Why Do the Innocent Suffer?

The only completely innocent person in the history of humanity suffered for a greater good– the salvation of you and me.  Trust in Him this resurrection day.  If you never choose to do so, God will not force you into Heaven against your will.  He will respect your choice and leave you alone, apart from Himself and everything good, for all eternity.  If you do trust in Him, you will discover what you were created for– to know Him and enjoy Him and His creation forever!

 

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120 replies
  1. Tom Hillson says:

    A couple things I’ve always had some trouble understanding with what you said:

    (1) Since God created the world and knew how it would turn out, how can you say He is completely innocent? If I let my 3-yr-old loose in a china shop without supervision, and he breaks some stuff, how would I be completely innocent?

    (2) Who really would NOT wish to go to heaven, outside of the ignorant or mentally insane?

    Reply
    • rallenewing says:

      We cannot lean on our own understanding. Our lot is to trust in God’s infinite knowledge. God is not the author of evil. There is a greater purpose at work, which our limited consciousness cannot possibly grasp. On balance, His creation, while not devoid of evil, leads to the greatest possible good. “There is a light in the world, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

      Reply
      • Toby says:

        If a god is responsible for creating the universe, then the god is responsible for everything in it. Before the universe = no evil. Created universe contains evil. Hence had a god not created a universe, then evil would not exist. So ultimately the god is responsible for creating evil and we can’t be blamed for it.

        Reply
        • rallenewing says:

          And without His loving kindness, we would never have been created, and we would not be standing here judging our own creator and Father. If we are to have true free will, we must have the option to choose evil over good. Else we are just automatons. Of course, in His perfect foreknowledge, He was aware of this. In that sense, you are correct. But from His perspective, there is a larger good that justifies His act of creation. It is not His will that there be evil. But, perhaps there is no way to accomplish His purpose without it? We should consider the possibility that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”

          Reply
  2. Sambahat says:

    I’m admittedly struggling in this area. Would the children who die from abortion not be considered I no innocent?

    Reply
  3. Terry L says:

    (1) Since God created the world and knew how it would turn out, how can you say He is completely innocent? If I let my 3-yr-old loose in a china shop without supervision, and he breaks some stuff, how would I be completely innocent?

    You’re comparing apples to oranges. It would be closer to say that you leave your 21 year old son in a china shop and he robs the place. Are you then responsible for his actions? No! He’s morally responsible for his own actions at that age.

    It is certainly irresponsible to allow 3 year old kids to be alone in a china shop, and the Bible strongly hints that children and others who are not capable of judging morally are not condemned. And remember, Genesis doesn’t say that God created Adam as a 3 year old. Adam was created as a grown, morally-responsible being. He was given one single commandment, and he couldn’t even keep that one.

    Toby’s syllogism…

    Before the universe = no evil.
    Created universe contains evil.
    Hence had a god not created a universe, then evil would not exist.
    So ultimately the god is responsible for creating evil and we can’t be blamed for it.

    contains a false conclusion. God created men with freedom of choice, because without the freedom to hate, love cannot exist. Men chose to walk away from God. Evil is the absence of God… just as darkness is not a thing in and of itself… it is the absence of light. Men walked away from God. Evil is what happens as a natural consequence of rejecting God.

    And by the way Toby… I thought you didn’t believe in evil! 😉

    2) Who really would NOT wish to go to heaven, outside of the ignorant or mentally insane?

    Christopher Hitchens (along with a few posters on this board) have openly stated that going to Heaven to be with the Christian God while knowing that other humans were in Hell for rejecting him would be a Hell to them.

    I attribute this mostly to your first condition… an ignorance of what they are truly saying. Hitchen’s statement was based on the lie that God sends men to Hell. He doesn’t. Jesus paid the ultimate price so that men wouldn’t have to go to Hell, but he will not override their freedom of choice and force them into Heaven. If you’ve heard the message of the Gospel, and you reject Jesus, then you choose Hell. There is simply no other middle ground. If you don’t want Jesus in this life, you won’t want him in the next. But life without him, as stated above, is to be in a condition of total evil. That’s what awaits those who reject him. An existence with no goodness, no love, no compassion. Whether the flames are literal or not, this is the true torment!

    Reply
    • Tom Hillson says:

      Toby,

      You’re right about my analogy being a poor one. Using a 21-yr-old in the china shop would’ve been a much better analogy.

      But I still see many differences with the Garden of Eden that don’t seem what God did to be fair. He created Adam and Eve without their permission. Then he created rules for them that they must follow or pay dire consequences. How is this fair? Let me try to make another analogy. If I could create a bunch of beings which could feel pain, and then I made a set of rules that they must follow or suffer unending torture, is this just? Wouldn’t it be sadistic, unless I gave each of these creatures CLEAR rules (unlike God) that were spelled out repeatedly (unlike God) throughout their lives, spelled out to their 5 senses (unlike God), and made my existence entirely evident to their senses (unlike God)?

      Hitchens didn’t object to going to heaven, not the heaven of the Bible at least. From your description, he rejected a false idea of heaven. There’s no way to feel bad in heaven for people who are in hell because the Bible says there will be no tears or sorrow in heaven. If Hitchens knew that, he wouldn’t have that objection of his. No sorrow or tears means no distaste for that heaven.

      Toby’s objection is still valid, is it not? If God didn’t create man or angels, there would exist no evil. So He IS responsible for evil, from that argument.

      Reply
      • Sam says:

        The bible calls you a fool – plain and simple. Psalms 14:1 says the fool has said in his heart, (there is) no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. It’s not a question whether there is a God or what that God is like. The point clearly is you say No, God! That’s what God says. Proverbs 9:10 says the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. You see, everything man thinks they know outside of God is foolishness. I love apologetics to be able to provide answers, but the bible also says Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like him (Proverbs 26:4). In other words, as long as you are deliberately rejecting the God of the bible, there is no point to reason with your reasoning. Scripture says that it is not God’s will that any should perish; furthermore, he has paid the price for us. You are spiritually blind, but God can open your eyes if you are willing. You are not the first in mankind to question or reject God. Paul encountered many Greek philosophers during his time and wrote some power words starting around Acts 17:18.

        Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “…have openly stated that going to Heaven to be with the Christian God while knowing that other humans were in Hell for rejecting him would be a Hell to them”

      Not quite. I said that no decent person could be happy on heaven knowing they had loved ones suffering eternally. I said that you’d have to be a monster to be happy in that situation.

      Reply
    • Martin says:

      Toby, a 21 year old in a china shop is a better analogy, but I don’t see how this 21 year old is significantly different than a 3 year old would be.

      In order for your analogy to be even more accurate, you have to handicap the 21 year old with a built in flaw or weakness. A morally healthy 21 year old would not rob the china shop. A physically healthy 21 year old would not break any china on purpose. A morally inadequate one might do either.

      Given that the first two people to exist demonstrated moral inadequacy at the first test of their moral character, I think we can conclude that there was a design flaw which resulted in a 100% failure rate. For both of them to have willingly and with full understanding sinned against God is a stretch. Did they not want Heaven? Were they not already in a Heaven of sorts…. paradise on Earth? If so, we would have to assume that they weren’t impressed by their environment, much like Lucifer wasn’t very impressed with his environment and life with God.

      The events in the Garden of Eden strongly hint that Adam and Eve were not capable of judging morally. I’d say that it is more than likely that they were ill prepared for the task they were given…. to live as pure and holy as God himself. I’d say that this was irresponsible and an absurdly high expectation on God’s part.

      Reply
  4. Toby says:

    “contains a false conclusion. God created men with freedom of choice, because without the freedom to hate, love cannot exist.”

    Are you saying that god isn’t free? I’m sure you’ll say that he is perfect good, or his nature is perfect good, or whatever, but this would imply that he’s not free to do anything other than good. Sort of implies that a deity wouldn’t have freedom if it didn’t have the ability to do anything outside of it’s nature. If it is perfectly good and cannot do evil, it creates a universe in which evil happens (or things happen that we conceive to be evil), and this deity has morally sufficient reasons to allow these things to happen, then our idea of evil is false. A perfectly good being that is supposedly far beyond us and allows things to happen because it is ultimately good and in line with it’s nature could never allow evil.

    This makes the deity a strange puppet master that gives us the illusion of evil for reasons that only the deity can conceive, but are ultimately good because the deity can do nothing otherwise.

    Reply
  5. Terry L. says:

    >> this would imply that he’s not free to do anything other than good.

    How would you define “good” in this case? To what standard can you hold God? If there is another standard, then that standard would be God.

    Your question assumes a God that can change. That’s not the classical Christian perception of God. He is described as a changeless, immutable being. Only a changeless being can serve as a standard for morality.

    So he isn’t “not free” to do anything other than good… it’s not in his nature to do anything other than good, and he, unlike us, consistently behaves in accordance with his nature… even though sometimes we don’t understand what he’s doing because of our limited knowledge and experience.

    Our children sometimes have that same lack of understanding with our actions as parents… that doesn’t make us wrong because we act according to our greater knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Indeed, to do otherwise would be to behave like children!

    >>our idea of evil is false

    I would probably agree with you on this… What is your idea of evil?

    >>A perfectly good being that is supposedly far beyond us and allows things to happen because it is ultimately good and in line with it’s nature could never allow evil.

    Non sequitor. You overlook the case where allowing some evil to exist is the only way to the achieve a certain good. As I’ve stated, love simply cannot exist without the freedom not to love. But the Bible describes God as love, so if we as humans use our freedom to not love, we have taken a step away from God, and therefore toward evil.

    If you disagree, please describe how love can exist in any meaningful form without freedom not to love.

    Would a good God then force us to love? Or rather, could he do so? No. Coerced love is not love at all… it’s something akin to rape.

    So to your question, “Are you saying that god isn’t free?” I actually thought a lot about this question in college. I believe that God is free from coercion; he has no external constraints that force him to love us. However, love comes naturally to him, and he is also free of any constraint that would prevent him from doing what comes naturally.

    That’s why his character is the standard. He created this universe, and he designed it to be compatible with his nature. Life works best when we live according to God’s nature. However, he made us in his image, and we are free from constraints that prevent us from loving others, or that force us to love. Unfortunately, we chose (and choose) to be unloving, and thus we reject God.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “If there is another standard, then that standard would be God.”

      No it wouldn’t. Calling a standard ‘God’ suggests that the standard has a personality, will, etc. I guess you can stick the label ‘God’ on anything you want, but it wouldn’t have the meaning most people attribute to the word.

      “Would a good God then force us to love? Or rather, could he do so? No. ”

      So your God is subject to a law that he can’t force people to love. Therefore, by your logic, we must call that law ‘God’ instead.

      Reply
  6. moose says:

    terry-

    you say “if you’ve heard the message of the gospel and you reject jesus, then you choose hell”

    this is absurd and obscene. i have been a christian most of my life but i reject it now–2000 plus years ago a virgin gives birth to a magic carpenter, he goes around performing amazing miracle, gets killed and comes back to life. i reject that by using logic, common sense, rationale, etc–i reject it cuz it is just not believable—–i choose to reject to reject a story that makes no sense—-so am i going to hell because i used my mind to think clearly, rationally, logically???

    Reply
  7. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I am trying to understand your description of the gospels here.

    What is heaven in your view?
    What is hell?
    Who is it that decides our fate?

    You say that if one “chooses” hell, G-d will simply “leave -one- alone.” This seems very counter-biblical to me (but perhaps I misunderstand).

    Here are some NT descriptions of hell (NASB):

    Matthew 25: “into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”

    Luke 16 mentions the rich man’s torment and records him saying: “send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.”

    You speak of being left alone; the gospels speak of torture.

    Similarly, you put the ultimate power in man, leaving him with the choice and ultimate power in creation. The Bible does otherwise, telling us that the power lies with G-d.

    From Romans 9 (NASB): For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on G-d who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

    (emphasis mine)

    I ask this question, and hope you will find the time to answer: What if G-d, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.

    What if?

    Thank you for your time and I hope you are well.

    Luke

    Reply
  8. Terry L says:

    No it wouldn’t. Calling a standard ‘God’ suggests that the standard has a personality, will, etc.

    You’re exactly right, Stephen. Can you explain how any impersonal object or force would care about “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “evil”? Morality is all about what we “ought” to do. Only a person cares about that.

    Standards have to be what they define. A standard of an inch, or a meter must have a length. A standard of a kilogram must have mass. So how could a standard of behavior be an inanimate object without behavior? Behavior implies will… it seems most illogical that a moral standard could be anything other than a person!

    The standard isn’t a set of rules. Yes, the Bible describes moral behavior in rules… how else would a written work do so? But the law (Ten Commandments) was not given in the Old Testament to bring life, but to show us exactly how sinful we are, and to drive us to the savior.

    So your God is subject to a law that he can’t force people to love. Therefore, by your logic, we must call that law ‘God’ instead.

    This isn’t a law, it’s a logical impossibility. It is impossible to create a circle with four equal sides with 90 degree internal angles… that’s the definition of a square, and squares are not circles. Not even God can do what is logically impossible. True love cannot exist without the freedom not to love… that’s a logical impossibility. So no, not even God can force someone to love him. If love isn’t freely given, it isn’t love at all.

    As I invited above, if you disagree, please describe how love can exist in any meaningful form without freedom not to love.

    Hello, Moose!

    Your comment strikes me as being very odd… you say you’ve been a Christian most of your life, yet you seem not to know common Christian doctrine. As a Christian, I take Jesus at his word when he says “if any man comes to the Father, he must come through me.” If the only way to get to Heaven is through Jesus (orthodox Christian doctrine), and there are only two places to end up when you die (another orthodox Christian doctrine), then the only logical outcome is that anyone who does not put his faith in Jesus for salvation is destined for hell.

    And no, you’re not going to hell because you used your mind to think… if you go to hell it will be because you were born dead… dead in “trespasses and sin”. Psal 58:3 says that we were “brought forth in iniquity”. We inherited our sin nature from Adam. Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, he came to make dead people live! He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” —John 10:1

    God never planned for men to go to Hell. Matthew 25 that Luke quotes above specifically states that hell was prepared for Satan and the fallen angels. But if we reject God, by rejecting his Son Jesus and the sacrifice he gave on Calvary, then God will respect our wishes not to have anything to do with him, and will separate us from himself forever.

    What exactly is obscene about God granting people what they want? If you don’t want to be with God, then he will, sadly, allow you to go your own way! But many want goodness without God, joy without Jesus. “God, I don’t want anything to do with you and Jesus, but you have no right to allow me to go to hell, because I don’t want to go to THAT kind of place!”

    But you see, you don’t get to say, “God, I want your Heaven, but I don’t want you!” That would be like me coming to your house and saying, “I want nothing to do with you, but I’m going to raid your fridge, watch your TV, take your money and your car, AND your wife, and we’re going to Vegas!” You would rightfully be very offended, and would probably show me the door in short order! Why do we think that we can do the same to God?

    But perhaps more importantly, I don’t find Christianity to be illogical at all. I find the philosophy of atheism to be much more illogical, inconsistent and unliveable. I highly recommend to you Dr. Turek’s book that he wrote with Norm Geisler, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. (No charge for the plug, Frank! You’re welcome!) In it, they step through a logical, step-by-step defense of the Christian faith. I have yet to see any reasonable counter-arguments that are powerful enough to destroy the case they make.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Not even God can do what is logically impossible”

      Then God is bound by the laws of logic, and we must therefore call those laws God, by your argument.

      Reply
      • Terry L says:

        You have it backward. Logic, like morality, exists because God exists. According to the Bible, mind came before matter. God existed with no time, space or matter. His mind provides the standard for logic; his character provides the standard for morality. He is not bound by logic, he defines logic.

        Reply
      • Terry L says:

        You have it backward. Logic, like morality, exists because God exists. According to the Bible, mind came before matter. God existed with no time, space or matter. His mind provides the standard for logic; his character provides the standard for morality. He is not bound by logic, he defines logic.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          No, my point stands – if he cannot do what is logically impossible then he remains bound by the laws of logic and therefore by your own argument we must call the laws of logic God, and call your God something else.

          Reply
          • Terry L says:

            Simply because if matter predates mind, all attempts to ground our ability to perceive logic fail. How do you get from a bunch of hydrogen atoms bouncing around to a rational mind capable of discussing abstract truths? It’s not difficult to do if mind (God) came before matter, but I’ve yet to see an convincing explanation of how non-supernatural processes can go from non-sentient cosmic dust to intelligent, logical humans.

            I know the standard “it’s a product of evolution that helps us to survive” argument. That seems very much to be an “it just is because it is” argument, and so is really no evidence at all that such a thing could happen.

          • Tom Hillson says:

            Terry,

            No, I’m not saying that matter predated mind. I’m saying that certain truths are independent of God. The inability of any being to create a square circle is independent of God, “greater than God” in some sense. It is greater than God in that God cannot violate that principle – He cannot create a square circle. It is a logical impossibility to create a square circle. God does not define logic here, God necessarily must adhere to logic of this sort.

            So that means then that logic of this sort, being “greater than God”, is a higher standard than God Himself, and thus God isn’t really God as you define it (the highest standard).

        • Terry L says:

          No, my point stands – if he cannot do what is logically impossible then he remains bound by the laws of logic and therefore by your own argument we must call the laws of logic God, and call your God something else.

          Stephen, if God defines logic, then you are saying that an inch is bound to be an inch. That doesn’t mean that an external force is forcing the inch to be an inch, it simply IS an inch by its nature.

          Are there not some things that you simply would not do by nature? Would you abuse, torture and murder your children? If you say no, then how is it so hard for you to conceive of a being who simply would not behave at any time in any way not in accordance with his nature? If you can do that as an inconsistent human, surely God can do it consistently and perfectly.

          God is logical and moral by nature. John’s gospel refers to Christ as the logos; literally, “the word”, but it means “reason”. It is logical to assume that a logical God would create a rational universe. What possible reason can you give for a non-directed principle producing any creature at all… much less a rational one?

          Evolution and natural selection don’t even apply until life is here, so once you overcome the hurdle of biogenesis without intelligence, then you have to create intelligence and reason from nothing. I submit that mankind, even by the oldest estimates, is not sufficiently ancient for that to have happened.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            “Stephen, if God defines logic”

            The laws of logic are subject to decree or someone’s definition? That makes no sense at all. God could reverse the law of non-contradiction? How would that would.

            “so once you overcome the hurdle of biogenesis without intelligence”

            Why is this a hurdle? Your own answer is just to saw that intelligent life was created by an even more intelligent life. This is known as a ‘sky hook’ argument.

            “I submit that mankind, even by the oldest estimates, is not sufficiently ancient for that to have happened.”

            How’d you work that out then?

  9. Luke says:

    Terry said: G-d never planned for men to go to Hell.

    The Bible said: What shall we say then? There is no injustice with G-d, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on G-d who has mercy… So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

    You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to G-d? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if G-d, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.

    Terry said: What exactly is obscene about G-d granting people what they want?

    Terry, it is also your contention that people do not desire to only be apart from G-d, but to be tortured in eternal flame? What if a person said: I do not wish to be with G-d, but wishes to not to be tortured by flame. Does G-d also grant them what they want?

    Why do you consider man to be the authority in the universe and not G-d?

    Think about how this would work. G-d didn’t raise up John the Baptist to do certain things G-d pre-ordained. Instead G-d was left waiting for someone to come along who “desired” to do all of those things. Luckily for us, at least, someone came along.

    This would just be silly, of course; G-d is the power in the universe and He creates us for His purposes, not ours.

    What is so wrong with G-d creating certain people for certain reasons (like His glory) and other people for other reasons (like His wrath)? This is after all what the Bible describes — not an impotent G-d beholden to the whims of man.

    But even if this were not Biblical, what would be wrong with it?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      Hello, Luke!

      I’ll revisit some of my key points, even though I’ve already said some of this. But before I do, I want to address some other questions.

      You’re promoting a Calvinistic position here that I obviously do not hold. I don’t mind having this conversation, although I would prefer another forum.

      First of all, please defend your assertion that God becomes impotent because he in his sovereignty gives man the freedom to choose. I will completely agree that God certainly has the power to force men to choose him, but it seems to me that such an action is remarkably juvenile, and I would not call such a choice “love”

      And thus, the second question, how do you define love without freedom? If you met a woman with a compulsion to tell every man she met “I love you”, would that mean as much as when your wife says it freely? The Bible describes the church as the bride of Christ. Personally, I want my wife to love me of her own free will, by her own choice; not because I force her to do so.

      Thirdly, how have I “consider[ed] man to be the authority in the universe and not G-d?” As a father, I am scripturally the final authority in my home. Am I less of an authority because I allow my children to make their own choices within limits? And even then, how do I force them to truly love me? Do I not win their love by being loving, kind, fair, while still exercising my authority when it is required?

      Fourthly, you ask, “What is so wrong with G-d creating certain people for certain reasons (like His glory) and other people for other reasons (like His wrath)?”, implying that men have no choice in their final destination. How then is God not the author of evil? What purpose to the wicked serve? How does God obtain glory by creating a creature doomed to an eternal torment with absolutely no chance of avoiding such a fate? Here, I’ll have to agree with my atheist friends on this board. Such a God seems to delight in the torture of beings created for that express purpose!

      Fifthly, why do you come to these boards? If God has already irrevocably determined the fate of the atheists who visit this board, then quite frankly, I’m wasting my time, and so are you. Nothing you or I (or they) can do will change their fate, and I have a family at home that I could be spending time with rather than being here trying to defend the truth of the Gospel to those who do not believe!

      And finally, what is your view on determinism? Is our entire lifetime pre-determined, or just our eternal destiny? If you say that our lives are pre-determined, then God is no more than a puppet-master. If we have freedom of choice in any other matter, but not in our eternal destiny, then you believe that God would give us freedom to choose… but not in the most important matter of all! Life then is a farce!

      It’s odd that I’ve never met anyone who believed in Calvinism who did not consider themselves to be one of the elect!

      Now, you specifically ask, “What if a person said: I do not wish to be with G-d, but wishes to not to be tortured by flame. Does G-d also grant them what they want?”

      As I told Moose,

      But you see, you don’t get to say, “God, I want your Heaven, but I don’t want you!” That would be like me coming to your house and saying, “I want nothing to do with you, but I’m going to raid your fridge, watch your TV, take your money and your car, AND your wife, and we’re going to Vegas!” You would rightfully be very offended, and would probably show me the door in short order! Why do we think that we can do the same to God?

      You can’t have God’s benefits without God. A person who wants that is not acting out of love for God, but out of selfishness and unrepentence. They’re like a criminal who says, “I want to rob banks, but I don’t want to go to jail!” The very thought is ludicrous!

      Men are not in charge. God made a way of escape, but it’s HIS way, not our way. You cannot be saved any way you want to be. Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) Men have tried all sorts of ways to get to God apart from Jesus, and they all will fail.

      2 Peter 3:9 says that God is patient with us… why should he be patient with US if HE has already determined what will happen?

      Reply
  10. moose says:

    terry,

    just to clarify, i am very familiar with christian doctrine (since i used to be one). i am probably more agnostic now, i just reject christianity-it makes no sense. there may or may not be a god–if there is a god–the most intellectually honest thing i can say is that i know nothing about that god, since no god has ever spoken to me in any way-until that happens i will continue to say i know nothing. but of course in the world of christianity there are so many (like mr turek on this site) who proclaim they know things about god—god’s will, god’s purpose, god’s nature, god’s character, etc, etc–to me that is just plain dishonest.

    i noticed of course how you quote bible, to be blunt, the bible means nothing to me–a book written by primitive, bronze aged cavemen–a book full of gross, repulsive stories of violence, contradictions, inconsistencies, fairy tales about a talking snake, a talking donkey, a mass murdering god, a god who advocates beating slaves (ex21), a god who says worship me or i will spread dung on your face (mal2)–one could go on and on forever about all this stuff. and this is a book that was divinely inspired by a perfect god???

    now on to jesus–who was he? it’s possible that he was a real person, what is the evidence that he was a divine being??? there is none. he was born to a virgin (really?), he performed all kinds of miracles (really?), he was killed and came back to life (really?) show me some real evidence that any of this stuff is true–other than some nonsense from that bible (remember that book that was divinely inspired by our perfect god). but to be serious, i am not knocking jesus–he may have been a real person, he may have been a “good” person with good ideas, i just won’t believe he was a divine being, the son of god till i see real evidence–and no one has that.

    as far as god goes–my mind is open to the possiblility, but again until “god” reveals him/her/itself, how can i say i know anything about that god????—i can’t.

    as far as i am concerned, heaven and hell are pure fantasies. the idea of hell is just plain sick, the idea of heaven, while maybe not sick is simply not believable.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      Moose,

      i am very familiar with christian doctrine (since i used to be one)

      I realize that you said so in your earlier post… but I have to wonder, since you seem surprised at my endorsement of basic Christian tenets whether you were simply a “cultural Christian”. I know many people who “go to church” that I would not call Christian–going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car. Here you say that “no god has ever spoken to [you] in any way”; so it seems you never considered yourself a “born-again” Christian.

      that is just plain dishonest.

      Why? How can you possibly know that they are being dishonest?

      as far as god goes–my mind is open to the possiblility, but again until “god” reveals him/her/itself, how can i say i know anything about that god????—i can’t.

      I’m curious… what sort of revelation are you looking for? What would it take to convince you that Christianity is true? And if you were convinced, would you become a Christian?

      Reply
  11. Tom Hillson says:

    Toby,

    You’re right about my analogy being a poor one. Using a 21-yr-old in the china shop would’ve been a much better analogy.

    But I still see many differences with the Garden of Eden that don’t seem what God did to be fair. He created Adam and Eve without their permission. Then he created rules for them that they must follow or pay dire consequences. How is this fair? Let me try to make another analogy. If I could create a bunch of beings which could feel pain, and then I made a set of rules that they must follow or suffer unending torture, is this just? Wouldn’t it be sadistic, unless I gave each of these creatures CLEAR rules (unlike God) that were spelled out repeatedly (unlike God) throughout their lives, spelled out to their 5 senses (unlike God), and made my existence entirely evident to their senses (unlike God)?

    Hitchens didn’t object to going to heaven, not the heaven of the Bible at least. From your description, he rejected a false idea of heaven. There’s no way to feel bad in heaven for people who are in hell because the Bible says there will be no tears or sorrow in heaven. If Hitchens knew that, he wouldn’t have that objection of his. No sorrow or tears means no distaste for that heaven.

    Toby’s objection is still valid, is it not? If God didn’t create man or angels, there would exist no evil. So He IS responsible for evil, from that argument.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      He created Adam and Eve without their permission.

      Er… how could he do otherwise… he’d have to create them to ask them if they wanted to be created, but he’d first have to ask permission…

      But this assumes that God is somehow subject to men. He’s not. He’s the God of the Universe. Part of our struggle with issues like this is that we don’t have a clear understanding of just who God is and who we are.

      Then he created rules for them that they must follow or pay dire consequences.

      One rule. He placed them in a beautiful garden, gave them life, peace, happiness, love, joy, fellowship, work that was enjoyable… and one single rule… and they couldn’t keep it. (And neither would we have done so, were we in the garden!)

      The tree wasn’t evil in and of itself. God could have picked out any tree at all, and said “don’t eat of it”, and it would have sufficed. The test was, do you love me enough to trust me… to do as I ask. They didn’t. And neither do we.

      If I could create a bunch of beings which could feel pain, and then I made a set of rules that they must follow or suffer unending torture, is this just?

      See my response to Luke, above. I think I cover this there.

      But I see this differently. God didn’t create us to send us to torment (not torture… there’s a difference. Hell is a place of torment, but not torture.) God created us to exist in a loving relationship with him. But he cannot force us to love… love cannot be forced.

      However, existence without God is Hell. I’ve said on these boards several times, even if the flames of Hell are literal, that won’t be the worst torment. Existence without God… without ANYTHING good will be the worst torment.

      I don’t think the rules are unclear at all. I don’t have time right now to build a list, but the scripture is pretty clear on what we must do to be saved. And I believe that Frank and Norm in the book I referenced above make a pretty clear case that the Bible can be trusted and is the Word of God.

      And no, Toby’s objection is not valid, because evil was not created. Evil is not a thing unto itself… it is the absence of God. When you walk away from God, by definition, you are moving towards sin. But for our love for God to be genuine, He must give us the freedom to move away from him. Once we’ve done so, it is not in our power to repair the damage we’ve done to that relationship.

      So Jesus came to pay our debt for us. In one single morning, he paid the price of spending an eternity without God multiplied by the number of every single human that has ever existed. Only an infinite God could pay that price for one man; Jesus did it for all! To reject such an offer of grace, purchased at such a terrible price, is the greatest evil of all!

      Reply
      • Tom Hillson says:

        Terry,

        I still claim Toby’s objection is valid. Before God created any creatures with a free will, there was no evil. No wills outside of God meant no evil existed. Then God created the angels and later man. Only then did free will exist, which led to bad choices, which is evil.

        So God is indeed responsible for evil, in the sense I just described.

        Reply
        • Terry L says:

          So God is indeed responsible for evil, in the sense I just described.

          Well, “in the sense that [you] just described, I agree with you.” But what sense is that?

          If you had an adult son that robbed a bank yesterday, then in this sense, you could say that your great-great-great-great-grandfather was responsible for the robbery. Had he had no children, then your son would not have robbed the bank. Does that mean that he was morally responsible? No.

          You are, of course, equally responsible. Should you be arrested as an accessory when you knew nothing of his plans? I hardly think so. You bear no moral responsibility for the crime, even though you were responsible for bringing into existence the one who is morally responsible.

          Ontological responsibility does not imply moral responsibility.

          Reply
  12. Toby says:

    God created men with freedom of choice, because without the freedom to hate, love cannot exist. Men chose to walk away from God. Evil is the absence of God… just as darkness is not a thing in and of itself… it is the absence of light.

    Did you know that there really isn’t darkness in this universe so that analogy is quite bad. Visible light is a frequency on the electromagnetic spectrum, just like other frequencies that we can’t see such as gamma rays, infrared, microwaves, etc. As long as the universe has a little heat of some kind floating around the universe well never be truly dark. Would this prove that there is no such thing as evil?

    The first person to conceive of and invent a firearm is responsible for all firearm deaths afterwards, just as your formulation of god is responsible for everything that happens in this universe. At least the firearm inventor could plead that it was not his/her intention that uncountable numbers have been murdered, but your all knowing god can’t even plead that.

    Non sequitor. You overlook the case where allowing some evil to exist is the only way to the achieve a certain good.

    Not at all. How do you justify calling something evil if in the end it achieves good? Would that not mean that what you’re calling evil is actually good? How does one add evils together or goods and evils together to make good? What’s the multiplication rules going on here? It seems like you could use this line of reasoning to justify anything. “Look, this woman was raped, but the baby she had from it turned out to be a much loved and world renowned architect . . . so that rape wasn’t so bad after all.”

    This isn’t a law, it’s a logical impossibility. It is impossible to create a circle with four equal sides with 90 degree internal angles… that’s the definition of a square, and squares are not circles. Not even God can do what is logically impossible. True love cannot exist without the freedom not to love… that’s a logical impossibility. So no, not even God can force someone to love him. If love isn’t freely given, it isn’t love at all.

    You sure like putting limits on what is supposedly a limitless being. Why must your god be bound to logic? Using non euclidean geometry we can have a triangle with 3 90deg angles. Do you not think that by warping space or adding dimensions we couldn’t make a square that looks like a circle?

    I can conceive of a better designed and more just universe than the one we live in, and still retain your idea of free will. Generally I think we all know evil boils down to pain or suffering brought about by conscious acts of a person(people) against another(others). So let’s imagine this world I’ve conceived. You’re free to do whatever you want just like now: hit someone, stab someone, lie to someone, steal, cheat on a loved one. The only difference in this world is that when you hit someone, when you stab them, when you cheat, it’s you that feels the pain and suffering, not the victim. You hit someone in the face, your nose breaks, not theirs. You cheat on your wife, you feel the shame and anger and betrayal. You stab someone, you die. Immediate, proportioned justice. Sounds like this would be a better world to live in.

    Reply
  13. Toby says:

    “One rule. He placed them in a beautiful garden, gave them life, peace, happiness, love, joy, fellowship, work that was enjoyable… and one single rule… and they couldn’t keep it. (And neither would we have done so, were we in the garden!)”

    There’s a potty mouthed video by darkmatter2525 on youtube that points out that man was designed to fail. You can watch it by clicking my name if you so desire. The video is called If Man Obeyed God. Interesting points.

    Reply
  14. moose says:

    terry,

    you say that we don’t have a clear understanding of just who god is, but yet you seem to have all this knoledge of god–so what is it? all the knowledge of god that you proclaim you have—where did you get it? did god speak to you?

    as far as what it would take for me to believe in christianity again–it would take something more than the (un)holy bible–i can’t get through the book of genesis without wondering if i should laugh or cry at all the nonsense on that book–talking snake, talking donkey, the sun stood still for a day, the mass murdering god, the god who advocates slavery and beating of slaves, the god who says worship me or i will s— on your face.

    tell me about jesus–supposedly god decides to send a messenger into the world–but only puts that messanger in 1 part of the world, and only at one time in history???? why???, he of course is born to a virgin—how did that happen??? does “god” expect anyone to really believe this??–all of the amazing miracles he performed—how did he do it, and goes god just expect all of of just to believe this without any evidence?? he is killed and came back to life–again are we expected to believe this without evidence? supposedly his death represents forgiveness from “god”. first of all i reject the idea that a god will pass judgement on us when we die–but evenn if this were true–what is the connection?–it’s as if god says i have to put a condition on forgiveness (and a strange one at that) we humans forgive without condition, why can’t “god”? if you punch me in the nose and say “i’m sorry”–i will forgive you in a second. why then is gods condition for forgiveness an act of barbaric violence–why does god have this strange fascination with blood and guts?? the other thing is this–if jesus had powers, etc-why didn’t he stop the crucifixation?–if i had supernatural powers and people are trying to kill me–i will flip a switch and stop them in their tracks so they can’t hurt me–why didnt jesus (or god) do this?

    i have asked the apologists on this site all these questions, but none of them has ever given any answer. maybe you can?

    but i walked away from christianity for many reasons–the bible (it is too intellectually insulting), the disgusting nature of the god of the bible, the way apologiists put their spin on things, many reasons–so as far as what it will take for me to go back–probably nothing

    Reply
  15. Luke says:

    Terry,

    I will be glad to answer all of your questions if you wish, though that would be a rather long reply (I don’t mind though, just let me know).

    You touch on something very interesting though, that may be more worthy of discussion.

    Let’s assume that I am correct and the scriptures I quoted are true.

    In your post then, you say that the one true G-d is juvenile and delights in torture.

    So, do you want to be with this G-d in the afterlife?

    Or would you choose the torture He so delights in?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  16. Martin says:

    Terry,

    You said “But for our love for God to be genuine, He must give us the freedom to move away from him.”

    Does this mean that God, at some point in his existence, was unable to experience genuine love? I’m thinking maybe when nothing existed and there was nothing he could move away from.

    Reply
  17. Terry L. says:

    Sorry so long guys, but there’s several of you and only one of me!

    Martin:

    You ask: Does this mean that God, at some point in his existence, was unable to experience genuine love? I’m thinking maybe when nothing existed and there was nothing he could move away from.

    Not at all, but you ask a very important question, because the Bible says that God is love!

    The Bible describes God as a triune being; one God consisting of three persons, namely, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. God’s triune nature allows one person of the Godhead to love the other two persons, without the definition of love collapsing into some sort of weird celestial narcissism. Yet, these three beings are of one essence. The Trinity is a difficult concept to understand, but it’s the only way to account for many scriptures, and it also makes sense of the claim that God is love.

    One might then ask, could one person of the Godhead choose to “move away” from the other two. My response would be that while it is technically “possible”, it is practically “impossible”. Though one might have the “ability” to do so, one never “would” do so, and therefore it is essentially an impossibility.

    This unwavering love is the standard demanded of us… and it is utterly impossible for us to meet that standard. But God doesn’t demand anything that he is not willing to do himself. He love us with that kind of love, and pursues a relationship with us even while we are yet sinners.

    Luke:

    You ask:

    In your post then, you say that the one true G-d is juvenile and delights in torture.

    So, do you want to be with this G-d in the afterlife?

    Or would you choose the torture He so delights in?

    Your question assumes that I believe that God is as you describe him. I do not.

    God as you describe him would not give me a choice anyway, so what difference does it make what I want? Why would Jesus have wept over Jerusalem if it was his will for those who would not come to him to perish in their sins? That seems rather schizophrenic!

    And what does it say to the non-believers on this board when you claim that if God wills them to perish, then there is nothing they can do about it? Should they be overly concerned over their eternal destiny when, if they are one of the elect, God will move Heaven and Earth in spite of themselves to bring them in? Why would God put his elect on this planet to suffer, unless he intends to work through them to convince others of the truth of the Gospel message?

    And for that reason, I will not discuss this further on this site. If you wish, perhaps one of the moderators will be kind enough to send you my email address; I will be happy to pursue this further, as time permits, via email, but this is a matter best discussed in a different forum.

    Toby:

    You said:

    Did you know that there really isn’t darkness in this universe so that analogy is quite bad. Visible light is a frequency on the electromagnetic spectrum, just like other frequencies that we can’t see such as gamma rays, infrared, microwaves, etc. As long as the universe has a little heat of some kind floating around the universe well never be truly dark. Would this prove that there is no such thing as evil?

    In other words, the presence of something (light/heat) keeps there from being nothing (darkness).

    What generates darkness? What generates cold? NOTHING! In our universe, that’s the natural state of things. Unfortunately, since man fell, evil is also the natural state of things. Think about it… we don’t teach our kids to be evil! They quickly figure out how to be selfish, vain, arrogant, rude. We have to work at teaching them to be virtuous.

    Your assertion actually agrees with me! Darkness is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of Good. Hell is a place where the presence and influence of God and of Good cannot be felt.

    The first person to conceive of and invent a firearm is responsible for all firearm deaths afterwards, just as your formulation of god is responsible for everything that happens in this universe.

    By what twisted logic? If you created a wonder drug that cured 47 kinds of cancer, would you be responsible for the death of a patient after a doctor intentionally overdosed them on that drug?

    Is the inventor of rope responsible for the lynchings of blacks in Southern American states after the Civil War, or was it the men who used the rope to tie the noose?

    Firearms can be used for good or evil. They are a tool. It is not the creator of the tool, but the wielder of the tool that is responsible for the use or abuse of the tool.

    And so it is with free will. God gave us free will so that we could experience giving and receiving love. Men misused the gift of free will to follow their own selfish desires. We misused the tool. If God had intervened to prevent misuse of our free will, then we would not have been free. That’s like telling your child, “you can take the car Saturday night and go anywhere you want to go”, but then you don’t give them the keys! That’s nothing but empty words, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!

    Using non euclidean geometry we can have a triangle with 3 90deg angles.

    Point taken. But the fact that you were compelled to specify “non-Euclidian geometry” shows that you understand that my analogy was taken from a Euclidean plane (although I admit I didn’t specify).

    Why must God be bound to logic? Well, to go waaaaay back to first principles, I believe that God is a logical being because we are logical beings. Atheistic evolution cannot ground the laws of logic; they must simply be assumed. Theists believe that logic exists because God is a God of order and reason.

    I can conceive of a better designed and more just universe than the one we live in, and still retain your idea of free will

    Ok… let’s stop right here for a minute. We’ll get to your proposed universe, but let’s examine this statement for awhile.

    You have claimed to believe that objective morality does not exist. Now you are claiming to have designed a “more just” universe. Frankly, Toby, I’m beginning to disbelieve your claim not to believe in objective morality!

    If objective morality does exist, then please tell us what this standard is so that we can evaluate your universe according to this standard and see how close you come.

    If objective morality does not exist, then all you have done is described a universe that is more to your liking. I might (and do) completely disagree that your universe is the best, and there is no objective standard to which either of us can claim to be closer! Therefore it’s all subjective… just a matter of opinion and an exercise in futility.

    Here’s a case in point: You said, “Generally I think we all know evil boils down to pain or suffering brought about by conscious acts of a person(people) against another(others).”

    I completely disagree. If someone accidentally runs me over and breaks my leg, I bear them no grudge, and I do not feel that they have done me wrong. If someone intentionally takes a shot at me with their pistol just to watch me die, then I feel wronged. The first situation resulted in pain and suffering; the second did not. Which do you find more evil?

    It seems to me that intent or motive is a critical component of evil–one that is sorely lacking in your definition.

    So in light of that, let’s examine your world:

    You hit someone in the face, your nose breaks, not theirs.

    Does your world consider why you hit them? Were they breaking in your house? Attacking your wife?

    You cheat on your wife, you feel the shame and anger and betrayal.

    This used to be the case in the United States, until our morality slipped away and infidelity is now glorified in our media and our culture. Would you sanction a return to Christian morality in our nation? You seem to embrace it here!

    You stab someone, you die. Immediate, proportioned justice.

    I suggest that your world is lacking a few attributes that I would rather not live without.

    Grace, for instance. Forgiveness. Mercy. Redemption. Restoration. All of these are lacking in your world. You do the crime (and you did not propose how you would ground morality in your world; you merely imported morality from ours), you are instantly punished. You’ve created a world with an authoritarian God who rules as a dictator and immediately punishes every transgression.

    Your definition of evil reduces sin to an action. God’s standard is higher than that. You would have a man judged and punished for cheating on his wife? God says, “If a man looks on a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery already in his heart!” There is no, “Look, don’t touch!” policy with God! It’s “Look, but don’t even THINK about it!” (And you’re probably better off not looking!)

    Sounds like this would be a better world to live in.

    Really?? You don’t like it when God has mercy for 800 years, then punishes the Canaanites for their sins against him. Why do you think you would like it better if justice were immediate?

    Reply
    • Martin says:

      Terry,

      You said “God is love!”
      What does that really mean? What does it mean to BE love? I mustn’t be like saying “I am human.” This statement is true. I am human because I am human. My experience is that of a human. I can say, “I am motivated.” This is a subjective statement, but it may be true for me. I cannot say, “I am motivation.” Likewise, we might say that God is loving, but what do you mean when you say God IS love? Love is immaterial. Would you say that God IS logic?

      Do you truly understand how the concept of the Trinity explains that God was able to experience genuine love by essentially loving himself (in a non-narcissistic way) in the absence of another? You stated that the Trinity is a difficult concept to understand. I agree entirely. But I assume that you do understand it since you’re using it to explain my earlier question.

      You stated: “This unwavering love is the standard demanded of us… and it is utterly impossible for us to meet that standard. But God doesn’t demand anything that he is not willing to do himself. He love us with that kind of love, and pursues a relationship with us even while we are yet sinners.”

      Is it fair to demand the impossible of someone? And what value is there in the idea that God doesn’t demand anything that he is not willing to do himself? Besides, it isn’t true that he doesn’t demand of us some things that he is unwilling and/or unable to do. Living with a sinful nature springs to mind.

      Reply
  18. Terry L. says:

    Moose:

    You are obviously very hostile to Christianity. I don’t know what has hurt you, but I sense a lot of pain or anger in your posts. I do take your objections seriously, as I hope you do also. Meaning this: if you’re dead set on NOT being a Christian, then there’s nothing I or any other Christian can say or do to convince you. You’re not willing to be convinced.

    This seems to me to be a very intellectually dishonest position. I’m not telling you should be a Christian in spite of the evidence, but because of the evidence. You claim there is no evidence? This makes me think that you really haven’t investigated the evidence for God’s existence! I challenge you then to read Dr. Turek’s book that I referenced above with an open mind. Then follow the evidence. If you’re going to be an atheist, at least know why, and understand what Christianity is REALLY saying. (I’ll give you a hint… it’s largely not what you describe above!)

    The book starts at the beginning… with the question “Does Truth exist?” and proceeds from there to build a logical case for the reliability and inspiration of scripture, and of Jesus as the Son of God. They go into much more detail than I can here, and there’s no point in me rewriting the book. But again, I challenge you to read it… then find me on here, and we’ll discuss any questions you have.

    I do want to address a couple of your statements now though. You said:

    “supposedly god decides to send a messenger into the world–but only puts that messanger in 1 part of the world, and only at one time in history????”

    You’re wondering why God wouldn’t make many ways to himself? The miracle is that he provided ONE way! He was not under any obligation to us to do so.

    “supposedly his death represents forgiveness from “god””

    Well, not exactly. His death paid the debt to God that you and I owed. A debt so large that only God could pay it, but one owed by mankind, so only a man could pay it. Jesus was that man… 100% human, and 100% God, and thus able to do both. His payment of our debt made it possible for us to be forgiven.

    if jesus had powers, etc-why didn’t he stop the crucifixation?

    And this, my friend, is why I say you could not have been more than a cultural Christian. This is the central tenet of the faith! If you don’t understand this, then you don’t understand Christianity!

    From the Old Testament to the New, the Bible speaks of Christ coming for that very moment in history.

    But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.–Isaiah 53:5

    Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin… –Isaiah 53:10a

    Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.–Mark 10:28

    He didn’t come to lord it over us… he came to Earth to die for us.

    “if i had supernatural powers and people are trying to kill me–i will flip a switch and stop them in their tracks so they can’t hurt me”

    But you just said:

    “we humans forgive without condition, why can’t “god”? if you punch me in the nose and say “i’m sorry”–i will forgive you in a second.”

    Let’s do a thought experiment: Let’s assume that God created a universe with just two (initially perfect) people, Bob and Tom. All of the moral laws and other conditions are the same as our universe.

    Everything is fine, until one day Bob and Tom come before God and Tom says, “God, Bob punched me in the nose today.” One thing is obvious…someone has sinned. Either Bob attacked Tom without provocation (assuming Tom was still perfect), Bob attacked Tom WITH provocation (meaning Tom sinned against him, and therefore against God… more on that in a moment), or Tom is lying. And as God told Adam and Eve in the garden, the penalty for sin is death! Immediate spiritual death, and the physical process of death begins.

    God, being omniscient and knowing everything, knows that Tom is telling the truth. Bob punched him without cause.

    Now what is God to do? Should he:

    A. Just forgive Bob?
    * How is that fair to Tom?
    * Should Tom be required by God to forgive Bob?
    * There’s a sin still “on the books”. Can God be just if that sin goes unpaid?

    B. Demand an “eye for an eye”?
    * Should Tom be allowed to punch Tom as well?
    * How does that restore the relationship between Bob and Tom, and between Bob and God?
    * How does the addition of another punch remove Bob’s sin? Bob violated God’s morality, not Tom’s.

    C. Pay the debt himself.

    God chose option C. He came to Earth as a man (Jesus), and lived a sinless life in perfect congruence with the nature and character of God. He had no sin debt of his own to pay! Then, he gave his life willingly on Calvary to pay the debt that you and I owed.

    But being God, death had no hold on him! Death cannot hold the giver of life. Three days later, he rose from the grave, and now he offers forgiveness. He can do so, because he’s already paid the debt.

    Imagine that you owed a million dollars to a loan shark, and couldn’t pay the debt. You’re going to die, unless you can find the money. Then someone comes up and says, “Look… I’ve already paid your debt. All you have to do is go to the loan shark’s office and sign the paper, and you’re free.” Do you trust him? After all… if he’s lying and you walk into that loan shark’s office, then you’re a dead man! He’d better be someone with a) the ability to pay the debt, and b) someone whose word you can trust.

    I submit that Jesus is just such a person. He can pay the debt because he’s God. And you can trust him… not in spite of, but because of the evidence!

    Read the book… then let’s talk further!

    I hope you find peace, friend.

    -tl

    Reply
    • moose says:

      terry,

      you could have said blah, blah, blah–that would have made as much sense as anything else you have said.

      this may be off the subject, but your god says (one of the 10 commandments) “thou shalt have no other gods before me”–does this mean that your god is saying there are other gods? and “for the lord thy god am a jealous god” a perfect god is jealous?? jealous of who, or what, and why??

      Reply
      • Terry L. says:

        Moose,

        Ridicule is not an argument! If you sincerely think something I post doesn’t make sense, then please take the time to explain why. I put a lot of time and thought into what I post; I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the same type of thoughtful response.

        If you want to defend your position and discuss the issues, I think that both Stephen and Toby, while they disagree with my worldview, will vouch for my willingness to defend my beliefs in a (mostly) polite and courteous manner. I converse online with several others who are looking to honestly debate these issues. And with all due respect, I will not take the time away from those conversations to engage in the online equivalent of playground smack-talking!

        As it is, by simply accusing me of senseless ramblings while not actually refuting what I’ve said reinforces my belief that you are not looking for an honest discussion of the issues, but are simply looking to bash Christianity.

        If you care to explain what you find so senseless about my posts, I’ll be happy to elaborate. It’s up to you…

        -tl

        Reply
          • Terry L says:

            Tom,

            Yes, and I replied. Unfortunately this new website lost the post. That’s happened to me at least two or three times since they redid the site. So far, I’m not impressed. It’s harder for me to find responses; where they used to just appear at the bottom, now they’re all over the place, and with the long posts that many of us write (I’m probably the worst offender), it’s almost impossible to find when someone has responded.

            What’s even worse, the RSS feed on the comments doesn’t work anymore, so I can’t just monitor that as I used to do to see when I have a response awaiting. Add in the fact that I’m sometimes losing post that took an hour or more to write, and you can see why I’m growing more and more frustrated. I’ve taken to crafting all responses off-line in a text editor before pasting into the page.

            I’ll try to re-craft my post soon.

          • Terry L says:

            Tom,

            Sorry for the rant! It’s obviously not directed at you, but at the techies @ CrossExamined. C’mon guys… can we get this site stable?

            -tl

        • moose says:

          terry–i consider myself more agnostic than atheist. i don’t know if there is a god or not. if there is, he/she/it has never revealed itself to me, so the most honest thing i can say is i dont know anything about that god (if he/she/it is real).

          most of the time though, i try not to mock/bash too much, but there is one thing you said that caught my attention “if you have heard the message of the gospel, and you reject jesus, then you choose hell”–as i said before–that is absurd and obscene and offensive.

          the idea of hell is sick. if hell is real, then god is just plain sick, plain evil and immmoral. there is no reason to believe it of course, i don’t believe in hell (or heaven) any more than i believe fred flintstone occupies the white house now. but it is disturbing hearing anyone talk about it, and the way people construct these cute arguements to defend “god”. think about this–“god” supposedly creates us as imperfect beings, then tortures people in hell for being imperfect?? really?? as for myself–i live a clean life–have never been in trouble with the law, and never will, i try to give to charity as much as i can, but i reject christianity cuz it makes no sense to me–i am using my mind to think clearly, logically, rationally, and this has led me to reject christianity and the jesus thing–i don’t see the evidence and is makes no sense, to me the only moral thing to do was walk away. the bible frankly is disgusting, repulsive and full of faily tales, contradictions, and is is just plain weird.

          according to christianity though i will be going to hell. yea right. i live a clean life, obey all laws, dont drink or smoke, but i will go to hell because i chose to not believe an unbelievable story–yeah right, lol.

          but as i said i try not to bash/mock too much, but whenever i hear someone talk about the hell fantasy, then i will mock and bash–it’s sick.

          Reply
          • Terry L says:

            Moose,

            i don’t know if there is a god or not. if there is, he/she/it has never revealed itself to me

            Where do you think the world around you came from? That’s a serious question… I really want to know.

            “if you have heard the message of the gospel, and you reject jesus, then you choose hell”–as i said before–that is absurd and obscene and offensive.

            Why? You’re describing this concept using moral terms, but you’re not giving me a reason why this is offensive? Offensive to who? You? Why should your opinion have any bearing on whether or not Hell is real?

            Now if it is truly absurd… in other words, it cannot logically exist in reality (my own quick definition… not a Websters def), then what is your reasoning for this statement?

            i don’t believe in hell (or heaven) any more than i believe fred flintstone occupies the white house now. but it is disturbing hearing anyone talk about it,

            The idea of Fred Flintstone in the White House doesn’t bother me in the least… it’s FICTION! Why should a conversation about something you claim not to believe in disturb you?

            ”god” supposedly creates us as imperfect beings

            This is not Christian theology. God created us as perfect beings, but with freedom to sin if we chose to do so. We did. Therefore we became imperfect.

            then tortures people in hell for being imperfect

            No. In the first place, hell is a place of torment… not torture. There’s a subtle, but very important distinction between the two.

            Secondly, men end up in hell because they were born dead (in sins), and rejected the life that Jesus freely offers them that he purchased by his death on the cross.

            If you were drowning, and someone throws you a life preserver and you reject it, whose fault is it that you perish? God threw us a life preserver. It’s up to you whether or not you take advantage of it.

            –i live a clean life–have never been in trouble with the law, and never will, i try to give to charity as much as i can,

            But that’s not going to get you to Heaven. None of this brings life! Can you honestly say you’ve never done a single thing wrong? No “little white lies”? Not taken as much as a single paper clip that didn’t belong to you? Not wished harm on someone? What good work makes any of those things right?

            If someone killed your child ten years ago, and then lived a perfect life from that time until now, what would you say about a judge who let him go free because he was evidently a good man? Where is the justice in that?

            The bottom line is, you’ve sinned. You’ve goofed up. I know you have because we’re all born dead in trespasses and sins, and I know the BEST of us have failed to reach perfection; so I’m standing on pretty solid ground when I say that you’re not perfect. But that’s the requirement for Heaven. If you’re not perfect, then you need the life that Jesus offers. He took our sins to the cross with him, and he offers his righteousness to us to be counted as our own when we stand before God. All you have to do is to trust him… believe that he is who he says he is, and that he paid the price for your sins on the cross, and then believe IN him as Lord.

            i am using my mind to think clearly, logically, rationally, and this has led me to reject christianity and the jesus thing

            But Moose, practically everything you’ve said about Christianity is untrue! You haven’t rejected Christianity, you’ve rejected your concept, or the popular misconceptions of Christianity. If you’re going to make the statement that you have rejected Christianity based on clear, logical and rational thinking, you need to at least understand what you’re rejecting… otherwise your statement is itself illogical.

            the bible frankly is disgusting, repulsive and full of faily tales, contradictions, and is is just plain weird.

            You keep saying things like this, but provide no evidence to back up your claim. You are full of venom, but short on facts.

            but as i said i try not to bash/mock too much, but whenever i hear someone talk about the hell fantasy, then i will mock and bash–it’s sick.

            And I will ask you again… WHY? What makes it repulsive?

            If it’s true, then what would be sick would be for me as a Christian not to warn you of what awaits you.

  19. Luke says:

    Terry,

    You said: Your question assumes that I believe that [He] is as you describe him.

    It does not assume this. I clearly said what the question assumes. You don’t have to answer, but there is no need to misrepresent my question.

    Would you like me to respond to the questions in your previous post?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Luke, I believe you and Terry are talking past each other. It seems the ‘juvenile’ reference comes from when Terry said: ” I will completely agree that God certainly has the power to force men to choose him, but it seems to me that such an action is remarkably juvenile, and I would not call such a choice “love””

      I think that Terry is saying that any God who FORCED men to choose him WOULD be juvenile. Terry is not saying that the God he believes in forces men in that manner, and so is not juvenile.

      Reply
  20. Terry L says:

    Thanks, Stephen! You are correct.

    I find the notion of coerced love appalling at worst, and an oxymoron at best. It is completely incongruent with the character of God as revealed both in nature and in scripture.

    While I agree with you that men will not seek God own their own, I draw the line at saying that, after God seeks them, he forces them into a relationship with him that they do not choose.

    God does pursue men; if he didn’t, we would be powerless to find him. But, God doesn’t drag men back to Heaven hog-tied. It’s an invitation, not a shotgun wedding!

    Reply
  21. Toby says:

    “What generates darkness? What generates cold? NOTHING! In our universe, that’s the natural state of things.”

    No, it would seem that the natural state of our universe is space/matter, not nothing. There is not nothing anywhere in this universe so darkness and cold (at least absolute cold . . . which isn’t absolute since its been found that you can go into negative kelvin and it appears hotter than any positive temperature—it’s all very complicated but fascinating). There is nothing—huh huh—to support the theophilosopher’s idea of nothing. What I’m saying is that there isn’t such a thing as darkness or nothing so why believe, in your version of reality, that there is evil, absence of good, at all? If all things your god does works towards some plan that in the end is good, then all things, all events are good and our idea if evil is wrong. Why do you guys assume that the default has to be Nothing? That’s some glass half full stuff there.

    “You have claimed to believe that objective morality does not exist. Now you are claiming to have designed a “more just” universe. Frankly, Toby, I’m beginning to disbelieve your claim not to believe in objective morality!”

    You don’t have to jump to the conclusion of supernatural shenanigans to imagine that in a given situation one action would cause less pain and suffering than other.

    “I completely disagree. If someone accidentally runs me over and breaks my leg, I bear them no grudge, and I do not feel that they have done me wrong. If someone intentionally takes a shot at me with their pistol just to watch me die, then I feel wronged. The first situation resulted in pain and suffering; the second did not. Which do you find more evil?”

    Uh . . . that’s why I said it was conscious acts against others to elicit pain and suffering. Do you not think being shot at would cause a certain amount of fear and anxiety? Come on. You’re quibbling over quantity/severity.

    “By what twisted logic? If you created a wonder drug that cured 47 kinds of cancer, would you be responsible for the death of a patient after a doctor intentionally overdosed them on that drug?”

    Fine, then change it to the concept rather than the tool. The first person to use a firearm to kill another person (which was probably the inventor as well) is responsible for all deaths thereafter for birthing the concept.

    “Does your world consider why you hit them? Were they breaking in your house? Attacking your wife?”

    It’s not really relevant. Are you neglecting that they’d be feeling the effects of these actions themselves?

    “This used to be the case in the United States, until our morality slipped away and infidelity is now glorified in our media and our culture. Would you sanction a return to Christian morality in our nation? You seem to embrace it here!”

    Yeah, sure it did. Keep telling yourself that, that completely anecdotal load of supposition. Yeah. The nineteen fifties man, they sure had it all figured out then.

    “Grace, for instance. Forgiveness. Mercy. Redemption. Restoration. All of these are lacking in your world. You do the crime (and you did not propose how you would ground morality in your world; you merely imported morality from ours), you are instantly punished. You’ve created a world with an authoritarian God who rules as a dictator and immediately punishes every transgression.

    Uh . . . don’t you think seeing someone suffering for attempting hurt you–punch you in the face for instance–would inspire you to forgive? Certainly you could be free to not forgive them, but none of those things you mention would be absent. In our world someone punches you and you bleed. In that world they bleed. Does it matter that they are incapable of actually harming someone else? Do you really think that’s a great feature of this world? You and your fellow believers are way to concerned about grounding morality. But how about this, morality is grounded the way it is here, in our biological make up—our nature. If stabbing someone didn’t cause them biological harm, if it were in fact a pleasurable thing, then we’d be doing it all the time.

    “God says, “If a man looks on a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery already in his heart!” There is no, “Look, don’t touch!” policy with God! It’s “Look, but don’t even THINK about it!” (And you’re probably better off not looking!)”

    And you don’t think this is despicable? A god makes us this way and then tells us not to be this way. And I’m not talking about some “Oh, their free to choose evil” garbage, I’m talking about we’re animals and have biological responses to things around us, that apparently your god thinks is bad. Thinking some thing causes no harm whatsoever. Acting on thoughts can. I find this idea of your religion pretty disgusting.

    “Really?? You don’t like it when God has mercy for 800 years, then punishes the Canaanites for their sins against him. Why do you think you would like it better if justice were immediate?”

    If they were doing harm to each other that’s one thing, but saying, “There is no holy ghost/god/whatever” burning sacrifices to some other god . . . I happen to think that that’s a victimless crime. So really no crime at all.

    Reply
  22. Luke says:

    Stephen,

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. I looked back at my question and I don’t know how to rephrase it to be any better (which is far different from saying it could not be phrased any more clearly).

    I understand that this is not how Terry sees G-d, but that is why when I asked my question of Terry I said:

    Let’s assume that I am correct and the scriptures I quoted are true.”

    “In your post then, you say that the one true G-d is juvenile and delights in torture.”

    (If we just assume that I am correct, then the “one true G-d” becomes the one I am describing.)

    Then went on to ask: “So, do you want to be with this G-d…?”

    (I did not ask about just “G-d” which would likely invoke the G-d the reader believes in. I specifically said “this” G-d, referring to the one we are assuming exists.)

    Again, I am not asking Terry about the G-d he believes in; I asked him to assume that G-d is actually something different, then answer a question. (I did NOT assume, as Terry stated, that he does believe in this sort of G-d, and honestly, I don’t see how Terry understood me to assume such a thing. It could just be that I am a much worse communicator than I like to think.)

    Sorry if I have caused any confusion to anyone, and I will humbly accept any suggestions as to how I might make my writing more clear.

    Thank you,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Luke, your writing is clear, it was my fault for reading your post too quickly.
      I’m glad to see you return here. You and I conversed by email a long time ago, though you probably don’t recognise my name.

      Reply
  23. Terry L says:

    Luke, you said:

    Let’s assume that I am correct and the scriptures I quoted are true.

    In your post then, you say that the one true G-d is juvenile and delights in torture.

    So, do you want to be with this G-d in the afterlife?

    Or would you choose the torture He so delights in?

    So let me explain how I interpret the question:

    First of all, I do not simply assume that scripture is true; I’m completely convinced that it is on the basis of the evidence. What I question is your interpretation of scripture. But, for the sake of argument, we’ll go with it.

    Assuming that “you are correct”: we have a God who unalterably chooses the fate of all men. He isn’t interested in whether one would willingly come to him because he is good; he chooses instead to force or compel men to come in spite of themselves, or he rejects them and gives them no hope of salvation at all.

    Your next sentence is where I get tripped up. I don’t recognize the God you describe as being the God described in scripture, and I would never say that the one true God “is juvenile and delights in torture”. God is not willing that any should perish. But again, for the sake of argument, let’s consider that your position is correct.

    The question on the table is, “do I want to be with this God in the afterlife?” I’ll have to give three different answers.

    First of all, I’d have to say that I’d much rather be with the God I find in scripture, who loves all men and invites all men to come to himself, but will not violate their freedom of will to force one to do what they do not wish to do. Who will not populate Heaven with people who did not choose to go there. Who will not populate Hell with men who were never offered grace.

    But, we’re assuming that you are correct; that would imply that the God of the preceding paragraph does not exist, and that God is as you describe him. In that case, what I want doesn’t make any difference at all, because God either counts me as one of the elect, or he doesn’t. My fate, to glory or damnation, is completely at his pleasure. Your question self-destructs, because my desires are moot point.

    You might say, “but if you could choose, then would you want to be with this God?” And of course, I would answer in the affirmative… but for completely pragmatic reasons. Heaven is certainly better than Hell. But, I find this God far less worthy of worship; he doesn’t invite me to come to himself, he captures me! I’m more like a prisoner of war with Stockholm Syndrome than an adopted son!

    What good would it do to pray for salvation… to be chosen as one of the elect, with such a God? If you are destined for Hell, then no angel, man or demon can change your fate. If you’re one of the elect, it seems that you can live as you wish, and God will ensure that you will make it in the end, so why should you be concerned? If you are of the elect, you have nothing to worry about; if you are not of the elect, you have no hope, so you’d better have all the fun you can here on Earth while you can!

    And with that, my friend, I close my comments on this subject. I did, however, want to respond more clearly to your question, as I didn’t do a very good job the first time, but most of the conversations here on CrossExamined deal with the much more basic topics of the existence of God, and whether the Christian God is the true God, and this is where my passion lies.

    Again, I’m happy to discuss this further; I just don’t feel that this is the place, but I’m open to a moderator forwarding you my email address if you wish.

    Reply
  24. Terry L says:

    No, it would seem that the natural state of our universe is space/matter, not nothing.

    Please give your scientific evidence for this. Although theists have long held the view that the universe had a beginning, and ontologically prior to that beginning, there was nothing (as in NO THING), the standard model of the big bang theory points to this as well. All of the recent evidence I’ve seen still confirms this model, in spite of some who want to posit a something (i.e. quantum vacuum or some other wee beastie) in place of the nothing. I’ve seen a lot of theory, but not a lot of evidence! As you or Stephen once told me, if you have such evidence, there’s a Nobel prize awaiting you!

    You don’t have to jump to the conclusion of supernatural shenanigans to imagine that in a given situation one action would cause less pain and suffering than other.

    Agreed. But, what makes it wrong to cause pain and suffering to another? Who sez?

    that’s why I said it was conscious acts against others to elicit pain and suffering.

    But you still haven’t defined why that is wrong. Yes, I know it is wrong… I’m asking you why it is wrong.

    From where do the others obtain value that I should not harm them? From me? Then is it acceptable to harm those that I do not value?

    From themselves? Why is their valuation of themselves important and binding to me? Perhaps they over-value themselves…

    From the culture? Why does a group have a right to impose value on an individual? Would the group have a right to harm one that they did not value?

    It’s only valid to assert that one should not harm others if the others somehow have intrinsic worth; but where on atheism do you gain such worth?

    Fine, then change it to the concept rather than the tool. The first person to use a firearm to kill another person (which was probably the inventor as well) is responsible for all deaths thereafter for birthing the concept.

    Murder has been around since Cain and Abel, and there weren’t any firearms then! Murder, like all sin, comes from the heart of a man, not any tool. And because I misuse a tool you created doesn’t make you culpable for my misuse of the tool. This whole concept, though popular with liberals when discussing gun control, just doesn’t make any sense.

    So I still don’t buy it. If your first person used the firearm in self-defense, does that change your opinion? Is he then morally culpable for all other firearm deaths when he was morally justified in the one he personally caused?

    Every person that shoots another intentionally with malice makes a decision to pull the trigger. They make a choice. It is the shooter, and him alone that is responsible for his actions.

    Odd that you don’t see a need for an intelligent first-cause for the universe, but you insist that an intelligent first-cause is responsible for shooting deaths even years after their own death! How do you reconcile this?

    Are you neglecting that they’d be feeling the effects of these actions themselves?

    Not really, although that gets to be rather dizzying after a while.

    I actually discussed your proposed universe with a group of teen/preteen kids yesterday, and they had some good questions about it. I couldn’t answer, since it’s not my idea; would you be willing to do so?

    They asked:

    1. Does this work for good acts as well? If I deposit $1000 into your bank account, do I get $1000 into mine as well?
    2. Does the person punched in the nose still feel the pain? Does it still break his nose?
    3. If the answer to question 2 is no, then the attacker really did no harm. Is the attacker still harmed?
    4. They also wanted to know if accidents counted. If I accidently run you over, am I harmed?
    5. If the answer to 1 or 4 is no, then aren’t you postulating a supreme intelligence that can tell the difference? We’re back to God, it seems.

    Yeah. The nineteen fifties man, they sure had it all figured out then.

    I’m not saying that everything was ever perfect. And I’m not going all the way back to the fifties. I’m 45… born in 1968, grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. And where I grew up, I remember when girls were ashamed to be pregnant and not married, and the boys were ashamed as well. The generation before mine would send their pregnant daughters to visit a relative for a year until the baby was born and (most likely) given up for adoption. Men who cheated on their wives were held in contempt. Divorce was rare. Today, I go to my local high school football game on “Meet the Players” night, and half the kids they introduce have a mother with a different last name. So while I may be guilty of bring personal anecdotes as evidence, you can’t accuse me of appealing to an idealized 1950’s. What I say, I know, because I lived through it. And the kids of my generation seemed much happier than most of the kids I meet today. We weren’t perfect, but we understood respect, and we had a sense of shame.

    If they were doing harm to each other that’s one thing,… burning sacrifices to some other god

    Wouldn’t that depend on what… or who the sacrifice was?

    Ok… how about this. Does this sound like harm? (And BTW to be accurate, it was 400 years. I mistyped the number.)

    * During the Canaanite’s worship of Molech, they placed an infant on the arms of a hollow, bronze idol in which a fire was built. The priests of Molech would bang loudly on drums to drown out the childs screams. It eventually rolled down into the fire. If the mother showed any grief… if she wasn’t dancing and singing praises to the god, the sacrifice was invalid. Archeologists have found many jars in the area containing the remains of newborns.

    * When a new house was built, they would sacrifice a child and build its body into the wall to bring good fortune to the rest of the family.

    God didn’t single out every culture for destruction. Neither Egypt, Edom, Moab or Ammon were completely destroyed. And God never commanded Israel to hunt down anyone who fled the city. Why is this important?

    According to the Bible, many in Jericho knew that God had promised that land to Israel, and knew that the Israelites were coming. Rahab said that all who lived in Jericho were afraid because of this. The people of Canaan saw what God did to Jericho. They had seen the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah years earlier. Yet, they continued in their sin and rebellion, their cultural prostitution, child sacrifice, beastiality, and other perversions. They too knew that Israel was on the way. They could have left the city. The ones who did not perished, not because God was being unfair, but because he had passed judgement on their culture, and after 400 years, his mercy had run out!

    Does it matter what means he used? Would you feel better had he caused the priests of Molech to burst into flames? Do you find God immoral because he gave them 400 years to turn from their sins? Or because he judged sin at all? After all, given your universe of “instant karma”, it hardly seems that you disagree with judgement of evil.

    Thinking some thing causes no harm whatsoever. Acting on thoughts can. I find this idea of your religion pretty disgusting.

    I just noticed that you said, “Does it matter that they are incapable of actually harming someone else?”, so I suppose the answer to number 2 above is “no”.

    So in your universe, you are punished because you wanted to hurt someone else, but did not actually harm the person! Even in your universe, people are judged for their thoughts that result in no harm to others!

    And you don’t think it harms my relationship with my wife if I’m fantasizing about being in bed with my next-door-neighbor?

    It’s not so much the initial reaction that’s the problem. The “probably better off not looking” was meant to be toungue-in-cheek… my apologies if it didn’t come across that way. I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate a beautiful woman when I see one. But when I set my heart on her, and allow my thoughts to fixate on her inappropriately, then I contend that I am harming my spouse, and my relationship with her. That, even by your definition, is evil.

    But God is more interested in our hearts than our actions. Doing all of the right things for the wrong reasons is still wrong. If you never touch another woman, but you’re constantly fantasizing about your coworker, are you truly being faithful to your wife? If our heart is right, then right actions follow. As the Bible puts it, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”, and “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”.

    Reply
  25. Stephen B says:

    Terry: “If someone killed your child ten years ago, and then lived a perfect life from that time until now”

    In this analogy, what is Moose supposed to have done that’s even slightly close to ‘killing a child’? You started by talking about nicking paper clips, then compare it to killing a child. You assume that Moose must have done something wrong, as ‘none of us are perfect’. This suggests you accept that perfection is an unreasonable expectation to have of any of us.

    “The idea of Fred Flintstone in the White House doesn’t bother me in the least… it’s FICTION! ”

    If half the country believed Fred was in the White House, it would probably bother you. Many Christians seem bothered about Islam, despite believing it to be fiction. And lots of climate change deniers are very excised about it, despite maintaining it is nonsense. Likewise all the creationists who bang on about evolution all the time.

    “Where do you think the world around you came from?”

    If you mean ultimately where does EVERYTHING come from (I’m assuming the standard physicists answer to how the planets in our solar system formed won’t satisfy you) then you might as well ask where God comes from. A ‘matter is eternal’ assertion is not more problematic than a ‘God is eternal’ assertion. Your previous answer that an eternal universe is impossible makes as much sense as saying that an eternal God is impossible. Either both are true are neither are.

    If you figure that a God is the only way to explain that we are all here, then bully for you. But you can’t say that this is only rational response.

    Reply
  26. Terry L says:

    In this analogy, what is Moose supposed to have done that’s even slightly close to ‘killing a child’?

    To be blunt, it simply doesn’t matter. James says if you have offended the law in any point, you’re as guilty as if you had broken all of them. Think about it… if you’ve broken ANY moral law, even the least one, then you are morally imperfect. You CANNOT enter into a place that is morally perfect. To do so would be to render that place morally imperfect, and Heaven would become Hell.

    The analogy was intended to show that good deeds do not atone for past mistakes. The moral imperfection remains, regardless of how many good works you do after the sin.

    In order for that sin to be expunged, it must be paid for. You can do that yourself, or allow Jesus to apply his payment to your debt, but only the second option will get you into Heaven.

    Many Christians seem bothered about Islam, despite believing it to be fiction. And lots of climate change deniers are very excised about it, despite maintaining it is nonsense….

    It’s not Islam that bothers me… truth has no need to cower from any fiction. It’s the actions of the radicals who use it to justify atrocities, and the fate millions who will perish because they’ve bought into the fiction of a belief system that is demonstrably untrue.

    I’m assuming the standard physicists answer to how the planets in our solar system formed won’t satisfy you

    The “standard physicists answer” to a finite universe do not satisfy you. And, I most likely fully agree with their explanation of how planets formed. I’m not a Young Earth Creationist, at least until I see more evidence supporting that view. I find it to be scientifically implausible, based on the evidence I’ve seen.

    Where we might disagree would be billions of years earlier, about 13.7B years ago. As an atheist, you have to violate the known laws of physics to either have an eternal universe (in violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics), or an acausal creation from nothing (in violation of the 1st Law of Thermodynamics). The scientific evidence says the universe has a beginning about 13.7B years ago.

    And the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem holds that even if the Multiverse exists, it must have a beginning as well. As Vilenkin himself said,

    It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning. (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176) (Emphasis added)

    I’m following the evidence… what are you following?

    A ‘matter is eternal’ assertion is not more problematic than a ‘God is eternal’ assertion.

    Nonsense. As I’ve just shown above, pure materialism claiming that matter is eternal violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, and you have nowhere that you can turn. There’s no place where you can get the energy required to jump-start the universe and keep it going. With an infinitely powerful God, existing outside of our universe–without need of time, matter, space or energy, there is a source. This source is consistent with revealed truth (scripture) and with inferred truth (Aristotle’s prime mover).

    So the scientific consensus stands behind the Bible’s claim that our universe is not eternal. The implication is that there was a condition such that the time, space, matter, and energy we know as our universe did not exist.

    Most scientists tie the hands of science when it comes to discussing anything non-material. But although science may not be able to materially detect God in the “nothingness” prior to the big bang (how could you do so, when matter did not exist), it can detect clues of his existence in the implications of what we know to be true. We know that there was a time when our universe did not exist. We know that it now exists. The law of causality, which is the foundation of all science, says that there must be a cause. The cause cannot be material, or any form of time, energy or space in our universe, because none of that was in existence to be the cause.

    So given the absence of any possible material cause, it is logical to infer a non-material cause.

    And thus, my original question to Moose: “Where do you think the world around you came from?”

    Your previous answer that an eternal universe is impossible makes as much sense as saying that an eternal God is impossible. Either both are true are neither are.

    Please defend this assertion. Why does the impossibility of one disprove the other? This seems similar to saying that the non-existence of my son implies the non-existence of my daughters. My two girls would argue against that.

    And I have evidence to show that an eternal universe is impossible. Where is your evidence against an eternal God?

    When you start asking the question “who created God”, then you’re not speaking of the God of the Bible, nor the God that Aristotle inferred from nature and reason. In both instances, God is understood to be an uncreated creator. To ask who created an uncreated creator is absurd… it’s like asking a crowd of people with no arms to raise their hands!

    If you figure that a God is the only way to explain that we are all here, then bully for you. But you can’t say that this is only rational response.

    Perhaps not… I haven’t seen them all. 😉 But theism is the only rational response I’ve seen. Methodological naturalism just doesn’t have what it takes. You have to break the laws of physics, and the law of causality (which destroys any scientific truth); you have to assume that something can come from nothing, that complex information can arise out of chaos, and that reason and intelligence can arise out of mindless matter. And that’s just for starters!

    Do you have another “rational response” that makes sense without violating the most well-established laws in our universe?

    Reply
  27. Toby says:

    “To do so would be to render that place morally imperfect, and Heaven would become Hell.”

    So then, what the hell is heaven? Is it some place that your free will gets stripped away from you so that you never do wrong? Let’s imagine a guy is a christian and every morning he gets on his knees and sincerely apologizes for what he did all of the day and night before. What happens if he does something wrong in your book, like lusting after a woman in his mind in the afternoon and then gets hit by a blue Volkswagon Jetta and dies immediately before he has a chance to hunker down and sincerely apologize the next morning? Is that person going to hell?

    “The analogy was intended to show that good deeds do not atone for past mistakes. The moral imperfection remains, regardless of how many good works you do after the sin.
    In order for that sin to be expunged, it must be paid for. You can do that yourself, or allow Jesus to apply his payment to your debt, but only the second option will get you into Heaven.”

    So you’re comfortable that a mass murderer can sincerely regret what he did and beg for forgiveness before the needle goes in his arm and then he gets a ride to heaven? How’s that fair in your judgement? A guy that mows down a bunch of people can bend knees to your god and get into heaven, yet a person that rejects your god and has spent their life giving themselves to their community gets torment? Because they don’t accept the scapegoat? Christopher Hitchens was right. Vicarious redemption is immoral. “Hey, give me something I want and I’ll take the blame for you . . . because I made you with a free will that I knew you would abuse, but hey, that’s not my fault, it’s yours, my flawed creation, because I let you do it.” So if you somehow could know that a murdered was sincerely sorry for what he did and begged your god for mercy would you advocate that he be let out of prison?

    “The “standard physicists answer” to a finite universe do not satisfy you.”

    The standard answer isn’t immutable! There are miles to go until we sleep in physics. You take the knowledge of our current point in time and then jump to the conclusion that there is supernatural fiddling around going on. Just like many before you. In a sense you’re no different than those that said that tornadoes happened because god(s) were mad and they didn’t dance right or cut the throat of a goat correctly.

    “Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem…”

    Same page:

    Theologians have often welcomed any evidence for the beginning of the universe, regarding it as evidence for the existence of God … So what do we make of a proof that the beginning is unavoidable? Is it a proof of the existence of God? This view would be far too simplistic. Anyone who attempts to understand the origin of the universe should be prepared to address its logical paradoxes. In this regard, the theorem that I proved with my colleagues does not give much of an advantage to the theologian over the scientist. [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176)

    “Nonsense. As I’ve just shown above, pure materialism claiming that matter is eternal violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, and you have nowhere that you can turn.”

    You’ve shown nothing but your hubris. At present we have incomplete science and yet you and many others like you want to be the ones with “The Truth” based on a revelation that wasn’t even given to you or anyone you might have been related to seven generations back. You’re taking the word of a book that you have no clear idea who the authors were. Sure, there are names on the chapters, nice english names that have nothing to do with the original language that they were written in and what the names of those people might really have been . . . because to have names different from those that translated it might have made them uncomfortable to think that these people were dirty desert folk that had a little more melanin in their skin. You’d rather believe that you have all the answers than say, “I don’t know. We’ll find out, but maybe not in my lifetime and I’m okay with that.”

    So the scientific consensus stands behind the Bible’s claim that our universe is not eternal.

    Right. Sure. And all that stuff about the earth being made before the rest of the universe? How about some verses to back up what you’re saying here. I never knew that the bible was such a wealth of scientific information.

    you have to assume that something can come from nothing, that complex information can arise out of chaos, and that reason and intelligence can arise out of mindless matter. And that’s just for starters!

    You have to assume that there is such a thing as your philosopher’s nothing. You have to assume that given large amounts of time randomly occurring patterns that you label as “information” wouldn’t occur and once they did they’d be stable enough to persist. And that you want to be the center of the universe with your little brain and ability to compose a sentence and add numbers (both of which really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things . . . which, let’s be honest, there is no grand scheme—the only import to life is the one we give it . . . which is based on our genetic make up and experiences with other beings with mildly varying genetic makeups).

    Reply
  28. Stephen B says:

    “James says if you have offended the law in any point, you’re as guilty as if you had broken all of them.”

    So what? James, whoever he was, can say all sorts of things. I might as well say “Keith says that eating a potato chip is as bad for you as eating 5KG of butter”.

    “And I have evidence to show that an eternal universe is impossible.”

    Where is this evidence?

    “With an infinitely powerful God, existing outside of our universe–without need of time, matter, space or energy, there is a source.”

    So where is God getting all this energy from? A magical box? His ear? How is he creating anything without time? If there’s no time, there can be no change. I’m afraid you’re indulging in special pleading. Either the laws of thermodynamics are universal or they’re not. Saying ‘Oh, this happened outside the universe’ doesn’t help you.

    “And, I most likely fully agree with their explanation of how planets formed.”

    Great. So why did you ask ““Where do you think the world around you came from?” if you agree with the rest of us on the non supernatural explanation for how planets formed?

    Reply
  29. Toby says:

    So where is God getting all this energy from? A magical box? His ear?

    As previously stated by Terry, here or elsewhere, he says that this doesn’t concern him. He doesn’t know, doesn’t care. He goes by the william lane craig answer of god being an efficient cause, even though everything we know about efficient causes are that they too are material—but not in this one special case. So, yes, special pleading.

    Reply
  30. Toby says:

    as this site’s design is less than optimal it might be easier for everyone to post responses as a new comment at the bottom rather than clicking “Reply”.

    Reply
  31. Terry L. says:

    Toby:

    I like your idea of sticking with a linear format. Here goes:

    Is [Heaven] some place that your free will gets stripped away from you so that you never do wrong?

    No… it’s a place where our nature is changed to be like God’s, and we never desire to do wrong. You can do anything you want… but being made in the image of Christ, we no longer desire to sin.

    What happens if he does something wrong in your book…

    Just for the record once more, my opinion of right and wrong doesn’t matter–I’m not the standard. For the remainder of this topic, I’m assuming this to read, “does something wrong.”

    Is that person going to hell?

    Based on your assertion, “[l]et’s imagine a guy is a [C]hristian”, I would say no.

    Salvation is a gift from God. Scripture says that the gifts of God are without repentance; he’s not going to change his mind. At the moment you accept Christ’s sacrifice as payment for your sin, then God, as he is not bound by time, forgives all of your sin. That includes future sin. The reason your unfortunate victim of the Jetta prays each morning is not to maintain or to re-secure his relationship with God, but to maintain his fellowship with God.

    When my children misbehave and disobey me, they are still my children, even though we might not be getting along too well until they come to me and make it right. When I disobey God, he doesn’t say, “Well, that’s it! You’re no longer my son!” No, he re-affirms that I am his son through discipline… what the KJV refers to as chastisement, just as I do with my own children.

    Christopher Hitchens was right. Vicarious redemption is immoral.

    Once again, you show that you really do believe in objective morality. But remind me again what it’s based on? I don’t see any way in your world view that your comment here makes sense…

    that’s not my fault, it’s yours, my flawed creation, because I let you do it.

    Let’s think about this… let’s say an underage teenage girl sets up your son, who is just over eighteen. She knows he has a crush on her, and so she pretends to get drunk at a party and let’s him know that she’s going upstairs for something. Later, he goes to check on her to find her naked, passed out across a bed. He proceeds to do some inappropriate things to her, thinking she’ll never know.

    Later, she produces a video of the whole thing, and threatens to take it to the police if he doesn’t pay her price.

    Now, ignore any legal issues… part of the scenario, I will grant, is implausible. The existence of a video suggests entrapment, but that’s not my point here…

    The question is, does the fact that she allowed him to do to her whatever he did remove his responsibility for his actions?

    So if you somehow could know that a murdered was sincerely sorry for what he did and begged your god for mercy would you advocate that he be let out of prison?

    No. I’m still an advocate of the death penalty, even in this case. Salvation takes care of his debt to God, but there is still a debt to society that must be paid, barring mercy from the Governor or the courts. But when God forgives us, even though that removes the sin, it most often does not remove the temporal consequences of that sin. While I know several former drug addicts that have had their addiction removed by God, I don’t know any of them that also fully recovered their health from the ravages of all of their years of abuse.

    The standard answer isn’t immutable! There are miles to go until we sleep in physics. You take the knowledge of our current point in time and then jump to the conclusion that there is supernatural fiddling around going on. Just like many before you. In a sense you’re no different than those that said that tornadoes happened because god(s) were mad and they didn’t dance right or cut the throat of a goat correctly.

    According to Vilenkin, this theorem is not just evidence, it’s proof. His word not mine.

    And you are appealing to a “science of the gaps”. You cannot philosophically accept the current consensus of the origin of the universe, so you are appealing to “some science, out there, somewhere, at some time” that will find a way around the need to violate Thermodynamics. You don’t know what it is, but it simply can’t be an immaterial cause!

    Re: Borde-Guth-Vilenkin; Vilenkin is a scientist. It is reasonable to accept him as an authority on science. In my quote, he is directly relating the results of his scientific investigation. In your quote, he is philosophizing about the implications of his findings. But what are his qualifications as a philosopher? Einstein notably (and ironically) said that “most scientists make poor philosophers!”.

    If Vilenkin does not accept the existence of immaterial beings, then of course his findings lead to paradoxes!

    You’ve shown nothing but your hubris. At present we have incomplete science…

    Argue with Vilenkin… he’s the one that called it a proof.

    You’re taking the word of a book that you have no clear idea who the authors were. Sure, there are names on the chapters, nice english names that have nothing to do with the original language that they were written in and what the names of those people might really have been . . . because to have names different from those that translated it might have made them uncomfortable to think that these people were dirty desert folk that had a little more melanin in their skin. You’d rather believe that you have all the answers than say, “I don’t know. We’ll find out, but maybe not in my lifetime and I’m okay with that.”

    1. Genetic fallacy. How I came to my knowledge doesn’t imply that the knowledge is either true of false. Argue the issue.

    2. Ad Hominem Attack. “might have made them uncomfortable to think that these people were dirty desert folk that had a little more melanin in their skin.” This is a blatant accusation of racism, and again says nothing about my position.

    3. Exaggeration. “You’d rather believe that you have all the answers…” I’ve never made this claim. Furthermore, I have based practically every assertion I’ve made about the origin of the universe on science, not on scripture, while you embrace ideas that are diametrically opposed to the scientific evidence. Why?

    You have to assume that there is such a thing as your philosopher’s nothing.

    Toby, at least have the good graces not to misuse terms. You keep insisting on describing absolute nothing as the “philosopher’s nothing”, but that’s disingenuous. Only recently have atheistic scientists attempted to misuse the term and make “nothing” mean “something”. But every time they do, this strange “nothing” has attributes. It’s a “quantum vacuum” (which isn’t nothing), or it’s a “quantum fluctuation” (which isn’t nothing).

    If nothing is something, then call it what it is. If a concept has attributes, then it is not nothing? If nothing produces grapes the size of Boeing 747s, then you will NEVER see a grape that size. Likewise, if a quantum fluctuation arises from nothing, then it never happens! But they do happen, so obviously, they cannot come from nothing… unless you redefine the term in order to mislead lay people into believing something that is not true.

    See… you can’t even do science without morality. You can’t trust some scientists to accurately and fairly represent their discoveries!

    You have to assume that given large amounts of time randomly occurring patterns that you label as “information” wouldn’t occur and once they did they’d be stable enough to persist.

    Methodological naturalists are the ones who claim that time + chance can result in our universe; therefore, it’s your responsibility to justify this claim, not my responsibility to debunk it.

    let’s be honest, there is no grand scheme—the only import to life is the one we give it

    Ok… since we’re being honest, how did you come to this conclusion? Honestly?

    This is not a statement of science… it’s a philosophical statement. So, how do you justify it? What philosophical evidence do you have that this is true? How do the implications of this world view cohere with the scientific and experiential evidence gathered from the world around you?

    Reply
  32. Terry L. says:

    Toby

    I forgot to mention this earlier…

    The teens I mentioned above have asked me if you had answered their questions about your proposed “better universe”. If you have a chance, would you take a look at them so I can report back to them? They’re really curious…

    Thanks!

    -tl

    Reply
  33. Luke says:

    Terry,

    You said: Your question self-destructs, because my desires are moot point.

    Hmmm, it seems to me that questions about the unattainable seem to persist. They can even be fun, useful and informative.

    I can’t help but imagine this conversation between you and one of your working-class friends:

    Friend: Terry, if I were to buy you a new car, would you prefer a Lamborghini or a Ferrari?

    Terry: You don’t have the money for that. Oh mate, your question just self-destructed.

    (I don’t know you well enough to know if you’d add something like “boom goes the dynamite!” at the end.)

    You do answer the question though, saying: “I would answer in the affirmative… but for completely pragmatic reasons. Heaven is certainly better than Hell.”

    Affirmative here referring to wanting to be in heaven with a G-d you have called juvenile and believe delights in torture.

    So do you think there are any people out there, non-believers or followers of non-Christian religions who may not think too highly of the G-d in whom you believe, who would still choose, if given the choice, the way you did?

    (That is, being with a G-d I think is [insert derisive characteristic here] is still better than eternal torture.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  34. Terry L. says:

    Stephen

    Did you even read my post this time, or just look for talking points? Most of the answers to your questions are in the original post.

    Where is this evidence “that an eternal universe is impossible”?

    See the quote from theoretical physicist Alexander Vilenkin above. According to their work, this also applies to the multiverse… any multiverse must also be finite, so multiverse theory doesn’t help you. It seems unavoidable that at one time, no time, space, energy or matter as we know it existed.

    And see also my comments to Toby regarding Vilenkin’s philosophical position.

    So where is God getting all this energy from?… How is he creating anything without time? If there’s no time, there can be no change. I’m afraid you’re indulging in special pleading.

    There is no special pleading when you’re in the same situation? YOU don’t have time for matter (which did not exist) to create itself either! So you tell me how that’s possible on your view, and I’ll tell you why God is a better explanation.

    If God created the universe… meaning he created all time, space, matter, and energy, then that would necessarily mean that he doesn’t require any of these. In what possible way is any creator dependent on his creation? To give a crude analogy, the creator of the video game The Sims is not dependent on the computer… he exists independently of it. He would continue to exist, even if all copies of the game vanished from the planet, or even if all of the computers vanished from the planet! And he can pour in energy or new creatures, or alter the environment of the game in any way he chooses independently of the laws and rules that normally govern the game’s world.

    Do you and I require time and energy to create something? Of course! We are part of this universe. But you cannot say that the same applies to a being not native to this universe. You don’t have any evidence to back that up. On the other hand, it is perfectly logical to believe that a being that existed while time and energy did not has no need of them.

    It seems that something had to exist ontologically prior to our universe. Something that is not, and has no need for time, space, matter, or energy, but is capable of creating all four. What’s your explanation?

    Either the laws of thermodynamics are universal or they’re not. Saying ‘Oh, this happened outside the universe’ doesn’t help you.

    This makes no sense… you’re contradicting yourself. I will agree that the Laws of Thermodynamics are universal. That means that they apply everywhere and every time in this universe! You’ll have to provide evidence that objects not of this universe are bound by the same laws. I’ve challenged you to do this before, and as far as I can tell, you’ve yet to attempt to do so.

    “And, I most likely fully agree with their explanation of how planets formed.”

    Great. So why did you ask ““Where do you think the world around you came from?” if you agree with the rest of us on the non supernatural explanation for how planets formed?

    I said that our disagreement would be about 10B years earlier. I have no problem with the your explanation of how the planets formed… I strongly disagree with you on how the universe was formed!

    My question was “where did it come from”, not “how was it formed”. In order for something to form, it has to exist.

    Reply
  35. Toby says:

    No… it’s a place where our nature is changed to be like God’s, and we never desire to do wrong. You can do anything you want… but being made in the image of Christ, we no longer desire to sin.

    And you know this how?

    Just for the record once more, my opinion of right and wrong doesn’t matter–I’m not the standard. For the remainder of this topic, I’m assuming this to read, “does something wrong.”

    In your book meaning your “good book not your opinion.

    So are you have the belief that once you’re “saved” then you’re “saved” no matter what?

    No. I’m still an advocate of the death penalty, even in this case.

    That raises all sorts of moral questions, but I don’t care to go into it.

    you are appealing to a “science of the gaps”. You cannot philosophically accept the current consensus of the origin of the universe, so you are appealing to “some science, out there, somewhere, at some time” that will find a way around the need to violate Thermodynamics. You don’t know what it is, but it simply can’t be an immaterial cause!

    Not at all. Saying that current science is incomplete and not walking into the folly of definitively drawing a line in the sand and saying, “Hey, here it is. TRUTH!” isn’t a gap argument. It’s admitting that we currently have an incomplete picture of things.

    From Inflationary Spacetimes Are Not Past Incomplete (the actual paper not Villenkin’s book):
    Whatever the possibilities for the boundary, it is clear that unless the averaged expansion condition can somehow be avoided for all past-directed geodesics, inflation
    alone is not sufficient to provide a complete description of the Universe, and some new physics is necessary in order to determine the correct conditions at the boundary.
    This is the chief result of our paper. The result depends on just one assumption: the Hubble parameter H has a positive value when averaged over the affine parameter
    of a past-directed null or noncomoving timelike geodesic. The class of cosmologies satisfying this assumption is not limited to inflating universes. Of particular interest is
    the recycling scenario, in which each comoving region goes through a succession of inflationary and thermalized epochs. Since this scenario requires a positive true vac-
    uum energy, the expansion rate will be bounded by (equation here) for locally flat or open equal-time slicings, and the conditions of our theorem may be satisfied. One must look carefully, however, at the possibility of discontinuities where the inflationary and thermalized regions meet. This issue requires further analysis.

    1. Genetic fallacy.

    I was calling into question the validity of the source material and how it’s really only verified by itself.

    2. Ad Hominem Attack. . . .This is a blatant accusation of racism, and again says nothing about my position.

    Yes. To the the people that translated the book many, many years ago. Very antisemetic in europe in the old days. Are you looking for idiot attacks against your person?

    3. Exaggeration. “You’d rather believe that you have all the answers…” I’ve never made this claim. Furthermore, I have based practically every assertion I’ve made about the origin of the universe on science, not on scripture, while you embrace ideas that are diametrically opposed to the scientific evidence. Why?

    No, it’s implied by your beliefs. “God done it” is the ultimate answer for you.

    Only recently have atheistic scientists attempted to misuse the term and make “nothing” mean “something”.

    Perhaps, dog forbid, because evidence suggests that the philosopher’s nothing is, heh heh, nonexistent?

    Ok… since we’re being honest, how did you come to this conclusion? Honestly?

    You’d call it subjectivity, i’d call it our nature, which is what you resort to saying when defending the moral argument for your god. Your moral argument is based on the ontological argument which is complete subjective wishful thinking—what stephen king called in one of his books, “mudpies of the mind.” I think he was actually talking about psychology, but whatever, what a lovely phrase.

    We could go on and on about my previously mentioned better designed world, but what’s the point? It’d just be refining an idea that’s meant to refute the design argument and also the ontological argument because if there were a god to design that particular world it would be a greater god than the one that designed this one.

    Reply
  36. Stephen B says:

    “It’s a place where our nature is changed to be like God’s, and we never desire to do wrong.”

    Well either:
    1) We don’t have free will in heaven
    2) Or there is sin in heaven.
    3) Or it IS possible to have free will and there not to be sin – in which case there was no reason for there to be sin on earth

    Reply
  37. Toby says:

    “1. Does this work for good acts as well? If I deposit $1000 into your bank account, do I get $1000 into mine as well?
    2. Does the person punched in the nose still feel the pain? Does it still break his nose?
    3. If the answer to question 2 is no, then the attacker really did no harm. Is the attacker still harmed?
    4. They also wanted to know if accidents counted. If I accidently run you over, am I harmed?
    5. If the answer to 1 or 4 is no, then aren’t you postulating a supreme intelligence that can tell the difference? We’re back to God, it seems.”

    Ok, found what you were taking about.

    1. no. it’d be biological and have nothing to do with your bank account.
    2. No. That was the point I was making. You are free to do to others as you wish, but you only harm yourself.
    3. see 2.
    4. Accidents wouldn’t work the same.
    5. Yes, that’s part of the point. That there could be a god that could design a universe in which there is free will and eliminate “evil”. It could be a completely natural thing as well though—some evolved nervous system which through a combination of the senses and the intent in the brain would produce the self harm.

    Reply
  38. Terry L says:

    1) We don’t have free will in heaven
    2) Or there is sin in heaven.
    3) Or it IS possible to have free will and there not to be sin – in which case there was no reason for there to be sin on earth

    I’ll take door number three, Monty!

    It is possible to have free will, and to not sin–IF you have a new nature. We now sin because it is our fallen nature to sin. That nature is changed in Heaven.

    At any one time, we don’t have to sin here. We can choose the good, and sometimes we do. Some do more than others. But regardless of how “good” we are, it’s still our nature to sin, and you can’t overcome your nature all of the time. If it’s in your nature to be an outgoing, extroverted person, you can force yourself to be quiet, but sooner or later, your natural extroversion is going to come out. It’s the same with our sin nature. You can suppress it, for a time, to an extent, but sooner or later, it’s going to come out.

    In Heaven, our nature is changed. Old things are passed away; all things are become new.

    And you know this how?

    Information at this level of detail is not available through natural revelation. So, yes, the Bible is my source. I can give you chapter and verse, but I sincerely doubt you’re interested.

    And I trust the Bible based on evidence, not just blind wishful thinking.

    So are you have the belief that once you’re “saved” then you’re “saved” no matter what?

    If a man is truly saved, then yes. The Bible calls it being “born again”. Once a man is born, he cannot be un-born.

    No. I’m still an advocate of the death penalty, even in this case.

    That raises all sorts of moral questions, but I don’t care to go into it.

    I wouldn’t either, if I were you. I don’t understand how someone can be pro-abortion, and anti-death penalty. I can understand anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, and anti-abortion, pro-death penalty, but the logic of pro-abortion, anti-death penalty escapes me.

    Not at all. Saying that current science is incomplete and not walking into the folly of definitively drawing a line in the sand and saying, “Hey, here it is. TRUTH!” isn’t a gap argument. It’s admitting that we currently have an incomplete picture of things.

    But Toby, you can do that with all science! There’s a difference between recognizing that science is incomplete and refusing to acknowlege what science has already revealed.

    But you’re right about one thing… we’re not talking about a science of the gaps theory; there is no gap because science has already spoken. The Laws of Thermodynamics and the fact of a finite universe is some of the most settled science we have. You’re shooting at a tank with as squirt gun hoping that some new theory will convert the water into solar plasma before it gets to the target!

    The class of cosmologies satisfying this assumption is not limited to inflating universes….

    You left out the fact that deflating universes are extremely unstable and have singularities arising all over the place. Not a likely candidate for a survivable universe.

    I was calling into question the validity of the source material and how it’s really only verified by itself.

    Yes. To the the people that translated the book many, many years ago. Very antisemetic in europe in the old days. Are you looking for idiot attacks against your person?

    That’s not what you said. If that’s your point, you’re free to support it, but that’s not the point you made. You launched a racist attack against someone… the translators? I did understand that it wasn’t leveled at me, but I couldn’t really understand exactly what point you were trying to make. But the bottom line is, you said nothing that supports the premise you now claim.

    No, it’s implied by your beliefs. “God done it” is the ultimate answer for you.

    Yes… but that’s only a problem if my ultimate answer is not supported by evidence. I’ve provided support, usually scientific support, for nearly every argument I’ve raised. Most of the times when I solely resort to scripture, I’m responding to a question that was specifically asked of me, not to an argument for God’s existence. And my position is completely consistent with scientific evidence IF you don’t construe science to eliminate the possibility of the supernatural. And as I’ve said before, there is no scientific rationale for doing so. Science may not be able to directly investigate the supernatural, but that does not imply at all that the supernatural does not exist.

    For years, we couldn’t directly investigate the Higgs Boson. We could only infer its existence by seeing an effect, and postulating a hypothesis. That didn’t mean that Higgs didn’t exist.

    We do the same with God. In the absence of an ability to investigate his existence directly, we can observe effects… an existing universe, moral duties, evidence of design, and then formulate a hypothesis that pulls all of the evidence together.

    [Toby] let’s be honest, there is no grand scheme—the only import to life is the one we give it

    [Terry]Ok… since we’re being honest, how did you come to this conclusion? Honestly?

    [Toby]You’d call it subjectivity, i’d call it our nature, which is what you resort to saying when defending the moral argument for your god.

    So you’re saying it’s our nature to believe there is no grand scheme? I don’t follow…

    But regarding morality, you’re right. I’ve never met anyone who truly believed that there was no such thing as right and wrong.

    But let’s assume that you’re right for the moment, and the only import to life is the one we give it.

    Would one be wrong to give import to his life by choosing to hunt down, torture and kill bankers?

    If you say yes, then by what standard do you judge them. What harm are they doing?

    If I am the sole arbiter of the definition of good and evil in my life, then all things are permissible to me, and you can’t say a moral word about it.

    You say that causing pain is evil, but I still don’t know why you believe that. Just because you don’t like it? That reason carries the same weight as someone else’s claim that they enjoy causing pain! They cancel each other out.

    No, I believe you would consider such a “reason” for living abhorrent, as do I. But why?

    Let’s change things up a bit… we’ve hashed through the evil side for months now. Let’s talk about the other side… from your point of view, what is the meaning of “good”, in terms of morality?

    Your moral argument is based on the ontological argument which is complete subjective wishful thinking

    Not really. See my comments on the new blog posting with the video of Frank’s conversation with (in his words) a polite atheist.

    Reply
  39. Terry L says:

    Toby,

    Thanks for responding to the kid’s questions! I have a few questions of my own before I take your answers back to them. Some of these address multiple points in the questions, so I’m just going to type, and I’ll italicize the main questions. I’ll keep them as brief as possible.

    You say that your point is to show “that there could be a god that could design a universe in which there is free will and eliminate ‘evil'” which you define (more or less) as intentionally bringing harm to another. I hope that doesn’t severely misrepresent your position.

    What happens if Paul tries to burn John’s parents house down, and John attacks him in order to stop him? I’m assuming that John is OK here, since he’s acting for a noble cause?

    But what if Paul calls John and says, “Beat Penny to death, or I’ll destroy your parent’s house.” If John then tries to beat Penny, what happens? He’s still acting for the same noble cause, even though he’s making an immoral action to do so…

    What if your citizens resort to something besides physical violence. What happens if Jimmy steals everything that Joe owns while Joe is away on vacation? No physical harm is done to Joe, but would you agree that Jimmy committed an evil act? Does this incur any penalties under your system, or is this an evil that is allowed to exist?

    It seems then that your god would be successful at preventing physical assault. But just as the Christian God, you are indicting your citizens for “thought crimes”… basing the punishment on the intent, not the actual results of their actions. But, no one would physically attack another maliciously, so that seems to work. However, you’re going to require a greater degree of intervention by this god in your world to make everything work out. He’s going to have to interfere with men’s plans in a very active way.

    Your god (assuming this is not a “completely natural thing”) seems a little harsh. He will punish Tom for attempting to physically, maliciously harm to Judy (which he cannot do, because Judy will not be harmed in the attack). Yet, he doesn’t reward Tom for doing good things? What if he gives Judy a deep-tissue massage simply because she’s had a hard day? Does he get the benefit, and not her then, or do they both get it, or just her?

    If it’s a “completely natural thing”, then how does it work if Jared shoots Wayne? Does the bullet suddenly turn around in mid-flight and return to sender?

    Reply
  40. moose says:

    terry–you ask me “where i think the world came from”–am i required to have all those answers? i don’t have all those answers.

    i hear the life preserver thing a lot, it makes less and less sense every time i hear it. (did i spell preserver correctly?) anyway, if “god” is throwing us this life preserver—who threw us overboard to begin with?–god did. if you and i are out on a boat in the middle of some lake or ocean and i grab you and throw you overboard, then throw you a life preserver, can i then say–hey look at this heroic thing i did–i threw you a life preserver?? no, i did a disgusting thing by throwing you overboard to begin with–attempted murder. in this case the life preserver is the jesus thing–what is have to do of course is believe that 2000 years ago a virgin gave birth to a magic carpenter. the magic carpenter performs amazing miracles. the magic caarpenter is killed and comes back to life. does “god” truly expect me or anyone to believe this nonsense???.

    you asked me why i think the bible is disgusting?? you have read you bible haven’t you? one could talk forever about this, but i’ll give a few–all the atrociities god has committed to begin with, a god who says it’s ok to own and beat slaves (ex21), a god who says worship me or i will spread dung on your face (mal2), or maybe “jesus” who said we should mutilate ourselves–pluck out our eyes, cut off our body parts if those body parts cause us to sin, since it is better to enter heaven without these body parts than go to hell with them.

    christianity makes less and less sense to me every time i hear the kinds of arguements you are making.

    anyway i’m out, good luck to you,

    peace

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      if “god” is throwing us this life preserver—who threw us overboard to begin with?–god did

      What is your evidence for this? Mankind chose to jump overboard.

      God was gracious enough to provide a way of rescue, if you want it. The problem is, many of us want to keep swimming on our own. We don’t want to give up our “fun”, so we ignore the life preserver, until we’ve drifted so far that we can’t reach it.

      what is have to do of course is believe that 2000 years ago a virgin gave birth to a magic carpenter. the magic carpenter performs amazing miracles. the magic caarpenter is killed and comes back to life. does “god” truly expect me or anyone to believe this nonsense???.

      God expects you to rationally and logically consider the evidence for the claim, yes.

      You call it nonsense. But, if God is powerful enough to create the entire universe, then every single miracle in the Bible is trivial! Need to part the Red Sea? No problem… he MADE the Red Sea. Need to bring Jesus back to life? No problem… He’s the inventor of life!

      Then you say the Bible is “disgusting”, and accuse God of all sorts of moral evil. But, where do you get your idea of evil? By what standard do you judge God?

      And yes, I have read the passages you cite, and in context with the rest of scripture. But somehow, I don’t feel you’re terribly interested in context… you have found a few proof texts that you think prove the Bible to be wrong (what is “wrong” if God doesn’t exist) and your mind is made up.

      I hope you find the peace you seek.

      Reply
  41. Stephen B says:

    “My question was “where did it come from”, not “how was it formed”. In order for something to form, it has to exist.”

    No. In order to exist, it had to form. The question of where our planet came from is the same as how it formed. If you want to know where the buts and pieces came from that formed the earth, that’s a different question.

    “r. I have no problem with the your explanation of how the planets formed… I strongly disagree with you on how the universe was formed!”

    Well, you originally said ““Where do you think the WORLD around you came from?”

    If you agree with how it formed then you know where the parts that made up our world came from.

    Reply
  42. Terry L says:

    Stephen:

    No. In order to exist, it had to form.

    Great. Then I have a challenge for you…

    Form the modeling clay that I do NOT have on my desk into the shape of a sphere. You’re going to have a difficult time doing that, as that clay does not exist!

    This reminds me of the old joke about the scientist who bragged that he could create life in the lab, and that God was no longer relevant. Suddenly, God appears and challenges him to a duel. Both would create a man, and the most distinguished scientists of the day would judge between the two newly-created men.

    The scientist accepts, and starts to collect soil, chemicals, electrical implements, and all the other materials he thinks he needs, when suddenly, all of his materials vanish! He angrily looks at God, and says, “What did you do that for?”

    God says, “You don’t get a head start… create your own materials!

    If you’re going to form something, you have to have something to form. It has to exist.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Form the modeling clay that I do NOT have on my desk into the shape of a sphere. You’re going to have a difficult time doing that, as that clay does not exist!”

      You’re shifting the goal posts – we’re not talking about making something out of something that doesn’t exist. You asked “Where do you think the world around you comes from”. Your question was how something that DOES exist formed. If you asked me how a clay sphere formed and I explained how I moulded the clay into the shape of a ball, then I’ve answered your question. If you then want to ask where the clay came from then you can, but that’s a second question. If you wanted to know where the clay came from straight off, then you should have asked straight off.

      Likewise if you want to ask where all the matter in the universe originally came from then that’s what you should have asked. Otherwise you might as well have started by asking me where my breakfast came from, and then when I told you ‘the shop’, or ‘the farm’, or ‘the ground’ or whatever, you then say “No, where did the matter that makes up your breakfast originally come from”. OK, just ask that straight off. And I already answered that question anyway. Postulating that matter is eternal makes no less sense that postulating that God is eternal.

      “If God created the universe… meaning he created all time, space, matter, and energy, then that would necessarily mean that he doesn’t require any of these”

      You certainly do require time in order to create something. If there’s no time then there’s no creation. If there’s no time, then the whole concept of existence itself doesn’t really make sense. If God was existing then time existed too, or it makes no sense to talk about Him ‘doing’ anything or ‘creating’ anything.

      Reply
      • Terry L says:

        You asked “Where do you think the world around you comes from”. Your question was how something that DOES exist formed. If you asked me how a clay sphere formed and I explained how I moulded the clay into the shape of a ball, then I’ve answered your question

        I don’t see these two as analogous at all. You’ve explained how the clay became a sphere, but not where it came from.

        Postulating that matter is eternal makes no less sense that postulating that God is eternal.

        Until you realize that this the former is physically impossible according to the laws of our universe. Rule out the impossible, and what is left, however improbable (or how much you don’t want to admit it) must be true.

        You certainly do require time in order to create something.

        Yes, I do. I’m bound by the universe in which I live just as you are. But neither you nor I have any referent by which to describe God’s existence without his creation. I’m not prepared to say what a being that could exist without the time, energy, matter or energy of our universe can or cannot do; and for you to do so is pure speculation. You’re mapping the limitations of our universe onto a being not of our universe. This is an improper shift of logic.

        More accurately, you’re imposing our finite human limitations on an infinite God. You are creating God in your own image, not allowing him to be what nature and scripture reveals him to be. That makes the “god” that you describe a straw man.

        It is not illogical to assume that a being does not require anything that that being creates. Therefore, I do not assume that God requires time to do anything that he does.

        Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “If you’re going to form something, you have to have something to form. It has to exist.”

      The materials have to exist, sure. But you asked how the THING formed. Before the thing forms, the materials that make it have to exist. It forms FROM the materials. A bunch of rocks lying on the ground isn’t a wall. I FORM the wall from the rocks. In order to exist it had to FORM from the materials. If I tell you how I made the wall, then I’ve told you how it formed.

      “Suddenly, God appears…”
      Shame that only happens in jokes, eh?! Would save us all a lot of trouble if it happened in reality. The joke itself misses that you go to a biologist to explain why God is not needed to influence matters of biology. Or a chemist for matters of chemistry. He can offer a non-supernatural explanation for life. If you want to explain the matter itself, ask a physicist. Otherwise it’s like someone saying “Lightning bolts are proof that Thor exists – he’s hurling them from the sky!”. Then when you explain to him that we know the non-supernatural explanation for lightning, he says “Yeah, but Thor made all the bits still!”.

      Reply
      • Terry L says:

        The joke itself misses that you go to a biologist to explain why God is not needed to influence matters of biology…

        Improper analogy. Explaining how an internal combustion engine works or how an assembly line works doesn’t mean that Henry Ford did not exist.

        He can offer a non-supernatural explanation for life

        You’ve overstated your case. He can offer an explanation for how the processes of life work; he cannot offer an explanation of how (or more importantly, WHY) life began in the first place.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          What, there are no natural explanations for biogenesis at all? As for ‘why’, why assume it even makes sense to ask ‘why’? It builds (assumes) intent into the question.

          “Explaining how an internal combustion engine works or how an assembly line works doesn’t mean that Henry Ford did not exist.”

          I don’t think that makes any difference. In fact I think your Henry Ford reference is the improper analogy here.

          Reply
          • Terry L. says:

            What, there are no natural explanations for biogenesis at all?

            Nope. Attempts? Yes. EVIDENCE? None at all.

            I don’t think that makes any difference. In fact I think your Henry Ford reference is the improper analogy here.

            Explain please?

  43. Terry L says:

    Toby

    We could go on and on about my previously mentioned better designed world, but what’s the point?

    The point is that you claimed that the design argument was weak because you could do a better job designing a universe than God. That’s quite a bold claim! I’m giving you the opportunity to defend your assertion. Otherwise, it’s a drive-by shooting… you cruse through the forums, throw out a bomb like this, and then don’t stay around to back up what you said.

    And so, a few questions for you… you said,

    if there were a god to design [Toby’s presumably better-designed world] it would be a greater god than the one that designed this one.

    You say this is also a refutation of the Ontological argument. I don’t think you’re right about that.

    The Ontological argument contends (very roughly speaking) that the greatest conceivable being must exist. But to exist is greater than not to exist, so to conceive of a God who can actually exist implies that he must exist.

    But even if somehow your supposed world were greater than this world, then that doesn’t necessarily destroy the argument.

    1. It could imply that our maximally-great God exists… but he delegated the design of this world to some other lesser being.
    2. It could imply that our maximally-great God exists… but that designing a non-maximal world somehow does not impair his maximal greatness. (Not fully certain I agree that this is actually possible.)

    or, most likely,

    3. It could simply imply that you are mistaken in your assumption that your world is greater than this one; therefore your world is a lesser world, and your god is actually a lesser god.

    So let’s investigate number three… It seems to me that to know what is a maximal world or universe, we need to know something about the purpose of the world or universe.

    And so, what do you see as the purpose of the universe, and how do you come to your conclusion? That purpose becomes the standard by which a universe can be judged. And remember, you’ve already said that your world is greater than the real world, so you’ve already implied that such a standard exists.

    If you say there is no standard, but in your opinion, your world is greater, then your proposal of this new world means nothing, and it certainly has no impact on the Ontological argument! I can give you billions of other worlds, and each of their creators will think they’re just as grand as yours.

    Secondly, one of the key tenets of the Ontological argument is that “To exist is greater than to not exist.”

    By that, our real universe trumps yours hands-down without even trying.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “The greatest conceivable being must exist. But to exist is greater than not to exist, so to conceive of a God who can actually exist implies that he must exist.”

      That’s a nonsensical argument – basically trying to define a God into existence.

      Reply
  44. Terry L says:

    Stephen,

    We probably agree more on this than you would think. I have a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the Ontological Argument. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a good defender of it, for that very reason. I said above that my explanation was very rough… it’s probably more accurate to say I butchered it!

    The only way I can make sense of it is to ask myself where we get the concept of a perfect being. The ancient polytheists who based their gods on nature (Zeus, Odin, et. al.) simply imagined super-men. They were still very human… in fact, they were little more than comic-book superheroes. Ethically, most of them were worse than Superman or Batman.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Ethically, most of them were worse than Superman or Batman.”

      But when I tell apologists that the OT God strikes me as unethical, I’m told that’s as nonsensical as talking about a three-sided square.

      “…Simply imagined super-men. They were still very human”
      The OT God seems the same to me. He gets angry, he gets jealous, he changes his mind after discussing things with humans. There’s even a part of the OT where we’re told some men were able to defy God as they had iron chariots: Judges 1:19 – “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”

      It seems that, like with Superman, the powers of the OT God varied over time depending on author. His emotions seem human. I’m guessing you’ll say the latter is down to humans translating his actions into human concepts. But ultimately the same thing seems to apply as to Odin, Zeus etc – it’s basically a ‘super-man’. We took qualities we prized and we ‘super-sized’ them. If you prized aggression or sexual success then you envisaged a super aggressive God who has all the women. If you prized strength that you imagined a God who was very very strong. Likewise a God who ‘thinks just like you’ on moral issues, but it’s ‘objectively moral’ so no-one else can argue with you about your morals. And today we have Conservatives worshipping the stern authoritarian God, and liberals worshipping the hippy ‘love everyone’ Jesus God.

      Reply
  45. Terry L says:

    Stephen

    There’s even a part of the OT where we’re told some men were able to defy God as they had iron chariots: Judges 1:19 – “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”

    Judges doesn’t end there. Keep reading, and you’ll find that four or five chapters later, these charioteers fell to Israel’s footsoldiers.

    Why did they have problems in chapter 1? There are a number of possibilities… none of which involve an inability on God’s part. Israel had already fought and lost a battle under Joshua against a vastly inferior enemy because they had sin in the camp. It’s quite possible that this is the case here, especially as Judges 2:2-3 explicitly has God saying to Israel, “You have disobeyed me.”

    God also showed mercy to the inhabitants of Canaan by waiting for, as the bible puts it, their sin to be full. He gave all of these nations plenty of time to repent of their evil. It is possible that Judah wanted to take this valley before God was ready to visit justice upon the inhabitants of the valley. Therefore, Judah was unsuccessful because he was getting ahead of God.

    I’m guessing you’ll say the latter is down to humans translating his actions into human concepts.

    And yes, the OT writers did use human personifications to describe an infinite God. They used terms that they (and we) can understand.

    …it’s ‘objectively moral’ so no-one else can argue with you about your morals.

    You have this backward… the only way someone can argue with you about your morals is if morality is objective! How would one argue with another about whether or not they were immoral unless morality exists independent of what either of them think? That would be like arguing over whether chocolate or strawberry ice cream is better.

    What you’re implying, and even explicitly stating, is that theists have created their god in their image, and attributed their own morality to him.

    Unfortunately, you’re way to close to the way most people think. However, what we think doesn’t change what is real! It’s not my contention that I perfectly know morality… it is that a perfect morality exists, and that we are all held accountable to it.

    Honestly, I’ll be the first to admit that some of God’s laws are annoying! I don’t want to follow them! When God says, “Love your enemies”, I’d much rather do what I want to do; however, because I do believe that God is the authority, and not me, I try very hard to follow what I believe to be right, rather than what I want to be right. So I try very hard not to hate, for instance, the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks. That doesn’t mean that I don’t desire for them to be brought to justice, but it does mean that I don’t wish more upon them than they deserve, and I even desire for them to find God’s grace.

    Likewise a God who ‘thinks just like you’ on moral issues, but it’s ‘objectively moral’ so no-one else can argue with you about your morals. And today we have Conservatives worshipping the stern authoritarian God, and liberals worshipping the hippy ‘love everyone’ Jesus God.

    But when I tell apologists that the OT God strikes me as unethical, I’m told that’s as nonsensical as talking about a three-sided square.

    When I judge the behavior of the ancient Greco-Roman gods, I use the moral standard demonstrated by the life of Jesus Christ. Which standard do you use to judge the God of the Old Testament?

    If morality is not objective, then you have no basis on which to call the OT God unethical. You’re just expressing your opinion… and that’s worth exactly the same as my opinion. They’re both pretty much worthless! In fact, you are doing exactly what you’re accusing theists of doing. By holding that, in your words, God is unethical, you are affirming that ethics exist, and furthermore, that you know what they are!

    So I’ll ask you again… how do you ground this system of ethics by which you find Jehovah unethical? What makes them real and binding on all moral beings? Why are they anything other than just what you think is moral and ethical?

    Reply
  46. Toby says:

    How can objective morality exist if it is subjective to a situation? We have a written rule in your book that says you shouldn’t murder . . . but it should have an asterisk after it because I’m certain you’ll agree that you can murder someone if they are trying to murder you . . . even though it says in that same book to turn the other cheek and not to commit murder. A gross trick used in debates by WLC and Frank is to ask why should it be wrong to torture babies, It’s a cheap emotional appeal, obviously. Morality is based on verbs. If torture is wrong in that situation how can it be justified in another regardless of their age? (and changing to soft language such as “enhanced interrogation” doesn’t get you off the hook) Either there are universal moral absolutes or objective moral values are fairy dust.

    Was stoning rebellious children objectively moral? Explain it to us why it was then and not now.

    Was letting a rapist off the hook by marrying the rapee objectively moral? Why shouldn’t that apply now? Hell, we could all go out on a rape spree and, if we followed the example of your ‘good book’, have three or four well raped wives. Want a slave? Go rape a woman and BAM! you’ll get a person forced into sticking with you for life . . . and pretty much no other punishment other than giving her father 50 shekels. Why is it moral then and not now?

    Where are the objective morals in this:

    “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.” Deuteronomy something or other.

    Then you have god commanding Israelis to go kill other tribes and people like WLC say they deserved it because in that book it says they were wicked and that it’s okay because god was mad at them and that the babies they killed went to heaven . . . and that we should feel sorry for the soldiers that had to do all of that killing. Gee. Them poor Nazi soldiers killing all of those jews. Sad. Them poor soldiers under Khan or Alexander the great. Poor, poor soldiers. But its all okay because they were following objectively moral rules (at least the biblical soldiers) that applied only to them in those situations because some immaterial egomaniac liked the smell of blood and burnt offerings.

    Explain to us what you mean by objective moral values and give us ten one sentence examples of them and explain when and under what situations do they or do they not apply. Might clear up a lot.

    Reply
  47. Luke says:

    This was funny, so I had to go out and test it.

    Terry said:You have this backward… the only way someone can argue with you about your morals is if morality is objective! How would one argue with another about whether or not they were immoral unless morality exists independent of what either of them think? That would be like arguing over whether chocolate or strawberry ice cream is better.

    (emphasis mine)

    Like I said, I tested this and it seems that I can indeed argue with someone whether chocolate or strawberry ice cream is better.

    Why did you think I could not?

    Reply
    • Terry L. says:

      Luke,

      You can certainly discuss which flavor of ice cream you prefer, but you can’t really argue the point, because you have your opinion, and the person you are speaking with has theirs. What standard shall you use to determine which one is truly “better”?

      You’re equivocating on the term “better” here. When we say that chocolate ice cream is “better” than strawberry, then we are actually and more accurately saying that I prefer chocolate to strawberry. It’s a common but inappropriate use of the term to use “better” in this manner.

      When one says that a bowler who consistently bowls 250 or higher is “better” than me (who stays around a miserable 100 or so), one is not saying that he prefers the first player over me (well, you might if you’re forming a league). What they’re saying is that the player is actually, objectively better at the game than I. In bowling, there’s an objective standard, so “good”, “better”, and “best” make sense.

      Do they make sense when applied to ice cream flavors? Again, we use these terms commonly, and everyone understands what we mean when we say that, “Rocky Road is good, Butter Pecan is better, but Strawberry Cheesecake is best!” But is it really accurate?

      On most days, I would say that Strawberry Cheesecake is my favorite flavor of ice cream, but on some days, I might want another. So is Strawberry Cheesecake really the best? Wouldn’t you ALWAYS want what was best?

      So no, it’s not the “best” because there is no “best” ice cream. There are flavors that you prefer over others. Someone else might have an entirely different arrangement of flavors in order of preference. And neither of you are “wrong”!

      Now if morality is subjective, then it’s the same way. You might prefer tolerance of homosexual behavior over persecution of gays. Others might prefer torturing homosexuals over acceptance of them.

      But the kicker is, if you believe that morality is subjective, then neither of them are wrong! On subjective morality, you have no right to say that I’m wrong for my disapproval of the homosexual’s behavior. If I want to laugh at, belittle, scorn, ridicule or harass them because of it, well, that’s just my preferred flavor! Maybe, as Frank says, “I just have the anti-gay gene”… I was born that way.

      And while you can say you don’t agree with me, that you don’t prefer to persecute gays, you can’t say that I’m wrong because “right” and “wrong” cannot exist.

      (Posting below also for visibility.)

      Reply
  48. Stephen B says:

    I can argue with someone about lots of subjective things as long as we agree on a basic criteria. I can argue about what the greatest film is, if we agree on what our criteria is for greatness. And I can discuss moral issues with anyone who agrees on basic ideas of fairness, or of harm caused by different actions. I have such discussions all the time. God never comes up in such conversations.

    Reply
    • Terry L. says:

      I can argue with someone about lots of subjective things as long as we agree on a basic criteria.

      Thank you Stephen for proving my point! The first thing you have to do is agree on a standard.

      Now what happens if a third party joins in the conversation, but doesn’t agree with your standard? Does that make them “wrong” about what the greatest film is? Who are you to push your standard of cinematic glory on them?

      Now let’s see… if there was an authoritative standard that applied to all films that existed independently of any of you… wouldn’t it make sense that you should be using that standard? Then you could actually say which film was truly better, not just subjectively better…

      Reply
  49. Toby says:

    I have such discussions all the time. God never comes up in such conversations.

    Perfection is a subjective measurement for everything in this universe. A perfect movie, a perfect elephant, a perfect gymnastics performance. It makes the idea of objective morality seem like special pleading. “There really isn’t anything perfect in the universe . . . except this!”

    Reply
  50. Terry L says:

    Toby:

    How can objective morality exist if it is subjective to a situation?

    What do you mean “subjective to a situation”? I submit that perfect morality is not subjective to a situation. Given the same exact set of morally-challenging circumstances, there is exactly one perfect course of action. That’s not to say that there are not actions which are morally neutral that do not affect or change the moral circumstances. While these may vary ad-infinitum, the morally-relevant actions either line up with what God would do, or they do not. ANY variation of a morally-relevant action from the course that God would take in that situation is wrong, and therefore sinful.

    This definition of morality, because it defines a standard external to the thoughts and beliefs of the actor, is an objective standard. Therefore, we can measure actions morally. An action that more closely aligns with what God would have done is better than an action that less closely aligns with what God would have done. A perfect man is one whose behavior is always in perfect congruence with what God would do.

    Having this standard makes several sentences that you and Stephen made on the “An Atheist Asks About…” comment thread make sense, even though you don’t believe in the standard. When you say, “I am not perfect”, you are saying that what you do does not always align with what you should have done. But you provide no basis for what you should have done. I say that what you should have done, is what God WOULD have done.

    Stephen says that he has shortcomings. I’ve asked him what he is coming short of… but I’ll tell that he, you, and I all come short of meeting the standard of behavior God sets for us. That is a shortcoming. If you have no standard outside of someone’s preferences, there is honestly nothing that you can fall short of!

    A gross trick used in debates by WLC and Frank is to ask why should it be wrong to torture babies, It’s a cheap emotional appeal, obviously.

    The question is, why should it evoke any emotion? If that baby is nothing more than matter, then what difference does it make? What makes it wrong? You’ve explicitly stated elsewhere that after it’s dead, it won’t care. And all you’ve done is rearrange some molecules, why should you or I care? If I remember correctly, you believe that torture is worse than murder for that reason. But, what makes one action (torture) worse than another (murder) if God does not exist? Who is going to hold the actor accountable?

    Either there are universal moral absolutes or objective moral values are fairy dust.

    I agree completely. For every set of moral circumstances, there is exactly one absolutly right action. But what you are doing is called moral equivocating. You did it again later:

    …that we should feel sorry for the soldiers [who in WLC’s explanation were acting as God’s agents to bring judgement on a wicked people] that had to do all of that killing. Gee. Them poor Nazi soldiers killing all of those jews…

    The Bible says, “Thou shalt not murder.”, but then you equate killing with murder. They are not the same. While all murder is killing, not all killing is murder. The Bible does justify some occasions of killing, both in the Old and New Testaments, and even today. I’ve told you before, the only time I condone abortion is to SAVE the LIFE (not health) of the mother. That’s called self-defense–the taking of the life of another to save your own. Similarly, I won’t hesitate to kill, if necessary, the man who is attacking my daughter. That’s defending an innocent from a predator. But the unwarranted, willful taking of an innocent life is murder, and murder is always wrong.

    But you then point out all of the supposed atrocities in the Old Testament and ask how that God can be morally perfect. I have given you several different answers, but let’s try this one…

    Your question assumes a) that morality exists, b) that you know near-perfectly what is moral, and c) that you know all there is to know about the time, culture, and circumstances in which those commands and laws were written. In other words, you are assuming God-like knowledge.

    Then you pull out verses that appear to be damning to the character of God without pulling other verses that further illuminate those verses. In other words, you’re burning straw men, while borrowing morality from theism to claim that theism is not true.

    You give a pretty laundry list of actions done or commanded by God in the Old Testament to show that he is unethical and/or immoral. And I agree with you that, simply taken at face value, we would question the morality of a man who did many of these things. However, we have to ask a few questions here. You keep giving me lists of things that are wrong, but none of the reasons you’ve ever given me to justify why something is wrong are anything more than some man’s opinion. If you feel that stoning my rebellious child is immoral, then what authority greater than me is going to hold me accountable?

    If all you have is man’s opinion, then you might have a majority, and the majority might choose to impose their will on me. But if morality is nothing more than majority opinion, that would necessarily mean that next year, that same action might be moral. That would mean that if the majority of people believed homosexuals should be burned at the stake next Friday, then it would be ok… go get the firewood! I don’t think anyone really believes this…

    Reason may tell you that it’s unreasonable, but there are a lot of unreasonable things that we don’t call wrong.

    So I hope the above has answered this: “Explain to us what you mean by objective moral values…”

    but to this: give us ten one sentence examples of them and explain when and under what situations do they or do they not apply. Might clear up a lot.

    One has a distinct problem when one tries to put down a moral standard into words. As I’ve pointed out before, a true moral standard isn’t a set of rules. It has to be a behavior. It’s extremely difficult to fully describe someone’s behavior with words. Even the Bible can’t give us every single detail of the life of Christ.

    And so, however carefully you describe the desired behavior the words never fully capture the spirit of the intended law. This problem applies to every system of ethics ever devised, from Hammurabi to Moses to our own legal system. It even shows up in business, homes, and recreation!

    Whenever you write down a law, the first thing people start to do is to try to figure out how to “legally” break it. I well remember when a company I was with introduced a new incentive program. It wasn’t long until people found out how to game the system to generate huge amounts of money by doing what the letter of the program said, but falling far short of what the company intended. The company tried to tweak it, but with every iteration, people just kept bending the rules to the breaking point.

    If I tell my daughters they can have bake cookies after supper, and they can each have two, I’d better make certain that those cookies don’t suddenly become 12 inches wide! We try to get just as close to violation as we can without crossing that magical line. The law says, “Don’t cheat on your wife”, but instead of running from the very idea of doing such a thing, people think they can “look but don’t touch”. Or can I touch, if I just don’t touch specific body parts? Is a kiss okay? Or maybe I can even do that, if specific body parts don’t touch…

    We’ll bend every rule to the breaking point, and then pride ourselves on being “moral”.

    So if you want ten sentences, consider the Ten Commandments. That’s more eloquent and succinct than I could ever write. But even there, you can kill the spirit of the law with a thousand qualifications. That’s not how laws are intended to work.

    Reply
  51. luke says:

    Terry,

    Have you heard about the Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v Baby Girl?

    It is a case reminiscent of the Judgement of Solomon. If you are not familiar with the case, I would recommend googling “radiolab adoptive couple v baby girl” and listening to that radio show.

    Anyway, this seems a sad and difficult case. I was wondering what the ruling should be according to objective morality. I’ve been thinking a lot about the case and the right outcome (and what the previous proper outcomes should have been) since this case first gained attention, and honestly, I still don’t know.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Terry L. says:

      Luke,

      In many cases, unfortunately, we are left with no good options due to the actions and attitudes of others. There may be no solution available to men that results in a perfectly moral outcome. That’s the nature of a fallen world.

      Do you see how this could even affect God? Moose asks below several questions about how the Old Testament law seems to be immoral. I think that perhaps some of those laws were not God’s ideal for the given situation, because the given situation might not be ideal to begin with! What do you do when a gunman enters your house, hands you a knife (while holding a gun) and says, “kill your wife or your daughter, or watch me kill them both!”? At that point, you don’t have a good solution, because your situation is not ideal.

      To give you a more realistic example, take the brave men and women who hid the Jews from the Nazis. When the soldiers came to the door and said, “Where are the Jews? We know they’re here!”, what do you do?

      Could God intervene in those situations? Of course… and there are times when he does. But is he immoral if he does not?

      If you accept a moral universe, you have to accept with it our ability to choose between good and evil. Would that not put the burden for the evil described above on those who choose evil? If God intervenes each time one chooses evil, then is there truly a choice? Would we not simply be robots?

      If you accept an amoral universe, good and evil do not exist. So although I’ve not heard of, or as of yet, had the chance to listen to the link you provided, I can tell you that whatever was decided, it couldn’t have been wrong!

      Everything in us cries out that some things truly are evil and wrong. For that to be true, morality has to be true, and God must exist, because only a being transcendent to mankind has the authority to hold us accountable for our actions. You’re certainly not accountable to ME, nor I to you.

      Joshua said to Israel, “choose you this day whom you will serve”. Which will it be? Good or evil? God, or… well… put anything you like in here. It doesn’t really matter. If God is the standard of good, than anything less than the standard is by definition “not good”. Anything you pursue (in other words, what are you living for?) other than God is evil.

      Reply
  52. moose says:

    terry-with all this talk about god and morality–what is your own “opinion” on some of these things—-when god says (exodus 21) that it is ok to beat your slave as hard as you want, it is ok, as long as they don’t die–what is your “opinion:? do you agree with your god?

    when your god flooded the earth and killed a countless number of children and babies, was that right or wrong for your god to do that? what is your “opinion”?

    or in the book of numbers when “god” commanded moses to stone a man to death because he committed the horrendous offense of picking up sticks on the sabbath day. what is your “opinion on that?

    if all this is true, doesn’t that mean that we are juust “matter in motion” to “god”?

    Reply
  53. Terry L. says:

    Moose,

    In the first place, my “opinion” is worth just as little as yours when it comes to these matters. I don’t make the rules. I’m a fallible human just like everyone else who doesn’t understand all of the moral law. HOWEVER, my failure to understand it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I don’t understand a space shuttle either, but I believe in them!

    In the second place, you neglected to read on down in the same chapter where it says if the slave were injured by the beating, then they were immediately set free. This means that the owner loses the financial investment he has in that servant. This waiting period was so that the judges would know what would befall the owner… loss of the servant or worse punishment.

    You seem concerned then about God committing murder; but God cannot murder. Life comes from God–he is free to take it whenever he chooses by whatever means he chooses. Indeed, if he did not take life, no one would ever die!

    And in your last case, I haven’t looked up the passage to which you refer, but I will say this; if you know the speed limit is 30, and you’re arrested for reckless driving at 80 mph with no good reason, you deserve what you get!

    So no, we are not just “matter in motion” to God… and I actually don’t even know what that would mean! God’s laws are given for our protection, not because he’s on a power trip. I would hope that, if you have children, you have laws as well; don’t play in the street, don’t play with matches, don’t hit your sister. You aren’t being cruel or mean when you make these rules, you’re being a loving parent that is trying to provide a save environment for your kids.

    But God is interested not only in our physical well-being, but also our spiritual well-being. So long as you reject anything spiritual, you will never comprehend why the Sabbath is so important, or why we are to have no other Gods before him.

    And I’ll ask you again, why should anything be wrong? Is there any one thing… just ONE THING… that is always wrong in any circumstance?

    Reply
    • moose says:

      terry–you say that your opinion & mine on these matters are not important? really? it only matters what “god” thinks right?–so since god advocates slavery and beating slaves, should we bring slavery back?? did we violate gods law when we abolished slavery?–maybe you should lobby our govt to legalize slavery & legalize stoning children to death, since your god says these things are all ok,

      your analogy about speeding is just absurd. if i am caught speeding, i deserve a speeding ticket, and i will accept that. do i seserve more than that? you can’t make this analogy to god commanding moses to stoning a man to death for the horrendous offense of picking up sticks on the sabbath day–he should have spent the day–he should have spent the day worshipping a mass MURDERING god right?–the man who was stoned to death at gods command–is he burning in hell now?

      then you say god can not murder–oh yeah, god can do whatever god wants to since he is god right?? yeah, amen brother.

      you say god is interested in our physical well being–how do you know this?-did god appear before you, maybe as a talking snake and tell you these things? your knowledge of god is simply amazing.

      i have better morals than the god of the bible–as do 7 billion other people on this planet.

      Reply
      • Terry L says:

        so since god advocates slavery and beating slaves, should we bring slavery back??

        Another loaded question. [Sigh!] Moose, you know what I’m going to say. Back up your assertion, and I’ll answer your question.

        he should have spent the day worshipping a mass MURDERING god right?

        And again. And you STILL haven’t made this point.

        then you say god can not murder–oh yeah, god can do whatever god wants to since he is god right?? yeah, amen brother.

        you say god is interested in our physical well being–how do you know this?-did god appear before you, maybe as a talking snake and tell you these things? your knowledge of god is simply amazing.

        Ok… every other poster on this site, whether they are theists or atheists, at least have the decency to actually engage in a civil give-and-take with other posters. Toby and Stephen disagree with me on very nearly every point we discuss (and sometimes even with each other). However, we manage to discuss our differences intelligently and (usually!) civilly. We do occasionally drop in a bit of sarcasm… and we all give as good as we get. And I respect them immensely because they’re actually willing to read what I write and consider my point of view. I hope they feel that I do the same.

        You, on the other hand, want to throw out loaded questions without giving a single shred of evidence. When someone responds to you with a counter-argument, you resort to more loaded questions, sarcasm, and mockery rather than actually engaging in the debate.

        To be perfectly blunt, I don’t have time for this! I told you something very similar to this some time ago, but I thought I’d give you a second chance to actually participate. I’m happy to discuss Christianity and theism with anyone, but you are NOT discussing, you’re simply spewing venom and anger, and I’m done with it. No more! There are others on this forum, and on other sites that I participate in that actually want to have an intelligent conversation, and I’m not going to take my valuable time any longer responding to venom instead of engaging in discussion.

        And if you think this sounds angry, you should have read what I wrote to a poster on another forum who calls himself a Christian for some of his venomous postings! This has nothing to do with what you say you believe… it’s just that I’m not willing to carry both sides of the conversation!

        People seeking the truth actually consider the evidence for all options. I hope you find the answers you seem not to be looking for.

        Reply
  54. Terry L. says:

    Luke,

    (reposted from above)

    You can certainly discuss which flavor of ice cream you prefer, but you can’t really argue the point, because you have your opinion, and the person you are speaking with has theirs. What standard shall you use to determine which one is truly “better”?

    You’re equivocating on the term “better” here. When we say that chocolate ice cream is “better” than strawberry, then we are actually and more accurately saying that I prefer chocolate to strawberry. It’s a common but inappropriate use of the term to use “better” in this manner.

    When one says that a bowler who consistently bowls 250 or higher is “better” than me (who stays around a miserable 100 or so), one is not saying that he prefers the first player over me (well, you might if you’re forming a league). What they’re saying is that the player is actually, objectively better at the game than I. In bowling, there’s an objective standard, so “good”, “better”, and “best” make sense.

    Do they make sense when applied to ice cream flavors? Again, we use these terms commonly, and everyone understands what we mean when we say that, “Rocky Road is good, Butter Pecan is better, but Strawberry Cheesecake is best!” But is it really accurate?

    On most days, I would say that Strawberry Cheesecake is my favorite flavor of ice cream, but on some days, I might want another. So is Strawberry Cheesecake really the best? Wouldn’t you ALWAYS want what was best?

    So no, it’s not the “best” because there is no “best” ice cream. There are flavors that you prefer over others. Someone else might have an entirely different arrangement of flavors in order of preference. And neither of you are “wrong”!

    Now if morality is subjective, then it’s the same way. You might prefer tolerance of homosexual behavior over persecution of gays. Others might prefer torturing homosexuals over acceptance of them.

    But the kicker is, if you believe that morality is subjective, then neither of them are wrong! On subjective morality, you have no right to say that I’m wrong for my disapproval of the homosexual’s behavior. If I want to laugh at, belittle, scorn, ridicule or harass them because of it, well, that’s just my preferred flavor! Maybe, as Frank says, “I just have the anti-gay gene”… I was born that way.

    And while you can say you don’t agree with me, that you don’t prefer to persecute gays, you can’t say that I’m wrong because “right” and “wrong” cannot exist.

    Reply
  55. Stephen B says:

    “What standard shall you use to determine which one is truly “better”?”

    Any standard that you both agree on.

    “On subjective morality, you have no right to say that I’m wrong for my disapproval of the homosexual’s behavior.”

    One can certainly argue that your disapproval is based on bad/false reasoning, and that it contradicts deeper axioms that you yourself agree with.

    “In bowling, there’s an objective standard, so “good”, “better”, and “best” make sense.”

    Yes, given the (originally arbitrary) rules that everyone agrees on. We agreed on a standard and can therefore have a discussion based on it. One could do the same with icecream flavors.

    “Is there any one thing… just ONE THING… that is always wrong in any circumstance?”

    Is there an action that would be bad if God did it?

    “The question is, why should it evoke any emotion? If that baby is nothing more than matter, then what difference does it make?”

    What a disturbing comment, Terry. Are you not aware that babies can suffer and feel pain? Why is the supernatural required for that to be true? You remind me of people in the 17th Century who reasoned that because animals didn’t have souls, they couldn’t suffer. A popular entertainment was to tie up a cat and lower it slowly into a bonfire. People would find its howls of agony hilarious. You say ‘nothing more than matter’ as if ‘matter’ was something piddly. Look around you – the term ‘matter’ comprises everything you can see. You remind me of BF King’s poem The Pessimist:
    “Nothing to do but work,
    Nothing to eat but food,
    Nothing to wear but clothes
    To keep one from going nude.” etc

    Reply
  56. toby says:

    “Given the same exact set of morally-challenging circumstances, there is exactly one perfect course of action.”

    So given a cliff-hanger situation like an armed group is holding you hostage and behind a one way mirror is a woman you’ve never met. On a video screen they show you four locations where they have nerve gas and high explosives that will take out about a million people. All you have to do to stop it, they tell you, is to go into the room with the woman and beat and rape her. Failing to do so results in the death of a million people and then someone will go into the room with the woman and do what you didn’t do while you are forced to watch. What’s the moral course of action in that situation?

    “When you say, “I am not perfect”, you are saying that what you do does not always align with what you should have done. But you provide no basis for what you should have done.”

    Saying, “I am not perfect” is a rejection of the idea of perfection, a statement meant to show one’s humilty.

    “The question is, why should it evoke any emotion?”

    Are you kidding? Are you trying to tie morality to emotional response?

    “But, what makes one action (torture) worse than another (murder) if God does not exist? Who is going to hold the actor accountable?”

    Once again, empathy. Fear in our selves of pain and suffering and we project on others experiences. Would you rather be suddenly dead by bullet to the head or by spending two weeks having every hair, nail, and piece of skin on you slowly stripped away?

    Why are christian’s so hung up on making sure someone burns in hell after they die? They’re dead. They’re gone. they can’t hurt anyone anymore. Good for the living.

    “Your question assumes a) that morality exists, b) that you know near-perfectly what is moral, and c) that you know all there is to know about the time, culture, and circumstances in which those commands and laws were written. In other words, you are assuming God-like knowledge.”

    a) No it doesn’t. Not your version of it anyway. b) no, I’m just think of it the same way you would if I happened to replace “god” as the one doing those things in the bible with say, Xerxes or Ulysses S. Grant. c) You’re making it seem like the bible was written for another time, not ours. You do realize that you’re saying, “the bible is god’s word, but this part of it doesn’t apply to us today because we’re different in some way, but it’s perfectly fine for these people back then. In fact it was objectively moral . . . back then. But not now.” Hmm. Sounds fishy. a few thousand years ago a people that would believe Penn and teller were accomplishing miracles wrote down some stuff about their invisible friend that whispered to them to stone rebellious children, but we need not concern ourselves with any of that because it doesn’t apply any more.

    “If all you have is man’s opinion, then you might have a majority, and the majority might choose to impose their will on me. But if morality is nothing more than majority opinion, that would necessarily mean that next year, that same action might be moral.”

    Yes, exactly. Do you not see that history is proof of this?

    “So if you want ten sentences, consider the Ten Commandments. That’s more eloquent and succinct than I could ever write. But even there, you can kill the spirit of the law with a thousand qualifications. That’s not how laws are intended to work.”

    You can throw out the first four because they seem petty and betray your god’s insecurity as well as egotism.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      “What standard shall you use to determine which one is truly “better”?”
      Any standard that you both agree on.

      Not good enough. If I have to agree to the standard before it’s valid, then we’re back to opinion again. We’re looking for a standard that is true regardless of whether you or I or anyone else believes in it.

      “In bowling, there’s an objective standard, so “good”, “better”, and “best” make sense.”
      Yes, given the (originally arbitrary) rules that everyone agrees on. We agreed on a standard and can therefore have a discussion based on it. One could do the same with icecream flavors.

      Excuse me, but I most certainly did not agree on the standard of bowling rules. Personally, I think a 100 ought to be considered a perfect game, as that’s about my average! But I don’t make the rules. I can choose to ignore the rules, but that doesn’t change what the rules really are… it just makes me look like an idiot!

      “On subjective morality, you have no right to say that I’m wrong for my disapproval of the homosexual’s behavior.”
      One can certainly argue that your disapproval is based on bad/false reasoning, and that it contradicts deeper axioms that you yourself agree with.

      That’s not to say that I’m wrong, and shouldn’t hold those beliefs. This is equivocating on the term “wrong”. One can be logically right and morally wrong, or morally right and logically wrong. They aren’t the same.

      “Given the same exact set of morally-challenging circumstances, there is exactly one perfect course of action.”
      So given a cliff-hanger situation like an armed group is holding you hostage and behind a one way mirror is a woman you’ve never met….

      [For the record, due to a conversation with Stephen, I’ve changed my views on my original statement. I neglected that there might be several morally-equivalent courses of action. Many thanks to Stephen for pointing out my error.]

      I never said I always knew what the perfect solution was. In this case, one is forced to balance personally commiting an immoral act against the greater good. You’re left with a no-win scenario. All I can say is that if one refrains from immorality, the burden of guilt is not transferred to them by the actions of the armed group you posit. If you refuse to torture this woman, you are not responsible for deaths of millions. That hangs squarely on the persons who planned this madness. You didn’t plant the bombs. You didn’t push the button. By no logic are you responsible for the actions of others not under your authority.

      Saying, “I am not perfect” is a rejection of the idea of perfection, a statement meant to show one’s humilty.

      Impossible. It invokes the idea of perfection in the statement. This is completely illogical.

      “If all you have is man’s opinion, then you might have a majority, and the majority might choose to impose their will on me. But if morality is nothing more than majority opinion, that would necessarily mean that next year, that same action might be moral.”
      Yes, exactly. Do you not see that history is proof of this?

      But by extension then, you can’t claim that anything is truly wrong. It’s just preference. And by what logic do you or anyone else impose your preferences on me? My preferences may be totally different than yours! You have no right to do that.

      Reply
  57. Luke says:

    Terry,

    I think Stephen did a good job answering your reply to me, and the other points are likely not worth arguing about.

    I have a serious question though. Can we agree that a basic tenant of the Argument from Morality (in the form mentioned here) is what CS Lewis summed up as: “conscience reveals to us a moral law whose source cannot be found in the natural world”?
    If so, here is my question… For all I know there is a very good answer for all of this, but I have simply never heard an answer actually attempt to get at the core issue in good faith.

    So, assuming we agree that what Mr. Lewis said is indeed a core of the argument, the question (or rather several questions which aim at the same point) is:

    There are serious moral issues on which we as a society are deeply divided — abortion and capital punishment are two good examples. There are those whose moral conscience is offended that a woman may be told that she must submit her body to a pregnancy even though she wishes not to, and must accept the medical risks that pregnancy and childbirth bring forth. There are others who just as strongly find their moral conscience offended by the idea that a woman may snuff out a life growing inside of her. Where some may be horrified that a government can sanction the ritualized killing of one of its citizens, others recoil at the idea of someone who has committed a terrible crime living somewhat comfortably (roof and meals provided for life) while the victims return to ash in the grave. We can mix and match these issues as well. There is the stance Pope John Paul II called “pro-life” which rails against both abortion and capital punishment. There is the stance typically called “pro-life” in American conservatism which is strongly against abortion but generally supportive of the death penalty (for example Sarah Palin considers herself strongly “pro-life” and holds these views).

    So what do we say in this case? Has “conscience revealed moral law[s]?” Since it’s difficult to say that John Paul II and Sarah Palin have the same “law” revealed to them, “laws” seems more correct. Yet another law was revealed to those who support abortion rights, but oppose the death penalty.

    Whatever the proper formulation is, we also often see the phenomenon of people who “change their minds” on these deep seated issues. I have known many people who have changed their minds on capital punishment, for example. Usually, when I have watched this process, it seems to be more of a result of reasoned analysis (e.g. “Perhaps the goal of citizens forgoing violent reaction when they feel wronged is poorly served by a government engaging in violent reaction when wronged.”) rather than a revelation, but I am quite certain the same has happened for others in a moment while hiking into the Grand Canyon as well.

    How do we describe this in Mr. Lewis’ terms though?

    Let’s say (and I am choosing this arbitrarily here) that capital punishment is, objectively, a moral option for a state.

    If someone believes for many years that such punishment is fine, but then after study of the topic, reverses course and agitates for its repeal.

    Would we say “conscience revealed to this person a moral law, but later revealed an incorrect and reverse law?”

    What about someone who firmly believes that it’s wrong for the state to kill, but later changes course and works to punish those who have been convicted of horrible crimes with the ultimate penalty.

    Would we say “conscience reveals to this person a moral law, but it was incorrectly revealed, and the true law revealed later?”

    Finally, another side to this same question was touched on by Stephen above, but has other formulations as well. As Stephen mentions, animal torture was seen almost universally as acceptable for centuries. More seriously Chattel Slavery was seen by large majorities in many societies as completely moral and acceptable. We can fill books with essays on things, moral and practical, once seen as standard, normal and fine, at which we recoil now.

    Would we say, for example, that “conscience revealed to almost everyone in the antebellum South a moral law, though one grossly incorrect?” perhaps adding that “later consciences, correctly revealed a moral law?”

    Like I said, I have never seen an honest attempt to answer this. I cannot answer them myself.

    I have another question as well. If “conscience reveals” a moral law, are parents who teach their children morality and to act in moral ways simply wasting their time? Since the moral law is “revealed” and not “taught” would you expect society to have the same moral beliefs if no moral instruction or discussion of right and wrong took place in society?

    If morality is simply revealed and is not the product of culture, societal mores or moral instruction, it would seem that the answer to these questions would be a resounding “yes.”

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  58. Luke says:

    Terry, I do actually have some comments about the difference between “I prefer” and “is better.”

    I suggest that the difference is not quite what you make it out to be.

    I agree with you that we can judge a bowling match quite clearly and objectively and say who performed “better”. As Stephen pointed out, this occurs because we agree on an arbitrary set of rules beforehand.

    But let’s just accept your assumption for now and say that we can judge the bowling match, but can’t judge the “better” ice cream, only prefer one.

    So to judge the bowling match, we read the rules, then watch 2 players bowl, count the pins and we have a clear winner. To judge ice cream, we taste it and then can argue back and forth which one is better.

    I can see the difference you are trying to show us, certainly.

    It brings to mind the question though, how can one judge between Pope John Paul II and Sarah Palin, and their views on what is “pro-life”? How to we determine which one is objectively right? Does this judgment better resemble the judgment of bowling or of ice cream?

    So how is this matter judged? PJPII tells us that abortion is deeply wrong and that capital punishment is deeply wrong. Ms. Palin tells us that abortion is deeply wrong, but that capital punishment is both moral and a fundamental right of society.
    We know one is objectively right and one is objectively wrong. Who is right? Who is “better” on this question and how do we know? How does the process work? What does the criteria (the equivalent of the bowling rules) look like?
    Once we know the answer we can work on the second part – determining whether this more closely resembles the case of bowling or of ice cream.

    In the case of bowling, we can explain to and quickly find agreement with anyone able to understand the rules about who the “better” bowler was. We simply give them a quick rundown of the rules, show a match and it becomes clear that the person with 10 strikes in a row was better than the person with 20 gutter-balls. We wouldn’t expect to find any objections at all among those who understand the rules, and it would take almost no time to reach consensus. If we repeated the process in 2,000 years, we would expect the exact same result.
    With ice cream, the story would be much more complicated. We would probably continue to have lots of disagreement and consensus might never be reached in a large group. Who knows what people in 2,000 years would think!

    So if we go out and randomly find people, bring them your judgment criteria and the positions of PJPII and Ms. Palin, would we find quick consensus one the judgment criteria and positions were understood by all? (I sort of ask for this above, but I’d like to see the judgment criteria so that I myself way know, which is objectively right.) Would we expect the exact same result in 2,000 years?
    Next, I’d like to question the distinction you make between “prefer” and “is better”.

    Let’s forget about ice cream for a second, and talk about some other things in which I think we would all agree objective criteria do not exist. Since you brought up sports, I’ll stick with that category for now. Do you believe that there is an objective standard for boxing? Is there an objective rubric which can tell us whether Mohammed Ali, Joe Lewis or Jack Johnson was the greatest heavyweight of all time?
    If no objective standard exists (and I submit one does not), does that then mean we cannot state that one boxer is better than any another? You seem to say that we cannot. You said the only reason we can do it with bowling is that an objective standard does exist.

    I submit that common sense tells us that in fact we can say, with full confidence, that Joe Lewis was in fact a better boxer than the countless boxers with failed carriers who suffered nothing but losses. (We cannot resort to winning percentage, since we all agree not is not an objective standard that can settle who is the best. Jack Johnson’s record is not terribly impressive as a percentage, but he is clearly in the handful of greats.)

    We can easily say that boxer A (Jack Johnson) is better than boxer B (boxer of no renown). To use the word prefer here would not make sense – even though no objective standard exists. At best you could say “I’d prefer to have Joe Lewis, if I were starting a boxing team” but there’s a simple reason you might prefer to have Joe Lewis, he is better than almost everyone else!

    Again, you can do this with many sports. American football fans may argue whether Joe Montana or Tom Brady is a better quarterback. Lacking an objective standard, this debate goes on and cannot definitively be settled. Ask anyone who likes the sport though, and you will easily reach consensus that Joe Montana is far better than Ryan Leaf. To suggest that, in reality, Joe Montana is no better than Ryan Leaf is ludicrous. Yet your paradigm tells us exactly that!

    England fans may argue if Gary Linker or Bobby Charlton is the best, but no one believes that the lack of objective criteria which can be used to settle that debate means that Peter Crouch is actually their equal.

    You might say that while statistics don’t help us define the true “greatest” they can help define larger groups like “good” and “poor.” So let’s bring in another category: we can say the same for music. No criteria can tell us whether Strawberry Fields or Wish You Were Here is a better song or what song is the “best ever”. You may say, correctly, that some people “prefer” one over another, and no objective criteria exists to judge the quality of songs. But it would be silly to say that this means that Strawberry Fields is really no different in quality than Rebecca Black’s Friday. It would be beyond silly, actually. Your paradigm seems to require it though. (In fact my moral consciousness reveals to me that it would be wrong for anyone to assert that there is no difference in quality between Strawberry Fields and Friday.)

    You may say that sports and music are too trivial (though this seems like special pleading – applying a different set of rules – I’d be sympathetic to the viewpoint), so let me offer something more consequential. We could talk about the countries of the world. Surely we agree that no objective criteria exists to tell us which country is the best place to live – is Canada objectively a better place to live than Sweden? There are many factors we can look at – life expectancy, crime, per capita GDP, but none give us a concrete, objective answer to the overall question. In fact, the answer may be different for different people based on simple preferences. Someone who likes a certain kind of weather may find San Francisco to be a better place to live, while someone who likes warmer summers may favor Marseille. Yet the lack of a universal standard which would allow us to say “the United States is a better country to live in than Luxembourg” does not preclude us from universally saying “the United States is a better country to live in than North Korea”. The latter comparison would probably not be a difficult one to quickly reach near consensus on among a random group of people with good information.

    Your paradigm though, doesn’t allow us to say that, but only that “we prefer to live in the US”. I submit to you that this is again, ludicrous. Would you really say that “the United States and North Korea are no different when it comes to quality of life, but I simply prefer the United States”?

    I will be honest with you. If you tell me that you think they are not different in any real way and that your preference for the US is akin to the preference you might have for strawberry over chocolate ice cream, I will have a hard time believing you.

    If you had a small child and I said “your child will be taken from you and given to a randomly chosen family – either in North Korea or in the United States.” The arguments you make seem to require you to say “there’s no objective standard, so it’s just a meaningless preference that I have between the two.” (You go as far as saying that in a subjective paradigm, there is no reason to recoil at the torture of babies!!!) I submit that you would not actually react like this in the random adoption case. My guess would be you would take this quite seriously. I’d think (and honestly hope) that you would sacrifice quite a bit to ensure that your child went to the right “the same, though I may have a meaningless preference” place.

    I hope that these examples show quite clearly that the paradigm in which “better” applies only to things which can be judged objectively, and “prefer” applies only to things which cannot, doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny.

    I did want to make one more point about how the two relate when it comes to morality. I’d like to ask if you can give us an example of something where “objective morality” disagrees with your personal preferences. In other words a statement like: “abortion is morally wrong, but I’d prefer to see more abortions take place.”
    (This would not be something like “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but at times I’d prefer to cheat on my spouse” but rather “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but I would prefer to see more cheating take place in society.” I can explain why this distinction is necessary if it’s not self-evident.)

    Are there a lot of examples of such disagreement?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  59. Terry L says:

    We know one is objectively right and one is objectively wrong. Who is right? Who is “better” on this question

    The one whose opinion more closely aligns to the Moral Standard is better. That’s not to say that either of them are right… both may be wrong in some ways.

    and how do we know?

    Some questions of the moral law cannot be intuited because of our fallen nature. We must rely on revelation at that point. As a Christian, I look to the life of Christ as revealed in scripture. That’s leaving out a ton of supporting evidence for why I believe that the Bible is trustworthy, and true, and that Jesus is who he claimed to be. But from some of your other posts, I’m assuming I don’t have to convince you of this…

    The Moral Standard is not the written rules as found in the Bible, but the life of Christ itself. HOWEVER, the written rules will always line up with his life. I’ve already explained why written law can never fully encompass morality. So my answer to “how do we know” would be to, as much as it is cliche these days, ask “What would Jesus do?”

    would we find quick consensus one the judgment criteria and positions were understood by all?

    Would we expect the exact same result in 2,000 years?

    As Jesus is no longer bodily on Earth so that we can record more of his actions, the record of the standard as revealed in scripture isn’t going to change. Therefore, with the understanding that God protects and keeps his Written Word, yes, I would expect the standard to be exactly the same in 2000 years. Now that’s certainly not to say that men’s acceptance or rejection of the standard will allow them to come to the same consensus. Written rules are certainly less open to interpretation than behavior, but behavior is no less an objective standard because of it.

    We can easily say that boxer A (Jack Johnson) is better than boxer B (boxer of no renown). To use the word prefer here would not make sense – even though no objective standard exists. At best you could say “I’d prefer to have Joe Lewis, if I were starting a boxing team” but there’s a simple reason you might prefer to have Joe Lewis, he is better than almost everyone else!

    “Better” in this case depends on what you’re looking for. If you have a stable full of brawlers, you might bypass another brawler for someone with more finesse in order to round out your team. This happens every year during the drafts for football, basketball, etc. People are chosen based on the team’s need.

    But it would be silly to say that this means that Strawberry Fields is really no different in quality than Rebecca Black’s Friday.

    Based on what standard? Sonic fidelity? Compositional complexity? Performance accuracy? You still need a standard. Some of these are completely objective. Sonic fidelity is certainly not subjective; nor is performance accuracy. Although some may prefer songs that do not fully conform to the standard, (a metronome-perfect performance is abhorrent in jazz), that doesn’t change the fact that one player more plays the notes more closely to the exact time and with the correct volume than others. How much variation you desire to make the music warm and enjoyable is subjective, and a matter of taste.

    Yet the lack of a universal standard which would allow us to say “the United States is a better country to live in than Luxembourg” does not preclude us from universally saying “the United States is a better country to live in than North Korea”.

    If you had a small child and I said “your child will be taken from you and given to a randomly chosen family – either in North Korea or in the United States.” The arguments you make seem to require you to say “there’s no objective standard, so it’s just a meaningless preference that I have between the two.”

    Your paradigm though, doesn’t allow us to say that, but only that “we prefer to live in the US”

    I will suggest here that, given an objective Moral Law, that for all our faults and failures, our laws and our leaders come closer to that standard than those of North Korea. That makes this a much better place to live. I don’t see this as an amoral choice at all, unless you’re positing an amoral universe. I didn’t see that in your post…

    (This would not be something like “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but at times I’d prefer to cheat on my spouse” but rather “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but I would prefer to see more cheating take place in society.” I can explain why this distinction is necessary if it’s not self-evident.)

    Please do. I tend to be of the opinion that government works best in the smallest populations. Why? Because if every man governed himself appropriately, no other government would be necessary for more than administrative purposes. The quality of the morality of the society starts with the morality of the individual, then the family, then the community, and on up to the nation. So I’m not certain why you make the distinction.

    Most all of us want to break the rules at times, even though we want everyone else to play it straight. This is more evidence that morality is objective… we just don’t want to be bound by it. We want a little “swing” in our music, and a little warmth in the recording instead of the harshness of perfect sonic fidelity.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “That makes this a much better place to live.”

      But without your moral law one cannot say it’s a better place to live? So if you were discussing whether it’s better to live in America, or in a cave where someone tortures you every day, you would claim that ‘moral law’ aside, the difference between the two comes down to simple preference? Someone’s torturing you, and you’d be thinking “It’s mere preference that I’d rather NOT be tortured”?

      Reply
  60. Terry L says:

    Someone’s torturing you, and you’d be thinking “It’s mere preference that I’d rather NOT be tortured”?

    Not me! I see morality as absolute and objective. If it’s not objective… if my preference is only inside my own head (as it would be if morality is merely an evolutionary product or a social/cultural norm), then my preference not to be tortured is no more or less legitimate than my torturer’s desire to torture me.

    It sounds absurd because it is! But that’s what your left with when you try to do away with the moral authority. There’s no one left to tell my torturer, “You shouldn’t do that! And you may think you’re getting away with it, but I’m taking note… and I WILL execute justice.”

    The bottom line is, morality is either objective, and it therefore is the same for all men at all times in all places; or it’s subjective, and can vary from person to person, meaning that no one’s morality is better than another.

    Reply
  61. Stephen B says:

    “Not me! I see morality as absolute and objective.”

    Once again, you seem to be just skim-reading my posts. Please read it again. I’ll repeat it below, and this time emphasise the bit you seemed to have missed (I’ll try to use HTML, but I’m generally rubbish at this, so forgive me if it doesn’t work).

    But without your moral law one cannot say it’s a better place to live? So if you were discussing whether it’s better to live in America, or in a cave where someone tortures you every day, you would claim that ‘moral law’ aside, the difference between the two comes down to simple preference? Someone’s torturing you, and you’d be thinking “It’s mere preference that I’d rather NOT be tortured”?

    “It sounds absurd because it is!”

    My point is that it’s absurd that you’re saying that WITHOUT a reference to God, you don’t think there’s any difference between living a long happy life in America, and being tortured for years in a cave. You’re saying there’s NO DIFFERENCE at all that isn’t just personal preference? So if you lost your faith, you’d be COMPLETELY INDIFFERENT over which of the two lives you or your family had? REALLY?

    Reply
  62. Luke says:

    You guys seem to be arguing about the DPRK based on criteria incorporating how well a country hews to the “objective moral standard” (OMS) to determine how good of a place it might be to live.

    The question is though: That makes it a good place to live based on whose standard?

    (I can certainly imagine that for a devil worshiper a country that strays far from the OMS might be a much nicer place to live.)

    You seem to just be talking about your own preferences here!

    I’ll let Terry object to his own answer:

    Terry said:I will suggest here that, given an objective Moral Law, that for all our faults and failures, our laws and our leaders come closer to that standard than those of North Korea. That makes this a much better place to live. (emphasis mine)

    Terry always says: Based on what standard?

    Terry, I also asked you the following question, and you asked for a clarification:

    The question was: I’d like to ask if you can give us an example of something where “objective morality” disagrees with your personal preferences. In other words a statement like: “abortion is morally wrong, but I’d prefer to see more abortions take place.”

    (This would not be something like “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but at times I’d prefer to cheat on my spouse” but rather “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but I would prefer to see more cheating take place in society.” I can explain why this distinction is necessary if it’s not self-evident.)

    You said, please do, asking for an explanation.

    Since you asked, I’ll be glad to provide it.

    So morality can be defined as a series of “ought” statements and “ought not” statements.

    This is different from “desire” statements.

    So for example, I believe it is morally right to respect the body G-d gave us. Habitually poor eating, lack of exercise are therefore wrong. In other words, I might say “one ought not eat a lot of doughnuts.”

    To say “one ought not eat a lot of doughnuts” is an ought statement. “I want to eat a doughnut” is a desire statement.

    If you’ve every thought “I really want to xxx, but I know I shouldn’t” then you know what I mean.

    (The example I gave of what the answer would not look like was improper because it mixed up those categories — I ought and I want.)

    In my question, I also said that the preference would be for something “society” at large ought to do, not just something relating to you personally. The reason for this distinction is that morality is not about “I ought” but about “humanity ought”. It’s not really very meaningful to say “I ought not commit genocide” if you have no problem at all with others committing it!

    I hope all of that doesn’t sound pedantic, I just wanted to be clear.

    So those are the reasons why I said: This would not be something like “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but at times I’d prefer to cheat on my spouse” but rather “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but I would prefer to see more cheating take place in society.”

    Another way to have phrased this question might have been: Are there any examples of a moral action that objective morality says “society ought” to do, which differs from your personal preference for what “society ought” to do?

    I hope that helps.

    Luke

    Reply
  63. Terry L says:

    Stephen:

    My point is that it’s absurd that you’re saying that WITHOUT a reference to God, you don’t think there’s any difference between living a long happy life in America, and being tortured for years in a cave.

    It’s not that I’m skim-reading… but perhaps I’m not communicating well in my haste why I see things as I do.

    I do stand by my statement that without objective morality, “my preference not to be tortured is no more or less legitimate than my torturer’s desire to torture me.” If there is no wrong or right, then might determines everything.

    But on the other hand, as I said on the other thread, an a-theistic universe where nothing changes in our day to day lives renders a lot of concepts incoherent and undefendable. People have been trying to find a way to replace God as the basis for morality for centuries. I’m reading Hume’s attempt to do so now. None of them answer the simple question, “Why? Who says?” Many of them beg the question. “We should do good to others because we want them to do good to us” doesn’t define good at all, nor does the logic hold in all cases.

    That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t judge between countries using other criteria… some of which are just as objective.

    My point is that it’s absurd that you’re saying that WITHOUT a reference to God, you don’t think there’s any difference between living a long happy life in America, and being tortured for years in a cave

    [In an atheistic universe, you’re] saying there’s NO DIFFERENCE at all that isn’t just personal preference?

    Of course there’s a difference. In one, you’re living a life of relative ease. In the other, you know no ease. Stating that these two scenarios would result in the same outcomes is ridiculous.

    But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re discussing whether or not my tormentor can be called evil… whether he is doing something objectively wrong by torturing me.

    So, I’ll turn the question back around to you… what is the moral difference between torturing and not torturing… between being tortured and not being tortured? Why should the torturer stop? Because you want him to? What makes your opinion more authoritative than his?

    Who says that what he is doing is wrong, and why should we believe them? Telling me that I should “know” that torture is wrong is NOT an answer, and only serves to reinforce my argument that morality is objective.

    So if you lost your faith, you’d be COMPLETELY INDIFFERENT over which of the two lives you or your family had?

    Not my position. My faith has nothing to do with it. The question begins and ends with God’s existence, not my belief in him. Faith in something is only as valid as the object in which you place your faith. You can have all of the faith in the world in a shoestring, but I don’t recommend swinging over the Grand Canyon on it. All the faith in the world won’t save you if the object of your faith, the shoestring, isn’t string enough to hold you up.

    Luke:

    Terry said:I will suggest here that, given an objective Moral Law, that for all our faults and failures, our laws and our leaders come closer to that standard than those of North Korea. That makes this a much better place to live. (emphasis mine)

    Terry always says: Based on what standard?

    By the standard of the Objective Moral Law, of course. I said so in the first sentence: “…our laws and our leaders come closer to that standard…“.

    Terry, I also asked you the following question, and you asked for a clarification:

    Yeah… I ended up coming up with a similar scenario after I asked you for that, and understood what you were driving at. Still, let me work through your post:

    So morality can be defined as a series of “ought” statements and “ought not” statements.

    No.

    Morality is a standard of behavior. It must be what it measures… therefore a standard of behavior must be behavior–namely the behavior of a life lived in perfect consistency with the nature of God.

    Morality does concern itself with what ought and ought not to be. It can be described with words, but not defined by words.

    I’d like to ask if you can give us an example of something where “objective morality” disagrees with your personal preferences.
    (This would not be something like “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but at times I’d prefer to cheat on my spouse” but rather “cheating on a spouse is morally wrong, but I would prefer to see more cheating take place in society.”

    The difficulty with providing an example is this… we all want everyone else to follow the moral law even when we do not! We condemn the bank robber while stealing office supplies from our employer. We condemn the murderer while hating our in-laws. We rail at the jaywalker we almost hit, ignoring the fact that we were driving 10 mph over the limit.

    Secondly, it is illogical to believe that society at large should not do what they ought. Most likely, one would desire a change in societal mores only if it was of some illicit benefit to themselves. The lech would condone public nudity, for instance. Unfortunately, most of us (including me) are rather blind to those areas where we do the same thing.

    The example I gave of what the answer would not look like was improper because it mixed up those categories — I ought and I want.

    When discussing morality though, those are linked. To want to do something when you know you shouldn’t is more evidence for objective morality. Otherwise, how could you know you “shouldn’t”?

    This battle between “I want” and “I ought” has raged in every human for centuries. Paul described it in one of his letters… don’t recall of the top of my head. I’ll find it later if you’d like.

    Gotta run…

    Reply
  64. Luke says:

    So what if they come closer to that standard? Who says that how close a place comes to fulfilling the OML matters in determining the best country in which to live?

    Really, who says?

    Maybe you prefer countries that conform best to the OML. Maybe others don’t.

    How big of a part does adherence to the moral law play? Is it all that matters, or is it just one part of a bigger formula?

    I’ll wait to hear your answer, but it sure seems like this is just your “preference” and you’re using objective criteria, at least in part, to form that “preference”.

    As far as my other question. I am not sure you understand what I’m saying. You say a lot of things that don’t make sense in context of the question. I’ll try to ignore that and clarify the question.

    This point though, I really don’t get. You saidWhen discussing morality though, [I ought and I want] are linked. To want to do something when you know you shouldn’t is more evidence for objective morality. Otherwise, how could you know you shouldn’t?

    First of all, aren’t you the guy who’s spent thousands of words telling us that what people want has nothing to do with the objective moral law? That’s the whole point of it being objective! It’s independent of what people want and think. Right?

    Second of all, I know there are lots of things I shouldn’t do that I have no desire to do. I’m mystified that you’d think I’d need to have the desire to know they are wrong.

    I know I shouldn’t leap off the observation deck of a tall building (it would be morally wrong), yet I’ve never had the desire too.

    I know I shouldn’t rape another person (it would be morally wrong). I’ve never wanted to.

    I can think of about 7,000,000 more examples. I’m going to assume you didn’t think this through, because the idea that you, Terry, actually have desires for all behavior you call immoral freightening.

    Let me try to ask the original question a different way.

    There is an objective moral law. Yes?

    This says people and society ought to do x, y, and z, etc.

    You, Terry, have ideas about what society and people “ought” to do. Yes?

    Is there a place where those two disagree? If so, what are some examples?

    Thanks,

    Reply

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