Is God Good? (A Short Film)

Here is animated short film called, “Is God Good?”  In less than two minutes, it succinctly addresses how human freedom relates to the problem of evil (with some brilliant animated imagery).

This 2-minute video is a kind of animation known as kinetic type. This genre allows the artist to get a little crazy – words become designs, not merely carriers of information. My goal in producing this animation was to have fun – which I did – and to creatively express this idea: the presence of evil in our world does NOT mean that there is no God; rather, it means that he’s up to something. This is a short video so it only scratches the surface – but at least it introduces the concepts and, hopefully, encourages further thought on the subject.

Whenever I think about deep stuff like evil and suffering, I find it helpful to remember two aspects of God’s nature. First, he is perfectly just. So all evil will eventually be punished perfectly and appropriately. Second, he is perfectly loving. Thus, God extends himself sacrificially to forgive those who do evil (all of us) and provide an escape from punishment. What’s amazing to me is how both of these sides of God, his justice and love, collide on the cross with Jesus Christ. You know someone truly loves you if they are willing to die for you. But when God forgave us, he did not simply ignore our evil thoughts, choices, and actions. That wouldn’t be justice, would it? All of our crimes, big and small, were punished perfectly, but the punishment was re-directed toward Jesus Christ. The punishment that Jesus took upon himself demonstrate God’s love and God’s justice.

This video also touches on another cool idea: God is a gentleman. That is, he doesn’t force his love on the objects of his affection (all of us). He is persuasive – not coercive. He allows you to turn your back on him if you prefer to be the captain of your own ship. You may not want to acknowledge a higher authority to whom you must answer. You may not want to admit that you don’t have your act together. He allows you to make that choice. On the other hand, you might realize that God’s relentless love is what you’ve been searching for all of your life. It’s like this: a gentleman does not force a woman to marry him. He becomes vulnerable. He expresses his love to her by his words and actions. Then he asks her to make a decision: “Will you marry me?” At this point, the ball is in her court. She can either accept or reject his offer. In the same way, each of us can accept or reject God’s offer of a life-giving connection through Jesus Christ.

Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

Powered by ConvertKit
52 replies
  1. Unclemerle says:

    Question: Then, when God removes all the evil and suffering and takes all the righteous believers to heaven: does he remove their “freedom” so as to ensure the absence of evil throughout eternity? If so, then, according to the analogy in the video, are there none but “robots” in heaven? Just wondering…

    Reply
    • Debbie says:

      To be in Gods presence must be enough to keep us wanting to remain faithful. If not, Satan was removed from Heaven.

      Reply
    • Believer says:

      When we get to heaven our free will is going to already be aligned with his. We wont want what we want but be overwhelmed with what he has for us that we wont need to want anything else. Our desires will match his. No we wont be robots! We will just be extremely happy and fulfilled as he first created us. The desires of our flesh wont be the desires of our heavenly bodies.

      Reply
  2. Tsitfel Krejeenk says:

    Very appealing short, although, I enjoyed what Mr. Zangmeister said as much if not more than the video. The analogy of God as the (potential) bridegroom is very appropriate and used in the Bible often.

    As an American who has never known real suffering it is easy for me to be secure in the notion that He is just and all will shake out in the end but, truth is, many who face death every day find solace in that same truth. God is sovereign. He placed every single atom in the universe in its place. He put the twinkle in the eye of those you love. He is omnipresent and all knowing. How could He not be just?

    Don’t know how He does that – I just know that He does. And that is why it is incumbent upon us to seek His will. After all, “His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” so, none of us can intervene in His plan which would seem to suggest that we might as well get on the right side of it. Of course, I’m not God so, that makes sense to me but, maybe one of the “gods” who frequents this site can straighten me out. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Frank Turek says:

    Question: Then, when God removes all the evil and suffering and takes all the righteous believers to heaven: does he remove their “freedom” so as to ensure the absence of evil throughout eternity? If so, then, according to the analogy in the video, are there none but “robots” in heaven? Just wondering…

    Good Question. No, I don’t think God removes their freedom. It would seem that being in the direct presence of God– when we will “see Him as He is” (1 John 3)– will remove any desire for sin. Sin, after all, is often a shortcut to get what we think we lack. We won’t lack anything in Heaven, be in a fallen world, nor will we have a sin nature or a tempter. Jesus was without sin in this fallen world, but still had free will. We will be in a perfect world, have free will and remain without sin.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
    • Fred says:

      I agree, Satan had freedom to choose, but maybe there will also be a lack of physical desires in a spiritual realm in heaven to compel beings to sin the same way we have experienced these while on earth. There or no similar needs to those we have known on earth, and in the perfect kingdom of God, there will be no pain, suffering or evil.

      Reply
  4. Lion IRC says:

    I think in God’s Kingdom we freely (and wisely) choose to reject evil and God does not need to force us to be happy.

    We have the benefit of hindsight by that point in time.

    Our choices then consist of whether to listen to Bach or Mozart, whether to play chess or play the violin, whether to sing or dance or both. Whether to spend time playing with the lion or the lamb. The known universe is unimaginably huge – how much more room to explore and how many NEW things might there be that God knows of and we do not. What is the logic which dictates that our earthly life is more interesting than the unknown which awaits. Why is there an assumption that 2010 on earth is as good as we can ever hope to expect? Why can’t the afterlife be even better than this one?

    I don’t know why a person would think that the available “choices” in Gods Heavenly Kingdom are made more boring by the absence of a…”be mean to someone” option on the menu.

    How much happier would we be and how much more spare time would we have to pursue better pastimes if we didn’t have to worry about making money, envying our neighbors, protecting ourselves from the “violent man” who wants to make our life a misery. (Psalm 140:4) Nothing to fear. Children free to walk along a beach or through a beautiful rain forest at anytime of day without the horrors of hypodermic needles, broken glass, oil spills, perverse wolves dressed as sheep. In God’s Kingdom there will be no evil people trying to teach sin to “these little ones”. (Luke 17:2)

    I am very suspicious of those who say they will have nothing to do in Gods Kingdom.

    Lion (IRC)

    Reply
  5. Lion IRC says:

    BTW – I live here on earth, grateful to God for what I have been given, bread, wine, trees, flowers, all creatures great and small, sun, rain, fellow human beings, love….

    And insofar as I try to follow the rules of His Kingdom, I don’t EVER find myself bored, deprived or unhappy. Nor do I find myself wishing I had less time to live.

    My theology informs me that if someone really does think they would be bored living in Gods’ Kingdom they are free to reject it and find out how boring total, permanent separation from the Kingdom of God’s Creation feels. I am told that lasts forever too!

    Lion (IRC)

    Reply
  6. Toby R. says:

    We won’t lack anything in Heaven, be in a fallen world, nor will we have a sin nature or a tempter. Jesus was without sin in this fallen world, but still had free will. We will be in a perfect world, have free will and remain without sin.

    I think this sounds like drug addiction. Is that what heaven is, feeling high all of the time? I think Lion is wrong in saying that there will be plenty to do. Eternity is a long time and the universe, though vast, is presumably finite. So do everything there is to do in the universe five times and what are you left with? Boredom. Would there be drama or tragedy movies or plays in heaven? If there were would they be any good? Because if you’re in a place where you know you can never be hurt or nothing will ever go wrong, then it would seem that your ability to empathize with tragic persons would be lost and make tragic plays/movies silly. To me heaven sounds like walking around forever with your mouth open and saying, “gee, it’s all so beautiful.” . . . like you’re high. and when you’re high, you’re not yourself.

    and who knows what heaven will be because it’s this spaceless, timeless, immaterial place that we can’t begin to honestly even assume what it would be like.

    Reply
  7. Mark (yeah, that one) says:

    I think this sounds like drug addiction.
    So, drug addiction is “spaceless, timeless (and) immaterial”? Hm, maybe I must needs rethink this whole, “drugs are bad”, line of thinking.

    Eternity is a long time So it’s NOT “timeless”? And “the universe…is…finite”? What? Better reread that Bible of yours. He creates a new heaven. Can I get a witness, somebody?

    Would there be drama or tragedy movies or plays in heaven?
    Oh, I get it now, you’re just sour about the notion that Heaven is an endless “time out” from TV-Land. I empathize, brother (fortunately, I still can empathize, not having gone to my reward and all yet), but being a recovering TV addict, I can attest to the fact that life is much better w/o it. Try it for a year or two and you’ll never go back (that’s what they tell me anyway. on day three here myself – woot, woot!).

    …you’re not yourself
    Yes indeed – “Rid me of myself”, is how the lyric goes. Nice a-cappella version of it by Kristen Chacon on myspace. The song is called, “Lead me to The Cross” (for those of you from the closed mouth and seeing things for “what they really are” set). You should try a lesson, er, listen. Very beautiful. The song too.

    and who knows what heaven will be…
    Man! I feel so silly. There I go, going off all half pulled back again and you knew all along that heaven is incomprehensibly beautiful the whole time. Got me again, Toby. Good show old man. Still though, it leaves one w/ a slight feeling of confusion.

    Reply
  8. Lion IRC says:

    Hi Toby,

    You sound like you doubt Gods ability to create any number of universes of increasing variety.

    Here’s an idea you might relate to.

    You live in a little “universe” where there is nothing but primordial slime and you are an amoeba.

    You are a very happy amoeba in your little back-water. You have some sensitivity to light as a form of stimulation. The slime is warm and comforting.

    Life’s good.

    Then after a few million years, by which time you should be bored, you look around you and find there are new creatures which weren’t there before.

    You ask yourself, how is it that I can see now? I never used to have “eyes”.

    In another few million years your “universe” has gotten even more interesting. Now you have limbs/fins/wings and can travel to places you never even knew existed. You see massive dinosaurs and trees and “unbelievable” stuff. Are you bored yet?

    “Time” passes and you are a 10 million year old amoeba. It seems like only yesterday. Where did all those years go? You can now hear with your well formed ears and you hear the sound of a space shuttle taking off. You look up and wonder where it is going? To the moon? To Mars? To another galaxy? To a wormhole through which it will travel and come out somewhere else which only God knows about?

    A multiverse of new “primordial slime” perhaps?

    Lion (IRC)

    Reply
  9. Lion IRC says:

    One last comment Toby R,

    You say (you think) the universe is vast but presumably finite.

    Then you say “do everything there is to do five times”

    How is it in your cosmology that by the time you go back to do something the 2nd or 3rd time that it will be exactly the same?

    Not many physicists these days are talking about the universe as a “finite” quantity, nor do they think in terms of it being an unchanging object.

    In fact, the no-boundary universe or multiverses which is/are perpetually variable and cyclical and hard to define with any certainty AT ALL leave me with the impression that physics will probably never reach a unified theory of everything.

    Many chaos theory and uncertainty principles and quantum weirdness get boring after a while but I have a feeling that God has a lot more surprises up His sleeve.

    Hands up any secular scientist or physicist or biologist who does NOT want to know what is happening in the amazing world of scientific discovery the day after………………… tomorrow.

    Lion (IRC)

    Reply
  10. Charles says:

    God is perfect, so can perfection accept anything less than what it is? I doubt it. So we have Christ, who personifies perfection as the only sinless human besides Adam who fumbled the ball (so to speak) So that imperfection (us) can be seen as perfect (Him). Well, IMO, I believe that Even though God is just to forgive sins with remission in lieu of repentance, the sin condition still exists in the physical realm we have been calling “reality”. So evil will persist in the physical realm. God is also righteous because he is perfect, so iniquity cannot exist in Heaven and if iniquity cannot exist there then there is nothing for evil to cling to. Picture this: Christ is coming back for a “Bride who has made herself ready”. This is just me, but I picture a matrimonial service on an eternal level, meaning everyday being the Sabbath, the Marriage of the Spirit of God to the Glorified body of Christ would be a ceremony of Biblical proportions that can easily last an eternity. Just a thought.

    Reply
  11. Andrea says:

    God knows the end from the beginning because He lacks nothing. He doesn’t lack knowledge hence He knows all things. So those who go to Heaven are those who by their own free will choose God, and by their own free will stay there.

    God is infinite and unlimited yet us humans are finite and limited physically, morally, and intellectually. There is nothing that we can do to measure up to our Creator. How can the creature “measure up” to its Creator? It can’t. The Creator lacks nothing, it is the creature who depends on Him.

    So God simply lets us choose. If we WANT to be with God, well only God can save us… and this is what God demonstrated empirically for us in Jesus Christ.

    If you DON’T want God… then you wouldn’t want what God has to give either (life, light, love, provision, etc). So God grants people a place where THEY don’t get to behold Him for themselves because they don’t WANT Him out of their own free will, and they are in hell because God knows that by their own free will they never would want to be with Him.

    Rather than exterminating someone if they don’t want Him… God simply created a place for those who don’t want to behold Him. God is love and would never want to destroy what He made but lets His creatures decide, so it’s not on Him.

    Reply
  12. Toby R. says:

    “God knows the end from the beginning because He lacks nothing. He doesn’t lack knowledge hence He knows all things. So those who go to Heaven are those who by their own free will choose God, and by their own free will stay there.”

    This omniscient being knows that some of these people he creates will go to hell even before he creates them. So what really can be said is that this god makes some people just so he can send them to eternal torment. How lovely and caring.

    Reply
  13. Rick Ripley says:

    When we get to Heaven, we will see the full length and breath that God went to save His owe (US) – in the form of Jesus! Once we see the “PROOF OF GODS LOVE” (in Heaven) there will NEVER EVER COME UP THE DOUBT about GOD again.

    Hence – we will be free to choose, but SURE about our CHOICE! Ultimate peace.

    Reply
  14. Tyler Hernandez says:

    “This omniscient being knows that some of these people he creates will go to hell even before he creates them. So what really can be said is that this god makes some people just so he can send them to eternal torment. How lovely and caring”

    This is an intriguing question and one that I struggle with from time to time. We must remember that if God is God then he attains all the traits that come with that definition, meaning of course that the term God means the greatest conceivable being. This would mean that God must be perfectly loving and perfectly just. At first glance this may seem like a contradiction, as Toby points out, but we must be careful in adopting a false view of love. Love does not simply mean that the recipient of love gets everything he desires. Certainly we’ve all been witnesses to a good ole’ fatherly whooping/spanking in the interest of love. Although God may desire for all his creation to accept him he cannot simply say, “oh well, your sins are not cleansed but you can come into heaven anyway. I’ll break the rule just this once.” To do so would be going against God’s perfectly just attributes and he would cease to be the greatest conceivable being. If we reject Christ’s sacrifice for the atonement of our sins there is nothing god can do.

    Now Toby’s question also brings into the discussion the issue of God’s middle knowledge, which basically ascertains that God knows what will happen in every situation. He knows what will happen in the world where Hitler commits mass genocide and he knows what will happen the world where Hitler had never stepped up to his political throne (a world that obviously doesn’t exist, nevertheless god knows of it.

    So how is it that god would create beings he knew would freely reject him and thereby send themself to hell? The answer, i think, rests in the notion that god would not create worlds that are not feasible for him. Perhaps a world where everyone freely accepts god consists of an amount of believers that is incredibly small compared to the number of believers in our actualized world.

    I don’t this it is too much of jump in reasoning to assume that a perfectly loving god would only choose to create a world in which the optimum amount of believers would freely accept him as Lord, regrettably this world would also include a great number of non-believers who wouldn’t freely accept him. However, this is the only world feasible for him to create. The problem with free will is you cannot make someone accept you as Lord which puts God into a tough spot having to choose a world in which more people believe but a great number don’t, as opposed to a world in which a very small number of people believe and no body doesn’t believe.

    Reply
  15. Tim D. says:

    “I dropped my beads in the desert,” the girl wept. She searched the desert for 100 years.

    “Maybe I didn’t drop them in the desert, but in the ocean,” the girl wept. She searched the seafloor for 100 years.

    “Maybe I didn’t drop them in the ocean, but in the mountains,” the girl wept. How many years will it be before she questions whether she really dropped them at all?

    I think of this poem every time I see/hear people arguing about the rules defining god’s existence.

    Reply
  16. sdan says:

    In “Mere Christianity”, C.S. Lewis hypothesized that empirical proof of God is reveled in the innate sense of Justice in all human minds. Yet my sense of Justice does not allow for either vengeance or non-proportional punishment. Eternal damnation for finite sin? A punishment should fit the crime. And what is our first sin? Simply being born into the family of Man. Something over which none of us had any volition. There is simply no way, Dr. Turek, to rationalize this away. “Without the shadow there can be no proof of Sunshine?” Well — without any freedom or choice I cannot be held responsible for my “Original Sin”.

    Reply
  17. DeanHigh says:

    Uncle Merle,

    people who have proven that they will repent are not only more trustworthy in general, God also knows who’s trying to climb over his wall into his kingdom like a thief. He’s going separating the sheep from the goats. The people who refuse to do evil are the ones who get to know God.

    Reply
  18. Toby R. says:

    You know, with all this bad weather parts of the states have been having, tornadoes and flooding and what not, I’ve heard several times on the radio and tv people being interviewed and saying things like, “I was picked up by a tornado and set down in a field.” Or “My car and me got washed down stream and I’m still here to talk about it.” And these sentences are followed by some version of “. . . and god saved me.”

    The first thing I’d like to ask these people as an interviewer would be, “So who made the tornado?” The follow up would be, “If god made the tornado happen, then what does that say about him “saving” you?”

    After watching the above video again I thought of something. Tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and so on aren’t evil. They aren’t good or bad. If in the theists view god is responsible for everything including the weather then god is randomly killing people just for kicks (random to us, but since he’s omni-everything he knows who he’s killing). I wonder if you could even say that in a theistic view, that everything made of matter is made by god and hence “good”. Tornadoes are good. Poison is good. Radiation is good. So god killing people using the above methods is good. How wonderful.

    Reply
  19. Tim D. says:

    The first thing I’d like to ask these people as an interviewer would be, “So who made the tornado?” The follow up would be, “If god made the tornado happen, then what does that say about him “saving” you?”

    Have you heard the Guster song, “Stay With Me Jesus?” It’s an interesting take on this idea. I *think* it’s supposed to be ironic (I’ve heard that, anyway, and the video seems to confirm this), but it’s written from the perspective of a Christian(s) who was “saved” from some natural or man-made disaster by god.

    The irony is that he always thanks god for saving him right between mentioning all the other people that died. “Thank god for saving me when all those other people died,” seems to be the message.

    The more I read on neurological studies and quantum physics, the more I feel there is evidence that humans in general are sort of wired to think this way. We think of our individual selves as being the “center” of things, so when something good (or bad) happens to us apparently by chance, we tend to attribute some grand significance to it. After all, we are only able to comprehend things within a certain range of scale — a human cannot literally comprehend the smallness of an atom, or the largeness of a universe. Our brain just doesn’t have a mechanism to conceive of such a wide scope of existence, nor has it historically (or evolutionarily) needed one. There are a lot of unseen systems at work in this universe that we simply can’t be directly aware of (although we can test and confirm via experimentation, such as the existence of the quark).

    So when we experience some unexpected result, we tend to think particularly of ourselves, and completely ignore the hundreds (or thousands, or millions) of others who did experience the expected results, as well as the statistical certainty that, given enough time and enough people, something unexpected will happen to somebody.

    It’s this point at which Christians tend to accuse me of “taking the heart out of the universe.” This is an important time to mention that these are simply the rules of probability; the fact that they operate based on simple (and apathetic) laws of physics may seem “cold” to some, but that doesn’t change the way they work — even if we would all prefer a world where money (or some other more useful commodity) falls from trees to a world where such a resource is scarce, but that doesn’t make it so. The point of scientific analysis is to confront the truth and find the best way to work around or through it, not just act as if it’s not there and then pretend the world is already the way we want it to be.

    Reply
  20. Sam Daniels says:

    Like C.S. Lewis, I get that humans have an innate sense of Justice which may point to a Creator. I also understand the argument for Free Will and against Automatons (robots who love). However, what Evangelical Christianity cannot answer is my fundamental question about Culpability. Justice demands that a punishment fit the crime. This points me to the Creator. Hence Christ’s blood sacrifice for humanity’s “sins”. Chief among our “sins” is Original Sin. How, exactly, am I responsible as a Free Agent for my own “Original Sin”? I have no culpability (or responsibility) whatsoever for the fact of my birth. So why am I guilty before God? In addition — why are my finite-in-time sins deserving of Eternal Damnation? I really would be interested in an intelligent answer, which so far has gone unfulfilled.

    Reply
  21. Toby R. says:

    Does anyone else feel that philosophy is a flawed way to argue religion? If we research the history of philosophy we see that it stems not from any secular basis, but from a groups of highly superstitious ancients attempting to gain knowledge of their world. It just seems to me that philosophy is too steeped in this past to offer any real arguments against it.

    Reply
  22. Tim D. says:

    You guys all read William Lane Craig, right? I was thinking that’s where Mr. Turek got most of his apologetics from. In any case, I came across a few writings on the internet that I had some inquiries about, and so I figured this is the best place to bring it.

    First, this quote by William Lane Craig:

    According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God. Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfill. He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are.

    Would you agree with this statement — that God has no moral duty?

    And if that’s the case….what, then, makes god necessarily “moral,” if in fact he has no moral duty? If he were in fact “the arbiter of moral duty,” then would he not at least have a moral duty to himself? This seems like a pretty blatant contradiction.

    This one’s from the same forum post on the site, “Reasonable Faith,” a question posed by a poster there:

    In the forums, there has been some good questions raised on the issue of God commanding the Jews to commit “genocide” on the people in the promise land. As you have pointed out in some of your written work that this act does not fit with the Western concept of God being the big sugar daddy in the sky. Now we can certainly find justification for those people coming under God judgement because of their sins, idolatry, sacrificing their children, etc… But a harder question is the killing of the children and infants. If the children are young enough along with the infants are innocent of the sins that their society has committed. How do we reconcile this command of God to kill the children with the concept of his holiness?

    Another question (in the same post):

    I have heard you justify Old Testament violence on the basis that God had used Israelite army to judge the cananites and their elimination by Israelites is morally right as they were obeying God’s command (iif would be wrong if tey did not obey God in eliminating the cannanites) . This resembles a bit on how Muslims define morality and justify the violence of Muhammad and other morally questionable actions (muslims define morality as doing the will of God). Do you see any difference between your justification of OT violence and Islamic justification of Muhammand and violent verses of the Quran? Is the violence and morally questionable actions and verses of the Quran, a good arugument while talking to Muslims?

    The following paragraphs are taken from the answers Mr. Craig gives to both questions (after a length of ego-stroking commentary about god):

    Now before attempting to say something by way of answer to this difficult question, we should do well first to pause and ask ourselves what is at stake here. Suppose we agree that if God (who is perfectly good) exists, He could not have issued such a command. What follows? That Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? That God does not exist? Hardly! So what is the problem supposed to be?

    I just wanted to point this part out first, as an example of Mr. Craig’s habit of trying to force the argument into a format that is most ideal for his cause. This is a blatant case of him saying, “But if that’s true, then we’d be wrong. And there’s no way that could be true! Therefore, the problem must be elsewhere.” That seems pretty intellectually dishonest.

    But anyway, the article continues:

    The claim that God could not have issued such a command doesn’t falsify or undercut either of the two premises in the moral argument as I have defended it:

    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

    2. Objective moral values do exist.

    3. Therefore, God exists.

    Problem #1: He simply asserts that objective values do exist, he doesn’t prove it — this assertion is based on the fact that humans feel moral intuitions, which in itself does not necessitate any sort of “objective standard” in the sense that he describes (the metaphysical sense). The evolutionary explanation for developed social mores, for example, will suffice to explain at least that much.

    Problem #2: Premise 1 of the argument doesn’t imply that God exists as a result of objective morality! It says, if God doesn’t exist, then OM doesn’t exist. It doesn’t say, if OM exists, then god does! Therefore, 3 is a false conclusion. To show why this is a fallacy, consider the following proposition:

    1) If I don’t exist, then I can’t murder anyone.

    2) I do exist.

    3) Therefore, I am a murderer.

    It’s true that if I don’t exist, I can’t do anything (much less murder someone). But it does not follow necessarily that if I do exist, then the thing which my lack of existence prevented from taking place, must now be assumed to have taken place (or to take place in the future). Is it possible? Certainly. But this argument does not establish whether or not it actually did (or will) happen.

    But still, the article continues. Even if we accept Mr. Craig’s reframing of the question to suit his ends:

    The problem, it seems to me, is that if God could not have issued such a command, then the biblical stories must be false. Either the incidents never really happened but are just Israeli folklore; or else, if they did, then Israel, carried away in a fit of nationalistic fervor, thinking that God was on their side, claimed that God had commanded them to commit these atrocities, when in fact He had not. In other words, this problem is really an objection to biblical inerrancy.

    ….we still come to some interesting problems:

    In fact, ironically, many Old Testament critics are sceptical that the events of the conquest of Canaan ever occurred. They take these stories to be part of the legends of the founding of Israel, akin to the myths of Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome. For such critics the problem of God’s issuing such a command evaporates.

    Not true at all! When you criticize, say, Islam, for something their doctrine preaches, you don’t actually believe it, do you? Therefore, all your concerns about Islam must be irrelevant!

    Belief in something is not a requisite basis for criticizing claims to its consistency. Just because I don’t believe the OT happened, doesn’t mean that I can’t seek an explanation for the events therein which is consistent with contemporary Christian apologetics. By even saying this, Mr. Craig is being dishonest again, and trying to brush off potentially troubling questions by dismissing their importance (because the inquirer doesn’t believe it, so his concerns “evaporate”).

    Keep telling yourself that, Mr. Craig. It will continue to matter to those of us who do not believe the OT for precisely that reason, among others.

    He goes on to defend the Caananite genocide as being “good” on the basis that god gets to pick and choose who dies, and all that jazz. Which is messed up on its own, but we’ll let it go for fear of needlessly prolonging an already long comment. But then, ah, we come to this interesting gem:

    By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. The Canaanites are to be destroyed “that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut. 20.18). God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice, just as centuries later God would use the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel.

    But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel’s part.

    This is the hilarious(ly sad and disturbing) truth behind Mr. Craig’s justification for OT genocide on god’s behalf: The genocide of the Caananites (even children) was a decree by God to keep the Israelites from assimilating into their culture and copying their horrible acts….such as killing children!

    By setting such strong, harsh dichotomies God taught Israel that any assimilation to pagan idolatry is intolerable. It was His way of preserving Israel’s spiritual health and posterity. God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God.

    On what basis, I wonder? If god is all-knowing, then he must know that the babies (for example) would’ve been too young to even know their parents culture. If that was his reason, you’d think he’d have told the Israelites to keep the children and raise them as their own, like the “foreigner among you,” so that they could be loyal to god. At the very least.

    And it gets even more interesting!

    Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

    Did you get that? It’s okay for men to kill children (because god told them to) because the children go to heaven when they die, anyway!

    Does he not realize that we could justify anyone killing for pretty much any reason, as long as they think god was telling them to do it, on this basis? Even if the person being killed is innocent, at least they go to heaven, right? And according to Mr. Craig, they are “happy to quit this earth for Heaven’s incomparable joy.” It brings to mind the images of European settlers smashing Indian infants’ heads against rocks, doing them a “favor” by killing them “so they could go to heaven.”

    I’m going to go get some pizza or something so I can come back and see if anyone has a good explanation for this line of thinking.

    Reply
  23. Tim D. says:

    P.S.

    My bad, I didn’t put this phrasing right:

    Does he not realize that we could justify anyone killing for pretty much any reason, as long as they think god was telling them to do it, on this basis?

    It should say:

    “Does he not realize that we could justify anyone killing for pretty much any reason, as long as they think the right god was telling them to do it, on this basis?”

    Because he elaborates in the final paragraph (to paraphrase) that the problem with Islam is not their moral theology, but that they worship the wrong god. If they worshipped the right god, then killing on his behalf would be perfectly acceptable (as he defends is the case in the OT).

    Reply
  24. Luke says:

    Tim,

    The argument is pretty poor. You touch on this, but how exactly are adults going to assimilate into the culture of an infants parents?

    It’s a bizarre argument and a ludicrous one.

    Surely Dr. Craig has friends who have adopted babies from China or Africa. Has he seen these families learn Chinese customs from their 3 month old?

    I hope this is just a mistake on his part and not reflective of the quality of thinking Dr. Craig usually produces, because it’s nothing less than laughable.

    Reply
  25. edy says:

    I have a real big problem with the so-called “free” will. Did we have a choice about being born under the curse of sin and death? Do infants “choose” to bond to their mothers, or is that the only option open to them? If we see only limited opportunities, how can we freely choose the best for our life? No, I’m convinced that we might think we can choose rightly, but apart from God we can do nothing. We will know the Truth and the Truth shall set us free. Freedom comes because of what Emmanuel has done for us, not from our willing it. Jesus either “finished” it at the cross, destroying the works of the devil, or He failed in His mission, which means we are all doomed. I just find it schizophrenic to think that since in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive means that He still left it up to us to choose between the two. Adam’s sin is certainly not more powerful than Christ’s redemption. “Free” will puts the cart before the horse. Jesus never fails! We fail all the time because we had no choice in the first place.

    Reply
  26. Toby R says:

    “In the classic sense, you need philosophy to argue for anything, including atheism.”

    What do you mean by “in the classic sense”.

    “What do you mean by “philosophy”?”

    I’m not a philosophy expert by any means. I think perhaps I was alluding to the intuitions that theists base their “philosophy” on. Intuitions are strongly colored by the worldview one is brought up and/or born into. That’s not to say that these things can’t change. I’ve been watching/listening to a lot of atheist vs theist debates and something struck me about william lane craig debates in which he uses the cosmological argument. He’s said that his first premise, “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” And that this is “strongly intuitive” and “experiential.” This is a leap of faith. You might call it intuitional fallacy or argument from intuition.

    I liken it to someone presented with Newtonian Gravity and general relativity. Relying on intuition someone might invoke occam’s razor. Newtonian Gravity is simpler and works, therefore it is correct. Intuition leads astray.

    It’s like theists build philosophical frameworks based on intuition and then in these debates (which we all know are never really won and never solve anything) the atheists waste time attacking parts of this framework rather than the underlying intuition.

    “everything that begins to exist has a cause,” a theist might say, then using a debating trick will add, “I think we all agree on that.” But it’s consistently not pointed out that this only applies to existing matter. We agree that two fusing atoms of hydrogen can cause a atom of helium to come into being, but the huge leap of faith/intuition comes when someone is asked, “how is hydrogen made without matter that already exists?” In short, what do we know about causation from nothing? Not one single thing. Intuitions are often quite wrong. I’ve never heard anyone ask in a debate why it’s ever even assumed that there can be “nothing.” there is no experiential history that even shows that that is even possible, only intuition based on nothing.

    Reply
  27. Tim D. says:

    So, Mr. Turek (or anyone else), just curious — any thoughts on Obama getting Osama bin Laden in just over two years when Bush couldn’t get him in 8?

    Reply
  28. Tod K says:

    To Sam Daniels:
    I am definitely no master of apologetics, but I’ll take a stab at your query of culpability for original sin. At birth and throughout youth, you are not held accountable. Until you attain such an age that you can reason and understand the differences between that which is acceptable and that which is not, you are not culpable not held accountable. However, at the precise moment the light goes on, you stand responsible for all that ensues.

    I wish you all the best in your pursuit of truth. It is there and will be revealed to you. You are still responsible for the choices you make and how you deal with the truth revealed.

    Reply
  29. Tod K says:

    To Tim D.

    It sounds like you wish to get into a political discussion. I won’t bite. But I will state my feelings on Osama’s death.

    While I am thankful that bin Ladens death means he will no longer be around to plan his evil schemes on the rest of society, I never the less feel somber. Any time that satan wins a soul to hell, it is not a good time to celebrate. I would hope my brothers and sisters in Christ would feel likewise.

    Reply
  30. Reggie says:

    Hi Tim, Thanks for the question regarding bin Laden. When I see man’s inhumanity to man, it makes me sad. (I’m black and was near a lot of racial violence where I was raised in Newark). As a young boy I could never feel comfortable around violence. In 1968 I was drafted and was around a lot of death. I never felt good or satified the way I did when our church was feeding the poor and I was blessed. I was surprised when they got bin Laden…and our President accomplished what Bush couldn’t. .President Obama as Commander and Chief should get full credit as the executive. Our president was very proud to announce that “justice was done”. and that was really a phrase I expected from George Bush….When you live a long time and see the things we humans do for our “justice”, or our political party or our capitalism here on earth, it makes me feel sad for the missed opportunities of expressing love. I hate war and I hate death, no matter who, no matter why….Man’s best wisdom and her two major partys have achieved the situation she is now in now. This video hit a nerve with me. Strife and envy have caused most every conflict there is, and until men quit being greedy,….. love God and their neighbor as themselves these things will continue.

    Reply
  31. Tim D. says:

    This video hit a nerve with me. Strife and envy have caused most every conflict there is, and until men quit being greedy,….. love God and their neighbor as themselves these things will continue.

    You should know, then, that at least a sizeable portion of violence happens on behalf of those who “love god” at least as much as — if not more than — their “neighbors.” I don’t think “love of god” would be a very good recommended solution for violence such as that against women (or Jews) in the middle east.

    Reply
  32. Sam Daniels says:

    To Tod K:

    Thanks for your reply. As a former evangelical fundamentalist, I now instead use empiricism, logic, and reason to examine the assumptions of myself as well as others before I begin to listen to their talking points. I was reared being brain-washed with the idea that I stood guilty (age really plays no role here, unless, of course, someone dies as an infant or young child) before a “perfect” God who could not let me into his holy heaven because I was “stained” by Adam and Eve’s Sin.

    Since I had no Free Will (i.e. — “choice”) over the fact of my own birth, nor did I have any input into the events in the Garden of Eden, I cannot logically be held accountable. My “God-given sense of Justice” informs me thus. (C.S. Lewis). Therefore I am not culpable. I cannot be “eternally condemned” for sins which I have actually committed over a finite period of time. Again — my innate sense of Justice makes this clear to me. I am afraid this is the Truth I have discovered during the past 62 years here. I don’t know that anything will ever change this view, but as always I am open to new information.

    But supposing the fundamentalists are correct, I shall die and go to hell. This will, however, not be Fair, and it will not be Just. My hope is that at the very least God shall make it clear how this can happen to people such as myself, who have lived their entire lives asking “how and why?’

    Reply
  33. Toby R. says:

    “(age really plays no role here, unless, of course, someone dies as an infant or young child)”

    Where is this stated in the bible? And it brings up a side issue. If adam and eve were the first people, then how could they be held accountable? Obviously they didn’t have sufficient knowledge to know what would happen to them. Their intellect was probably little better than children.

    Reply
  34. Sam Daniels says:

    There is no chapter and verse in the Bible which flatly states that infants and children are not culpable regarding their “sins”. However, this is a widely held view in Christian theology.

    And that’s part of my problem. Logic doesn’t apply here. Reason goes out the window. Faith trumps experience. Christian apologists want their cake and eat it too. If there is such a thing as “original sin” — courtesy of Adam & Eve — then we are all “stained”. But if there is actual Justice, we cannot logically be held accountable. That’s what’s known as “guilt by association”. In this sense, we are all just the same as infants. I would love to believe. But I need for things to make sense first.

    Reply
  35. Tim D. says:

    If there is such a thing as “original sin” — courtesy of Adam & Eve — then we are all “stained”. But if there is actual Justice, we cannot logically be held accountable.

    I see it slightly differently; I see it as:

    – ) if humans, for whatever reason, can be said to “deserve hell” in any objective sense (even if that sense is actually only subjective but steeped in god or “his nature”);
    – ) if god exists and is infinitely or perfectly just (i.e. he always, without exception, gives people what they deserve, whether immediately or eventually);
    -) then it can be easily and simply inferred from the above facts that humans cannot be saved from hell, by Yahweh or Jesus or anyone else.

    The common refutation I hear to this line is that “Jesus took advantage of a loophole in god’s system” to save humans. But then, that would seem to violate the spirit of god’s laws, wouldn’t it? That would make his original laws decidedly imperfect and arbitrary, if all it takes is a loophole to get out of serving your “just sentence.” This raises several other interesting questions:

    1) Was Jesus not evil, then, for taking advantage of a loophole to violate the spirit of god’s law and “save” humans? Humans deserve hell; he caused them to not get what they deserved, so he violated god’s “justice.”

    2) If god’s will can be so easily taken advantage of to serve mortal purposes, then how is it not arbitrary?

    3) If god left the loophole on purpose because he knew Jesus would take advantage of it, then why bother with it in the first place? Why not simply create humans without sin, or just forego the need for blood sacrifice?

    Just my two cents. Back to doing random Friday afternoon stuff 🙂

    Reply
  36. Sam Daniels says:

    I am not a Christian apologist (and Dr. Turek seems aloof), but as I was instructed in the faith, Jesus was/is “God incarnate” — one-third of the Holy Trinity. His death (as a perfect, sin-less human/god) was enough to “satisfy” a perfect God who demands either perfection or atonement (“at-one-ment”) in order to get into his heaven. Nothing less than blood sacrifice will do. We moderns have trouble with these concepts, but must remember they come from ancient peoples.

    Adam & Eve DID start out as “perfect”, but then they allowed themselves to be tempted and sinned. Now we all must “pay”. This is not fair, nor logical according to my “innate sense of Justice”, or conscience, or “spark of the Divine” — whatever you want to call it — which supposedly comes from God.

    We are imperfect beings living in an imperfect world. From the beginning of recorded history we have had to explain evil (famines, floods, earthquakes, murder, rape, theft, and the greatest evil of all — death and whatever might lay beyond). So we have always had gods above to help us. We have always worshiped and prayed to them, and sought their favor. It is only natural for us to want them “on our side”.

    Christians are fond of pointing to the uniqueness of their faith by noting the many features of both their religion and their Mother religion (Judaism). But if you study history with a truly open mind, you can find earlier religions which had many, if not all, of the same elements, including One God, a great flood, human and animal sacrifice, a devil and evil, a virgin birth, and a savior. I suggest a study of Zoroastrianism, which pre-dates Abraham and Moses by 1,500 years.

    Reply
  37. Tim D. says:

    Adam & Eve DID start out as “perfect”, but then they allowed themselves to be tempted and sinned

    I still have a problem with that. For one, if perfect beings can choose to sin, then that means god himself can choose to sin. So either god can’t choose to sin (because he’s perfect), and therefore neither could “perfect” humans, or god *is* perfect, and perfection consists of the able choice between sin and “not sinning” — and along with this comes the seemingly inescapable conclusion that therefore, god must be able to choose to sin.

    This line of reasoning, taken in with the “moral arguments” defining morality as god’s will, turns a god-given view of morality into something decidedly arbitrary (because he could easily choose to do something else).

    Reply
  38. Tim D. says:

    Seriously? Freakin’ sweet!

    Holy crap, you’re serious! This just made my day. This is like, the best weekend EVAR! Thanks Mr. Toby.

    (I’m excited about other things, too….don’t think I’m THAT reclusive….:D)

    Reply
  39. Toby R. says:

    Tim, what did you think of debate? The more debates I watch with Craig in them the more I start to think that his goal is to overwhelm with obfuscating jargon, debate tactics, and unprovable arguments. Notice how the majority of the time he goes first in debates. I think I read that he got to choose to go first in the debate with Sam Harris. That allowed him to pretty much set the rules for the rest of the debate.

    At least in this debate we got to see Craig take on some real cosmology and I think he did it poorly. He used quotes by well known physicists and I believe one was about Stephen Hawking’s Hawking-Hartle model. Come on. That’s like 70’s/80’s stuff and theorized that the universe was closed, not open as now intimated by observation. I think someone going into a debate with him should watch all of it old debates, find the quotes he science quotes he uses most, and expose why they were wrong in light of new information.

    Reply
  40. Luke says:

    I watched the debate. William Lane Craig is much more of a salesperson than an academic. He makes many points which are poorly thought out, but I rarely see him get called on it.

    Three questions I would ask him off the top of my head:

    1. You say that G-d is not contingent and exists because it is necessitated by His nature. You also say the universe is contingent, thereby stating that it does not exist because of it’s nature. To make this statement you would need to know and understand the nature of the universe. (Otherwise the nature of the universe may be more complex than we can fathom, and it is entirely possible it exists by a necessity in a way we don’t understand.) Since you must know it: what, Dr. Craig is the nature of the universe?

    2. You say that an infinite number of events cannot exists. Yet, now that G-d has created the universe, it will exist unless G-d makes it cease. Unless G-d does this — ends the universe — it will exists infinitely into the future, which you say in impossible. What force will compel G-d to destroy the universe and when might this force compel Him to do it?

    3. Isn’t the idea that a particle can exist in two places at once break similar rules of logic you claim prevent actual infinities?

    4. You say that the universe came to be out of nothing? How do you know the nature and scientific values of this nothing? If the universe we know came out of a vacuum of non-material energy and brought with it the beginning of space-time, how would this appear different to us? That is, how do you know the “nothing” from which the universe emerged is like the “nothing” you describe and not like the various “nothings” Dr. Krauss described?

    I would call the debate a draw in the end.

    As far as the argument from morality, I’ve been thinking about it a lot in light of the killing of Bin Laden. (One thing that made me think about this is the partially fake Martin Luther King quote which became so popular on Twitter and Facebook last week.)

    The whole theory seems to me built upon a faulty foundation. If indeed everyone agreed on moral questions, I think it would be a powerful theory, but that’s not the truth. So instead, proponents take in evidence which supports the theory and completely ignore evidence to the contrary.

    So child rape is included as powerful evidence, but abortion which splits people, is not.

    Genocide is included, but capital punishment is not.

    The predictive power of the theory is just so weak, as to be laughable.

    If I posit that there are objective moral values and everyone has a moral intuition which leads them to know these OMV, then I would expect there to be a lot of moral agreement in the world, but there is not.

    There are a handful of things we all agree upon, but there are as many, if not more on which we disagree. It blows away the entire hypothesis.

    It’s really just a appeal to emotion; we want to be able to say “Hitler was wrong — objectively, unequivocally, clearly, inarguably wrong.”

    “You want to say that” says the proponent “you HAVE to HAVE G-D.”

    Anyway, just some random thoughts.

    A social theory of morality, can easily account for the morphing and changing of moral values through the millennia (and the decades) and seems a much better fit for the data we have.

    Luke

    Reply
  41. Toby R says:

    “Unless G-d does this — ends the universe — it will exists infinitely into the future, which you say in impossible.”

    He’d just say that future infinity isn’t the issue, it’s that it’s not past infinite.

    “4. You say that the universe came to be out of nothing? How do you know the nature and scientific values of this nothing?”

    Yeah, he should be asked to clarify his definition of nothing. And then explain how he reasons that “nothing” is even possible. “Nothing” doesn’t seem to exist in the “philosophical sense” he uses. It’s the old question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” The two follow up questions should always be can there be nothing and why should nothing be the default state of things rather than something.

    “It’s really just a appeal to emotion; we want to be able to say “Hitler was wrong — objectively, unequivocally, clearly, inarguably wrong.””

    I think the big problem with the moral argument is what Craig alluded to the difference in moral semantics, moral epistemology, and moral ontology. It has to be grounded in something . . . says who? What observed phenomena in this world leads to morality being grounded in anything but culture?

    Reply
  42. Luke says:

    Toby said:He’d just say that future infinity isn’t the issue, it’s that it’s not past infinite.

    Then he doesn’t answer the question. If a future infinity is possible, but a past one is not, then what is the logic behind that? He states that the problem is infinity — it’s infinity that is impossible. This is what he’d be saying:

    1. infinities are impossible
    2. Future infinities are possible

    Sorry, that doesn’t work.

    Toby said:

    He claims that he is the one using a true definition of nothing, but his claim is also not a true nothing. If G-d exists, then something exists — which is not nothing.

    This is aside from the larger point, that science doesn’t tell us there was some philosophical nothing prior to the big bang. Simply that there was no timespace as we know it in this universe before the big bang. It does not preclude the kinds of nothings Dr. Krauss talked about.

    Toby said:[Dr. Craig claims that morality] has to be grounded in something.

    That’s my point, it has to be grounded in order to make ourselves feel better emotionally. All things else being equal, who would you rather be? The guy who can say “Hitler was wrong, according to the contemporary views of my society” or the guy who can say “Hitler as absolutely, unequivocally and objectively evil and wrong.”

    I want to be the second guy. Even if you personally don’t, do you admit that most people probably do? That’s why it’s an emotional argument, and a good one.

    As I said, as a predictive theory it fails miserably. Even in crucial situations such as life and death — people disagree. Look at the death penalty, it’s largely supported in the US, but largely opposed in Europe. A societal theory deals with this much more aptly than a objective morality theory.

    Reply
  43. Luke says:

    Sorry, the second Toby said, is not what you said, but my comments.

    That was a response to your comment on Dr. Craig’s view of nothingness.

    Reply
  44. DrIrene says:

    We forget that God challenges us with experiences designed to help us grow more like Him. Pain is necessary to perfect character, assuming we choose to use it that way.

    I was a psychologist first. Much later I became a Christian. The Bible is an extraordinary mental health manual! The Bible directs us to take responsibility, master self-control, and do so with Godliness. In other words, to make God proud!

    In my view the Original Sin “problem” is part and parcel of our Human legacy. Yes, we had no say in Adam and Eve’s actions. But what a gift of free will God gave us in return!

    Yes, we had no choice whether or not we would be born, or to whom. Yet life is a gift given to us by God! We can choose to ungratefully trash that gift or to cherish it.

    Pain is a part of life. Through pain we grow. We can use life’s pain to help us become more Godly, or more resentful, sullen, etc. Our choice.

    My job is to help people become mindful (vs. rote) of the choices and consequences attached to decision points, both big and small.

    When we choose to live our lives in ways consistent with the Bible, we feel blessed. When instead we opt to “win,” we feel a short-lived, empty thrill.

    To me, it’s a no brainer.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *