Did I Ask Boring Questions?

Leah thinks so and offered her own questions.

47 comments:

P.Coyle said...

She has a point. They're not the propositions that I would lead with. How about the following?

1. If God exists, then he responsible for the existence of evil, either because he is the knowing cause of it, or because he knowingly allows it.

2. Most of the people who have ever lived never heard of the Christian god. If "belief in God" is a requirement for salvation, then God is responsible for those people not being saved, because he did not make his existence known to them.

3. "God created it" is not an explanation of how the universe came to be, since no account is given of how God created it, why he created it, or why he created it to be like it is instead of to be different than it is.

Robert said...

John,

Your questions might target only a subset of Christians, but they are not at all boring. As you know, they are exactly the kinds of questions that pushed me away from Christianity after 30 years, and I know a lot of Christians who would really struggle with them should they honestly seek the answers.

Solipsister said...

John,

IMO Leah is incorrect to characterize the questions as “nitpicks” but I think there’s a valid point to be made that the questions do assume a type of Christianity, arguably a dominant one. I think they work if the audience of the book is intended to be primarily inerrantists, fundamentalists, whatever the proper term is for those folks who get all lathered up at the notion that Yahweh was a tribal god, or that genocide and child sacrifice were pleasing in his sight. Based on what I’ve seen, that’s a pretty big gang.

I’ve assumed that your co-author is willing to defend the counter to your 3 questions, rather than just say, “Who cares? I’m not that kind of Christian and don’t care if the OT is that way.” Similarly, he’s obviously assumed you believe science IS the substitute for religion and thinks you’re planning on more than, “It’s not, never said so, NEXT!” as a reply. If not, it’s gonna be a very short book.

As I’ve been following your updates I’ve assumed that the book would contain some kind of prolegomenon (perhaps incorporating the extended sports metaphor, which I like) laying out exactly what kind of Christianity and atheism the authors are defending. You’re right to say that in theory they should talk amongst themselves and come back when they’ve got their “contender,” but since that won’t happen, he should be required to identify his presuppositions. Otherwise, I worry you could end up in a strawman smackdown rather than the rigorous debates in which you regularly participate.

Cheers!

Jeffrey A. Myers said...

I didn't think the questions were ncessarily boring, but agree that they aren't the kind of ones I would open with.

I think I would have opened with something more general like:

Can Christian theology survive if the Bible is not inerrant?

John W. Loftus said...

@ Leah:

It's very interesting that the biblical scholar wrote and said this to me: "I think that your topics are strategically wise on your part. I shall have to tred carefully..."

Do you know him to be able to understand why he said that? Of course not. You can't.

Remember too, there will be twenty topics for us to debate.

There is a reason why I have his attention. I know him, so please factor this into your "embarrassment."

John W. Loftus said...

Jeffrey my introduction lays it all out: What would a Christian believe if I could undermine the basis for believing the Bible?

I think I'll probably not share much more about this proposed book though.

Jeffrey A. Myers said...

My apologies, I must not have seen that post. The introduction I saw was the one where you were discussing protocol and having religionsists beat one another up to decide which is the best religion before taking on the areligionists.

John W. Loftus said...

You're correct Jeffrey, but that's not all there is to my Introduction.

No apologies necessary my friend.

jr said...

What a joke.

1. If God is so good than why do we even need Jesus to reconcile anything in the old testament?

2. If the Bible is indeed allegorical than how do you know what to interpret as fact? Why would the writers bother to write it if they didn't mean what they wrote? Why bother even reading it?

Shawn said...

In my opinion the best way to debate a Christian is to encourage them to back away from the ONLY "evidence" they have that their God exists, their Bible.

John's "questions" are clearly designed to illicit this response.

I disagree with Leah's assertion that Christianity has answered these questions already. They have probably sought to avoid answering with the whole "allegorical" schtick, but that plays into our hands ultimately.

"They" (meaning humans) then have to go through their entire Bible and interpret what is meant to be allegorical and what isn't. This is a historically provable departure from their previous "absolute" position.

Therefore they are arguing our case perfectly for us, that their entire belief system is not based on the "word of God" after all but the word of current human interpretation of ancient Middle Eastern writings, which in some/most cases aren't actual accounts of anything, but allegories (i.e.fiction).

So all they are really believing in, are the opinions of current religious leaders on clearly unreliable ancient (and revised) texts.

This is a pretty strong argument in our favour I believe.

Leah said...

@Loftus - If your interlocutor really is running scared from these questions, you picked well for the purposes of scoring points in this debate, but I still think this isn't persuasive or interesting to an intellectually engaged Christian. If your partner really is flummoxed by these, he sounds like a pretty weak opponent; I'm sure you could hold your own against better.

With only twenty topics, wouldn't it make sense not to waste three of them on the question of biblical/Old Testament literalism, which is not accepted in many Christian circles?

I look forward to seeing what the remaining 17 slots are going to be used for.


@Solipsister
I agree that this is a useful tact to take against fundamentalists, but I'm doubtful about how productive it is to argue with them. The arguments that engage intellectual Christians (who do exist) are also useful against fundamentalists, and they're more interesting to boot.

John W. Loftus said...

Leah do you live in Europe?

Do you know my target audience and why I chose them?

BobCMU76 said...

I'm troubled by the questions on both sides. First of all, I would not allow John to say something to the effect of "reputable scholars all agree that...., and any who don't are pretty much out of the mainstream." His three points would have to be argued directly and exclusively from the one source his opponent must agree to be authorative -- canonical scripture. Perhaps it's all there without appeal to "experts," in which case -- go for it. That and a thousand other things that invite the two-step. But we Christians have been dancing that dance for some time, and are quite adept at it for all the old and worn out embarasments. I'm surprised there's any novelty to be had there.

The whole -- "without God, we lack structure" pretty much argues for cultural agreement on some agency. It's not an argument for Christianity, or even of divinity or deity. It's an argument for faith for faith's sake. Lot's of people believe in faith for faith's sake. Athletes. New agers. Worn out old salesmen.

I can live with truth for truth's sake. Faith for truth's sake. And truth for faith's sake. But faith for faith's sake -- is the faith that Psalm 2 ridicules.

We can't go about saying that faith has value, regardless of its object. The only faith worth having is in an object whose value is contant, regardless of our faith.

LadyAtheist said...

Are you debating Christianity or theism?

I'd rather see you start with theism than Judeo-Christian fairy tales.

If you want to start with The Book how about "why is the Bible more correct than the other holy books of the world? What is there to prove it's the true religious document?"

Or to borrow from one of Rauser's regular tormentors, what is there in the bible that couldn't be the product of purely human intellect, culture and imagination?

Breckmin said...

"Can Christian theology survive if the Bible is not inerrant?"

It already does....

Question everything

donK said...

I like Leah's questions, but the cognitive dissonance they create won't drive people from their faith when they can still ignorantly cling to the Bible. Your arguments lay the ax to the Bible, not the believer. I hope your approach works.

I do feel it to be somewhat disingenuous to solicit input and then criticize and dismiss it as "ignorant" or imply that someone should be "embarrassed" for not knowing information you refuse to provide.

John W. Loftus said...

donK, I don't mind input. What I mind very much is some hack saying my questions were an "embarrassment" to atheists everywhere even though Leah was ignorant about my target audience and what I hope to achieve.

Bullshit.

No, I'll not share anymore about this work in progress. It's too frustrating to me. I thought I'd garner some interesting discussions. I was wrong. Hell, as far as I know someone will claim I stole an idea from them now, even though I already had my questions lined up before I asked others what they thought.

I mean, really, if Leah is so good why don't Christian scholars ask her to co-write books. No, I'm not buying the claim that because she's too smart or that she knows so much more than me.

Yes, I'm pissed off.

Leah said...

@Loftus,
I’ve looked back to my first post and removed the word ‘embarrassed’ and added a note explaining the change. It was a bit stronger than was justified, and I’m sorry if it put you off. I’ve tried to explain more clearly and with less loaded language why I find your approach and questions frustrating and possibly counterproductive in two new posts.

I would like to hear your thoughts. We disagree, but I hope we can do so respectfully. I’ve tried to explain my reasoning and I would be interested in your reply. I certainly regret that my comments have put you off discussing this project altogether. The problem of how to balance the debate tactics for a particular opponent against the way they’ll play to a broader audience is a hard one, and I think it merits discussion.

--Leah

John W. Loftus said...

Leah, I'm not interested. I don't know who you are. I don't care to discuss strategy online when this scholar is reading what we write. And I don't care to discuss whose questions are better. I know what I'm doing. That scholar agrees.

John W. Loftus said...

Leah, had you said what you would ask and told us why there would be no problem at all. After all, we will debate 20 questions/ issues, so there is plenty of room to take up your issues. But what you did instead was to say you were embarrassed with my questions and you argued yours were better even though you were clueless as to who I was debating and what my strategy is. Then you had the gall to talk about how Christians will react to me, and how atheists should react to me when you had no clue how I would react to you.

Here's what I predict based on cognitive dissonance theory. You will take up a personal campaign against me in order to prove yourself right. Facts do not change people
s minds. They only force people who are wrong to dig in their heels. Only people who are aware of what they are doing have a good chance to change it. Do you?

Leah said...

@ Loftus,
I’m really sorry I’ve offended you, that was not my intention. I’ve written about this one last time to my blog, so that none of my readers are waiting for a response. I crossposted your last two comments and added a quick reaction of my own here.
For the sake of clarity and in an effort to make amends, I’m pasting in the last few sentences of my post into this thread:

A final note, since this discussion became much more about possible rudeness than anti-apologetic best practices: whenever you're reading my blog, please keep in mind Hanlon's Razor and never attribute to malice what could be explained by stupidity or carelessness.


If you find my comments wrongheaded or just plain disrespectful, please comment and give me the chance to correct myself. I added an addendum to my first post when I realized that my use of the word 'embarrassed' was making a much stronger, more confrontational statement than I intended.


I am sorry, John Loftus, that I offended you. That was not my intention, and I'm sorry that my comments in anyway precluded a discussion, which was my actual goal. If you decide you'd like to take up the question of tactics later, I'll be here.


--Leah

John W. Loftus said...

Leah, your sincere apology is accepted. I see you do understand cognitive dissonance theory and chose to act differently! That's impressive to me. I would probably have been better off not responding at all than responding as I did.

But I'm no longer interested in discussing this.

Cheers.

Jeffrey A. Myers said...

@ Breckmin,

Really?

What portions of Christian Theology survive if the Bible as revelatory knowledge is flawed?

I've heard numerous commentators say that only atheists and fundamnetalists believe that the Bible is literally true, but none of them provide any evidence or any actual descriptions of a workable theology that stems from an erroneous bible. If it isn't, true, doesn't that sort of undermine the whole damn enterprise, especially since so much of it is so incredibly far fetched? I mean, I think we can agree that the Iliad isn't true. By your formulation, should we give the Iliad's discourse on the nature of the Gods any credence given that neither are true?

It's fine if you want to argue that the Bible has important things to say about the origins and development of morality and that it has some insights into human nature. I would readily concede that point and fully recognize that the Bible is a profound document in that it provides us with a window into our emerging social consciousness as a species. But to argue that it has anything 'TRUE' to say about the alleged Creator of the Entire Universe, rather than merely reflecting our own emerging and highly imperfect understanding of our place in the Universe seems a bit far fetched if one concedes that it contains errors.

Afterall, a God who doesn't need second drafts and doesn't mangle his message and provide false information is necessarily greater than one who does.

LadyAtheist said...

Can we still suggest statement/questions?

How about these:
Morality is inherent in human nature, as it is in many communal species. The Bible and other books codify natural instincts; they do not restrain them.

The God of the Judeo-Christian Bible seems to have changed over time despite being immutable.

The "miracles" of Jesus are easily dismissed. 1) people lie 2) people make mistakes 3) people exaggerate 4) Jesus may have faked some of his miracles

If Jesus could change water into wine and feed the masses, why couldn't he make the fig tree bear fruit?

John W. Loftus said...

Of course, please do. Who knows but that one or more might be something better than I have thought up?

Breckmin said...

"What portions of Christian Theology survive if the Bible as revelatory knowledge is flawed?"

All earthly authorities are flawed to some small minor degree. No one is perfect on all details. We make mistakes. Any person on a witness stand could be discredited if you went back through their life and exposed all of their human mistakes (even in their field that they are supposed to specialize in). Bottom line: to be human is to make meaningless minor mistakes on details that have nothing to do with the core of the message.

The historical inerrancy is a little different than what developed from BB Warfield to the Chicago Statement of 1978. They didn't have the same hyper-technical view of "error" as to surrender all pragmatism with regards to meaningless details (and more importantly "inexactisms")

The Holy scriptures are filled with inexactisms as well as anthropocentric understandings of a prophet and also intentional (an perhaps unintentional) anthropomorphisms). Unintentional by the writer, but clearly not outside of God's omniscience to allow such...but this doesn't mean that God is somehow being deceptive (that would be yet another misapplication of hyper-technicality and a lack of practical wisdom).
God works through people. People sometimes make mistakes on minor details. So what? It doesn't change the Perfect TRUTH of the Word of God that is contained in scripture. It doesn't change theology, for instance, to have the wrong number of soldiers as a simple mistake in the orthography of the medium of scripture. God works perfectly through imperfection. All earthly authorities make mistakes. A human being filled with the Holy Spirit of God will occasionally mispeak and correct themselves..or give an inexactism or a minor error. It is foolish to invalidate everything they say about the truth of the Word of God (the real Word of God being contained in the imperfect medium of scripture)just because they made a minor mistake on a meaningless detail.
There are a thousand more things I could add here...especially involving the imperfection of human languages which were developed by people who were "learning."

It doesn't in any way change the truth of the REAL Word of God, which is the Truth of Jesus Christ and everything that bears testimony to Him.

The bible is not the law of God. Neither is the bible the statutes of God. The statutes and the law are "contained" in the medium of scripture. So also is the Word of God (not equal to the words of God).

Question everything.

Breckmin said...

"believe that the Bible is literally true,"

you can take a literal interpretation (with the exception of anthropomorphisms and parables,etc).. and NOT believe in strict biblical inerrancy.

verbal plenary inspiration and co-authorship vs conceptual inspiration and prophetic authorship both allow for a historical interpretation of Genesis.

The latter, however, has more freedom to explain things!

Question everything

Breckmin said...

"1. If God exists, then he responsible for the existence of evil, either because he is the knowing cause of it, or because he knowingly allows it."

But just because He allows something does NOT mean He wants it to happen. To claim such would be evasive to how we are little creators ourselves..created in God's Image with free will (limited sovereignty/self-generating will/self-impulse volition,) and can "choose" between options without our will being controlled.

Both "in control" and "control" (or cause) are imperfect, btw.

We need to clarify here that God has NO trouble accepting responsiblity for creating "Love" or beings who CAN love and allow SIN to come into existence (our cause) so that He can save us from it (ultimately from ourselves and how sin/choice is a danger to us).

God DOES cause calamity/judgement and unfavorable circumstances for His Purposes (which we can discuss logically). But this type of evil (sometimes natural evil) is NOT the same thing as our sin.

We alone are responsible when we choose evil (or choose to disagree with the Holy Infinite Creator in any way).

Breckmin said...

"2. Most of the people who have ever lived never heard of the Christian god. If "belief in God" is a requirement for salvation, then God is responsible for those people not being saved, because he did not make his existence known to them."

The problem with living under favorable circumstances is we sometimes fall into the trap of entitlement. We feel that we are entitled to certain things (blessings from God, for instance), or instant forgiveness with NO consequences for actions and NO regard for the Holiness and the Justice/Order of God.

If mercy or grace is something that God "SHOULD" give someone...then it isn't really mercy or grace anymore. Grace is something UNDESERVED. This is something most people do not understand. They don't know how we dirty ourselves with our own sin before a Holy God. They don't understand that the rag makes itself dirty. They don't understand that God WILL NOT (can not because of logical order that is consistent with His Own nature) fellowship with evil (unforgiven sin or unrighteousness). That is why we need Christ's absolute righteousness in order to fellowship with a Holy God/Creator.

People are responsible for their own sin. We can not expect God to be LESS than He is as a Holy God and a God of Perfect Justice and Perfect Order who must impose consequences for actions... and judge the evil works of men/women.

God takes NO pleasure in the judgment of the wicked. BUT He WILL judge (death is the final reality for those who live this life as fantasy)sin and impose consequences for actions.

There is NO equal opportunity grace/mercy here. Everyone is born under different circumstances with OTHER people's choices affecting them. There is NO such thing as "fair" as it applies to equal opportunity. NO two people ever share the same life experience... and dividing things equally is only sharing NOT fairness.

God does judge appropriately (with co-existing justifications which must be addressed in addition to His omniscience, His Perfect Justice, His ownership of the universe and His Infinite Power to enforce His Justice). In that sense God is perfectly "fair" - but NOT if fairness means equal opportunity.

Think about it... if everyone gets it then there is no way to identify it as mercy. Question everything (including NOT isolating on the last point as though that is the only reason for people going to hell - just to demonstrate mercy - that would be isolating when there are reasons which are multi faceted)

Breckmin said...

"3. "God created it" is not an explanation of how the universe came to be, since no account is given of how God created it, why he created it, or why he created it to be like it is instead of to be different than it is."

The details of how someone creates does NOT invalidate the fact that they DID create. We can see complex mechanical systems or even large structures (wonders)and have NO explanation as to "how" they were built...but still (actually) SEE clearly the finished designed product and know it was created.

For some people, the improbability of a single pebble existing in the universe is enough order and complexity to know that there was a Creator of some sort...for others - no matter how much information you place in front of them...
they don't WANT to know that there is a Creator (the scripture bears testimony to this).

Question everything

P.Coyle said...

"1. If God exists, then he responsible for the existence of evil, either because he is the knowing cause of it, or because he knowingly allows it."

But just because He allows something does NOT mean He wants it to happen. To claim such would be evasive to how we are little creators ourselves..created in God's Image with free will (limited sovereignty/self-generating will/self-impulse volition,) and can "choose" between options without our will being controlled.


What you are saying is that God places a higher value on the free will of evildoers than he does on the well-being of the evildoers' victims. In the eyes of God, apparently, it is better that the many should suffer than that the one should be restrained from causing suffering.

Jesus is quoted as saying, "Be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect." Taking Jesus at his word here, and applying your argument to what he said, the obvious implication is that, in imitation of God's divine perfection, we should make no attempt to restrain the free will of evildoers. Thus, if you see a man raping a woman, you should do nothing to try to stop him, because you must, like God, place a higher value on the rapist's free will than on the rights of his victim. Similarly, if you know that a bomber plans to blow up an airplane, you should do nothing to try to prevent it, because the free will of the bomber has a higher value than the lives and safety of the passengers. I would argue, however, that if you have it within your power to prevent a rape, or to prevent the bombing of an airliner, and deliberately choose not to do so, you must assume some degree of responsibility for the rape or the bombing, though of course the nature of your responsibility is different from that of the actual perpetrators in such cases.

But the argument that God bears responsibility for evil merely because he stands aside and allows it to happen is the weak form of the argument. The strong form of the argument is that God is responsible for evil because God has deliberately brought it about. Christian theology would have it that God is the uncaused first cause of everything. If that is true, then God is the uncaused first cause of evil, since evil is part of the "everything" caused by God. Like everything else, evil could not exist unless God had caused it. True, evil is often perpetrated by evildoers, and not always by God directly, but is not God is responsible for the existence of the evildoers? Hitler could not have brought about the Holocaust unless God had created Hitler. Stalin could not have brought about the deaths of millions in the Soviet Union unless God had created Stalin. If God is the first cause uncaused of everything, then God is responsible for the existence of Hitler and Stalin, and thus shares responsibility with Hitler and Stalin for their actions.

Certainly he does so if he knew in advance what Hitler and Stalin would do if he created them. A few Christians have fully grasped the implication of the strong form of the argument that God is responsible for evil because of his act of creation. In order to try to wiggle out from that implication, they contend that God deliberately chose to make himself ignorant of the consequences of his own actions at the moment of creation. Thus, they say, God is not responsible for the evil that would result from his act of creation because he did not know about it. Obviously, this contention is not based on any observation or evidence, but is rather an attempt to preserve the notion that God, if he exists, must be perfect. We know that to be true, because Jesus said that God was perfect! However, the contention fails. One reason it fails is for the simple reason that even a "divine" being would not be absolved of responsibility for the consequences of his actions because of his ignorance of those consequences, if he deliberately imposed that ignorance upon himself by an act of will in an attempt to escape from those consequences.

P.Coyle said...

"2. Most of the people who have ever lived never heard of the Christian god. If "belief in God" is a requirement for salvation, then God is responsible for those people not being saved, because he did not make his existence known to them."

The problem with living under favorable circumstances is we sometimes fall into the trap of entitlement. We feel that we are entitled to certain things (blessings from God, for instance), or instant forgiveness with NO consequences for actions and NO regard for the Holiness and the Justice/Order of God.


I am an atheist, so of course I don't believe in Judgment Day. Nevertheless, it is amusing to imagine you and Richard Dawkins both standing before Jesus on the Day of Judgment and for Jesus to decree that Dawkins shall go to heaven, and you shall go to hell.

If that were to occur, you might, perhaps consider, yourself ill-used by Jesus that he should choose Dawkins over you, but upon reflection you would would presumably agree that you had simply fallen into the trap of entitlement. After all, you are no more entitled to salvation than Dawkins, and Jesus will choose whom he will choose.

P.Coyle said...

"3. "God created it" is not an explanation of how the universe came to be, since no account is given of how God created it, why he created it, or why he created it to be like it is instead of to be different than it is."

The details of how someone creates does NOT invalidate the fact that they DID create. We can see complex mechanical systems or even large structures (wonders)and have NO explanation as to "how" they were built...but still (actually) SEE clearly the finished designed product and know it was created.


That does not invalidate the argument that "it was created" is not an explanation for the origins of the universe. "It was created" answers no questions, but instead raises three:

1. How?
2. Why?
3. Why to be like this, instead of to be like that?

The hypothesis that is wasn't created reduces our puzzlement (or it least it ought to, if we aren't in thrall to some ancient religion cooked up by some ignorant Middle Eastern tribesman a few thousand years ago).

For some people, the improbability of a single pebble existing in the universe is enough order and complexity to know that there was a Creator of some sort...

Or a trillion trillion trillion creators of some sort. But somehow we are always told that there was only one.

If the probability of the existence of a pebble seems low to you, the probability of the existence of a "Creator" seems even lower to me.

What is the probability that the pebble in my shoe that so annoys me at the moment was created by a 47-year old guy named "Bob" who has a mole on his left cheek and walks with a slight limp, who said (in perfect ancient Hebrew), "Let there be pebble!" and lo, there was pebble? What is the probability that the pebble was created by Bob for the purpose of finding its way into my shoe to annoy me?

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"...God works through people..."

What? He's not omnipotent enough to do his own writing, nis own killing, his own dirty work?

And when we "earthly authorities" that "are flawed to some small minor degree" make the 'inexactisms, interpolations and other assorted errors when taking dicktation from God,

Why doesn't He correct us, and make it clear? Jeezus H. Christ, He's suppose to be OMNIPOTENT!

You admit, "No one is perfect on all details. We make mistakes."

God knows this too, being OMNISCIENT, but he destroyed the world (your fairytale, not mine!) because of it.

How can a "perfect" being create that which is NOT perfect?

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"...They don't understand that God WILL NOT (can not because of logical order that is consistent with His Own nature) fellowship with evil (unforgiven sin or unrighteousness)."

You've just bound God into actions that he can perform there, bucko.

By your own statement, God must follow rules, whether He made them Himself, or whether they originate from some misguided theological rantings, the effect is the same:

Your statement LIMITS God, and makes Him subservient to LOGIC.

Heretic!

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"...There is NO equal opportunity grace/mercy here. Everyone is born under different circumstances with OTHER people's choices affecting them. There is NO such thing as "fair" as it applies to equal opportunity."

If there is no FAIRNESS, then there is no JUSTICE. And if there is no JUSTICE, then your God reduces to capriciousness.

Breckmin said...

"If there is no FAIRNESS, then there is no JUSTICE."

You are missing the equivocation on the word fairness.

God is perfectly fair when it comes to consequences for actions. He is perfectly fair when it comes to JUSTICE and judging our sins (moral evil that we create with our choices that require justice).
This is judging according to our works (when there is no payment through faith in Christ). In other words, God is perfectly "fair" when it comes to doing what is "appropriate."

When it comes to a DIFFERENT meaning for the English word "fair" then this word becomes ridiculous because there is NO equal opportunity observed in the creation of individuals at different points of time and under different circumstances. Question everything.

Equal opportunity is actually an irrational thing to appeal to.

Breckmin said...

"Your statement LIMITS God, and makes Him subservient to LOGIC."

Will God destroy Himself? Or make Himself weak? Will God lie?

If you said "You are a heretic because you have made Him subservient to always being truthful" or "subservient to always existing" or "subservient to always being powerful" etc.

all you are really doing here is misusing the English language and concepts that pivot God's nature against His ability to be something other than His attributes.

Is God subservient to His Omniscience? Is it possible for God NOT to know something? If NOT, then God is bound by His Knowledge of everything. Nonsense.

Nonsense is still nonsense..even when you apply it to God. God being a God of Love and Order and Justice is NOT a limitation, any more than being a God who seeks/desires relationships with His children whom He is adopting out of this temporary creation.

Breckmin said...

"when taking dictation from God,"

The scriptures are NOT the "words of God."

They are words of men (who are inspired by God's Holy Spirit) communicating (in all languages that they are translated into)the Holy Truth/Reason/Word/Logic of God.
Not even strict fundamentalists believe in mechanical dictation (except for the Decalogue).

Q.E.

Breckmin said...

"Why doesn't He correct us, and make it clear?"

You are assuming that sinful beings would all be obedient even IF God did this.

God DOES convict us (those who seek Him in humility - on their knees and on their faces before a Holy Creator)of the truth of the gospel of Christ. He DOES make His salvation and GRACE clear to those who trust Him and seek Him.

Trust/Faith in the work that Jesus Christ has done (almost 2000 years ago) is sine qua non.

Breckmin said...

"You admit, "No one is perfect on all details. We make mistakes."

God knows this too, being OMNISCIENT, but he destroyed the world"

And knew He would do this before He created beings who are little creators who need to learn and need the potential for disagreement with such omniscient Creator removed [{in some way such as giving them knowledge which needs to be learned, motive (loyalty and love) and the Holy Creator living inside them as to remove all helplessness to prevent logical disfellowship due to such morally illogical disagreement}]from them for ALL of eternity.

"How can a "perfect" being create that which is NOT perfect?"

The Perfect and Holy Creator created "little creators" who can love Him. Love requires choice. You can't say yes if you can't say no. You can't agree with God if you can't disagree with God. Disagreeing is a bad thing...an evil thing. It is sin. True love is self-generated. It comes from self-impulse and involves choosing to agree with God. What if you choose NOT to love God?

Your question of "How can a "perfect" being create that which is NOT perfect?" is tantamount to asking "How can a Perfect God create beings who don't love Him?"

Answer: Love requires choice which creates the ability to NOT love.

God is actually in the "process" of perfecting beings (adopted children) for all of eternity. This is NOT process theology.
Repeat. This is NOT process theology, because God is not attempting trial and error here. God is omniscient and knows exactly what the temporary creation will accomplish with those who TRUST Him. With those who are regenerated and giving eternal life because their sin is forgiven.

This temporary creation is perfectly what it is supposed to be in order to have the future glory of love in heaven (as well as other things which are multi-faceted and can not be isolated on).

The answer to your question involves "willingness." It involves trusting. It involves loving the Creator because you WANT to...

"How can a "perfect" being create that which is NOT perfect?"

God created us "good." Nowhere does it say we were perfect. How can we be perfect if we don't know how much God loves us? How can we be perfect if we don't know of God's Self-Sacricing Love? How can we be perfect if we don't know that we should always TRUST God? How can we be perfect when we haven't learned yet to NOT trust in ourselves over trusting God..or making ourselves as an idol against the Infinite Creator because we exalt ourselves and disagree with the Holy Infinite Creator and Owner of the universe?

Perfection of a little creator and "being of choice" is a work in progress (and God is completely omniscient regarding this process and that is why process theology fails).

Perhaps "perfection" requires a temporary creation to deal with the REAL problem of sin...and how choice is a danger to us...and how we are helpless without God.

Breckmin said...

"What you are saying is that God places a higher value on the free will of evildoers than he does on the well-being of the evildoers' victims."

And yet God says "Vengeance is Mine" meaning that He will indeed judge! Why would God JUDGE that which He "places a higher value" on as you put it? This is non-sequitur to the fact that not everything that God allows (sin)is able to be reduced to what God wants or values. You are forgetting the variable that we are little creators (creatures of volition) in a system which allows for relationships and interactions and choices which affect each other (not ALL of which God is pleased with).

"God places a higher value on the free will of evildoers"

They already possess this free will by being created in God's Image. You can't ignore the necessity of free will in order to have LOVE. You can't ignore what is required in a system in order to have geniune relationships and love.


"than he does on the well-being of the evildoers' victims"

Or that He looks to a greater good of *ALL* beings of choice having free will (so that LOVE and relationships can exist) rather than to the abuse of such ability.

What you are doing is isolating on individual abuses of choice(which take away equal opportunity which doesn't exist anyway)which God will judge and claiming (that by God allowing them) He somehow "values" them more than
the victim's destiny(s)(which lead to either grace or judgement).
First we have equivocation on "well-being" as it relates to a Christian...since God works all things together for good for those who love Him. Second, we have an issue with regard to an application of the word "value" as it relates to the SIN that God will judge.

This is a very important dynamic to discuss and I realize I am not going to fully answer it in such a small blog space... but please understand that not everything God allows means that He "values" it...other than to judge it perfectly according to its (their) transgression and forever display His Perfect Justice and Holiness and not be eternally mocked by injustice never occuring.

God's justice is inclusive of mercy to those who seek forgiveness. Mercy is NOT obligated to everyone (or it is not mercy). This is what people do not understand.

Breckmin said...

"in imitation of God's divine perfection,"

We do NOT own the universe and sustain all matter and the abilities for beings of choice to exist.


"we should make no attempt to restrain the free will of evildoers."

Except that we are commanded to???
You are missing the difference between a finite being who is supposed to be obedient within a system and an Infinite Creator Who has already JUDGED the beings who are in such system and saving people "out of" such a system. You are missing the necessities of the system itself (as a whole) and how MERCY is being given within the already judged system. As long as you miss the fact that this is a judged system...nothing will make sense to you.


"Thus, if you see a man raping a woman, you should do nothing to try to stop him, because you must, like God, place a higher value on the rapist's free will than on the rights of his victim."

God doesn't "want" men to rape women. We are supposed to stop such atrocities within the already "judged" system of people making choices. We are commanded to enforce God's Law.

As with the last post I wrote, you are asserting that God places a "higher value" on something that He commands against and will judge. On something that He does NOT desire to occur, but allows within the already judged system (where He can turn these occurrences into learning for those who love Him).

Breckmin said...

"Christian theology would have it that God is the uncaused first cause of everything."

Except causes like "sin" which are done by little creators that God has created in His universe (capable of relationships/love - but we can't isolate on this because there is SO MUCH more).

"If that is true, then God is the uncaused first cause of evil,"

This ignores that sin is a potential byproduct of choice. It ignores that God created little creators who create themselves.
(non physical things such as moral actions - sin or good/obedience).

"since evil is part of the "everything" caused by God."

Evil has two meanings. Sin is NOT caused by God. Calamity/judgement/ and circumstances interpreted as evil are different than "individual" choices such as obedience or disobedience.


"Like everything else, evil could not exist unless God had caused it."

Unless sin is produced by a being of choice and this potential needs to be dealt with (because it is a danger to such a being - but even this can not be isolated from other connected premises).

"True, evil is often perpetrated by evildoers, and not always by God directly, but is not God is responsible for the existence of the evildoers?"

If you miss that God doesn't WANT us to sin then you will miss the difference between blessing and judgement. Clearly, God created beings knowing that they He would have to deal with evildoers (their potential)and the redemption of certain evildoers who get saved from the penalty of their evil.

God is NOT responsible for individual sin. That is a result of choice. God has no trouble accepting responsibility for the creation of humankind in His Conscious Image...one of the reasons is clearly because of LOVE and "redemption" through Christ.

If you miss Christ, redemption and salvation, then nothing makes sense.

Breckmin said...

"it is amusing to imagine you and Richard Dawkins both standing before Jesus on the Day of Judgment and for Jesus to decree that Dawkins shall go to heaven, and you shall go to hell."

I hope and pray that BOTH of us go to heaven and eternal fellowship and glory with the Holy Creator.


"After all, you are no more entitled to salvation than Dawkins, and Jesus will choose whom he will choose."

But God's choice is NOT whimsical and this is evasive to the reality of forgiveness of sin/wrong doing.

Unless Dawkins is forgiven (and I pray that he someday will be), then he will have to pay for (eternally approach payment but never fully reach it)his sin against God. I already recognize by God's grace that I can not pay for my sin. I trust completely in the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross for this payment.

Breckmin said...

@P.Coyle
I would love to go through the third point at your additional request. I have already written a large amount in this thread (which will logically bring forth more questions). The "whys" we can mostly answer. The "how" is different because we would have to be God in order to fully understand the complexities of "how" to a more defined degree.
I'd be honored to give a more thorough explanation on your request.

P.Coyle said...

Breckmin said...

If you miss that God doesn't WANT us to sin then you will miss the difference between blessing and judgement. Clearly, God created beings knowing that they He would have to deal with evildoers (their potential)and the redemption of certain evildoers who get saved from the penalty of their evil.

Breckmin, I'm afraid that you are the one who is missing the painfully obvious. Given your theology that it was God who created "beings," and if God had perfect foreknowledge of what those beings were going to do before he created them, then God is co-responsible with those beings for the consequences of their actions. Their actions are a consequence of his act of creating them, and (we are presuming here), God knew precisely what they were going to do when he created them.

Consider, by way of illustrating this point, the story of the Garden of Eden (and we need not, for the purposes of this illustration, specify whether the story is literally true or merely an allegory). If we presume that God has divine foreknowledge, then he knew, when he created the serpent, that the serpent would attempt to persuade Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. He knew, further, that she would be persuaded and eat it, and he knew, finally that Adam would eat it likewise. And yet he created Adam, Eve, and the serpent, knowing precisely what they were going to do. This made him knowingly responsible for what they did. After all, don't we also presume that God also has free will and could have chosen to create a universe in which Adam and Eve did not eat the fruit? Could he not have chosen not to create Adam and Eve at all if he didn't like what they are going to do?

I would argue that the story of the Garden of Eden (taken as literal truth or as mere allegory) makes absolutely no sense unless it presumes that God did not know before he created them that Adam and Eve would disobey him. Nevertheless, surely there are plenty of Christians who believe in the literal or allegorical truth of the Eden story and at the same time believe that God has perfect foreknowledge; they are incapable of seeing the logical contradiction involved in holding both views simultaneously.

This theological matter of supposed divine foreknowledge has another implication, and that is that God must know, when he creates a person, how he will ultimately judge that person. In other words God is "pre-judiced" for or against those whom he creates, because he knows in advance whether he will subject them to heavenly reward or hellish punishment. How can one argue that God doesn't want people to go to hell, if when he creates a person he knows for an absolute certainty that he will send that person to hell? As a practical matter, God would be creating people for the purpose of sending them to hell, because the number of people who are going to go to hell is something he has predestined by his own choice, as are the specific individuals who are predestined to go there.