Category Archives: WWGHA
Yesterday, I spoke of the Blog for WWGHA totally messing up Christian doctrine. Mere rabbit trails compared to what the author really wants us to answer for him.
Thomas is asking for a theodicy that makes sense of the events of the last few years:
How can anyone love a “God” who allows hundreds of thousands of people to die in a tsunami, or dozens of people to get shot innocently in a movie theater? What parent would allow you siblings to die while they looked on laughing.
Semantically, Thomas is actually asking for a personal reason Christians can love a God that passively allows tragedy to occur. But I’m going to interpret him charitably here, assuming Thomas is asking for a theodicy: a logically argued resolution to the problem of evil in a world run by an omnipotent, omniscient God who could end evil but doesn’t.
Infinite wisdom, as the author of the target piece argues, isn’t really all that satisfying. Neither is the related “mystery” of God.
I’ve never really been that big a fan of the “free will defense,” since the Bible shows God quashing free will. However, the instances of God upholding free will vastly outnumber the instances of him preventing sin. So I think that free will, while not the answer, is a component of the bigger picture.
Greater good isn’t all that great by itself. Strobel’s Case for Faith has a great analogy about a bear trap. Suppose a bear is caught in a trap and you decide to free it. You can’t possibly do so without causing the animal more pain than he’s in, and there’s no possible way to explain to the animal that his increased pain will actually lead to total freedom. And so he’ll lash out at you while you try to free him in a misplaced effort to defend himself.
We lash out at God for people dying in tsunamis and for innocents getting shot in a movie theater. But what if all this is just part of the ultimate plan designed to free us from this bear trap? What if the pains we see and the suffering we endure are really leading up to the day when none of this pain and strife will be necessary? When the metaphorical hunter finally releases our leg and we can scamper pain-free into the woods?
I don’t think it’s the whole picture, but I think that the greater good defense has some merit to it.
This means I see merit to both free will and the greater good. And I think a synthesis of the two is the answer to all questions related to theodicy. Which leads me toward something I might call the Education Defense for Evil — it is necessary to have evil in this world to reveal God’s full character (wrath, love, and mercy), bring full glory to God at the culmination of history, and to reveal our own nature.
Evil serves a purpose (greater good) without being God’s purpose (free will).
I confess that while I’ve thought about this for a while now, I have little in the way of previous theodicy by any great thinker to back it up. The idea needs more development, but it is something I foresee I will be writing and researching more in the future. This seemed as good a time as any to introduce it, since I could scarcely criticize Thomas from WWGHA in the previous post without actually answering the one conundrum that was worthwhile.
I have completed two new proofs on my slow-going re-write of God is NOT Imaginary, a reply to that unfortunate spectacle of a website allegedly authored by Marshall Brain. The newbies:
As always, enjoy!
More questions from the Reddit thread that proposes questions theists can’t answer. These are focused on election/predestination.
If god knows everything that is and will ever be, and he knows that you will not accept him before you are even born, why would he send you to hell? You are essentially judged before you can do anything. What kind of “good” god would do that?
So, basically, if you don’t accept God’s free gift of grace, it’s his fault? No, no, no, no, no, no. The only way that someone is judged before he has a chance to do anything is if God actually creates the unbelief and decrees the sin leading to, nurturing, and sustaining the unbelief. God doesn’t do any of that; he knows all of that in advance.
“Knowing” that something is so is a far cry from “making” it so. The example I gave recently is rather crude, but it works. Ted gave Bill two choices. Either Bill could watch Eliza Dushku privately re-enact the scene where she models bikinis in The New Guy just for Bill, or Ted can slap Bill in across the face with a wet codfish.
Ted knows without a doubt that Bill will pick the bikini modeling thing. There can be no question in anyone’s mind, even if you haven’t seen Eliza model the bikinis in The New Guy, that Bill will pick that option. Ted didn’t make Bill pick that option. He only knew that Bill would select it.
In other words, God knowing that a creature will do X is not the same as God forcing a creature to do X. Or, more appropriately, ordering the universe in such a way that it is inescapable the creature will do X. Read the rest of this entry
A question from the Reddit thread of questions we theists supposedly can’t answer (but we really can, but if we do, then we’re full of it because we’re not supposed to have all of the answers, but if we don’t have all of the answers theism is false; atheism makes my head spin–I’m way too consistent in my personal judgments to ever embrace atheism!).
This question concerns hell, and it’s a common one:
How can God’s love be unlimited if there is hell?
Hell is a fate to which humans consign themselves. God is basically the ultimate respecter of persons. He has laid the cards on the table–no matter how deeply we penetrate the black box of existence, it becomes increasingly complex and ordered. No matter how far we probe the cosmos, the evident beginning of everything is found. Ultimately, it all points to a First Cause that is itself an intelligent creator–a person, God the Father.
Jesus, the second person of God–the Son, has revealed the Father to mankind by becoming one of us. The wrath of God against ungodliness has been appeased in the sacrifice of the Son to those who have faith (active faith, faith that does something; different from mere assent to a certain worldview).
From the Father and the Son comes the Holy Spirit, which is the evidence of God’s action in the world. He calls us, convicts us of our sin, and regenerates us in faith to become sons of God and conform to the image of Christ.
The cards are on the table, and they are many and obvious. But no one is coerced to love God. I don’t believe loving God is choice per se; rather, it is a revelation of something already inside you from the start. Being a Christian isn’t something that you do once in an altar call, but a lifelong journey of self-discovery.
If you refuse the free gift of grace, living life apart from God, God doesn’t snuff you out of existence (though we could argue that he would be justified in doing so). Instead, he allows you to remain in tact, living both on earth and into eternity. The soul was created for eternal fellowship with God, to snuff a person out of existence would be to violate the ontology of the soul. Make it something that it isn’t. So, what to do with the soul that rejects God?
Well, heaven with God wouldn’t be nice. If you rebel against and ultimately reject the fellowship of someone (such as divorcing a spouse), you don’t want to spend a solid second with that person ever again–let alone all of eternity! It would be worse torture than, well, hell. Cruel, even.
I’ve heard many an atheist express sentiments like this. Over the course of keeping this blog and venturing into discussion forums with various atheists (such as Theology Web, the Rational Response Squad discussion board, the Why Won’t God Heal Amputees forums, and the Is God Imaginary forums), I’ve heard several times over things like, “I’d rather spend eternity in hell than be in heaven with your God!”
This is predicted in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19-31). In it, a rich man dies and goes to (presumably) hell, while a beggar named Lazarus ascends to (presumably) heaven. When the rich man realizes that he’s lost, does he try to alter his fate? Nope–all he does is ask for a drink of water, something that would satisfy his immediate need only. Then, he wants to warn his family so that they won’t suffer the same fate. Notice: he doesn’t want out of hell!
This is why C.S. Lewis observed, wisely I think, that the doors of hell are locked from the inside. No one is there that doesn’t want to be there.
Hell is perdition and separation. It is, ultimately, what the sinner wants–total separation from God. God is giving him his way. However, for those who submit to God’s way rather than their own, glorification in heaven awaits, and eternal fellowship with God.
Belief is, by definition, the consideration of something unsupported by evidence. Because of this, it is inherently unfounded on truth.
Depends on what sort of belief is under consideration. Some beliefs are logical deductions based on other beliefs. These are founded on the truth of the beliefs that come before them. Others are grounding beliefs that have no evidence to support them one way or the other.
The problem with this statement is that it applies to atheists as well. Everyone, whether theist or atheist, starts somewhere in their structure of beliefs. Those presuppositions upon which a worldview is based are really the crux of the debate between atheism and theism. The theist starts with God, while the theist starts with nature.
I’ve also noticed that one atheist commented that one way they can tell that theists are full of “bullshit” is that we can answer every question. The scientist, it is reasoned, admits his limitation and is happy to say, “I don’t know” when he doesn’t know the answer. Theists, on the other hand, answer every question that the atheist proposes. Since we never seem to admit that we don’t know the answer, that means that we’re full of it.
So, basically, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Let me illustrate why.
The existence of a list such as this indicates that the atheist believes that we can’t answer every question proposed. That might be true. A few months after I started my main blog, I was forced to admit that I didn’t know the answer to the proposed dilemma:
So which is stronger, manfluence or Godfluence? Well, Hasic posits that man put the belief about God in the heads of children, and that the kids are responding to that belief, not to God. But this overlooks the fact that God determined the situation in which these kids were placed, not man. If they grow up Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim, He wanted that to happen for a reason known only to Him and that increases His glory somehow.
I don’t know why and there isn’t any way to find out (Job 37:5). (source, emphasis added)
There really are somethings that humans don’t know the answers to, and I’ve tried to be forthright about that. Now, usually when I do, the atheist in the argument immediately claims victory: “Ha! I found a question you don’t know the answer to! I win!”
Can’t have it both ways, guys. Either you want me to answer everything, or you want me to admit that I occasionally don’t have an answer. But you can’t claim victory when I have all of the answers, and also claim victory if I don’t have all the answers. We call that “stacking the deck.”
Because I couldn’t sleep, I wrote the answer to proof #11 in my newly updated response to God is Imaginary, that case study in inconsistency, incoherence, and special pleading. Insomnia has finally paid off. Enjoy!
Another question from that old Reddit thread that has questions designed to stump theists:
If the Bible is the word from God, and the word from God is perfect, why does it need interpretations? Why don’t you stone adulters or avoid wearing clothes made from mixed fibers as stated in the Bible? Why don’t you sacrifice animals to your God?
This is really two questions. First, Why does the word of God need to be interpreted? And second, Why don’t Christians adhere to the Old Testament Laws? Read the rest of this entry
“On the seventh day, he rested.”
So many thing wrong with that one statement, who would a god need to rest?
I don’t need to drink Pepsi, but I do. I don’t need to blog, but I do. I don’t need to pain miniatures, but I do. I don’t need to watch The People’s Court everyday, but I do. Shall I go on?
No where in the Bible does it say God needs to rest. It says that he does rest. Big difference.
A day is a measure of time on Earth, who did not exist.
It does now. What’s your point?
If he worked for 5 days on one planet, thats pretty damn slow, at that the rest of the universe would take a lot longer that 14 billion years.
Actually, Genesis 1:1 says that God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:2 says that the earth is there now, formless and void. So everything–the universe, the earth, etc–existed before Genesis 1:2 continues the narrative. Verses 3-31 show God ordering what already exists.
We can prove that the solar system took billions of years to form and used only 2 things, gravity and time.
Okay. So no matter or energy involved there? Just gravity? That’s an amazingly dense statement.
With that in mind, why would a god, any god make things by just waiting around for gravity to do what it does naturally? And theists will just say, “oh well god made gravity and put the wheels in motion”, ok well thats not how it says he does shit in the bible, so one of them must be wrong.
The Bible describes God as active in nature and using nature to achieve his ends. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit, which represents the active hand of God moving in the world around us. The book of Colossians describes it best:
He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (1:15-20, emphasis added)
Preeminence and sovereignty don’t always imply an active hand in every single detail that transpires, but it does imply that God worked everything to create what he desired. In him, it all hold together. It’s possible that both the people who say God set it in motion and the Bible which describes God as active are both correct.
And thats essentially the first thing in the bible, how can they assume anything else to be true after that?
Begging the question.
I told you this was lame.