Before leaving behind Denis Lamoureux’s book I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution, there is one lengthy excerpt I would like to present. If I presented only a small portion of this you would think I was taking it out of context. If I paraphrased it you would not believe me. I will simply have to present the whole thing, as a painful illustration of the sheer depths to which special pleading can aspire.

Here is Lamoureux’s explanation of why God of love would do his creating through a cruel and wasteful process like evolution. I promise you I am not making this up.

This question needs to be answered in three parts. First, let’s put this in perspective: God can do whatever He wants. This may seem blunt, but after all, he is God. He could have made the world as understood by either young earth creation or progressive creation, since it is well within His power to do so. Obviously, it is the Creator’s decision, no matter what assumptions or expectations we may have. If He created us through evolution, who are we to question His choice of creative method? As the apostle Paul asks, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?”

Second, we must always remember that faith is foundational to our existence. The Bible clearly states that it is a requirement for our relationship with the Lord. In a wonderful chapter explaining the meaning of faith, the author of the book of Hebrews begins:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

We might be “sure” and “certain” that God made the world, but ultimately, this assuredness is rooted in faith. As the Metaphysics-Physics Principle underlines, everyone makes a leap of faith. Therefore, all attempts at proving the existence of the Creator through science are not biblical. The problem with the anti-evolutionary positions is that they try to put God into a test tube in order to prove that He exists. If the geological record aligned with the scientific predictions of either young earth creation or progressive creation, then there would be no debate. This would be incontestable proof for the existence of the God of the Bible. Accepting the Lord would be limited to science and simple logic, nothing more. And if this were the case, faith would not be required “to understand that the universe was formed at God’s command.”

Finally, to answer the question in the title of this subsection directly, I believe that God created through evolution because an evolutionary world is the perfect stage upon which to develop a genuine relationship with Him. In stating that creation is perfect, I am not affirming the traditional belief in an original paradise. The notion of an idyllic age is ancient science with no correspondence to reality, Instead, this “very good” evolved creation does not force us to believe in God, because it offers an environment within which we have real freedom to accept or reject Him. If anti-evolutionary fossil patterns existed they would crush free choice. A young earth creation or progressive creation would be coercive and it would destroy human freedom. But an evolutionary creation allows men and women to view evolution as nothing but a dystelelogical natural process, and to assume that no Creator exists. At the same time, in an evolved world we can see reflections of intelligent design pointing toward our Maker, and we have the freedom to pursue a personal relationship with Him. Both options are open to us.

The God of Love does not force Himself upon us, because that is not the nature of love. In the same way that you cannot coerce anyone into loving you, it is impossible for the Lord to make you love Him. An evolutionary creation is the ideal wolrd in which to fall in love with God and to experience His unfathomable love for us. It is the perfect creation where we can truly and freely fulfill Jesus’ commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

The mind reels.

There is so much here to object to, but I will mention just one thing. Lamoureux’s attitude here is deeply un-Biblical. He is suggesting that human beings can reason their way to the God of Christianity if only the scientific facts work out just right. From a Biblical perspective, that is nonsense. There is no set of facts that can lead you to faith. If the scientific facts generally confirmed the creation account in Genesis, people would have no difficulty in finding other reasons to reject God. Let us recall John 3 19-21:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

It is not lack of facts that drives us from God. It is our love of darkness, which in turn is the result of our sinful nature, that does that.

According to the Bible, at any rate.

Comments

  1. #1 Brian
    March 4, 2010

    His unfathomable love for us. Love? Don’t think so. If somebody tells me that unless I love them before a certain moment they will torture me from then on I wouldn’t call that loving. More like a threat.

  2. #2 NewEnglandBob
    March 4, 2010

    Poor Lamoureux. He must have been hit in the head at a young age.

  3. #3 Lenoxus
    March 4, 2010

    If I ever marry, I hope my future wife doesn’t have the kind of “faith” in me that Christians have in their god. Seriously.

    “But honey, by sleeping with your best friend, I was testing you! Just think — if I were a perpetually devoted husband, always there when you needed me, you would consequently lack the free ability to reject me! That’s how you know I’m near-perfect — because I lie and cheat on occasion! That’s how you know I truly care!”

    God always wins. Always.

    (Not to mention that this basic thesis is repeatedly contradicted in the Bible again and again and again and again by people who, if the Bible is correct, had every reason to believe in God’s existence and ability to punish wrongdoing — from Adam and Eve to the idol-worshiping Israelites. I imagine Lamoureux might say in response that those are just stories.)

  4. #4 Andrew G.
    March 4, 2010

    From a Biblical perspective, that is nonsense. There is no set of facts that can lead you to faith.

    Of course, the bible being what it is, you can equally argue the reverse; Romans 1:18-20 (ESV, emphasis mine)

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

  5. #5 Shane Kretky
    March 4, 2010

    “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

    “But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”

    “Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t though of that” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

  6. #6 mrcreosote
    March 4, 2010

    “The God of Love does not force Himself upon us, because that is not the nature of love. In the same way that you cannot coerce anyone into loving you, it is impossible for the Lord to make you love Him.”

    If you love something, set it free. If it doesn’t come back to you, hunt it down and kill it.

  7. #7 Josh Rosenau
    March 4, 2010

    Jason: “From a Biblical perspective, that is nonsense. There is no set of facts that can lead you to faith.” Lamoureux: “all attempts at proving the existence of the Creator through science are not biblical.”

    I frankly don’t see where Lamoureux says the things you dispute, and indeed he seems to be specifically refuting most of the positions you put in his mouth. I haven’t read the book, so maybe this passage is unrepresentative. But it sure looks like you are reinforcing his points while saying you’ve refuted them. He isn’t claiming that scientific facts lead one to God, he’s saying that an evolving world is sufficiently undesigned in appearance that it leaves observers with a chance to choose belief or nonbelief freely. As he puts it: “an evolutionary creation allows men and women to view evolution as nothing but a dystelelogical natural process, and to assume that no Creator exists. At the same time, in an evolved world we can see reflections of intelligent design pointing toward our Maker, and we have the freedom to pursue a personal relationship with Him. Both options are open to us.”

  8. #8 Jason Rosenhouse
    March 5, 2010

    Josh -

    Did you miss this part?

    The problem with the anti-evolutionary positions is that they try to put God into a test tube in order to prove that He exists. If the geological record aligned with the scientific predictions of either young earth creation or progressive creation, then there would be no debate. This would be incontestable proof for the existence of the God of the Bible. Accepting the Lord would be limited to science and simple logic, nothing more.

    That’s the part I described as unbiblical. If the geological record aligned with the scientific predictions of YEC or progressive creation that absolutely would not be the end of the debate. According to the Bible people would still reject the conclusion because though they have seen the light they prefer the darkness. For that matter, the YEC’s themselves do not generally claim to have incontestable proof for the reality of the God of the Bible. Usually their claim is that the balance of the evidence should incline one in that direction but that you still need to have faith to get all the way there.

    The whole point of this section is to explain why God used evolution to do his creating, as opposed to YEC or progressive creationism. Lamoureux’s answer is that by creating through evolution God ensured that we would not have conclusive proof of His existence. That only makes sense if you believe that it is possible in principle to have scientific facts that would conclusively prove the God of the Bible. The facts we actually find do not force us o such a conclusion. The alternative set of facts we would have found had God created by YEC or progressive creation would force us to that conclusion, according to Lamoureux. It is that conclusion that the Bible contradicts.

  9. #9 Damian
    March 5, 2010

    Josh Rosenau:

    That part is confusing, because it is not always obvious whether Jason is stating his own opinion, that of Lamoureux, or that of (his impression of) the bible. The point that I think that Jason is making is that Lamoureux is special pleading by essentially suggesting that, even though the world may not look designed, and though there are lots of other reasons to reject the God of the bible, as well, that’s alright because it’s just how God wants it to be. Oh, but you should believe,anyway. Of course, you could say that about anything, which is why it is special pleading, because the very same people who say it have no trouble understanding it as special pleading in other contexts.

    Where Jason says, “There is no set of facts that can lead you to faith”, I think that he is agreeing with Lamoureux, although he doesn’t believe that it is necessarily biblical to suggest that a rational evaluation of the universe should convince you that God doesn’t exist. In fact, I think that Jason believes that the opposite is true, and that the bible suggests that it should be obvious that God exists, and the only reason that you could possibly reject it is because of our sinful nature.

    Where Jason says this:

    “He is suggesting that human beings can reason their way to the God of Christianity if only the scientific facts work out just right.”

    I think that he is effectively paraphrasing Lamoureux correctly, but it does make it look as though Lamoureux is suggesting that you “can reason [your] way to the God of Christianity”, whereas, in actual fact, Jason is saying that Lamoureux agrees that you can’t. The way it is put, though, is confusing.

  10. #10 Jason Rosenhouse
    March 5, 2010

    Damian -

    Let me take one more stab at this. Lamoureux is plainly saying that there could in principle be a set of scientific facts that would compel you to believe in the God of the Bible. My interpretation of the verses I quoted from John 3 is that it is not possible, even in principle, for someone to come to faith in the God of the Bible simply by understanding the minutiae of science. That is why I described Lamoureux’s view as unbiblical.

    My personal view is that I can imagine evidence that would convince me that some sort of intelligent designer exists, but I can not imagine science alone convincing me specifically of the God of the Bible.

    Separate from that, Lamoureux’s argument is also special pleading. Science reveals a world with no trace of intelligent design, and reveals an evolutionary process marked by cruelty and waste. These are unpleasant facts for someone who believes the world is the product of a God of infinite love and power. Lamoureux argues that God deliberately created in a way that covered his tracks, just so that it would not be too easy for us to believe in Him. I call that special pleading.

    There are many other faults I could have found in Lamoureux’s argument. For example, he seems concerned that if the evidence were too good, then there would not be enough people rejecting God. I am unclear why that would be a bad thing from a Christian perspective. Apparently our sinful natures and love of darkness are not enough to keep us away from Him, so God made sure the scientific evidence we would eventually discover would be one more stumbling block to believing in Him. Isn’t that just delightful?

  11. #11 heddle
    March 5, 2010

    Lamoureux misses the boat on the faith passage from Hebrews 11:1:

    Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

    This is not a call for blind faith in believing in an invisible God, as is evident by reading the entire 11th chapter, known as the faith “Hall of Fame.”

    Is it a singular expression of faith that does not even apply anymore. It is faith that the promise of God to send a redeemer would be fulfilled, not “faith that God exists, even though you can’t see him.” That which is unseen in Hebrews 11:1 is the completion of God’s promise, not God himself.

    This is clear by reading on in the chapter until you get to the names of the charter members of the faith Hall of Fame. They are all people who saw God, spoke to God, or at least witnessed miracles. For example there is Gideon—he who repeatedly demanded physical proof of God before he would act. If blind faith were the standard of excellence, Gideon would be in the Hall of Shame rather than the Hall of Fame.

    There is no group of people less in need of blind faith in the existence of God than the group commended for their faith in Hebrews 11: people like Noah, Abraham, Gideon, Rahab, Moses, etc.

    Faith, as used in the New Testament, is usually not a synonym for believe. It is closer to trust; to act according to your beliefs.

    Again, go back to the list of Hall of Fame members, as described in Hebrews 11.

    By faith Noah, when warned Noah didn’t receive an email saying: “Build an ark. Signed, God (no kidding, really—this is from God!)” Rather he spoke to God personally. What is blind about Noah’s faith? Nothing, when it comes to the existence of God. Yet he is praised for his faith. What is unseen on Moses’ faith that he should be commended for it? Certainly not the existence of God whom he saw, talked to, prophesied for, and channeled miracles. What was unseen was the completion of God’s promise.

    That’s the boat that is often missed. It is not trivial belief in the existence of God that is commended in Hebrews 11:1. It is faith to act in a manner that conforms to what you claim to believe—that God’s promise would be kept. That what was unseen for the Old Testament saints commended in Hebrews 11—the fulfillment of God’s promise.

    Lamoureux should know better.

    Jason: Thanks for doing the heavy lifting–I see no reason to read his book.

  12. #12 Richard Wein
    March 5, 2010

    Lameureux’s description of evidence as “coercive” and removing freedom is astonishing. Don’t show me compelling evidence of a round Earth. That’s a coercive violation of my right to believe in a flat Earth. (Help! I’m being oppressed by the evidence.)

    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

    In other words, faith is wishful thinking and blind certainty. I wasn’t aware of that passage before. (I haven’t read the Bible much.) It seems very embarrassing for those who profess Christian faith.

  13. #13 Divalent
    March 5, 2010

    “In the same way that you cannot coerce anyone into loving you, it is impossible for the Lord to make you love Him.”

    So, the purpose of that bit about burning in Hell if you don’t believe, is …?

  14. #14 Anthony
    March 5, 2010

    Heddle,

    Very good exposition. The Bible is actually the strongest tool to use against the “Argument From Free Will” when dealign with why God does not reveal himself and perform more public miracles. The God of the Bible isn’t concerned whether or not people just simply assent to his existence. He is concerned in how they act once they are aware of his existence. According to Paul (at least in Romans), we all, by default, KNOW that God exists by looking at Creation, and even still, we rebel, because as the passage in John says, we love darkness (I mean absolutely love it… :)).

    Christians have morphed the Biblical definition of faith SO MUCH to shield themselves from the huge real world contradiction, in which their God is so freaking invisible and controverted by science, that it is completely logical to reject him. Of course they would HAVE to change the definition.

  15. #15 Dan Gilbert
    March 5, 2010

    That passage seems to boil down to “God exists because it looks like he doesn’t exist.”

    …which is somewhat along the same lines as the “…without faith, I am nothing” line from the HHGttG. ;-)

  16. #16 RickK
    March 5, 2010

    He’s a homeopathic God – the more you dilute him, the stronger he gets.

  17. #17 Tyro
    March 5, 2010

    If evidence for the existence of God would crush free will, what about the bible and Jesus’s miracles?

    Is a little consistency really too much to ask?

  18. #18 Chris
    March 5, 2010

    It also doesn’t fit one well-accepted theological point, which is that we are dead in sin and cannot turn to God unless he first regenerates us. So, it would be pointless to use evolution to create a world in which we have freedom to choose or to reject God, because we are dead in sin and cannot actually choose him. Dead people cant turn to God, and instead continue to walk in their own sin and always reject God. Salvation is a gift, not a choice.

    Ephesians, Chapter 2:
    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–

  19. #19 Jason Rosenhouse
    March 5, 2010

    Dan -

    Perhaps I am about to feel dumb, but what is this: HHGttG?

    RickK -
    :)

  20. #20 Anthony
    March 5, 2010

    I’m going to guess HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…

  21. #21 netjaeger
    March 5, 2010

    Romans 1:20, mentioned earlier, gets very problematic in and out of the Bible.
    The creation Paul puts forward as evidence to believe in (Bible) God is made unreliable in Bible terms by God’s curse of it (Gen. 3:17). This unreliability is reinforced time after time with assertions that the world is corrupt, groaning under sin, ruled by deceivers, cloaked in darkness, etc.

    YEC’s apologetics for the apparent cruelty of the world, i.e. back to the curse of sin, also render Rom. 1:20 problematic for essentially the same reasons. If the world is ugly/nasty because of a curse, it certainly is not providing Paul’s no excuse evidence for his ‘nice’ Bible-God.

    Positing an evil God does harmonize a whole bunch of it.

  22. #22 Medievalist Jon
    March 5, 2010

    “His unfathomable love for us.”

    Yuck. Reminds me of this: http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2010/03/litmus-test.html

  23. #23 Jose Fly
    March 5, 2010

    Shorter version…

    1) God can do whatever He wants, so piss off;

    2) You just have to have faith;

    3) Sure the world looks just like what one would expect if there were no gods…that’s how we know God exists!

    How compelling.

  24. #24 Lenoxus
    March 5, 2010

    To clarify how HGTTG came up, for any bystanders in the dark: it’s the source of the “Babel Fish” passage above.

  25. #25 Robert O'Brien
    March 5, 2010

    Poor Lamoureux. He must have been hit in the head at a young age.

    NewEnglandBob,

    You have already demonstrated that you have nothing intelligent to write. Must you continue to bang that drum? I hope for his sake that your kid fell far from the tree but I doubt it. (Certainly, a significant number of dumb kids get into Stanford as undergrads.)

    Richard Wein wrote:

    In other words, faith is wishful thinking and blind certainty. I wasn’t aware of that passage before. (I haven’t read the Bible much.) It seems very embarrassing for those who profess Christian faith.

    Uh, no. That’s your misrepresentation of what Paul wrote. Someone else already brought up Romans 1, namely:

    19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    That’s basic natural theology, not Kierkegaardian fideism.

    I’d stick to waxing philosophical about Buffy the Vampire Slayer if I were you. (And thank heaven I’m not!)

  26. #26 Jason Rosenhouse
    March 5, 2010

    Robert O’Brien -

    Making fun of people’s names is too juvenile even for me. I have corrected your previous comment accordingly and am, for now, asking you nicely not to do it again.

  27. #27 Robert O'Brien
    March 5, 2010

    Making fun of people’s names is too juvenile even for me. I have corrected your previous comment accordingly and am, for now, asking you nicely not to do it again.

    As you wish Jason. At least you allowed me my disdainful comments, which I appreciate.

  28. #28 Richard Wein
    March 6, 2010

    @Robert O’Brien. The passage you quoted from Romans says nothing about faith. And even if it did contradict the passage I quoted, that wouldn’t mean I misrepresented that passage.

    Never mind basic natural theology; that’s basic English comprehension and logic.

    Your disdainful tone is ill-advised when you can’t even get such basics right. It just makes you look more foolish.

  29. #29 H.H.
    March 6, 2010

    Kenneth Miller made similar claims regarding why god won’t heal amputees. Short answer: because then we’d know god exists. See, God has to hide in order to preserve our “moral independence.” Apparently all those people in the bible who did know that Yahweh was real and the Jesus was Yahweh incarnate did not have this moral free will. Except the bible doesn’t bear out this claim.

    Adam and Eve are good examples, they interacted with God directly and still disobeyed him. However, non-literalists can claim Adam and Eve are a myth and never really existed. So to pick a person from the New Testament, Peter denied Jesus three times. Mind you, this is the same Jesus he’d seen walk on water, multiple loaves and fishes, heal the sick, lame and blind, and raise the dead. So Peter, a man who literally walked beside god incarnate and witnessed countless miracles, had the moral free will to deny association with his Redeemer in order to protect his own life–they life he supposedly knew was a mere transitory step before true eternal life with God in heaven.

    So if Peter wasn’t “coerced” or “forced” to show unconditionally loyalty to his Messiah in that instance, on what basis can the apologists claim that god can’t reveal his existence to us because we’d be forced to submit to him? It’s nonsense, and a profoundly unbiblical argument. If it were true, then there could have been no betrayal by Judas, and ultimately no crucifixion and redemption for humanity.

    Clearly simply knowing Yahweh exists isn’t sufficient to compel obedience to him. And anytime an apologists trots out this old chestnut–that god hides from us to preserve our free will–you can point out what a shitty excuse that really is. Knowing that god were real would not compel belief, it would only allow for the making of an informed choice. The idea that we must necessarily decide to spend an eternity in either torment or bliss on the ignorant basis of faith alone is both absurd and abhorrent. Yet for many liberal Christians, this horrible reasoning passes as an example of deep, thoughtful theology.

  30. #30 Scott Hatfield
    March 7, 2010

    H.H.:

    For people like me, a real choice could only be said to be free if it were truly informed about the consequences of that choice. If God is as many people take God to be, then we are discussing a being far beyond us. The consequences of choosing or not choosing to know that being, if that being exists, could never be any choice other than one based on partial knowledge.

    This doesn’t seem to motivate many people all that much. So, rather than attempt to describe a relationship with the ineffable, the religious have often resorted to threats of everlasting punishment. Punishment is something we know about. Obviously, threats work to a certain extent. If that was all that could be said about faith, then it is truly better to live in a world of doubt and uncertainty than to what Nietschze called, quite accurately, the ‘slave religion.’

  31. #31 Paul Novak
    March 7, 2010

    “His unfathomable love for us.”

    God killed millions. Satan tempted people to defy God. Who was worse?

    Wish I had the time to read all the comments, but the post reminds me of the usual creationist arguments, which rarely present anything new.

    Think Lamoureux is bad, try explaining credulity, critical thinking, and the nature of faith based belief systems to someone who has convinced themselves that Jesus was the result of artificial insemination by aliens, that God is really an alien, and the bible is actually a history of how aliens came to be our gods and their immenent return in ufo’s.

    I kid you not.

  32. #32 386sx
    March 8, 2010

    The consequences of choosing or not choosing to know that being, if that being exists, could never be any choice other than one based on partial knowledge.

    This doesn’t seem to motivate many people all that much.

    Of course not. Because there ain’t nothing there. You’re way over stating the case with that “partial knowledge” fancy-talk crap.

    It’s almost like it’s a borderline fancy-pantsy false dilemma or something. You have yer “partial knowlegde” over on the one side, and yer “zero knowledge” over there on the other, and hey, “partial knowledge” is way a lot better than “zero knowledge” by golly!! Why the choice is obvious! Except they both look exactly the same without all the fancy dressed up BS routine.

  33. #33 386sx
    March 8, 2010

    Theres’ a big difference between “scanty minuscule invisible knowledge that you don’t even know if it’s really freakin knowledge or not”, and “partial knowledge”. That’s why all your fancy talk is a pile of BS. Thanks.

    P.S. kudos on your music video though Mr. Hatfield! Loved it. Cheers.

  34. #34 Wowbagger
    March 8, 2010

    The ‘God created through evolution’ thing would be less problematic if the god in question hadn’t been described as as omni-everything.

    A less-than-perfect god shaping life toward a goal would fine; one that’s incapable of making mistakes, on the other hand, seems a bit strange considering life is obviously the result of – and, in fact, remains – a very error-prone process.

    As a result the post-hoc rationalisations used to explain why this Mary-Sue god would act in such bafflingly inconsistent ways – ‘ineffability’ being a poor cover – are desperate and uncompelling.

  35. #35 Modusoperandi
    March 9, 2010

    Wowbagger, sure God is supposed to be omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, but are any of those characteristics omnicompetent? I think not.

  36. #36 heddle
    March 9, 2010

    Modusoperandi,

    You are correct about there being a finite set of “omnis.” For example, the God of the bible is certainly not omnibenevolent. Just ask Esau. Or the various peoples in Joshua’s path. But I would argue that the assumption of the three omnis you mentioned then implies omnicompetence.

  37. #37 Wowbagger
    March 9, 2010

    heddle wrote:

    But I would argue that the assumption of the three omnis you mentioned then implies omnicompetence.

    Agreed. If you can be everywhere, see everything and have unlimited power that doesn’t leave much room for incompetence. However, that means that everything that’s less than perfect is deliberately so – which leads back to God choosing to be unpleasant.

    Which I’m perfectly fine with; as far as I’m concerned if he exists he’s a monster, no doubt about it. But is that a view shared across Christianities? I’ve mostly heard the opposite, complete with convoluted rationalisations for why he was so bloodthirsty back in the day.

  38. #38 Modusoperandi
    March 9, 2010

    heddle “For example, the God of the bible is certainly not omnibenevolent.”
    So, it’s avoiding Euthyphro’s Dilemma by saying, essentially, that it’s not good because He commands it and not commanded because it’s good (and the variation not “good because it’s His nature” and not “His nature because it’s good”), because He can be kind of a douche (ergo, His commands can be douchey), sometimes, when He chooses (and, Jobishly, “…what’re you gonna do about it, huh, Mister Smartypants? He’s God!”).
    Following that, Anselmically, if God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived and God can be a douche, does it not follow that God’s douchery is the maximum, perfect douchery?

    “But I would argue that the assumption of the three omnis you mentioned then implies omnicompetence.”
    Then, based on a wide variety of real world examples, from cancer to the humble prostate, I would argue that the assumption of three omnis need to be revisited.

  39. #39 heddle
    March 9, 2010

    Modusoperandi

    So, it’s avoiding Euthyphro’s Dilemma

    If it is, it is not by intent. It is simply an acknowledgment that according to the bible God does not love everyone, and some are sent to eternal torment. Therefore he is not as benevolent or as merciful as he could possibly be–for example if he is omnipotent, then he has the power to save everyone, but he chooses not to. Instead we can only say that he is as benevolent or as merciful as he wants to be. For whatever reason.

    My guess, and it is just a guess, is that some attributes are in tension–and the attribute of holiness–which I admit I don’t understand, trumps all. Thus, I guess, the fact that God is holy, holy, holy restricts him, in some sort of law of non-contradiction sense, from being benevolent, benevolent, benevolent. But that, as I said, is pure speculation.

    Then, based on a wide variety of real world examples, from cancer to the humble prostate, I would argue that the assumption of three omnis need to be revisited.

    Go for it. People argue that all the time (e.g., Rabbi Kushner).

  40. #40 Modusoperandi
    March 9, 2010

    heddle “Therefore he is not as benevolent or as merciful as he could possibly be–for example if he is omnipotent, then he has the power to save everyone, but he chooses not to.”
    I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but…

    “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” ~ Epicurus

    So it looks like option 1, which knocks at least one “omni” from the three O’s, or option 2, which makes God a douche and, rationally, unworthy of worship for any reason other than the avoidance of an eternity of firey burning; a utilitarian action in fear of a monster (ironically, for the reward of basking in His presence). If Calvin was right that makes Him even worse, with predestination and all, meaning that a bad game is rigged with most of the contestants “built” to lose, and even if he was wrong, the Eden tale shows that, if omniscient, God set up the posited Adam & Eve specifically to fail (an indicator of omnidouchery). That He seemed shocked and surprised when they did what kids do, I think, indicates that the writers decided, at the time, that He lacked at least two O’s. Rather, He comes off as more of a fantastic engineer with a nasty case of Asperger’s (indicators of less than omnicompetence and some level of divine douchery).
    Any way it’s sliced, the posited God comes off as kind of a twat.

    “Thus, I guess, the fact that God is holy, holy, holy restricts him, in some sort of law of non-contradiction sense, from being benevolent, benevolent, benevolent.”
    You do realize that you’re saying “in some sort of law of non-contradiction sense” for a posited 3O’d God, right?
    “He’s omnipotent but He’s not omnipotent” isn’t omnipotent. It’s potent. Highly potent, maybe or sure, but His inability to microwave a burrito so hot that even He could not touch it already infringes on His omniness. (And, yes, that last part was tongue-in-cheek, although if God is limited by logic, which I’m told comes from God, who is all-powerful, but is limited by His own Hisness…)
    An unlimited God who is limited by anything, cannot, by definition, be an unlimited God. An unlimited God who choses to be limited has self-defined His unlimitedness to have limits. Ergo, not unlimited.
    Man, I should take up apologetics. I’d be good at mental gymnastics. Granted, trying to prove at all costs something I didn’t believe in would probably be problematic.

    “But that, as I said, is pure speculation.”
    Of course. It’s theology. It’s philosophical navel gazing with an unseen navel. That’s why everybody else is wrong. They don’t understand the True Nature and Qualities of His infinite and divine navel like I do. Seriously, I’m totally inspired. I’ve got to write a book (I’m thinking “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist II: Electric Boogaloo”).

  41. #41 heddle
    March 9, 2010

    Modusoperandi ,

    It is option 2. He is able to prevent any and all evil, but he often (usually) does not. However I do not agree with the conclusion: that this means he is malevolent. That is an unfounded assertion. The most obvious example is that he could have prevented the crucifixion, but he didn’t. That wasn’t malevolence; that was benevolence.

    You do realize that you’re saying “in some sort of law of non-contradiction sense” for a posited 3O’d God, right?

    Yes of course, without question God cannot violate the law of non-contradiction. Maybe he is “above logic.” I don’t know. But he is certainly not “below logic.” That is just a trivial violation of omnipotence—of the rock-too-heavy-to-lift variety.

    Of course. It’s theology.

    It is—but that is not why it is speculation. It is speculation because it is not discussed in the bible. Take Calvinism, for example. May it is right or wrong—but I can defend it, successfully or not, from the bible. I can’t defend what I wrote about earlier, regarding God’s holiness possibly being in tension with his benevolence, because the bible is silent on the matter.

  42. #42 film izle
    March 9, 2010

    I’ve got to write a book (I’m thinking “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist II: Electric Boogaloo”).

  43. #43 Modusoperandi
    March 9, 2010

    heddle “It is option 2. He is able to prevent any and all evil, but he often (usually) does not. However I do not agree with the conclusion: that this means he is malevolent.”
    True. At most, one can confidently declare from that that He’s ineffable, which means that one can’t know whether, if non-omnipotent, He’s good (but not all good) or evil (but not all evil), as both suppositions fit the evidence.

    “Yes of course, without question God cannot violate the law of non-contradiction. Maybe he is ‘above logic.’ I don’t know. But he is certainly not ‘below logic.’”
    That puts Him under logic.

    “That is just a trivial violation of omnipotence—of the rock-too-heavy-to-lift variety.”
    Obviously. On a side note, my calendar has a day in between Monday and Tuesday, “a little bit Tuesday”.

    “It is—but that is not why it is speculation. It is speculation because it is not discussed in the bible.”
    The Bible is other peoples’ speculation. It’s turtles all the way down. Or back. One of those.

  44. #44 heddle
    March 9, 2010

    Modusoperandi

    The Bible is other peoples’ speculation. It’s turtles all the way down. Or back. One of those.

    Perhaps, but that’s just an argument stopper. Which is fine, since arguing is usually a waste of time.

    That is, as an atheist you have two choices when arguing with a theist/biblicist like me: 1) You can accept the bible a priori and then argue self-consistency, error, and/or whether what I claim it says is actually what it says. 2) You can take your approach, that the bible is pure nonsense and not worth discussing. Which is fine but, as I said, an argument stopper.

  45. #45 Modusoperandi
    March 9, 2010

    heddle “1) You can accept the bible a priori and then argue self-consistency, error, and/or whether what I claim it says is actually what it says.”
    Starting at the conclusion and arguing backwards is, well, backwards and whether it’s self-consistent, error free or whatnot is moot if it isn’t in accord with reality.

    “2) You can take your approach, that the bible is pure nonsense and not worth discussing.”
    I did that? Hardly. I can’t not be irreverent.
    I see the biblical narrative, starting at the start* (human-scale age of the universe and the Earth, literal first Man, no common descent, etc), the Fall (why the world that is isn’t the world we’d like it to be, particularly in the face of superduper, if not omni, powered monotheism), moving to things like the Deluge (where my ancestors’ flood was everybody’s), Babel (as an explanation for the multiplicity of languages as well as a cautionary tale about using unlicensed labour), not being the Kings of Egypt (“I mean, we’re special, right? We speak the right language, dress right, worship the right guy…so why aren’t we Kings of the greatest empire in the world?”), the attempted conquest of Canaan (“God told us to! And He said that they were all bad!” as post-hoc, if not pre-hoc, explanations for why it was wrong for other people to steal their shit, but it was okay for them to steal other peoples’. Tribal-level, God-mandated “Manifest Destiny”, if you will) as an obsolete model.
    It worked well enough for its time, I guess, but like humorism it’s been superceded as more and better data has come up.

    * The reason why Gen1 is the wrong timescale and in the wrong order isn’t because God kept it simple for His people or because it’s poetry or metaphor. It’s because it’s wrong.

  46. #46 heddle
    March 9, 2010

    Modusoperandi,

    The reason why Gen1 is the wrong timescale and in the wrong order isn’t because God kept it simple for His people or because it’s poetry or metaphor. It’s because it’s wrong.

    Or because the interpretation you are using is wrong.

  47. #47 Modusoperandi
    March 9, 2010

    Obviously. When it says “And God did this…” and “And then this thing happened…”, but they don’t match what Man only discovered much, much later, it must be me that’s wrong.

  48. #48 Brian
    March 9, 2010

    When it says “And God did this…” and “And then this thing happened…”, but they don’t match what Man only discovered much, much later, it must be me that’s wrong.

    Now you’re getting it! When the Bible is a priori right and infallible, it must be the person who says the Bible is wrong who is wrong.

  49. #49 heddle
    March 9, 2010

    Modusoperandi,

    but they don’t match what Man only discovered much, much later, it must be me that’s wrong.

    And why, just out of curiosity, did church fathers Augustine, Justine, Origin, Clement of Alexandria,… interpret the Genesis account non-literally when they didn’t have to for scientific reasons? How does that match your theory that we only adjust our interpretation in response to new scientific findings?*
    ——–
    * Which, though besides the point, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Or at least to attempt.

  50. #50 Wowbagger
    March 9, 2010

    Obviously. When it says “And God did this…” and “And then this thing happened…”, but they don’t match what Man only discovered much, much later, it must be me that’s wrong.

    But it’s so arty to do it that way. Haven’t you seen Pulp Fiction or Memento*? Obviously, God was just way ahead of his time in using non-linear narratives as a storytelling concept. Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan should have had him in the credits – the ungracious bastards.

    *No doubt there were films before these two to use such ideas; none come to mind right at this moment – and I like those two.

  51. #51 Modusoperandi
    March 9, 2010

    heddle “And why, just out of curiosity, did church fathers Augustine, Justine, Origin, Clement of Alexandria,… interpret the Genesis account non-literally when they didn’t have to for scientific reasons?”
    I assume that they were worried more about the stuff that comes after. (Spoiler Alert: Jesus doesn’t stay dead. Then, at the end of the film, He comes back. And He’s pissed)

    “How does that match your theory that we only adjust our interpretation in response to new scientific findings?”
    “We” adjust our interpretation due to more than just reality. That still doesn’t make Genesis any less wrong. No literal Adam and Eve, no literal Fall, no Original Sin…no need for Jesus, although I’m sure that quite a few people, upon those epiphanies, have reinterpreted scripture to maintain its hold on them (Mormons finding out/admitting that the “red” indians were not, in fact, a lost Hebrew tribe, making a bunch of their “history” false, doesn’t seem to have hurt their retention rate much. I’m pretty sure that the magic underwear helps. I know it helps me. Mine’s invisible. True story), but I’m not the one to ask on that. You know, “obsolete model” and all…
    But that’s one of them red herrings. The fact remains that the facts don’t matter the history presented in the bible. Barring other possibilities, this means that either God really meant something else wherever the bible timeline or the presented facts thereon is wrong, or that (as most Christians would say about other religions’ holy books) it’s just people.
    The latter possibility seems far more rational. If the former is true, then it makes the Bible just as true as every other religion’s books, even the ones that are incompatible with each other.
    If you disagree, it’s just because you’re misinterpreting them.

    “Which, though besides the point, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Or at least to attempt.”
    Yes, you can make a square peg fit a round hole. That doesn’t make it a round peg.

  52. #52 Modusoperandi
    March 9, 2010

    “Sure, Xenu didn’t literally fly people in 707s to Earth 56,000,000 years ago, strap them to volcanoes in Hawaii and blow them up with nuclear bombs, but you’re still covered in Thetans.”

  53. #53 Tony61
    March 13, 2010

    Maybe someday somebody will discover the God-gene that enables folks like Lamoreaux to invest in such twisted logic. One either believes in God, or they don’t. To write books about “why God exists” is inane.

    Paul didn’t believe in God until he was knocked from his horse and He appeared. When that happens to me, then I’ll believe. Until then, not so much.

  54. #54 Modusoperandi
    March 14, 2010

    Tony61, I doubt very much that will happen to you. The chances of Paul’s horse still being alive are infinitesimal.

  55. #55 anon
    March 23, 2010

    “This doesn’t seem to motivate many people all that much. So, rather than attempt to describe a relationship with the ineffable, the religious have often resorted to threats of everlasting punishment. Punishment is something we know about. Obviously, threats work to a certain extent. If that was all that could be said about faith, then it is truly better to live in a world of doubt and uncertainty than to what Nietschze called, quite accurately, the ‘slave religion.’”

    Well, a good portion of Christian intellectual history was both deeply philosophical and mystical – this is especially pronounced in the monastic literature and in the line of Eastern thinkers from the Cappadocians and Pseudo-Dionysius through Maximus Confessor and Gregory Palamas. A relationship with the “ineffable” was the whole point: indeed apophatic language was often dominant and present even in the basic creeds. Which is to say for much of Christianity, avoiding punishment was neither a threat nor a problem, at least in the sense that you are positioning it here. Nietszche was, whoever brilliantly, attacking a more familiar beast, though whether that has much to say about Christianity in the large has never been clear to me.

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