Sketches on Atheism

The Failure of the Christian Narrative

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The Christian narrative states that a maximally powerful, maximally good, all-knowing aseitic being consciously created everything, including man who short-circuited shortly after. This failure resulted in the immediate separation of all earthly things, including man, from the Creator: the Middle Eastern deity named, Yhwh. The objective of life, according to the Christian narrative, is to return to communion with Yhwh. Failure to do so in a finite space of time (a single lifetime of indeterminate duration and unequal resources) will result in Yhwh tossing the individual into an abyss he created for his finest and most beautiful creation, an angel named Lucifer (Ezekiel 28:12,13), who also short-circuited sometime earlier. This is considered by Christians to be the ultimate punishment: an eternal separation from the god, Yhwh.

This narrative is wholesale nonsense.

As a theology (and scaffolding for a tremendously flawed accompanying theodicy), it is an extravagant work of self-annihilating absurdity. As a maximally good, aseitic being, everything was once part of perfection. That’s what aseity means. There was no-thing that was not already perfect. To argue otherwise is to concede Yhwh was not, in fact, perfect. Creation, therefore, destroyed this eternal harmony, this purity, and by this fact alone, the act of Creation can only be called maximally evil. Creation separated things from the perfect goodness. Creation expelled goodness and cast it into a state of imperfection, and that is evil. In the second instance, as Lucifer—Yhwh’s most perfect creation—had already failed, which was itself inevitable, then that means Yhwh consciously flung man into an already corrupted Creation, and that, too, is evil.

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262 thoughts on “The Failure of the Christian Narrative

  1. Could not agree more. Like Sally Field once said to Forrest Gump, “Evil is as evil does, Forrest.” A more truthful saying has never yet been uttered. Well, there is this one, I guess: “Trump is as Trump does.” But, if Trump isn’t proof of a malignant god with a sick sense of humor, what is?

    Liked by 5 people

  2. If I understood correctly, the quotation (Ezekiel 28:12,13) does not speak of hell or Lucifer. Ezekiel was warning Israel of Yhwh’s wrath.

    Maybe what the theologians fail to tell us is that not everything in the bible is to be understood literally. What I find most ludicrous is that the catholic church teaches its followers that the communion bread and wine are not the symbolic but the actual body and blood of Jesus. Is this not an assault on truth?

    I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that religion preaches a different kind of truth which is at variance with philosophical truth.

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    • True, that has no reference to hell. That bit is Matthew 25:41: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

      ”I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that religion preaches a different kind of truth which is at variance with philosophical truth.”

      I think dogmatic religion gets itself in all sorts of trouble when it takes rational truths and tries to dress them in supernatural notions.

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      • Wait a minute John, I’m disappointed in you. Your whole argument about the failure of the christian narrative (inclusive of both premises) is redundant. You could have done yourself a favour by quoting Yhwh himself directly:

        “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”  — Isaiah 45:7

        Why go around the bend when there is direct evidence?

        Liked by 3 people

    • I’m told that Catlicks genuinely really truly believe that they are cannibals. Gobbling human flesh and slurping human blood are acts of cannibalism, no matter how well the turkey is dressed up.

      Furthermore: yeuch

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      • Nah, the Carmelite nuns who took me through my First Holy Communion made it clear it was symbolic. Not sure if that is the norm, but Catholics are thoroughly normal when compared to evangelicals.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I was told that it was to be taken literally. Perhaps some of your readers might care to help clarify?

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      • Having been brought up as a Catholic, in a rather strict school I can second John, we were always told that the bread and wine symbolised his body and blood. Otherwise I’d have been sick as a dog on the spot and sent to confession and hell for the rest of my life.

        – esme remembering it all too well upon the Cloud

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      • “Transubstantiation (in Latin, transsubstantiatio, in Greek μετουσίωσις metousiosis) is, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the change of substance by which the bread and the wine offered in the sacrifice of the sacrament of the Eucharist during the Mass, become, in reality, the Body and Blood of Jesus …

        Transubstantiation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”

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      • I think the ‘symbolic only’ things is creeping in and becoming more widely accepted but is very much contra what used to be taught.

        To each his own …

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      • Yes I know what transubstantiation means Arg, I’m just telling you (and anyone else who’s about) that my experience and that of my peers in the region we lived were told it was symbolic. That was thirty-forty odd years ago mind you, and I also have no idea what’s taught in other countries. But that’s not creeping in really, that’s been there for years. I’m not a Catholic by the by, I’m against all forms of religion. I’m an escapee!

        – esme sane thank the Gods upon the Cloud

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  3. It seems like this is an articulation of the SUCCESS of the Christian narrative.

    1. God is perfection.
    2. Creation is imperfect as it is not God.
    3. Evil is anything outside of God’s perfection.
    4. Creation is evil.

    Am I misunderstanding something?

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    • Hi John, good to see you.

      Good rationale, and that confirms my point: the act of creation was maximally evil.

      There’s another way, however, of looking at this. If we are to take the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, to be an aseitic being, then nothing, not even Creation, is outside him, which would then indicate that Yhwh is himself corrupted, which is why those contingent things (shaped from himself) failed.

      Neither option is pleasant for the Christian.

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      • This article also highlights that concepts like corruption and evil cannot be discussed without reference to God. In order to make a coherent accusation of evil, you must acknowledge a standard of good.
        That isn’t pleasant for an atheist!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nonsense. The concepts are only being used here because the Christian first makes the claim that Yhwh (being the sole reason for this particular universe) is maximally good. For the purposes of this study, we move from that baseline.

        So, if we are to take the Christian narrative as presented, then you agree that either of these two statements are in fact true:

        1) the act of creation was evil, or

        2) the Creator, Yhwh, is a fatally flawed, corrupted aseitic being

        Liked by 1 person

      • “…only because the Christian first makes the claim that Yhwh…is maximally good.”

        Right. The Christian claims God is the standard of what is maximally good. This is why I suggested your article articulates the success of the Christian narrative.

        On what basis does an atheist claim either of these things:

        1) the act of creation was evil
        2)the Creator is fatally flawed or corrupt

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      • I think you’re confusing “claim” with “fact,” John.

        ”On what basis does an atheist claim either of these things:”

        Being an atheist, much like being a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Zoroastrian, or a tennis player, does not preclude a person from analysing the Christian narrative.

        So, to repeat:

        If we are to take the Christian narrative as presented, you agree then that either of these two statements are in fact true:

        1) the act of creation was evil, or

        2) the Creator, Yhwh, is a corrupted aseitic being

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      • Being a Chrsitian, much like being a Muslim, or a Hindu or a Zoroastrian, or a tennis player, does not preclude a person from asking about the atheist narrative.
        So to repeat:

        On what basis can you accuse God of evil or corruption?

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      • On the basis of the presented narrative, of course.

        So, if we are to take the Christian narrative as presented, you agree then that either of these two statements are in fact true:

        1) the act of creation was evil, or

        2) the Creator, Yhwh, is a corrupted aseitic being

        You did, of course, concede the first to be true in your first comment, so I just want to know if you stand by that, or perhaps feel more comfortable with the second option.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ok!
        You’re claiming that the act of creation was evil based on the Christian narrative. That’s what I’ve been saying all along! The Christian narrative is a successful explanation for the existence of evil!

        We agree.

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      • Terrific, except you have it backwards. The Christian narrative blames the existence of evil on man, and by that failure he (man) was separated from what the narrative calls perfection.

        The goal of Christianity is, of course, to return to perfection, or be punished by eternal separation.

        The failure of the Christian narrative (and its accompanying theodicy) is in recognising that by the act of creation, Yhwh, in fact, broke perfection, not man. Man was destined to fail as creation was already corrupted from the very beginning. The act of creation separated things from the perfect goodness, from perfection, and this is, self-evidently, an act of evil. Maximum evil, in fact. By the Christian narrative, Yhwh deliberately (consciously) destroyed the eternal harmony that had existed prior to creation.

        This then leaves two options, the first you have already conceded to be true (given the narrative), but I don’t think you’re particularly comfortable with that admission now:

        1) the act of creation was evil, or

        2) the Creator, Yhwh, is a corrupted aseitic being

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      • I’m not uncomfortable with the admission at all.

        It stands to reason that there would be no evil if God had not created anything. My son had a similar observation when he got into trouble at school one time. He told me, “It’s your fault for having me! I didn’t ask to be born!”

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      • All well and good, but you did not break what was already allegedly perfect.

        ”It stands to reason that there would be no evil if God had not created anything.”

        Precisely. As I pointed out, you therefore concede that the very act of creation was an act of deliberate, premeditated evil. By the Christian narrative, man did not cause the separation, Yhwh did, deliberately and knowingly.

        I’m glad you see the failure in the Christian narrative.

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      • Certainly not with a fatally flawed theodicy, nor any theodicy at all. Unlike a theist, such as yourself, an atheist is not dependent on an excuse to make sense of the universe.

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      • Evidently you don’t understand. An atheist doesn’t have to explain evil. Evil is a theistic notion. It does not exist in nature, just theology.

        Putting on my other hat, my theistic hat, I explain evil because the Creator is maximally wicked and finds pleasure in the suffering of all contingent things. That is why this particular world follows just one impulse: towards greater complexity. Without need for an excuse or elaborate theodicy, wickedness explains the world that is, has been, and will be. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are made clear without a clever cover story, inventive pretext, convenient scapegoat, or laboured advocacy; works of terrestrial imagination there only to present an unauthorised apologia for why things are not as they should be had matter been persuaded to behave by a benevolent hand, rather than a coherent testimony for why things are as they are in the unignorable presence of a Creator.

        Some have named a lesser species of this being the Devil, others The Deceiver, Ahriman, Abaddon, Mara, Baphomet, Apollyon, Iblis, Beast, Angra Mainyu, Yama, Moloch, The Father of Lies, The Author of Sin, Druj, Samnu, Mammon, and The Great Spoiler, yet these characters of human literature and tradition do not begin to approach the nature and scope of this entity who may be identified as simply, The Owner of All Infernal Names: a being who does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit, does not seek to be known to or worshipped by that which He has created (or has allowed to be created), and whose greatest proof of existence is that there is no conspicuous proof of His existence—just teleological birthmarks that can be isolated and examined as testimony—for He understands that the trinkets of His greatest amusement must be blind to the nature of the world they inhabit so they may act freely, and suffer genuinely.

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      • So we are still agreed that evil can’t be discussed without reference to God.

        And we’re agreed that atheism has nothing to say on the subject of evil.

        We still disagree about the meaning of the ‘Christian narrative’ but I don’t see us making any progress unless you’re willing to leave your ‘theistic hat’ on your head.

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      • What further progress is there to be made? You’ve already conceded the Christian narrative is a failed narrative. That was the point of this post. You’ve confirmed it. You agree: it’s a failed narrative. So, if the emotional need still exists inside you, then I wish you the very best of luck in your search for another religion… one perhaps not quite as conspicuously absurd as Christianity.

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      • Another religion? I’m not at the point of abandoning faith yet. As I said, you’ve outlined the success, not the failure, of the Christian narrative.

        If I were to leave Christianity, where would I go? What word view avoids all philosophical absurdity?

        Atheism? A philosophy that denies the existence of God and simultaneously makes Him the source of ‘maximum evil’ which also doesn’t exist.

        No. I’ll stick with my own brand of absurd.

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      • ”As I said, you’ve outlined the success, not the failure, of the Christian narrative.”

        No, you’ve conceded its failure. In fact, you conceded it in your very first comment: the act of creation was evil. Given the narrative (which claims Yhwh is good), the act itself was premeditated evil. It broke what is claimed to have been perfect… and it was shattered intentionally. That is the failure in the narrative, the failure you have conceded to be true.

        Atheism isn’t a philosophy. Perhaps you mean Humanism? Atheism is content-free.

        So you’re going to stick with a narrative you’ve admitted is demonstrably false?

        Interesting… Good luck with that.

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      • Atheism is whatever the atheist says it is. That’s what makes it appealing to people who don’t like being pinned down by philosophical constraints. You call everyone else ‘absurd’ and then retreat to your ‘non-position’ when asked what you believe to be true.

        I conceded that there would be no evil if there were no creation. I also mentioned that I dealt with this reasoning years ago when my children blamed me for their bad behavior. They were right. So are you. But what good does it do to agree about an alternate reality?

        Your difficulty is that you can’t even accept your own thesis as right or wrong. That would require a faith statement. You can’t admit that God created evil because that would mean God exists.

        I understand your conundrum. Continuing to insist that I’ve lost this argument does nothing to strengthen your own position. I understand why you’re doing it. You have no position to strengthen.

        Atheism is a void. It cannot comment. It can only critique. It can only describe what’s wrong with religion. It offers no alternative point of view. Your brand of atheism can’t even confess to being a philosophy.

        So good luck with that too.

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      • ”Atheism is whatever the atheist says it is.”

        No, atheism is content-free. Period.

        You call everyone else ‘absurd’

        I believe this post has only called the “Christian narrative” absurd, and you have agreed, it is.

        “Your difficulty is that you can’t even accept your own thesis as right or wrong.”

        That’s a strikingly bizarre comment considering you’ve already conceded the post is perfectly accurate.

        ”You can’t admit that God created evil because that would mean God exists.”

        You’re getting yourself all confused here, John. We are examining the Christian narrative. One does not need to believe the narrative to assess its absurdity and thorough failure… a failure you have conceded in your first comment. Do you have to believe in astrology, or ear candling, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Blessed be He) to know it’s nonsense?

        “Continuing to insist that I’ve lost this argument does nothing to strengthen your own position”

        Again, a strikingly bizarre comment considering you’ve already conceded the post is perfectly accurate: the Christian narrative is a failed narrative. Perhaps you should re-read your first comment. You haven’t “lost” the argument as you have not argued against the conclusion. You admit in your second premise that the act of creation was premeditated evil. Yhwh shattered what was claimed to have been perfect. That (the act itself) was evil, and that contradicts the narrative in two ways: 1) the claim that Yhwh is impossibly, maximally good, and 2) that man caused the separation, the breaking of what was perfect.

        “Atheism is a void.”

        Yes, it is content-free. That is what I said, isn’t it?

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      • To answer Mr Branyan’s queries—

        for myself I discuss Good and Evil with respect to humanity itself—particularly: me.

        However—

        1. “God is perfection.” Yet the Perfect created an imperfect product? Not good …

        2. “Creation is imperfect as it is not God.” I’m told that God is everywhere at all times. So it has to be ‘perfect’ but if not, why not? Did the Perfect artificer create a flawed product? If so, why? Being omniscient he couldn’t have been ignorant of the consequences. Compassionate?

        3. “Evil is anything outside of God’s perfection.” Sorry, can’t be. God is omnipresent, which means omni in all respects.

        4. “Creation is evil.” I admit I’m a but stumped on this one. How can the planet Jupiter be evil? Or a schlogg of foam in the surf on Orepuki Beach? Or Canopus? Or a shivering starving penguin chick in Antarctica whose daddy will never come home because of an unintended rendezvous with an orca? Or Andromeda itself? A wee bit of a slogan that could well do with some expansion, perhaps … if elucidating me isn’t an evil act (we gotta be careful here).

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      • @John Branyan, since our gracious host already put on his “other hat” I might take a poke at trying to explain “how does an atheist explain the existence of evil”. For sure, I am do not claim that all atheists would explain it like I do, but then neither do all Christians understand their narrative the very same way and a lot of them would propably refuse, or fail to recognize their version from what John Zande topic post described. That however, does not make my explanation, or the failure of the narrative as described in the topic post any less real. Does it?

        When we (both atheists as well as theists normally) speak of evil, we simply mean the deliberate cause of suffering. In reality most of suffering is not caused deliberately. For example, when I yesterday kicked my foot on the stool, there was suffering, but nobody planned or meant that suffering to exist. Not a single fibre of anything even remotely to be described as free will was used to cause that suffering. It was just something that happened. Hence, no evil occurred. However, if there existed a creator entity with maximal power within the limitations of logic, including an ability to foretel everything and be everywhere simultaneously, (as I have let myself be told is more precise description of the Christian view of a god instead of what has been for centuries been described and accepted inso illogical terms as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent), that entity would then be virtually responsible for absolutely everything.

        As long as we agree, that might does not make right, then a maximally powerfull entity is also maximally responsible. Exactly like an absolutely powerfull entity would be absolutely responsible. Agreed? And there lies the failure of the narrative as described by the exellent topic post. Yet a lot of Christians I have discussed with, do not agree with me, and see might makes right as a moral model, since they percieve that a god can not be held responsible, as their god supposedly weilds the extreme if not absolute role of the final arbitor of what is good, or evil. I see that as a failure of ethics and I am not too worried, since all religious people despite their creed, whom I have ever had the chance to talk to, have miserably failed to show any actual, not to even speak of verifiable, evidence for such a minimum requirement for me to take a suggestion as true, as even the existance of their various gods elswhere than in folklore material and their own imaginations.

        Calling out things as good or evil, is an ethical judgement, or infact a harm versus benefit analysis. No gods are required to explain anything when we recognize the observable, material reality around us. Indeed gods are failed explanations, not because they are obviously immoral, since they could just as well be that and that certainly would explain why they all expect and demand worship, like some spoiled brats, but because as explanations go, an explanation that can only be inferred to exist because it explains something should not confirm anybody. Not any more than an explanation of a bunch of fairies stealing socks is an explanation for lost socks.

        The dictionary defines evil as:

        1. Morally bad 2. Causing harm or injury to someone 3. Marked by bad luck or bad events.

        1. Morals is the norm of human conduct. It is represented by both what we agree upon and what could be the best conduct, if we knew all the facts about the possible reprecussions of any action, or inaction.

        2. Deliberate or a bit less than deliberate cause of harm. Harm may be caused by neglicence or indifference, but are we warranted to call that sort of evil, unless the indifference was indeed deliberate?

        3. Thinking that something is marked by something is clearly a superstitious failure of the human brain. Lucky socks do not necessarily bring victory in a game of footbal, but there are dudes who shall be sure to wear theirs, because they fear that not wearing the lucky socks would surely cause a loss. And they could because of the defeatist mentality of playing without them could cause – in their brains. Right?

        Are nuclear warheads evil? The making of them was an act of bringing to the world a potential to cause maximal suffering, but they were built with the best of intents of protection from terrible suffering. Does that make the items themselves evil, or marked by evil? Was there no deliberate evil intent behind them to create the possibility to cause extreme suffering? Where were gods or devils when those items were created? What keeps us from using them? Our shared understanding of social morals not to cause such harm regardless of our religious, or non-religious worldviews, perhaps?

        Liked by 4 people

      • My favorite (evil) metal lyrics of all time!

        Deathspell Omega “Drought” EP (2014)

        2. Fiery Serpents

        …I had a salowe vision
        wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions and drought
        …sand, in an abrasive swirling murk,
        covered the crackled book of life…

        A testimony
        from the dimension of regret.
        This voice comes
        from the second right after the disaster
        when all there is left to say
        in a distressed whisper is
        It is too late.
        The irreparable has been carved in stone
        and those made accountable for it are you.
        Standing, shivering in cold dim light
        waiting for the sentence of the Holy Dead
        like Adam and Eve at the end of time.

        One may argue that it was flawed
        since the beginning
        that the dice were loaded
        that God had it all within
        that He is the Source.
        O heavenly Father!
        pathogenic agent of contamination.
        harbringer of catastrophe,
        icon of the impending Fall:
        but what difference does it make?
        Altitudines Satana
        the vertigo of Liberty
        tipped the scales.
        A shadow of horror is risen.

        This will not be redeemed
        no matter how sincere the genuflection
        and ardent the confession.

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    • To paraphrase Captain Kirk:

      What does God need with a universe?

      Statement one (a perfectly self-contained being) precludes the act of creation. That is to say: a perfect being has no needs or desires.

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  4. So, the Perfect Creator created an imperfect product? Okayyyyy … the omniscient perhaps didn’t know what He (She, It? Them, They?) was/were (three of Him, don’t forget) (that’s what ‘Trinity’ means*) doing. That would have to be the first recorded case of selective amnesia, but of course the First Cause can do that too.

    So where’s your problem? Off you go now and reread your Bible, all the answers are in there—and if that doesn’t work try the Koran—both are the Holy Word and thus perfect.
    If you get really desperate in your ignorance and desire (nay, your thirst) for learning I can send the Mormons around to your home, or the Seventh Day Witlesses, or the Jehovah guys, or any of the other unique pathways to God (there’s hundreds of them, so you aren’t stuck for choice—and get this, each one is The Unique).

    * Trinity was also used in the first ever atomic bomb project, a good reference to the unending mercies and compassions of God—literally a form of invoking His power (use it wisely, my son).

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    • The omniscience part deserves another article altogether 😉 (In my book, I couldn’t find any way around it so I suggested TOOAIN simply suspends his omniscience for the duration of the game. That works for an evil god, not so much for a perfectly “good” one)

      And the Qur’an is correct. It says so right in the beginning:

      “This Book is not to be doubted (Qur’an 2:1)

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    • “So where’s your problem? Off you go now and reread your Bible, all the answers are in there—and if that doesn’t work try the Koran—both are the Holy Word and thus perfect.” Sorry. Only the Koran is perfect. To think otherwise is to be stupid. There’s reality, and then there’s REALITY. Choose the right thoughts or burn. This is the way of evil. This is the way of the Lord. $Amen$

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  5. The whole Islamic system is a work of genius. Demented and antisocial in extremis, but genius; by someone(s) with a very very good grip on human nature.

    And Islam will win in the end, for those very reasons.

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    • True, Islam is more in tune with the deep recesses of human nature but I’m not sure if it has what it takes to advance itself or humanity.

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  6. Exquisite logic. That’s the problem with grandiose, absolutist precepts (i.e. the Christian narrative) – they are easy to refute because real life isn’t at all simple (although such precepts do appeal to simple minds).

    Until science discovers the true origin of our universe and of the larger cosmos, religion and other speculative metaphysical concepts will undoubtedly stay with us. That day of empirical discovery is long overdue in my opinion. Until then, I’m inclined to believe that people long ago experienced things which they didn’t understand and wrongly attributed to various all-knowing, all-powerful supernatural beings generically called “gods.”

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    • I think we’re heading towards panpsychism… or is it, coming back around on panpsychism? Integrated Information Theory is attracting a boatload of advocates, and Max Tegmark’s ideas concerning the fourth state of matter (which is supercharged IIT) is causing excited yips of pleasure all around the world. If the math turns out to be true, then we’re in for a wild ride this century 🙂

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    • Religion has failed us. And Science will also evermore fail to discover the true origin of the universe and the larger cosmos unless it is aided by intuition. Science by its very methods admits only what is apparent and observable and therefore limits itself to only that.

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      • Hi Veracious Poet,

        I’ve read most all of your comments and I want to applaud you for your civility of this post and subject.

        Science by its very methods admits only what is apparent and observable and therefore limits itself to only that.

        Agreed, but with one contention or question: If science now understands the fluidity and paradoxes of Nature, the Cosmos, and the various human neurological and cognitive patterns (coping mechanisms) for future understanding but not necessarily final understanding, then how is that “limited”?

        Am I misunderstanding your meaning? Curious or confused. Lol

        Thanks.

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      • To “understand” is a very shadowy word. One phenomenon can be understood in many different ways but it doesn’t mean each way is progress in a new direction. It’s simply reinterpretation. The history of science is but a series of claims and refutations. So it keeps going back and forth but as long as it sticks to observable facts it will do well albeit slowly.

        Things sometimes happen in the cosmos that defy logic or scientific facts or what we “understand” to be true. So my conclusion will be that there is probably a non-apparent aspect of the universe and if science wants to arrive at that final (harmonious understanding) of that aspect, it will need only to employ prediction, which is intuition,in order to jump ahead of the apparent. Otherwise it would have to wait for the observable, observe and then conclude. I hope this answers your question.

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      • Would you consider Integrated Information Theory (a modern, scientific approach to panpsychism) as an example of this shift science needs to take?

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      • IIT is certainly a step forward but I keep wondering if will be able to help us understand the origin of the cosmos. It first sounded to me like a theory that explains psychic phenomena. It dwells heavily on neuroscience and treats consciousness as if it’s an entity on its own. Let’s wait and see since it’s a new field.

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      • That is a good reply and elaboration VP, thank you. I essentially agree with you with only miniscule variance. Truly nothing to nit-pick about… but I’ll further spin this:

        I am a fan of probabilities, or a scale, spectrum, or range of increasing or decreasing degrees. Or maybe to put it artistically, if you imagine this up/down ‘temperature gauge’ below where the top is ‘in the wind’ or into orbit 😉 and the bottom is securely grounded — on an ever MOVING changing planet (HAH!)…

        ^ Any synonym for “fable”
        | Highly improbable
        | Very improbable
        | Improbable
        | Plausible
        | More plausible
        | Compellingly plausible
        | Highly Convincing
        _ Near certainty

        …then I feel fuller collective understanding is achieved, or as you aptly put it “harmonious understanding”. This positive progress can be hendered by ideologies of exclusion, elitism, discrimination, fear-mongering, and the list of divisive MO’s go on. On an individual scale I do think that trapping one’s self into closed ‘certainty paradigms’ or monism — i.e. the Abrahamic religions — is IMO foolish and psychologically denies the increasingly known mechanics of Nature and human evolution & behavior. But that’s just my opinion and most Freethinking Humanist and a large number of other secular groups and populations.

        Thanks VP. (gives a thumbs up)

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      • Religion is certainly an obstacle to the acquisition of relevant knowledge. I too I’m free thinking and I see a god as an extension of oneself so I don’t dismiss godism at a personal level.

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      • I have no serious issues at all with that reply VP. In fact, human purpose, meaning, healthy interaction followed by better collaboration through best of times – worst of times, much less arrogant (self-righteous?) portrayed or expressed judgement(s)… would all be much better served if PERSONAL spirituality was kept strictly in that arena! In my own opinion that would be a more intimate and hence more powerful ‘relationship’ with WHATEVER metaphysic-form(s) one engages, summons, or goes to!

        My comment here doesn’t even get into DNA-RNA markers explicitely unique to ONE person (one brain/heart/soul?) out of approximately 7.43 BILLION other humans/Homo sapiens! Yet, Homo sapiens are only 1 species (very SIMILAR in degrees to other species!) out of approximately 30-million KNOWN species on Earth! There’s likely many more. And should I go into the numbers/figures for the high-probability of millions of other ‘Earths’ out there in the Cosmos also with millions of species inhabiting them!? Lol

        For me, the evidence overwhelmingly screams diversity, diversity, diversity…known and yet unknown! The exact OPPOSITE of monistic ideologies. This excites me, it doesn’t frighten me. 🙂

        Thanks VP.

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      • Club sad…
        “god of the gaps argument, with “intuition” taking the role of god. .”

        that’s because as coy as he is being, the ‘veracious poet’ is still coming from a biblical god position. he’s just not willing to admit it to others (and maybe even himself) and chooses to cloak his true beliefs in poetical and intellectual sounding words. i read his ‘problem of evil solved’. https://kavangolife.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/problem-of-evil-solved/
        very much a christian or a confused christian in denial.
        -KIA

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      • Intuition, while helpful to us humans in reaching subjective conclusions which would otherwise be prohibitively time-consuming, is incompatible with empirically obtained objective knowledge as sought through the scientific method – and, for very good reasons.

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      • Yes, intuition is predictive and often not accurate but by trying to tell us of the origin of the universe and evolutionary processes which are not immediately observable, science is employing intuition. That’s why some people even argue that evolution is a philosophy not a science. The scientific method is definite and useful but only for things immediately observable in our natural world.

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      • While true that allele frequencies shift gradually, the mechanisms of natural selection, genetic drift, gene flow, and mutation have been observed. Indeed, we witness some of them quite frequently, and devising new medicines is entirely reliant on those shifts.

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      • Many of these mechanisms may have been observed within th gene. But genetics itself deals a blow to evolution by telling us that everyone is unique. Events within an individual set of genes are likely quite different from mass speciation events which encompass the entire universe may likely have taken place all at once. Otherwise we should know how humans and other lower animals will look two million years from now by studying their genes.

        Scientific observation of a physical transition of a complex organism such as a bird or mammal from one form to another is nigh impossible. We can all only guess with or without logic.

        So far no one, not religion, neither science has provided SUFFICIENT evidence that proves that the universe was created or it evolved.

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      • ‘Otherwise we should know how humans and other lower animals will look two million years from now by studying their genes.

        Well, no, because we don’t know what environmental conditions will be in the future, and we can never know what mutations will occur, or if they’ll be selected.

        Scientific observation of a physical transition of a complex organism such as a bird or mammal from one form to another is nigh impossible.

        True, it takes a long time, but that is where fossils and genetic mapping comes in remarkably handy. However, we can, and have, observed adaptation. The peppered moth was the first such case over 100 years ago. We saw natural selection unravel and a species change. E coli studies have since put this beyond doubt.

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      • So John, you admit that the scientific method has inherent limitations to the acquisition of knowledge. Carbon dating, Fossils and genetic mapping are all not 100% accurate.

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      • So John, you admit that the scientific method has inherent limitations in the acquisition of knowledge. Carbon dating, Fossils and genetic mapping are all not 100% accurate and are open to ‘convenient interpretations.’

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      • Veracious Poet, it is obvious that you either do not understand the scientific method or are pushing an anti-science perspective. Assuming the former, here’s some basic information which might enlighten you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

        Furthermore, science is not “trying to tell us of the origin of the universe.” Rather, science freely admits to not yet knowing what those origins are while actively working to discover them. And, as I previously stated, what triggered the Big Bang (our observable universe) and the origin of the larger cosmos are two distinctly separate scientific problems which are not synonymous.

        Regarding your questioning of “evolutionary processes,” I suggest you put down the Bible and start reading some basic biology.

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      • Mr. Vella, all I’m saying is science will never ever arrive at that “harmonious understanding of the origin of the universe” if it is to use only empiricism. All it can do is to continuously present a potpourri of conflicting theories for ever.

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      • I don’t know, VP. It’s been quite effective till now as a method of understanding the world. Never forget, just 100 or so years ago, the predominant theory of the day believed the sun was a giant burning coal ball. 60-70 years ago, we thought this galaxy was the entire universe.

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      • V.P., that is your subjective opinion and nothing more. Like-minded people thought that the Earth was flat, that all celestial bodies revolved around the Earth, that lightning was the unleashed power of angry gods, that bloodletting could cure sick people, that the sound barrier could never be broken, that a man could never set foot on the Moon, and on, and on, and on…

        What changed our minds? Empiricism, science, and the human desire to learn, that’s what and nothing more.

        I’d also like to correct the terminology you used. There are no “conflicting theories” on what triggered the Big Bang and on the origin of the cosmos; instead, there are various and differing scientific HYPOTHESES. Scientific THEORIES are verified, peer-reviewed statements of fact (e.g. Einstein’s Special and General Relativity theories).

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      • You all seem to be missing my point especially you Robert A. Vella. I’m of course aware of the remarkable achievements of science in helping us to understand the natural world, within only a short period of time as compared to religion or mysticism. I am not anti-science. However I am saying that, regardless of its previous successes, I don’t think the scientific method minus intuition can give us a coherent understanding of the origin of the universe since empiricism concerns itself with only the observable.

        The scientific community is a tightly closed one and we only know what they decide to tell us and how they decide to go about it. Years back, they rejected many theories including Freud’s psychoanalysis and the gestalt theory because they claimed it’s not observable. They continue to reject many theories today if it has any traces of intuition in it. So to accept organic evolution with insufficient evidence as a fact, whilst it is also not immediately observable, sounds intuitive to me.

        I’m also aware that a new study has disproved the big bang theory and has concluded that the universe has no beginning or simply it’s not knowable. I can’t remember the exact journal where I read the story, I’d have pasted the link.

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      • VP, it might help if you explained what you mean when you say “intuition.” Seems you might have a concept of it that others (including me) don’t, and that might be causing confusion.

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      • OK, so you’re using the traditional meaning. Understood, thanks. Intuition is a terrible method for discovering truth. It’s intuitively obvious, for example, that the sun and the planets revolve around the earth. As Bob and Swarn have already pointed out, intuition can certainly help in developing a hypothesis (something to be tested), no question about it, but it’s quite limited beyond that function in understanding the ways and means by which this world operates.

        “Science concerns itself with only reason.”

        Sort of, but it’s better articulated as, science concerns itself with understanding how and why things are/work in the phenomenal universe. It is opinionless.

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      • >>> “The scientific community is a tightly closed one and we only know what they decide to tell us and how they decide to go about it.”

        My goodness, V.P.! If you read the Wikipedia link on the SCIENTIFIC METHOD I provided, you would learn that it is a completely open process and that all discoveries are published publicly for peer review!

        You would also have learned that one dubious and unnamed “new study” cannot disprove any scientific theory whether on the Big Bang or otherwise.

        You seem like a nice fellow, and I intend no disrespect; but, please do us all a favor and get yourself educated so that we can have informed discussions on this subject matter.

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      • You continue to make vague reactionary statements without actually addressing the key issues I have raised: (1) The scientific method is not flawless, therefore it has its limits. (2) Science (empiricism) can only tell us of the nature of things that are apparent and immediately observable. Anything beyond that requires that science be aided (not replaced) by intuition. Kindly direct your responses to these two key issues.

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      • >>> “(1) The scientific method is not flawless, therefore it has its limits.”

        Of course, and no scientist worth their salt would ever claim it is flawless or limitless. Still, science is by far the best method we have to understand our physical world.

        >>> “(2) Science (empiricism) can only tell us of the nature of things that are apparent and immediately observable.”

        Incorrect. The relativistic aspects of time and space (i.e. spacetime) are neither apparent nor immediately observable, yet were conceived in the brilliant mind of Albert Einstein. It required many years of exhaustive mathematical and observational proofs to verify his theories.

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      • The fact that scientists might use intuition in proposing a hypothesis, even intuition is based on some information even if just anecdotal. The difference it that after testing if the hypothesis turns out to be untrue, then we will say the intuition is wrong and revise our guess. Collectively science marches in that forward direction. But I see what you’re saying that the act of creation can’t be observed so empiricism is not possible at least on something the scale of the universe. But it may be possible to observe smaller versions of this process.

        In your comment below you say that evolution hasn’t been observed, but that is not true. It has not only been observed, but also reproduced. We have literally genetically changed species of plants and animals through selective breeding processes. To say that we should be able to be predictive as well is somewhat unrealistic. For instance we have a strong understanding the thermodynamics and dynamics of the atmosphere, but in order to be effectively predictive beyond a few days of weather, we would need those differential equations to solvable using integration, but we know of no way to do that and have to use algebraic approximations to solve those equations. Also we would need atmospheric data to feed into the model likely every meter both horizontally and vertically. Over the surface area of the earth and it’s depth this is not a possible task and even if it was would be economically inefficient. And in fact for us to be predictive about evolution not only would we need to know what every gene does, but we would actually need our model to predict future astronomical, atmospheric, and geologic predictions which impact the environment in which species evolve. The fact that we cannot do this does not make the mechanism behind evolution any less correct. More importantly there is no blow dealt by genetics to evolution. In fact genetic evidence adds weight to the theory of evolution. It does not diminish it. The scientific method is extremely applicable to the theory of evolution. In fact that is why evolution is a theory and not a hypothesis.

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      • Genetics says we are all unique and different, evolution says we are all similar and linked to a common ancestor. How then, does genetics affirm evolution?

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      • Do you agree that according to genetics we are all unique and different? Yes or no please?

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      • VP, I’m starting to doubt you understand Evolution.

        Not only do all organisms on Earth use the exact same DNA codes, but also, in many cases, the same genes. You can replace the cytochrome C gene in yeast with the cytochrome C gene from humans, insects or birds and the yeast cells don’t know the difference.

        Humans are more genetically similar to chimps than to dogs, more similar to dogs than to fish, more similar to fish than to lobsters, etc. If each species were created independently, we would not see this pattern. On the other hand, the pattern is perfectly explained by common descent.

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      • The specific details of evolution will be for another discussion. But can you simply answer my earlier question? Yes or No

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      • Hmmm…not certain where you are getting your information on evolution and genetics from, but it is quite incorrect. First of all, your statement doesn’t make sense just in relation to word definitions. Two things can indeed by similar, but not the same, and thus each one is unique. A chocolate cake and a vanilla cake have many of the same ingredients and are similar, but clearly unique in how they taste. You and I have many similar characteristics and yet we are both unique. We can use genetics to determine who your parents are as you will share many similarities to them genetically but are still unique from them.
        Your DNA has about only 20-25K active genes, which is only 1.5% of the total number of genes in the human genome. Most are dormant and are left over from earlier stages of evolution and are no longer active. We share a 44% similarity in genes between fruit flies. All humans have nearly 100% identical DNA from each other. Slight differences in DNA can lead to different results. We have 98% similar genes to chimpanzees yet it is clear that this leads to fairly different results with just that slightly under 2% difference. Then each gene has instructions and genes are do not act in isolation, but also in conjunction with other genes. Then we have environmental factors (the nurture) which may lead to certain genes being more expressed than other. A set of identical twins (which have completely identical DNA) may let’s say both a gene for aggressive behavior. If for some reason they were separated at birth and one was raised by somewhat peaceful surroundings and parents, may never be very aggressive in behavior, but the other twin if raised in harsher environmental conditions in which aggressiveness is rewarded or is a necessity for survival, that gene gets expressed more, thus despite having identical DNA they will be different.
        So now to evolution. Anytime a species reproduces there is going to be some genetic variation, some mutation. In let’s say gazelles, gene combinations that lead to better muscle structure in the legs to lead to a faster runner or a better jumper would be an advantage. Those gazelles are more likely to escape being preyed upon and are more likely to reproduce. Despite being similar to other gazelles genetically that might be slightly slower, the population of gazelles will get faster over time. A different population of gazelles may be separated geographically and be without any natural predators. In such cases the speed of the gazelle becomes less important. Perhaps water is in shortage though and so gazelles that can consume less water or develop adaptations to store water become favored. Maybe most of their food is in higher trees, favoring gazelles with slightly longer necks, and over time those gazelles start all having longer necks as the ones with shorter necks starve and are unable to pass on their genes. Over time those two populations of gazelles may look and act quite differently until they are in fact two different species. Within the population the genes are almost identical, but compared to each other they may be more like chimpanzees and humans. The fact that genes mutate and express themselves differently is in no way counter to evolution. It is in fact the essence of evolution.

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    • Oops … I can’t see myself ever empirically verifying the Big Bang or The Creation (both names for the same event) (and both equally as credible?).

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      • Argus, unless you are an exceptionally talented cosmologist or astrophysicist working in concert with other such scientists, your ability – like mine – to discover what triggered the Big Bang or the origin of the cosmos (no, they are definitely not the same problem) is infinitesimal. However, this limitation that we both share does not mean these discoveries are impossible. History repeatedly has shown that knowledge previously considered impossible can be attained through the empirical processes of science.

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      • A truer statement has not been said. Yet, we, I mean the current group of humans on Earth, will NOT be here to know these answers. We, will be long dead before science understands our universe. We ae nothing in this universe but sparks of light about to expire. Live with that all idiots who think otherwise.

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      • I yearn for reliable answers.
        All I seem to get is theories — and often one theory is as good as another.

        Certainly I don’t see myself ever ‘discovering’ the First Cause. But having just watched several times a UT video on the relative sizes of planets and things, I find it hard to believe that the entire everything was originally contained in a space so small it didn’t exist.
        As an atheist I find the God notion more palatable than that idea. Brrrr …

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      • Argus, your yearning to know what is currently not known, and your excusable difficulty in understanding extremely complex science, is precisely why so many people are drawn to religion. Think about that.

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      • I think I understand that … if you can’t fly a real plane, make one out of an old cardboard box with some planks for wings then sit in it all day making “Brrrrrrm brrrrrrrm” noises …

        —many thanks for that, I think I finally get it.
        Now I just gotta find me a good priest (don’t wait up).

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    • I think that regardless of science and/or anything less than overwhelming military power with no inhibitions about using it: religion will indeed always be with us.

      Tie religion to overwhelming military power with no inhibitions and you are looking at the future of all of us: Islam.

      Hopefully I’ll be gone before that day arrives …

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      • It has, and does—luckily until now just localised. As Allah might say “tis a consummation devoutly to be wished” … if not ol’ Al, then definitely his followers.

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      • Ha! We, the humanity, have allready gone through the overwhelming military trying to coerce us to think a certain way, through propaganda, and threats both real and imaginary. Several times over, infact. Look at the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or the medieval Europe. Or the “modern” state of Israel just for few examples. People can be told to think and believe what the leaders of military powers think they should. For a while they can even be forced not to express what else pops in their minds. They can even be taught many scientific facts as just so truths, but if they do not understand how and why these things are facts, they might just as well retort to superstion by the masses. Especially when the superstitious traditions poison the minds of the young, but that can not be helped in a free democratic society, any more than within a totalitarian military regime, can it? Not unless a critical mass of population realizes what hoaxes and misrepresentations of reality the religions actually are and how such hoaxes work, so that they can not be taken by a nother as stupid.

        The problem of democracy is that it is only as good as how educated, the citizens are to understand, that the majority has to protect the minorities, because everyone is a member of this or that minority and infact when you belong to a group of people who agrees with the majority of issues, you are in the minority as only a very small minority belongs to so very many majorities on multiple issues. Yet, it is the “fittest” social model in history so far.

        Islamism is a spasm of a tortured animal, while most islamic people are just like most Christians. Peace loving and reasonable up to a point where their religious cultural tradition is connected to their cultural identity and thus such an inherent part of them, that any challenge is seen as a personal insult.

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  7. Hello John,

    Your Christian Narrative is biased and incomplete, therefor flawed.

    Sentence 1: I would agree with. The two were told not to partake of the fruit from The Tree Of Knowledge Of Good And Evil. This disobedient choice transitioned the two from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience.

    Sentence 2: You infer the act of a disobedient choice by the two as a failure by God causing immediate separation. Not true. Firstly, God created free-willed beings, free to choose obedience or disobedience, and secondly, Yhwh never left. He spoke to and used many Prophets throughout the OT, and sent his Son and the Holy Spirit in the NT.

    Sentence 3: You state, “The objective of life, according to the Christian Narrative, is to return to communion with Yhwh.” This is not true. Going through CCD myself, we both know they teach us how to commune with God. My earliest memories was communion with God; mom tucking us boys in for bed and we praying, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” We also prayed before dinner. Dad would ask one of us boys to say the prayer, if we said it too fast we would be asked to say it again, slower, to feel His presence. “Bless us, Oh Lord, and these, thy gifts for which we about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen”.

    The “objective of life”, as in the “Christian Narrative” is better stated as the “Purpose in Life” and defined thus – To glorify God in all things.

    Sentence 4: You started out great but each succeeding statement, after Sentence #1, takes you further away from the “true” Christian Narrative. God doesn’t send anyone to Hell. You send yourself there. God has done everything He possibly can to keep you out of Hell and still leave you as a person with free will and not just a robot. That’s the way He made us, after His image, after His likeness, the power to say “yes” or the power to say “no,” the power to reject our own Creator, and of course to take the consequences.

    That ends your first paragraph and gives you a concluding paragraph to falsely convict God as evil, where in fact, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son as a blood sacrifice, the New Blood Covenant, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior.

    Our minds are finite, and there are some things which we cannot know; which no finite being can ever know.

    To assume that the universe is just a cosmic accident goes against the grain of everything we experience. Everything that we have ever encountered with our senses has a cause: why not the universe?

    There is a remarkable human tendency to ignore the obvious. A lot of people take many of the most important things in our lives (security, family, health) for granted. Similarly, some also tend to take the universe and its mysteries for granted. Instead of asking the obvious questions “Why is there a universe and what is my purpose for being here?” and “How does the universe happen to exist at all?” we allow a superficial smattering of scientific knowledge to divest us of an appropriate sense of wonder.

    God made human beings in His image, but we are still part of the material world. Each of us had a specific beginning, and are bound by three-dimensional experience and passing time. Being immersed in time and space, some become overwhelmed and confused when we try to understand an eternal God, and how we fit into His plan.

    Many people simply ignore the overwhelming experiential and natural evidence for God’s existence. Ultimately, faith comes down to a decision of the heart. A mind darkened by a rebellious heart is incapable of perceiving God.

    The eternal God is transcendent, not part of creation. God’s existence cannot be “proven” in the way that science can prove or disprove a fact about the material world. We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image, aware of our own existence, and capable of choice. Choosing to believe that there is no God and that the universe is just a fantastically complex accident will inevitably lead to the conclusion that life is evil, absurd, without meaning, or a convoluted mix of the three. To live without meaning is a hopeless struggle at best, and always ends in despair. But if we believe in the God of the Bible we not only have a reason to live, but the assurance of seeing the kingdom of God with our own eyes.

    There are many biblical examples of willful people ignoring the most spectacular demonstrations of God’s presence and power.

    For the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity and whose name is holy says, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

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    • @LEROY.X10HOST, I agree with you when you said “There is a remarkable human tendency to ignore the obvious.”

      Then you wrote: “God has done everything He possibly can to keep you out of Hell and still leave you as a person with free will and not just a robot.” I can not help but to wonder, why has your god failed to convince me and John Zande of the very minimum thing on the path to accept it as our saviour, of this god even to exist? I have no clue as to what would convince me, that there is a god, but I bet that if that god was maximally powerfull, it would know what would convince me. Having failed this, it seems so impotent, that it equals to nothing, wich pretty much logically confirms it not even existing, when at the same time I have no evidence that this god does even exist. Now, if I have really a tendency to ignore the obvious in this matter, whose responsibility is it, that I fail? The entity that supposedly created me, with this tendency and further more failed to give me the necessary information, that would have led me to believe it even exists, let alone to accept it as my saviour, or mine, who simply can not help the tendency enough to even recognize my own failure?

      A nother thing I wonder, is if there is supposed to be free will in them heavens? I mean, if people – like myself, all my relatives and most of my friends – who fail to use their free will to recognize the existance of your particular god as their saviour from hell that this god of yours has alledgedly (altough entirely without any chance to even verify such a claim on any even remotely objective level) created among other things (and I guess your god saw it necessary, though to me it seems like a terrible and loathsome act) are destined for eternal suffering or what ever lakes of fire, are the ones who are “saved” then totally unable to use any free will in their afterlives? If not, then your god could have simply created them as the “robots” you refer to and skip the part where there was suffering here on earth and then your god would not even have to look impotently by, when humans with the “tendency to ignore the obvious” suffer for an eternity, or at very least are lost when the “robots” continue for ever. If there is free will that the saved ones can in their afterlives weild and not simply exist as “robots”, then are they able to choose between good and greater good as options, or is there evil in heavens? If that much is true, then what ever for did your god need this test of earthly lives for? Could your god not have chosen to create only the type of souls that all end up in heaven straight into heaven? How impotent god are we talking about here? If the existance of free will requires the existance of evil, then there either is evil in heavens or there is no free will. Correct?

      You wrote: ” God’s existence cannot be “proven” in the way that science can prove or disprove a fact about the material world.” I agree. Therefore, the entire set of claims about gods fails and ends up in the same basket as rest of the folklore – Made up explanations for things we do not know or understand. Why should anyone believe any of them? Just choose to believe? How? By autosuggestion? Is our belief not dependant on wether we are convinced about something, or not?

      You wrote: “Choosing to believe that there is no God and that the universe is just a fantastically complex accident will inevitably lead to the conclusion that life is evil, absurd, without meaning, or a convoluted mix of the three.” You are mistaken. I have never in my life believed in any gods, and the universe seems like a naturally occurring natural phenomenon, the nature itself. This has never left me conclude, that life is evil, absurd or without meaning. Infact, on the contrary. I find plenty of good things about life, even though people may have evil intents and there is needless suffering in the real, observable, verifiable, material world. Life may at times seem absurd, but most of it does not seem like absurd at all. Finally, I find plenty of meaning from life. I find meaning from for example my family, friends, nature, culture, beauty, work, hobbies and just doing the right thing. Do these things not give your life meaning? Where do you get meaning to your life, if not from similar things as I do?

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      • An excellent retort Rautakyy. I hope there is a response to you in a reasonable amount of time based on the ‘speed’ of Leroy’s past opinions and replies. I wish you a ton of patience Sir. 😉

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      • @John Zande, I especially like the cactus behind Jesus in this pic. As it stands, it is somewhat funny to think, that it is far, far more propable, that there was a cactus somewhere in the Palestine two millenia ago, than that the Jesus character in the book was some sort of manifestation, or avatar of some obscure creator entity of the universe. That however, does not make either of them too propable… Or maybe this is the American, republican, gun toting nascar Jesus?

        @PROFESSOR TABOO, Thanks. I am in no hurry. I do not give answers too rapidly myself. 😉

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    • I understand every concern you have made Rautakyy.

      Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart, the thoughts or feelings, the mouth speaks. That is why Romans 12:2 tells us to renew our minds (to the Word of God.)

      Jesus told us how to pray and the Father already knows what we need before we ask him.

      For you to convert to Christianity would be a very personal transformation. God may never force himself into your heat. There would have to be some intensely personal, emotional, subjective, intervening event that would convince you that the Christian theology has a validity separate from all other religious theologies or that all religious theologies are valid, and that Christianity is just one expression of belief. You would have to ask God.

      As far as free will in the afterlife (Heaven), it would seem that is the case. Didn’t some angels rebel and were cast out? If Angels have free will then the human souls would too.

      I think the literal translation of a torturous place called Hell fails. The place called Hell is being separated from God. For me, being separated from God for all eternity is Hell. For me, that would not be a pleasant place, since I imagine it would be full of people who new of God and his promise and willfully rejected it.

      You ask, “Is our belief not dependent on whether we are convinced about something, or not?” YES.

      Jesus told the eleven disciples to [go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age]. And every single one of them died on their mission, never once renouncing their life work as a lie, even under torture and imminent death.

      Then, even as today, many hear the message and do not become convinced.

      Consider this powerful example of conviction…

      When told by the other Apostles that they have seen Jesus, after His crucifixion and resurrection, Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” John 20:25

      Days later Jesus returns to the Apostles and says to Thomas, “Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

      Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

      Jesus here approves the faith of Thomas, but more highly commends the faith of those who should believe without having seen.

      Blessed – Happy, or worthy of divine approval. The Word signifies that “those who have not seen” would be in some respects more blessed than Thomas. They would manifest higher faith.

      That have not seen … Those who should be convinced by the testimony of the Apostles, and by the influences of the Spirit. They would manifest stronger faith. All faith is of things not seen; and God blesses those most who most implicitly rely on his word.

      The apostle Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church there.

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      • @LEROY.X10HOST.COM, Thank you for your speedy, sincere and thorough attempt to answer me.

        You wrote: “There would have to be some intensely personal, emotional, subjective, intervening event that would convince you that the Christian theology has a validity separate from all other religious theologies or that all religious theologies are valid, and that Christianity is just one expression of belief. You would have to ask God.” This was very eloquently put and I agree that, that would probalbly be the case, if indeed there existed the specific god you propose and who in addition appeared to me, so that I indeed could pose a question to that god.

        So far, no gods have appeared to me for me to present any sort of questions. I know nobody to whom any gods have appeared and those who claim to have had a dialogue with a god seem much more likely to have confused their inner dialogue (a perfectly natural psychological phenomenon by far most of us humans have) to a god talking to them. According to Occams razor, it is the likeliest explanation to what these people have experienced, even though there might be other explanations as well. It seems to be a very satisfactory mistake, because it gives people sensations of being special and under some divine protection, not to mention, that it seemingly confirms their own cultural preassumptions of gods.

        There are of course various stories from human heritage in wich someone alledgely had discussions with the variety of gods usually relevant to their own cultural heritage, or at very least some god they had some sort of a prenotion. Some of these anecdotes are propably genuine in the sense, that people hallucinated, dreamed, or indeed had an inner monologue with their own subconscious, but most are obviously wild extrapolations from such anecdotes. How could we possibly discern a real god from among all these mutually contradicting divine “interventions”, even if one existed, when they all have their own little specialities, but in grand spectrum are all equally similar in their resemblance of what we call folklore?

        You wrote: “As far as free will in the afterlife (Heaven), it would seem that is the case. Didn’t some angels rebel and were cast out? If Angels have free will then the human souls would too.” Do I understand you, that you think there indeed is evil in heaven just to allow free will? What is the purpose of our life here then? Why were we not created directly to heaven to enjoy our free will there, if it is any better than what we have here? We would have been spared from the agony of losing our loved ones, and for those of us who have faith, but lesser quantities of it, they would have been spared all the unnecessary doubt wether if their gods exist or not. All the false assumptions of gods, and unnecessary suffering, like torturing and burning people alive for herecy could easily have been awoided. At very least we would have all gotten there, and no separation from any gods would have to be the lot of anyone, if indeed that would be such a misery to you and likes of you. As the topic post suggests, the Christian narrative seems flawed and illogical.

        Does your god have free will or is this god of yours bound by it’s nature? Does saying your particular god is “benevolent” to you mean, that your god applies it’s own free will to not make evil choises to be moral? Do you have a dualist god?

        If I now was suddenly conviced, that Christianity was true, and it was, I would end up in an eternal separation from all my loved ones and according to many Christians most of the people I have ever cared for would be going to end up in eternal torment. What sort of eternity would it be for me, if I knew my loved ones suffer at the same time, or if they were not tortured, just that for an eternity I had to live without them? This is not only a very unconvincing scenario, it is also very uncompelling one to me.

        You wrote: “I think the literal translation of a torturous place called Hell fails. The place called Hell is being separated from God. For me, being separated from God for all eternity is Hell.” I commend you on your better morals in comparrison to those people who use this threat of heaven to try to convert us non-believers or to keep indoctrinated religious people from giving up their faith. Yet, if there is a life after death for us non-believers and it is mere separation from a specific god, but undefined otherwise, a god allowing a religion at all would then seem like an immoral and evil act. I already live a life in separation from any gods and I am doing quite fine. If the only bad thing that could happen in the afterlife was a separation from a particular god, then the punishment would only inflict those people who sincerely thought they believed and worshipped the right god, but who chose poorly. That would be utterly unfair, since those poor sods, would then either suffer from a choise mostly made for them by being born into a specific cultures in wich people worshipped the wrong gods. That would be a great number of people infact the vast majority of all people who ever lived and most of them never did any conscious choise between any specific “true” god and gods culturally relevant to them. Well, perhaps their lot would then be to learn to live separated from god, like me, and in that scenario they would have all the eternity to come to terms with it.

        However, we are talking about stuff we have no knowledge at all. All we have are some obscure references to a specific folktale and no matter how we interprete it (literal or not) we do not get any closer to anything we are in any way warranted to call truth, since a guess is never really worth the truth, even if you later learn that you guessed right. Right? I am not a betting man myself, hence I do not think that faith is any sort of virtue.

        You wrote about the apostoles: “And every single one of them died on their mission, never once renouncing their life work as a lie, even under torture and imminent death.” Now, even if we actually had an outside source confirming that of the apostoles and we actually knew that this much was true, that would not give any validation to the claims they may have made. Thousands upon thousands of nazies and communists have died never once renouncing their convictions for their convictions, but you would not take that as a validation to their beliefs, would you? Same applies to Hindus, Muslims and what have you. You do know that special pleading is a logical fallacy? Fanaticism of some individual gives us absolutely no knowledge wether the fanatics are right about their cause. Does it?

        I have actually read the Bible, unlike by far most people who consider themselves Christians and expect to be somehow salvaged from eternal torment or simply from extinction by virtue of believing what the book, that they have never read, says. (I have also read a bunch of other mythical folklore and I do not see why should I even consider the Bible somehow separate from all the others any more than they differ from each other.) So, the story of Thomas doubting is familiar enough to me. But it is a mere story. It is not a historical record by reliable historians who would have understood the necessity of historical integrity, or would have signed to such. And even many of actual historians and eyewittnesses have made a lot of mistakes, typically interpreting something natural as supernatural, just because of their own superstitious biases. The New Testament does not have any at all contemporary reference, that would confirm anything it says. Instead it is a typical mythological story with superstious imaginary elements. However, even if we would give the Gospels the benefit of the doubt and consider them as historical sources, we would have to conclude, that it is quite understandable how the events described in them were misunderstood by the eyewitnesses and the storytellers. It would even be understandable and the likeliest explanation to how the plot line goes by how the story got to be embellished with imaginary supernatural elements.

        For example, it is quite possible, that if the story was based on real events, that the person on whom the Jesus character in the story is based on, survived the crucifixion (we know that people did and he was up a relatively short period of time – according to the story), and was secretly saved by the Joseph of Arimathea character by bribing the soldiers, whose commander had allready shown obvious disinterrest in the death of this victim of religious conservatism. According to the story Joseph had both motive and opportunity. If we look at the Gospels as historical sources, we need to recognize, that some of them may be not only misinterpretations of actual events, but also some parts of them are just made up, since they contradict each other so badly. Like for example, was there an angel, several angels, or merely some young man at the tomb when the women came to embalm Jesus? According to Occams razor the young man is the likeliest suggestion. Is it not? Was the tomb sealed and guarded? Not likely, since what did the women even expect to accomplish at the tomb, if it really was sealed and guarded by the Roman army – the most effective military machine of the day (exept perhaps for the Chinese), as only mentioned in the wildest version of the story? It is only Matt who claims there were guards, but he is also the one who claims the dead were rising from their graves during the crucifixion. He does not seem like a reliable wittness to anything, since neither of these somewhat important parts of the story are even mentioned by any of the other Gospels. Would it not be typical for the culture of the day and place where this story originated, that supernatural embellishments were drawn from more, or less extraordinary events, like an innocent man being crucified and having survived the event?

        You never answered my question about where do you get the meaning to your life. Now, I do admit, that my comment was long and I recognize, that you have no responsibility, none what so ever, to answer my every single inquiry, but I would really be interrested as to what gives meaning to your life, if it is not family, love, friendship, cameraderie, learning, work, hobbies, being moral, beer and art? These things give me ample meaning to my life and I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. Am I?

        Liked by 1 person

      • @RAUTAKYY —

        Another excellent reply Rautakyy.

        However, we are talking about stuff we have no knowledge at all. All we have are some obscure references to a specific folktale and no matter how we interprete it (literal or not) we do not get any closer to anything we are in any way warranted to call truth, since a guess is never really worth the truth, even if you later learn that you guessed right. Right? I am not a betting man myself, hence I do not think that faith is any sort of virtue.

        True. And those “obscure references” to the folktale are strictly Judeo-Christian sources. The Romans were utterly obsessed with recording, documenting, news details of the Empire near and far, etc, and NOWHERE are their any Roman records in existence of that time-period confirming or comparing/contrasting the supposed Xian folktales. Yet there are LOADS of other very detailed Roman record-keeping! Furthermore, there are no nearby non-Roman, excluding Judeo-Christian bias, sources of the time-period in existence confirming, contrasting, or comparing the much later 325 CE Canonical New Testament stories either. It logically appears that according to tangible historical sources available, that OUTSIDE of the early Judeo-Christians only, the events did NOT take place… at least not exactly how the Canonical N.T. narrates those obscure little-known events. But as you later state Rautakyy:

        The New Testament does not have any at all contemporary reference, that would confirm anything it says.

        Anyway, just my humble spin on the discussion. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • I think you are over-thinking the whole thing Rautakky. Your comment is long but so are a lot of mine.

        You state, “So far, no gods have appeared to me for me to present any sort of questions.”

        Well yea, none will and no God will ever bow to you or your demands. It is a spiritual thing R. The correspondence has to happen between you and he in secret. It is totally personal and you have to initiate it. If you are waiting for God to speak to you then you will be forever waiting.

        Your questions are not new. Countless millions have had the same and no doubt a few have gotten answers. Persevere, never give up, but ask. You say you read the Bible then you know, you have to act first. Go and he will meet you.

        You ask me if indeed you understand me, that I believe there is evil in Heaven just because of agency? That is ridiculous. Agency, or free will, is a mandate, no matter the personage, angel or human. But there is no evil in Heaven. The rebellious ones where cast out. Look at the Bible. God always wins. I guess that is the perk of being God, burn the thorns.

        You mention agony, unnecessary suffering, like torturing and burning people alive but agony of this sort is a tentative fleeting emotion only relegated to the material world. The innocent will have their reward, that is God’s promise.

        You cling to eternal torment to damn the one separated from the one they love. This is false. If God isn’t important to you, if he isn’t the love of your life, then being separated for eternity should not be tormenting.

        My intent is to not convert you or any atheist. My intent is to tell you what you are missing. You may live now in separation but consider an eternity, surrounded by the willful disobedient. Most will not be peaceful loving beings as yourself. It might be unfair in our finite minds but many of us burn trash that might otherwise be recycled. Yea, it hurts me too. Many are sent to prison for otherwise stupidity and yet they find themselves with those who have raped and murdered and would fuck you in the ass everyday than wish you happy birthday once a year.

        I’m not really a betting man either. I tend to put my money on winners. KO, CAT, CSCO, and INTL, only a few of the dozens. They speak to me like the Holy Spirit does.

        “You never answered my question about where do you get the meaning to your life.”

        The meaning to life you ask? I love beer, which you mention, and I love Jim Beam even more, neat. Margaritas rank a strong 3rd place, Tequila, Triple Sec, and Lemon Juice… Family, friends, security, money. But me my friend, the true meaning to my life I already mentioned in a previous post…To Glorify God In All things. I am human, I have weakness, but I stand firmly on a rock, the rock is Savior, given by Father Creator. He taught me through a written word that the key to life is to love, love is the key that will save us and hate will destroy us and separate us from eternal bliss.

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      • @LEROY.X10HOST.COM, hmm… “Overthinking”, what does that even mean? Critical analysis is the best way to reach a conclusion. Is it not? I might still get it wrong, but it is much more likelier to bring me anywhere close to objective truth, than any leaps of faith ever might. Correct?

        If I go just by virtue of leaping into faith, wich one should I choose and on wich grounds? Most people choose by the virtue of their personal cultural heritage. I bet this is what happened to you. Am I right? It might not be, but since chances of anything else happening, like a conversion to a different religion, are so remote, I feel safe to guess as much even though I am not a betting man. Evaluating reality is always about likelihoods, since absolute information is absolutely impossible to reach even for a creator entity, if there was one, that had puffed the universe into existance from out of nothing, because even that god would not know what it would not know. That is the nature of information.

        You wrote: “You say you read the Bible then you know, you have to act first. Go and he will meet you.” What do you think this action should be? You do realize, that if a person first takes a leap of faith, they have allready surrendered some large amount of their integrity on the matter and are prone to interprete the reality to fit their faith. This may lead to some serious circular reasoning, wich seems to be the case, since people take these leaps of faith to their own religion (most of them even without realizing they have done so) and voilá: They end up believing the fantastic elements of their cultural mythology, be it the Mahabharata, the Tao, the Torah, the Bible, the Qur’an, the Edda, or what ever. How to discern one mythology from a nother, other than by, well it is culturally most relevant to me personally?

        You answered my question honestly and straight forward: “But there is no evil in Heaven.” I appriciate that, since when I have asked the same question from a bunch of other Christians, what I usually get is an endless continuity of evasions. Why do you think that is? You are not responsible for what other Christians say and I appriciate your forthrigh reply. However, if there is no evil in heaven, yet there remains as you put it “agency”, then that means evil is not a prerequisite of agency, or free will. Is it? In wich case the free will does not explain an omnipotent god allowing evil for free will or agency to exit. Does it? There are no two ways about it logically. Why would a benevolent entity not have created us straight into them heavens and only banish those who do “rebel” against what is good, instead of trying to sell us, that we as individuals are somehow responsible for the choises our ancestors made. We most certainly are not and can not be held accountable for what Adam or Eve did. Can we?

        Then you wrote: “You mention agony, unnecessary suffering, like torturing and burning people alive but agony of this sort is a tentative fleeting emotion only relegated to the material world. The innocent will have their reward, that is God’s promise.” That is not a very moral position. It means that while loving caring people like my dad who died an atheist, is somehow lost forever, while enemies of mankind like Thomas de Torquemada may live in bliss for ever, and it did not even matter at all, that he tortured people, because he did it in good faith. I find this as an example how a religion is poisonous. The mere fact, that you, of whom I have gotten the impression, that you are a caring and intelligent fellow, have been twisted by your religion to so crudely downplay the meaning of suffering, is horrible to me. That you could even make it sound like torture and all the agony people suffer was no biggie, shakes my roots, and reminds me where the suicide bombers and Inquisitors have come from. Indeed, they think the innocent will be saved and that they themselves are doing the good thing according to the authority of their beloved god. But if we look at what they do, in the objective view of all of us only having this one life and value the lives of each others accordingly, we can judge their deeds as misguided and very, very wrong. Do you agree? I do not think anybody has the right to call the torture and suffering of others as “fleeting emotions” especially when they base their notion of the issue on metaphysical guesswork and personal leaps of faith. That is just inhumane. I recommend you reconsider your view, as I do hope you are better than this.

        You wrote: ” If God isn’t important to you, if he isn’t the love of your life, then being separated for eternity should not be tormenting.” That is all fine and dandy, altough it much differs from what I have heard from a bunch of other Christians. It means those who are saved are only in need of becoming saved, since they have aquired a taste, or a sort of addiction, during their lives for the love of this god of yours. The rest of us shall manage just fine without it as we do here in the actual, observable and verifiable material universe. In your opinion, did I get it right?

        To be honest the Bible was not much of a help at resolving this issue, since it is at best rather obscure on the matter – wich is best demonstrated by the fact, that Christians can not agree about this, even though they sincerely take the Bible as an authorative source on the matter. Yet, if you are right, that means religions are meaningless, if people are able to live meaningfull lives in an afterlife without belief, or blind faith, not to speak of love for your god. You claim, that you get a special meaning from loving your god to your life, but that does not render the meaning of other peoples lives, who do not share the love you have, in any ways “meaningless”. As I already said I find plenty of meaning to my life, much of wich is the same you have. For some reason what is good enough for me is not enough for you. Why?

        You wrote: “My intent is to not convert you or any atheist.” I can appriciate that. Thank you. “My intent is to tell you what you are missing.” Well, I am interrested on what do you think I am missing out on, but I do not feel like missing on much for now. I have all the love I need in my life, why should I trade my integrity and critical thiking for the most likely imaginary love of a particular random notion of a god?

        You wrote: “You may live now in separation but consider an eternity, surrounded by the willful disobedient. Most will not be peaceful loving beings as yourself.” Are you saying that the world would be a hell, or even worse without Christians? Let me doubt that. Christianity has been for the two past two millenia the most agressive and violent religion in the world. Has it not? That is the sole reason why it is the most popular religion, and that only if for the sake of argument we count it as just one religion.

        You continued: “It might be unfair in our finite minds but many of us burn trash that might otherwise be recycled. Yea, it hurts me too. Many are sent to prison for otherwise stupidity and yet they find themselves with those who have raped and murdered and would fuck you in the ass everyday than wish you happy birthday once a year.” Are we mere “trash” to your god? What sort of a god are we actually speaking about? Well, to me that reprsents a failed system, wether if we are talking about a possible creator entity, or a prison system. It is an antiquated and failed social structure to punish people for their stupidity. Modern prisons – at least here in the Nordic countries – are institutions for the law breakers to be rehabilitated to the society. Their record for diminishing criminal behaviour is by far more succesfull, than what you describe. It is the only moral purpose of a punishment, to restore the persons who have failed the society and themselves. It may act as a deterrent to other such potential failures, but the society needs to strive to teach the would be criminals and catch them before they fail instead of simply trying to frighten them by potential revenge. That simply does not work, as the criminal is stupid enough never to consider that they might be caught. Alas, the Bible is obviously a book from less civilized times than ours, and reflects the tribal moralist views in the primitive societies that created it. Even the laws of ancient Mesopotamian rulers have been copied into it as these supposedly divine commandments on how people should act. There are some added laws for social segragation from other local cultures, to preserve the powerstructure of the Hebrew leadership, but they are even more obviously outdated. Only reason we are even discussing it here and now, is because it still has influence over our social moral views, even though how ever outdated those may be.

        You wrote: ” They speak to me like the Holy Spirit does.” I am guessing this was a bit with a tongue in cheek, was it not? If it was not, and that is your religious sentiment, I mean no offence. It is just that I have no idea what you are talking about when you say the Holy Spirit speaks to you. What do you mean? Is that something you can discern from your inner monologue, or do you hear voices? Or is it just a metaphor for you recognizing elements you expect from your surroundings, or what?

        Thank you for answering my question about the meaning of life. Now, I do not share your meaning of love for your god, but as I already said I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. Then again I do not feel like I am missing out on anything for not having the love of Allah, Krishna, Freya, Rauni or any of them. Any more than I feel like I am missing out on much by not becoming addicted to heroin. Do you feel like you are missing out on the love of Allah, or Krishna?

        Liked by 1 person

    • “There are many biblical examples of willful people ignoring the most spectacular demonstrations of God’s presence and power.”

      and there is no evidence that any of these “demonstrations” having ever occurred. As usual, a Christian presents his own “narrative” which doesn’t agree with those other Christian narratives, and there is no reason to think any of these are true.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Not sure if you’re familiar with these 2 videos Club, but thought they’d help further broader understanding of the narrative in serious question. There’s others too, but If I may…

        Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fair question. Here are my brief synopses:

        Dear Believer video — (9m 16sec) Out of all of the many religious faiths in the world, why do you choose to embrace only those beliefs within arm’s reach, or those of your parent’s, community, or nation’s? Is it not peculiar that by your geographical birthplace YOU believe you landed in the only location of exclusive truth? The video continues raising many revealing questions that beg the viewer to more comprehensively and objectively re-examine why one believes in something because it suites only your needs and those around you.

        Bible Hunters video — (10m 44sec) The cornerstone of Christianity’s claim to God’s exclusive favor compared to other religious systems is the Canonical New Testament resurrection story as told in the decades later synoptic gospels. However, in the oldest existing gospel, Mark — written approximately 40-years after the event — there is NO RESURRECTION STORY. What are the profound implications of this omission, or worse, non-event? And what does that imply about the reliability of the later three written synoptic gospels?

        Anyway, I was merely offering a broader examination on the Narrative(s) in question. I do understand time is valuable and should be well managed. 🙂

        Thanks Club.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Professor. the second video is most curious and I hadn’t known some of the information in it. the differences in the resurrection part of the story in all of the gospels are what really got me to thinking when I was reading the bible. no resurrection story in one, another where the character of JC is very human and one in where the character of JC is a cardboard superhero. Such an odd mythos.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LeRoy:
      before I go any further reading your comment—
      “Sentence 1: This disobedient choice transitioned the two from a state of innocent obedience to God …”

      What choice? God knew before The Creation that they would choose to gobble the apple. So they were simply automatons following His programming—their behaviour was that of a needle in a groove on a record. They had no more choice than a nail, but to get hammered when due.

      I ask, would God have been surprised if they hadn’t chosen to partake of that blessed apple?

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      • LeRoy:

        your sentence 2 — I say again that ‘Free Will’ (of mankind) and God’s omniscience are a direct contradiction in terms.
        Contradictions cannot exist.

        God knows what course we will ‘choose’, in advance. Even before The Creation He knew, no?

        So what alternative could there ever have been, then, now, or in the (preordained) future?

        Hmmm?

        Like

      • Wow, an apple Argus. Never was “apple” in the written word of Genesis. Using “apple” shows a child-like aptitude which translates now into adulthood biased hatred.

        Never-the-less, you know what God knew, really? You claiming to know what God knows is a joke just like Satan tempting me to cast myself off a thousand foot cliff, “Surely God loves you so much he would send his Angles to catch you least you bash your head on the rocks”.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LeRoy:

      Sentence 3 … your parents didn’t work for a living? They just collected the manna fresh from Heaven every blessed prayer time? Cool …

      Like

    • LeRoy:

      Sentence 4:

      “God has done everything He possibly can to keep you out of Hell and still leave you as a person with free will and not just a robot”

      For God (omnipotent) ‘nothing is impossible’ (or the wee fellow wouldn’t be omnipotent, no?).
      So again it boils down to He deliberately made us imperfect.
      Had to be by choice, by His own choice. Can’t possibly blame anyone else, the buck stops with Him.

      I may be imperfect but I had no choice in the matter, and still don’t because He already knows the outcome of any apparent choices I may make in the future. (My future, that is—eternal ‘now’ to Him, no?)

      Like

  8. A very good easy to follow and understand post John of a very tiny Bronze Age segment of human culture, in a small (tiny?) region of an extremely vast culturally diverse world. Well done.

    Using not only advanced archaeology, anthropology, and paleography (there’s additional useful disciplines), in conjunction with neuroscience, cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, and most importantly familial-group historical demographics, taxometric analysis is increasingly showing just how influenced the human brain is — in all of its circumstantial methods of coping with mystery and/or perceived trauma — by its immediate environments for degrees of survival! In fact, when a person or people are under extreme anxiety the human neurological system desperately counters with degrees of Fight, Flight, or Cognitive Reaccomodation — a form of regaining perceived control of one’s environments. The story you share here is a prime example of a small (tiny?) culture seeking various forms to cope with a harsh history.

    One such ‘survival’ method was/is transgenerational stories (some history, some embellishments for cinematic impact, if you will) of future hopes and justice. The Judeo-Israeli stories are merely one narrative, from one very small cultural people, from a very small area (Egypt & the Levant) of the incredibly vast world. In that small context, their stories are unique in some ways to them, but certainly not for the entire history of the world. Many of the same themes and stories are found in several/many other cultures.

    Fortunately, 6-millenia later bigger pockets of humanity are better understanding how Nature and Homo sapiens behave. I can’t wait for what this Cosmos has in store for our species and our newest methods of understanding, adapting, and surviving! Exciting stuff! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. LeRoy:
    To assume that the universe is just a cosmic accident goes against the grain of everything we experience. Everything that we have ever encountered with our senses has a cause: why not the universe?
    There is a remarkable human tendency to ignore the obvious…”

    I know that this next is a hoary old chestnut but since you brought it up:

    Who caused God?

    My own answer: simple~! A Godier God created God.

    But that one too needs a Creator, so an even more Godier God created the Godier God who created God who created us. No?

    Project backwards to infinity and beyond but you’ll never get to the the One, the Grand Architect of the Universe, the unknowable, the ineffable (means the same but sounds posher) Goooooooood!

    Like

  10. At this point I have more important things to do. Really, there’s grass out there to watch growing, eggs in the fridge I can watch for hours as they sit, an object lesson in patience and infinitely more rewarding than trying to cut through the programmings of the religious.

    And, LeRoy … the name of that Grand Old most Godiest?

    Veles …

    Liked by 3 people

  11. When I was a Christian pastor at times I would be asked ‘Why did God create the Devil?

    In the end I found the best answer I could give was to borrow the idea from Bruce Almighty, that it is hard to make people love you without forcing them to do so. The argument goes that to be able to love people must also have the choice to hate. So there needed to be a tempter, so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Pete. That would be dualism, which is more logically compatible with reality, but the Christian narrative doesn’t subscribe to dualism. So, the bigger question your student/s should have asked was: Why? Why create at all when creation itself ruined what was already perfect? Seen from this angle, Lucifer was always going to fail because creation itself was already corrupted. And if Lucifer had failed, and Creation had already run completely off the rails, why create man? That would appear to be doubly evil…. or doubly stupid.

      Like

      • John I think Christian Theology is a bit like one of those boards where you bang on a peg and another pops out which has to be banged on. It is impossible to have all the pegs in at the same time.

        When I called myself a Christian I thought this was part of the ‘Holy Mystery’, after all “if we could understand God, then he would not be much of a God”.

        Post faith I see the matter very differently. All those areas of tension in the Bible which I thought contained insights into the great truths, I now realise were are better explained as simple contradictions.

        I struggled to understand for years why the ‘Devil’ would have rebelled against ‘God’ if he must have known he could not win.

        I wonder if the real question for theologians is how did Adam and Eve fail in the Garden if they were not yet fallen so to speak. The Sin principle does not really work for the original fall unless of course ‘God’ set them up to fail.

        It is a bit like the Lord’s Prayer which says ‘may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven‘. So this means it was “God’s” will that the Devil rebelled?

        I said to Ark once, ‘you can see why it took around 500 years for Christians to sort out their theology’. The whole thing is a total mess.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ‘you can see why it took around 500 years for Christians to sort out their theology’.

        Also took them, what, 1,200 or 1,400 years before they even let “believers” actually read the bible. That really should have been a red flag right there.

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  12. Great post John. I’ve always felt this way myself, that it just seems like the worse design possible if the goal was supposed to be this eternal harmony at one with God. If I were to create a universe and wanted life to love me and be good to each other and not do harm against my creation I’d go about things pretty much the same way except the following:

    1. Make many more appearances. Possibly a book tour. You know there is a ton of evidence for evolution and a lot of people don’t believe it anyway, so I’m pretty sure even with a fairly impressive use of my omnipotent skills and eternal wisdom would still have some doubters. I pretty sure plenty would simply reject me out of guessing what my motives are. Maybe if I can do anything, I’m only pretending to show everybody what heaven as like but actually send everybody to hell. So you know, like Bernie Sanders you gotta keep sending the message yourself. If it’s that important of a message you really just can’t leave it up to these being who really, on an evolutionary scale just descended from the trees. I mean people, I love you, but you really know how to fuck some things up some time. I’m going to choose my staff carefully, and then it’s speaking tours…pretty much until everybody gets it right.

    2. Like textbooks you have to have new editions as new information becomes available. Of course I’m omnipotent and I know everything already, but you know as someone who made evolution possible, I get it the fact that not everybody is ready for the second law of thermodynamics until a little later. But as God, who not only things evolution is cool, I also think the second law of thermodynamics is cool and want to include that in later version. I think the Bible could use some more equations. Possibly some geometry, because I’m fairly proud as well of just how neat math is.

    3. Less metaphors and analogies. Listen it can be a great way to get simply minded humans to understand things, but ultimately as God, I got to be able to back it up with some solid information that can be taken literally. It’s also rather dickish of me to always be talking down to people like that. I say start a bit of a higher level first, and then if people don’t get it, then use metaphors…”Okay people, forget evolution…you’re not ready yet…I forgot you haven’t found any fossils yet. Let’s talk about clay and pottery.”

    4. I would really send a consistent message cross-culturally. I mean no sending myself incarnate to just one area of the world to impact a relatively small group of people. The fact that everybody has a different story about me creates some confusion.

    5. So while I did love the variety that evolution produced when it came to humans it was a bad idea. Making 13 of 14 large domesticatable animals only available to Eurasia, with none in Australia or the Americas, that had somewhat disastrous results. Same with Hi protein, easily domesticable grains were also pretty uneven. I also really liked Native Americans, they had a lot of neat ideas…to see them die off so quickly from small pox and influenza and also causing Europeans to think they were superior…well we all know how that turned out. Maybe as God I would have explained how germs work better, and maybe I could have taught the Native Americans the same message the Europeans had and then they might be like…”Wait we’ve never met you, but you love Jesus too?”

    6. An early warning system for natural hazards like floods, droughts, earthquakes. Let’s face it, these hazards are pretty cool. But I understand how much we love our friends and family…let’s get them out of harms way, give them a better chance to migrate away if necessary.

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  13. Hmm, does ‘aseitic’ mean ‘perfect’, John? Casting around, it seems more like ‘uncaused or underived existence’ – i.e. self-generating. [see the book: Wittgenstein’s (misunderstood) Religious Thought] Conceptually, aseity would appear to stand in direct contradistinction to the Buddhist concept of Non-self, in which all phenomena are condition dependent in their genesis. Have I got it wrong?

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  14. This is yet another example of the atheist hallucinating a totally ridiculous alternative reality (in this case, a so-called “Christian Narrative”), assigning it to the opposition (in this case, Christians) and then acting as though arguing against the ridiculous proves that Christianity is ridiculous.

    This degenerate, retrograde, atheist way of thought is really a heinous crime against reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. An interesting take to be sure. But you come to the table with presuppositions that I question. Firstly, Christian theology never makes the claim that creation was “perfect” before the fall. It affirms that it is very good, but not perfect. Second, you are attempting to make a moral argument when the intention of the creation narrative is one of power and authority, not one of righteousness and holiness. It is not necessarily wrong to presume these traits as they are in fact attributed to God countless times, but it is interesting that you choose to push a moral ethic where text is depicting a divine act of power. This also fails to recognize how the Biblical creation narrative intersects with other Ancient Near Eastern creation myth, and the purpose that a creation narrative would be recorded at all. Philosophical inquiry is great, but when it is devoid of context it generally fails to see the bigger picture. I’d also like to bring to forward that you fail to make a moral argument from the scriptures themselves ( a quote from Ezekiel is hardly qualifying a biblical argument). Whether this was your intention or not, I am not entirely sure. I do believe that good within the scriptures is equated with God himself, not just some conception of what is profitable or advantageous. Since this is the case, the very presence (or absence) of God is what dictates a thing’s goodness. Creation was very good because God was among creation temporally not just because it was created by him. The idea of this perfect other isn’t an ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) idea but a very Greek/gnostic one. This isn’t to say that God isn’t perfect but it is to say that the idea that perfection leads to perfection is not a concept native to the scriptures. This moral argument then comes from a subjective humanism derived from perceived and experiences goodness. Scripture does not make such a claim, but claims that God himself IS goodness. Therefore, goodness is defined according to the character and nature of God, not according to subjective human experience. Its a strange philosophical concoction that you’ve compiled here. One that draws on philosophical schools of thought (most notably Gnosticism, Existentialism, and a Quasi-Platonism that is hard to pin down) with very little thought as to how they actually work together to create any kind of cohesive epistemic foundation. So there are some major holes in the logic here that need some further thinking. I find the argument interesting, just not philosophically viable. There are a few other items two (like presumptions of God’s intent and purpose for man’s creation and being “thrown” into a creation doomed to fail). But there is already more than enough to interact with, no need to drone on and on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Justin, thanks for the comment, and the critique.

      ”Firstly, Christian theology never makes the claim that creation was “perfect” before the fall. It affirms that it is very good, but not perfect.”

      Are you suggesting a perfect being deliberately created imperfection? Is that even possible? Would it not contradict the notion of an all-powerful, maximally good aseitic being? Of course, you’re free to posit such a character, but if you do, then we are no longer talking about the entity forwarded in general Christian theology. John 1:5 states there is no darkness at all in the creator.

      What is implied is, of course, that before the Fall there was perfection. As however noted, the narrative presented by Christians is fundamentally flawed as the Fall did not occur with man, but with Lucifer before man was created. By the chronology of the narrative, Creation was already diseased, already corrupted, and this renders the act of creating man an immoral act. Suffering was guaranteed.

      ”Second, you are attempting to make a moral argument when the intention of the creation narrative is one of power and authority, not one of righteousness and holiness.”

      Actually, this is incorrect. The general theological premise of bonum diffusivum sui, as articulated by Aquinas, is the only explanation presented to answer perhaps the most pressing question of material existence: Why create in the first place? What purpose did it serve? Naturally, possible answers such as vanity, pride, ego are fairly repulsive to the apologist, so we have the central idea of goodness flowing over.

      This, however, is confused, as how can any-thing flow over/outside an aseitic being? It’s contradictory.

      ”it is interesting that you choose to push a moral ethic where text is depicting a divine act of power”

      With all due respect, I find this to be a confused observation. Should not a perfectly moral being act only in accordance to perfect morality? Is such a being even capable of acting in any manner less? If so, then that being is not wholly moral, correct? And is there not a moral underpinning to the act of creation? Not when an artist creates a painting, or even when an architect designs a building, but we are not talking about a terrestrial artist or architect. We are considering a being who created the phenomenal universe, forging it out of the plenitude of infinite power and foreknowledge; a world this entity then moved his “children” into.

      Now, I say confused because you contradict yourself later by saying: “that God himself IS goodness.” Yes, that is the claim. Exactly. The claim, though, is demonstrably flawed as this being created man after his creation had failed. He threw his “children” into a house that was already on fire.

      That is either an act of evil, or sheer incompetence.

      ”I find the argument interesting, just not philosophically viable.”

      Then I suppose it’s good that I’m predominantly dealing with the historical chronology (as presented in the narrative), and not, essentially, the philosophy. That is not, however, to say the philosophy isn’t also flawed. It is, and flamboyantly so. And you’ve alluded to it in your comment. If what existed before the phenomenal universe was perfect (as one must assume given the claim of an all-good, aseitic being), then, if you forward the idea that creation itself was not perfect, then the act of creation broke that which was perfect; it separated things from perfection. The entire concept is, at best, disastrously confused, and at worse, fatally contradictory in that it negates the central and primary claim of the Creator’s character; his maximum goodness.

      This appears to leave just two possibilities:

      1) the act of creation was evil, or

      2) the Creator is a flawed, imperfect aseitic being

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      • Ok, John I fear you’re still not picking up what I am throwing down so let me come at this from a different angle. Good and evil are objective according to a Biblical worldview. What is good is what God says is good, what is evil is what God says is evil. There is no arbitrary room by which to make a judgment. That is the issue here. You are projecting secular humanism into the rationale of an ancient text that was theocentric. Worldviews are comprehensive systems, so you have to be willing to accept certain presuppositions in order for the logic of those worldviews to work themselves out. So when scripture says that God is good…it is not giving us a quality in which we can measure his goodness, it gives us a way to measure and understand goodness as God is its embodiment. Aquinas was a brilliant man, and while I agree that his purpose for creation was out of an overflow of communal love and expression, I do not agree that an overflow of “goodness” is the motivating factor for creation. In that I am in agreement with Augustine and John Crystosome who posit that an overflow of love is the motivation for the creative act. It is in this overflow that God wishes to share trinitarian love with his creatures, so that the overflow may bless more than just the triune Godhead (this is why the trinity is so vital to Christian theology).

        I think another stumbling block here is the word aseitic. The word itself is incredibly vague and not one that we see remotely used within the biblical text (not one time). Its use in this manner isn’t really appropriate as you’re making a claim of character and then combining the definitions of the word to make it appear contradictory. Aseitic can mean completely self-sustaining, or it can mean suicidal/self-annihilating it cannot be both. The syntax doesn’t bear that as a possibility considering the vast variation in meaning between the two definitions. So aseitic isn’t a word we can use to describe God for two reasons; (1) it isn’t found in scripture, (2) its vague enough to have two possible meaning neither of which are even remotely related to the other. So, the use of this word isn’t accurate, or appropriate seeing that the word has issues of its own (not to mention God doesn’t use an equivalent to describe himself).

        The fall of Lucifer is a tricky thing. I do think that he was the first of creation to fall…BUT he was not the cause of the fall. Let me explain. Lucifer rebels against God as do 1/3rd of the angels. God throws him out of heaven and onto the earth. The timeline for when this occurs and when the fall of Adam and Eve occur are not outlined for us (mostly because it isn’t important for us to know). But, we do know that Lucifer fell before Adam and Eve so if Lucifer had fallen was creation fallen as well? No, it wasn’t. Lucifer was a leader in heaven…and his rebellion (birthed from his exercise of this free-will) was dispatched in heaven. The reason the fall of the universe falls upon human kind is because humanity was given dominion over all of creation. Humanity was the guardian and keeper of creation, and for that reason a born ruler made to mirror God both in character and in function. Since this is true, we were given free-will, just as God has free-will. In our exercise of free-will we sin against God (we couldn’t follow one rule…just one).
        Paradox (due to being limited) makes sense when we come to understand the enormity of God. This is what you are seeing (to some extent). God doesn’t play by our rules (as evidenced in the command from God not to envy, and yet he declares himself a jealous God). But this is because these emotions and actions are tempered with pure intention, holiness, and perfection. Where we may not be able to do a thing, God can readily do that thing and do it without sin (where we cannot). The question isn’t, “Does God agree with my perception of truth, justice, and goodness.” It’s does he exist to begin with and if so what do I need to learn in order to be in alignment with him. Sure you can judge and charge him with all sorts of ridiculous things and create a rationale, but in the end he still ends up in the judges seat…not you. If God is real…his actions are something we cannot comprehend fully. To think this is possible is to either think too highly of yourself, or to think too little of God. The mystery of God is part of Christian theology as much as the affirmation of things he has declared about himself. So let me try to do something that might help simplify what I am saying further.

        You are saying Goodness looks like something defined by human morality and bound to its own ethics. God doesn’t follow these ethics therefore God is not good.
        While the logic works, it works on its own terms apart from how scripture (and Christianity for that matter) articulates the goodness of God.

        Christian theology say God is the standard of good. If our standard of good is not in step with that it is not God that is at fault, but it is us that are at fault. Your measure of goodness is completely arbitrary, completely opinion. Mine is defined by God who is the picture of goodness. So where the good is an assumption from your points of argumentation, good is a divine position from a Christian perspective. This doesn’t even take into account the issues of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence but it does take into account the measure of a thing defined by God himself. God humors us, puts up with us, answers our questions and walks with us through life, but he is not bound to do this. God owes us no answers and could justifiably walk away in 5 minutes and still be morally perfect, just, and good in doing so.

        Again creation had not fallen when Adam and Eve were created because Adam and Eve were the independent personification and representation of that creation. Lucifer was an angelic being and therefore not a member of the created universe. He is thrown down onto the earth, but is not part of it. He is a spiritual being living in a physical realm and is therefore disjointed from this space unable to cause anything. Now can he influence, sure, can he tempt, (temptation is a prelude to sin it is not sin itself) yes, but he cannot cause anything to happen. So when humanity followed Lucifer’s path all of creation fell with them as they were the rulers, and representation of that created order. Do not confuse creation of heavenly beings with the creation of earthly ones, they are not the same things.

        I bounced all over the place, I’m sorry. If we continue this I will be sure to structure my responses a bit more cohesively.

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      • Hi Justin

        ”What is good is what God says is good, what is evil is what God says is evil. There is no arbitrary room by which to make a judgment.”

        What you seem to be presenting here is a certain pedigree of theology (certainly not universal) whose natural conclusion ends in Divine Command Theory.

        Do you subscribe to this?

        If so, it is contradictory and negates all possible concepts of a good being. A good being is a just being, and Yhwh is indeed said to be just (see 2 Thessalonians 1:6, Jeremiah 17:10, Job 36:6, Acts 17:31, 1 John 1:9, Romans 3:23-26, Deuteronomy 32:4, Chronicles 19:7, Romans 9:14). For justice to be meaningful (for it to be good) it has to be consistent. If we cannot rely on this consistency then we do not have “justice,” rather some haphazard, arbitrary dispensing of punishment according to the erratic emotional states of the judge and executioner.

        ”You are projecting secular humanism into the rationale of an ancient text that was theocentric.”

        No. I am, first and foremost, looking at the chronology of the narrative. It is flawed (irreparably flawed) when assessed against the general Christian narrative which blames the corruption on man.

        Or are you trying to argue Lucifer did not fall before man? That would be quite the impossible task.

        ”So when scripture says that God is good…it is not giving us a quality in which we can measure his goodness, it gives us a way to measure and understand goodness as God is its embodiment.”

        I’m sorry, but I can’t make head or tail of this statement. It’s spectacular gibberish. God is good, but we can’t measure that, yet we can only measure good by God. That’s pure nonsense. It makes no sense at all, except for perhaps giving the apologist a Get Out of Jail Free card for any contradiction said apologist finds himself in.

        ”Aquinas was a brilliant man, and while I agree that his purpose for creation was out of an overflow of communal love and expression, I do not agree that an overflow of “goodness” is the motivating factor for creation … In that I am in agreement with Augustine and John Crystosome who posit that an overflow of love is the motivation for the creative act.”

        Is not love goodness? You are merely replacing one word with another without changing the underlying meaning. If you can distinguish between the two, with a working example, then I’d be happy to consider that distinction.

        “I think another stumbling block here is the word aseitic. The word itself is incredibly vague and not one that we see remotely used within the biblical text (not one time).”

        It’s not vague at all. It means a fully contained being.

        Again, you can certainly present a definition of Yhwh as less than complete with imperfect power and reach, subject to external forces over which he has no control, but then we are no longer talking about the fully self-contained, maximally powerful god of Christian theology, rather entertaining some cosmogony rooted in dualism.

        “But, we do know that Lucifer fell before Adam and Eve so if Lucifer had fallen was creation fallen as well? No, it wasn’t. Lucifer was a leader in heaven”

        I suggest you brush up on your creation story, Justin. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Before that moment there was only Yhwh, and therefore all that was, was perfect. According to the claim, of course.

        “Your measure of goodness is completely arbitrary, completely opinion. Mine is defined by God who is the picture of goodness.”

        And yet you say above we cannot measure goodness, so where is your definition coming from?

        I’m sorry, Justin, but you appear to be simply penning sentences that are inconsistent (incoherent) to previous statements. You come across as being thoroughly confused, your thoughts an atrocious mess of self-negating contradictions.

        Ignoring, however, the contradictions, I’m to assume then that you support, for example, abortion. By your reasoning, abortion is “good” because Yhwh sanctions it. After all, we have an abortion ritual detailed in Numbers 5:11-21, complete with a prayer to Yhwh, who then performs the abortion on demand.

        Similarly, I’m to also assume you support slavery, as opposed to the “arbitrary opinions” of man-made law which freed the slaves.

        Is this correct?

        “God humors us, puts up with us, answers our questions and walks with us through life, but he is not bound to do this. God owes us no answers and could justifiably walk away in 5 minutes and still be morally perfect, just, and good in doing so.”

        Interesting opinion. So, the Creator has no responsibility at all for the Created? The natural question is then:

        Why create in the first place?.

        What purpose did it serve?

        You said love earlier, but, once again, appear to be conspicuously contradicting yourself. Is maximum love conditional, prone to erratic changes in temperament, fads, and fashion?

        And again, for justice to meaningful it has to be consistent. What you are describing here is the opposite of consistency. Nothing can be measured from this. There is no truth, just a ready-made excuse for all things unjust.

        “Again creation had not fallen when Adam and Eve were created because Adam and Eve were the independent personification and representation of that creation. Lucifer was an angelic being and therefore not a member of the created universe.”

        Again, you really need to brush up on your bible. That, or you’re just exercising wilful ignorance. Lucifer was the finest all Yhwh’s creations. The most beautiful.

        “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty…Every precious stone was your covering” (Ezekiel 28:12,13).

        “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created till iniquity was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:15).

        “From the day you were created…”

        Is there another Creator at play here, Justin?

        And again, everything is a part of the aseitic being: Every particle, every molecule, every planet, every creature, even every supernal hearth and the entities who inhabit it, be they material or immaterial. Nothing can be independent of it. Unless, of course, you’re positing that Yhwh is not fully contained, that he is incomplete, and creation was unique, separate. If so, then you confront the fatal contradiction which you have seemingly deliberately ignored addressing: the act of creation contradicts the Christian narrative of a good god.

        Because the act of creation separated all contingent things (created things) from the original state of perfection, then the act of creation was itself either 1) an act of premeditated evil, or 2) a working example of diabolical incompetence as it destroyed that which was previously perfect.

        In this regard, it was neither Lucifer nor men who were responsible for the corruption upon which the Christian narrative rests, but Yhwh himself. If he created consciously, then that was evil. Conversely, if creation was an accident, an overflow of that being’s character, then Yhwh cannot be maximally good as what was created (what overflowed) was imperfect.

        Which one is it?

        Are you saying Creation is a separate thing, independent of Yhwh, or are all things from, and dependent on, Yhwh?

        Was the act of creation a conscious act, or an accident?

        Your opinions on this matter appear deeply and acutely inconsistent, so some clarity would be appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Its not that what I am stating is “deeply and acutely inconsistent”. It’s that what I am posting doesn’t play within the realm of thought and definition that you want to force on the text. You’ve come to this text with presumptions that shouldn’t be there…which has lead to a woefully ignorant mess of tangents. I am currently working and later have a pre-marital counseling session once I have finished those two things I will attempt (while trying not to write a book) to answer your questions and objections. But I am not allowing the use of aseitic regarding God to continue in this dialogue as again it is vague. You can argue that point if you’d like but the facts are what they are. I’ve worked academically within this field, and in all of my interactions that word has never once been used. There is a reason for this. It is because it isn’t academically viable.

    So when answering your objections this is how it will be done so as to be as clear and brief as humanely possible.

    1. A summation of your presumption.
    2. The reason this presumption is false or unwarranted.
    3. The logical error made.
    4. The ANE interaction with the concept.
    5. Christian History’s interaction with the concept.
    6. Christian Theology’s interaction with the concept in light of the above.

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    • Hi Justin

      Yes, I’m sorry, but your thoughts are deeply and acutely inconsistent. If you wish to continue this conversation I would only ask you to be coherent in your statements and stop contradicting yourself.

      Now, most of what you have suggested you want to write about (no doubt a copy n’ paste exercise) can be forgotten. It bears no relation to this post.

      Please address the fundamentals in a coherent, non-contradictory manner. If you can clear these few things up then we can move on to litigating any rational objections you think you might have uncovered.

      So, to start with: Do you, Yes or No, subscribe to Divine Command Theory? If so, where do you get your definition of “goodness” from?

      Was the act of creation a conscious act, or, essentially, an accident (an overflow)?

      Is Creation separate from the Creator, or are all things dependent on (a part of) the Creator (an aseitic being)?

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    • And Justin, regarding aseity, I’m not sure what type of academic arena’s you’ve interacted with, or at what level, but I’d suggest you look up, for example, the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. There are many articles on it, and its foundation in Christian theology. Here, I’ll even give you the link as I suspect you’ve never used this resource.

      http://plato.stanford.edu/search/searcher.py?query=aseity

      And here is the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) article on the aseity of Yhwh.

      https://carm.org/what-is-the-aseity-of-god

      And here is the champion of Christian apologetics, William Lane Craig, confirming aseity to be a fundamental tenet (doctrine) of Christian theology

      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/scholarly-articles/divine-aseity

      Hope this all helps clears your confusion up.

      Like

      • “What you seem to be presenting here is a certain pedigree of theology (certainly not universal) whose natural conclusion ends in Divine Command Theory.
        Do you subscribe to this?
        If so, it is contradictory and negates all possible concepts of a good being. A good being is a just being, and Yhwh is indeed said to be just”

        I’m not new to this game John. You want to label so that you know what defense or argument to bring forward. You aren’t actually interested in learning anything here which is why I am not going to take this point within any sincerity. The reality is, God is good because he is just. But that justice is again something determined by the character and activity of God himself, not by an outside subjective force. You’re attempting to create contradiction where none exists…and that for me is problematic to having constructive dialogue. Please also note, listing scripture to me without an understanding of those texts on an exegetical level isn’t going to do more for me than make me shake my head at an atheist quoting my own sacred text to me like I don’t know it. Not only is this intensely irritating, it’s a little disrespectful. I have intentionally not quoted scripture in an attempt to “meet you in the middle”. If you want to have a scripture listing battle have at it…but you’ll find this doesn’t do much to sway my opinion as the text is being leveraged to prove your point instead of bearing its own point. Every time it is utilized this way it is abused and raped, which is again distressing. What you are doing here is attempting to put me at odds with the law of noncontradiction. Nice try, but I’m not biting.

        “No. I am, first and foremost, looking at the chronology of the narrative. It is flawed (irreparably flawed) when assessed against the general Christian narrative which blames the corruption on man.
        Or are you trying to argue Lucifer did not fall before man? That would be quite the impossible task.”

        Oh, but you are, and the fact that you don’t recognize that is detrimental to your ability to make a valid statement on the topic (this is only being proven by your own words the more you type). The narrative as it were shows that man is responsible for his own sin. You’re objection is an inference, and exegetical opinion based on an uneducated exegesis of the text (if not blatant eisegesis). Lucifer and all of the other angels were created before humanity. Lucifer was cast out of heaven before the fall of creation we think. A lot of this is postulation and redaction from other texts, most of which are prophetic in nature generally carrying a threefold meaning as was common of Jewish prophetic literature (present reality, recent future, distant future). The narrative of the fall of Lucifer isn’t one that is flushed out but is something mentioned in passing while speaking prophetically. Because it isn’t given a full treatment to attempt to make it the crux of an argument isn’t a wise move. If you’re willing to accept the statements from OT pseudepigraphal texts, then you may have a case, but even if that were the case. The Pseudepigrapha isn’t considered accepted canon within Christianity. So you still come up grasping for straws to hold onto here.

        “I’m sorry, but I can’t make head or tail of this statement. It’s spectacular gibberish. God is good, but we can’t measure that, yet we can only measure good by God. That’s pure nonsense. It makes no sense at all, except for perhaps giving the apologist a Get Out of Jail Free card for any contradiction said apologist finds himself in.”

        To state that God is the measure of goodness isn’t spectacular gibberish…it just doesn’t align with your thinking and therefore rips away from you this “logic” that you’re attempting to use to discredit him. We are limited beings…if we are limited…we aren’t going to see the whole picture. Christian theology teaches this as a point of humility (a quality lacking in most atheists I have come across). The quality of goodness isn’t a thing measurable by human equivocation. If it is, I’d like the unit of measurement and the repeatable process by which it is done. Since no such thing exists and we are dealing with the element of an idea, we need to understand the source of the said idea. If the source of goodness is God, then God is the measure by which we measure what is and is not good. In other words, the humanistic rationale you use in making your argument holds no logical viability since you are basing goodness on…well I don’t know. You’ve thrown the word around without quantifying the meaning for the word. You’ve merely presumed an unsaid meaning and then made an argument from what is essentially nothing but a word. The reason you have all these yes men gathering around you telling you brilliant this is because they too are clueless as to what goodness actually means. The word must be quantified, recognized, and defined. So far you’ve failed to do that.

        “Is not love goodness? You are merely replacing one word with another without changing the underlying meaning. If you can distinguish between the two, with a working example, then I’d be happy to consider that distinction.”

        Goodness and love certainly have a connection…but they aren’t the same thing. An argument for this isn’t required…look in a thesaurus…you aren’t going to find the word love as a synonym for good. The love of God motivates the goodness of God, it is the source of God’s goodness, but it is not goodness itself. Again, I don’t think this is a point that needs to be proven, just thumbing through a thesaurus makes this point clear.

        “It’s not vague at all. It means a fully contained being.
        Again, you can certainly present a definition of Yhwh as less than complete with imperfect power and reach, subject to external forces over which he has no control, but then we are no longer talking about the fully self-contained, maximally powerful god of Christian theology, rather entertaining some cosmogony rooted in dualism.”

        No this is an area where any Christian that isn’t a fool is going to admit readily that understanding the sovereignty of God and the free will of man interplay to keep both statements as true is an impossible task. All we can do affirm what scripture says. God is sovereign, he allows free will to play its part in his divine plan. How that works is anyone’s guess. I have some ideas but they’re purely speculative. A finite being can only understand a portion of infinity, it can never look at the whole, only parts of the whole. Admittedly this can be viewed as a “special pleading fallacy” but Christians never claim a comprehensive understanding of God, just a revealed view of him.

        “I suggest you brush up on your creation story, Justin. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Before that moment there was only Yhwh, and therefore all that was, was perfect. According to the claim, of course.”

        So here is a prime example of what I wrote earlier. You have zero understanding of the text within its original setting. The worldviews of ANE cultures were significantly different from the one that we have. Because of this words like “heaven” or “heavens” were used differently. All that “heavens” means the expanse of space/sky, NOT the eternal dwelling place of God and his angelic host. How that came to be we do not know. So Lucifer is a created being, BUT he is not a member of THIS creation, and because of that his fall does not effect THIS creation.

        “And yet you say above we cannot measure goodness, so where is your definition coming from?
        I’m sorry, Justin, but you appear to be simply penning sentences that are inconsistent (incoherent) to previous statements. You come across as being thoroughly confused, your thoughts an atrocious mess of self-negating contradictions.
        Ignoring, however, the contradictions, I’m to assume then that you support, for example, abortion. By your reasoning, abortion is “good” because Yhwh sanctions it. After all, we have an abortion ritual detailed in Numbers 5:11-21, complete with a prayer to Yhwh, who then performs the abortion on demand.
        Similarly, I’m to also assume you support slavery, as opposed to the “arbitrary opinions” of man-made law which freed the slaves.
        Is this correct?”

        Now this is starting to get a little ADHD. I’m not going into the difference between the will of God and the plan of God. Nor am I going into the difference between God sanctioning something and God allowing it to be for the sake of grace. These issues are complicated on their own and are far too comprehensive to even begin discussing here at any length. All I will say is this;
        Numbers 5:11-21 isn’t referencing abortion, at least not as we define it today. Please also note…that this ceremony was done as a test of whether a woman was unfaithful. If she was unfaithful then God caused her to be barren. Modern abortion is human being chopping up children and sucking them out with vacuums because they’re inconvenient. There is a pointed difference between the two. God has is just and in his justice he does what is good (punish sin).

        Slavery is NOT supported by the Bible. A good friend of mine actually presents this point in a 4 hour podcast in which he was in a panel discussing the BLM movement in Detroit. If you’d like the link to that I’d be happy to share it with you. He’s far better at articulating it than I am.

        “Interesting opinion. So, the Creator has no responsibility at all for the Created? The natural question is then:
        Why create in the first place?.
        What purpose did it serve?
        You said love earlier, but, once again, appear to be conspicuously contradicting yourself. Is maximum love conditional, prone to erratic changes in temperament, fads, and fashion?
        And again, for justice to meaningful it has to be consistent. What you are describing here is the opposite of consistency. Nothing can be measured from this. There is no truth, just a ready-made excuse for all things unjust.”

        Justice is consistent. See this is what you are failing to see…justice can BE consistent and yet not be perceived as consistent because of bias. The point I am trying to make is that you cannot sit on a judge’s bench against God and attempt to demand an explanation for the things that don’t make sense to your conception of justice. Just because YOU don’t see it as consistent, doesn’t mean that it isn’t consistent. We see reality in part, our perception limited by our finite natures. God isn’t limited by such a thing. Now you are likely (I am almost certain) going to object to this point and either claim it to be erroneous or gibberish. If this is your reaction…then I’m not sure there is much I can help you with. If you are unwilling to accept the limitations of human understanding in comparison to that of God, then a continued dialogue isn’t something I will be participating in. You’ve made up your mind, and in your arrogance concluded that your own feeble understanding of these concepts are adequate to find God wanting. Again, as I’ve said all along…you’ve come to this with presumption which you cannot even begin to quantify (which is why you aren’t quantifying them).

        “Again, you really need to brush up on your bible. That, or you’re just exercising wilful ignorance. Lucifer was the finest all Yhwh’s creations. The most beautiful”

        Not willful ignorance, textual certainty. Scripture states that Lucifer is a creation of God, but it does not classify him as a creation of the current cosmology. Some interpreters even suggest (like John Calvin and even more modern interpreters like Metzger) that when God says, “let us make man in our image” that he is speaking to the angelic host. Again, heavens and earth is referencing current cosmology, not the heaven where God currently abides. Also note, God gave humanity dominion over all of creation (Gen. 1:28-30). Angels are not considered members of this domain; they are spiritual, not physical beings. Therefore, Lucifer was created, BUT he was not a member of the cosmos being created in Genesis 1. Since he is not a member of this cosmology, his fall has no effect on this cosmology (it has an effect in heaven where 1/3rd of the angelic host rebels against God with Lucifer). So there is not need to “brush up” since I am articulating a exegesis consistent with 2000 years of church history.

        “And again, everything is a part of the aseitic being: Every particle, every molecule, every planet, every creature, even every supernal hearth and the entities who inhabit it, be they material or immaterial. Nothing can be independent of it. Unless, of course, you’re positing that Yhwh is not fully contained, that he is incomplete, and creation was unique, separate. If so, then you confront the fatal contradiction which you have seemingly deliberately ignored addressing: the act of creation contradicts the Christian narrative of a good god.”

        Say what? Ok…now you’ve moved from textually ignorant to theologically insulting. Aseitic (which is used and I didn’t recognize it, learn something new everyday) doesn’t equate with pantheism or panentheism.

        “And again, everything is a part of the aseitic being: Every particle, every molecule, every planet, every creature, even every supernal hearth and the entities who inhabit it, be they material or immaterial. Nothing can be independent of it.”

        Ok…this is not theism. This is pantheism/panentheism. God and the created order are distinctly separate. Creation is not God and God is not creation. Aseitic means fully contained but that containment is within the being of God, not outside of it. How you confused this is beyond me…but wow is that some mental gymnastics you just pulled off. Scripture very clearly articulates this point over and over and over again. Most notably in Romans 1 when he says that those given over to their own sin will worship creation rather than the creator. If everything was a part of the aseitic being as you claim, he wouldn’t care.

        “Unless, of course, you’re positing that Yhwh is not fully contained, that he is incomplete, and creation was unique, separate. If so, then you confront the fatal contradiction which you have seemingly deliberately ignored addressing: the act of creation contradicts the Christian narrative of a good god.”

        Never in the history of ever has Christianity ever equated creation with God…they have always been held as separate and distinct from one another…always. There is no contradiction…your definitive of aseitic is completely and totally bogus…I think you need to read those links you shared with me again…because what is articulated there and what you just wrote are VERY different from one another. In fact the etymology of the word exactly contradicts what you’ve written here. Aseity comes from the latin word aseite meaning “of oneself”. It means that God exists in wholeness within his own being DISTINCT from creation, not AS creation. Yikes….

        So I’m finding that your objections to the narrative actually hold less to the actual narrative and more with your fatal misunderstanding of aseity when it is related to its usage in theism. Aseity has NOTHING to do with the relation between the created order and the creator. Now it has weight concerning the reason to create, but it has no correlation concerning God’s relationship with the created order and how he acts within that created order.
        You are making serious charges with a trumped up meaning of aseity that no Christian would agree with. So at this point you’re post is a strawman…that is unless you want to take back what you said regarding aseity. If not…then strawman it is…

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      • Hi Justin.

        Apologies, no idea why this comment went through to Moderation. Only first-time comments are subject to that.

        No game being played. I generally leave that up to the apologist. Knowing whether or not you subscribe to Divine Command Theory is essential to understanding where you’re coming from. As you are fully aware, there is no one, single Christian theology, and if you subscribe to DCT, which it appears you do, then there’s virtually no point in talking to you. Any contradiction shown to you will be dismissed with a hand-wave. That doesn’t make for a conversation, just a platform for an apologist to demonstrate just how far they’ve excused themselves from rational thought.

        ” The reality is, God is good because he is just.”

        To repeat, for justice to be meaningful, for it to be “good,” is has to be consistent. What you are describing is anything but consistency. It’s unknowable chaos.

        Now, don’t get me wrong, you can posit any definition you like of Yhwh, the entire concept is suitably nebulous enough to accommodate anything, but don’t try and pass words and concepts off like ‘Justice’ if they simply do not fit the picture you are trying paint.

        So, what you are really trying to say is this: Yhwh can do anything he pleases, and it will always be “good.”

        Great from Yhwh’s perspective. Atrociously cruel for everything not afforded that view. Indeed, if punishment is involved, then it’s morally reprehensible. But then again, you do subscribe to Divine Command Theory, don’t you?

        ” The narrative as it were shows that man is responsible for his own sin.”

        No, the narrative (in chronological order) places man in an already corrupted, failed Creation. Did the character “sin” by his own fruition, or was it inevitable? The corruption was already in the Garden, was it not? Lucifer was walking around… tempting the innocent. That’s not a perfect world, is it?

        >”Lucifer and all of the other angels were created before humanity.”

        Isn’t that what I had previously said, but you tried to say I was wrong?

        So, you are admitting here that creation had failed before the creation of man. Of course, this contradicts everything you’re trying to say about man being responsible for the Fall.

        ” The narrative of the fall of Lucifer isn’t one that is flushed out but is something mentioned in passing while speaking prophetically.”

        Oh dear, here we go:

        If the source of goodness is God, then God is the measure by which we measure what is and is not good.

        I thought I asked you to stop contradicting yourself, Justin. You say we can’t measure Yhwh’s goodness, but then ram a thousand and one toothpicks in your eye by saying Yhwh is our only measure of what is good.

        You’re simply not making any sense here. It’s gibberish. It looks like English, but no one can understand a word you’re saying. And there’s a reason for that: you’re contradicting yourself.

        ”No this is an area where any Christian that isn’t a fool is going to admit readily that understanding the sovereignty of God and the free will of man interplay to keep both statements as true is an impossible task. All we can do affirm what scripture says.”

        Fair enough. Just accept then that everything you say on the matter is your opinion, and no one has any compelling reason to believe it.

        ”How that works is anyone’s guess. I have some ideas but they’re purely speculative.”

        And yet in other matters you seem to imply that you know precisely what motivates Yhwh. Contradiction?

        ”All that “heavens” means the expanse of space/sky, NOT the eternal dwelling place of God and his angelic host.”

        Justin, please don’t try to assume you know what I know, or what I don’t. I am fully aware of the ancient Hebrew view of the universe, and the lexicon used… like the word “circle,” and not “sphere” (Kadur). The point being, the aseitic being, Yhwh, existed before heaven or earth, before the angels or man.

        “BUT he is not a member of THIS creation, and because of that his fall does not effect THIS creation.”

        That’s some mental gymnastics you’re performing there, Justin. It’s also fiction. Regardless of how many layers, there is only Creation, and it was already corrupted before the Christian narrative of the Fall.

        However, even if for arguments sake I grant you your fiction, it still demonstrates the same failure. Yhwh’s first creation (according to your opinion), heaven, failed.

        It failed miserably and spectacularly.

        If he’d already failed, why attempt it again?

        And as he did attempt it again, according to your fiction, why did he allow the failed creation (heaven) to interact with the second creation (earth)?

        Is that not an act of pure evil?

        ”I’m not going into the difference between the will of God and the plan of God”

        And there you are affirming that you do, somehow, know precisely what Yhwh does, and why, yet contradicting your earlier statements implying you cannot know.

        ”Numbers 5:11-21 isn’t referencing abortion, at least not as we define it today.”

        Yes, it is. A pregnancy is terminated unnaturally. That, Justin, is an abortion, and it is performed by Yhwh himself.

        As such, by your reasoning that Yhwh is all good, then abortion, too, is good.

        Own it.

        ”If she was unfaithful then God caused her to be barren.”

        Please don’t play loose with the text, Justin. The passage reads: “when he makes your womb miscarry.” What causes that annihilation of the foetus? The poison forcibly given to the pregnant woman.

        That, Justin, is an abortion.

        ”Slavery is NOT supported by the Bible.”

        Yes, it is.

        ” See this is what you are failing to see…justice can BE consistent and yet not be perceived as consistent because of bias.”

        Justice is blind. For it to be good, it has to be consistent. It is not open to fashion, which is what you are describing.

        ”Just because YOU don’t see it as consistent, doesn’t mean that it isn’t consistent.”

        Good luck unraveling that Gordian Knot you’re tying yourself into.

        ”Scripture states that Lucifer is a creation of God, but it does not classify him as a creation of the current cosmology.”

        And another loop of the knot goes on. Lucifer can interact with the earth, can he not?

        But still, let’s grant you this fiction. It makes no difference to the larger narrative. Yhwh’s first creation had failed.

        ” Ok…this is not theism. This is pantheism/panentheism.”

        I think what you meant to say was, this is not Christian thinking. In one respect, you’re right. In another, you’re not. This is another failure in the god hypothesis forwarded. Aseity does indeed mean nothing can be outside the aseitic creature. Nothing. Creation is not some separate thing, rather a molding of the aseitic being’s nature. There is no “external” matter to shape, nor could any “external” matter be created to be shaped. Everything is of the aseitic being. Everything. That’s what it means. However, here comes the contradiction… Traditional Christian theology does seem to imply that although Yhwh is aseitic, he creates things (this universe, for instance) as somehow distinct, separate.

        It makes no sense. It’s a contradiction in terms. And if you think on it, you’ll eventually come to see this.

        ” God and the created order are distinctly separate. Creation is not God and God is not creation.”

        OK, thank you for finally clearing this up.

        Ignoring the fact that an aseitic being cannot even do such a thing, this brings us back to the failure of the Christian narrative.

        The act of creation destroyed that which was whole, that which was in a state of perfection.

        In this respect, man short-circuiting was as inevitable as Lucifer short-circuiting before him.

        Creation was corrupted and diseased the very moment it came into existence… the moment it was made separate from perfection.

        The act of creation was, therefore, evil.

        The question then is: was it deliberate, or accidental?

        Depending on your answer (and Christian teaching supports both), then one of the two following conclusions must be true:

        1) If Yhwh created deliberately, willfully, then creation was an act of premeditated evil. Yhwh broke that which was perfect, and did so knowingly. (Further, if we’re to accept your fiction of two Creations, then this makes Yhwh’s second act of creation morally reprehensible, which is consistent with the initial act of evil.)

        Or

        2) If Creation was an accident (an overflow), then, as what overflowed was imperfect, Yhwh must also be imperfect. Diseased. Incompetent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for this. Most who work in this realm of theology do so from a systematic position. Most of my academic work has been in biblical theology which is text specific and contextually driven by the biblical narrative. Aseity was never a word utilized to describe the wholeness of God since it isn’t a Hebrew of Greek term. Just wanted to clear up why I’ve never worked with it before.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. So here is my issue. You don’t actually present Christian theology…you present your own opinion of it and interpretation…but you’re not defining Christian Theology as Christians themselves have articulated it. We’ve been studying the book for 2000 years, fairly certain our grasp of it is significantly more advanced than yours. Even if that is not the case however and we are merely opinions fighting opinions the reality is my opinions have been vetted…yours have not. You cannot merely presume definitions of words (as you have done aseity) and then act as if your understanding is authoritative, it doesn’t work that way. So the narrative as you interpret it…might fail…but that is because you’ve performed your own butchery upon the text, not because the narrative actually fails. So instead of continuing to bang my head against the concrete wall that is your “logic”, I am going to step out of the way and continue on with my day. Dialogue can only be had when both sides are willing to use accepted definitions instead of making up their own. Once that begins, dialogue comes to a stand still. Aseity must be defined as Christians define it if you are going to use it to bludgeon the narrative. The reality is you cannot even do that…but create some convoluted new age understanding mixed with eastern mysticism. You flatly admit this and yet continue to make your claim…which only goes further to prove your inability to come to the issue at hand allowing the material to speak for itself. Logic and reason are only as useful as those who wield. It is far wiser (not to mention quantifiable evidentially) to admit a level of uncertainty. We do not even understand the world we live on or the wives that sleep next to us…how can we come to know an infinite God the way you are attempting to claim to. Honest dialogue does these things…dishonest dialogue attempts to make everything a certainty (either by creative philosophy or a straight up reimagining of a word). You claim to not be playing games but aren’t at all hearing what is being said only hitting on your bullet points again. Teaching scripture is a process. Only when the foundations are understood can the truth be fully seen. I have been attempting to do that to no avail. So I am going to suggest that you read some actual textual scholars. See what they have to say about the flow of the narrative. These are men who are experts not just on the scriptures but on their extra-biblical contemporaries. I will say you’ve made me think about this more than I would have otherwise, but at the end of the day, I find it far more reasonable to (not to mention textually honest) to defend the current stances and positions of Christian faith than to not do so.

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    • Curious, how can an opinion influence the chronology of events detailed in the narrative?

      I’d be genuinely interested to hear your explanation for this.

      Justin, until today, you didn’t even know aseity was a central theme in Christian theology. It would be foolish, I think, for you to now even attempt to unravel it, given your ignorance on the matter.

      That being said, it’s not really even that important. By the narrative, we both agree that Yhwh is a fully contained Omni-being. That’s all that matters. The contradiction in what an aseitic being can or cannot do might be an interesting academic question, but it doesn’t even apply to the post. There’s no reason to muddy the water.

      Now, to the matter at hand. Are you going to continue your poorly-thought-through misdirection’s, your thinly veiled ad hominem attacks, and your outlandish theological sophistry, or should I expect you to actually address the failure of the Christian narrative as laid out?

      For example, you’ve completely ignored addressing that if, for arguments sake, I grant you your fiction of two Creations, then wouldn’t the second act of creation (the earth and man) have been morally reprehensible considering Yhwh’s first creation (heaven) had already failed so spectacularly? This, surely, indicates malevolence, not benevolence. Of course, we could posit sheer incompetence, but would (could) incompetence explain the fact that Yhwh then permitted the disease (in the guise of Lucifer) to roam freely through the second creation? Perhaps, but given the claim that Yhwh is all-aware, a rational person, I believe, would be hard-pressed trying to argue such a line. This being so, then it appears believers in the Creator have, for any number of reasons, miss-characterised Yhwh, wrongly attributing “goodness” to him, where wickedness (cold, calculating wickedness) is, demonstrably, more likely than the alternative thesis.

      How can you, Justin, explain the second creation (a conscious, deliberate act) in light of the total and complete failure of the first?

      But of course, a similar conundrum arises regardless of whether or not there were two acts of creation, or just the one. Yhwh, an aseitic being, complete and perfect (as the claim goes), destroyed what had been perfect by separating all created things from himself. Now, the Christian narrative claims separation from Yhwh is the greatest of all punishments, and blames the very existence of this punishment on man (although we both know Lucifer fell first, so the narrative is already fundamentally flawed). Self-evidently, this claim that man caused the fall is nonsense on stilts. Yhwh, not Lucifer or man, caused the separation. Yhwh (the uncaused first cause) is responsible. He broke what was unbroken. When compared to the claim of what Yhwh is, and the acts detailed, that is what the narrative actually logically demonstrates… and this spotlights the comprehensive failure of the Christian narrative.

      Can you address this in a coherent manner without wrapping yourself up in sophistry?

      Like

  18. Pingback: God looks a lot like no God | Allallt in discussion

  19. You’re concerns, questions, and complaints resonate with many Christians, like myself. I’ve asked many times, “Why do it that way God?” The only problem I see with your article it doesn’t address the issue of the resurrection of Jesus.

    IF that occurred, if a man 2000 years ago died and rose again, then He must be dealt with. I can reconcile all my concerns and questions (even my complaints) laid in the empty tomb of the risen Son of God.

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      • Actually, the evidence is far better than that for Jesus. We know, after all, who authored the account of Puhua’s resurrection. Can you tell me who the authors of the gospels were? And did you know the earliest gospel, Mark, didn’t originally include the resurrection? That part was added about 150-200 years later.

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      • There is no evidence the early church believed (no other names were attached to the Gospels, except Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) any other possible authors except what are attached to them today. Do you know Paul talks about a Creed,some experts place within 5 years (though I concede it is easier to prove about 15-20 years is likely) of Christ’s resurrection-and Paul’s letters are the most attested to ancient documents that declare the resurrection of Jesus?

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      • Paul never met Jesus. And you should perhaps learn a little about the history of the gospels. The “names” were attached in the 4th Century CE. The authors are anonymous. With all due respect, this is common knowledge, Tony.

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      • Paul said he did…and talked with Peter, James, and John. Read Ehrman (leading Biblical Scholar of NT -and agnostic/atheist) and a very poor argument.

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      • Not knowing who he was…seems to indicate the veracity of the claim. Having investigated a little, Linji wrote about him. The only copy we have of Linji’s writings is from around 1120 (400-500 years after Puhua). Buddhist scholars put little credibility to any other writing, and besides Puhua’s resurrection entails a ringing bell-hardly equal to the claims of the early Christians.

        That’s why it’s important to investigate the evidence for any claim, before making a judgement.

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    • What evidence is “weak”? Could you be more specific, please?

      I’d say the evidence is equal to, if not better, than that for Jesus. Puhua died, was resurrected, there were witnesses, and the story is recounted by a known author. Now consider that the earliest gospel (70 CE, at the very, very earliest), Mark, doesn’t even include a resurrection, which I think you’d have to admit is a stunningly odd thing to leave out of the story.

      Interestingly though, the original ending of Mark (the true un-forged ending) does however fit the Qur’an perfectly. Muslims, of course, don’t believe Jesus died on the cross, but was taken down, placed in a tomb unconscious, then resuscitated before leaving for the East. There is an actual burial site, a grave, for Jesus in the Roza Bal shrine in Srinagar, northern India, you know.

      Resuscitation is far more believable than resurrection, and we have a secondary source confirming exactly this… Not to mention an actual grave.

      So, Tony, why should I doubt the Qur’an? Unlike the bible, it’s been copied word-for-word, in the same living language, since first dictated. It contains no interpolations, no translations from dead languages, no additions, no editing, no forgeries, and the Qur’an says it is absolutely true right in the first lines of the book.

      “This Book is not to be doubted (Qur’an 2:1)

      Regardless, this has nothing to do with the post and the failure of the Christian narrative. Have you anything you’d like to say on the content of the post?

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      • You can put your faith in Puhua’s story, millions of not billion have in Christ’s (and this is neither a claim of it being valid or a Pachal Wager) so I would also ask you if you would now put your faith in the Gospel, as Paul said: “Jesus died for our sins…was buried and rose again…all according to the scriptures.” This will grant you eternal life.

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      • You didn’t answer my question: what evidence is “weak”?

        You also failed to address the fact that the earliest gospel didn’t even include the resurrection.

        But OK, so you have nothing to say about the actual post.

        Thanks for commenting, anyway.

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      • The evidence for Puhua is weak (as to his resurrection). Actually the ending of Mark, the ‘undisputed’ portion (ending at 16:8), is most definitely claiming a resurrected Jesus.

        Sorry but 1cor 15, as well as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as well as James and Paul’s transformation and numerous other evidences are only answered by a resurrected Jesus of Nazareth. (Oh and I think there is good evidence that the ending of Mark we now have is a true record).

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      • I’m sorry, but you haven’t said what, exactly, is “weak,” Tony.

        What is weak?

        And no, the actual (un-forged) ending of Mark simply ends with an empty tomb.

        Period.

        There is no mention, or even allusion, to a resurrection. The tomb is simply empty, and this matches the Muslim account of a resuscitated Jesus, as well as the grave of Jesus in India.

        And simply by the fact that the long ending is a 3rd or 4th Century CE forgery, merely indicates that we are dealing with fiction here.

        The Gospel of Barnabas supports this.

        Josephus even supports this as he recounts in the Jewish Wars instances of people being taken down from crucifixion alive.

        No such doubts (or subterfuge) seem to appear in the Puhua account.

        But again, do you have anything to actually say about the content of the post?

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      • I’m amazed at the ‘proof’ your presuppositions lead you to believe. I am conceding ‘your’ Mark ending, but it doesn’t argue against a risen Christ. There are really good explanations for the addition of ch. 16 (one being the copyist thought it lacking-lol). But you ignore Matthew’s account, Luke’s and John’s. Let alone Paul’s clear teaching of seeing the risen Jesus and the earliest Christian Creed that taught the same.

        Your ignorance (not A slanderous accusation) of Biblical literature is revealed when you trot out the Gospel of Barnabus, a Medieval forgery from possible the 1600’s or a few decades before that.

        The ‘resuscitation hypothesis ‘ seems the weakest explanation of Jesus’ rising. A bloody, tortured, and impaled (and not to mention crucified).

        Muslims believe Jesus didn’t die. Check Bart Ehrman for a thorough dismantling of that case.

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      • Yes, I know Barnabas has some doubts around it, but so too the gospels. That’s the point. You still can’t tell me who authored the books.

        “The ‘resuscitation hypothesis ‘ seems the weakest explanation of Jesus’ rising.”

        Nonsense. His legs weren’t broken. And you’re suggesting full body reanimation is more plausible? LOL!

        And of course, we have evidence in Josephus of people not dying on the cross, and being taken down.

        Yes, I know Muslims don’t believe Jesus died. That’s what I’ve been telling you, Tony.

        Now, do you have anything constructive to say about the actual post, or are you just happy talking about something completely unrelated?

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      • And you still haven’t told me what you think is “weak” in the account of Puhua’s resurrection.

        You haven’t addressed why the first account fo jesus’death doesn’t include the resurrection.

        You haven’t addressed Jesus’ grave being in India.

        And, you haven’t addressed the Muslim claim made in a book that specifically says it “should not be doubted

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      • Hi Tony

        Curious, why don’t you have a comments section on your blog?

        I guess I’ll just respond here.

        Now, to be perfectly frank, I have no idea whatsoever as to what you were even attempting. You didn’t address the question put to you, but instead completely misrepresented me and proceeded to address a pantomime you created.

        Any particular reason for this?

        To your points.

        1st Puhua who?

        Who cares? It doesn’t matter if it was Bill Jones in 13 Orion Street who was resurrected. I was simply asking you if you believed he was resurrected.

        2nd Linji’s account is more about him than Puhua

        Again, who cares? This has nothing at all to do with the question put to you.

        3rd Puhua never claims to be God (or a god)

        Who cares? That doesn’t matter to the resurrection claim.

        4th Puhua’s ‘resurrection’ is not like Jesus’

        Again, that doesn’t matter in the slightest to the actual claim. Indeed, this line of argument is something you’ve simply invented.

        ”For our atheist friend to claim that Puhua’s and Jesus’ resurrections were similar is stretching it, at the least.”

        I never once said they were similar, so this is a straw man… Your pantomime.

        I merely asked if you believed Puhua was resurrected. Nothing more, nothing less.

        Misrepresenting people, Tony, is not good form.

        “I’m not at all convinced that Puhua rose from the dead”

        Great! How about you now address the question actually put to you, Tony?

        What, Tony, do you think is “weak” in the account of Puhua’s resurrection?

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      • I’m not sure if there is animosity in your response-it seems as such. I also did not imply in anyway you or your blog.

        Also, dang website is supposed to have comments available, so…thanks for pointing it out. Was wondering all my ‘fans’ were…lol

        Please let me be clear, my intentions are not confrontational. I found your site, by God’s providence (you knew I’d go there), I believe. I only spread a message I believe is VITAL to all people’s eternity.

        Wishing only the best for you.

        Like

      • And that has absolutely nothing at all to do with what i asked.

        Did I ever even remotely imply they were similar, and we should look at that?

        No, you just invented a straw man argument.

        Of course, Puhua is not the only resurrection story, rather just one example. We also have Doctor Who, Kenny, Dracula, Krishna, Baal, Asclepius, Ganesha, Dionysus, Odin, Quetzalcoatl, Michael Myers,
        Lemminkainen, Osiris, Spock, Goku, Jason Voorhees, Melqart, Tammuz, Eshmun, Attis, Achilles, Harry Potter…

        Curious, do you have problems with Krishna’s resurrection, or Achilles resurrection? After being killed he was, of course, taken full bodily from his funeral pyre by his divine mother.

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      • You are seriously using Kenny?

        At least Puhua is a historic account.

        I’m not sure why you asked me if I believe he rose (Puhua) or that matter the others in your list if not to ask do I believe the evidence for them…which is no, except Jesus…it’s the only account that has any plausibility, solid historical evidence, and explanatory scope to the Jesus story.

        Like

      • Better yet … you give ME “one historical record” that PROVES he rose, which, BTW, does not include the bible since it is not an historical record (Rather, it is a collection of writings that includes myths, legends, and stories that circulated among the early cultures of the Canaanites, Sumerians, Phoenicians, Babylonians, and Egyptians.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll exclude the Bible (which is a collection of writings by first century people) if you exclude any writing by a non-Christians

        Like

      • You know and I know there are no “historical records” beyond the bible (i.e., secular writings) related to Jesus’ resurrection. So your belief in same is totally based on your holy book and what you have been taught.

        When looking at the big picture, John’s several examples of other “resurrections” hold as much merit/truth as your belief/faith in the Christian teaching of Jesus’ return to life. To try and prove otherwise is an exercise in futility.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There is as much historical proof that Kenny, Krishna, or Achilles were resurrected as there is for Jesus. You can’t even tell me who the authors of the gospels were. I can tell you who wrote about Kenny. I can give you a physical description of Achilles. Can you tell me what Jesus looked like?

        Hate to burst your bubble there, Tony.

        But that is why i asked you to explain your statement concerning the “weakness” of the Puhua tale.

        So far, you haven’t answered it.

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      • I’m sorry-Roman/Greek literature doesn’t work like that. We have good reason to believe they are who’s names are attached to them. Early church sources, 2nd/3rd Century, only attach who is attached. No other names are used. None. It seems a non-issue what Jesus looked like whether he rose or not…but I’m more concerned if you are denying what your heart knows to be true; Christ died for you sins, was buried, and rose again…that is what matters.

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      • No Tony, we have no reason whatsoever to even remotely think the gospels were written by Matthew, Mark and Luke. Nowhere in the gospels is it claimed they were penned by an eyewitness. If they were, don’t you think Paul might have mentioned them? He didn’t, because they didn’t exist when he wrote the epistles. Ignatius of Antioch (98 CE) does not even mention the gospels. As it is, the first mention of the existence of the gospels is 150 CE, by Justin Martyr, but the first mention of the names is not until 180 CE, by Irenaeus. No scholar believes what you do, so I have no idea where this pantomime of yours comes from. I can only suggest you purchase The New Oxford Annotated Bible and read it, carefully.

        So, are you going to tell me what you find “weak” in the evidence for Puhua’s tale?

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      • 1 Tim 5:18 which says: “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while it treads out the grain’ and ‘the laborer deserves his wages.’” While the first quote comes from Deut 25:4, the latter quote is an exact match with Luke 10:7. Then the 1 Cor 11 passage,starting about verse 23, Paul gives an account of the ‘Last Supper’ that most closely resembles Luke’s account.

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      • Firstly, Luke (80 – 100 CE) was written after the epistles (60 -65 CE).

        Second, 1 Timothy is not attributed to Paul.

        Nan knows far more about this stuff than me, so if she wants to take you up on this then she’s more than welcome.

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      • Weird -Paul would quote Luke before its writing (remember Paul died in the late 60’s). 1Tim is more disputed than 1Cor but only slightly…and of course if it was…well the later dates are off. 80CE is the latest I’ll concede, as Ehrman believes, but I think the 50’s are much more likely, as Paul wrote 1Cor in the mid 50’s.

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      • Who quoted who, Tony?

        No Tony, scholars do not attribute 1 Timothy to Paul. This has been the consensus for a very, very long time.

        So, are you going to tell me what you find “weak” in the evidence for Puhua’s resurrection?

        That was your claim, remember… Care to actually put some meat behind it?

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      • Weak; by definition is less than strong. So if we look at all the evidence for Puhua’s ‘resurrection’, even taking Linji’s account on face value -no one saw Puhua! Weak

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      • They heard his bell. The whole town heard his bell in the sky, receding.

        Did any credible witnesses see Jesus? No. And the three accounts of Jesus’ time after death (written not by witnesses, but rather anonymous scribes two to three generations later) vary wildly, so we can hardly accept those as credible. The stories couldn’t even get the places and people he “visited” correct…. Not to mention the oldest gospel, Mark, didn’t even originally include the resurrection or return to earth.

        That being said, a credible witness, the yogi Yogananda, saw the guru Yukteswar after he died and was resurrected in 1936.

        “Waves of rapture engulfed me as I beheld the flesh and blood form of Sri Yukteswar!”

        Read it for yourself:

        https://www.crystalclarity.com/yogananda/chap43.php

        Does that make Yukteswar’s resurrection story stronger than Jesus’?

        Indeed, Yogananda saw Krishna a week before and spoke to him… So we have a contemporary witness to Krishna’s resurrection.

        Does this make Krishna’s resurrection story “stronger” than Jesus’?

        And what about Achilles? His devine mother took him from his funeral pyre, and the Achaeans at Leuce all saw him and celebrated.

        Does this make Achille’s resurrection story “stronger” than Jesus’?

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      • Your prejudices are revealing, as you see only contradictions where there is credible witness accounts.

        Mark’s account could very well have ended as it did…precisely because it is even earlier than many realize. Why would Mark need to explain about the resurrected Jesus, it was fresh in the readers minds (having happened less than a decade before. Luke very clearly states he spoke to eye-witnesses, and we know from the book of Acts he was a very meticulous historian (a 1984 discovery proves Luke’s account in Acts19 of Ephesian’s life to be accurate). I’m sorry you are jaded by your skepticism. But, let me grant for the sake of argument…yes Yukteswar was resurrected…then what? And yes, the Townspeople heard Puhua’s bell…then what? I’ll even grant Achilles’ resurrection (one of my favorite Demi-gods anyways)…then what?

        But I’d ask the same of Jesus, if He was resurrected…He was who He said…and we must be clear on that. Lunatic, liar, legend or Lord…no other options.

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      • ”Why would Mark need to explain about the resurrected Jesus”

        So, you don’t think mentioning the reanimation of thoroughly dead person who then walked around and met and spoke and ate with people, chatting, warranted a mention?

        You don’t think the greatest proof there could be for the divinity of Jesus deserved a word, a line, a sentence, a paragraph even?

        That’s interesting.

        Curious, then, as to why some later Christian (100 or so years later) saw fit to deceptively add the whole event, as if they were tremendously embarrassed by its rather odd absence.

        ”it was fresh in the readers minds”

        Two generations after the event… for readers of Greek, in northern Syria and Turkey?

        ”yes Yukteswar was resurrected…then what?”

        You tell me, Tony. You’re the one trying to persuade me that resurrection is something special.

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      • No-no-no, John. I submit to your much wider range of knowledge. I’m most definitely not a “bible scholar!” There’s just certain remarks made by believers that set me off because it’s so indicative of their indoctrination.

        Liked by 2 people

  20. Oops … lost my comment on another post (love all the Hadjj tents!).

    John—you don’t seem to have visited my new blog (replaces ‘Forestall’ — I try to keep it brief). You are very welcome:

    https://cassandric.wordpress.com

    —and are you ever going active again? Or worse, have I missed a few?

    Like

  21. Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. Therbe is no fee; I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our community and I enjoyed reading your work. If “OK” please let me know via email.

    Autumn
    AutumnCote@WriterBeat.com

    Like

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