Friday, January 30, 2015

Stephen Fry blows it by assuming he knows the mind of god

This video is making the rounds and a lot of atheists are wetting their pants over Stephen Fry's response to the question of what he would would say to "he, she, or it" if he encountered god when he dies.

My questions would be "Who are you? Which groups of humans (if any) got it right when making up a religion? Tell me about yourself and why you didn't reveal yourself to me."

That's not what Stephen Fry would do. He makes the assumption that he knows the mind of god and attacks the god for not being nice to humans. In other words, he accepts the problem of evil and assumes that the god he is facing gives a damn about some obscure species on a minor planet in one of billions of galaxies. Later on Stephen Fry concedes that he could be talking to the Greek gods or some other gods but by then it's too late.

The god he is addressing may or may not have done any of the things in the Bible. If he isn't that god then he will know that Stephen Fry is attacking a strawman. If he is the god of the Bible then presumably he/she/it had his/her/its reasons for doing apparently evil things and Stephen Fry is about to get educated about the real mind of god. That may turn out badly for Stephen Fry.

If you ever run into any real gods I'd advise you not to mess with them.


Many of my atheist friends think that Fry's response is fantastic because he really shocks the interviewer, Gay Byrne [Stephen Fry on God]. That's naive. Most intelligent Christians have developed some very good rationalizations concerning the problem of evil. They've heard it all before and they know how to respond. One of the classic responses is that cannot they know the mind of god. But Stephen Fry knows the mind of god and this is puzzling because Fry is an atheist.


235 comments :

  1. I think this is an unfair analysis. Gay Byrne being a Christian, it is a justified assumption that part of the requested hypothetical is that we are talking about the Christian god and not a nondescript afterlife
    Furthermore, Fry does not presume to know the mind of God, he rather replies based on the perceived actions (or inactions) of God. He quite rightly doesn't concern himself with this god's mindset.

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    1. I just remembered that "no one knows the mind of God" is a very selective statement, trotted out when needed to dismiss points like these, but forgotten when talking about God's sacrificial love and God's anger at sin. There believers cbecome quite knowledgeable of the mind of God.

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  2. probably the worst post larry has put out since i've visited the blog, in general im usually in full agreement.

    Quite frankly it doesn't matter if X random theologian has an answer for why there is unnecessary suffering. The answer has always been terrible. This "you don't know the mind of god" answer is no different than me saying Hitler or stalin can do whatever they want with you because hitler and stalin said so. Ultimately no reason needs to be given if you believe in such a concept of a deity. Hence why many theologians say "a god can do whatever he wants with you because he created you".

    If we are so called created with independent free thinking minds by these deities then we have every right to judge the incompetence and deliberate maliciousness of the design. The fly is perfectly created for the spread of diseases. There is some really nasty stuff in nature. Things like Cuckoos laying eggs in different birds nest and then when the baby cuckoo gets bigger it throws out all the other chicks to their deaths. All this so called design could and should be judgeable else you are a slave.

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    1. What if the god turns out to be Satan and he really likes evil?

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    2. Sorry. I answered before watching the video. My bad.

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    3. The question was clearly in reference to the Christian god. Nobody else, for example, has "pearly gates". Not Zeus. Not Satan. Just YHWH.

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    4. Further, the video begins with a reference to the death of "Oscar" - presumably Oscar Wilde, who was, stricken with cerebral meningitis, semi-comatose, baptised a Roman Catholic on his deathbed.

      And we know all too well what's in that particular monster god's mind.

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    5. @John Harshman

      So, imagine that you have died and you find youself facing some god at the pearly gates. Is the first thing that comes to mind that you start aguing with god about causing the deluge or allowing children to get cancer? Really? That's the most important question you can think of?

      Clearly you now know that god exists and children still get cancer. What's the point of attacking god for letting this happen? Do you think you're going to persuade him/her/it to change?

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    6. "What if the god turns out to be Satan and he really likes evil?"

      Then I reserve the right to tell him I think he's a piece of shit. What other alternative is there really? Trying to falsely plead for mercy with an entity that is supposedly aware of your thoughts, in order to be given the chance for a lifetime of slavery?

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    7. Larry,I don't get your response. By the same standard, asking for information about why God didn't appear to you is just as useless. In the hypothetical, you would know God, you just rejected him, according to Christian theology.

      the only appropriate response would seem to be to parrot scripture. "My knee will bend, I will plead for mercy, Jesus will cast me out and I will spend eternity in agonizing torment."

      Except that the story doesn't work. The construct, the machine is faulty and gears are popping out all over the place. You chose to on God's hiddenness. Fry on God's moral atrocities. I don't see how either one is a bad path or a bad response.

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    8. @Cafeeine Addicted

      If I met god, my mind would be full of questions. Since I know for a fact that cancer exists it would now be evident that this is consistent with the existence of god. I wouldn't see much point in complaining to god that he/she/it didn't conform to some false stereotype that I previously didn't believe in.

      I am an atheist because there's no evidence that gods exist. That's why I would mostly be interested in knowing whether I was just too stupid to recognize the evidence or whether god was deliberately trying to hide from humans.

      Just seeing god would lead to certain questions. If he/she/it looked completely foreign, like some kind of strange alien fish, then I probably wouldn't spend a lot of time asking about the Bible. If he/she/it looked like the Greek god Venus then this would lead to a different set of questions.

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    9. To understand the issue of the permission of evil by God of the Bible one must know the following:

      1. Why God allowed evil and suffering and whether it is permanent or temporary?
      2. Who is responsible for evil and suffering? Is God responsible for evil and suffering?

      Some people confuse the concept of allowing the existence of evil and suffering and being responsible for evil and suffering, which are clearly two different things.

      If God of the Bible allows the existence of evil and suffering the question one must ask is: why and is God in charge of this world as these two concepts clearly contradicted each other.

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    10. My objection is that you've misunderstood the question. The question makes clear that the God in question is a traditional Christian God.

      It wasn't "what if you find yourself in some afterlife and you meet some divine entity ready to chitchat." It places Fry at the gates of Christian heaven with a God asking him to account for himself.

      For Fry to give a generic answer like you do would be to avoid the question at hand.

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    11. The Bible clearly shows that God of the Bible is at issue with Satan, who challenged His right to decided what is right and wrong (good and bad)

      Gen 3:1-5
      “Now the serpent (Satan) was the most cautious of all the wild animals of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it said to the woman: “Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” 2 At this the woman said to the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden.3 But God has said about the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden: ‘You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it; otherwise you will die.’” 4 At this the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die. 5 For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.”

      Satan also claims that people serve God out of selfishness and not out of love.

      Job 1:6-12
      ” 6 Now the day came when the sons of the true God entered to take their station before Jehovah, and Satan also entered among them. 7 Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Where have you come from?” Satan answered Jehovah: “From roving about on the earth and from walking about in it.” 8 And Jehovah said to Satan: “Have you taken note of my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth. He is an upright man of integrity, fearing God and shunning what is bad.” 9 At that Satan answered Jehovah: “Is it for nothing that Job has feared God? 10 Have you not put up a protective hedge around him+ and his house and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock has spread out in the land. 11 But, for a change, stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your very face.” 12 Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Look! Everything that he has is in your hand. Only do not lay your hand on the man himself!” So Satan went out from the presence of Jehovah.”

      The Bible also clearly shows that Satan is the main cause of evil and suffering on the Earth as God allowed Satan to prove whether his challenge against God's right to rule and decide what is right and wrong was valid or not.

      Job 2:1-12
      ” Afterward the day came when the sons of the true God entered to take their station before Jehovah, and Satan also entered among them to take his station before Jehovah. 2 Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Where have you come from?” Satan answered Jehovah: “From roving about on the earth and from walking about in it.” 3 And Jehovah said to Satan: “Have you taken note of my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth. He is an upright man of integrity, fearing God and shunning what is bad. He is still holding firmly to his integrity, even though you try to incite me against him to destroy him for no reason.” 4 But Satan answered Jehovah: “Skin for skin. A man will give everything that he has for his life. 5 But, for a change, stretch out your hand and strike his bone and flesh, and he will surely curse you to your very face.” 6 Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Look! He is in your hand! Only do not take his life!”7 So Satan went out from the presence of Jehovah and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And Job took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself, and he was sitting among the ashes.”

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    12. JW theology is even more bizarre than most Christian theology, and JW exegesis even more tortured, even though aided by convenient though semiliterate translation. If God -- sorry, Jehovah -- has the power to stop Satan from working and yet doesn't act, he's responsible for what Satan does.

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    13. So, imagine that you have died and you find youself facing some god at the pearly gates. Is the first thing that comes to mind that you start aguing with god about causing the deluge or allowing children to get cancer?

      The first thing that will come to my mind is: "Bugger! Bugger, bugger, bugger bugger! I hate being wrong!".

      "Gordon Way's astonishment at being suddenly shot dead was nothing compared to his astonishment at what happened next.” - Douglas Adams.

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    14. The first thing that would come to my mind would be that nothing I could say would have any purpose whatsoever; I'd wait for the next development. But that wasn't Fry's situation. Fry's situation was being asked a silly question by an interviewer, and he responded in an appropriate way.

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    15. One thing's for sure: God is unlikely to believe in objective morality. 'Might makes right' indeed!

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    16. The scenario described in the video is very unrealistic according to the Bible and it is more like the mainstream Christian teaching. Life after death is not a biblical teaching. The afterlife dogma has been absorbed into the mainstream Christianity from the pagan teachings and Greek philosophers. It has nothing to do with Jehovah God who allows everyone, almost everyone to repent. Yes, that includes atheists and possibly monsters who killed many, many people...

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    17. Yes, that includes atheists and possibly monsters who killed many, many people...

      Does Jehovah have a chance to repent after having killed many, many people?

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    18. There is no need for Jehovah to repent. His perfectly balanced attributes of love and justice, as well as his purpose to return the Earth to paradisiac conditions impel Him to act toward the fulfillment of his promises.

      How could a God of love destroy any humans?

      "That question is understandable, for the destruction of human life is not pleasant to contemplate. Really, though, it was God’s love that impelled him to take such drastic measures against the wicked. To illustrate: When a patient develops gangrene, doctors often have little choice but to amputate the infected limb. Few would enjoy performing such a procedure, but a good doctor knows that the alternative—the spread of infection—is worse. Because he cares, he carries out this unpleasant task for the good of his patient.

      Similarly, Jehovah did not enjoy destroying the Canaanites. He himself says: “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” (Ezekiel 33:11, Darby) At the same time, he purposed for the nation of Israel to produce the Messiah, the one who would open the way to salvation for all those exercising faith. (John 3:16) Thus, God simply could not allow Israel to become infected by the disgusting practices of the Canaanites. He therefore ordered the Canaanites to be cut off, or evicted, from the land. In so doing, God demonstrated outstanding love—love that moved him to perform an unpleasant task for the benefit of his faithful worshippers."

      We have to keep in mind that Jehovah God, unlike Satan, can undo the damage done to his creation and bring ALL the deserving ones back to life in the upcoming 1000 year rule of His Son-Jesus Christ.

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    19. Just so you know: I find JW theology even more childish and naive than the average. Typical monster rationalization: "Now look what you made me do" and "there'll be pie in the sky by and by".

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    20. You are entitled to.

      However, do you find theologies that teach "holy wars" more mature? How about the ones that removed God's name Jehovah from their Bible translations? Maybe you find more appealing theologies that teach the love of neighbor but bless the killing of the members of the same religion in wars? How about eternal punishment for refusing to believe or obey God?

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    21. Professor Moran,

      "What if the god turns out to be Satan and he really likes evil?"?

      You are actually not far off. According to the Bible Satan is the god (temporary) of this world and he likes and causes evil.

      "The apostle Paul associates Satan with “the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places,” and he speaks of them as “the world rulers of this darkness.” (Eph 6:11, 12) As a governing force in the invisible realm immediately about the earth, Satan is “the ruler of the authority of the air.” (Eph 2:2) In Revelation he is shown to be the one “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Re 12:9) The apostle John said that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1Jo 5:19) He is therefore “the ruler of this world.” (Joh 12:31)".

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    22. Quest,
      "If God is all-knowledgeable, all-knowing, how could he have not known that Adam and eve will eat the apple and sin...? Or did he...?"

      Jehovah God didn't know that Adam and Eve would rebel and sin. He has the ability of foreknowledge but He uses it selectively. There is a difference between being able to know all and selectively choosing to know something or not.

      If Jehovah God had known that Adam and Eve would rebel and sin in advance, wouldn't that make him at least partially responsible for evil associated with their sin? It would also not make sense even from human point of view to go ahead with the creation of the universe and life knowing in advance that humans would fail. It wouldn't be loving, would it?

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    23. «Jehovah God didn't know that Adam and Eve would rebel and sin. He has the ability of foreknowledge but He uses it selectively. There is a difference between being able to know all and selectively choosing to know something or not.» - Being a control freak, he would probably choose to know...

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    24. "He has the ability of foreknowledge but He uses it selectively"

      A more blatant celebration of willful ignorance I have not seen.
      It sets an example to how Christians themselves act, selectively dismissing knowledge to maintain their beliefs. Something like "If Jehovah himself chooses to remain ignorant, it can't be that bad"

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    25. Caffeine Addicted,

      I'm confused. Are you suggesting that Jehovah knew Adam and Eve would sin?

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    26. No Johnny, I don't actually believe that story ever happened. I'm commenting on the tortured but failed rationalizations required for the narrative in Genesis to gain a semblance of coherence.

      To claim that Jehovah is selective in his foreknowledge is to say that he chooses not to know something. Is that not the definition of willful ignorance?

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    27. OK. Thanks for clearing it up.
      Just to make sure, you believe God is all knowing that kind of stuff or no?

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    28. No, I'm an atheist, I don't think god exists. Theists seem to think so, though.

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    29. So, what are you? Agnostic like professor Moran and the rest of the crew?

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    30. Why are you replying to "I'm an atheist" with "So, what are you?"

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    31. All atheists are technically agnostics are they not?

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    32. Most are, although not all in my experience and so am I. I'm not fluent in the exact position of pr. Moran or who the "crew" is.

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    33. ALL ATHEISTS ARE ACTUALLY AGNOSTICS UNLESS THEY CAN PROVE THEY ARE NOT

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    34. Do you take the same stance for theists too?
      Depending on the definitions used I may agree.

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    35. Did God Know That Adam and Eve Would Sin?
      1 of 3

      "MANY people ask this question in all sincerity. When the issue of God’s permission of wickedness is raised, the sin of the first human pair in the garden of Eden quickly comes into focus. The thought that ‘God knows everything’ may easily lead some to the conclusion that God must have known beforehand that Adam and Eve would disobey him.
      If God truly had foreknown that this perfect couple would sin, what would this imply? Such a notion would attribute many negative traits to God. He would seem to be unloving, unjust, and insincere. Some might label it cruel to expose the first humans to something that was foreknown to end badly. God might seem responsible for—or at least an accomplice to—all the badness and suffering that followed throughout history. To some, our Creator would even appear foolish.
      Does Jehovah God, as revealed in the Scriptures, match such a negative description? To answer that, let us examine what the Bible says about the creative works and the personality of Jehovah.
      “It Was Very Good”
      Regarding God’s creation, including the first humans on earth, the Genesis account says: “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Adam and Eve were perfectly made, ideally suited to their earthly environment. There was nothing deficient in their makeup. Created “very good,” they were certainly capable of the good conduct that was required of them. They were created “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27) So they had the capacity to demonstrate to some degree the godly qualities of wisdom, loyal love, justice, and goodness. Reflecting such qualities would help them to make decisions that would benefit them and bring pleasure to their heavenly Father.
      Jehovah endowed these perfect, intelligent creatures with free will. So they were by no means preprogrammed to please God—like some sort of robot. Think about it. Which would mean more to you—a gift that is given mechanically or one that comes from the heart? The answer is obvious. Likewise, if Adam and Eve had freely chosen to obey God, their obedience would have meant all the more to him. The capacity to choose enabled the first human pair to obey Jehovah out of love.—Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.
      Righteous, Just, and Good
      The Bible reveals Jehovah’s qualities to us. These qualities make it impossible for him to have anything to do with sin. Jehovah “is a lover of righteousness and justice,” says Psalm 33:5. Thus, James 1:13 notes: “With evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” Out of fairness and consideration, God warned Adam: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) The first couple were given a choice between endless life and death. Would it not have been hypocritical for God to warn them against a specific sin while already knowing the bad outcome? As “a lover of righteousness and justice,” Jehovah would not have offered a choice that in reality did not exist.
      Jehovah is also abundant in goodness. (Psalm 31:19) Describing God’s goodness, Jesus said: “Who is the man among you whom his son asks for bread—he will not hand him a stone, will he? Or, perhaps, he will ask for a fish—he will not hand him a serpent, will he? Therefore, if you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will your Father who is in the heavens give good things to those asking him?” (Matthew 7:9-11) God gives “good things” to his creatures. The way humans were created and the Paradise home prepared for them testify to God’s goodness. Would such a good Sovereign be so cruel as to provide a beautiful home that he knew would be taken away? No. Our righteous and good Maker is not to blame for man’s rebellion."

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    36. Did God Know That Adam and Eve Would Sin?

      2 of 3
      “Wise Alone”
      The Scriptures also show that Jehovah is “wise alone.” (Romans 16:27) God’s heavenly angels witnessed many manifestations of this boundless wisdom. They began “shouting in applause” when Jehovah brought forth his earthly creations. (Job 38:4-7) No doubt these intelligent spirit creatures followed events in the garden of Eden with great interest. Would it, then, make sense for a wise God, after creating an awe-inspiring universe and an array of marvelous earthly works, to bring forth under the eyes of his angelic sons two unique creatures who he knew were bound to fail? Clearly, to plan such a calamity would not stand to reason.
      Still, someone may object, ‘But how could an all-wise God not have known?’ Granted, a facet of Jehovah’s great wisdom is his capability to know “from the beginning the finale.” (Isaiah 46:9, 10) However, he does not have to use this capability, just as he does not always have to use his immense power to the full. Jehovah wisely uses his ability of foreknowledge selectively. He uses it when it makes sense to do so and fits the circumstances.
      The ability to refrain from using foreknowledge can be illustrated with a feature of modern technology. Someone watching a prerecorded sports match has the option to watch the final minutes first in order to know the outcome. But he does not have to start that way. Who could criticize him if he chose to watch the entire match from the beginning? Similarly, the Creator evidently chose not to see how things would turn out. Rather, he chose to wait and, as events unfolded, see how his earthly children would conduct themselves.
      As mentioned earlier, Jehovah in his wisdom did not create the first humans as automatons programmed for a fixed course. Instead, he lovingly endowed them with free will. By choosing the right course, they could manifest their love, gratitude, and obedience, thereby bringing added delight to themselves and to Jehovah as their heavenly Father.—Proverbs 27:11; Isaiah 48:18.
      The Scriptures show that on many occasions God did not make use of his ability of foreknowledge. For example, when faithful Abraham went to the point of attempting to sacrifice his son, Jehovah could say: “Now I do know that you are God-fearing in that you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me.” (Genesis 22:12) On the other hand, there were also occasions when the bad conduct of certain individuals caused God to “feel hurt.” Would he have felt such pain if he had long known what they would do?—Psalm 78:40, 41; 1 Kings 11:9, 10.
      Thus, it is only reasonable to conclude that the all-wise God did not exercise his ability of foreknowledge to know in advance that our first parents would sin. He was not so foolish as to embark on a bizarre venture, using his ability to know the outcome in advance and then staging a mere rerun of what he already knew.

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    37. Did God Know That Adam and Eve Would Sin?

      3 of 3
      “God Is Love”

      "God’s adversary, Satan, initiated the rebellion in Eden that resulted in negative consequences, including sin and death. Satan thus was “a manslayer.” He also proved to be “a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) Driven by bad motives himself, he strives to attribute bad motives to our loving Creator. It suits him well to shift the blame for man’s sin to Jehovah.
      The quality of love is the strongest reason why Jehovah chose not to know in advance that Adam and Eve would sin. Love is God’s main attribute. “God is love,” says 1 John 4:8. Love is positive, not negative. It looks for the good in others. Yes, motivated by love, Jehovah God wanted the best for the first human pair.
      Even though God’s earthly children had the option of making an unwise choice, our loving God was not inclined to be pessimistic or to be suspicious of his perfect creatures. He had amply provided for them and had equipped them well. It was only appropriate that God should expect, not rebellion, but loving obedience in return. He knew that Adam and Eve had the ability to act loyally, as was later proved even by imperfect men, such as Abraham, Job, Daniel, and many others.
      “With God all things are possible,” said Jesus. (Matthew 19:26) That is a comforting thought. Jehovah’s love, along with his other dominant attributes of justice, wisdom, and power, guarantees that in due time he can and will remove all the effects of sin and death.—Revelation 21:3-5.
      Clearly, Jehovah did not know beforehand that the first couple would sin. While he was pained by the disobedience of man and the ensuing suffering, God knew that this temporary situation would not prevent the fulfillment of his eternal purpose for the earth and humans upon it. Why not find out more about that purpose and how you may benefit from its glorious fulfillment?* "

      Jehovah did not create the first humans as automatons programmed for a fixed course

      God knew that Adam and Eve had the ability to act loyally

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    38. I strongly object to Newbie spamming the comments with cut-and-pasted JW literature.

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    39. Quest: I didn't ban you. But Newby is spamming. And you don't have a vote; only Larry does.

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    40. John Harshman,
      I was not spamming. I was responding to Quest's follow up challenge on this thread:

      "Quest,
      "If God is all-knowledgeable, all-knowing, how could he have not known that Adam and eve will eat the apple and sin...? Or did he...?"

      Jehovah God didn't know that Adam and Eve would rebel and sin. He has the ability of foreknowledge but He uses it selectively. There is a difference between being able to know all and selectively choosing to know something or not.

      If Jehovah God had known that Adam and Eve would rebel and sin in advance, wouldn't that make him at least partially responsible for evil associated with their sin? It would also not make sense even from human point of view to go ahead with the creation of the universe and life knowing in advance that humans would fail. It wouldn't be loving, would it?"


      Quest had challenged me to provide proof for the above, which I did with 3 piece article. However, his challenging comment disappeared since then.

      I'm sorry about this misunderstanding.

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    41. I was not spamming.

      Nonsense. You were cutting and pasting a mass of JW literature. You could have said what you had to say briefly and in your own words.

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    42. I'm sorry but I didn't have the time or the ability to convey the same thoughts in shorter form. The subject is too great, and too difficult for most people who don't have biblical knowledge or the knowledge of the issue to comprehend it easily.

      I apologize again.

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    43. The subject is too great, and too difficult for most people who don't have biblical knowledge or the knowledge of the issue to comprehend it easily.

      There is nothing whatsoever that is difficult about the subject. It is extremely, even childishly, simple to understand. Unless you are committed to the position that the JW philosophy makes sense. Then, I agree, that makes things difficult to argue.

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    44. If you don't have time to make it shorter, consider the possibility that other people don't have time to read it. But I will say that JWs serve a salutary purpose: they provide a counter the the claims of "sophisticated theologians" that nobody believes in the white-bearded man in the sky.

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    45. John Harshman,
      "If you don't have time to make it shorter, consider the possibility that other people don't have time to read it.

      Now that you mentioned it few times I've realized that my posts were quite long and I could've extracted only the gist of them and posted them ALL to read. Thanks for the feedback.

      "But I will say that JWs serve a salutary purpose: they provide a counter the the claims of "sophisticated theologians" that nobody believes in the white-bearded man in the sky."

      That is one of the reasons why Jehovah's Witnesses preach from door to door and do other forms of education work to tell as many people as possible that Jehovah God is not a white-bearded man in the sky.

      How could the Creator on the Universe and powerful stars like the Sun resemble a white-bearded man?
      If Jehovah God resembled a man with a physical body like ours, why then did Moses have to hide in a cave and be protected from Jehovah’s glory?

      “20 But he added: “You cannot see my face, for no man can see me and live.”21 Jehovah said further: “Here is a place near me. Station yourself on the rock. 22 When my glory is passing by, I will place you in a crevice of the rock, and I will shield you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 After that I will take my hand away, and you will see my back. But my face may not be seen.”

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    46. So, Newbie, you have established that God has both a face, at least one hand, and a back. This idea that seeing his face would kill you makes God into a magical, gorgon-like creature.

      By the way, "Jehovah" is the result of the King James translators misinterpreting the Hebrew, in which the vowel markers for "Adonai" or "Elohim" (I forget which) were added to the forbidden-to-be-pronounced YHWH.

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  3. Larry, what you really appear to mean is that you want Stephen Fry to get off your lawn. I can't explain this response any other way.

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    1. Please try because I have no idea what you mean.

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    2. It's the standard crotchety old man trope. You appear to be complaining out of sheer peevishness. Fry, confronted with a nonsensical situation, responds in a different way from how you imagine you would, an you attack him for it?

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    3. Okay, I see your point. What I object to is atheists using the problem of evil to question the presumed motives of one perticular type of god. That seems illogical to me. It's related to the Courtier's Reply.

      I also object to the way Stephen Fry avoided the question. It's an interesting and serious question. If I were to encounter god it would mean that I have been wrong about atheism all my life. It would also mean, obviously, that the problem of evil was a stupid agrument against the existence of gods.

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    4. I think that of the 2 people involved in that interview, Stephen Fry is not the one with a penchant for avoiding interesting and serious questions.

      I mean seriously, the interviewer is asking Fry to comment on his invisible friend. I though Fry treated that fool better than he deserved by not just laughing in his face.

      At least Elwood's friend Harvey had no opinions on the rights of women and homosexuals and personally I'd rather meet a 6 foot rabbit at the pearly gates than Byrne's psychopathic boogy man.

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    5. Fry didn't avoid the question. He answered the question that was asked, not the question you wish had been asked. The question was about the Christian god, who has very specific traditional attributes. Theodicy isn't an argument against the existence of all gods, and has never been claimed to be, but it is an argument against the existence of the one the question was about.

      I'm missing your point about the Courtier's Reply.

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    6. @John Harshman

      Stephen Fry was asked what he would say to him/her/it at the pearly gates. Let's assume that the moderator was only referring to the standard Christian god/Jesus. What Stephan Frey knows at the moment of confrontation is that the existence of this Christian god is consistent with childhood cancer and all the perceived evils of the world. He may be angry at himself for thinking that the problem of evil was important and he may be disappointed that he rejected everything that Christians were telling him, but he now knows they were closer to being correct than he was. What's the point of yelling at god for not being the imaginary god he thought he was? How is that logical?

      The Courtier's Reply is a reference to those courtiers who wasted time arguing about the cut of the Emperor's clothes when the real issue was that the Emperor was naked. That's how I feel about the "problem of evil."

      Theodicy is an example of the "sophisticated theology" that Christians claim we atheists are ignoring. It's what PZ Myers was mocking in the Courtier's Reply. We atheists have already lost the battle once we start debating the merits of theodicy because we concede the possibility that god exists and now we are just quibbling about his properties.

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    7. That's wrong in more ways than I can easily count. Fry was pointing out that the Christian god's attributes are self-contradictory. The Courtier's Reply has nothing to do with theodicy, and theodicy is a problem for the existence of a being said to have self-contradictory properties; no concession is implied.

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    8. John Harshman,

      "JW theology is even more bizarre than most Christian theology, and JW exegesis even more tortured, even though aided by convenient though semiliterate translation."

      What Bible translation seems more literate to you? I'd be glad to use the one of your choice to explain you that Jehovah's Witnesses' theology is accurate.

      "If God -- sorry, Jehovah -- has the power to stop Satan from working and yet doesn't act, he's responsible for what Satan does."

      Having the power to stop Satan and evil and allowing evil for a time to resolve the issue once and for all is an act of superior wisdom of God Jehovah.

      I will use an illustration of president and owner of a great company.
      One day one of the sons rebels against the owner and the president of large company. By trickery and deceitful tactics, the rebellious son is able to get support of many employees including high ranked ones.

      The owner’s son claims that his father’s way of running the company is inferior and he can do a much better job. He slanders him by accusing him of dishonesty; hiding something beneficial from his employees.

      The owner of the company is a very wise man and he knows he’s son is wrong. However, in his superior wisdom the owner also knows that his son raised some very important issues and that if he fires his son and the rest of the rebels, the issue whether the owner of the company is the best man for the job of the president of the company will not be resolved that way.
      He knows that later on, there may be others, possibly his other sons, who will question his right to run the company.

      So, the owner of the company steps aside and lets his son run the company for a period of time. The owner knows that this will cause many problems but he also knows that when his son and the rebels have been given enough time to prove their point, and there will be no doubt about that they failed, he will step in and save his company. However, his son and all the rebels will have to be removed from the company.

      Because if his superior wisdom, the owner will also be able to undo all the damage that was done to his company and many of his loyal employees. His name will be vindicated and there will be no one in the future who will question whether the owner of the company has the right to be the president of the company and can run it.

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    9. That's wrong in more ways than I can easily count.

      Then maybe you should get off my lawn. :-)

      Theodicy is the attempt to answer the problem of apparent contradiction. Sophisticated Christians (like Courtiers) are convinced that they have the answer. Fifteen hundred years of Christianity suggest that about one billion people agree with them.

      How in the world is an atheist going to discuss the properties of the Christian god without accepting the premise that a god exists? Do you spend a lot of time debating how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin or whether Santa Claus can really deliver all the presents in a single day?

      Delete
    10. Listen up punks, here we get to the core of how you should debate theists. So pay attention. Larry has clearly explained his approach to debating theists and thus we can clearly see what's wrong with his technique. Larry's method is just to say "I've seen no evidence that God exists" over and over again. Thus, he totally avoids discussing the properties or attributes of God. This is understandable, because we know theists evade the falsification of the God hypothesis by inventing an unlimited number of attributes of God, as necessary to evade falsification. But Larry is left with just repeating boilerplate "I've seen no evidence gods exist" over and over for all theistic arguments-- fine-tuning, irreducible complexity etc. which, whatever their flaws, require customized refutations, not boilerplate.

      Most atheists don't use Larry's method, for better or worse-- so the argument goes round and round in circles:

      1. Theist: God is an all-powerful and benevolent intelligent being that is real, invisible, and the creator of everything.

      2. Atheist: An all-powerful, benevolent god would not send babies to hell.

      3. Theist: A morally perfect God can't allow sinners in his presence, so he he is constrained to send babies to hell.

      4. Atheist: An all-powerful, benevolent god would not allow tsunamis to drown babies.

      5. Theist: God works in mysterious ways. 6. Also, a morally perfect God must punish all babies because their great-great-grandparents ate an apple.

      In step [1] the theist starts out with an easily falsifiable hypothesis. In steps [2] and [4] the atheist falsifies the hypothesis: God does not exist. But in steps [3], [5] and [6] the theist invents new properties for God to evade falsification of the hypothesis in [1].

      The argument is designed to go on forever because Christians evade the falsification of the God hypothesis by inventing an unlimited set of properties of God, and then behaving as if God must have those properties, just because the Christian says so.

      Larry's boilerplate response is understandable as a refusal to get into the endless argument, but it also avoids treating God as a testable hypothesis, or alternatively explaining why God is a non-falsifiable hypothesis. You have to do one or the other.

      So next I'll explain my approach. My approach is not to argue about the existence of God, but instead to make the properties of God the center of the argument, and to prove that rationally, the theist does not have the right to invent unlimited properties for God as a means to evade falsification.

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    11. diogenes,

      it is easy to argue against caricatures of particular characterizations of who/what God is and does.

      You play against the weakest link. Shrewd, maybe. But impressive??

      Mehhh.

      Delete
    12. Hey Newbie,

      Explain the part, using any demented Bible translation of your choice, where the owner of the company instructs his son to murder his children by denying them life saving blood transfusions.

      Delete
    13. Hey Steve,

      Provide attributes of your boogy man that are not caricatures.

      Delete
    14. Hey Newbie,
      in the real world people talk and discuss matters as grown ups. If they don't agree on how to run the company, they ask external advice and take it from there. What a successful business man will never do is let his company get shred to pieces by a rebellious son and his minions. The old man might give his son a smaller or not important part of the company to wreck.
      You have a romanticized view of the old man stepping in to save the day, whilst true stories of rebellion, like on the 17th and 18th century ships sailing on the east from Europe, speak of bloodshed on a horrible scale if the captain let an underling rebel against his authority.

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    15. Theodicy is the attempt to answer the problem of apparent contradiction. Sophisticated Christians (like Courtiers) are convinced that they have the answer. Fifteen hundred years of Christianity suggest that about one billion people agree with them.

      Since we can agree that all these attempts are lame except for the answer that this god doesn't exist, I don't see the problem.

      How in the world is an atheist going to discuss the properties of the Christian god without accepting the premise that a god exists?

      Are you denying that there is such a thing as hypothetical or "for the sake of argument"? That seems odd of you. I'm capable of arguing about a myriad of fictional characters without agreeing to their existence, as is everyone.

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    16. “After Cain killed his brother Abel, Jehovah told Cain: “Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) When God spoke of Abel’s blood, he was speaking of Abel’s life. Cain had taken Abel’s life, and now Cain would have to be punished. It was as if Abel’s blood, or life, were crying out to Jehovah for justice. The connection between life and blood was again shown after the Flood of Noah’s day. Before the Flood, humans ate only fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. After the Flood, Jehovah told Noah and his sons: “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you. As in the case of green vegetation, I do give it all to you.” However, God set this restriction: “Only flesh with its soul [or, life]—its blood—you must not eat.” (Genesis 1:29; 9:3, 4) Clearly, Jehovah links very closely the life and the blood of a creature.

      We show respect for blood by not eating it. In the Law that Jehovah gave the Israelites, he commanded: “As for any man . . . who in hunting catches a wild beast or a fowl that may be eaten, he must in that case pour its blood out and cover it with dust. . . . I said to the sons of Israel: ‘You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh.’” (Leviticus 17:13, 14) God’s command not to eat animal blood, first given to Noah some 800 years earlier, was still in force. Jehovah’s view was clear: His servants could eat animal meat but not the blood. They were to pour the blood on the ground—in effect, returning the creature’s life to God.

      A similar command rests upon Christians. The apostles and other men taking the lead among Jesus’ followers in the first century met together to decide what commands had to be obeyed by all in the Christian congregation. They came to this conclusion: “The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled [leaving the blood in the meat] and from fornication.” (Acts 15:28, 29; 21:25) So we must ‘keep abstaining from blood.’ In God’s eyes, our doing that is as important as our avoiding idolatry and sexual immorality.

      Does the command to abstain from blood include blood transfusions? Yes. To illustrate: Suppose a doctor were to tell you to abstain from alcoholic beverages. Would that simply mean that you should not drink alcohol but that you could have it injected into your veins? Of course not! Likewise, abstaining from blood means not taking it into our bodies at all. So the command to abstain from blood means that we would not allow anyone to transfuse blood into our veins.

      What if a Christian is badly injured or is in need of major surgery? Suppose doctors say that he must have a blood transfusion or he will die. Of course, the Christian would not want to die. In an effort to preserve God’s precious gift of life, he would accept other kinds of treatment that do not involve the misuse of blood. Hence, he would seek such medical attention if that is available and would accept a variety of alternatives to blood.”
      For those interested in how Jehovah’s Witnesses pioneered bloodless surgeries and how medical establishment views blood transfusions, please watch the following videos:

      1. No Blood-Medicine meets the challenge
      2. No Blood-Medicine meets the challenge
      3. No Blood-Medicine meets the challenge
      4. No Blood-Medicine meets the challenge

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    17. Diogenes,

      The teaching of fiery torment in hell is not a biblical teaching:

      ARE SOULS SUFFERING IN AN UNDERWORLD?

      Even the Christendom gradually adjusts its non-biblical views on hell:


      "The Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica observed: “It is misleading . . . to think that God, by means of demons, inflicts fearful torments on the damned like that of fire.” It added: “Hell exists, not as a place but as a state, a way of being of the person who suffers the pain of the deprivation of God.”

      Pope John Paul II said in 1999: “Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy.” As to the images of hell as a fiery place, he said: “They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God.” Had the pope described hell in terms of “flames and a red-suited devil with a pitchfork,” church historian Martin Marty said, “people wouldn’t take it seriously.”

      Similar changes are taking place in other denominations. A report by the doctrine commission of the Church of England said: “Hell is not eternal torment, but it is the final and irrevocable choosing of that which is opposed to God so completely and so absolutely that the only end is total non-being.”


      The catechism of the United States Episcopal Church defines hell as “eternal death in our rejection of God.” A growing number of people, says U.S.News World Report, are promoting the idea that “the end of the wicked is destruction, not eternal suffering. . . . [They] contend that those who ultimately reject God will simply be put out of existence in the ‘consuming fire’ of hell.”

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    18. Hey Newbie,

      So you admit that you murder your children by denying them life saving blood transfusions.

      But you are too much of a dishonest lying sack of shit to come out and actually say it directly.

      I think that you are too much of a coward to actually type the words, yes we JWs do willfully murder out children by denying them life saving blood transfusions.

      You are truly disgusting beyond belief.

      But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. - Matthew 18:6

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    19. Steve,

      Obviously you didn't watch the videos where the doctors, who are not Jehovah's Witnesses, explain whether blood transfusions are actually live saving in comparison to alternative and safe procedures without use of blood.

      All you are focused on is that blood transfusions are supposed to be life saving. Over 100.000 of people in Canada in late 1980 received blood transfusions with HIV and millions around the world. The majority of them have died and many still will. Many thousands will still die from blood transfusions as some diseases are impossible to detect. Yet, people like you still call blood transfusions life saving even though the medical establishment agrees that it is much safer no to use blood.

      Every day many people refuse life saving procedures; chemotherapies, surgeries, transplants, medications and so on. Why is not all over the news unless it involves minorities? Why it is not a frontline news when Jehovah's Witness child is forced to take a blood transfusion dies due to complications? Can you answer that?

      I would never, ever let my child die and I would do everything in my power to save it. The are so many safe alternative ways to blood transfusion; you can increase the volume of blood and stimulate the body to produce more red blood cells is just one of many which are covered in the video.

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    20. Hey Newbie,

      I have donated whole blood and platelets for most of my adult life and I know exactly how vital these products are in saving lives.

      You are a deluded murderer of children who would sacrifice innocent lives in order to justify your demented belief system.

      To equate the choice that a competent adult would make to refuse medical therapy with the murder of children by their parents is exactly the psychopathic type of argument I would expect from you.

      How dare you pretend to care for the lives of children you sad sack, deluded monster.

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    21. Ed,

      In this scenario there were already casualties--Adam and Eve and their offspring. Rebels knew exactly what the consequences of their rebellion would be. The only just way to deal with the issue would be to find a just and legal way for redemption of Adam and Eve's offspring and settle the issue of whether the Creator has right to decided what is right and wrong (good and bad).

      Delete
    22. So, continuing: What's the best way to argue with theists?

      First, since the argument always turns into claims about the invisible properties of an invisible God, you must make the whole argument about the properties of God: which are "allowed", which are "cheating"? You must always consistently deny them their privilege of inventing unlimited attributes of God, unified only by the intent of evading falsification of the God hypothesis. How you do this, consistently and logically, I explain below, but the idea is to treat God like other scientific hypotheses, the hypothetical properties of which must be kept to a minimum.

      Second, you must recognize that you when you are arguing with Christian apologists, you are always arguing with dishonest opponents who will use the (common pseudoscience) techniques of 1. claiming "predictions" ("we would expect to see X if God is real") that do NOT logically follow from the hypothesis, 2. equivocation, flipping between definitions of words to falsely connect major and minor premises, and 3. Working backward from a conclusion to a "starting premise" that is absurd and usually based on equivocating definitions. You must consistently reject fake "predictions" and claims that don't follow from their hypothesis, and identify and expose equivocation.

      First, how do you make the whole argument into one about the properties off God? Since that's where the argument ends up anyway. You must treat the properties of God as you would treat the properties of any other hypothetical, invisible entity whose existence is what we're trying to test-- e.g. the positron, the top quark, the Higgs boson. Some properties are allowed; others are not. Whenever you hear a claim about the properties of an invisible hypothetical entity, you first have to ask:

      Is this property of the hypothetical entity (God or Higgs boson) ordinary or extraordinary? Ordinary properties are "allowed" as part of the hypothesis; but extraordinary properties are forbidden UNLESS they are supported by extraordinary evidence. Here, "ordinary" means always or most of the time possessed by elements of its type, or following from already-established rules. "Extraordinary" means never, or most of the time NOT, possessed by entities of its type, or deviating from previously established rules.

      Example: for the Higgs boson, an ordinary property would be that it has a spin value that's an integer, since bosons have been seen many times and always have an integral spin; and an extraordinary property would be that the Higgs' energy function is quadratic, which gives it a vacuum expectation value that is nonzero (i.e. it's everywhere and interacts with all leptons), because such an energy function had never previously been seen for any boson. The ordinary properties are allowed; the extraordinary properties require support by extraordinary evidence.

      But what's extraordinary evidence? Extraordinary evidence means making a testable, confirmed prediction: i.e. the alleged property must logically entail a prediction about observations, which would not otherwise be seen if our hypothetical entity were to lack the alleged property. Thus, the extraordinary interactions of the Higgs boson must be essential for making predictions about observable particle interactions: which actually were observed, so we know the Higgs is real and has its strange properties.

      To be continued...

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    23. Continuing, part 2 of 3: Now let us apply this to the God hypothesis. Since God is an intelligent being, his ordinary properties would be those common to all intelligent beings we've ever seen: getting mad at those who disobey his rules; morally IMperfect; NOT omniscient; obtaining information by trial and error; interacting with matter by material means; created; began to exist in time; complex; has many parts made out of matter; contingent; not metaphysically necessary; etc. God's extraordinary properties are those not possessed by any intelligent being we've ever seen: morally perfect; omniscient; invisible; a metaphysically necessary being; not contingent; immaterial; infinitely simple; has no parts; able to create universes; etc.

      But before we do that, we have a problem: the majority of arguments for God's existence employ God of the Gaps (GOG) logic. The idea behind GOG is that what's bad for science is good for Christianity; if science doesn't know what did it, then Christians know what did it: their God.

      So, before we apply the "ordinary/extraordinary" rule to the God hypothesis, we must first identify and exclude all invocations of God of the Gaps. GOG can be recognized by several means, but the easiest is to ask, "Does this argument explicitly spell out the properties of God?" All arguments SFAIK that invoke GOG do not explicitly spell out the properties of God, that is, Gap arguments allege the properties of God based on whatever it is that scientists can't explain: e.g. "Science can't explain why some moons have retrograde orbits, therefore God wanted moons to have retrograde orbits," etc. If later on scientists figure out the phenomenon, then Christians blithely pretend they never alleged God had that property; or, more commonly in the case of creationists, they just lie, and for decades or centuries thereafter continue to claim falsely that science has never solved a problem that was actually solved ~100 years ago and is well-known to all grad students.

      So this argument for refuting almost all "proofs" of God's existence, I call "The GhostBuster". It does in fact refute almost all proofs of God's existence, except for ontological proofs like St. Anselm's (because ontological proofs, which just define God to exist, are based on pure equivocation of words like "to exist" or "possible.")

      To be continued...

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    24. Continuing, part 3 of 3:

      "The GhostBuster" method for refuting all proofs of God's existence, except pure equivocating (ontological) proofs:

      1. Does this argument for God's existence explicitly spell out the properties of God? If no, the arguments invokes God of the Gaps, which is a fallacy. A hypothesis cannot be proven unless it explicitly spells out the properties of its hypothetical entities. The argument is unsupported; we're done.

      2. If this argument explicitly spells out the properties of God, are any of those properties extraordinary? For an intelligent being, like God, extraordinary properties include moral perfection, invisibility, immateriality, eternity, the ability to create universes, etc. For a morally perfect being, extraordinary properties would include failing to stop preventable deaths of innocent people, punishment for non-belief in one's existence, inability to be in the presence of disobedient people, disproportionate punishment of disobedience, infinite punishment for finite crimes, etc. Each claimed extraordinary property must be supported by extraordinary evidence. Is there any? What predictions about observable phenomena would result if the property were true? E.g., is there extraordinary evidence that God is morally perfect? To test that, you would need a standard of "moral perfection". Where would you get that from? If any claimed properties of God are extraordinary, but not supported by extraordinary evidence, then the God hypothesis is rejected as, at best, unsupported; but if any extraordinary property entails predictions about observations that are falsified, then this hypothesis about God is disproven. (e.g. Problem of Evil falsifies a hypothesis of a benevolent, all-powerful god.)

      3. Are any of the claimed properties ordinary? If so, what do we expect to observe if the hypothetical entity were real and had those properties? For intelligent beings, like God, ordinary properties include consistently getting mad if someone disobeys their rules. Open a newspaper: Has God been observed to consistently and supernaturally punish those who disobey his rules, and consistently and supernaturally reward those who obey his rules? (The afterlife is not observed.) If any ordinary property entails predictions about observations that are falsified, then this hypothesis about God is disproven.

      4. Are any of God's properties self-contradictory? If so, this God cannot exist in any conceivable universe, and is falsified without making observations. e.g. a benevolent God sending unbaptized babies to hell; a god that "fine-tunes" the universe to be "life-friendly" while allegedly setting up the laws of physics so that non-living matter can never turn into living matter (no abiogenesis); the Christian trinity, 3 =1; Jesus on the cross as a "sacrifice" to crazy rules created by Jesus himself, when he didn't need to create those rules; an immaterial God being incarnated; etc.

      This wipes out all arguments for God's existence, except those based on pure equivocation, like the ontological arguments.

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    25. Diogenes,

      It seems to me that the argument would never get beyond the "defining the properties of God" stage if one were to strictly follow your methodology.

      Theists would never settle for a definition of their god that permitted only ordinary properties and non theists would never allow an extraordinary property since, so far at least, no such evidence has ever been adduced and it is highly unlikely that any ever will.

      Delete
    26. Quest,

      The Watchtower Society or Jehovah's Witnesses as an organization do not run any laboratories. All we know about dangers and other things associated with blood transfusions from the Bible. Please see my comment at "Newbie Monday, February 02, 2015 11:00:00 AM"

      Delete
    27. Newbie, your attempt to resolve the Problem of Evil is quite typical: rather than addressing the actual contradiction, instead you argue by means of an analogy-- but the problem is that your analogy is to an entity (the CEO of a company) who is not all-powerful, who is constrained in how he can prove he deserves to govern the company. We are pointing out that two properties claimed for God, benevolent and all-powerful, lead to predictions about observed phenomena (e.g. babies don't die in tsunamis) which are refuted by observation. Your response is to make an analogy to a situation where a CEO is NOT all-powerful, but constrained by limited powers.

      Thus, your analogy proves our point: all Christians seek to evade the contradiction of an omnipotent, benevolent God by either redefining benevolence, or redefining omnipotence, or both. Your analogy is a de facto concession that Christians cannot conceive of a benevolent God except as a CEO who is of limited power and constrained by rules he did not create. Likewise, Christians cannot conceive of an omnipotent God except as one who is not benevolent. Thus the Christian is conceiving of at least two (or more) God hypotheses, and flipping between them, to evade falsification.

      Whatever God's goals are, an all-powerful god could achieve those goals without causing suffering. If God achieves his goals with suffering, then either he is not all-powerful, or suffering itself was among his actual goals.

      Newbie wrote: I will use an illustration of president and owner of a great company.... The owner of the company is a very wise man and he knows he’s son is wrong. However, in his superior wisdom the owner also knows... that if he fires his son and the rest of the rebels, the issue whether the owner of the company is the best man for the job of the president of the company will not be resolved that way.

      Thus you concede your God is not all-powerful but constrained by rules he did not create.

      He knows that later on, there may be others, possibly his other sons, who will question his right to run the company. So, the owner of the company steps aside and lets his son run the company for a period of time. The owner knows that this will cause many problems but

      Again: you are conceding that your God is constrained by rules he didn't create. He's not all-powerful. Again: whatever God's goals are, an all-powerful god could achieve those goals without causing suffering. If God achieves his goals with suffering, then either he is not all-powerful, or suffering itself was among his actual goals.

      Newbie: Because if his superior wisdom, the owner will also be able to undo all the damage that was done to his company and many of his loyal employees.

      The "damage" you refer to is babies and children who died in terrible pain. Again: whatever God's goals were, if he were all-powerful, he could have achieved his goals without babies and children dying in terrible pain in the first place.

      Enough. The hypothesis of an all-powerful, benevolent God is falsified. All that is left are mad gods, evil gods, or gods constrained by rules they did not invent. If God didn't invent the rules that constrain him, who did?

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    28. If God achieves his goals with suffering, then either he is not all-powerful, or suffering itself was among his actual goals.

      And now the industrious theist will claim that it's gods goals are beyond human ken and what we observe as suffering is really but a Platonic shadow on the cave wall of human perception

      Or some such similar bullshit.

      Delete
    29. Newbie, on the blood transfusion issue. I regret that Steve Oberski has piled on so much name-calling and personal attacks and I hope Steve will dial it down. Nevertheless, he's got a point. JW's will murder their children by refusing medical care.

      I admire JWs for some things. They're the only damn religion in Nazi Germany that really, sincerely resisted Nazism. Also, in the USA those JW kids refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance and that led to the SCOTUS decision that all American kids can refuse to say the Pledge. The result was a bunch of fundies burning JW churches down and threatening to kill them. The JWs took a bullet for the atheists, so atheists owe them some gratitude. So JWs do some good things.

      But the kid-killing thing is insane. Please stop lying about medical facts.

      the medical establishment agrees that it is much safer no to use blood.

      This is an outright lie. "The medical establishment" says no such thing. You must take it back; it is a lie. A few quote mines from a few doctors, who may be quacks, are not "the medical establishment." Amongst doctors, there are always quacks, like Dr. Oz with his diet pills, or the GOP's Ben Carson, who says glyconutrients will cure diseases. Quacks. Moreover, we Sandinistas here are anti-creationists and we all know how quote mining, quoting of context, of an "expert" can create a fake impression of "controversy" where none exists.

      Many thousands will still die from blood transfusions as some diseases are impossible to detect.

      The medical fact is that MORE people will die if NOT given transfusions. You cannot claim a NET loss of life.

      Every day many people refuse life saving procedures; chemotherapies, surgeries, transplants, medications and so on. Why is not all over the news unless it involves minorities? Why it is not a frontline news when Jehovah's Witness child is forced to take a blood transfusion dies due to complications?

      I presume you mean "minors" not "minorities". That's because it's more horrifying that a parent should kill their child than if an adult commits suicide. But you are attempting an argument akin to Ed Donohue at the Catholic League: "Media, media, media! Why does the media only complain about Catholic molesters when there are so many Jewish molesters they don't talk about?" Um, we weren't asking your opinion about the media. We were asking your religion to stop killing, or analogously molesting, children.

      The are so many safe alternative ways to blood transfusion; you can increase the volume of blood and stimulate the body to produce more red blood cells

      No. That doesn't work for somebody with major trauma from falling off a building, getting in a car accident, etc. If that happens to your kid, it would kill him when you refuse a transfusion.

      I would never, ever let my child die and I would do everything in my power to save it.

      Unless you are not an observant JW, you're lying. Suppose we had medical evidence that blood transfusions are the ONLY way to save people with some injuries or illnesses (actually, we do, so it's not a hypothetical), it still wouldn't convince you, right? You would still follow the JW rules, right? You'd let your kid die anyway, right?

      You'd still follow the rules-- no matter what evidence we presented-- because God wrote the rules, right?

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    30. It's fascinating in a particularly horrific way to watch Newbie equivocating between the mutually contradictory claims that he would never, ever harm a child of his and that he would never, ever, under any circumstances allow a child of his have a blood transfusion.

      I think that it is very important that these sorts of ideas should be accorded no respect in the public market place of ideas and to the extent that Newbie shields his opinions behind dearly held personal beliefs will attacks on his ideas be necessarily personal in nature.

      For a start, Newbie must admit in no uncertain terms the JWs have and do kill their children by denying them blood transfusions.

      Then he must demonstrate that this results a better outcome for human happiness than a belief system that does not murder their children based on gibberish extracted from nomadic snuff porn.

      Delete
    31. @quest

      I don't think your claim is aligned with what is has been discussed

      "I have no opinion on that matter but I would like to raise a hypothetical scenario.... I personally would not take blood transfusion unless there was no alternative.... not because I know anything about... I don't... I admitted...

      It is because none of my friend docs would do it either... No way... And they are not JWs...

      A few years back a had an appreciation party at my home for most of the people I used to work with or had dealings with.... One of the biochemists invited was actually a JW...

      I didn't know him coz my secretary invited him... when people had more than usual amount of drinks... the issue of blood came up with something else... I don't know what it was ... anyways all I recall from the confrontation that people had with him was more or less what Newby has today... Newby is not as smart as this guy...

      Interestingly this is what he said in response to some true accusation of a child refusing a blood transfusion.... or something like that..

      "...what would happen if the American government passed a law prohibiting homosexuals and bisexuals having sex... because they are the most unlikely to use protection and they are the most likely to be infected with HIV..this group of people do not refuse blood transfusion but they are endangering a large population of people exposing them to deadly diseases causing death in the end.... what's the difference between refusing a treatment that may or may not save your life and being a possible carrier of death or something of that nature.... I don't recall the details but this is what I remember the best:

      What would happen if CNN supported this law...? "

      Since there were a few people with alternative life style at the party... nobody said anything... but I did...I asked the guy one question what I asked Newby today and he didn't answer it... He just left...."

      The blood transfusion can save your life immediately but the risk of contracting HIV is remote. There is no comparison to me

      Delete
    32. Diogenes,
      To be fair Canada and quite a few countries owe Jehovah's Witnesses one thing-freedom of speech. I remember my atheistic neighbor posting a banner that just didn't fit

      "Today we thank Jehovah's Witnesses for the freedom of speech. If you have a front door, a Jehovah's Witness probably has knocked on it. I have always turned them down. But today I salute to them."

      Delete
    33. Re Steve Oberski and Newbie

      I have nothing agains the members who have fallen for the totally ridiculous cult know as Jehovah's Witnesses. To each his own. However, when it comes to children, I take a very hard line, and denying blood transfusions to a child is child abuse. IMHO, anyone who denies a blood transfusion to a child who subsequently dies as a result should be charged with 1st degree murder with special circumstances, which is subject to capital punishment in those states that still allow it. In those states that don't allow capital punishment, the perp should be sentenced to life in prison in solitary confinement with no interaction with anyone else. Harsh, yes but that's my opinion and a ain't backing off.

      Delete
  4. Who is stephen Fry?
    its silly. the whole point of jesus is that god himself had to bet executed and it hurt.
    god didn't do anything bad but people and Satan did.
    They know nothing of christianity and waste their intellectual credibility.

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    Replies
    1. Who is Robert Byers?

      He's silly. The whole point of demanding an explanation for evil is to show what a monster the god is.

      Byers knows nothing of atheism and wastes his non-existent intellectual credibiltiy.

      Delete
  5. I guess that Stephen missed the part of Christian teaching about evil getting into the world when man made a choice to turn away from God. I think when criticizing a philosophy it is good to at least have some basic knowledge of it.
    Choosing to reject the idea that there is a higher power on the other hand does not require a knowledge of all world religions, but I think it would then be arrogant to accuse God of not revealing himself to you when you have not made any effort to get to know him. In Christian belief he after all sent many prophets and his own son to make himself known to the world.
    And yes, I made a conscious choice not to believe in any other God than the one in the Bible and I do not have trouble sleeping at night for fear of not being let in to Valhalla nor do I build up anger or waste time thinking about what to say to Odin if I were to meet him.

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    Replies
    1. Andy, please take care to discern when someone doesn't know a philosophy and when someone knows it, but finds it inadequate. I understand that the former is easier to dismiss, but its bad form nonetheless.

      Delete
    2. Well, if he had dealt with the duality of good and evil and the concept of man being created with a free will and then given an argument of why the idea that man brought evil into the world with his choices is a flawed, then I would agree that he has tried to understand the philosophy but found it inadequate.

      Delete
    3. "I guess that Stephen missed the part of Christian teaching about evil getting into the world when man made a choice to turn away from God."


      1) According to the bible, the snake (satan) existed before anyone ate from the tree of knowledge.

      2) God, being omnipotent, can just remove evil again. I mean, according to you evil "got into the world"(whatever the fuck this means). Okay, then god can plug the hole and clean up? I've been told he can do anything he wants.

      "And yes, I made a conscious choice not to believe in any other God than the one in the Bible "

      Then you're an idiot, because you've just admitted to deliberately acting irrationally. Well done, you're now among the many examples of why some atheists say christians are stupid.

      Delete
    4. 1. The account in Genesis that you refer to is a poetic description saying pretty much the same as I said. I find it interesting that many atheists and fundamentalists read the Bible in the same literal way.
      2. God is one step ahead of you ;-) He sent his son to open a path away from evil for all mankind...

      Delete
    5. Except that that wasn't the question and this wasn't the venue to get in to a complete counter-apologetical diatribe on the rationalizations Christians have made on the subject just to make a point. To expect this from anyone expressing a critical view of your religion is unreasonable, and is not a standard you keep in other areas. I note for example that you did not present a detailed refutation of Norse religions when you pointed out your dismissal of them. Should I reject your rejection of Norse myth as inadequate?

      Delete
    6. "God is one step ahead of you ;-) He sent his son to open a path away from evil for all mankind..."

      Larry, a note on how much Christians hold to "not knowing the mind of God" when it suits their purpose. Practically mind-readers then.

      Delete
    7. CA writes "To expect this from anyone expressing a critical view of your religion is unreasonable"
      I would say that I for most part agree with the atheists, I also do not believe in the god they proclaim not to believe in.

      Delete
    8. "1. The account in Genesis that you refer to is a poetic description"

      How do you know that? How do you know which parts are "poetic" and which parts are literal?

      "2. God is one step ahead of you ;-) He sent his son to open a path away from evil for all mankind..."

      Why doesn't he just remove it with his magic powers instead of this convoluted gibberish about torture and human sacrifice?

      Maybe, just maybe, god just doesn't exist.

      Delete
    9. I guess you missed the part where atheists do not propose a specific god, but react to theists' claims about gods. Obviously you disbelieve most of the gods we do. We disbelieve in the god you do believe in too.
      I think when criticizing a philosophy it is good to at least have some basic knowledge of it.

      Delete
    10. CA wrote "Larry, a note on how much Christians hold to "not knowing the mind of God" when it suits their purpose. Practically mind-readers then."
      in response to my note "God is one step ahead of you ;-) He sent his son to open a path away from evil for all mankind..."

      Well, you just have to read John 3:16-17:
      "16"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.…"

      Delete
    11. I know the line Andy. I was addressing something in Larry's article.

      Delete
    12. Rymdraket,
      #1 is a good questions that is hard to give a short answer to, but there is a field of study called theology building on a long Jewish and Christian tradition.
      #2 I believe that I have already attempted to answer, but there are plenty of literature that can give much better explanations. I would recommend you to start with the Bible to find out more.

      Delete
    13. Ok, CA. But the quote: "God is one step ahead of you ;-) He sent his son to open a path away from evil for all mankind..." Was from my response to Rymdraket.

      Delete
    14. "#1 is a good questions that is hard to give a short answer to, but there is a field of study called theology building on a long Jewish and Christian tradition."

      There is no answer to this question anywhere in any theology. Christians simply allow themselves to rationalize away the contents of the bible as "metaphors" or "poetry" or "allegories" when they conflict with reality.

      The general method of interpretation is this: Does reality conflict with the bible? If yes - then it's a metaphor/allegory. If no - then it's to be taken literally.

      This is patently obvious to anyone who isn't steeped in christian religious culture.

      "#2 I believe that I have already attempted to answer, but there are plenty of literature that can give much better explanations. I would recommend you to start with the Bible to find out more."

      I have read it, there's no answer there. The question is never posed, so it is never attempted answered. The nonsensical "solution" of god taking human form to sacrifice himself to himself to forgive "all of humanity" for crimes committed by others, is simply asserted. No alternative solution is ever mentioned or considered.

      Delete
    15. Rymdraket,
      #1. Yes, you are absolutely right. Theology is just a concipiracy by millions of theologians over thousands of years to deceive humanity. There are really no serious studies being done at all, just like there is no single hint of irony in this response.
      #2. I would categorize your summary conclusion of the Bible under "read, but not understood" which really is much more sad than someone that just does not care.

      Delete
    16. "#1. Yes, you are absolutely right. Theology is just a concipiracy by millions of theologians over thousands of years to deceive humanity."

      Thank you for deliberately changing my words. I didn't say anyone was engaging in a deliberate conspiracy. I'm just saying what their efforts amount to at bottom.

      You're doing the very same thing as the theologians. If reality and doctrine differ, doctrine is allegorical and needs to be understood in a different way. This is what you do, this is what all christians do when they come upon a conflict between reality and doctrine. Instead of just accepting that doctrine might be wrong, suddenly doctrine is just not "properly understood and needs to be studied in the correct context".

      It's laughable to see grown men and women engage in this kind of endless ad-hoc interpretation instead of just coming to terms with the facts of the matter: The real world is in conflict with what the bible says, so the bible is wrong.

      "#2. I would categorize your summary conclusion of the Bible under "read, but not understood" which really is much more sad than someone that just does not care."

      Thank you but I don't care. I would categorize it as both read and understood, and that your understanding is skewed by intense cultural and social pressures, gullibility and psychology-motivated reinterpretations.

      So where do we go from here?

      Delete
    17. Rumraket,
      #1, Christian doctrines are built on theological studies of the scripture over centuries and are the foundations of different Christian denomination and traditions but is to my knowledge they are never allegorical.
      #2, Ok, you fooled me. It seemed like you had tried to understand the scripture, but if you don't care, then I understand why you don't understand.

      Delete
    18. "Christian doctrines are built on theological studies of the scripture over centuries and are the foundations of different Christian denomination and traditions but is to my knowledge they are never allegorical."

      So genesis is back to being literal again? Or maybe it's the word doctrine you find confusing?

      "Ok, you fooled me. It seemed like you had tried to understand the scripture, but if you don't care, then I understand why you don't understand."

      No, what I don't care about is that you don't think I understand what the scriptures say.

      You really are going out of your way to not understand anything.

      Delete
    19. Rymdraket,
      If we are to make progress in this discussion you should take the time to look up some basic concepts and terminology. An old fashion dictionary or google can be of great help.
      Doctrine as an example specifically refers to a body of religious principles as it is promulgated by a church. With some minor variation all churches acknowledge the same scripture, but there are some variation in the interpretation as defined in their doctrines.

      Delete
    20. Hey Andy,

      Perhaps that's why Santa Claus never revealed himself to you, when you have not made any effort to get to know him.

      How sad.

      And I suspect your "choice" to believe in your particular boogy man was not conscious at all, you were indoctrinated in the disgusting tenets of your nasty belief system like the rest of the sheep.

      And what parts of your big book of bad ideas tells you what other parts are poetic ?

      Isn't it breathtakingly arrogant of you to presume you know these things ?

      It is really pathetic to see a nominally adult human being trying so desperately to square the circle of an irrational belief system.

      Delete
    21. Andy,

      1. The account in Genesis that you refer to is a poetic description saying pretty much the same as I said. I find it interesting that many atheists and fundamentalists read the Bible in the same literal way.

      No serpent then? OK. How did "man" bring evil into the world by "his" choices then? How do you know which parts of the tale are to be taken for what they say, and which ones are not? How do you determine that. How these bad choices began?

      2. God is one step ahead of you ;-) He sent his son to open a path away from evil for all mankind...

      Not a very good job, since evil is still right there staring you in the face. Open a pathway from evil here was more like "just imagine that everything will be all right, even if you're tortured to the point of losing your will!" Right Andy. Precious philosophy that.

      Well, if he had dealt with the duality of good and evil and the concept of man being created with a free will and then given an argument of why the idea that man brought evil into the world with his choices is a flawed,

      It's flawed since this god is supposed to be omniscient. He created flawed people knowing that they would fail. He that results in all of us being created in a way that we can't redeem ourselves. No sir, we have to rely on the killing of an innocent person, who is really the very same god that could not create in a way that we would still have a choice to be what we wanted, rather than depend on believing/accepting/be accepted/whatever of this "son" of god. Man the nonsense.

      then I would agree that he has tried to understand the philosophy but found it inadequate.

      It's worse than inadequate. It's nonsensical through and through. If we try and visit that "philosophy," we can go so many ways and still find it nonsensical, that I doubt one interview would suffice.

      Theology is the art of studying seriously a fantasy while fully convinced that the fantasy is true. It's very hard, of course, because it's nonsense, and it's nonsense because it's all about fairy tales. But theologians won't consider that. They insist on trying to make sense of nonsense. They are experts in the art of fooling themselves.

      Once we accept that it's about fantasies, it's quite easy. It all falls into place. We rest, and we can understand, with pain in our hearts, that those books and books and books were filled by people trying to make sense of fairy tales. No wonder they would fail. No wonder they would still be at it, unable to get the job done, unable to free themselves from the grasp of those fantasies.

      Delete
    22. Photosynthesis wrote: "No serpent then? OK. How did "man" bring evil into the world by "his" choices then?"
      I find it very interesting that atheists are so literal in their reading of the bible. Maybe even more so than fundamentalists because even they would agree that the serpent is an allegory for Satan. You get stuck on the talking snake and thereby completely miss the point of the story...Man made a choice to turn away from God. God is the essence of good, so when man turned away from him evil followed. Evil is not a property in its own right, it's just the absence of good. Just like cold is the absence of heat.
      Photosynthesis continues: "evil is still right there staring you in the face..."
      Well, Jesus opened a path away from evil, but you still have to make a choice to follow that path or not. Free will, remember? But there is a plan and in the end good will prevail and evil perish.

      Delete
    23. "I find it very interesting that atheists are so literal in their reading of the bible."
      Not as interesting as all that. After all, atheists don't actually believe the text is factual. it is people stuck with finding a compromise between obvious fables, later stories and reality that are forced to find allegory everywhere.

      You find the snake as an allegory for Satan because you need to justify the existence of Satan in Genesis, not because the story itself demands it.

      As an atheist, I'm just not limited to that narrative. Of course I don't believe there was a talking snake, just like a don't believe there was a fox mumbling about sour grapes, but I accept that this is what they are in the story. I have no reason to view the fox as an allegory for an obscure reification of a personalized abstract concept.

      I find it amusing that you're trying to frame the issue as if taking a text to say what it does is more irrational than using it as an allegorical tale representing a far more fanciful supernatural narrative.

      Delete
    24. CA, slightly of topic, did you ever read Animal Farm and if so what did you understand it to be about?

      Delete
    25. Andy, Animal Farm is an allegorical fictional novel about human behavior, specifically the rise of Stalinism, using animals in place of humans.

      You're right, it is slightly off topic. If anyone believed Animal Farm was an inerrant account of supernatural fighting forces depicted as animals in a farm, then there would be a greater relationship.

      Delete
    26. CA, we are making progress. So you do agree that there are texts that are not intended to be read literally and that this does not obscure the message.
      I would argue that it is sometimes easier to get the message across in an allegory than if you were to tell a factual story. Allegorical reading of the scripture in Christian tradition goes all the way back to the apostles and the tradition was followed later by many of the great theologians as eg St. Augustine who even wrote a book called "The Literal interpretation of Genesis" about it in the early fifth century AD. Here's a quote from that book: "In short, it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation."

      Delete
    27. "Allegorical reading of the scripture in Christian tradition goes all the way back to the apostles..."

      Yes, but what about Isaiah chapter 13:
      "Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off"

      That's allegorical too?

      Delete
    28. Hey Andy,

      You do realize that Animal Farm is fiction ?

      I ask as you seem to have a problem in this area.

      If you are ever at King's Cross Station in London don't be disappointed if you can't find platform 9 3/4.

      Delete
    29. Andy,

      You just hand waved, answered nothing, and avoided the main problems. Still:

      I find it very interesting that atheists are so literal in their reading of the bible.

      Curious that I ask then how did "man" bring evil to the world by disobedience if not in the way described and I am therefore a literalist?

      Maybe even more so than fundamentalists because even they would agree that the serpent is an allegory for Satan.

      That's not an answer. Sure, make it an allegory for Satan. But then how? Was Adam real or also allegory? What about Eve? How do you reliably and objectively decide which parts of the story are allegory, which are not? How then would you say that "man" brought evil into creation?

      No matter what you do and make into allegory as convenient for you, the stuff still ends in nonsense. For example, ok, the serpent is Satan. Then Satan is not an allegory, right? And Satan was created by this all-knowing god. So this god knew that this Satan would convince those humans (allegories or real humans?), to disobey (allegorically or really?), and eat that fruit (or have sexual intercourse, or what?). So, this god made the whole thing so that evil would enter into the soup. This god knows everything, right? Then he created that way. He made a creation that would fall at the slightest of sins and bring evil. Allegorize as much as you want. The problems remain. The god is nonsense, and calling your doctrines a "philosophy" is just a joke. Maybe next people will instead believe that this god is not good. That this god has fun burning people in hell. That burning gives him the orgasms.

      You get stuck on the talking snake and thereby completely miss the point of the story...Man made a choice to turn away from God.

      For real or allegorically speaking? If for real, how? What did they do exactly? Why do we pay for that?

      God is the essence of good, so when man turned away from him evil followed.

      Out of this very god's incompetence at creating, since he could have made a much more enduring creation that would not fall (omnipotent, right? or another allegory?). Or at least one that would fall, but still allow us to choose not to do evil, rather than depend on this very god's killing himself to himself to pay for the sins that we can't decide not to do.

      Evil is not a property in its own right, it's just the absence of good. Just like cold is the absence of heat.

      Nice but failed rhetoric. We measure good by how much evil is avoided or fixed. Take a good look. The most horrendous the problems solved, the most we admire the fixing. It looks much more like good is the absence of evil. So your god would have to have created evil, rather than good.

      Photosynthesis continues: "evil is still right there staring you in the face..."
      Well, Jesus opened a path away from evil, but you still have to make a choice to follow that path or not. Free will, remember? But there is a plan and in the end good will prevail and evil perish.


      Even if I could believe (I would have to lie to myself, and renounce my reasoning, in order to believe this nonsense), It's not free will if I can't choose instead to stop sinning. And even then, even if I "accepted" this "path," evil doesn't go away. It still goes on. Happens to the best Christian and the worse. Happens to anybody regardless of beliefs. Christ doesn't solve anything.

      As I said, no matter how much we try and twist it, it always ends up in nonsense.

      Delete
    30. Hey Andy,

      I'd be interested in hearing your take on our resident JWs interpretation of your commonly shared big book of bad ideas.

      Is Satan is the main cause of evil and suffering on the Earth ?

      Will Jehovah God bring back the deserving ones back to life in the upcoming 1000 year rule of His Son-Jesus Christ ?

      Is Satan is the god of this world ?

      Is Jehovah to blame for man’s rebellion ?

      Did God did not exercise his ability of foreknowledge to know in advance that our first parents would sin ?

      Should a Christian refuse blood transfusions under any circumstances ?

      Can everything about dangers and other things associated with blood transfusions be known from the Bible ?

      Is life after death is not a biblical teaching ?

      Did Jehovah God not know that Adam and Eve would rebel and sin ?

      Does he have the ability of foreknowledge but uses it selectively ?

      Is god like president and owner of a great company with rebellious sons ?

      Before the Flood, did humans eat only fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts ?

      Does the god's command to abstain from blood include blood transfusions?

      Is the case of a competent adult refusing chemotherapies, surgeries, transplants, medications and so on exactly the same as allowing a child to die by refusing to allow a blood transfusion ?


      Delete
    31. Ed,
      Isaiah 13 is a prophesy about the destruction of Babylon in the hands of its enemies made centuries before it happened. Prophesies in general contain allegorical language. There are a lot of interesting commentaries covering the prophesies of Isaiah available on the Internet for further reading.

      Steve,
      In general I don't take discussions with fellow Christians on theological issues in public. The JW on the other hand I wouldn't mind debating, but I'm afraid I lack sufficient knowledge of their teachings. I do not consider them Christian however based on that they do not regard Jesus Christ as part of the trinity that is God.

      Photosynthesis,
      You bring up some issues that I need to explain further. I will try to find the time for that when I get back from work tonight.

      Delete
    32. "In general I don't take discussions with fellow Christians on theological issues in public."

      That doesn't surprise me, because it wouldn't surprise me that you are very likely to find out that you disagree with the interpretation of your fellow christian on almost every subject or bible quote under discussion.

      Except JW's, who you dont consider to be christians. Interesting though, they claim to be the most christian of all christians. Or is this allegorical?

      Delete
    33. Andy, what's really aggravating to me are people who do not regard Fifi the Pink Unicorn God as part of the trinity that is God, along with The Flying Spaghetti Monster and Cthulhu. I just don't understand how anyone cannot see Fifi as not only integral to the trinity but as the most important part of the trinity that is God. Obviously some people are willfully ignorant and stubborn when it comes to accepting the revealed truth, and of course they will suffer the horrible consequences of their disbelief in Fifi. She is very impatient with non-believers.

      Delete
    34. TWT,

      I never thought I would hear about such heresy as rejecting Fifi from The Trinity. I'm just gonna go rest my mind for a while. This is too much. Too much.

      Delete
    35. Ed,
      "Except JW's, who you dont consider to be christians. Interesting though, they claim to be the most christian of all christians. Or is this allegorical?

      Calling oneself a Christian (or follower of Jesus' teaching) and being a Christian--actually applying Jesus' teaching in ones life--are two totally different things.

      Math 7:21-23

      "21Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.22 Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’23 And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!"

      That is why Jehovah's Witnesses prefer their deeds to speak rather than their claims to be Christians.

      1 John 3:15

      "15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has everlasting life remaining in him."

      How many Christian religions have actually applied this Jesus' command and refused to participate in wars or national conflicts where people of the same Christian denomination kill each other over nationalist differences?

      Jehovah's Witnesses have gone even further and refuse to participate in wars at all because of this Jesus' command:

      "“You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

      Delete
    36. Newbie, nothing personal. All the JW I have met have been good decent people, but you need to realize that you have been deceived. You are in a cult. The New World Translation of the Bible is unique in one thing – it is the first intentional, systematic effort at producing a complete version of the Bible that is edited and revised for the specific purpose of agreeing with a group's doctrine. We both know it should be the other way around. I recommend that you take the time to study mainstream Christian teachings and a standard translation of the Bible to see the difference for yourself. This blog is not the venue for discussions of this sort, but your welcome to contact me on my gmail if you want.

      Delete
    37. If you feel that The New World Translation of the Bible is not a sufficient or accurate translation, I would be glad to answer your challenge based on the mainstream Christian Bible translation of your choice including the issues I raised in the thread.

      Delete
    38. No, please, no, Newbie. Why can't you just spare us all that biblical spam? It would make no difference if you quoted it in the original Hebrew or Greek.

      Delete
    39. Ok Newbie, could you explain the meaning of John 1:1 to me and its implication on JW doctrine?
      "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

      Delete
    40. Sorry Piotr, I know it's not the right venue...

      Delete
    41. Andy Wilberforce,

      Do you believe that God had a beginning or is rather without a beginning?

      Delete
    42. Piotr Gąsiorowski,

      As the World class linguist, I thought you would be interested in the quotations from the original Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic languages.

      Delete
    43. Newbie, a straight answer please. It is not implied in the text that the Word was created in the beginning. It was there in the beginning.

      Delete
    44. So, you are implying that the Word had no beginning and was not created? Right? Will you also imply that the Word refers to Jesus? Or someone else?

      Delete
    45. Yes "the Word" generally understood to refer to Jesus.

      Delete
    46. For those who are not interested in the subject (sorry John and Piotr) I provide the link, so that you can read on your own and judge for yourself whether Jesus is God or a god and whether he had God or was the God himself:

      Was Jesus the beginning of creation by God or was he himself God?

      Delete
    47. Newbie, you said "I would be glad to answer your challenge based on the mainstream Christian Bible translation of your choice". The link you provided make use of the NWT...

      Delete
    48. Oh the sheer, delicious irony of Andy demanding "a straight answer" from Newbie and describing Newbie's religion as a cult.

      Perhaps there is a god after all. Thank you jebus.

      But really Andy, I want your cult's interpretation of the statements of fact that Newbie as vomited all over this blog entry, as much as one can extract anything factual from his verbal diarrhea.

      You don't need to know anything about JW to respond, just how you and your fellow cultists understand Newbie's statements.

      Come on, this is your chance to shine.

      Delete
    49. photosynthesis, yes, it's very distressing that Fifi is rejected by so many, but I find solace in the fact that Fifi will amply reward our faith when we pass through the Pearly Corral Gate and enter Unicorn Heaven to live out eternity in unsaddled bliss.

      Delete
    50. steve oberski said: "Oh the sheer, delicious irony of Andy demanding "a straight answer" from Newbie and describing Newbie's religion as a cult."

      Yeah, it's pretty funny to see someone in a cult (in this case christianity) tell someone else who adheres to a different version of the SAME religion that they are in a cult and wrong in their beliefs.

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    51. "Yeah, it's pretty funny to see someone in a cult (in this case christianity) tell someone else who adheres to a different version of the SAME religion that they are in a cult and wrong in their beliefs. "

      Yes, funny isn't it...
      This reminds me of this scene from a well known movie...

      Delete
    52. Andy,

      You didn't actually answer Newbie's question about Word-Jesus having no beginning and being created. The quote you pasted doesn't support your view either as far as I can see.

      Delete
    53. I hope we aren't about to get into a big fight between the homoousians and the homoiousians. Last time that happened, there was a lot of violence.

      Delete
    54. John, rather between Christians and nontrinitarians such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons.

      Delete
    55. POSSESSED PRIEST: 'Down with the sacred hypostasis!'
      PRIESTS: 'Long live the sacred hypostasis!'
      POSSESSED PRIEST: 'Death to the anastasis!'
      PRIESTS: 'Long may it live!'
      POSSESSED PRIEST: 'Long live the apocatastasis!'
      PRIESTS: 'Down with it!'
      ONE OF THE PRIESTS: 'What on earth is the apocatastasis?'

      (Simon of the Desert)

      Delete
    56. I love the casual assumption that only trinitarians can be Christians. Anyway, it's usually considered that homoiousians are not trinitarians.

      Delete
    57. John wrote: "I love the casual assumption that only trinitarians can be Christians."
      John do you think that it make sense to call Muslims Christians? Wouldn't that make the term more vague?
      Well in JW they consider Jesus to be the Archangel Michael and in Islam he is a prophet. In Christianity he is considered to be God the Son. I would say that that is kind of an important difference.

      Delete
    58. Hey Andy,

      So you are saying that Newbie is a Muslim ?

      I guess that would make Isaac Newton a Muslim as well, he was certainly no trinitarian.

      Delete
    59. Andy said: "I would say that that is kind of an important difference."

      Yeah, it's about as important (to reality) as is how many unicorns can dance on the head of a pin.

      Read this page:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_the_Three_Bears

      Is there anything there that reminds you of your religious beliefs?

      Same question to Newbie, quest, and other thumpers.



      Delete
    60. JWs and Mormons consider themselves to be Christians. Arians and Nestorians considered themselves to be Christians. What makes you the arbiter of True Christianity (TM)?

      Delete
    61. Well, John. You can take two different stances on how a group of people should be defined:

      1. Self identification as belonging to the group.
      2. Acceptance by the other people in that group.

      It is my humble opinion that JW fails in both those cases, but I'm not here to quibble about it.

      Delete
    62. Hey Andy,

      How very tribal of you.

      And a perfect example demonstrating that one of the most important functions of religion is to identify the in group and demonize the out group.

      Delete
    63. There are two different ways of making a annoying fly go away:

      1. You ignore it, hoping it will lose interest
      2. You swat it (figuratively of course)

      I'm trying to decide which is the best course of action....

      Delete
    64. Hey Andy,

      It should be apparent to all that you have amply and consistently demonstrated that you are incapable of pursuing anything remotely similar to a "best course of action".

      Delete
    65. Reference Bible
      Joh 13:35
      By this all will know that YOU are my disciples, if YOU have love among yourselves.”
      Kingdom Interlinear
      Joh 13:35
      ἐν In τούτῳ this γνώσονται they will know πάντες all ὅτι that ἐμοὶ my μαθηταί disciples ἐστε, YOU are, ἐὰν if ever ἀγάπην love ἔχητε YOU may be having ἐν in ἀλλήλοις. one another.
      Byington
      Joh 13:35
      By this all will know that you are disciples of mine, if you have love for each other.”
      American Standard Version
      Joh 13:35
      By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
      King James Version
      Joh 13:35
      By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

      Which religion comes to your mind that truly applied the above mentioned command given by Jesus (which is the identifying mark of true Christians according to Christ) and refused to participate in Nazi Germany war and really, sincerely resisted Nazism?

      I would rather ask neutral people to answer this question, like agnostics and atheists, like Diogenes.

      Delete
    66. Hey Newbie,

      Do you consider Andy to be a true Christian ?

      Delete
    67. Newbie, did only jehova's witnesses refuse to participate in nazi Germany's war and really, sincerely resist nazism?

      Delete
    68. Hey Newbie,

      Here is a translation of a letter written in 1933 from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society Magdeburg to Adolf Hitler.

      Dear Reichskanzler,
      The Brooklyn headquarter of the Watchtower Society is pro German in an exemplary way and has been so for many years. For that reason, in 1918, the president of the Society and seven members of the board of directors were sentenced to 80 years in prison, because the president refused to use two of the magazines published in America under his direction for war propaganda against Germany. These two magazines, “The Watchtower” and “Bible Student” were the only magazines in America which refused to engage in anti-German propaganda and for that reason were prohibited and suppressed in America during the war.
      In the very same manner, in course of the recent months the board of directors of our Society not only refused to engage in propaganda against Germany, but has even taken a position against it. The enclosed declaration underlines this fact and emphasizes that the people leading in such propaganda (Jewish businessmen and Catholics) also are the most rigorous persecutors of the work of our Society and its board of directors. This and other statements of the declaration are meant to repudiate the slanderous accusation, that Bible Researchers are supported by the Jews.
      The conference of five thousand delegates also noted – as is expressed in the declaration – that the Bible Researchers of Germany are fighting for the very same high ethical goals and ideals which also the national government of the German Reich proclaimed respecting the relationship of humans to God, namely: honesty of the created being towards its creator.
      The conference came to the conclusion that there are no contradictions when it comes to the relationship between the Bible Researchers of Germany to the national government of the German Reich. To the contrary, referring to the purely religious and unpolitical goals and efforts of the Bible Researchers, it can be said that these are in full agreement with the identical goals of the national government of the German Reich.
      We are looking forward to your kind approval, which we hope to receive soon, and want to assure our highest respect to you, honorable Mr. Reichskanzler.
      Yours faithfully,
      Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society Magdeburg


      The 1933 Declaration of Facts showed the Watchtower's support of the German governments stance against Jews:

      "It is falsely charged by our enemies that we have received financial support for our work from the Jews. Nothing is farther from the truth. Up to this hour there never has been the slightest bit of money contributed to our work by Jews. We are the faithful followers of Christ Jesus and believe upon Him as the Savior of the world, whereas the Jews entirely reject Jesus Christ and emphatically deny that he is the Savior of the world sent of God for man's good. This of itself should be sufficient proof to show that we receive no support from Jews and that therefore the charges against us are maliciously false and could proceed only from Satan, our great enemy.

      Delete
    69. Newbie, do you believe that jehova's witnesses and all of the people that hitler waged war against were/are fellow "disciples" of jesus?

      Do you believe that only jehova's witnesses (or christians in general) can "love" other people?

      Are you and Andy aware that there are about 38,000 christian sects?

      Are you guys aware that hitler was a christian?

      Delete
    70. steve oberski, thanks for posting that letter and the Declaration of Facts. They're very revealing.

      Delete
    71. The whole truth,

      Newbie, do you believe that jehova's witnesses and all of the people that hitler waged war against were/are fellow "disciples" of jesus?

      Of course not

      Do you believe that only jehova's witnesses (or christians in general) can "love" other people?

      I believe that Jehovah's Witnesses as a group have demonstrated that it is possible to love other than their religion members. One of the examples of that is our world wide preaching work in over 239 countries. Our literature is available in almost 700 languages and the website jw.org is going to be available in that many languages soon. We preach to everyone who wants to listen without prejudice.

      "Are you and Andy aware that there are about 38,000 christian sects

      I am. Does that mean that nobody knows that truth about Jehovah God? How many of those sects proclaim that Jehovah is God's name?

      Are you guys aware that hitler was a christian?

      Hitler claimed to be Catholic. I'm certain that his deeds do not qualify him as a Christian.

      Delete
    72. The whole truth,

      Newbie, did only jehova's witnesses refuse to participate in nazi Germany's war and really, sincerely resist nazism?

      Of course not. There were many individuals and some pacifists groups that did that. Historians agree that as a religious group Jehovah's Witnesses were the only ones who constantly resisted successfully the Nazis.

      Delete
    73. How many of those sects proclaim that Jehovah is God's name?

      Is it? The spelling is artificial and the pronunciation differs from language to language. In English it has "j" as in "job", "v" as in "very", and both aitches are mute. This means that English-speaking JWs mispronounce every single consonant of the original Semitic tetragrammaton YHWH (never mind the wrongly reconstructed vowels). Assuming for the sake of the argument that YHWH is "the true name", you have mangled it beyond recognition.

      Delete
  6. Clearly you now know that god exists and children still get cancer. What's the point of attacking god for letting this happen?

    No one here expects to really face a god at the pearly gates. The whole point is to demonstrate what a monster the god is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, Stephen Fry reminds people that the god of the Bible destroyed almost every man woman and child on Earth in a great flood and allows cancer. Do you really think those are effective arguments for not believing in any gods? They're not even effective arguments for rejecting the Christian or Jewish god.

      In any case, thank-you for admitting that Stephen Fry avoided the question. Most people didn't realize that he had done that even though we are used to the same behavior from creationists. When creationists do it we get very angry with them for not being logical and not paying attention.

      Delete
    2. " They're not even effective arguments for rejecting the Christian or Jewish god."

      That's simply not true Larry. Lots of former christians came to reject belief in god due to various versions of the problem of evil. I think your take on this matter is coloured from iteracting mainly with deep fundamentalists like the nutbags over at Uncommon Descent. Yeah, those people will always find ways to rationalize away anything.

      Delete
    3. They're not even effective arguments for rejecting the Christian or Jewish god.

      It seems Larry disagrees with Darwin on this point! Wasn't Darwin's reason for disbelieving in a benevolent god the fact that parasitic wasps exist, and that cats play with mice (both unnecessary evils)?

      Reading that passage agin, Darwin seems to allow for an indifferent god. But if the christian god is actively benevolent, by definition it is ruled out.

      Delete
    4. I agree that arguments from god's bad behavior can start some people thinking. At age eight or nine I was horrified by the flood story.

      But what tipped the scale a couple years later was Abraham and Isaac. Only a psychopath would humiliate a parent that way. I decided hell would be preferable to eternity with a psychopath. At least you know what you're up against.

      Delete
    5. So, Stephen Fry reminds people that the god of the Bible destroyed almost every man woman and child on Earth in a great flood and allows cancer. Do you really think those are effective arguments for not believing in any gods? They're not even effective arguments for rejecting the Christian or Jewish god.

      No, I don't think those are arguments against believing in gods. Like you, I conclude there are no gods because of the utter absence of evidence to the contrary.

      But I do think theodicy is a powerful argument against worshipping the monster gods which purportedly perpetrate it.

      In any case, thank-you for admitting that Stephen Fry avoided the question.

      As I understood it, the question was, What would Stephen Fry say to him, her, or it [met standing at the Pearly Gates]. I think he answered that question quite clearly.

      Delete
    6. Larry says: So, Stephen Fry reminds people that the god of the Bible destroyed almost every man woman and child on Earth in a great flood and allows cancer. Do you really think those are effective arguments for not believing in any gods?

      Yes, this argument is an absolute refutation of all gods that are claimed to be both benevolent and all-powerful. If you raise the subject, the Christian is forced to redefine the word "benevolent" (they ALL do that) and/or redefine the word "all-powerful" (many do that as well.) They are forced to equivocate. There is NO one, single, argument that stops equivocation. You must arrange claims based on different definitions into two or more categories, then refute everything in category 1, then refute everything in cateorgy 2, etc.

      It's not Stephen Fry's fault that his opponents equivocate and flip between definitions. Again: there is NO one, single, argument that stops equivocation. When you are against a dishonest opponent, who uses more than one definition, you must use more than one argument. No one, SINGLE argument will ever shoot down everything a dishonest opponent says.

      They're not even effective arguments for rejecting the Christian or Jewish god.

      Oh, yes they are, if the Christian or Jewish gods are claimed to be all-powerful and benevolent. Again, the problem of evil forces the Christian to redefine the word "benevolent" (they ALL do that) and/or redefine the word "all-powerful" (many do that as well.) Then you must go in for the kill. You must prove they redefined the words they started out with, because they were losing, and that a redefinition of words is a de facto concession of defeat. Winners don't redefine their terms.

      I emphasize that it is unrealistic for Larry to expect ONE, single argument that refutes everything a dishonest opponent says. Against a dishonest opponent (creationist, Christian apologist, Flat Earther, etc.), you must have a strategy that counters equivocation and extraordinary claims. You need a strategy, not just one single boilerplate answer.

      Delete
    7. P.S. Larry, as an example of my point above, Byers below responds to the problem of evil with: "It makes no sense for God himself to get executed if he could stop evil with a snap of the finger." Thus Byers concedes that God is not all-powerful! An all-powerful god could indeed stop all evil with a snap of the finger. Byers shows that the Christian god is constrained by rules he did not create. Who created those rules?

      Delete
    8. Larry Moran said: «They're not even effective arguments for rejecting the Christian or Jewish god.» - They are at least arguments for stop worshiping such a god (if you don't like the idea of submiting and worshiping a narcissistic psychopath)

      Delete
    9. Quest,
      I don't think that by mocking the atheists you are contributing to their changing their mind and believing in God.

      Delete
    10. I see Pest is back to attacking people's ethnicities again. And creationists say Darwin invented racism... Now, we could consider ourselves lucky to be part of an international community of scholars. But then Pest shows up making cracks about how Portuguese are only good enough to be his maid or cook.

      Missy, before you respond, recall that Pest is technically banned because he threatened Larry. Larry doesn't have the technical ability to really ban him, so instead LM deletes all of Pest's comments at intermittent intervals. If you ignore his comments they will go away.

      Delete
  7. So Byers refused to give a straightforward answer and Quest is hiding or was his comment removed already?
    Are there any other religious ones here who are afraid to comment? I bet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know what question I avoided. I see nothing complicated in these matters from a protestant stance.
      It makes no sense for God himself to get executed if he could stop evil with a snap of the finger.
      where is the logic here?

      Delete
    2. Hey Robert,

      Are you saying that your god couldn't stop evil with a snap of the finger[s] ?

      Unless you actually meant finger, singular, in which case a god that can snap one finger should be able to do pretty much anything.

      Delete
    3. I'll double-post this point, if I may be forgiven.

      Byers above responds to the problem of evil with: "It makes no sense for God himself to get executed if he could stop evil with a snap of the finger." Thus Byers concedes that God is not all-powerful! An all-powerful god could indeed stop all evil with a snap of the finger. Byers shows that the Christian god is constrained by rules he did not create. Who created those rules?

      Delete
    4. god being powerful does not make evil injustice something to snap away. evil is here because of justice. god couldn't let injustice go unpunished.
      thats why he came to earth to fix it. To get justice by his execution. a fix.
      Evil is satans and mans agenda.

      Delete
  8. Well I think the very purpose of the kind of question posed to Fry is to reinforce the idea that the possibility of meeting this (Christian) god is a reasonable premise – which it isn’t. Even if there were some great entity in or outside the universe, surely it would bear no resemblance to any of the thousands of gods humans have concocted, and would have nothing to do with any of the stories in human holy books.

    Who knows, maybe Fry was conscious of the ridiculousness of the question's premise, and therefore used the opportunity to show how nonsensical and incoherent the Christian faith really is, instead.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm in overall agreement with Larry here. If I died and found myself before a set of pearly gates my worldview would be upended. Before going on a angry rant at the entity before me I'd want to know what a bit more about the true nature of reality.

    If I subsequently learned that God *did* create unnecessary evil, then I would be angry. If the god also styled itself as "benevolent", I would be doubly angry.

    To give stephen Fry the benefit of the doubt, though, I think he may have interpreted the question in this way: If you came face to face with a Christian creator-god which calls itself "benevolent" (despite clear evidence to the contrary), what would you say? Then I think his answer is pretty fair given the logically inconsistent scenario.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "If you came face to face with a Christian creator-god which calls itself "benevolent" (despite clear evidence to the contrary), what would you say?"

      This is exactly why Stephen said this, according to christians/ muslims/ jews their mono-theistic friend is benevolent and deserves worshipping because of that.
      Stephen is gay, he recently married a man he loved. According to christians/ muslims/ jews holy book Stephen should be killed because of this.

      Tell me, why should he worship a god who wants him dead because he, Stephen, is who he is?

      So basically, Stephen got the answer spot on.

      Delete
    2. The problem of evil proves that the creator god cannot be both all-powerful and benevolent. That's that. Nothing can reverse this, no conceivable observation, even seeing a god after death.

      If after death you find yourself at the pearly gates, you know that those pearly gates could not be put there by a god who is both all-powerful and also benevolent. The pearly gates could be put there by a god that is not all-powerful, or not benevolent, or both. If you meet any god beyond those gates, you know that he MUST be either not all-powerful, or not benevolent. If this god were to tell you he is benevolent, then you must conclude he was either not all-powerful, or just lying.

      Delete
    3. The Problem of Evil was the key issue in my understanding of religion. Well, that combined with my certainty that the suffering of non-human animals cannot be waved away as unimportant. When I fully accepted that if the existence of evil is anybody's fault it must be God's, a lot changed. The only idea of God that really make sense to me is of God as great but bringing both good and evil (e.g. Shiva, Kali), though the idea of gods as greater than humans but caught as we are in the vast inhuman universe (e.g. Buddhism, at least in some forms) could also make sense.

      I care about doing good, or at least avoiding doing evil, but a great god could at most be mildly interested in how it all plays out. Whether I might believe in him/her/it could not be relevant. If there is a great god, that's really cool, but it can't make any difference for me. I'm clearly free to follow my own best reasoning (learning from other people and the natural world).

      Delete
  10. I've been a frequent visitor to your blog ever since I discovered you to be one of the most thoughtful and eloquent critics of the silly yet woefully widespread idea that 'adaptationism' is the evolutionary-theoretical way to go. I wish it was as obvious to all as it is worrisome to me that adaptationist thinking makes for wonderful storytelling, yet vastly outruns the need for experimental checks, and shamefully ignores theoretically valid yet less pop-sciency non-adaptive explanations for biological features. That’s not science, that’s marketing; and so for to me at least it’s always a happy day when I come across one of those rare voices in the scientific community that takes to task those folks who try to reduce a complex and non-static theory to a mere sound bite. For that you have my sincere gratitude (for all the worth words of gratitude have when coming from an anonymous stranger).

    But for the life of me I can’t understand what you’re up in arms about in this post. ‘Stephen Fry makes the assumption that he knows the mind of God’? ‘Stephen Fry accepts the problem of Evil’? ‘Stephen Fry assumes that God gives a damn about our species’? I’ve seen the video, and for all that one may say for and against it, not by any stretch of the imagination could one legitimately attribute any of these views to mr. Fry on the basis of what he says in it.

    On a charitable reading of your post, I take it that you take umbrage with the mode of argument mr. Fry engages in, which, according to you at least, leaves him vulnerable to all sorts of rationalized responses from his Christian opponents. The first thing to ask about that is: what mode of argument wouldn’t?

    I take it that the question asked of mr. Fry was somewhat rhetorical, meaning ‘If there turned out to be a God, doesn’t that mean that we, Christians, are right and you, the unbeliever, are wrong?’ Taken like that, Fry’s response is wholly on the mark: the existence of God would prove no such thing. He’s not setting out to disprove the existence of God by appealing to the problem of Evil or any such thing. He’s arguing that if there were a God, there’s no reason to think he/she/it were worthy of our uncritical praise or respect.

    The kind of questions you’d prefer Fry asked of God would leave the assumption of his praiseworthiness unchallenged. As much as I admire your critical mind, I’m glad you weren’t the interviewee in this instance.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This post has made me click on the video above even though I avoided looking at it before. I don't care what Stephen Fry would say to "he, she, or it" if he encountered god when he dies. I see the Fry’s full 39-minute interview with Gay Byrne is available; I won't be watching it.

    However, this article at http://is.gd/LBoSFI suggests "Stephen Fry's comments about God could lead to criminal sanctions against him in many countries."

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  12. Once I adjusted to the whole being dead but not being dead thing, which I think might be strange enough that it might put me off balance some, perhaps I would simply ask, "Do I get to understand?" Because it would be a very humbling moment in that it meant I really misread the nature of reality and it's something I've spent some time pondering to try to synthesize an understanding. So yeah, I would just want to know if I get to understand it all. All this nonsense about "the problem of evil" and the like really goes by the boards. Sometimes you just have to admit that you've been deeply confused and have to start over and anything else is just stubborn arrogance.

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  13. The crucial point you are missing is that Stephen Fry was answering the question he was asked. He was specifically asked what would happen if he was wrong, with the clear implication that God as conceived by Christians is real. He wasn't asked about a hypothetical God, but rather God as conceived by most people of Ireland and Britain.

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  14. Hi Larry, It doesn't seem that any of your posters have had a personal communication with God. That is understandable because it is kind of rare. There aren't many prophets in the Bible even though it was written over thousands of years. Well I have been fortunate enough to have sort of conversed with God. And he also dropped the scales from my eyes so that I could see his work more clearly. So If you have any questions I would be glad to answer them. The answers to most questions are in the Bible. That's not to say you would get the correct answer from a theologian. While theologians are well intended, they are usually very timid and love their ivory tower. It is no wonder you will never get a satisfactory answer from them.

    I can't answer every question, but here is my point of view on a couple.

    Why is there suffering? According to Jesus God is like a farmer. He is raising a crop, us, to be in heaven with him. We have a tremendous gift of free will, like God himself. Not everyone is a saint by nature. With the millions of people that are created some will be a Hilter, etc. Also, we are never supposed to live here forever. We are designed to die. So pain is a part of the design. And like a farmer the wheat is separated from the chaff. So like it or not that is the nature of life and God. Most of the confusion here is caused by those timid theologians that claim God is 'all loving.' That is a human interpretation and has nothing to do with the Bible. A more accurate understanding of God's nature can be gleaned from reading the psalms. But then anything is better than thinking God is only love. One last distinction: if you are part of the church, and have received salvation, then God does seem to be only love. Theologians, because they are in an ivory tower fail to grasp the whole picture, and fail miserable at communicating the truth of the Bible to those outside the church.

    So is the bible 100 percent truthful as some claim? This is also a tricky question. Yes and no. The bible is best considered a book of divine truths where the authors have unlimited discretion to use human language to explain a divine truth. There are many genres in the bible: history, poetry, similes, metaphors, parables, and even I think fables. The book of Genesis is only a few paragraphs and everyone thinks it should contain a 100 percent accurate history of life. That seems like a lot to ask. It was correct about being created, and the creation events seem to be obvious, like creatures are created after the sun and earth. But the point is not the history, but the message that we were created by God which is 100 percent true.

    Is God a man? When God spoke to me his voice was very deep and it felt like the room was shaking. It was very unlike a woman's. So I would have to say his voice is like a man.

    If you have any questions, just ask.

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    Replies
    1. The argument from personal experience is a very powerful argument for those who think they have actually talked to god. It's much less convincing to those of us who haven't had this conversation.

      Why is that? It's because all those people who claim to be in communication with their god seem, coincidentally, to be talking to the exact same god they were raised to believe in. But the gods are quite different. So, either there are multiple gods carrying on conversations only with those who believe in them, or some of those people are deluded. They are just imagining that they talk to god.

      You probably think that the believers of all other gods are wrong when they say that they have a personal relationship with their own god. I agree with you but I just go one tiny step further.

      Delete
    2. @Peter Roberts: "Hi Larry, It doesn't seem that any of your posters have had a personal communication with God. That is understandable because it is kind of rare. There aren't many prophets in the Bible even though it was written over thousands of years. Well I have been fortunate enough to have sort of conversed with God. And he also dropped the scales from my eyes so that I could see his work more clearly."

      How do you know that your communication with "god" isn't actually some kind of delusion or psychoemotional phenomenon?

      We know people delude themselves, we know they hear voices and get feelings of things that don't exist. We know people under many different circumstances have experiences caused by brainchemistry during periods of duress, stress, drugs-use, lack of sleep and so on.

      How do you know your experience is not of that kind?

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    3. @Larry Moran: "The argument from personal experience is a very powerful argument for those who think they have actually talked to god."

      I don't, I think it's a terrible argument. I have never heard a good case for personal experience that isn't much more likely to just be some psychoemotional or neurological phenomenon. Even to the subject who have these kinds of experiences it has to be conceded it is still much more likely that their critical faculties are failing them, than it is that a divine being is directly communicating with them.

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    4. Mikkel. You misunderstand Larry's statement. It's a powerful argument to the people who have the experience. If god talks to you it's hard to argue he doesn't exist. It isn't much of an argument for anyone other than that person, though, for the reasons you and Larry mention.

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    5. No, I understood. And I say that it should not even be a powerful to those people either. It might be emotionally powerful, I certainty grant that. But it should not be epistemically or intellectually for the reasons I state, not even to the person who has this "experience". How does the subject of the experience know it is actually god speaking to them? They are in no better position to know this than a 3rd person who doesn't even have this experience. They still cannot meaningfully distinguish between it being a powerful delusion or emotional state of some sort, and a genuine communion with a divine mind.

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    6. If I started hearing voices, no matter their contents(hello hello, this is Yahweh speaking!), I would seek help from a psychologist.

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    7. You wouldn't if you knew it was god. It's a rare delusion that knows it's a delusion.

      Delete
  15. Peter Roberts,

    Who do you know that God spoke to you and not say......Satan? How can you tell the difference?

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  16. That was a very practical question -- a life and death question -- during the inquisition. Everybody believed that God could talk to selected people, but everybody knew that most people reporting such conversations were lying or deluded, presumably by Satan. How to tell the difference? Teresa of Avila, who had such experiences and talked about them, argued that such experiences came from God if they made people more humble and kind and virtuous, and from Satan if they made people more proud, etc. And even if they had come from Satan originally, if the experiences made the recipient a better person, God had turned Satan's plans around, and that was all good. Of course, as far as the church hierarchy was concerned, experiences from God should conform to church dogma. Teresa sometimes did a little quick interpreting of what she reported so that it fit. (This obviously strong-willed woman's "Oh, I'm just a poor ignorant little woman" line didn't hurt either.)

    One can feel cynical about this, but I admire that she lived and founded a new order at a time many outspoken people were killed or otherwise heavily punished.

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  17. If everything is a result of chance then why are we even talking about good or evil?

    Things just happen. Cancer isn't evil or good. It just is. Everything just is. One person/culture's evil is another's good and vice versa depending on the circumstances.

    If we reduce to atoms and their laws then is not free will an illusion? Who exists to accuse of good or evil? Us? He/she/it?

    To talk about good or evil (as an actual reality) risks assuming he/she/it. Isn't that the kind of slip that Larry wants atheists to avoid?

    The reality of evil is perhaps the strongest argument FOR he/she/it. Thus the irony of some having adopted the reality of evil as their primary argument for NOT believing in the existence of he/she/it.

    Within their fairy tale of believing in evil they blissfully applaud their logic and rage at others because THEY live in a fairy tale. Some time with a mirror may be helpful.

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