The Extraordinary Story Behind True Reason

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TrueReasonKregel.pngHave you heard the story of True Reason? It’s the tale of a book that went from conception to completion in just seventy-seven days; a story that includes both uncommon cooperation and odd sorts of conflict, with God’s hand obviously on it at every step. The surprises continue all the way through to the second edition, just released by Kregel Publications.

It started with a misnamed atheistic rally.

On March 24, 2012, leading New Atheists held “the largest gathering of the secular movement in history” on the mall in Washington D.C. They called it the “Reason Rally.” I had heard about this, and it bothered me. I’d read enough New Atheist literature, and debated enough atheists online, to reach the conclusion that reason was the New Atheists’ weakness, not their strength. “Reason,” for them, seemed to be summed up in rejecting any knowledge that doesn’t come through empirical study, especially science.

Unfortunately, by my observations, “reason” hadn’t seemed to include thinking rationally from evidences or premises through to a conclusion; or at least, it didn’t seem to include that in practice. They just didn’t do it very consistently well. Yet in virtually all their self-descriptions, not just the Reason Rally, they branded themselves the part of reason.

This bothered me, as I said. More specifically, it was bothering me at 3:00 am on Christmas Eve morning, 2011, of all times. As I lay awake there, I kept asking myself, Why are we letting them get away with this? Someone should write a book. But it’s only three months away!

The 77-Day Book

Then I realized I had friends who could write, and that an ebook would take no time at all to publish. Seventy-seventy days later it was up for sale on Amazon.com (that link is for the first edition ebook only; the second, print edition is here). During its first weekend it edged out Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” as the top selling book in the atheism category.

The book was partly about New Atheists’ inconsistent performance in the practice of reason, and also about the reasonability of Christianity as a belief system.

God did  amazing things to make it happen. I had some serious foot surgery done on February 16, but being laid up actually gave me more time to work on it. Patheos.com helped us get it published.

The real credit, humanly speaking, goes  to all the contributors who cooperated with a very quick and intensive approach to getting it completed, and especially to Carson Weitnauer (now the U.S. Director for Ravi Zacharis International Ministries) who stepped in to co-edit it with me. The Christian Apologetics Alliance was a great source of encouragement, and it was where we connected with most of our writers. William Lane Craig and Sean McDowell graciously allowed us to include some of their work.

At the Reason Rally

Ratio Christi, the new (at that time) student apologetics alliance, decided to bring students to the Reason Rally. I went with them, co-leading the outreach there with Blake Anderson.  At the time we were simply friends; since then I’ve since taken up a position as Ratio Christi’s National Field Director. I was in a wheelchair, still recovering from foot surgery.

Rr2
At the Reason Rally

David Silverman, the Reason Rally’s lead organizer, had sent me a blistering email demanding that we stay away, threatening to have security “escort you to the First Amendment pen.” Dozens of atheists asked how we felt “entitled” to “crash” their event; as if they were the first advocacy group to hold a meeting at the base of the Washington Monument and have anyone show up who disagreed.

I just published Silverman’s email here on my blog—after getting  advice from ADF attorneys, who helped us in many ways during this time.

We showed up, of course, and for the most part it was a good experience. We handed out free bottles of water and a pamphlet with the first chapter of True Reason.

I could tell you about the encounter Blake and I had with arch-atheist P. Z. Myers (“Are they ridiculing you here? They should be,” he told us). Or I could share the story of the man who told me, “I’m not interested in someone rising from the dead. I want you to tell me how the donkey talked”—but that one has already been told.

Head-To-Head with Dawkins (In a Way)

Patheos.com opened the door for me to get a column published in the Washington Post, right next to one by Dawkins. The editor titled mine, “Atheists Don’t Own Reason.” I had wanted for a long time to go head-to-head with Dawkins. This came satisfyingly close to that.

True Reason Goes From Ebook to Print

Three of our ebook’s chapters were reprints from previous books published by B&H and Kregel. They had given us ebook permission only. Carson and I were working with Patheos to bring the book into print. When I inquired with Kregel about print permissions, Dennis Hillman, their lead publisher, contacted me and offered to do it for us. Patheos.com had had a change of personnel, and the person working our account (who is also no longer there) was surprised to discover they only held ebook rights, not print rights.

So the door was opened for us to have it published by a legitimate academic and trade publishing house, at the publisher’s initiative—another miracle, if you ask me!

Thank God for all he has done. Our goal was to stand in the way of the atheists placing an uncontested claim on reason. I wonder if we could have done even more, but we’re grateful God used us to do what we did.

The Rest of the Story

I had originally wanted to title the book, “Reason, Really?” as a direct rebuttal to the Reason Rally. But Carson Weitnauer and our helpers at Patheos.com convinced me that the book could long outlive the one small splash of the Reason Rally. It turned out they were right. We gave it a more perennial-sounding title, and people have kept expressing interest in it, right up to the publication of this new edition. New Atheists still brand themselves the party of reason, and they still practice it poorly.

The print book includes some corrections (77 days, remember), some updates based on feedback from the first edition, and most importantly, two additional chapters (details here), a foreword by John Stonestreet, and a host of prominent endorsements.

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311 Responses to “ The Extraordinary Story Behind True Reason

  1. Tom,

    Congratulations on the publication of True Reason. I ordered it already from Amazon and expect it to arrive tomorrow. I can hardly wait to read it. I’ll give you a review and comments once I’ve read it and absorbed its wisdom.

    Thanks so much to all of those who are bringing this important book into our hands, minds and hearts. God bless you for your ministry.

    Jenna Black

  2. “reason was the New Atheists’ weakness, not their strength”

    Tom: I’m an atheist blogger. Do you ever debate? I would like to find someone with whom I can have an online debate–same basic structure as a face-to-face debate except not real time.

    Is this something you’d find interesting? If not, can you point me to a Christian apologist who might be a better fit?

    Thanks,
    Bob

  3. From Bob’s website: Habermas says that the resurrection “accounts for all five [minimal] facts very nicely” (p. 76). Okay, but so does the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Show me how the Flying Spaghetti Monster can’t explain any aspect of the gospel story and I’ll show you how you underestimate the Flying Spaghetti Monster.)

    I hope this isn’t your typical style of argumentation, Bob.

  4. Really, Flying Spaghetti Monster! Anyone who utters those words should be officially banned from being taken seriously. Now, if I could just find the right official.

  5. BillT,
    Bob referenced the FSM in the interview that Billy linked to. Amazing, but true. Where’s that official?

  6. You had to go there Steve 😉

    Anyway, while Bob mentions the FSM (the most delicious of all gods) in the discussion and is utterly baffled by the notion that “Why?” questions might not always be descriptive, he is respectful throughout.

    Bob, is there any evidence for God?

  7. SteveK + BillT: I don’t know whether that’s typical or not, but if you’re looking for me to back away from that, I won’t. You don’t care for the comparison between Christianity and Pastafarianism? Show me why the comparison is inappropriate. (If you’re saying that no one on the Pastafarian side gets offended but they do on the Christian side, I’ll agree with that, but surely you’re not saying that this is relevant?)

    Billy S: Yes, I suppose you could say that all the Christian arguments provide evidence for God. That the New Testament exists is more evidence than their not existing … but that’s not saying much.

    BTW, you saw my initial question to Tom about debating. If that doesn’t work for Tom, can anyone connect me with other Christian apologists (bloggers, say) who would be interested in an online debate on any of the usual Christian vs. atheist topics? Much appreciated!

    BTW 2, is there any way to get email notifications about new comments? It was only by serendipity (or perhaps the hand of the Holy Spirit!) that I dropped by this page again.

  8. Bob S.,

    Show me why the comparison is inappropriate.

    Because the Flying Spaghetti Monster would just be another physical being among beings therefore the evidence appropriate to show it’s existance would be the same as any other physical thing. God is not like that as we can tell by the type of evidence put forth for his existance. I’m presuming you’re familiar with that evidence so you should have grasped yourself the problems with the comparison.

  9. Bob, thank you for the offer of a debate, but after praying about a few days I’m going to have to decline. I’m swamped as it is. Maybe next fall.

  10. Thanks for the question about email notification. That feature was turned off for reasons I don’t remember now. It probably had something to do with troubleshooting some long-ago problem. I’ve re-enabled it.

  11. I agree with what Melissa has said @ #10.

    In Philosophy 101 I learned that what theists define as God is an ontologically self-existent or self-contained being. The FSM, Zeus, Thor or “Sky Fairy” as they are described or defined are not ontologically self-contained being(s). Indeed, I can still have a meaningful discussion and/or argument simply talking about what an ontologically self-contained being is– the term God in a philosophical context is actually superfluous. IMO using an alternate name (without a proper conceptual understanding of the conceptual framework that theists use when talking about “God”) is simply a fallacious attempt to use ridicule, to not just to undermine the theist’s argument, but to demean his character. However, that tells us more about the skeptics ignorance and ethics than anything else.

  12. There is indeed no reason to believe in the FSM or in any other material “god.” The whole idea is incoherent from the get-go.

    There’s also no good reason to believe in an immaterial ultimate that isn’t actually ultimate. I suppose there might be times when it might be worth discussing “god” that is not self-existent, eternal, and infinite is probably worth discussing; if you run into someone who believes in such a god, for example. At the end of the conversation, however, such a god will be seen to be self-contradictory, incoherent, inadequate, impossible.

    An infinite, self-existent, immaterial God, however, cannot easily be ruled out on philosophical grounds. There’s nothing incoherent in the concept, and this God can explain a whole lot of otherwise unexplainable reality.

    Yes, there are questions about such a God, especially if one takes it that God is perfectly good and powerful, and wonders about the existence of evil. There are good questions one could ask about God’s self-revelation in the Bible.

    Bringing up the FSM isn’t exactly a thoughtful way of raising such questions, however. If I were an atheist I’d be embarrassed at the lack of reasoning exhibited in the FSM “argument.” If I remember correctly, I’ve never addressed the FSM or Russell’s teapot here. I haven’t considered it worth bothering with.

    “Flying Spaghetti Monster” is nothing more than a slogan. It has emotional punch in the form of ridicule, sidestepping the thinking mind and moving straight to the brain’s laugh centers. There’s an icon for the FSM that reinforces that effect. If you call that reason, I’ve got a book I’d like you to read. (If you don’t call that reason I recommend the book anyway!)

  13. Tom,

    I am writing this morning to express my gratitude to you for sponsoring this forum. After a brief and disappointing foray into Bob Seidensticker’s website Patheos after seeing his request to you to debate, I have a renewed and deepened appreciation for the “disciplined debate” format and your careful and thoughtful monitoring of this forum through the Discussion Grounds. The key word and concept here is respect. You are respectful toward the participants here and you require us to be respectful of each other. I have been reminded that respect is sadly lacking in some, perhaps many, other debate forums. Thank you for modeling the openness, reason and respect that Christ teaches us in your blog.

    I got my copy of True Reason yesterday and have started reading it. It’s great! Thanks for this respectful and reasoned treatise on reason. God bless your ministry.

    JB

  14. Tom, RE: #15

    I very much enjoyed your discussion of the tactical use of Richard Dawkins’ monster god of the Old Testament in True Reason as an example of a lack of reasoning (and reason) among atheists. Your post #15 is a cogent elaboration on this theme. The FSM is mockery, a debate tactic I equate to a straw- man-dressed-up-as-a-clown argument.

    I am appreciating greatly the analysis of atheists’ debate strategies in True Reason. One quote that has given me great insights already is on p. 33 where you report on the study by psychologist Julie Exline of Case Western Reserve University that found among atheist and agnostic college students “…more anger at God during their lifetimes than believers.” You give this analysis:

    “What’s interesting about this study is that these individuals don’t necessarily even believe that God exists, yet they report greater levels of an angry emotional investment in God’s hypothetical character than people who actually believe that God is real.” (p. 33 of True Reason)

    I am observing and experiencing that this anger toward God (the God they don’t believe in) spills over into anger (and hostile behavior) toward believers in God.

    I’m so excited about our discussions of True Reason and look forward to much more enlightening dialogue. JB

  15. Melissa:

    the Flying Spaghetti Monster would just be another physical being among beings therefore the evidence appropriate to show it’s existance would be the same as any other physical thing. God is not like that

    1. The FSM is supernatural.

    2. When God dips his toe into our reality to cause a miracle, that affects our reality. That’s a physical change that, in principle, is scientifically testable.

  16. JAD:

    The FSM, Zeus, Thor or “Sky Fairy” as they are described or defined are not ontologically self-contained being(s).

    You have a stunted view of the FSM, my friend. The FSM has whatever properties he needs.

    demean his character

    I think you’re a little more thin-skinned than necessary. My own use of the FSM is as an illustration. If I offend, it’s inadvertent.

    And it’s odd to complain about the FSM and not about Scientology, Mormonism, or a dozen nutty cults. I can’t compare the FSM against Yahweh, but I can with Xenu?

  17. Tom again:

    An infinite, self-existent, immaterial God, however, cannot easily be ruled out on philosophical grounds.

    Who wants to rule it out? The atheist simply says that there’s insufficient evidence to rule it in. It’s the same as fairies. (And don’t tell me that that comparison is offensive as well …)

    If I were an atheist I’d be embarrassed at the lack of reasoning exhibited in the FSM “argument.”

    Perhaps I need to sharpen my sense of embarrassment.

    You may know about the origin of the FSM (the Kansas Creationism thing). As a snarky, even offensive, symbol, it worked perfectly in that context. This is clearly a different situation. Frankly, I don’t see that much different (of a fundamental nature) between Yahweh and the FSM. Obviously, Christianity and Judaism have a long and important history. Pastafarianism can’t touch that. But when you think in terms of answered prayers or obvious impact in the world, they look identical to me.

    I agree with your point about the laughter. And that’s not an insignificant factor.

  18. As far as Pastafarianism and its god, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, we might consider the significance of the reality that atheists have had to invent a non-existent religion for worshiping the non-existent god of their faith.

    IMO, an invented, non-existent “religion” created for the purpose of mockery and ridicule is a red herring, a straw man argument, and not worthy of serious discussion on this site. If thinking atheists can’t engage with existing world religions and worldviews in their discussions with thinking Christians on this website, there are many other websites available on the Internet where they can post comments.

    Alternatively, we Christians can treat Pastafarianism as what it is: idolatry.

  19. Hey all,

    ““What’s interesting about this study is that these individuals don’t necessarily even believe that God exists, yet they report greater levels of an angry emotional investment in God’s hypothetical character than people who actually believe that God is real.” (p. 33 of True Reason)”

    Anyone who enjoys fiction of any sort will have an emotional investment in the characters. Feeling anger towards a character acting in a way perceived to be immoral is not overly unexpected or interesting.

    “I am observing and experiencing that this anger toward God (the God they don’t believe in) spills over into anger (and hostile behavior) toward believers in God.”

    Where does the anger from Christians come from when it spills over into anger towards people that don’t share your beliefs?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  20. Hi Tom,

    “Thanks for the question about email notification. That feature was turned off for reasons I don’t remember now. It probably had something to do with troubleshooting some long-ago problem. I’ve re-enabled it.”

    Thanks so much for that.
    Shane

  21. Bob S.,

    1. The FSM is supernatural.

    So?

    2. When God dips his toe into our reality to cause a miracle, that affects our reality. That’s a physical change that, in principle, is scientifically testable.

    Actually no, because science requires repeatability, the ability to control other variables etc etc.

  22. Melissa:

    So?

    Uh … so I’m rejecting your demand that the FSM be “another physical being.”

    science requires repeatability, the ability to control other variables etc etc.

    One of the big science stories for 2014 was the Chelyabinsk meteor. Not repeatable, darn it. Still a very important big of science.

  23. Bob S.,

    Uh … so I’m rejecting your demand that the FSM be “another physical being.”

    OK. The FSM is just another being among beings.

    One of the big science stories for 2014 was the Chelyabinsk meteor. Not repeatable, darn it. Still a very important big of science.

    Cute, but I hope you can distinguish between the observation of a particular instance of something that is analyses with the assumption that the behaviour is in accordance with known science and studying a miracle.

  24. When God caused my friend Connie to be instantly and completely healed of severe epilepsy while being prayed for, that was a physical change that was scientifically testable.

    Of course there was a mutual friend who still said it wasn’t necessarily God. Testability goes only so far.

  25. I’m amused to discover there are important things I didn’t know about pastology. The FSM doesn’t have to be a physical being? Then how does the colander stay on?

  26. I warned you all that taking Bob seriously was going to be a mistake. It’s no use being rational with someone who is putting forth arguments about God based on foodstuffs. I know this is a very informed and reasonable group who want to share their knowledge in a good way. However, we’ve been there done that with this crowd. Remember, the “magical wish granting friend” or the talking mule or Robert?

  27. Bob is just giving the FSM God-like properties, because only God-like are coherent and this is why his argument fails. He is calling the FSM…God and this doesn’t negate Theism. The FSM is a terrible objection

  28. Bob,

    I need to back up to some of your previous comments now.

    The FSM has whatever properties he needs.

    In other words, the FSM is perfectly and completely ad hoc. The God of theism is not. Look up your Aquinas and your Augustine on this, and your Aristotle, to view it from a pure philosophical perspective. Look up the characteristics of God displayed in the Bible. All these make it false that God “has whatever properties he needs.” The FSM analogy is no analogy.

    “And it’s odd to complain about the FSM and not about Scientology, Mormonism, or a dozen nutty cults. I can’t compare the FSM against Yahweh, but I can with Xenu?”

    I’m not complaining about those other beliefs because no one brought them up. That’s all.

    Now, I don’t know if Xenu has “whatever properties s/he needs,” or if s/he wears a colander on his/her head. But you’re welcome to compare the FSM with whatever God or god you want, including Yahweh. The thing is, when you compare you have to acknowledge differences as well as similarities, and I rather expect the FSM has more similarities with Xenu than with Yahweh.

    Who wants to rule it out? The atheist simply says that there’s insufficient evidence to rule it in. It’s the same as fairies. (And don’t tell me that that comparison is offensive as well …)

    Who wants to pay attention to the context of a statement?! (Not you, apparently.) The reason I said, “An infinite, self-existent, immaterial God, however, cannot easily be ruled out on philosophical grounds,” was first of all, to draw a relevant comparison with other versions of “god:” “There is indeed no reason to believe in the FSM or in any other material “god.” The whole idea is incoherent from the get-go.

    “There’s also no good reason to believe in an immaterial ultimate that isn’t actually ultimate.”

    In other words, I was using that point to reject your FSM idiocy, not to argue for the existence of God. (Although I did go on to say of the infinite, self-existent God, “this God can explain a whole lot of otherwise unexplainable reality.”)

    So when you jumped over to “there’s no reason to rule this God in,” you took off on a tangent. A responsible answer would have been to say, “Okay, then, I guess the FSM doesn’t work as an analogy with which to ridicule YHWH after all” — or else to say why you think it still did. You side-stepped that rather neatly, but you got caught.

    Here’s the point: if you want to maintain some shreds of intellectual responsibility, drop the FSM thing. It doesn’t work for you in the way you think it does. It doesn’t even come close

    Frankly, I don’t see that much different (of a fundamental nature) between Yahweh and the FSM.

    Then you’re in the awkward and untenable situation of taking a stand against a belief of which you have absolutely no understanding. You might as well say, “I don’t believe you have an antique sackbut in your living room, Tom! I’m going to start a whole blog about it! I’m going to debate it! I’m going to let everyone else know how idiotic is to think you have an antique sackbut in your living room!” — meanwhile having no idea whether I have such a thing or not, or (most likely) even what a sackbut is. (Don’t try to parse the meaning from what appear to be its root words. It won’t work.)

    If you don’t see any fundamental difference between Yahweh (as proposed by those who actually believe in YHWH) and the FSM, then your statement, “YHWH doesn’t exist,” is indistinguishable from “The FSM doesn’t exist;” since you see them as essentially the same.

    That’s just mind-boggling. It’s stupefyingly inane. What’s the line of reasoning? Is it this?

    1. The FSM and YHWH are both put forth by certain people as “gods,” and as far as I can tell they’re essentially the same sort of thing.
    2. The FSM is ridiculous and isn’t real.
    3. Therefore YHWH is ridiculous and isn’t real … ?

    Is that the line of reasoning you think you can foist off on us here, on a thinking website? Really?! Sure, all of us can agree with premise 2. Good for all of us. Meanwhile premise 1 is foolish and the form of the syllogism is invalid. All it shows is that you only care to score points against God, and you’re willing to make foolish, invalid, silly arguments to do it.

    You really, really, really do need to sharpen your sense of embarrassment. I’ll repeat that advice.

    Now, here’s my further counsel. You didn’t ask for it, but I’m giving it anyway.

    1. Drop the FSM sloganeering, because it’s unthinking. It’s silly. It’s image-mongering rather than thoughtfulness-promoting. It doesn’t belong in a thinking environment.
    2. Learn what it is that you think you disagree with, since you’ve revealed here that you don’t know.
    3. Consider honestly whether you might be able to agree with it once you know what it is.
    4. While you’re in that process, ask serious, non-sloganeering, non-ridiculing, thoughtful questions wherever you can. You’re welcome to do that here. (Silly sloganeering will be called out for what it is every time, however.)

  29. BillT wrote, “Really, Flying Spaghetti Monster! Anyone who utters those words should be officially banned from being taken seriously. Now, if I could just find the right official.”

    I’ll accept that position for this venue. Any further attempt to take the FSM seriously, or to use it in any way as a basis for an argument against God, will officially be labeled silly, foolish, inane, wrongheaded, thoughtless, and intellectually incompetent. The commenter who uses the FSM in that manner will be brought up on charges of emotionally manipulative image-mongering, having demonstrated that he cares little for thinking about what he’s doing, but he’s happy as a lark to use a mindless meme to make his point.

  30. Good points, BillT.

    Why do we continue to get light weights like Bob here? I think it’s because, people like Bob have not have not yet come to terms with their atheism. I have given some thought how I would behave if I were an atheist. The bottom line is that I would leave other people alone. The reason? Atheism is a non-belief or disbelief. In other words, it’s about nothing. Therefore there is nothing to push or promote. Why then is Bob trying to promote non-belief as if it were a belief? I think it’s because as human beings we’re, for some reason, “hardwired” to seek purpose and meaning. If we are just the chance product of some mindless evolutionary process, then our desire to seek purpose and meaning is all an illusion. Why then would anyone want to promote a non-belief as if it provided purpose and meaning? Such a belief is more absurd than virtually any kind of religious belief.

  31. Tom:

    In other words, the FSM is perfectly and completely ad hoc.

    Right.

    The God of theism is not.

    No? It looks that way to me. That the definitions change with time argues against your position. Think of the many flavors of Christianity (the Ebionites, the Gnostics, the Marcionites, maybe some others lost to us). Think how “God” changes in the Bible itself—I’m sure you’re aware of the Documentary Hypothesis, which explores this idea. God is a guy like you or me in the Garden and when visiting Abraham, but later he’s all spirit. We see polytheism in the early Bible but strict monotheism later. The covenant with God is the story at first, and then it’s salvation through Jesus.

    Imagine going back in a time machine to ask Paul to give you his interpretation of the Trinity. He’d have no idea what you were talking about.

    Think of the modern variants of Christianity that have popped up in America: Christian Science, Mormonism, the Shakers, JWs, Seventh-Day Adventists, and so on.

    All these make it false that God “has whatever properties he needs.”

    I’m not saying that Yahweh changes in real time. I’m saying that humans’ definition has changed over time.

    I don’t know if Xenu has “whatever properties s/he needs,”

    That wasn’t my point. I’m wondering, if the FSM is offensive because it’s so ridiculous, if the same is true for Xenu. Or if somehow that belief gets a pass because people really believe it.

    you’re welcome to compare the FSM with whatever God or god you want, including Yahweh.

    OK. It’s was the offense that the FSM seemed to cause that I was responding to.

    Who wants to pay attention to the context of a statement?! (Not you, apparently.)

    Whatever error this refers to is lost on me.

    There is indeed no reason to believe in the FSM or in any other material “god.”

    Don’t imagine the FSM is material then. Problem solved.

    this God can explain a whole lot of otherwise unexplainable reality

    “God did it” can explain anything. Therefore, it’s useless as an explanation. It’s unfalsifiable. There is nothing that I can’t assert was caused by God that you can prove otherwise. You found a verse in the Bible that supports your position, you say? I’ll find one that says the opposite. Or, I’ll simply say, “God works in mysterious ways. Let’s not flatter ourselves that our simple brains can understand the ways of God.”

    when you jumped over to “there’s no reason to rule this God in,” you took off on a tangent.

    Quite an important tangent, it seems to me. Following the evidence where it leads is the way we figure out if stuff exists. Do fairies exist? Maybe, but there’s insufficient evidence, so we live our lives as if they don’t. Let’s ask the same question about God.

    A responsible answer would have been to say, “Okay, then, I guess the FSM doesn’t work as an analogy with which to ridicule YHWH after all”

    Why would I say that?

    Did I miss an essential property in my definition for the FSM? Thank you for pointing that out. Now it has it.

    Here’s the point: if you want to maintain some shreds of intellectual responsibility, drop the FSM thing.

    I’m hearing a lot of that here. Unfortunately, I’m not understanding the problem.

    ”I’m going to let everyone else know how idiotic is to think you have an antique sackbut in your living room!” — meanwhile having no idea whether I have such a thing or not, or (most likely) even what a sackbut is.

    Indeed, I have no idea what that is. When I see harm coming from this claim, maybe that’s worth blogging about. Until that point, I won’t waste anyone’s time. Religious belief, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, can cause harm.

    your statement, “YHWH doesn’t exist,”

    I don’t say this. Nor do I say that fairies don’t exist. However, there is insufficient evidence for either belief—that’s my point.

  32. Tom:

    Any further attempt to take the FSM seriously, or to use it in any way as a basis for an argument against God, will officially be labeled silly, foolish, inane, wrongheaded, thoughtless, and intellectually incompetent.

    One thing that perhaps we can agree on is that its original use in response to the Kansas thing was clever and even honorable. I imagine that we can at least get agreement on that.

  33. Bob is just giving the FSM God-like properties, because only God-like are coherent and this is why his argument fails.

    This is exactly what’s happening. Make up some god. When obvious flaws get pointed out, change the nature of your made-up being so that it looks identical to God, only with a different name.

  34. Bob,
    Let’s just jump to the end point where the FSM is identical to God. Where does your complaint go from there?

  35. This is the crackpot stuff you get from Bob – a guy who gets his understanding of the Bible and history from sources like the one below.

    Bob on his website said:

    I view Jesus as an ordinary but charismatic teacher, whose story got a wee bit out of control.

    Do you read Bob Price? His “Bible Geek” podcast is great. He’s a big comic book fan, and he gives a fascinating comparison of the evolution of Superman to Jesus (in his 5/18/11 podcast). Remember that Superman was more like Samson initially. His powers grew over time. His point was that, 1000 years from now, the oddities in the Superman story are exactly those that we see in the Jesus story.

    Where’s Bob’s evidence for this as it relates to Jesus? *crickets*

  36. RE: #35

    I am always puzzled when I hear/see atheists claiming that religious diversity is an argument against God’s existence. This is nonsense. Is linguistic diversity an argument against the existence of language? Is cultural diversity an argument against the existence of culture? Of course there are many “definitions” of God. This is because each and every human being arrives at his/her understanding of God, which is finite and limited, while God is infinite and eternal. Of course there are many “flavors” of Christianity (denominations). Just as there are many languages that are symbolic, representational systems for expressing and communicating about reality, there are many manifestations and expressions of Christianity around the world and in every society. But what is most remarkable about Christianity, as David Marshall describes in Chapter 6 of True Reason, is it’s “…universal belief that embraces the insights of many traditions and “…the deepest truths in other spiritual traditions…” (p. 86-87).

    Bob, I highly recommend to you that you read David Marshall’s discussion of the application of the John Loftus’ “Outsider Test of Faith” to Christianity, to perhaps gain an understanding of why the diversity of expressions of Christianity validates rather than argues against its truth.

  37. @Bob Seidensticker:

    Don’t imagine the FSM is material then. Problem solved.

    Did I miss an essential property in my definition for the FSM? Thank you for pointing that out. Now it has it.

    These are exactly the type of intellectually dishonest responses that, quite unfortunately, is common in a certain atheist population. Is this even worth a refutation? Why should I waste my time with someone who does not even bother to get a minimal grasp of what the opposing party is saying?

  38. Tweet!!!

    Infraction, comment #35: “Any further attempt to take the FSM seriously, or to use it in any way as a basis for an argument against God, will officially be labeled silly, foolish, inane, wrongheaded, thoughtless, and intellectually incompetent.”

    The penalty is being assessed.

  39. Tweet!!!

    Infraction, comment #36: “Any further attempt to take the FSM seriously, or to use it in any way as a basis for an argument against God, will officially be labeled silly, foolish, inane, wrongheaded, thoughtless, and intellectually incompetent.”

    No, we cannot agree on the use of the FSM in Kansas, for reasons stated above.

    The penalty is being assessed.

  40. Bob, the minute you display a genuine understanding of Christian theism with respect to the FSM, which I take it would be approximately concurrent with your dropping the FSM nonsense, I’ll start taking you seriously again.

    In the meantime, though, you’re only displaying your lack of knowledge.

    With respect to the differences in theistic beliefs: If you thought it was worthwhile you could bring up other versions of theism. You could go ahead and refute all kinds of beliefs that everyone here already disagrees with. If you thought that was valuable you could do it.

    But first I’d want you to persuade the rest of us that if beliefs we consider to be wrong really are wrong, therefore beliefs we consider right must also be wrong. Good luck with that.

    In case you’re wondering what kind of Christian theism we’re defending here, I have an your answer ready for you. It is historic, orthodox, creedal Christian theism.

    Learn about it before you dispute it, if you have any intellectual respectability in you at all.

  41. Tweet!!!

    Infraction, comment #42: Ad hoc idiocy.

    The penalty is being assessed.

    Christian theism is not ad hoc. This has been mentioned above. You ignored it, Bob. You get assessed a penalty for rudeness there, along with intellectual irresponsibility.

    Here are the two relevant principles.
    1. If you say A, and someone says, “here are several reasons for us to consider A to be false, weak, or in need of re-thinking,” then for you simply to repeat A is to display real rudeness toward someone who took you seriously enough to give you a thought-through answer.

    2. It is also intellectually irresponsible to ignore reasons given you for re-thinking your position. If you think the reasons are weak, then say so. If you think they’re wrong, then say so. Explain why, of course. If you fail to do so then you reveal yourself to be hide-bound in your prior opinion regardless of reasons to reconsider it.

    Do you want to reveal yourself to be that way? If so then you’ve assessed your own penalty, and you’re hurting no one but yourself.

  42. Religious belief, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, can cause harm.

    Other than making points we are all aware of, what exactly is your point, Bob?

    Yes, religion can be used to cause great harm. It can also be used to cause great good. I’d like to think that in the case of the former thinking Christians would call harmful behaviour out when they can, especially if it is within their own faith community. Interestingly enough irreligious belief can also cause great harm.

    So, again, what’s your point, Bob? Is this a serious objection you are raising? Or are you in the process of hitting us with the best objections in the atheism 101 play book?

  43. It’s time for me to inform you of how I operate, Bob.

    There comes a time in many blog conversations when the ideas are no longer the issue, because someone has refused to treat them as if they were the issue. Typically they keep acting as if the ideas were really at the center of their points, but sometimes the pretense is transparent.

    Examples:

    1. Commenter displays ignorance concerning some main idea being discussed, but displays no interest in correcting his ignorance by seeking to understand.
    2. Commenter repeats his own views while ignoring answers presented by others.
    3. Commenter twists others’ responses, displaying no real interest in understanding what the other is saying.
    4. Commenter practices LMU commenting.

    When these things happen, the ideas are obviously no longer that commenter’s concern. So when these things happen, I quit talking about the ideas, too. I begin instead to ask the commenter whether he really wants to be the kind of person who displays such a disregard for the ideas under discussion. I might ask whether he wants to be the kind of person who disregards other persons in the discussion, too.

    You’re doing three out of four of those examples, Bob.

    Do you want to display yourself as a person who cares more about scoring points than about understanding what you’re talking about? If not, then I suggest you show some actual interest in the ideas. I suggest you take the human effort of responding to persons as persons, too.

  44. Shane, RE: #23

    Based on my citation and quote in comment #17 from True Reason by Carson Weitnauer regarding the research study by Julie Exline of Western Reserve, you ask this question:

    “Where does the anger from Christians come from when it spills over into anger towards people that don’t share your beliefs?”

    The Exline study was about college students’ attitudes about God, not about their attitudes toward each other in light of different attitudes about God, at least as far as I know since I haven’t read the study. Since my comment is in response to Carson Weitnauer’s analysis of this particular research study, is your question referring to a research study on Christians’ “…anger toward people who don’t share your beliefs”? If so, could you send a citation and link to the study or studies you are referring to?

  45. FSM.

    Nonsense.

    [Ultimate Actuality], whatever it is, is without question, One, for, there are not 1.000009 realities. If the Multi-Verse, then “that” just is the Whole. Hawking now agrees with Genesis 1:1 that [Ultimate Actuality] is also Immaterial, just as he agrees that it, whatever it is, is also Timeless. That such a thing must be Unchanging has forced the hand of the Naturalist to posit that all which is our reality, this universe, time, and so on, every bit of it, cannot be real, but must be a mere Hologram. Hawking tells us Time is not ontologically real, whereas, Imaginary Time is ontologically real. Such a desperate move is to circumvent the problem of contingency amid Cause/Effect. A Necessary and Sufficient Cause of [All-Effects] standing amid This-Effect yet not That-Effect speaks of the incoherence of mechanistic determinism, and our eyes see no geography which accounts for this, in the real world which mind perceives, other than within the confines of Intention. But this must be avoided at all costs by the Naturalists, and thus Imaginary Spheres and You-Are-A-Hologram are sought out and dived into, shouting, “No! None of this is real!”

    Reason itself, void of intentionality, is sheer illusion, is a Hologram, if materialism, and thus the desperate move to Holograms, lest Cosmic Intention open the door to Reason, all of which leads to God. “No! None of this is real!” is the only coherent move left.

    A Necessary and Sufficient Cause of [All Effects] found standing amid This Effect but not That Effect is incoherent, and as such This Effect which is this “universe” (whatever that whole is) must be Not-Real, must be sheer illusion, must be a Hologram, or, there must be Intention, for Intention is the only other end of regress which avoids absurdity.

    We find then that [Ultimate Actuality] houses the following:

    1) It is One
    2) It is Immaterial
    3) It is Timeless
    4) It is Unchanging
    5) It is the Necessary and Sufficient Cause of [All Effects]
    6) It stands amid This Effect but not That Effect

    We conclude then with the only two rational options:

    A) Nothing is real. “This is all a Hologram” just is the end of the matter.

    B) Cosmic Intentionality, Will, just is the end of the matter.

    Our brutally repeatable experience of intention, coupled with observed reality, brings us, then, to this juncture:

    It will be opaque skepticism in some bizarre amalgamation with mereological nihilism, as all is illusion, as all is Hologram, or, it will be that I do in fact exist. If there is I, if i-am, then mereological nihilism is false, and a whole new reality has been stumbled upon.

    I exist.

    I am.

    This startling statement coupled with all of cosmology coupled with all of perception coupled with all of physics brings us, again, back to that Necessary and Sufficient Cause of [All Effects] standing amid This but not That, wherein i-am, wherein Will breaks through the absurdity of the holograms of mereological nihilism with a far more gritty, far more rigorous explanatory power housed within its TOE.

    We’ve somehow stumbled upon all that is The-Self, and therein the door into all that is The-Other is wide open, for i-am is not a Hologram, not illusion, but stands intact amid many I’s, and thus the Other, You, is found, also, standing intact, on necessity.

    But Reality is One. We come then to We, the singularity of unity of the singular-Us, for, as we have seen, Ultimate Actuality is One.

    We find but one TOE infused into Mankind’s Consciousness upon planet Earth wherein the landscape of the fully singular, the fully triune [Self-Other-Us] stands as the Ontological End of Regress, as the Uncaused Cause, in Whom the term E Pluribus Unum just is [Ultimate Actuality].

    I see only intellectual desperation in pretend Imaginary Spheres and pretend Time and real Holograms and FSMs and Unicorns.

    None of them have the explanatory power which is housed, necessarily, within the fully singular, fully triune God, Who is Himself E Pluribus Unum, Who is, on ontological necessity, Love.

  46. Tom,

    I love the Least Mockable Unit LMU concept! I appreciate your naming and calling out these tactics.

    This discussion and my experience this week as I ventured into the virtual atheist community reminds me of Alister McGrath’s insightful analysis and discussion of the New Atheists’ participation on the internet in his book, “Why God won’t go away: Is the New Atheism running on empty? On p. 45, McGrath says this: “… the degree of ridicule heaped upon a given viewpoint is a measure of the degree of threat it poses to the core beliefs of the online community.” We are certainly not surprised at this (attempted) use of mockery and ridicule as a substitute for reason, but I’m glad that you are calling it out and assessing penalties for it in this forum.

    IMO, the topic of how Christian apologetics and Christian apologists can and should respond and conduct ourselves in the virtual medium is very timely and important. Thank you for the tools that True Reason gives us in this effort.

  47. Another one of Bob’s comments from his website reveal that he prefers to reject what experts/scholars/historians say about the subjects they study in depth – because, ya know, he knows better.

    Bob commented: Why give them any of the gospel story as actual history? From my standpoint, all of it is suspect. If the supernatural elements are suspect (the story is translated through a Greek lens, with all its supernatural baggage), then surely the mundane elements are suspect as well.

    Some conspiracy theorists have made more sense than this.

  48. SteveK, RE: #52

    Bob’s statement from his website reveals both a fundamental fallacy and a prejudice. The “mundane elements” of the Gospels are what make the supernatural elements believable. What Bob appears to be saying here is that in order to justify his rejection of the “supernatural elements” he also rejects the “mundane elements.”

    Let’s give Bob a chance to respond. Bob, since you are participating in this discussion, can you please explain what you mean by the “mundane elements” of the Gospels that you find “suspect” because you find the “supernatural elements” suspect?

  49. #35. Bob thinks God isn’t falsifiable, well why do we have a problem of evil then? It’s obvious that God can be argued against. If God is immaterial and reductive materialism is true then God doesn’t exist. Moral nihilism is a way to argue against almost every form of Theism. (Deism being the omly exception). Oh, look there is a book written by Princeton philosopher Graham Oppy called ‘The Best Argument Against God’. Strange title to have if God wasn’t falsifiable. That’s just one of many btw, so yeah Bob doesn’t know what he is talking about.

  50. Bob,

    I reject pretend imaginary spheres, real (fake) holograms, FSMs, and Unicorns.

    Instead, it is undeniably clear that [Ultimate Actuality] is One, and is Immaterial, and is Timeless, and is Unchanging, and is the Necessary and Sufficient Cause of [All Effects], and, given that I hold that neither our universe nor myself are holograms/illusions, has the capacity to create This Effect but not That Effect.

    “No! None of this is real!” is one option which avoids absurdity as a viable end of regress; hints of Holograms thus leaking out of various think-tanks.

    Intention, or, Will, is the only other option as an end of regress which avoids absurdity.

    I see only intellectual desperation in pretend Imaginary Spheres and pretend Time and real (fake) Holograms and FSMs and Unicorns.

    Comment #50 embraces all of known reality and tracks it out to its bitter ends. Illusion/Hologram vs. God is the end of it. God makes more sense, and, is more coherent, for, such need not deny all of reality, and, explains far more of our painfully repeatable actuality. The move to shout, “-Tis not real! None of this is real!” just to avoid the only alternative is a move we need not make, for fear ought not be permitted to contaminate logic.

  51. Re: My comment #53

    In this comment, I say this: The “mundane elements” of the Gospels are what make the supernatural elements believable.

    Allow me to give a personal example of why I find this to be true. On a trip to Israel in 2008, our tour group was in the room in Jerusalem that is said to be the location where the Last Supper took place. the guide was referring to the chapter and verses from Mark that describe how Jesus’ disciples found the house where they were to meet Jesus to celebrate the Passover Seder (a very mundane thing for Jews to do).

    Mark 14: 12-13
    On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover? So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him.

    The guide asked us this question: How did the disciples know which man to follow? All of us were stumped. Then he explained that in Jesus’ time, only women carried water, so to see a man carrying a jar of water would be highly unusual and a good “sign” for the disciples to know who to ask about where to meet Jesus.

    This was one of those moments where my faith was deepened because I know that cultural, contextual details of this sort would be absent from accounts of events that were not eye-witness, participant accounts of the events. The “mundane” details in the four gospels of people’s activities and relationships give credibility to the accuracy and truthfulness of their accounts of Jesus’ miracles and his resurrection.

  52. Jenna:

    Is linguistic diversity an argument against the existence of language?

    Linguistic diversity is no argument against language. Religious diversity is no argument against religion. Since that does mean that they’re mostly wrong, that observation does, however, raise the question that maybe they’re all wrong.

    while God is infinite and eternal.

    Is he? That’s the thing we don’t know exists. Let’s not presuppose him into existence.

  53. Tom:

    1. If you say A, and someone says, “here are several reasons for us to consider A to be false, weak, or in need of re-thinking,” then for you simply to repeat A is to display real rudeness toward someone who took you seriously enough to give you a thought-through answer.

    Granted. I missed the clear explanation of where I erred. I was interested to learn why the FSM is offensive and out of bounds. I’ve been scolded many times, so I realize that it is offensive; I just don’t know why.

    The penalty is being assessed.

    Looks like I’m going to have a hard time hanging out around here. Common sense rules of conduct are great, but I’m so clueless that I don’t even know that I’m breaking them.

  54. Bob, you could hang around here all the time and be very welcome if you’d come with an attitude of asking. I’m glad to see that you recognize there’s something going on that you don’t quite understand. How about asking some questions to find out?

  55. By the way, I hope you noticed part 2 of the comment you quoted from just now. It might help you get an initial hint about the answer you need to know.

  56. Bob,

    I’m not so sure about this:

    Linguistic diversity is no argument against language. Religious diversity is no argument against religion. Since that does mean that they’re mostly wrong, that observation does, however, raise the question that maybe they’re all wrong.

    I think a much more responsible version of that would go like this:

    Linguistic diversity is no argument against language. Diversity of beliefs about ultimate reality is no argument against having beliefs about ultimate reality. Since that does mean that these beliefs mostly wrong, that observation does, however, raise the question that maybe they’re all wrong.

    You see, I don’t know why secularism or humanism or atheism or agnosticism would get a pass, as if they were immune to the possibility of being false beliefs about ultimate reality. (I do hope you won’t stoop to the simple error of saying atheism isn’t a belief. I’d be disappointed in you for that.)

    So maybe everyone’s belief is really wrong. Or maybe all beliefs except one—one general family of beliefs, anyway—are wrong. In that case, one family of beliefs would be generally right.

    But there’s more to consider than just that.

    There are infinities of wrong answers to, “what’s the square root of 9?” I don’t just mean wrong numerical answers. There are wrong answers like, “The planet Jupiter,” or, “We’re having spaghetti for dinner.”

    There are infinitely more wrong answers to “what’s the square root of 9?” than there are wrong religions in the world. Does that mean there’s no right answer? Hardly.

    It just doesn’t follow from a plurality of wrong beliefs that all beliefs are wrong. I know you didn’t draw that conclusion as a deduction, you presented it as a suggestion instead. But I think you should be able to see from this that even as a suggestion it’s really quite weak.

  57. Bob,

    Atheists, including the inventors of FSM and Pastafarianism, don’t take the FSM seriously. Why do you come to this website thinking that thinking Christians should or would?

    Above, you say in regard to religious diversity: “…since that does mean that they’re mostly wrong, that observation does, however, raise the question that maybe they’re all wrong.” How does religious diversity say anything at all about whether or not a religion is “wrong”? I don’t follow your reasoning here. Please explain.

    Are you really as puzzled by the reaction you’re getting with these arguments as you claim to be?

  58. Why don’t we just list the properties of the FSM? So far the FSM is immaterial, ok what else? Shouldn’t we change the name of the FSM if speghetti is now immaterial?

  59. ….but I’m so clueless that I don’t even know that I’m breaking them.

    Now, we’re finally getting somewhere. Stay with this Bob and you may find some answers that shed some real light on your questions.

  60. Just when we get Bob on the right track Shane shows up with the above inanity. Shane, in the context it was being used, religions offer different concepts, reasoning and arguments for the existence of God. Thus, Jenna’s comment. That couldn’t have been that hard to figure out, could it?

  61. Hi BillT,

    ^

    Sorry I deleted my above post I scrolled down a long way through the thread to see if anybody had responded to Jenna’s post and didn’t see one. Then just after replying I see that the discussion had continued near the end. Will read what has been said before replying.

    Sorry about that
    Shane

  62. Hi Jenna,
    #49

    No, it was just a question to you because you seemed to make the assertion that people that are angry at Christians are really just misplacing their anger at God. So when you see Christians direct anger at others do you think it is misplaced anger as well, and if so what is the real object of their wraith?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  63. Jenna:

    Atheists, including the inventors of FSM and Pastafarainism, don’t take the FSM seriously. Why do come to this website thinking that thinking Christians should or would?

    I don’t. Who would? I don’t take it seriously, you don’t, and no one here does.

    That’s not the topic.

    How does religious diversity say anything at all about whether or not a religion is “wrong”? I don’t follow your reasoning here. Please explain.

    Because religious diversity proves that at least some are wrong. Maybe it’s like alchemy where all approaches are wrong.

    Are you really as puzzled by the reaction you’re getting with these arguments as you claim to be?

    Yep. I’m happy to be told why the FSM is a useless argument. If I got that clear explanation, I must’ve missed it in the blizzard of finger wagging and alarms blaring about crossing this line or that one. So far, the clear message is only that I’ve violated 17 levels of protocol. Why is still a mystery.

  64. Shane,

    I don’t understand what point you are trying to make. This comment of mine was in response to this statement by Bob S. in #35:

    “Right.

    The God of theism is not.

    No? It looks that way to me. That the definitions change with time argues against your position. Think of the many flavors of Christianity (the Ebionites, the Gnostics, the Marcionites, maybe some others lost to us). Think how “God” changes in the Bible itself—I’m sure you’re aware of the Documentary Hypothesis, which explores this idea.”

    Bob claims/states that varied and changing definitions of God argue against Tom’s position that theism is not “ad hoc.” My comment addresses the reasons for many “definitions” of God and why their existence says nothing about theism (belief in God’s existence). The existence of many different world languages is not an argument against the existence of language in the sense of “meta-language.”

    Of course I agree with you that religion is not God but a plurality of religions and religious expressions, traditions, denominations, etc. are a natural and predictable artifact of linguistic and cultural diversity. See the excellent argument in support of this idea by David Marshall in Chapter 6 of True Reason.

  65. Bob, again you say,

    Because religious diversity proves that at least some are wrong. Maybe it’s like alchemy where all approaches are wrong.

    That’s a completely trivial conclusion and a foolhardy speculation. See #61.

  66. #59

    Hi Jenna,

    As above, I scrolled down the page seeing if anyone else had continued the subject before I posted my follow on. It seems I didn’t scroll far enough to see that it had been picked up. I will try to remember to read through the whole thread before responding next time.

    I also deleted my post after discovering my mistake, not realising there would be people here already responding to it. I apologise to anyone reading this later who’s confused at this point. Suffice to say it is my fault.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  67. Shane, RE: #67

    You have misunderstood my comment #17. This is what I said:

    “I am observing and experiencing that this anger toward God (the God they don’t believe in) spills over into anger (and hostile behavior) toward believers in God.”

    My phrase “this anger toward God” refers to the anger that Dr. Exline observed and documented based on self-reports from self-identified atheist and agnostic college students in her study. The crux of this comment is the puzzlement that I share with author Carson Weitnauer about why atheists and agnostics are angry at a God they don’t believe exists.

    Now, in your response, you use the term or descriptor of “misplaced” to ask about Christians alleged misplaced anger toward (your words) “…people who don’t share your beliefs.” I don’t happen to feel any anger whatsoever toward people who don’t share my beliefs, so I am asking you for some documentation or research to know what you are talking about since I find it foolish and rather presumptuous to speculate about the psychology of other people’s anger that I have no documentation of or research about.

    It seems to me that you are attempting to take the discussion off in another direction when a discussion of why atheists who don’t believe in God express angry emotions toward God would be interesting and informative in and of itself. Meanwhile, I’ll try to find the Exline study on the internet.

  68. Because religious diversity proves that at least some are wrong.

    So what? Much like your “religion causes harm” remark I’m left wondering if you think you are telling us something we don’t already know? What are we to make of your comment?

    That all religions can’t be correct is, as Tom said, a trivial fact when you are talking to people who hold to the ultimate truth of one specific religion.

    You are a smart guy, Bob. Why should this have to be explained to you?

  69. Bob,

    You say this: “Because religious diversity proves that at least some are wrong. ”

    Are you really grasping the implications of this claim of yours for atheism and for naturalism?

    First of all, in order to find “some” religions wrong while other religions are right (rejecting your proposition that if some are wrong, all might be wrong), you must have in mind a criterion for judging one or several religions to be a rendition of The One True Religion. If there is (and I believe that there is) One True Religion, then atheism must be wrong since atheism’s claim is that all religion(s) is/are wrong.

    But the existence of One True Religion still does not address the issue of religious diversity. Is it possible for mere mortals to ever understand, know and practice the One True Religion with complete fidelity? IMO, no, it is not. But God send the Son, the Messiah, to teach us the One True Religion (John 14:6″… the way, the truth, and the life”) so that in our fallible, imperfect and incomplete human lives, we might come as close as humanly possible to living out the One True Religion, which we Christians also refer to as the Kingdom of God.

  70. Hi Jenna,

    “so I am asking you for some documentation or research to know what you are talking about since I find it foolish and rather presumptuous to speculate about the psychology of other people’s anger that I have no documentation of or research about.”

    “I am observing and experiencing that this anger toward God (the God they don’t believe in) spills over into anger (and hostile behavior) toward believers in God.”

    Is this not what you are doing? This is entirely what drove my question. I am happy to drop it though and go back to your other point.

    “a discussion of why atheists who don’t believe in God express angry emotions toward God would be interesting and informative in and of itself.”

    I don’t believe in Voldemort but I can feel all sorts of emotions about him when I read the Harry Potter series. It’s not at all surprising that fiction, even when the person is well aware that it is fiction, can illicit an emotional response. That’s what good story telling does.

    Thanks
    Shane

  71. But Shane, do you go around spewing your dislike for Voldemort when not reading Harry Potter? And if you do express your dislike for Voldemort when not reading Harry Potter why are you angry at Voldemort, a fictional character, when Voldemort has no effect on you or the life you live. I would think that most fans of Harry Potter would share your dislike for Voldemort as he is the villain of the story. However, I have rarely met a Harry Potter fan who publicly displays their dislike for Voldemort (who, I am sure, don’t really believe Voldemort exists) the way atheist, who claim not to believe in God express their dislike for the Supreme Being.

    On the other hand, if you are trying to equate God to Voldemort, based on what would appear to be an incomplete understanding of the biblical story in general and Christian theology in particular, then I would say your comparison is a poor one.

  72. Hi Larry. Good to be talking to you.

    I haven’t read the study or what the specific findings were, but I don’t believe an atheist in a vacuum is spending any time disliking or being angry towards God. These things come up in some sort of context and with regards to a study about anger towards God, God must certainly be bought up. In the same way I can say if someone came to me in and said, in all seriousness, that Voldemort was not such a bad guy and tried to justify his actions I would disagree with them and depending on how the exchange went there could be anger involved.

    It was not meant as any comparison. He was the first fictional villain that came to mind that might induce anger in someone who understood them to be fictional.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  73. Yep. I’m happy to be told why the FSM is a useless argument. If I got that clear explanation, I must’ve missed it in the blizzard of finger wagging and alarms blaring about crossing this line or that one. So far, the clear message is only that I’ve violated 17 levels of protocol. Why is still a mystery.

    If you don’t think you got a clear explanation, much less the dozen clear explanations that were offered, then you either don’t read and/or don’t understand English that well. And for a second there I thought you were showing some progress. Silly me.

  74. Bob S.,

    So far, the clear message is only that I’ve violated 17 levels of protocol

    The FSM is a false analogy. It’s a fallacious comparison. I think that much has been made clear. Yes we find it offensive but only because it is so obviously a fallacy presented by people who think they occupy some rational high ground. I object to fallacious arguments paraded as reasonable objections. Lack of critical thinking is objectionable from people who should know better and my tolerance for that kind of thing is pretty low.

  75. Bob,

    I’m happy to be told why the FSM is a useless argument.

    I’m more interested to know how happy you will be to go learn the answer on your own. From your website I gather that you’ve read a lot of books about Christianity,you’ve written at least one on that same subject and you’ve interacted with Christians from all walks of life. You’ve shown that you can put in the effort.

    Hmm…now that I think about it, why don’t you know the answer already?

  76. Shane and Larry,

    After a quick search of the internet, I found this URL for a PDF of one of Professor Julie Exline’s research articles on anger toward God:

    http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/exlinepaper.pdf

    This is interesting research, involving lots of subjects from different walks of life and postures toward God (believers and non-believers). On p. 4, Dr. Exline presents her theories as to why atheists and agnostics report feeling more anger toward God than believers do. Dr. Exline describes a construct called “emotional atheism” where some people become atheists because of their anger toward God.

    There is nothing in this article to suggest that anger toward God is anything like an emotional reaction to a fictitious character in literature. Rather, Dr. Exline suggests that anger toward God is much more like interpersonal anger, since most of the subjects in her study report having a relationship with God.

  77. Bob,

    The FSM is not offensive. It’s just not accurate.

    I think you know that.

    I’d be happy to discuss this with you.

    Are you interested?

    So far we’ve got Immaterial as a definition housed within [Ultimate Actuality], both Hawking and Theists agreeing. His Imaginary Sphere is made of “something” but whatever “it” is will be wholly foreign to the oceans of mass / energy we find ourselves sailing in within the thing we call Now.

    There are other descriptives to discuss, if you care to.

    A singular Descriptive-Prescriptive finds coherence down that path, as it turns out, where Theism is concerned. Blind axiom never being needed as both Logic and Love need never appeal to such, each finding coherence to the bitter ends of ad infinitum.

    I’m sure you’re familiar with “ontological necessity” and so forth?

    I’ll leave you with # 50 & # 55.

  78. The “many religions objection” does not work against theism IMO, because theism is an ontological (or philosophical) not religious position. For example, Christianity, Judaism and Mohammedanism are all said to be theistic religions. That is, even though they may differ in regards to their religious doctrines, ontologically they share many of the same basic presuppositions.

    When you look at the debate philosophically then you are down to a relatively few positions: theism, pantheism, panentheism, naturalism, materialism or some kind of idealism (or “ideaism”). Notice that I did not include atheism. In my opinion, while some world views may be atheistic, atheism itself is not an ontologically viable position. What does atheism explain? Nothing. Apparently even some so called “atheists” are confused (or are being deliberately dishonest) about this.

    An honest intellectual discussion is about which of the competing ontological positions is true. Of course, you have to be committed to the concept human beings naturally seek the truth and are capable of discovering the truth.

  79. Jenna,

    Shane is off track.

    Our Logic and our Love, our intellectual and our existential realities, just are components of the larger whole that is the Self. And everything impacts everything else, within the Self, even, it seems, the Mind atop the Body, the Body atop the Mind, and so on in all directions. There are no “vacuums” inside the Self, standing in utter isolation from all the other components. Hence Shane’s hinting / appealing to the “purely” intellectual as the “sole” basis for “atheism” just is an attempt at a descriptive which just is not in touch with who and what we are.

    It cuts both ways, for all of us: “……… your letter is commendable in your recognizing that this fact cuts both ways. Just as a Pollyana-ish person, for whom all is sweetness and light, may be disposed to see God’s hand at work everywhere in the world, so the cosmic pessimist and nihilist will see the world as a much darker place and be cynical about people’s worth and motivations. What’s important to see is that neither of these persons is more justified by his emotions in how he sees the world. Your feelings that, “It’s too good to be true!” (which also struck me as a non-Christian) have no more validity in and of themselves than someone guided by wish-fulfillment.” (Dr. Craig)

    A look at the existential side of the equation in our own interior motions [toward/away-from] God, which Shane hints / claims is non-existent, that is to say, he hints / claims that that side of the equation is non-existent is some subset of humanity, is (briefly) looked at in this link here.

  80. Correction:

    The last sentence in my last post should change “is” to “in”, as in, “……hints / claims is non-existent, that is to say, he hints / claims that that side of the equation is non-existent in some subset of humanity…….”

  81. scblhrm:

    The FSM is not offensive. It’s just not accurate.

    You’re saying that the FSM doesn’t really exist? Yep, we’re on the same page there. Neither does God—that’s the point of the comparison.

    I’d be happy to discuss this with you. Are you interested?

    That’s a thoughtful offer, but I’m fed up with this place, I’m afraid. I apologize for the harsh critique, but I’ve found the ratio of thoughtful content to hot air and outrage to be too low.

    Maybe I’ll drop by in the future and have more success with another post.

  82. The FSM thing is really all about how religious beliefs look to people who are not religious. If you have little or no background with Christianity, and then look at it as an observer, then there are things that are undeniably strange. I could list off dozens of things pretty quickly, that to a non-believer, are pretty odd. This is especially true when you consider God is supposed to be the perfect creator of everything.

    And ultimately the same can be said for most (well, all really) other religions.

    I think the FSM comes to play because while being pretty far-fetched and weird, it is only marginally more so, and if it can be ruled out based on its weirdness, so can all of the others (in a sense sort of like the evil god challenge by Stephen law)

    I’m not saying it’s a good argument, but there you have it.

  83. “That’s a thoughtful offer, but I’m fed up with this place, I’m afraid. I apologize for the harsh critique, but I’ve found the ratio of thoughtful content to hot air and outrage to be too low.”

    This site is a great place to see how serious, evangelical apologists think. I have learned a whole lot, and while I have nowhere near enough time to lay out the kind of huge and detailed posts you see here, I do check it frequently on my rounds of the internet.

    I don’t think you are going to convert anyone here as my experience with observing over the last year is that “atheist” posters either get pulled down into some convoluted philosophical rabbit-hole and lose sight of the original issues, or they get banned for breaching some discussion policy.

    Still, I enjoy the site very much.

  84. Chris,

    Good observations. Fragmented perceptions of Actuality, of Love, of God, just is the reason behind efforts like this website to clarify, to define, as the need for such is self-evident. The brutally repeatable experiences which all of us share in our humanity within the arenas of our losses, and of our pains, and of our received injustices, and of our fears, and of our hopes, and beneath, within, and above all of it, in the arena of our love brings us to the God Who is Himself Love.

    Man’s fragmentation will of necessity reflect in word, reasoning, and expressions of all sorts some lesser something than that fully singular, that fully triune [Self-Other-Us] Who is Himself E Pluribus Unum, Who is Himself, in ontology’s end of regress there at the end of ad infinitum, Love.

    Scripture’s entire [A to Z] speaks of nothing else.

    But it must be taken in whole.

    The one-verse theologies of various atheistic thinkers (and too many religious sects) take a few verses and run with it.

    The image which results is something far less unyielding than the real world we all live in. Something, even, weird. It’s a painstaking process, dissecting out little nuances of reasoning, of premise, of presupposition, and so on. But there can be no poetry without grammar. Vegetables seemed weird to me once. So did my parents. But, with understanding comes perspective, and, with perspective comes the desire for more vegetables. As for my parents, well, now that I’m older, the term “weird”, on looking back, ought to have been applied to me. Not to them. When I think of myself sitting there at the age of five at the table with them, and of what they were giving up, of what they were doing. What they understood.

  85. Chris @ #89 – As a Christian I recognise that Christianity has some mightily weird facets. Indeed, the long and often bizarre interaction between God and the Israelis is but one example. So I sympathise with the outsider.

    However, your “weirdness” criteria for determining if something is valid is subjective. It’s a terrible line of reasoning.

    I’m going to take a guess here and suggest that you are inconsistent in how you apply this in your life. For example, I suspect that the next time you sit down to watch a documentary on QM you will not say “this is all pretty weird and I don’t understand it (no one does). Therefore, it must be wrong”.

  86. Hi Jenna,

    #81

    Thanks for the link which helps provide the context. It seems that most of the anger was the result of negative circumstances from things as inconsequential as results whilst playing a game all the way up to the life and death struggle with cancer. People feel anger about things they don’t like and I think we are more likely to attribute that anger to a being because of our social nature. We understand that it’s irrational to be angry at cancer itself because it is just doing what it does and not through any malevolent intent. Projecting/misplacing that anger on to God is a way of coping, even though it is still irrational for those that don’t believe in him and equally for those that do but think he knows best.

    Thanks
    Shane

  87. Chris, that’s an insightful and helpful explanation for the FSM. Here’s what I would add to it. To the extent that the FSM seems like God as Christians understand God to be, to that same extent we have failed to communicate who and what God really is. True resemblances between the FSM and the real God are almost completely nonexistent. I don’t know that it’s your fault for not seeing it that way. We need to explain it better.

    (I do not fault anyone who does not know something about Christianity. I do fault those who parade themselves as having knowledge when they do not, who present themselves as authorities on subjects they do not actually know, or use academic credential in one discipline as an authoritative platform for speaking authoritatively on others they do not know.)

    So please understand this, for now: the FSM does not resemble the Christian God in any relevant way whatsoever.

  88. How can it be equally irrational for

    a) an atheist to be angry at God

    and

    b) a theist to be angry at God?

    Books of the Bible like the Psalms are chock full of people who both trust God and are angry at him or dismayed at his apparent lack of action. This seems to be understandable given the circumstances. An atheist shaking his fist at the heavens and cursing God? Not so much.

  89. Tom, RE: Bob Seidensticker’s departure

    This has been a very interesting week for me in terms of my learning curve as a Christian apologist. I am sorry that Bob S. did not find this website met his expectations, but frankly, I am not surprised. I wonder if he would be interested in my experience on his website and my reaction to its process and content. Whether or not he is, I think that my experience is illuminating for us as we learn what is involved in cyber-apologetics.

    I went on Bob Seidensticker’s website with the best of intentions. I entered the discussion that was advertised as presenting “a natural explanation of the resurrection.” The blog is titled “So how does an atheist explain the resurrection story?” I was expecting a possible explanation of this supernatural event from the perspective of naturalism, and was very curious as to what this might look like.

    I soon realized that in fact, this was a group of atheists and one or two identified Christian or believer commenters, discussing Bob S. arguments as to why the gospel accounts of the resurrection could not be believed, which he presented to bolster his conclusion that the resurrection never really happened. I called him on what I saw as a “bait and switch” lead-in to the thread, offering several sources that I consider to be credible analyses of why the Gospels are believable, including Jim Warner Wallace’s book Cold-case Christianity and Professor Simon Greenleaf (1874). The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence.

    One issue that came up early on was the question of who has the “burden of proof” in such a discussion. This came up because I was asked by several commenters for evidence. I attempted to clarify the obvious. I, little ole Jenna, ordinary Christian living in the 21st century, have no personal evidence of the resurrection, a supernatural event that occurred over 2,000 years ago. Did they really expect that I would? This admission brought a bit of triumphant bellowing, “You’ve got nothing!” from my atheist interlocutors, and some rather bizarre accusations of how I was avoiding assuming my “burden of proof” and therefore, shirking my duties as a Christian apologist, possibly thereby contributing to condemning some atheists to hell, including Bob himself.

    There then came a few comments directed my way that contained profanity, which I objected to, only to have it implied that I am “overly sensitive” and a prude. The essence of this message is that I was doing a great job of confirming every negative stereotype they hold about Christians, so keep it up! At that point, I took a break, only to return to find a lengthy discussion about me, full of dime store pseudo-psycho-analysis. They drew the conclusion that I merely cling to my Christian beliefs about the resurrection rather than admit to the power of persuasion of their arguments because if I did, my world would fall apart.

    The strategy of talking about someone instead of to him or her when the target of the discussion is present is a catty, childish tactic for used by the cheerleaders’ clique for dissing someone who is an outsider. I’d had enough.

    This experience, along with several years contributing to other open forums debating religion, have taught me a great deal about the social function for atheists of their cyber-community. I referred earlier to Alister McGrath’s elaborated discussion and analysis of this phenomenon. William Lane Craig also has written insightfully about internet atheism and its impact on apologetics. IMO, we need to be very much aware of the strategies and tools that substitute for reason, logic and respectful dialogue on these internet sites.

    There are many genuine issues that we as apologists can analyze and discuss, along with our atheist friends and interlocutors, who are on a sincere quest for the truth. For instance, does any and every Christian make a “claim” in the argumentative and rhetorical sense to the basic tenets of Christianity, such as the truth of the resurrection, when we state our belief in the resurrection. Does this statement of belief then impose a “burden of proof” on us, individually or collectively, to present “evidence” to convince a skeptic?

    My hope is that sharing this experience on a atheist blog will serve both as a challenge and a warning. I am reminded of what our Lord Jesus and the book of Proverbs have to say that might light our path: Matthew 7:6 and Proverbs 23:9. I am blessed to have this website to help me learn and grow as a Christian apologist.

  90. Thank you for your insights, Jenna. You’ve been a strong encourager here at many points along the way.

    The atheist internet is a strange place. Bob Seidensticker’s blog is one of the gentler places for a Christian to make him or herself known.

  91. That’s a thoughtful offer, but I’m fed up with this place, I’m afraid. I apologize for the harsh critique, but I’ve found the ratio of thoughtful content to hot air and outrage to be too low.

    This a very insincere quote from a very insincere poster. The reality is that (myself excepted) every other poster here gave sincere, thoughtful and intelligent explanations of their position. They also answered Bob’s replies and went the extra mile to deal with Bob’s questions. There were very few examples of the “hot air and outrage” that Bob refers to. The reality is Bob had his sophomoric FSM debunked and didn’t like it. Now he’s taking his ball, and with a few impolite words, going home. Bye Bob.

  92. Tom,

    In his wonderful book “Mere apologetics: How to help seekers and skeptics find faith” Alister McGrath says this: “The apologist is thus someone who translates the realities of faith into the cultural vernacular.” (p. 37)

    Do you know of any research or books about cyber-apologetics? I feel like we may be good at preparing ourselves as Christians to go “out there” to the cyber-nations (so to speak), but may be ill-equipped to deal with the culture that we encounter. I sense a certain danger for us Christians, that we might be putting ourselves in a situation where some very unhealthy dynamics and questionable motives are at work, where we can be “used” as a target of atheists’ anger (at God, at the Christian majority in our society, or at people of faith in general).

    Based on your analysis and writing of the work of Peter Boghossian and his “Street Espistemology” strategies and reading his book myself, I know that atheists (although not well organized as a group or movement) seem to have a grand strategy. What is our role in countering this, most particularly on the internet?

    There is lots to explore here. Are there any sources you can recommend?

    Thanks. JB

  93. I think it would be instructive to do a genuine content analysis comparing the threads Bob took part in here and the one Jenna took part in on his blog.

    There is a way to do it with proper scientific controls. It’s time consuming. It involves coding each line of text according to relevant dimensions such as (if I may use the tongue-in-cheek approach for now) thoughtful content, hot air, and outrage. These three terms would need to be operationally defined. Multiple coders would need to run through each line of text independently, and their codings would need to be statistically examined to ensure an appropriate level of agreement.

    Each commenter’s general spiritual orientation would need to be coded: theist, atheist, or indeterminate, for example.

    Having accomplished such coding, the statistical analysis of the results would be a breeze.

    Anyone want to take up the project?

  94. It would also be instructive to do the same thing on a larger scale, comparing the atheist internet with the theist internet. Aside from the time it would take, the two chief problems I see with this would be

    1. Identifying “thoughtful content” reliably, and in a manner that atheists and theists alike could agree on it to a reasonable degree.
    2. Selecting which blogs and threads to examine. Does one go for representativeness? If so, how would they be selected? Does one go for the leading blogs in each category? They would be easier to identify, at least, both for purposes of research and for clarity of reporting.

  95. Bob, if you’re visiting here, I have one take-away for you from the preceding several comments: I wouldn’t be the least bit afraid of what this research would reveal. I doubt any of the Christians here would be worried about what we might find. I think your blog’s ratio of hot air and outrage to thoughtful content would prove to be rather higher than this blog’s.

    That’s just my impression, mind you. I wish I had time to run the research.

  96. Tom:

    If we’re talking about the analysis of invective vs. thoughtful and helpful responses, I’d be happy to see the results. The mix of commenters changes over time at my site, and I have no control over that. My own policy is to be pretty laissez-faire. The end result will be more swearing and anger than you, Jenna, or even I would like to see. Many of the regulars don’t suffer fools lightly; on the other hand, there are some really smart people that are eager to share their knowledge. I want more Christians to read my blog, though, given the Wild West commenting environment, they’ll have to have a slightly rugged exterior.

    You’re in the same boat, but I imagine that you’re able to keep things a bit more civil. You may be right that the quality ratio is better for your blog.

    I appreciate Jenna’s fair summary of her experience at my blog. Things went downhill when she said in response to a suggestion of Bart Ehrman as a source with, “I do not consider Bart Ehrman to be a credible or authoritative Bible scholar.” She’s more than welcome to that opinion, but next time, it would be good to preface that with “I realize that …” listing his substantial qualifications and wrapping up with the reasons why his high reputation is undeserved. That will at least show that she has a well-informed opinion. Her “Got anybody else?” is exactly the game that “Doctor” Kent Hovind played in some of his debates. I doubt that Jenna was being anything but honest, but that might at least explain how things took a bad turn with her conversation.

    I don’t want to revisit the FSM topic here, but just to make my point clear, I was quite eager to hear a coherent summary of why it was offensive and nonsensical. I may have already mentioned this, but I’m in another group in which this very complaint was brought up. I didn’t understand the concern there and, after exploring it here, I was no better informed.

    What I got was a very clear statement that the FSM is unhelpful to my position and ridiculous, plus many assurances that this had been made clear to me. It wasn’t. Maybe I’m stupid or maybe (dare I say it?) the position was only clear in everyone’s mind, and that plain summary didn’t make it to the screen. If you do the analysis you proposed, be sure to flag statements that build this case. I think you’ll find it a lot weaker than you think. (And then, of course, when I raised this problem, I got slammed again with zero-content finger wagging.)

    To repeat, I’m not trying to reopen the FSM discussion. I’m just trying to help you understand that my actions, from my standpoint, were quite reasonable (unlike what many comments seemed to imagine).

  97. Bob, RE: The problems with the FSM

    I think that it is important for you to understand the objections to the FSM argument on several levels, which I think I articulated in my comment earlier, but since you ask again, I’ll elaborate.

    First, on the argumentative level, regarding protocols of argumentation: The FSM is clearly a straw man argument. The FSM is a rhetorical invention rather than having any real substance as a description of any deity that has ever been worshiped in any culture, anywhere, in any culture, by any identifiable group of people with a history or religious tradition. Consequently, the FSM has no parallel with any god of/from any polytheistic religion or the God of monotheism in the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity or Islam. So, what is the sense or purpose in using the FSM to make any statements of your beliefs or any arguments for/against any god, gods or God.

    It is obvious to your Christian interlocutors that it is more than possible to invent or conceptualize a god that does not exist. In fact, I frequently argue that the god that many atheists conceptualize and imagine is in fact a god that does not exist. When the atheist describes or defines his/her understanding of God, I can honestly say, I don’t believe in that god either. This tends to irritate some atheists, but if you think of why it does, you might gain some insight into the response you got to the FSM on this site. Neither you nor we believe in the FSM. But we, unlike you, believe in God, the God of the monotheistic religions. So let’s not bother discussing, arguing, debate about an invented god that neither of us (probably no one) believes in or believes exist.

    According to the demographic statistics I’ve seen, it is reported fairly consistently that about 90% of the world’s population believe in a god, gods or God; 10% do not. So let’s discuss the beliefs of some subset of the world’s population that do believe in God rather than waste our time discussing some god that no one believes in.

    Which brings me to the next level of problems with the FSM and a concept that I believe it is very important for atheists to understand: deification. Atheists often make an argument that goes something like this: “You, a believer, don’t believe in Zeus, Thor, etc. So you understand why I don’t believe in your God. I simply believe in one less god than you do.” Atheists disapprove of deification and express this by rejecting any and all deities.

    Deities are merely abstractions, ideations and conceptualizations that are the product of deification, the process of making natural phenomena or human characteristics holy or sacred or worthy of worship through a religion. Deification is a linguistic and intellectual process through forms of “story-telling” that involve mytho-poetic language, symbolism, allegory, anthropomorphism, and other forms of linguistic, conceptual representations of existing reality. The conceptualized and imagined deity does not “exist,” although the reality that is deified does exist. Synonyms for deification are glorification, veneration, idealization, adoration, sanctification. An example: We readily acknowledge that Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain, does not exist, but no one argues that rain does not exist. The same is true of all 200 Aztec gods. The representations of the natural phenomenon or human characteristic are not existing gods but the natural phenomena they symbolize do exist. Many atheists do not understand or refuse to acknowledge what monotheism deifies, which is the reason for the lack of relevance of their claim that there is “no evidence that God exists.” The FSM does not address an honest and rational analysis and discussion of the God of monotheism.

    The third level or problem with the FSM: mockery and ridicule, like people parading around with colanders on their heads. In retaliation, perhaps childishly, I retort that atheists’ arguments against the existence of God are like colanders: Not a single one holds water.

    Bob, I hope that this comment will give you some insights in answer to your question. JB

  98. Tom,

    I like your ideas about doing research on the content and argumentative tactics used in Christian vs. atheists websites and the “you all come” websites. I know that there are programs for ethnographic research that are used in this type of analysis, but I’m not familiar with them myself. Perhaps some foundation might be interested in this and have some grant funding for such research. I’m thinking of the Pew Center, perhaps. This would be a great contribution to our knowledge about how religion is perceived and discussed through social media and in cyber-communities of faith and non-faith.

    Thanks for the productive and enlightening conversation. JB

  99. Bob,

    (Tom, the word count of this comment is high, and, its not on the topic of the story of True Reason, please delete this if it will be better in another more appropriate thread 🙂 )

    The FSM’s failure is found in its denial of what all of us, you and I, seek when we seek understanding. It’s just not serious thinking.

    The Theist’s approach, specifically the Christian’s approach to understanding reality, seeks coherence from “A to Z”. As does the atheist’s attempt at understanding reality. The explanatory power of any TOE is found, in part, in its ability to avoid any and all circular reasoning. That is to say, while traveling along its ontological necessities one ought never find the need to cut that chain mid-stride and leap off into blind axiom but instead ought find one’s ship sailing across that ocean of ad infinitum of one’s ontology from [A to Z] with each link in the chain supporting the next.

    Where the intellectual and the existential, or, where Logic and Love, where the rigors of what Logic is and the depths of Love’s geography are found only in blind axiom, and, when the physical universe itself must be reduced to a Hologram, when all of these steps of denying reality on all fronts must be taken in order to avoid blind axiom it becomes evident that one’s TOE just is not doing the work of a TOE. It is explaining nothing, and, it is making non-entity of the very entities it claims to explain. Making non-entity of X does not explain X in the special case when X is everything.

    I’ll point you to the over-simplified walkway in #50 and the singular Descriptive-Prescriptive mentioned in #83 wherein we find all that is Logic, all that is Reason, all that is Intentionality, all that is Personhood, all that is Love housed within ontology’s necessary E Pluribus Unum.

    All prescriptive sentences within naturalism are, to the end, blind axiom. That is to say, Naturalism houses no ontological prescriptives. And, Naturalism’s descriptive is heading, by force of reason impinging upon those committed to the presupposition of naturalism who are well versed in physics, into pure hologram, which is only a little worse than the absurdity of mereological nihilism’s illusions. These steps are being taken in order to avoid the anthology of problems housed within the arenas of Cause/Effect and Contingency, for the only alternative which reason permits leads all conclusions into the arena of intentionality, which the naturalist must avoid.

    You have to see Christ’s TOE through the eyes of reason, though there is much more to Actuality (such as love), if you want to see the inaccuracy of the FSM. Christ’s uniquely singular Descriptive-Prescriptive necessitates the amalgamation of Time and Timeless, of Derived and Underived as no other topography can allow the kind of A-To-Z coherence which any singular TOE must house. As touched on earlier, we find within love all the geography of The-Self, just as, we find within love the unavoidable landscape of The-Other, just as, we find within love all which these two necessarily beget, that very present and third distinct housed within the singular Us. We find no love void of I/Self, just as, we find no love void of You/Other, just as, we find no love void of I-You, that is to say, void of Self-Other, embrace’s begotten Us. We find here that E Pluribus Unum just is fully singular, that [Self-Other-Us] just is fully triune. That Ultimate Actuality “is” Love necessitates that ontological end of regress. One. Three. That is what E Pluribus Unum just means, just is.

    The beginning of Intention, of Will, wherein Reason itself is found breaking free of Nature, wherein Logic itself is found to be an end of regress and not illusion, finds coherence nowhere else. All of our painfully, brutally repeatable moral and physical experiences which we awake to find ourselves having within this “observational matrix” which we call the “universe”, which is clearly contingent, are from A to Z wholly coherent in the singular TOE that is Theism, and in particular that of Christ, for reason shows us that it just is inevitable, isn’t it, that the Timeless must touch Time, that the Underived must touch Derived, that Word must touch Corporeal. And what about that bit about “inevitable”? This “inevitable” touching, this amalgamating explains all that is Non-Illusion: the Material Universe. Whereas, that other side of that bit about “inevitable” brings us to the non-determined, the non-inevitable, of Love’s Intentionality toward Justice, or, toward Mercy, or, best of all, if Love can pull it off, both, as He calls us, Mankind, His Beloved. He is utterly free to do either, or none, or all. Word’s Corporeal, just as in the case of the Material Universe, also explains that large swath of reality that is our humanity coherently, void of blind axiom, as Christ, Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self, aborts all of Mercy and subsumes Justice, and, aborts all of Justice and subsumes Mercy, as Timelessness touches Time by the unthinkable business of amalgamation, which some seem to want to call incarnation, through Love’s free intention, for Love need not, though Love does.

    Whether we speak of our Physics or of our Pain, whether we speak of the Timeless or of Time, all vectors weak and strong are utterly coherent within Love’s Ontology from A to Z.

    You will find that all of Scripture, from A to Z, is about nothing else. I’ll leave it for you to take, not a verse or a chapter, as Love’s critics are prone to do, but the whole A to Z as a singular, should you wish to see that such is the case. A brief example: Though Love hates divorce, we find Him, not annihilating Man, but instead regulating divorce, for Love will redeem Man. How is it we find Love regulating that which Love hates? Whence the end Man’s fragmentation? Whence Man in e pluribus unum? Whence Moral Excellence? Such simple textures tie together Love’s Protoevangelium housed within Genesis 3:15-17 with the harshness of Man’s ‘hell’ (the ‘outside’, on definition) on earth there inside of what Genesis 3:15-17 defines as the Outside (which scripture calls the Law, or, the Ministry of Death) and such ties each of those with John 3:15-17, which Genesis 3:15-17 defines as Seed’s Seed, as the business of amalgamation finds the Door to Moral Excellence as Man-In-Love, Love-In-Man, that is to say, Man-In-God, God-In-Man begins its final gestation, the birth of which we in our pain joyfully approach.

    We find here that E Pluribus Unum, that is to say, that Love, is in fact the highest ethic not merely in this world, but in all possible worlds.

  100. One thing that I have noticed is that our atheist interlocutors seldom engage us with any real arguments. Instead they resort to being argumentative, which more often than not is endlessly repeating some kind of nonsense they have dreamed up. (I’ll spare everyone further discussion about the type of thing I’m thinking of 😉 .) But furthermore, they are not even good at being argumentative. Creating the same straw-men over-and-over again is not even a good way to be argumentative.

    It doesn’t requires a PhD. to know how to argue persuasively. Have you ever been in the market for a better car and talked to a used car salesman? At least when they argue with you they don’t insult you and resort to ridicule. The good ones, as a matter of fact, try to make you feel they are your best friend (at least for that afternoon.)

    My point is simply this: I am a theist, because theism is more reasonable than atheism or any other alternative. It is something I have thought about, talked about and written about. Notice I didn’t say that “I feel it’s more reasonable.” I am claiming that it is logically and objectively more reasonable than any competing explanation. If you think that I am wrong then you have to understand the reasons why I am a theist and make a point-by-point refutation. Throwing nonsense at me doesn’t accomplish that. It doesn’t accomplish anything. To make a decent argument you have to understand logic and how good arguments are constructed. Why is it that people who claim to have reason on their side are so poor when it comes to making good arguments? Why would you expect anyone to agree with you?

    Is it maybe because you’re the kind of person who has bought into some bad arguments?

  101. JAD,

    Thanks for your insights. As you probably have noticed if you’ve visited any atheists’ blogs, they like to insist that the discussion must follow some sort of unstated by implied rules of formal argumentation and discourse. The interlocutors tend to use terms like “claim” and “evidence” and “burden of proof” and are very quick to cast the burden of the alleged “burden of proof” unto the theist at the drop of a statement of belief early on in an argument. The problem is that they frequently fail to identify what “claim” the theist makes and worse yet, what claim they make, that determines who is responsible for supporting or defending such claim. There are components of formal argumentation that they tend to ignore, such as stipulation to definition of important terms and the truth or falsehood of premises.

    I’ll give you an example. In my foray onto Bob Seidensticker’s blog, a discussion of the Resurrection, in the introductory article it was said that Gary Habermas claims that “… the tomb was empty.” . In the comments, one commenter said “Christians like to say that the tomb was empty.” Now, this raises the question: Who’s claim is it that the tomb was empty? Who bears the “burden of proof” in a discussion (argument) about whether or not the tomb was empty? The atheist commenters seemed to believe that any Christian, because of our belief in the Resurrection, thereby has made the claim that the tomb was empty and must “prove” it. I don’t think the claim that the tomb was empty belongs to Gary Habermas or to Christians who just “like to say” that it was empty or that we have a “burden” to present evidence of the empty tomb. We must, just as the atheist must, weigh the credibility of the testimony and of the witnesses who provide that testimony.

    I think that a bit more transparency about what the rules of engagement truly are and sticking to them is not an unreasonable expectation in our dialog with our atheist friends. That’s why I’m so glad to dialogue here, where the rules are clearly articulated and enforced.

  102. @ Jenna

    Isn’t it always fair and reasonable to expect that any claim that defies natural law, made by any person (firsthand or otherwise), be supported by evidence?

    Person A: When a living thing dies, it is not reanimated.

    Person B: My sister’s boyfriend’s grandmother’s cat died and then came back to life a week later!

    Is not the burden of proof obvious and irrefutable here? I’m just restating the “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence” argument, but don’t you agree that it is applicable when alleging contravention of universal facts?

  103. ….any claim that defies natural law

    Hence the requirement for an explanation that can do to natural things, what nature cannot do.

  104. I wouldn’t waste your time with Bob Snidensnarker. The way he blew in working his juvenile argument about the FSM, and then coyly denied that he meant to be insulting, certainly demonstrates the quantity and quality of reasonable, civil discussion you should expect at his Cross Examined blog. It looks like he has a whole peanut gallery of antisocial college dropouts camping in his comments section, where Bob holds court over analyses of such sophisticated theses as “Christianity’s Unbroken Record of Failure” and “How Faith Infantilizes Adults.” Then, when the snark subsides, he posts about homosexuality and abortion just to increase traffic.

    Why doesn’t someone go there and make an “analogy” between Bob’s wife and an inflatable sex doll? “Why, Bob, I had no idea you’d be offended!”

  105. JDH, here’s the distinction that Jenna was making and that I frequently make. There are broad claims and there are specific claims. I’ve found that when I comment on atheist blogs about specific claim a, other commenters rush to hold me responsible for the whole A to Z of all of the Bible, Christian history, Catholic priests’ behavior, colonization of South America, Joel Osteen’s book sales, …. okay, I’m exaggerating somewhat, but not entirely.

    There has to be some discipline. If I am talking about a, I should not be expected to write the book that it would take to defend A through Z. The burden of proof is tied to the specific claim. The alternative is the fallacy of argumentum ad fragenblitzen.

    Jenna was referring to a specific claim. That’s the one for which she holds the burden of proof in that context.

  106. JHD

    The Christian perspective is that it’s not an extraordinary claim. We believe the resurrection to be a miracle. Given that we believe in a God capable of creating the universe ex nihilo the ability of that God to resurrect a person is an perfectly ordinary manifestation of that power. Now, that being said we certainly do believe in supplying evidence. It may or may not convince you but it’s certainly supported by evidence.

  107. Thanks, Howard, for the chuckle that your last paragraph inspired. I never thought of it that way, but I think you are on to something regarding the analogy. If Bob loves his wife, then why doesn’t he love the doll equally by spending time with it, etc, etc.? It’s a dumb, and yes, offensive, argument but it seems to closely parallel the FSM argument.

  108. @Tom

    I see what you’re saying, and I empathize with both side of that scenario. I understand that it is unfair to ask a moderate modern Christian to account for the parade of horribles found in any Hitchens book.

    That said, a distilled version of Jenna’s comment is that no Christian can be expected to prove any aspect of their belief that is based on doctrine predating their own lifespan (eg, I’m not a primary source for the resurrection, ergo I do not have the burden of proof). By extension, I could only reasonably expect a Christian to explain her own reasons for accepting what she perceives to be evidence of her belief without any expectation of actual supportive evidence.

    This is not satisfactory to me for a host of reasons. Aside from the enjoyable rhetorical sparring about existential issues, I find that my life is impacted negatively by Christianity in profound, tangible ways. If I am to pay a price for another person’s religious beliefs, I expect them to justify the validity of that belief. Not incidentally, I expect evidence that weighs at least equally to the disadvantage imposed on me. Unfortunately, conflicting accounts and eyewitness testimony twice removed does not rise to the occasion. But I digress.

    If a person holds a belief in a miracle, why is it unfair to require proof? By definition, miracles are improbable. Probabilities shift burden of proof. If you assert a belief, how is that not an individual claim?

    (p.s. I am not educated in the art of debate, so these are actual honest questions.)

  109. JDH @ #112

    Is not the burden of proof obvious and irrefutable here? I’m just restating the “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence” argument, but don’t you agree that it is applicable when alleging contravention of universal facts?

    The “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence” argument is not an argument. It’s a phrase (now a slogan) that was coined by the late American astronomer Carl Sagan. As a standard it’s completely ad hoc. How would one ever determine whether evidence was sufficiently extraordinary enough? I suspect that a skeptic would never concede that it was sufficient. The so-called argument is really just a ploy that can be used to brush aside events and experiences that don’t fit comfortably into the skeptics world view.

    Furthermore, Sagan himself did not himself live up to his own standard. For example, Sagan believed that the origin of life could be explained naturalistically. At present researchers are no where close to explaining how life originated. Sagan also believed that extraterrestrial intelligent life existed elsewhere in our universe. Where is the evidence for that?

  110. @ BillT

    I understand that you have evidence. For years I read the apologetics comparing the NT record with other ancient texts, and the authors and pastors and apologists. The common conclusion was that if we can accept Plato and Aristotle with such a flimsy record, why not the NT with its much better-supported record?

    Well, to start, the existence of Plato and Aristotle as actual individuals is uncertain. That uncertainty doesn’t really matter because their alleged writing remain intact and complete in their meaning.

    Also, Plato and Aristotle contribute to philosophy and history in an academic way, and people are free to agree or disagree with their views. We accept them or reject them or go about our lives never knowing what they allegedly said.

    I think we would all agree that the stakes are higher in the NT, which advocates some very troubling ideas and mandates the spread of those ideas. I could happily accept the NT historical record as nothing short of exemplary were it not for its contents. In fact, I treat the NT much the way I do the philosophers – accept the good, reject the bad, and remain skeptical about the improbable.

    The problem, really, is with the doctrines. Inerrancy, infallibility, a huge number of miracles along with the modern dearth of miracles, in-group/out-group, ulterior motivation, etc. These things (which are not necessarily a problem with the text itself) have weighted the scales enormously. In my opinion, they have weighed the scale so heavily on the side of impossibility that the historical credibility of the text no longer matters.

  111. …I find that my life is impacted negatively by Christianity in profound, tangible ways.

    Care to give us a couple of examples?

  112. JAD – “The “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence” argument is not an argument. It’s a phrase (now a slogan) that was coined by the late American astronomer Carl Sagan. As a standard it’s completely ad hoc. How would one ever determine whether evidence was sufficiently extraordinary enough? I suspect that a skeptic would never concede that it was sufficient. The so-called argument is really just a ploy that can be used to brush a side events and experiences that don’t fit comfortably into the skeptics world view.

    Furthmore, Sagan himself did not himself live up to his own standard. For example, Sagan believed that the origin of life could be explained naturalistically. At present researchers are no where close to explaining how life originated. Sagan also believed that extraterrestrial intelligent life existed elsewhere in our universe. Where is the evidence for that?”

    Carl Sagan didn’t believe those things. He would be the last person to signup for belief in something without evidence! He believed that we should keep searching for life elsewhere in the Universe, and that based on current science, it seems likely we will find it someday, but he didn’t know for sure. The same is true for the origin of life. We don’t know yet, but I suspect we will at some point.

    Extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence is exactly about shifting the burden. If I tell you a crazy story about my Uncle re-growing an arm, or about the flying cow, you will certainly be looking for some serious evidence before believing me!

    I feel exactly the same way about Christian religion.

  113. So JDH. You’ve looked at the evidence and find you can’t accept it. Ok. So what exactly is the problem. If you don’t find the evidences for Christianity compelling then by all means don’t accept them. However, I get the impression there is something else troubling you. Care to give us some insight into that. Perhaps an answer to my prior question would be a starting point.

  114. I think we would all agree that the stakes are higher in the NT, which advocates some very troubling ideas and mandates the spread of those ideas.

    I don’t know what you mean by “the stakes are higher”. Higher compared to what and in what way? It seems you are fast approaching a moral argument of some kind.

  115. Inerrancy, infallibility, a huge number of miracles along with the modern dearth of miracles

    You would have to expand on what you mean by either inerrancy and infallibility because both of these are contested amongst Christians.

    And can you tell me why you think that there is a huge dearth of contemporary miracles (or miracle accounts if you prefer)?

  116. JDH, you have quite a distillery cooking. I didn’t see that in Jenna’s comment at all.

    If a person holds a belief in a miracle, why is it unfair to require proof? By definition, miracles are improbable. Probabilities shift burden of proof. If you assert a belief, how is that not an individual claim?

    If a person is trying to persuade you of a miracle, then yes, it is fair to require persuasive evidence. I’m not sure that’s what Jenna was doing in that context.

    If a person believes in a miracle but is talking about something else at the moment, it seems a bit presumptuous to require them at that moment to provide evidence of the miracle.

  117. JDH,

    You give this analysis of my comments about “burden of proof”:

    “That said, a distilled version of Jenna’s comment is that no Christian can be expected to prove any aspect of their belief that is based on doctrine predating their own lifespan (eg, I’m not a primary source for the resurrection, ergo I do not have the burden of proof). By extension, I could only reasonably expect a Christian to explain her own reasons for accepting what she perceives to be evidence of her belief without any expectation of actual supportive evidence.”

    I partially agree with this statement of yours: “I’m not a primary source for the resurrection, ergo I do not have the burden of proof.” I will rephrase it, however. I was not a witness to the events surrounding the resurrection, therefore, I have no direct evidence or testimony about the events to offer as “proof” that this miracle occurred. Therefore, I do not have a “burden of proof” regarding the Resurrection. However, I am more than willing to explain to you why I believe the testimony we have from the Gospels and the New Testament about the Resurrection.

    Now, what I don’t understand is why you seem to have a problem with this. You say this: “If a person holds a belief in a miracle, why is it unfair to require proof?” In this question, do you mean “proof” of my belief in the miracle in question or “proof” that the miracle occurred? There is an important difference, and that is my point, which I sense that Tom has understood.

    As you state in #121, your own “standard of proof” for belief in the miracles testified to in the Gospels has not been met, such as you accept the credibility of the evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Okay, so the reasonable thing for any Christian individually or many Christians collectively is to invite you to come, let us reason together to see if we can support you in viewing the evidence available equally to all of us to overcome your doubts. For this purpose, I highly recommend Tom and Carson’s book, True Reason.

  118. I am a team of writers unto myself! J/k

    I appreciate the enjoyable discussion and intend to engage more on my lunch break tomorrow. =)

  119. JDH,

    I understand that you have evidence behind some of your presuppositions of naturalism. For years I read physics and the various pontifications of the latest conclusions of Hawking and others comparing their record with other ancient texts, and the authors and pastors and apologists. It was nice to see them finally come around to the Immaterial and the Timeless and change their definitions to those which the Theist has always known. The common conclusion was that if we can accept Hawking’s Imaginary Sphere and Plato and Aristotle with such a flimsy evidential record, why not believe that you and I, and the laptop you are reading right now, are in fact a Hologram on the grounds of an equally flimsy evidential record? Real Time is Imaginary, and Imaginary Time is ontologically real. And I don’t want us to forget about the ought-not housed within Child Sacrifice, which weighs on me as well, given that you are asking me to surrender such to blind axiom, or, to illusion, rather than to truth.

    Well, to start, the existence of Plato and Aristotle as actual individuals is uncertain, though that of Hawking is certain, assuming we don’t take his philosophy seriously, in which case that is not certain. That uncertainty doesn’t really matter because their alleged writings remain intact and complete in their meaning. I say alleged because Plato and Aristotle lack first hand testimony and Hawking may be an ontologically non-real projection of that Imaginary Sphere. He goes there to avoid the problem of intention amid the necessary and sufficient cause of all-effects standing amid this effect but not that effect. Ultimately, cause/effect cannot be real, lest God.

    But I digress. Plato and Aristotle contribute to philosophy and history in an academic way, and people are free to agree or disagree with their views. We accept them or reject them or go about our lives never knowing what they allegedly said.

    I think we would all agree that the stakes are higher for Atheism/Naturalism, which advocates some very troubling ideas and mandates the spread of those ideas, for we are not free to do otherwise. Hence the Phallus and the Fist. The little girls in Child Sacrifice come to mind again, as does the illusion of reason. I could happily accept the Naturalist’s historical record as nothing short of exemplary were it not for its contents. In fact, I treat Naturalism much the way I do the philosophers – accept the good, reject the bad, and remain skeptical about the improbable, such as the move to define every bit of known, measurable reality as a Hologram which is IMO only a little worse than the illusions of mereological nihilism.

    The problem, really, is with the doctrines which Naturalism foists as necessary truth. Inerrancy of supposed Illusion is impossible to defend, much less assert, given that all that is Mind is therein diagnosed as Pan-Psychotic, and the possibility of, never mind the infallibility of, the untestable, unmeasurable, unverifiable, and the un-falsifiable in Hawking’s Imaginary Spheres and Holograms is deeply troubling, particularly when delusion just is our condition, and, particularly when the little girls in Child Sacrifice are, we are told by atheists, whatever we define them to be. The NT at least has second and third hand testimony of eye-witnesses; that is to say, it at least has something measurable. And, atop all of that, we have the additional problems like the huge number of miracles such as spontaneous biogenesis (that never happens), all of us being a Hologram despite the troubling degree of the improbability of that, the non-existence of Cause/Effect despite repeatable evidence to the contrary, the non-existence of intention despite repeatable evidence to the contrary, along with the modern death of anything even resembling those sorts of miracles atop the bench top or in nature (unless Mind pushes physical stuff around) – all wholly illusory for some strange reason.

    Further, Atheism’s innate Tooth/Claw in-group/out-group power plays just are favored by that Taskmaster named Mother Nature, and the catastrophic and necessary embrace (through natural favoring/selection) of humanity’s most violent ulterior motivations just are the Ceiling of our necessary delusional state. These things are not necessarily a problem with Naturalism itself for its wide array of blind axioms can hide behind the claim of illusion. Yet they have weighted the scales enormously. In my opinion, they have weighed the scale so heavily on the side of impossibility that the historical credibility of Naturalism’s writings up to this juncture no longer matters.

    I understand that it is unfair to ask a moderate modern Naturalist to account for the parade of horribles found in any book on natural favoring (some say selecting, but a verb is a verb) of violence and genome perpetuation at all costs as it plays and we dance with necessary indifference. The more plausible is that we find within love all the geography of The-Self, just as, we find within love the unavoidable landscape of The-Other, just as, we find within love all which these two necessarily beget, that very present and third distinct housed within the singular Us. We find no love void of I/Self, just as, we find no love void of You/Other, just as, we find no love void of I-You, that is to say, void of Self-Other, embrace’s begotten Us. We find here that E Pluribus Unum just is fully singular, that [Self-Other-Us] just is fully triune. That Ultimate Actuality “is” Love necessitates that ontological end of regress. One. Three. That is what E Pluribus Unum just means, just is.

    On such grounds Love just is the highest ethic in all possible worlds. Such in fragmentation explains, well, that’s another topic.

    That said, a distilled version of most Atheist’s comments is that no Naturalist can be expected to prove any aspect of their belief that is based on doctrine predating their own lifespan, that is, I’m not a primary source for the Hologram, the Illusion, the Naturally-Favored-Violence, or the Pan-Psychosis which Naturalism is more and more being forced to commit to, ergo I do not have the burden of proof. By extension, I could only reasonably expect a Naturalist to explain her own reasons for accepting what she perceives to be evidence of her belief without any expectation of actual supportive evidence; of which there is none so far.

    This is not satisfactory to me for a host of reasons. Aside from the enjoyable rhetorical sparring about existential issues, I find that my life is impacted negatively by Atheism’s necessary embrace of the Phallus and the Fist to the bitter ends of the world stage as that which Final-Reality (assuming it’s not that pesky Hologram/Illusion) just does favor, which just is the ceiling of function, all our forms enslaved thereby, never free of her. Finding such indifference in profound, tangible ways does, when layered over the move to deny all known, measurable reality, on all fronts, as either Illusion, or (just a bit more irrational), a Hologram tips the scales so far into the Theist’s corner that the question of “if” never enters my mind anymore.

    If we are to pay such a heavy intellectual and existential price for another person’s beliefs I expect them to justify the validity of that belief. Not incidentally; I expect evidence that weighs at least equally to the disadvantage imposed on me should I embrace it as the only True Descriptive-Prescriptive void of blind axiom. Unfortunately, Naturalism’s conflicts with all known, measurable reality, every bit of it, and the utter lack of any eyewitness testimony on our supposed Pan-Psychosis, or on life just spontaneously coming out of dead things, and so on, does not rise to the occasion. But I digress again.

    When Naturalism asks us to take the intellectual and the existential and what the rigors of what Logic is and what the depths of Love’s is and what Reason is and intellectually commit Logic, Reason and Love solely to blind axiom, and, when the physical universe itself must be reduced to Psychosis and Illusion, when all of these steps of denying reality on all fronts must be taken in order to avoid scientific blind axiom in the arena of painfully repeatable Cause/Effect and unforgiving Contingency troubling one’s TOE then it becomes evident that one’s TOE just is not doing the work of a TOE. It is explaining nothing, and, it is making non-entity of the very entities it claims to explain. Making non-entity of X does not explain X particularly when X is everything.

    If a person holds a belief in such irrational improbables as these, why is it unfair to require proof? By definition, every single one of these necessary ends of regress are improbable – even irrational given the Pan-Psychosis which Mind must subsume should all of reality be but a Con upon it. How does the psychotic know he is psychotic? Impossible is more fitting than improbable here. The necessary indifference which Atheism necessitates is IMO yet another improbable given humanity’s Pan-Mind brutal moral experiences, akin to our brutally repeatable experience of intentionality. Probabilities shift burden of proof. If you assert a belief, how is that not an individual claim? Particularly when all of these descriptives of Naturalism are heading – by force of reason desperately trying to reason its way out of Intentionality – into pure hologram, which is only a little worse than the absurdity of mereological nihilism’s illusions? If these steps were not being taken solely to avoid the anthology of problems housed within the arenas of Cause/Effect and Contingency (which all of known, measurable reality consists of) so that the Naturalist can avoid the only alternative which reason permits, which is intentionality, perhaps the intellectual sacrifice we are being asked to pay would not sting so much.

    (p.s. I am not educated in the art of debate, so these are actual honest questions.)

    Isn’t it always fair and reasonable to expect that any claim that defies natural law, made by any person (firsthand or otherwise), be supported by evidence?

    PERSON A: When a living thing is found, it did not come from dead things. Physical life comes from physical life. Mind atop matter is the only known way to change that.

    PERSON B: My sister’s boyfriend’s grandmother told me that life comes out of dead things, and nobody is around when it happens.

    Is not the burden of proof obvious and irrefutable here? I’m just restating the “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence” argument, but don’t you agree that it is applicable when alleging contravention of universal facts?

    Comment #109 is a far more probable TOE. With explanatory power comes plausibility. The explanatory power of any TOE is found, in part, in its ability to avoid any and all circular reasoning. That is to say, while traveling along its ontological necessities one ought never find the need to cut that chain mid-stride and leap off into blind axiom but instead we ought to find our chosen ship sailing across the ocean of ad infinitum of one’s ontology from [A to Z] with each link in the chain supporting the next.

  120. Jenna,

    Mind pushes matter.

    If you can stomach the word count, see my last comment. Person A. Person B.

    A three week bench-top chemistry run to defy nature’s pull and thus fashion some strand of non-living RNA which deteriorates the minute Mind leaves it to nature’s pull.

    Or,

    A three hour all-hands-on-deck heroic code run on a patient in the trauma bay and a pulseless man walks.

    500 years ago: “No way! No way!

    Three hours. Three days. Three weeks. Whatever.

    Mind fashions life. Finite, fragmented minds at that.

    It’s the only known way that life comes from death.

    It’s verifiable.

    We’re getting better at it, though we’re only children.

    There is a Father.

  121. Hi Billy Squibs
    #95

    “How can it be equally irrational for

    a) an atheist to be angry at God

    and

    b) a theist to be angry at God?”

    Yes, ‘equally’ was a poor choice. I meant ‘likewise’. I didn’t mean they were both irrational to the same degree, just that both choices are irrational.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  122. “Thank you for your insights, Jenna. You’ve been a strong encourager here at many points along the way.”

    This.
    Thank you Jenna.

    And thanks to everyone else here as well. And to Tom for moderating the interactions. There are many rude people out there and the internet has vastly increased the chances of running into them. It’s good to be part of a “safe” community where open and honest communication is encouraged.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  123. Hi Tom,

    “I think it would be instructive to do a genuine content analysis comparing the threads Bob took part in here and the one Jenna took part in on his blog.”

    “It would also be instructive to do the same thing on a larger scale, comparing the atheist internet with the theist internet.”

    Instructive how? How would it help things in the future?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  124. Shane,

    “Equal” / “Unequal”?

    You really have to be more careful how you use language. “Automobile” does not have the same definition as “Mailbox”. The problem of definitional equivocation runs deep in your argumentations.

    On any human being’s anger towards a father figure of any kind:

    Indifference is non-entity within humanity’s array of emotional wrestling matches with life’s collections of pains and joys, that is, if we grant theism. The emotional pains and joys which all of us, theist or atheist, share in our motions [Towards / Away-From] God just do not take place within indifference. The Child who is angry at his Father is doing what a Child does, and that move on the Child’s part may be quite rational after all. Or it may not be. The mere presence of anger within a Child directed towards her Father does not ipso facto grant irrationality, because, if theism, multiple factors are in play within accurate perception, hence Christ’s/Love’s “forgive for they know not”, and hence Christ’s/Love’s “if you could not see, you would have no sin”, and so on, for error is actually possible in such felt / moral wrestling matches on the grounds that Truth exists in those arenas and we can in fact know it. Whereas, if Naturalism/Atheism, there is no such thing as accurate perception, period, for the perceiver and the perceived and the perceiving are all at bottom unavoidable, determined illusions/cons.

    If God, irrational and rational are actually possible when it comes to pain and joy. If Atheism, you are trying to make something out of non-entity.

    In my last comment to you, by qualifying your use of “choices” in the rational/irrational, I mean to add to the forces in summation, which you’ve already conceded grasp the deterministic nature you ascribe to mankind. “Equally” is the word you should have stayed with in your reply to Billy Squibs.

    Let us be quite clear about what it is the Materialists are adding here when they bring in pain and joy: Those cascading fluxes of what we mean when we say “emotional pain” and “emotional joy”, and so on, as points of Stimuli impinging the Lake that is the brain. That’s it. As we briefly discussed elsewhere, at the point of stimuli, the brain is impinged upon by these new stimuli, call them Emote-1 and Emote-2. When these “hit” that huge lake of reverberating quarks inside our skulls, a ripple effect takes place. Now, this ripple effect is the beginning and end of your whole philosophy. At this point, all such motions, while giving the illusion of intention, are but a multiplicity of cascading forces (the causes) manifesting in summation (the effects). Nothing else takes place. Nothing. There is no part of Nature that is free of those chains inside our skulls. This is not new. It’s just materialism and determinism. Verbs like “deduce” or “decide” or “induce” or “reason” and so on are found to be incoherent for they would imply (those illusions once again) that one’s Self is intentionally pushing one’s mental contents this way and that way, but of course there is no such end of regress. No. That is not the end of regress. The end of that chain is tied to ever widening circles of quantum forces ever in irrational ricochet inside those ripples inside of that lake within our skulls.

    When it comes to discussing emotional pains, moral outrages, and the whole realm of emoting all together, we find no new fabric with which to work inside of Naturalism.

    Let us be clear on that, lest we forget exactly what it is the materialist is committed to.

    This brings us to your attempt to smuggle in “unequal”.

    Emoting itself is the equivalent of reasoning to the bitter end of mechanistic appeals within materialism. The word equal is exactly the best word to use in describing the irrationality or rationality of any emotion of any person, be they Atheist or Theist (if naturalism).

    Thus, given all that you’ve argued for thus far, it is exactly equal when any child or adult expresses anger at a presumed father figure of any kind, for any “reason”.

    You haven’t given us any reason to believe that Naturalism has anything further to say on emoting. Words have meanings, and the tendency to ever equivocate, inch by inch, from the concrete into the shadows of mereological nihilism’s illusions makes your case weaker, not stronger.

    E Pluribus Unum just is the end of ad infinitum, for God is Love, and Love just is One/Three at bottom, as Love’s singular Descriptive-Prescriptive divulged earlier. I’ll point you in that direction for the truth of the matter.

  125. Shane@ #133

    Even though it’s on a slight tangent you might find this post interesting. Perhaps it goes to explain the “I don’t believe in God and I hate him” phenomena evident in a few individuals.

  126. Scblhrm makes me feel either really smart or really stupid. Either way, reading that was not a remotely productive way to spend time.

  127. JDH,

    And yet it houses far more coherence than the reverse found in your assertion’s necessary conclusions.

    Do you really believe life comes from dead things even if Mind isn’t around to force dead things to do otherwise?

    On what grounds?

    We can see our own finite Mind synthesize……….and we’re merely children playing in our Father’s house.

    As for the other points, I’d be happy to talk with you about them, once we clear up this business about dead stuff coming to life without Mind pushing it.

  128. scblhrm, I think you might have the prize for prolific writing here, at least over the past few days. Believe it or not, in just three days, from Saturday through yesterday, you contributed about 8,000 words!

    There’s no problem with that, necessarily, except it’s a lot for readers to digest, and it’s not all that conducive to back-and-forth dialogue. I suggest you keep your eyes open for whether people are understanding and truly engaging with your long comments.

  129. Tom,

    I agree. I took JDH’s three separate comments and turned them around 180 degrees and put it all into my one long post. His wording/writing was so enjoyable to read I wanted to keep it and just trade out premises 😉

    JDH,

    After the 180 degree turn-abound substituting Theism’s “twist” for your “twist” on things I find much more coherence to your well worded (thus my desire to bounce off of) but a bit incoherent assertions.

  130. I suggest you keep your eyes open for whether people are understanding and truly engaging with your long comments.

    I would also suggest this. It’s not the first time that this advice has been offered. Different blog though.

  131. I must admit that I have a general rule that if a comment looks too long then I skip it. (And a wall of text looks far more disheartening on a tiny phone screen.)

    The post in question might be chock full of wonderful thoughts but more often then not I’ve come away from such comments thinking that I want my five minutes back. I would imagine that this is not an uncommon reaction.

    Each to their own I suppose.

  132. Anyway, back on topic.

    @BillT #122 – You will just have to accept it as a “stipulation;” details would only derail.

    @BillT #124 – The problem is that my inability to accept a preponderance of heresay evidence as convincing beyond a reasonable doubt is apparently sufficient to be branded irrational and unreasonable.

    @SteveK #125 – Allow me to explain what I mean by “the stakes are higher” by using an analogy. Let’s say you’re standing on a street corner and a stranger walks up and says “Hey, a bunch of people told me that if you go behind that building, a man will give you $500!” In this scenario, you might get $500 for peeking around the corner. Low risk with a potential reward for the price of a few minutes time. The stakes are low.

    Now let’s take the same scenario, but this time the stranger tells you that you can have a free home in Connecticut on 2 acres if you claim it within the next 3 days. He assures you that hundreds of people have told him this is true. You consider for a moment that it is a virtual impossibility that this is the case. You realize that in order to find out for sure, you would have to quit your job, abandon your apartment, pull your kids out of school, and throw everything you own into a U-Haul in the next 24 hours. Clearly the stakes are high.

    With the New Testament, the stakes are high, and it’s completely rational to demand a higher standard of evidence that is vastly more convincing than we accept for Plato.

    In my own personal situation, compliance with the New Testament would require me to divorce immediately and live the rest of my years marching towards a solitary death. I would have to donate thousands of dollars per year to a church that could use it in ways that I morally oppose. I would have to conjure some way to believe in mystical events that defy the physical understanding of the world. For a person with little to lose (or a person who does not know what they’re missing), maybe a preponderance of heresay evidence is good enough. My family, money, and happiness mean enough to me to not bet them on an invisible mansion in an invisible place promised to me by an invisible being (under the threat of eternal damnation, no less) just because Paul says 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus. Call me crazy.

    So the stakes in the New Testament are high. There is no way to be a deistic Christian, despite the best efforts here and elsewhere to exclusively argue theistic existence vs. non-existence. I’m not opposed to the notion of a God, but I am vehemently opposed to the baggage that the Christian God carries. And no matter how hard a Christian tries to argue an atheist on the existence of God, the Christian cannot and will never avoid the fact that they are arguing for the existence of a particular God, with a particular character, with a particular past, and with particular rules. I assume that this is why we see so much of what Tom described in #115.

    So the point of this post, then, is to honestly ask if it is “irrational,” given the circumstances I described, to not believe in the Christian God. Is it unreasonable to refuse to bet my family and security and happiness on an ancient text given the amount of evidence we have to consider?

    My purpose here is not to convince anyone that God does not exist or to be convinced that he/she/it does. I don’t mind the idea of a god, but I do feel a need to argue that rejection of the Christian God is not remotely “irrational” regardless of whether it is right. My sole motive is to encourage characteristically certain, absolutist Christians to respect the integrity of doubt.

    @scb….. Your comments read like a Nigerian chain email, and I do not understand them at all. Maybe you have a cyborg computer brain, but I do not.

  133. scblhrm – you don’t have to apologize. Just telling you what I think. Something to consider.

  134. JDH

    It doesn’t do much for your credibility to say something as inflammatory as “…I find that my life is impacted negatively by Christianity in profound, tangible ways.” and then refuse to explain yourself. But it is your credibility.

    As far as your being branded “… irrational and unreasonable.” “sticks and stones.” If you’re satisfied with your conclusion, why do you care what your branded. Have you been on any atheist websites recently? Seen the way Christians are described. Doesn’t cost me any sleep.

    And just BTW, the things you describe after these words “…compliance with the New Testament would require me to…” are as utterly ridiculous as really anything I have recently read. You have some serious misconceptions there JDH.

  135. @ BillT

    I think I explained my motivation clearly, and it did not involve hurt feelings over mean names. If you look at the top of the page you will see a book about how Christians are rational and atheists are irrational. What does my post have to do with hurt feelings when apparently Tom has written an entire book about it?

    And as a man married to a man, I can assure you that my “utterly ridiculous” “misconceptions” are not remotely hyperbolic. Forgive me for not wanting to out myself on a Christian forum; it’s like tossing a steak to a pack of piranhas.

  136. JDH,

    People have opinions. Everyone is entitled to them. For everyone who holds an opinion there is someone else that holds one in opposition. It’s part of life. Tom’s book was written because the atheists were calling themselves rational but in others opinions failing to actually be so. That’s a fair topic for discussion, isn’t it? You seem to be taking all this quite personally. Why? Do you find it applies.

    And as far as your long litany of terrible things you would have to do if you became a Christian, seems like some crocodile tears to me. Becoming a Christian is a voluntary act. No one can or is forcing you to believe it or do any of that. Again, you’ve made choices you’re happy with, correct? What? Are you mad at Christianity because it didn’t change it’s beliefs to accommodate yours.

  137. JDH,

    Respectfully, I ask whether or not it is Christianity that you find hurtful or the words and actions of some Christians? IMO, it is very important to separate the two. Christianity is a religion that is not expressed or reflected in the actions and morals of many of its followers. I find it very distressing when Christianity as a religion is judged based on the behavior of its followers.

    JB

  138. Yes, my honest attempt at an enjoyable discussion about a book is just a cover for my hurt feelings and being super mad at the world’s largest religion for not bending to my personal whims.

    Busted.

  139. JDH,

    If you look at the top of the page you will see a book about how Christians are rational and atheists are irrational.

    The book is about New Atheists irrationalism. You don’t strike me as a New Atheist. I think the atheistic materialism espoused by this group is demonstrably incoherent but the biggest problems are the fallacies littering their “arguments”.

    I think classical theism is rationally unavoidable but doubt over the truth of Christianity is reasonable. As a complete package I think Christianiry is true but whether you agree or not will depend a lot on how you understand Christianity.

  140. JDH,

    So sorry. I must have missed something. Just where is your “honest attempt at an enjoyable discussion about a book.” I don’t remember many specific points about the book you raised nor questions you asked about it’s content. Please point me to them and accept my apologies.

  141. @Jenna

    I get that a lot, but I feel it is a distraction from legitimate concerns about the moral quality of the text itself. Biblical adherence in my case would involve dissolving my family and being alone, which I feel is morally inferior to a stable, supportive family. I’m wanting to know how it is irrational to stack that against evidence for the Bible’s miracle proofs and not have healthy doubt.

    I’m very capable of separating the religions from their followers. Christians being mean has nothing to do with anything I’ve said. I’m confused about how I could have given you that impression when I consciously avoided doing so.

  142. JDH,

    My family, money, and happiness mean enough to me to not bet them on an invisible mansion in an invisible place promised to me by an invisible being.

    It’s your decision and it’s a reflection of your heart. You’ve made it clear what you love and value.

    I don’t know what’s so troubling about unseen things. My life is propelled by many unseen things. I do things now in anticipation of many future events that I envision will come to exist. Those may not come to pass, but I press on believing that they will because I have experienced things that fuel that belief. I’ve experienced Goodness, so I pursue it every chance I can get.

    Call me crazy.

    I think the term Paul uses is rebellious or fallen.

  143. I’m wanting to know how it is irrational to stack that against evidence for the Bible’s miracle proofs and not have healthy doubt.

    Seems you are assuming a lot about a book that as far as I can tell you haven’t read. (Would I be right?) There is nothing in the book that would call your position or you irrational. You’ve made a choice. If you’re happy, we’re happy (as far as that goes). What’s strange though is that you are the one who seems unhappy. Is that a wrong impression?

  144. @Melissa

    I consider myself a New Atheist for several reasons, though the criteria are amorphous. First, I feel that the world at large would benefit more than it would suffer if Abrahamic religions lost power and shrunk in size. Second, I feel that living my life according to the Bible would be a morally inferior way to live. Third, I’m not content to be institutionally disadvantaged by the religious idiosyncrasies of people I do not know and love.

    I do my best not to be a jerk about it and to be as respectful of others as I can (which usually isn’t that difficult). I also try to be mindful to not universalize my personal experiences or confuse my emotions with reality. Those things go against negative stereotypes about New Atheists, but I would hardly say that they’re definitive traits.

  145. JDH,

    I am the mother of a man married to a man. My son is not a practicing Christian but is a Buddhist, in fact, an ordained Buddhist priest (Zen Master). He was raised a Christian and does not now reject Christianity or even not consider himself to be a Christian. He and I frequently attend services together, most especially on Christmas Eve. He is a deeply spiritual and disciplined religious man. My son has told me that his Christian upbringing in our home was what “gave him permission” to explore spirituality and other world religions and to pursue his path.

    We talk frequently about the problems that many gay men have with Christianity and they trouble us both. Through my son, I have met and gotten to know many Christian members of the LTBG community. In fact, the church where he and I attend Christmas Eve services has a large and thriving LTBG congregation.

    I also have close relationships in my life with a wonderful Jewish family, who have taught me so very much about the Judeo side of my Judeo-Christian faith. I tell you this because I believe that I live a very “ecumenical” life and find this to be perfectly in tune with my Christian faith. I find Christianity, based on Jesus Christ’s teachings, to be a loving, embracing religion.

    As a result of your comments here, I intend to open conversations with my son’s gay friends who I am also friends with to learn more about their Christian faith. Thank you for that.

  146. Jenna, here is a book you perhaps might be interested in. Admittedly I’ve not read it yet (been meaning to for quite some time) but I remember reading a fairly detailed review of it and being struck by the honesty of the author, a gay man try to square his sexual desires with his Christian faith.

  147. Hi Billy Squibs
    #138

    “Even though it’s on a slight tangent you might find this post interesting. Perhaps it goes to explain the “I don’t believe in God and I hate him” phenomena evident in a few individuals.”

    Thanks for the link. An interesting read. What would have been a nice addition to their testing are questions that both groups would agree are impossible (e.g. I want my parents to be eaten by a dragon) to see if that offered any physical reaction.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  148. Billy, RE: Anger at God discussion

    Thanks for the link in #138. I think research studies like this one and Julie Exline’s decade of research on anger at God point to a reality that I have thought quite a lot about. It is impossible not to have a relationship with God since God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. We Christians have a relationship characterized by love and seeking of closeness with God. Atheists have a relationship with God characterized by non-belief, non-acceptance of the reality of God, and apparently, often of anger at God. Non-belief in God does not make God cease to exist, any more than belief in God is what causes God to exist.

    As far as I understand anger, it is an emotional reaction to hurt, disappointment, injustice and most of all, unfulfilled expectations that we have of someone else involving “oughts” and “shoulds” in regard to their conduct toward us. Anger only occurs when there is a relationship, where there are expectations of mutuality, trust, etc. Anger is to emotional, spiritual hurts what pain is to physical biological hurts. So anger at God may stem from our violated expectations of how God should conduct Himself in relationship to us. As Professor Exline suggests in her research, atheism may be the outcome or result of anger at God.

    In light of the statistic quoted in this article about the number of atheists who self-identify as former believers in God and some of the hypotheses the researchers pose, I am curious about how much of atheism is anti-theism and anti-religion. In other words, how much of atheism is the product of a “bad” relationship with God (which is not, from the Christian point of view, God’s fault) and how much it is the product of anger at believers in God.

  149. Hi Jenna,

    “Anger only occurs when there is a relationship, where there are expectations of mutuality, trust, etc. ”

    There is also anger where no relationship exists; anger at being sick, anger at a badly designed or faulty product (I can specifically recall the anger I felt at being unable to loosen the wheel nuts when trying to change a tyre). As these things are not consciously working against us, the anger is irrational and I think moving the anger towards a person is a way of rationalising it. “Why did the last person to change the tyre put them on so tight?!”

    Respectfully
    Shane

  150. Jenna Black,

    You noted, “I tell you this because I believe that I live a very “ecumenical” life and find this to be perfectly in tune with my Christian faith. I find Christianity, based on Jesus Christ’s teachings, to be a loving, embracing religion….In fact, the church where he and I attend Christmas Eve services has a large and thriving LTBG congregation.”

    Refreshing.

    Anything short of this seems to fall short of just Who and What God is, that is to say, What He does / is, what He does into/unto the world. We too often have a view of Him, of Immutable Love, which is far too small. As if He is not the end of worlds upon worlds but instead can inexplicably be limited by Time or Circumstance or Sin. I offer that if we should choose to render to others according to the Law, rather than Grace, we error. The list of interior motions which are supposedly going to “kick us out” of His Embrace are, well, my life has a wide array of them. Yet I find Him ever with me. A simple example being lying, which I find I do on various levels daily with a move here or a word there put in play to ever-so-subtly manipulate some given situation rather than to just be/speak truthfully. Liars will not inherit Love’s final Felicity? Then I’m out. That’s but one simple example, but we like to cherry pick and invent our one-verse theologies. How catastrophic for someone like your son who I am sure has felt the full weight of the Law, rather than Grace, from Christians. Thankfully he has you for his mother! There is a book along these lines by a homosexual who learned that this or that bit of our nature is not what “steers” God to/away from us, which helps take our eyes off of some feature of ourselves and focus instead on His inpouring. It is called “That Kind Can Never Change!” Can They?” (by Victor J. Adamson) and is about his journey with faith in the midst of all of it. I’ll push the envelope here to make my point: should I live till 100, will that bit in me which lies, or is too timid, or is too loveless (which Christ defines as murder), and so on, will any of it be gone? The answer is that short of Love’s final work on the other side of this life I will not “achieve / rise to” that condition. How can we short of His finished work? I offer that it is impossible short of that final felicity in that next step/life. And thus my fellow Christians will have to put up with the likes of me in their midst till then. But then, the “likes of me” just is His Body, His Beloved. It seems extreme but it shouldn’t that in Christ, in Love’s Ontology, we find the embrace of all men everywhere, as churches are but hospitals for all of us in whatever arena another person may choose to deride us with. William Lane Craig reminds us, “If you find yourself feeling glad when some affliction befalls a homosexual person or you find feelings of hatred welling up in your heart toward homosexual people, then you need to reflect long and hard on the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew: “…..it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you….” (Mt. 10.15; 11.24).” You noted: “It is impossible not to have a relationship with God since God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. We Christians have a relationship characterized by love and seeking of closeness with God. Atheists have a relationship with God characterized by non-belief, non-acceptance of the reality of God, and apparently, often of anger at God.” How true! I find but one ontology wherein we can in truth, without autohypnosis, posit that Love is in fact the highest Ethic in all possible worlds. Love, at bottom, just is One/Three, as all that is Self, as all that is Other, and as all that is I-You, which is the Us, just is what Love is, what God is. E Pluribus Unum just is the [Self-Other-Us], just is fully singular, just is fully triune. If Ultimate Actuality is Love, if God is Love, then I find I cannot avoid that peculiarly necessary topography at the end of ad infinitum. That is not the only reason I am a Christian, though, that I know love is in fact the highest ethic in all possible worlds is one of the reasons I am a Christian.

  151. So scblhrm. I can see from the above 50+ line paragraph that you’ve taken some of the recent suggestions about your posts to heart.

  152. Bill,

    Several gay friends who read these….. They’re worth the three minutes to me. Some thoughts can come across wrong if loops are not closed properly.

    My apologies to you, though.

  153. scblhrm’s comment was 773 words. My comments have hardly ever exceeded 500 words. IMO being pithy and concise promotes dialogue. Furthermore, unless you’re Jay Leno or you are exceedingly funny, entertaining and interesting, it’s best to avoid the long monologues. It’s a always a good idea to save some of what you have to say for a later discussion– if anyone else is interested 😉 .

  154. Shane, RE: #163

    It seems to me that what you describe with your tire-changing example is frustration rather than anger. The tire-changer feels frustration at his/her inability to perform a task that s/he expects him or herself to be able to perform. When this is not the case, s/he shifts the blame to a person with whom s/he has a relationship the last person to mount the tire), however remote in time and place that might be. This is called projection. The person projects his/her frustration onto another person.

    I don’t think that your example disconfirms or argues against my observations about anger at God and my argument that anger only occurs in a relationship where there are expectations, those oughts and shoulds I talked about. In reading True Reason on p. 63 where Tom Gilson points out: “Ought implies can…” This was the pearl of wisdom of my day.

  155. Hi Jenna,

    Frustration at being unable to change the tyre is probably the cause of the anger, but I don’t think it explains it away. With regard to your explanation, I would suggest that the anger could be directed towards myself and my inability to accomplish a task. I certainly have a relationship with myself, and probably have expectations, even in something as trivial as changing of a tyre.

    But what about someone suffering from cancer? Are you saying that they can’t feel anger towards their situation without personalising? Maybe they are feeling anger at themselves as well; and feel betrayed by their own bodies?

    Cheers
    Shane

  156. Shane,

    Despite atheists themselves describing actual anger at God, you seem to be saying that atheist are never angry at God. That’s irrational on your end, unless you mean to attach “intentional lying” to all such stories.

    Or perhaps you are just saying that yes they do, but it’s irrational for them to do so.

    Rational / Irrational is one thing, but that’s not what is in question. That atheists do this is in question. When Atheist’s themselves describe the event has having taken place within their own experienced reality, it seems odd that you should continue to argue that the event is non-entity within the human experience.

    [No God] = [No Anger At God] is your point. But then, that is exactly the Theists point in pointing out the fact that Atheists themselves describe this event taking place inside of their experience.

    Your formula would hold if we were Vulcans, void of love. But we are not. Inside of our pain / losses a certain “ought not have been” rings true to us inside much of it. Such is the Shadow of a Larger Reality, and though the Atheist does not call it that there is still the epistemological description of the discovered ontology that, as Jenna described, ought implies can, and therein a certain flavor of should have been otherwise is being articulated.

  157. An example:

    When my beloved suffers excruciating pain for years, only to die, the following statement is a statement of certain truth, the epistemology of which both atheists and theists employ, each knowing/getting the truth of such, the necessary ontological implications being unavoidable: should have been otherwise

  158. To close the loop:

    In Christianity, of course, the ontological end of regress is that it will be otherwise.

    Such is rational, for, there is more to reality than our immediate perception. Atheists agree with that too. Not only in the Intellectual, but, apparently, in the Existential as well. Perhaps it really is impossible to not have a relationship with Ultimate Actuality.

  159. Hi scblhrm,

    I have to start with this. 🙂

    “Your formula would hold if we were Vulcans, void of love.”

    Vulcans are not void of love or the other emotions, but merely keep them under control so that their thinking is not affected by them.

    An atheist does not believe in God, by definition.
    To be angry at something you do not believe in is not rational.
    If an atheist says they are angry at God, they are either irrational or lying (either about being angry at God or their non belief in God).

    Are there any other alternatives?

    And I have lost several good friends and family members and have never once thought “should have been otherwise”. Actually this is especially true when I was a Christian. I had total faith in God and his actions and the idea that anything happened that wasn’t supposed to happen according to his plan was just nonsense. People died when they were supposed to and that was that. My prayers in time of family illness were, “God’s will be done.” and not motivated by any selfish wish of mine or the thought that God didn’t know exactly how I felt about the person who was ill. That also was nonsense.

    And death was never an end, so the thought that I should want to keep anyone here on earth instead of letting them progress towards being closer to God was absurd.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  160. Shane,

    I think your view would be in agreement with the Naturalist’s necessary conclusion that there is no such thing as Evil, as that which God Wills-Not.

    In other words, should He say, Shall-Not, and, I do anyway, I cannot ipso facto contradict Him and, to His face, shout, “It was your will! for such makes of Him a liar, and so on.

    There is no getting past that.

    We have that capacity to contradict His Will.

    Deterministic ends find incoherence withih Theism.

    Automatons and all that…….

    And, again, Atheists are describing these experiences to us. We are not ascribing them to the atheists.

    The point being that many who say they are atheists are not athests. They don’t believe their own stated belief. Atheist’s autohypnosis runs deep, and, on top of that, the option of Automaton is non-entity in Christianity. Thus, you were mistaken to so think of reality when you were a Christian.

  161. I’m a bit surprised that the idea that atheists can be and are angry at God is controversial at all. It’s a pretty basic Christian understanding that one either loves God or hates Him. If God exists then he gave us everything we have and everything we are. Thus, we owe him our love, devotion and obedience. People don’t want the world to be like that. They say so in that many words. They want to be their own God. So do I (even though I know I’m not). So God, or at the very least the concept of Him, makes people angry. And, of course, it’s also our understanding that everyone knows, deep down somewhere, that God really does exist. And that makes them even madder.

  162. What’s with the monsoon of unsubstantiated stereotypes?

    1) Atheists secretly believe in a god
    2) Atheists are angry
    3) Atheists are angry AT god and admit as much
    4) Atheists do not believe in evil

    The discussions above are really mind-boggling in their wrong-headedness, going back and forth trying to figure out why atheists are “angry with god” without considering the obvious. What about Christian anger at Islam. Using the “logic” above, any Christian angry about 9/11 is admitting their belief in Allah and really isn’t a Christian at all. Shockingly, humans are capable of feeling general, diffused emotions with no precise target whatsoever.

    I feel all sorts of emotions about all sorts of religions. I feel genuine anger at Islam, confusion and dismay about Mormonism, admiration for Buddhism, simultaneous awe and disgust at Hinduism, and utter bewilderment about Scientology. And total ignorance and intrigue about most other religions. I do not believe they are true, and no emotion I feel towards any of them is some sort of tacit admission that I subconsciously believe in any of those gods. What a ridiculous notion.

    Atheism, in its correct form, is based on information rather than unshakable ideology. It makes perfect sense for many an atheist to doubt their own beliefs when doubt is completely characteristic of atheism in the first place. A formerly-religious person does not become an atheist because they failed to doubt and question.

  163. JDH,

    You’re missing the obvious. Anger at an ism is not anger at a person.

    Atheists themselves describe their own anger at God, and on varying levels.

    So, we’re sitting around talking about what atheist’s are telling us is going on inside them.

  164. @Bill

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with gamer culture, but “U MAD BRO?!” is a troll post, not an argument. Seriously, re-read what you just posted; it’s completely circular.

    Atheists are mad at God, therefore they know God exists. God exists, therefore atheists are mad at him.

    You may as well have typed: “If what I believe about God is true, then everything I believe about everyone else’s belief in God must also be true.” Reduce that even further, and you’re left with “My assumptions about X validate my assumptions about Y.”

  165. scb, where are these atheists you speak of? All I’m seeing is Christians beating a dead straw man.

    Another point you have failed to consider, assuming that any atheist actually expresses him/herself as follows: “I’m angry at god, but I do not believe he exists.” Communication is social and ideas involve shared cultural understanding. Instead of wildly assuming that no atheists exist, wouldn’t it be more accurate (or at least more charitable) to assume that not every atheist is a flawless communicator or that he/she is communicating an idea in a manner that will make sense in a religiously saturated culture?

    Another likely possibility, also completely unconsidered in the straw man gang-bang, is that the atheist is imperfectly communicating anger towards a figure that is an iconic representation of religious culture. By extension, God is a representation of all sorts of loathsome things: misogyny, homophobia, racism, tax fraud, hypocrisy, special rights, child abuse, anti-science, and all sorts of other things. If the church is the sum of its parts, and the church is the bride of Christ, and Christ is God, then saying “I’m angry with God” is a perfectly valid (if not precise) way of expressing anger at all the terrible things sanctioned and encouraged by religion.

  166. If one cliams one believes in evil, and upon witnessing evil, one finds oneself saying, “Yes, that ought to be that way!” rather than, “No, that ought not be that way!” then the felt experience of “should have been otherwise” is non-entity and one does not believe in evil in any comprehensible way. Equivocation here can only be masked so far…..

  167. scb, give me a post number, because the link I followed was a study about physical reactions to saying culturally taboo things involving statements about God.

  168. BillT –

    I’m a bit surprised that the idea that atheists can be and are angry at God is controversial at all. It’s a pretty basic Christian understanding

    Sure, it’s a pretty settled aspect of Christian doctrine. I wouldn’t expect it to be controversial among Christians, either.

    Note, however, that not everyone’s Christian.

    It’s not my experience that I either ‘hate God’ or ‘secretly believe in God’. And, of course, I’m inclined to trust my own judgments of myself more than what the doctrines of others claim. So – even if you think it’s true that atheists ‘really believe deep down’ – it’s unlikely to be useful for persuasion. Indeed, it’s rather likely to damage your credibility.

    There’s a mirror-image of this, BTW. Many atheists think that many of the religious don’t actually believe what they profess, but rather want to fit in socially, or are just trying really hard to convince themselves. I don’t know of an atheist who thinks all religious people are secret disbelievers, but it’s known that they do exist.

  169. The felf experience of should have been otherwise is a universal human experience.

    Atheists experience it.

    And that feeling cuts deep inside of loss, inside of pain. It’s not Spock sitting there saying, “Well, come now, you know this is all just cascading photons so nothing could be otherwise”.

    Some want us to believe that is the lived human experience.

    It isn’t.

    And that is problematic for the Atheist, though, not for the Theist. For, in the Theist’s topography, otherwise is the point.

    I find it odd that this is met with such resistance.

    It’s not meant to persuade, only to show the ties to that universal human experience we all share of should have been otherwise as the employment of such epistemology is either coherent with one’s ontology or it is not. Autohypnosis is required for the Athiest to live that felt reality, use that epistemology, and then insist it’s all cascading photons and say (when everyone is looking), “I really don’t believe the Intellectual or the Existential on any level, ever, as both are pure illusion at bottom”.

    JDH: I put a link to CNN on atheist’s anger at God. It may be in the initial thread…..I’ll find it and let you know where etc.

  170. JDH,

    Atheists are mad at God, therefore they know God exists. God exists, therefore atheists are mad at him.

    This is not an accurate representation if what I said. I’d be glad to respond if you would represent my post fairly and accurately.

  171. That CNN article says exactly nothing about non-believers outside the headline. No actual data is presented. No terms are defined. Accepting the truth of that link says far more about you than it ever could about atheists.

    So confirmation bias and motivated reasoning took over, and the straw man took some hits.

  172. Ray,

    I didn’t claim everyone was a Christian nor did I expect people, especially atheists, to agree with me nor did I post that as a means of persuasion or am I too concerned, in this case, about it effecting my credibility. Otherwise though, spot on.

    And I’m sure there are people who don’t believe what they profess and do so to fit in socially. Quite a large number of them would be my guess.

  173. Atheists reporting anger at God is interesting, and is not meant to persuade. It merely ties together the link between employed autohypnosis, lived reality, believed ontology when folks are not looking, and stated ontology when folks are looking. It is reasonable that we find anger at God, even among Atheists and Agnostics (as the CNN link briefly touches on) because, that just is coherent with their, with all of our, brutally repeatable experience of should have been otherwise. That experience leaks out. Spock and Cascading Photons don’t hold up to lived reality, because, as Jenna noted, it is impossible to not have a relationship with Ultimate Actuality. The Intellectual and the Existential are coherent in that vector, or, we must concede as others try to in unconvincing ways: “Both the Intellectual and the Existential are illusion”.

  174. scb, you’re making a very common mistake made in motivated religious reasoning, namely, you are taking evidence for A and assuming that it is evidence for B because you believe B to be true.

    You said, “It is reasonable that we find anger at God, even among Atheists and Agnostics (as the CNN link briefly touches on) because…it is impossible to not have a relationship with Ultimate Actuality.”

    Except that your use of “reason” is predicated on volumes of unverified assumptions. That God exists, that he is ultimate, that he is everywhere, that he is good, that he has relationships, etc. are all things you accept to be true because you believe the Bible is true. Whatever evidence there is for the Bible being historically accurate, there is no evidence whatsoever for these matters of faith that you are universalizing as absolute truths.

    So there’s allegedly evidence that atheists express being “angry at God” at a similar rate to the rest of the population. That evidence (A) is evidence of anger (A). You take that as evidence that everyone has a universal awareness of God (B) because you believe that (B) to be true. No doubt you take mountains, ducks, sunsets, waterfalls, and beavers (A) to be evidence of God (B) as well instead of simply being evidence that ducks, sunsets, waterfalls, and beavers exist (A).

    Some people see a light in the sky and think it’s evidence of aliens. You see a misleading and unsubstantiated CNN headline and think it’s evidence for God. Nevermind that it obliterates the usefulness of the word “evidence” when the relation between A and B is so tenuous, except within your own assumed facts.

    In short, you read a headline about a study and an article that had nothing to do with atheism and then projected upon it your belief that God exists EXACTLY AS YOU IMAGINE HIM TO BE. That is not reason, it is imagination.

    As an aside, the idea that it’s “impossible not to have a relationship with” God is nothing short of spiritual rape. What else do you call a forced “relationship” with a person who tells you “no?” Stalking, maybe? At the very least we could call it coercion if not outright abuse.

  175. JDH,

    That we can / do discover truth is not rape. It is a gift. The autohypnosis needed here is obvious. The ties here are only to show the pan-human reality of our brutally repeatable experience of should have been otherwise. Atheists have that, and they express it onto God. Call it projection if you want to, the point of incoherence is still rock solid. That experience leaks out. From all of us. The Stoic overplayed is not believed by anyone. Spock and Cascading Photons don’t hold up to lived reality, because, as Jenna noted, it is impossible to not have a relationship with Ultimate Actuality, with Truth. The Intellectual and the Existential are coherent in Theism’s vector, Pan-World, or, we must concede as others try to do in unconvincing ways: “Both the Intellectual and the Existential are illusion”.

  176. JDH,

    Some clarification is needed here. I am the one who initiated the discussion of anger toward God. Please see my comment #17 where I expressed my surprise and puzzlement at a quotation from the book, True Reason, that we are discussing here.

    Jenna: “I am appreciating greatly the analysis of atheists’ debate strategies in True Reason. One quote that has given me great insights already is on p. 33 where you report on the study by psychologist Julie Exline of Case Western Reserve University that found among atheist and agnostic college students “…more anger at God during their lifetimes than believers.” You give this analysis:

    “What’s interesting about this study is that these individuals don’t necessarily even believe that God exists, yet they report greater levels of an angry emotional investment in God’s hypothetical character than people who actually believe that God is real.” (p. 33 of True Reason)

    I am observing and experiencing that this anger toward God (the God they don’t believe in) spills over into anger (and hostile behavior) toward believers in God.”

    I then looked up Professor Julie Exline’s research on the internet and was only to locate one article, which I posted the link to, above. Apparently you read it. I referred specifically to Dr. Exline’s own theories as to why atheists express anger toward God. These theories are hers and are not stereotyping by anyone commenting on this thread. The article from CNN that scblhrm provided is a summary and commentary on Dr. Exline’s research.

    I then continued my own analysis of Dr. Exline’s research in comment #162 and responded to Shane’s response to this analysis in comment #169. I hope this will help you recreate the actual discussion.

    It seems to me that you are reacting to the suggestion that atheists are some sort of “secret” or unwitting believers in God. I don’t make this suggestion or claim. I take atheists at their word. They do not believe in God. However, as a believer in God and in God’s “existence”, I believe that it is impossible not to have a relationship with God, regardless of what any person may or may not believe about God. IMO, this is why BillT can rightfully state that anger at God from a Christian point of view is not controversial, a statement with which I agree.

    I think that it is perfectly legitimate and quite possibly productive to examine the sources of atheists’ anger both at God (only if and when they themselves state that they have such anger) and anger at believers in God. Since what you describe is, IMO, a collection of stereotypes about believers, along with a heavy dose of anti-religion sentiment, which is not representative of Christianity as a religion or IMO, the majority of Christians, I think that conversation about this anger would be fruitful, as is Dr. Julie Exline’s research.

  177. JDH,

    You say this: “Furthermore, the idea that it’s “impossible not to have a relationship with” God is nothing short of spiritual rape. What else do you call a forced “relationship” with a person who tells you “no?” Stalking, maybe? At the very least we could call it coercion if not outright abuse.”

    I find the entire notion of “spiritual rape” to be rather peculiar, given that I have never talked to an atheist who cannot describe for me the “God” that s/he doesn’t believe in, which is therefore, if not a relationship with God, at least a relationship with the concept of God, as s/he understands God. Do you as an atheist believe that you have been coerced into having a concept of God? Is not a belief that God does not exist based on a belief about what the term “God” means and what it therefore means for this God to not “exist”? Do you not voluntarily, of your own free will, think about and talk about God? With us, for example, here on this website?

  178. This is the quote from the book:

    “What’s interesting about this study is that these individuals don’t necessarily even believe that God exists, yet they report greater levels of an angry emotional investment in God’s hypothetical character than people who actually believe that God is real.”

    Which is WILDLY different than being “angry at God,” which is the phrase that keeps bouncing around. I think that calling atheists “angry at God” and then mocking them for or expressing disbelief at the notion is a disservice to atheists and to Christians attempting to understand non-belief.

    I’m not sure how interesting it is, but it’s certainly not surprising to find atheists reporting anger at “God’s hypothetical character.” Atheists do not give God a free pass for the Old Testament and overlook the unsavory aspects of the New Testament. I’m sure you’ve read enough of the Bible (and Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens) to know the terrible things the literary God did, and the Four Horsemen unceasingly question the morality of anyone who is not outraged by those terrible things. It’s a main pillar of the entire anti-theist worldview.

    This isn’t some mystery that you all are unearthing here. It’s not something that hasn’t been discussed candidly in books, speeches, and debates since the dawn of New Atheism in reaction to 9/11.

  179. JDH,

    Yes. There it is. That experience we all have, Pan-World, of should have been otherwise is jut too real to be submerged by the autohypnosis, so, it just comes leaking out on some target, any target. Often, one’s false notion of God, that is to say, one’s false notion of Immutable Love.

    The root is the issue here, JDH, not the varying fruit. If you throw out the Existential (Mind’s perception) with the trash, then with it goes the Intellectual (Mind’s perception). Equivocations won’t help dance around the necessary conclusions of that move, if you take it.

    Remember, Theists hold that we can know truth. Epistemology is how we discover such, whereas, the ontological is the what-is-discovered. We have a relationship with varying truths. Like intentionality. And like should have been otherwise. Notice that both of those are coherent with each other and with our brutally repeatable experience. Both are coherent with Theism. Neither is coherent with Materialism/Atheism. The autohypnosis needed here is obvious.

  180. Jenna, you’re (accidentally?) saying two different things when taking two different tones.

    In #192 you say, ” I believe that it is impossible not to have a relationship with God, regardless of what any person may or may not believe about God.”

    In #193 you hedge a bit and say, “…which is therefore, if not a relationship with God, at least a relationship with the concept of God, as s/he understands God.”

    #192 is coercive. #193 is more accurate. Of course we (almost) all have a relationship with the notion of the God of the society we are born into. The American Christian right spends its days demonizing atheists, not Vishnu. Likewise, American atheists spend their days trying to beat back Christian cultural dominance, not Hindus.

    So of course I have strong opinions about the God that threatened me with fire and blood. The God that I grew up with, and the stories fed to me since infancy. The contortionist logic of blood sacrifice the most legalistic form of grace ever concocted. Of course I have an emotional reaction to that; it’s cultural.

    I choose to talk about it because it’s a way of processing my feelings in an anonymous way in a religiously hostile part of the country. Plus, it’s an exercise to sharpen my mind and hopefully expose myself to novel ideas that I can explore further through reading. Like this book, for example.

  181. JDH,

    You mean you don’t experience intentionality? You’ve never experienced the felt reality of ‘should have been otherwise’? Or have you, via autohypnosis, convinced yourself that the Intellectual and the Existential are both (be careful for the mistep of equivocation) illusion? Both are coherent with each other, both are coherent with theism, and, both are incoherent with materialism/atheism. We do project that anger, don’t we, often onto our false notions of Immutable Love? Of course we do, because, it is imposible to not have a relationship with Truth. It’s odd that you base your anger at your false noton of God on Love’s topography. That’s a bit telling. More unavoidable Truth that you are relating with? Another illusion? More autohypnosis?

  182. JDH,

    I still don’t understand you. Why do you claim that my statement “I believe that it is impossible not to have a relationship with God, regardless of what any person may or may not believe about God…” suggests or requires coercion? What I am attempting to point out is that to have or not have a relationship with God characterized by “belief in” God is a free choice, an act of free will.

    Please allow me to use the imagery (anthropomorphism) given to us by Jesus Christ: that of God as Father. All of us have a father. Obviously, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t. Therefore, we are all a son or a daughter of a father. We have a relationship with our father. Now, whether or not we pursue an active engagement and interaction or involvement with our human father is a matter of choice (both his and/or ours in many cases). We Christians believe in God as the Father Almighty, the Creator. Therefore, all of us have a relationship with our Heavenly Father, which we characterize as love, which Jesus, God’s Son, teaches us to reciprocate.

    Surely, you know that for many millions of people around the world throughout history, belief in God is not dependent on knowledge of the Hebrew Bible. I came to believe in God as a child when the only thing I knew about/of the Old Testament was the 23rd Psalm. My belief in God was independent of any knowledge or understanding of the OT.

    Many Christian authors who write about Christian apologetics such as Alister McGrath point out that many of the early Christians were Romans and Greeks who were totally unfamiliar with the Hebrew sacred writings. I encourage you to explore scholarly research into the relationship that most/many Christians have with/to the Old Testament, but meanwhile, let me point out that the OT is first and foremost, the story of the ancient Hebrews’ relationship with God as they understood God. It is God’s message, which we call Word, to humanity that comes to us through the sacred scriptures of the Hebrew people.

  183. JDH,

    Since you brought up the “outrage” at the alleged acts of God in the Hebrew Bible expressed by the “Four Horsemen” of the New Atheists (NA) movement, I wonder if you have pondered the irony in this. The NA claim that there is no such thing as an Absolute Morality, yet they feel perfectly qualified to judge God Himself against theirs.

  184. Scb, I’m really trying here. You are turning common nouns into proper nouns over and over. Classical Christian authors did this to convey the notion of absolutes drawn from their understanding of the nature of God, but they had the benefit of being able to explain how that related to their invention of new proper nouns. Unfortunately on a forum you do not have this benefit and should explain what you mean.

    Also, what the heck is this “should have been otherwise” that you put in every single post? Apparently it’s universal and I am pinned under its thumb while having no idea what it even is.

  185. I’m sure you’ve read enough of the Bible (and Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens) to know the terrible things the literary God did, and the Four Horsemen unceasingly question the morality of anyone who is not outraged by those terrible things. It’s a main pillar of the entire anti-theist worldview.

    Actually, what we’ve done is read enough of the Bible to understand that the “terrible things the literary God did” are a fiction based of the complete inadequacy of the intellectual and interpretive powers of the Four Horsemen in this area. That it’s a “main pillar” of the anti-theist worldview is simply sad.

  186. JDH,

    Let’s make it easy. Intentionality and moral outrage.

    Again, it just leaks out. It can’t not leak out. We can’t not relate with such.

    Each is coherent with each other.

    Each is coherent with Theism.

    Neither is coherent with Materialism.

    We do project that anger, don’t we, often onto our false notions of Immutable Love? Of course we do, because, it is imposible to not have a relationship with Truth. It’s odd that you base your anger at your false noton of God on love’s topography. That’s a bit telling. More unavoidable Truth that you are relating with? Another illusion? More autohypnosis?

  187. Jenna,

    First, thanks for your posts. You’re extremely pleasant to read and “talk” with.

    On 201, there does not need to be an “absolute morality” as defined by a character and nature of God for a morality to exist. Atheism is not, contrary to canards about Communism, a moral philosophy. Rather, atheists leave morality to the study of philosophy.

    In that regard, we can look at an amalgam of common philosophical doctrines and judge God’s actions accordingly instead of just accepting that horrific actions must be “good” simply because they were sanctioned or perpetrated by God.

    God fails a consequentialist analysis because he characteristically overreacts. He chooses repeatedly to kill, maim, and cause suffering DIRECTLY instead of using more humane methods to achieve the same outcome. Since God is allegedly all-powerful, we can assume that if simple humans are capable of realizing that it is onerous to murder a crowd of children for the crime of taunting an individual then God must be capable of knowing this as well. After all, we have thousands of generations of living proof that you do NOT have to kill a child to teach them manners.

    God fails utilitarian analysis as well. He repeatedly punishes, kills, and mutilates vast numbers of people for the benefit of the tiny few.

    That God fails a humanitarian analysis goes without explanation.

    This is where atheists get their morality, along with evolutionary primate features such as altruism or self-sacrifice. A great deal of what we call good and bad is the interplay of animal nature and consciousness, with good and bad originating from both sides.

    The benefit of this is that we do not end up judging behavior that harms no-one as arbitrarily evil. We also should not universalize our own individual moral decisions except to the extent that some immoral decisions necessarily infringe upon the right of others.

  188. JDH,

    Okay then. Illusion and autohypnosis.

    Why do you shy away from those words?

    Because intentionality is non-entity in your view (even though you experience / relate with, it)?

    Because ought is non-entity in your view (even though you experience / relate with, it)?

    More importantly, why do you base your anger (Existential) and your reasoning (Intellectual) on love’s topography?

    Because it (how terrible the necessary indifference of mutable “love” in natural selection) is non-entity in your view?

  189. JDH,

    Let me begin by saying that I am not a biblical literalist, which means that I believe strongly in the Jewish tradition of “Midrash” or intellectual reading and interpretation of the Torah or Hebrew Bible through study and dialogue. I have found Karen Armstrong’s description of midrash in her book, The Case for God (2009) on p. 47-48 to be most instructive and representative of my views on Bible study, where the scriptures must be questioned, explained and interpreted. This tradition of Midrash has produced 37 volumes of the Talmud, the rabbinical interpretations of the Torah.

    Consequently, I disagree that any deep and well-studied interpretation of the Hebrew Bible yields a picture of a God such as the one you characterize in these words: “God fails utilitarian analysis as well. He repeatedly punishes, kills, and mutilates vast numbers of people for the benefit of the tiny few.” Yes, most certainly, the ancient Hebrews believed that God was “on their side” but they also believed, as do modern day Jews and Christians, that God is a God of justice and mercy.

    I can’t help but notice that atheists seem to pick out difficult and dramatic passages from the OT in an attempt to make a case against God, while missing the broader and deeper message that the Hebrews convey and transmit to us through the careful preservation of the Torah and their holy scriptures. As Karen Armstrong points out “… classical Judaism [is] a religion that focuses not merely on the reception and preservation of revelation, but on its constant reinterpretation.”

    When I encounter one of these difficult-to-decipher passages, I approach the task of interpreting it with this question: “What did the ancient Hebrews want the readers of their scriptures to learn about God and their relationship with God (the Covenant) from this passage, given their time, place, history and their cultural and religious traditions and beliefs?”

  190. @ BillT

    Here’s a few examples. How do you explain?

    1) The animals in the flood.

    2) Lot’s wife, who didn’t even violate a directive.

    3) 50,000+ killed for looking in the ark. (1 Sam 6:19)

    4) Uzzah killed with lightning for trying to help. (2 Sam 6:6)

    5) Innocent babies, adults, and animals killed in 10th plague.

    6) God curses and murders an innocent baby for being conceived from adultery. His reasoning is that people will say mean things about his favorite people if the baby lives. (2 Sam 4:12)

    7) God disapproves of a political dispute and murders over 70,000 people before he is placated by blood sacrifice of innocent animals. (1 Chron 21)

    8) God kills 100,000 Syrians because he feels insulted by them (1 Kings 20)

    9) God kills another 27,000 Syrians by crushing them with a fallen wall.

    10) Still not content with his bodycount, God kills another Syrian by lion.

    11) God kills 42 children by bear for making fun of a bald guy’s baldness. (2 Kings 2)

    Bill, I’m eagerly awaiting your justifications.

  191. JDH and BillT,

    I most sincerely hope that you gentlemen will not fall into the why-did-God-do-it trap that JDH has set, at least not without consulting what is said about these OT passages in the 37 volumes of the Talmud beforehand. I say this because to the best of my knowledge, neither of you are learned rabbis or Talmudic scholars or otherwise, authorities on the OT in your own right.

    Also, there are many resources on the internet for analysis of the deeper meaning and context of OT passages. Here is one analysis I found right away on the internet for 2 Kings 2: 23-24.

    http://www.gotquestions.org/Elisha-baldhead.html

  192. Jenna,

    I do not believe that holding God accountable for “difficult” verses is inappropriate. It’s not like they’re few and far between. if you tally the numbered deaths in the Old Testament that were directly caused or indirectly authorized by God, the body count is over 2 MILLION. That’s not even accounting for wiping out the global population and starting over.

    NA’s aren’t cherrypicking the OT to make God look bad. The meat and substance of the OT is highly descriptive of a despotic tyrant god. In fact, the Cathars understood this and made no attempt to reconcile the flagrant evil of the OT god with the definitive goodness of the NT spiritual god. That doctrine might be more prevalent today were it not for the Crusade to wipe them off the map.

    In some slight sense I agree with you about the beauty of the OT as literature. In fact, I adore the Bible as an allegory for the rise and maturation of human consciousness. If you look at it this way, you see a species of barbaric, genocidal moral and intellectual infants flourish into philosophers and budding egalitarians. As a snapshot of human history (or mythology), it’s really quite humbling.

  193. I didn’t intend to set a trap; I was under the impression that wanton murder and genocide are never moral. I’m always shocked when that notion is contested. I wouldn’t trust a rabbi who tried to convince me otherwise. 😛

  194. JDH,

    You say this: “I do not believe that holding God accountable for “difficult” verses is inappropriate.” If this be the case, then certainly you will want to be very clear about what God actually did vs. what the ancient Hebrews said God did or what the ancient Hebrews did before you talk to God about His moral accountability to you.

    Let’s talk about genocide vs. justice. In World War II, the countries that were threatened by Nazi Germany undertook the total destruction of German society, both to prevent their victory in their imperialistic endeavors and to punish their genocide. Do you believe that these countries were unjust in wrecking the level of destruction we did on Germany? If so, let’s hear your argument against the destruction of the Nazi regime being a manifestation of justice.

    You are claiming an Absolute Morality that dictates that “wanton (a very loaded and judgmental term) murder and genocide are never moral.” Fine. I agree. God agrees. However, you ignore the concept of justice, which must be part of any moral system and moral code that is in place in the absence of perfection. Remember that I said earlier that the ancient Hebrews believed in God’s Justice (with a capital J). When they acted in accordance with what they believed to be obedience to God’s law, meting out God’s Justice through their own actions, they expressed their belief in God. IMO, we must always examine these biblical passages with an eye to how the ancient Hebrews saw the circumstances and acted in accord with their understanding of God’s law. Instead, you appear to wish to impose your own set of moral absolutes on the ancient Hebrews, who, of course, aren’t around to explain themselves.

  195. JDH,

    I didn’t intend to set a trap; I was under the impression that wanton murder and genocide are never moral. I’m always shocked when that notion is contested. I wouldn’t trust a rabbi who tried to convince me otherwise.

    I think Jenna means not to fall into the trap that you have of interpreting the OT as if it is written by people like us in the literary genres we are familiar with. In fact it is clear if you study the OT that the writers pick up the common genres of their time, including standard forms of convenant agreements and othersto tell us theological truth through history. It is not historical writing as we know it. Even a cursory reading would tell you that hyperbole is frequently used when recounting battles. The Hebrew language is also multilayered. You would do well not to discount how the history of OT interpretation.

  196. JDH,

    In light of your remark in #210, I think you will find this book interesting:

    Alan M. Dershowitz (2000). The genesis of justice: 10 stories of biblical injustice that led to the Ten Commandments and modern law.

    JB

  197. J,

    Justice is a completely relative term. One of the iconic modern American moral problems is the use of the bomb. One can argue that it was just while simultaneously being immoral.

    The Big 10 are considered a Judeo-Christian moral apex, but Sam Harris convincingly has his way with those. How about a commandment against rape or slavery? Not to mention that even if the commandments themselves are just, the death penalty for every single one is demonstrably unjust.

    Also, I reject the notion that I need to be a credentialed Bible scholar to take issue with its facial value. The believers of this Bible and its God are often far less educated than I and read it far more literally than you. The 10 Commandment monument on my capitol’s lawn speaks to this.

  198. JDH,

    Apparently, we agree that the concept of justice (and its attainment to the extent possible by human beings) is completely relative: It is relative to an absolute moral standard. If you are going to hold God morally accountable, you must have a moral standard in mind against which and in comparison to you will judge God’s actions. So where does this moral standard come from? Who dictates what it is? Sam Harris? Richard Dawkins?

    I also must point out that the entire notion of holding God morally accountable presumes and presupposes a relationship with God, because if God has no relationship with humankind, why should God be accountable to humans? Why would you expect God to be accountable? The ancient Hebrews had a relationship with God as they understood God and believed that everything they said, did/didn’t do, ate, wore, etc. they were accountable to God, both individually and collectively as a people who had a “contract” with God, the Creator. IMO, their consideration of the seriousness of any disobedience of God and how this disobedience could result in damage to their communal relationship with God is the reason why penalties for infractions were (at least on the books) so severe.

    As I indicated in my discussion of Midrash, I think that it is not a wise practice to look just at the “face value” of any biblical passage. I do not suggest that we need to be Bible scholars to interpret the Bible, but I do believe that it is unreasonable to ask just any ordinary Christian you meet up with on the internet to explain or justify God based on a Bible passage taken out of context without reference to scholarly analysis. This is not the way we Christians approach biblical exegesis.

    Which reminds me of another very deep and well-written discussion of Bible interpretation:

    Rabbi Michael Samuel (2010). “Birth and Rebirth Through Genesis: A Timeless Theological Conversation Genesis 1-3.”

  199. The lovelessness which Genesis 3:15-17 promises is actualized fully within what Scripture itself defines as the Outside, moral excellence coming only by the amalgamation of that protoevangelium’s actualization in John 3:15-17. The ministry of death finds raw justice, void of man’s promised cure throughout the OT. The yet to come. What the OT says about the ugliness of that Outside and how such seamlessly merges with the amalgamation of God/Man just is Scripture’s [A to Z] which thinking such as JDH’s refuses to take on as a Singular Whole.

    That is easy enough to correct.

    What is uncorrectable is the Materialist’s employment of Intentionality, Ought-Have, and Love’s Topography while simultaneously assuring us all such things are illusion at bottom. The autohypnosis there is obvious.

  200. Hi Schblrm,
    #175

    “Thus, you were mistaken to so think of reality when you were a Christian.”

    I have to tell you, I don’t understand how this sentence at the end of the paragraph relates to the rest of that post. I don’t have any clue what I was thinking of reality and why I was mistaken.

    Also, in reading the rest of the conversation I see you post essentially the same thing half a dozen times. Can I suggest, that if saying something once doesn’t get your point across, you need to say it in an entirely different way, using entirely different words. Repeating your key phrases, when there is no understanding from the person you are speaking to, doesn’t forward the conversation.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  201. Shane you implied every event is God’s Will, as if “ought not have” affronted your view of Him…….as if “supposed to” is all of it and no events contradict His Will.

  202. JDH,

    The whole quote mining the Bible for justification that “God is a moral monster” is just not credible biblical understanding. Taking individual stories out of context and challenging people to justify them shows little, if any, understanding of the Bible narrative. “Justifying” the things on your list would basically involve teaching you how to understand the Bible. That’s not something applicable to the space we have here.

    I would though ask you to take a step back from your assertions and look as the source you cited. The Four Horsemen would have to be the least likely source for credible Biblical understanding imaginable. First, none have a lick of theological training. Second, all have a very public agenda attacking religious belief and have made and continue to make quite a profit doing it. They are hardly people who’s Biblical interpretation can be taken at all seriously.

    There are book length explanations of the kind of stories you listed and how they are appropriately understood as part of the overall Biblical narrative. If you really are interested in understanding rather than posting a “gotcha” list they aren’t hard to find.

    BTW, I know this reiterates much of what Jenna and Melissa said but since you addressed me directly I thought a direct response from me was appropriate. And as aside, of the Four Horsemen I’ve read Dawkins most and I can assure you he’s never read the Bible. You simply cannot have any kind of understanding of the Bible and take anything he says seriously.

  203. Shane,

    Sorry, I didn’t mean such IS your view. I meant that what you described as your view when you were a Christian implied (IMO) that “ought not have been / should have been otherwise” on some level affronted your understanding of Him. Of course, many real events contradict Love’s Will. That is what I meant when I said that your thinking (along those lines) was mistaken when you were a Christian. Wrong understanding of “What/Who” Immutable Love just is, and of what such a Something necessitates can lead to such things.

  204. JDH,

    Sorry,

    I posted comment #217 to you but neglected to address it to you. I agree with Bill that to walk you through the “A to Z” of Scripture is not feasible in this format. You clearly don’t take Scripture as one story on the ontology of Love actually describing, both in the OT and the NT, the landscape of the entire OT as but the Loveless Outside wherein Wholeness for Man can never be found. The Ceiling and Floor of Deuteronomy 28 is the best/worst Man can hope for in hell on Earth (the Outside on definition). The Outside is on definition lovelessness and Death Restrained is the Summation of that landscape (not Life Given), for, Moral Excellence is promised in the Protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15-17, not in the Outside which immediately follows. Life cannot be found in lovelessness, in Man in privation. It must be Man-In-God, God-In-Man. Amalgamation, not mere Juxtaposition. Actualization of lovelessness there in the Outside’s Juxtaposition (hell, on definition), and, actualization of Amalgamation in John 3:15-17 is one, seamless Descriptive-Prescriptive of Love’s Ontology and its necessitations. Bill is right. It’s too much for this format, and, given my tendency for word-count issues, I’ll leave it at that.

    You clearly do not know what Scripture says even about itself, never mind what it says about Man and God. One must start with, “Let Us make man in Our Image”. Perhaps you have a distaste for the business about the fully singular, the fully triune E Pluribus Unum, of Self/Other/Us, but, well, that is what Love is at bottom. There is no love void of Self, nor void of Other, nor void of Self-Other. Such is Scripture’s A, and, such is Scripture’s Z. If you ignore Scripture, you cannot expect to understand it, much less dialogue about it with those who don’t ignore it and who allow it to define itself.

  205. So what I’m taking from all this is that reading the Bible in context and understanding the words to be representative of evil actions is simply not reading it correctly. My list was a fragment of the parade of horribles and was not remotely taken out of context. I’m afraid you all are suggesting that my problem is that I have not yet tried hard enough to rationalize God’s flimsy justifications for acting so much like Satan.

    When I point out that God murdered 42 children for bad manners, I am not lying by omission. What possible explanation or exegesis could you offer for that? I am beginning to doubt the moral compasses of those who could disagree. Why would you even WANT to disagree except out of a desperate devotion to a preconceived idea of God? How utterly irrational that God can dwarf Adam Lanza’s massacre, but God is great and Lanza is a national shame.

    No, my understanding of the Bible is not the problem. The words on the page are the problem. If you want to admit that the Bible is not factual, perfect, true, or divinely inspired, then that’s a legit conversation. But I’m not going to be lectured to about how I am being ignorant for not accepting that God’s hurt feelings are a rational basis for mass murder.

  206. Hi scblhrm,

    “I meant that what you described as your view when you were a Christian implied (IMO) that “ought not have been / should have been otherwise” on some level affronted your understanding of Him.”

    This is exactly what I meant. Appealing to God that things should be different to what they are implies at least one of these things:

    God doesn’t know how the way things are.
    God doesn’t know how I feel about the way things are.
    I have a better understanding than God about these first two things because of my POV.
    God doesn’t care about how I feel about the way things are.

    These are obviously all completely wrong when talking about an all knowing, all powerful, all loving God.

    To give a specific, my grandmother died due to cancer when I was in high school. I never asked God to cure her because of the 4 points I listed above. It’s inconceivable to say that God didn’t know she was ill, didn’t know how I felt about it, didn’t understand the situation as well as I and didn’t care about how I felt. Add to that the question, “Why would I want to keep her out of heaven?” And for situations that aren’t life or death, why put too much emphasis on what happens here on earth compared to the eternity of the afterlife? The Christian has no good reason for “ought not have been / should have been otherwise”.

    Now, this does not mean that the question will not be asked by a Christian, but it is not a question that is born out of a rational understanding of any earthly situation.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  207. When I point out that God murdered 42 children for bad manners, I am not lying by omission.

    No, but you are misrepresenting what happened.

    They were most likely a gang of young men (do some research on the Hebrew for their description), and the text does not say they died.

    No, my understanding of the Bible is not the problem. The words on the page are the problem.

    You are talking about an incident described 2500 years ago in a language and a culture far removed from your own. Accordingly, it is well to be cautious before making assertions about what you think happened based on a brief reading.

  208. Shane,

    In that view there seems to be no such thing as an event here (inside of what Scripture defines as the Outside) which runs contrary to Love’s Will.

    Which is nonsensical.

    Should have been otherwise is one of (there are many others) the primary themes of Love’s Ontology laced throughout Scripture’s A to Z.

    The freedom of motion amid/among Self-Other-Us necessitates Man in His Image, and the Self in Privation, while fully Real, while fully All-Sufficiency in Him, is but Lovelessness, Insufficiency in Man, (in any created anything). Once Power wills His Image in Man, it cannot not exist, and it is irrational to interpret all of reality as if it does not, or ought not have, existed. Privation, or what we call evil, that insufficiency of being, the contingent Self fragmented off of the Uncreated Other (no such thing is found in All-Sufficiency, as all moves land on, well, All-Sufficiency) though necessarily availed to the Created Self, is not of necessity actualized.

    Your theology (when you were a Christian) failed to account for the Actuality of Wills in play other than Love’s Will being that which Power Wills. And, it failed to account for Man’s Image necessarily housing God’s Triune topography (Privation necessarily availed, not of necessity motioned into).

    Again, that there is no such thing as an event here (inside of what Scripture defines as the Outside) which runs contrary to Love’s Will is nonsensical.

    Thus the coherence of should have been otherwise in Love’s Ontology, and, the incoherence of such in Materialism. Intentionality and Actual Personhood-s (pleural) at the end of all regress makes such rational in Love’s Ontology, while the impossibility of each makes such irrational in Materialism.

  209. JDH,

    I have no idea why you appeal to love’s topography to posit the existential and the intellectual.

    Perhaps it is all more unavoidable truth you are relating with?

    Perhaps it is another illusion?

    Perhaps it is more of your autohypnosis?

    You have no other options.

    The coherence of the OT landscape’s description of the Ministry of Death, of Death Restrained, rather than Man’s annihilation, and rather than Man’s Privation incoherently “magically erased” finds a seamless line from Wholeness into Privations’ hell on earth into that new creation and into man’s final felicity, all of which maintains Love’s necessary landscape of E Pluribus Unum’s necessary Self-Other-Us both in wholeness and in that fragmentation which is lovelessness on ontological necessity.

    However, nowhere do we find any coherent reason for what must be the materialist’s autohypnosis. Your brutally repeatable relationship with intentionality, and with ought, and with love are quite telling as all your reasoning in this thread employs each and your obviously continued experience of each unmasks your unavoidable relationship with Truths which far outreach all of your Materialism/Atheism. Love’s Ontology is intact in the Whole that is E Pluribus Unum and in the fragmentation of such in lovelessness, and each shake of your fist is but one more testimony of the coherence thereof.

  210. JDH/Bigbird:

    Bigbird your comment gives a good example. There are many others like it.

    But you don’t go far enough.

    Love (God) hates divorce, according to the OT.

    Thus, next to each motion/act/law “regulating” divorce on any level, we must write, “I (God/Love) hate divorce. When you do divorce, do so thusly, though I hate the divorce and though I hate the thusly”. And so too with domination. And so too with slavery. And so too with Man’s entire landscape between Genesis 3:15-17’s protoevangelium and John 3:15-17’s actualization thereof, all which is outside of the Us that is Love’s Image, that of E Pluribus Unum.

    Those who read the OT and willfully ignore Scripture’s definition of itself, refusing to put, “And God hates” next to all inside of that Outside (hell, on definition) will not see your example as helpful, though there are countless examples like it. They irrationally think Juxtaposition of Power/Man can “magically” yield the fruit only available in the Amalgamation of Love/Man though Genesis tells us, from the get-go, such is not the case, cannot be the case, wholeness coming only through the mammoth anthology of that protoevangelium mentioned first in Genesis and subsequently described throughout the OT as the New approaches.

    Nonetheless, it is a good example.

  211. You are talking about an incident described 2500 years ago in a language and a culture far removed from your own. Accordingly, it is well to be cautious before making assertions about what you think happened based on a brief reading.

    No need for the excellent words of advice bigbird. JDH knows all he needs to know about the Bible. After all, he has read Richard Dawkins on the subject.

  212. If God is unchanging and absolute then why does it matter that it happened 2500 years ago? Ok, lets say the bear merely mauled young adults. That doesn’t impact my point at all, aside from adding doubt about the merits of an English Bible that evidently says what it means infrequently enough to make God look like the Riddler.

  213. JDH,

    You seem to think that Judgment void of a cure is somehow lacking, and you seem to think that Lovelessness is somehow ugly.

    The God of the OT agrees with you.

    That’s what we all know.

    And what you don’t know.

    Of course, you cannot see such, given you are not seeing Scripture’s own definitions of various topographies amid Scripture’s A to Z.

  214. @bigbird

    I went through 4 different expositions on the bear verse and some 15 different English versions. Zero hint of anything other than children. Several versions heavily imply death (tore them to pieces), although being “tore apart” or “mauled” is plenty to constitute and evil action.

    The best explanation I could come across from readily-accessible Christian sources is that God wanted to make an example of the kids to legitimize Elisha as Elija’s successor. In order to do so, he killed/maimed children for a miniscule offense to demonstrate a zero-tolerance policy for disrespect of the new prophet.

    If you think this is ok, then I would expect you would be totally fine with having your child “torn to pieces” by the school principal the next time he sasses anyone.

  215. JDH,

    Yes, that sure is ugly. Such lovelessness.

    Immutable Love agrees with you, from Genesis to Revelations.

    It is more accurate, of course, to say that you are agreeing with Him, Love’s Ontology being unavoidable.

  216. I feel like I’ve stepped into Bizarro world. It only took 2 days to get one single poster to concede that God did something mean in mauling/killing a crowd of children. (Is that what happened? At least “ugly” is a negative adjective, so it’s a start.) What a sterling moral standard!

    Apparently the rest feel that my loathing of child abuse is merely a byproduct of laziness and poor reading skills. If only I could make excuses for God, I might apply that same technique to rationalizing terrorism. Imagine how little anger I could feel!

  217. JDH,

    So, since no ancient Hebrew has stepped forward to explain the passage of 2 Kings 2: 23-24 to your satisfaction as other than child abuse by bear mauling, what do you have to say about the character of the God of the NT who rose Jesus Christ from the grave?

  218. Jenna,

    I have plenty of respect and curiosity about the literary Jesus. God is still aloof and enigmatic, but at least he comes across as generally well-intentioned. The blood magic and threats of eternal damnation will always be a burr in my boot, but the literary God certainly turned over a new leaf in his effort to be something approaching good.

    In the end, he’s still a bit of a narcissist, though, don’t you think? You need only look to the missing ancient Hebrew rabbi that is apparently required to understand the Bible to see my point. God inspired a book which was then rendered all but incomprehensible by time and translation. I think we’ve already established that I’m the only one here who thinks the Bible actually means what it says in the pages (and I’m an idiot for it). So God drops us in his rat-race of a literary maze, and we have 2 choices: Believe what we’re told or find an ancient Hebrew rabbi to make sense of the puzzle. But make up your mind quickly, because if you die in your sleep trying to figure out the puzzle, you will burn for eternity. If you think the evidence is bad, you will burn for eternity. If you think the whole puzzle is ridiculous, you will burn for eternity. If you listen to those who won the rat race, there’s dozens of other reasons you might burn for eternity.

    Eternal damnation is still an over-reaction when you consider how it applies to people who behave well, or who are victims of other religious cultures, or who are victims of primitive birth. It’s nice that he stopped smiting multitudes of physical bodies, but he’s still ruthless at heart.

    If I insert myself into the failed moral mind of Christianity, all are equally evil because they are (again) being punished for original sins they did not commit. The punishment of death, suffering, flaws, and eventually hell torment is, again, a classic over-reaction to the “sin” of seeking knowledge. The innocent animals were just collateral damage.

    But I like Jesus the philosopher. At the very least, he offered a way to live that didn’t involve blood magic.

  219. Apparently the rest feel that my loathing of child abuse is merely a byproduct of laziness and poor reading skills.

    So, JDH, you oppose child abuse by others. Can you tell us why?

  220. JDH,

    I have grown immensely in my understanding of the OT through my close association with my Jewish friends and loved ones. One of the important concepts I was introduced to through these friendships and associations is the Law of Noah (Noachide Law) versus the Law of Moses.

    Noachide Law
    The 7 Laws of Noah
    The seven laws listed by the Tosefta and the Talmud are:
    1. Prohibition of idolatry
    2. Prohibition of murder
    3. Prohibition of theft
    4. Prohibition of sexual immorality
    5. Prohibition of blasphemy
    6. Prohibition of eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive
    7. Establishment of law courts

    My understanding is that the Jews, because of their Covenant with God, are held accountable for the Law of Moses, but gentiles are only held accountable to God for observing the Law of Noah, which are moral principles that certainly all humans can agree upon because their observance is required to have a peaceful and cooperative society. Maimonides states, in Mishneh Torah that a non-Jew who is precise in the observance of these seven Noachide commandments is considered to be a Righteous Gentile and has earned a place in the world to come. This follows a similar statement in the Talmud. The focus here is on righteousness, not on “making sense of a puzzle” or fear of eternal damnation. The God I believe in is much more concerned with our getting right with God than in getting God right.

    If you are really concerned about teachings about hell, my I respectfully suggest that you might want to become more familiar with Christian theology regarding salvation, redemption, repentance, forgiveness and mercy. The theology of “original sin” is not at all about punishment for sins we did not commit but about our human nature that is prone to sin, which we cannot overcome without God’s grace and the redemptive acts of Jesus Christ. I hope that you will explore this theology more deeply.

  221. @ BillT

    Because it causes unnecessary suffering. Incidentally, child abuse innately says more about the abuser than the actions of the child.

    Also because it infringes upon the rights of other sentient, autonomous individuals.

    Also because abuse is inherently excessive in relation to any offense, which violates principles of fairness.

  222. JDH,

    Because it causes unnecessary suffering.

    Also because it infringes upon the rights of other sentient, autonomous individuals.

    Also because…(it)…violates principles of fairness.

    Ok.

    Now, can you explain why anyone should care about any of the above? In other words, why should anyone care about unnecessary suffering, rights of others or principles of fairness.

  223. JDH,

    Do you really think that the author(s) of 2 Kings 2 were recounting what s/he or they considered to be a case of God committing child abuse? One of the important things I have learned in my profession as well as in my religious/spiritual journey is when I read something, to seek first to discern the authors’ intent. What is/are the author(s) attempting to tell and/or teach me with this text? I challenge you to find me anywhere in the Talmud where the learned rabbis conclude from their analysis of 2 Kings 2 that God is guilty of child abuse. Or find a modern Jew who interprets the authors’ intent and message from this passage to be to warn us that God is mean to naughty youths.

    I am really puzzled by this approach to Bible interpretation among atheists, because you are, as you point out, following in the footsteps (hoof prints?) of the Four Horsemen with this “monster god” argument. Are you trying to convince us believers that we are really off target and have not grasped the “true nature” of God, according to Harris and Dawkins? Or are you trying to convince us Christians that you really are justified in not believing in such a God as this? Well, I have news for you. We don’t. And I can sincerely say this: If I believed about God what you believe about God, I wouldn’t believe in God either.

  224. @Jenna

    Navigating world religions to find the “right” one is a puzzle, usually an unwinnable one if you’re unfortunate enough to be born on the wrong continent. Choose wisely amongst those 40,000+ world religions.

    You say that the focus is not on avoiding hell, but I do not accept that a consequence would exist except as a deterrent. What part of “love me, or else!” does not inspire fear?

    Assuming your premise about the pursuit of righteousness, note that a full 3 of those 7 Noahic laws are demonstrably inferior to laws that could exist in their place. Maybe “treat everyone as your equal?” Or “do not own slaves?” Or “do not abuse the earth for personal gain?” But no, God’s ego is more important than the life of a slave or a woman.

    How is “getting right with God more than getting God right” any different than, say, a Mormon promising that if you convert that God will reveal to you that the Book of Mormon is true? “We have to pass the bill to find out what is in it,” right?

    Since we have established that the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, I suppose I cannot refer to scripture to bolster my understanding of hell. It comes from Grace Fellowship in Tulsa, Life Church in Oklahoma City, the 700 Club, and Focus on the Family. CS Lewis’ idea of hell in the Great Divorce was actually quite nice by comparison, albeit heretical. If the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, I suppose I could accept that my megachurch upbringing and two of the largest Christian organizations in the country were also just flat wrong. Maybe my decades of Bible studies, devotionals, camps, counselors, and books all just got it wrong. I would be thrilled if that were the case!

    So it’s not a puzzle, but the book doesn’t mean what it says. It’s not an ultimatum to say “love me, or else.” Hell is not how I understand it, or how it is taught to millions of Christians by the leaders of the faith. We are punished for our disposition to sin, which was caused by original sin, but that isn’t the same as being punished for original sin.

    This is rationality?

  225. Jenna,

    The purpose in pointing out the obvious meaning of the words on the page is to point out that the Christian God in the Bible is not the God that Christians speak of (all-loving, unchanging, perfect, all-powerful, etc). I find this to be obvious.

    Another purpose is to undermine the Christian sense of entitlement and superiority that is characteristic of religions that lay claim to an ultimate morality to be enforced on everyone. Clearly God had very poor priorities in choosing blasphemy over slavery, no?

    Discussions of the reality of the “love me, or else” God of the NT serve the exact same purpose. As a literary figure, he’s not even nice, let alone all the wonderful things Christians claim.

    If God were man in the modern day, he would be tried and executed over and over and over and over and over. US law, with its dark history and ongoing imperfection, has reached a moral pinnacle beyond anything the literary God ever did.

  226. “Ok. Now, can you explain why anyone should care about any of the above? In other words, why should anyone care about unnecessary suffering, rights of others or principles of fairness.”

    Lots of reasons. Self-interest. Avoiding consequences and personal pain. Avoiding emotional stress. Avoiding ripple-effect consequences to those you love. Social stability and advancement. Evolutionary instinct.

    These are all scientifically measurable motivators. People who inflict suffering for personal gain or enjoyment are often sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists, or suffering from other ailments (depression, anxiety, phobias, religious or nationalist indoctrination, etc) that inhibit their attachment to reality and disrupt a sense of consequence and social order.

  227. JDH,

    Here I am posting the statement on hell from the Catholic Church. I do this in the hope that rather than discuss interpretations of church doctrines on hell, we can examine an actual statement from a specific religious denomination:

    “The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992, Pope John Paul II) declared hell to be “a sure norm for teaching the faith”), defines hell as a state involving definitive self-exclusion from communion with God:

    We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

    Please note that hell is defined as “definitive self-exclusion from communion with God.” Note especially the “self” in “self-exclusion.”

    C.S. Lewis in his book, “The Great Divorce”:

    There are only two kinds of people in the end:
    those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’
    And those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’
    All that are in Hell, choose it.”

    I see a consistent thread, theme and message in these and other descriptions/explanations of hell. Hell is a choice, a willful and deliberate separation from God. My “take” on the commandment to love God is to choose closeness and unity with God rather than separation from God. Acts 17:28 Since God is in whom I live and move and have my being, separation from God is not to have life, human life or eternal life.

  228. JDH,

    I find this statement of yours fascinating: “US law, with its dark history and ongoing imperfection, has reached a moral pinnacle beyond anything the literary God ever did.”

    Of course you realize that the foundation of US law, with its dark history and ongoing imperfection, is this fundamental principle:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    The Creator referred to here is, of course, that “literary God” you disparage so much.

  229. Jenna,

    Christianity proselytizes that “loving God” is believing in a series of improbable events without any need for proof (faith), including the diety and resurrection of Jesus. Of course, once you “are saved,” there is a whole host of rules and doctrines you must embrace that inform how you are ought to live your life. I fail to see how your examples constitute anything other than “love me, or else.”

    If God is who you say he is, one can follow him without ever believing he exists. The progressive Lewis controversially analogized this in the Last Battle when the most devoted follower of Tash was invited to the New Narnia.

  230. JDH,

    You say this: “If God is who you say he is, one can follow him without ever believing he exists.”

    What do you mean by this?

  231. @JDH

    I went through 4 different expositions on the bear verse and some 15 different English versions. Zero hint of anything other than children.

    That’s weird. The very first reference I found on this passage says:

    “The word Hebrew translated here as “children” (na’ar) often means official or servant and doesn’t necessarily even refer to age at all. Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba is referred to as na’ar (2 Samuel 16:1), yet he has fifteen sons. The man that Boaz has positioned as boss over his fieldworkers is na’ar—not a position one grants to children (Ruth 2:5-6). The word na’ar is translated as “servant” over fifty times (roughly a fifth of the times it appears in Scripture).”

  232. Not to nitpick, but I can hardly “disparage” God by quoting (with context) the book he divinely inspired. I think he ought to take responsibility for misrepresenting himself so thoroughly, since that’s allegedly what has happened.

    Most of our founders, most of the Enlightenment thinkers, and certainly John Locke were leftist heretics. No doubt they did believe in a creator, and I hardly fault them for that. But morality – and by extension law – is a living thing. The morality of the founders, despite their recognition of a creator, did nothing to benefit the genocide of Native peoples and did nothing to benefit women, blacks, gays, Catholics, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hispanics, etc.

    Their belief in God, their religion, and their appeal to higher morality did nothing to stop white supremacy, patriarchy, or genocide. Fortunately, a living, evolving morality has moved to higher ground in the slow march to an egalitarian ethic. What did God have to do with that?

  233. @bigbird

    I’d love to read that! Where did you find it?

    Next time I meet with an inmate who’s in for child abuse, I’ll just suggest that he maim a servant next time.

  234. “What do you mean by this?”

    If God is all good and an absolute moral standard (even if it’s “do as I say, not as I do”), you would not need to believe he exists to strive for absolute goodness in everything you do. Without a doubt, it is more “good” to do good for its own sake than because you were told to do so. Commands imply consequences for failure.

  235. JDH,

    I take it from many of your comments that you have not read True Reason, specifically, Glenn Sunshine’s chapter titled “Christianity and slavery” or Samuel J. Youngs’ chapter titled “A Sun to See By–Christianity, meaning and morality.”

    What “higher ground” of “evolving morality” does atheism aspire to?

  236. BillT,

    JDH’s reasoning is not volitional, according to him. He neither believes in autonomous individuals nor any value therein, other than, perhaps, an unintentional illusion.

    The autohypnosis he is engaging in is cleary intentional given that intentionality is real, though he does not believe in it.

    JDH:

    You don’t believe in autonomous individuals.

  237. Scb,

    How convenient that you can tell other people what they do and do not believe and then calling them delusional. What an easy way to deal with confounding problems.

  238. JDH,

    So you do believe in physical systems with intentionality?

    On what grounds? Your mind’s experience of it?

  239. Lots of reasons. Self-interest. Avoiding consequences and personal pain. Avoiding emotional stress. Avoiding ripple-effect consequences to those you love. Social stability and advancement. Evolutionary instinct.

    So in the main, the reason why child abuse is wrong is because you care about unnecessary suffering, rights of others and principles of fairness and the reason you care about unnecessary suffering, rights of others and principles of fairness is self interest.

    Well at least you’re honest. You used a lot of high minded words there like, unnecessary suffering, rights, principles of fairness. And they all boil down to because it’s good for me. Well it’s nice to see someone who has their own best interests at heart.

  240. JDH,

    It’s a matter of coherence. Of avoiding circular reasoning.

    As in: which Moral Excellence would you strive for? The Indifference that subsumes all of our illusions?

    I have no idea what you mean by “good” because equivocation and obvious autohypnosis are just to intrusive in all of your reasoning thus far, and such makes it hard to pinpoint your definition of such things.

    Since you don’t want to talk about Christianity on its own ontological definitions, perhaps we can once again speak about this business of reasoning.

    Unintentional thinking seems to me to be quite fatal to reasoning, and to “good”.

  241. Bill,

    Self-interest is a core animal motivator. Other interests can serve as individual motivators or counter-motivators, and that is the territory occupied by philosophy and ethics.

    I assure you, I am no Objectivist. In fact, I despise it. Altruism certainly has its place, and that is not usually defined by self-interest (despite some comedic efforts by hipster Objectivists).

  242. scb,

    You need to define terms, because I hardly have any idea what you mean by “autohypnosis” or how you’re using “intentionality” and “illusion.”

  243. Jenna,

    I intend to read the book, but I can’t exactly argue with a book.

    “What “higher ground” of “evolving morality” does atheism aspire to?”

    Atheism is not a philosophy in itself. Its only social goal would be to counter and oppose religious justifications for violating the rights of others, especially where they are institutionalized.

    Atheist writers love nothing more than outlining the history of religious justifications for institutional oppression and unjust wars.

  244. scb,

    I do not know if you are talking generally about the neutral idea of abstraction, or if you were using it as a quasi-religious proof of God, or if you had read Dennett’s Intentional Stance.

    So yes, really.

  245. JDH,

    I’ll leave you to figure out what “intentional” / “volitional” means, since you want to so converse.

    For the rest, it’s rather simple, the bitter end of all regress, ontological necessity, and all that. That bitter end of regress may help you figure out what “volitional” means, BTW.

    End of Regress:

    Brute Fact:

    A = Deterministic Indifference

    Z = Deterministic Indifference

    [Actuality] = [A – (Deterministic / Indifferent Effervescing Fragments of Psychic Phosphorescence) – Z]

    Brute Fact:

    A = Love’s fully singular, fully triune [Self-Other-Us], Who is the Triune God, Who is One, Who is Love’s E Pluribus Unum.

    Z = Love’s fully singular, fully triune [Self-Other-Us], Who is the Triune God, Who is One, Who is Love’s E Pluribus Unum.

    [Actuality] = [A – (Fragmentations / Privations of the Self, of Other, of Us) – Z]

  246. I’d love to read that! Where did you find it?

    Sure, the first link I found on this, here.

    Next time I meet with an inmate who’s in for child abuse, I’ll just suggest that he maim a servant next time.

    Your original complaint was that God caused 42 children to be murdered.

    I point out that a reasonable reading of the text is that they were a gang of young men, and there is no clear indication that they were killed.

    So this is quite likely an account of how God protected his prophet and punished the people who mocked and abused him.

    If you want to make analogies, try one of someone defending your father from being abused or beaten by a gang of 42 young men.

  247. JDH,

    You seem confused by “ontological necessity”, “presuppositions”, “logical regress”, and so on.

    I can’t help you.

    All I have seen you do thus far in this thread is remain committed to the first Actuality described above, all the while borrowing the epistemology of the second Actuality described above. You have to borrow Love’s Epistemology grounded in Love’s Ontology. The first ontology cannot contain it because, well, circular reasoning, blind axiom, incoherence, and all those other things (which I cannot help you with).

    But having read your writing, I know you know all sorts of things about philosophy. You’re a joy to read.

    Only, you really need to quit borrowing from other so called make-believe ontologies in order to employ your autohypnosis in appeasing your own fears and needs. Wish-fulfillment is not helpful in Truth-Finding. I don’t know what to call living by something which is ontologically irrational (irrational inside of materialism) other than wish-fulfillment. That is why I employ that term. That you volitionally do so is, I think, a little more justification for such.

    Of course, none of that changes the fact that you are, well, a joy to read 😉

  248. JDH, #264,

    But surely you know that atheism has no coherent reasonable argument as to why violating the rights of individuals is wrong, most especially when it is in one’s own self-interest to do so. The “unalienable rights granted by our Creator” argument is contradictory for atheists. What makes you so sure that an atheist society would have a rationale for upholding the rights of minorities (religious, racial/ethnic, sexual orientation, disabled) when atheists do not see it as being in their best interests to do so? Isn’t the systematic, institutionalized violation of the human/civil rights in fact, the ugly history of atheism?

    What I see among atheists, most especially the New Atheists movements’ leaders, is lots of self-righteousness and no logic or reason. Our conversation has confirmed for me the thesis of Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer’s book True Reason, which I sincerely hope you will read some day.

  249. Atheism is not a philosophy in itself. Its only social goal would be to counter and oppose religious justifications for violating the rights of others, especially where they are institutionalized.

    Well blow me down. So it appears that atheism isn’t merely the non-belief in God(s), nor it it simply the lack of belief in God(s). Atheism actually has a social goal as well!

    Also, while you are reading this can you please answer my previous question (#126) and back-up your claim that there is a “modern dearth of miracles”? Preferably you should provide some evidence that

    a) You are familiar with contemporary claims of miraculous events.
    b) You understand the temporal frequency of miracle accounts described in the Bible.

  250. Jenna, you are conflating Communism with atheism. Communism is a philosophy invented by Marx and expounded upon by Lenin, Stalin, etc. Are you going to tell me that Marx invented atheism?

    Philosophy drives behavior, not non-belief in a deity. I call Communism evil because it failed to balance the competing interests of the members of society. I cannot be SURE that atheists would follow a beneficial philosophy. Unlike Christians who claim a theological philosophy that has failed to stifle evil to rival Communism.

    I expect a modern atheist country would look much like the atheist nations of Scandinavia. I expect atheists to adapt to the moral progress of the day instead of clinging to archaic notions of subjugated women, racial purity, and the supposed evils of consentual adult relationships. They care for their sick and poor, they are highly communitarian, and their justice system emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment. You can flog the Soviets and North Koreans all you want, but you are too good for that. The honest answer to your question is in the highly secular pluralistic societies of Europe.

  251. Unlike Christians who claim a theological philosophy that has failed to stifle evil to rival Communism.

    What exactly is the “evil to rival communism” that Christianity has failed to stifle?

    I expect a modern atheist country would look much like the atheist nations of Scandinavia.

    You mean the Scandinavian nations that have a long history of Christianity, have state churches and where the majority of the population believes in a deity of some sort?

  252. Hi scblhrm,
    #226

    “In that view there seems to be no such thing as an event here (inside of what Scripture defines as the Outside) which runs contrary to Love’s Will.

    Which is nonsensical.”

    By Love, do you mean God? How about we keep using the same term? It would certainly be confusing if I started referring to myself as “Sarah’s Father” or “the owner of Nissan Pulsar ST-L 230-TON”.

    And why is that nonsensical?

    “Should have been otherwise is one of (there are many others) the primary themes of Love’s Ontology laced throughout Scripture’s A to Z.”

    I don’t know what this means.

    “The freedom of motion amid/among Self-Other-Us necessitates Man in His Image, and the Self in Privation, while fully Real, while fully All-Sufficiency in Him, is but Lovelessness, Insufficiency in Man, (in any created anything).”

    I don’t know what this means.

    “Once Power wills His Image in Man, it cannot not exist, and it is irrational to interpret all of reality as if it does not, or ought not have, existed.”

    Assuming Power is another word for God, I request again that you just call him God.

    God knows all the choices all men will make if they have free will.
    God gives man free will.
    God can change anything if he chooses too.
    Anything he doesn’t change is because he doesn’t want to change it.
    Everything that happens is either directly or indirectly because of God’s will.

    “Privation, or what we call evil, that insufficiency of being, the contingent Self fragmented off of the Uncreated Other (no such thing is found in All-Sufficiency, as all moves land on, well, All-Sufficiency) though necessarily availed to the Created Self, is not of necessity actualized.”

    I don’t know what this means.

    “Your theology (when you were a Christian) failed to account for the Actuality of Wills in play other than Love’s Will being that which Power Wills.”

    Are you saying that God wanted two different things? What did He want?

    “And, it failed to account for Man’s Image necessarily housing God’s Triune topography (Privation necessarily availed, not of necessity motioned into).”

    I don’t know what this means.

    “Again, that there is no such thing as an event here (inside of what Scripture defines as the Outside) which runs contrary to Love’s Will is nonsensical.”

    Again, why?

    “Thus the coherence of should have been otherwise in Love’s Ontology, and, the incoherence of such in Materialism.”

    It certainly doesn’t make sense in materalism. But I still don’t understand why it should in Christianity.

    Thanks
    Shane

  253. Hi Jenna,

    “4. Prohibition of sexual immorality”

    The vagueness of this bothers me when ever it is bought up. Is there a list of prohibited acts? Are their acts prohibited between married couples?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  254. Shane,

    Some random thoughts for you as I haven’t the time to address your old school Monolithic-It sort of God:

    Once Power wills His Image in Man, it cannot not exist, and it is irrational to interpret all of reality as if it does not, or ought not have, or cannot have, existed.

    This is your fundamental error.

    The volitional motions among/amid Self, Other, Us, just is the end of regress in the Christian God. Singular/Triune.

    The motion into the Pure Self, in Him, is but a motion into All Sufficiency, into the Great I-AM.

    Whereas, that same motion in Man leads Man, necessarily, into In-Sufficiency, into Privation, what you and I commonly call Evil.

    That such a Motion be availed to Man is necessary because Power Wills Man in His Image.

    Power, God, has that Will, which cannot be “changed”, because God is not conflicted.

    Further, it is not necessary for Man to motion into Privation, for, Power has Willed for Man Man’s motion into Himself (into God), and since Power has so Willed, it so is His Will for Man.

    You will insist on defining a rather small God who lacks the capacity to house within Himself [All-Possibilities], and, further, you will see Him as Monolithic-It, rather than a Singular/Triune, and that is why you cannot fathom such necessary freedom in His creative act.

    Once Power wills His Image in Man, it cannot not exist, and your are being irrational to interpret all of reality as if it does not, or cannot, so exist.

    His tridimensional topography amid [All Possibility] within Personhood’s motions far outreaches your oversimplified uni-tangential thinking.

    [All-Possibilities] houses all roads in Eden, and you think such a thing can be thwarted by Man’s choice therein. But, of course, all roads, obedience or disobedience, bring Man to Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self. Love spreading His arms wide and pouring Himself out, and into, His beloved, cannot not happen. Man, In-Sufficiency, cannot enter Him on his own steam, whether in obedience or disobedience. Man must be filled up. Thus, God must pour out, into. Love Himself must descend, be debased, Man, the Beloved, must be filled up, glorified. In All Possibilities. In all Worlds. You’re thinking isn’t wide enough, Shane. It seems within Him, within [All-Possibilities] the actualization of all of it just does happen. The Knowledge of Evil, of the Isolated I, is known necessarily when one knows the Whole of Self-Other-Us. To know the Whole is to know the Part. Man will eat of the knowledge of Good/Evil. That is a Good Tree. Only, Love Wills Man to first eat of Life’s Tree. That He declares such means it is such, as He is not conflicted. Man can choose which route, because there is freedom among Self/Other/Us, because Power’s Will cannot not happen, but, Man cannot choose the Means/Ends, which just is Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self, because there is no other reality besides E Pluribus Unum. Man is, thankfully, wholly free, and, Man is, thankfully, fully constrained.

    Your thinking is not of the Triune God in Whom [All-Possibilities] is but some small corner, but is instead of some small monolithic It who cannot create worlds upon worlds, many, yet one, both in creating and in being.

    The more we take God at His Word there in Genesis though Revelations, the more His Singular/Triune necessitations become too large for such old-school monolithic thinking.

    Because God is volitionally free to motion into/out of the Self, the Other, the Us, amid Self-Other-Us, so too is Man, and we know that Power creates/wills that Image, that Freedom, and then you want to think it impossible, and, even worse, you think [All-Possibilities] are contained in Eden, because you don’t take Scripture’s A to Z seriously. That is irrational, and that irrationality explains all of your misinterpretation of the Triune God Who is One. Your other irrationality is that your whole take on Eden’s Trees (Life, Good, Evil, and so on) will just assume that experience must be the highest form of knowledge, whereas, it is but a Part of the Whole that is Knowledge. It is the lesser, not the Whole. God knows more than the inchworm what it is “like” to “be” the inchworm. God knows more than Satan what Evil “is” for Evil, or the Pure-Self, is from everlasting within Love’s fully singular/triune Self-Other-Us, within E Pluribus Unum. We are told that we will (later) know as He knows, and even worse for old-school Monolithic-It thinking, we will know Him in the way that He knows us.

    It is interesting that in Him the Pure Self just is Good, is Life, is God. The Great I AM. He cannot “sin”, and yet Evil, the Pure Self, the Privatized-I, just is grounded in Love’s Ontology, just is in Him.

    Whereas, in any created anything, on ontological necessity, such a location of isolation, of privation, just is In-Sufficiency, Lack, Need, Death, Love-Less. We see then that when it comes to the Privatized Self what is Evil for Man is not, cannot be, Evil for God, because Actuality just begins and ends with Him. But for Love, there cannot be what we call Evil. Man is free to motion into himself, and, simultaneously, given the Singular/Triune, it is not necessary for Him to do so. All-Possibilities being, of course, fully actualized in God.

    I’ve violated my word count 😉

  255. Shane,

    Freedom amid Self Other Us cannot be “changed” by God. God wills THAT landscape, His Image, in Man. You’re trying to say God can simultaneously Will X and Not-X. Which is nonsensical.

    Love just is the Highest Ethic in all possible worlds.

  256. Shane,

    God could change that Image, but the result wouldn’t be Love’s Topography of the fully singular, fully triune Self-Other-Us, of E Pluribus Unum. But Love begets yet more Love, worlds upon worlds, ad infinitum.

  257. At the risk of seeming rude, is sch autistic or managing OCD or Asperger’s or something? Sincerely wondering.

  258. JDH,

    It’s a bit of work to define things in terms of a Triune Singularity. We come close to it in marriage. Me. My wife. That third certain something that is “us”, distinct both from me or my wife.

    The language we find in Scripture is, it seems, not of a Monolithic-It.

    But it’s all very tedious to draw out in words. It’s easier to “see” in marriage, in our loves, as we can “taste” it easy enough there. Writing about it is a bit more work. Inside of our marriages/loves it’s just “self-evident”. But to type it out, well……

    How would you describe the “singularity” that is E Pluribus Unum should such be the end of all ontological regress? In particular, as such relates to Good and Evil, Love, Personhood, and so on and so on…..

    I’ve seen your writing. Granted, you’d be better at it than I, JDH. That is why my last comment to you was that you truly are a joy to read.

  259. JDH,

    Here is an example of why that annoyingly tedious work sometimes helps define things closer to Christianity’s set of ontological end points.

    You replied to Jenna:

    “I fail to see how your examples constitute anything other than “love me, or else.””

    In that thinking you completely glossed over the delight of the Created Self being the very thing that is your supposed “or else”.

    Any Created Self in Privation “just is” void of “I-You”, or, if it helps, “just is” void of “Self-Other” , and that condition “just is” love-less-ness.

    God, or, Love, just is the Whole of all that is. To be outside of such is to be, well, outside of love.

    But what is love? What is God? What is it to be outside of “that”?

    Well, we have to bring in all that tedious work of Self-Other-Us, and so on, and then “E Pluribus Unum”, and, step by step we end up with the fully singular, fully triune. The Christian God is Love, which means He is not an old-school Monolithic-It, but rather, is a Triune-Person.

    That is God.

    Outside of “That/Him” there cannot be love, on ontological necessity, for the beginning and end of Actuality just is Him – and He just is love.

    The Created Self “just is free” to motion into/out-of Self/Other/Us because God – in Himself – just is free to so motion, and He makes Man in THAT Image. There is no or-else. There is only THAT landscape.

    Etc.

    At best, it’s tedious.

    You say you want to discuss Christianity, but instead you keep trying to define things, or asking us to define things, in non-Christian terms.

    That move by you doesn’t make things any easier…… layered over the “tedious” part 😉

  260. JDH, perhaps you can spare a moment to answer the questions I raised in post #126 and #271

  261. JDH, RE: #272

    No, I am not “conflating” atheism with Communism, although you do not deny that Communism is an atheistic ideology, of which there are many. I am pointing out the need for you to base your idealized vision of an atheist society (a society where belief in God is absent) on the realities of atheism, including the history of oppression and genocide of atheistic ideologies. Since atheism does not have or profess any paradigm for moral reasoning, there is no guarantee that an atheist society would look anything like the secular societies of Scandinavia. (And BTW, secularism and atheism are not synonyms).

    In fact, I challenge you to show us evidence that the countries of Scandinavia have less antisemitism or anti-immigrant sentiments than other societies, including the rest of Europe. On what do you base your belief (which is what it is, not fact) that any atheist society would be more concerned with protecting the human and civil rights than any non-atheist society? Since, as you point out, atheism per se has no moral philosophy that advocates for equity for all groups or articulates a moral vision of equity, what makes you think that abandoning religion and belief in God would lead to more social equity? Isn’t it now and hasn’t it been historically the lack of a belief in accountability to God that permits horrific atrocities and genocide? Where are atheism’s arguments against violations of human and civil rights of individuals or groups? Naturalism? Materialism?

    Your expectations for an atheist society are simply your own wishful thinking.

    Some of the better research and arguments on this point can be found IMO, in these two books:

    Rabbi David Wolpe (2008) Why faith matters.

    David Berlinski (2009). “The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.”

    David Berlinski’s argument against atheism is based on Nazism and the Holocaust.

  262. Shane, RE: #275

    I think that you can look up “Judaism and sexuality” on the internet to answer your question about prohibitions against sexual immorality under Noachide Law. Or consult the Talmud or perhaps, the writings of the Maimonides. I don’t think that the meaning of the term is any great mystery, but if you have questions about it, you should do your own research.

  263. JDH, RE: Your “love me or else” argument

    Why do you think God would want (command) us to love Him?

    The way I understand God, it that is because God loves us and because He loves us (all of us), He wants us to love Him as the Creator of all, we humans, our earth and our universe. As our Heavenly Father (the metaphor Jesus gives us), God only wants what is best for us. God loves all of His creation and wants us to love it, too. That means that anything that is harmful and destructive to ourselves or to our fellow human beings (also children of God) or to God’s creation (the environment, all living creatures), is disobedience to God (also called sin) and goes against His will for us.

    Why would anyone want to disobey a Father who is all powerful, all knowing and all loving who wants us to live the “abundant life” (John 10:10) and has revealed to us how we can achieve this? And if, in addition, God promises us an eternal life with Him enjoying His love and without the suffering of our biological bodies at the conclusion of our time on earth, why not do all we can to achieve this as an extension into eternity of the “abundant life” that God gives us? It all makes perfect sense.

  264. Hi scblhrm,

    I love that one of the longest posts in this thread starts with

    “Some random thoughts for you as I haven’t the time to address your old school Monolithic-It sort of God:”

    “Freedom amid Self Other Us cannot be “changed” by God. God wills THAT landscape, His Image, in Man. You’re trying to say God can simultaneously Will X and Not-X. Which is nonsensical.”

    Do you believe God can answer prayers? Do you believe that God can perform miracles? Do you believe that sometimes these prayers are answered, and miracles are performed through the actions of other people. If God chooses not to change the world it’s because it is His will that things remain as they are.

    Melissa,

    “In other words … Your god is too small Shane.”

    I don’t follow that at all.

    Thanks
    Shane

  265. Hi Jenna,

    The thing is it is listed amongst 5 other things that are easily defined. idolatry, murder, theft, blasphemy and eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive (which is very specific). Prohibiting sexual immorality is vague and would be similar to prohibiting “rudeness” or “casual dressing” or any other grey area.

    I appreciate that there are other books with info on it, but shouldn’t the bible be the beginning and end of rules and regulations?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  266. Hi Billy Squibs,

    Going to jump in on #126 if you don’t mind.

    “And can you tell me why you think that there is a huge dearth of contemporary miracles (or miracle accounts if you prefer)?”

    There is huge difference between ‘miracles’ and ‘miracle accounts’ obviously. There is an enormous number of alien abductions reported annually but that doesn’t convert into even one verified alien abduction.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  267. There is huge difference between ‘miracles’ and ‘miracle accounts’ obviously. There is an enormous number of alien abductions reported annually but that doesn’t convert into even one verified alien abduction.

    Oh no! The alien abduction thing again. OK, we all get is Shane. We understand your point. Now can we move on?

    I realise that there is a difference between an actual miracle (even in principle) and an account of a miracle. I said as much in post #126 and #271. What I want to get from JDH (I’ll assume until I’m corrected that JDH is a he) are answers to the following questions:

    a) Is he familiar with contemporary claims of miraculous events.
    b) Does he understand the temporal frequency of miracle accounts

    In both cases I would like him to demonstrate some understanding in these areas. If you go back and reread the quoted section it did not, as I understand it, directly concern the impossibility or improbability of miracles. Rather, it spoke about belief in infallibility and inerrancy (both, as I mentioned, are hotly contested within Christianity) and – importantly – the dearth of contemporary miracles. While I appreciate the response (aside from the tedious alien abduction thing) you are not addressing the questions I asked.

  268. Shane,

    Once again your thinking is too small.

    You say it is not God’s Will to change our hell on earth.

    Yet it is.

    That is why He pours Himself out, and into, the vacuum that is Man’s privation.

    And that is why Time will, ultimately, give way to Timelessness.

    Love tarries, and we are told why by Scripture. You can research the reason if you want.

    To end Evil: A bunch of Laws (cannot do the work needed) vs. Automatons (loveless) vs. freedom of motion into / out-of Love Himself.

    Those are the only options.

    God has other options, but since His Will is His Image as our walls, He does not will those other options. A bunch of laws and rules cannot end Evil, as Moral Excellence cannot come by Moses, which Genesis 3’s Protoevangelium told us from the get-go. Making us Automatons is contrary to His Image in Man, which He wills. Your assertion of a miracle every nanosecond to intervene and thereby micro-manage Mankind’s trillion-per-second motions (which is what it would take) is the moral equivalent of making us Automatons, and you think He should be doing this, and, you assert that because He is not doing that then “it is God’s will that you just got raped”.

    Firstly, you overlook that your miracle every nanosecond is the equivalent of making Mankind an Automaton. Secondly, if God wanted rape, He’d rape us and force us to choose X, but since He Wills His Image, that of Freedom amid Self/Other/Us, we know that is not His Will for Himself towards Mankind nor for us towards one another.

    Your god is still too small. As is your thinking.

    As for why Love tarries, you can research that if you’d like to know why. It’s just one verse. Time and Timelessness and Actualizations are odd topographies. Time’s Wills and Will-Nots morph to Timeless Can and Cannots, every Created Self having its delight. We are all Enoch. We are all Pharaoh. Being Free, we will all have our first love. Time, Circumstance, Opportunity, Worlds, and even Sin itself are no barriers for His Grace, which outreaches, outperforms, all such things. He has handled all of them for us. What He wills not is to handle our will. That is the only part of the whole left to us. Love tarries.

  269. Shane,

    Please see my discussion of the tradition of Midrash in Judaism and reference to the 37 volumes of the Talmud. There are many sources of “rules and regulations” related to Noachide Law (the 7 Laws of Noah). The Torah is one source but the concept of Noachide Law is elaborated in the Talmud and other interpretive writings. The interpretation of the Laws of Noah varies in the different traditions of modern Judaism: orthodox, reform, conservative, etc.

    I hope that this answers your question and if not, that you will do some research on the Internet. There is a lot of information and analysis available.

  270. #275 / married couples

    There isn’t much in the NT. Husbands are told their body is not their own property, but the property of the wife. Husbands are to submit to their wife as unto the Lord. All of the above is also told to wives. Scripture isn’t meant to micromanage. A billion pages to make every decision in every possible situation…… He sets up the Frame of Love and Self-Sacrifice and aims for the root.

  271. Hi schblrm,

    “Your assertion of a miracle every nanosecond to intervene and thereby micro-manage Mankind’s trillion-per-second motions (which is what it would take) is the moral equivalent of making us Automatons, and you think He should be doing this, and, you assert that because He is not doing that then “it is God’s will that you just got raped”.”

    Where did I assert that? The whole point of my posts has been that God does not interfere in things, nor should we ask him to. Obviously we would not have free will if God made any changes to the universe. That’s exactly why he can’t. If God’s Will is for us to have free choice then he can’t be held responsible for the choices we make. That God wants better things for us is a different thing to what He Wills.

    Thanks
    Shane

  272. Shane,

    I think we agree.

    It is Love’s Will for the better actualization: that the man not rape.

    It is Love’s Will for Man to be free to motion into / out-of such.

    Man is thus free to so motion.

    Thus, once the rape happens, we say that God never willed it, and, also, should have been otherwise is grounded in that very Will of Love.

    [Un-Willed Actualizations] is thus wholly intact inside of the wider [All-Possibilities] which is itself wholly intact inside of the even wider, the widest, [God]. That all possibilities find any and all ontological weight inside of [God] is but the fact that all possibilities are, of course, fully [Actual] in God. What [Actual] means to the Created Self and to God is where our Mind finds its limit and God’s Mind finds no such limit/seam.

    The Triune God of the Christian finds the reality the singular and the triune both in being and in creating, and though we think the word “actual” is limited there, it is not. Not in being, not in creating. The width of such a Reality as the Uncreated finds coherence in the very phrase E Pluribus Unum.

    As for Love’s tarrying, well, we are all Enoch. We are all Pharaoh. Time, Circumstance, Opportunity, Worlds, and Sin itself our far outreached, out-performed, by His Grace. Enoch and Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self find in Timelessness what is ever-actual, which we find actualized here inside of Time in 1st century Palestine, which is Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self. As noted earlier, Man cannot thwart Love’s Means/Ends, which is God Himself, as Man cannot enter Him on Man’s own steam and therein Love must pour out, pour into. Love must come down, be debased. Man must be filled up, be glorified. In all possible worlds. In all actualizations.

    Should have been otherwise is dead in the old-school Monolithic-It. We find it alive in well inside of the Living Triune Person Who is the God of the OT/NT.

  273. Shane,

    We find then that if you wish to discuss Christianity, rather than some form of deified Monolithic-It akin to Materialism’s deterministic end of regress, should have been otherwise finds all the support it needs atop the Will of E Pluribus Unum to fashion Man in His Image. Further, He tells us that the business of activity within Time is an activity which He engages in, and, He tells us to Pray, and calls us co-laborers with Him. In other words, the Inverse-Of, or, the Mirror-Image of the reality of should have been otherwise within Time just is the reality of can be otherwise within Time, each finding coherence in the other, each resting atop Love’s Willed Image as the end of regress. Because things can be otherwise, Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. prays for light, for grace, and so on, and, in pouring himself out, in mirroring Love’s end of regress, light comes, grace comes. Prayer is that motioning within can be otherwise. Of course, we know this is true, for, things will be otherwise. That Man is an actual Person with an actual will demonstrating an actual impact in such things, while irrational in materialism, is ontologically necessary and coherent within Christianity’s ontological end points.

  274. Just got back from Ukraine, and I’m trying to figure out what scblhrm is talking about… sounds like stream-of-consciousness musing cum poetry without much direction.

  275. Shane,

    “The whole point of my posts has been that God does not interfere in things, nor should we ask him to.”

    Given that it is true that “should have been otherwise” here within Time is coherent (given Christianity’s ontological end points), and, since things “can be otherwise” here within Time, and, since God does act within Time, and, since things will be otherwise (God’s Will in play / Man’s will in play), your assertion that we “should-not” pray is incoherent for two reasons. First, the word should is a kind of vapor in materialism which you have no capacity to employ unless you borrow some ontological collateral from the Christian, and, second, it is clearly incongruent with Christianity’s Living Triune Person, the ontological end points of Whom are radically different than any sort of Monolithic-It mirroring Materialism’s deterministic ends of regression. As noted, Prayer just is our activity within the arena of can be otherwise. Only He can change “everything“, which He has done / is doing through His New Creation, though, it is clear that Man with Him can and does change some things here within Time that would not otherwise change but for Man in prayer with God. That Man is an actual Person with an actual will demonstrating an actual impact in / on such things, while irrational in materialism, is ontologically necessary and coherent within Christianity’s ontological end points. Prayer is in part this business of “asking”, but, it is so much more for the Christian as communion with one’s beloved just is so much more than that.

    What changes Mankind is not that miracle-per-nano-second that would be needed to head-off every bit of evil inside of Mind / Man / Mankind (which would equate to us being automatons, which would run against His Will) but what changes / will change Mankind is Grace. “My grace is sufficient for you” is thus the truest of all possible answers to prayers requesting change where Evil is concerned. Grace will do what the miracle-per-nano-second could never do.

    I think it merits repeating: Only He can change “everything“, which He has done / is doing through His New Creation, though, it is clear that Man with Him can and does change some things here within Time that would not otherwise change but for Man in prayer with God. That Man is an actual Person with an actual will demonstrating an actual impact in / on such things, while irrational in materialism, is ontologically necessary and coherent within Christianity’s ontological end points.

  276. @Holopupenko:

    Just got back from Ukraine

    If you do not mind me asking, how are things there? What is the atmosphere? I have a couple of Ukrainian friends — I was talking to one not long ago with family near the Polish border.

    note to Tom Gilson: apologies for unashamedly going OT; hope you do not mind. If you do, just delete the comment.

  277. @301: OT so I’ll demur… plus, there’s too much to say. Very brief stream-of-consciousness: In western Ukraine, things are very quiet but tense. In eastern Ukraine, Russian thugs are being bused in across the border (photographic and video evidence) to beat people up. Western press reports are woefully ignorant. My prediction: Russia will soon invade (actually, small incursions have already started), possibly Friday or after, followed by war. Turkey is threatening to close the Bosporus strait to all Russian vessels–which it should do as a minimum… but we’re talking potential for a major regional conflagration. (I hope to God I’m wrong.) International agreements are now being looked at as non-binding because of Russia’s rejection of the Bucharest agreement (e.g., Iran is now openly questioning agreements with the west). Separatist movements all over the world are gaining traction… including Venice! Russia is hinting that the U.S. could be reduced to “nuclear ash,” and Putin is rightly laughing at the joke sanctions being imposed while suggesting western assets will be seized as a response (he’s already deporting westerners for traffic infractions). Three years after the start of the butchering in Syria, it continues unabated and Obama’s “red line” is a joke second only to him as president. Ukraine is (ignorantly but understandably, in my opinion) making overtures about renewing its nuclear weapons capabilities. Our Eastern European allies correctly view Obama as a spineless, ignorant, idealist, unreliable fool. Khodorkovsky’s speech on the Maidan was breathtaking. Etc., etc., etc.

  278. Hi schblrm,

    “Thus, once the rape happens, we say that God never willed it, and, also, should have been otherwise is grounded in that very Will of Love.”

    Where did you get “should have been otherwise”? Is it a phrase found in scripture?

    My problem with the word ‘should’ is that it seems to imply that everyone’s lives has been planned out and something has happened to interrupt that plan. This is obviously counter to the idea of free will. I can understand that we would ‘want’ things to be different but that’s different to the statement that things ‘should’ have been different.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  279. Shane,

    It’s simple. Should/Ought is grounded in Love’s Will. Ultimate Good. Man in his full felicity. The end of ad infinitum there is Immutable Love Himself, that fully singular, that fully triune Self-Other-Us, Who is the Unchanging and Timeless E Pluribus Unum.

    Part of that whole arena is, of course, that God Wills to not rape man and force him to choose X amid Self/Other/Us. That is to say, that the motion into and out-of Privation / God is availed him. Eden’s juxtaposition acquiesces to Gethsemane’s amalgamation in all possible actualizations, pending the Created Self’s delight/choice. What happens once that Marriage takes place is, we are told, over a horizon beyond which our current mind cannot even ask/imagine.

    Materialism has its own moral end of regress, Christianity another. I’ve no care to dance atop the grave of Euthyphro with you here.

    Contextually speaking, all that follows Genesis 3 is God in interaction within Time with Man in Man’s Privation, the activities of which there in the Outside, or – on definition – hell on earth, necessitate a Ceiling/Floor which is, on definition, fragmentation.

    A bunch of Laws and Rules are as hopeless (from there in the Outside) as is the miracle-per-nano-second we just discussed to fashion Man in His Image (from there in the Outside). Genesis 3’s Protoevangelium being the only hope.

    Perhaps you imply that we think that Love’s Will to create Man free to motion into / out-of Privation/God is the end of His Will? As if there awaits, from that point onward, some sort of empty void?

    How odd it would be for anyone to think that, given that it is so unscriptural.

    You seem to dislike it when I call God by the name of Love, but as He is the Unchanging E Pluribus Unum it serves its purpose in these discussions to ever remind us of the Means/Ends we speak of. Love’s Means/Ends for Man are, simply, Love Himself. There are no other Means which can fill In-Sufficiency but All-Sufficiency Himself there at the ends of the Timeless and Underived, thus the coherency of, necessity of, Love’s pouring-out unto/into the bitter ends of the derivations we call Time and Physicality, and, there are no Ends beyond the End of Ad Infinitum but Immutable Love Himself there at the ends of the Timeless and Underived, thus the coherency of, necessity of, Love’s pouring-out unto/into the bitter ends of the derivations we call Time and Physicality.

    Man cannot ascend but by Another’s Strength, on ontological necessity, as God cannot create God. It just cannot be otherwise in all possible actualizations that Love must come down, must pour out, must be debased, and Man must be raised up, must be filled up, must be glorified. Such is the case from the bitter ends of time and physicality to the end of ad infinitum, which just is God, that is to say, which just is E Pluribus Unum. There are plans for a Marriage, and such is The-Now, and, there are plans for the Groom and Bride on the other side of that amalgamation, though we are told we cannot, in our current condition, even imagine the tapestry of such things. While the Self is in God but the Great I AM, such is in any crated Self of necessity insufficiency, lack, want, need. Such privation is for any created Self the Outside. As for that Outside, the Pure-Self, that which is void of Self-Other, that which is – on definition – loveless, such is not His Will for Man, though such is of necessity availed Man, just as, such is not of necessity chosen by Man. Love/Marriage is the better choice. In fact, Love/Marriage is the best choice in all possible worlds, in all possible actualizations, as Ultimate Actuality just is Love, just is that fully singular, that fully triune Self-Other-Us, Who is the Timeless and Unchanging E Pluribus Unum.

  280. Shane,

    Your thinking isn’t wide enough. That is to say, your god isn’t big enough. You still seem to think that Eden houses a mysterious Con, which is unscriptural. You still seem to think that Love’s Means and Love’s Ends are contingent upon Man’s choice, which is unscriptural. The Hyper-Calvinist suffers the same annihilation of God’s Image as does the Universalist. The Highest Ethic, and, the Highest Reality to See / have Awareness of, and, the Highest Potential Condition, and, the Highest Condition, and, the Only Necessary Actuality, the only Necessary Being, is Immutable Love. In all possible worlds the Necessary Being cannot not-so-manifest.

  281. Hi scblhrm,

    “Perhaps you imply that we think that Love’s Will to create Man free to motion into / out-of Privation/God is the end of His Will? As if there awaits, from that point onward, some sort of empty void?

    How odd it would be for anyone to think that, given that it is so unscriptural.”

    Do you mean on earth? Obviously there is more to the story after death.

    Cheers
    Shane

  282. Eden, Earth, Gethsemane, God. All of it. The landscape is the same, all contextual definitions being necessarily derived from that fully singular, that fully triune Self-Other-Us Who is Immutable Love’s E Pluribus Unum.

  283. scblhrm, I’d like to ask you to speak more comprehensibly here, please. I’m afraid that you are in fact committing academic-speech in a non-academic-speech venue. For example:

    The coherence of the OT landscape’s description of the Ministry of Death, of Death Restrained, rather than Man’s annihilation, and rather than Man’s Privation incoherently “magically erased” finds a seamless line from Wholeness into Privations’ hell on earth into that new creation and into man’s final felicity, all of which maintains Love’s necessary landscape of E Pluribus Unum’s necessary Self-Other-Us both in wholeness and in that fragmentation which is lovelessness on ontological necessity.

    and

    In other words, the Inverse-Of, or, the Mirror-Image of the reality of should have been otherwise within Time just is the reality of can be otherwise within Time, each finding coherence in the other, each resting atop Love’s Willed Image as the end of regress.

    and

    Contextually speaking, all that follows Genesis 3 is God in interaction within Time with Man in Man’s Privation, the activities of which there in the Outside, or – on definition – hell on earth, necessitate a Ceiling/Floor which is, on definition, fragmentation.

    This might make sense in certain contexts (I’m not quite sure how, I’m afraid), but I’d like you to realize that it does not much advance the conversation here.

    That is not only my opinion; someone flagged it to me offline. I’ve been away, as you know. Now that I’ve returned and read some of this, I agree.

  284. Tom yes certainly. The analogy between our Fall with “the outside” and with “on definition hell here” is just to equate the notion of the OT landscape being that of something less than what God desires for us. Just the same, the analogy of the NT’s reference to the Law as “the ministry of death” is employed only to show that that Law (any law) just will not do the work which Christ ultimately did for us. The rigorous writhing you do here is obviously not being used in those sorts of loosely-flowing word “drawings”. Perhaps God’s options for Man after the Fall are 1) abandonment , or 2) annihilation, or 3) to just by miracle (against our will) “magically erase” our Fall (our Privation), or 4) to do what He did and (restrain death) and ultimately save us (etc.) These topics are (IMO) important in my discussions with atheists who do not take the OT on Scripture’s own terms as they seem to think the OT was supposed to somehow “cure us” or somehow bring moral excellence to our nature……..which of course only God can do. I hope you’ll accept my apology and thank you for your work here!