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Questions Theists Can’t Answer, Election/Predestination

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

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Theological Quibble: Decision for Christ

A local church ran an ad that was summarized by the following list:

  1. God is real.
  2. God wants a personal relationship with you through his Son, Jesus Christ.
  3. One day, everything will change.  God will be done waiting.  After that, the matter will be settled.
  4. But for some, possibly you too, the matter may be settled today.
  5. Decide right now to accept the free gift that Jesus offers.
  6. Pray–a prayer like the one listed below–God will save you!

The prayer they list:

God, here I am.  I believe in you.  I believe in Jesus.  I want to live the rest of my days for you.  Please forgive my mistakes and help me to grow to be who you want me to be.  Thank you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Whoo-boy.  Where to begin? Read the rest of this entry

Dumbest Tweet I’ve Read in a While

I’ve complained that arguing via Twitter is a bad idea.  The problem is that you get 140 characters to make your point, and that’s it.  So reading a tweet that’s truly stupid, but requires more than 140 characters to respond to, creates a dilemma.  There’s TwitLonger for some of those cases, or I can link it up to my blog as I’m doing in this case, but there’s no way to know how many people will actually read the reply.

Another issue is, while you might reply to the person that said it, and you include “@” + their Twitter name so they will see it, not everyone who read the tweet will see it.  This is complicated by the fact that users can retweet posts that they like, spreading the message (but no replies) far and wide.

And, there are far more atheists using Twitter than theists.  Which means that, when an atheist says something that’s plain ignorant but is catchy nonetheless, it is going to get read and retweeted dozens of times.  Even if a theist writes a reply, the damage is already done.  Few (if any) will see the reply.

Twitter user Monicks (whose real name appears to be Monica), has the ignorant tweet of (perhaps) the year.  Maybe not, since we’re only in April (the best month of the year, and yesterday was the best day of the year).  But it’s still pretty ignorant.  Monica says:

I’m not subscribed to Monica, so the only reason I saw it is because she was retweeted by ThinkAtheist, who I do subscribe to.  Monica has 5,609 subscribers and ThinkAtheist has 8,934 subscribers.  That particular tweet was retweeted by at least 12 other users, so it looks like way more people have seen that tweet than will ever see this reply.  But I wanted to try anyway. Read the rest of this entry

Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, part 9

Former Christian turned atheist DaGoodS (DGS) has compiled a list of eleven questions that he doesn’t think Christians can answer. I’ve decided to take him on, since I’m a sucker for questions that Christians supposedly can’t answer. Hopefully, DGS and I can learn something from each other.

I temporarily skipped questions #7 and #8 since they deal with unfamiliar territory. My familiar ground is philosophy, and those two questions deal with science. I will answer both tomorrow, to finish off this series. Which means that only question #11 will be dealt with today, and it’s a short one:

If God has mercy, doesn’t this render his justice arbitrary?

Mercy is selective by nature. When God has mercy, he is selecting certain people for salvation and passing over the rest for damnation. In DGS’s mind, selective automatically equals arbitrary. That’s a non sequitur.

If I wish to purchase a laptop, I need to think about a few things first. Primarily, my career field is going to be freelance writing, with emphasis on philosophy and Christian apologetics. According to freelance writing gurus like Bob Bly, the modern freelance writer needs reliable Internet access. Nearly all business for freelancers is conducted online these days.

Open source programs like OpenOffice.org for articles and short stories, Scribus for graphic designs and layouts, and CeltX for screenplays take care of most of my writing needs. Therefore, preinstalled software isn’t an important factor for me. I can customize my laptop with almost anything I need from the open source community.

The primary thing I’m looking at is WiFi access so I can work on the go, a big enough monitor that won’t cause eyestrain, and a comfortable keyboard since I’m prone to marathon-writing sessions. Carpal tunnel syndrome is not an option for me!

It looks like a laptop is going to be the way I’d go. Notebooks aren’t going to have a big enough keyboard or enough resolution for the monitor. I would like a physical keyboard, so most tablet PCs are also out. This is me being selective as to the sort of laptop that I’m going to eventually purchase.But, is that arbitrary?

The criteria I set forth are reasonable and help me discern what I’m going to invest time and money into. Though I’m being selective, none of these criteria are randomly chosen; I have a reason for each one. And this is how God works also: he had a reason for each elect soul he chose for the glory of heaven, predicated on his love and the good pleasure of his will.

Arbitrary would be if God were rolling dice as he made each soul, and only saving the souls on which he also rolled double sixes. But that’s not what happens; instead, God has a purpose for each soul made and a further reason for each soul he saves.

The rub is that we don’t know his criteria for who is saved and who is not. It’s not specifically revealed in Scripture. We know only that it has nothing to do with any perceived worth in the creature.

There is so much more. Election is a rich and dynamic doctrine, and I’ve already defended it extensively. More information is available here.

Answers to Tough Questions #1-3

In my recent podcast, I told a lie.

I said that the first three videos in the series answering Shawn, aka “azsuperman01” were up. That’s because when I recorded the introduction, the videos were written but not recorded or produced. I had planned to record and produce those videos prior to the podcast “airing.” Well, that didn’t happen.

So, finally, I have gotten around to producing the videos. Here they are:

Question #1: When Can God Forgive?

Question #2: Crimes of Mankind

Question #3: Free Will