• About TWIM


    The Warfare Is Mental (TWIM) reflects the mental warfare of an author, screenwriter, publisher and member of the Writer's Guild of America. Family, friends, health, humor, art, music, science, faith, fun and knowledge are some of the things that are important to me.



    TWIM is the first and only theist blog listed on the Atheist Blogroll, which currently contains over 1,000 blogs. It goes without saying that I don't endorse hardly any of the views of any of them. Contact Mojoey for more information.



    Ironically, TWIM won an award for "Best Atheist / Skeptic Site" from this site. Much obliged.



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    You and your commenters are a feast of thinking — great stuff.

    -C.L. Dyck
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I have no need to engage with racists, so will ignore cl’s further diatribes.

    -faithlessgod,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl resists following through on a thought even to provide a solid opposing position, and thus stifles many conversations. It’s a shame since it seems like cl has some brain power that could be applied to the topics at hand.

    -Hermes,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [faithlessgod and Hermes] fit my definition of trolling. I didn’t take any of those attacks against you seriously, and quickly categorized them as trolls.

    -JS Allen,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] is, as many have noticed, a master of this warfare. I’ve been following him for quite some time and he’s one of the most effective Christian trolls out there. No one can completely destroy a conversation as effectively as he does, and with such masterful grace and subtly that he rarely gets banned. This isn’t a blunt-force “U R Hitler!” troll, this is the Yoda of trolling.

    -Eneasz,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This seems to imply that cl is, at least in part, disingenuous in terms of how he responds/what he claims. Is this most likely true, supported by evidence, or merely a subjective claim?

    -al friedlander,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...I wanted to get a message to you outside of the context of specific discussions on CSA. You make good, insightful contributions to that site, and since I often agree with you I'm glad there is someone else there defending my positions better than I sometimes can. However I don't think anything of value would be lost if you stopped engaging in personal combat with juvenile snipers.

    -Zeb,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thank you for your wonderful response - so reasoned in the race of [Waldvogel's] blustering.

    -Annie Laurie Gaylor
     Freedom From Religion Foundation
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thanks for a great Op-Ed.

    -Marianne Ratcliff
     VC Star
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...as atheists we need to make sure that someone like cl and any Christian readers of [An Apostate's Chapel] don’t come away with the perception that the atheists caved in or were incapable of responding. I’m sure that a lot of Christians who find cl incomprehensible at times and don’t even bother reading him themselves will come away with an assumption that cl is that sort of rare intellectual theist who can prove that gods exist. And that’s how those inane rumors about the feared xian intellectuals start…

    -bbk
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are in so over your head here, you are embarrassing yourself...
    I am well versed in many aspects of evolution biology, through my academic background, and my professional life. Unless your academic degrees and background match mine, cease and desist. Return to philosophy and rhetoric, or whatever it is you perceive your strengths to be. They are definitely not science, even at the high school level.

    -R.C. Moore
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You're doing a fine job.

    -Prof. Larry Moran
     Dept. of Biochemistry
     University of Toronto
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Phyletic change and vicariance (or, drift and selection versus population isolation), as cl points out, are much better ways of describing what are unfortunately more commonly known as micro- and macro- evolution, respectively.

    -Dan
     Biology postdoc
     Univ. of Cyprus
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl says, “The minute you call yourself a Christian or an Atheist or whatever the heck else, you automatically get painted by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted.” cl’s point couldn’t be more on. As cl points out there is an important reason for not claiming any real religious (or lack thereof) belief. It puts logical constraints on one's arguments due directly to the bias of the individual that is translating the English to mind ideas of what it means to be religious.

    -Bobaloo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Just who in the bloody hell do you think you are, you Christian piece of garbage, to come here barking out orders? You're an arrogant, condescending piece of shit. You seem to think you're an intellectual of sorts, when all you are is a Christian who's read a few books. John, everyone, this really is the limit. BR, I'm more than a little annoyed that you continue to engage him. I'm out of here. I have better things to do than to waste my time with these cretins.

    -Cipher
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    How old are you CL? I'd guess you have not yet experienced much life. I'd say you were under the age of 21, too young to be here. I don't give a damn what you think of me or my deconversion at all. You're too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. They are leading people away from you [sic] faith. I'm seriously considering banning you cl, as I've heard you were banned on other sites. You are much too ignorant for us to have a reasonable discussion.

    -John Loftus
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I admired the way you handled yourself in the discussion on John's blog. I'm not patient enough to keep my sarcasm in check with some of them blokes, but appreciate those who are.

    -David Marshall
     re: Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl, I have to say, while I fundamentally disagree with you, you are an individual which I highly respect. I think your responses are always well thought out and your insights always well thought out and pertinently derived.
    [Y]ou have made me a stronger atheist in my regards to critical thinking and debating. I really can’t wait to hear more from you. Hell, I’d even buy you a drink, good sir. Cheers!

    -Parker
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Bottom line? Sometimes I think he's right about certain arguments, and I don't have a problem admitting that. Other times, however, I think he's wrong, and I've called him on that. But I have found he can be pretty reasonable if you (1) don't overstate your case, (2) make concessions when you have, and (3) insist he do the same.

    -Lifeguard
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I like it when [cl] makes me stop, think and question if I am making unfounded assertions or if I am being sloppy. What has been annoying me about cl of late is that he is being excruciatingly anal...

    -seantheblogonaut
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I really can't thank you enough for catching me on my error in rhetoric. I always love a good debate! And I always enjoy your posts, as well! Keep up the great writing and the excellent eye for detail!

    -BZ
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You make me smarter...

    -Mike G.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ..thank you, cl. I discovered your blog on a random web search and saw it as an oasis amidst a vast desert of seemingly intractable theist-atheist debate.

    -Sung Jun
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    It's good to be able to discuss with people who are open and respectful, and know that disagreement does not mean disrespect... You are to be congratulated, not only for your patience, but also your ability to hold an ever-growing debate together with an impressive degree of structure.

    -Ritchie
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    My tone is derogatory... [cl is] ignorant and credulous and deserves to be mocked... In the time he's been here, he's shown a consistent pattern of antagonizing everyone he comes in contact with, monopolizing threads, derailing discussions with perpetual complaints, quibbles and demands for attention, and generally making arguments that display a lack of good faith and responsiveness... it's become intolerable. I'm not banning him, but I'm putting in place some restrictions on how often he can comment.

    -Ebonmuse
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This is no defense of the annoying cl, but what a self-righteous, prissy atheist you turned out to be, Ebonmuse. I'm disappointed in you, stealing a strategem from the theists.

    -The Exterminator
     to Ebonmuse
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I certainly didn't get any bad impression about cl, and I can't relate his comments with any of the things (Ebonmuse) said above. I actually thought it was quite interesting to have him around.

    -Juan Felipe
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Please continue to allow
    cl to post his views and make it clear that he is still welcome. And let me be clear, cl is not a lunatic.

    -Curtis
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    With one exception, you are the most coherent and intelligent theist I've seen on this site...

    -Steve Bowen
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I'm rooting for cl. I hope he perpetually manages to skirt the rules enough to do his damage, forcing rule revision after rule revision, ad nauseum. Awesome! Let's watch as Ebon, ever more frustrated, continues to struggle to figure out how to keep his precious private blog neat and tidy as cl keeps messing up his papers while one by one, readers leave due to an every increasing administrative presence. Outstanding! Well I won't go. The thought of this sounds like the most entertaining thing that probably would have ever happened on Daylight Atheism. Hot damn!

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Your visit has been something of a reality check to me. It seems that when you present rational arguments and criticisms, many commenters feel territory slipping and then work up vaporous or leaky responses. I also want to remark that your presence here has considerably moved me to try being a more careful and understanding debater...

    -Brad
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I do have a lot of respect for you too. You seem to be a very intelligent and thoughtful individual with a knack for getting to the bottom of a problem, cutting through all the bullshit rhetoric on the way down. The fact that many other atheists seem to unreasonably despise you bothers me a lot, because I think that maybe they aren’t acting in good faith.

    -Peter Hurford
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am not going to waste any more time parsing your comments to decide if they've crossed the line or not... So I banned you.

    -Greta Christina
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Be rude... cl invites rudeness. Would you want an incontinent little puppy coming into your house?

    -(((Billy))) the Atheist
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Note to all my regular readers: Since An Apostate’s Chapel is a free-speech zone, I don’t censor conversations.
    As it appears that cl is a troll, please note that I will not be responding to him any longer. I ask that you refrain from doing so, as well. Please don’t feed the troll!

    -The Chaplain
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    …I can’t reconcile being a "freethinker" with banning speech. [cl's] comments are not offensive in the normal understanding of that term, and he poses absolutely no threat except perhaps to some imagined decorum. Why can’t atheists lighten up, for no-Christ’s sake?

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Is it going to distract from my meal when crazy uncle cl starts blathering out nonsense, pick his ears with a carrot or start taking his pants off? No. In fact, it might actually heighten the experience in some amusing way. So no, I don't see cl's work as damage.

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am beginning to suspect that you are a troll cl. Albeit an evolved troll, but a troll nonetheless. Perhaps we should all stop feeding the troll?

    -GaySolomon
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl is] is either a sophist or an incompetent when it comes to the english language... (sic)

    -ThatOtherGuy
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I’d say cl is pretty sharp... it may be tempting at times to think that “the other guy” is arguing out of some personal character flaw rather than a sincere desire to acknowledge the truth, I still think it’s better to debate respectfully... It is disrespectful to make unsupported accusations against people, e.g. by suggesting that their views are caused by an intrinsically corrupt and immoral nature.

    -Deacon Duncan, 3-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] cannot refute my facts, so he needs must find (sic) some scapegoat in order to claim that he has confronted the enemy and proven them wrong... cl, sadly, has proven himself to be the sort of guest who comes into your living room and sneaks behind your couch to take a crap on the floor, just so he can tell all your neighbors how bad your house smells and what an unsanitary housekeeper you are... an interesting case study in the negative effects a Christian worldview has on a reasonably intellectual mind.

    -Deacon Duncan, 6-17-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I strongly discourage discussion of the character, abilities, motives, or personal ancestry of individual commenters, as tempting as such comments may be at times. I discourage the posting of comments that make frequent use of the pronoun “you,” as in “you always…” or “you never…” or “you are just so…”, when directed at a specific individual.

    -Deacon Duncan, 4-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I won’t be publishing your most recent comment because it’s a return to the same sort of schtick you’ve pulled here before: re-writing other people’s arguments to make yourself look misunderstood and/or unfairly accused, taking “polyvalent” positions so that when people address your points you can claim to have said something else, distorting other people’s arguments, trolling for negative reactions, and so on.

    -Deacon Duncan, 10-8-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [E]gomaniacal troll.
    You win... You’re a disingenuous sophist through and through, cl. And a friggin’ narcissist to boot! Since I’ve thoroughly and purposefully broken the Deacon’s rules of engagement, I shall consider my right to post henceforth annulled, and move on - dramatic pause, lights out.

    -jim
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He either thinks in a very weird way or he's quite the con artist.

    -mikespeir
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I will gladly admit that I have a boner for cl. Maybe some day I’ll even earn a place of honor on cl’s Blog of Infamy.

    -Eneasz
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Long time reader first time poster... I like reading what you
    have to say over at Daylight Atheism so I figured I'd pop in here.

    -Pine
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He's just a jerk
    that likes to argue.

    -KShep
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You’re not a reasonable thinker in my book. You’re simply an arguer, for better or worse. I’m Michael Palin, you’re John Cleese. You’re just a disputation-ist, bringing everything into question...

    -jim
     Reason vs. Apologetics
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Motherfucker, this is an interesting blog... Quite the group of commenters.

    -John Evo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are very articulate, and I can only assume that it's a result of high intelligence; an intelligence that's interested in, and can understand, healthy debate. However, at every turn, that's not what I or others seem to get.

    -ex machina
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a troll, a liar, and a useless sack of shit. Not only that, but you're still wrong even after moving the goal posts and trying to re-write history. So, you can stop cyber stalking me now and trying to provoke me. I know what you are doing, and you are doing it so that you can whine about how I'm being irrational and mean to you and stroke your pathetic martyr complex. You're a pathetic attention whore and I've already given you too much attention. So, back the fuck off, stop following me around the intarwebs and trying to provoke me, and fuck off.

    -OMGF
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I would just like to say that, OMGF, having read the debate as a neutral observer, some of the things cl says about your style of argument are true, IMO. It is quite hasty, which means you occasionally haven't got the central point cl is trying to make...

    -John D.
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...this is a difficult question that deserves more than a kneejerk reaction, not to imply that you're kneejerking. You're the least kneejerking person I've met.

    -Quixote
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    If you’re here playing devil’s advocate, then, hey, you do a great job at it, it’s a service, keep us sharp... You’re a smart guy, but those are exactly the ones who give the worst headaches!

    -Lifeguard
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a waste of time, cl. A big fat black hole of bullshit sucking in everyone who comes into contact with you.

    -Spanish Inquisitor
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    As for all that harsh invective that's come your way, umm... I gotta say, I've seen some of the invective, but I haven't seen the behavior on your part that called for it. Maybe I've just not seen enough? I don't know... from what I've read, I can tell that you're a smart person, and whether you deserved any of that treatment or not is quite frankly immaterial to me; I just want to deal with the smart person at the eye of that storm.

    -D
     She Who Chatters
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I now think that you’re an atheist, just having fun at other atheists’ expense. If that’s the case, kudos.

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

The POE Drama Continues: Can It Get More Naïve?

Along the lines of what we’ve been talking about, I’d like to highlight a selection from the blogosphere that I think is typical of the atheist position. To a commenter who challenged the Muehlhauserian use of emotional imagery to score rhetorical points in the POE, an atheist blogger who’s name is not worth repeating recently wrote,

The problem with your logic is that you fail to acknowledge the assumed premise. In this case, the assumed premise is that God is good. No. Better than good. He’s perfect. He is goodness exemplified. He is omni-benevolent. He is who all goodness tries to emulate. A good god insures that there is only goodness in the world. etc. etc. blather blather, etc. IOW, with a benevolent god there should be no evil.

LOL! The thing that really gets me is that this is perceived as “logic” and “rationalism” in atheist circles. Go team atheism! Let’s use those canned arguments! Seriously though, could one possibly construct a more simplistic approach to things? Talk about failing to acknowledge the assumed premise! It is this anti-theist blogger who fails to acknowledge the assumed premises in his own “argument.” Specifically, this:

A good god insures that there is only goodness in the world.

Why? Because this anti-theist blogger with an axe to grind says so? This is exactly what I mean when I recently wrote that all POE arguments I’ve seen reduce to an argument from incredulity, i.e., “I can’t fathom why God would allow such evil, therefore it’s more likely that my atheism is true.”

It saddens me to see so many people falling head-over-heels over incredulity. It really does.

 

38 Responses

  1. Good series of posts on POE.

    I also do not understand where the atheist gets the standard for “good” that he / she uses to criticize God. He / she must borrow from the Christian view of the world to even have a criticism. What right does the atheist have to invoke a universal standard of “good” that cannot be backed up within the atheist view of the world?

  2. J.K. Jones,

    “What right does the atheist have to invoke a universal standard of “good” that cannot be backed up within the atheist view of the world?”

    The atheist isn’t invoking anything. They just point out what they see to be an internal inconsistency within Christianity, and then the Christian usually responds with the free will defense or skeptical theism. At that point, the atheist usually abandons the evidential POE (God and evil are logically incompatible) and switches his approach to a probabilistic one (God and evil are logically compatible, but the existence of evil makes His existence unlikely).

    I usually never bring up the POE anymore because I don’t feel like having an unproductive conversation. What am I to say to “God has a reason that we don’t know of?” The exchange hits an immediate dead end.

  3. If I might chime in here, I think there are at least two breeds of atheist in this regard: the genuinely inquisitive, and those that I would describe as emotionally invested. I think the genuinely inquisitive atheist simply attempts to judge the Bible on it’s own merits. They reason something like, “Okay, if this supposedly good God exists, why is there all this evil and suffering in the world?” The second breed goes a step further and actually experiences genuine anger at God. These types metaphorically condemn God in their heart, whereas the genuinely inquisitive types react with a disconnect towards the whole thing. So, the point of all that was, some atheists *DO* invoke a standard of good with which they [metaphorically] condemn God and/or the Bible, and other atheists simply reference what they perceive as an internal inconsistency, as TE said above.

    TE,

    Howdy there.

    What am I to say to “God has a reason that we don’t know of?” The exchange hits an immediate dead end.

    Actually, for me, it dead ends in the preceding exchange, i.e., the one where the atheist reasons from incredulity to some variant of, “If God is good, there wouldn’t be this much evil.” Or if not that exchange, then the one where the atheist reasons from intuition to some variant of, “Atheism is more likely given observed evil / suffering.” To me, those are the real discussion-enders, the first one because it’s just incredulity, and the second because it’s just an intuition. If the atheist allows that for his or herself, then surely the theist ought to be allowed credulity and intuition of his or her own, right? Unless of course we want to get science involved.

  4. cl,

    Hey there. First of all, indeed we are being very general in saying things like “the atheist says…” or “the atheist argues…” I don’t think these statements are necessarily accurate indicators of what most atheists genuinely think.

    Actually, for me, it dead ends in the preceding exchange, i.e., the one where the atheist reasons from incredulity to some variant of, “If God is good, there wouldn’t be this much evil.” Or if not that exchange, then the one where the atheist reasons from intuition to some variant of, “Atheism is more likely given observed evil / suffering.” To me, those are the real discussion-enders, the first one because it’s just incredulity, and the second because it’s just an intuition.

    Well, when you present it like that, I would agree. But when an atheist makes those sort of points in such a simplistic fashion, you have to doubt his philosophical acumen and/or his history with the POE.

    However, I think an acknowledgment needs to be made by the theist in this case. In a probabilistic POE argument, the existence of evils that could be agreed to as “gratuitous” (e.g. birth defects, natural disasters) are simply not helping the case of Christianity. Even if God has an excellent reason for allowing such evils, that reason is 100% imperceptible to us foolish, temporal beings. That’s it. It doesn’t have to make atheism more likely, but I think at the very least, all should admit that it does not help the case of Christianity seem feasible. It doesn’t have to score points for atheism, but it shouldn’t be wiped away from Christianity’s blemishes, either.

    cl, I totally agree that the standard atheist objections usually aren’t very compelling, but I think the theist responses aren’t any more persuasive. I’m pretty open when it comes to the POE. I’m willing to listen to both sides opine on this issue. But it’s frustrating to me how theists ostensibly try to bar the topic from Earthly discussion.

  5. TE,

    I don’t think these statements are necessarily accurate indicators of what most atheists genuinely think.

    I do, because I have yet to meet an atheist who doesn’t factor one or both responses into their objection. They might frame their map with different words, but when you get down to the territory, it’s always the same. At least, that’s been my experience.

    Even if God has an excellent reason for allowing such evils, that reason is 100% imperceptible to us foolish, temporal beings.

    I’d have to disagree. I mean, if a mortal and far less than omniscient human being such as myself can perceive answers that make sense, how much more so could God? I’m not being dismissive, either. I’m serious. Who’s to say suffering isn’t justly compensated in the next life? Who’s to say that evil prevented is necessarily better than evil abolished? On and on and on. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with saying God ways are not our ways, the theist doesn’t even need to do that here.

    But it’s frustrating to me how theists ostensibly try to bar the topic from Earthly discussion.

    I’m not sure what you mean by that…

  6. If I might chime in here, I think there are at least two breeds of atheist in this regard: the genuinely inquisitive, and those that I would describe as emotionally invested. I think the genuinely inquisitive atheist simply attempts to judge the Bible on it’s own merits. They reason something like, “Okay, if this supposedly good God exists, why is there all this evil and suffering in the world?” The second breed goes a step further and actually experiences genuine anger at God. These types metaphorically condemn God in their heart, whereas the genuinely inquisitive types react with a disconnect towards the whole thing. So, the point of all that was, some atheists *DO* invoke a standard of good with which they [metaphorically] condemn God and/or the Bible, and other atheists simply reference what they perceive as an internal inconsistency, as TE said above.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that “the second breed” of atheist doesn’t get angry at God…
    And I know of many atheist’s that HATE it when Christians say that we are just “angry at God.” It makes us think you’re dumb and can’t understand a simple thing, we don’t believe in God, god, Zeus, Hades, etc…
    Do you hate Zeus? Is that why you’re not following him?
    Do you hate Allah? Is that why you’re not following him?

    I hate to use this canned response, but I’ve heard the whole “angry at God” argument more times that I care to admit. Do you REALLY believe that non-believers hate your god(s)?

  7. therealadaam,

    What you don’t seem to understand is that “the second breed” of atheist doesn’t get angry at God…

    Uh, what you don’t seem to understand is that there are atheists who *DO* get [metaphorically] mad at God, and if you are not one of them, then my comment didn’t apply to you.

    Do you REALLY believe that non-believers hate your god(s)?

    No. You’re getting all carried away over nothing. I was make a particular comment about a particular emotional reaction experienced by a particular strain of atheist, and you’ve taken that and blown it all out of proportion.

  8. cl,

    Who’s to say suffering isn’t justly compensated in the next life? Who’s to say that evil prevented is necessarily better than evil abolished?

    Obviously suffering won’t be compensated in the next life for everyone that has suffered; at least, not on your world view. I’m not trying to insult you, but not everyone believes in Jesus Christ and thus, not everyone is going to Heaven. However, everyone suffers. Even if everyone did go to Heaven, it doesn’t change the fact that the suffering could have been avoided.

    I don’t understand your second question. Abolishing evil and preventing evil are the same thing from a human perspective.

    To correct a prior mistake, I called the logical POE the evidential POE. My mistake; the evidential POE is the only one I think holds any weight.

    They might frame their map with different words, but when you get down to the territory, it’s always the same. At least, that’s been my experience.

    Have you ever read the syllogism for the evidential POE? There is no intuition claiming there should be less evil as a result and there is no incredulity. Here’s Paul Draper’s version:

    1. Gratuitous evils exist.
    2. The hypothesis of indifference, i.e., that if there are supernatural beings they are indifferent to gratuitous evils, is a better explanation for (1) than theism.
    3. Therefore, evidence prefers that no god, as commonly understood by theists, exists

  9. TE,

    Obviously suffering won’t be compensated in the next life for everyone that has suffered; at least, not on your world view. I’m not trying to insult you, but not everyone believes in Jesus Christ and thus, not everyone is going to Heaven.

    That doesn’t follow. Nothing in “suffering being compensated” mutually excludes “wrongdoing being judged.” Even more fundamental than that, though… the atheist needs to demonstrate why God’s scriptural attributes require that God disallow all evil [or some evil, if the atheist wishes to take that route].

    Even if everyone did go to Heaven, it doesn’t change the fact that the suffering could have been avoided.

    Sure, but then we’re right back to square one, which is you saying you think things would ultimately be “more good” if the suffering was avoided. To me, that seems like a pretty tough position to demonstrate, and if you look, I think you’ll notice it’s just a variant of, “I can’t see how things would be ultimately more good given the suffering we see, therefore it’s more likely God doesn’t exist.” Again, the incredulity seems to be smuggling itself in.

    Abolishing evil and preventing evil are the same thing from a human perspective.

    I disagree. To “abolish” is to do away with, which implies existence. To “prevent” is to disallow existence altogether.

    To correct a prior mistake, I called the logical POE the evidential POE. My mistake; the evidential POE is the only one I think holds any weight.

    What do you see as the relevant difference?

    There is no intuition claiming there should be less evil as a result and there is no incredulity.

    Are you kidding me? It’s smuggled into the opening premise. Draper makes the same argument as Peter Hurford, with “needless” being replaced by “gratuitous” (which are essentially synonymous). Calling the evil “gratuitous” implies that the evil is “more than it should be,” which is another way of saying there could be less.

    Then, consider Draper’s 2: “The hypothesis of indifference, i.e., that if there are supernatural beings they are indifferent to gratuitous evils, is a better explanation for (1) than theism.” Why? Because Draper says so? No offense intended, but that argument reflects the same naïveté that inspired this post!

  10. I don’t see any naïveté there. The Christian God supposedly intervenes, right? God is framed as the greatest conceivable being, no? If there could be a being greater than God, that would be God. If you really think that gratuitous evils are better explained by a personal God than an impartial one, and that gratuitous evils aren’t better explained by an impersonal one, I’m at a loss of words at how to change your thinking.

    For the record, I do believe a God of theism and evil are compatible; in fact, perhaps even gratuitous evil is compatible with a theistic God. Like I said, I’m not closed on this issue.

    What do you see as the relevant difference?

    The logical POE insists that God and evil are not compatible. The evidential POE concedes their possibility, but believes it lowers the chance of the existence of God. This is close to what I was saying earlier… the POE doesn’t need to score points for atheism, but it should not be wiped away as a blemish from Christianity. IOW, I don’t think the POE has been solved. Are there some good side steps and possibilities available in the mean time? Sure.

    I do think there could be less evil because there could be. I do not know if there should be, but I believe 100% that it would be possible. My completely fallible human intuition tells me like a reflex there should be if God exists, but yours doesn’t?

    That doesn’t follow. Nothing in “suffering being compensated” mutually excludes “wrongdoing being judged.” Even more fundamental than that, though… the atheist needs to demonstrate why God’s scriptural attributes require that God disallow all evil [or some evil, if the atheist wishes to take that route].

    Even though you are right in saying those two things aren’t mutually exclusive, I was just saying that on your world view, there is a lot of suffering that will never be compensated. At least, if I’m reading you correctly, that is.

    To my knowledge, there is nothing in the Bible that requires God to disallow evil of any sort. But if you want to start there, can we find any scriptural evidence to support the claim that God is good at all?

  11. But if you want to start there, can we find any scriptural evidence to support the claim that God is good at all?

    How about Psalm 100:5?
    http://scripturetext.com/psalms/100-5.htm

  12. cl

    Uh, what you don’t seem to understand is that there are atheists who *DO* get [metaphorically] mad at God, and if you are not one of them, then my comment didn’t apply to you.

    Okay, fair enough.

    No. You’re getting all carried away over nothing. I was make a particular comment about a particular emotional reaction experienced by a particular strain of atheist, and you’ve taken that and blown it all out of proportion.

    And you are correct, I did blow that out of proportion. My bad.

  13. It’s a tough subject to be sure.

    I think my answer to this objection would be as follows:
    For there to be the potential for growth, there must be the potential for suffering. I completely agree with atheists that there is “needless/gratuitous” suffering, in the sense that it doesn’t actually have to exist. But there can not logically be growth without there at least being the potential for suffering.

    One could lament the fact that we are allowed to suffer, or cherish the fact that we are allowed to grow.

  14. “I do, because I have yet to meet an atheist who doesn’t…. blah, blah, blah”.

    You were saying something about atheism and evidence?

  15. doubtingThomas

    It’s a tough subject to be sure.
    I think my answer to this objection would be as follows:
    For there to be the potential for growth, there must be the potential for suffering. I completely agree with atheists that there is “needless/gratuitous” suffering, in the sense that it doesn’t actually have to exist. But there can not logically be growth without there at least being the potential for suffering.
    One could lament the fact that we are allowed to suffer, or cherish the fact that we are allowed to grow.

    Why is it illogical for there to be growth without the possibility of suffering?
    And unless I’m mistaken, it’s not the suffering that grows character. It’s overcoming the challenge that creates character. Yes, suffering does bring significant challenges, but so does working, raising kids, education, etc

    Which leads to my next question, when you say suffering, do you mean pain? If so, do you mean physical or emotional pain?
    Do you mean evil? If so who/what defines evil?

  16. Rufus,

    Hello. That verse does explicitly state God is good, and I imagine there are other verses like that. However, of course the Bible is going to refer to God as good, merciful, loving, etc. because it is written in support of such a deity. Lots of atheists like to talk about barbaric things God commanded, required, or did; when I asked for scriptural evidence of God’s goodness and kindness, I was asking for maybe an anecdote where God does something touching and loving.

    cl,

    Is there any evil or suffering you consider gratuitous?

  17. TE,

    [W]hen I asked for scriptural evidence of God’s goodness and kindness, I was asking for maybe an anecdote where God does something touching and loving.

    Sorry, I misunderstood what you were look for. How about John 3:16?

  18. Thinking Emotions,

    I’m looking for a scripture that is evidence of God’s goodness and kindness, but I am having a hard time finding them in the Old Testament…
    The New Testament they are everywhere, but not so in the Old. Everything is conditional too, that I’ve seen. “Follow my laws and I’ll be good to you. Don’t and you’ll be punished.”
    I have not been able to find any actual accounts of God doing something good in the Old Testament. I figure this might have something to do with my bias.
    I’m not counting any laws as good that God did (even though I’m tempted to say that those laws were great for the times).
    Anyone else wanna do more research into this? I can’t find anything.

  19. thereakadaam,

    How about Gen 2:18-25?

  20. Rufus,
    Yes, creating humans was “touching and loving” but unless I’m mistaken (very likely), TE was looking for something different. The opposite of 2 Samuel 6:3-7…
    No offence, but the creation story where God ends up punishing the future of mankind, because of two people’s innocence/ignorance/disobedience, isn’t my idea of “touching and loving”
    But at the same time, IF mankind was created, then life IS a gift. Something we wouldn’t have had without direct divine intervention/creation.
    But the problem is that you can also see life as a gift from any angle.
    ‘We’re alive, that’s a gift’
    ‘We were created, that’s a gift’
    ‘What a gift we have in life, in lieu of the HIGHLY improbable statistics, we are alive’
    etc…

    In any case, let’s get back to finding some scriptural evidence of God preforming “touching and loving” acts.

  21. Ok, how about I Kings 3:5-15. God appears to Solomon offering to give him whatever he wants. Solomon asks for wisdom to rule and to know right from wrong. God gives this to Solomon and also gives him riches and glory. That sounds touching and loving to me. It is from the Old Testament. It is a gratuitous gift. Does it meet all the criteria being specified. This really is not a difficult task. We could go book by book through the Bible and find examples of God blessing people.

  22. Rufus,

    Thanks, I really appreciate you digging up a verse to satisfy my demands and/or to prove your point. :) You’re also right. This is an act that is both loving and touching. The reason I asked for such a verse is that a lot of these qualities atheists like to ascribe to God (e.g. omnipotence, omniscience, ubiquity, omni-benevolence) are assumed and unsubstantiated. I read elsewhere that cl has written a post about biblically backing up the 3-O God. I need to read it!

    If one is to believe God truly is good at all, let alone omni-benevolent, how do we reconcile his loving acts with acts that are seemingly cruel? I refer to Genesis 19:24 where God kills everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah. Verses like these seem to be categorical evidence of God’s cruelty.

    I can immediately perceive three ways the Christian could get out of this (mind you, this is not exhaustive):

    1. God’s ways are not man’s ways; what we think is cruel is not actually cruel on His part.
    2. That Bible verse is not literal, taken out of context, etc.
    3. We cannot judge God because he is perfect and we are sinful.

    cl, I know you said there is no mutually exclusionary relationship between compensation for suffering and wrongdoing being judged. I think that’s true. However, I don’t see judging in this case as much as I see God blatantly destroying two cities. I also think there is a contradiction between loving acts and destructive acts. Not to mention, perhaps you could weasel the destruction of the two cities under the scope of judgment, but turning someone into a pillar of salt is simply cruel and unusual punishment (yes, I am aware she defied the orders of the angels).

  23. Lots of good conversation and questions here. Thanks, everybody, for your input. For now, I’d like to make a general point about “research” using something therealadaam said as a springboard, though, I’m actually speaking to everybody, and not singling therealadaam out:

    Anyone else wanna do more research into this? I can’t find anything.

    I couldn’t help but wonder what was meant by “research” there. What do you mean when you use the word? By “research” do we simply mean typing some string like “God’s love Old Testament” into Google and briefly perusing the results? In particular, the “I can’t find anything” remark led me to that question. While I can’t speak for anybody else here, I can say I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover at least once, maybe even two or three times if you were to add up all the intermittent sessions. I think people who have dedicated this level of committment to the source material have an advantage here. I guess what I’m saying is this: atheists and theists alike should be wary of false confidence. Perfunctory keyword searches might be a good place to start, but there can be no substitute for a thorough command of the source material, and that applies to any human endeavor where learning and critical thinking are to take place.

    therealadaam,

    I hope you don’t get the feeling that I’m harping on you, or trying to imply that you don’t know the Bible, or anything else that could possibly be construed as negative or accusatory. I have no idea how much of the Bible you’ve read. I simply want to encourage people towards strong command of source material, and discourage people against false confidence based on perfunctory research. Again, not saying that’s you.

    That any given Google search didn’t return the results we’re looking for doesn’t necessarily constitute a reason to think those results don’t exist.

  24. To All,

    While I realize this can be tough to judge, and my scale is certainly arbitrary and could be improved on, how would you rate your familiarity with the Bible in your adult life?

    1) at least one chapter of the Bible.

    2) at least one full book of the Bible [i.e. all of Genesis, all of Matthew, etc.]

    3) 5-10 books.

    4) 10-20 books

    5) the entire New Testament or equivalent [27 books].

    6) the entire Old Testament or equivalent [39 books].

    7) 40-50 books

    8) 50-60 books

    9) the entire Bible cover-to-cover once [66 books].

    10) I have read the entire Bible cover-to-cover more than once, and I make use of concordances, Greek / Hebrew lexicon, apocryphal texts, etc.

    I’ll go first: I’m at 10.

  25. I’m about a 7. Climbing gradually to 8.

  26. Rufus,

    Ok, how about I Kings 3:5-15. God appears to Solomon offering to give him whatever he wants. Solomon asks for wisdom to rule and to know right from wrong. God gives this to Solomon and also gives him riches and glory. That sounds touching and loving to me. It is from the Old Testament. It is a gratuitous gift. Does it meet all the criteria being specified. This really is not a difficult task. We could go book by book through the Bible and find examples of God blessing people.

    Sorry if I was a bit harsh before. And yes, both of your examples are blessings. But those blessings are conditional, are they not?
    For the sake of this argument, both are great examples. But I’m interested in finding Old Testament passage(s) that show God preforming unconditional acts of love.
    The only reason is because the New Testament has unconditional acts of love everywhere, yet (in my limited knowledge) I have not seen many unconditional acts of love in the Old Testament.

    cl,

    I hope you don’t get the feeling that I’m harping on you, or trying to imply that you don’t know the Bible, or anything else that could possibly be construed as negative or accusatory. I have no idea how much of the Bible you’ve read. I simply want to encourage people towards strong command of source material, and discourage people against false confidence based on perfunctory research. Again, not saying that’s you.
    That any given Google search didn’t return the results we’re looking for doesn’t necessarily constitute a reason to think those results don’t exist.

    No worries, I agree. Just googleing “God good” or such does not constitute as research in my mind.
    Not sure if you’ve heard of Torry Academy or Biola Star, but I was a part of that homeschool program. And my teacher was amazing, he helped me discover how to think for myself. How to let go of my parent’s ideals and learn for myself. Most importantly he showed me what good research is, and how to properly use source material.
    I’m no academic, but I like to think I’m above average.

    I couldn’t help but wonder what was meant by “research” there. What do you mean when you use the word? By “research” do we simply mean typing some string like “God’s love Old Testament” into Google and briefly perusing the results? In particular, the “I can’t find anything” remark led me to that question. While I can’t speak for anybody else here, I can say I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover at least once, maybe even two or three times if you were to add up all the intermittent sessions. I think people who have dedicated this level of committment to the source material have an advantage here. I guess what I’m saying is this: atheists and theists alike should be wary of false confidence. Perfunctory keyword searches might be a good place to start, but there can be no substitute for a thorough command of the source material, and that applies to any human endeavor where learning and critical thinking are to take place.

    Well I was slowly scanning the Old Testament for answers, but I know my confirmation bias would lead me much more easily to passages like 2 Samuel 6:3-7.

    “While I realize this can be tough to judge, and my scale is certainly arbitrary and could be improved on, how would you rate your familiarity with the Bible in your adult life?”
    I’m currently at a 9. Read through the Bible multiple times. I used to be a 10, but not anymore (was homeschooled with Christian curriculum and went to church 4 or 5 times a week). Not gonna lie it’s been awhile since I’ve needed/been interested enough to go to that deep a level, or use those tools.

  27. cl, I read up to the part in Genesis where Cain kills Abel and God calls out to Cain. That makes me a one on your scale. I also agree with you. There is a certain level of familiarity and expertise gained from reading the Bible comprehensively that cannot be gained from simply being familiar with a few parts.

  28. Hey therealadaam,

    No worries. I selected the Solomon passage because it seemed unconditional to me. He is given whatever he asks for, no matter what it is. Do you not agree with this being unconditional? God then goes on to provide the conditional that if Solomon lives according to God’s law, he will be blessed with long life.

    cl,

    I would say that my knowledge of the Bible is somewhere around an 8 (+/- 0.5). I am able to read Koine with my Greek Lexicon not too far away, though I have no knowledge of Hebrew at all.

  29. I haven’t got to all of the comments yet, but I had time to field these…

    ThinkingEmotions,

    Is there any evil or suffering you consider gratuitous?

    The world contains much suffering and evil that I would consider “extreme” or “highly undesired by decent standard,” but I can’t say whether the suffering and evil we see is “necessary” or “gratuitous.” It might be necessary, it might be gratuitous, but any reliable answer requires knowledge I lack.

    For the record, I do believe a God of theism and evil are compatible; in fact, perhaps even gratuitous evil is compatible with a theistic God. Like I said, I’m not closed on this issue.

    I wasn’t getting the impression you were closed. It’s just that I take issue with this:

    If you really think that gratuitous evils are better explained by a personal God than an impartial one, and that gratuitous evils aren’t better explained by an impersonal one, I’m at a loss of words at how to change your thinking.

    It seems to me that “better explained” is just being used as a euphemism for something like, “I prefer,” or, “my intuition tells me.” What does it mean to say “better explained?” By what objective protocol can we arrive at such a judgment? If you could show me something like that, it might go a great way towards changing my thinking. However, if none can be given, aren’t those who claim the evil and suffering we see is gratuitous just sorta “feeling” their way towards truth?

    This is close to what I was saying earlier… the POE doesn’t need to score points for atheism, but it should not be wiped away as a blemish from Christianity. IOW, I don’t think the POE has been solved.

    Well, what do you mean by “solved?” If the prosecution doesn’t make their case, the defendent cannot rightfully be charged guilty.

    I do think there could be less evil because there could be.

    I agree that in principle, there could be less evil. After all, the Bible does end with an eternal kingdom, free of evil. I’ve never contested the contingency of evil. Rather, I challenge anybody who claims to know that the evil we currently see is gratuitous. I want to know how somebody can know that.

    …I was just saying that on your world view, there is a lot of suffering that will never be compensated. At least, if I’m reading you correctly, that is.

    I’m not committed to any views in that regard. I don’t know whether all suffering gets compensated. My only point in raising the issue was to show how simple it is to come up with a seemingly logical reason for the existence of evil / suffering, given God.

    You have some other comments I intend to get to, so you might want to wait for me to catch up before making your next reply…

    therealadaam,

    And you are correct, I did blow that out of proportion. My bad.

    No worries, I can see why… you thought I was making the generally specious argument, “atheists don’t believe because they’re mad at God.” I imagine atheists react to that charge the same way theists react to variants of “theists just believe because they’re ignorant.”

    The New Testament they are everywhere, but not so in the Old. Everything is conditional too, that I’ve seen. “Follow my laws and I’ll be good to you. Don’t and you’ll be punished.”

    Is this not the mindset any good parent would have?

    But at the same time, IF mankind was created, then life IS a gift. Something we wouldn’t have had without direct divine intervention/creation.
    But the problem is that you can also see life as a gift from any angle.

    Well, not really. Not without stretching the meaning of “gift” to include random transactions of matter. IF humanity wasn’t created, then life is more accurately described as an accident than a gift. A gift seems to require intention.

    I have not been able to find any actual accounts of God doing something good in the Old Testament. I figure this might have something to do with my bias.

    Well, what types of acts would you accept as good?

    John Evo,

    You were saying something about atheism and evidence?

    Hmmm… I guess you want me to guess what you mean. Let’s see: I drew a conclusion based on my experiences with atheists, and you feel that’s unfair because elsewhere, I demand that atheists provide evidence for their claims. Right? Is that your complaint?

    doubtingThomas,

    One could lament the fact that we are allowed to suffer, or cherish the fact that we are allowed to grow.

    Exactly. So well-said. Is the glass half empty or half full?

  30. Thanks, everybody, for the answers to the “familiarity with the Bible” question.

    ThinkingEmotions,

    To my knowledge, there is nothing in the Bible that requires God to disallow evil of any sort. But if you want to start there, can we find any scriptural evidence to support the claim that God is good at all?

    Rufus already kicked that off, and I was even thinking about dedicating an entire post to the topic. In my opinion, there is no shortage of answers.

    I read elsewhere that cl has written a post about biblically backing up the 3-O God. I need to read it!

    It’s right here. Mind you, I’m inclined to agree with the attributes in question. That post was just an attempt to support them biblically, because I wanted to know who actually had grounding for them. I get the impression many people just kind of go through the motions in POE debates. I think a pretty compelling case can be made for each of the four “omni” attributes.

    Regarding Sodom and Gomorrah, how do you define “cruel?” Of your three proffered ways out, I don’t take 2 or 3. I might take 1, but that depends on what you mean by “cruel.”

    therealadaam,

    …I’m interested in finding Old Testament passage(s) that show God preforming unconditional acts of love.
    The only reason is because the New Testament has unconditional acts of love everywhere, yet (in my limited knowledge) I have not seen many unconditional acts of love in the Old Testament.

    Which NT acts of love did you have in mind? In your opinion, what necessary criteria must obtain in order to call an act of love “unconditional?”

    Not sure if you’ve heard of Torry Academy or Biola Star, but I was a part of that homeschool program. And my teacher was amazing, he helped me discover how to think for myself. How to let go of my parent’s ideals and learn for myself. Most importantly he showed me what good research is, and how to properly use source material.

    I hadn’t heard of them. I’m no academic, either. It sounds like you’ve had the privilege of at least one good teacher, though, and that’s cool.

  31. cl,

    I really appreciate your constructive responses. It is good to see (a)theist discussion that consists of thought-provoking exchanges rather than tendentious bickering; the latter covers practically all of YouTube and many internet forums.

    I do see the error in that syllogism I posted earlier. The statement “gratuitous evils exist” almost seems identical to the statement “God is not all good, therefore does not exist” to some theists. I suppose the syllogism almost begs the question in that sense, but I am not sure I view it under that light. Do you think gratuitous evils would disprove the existence of God? Or, rather, be inconsistent with the hypothesis of Christianity? ;) This isn’t a trick, I promise; I am just curious to hear what you think. Even if we knew what evils were gratuitous, I do not think we could say that rules out God’s existence. Perhaps you think differently? And to clarify, I am referring to the Christian God, not a deist one.

    It seems to me that “better explained” is just being used as a euphemism for something like, “I prefer,” or, “my intuition tells me.” What does it mean to say “better explained?” By what objective protocol can we arrive at such a judgment? If you could show me something like that, it might go a great way towards changing my thinking. However, if none can be given, aren’t those who claim the evil and suffering we see is gratuitous just sorta “feeling” their way towards truth?

    I will try to play by your terms here then, cl. Gratuitous evils are more consistent with the hypothesis of a deist God than a theist God, though I do not think the existence of gratuitous evils rules out the theist God. You can call this an intuition or a subjective judgment, but hear me out. Let me analogize.

    Which type of parent would be most likely to yield suffering children and/or conditions that would lead to suffering: a totally negligent one (Parent A) or a purportedly caring one (Parent B)? I’m serious.

    Parent A, the negligent one, brings his children into existence and immediately steps out of the picture. He will not intervene no matter what and is indifferent to what happens. Parent B, the caring one, brings his children into existence and strongly desires a loving relationship with them. Not only that, but Parent B will also intervene in humanly matters and listens to the desires of his children. Furthermore, he will reward them for obeying him and being in relationship with them. Perhaps this line of reasoning is “intuitive,” but I think this is the best objective protocol I can give you.

    I say one would expect, intuitively or not, the world of Parent A to lend way to needless suffering more than the world of Parent B. All evil and suffering, gratuitous or not, seem to align more congruently with a deist God than a theist God. If this gets flagged as intuitive, I am not sure what else I have to offer.

    Regarding Sodom and Gomorrah, how do you define “cruel?” Of your three proffered ways out, I don’t take 2 or 3. I might take 1, but that depends on what you mean by “cruel.”

    I think killing someone for disobedience is cruel and authoritative in its very nature, for starters. I could draw the picture out in human terms, but you said you are inclined to take 1; I feel as if that effectively precludes a human analogy translating my point correctly.

    For the definition of “cruel,” let’s start with the dictionary.com definition: willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others. If you ask me, this is a really good start and nearly identical to what I wanted to say. I was going to posit a definition with the word “sadistic” in it, and I think this definition conveys that.

    What kind of bugs me, even though I think it is hysterical in its absurdity, is that turning someone into a pillar of salt is unarguably cruel! The illustration for it on Wikipedia under the Sodom and Gomorrah page is hilarious. I imagine this is supposed to be symbolic of something, however, so I will await your biblical expertise on the matter. :) Oh, and at a later point in the Bible, God’s destruction of the two cities is referred to as “… the LORD [overthrowing them] in fierce anger” by Moses in Deuteronomy 29:22-23. Just noting this.

  32. “Which NT acts of love did you have in mind? In your opinion, what necessary criteria must obtain in order to call an act of love ‘unconditional?'”
    Well after a quick skim John 4:43-54 is a good one. I have honestly not had much time to look into it.
    And by “unconditional” I just mean an act of love that was done with no strings attached. I don’t think I’m being that picky, am I?
    I’ll clarify a bit more. If I were to give $5 to a homeless person on the street, that would be an unconditional act of love (agape love). If I gave him $5 to wash my windows, that’s conditional love.
    Does that example make sense?

    Again, I don’t think I’m being picky. The example that Rufus gave earlier was good, but my only issue was with the context. If you look at 1 Kings 3, you’ll see that Solomon went and sacrificed 1000 burnt offerings to God. THEN God gave him a blessing.
    I don’t think it’s wrong of me to think of that act of love as conditional, right?

  33. therealadaam,

    You seem to be assuming that God gives Solomon wisdom because he offered the sacrifices. It does not say that, so I think you may be reading into the text IMO. How about 1 Samuel 16, the anointing of David. What did David do to earn this blessing?

    -Rufus

  34. Rufus,
    Perhaps you are right, I might be reading into the text. And I also am fighting a confirmation bias here, lol. I CURRENTLY think the Bible (as a religious text) is a load of crap. There are some amazing stories there, and looking deeper at the context of the time, it is amazing.
    I digress…
    Yes, the anointing of David was a blessing.

  35. therealadaam,

    The Bible is polysemous. It’s not just a matter of reading it with the proper historic context (thought that is an important thing to consider); it is also a matter of considering truths on various levels. Certain passages are to be taken as literally true. Other passages are meant to be taken as anagogically true, allegorically true, or tropologically true. At times some or all of these levels are operating at the same time.

    I think reading the Bible with these added dimensions in mind helps one to understand the inspired and inerrant nature of the scriptures.

  36. I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

  37. Daniel,
    I do agree with your said statement, except for this:
    “I think reading the Bible with these added dimensions in mind helps one to understand the inspired and inerrant nature of the scriptures.”

    What do these added dimensions have to do with the inspiration of the scriptures?
    And what do the added dimensions have to do with the inerrant nature of the scriptures?

    How does one know which dimensions apply to specific passages?

    Is the Resurrection of Christ anagogically true, allegorically true, tropologically true, or literally true?

    Please don’t think I’m being insulting or annoying, I’m genuinely curious.

  38. Speaking for myself, I take it as literally true, because of other verses which tend to corroborate a literal interpretation. OTOH, I take a verse like Mark 9:43 allegorically (“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire”), on account the apparent conflict with other verses if we interpret it literally.

    At the end of the day, that’s my system for figuring which verses to read literally, allegorically, etc. I compare them to the totality of Scripture and make the best judgment I can, and where there is uncertainty, I refrain from rigidity.

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