Sketches on Atheism

The Failure of the Free Will Defence

The-problem-of-evilThe existence of unnecessary suffering is entirely incompatible with any and all notions of the good, personal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient Middle Eastern god of the Pentateuch. This is the heart of the argument from evil, and the only coherent response ever devised by the kingmakers of vaporous excuses – the Christian philosophers – to counter this monstrously disfigured theological problem is the free will defence.

Now, ignoring natural disasters and the misery caused by other-than-human choices (which theists cannot explain), the free will defence attempts to absolve the Middle Eastern Christian god of the Pentateuch from any responsibility for human suffering by claiming that since choices are made voluntarily, willingly and freely, then their particular deity cannot be considered culpable for the consequences of those choices.  That is to say: it could intervene (omnipotent), but doesn’t (indolent); not because it’s sinister or malevolent, but because it respects human free will.

This excuse has three fatal flaws. First, if it is omniscient and knows the consequences of all choices in advance then the apologist must accept that the god of the Pentateuch favours, for example, the free will of the rapist over the free will of the victim. This contradicts any claim of benevolence. Second, in full knowledge of the consequences (the suffering), it, the god, has consciously made a choice to not act, which is both immoral and contradicts all claims of aseity. An aseitic being – a power incapable of change – cannot make a choice, for choice implies options, and options denote change. Third, being omnipresent means the personal Middle Eastern god of the Pentateuch watched the rape, heard the screams and smelt the blood, yet did nothing, and this is nothing short of wilful evil.

The only way the free will defence can work is if the Middle Eastern Christian god of the Pentateuch does not know what people’s choices will be. If it knows what any person will choose then all notions of independent free will collapse,  and it, the omniscient deity, cannot be acquitted for not preventing the suffering it knew would unravel as a result. Not knowing is wholly compatible with the notion of free will and solves the initial problem of the existence of evil. Not knowing fails, however, to justify the deity’s inertness once suffering begins, and by conceding it wasn’t capable of knowing everything in the first instance the Christian apologist is admitting their god is temporal, and therefore incomplete. This contradicts professed definitions of the Middle Eastern Christian god of the Pentateuch as, “necessarily eternal, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.”

The conspicuous failure of the free will defence to solve the problem of evil proves beyond all measure that the tendered definitions for a mindful, personal god (as detailed in the Pentateuch) are, demonstrably, false.

 

 

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278 thoughts on “The Failure of the Free Will Defence

  1. One wonders what would have been the consequences of ”Free Will”. if Moses had said to Yahweh,
    “Invade Canaan and kill everyone. Are you out of your frigging mind. Go stuff to yourself.”

    But surely if we dismiss the Pentateuch then doesn’t the whole argument collapse in any case?

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    • For Christians, Muslims and Jews, yes, but the free will concept comes from (was lifted from) Zoroastrianism. Their get-out-of-jail card was ingenious: Ahura Mazda is indifferent and non-interfering. The Yahwehists shot themselves in the head by insisting their god was personal.

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      • I read about Mazda briefly a while back.

        Wonder if those Nissan drivers realise they are tootling about in a ”God Car” 🙂

        How is the rejection of the Pentateuch ( re: your ongoing dialogue with Rabbis etc) going to effect the free will doctrine?

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      • I have no idea. I’d imagine it’d just disappear as a subject. The only reason we talk about it today is because Yahewhists need that argument to explain their gods absence in all things. I find it a desperately boring subject, but a poke in the eye is a poke in the eye, and it is Sacrilegious Sunday, after all.

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      • Very cool man. I am at the second questioning my own free will, which means that everything I think, endorse, believe in, and etc., might be in danger.

        If I cannot square that I have some will to choice, then being me or being Ken Hamm is equivalent. I know those are dichotomies, but if we can’t choose, then the effort to promote one or the other seems pointless.

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    • The argument collapses.
      Of course—

      —but so what? What relevance does argument (logic, rationality) hold, in the face of faith?

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      • Well, that average theist will likely tell you that faith is only PART of the equation. That an event like the resurrection for instance likely did occur based n the”evidence”.
        Therefore, remove as many aspects of the ”evidence” and eventually simple faith will likely fall away.

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      • What they say and what they do are malleable. Faith conquers all, always. Logic doesn’t stand a chance … remember that scene in the ‘Titanic’ movie, where the ship is going down? The priest is holding onto a capstan or something and gibbering ‘holy words’ whilst the crowd is lapping it all up instead of building rafts. That, Sir, is the kind of faith religions are made of. Utter desperation and imminent demise; ca’t be beat.

        I wonder is the priest went through a fairly instant enlightenment when he hit the icy waters himself? Did any of them?

        Naaaaaa …

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  2. Imagine an Omni-God creating humanity and decides that Free-Will is essential. He all-knowingly does the calculus of resultant suffering and sees the cost worth the benefit. If his calculus is right, then the suffering would not make the Omni-God vulnerable to your first supposed “fatal flaw” no contradict his benevolence. For it if God uses a utilitarian calculus (ah, makes me think of Liebnitz — the creator of “theodicy”), then we have the “best of all possible worlds” answer. An effective answer to your supposed flaw especially if all the eternal (afterlife) benefits which we can’t know or imagine, keep piling up. Mind you, Voltaire illustrates well the intuitive silliness of “The Best of All Possible Worlds”, but the counter argument is that our intuitions are not to be trusted, no?

    For maybe we can’t see the adjusted part of the calculus where the Omni-deity redeems the side-effect of highly-important Free-Will by using the suffering to polish souls (Irenaean theodicy).

    Now, you may think you can imagine a better world, a better calculus and such but we have no evidence that you’d be right in your divine dreams. In fact, I can’t be convinced that any of your objections work under this utilitarian calculus.

    Yet like you, I feel/intuit that suffering is incompatible with any sort of Omni-God I’d like to imagine. But maybe my imagination is limited. Likewise, my intuition gags at all the various rationalizations of Theodicy. But I also don’t feel logic wins out as an objection either. But my logic may fail here too.

    BTW, did you make that graphics? Very nice ! Happy Sunday

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    • Hi Sab. No, I found that on the interwebs.

      God moves in mysterious ways (unknown calculus) is such an unsatisfactory (secondary) excuse to plug the holes in the free will defence. I feel the entire notion is ruinous to theists (and humanity as a whole) as it encourages suffering by stifling action. Misery is accepted, sometimes even welcomed, as the theist believes it is all part of some virtuous cosmic “plan.” The four most sad and pathetic words ever uttered by a human being: “God is in control.”

      Now, even if this ‘unknown calculus’ idea were true, it implies the deity made a choice, and that contradicts aseity. The Omni-everything god must be aseitic, but it can’t be if it made a choice. In this regard it’s all or nothing, and it fails in both.

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      • @ John Zande,
        The mysterious-ways plug may be “unsatisfactory” to you, but again, that intuition, that feeling isn’t enough to logically argue the case. No “fatal flaws”, just emotional disgust. Which, as you know, I sympathize with.

        So, since I still feel your first fatal flaw fails, let’s move on to “aseity”. God making any choice, or taking any action may be vulnerable to this concept — ’tis not something I have thought about. But I’d wager it is a concept only in the highest theological towers. All good fun, of course, but I think it bothers not the common Christian, while the problem of evil, they have all wondered about.

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      • Aseity demands two things: being Absolutely self-originating and Absolutely self-contained, and this means the deity in question is incapable of changing, which is to say, immutable. Change denotes development, and development indicates something less-than-perfect. If the god of the Pentateuch is Absolutely Perfect there should be no requirement, or indeed capacity, for change… and Christian scripture confirms just that: (Malachi 3:6) “I the Lord do not change.” The problem here is that to be immutable nothing at all could ever happen. Nothing. Ever. Not even a thought, let alone a change of mind. This, you see, ruins your unknown calculus defence. It’s not just unsatisfactory “to me,” rather to the entire theistic excuse to explain evil.

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      • @ John Zande,
        Amongst the vast variety of Christianities, I have heard of forms that don’t buy into the Omni-God (the God of the philosophers). Indeed, the less perfect forms of God, the more anthropomorphic types seem to be the ones that dwell in the minds of most believers. So “Aseity” is not a worry for the common believer, but largely for theologians. The “I the Lord do not change” verse possibly was not mean as an ontological claim, as much as intent and desires. Literalist atheists and theologians play with the language of texts like that, I think. 🙂
        But I could be wrong.
        So, my unknown calculus stays intact.
        What a fun ping-pong game this is! Almost as good as a Brazilian partner dance.

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    • The problem is that in order to be worthy of the definition, an omni-maximal being must have formulated the very calculus it’s chosen to follow. So this line of argument falters at the gate. As Epicurus noted:

      “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
      Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
      Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
      Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

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    • @Sabio
      I would appreciate your lucid thoughts on my treatment of the free will theodicy. I think that there is still a logical problem for the omni-God conception when we focus specifically on the introduction of evil, unless we are willing to make God the author of sin. Please let me know if you think I missed any of the potential escape clauses.

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  3. ” If his calculus is right, then the suffering would not make the Omni-God vulnerable to your first supposed “fatal flaw” no contradict his benevolence.?

    Where there’s a will there’s a way, eh? A nice apologetic but of little value to the child who is sodomized before their strangled to death or the women who is brutalized after she is raped repeatedly or those who were at the top of the Twin Towers when the planes hit whose only choice was to get up and go to work that day.

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    • @ LBWoodGate:
      Thanx – thought I detect a hint insincerity. 🙂
      I thought it a wonderful apologetic — not original, of course. And certainly not comforting or of immediate value to an anecdotal tear jerking suffering person. But then, they can’t see the big plan — that is faith. (or so the story goes) Appeals to emotions, don’t win the debate.

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      • “But then, they can’t see the big plan — that is faith”

        Provided there is one, plan that is. Considering the weakness of Xianity’s claims I wouldn’t jump on board that quick and if I already were after a tragedy of these sorts, I would be jumping ship quickly.

        The apologetic, as I see it, is one who is there to not only to defend against their own vulnerability with faith but to attract as many supporters as they can wheedle to help assuage their doubts. At least that is how I saw myself when I finally decided to jump off of that boat I had been riding most of my life. Haven’t regretted it in the 15 plus years since.

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  4. Excellent. Free will is a concept which shows, for me, the narcissistic nature of human kind. So, we are to believe, based on nothing but rhetoric, that an all powerful, all perfect, all knowing being created, from nothing, beings with the will power to defy his wishes, to bring evil to his universe with their deliberately chosen acts of ugliness, and to continue to freely chose suffering, poverty, and pain instead of freely choosing not to. We want to believe we are in control; that we have power over the universe, and that we can live forever in the next world in complete happiness if we but will ourselves to do so. Utter and complete nonsense for which not a shred of supporting evidence exists. Either God created beings with wills as powerful as his own, and we then freely chose to fuck things up, or he created puppets to suffer for his amusement because he already knew their fate before he made them. It can not be both. Easier for me to see things as just being. They just are, and I, as a dust speck in a cosmos that is for all purposes practically infinite, simply do not matter. I matter to me while I exist to appreciate existing, but after I’m gone, much like the 13.7 billion years before I existed, I simply mean nothing to the universe. I have the will to change none of this.

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  5. Great post, I re-deconverted again! You’ve truly earned your red shoes today. Why didn’t you include Nate’s point about free will in heaven? You know, if angels can sin in heaven and free will exists, why would all the humans not be sinning in the afterlife.

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  6. When I was a kid, the answer was simple: God only looks after those who believe in him. Any undue suffering is a consequence of failing to love God enough.

    The Buddhists have a much more satisfactory answer. Suffering and its opposite (bliss?) are dualistic opposites that are both features humanity. From a deist perspective, i.e. the enlightened one, both suffering and bliss are no more real than the stage actor who falls to the floor boards with a fake dagger in his heart.

    To quote a Chinese Buddhist I met last year, it is very simple: Christianity is a very young, basic and un-evolved religion. He did smile, it was just an observation.

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  7. We can find the answer if free will exists in our conversation about vibrations. A man who has evil tendencies and wants sex has the free will to control his urges but he fails to do so…In his natural surroundings/vibrations, he finds his victim….He rapes, the victim has no free will being physically weak (Two things here. A stronger vibration will consume the weaker or the course of events change if she finds a rod and hits the rapist).
    You know this victim and here’s your chance to help her is a matter of free will…but you have your own problems and you opt out but she decides to fight this battle herself, ignites her vibrations eventually gets justice, moves on…. It’s a game of probability and combinations and 99% times we give in, express helplessness, naturally comes across as no free will but you can have access to free will if we choose right over wrong. On the other hand when humanity chooses right, theists claim that as god’s will and him being in control or when wrong, god moves in a mysterious way. My submission is to choose right is free will is godlike experience.

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  8. All theists know that God will intervene on their behalf (many of them believe this to the extent of scores of football games are subject to change). But God will not intervene unless you prostrate yourslelf, humiliate yourself, humble yourself and beg, beg, beg: it is called prayer. So, this makes this god even worse, he is a sadist on top of all of the above, saying “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, dance for me and I’ll decide.”

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    • The whole “personal” bit to Yahwehism was a colossal blunder. I’m sure it sounded good at the time when Yhwh was struggling for market entry, but it just doesn’t work in the Cash Cow phases of market maturity.

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      • Aah~! There y’are then, that is why Big G didn’t come to your aid when the kangaroo tried to rearrange you; you arrogant little snit you. He was teaching you the necessary humility …

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      • Possibly a test of your faith—and you failed. No wonder He kicked you out ) “… and the Lord hardened JZ’s heart, and verily I say unto you, he girded his lions (oops—loins) and left the faith in a huff

        See? All in accordance with His holy will …

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  9. Diversion, Dudes. But let’s not forget that God is omnipotent—He can do anything. Anything. For Him contradictions do not exist; if He wants to create a woman so frigid that even He cannot seduce her … He can. Get it?

    There are no (r) NO problems for an omnipotent. How many times do I have to … sheesh~!

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  10. Free will had nothing to do with original sin. Innocence did . But before I explain how innocence entered in let’s look at what happened in chronological order.

    Gen 1:7 Hashem (god) creates Adam
    Gen 1:8 Hashem (god) creates the Garden of Eden
    Gen 1:9 Hashem (god) causes to sprout the “Tree of Knowledge of good and evil”

    Stop !!! At this point Adam and later Eve have NO knowledge of good and evil. They were created with innocence just like a baby would be today only they were apparently created as adults.

    Gen 2:17 Hashem (god) tells Adam not to eat of this particular tree.
    Gen 3:5 The serpent tells Eve that Hashem (god) knows on the day they eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, their eyes will be opened and they will be like Hashem (god) knowing good and evil.

    Ah Ha ! When Eve (1st) and Adam (2nd) ate of the fruit they had NO concept of good and evil until that very moment !

    It reminds me of an Expedition of Scientists who in 2005 discovered many new species of animals in Indonesia . These animals had NO fear of humans because they had never seen any. They were innocent and had NO concept of good and evil.

    ” The team also found mammals that show no fear of humans. For example they were able to pick two long-beaked echidnas, a primitive egg-laying mammal, that had been hunted to near extinction elsewhere.

    “The animals there just don’t know people because people have never lived here. That’s a very, very rare thing in this day and age,” says Helgen.”

    So in my opinion “free will” had absolutely nothing to do with original sin. Hashem (god) was responsible with the concept when HE planted the tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were innocent and had no idea what the consequences of eating this particular fruit was.

    The real question is if Hashem (god) repeatedly in the Creation Story created everything and called it “Good”, why would HE ever have to plant a tree with the knowledge of good ? and evil ?

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  11. The first sentence of the post is not only a mere opinion, it is a false statement.

    Man, along with all of life, is a product of suffering.

    Without suffering there would be no evolution, no improvement, no development.

    And since Judeo-Christianity consists of the only two religions revealed to man by God, one would suppose that suffering would be a major topic of those religions’ holy scripture.

    And indeed it is.

    Consequently, the atheist complaint against God because he allows suffering is merely the atheist bias toward conjuring up myriad alternate universes as needed.

    And since atheists are not able to reason their way to a First Cause, they certainly aren’t going to be able to understand the issue of suffering.

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  12. I once had a dear (Christian) friend tell me something she had shared with her daughter. Went something like this, “I can’t promise you God won’t let bad things happen to you. I can’t promise you, for example, that you won’t ever have something horrible such as a rape happen to you. But I CAN promise you that God will never leave you nor will He forsake you. You will always have Him to help you through life’s toughest times.” What?!

    Great post, John. Thanks so much.

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      • John,

        How did you atheists get it into your heads that it’s God’s job to end all suffering?

        Isn’t that just you guys wishing for heaven on Earth or maybe a return to God and the Garden of Eden?

        Rational people accept the world the way it is.

        Life, and especially human life, would not exist without suffering.

        So why the atheist obsession with an alternative universe that is a paradise?

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      • Life, and especially human life, would not exist without suffering.”

        -Surely this contradicts the Pentateuch, SOM 😉 Perhaps you should go back and re-read it: suffering, we’re told, came into existence after life was “created”…. Twice. You know, that whole original sin business: inventing an imaginary disease so one may sell an imaginary cure.

        And anyway, it’s not the Secular Humanist (or as i prefer now, the SHIAAT: Secular Humanist-Ignostic-Atheist-Anti-theist) saying the Middle Eastern god should end suffering, rather humans themselves. Didn’t you get the memo?

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      • John,

        What about the Book of Job, the Psalms and the life of Jesus Christ and the many other books of the Bible that treat the phenomenon of suffering?

        What you are doing is cherry picking scripture that supports your bias.

        The Bible is in complete harmony with scientific findings and mankind’s history with regard to the fact that suffering is intrinsic and utterly fundament to reality and life here on planet Earth.

        The demand that God can’t exist because suffering exists is totally irrational because it demands the construction and acceptance of an alternative universe that has no relation whatsoever to the one that actually exists.

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      • Oh no you don’t, you mischievous monkey… You can’t just skip on over to later books in The Book. Let’s take it from Chapter One. Life was created (twice, mind you, which is tremendously odd) without suffering in the equation, contradicting your original claim.

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      • John,

        Oh yes I do.

        I know it hurts to have your pet bias exposed and blown out of the water, but the Bible is what it is and it means what it means.

        5 books or all of them together, the Bible says the same thing about suffering.

        And what the Bible says about suffering has nothing whatsoever to do with what you are saying about suffering.

        You conjured up an alternative universe and are trying to justify that conjuring with the Good Book.

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      • I will direct you to Kens comment bellow. Seems he’s taken your Rook, both bishops, both Knights, decapitated your Queen, an has your King cornered.

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      • John,

        Like you, Ken (KC?) has merely conjured up an alternative meaning to the Bible to go along with his alternative universe where man is innocent even though he stabled God in back.

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      • The bible doesn’t answer why we suffer. It doesn’t in Job nor anywhere else.
        The sons of Israel suffer both when they follow the commandments and when they don’t.
        The bible being written by men, who suffer, must of course contain pages where they talk about suffering. There is nothing strange in this. It doesn’t make the book divine. It is a human book.
        And I accept the world as it is. I know shit happens and don’t try to explain it either by creating gods or imaginary states- sin for example-

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      • Maka,

        The purpose of the Bible is not to tell us why we suffer.

        The ancients understood what today’s atheists do not: that suffering is integral to all life and human existence.

        Religion is the best method man ever devised to cope with the world the way it is.

        Atheists yearn for heaven on Earth and blame God because things just aren’t that way.

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      • You confuse something SOM. Atheists have always known suffering and its corollary go hand in hand. Theists who believe a benevolent and omnideity exists have spent time watching the skies hoping to get answer to why they suffer. Don’t confuse things.

        Well, in my village some people get drunk to deal with reality, a reality that is painful to bear. Religion is like that. It colours your judgement and creates a make believe order of things.

        I have no conception of heaven. Once in a while I yearn for just less suffering and anxiety than I sometimes have.

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      • Maka,

        I confuse nothing. Atheists suffer just like regular people. So what?

        The Marxist/atheist quest for heaven on Earth is a recipe for state-sanctioned brutality and mass murder on an unimaginable scale.

        But of course all that has already been proven.

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      • God’s vengeance on you, the Faithless infidel will be merciless! For it is they who think they believe yet believe falsely whom God shall flay alive for eternity! It is they who are atheists, for it is they who believe in the lies of their forefathers. YOU SHALL BURN!!! God WILL strike you down…(we havin’ fun, yet?) Sucks when people just yammer hat same rhetorical bullshit over and over again regardless of whether or not it’s relevant or correct.

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      • I yearn for a nice warm bed, a hot woman to share it with, and an end to the suffering of Faithless fools over the Bible. Oh, how the lack of Faith in the truth will cause god to heap agony upon the infidels who blaspheme His ways! Nothing has prepared you for the suffering you will experience in the fires of Hell that the one true lord has made for you, the infidel without Faith. I shudder when I think on it!

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  13. It always amazed me how an omniscient god got mad when Adam and Eve had themselves an apple. I mean, if anyone should have seen that one coming, it would have had to be god, being omniscient and all.
    Ah well, that’s my 2 cents on the matter…I really enjoy your reasoning skills. It’s nice to read some fair and rational deductive reasoning thrown at the subject of religion;)

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    • A.,

      What makes you think God got mad?

      I’ve been reading that story of the Fall of Adam and Eve since childhood and even as a child I realized that God was full of compassion and felt deeply for Adam and Eve’s self-inflicted demise.

      I think people have a tendency to project upon God the way they were treated by their own parents.

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      • Out of interest, SOM: if Yhwh did in fact lament Adam and Eves blunder why didn’t he just murder them then and there, and start again? I mean, it’s just a few chapters later that this same god annihilates the entire planet to, wait for it, start again. Surely it would have been less evil to kill just two, rather rather than millions (and billions of animals), wouldn’t you agree?

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      • John,

        Again you are asking questions from your imaginary alternative universe.

        It is incumbent upon us to understand the universe we live in.

        It is irrational to blame God because he doesn’t conjure according to our whims and wishes of the way we think things ought to be.

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      • Good question…I guess the fact that Adam and Eve got banned from paradise, the fact that they became mortals and the fact that, according to christianity, mankind is still paying for that apple leads me to conclude god got ticked off a little. But perhaps I’m jumping to conclusions of course;)

        But you’re definitely right in saying god is great to project things onto. I believe any god that ever existed consisted mostly of projections…

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      • A.

        The Bible teaches that God is a God of justice.

        Adam and Eve got what they deserved due to their own freely chosen actions, not because God got mad at them.

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    • It was entrapment, pure and simple. Makes you seriously question the creative intelligence of the authors of the tale. I mean, the first draft re-through should have picked up on that script blunder.

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      • I agree…it’s a plot hole of epic proportions!
        I once read this article in that magazine Jehovah’s Witnesses put out, addressing this very issue. They compared the first pages of genesis with god watching a football match: They suggested god had simply put players into place and then watched how it would turn out, the way one would watch a game.

        I don’t know…if I were omniscient, I’d definitely start placing bets on horse races and such;)

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      • A.

        How can the Fall of Adam and Eve be entrapment?

        The story makes it crystal clear that God laid out a simple situation with a simple choice.

        And Adam and Eve made their choice freely with full knowledge of what they were doing.

        Notice that when God gave them the choice he presented it as an opportunity, not a threat of eternal suffering.

        He simply laid out the consequence of the bad choice: you will surely die.

        The Bible is very cryptic to say the least so its readers have to be very careful about projecting their own bias upon it as is always done by atheists.

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      • I’m sure Adam and Eve had a free will…I’d like to think all of us humans do. I’m sure that if god exists he (or she) has a free will too.
        My point was about the omniscient part…the first pages of Genesis show god to be anything but omniscient.

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      • A,

        When God interacts with human beings he has to descend to their level.

        It is really impossible to write about an infinite being without introducing absurdities and contradictions.

        The atheist critique of the Bible is based not on what the Bible actually means but on the fallacies inherent in man’s finite capability to describe an infinite being.

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      • “When God interacts with human beings he has to descend to their level.” The true God, and those with true Faith know this, is Malevolence. He is an all encompassing force of pain and suffering. From Him, we, His creations, get a delusion of “goodness” so that it can, by Him, be shattered later. Thus, He fulfills His own prophecy that without the suffering of those He’s created, He has no reason to be. This is the real Faith, the only Faith, in the Only God there is for those with the strength and openness of mind to see it and Him. Thinking this is incorrect does not, in any way, make it less true. For in the end, when the days of time cease to be, those who did not accept this Faith, the real Faith, the True Faith, My Faith, will be flayed alive, over, and over, and over again by God. My God. The True God. The God called Malevolence. So it is said, and so you must believe. The mind of the unbeliever is a mind that is mired in its own ignorance and pride. It is the mind of a fool who will pay in eternal agony for his foolishness.

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      • Divine1,

        There is nothing in your comment that even remotely approaches reality.

        In order for your comment to have any truth value at all, the meaning of the Bible must be entirely redefined.

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      • You comment as one who has no Faith. it is he without Faith who who must gain Faith to see truth. Yours is a soul doomed to Hell. Yours is a blind soul. Blinded by belief in a false god. hell awaits. There is nothing you can do to change that. No opinion or thought that you can fathom that changes the Hell that awaits you. nothing you say, nothing you think, changes reality. The universe does not bend to you. Malevolence bends you to Him. Sorrow and Damnation await those with false beliefs. And it is damnation and sorrow that await you in the Hell that God has made just for you.

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      • There is no zone of Twilight for those without Faith. There is only Hell. Gain Faith or feel the fire. The universe is not yours to bend. Truth is not yours to make. God is not yours to define. I hear “Battle Hymn of the Republic” playing. I bid YOU adieu, adieu, adieu.

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      • I agree it is impossible to write about an infinite being from a human perspective. But if the bible is written by fallable minds aimd at fallible beings (a nicer way to put it would be to say ‘by humans for humans’), then how can anyone of us know what the bible actually means?

        Although I’m with Zande’s line of reasoning in this post, if I go along with yours I end up here: How can we deduce god to be omniscient if we lack the capacity to grasp omniscience ourselves?

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      • A.,

        Anyone one of us cannot know what the Bible means.

        Both the Jews and the Christians took centuries to interpret their scriptures.

        The result is the Bible, commissioned by the Catholic Church at the end of the 4th century.

        It is absolutely absurd for Johnny Come Lately atheists to come along 2000 years later and assign their own meaning to Judeo-Christian scripture.

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      • That would be absurd, if atheists do that…the thing is, they generally don’t see the bible as meaningful in any way. That’s not meant to be offensive to anyone to whom it does hold value. It’s just that atheists don’t assign their meaning to the bible. They simply assign no meaning whatsoever.
        While I personally don’t object to anyone who does assign value to it, the only problem atheists have is when someone imposes their meaning onto someone else. Only in that light do I object to a theist’s reasoning of god being omniscient and whatnot.

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      • I can only speak on my own behalf when I say I don’t hate the bible or its teachings. Though there are probably a lot of atheists that do feel hate when it comes to the bible, god or religion, I personally do not. I for one grew up being taught about christianity and I never felt wrong about that. In fact, I don’t have anything against the bible and christianity in itself. I believe faith can be a good thing.

        The only thing I object to is when someone judges me or treats me (or anyone else) differently based on what that someone believes to be true.

        For instance: I’m fine with someone thinking homosexuality is a sin. I’m not fine with that same person renouncing someone else for being a homosexual. There’s no law against not believing Lev. 18:22, right?

        If you believe in God and find that works for you I am happy for you. I wouldn’t bother anyone with my atheism just for the sake of making a point, but I will make my point the moment someone utilizes their faith in aid of telling others what to do and what not to. (I’m not saying this what you do, btw. For what it’s worth I appreciate a theist sharing his/her(?;)) views on a site like this).

        In short: I respect and often admire people’s spirituality and their personal relationship with a deity of any kind. I simply object to this relationship affecting others. That’s not a matter of hatred if you ask me.

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      • “In short: I respect and often admire people’s spirituality and their personal relationship with a deity of any kind. I simply object to this relationship affecting others. That’s not a matter of hatred if you ask me.”

        To quote Hamlet: “You cannot talk of reason to the Dane!” And your comment reeks of reason. Malevolence IS HATE. He holds nothing else to be true. Reason is a sacrilege to the true God: Malevolence. Faith will open your eyes to this if you open them. There is no argument for Faith, MY FAITH, makes ME right. You not agreeing with me, or saying this thinking isn’t reasonable are STILL WRONG! What you think will never be as correct as what I think because you do not have my Faith. Thus, because you may potentially question my God, Malevolence, it is you who are full of hate for me. To question ME, to question what MY FAITH says to ME! Is evidence that YOU hate. Get it? Now, I hear, “I Wish I Were In Dixie” playing, so I’m outta here to gloat in the infallibility of FAITH.

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      • Well, if you’re gonna throw Shakespeare at me, I guess I am a hateful and bitter atheist for questioning someone else’s faith.

        God, I’m such a bastard…at least you opened my eyes in that respect;)

        Still, rather a reasonable bastard than an obedient blind man. I sure am glad faith IS choice:P

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      • It is not a choice. It is the WILL of Malevolence that you have Faith in only Him. To deny this is to deny people who think they are right and you are wrong in all things regarding Faith are highly annoying with teeth in dire need of straightening.

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      • @SOM, “”How can the Fall of Adam and Eve be entrapment? The story makes it crystal clear that God laid out a simple situation with a simple choice. And Adam and Eve made their choice freely with full knowledge of what they were doing.””

        You need to read Genesis again. They did NOT have full knowledge UNTIL the moment they ate.

        Gen 1:7 Hashem (god) creates Adam
        Gen 1:8 Hashem (god) creates the Garden of Eden
        Gen 1:9 Hashem (god) causes to sprout the “Tree of Knowledge of good and evil”

        Stop !!! At this point Adam and later Eve have NO knowledge of good and evil. They were created with innocence just like a baby would be today only they were apparently created as adults.

        Gen 2:17 Hashem (god) tells Adam not to eat of this particular tree.
        Gen 3:5 The serpent tells Eve that Hashem (god) knows on the day they eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, their eyes will be opened and they will be like Hashem (god) knowing good and evil.

        Ah Ha ! When Eve (1st) and Adam (2nd) ate of the fruit they had NO concept of good and evil until that very moment !

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      • @SOM, “The story makes it crystal clear that God laid out a simple situation with a simple choice.”

        And 999 out of 1000 people would have taken a bite out of the apple.

        Like John says, entrapment !

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      • Men cause Tsunamis? That, my good man, is clearly the work of a supremely intelligent, omnimalevolent designer. Wicked genius to herd so many humans into such a potent kill zone, wouldn’t you agree?

        Just curious, but are you ever actually going to try a coherent, lucid, half-way intelligent rebuttal, SOM?

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      • John,

        Tsunamis are a result of tectonic activity in the Earth’s crust.

        There would be no life as we know it without tectonic activity in the Earth’s crust.

        Since the existence of all life is dependent on tectonic activity than one can only conclude that tsunamis are good.

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      • A small, necessary good, YES! Precisely!! Such is the genius of the wicked designer in His plan to maximise suffering. He must encourage life in places so he can take pleasure in its greater suffering. He is breeding humans and herding them intelligently into His kill zones.

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      • John,

        Let me not be too gross by stating that your railing at God for acting according to your exacting specification is like pissing up a rope.

        We live in the world as it is, not the way we think it out to be.

        Your complaint about tsunamis is ridiculous because tsunamis are a part of the natural processes that produced all life on Earth.

        As an atheist who believes in evolution and professes to be rational, you certainly must see that life and natural processes that produced are good things.

        Otherwise you and I would not be having this conversation, since we would not even exist.

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      • Once again, my peculiar circus sideshow friend, i urge you to read the title of this essay. I am proclaiming the existence of the One and Only True God. I know not of the creature you speak of, just the Omnimalevolent One who shaped and caressed this universe for its own perversion.

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      • John,

        You demand changing the subject back to the subject frosted with one of your fecally encrusted insults, because you got blasted out of the water.

        If you wish to discuss the subject at hand, why then be my guest.

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      • Exactly! I’ve been waiting for you to actually address the post and present a coherent counter-argument. Now, I have used observations, and the ontological argument to establish the existent of this wicked designer, and have solved the so-named problem of Good. To counter-argue you will have to meet three criteria:

        1. Coherently disprove the observational evidence.
        2. Coherently disprove the sequence of ontological logic.
        3. Coherently disprove the solution to The Problem of Good.

        Think you’re up for it?

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      • John,

        You complained about God and tsunamis which rimes with God and zombies and makes about as much sense.

        I addressed your bizarre obsession with blaming God for creating a universe according to natural laws that led to the existence of mankind.

        Atheists blaming God for suffering is like feminists blaming men for their penises except sideways.

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      • Mmmm, let’s try that again, shall we?

        1. Coherently disprove the observational evidence.
        2. Coherently disprove the sequence of ontological logic.
        3. Coherently disprove the solution to The Problem of Good.

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      • John,

        Science has shown through observation and an understanding of the laws of nature that tectonic activity in the Earth’s crust is responsible for the appearance of life and evolution.

        Your viewpoint and the opinions that sally forth into an unsuspecting world from it, is actually a denial of science, evidence and observations.

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      • Precisely! You’ve just confirmed the existence of the omnimalevolent designer! Tectonic plate activity is a tremendous example of His mischievous work. The process of recycling earth’s crust ensures life may flourish in certain zones for a certain length of time. These “zones” though are deliberately engineered Kill Zones. Fertile soils rich in mineral wealth attract animals in their tens of millions. The promise of easy pickings is too much, and these creatures not only willingly enter the Kill Zone, but establish themselves inside it. They mate and rear children: entire generations flourish for a short period before the inevitable cataclysm destroys them and everything they know. Such is the maximisation of suffering. A little is permitted, it is required, so the greatest amount of suffering can be inflicted…. Dare I say it, enjoyed by the malevolent designer.

        So, you’re now in negative territory. You’ve provided evidence supporting the existence of the wicked designer. As such, let’s try again:

        1. Coherently disprove the observational evidence.
        2. Coherently disprove the sequence of ontological logic.
        3. Coherently disprove the solution to The Problem of Good.

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      • John,

        How can a process that produced all of life, including you and I, be malevolent?

        Consequently, saying that suffering proves the universe and it Creator are malevolent is not a rational statement based on scientific insight it is a statement of self loathing.

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      • Life was clearly created to suffer; created so the omnimalevolent designer may take pleasure in its anguish. You’re example of tectonic activity only confirms the overt and covert genius of the design. You have, therefore, failed to counter-argue The Problem of Good.

        Evidently you’re incapable of mounting a rational and coherent counter-argument, thus proving the wicked designers existence.

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      • John,

        The Theory of Evolution teaches us that the purpose of life is to reproduce and improve.

        Species that don’t reproduce effectively and improve, go extinct.

        Suffering drives evolution whose purpose is fertility and excellence.

        Consequently, suffering is good.

        Surely, we hate to suffer and do our best to avoid it and we also strive to help those who suffer.

        But that again, is an example of how suffering drives virtuous behavior and improvement.

        Nietzsche stated a basic natural principle, “What doesn’t kill you makes you strong.”

        That is the governing principle of the atheist’s evolution-based universe.

        Christian teachings are the perfect response to our universe that is full of suffering and mayhem.

        Because human beings have surpassed evolution and its strictly physical laws, Christianity speaks to the human compassion and charity all of which make us stronger and better.

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      • John,

        It doesn’t escape notice that your argument is based on a God and a religion you don’t even believe in.

        My argument which successfully refutes your claim of a malevolent God, is based on everything you do believe in.

        Guess whose argument is rational and therefore effective.

        Facts can only be proven with reasoning and other facts.

        Your use of fantasy is absurd and therefore cannot prove anything real or rational.

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      • John,

        You have just proven the pernicious nature of atheist skepticism.

        Denying everything that is outside your basic dogma is the definition of fanaticism.

        My refutation of your malevolent God is rational and does the job of destroying your argument.

        That is because my argument is based on science (I referred to well know geology) and yours on something you don’t even believe in.

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  14. KC,

    Innocence is not a biblical concept that is applied to man, except with regard to Jesus Christ and his mother Mary.

    That means you just conjured up your own meaning and pasted it on the Bible.

    If Adam and Eve were innocent as you say they were then they would not have willfully defied their loving God.

    One of the major themes of ancient literature and is that man, by nature is not innocent.

    The Greeks were especially good at story telling which described that no matter how man tried to do good something rotten would inevitably result.

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  15. @SOM, “That means you just conjured up your own meaning and pasted it on the Bible.”

    You are the one doing this , not me !

    I proved to you from scripture that neither Adam or Eve knew the difference between good and evil until they ate of the fruit.

    What would you describe their state of mind prior to eating the fruit if not “innocence” ?

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      • I wasn’t referring to the Serpent ! You accused me of conjuring up my own meaning and pasting it in the Bible. You are insulting my integrity.

        I conjured up nothing. All of my comments were referenced from the Bible.

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      • KC,

        Referencing the Bible is good.

        The big problem is how atheists interpret the Bible.

        Since the Bible is the Word of God, there is no way an atheist could have the foggiest idea what the Bible means.

        This post and all the atheists comments prove that.

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      • As I have stated repeatedly SOM, I am not an atheist. I am a deist / agnostic. I happen to dislike comments made by christians which have no factual basis but simply portray their views masked as facts.

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      • KC,

        This post and all of your comments and those of your atheist brethren are nothing but opinion masquerading as fact.

        You and your atheists brethren are Utopeans who seek heaven on Earth.

        But as was described by Plato in his “Republic,” and demonstrated by every Marxist/atheist regime on the planet, heaven on Earth requires merciless oppression and mass murder.

        The oppression starts by eliminating religion since it is religion that appeals to man’s better nature.

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      • John,

        Seeking the best possible society is a far cry from Marxist/atheist Utopianism.

        It just doesn’t make much sense to will God out of exist simply because he doesn’t conform to the Marxist/atheist obsession with creating Heaven on Earth.

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  16. “This post and the accompanying comments by atheists prove conclusively that atheists possess a virulent hatred for the Bible and its teachings.”

    It is you who deny Malevolence. It is you He hates. You he condemns. You He’ll flay. You will learn His hate as no other for you have no Faith. You bend reality to you, and that is sacrilege. Woe unto he who fails to have Faith in that which is true. One God. One Truth. One way. One. The way of Malevolence. The way of God is not what you think it is, it IS what it IS. THAT is Faith. THAT is real. THIS is impossible to deny! THIS is ALL TRUE!

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  17. Aren’t we making choices throughout our whole lives? Some are small and incidental, some have major impact, and those major choices will have varying degrees of good or bad consequences. The choices we make eventually shape our own concept of reality.

    Some may argue that since God created Adam, Eve, Lucifer, and the Tree, then placed them all together He had to have know what would happen, so God created sin.

    Although God provided the opportunity to sin, He did not create sin. With the free will to make choices human beings would be little more than robots. God commands, pleads, and encourages us to follow Him. He promises blessings, fellowship, and protection when we obey. But He does not chain us.

    The opportunity to sin is inherent in our freedom of choice. We can choose to seek God, which leads to righteous living. Or we can choose to follow our own inclinations, which lead away from God.

    Without a perfect standard, there is no way to determine whether something is imperfect. Without the absolute standard of God’s glory, every word or action would be judged by the faulty, shifting standard of imperfect people. Every rule, law, and moral tenet would become a matter of opinion. And man’s opinion is as varied and changeable as the weather.

    If a builder builds upon a foundation that is not square, he risks the integrity of the entire project. The building does not get better as it goes up; it gets weaker and more out of line. However, when the starting point is perfect, the rest of the structure will be sound. Moral foundations work the same way. Without God’s moral law, we have no way of knowing right from wrong. Sin is moving away from what is right. The further we get from God’s moral standard, the worse the sin becomes.

    gospeltruth.net/menbornsinners/mbs05.htm
    amatteroftruth.com/the-false-doctrine-of-original-sin
    gotquestions.org/did-God-create-sin.html#ixzz2uvriY3zk

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    • @Bobbie, “Although God provided the opportunity to sin, He did not create sin. With the free will to make choices human beings would be little more than robots.”

      Bobbie , you’re missing the point. Genesis clearly states that Adam NOR Eve knew the difference between good and evil until AFTER they ate of the fruit. If God as you said, “provided the opportunity to sin” BEFORE they had the knowledge of good and evil, then it is GOD’s fault , not theirs. Had GOD given them the knowledge of good and evil before he commanded them not to eat, THEN it would have been their fault. Get it ???

      I’m not making this stuff up. This is right out of the bible. Think about what it says !

      Gen 3:5 The serpent tells Eve that Hashem (god) knows on the day they eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, their eyes will be opened and they will be like Hashem (god) knowing good and evil.

      So how could Adam and Eve realized the consequences of their actions until they ate of the fruit ? They had no concept of good and evil till that moment.

      Twist it all you want. I am not twisting anything. Go get your bible and read it for yourself.

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      • I’m still waiting on Ken, you see, I had the last reply.

        I will say I have discovered that when anyone who doesn’t believe the Bible as truth uses one verse to prove their bias is truth, they are usually wrong. This is true with his interpretation of Genesis Chapter 3 when he pulls out verse 5.

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    • First, I got my Bible and find you pulled Gen 3:5 out of context.

      The serpent boldly questions the authority of God: “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the Garden?” (Gen. 3:1). This was Satan’s crafty inquiry; and had the Word of God been dwelling richly in Eve’s heart, her answer might have been direct, simple, and conclusive. To raise a question, when God has spoken, is blasphemy. Thus, the question, “Hath God said?” was followed by the LIE: “Ye shall not surely die.” But the enticement to induce Eve to disobey the command of God was hidden in the Deceivers argument: “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be AS GODS, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). YE SHALL BE AS GODS! Can we not see by this that man was grasping after GODHOOD, which godhood gave him the right to CHOOSE FOR HIMSELF whether to obey God or not obey Him! This godhood, furthermore, was to bring to man the knowledge of good and evil, the innate ability to discern and choose between the good and the evil. Thus, the doctrine of “free moral agency” was spawned by the devil in Eden’s fair Garden, and the fruit thereof was the fall! And the lie is still preached from the pulpit of the apostate churches all over the world-the lie that man has the power and the right to CHOOSE FOR HIMSELF between God and the devil, between sin and righteousness, between redemption and man’s own way, and that this “choice” of man is final and irrevocable.

      Man’s effort at free moral agency was his attempt at godhood. Man became a “god” all right, in the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – but he became a god in the wrong realm – the demigod of a lower realm – for at the same time that God acknowledged man’s “deity” (Gen. 3:22) He also CAST HIM FROM THE GARDEN, cast him from the heavenly realm, and set him in the earth “to till the ground from which he was taken.” And from that day to this man has discovered to his sorrow that he definitely is not a free moral agent, for man’s boasted freedom is in truth “the bondage of corruption”; he “serves divers lusts and pleasures”; he is “sold under (slavery to) sin”; his will is biased toward evil, and therefore he is free in one direction only, namely, in the direction of evil. He is unable to fulfill the role of godhood he assumed. He cannot weigh good over evil and come out on top, because his desires are filled with the mystery of iniquity. “There is none righteous, NO NOT ONE!”

      Secondly, the sin Adam committed was disobedience. The result of his disobedient choice was a knowledge God hoped to perhaps prolong.

      Think about it this way…My wife and I created a child. She was beautiful, sweet, loving, and precious. A little 2 year old bundle of joy innocent of the concept of good and evil or the consequences those choices bring.

      If I was God and had the very real power of keeping my precious creation in that 2 year old state would I? Being God I would know this precious thing would grow and face making choices and the choice of disobedience is an option open to her because that’s how I created her. She will eventually reach an age to make a choice to love me and follow instruction, seek my counsel, or not.

      So, in this analogy, we see Gods position. Does he create perpetual 2-year-old minded loving robots who are unable to chose love and obedience, or not?

      To me, it isn’t so much the consequence of (knowing good and evil) that is the most important teaching. To me, it is the fact that disobedience separates us from God.

      When addressing the unsaved, an evangelist might drew an analogy between God’s sending of the Gospel to the sinner, and a sick man in bed, with some healing medicine on a table by his side: all he needs to do is reach forth his hand and take it. But in order for this illustration to be in any way true to the picture which Scripture gives us of the fallen and depraved sinner, the sick man in bed must be described as one who is blind (Eph. 4:18) so that he cannot see the medicine, his hand paralyzed (Rom. 5:6) so that he is unable to reach forth for it, and his heart not only devoid of all confidence in the medicine but filled with hatred against the physician himself (Jn. 15:18).

      Christ came here not to help those who were willing to help themselves, or even those willing to be helped, but to do for people what they were incapable of doing for themselves: “To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house” (Isa. 42:7).

      biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Gen+3&version=NIV
      tentmaker.org/books/FreeMoralAgent-Eby.html
      peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#14

      Like

      • Bobby, heads-up, when you’re copy n’ pasting entire sections of other people’s work its customary to put those sections in “quotation marks” so everyone knows the thoughts aren’t yours… as is pretty much everything you are posting here. Attaching the URL’s isn’t enough. We, of course, have to look out for your plagiarising, as you’ve been caught countless times in the past.

        Now, don’t you think J Peston Eby would be a tad upset with you for stealing his words without acknowledgment? That’s the kind of thing that makes Jesus cry, you know…

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      • from http://www.reasonwithme.com/2013/03/18/when-atheists-are-assholes/

        “My encounter with Asshole David made me realize that I have to work harder at being a better atheist. I have to be louder and more present than the jackass atheist. I don’t want to be in a group with people like David and if he is debating believers, they won’t want to be part of the atheist camp either. Atheists have the power to make great change. Someone who is on the fence about religion may be able to make the leap to atheism if they meet up with the right atheist who demonstrates that you can be good without god. But if that same person meets David, they will retreat into that world of delusion, most likely, for the rest of their lives convinced that atheism is wrong.

        Theists are not the enemy. Most atheists were just like them at one point. Why treat them like shit?”

        Um, why does this atheist think another atheist is an asshole jackass?

        No. I don’t think he would be upset at all. Now if I copy and past the entire thing on my blog he might. If I use it to show you where you are wrong I think he would be happy.

        ex_atheist.com/how-could-I-ever-have-been-so-wrong

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      • Quotation marks, well done! See, it wasn’t that difficult, was it? Appropriately crediting other people’s efforts is the right thing to do, I think you’d agree, which makes it all the greater mystery why you simply stole other peoples essays in the past and tried to pass them off as your own work.

        Now you can resume your chat with Ken, I believe he has already outwitted you quite spectacularly, but I’m afraid to say we’ll all have to fact-check every line you write just to make sure you haven’t slipped back into your plagiarising ways which Ron so effectively unearthed.

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      • Thanks John for your kind comments. I’m not always right but I am always open to the truth. If you truly care about knowing the truth you have no problem when someone presents facts which are more convincing than the ones you possess. I’m always open to correction. So far I have not seen any evidence to change my position on Free Will and Original Sin.

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      • bobby, first I must say I find it more than offensive for you to say there are no ex-theists just conmen, liars and whatever else you think. This is a careless remark. That aside, let us look at Genesis 3 and use a little common sense that I hope you are capable of applying.
        Before I venture to the bible verse[ I will use the NIV] that to say to raise a question when god has spoken is blasphemy. I have always felt that blasphemy is to talk against the priest. Your comment here describes a tyrant. One who commands can’t be questioned, one that expects blind obedience. How do you manage to hold such a belief?
        You have exempted god from the creation of sin while acknowledging that he created the opportunity for sin. Granting you, for the purpose of this argument that there is a god and that what the bible says is true, then there was no expenditure in energy when god created for he did this by willing. It wouldn’t have caused it anything to make man without the opportunity to sin. If you insist on this line of argument, you must necessarily accept that sin serves a purpose god had in mind. A purpose unknown to us. To impute on man the responsibility for sin while exempting god is to refuse to be reasonable.

        Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

        Is it man’s responsibility the serpent is as we are told he is?

        The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’

        where was god to help Eve out of this mess? Was he unaware that she was being tempted? Had Eve any idea of what it meant to die? Is there any force in such a threat? If we are to believe the bible, we will have to imagine they have been created as adults in a place where there is no death. How was this threat meant to work?

        “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

        The question to ask, is why does god not make man with this knowledge? What threat was it to god if after creating man in his image, he had also created him with such knowledge?
        Elsewhere you quote someone

        “to till the ground from which he was taken.

        but in Genesis 2, it appears god creates man to till the ground for it says

        and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground

        and as such it is not that man has to till the ground because he is fallen but because he was created to till it.
        The argument that man is a free agent, is a priestly creation, to make man responsible for his actions and suitable for punishment. There is no rational basis for thinking man is a free agent in any sensible way.
        Your analogy of creating a two year old is too simplistic and is not a true representation of the facts as they are- if we can call them so- Adam and Eve we are not told at what age and in what state of mind are they created. They have had no opportunity for growth or learning. Their first experience with the world is to meet a being more knowledgeable than they are. If god had intended they don’t fall to such temptation, it was in his power to make them so. To claim otherwise is to admit that this god was constrained in what he could and couldn’t do.
        In my view, this problem is easy to solve if we take Satan and god to be alter ego of the same individual, the malevolent creator of all that is. In this way, it is easier to explain it’s creating man with the option to sin. The christ story is a horse that has been beaten enough times that I consider it a waste of time to make a response to you on it.
        I will grant you for this debate that there is a creator but the creator is malevolent and capricious. You have no good reason to continue to worship such a being.

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  18. I’m still waiting on Ken, you see, I had the last reply.

    I will say I have discovered that when anyone who doesn’t believe the Bible as truth uses one verse to prove their bias is truth, they are usually wrong. This is true with his interpretation of Genesis Chapter 3 when he pulls out verse 5.

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    • Might be useful for you to know Ken was until recently an ardent theist who also taught Sunday school. I’m pretty confident in saying he knows his bible, and he certainly hasn’t “twisted” anything.

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      • John, I now see why our friend Ark loses it with some of these bloggers. I now see how someone like Charles Manson was able to indoctrinate his group of followers to go out and murder people. If Satan had existed, indoctrination would have been his child.

        wikipedia definition, “It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned”

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      • Ark does try to appeal to their reason, which is a goodhearted mistake. I’m however appreciating your efforts Ken, quoting from the Etz Hayim was brilliant, but sometimes i think we have to accept that there just isn’t a semipermeable membrane where information can flow and feed the cell behind. When someone (Bobby) can’t understand why its wrong to paste an unaccredited 500-word hunk of someone else’s work (to make it look like his own) then we’re dealing with a “special kind” of anomaly.

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      • I purchased the Etz Hayim some months ago based from a post you made. I wanted to verify what you were saying as being correct, which I did. Not that I doubted you. 🙂 I think I have used this on several occasions to add some weight to my arguments . Thanks for making me aware of it !

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  19. Bobbie , here is what the ETZ HAYIM (Torah and Commentary) has to say about Gen 3

    Pp18, “The account of Adam and Eve disobeying God’s command in the Garden of Eden is a strange and elusive story. If they gained a knowledge of good and evil by eating the forbidden fruit , does that mean that they did not know good from evil before that? If so, how could they be held accountable for doing wrong ? Moreover we note that neither here or anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible is their act characterized as a sin, let alone the Original Sin. There is no indication that this represents a permanent rupture of the divine-human relationship. ”

    “Some commentators see the serpent as God’s agent: God wants Adam and Eve to grow up and become fully human, acquiring a knowledge of good and evil, rather than remaining at the level of obedient animals.”

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  20. The Oxford Bible Commentary says about Genesis 3:5 , “In its conversation with the woman, the serpent asserts that God’s threat of immediate death for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a false one. The acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil (that is, of wisdom) will lead rather to the human pair of becoming “like God” ”

    This is saying that Adam and Eve eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil will acquire the knowledge of good and evil.

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  21. It matters not whether I believe in the truth of the bible. I still study it most every day . Like most students of the bible, I also use commentaries. I am always learning and don’t mind being corrected if I am wrong. That’s what truthseekers believe.

    I don’t think I have misinterpreted this scripture, but will be open to any additional sources you might have.

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  22. There is no ex-theist John. Maybe liars, con-men or those duped into being unwilling agents of the great Deceiver, but no ex-believers.

    God is responsible for what happened in the Garden. J Peston Eby writes, “What shall we conclude then? Is there injustice on God’s part? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then God’s gift is not a question of human will and human effort, but of God’s mercy. It depends NOT on ones own willingness … but on God having mercy on him. http://www.tentmaker.org/books/FreeMoralAgent-Eby.html

    Adam and Eve are not off the hook for disobedience. When given a command to not eat, then they do eat, their reality before and after breaking the command changes. Before they knew not, after they new. And as always there are consequences to disobeying authority. There are consequences to our choices, even if we make a choice based on a lie.

    For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, I have raised you up for this very purpose of displaying My power in dealing with you, so that My name may be proclaimed the whole world over. So then He has mercy on whomever He wills (chooses) and He hardens, makes stubborn and unyielding of heart, whomever He wills.

    “You will say to me, Why then does He still find fault and blame us for sinning? For who can resist and withstand His will? But who are you, a mere man, to criticize and contradict and answer back to God? Will what is formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus? Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same mass one vessel for beauty and distinction and honorable use, and another for menial or ignoble and dishonorable use?” (Romans. 9:14-21, Amplified).

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    • Bobbie, why do you keep referencing J. Preston Eby ??? You are the first one I have seen on a blog to reference him. Do you have a problem using widely accepted commentaries ?

      @Bobbie, “There is no ex-theist John. Maybe liars, con-men or those duped into being unwilling agents of the great Deceiver, but no ex-believers.”

      Why is it when people do not accept comments by others, they can only issue personal attacks rather than engage in reasonable debate?

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  23. @Bobbie, “Adam and Eve are not off the hook for disobedience. When given a command to not eat, then they do eat, their reality before and after breaking the command changes. Before they knew not, after they new.”

    You just affirmed what I have been saying all along. “Before they knew not, after they (k)new”

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  24. First, why do I keep referring to whoever????Because I pull from others words. John wants quotation marks and links whenever I do that. I guess when he can’t argue against the substance of what I post he has to find something to rip me on. The fact is, the truth words I sometimes pull from, are not written by me, but written by the Spirit through others.

    Being “Widely accepted” does not automatically make them true.

    I don’t think I have ever personally attacked you. IF you state you are an ex-theist then it isn’t personal. I will tell everyone who thinks that, that they are mistaken. There is no such thing.

    Ken, I find your your lack of Scriptural knowledge evident for another reason now.

    SOM states, “Innocence is not a biblical concept that is applied to man, except with regard to Jesus Christ and his mother Mary.”

    You then ask, “You didn’t answer my question. What would you describe their (Adam and Eve) state of mind prior to eating the fruit if not “innocence” ?

    SOM then reply’s, “KC, What is the state of mind of someone who betrays their father at the word of a liar?”

    You then reply, “SOM I am not attacking you personally, but you are attacking me. Nice Christian !”

    This exchange indicates you have a limited idea about Genesis 3:5 because you do not know versus 1-4. SOM was not calling you a liar. He was referring to the Master Liar, the Evil One who duped Eve into disobeying Gods command. And by the way, God was right, “they surly did die”.

    And finally, I fail to see fully your point whether innocent before is relevant or not. God told them do not do a certain thing. They did it anyway and ushered it the ability of ALL of us to disobey his commands.

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  25. Bobbie, I don’t just go out and find sources off the internet . I use solid references like Commentaries widely accepted by the Jewish and Christian religions. I have presented these sources to you as evidence for my comments.

    “Ken, I find your your lack of Scriptural knowledge evident for another reason now.”

    You haven’t displayed any scriptural knowledge in your comments. You have copied and pasted words by someone whom you can’t even spell his name right ” J P(r)eston Eby who is NOT regarded as a credible scholar .

    In addition , your comments have been all over the place like someone who might have multiple personalities. This is not meant to be an insult but an observation.

    If this is the best you have to offer, I suggest you buy some reference books from accredited scholars and study them before you comment on something like this again.

    The best to you !

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  26. “There is no ex-theist John. Maybe liars, con-men or those duped into being unwilling agents of the great Deceiver, but no ex-believers.” Poor Bobbie. Surely there’s no point in trying to extract any rational points from someone that seriously lost in the forest of delusion. We can just shake our heads sadly and hope that he chooses one of the less harmful versions of Christianity.

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    • Bobbie also says, “The fact is, the truth words I sometimes pull from, are not written by me, but written by the Spirit through others.”

      Dang ! I wish I had known this earlier. I could have have a lot of $$$ by not buying over 400 books on the subject of the bible and christianity. All I needed to do was rely on the “spirit” through others.

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    • I’ll give young Bobbie a bit of a break here. Not only because he’s a smokin’ hot stud of a man (Those galsses. Hot!), but because he’s right in a way. There can’t be ex-theists since there are really no theists in the first place. When it gets right down to it, no really believes in gods or a god. If they did, if they REALLY knew, without doubt, that they were immortal and blessed by an eternal all-loving being, they wouldn’t be so defensive about folks pointing out silly shit in the Bible, like the god in it is an abusive dick, for example. It’s themselves they’re trying to convince when they defend nonsense with nonsense. To an immortal soul, saved by Superman, what bloody difference is it if I, or any other non-believer, believes what he or she does about the Bible and their cruel god? It matters because, deep down, there are no theists, and they know it. It’s a fact. Theists simply do not exist. See, I can define people with black and white thinking too. Can I have a fucking medal now?

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      • Those child-preachers are true theists; which means they are completely ignorant of reality. Not their fault, they’ve been dressed that way by their parents, but they believe, even though they don’t understand what it is they “believe” in.

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      • Naw. They just think they do. I say, they fear that what they think they believe in isn’t real, though they can’t truly define what it is they do believe in because it isn’t real, and they are afraid to contemplate a world that doesn’t have the undefined thing they believe is real really in it. See, no theists really exist. Just confused guys with glasses and crooked teeth.

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      • I think you’ve been deceived. Upon closer inspection, those glasses appear to have been copy/pasted onto his face. And that full set of hair looks suspiciously photoshopped, as well.

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      • Well I’ll be Lucifer’s Uncle Teddy from Arkansas! You’re right! That dog gone little plagiarizing rascal! How dare he play games with my heart, among other organs, if ya get my drift! Just wait til his father gets home! The self-aggrandizing bugger! No more asinine plagiarized arguments for a month, I’ll bet you!

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      • Me too. Though he is cute. A bit too young for my tastes now. He’s more likely to catch himself a nice Catholic priest child rapist in that guise. Careful. Those are rapists with Jesus on their side. They’re very dangerous and sneaky.

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  27. You guys are a riot. I changed my Avatar to express my feelings for you all.

    I read in 1 Peter 3 “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

    I will admit it is so hard for most of us, myself included, to always love our neighbor as ourselves, to turn the other cheek, and give to others in love. We still see it throughout the world; greed and strife, unhappiness and despair, and it’s sad to me it will always be this way until the thing that is greater than us all intervenes once and for all.

    All of you bless and encourage me and you don’t even know it. In opposition to you I search for meaning and purpose in Gods’ word and fall at His feet in awe that He chooses me, not for what I do, but by His will, grace and mercy.

    “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord…keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
    1 Peter 3

    I have a present for you all, but I need to borrow your arms for wrapping paper. You see, a hug is two hearts wrapped in arms. ~Author Unknown

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      • Perhaps. Perhaps it goes farther.

        I do miss Christos, theguywiththeeye.

        He let his domain go extinct and it was pretty cool, nothing like yours. I thought it funny how he would eventually start spewing a bunch of hateful crap here towards me but when I go to his website there was none of that stuff. Kids, they know not the power of words to build up, or tear down. Maybe his mom checked his site often.

        Could be Inspiredbythedivine1 is Chris since they use a lot of the same words.

        RIP Chris http://immortalnobody.com/

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    • Bobbie, it is not my intention to talk anyone into being an atheist. It is my intention to debate the bible in an open manner and let the truth fall where it may.

      Having been a christian for almost 50 years, I believed most everything you believed. What we are taught from childhood on is not always the truth. I’m not saying we have been lied to but many well intended people teach us stuff they themselves have little knowledge of.

      This is why we need to study sources outside our comfort zone sometimes. I know in the churches I belonged to, many people I held in high esteem had little or no formal education in the subjects they taught. They simply used the knowledge they received from other people who were less informed than they were.

      I mean you no harm but challenge you to really look at things with eyes wide open and be prepared to receive the truth where ever it leads you.

      The best to you !

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      • We can debate the Bible Ken. Just by it’s very nature there will always be a rebuttal to Johns’ posts since no one can use Scripture against itself. Like I said, it blesses me to search for meaning and purpose in Gods’ word.

        If you may, give me the definition of a Christian, since you say you used to be one.

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      • Bobbie, I already know that you think it’s impossible to be a Christian then not be one.
        “There is no ex-theist John. Maybe liars, con-men or those duped into being unwilling agents of the great Deceiver, but no ex-believers.”

        You have already called me a liar, con-man or just duped by the great deceiver.

        This is a ploy you current Christians use on us who no longer believe. You can’t wrap your head around the possibility of losing faith. Instead you have to convince yourself that I was never a Christian to begin with. You are judging me by doing this which I think you’re not suppose to be doing according to scripture. Let’s just leave it there.

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      • It isn’t me saying there is no such thing as an ex-Christian, it’s the Bible. That must be why you avoided answering my question, you know what a true Christian really is. Losing faith, or falling away, is also non-Biblical rubbish.

        We can leave it there if you want. I usually end up agreeing to disagree with most of you anyway.

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      • “It isn’t me saying there is no such thing as an ex-Christian, it’s the Bible”

        You might be right , Bobbie but I don’t recall the scripture(s) in the Bible where is specifically says this. Would you mind providing them here for me ? Thanks !

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      • Sure. First read John 3 about what it is to be “born again”. The meaning behind the reference Jesus makes in John 3:14-15 is found in Numbers 21.

        Being a Christian actually involves a spiritual transaction (new birth), then obviously someone could not have been an authentic Christian at one point, only to find out that it is now NOT true and that the God they thought they worshiped does not, nor has ever existed. It either was true or it was never true. No one can have it both ways.

        So the “ex-Christians” who firmly believe that they WERE Christians, but are no LONGER Christians are kidding themselves. They were NEVER authentic, spiritual new-birth Christians, and they should be willing to admit it, instead of continuing an illogical game of “God existed when I WAS a Christian, but now He not only does NOT exist, but never did”.
        :
        We are given the possible outcomes of those who hear Gods word in a parable in Mark 4:3-8. The parable is explained in Mark 4:14:20.

        Some hear Gods Word and will either;

        1. Lose it because Satan immediately comes and takes away the word.
        2. Receives the word with joy, but when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
        3. Hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 4. Hears the word and accepts it and bears fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

        Consider The Gospel of Thomas, a Coptic text , found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt.

        A found a good interpretation of The Gospel of Thomas by HW Hodgetts at http://www.gospelofthomasfullyinterpreted.com/logia-1-to-10

        Verse 2: Jesus said, “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.”

        Let’s break these three sentences down to discover truth.

        “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.”

        “To seek is to search for. You must know yourself and the true nature of what the Self is. The questions to the answers we seek relate solely to the Self, such as, “I am?” or, “what am I”? or, “to what am I referring to when I use the word “I”?” What is the nature of this thing that I am. What is this “I” that looks out into the world, but always remains separate from it?” (I’m skimming the surface here on the Spiritualism of God.)

        “When he finds, he will become troubled, he will be astonished.”

        “When you realize that you are not of the world (not a physical being) and that you are not in the world, and you realize that you need nothing of the world to sustain your existence. When you also realize that there is nothing that is of the world or materiality that can penetrate into your mind/domain, and cause damage to the Self, then you will become astonished, fearless and empowered as your own master, an untouchable, uncontrollable, free willed spiritual being.”

        “And he will rule over the All”.

        “The All refers to all of reality, both spiritual and material. It is the substance that all things (forms) are made from and are within. It is an infinite field of indestructible, eternal energy. The material and spiritual realms, including the Father, Heaven, the Self, and the mind are all a part of ‘the All’. Each and every form of reality are components of ‘the All’. In this respect we are all one, and individuality is only found in the uniqueness of the form that each component of ‘the All’ takes, and in the awareness, desire and will of each soul.”

        Bible reference to a Christian:

        “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:8-10

        “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21

        “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” John 14:27-28

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      • “Our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction”. (2 Peter 3:15-16)

        Orthodox Christians fundamentally believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, the unity of the Bible and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We know that “all Scripture is God-breathed,” inspired by the same Spirit. The Pauline “letters” are part of that unity and the teachings they contain are equally inspired and in complete harmony with the rest of the Bible.

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      • You do realize that the Petrine epistles were not written by Peter, right? They weren’t even written by the same author. They’re pseudepigraphical (falsely attributed) works. In fact, Acts 4:13 states that Peter and John were unschooled men, and unschooled Jewish fishermen don’t usually write letters in polished Greek.

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      • Well, apart from Ron’s observation, Paul created his own religion and all guys follow him in the name being followers of Christ.
        Orthodox Christians can believe whatever they want, it doesn’t make it true, and I thought you knew this!

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      • I never said Paul’s epistles were written by Peter.

        You took Acts 4:13 out of context and gave it a different meaning, which I find is typical. I don’t think it is entirely due to ignorance but a desperate attempt to find justification for not believing in the truth message of the Bible.

        Reading the fourth chapter of Acts we find Peter and John talking to the people. The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

        They arrested them and put them in custody until the next day. It states about five thousand men heard the Word and believed.

        The next day the rulers, elders, scribes, Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family gathered and brought Peter and John in and asked them, “By what power or by what name did you do what you do?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead – by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

        Next comes your glorious verse 14!

        Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

        All those smart educated unbelievers SAW the man who was healed standing beside Peter and John and they had nothing to say in opposition.

        They then dismissed Peter and John and conferred with one another saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

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      • Bobbie,

        Kindly re-read what I wrote. I asked if you realized that the Petrine epistles were not written by Peter. Acts 4:13 was presented to show why Peter couldn’t have written the letters attributed to him. The background story in Acts is immaterial to what’s being discussed.

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  28. Some Bible scholars believe the Apostle Peter did not write 1 and 2 Peter but they most likely are wrong. If I were to have to bet my life on whether or not there is a good reason why the Petrine Gospels are in the Bible I would bet on ‘there is good reason’.

    This article makes a good case in favor of the authenticity of 1 Peter.
    http://www.catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/who-wrote-1-peter

    This one makes a valid case that 2 Peter is authentic, “[it] was accepted into the canon of Scripture. And if 2 Peter is Scripture, and if Scripture is inerrant, then the author must be the one whom the word of God says he is
    bible.org/article/2-peter-peter%E2%80%99s

    Acts was written by Luke.

    Acts 4:13 ESV reads, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

    Acts 4:13 EXB “The leaders saw that Peter and John were ·not afraid to speak [bold; confident], and they ·understood [discovered; found out] that these men ·had no special training or education [or were common/ordinary and uneducated;  no formal training from a rabbi in teaching Scripture]. So they were amazed. Then they realized that Peter and John had been with Jesus.”

    It is still often the case where the followers of Christ are perceived as unlearned and ignorant but the reality is, then and now, that is a misconception. Those who have ears should take knowledge of them.

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  29. Hey John! Thought I’d stop by and say hello and read your latest in the good fight against… belief? I’m not sure. But great to read a bit!
    I can’t say what all the theological and philosophical and historical arguments are about the existence of the Milddle Eastern god you speak of because I’m not that smart. But I do know this one thing, from personal experience: suffering is the one and only doorway out of our”selves”, out of the ego and into the true self — the observer behind our thoughts and actions, the “being” part of human being. (i.e., if “you” are doing something, who is the awareness behind it?) Attempting to wrastle with definitions regarding spirituality or a higher power or god or perfect peace, however that is to be defined, is pointless because it’s of a different mind. Literally. Mysticism and spirituality will make absolutely no sense to someone who has no belief in anything beyond the physical, material world or in the evolution of consciousness itself.

    Being the victim of undeserved brutality and suffering is something I don’t understand but accept as a part of life, in every myriad incarnation. For we humans, with our capacity for self-reflection and choice, the challenge of suffering is perhaps to respond with neither aggression nor victimhood, but to take the “third way” — holding the suffering while making no one else the victim, including ourselves. The symbolism of Jesus between the Good Thief and Bad thief, even the cross itself, holding two directions, is one of the many symbolisms of this — approaching the world in non-dualistic terms.

    I really appreciate some of your arguments and you are clearly very smart and a good writer, but I don’t understand why you care so much about what other people believe or don’t believe?

    xxL

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    • Hey there my friend. I think there’s plenty of room for mysticism and spiritualism. I’d in fact go as far to say it’s a necessary part of the human condition. In this regard I have no qualms whatsoever with deists or pantheists, although I’d probably lean more toward pantheism than deism. Eastern mystic traditions are wonderful. That said, modern expressions of evangelical Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and Fundamentalist Islam are abhorrent. I really see the need to exorcise such regressive things from our societies, and using this forum to show the illogical nature of the arguments tendered is my way of doing that. Just yesterday we had Michelle Bachmann declaring the apocalypse was imminent. That type of thing should not be accepted in enlightened societies. It’s dangerous and perverted. It does not promote peace and harmony.

      So, Humanism is the focus of this blog, not my life, but if there weren’t whacky creationists trying to get their nonsense taught in schools, or preachers perverting young minds I’d be happily hosting a blog on folklore and fairytales 🙂

      How’s your wonderful hen?

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      • SO TRUE John! Man, you should put that on your About page… or maybe it already is, I haven’t looked in a while. I didn’t appreciate the underlying motivation from the posts that I have read 🙂

        Miss Rufina is doing great, starting to lay again with the warm weather (which is good because I think she’s getting fat and that can be dangerous in warm weather….) I have a little collection of her magical eggs and if you didn’t live so far away, I would send you a few because I know you are her biggest fan!

        How’s things out your way?

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      • Things here are fine, although it was a horrible summer. Pleased to have some cooler weather now. Just coming off the backend of Carnaval which is never dull 🙂 and the World Cup is in 100-odd days, so that’ll be a two-month-long holiday for the country 😦

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    • If you allow me, Laura, I will say my two cents.

      You ask, why care about what other people believe or don’t believe?
      If every believer kept their beliefs in the private domain where they belong, no one would be writing it. I would be writing about architecture and posting love songs 😛 but everywhere you look, the church demands a place in the public square and in many spheres of life, they want to control what services are available to women, whether I can have access to assisted suicide and much more. We can’t sit aside and pretend that this will go away on its own. The only way to show the church deserves no serve respect in the public realm is to show its claims as false and based on flimsy or no foundations at all.

      Unlike my friend, the author of this post, I don’t think mysticism and spiritualism deserves any applause. IMO, they have as their source the misguided notions of revealed religion and it is only an attempt to run away from one difficulty to another.

      Many arguments by apologists have been one to establish a rational belief in theism and others proceed to argue for the truth of a particular god- in many cases the Judeo- Christian – Muslim god.

      I don’t know why we suffer. I don’t think it is to get to know our true self, whatever that is. I have seen people suffer to the point of losing their minds or others loosing their self. I wouldn’t call it a doorway to anything. Well there are those like you who have seen some benefit in suffering. If I could achieve the benefit without the suffering, I would take that option.

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      • Yes, the meddling… we must never forget the thoughtless meddling.

        Out of interest, my friend, you don’t think there’s room for pantheism in the human condition; a notion of the interconnectedness of nature?

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      • I have no problem with the pantheist. A person who believes in the disconnectedness of nature. The ones I disagree with are the spiritualists for the simple reason that the idea of spirituality is an idea without a model

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      • Spiritualists don’t have a model, true, but i mean spiritualism in the individual sense. No societal harm is produced when people see the universe as one living system. In many ways that’s how I see it, and it motivates me to protect all. The natural urge is, however, to then seek out a consciousness in that system, and that’s when the concept branches off into multiple thought streams, and those estuaries sometimes coalesce into a “religion.” When that happens we have problems, as all religion proceeds by denial. Truth statements are power plays, but when we reach that stage we’re no longer talking about individual spiritualism.

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      • To the extent where a person sees the universe as one living system, I have no qualms whatsoever. Such a view encourages one to take care of his neighbor and the universe at large and this person is most likely, in my view, to be earthbound than heaven looking.

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      • Interesting perspective, Makagutu.

        My question was not so much why write about whatever one wants, but why argue an argument that is simply not going to change a single thing amongst people who are set in their own beliefs, whatever they may be. Life is so big.

        There’s more than a world of difference between trying to change or limit the actions of corporate “religion” in the political, medical, sexual, women’s rights, and other areas where they have no business being, and arguing as to why there is no single god. It’s futile to argue the latter, and more practical to argue the former from a social justice/human rights platform. I actually have my more in common with my friend John on those issues than fundamentalist Christians, though I am my self a very liberal Catholic, recognizing the difference between the dogma invented by celibate old men and the roots of the tradition (and it’s only one tradition of many, all leading to the same journey).

        Lumping the entire existence of single-god faith or belief into a sum of its fundamentalist parts is just not a good argument in my mind because it’s a completely different animal than authentic, mature spirituality, which has nothing to do with controlling other people or their bodies, accumulating wealth, victimizing other people, starting wars, or making other people wrong. I completely understand why they are often viewed as one in the same because if a person has not taken the time to really learn about the other, less public/politicized aspects of solo-god faith (including non-literal interpretations of scripture taking into account the cultural, symbolic, psychological and metaphorical aspects–and it’s ALL metaphor–), it will make no sense. Like trying to understand poetry by defining each word with a dictionary, when really, the power is in between the words.

        The mystery of suffering. I don’t think it’s worthwhile to wonder why it happens, because it does. But the question is always, in my opinion: what now? After the completely justified grief and pain, rage…. honoring every feeling that has sprung from the horrific experience… what now? Let it paralyze you and victimize you for the rest of your life, a bitter and angry person? Either sit in the corner licking your wounds, looking for someone to blame, or transform it. Perhaps it’s a matter of hitting rock bottom and finding that there is a false bottom, having nowhere else to turn for relief than a faith in something bigger than you or the circumstances of your suffering. People who have been there and survived, climbed out on the other side, understand what that is about. I don’t mean to sound elitist because no one gets off scott-free with a life devoid of suffering… but not everyone will allow themselves to be broken. I read once, “God comes to you disguised as your life.” It’s all lessons in love and forgiveness, but how do you do that?

        Regarding the true self, look into the works of Carl Jung (personal vs. shadow) and that will be a good start. True self is the opposite of the ego, which is identified with prestige, power, reputation, image, etc. Everything that is impermanent and ultimately meaningless.Trust me, the stories told in the new Testament are vastly more interesting/relevant when one can understand the multiple layers of meaning woven in with the literal. I would recommend a couple people to read or listen to if you really wanted to investigate other perspectives; but, like I said, I’m not interested in trying to convince anyone of anything because it is useless. And I’ve got chickens!! THey teach me a lot about faith too. 🙂

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      • I don’t keep chicken myself, but love their eggs for Sunday breakfast 😛 and I hope you don’t find this offensive.

        Regarding self, I have read a bit of Buddhist literature and you may find those quite enlightening. I will include Jung’s book in my to read. The people you want me to listen all make their own interpretations. The bible comes with no manual. Is there reason to put an interpretation by someone above your own?

        Well, many people have come out of suffering feeling better about themselves and that I didn’t deny. I only said there are a majority who in one way or another were scarred for life or died in the process.

        I agree that it pays more to talk about the social and economic issues than argue whether god or gods exist.

        As I have said in my response to John, that the modern man’s idea of spirituality in many instances is an idea without a model and am not being pedantic .

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      • I don’t find any of this offensive, I love dialogue, and I’m glad you like eating eggs — me too! :0

        Quickly, and then I’m off to Mass (seriously… which I think is funny given the conversation 🙂 — I have read a bit of Buddhism and certainly find a lot of truth there! Here in the US, there’s a big trend toward the Eastern religions right now (to varying degrees of authenticity, some being what I call “Buddhist-flavored” because they talk the talk and wear the beads, but don’t walk the walk… like many in the Christian traditions too…). I also find a lot of truth in Native traditions here in the US.

        And why learn about other people’s perspectives? Well, like studying any great literature — if the professor sits there and spouts his own opinion/interpretation all day it gets boring real fast. But if they incorporate science, history, other works, and other ideas into their own teaching, it can be fascinating. I guess it’s just a matter of what resonates with you (“you” subjectively).

        I’m off, but have a great Sunday!
        Laura

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      • I’m cooking eggs now, thanks for making me hungry — final, final thought: are you familiar with Liberation Theology? Probably, being in SA, but just in case, reading a bit about that may also be interesting to you 🙂

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      • Am not in SA but the old place- Kenya. No I haven’t read anything on Liberation Theology but can find time to read a few short articles on the matter.
        And you don’t have to go away for mass 😛 I used to be catholic we can have mass here and John won’t mind.

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      • Laura’s blind hen, Rufina, certainly deserves to be worshiped. She was shot through the head, sealed in a plastic bag and thrown into a freezer overnight (believed to be dead). The next day the bag was opened and out sprung Rufina, ALIVE! Laura gave her a much deserved home. That’s one hell of a fine chicken! 🙂

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  30. I think we can all agree that there can only be one truth , that is, a human being is a spiritual being living in a material world, or not.

    Andrew Cort, writes about the two alternatives in his article at

    http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/are-we-spiritual-beings-or-material-beings

    “Great Spiritual Teachers have always counseled humanity that the world has meaning. Our soul has descended from the divine, and it has come here with an attainable purpose – a need for worldly experience, spiritual awakening, and perfection, before it returns once again to the divine. They tell us that the visible world is grounded in a higher order of reality, which is the source of life and life’s meaning, and which is only accessible through higher levels of Mind.

    This, of course, is a complete inversion of the dominant scientific view. Rather than the reductionist analysis of science, which takes for granted that the smallest material phenomena are the ‘real’ constituents of the universe, and that they explain and cause all the larger and higher-level phenomena, the Tradition presupposes that the lower can only be understood as issuing from, and caused by, the higher: The ‘whole’ is primary, not the parts.

    In the scientific scheme of things, life and consciousness are merely by-products of the accidental motions of inanimate matter. Thus, the ‘parts’ are primary – atoms, particles, quarks. In the Tradition, to the contrary, life and consciousness are the primary characteristics of reality: matter is the secondary offspring.”

    Andrew Cort
    spirituality-and-religion.com/

    So who is right, our spiritual teachers, or scientists? Those who believe in the scientific explanation of our existence do so on the grounds that they have no good reason to believe otherwise, and those who believe in the Divine, indwelling Spirit, feel Gods ‘arms’ wrapped around them and will not denounce that love even onto death.

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      • Animals also think, reason, communicate and can solve problems.

        I believe the spirit is the element in humanity which gives us the ability to have an intimate relationship with God. (John 4:24).

        I also believe the “soul” can refer to both the immaterial and material aspects of humanity. Unlike human beings having a spirit, human beings are souls. In its most basic sense, the word “soul” means “life.” However, beyond this essential meaning, the Bible speaks of the soul in many contexts.

        The soul and the spirit are connected, but separable (Hebrews 4:12). The soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are. The spirit is the aspect of humanity that connects with God.

        “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Unknown

        “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” — William James

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      • bobby,
        quoting scripture as evidence in a philosophical debate is like quoting popeye in a nuclear science class.
        There is nowhere in my comment that says animals don’t think.
        If soul means life, why not just call it life? What is gained by calling it soul?
        Unfortunately for you, man is what he is. He can’t chose what he desires, or what thoughts occur to him. The quote by the anon person is as such a deepity. It looks profound but it is devoid of anything meaningful.

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  31. This is such an interesting post, John.

    Thinking that “God could intervene (omnipotent), but doesn’t (indolent); not because he sinister or malevolent, but because he respects human free will”, well that is almost a fallacy …I think that the free will argument is an excuse rather than a consistent argument…

    Thanks for sharing…
    Best regards, Aquileana 😀

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    • Thanks my learned friend! I completely agree, but if you want a really interesting twist on the free will argument, check out the post titled: The Omnimalevolent Creator and the Problem of Good. It’ll leave your head spinning 🙂

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