Author Topic: The Christian God needs a lesson in strategic planning or he doesn't exist  (Read 13371 times)

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Offline Former Believer

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One of the strongest arguments against the Christian God is the "argument from hiddenness".  If God allegedly loves us, wants us to believe in him, wants to redeem us, wants to have a relationship with us, and wants us to follow his commands, the fact that he is invisible, unverifiable, and uncommunicative (other than a hodgepodge of ancient texts and subjective internal voices) is illogical and a strong indictment against his existence.

There is no need for anyone not to be a believer.  There is no need for any religion to exist other than Christianity.  There is no need for the myriad of sects, denominations, subdenominations, and "cults" to exist either.  There is no need for any disagreements among Christians regarding any doctrine.  If God communicated clearly, no one would be confused about anything whatsoever.

Christians often argue that if the reality of God were perfectly clear it would take away our free will.  This is a peculiar and bogus argument.  Were the reality of God clear, it would only provide a sound basis for people deciding whether or not to follow the Christian God.  They still could reject or accept him. 

As a side note, think about the horrible strategy that God chose to reveal his plan of salvation to the world.  He chose a small group of men with no form of modern communications or travel and limited knowledge of the planet's geography to disseminate the most important message of all time to the world's inhabitants.  Does this really make sense?
Faith unsubstaniated by the facts equal foolishness

Online One Above All

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Re: The Christian God needs a lesson in strategic planning or he doesn't exist
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2011, 09:22:57 AM »
As a side note, think about the horrible strategy that God chose to reveal his plan of salvation to the world.  He chose a small group of men with no form of modern communications or travel and limited knowledge of the planet's geography to disseminate the most important message of all time to the world's inhabitants.  Does this really make sense?

Hey, it's the christian god. He's an asshole
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Offline plethora

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Re: The Christian God needs a lesson in strategic planning or he doesn't exist
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 09:23:37 AM »
Things is ... according to the bible... god had no trouble at all revealing himself in clear and bold ways to those middle eastern tribes thousands of years ago.

From plagues, to floods, to parting seas ... then jebus with all his miracles ... not to mention rising from the dead along with hundreds of other zombies at the time...

... now all of a sudden he needs to remain hidden to preserve our "free will"? So he took away Moses' free will when he laser-zapped the commandments onto the tablets which, conventiently, have disappeared into history? ... and jebus took away that blind man's free will when he restored his vision? What about the hundreds that supposedly saw him rise to heaven?

The "argument from hiddenness" is just a work-around to justify belief in a god without actually being able to verify his existence in an age where science can actually determine whether something is true or not.

Bullcrap upon bullshite ...
« Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 09:25:29 AM by plethora »
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Re: The Christian God needs a lesson in strategic planning or he doesn't exist
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 10:07:30 AM »
I think the thing that bothers me the most about this argument is a sort of fallacy - let's call it argumentum ad mysterium.  It's one of the things that ended up driving me out of the faith, actually.

Faith is perceived as a virtue - so much so that 'misguided faith' (e.g., faith in a god that isn't Christian) is viewed as better than no faith at all, though still wrong.  The virtuous faith so extolled actually requires, in no uncertain terms, that there be no evidence; the bible even flat-out says so!

Quote
NIV, John 20:

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
   But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


Unexamined faith, 'childlike' faith, is viewed as a highly desireable trait.

Alright, fine - but doesn't 'Free Will' require an exercise of reason?   If 'god' wishes us to choose him of our own accord, when presented with the testament and the priest, the sermon and the work, shouldn't we be encouraged to come to an understanding by looking closely?  Isn't that the point of the famous quote:

"Knock and it shall be opened unto you.  Seek and ye shall find.  Ask and you will be answered"

Doesn't the bible lay out exactly the path one should take to find god?  Study the bible, live by the tenets of faith the best that you can... and as you seek god, you will find him?  What happens if one walks that path and, at the end of the road, there is no god standing there with welcoming hands?

One of my favorite quotes on faith is from Kevin Smith, from the movie Dogma:

Quote
Liz: He said that faith is like a glass of water. When you're young, the glass is small, and it's easy to fill up. But the older you get, the bigger the glass gets, and the same amount of liquid doesn't fill it anymore. Periodically, the glass has to be refilled.

Sure, it's a Kevin Smith movie, and they go on to talk about sex and god being dead, but note the point here:  as a child, the platitudes and evidence are simple things; not much is required to express the supposed wonder of faith, and much can be easily attributed to god.  As you get older, as you see more, experience more, and understand more, the simple explanations no longer suffice.  Childlike faith is immature - and every church will tell you the same thing, as you start in on worship.

Unfortunately, argumentum ad mysterium is that idea that "I don't know, therefore God."  Assuming you're not denying reality, you're eventually backed into a corner where you have to resort to statements like "god works in mysterious ways" and "it's all part of the divine plan" - and that's terrible.  It's giving up, in a way.  It's avoiding the question of suffering, and clinging to faith amid a lack of evidence.  Mostly, it's encouraging you to avoid examining your life closely, and to take the moments of pain that we all experience and to push them aside, taking comfort in the notion that, honestly, some sort of 'daddy' figure will make it all better, if you just believe he will.

... painfully, it feels like the kiss on the skinned knee of the soul.

Early churchfolk saw miracles everywhere, and attributed miracles everywhere.  Saints and martyrs did glorious things in God's name.  Now we canonize John Paul (whom, oddly, I still admire!) because a couple of people submit that they feel a little better after praying to him?  This is the best we have?

I rant.  I'm a bit incoherent, I know - but if the point of revelation is proof of the Word, and if the point of worship includes obvious and immediate benefit, then how is faith at all mysterious?  In what possible way are the mental gymnastics required to keep it justified? 

To me, that's the best part about this site:  the bible says this, reality is this - how do you reconcile the two?  We certainly don't see a great quality of argument laid out to refute it, certainly.  I'm not sure it can be; the thorniest problems of Christianity (or any other faith) seem at that narrow band where faith intersects reality.  Conceptually, it does well - unlike, say, theoretical Physics, it isn't discarded when it fails in real-world application.
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Offline Karl

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Re: The Christian God needs a lesson in strategic planning or he doesn't exist
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2011, 10:24:20 AM »
There is no need for anyone not to be a believer.
...
There is no need for the myriad of sects, denominations, subdenominations, and "cults" to exist either.
...
If God communicated clearly, no one would be confused about anything whatsoever.
The reason why religions etc. exist is included in your post (bold in the quote). Many people are not capable of thinking straight or in scientific terms. If they tried, they would end up utterly confused. Religion gives them an alternative and the non believing part such as social projects and work has positive effects. That makes them feel even better.

To them god communicates clearly. They are being told that they must have faith in order to accept god. So they have faith. It is easy for them because they have no alternative and it doesn't require a lot of thinking. All is written in the bible and if there are questions, usually there are none, the priest who takes 10% from your income makes you understand.

God needs to be hidden because if he would give proof of his existence and speak clearly, the priests would be without any income. It is an industry and quest for power to these people.

The good part of it for the theists is, they do not have to hide god or fear he might show up one day as he doesn't not exist.

I could go out right now and tell the people that during the night a spirit or ghost visited me. I know how I would need to tell the story and they would not question it. No proof is required. I could give them instructions of what the ghost told me they will have to do in order to prevent evil from coming over them. They would follow a few elaborate instructions immediately. I have done it already and it worked whilst the spirit never revealed himself to them. That's because I invented him. Such is life here in the tropical countryside.

Offline No True Scotsman

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Title = false dilemma
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Offline dloubet

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Plus, if unambiguous evidence of god invalidates our free will and turns us into robots, then all the Christians coming here to try to convince us of god's existence with evidence are using exactly the method their god doesn't want them to use to turn us into exactly the kind of believers he doesn't want to have.

WTF?
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Offline ksm

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Title = false dilemma

But its just a headline to get in and reading...!

Offline grant

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In all honesty, there's much too much thought put into the whole subject.

If we believe that "god doesn't exist", do we need to look so deeply into "why" or "why not"?

There's some excellent observations and thought provoking information in some posts in this thread.

But.. do we need to worry about these issues at all? Isn't it best to not worry about them at all? Let them by and get on with our lives?
What if the hokey pokey is what its all about?

Offline Timo

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Title = false dilemma

Title notwithstanding, what are your thoughts on the topic?

I mean, I suppose I agree with you in that god doesn't have to save everyone or anyone in order to exist.  It's not really a dilemma. 

But it seems to me that if the god of the Bible exists and He wants people to believe in Him without even so much as introducing Himself to most of us then it becomes hard to claim that He's all knowing or that He even knows what He's doing. 

And if He does then it seems to me that He's being terribly unfair.  I mean, Thomas had his doubts if we're to believe the story.  Thomas didn't even accept the reliability of all that eye witness testimony that Christian apologists tend to think we should all be so impressed by.  And yet, Jesus is said to have appeared to Thomas and even let him examine His wounds so that he could believe.  My question is, why Thomas and not Timo?  I mean, doesn't it seem unfair of God to have flooded this one particular generation of people in this one particular region with evidence while asking the rest of us to be persuaded by fucking Bill Craig?

And finally, doesn't it seem cruel of God to have hatched this seemingly unwise and unfair plan with the caveat that those of us who can't believe are possibly looking forward to an eternity in hell?  Hell, isn't the whole doctrine of hell itself unjust?  What could a person possibly do to justify eternal damnation?

I agree that these sorts of arguments don't really constitute genuine dilemmas.  But, at some point, these sorts of questions really force one to wonder, if God exists and Christianity is true, what sort of god are we really looking at?  And how can we call Him just, loving, wise, etc?

Your thoughts?

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Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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In all honesty, there's much too much thought put into the whole subject.

If we believe that "god doesn't exist", do we need to look so deeply into "why" or "why not"?

There's some excellent observations and thought provoking information in some posts in this thread.

But.. do we need to worry about these issues at all? Isn't it best to not worry about them at all? Let them by and get on with our lives?

No one is worried, and I doubt anyone has put a halt to their lives.  There is a practical use to such discussions.  They tend to sharpen our arguments against theists. Even if there were no practical use, discussions such as these are at least interesting to some people.

What I find puzzling about you is that you once again feel compelled to come into a thread and pronounce how needless it seems to you.  The puzzling part is I wonder why you just don't skip the threads in which you have little interest, and contribute to those you find interesting.  You must have something worthwhile to offer; why resort to thread-shitting?  I don't really know you, but I'd bet anything that you're better than that.

Offline William

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Does this really make sense?

I tried to make sense of it once before and it came out like this:

God has always had a plan B.

First instructions in the garden of Eden failed --> plan B = sinners do time on earth

Clusterfuck on earth --> plan B = flood and start again with chosen people

Chosen people lose the plot  --> plan B = give them detailed instructions and commandments

Doesn't work either, pharisees and scribes get up themselves --> plan B = bud off a Junior and impregnate a virgin

Chosen people don't get it, kill Junior --> plan B = rewrite the whole fucking story, give it to non-chosen people instead

Story doesn't stand the test of time/science --> plan ??B??
Git mit uns

Offline gonegolfing

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Quote
Christians often argue that if the reality of God were perfectly clear it would take away our free will.  This is a peculiar and bogus argument.  Were the reality of God clear, it would only provide a sound basis for people deciding whether or not to follow the Christian God.  They still could reject or accept him.


 
Quote
Plus, if unambiguous evidence of god invalidates our free will and turns us into robots, then all the Christians coming here to try to convince us of god's existence with evidence are using exactly the method their god doesn't want them to use to turn us into exactly the kind of believers he doesn't want to have.

WTF?

When any individual uses this type of free will argument, they expose a massive fault in the story.

The evidence from god would take away ones free will argument is refuted from the very beginning of the story, by the fact of Lucifer's rebellion against god. We read in the story that Lucifer, is with god, has all knowledge of god, communicates directly with god, and of course sees god. For Lucifer to then go ahead and reject god and rebel against god, is proof that direct evidence does not force one to accept a god's orders, its plan, or to love and worship it.

The claim that seeing evidence for a god would force the issue of belief in god is correct to a great degree. However, it would not mean that we have to accept this god's behaviour and plan as good and moral. We could still choose, and be right to do so, to tell this god to piss off.

Of course, we need to always remember that this is only just a story, based on an idea, and so we can all just relax. We should take enjoyment out of exposing the faults in it, and at the same time take it serious enough to take action to try and stop all the dangers of it as well .

 ;)
"I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism"....Penn Jillette.

Offline nogodsforme

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"Things go better with _______________."

"___________ do it. Nike."

If the most powerful being of all time can't communicate better than a soda pop company and a shoe store, than he doesn't exist.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

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Does this really make sense?
Perfect sense - I wish I'd written it +1
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Offline somedude

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Does this really make sense?

I tried to make sense of it once before and it came out like this:

God has always had a plan B.

First instructions in the garden of Eden failed --> plan B = sinners do time on earth

Clusterfuck on earth --> plan B = flood and start again with chosen people

Chosen people lose the plot  --> plan B = give them detailed instructions and commandments

Doesn't work either, pharisees and scribes get up themselves --> plan B = bud off a Junior and impregnate a virgin

Chosen people don't get it, kill Junior --> plan B = rewrite the whole fucking story, give it to non-chosen people instead

Story doesn't stand the test of time/science --> plan ??B??

If god is all powerful and all knowing, then why would he ever need a Plan B, since he could make sure that Plan A is always fulfilled / make Plan A so that it will be fulfilled.
Ergo: Plan B must be what God planned for from the very beginning.
Now, anyone else get the impression that God is an easily bored Sims player?

Offline grant

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In all honesty, there's much too much thought put into the whole subject.

If we believe that "god doesn't exist", do we need to look so deeply into "why" or "why not"?

There's some excellent observations and thought provoking information in some posts in this thread.

But.. do we need to worry about these issues at all? Isn't it best to not worry about them at all? Let them by and get on with our lives?


No one is worried, and I doubt anyone has put a halt to their lives.  There is a practical use to such discussions.  They tend to sharpen our arguments against theists. Even if there were no practical use, discussions such as these are at least interesting to some people.

What I find puzzling about you is that you once again feel compelled to come into a thread and pronounce how needless it seems to you.  The puzzling part is I wonder why you just don't skip the threads in which you have little interest, and contribute to those you find interesting.  You must have something worthwhile to offer; why resort to thread-shitting?  I don't really know you, but I'd bet anything that you're better than that.

Huh? I didn't feel compelled to post nor pronounce it needless. As a matter of fact, I said I thought the thread excellent and thought provoking.

I asked a question (perhaps I should have started a new Topic?) as I am very interested to understand what drives people to acquire such in depth knowledge on a subject (god) that they appear to deny the existence of. Not only attain the knowledge (I suspect as previous theists), but retain it and still apply considerable time to analyze it. I respect their dedication to the subject matter. I posted it here because this seemed a good, well thought out Thread so seemed an appropriate place. (In retrospect, I probably should have left out the first sentence, but I wanted to make it clear that I, personally, do not put such deep thought into such subjects, nor do I have the knowledge to.)

If you'd left your reply with only your first paragraph I would have been satisfied. It seemed sensible. But no, then the lecture and personal attack. Now I'm a thread-shitter.  &) Ah well.
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Offline No True Scotsman

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Timo

I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said “god doesn't have to save everyone or anyone in order to exist.”  This is a very true statement.  He really didn’t, and that is why the idea of God’s grace is so amazing.

Your “if-then” statements are warranted, but restrictive.  Simply because many people don’t know God does not, by necessity, create deficiency in His “omnimax” qualities.  The reason for this is that an “omnimax” being may act, or may refrain on acting, on His “omnimax” qualities in the manner in which He chooses.  In fact, the Bible presents God as doing this.  The hard question then becomes, why doesn’t He just reveal Himself to everyone the same way He revealed Himself to Thomas?  There are two answers for this.  The first is that God will indeed reveal Himself to all men, when He comes to judge the living and the dead.  Therefore, it is not really a matter of if, but when.  Second, the revelation of God is very present, but the presence is that which leads to faith, namely, not physical revelation, but spiritual.  Furthermore, the “heavens declare the glory of God”, and the “law written on the heart of man” displays His institutions.  His Word portrays the story He is telling in creation, namely, redemption.  Lastly, “[as you become] sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal 4:6)

To comment, lastly, on hell, you touch a very sobering topic, but I would ask you, if the glory of heaven is Christ, and in this life you despise Him, would you truly want to spend an eternity with Him?  Now, by saying this, I am not saying that the natural man chooses hell; he doesn’t.  What I am saying is that, as you look at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, you will notice something very interesting of the rich man in hell.  You will notice that, although He is obviously in torment and doesn’t wish to be where he is, he doesn’t ask to go to heaven, but instead asks for Lazarus to come with water to cool his tongue.  Furthermore, we see a very interesting thing playing out which I think relates will to your questions.  The rich man asked for a physical sign to be sent to his brothers.  He says, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”  And what does Abraham say?  “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”  So the question remains, would you believe?  It’s actually a really serious question.
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Offline mindyourmind

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Does this really make sense?

I tried to make sense of it once before and it came out like this:

God has always had a plan B.

First instructions in the garden of Eden failed --> plan B = sinners do time on earth

Clusterfuck on earth --> plan B = flood and start again with chosen people

Chosen people lose the plot  --> plan B = give them detailed instructions and commandments

Doesn't work either, pharisees and scribes get up themselves --> plan B = bud off a Junior and impregnate a virgin

Chosen people don't get it, kill Junior --> plan B = rewrite the whole fucking story, give it to non-chosen people instead

Story doesn't stand the test of time/science --> plan ??B??

I'm new here and now I have splurted tea all over my keyboard. Nice !
- pending -

Offline gonegolfing

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Timo

I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said “god doesn't have to save everyone or anyone in order to exist.”  This is a very true statement.  He really didn’t, and that is why the idea of God’s grace is so amazing.

Your “if-then” statements are warranted, but restrictive.  Simply because many people don’t know God does not, by necessity, create deficiency in His “omnimax” qualities.  The reason for this is that an “omnimax” being may act, or may refrain on acting, on His “omnimax” qualities in the manner in which He chooses.   In fact, the Bible presents God as doing this.  The hard question then becomes, why doesn’t He just reveal Himself to everyone the same way He revealed Himself to Thomas?  There are two answers for this.  The first is that God will indeed reveal Himself to all men, when He comes to judge the living and the dead.  Therefore, it is not really a matter of if, but when.  Second, the revelation of God is very present, but the presence is that which leads to faith, namely, not physical revelation, but spiritual.  Furthermore, the “heavens declare the glory of God”, and the “law written on the heart of man” displays His institutions.  His Word portrays the story He is telling in creation, namely, redemption.  Lastly, “[as you become] sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal 4:6)

To comment, lastly, on hell, you touch a very sobering topic, but I would ask you, if the glory of heaven is Christ, and in this life you despise Him, would you truly want to spend an eternity with Him?  Now, by saying this, I am not saying that the natural man chooses hell; he doesn’t.  What I am saying is that, as you look at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, you will notice something very interesting of the rich man in hell.  You will notice that, although He is obviously in torment and doesn’t wish to be where he is, he doesn’t ask to go to heaven, but instead asks for Lazarus to come with water to cool his tongue.  Furthermore, we see a very interesting thing playing out which I think relates will to your questions.  The rich man asked for a physical sign to be sent to his brothers.  He says, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”  And what does Abraham say?  “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”  So the question remains, would you believe?  It’s actually a really serious question.

Quote
Simply because many people don’t know

And the arrogance continues


Is his post not more preaching using the bible? Much more baseless and presumptuous Woo as well ?

I don't get why his ramblings have been allowed to go on for so long  :o
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Offline plethora

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I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said “god doesn't have to save everyone or anyone in order to exist.”  This is a very true statement.  He really didn’t, and that is why the idea of God’s grace is so amazing.

If being given a "choice" between kissing god's ass for eternity and being tortured forever without a shred of proof is "grace" ... I shudder to think what you would consider "disgraceful".

Quote
The first is that God will indeed reveal Himself to all men, when He comes to judge the living and the dead.

"Judge of the living dead" ... sounds like a good horror flick title for your fictional horror story book.
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Offline gonegolfing

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NTS:

Quote
Timo

I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said “god doesn't have to save everyone or anyone in order to exist.”  This is a very true statement.  He really didn’t, and that is why the idea of God’s grace is so amazing.

Quote
Timo

I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said “god doesn't have to save burn everyone or anyone in order to exist.”  This is a very true statement.  He really didn’t, and that is why the idea of God’s grace mercy is so amazing.

There, isn't that better, and logically true then NTS ?
« Last Edit: March 08, 2011, 10:46:20 AM by gonegolfing »
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Offline screwtape

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NTS,

I know this was addressed to Timo, so I hope you both forgive me if I jump in.

The first is that God will indeed reveal Himself to all men, when He comes to judge the living and the dead.  Therefore, it is not really a matter of if, but when.

Don't you think that is kind of a cop out?  I mean, what good does that revelation do me after I'm dead?  It is too late, isn't it?


Second, the revelation of God is very present, but the presence is that which leads to faith, namely, not physical revelation, but spiritual.

I know you think the god thing is obvious.  The whole universe shouts "god!" to you.  But try to see it from my perspective.  It is not at all obvious to me.  I used to be religious, but because of my education and my nature, I came to believe that it was all baloney.  So if you are right, that god's presence is what leads to faith, then god left me and has not come back.  It was not a decision I made to leave god.  I did not despise god and look for ways out of catholicism.  I stopped calling myself a catholic because it required I believe things I just could not.

So to get back to the original point, god is not revealing itself to me physically or spiritually, but it seems to do that for other people.  Why?



but I would ask you, if the glory of heaven is Christ, and in this life you despise Him,

I don't like your question.  It is presumptuous, kind of bigoted and presents a situation I don't think applies to very many people here.  Who despises jesus H?  I don't.  If he was real and the bible portrays him accurately, he said some things I think are okay, most of which was said before.  If he wasn't real, then what is to hate?  I despise that people try to jam him down my throat every five minutes.  But the character of jesus H, I cannot say I despise.

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Offline velkyn

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pardon me as I jump in also.
[To comment, lastly, on hell, you touch a very sobering topic, but I would ask you, if the glory of heaven is Christ, and in this life you despise Him, would you truly want to spend an eternity with Him?
  I don't, I just want to be left alone. Why is torture needed?
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Now, by saying this, I am not saying that the natural man chooses hell; he doesn’t.
According to your bible, that is indeed correct. Your god picks and chooses who is saved and who is not on a divine whim.
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What I am saying is that, as you look at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, you will notice something very interesting of the rich man in hell.  You will notice that, although He is obviously in torment and doesn’t wish to be where he is, he doesn’t ask to go to heaven, but instead asks for Lazarus to come with water to cool his tongue.
Interesting observation.  What are other reasons this could be presented this way in the story?  A sip of water is enough for hell to become heaven? He knew that Abraham was not god and thus could not send him to heaven?  The authors need a character who requests a sign for his brothers and can't just say "I repent all I have done to offend God.  Please God, allow me to speak to my brothers so they will repent, so they might join your heavenly kingdom."? The writers need a mention of how people will disbelieve JC in some retconning of the story? I've always found this story to be rather curious.  Is the rich man in hell just for being rich?  It also seems that Abraham/Jesus is saying that heaven and hell are the opposite of what you have on earth.  It seems less mercy or simple goodness than a merchant pricing out his wares.  And at the end, what was the purpose of JC rising from the dead if not to "convince" others of God's power and supposed forgiveness.  Why does Paul say that the reason to believe is *because* JC was supposedly risen (1 Corinthians 15)?  Some people certainly have been convinced by at least the stories of a man rising from the dead, which makes Abraham and his claims questionable. 
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Furthermore, we see a very interesting thing playing out which I think relates will to your questions.  The rich man asked for a physical sign to be sent to his brothers.  He says, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”  And what does Abraham say?  “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”  So the question remains, would you believe?  It’s actually a really serious question.
  It is a typical one from Christians, who would wish to believe that the mean ol' atheists would not believe in anything presented to them.  That's a strawman atheist they've built.  Assuming god is omniscient, and that god is indeed "merciful" and does want all mankind to worship him, so that no sheep stays lost, God knows what would convince me.  I might not even know it myself in this scenario.  Why does God do nothing and did nothing when I was a Christian and losing my faith, praying directly to him for an answer?  As your bible says, God isn't interested in saving everyone, as many Christians claim, he intentionally blinds and deafens them to his supposed word, they are vessels to be broken. 
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Offline No True Scotsman

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Screwtape

Excellent observation.  I gave you a +1.  A better way of putting it would be "despising the fact that Jesus is God and thus should demand rightful preeminence in our lives."  It was incorrect for me to assert that Jesus is despised necessarily as just a historical figure.

To the rest of you, the post was for Timo, I respect the fact that you have questions, but he has first dibs.
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Offline screwtape

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Thanks for the correction.

"despising the fact that Jesus is God and thus should demand rightful preeminence in our lives."

Rightful preeminence?  Maybe it is my own SPAG at work, but I have a hard time imagining a god that would want the meat-puppet of itself to be preeminent in our lives.   Or, I should say, I have a hard time imagining why I would bother following that god.  I've known people for whom jesus H is the end all, be all of their existence - to the detriment of their family.  It seems like an unhealthy preoccupation. 

If I were a god, I cannot imagine I would want people to be so focused on me, or even focused on me at all.  I am a god, and they are just people[1] after all.  Love your family.  Love your friends.  And try to not be such an asshole to everyone else.   The three commandments of Screwtape, god of the savages.

Anyway, does that mean you will get to my questions after Timo responds? 
 1. you know, a small step up from bacteria
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Offline gonegolfing

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Screwtape

Excellent observation.  I gave you a +1.  A better way of putting it would be "despising the fact that Jesus is God and thus should demand rightful preeminence in our lives."  It was incorrect for me to assert that Jesus is despised necessarily as just a historical figure.

To the rest of you, the post was for Timo, I respect the fact that you have questions, but he has first dibs.

I don't really need an answer to my question. As it was rhetorical, and I already know the answer. But knock yourself out if you wish  ;)

I do however, wish to see you answer Screws questions as they get down to where the rubber hits the road and deserve the best that your forebrain can muster.
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Offline Timo

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I appreciate your thoughtful reply.  But, perhaps not surprisingly, I'm not very convinced by it.

I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said “god doesn't have to save everyone or anyone in order to exist.”  This is a very true statement.  He really didn’t, and that is why the idea of God’s grace is so amazing.

Is it really amazing that a parent would forgive a disobedient child?  I don't think so--especially if said parent knows the nature of this disobedience even prior to the creation of said child.

Your “if-then” statements are warranted, but restrictive.  Simply because many people don’t know God does not, by necessity, create deficiency in His “omnimax” qualities.

I know.  And I agree.  That's why I was trying to be careful in my wording.  People not knowing God doesn't create a deficiency but it should, I think, raise the question of whether or not such deficiencies exist if we assume that God exists.

The reason for this is that an “omnimax” being may act, or may refrain on acting, on His “omnimax” qualities in the manner in which He chooses.  In fact, the Bible presents God as doing this.  The hard question then becomes, why doesn’t He just reveal Himself to everyone the same way He revealed Himself to Thomas?  There are two answers for this.  The first is that God will indeed reveal Himself to all men, when He comes to judge the living and the dead.  Therefore, it is not really a matter of if, but when.
 

I don't think this is at all satisfactory.  Here's the thing.  If I were to die today then, on Christianity, I should expect to be condemned.  After all, if I take what Jesus is claimed to have said in the Gospels seriously then it's already spelled out:

18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

John 3:18, 19


And to hear Peter tell it:

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12


And my case is not a tricky one.  I am not one of those who has gone unevangelized.  In fact, I grew up in a Christian home.  So it would seem to me that, unless I suddenly come to believe, I should expect to be denied access to heaven if Christianity is true. 

And with no one to buzz me in from heaven's stoop, where can I expect to go?

Second, the revelation of God is very present, but the presence is that which leads to faith, namely, not physical revelation, but spiritual.

This really just goes toward my point.  My point was that, if Christianity is true and scripture is authoritative then God has given some people every opportunity to believe while denying others that opportunity.  The disciples and all manner of folks that were around to have witnessed Jesus' life and ministry are said to have had experiences with a physical being who performed physical, tangible miracles.  Thomas' experience is decidedly physical.  Why should I be limited to some vague, spiritual presence or experience rather than a physical one when this generation got to experience both?  (Hell, I've never even had a spiritual experience.)

Furthermore, the “heavens declare the glory of God”, and the “law written on the heart of man” displays His institutions.  His Word portrays the story He is telling in creation, namely, redemption.  Lastly, “[as you become] sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal 4:6)

I don't know man.  I don't think that the "heavens declare the glory of God."  Or rather, I don't think that the heavens point us toward Christian theism any more than they point us towards any other form of theism or any other theological position for that matter.  Personally, I think they declare the glory of Carl Sagan.

With respect to His Law being written on the heart of man, I don't really think there's much to that one either.  I mean, we all have moral intuitions but I think that we can make better sense of them as a natural phenomenon.  Why do we, as a species, for example, tend to prefer members of our ingroups (be they familial, racial, national, religious etc) over members of outgroups when making moral decisions or in our moral feelings?  Take, for example, the ending of psalm 137:

7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did
   on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
   “tear it down to its foundations!”
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
   happy is the one who repays you
   according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
   and dashes them against the rocks.


Why is it that the author feels free to lament the destruction of Jerusalem while, in the same breath, fantasizing about the children of Babylon being murdered?  The infants of Babylon didn't (and couldn't) do anything to harm Judah in any way.  Yet the author feels justified in relishing in the thought of their brutal death because they happen to belong to a hated outgroup.  Do you think he would feel the same way about Judean infants?  I don't.

This makes perfect sense on an evolutionary view but not on the view.  We, as a species, flourished in small groups.  We are wired to prefer people as part of our group and conversely, to be suspicious of or even hostile to outsiders.  It was beneficial to the survival of our genes.

(Or perhaps, they're getting god's law right in those ethnic prejudices.  After all, the Torah continually distinguishes between the Israelite and the foreigner.  Does God want us to treat people differently based solely on their ethnicity?)

And what do you make of people whose personality is affected by a mental illness, genetic condition or brain disease or injury?  I mean, if God's law was indeed written on our hearts, why are there sociopaths?  Does God have bad handwriting?  (If so, I was indeed made in His image.)

To comment, lastly, on hell, you touch a very sobering topic, but I would ask you, if the glory of heaven is Christ, and in this life you despise Him, would you truly want to spend an eternity with Him?

I don't have anything against Jesus.  I just don't think he was God or a messiah foretold in days of old or any of that business.  (And no, I don't "despise" that notion either.  I just don't believe it.) 

I'm not even sure that he was an actual historical figure.  (I take the position that, if Jesus existed then he has been all but lost to historical inquiry and that we therefore can't really know much about him.  But that's another topic.) 

As for spending an eternity with him.  Nah.  Jesus seems like a nice enough guy but I wouldn't want to spend an eternity doing anything.  I'm one of those weird people that would prefer not existing to existing eternally in any state.

Now, by saying this, I am not saying that the natural man chooses hell; he doesn’t.  What I am saying is that, as you look at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, you will notice something very interesting of the rich man in hell.  You will notice that, although He is obviously in torment and doesn’t wish to be where he is, he doesn’t ask to go to heaven, but instead asks for Lazarus to come with water to cool his tongue.  Furthermore, we see a very interesting thing playing out which I think relates will to your questions.  The rich man asked for a physical sign to be sent to his brothers.  He says, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”  And what does Abraham say?  “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”  So the question remains, would you believe?  It’s actually a really serious question.

And here's the serious answer: probably. 

If all I have are the Law and the Prophets then no, I would not believe.  I'm not aware of any historical evidence that Moses or anyone led a large group of Hebrew slaves out of Egypt and I am therefore suspicious of his story and the laws attributed to him--especially since many of those laws are predicated on the fact of this supposed exodus.  (Hence the phrase "for you were a foreigner in the land of Egypt.")  And I find the laws themselves, especially those in Leviticus, to be mostly arbitrary and often repugnant.  (I think the law code in Deuteronomy is a bit better though.)  Furthermore, archeological evidence would suggest that Isrealite monotheism is a later development than a lot of believers would like to admit--polytheism being the norm rather than something that Israel was occasionally tempted towards.  In addition, there is little evidence to support the idea that Canaan was conquored by the Israelites.  (In fact, the ending of Joshua almost admits as much.)  I follow the Biblical minimalists in concluding that the Israelites were probably themselves Canaanites. 

I think that the entire Deuteronomic history is therefore likely to be an exercise of retrojection--a polemic against indigionous and contemporary non-Yahwehist Isrealite religion as well as competing forms of Yahwehism.  And I think that the exploits of Moses and the Patriarchs are just the same sort of founding mythology we find in civilizations all over the world.  (This is by no means an exclusively ancient phenomenon.  We can already see people whitewashing my country's founding.) 

With respect to the Prophets, I can appreciate a lot of it from a literary standpoint, especially the amazingly sarcastic Isaiah, but I don't really see any reason to accept them as authoritative in any way.  (I believe it was David Plotz who observed that you can inject, at the end of almost any passage of Isaiah, the phrase "you idiots!")

If, on the other hand, I saw someone that I knew for a fact was dead, I would probably take very seriously what he had to say about the after-life.  (Or I might think that I'm going insane or wonder whether or not he was really dead in the first place.  I don't know.  Hence: probably)

And with respect to the rich man not asking to go to heaven, does that really mean that he doesn't want to go to heaven?  Couldn't I just as easily read it as the rich man accepting that he isn't going to heaven?  For example, if your girlfriend were to break up with you, you might want to still be with her and yet not pursue her because you accept that she wants nothing to do with you.


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Offline velkyn

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I did start a thread to address NTS's claims that he could prove that his god was the one who created the universe: http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,17926.0/topicseen.html
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