all possible worlds...

edson said...

I think, John, that God made living things the way they are, beautiful for some, ugly for others, in a word, unpredictable just for His enjoyment. I suspect the most unpredicatable creatures God has ever created is man, and I think we give God the maximum pleasure. The diversity in opinions, thinking, acting, responses to various challenges of life such as poverty or riches, education or lack of it, peace and violence, I guess these give God unlimited excitement, in the very sense parents enjoy their playing kids.

If you commend that God should have done the things in a predictable natural fashion, that could have somehow alleviated the necessity of an animal attacking another animal, how do you know that would have given God that sort of an excitement you get by watching horror or wild predators movies?

Robin said...

Carnivors actually assist herbivors in maintaining their health and minimizing their suffering. Wild carnivores typically kill the sick and the weak. For example, a pack of wolves don't attempt to kill a healthy uninjured moose. Lions can kill healthy mice but don't, since the nutrients gained would not be worth the effort. By removing the sick and weak from the herbivore flocks, carnivores help guard herbivore populations. Carnivores also prevent such populations from overgrazing the land and thus eventually suffering and dying from lack of food.

ZAROVE said...

You know, theological dscussion on the nature of the world isnt really cha;lenged by this. C. S. lewis, for instance, noted that a perfectly safe world wouldn't do us any good if God created us to face challenges and thus grow morlaly as a result, and many theologians before and after Lewis viewed Gods created order as one of diliberare limitations and challenges in order to make our live sin it more challenging to thus facilitate in us a desire to better ourselves agsisnt the harshness of the world.

The development of Charecter opften relies on challenges.

Thats why Socialism is a failed theory, since even if it worked, you'd just eliminate the desire to imrpove yourself or humanity.

So if God just worked perpetual miracles and endlessly prevented any harm, and removed all obsticles, what woul be gained by it under this idea?

stuartlippincott said...

Hey John I started reading your book for my Capstone class at John Brown University. Thanks for writing a book that helps to clear things up and put them in a "easier to understand" perspective for the Christian readers. I am really enjoying the book so far!
-stuz0r

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks stuartlippincott, your professor has been in contact with me. I like his integrity for bringing my book into the Christian college classroom and I like his approach. I hope to hear from you later as you continue reading and reflecting on it.

blacksnap619 said...

So if you've abandoned your faith, and you are 100% convinced that God truly does not exist, why waste time "debunking" something that isn't real?

Teleprompter said...

edson:

Would you still enjoy those horror movies if you knew that the actors were real people living and dying? What's the difference between your version of god and the guy from the Saw movies? Deliberately setting people up just so he can cut them down? That's definitely the dude from Saw, not an all-loving being.

Some apologists like to argue that the evil in the world is necessary for a greater good. Why not say that the good in the world is necessary for a greater evil? It seems all the same to me. There's just about as much evidence for each claim.

Brad Haggard said...

One of the reasons I couldn't be an atheist is that I'd have to argue about how terrible life is all the time. I'd be depressed formulating arguments like that.

jimt1234 said...

Brad,

But Christians need to defend the concept of a baby-killing God.

That's something I could never do.

Regards,

Jim

edson said...

Teleprompter,

Would I still enjoy those horror movies if you knew that the actors were real people living and dying?

Definitely, I wont. Personaly I do not enjoy for even a second when I see an animal suffering. It troubles me hard and gives me such feeling of anxiety and restlessness. But the nature is not always that way. We see animals in the wild ejoying their lives most of the time except for those few instances were a predator is tormenting a prey. The same applies to us humans. Surely there are so many sufferings in the world, I cannot deny that. But I dont see any atheist saying that since the world is full of suffering, he/she is no more willing to live but would prefer to die today and rest forever. No matter how much suffering there are in this world, I still love to live. I'm grateful to God for giving me this exciting life even when I am suffering.

Deliberately setting people up just so he can cut them down?

You interprete it that way. I interprete it that God want it to happen both way, we as humanity to enjoy the unpredictable life to the maximum and Him as well. As I said before, God hardwiring people and nature so that it operate in a certain way I guess that would have been resulted into the most boring stuff. You ejoy nature because it is diverse and unpredictable. God does too. He enjoys when we enjoy it. He grieves with us when nature treats us badly.

Unless you tell me that you find nature to be extremely awful and you are astonished at Christians giving so much praise to this unqualified Designer, then at least I can consider your thesis with some merits. Otherwise, it is just the same old and boring arrogance form the so called free thinkers.

feeno said...

Brad,
Check out my blog for ten more reasons.

Hello jimt1234
Psalm 115:3, does that sound like someone who needs to be defended?
P.S. are there 1,233 more jimt's out there?

Everyone probably knows that when God set Adam and Eve up in the garden, the animals did chill with one another and were vegetarians, (wusses) it wasn't until the fall that the first death occurred. God killed an animal to show the consequence for sin. Why? 'Cause there's no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. Sin may not be that big of a deal with all of us, but it is with a Holy God. I don't necessarily like that any better than you Atheists out there. But God didn't think it was important enough to get my opinion when he created everything. (the nerve of that guy)

Peace Out, feeno

justin said...

/delurking atheist, fan.

I think I see where you are going with this, and I look forward to reading it.

However, minor quibble:

"If all creatures were vegetarian this would save God's creatures from an immense amount of suffering, you see."

Plants probably suffer, no? And if plants don't 'suffer' in the context you are aiming for, what about deep ocean animals?

justin said...

/delurking atheist, fan.

I think I see where you are going with this, John. Look forward to reading it.

However, one minor quibble:
"If all creatures were vegetarian this would save God's creatures from an immense amount of suffering, you see."

Aren't plants suppusodely God's creatures? Wouldn't they suffer? And if plants can't 'suffer' in the context that you are goin for, what about all those strange animals in the deepest of the ocean trenches? No plants.

sorry if this is a double post.

jimt1234 said...

feeno said:

"Psalm 115:3, does that sound like someone who needs to be defended?"

I don't quite understand your intention with this, because I'm thinking "Um, yes, this IS someone who needs defending," but I think you want me to read it and come to the opposite conclusion. Am I right?

Let's say we have 2 rooms. In each room an entity is killing babies by drowning them because "said entity" doesn't like what the parents are doing. If asked whether this is right or wrong, the Christian must say, "It depends."

If "the entity" is human, then it's wrong.

If "the entity" is God, then it's good, because . . . . (fill in one of many Christian apologetics).

Psalm 115:3 you quoted says "Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him"

How does a phrase written in ink on paper justify something?

Could I justify any action with, "Jim is in Denver, he does whatever pleases him?"

Perhaps I've misundertood your position.

Regards,

Jim

p.s. jimt1234 is just easy to remember--I should probably get a more meaningful name. I have 1234 in my phone number, too!

Jeff said...

edson,

Why don't we all just chip in and buy God a nice, big TV, and a wide range of movies for him to watch? Then instead of making us all suffer, he can get his fix and keep himself from getting bored while we live out lives free of suffering and pain? I think that's a reasonable solution, and I think even if everyone on earth (since everyone has a stake in this) chips in $0.01, we can get him the biggest collection of DVDs there is.

So God gets his excitement, and we get our lives free from suffering and pain. There's a win-win solution if ever I heard one.

feeno said...

Jim
If you are in Denver, I hope what pleases you is beating the Lakers.
Did you not see my T-shirt on my blog picture?

It is true what you commented, the difference is that you require God to justify his actions to you, and I don't.( I know that opens me up to some critique, and maybe even rightfully so, I really don't know?)

BTW every lock, password, code or combination I've ever had is either 111 or abc so I'm getting where your coming from.

Thanks and peace out, feeno

eheffa said...

Hey feeno & edson

"God killed an animal to show the consequence for sin. Why? 'Cause there's no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. Sin may not be that big of a deal with all of us, but it is with a Holy God. I don't necessarily like that any better than you Atheists out there."

Your sadistic Sky-god apparently delights in the smell of burning animals that are executed to show him honor. Who setup this situation? Who established the rule that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins?" Apparently we are to understand that it was the omniscient all-powerful designer of the universe who wanted it this way. Not only that , but he delights in the suffering manifested in his creation. (If he didn't, he would have designed it differently.)

To suggest that this god is entertained by the agonizing death-throes of one of his helpless creatures being dismembered by a predator, is pretty pathetic really.

Let me see if I have this correct: The god of love, delights in the pain of of this planet because otherwise he would be... "bored".

Like the whole Christian fable around Jesus Sacrificing himself to himself, the whole premise is absurd.

(I can't believe that I spent the better part of my life defending these ridiculous ideas)

-evan

eheffa said...

feeno said: "the difference is that you require God to justify his actions to you, and I don't.Actually. There is no evidence that this god of yours is actually there to be interrogated. He is, in fact, merely the figment of a few overly fertile iron-age imaginations. This god is an imaginary construct.

None of us are able to ask him to justify himself - he isn't there.

-evan

Lvka said...

Christians need to defend the concept of a baby-killing God. That's something I could never do.As opposed to the baby-killing God of Atheism? Whom Your kinsmen seem to have no problem defending?

ZAROVE said...

ON the Horror movie analogy, you arr basiclaly syaing God is viocus and cruel for setting us up for such calamities in life.

But isnt this limited thinking?

If this life is not th eonly one, and if in the end noen of us are actually damaged, then how is it that the dreadful events we face in this life count as God beign ccruel, from his own perspective?

ismellarat said...

I was sorry to see the paranormal blog disappear. It's a fascinating subject.

I wonder if there's not some way to add those posts and comments to the surviving Creationism blog, and keep the subject open.

Retain the Creationism name if you need to, but in practice use it as a special-subject catch-all?

goprairie said...

sorry, robin, the myth that carnivores live off the sick and aged is just that: a myth. carnivores live off the young for the most part. coyotes kill baby deer and baby geese and baby rabbits. raccoons invade nests and eat eggs and baby birds and baby squirrels. hawks and eagles go for moving prey that catches their visual attention, so the sluggish sick are LESS likely to be eaten. you cannot justify carnivores that way. they do no favor to their prey.

ismellarat said...

Yeah, Robin, even though I do hope to find out your side is right in a lot of ways, this sort of thing bothers me. It sounds like an argument Margaret Sanger might have made in favor of weeding out our gene pool of undesireables.

But I'm not sure why the debate is even going in this direction. Nature's cruelty is of course no big revelation to Christians. I thought they argue that it all started happening after Eve ate the apple (not that that makes a whole lot of sense to me either, but in the end "the lion will lay down with the lamb", and all will be made whole again) - so why debate the pros and cons of nature if there's no real argument about it being bad the way it is now?

We can talk about how unfair it seems for God to make quadrillions of living organisms suffer for the actions of one or two people (and that he surely must have seen it coming), or, if the Fall happened only a few thousand years ago, whether there's fossil evidence of carnivores that are definitely older than that.

And did God then specially create such repulsive creatures as those I linked to in one of the posts here

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2009/04/dinesh-dsouza-on-why-we-need.html

or did he let them evolve, which I'd think would have taken longer than the time that's elapsed since - or is the argument that he *did* use "perpetual miracles" to keep nasty stuff from developing, until - BOOM - he stopped performing them?

And what about death itself? Wasn't it said to have entered into the world with sin? I might have that wrong, I don't know. In that case, NOTHING EVER DIED before the Fall?

Or maybe the Fall only refers to Nature as it affects man (in which case, Adam and Eve might have been living with humanoids millions of years old - unless 99.9999% human isn't really human, because they were the first *real* ones)? I've heard all kinds of speculations, and can dream up my own.

Good luck with coming up with your own, and trying to make them match what science seems to tell us. (And I mean it, I *would* love to know what the hell's really going on out there.)

(Unless physical reality itself is a trap, set for sinful, rebellious, questioning people who should just shut up and believe.)

All kinds of things are being said here, but the mere fact that nature is cruel seems like a straw man that nobody really denies.

Heck, I don't need weed. I can always just come here.

Jeff said...

Zarove said: "If this life is not th eonly one, and if in the end noen of us are actually damaged, then how is it that the dreadful events we face in this life count as God beign ccruel, from his own perspective?"

Zarove, is it moral to beat someone with a baseball bat (or stand by and let them be beaten) if you know that they will eventually recover?

jimt1234 said...

Lvka said:

"As opposed to the baby-killing God of Atheism? Whom Your kinsmen seem to have no problem defending?"

Since atheism is the lack of belief in gods, I'm not sure what the phrase "God of Atheism" means. I haven't read any philosophy on the "God of no belief in gods."

Perhaps you can elaborate a bit.

Regards,

Jim

ismellarat said...

I don't really have a problem with what Zarove said. There could theoretically be a situation in which we could look back and say it was all worth it.

But I'd think there'd have to be a way to compensate everything that ever suffered consciously, and I don't see Christianity teaching that. A dog might be abused for years and then just cease to exist. And Anne Frank will be whiling away eternity with Satan, the way I'm to understand it.

I vaguely remember some Jewish teaching that suggests some souls are split up to live on this earth separately, and then will be be reunited to live in one piece in Heaven. Or something like that. That might include animals, who knows.

But dammit, then what's the purpose in God hiding like that, and letting the God Hates Fags clowns spew out their message of hellfire for all? :)

ZAROVE said...

Jeff, this is the problem with Atheism here I see. You cant really understand the perspective since its not rooted in seeing this world as the only one.

It is not mroal to witness osmeone beign beaten by a baseball bat, knoing they will recover. However, the situatin woudl be a lot diffeent if you where an actor, and two of your collegues where filmgn a Scnee in which one beat the other wiht a baseball bat, a scnee you arnet in. Yiu wath and do nothing, whole the events unfold. The beatign leaves the man beaten permenanly damaged, as far as Charecters go, but when the scene ends, the actor is fine.

WHich is more analogous to what I said. Imagine this owrld is mainly an act, our souls simply control the bodies we use whilst in this life. They arne't damaged at all by anythig that occures in this life, and will not be harmed by its events, but will learn frm them.

Therefore, no matter how much damage is inflicte don the body, the osul remains unharmed.
So, its less about knowing the victim of the beatign will recover, it smroe about knowignthe victim is not really harmed in the first place.

ZAROVE said...

I don't really have a problem with what Zarove said. There could theoretically be a situation in which we could look back and say it was all worth it.Which snt what I said really. I am not syagn we suffer thes thigns but its owrth it, my actual point is that our sufferign is not really gpign to effect what we are.

In other words, our bodies are merley used while in this life, for a short time, and arne't what we are.

I'm not syaing we are damaged but its worht it, Im sayign we arne't acxtually damaged at all.


But I'd think there'd have to be a way to compensate everything that ever suffered consciously, and I don't see Christianity teaching that. Actually it does. CHristianity teaches us that, at the end, we will be given our knwoeldge and expernces in this life, and from then we will be shown the rmificatiosn of those decisions.



A dog might be abused for years and then just cease to exist. Yeah because we all know all Christisn think ANimals have no souks... well, I don beelive that but hey, you can just ausme I do, just like I think our sufferign will be worth it was the point...

Actuallyt he abused Dogs soul goes back to God at the end. No diffeent form Humanity.

And Anne Frank will be whiling away eternity with Satan, the way I'm to understand it.God judges who is in Heaven and who isn't., so we dont relaly know whose there or not. Your udnrstandign needs revision.



I vaguely remember some Jewish teaching that suggests some souls are split up to live on this earth separately, and then will be be reunited to live in one piece in Heaven. Or something like that. That might include animals, who knows.Judaism has no consistant teahcign abotu the afterlife, and not all Chrisgaisn think ANimals just cease to exist at death...



But dammit, then what's the purpose in God hiding like that, and letting the God Hates Fags clowns spew out their message of hellfire for all? :)WHo said he was hiding?

Teleprompter said...

Zarove,

You insist that the victims of misfortune in Earthly existence will remain unharmed.

Then what about the Christian teachings of hell? So all of those people who bore suffering -- will be condemned to an endless future of even more and worse suffering? How is that improving them? How is that teaching them anything?

Your lines of reasoning sound more like excuses than anything else.

I still think your idea of a god is more like Saw than an all-loving being.

ismellarat said...

I should add every time I bring this up that I wish things will turn out to be the way I just outlined.

Y'all can laugh at my "need for a Sky Daddy," but you've got nothing to say to what must be billions who didn't get to have it so good. They may as well have just committed suicide, rather than put up with their pitiful existences any longer:

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/RM1.PHOTOS.ROOM1.HTM

I have no proof at all, but somehow I don't see such a belief system as a bad thing.

ZAROVE said...

Zarove,

You insist that the victims of misfortune in Earthly existence will remain unharmed.

Then what about the Christian teachings of hell? So all of those people who bore suffering -- will be condemned to an endless future of even more and worse suffering? How is that improving them? How is that teaching them anything?
Hell is a different subject, covred before here on DC and likely to crop up again. However, the theology of judgement makes sense as well considering that peopel send themselves to Hell by their own choices.

Nevertheless, I'll ask that it be differed till a different topic brings this up, or you can email me.


Your lines of reasoning sound more like excuses than anything else.Of course it does. All theiostic arugmnt is just excuses. Just like all Ahtitsic augments are ever so sound.

Thats because of the way you approach the topic, wht an intent on findign fual with a beleif system. In fact, originally you didnt even understand what I said, and nwo tis "Just an exucse".

I'm sorry I cant take these ebates as seriosuly as I once did , but this is why I can't. People who just want to see fault in any Christian arugment will.

I cant help that, but do engage the arugments instead, OK?


I still think your idea of a god is more like Saw than an all-loving being.And, I dont care.

That doenst make my idea wrong.

Teleprompter said...

Zarove,

"However, the theology of judgement makes sense as well considering that peopel send themselves to Hell by their own choices."

Oh, really? According to your beliefs, who set up this system? Whoever created this system must be responsible for how it functions. You can't teach your children something, and then, 20 years later, when they emulate you as an adult, you can't say, "well, they did it on their own", if that's what you taught them their entire lives. Do you see what I'm saying here?

"That doenst make my idea wrong."

Zarove, logically Christianity claims that its god is all-loving, right? If you don't believe this, then maybe you're just not a Christian? Or maybe, some elements of Christianity don't believe in an all-loving god, and the Bible is just incoherent (because this is what it claims, right?) Clearly, something doesn't add up.

You know what? You claim that I am finding fault with the arguments. I'm not. The arguments don't add up. All I am doing is thinking about the arguments, and these are my conclusions so far.

ZAROVE said...

Zarove,

"However, the theology of judgement makes sense as well considering that peopel send themselves to Hell by their own choices."

Oh, really? According to your beliefs, who set up this system? Whoever created this system must be responsible for how it functions. You can't teach your children something, and then, 20 years later, when they emulate you as an adult, you can't say, "well, they did it on their own", if that's what you taught them their entire lives. Do you see what I'm saying here?
But Christians arent even capable of Imulating God here. THe lcosest w get to it is in Human courts of law.

Incidentlaly, Courts of law arne't relaly condmened by you are they?

You wherne't even objectign to the system, just to the fact that peopel go to Hell. Thts like critisising life sentences for those who commit murder. It doens't matter that said Murderer did not create the system, what matters is he has been found guilty of violating the law and now, becaue f his own actions, must face the consequences.

Unless you want to blame Human sin on Hmans imulatign God, which is just idiotic.


"That doenst make my idea wrong."

Zarove, logically Christianity claims that its god is all-loving, right? If you don't believe this, then maybe you're just not a Christian? Or maybe, some elements of Christianity don't believe in an all-loving god, and the Bible is just incoherent (because this is what it claims, right?) Clearly, something doesn't add up.
Nothign I've said thusfar even remotely leads to "God is not all loving".

You either arne't readign what I actually wrote, or do not comprehend it.

But I'm not goign to engage in this sort of discussion since your not actually ignoring my point and demanding I defend soemthign I never claimed.


To sum up again what my actual arugment is, my beleif is that we live in this world as a mean to expeurnce events that will help us learn certain moral lessons. God has thus given us mortal bodies subject to suffering and injury, and challenges to overcome, which we are to face throghhout htis life in roder to build our CHarecter, and teach us those lessons.

Now, the sufferign in this life is not actual. We may expeinrce it, but it doens't do any actual harm to what we really are. I tonly damages what we occupy for a short period of time while on Earth.

This means that, Im not aruging that pekpelk can look back and say the suferign and harm they faced was worth it, Im sayign the harm did not actually occure.

I'm allso not saying God is unloving, I am saying that he simply is interested mro ein our souls than our physical, and temporary, bodies.

How you can get form this the beleif that God is not all loving is beyind me.



You know what? You claim that I am finding fault with the arguments. I'm not. The arguments don't add up. All I am doing is thinking about the arguments, and these are my conclusions so far.But your not thinkign about the arugments. So far you have said that God is repsoncible for our goign to Hell because he set up the system, and then asked how we shoudl be liable if we imulate God, notign that a CHld whl imulates a parent 20 years later still shows liability for the parent, even though this is absurd and doens't connect to anythign we've dicussed.

Then you asked abotu how I can beelive God isnt all loving, when I never said God wans't all loving, and when my actual arugment doens't preclude an all loving God.

So no, your not thinkign about the arugments and lookign at how they dotn add up. Your ignorign the aruments to inscert faults that dont' exist.

Teleprompter said...

Zarove,

Alright, I see that I have been far too vague. I am going to clarify and summarize my arguments once and for all, and attempt to show how everything I've been citing is connected.

I do *not* condemn courts of law as a principle. I condemn a court of law that would torture someone forever for a traffic violation, when sending them to driving school is a better and fairer solution.

Also, imagine that this court made the driver. This court makes all drivers, and knows that the drivers tend to speed while driving, yet they *intentionally* still pass exceedingly harsh sentences. Nothing about this scenario seems out of place to you?

If a god really wanted to build our character, hell should be more like driving school instead of eternal torture. Is the analogy clearer now?

You may say that hell is completely unrelated to this topic, but it's not. If you're going to argue that the purpose of our earthly existence is to refine our character, then we must ask what is our character being refined for?

And further, we must ask what does this even mean? Your character can only be refined if you're a Christian? What about all the Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim people? They don't get a chance?

Your Christianity is probably different from everyone else's Christianity. There are almost as many Christianities as there are Christians, aren't there?

As long as existence is your framework in this argument, then any post-Earth existence is intimately bound up with our earthly existence for any discussion of whatever hypothetical purposes a god may have for our existence. Is that clear?

"You wherne't even objectign to the system, just to the fact that peopel go to Hell."

I think you saw the trees and missed the forest. Hell is part of the system, right? Any system that demands infinite punishment for finite offenses -- I object to that system. Of course I object to the current idea of Hell, and any system that includes it.

"It doens't matter that said Murderer did not create the system, what matters is he has been found guilty of violating the law and now, becaue f his own actions, must face the consequences."

That's not what I was saying at all, Zarove. I'm not objecting to the idea of punishment -- what I'm objecting to is *unfair* punishment. Yes, a murderer has been found guilty. Would you also punish all of his descendants for that? Also, a life sentence is just that -- this life only. Not an eternal one.

This isn't a question of whether punishment is cruel, it's a question of whether the proposed *level* of punishment is cruel -- my objection is to the proportion of the punishment alloted, not to the idea of punishment itself.

I'm not ignoring your arguments to insert faults that don't exist -- however, you have failed to consider the full implications of your arguments.

ZAROVE said...

Zarove,

Alright, I see that I have been far too vague. I am going to clarify and summarize my arguments once and for all, and attempt to show how everything I've been citing is connected.

I do *not* condemn courts of law as a principle. I condemn a court of law that would torture someone forever for a traffic violation, when sending them to driving school is a better and fairer solution.



Also, imagine that this court made the driver. This court makes all drivers, and knows that the drivers tend to speed while driving, yet they *intentionally* still pass exceedingly harsh sentences. Nothing about this scenario seems out of place to you?
Except no one in this particular insance said that God sent us to Hell for the equivlent of a Traffic Violation. As far as I can tell, this topic is mainly addressin th Theodicy, that is, the reason why evil and sufferign exists in our world if God is all loving.

What yor now addressing is final judgement and Hell, which is not relaly connected to the topic, and which I'd alreay asekd to differ, or offered my Email Address.

As I will maintain the integrety of the otpic we are actually discussing by not diverging into this new topic, I will say that I won't go into detail, but I will say that the theology youseemtot hinkall Christaisn hold to and that the Bibel makes clear really sin't in the Bible and not all Christaisn see it that way. In fact, noen do. It may be true that some Christains think all sin is equel before the eyes of God, but this is not relaly what woudl send you to Hell in teir theology. That said, what about Cahtolics who distinguish between Veniel and mortal sins? WHat about the Orhtodox who do the same? Do you htink this critisism is applicable to Anglicans?

I'm sorry that you have such a narrow view of Hell and judgement, but what your saying doens't relaly address what the builk of Christaisn on the planet actulaly beelive about Hell, which in the end is not really connected to why God allows suferign rather than get invovled by workign perpetual miracles.

So even though Im not relaly elaboratign on the Theology of Hell, nor do I have to, I will say that you enture argument is moote dby the fact that most Christain theological systems preclude God sendign us to Hell over a single minor infracture.

Its also not the system I hold to, so your relaly not even addresisng my personal beelifs.

Thus I don't see a need to really perpetuate this concern.

If a god really wanted to build our character, hell should be more like driving school instead of eternal torture. Is the analogy clearer now? Except Hell is not udnertsood as a judge sending us to Hell over minor traffic violations. Its mroe like us sendign ourselves to Hell because we refuse to seek God and follow his ways, and htus seperate ourselves formt he Salvation he offers.

WHich isn't really anythign liek what you've offered here.

THose who go to Hell choose Hell ebcaus they can't give up their own pride, selfishness, and vanity.

They dont go their for minor offenses agaisnt God.



You may say that hell is completely unrelated to this topic, but it's not. If you're going to argue that the purpose of our earthly existence is to refine our character, then we must ask what is our character being refined for?Our eventual perfection and development of our Eernal being.


And further, we must ask what does this even mean? Your character can only be refined if you're a Christian? What about all the Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim people? They don't get a chance? No one said they cudln't. But the end decision is still Gods,a nd Hell is still finally chosen by those who refuse to submit to God in the end.



Your Christianity is probably different from everyone else's Christianity. There are almost as many Christianities as there are Christians, aren't there?Actually I bade a lot of mine on the Early Church Fathers, and on reading of the Scripture sin Cultural COntext. What I present to you is not relaly different form the old theologies you'd expect, wiht soem development which is natural and occurant in all endeavours.

By the way, the hwole "As many CHristianities as their are Christaisn ""smear doesnt work comgn form an Athiest, since Ahtiets love to pride themselves on indiviualism. Rememebr the claim that all Christaisn are Sheep? The same peopel who claim that claim wat yo just did that its all individual.

And its a weakness either way, depending on the Atheists needs at the moment.


As long as existence is your framework in this argument, then any post-Earth existence is intimately bound up with our earthly existence for any discussion of whatever hypothetical purposes a god may have for our existence. Is that clear?Is it clear that your theology of Hell is radiclaly different form what I and the Ealry Churhc actulaly hold to? Ifs it clear that your invisionment disagrees with most of the worlds Christains? Is it clear to you that even the Evnagleicals whom you'd say do follow this actually dont follow it in the way you pretend they do?

Your critisism is base don a false premise, so thus is not really workable.


"You wherne't even objectign to the system, just to the fact that peopel go to Hell."

I think you saw the trees and missed the forest. Hell is part of the system, right? Any system that demands infinite punishment for finite offenses -- I object to that system. Of course I object to the current idea of Hell, and any system that includes it.
Hell isn't a place to punish finite criems infinitely. Itsd a palce where those who refuse to find Salvation in God and surreender their pride and malice go becaue they cannot abide in a palce of eternal Love and Truth.

And rather you object to it or not doens't make it nonsensical or not real.

And given hwo little you seem to udnerstand the system, your critisisim is meanignless.

Am I beign clear now?




"It doens't matter that said Murderer did not create the system, what matters is he has been found guilty of violating the law and now, becaue f his own actions, must face the consequences."

That's not what I was saying at all, Zarove. I'm not objecting to the idea of punishment -- what I'm objecting to is *unfair* punishment. Yes, a murderer has been found guilty. Would you also punish all of his descendants for that? Also, a life sentence is just that -- this life only. Not an eternal one.
As I recall, the Scripture clealry teaches that we are each liable for our own sin, not our Ancestors.

Read Ezekiel Chapter 18, it clealry teaches that a man is not goign to be found GUilty before God because of his sons actions, neither will a son bare the guilt of his Father.

If you are referign to Original Sin, then keep two facts in mind.

First, that I am from th Churches of Christ, and do not hodl to Original Sin. As I do not accept that we are born with a sinful nature due to Adam, your concern wjdl be mooted yet again.,

Secondly, tose Christains who do adhere to Original Sin do not maintain that we are guilty of Adams Transgression. Rather, they woudl argue that we are sentnecesd to Hell owing to our own transgression. THey woudl merley say that Adams fall caused us to inheret a nature of Rebellion that wodul inclune us to Sin. However, Original sin s not Actual sin, and we are nto guilty of Adams trasngression, it merley effects us.


That said, the Punishment is fair. It is a self imposed punishmet broguth about not by what we actulaly did, but wbo we are, and who we have chosen to be.

Hell is, in the end, a Seperation from God due to our refusal to learn the love and peace he offers us, and our embrace of a selfishness and rpide that causes us to place ourselves above all else.

Hell is not Eternal Punishment for a Traffic Ticket, as I said above. Or even for Murder. Hell is eternal punishment ebcause we refuse to accept God and his ways.

So your critisism is still in the end moot.

This isn't a question of whether punishment is cruel, it's a question of whether the proposed *level* of punishment is cruel -- my objection is to the proportion of the punishment alloted, not to the idea of punishment itself.But you display no actual awareness of the nature of the Punishment, nor the reason for it. Yoru objection is based upon a very innacurate view of the natute of Hell, and the reason peopel are sent there.

You act as if it is merley punihsment for actions, and not the resutl of our motivcation and charecter that resulte din those atiosn and defien who we are as people.

WHich in the end doens't relaly address what Hell is trly about.


I'm not ignoring your arguments to insert faults that don't exist -- however, you have failed to consider the full implications of your arguments.No I haven't, and the fualts still dont exist.

You treat Hell as a Prison where we go to if we commit any sin at all, evenb minor ones, for all Eternity, when inf act it is a palce we go to base don our Charecter, and in which we have chosen to enter into because we refuse to change those thigns ihtin us that cause us to be seperate form God to begin with.

So its still findign Fault where none exists.

ZAROVE said...

Incidentlaly, Ezikeil CHapter 18. Fromt he King James Bible.

Ezekiel 18

1. The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying,
2. What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?
3. As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
4. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
5. But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,
6. And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour's wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,
7. And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
8. He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
9. Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.
10. If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,
11. And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour's wife,
12. Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,
13. Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
14. Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,
15. That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour's wife,
16. Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,
17. That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.
18. As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.
19. Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
20. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
21. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
22. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
23. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
24. But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to All the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
25. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
26. When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.
27. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.
28. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
29. Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?
30. Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
31. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
32. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

Scott said...

Zarove wrote: God has thus given us mortal bodies subject to suffering and injury, and challenges to overcome, which we are to face throghhout htis life in roder to build our CHarecter, and teach us those lessons.Let me make sure I've got this right....

God created human beings in an incomplete form, which lack specific properties. Despite being all knowing and all powerful, he is incapable of endowing us with these properties. In fact, without us, God could not reach his goal at all.

So, apparently, God is ultimately dependent on human beings, which seems to contradict the idea that God is perfectly self-sufficient. We can do things that God cannot?

Now, the sufferign in this life is not actual. We may expeinrce it, but it doens't do any actual harm to what we really are. I tonly damages what we occupy for a short period of time while on Earth.If suffering is not "actual", then how could we learn from it?

What of children who die in the womb? Given that they will not remember any limited suffering they might have experienced in this life, how will they cope or manage in this afterlife without the "character" or "lessons" we supposably gain?

Does God segregate the souls of these unborn children from the general population because they would be lacking something so important that we must suffer for it? Does God somehow simulate this experience in heaven, without it actually occurring, so they are not "missing" the same vital soul building experience?

Or does God let these children in because suffering / soul building is some kind of arbitrary requirement that really isn't necessary?

It's unclear as to how this actually works beyond what appears to be a simplistic attempt to make sense out of what we experience.

Robin said...

I don't believe anything in creation deserves God's grace. Creation didn't do anything to deserve to be created so not even it deserves God's grace. An example would be the animals. They didn't do anything to deserve to be created. You cannot deserve as a non-being to be created and have all your needs met by loving Father. I believe that even Adam and Eve lived on grace before they sinned. Grace by definition is getting something good that we don't deserve. Adam and Eve experienced God's goodness not as a resposnae to their demerit but still without deserving it since you can't deserve as a non-being to be created and placed on this earth and have all your needs met. I see life itself as a gift not just my salvation.

Since nothing and nobody deserves God's grace God is never obligated to treat His creation with grace. What this does is it frees up God's will to act according to the way He pleases. He's not constrained by anything outside Himself or under compulsion to show grace. It's freely given by Him. He's the unique and only self-sufficient Being.

This also solves the problem of evil and suffering. Since God is never obligated to show grace to His creation He does nothing wrong in witholding it and allowing evil and suffering. He's not unjust by allowing evil and suffering. He's a good God and has good reasons for allowing evil and suffering even if I don't know what those reasons are. To know why God would allow something to happen I would have to be God and I'm not God. He's the Creator and I'm the creature. He has rights a prerogatives that I don't have.

Of couse He could reveal to us some of those reasons if He so chose to but I don't think I can ever know all His reasons. Logical explanations as to "why" are infinite and I'm not infinite. I can't fully comprehend the infinite. I'm finite and limited in my understanding.

Jeff said...

Robin,

Perhaps God is not obligated to treat us with any dignity or respect. Perhaps he's perfectly within his rights to kill us all. But even if that is the case, let's not call him "loving" if he does choose to do that. Even if a parent had full rights to kill their child (which of course they don't, but let's assume it for the moment), we still would not call a parent who kills their child "loving." And thus the problem of evil and suffering still remains unless you are willing to give up using that term to describe God.

Robin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZAROVE said...

Zarove wrote: "God has thus given us mortal bodies subject to suffering and injury, and challenges to overcome, which we are to face throghhout htis life in roder to build our CHarecter, and teach us those lessons."

Let me make sure I've got this right....

God created human beings in an incomplete form, which lack specific properties. Despite being all knowing and all powerful, he is incapable of endowing us with these properties. In fact, without us, God could not reach his goal at all.
You did not get this right.

For one thing, I never said God was incapable of reachign any goal without us, I said that God provided us a world form which we woudl grow and develop in. This doens't mean God wa sincapable of doing anythign else but this.

As to the firts part, I never said God created us in an incompelte form and was incapable of endowing us wiht certain properties either. I said that God created this world in order for us to develop moral Charecter. You may pretend this means that God was incapable of creatign us with moral Charecter and thus had to rely on us to meet his ends, bt thats not relaly what I said.

But who cares bat alternatives? itts just easier to pretend its an either-or scenario, and sicne God did it this way accoridn got me it means God wa sincapable fo dougn it any other way.

Brilliant.

Thats why I dont put a lt of effort into Debunking CHristainity posts. The peeople here ar einterested only in underinign CHristainity and dont bother to see just bhw absurd their argumetns really are.



So, apparently, God is ultimately dependent on human beings, which seems to contradict the idea that God is perfectly self-sufficient. We can do things that God cannot?Nothign I said above actulaly indicates this.

Actually the way I see it, God chose to create us, then chose to allow us to develop on our own, to provide us with oportunity to select hwo we woudl become.

Its less that God wa sincapable of iendowing us with mroal CHarecter and thus relied on us to develop it in this world, and mroe htat God allowed us to do it for ourselves with his guidance.

Its also idiotic to say we can tdo things God can't base don hat i wrote.

Can you at leats put a little effort into thinkign these matters out?


"""- Zarove wrote:
Now, the sufferign in this life is not actual. We may expeinrce it, but it doens't do any actual harm to what we really are. I tonly damages what we occupy for a short period of time while on Earth."""


If suffering is not "actual", then how could we learn from it? Because we still expeirnce it. it just doens't damage us in the end, but rather a temporary body we identify with whilst we live.


What of children who die in the womb? Given that they will not remember any limited suffering they might have experienced in this life, how will they cope or manage in this afterlife without the "character" or "lessons" we supposably gain?How do you know they won't rmemeber?

That said, they may also have come here to help others throguh such an expireince.


Does God segregate the souls of these unborn children from the general population because they would be lacking something so important that we must suffer for it? Does God somehow simulate this experience in heaven, without it actually occurring, so they are not "missing" the same vital soul building experience?


Or does God let these children in because suffering / soul building is some kind of arbitrary requirement that really isn't necessary?
This is a perfect exampel fo a qwuesiton that is beign asked for the sole purpose of underminign a CHrstain Argument, that pretendds to be an objective and raitonal critisism base dsoley on logic.

The Answer is no, God doenst segregate. I beleive the SOul preexists, and that hte Souls choose to come into this world. I also beleive that even the expeirnces of those who die int he WOmb are counted as part of the overall lessons to learn. I also do not beelive for a moment that this world is th eonly one in which such lessons are to be learned, and I do not beelive that all the lessons a soul is sent to be invovled in ar eonly thse that soul must itself learn, but often they are hre to help others learn.

But why think about what I said when its easier to just dismiss it as idiotic and logilaly inconsistant?

You don't even care about the internal logic, you car eonly abotu discreditign Christainity, so have at it.

Im sure you'll come upw uith another objection as soon as these are satisfified.


It's unclear as to how this actually works beyond what appears to be a simplistic attempt to make sense out of what we experience.Yeah tats it. its just a simplistic attmeot to understand our world. And your ever so right that if we think abotu it it doens tmake sense. Gee golly you Atheists sure is smart.

COme off it, your qwuestions didnt even attmeot to think about htis topic, you just tried to critisise it.

Thats why "Skeptics" arent relaly interested in logic and reaosn, only in findign fault, and again, this time the fault doenst acutlaly exist.


Even if you diagree with these thigns I have said, they are nto logiclaly inconsistant and odnt have the glarign problems you pretend them to have.

eheffa said...

Robin,

You have listed the attributes of God as commonly stated by Christians.

What or where is your evidence for this Sky-god's attributes? (The Bible is a very tenuous source for information when one considers how it cannot be relied upon as an historical reference. The Bible has no more inherent authority than Homer's "Iliad" or Smith's "Book of Mormon".)

How would you recognize an authoritative & reliable source for declarations of metaphysical truth?

Do you have some other evidence for this unseen, uncommunicative entity you call "God"?

Evil doesn't exist? I suppose you could re-define it out of existence but what would you call the gratuitous rape & torture experienced by women in Bosnia or Rwanda?

-evan

ismellarat said...

Geez, Robin, if you could transport yourself back in time to Bergen-Belsen, could you really look into a dying (non Christian, by all accounts) Anne Frank's eyes, and tell her that you know Hell will be the best place for her, and that there's no problem of evil and suffering?

Andre said...

Zarove, didn't God say let us make man in their own image? If so, our temporary body you talk about seems to have more meaning than you say. Afterall, he did design us
(with such complexity) to live forever with our current body, and we were one fruit picking away from immortality. But I guess because of the fall our body becomes irrelevant, but our soul gets a second chance.

If God was really sorry that he created man, why did he not just kill everyone in the flood, and have just Noah and his family's souls to father the soul race? Why produce bodies only to get rid of them again?

You asked Scott how he knows children who dies in the womb won't remember. What are you talking about? What is there for them to remember?

Then you said,"That said, they may also have come here to help others throguh such an expireince." I'm not really sure I understand you, so could you please give an example?

ZAROVE said...

eheffa, the verty facr that tyou have to refer to God as a "sky god" shows how little serious thoufht you ut into your ideas...

ZAROVE said...

By the way, John, 2 Peter 3 is about the Zecond Coming, but notice soemthing.

Mark 13 is about somethign Jesus said before he died, 2 Peter 3 is not.


Its irrational to think that Jesus's words in MArk 13 tie direclty to2 Peter3, and that these words are referign to exaclty the same event, just as it is irrational to think that Mark 13 must be undertsood as the Seocnd COming and nayone, like me, who says otherwise is offerign a Rationalisation.

Since Jesus had not even told them he woudl have a Second COming in Mark 13, why do you assume the Early Churhc woudl understand the Second Coming and establishment of an Earhtly Kingdom as the intepetation fo Mark 13?

And can you support this even in the text withut relyign on peopel who wrote abotu how Apocalyptic belefis help cause us to kill the Environment?

(I looke dhim up.)

Because it seems your enture claim rests on this beign a nessisary fact, that the Earliest Christaisn undertsood Mark 13 Apocalypticlaly.

They didnt.

Sayign Im wrong wont mean Im wrong either.

Jeff said...

Zarove, let me see if I understand you correctly. You are asserting that suffering on this earth is here to help us learn lessons and grow in moral character - in other words, our souls "learn" from suffering and become better for it. But then you also assert that suffering has no negative effects because the body doesn't matter - so in other words, suffering can't affect the soul negatively.

Why can suffering only have positive effects and not negative ones? And who said the body is the only thing suffering affects? I'm pretty sure that rape victims have intense emotional damage. And those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have vivid recollections of past suffering that definitely affects their minds negatively. Whether you consider the "mind" the same as the "soul" I suppose is one issue, but if we are able to "learn" then somehow our memories of this life are going with us to the next one. So surely the negative memories of those who are "scarred for life" would go with them as well?

I think you are arbitrarily asserting that suffering can only have positive and not negative effects on the soul. But as we generally tend to see that suffering has negative effects, I think you have the burden of proof to show how it can have no long-term negative impact, but only positive. Remember, you said that suffering "doesn't matter". I just don't see how you can say that when suffering can clearly have negative emotional/mental effects.

Scott said...

Zarove wrote: As to the firts part, I never said God created us in an incompelte form and was incapable of endowing us wiht certain properties eitherIf we are not incomplete, then what "lessons" do we learn from suffering?

You may pretend this means that God was incapable of creatign us with moral Charecter and thus had to rely on us to meet his ends, bt thats not relaly what I said.Are you not saying that God could give us moral character, but this character would be substandard to character we could develop through suffering? Only we can give ourselves the best moral character?

Actually the way I see it, God chose to create us, then chose to allow us to develop on our own, to provide us with oportunity to select hwo we woudl become.

Its less that God wa sincapable of iendowing us with mroal CHarecter and thus relied on us to develop it in this world, and mroe htat God allowed us to do it for ourselves with his guidance.
It's unclear as to what suffering has to do with free-will or who I choose to become. Could I not choose to be a selfish or helpful person without suffering? You haven't demonstrated a necessary connection between these two concepts.

Its also idiotic to say we can tdo things God can't base don hat i wrote.If God wants us to become X, then why not make us X? Apparently, God could do just that, but it would be nearly as "good" as us suffering and becoming X on our own. So, to get the X God really wants, he needs us to "learn" things on our own that he can't teach us.

Can you at leats put a little effort into thinkign these matters out?Have you critically thought about what you believe?

Because we still expeirnce it. it just doens't damage us in the end, but rather a temporary body we identify with whilst we live.This seems to be a very limited interpretation of suffering.

For example, suffering isn't just something that happens to our extremities, we experience it consciously. Isolated incidents of suffering can also result in long term physiological trauma, which can often seriously hindering a individual's personal development.

So, It's unclear how suffering can positively effect us in the end, yet not negatively effect us in the end as well.

How do you know they won't rmemeber?Because we now know that embryos have yet to develop a nervous system, which could register suffering, until four weeks, at the very earliest. No nervous system, no earthly suffering.

Do you believe that a we have a soul at conception? If so, of all the embryos that die with a soul but with no nervous system, none would gain whatever it is we are supposed to gain by suffering.

This is a perfect exampel fo a qwuesiton that is beign asked for the sole purpose of underminign a CHrstain Argument, that pretendds to be an objective and raitonal critisism base dsoley on logic.Zarove, I'm merely pointing out that what appears to be a serious inconsistently in your argument.

You claim that suffering is part of God's plan, which results in some kind of "soul building." But if we are to gain something by earthly suffering, we must first be lacking something. And, apparently, the acquisition of what we lack is so important that God has intentionally set things up so we must suffer so we can attain it.

However, should this same physical world that God designed result in a scenario where a soul could not experience earthly suffering, then no such soul building could occur.

What I'm asking is, what are the ramifications of such absence?

And if there are no ramifications, then I'd have to ask, is suffering really necessary?

I beleive the SOul preexists, and that hte Souls choose to come into this world. I also beleive that even the expeirnces of those who die int he WOmb are counted as part of the overall lessons to learn. I also do not beelive for a moment that this world is th eonly one in which such lessons are to be learned, and I do not beelive that all the lessons a soul is sent to be invovled in ar eonly thse that soul must itself learn, but often they are hre to help others learn.First, is God merely keeping score or is it necessary for us to experience suffering to build a soul? Your argument doesn't seem very consistent as you've implied God will accept one kind of suffering in leu of other kinds of suffering as part of some kind of test he's developed.

Second, it's estimated that 25-50% of all conceptions spontaneously abort. In many of these cases, the woman has no idea she was even pregnant. It's unclear as how anyone could lean anything in these cases. Nor does it seem likely that an omniscient being would intentionally plan a world where such a large number of spontaneous abortions would occur for apparently no reason.

Third, if there is no difference between the lessons the embryo learns elsewhere and the lessons we learn by suffering on earth, then why don't we just skip the earthly suffering all together? Again, there doesn't seem to be any ramifications for not suffering on earth, so it seems unnecessary.

Yeah tats it. its just a simplistic attmeot to understand our world. And your ever so right that if we think abotu it it doens tmake sense. Gee golly you Atheists sure is smart. Zarove,

When I say simplistic, I do not mean stupid, I mean incomplete. When we did not understand our world, God may have been the best explanation. But we now know our world is more complex than we could have possibly imagined.

Your specific explanation fails to account for a wide range of phenomena that was unknown at the time it was formed. In other words, it's a hypothesis that longer explains the facts that we now observe, such as a high number of spontaneous abortions, discoveries in neuroscience, the development of nervous systems in embryos, etc. As such, why should we continue to think it is factual?

Even if you diagree with these thigns I have said, they are nto logiclaly inconsistant and odnt have the glarign problems you pretend them to have.A mysterious, but all knowing God could have any number of mysterious reasons for allowing anything. One could create any number of elaborate explanations for nearly anything we observe. However, we know it's impossible for all of them to be correct. How do we know this isn't one of many imaginary solutions?

Again, when faced with a complex phenomena we observe, that we could not have imagined, your explanation cannot account for them. As such, It appears to be the product of someone's imagination, not fact.

If there are no ramifications for not suffering here on earth, which occurs in scenarios that were unknown at the time, then it's unclear as to why we must suffer.

Russ said...

Brad Haggard said,
One of the reasons I couldn't be an atheist is that I'd have to argue about how terrible life is all the time. I'd be depressed formulating arguments like that.
Brad, what you've said here is absurd. While you seem unlikely to acknowledge it, most atheists live life to its fullest with great happiness and joy.

If you follow this link,
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/story?id=7585729&page=1
you will read in part

Where in the world do people feel most content with their lives?

According to a new report released by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based group of 30 countries with democratic governments that provides economic and social statistics and data, happiness levels are highest in northern European countries.

Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands rated at the top of the list, ranking first, second and third, respectively. Outside Europe, New Zealand and Canada landed at Nos. 8 and 6, respectively. The U.S. did not crack the top 10. Switzerland placed seventh and Belgium placed tenth.
Realize, Brad, that the top three countries have populations with extremely low levels of theistic belief, especially when compared with the US. The US has more Christianities, more Christian gods and more Jesuses than any country in the world, but the positive effects claimed by the Jesus-types are notably absent.

For instance, Denmark and Finland, are two of the least theistic countries in the world, yet they have the two lowest infant mortality rates in the world and rate themselves as the happiest in the world. Babies born in the US die at a much higher rate than those born in either Denmark or Finland. When it comes to babies all those Jesuses, gods, and Christianities don't help at all. If your version of the Christian god does all you say it does, Brad - you know, makes that sperm hook up with that egg, ensoul the single-celled zygote, guide in utero development(except for birth defects, of course), make delivery of the baby safe for mother and child -- why do you think your version of god favors the Danish and Finnish babies born to atheists over those babies born in the US.

Ironically, your version of the Christian god clearly likes the Danes and Finns better than Americans, in general, since compared to the US they also have lower abortion rates, lower divorce rates, higher incomes, better educations, significantly better life-long health, longer life expectancy, lower crime rates. If your god does what you say it does, Brad, it observably gives better care to atheists than it does to US theists.

Why it appears this way is clear: reason, science, 100 percent supernatural-free medicine, real caring, real morality, real compassion for others, including one's fellow countrymen, actually works; superstitious pathological faith, prayer, gods, jesuses and the like do not.

If US Christianities really cared about people, they would actively endorse universal health care. But, US Christianities mostly reject it, since it would instantly remove illness as one of the biggest motivations toward religious involvement. More than that, however, tax increases reduce the amount of cash available for clergy to pry out of people's wallets. No doubt persons like yourself would also reject universal health care because someone you hate might receive benefit from it: atheists, Muslims, and Catholics, Mormons and other wrong-type Christians. You said as an atheist you would need to "argue about how terrible life is all the time." As a type of US Christian, Brad, you don't need to argue it, you just need to work hard to maintain the low-level status quo, with poor societal health outcomes like unacceptably high infant mortality. Keep money in people's hands; keep health care unavailable and/or unaffordable; keep people sick, ignorant, and impoverished and your church will continue flourish through the sale of uneffective, pathological hope and faith.

Brad, on your blogger profile there is a picture of a man and a beautiful small child. If that man is you and that child is yours, you know that deep parental bond of joy and love, and the sense of hope for the future. What you clearly fail to comprehend is that that same emotional experience is common to all mankind, theist and non-theist, believer and atheist. Why does your god not communicate this to you instead of telling you to hate gay people enough that you would actively politically interfere with their capacity to provide for their beautiful babies in the same way that you are free to do?

Sadly, your quote above says more about you and the horrific dogma that you both gorge yourself on and perpetuate to others at Tates Creek. Any realistic understanding of the world's peoples reveals that theists do not have a corner on happiness, contentment, fulfillment, optimism or the idea that that world is a wonderful place overflowing with exciting possibilities. It is in fact theists who appear to be certain of "how terrible life is all the time," and to suit their self-serving superstitious purposes, they need and want to keep it that way.

feeno said...

To Brad Haggard

I see what you mean, jeesh!

Peace out, feeno

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

John wrote, "I have a cat. It's ugly to see him play with a mouse until it dies."

Wow -- way to be scornful and judgemental of an innocent pet. If its' so sickening to witness, why own the poor creature? Why not let the innocent and vulnerable mice have their free run of the house and yard?? Creative expression is neither aborted nor oppressed just because we do not yet fully understand or are offended by what comes out of it. By faith, one can hone the virtue of courage if they so desire to overcome suffering and evil. If we were to eliminate all that offends our territorial senses, there would be no one or no living thing remaining.

Then Russ wrote, "Brad, what you've said here is absurd. While you seem unlikely to acknowledge it, most atheists live life to its fullest with great happiness and joy."

Prove that most atheists are full of happiness and joy --- empirical data is needed here (and BTW how do you define "happiness" and "joy"????). I know firsthand how I 'lived' as an atheist and I know how I live now - I won't revert to atheism again. Academics, theology, scientific examination, philosophy, etc. etc. while all can be meaningful pursuits, are no substitutes for God's pure, unadulterated love.

3M

busterggi said...

"Prove that most atheists are full of happiness and joy --- empirical data is needed here (and BTW how do you define "happiness" and "joy"????). I know firsthand how I 'lived' as an atheist and I know how I live now - I won't revert to atheism again. Academics, theology, scientific examination, philosophy, etc. etc. while all can be meaningful pursuits, are no substitutes for God's pure, unadulterated love."

Prove that Christians are full of happiness & joy, and make sure you can empirically compare their results with Muslims, Jews, hindus, Scientologists, etc.

Your god of pure love sure didn't love Haiti this past week,

Russ said...

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM),
You said,

Then Russ wrote, "Brad, what you've said here is absurd. While you seem unlikely to acknowledge it, most atheists live life to its fullest with great happiness and joy."

Prove that most atheists are full of happiness and joy --- empirical data is needed here (and BTW how do you define "happiness" and "joy"????). I know firsthand how I 'lived' as an atheist and I know how I live now - I won't revert to atheism again. Academics, theology, scientific examination, philosophy, etc. etc. while all can be meaningful pursuits, are no substitutes for God's pure, unadulterated love.

Take some time to get to know who atheists are. There are at least as many atheists in the world as there are Christians. Most Chinese are atheists. A large fraction of Europeans are atheists. If there really is only one god, the Christian god, then all Hindus are atheists. If there really is only one god, the Christian god, then all Muslims are atheists. True Christians only count for about 15 percent of the world's people.

So, spend a few minutes actually reading what I wrote in that comment back in May. That evidence speaks for itself: atheists are every bit as good as Christians, and, in a great many instances, much, much better.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Hi Russ - I had written another comment as a followup to my other one but somehow it got lost.

I'll just reiterate a small portion of what was lost --

Faith confounds our natural inclination to eliminate/destroy/marginalize/condemn our opposition. So antagonistic circumstances do not corrupt God's love. I don't believe God is impressed or intimidated by adversity but approaches such with invitational grace, which of course can be held in contempt by some and rejected.

I don't know if I misread the stats on Wikipedia, but it appears that approx. 80% of the population of the countries you cited are involved in religion. Even if I am wrong, statistics for faith/atheism are based on a standard that is not wholly divine. While you seem to want to prove something with numbers, by God's standards, He works with a small number of ppl to influence a larger population. Also, by divine standards, faith is not formed in homogenous circumstances or populations. It takes little faith to get along with ppl that are conformed to one another in a small geographical region.

God sees the potential for faith inspite of exterior appearance - while I was an atheist, God loved me. There is a scripture whereby Jesus acknowledges that there are some who will misuse His name for their own conceit - He assigns them a place with nonbelievers. So while statistics may say there are a large population of atheists, I wonder if the statistics can see the potential for faith in these ppl. And while statistics may point to a highly religious population, I wonder if Jesus sees some of these as atheists.

At any rate, I know I am talking to some here who claim the label of atheist but who exhibit potential for great faith to be actualized. So, like God, I am not too impressed by the labels we take on.

Take care,
3M