The Omniscience Escape Clause

We've heard this escape clause so many times before. "My ways are not your ways," an ancient superstitious canonized Biblical text says of God. "How do we know what an omniscient God might do?" an apologist chimes in. It could be how God purportedly communicated to us in ways that are indistinguishable from anything else we see in the ancient world, or the tragedy of the Haitian earthquake, or a child suffering and soon to die from Leukemia. How can we judge an omniscient God's ways we're asked over and over, with an implied "We can't." The answer is obvious. We must be able to understand enough of God's ways to know that his ways are good and that he knows what he's doing. It's that simple. If God does not act as a loving person would do then all we can reasonably conclude is that God is not acting like a loving person would do. And if God does not respond in discernible loving ways when tragic events take place then it looks entirely as if tragic events happen randomly without his ever-watchful eye.

36 comments:

goprairie said...

They claim to know enough about God's ways to "know" that we must believe in Jesus to be chosen to be "saved", to know that we should discriminate against and regard as sinners all gays due to what they "know" certain Bible verses mean, that their morality comes from God making them more moral than us, and all sorts of things that they "know" in order to define and practice their religion, but when caught in an inconsistency, oh, it is all suddenly so mysterious and not ours "to know". An obvious sign that it is all so much made up baloney.

Hendy said...

Love it. Luke @ Common Sense Atheism just posted something similar yesterday about the PoE. He concluded his post with this:

"Christians must embrace an incredible double standard to believe a God of the universe is perfectly good. They must say that many good things happen because they understand God’s ways and he wanted those things to happen, but they must also say that all bad things happen for reasons we can’t know because we don’t understand God’s ways." (emphasis mine)

I think Luke put it well.

This video (link) also puts it well. Check out the whole thing or just watch from ~4:50 for a nice discussion of the trouble between both claiming knowledge of god as well as pleading the mystery card...

Robert said...

There's another problem as well - you just can't make any sense out of life if what theists say about their god is true.

Leah said...

There is another out for Christians, but I think they'd find it equally frustrating. If God does not act in a way that makes his love manifestly obvious, either he is does not exist as a loving being OR he is completely indifferent as to whether we believe him to be loving. You could get from here to an absent watchmaker kind of God, but this quickly pulls you away from most mainstream Christian theology.

--Leah @ Unequally Yoked

J. K. Jones said...

John Loftus,

How do you define a "tragic" event?

JK

J. K. Jones said...

Leah,

But God has suffered with us in the person of Jesus Christ. He is not indifferent in the way you are describing. He became a man, lived, suffered and died to show us that He cares.

JK

Hendy said...

@JK:

If my wife slipped while carrying scissors and impaled herself in the chest, what would be a response signifying love and care?

a) call 911 and use my first responder training to prevent as much blood loss as possible while also being a loving husband acted out by holding her, reassuring her, and being with her through the ordeal until tangible help arrives?

b) quick run and get a knife and begin slitting my wrists in her sight so that she knows I am suffering right with her and, therefore, care?

Many people would expect that a loving god would not have done a sacrificial act once, but would have continued carrying out deeds akin to what we read in the gospels on a daily basis:
- feeding the hungry miraculously (4000/5000 and manna from heaven)
- healing diseases (leprosy, blindness, lameness, deaf/dumbness)
- clearly giving people advice, wisdom, and prophesy to apply to their lives

The lack of ongoing evidence of god's miraculous power given that he is timeless, spaceless, all-powerful, and all-loving sheds considerable doubt on the fact that he exists at all for some. This is especially true when we read things like in John's gospel when Jesus says that it is better for him to go so that the Holy Spirit can come, that we will do greater deeds than him, that we will be protected from venom and poison, that Peter and Paul healed individuals after Jesus was ascended, etc. All of these point to Jesus intending that we would be doing miracles to provide recurring evidence available to all of his existence and power over the world and sin... yet we have none. We would seem to be right in expecting these things... yet many are puzzled as to their non-existence.

This becomes evident when, as John puts it, we employ various 'escape clauses' to veil this inactivity that we would expect in a shroud of 'trusting mystery.'

mindyourmind said...

@ JK Jones

God suffered with us? Suffered how?

Jesus got beat up, was crucified and after three days of being dead rose up, to return to his eternally exisiting position as God, the ruler of the universe.

That's not suffering - that's having a bad weekend.

Try comparing that to the lives that most people lead outside the circles of your cozy ivory tower.

Mike said...

Hendy, great post! You know, that's one of the biggest problems I have with the explanation of Christians for why there is suffering in the world. In the Bible, both old and new testaments, we see God performing all kinds of miracles and intervening in human affairs despite man's free will. Despite that, when Christians are asked why there is suffering today, there's a good chance they will respond with the "free will" argument. Then if you ask them why God isn't acting in the miraculous way today that he acted in the Bible, Christians will respond by saying that he is and we just don't know about it OR they will say something such as "we're in a different dispensation now. God works in different ways today." Well, I'm calling B.S. on these stupid explanations! These are obviously cop outs because deep down there is no adequate answer to this problem.

In my job, I have to teach greek mythology. When I was a fundie, I thought these stories and their accounts of miracles were foolish and knew that they were fiction. Today, I don't see why I should believe the Biblical accounts of miracles any more than I should believe those in greek mythology.

Hendy said...

@Mike:

Agreed on the variance in miracles. It's been quite frustrating for me as well. As with most of these issues it seems to come down to either rejecting the improbable or somehow gulping down possibilities with no evidence to support them.

- there could be a morally sufficient reason for evil
- there could be a reason why god has decreased the proliferation of miracles
- there could be a reason why no contemporary scholars felt inclined to write their own detailed account of Jesus' life and miracles

Very frustrating.

Also, no one has ever presented me with a scripture passages supporting god turning down miracle requests. Jesus never, never, never rejected someone's request for physical healing and instead provided spiritual healing.

Also, with respect to the whole 'don't test god' thing, there are plenty of passages where Jesus prefaces his act with something like 'that you may believe I will do X' or (in the case of Lazarus) 'I'm glad I wasn't there so that you may believe.'

He was glad that he was so late that Lazarus progressed from sick to dead so that the deed done would be even more amazing?! I'm down with that, but to accept this on must do some heavy rationalization to explain why Jesus, eternal and unchanging, has altered his modus operandi and shifted to:

- preferring spiritual healing over what was directly requested
- not delivering immediate results vs. healing someone on the spot
- working through doctors rather than healing without any modern medical assistance (people constantly claim answered prayers in the form of competent doctors...)
- and so on

Very mysterious indeed...

goprairie said...

That's the cool thing about having an invisible friend: You can make up anything you like about them and no one can prove you wrong. And you can put others down for not being able to see your invisible friend. It's cute thing when kids do it.

Marcus McElhaney said...

I have a four issues with Loftus' analysis:


1. Does this mean that Loftus thinks that the earliest copies of Isaiah does not have text we have in Isaiah 55:8-9?


8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,"

declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.


2. How does the fact that people are suffering prove that God is not loving?


3. I agree with Loftus when he wrote:


We must be able to understand enough of God's ways to know that his ways are good and that he knows what he's doing.


How does Loftus know that we can't understand enough of God's ways to know that God is good? Dare, I say that it? Yes, I should. It requires a relationship with God. something an Atheist can't have.



4. How does Loftus know "God does not respond in discernible loving ways when tragic events take place then it looks entirely as if tragic events happen randomly without his ever-watchful eye." Duh! Of course you cannot see God's movement or loving ways if you don't know God. it takes a relationship.

Mike said...

Marcus, how do you have a "relationship" with God? When you talk to him in prayer, does he talk back to you in an "objective" manner?

Marcus McElhaney said...

A Christian has a relationship with God by submitting to God. We know God reveals himself and this is the whole reason Jesus came and died. We are promised the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God does communicate. I often experience sparks of understanding and unctions from God. It's not just persona; revelation because you can check it against the Bible. If it conflicts, I know that it did not come from God.When i pray I do not hear an objective auditory voice. I never really have. Instead its a flash of insight. Epiphanies.

It is based on trust. We obey God and then we see God follow through on his promises.

Hendy said...

@Marcus:

That's interesting.

How are you able trust your initial experience of 'god' as legitimate if you need to cross-reference later experiences with an external source, the Bible?

How did you come to have a relationship with 'the right' god?

Would you share any particular 'insights' or 'epiphanies' that could not have been known without pondering life, thinking, reflecting and the like (aka natural occurrences)?

Ryan Anderson said...

I get flashes of insight. I'm an atheist.

Mike said...

Marcus, it seems to me that what you're saying is that your relationship is with yourself and a book.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Hendy

How are you able trust your initial experience of 'god' as legitimate if you need to cross-reference later experiences with an external source, the Bible?


If the initial experience of God does not conflict with the Bible, then I don't see a problem.

How did you come to have a relationship with 'the right' god?

Again God isn't going to tell me something contrary to what God has already revealed in the Bible. Truth is objective not subjective.

Would you share any particular 'insights' or 'epiphanies' that could not have been known without pondering life, thinking, reflecting and the like (aka natural occurrences)?

One such insight is the understanding of my own sin and inability to stand before a righteous God on my own when I am called to account for my life - things I have done and said. Without Jesus I realized I would be found guilty and deserving of separation from God. But with Jesus there is no condemnation.


@Ryan Anderson
I get flashes of insight. I'm an atheist.

Thank God for the flashes of Insights and truths you get. They come from God. God even blesses atheists. If you seek God you will find God.

@Mike
Marcus, it seems to me that what you're saying is that your relationship is with yourself and a book.

You would be right if the Bible was totally a product of Human imagination. No one likes to admit that they are sinners and that their personal righteousness is no better than dung. It's hard to admit that Jesus is better than us and we need Him. It's not that easy to just agree that Jesus is only way to God. If it were, everyone would do it. No way anyone could just come up with this stuff. Why would the writers include themselves in the condemnation? As A christian, I;'m not saying tha tI'm better than you. I seek Christ because I recognize my own issues and my inconsistencies and failures, not because you have them and I don't. It's not from me at all. My initial experience was God called me...I did not know enough to call on God. God is calling to you now even though you don't see it. I dare you and anyone to seek God with a whole heart, ask for a personal revelation of His power and glory and God will not disappoint you. I know because God has done it for me.

Hendy said...

@Marcus:

---
Me: How did you come to have a relationship with 'the right' god?

You: Again God isn't going to tell me something contrary to what God has already revealed in the Bible. Truth is objective not subjective.

Me: But how could you have known the Bible was true before knowing that the Biblical god is true by your experience? This is completely circular.

If someone already believes in the Koran and has an experience of god, concluding that clearly it was Allah because the Koran is true... will you wholeheartedly support them in their belief? Why or why not?

---

You: One such insight is the understanding of my own sin and inability to stand before a righteous God on my own

Me: I can tell you right now with no 'insight' that this is true. I said something that could not have been known naturalistically. If god exists and is perfect I cannot stand before him either. Try for a prophesy! Tell me what he told you to tell me about my life so I can convert and be done doubting!

---

You: I dare you and anyone to seek God with a whole heart, ask for a personal revelation of His power and glory and God will not disappoint you. I know because God has done it for me.

Me: How do you judge whether one asks with a 'whole heart'? Is it only after the fact as in whether the person becomes a believer or not?

If I tell you that I have asked several times and not received such an insight... will you simply tell me that I have not really been asking whole heartedly?

Would you provide any list of actions I could perform in which you would satisfactorily conclude that I have done all that is possible and yet still remain unconvinced of Jesus?

Mike said...

Marcus, you do realize that your claims are TOTALLY subjective and there is no way of verifying them, right? You are making your claims based on faith, and not on fact. This is not a criticism of you, because that is what religion and especially Christianity is about. Read Hebrews 11.

A Muslim, Hindu or whatever could say the exact same thing as you or something very similar. They would just be substituting Allah for God or Christ or some other god.

And no I realize that I'm far from perfect. In fact I can be one of the biggest schmucks in the world a lot of the time, which I'm working on. But despite the fact that I've realized my own failures and inadequacies, I see nothing unique about Christianity over any other world religion. Besides, according to your Bible, someone like me, who was an evangelical/fundamentalist Christian for over a decade, is an apostate who cannot come back to the truth. (Hebrews 6:4)

Despite my disagreement with your religious beliefs, you seem like a genuinely nice guy who exhibits the values in the Bible that I do find helpful and inspirational. You conduct here is certainly more honorable and Christ like than "District Superintendent" Harvey Burnett, and is more like to win converts than his way of evangelism.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Hendy

But how could you have known the Bible was true before knowing that the Biblical god is true by your experience? This is completely circular.

If someone already believes in the Koran and has an experience of god, concluding that clearly it was Allah because the Koran is true... will you wholeheartedly support them in their belief? Why or why not?


IT's not cirular reasoning because The Bible is objectively true. And I would not support the Qur'an because it conflicts with the Bible on many key points. One of the most important is the fact that Jesus Christ was Crucified and died. History confirms this. The Bible affirms this. The Qur'an denies this. One of many reasons why I have to discount the Qur'an as truth.

How do you judge whether one asks with a 'whole heart'? Is it only after the fact as in whether the person becomes a believer or not?

If I tell you that I have asked several times and not received such an insight... will you simply tell me that I have not really been asking whole heartedly?

Would you provide any list of actions I could perform in which you would satisfactorily conclude that I have done all that is possible and yet still remain unconvinced of Jesus?


I'm not the judge of the Heart. I can't see your heart. God promises that if we seek God with a whole heart we will find God. He is near to each and every one of us. If you can't find God and the Bible is true then you have not seeked God with a whole heart. The Bible also tells us what steps we can take to bring ourselves closer to Him.

1. Believe He exists. (Hebrews 11:6)
2. Meditate on God's Word.
3. Fast for a time - I don't mean Food necessarily but anything that is important to you that you don't really need like Television.
4. Pray
5. Obey and submit to God as much as you now understand Him. God will reveal more to you.
6. Keep on asking.

The Bible is full of things we can do to deepen or relationship with God.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Mike

Marcus, you do realize that your claims are TOTALLY subjective and there is no way of verifying them, right? You are making your claims based on faith, and not on fact. This is not a criticism of you, because that is what religion and especially Christianity is about. Read Hebrews 11.

I don't think you know what Biblical faith is. It's not just hoping something is true without any evidence to back it up.

Hebrews 11:1 says:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It says nothing about faith is believing something even when you have overwelming counter evidence. No. That's stupidity. Hebrews 11 shows how faith works itself out in people's lives and how it is their trust in God. I have lived this myself and found it to be true. You can trust God to do all God has promised.

And no I realize that I'm far from perfect. In fact I can be one of the biggest schmucks in the world a lot of the time, which I'm working on. But despite the fact that I've realized my own failures and inadequacies, I see nothing unique about Christianity over any other world religion. Besides, according to your Bible, someone like me, who was an evangelical/fundamentalist Christian for over a decade, is an apostate who cannot come back to the truth. (Hebrews 6:4)

So you are a schmuck and I'm willing to bet I may be an even bigger schuck than you. We agree. What are you goin' to do about it? What Can you do about it? How are you working on it? Is it working? Will it be enough? Here is an example of how Christianity is different than any other religion. To be a Chrisitian means more than just accepting you suck. It is the promise of having the power to change that. God himself condescends and retrieves His lost sheep because they can't get home on their own. I don't agree with your interpretation of Hebrews 6:4 because a person who truly experienced and recieved the glorious gift the letter describes would have to be an idiot to walk away. And you sir are not stupid. Therefore I've got to wonder about your conversion experience. Look at how the Bible descibes it"

a. New creation (Paul to the Corinthians)
b. Being Born-again (or born-from-above) (John 3)
c. Metamorphosis (Roman 12:2) (like a caterpillar to a butterfly)

The old Testaments describes it as God replacing a heart of stone with a heart of flesh. These are radical pictures of that process. One thing that each of these illustration has in common is that they are all one-way processes.

You can't become unborn. You can't become an old Creation. A butterfly will never again become a caterpillar. Just like a true Christians can't really go back, nor would we want to. I never want the life back I had before I was saved. Therefore it's not too late for you as long as you are still alive. Jesus is still calling for you.

Despite my disagreement with your religious beliefs, you seem like a genuinely nice guy who exhibits the values in the Bible that I do find helpful and inspirational. You conduct here is certainly more honorable and Christ like than "District Superintendent" Harvey Burnett, and is more like to win converts than his way of evangelism.

I thank you for the kind words and you we can disagree without being disagreeable. Pastor Burnett speaks the way he does because there are quite a bit of sharp critics that can quite nasty so they need him to be sharp. Perhaps they will hear, but they need to be shaken from their presuppositions. I appreciate yours and Hendy's much more open attitude. At least with people like you, there can be a dialogue.

Mike said...

Marcus, everything you are saying originates from your premise that The Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God. I no believe that, therefore it is not the ultimate authority in my life. If I did believe the Bible was inerrant, as I used to, I would agree with everything you said 100%, except for your belief that a Christian cannot lose his salvation. I think the Bible goes both way on that subject.

You definitely are well spoken when it comes to the evangelical/fundamentalist Christian faith. The reason I'm not trying to refute you is because what you are saying is based on faith, and when it comes to faith and not empirical evidence, it's impossible to debate. Yes, I'd agree with you that the Bible doesn't tell us to believe in something in which there is indisputable evidence against, BUT it seems to imply that matters of faith are not something that can be proven with empirical evidence. That is why they have to be believed on faith.

Hendy said...

Hi Marcus:

Thanks for explaining your position. It makes more sense now. What types of historical study did you undertake in order to make the claim that the Bible is objectively true?

I have some issues that no one has proposed plausible answers to:
- how the fall can even be figuratively true
- why god would prohibit a woman from coming to the aid of her husband while he was in a fight by grabbing the genitals of his assailant; if she does so, we are to cut off her hand
- why god would prescribe an allowable intake of grasshoppers, crickets and locusts which have four legs; essentially he was saying we could eat the non-existent.

Anyway, I don't want to get into a long biblical debate, but I did wish to bring it up due to your statements on the Koran. To be objective and state that one book is false due to a rejection of something (the crucifixion) you believe to be confirmed by history (which is not even close to unanimous as I'm sure you know) and then permit another book to be infallible which blatantly (in the case of four-legged insects) contradicts known science (far more verified than the crucifixion) is a double standard.

To reject a book because of factual errors requires that you reject the Bible as well.

Lastly, this statement confirmed my thoughts: "If you can't find God and the Bible is true then you have not seeked God with a whole heart."

In other words, the only way to know if I have a whole heart is whether I emerge from this experiment a believer.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Mike

I realize that not all Christians believe that a Christian can loose salvation. I don't think that Christians who believe that are heretical but I do disagree. If you believe the Bible is inerrant than you can't understand Scripture to be saying 2 different contradictory things. Where do you see the Bible saying that matters of faith cannot be proven by empirical evidence? Look at Jesus' earthly ministry. He performed miracle not because He was showing off but to validate His claims.

Believe me when I say I am in the Father. Also believe that the Father is in me. Or at least believe what the miracles show about me. - John 14:11

The Miracles were meant to be public and empirical evidence of truth.

And remember why the Bereans were commended as being of noble character.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. - Acts 17:12

No where are we asked to check our brains in at the altar. Faith isn't believing without evidence or despite evidence. Why do you seem to think that is the case?

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Hendy

I like the questions you are asking. They make a lot of sense.

First, I've been studying history from day one. I have a love of it. One of the things I find most interesting is that Daniel predicted the life of Alexander the great and what happened to his kingdom before Alexander was even born. Greece wasn't even a world power at the time. Persia seemed invincible with no one seeming in a position to change that. A lot of people think that the most of the Bible was written down during the Babylonian-Persian exile and return, However even if you take that position you have to admit that the prophecy came before Alexander was born. I've even heard that Alexander even saw the prophecy during his life time (But that came from HAl Lensey so I take it with a grain-of-salt). Also Isaiah mentions Cyrus by name - you know that Persian king who returned Jews to Judea and authorized the temple to be rebuilt. Isaiah lived 700 years before Christ. All prophecies we can check are 100 percent correct and the others haven't happened yet.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Hendy

As for your excellent Biblical questions that seem to you to show that the Bible contains factual errors, lets look at them closely


- how the fall can even be figuratively true


In effect why would blame for Adam's disobedience be on all of us? I've struggled with that. And the conclusion the Bible gives is that Adam's sinned doomed everyone to a life of sin terminated in death. I look at it as how the mistakes and sins of our parents can affect us and our children. Thinks like if I commit a crime and go to jail, I'm not the only one who suffers - my whole family suffers. It's worse than that because we all deserve punishment because we all have sinned and transgressed God's standard of holiness.

- why god would prohibit a woman from coming to the aid of her husband while he was in a fight by grabbing the genitals of his assailant; if she does so, we are to cut off her hand

This was a law in a theocratic nation. We don't live in this context. I know this scripture and I have even studied a little more commentary on it, but it isn't at my finger tips. When I have more time I will comment more fully on it. Thanks for your patience.

- why god would prescribe an allowable intake of grasshoppers, crickets and locusts which have four legs; essentially he was saying we could eat the non-existent.

The best answer it have found is found here

There are several verses that are translated in our English Bibles to imply that insects have four legs. In reality, the Hebrew word sherets, translated as "insect" is not nearly as specific as the term "insect" would imply. The word really refers to crawling or swimming creatures that tend to swarm together. For example, in Genesis, sherets refers to swarming sea creatures,27 in the flood account (Genesis 7) sherets refers to rodents,28 and in Leviticus, sherets refers to crustaceans,29 insects,30 rodents,31 and reptiles.32 The term sherets was never intended as a biological classification system, so to say that it specifically refers to "insects" is deceptive.

What is common among all the creatures mentioned is that they have short legs and often travel together in groups. In fact, the Bible defines sherets as "crawling on its belly" and "whatever walks on all fours."33 What is common in this group of crustaceans, insects, rodents, and reptiles is that they all crawl on "all four" legs. Some from this group actually have more than four legs. However, the Hebrew idiom "on all fours" refers to any creature that crawls low to the ground on at least four legs. Were the writers of the Bible unaware that insects have six legs? This statement would seem rather silly, but atheists actually make this claim. However, one of the verses clearly indicates that these "four-legged" insects have six legs:

'Yet these you may eat among all the winged insects [sherets] which walk on all fours: those which have above their feet jointed legs with which to jump on the earth. (Leviticus 11:21)

The key part of the verse is the phrase "above their feet jointed legs." The Hebrew uses two different words to describe the "feet" (regel) and "legs" (kera). What the verse says is that these insects walk on four "feet" (their anterior four short legs), with an additional two "legs" that are used for jumping. Therefore, all six appendages are described.


Therefore the Bible is not saying that insects have four legs. The Hebrew is not saying that. But if you only read English (a translation 400 years old) and never looked up what the Hebrews says, I can see how you would be crying "fowl" (pun intended). These are not factual errors you have pointed out. Two are facts that you find difficulty with and the third isn't a factual error. There is much debate about what "sherets" are.

Hendy said...

Hi Marcus:

- Regarding prophecies... one can't simply say they're either 100% or not yet. To make a prophecy a prophecy it should be specifically predictive: who, what, when, where, how.

- Regarding the fall, I more mean how the fall is true in light of evolution. What species were 'Adam' and 'Eve'? When did the get 'souls' such that each's parents had none and they did? How was man protected from pain, death, and harm? If he was protected, what evidence would show that natural disasters and flesh eating bacteria were not present in the world at that time? Was homo _______'s intelligence sufficient to make a significant choice against god and, as such, to earn eternal damnation?

- Regarding the legs thing... sure, maybe. Sounds like a heck of a long convoluted answer which is far from clear as to whether it's accurate when god could have just inspired one to write, 'They have six legs.'

- With the woman case, sure you can get back to me, though the issue is much larger. God is unchanging and therefore his morality is unchanging. It cannot be okay to cut of a woman's hand an 'Show her no mercy' in the old days and to 'Let he who has no sin cast the first stone' in the new. It's just preposterous. This is like God writing 700 laws and then sending his son to rewrite them all anew.

The whole thin is based on a flawed chronology which thinks:
- 6-10k BC: creation/fall
- 6-10k BC - 0: man wanders in sin
- 0-33AD: public ministry
- 33AD - present: we live with access to salvation and the Holy Spirit

In reality, though, we're talking like 100,000 BC for the first man so there was no need to muck around with humans for 10k years when Jesus could have just come then to begin with. We're also having to hold that man knew god intimately in 100k BC, then god went AWOL and then returned to claim his chosen 90k years later.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Hendy

- Regarding prophecies... one can't simply say they're either 100% or not yet. To make a prophecy a prophecy it should be specifically predictive: who, what, when, where, how.

That's exactly my point...the prophesies regarding Cyrus and Alexander the Great and Jesus are that detailed

- Regarding the fall, I more mean how the fall is true in light of evolution. What species were 'Adam' and 'Eve'? When did the get 'souls' such that each's parents had none and they did? How was man protected from pain, death, and harm? If he was protected, what evidence would show that natural disasters and flesh eating bacteria were not present in the world at that time? Was homo _______'s intelligence sufficient to make a significant choice against god and, as such, to earn eternal damnation?


Thanks for clarifying your question. I'm not a young earth creationists and to be honest I don't think that there is any reason to assume that Adam and Eve were anything separate than Homo Sapiens. Before the fall, I don't think that there was anything from which we needed protection. Sin is that bad.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Hendy

- Regarding the legs thing... sure, maybe. Sounds like a heck of a long convoluted answer which is far from clear as to whether it's accurate when god could have just inspired one to write, 'They have six legs.'

The point isn't that the God told the writer to write to write 4 legs when he could have inspired the writer to write 6. The point is that the Hebrew text is inspired not the King James Translation. In order to show that the text is wrong you'd have to show that the Hebrew text has errors not that there are errors in translation in the KJV (to which most would agree).

To make myself clear, I'm arguing that the word should not be translated insects that have 4 legs. As the answer I already pointed to says that there is someting else being communicated.

- With the woman case, sure you can get back to me, though the issue is much larger. God is unchanging and therefore his morality is unchanging. It cannot be okay to cut of a woman's hand an 'Show her no mercy' in the old days and to 'Let he who has no sin cast the first stone' in the new. It's just preposterous. This is like God writing 700 laws and then sending his son to rewrite them all anew.

Jesus did not rewrite the laws. And I will be getting back to you on the reasoning behind that law. Also bear in mind that we are not living in kthe same context as that law when it was given.

The whole thin is based on a flawed chronology which thinks:
- 6-10k BC: creation/fall
- 6-10k BC - 0: man wanders in sin
- 0-33AD: public ministry
- 33AD - present: we live with access to salvation and the Holy Spirit


I disagree with the chronology. The Bible cannot be used to determine when the creation and the fall happened because the geneologies are not complete. Ancient geneologies are not intended to list every single human being. Nor did the ancient readers expect that. Much different today. I can say this because if you compare the genealogies of the kings in Chronicles and Kings, And compare them with Matthew and Luke you will find that they do not match because some name are different or missing entirely because the point isn't meant to list every single person like it is for us in our culture today.

In reality, though, we're talking like 100,000 BC for the first man so there was no need to muck around with humans for 10k years when Jesus could have just come then to begin with. We're also having to hold that man knew god intimately in 100k BC, then god went AWOL and then returned to claim his chosen 90k years later.

I think the idea of 100,000 BC is not the correct date. Second, God was not ignoring humanity before Jesus. I know that is something Hitchens argues. It is silly. To accept this argument means that you ignore the whole Old Testament. The Bible clearly teaches that Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Samuel, Rahab, Ruth, David, and all the others are saved just like we are today -trusting God and His promises even if we don't have the whole picture. And we have more of it than they did.

Hendy said...

Hi Marcus,


I don't know that I want to train wreck this post too much more. I'll focus in on the fall, but do want to add that we don't have prophecies that descriptive. We have a prophecy of a 'mighty king' or one who will have a kingdom and then it will fall shortly after. Is there a number of kings prophesied between Daniel -> Alexander?

Also, with respect to Hebrew vs. English... what the heck do we have English Bibles for if they could have been translated more accurately? I can understand if some word has no exact meaning in English, but to respond to '4 legged insects' and then be told that the Hebrew doesn't say that... just makes one wonder why, say, 'Thou shalt not kill' is reliable either.

Regarding the fall, read up on human evolution. 100k years is generous. Homo sapiens are said to have emerged between 250-400k years ago and the first of the homo genus was about 2 million years ago. Yes... 2 million.

So god only showed up 6-10k years ago?

There are more problems than that: as I mentioned, one still needs to determine when souls were introduced and what evils were or were not present to man as he needs to have fallen from a paradise-like state with perfect union with god to a fallen state.

Mike said...

Hi Marcus, sorry it took me a while to respond to you. In addition to Hebrews 11, there is Romans 8:22-25 and 2nd Corinthians 5:6-8. What these verses seem to be saying, at least to me, is that the expectation that you will be redeemed someday has to be believed by faith. There is no objective or empirical way to prove this. That's why it has to be taken by faith. This isn't criticizing the Bible. I'm just telling you what it is saying. And I'm sure several Christians would agree with me on these texts. Also, wouldn't you say Romans 10:8-10 implies these beliefs about Jesus need to be believed by faith? Regardless of whether Jesus rose from the dead or not, no one can absolutely prove or disprove the resurrection. Sure, we can evaluate the evidence for and against it, but that's all we can do.

You state that you believe the Bible is inerrant. So of course you believe that it can't contradict itself, because you are operating on the premise that since it's the inerrant word of God, it can't contradict itself. Well, I used to have that premise, but I no longer do. And because I no longer have that premise, I now allow myself to acknowledge the various discrepancies and contradictions in the Bible. But as long as you have that premise that says the Bible absolutely cannot contradict itself, you will not allow yourself to see the various problems in it.

Regarding Jesus and His miracles, whether He really performed those miracles is up for debate by various scholars. By faith, you believe he performed those miracles. I'm not so sure and I certainly have my doubts. In the synoptic Gospels, Jesus seems to be critical of people who want to see miracles in order to believe in Him. However, the Jesus in the Gospel of John seems very eager to perform signs so people will believe in Him. So, if you want to say that Jesus performed miracles as empirical evidence for His divinity, it depends on which Jesus of which gospel you are talking about.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Hi, Hendy


I don't know that I want to train wreck this post too much more. I'll focus in on the fall, but do want to add that we don't have prophecies that descriptive. We have a prophecy of a 'mighty king' or one who will have a kingdom and then it will fall shortly after. Is there a number of kings prophesied between Daniel -> Alexander?


I don't think that the post can get anymore trainwrecked than thinking omniscience is a "get-out-of-jail-free" card, but I digress, We don't have any kings prophesied in Daniel between the Persians and Alexander the Great. Read Daniel Chapters 3,4, and 8. Only 4 kingdoms are mentioned. First - Babylonians, then the Persians, then the Greeks, then the Romans. The 3rd kingdom was split up into 4 kingdoms (Alexander was split up among his 4 most powerful generals. And Cyrus was mentioned by Name in Isaiah (Is 44:28, 45:1,13) Most scholars would agree that the Isaiah text predates Babylonian captivity. This would mean I have given two examples of where history would confirm Biblical prophecy.


Also, with respect to Hebrew vs. English... what the heck do we have English Bibles for if they could have been translated more accurately? I can understand if some word has no exact meaning in English, but to respond to '4 legged insects' and then be told that the Hebrew doesn't say that... just makes one wonder why, say, 'Thou shalt not kill' is reliable either.


I'm not picking on the KJV (I like the KJV) but face it we have a better understanding of Biblical Hebrew now and how to translate it than we did in 1611. The KJV translators knew that their translations were imperfect (read the original introduction) as are all translations. AS for "Thou shalt not kill" a more accurate translation is "Thou shalt not murder." How do you know? Don't depend on a single translation. Look at multiple ones. Consult concordances and lexicons. Read commentaries. And above all pray.


Regarding the fall, read up on human evolution

. 100k years is generous. Homo sapiens are said to have emerged between 250-400k years ago and the first of the homo genus was about 2 million years ago. Yes... 2 million.

So god only showed up 6-10k years ago?


I know a lot about the current theories of human evolution. Not all scientists concur. It's not unanimous by any stretch of imagination. Again I'm not a young earth creationist. I believe we can show pretty consistently that the age of the earth is 4.5 Billion years. This is fine Biblically speaking because the Bible does not tell us, nor is there any indication of intent, that we are meant to use it to figure out when the universe or human life began any more than we should be using it to prove when it will end. "No man knows the day or hour." That goes for the beginning and ending.


There are more problems than that: as I mentioned, one still needs to determine when souls were introduced and what evils were or were not present to man as he needs to have fallen from a paradise-like state with perfect union with god to a fallen state.


We know when souls were introduced to humanity. Genesis 2:7

"the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."

The KJV says "living soul". Works for me.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Mike

As a Christian of course I believe that faith in the life, person, and work of Jesus Christ is neccessary and sufficient for salvation. Apart from Jesus there is no salvation. However Romans 8:22-25 and 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 only tells us that faith is needed not that faith contrary to empirical data is necessary. No where in the Bible is faith defined the way you have defined it. Same is true for Romans 10:8-10. And John 8:24 can't be any more clear about salvation. 2 Corinthians 15 is very clear if Jesus did not really rise from the dead, Christianity is a waste of time and energy. If I didn't think that the evidences for the resurrection were strong enough I would not be a Christian.

Also I don't see Contradictions in the Bible because I believe its inerrant. I believe the Bible is inerrant because I can find no contradictions. For example, your explanation of faith does not mesh with what the Bible says about faith. No where are we told to check our brains at the altar. To be fair, many a preacher has said as much..."Never mind common sense or what you think the Bible says, listen to what I tell you." If a preacher ever says that, time to find another church.

A discrepancy does not equate to a contradiction and it has been my experience that with a little study and looking at culture, context, and the original language almost any question can be answered. IT has been 2000 years. Do you really think that there is a single proposed contradiction that has not been addressed? Just a question: Did you look to see how Christians in the past generations have answered such challenges? We live in an unprecedented age where we have so much information and knowledge and opinions available to us.

I have to disagree with your interpretation of Jesus' attitude to miracles. All the places that you bring up the point that Jesus refused or was reluctant to do miracles was in a different context than you have spoken of. Jesus rebuked those who wanted a miracle because he knew no matter what he did, they would not believe and it was the religious leaders. The lay, common people had no problem seeing who Jesus was. It was like Jesus would perform all these miracles and the religious leaders would still ask for a sign. If Jesus spoke to them in today's vernacular it woudl have been:

"Morons! You didn't just see me raise the little girl from the dead? Or the blind man that is now seeing? Or the cured leprosy? Get out here, your are wasting my time?" Go back and look at those situations when he rebuked those who would not believe but wanted miracle after miracle. As for the passage I previously quoted from John, Jesus was clearly telling the religious leaders that they had everything they needed to determined his identity including empirical evidence.

Mike said...

Marcus, if you want me to, I can list specific contradictions. There is no doubt that the gospels give different and opposing details about the death and resurrection of Jesus.

It just seems to me that you have to give really elaborate explanations to explain away obvious difficulties in the Bible.

Look, it comes down to this. No matter what I say, you're going to believe what you want to believe, because you have the premise that The Bible is the inerrant word of God and there is way that it can possibly be wrong about anything. I used to believe that. I don't anymore, and nothing you say is probably going to convince me either. So, we can argue this till we're blue in the face, but it's really not going to get us anywhere.

Marcus, look, if evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity works for you and it gets you through the day and difficulties of life, I'm all for you practicing it, as long as you're not hurting anyone and you're not infringing on my rights. I do wonder about these Christian reconstructionist people, but I doubt you're one of them. There was a time when I found the typical Christian answers to the problems of the Bible and life convincing. Now I no longer find them intellectually and spiritually satisfying. If you do, great! But at this, this conversation isn't getting us anywhere. I do assure you that I will consider the points you have made. Take care-Mike.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Hi, Mike

Marcus, if you want me to, I can list specific contradictions. There is no doubt that the gospels give different and opposing details about the death and resurrection of Jesus.

It just seems to me that you have to give really elaborate explanations to explain away obvious difficulties in the Bible.


I'd like to know what's so elaborate about any of the points I have made. As for specific contradictions regarding the Resurrection, I'd like to see you examples and on top of that why you reject the answers Christians have.

Look, it comes down to this. No matter what I say, you're going to believe what you want to believe, because you have the premise that The Bible is the inerrant word of God and there is way that it can possibly be wrong about anything. I used to believe that. I don't anymore, and nothing you say is probably going to convince me either. So, we can argue this till we're blue in the face, but it's really not going to get us anywhere.

I've stated that Biblical inerrancy is one of my presuppositions. I would still argue that we have enough evidence to be convinced of the Bible's inerrancy. Why is it that your attitude is that I believe what I do inspite of evidence and my own bias, while ignoring your own bias? You have not proved your new worldview to be any more than just that - a bias.

Marcus, look, if evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity works for you and it gets you through the day and difficulties of life, I'm all for you practicing it, as long as you're not hurting anyone and you're not infringing on my rights. I do wonder about these Christian reconstructionist people, but I doubt you're one of them. There was a time when I found the typical Christian answers to the problems of the Bible and life convincing. Now I no longer find them intellectually and spiritually satisfying. If you do, great! But at this, this conversation isn't getting us anywhere. I do assure you that I will consider the points you have made. Take care-Mike.

I'm not trying to hurt anyone or force anyone to agree with me. I have not infringed on anyone's right at all. You perfectly have the right to go to hell and deny God all you want. However, I want everyone to have the gift God has given me - Jesus. I am not willing to sit back and allow people to blindly make that choice without all the information at their disposal. I do hope that you do consider all you have written and what I have written. I'll be praying that God will make Himself truly and inescapably known to you. I don't want anyone to be lost.