There’s been one helluva religious debate carrying on in the comments to one of my previous entries that has gotten quite lengthy. My latest response to it comes out to over seven pages in Microsoft Word. As a result, I’m starting a new thread just to contain it. If you’re not already participating in it then this probably won’t interest you. Hell, even if you are participating in it this may be more than you care to read. If so, then skip this entry.
Les, your first 2 arguments are so weak you must not be getting enough sleep. Or maybe you dont get the idea of being totally outside of time versus being affected by time.
My first two arguments are weak? Perhaps, but I note you haven’t bothered to address them.
Whether God is “outside of time” or “being affected by time” is irrelevant to my point. Let’s assume for the moment that God is indeed “outside of time,” as I’m often told by various believers such as you, and as such can see the whole of reality at once and thus has knowledge of all that has happened as well as all that will happen. The Universe has a beginning and an end and God is able to examine any aspect of it at any point along its timeline he desires at will. Let’s also assume that he has the power and ability to “reach into” the Universe and make adjustments, move things around, fine tune it, leave little drawings of himself and his “mom” in random objects as messages to the faithful, etc. and the effects of those changes are immediately known to him because he can examine the whole thing at once. This implies that the “future” must already exist and that the “past” continues to exist even though we, as souls traveling through it, are only able to experience it moment by moment.
Let us also assume that everything that exists in this Universe is something God created. From the smallest of elemental particles to the most complex of cosmological systems. He decided when every single thing would come into existence and when it would cease to exist, he designed what things would combine into what other things to make new things and the rules that allow for the “when, where, how and why” of it happening. The nature of all things, how they behave, what they look like, what possibilities they hold are all decisions by God and because he alone is responsible for every single thing’s existence there is nothing that can happen that he wouldn’t know would happen because he has intimate knowledge of all of reality and created the rules and processes by which reality functions. Into this Universe he drops living containers for a thing he’s created called “souls” and he imbues these souls with this intangible concept we call “free will.” Supposedly this means we are free to choose for ourselves what decisions we will make and what actions we will undertake during the course of our lives. Logically, this poses a couple of obvious paradoxes.
First is the paradox of foreknowledge. God, existing outside of time as he does, already knows every decision I will make and every action I will take because, as you have said yourself, “He views the whole thing as a completed work.” An appropriate simile would be the old clichҩ about my life being an “open book” for God. As a result my life must play out to a specific conclusion because God already knows what that conclusion is. Because I am limited to experiencing my life on a moment to moment basis, in the “here and now” as it were, I cannot know what the future will bring and thus I have the illusion of free will, but the reality is that those decisions are the only choices I can possibly make because the end result is already a known conclusion. I can’t make any choices other than the ones God already knows I will make because he already knows how the book will end. Like any character in any book, I can’t rewrite the pages on my own to change the outcome, but presumably God could if he so wanted to. Therefore if at my birth God knows I will ultimately die without accepting him in my life and thus be cast into Hell the only way that outcome will change is if God were to rewrite the story. The only way that true free will can be possible is if the future is unknowable to God. If God doesn’t know what the future holds then he is not all-knowing and could even be fallible (e.g. wrong).
The second paradox that develops from the above model is the paradox of design. If everything in the Universe is the result of a conscious set of design decisions on the part of God and God is able to know all that will ever happen in part because he has the ultimate understanding of how everything fits together and how the rules that govern reality work then logically everything that happens in a certain way does so specifically because God designed it to happen that way. In other words, my decisions that lead me to doubt my faith and eventually become an atheist weren’t a result of free will, but because I was imbued with the qualities during the design process that would invariably lead me to the point I am at now. Indeed, if one accepts the idea that God has a plan and is actively designing everything to see that the plan comes to fruition then it’s entirely possible that I was designed to lose my faith from the beginning and the plan may involve my never returning to the fold. Yet by the rules spelled out in the Bible I would be cast into Hell at the end of my life. Again, an all-knowing and all-powerful God who’s responsible for everything that exists is also responsible for all that is wrong with everything that exists.
Now, let’s move on to the second point I made which you haven’t adequately addressed:
But the point is that God knows the outcome and isnt waiting for you decide, but He is giving YOU time to decide. HeҒs giving you plenty of opportunity to do the right thing.
It amazes me that you fail to see the pointlessness in the above statement. If God knows the outcome then why does he feel the need to give me time to decide? He already knows what I will decide and that decision cannot change because he already knows what it will be (see paradox 1 above). This makes my going through the motions completely unnecessary because the outcome cannot be anything other than what God already knows it will be. Even if you can take the leap of faith necessary to believe in the idea of a God that knows the outcome of everything that will ever happen yet somehow we still retain our free will that makes us responsible for our actions, that doesn’t eliminate the fact that if he already knows what the outcome will be then there is no point in bothering with letting it play out. He could just line us all up and walk down the line pointing to each of us in turn while mumbling “Heaven, Heaven, Hell, Hell, Hell, Hell, Heaven, Hell, Hell, Heaven, Heaven” and probably have us all sorted out before lunch time. What purpose, then, does giving us time to decide have if he already knows what our decision will be?
And in the second situation: it doesnt matter one wit if IҒm omniscient or not. If my kids can choose, then they will make some bad choices, no matter what my hopes and plans are. And yes, the idea is that in the end you will stand by the choice you make.
Yes, it does matter. By not having knowledge of what the future holds you don’t impact on the concept of free will. There is no paradox simply because you can’t know for certain what your kids will ultimately decide to do with regards to your hopes and plans. Trying to argue a point such as this by contrasting your relationship with your children to God’s relationship with his creation isn’t a very good comparison.
I never claimed to spend a lot of time at infidels.org, just long enough to read the material you referenced. And Im not trotting over there to read any of this material this time. The question isnҒt whether someone else thinks there is a contradiction. Its whether you here, the people IҒm conversing with think there is. Its interesting that you already realize that most of that stuff can probably be said to be out of context. They have an agenda at infidels.org, I believe that each of us is much more interested in the truth. Although IҒm beginning to question that.
Of course they have an agenda. You have an agenda or you wouldn’t be here. And, yes, I do feel the Bible has more than it’s share of contradictions. It also has some questionable precepts in my mind as well.
Of course I realize quotes from the Bible can be taken out of context much the same way you took quotes from Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein out of context to support your points, something you didn’t seem to think was a bad thing to do at the time. I believe your exact response to that was along the lines of “I admit that I only used the part of the quote from Albert that supported my point. That may have been somewhat less than fully honest.” At which point you then went on to defend the practice as being acceptable for a couple of reasons. Now you seem to be suggesting that taking quotes out of context is a bad thing. Make up your fucking mind.
Oh wait, I see. It’s OK to take quotes out of context when it supports your point of view, but bad when it detracts from it. Yes, makes perfect sense now.
Yes, I am interested in discovering what the truth is. So far, however, I’ve yet to see much from you that would justify your arrogance in assuming what you’re pushing is the truth.
I will say that the Biblical teaching against murder is often confused with the idea that the Bible teaches against killing. This is blatantly wrong. The Bible teaches that societies have the right to defend themselves by both killing people of other societies and by killing their own citizens as a punishment for crimes. It is also clear that in the Bible, God instructed His people to commit genocide to remove all people from the land of Israel. And it wasnt just genocide, he instructed them to kill everything, even the livestock, and raze the buildings and destroy the belongings of those people. Unlike Islam, He did not instruct his people to do this whenever they wanted to expand the religion, just to clear that one particular place one particular time. Literally, He meant for them to ғkill them all and let God sort them out.
Indeed, acts like that are one of the big problems I have with the God described in the Bible. If he did exist, he has condoned and authorized acts that make him unworthy of worship in my mind. No God that condones and even demands genocide is a “loving and caring” God.
You guys caught me, itԒs true. Im human. Sometimes I use sarcasm, sometimes I attempt to bait you. I donҒt mind that you hold me to a standard, but I never claimed to be perfect, just forgiven. I certainly dont think any of you are inexplicably stupid҅ avoiding the truth, maybe.
Once again with your double standards. It’s OK for you to name call because you never claimed to be perfect, only forgiven, yet you accuse me of engaging in nothing more than name calling simply because I said “Not being based on reason or logic most people of faith are immune from the paradoxes their definitions of God tend to cause.” The reality is that most “believers” are practicing the same faith their parents practiced. In other words, the decision to believe isn’t based on any time spent reasoning out why they believe or developing a logical thought process as to why their religion is the right one, but because they “inherited” their religion from their parents and were raised in it. My observation isn’t an insult, it’s a statement based on reality.
Had I said, “Most believers are too fucking stupid to realize the paradoxes their definitions of God end up causing” THEN I would have been simply name-calling.
I also love how when people don’t agree with your argument you like to claim we are “avoiding the truth, maybe”. You claim you’re not perfect, but it doesn’t occur to you that you could be wrong. Almost like you thought you were, well, perfect.
And its true, I think pride is the root of all sin. Even from a secular viewpoint, I think I could make that argument stick. And yes, IҒm far from free of pride. But I am certainly not posting here out of a sense of superiority. I already have stated my motives, which is far more than any of you have done, so I resent the accusation.
Well, you could have fooled me. You’ve exuded a sense of superiority since the first day you showed up. You leave one with the impression that you’ve come here to set us heathens straight because you’ve got it all figured out and anyone who doesn’t agree is just avoiding the truth, or possibly stupid. No, nothing superior about that.
I’ve stated my motives many times throughout this website, but it appears you’ve limited yourself to this one thread and my wish list so you may not be aware of what my motives are.
Someone needs to tell me what the word spiritual means. If you mean a searching out of the truth about the nature of our existence, I would say that anyone whos not thought about it should. And each person needs to examine their own life in light of the truth they discover. I donҒt think most people do enough of that. But I couldnt say that about anyone whoҒs taken the time to read this thread.
I’d agree with your statement that anyone who’s not thought about it should and that each person should examine their life in light of the truth they discover. That’s how I got to viewpoint I have today. Again, something we agree upon. We just disagree on what the truth is.
This is more ironic than you may think. I use that argument all the time against predestination types. Im going to try to explain something that IҒm pretty sure you wont understand. Not because IҒm superior, but because if youve never experienced it, itҒs not that easy to understand.
He says, and then proceeds to try and explain it. You’ve got this irony thing down pat.
Suppose you went to a Dentist and found out you needed a root canal. You get the work done, and your mouth is better, in fact your overall health is better from not having all that poison from infections in your body. If you didnt know the outcome would be good, youҒd never let someone yank a nerve out of your mouth. And you couldnt do it at all without the dentist. ItҒs the same way with loving others for me. Basically, I got into computers because I dont like people. But when I follow the command to love you, I feel better, indeed I AM better. But IҒd never do it on my own, in fact I know I could not do it on my own. Yes, sometimes, in the beginning, its mechanical, but with a little perseverance, it quickly becomes heartfelt. So itҒs not because I want to, its because I must. I guess in a sense, it is self-serving, but that is hardly the motivation. And even if it was, is that a bad thing? I mean, if someone just does things for you and cares for you and loves you -Җbut their original intent was that they would derive some pleasure from doing that, is that bad? In fact wouldnt that describe your relationship with your significant other?
No, actually, it wouldn’t. Unlike you, I do like people in general and I don’t need an outside agent to command me to love others before being able to do so. Your comparison between Dentistry and being able to love others may be apt for you, but I don’t think it applies to most folks. It certainly doesn’t apply well to me. How then do you explain your need for a God to be able to care about others whereas I have no belief in such a being yet find it easy to care about others? Based on your explanation I should be a completely self-centered, inconsiderate, uncompassionate individual. Perhaps that’s how you view me, but there are others who would disagree.
More ironic still, a fiery furnace is exactly what the worshipers of Baal did give to their children. But the Bible does not say any of us will go to a fiery furnace, that punishment is written for Satan and his angels. The punishment for men that do not choose God is permanent and complete separation from Him. IsnҒt that what they want anyway? And isnt that pretty much what you would do with a child that never loved you? Eventually, after decades of trying to bring them to a relationship with yourself, youҒd sever your ties with them. And its not clear that even after death you cannot yet chose to accept Christ. Try reading ғThe Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, he does a very interesting work on that topic.
No, that’s not what I would do. Even if my daughter were to decide she doesn’t love me and decades were to pass, I would never sever all ties with her. She would always be my daughter and I would always be there if she wanted me to. Perhaps that’s what you would do, but don’t assume everyone else would as well.
I want to know how waiting on others before waiting on yourself is prideful. It seems to defy the very definition. I think itԒs closer to the truth that you just dont believe that anyone would think of someone else before themselves, and you figure I must have some hidden agenda. To the contrary, IҒve been ever forthright in my agenda. Again, I cannot say the same for any of you.
Being one who tries very hard to think of others before himself, I don’t find it hard to believe that quality is possible in others. I will leave judgment on how good a job I do at that task to my friends and relatives, but it is a quality I do try to engender in myself and my daughter.
Have you considered the idea that your actions do not look like you’re trying to put the interests of others ahead of your own? Holding a door open for someone is thinking of others first. Planting your hands firmly in their backs and trying to shove them through the door is not. You admit you have room for improvement in yourself, that you are not perfect, yet you set yourself up as an indisputable dispenser of the truth. That’s not only prideful, it’s arrogant.
Ive never lumped all non-Christian belief together. IҒve taken you each at your word, in fact, Ive rather insisted on that point, not letting you just quote others. Why must you insist that I stand for and represent everyone who ever claimed they were Christian? I do not. You want to attack the Bible, IҒll defend that. But the stuff you quote here offends me a great deal more than it could possibly offend you. As far as I know, the guy on that web-site likely is an atheist thats trying to give people a reason to hate Christianity.
We don’t have to do that. A lot of Christians do a good job of that without our help. One need only pick up a newspaper on any given day to see all manner of reasons to disapprove of the Christian religion in all its forms.
I do not know all that God thinks, I do accept the Bible as a guide to things HeҒd like me to know. I practice what I know the best I can. So yes, I agree, it is good to have the creator-of-all, and the book He provided on my sideӔ. Pretty sure its the other way around, though. And, just like you, I think IҒve got the right answer. The big difference I see is that I extend my hand to you and say let us look at the answers we have found and discuss them together rationallyӔ. But you begin by saying I hate everything you stand forӔ before you even know me. Youre the one making assumptions about me, not the other way around. Again, come up with a specific contradiction, and letҒs discuss it. Since they are so obvious, and there are so many of them, this should be a slam-dunk for you.
You should go back through and re-read this thread. You’ve made numerous assumptions and lay claims to similes that you seem to think apply to everyone without question yet you repeatedly claim not to be engaging in such activities.
As for the contradictions in the Bible, if you wish to insist on playing that game then let’s start with a simple one:
http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?language=english&version=NIV&passage=Mark+15%3A25&x=13&y=10”>Mark 15:25 “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.”
http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?language=english&version=NIV&passage=John+19%3A14-15&x=0&y=0”>John 19:14-15 “And about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out . . . crucify him.”
Surely you can explain the three hour difference?
I agree completely, I could have written this myself, except, I believe that for all practical purposes, standing on your own understanding amounts to believing that you are right.
Believing you are right and stating unequivocally that you are right are two different things. You have made statements that seem to indicate that you believe that anyone who disagrees with you is either stupid or dishonest (read: avoiding the truth).
Its just that as soon as I say that I am Christian, tons of assumptions are made about who I am and what that means. Unfortunately, many have false ideas of what that means, or what it should mean.
Oh, and that never happens to people who admit to being atheist or Pagan or Muslim or what have you. Welcome to the club, pal. Get used to it.
There are many religions like the JWs and the Catholics that claim to be Christian, and are patently not, which confuses the issue even further.
There are 33,800 Christian denominations around the world according to the year 2000 World Christian Encyclopedia. What makes you the final authority on which ones are and which ones aren’t “truly” Christian? Why should I accept your claim of being the one-true version over the claims of the Catholics or the Jehovah Witnesses claim of being the one-true version? I’m sure I could find more than a few Catholics and JW’s, along with many other denominations, who’d tell me you’re full of shit.
The point about pride in this has more to do with saying that you are the final arbiter of right and wrong. When you get to that point, then you have put yourself in the place of God. IҒd call that prideful.
Seems to me you’re doing just that by categorically stating that Catholics and JW’s are not “true” Christians. So tell me again how you are not being prideful?
The atheist must do this, as he believes there is no higher authority than himself. Put into practice, this is anarchy, which I would call a bad thing any standard.
Obviously you’ve never studied up on Secular Humanism. Belief in a God or any kind of “higher authority” is not necessary for morality or for a functioning society. Many of the Founding Fathers valued reason over faith when establishing a new country:
- The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.
—John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” [1787-88]
Sounds like John Adams felt there was no need to go higher than man himself in the process of launching this great nation known as America. In many respects, the United States of America is a perfect example of a society founded in part by men with no higher authority than themselves. Do you consider the USA to be in total anarchy and therefore a “bad thing” by any standards?
Sorry for the long post, but there is a lot of meat in all this. Many of these areas deserve more depth of discussion, and I hope they get it. BTW, Les, Checked your wish list, did you update it? Wish I knew how yall do that nifty blue box quote thingy.
I updated it today. As for the quote box, simply start anything you wish to quote with ‹blockquote› and then finish it with ‹/blockquote› and you’ll be all set.