God Cannot Exist if Yahweh Didn't.

Yahweh did not exist. He is much too tribal of a god, created the world in conflict with the sea God Rahab, married to Asherah, accepted child sacrifice, commanded genocide, forbid worship of all other gods (didn't deny their existence), and chose Israel like the others gods did to other nations.

145 comments:

Brad Haggard said...

Oh brother,

You shouldn't just believe everything you read, John.

John W. Loftus said...

And neither should you.

Get Thom Stark's new book though and think through it Brad. It contains some of the arguments for the things I wrote here.

GearHedEd said...

"You shouldn't just believe everything you read, John."

Like, for example,...

The Bible?

matt the magnificient said...

so god cheated on his wife asherah when he knocked up mary? what kind of example does that set for christians?

Brad Haggard said...

John,

I haven't read Thom's book (as it isn't out just yet), but when you are familiar with the relevant archaeology (especially Dever's work) and comparative literature, you can tell when claims are overstated.

That is all.

Chris said...

That's all true, but isn't Stark still a Christian? Just not an evangelical.

Rob R said...

What, israelites had pagan beliefs? Where did you find this out? The bible?

Well that's where I learned it! Why would anyone be surprised that Israelites believed pagan heresies when over and over again, scripture says they were unfaithful to God.

Walter said...

I pray that if there is a God, that it does not turn out to be Yahweh :-)

Brad Haggard said...

Did you mean to say "Rahab" instead of "Rahah"?

Thom Stark said...

Yeah, all of the claims Loftus makes about Yahweh in ancient Israelite religion above are true, but it does not follow that God does not exist.

I'm not sure how that logic works.

Brad, I'm not sure how you're reading Dever. As an example of the overstatements or of moderation? :)

As for your comment, anyone familiar with the comparative literature will recognize that no overstatements have been made here (except for the one in the title of the post).

Thom Stark said...

All right, so I just made an overstatement. :)

Not "ANYONE familiar" of course. But I would say that anyone who is familiar with it, who also knows how to understand that literature.

Have you read your Frank Moore Cross and your Mark Smith for starters, Brad?

Thom Stark said...

Oh and by the way, Brad, my book is out just yet. It came out yesterday. :)

Thom Stark said...

Rob R,

It's not just that Israelites had "pagan" (as you describe them) beliefs. These beliefs are also held by many of the authors of scripture, as I show in chapters 4-6 of my book.

John W. Loftus said...

Yes, Rahab, Brad.

Thanks for stopping by Thom.

If we identify Yahweh with God and if Yahweh doesn't exist, then neither can God. That's the logic behind the title of this post.

Is it possible that God could exist if Yahweh doesn't? Yes. But what a convoluted argument that would be. I might as well say the Loch Ness Monster might exist and that he escapes all of out attempts to detect him too. At some point an improbability becomes so large that the word "cannot" best describes that improbability.

Cheers.

John W. Loftus said...

So while the title of this post was an overstatement, it's a slight one.

;-)

Thom Stark said...

"Is it possible that God could exist if Yahweh doesn't? Yes. But what a convoluted argument that would be."

See, that's where we're fundamentally at odds. You assume that a God's existence is something that can be "argued," as if there were some way to show what's behind the curtain, one way or the other.

You know there isn't.

Brad Haggard said...

Thom,

Dever is pretty level-headed except at times when he talks as if he has had dinner with a number of Israelite peasants.

The one issue that really stood out to me was the Rahab theomachy. I think everything else has biblical warrant. Maybe we can talk about it here or by email again (I enjoyed that conversation).

Thom Stark said...

Brad,

That's a helpful clarification. A lot could be added to Loftus's list, of course. But we're not as far apart as I thought.

I agree that Dever is pretty level headed, but in fact he does have a bit of a reputation for overstating the evidence, which is why I thought it was a bit humorous that you chose him. :)

Brad Haggard said...

Thom,

I love reading Dever talk about "liberating" the Israelite peasant.

There is a difference, though, in recognizing what the biblical texts affirm and what they polemicize (is that a word?). For example, (and John, feel free to ignore this because this would hijack the thread), Judges 19-21 is a social polemic, and there is no "moralistic" understanding in the text. I think the same is true for Asherah worship and child sacrifice. Even Zionism comes under sharp critique in the later prophets.

But you probably are in basic agreement with that, so I'll probably email you about Yam/Rahab. I also trolled around your site for the first time in a while, and I think you may have the second most beautiful daughter in the world ;-)

Samuel said...

Woah, woah, woah.

God cannot exist if a particular Semitic warlord deity does not exist.

John. You're losing it. The logic does not follow.

Beautiful Feet said...

The OT folds did not yet have Messiah, Jesus. Jesus said they did the hard work.

If inerrancy claims that the OT is the inspired word of God, it seems as though God's personality changed from the OT to the new. But if, as Jesus claimed, that He came to give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, then we know that it isn't God's personality that changed, but our understanding of Him. Through Messiah, we have enlightenment and understanding that others prior to Him did not have. Even for those who have not yet heard the news of Christ, they can be faithful like Abraham was.

Rob R said...

These beliefs are also held by many of the authors of scripture, as I show in chapters 4-6 of my book.

I will probably check it out.

The only two claims above that I find concerning are the marriage to ahserah and child sacrifice. I know of scripture that John used to argue that. I didn't buy it. I thought the strongest case was from Ezekial 20 where God is said to have given them statutes for child sacrifice to show them that they couldn't live buy them. But it seems to me a reasonable conclusion that God gave them those statutes in the same way that he judged them and scattered them, through the pagans, not through any source that was a legitimate expression of what he intended for them otherwise.

John had other examples but that was what I though was the best example.

I've long recognized that the Israelites were monolotrysts and thanks to Greg Boyd's "God at War" I understand (or at least know there is a good case) that Yahweh is presented in a war with demons populated by pagan God's.

I embrace that scripture used the beliefs of the area to communicate with those people (perhaps even it's cosmology). And I embrace that what is told might not have happened exactly as recorded as history was recorded in a way to make a point. But do I think that any of that means there is there fore mistakes in the bible such that it shouldn't have been written that way, that it should have been written another way and would have been more effective? I don't see that that follows at all.

Regarding genocide, that is a tough pill to swallow. And I swallow it. But I do so because of God has developed his covenant community and our moral intuitions. One fella at this challenged me several times to answer whether I'd embrace those commands if I was in that situation. And the absurdity of that question is that he is asking me given my background and upbringing that is a result of the influence of my culture and church that was part of a devoloping continuum that stretches backto those days. If I was born and raised in those days, I'm sure I'd be more willing to do that. But why would I want to go back to an inferior development when through the teaching's of Christ, we have better ways to deal with evil cultures?

there is also the differing matter of our individualistic emphasis versus there corporate understanding of themselves, something that has also shifted.

I find this is all consistent with moral realism, if not an absolute moral absolutism.

So that's just some of my thought on some of these items John mentioned. I'm sure you go beyond that in your book and I look foward to seeing where else you take this.

Thom Stark said...

Rob,

Ezek 20 doesn't say that God gave them bad commands in order to show them that they could not live by them. It says that they gave them bad commands, by which they could not live, in order to show them that he was Yahweh. In other words, it was purely a punishment for their doubting him, according to Ezekiel. The text says that Yahweh's intention was to make them desolate, so that they would know who they were dealing with.

In other words, Yahweh killed sons for the sins of their fathers.

I'll let you read the book and we can go from there, but you're not quite getting the point of some of the evidence. You've read Boyd's book, and that's influenced you, but Boyd distorts the nature of ANE polytheistic cosmologies. Moreover, there is a progression in Israel's beliefs about the gods, and where they begin and where they end up are contradictory places. It can't be avoided by just accepting that they were "henotheists" or "monolatrous." The elites in almost every nation preached monolatry, and also in every nation most of the common people were polytheistic in their worship.

But by the time of Jeremiah and the Babylonian exile, writers of scripture are denying that other gods even exist. This puts later writers of scripture at odds with earlier ones.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

I don't see the variance between earlier and later writers of the bible as problematic so far as teh denial of other deities...I see it as a progression in revelation adn understanding. If God is active in the world as I believe he is then certainly understanding would progress or we would come to know more either by evidence and or by the revelation of his Spirit.

For the earlier writers to acknowledge multiple deities only for the later writers to deny tose prior deities effacacy or realness is on point IF there is only one true and living God, which I believe the earlier writers affirm.

Thom Stark said...

Well, you can believe what you like. :)

cipher said...

You shouldn't just believe everything you read, John.

Dammit - every time I pop my head in here, even for a moment, my irony meter shorts out.

Brad Haggard said...

Cipher,

I'm just trying to cut through the bluster that I see posted here. Reading one book isn't the same as knowing the issue, unless your speaking on the magical interwebs where a fringe reading or theory can become accepted fact.

trae norsworthy said...

He is much too tribal of a god and chose Israel like the others gods did to other nations
first, this doesn't mean God doesn't exist. second, he didn't "choose a nation". he chose any person who was willing to follow his commands. he chose abraham for a special role.

created the world in conflict with the sea God Rahab, married to Asherah
there were hebrews who strayed from god's commands. does that mean that these legends are true?

accepted child sacrifice
this mischaracterization is beneath even you mr. loftus. you know this isn't the case.

commanded genocide
AFTER what? context is everything.

forbid worship of all other gods (didn't deny their existence)
first, why is this bad? second, it's not that he is accepting that other gods exist. he is saying stop creating idols.

Samuel said...

accepted child sacrifice
"this mischaracterization is beneath even you mr. loftus. you know this isn't the case."
1 Judges 11.

commanded genocide
"AFTER what? context is everything."

If Christians will just admit to being circumstantial ethicists.... well, then Loftus will have one less thing to counter Craig on in the debate that will never come.

Rob R said...

Thom,

I'll let you read the book and we can go from there, but you're not quite getting the point of some of the evidence.

So perhaps what I have to say isn't worth as much without having looked at the book. Nevertheless, I have thoughts on your last response.


Ezek 20 doesn't say that God gave them bad commands in order to show them that they could not live by them. It says that they gave them bad commands, by which they could not live, in order to show them that he was Yahweh. In other words, it was purely a punishment for their doubting him, according to Ezekiel.

I'm not sure what the difference is.

In other words, Yahweh killed sons for the sins of their fathers.

They killed their sons by those laws. And Yahweh allowed them to be subject to those laws since in their faithfulness, they were throwing away their own souls and the souls of future generations. Obedience to God is as sacred as life itself and it is as sacred as the sanctity of our future children especially when disobedience thwarts God's ultimate plan of redemption for the world. And here, God allows that trampling to take form not just in disembodied abstraction but as we are, in the flesh. Perhaps we'd think it'd be okay if God just let these things play out in our minds, if the battle. But God didn't create purely mental beings. Our spirit is very much wrapped up in the body and to isolate the two such as in consequence is in fact an inadequate way to treat the soul.

Yahweh did not take the lives of their sons. Yes, God has done that sort of thing in the final plague of Egypt and with David's first child with Bathsheba. But that isn't honestly what is going on here when they put themselves in this situation at least once when they disobeyed God to begin with and very likely, twice when they performed the act itself. After all, if God's hardening didn't take away Pharaoh's free will and the free will of his councilors (because one time after hardening, they relented when pharaoh didn't) then who's to say that they didn't here. Who's to say that they couldn't have repented?

You've read Boyd's book, and that's influenced you, but Boyd distorts the nature of ANE polytheistic cosmologies.

I haven't read it all. And it wouldn't surprise me if he did distort the ANE, since after all, history is not is primary expertise. But whether he distorted it doesn't really distract from my point. Loftus, in his implicit reference to your work notes that God is presented at war with a pagan diety, I've already embraced precisely that from Boyd's influence and see no need to be scandalized in terms of inerrency. God used the concepts of the people at the time to communicate his message and didn't see the need to immediately correct those concepts since that wasn't a priority, though in some cases, corrections eventually become worthwhile. Why is this an error? I think it's just good communication. This is in fact a common approach to scripture by evangelicals as Harvey Burnett has articulated: progressive revelation.

Rob R said...

Thom,

I'll let you read the book and we can go from there, but you're not quite getting the point of some of the evidence.

So perhaps what I have to say isn't worth as much without having looked at the book. Nevertheless, I have thoughts on your last response.


Ezek 20 doesn't say that God gave them bad commands in order to show them that they could not live by them. It says that they gave them bad commands, by which they could not live, in order to show them that he was Yahweh. In other words, it was purely a punishment for their doubting him, according to Ezekiel.

I'm not sure what the difference is.

In other words, Yahweh killed sons for the sins of their fathers.

They killed their sons by those laws. And Yahweh allowed them to be subject to those laws since in their faithfulness, they were throwing away their own souls and the souls of future generations. Obedience to God is as sacred as life itself and it is as sacred as the sanctity of our future children especially when disobedience thwarts God's ultimate plan of redemption for the world. And here, God allows that trampling to take form not just in disembodied abstraction but as we are, in the flesh. Perhaps we'd think it'd be okay if God just let these things play out in our minds, if the battle. But God didn't create purely mental beings. Our spirit is very much wrapped up in the body and to isolate the two such as in consequence is in fact an inadequate way to treat the soul.

Yahweh did not take the lives of their sons. Yes, God has done that sort of thing in the final plague of Egypt and with David's first child with Bathsheba. But that isn't honestly what is going on here when they put themselves in this situation at least once when they disobeyed God to begin with and very likely, twice when they performed the act itself. After all, if God's hardening didn't take away Pharaoh's free will and the free will of his councilors (because one time after hardening, they relented when pharaoh didn't) then who's to say that they didn't here. Who's to say that they couldn't have repented?

Rob R said...

post 2 of 2


You've read Boyd's book, and that's influenced you, but Boyd distorts the nature of ANE polytheistic cosmologies.

I haven't read it all. And it wouldn't surprise me if he did distort the ANE, since after all, history is not is primary expertise. But whether he distorted it doesn't really distract from my point. Loftus, in his implicit reference to your work notes that God is presented at war with a pagan diety, I've already embraced precisely that from Boyd's influence and see no need to be scandalized in terms of inerrency. God used the concepts of the people at the time to communicate his message and didn't see the need to immediately correct those concepts since that wasn't a priority, though in some cases, corrections eventually become worthwhile. Why is this an error? I think it's just good communication. This is in fact a common approach to scripture by evangelicals as Harvey Burnett has articulated: progressive revelation.

where they begin and where they end up are contradictory places.

What you call contradictory fits any description of progress. Take someone from ignorance to knowledge, from false belief to truth. Which is not exactly what we have here, as monolatry is closer to the truth than basic polytheism. So we have a picture kind of like the progression from newtonian physics (which is pragmatic and describes an appropriate way to operate in the physical world) to modern physics (which is closer and has even more applications).

The elites in almost every nation preached monolatry

So they had some sense that a divided spirituality is a bad one. This is not a problem for an religious inclusivist like me.

Thom Stark said...

Rob,

It seems like you have a strong accommodationist view of scripture. You're immune to biblical errancy!

Yahweh only looks like all the other gods in the ANE because he's an accommodating God. While that may be very polite, it's not very special in terms of revelation, which is fine I suppose.

It just seems pretty disgusting to me, for Yahweh to accommodate to practices that are evil and immoral just so he didn't have to step on the toes of his followers.

It's almost as if Yahweh's message to Israel was: "You shall be different from all the other nations, and I shall be the same as all their gods."

Thom Stark said...

Rob,

You said: "So perhaps what I have to say isn't worth as much without having looked at the book."

I didn't mean to imply that. I apologize if I sounded rude. My point was that I thought you reading of the material was being unhelpfully influenced by Boyd, but I may have been reading too much into your statement that you have read Boyd on the subject.

As it is, you seem to be quite comfortable with the view that Yahweh permitted certain distortions in scripture so long as he corrected them later. That can work in places, but I don't see that point of Yahweh doing that, and I think it becomes quite immoral when it comes to distortions like genocide, human sacrifice, nationalism, etc.

Maybe reading my book will change your mind on some of these things, but if it doesn't, oh well. I don't believe the evidence allows for positions like yours, but positions like yours are often "nuanced" enough that they can withstand scrutiny of the text in light of comparative evidence. To me it seems more like special pleading than anything else.

In your response to Ezek 20, you seem to be immune to the point that God is punishing children for the sins of their parents, something that is decried elsewhere in scripture. I deal with this problem at some length in my book.

If somebody killed my daughter to teach me a lesson, that person would be a moral monster, and the most that it would do to me is terrorize me into submission, having lost all will to live. (The least it would do is fill me with hate.)

That was the point in the ANE as well: to terrorize the population into submission to the will of the gods, represented by the religious elites. That is what the "fear of Yahweh" is.

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Samuel,

As to whether or not Yahweh accepts human sacrifice, all one need to read (if you are a Christian) are the Passion Narratives in the Gospels or Paul’s soteriological in his letters, especially Romans.

Secondly, God is driven by blood, suffering and death as Yahweh demands human sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible:

Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you. The Akedah Genesis 22:1-2

Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. The Passover Exodus 12:29

Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering. ---- When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. Judges 11: 30 & 34




Christians, is there not power in the blod? (Just as the old Gospel song says):
“There is wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb.”

Yes! Wonder working blood power by who…none other then the God of human sacrifice himself; the Father of Jesus who had his own his son murdered to satisfy his ancient thirst for blood!

Cole said...

God's not bloodthirsty. Sin, in and of itself, and the suffering of the innocent, is abhorrent to God. However, when God took into account the universality of things, the death of of Christ was seen by the Father as a wonderful way to demonstrate His righteousness and save sinners. This is what God was pleased about in allowing the murder of His Son. The Father's joy was in what the Son accomplished in dying and in the depth of love the Son had for the Father's glory. When Jesus died He glorified His Father's name and He atoned for the sins of sinners.

So, in one sense God was grieved when evil men murdered His Son. In another sense He was pleased. The only Reason the atoning work of the Son pleased the Father was that He knew that by His Son's bruises and shed blood you and I would be healed and covered in His righteousness by being washed in the blood. God's not some raving lunatic who delights in the sheding of innocent blood in and of itself.

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Cole,

You can dance around like a lawyer (using soteriological language) whose client(God)has been convicted of complicity in First Degree Murder (Planned out an before hand), but the joy God felt is no different than that of the man who murders his wife and child. There is sadness and grief that he had to do it. But He is also please that they are now dead and he can use this murder as plenty for the grief (sins) they caused him. So be it for God too!

If Christians are washed in the human blood of Jesus, then it was God himself who (Like Charles Manson), had his henchmen (the Romans) carry out his murder for his own theological satisfaction.

Finally, if God was put on trial for the death (murder)of Jesus (based on salvation theology), he would be convicted no matter how much you whitewash this crime of complicity murder with perfumed theology!

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

As the refrain in the famous Christian hymn states:

Only believe. Only believe. All things are possible! Only believe.

(Including the theological fact that God did not have his own son (Jesus) murdered for his personal satisfaction!)

Cole said...

Harry,

The Father planned the murder of Jesus in the sense that He permitted it to happen. He allowed evil men to have their way with Christ. He didn't directly cause it. He allowed it to happen for morally sufficient reasons. He's never pleased in the death and suffering of anyone in and of itself. He's pleased in that He sees the larger picture and the good He will bring out of evil. What Satan means for evil God turns it arround for good.

God's emotional life is infinitely complex. He feels everything at once. He's not a bloodthirsty Deity who delights in evil and suffering in and of itself. Such things are abhorrent to Him.

He sees the larger picture we do not. As God He has rights and prerogatives that we do not.

Walter said...

He sees the larger picture we do not. As God He has rights and prerogatives that we do not.

That is the old "mysterious ways" defense. When biblegod does something that appears evil, it only seems that way to our limited, puny human perspective. Not buying it.

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Hi Cole,

God makes the rules. Yet you are telling me God makes rules that is contrary to his very nature: He does not want to kill his son (Jesus), but hey, he’s got to follow the rules too (as if god is a lower god in some theological hierarchy).

Let’s consider another scenario:

Jesus is not crucified by the Romans at age 29 – 33. Jesus lives to the ripe old age of 3 score and 10 (70 years old) and is still teaching and healing in Israel.

The people love him. Yet you as (a messianic Jew) know that from reading the LXX and Hebrew Bible, Jesus must die for the sins of the world and to end the sacrificial system in Judaism.

You know God (Yahweh) is tired of this animal sacrificial system and now wants a “Sinless Human” to change his temperament from judgment to one of love.

You find out that this 70 year old “Son of God” is coming to your town to bless and heal the people.

You are deeply disturbed that Jesus’ role as savior has failed to happen and his blood may never be shed for the world.

You have a fear that, God forbids, he just might die of old age peacefully in his sleep! Then damn it. Then no salvation!

You get a knife and you know what God requires! You know Jesus must be bled for God. You get your change one day as he comes to your village and you catch him 70 year old Jesus is blessing a little Jewish child.

You slash Jesus across his back and again across his chest as he turns to you. As Jesus tries to run, you (under divine inspiration) yell out: “Salvation is mine as well as all believer in my bloody act who accept this event!

As poor old Jesus flees for his life, you continue to slash him until Jesus drops to his knees and begs you to kill him.

You slash him once more and tell him “God wants you to shed all your blood until you die! Sorry”.

As Jesus dies, you leave rejoicing in your newly won salvation fully knowing that you have carried out the will of God, not only for you but the entire world to come!

(But deep down inside your heart, you really feel that it was you who gave the world “Believer’s Salvation” by killing Jesus for God or you are at least 50% responsible for the worlds salvation since you did the act!)

Ira said...

"God's emotional life is infinitely complex."

How in the world would we know such a thing?

It seems to me that speculation as to the emotional makeup of one's preferred deity (for either worship or debunking) is utterly beside the point.

God is not contractually obligated to cease to exist if we can prove he's a bastard, nor is he (or she) obligated to exist if we decide he/she/it is okay after all.

Whatever [exists/doesn't exist] beyond our perceptions [exists/doesn't exist] irrespective of our blathering on about it.

Coming up with clever new ways to think about God that make you feel better about things doesn't change that.

Ira said...

And one more thing...

Actually I just forgot to click for email updates.

Cole said...

Harry,

You're confusing God's sovereign (hidden will) where He works all things together for good for those that love Him with His revealed will. We are to go by God's revealed will. His sovereign will is hidden in mystery to us. We don't know it until it comes to pass. God's sovereign will is His business alone. We don't see the bigger picture like He does. There are ways we are like God and ways we are not.

Rob R said...

post 1 of 2


Thom,

I didn't mean to imply that. I apologize if I sounded rude.

I didn't take it as necessarily rude. I can appreciate it if I just won't get it because you haven't explained something that is a bit much to express in blog comments but more suited for whole chapters of a book.


Perhaps I'm an accomodationist. I don't know. I think the depersonalization of God, the down grading of personal metaphors and dismissal of anthropomorphisms as reality revealing as repugnant (that's the first impression I had of what I would label with the term).

Am I immune to errancy? I almost lost my faith when I thought the best understanding of scripture was the calvinist understanding. And I certainly don't think that the text is infinitely mutable and that any interpretation will do if it is suitable to me. But I do think it is more flexible than many give it credit for, from fundamentalists to skeptics alike.

So God uses some of the concepts of the day to communicate unique truths about himself. It's not important for example to correct ancient ideas about cosmology, about dome skies and perhaps geocentrism. It was important to convey that the creation of the world was a matter of Yahweh's intentions and power, not some cosmic battlefield with God's chopping each other up and having sex and the world springing forth in the aftermath of a divine soap opera. That dome sky thing, it just doesn't make a difference relationally. So with monalotry,

And I didn't accomodate child sacrifice. I don't believe that scripture does either. It seems to me appropriate what the NIV translates, that God gave them over to it, a judgement indicating the terrible depravity of their terrible unfaithfulness. I don't know why one would think that qualifies as an accommodation.

As for genocide, for wicked cultures, I don't believe it was immoral. God wasn't accommodating evil here. He was making a judgment. That it seems horrible to us is because the field has changed and we have changed. Where redemption was not possible, it now is and it is to an extreme demonstrated by the extreme example of Jesus' crucifixion. Judgement is an appropriate response, but now, extreme forgiveness and redemption held out to marauders even if they cut us down is the current plan. If if you think that it's currently fine to wipe out a whole people because of a terribly deep seated depravity, well, you aren't with the program.

As it is, you seem to be quite comfortable with the view that Yahweh permitted certain distortions in scripture so long as he corrected them later.

Actually no, I think that as long as Yahweh got his point across, whatever remained was not necessarily of importance or it wasn't important at the time accept that it was used to get the point across. It wasn't important at that point in the current relationship.

Rob R said...

post 2 of 2



I don't see that point of Yahweh doing that,

Alright, so you don't know why and I may not have anything to say that could convince you. Not knowing why God acts in the way he does isn't an argument (granted, working in this way while promoting absolutely morally wrong matters like nationalism, genocide and child sacrifice would be very pointless, except as I described, I don't believe that it is a moral absolute that genocide and nationalism are wrong nor do I believe scripture promotes child sacrifice nor did God initiate that evil practice (though he did use that evil practice that existed all on it's own from the pagans against his rebellious people)). And that's not to say that we can always punt to mystery indefinitely. After all, mystery and the awe and appreciation of it which is good sometimes can also be used as a cover for bad doctrine. But when the option over mystery is confidence that I think is unfounded, that God could have communicated in a better way, I don't see a reason to worry as I simply see no reason to share that confidence.

I'm not going to pretend to know the full reasoning of God's timing in his revelation, but for personal relationships, development is everything and development happens in stages over time.

To me it seems more like special pleading than anything else.

It seems to me that careful attention to details, attenetion to nuance and legitimately unique situations always will be treated as special pleading.

In your response to Ezek 20, you seem to be immune to the point that God is punishing children for the sins of their parents, something that is decried elsewhere in scripture.

I don't believe they are punished for the sins of their parents. They are victims of the failed responsibility of their parents. And with the broader picture we gain through the new testament of the afterlife, I hardly see any reason to believe that they share in their parents judgment.

Perhaps they are punished in this way though. They live and die as God. The gospels tell us that Jesus identified with the downtrodden. There parents were as the romans who failed their real responsibility to justice as they crucified Christ just as the parents of the children who faced genocide were as the Jewish religious elite who rejected whatever form of grace that was available to them and allowed tragedy to befall Jesus and then all of their people in the fall of Jerusalem.

If somebody killed my daughter to teach me a lesson, that person would be a moral monster, and the most that it would do to me is terrorize me into submission, having lost all will to live.

If you killed your own daughter, if you don't wake up to the depravity you've slipped into, perhaps the rest of your family would wake up and realize how bankrupt your rebellion was. (hypothetical rebellion of course. i doubt that challenging innerrancy even at the level you do even bars one from being a part of the covenant community).

That was the point in the ANE as well: to terrorize the population into submission to the will of the gods, represented by the religious elites. That is what the "fear of Yahweh" is.

But we certainly have a more complex picture than that. Working with 5th and 6th grade boys, I know a few who could use some terror and fear in there lives. But if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, it certainly isn't the middle or the end of it.

Thom Stark said...

Rob,

I'm going to have to refer you to my book. I refute just about every claim you just made in that last two-part comment.

I'm going to have to bow out for now. Too many obligations at present, and no time to write you another book! ;)

Peace.

Rob R said...

fair enough. I just ordered it. It will take me a while to read it though.

Papalinton said...

Cole said: "The Father planned the murder of Jesus in the sense that He permitted it to happen. He allowed evil men to have their way with Christ. He didn't directly cause it."

I say: depraved indifference, a criminal offense under current law.

Sheesh!

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Cole,

When you start this theology of “God's sovereign will.” vs. “God’s reveal will.”; you are using the old Shell Game when our everyday logic is superseded by the fact that neither God nor the Bible can be wrong…in that we just can’t understand the mind of God because contradiction is not an option!

You have not addressed the fact that a beloved Jesus who dies of old age would have meant total damnation for all humanity according to Christian theology.

So, be it the Romans or a lone Jew crazed by reading the Scriptures, Jesus had to go down and go down hard!

Let’s forget the theological “God must be good at all cost” games. Let’s look at God with the logic we live our everyday life in.

Let’s see how a major dictionary found in every lawyers office defines first- degree murder in relation to the death of Jesus:

first-degree murder, The killing of a human being that is willful, deliberate, or premeditated, or that is committed during the course of another dangerous felony. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th edition.2004)

Now Christians want to deny God EVER accepted human sacrifices in the Old Testament, but then totally do a 180 degree flip and claim God’s demand for human sacrifice in the New Testament is totally natural! That's totally BS!

Lawyers are removed from cases when they are emotionally involved with a client because they CAN NOT think clearly. But Christians aren't.

The illogical of theology would NEVER be accepted in a court of law. This is why both religion and the mentally ill cannot be tried in a modern court of law and are given exceptions for their illogics.

This is also why a Poor Old God who gave up Poor Old Jesus is nothing short of a sob story that plays on peoples heart strings!

Thom Stark said...

Rob,

I hope you find it challenging and useful. Thanks for the engagement!

Cole said...

Harry,

It's not a shell game but a fact that is taught in the scriptures.

You are forgetting that God had morally sufficient reasons for allowing the murder of His Son. One of them being to save the whole world. So, clearly the act on God's part is justified in this context.

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Cole,

What’s more, if Jesus willingly laid down his life, then he committed suicide.

Thus, be it murder by a God who is complicit in his own son’s death or suicide on the part of Jesus; both acts are illogical and can live on ONLY in the world of the religious mind.

Sorry, I am no longer committed to the-ology; the mental process of making God logical.

God saves humans by Jesus and humans save both God and Jesus by theology. Neither can exist without the other.

Cole said...

Harry,

God didn't murder Jesus. Evil men did. God permitted it to happen but had morally sufficient reasons for doing so - to save the human race. Giving your life to save the human race isn't the exact same thing as a suicide like you think. Christ was also resurected and sits at the Father's right hand.

Ira said...

Or maybe -- I don't know -- a Jewish apocalyptic sect, to whom the economy of sacrifice was intelligible in a way it is not to us, was trying to make sense of the death of their leader.

Samuel said...

Chippy can exist if Yahweh Didn't.

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Cole,

Here's the wild part about the Bible and its theology:

A. You have a local and limited god called Yahweh who only blessed a local and limited people this god himself named Israel.

B. You have a local and limited Jew named Jesus who believed this local and limited god was his father and, just like this Jesus warned his local and limited Jewish followers to ONLY preach and teach in Israel.

C. Now when this local and limited god (Yahweh) has this local and limit man (Jesus) murdered, this local and limited religion is universal and worldwide.

D. Although there is no proof that universality of this happened, it’s given credence and fact only in the brain of believers. In short:

E. A local and limited Jewish god kills local and limited Jew man equals a universal religion for the whole world.

F. What's more, if you fail to believe this wild claim, an eternal fiery Hell awaits you.

G. Fact is, both the mentally ill and the believing religious person have no proof of their above delusions other than they are convinced in their minds, but this (for them) makes it all the more real!

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Some Major Reasons to Reject Jesus as a Sacrifice:

A. The Roman method of crucifixion, which included the beating Jesus received before he was nailed to the cross was done by non-consecrated pagan gentile men who were not set apart as holy in God’s sight. Plus the fact that Jesus’ beating and crucifixion generally not any different from the thousands of other rebels and criminals the Romans made examples out of. (1)

B. There is no recorded sacrificial animal in the Hebrew Bible that was ever tortured or made to suffer as atonement to God. The animal was ritualistically sacrificed with a knife, and bled to death quickly. Afterwards, its whole body was brunt (or only its fat and organs burnt) with the sweet smell in the form of smoke of the burning flesh rising up to God.

By contrast, Jesus was purposely made to suffer under pagan gentile Roman law (not under God’s law as found in Leviticus 1-18). Jesus was neither quickly killed by proper bleeding, nor was his body burnt as recorded in the Gospels.

Also even the innocent women, children and babies who were slain with the sword at Jericho and Ai died quickly and then their bodies were burnt so Yahweh could enjoy the sweet aroma of cooking flesh.

Counter to this fact, Jesus’ death failed to qualify as a consecrated sacrifice under any of the Priestly laws of the Hebrew Bible. Again, Jesus’ body was not burnt as a human sacrifice as set by the examples in the in the Hebrew Bible (the Book of Joshua), and thus Yahweh (God) could not feast upon the smell of its smoke.

C. No sacrificial animal, be it human or beast, could still be alive (that is resurrected) after the act of sacrifice was completed and still be a true offering to God. Its life (as carried in its blood) was drained and the victim was sealed in death to God forever in the heavens by the rising smoke from the burning sacrificial flesh.

F. No single one time offering ever atoned once for every sin of the Jewish people, much less all those of the entire future gentile world (contra Paul’s theology in Romans).

Plus the fact that Jesus is said to be sinless is only a relevant truth: To the educated religious Jews, he was a Godless blasphemer. To the Christians, he was the perfect sinless lamb of God.

G. There are also two other major factors that would reject the death of Jesus as a sacrifice:
1. Jesus’ blood was shed away from the Temple’s altar on non-consecrated ground.

2. The theology of the late Priestly school that compiled the Levitical Law and controlled the Torah would have never allowed, nor accepted a human sacrifice.

Plus another problem for the early Christians who were seeking to validate the life of Jesus with proof texts from the LXX (and Hebrew Bible) was the fact that the Jewish scriptures (Deut. 21:22 - 23) condemns a person who is hung on a tree as a sinner rejected by God. This problem gives us an insight into just how Paul’s hermeneutics (Gal. 3: 13) reworked the plain meaning of this text when dealing with Jesus.

Finally, the problem of Jesus bleeding to death as he was crucified between two criminals (who were also executed in the same exact same manner) caused a major theological problem. To counter this, medieval artists painted the two other criminals as being simply tied to their crosses (in contrast to Jesus who was the only one the artist depicted as nailed to his cross). This church art work was often commissioned to leave no doubt that it was and could only have been Jesus who shed his blood as a sacrificial atonement for the sin of the world.

Notes:

1. See Josephus, The Jewish War Book 2, Chapter 308 and Philo In Flaccum72; 84-85.

2. J. Milgrom, Sacrifices and Offering in the Old Testament in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: Supplementary Volume, edited by K. Crim ( Nashville, Abingdon Press 1976) pp. 763 - 771).

Paul Rinzler said...

Cole said:

You are forgetting that God had morally sufficient reasons for allowing the murder of His Son. One of them being to save the whole world.

He couldn't think of any other way? Not a single other option that didn't involve cruxificttion? That's the best he could do?! And this is the creator of time and space?!

GearHedEd said...

Lots of stuff bugs me about this story:

1. Yahweh creates EVERYTHING, but isn't responsible for EVIL (he "permits" it, but didn't 'create' it).

2. Yahweh sets the stage in the Garden, places all the props and players, but it was his plan for Jesus to atone for the sins of man "before the foundation of the world", i.e., before "sin" had entered the world ("omniscience", anyone?).

3. Yahweh punishes man for playing the role He had determined for us, and punishes ALL men, even ones who will not be born for thousands of years to come.

4. Yahweh capriciously accepts Abel's offering, but not Cain's, KNOWING that it will cause jealousy and murder, then acts like He didn't see it coming, and that it's all our fault again.

5. Yahweh regrets having created man, because man is "wicked" (as if He wasn't responsible for THAT! see #2 above), and resolves to wipe the slate clean by drowning everything in a huge flood. DUH! Why not destroy everything COMPLETELY, and start over? Is Yahweh limited to only ONE act of creation???

6. Yahweh plays tricks on people, testing Abraham and Sarah to see if they are worthy (What? He doesn't KNOW this ahead of time??? Note well that neither Abe or Sarah have any awareness of Yahweh's intentions, as He only reveals to Abe what his plans are AFTER Abe "passes the test").

7. Yahweh plays favorites, and promotes the fortunes of his choice tribe of ancients, the Hebrews, and allows them to escape the clutches of the evil (and very powerful) Pharaoh, demonstrating how mighty He is.

Right. MY exegesis (read "accomodationist word-bendery") is lacking here...

GearHedEd said...

8. Jesus (having been designated as the sacrificial lamb from "the foundation of the world") MUST be sacrificed, so Judas, the Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, Pontius Pilate ALL had their set pieces that they HAD to play, if Jesus was to accomplish His purpose. Yahweh IS responsible.

GearHedEd said...

9. And if Yahewh IS responsible, and the dogma of the Trinity is "true", then God sacrificed Himself to Himself! How in the wide world of sports does that solve ANYTHING?

How does Jesus magically absorb the concept of "sin" (that Yahweh imposed unknowingly on man in the first place) into his earthly body, and hold it there for Yahweh to "redeem" while he's suffering and dying on the cross?

Absolute magical BS!

GearHedEd said...

10. AND if Jesus was the plan all along, then what was the purpose of the 4,000 or so years inbetween the Garden debacle and the time of Caesar? If you buy the "Jesus" part of the story, then EVERYTHING that happened in that time period (Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc,...) was completely unnecessary.

Riiight... God works in mysterious ways. I heard that when I was 9, and I knew it was bullshit THEN.

GearHedEd said...

Y'all know, when I was a lad, being dragged to church by my mom, I used to wonder why whenever I heard anything about the Old Testament, it was things like, "...and this is where rainbows come from, and why there are no unicorns any more..."

After having read the Bible, now I KNOW why they didn't talk about it much.

Rob R said...

post 1 of 2

gearhed

1. Evil isn't a particular being. It isn't a created thing. it is a way of being. It is something that some created things can do.

2.I don't think you could support that this is necessarily the case biblically speaking. I think there was one verse in scripture where this is an easy interpretation, but I don't buy that it is necessary at all. The incarnation was always planned. But not the atonement.

3. Assuming you were speaking of Adam, there was no reason for the first humans to sin and I challenge you to support this biblicaly. They had free will. If the clock were wound back so those events might occur again, then the first humans might not have rebelled at all.

4.Why would God know that Cain would murder his brother out of jealousy if it wasn't true. If he was free, then it wasn't true that he was going to murder his brother. What was true was that he might and might not murder his brother.

5. Perhaps Yahweh could have started over and perhaps things would have been better. But there is no reason to believe that it would certainly have been better and mercy even amidst judgement is a good thing.

6. Why does Yahweh test people? Because they have an unresolved potential for how they could behave. Doesn't he know how it would be resolved? Why should he if they are free. Again, if they are free, then it is False that there is a way in which they would act apart from the decisions that haven't been made yet.

I realize this may be knew to you. Most of the theological tradition suggests that God knows the entire future as if it was all settled like the past. But that is dubious not just philosophically speaking but biblically speaking as well. No where does scripture imply that every future event and every future decision is already settled. Even prophecies are open ended. jerimaiah 18 eplains precisely that.

7. Yahweh doesn't choose the Jews for the Jews' sake. He chooses them for everyone else. He said that to Abraham, that the world would be blessed through his descendents.

Rob R said...

post 2 of 2



8. I don't buy that any one of them had to play the roles that they played. Perhaps the roles were determined, but not the players. The gospels were clear that there were indeed good Romans and good Jewish Leaders. If the ones who crucified Christ had been obedient to god prior in life, perhaps they would not have had those roles and God would have orchestrated others to play those roles. And given the way the world was for thousands of years, it was probably a statistical necessity that such people would have the rebellion in order to be placed in those roles.

One might make the case that Judas had to betray Jesus as one of the apostles, probably Peter if memory serves me said that a scripture had to be fulfilled. Fulfilled in light of what I ask (given that it was I believe a psalm and not an explicit prophecy) and when was it determined that the role had to be fulfilled. And even then, again, why did the boy born Judas have to grow up to fulfill that role. I see no reason to think that Judas was always predestined to this, but if he hadn't been such a conniver, and Jesus had to die in the way that he did, and he had to be betrayed by one of his own (none of which I consider established), then somone else would have been choosen as the betrayer.

9. Here again, as with evil, you are reifying sin, as if it were a substance. but as to why Jesus had to die on the cross, there are many reasons to think he had to do so, but it's not like we have full understanding of this nor that a discussion of atonement in such a short space would be satisfactory. It's like demanding someone to defend the workings and reasoning behind quantum mechanics in a short space, a subject which is still a matter of ongoing research. But take your pick, of penal substitution, Christus Victor, Moral example theory and so on. I say that the atonment embodies God's willingness to suffer because of us, for us and with us and this is part of what redemption is about, about sharing in the sorrows of the world to rebuild what was lost. Another great work on how suffering and the death of innocents can bring about healing and redemption amongst strife was written by Shakespeare. It's called Romeo and Juliet.

Furthermore, the death and ressurection of Jesus represents the triumph of God and Jesus over evil in that the world, in it's perverse twist of justice and authority. Jesus faced the worst that the world could throw at him and he got up and walked away demonstrating that nothing could stop him. Furthermore, it meant something to the Jews, that the ressurection of Jesus was the ultimate vindication that he was who he said he was. So this event was very pregnant with meaning for the redemption of the world.

10. I don't know why redemption had the lead up to it that it did, but it's not like it can't make sense. As I said to Thom on a different matter, i don't necessarily have the final authoritative answer on why God did it that way, but there's no reason for me to have confidence with you that if he had done it another way, it would have been better. There just is no way to support that.

And also as i pointed out to him, personal relationship is everything and relationships develop in stages over time.

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

GearHedEd,

This is why God gave up on the Bible and inspired men to write orthodox creeds. God wants to explain things as simple a possible.

For example, below is the Nicene Creed that sums up everything Progressive Revelations and Biblical Dispensational Truths don’t make clear.

God has led me to re-write this creed in a very simple form so all could be saved! (So now if you face the fires of Hell as a heretic, you can’t say I didn't spoon feed you the orthodox faith!)

The Nicene Creed for Dummies

God the Father; God the son; God the Holy Spirit: These three in One. Very God of Very God being of one substance (Homoousios), begotten not made, True God from True God. This very same True God was born by the creature He created (Theotokos: God Bearer or when the Creator created the creature who, in turn, created the Creator in sinful flesh yet without sin): Mary who herself was impregnated by her own Father God so He could be born into the very fallen world of sin the Creator so detested and cursed the created creatures with. In so doing, He became flesh and dwelt among us, but to correct the very Fallen State the Creator cursed the creatures with, the Creator had Himself killed so He as Very God of Very God could shed His own sinless blood for Himself (Creator-Creature atoning to Creator) in order that He could finally accept the world the Creator created in His perfect mind which the Creator had fully planed with fore-knowledge before the foundations of the earth (Gospel of John Chapter 1). The Creator is now seated at the right hand of Himself while making inter-secession to Himself for the fallen creatures of which he had foreknowledge (Supralapsarianism) of before He created the foundations of the cosmos. He, Himself, will now come again to receive this, His fallen creation, unto Himself by re-creating a New Heaven and a New Earth in which the redeemed fallen creatures will also rule with the Creator in a New Jerusalem filled with the very items (Gold and Emeralds: Revelation 21) which produce the greed and lust of the fallen state of the creature the Creator condemned in the old eternal Covenant now replaced with the new eternal Covenant.

Now, may God Bless is my paryer.

Cole said...

Rob R,

You said that there may be one scripture that shows the atonement was planned but you don't buy it. How would you interpret this passage? I'm not sure it's the one you are refering to but it seems to clearly teach that it was planned. I'll change my view if you can help me out here.

Acts 4:

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

GearHedEd said...

@ Rob...

Pretty much all the things you said require picking apart individual words from dead languages with zircon-encrusted tweezers, in an effort to make the Bible say the things apologists want it to say.

Tell me why a literal reading isn't acceptable.

GearHedEd said...

I've been an atheist for roughly 40 years, but that doesn't mean I know nothing about the material.

Rob R said...

Cole, without reading what I said, it's not impossible that what I fully meant was lost to my lack of proofreading. That happens quite a bit to me.

The atonement was planned. But I see no reason to believe that it was planned before humanity rebelled. Even then, perhaps it could have been planned as a contingency, but not as a certainty. There is no reason to believe that God's original creation was so flawed that it was destined to break. He created a truley free creation for many good reasons with true responsibility because they really could have remained faithful. They really botched it up due to their own failures that originated with them, not through some inescapable plan that they had no hand in designing.

So sure, as Acts four says, it was predestined. Predestined when? That it was predestined before the foundation of the earth is not implied here.

The verse that I have dealt with in the past that could easily be taken the other way was from an epistle of Paul's or hebrews.


Gearhed,

Literal interpretations are perfectly acceptable, when they are appropriate. The bible is like everything else, including the posts we might read from Gearheded. Metaphor and literal language are intertwined, and concept metaphors structure the way we think including the way language is used.

GearHedEd said...

Well, I think it's always appropriate to read it literally. Who am I to decide that 'the word of god' isn't what it seems on the surface?

GearHedEd said...

Where I got that 'from before the foundation of the earth' stuff isn't a direct bible quote. Other Christians have said this, and once, back in the late 1980's, I attended a Bible study class for a few weeks, until I moved away to a distant town. One of the classes said that there's a verse in Genesis that 'foreshadows' the coming of Jesus, but I didn't highlight it, and now I can't figure out where it was (the reasoning was pretty convoluted, as I remember).

GearHedEd said...

Which is it, Rob?

To me: "2.I don't think you could support that this is necessarily the case biblically speaking. I think there was one verse in scripture where this is an easy interpretation, but I don't buy that it is necessary at all. The incarnation was always planned. But not the atonement."

To Cole: "The atonement was planned. But I see no reason to believe that it was planned before humanity rebelled."

Rob R said...

Well, I think it's always appropriate to read it literally. Who am I to decide that 'the word of god' isn't what it seems on the surface?

Well I think the text deserves to be understood on it's own terms.

Who am I to to read the word of God in a certain way for no other reason than Ed tells me to read it that way. And that is all you have left me. It's not like the bible says anywhere "read this literally". No, Scripture uses the metaphors and idioms of the day. It communicates with normal human language and normal human language is steeped in metaphor no matter what culture or specific language we are speaking of.

By the way Gearhed, much of what I said doesn't have a whole lot to do with metaphorical language vs. literal language. Did you have a specific Bible verse in mind that was relevant to what I said? Much of what might be taken against what I said is a matter of a limiting context. And some of the scriptural vs. I've used to support my view has resulted in others calling me a literalist!

Other Christians have said this, and once, back in the late 1980's,

Yes, well if we compare Christians to physicists who work with Newton, we could see that they may be right about a lot, but there is more to the story. And there will always be more to the story until the eschaton. God will never quit teaching the church.

One of the classes said that there's a verse in Genesis that 'foreshadows' the coming of Jesus, but I didn't highlight it, and now I can't figure out where it was (the reasoning was pretty convoluted, as I remember).

Jesus was always going to come. The question wasn't whether he was always going to come. The question was what role he was going to play. He plays several. He is our redeemer. But naturally, if there was no sin, there would be no need for a redeemer and there really might not have been sin. But scripture also speaks of Jesus as the bridegroom of the church and as our priest and king. These speak of the incarnate son as one who connects us to God as one of us. There is no need for redemption with these roles. Had we not sinned, there is no reason that God would not come among us in this way anyway. He wouldn't come amongst as redeemer as it wouldn't be needed. But he would come among us as the bridegroom to God's people, our priest, and for God, there is an intimate association with his creation by living as part of it.

This is also the answer to your last question.

GearHedEd said...

What if...

Maybe...

Perhaps...

If scripture is THAT flexible, then what is anyone supposed to believe?

I'm not the one who says that it's the inspired revelation from God hisself; it's the Christians who say that.

Then, they tell us that it must be interpreted, and that they (the Christians) are the only ones who have the "proper exegesis" skills to frame it correctly.

There are things in the scriptures that are definitely NOT metaphors, that we are repeatedly told we have to accept as allegory, moral fables, parables, etc...

Example: Gen 4: 3-5. No reason given.

How much mare can I find, if I bother to LOOK?

GearHedEd said...

That's 'more'...

Rob R said...

What if...

Maybe...

Perhaps...

If scripture is THAT flexible, then what is anyone supposed to believe?


How flexible? What is so unreasonable here? it's not like we are speaking of a huge difference here. Most classical Christians believe that Jesus was predestined to come? I agree. Most classical Christians believe that God knows everything that can be known. I agree. For whatever other disagreements may have been in sight here, there are far more agreements to be had.

And so what if there is a puzzle here for the church as a whole to work on? Why should that be inconsistent with divine inspiration? It's not like it's any different from say nature which we also say is from God. But puzzles abound there as well which we are to use our best minds and efforts to figure out.

I see this all the time from skeptics. Scripture isn't obvious, or what's obvious isn't the best way to understand it, or it's just hard to work it out so we shouldn't. But this is just intellectually lazy and does not resemble a serious criticism.

Then, they tell us that it must be interpreted, and that they (the Christians) are the only ones who have the "proper exegesis" skills to frame it correctly.

Exegesis is a work in progress, and insight can arise from even non-christians (generally not the ones you meet at atheist blogs though).

There are things in the scriptures that are definitely NOT metaphors, that we are repeatedly told we have to accept as allegory, moral fables, parables, etc...

If it's so definite, why doesn't everyone agree with you?

Example: Gen 4: 3-5. No reason given.

I don't know whether it's metaphorical or not. And you know what? I am very unconcerned about that. I believe it is true, I believe that at least, what is the case here is that we learn that the giving of plant life wasn't as meaningful as conscious animal life. So we see the beginnings of the sacrificial system which would demonstrate that we need to connect the loss of life, the loss of innocence and goodness with sin if we are to find redemption. It makes concrete the destruction that rebellion causes.

And we see that we are not to be mastered by jealousy, that it is not bad to recognize a better work that someone else did, that rather we should learn from that, not sulk in our bruised ego.

But whether or not it took place in concrete reality, I don't see why that should be a pressing issue.

How much mare can I find, if I bother to LOOK?

Well, I'm not up for infinite tangents. I don't know how we got on about this, but if what I said isn't satisfactory, then that should be focussed upon. But if it was, it deserves to be recognized if you value progress in discussion. Ignoring what has been answered and always seeking for the next problem seems to me more about an insecurity than dealing with these topics on there own terms.

Breckmin said...

"God cannot exist if Yahweh Didn't"

The problem is with your God concept and false understanding of YHWH which is apparent in what you wrote after "Yahweh did not exist."

Even if you could give an inexact representation of the God of Abraham...this doesn't invalidate agnostic theism.

Clearly we are the product of "a" Creator. Information doesn't come from no where. A template of information is always needed and these clearly come from intelligence.

An uncaused intelligence, however, is NOT just "information." So there is no infinite regress in an Uncaused Cause or an Intelligent Originator of information, etc.

Also, you would have to be omniscient about everything in the universe in order to deny the possibility of "a" Creator/God.

This isn't too difficult to figure out the fallacy.

GearHedEd said...

Me: "How much mare can I find, if I bother to LOOK?"

Rob: "Well, I'm not up for infinite tangents."

Infinite, indeed. That would be a LOOOOONG chat.

But here's what I'm seeing, and don't take this the wrong way, but...

You have a book. It was written a long time ago, presumably by some men who were "inspired" to write their thoughts down by the Creator of the Universe.

Personally, I find that ridiculous on the face of it. There was no purpose behind this "act' of creation ("...and God saw that it was good." But he allowed evil, or knew that evil would happen; and whether he directly caused evil or stood aside and let his creation engage in evil doesn't matter--the Creation was no longer wholly "good", especially as pertains to the pinnacle of this creation: man.)

What I'm saying is that the book details a story in which we humans were set up to fail, punished for failing, will be punished some more if we don't accept the cure... In other words, we are NOT responsible for this condition imposed upon us by agency of a myth, we need no redemption from this mythological condition, and you believe these things are true because you choose to believe them, based on some words written a long time ago.

I don't hate god. I don't hate you, or any other Christians. But what I do disagree with is the notion that we humans, while we're HERE on this earth, can't seem to make efforts to make THIS world a better place, but instead wish for rewards in a mythological afterlife.

Religious groups and their disagreements have been detrimental to our planet for a long time now, and antiquated thinking isn't changing things for the better.

The book should have been noticeably clearer, if the Creator wished for us to live in peace and harmony. And there should have been only ONE book, not hundreds.

GearHedEd said...

Or, in other words:

People are generally decent, but religion is contemptible.

Thom Stark said...

Ira,

How long do you think these two can go on talking past each other?

Lvka said...

Yahweh did not exist. He is much too tribal of a god


Scientists do not exist either. They are much too tribal of a people, taking "guinea-pigs" out of a countless number of individuals of a given species through a certain process of (s)election, and then experimenting on them for an inordinate amount of time, until FINALLY deciding to let anyone else in on what they were up to, and sharing the fruits of the experiment with the rest...

Breckmin said...

"He couldn't think of any other way?"

Of course an omniscient Creator could think of other ways...but this way was a beautiful display of His Love through suffering.
Question everything.



"Not a single other option that didn't involve cruxificttion?"

If God becomes a Man and allows men to wrongfully kill Him - does it really matter whether it is crucifixion or some other form of suffering and death (that could have been equally hidden in the scriptures?)
Why does it have to be any different than it was? Your appeal to other options fails to deal with all of the choices and circumstances that led up to the Jews having the Roman soldiers commit this act of evil against Him (an evil act that God has turned into the greatest GOOD and salvation for men - sic - the dual reality of evil).

"That's the best he could do?!"

The Infinite Creator becomes a Man and gives His life and you still want more..... what better demonstration of LOVE is there than a Man Who lays down His Life for His bride.

"And this is the creator of time and space?!"

Incredible that He would suffer under finite evil men when He didn't have to...but chose to do so willingly. The Infinite Creator becomes a baby and gives His Life for the eternal glory of Love.

That's enough for me. Sign me up and I will worship this Infinite Creator forever! (because I know how wretched a sinner I am and how I have transgressed against the Law(s) of God.

Ira said...

Until one of them dies or Rob gets raptured, I'm guessing.

Walter said...

Of course an omniscient Creator could think of other ways...but this way was a beautiful display of His Love through suffering.

Your god demands too much blood and suffering to be anything other than reprehensible to me.

Question everything.

I am certainly questioning your beliefs.

Russ said...

Rob R,
You said,

How flexible? What is so unreasonable here? it's not like we are speaking of a huge difference here. Most classical Christians believe that Jesus was predestined to come? I agree. Most classical Christians believe that God knows everything that can be known. I agree. For whatever other disagreements may have been in sight here, there are far more agreements to be had.

Yes there is an enormous difference however much you choose to ignore it. We would get lost trying to ferret out what your descriptor "classical" means in classical Christian. Then, too, we'd have to leave the real world in order to pretend we could understand your explanation of how "classical" is synonymous with "the correct version of" when it comes to the varieties of Christianity. For you "correct" Christianity is simply what you claim to believe.

Hell, Rob, you Christians can't explain what it means to believe. When a seven year old child is socially pressured to say she believes, and is whipped into the emotional high called being "born again," is that what it means to believe? Does anyone care that a seven year old child has no idea what she means by believe? How do we know she doesn't? Because you and those like you who have studied philosophy and theology specifically for the purpose of telling us how these things work observably have no idea yourselves. Do you seriously think any child at their confirmation understands their oaths to "believe" when the professionals they look to don't know have a clue about it themselves.

Beyond these things, the specific content of what two different people believe is never the same.

You say, "For whatever other disagreements may have been in sight here, there are far more agreements to be had," but that, too, is only your wishful thinking. Every religious concept you think you hear people claiming to "believe" is a mere word onto which you project your semantics, allowing you to imagine your illusory concurrence. Your fellow same-named Christians do not believe what you do Rob R, and neither is their notion of "believe" the same as yours.

It's a fact that US Christians give more time to reading their horoscopes than they give to reading Christianity-related materials. US Christians spend more time reading psychics like Sylvia Brown than they spend reading about their religion. This includes all your "classical," and therefore by your imagining "correct," Christians. For all your formal training in philosophy and all those decades you've toiled jamming the mismatched puzzle pieces of your religion into the Salvador Dali faith you've fabricated for yourself, you always leave out the real-world facts and figures. You always fail to account for others not being like you and you allow other's words, irrespective of the semantics they've formulated, to suggest that they agree with you. If they say the same word you use, you count them on your team, but they do not believe what you think they do.

From [http://www.theologicalstudies.org/page/page/1572910.htm]


How about knowledge of the Bible? According to Gallup, "Despite the impressive statistics concerning Bible reading and study, it is apparent that ignorance about its contents is widespread." [8]

He gives evidence for this conclusion:
-- Only half of adults interviewed nationwide could name any of the four Gospels of the New Testament.

-- Just 37% of those interviewed could name all four Gospels.

-- Only 42% of adults were able to name as many as five of the Ten Commandments correctly.

-- Seven in ten (70%) were able to name the town where Jesus was born, but just 42% could identify him as the person who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. [9]


In one study,

-- 12% of adults believe that Noah's wife was Joan of Arc.

Russ said...

Rob R,
Only half can name even one of the gospels? Only 42 percent could name the person credited with the Sermon on the Mount? They do not know what they say they believe and you do not know what they believe either. The words do not say what you imagine them to.

Rob R, these are your "classical" Christians. Obviously, your fellow same-named "Christians" do not think about their religion like you think about yours and the content of their belifs is not the same as yours, no matter how much you yearn for their words to suggest semantic synchrony.

You say,

And so what if there is a puzzle here for the church as a whole to work on?

Rob R, you are completely out of touch with what theological notions your fellow Christians hold.

Again from
[http://www.theologicalstudies.org/page/page/1573625.htm]


Theological Illiteracy in Christian Denominations

Barna has gone to the heart of the matter by researching the beliefs of churchgoing denominational members in America. The results are shocking—a profound lack of belief in essential Christian doctrines.

In his study of the beliefs of mainline Protestants (including Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians), Barna documented a rejection of key Christian doctrines. Only 35% of mainline Protestant church members believe Christ was sinless; 34% believe the Bible is totally accurate; 27% agree that works don’t earn heaven; and 20% believe Satan is real.[8]

Denominations which are more evangelical report higher levels of commitment to key theological truths than their mainline counterparts, but large percentages of people in these more theologically conservative churches still deny essential Christian doctrines.

Of Baptists (any type) in America, only 34% believe Satan is real. Only 43% believe that works don’t earn heaven. Although most Baptists affirm that Christ was sinless and that the Bible is totally accurate, the majority is not strong. Only 55% affirm that Christ was sinless, and 66% hold that the Bible is totally accurate.[9]

Of nondenominational Christian churches, Barna reports that 48% believe Satan is real; 60% say works don’t earn heaven; 63% affirm the sinlessness of Christ; and 70% believe the Bible is totally accurate.[10]

According to Barna, the denomination with the highest commitment to essential Christian doctrines is the Assembly of God denomination. In the AOG, 77% believe the Bible is accurate; 70% believe Christ was sinless. Yet only two-thirds (64%) affirm that works don’t earn heaven. Only 56% believe Satan is real. So even in the most theologically committed denomination, large percentages of people still deny essential Christian doctrines.[11]

Barna is particularly concerned with the number of people in Christian churches who deny one of the most essential of all Christian doctrines—the sinlessness of Christ.

“Literally millions of Americans who declare themselves to be Christians contend that Jesus was just like the rest of us when it comes to temptation—fallen, guilty, impure, and Himself in need of a savior.”[12]

Paul Rinzler said...

Breckmin wrote:

but this way was a beautiful display of His Love through suffering.
Question everything.


Don't mind if I do.

You think suffering is beautiful?! I rest my case.

The Infinite Creator becomes a Man and gives His life and you still want more


Not more, just better. Just something that would be representative of an Infinite Creator.


..... what better demonstration of LOVE is there than a Man Who lays down His Life for His bride.
Uh, a demonstration in which the love is demonstrated just as well, but without all the gore and death. That would be better.

Unless you think that all those loving couples out there haven't really yet experienced the love of their partneer because the partner hasn't died for the other yet.

Russ said...

Rob R,
What does it mean that large percentages of people in these more theologically conservative churches still deny essential Christian doctrines.

We are not talking about Bible trivia, here, Rob R. We are talking about the real meat and potatoes theology stuff. The stuff that marks you as damned in Yahweh's eyes.

These same variations are shown across the Roman Catholic half of Christendom also. It's not just Protestants who appear so confused about what they believe.

If it is the case that one must "believe" certain very specific things to be on a particular god's good side, and if you know what those things are, then you might be the only one who holds all of those beliefs.

You piss and moan here about what you see as a lack of philosophical rigor while at the same time you wallow in the religious lexical slop you like, ignoring the fact that semantically you and your same-named fellow Christians are not speaking the same language.

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Lvka,

Of course people who believe in dragons and miracles of Saints (St. George in particular) would find offense here at DC.

Lvka, did you attend Hellenic school at the Orthodox Church? Did you learn your Greek and where you told that the Greek Orthodox Church is the true original Church founded by Jesus and the Apostles?

Little wonder with miss-information like that, you have hard time here at DC!

So please tell us Lvka, is the Baptists form of worship correct?

Will Protestants go to Heaven (Contra Father Tom!)?

Lvka, if Protestants do go to Heaven (Again, contra Father Tom), just why do you waste all the time and energy on Sunday in long strung out rituals (with incense and liturgies) when you could be kicked back and enjoy a ¾ to one hour service worshiping God with contemporary Christian music?

How about Greek Orthodox Lvka? Do you want to answer some questions about the Greek Orthodox Church and their Holy Icons and Saints, or do you just want to post hit and run statements because you know the Orthodox faith is bigoted and biased and can’t be defended today?

Waiting, Lvka. Waiting.

Lvka said...

LOL! (I'm Romanian, man, I've told you that already..) :-)

I.. never enjoyed Protestant worship.. It seemed.. empty. Their smiles seemed.. empty.. Anyway..

The reason I post "hit and run statements" is because -after years of debate with a person, or a group of persons-, it's kinda futile to insist too much any longer. When everything's said and done, only silence remains.


Waiting, Lvka. Waiting.

Indeed...

Paul Rinzler said...

breckmin:

The Infinite Creator becomes a Man and gives His life and you still want more

Me:

Not more, just better. Just something that would be representative of an Infinite Creator.


I got led to something irrelevant with my reply above.

The point isn't that I want more from God, it's that I want more sense and rationality from people who believe in God when they claim that it's reasonable that God *had* to murder his own son (who is also himself) to save the world, because there could not have possibly been another way without that murder.

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Well, Well, Well: Mr. "post and run" Lvka has finally been called out and forced to hold his ground on Orthodoxy.

First off true Christian Faith Orthodox Lvka, you did NOT answer a single question I asked above. All you did was side-step the issue like a politician caught with his pants down! Great work, buddy!

What is so amazing about you true and original Orthodox Lvka, (you need to be Sainted in your church since you have posted an actual Miracle here at DC in that, just like Jesus) you can read people’s minds and KNOW their true feeling and thoughts:

I.. never enjoyed Protestant worship.. It seemed.. empty. Their smiles seemed.. empty..

This is truly amazing Lvka!

Hey, if I become an Orthodox (who have the true and original faith given by Jesus and the Apostles), can I read other Christians minds too?? Or is this only with the Romanian Orthodox?

So let me ask you once more: Will Protestants go to Heaven (Contra Greek Orthodox Father Tom!)?

For starters, we just might consider your Blogger Icon of Martin Luther with the subscription at your website:
AETHERNA IPSE SVAE MENTIS SIMVLACHRA LVTHERVS EXPRIMIT AT VVLTVS CERA LVCAE OCCIDVOS
equals
(My journey from being a failed perfectionist to becoming a perfect failure.) (Martin Luther)

Since I was a Lutheran (ELA) for 22 years, please tell the bloggers here at DC (Using Luther’s Works) just where he made that quote! Waiting for Orthodox truth here or is this just another fabrication like the lives of the Orthodox Saints and their miracles?

Secondly Mr. Romanian Orthodox Lvka: Are or are not the lives and miracles of the Orthodox Saints (St. George in particular) just as true as the lives and miracles Biblical Canon? In short, are or are not the lives and miracles of Orthodox Saints just as true as the Gospels claims about Jesus?

Isn’t it a fact that your usual “Post and run” commit above entitled “Scientists do not exist either.” Could just as well be used to defend Orthodox Saints and their miracles?

I know it’s not your nature (even as a member with the Original Church and holding all the total truth you Orthodox have), but let’s you and I engage in some hard dialogue here at DC (and please don’t post links to more off-the–wall You-tube sites. This is what the troll DM does all the time.)

Or will you turtle back in your Orthodox shell and wait to post more "hit and run" coments on a new topic???

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

One more thing Lvka,

I must confess, I have debated run-of-the-mill Christians for the last 3 years here at DC, but I have never, never had the wonderful privilege and joy to debate someone who is an Orthodox Christian whose church is the True and Original Church and one that, if Jesus should come back today, he would make a bee-line to and hug the Metropolitan or Archbishop and thank them for keeping all the truths “Once delivered to the Saints”.

Glory!

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Lvka,

When reading your comments, I get the feeling you are a female.

Your pattern of posting and leaving follows that of many females who comment here at DC.

ildi said...

Lvka: My favorite Leonard Cohen song (and video) is Closing Time

What a poet! I saw him last year when he had to start touring again at 75, and he put on a marvelous show...

I got shivers when he recited "A Thousand Kisses Deep":

You came to me this morning
And you handled me like meat
You’d have to be a man to know
How good that feels, how sweet

Rob R said...

Gearhed,

What I'm saying is that the book details a story in which we humans were set up to fail,

If God knew that they would fail, then yes, they were set up to fail. i see no reason to believe that God knew this. I see no reason to believe they were set up to fail. It seems that way to you. this is your subjective conclusion. You have not been able to communicate good reasons for this that I haven't dealt with.

But what I do disagree with is the notion that we humans, while we're HERE on this earth, can't seem to make efforts to make THIS world a better place, but instead wish for rewards in a mythological afterlife.

Well, you'd never get a disagreement from me on this nor multitudes in the church who are indeed making the world a better place. Now whether we can make the world even a remotely ok place to live for everyone, that's a faith no matter how you look at it.

Religious groups and their disagreements have been detrimental to our planet for a long time now,

Yes, this is true of most human activities, including the advancement of science and technology. You might say also where ever there has been politics, there have been wars and strife. And the secular approach as tried by so many nations has often been an example of tyranny. So it's no special critique of religion you are offering.

The book should have been noticeably clearer, if the Creator wished for us to live in peace and harmony.

I think the book is clear that while God wishes for us to live in peace, the world will hate those who live by the teachings of Jesus in the book.

Perhaps what you meant to say is that if God wished for us to live in peace, he shouldn't have given us free will. Because clarity doesn't remove the ability and desire to rebel.

problem with that is that there are many good reasons for free will. Free will makes a quality of love possible that wouldn't otherwise be possible as well as a quality of consciousness, creativity, stewardship all of which contribute to our reflection of God's image.

You may not think that it was worth it, but ultimately, that is a subjective judgment that won't translate to anyone including me.

Ira said...

I'm starting to wish for it.

GearHedEd said...

"i see no reason to believe that God knew this"

Omniscience.

"Now whether we can make the world even a remotely ok place to live for everyone, that's a faith no matter how you look at it."

It takes action, not "faith".

"I think the book is clear that while God wishes for us to live in peace, the world will hate those who live by the teachings of Jesus in the book."

Bullshit. Atheists want peace as much as anyone else.

It always boils down to "free will", doesn't it? If God gave us "TRUE" free will, He shouldn't get upset if we USE it.

Rob R said...

Well, sunshine, aren't you a load of help.

Rob R said...

That was for both Ira and Thom.

Rob R said...

Gearhed,

Omniscience.

Biblical reasons please?

Yes, I believe in omniscience. God knows everything that is knowable. I actually take it further and say that God knows everything period. But I've already explained this. If you are free, there is no truth about how you will certainly act to be known.

It takes action, not "faith".

False dichotomy. And it was very much a subject of faith that you were asserting, that we can make the world a better place, something you asserted against Christianity which doesn't indicate otherwise anyway.

Bullshit. Atheists want peace as much as anyone else.

Atheists have been persecuting Christians and all sorts of people today and for the better half of the last century, mostly in socialist countries. My point remains.

It always boils down to "free will", doesn't it? If God gave us "TRUE" free will, He shouldn't get upset if we USE it.

No matter what you choose, when you are free, you are using free will. I'm speaking of libertarian freedom, that's the state of not choosing a specific path but being ABLE to choose more than one.

And I gave you list of several areas where it is indeed used, some of them even in morally neutral ways.

Why shouldn't it boil down to free will if it indeed does? If there is a problem with my answer, explain it.

GearHedEd said...

"Atheists have been persecuting Christians and all sorts of people today and for the better half of the last century, mostly in socialist countries. My point remains."

Christians have been killing people who don't think like they do for overt 1,000 years, and only quit when secular societies took the power to execute people for thought crimes away from the Church.

Your point?

GearHedEd said...

There's a conflict in "free will vs. omniscience".

God MUST know the future, or prophecy is impossible.

If God KNOWS the future, then the future is SET.

If the future is SET, then ALL our actions conspire to achieve the future that God ALREADY KNOWS.

Therefore, if God is omniscient, we DO NOT have free will.

GearHedEd said...

Bottom line:

If God's gift of "free will" was truly FREE, then He has no business telling us how to use it.

Rob R said...

Christians have been killing people who don't think like they do for overt 1,000 years, and only quit when secular societies took the power to execute people for thought crimes away from the Church.

Your point?


Gearhed, I've been entertaining more tangents than i have in the past. And in your hopping from tangent to tangent here because you have to end the discussion along the lines of "oh yeah, well you're still wrong about something else" of course you've lost track of the discussion.

You are the one who said that if God wished peace for us, Scripture would be more clear (and on another account, there's no reason to think it wasn't crystal clear to the original audience). I noted that Jesus clearly said that those who followed him would be hated. The bible itself does not suggest that all it needs is to be understood for peace. Then you went on another tangent about atheists being peace loving. Okay. i know they exist.

And to your next off topic tangent (cause we gotta prove that Christian wrong somewhere no matter how many topic shifts it takes), yes, Christians have been killing people for disagreeing with them, but mostly not the ones following Jesus, nor the ones who might be following Jesus but clearly not in those instances.

There's a conflict in "free will vs. omniscience".

Omniscience wrongfully defined, yes.

God MUST know the future, or prophecy is impossible.

If God KNOWS the future, then the future is SET.


This is almost true. But you are presuming that the future can only refer to one possible outcome. If this does not reflect reality, then what you say does not hold. Why can't the future be partially settled and partially open? Why can't there be multiple possibilities for the future? So to know the future here is to know that there is no one absolutely certain outcome for just any event.

And what of prophecy. For some part of the future to be settled doesn't mean that all parts must be settled. but Not all prophecies even depend upon a settled future. This is spelled out explicitly in Jeremiah 18. God explicitely describes conditionality in his prophecies here.

Rob R said...

If God's gift of "free will" was truly FREE, then He has no business telling us how to use it.

I don't see why this follows in the slightest. Free will along with responsibility and expectations seems perfectly coherent to me.

GearHedEd said...

"Why can't the future be partially settled and partially open?"

Because then God is not omniscient, if we can enact a future through unfettered free will that He does not already KNOW, by definition.

Oh, yeah.

I wasn't the one who brought up the topic of "free will".

"I think the book is clear that while God wishes for us to live in peace, the world will hate those who live by the teachings of Jesus in the book."

I didn't say I hate you; I said the exact opposite. What I'm doing is pointing out the holes in your thinking, and you keep denying that there ARE any.

GearHedEd said...

Example:

My argument:

God MUST know the future, or prophecy is impossible.

"If God KNOWS the future, then the future is SET.

If the future is SET, then ALL our actions conspire to achieve the future that God ALREADY KNOWS.

Therefore, if God is omniscient, we DO NOT have free will."

Youyr reply?

"Omniscience wrongfully defined, yes."

and previously,

"Yes, I believe in omniscience. God knows everything that is knowable. I actually take it further and say that God knows everything period."

See the holes?

GearHedEd said...

Oh, and let's back up a few more comments, shall we?

"If God knew that they would fail, then yes, they were set up to fail. i see no reason to believe that God knew this."

Except that you believe in complete omniscience:

"Yes, I believe in omniscience. God knows everything that is knowable. I actually take it further and say that God knows everything period."

So, yes.

God set the stage, and determined before the event that Adam and Eve would fail.

GearHedEd said...

Admit it.

You have conflicting dogma in your grey matter.

Rob R said...

Because then God is not omniscient, if we can enact a future through unfettered free will that He does not already KNOW, by definition.

God does know it. He knows it as it is. If it is filled with many possibilities, then that's what an omniscient knower must know if he is omniscient.

Perhaps you are making the same mistake that many others make here. Whether the future is settled or not is a matter of ontology not knowledge. Whether one knows it as it is is a matter of knowledge. If it isn't settled, then to know it means to know it as unsettled.

I wasn't the one who brought up the topic of "free will".

you implied that making scripture clear would make things more peacable, and it was appropriate for me to object that because of free will, we still would have strife.

And before I responded to you at all, your ten points were very relevant to freedom of the will.

I didn't say I hate you; I said the exact opposite.

I didn't say you hated me. I never even implied it. I was responding to your comment about peace and clarity in scripture, which wasn't consistent with where scripture was clear.

Except that you believe in complete omniscience:

Yes, God completely knows a future that is partly open, partly settled. And it's always changing as things become determined as time moves on. Before that, they cannot be known as determined, only as undetermined and open to various possibilities. The future changes, the world changes, thus the contents of knowledge of an omniscient knower is always changing as well.

You are trying to cram the round peg of omniscience of a deterministic world onto the square peg hole of libertarian free creatures. But there's no reason that omniscience of an indeterministic world with libertarian free creatures couldn't work. there's no reason that that can't be knowable as it is, as indeterministic with changes in what has become determined as time moves on.

Rob R said...

BTW Gearhed, this topic has been of primary interest to me for the last 10 years. The rabbit hole goes much deeper than just the matter of omniscience.

Here's for starters on the bigger picture

Rob R said...

BTW Gearhed, this topic has been of primary interest to me for the last 10 years. The rabbit hole goes much deeper than just the matter of omniscience.


Here's for starters on the bigger picture

Rob R said...

Okay, for some reason, blogger is messing up my link.

It's www.opentheism.info

GearHedEd said...

Your link is defunkt.

Rob R said...

scroll up one post.

Russ said...

GearHeadEd,

Rob R definitely wants you to do some philosophical off-roadin' with him. I imagine him having that hollow-eyed lascivious evil-Pope-Ratzi-The-Pedophile-look thing goin' on as he taunts you with, "The rabbit hole goes much deeper than just the matter of omniscience." I'm sure he feels certain that if he can lure you far enough into the Philosophy Swamp where the real world gets treated with the same abstraction as his god and his religion then you will be at his mercy since there will be no fact or figure free from unfettered filosophical finagling.

Rob R fails to understand that many of us have found our way out of the muck he shares with others of the religious ilk: same-named Christians who are diametrically opposed to him theologically; the majority of Christians - the social Christians - who have no idea what the hell they believe; as well as all the Hindus, Muslims, Jews, theistic Buddhists, and the tens of thousands of other non-Christian religions. Rob R intentionally blinds himself, just as Mommy R taught him, to the fact that while he struggles about in the mire grasping at one ad hoc root or vine after another to keep his face out of the quicksand, others of us have chosen the path that ascends mankind's accrued mountain of knowledge and understanding. Rob R fails to recognize that we stand overlooking his cherished bogs of lies and sinkholes of empty asserted "truths" from the solid ground of what moves mankind ahead and brings mankind together. Rob R refuses to see that while more and more people are making that climb to better understanding and better outcomes for man, his conscious choice is to wade the fetid runoff from the mountain. Rob R doesn't realize that even if we accept his taunts and meander off into Philosophy swamp with him, the mountain will still be there. Rob R refuses to grasp that even if we assume for argument's sake one or more of the rotting corpse premises littering Philosophy Swamp and flawlessly syllogize from there, we will not have left the Swamp and the mountain will still stand and will still overshadow everything in the Swamp.

Rob R will gladly admit that his fellow Swamp dwellers, the other denizens of the religious lowlands, are irretrievably lost, victims of their cultural terrain, while he'll claim with certainty that he, and those few Christians fortunate enough to think exactly like him, have found the mossy knoll where truth is in every blade of grass, every stem and every piece of fruit. But, even from the foothills of the mountain, we see it for the Swamp it is. Even from the foothills we can escape the stench and take in enough fresh air and light to know the right path leads away from the Swamp.

Rob R said...

Russ, don't ever take up a job as a mind reader, unless it's a comedy act.

Russ said...

Rob R,

If I wanted to be a comedian, I'd join the Christian clergy where every assertion of "truth" is a joke and every claim of the "power of god" is a punchline.

Then, too, if I wanted to be a mind reader, I could also join the Christian clergy. Then, like you, I could make up all kinds of crap, and claim it to be from the mind of god. I could pretend to read your god's mind when I tell Christian Scientists to permit their children die from afflictions that the children of Muslims would have easily remedied with medical care. I could pretend to read your god's mind when I tell African Pentacostals to kill their children. That would also be part comedy noir since many of them would be Christianly stupid enough and Christianly immoral enough to actually do it.

If I wanted to specialize as a a mind reading comedian, I could imitate you. You have no idea what all but a miniscule fraction of Christians believe, yet you assert there to be little distinction among them. You hear the numerous multiple entendres from the Christian lexicon and you project what you want to hear onto a couple billion people who are no where close to what you think or believe theologically. You are a joke and a punchline. You reverse the mind reading bit though by saying you can read their minds by claiming to know what you yourself believe. That there's just the kind of surprise element needed for good humor.

The funny never stops with you though. If you had one philosophically honest neuron in that head of yours you'd wouldn't be a Christian due to lack of evidence alone, and you would think through your position and recognize that making up shit is not honest and it's not intellectually responsible. If you were philosophically and intellectually honest, you'd recognize that your religious position bears no more relation to truth than does Hinduism or any other religious superstition, and your honesty would move you to abandon your inane attempts at defending it. The funniest thing about you, Rob R, really is that for all the philosophy you've gorged yourself on during your several decades of life, you equate the mere sanction an idea by your social group with the truth of the idea, yet when others use the same criterion, you reject it as truth. You are funny, very funny indeed.

Question: What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?
Answer: Make me one with everything.

Question: Why is the solipsist unhappy?
Answer: Because no one will accept his arguments as valid.

GearHedEd said...

Iread the link last night.

Accomodationist BS, nothing more.

Rob R said...

Accomodationist BS, nothing more.

REAAAALYYY! How does what you read there have anything to do with acomodationism?

Makes me wonder if you have any idea what the term means.

Ironically, people who criticize the open view accuse us of failing to understand that God is accomodating our human way of thinking.

it's tangential. As russ failed to intuit, I don't care to discuss the rest of it here (I was happy to take on your original tangents, but again, I'm not up for tangent after tangent), rather I wanted you to see that I wasn't just coming up with these answers ad hoq to answer you but it was part of a well researched larger picture with many implications that was developed for many good reasons, biblical, theological and philosophical.

GearHedEd said...

If there's some 'commonly accepted definition' of the word "accomodationist", I'm not aware of it.

What I meant, and if you have half the intelligence you proclaim, then listen:

The web page you linked is a mianifesto, claiming that the words of the Bible need to be interpreted in such a liberal fashion as to render the scriptures just another piece of writing:

"It was solely God's decision not to control every detail that happens in our lives. Moreover, God has flexible strategies. Though the divine nature does not change, God reacts to contingencies, even adjusting his plans, if necessary, to take into account the decisions of his free creatures. God is endlessly resourceful and wise in working towards the fulfillment of his ultimate goals. Sometimes God alone decides how to accomplish these goals. Usually, however, God elicits human cooperation such that it is both God and humanity who decide what the future shall be."

Nonsense!

"God reacts to contingencies, even adjusting his plans, if necessary, to take into account the decisions of his free creatures."

What? He changes His mind???

"Finally, the omniscient God knows all that can be known given the sort of world he created."

Your hero, Dr. Sanders has just decreed limits on God's actions and knowledge:

"However, in our view God decided to create beings with indeterministic freedom which implies that God chose to create a universe in which the future is not entirely knowable, even for God."

Accomodation!

the author MUST say this to accomodate the contradiction between omniscience ("I am the alpha and the omega" = the entire history including the future is KNOWN) and free will.

You object to semantics, and haven't even touched on the real issue: omniscience and free will are incompatible.

The web page is an accomodation between free will and omniscience, and to get where he wants, the author resorts to limiting God's knowledge so we can retain libertarian free will, because the only viable (theistic) alternative is that God IS fully omniscient without limits, and thus we are puppets playing out our parts with only the ILLUSION of free will.

And you KNOW this.

GearHedEd said...

...and, of course, there's the parsimonious answer:

There is no God, and that resolves the issue nicely.

Rob R said...

Ed, you really have no clue what you are talking about and I'm not going to follow you on another tangent to explain it. I've already indulged you quite liberally.

Again, you just have to reach and scrounge and dig to find some negative comment. You can't honestly face that what you have brought up has been dealt with.

I provided you more background not for more endless tangents for one who cannot honestly deal with one thing at a time but just so you could see that there was much more going on with this. I see that was a mistake.

and in the words of gearheded who fails the basic ability (like many skeptics) to grasp that not everyone thinks like he does, let me say "AND YOU KNOW THIS!"

GearHedEd said...

I get it.

You don't have any answers. That's why you accuse me of not knowing anything, and bailing out of the discussion.

Rob R said...

Ed, when you switch topics, you are bailing out of the discussion.

I never agreed to discuss the open view accept on knowledge. I never agreed to discuss that web site. It was an FYI.

I'm actually happy to discuss these things, but not as a distraction to what we have discussed.


You have nothing to say after the questions have been answered so you switch topics. It's a cheep strategy that is a dime a dozen around here for folks who's egos are too fragile to handle conceding a point.

Rob R said...

Where you are discussing things that we have already discussed, you are backtracking, with the issue of omniscience. You cannot advance an argument if you repeat what was already answered.

Sanders articulates it differently than I do. What I describe is closer to another theologian of a similar view, Greg Boyd.

I've spelled it out clearly. You can speak of the contradiction between omniscience and free will to your hearts content, but you're just talking to hear yourself speak if you don't take into account what I've said about it and I can't tell that you have.

Russ said...

Rob R,
There do not exist,

good reasons, biblical, theological and philosophical.

Unless by "good" you mean that it's good for you and other Christians since you can use the bibles, theologies and philosophies to say whatever your predetermining heart desires. If bibles offered "good" reasons, there would be far fewer mutually damning Christianities. If theology was of any real importance, you would give the same esteem to other theologies, including other Christian ones, that you reserve for yours. You fully recognize the dereliction of bibles, theologies and philosophies as tools for knowledge, understanding or usefulness, so you make special pleadings for your versions of them and reject how others see them. If you really think that somehow you ended up with the correct versions of these things you are wrong. You mistake social group acceptance for truth, and you justify your mistake by all the effort you have put in over the years. Your social group has no more truth about your god, Yahweh, than Hindu has about Vishnu, Bramah, or Shiva. Your study and worship and social support do not undo your mistake any more than the same efforts and influences by Hindu theologists can undo their's.

You said,

I wanted you to see that I wasn't just coming up with these answers ad hoq to answer you

If the answers you propose are not your ad hoc answers, all we need do is swim upstream from you a bit to your source and we will find the answers to be ad hoc for them or, with a bit more swimming, for their sources. The bible is ad hoc from cover to cover. The authors of your bible were applying ad hoc reasoning with whatever catch-as-catch-can fables they had available to them. Those who created the biblical canon applied ad hoc reasoning to whatever catch-as-catch-can books they had available to them. And, you, Rob R, apply the pieces of the bible that you like in a hand-picked ad hoc way.

You've told us ad hoc lies before, Rob R, with your story about a child being resurrected in central america. In fact, you further lied when you said you would provide us with details so we could research it. You failed to follow up since using your ad hoc lie backed you into a corner. If you let us look around the real world where you claim the miracle occurred, you know it would be found to be a lie, then you and the liars who told you the lie for their personal ad hoc gratification might be embarrassed. So, you, as is the way of all religious liars, make up more lies to save face for yourself and your friends. And, still you don't see it as dishonest. That you do not cite the miracle claims of your fellow Christians as proof positive of the intervention by your god on behalf of its "followers," tells me that you know you don't believe your fellow Christians any more than we atheists do. Yet, you made the same sort of dumbassed miracle claim yourself that you weren't willing to stand behind. You don't believe it yourself. You are intellectually dishonest and an outright liar who will pull out of his ass whatever ad hoc tool you think is necessary to score a point.

Russ said...

Rob R,
You talk of "tangent after tangent" when not one word of the theologically and philosophically sophisticated making up you do is worth a damn if you can't demonstrate that some god is real. Your internal feelings carry no more weight than the internal feelings of worshippers of Kitchen God, and the resources you call for your defense - bibles, theologies and philosophies - can't be entered as evidence since you disallow them for others. If we're going to deal with a "real" god phenomena, we must be consistent. Your imaginings are worthy of no more respect than the imaginings you reject from others. Applying your rules to you, your imaginings, too, can be tossed aside. Everything you say about gods and ghosts and demons and religions, yours or someone else's, is tangential unless your deity is more than your wishful thinking. For your words to be worthy of respect, we must be able to observe that you are not experimenting on people in your god laboratory using protocols dictated by your preferred god-hypothesis.

You said,

I don't care to discuss the rest of it here

That's the way it is with people like you who want to defend the indefensible. To avoid getting hit you want to invoke your chosen subset of Marquess of Queensberry rules. DebunkingChristianity is more than a sanitized classroom where the philosophically inept get to claim a special exemption for the dumb they like the best while they apply brutal intellectual honesty to the dumb they see in others. If what you don't care to discuss is based on the same premise as the carefully circumscribed bit that you want to discuss, then your base premise that your god exists must be more justifiable and more warranted and more likely to be true than the premise that it isn't or the premise that Thor is real. To have a discussion you must have an agreed-upon premise. Like any sad and silly religionist you can duck and bob and weave away from your responsibility to show your premise to be more than your tradition, your authority, your revelation, or your mother's threat to hate you for not thinking the way she commands, but then we can simply dismiss it. None of those makes your premises viable, believable, justifiable, warranted or true.

Your contention is that the contents of all human's minds concerning gods must match yours to avoid having that god do really bad things to them, in the same way that Odin and Loki and Jupiter demanded specific mental constructs to avert their abuses. But, none today accept the premises that they are or ever were real and thus capable of carrying out the threats made in their names. You don't want to discuss it, but your god premise holds exactly the same intellectual worth as the premise of Odin, that is, none.

GearHedEd said...

1.

My posts of October 10th between 1:30 and 2:00 PM were not addressed to anyone. You chose to respond.

Everything you have said since then has been a case of, as Russ put it, you attempting to drag me into a philosophical swampland where you hope to enmesh me in esoteric arguments for which you have rehearsed the answers and think you've answered sufficiently because, well, if you didn't think that, then why defend the position?

Everything I have done since then is respond to YOUR posts, because you haven't provided answers. Much of what you said falls under the categories of bare assertions lacking arguments (there may BE arguments, but you didn't give them), appeals to authority, and more questions as answers.

Look at it yourself, I'm not going back and reposting all your comments.

Russ is right. I can't discuss things with you if you insist on being dishonest with yourself. That whole "open theism" manifesto is nothing more than believing what you want to believe, because you want to believe it.

ildi said...

God chose to create a universe in which the future is not entirely knowable, even for God.

God didn't want to know ahead of time what he was going to get for his birthday every year...

Actually, I think it's a good sign that modern theologians propose God to be only inherently omniscient; at this rate, I'm hoping that Christianity will evolve to the point where everybody follows the beliefs of Spong or Armstrong, at which point it will be as non-threatening and as innocuous as astrological belief is now.

GearHedEd said...

Everytning I've read about "open theism" so far has been from a bunch of Christian 'scholars' whose line of argument goes:

"God exists.

This is how we make it a workable belief system."

Just a quick skim through the webpage shows that those guys already threw Anselm, Aquinas and Augustine under the bus.

Who's next?

GearHedEd said...

"A major event in my junior year was a course in the thought of Augustine, also with Arthur Holmes. As a result of this course I read the Confessions, several of the minor works, and the entirety of The City of God-and the latter work, especially, precipitated a severe intellectual struggle. I was torn between my love and admiration for Augustine (which still persist today) and the deeply troubling aspects of his doctrines of election and reprobation."

-William Hasker, quoted from here.

GearHedEd said...

Y'all are trying to put a shiny new facade on a crumbling building.

Russ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry H. McCall, CET said...

It never fails:

The more conservative a Christian sect is; the more its dogma teaches God has been active in the past as God is active today (via some “Plan of Salvation”), the more closed off and self protected these sects are from freedom of ideas.


Facts (based on the above) show that Fundamentalist Bible Believing Bob Jones University will only hire their own graduates (who were taught by their own earlier graduates) to teach Bibles courses with tightly controlled and limit Biblical subjects. Not only that, but every year all professors must sign a contract stating they adhere to verbal plenary Biblical inspiration or lose their jobs!

Yes, the truths of the Bible and God are so self-evident they can stand on their own.

The Southern Baptist Convention –the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. - is so factually sure about the truth of God and the Bible that they fired all women professors of religion (as demanded by the Bible) as well as all university and seminary professors who did not teach an inerrant Bible.

Furman University (a former Southern Baptist Convention) pulled out, just in time, from SBC over the issue of freedom of intellectual honesty and religion.

Yes, the truths of the Bible and God are so self-evident they can stand on their own.

The Mormon Mission Elders who stopped by my house last week are so sure the LDS Church has ALL the absolute truth about God that they cannot read any book nor view any documentary that is not officially approved by Salt Lake City.

Yes, the truths of the Bible and God are so self-evident they can stand on their own.

Truly amazing! Truly amazing!

Russ said...

Rob R,
There do not exist,

good reasons, biblical, theological and philosophical.

Unless by "good" you mean that it's good for you and other Christians since you can use the bibles, theologies and philosophies to say whatever your predetermining heart desires. If bibles offered "good" reasons, there would be far fewer mutually damning Christianities. If theology was of any real importance, you would give the same esteem to other theologies, including other Christian ones, that you reserve for yours. You fully recognize the dereliction of bibles, theologies and philosophies as tools for knowledge, understanding or usefulness, so you make special pleadings for your versions of them and reject how others see them. If you really think that somehow you ended up with the correct versions of these things you are wrong. You mistake social group acceptance for truth, and you justify your mistake by all the effort you have put in over the years. Your social group has no more truth about your god, Yahweh, than Hindu has about Vishnu, Bramah, or Shiva. Your study and worship and social support do not undo your mistake any more than the same efforts and influences by Hindu theologists can undo their's.

You said,

I wanted you to see that I wasn't just coming up with these answers ad hoq to answer you

If the answers you propose are not your ad hoc answers, all we need do is swim upstream from you a bit to your source and we will find the answers to be ad hoc for them or, with a bit more swimming, for their sources. The bible is ad hoc from cover to cover. The authors of your bible were applying ad hoc reasoning with whatever catch-as-catch-can fables they had available to them. Those who created the biblical canon applied ad hoc reasoning to whatever catch-as-catch-can books they had available to them. And, you, Rob R, apply the pieces of the bible that you like in a hand-picked ad hoc way.

You've told us ad hoc lies before, Rob R, with your story about a child being resurrected in central america. In fact, you further lied when you said you would provide us with details so we could research it. You failed to follow up since using your ad hoc lie backed you into a corner. If you let us look around the real world where you claim the miracle occurred, you know it would be found to be a lie, then you and the liars who told you the lie for their personal ad hoc gratification might be embarrassed. So, you, as is the way of all religious liars, make up more lies to save face for yourself and your friends. And, still you don't see it as dishonest. That you do not cite the miracle claims of your fellow Christians as proof positive of the intervention by your god on behalf of its "followers," tells me that you know you don't believe your fellow Christians any more than we atheists do. Yet, you made the same sort of dumbassed miracle claim yourself that you weren't willing to stand behind. You don't believe it yourself. You are intellectually dishonest and an outright liar who will pull out of his ass whatever ad hoc tool you think is necessary to score a point.

Aratina Cage said...

Personally, I don't see any problem with the logic. If the original version of something thought to have been real (by some) is shown to be mythical, it follows that the upgraded/elaborated versions thought to be real (by some) are mythical, too. It destroys the basis in reality for all versions of God in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Breckmin said...

"Yahweh did not exist. He is much too tribal of a god,"

I would agree that your "concept of YHWH" doesn't exist...but that is because you do not currently "see Him" as a Holy Infinite Creator Who is omniscient, all-LOGICALLY-powerful, or the Incredible God that the Christian who is saved by Him sees Him (spiritually) as (a Loving Heavenly Father Who adopted them).


"created the world in conflict with the sea God Rahab,"

symbolic of Egypt which is symbolic of this world system (that enslaves us) that Jesus crushed at the Cross (Psalm 89:10 'deadly wound'). It is all symbolic of real struggle between the flesh, the world and the devil.

"married to Asherah,"
What WIlliam Dever believes about a group of Israelites doesn't change Orthodox Monotheism. Did Moses believe YHWH was married?

You are above these last two allegations.

"accepted child sacrifice,"

Does an Orthodox Jew believe this?
Do mature Christian apologists (usually evangelical,btw) take this interpretation?

Records of child sacrifices do NOT mean God somehow "accepted" them.
Even the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter which models the Virgin Christ was seen as a mistake (for a human to make such a vow) by both Christian and Hebrew expositors.

"commanded genocide,"

Judgement. Other than your use of the English word genocide which fails to deal with the reasons for God's judgement...I do not disagree with it.


"forbid worship of all other gods"

Logical. We should only worship our Creator Who it is RIGHT for us to worship (love/thank/pray/fellowship with spiritually)

Question: Why would you argue against a person only worshipping their Creator?


"(didn't deny their existence),"

there are all sorts of finite beings other than humans who can be idols of worship or gods with a little "g"

"and chose Israel like the others gods did to other nations."

You could ask "who was counterfeiting who?" but that would be an over-simplification as well. Human behavior can be a common occurrence, but it doesn't invalidate the objective truth of an Infinite Creator and His relationship to Abraham and his descendents.

UNTIL you address Abraham and "why" God chose Israel as His model here on earth to the individual believer being set free from the bondage of Egypt (this world system)and the believers wondering (battling the world the flesh and the devil - his enemies)in the desert - waiting for the promise land (heaven) when God and God alone will finally be Rightful King over Israel...

you have no legitimate objection.

Samuel said...

I see that my little post has garnered 141 comments. Goodness gracious.

Ivan said...

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the numerous quotes in the Bible specifically implying that evil came from God. Isaiah 45:7 comes to mind.

Breckmin said...

ra or ro is a reference to calamity or judgment or ill circumstances.

IOW, natural evil is different from our moral evil (or our sin).

No where does it say that God creates "sin."

Sin is a potential byproduct of choice - and choice is necessary in order to be able to love.

God doesn't create our "sin." We are little creators created in God's Image and WE choose to disobey God and commit such sin.

Samuel said...

Breckmin,

In heaven there will be no sin but there will still be choice - yes?