Ultimate Questions: Can Objective Morality Exist Without God?

Can’t people who don’t believe in God be just as moral as those who do? Why   say that the existence of human morality points to the existence of a “Higher Power”?

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If God does not exist then objective moral principles and obligations do not exist. Morality would only be a matter of individual or cultural opinion. But this would mean that torturing babies for fun, rape, & child abuse are not really objectively wrong, and are only a matter of opinion. How likely is it, though, that these atrocities are not really objectively wrong? Can you live with this conclusion? Our deepest intuitions inform us that these actions are horribly wrong.

This is really a summary of a moral argument for God’s existence. Formally it looks like this:

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral principles & obligations do not exist
  2. Objective moral principles & obligations do exist
  3. Therefore, God exists

Consider premise 2. By objective we mean independent of opinion, just like 2 + 2 = 4 is objectively true even if everyone in the world disagreed. Despite people’s claims to being relativists, most people live as if they do believe in objective moral principles & obligations. It’s easy to say there are no objective moral principles & obligations, but it’s much more difficult to live as if there are none.

The judgments we make when ourselves and others are unjustly treated, like in the above atrocities, reveal what we really believe about morality, regardless of what we say we believe. We believe that these atrocities are moral abominations, not just infringements of mere social conventions or personal dislikes. If objective moral principles & obligations do not exist where does our sense of duty and obligation come from?

This leads us to premise 1. If there is no God it is difficult to see how there could be any objective foundation, any universal standard for good and evil. How do you get ethics from only different arrangements of space, time, matter and energy? A purely materialistic universe would be morally indifferent. We would have only individual or cultural opinion, but no objectively binding moral obligations!

Some have suggested that we can provide an objective foundation for morality without appealing to God. Morality has just evolved over the centuries, they suggest, because it promotes human flourishing and survival. Whatever promotes human flourishing and survival is good. Whatever doesn’t promote human flourishing and survival is bad. That is all we need for objectivity in morality, they claim.There is no need for God.

But if God does not exist, the critical assumption that human beings are objectively valuable is not available. Humans, like everything else in the universe, would be just accidental arrangements of atoms, and therefore, we could not justifiably declare that humans are objectively valuable. Furthermore why think the morality of the human species, above all other species, is objectively binding rather than just our opinion?

Moreover, if morality evolved because it produced survival benefits, we would not have objective moral principles & obligations. We would sense that objective moral obligations exist, but they really wouldn’t. Once we’ve figured out that our feeling of morality with regard to say, rape, is just a biological adaptation inculcated into us over millions of years, then we would have no reason to regard rape as objectively wrong anymore.

Since, we know that objective moral principles & obligations do exist, and since they cannot exist without God, it follows that God exists. (modus tollens)

If the God of classical theism existed, an objective foundation for morality would exist. God’s holy and good nature would be the objective standard. God’s nature would be expressed through divine commands which would flow necessarily from his moral nature. Thus we would have objective moral principles & obligations.

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96 thoughts on “Ultimate Questions: Can Objective Morality Exist Without God?

  1. Murchad99

    Hello again, Jamie…

    ” no one needs to teach children unethical behaviour. It seem the natural thing is to be self-centered and unaware of the impact of that selfishness on those around us. In fact ethical behaviour seems anything but instinctual but rather something we work on through our whole life.”

    Well that’s true to an extent. Children may act in ways we consider “bad” because they have not mastered rationalization and emotional restraint. Se are born self-centered because it’s all we know, and social awareness is learned through often difficult and embarrassing lessons.

    Consider the naturalistic view: we are individually selfish because that promotes survival of the individual. The fact that we are taught the majority of morals by our parents and culture would not diminish the legitimacy of the natural progression by which we arrived at these morals as a culture or species. What we teach children is the product of that progression much the same way that students learn science from the accumulation of our knowledge, not from spending decades reinventing the wheel. But we are social creatures … we had to be and evolve to become as such… and the characteristics that stem from reciprocity that promote social cohesion/join effort/shared resources/mutual defense would have been selected for. Therefore, selfishness begins to diminish in importance; in excess it begins to outweigh its usefulness by causing social conflict, and so our social ethics naturally develop to discourage it at face (while privately most continue to try to be as selfish as they can get away with, either with others or with their own emotional sense of right). When you say ethical behavior what you’re describing is behavior that conforms to a certain moral configuration, when in reality even behavior you might call immoral is a combination of competing ethical values, instincts, emotions and intellectual rationalization. Our ability to see beyond our animal instincts, and our emotionally immature impulses… to factor in a variety of values and experiences, to establish goals and rationalize outcomes … seems a product of our complex human brain; this also explains why we see evidence of communal ethics and ethical behavior in some of the more intelligent species of animals. This has rewarded us greatly as a species, and historically it’s been in our interest to develop and enforce systems of morality that further this social progression (at least on some level and by some means).

    “while we were Created in the Image of God so that we could relate to Him in a way that is unique amongst all of the rest of Creation, we turned our back on that primary relationship with God because we wanted to be the maker of our own destiny. But that ignores the fact that God made us for a specific purpose and when we reject that purpose our lives follow a path of self-destruction.”

    I’m still hazy on how we arrived at our imperfection: either perfection created imperfection (which seems logically contradictory and morally indefensible), or perfection creates perfection which then chooses to become imperfect (which also seems contradictory as choosing imperfection is by its very nature a sign of imperfection, causally prior to the choice itself). Which do you subscribe to and why?

    If morality is objective and what you call ethical behavior is the objective goal, why would it not be inherent? Why would we enter the world with an “unethical” instinct to spend our entire life fighting against the nature with which we were born… if it was by design? Wouldn’t our inherent nature be to follow the objectively correct path, and we would have to step away from our nature and “choose” to follow an incorrect, deviant path?

    Much of this bit we discussed in our previous conversation, so I’d like to jump back and answer some points from your second-to-last post that I may have overlooked:

    “You ask a great question: why must God suffer in our place? Let me start by saying He did not have to. He chose to! There was nothing that compelled Him except His love for us. But the only way for our rebellion to be dealt with the penalty had to be paid. God could not arbitrarily dismiss our rebelliousness.”

    But my question isn’t just why did God have to, but why did he have to choose to? Why could forgiveness not be arbitrary? When you say a penalty has to be paid…. who sets the penalty? To whom is the payment made? As there is nothing greater than God, one must conclude God is repaying the debt… to himself. Arbitrarily. Why?

    I posted this paragraph previously, and I feel as though the points are still valid and need to be addressed:

    —-
    Why must God suffer in our place? This is the question at the root of the loophole argument and once I don’t feel is adequately answered. Suffering, as with all things in the universe, is a creation of the Creator. For whom, for what, for which higher purpose or rule or law must God suffer on our behalf? If the law is his will, and his will is that we cannot be saved except by the death of a perfect man, why is his will such? Why does he wish this, or will it, and be unable to will any other alternative to address the imperfection of his creations? Why could God not love the man he created with a strong tendency towards rebellion equally as skeptics, as rebels, as agnostics just as easily as when we prostrate ourselves and humbly attempt to follow his chosen path? And if he does love us equally in sin as in piety, why was his Will to open the gates of heaven by killing a man, and not to simply give us the knowledge and understanding to see the wisdom of the correct path?

    “That would have been contrary to His nature as a God who is just.”

    This is the problem with divine command theory vs. extant objective morality. What does “just” mean? Does it have some meaning outside of God’s will? If justice is merely being held to God’s will, then describing God as just is redundant and pointless. If not… everything about this description implies there are some laws of justice or equality or comeuppance that even God has to abide by. Again… if a payment must be made, who or what is the recipient?

    ” It is like if I steal a car and my dad chooses to turn himself in saying he committed the crime. If he is charged, convicted, sentenced and incarcerated for the appropriate amount of time”

    But the rules are set by, and justice administered by, a power bigger than your father…. the analogy fails if your father is the sole source of law and authority, answering to no one. No one ever HAD to be punished for anything unless there were laws in place…. and there are no rules or laws above those laid forth by God. So any punishment eventually comes back directly and rests solely upon God’s will: does he want to punish you, or doesn’t he? And why sometimes yes sometimes no?

    ” then comes to light that I was the one who stole the car there is no penalty that I have to face. … It was already paid for by my dad and I can no longer be charged for that crime.”

    Not to belabor the analogy, but my understanding of current US law is that you could be charged with the same crime as your father if you were both involved… or just you if it was established that your father was wrongfully convicted. From a religious moral perspective, that certainly wouldn’t ever relieve you of your culpability in the eyes of God unless accompanied by confession and repentance (as required by God for reasons that appear arbitrary)… or …. unless your father was Jesus.

    Also from the previous post, but perhaps more related to epistemology than morality:

    “You are also right that if God wanted to give humanity what we needed to follow His path He would have done so – and He has!”

    I’d like to explore what you mean by “what we needed”, but before we do I want to ask you a few questions to establish a basis for argument:

    I’m assuming you are convinced that God exists, that he sent his “son”, that he wants us to do good, that he seeks our salvation etc. For the sake of brevity and clarity, let’s stick to the first one.
    What was it exactly that convinced you? How did you become convinced God exists?

    Has God ever spoken to you? Were you convinced by evidence in the form of the bible, or philosophical arguments, or human experiences? Was it conviction from other people who had your complete trust? Was it some combination or all these factors?

    And when you became convinced that God exists, did you still have Free Will?

  2. ShelleyShelley

    Dear Father God.
    Lord I lift all who read this article that they will know that God is God and he dose exist, because none of us or the earth and planets would exist. in Jesus Name amen

  3. Chuck

    Hi Murchad. :)

    “I’m still hazy on how we arrived at our imperfection: either perfection created imperfection (which seems logically contradictory and morally indefensible), or perfection creates perfection which then chooses to become imperfect (which also seems contradictory as choosing imperfection is by its very nature a sign of imperfection, causally prior to the choice itself). Which do you subscribe to and why?”

    Only God could exist in perfection at all times. The best anything else can hope for his to be perfect relative to something else. A ball maybe a perfect fit for a particular hole, but this means it is going to be imperfect for many other holes for example. To create another being that is perfect at all times it would have to be an exact replica of Himself wouldn’t it?

    So to decide if we are perfect or not, we would have to know what(if any) the intention of our existence is. We may all be perfect for a particular purpose or situation but choose to stray from it. Perhaps we can only reach perfection by freely choosing right from wrong. There are many possibilities outside of the 2 you left the author.

    “But my question isn’t just why did God have to, but why did he have to choose to? Why could forgiveness not be arbitrary? When you say a penalty has to be paid…. who sets the penalty? To whom is the payment made? As there is nothing greater than God, one must conclude God is repaying the debt… to himself. Arbitrarily. Why?”

    The answer is obvious here.. He didn’t have to choose, He chose to choose. Leading by example is a great way to lead, probably the best way.

    “This is the problem with divine command theory vs. extant objective morality. What does “just” mean? Does it have some meaning outside of God’s will? If justice is merely being held to God’s will, then describing God as just is redundant and pointless. If not… everything about this description implies there are some laws of justice or equality or comeuppance that even God has to abide by. Again… if a payment must be made, who or what is the recipient?”

    Part of being perfect is choosing the right path at all times. Saying “God is just” is saying God will choose correctly.. so God has the ability to choose correctly at all times and the wisdom to do so. It does not imply that He is bound to abide by these laws at all, there is only the possibility that He is, with an equal(at least) possibility that He is choosing to abide by these laws. You just arbitrarily chose to give more weight to one possibility rather than the other.

    Like J.Caesar said “Men willingly believe what they wish”. It is a trap we must all be careful to overcome.

    “And when you became convinced that God exists, did you still have Free Will?”

    Why would belief in God limit freewill? and if it does how does a belief in no God/or lack of belief in God(s) if you prefer, limit your freewill any less?

    “Has God ever spoken to you? Were you convinced by evidence in the form of the bible, or philosophical arguments, or human experiences? Was it conviction from other people who had your complete trust? Was it some combination or all these factors?”

    If he says God has spoken to him will you believe him? It is a subjective experience that is worthless to you. I’m sure you would prefer to stick to objective facts in most cases, why not here?

    Personally I find the cosmological arguments of Aristotle and Aquinas to be convincing on a philosophical level.

    Scientifically, there is nothing to convince me otherwise. The scientific laws of biogenesis and the 2nd law of thermodynamics still stand, as does cause and effect. While these do not conclusively prove Gods existence they do lend support to it imo.

    I am not a Christian so this may not apply to the author but as far as I know none of my beliefs are contradicted by our current scientific knowledge while the views of atheists are. There is nothing in science that suggests life came from, or even can come from inorganic matter by it self yet that is exactly what must of happened, to an atheist at one point in time there was no life, then there was. Since we have no knowledge or experience that suggests this is possible there is no reason to believe that it is.

    So either we have an infinite regress of life giving birth to new life or we have a timeless, always living God. Given the unlikelihood of infinite regress, I believe that timeless God is the logical conclusion.

    Similarly there is no instance of change in our universe that is not caused by something external to itself, so we are again left with either an infinite regress, which has never been observed or a Prime Mover.

  4. Murchad99

    Hello Chuck,

    “So to decide if we are perfect or not, we would have to know what(if any) the intention of our existence is. We may all be perfect for a particular purpose or situation but choose to stray from it. Perhaps we can only reach perfection by freely choosing right from wrong. There are many possibilities outside of the 2 you left the author.”

    Mmnot really. Regardless of how many different possible variations and permutations and applications you generate with regards to the concept of perfection or “relative” perfection, the fact remains that an imperfect being was deliberately and intentionally created by a perfect being. I say deliberately and intentionally, because to say otherwise would invalidate the combination of omniscience and status of omnipotent creator… such a being does not roll dice, take a chance, hope for the best… such a being knows ever choice a man will ever make before ever creating him, and must thus deliberately and intentionally choose to make that man and those choices a reality.

    Any being who chooses the “wrong” path is by the very nature of that choice imperfect. A being who is perfect for a specific task or role who chooses to fail at that role is even more demonstrably imperfect. The idea of having a specific task or role, btw, seems to hint at infringing conceptually on free will, but I’ll assume an argument could be made that God designed and equipped us to be perfect in one respect or in one role and gave us the free will to be a condemnable failure at most or all other roles; I would question the value of such free will).

    To say man has the potential to be perfect based on the choices he makes is thus not logically consistent, because if man was perfect he would always make the right choice … not potentially make the right choice. Within the context of free will, one would have to argue that God could not make a man who was perfect insofar as he always freely chooses to do the right thing… because if he could, then there’s no excuse for not making all of them that way. If you have a theory as to why God could not or did not do this, I’m interested to hear. I’ve heard the argument made by Christians and Christian apologists, humorously despite the fact that Christianity is based around a man who was “100% human” who had free will but always made the “right” choice.

    “The answer is obvious here.. He didn’t have to choose, He chose to choose.”

    This doesn’t really get at the crux of my question. God can choose to choose to choose to choose, but inevitably the choice to require payment for sin is arbitrary. The punishment is arbitrary. God’s decision not to forgive without requirement is arbitrary. God wanting to save us from the punishment he has arbitrarily chosen to inflict upon us is redundant and unnecessary.

    Why is it good or correct to be “good”, other than because God says so? Is there some necessity or reason or principle aside from God’s will? If there is an answer to that, then we’re positing a moral truth outside of and not stemming from God. If there is no answer to that, then we should be able to acknowledge it is, by definition, arbitrary.

    “Saying “God is just” is saying God will choose correctly.. so God has the ability to choose correctly at all times and the wisdom to do so.”

    But again, saying God will choose correctly is redundant, if God is the source of what is or is not correct. This is circular, or at worst implies there is a concept of “correct” that even God can (and more importantly CANNOT) choose “correctly”. Murchad will *always* choose to act Murchadily, at all times, and has the wisdom to do so. In fact, he is fundamentally incapable of doing otherwise.

    “none of my beliefs are contradicted by our current scientific knowledge while the views of atheists are.”

    If by that you mean some people who call themselves atheists, fine. but I didn’t get that sense. I don’t know your beliefs with respect to the natural world and thus couldn’t comment on whether they run afoul of science, but similarly you don’t know my beliefs… particularly not from the label “atheist”. Because as I’m sure you know, Atheism is not an ideology or a belief system. Atheism provides no beliefs… sponsors or imposes no truths… offers no explanations or cosmological theories.
    None. Zippo.
    Let’s not fall into the theist claptrap of trying to assign all sorts of baggage to the term. I don’t have to accept the hypothesis of abiogenesis to rightfully reject creationism… nor do I have to assert metaphysical naturalism in order to reject theistic evolution on the basis that the latter lacks evidence and justification for belief.

    “Why would belief in God limit freewill?”

    My goal here was to establish a baseline before making a specific argument. I’ll assume you feel that being convinced of something, regardless of how, does not rob you of your free will to choose. This is an important point. Now… neuroscience and psychology have demonstrated that one cannot choose what one does or does not believe any more than one chooses the thoughts that pop into their head, and that choices often (potentially always) occur and/or can be influenced or manipulated subconsciously (whereas the conscious mind would be a logical requirement for free will). For the sake of this argument let’s just assume that being convinced of something does not detract from “free will”, and agree that being convinced of something results in believing that it’s true.

    You, for instance, indicate you were convinced by several classical philosophical arguments. These arguments were made to you, influenced you, resulted in your acceptance that a particular proposition was true (i.e. belief). You had requirements before you (or your subconscious mind, either one) would be able or willing to accept the proposition as true. You needed some evidence, or reasoning, or justification, or demonstration… and you got it in the form of Aristotle and Aquinas. Your requirements were met. Other people got it from their parents and community, or from a book, or introspective meditation, or from a voice in the clouds.

    We can reasonably deduce that every man/woman has a certain requirement, a certain level which must be reached in order for their mind to accept something and thus believe it. Similarly, we should be able to reasonably deduce that a mortal mind, conscious or unconscious, cannot have an infinite amount of doubt or skepticism… that a mortal mind must have a reachable limit at which point the evidence or the reasoning or the revelation is beyond a functioning mind’s ability to deny. Let’s remember…. this requirement is met for the average human on a daily basis by unsubtle commercials and cliche-wielding salesmen. As a species, we have historically been relatively easy to convince of any number of things, often with very little effort.

    When I said “convincing argument”, Jamie indicated there were arguments or evidences available that were convincing “enough”. But that is purely a subjective consideration. A convincing argument is, simply, an argument that convinces. An argument… which results in the person hearing it accepting it as true. If the subject is not convinced, the argument was by definition “not convincing”.

    I was not convinced by the evidence or arguments that convinced you. And rather than debate at length why I *should* have been, or why I (and many others) see insurmountable flaws and fallacies in those classical arguments … the point I want to discuss is this:

    If God has the knowledge to know exactly what it would take to convince me (Omniscience)…
    …and if God has the ability to bring about whatever evidence or reasoning or logic or demonstration or revelation it would take to convince me (Omnipotence)…
    … and if God has the desire that I be convinced of the truth (Omnibenevolence)….
    … and if I, as a mortal man, have finite and mortal requirements for belief that *can* be met, and *must* be met in order for me to believe….
    … and if providing an argument sufficient to convince me would *not* deprive me of my free will….

    …. why, if God exists, am I and millions of others around the world _not_ convinced? Why, essentially, are we still atheists?

    Why have I not been presented with a “convincing argument”?

    Of course, this was the argument made to Jamie and other Christians in the thread. If you’re a deist who doesn’t require god to be “all-good” (another circular/redundant description) then you wouldn’t have to explain why God needed to care one way or another.

  5. Chuck

    Hi Murchad,

    Thanks for your timely and thoughtful response and my apologies for not returning to check for your reply sooner.

    “the fact remains that an imperfect being was deliberately and intentionally created by a perfect being.”

    The fact remains that a perfect being, in the sense I take you to mean would just be a replica of itself.

    “I say deliberately and intentionally, because to say otherwise would invalidate the combination of omniscience and status of omnipotent creator… such a being does not roll dice, take a chance, hope for the best… such a being knows ever choice a man will ever make before ever creating him, and must thus deliberately and intentionally choose to make that man and those choices a reality.”

    I have a problem with this interpretation of omniscience, for one.. where does it come from? For God to know the future would mean the future is set in stone, for the future to be set in stone would eliminate freewill. What is the future? Where does it exist? The past existed, the present is existing.. the future? It is just a possible existence and therefor doesn’t exist. It is not there to know, so making it a requisite for omniscience makes no sense. If you know everything that has happened and everything that is happening then you know everything there is to know and are omniscient. Sure such a being could accurately, perhaps perfectly predict the future, but predicting, no matter how accurate is not knowing.

    “The idea of having a specific task or role, btw, seems to hint at infringing conceptually on free will, but I’ll assume an argument could be made that God designed and equipped us to be perfect in one respect or in one role and gave us the free will to be a condemnable failure at most or all other roles; I would question the value of such free will).”

    That would depend on how specific the task(s)/role(s) were. For example a person could be naturally more intune with animals than average, this does not give them a limitaion of freewill, they could choose from a wide variety of animals to work with, or choose to ignore that part of themselves altogether and everything inbetween. Now if it were more specific like the person was really good with penguins and nothing else and happened to live in Saudi Arabia, then sure, I see your point.

    Also, it does not follow that being imperfect for a task means that you will fail at it.

    “To say man has the potential to be perfect based on the choices he makes is thus not logically consistent, because if man was perfect he would always make the right choice … not potentially make the right choice.”

    This would be an artificial perfection, reducing us to robots(awesome robots, but still robots). If God couldn’t choose to be imperfect this would be a limitation on His omnipotence, what makes Him “All Good” is that He chooses to exist in this state at all times. Without choice our actions are meaningless, what is good about helping an old lady with her groceries if you could not choose to do otherwise? What is bad about taking another persons life if you could not choose to do otherwise?

    “If you have a theory as to why God could not or did not do this, I’m interested to hear.”

    I think I have covered this above but to summarize, If we were perfect in the same sense God is perfect(and that is the only way to be truly perfect), we would be no different to Him and I do not believe that would fit the intended purpose of our existence.. making our existence in such a state an imperfection in itself.

    “humorously despite the fact that Christianity is based around a man who was “100% human” who had free will but always made the “right” choice.”

    Again, I am not a Christian, but I do know a bit about Christianity and to state that they believe Jesus was 100% human is inaccurate. Their beliefs range from them considering him to be God, to being the Son of God(or somehow both) or simply a prophet who was created through divine intervention. Basically they consider him superhuman in some way, shape or form.

    “This doesn’t really get at the crux of my question. God can choose to choose to choose to choose, but inevitably the choice to require payment for sin is arbitrary.”

    Assuming I agree that Gods choice is arbitrary(which I don’t) isn’t it the same the other way around? The choice not to require payment would also be arbitrary and offers no benefits over the other options. But that line of thought gets us nowhere, what I’m really interested in is why we must assume that it really is arbitrary rather than God choosing the best method to achieve His goals? Like I said before, perhaps leading by example is important.

    “Why is it good or correct to be “good”, other than because God says so? Is there some necessity or reason or principle aside from God’s will? If there is an answer to that, then we’re positing a moral truth outside of and not stemming from God. If there is no answer to that, then we should be able to acknowledge it is, by definition, arbitrary.”

    The principle is that Gods will is correct, being correct is being inline with God and our reality is designed in a manner where this is “good” for us and those around us. Without God what is right and what is wrong is merely our own opinion. Just about any action becomes justifiable when you do not have ultimate justice as the benchmark.

    I am interested in your views on this question.
    “Murchad will *always* choose to act Murchadily, at all times, and has the wisdom to do so. In fact, he is fundamentally incapable of doing otherwise.”

    The difference here is that this claim is obviously false, the Murchad of today is I’m sure different to Murchad a decade ago, that Murchad was probably different to the Murchad a decade before that and one day Murchad may or may not cease to be. Although Murchad is always Murchad(or atleast until he dies), what it means to be Murchad has changed over time.

    “If by that you mean some people who call themselves atheists, fine. but I didn’t get that sense. I don’t know your beliefs with respect to the natural world and thus couldn’t comment on whether they run afoul of science, but similarly you don’t know my beliefs… particularly not from the label “atheist”. Because as I’m sure you know, Atheism is not an ideology or a belief system. Atheism provides no beliefs… sponsors or imposes no truths… offers no explanations or cosmological theories.”

    Well for one, there is the belief shared by atheists that theists are incorrect.. No? Otherwise it seems you are reffering to agnostism. Although atheism is a very broad set(s) of beliefs, it is a set none the less.

    “Let’s not fall into the theist claptrap of trying to assign all sorts of baggage to the term. I don’t have to accept the hypothesis of abiogenesis to rightfully reject creationism…”

    No you do not have to accept anything, however you would need to have some hypothesis of how we came to be without a God for you to have any relevant beliefs or ideas to share on the matter, which is what I am interested in learning. :)

    Basically I want to know if there is a logical reason for me to agree with your set of beliefs.

    Now… neuroscience and psychology have demonstrated that one cannot choose what one does or does not believe any more than one chooses the thoughts that pop into their head, and that choices often (potentially always) occur and/or can be influenced or manipulated subconsciously (whereas the conscious mind would be a logical requirement for free will).

    Interesting, could you point me to any studies confirming this? From what I have read, this applies to the most basic forms of decision making and is not applicable to more complex decision making processes. There is still A LOT of learning to do in neuro science.

    “For the sake of this argument let’s just assume that being convinced of something does not detract from “free will”, and agree that being convinced of something results in believing that it’s true.”

    Ok, but just to be clear, I do not consider being convinced of something, as a truth. Once you have been sure of something and then been wrong about it, even with something small like “I was sure I left my keys in the drawer”, when really you left them in your pocket for example, there is no way to be 100% sure about anything. For me “truths” are “That seems to be correct as far as I can tell”. With the knowledge that I do not have all the information neccessary to be absolutely positive about anything.

    “If God has the knowledge to know exactly what it would take to convince me (Omniscience)…
    …and if God has the ability to bring about whatever evidence or reasoning or logic or demonstration or revelation it would take to convince me (Omnipotence)…
    … and if God has the desire that I be convinced of the truth (Omnibenevolence)….
    … and if I, as a mortal man, have finite and mortal requirements for belief that *can* be met, and *must* be met in order for me to believe….
    … and if providing an argument sufficient to convince me would *not* deprive me of my free will….”

    How would evidence that you couldn’t possibly deny not deprive you of your free will? You are basically asking for evidence that would leave you no choice but to believe and at the same time be free to choose not to believe. Seems contradictory to me.

    Besides that if God brings about the evidence, then what have you done? God is not here to live our lives for us, or again we are reduced to awesome robots… or is puppets more fitting here.. lets go with robo-puppets, I would also assume we would have laser eyes in this form of existence. :D

    God has a desire that you seek truth, He has no desire or obligation to convince you of anything unless you want to be convinced. You seem to be able to predict the consequences of forcing us to believe, which I find very interesting and would like to know how you arrived at your conclusions.

    “…. why, if God exists, am I and millions of others around the world _not_ convinced? Why, essentially, are we still atheists?”

    Personally I think it was summed up best by Julius Caesar when he said, “Men willingly believe what they wish”. A trap we must all constantly struggle not to fall into.

    Imo, all the “flaws and fallacies” you claim exist, are themselves flawed and a logical explanation exists for all of them. Unfortunately there is no way to get to the heart of these without lengthy discussion.

  6. SharonSharon

    i sometines wonder on why and what God is up to in my life but also around us in the world just my thinking

  7. Brian Szucs

    There are a few things these arguments always overlook. And I will say mine is an opinion also.
    – Subjective and Objective are NOT mutually exclusive – hang this on your head when you re-validate your claims

    I’ll try here

    1. If God does not exist, objective moral principles & obligations do not exist

    – This is an opinion, of you, and unfortunately a lot of people but by no means everyone Why is that? You said that 2+2=4 is a universal truth right? Well, prove it? You know what, I believe you actually can. You can make an undeniable argument to the “objective truth” to this. Ok, well do it for “God does not exist, objective moral principles & obligations do not exist” PLEASE, I BEG YOU, PROVE THIS? And not by some argument in which you have a few presuppositions included. Such as the fact that subjective and objective are mutually exclusive. And that it CAN’T be evolution at work so we survive. There are actually scientists who have theorized, and have some convincing empirical data from tests that we as a species NEED to believe in a higher power or else we would all be depressed because nothing would matter. I can tell you their tests are light years ahead of any proposed test that “god” does exist. (and yes, I do believe there is something but I align myself more with very early Buddhism because they actually say you gotta WORK for it, and to NOT believe in anything you can’t yourself experience. And then they actually give a road map as to HOW to experience things and it is A LOT of work) Can’t it just be the fact that we do NOT understand the nature of nature at all? Why does it have to be some immoral white bearded “man” in the sky that is the reasoning for this? One that you “LEARNED” from others who have also learned from others, who also learned from others, who learned from others…. back to a time when rain, disease, earthquakes, floods, pretty much anything without a reason was blamed/accredited to a “god(s)” And this all begins with a “man” who “said” he spoke to “god” and said he will have many sons and “LAND”??? It also says this “man” lived to be 175. Do you think the laws of nature DIDN’T exist back then? Do you think the laws of nature were DIFFERENT back then? Do me a favor, go out in your backyard or any natural setting. Now imagine seeing a woman just sprout out of the earth after a rib was taken from a man (who by the way had to just appear from dirt) and see that rib planted in the ground like a seed and then see a full grown woman of child bearing age grow? Seriously? Is this what you believe was the start of humans? Do you also believe the earth is only around 6000 years old? If the answer is no, do you believe that humans lived here for over 200,000 years? Or at least 6000? If so, why only 2000 years ago did this “god” speak to a man to give him land? Why not the very beginning of man? What would it be like if “god” said this to my grandfather now? You know exactly what would happen, he would be put away, committed for being insane. Why? Because we know more “objective” things now. Ohhh, so you mean these “objective” things we KNOW to be TRUE now WEREN’T TRUE THEN?????? Why the hell didn’t Abraham get thrown into a loony bin? Because people were ignorant then. Their subjective (thought to be objective) thoughts were completely different than ours. How the hell can that be? Are you going to cherry pick only the “objective” facts that you think help support your case to believe? Really? Seriously? You do realize the belief in a higher power is diminishing all over the world and it is predicted that in 50 years less than 20% of the population will believe what you believe today? And back when your book was written I believe I read 100% believed in a higher power. Wake up man? How much to you actually read about this? How much do you question and then come up with answers that are VERY satisfying? I am obsessed with all of this and I’m sorry, the more I learn about the history of all religions, the history of people and just all the known and controversial issues, the less and less any of it seems to make sense to any “objective” person. It is incredibly hard to believe in the “you just gotta have faith” [expletive removed] as an answer to such core questions.

    2. Objective moral principles & obligations do exist

    – Yes, they do “appear” to exist in “some” of us. Couldn’t this be evolution at work to make sure we survive? Read history of the world as we perceive it, would you agree that humans were way more brutal in years past? Read your bible, isn’t it riddled with “immoral” acts of brutality? Even by your “god” by killing those poor first born kids who did absolutely NOTHING (if you believe any of it). Your Constantine, who really brought a, in my mind and yes opinion, a sick and weird symbol into Christianity. He is the one who brought a guy who has been killed and nailed to a cross in as a symbol. Oh yeah, that’s moral, and now you guys have them in the front of all your churches and then tell kids not to watch violent movies, HOLY CRAP!!! If you really think of this, its very ironic that you make such an argument with such a brutal symbol at the center of your belief system. And yes, you will say there are also stories of people in the bible who seem to express very moral decisions. And I say again, it makes perfect sense that our survival as a species has been embedded in us a thought process to ensure the survival of our actual species. You can’t discount this because science BARELY knows of 4.6% of what matter exists so this is the equivalent of being in a flat earth and you are the person who blames an earthquake, or even rain on a “god”. DOES THIS SOUND RIDICULOUS TO YOU? That “god” makes it rain or not? Well what gives? That was absolutely the “objective’ thoughts back then and you would be killed for NOT believing such ridiculousness. How can you see this but not even QUESTIONS the ridiculousness of your current claim? That is just shoving your head in the sand if you ask me. (and yes, I know, you didn’t but I told you anyway)

    One more question, the beginning of your bible, the start if you will. This all started because some old man said he spoke to a single god and that he said he should have some “land” and that there were “chosen” people. Are you kidding? It all began because of LAND ownership, give me a break. And “chosen” people? How immoral is that? Why were the Jews chosen and not some other group? Do you really think that a higher power gives two thoughts to an ethnicity or even our humanistic problems of land ownership? I actually do believe that seeing the slaughtering of babies as an immoral act as being subjective and we have been trained, conditioned, taught this. There are many animals in the wild that do exactly this and actually they CHOOSE babies over adults. Following this path, do you believe that ONLY humans have a “soul” that belongs to a higher power? I am hearing a faint yes. Ok then when your bible says;

    Genesis 1:21 – And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.

    why aren’t they bound by the same moralistic views that you believe we are? I think this just boils down to brain development and IQ. They can pretty much prove elephants are remorseful and are even self-aware (so are other animals) DO THEY HAVE SOULS?? If not, why the hell not? They seem to grieve exactly like us and they seem to have moral thoughts just like us. Is it easier to see that they have this awareness of not killing their own as a sense of survivability? Or are you going to say, “no, they probably have souls also”? Well if they do, then what is the marker to say that you DO NOT? IQ? Intelligent evolution? Self awareness? Do all of these things mark someone/something as having a soul? All I’m saying is to have a perceived “objective” question and answer in your mind about all the things that seem inconsistent. The fact of the history of humans, the fact of 1500 years going into writing a book (remember the telephone game can’t keep a story straight for 20 min), about the fact of all the ignorant superstitions back when it was written, the fact that it all starts with “LAND OWNERSHIP”. All of it that is personified and SCREAMS of the subtleties of the human condition.

    3. Therefore, God exists

    — That is almost the weakest argument I’ve seen. But I guess not, they are all weak.

    Just to clarify, I do think there is something we don’t understand (subjective). Actually even science claims we are missing 95% of the knowledge of how everything works. So you come to this conclusion of a “God” who actually cares about our day to day doings based off of, actually it started when we didn’t even understand 0.01% of science. If someone was having a seizure this use to be caused by a possession of the devil. THIS is where your belief structure has it roots, at a time when EVERYTHING was blamed or rooted in “god”. Don’t you think its time for a re-adjustment? For crying out loud, the earth was believed to be flat up until about 330 AD. Your book was written when there were all kinds of superstitions and ridiculous beliefs. PLUS the fact that I know you know about all the political alterations of your book to fit any given leaders agenda (Constantine etc…) How can you so blindly embed yourself in such a history of lies, deceit and agendas?

    And the stories, can’t you see how ridiculous it sounds? Your “god” is like an insecure girlfriend. “he” asked Abraham, the same guy he said he was going to give land to by the way, he asks him now to “kill your son Isaac”. No why is this? To prove that he believes. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is your moral “god”????? “god” says (in my mind in a very whiny teenage girl voice) “kill him to prove to me you love and believe in me”. And then at the last second “god” says, WAIT, don’t do that. If you really want to see something funny, go to YouTube and type in Louis CK god is an insecure girlfriend and although he is making it to be humorous, IT IS ACCURATELY TRUE.

    But, are you one of the believers that says, those stories are all just for the people who are not “ready” and that when one becomes ready the truth will become apparent?

    Really, subjective, objective, inter-subjective are all complimentary. Back in the days of a “flat” earth you would be one to say that the fact that earth is flat is objective. Actually there are some really big problems with today’s science that can make even the 4.6% we THINK we know completely wrong. Do you know about the Pioneer anomaly? And really the issues with gravity in general? Top scientists cannot explain this and maybe when they do come up with a solution it could break everything we think we know. So even science is subjective to what we objectively observe. There is quantum entanglement that makes no sense. There is M theory which believes we live within 11 dimensions. All theories because nobody can explain many things about nature.

  8. Brian Szucs

    You probably just took how I ended that as “proof that god exists” didn’t you?

    Of course you may, well as I read it my perception is to say that we are in a modern ignorant flat earth type consciousness, but maybe a little further.

    If a person having a seizure is ridiculous to think of a demonic possession ( or do you actually still believe that?)
    Then why is your reasoning for a god existing based off of a mutually self-crated rule that subjective and objective are mutually exclusive?

    After I wrote this I just poked around and found there are people out there, some who were lifelong ministers and DID believe, who all actually took a step back and wanted to just validate their belief structure instead of just blindly following it like an ignoramus. It seems they came to a lot of the same arguments that I independently came to also. My history, I went to Catholic school for 9 years and even in 2nd grade I had questions about religion that the religious teacher could not even answer, she said she had to get back to me, yet never did. 2nd GRADE????

    If you are a person who NEVER questions why, then I understand. But I have found by not questioning why, we so blindly follow our embedded patterns so easily and it really doesn’t serve anyone and creates conflict like this. I don’t want to conflict with anyone but I really get baffled by some really smart people who wholeheartedly believe some really ridiculous stuff. I have found out that I know WAY more about their bible and history that always make them say “that can’t be”. So it appears my conversation is the first time they are actually asking WHY. Most really don’t know it at all. I don’t blame them, they were taught a very limited view, just like our society, and you have to put forth effort to expand what is known. I don’t know all of it but I know more than most I have these conversations with. Which is why I think I am trying out my logic online finally. I want to go further than the silent lambs that I am restricted to by vicinity. You guys look all the same but I am guessing I will find a better quality out here.

    Look, I will absolutely listen to your case. I would LOVE for you to make a compelling argument. PLEASE, PLEASE can you? But WHY will you not even look at the things I, or others are saying and use it as a litmus test to help prove your faith more (or not), even if its’ just to prove that you know your faith better.

    Questioning is NOT WRONG? I think it is essential and if we never asked the question “WHY” we would still be cave-people and actually with out trying to answer “why” your entire bible would NOT exist. Well, that was written at a time when life was ignorant and everyone was superstition. Can you just ask “WHY” now, in this modern time?

    Please, please, please can you touch on, in a reasonable way a counter defense? I am not thick-headed, I can admit if I am wrong but you really have to make a compelling argument. I know you think you did, I would be willing to break down each one with you so we can fully understand each statement. I know a lot is believed because a part may be true and we kind of keep the baby and all the bathwater as a result. There are tons of preconceived notions in a lot of these debates, with me also, and I don’t realize them all. But I can tell you I try to find them. I do not think you do at all.

    And I said earlier that in 50 years most will not believe in what you do because in this modern time, people are more educated, smarter and less superstitious so they are questioning these stories of days gone by and realizing we need to readjust.

    Actually to your argument, I do think people are moral, they know what is right and wrong. This can very well be from conditioning, I think you or someone said before that kids do act selfish UNTIL THEY ARE TRAINED. Holy shit, it actually was even said yet no one noticed.

    But even if we do intrinsically feel mostly compelled to be moralistic, we aren’t always that way. And actually isn’t it only on the big things. Isn’t lying an immoral act? EVERYONE LIES. EVERYONE. AND CONSISTENTLY. To them selves the most actually. This is why the movies that have ONE person who sticks to what he “knows” (has been taught) to be right, we are inspired. Because it is few and far between. Do you really think we are all moral? Oh wait, now it could take on the “HOW” moral are we? You realized the slippery slope that just appeared right? (I also realize this is a dangling argument but my post is getting too long AGAIN to expand on this idea but I would be happy to, I really think we can create more of a combined society than split)

    Actually that just brought up a whole new line of thought for me. We absolutely are not. Yes, WE mostly won’t kill, but I think we won’t kill because we’ve been taught this, and we would be punished by the law. And going back to the reasoning the diplomats used by putting this in the bible, as I believe, you would be sent to “Hades” which if you read was a real place outside of town where diseased bodies were burnt. How the hell did that turn into hell??? I also think we are more educated and by some accounts smarter. What about other countries, they “seem” so have a looser belief on this “rule”, go to societies where they are NOT educated. Middle East? Maybe bushmen, are they more brutal? I don’t actually know but I will now research this. That’s the difference, not that this will make a difference but I will research and see if my logic fails, YOU DON’T. Either way, the big ones are easy to make controversy about, what about the subtler ones?

    Adultery… ARE YOU KIDDING??? Do you know how prevalent this is? Lying, we covered this. Are you going to throw in the ridiculous first 4 that ONLY have to do with a “god” that sounds like a very insecure dictator that wants “ALL TO BOW, ALL TO ADMIRE, ALL TO LOVE AND OBEY ME, OH YEAH, ALL TO BELIEVE IN. Why this one? Because you never saw me… Oh wait, a few of you saw me and only at a certain time and at a certain level of education, so for the rest of you. And now that you are smart you will never see me. Or is it because this was a convenient rule to put in by someone with an agenda, the “fail-safe for the ridiculous”???? Are you freaking kidding? THIS is the moralistic code to live by? You know what, I think there is one that really rings true everywhere but still isn’t mostly adhered to

    Love thy neighbor.

    This one sounds like you guys even make it the main one. You know what, there are scientific evidence that humans are MUCH happier doing things for others. BUT WE DON’T DO IT!! WHY? I think it is a high percentage of our thoughts and actions that are ABSOLUTELY SELFISH. Why not try that out on yourself or others? Do you think more people are self-less? You will be lying if you say yes. So I think the real question is;

    ARE WE EVEN MORAL AT ALL … REALLY MORAL??

    I say no.

    We all know the big stuff in life is easy, its the small stuff. The day in and day out of doing all the small things that make the difference. That is the HARD stuff. We are not moral, at least not in a really loving, consistent, day to day way. We do it during times of strife and tragedy. The big ones but the small ones we DO NOT.

    People in the US are generally selfish, narcissistic and materialistic on the whole. Do you disagree? If you do I bet you are going to give me some isolated examples of certain people or actions but I am talking in general? Please say we are and then I can “objectively” prove you wrong.

    There, now make your case?

    This is the book I was referring to.
    The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails

  9. Brian Szucs

    Shelly, sorry I was so fired up I didn’t read your post ( I actually still haven’t finished because you mentioned another that fired me up) But I repeated a lot of what you said except somehow you seem to use it as proof of a ‘god”??? Is that true? Do the animals have souls?

    Well, the question you answered is
    why must God suffer in our place? Let me start by saying He did not have to. He chose to!

    Where the hell did you get that?
    Do you believe the whole Blood for Sins rule? There are passages in the bible that clearly say Jesus did NOT condone sacrifice but this is not really focused on because the old testament is riddled with it. This would create a pretty obvious inconsistency.

    Hosea 6:6 Go and learn what this means ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’

    Then you say that you believe your “god” said to sacrifice his own son? Really? Doesn’t this throw up a red flag for you????

    And who the hell made up this ridiculous, arbitrary rule? The rule that sounds like two little girls playing with dolls. Ok, so you are all now bad, hmmm, let me think, oh you know what, here’s a new rule. I will send down my son and he’s going to get killed and then you are all free??? Really? So you really, really think that a “higher power” operates at our level and really gives [expletive removed] about the doings of our day???? Can we say projection?

    You do realize this Blood for Sins bullshit is the work of PAUL, Paul made this entire thing up 40 years AFTER THE FACT. Actually the entire bible is the doings of Paul. Please show me where your scripture says that this blood for sins [expletive removed] exists?

    You know what, if any christian questions the blood for sins crap, which is a HUGE cornerstone in christianity, the entire things falls to pieces. I even asked multiple priests about the blood for sins rule and they all confirmed, after years in theological training, that this was never said by Jesus but by Paul at minimum 40 years after the actual event supposedly took place.

    Please show me anything different?

    So if that entire rule falls apart, then where are you???

  10. Brian Szucs

    Now… neuroscience and psychology have demonstrated that one cannot choose what one does or does not believe any more than one chooses the thoughts that pop into their head, and that choices often (potentially always) occur and/or can be influenced or manipulated subconsciously (whereas the conscious mind would be a logical requirement for free will).

    Where did you get this? Choices are an evaluation. IF, AND I SAY IF, we are mindful, we can evaluate each and every thought. Long time mediators, who have honed their concentration skills CAN consciously make the decision to let the thought go or follow and hang onto it. I have personally experienced this. I think if anything in life is controllable by us, it is exactly this, our thoughts.

    As to where they come from, do you realize how many branches of neuroscience there are? And the fact that we again, only understand a small fraction of what we can do is barely understood, we have contradicting theories and data that shows different things. You said demonstrated. Please cite your study. I will gather the studies that contradict that.

    I am aware of, but more importantly, this is something I have experienced personally and I really think everyone has if they think about it. “Choices are potentially always influenced by our subconscious” is way to abstract of a statement to state but at this level sound absolutely true. What I can tell you is that I had the “perception” of actually using conscious logic of whether to hold on to a thought because it served my happiness or not. THIS IS FREE WILL as I understand it. And I absolutely experience this when I am in a “mindful” state. I evaluate the thought, and say “this isn’t going to make me happy” and make a conscious thought to let it go. I even wrap it in a pattern of putting a boat on a river and letting go. Very conscious. Then its gone. Haven’t all of you experienced this at one time or another? The thing to get better at is to ALWAYS be mindful and aware of whats going on in my head. You may say that is not possible but I say I can be more than I am. And I think I can always say that so where does your statement end? Maybe not 100% of all events but I can definitely get better.

    I believe neuroscience also proves we are a gathering of all our past patterns that we “were conditioned” or “experienced” This is what some believe is our subconscious, or at least a part of it. Which is why when someone sneezes in America that we say bless you. But if you look at the roots of that, one is that your heart stops when you sneeze and it allows a demon to invade so we “bless” the person to get rid of the demon. Yet we all have this knee jerk reaction. Why can’t we be more of a responding society rather than a reactionary?

    I realized I was so fired up by the actual article I missed a ton of stuff in the others comments. I still believe what I wrote but I need to read the rest, and I will before posting again. I am a very reactionary person right now.

    :(

  11. Brian Szucs

    Ok, one more post because I don’t think I am as articulate as I think I am.

    I did read Napolean Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. And in a very secular way he does show convincing evidence of a unified consciousness, we also have studies of 9/11 that really seem to support this. I DO believe we are all connected. Actually quantum physics proves it (currently at our level of understanding)

    I do believe in a “Source” of all things and even the Higgs Bozon particle that was found in 2012 corroborates what long time meditative Buddhist monks have been saying for 2500 years, that existence explodes out of nothing 1 trillion, billion times a second and that nothingness is referenced in every religion. And it is a very special nothingness, one that is absolutely fulfilling. Even string theory that all of life are vibrations of energy has been the paradigm for them for 2500 years and even older religions that meditate for many, many years

    Most christians I meet think meditation is some alternative hippie commune type of action. Yet it is just a way to hone concentration.

    This seems to be consistent across all kinds of lands, societies and time periods so there HAS to be something to it.

    THIS now sounds like it may be the tip of the iceberg to me. But you know what? This “Source” of all things is so far beyond our comprehension that to believe the “Source” gives two craps about land ownership, the Jews, Blood for Sins or any of those VERY PERSONIFIED CHARACTERISTICS is completely ridiculous to me. And I have a hard time believing why other humans can’t see that its complete projection and half of the cornerstone beliefs are KNOWN to be crap. If its just a need to believe, I understand, I just choose something that has never been contradicted to what I learn. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN REINCARNATION.

    If you really take a look, all that you guys talk about “Him” and even the core concepts to me sound alarmingly human and like a very bad leader. Take the characteristics you apply to your “god” and make him just a person of today. He would be a ruthless dictator who needs to feel loved and to be believed in. I have an intrinsic feeling that the REAL “Source” of all things couldn’t care less if a baby dies or is born, “it is what it is”, and we are here for such a short period of time anyway that who gives a crap. We are a small cheerio in the HUGE cereal bowl of life that there are bigger things a play and just the fact of all these religions are talking about “the small self” and “the big self” makes me think MOST people I know have no [expletive removed] clue what “the big self” is and we are trying to explain this from a point of such ignorance that we come up with Jesus and the bible and blood for sins and all this humanistic crap.

    There is a very appealing movie, “The Man from Earth” in which a man has a PERFECT elimination system and is over 14000 years old, which actually does have a basis in science. Not to say everything about the movie is what I believe BUT it does make SOME very interesting takes on some of this that sound like EXACTLY what a human society over the years would do.

    Sorry for my re-activeness, I feel better just getting my thoughts out.

  12. JamieJamie

    Hi Brian, thanks for your participation in the conversation here. You have put out a lot to read through. Sorry for the delay in some of your posts but our system automatically filtered some of your posts because of their length.

    Let me respond to some of what you brought up. You ask proof for the statement “If God does not exist, objective moral principles & obligations do not exist”. Objective moral principles depend on an outside source to exist, other wise they cease to be objective from our perspective as humans. If morals are the cultural constructs of society then someone outside of that society is not bound by those morals. But as we look around at humanity we see a consistent awareness of the difference between right and wrong: Objective morality. Would you agree that there is a consistent overarching awareness in all humans of right and wrong?

    So if there exists an objective morality where does it come from? Who/what established that moral code embedded in humanity? You have said that you agree with some form of Buddhism. Does that include an identification of objective moral principles and obligations?

  13. Brian Szucs

    That’s ok Jaimie,

    I actually do NOT agree that there is a consistent group of characteristics that one may categorize as objective morality.

    I see it this way, we apply the label of “objective’ but just by saying it doesn’t make it true. In all of my tests and evaluations, everything a human thinks is subjective. Now, I understand that there may be the idea that there is an actual objective reality and our subjective thoughts may be very closely aligned but I still claim they are all still subjective.

    Can you give me an example of an objective moral characteristic that you would like to evaluate? I’m also curious if you can give me the list of “mandatory” characteristics and “optional” characteristics that would be used to evaluate if someone is moral or not. You can’t possibly include lying or adultery in your list of “mandatory” because these are very commonly broken in, at least American society. So what does it mean to be an objectively moral person. It must be a finite list that isn’t really that long.

    But before that, lets take “Thou shall not kill” because it probably will be the only one on your list (I really don’t think you can add in the first 4 that deals specifically with your religion and of a god that I see as insecure, ruthless and very humanistic?

    Ok, Thou shall not kill. I do think that as a species if we went around killing everyone we wouldn’t have a society for very long but you cannot say that there aren’t people in which this very “rule” is adjusted, such as a soldier in war. Yes, there are some soldiers that seem to have a very hard time getting over the fact that they did kill but you can’t say that this happens to everyone can you? I know you can never know what is in someone elses mind but I have a friend who said it was a very logical decision for him, kill or be killed and it seems to not effect him at all, as far as I can tell. I believe it is conditioned into us, and as I stated before, all of our thoughts are subjective. So your idea of an outside source as being absolute is actually not absolute. Can you prove that there actually is an outside source and NOT conditioning? Actually what would be the parameters of such an evaluation, can you at least tell me those in which you can make a strong case that there actually is an outside source?

    Secondly, is this the only argument you have? Off the top of my head, here are some blatant silly ones that no one seems to want to answer.

    Didn’t your entire story begin with one man who was promised by a voice that he deserves land?
    Do you know where the blood for sins rule came from? From my research, even if he did exist, Jesus never claimed that he needs to be his fathers sacrifice, he actually said he prefers mercy to sacrifice. So this is very inconsistent to me that this is a corner stone belief and its not even his first preference.
    Along with this, who make up the blood for sins rule? “god”? Why, where and how did such a rule even come to be? To me it sounds like projection of humanistic qualities. I do NOT believe a higher power would be that interwoven into our human type qualities, day to day issues that are really nothing if you remove the attachments and to act in a very human like quality. He does not stray far from a normal Caesar or dictator etc… If I seriously extract the characteristics that are applied to the “god” described in the bible and apply them to a person, this person is a ruthless jerk who nobody would love to follow.

    Third, whats with the very brutal symbol of a man nailed to a cross and either dead/dying as the core symbol of this religion? Doesn’t this in and of itself have contradictions to your “moral” standing. The main symbol, to me, is a symbol of brutality. The very thing you are claiming everyone has based on an outside source. If what you say is true, this should have never happen. Jesus should NOT have been so argumentative and defiant. Buddha was not written to be ANYTHING like that. He actually sounded like an awesome person who really looked to care for ALL people, not just his ethnic group, or who believes (I mean how mean he was to money changers who were just doing what they were brought up to do) I personally believe if I was alive in this time, my mother would have said to stay away from Jesus because I would get in trouble along the whole “guilt by association” theory. How can someone who is so nice and caring get himself executed? Think of some really gently, wise, caring people you know, can you IMAGINE them even possibly in the situation where they are going to get executed? I can’t. The Buddha, from what was written, I can’t see anyone executing him? Actually you know what, they didn’t so that is proof in and of itself.

    As for you question about Buddhism, one main reason is the fact that they say “If you didn’t experience it personally, do not believe it” How can you argue with that? Reincarnation… yes, and if you research a LOT of Buddhists do NOT believe in this. Second, is what I was alluding to before, Buddha seems like a nice, gentle, wise old man that if was in my pretense I would want to just hug. I do NOT get that from stories about Jesus

    Third, they actually give a map of HOW to experience what they have made claims about. And until I do it, I actually do have faith in what they say. Because I know if I really didn’t believe I actually can go do something to prove them right or wrong. With christianity, I just need to look at the basic context of what a lot of is tries to promote and come up with a conclusion that it sounds like it was a tool used by people to control people. I don’t even need to look any further than the actual concept of it all starting with a man who was promised land by a voice only he said he heard. And a blood for sins “rule” sound ridiculous for me. But most I talk to, this is a deeply embedded presupposition that they never question. They start AFTER the fact of question why such a silly rule even came to be. And I do think it seems to be widely reported that Paul was the one who even invented this. Don’t you think if this silly rule was the ENTIRE reason Jesus was supposedly made into a man was to accomplish this, Don’t you think this would be repeated many times actually out of Jesus’ mouth? I would think so, yet it is not. Actually it is NEVER said to have come out of his mouth.

    What happens to christianity if the “blood for sins” rule is wiped out and confirmed to be false?
    What happens to all the “prophecies” if Abraham is a crazy man who just wanted land? And why the hell does the ability to tell the future make someone anything more than a person with good party tricks? This is another preconceived notion everyone just accepts. Does it say somewhere that “believe every single thing said by any person who can prophesize”. And can’t these prophesies be adjusted to “look” like they were true? Since most are done well after the person who supposedly said it is dead.

    What about Constantine and council of Nicene? Even christians agree that Constantine threw away many of the documents written at the time if they DID NOT FIT HIS AGENDA??? Holy crap, just that alone would make me give it up. And he is the one who brought this sick symbol of a person nailed to a cross into your religion. He also had killed or killed HIS son and wife? Oh yeah, do you want to follow someone who kills their own son???? OMG???

    Forget your argument about objective vs subjective moralistic qualities, lets talk about the rest.

    Now if I have all of this wrong (actually I can’t be wrong for some of them because I comment on a self-contained concept) but if I have some wrong, please straighten me out.

    Thanks

    ;)

  14. Brian Szucs

    I really need to re-read before posting. I’m sorry.

    Actually, if you are asking if I believe that there “can” be a higher power that “could” have put these feelings of right and wrong in our cells, then yes, I do believe this is a possibility

    What I do NOT believe is christianity as a cohesive topic, or at least the way it is presented and I believe the way I see people interpret it.

    I do see that there are very heart warming anecdotes and stories that are very similar to Buddhism. Actually, I haven’t studied all religions as deep but at first glance they all do seem to have a very common thread. I’m sorry, the presentation and delivery in christianity sucks.

    The common thread I seem to find is this;

    We are all here to serve each other in any way possible. There are some tools we can use to help make this true for ourselves, the main one being meditation. What exactly is suppose to happen when you meditate? Well, it my understanding and experience that we can “objectively” (ha!) evaluate our thoughts and in the beginning it’s to let the thoughts that do not serve us/others go as well as hone our concentration. But allegedly over time, as we hone our concentration, we become keenly aware of the dualistic nature of the human condition and start to see how we are all interconnected. Of course there are other benefits but the main one I see loud and clear is that we are all ONE.

    I have heard some variation of this in all religions, even christians say similar things. Love thy neighbor, we are all one, we are all love etc…. There is even a movie from Tom Shadyac called “I am” but if you really think about these concepts, they have NOTHING to do with LAND, Abraham, Jesus Christ, Blood for Sins, mortal sin, NONE of this ancillary stuff that to me, serves absolutely no purpose but clouding what should be clear. You can insert ANY religion (I think)

    THIS is what I believe and so far all religions feel the need to fluff their messages. To me, all of the extraneous stuff is unnecessary crap. Actually, I do see that it could very well take YEARS for some and possibly never for others to actually have the deep realization that we are all connected so maybe some of the other stuff is necessary to help people along. BUT, the main points I keep repeating over and over, I do NOT see any value in those stories. The main being mortal sin, blood for sins as an answer, land ownership, chosen people etc…

    I don’t need any particular religion to believe in interconnectedness. I do believe the nature of nature does exist and I do not think we understand it fully. The fact that so many different people, separated by geography, time, society, education and anything else that can make individuals so different, if they all make similar claims if you do come to this conclusion by some means, meditations possibly, then I have to believe there is something very real about it. And if I don’t believe, I at least have a contingency to prove it to myself, if I ever get off of my lazy butt and meditate consistently.

    Actually there is another problem with the bible that bothers me, the lost in translation concepts. I do know the original word for relax was WAY closer to what we call “meditative” than “relax”. These two words can absolutely lead people down two completely different paths so one needs to question what other words are misinterpreted. This doesn’t even bring in the fact of individual subjective interpretations. This was why I suggested to watch “A Man from Earth”. It highlights the fact that us as humans have it completely wrong and if it did happen, it is probably so different than any interpretation that is around today. They present a possibility, although far-fetched, it is a tool to break our pattern and look at things anew.

    And what happen to meditation in christianity? I know some do it but it is NOT prevalent in American society. From what I have read, it was a CORE if not THE core concept in christianity up until a century or so ago and yet now it seems to have disappeared, why? Even the word prayer was originally a very meditative practice, there are 2 types, one is focusing on the words in which you love your god and one that is very close to mindful meditation which is what Buddhists use. Most I know, who claim to be christian, have NO idea how to meditate not to mention actually practice. I have read that it is actually a rule that a christian priest is suppose to be in a deep state of meditation at the moment he consecrates the host. Is this true? How many priests do you suppose actually accomplish this? I went to catholic school for 9 years and have known at least 5 different priests and many nuns and only ONE, when I was very young even mentioned it. And that one also had a degree in psychology.

    I suppose I don’t have a problem in the concepts in the bible that do not have human projection as the core and that do not present themselves as a diplomatic or political tool to accomplish some agenda. I actually also have a problem with Buddhism and how it has taken on a lot of extraneous fluff for absolutely no reason also.

    From the Buddhists (take that term lightly) that I have learned or read from, the main goal is to realize our interconnectedness and all else should fall into place. (I know I am oversimplifying but not that much) If you realize you ARE that mosquito, your wife, that garbage can, you will feel a deep empathy towards it. Then “love thy neighbor” becomes effortless and actually the normal reaction to the realization of interconnectedness. Why all the silly, nonsensical concepts, stories, rules etc…? Why the Blood for sins that really does sound ridiculous and very much like human projection. Why would this higher intelligence that is the source of all things really care if one ethnicity or another has land, or is oppressed, or are the chosen ones, or has eaten an apple and disobeyed “him”?? If you really take the term “higher power” to heart, wouldn’t this higher power have his “laws” written into the fabric of reality that we CANNOT break them and ultimately “disobey” “him/it”????? Now THAT sounds more aligned with something that is attributed to the nature of nature or the source of all things. Not some humanistic “god” that feels the need to “test” us humans. That is contradictory on so many levels it’s not even funny. THIS is the kind of stuff I am BAFFLED that some very intelligent people I know still can’t seem to reconcile.

    Can you really tell me that if you were told when you were being conditioned to this stuff that you had 2 options.

    A god that is supposedly omniscience, omnipresent and omnipotent, a god who is all of these things yet somehow still feels the need to test us humans to make sure we BELIEVE, OBJEY and LOVE “him”. A god who tells SOME humans he deserves land and other humans that they are “chosen” or special, or at the very least creates separatism. A god who is all these before mentioned things but still needs to make up rules that if you disobey you will cause the punishment of every single one of your species and then later decides to make up another rule as an antidote and needs to now take human form so he can brutally kill him as a sign of his love.
    OR

    A source to all things that exists, who has its laws built into the very fabric of reality and IS LOVE, IS EVERYTHING JUST AS YOU ARE. Now YOUR life will be better if YOU are more moral and caring and you can find much more happiness in YOUR life if you learn that attachment is the source of all suffering (another lost in translation, suffering is closer to uncomfortable) But by no means can you disappoint the source, you cannot disobey the source because it is not possible because the so called “rules” are built into reality.

    Tell me why you would ever choose the first one?? (And are you people kidding? Let me brutally kill my son as a sign to you all that I love you??????) See what I mean, how can you possibly say this is not ridiculous? Or how can you say that, even though I maybe said it differently than you, I did not LIE. I did not say it wrong. How I said it is accurate. Is it not?

    I suppose after all of that, this is my real conflict with most religions, even Buddhism, but I do think they have a much better delivery system with a lot less controversial content than the bible.

    We are all one, if you can realize that at the deepest level, we will all be on a better path.

    Do you agree?

    Can you explain why does Abraham need land and how that helps anything?
    Can you explain why the blood for sins things helps us realize our interconnectedness? Actually how does it help anything? Oh right, if you believe we are all born with mortal sin, you do realize this sounds ridiculous also? So can you suspend that belief for a second and tell me how the blood for sins rule helps anything now?
    And if we keep digging back on the mortal sin thing. Can you explain how a woman eating an apple now dooms every single descendant of that species?
    And if we go even deeper. Can you really explain why a “god” would give such a rudimentary “test” to 2 human beings that “he” just created from mud? Especially if “he” is omniscience?
    And even a bit deeper. Can you really explain how a human, uneducated I have to assume, would so easily disobey a “god” that readily speaks to them and also they are aware that they are the only ones on the planet?
    And actually even deeper. Can you explain the physiology of the snake that can speak? Oh wait, it was telepathy right? Ok, if what we call the laws of physics exist now and always existed, meaning they haven’t changed, how is it that a snake can do this?
    And even deeper. Can you please explain the process of how a woman sprouted from the earth by planting a rib from a man?
    Oh, even deeper. Can you explain how a man physically had a rib removed and had no pain whatsoever? I’ve cracked a rib and I can tell you, it hurts very bad.
    I just want you to actually explain how you believe this entire scene took place. In very realistic terms abiding by what we call the laws of physics today.

    And even if you can, how does this help anything? What is the “moral” of this story? You better obey this very insecure “god” that has to produce all these little “tests” to see if we pass or fail and then promptly punish not just that woman, but the entire species for it. WOW. Really, really hard to believe that ANYBODY can take this stuff and run with it.

    And if you start to say “well not all of it is meant to be literal” then can you tell me how is one suppose to know what is actually suppose to be taken literally and what is not?

    And following that same path, can you really say that you can cherry pick things? I suppose I am saying exactly that, I want to cherry pick the fact that we are all one and that’s it. But if you so say this, then we also have to qualify what is able to be cherry picked and what is not. And the blood for sins rule, why on earth would the 2 main concepts in christianity be

    An insecure “god” felt compelled to “test” “his” newly created mud creations and when the female failed promptly punishes EVERYONE. you know the saying, the punishment does NOT fit the crime right?
    And then building on this EXACT silliness, you then add the other main cornerstone in which this same insecure “god” who decided to punish EVERYONE, even though “he” is Omniscience, he now has to make up a counter rule, or a way out, and this is to now send his only begotten son to earth to get brutally murdered for all to see so he can now rescind his original overreaction and all is back to how it “should” be?

    You know what, I’ve never put those thoughts together like that before so thank you for providing this forum for me to think this all through on paper (so to speak)
    I now really believe I have an absolutely solid argument that I believe will convert believers in christianity into a more logical person.

    Even if you do not respond to anything else that I’ve written, can you please respond to the very last statement I make?

  15. JamieJamie

    Hi Brian, I would say there is a difference between our moral awareness and our moral action. There have been a growing number of studies on the moral awareness of infants. I saw some material from the Yale Infant Cognition Center a few months ago but also just found a presentation of similar study at UBC (you can see a TV show that investigated this at http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes//born-to-be-good-1) Babies of different ages are presented with a puppet show where a one character is being nice or helpful and another character is being mean or hindering. The babies are then presented with both puppets and consistently they choose the ‘nice guy’. It shows an interesting attraction to those people who are good and kind. One thing that I think is missing from the presentations that I have seen about these studies is whether or not the infants who were able to choose the ‘nice guy’ also consistently acted ‘nice’ to others. My guess is that we would see less consistency in that moral behaviour than we do in the moral awareness.

    That is part of the irony of humanity is that while we know what is right and wrong we do not always do it. That is where the subjectivity comes into play. That also matches what the Bible describes for us as part of the human condition: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19) I don’t know about you but I can relate to that pretty closely.

    So what is objective morality? I think we know that hurting others is wrong. That is one of the reasons why military personnel go through de-sensitization to killing in order to overcome that inner-voice that says it is wrong. Lying is also universally seen as wrong. We can excuse it when lying accomplishes things for us or gives us an advantage over a competitor but honesty is something that is valued as a virtue in all important relationships and families. Does that mean people don’t lie? Not at all, but we know that it is wrong even though we try to justify it in our own lives.

    The Bible says we are created in the image of God and with that comes an innate awareness of morality. The Bible also says that we have inherited a fallen nature that is prone to self-centeredness. That creates much of the internal angst in humans as they struggle with the reality of what they know is right and what they actually do.

    God provides answer to us through Jesus so that we can trust in Him to deal with our mistakes and lead us to live like He did. We no longer have the guilt (both emotional and literal) hanging over us and we have a guide and help who makes living like we know we should a reality. Now you have suggested that Jesus never mentioned anything about His blood paying for our sin. I wonder if you have looked at what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) or “But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day” (John 6:54). All of the allusions to Jesus being the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world is a clear connection to the symbolic sacrificial rituals of the Hebrews. Those rituals which were given to the people of Israel by God were intended to symbolically represent what Messiah would do for them in the future. Jesus was that Messiah and we can now look directly at what He did in order to understand God’s desire to save humanity from their rebellion against Him.

    So what do you think? Does that idea of moral awareness but immoral behaviour make sense with what you have experienced?

  16. Brian Szucs

    Jaime,

    After deeper thought, I do agree with you on objective morals. What I have a problem with is why you the christian god is the right one to choose.

    I’m actually more interested in how you explain

    the creation of mortal sin
    the blood for sins rule that apparently negates this mortal sin?

    and if you have time and/or the energy

    what does land have to do with anything? why do we need to hear that Abraham, the start of all christianity, is to inherit land? And not just inherit land but he actually owns the land as a sole proprietor and kicks everyone else out to the outskirts. He doesn’t share, he doesn’t show any signs of a wise, gentle kind man. He actually kills, yes KILLS 3000-3500 of HIS PEOPLE because they were worshiping a calf.

    This is the guy that STARTS christianity. I wouldn’t want this guy to start a barbeque grill for me not an entire way of life.

    Can you explain why you follow a “god” that brutally kills his only son? (This one is me being a wise ass because the second question I ask is really to have you negate the fact that this brutal killing was even a necessity)

    Sorry,

    Fine, I digress on objective morals. The other cornerstones are what have me baffled.

  17. JamieJamie

    You pack in a lot of stuff into one message Brian :) I can tell you take all of this very seriously.

    First of all let me say there is some common threads in all religions but there is something so unique about Christianity that I think sets it apart from all other religions. All religions recognize that there is something fundamentally wrong with humans that needs fixing (I too am over simplifying in order to make some broad observations). Different religions will identify different things that are wrong and how to ‘fix’ them but that common thread is there in all religions. Some religions have a moral code that needs to be followed in order to build up credits to outweigh the brokenness. Other religions have rituals that seek to appease the wrath of God (or gods) in order to fix what is broken. Other religions recommend paths of spiritual enlightenment that allows them to rise above that which is broken and be set free. Christianity is unique amongst all of these because it is the only message that says humans are helpless to fix themselves; instead they are fundamentally dependent on God’s intervention on their behalf to be fixed. All other religions are examples of humans reaching up to God; Jesus is the only example of God reaching down to humanity.

    In my opinion, that uniqueness warrants closer investigation. Especially since the brokenness identified by the Bible is that humans want to be their own authority and not submit to God’s authority as Creator. If that is true then it makes sense that all false religions would recommend humans fixing themselves rather than looking to God for His rescue.

    Jesus death was not primarily a proof of His love but was an act of love to pay the penalty for our rebellion against God; a penalty we would never be able to repay. Jesus death on the cross was actually God receiving the punishment that we deserved for our sins. So we no longer had to receive that punishment because the penalty was already paid. If I compare it to a speeding ticket: once my penalty for speeding is paid there is no penalty left to pay. It is dealt with once and for all. So once Jesus paid for my sin and rebellion against God the matter was settled and there is no longer any penalty that needs paying. It was dealt with once and for all.

    Does that help you understand what the Good News about Jesus is all about?

  18. Brian Szucs

    Jamie,

    I still do want to answer what you mentioned.

    I actually have seen those studies about babies being born to be good but you are just blindly believing only one argument. I agree, it MAY be the case. What I want to know and what I can’t seem to find is, were all of these babies exposed to television? If so, how much television did they watch? What shows? If not, what examples in life were they presented with? You have to admit that most people do not act immoral in the presence of a baby. Actually most adults turn into very goofy versions of themselves around babies.

    Do you think this has ANY effect on the development of how a baby evaluates situations? I would even have a strong suspicion that most of the babies watch way more televisions/movies than they should be and MOST children’s shows are incredibly good, kind and hero moral centric. How can you discount this as a method of influence?

    I do see your point about behavior being bad and knowing your behavior is bad as being distinctly different. Let me ask you this then; Why are our behaviors difficult to align with what we “know” to be moral? I’ve dug deep into myself for this exact reason many times and for many years. I always come up with the answer that I think quite a few psychologists mention. The need to avoid perceived pain and/or the desire to gain perceived pleasure. Ok, well what does that mean? It means I am selfish and I want to “feel” good all of the time. What is something that feels anything? Well, its very subjective, don’t you agree?

    I don’t really want to run down this rat hole though because I’m not even that at odds with you even if you did prove that we are “born good”

    Fine, done.

    You did make an attempt at the “blood for sins” question but I’m not fully satisfied if you don’t mind. You said that the gospel of John mentions I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

    Ok, so a few comments; How exactly did you turn that particular statement into meaning. “I am here to die for all of you humans because my father made up this rule a long time ago that punishes every one of you for a woman he created from mud eating an apple in which he commanded not to eat”? I have mentioned that I would lay down my life for my wife. Bruno Mars said in more colorful terms he would also do it for another person. I can’t see how you read one of the cornerstones of christianity into such an ambiguous statement. Remember, the blood for sins rule is at the corner of christian faith is it not? Shouldn’t it be pretty darn clear and I would think repeated everywhere, maybe like “I am love” or “love everyone”, “turn a cheek” etc…

    So you do mention another, “But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day” I personally think this has something lost in translation but I will research that elsewhere. But once again, this is a very ambiguous statement that you claim your interpretation is “I am here to brutally die for all of you because I love you, and I have to do this because some woman disobeyed my father a long time ago and he has since punished every single one of you. And actually you are still going to be forever punished for what this woman did but at least now you have a way out. So here’s what you need to do; I will do this and all you have to do is believe. Oh yeah, and also have someone who has been deemed worthy by someone else by some unknown criteria, but if he pours some water on your head and says some words then you are saved.”

    Second, which trails onto this whole thing; Why is there mortal sin in the first place? Because of a woman listening to a snake and then “disobeying” “god”??

    Ok, before we even look at the reasoning for this which is secondary.

    Why does your “god” need to be obeyed like some insecure dictator?
    Why does your “god” need to be believed in?

    Actually a case in point, I am going to put together a few puppet shows of a few scenes from the bible. Namely this creation of mortal sin and then really the next logical progression of this track, the blood for sins rule and execution (pun intended as well as accurate)

    I have a very strong suspicion that a 6 month old baby would NOT choose your “god” as the good guy. Of course I would have to somehow give the poor baby an option for a good guy because it would just be a very desperate and depressing scene.

    I guess it all comes down to;

    Why would your “god” need to be obeyed, believed in and also loved or else there is severe punishment?

    And why would your “god” create on the flip-side, an arbitrary group of chosen people and give out rewards (land) to them?

    Can you actually say this does NOT sound like human projection to you?

    My “god” or source of all things has no such rules. The “source” is so far beyond our comprehension that the rules that actually would need to be obeyed are built right into my existence, nothing for me to do. There is no “Don’t you dare eat that apple” type rules. Why is this so clear to me and not to most? Just take that;

    “Don’t you dare eat that apple or insert whatever commandment was shouted out”? Why? Why is this even mentioned?

    Oh right, we were given free will by a higher power that knows, is and exists everywhere/thing and even though this higher power already knows BEFORE we are created how it will all turnout, “he” now has to still play along and make up these commandments, rules, punishments and reward a few along the way.

    Abraham KILLED over 3000 of his own people. WHY IS HE REWARDED WITH LAND and me, well since I am a non-believer I am doomed. Seriously, this guy, and he was just a man (if he existed) KILLED over 3000 people for wait for it

    Worshiping a calf, and the guy who did the killing, not the people who happen to be worshiping a calf, the guy who ordered the killing is rewarded.

  19. Brian Szucs

    Jamie,

    No, that actually doesn’t answer the basic questions I asked and really makes me have a very baffled look on my face. You just added another concept that sounds very similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous mentality, one of which I also 100000% disagree with but that is a WHOLE other argument.

    Anyway, you say christianity has one unique quality, one that we are fundamentally dependent on “god” to fix ourselves, basically that we are powerless, yes?

    Do you realize that I see such a contradiction in broad terms here?

    OK, can we take this one step at a time?

    I want to find another way to say this so I can drive my point home easier, could another way to say this be;

    “I can’t control what I do”
    or
    “I am powerless over what I do”
    or
    “I am helpless in my actions”

    Can you agree that one of these is another way to say the first part of your statement?

    Can you also repeat which one you like the best?

    Thanks

  20. JamieJamie

    I agree Brian, that understanding why sin is such a big deal any way is an important part of understanding why Jesus had to come and die.

    It all begins with the understanding that the more ‘valuable’ the one I have wronged is, the more serious the crime and the penalty. Let me explain that: if I slap a mosquito I have wronged him/her. But there are very few places in this world that would condemn me for swatting a mosquito. Now if I hit my neighbours cat with my car the consequences become much more significant because of the value of the cat. Still, my penalty is far less for that than if I strike a person with my car. Suddenly my penalty takes on a much more serious nature because human life is more significant than that of a mosquito. If I act with intent against another human the penalty becomes even more severe. What if my intent is against the Creator of the universe, someone who is of infinite value. Can you see how more serious my crime is? The penalty is going to equally be of infinite severity.

    What is our sin against God? It is that we, the ones who were created, state that we reject the authority and value of the one who has created us. Innately we see the incongruity of this come out in our films and stories of when machines rebel against their human creators. We have no problem justifying their due destruction because of their rebellion. It is not so easy to see in ourselves though is it?

    The penalty for our sin fits the crime: separation from God which is eternal death. This makes more sense when we take a step back and look at why God created humanity in the first place: we were made uniquely amongst all those created as image-bearers of God. God said, “Let us make man in our own image.” We were given that amazing privilege so that we could have a unique relationship with God and be a living testimony for all of eternity to His great love. But true love must have the option not to love if it is true and that is what we chose. God did not force Himself on us and take away our freedom to choose but instead allowed us to make that choice not to love Him. So separation from God (eternal death) is the just result of that choice.

    That’s where blood comes in: instead of leaving us to die in our rebellion against God, He took that penalty on Himself and died in our place. Because He is of infinite value His death is able to cover an infinite penalty–all the sins of the whole world. As I explained in my earlier post, the sacrificial system of the people of Israel was a symbolic representation of what Messiah would do on their behalf one day. The ‘blood for sins’ rule that you refer to was a foreshadowing of Jesus death on our behalf.

    But God did not even force that opportunity for freedom from the penalty of our sin on us. He offers it as a gift to any who wants to receive it. But many have not chosen that, instead happy to choose their own way of fixing the brokenness within themselves. But the only way that we can pay the infinite penalty of our infinite offence against God is with an infinite separation from Him. If that is what a person wants, God cannot force them to choose otherwise.

    Does that make sense Brian?

  21. Brian Szucs

    Wait,
    I guess this is the format for all of these answers. Do you realize you answer my direct questions with just repeating the dogma of what your belief structure is instead of actually saying it in a way that is a direct answer. Here, lets try this.

    Why does your “god” NEED to be obeyed, believed in, loved or “he” will punish?

  22. JamieJamie

    I am not completely comfortable with any of your three statements. There is an implication that I am not responsible for my actions that is not what the Bible teaches. The issue is that the penalty for my sin is far greater than what I can pay. My earlier post about my rebellion against an infinitely valuable God results in an infinite penalty explains that.

    There is another component that is more closely related to what you have written from 12 step programs. That is I am already separated from God and no longer have His help to do what is right. Even when I do moral things I still have behind it a motivation of rebellion against God. I can give money to less fortunate but be saying in my heart, “See, I can do good things without God” and there I still am rebelling against my Creator. I was created to follow His leading in my life, but if I reject His authority I can never live out that purpose and thus remain in rebellion against Him.

    Does that make sense?

  23. Brian Szucs

    You know what; Lets get even more fundamental.

    Let me ask you this, do you see that this doesn’t answer the question?

    Question:
    Why does your wife NEED new shoes?

    Answer
    My wife does not NEED new shoes, she has chosen to purchase new shoes so that she has a place to put them in the closet.

    This really doesn’t answer the question, do you agree?

    What I am going for is more like,

    Updated Answer:
    My wife has some void that she is trying to fill with material things, in this case shoes. I do realize this is apparent by the mere fact that she actually purchases them. The void is undeniable. The void can also be called an insecurity.

    So I suppose I didn’t ask properly;

    Why is your “god” insecure?

    If you say “He” is not insecure then please answer this?

    How do you explain the need to be obeyed WITHOUT an insecurity?

    Just so I know that you are with me here, just humor me. Can you give me all the possible reasons that you can think of for the need to be obeyed? Even if just humanistic. I just want to know that we are on the same page with something. Then if you say, yes this, this and this are potential human reasons to be obeyed but my “God” does it because of X, then I think we can hammer this out.

  24. JamieJamie

    This conversation is a little disjointed because we are both posting responses at the same time and so our comments are aimed at messages a little further back :) But that’s alright, we will get this worked out.

    So does Christianity start with Abraham? No, but Abraham certainly plays a big part in the plan of God for the world. Jesus is the central figure in Christianity. It would be wrong to call Abraham, Isaac and Jacob Christians but their faith was in Jesus even though they would not have been able to identify Him with that name. The Bible says that God planned for Jesus to pay the penalty for the sin of the world before the world began so in some sense one could say that Christianity is older than the Earth. But that gets hard for our limited minds to grab a hold of so I don’t want to spend too much time on that idea.

    As for your second question that you asked first– Oi! my head is starting to spin:) — humanity was created to be in a unique relationship with God. When we are not living that out we are like fish out of water. As I explained in an earlier post, our penalty for not living out our purpose is the logical conclusion of that rejection of God which is separation from Him. In some ways it is less of a punishment and more of getting what we asked for. Just like a fish out of water, when we rebel against God’s purpose for us the end result is death. It is a sad thing but is what we asked for. God in His love and mercy, warns us of the danger of that choice but He will not force us against our will.

  25. JamieJamie

    But Brian, that is a fundamentally wrong idea of who God is. He is perfect and without limits. To have a ‘need’ to be filled would suggest that somehow He lacks something in and of Himself. That is an incorrect description of God.

    But let me say this: God creates because that is His nature. Similar to the reality that an artist paints, a singer sings, a football player tackles and a pilot flies. It is an expression of who they are and we get insight into their being by viewing the results of their actions. God creates because He is a creator. He created humanity because He it is His nature to be in relationship.

    You could speculate that God created humanity because He was lonely, but that would be an inaccurate understanding of God.
    You could say that God created humanity to prove that He could but that is placing human imperfections on a perfect God.
    You could say that God created humanity so He could have someone to boss around but again, that in inconsistent with His nature.

    Why does a songwriter write music? (other than the fact that he needs money) Because the music is there inside of him and it just pours out of him.

  26. Brian Szucs

    Actually, once again I do not follow.

    Your answer as to “if I rebel against a more important entity I am punished more” definitely doesn’t sit well with me. I actually think a lot of christians will disagree also. I can absolutely say your statement in this way. “If I punch the daughter of the president I should be killed but if I punch a drug addict I should only be fined”. Not good man, not good. I’ll point out another contradiction in which “we are all god and god is all of us” and also “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” So if none of us can be categorized and all of us are one in Jesus, then we all are Jesus” So then I ask again, why such severe punishment for disobeying someone who is essentially your son?

    But that isn’t really even answering what I am asking. My question is

    Why was this “test of obedience” presented in the first place? Why is this needed?

    And I think why you are uncomfortable with the Abraham question is because Genesis starts at the very beginning to technically you can have an argument that it always existed. Yes? Ok, I’ll ask this way

    Do you agree that the bible has a very distinct genealogy that has to transpire to make it valid? And does that genealogy start with a murderer that said he spoke to “god’ and was promised land ownership?

    And just so you know, I’ve never had someone who is not comfortable answering a question. I don’t mean to upset you but I don’t think I asked anything offensive. Sorry if I offended you.

    My entire perspective, and the point I am trying to drive home is the fact that the context of even the core of your belief system screams human projection and not that of a “higher power”. I really do not see a higher power having such human qualities that cannot be explained away in these core beliefs. And one is simply the fact of a hierarchy, as you have confirmed by stating that there are levels of importance, and at the top of that hierarchy sits an entity that acts way too human for my taste. In my opinion, this is a clear sign that the writers weren’t so educated or deeply thoughtful enough to remove the humanistic qualities to make it more believable. Yes millions believe. But to quote one of my older posts, more and more people are more and more educated and making this, sometimes abstract, realization of projection that exists in the very fiber of the entity at the top of the hierarchy. Its not buried in a story, its actually buried in the fiber of the entity that is inescapable.

    I guess we can do this forever, unless you are willing to actually explain why these perceived human qualities exist in the fabric of the entity at the top of your hierarchy, you will never be able to see it the way I do.

    Actually, this is a simple one;

    Do you actually see HOW I maybe can see the qualities I am mentioning in your “god” as humanistic?
    Can you agree that MAYBE, they can resemble human characteristics?
    Could it even be POSSIBLE, that what I am saying may have some truth? Even a little?

    See, that’s where I think you and I differ, I think I run through all possibilities of why someone/something has a certain behavior and make a deductive decision based off of what I happen to know at the moment. And until someone is comfortable enough answering the direct question, I believe, and don’t be offended, but I believe you are not even willing to even question it, I guess you kind of alluded to this before. I’m not sure if you do have a vague suspicion in the back of your mind that if you do actually take a good hard look at it, that you know all that you have believed in for so long would come crumbling down like a house of cards. (its not that bad by the way, its actually freeing) Or maybe you really do believe the dogma and never question because that is seen as the only unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:31 Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men) Which I might add is a very clever fail-safe yet they couldn’t remove all the humanistic qualities… hmmm. Either way, until you are at least comfortable asking questions, we can never really debate this. All I say is this, I do NOT think the bible is BAD in any way and I think there is a lot of good to be learned. I also think the comrade of church, even AA, is awesome and a necessity. I can also say that there are theories out there that have MUCH more convincing arguments, do not leave you feeling like a fool for believing them and basically lead to the same type of belief structure, just without all the human projection and bad things that make you fearful. It is actually more loving, more inspirational and more fulfilling, at least in my opinion. If you think by questioning you will be “punished” I understand. You have been conditioned to believe in a very ruthless ruler, one that I for one would not want to cross. Anyway, I would say I’ll pray for you but I’m not sure that is the right way to approach such a topic (plus I don’t pray in that way)

    Anyway, thanks for the back and forth. I still haven’t gotten any further with you than I have with local christians but it was exhilarating none-the-less.

  27. Brian Szucs

    Your last post is actually pretty interesting in the fact that you were using human qualities as your core of contrast.

    Very interesting.

    Once again, how about “He” was created by humans to be humanistic. Doesn’t this actually align itself better the entire way? In science, theories are created by the “most likely” to be true. Can you even ask that?

    Is it more likely that your “god” acts like a human because he was created by humans.
    or how you say
    Your “god” acts like a human yet all of those behaviors have an explanation that cannot be understood by humans?

    Can you at least admit that your “god” does, at least sometimes, on occasion, appear to have some behaviors that resemble humans? How can I so confidently answer yes and you answer no? I can backup the humanistic behaviors, can you back up that they are not, at least resembling human characteristics?

  28. Brian Szucs

    Ok, so Abraham is important.

    1.) Was he spoken to by “god”? (and he wasn’t crazy right?)
    2.) Was he rewarded for killing his people with land ownership? (hmm, please explain why “god” gave him “land”? How does giving him land help the story along? I see it as a big problem personally)
    3.) What he a caring, loving, sharing… moral type person that would share his land with others or is he a dick that kills and kicks out the Armamites?

    Do you have a problem with these facts if you say they are all true?

    And if you do say they are true, you believe all of this ok but because “god” didn’t put forth any “test” for Abraham so he doesn’t need to get punished. Yet for some reason the woman he created out of mud needed to be “tested” to simply eat an apple and then her punishment is actually not even her punishment. It bypasses her and now it is upon every single one of our species for ever and ever.

    Are you ok with this also?

    And you say that all of this was foretold before anything existed right? Do you have any explanation as to why it took possibly 200,000 years to get this going and then again that it only happened during this very specific time, in this very specific region during a very specific education level?

  29. Pete

    1. If God does not exist, objective moral principles & obligations do not exist

    You base your entire premise on your first line fallacy.
    I have moral principles without your god, thank you.

  30. AldoAldo

    Pete, in answer to “I have moral principles without your god, thank you,” let me just say that as stated early in the article, “This is really a summary of a moral argument for God’s existence,” who you obviously do not believe in.

    Matt Slick from CARM.org, writes an interesting article in support of God’s existence. Here are some excerpts from it:

    “Answering the question of how we can know God is real and not just a fictional character in the Bible, is inherently difficult because it deals with the subjective opinions of people. What would constitute sufficient information or evidence to determine that God is real can vary between people. Thus, a critic of Christianity can reject each answer as being insufficient – because it doesn’t satisfy his subjective preferences for determining what to believe regarding the God of Christianity…”

    “Biblically speaking, we don’t determine that the God of the Bible is real. We discover that he is real. God is not the same thing as an object in the universe that is hidden on a planet, floating around in interstellar space, or hidden between atoms. He is different than the universe and the things in it. Normally speaking, to determine something’s existence means we find it or produce an experiment to test its existence, or develop a methodology by which we can verify if something is or is not there. But again, this is an approach based on a materialistic worldview that seeks to determine something’s existence by experimentation on physical things and their characteristics…”

    “If the God of the Bible exists, then he exists in a way that is different than the universe. After all, he created it. I am writing this article (creating it), and I exist differently than it does. The article depends on my existence, not me on its existence. Doing an experiment on the word patterns and repeatability of style would not prove that there’s an actual person named “Matt Slick” who wrote it. Is there an experiment that can determine my existence based upon what is found in an article? Or, will the subjectivity of the examiner conclude that “Matt Slick” does not exist, even though the article says it is written by me? One may agree I’m real, where another one may not. Again, we are talking about subjectivity because how a person interprets evidence is subject to that person’s worldview and subjective preferences.

    If the God of the Bible exists, then he is independent of the universe, transcendent, and answers to no one. Therefore, unless an experiment can be devised based on materialistic principles that conclusively prove there’s a nonmaterial transcendent being outside the universe (which is problematic as mentioned above), then we are left with the conclusion that the only way to know God exists is if he discloses himself.

    Biblically, the process for determining whether God is real is to trust the work of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. He discloses himself to those who seek him in response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon them, where people recognize their sinfulness and also their need for being delivered from the lawful consequences of breaking God’s law.”

    There you have it Pete. The only way by which a person can know if God is real is if He (God) discloses Himself to that person. That is done through His Son Jesus Christ; for he who believes in God the Son, believes also in God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost. That is because in Jesus dwells the entire Godhead- “For in Him (Jesus) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” Colossians 2:9.

  31. Jaybo

    Pete, a key term in that premise is ‘objective’. While you indeed do have moral values of some sort (who doesn’t?), are they based on something outside of your own preferences? For them to be based on something outside of human subjectivity, there has to be some standard or law giver that transcends humanity. For this argument, that transcendent source is God.

  32. Murchad

    Aldo,
    I have a low opinion of Matt Slick, both for his fallacious logic and his generally deplorable trolling tactics. I think he and his fellow web ring of apologetics have made a great deal of money selling paper mache arguments to internet Christians. But I’d like to put all that aside and focus on the passages you presented at face value.

    Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 say essentially the same thing in a variety of unnecessary words, and you summarized it quite well: we can’t figure out whether or not a god exists unless he makes his presence known. There are two problems with this argument.

    1) The process by which we may come to discover and realize the existence of God is through belief and trust in Jesus Christ. “He discloses himself to those who seek him”. In other words, if you’re the type of person who needs evidence in order to accept something as true, God will give you that evidence *AFTER* you believe in him. God will justify your faith after he receives it. Matt’s explanation of God is “pay in advance, no COD’s”. I hope the illogical nature of this argument is evident.

    2) Matt ignores the non-physical arguments based on logical contradictions, which hinge upon the definitions of god we receive as part of the claim of his existence. I’m of course referring to the Problem of Evil, the Problem of Suffering etc. which to every living atheist remain insufficiently (or in some cases absurdly) addressed or refuted. If Logic was not a test we could apply to God, then apologetics would not consistently try to stress its importance. God is supposed to be logical… perfectly so, in fact.

    Matt’s first paragraph is interesting enough to leave for last, as it’s something I discussed with a few other people months ago in this message thread. Though a person’s judgment that the evidence for god’s existence is lacking is naturally a subjective one, there have been an even greater number of people for whom the evidence WAS sufficient, satisfactory and convincing. Some were convinced by a book, or a sunset, or a philosophical argument, or a flash of light and a booming voice in their ears. Each of these things is entirely subjective with regards to its value as evidence, or it’s power to convince… yet they worked. God used them (either directly or in a roundabout fashion) to facilitate his “discovery” in their minds. They had requirements, which he intentionally met… convincing them he exists and should be obeyed without depriving them of their free will. Being as He is omniscient (the tautological all-good), it stands to reason He desires that all mankind come to know him.

    What argument can be given to explain why God has failed or chosen not to meet the epistemological requirements of every human being the same way he chose to meet those of the believers? How can we explain why God (of infinite knowledge and total understanding of every living mind) is unable or unwilling to present evidence or arguments capable of convincing even the most hardened atheist? Remember, “God has done this/that/the other thing and that should be enough for you” is an entirely subjective opinion, and not the one that matters in the case of the non-believer. There should be no arbitrary length or degree of effort at which God says “I’ve done enough”, not for a superlative being.

    If God does not convince me of his existence, then the idea that there is a set objective morality that I will fail to satisfy is a problem of design. Apparently Matt’s moral argument for the existence of God would tell me that I won’t receive the same treatment as the unbelievers who received visitations, or unmistakable messages, or undeniable miracles… I must simply wake up one day and suddenly believe if I have any hope of understanding God.

  33. AldoAldo

    Murchad, I dare say that your low opinion of Matt Slick is because of his opposite view of the existence of God, and that he is very good at what he does.

    As to your responses to his statements, let’s take them one by one:

    1) The process by which we may come to discover and realize the existence of God is through belief and trust in Jesus Christ. “He discloses himself to those who seek him”. In other words, if you’re the type of person who needs evidence in order to accept something as true, God will give you that evidence *AFTER* you believe in him. God will justify your faith after he receives it. Matt’s explanation of God is “pay in advance, no COD’s”. I hope the illogical nature of this argument is evident.

    God has (BEFORE) given to every man a measure of faith (Romans 12:3 parenthesis mine). Faith is needed to believe and come to God (Hebrews 11:6). If you choose not to use that faith, it is not God’s fault that you remain an unregenerate sinner who believes that his subjectivity (foolishness) transcends the wisdom of an omniscient God (Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1).

    2) Matt ignores the non-physical arguments based on logical contradictions, which hinge upon the definitions of god we receive as part of the claim of his existence. I’m of course referring to the Problem of Evil, the Problem of Suffering etc. which to every living atheist remain insufficiently (or in some cases absurdly) addressed or refuted. If Logic was not a test we could apply to God, then apologetics would not consistently try to stress its importance. God is supposed to be logical… perfectly so, in fact.

    God is indeed logical, but He is also spiritual. Hence, the natural man (unregenerate) does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). As for the Problem of Evil, the Problem of Suffering, etc., these are due to sin entering upon the scene when spiritual man chose to disobey God, and became natural.

    3) What argument can be given to explain why God has failed or chosen not to meet the epistemological requirements of every human being the same way he chose to meet those of the believers? How can we explain why God (of infinite knowledge and total understanding of every living mind) is unable or unwilling to present evidence or arguments capable of convincing even the most hardened atheist?

    This has been answered above where God has given to every man a measure of faith. If you choose not to use or engage that faith, it is not God Who has failed, but you who choose not to use what He has given you.

  34. Murchad

    Aldo,

    The world is full of Christians, and many of them are able to conduct and articulate themselves much more admirably than Slick. The fact that I don’t hate the world because of opposing viewpoints and reasoned arguments is proof against your assumption. I just don’t like him because I think he’s a fraud, but since most of his arguments are parroted from prior apologetics I wouldn’t dismiss them based on ad homs.

    1) To summarize your response: God gave you faith, faith is all you should need to believe, if you choose not to believe that’s your fault.

    Unfortunately Aldo these are simply platitudes. I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you that simply quoting scripture in response to logical objections feels more like a brush-off than anything else. Faith is a state of mind a person has … believing something or someone when normal evidence or justification are lacking. To say God gave you a state of mind sounds suspiciously like tampering with free will. You may feel God gave you the capacity to have faith (or credulity, perhaps related), but saying God gave you faith like some tool that you must choose to wield doesn’t get us anywhere important. We’re still left with Matt’s argument, which you apparently support, that you need to “just believe” before God gives you the justification for that belief… and the only explanation I can deduce from your biblical quotes is that God preemptively gave you the ability to believe without a good reason so that you could get the proof to justify the believe that you already had.

    I’ll quote again:
    “The process for determining whether God is real is to trust the work of Christ”
    To reiterate Slick’s argument: if you want to determine whether or not God exists, start believing that he sent a human/divine aspect of himself to save humanity … and then you’ll get the answers you seek. If you don’t see the glaring absurdity of that argument, all I can do is try to analogize:

    –If you want to know whether unicorns exist, try cooking and eating one… and all will be revealed.

    2) “God is indeed logical, but He is also spiritual. Hence, the natural man (unregenerate) does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14)”

    Again, wise-sounding biblical platitudes and Slick-isms, lacking further explanation, do not address the points they were apparently meant to address. I would much prefer you explain in direct terms, simply or exhaustively if you need to in order to make your point understood. Spiritual means a hundred different things to a hundred different people… and if you present it as an antithesis to logic, then saying God is both one and the other is not coherent. That passage is one of several in the bible that implies “you just won’t understand until you believe”, which is not only disingenuous, but should raise warning flags for any rational mind.

    “As for the Problem of Evil, the Problem of Suffering, etc., these are due to sin entering upon the scene when spiritual man chose to disobey God, and became natural.”

    First, that’s not relevant, since omniscient God would have foreseen them as he sees all things past present and future. You can’t excuse God by virtue of his omnibenevolence for the presence of evil in his design without simultaneously attacking his omniscience… likewise you can’t defend God’s omniscient understanding of how large a role evil and suffering would play in his creation without questioning the nature (or worse… changing the definition of) his omnibenevolence. Saying “sin only hit the scene later and it was man’s fault” does nothing unless you’re also arguing that God didn’t know it was going to happen.

    Second, …if Good is obedience to god’s will, and evil is the opposite of that, then man is condemned for committing evil before he knew what evil was. Man’s ultimate act of evil was the very act that helped him discover what evil was. Now I’ve heard apologetics spin and twist this around in knots, going so far as to say the tree did nothing and was merely a placebo test. Between that pre-evil evil of man and the evil of the serpent, it seems fairly clear that “sin” was “on the scene” pretty much right from the start. Would you disagree that the fall of man was part of God’s design?

    By the way, the tree of knowledge of good and evil was only the first of several instances where God punished man for trying to or knowing too much. This doesn’t speak highly of religious intellectualism, does it?

    3) “This has been answered above where God has given to every man a measure of faith. If you choose not to use or engage that faith, it is not God Who has failed, but you who choose not to use what He has given you.”

    But I preempted this in my initial comment by reiterating that the argument “God did this much and that should be enough for you” is an entirely subjective and thus irrelevant objection. I thought that would suffice to avoid hearing that very response right off the bat. :P

    The God we’re speaking of is a being of superlatives, and an arbitrary limit to his efforts is not justifiable. A convincing argument is an argument that convinces… NOT an argument that you feel ought to be “convincing enough” for normal people. God has made a convincing argument, or presented convincing evidence to many humans throughout the ages, as demonstrated by the fact that …. what? … That they are convinced!
    So when I ask the question “has God made a convincing argument or presented convincing evidence to all of mankind”, there are only two possible logical responses:
    A) Yes, he has, and everyone is convinced he exists. Non-believers just lie and pretend they don’t believe because they secretly hate him. Or…
    B) No, he hasn’t, because many, many people are not convinced.

  35. ChrisChris Landwerlen

    murchad….as we contemplate the life, death and resurrection of christ, the holy spirit will help us to believe through the hearing of Gods words. the bible says that any open heart that turns to the lord, shall know the truth. that is Gods promise to us. blessings!!

  36. Chuck

    “Faith is a state of mind a person has … believing something or someone when normal evidence or justification are lacking.”

    Let’s say you are a fully functional human being and have never made a paper airplane. For the first time you see one made(let’s say it is a very basic design) and you think to yourself “That’s really easy, I can do that”. You have just displayed faith in your ability to make a paper airplane, is it accurate to say you are basing this faith on evidence that is not normal or that your faith lacks justification?

    “You can’t excuse God by virtue of his omnibenevolence for the presence of evil in his design without simultaneously attacking his omniscience…”

    A being cannot be “Good” without the the ability to reject evil combined with the option to reject evil. Therefor evil must exist for good to exist, otherwise we would not have freewill. If my only option is to do the right thing then I only have one option, where is my freewill? God is benevolent for the very reason that He chooses good over evil. God want’s us to be benevolent, therefor we must make the same choice. In light of this I don’t see the contradiction between His omnibenevolence and omniscience.

    “The God we’re speaking of is a being of superlatives, and an arbitrary limit to his efforts is not justifiable. A convincing argument is an argument that convinces… NOT an argument that you feel ought to be “convincing enough” for normal people. God has made a convincing argument, or presented convincing evidence to many humans throughout the ages, as demonstrated by the fact that …. what? … That they are convinced!
    So when I ask the question “has God made a convincing argument or presented convincing evidence to all of mankind”, there are only two possible logical responses:
    A) Yes, he has, and everyone is convinced he exists. Non-believers just lie and pretend they don’t believe because they secretly hate him. Or…
    B) No, he hasn’t, because many, many people are not convinced.

    I’m still waiting for your explanation on how we can be provided the undeniable evidence of Gods existence you are looking for without loosing our freewill to deny Gods existence?

    You say believers have had their criteria for belief fulfilled, making the assumption that a believer has no doubts, that a believer is a person who has decided with certainty that God exists.
    We all have doubts, “I have been wrong before, what If I am wrong about this?” “what if the subjective experiences that convinced me were no more than coincidence?” “Am I just seeing what I want to see?” “Have I been brainwashed?”. We can all choose to say, “yes it is just a coincidence” “Yes I am seeing what I want to see” “yes I have been brainwashed” etc. we could even find superficial reasons to justify these beliefs, but we choose not to.
    I don’t think there is a rational believer who lacks doubt and therefor both your argument that “God made them believe why doesn’t He make me believe” and your definition of what a believer is are invalid. In every “sign” I have received in my life there is room for doubt, certainty is a gift for a very few.

    I disagree with the notion that you must believe before you are provided the evidence you need to believe. In the Abrahamic religions God instructs to look to His creation for evidence of His existence. Since His creation is literally everything, the evidence of His existence is in everything, meaning the evidence is already provided. So while you do not have to believe to see the evidence, you do have to WANT to believe. You must exercise your freewill and take a genuine first step. It is not a “tool we must wield” it is a choice we must make.

  37. Murchad99

    “Let’s say you are a fully functional human being and have never made a paper airplane. For the first time you see one made(let’s say it is a very basic design) and you think to yourself “That’s really easy, I can do that”. You have just displayed faith in your ability to make a paper airplane, is it accurate to say you are basing this faith on evidence that is not normal or that your faith lacks justification?”

    Am I familiar with paper? Have I ever folded a piece of paper? If so, there should be very little out of the ordinary in witnessing someone fold a piece of paper two or three times. My “confidence” in my ability to reproduce a few simple steps, all of which are based on simple geometrical/spatial concepts, is justified by prior experiences of not being (to my knowledge) intellectually damaged or learning-impaired. I would at least be able to say that I could give it a good try and figure it out eventually, though I wouldn’t be willing to wager how well it would fly.

    Here’s a counter-analogy: a child in a dull grey robe and an upscale British accent waves a small wooden wand in an intricate and complicated gesture, utters a pseudo-Latin phrase, and a candle bursts into flame. As a fully-functioning human being who has never successfully cast a magic spell, would you believe you could duplicate it having seen it done? You may, on the basis of your previously-demonstrated visual recognition, hand-eye-coordination and basic phonetic translation skills, be willing to believe that you could mimic what the child had done to some degree. But having no experiences with magic and no framework from which to analyze the process, would you have justification in believing that the candle would light for you?

    That would be the type of belief without evidence that encompasses theistic “faith”.

    “If my only option is to do the right thing then I only have one option, where is my freewill?”

    But I’m not arguing the case for determinism here (there are too many arguments on the table already). My argument rests on the premise that God can create a man who has the theoretical ability to “choose” evil but does not. God has apparently created men who have met this criteria most of the time, and in one case, apparently, all of the time. Taken together with the premise that this sort of behavior is something God actually wants…. the fact that he does not create beings who can but whom he knows will not choose evil, all of the time, requires justification. That is the essence of the conflict between omnibenevolence and omniscience I cited… it’s the same one as before.

    “God is benevolent for the very reason that He chooses good over evil”

    If “good” is “as God wants/does”, and benevolence is the disposition to do good, then all you’re really saying is that God has the disposition to do as God would do. I refer to my prior tautological analogy: Murchad always acts ‘Murchadily’. According to Divine Command Theory, if God did what you called “evil”, that evil would suddenly become “good” by virtue of God having done it. And DCT is really the only means by which we excuse God from the atrocities of the Old Testament. It’s also the means by which we define OBJECTIVE MORALITY (I capitalize out of respect considering how rarely we have a chance to mention the original topic of this thread).

    “I’m still waiting for your explanation on how we can be provided the undeniable evidence of Gods existence you are looking for without loosing our freewill to deny Gods existence?”

    I never said I had answers to paradoxes… merely that the paradoxes exist and are evidence that the supposedly complete ideology is fundamentally flawed. I’ve stated numerous times that superlatives and concepts like perfection have no place in the real world until they’re shown they do and/or can. I have to answer your question by repeating my previous question: Can God perform a miracle so convincing that a man immediately comes to believe in him… yet still theoretically leave that man his “free will”? If yes, then there has to be a reason why this isn’t done with all men and women… a reason that does not rely on arbitrary subjective sums of evidence or appeals to man’s supernatural levels of doubt.

    “You say believers have had their criteria for belief fulfilled, making the assumption that a believer has no doubts, that a believer is a person who has decided with certainty that God exists”

    A believer is someone who has come to accept an assertion as true. It’s up to you to decide how much doubt you can have before belief actually turns to non-belief. Everyone has certain criteria that need to be met in order for them to believe, or consider themselves believers. So when I say that believers have had those requirements fulfilled (whatever they may be), the only assumption I’m making is that whatever doubts they may or may not have were insufficient to keep them from believing.

    So this…

    “I don’t think there is a rational believer who lacks doubt and therefor both your argument that “God made them believe why doesn’t He make me believe” and your definition of what a believer is are invalid. In every “sign” I have received in my life there is room for doubt, certainty is a gift for a very few.”

    … is again a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the point I’m trying to make.

    God (presumably) wanted you to believe something. God (presumably) gave you a sign. Upon seeing that sign, you… for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter what it was or how much evidence was involved or at what level of your consciousness it occurred…. you became convinced enough to believe it.

    Let’s take yet another step back into the abstract: God did something, deliberately…. and the direct result was your state of belief. It doesn’t matter if you claim to have had a say in the decision, it doesn’t matter how many other things you interject into the middle of this equation. Cause and effect.

    God’s action + your brain’s functionality = state of belief.

    We can also make the assertion that for every mind, there is an act of God (a miracle, a bit of evidence, a logical argument etc. etc.) which when paired together will result in belief. If that assertion were untrue, it would mean there was a mind for which no amount of evidence or revelation of truth would ever result in belief. And that would mean that God had deliberately created a man who by virtue of his flaws was *unable* to meet the requirements of God’s offer of salvation from God’s punishment for disbelief. Which, in addition to implying that God had created a man who was destined to be condemned, would make the same case against free will that you’re making on behalf of convinced belief.

    “In the Abrahamic religions God instructs to look to His creation for evidence of His existence. Since His creation is literally everything, the evidence of His existence is in everything, meaning the evidence is already provided.”

    But as I’ve said repeatedly…. what may be evidence sufficient for one man is not sufficient for another. The fact that you exist may be all the proof you need that a god exists. To me it’s proof that I exist. I, like many others, think that looking at a tree or a sunrise and thinking “that does it for me, I’m willing to believe God did all this” is asinine delusion. But again, that’s the point, and it’s the same one I’ve made from the start with no deviation: God knows what it would take for me to believe he exists, and he has demonstrated he’s willing to take action to bring about other peoples’ beliefs… so there is no logical reason why I and other atheists exist except that a god either does not exist, does not possess the omni- attributes common to Abrahamic religions, or the situation is incompatible with logic and God has seen fit not to explain to me how in a way that I, a logical person, would understand.

    Why should God have to come to me instead of I to him if I’m stubborn, skeptical, opposed to unwarranted credulity, narcissistic, ignorant of spiritual feelings, raised to value reason and logic…? He doesn’t. He only would if he loved me totally and completely enough to overcome the “flaws” (some of which are actually self-serving compliments imo) He deliberately created me to have.

    “So while you do not have to believe to see the evidence, you do have to WANT to believe.”

    You can’t love someone you don’t… you can only go through the motions. You can say you WANT to love them, but that really just means there are other benefits, or other things in life that would go more smoothly.

    You can’t enjoy something you don’t, you can only pretend. I’ve often said I wished I liked things like lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, so I wouldn’t constantly have to instruct people in the food service industry what “plain” actually means. But I don’t really want to like them, I find them revolting (well, less so the lettuce).

    You can’t believe something you don’t. I can’t choose to believe in God any more than you can choose to believe that the moon is made of cheese. Our minds won’t let us, because that’s not how the human mind works. To believe something so far removed from your expectation of reality requires either convincing evidence or indoctrination (the latter being one of the world’s most accepted crimes against humanity).

    Similarly, you can’t WANT to believe something that you don’t. Like love, I can say I WANT to believe… but I’m really just saying I want to belong, I want to feel comforted and not alone, I want to feel safe and warm and secure and that I have all the answers that I’ll ever really need. But I don’t want that at the cost of ignorance and self-delusion. And even if I somehow did, I couldn’t suddenly turn off my mind and “decide” to start believing in God … or the orbiting sphere of frozen dairy in the night sky. And wouldn’t He know that?

  38. Chuck

    “That would be the type of belief without evidence that encompasses theistic “faith”.”

    Not at all, like I said in my previous posts, the cosmological argument(among others) is logically sound and gives one grounds to believe on more than just blind faith.

    More importantly, you cannot possibly make such a statement without knowledge of my subjective experiences. I understand that my subjective experiences mean nothing to you as far as evidence of God is concerned but it would be ridiculous to believe they should mean nothing to me while forming my beliefs and therefor you cannot possible know what encompasses theistic faith.

    Also the intention of my analogy was simply to show that not all faith is blind faith, nothing more.

    “My argument rests on the premise that God can create a man who has the theoretical ability to “choose” evil but does not.”

    That’s a square circle mate. If He creates a being that never chooses evil because that is the way it is created, where is the freewill?

    I have the option to do A or B but I was created to choose A so I choose A.. It would be impossible for me to choose B.. no?

    “If “good” is “as God wants/does””

    Good is not “as God wants/does”, God wants/does good. Not only does He do good, He does it in the best possible way under the conditions. That is why to a theist, God’s words and actions are always good.. not because we think that God doing something automatically makes it good, but because we believe He has the omniscience required to always make the right choice and the benevolence to do so.

    “I never said I had answers to paradoxes… merely that the paradoxes exist and are evidence that the supposedly complete ideology is fundamentally flawed.”

    It is you who is insisting that If there is a God undeniable evidence should be provided while maintaining freewill, that is your ideology. Therefor the paradox exists within your ideology. Making your ideology the one that is fundamentally flawed. It is even more flawed considering your paradox is actually a contradiction.

    I can’t say 2+2=5 then when questioned about why that doesn’t add up say “I don’t have an answer to this paradox but the paradox exists”.
    The “paradox” of 2+2=5 only exists because of my assertion. It means there is something wrong with my assertion, not something wrong with basic arithmetic.

    Likewise the contradiction of freewill and undeniable evidence only exists because there is something wrong with your assertion. Namely, that such a thing is not logically possible.

    “Can God perform a miracle so convincing that a man immediately comes to believe in him… yet still theoretically leave that man his “free will”?”

    No.

    “We can also make the assertion that for every mind, there is an act of God (a miracle, a bit of evidence, a logical argument etc. etc.) which when paired together will result in belief.”

    Yes, but again, you must exercise your freewill and seek the evidence, this doesn’t mean you have to believe in God but you must be open to the possibility and take the first step. Disbelief in God is demonstrably irrational so by not believing you are exercising your freewill to be wrong, to be irrational. God has no obligation to do magic tricks to convince you to be rational and would be robbing you of your freewill by doing so.

    “But as I’ve said repeatedly…. what may be evidence sufficient for one man is not sufficient for another.”

    As I have said repeatedly… there is no way for a being to be provided undeniable evidence and at the same time retain the freewill to deny God’s existence.

    If I wanted I could dismiss all the evidence I have been provided as coincidence or confirmation bias, I choose not to. You choose the opposite, for God to interfere with your choice would be interfering with your freewill, if you have some way where He could do so without interfering with your freewill, please explain.

    “I, like many others, think that looking at a tree or a sunrise and thinking “that does it for me, I’m willing to believe God did all this” is asinine delusion”.

    That is because you do not want to believe, while the other person does want to believe, as is supported by quantum physics, to a degree our reality is what we make of it. You have absolutely no reason to believe that these beliefs are “asinine delusion”(besides that is what you will to be true) because there is no logical argument supporting the possibility of anythings existence without God, neither is there scientific evidence to support this possibility.

    Having said that, those things alone wouldn’t convince me either.

    “Why should God have to come to me instead of I to him if I’m stubborn, skeptical, opposed to unwarranted credulity, narcissistic, ignorant of spiritual feelings, raised to value reason and logic…? He doesn’t. He only would if he loved me totally and completely enough to overcome the “flaws” (some of which are actually self-serving compliments imo) He deliberately created me to have.”

    And, again.. How exactly can He do this while you maintain your freewill not to believe? Also logic and reason point to God. :P

    “You can’t love someone you don’t… you can only go through the motions. You can say you WANT to love them, but that really just means there are other benefits, or other things in life that would go more smoothly.

    You can’t believe something you don’t. I can’t choose to believe in God any more than you can choose to believe that the moon is made of cheese. Our minds won’t let us, because that’s not how the human mind works. To believe something so far removed from your expectation of reality requires either convincing evidence or indoctrination”

    That’s what I said.. go through the motions, you can’t love someone you don’t, but you can try to love them, you can’t believe something you don’t but you can be open to it and you don’t have to believe in God, but you can have a genuine thirst for the truth of the matter. Study, attack your own beliefs as rigorously as you attack theistic ones, be honest to yourself when it comes to the reasons you do or don’t believe something, you will find your position indefensible.

    Similarly, you can’t WANT to believe something that you don’t.

    Sure you can, I want to believe that the next lottery ticket I buy is gonna be a winner, I wanted to believe that there is no God, that I am the highest authority I will ever answer to. I really gave atheism a good go, but like I said above it is a position that if you are honest with yourself is ultimately indefensible.

    “Like love, I can say I WANT to believe… but I’m really just saying I want to belong, I want to feel comforted and not alone, I want to feel safe and warm and secure and that I have all the answers that I’ll ever really need. But I don’t want that at the cost of ignorance and self-delusion. And even if I somehow did, I couldn’t suddenly turn off my mind and “decide” to start believing in God … or the orbiting sphere of frozen dairy in the night sky. And wouldn’t He know that?”

    The usual atheist baseless assumptions about why people believe. Surely it could not be a rational view of reality based on logic and life experiences. No it must be that we are lonely and want to be part of a group.. That we are afraid of death(cos somehow the prospect of failing to live up to Gods standards and facing hell is less scary than nothing happening). It’s as valid as me saying the only reason you don’t believe is because you have an authority problem, or you want to live a life of sin etc.

  39. Murchad99

    “the cosmological argument(among others) is logically sound and gives one grounds to believe on more than just blind faith.”

    The Cosmological Argument attempts to solve the problem of the chicken and the egg by essentially saying “All eggs need a chicken, so there must have been an immortal chicken who never needed an egg”. It’s only sound as an argument if you use equivocation to make the premises appear true. But the fact that I don’t agree with the quality of your evidence is less important to our point than the fact that you claim to be basing your views around evidence. If you feel that you have some kind of justifiable logical evidence or a logical basis from which to demonstrate the existence of a god, and argue logically and solely from those points, then I would say you’re not utilizing the “faith” we’re talking about. The faith practiced by most theists, and advocated by most religions, neither emphasizes nor requires nor encourages a reasoned judgment arrived at through skeptical analysis … or a belief based on calculated epistemic probabilities. Let’s not conflate the two concepts.

    I stress the distinction because… even if you were to claim you arrived at the belief in a god by means of classical logical arguments (as opposed to having arrived at an unsupported belief and then seeking arguments to justify that belief), the fact that you frequently tell me I have to “take the first step” towards accepting the truth of something while in a state of justified non-belief speaks directly to the *other* kind of faith. And pretending I haven’t studied all of these arguments, or are “hard of heart”, or that I would just see the light if only I opened my mind and took a step forward towards who-or-whatnot (or other equivalent platitudes), is pure patronization. Which is fine…. except when it gets in the way of the discussion.

    “Also the intention of my analogy was simply to show that not all faith is blind faith, nothing more.”

    And my argument was that not all belief is faith. I think we might be saying similar things (at least some of the time), just using different words.

    “That’s a square circle mate. If He creates a being that never chooses evil because that is the way it is created, where is the freewill?

    I have the option to do A or B but I was created to choose A so I choose A.. It would be impossible for me to choose B.. no?”

    Free Will is a square circle, yes! And it’s not just a problem for Godism. Remember what I said about paradoxes. I didn’t create it…. rejecting the manner in which we make excuses for or try to circumvent the obvious paradoxes of theistic philosophy does not equal creating the problem.

    You have free will (allegedly), you have the ability to choose B…. yet your mind is such that you just happen to always choose A. You’re saying that invalidates free will? How many times in life do you have to choose B instead of A in order for you to qualify for a free-willed entity? Once? A dozen? What if a man “freely” chooses A 70% of the time and B 30%. Did God know the man would end up with that ratio? Did God create exactly THAT man, knowing that THAT man would end his life with 70/30… or, did God close his eyes, roll the dice and say “let’s see what happens”… and the man coincidentally chose to be good more than 2/3 of the time?

    How many people do you think have ever lived… who did at least ONE thing in their life that God didn’t know they were going to do before he created them? Because if you don’t believe in the concept of “omniscience” then we’re not talking about the same creator of everything that has ever existed.

    I get the sense that you’re a libertarian incompatibilist. But your argument that God can’t create a person who will do certain things a certain way is only valid if either:
    A) God isn’t omniscient and doesn’t know (or can’t predict) the ultimate results of his design decisions, or…
    B) The thing from which your decision-making processes derive (your free will) was not created by God, and therefore not subject to his design.

    If you reject both A and B, then we’re left with a god who designed you, gave you the mechanism he created by which you can make decisions, did so knowing exactly what decisions you would make, and thus chose to create you when he could have created someone else instead …. someone whose design, whose free will choices, whose experiences and disposition and judgments would have resulted in different, even more morally correct decisions.

    “It is you who is insisting that If there is a God undeniable evidence should be provided while maintaining freewill, that is your ideology.”

    Actually Chuck, it’s you who keeps using the word “undeniable”… so in effect, you’re creating the contradiction within your objection. My assertion was that God could make a “convincing argument”… i.e., one that results in a man being convinced. I based this assertion on the premise that God HAS convinced men of things. He’s done so using miracles, books, preachers, beautiful sunsets etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam. A convincing argument doesn’t need to be the greatest argument in the world. It doesn’t need to take the world by storm. It doesn’t need to turn us into mindslaves, forced to accept against our “will”. It simply needs to be such that we are convinced.

    Let’s repeat, once again:

    – God knows (omniscience) that if he takes action A, the result will be that person P comes to believe idea I.
    – God does A, and P believes I, exactly as God knew would happen.
    – Unless you take away the fact that God knows, or take away God’s ability to perform action A, it doesn’t matter whether P could or could not have chosen to believe or disbelieve idea I. He didn’t. If he had, God would have known that A would not have convinced him, and would have taken A deliberately to fail.

    ““Can God perform a miracle so convincing that a man immediately comes to believe in him… yet still theoretically leave that man his “free will”?”

    No.”

    Well I agree, but only because I don’t believe in God. But tell that to the millions of people who started believing in a god as a result of something they perceived to be a miracle. Tell that to Saul of Tarsus. Countless, literally countless people around the world will tell you they started believing in God because they heard or witnessed his message. And yes, granted… most of them really started believing because that’s how they were raised from childhood, but for quite a few they genuinely mean it as truth.

    You know as well as I do that if God appeared above every major city in the world like Galactus, simultaneously spoke directly and personally to every living human being about their lives and deepest thoughts, then initiated the Rapture.. all in a way that was verifiable so we could safely conclude we weren’t momentarily hallucinating… you know most of the non-believers would suddenly start believing. Their epistemological requirements would have been met, in most cases surpassed. If you can admit that, then either your above response becomes demonstrably incorrect… or you feel that witnessing a miracle robs you of free will (which is a problem since he’s apparently done it numerous times).

    “Yes, but again, you must exercise your freewill and seek the evidence, this doesn’t mean you have to believe in God but you must be open to the possibility and take the first step.”

    I am open to the possibility of a god, if the evidence firmly supports it… and I have sought the evidence, studied, reviewed and discussed it extensively. It would take extraordinary evidence to justify such an extraordinary claim. You can tell me I’m not open, or I haven’t sought, or this or that, just like I can tell you you’re not really a believer… but that’s pointless.
    What I don’t have to do is “take a first step”. “Disbelief” is defined as the inability or unwillingness to believe… and I am, based on the mind I currently possess, unable… and unwilling…. to believe an incredible assertion that is so lacking in verifiable, justifiable evidence.

    This “you just need to try, you just need to open your heart” is silly fallacy. I’ll say it here rather than respond to the multiple times you’ve said it in your post…. it’s a false-condescending brush-off. Please don’t tell me I haven’t put in enough effort simply because I don’t have the credulity required for this particular belief. Either the evidence is convincing… or it’s not. You can’t tell me God has never converted a skeptic (unless you’re an atheist).

    “I choose not to. You choose the opposite, for God to interfere with your choice would be interfering with your freewill”

    How many math teachers do you know that are ok with their students choosing to believe that 2+2=5? Does demonstrating it to them, teaching them, showing them, answering their objections, having them count it out slowly… does any of that qualify as infringement upon free will? Despite all that the student can still “choose” to believe otherwise. Yet how many of them do? No… not many, thankfully. Because they received, ultimately, a “convincing” argument.

    Now imagine the math teacher was infinitely smart, had infinite resources, and was infinitely invested in your salvation because he’s responsible for your brain and your entire academic environment leading up to this class that resulted in your struggles with basic arithmetic. He can’t take your hand, shove a pen in it and force you to write “2+2=4″…. but he would sure as hell do everything he could to convince you of the truth.

    Free Will is being used far, far too often as a way to excuse “God” for empirically unconvincing arguments and very low levels of effort. Peoples’ souls are at stake, right?

    “You have absolutely no reason to believe that these beliefs are “asinine delusion”(besides that is what you will to be true) because there is no logical argument supporting the possibility of anythings existence without God, neither is there scientific evidence to support this possibility. “

    I did make it clear that it was a subjective assessment. And my subjective assessment of how asinine it is to look at a tree and conclude “God!” has to do with my epistemological method. It has absolutely nothing to do with and does not in any way hang upon the existence or non-existence of logical proof of a godless universe.

    “And, again.. How exactly can He do this while you maintain your freewill not to believe?”

    Already addressed, but I’ll add that I can think of a number of ways in which a god could demonstrate his existence to me such that I would find his epistemic probability greater than improbability, and would thus come to believe. And if I can think of a bunch of ways just off the top of my head, imagine what all-knowing all-powerful god could come up with.

    “Also logic and reason point to God. :P”

    Yes, but with which finger? :)

    “Sure you can, I want to believe that the next lottery ticket I buy is gonna be a winner”

    I think you want the next lottery ticket to be a winner, same as me. But we wouldn’t want to believe it’s a winner unless it was, would we? If you believed it was a winner you’d call a lawyer, a private security firm, and then your family and friends. If you believed every ticket was a winner it would make your life a miserable roller coaster of euphoria and disappointment. I don’t want to believe anything that’s not true… or that I don’t have a good reason to accept as true. Maybe I’m in the minority.

    “The usual atheist baseless assumptions about why people believe. Surely it could not be a rational view of reality based on logic and life experiences.”

    Power down your phasers, Chuck, you’re not getting my point. Why you believe is your business… be it personal experience or cosmological/teleological argument etc. etc.. There’s a reason you came to believe what you do (my point all along). Whatever you read or experienced in your life convinced you. Or, if you still feel the need to interject free will, resulted in your mind being in a state where you could freely choose to believe yadda yadda. You were able to reconcile these cosmic supernatural assertions with logic, somehow.

    But if you couldn’t…. my point is, you wouldn’t want to. And if you convinced yourself that you did, it would be because of other reasons… reasons other than wanting to believe something that you don’t. You couldn’t believe that existence was a naturally-occurring infinitely regressive hyperdimensional multiverse without some fantastically convincing evidence… and I don’t think you could suddenly decide to *want* to believe it without a good reason. You exist intellectually unable to accept as true such an unsupported assumption, and it would be just as off-putting for anyone to tell you “just open your mind, take the first step and you too can believe in the infinite multiverse” as it is for an atheist to hear it from a believer.

  40. Chuck

    “The faith practiced by most theists, and advocated by most religions, neither emphasizes nor requires nor encourages a reasoned judgment arrived at through skeptical analysis … or a belief based on calculated epistemic probabilities. Let’s not conflate the two concepts.”

    The instruction to study God’s creation is in all the Abrahamic religions. Can you give examples of where blind faith is commanded, as far as proof of Gods existence is concerned?

    “the fact that you frequently tell me I have to “take the first step” towards accepting the truth of something while in a state of justified non-belief speaks directly to the *other* kind of faith.”

    What I said, or at least what I intended to say was, you have to “take the first step” towards SEEKING the truth of something, not accepting a truth.
    I don’t see how your non-belief is justified, if I did I would agree with you and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. :)

    I did feel that what I was typing could be misconstrued as me being preachy so my apologies for not being more clear.

    “And pretending I haven’t studied all of these arguments, or are “hard of heart”, or that I would just see the light if only I opened my mind and took a step forward towards who-or-whatnot (or other equivalent platitudes), is pure patronization.”

    I am not pretending anything, I have no idea what you have or have not studied, the state of your heart, how you have come to the conclusions you have come to etc.

    And my argument was that not all belief is faith.

    I am aware of that, however I thought you were using the word faith to mean blind faith, which I objected to, if you are referring to blind faith I think it should be made clear.

    “Free Will is a square circle, yes! And it’s not just a problem for Godism. Remember what I said about paradoxes. I didn’t create it…. rejecting the manner in which we make excuses for or try to circumvent the obvious paradoxes of theistic philosophy does not equal creating the problem.”

    No, freewill is not a square circle, well not that I can see anyway, what makes you think it is?

    The notion that you can be created to only do good while maintaining your freewill is the square circle.. and here I was thinking I was being
    unnecessarily repetitive in my last post. :D

    “You have free will (allegedly), you have the ability to choose B…. yet your mind is such that you just happen to always choose A. You’re saying that invalidates free will?”

    Yes, that’s what I’m saying. There is no “you just happen to always choose A”, either I freely choose A over B or I am created to choose A in which case B is not an option. If my mind is such that I choose A all the time because my mind was created in a way that I would not choose B then there is no freewill. I’ll ask again, if you have a logical explanation on how it would be possible, please explain.

    “How many times in life do you have to choose B instead of A in order for you to qualify for a free-willed entity? Once? A dozen? What if a man “freely” chooses A 70% of the time and B 30%. Did God know the man would end up with that ratio? Did God create exactly THAT man, knowing that THAT man would end his life with 70/30… or, did God close his eyes, roll the dice and say “let’s see what happens”… and the man coincidentally chose to be good more than 2/3 of the time?”

    It’s not about numbers. Let’s say we build a computer that could also select option A or B, does the computer have freewill? It is the manner in which you come to the decision that matters.

    If I only choose A because I have learnt that it is correct and B is incorrect and I find being correct preferential to being incorrect, then I am
    exercising my freewill.

    If I only choose A because I was created to only choose A then I am not exercising my freewill.

    “How many people do you think have ever lived… who did at least ONE thing in their life that God didn’t know they were going to do before he created them? Because if you don’t believe in the concept of “omniscience” then we’re not talking about the same creator of everything that has ever existed.”

    I do believe that God is omniscient, I probably just have a different definition of it. For me omniscience is knowing everything it is possible to know.
    Omnipotents is the power to do anything it is possible to do.

    For something to be knowable it must have existed in someway, at some point in time right? The past EXISTED, the present is EXISTING.. where does the future fit in? It is GOING to exist. It doesn’t exist yet and is therefor unknowable in a universe where free will exists.

    If I know everything about everything that has ever happened and is currently happening, then I know everything.. no? If I know everything about your past and everything about your present then I know everything there is to know about you.

    Not knowing something that has never existed doesn’t disqualify you from omniscience just like not being able to make a square circle doesn’t disqualify you from being omnipotent.

    I get the sense that you’re a libertarian incompatibilist. But your argument that God can’t create a person who will do certain things a certain way is only valid if either:
    A) God isn’t omniscient and doesn’t know (or can’t predict) the ultimate results of his design decisions, or…
    B) The thing from which your decision-making processes derive (your free will) was not created by God, and therefore not subject to his design.

    I’m not sure what a libertarian incompatibilist is, but out of curiosity what would you label yourself in this regards?

    How about:
    C) The thing from which my decision making processes derive was created by God, to not be subject to His design? Or more accurately, it is part of His design that my will has some independence.

    “If you reject both A and B, then we’re left with a god who designed you, gave you the mechanism he created by which you can make decisions, did so knowing exactly what decisions you would make, and thus chose to create you when he could have created someone else instead …. someone whose design, whose free will choices, whose experiences and disposition and judgments would have resulted in different, even more morally correct decisions.”

    While I believe God can predict all the possible decisions I will ever face and the consequences of each decision I could possibly make, I don’t think He knows the future for reasons I stated above.

    “Actually Chuck, it’s you who keeps using the word “undeniable”… so in effect, you’re creating the contradiction within your objection. My assertion was that God could make a “convincing argument”… i.e., one that results in a man being convinced. I based this assertion on the premise that God HAS convinced men of things. He’s done so using miracles, books, preachers, beautiful sunsets etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam. A convincing argument doesn’t need to be the greatest argument in the world. It doesn’t need to take the world by storm. It doesn’t need to turn us into mindslaves, forced to accept against our “will”. It simply needs to be such that we are convinced.”

    Isn’t an argument that you find convincing one that you cannot deny while remaining honest to yourself?

    “God does A, and P believes I, exactly as God knew would happen.”

    So where is the part where P freely chooses to believe I? Without this element there is no freewill. Without freewill it is meaningless that P believes I.

    If God knows that by doing A, P believes I, then as soon as God does A, P has no other choice than believing I.

    “But tell that to the millions of people who started believing in a god as a result of something they perceived to be a miracle. Tell that to Saul of
    Tarsus. Countless, literally countless people around the world will tell you they started believing in God because they heard or witnessed his message. And yes, granted… most of them really started believing because that’s how they were raised from childhood, but for quite a few they genuinely mean it as truth.”

    Without access to their subjective experiences we have no way of knowing if they solely believe because of some perceived miracle nor how convincing they found it. We also cannot know their level of “openness” prior to the convincing event.

    “You know as well as I do that if God appeared above every major city in the world like Galactus, simultaneously spoke directly and personally to every living human being about their lives and deepest thoughts, then initiated the Rapture.. all in a way that was verifiable so we could safely conclude we weren’t momentarily hallucinating… you know most of the non-believers would suddenly start believing. Their epistemological requirements would have been met, in most cases surpassed. If you can admit that, then either your above response becomes demonstrably incorrect… or you feel that witnessing a miracle robs you of free will (which is a problem since he’s apparently done it numerous times).”

    Yes, that would be God forcing them to believe. Witnessing a miracle that you couldn’t possibly deny was an act of God, means just that. You
    can’t deny it any longer. Your standards of what God can do to convince you should be in accord with this.

    What I don’t have to do is “take a first step”. “Disbelief” is defined as the inability or unwillingness to believe… and I am, based on the mind I
    currently possess, unable… and unwilling…. to believe an incredible assertion that is so lacking in verifiable, justifiable evidence.

    Exactly. As long as you remain unwilling God would be interfering with your will if He were to provide evidence beyond what you can deduce from our reality.

    “This “you just need to try, you just need to open your heart” is silly fallacy. I’ll say it here rather than respond to the multiple times you’ve
    said it in your post…. it’s a false-condescending brush-off. Please don’t tell me I haven’t put in enough effort simply because I don’t have the
    credulity required for this particular belief. Either the evidence is convincing… or it’s not. You can’t tell me God has never converted a skeptic
    (unless you’re an atheist).”

    Like I said above, that was not my intention. Rest assured, not only am I not interested in converting you or “showing you the way”, according to my religion it is not possible, I am having this discussion to see if I can learn something, I am finding my way. I did however consider myself an atheist for about 6 months, but like I said in my previous post, I found it to be an indefensible position.

    What I am saying is that I believe you have not looked at the evidence properly, that your logic is flawed. Again, otherwise we wouldn’t be disagreeing and having this interesting (imo) discussion. :)

    “How many math teachers do you know that are ok with their students choosing to believe that 2+2=5? Does demonstrating it to them, teaching them, showing them, answering their objections, having them count it out slowly… does any of that qualify as infringement upon free will? Despite all that the student can still “choose” to believe otherwise. Yet how many of them do? No… not many, thankfully. Because they received, ultimately, a “convincing” argument.

    Now imagine the math teacher was infinitely smart, had infinite resources, and was infinitely invested in your salvation because he’s responsible for your brain and your entire academic environment leading up to this class that resulted in your struggles with basic arithmetic. He can’t take your hand, shove a pen in it and force you to write “2+2=4?…. but he would sure as hell do everything he could to convince you of the truth.”

    What if the student has decided to believe that 2 to us is 2.5 to him? If the student has stated, no matter what other problems this causes to his self, both the mathematical problems that arise because of this choice and with regards to the ramifications it would have on his grades, does the teacher have a right or obligation to force him to think otherwise? Would the teacher not be robbing the student of their freewill if they could somehow force them to believe that 2+2=4 after they have made their choice?

    “Free Will is being used far, far too often as a way to excuse “God” for empirically unconvincing arguments and very low levels of effort. Peoples’ souls are at stake, right?”

    I don’t think the frequency of it’s use matters. Should I change my beliefs because you’ve heard freewill used in other arguments.. or in this argument too many times. If there is a flaw in my use of freewill please point it out.

    “I did make it clear that it was a subjective assessment. And my subjective assessment of how asinine it is to look at a tree and conclude “God!” has to do with my epistemological method. It has absolutely nothing to do with and does not in any way hang upon the existence or non-existence of logical proof of a godless universe.”

    Yes and my assessment was that your epistemological method was flawed for the reasons I gave in my response..

    Why is it wrong of me to think that your assessment of the ideology as “asinine”, is flawed based on the fact that you don’t seem have a reasonable alternative nor knowledge of what looking at a tree means to anyone besides yourself?

    “Already addressed, but I’ll add that I can think of a number of ways in which a god could demonstrate his existence to me such that I would find his epistemic probability greater than improbability, and would thus come to believe. And if I can think of a bunch of ways just off the top of my head, imagine what all-knowing all-powerful god could come up with.”

    I don’t believe you have addressed it successfully. Can you share some of these examples?

    “Yes, but with which finger? :)”

    All of them!

    “I think you want the next lottery ticket to be a winner, same as me. But we wouldn’t want to believe it’s a winner unless it was, would we?”

    That’s not what I said. I said “I want to believe my next ticket is going to be a winner”. Well I said “gonna” but you get it.
    What this means is that “I want it to be true that my next ticket is a winner”. This doesn’t mean I have to believe it is actually going to win, but if I don’t think it is possible or I don’t want it to be true that I win the lottery then I am not going to buy a ticket am I? And if I freely choose not to buy the ticket it would be wrong of anyone to force me to do so.

    “But if you couldn’t…. my point is, you wouldn’t want to”

    We have already established that as far as we know everyone has a tipping point from believer to unbeliever and vice versa so “couldn’t” is not a
    factor, it is up to the individual to have reasonable standards for what they find convincing, not God. If God gave us these standards then they would not be our own.
    All that leaves is “I don’t want to” and as long as you don’t want to, you wont.
    To be clear, I am not preaching, just expressing the view of reality that makes sense to me when freewill and God are factored into the equation.

    If you don’t want to believe because of the standards that you have set and if nobody forced you to have these standards, the only way God can make you want to believe is by interfering with your freewill, there is no way around this.

    “You couldn’t believe that existence was a naturally-occurring infinitely regressive hyperdimensional multiverse without some fantastically convincing evidence… and I don’t think you could suddenly decide to *want* to believe it without a good reason.”

    Sure I could, if someone could show how it is scientifically or logically possible, I would definitely be open to it. It doesn’t have to be
    “fantastically convincing”, just show how infinite regress is possible or what logical reason I should believe that organic matter can come from
    inorganic matter and I will be open to these possibilities, not saying I will believe them, but I will stop considering them to be wrong.

  41. JamieJamie

    Hi Chuck and Murchad, thanks for your willingness to pour so much of yourselves into this conversation. I am being stretched by the ideas you guys are discussing.

    I just have a little interjection here regarding the idea that if God performed a miracle that was undeniably divine people would automatically believe. If the events of the Bible have any validity, that has already been proven false. Jesus preformed many obviously supernatural acts culminating in His resurrection from the dead which he had predicted and His opponents were aware of and tried to prevent. But even with all that evidence there were those who chose not to believe. Even one who had walked with Jesus as a Disciple, Judas, was unwilling to trust in Jesus’ plans but rejected and betrayed Jesus.

    So the Bible acknowledges that even when people are given inescapable evidence there are those who will reframe that evidence or ignore it in order to reject the authority of God in their life.

    I guess we see that in people all the time. Even in light of all the evidence of NASA’s exploration of the moon, there are still many who choose to believe that it was staged. The world is full of evidence that healthy diet can help control so many health concerns junk food companies still thrive. Undeniable evidence does not always translate into a changing the direction of a person’s life.

  42. Chuck

    “Hi Chuck and Murchad, thanks for your willingness to pour so much of yourselves into this conversation. I am being stretched by the ideas you guys are discussing.”

    Hi Jamie, it’s been a pleasure and I would also like to thank Murchad for his input.

    “I just have a little interjection here regarding the idea that if God performed a miracle that was undeniably divine people would automatically
    believe. If the events of the Bible have any validity, that has already been proven false. Jesus preformed many obviously supernatural acts culminating in His resurrection from the dead which he had predicted and His opponents were aware of and tried to prevent. But even with all that evidence there were those who chose not to believe. Even one who had walked with Jesus as a Disciple, Judas, was unwilling to trust in Jesus’ plans but rejected and betrayed Jesus.”

    I think there are a couple problems with this reasoning mate.

    Firstly, it is only valid if you accept the Bible as true, which Murchad doesn’t. So telling him that “Jesus performed many obviously supernatural acts” is meaningless since to him the Bible is just a story written by men. It’s like someone trying to convince you that “whenever we see lightning it is the work of Zeus” and stating “we can verify this from ancient Greek texts”. First the person would have to convince you that the ancient Greek texts contained truth, no?

    Secondly, it’s not about God doing something that convinces some people, because for whatever reason the miracles failed to convince everyone. If I understood correctly Murchad is asking, since God knows exactly what it would of taken to convince the people who remained unbelievers after the miracles, why did He not do whatever it takes to convince them and why isn’t He doing whatever it takes to convince him and other atheists now. He believes that since God is supposed to be All Good and Loving it is inconceivable that He would allow anyone to be an atheist and since there is in fact at least one atheist(himself), this is evidence that there is no God.

    IMO he is failing to take into account the fact that unless a being has a real choice between right and wrong, right and wrong are meaningless. If you cannot do bad what is the meaning in doing good? If you cannot fail, what does it mean to be succeeding? If you cannot be irrational what does it mean to be rational? If you cannot be an unbeliever what does it mean to be a believer? If God denies us any of these things we are nothing more than highly advanced robots.

    “So the Bible acknowledges that even when people are given inescapable evidence there are those who will reframe that evidence or ignore it in order to reject the authority of God in their life.

    Which is why the evidence Murchad is asking for must be undeniable imo. Even in the the example he gives above he says:

    “You know as well as I do that if God appeared above every major city in the world like Galactus, simultaneously spoke directly and personally to every living human being about their lives and deepest thoughts, then initiated the Rapture.. all in a way that was verifiable so we could safely
    conclude we weren’t momentarily hallucinating… you know most of the non-believers would suddenly start believing.”

    The problem I see with his reasoning here is that he is using the argument from non-belief. By his own admission however, even such a miraculous event as he described above leaves some room for doubt. Making it deniable since it would convince most nonbelievers, but not all. Since all are not convinced, even the incredible miracle he stated above would not meet the criteria to satisfy the argument from non-belief. Only undeniable evidence would, but as I have stated many times already, I don’t see how it is possible to provide such evidence without losing our choice not to believe.

    Undeniable evidence does not always translate into a changing the direction of a person’s life.

    That’s the trick. :)

    There is no such thing as undeniable evidence because we have been gifted(or cursed.. or just happen to have, depending on your perspective)with a will that is free, no matter how compelling the evidence is we are all free to accept or deny it. Some evidence is so compelling that we would look like absolute idiots to deny it, other evidence we would look like idiots to believe, but at the end of the day if we weren’t free to be idiots we would not be free at all.

    @ Murchad: My apologies if I have misrepresented any of your positions.

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