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Show #3: Tough Questions for Christians I

Well, after over two years of radio silence, I decided to throw my hat into the podcasting ring once again. Rather than start over again, I’ll start from where I left off, which makes this show #3. In keeping with the theme of my YouTube videos, I’ll be fielding tough questions for Christians from various atheists.

The show schedule I’ve cooked up is to post a show on the 15th and the 30th of each month. I plan to continue that at least to the end of the year. Then I’ll make the decision to continue podcasating in 2011. Unfortunately, I’m posting the first show (intended for Sept. 30) late. Hopefully, I can get my act together and post the next ones on time.

First on the block is an answer to Douglas Crews, who wrote nine questions many, many years ago. His website is some kind of prehistoric blog, back in the days before the term was coined or the software existed.

You can download part one of the program here. It ran long, so I’ll be posting part 2 tomorrow.

I gave some URLs on the program for reference. Here they are, nice and clickable, to make things easier on the person who wants to research further into what I’m covering on the show:

My podcasting plan is to do two shows per month, on the 15th and the 30th. The next show will be October 15th and will cover some more tough questions for Christians that were posted on ex-christian.net back in 2003. Nothing like staying current, right?

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on October 6, 2010, in Podcast and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Cory-

    First of all, thanks for responding to my questions. You’re right that my website is pre-blog era and hasn’t been updated in three and a half forevers (in internet time anyway), so I appreciate that you took the time to consider my questions in the spirit they were intended (my wife thinks it’s too “in-your-face”, but I was going for “genuinely curious because I cannot understand your thought process”).

    Anyway, let me tackle the questions you answered in separate posts. The first was “how can God allow charlatans to speak in His name?”

    As I understand your answer, it’s that God foresaw that this would be the case and warned His followers to beware of it in the Bible. Is that essentially correct?

    If so, I don’t think it answers the question adequately. Now, I’m not thinking so much about the charlatans themselves — they’re either deluded or damned, and in your theology God will take care of them appropriately.

    No, I’m thinking of the flock. The good-hearted people hoping for a closer connection to the eternal, for a purpose in life, for hope. They find someone who appears to give these things to them, and they part with their sorely-needed money and their ever-shrinking time because they believe that this person has a connection to God.

    Perhaps they haven’t read the Bible closely enough to catch those warnings, but even if they did the human mind has an incredible facility to see evidence only for what it wants to see. And given the supreme importance of faith in Christian theology, it’s no surprise that the flock never even considers the possibility that the shepherd might be a wolf.

    “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
    In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
    Proverbs 3:5-6

    “Well, of course the Bible warns us about charlatans, but my own Reverend Neidsmorcasch isn’t like that — he’s so wise and faithful!”

    (BTW, you see the same dynamic in Congress — everybody hates Congress, but the same Congressmen keep getting reelected over and over and over and over…)

    They’re following sociopaths and charlatans who claim to speak for God, and God allows it to happen.

    If someone in your neighborhood went around saying “Cory Tucholski says that you should give me $5.00 or he’s gonna punch you in the nose”, wouldn’t you have a problem with that?

    I’m curious — how far afield from Christian teaching do you have to go before God would directly intervene? Abstaining from Communion and confession? Not being baptized? A preacher who claimed to be The Second Coming? How about starving your toddler to death for not saying “Amen” at mealtime?

    (Warning: this might give you nightmares)

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=9914570

    If I had known about little Javon Thompson’s torture and death, I would have done anything in my power to stop it.

    Why didn’t God?

    I’ll tackle #2 later. On a side note, please cut the volume of the background music when you’re talking. As much as I share your love of 80’s hair metal (more Bon Jovi, please!), it’s hard to listen to your words with David Coverdale singing in the background.

  2. Question #2: How can anyone enjoy Heaven knowing that at least one person they care about is writhing in eternal torment?

    Your answer, as I understand it, is that in order to be close to God certain sacrifices have to be made, and unsaved family and friends are part of that sacrifice. You don’t proffer an answer to the old joke:

    Q: Are you ignorant or apathetic?
    A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

    So we don’t know whether people in Heaven forget their loved ones ever existed or just don’t care about their torment, but it doesn’t matter. Neither one is an acceptable moral choice for me.

    You mention a little later in the podcast that you have a daughter that you love very much. Are you really telling us that in the event that you are saved and she is not, you will not care that she is tortured for eternity? Are you willing to tell her to her face that you choose your relationship with God over your relationship with her?

    (Please don’t. I don’t want to cause her any mental anguish.)

    I cannot fathom the mindset that would choose to be with an invisible, immaterial idea over your living, breathing family and friends. Sorry if I offend you with this, but I find that point of view to be profoundly immoral.

    Finally, allow me to close by recommending a link:

    http://www.ehow.com/about_5503508_warning-signs-cults.html

    More later, unless there’s no response here. I enjoy the debate, but I have better things to do than post responses which go unread and unanswered.

  3. No responses to my responses yet, so I’ll give it one more quickie before moving on.

    Your response to the morality of Numbers 31:17-18 focused on my supposed confusion regarding sexual slavery mores in ancient Mesopotamia. Even granting you the point (which I don’t necessarily), I’m far more concerned with the actions ordered by God against the Midianite noncombatants.

    Genocide, cold-blooded murder, senicide, and infanticide, not to mention slavery. They’re all there in just two verses.

    Cory, I ask you to put yourself in the position of a victorious Israelite soldier on that day. Moses sends forth the order to slay every remaining Midianite except the young girls. A Midianite woman cowers before you holding a baby in her arms. Two older children hide behind her skirts as she pleads for mercy, at least for her children if not for herself.

    Do you run your spear through her chest as God has commanded? Can you bring yourself to do the same for the baby? When the young boy sees his mother and baby brother killed before his eyes and runs away, do you chase him down and run your bloody spear through his heart too? Do you feel good about your glorious victory today?

    I submit to you that this order was the commandment of a monster. It goes against everything that Jesus taught us, and yet there it is celebrated in your most holy of books.

    Every time I read that passage, it disgusts me to my very core. If that’s God’s morality, then I want nothing to do with Him, even if He does exist.

    ***

    Cory, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to respond to my ancient excuse for a web site, and I wish you well in life. I think this is goodbye unless you let me know that you want to continue the discussion.

    • I replied to your first comment in last week’s podcast, here. I never told you that I did because I thought you were psychic. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket.

      I’m planning on rebutting the next two points you make on this Friday’s episode. I’ll address this quickie point later tonight (right now I can’t–darn kids!).

      Sorry I haven’t been more communicative about the rebuttals. Don’t stop sending them! I’ll try to get back to them more quickly than I have been.

  4. Douglas: Yeah, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Even if the slogan of this site is “Defending the Faith Against Its Detractors”, you don’t see Cory actually engaging much with the comments these days. He used to be better, but these days I think his idea of defense is to blog his opinions. He’ll probably tell us he’s too busy, that he hasn’t got enough time. Fair enough, although you would think that actual communication with people who wants to engage should rate higher than the one-way opinions of a blog or video posting, but it is, admittedly, harder and more time consuming.

  5. Cory, sorry, I was writing and posting last comment before yours appeared. Good to see you below the fold again.

    • I should have said yesterday: No hard feelings. I really haven’t been spending much time in the comments section. The beauty of blogs is that they’re more than just a one-way experience (unless you’re James White at Alpha & Omega Ministries, who purposely disables comments on all that he does). I should spend more time interacting with people who are interested in dialog. I may reach them for God. Or, a lurker may see it and realize that, while my arguments are as imperfect as I am, the conviction with which I believe in God and live that belief out must be explored, and he quietly gives his life to Christ.

      Yeah, I’m an optimist. All I can do is lay my case out as best as I can. God, I have faith, will do the rest. At the very least, I’ll come off as a person worth following and my readership will increase, which has always been a completely and utterly undisguised goal. I mean, who wants to write stuff that no one reads? 🙂

  6. I don’t want to spend my eternity watching my daughter, mother, brother, sister, or even worst enemy in a literal burning fire for eternity, that is insane.

  7. Bible Study, I completely agree. But what’s really insane is the idea that anyone — anyone — deserves eternal torment. Hitler does not deserve eternal torture. Stalin does not deserve eternal torture. Those profoundly evil men, and others like them throughout history who caused the death of millions, will suffer the same eternal punishment for their crimes that I will (in your theology) for simply not being able to believe in your God.

    *That’s* insane.

    • Wow. So many errors.

      First, who says hell is physical torture? Hell is eternal shame (not torture) and I (along with many theologians) doubt that a person will have a physical body to torture in hell. The identity of the hell-bound are wrapped up in earthly, material things. So much so, that when they lose those things (death), their individual identity will also be lost. The elect, by contrast, are taught to let go of earthly ties. This helps maintain their identity in eternity, since their identity is bound up with heavenly things (which they have now realized).

      Let’s leave aside the falsity of hell as torture. You further believe that “eternal torture” is classified under the category of “horrendous evil,” per Marilyn McCord Adams. Horrendous evil, in your mind, is never justified. Here’s the problem. You are only assuming that hell is a horrendous evil, and you’re assuming that everyone shares the view with you that hell is horrendous evil. Neither premise is demonstrably so.

      This is my own surmising; if I cover Dr. Adams’s response it is purely by coincidence as I have never read her essay “Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God.” To be classified as horrendous, the evil must be completely unjustified. I hope that you agree with that notion; the Holocaust was unjustified, for example. You implicitly allude that hell is always unjustified, even against people that you and I both agree are wholly evil. However, hell can’t be a horrendous evil if its existence can be justified. Let me explain why hell is justified; a necessary evil rather than a horrendous one.

      The soul is eternal. God created all souls to be that way, even the ones that will eventually (by his design, according to my own Reformed theology–more on that design briefly) wander from the straight path. The drawback of having a choice is that it is logically possible to choose poorly. The rub of it is, since God created the soul to be an eternal vessel, he is honor-bound to do right by that. Which leaves us with the problem of what to do with the folks who wander from the straight path.

      God could just take everyone into his presence in heaven. The problem with that is that God would then be taking some people kicking and screaming–literally. Some people don’t want anything to do with him, even if it could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he exists (you expressed a similar sentiment, as I recall–and you aren’t the only atheist that has ever told me that). Since God isn’t going to go back on the creation of an eternal soul, hell becomes a necessary evil to dispose of the souls of the people who want nothing to do with God without destroying them utterly. God is giving those souls their desire, while retaining his honor in creating a soul to be eternal in the first place.

      Obviously, since I explained how hell could be justified, I don’t share your other implicit point: that hell is unjustifiable and therefore a horrendous evil.

      So much more can be said on this topic. Peter Kreeft likens a soul to a specific trajectory, and hell is merely the logical destination of a soul on its trajectory. This life builds the foundation, while eternity is the projection of the foundation one has already built–if a person builds a square via his life, eternity will see him as a cube. James White speaks of God’s glory in revealing each of his attributes to his creation–including his wrath. In order to reveal his wrath properly, God must have vessels of dishonor upon which to pour out his wrath. Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to consider these excellent points.

      The last point you make is that you, I presume a decent human being, will suffer the same fate as Hitler, a mass murderer. You think both of you will suffer this fate because you don’t believe in “my” God.

      Leaving aside how incredibly presumptuous and offensive I find it when atheists refer to the Lord as “my God” (as if dispossessing him can somehow alter the trajectory that their soul is on) I can confidently say that you are not going to go to hell just because of your unbelief. You are going to hell because at your core you are a sinner–as am I! The difference between the two of us is that I’ve admitted this openly and publicly, and I’ve placed my unquestioning trust in Jesus, that through his death and Resurrection, he has secured a (profoundly undeserved) place for me in heaven. You probably still believe that you’re a “good” person, not in need of a Savior–and compared to Hitler, who doesn’t come out looking good?

      Trick is, Hitler is not the standard of holiness, is he? God is the standard, and he is perfect and without sin. He defines morality.

      Now let’s consider if you will receive the same fate as Hitler. You will receive the same fate: Hell. For eternity. But are you going to experience the same degree of punishment? Doubtful. The consequences for real life sin vary greatly, why should eternity be any different?

      Example. I struggle with pornography addiction. In the view of Jesus, viewing another woman with lust is the same as adultery. What are the real world consequences of my wife discovering that I’ve looked at porn? She cries, lays a guilt trip on thick, threatens to leave for good next time, and won’t talk to me civilly for a few days.

      Hypothetically, what if I actually cheated on her instead of just looking at dirty pictures? Well, most likely she would pack both children up and head to her parents’ house immediately (without passing GO and without collecting $200), she would throw things (plates, knives, etc.) at me if I were in the house at the moment of her discovery, I could kiss civil conversations goodbye for years (if we ever had one again), her father and brothers would probably do some jail time because they took turns assaulting me until I bled, and the divorce papers would be in my mailbox in less than two weeks. These consequences are far more serious. I think that hell works the same way.

      Once in the presence of God, even the most righteous among men fell to their faces, realizing their complete failure to live up to the standard that they were beholding. Imagine now that a wholly evil person–like Hitler–stood in the presence of God. The divine splendor could instantly rend him apart! If those that are declared righteous (like Isaiah) merely felt sickened at themselves in God’s presence, then the degree of sick must be proportionately greater for those who have failed miserably at being a decent human being.

      Your fate is the same as Hitler, but the degree of punishment is far less. This eternity will be more tolerable for you, relatively speaking. It will still be horrid and no one should wish it on you, but it will be far more tolerable than Hitler’s eternity.

      Remember, however, that you are not going there solely because of your unbelief. Your unbelief is only a symptom of the real problem; the main reason that you’re going to hell is sin. You love your sin, and you want to continue in it. Before you accuse me of theological mumbo-jumbo, remember that in another comment you directly stated, “If that’s God’s morality, then I want nothing to do with Him, even if He does exist.” That’s the crux of your problem. You don’t give a lick about his existence; it’s the morality he shows that is your real problem.

      All of that is a symptom of your sin. Consider the hubris you demonstrate in trying to declare yourself morally superior to God, who is (by his own nature) the definition of goodness, righteousness, impartiality, and the grounding of morality. All of this sin I have just pointed out is the reason that you’re going to hell. Your unbelief is only a symptom of this sin for which you will be judged.

      • [quote]
        First, who says hell is physical torture? Hell is eternal shame (not torture) and I (along with many theologians) doubt that a person will have a physical body to torture in hell.
        [/quote]

        Torture is torture, whether physical or mental. God knew of my fate when He created me (according to mainstream Christian theology), so I consider the act of creating me to be a moral evil.

        [quote]
        The identity of the hell-bound are wrapped up in earthly, material things. So much so, that when they lose those things (death), their individual identity will also be lost. The elect, by contrast, are taught to let go of earthly ties. This helps maintain their identity in eternity, since their identity is bound up with heavenly things (which they have now realized).
        [/quote]

        Including, as you admit, loved ones who are not saved. I reject this idea wholeheartedly.

        [quote]
        Let’s leave aside the falsity of hell as torture. (snip)
        [/quote]

        I hardly think I’m alone in this belief. I refer you to Matthew:

        13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
        13:50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

        and Mark:

        9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
        9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
        9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
        9:46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
        9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
        9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

        and of course, Revelations:

        14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
        14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

        20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
        20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

        [quote]
        Let me explain why hell is justified; a necessary evil rather than a horrendous one.

        The soul is eternal. God created all souls to be that way, even the ones that will eventually (by his design, according to my own Reformed theology–more on that design briefly) wander from the straight path. The drawback of having a choice is that it is logically possible to choose poorly. (snip) God is giving those souls their desire, while retaining his honor in creating a soul to be eternal in the first place.
        [/quote]

        In that case, Hell is nothing to be feared. But you appear to be in conflict with the Bible.

        [quote]
        The last point you make is that you, I presume a decent human being, will suffer the same fate as Hitler, a mass murderer. You think both of you will suffer this fate because you don’t believe in “my” God.

        Leaving aside how incredibly presumptuous and offensive I find it when atheists refer to the Lord as “my God” (as if dispossessing him can somehow alter the trajectory that their soul is on)…
        [/quote]

        I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, but aren’t you being just as presumptuous that you are correct and I am wrong? I refer to “your God” because I also reject the god of Islam, the god of Judaism (and of course some believe they are all manifestations of the same eternal being, while others will commit mass murder because they are so different), the gods of Hinduism, and any others that I see no evidence for. But for the sake of not causing unnecessary provocation, if the phrase “your God” offends thee, let us cut it off and just refer to “God”. I’ll try to remember, but if I slip up please don’t assume it’s to provoke you.

        [quote]
        …I can confidently say that you are not going to go to hell just because of your unbelief. You are going to hell because at your core you are a sinner–as am I! The difference between the two of us is that I’ve admitted this openly and publicly, and I’ve placed my unquestioning trust in Jesus (snip)
        [/quote]

        Who says I’ve not admitted being a sinner? Wow, talk about presumption!

        [quote]
        Trick is, Hitler is not the standard of holiness, is he? God is the standard, and he is perfect and without sin. He defines morality.
        [/quote]

        I’ve covered my objections to this with the Numbers 31 discussion. God’s morality is clearly not mine, and yes, given that my morality does not condone slavery or the cold-blooded killing of children, I judge mine to be better.

        [quote]
        Example. I struggle with pornography addiction. In the view of Jesus, viewing another woman with lust is the same as adultery.
        [/quote]

        It’s brave of you to admit this publicly. But don’t you wonder why God created you that way?

        [quote]
        Your fate is the same as Hitler, but the degree of punishment is far less. This eternity will be more tolerable for you, relatively speaking. It will still be horrid and no one should wish it on you, but it will be far more tolerable than Hitler’s eternity.
        [/quote]

        Earlier you described Hell as “eternal shame (not torture)”, but now you use words like “horrid” and “punishment”. Horrid punishment is torture in my book.

        [quote]
        Remember, however, that you are not going there solely because of your unbelief. Your unbelief is only a symptom of the real problem; the main reason that you’re going to hell is sin. You love your sin, and you want to continue in it.
        [/quote]

        Remember above when you accused me of being presumptuous and offensive for using the phrase “your God”? You can get off your high horse now.

        Most of this discussion has been related to how my morality differs from God’s, notably in not allowing eternal torture or the killing of children or slavery, among other things. I’ve certainly done many hedonistic things in my life (not as many as I wished when I was younger, to be sure!), but hedonism is not even on the radar as far as my objection to Christian theology.

        Ah, but reading further, you address this.

        [quote]
        Before you accuse me of theological mumbo-jumbo, remember that in another comment you directly stated, “If that’s God’s morality, then I want nothing to do with Him, even if He does exist.” That’s the crux of your problem. You don’t give a lick about his existence; it’s the morality he shows that is your real problem.

        All of that is a symptom of your sin. Consider the hubris you demonstrate in trying to declare yourself morally superior to God, who is (by his own nature) the definition of goodness, righteousness, impartiality, and the grounding of morality. All of this sin I have just pointed out is the reason that you’re going to hell. Your unbelief is only a symptom of this sin for which you will be judged.
        [/quote]

        You’re right, that is the crux of the problem. God is defined as the ultimate moral standard of all that is good, and yet He appears to condone and/or command things which I find morally detestable.

        Your solution appears to be blind faith in an abstract idea for which (I’m assuming) you have never had physical proof of its existence, and which conflicts with the teachings of your most holy book.

        My solution is to use the brain that God gave me to the best of my ability to discern the truth of my existence and to live the best life I can. The fact that I am to be horribly punished for eternity for this only serves to prove my point.

      • Before I take on any of this, I need the reader to make a mental note each and every time that Doug uses a phrase beginning with “I” when arguing about correct morality. I help the reader by boldfacing all such phrases. I’m pointing this out at the start, subject to connection at the end.

        Torture is torture, whether physical or mental. God knew of my fate when He created me (according to mainstream Christian theology), so I consider the act of creating me to be a moral evil.

        With no job as of now, I’m a stay-at-home dad and I frequently watch the courtroom reality shows: Judge Mathis, Judge Marilyn Milian, Judge Jeanine Pirro, and (my favorite) Judge Judy. On an episode of Judge Mathis, a kid asked if he had an obligation to report a hit-and-run accident to the police if he was a passenger in the car that did the hit-and-run.

        Mathis told him, and this may surprise you, “NO.” He is not, in fact, obligated to report the crime. The police can’t charge him with anything unless he aided in the crime, was an accessory after the fact, or he obstructed the investigation.

        I don’t believe that God should be tried in our courtrooms, since he is Judge over us. But, assuming for a minute that those same legal standards apply to God, then his foreknowledge of your eventual fate doesn’t constitute a chargeable offense in any courtroom unless he aided your sin, helped you conceal your sin, or obstructed justice somehow. He didn’t do any of those things. He made you with the free will to do as you please, which is exactly what you’re doing. How is he culpable just by creating you? I’m not following that at all. Apparently, neither would Judge Mathis.

        Including, as you admit, loved ones who are not saved. I reject this idea wholeheartedly.

        We are likely going to have to agree to disagree on this point. I can’t explain or defend it any better than I already have.

        Next, the biblical record appears to be against me as far as hell being a literal fire and brimstone with physical torture. At least to our modern appreciation of the Bible. You’ve thoughtfully provided a litany of verses to prove me wrong, which when placed in their proper Scriptural and cultural context, don’t actually side with you:

        • Matthew 13:49-50
        • Mark 9:43-48
        • Revelation 14:10-11
        • Revelation 20:10, 15

        Let’s examine each concept discussed.

        Fire: In apocalyptic literature, fire represents judgment. So the fire that can’t be quenched is referring to an eternal judgment.

        Weeping and gnashing of teeth: ANE phrases associated with shame and humiliation. Again, fitting my description.

        The worm dieth not: Jesus is metaphorically connecting hell to Gehenna, which was a place outside the city where the trash was heaped. Invoking this imagery would be tantamount to ostracism, which is especially relevant to other places where hell is referred to as the “outer darkness.” God is light, and there is no darkness in him (1 Jn 1:5). People shamed are isolated, and those in hell will also be isolated, but this time from God.

        [If hell is a necessary evil], Hell is nothing to be feared. But you appear to be in conflict with the Bible.

        Begging the question. If hell is a necessary evil, then why is it nothing to be feared? Evil is still evil, necessary or superfluous. It’s necessary to go to the dentist if you want healthy teeth, yet many people fear that.

        I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, but aren’t you being just as presumptuous that you are correct and I am wrong? I refer to “your God” because I also reject the god of Islam, the god of Judaism (and of course some believe they are all manifestations of the same eternal being, while others will commit mass murder because they are so different), the gods of Hinduism, and any others that I see no evidence for. But for the sake of not causing unnecessary provocation, if the phrase “your God” offends thee, let us cut it off and just refer to “God”. I’ll try to remember, but if I slip up please don’t assume it’s to provoke you.

        WOW. Okay, first of all, are you approaching this discussion with the presumption that you are correct (remember all of the first-person references to morality that you make?)? Because if you’re not, then why are you even arguing? You may as well concede that I’m correct. If I didn’t think I was right, then why would be an apologist in the first place? The objective of apologetics is to prove the veracity of Christianity by rational argument, in conjunction with faith. If I thought I was wrong, I would suck as an apologist.

        You’ve hit a second thing that annoys me.

        I hate when people refer to God as “my God” as much as people calling it the book of Revelations (you’ve pulled a hat trick on annoying me!). But I don’t think that you did these things to deliberately provoke me. Or, you did, because you’ve read previous posts where I’ve used name-calling and ridicule, so you’re trying to get me to do that here so that you can pull the “That’s not Christ-like behavior” card. Sorry. I’m repenting of that behavior!

        Who says I’ve not admitted being a sinner? Wow, talk about presumption!

        Most atheists deny the existence of sin. You have hinted elsewhere that you believe that you are a good person (basically). So I don’t think this is far off from the truth, however I probably should have phrased it better. Admitting that you’re a sinner is admitting that you need to be fixed, and if you’ve admitted that, then you are a cut above the atheists that I’ve talked to.

        I’ve covered my objections to this with the Numbers 31 discussion. God’s morality is clearly not mine, and yes, given that my morality does not condone slavery or the cold-blooded killing of children, I judge mine to be better.

        As I’ve said before, all sin is deserving of death. God has every right to use Israel as the instrument of judgment. He used the Assyrians and the Babylonians to judge Israel when Israel departed from his commandments. You only see the brutality of the Israelites. The real point of the story is God’s judgment on sin; the writers of the Bible are trying to demonstrate God’s hatred of sin and his wrath on the unrighteous.

        It’s brave of you to admit [your pornography addiction] publicly. But don’t you wonder why God created you that way?

        Yes, yes I have. So?

        Earlier you described Hell as “eternal shame (not torture)”, but now you use words like “horrid” and “punishment”. Horrid punishment is torture in my book.

        All torture is horrid punishment, but not all horrid punishment is torture.

        Remember above when you accused me of being presumptuous and offensive for using the phrase “your God”? [Since you’ve accused me of loving my sin,] [y]ou can get off your high horse now.

        If you didn’t love your sin, you’d submit to the Lordship of God. You clearly don’t. I’m not on a high horse, I’m stating a fact. In the next paragraph, you say that you haven’t done as many hedonistic things as you would have liked to have done earlier in life. For me to be on a high horse, I’d have to be wrong. But I’m not, and you admit as much in your next paragraph.

        Most of this discussion has been related to how my morality differs from God’s, notably in not allowing eternal torture or the killing of children or slavery, among other things. I’ve certainly done many hedonistic things in my life (not as many as I wished when I was younger, to be sure!), but hedonism is not even on the radar as far as my objection to Christian theology. . . .

        You’re right, [sin and unbelief] is the crux of the problem. God is defined as the ultimate moral standard of all that is good, and yet He appears to condone and/or command things which I find morally detestable.

        Your solution appears to be blind faith in an abstract idea for which (I’m assuming) you have never had physical proof of its existence, and which conflicts with the teachings of your most holy book.

        As above, what I’ve said is different than what you think the Bible said. Looking at it from the point of view of its historic context, and how the hearers/readers would have understood it, my proposal is right on.

        My solution isn’t blind faith. I’ve gone into this with both eyes open. How is it blind faith if I’ve actually faced these difficult issues head on? The fact is that I truly believe that God is living entity, not an abstract concept. The nature of his existence is an abstract, but so is the nature of our own existence. As Morpheus once wisely observed, “What is real?”

        My solution is to use the brain that God gave me to the best of my ability to discern the truth of my existence and to live the best life I can. The fact that I am to be horribly punished for eternity for this only serves to prove my point.

        Hardly. You’ve compared “your morality” to God’s morality dozens of times, and each time yours comes out on top. But what is the ultimate grounding of your morals? Personal opinion?

        The truth is, the ultimate grounding for your morality is your personal opinion, which is the reason that the pronoun “I” creeps into every phrase describing “morality” as you understand it. If you have nothing else to ground your morality in but mere opinion, then you might as well just declare it open season on everyone who annoys you. “But your honor, in my personal moral system, which can’t be challenged since morals have no ultimate grounding, it’s okay to kill idiots.” Yeah. That’s going to fly.

        But I doubt you live that out consistently. If morality is mere opinion, then why are you making statements to me that assume killing children and enslaving people are immoral as though I’m going to share this opinion? I’ll answer: you know I’m going to share your sentiment. You know this because there is a real, objective morality that exists, and killing children and enslaving people is wrong by its standards.

        If you lived out your underlying assumption of subjective morality based on individual opinion, then you would’ve spent time in your replies ensuring that we both marked “killing children” and “forcible slavery” in the IMMORAL column. Since you didn’t do that, you believe (rightly) that I condemn such actions based on our shared sense of morality.

        What, then, grounds the morality?

  8. God is not evil. Those who don’t understand him and his word are if they believe he is. God is Love.

  9. >>I<< am enjoying this discussion very much, but unfortunately Real Life has gotten "interesting" so my response will have to wait a few days.

    Thanks, Cory.

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