Friday, February 27, 2015

Here's how an atheist discusses the problem of evil

Sophisticated Christian: My God exists and He is omnipotent, kind, and loving. He chooses to allow evil because X, Y, and Z.

Atheist: If your god exists (he doesn't) and if he is omnipotent, kind, and loving (he isn't) then he MUST create a perfect world where there is no evil. I reject your arguments X, Y, and Z for the following reasons. (Blah, blah, blah.) Because MY version of YOUR imaginary god requires that he create a world where there is no evil, and because there is evil in the world, god doesn't exist.

Discuss.


259 comments :

  1. My version of the atheist's argument is simpler. If the Christian god is omnipotent and perfect in every way, how do you explain Celine Dion?

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    1. Justin Bieber is Celine Dion's father? Can he time travel or something?

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    2. There's a movie coming out about this. Perhaps Celine is her own father.

      But trying to return to the topic, theodicy is similar to the ID arguments trying to explain why any coherent version of ID looks just like evolution.

      Everything looks untended and unplanned, and that's just the way the designer intended.

      All except the flying priest. That's our proof. No faker could possibly have convinced a 17th century crowd.

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    3. Robert A. Heinlein's short story "All You Zombies" is the basis for the movie Predestination, and the Spierig brothers did a pretty good job IMHO.

      Watching it I did not know it was based on that short story but less than 5 minutes into the opening bar scene I knew that this must be the case.

      Getting back to the topic of the post, if you find the idea of time travel plausible then the entertaining the concept of an omnipotent, kind, and loving god who created this world should present no problems.

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    4. Perhaps the kind and loving omnipotent deity is just thinking through all the possibilities, and we just happen to be a rejected thought. that would be a theistic multiverse. All things possible are.

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    5. Another Canadian put it this way:

      Faith is cold as ice
      Why are little ones born only to suffer
      For the want of immunity or a bowl of rice
      Who will pay the price on the heads of the innocent children
      If there's some immortal power to control the dice

      We come into the world and take our chances
      Fate is just the weight of circumstances
      That's the way that lady luck dances
      Roll the bones
      Get busy

      'Roll the Bones' by Neil Peart

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  2. The fact that humans have different ideas about what makes a perfect world or a perfect god is the best evidence that there is no such thing.

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  3. Professor Moran, where have you been? Not talking to fundamentalists much, I expect.They are all high on the perfect love of the Lord Jesus, coming up with excuses for evil is the last thing on their minds. Many of them are unaware of the evil parts of the Bible such as Deuteronomy 22:13-21 where we are commanded to stone to death brides who don't bleed on their wedding night. So the realist's (not the atheist's) point about the existence of evil is not a case of atheists claiming to know about God, but rather of opposing fundamentalist denial of reality

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  4. My response would be: Before we start arguing about the nature of your deity, shouldn't it first be demonstrated to exist?

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    1. That is the right place to start and possibly end the discussion

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    2. Seems pretty obvious to me but we have many atheist friends who want to argue about what kind of gods Christians should believe in.

      It's THEIR imaginary god. They can make up whatever stories they want.

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    3. So trying to refute them on the basis of evidence and rationality is futile.

      It's really an exercise in literary criticism.

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    4. So trying to refute them on the basis of evidence and rationality is futile.

      Bingo!

      In order to argue about theodicy you have to begin with the premise that a god exists and he has certain properties. You've already left the world of evidence and rationality and agreed to play by the rules of fairy tales and superstition. Anything can happen in fairy tales.

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    5. Larry "Here's how an atheist discusses the problem of evil"
      "....and because there is evil in the world, god doesn't exist."

      1) You haven't discussed the problem of evil, you have just preached your atheist gospel!

      2) You're an atheist - there is no problem, there is no evil! If you agree that there is evil in the world then I wonder whether you belive that there is purpose?

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    6. I've always disliked using the word evil as it is using the language and infantile notions of religion.

      There is no evil in this world. Bad things, bad people, bad circumstances, yes - but no evil. And as with all or most of these, the difference between a pleasant sunday drive and a horrible fatal car crash is often determined by the merest of chance circumstances, not the capriciousness of invisible agents.

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    7. I've always disliked using the word evil as it is using the language and infantile notions of religion.

      Yes. It's just another example of how one can unwittingly be tricked into playing the game by theists' rules.

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    8. In order to argue about theodicy you have to begin with the premise that a god exists and he has certain properties.

      Oh, come on, Larry: reductio ad absurdum is a perfectly valid mode of argumentation.

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    9. For some reason, Larry doesn't like reductio ad absurdum. It's unclear why. I've asked, but he hasn't explained.

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    10. Actually, I'm quite a big fan of reductio ad absurdum. It's a very effective way of exposing the logical flaws in an argument.

      For example, there are almost an infinite number of ways that an imaginary god can be omnipotent and good while stiil permitting evil to exist. An atheist would have to counter all of those arguments while accepting the premise (for the sake of the argument) that such a god actually might exist.

      Isn't that absurd?

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    11. Larry, Either that was a joke or you don't know what "reductio ad absurdum" means. I'm going with the former.

      As for your "argument", I reject your premise. Theists have looked for a long time for ways to reconcile god with evil. None of them work unless you drop at least one characteristic that theists don't want to drop. (Omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent: pick two.) Of course, they won't admit that, but any argument with a theist suffers from the same problem. What's different here?

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    12. John Harshman says,

      Theists have looked for a long time for ways to reconcile god with evil. None of them work unless you drop at least one characteristic that theists don't want to drop.

      We are not talking about theism here. We are talking about Christianity. Christianity has been around for 2000 years and it's still going strong in many parts of the world. It's pretty absurd to say that their attempts to reconcile god with evil don't work because an atheist says their logic is flawed.

      Here's the Wikipedia definition of Redictio ad absurdum: "a common form of argument which seeks to demonstrate that a statement is true by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from its denial, or in turn to demonstrate that a statement is false by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from its acceptance." Your statement is that the Christian god can't exist because the characteristics that Christians must attribute to their god is logically incompatible with the presence of evil." The absurd conclusion is that all intelligent Christian theologians should have recognized this very simple logical fallacy and abandoned their god a long time ago. They can't refute your logic.

      I didn't realize that you were such a fan of using these kind of rhetorical arguments to argue for the existence and non-existence of something. You must love the ontological argument. I bet you've spent hours debating the true meaning of the imaginary properties of "omnipotence," "omniscient," and "omnibenevloent." Right?

      Have you also solved the omnipotence paradox? "Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even he could not lift it?" Please share your answer.

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    13. It's pretty absurd to say that their attempts to reconcile god with evil don't work because an atheist says their logic is flawed.

      You're right. Because the atheists say so wouldn't help. But the pointing to the absurdity works. Their "solutions" don't work. They know that they don't work. When you check their "top" "philosophers," you can see them exasperated at it. There's a reason why there's volumes after volumes attempting to explain away the problem of evil, the "mystery" of "The Trinity," the many obvious contradictions and flawed concepts, most of them central to Christianity. The volumes and volumes of diatribes after diatribes attest to the absurdity of what they want to explain, unsuccessfully. They continue on. Some, the few fortunate ones, actually feel a huge sense of relief when they notice that just quitting the fantasy makes the main problem obvious: it's all fantasy! So much falls into its right place once they notice that!

      I know from first experience (from being the Christian trying to reconcile nonsense). So, discussing the problem of evil, and other problems, is not really that much of a concession. It's an attempt at helping them confront the reality that they are trying to reconcile and make sense of mere fantasies.

      I agree though that fantasies have this quality of being fantasies, and therefore they can be as plastic as the fantasizer wants. But that too would be an admission that they are just fantasizing. See?

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    14. Photosynthesis, you may be surprised to hear that I disagree with you. Just out of curiosity, since you claim to be an ex-Christian with intimate knowledge of the scripture and doctrine: could you in your own words describe the main "flawed concept" or the most "obvious contradiction" in Christian teaching? If nothing else it gives you a chance to demonstrate that you really are who you claim to be. The "mystery" of the Trinity that you mentioned is interesting because there is wide consensus on the central parts through out Christianity. It is not discussed in great length in the scripture but the writing is clear and consistent with the central part of doctrine. I have not yet met a Christian that see the Trinity as unclear or problematic.

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    15. Andy,

      All those who question the teaching of Trinity are not Christians to you like Topgoosz or Newbie? Right?

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    16. Andy Wilberforce,

      I am not surprised whatsoever. After all, you're still a Christian, aren't you?

      It takes some brave thinking to realize that those problems have no solutions. That we end up accepting pseudo-answers that are rhetorical (as in nice sounding, rather than reason sounding) in nature. We take rhetorical come-backs for answers, while the most thoughtful Christians continue noticing that the problems are far from solved and continue producing volumes of "literature" trying to fix them, and then trying to fix what proposed solutions break. So, the populace might be rhetorically convinced that no problems exists, but the least rhetorically-inclined, the ones who see rhetoric for what it is, keep thinking about them.

      Let me give you an innocent example. One of your claims is that evil is the absence of good. It's just an assertion, and when Alex told you that asserting it does not make it true or reasonable, you did not further try and investigate what that meant. Anyway, now try and think about it. Why is it that when we talk about good deeds it is the size of a removed evil that makes it better. It's not the addition of something we could deem as a good thing. We talk about people doing something good when they solve problems. The worse the problem the better the goodness "score." I check and check, and I can't find a way in which evil would be the absence of good. I find quite the opposite. So, it would seem like good is the absence of evil. I was in the evil is the absence of good until I was confronted by this. Check it out: that lady has done good because she feeds the hungry. That other is even better because she contributes with cures for cancer. The other one because she stopped a nuclear bomb. Etc. I can't find ways in which, absent any problems, we could add "goodness" to the soup. Even when we are fine, if we take a vacation, we want to clear our minds, meaning we want to remove something that causes trouble to our minds, namely, that it is clouded.

      Well, when confronted with that, I had no option but to admit that the "evil is the absence of good" was mere rhetorical wordplay. One that's authentically beautiful, but not at all easy to demonstrate. It's beautiful rhetoric Andy. But that's it.

      Important contradictions exist, and I would not be surprised by your quick dismissal of them. So I gave you a smallish one instead. One so innocent that if you changed your stance, you would still have no reason to suspect that your god is not there. I choose that one to see how willing you are to examine something within the particular doctrines you have decided to accept over whatever other doctrines available for Christians out there. After all, you do know that your stances are not universal among the many flavours of Christianity, right?

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    17. Photosynthesis, we are off to a good start. You agree that with good and evil, one is the absence of the other. Also we are discussing the problem of evil. We have a problem accepting a world where (good) people: starve, get cancer and die in wars. We have no problem imagining a life where starvation, cancer and wars does not exist but we cannot imagine a place where evil is the norm, therefor evil must be the absence of good and not the other way around.

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    18. Johnny wrote: "All those who question the teaching of Trinity are not Christians to you like Topgoosz or Newbie? Right?"

      I may have said that, but what I meant is that a teaching that does not accept the Trinity cannot be Christian. I'm not to judge individual people like Newbie or Topgoosz. This statement is further underpinned by the fact that none-trinitarians do not use only the standard Bible. In the case of the Mormons they have written a new "holy" book and JW simply re-wrote the Bible so that it would agree with their doctrine.
      I wrote: "...the Trinity that you mentioned is interesting because there is wide consensus on the central parts through out Christianity" this of course automatically becomes true if you exclude everybody that do not agree, so it's not a well formulated claim. What I meat to say is that if you look at all the religious groups that use the Bible, only a few small splinter groups (small in comparison to the 1.6 billion Christians in the world) do not accept the central parts of the doctrine of the Trinity.

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    19. Andy,

      Again, saying that evil is the absence of good is mere rhetorical wordplay. What you said now works precisely in favour of the opposite, that good is the absence of evil. That we can imagine a world where good is the norm means that we can imagine a world where we have eradicated evil. So evil is the addition. Good the baseline. Good would therefore be the thing that can only exist absent the evil stuff.

      Of course, we can spend all day twisting this around and around, and you won't be able to escape my reasoning back into good being the absence of evil. So, in the end, you would have to admit that either I am right, and good is the absence of evil, or none of us is right. Precisely because we can keep playing without anybody being able to soundly reject the other person's position proves that the "evil is the absence of good" is nothing more than rhetoric anyway. It's a lose-lose situation for your position either way. At the very least, you should be able to understand that such position is not a straightforward solution. That it is far from settled even if you rather hold to it out of mere stubbornness. But this is a good example that, even if the populace holds to those rhetorical devices, the problems still exist, and that's why theologists ("philosophers") keep writing and arguing about them.

      Since you cannot soundly prove that evil is the absence of good. Since you can only assert it, my point is made, and there's no solution to the problem of evil by holding to such a meaningless assertion (you, of course, might have many other cards up your sleeve, but that's not the point). You would have to admit that you bought into it because it makes you feel well, because it makes your beliefs in a god who created good, and good only, feel "sound." Not because the assertion is true. That's exactly what rhetoric is about. That's exactly why we should examine those assertions, rather than accept them because they make us feel good.

      Please think about it carefully before continuing. Again, an innocent assertion whose rhetorical nature is easy to show. We'll see if you are able to actually confront the issue as it is, rather than as you prefer it to be.

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    20. By the way, the popularity of the trinity does not make the trinity any more reasonable. That the official position of whatever number of denominations is that the trinity exists does not make it sound either. Again, there's volumes written about the "mystery" of the trinity for a reason: One god and one god only, but three persons. You may not have problems with that (growing up under such fantasies). Yet, theologists keep at it. Wouldn't that mean that there's some unsolved problems there? There is. They want to actually understand what that means. Accepting and understanding, actually understanding, are not the very same things Andy. Do you understand the difference between those (accepting and understanding)?

      They end up giving you "metaphors," actually rhetorical devices, to deal with the cognitive dissonance. But they don't give you understanding. They keep discussing it. The reason is because it does not make sense. But they want it to make sense. If only they realized that it's all fantasy.

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    21. Photosynthesis, it's hard to discuss when you move the goal post, as in the case of the Trinity, and your own definitions of e.g. good and evil.

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    22. Andy, Is sending people to hell to be tormented in fire for eternity evil?

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    23. photosythesis,
      "the popularity of the trinity does not make the trinity any more reasonable".

      Why should it make trinity reasonable? Just few hundreds years ago if one of the non-trinitarians didn't accept the teaching of trinity are as reasonable because there is not sufficient evidence for it in the bible, he/she would be burned alive with the bible wrapped around his/her neck to discourage others from questioning it further.

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    25. Johnny wrote: "Andy, Is sending people to hell to be tormented in fire for eternity evil?"
      No, God's judgment is always just. The important thing here is that he by his grace has sent his son so that the world may be saved through Him. It's up to man to accept or reject salvation.

      Johnny wrote: "Just few hundreds years ago if one of the non-trinitarians didn't accept the teaching of trinity are as reasonable because there is not sufficient evidence for it in the bible, he/she would be burned alive with the bible wrapped around his/her neck to discourage others from questioning it further."

      Can you give a reference to that? Sounds horrible. In any case it's un-biblical. Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;

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    26. Andy,
      "No, God's judgment is always just. The important thing here is that he by his grace has sent his son so that the world may be saved through Him. It's up to man to accept or reject salvation"

      Wait a minute Andy. Are you telling me that even from human point of view eternal torment in hell fire is justice? I didn't kill anyone. I don't steal. I'm a moral person. I do good things to others. Even from human prospective I don't deserve to go to jail. Even humans don't torture the worst criminals. They put them in jail for life or they execute them. That is it. Why would a loving God torture me eternally in hell fire just because I didn't accept the salvation? You don't have a problem with that? How does that make any sense? Or is it perhaps another of Christian mysteries? Or perhaps there is something wrong with this Christian doctrine about eternal hell fire? Is it possible that the church has been wrong?

      "Johnny wrote: "Just few hundreds years ago if one of the non-trinitarians didn't accept the teaching of trinity are as reasonable because there is not sufficient evidence for it in the bible, he/she would be burned alive with the bible wrapped around his/her neck to discourage others from questioning it further."

      Can you give a reference to that? Sounds horrible. In any case it's un-biblical. Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven"

      You have never heard of inquisition and holly wars? You have never heard about the prohibition of reading the bible for common men? How about burning alive the so called heretics (people who often read the bible and wanted it to be translated to common men language rather than Latin)? Where have you been all this time Andy? Please tell me you are not that ignorant.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_by_burning#Medieval_Inquisition_and_the_burning_of_heretics

      Roman Catholic "Church" Prohibited Bible Reading

      http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/nobible.htm

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    27. Andy,

      You're going to have to help us out here. Nobody around here understands how sending someone to eternal torment can be a just punishment for anything whatsoever, much less for not believing in a particular god, which hardly seems like a crime at all.

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    28. John Harshman, This is exactly what I have been wondering about. If I'm agnostic and don't have faith in God or I just don't want the salvation, why would a loving and just God torture me eternally for that? How is that a crime? Let me live as long as I can and then bye bye. This justice

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    29. You're going to have to help us out here. Nobody around here understands how sending someone to eternal torment can be a just punishment for anything whatsoever, ...

      Speak for yourself. You don't understand because you are not god and you are not omniscient. You are just a stupid human like the rest of us. Christians understand this because their gods speak to them and tell them how stupid they are.

      How are you going to use logic to refute that?

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    30. Larry,

      You must be using one of those other ways of knowing we hear so much about. Now, I'm assuming that you don't understand. Don't go speaking for the ones who do.

      Can you use logic to refute nonsense? Probably not. But you can use logic to show that it's nonsense.

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    31. Dr. Moran said, "We are talking about Christianity. . . . It's pretty absurd to say that their attempts to reconcile god with evil don't work because an atheist says their logic is flawed."

      True. A Christian relative of mine believes that what people suffer now provides a kind of learning that prepares us for our further development in the afterlife. After setting aside the basic problem that there's no good evidence for any afterlife (we can't agree about that), I argue that no possible future benefit could justify the agony some small children suffer. He says it does. I don't for a moment believe his argument, but I can't refute it.

      And how would that justify the suffering of non-human animals (which he believes have no afterlife)? After a try at the argument that non-human animals don't actually suffer (I couldn't let that stand), he argued that non-human animals don't count. We could only disagree.

      Although we can't resolve the issue of the evil that must be the responsibility of his good god (if his good god exists), we do enjoy the arguing, and perhaps the discussion gives observers an interesting perspective for their own thinking on the topic.

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    32. Andy Wilberforce,

      "Photosynthesis, it's hard to discuss when you move the goal post, as in the case of the Trinity, and your own definitions of e.g. good and evil."

      I doubt that I did such a thing. Did you see the comment just above the one on the trinity? That was the one you should have looked at. The trinity comment was there just as a parenthesis. After all, you guys started discussing its acceptance because I mentioned it. But the problem with the trinity is not whether Christians accept it as true, but whether it is settled as no longer a "mystery" among Christians who think enough to not be content with acceptance alone. Those who want to understand. Anyway, please check the comment just above the one on the trinity and you'll see that there's no goal shifting whatsoever.

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    33. John and Johnny, let me elaborate a little on my answer above.

      First the majority of Christian New Testament scholars interpret the passages describing the everlasting punishment as metaphorical for the suffering and the anguish of those who are separated from God, but not necessarily to be taken as literal flames.

      Second to quote Bill Craig: "No Christian likes the doctrine of hell. I truly wish with all my heart that universal salvation were true. But to pretend that people are not sinful and in need of salvation would be as cruel and deceptive as pretending that somebody was healthy even though you knew that he had a fatal disease for which you knew the cure."

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    34. "Bill Craig"? That is william lane 'the genocide apologist' craig, right? I don't believe for even a nanosecond that craig or any other christian doesn't like the "doctrine of hell'. "Bill Craig" and other theocratic monsters like him have made a career out of threatening people with the "doctrine of hell" and a lot of other despicable mind games.

      If you, craig, or any other christians don't like the "doctrine of hell", all you have to do is quit believing in it and threatening people with it (especially children). The "doctrine of hell", as you call it, is just a horrible weapon that narcissistic, self-righteous, sadistic tyrants use to put fear into people so that they can be controlled and robbed.

      Oh, and your appeal to "Christian New Testament scholars" is pretty funny. I always have a good laugh when you thumpers appeal to alleged "scholars" when the subject is biblical fairy tales.

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    35. So Andy didn't even bother to move goalposts. He switched to a new game. Initially sending people for eternal fiery torture was just because God's judgments are always just. But when the logic of the doctrine of eternal punishment in fiery hell was questioned, Andy just changed the game entirely and offered an alternative doctrine for those who may not like the literal interpretation of the bible teaching. This is very good Andy. You accused the non-Trinitarians of the same thing.

      Too bad you didn't update yourself on the alternative interpretations of the scholars who still believe that the inquisition and burning alive of the heretics was not only justified but necessary.
      Jut keep it up Andy.

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    36. Johnny, what metaphor you use is not really the issue is it? The point is that everybody is given the choice between eternity with God or without.
      You make many assertions Johnny, could you name the scholars that teach burning alive of heretics and on what grounds they do it?

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    37. Andy said: "The point is that everybody is given the choice between eternity with God or without."

      Everybody? I'd like to see your evidence that shows that everybody who has ever lived was/is aware of your chosen, imaginary, so-called 'God' and that they had/have the choice between eternity with or without it.

      And you still haven't answered these questions:

      How do you know that your religious beliefs are the truth?

      It it were discovered, and verified with irrefutable evidence, that there is a creator of the universe but that it is not your chosen, so-called "God' and is nothing like your chosen, so-called 'God', would you discard your religious beliefs?

      If you had been born 500 years ago in what is now called Montana, or 5,000 years ago in what is now called Kenya, or 20,000 years ago in what is now called France, would you have been a christian?

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    38. Yes, TWT, everybody. See Romans 1.20; 2.7; 2.14-15

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    39. Andy,
      "Johnny, what metaphor you use is not really the issue is it? The point is that everybody is given the choice between eternity with God or without."

      I personally prefer the later metaphor of the non-literal hellfire. I think that most sane people would most likely agree with me
      The question remains whether your God agrees with my choice.

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    40. Johnny, metaphors are used because it's beyond our imagination. It's not going to be a nice existence, that is the bottom line. Can you imagine an existence without good, only evil? I cannot.

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    41. Andy,

      "The point is that everybody is given the choice between eternity with God or without"

      There are a billion Hindus and a billion or so Buddhists who don't believe in the Christian god. No matter how good they are in life, they are going to hell for eternity. No choice there. But the priests who systematically abused children throughout their lives, if they ask for forgiveness at the end, they just waltz on into heaven?

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    42. You forgot the Muslims Chris, you forgot the second largest religion...well same reply as to TWT before. Everybody gets their chance.

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    43. Andy, So you wouldn't discriminate me which metaphor I choose to imagine what hell is like, what eternity is like, what heaven is like and what God is like would you? Right? Because they are like you said" beyond our imagination".

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  5. Not that some atheists don't make silly arguments, but Epicurus had it basically right, and it isn't not the atheist's straw version of God; it is fundamental to the definition of God *as given by theists*. Arguments X, Y and Z are attempts to get around Epicurus -- to find exceptions or qualifications that allow God to permit evil to occur, without contradicting his essential nature. I won't rule out that there may be some argument out there that doesn't fail, but so far all the proffered X's, Y's and Z's look like rationalizations to get around the fact that the universe looks like a place where shit just happens, and no one is superintending it. Theodicy fails Occam's Razor.

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    1. How about, "My god is omnipotent and kind but he works in mysterious ways that we don't understand?"

      How in the world can you argue about this? Do YOU know the imaginary gods well enough to show that the Christians are wrong?

      It's their imaginary god. They've already made up stories about him being omnipotent, kind, and loving (and male) so who's to stop them from making up lots of additional stories? Theodicy is the least of the problems you should be concerned about.

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    2. How about, "My god is omnipotent and kind but he works in mysterious ways that we don't understand?"

      How in the world can you argue about this?


      The proper answer is to ask how, if you don't understand what he does, you can know that he's omnipotent and kind? This is all about demonstrating to theists that their concept of god is incoherent: either self-contradictory, or incompatible with the evidence, or both.

      And that, incidentally, provides evidence that the god they imagine doesn't exist.

      Why is this a problem for you?

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    3. Why is this a problem for you?

      Because it's pretty clear that Christians have figured out a way to deal with the issue by imagining all kinds of special properties about their imaginary god.

      It's pretty clear that they aren't going to let an atheist tell them what kind of god they should believe in.

      Why would you want to even try and do this when there are no gods to begin with? How in the world do YOU know that the Christian god isn't transcendent and mysterious? Do you talk to him as well?

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    4. So what are you suggesting? That nobody should argue with theists? That's where this seems to lead.

      Nobody is suggesting that you tell theists what kind of god they should believe in, just point out that the god they believe in is logically inconsistent, and logical inconsistency is not a property of things that exist. God is a circular triangle.

      Now I'm willing to agree that arguing with theists might be futile. But I'm not willing to agree that the kind of argument we're talking about here is more futile than other kinds, if that's what you're saying.

      Anyway, the Christian god might be transcendent and mysterious if he existed, but we can't simultaneously claim to know that he's good, and trying to do both at once results in contradiction. Still don't see why that's a poorer argument than any other.

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    5. "Because it's pretty clear that Christians have figured out a way to deal with the issue by imagining all kinds of special properties about their imaginary god. "

      Maybe some of the "sophisticated theologians" think they have solutions, but I think most practicing Christians deal with it by simply not thinking about the cruelty in the world. Remember Darwin himself mentions how horrified he was when he learned about parasitic wasps (the real life version of the monsters from the "Alien" films). I think reminding people of the incongruence between a benevolent god and the realities of nature is useful.

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    6. Maybe some of the "sophisticated theologians" think they have solutions, but I think most practicing Christians deal with it by simply not thinking about the cruelty in the world.

      Something like that anyway. For most christians, they seem to know an awful lot about this god they love, and who loves them. But when you start asking pointed questions about the nature of this god, He (with a capital H) suddenly becomes vague, mysterious, and unknowable by mere humans. That is, till next sunday when He magically transforms back into this supremely knowable friend and father figure.

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    7. So what are you suggesting? That nobody should argue with theists? That's where this seems to lead.

      I don't think that's what Larry is suggesting. Rather, he is warning against letting theists set the terms of the discussion. Once you concede that the existence of anything, other than abstract ideas, can be determined by argument alone, you've already given most of the game away. Theists will almost always try to shift the argument to these grounds, often using tactics like accusations of "scientism", because they know they can't demonstrate the existence of their deity thru the means we usually use to determine whether something exists.

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    8. For most christians, they seem to know an awful lot about this god they love, and who loves them. But when you start asking pointed questions about the nature of this god, He (with a capital H) suddenly becomes vague, mysterious, and unknowable by mere humans.

      Yes. The classical example being Cathollic theologians who insist that God be conceived only as some abstract entity like "the non-contingent ground of contingency", but then also believe this god existed in the form of a guy who walked around, eating sleeping and pissing just like the rest of us, 2000 years ago.

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    9. Rather, he is warning against letting theists set the terms of the discussion.

      Really? He seems to be doing just the opposite, warning against setting the terms of discussion (i.e. definition of god's properties) yourself. Besides, it isn't necessary to concede anything in order to show that a claim is internally inconsistent.

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    10. Besides, it isn't necessary to concede anything in order to show that a claim is internally inconsistent.

      Oh, I agree that it can be entertaining and instructive to try and argue on the theists' terms. But one should not lose sight of the fact that the bigger argument remains unaffected by whatever the results of such peripheral skirmishes. That, if a god exists, he can be all good and still allow evil to exist in the world does not mean that any gods actually exist.

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    11. It's impossible to argue about the existence of gods, since the term is not well-defined. It's necessary to ascribe properties to the word. I don't see a way out of that. Of course god can always be reduced to undetectable gibberish like "the ineffable ground of being", but I would consider forcing a theist into that position to be a big victory. That would be a god nobody has any reason to care about.

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    12. Do YOU know the imaginary gods well enough to show that the Christians are wrong?

      Have you forgotten that you're talking to an ex-Christian here? (And a moderately Sophisticated one, if I say so myself). Yes, I was on rather good terms with that imaginary god there for a while. Sure, the main reason I ditched it was the evaporation of anything I could reasonably consider evidence for it, but the existence of a damn heavy brick of contrary evidence (which the PofE is) didn't hurt, either.

      As someone said elsewhere in this thread: it's all about cognitive dissonance. At some point you realize it's all a bunch of excuses and rationalizations, and you get damned tired of propping them up.

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    13. Larry asked:

      "Do YOU know the imaginary gods well enough to show that the Christians are wrong?'

      Larry, the way I see it is that a person only has to know something about the ways in which an imaginary god or gods are described in the written or verbal stories about an imaginary god or gods. Rational arguments can be made against the alleged attributes of an imaginary god or gods without conceding that an imaginary god or gods actually exist.

      You're right, of course, that christians make up whatever they feel like making up about their imaginary god but I don't think that it requires studying all of the details of their long history of making things up in order to point out that they're making things up and that what they believe in and promote is contradictory, ridiculous, horrible, and in many ways impossible. Their long history of making things up can all be boiled down to a handful of the same old arguments anyway. They just keep trying to pass off the same old crap by trying to dress it up as 'sophisticated' theology/philosophy.

      I realize that you don't agree but I think that arguing against the existence of their imaginary god and that pointing out the contradictory, ridiculous, horrible, impossible stories in their so-called 'holy book' (the bible) can both be effective, although I also realize that many or most christians will retain their beliefs no matter what. It's not easy to dislodge religious beliefs, especially when they have been ingrained since childhood.

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    14. TWT earlier wrote: "Your appeals to authority (e.g. the Hippo guy and Plantinga) just further demonstrates that your religious beliefs (and christianity overall) are based on authority"
      Now TWT write: "You're right, of course, that christians make up whatever they feel like making up about their imaginary god"
      So make up your mind. Which way is it? Do we make up as we go along, or are we building on tradition?

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    15. Building on tradition is an interesting way to describe putting lipstick on a pig. You christians appeal to chosen 'authorities' who made or make things up and you make things up as you go along, although the things that you make up as you go along are essentially the same as the things that have already been made up.

      P.S. No offense meant to pigs.

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    16. TWT, I think that you just make up your arguments as you go along.
      Also IMHO you should seriously reconsider your pseudonym. You don't care about the truth, not even a part of it. Let me suggest you use "Totally Warped Truth" instead. That way you still have the same acronym, and it better reflects your posts.

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    17. The whole truth says,

      You're right, of course, that christians make up whatever they feel like making up about their imaginary god but I don't think that it requires studying all of the details of their long history of making things up in order to point out that they're making things up and that what they believe in and promote is contradictory, ridiculous, horrible, and in many ways impossible.

      If you're going to say that what they believe is contradictory, ridiculous, and impossible, then how are you going to make that claim without studying what they actually say about their imaginary gods?

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    18. Larry, correct me if I'm wrong but you're apparently saying that a great deal (or all) of what christians have asserted over the last thousand years or more must be seriously studied before anyone can make a rational argument against the beliefs and assertions of christians. I don't think that that's necessary. As I said before, I think that some of the things they assert need to be known but it doesn't take much, if any, 'study' to know what those things are.

      Christians, like people of other religions, focus mostly on a handful of points about their so-called 'God' and they just try to dress up the same old points with more made up, incoherent assertions in their attempts to fool people into thinking that their beliefs and assertions are really complex and sophisticated.

      You've probably noticed that arguments about religious beliefs are virtually always about the same points. Christians and other religious people keep bringing up the same old crap, in favor of their beliefs and against whatever they're against, because that's really all they've got. Religious people are mired in antiquated myths and they can't come up with anything 'new' because there isn't anything 'new' in regard to their imaginary god(s). Oh sure, they try to make it sound or look as though they're making new points but they're not. Even when they attack evolutionary theory and other aspects of science they still rely on the same basic arguments: 'gaps' (whether real or imagined), 'were you there?' (historical science is flawed!), 'why don't we see bacteria evolving into elephants?', 'if humans evolved from monkeys why are there still monkeys?', 'where are the transitionals?' (fossils and crocoducks), 'the Grand Canyon is proof of the flood!', 'you can't prove that my chosen God doesn't exist', 'you can't have morals without my chosen God!', 'Hitler was a Darwinist!', 'Darwinism is evil atheism!', 'Darwinists are wanton killers and they're ruining science!', 'the bible says...', 'this religious authority says...', 'micro vs. macro', 'Piltdown Man was a hoax!', 'CSI-FSCI-dFSCI-FSCO/I-IC!', 'God don't make no junk!', 'light was way faster in the past', 'quantum physics proves that the shroud of Turin is real!', 'flagella!', etc.







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    19. Andy, since you're so interested in the truth, I have a few questions for you:

      How do you know that your religious beliefs are the truth?

      It it were discovered, and verified with irrefutable evidence, that there is a creator of the universe but that it is not your chosen, so-called "God' and is nothing like your chosen, so-called 'God', would you discard your religious beliefs?

      If you had been born 500 years ago in what is now called Montana, or 5,000 years ago in what is now called Kenya, or 20,000 years ago in what is now called France, would you have been a christian?

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    20. @The Whole Truth

      I will correct you. You are wrong.

      What I'm saying is that if you want to get down in the mud with Christians and argue about "sophisticated theology" issues like the problem of evil, then you have an obligation to represent their views correctly. You can't set up a simplified strawman version of what they believe and shoot it down. And you certainly can't just dictate to them what they SHOULD believe if they are "true Christians."

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    21. Larry,

      When has anyone here advocated setting up strawmen or dictating what they should believe? It seems to me that you are setting up strawmen for atheists and dictating what we should believe.

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    22. I feel like Larry has lost the train of his thoughts or has gone too far in his philosophical rhetoric.

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    23. When has anyone here advocated setting up strawmen or dictating what they should believe? It seems to me that you are setting up strawmen for atheists and dictating what we should believe.

      In order to demonstrate that Christians are being illogical you have to postulate that they believe in gods that can do anything they want AND that those gods want to eliminate all evil. The fact that there's evil in the world then becomes proof that their gods don't exist. QED.

      However, Christians believe in a god who sent his only son to Earth to atone for their sins and them allowed Jesus to be crucified by the Romans (with the help of his former chosen people, the Jews). That's clearly not the strawman god that you want them to believe in.

      The Christian gods—there are at least three of them plus a host of minor supernatural beings called angels—want you to be good but they can't make you be good so they have to threaten to turn you over to another god named Satan if you misbehave.

      This is, of course, all for the greater good that only the gods know about. That's not at all like your strawman gods so there's no logical inconsistency as far as Christians are concerned.

      You can try to trap them into making inconsistent claims—just like you are trying to trap me—but there's a big difference.Unlike me, the Christians are not bound by the rules of logic and consistency. You have to agree to play by their silly rules as soon as you agree to discuss imaginary omnipotent beings.

      The Christian gods behave more like the individuals in the Q Contunium than the gods of your strawman version of Christianity. Have you ever seen Picard convince Q that he doesn't exist?

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    24. Larry, I believe you are misunderstanding the premises. We could certainly delve into the various inconsistencies in various Christian belief-sets. You have alluded to some of them while seeming not to recognize, or perhaps merely to care, that they are indeed inconsistencies. The fact that Christians don't notice the inconsistencies either doesn't mean that they aren't there.

      Nor do I see why it's necessary to play by their rules rather than the ordinary rules of logic and reason. If the rule is that we must abandon reason, then there is no basis for argument.

      Is that what you are saying here, that it's impossible to argue with a theist? If so, that's a broader claim than you have previously made and has nothing to do specifically with what you had previously been complaining about, i.e. accepting premises for the sake of argument. I don't think any of this is very clear in your head, much less on the page.

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    25. @John Harshman

      Hmmm ... if you don't understand what I'm saying then it's true that one possibility is that it's all my fault.

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    26. Agreed. But you can skip the passive-agressive remarks and explain, assuming you have any interest in continuing.

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    27. WTF!

      I explained it to you about five ways from Friday and all you can say is, "Larry, I believe you are misunderstanding the premises."

      and ... "Is that what you are saying here, that it's impossible to argue with a theist?"

      and .... "I don't think any of this is very clear in your head, much less on the page."

      and ... " you can skip the passive-agressive remarks and explain, assuming you have any interest in continuing."

      I have no interest in continuing.

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    28. Andy,

      "So make up your mind. Which way is it? Do we make up as we go along, or are we building on tradition?"

      The two aren't mutually exclusive, and Christians have made ample use of both as it suits them to rationalize their beliefs.

      To turn a phrase, you build on a long tradition of making stuff up as you go along.

      I think this is Dr. Moran's point.

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  6. "Sophisticated Christian: My God exists and He is omnipotent, kind, and loving. He chooses to allow evil because X, Y, and Z.

    Atheist: If your god exists (he doesn't) and if he is omnipotent, kind, and loving (he isn't) then he MUST create a perfect world where there is no evil. I reject your arguments X, Y, and Z for the following reasons. (Blah, blah, blah.) Because MY version of YOUR imaginary god requires that he create a world where there is no evil, and because there is evil in the world, god doesn't exist."

    I personally think these are not a good arguments for non-existence God (s). If anything at all these arguments are only good enough that either God (s) is not omnipotent, kind, and loving or he allows evil due to free will. There is also a third possible argument that one JW brought it up on this blog a while ago. It has something to do with Adam and Eve's eating the forbidden apple and causing the first evil that just snowballed from there or something like that

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  7. I'd say that the problem of Evil does not prove that God does not exist, but it does constrain the kind of God that could exist. Widespread evil (natural and human-caused) indicates that God, if it exists, does not care much about our suffering. And if it is not a loving God, then the idea of a deity becomes very close to the concept of Nature itself, which admittedly doesn't care for us. The concept of God becomes quite empty.

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  8. There's a much simpler way to put it.

    Why doesn't Jesus ever call 9-1-1?

    Even a young child with a cellphone can and regularly does possess more ability and / or moral character than Jesus, as is regularly demonstrated. Timmy fell down a well? Father O'Mgawd is raping Susie? A tree fell on Grandma's house and she can't get out? If the child's there, out comes the cellphone and, a short while later, the evil is mitigated.

    So, what's Jesus's excuse? Bad network coverage in Heaven? (Then how does he hear prayers?) Lost the charging cable again? (Then why doesn't he miracle up a replacement?) Too busy getting his rocks off as he watches Father O'Mgawd have his way with Susie? (Then you respect him...why?)

    Cheers,

    b&

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  9. The argument demonstrates that the theists definition cannot be correct. A kind and loving god, indeed a perfectly kind and perfectly loving god, must indeed eliminate gratuitous evil, because that's what it means to be kind and loving.

    The "arguments X, Y, and Z" are theodicies. You kind of skip over the part where the atheist demonstrates that the theodicies are pretty bad arguments. That's rather important, not "blah, blah, blah". Because without them, god has no excuse for allowing gratuitous evil. Steve Watson above has it right; this isn't the atheist's version of god, it's the theist's stated version of god. The atheist is merely showing that this god, as stated, is internally inconsistent, and thus cannot exist as defined.

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    1. The argument demonstrates that the theists definition cannot be correct.

      Thanks for letting us know.

      Have you told the theists that their version of god cannot be correct because YOU know how their god should behave if he exists?

      How did that work out?

      It's a fairy tale. They can make up any story they like about their imaginary god. Why would you bother arguing with them about it?

      The logic fails as soon as they say "god exists." If you're willing to accept that premise for the sake of (a pointless) argument then the next one is, "god is omnipotent."

      Now let's say, for the sake of argument that you are willing to consider the idea that an omnipotent god exists. The next part is "god is kind and loving." In order to continue, you have to accept the premise that an omnipotent, kind and loving god exists.

      The next argument is that the omnipotent, kind, loving, god allows evil to exist for reasons that we can't understand because god is transcendent.

      THAT's where you decide to draw the line at what you will accept for the sake of argument?

      You call that logical?

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    2. Larry, I'm wondering if you understand "what the sake of argument" means. One can always argue by rejecting particular premises, but one can also argue by showing that particular premises do not lead to a desired conclusion, or are mutually contradictory. Why would you reject the latter forms of argument as inferior to the first?

      I would certainly not draw any line. The premise that god allows evil to exist for reasons we can't understand is simply incompatible with the premise that we know he's kind and loving. A god who incorporates both these premises is incoherent and therefore doesn't exist.

      Anyway, what are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to show that it's pointless to argue with believers? Or just that certain arguments are more pointless than others? If the latter, I don't see that you have demonstrated any such thing.

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    3. Larry wrote:

      THAT's where you decide to draw the line at what you will accept for the sake of argument?

      Indeed.

      Which is the real beauty of Epicurus's famous riddle, and why I love framing it as I did above with cellphone-toting kids calling 9-1-1.

      The theists can make up fantasies all day long about their imaginary friends, including all sorts of excuses why we just missed them because they had to fly up Uranus for some special superhero business.

      But the fact of the matter is that we know that there aren't any agents of even the most modest means who sometimes lend us an helping hand...because even the least among us do so much more than these hypothetical agents ever do.

      Doesn't matter if you really think that your invisible friend can make whirled peas and curate cancer but doesn't. Doesn't even matter why your invisible friend doesn't. It could be because your invisible friend can't, because your invisible friend is an asshole, or because your invisible friend doesn't exist outside your imagination. Or even because your invisible friend is real and not making whirled peas and curating cancer is necessary for some greater good incomprehensible to mere mortals.

      All that matters is that your invisible friend is demonstrably entirely irrelevant when it comes to matters of international relations and modern medicine, so would you kindly shut up about that imaginary friend nonsense already?

      Cheers,

      b&

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    4. One can always argue by rejecting particular premises, but one can also argue by showing that particular premises do not lead to a desired conclusion, or are mutually contradictory.

      Have you ever heard a sophisticated Christian argue that their omnipotent, kind, loving, god MUST create a world where evil can't exist?

      If they ever made such an argument then all you would have to do is point to the existence of something evil where you can both agree on the definition of evil.

      Then you can sit back and say you have tripped them up and their conclusion does not follow from their premises.

      The premise that god allows evil to exist for reasons we can't understand is simply incompatible with the premise that we know he's kind and loving.

      Why? I can think of all kinds of reasons why a god could be kind and loving and yet evil exists. Maybe he has to complete with Satan, for example. Maybe he has a greater plan that we don't know about. Maybe he's busy elsewhere in the universe and doesn't have time for humans. Maybe his concept of evil is very different from ours.

      If you've already conceded that a kind, loving, omnipotent god could exist why should you object to additional layers to the fairy tale?

      On what basis can an atheist argue logically that he knows for certain how a kind, loving, omnipotent (imaginary) being should behave?

      Or just that certain arguments are more pointless than others?

      That one.

      If the latter, I don't see that you have demonstrated any such thing.

      I disagree. It's somewhat amusing to watch Christians engage in debates about evil but it's shocking to see atheists jump in. I'm pretty sure I've made some atheists think twice about using the argument form evil.

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    5. What are you expecting here? That we can convince people that their reasoning is flawed by refusing to engage with their ideas at all? Yes, we can take every religious discussion back to "Show me that god exists". And if we insist on doing so, we will quickly find that no religious person wants to talk to us about it at all. Which doesn't seem productive.

      So we have to work within their idiom. Of course no Christian admits that his theodicies don't work. Of course they can always retreat to God being mysterious. But engaging them in the discussion makes them have to think about it. Which is a good thing.

      Yes, it's a fairy tale. But they believe it. "Stop believing that" simply doesn't work. We know it doesn't work, because we've studied the cognitive biases that cause people to increase their commitment to an idea when told that it is wrong. Tell you what, try it your way. Let me know how many people you reach, how many arguments you win, with the "Your beliefs are just a fairy tale; abandon them" tactic.

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    6. Have you ever heard a sophisticated Christian argue that their omnipotent, kind, loving, god MUST create a world where evil can't exist?

      Of course not. You can't expect a proponent of some argument to point out its flaws; he needs help.

      Why? I can think of all kinds of reasons why a god could be kind and loving and yet evil exists. Maybe he has to complete with Satan, for example.

      Incompatible with the "omniscience" thing.

      Maybe he has a greater plan that we don't know about.

      This is incompatible with the premise that we can know he's good.

      Maybe he's busy elsewhere in the universe and doesn't have time for humans.

      Incompatible with the premise that he's omniscient and the premise that he loves us.

      Maybe his concept of evil is very different from ours.

      Then we shouldn't use the same term. If we change the meaning to fit his definition, then in order to make this work we have to say that under that concept we do indeed live in a world without evil. Once you go changing meanings arbitrarily, everything dissolves into mush.

      On what basis can an atheist argue logically that he knows for certain how a kind, loving, omnipotent (imaginary) being should behave?

      On the basis that these words all have meanings. If you want to redefine them, you have a different argument. If you want to eliminate their meanings, see previous bit about mush.

      I disagree.

      Then you presumably have in mind some argument that's better. What argument is that, and how is it less vulnerable to ad hoc inventions by theists? There is no evidence that god exists? No problem, my god is the sort that doesn't provide evidence of the type you will accept. I really don't see that the distinction you are trying to make actually exists.

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    7. ... we will quickly find that no religious person wants to talk to us about it at all.

      So where's the downside in this ?

      I thought that was the point.

      Who gives a shit what goes on inside the echo chamber of their minds, it's the injection of their deranged fantasies into the public marketplace of ideas that is the problem.

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  10. Larry,

    If there is no God, there is no evil, in the sense of objective evil existing independently of human opinion.

    "Evil" is a value, not a fact, in the Humean perspective. If there is no God, then only humans are the source of value judgements that something is "evil", and then evil is only an opinion.

    So if there is no God, then "evil" is really just billions of human opinions, and there is "no problem of evil" because evil isn't a thing. There is no more a "problem of evil" then there is a "problem of what flavor of ice cream is best". Your opinion, my opinion, Joe Schmo's opinion.

    You think the Holocaust was evil? Hitler begs to differ. Who's to say who's right?

    Atheism leads to a moral cul-de-sac.

    The genuine existence of evil--and evil genuinely exists-- proves the existence of a system of value that transcends human opinion.

    That system is from you-know-Who.

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    1. If there were a god, how would that make evil into something other than a value, something objective?

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    2. You seem sincere.

      So maybe you'd care to explain why "you-know-Who" never calls "9-1-1"...?

      b&

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    3. You know, the fact that religious people so vividly fantasize about all the really horrific shit they'd freely do if they stopped believing in their imaginary friends...well, it says an awful lot more about just how sick and twisted said religious people are than anything else.

      Sane people don't need to listen to the voices planted in their heads by the salesmen of the gods in order to be decent. We're not interested in making other people's lives miserable in the first place.

      If you really think you'd start killing people for the sake of a minor convenience if your gods aren't real...do yourself and the rest of society some good and tell that to a competent mental health professional right away, okay? There're ways to treat or at least cope with those sorts of ideation -- and, if they're bad enough, other means of making sure you don't act them out.

      Cheers,

      b&

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    4. While Larry believes the Problem of Evil is not a good argument against theism, Smegnor proves the opposite: that the Problem of Evil so completely disproves the existence of a benevolent, all-powerful god that no educated Christian has any counter-argument, not even after 2,000 years of trying!

      What's Smegnor's counter-argument to the Problem of Evil? Diversion. Trying to change the subject. Smegnor did not get withing a million miles of resolving the paradox. He wrote some absurd sentences with the word "evil" in them (by a different definition) as if *ANY sentences* with the word "evil" in them (by a different definition) was addressing the paradox!

      Let's return to the topic of this post.

      1. If there were an all-powerful god, he could achieve his objectives without restraints.

      2. If there were a benevolent god, his goal would be to prevent the suffering of the innocent.

      3. If there were a benevolent and all-powerful god, he would achieve without restraint his goal of preventing the suffering of the innocent.

      4. The suffering of the innocent is not prevented.

      5. Therefore, there is no benevolent and all-powerful god.

      Simple, right? If a set of premises lead to an absurd conclusion, then one or more of the premises must be false. Which one? The only one that can be challenged is the existence of a benevolent all-powerful god. Which other premise could be challenged?

      So what does Smegnor write to address the paradox? Or resolve it?

      "Squirrel!" Yes, he tries to divert us with some sentences with the word "evil" in them.

      Smegnor: "If there is no God, there is no evil, in the sense of objective evil existing independently of human opinion."

      This sentence is supported by no evidence; any attempt to support it with evidence winds up contradicting the premises of the Moral Argument; and it is irrelevant. It doesn't evil use the word "evil" by the same definition-- it employs equivocation because Smegnor switched to a different definition of "evil".

      The "evil" we were talking about was "innocent people get killed. Babies drown in tsunamis. School shooters kill schoolkids." The "evil" Smegnor switches to is "bad people intend to do harm." Smegnor brings up intent, whereas we were talking about effect, consequences.

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    5. You know, the fact that religious people so vividly fantasize about all the really horrific shit they'd freely do if they stopped believing in their imaginary friends...well, it says an awful lot more about just how sick and twisted said religious people are than anything else.

      Yes, indeed. To hear religious speak of how they (think) they would act in the absence of god... it is the best argument for not letting them know that their god(s) are imaginary.

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    6. Quest...would you please be so kind to explain why Jesus never calls 9-1-1?

      b&

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    7. If there is no God, there is no evil, in the sense of objective evil existing independently of human opinion.

      There is no evidence that evil is an objective phenomenon of that natural world, regardless of whether or not a god exists. Would you argue that the color red is a objective property of the world or simply the way certain wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation are represented in our mental models of that world?

      "Evil" is a value, not a fact, in the Humean perspective. If there is no God, then only humans are the source of value judgements that something is "evil", and then evil is only an opinion.

      By that argument, preferring not to be raped or murdered by a psychopath is "only an opinion", preferring that one's family and friends not suffer a similar fate is"only an opinion", preferring that millions are not exterminated in the name of ruthless religious beliefs or political ideologies is "only an opinion". But when you find the vast majority of the world's population are of petty much the same opinion then, in my opinion, the word "opinion" is hardly an adequate description for a judgement of that weight.

      So if there is no God, then "evil" is really just billions of human opinions, and there is "no problem of evil" because evil isn't a thing. There is no more a "problem of evil" then there is a "problem of what flavor of ice cream is best". Your opinion, my opinion, Joe Schmo's opinion.

      Now, you get it! Now tell us why those opinions shouldn't count.

      You think the Holocaust was evil? Hitler begs to differ. Who's to say who's right?

      The millions who died in the concentration camps? The majority of the world's population who went to war to put a stop to it? Who else do you think has a right to say it's wrong?

      Atheism leads to a moral cul-de-sac.

      No, using "It's God's will" to put an end to any debate about morality is a dead end.

      The genuine existence of evil--and evil genuinely exists-- proves the existence of a system of value that transcends human opinion.

      There is no doubt people do evil things but positing an objective force of evil looks too much like a way of trying to avoid personal responsibility. It's too much like movies such as The Omen or The Exorcist where people are portrayed as possessed by demons or evil spirits. They are not responsible, just helpless puppets of the irresistible forces that have taken control of them. It's a cop-out.

      That system is from you-know-Who.

      You mean The Doctor? Alright, I'm pretty sure I know who your you-know-Who is, but what about all the other you-know-Whos that other people believe in? Who is to say whose Who is the right Who?

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  11. I suppose it depends on your purpose in talking to believers. If you have no interest in the fact that they believe a fairy tale then, indeed, why talk to them at all? That's not an unreasonable response given the likely payoff. If, on the other hand, you have some kind of interest in persuading them to abandon the fairy tale, then you're talking about rhetoric and psychology as much as logic. Abandoning a religious worldview is painful for a lot of people, and I think they only tend to do it when the pain of the cognitive dissonance exceeds the pain of changing world views. Cognitive dissonance comes in many flavors. I have bothered some of my believing friends merely by confidently claiming that "No God can beat me at tic-tac-toe". It’s a banal statement, but it bothers them because it brings two ideas into sharp conflict: that tic-tac-toe is unwinnable (something they can understand viscerally is true) and that “God can do anything”. Of course they don’t just fall over and become atheists on the spot, and my claim wouldn’t prove anything about the possible existence or nature of God in any case. But they do experience heightened cognitive dissonance, and I think that is as, or possibly more, important than the actual philosophy behind any argument.

    Theodicy has the same effect. If believers were really completely satisfied with the reasons X,Y,Z they give then it might indeed be a waste of time to bring it up. In my experience, though, most believers are bothered somewhat with the hard to reconcile properties of God (what Borges calls “an unimaginable chaos of superlatives”). Most children growing up in a religious household will at some point question how God can be good and powerful and there be so much pain. It’s an obvious question. God will protect you, they are told. Then, they wonder, why are you so worried about me walking home from school alone? God will be with me! What they learn when they ask such questions is not the really excellent additions X,Y,Z to the fictional narrative that plugs these plot holes to everyone’s satisfaction, but rather that the question itself is rather frowned upon (and going so far as to actually describe God as bad because of the mess of the world is right out taboo). Most believers have thus learned to sweep these unpleasant thoughts under the rug. Few Christians are aware of eye eating worms or a range of other natural horrors, or in fact many of the more horrid things in their own Bible. That is not by accident. The atheist role in theodicy, if one has an aim to help them out of the delusion, is to affirm their child-self who, for a brief moment, thought it all sounded like bollox before they learned not to even think about it (or not really). The atheist service to believers here is to break the taboo, because it isn’t taboo to the atheist, and make the unthinkable thinkable. The goal of a Ben Goren 9-1-1 thought experiment or a Ben Fry light into God’s character (where “God” here is the character religious people describe) is not to prove something about the nature of this fictional character, but to connect with the skepticism that people naturally have but are taught to repress. It is, in short, not to be (yet another) an enabler for the fairy tale.

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    1. Yes, exactly.

      Never underestimate the power of cognitive dissonance. It's frequently all that's necessary to explain somebody's beliefs and choice of behavior.

      If the gods are said to be the ultimate in power and love and the source of all morality...how could it possibly be that the least amongst us, the very children, effortlessly and constantly put the gods to shame?

      If one little old lady easily survives an heart attack because her young granddaughter, visiting after school, had the ability, knowledge, and lovingkindness to call 9-1-1, what's Jesus's excuse for not calling 9-1-1 for the other little old lady who had her heart attack in the middle of the school day?

      I'm sure some sophisticated theologian can make up all sorts of bafflegab to excuse Jesus...but at what cost?

      It's not like we're asking anything difficult or morally ambiguous, here. It's just a phone call -- and not even the normal full set of digits to dial!

      b&

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    2. My family are all Christians. I was raised to be one myself, but somehow escaped the delusion. I want to talk to them about it because I love them. They don’t care about evidence of God. They know for certain that He exists because they feel it in their hearts to be true. The argument can’t even begin. People are going to choose emotion over logic. They will, however, discuss theology, so I am certainly going to engage with them there. Will I lose the argument? Sure, but at least I get to have one. Yet, it’s not about winning and losing, it’s about nurturing the seeds of doubt. It’s about turning a fundamentalist into a progressive. Believing that the Bible is the Word of God leaves them stranded in a dark pit. I would much rather have them see it as just an old book, and to understand that they can make up their own minds about what is right and wrong.

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  12. I assume this is about Jason Rosenhouse? I think I understand where he is coming from better. The Christian postulates a god that is (1) the creator of our universe, (2) omnipotent and (3) not only good but actually omnibenevolent, goodness personified. Raising the Problem of Evil is nothing more but pointing out the contradiction between #1 on one side and #2 and #3 on the other; it is thus merely one way of saying that the Christian god cannot exist. End of story.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Alex, you reasoning would make sense, if you ignore some central parts of Christian teachings such as e.g evil not being a quality on its own but the absence of good and how evil in the world is the result of man, having a free will, making a choice to turn away from God who is the essence of good.
      I think when criticizing a philosophy it is good to at least have some basic knowledge of it.

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    3. I think when criticizing a philosophy it is good to at least have some basic knowledge of it.

      Well, I wouldn't call it "philosophy" but I agree with the sentiment.

      In order to debate the argument from evil you have to delve into more than a thousand years of Christian apologetics and theodicy. Why in the world would an atheist want to get down in the mud like that when there are no gods to begin with? Not to mention the fact that you can't win because Christians can make up whatever fairly tales they want about their own gods.

      They abandon logic with the first premise, and so do atheists who accept it.

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    4. Isaiah 45:7.

      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

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    5. Larry, wrote: "Well, I wouldn't call it "philosophy" but I agree with the sentiment."
      Well, I'm glad we can agree on something...and for the record I mostly enjoy reading your posts.

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    6. TWT, The context of Isaiah 45:7 makes it clear that something other than “bringing moral evil into existence” is in mind. The context of Isaiah 45:7 is God rewarding Israel for obedience and punishing Israel for disobedience. Other translations use other words than evil such as: "calamity" or "disaster". God's judgement is always seen as being just.
      This is at least the second time that you have quoted Isaiah to me. Is he a personal favorite of yours?

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    7. LM,
      Well, then what you are saying is just that it doesn't make sense to argue with people who are unreasonable. That is clearly true, but I am glad to see that you are not ceasing to point out the indefensibility of creationism either. What is so different about trying to hash out aspects of theism beyond the argument from design?

      AW,
      Strangely I seem to be running into a lot of Thomists lately. Sadly, that means that I am not as innocently ignorant of that 'philosophy' as you think:

      (1) Your particular school of theology believing that evil is not a quality of its own does not make that belief a "central part of Christian teaching". There are many other sects of Christianity, and I am sure that less than a few percent of Catholics even are acquainted with the finer points of Thomist doctrine. Nor does one sect of Christianity teaching a certain concept of evil make that concept automatically logical or true.

      (2) The PoE can be trivially solved, of course, by giving up one of the three traits of god I mentioned above. It seems as if Christians today are most strongly committed to creationism and god's goodness because what they generally do is give up omnipotence.

      That is also your solution. If god was unable to create humans that always freely choose good then he is not omnipotent in any meaningful sense. After all, we are not talking about logical impossibility here, just about making sure that the product of one's work is up to specs. Again, I realise that that is a possible solution to the PoE, just be aware that incompetence makes god considerably less worthy of adulation.

      I still think the simpler solution is to give up benevolence - that would also fit the character of god as described in the bible. I will now avoid going into how the kind of free will that would be necessary for that argument to make sense in the first place is incoherent anyway, but the point is simply this: The buck stops at the creator.

      If you create a bunch of robots and, because you want them to make their own decisions, you install a switch that will cause some percentage of them to go on a killing spree in the nearby village, the community would reasonably not accept your defence that it was the robots who decided to kill. You built them, you foresaw that this was a likely outcome in at least some of them, you are responsible for what happens afterwards. This is analogous to a god character who is indifferent towards the suffering and damage caused by his creations.

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    8. Alex, first, the doctrine that evil is the absence of good goes back to the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo so it's hardly the idea of some Christian sect or cult.
      Second, if you want to dig deeper about what is and what isn't possible for a omnipotent God, you could always read Alvin Plantinga. Plantinga's argument is that "It is possible that God, even being omnipotent, could not create a world with free creatures who never choose evil. Furthermore, it is possible that God, even being omnibenevolent, would desire to create a world which contains evil if moral goodness requires free moral creatures."

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    9. Andy, the text of Isaiah 45:7 (and many other verses in the bible) makes it clear that, according to the bible, the so-called biblical 'God' is the creator of evil and is not omnibenevolent. Your statement about "God rewarding Israel for obedience and punishing Israel for disobedience" is also revealing of the so-called biblical 'God's' lack of omnibenevolence.

      You're just doing what Larry pointed out about making up fairy tales. You and all other christians interpret and modify what the bible says to suit your own narcissistic self-righteousness. I disagree with Larry on having to delve into more than a thousand years of Christian apologetics and theodicy. To me it's as simple as how Alex SL put it:

      "The Christian postulates a god that is (1) the creator of our universe, (2) omnipotent and (3) not only good but actually omnibenevolent, goodness personified. Raising the Problem of Evil is nothing more but pointing out the contradiction between #1 on one side and #2 and #3 on the other; it is thus merely one way of saying that the Christian god cannot exist. End of story."

      The bible is full of contradictory, sadistic, masochistic, horrible, impossible crap. The biblical 'God' is one of the most ridiculous and horrible so-called 'Gods' that anyone has ever imagined, worshiped, and promoted.

      "God's judgement is always seen as being just."

      So, you call it "just" to dash babies against rocks, slaughter men, women and children (and their livestock), kill huge numbers of people with plagues, and wipe out every living thing on Earth (except for 8 people and a boatload of animals) with a worldwide flood, eh? And that horrible crap is only a few of the atrocities that 'God' allowed and/or created and/or commanded according to the bible. Anyone who believes and asserts that the biblical 'God' is "just" needs their head examined.

      I do mostly agree with Larry when he says that "you can't win because Christians can make up whatever fairly tales they want about their own gods". I said mostly because some christians are persuaded by rational arguments to discard their religious beliefs, and some people are persuaded by rational arguments to avoid christian beliefs (or other religious beliefs) in the first place.

      And no, Isaiah is not a personal favorite of mine. I remembered reading something in the bible about 'God' creating evil, so I looked it up.

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    10. TWT you keep repeating the same misconceptions that I have already responded to in previous posts. I don't really see the point of reiterating what has already been discussed. It's Saturday afternoon in my time zone and I have other plans.

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    11. In other words, Andy, you're determined to keep and promote your irrational, horrible beliefs.

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    12. What a perfect example of what Larry is talking about: The whole truth provides a direct quote from The Bilbe in which God explicitly says "I create evil. Yet Andy Wilberforce, who believes in the absolute truth of the Bible, nonetheless argues that this does not mean God creates evil. How does one argue with people whose version of "thinking" operates in such a manner?

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    13. ...and, in order to counter Andy Wilberforce's claim, it is necessary to be intimately acquainted with the writing of St. Augustine of Hippo. My eyes are already glazing over just at the sound of his name.

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    14. Hey Andy,

      How is it possible to have an adult conversation when nonsense like what is and what isn't possible for a omnipotent God and God, even being omnipotent, could not create a world ... stream out of you consciousness ?

      I know that xtianity has a long tradition of subverting the meaning of commonly used words like belief, faith, theory and so on but even you should be able to come out of your religious fugue state long enough to appreciate just how ridiculous your babblings are.

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    15. Yes, I already noticed that Plantinga, like many Christian apologists, does not seem to understand the meaning of the word 'omnipotent'. But no matter; you can believe that a god that is incapable of creating a better world than the current one is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. You can also believe that the sky is a yellow and purple chequerboard pattern. It's just not going to convince anybody who isn't a priori committed to that belief.

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    16. Alex, I would actually be surprised if anyone went from being an atheist to a Christian after just reading Plantinga. You're the one bringing up the arguments and Plantinga has spent time thinking about them, that's why I referred you to him.
      I'm always surprised by what atheists get stuck on in the Christian beliefs. Virgin birth, really? We're talking about God! As a minimal claim he would at least be the creator of the universe.
      Same goes for: omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient. Sure, I believe that God has all those qualities, but say for the sake of argument that you were able to prove beyond any doubt that he's not really omnipotent in the strict meaning of the word. What would that change? He would still be more powerful than anything we could imagine, just by being the Creator of everything.
      I think that all who want to find God can. It's not a big mystery, literally billions of people have done it before. Start with Luke 11:9.

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    17. Hey Andy,

      I would be actually surprised if anyone didn't gouge their eyeballs out with a rusty fish knife after reading Plantinga,

      The only reason atheists "get stuck on in the Christian beliefs" is that you will never, ever shut the fuck up about them.

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    18. Andy, as I said before, you and all other christians interpret and modify what the bible says to suit your own narcissistic self-righteousness.

      Your appeals to authority (e.g. the Hippo guy and Plantinga) just further demonstrates that your religious beliefs (and christianity overall) are based on authority (exerting it and/or fearing/worshiping it). You apparently like being subservient to an imaginary, bipolar sky daddy and using that imaginary, bipolar sky daddy as a weapon to exert authority on others (while trying to convince them that sky daddy is a super duper nice guy) but a lot of people don't need or want such a crutch and weapon.

      Literally billions of people never did and do not believe in your chosen, so-called 'God' and 'holy book', and if it weren't for fear mongering intimidation and manipulation by christian authoritarians, the number of christians would be a lot smaller or non-existent. The same things apply to other religions.

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    19. I want to add that religious authoritarians have used and do use violence, murders, wars/conquests, rape, and slavery (in various forms) to control and expand their domain.

      On another note, Andy, you said:

      "Same goes for: omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient. Sure, I believe that God has all those qualities, but say for the sake of argument that you were able to prove beyond any doubt that he's not really omnipotent in the strict meaning of the word. What would that change? He would still be more powerful than anything we could imagine, just by being the Creator of everything."

      Well, if you or someone else were to merely suggest that it's possible that some entity created the universe, and leave it at that, I don't think there would be much opposition, but when you or others try to 'wedge' ridiculous stories about a so-called 'God' into science, education, politics/laws, and even the sexual activities of consenting adults, you're going to run into resistance from people who can see that such religious nonsense is just a crutch and a weapon.

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    20. And Andy, even if the correct translation of Isaiah 45:7 were "calamity" or "disaster", your chosen, so-called 'God' still wouldn't be omnibenevolent or even a nice guy.

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    21. They abandon logic with the first premise, and so do atheists who accept it.

      Its why I kind of like the term Ignostic.

      From Wikipedia: Ignosticism is the view that any religious term or theological concept presented must be accompanied by a coherent definition. Without a clear definition such terms cannot be meaningfully discussed. Such terms or concepts must also be falsifiable.

      Well, I don't know that the last sentence is required, but the first part is useful since in theological matters, consistent and coherent definitions regarding the subject matter (the notion of god itself, for example) are never provided. It is ever-shifting sand.

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    22. I think the Problem of Bad Shit Happening is much more expansive than the old Problem of Evil. Why do cute little puppies die from cancer? Because God wants to incorporate free will in the process of DNA replication?

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    23. Second, if you want to dig deeper about what is and what isn't possible for a omnipotent God, you could always read Alvin Plantinga.

      And there you have it. If those problems were "solved," then Christians would have no need for further "philosophers" trying so hard to "build" upon "tradition" to re-exlain, and redefine, and refine, and reinterpret, and twist-over-backwards what their previous counterparts made up before them.

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    24. I think the Problem of Bad Shit Happening is much more expansive than the old Problem of Evil. Why do cute little puppies die from cancer? Because God wants to incorporate free will in the process of DNA replication?

      You owe me a coffee and a keyboard.

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  13. Andy,

    No other Christian I've ever met, including those participating in this thread, has ever been willing to discuss why Jesus never calls 9-1-1.

    Would you like to give it a shot, or would you rather confirm that it's Kristian Cryptonite?

    And if you Christians daren't go near such a simple question as that one, why do you bother to pretend that Jesus has any sort of superpowers, let alone ultimate ones?

    b&

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    1. Jesus is Jewish and the emergency phone number in Israel is 1-0-2.

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    2. Of course! Why didn't I think of that!

      Jesus has a GSM phone and hasn't yet figured out how to get it registered on a CDMA network!

      b&

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    3. I'm pretty sure that Jews call the emergency numbers that work wherever they happen to be, not just the one that works in Israel. Unless they're Orthodox.

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    4. if Jesus was Jewish, then why does he have a Puerto Rican name?

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    5. Jesus is also a name elsewhere in Latin America. In the 1500s quite a few Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition by going westward to Mexico or the Caribbean. There are fascinating cases of families in New Mexico who, up to this century, maintained some Jewish practices, often without knowing why.

      There were also Jews who fled to the Caribbean, hated Spain, and got into trade, owning ships. And ended up preying on Spanish commerce on behalf of Spain's enemies. What seemed like a book with an off-the-wall title, Jewish Pirates of the Carribean was a surprising and plausible read.

      Not sure which emergency numbers these Jesuses would call.

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  14. @Ben Goren? Quest...would you please be so kind to explain why Jesus never calls 9-1-1?


    May 1 answer this stupid question?

    Because according the prophecies Jesus must die as a ransom for you and many others.

    Atheist... sigh...

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    1. You're not understanding the question. He's not supposed to be calling 9-1-1 for himself. He's supposed to be calling it for other people, as a minimal gesture to help those in trouble and so demonstrate his benevolence and power.

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    2. Erm...Topgoosz...I'm a bit confused.

      Are you trying to say that Jesus is too busy planning his holiday vacation to be able to take a moment to let somebody know that Father O'Mgawd is raping little Susie in the church basement and that Timmy fell down the well again?

      Is his schedule really that busy that he can't even make a simple phone call that any decent human would be horrified not to make?

      b&

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    3. Because according the prophecies Jesus must die as a ransom for you and many others.

      Some omnipotent god to contrive such a solution. This story is so ridiculous, one wonders if it is a concoction of mythologically-minded humans rather than an all-powerful, all-knowing grand designer and creator of the universe. ahem.

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    4. Is his schedule really that busy that he can't even make a simple phone call that any decent human would be horrified not to make?

      He IS a pretty busy guy.

      He may be omnipotent but that doesn't mean he's a micro-manager.

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    5. Well he does have all those anger management issues.

      What with the therapy and all it's a wonder he has time to do accomplish anything.

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    6. @SRM God is simply creating a precedent. You know what a precedent means huh? Jesus is the thread through the whole OT. More then 300 prophecies fullfilled by Jesus, even his death, when, where and why.

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    7. Hey Topgoosz,

      So you are agreeing with SRM that it is all just made up human bullshit ?

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    8. Being omnipotent-having unlimited power and actually using it without limits all the time are two different things. Some Christian religions and many others believe that after the first sin mankind has been given a chance to prove that they can run the world without God's intervention. If anything, this rhetoric proves that God is not omnipotent or doesn't use his unlimited power for some reason. Nothing else. It doesn't prove his nonexistence.

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    9. Hey Johnny,

      That's not the point.

      Being omnipotent means there are no limits to ones power, not that one uses it "without limits all the time".

      What some xtian apologists say is gibberish like what is and what isn't possible for a omnipotent God and God, even being omnipotent, could not create a world, straddling the ontological fence in an attempt to square the circle of a god who is both benevolent and all powerful.

      Words have meanings and it's just bad manners to subvert their meanings in an attempt to divert the argument when backed into a corner.

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    10. I don't think you made your point Steve. Try again.

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    11. Topgoosz, Is God and Jesus the same person to you or not? You use those names interchangeably.

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    12. How'm I supposed to dial when I'm nailed to this damn hunk of wood?!

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    13. @Johnny
      Topgoosz, Is God and Jesus the same person to you or not? You use those names interchangeably.


      No, i don't believe they are the same.

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    14. @Hey Topgoosz,

      So you are agreeing with SRM that it is all just made up human bullshit ?

      Do you mean human bullshit as prophesize by the bible such as the theory of evolution?

      Romans:1 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

      22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

      23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

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    15. Hey Topgoosz,

      I'll take that for an unqualified and enthusiastic yes.

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    16. @Steve In case of evolution theory? There's a lot more if you are interested..

      23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.


      What's your first thought about this prophecy?

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    17. I think that you are a sad, pathetic and deluded fool who has never accomplished anything meaningful in your life and finds it easier to tear down the work of those who actually make real contributions to increasing our understanding of reality than to make any useful contribution of your own.

      Your ethics and morality are informed by disgusting goat herder snuff porn and as such your are not fit to be an adult member of a secular democracy.

      You are a parasite who greedily consumes all the wonders that evidence based rational thinking has bestowed on our global civilization while contributing nothing useful and in fact are attempting to decrease human well being with your deranged adherence to primitive mythology.

      You are irresponsible, immature and irrational and your perverse ideas need to be refuted at every opportunity.

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    18. Wow, stumped and frustrated...

      23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.


      What's your first thought about this prophecy?

      Answer steve, what's your first thought about this prophecy?

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    19. steve oberski
      I think that you are a sad, pathetic and deluded fool who has never accomplished anything meaningful in your life and finds it easier to tear down the work of those who actually make real contributions to increasing our understanding of reality than to make any useful contribution of your own.

      Your ethics and morality are informed by disgusting goat herder snuff porn and as such your are not fit to be an adult member of a secular democracy.

      You are a parasite who greedily consumes all the wonders that evidence based rational thinking has bestowed on our global civilization while contributing nothing useful and in fact are attempting to decrease human well being with your deranged adherence to primitive mythology.

      You are irresponsible, immature and irrational and your perverse ideas need to be refuted at every opportunity.


      A very mature reply steve...

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    20. @Quest- Oh, don't worry, i love to see such guys helpless and frustrated.

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    21. 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.


      What's your first thought about this prophecy?


      You must have a very peculiar idea of what constitutes a "prophecy."

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    22. Really? How would you explains this, written down more then 2000 years ago? What's your first thought when you read this... hint... the fake-scientist Darwin.

      If i'm insulting your prophet, please let me know.

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    23. "23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things."


      What's your first thought about this prophecy?

      Answer steve, what's your first thought about this prophecy?


      Not Steve, but my first thought is that some similar language in the Quran must be why ISIS is running around with sledgehammers smashing priceless antiquities that unfortunately happen to be "image[s] made like to corruptible man."

      When you unhook yourself from reality, no telling where the crazy will stop.

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    24. I don't believe in the Quran. And you know what, they have a lot of simmilarities with the theory of evolution promoting a lie like i'ts the absolute truth based on JUST SO STORIES.
      Believe me, i know what i'm talking about. I debate them alot.

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    25. Really? How would you explains this, written down more then 2000 years ago? What's your first thought when you read this... hint... the fake-scientist Darwin.

      It's obviously a reference to the pre-Christian religions that worshiped idols in the forms of humans or other animals. You think it was a reference to Darwin? That's really funny.

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    26. Topboosz, Are you a believer of the the Adam and Eve sin in paradise who were seduced by a talking snake-Satan?

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    27. Believe me, i know what i'm talking about. I debate them alot.

      It's interesting, isn't it, how blatantly obvious the absurdity of religion becomes, when you're looking at someone else's religion.

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    28. Lutesuite--It's interesting, isn't it, how blatantly obvious the absurdity of religion becomes, when you're looking at someone else's religion.


      It's all about knowledge en honesty. Immerse yourself in it first and then draw your conclusions.. The quran a onemans book. Compare it with the history of the bible written over a period of more then 2000 years.
      A book about history hidin nothing of their mistakes, obedience, punishments, just name it, chosen by God to protect the line to Messiah, to fullfill every spoken and written prophecie untill now. It's one big mess now in the world. And we are debating the false religion of Darwin? Evolution theory is none of importance. It's useless. It leads to nothing. Worthless, a waste of time..

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    29. Johnny
      Topboosz, Are you a believer of the the Adam and Eve sin in paradise who were seduced by a talking snake-Satan?


      Off-course. But don't confuse the snake with satan. The snake is a symbol of satan. Real snakes don't talk.

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    30. So satan talked and Adam and Eve couldn't tell that it wasn't the snake?

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    31. What do you think? They think about that? Children believe Mickey Mouse can talk. For clear reasons satan choose the woman to seduced her and she believed him. Completely deceived by the serpent and with a strong desire for the prospects tied up with eating the forbidden fruit, she became a transgressor of God’s law. As such, she now approached her husband and induced him to join her in disobedience to God. Adam listened to his wife’s voice.

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    32. I've made this fruit. No, don't eat it. Why? It's a test. Testing what? A test to see if you can resist eating this fruit I've told you not to eat. Right, I'm going to turn my back. If you eat it, there'll be trouble, not just for you, but for all this other stuff I've made. It'll turn bad. Probably ... HEY,WHERE'S MY F***ING FRUIT?

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    33. Allan Miller-

      A test? Do you really think it was a test? They got everything galore, they lack nothing. A test? Cmon.

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    34. Hey Topgoosz,, So Adam and Eve were fooled by Satan into eating the forbidden apple. Weren't they supposed to perfect? How could they fall for such a trick? Satan spoke and they thought it was a snake? Something doesn't add up here. Did Satan sin too or was he just a tool?

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    35. Johnny, are you really that dumb? Ever heard of free will? Do you know Johnny 5? Even satan was perfect untill he decided to disobey his creator. If you talking about absolute perfect, only God is perfect. As human, they were create perfect. Perfect human with the abillity to disobey. Unless you think God create them as robots without a free will.

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    36. So... Adam and Eve knew what the consequences of their sin would be. Right? The question is did Satan know what the consequences of his sin would be?

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    37. A test? Do you really think it was a test?

      No, I think it was a story. A story for kids. Some deity creates a garden with some fruit in it that causes perpetual damnation for the whole of Creation when eaten? What a frigging genius.

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    38. Offcourse they know that. They saw animals died around them. And what do you think. Satan was not subject to Gods laws? And don't think satan was the only. Many angels chooses his side and decide to disobey Gods commands with the knowledge once they gonna destroyed by God. As the bible said. Before satan, lie even don't exist, satan is called the father of the lie. The father, or originator.
      Why God don't destroyed them instantly? That's easy to explain. It's all about a precedent. God is crating a precedent. After that He just have to point at that precedent..

      Goodnight. It's very late in Amsterdam.

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    39. Allan Miller No, I think it was a story. A story for kids. Some deity creates a garden with some fruit in it that causes perpetual damnation for the whole of Creation when eaten? What a frigging genius


      That's exactly what satan want's you to think. His biggest achievement is make humanity believes he don't exist.

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    40. So Satan and other angels knew that if they break God's law, just like Adam and Eve, the consequences of their breaking the law eventually will be death. Right?
      Here is why I think your story doesn't wash. Satan and many angels all of the sudden became suicidal. Spirit creatures who were supposed to be wiser and smarter than Adam and Eve one day decided to commit a mass suicide with a delayed fuse. They knew exactly what they were doing unlike Adam and Eve who were tricked by Satan with the talking snake. So unless someone else tricked Satan and many angels by a talking garden-hose or a fire hose, I think your story doesn’t hold.

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    41. Johnny,

      This is an excellent and thought provoking question. However, there are details of the rebellion against God by Satan and other angels that later joined him that are not immediately clear.
      In short, Satan may thought that he'd found a "loophole" in God's "plan “for the Earth.

      Satan may have reasoned that if he could get Adam and Eve to listen to him rather than to God, then God would be forced to tolerate a rival sovereignty (autonomy). He may have figured that God would not execute them, for that would spell failure for God’s purpose for the Earth and mankind.

      Rather, Jehovah God would have to modify his purpose, accepting the position of this spirit son whom His human creation would now be obeying.

      Satan however overestimated his ambition and God’s ability to purpose rather than plan. Jehovah God only delayed the fulfillment of his purposes and allowed Satan, his demons and mankind to govern themselves under Satan’s ruling long enough for everyone to experience firsthand the consequences of the rebellion and Satan and his demons’ rule over the Earth.

      Today, it is the inevitable truth that Satan’s rulership has failed in every possible way and the prevalence of evil solidifies that failure.

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    42. Newbie,
      "Satan however overestimated his ambition and God’s ability to purpose rather than plan." I fail to see the difference.
      Since God is all-knowing, why did he allow that? Isn't that his fault then?

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    43. Hey Newbie,

      When you aren't murdering your children by denying them life saving blood transfusions you are sexually abusing them.

      If nothing else, this makes you very well qualified to pontificate on the problem of evil.

      A San Diego judge has found that the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witness church covered up years of sexual abuse by a local church leader and continued to put children in danger of being molested, a ruling likely to echo across the country as alleged victims from other congregations take similar cases to court.

      The church’s hierarchal body, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, was ordered Wednesday to pay Jose Lopez $13.5 million in damages for the abuse he suffered in 1986 at the age of 7 as part of the church’s Linda Vista Spanish congregation.


      http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/31/jehovahs-witness-sex-abuse-judgment-lopez/

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    44. Real snakes don't talk.

      Of course not. That would be as illogical as a virgin birth.

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  15. @Ben Goren ever heard of throw of... Matthew 7:6
    "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs?

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    Replies
    1. As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. Proverbs 26:11

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  16. I'm agnostic but I have been wondering about who and why maybe hiding behind quest's avatar . To me being new to the blog and not really being active I begin to see some attempts by quest to hide or disguise his real identity. I my be wrong but to me someone here possibly Larry passed him off in the early stages of the forum and was effected by it or what he stands for

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    1. Quest has been given the heave ho on this blog and any comments he posts will be removed by our host. Good riddance to bad medicine.

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    2. I know. I'm just curious why he still continues to comment here?

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    3. I know. I'm just curious why he still continues to comment here?

      It's just like The Problem of Evil, isn't it? Larry has the power to remove Quest from the blog, yet Quest's posts continue to appear.

      Uh oh. Have I just proven that Larry doesn't exist?

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    4. If Quest did not exist it would be necessary to to invent him.

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  17. @steve oberskiSunday
    As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. Proverbs 26:11

    That's a good one!

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  18. @Laurence Moran

    At the moment Jesus is certainly very busy with things to do with judgment-day.
    Jesus does not deal with old people who have already made ​​their choice, which in fact have to go a few more years .

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    1. He's very busy, watching you... and many others untill God command him to do his Job.

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  19. Topgoosz, what if Jesus wasn't watching? What would you do? Say you've got 24 hours free from Holyland Security Surveillance - what do you do to let your hair down?

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    1. Hank, I'm afraid you have misunderstood the message. Becoming a Christian is to accept freedom. John 3:16-18: "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. 18"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God"

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    2. Freedom?

      Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.- Jesus in Matthew 10:34, 10:35, and 10:36

      But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. -Jesus in Luke 19:27

      Leviticus 24: 10 Now an Israelite woman's son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman's son and a man of Israel fought in the camp, 11 and the Israelite woman's son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. 12 And they put him in custody, till the will of the Lord should be clear to them.13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

      Leviticus 25: 44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. 45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property.

      Titus 2: 9 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

      Colossians 3: 22 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

      Luke 12: 4 (jesus said): I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.

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    3. TWT wrote "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. -Jesus in Luke 19:27"

      That's low even by your standards...totally out of context and very obviously so.

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    4. Yes TWT, you should have mentioned that the context of Luke 19:27 is that it's OK to own slaves.

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    5. Out of context, Andy?

      http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/23932/what-does-bring-them-here-and-kill-them-in-front-of-me-in-luke-1927-mean

      Oh, and speaking of context, in regard to freedom or lack thereof and judgement or lack thereof, you are conveniently ignoring this part of John 3:18

      "...he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God"

      Andy, the bible is packed with judgement, demands, fear, punishment, threats, slavery, rape, oppression, murder, genocide, ecoside, 'holy' conquests/wars, plagues, destruction, etc., 'in the name of', allowed by, commanded by, and/or done by its so-called 'God'.

      Oh sure, you can come back with some very selective things from the bible that make it sound like yhwh, jesus, and the holy ghost are nicey nice guys, but without demands, threats, fear, and judgement, the bible (and 'Christianity') wouldn't exist, and nothing in the bible that can be described as 'good' makes up for any or all of the horrible crap in it. When it comes to overall "context" the bible is one of the most despicable, mashed together collections of fairy tales ever imagined, promoted and/or forced on people.

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    6. TWT, you have clearly demonstrated that you willfully are finding ways to misinterpret separate passages and the bible as a whole, so there really is no point trying to correct you.

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  20. Hey Andy, your imaginary, so-called 'God' doesn't exist, and the bible is atrocious crap, but just so that you can show that I'm willfully misinterpreting passages and the bible as a whole, maybe you'd like to 'correctly' interpret and explain the passages below, and don't forget to explain why the livestock must be destroyed. Are the livestock evil? Can livestock be evil?

    Do you believe that I and everyone else who doesn't believe in the biblical "God' should be destroyed? Have you ever destroyed anyone (and their livestock) who doesn't believe in the biblical 'God'?

    6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

    12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely,[b] both its people and its livestock. 16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt, 17 and none of the condemned things[c] are to be found in your hands. Then the Lord will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors— 18 because you obey the Lord your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes.

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    By the way, Andy, even though there was no exodus from Egypt ("the land of slavery") as described in the bible and the story is ridiculous, maybe you could explain why it was/is not okay for Egyptians to enslave people but is was/is okay for Israelites to enslave people? Maybe you could also explain why it's okay for your imaginary, so-called 'God' to enslave people? After all, demanding absolute obedience, 'love', and worship via a long list of horrible threats and acts is enslavement.

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