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Offline JoeNobody

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Questions for any theist willing to answer
« on: July 23, 2014, 02:46:53 PM »
1.Do you believe that God can influence decisions?

1 A.If the answer to the above is "yes", then presumably you believe that God influences us to do good. If so, do humans ever do good on their own?

2.Do you believe that Satan/demons can influence decisions?

2 A.If the answer to the above is "yes", then presumably you believe that Satan/demons influence us to do harm. If so, do humans ever do harm on their own?

Offline Mooby

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2014, 06:08:16 PM »
1. Yes

1A. By "on their own," do you mean having agency/culpability/ability to make decisions and be responsible for them, or being free from absolutely all influences whatsoever?  Assuming you meant the former, "Yes."  If you meant something else, I am sure you will clarify.

2. Yes

2A. Yes, under the same assumption as 1A.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2014, 06:16:13 PM »
1.Do you believe that God can influence decisions?
A belief in the concept of a god certainly does.

Quote
1 A.If the answer to the above is "yes", then presumably you believe that God influences us to do good.
Not always. God is clear that sometimes he deceives people and causes them to believe lies.
Quote
If so, do humans ever do good on their own?
Yes. Certain sects of Christianity believe in "Salvation by Works" and other methods.

Quote
2.Do you believe that Satan/demons can influence decisions?
A belief in the concept of Satan/demons certainly does.

Quote
2 A.If the answer to the above is "yes", then presumably you believe that Satan/demons influence us to do harm.
Yes, but not always
Quote
If so, do humans ever do harm on their own?
Does harm caused by ignorance count?
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2014, 07:55:18 AM »
This makes me think of a few years ago, when one of my brothers-in-law had lost his job, and was facing foreclosure on his house, my husband and I lent/gave (looking more & more like the latter) them a not insubstantial amount of money to help keep them afloat. His wife posted on her facebook a few months later about being so grateful to god for providing for them in their time of need. I vented a little bit to my mom, as I was a little bothered by the wording, but my mom's answer was that it was entirely possible that god had put it into our hearts to give them the cash.

Offline Backspace

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2014, 08:16:15 AM »
Perhaps god infuenced my decision to become an atheist...?
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Offline JoeNobody

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2014, 09:25:06 AM »
Yeah, Jynnan, I have been told before that good deeds I have done were "God moving in my heart". The implication being (confirmed by my questions) that I was incapable of charity absent this influence. I found that more than a little insulting. TBH.

Conversely, I have heard others say that the devil made them do something bad, or that they were tempted by Satan. I've even heard of one guy (with his own internet show) who said that atheists were possessed by demons and that we needed exorcism.

I find this all really weird. 

Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2014, 09:28:16 AM »
This makes me think of a few years ago, when one of my brothers-in-law had lost his job, and was facing foreclosure on his house, my husband and I lent/gave (looking more & more like the latter) them a not insubstantial amount of money to help keep them afloat. His wife posted on her facebook a few months later about being so grateful to god for providing for them in their time of need. I vented a little bit to my mom, as I was a little bothered by the wording, but my mom's answer was that it was entirely possible that god had put it into our hearts to give them the cash.

God didn't put it on their hearts to pay it back eh?

What Christians constantly do is to take anything good that someone does and credit it to God alone, and then, if something bad happens to you, they'll suggest that it's just reasonable consequences for your own free will resulting in you being disobedient to God.

i.e.  The shoe is on the other foot and your husband loses his job...  it'll be because you guys don't have faith in god... and if you lose your house... it'll be god's consequences for you... and when they don't help you in return, it'll be because God is using this struggle to teach you guys a lesson and bring you to him.

It'll always be some bullshit like that.

God is like reverse Spider-Man.  He has all of the power, but none of the responsibility... unless YOU work for five months, save money, cut your budget, use that money to help your family, and then deal with the ramifications of having less... then, ALL of that was just God.   Good thing God caused you guys to take all of those conscious actions, then didn't get you paid back.

Fun isn't it?
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Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2014, 09:43:11 AM »
Yeah, Jynnan, I have been told before that good deeds I have done were "God moving in my heart". The implication being (confirmed by my questions) that I was incapable of charity absent this influence. I found that more than a little insulting. TBH.

Conversely, I have heard others say that the devil made them do something bad, or that they were tempted by Satan. I've even heard of one guy (with his own internet show) who said that atheists were possessed by demons and that we needed exorcism.

I find this all really weird.

Usually with the bad stuff... it's "your own free will" and because you "disobey god" you are "given over" to the enemy and consequences of your bad decisions.

It's very insulting. 

Sometimes I listen to Christian Radio just to amaze myself at how I was able to do the mental gymnastics to support it when I was a believer, and now that I'm not, there's so much on there that is obviously wrong.   Now that I'm not living in constant fear of questioning God, it's easy to question.

They were counseling some guy on whether or not he'd get re-married and were perfectly happy to tell him that sometimes god wants you to be single and sometimes god used your first marriage to mold you into a better person for your second one, and when he's ready, he'll put someone new in your life.

It was all horribly arrogant.

A - Assuming that the first divorce, and all the massive damage done there-in, even though divorce is supposed to be "wrong" - That was all part of God's plan for this dude... nevermind that he's probably set back a decade or more and may be fighting to keep his relationship with his kids healthy and struggling with emotional pain.

B - Once a person feels ready to move on from a past relationship, they'll probably have learned something from it, and they'll go out and start meeting people and dating, and then they'll eventually find something that is close to what they were looking for... and at that point, if they're Christian, they'll discount all that effort and give all the credit to God.

C - Sometimes god wants you to be...  single, married, suffering with cancer, having a retarded baby, rich & happy, any other random condition...

"Sometimes god wants you to be..."  is the big excuse for giving credit for any possible nonsensical outcome to God.   

It's all a gigantic crock of shit that doesn't help anyone.
You can't spell BELIEVE without LIE...  and a few other letters.  B and E and V and I think E.

Offline skeptic54768

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2014, 10:53:18 PM »
1.Do you believe that God can influence decisions?

1 A.If the answer to the above is "yes", then presumably you believe that God influences us to do good. If so, do humans ever do good on their own?

2.Do you believe that Satan/demons can influence decisions?

2 A.If the answer to the above is "yes", then presumably you believe that Satan/demons influence us to do harm. If so, do humans ever do harm on their own?

Feels good to be back to the boards after being busy the past few days.
Now, on to the questions:

1. Yes

2. Yes.

3. Yes.

4. Yes.

Now what?
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

Offline eh!

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2014, 01:06:04 AM »
i agree it did feel good while you have been busy for he last few days. now your back to trivializing religion (and god) into a bunch of unsubstantiated, irrelevant one line,  superficial un-thought-thru, bone-head responses.
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Offline skeptic54768

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2014, 01:25:51 AM »
i agree it did feel good while you have been busy for he last few days. now your back to trivializing religion (and god) into a bunch of unsubstantiated, irrelevant one line,  superficial un-thought-thru, bone-head responses.

Those questions are sufficiently answered with a "Yes" response.

It's like asking, "Does a giraffe have a long neck?" The answer is "Yes."
is that trivializing the giraffe? No, it is not.

If the OP wishes to discuss things further, then we will. But, Op just asked for a yes/no answer.

Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2014, 08:58:15 AM »
Don't a lot of Christians believe that any "good" done by us inherent sinners is still as "dirty rags" in the eyes of god without redemption? In that case, can anything good that someone does purely through free will really be counted? I may be misunderstanding the doctrine, but I'm pretty sure I've been told something like that in the past.

Offline Timo

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2014, 10:03:27 AM »
Those questions are sufficiently answered with a "Yes" response.

It's like asking, "Does a giraffe have a long neck?" The answer is "Yes."
is that trivializing the giraffe? No, it is not.

If the OP wishes to discuss things further, then we will. But, Op just asked for a yes/no answer.

I agree.  Furthermore, I think that these answers are very easily supported both by scripture.

1. God clearly influences people's decisions.  Sometimes He goes as far as making their decisions for them.  Skeptic (mistakenly) argues that this isn't the case, but God is said to have hardened Pharaoh's heart [Exodus 9:12].  In that case, God has removed his free will so that he can use Pharaoh to his own ends. 
2.  People throughout the Bible are considered to have been justified by their good deeds.  For example, James writes that Rahab the prostitute was justified by her good works [James 2:25].  That only makes sense if we agree that Rahab chose to act of her own volition.
3.  The satan tempts people in the Bible.  That's his job.  In Matthew 4:1-11, for example, he tempts Jesus.  He's clearly attempting to influence Jesus' decisions.  If this is a thing that we should believe then happened then it would follow that sometimes he's successful.
4.  Humans are depicted throughout the Bible as having done harm all on their own.  For example, in Numbers 31 God blames the idolatry of the Israelites  on the Midianite women, who he orders the Israelites to kill.
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Offline JoeNobody

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2014, 02:53:45 PM »
Firstly, thank you to the theists who responded.

Secondly, Mooby, yes you are correct in your interpretation of my questions.

Lastly, a couple of follow up questions:

1. How can you tell the difference between those who are under the influence of these entities and those who aren't?

2. Does being under "divine" influence mitigate the responsibility/credit that you assign them?

Offline JoeNobody

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2014, 03:34:27 PM »

I agree.  Furthermore, I think that these answers are very easily supported both by scripture.

1. God clearly influences people's decisions.  Sometimes He goes as far as making their decisions for them.  Skeptic (mistakenly) argues that this isn't the case, but God is said to have hardened Pharaoh's heart [Exodus 9:12].  In that case, God has removed his free will so that he can use Pharaoh to his own ends. 
2.  People throughout the Bible are considered to have been justified by their good deeds.  For example, James writes that Rahab the prostitute was justified by her good works [James 2:25].  That only makes sense if we agree that Rahab chose to act of her own volition.
3.  The satan tempts people in the Bible.  That's his job.  In Matthew 4:1-11, for example, he tempts Jesus.  He's clearly attempting to influence Jesus' decisions.  If this is a thing that we should believe then happened then it would follow that sometimes he's successful.
4.  Humans are depicted throughout the Bible as having done harm all on their own.  For example, in Numbers 31 God blames the idolatry of the Israelites  on the Midianite women, who he orders the Israelites to kill.

 I don't much care if the answers they give are biblically supported or not. Seems to me that most theists find the verse that supports their opinion anyway. I'm more concerned right now with understanding their model of reality.

Offline eh!

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2014, 08:06:31 PM »
skep, i was referring to yr answers in general, just  like the news of yr return to posting was kinda general and irrelevant to this thread.
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2014, 09:28:04 PM »
This relates to a question I have asked here before. We have heard the "by their fruits" argument that says you can tell if a person is being motivated by a demon/Satan/their own sinful nature or by an angel/Jesus/god working his will. If the former, the outcome will be bad. If the latter, the outcome will be good.

Specifically, my question had to do with the US slave masters who were brutal and evil, but who taught their slaves Christianity. Likewise the white settlers who massacred the native people, yet taught the survivors Christianity. I think skeptic maintains that no Christian was ever a slave master or did a massacre.

So was the Christianity they taught false, demon-led and evil? Are the black and native people who learned about Jesus from those tainted sources doomed to hell?[1]

Given that we don't have an infinite amount of time to wait to see if an outcome is ultimately good or bad, we have to look at the results at some finite point. So, can a bad person do good? How does this relate to the fruits thing?
 1. I have met black and native folks who say that they are glad for slavery and/or colonization because it made them Christians. I have also heard the same from Muslims--isn't it wonderful that the Arabs massacred my ancestors to being me to Allah.
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.

Offline eh!

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2014, 10:54:00 PM »
^ some bad men are also great family men that are devoted husbands and fathers and coach little league, donate to charity and the whole community good citizen thing yet they still do very bad things.

i think it is really a question of perspective, just like yr slave owners. they were prolly pillars of their white community.   

do you think if hitler won the war he would be considered a bad guy by the majority now??
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Offline skeptic54768

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2014, 11:44:57 PM »
skep, i was referring to yr answers in general, just  like the news of yr return to posting was kinda general and irrelevant to this thread.

I had to announce that I was busy for the past few days because otherwise, I would be the butt of all jokes and you guys would be saying stuff like, "Guess skeptic couldn't handle the heat and ran away with his tail tucked between his legs. Another theist bites the dust. Looks like he's gone off the board for good."

It would be a dishonest way to claim victory.
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

Offline dloubet

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2014, 01:33:53 AM »
Quote
1 A.If the answer to the above is "yes", then presumably you believe that God influences us to do good.
Not always. God is clear that sometimes he deceives people and causes them to believe lies.
Quote
If so, do humans ever do good on their own?
Yes. Certain sects of Christianity believe in "Salvation by Works" and other methods.

Whoa there! How is the promise of salvation by works not an influence on one's decisions?

I think these questions would benefit from the phrase "supernatural influence" when talking about the god's direct supernatural influence used to harden hearts and such, because carrots and sticks like heaven and hell are definitely decisions influencing tactics, just not supernatural ones. (Well, ignoring that heaven and hell are supernatural realms, of course.)
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Offline Timo

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2014, 01:39:33 AM »
I don't much care if the answers they give are biblically supported or not. Seems to me that most theists find the verse that supports their opinion anyway. I'm more concerned right now with understanding their model of reality.

The point of my post was just to demonstrate that the answers to your questions were fairly obvious on most versions of Christian theism I've encountered and so I didn't see what the harm was of skeptic posting one word responses, especially since the questions seem to have been designed to lead into another set of questions if and when our theists answered in the affirmative.
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Offline Eddie Schultz

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2014, 02:33:51 AM »
skep, I see you're in this thread, when you really have nothing to reply to. You should be in the other threads that are asking you questions, etc.... You can be wherever you want, but since you're here, please take the time to address other questions that are asked of you. The reason I am saying this is, I've been waiting for quite a while for you to address a question I asked in one of the other threads.

Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2014, 02:42:08 AM »
1.Do you believe that God can influence decisions?

Yes.

1 A.If the answer to the above is "yes", then presumably you believe that God influences us to do good.

I think so.

If so, do humans ever do good on their own?
.

Yes. I also think that we are capable of acting in a way that is morally praiseworthy with no divine influence whatsoever. In my view, "The Good" is what it is, just like the laws of physics and everything else. This would be true if there were a God or not.

2.Do you believe that Satan/demons can influence decisions?

Yes.

2 A.If the answer to the above is "yes", then presumably you believe that Satan/demons influence us to do harm.

Yes, I think so. 

If so, do humans ever do harm on their own?

Yes.

The key word in both of your questions is "Influence", not to be confused with "Possession" or something like that.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 02:44:05 AM by Philosopher_at_large »
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Offline Mooby

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2014, 01:56:06 AM »
1. How can you tell the difference between those who are under the influence of these entities and those who aren't?
I think many (if not most) Christians would agree that there isn't really a time when both God and Satan aren't influencing us towards good and evil, respectively.  So there really isn't a metric by which theists sit down and say, "Was Jim influenced by God or was this one all him?"  Rather, we see it as Jim being influenced by both God and Satan and choosing one side over the other.

Really, when Christians talk about a person being under the influence of God or Satan, we're talking about the pattern of actions they are making as living in a state of grace or sin, respectively.  One who is consistently living in a state of grace is often considered to be holy (influenced by God), while those who are consistently living in sin are often considered to be under the influence of Satan.

Quote
2. Does being under "divine" influence mitigate the responsibility/credit that you assign them?
Generally, no.

For instance, the Catholic Church has the following requirements for commission of a sin:
  • X has to be wrong
  • You have to know X is wrong
  • You have to do X knowingly/willingly/consciously

I would say the same holds for good actions.  In most cases, influence from God or Satan does not remove one of those criteria.  However, many Christians hold open the possibility of a strong influence removing the third attribute: for example, someone whose actions are controlled via demonic possession.  In such a case, the culpability would be mitigated.
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2014, 05:06:29 AM »
It would be a dishonest way to claim victory.

Correct. It would only be a victory if you announced that you were an atheist, and had found a reason to kill your entire family.
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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2014, 05:10:18 AM »
while those who are consistently living in sin are often considered to be under the influence of Satan.

Are you living in sin, if you pray to Allah 5 times a day, and care for your two wives and orphans?

If so, why doesn't God's influence extend to bothering about directing people to the correct religion?
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Offline bertatberts

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2014, 05:57:10 AM »
It would be a dishonest way to claim victory.
And at what time are you honest, or is it you're merely ignorant of the truth.(though that would be hard to believe) I dare say you never slow down long enough to think, that would be far to hard, wouldn't it. Learn to think for yourself. Use the filch proof method to discern the truth then and only then can you claim honesty in your posts.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2014, 06:26:09 AM »
For instance, the Catholic Church has the following requirements for commission of a sin:
  • X has to be wrong
  • You have to know X is wrong
  • You have to do X knowingly/willingly/consciously
That is interesting. Although there are obvious cases of right and wrong, the definition at the boundaries will be fuzzy. This will leave the person unsure and, in such cases the tendency is to over-compensate, thus causing the prohibition on sin to be wider than it need be.

The essence of this is that The Church of Rome is the arbiter and the person must sacrifice his own opinions to those of the Church, for he can never know for certain if he is sinning - thus giving the Church control over his life. I say this as the Church may, at any time declare something to be a sin, or not be a sin.

This is the same as a government passing laws, but whereas governments are formed by consensus, the Church has no democracy other than some head honcho saying he is in touch with the Almighty: a claim that is (i) believed or (ii) is enough to have you carted off to a psychiatric unit.

Quote
I would say the same holds for good actions.  In most cases, influence from God or Satan does not remove one of those criteria.  However, many Christians hold open the possibility of a strong influence removing the third attribute: for example, someone whose actions are controlled via demonic possession.  In such a case, the culpability would be mitigated.
demonic possession? demonic possession?! demonic bloody possession???!!!

Hello Mooby! This is the 21st century, not the Dark Ages!

Repeat after me: "There is no such thing as a demon."  Or perhaps you thought that "The Evil Dead" was a documentary?
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Questions for any theist willing to answer
« Reply #28 on: August 02, 2014, 02:25:58 PM »
Didn't we already discuss how belief in demons, cases of demon possession and actual exorcisms became increasingly popular after the spate of 70's demon movies? Or did I read that somewhere else?

Evidently the cases were even more rare than miracle healings at Lourdes before those movies. And it was only Catholics who got possessed. Then the demons really got busy and started infesting Protestants, Evangelicals, everyone. Nowadays there are people who specialize--specialize!-- in doing exorcisms. Those demons were just dormant until the past 40 years, I guess.[1]
 1. Not including Catholic-influenced African offshoots like Vodun and Santeria where everyone got possessed by spirits and there was no need for an exorcism.
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.