As promised in my last post on the RRS, I will be launching my first salvo in response to this group of atheists who have recently gained popularity. It's not so much that I have a problem with them gaining popularity; it's that I have a problem that they do so under the rubric of "rationality." The RRS pretends to be intellectual competitors to theism. They glory under the assumption that they are using reason and good critical thinking skills to help raise the general consciousness of the citizens of the world up to the level of recognizing that theism is a "mind virus." They frequently pretend that the theist cannot even attempt to stand on equal footing with them, intellectually. It is this myth about the RRS that I have a problem with. It is that people (mainly teenagers) are buying that these guys actually adhere to "good reason," while the theist adheres to "faith" (where 'faith' is defined as something opposed to reason, or something like a blind leap in the dark), that I have a problem with.
As I said in my previous post (link above), I challenged Brian Insapient to a public debate, but he declined. He also declined to debate via email (citing that his lawyer told him to cease communication). Recently, he deleted my account at his discussion forums. My crime: Posting a link to the blog entry I wrote. That was all I posted there. Apparently the RRS needs to censure all of those who stand in opposition to them. And so once we analyze the situation, it appears that we have scared children who need to run in numbers, merely mock their opponent, and silence opposition which would make them look bad. Given this modus operandi, of course they can make themselves look formidable to the teenage onlookers. But we can all see now that they're all bark and no bite.
The below blog entry serves to begin to undermine any intellectual respectability the RRS pretends to have. I took the liberty to answer all 89 of their questions to theists about God. Granted, the RRS have not themselves posted these questions, but they do endorse them. Brian Insapient is the one who transferred these questions and placed them on the RRS site. Insapient claims of these questions: "If [theists] could answer all of [these questions], they'd have done an awfully good job proving Yahweh, exists." He also claims that, "I personally would formulate more questions, however if the above questions could be answered well I'd have to admit that the bible was more plausible then I give it credit for." And just so he doesn't respond that he thinks the questions weak, Insapient claims that, "For 6 years we've proposed these questions and they remain on the list because they've never been answered well." And so we shall see if Brian Insapient will again refuse to put his money where his mouth is. Will Brian Insapient admit "the bible [sic] is more plausible than [he] gives it credit for?"
Lastly, I'd like to thank Jim Lazarus and Steve Hays for looking over a rough draft of these answers. Special thanks goes to Steve Hays who himself fired back answers to all 89 questions in just a few hours after reading them. So, I also included, involved, or made us of most of his answers to the questions. Likewise, all the T-blog members have touched on these matters before and so I've gleaned from things they've said over the time I've been here. But, I'll add this caveat: though I agree with all the answers below, that should not be taken to mean that all the members of T-blog agree with the answers given below. Also, any stupid answers, errors (factual, grammatical, or otherwise), and illogical reasoning, are to be attributed solely to myself.
Q1. If Jesus fulfilled all the OT prophecies so well, why didn't the Jews recognize him as the messiah? - Francois Tremblay
(i) First, the question presupposes that the fact that Jesus fulfilled the OT prophecies implies that the Jews see that as a fact.
This is like arguing, ex hypothesi, why, if “science” has proven macro-evolution so well, don’t the majority of people believe it. Would any Darwinist count the fact that some people fail to see the fact that macro-evolution is the case, as a reason against the fact that macro-evolution did indeed occur?
(ii) This question presupposes that Jesus fulfilled the OT prophecies in the way that the Jews expected them to be fulfilled.
(iii) This argument presupposes doxastic voluntarism. The Bible presents man as, in his natural state, a God-hater. Man cannot, according to the Bible, will himself to believe the great truths of the gospel (Rom. 8:7-8) without the prior regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.
(iv) Apropos (iii), (Q1) presupposes that “facts” are neutral, and that empirical evidence demands we believe what said evidence points to. The Bible denies this naïve assumption. Jesus says to those who think seeing miracles performed will lead to belief in God that, “'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:31). This point can be made using a pagan illustration. Imagine an ancient Greek, Apollinaris. He believes both (a) that Apollo is a god and that (b) all gods are immortal. Now, image that Apollinaris sees a great battle take place. During this battle, Apollinaris sees Apollo die. And so the question is, which belief does Apollinaris give up? (a) or (b)? Well, depending on which belief he was more committed to, he could give up either. The Bible recognizes this fact. And so when people are witness to Jesus’ miracles and teachings, they might give up the belief that “this is the Messiah,” instead forming the belief that “this man is demon possessed” (e.g., John 7:20; John 8:48-52; John 10:20-21). Or, some might give up the belief that Jesus fulfilled of the prophecy regarding Jesus’ silence before his accusers (Isa. 53:7; Matt. 27:12-14), and hold on to the belief that Jesus was a weak man, not worthy of fulfilling the role of a strong, warrior messiah.
(v) (Q1) forgets that the OT and NT also tell us that the Jews would reject the messiah (Is. 53:1-3; Ps. 2:1-6; Ps. 118:22-23, etc.,). Indeed, the Jews rejected and killed all of the prophets God sent, including the chief prophet, the God-man, Jesus, (Lk. 11:50). The rejection of Jesus by the Jews, and their murder of the Son of God, was predetermined by God. Says Peter, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Acts 2:22-23).
(vi) Thus the rejection of Jesus by the Jews is actually confirmation of the Bible, rather than disconfirmation. That is, the question presupposes the biblical witness as true. Stated another way, it’s self-defeating.
Q2. If Gen 3:24 is true, why hasn't anyone found the Cherubims [sic] and the " flaming sword which turned every way"?
(i) Oh, pardon me; I thought these guys were asking serious questions.
(ii) “Cherubim” is already the plural form of “Cherub.” Thus, one does not need to say “Cherubims.”
(iii) Argumentum ad ignorantium?
(iv) Genesis 3:24 represents the truth that man can no longer attain eternal life by his good works. That was the first covenant, the covenant of works, this way is not open to man any longer. All who seek to eat of the tree of life must enter the heavenly garden by grace alone, through faith alone, on the basis of Christ’s life and death alone.
(v) The question assumes that the garden would still be around even though left untended. That it would not erode. What’s the basis for this assumption? Do atheists believe in erosion? If the garden were gone, there would be no more need for the angels.
(vi) The question assumes that the biblical flood would not have done away with the garden.
(vii) The question is like asking, if physicalism is true, how come no one has found an answer to the hard problem of consciousness yet?
(viii) The question has more baggage than a Sampsonite factory.
O3. It's been proven that modern humans originated from Africa. Yet, the Adam and Eve story claims the first Humans lived in a garden in Eden, near 4 rivers (most of which no one can find). One of these rivers mentioned is the Euphrates, which runs through Iraq, Syria and a portion of Turkey. What's the truth? Did man come out of Africa or near the Euphrates River? - The Infidel Guy
(i) I don’t know how “proven” is being used here. I don’t agree that it’s been “proven” that humans originated from Africa. Unless, of course, “proven” means: “those who accept” that you can establish lineal descent despite the fact that fossil finds are widely separated in space and time. Anyway, even among evolutionists this theory of origins is debated. There’s also the multiregional hypothesis, the hybrid hypothesis, as well as the RSOH model. Anyway, the Out of Africa model is considered a hypothesis and not proven as of yet.
(ii) Kurt Wise, who obtained a Ph.D. from Harvard under Gould, doesn’t think “it’s been proven that modern humans originated from Africa.”
(iii) There’s no certainty about the river’s location. Eastern Africa is very close to Western Middle East.
(iv) Many peer reviewed scientific studies have used the study of human pathologies to determine the origin of man. They conclude that man’s origin is best put in the Middle East.
(v) Given the uncertainty above (as well as OEC theories), the evidence pro and con, the Christian is not served a defeater for his belief with this question.
Q4. When the believer gets to Heaven, how can Heaven be utter bliss when people they love and care about are burning in Hell? - The Infidel Guy - [Note: Some say God erases your memories of them, but if God erases your memory, you as Mr. Joe /Jane Smoe ceases to exist.]
(i) In heaven, the righteous will rejoice in the righteous and just judgments of God.
(ii) The question presupposes that it is wrong or evil for God to send people to hell.
(iii) The question leaves out glorification. It assumes an answer to the question based upon only progressively sanctified assumptions at best, unregenerate assumptions at worst.
(iv) Since the chief end of man is to glorify God, and God is glorified in His punishments of the wicked, man will not be upset about the just punishment of sinners.
(v) The real family of believers are those found in Christ. Physical bond is nothing compared to the bond believers have as adoptive members of God’s family.
(vi) The question also presupposes (in brackets) a memorial view of persons. Since my memories today are not the same as the memories of my 5 yr old person slice, how can we both be the same person? Further, we can develop modal arguments against this view. It is broadly logically possible that we have had different contingent experiences, thus different memories. The memorial view cannot make sense of the modalities involved here. Lastly, imagine being young and dumb and having to pay a speeding ticket in your 20’s. The, imagine that you are a middle aged police detective, you remember paying the fine. The, as a retired captain, in your twilight, you remember being a police detective but not paying the fine. This suggests that the speedster is the detective, the detective is the retired captain, and the retired captain is not the speedster. This is absurd. If x and y are one, and y and z are one, then x and z cannot be two.
(vii) Apropos (vi), persons are substances that have memories, they are not their memories.
Q5. How can a God have emotions, i.e. jealousy, anger, sadness, love, etc., if he is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent? Emotional states are reactionary for the most part. How can God react to us if he is all-knowing and has a divine plan? - IG
(i) Scripture, accommodating itself to human language, speaks of God having emotion.
(ii) This should be defined biblically, though. We shouldn’t think of God, if we’re going to ascribe “emotions” to him, like the spoiled gods of the Greek pantheon, or like human emotion, which can be sinful, capricious, or bring forth tears, a queasy stomach, etc.
(iii) God’s “emotions” are not like ours, the have a biblically defined sense.
(iv) God’s emotions should be viewed as “reactions” to the situation must be seen in light of His sovereign plan. The “reactions” are God’s evaluations of the change that He has decreed to happen in history. God evaluates different events in different ways. This is all part of His plan. His evaluations are included in His eternal plan.
(v) When God is said to be angry, for example, that is an expression of His true and correct evaluation of sin. He decreed the sin as part of His eternal plan, but He also decreed his evaluation (or, “reaction) to the sin.
(vi) Apropos ((i)-(v)), we can see that this view of God’s “emotions” does not conflict with His other divine attributes. He doesn’t have capricious reactions to unknown events, rather, biblically, He evaluates the changes in time which happen according to His plan, and, His plan includes His revealing to us His correct evaluations of the events. These evaluations can be said to be God’s “reactions” to the events.
Q6. Why would God create a place such as hell to torture sinners forever when he foreknew who would disappoint him? - IG
(i) Stated a better way: Why would God create a place such as hell to justly punish sinners forever when He foreknew who would sin and rebel against Him?
(ii) Answer: To have a place to punish criminals in His universe.
(iii) What is the questioner trying to argue? That God should not have created people He knew would sin against Him? Why think that? What does the Bible say about why God bothers with sinners? Romans 9 tells us 22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory…” And so since God is the highest good, knowing God is the highest good for us. Hell exhibits the justice of God. Apart from sin, there would be no existential knowledge of God’s justice to the reprobate, or mercy to the elect.
Q7. "God is all merciful," we hear quite often. Wouldn't it be more merciful of God to simply snap sinners out of existence rather than send them to hell? Or better yet, since he's all-knowing, not allow them to be born at all? - IG
(i) God is not “all merciful.” Mercy is discretionary. That’s the point of mercy. And with this rejection of the premise, the question poses no problem to Christian theism.
(ii) God is just. “Snapping sinners out of existence” is merciful, as the questioner points out. Thus God’s justice on criminals who deserve hell would not be served. God would be being unjust. Why do apostates want an unjust God?
(iii) If it is asked why God doesn’t take impute everyone’s punishment on to Christ it can be pointed out that God is under no obligation to do so (see (A7), (i)).
Q8. Muslims are supposed to pray 5 times a day towards Mecca. Each prayer includes a variety of ritualism and posturing. If a muslim [sic] astronaut were to land on Mars. Prayer to Mecca would be ritualistically impossible due to the rotation of Earth and Mars. Are Muslims stuck here in Earth? IG
(i) Christians aren’t Muslims and so don’t need to bother with this question.
Q9. Why haven't we seen God reattach severed heads, restore someone who was burned alive or regrow amputated limbs? Surely these would be miracles difficult to deny. - Adam Majors and IG [Note: The typical answer is that man doesn't dictate God's actions. The conundrum here however is that, if God wants us to "know" him, then surely feats such as those mentioned above would be happening all over the world. Until they do, I'll remain an atheist.]
(i) According to the bible, everyone does know that God exists. He doesn’t need miracles for this.
(ii) If they mean that God wants everyone to “believe in Him,” then I’d deny this.
(iii) Why would these miracles be hard to deny? I addressed this in ((A1), (iv)).
(iv) Note the picture of God as someone who needs to run around “proving Himself” to the atheist. News flash, God isn’t a schoolgirl who chases around the boys until the boys give her attention.
(v) Note the childish attitude: [arms crossed, stiff upper lip] “Until you do _____, I just won’t talk to you.”
Q.10 Why does God entrust the spreading of 'His' word to sinners? Why doesn't he do it himself? - IG [Note: Surely God would have known that not everyone would be convinced by the reality [sic] of his Bible. If God loves us so much, we are all going to Heaven. If God knew that I would be an atheist, and he doesn't like atheists, he shouldn't have allowed me to come into existence. But he did. Therefore, I must be serving the will of God, for I exist.
(i) God doesn’t love everyone equally. He doesn’t love the reprobate the way in he loves the elect. God’s love is a possessive and discriminating love, like marital love.
(ii) The purpose of the Gospel is not to make everyone believe in him. That’s one purpose, for the elect. But another purpose is to expose the iniquity of the reprobate (e.g. Jn 3:19-21; 9:39; 12:36-43).
(iii) What is with this repetitive and ridiculous argument that If God knows that P, but does not like P, then He should not have allowed P to happen? Where are the arguments for this? It’s like arguing: Since us humans don’t like our children to die, and we know that our children will die, then we shouldn’t have children.
Q11. In II Kings 2-23/24 we read about God sending 2 she-bears to attack children for calling the prophet Elisa bald, which he was, the bears killed 42 of the children. Was this a good thing to do? -- Brandon and IG [Note: I have heard some argue that the boys were a gang. So?! I didn't read anywhere in that passage where they laid a finger on the guy . Also, what kind of bears are these that can kill 42 kids? Super Bears? Surely the kids had to be running away.]
(i) The text doesn’t say the mob of 42 was killed. One might want to read what the texts that they’re using to make theism look absurd actually say.
(ii) Was it “good” for God to honor and protect his prophet? Yes.
Q.12 I have often heard from many believers that even Satan has a presence in the church, which is why even in church people can still have impure thoughts. If Satan can find his way in the church, how do Christians know that Satan didn't find his way into the Bible and twist the whole book? After all, men did vote on which books would make the Holy Bible. - The Infidel Guy
(i) The “I have often heard” refutation, most deadly in the hands of benighted individuals.
(ii) People aren’t morally neutral agents who would, without listening to the “devil on their shoulder,” otherwise have impure thoughts.
(iii) Why would Satan “find his way into a book” and cast himself as the villain and loser?
(iv) How do I know that Satan didn’t twist the whole book? Why should I entertain that thought? Provide a reason for me to think that. Perhaps the questioner is assuming that the mere logically possibility that we could be mistaken about P means that we can’t know that P. But of course this is absurd.
(v) The question assumes that we hold the Bible to be the word of God on the basis of inferring it from propositional evidence. But that’s not the case with me, at least. If the questioner assumes that none of our beliefs are rational if not held on the basis of propositional evidence, then the questioner needs to defend this. If it is rational to believe this, then the questioner should provide propositional evidence for his belief. Then, after he does so, he should provide propositional evidence for his belief that the propositional evidence he supplied for the former belief indeed supported the belief. After then, he can do the dance again…. ad infinitum
Q13. Why did God allow Lot and his daughters to escape from Sodom and Gomorra when he destroyed it only to later have Lot and his daughters engage in incestuous fornication. (Genesis 19:30-36) - Disillusioned
(i) I don’t see the problem. Is the argument that God can’t shouldn’t save a person S at t1, if S will sin at t2? But where’s the argument for that?
(ii) I appreciate what it shows about man’s total depravity. That God should save someone only for someone to sin shortly after shows us the depths of our ungratefulness and hatred towards God.
(iii) This is the story of the Bible. God saves His people from their enemies, the people respond ungratefully towards God. Question: Why does God save any of us?
Q14. Genesis 1:28-29 shows that man and all the animals were first created herbivorous. Most young-earth Christians (ones that believes the earth is less than 10,000 years old) say that the fall of man resulted in carnivorous animals ( hence death of animals). So, why did God punish the animal kingdom, making animals kill and devour each other because of man's mistake? Or, if you're an old-earth Christian (one that accepts that animals existed on earth for billions of years before man came on the scene) then how come fossils show carnivorous animals existed before man? -
(i) There are some major scholars who disagree with that interpretation of Gen 1:28 or 9:3, viz., Meredith Kline (Kingdom Prologue); C. John Collins (Genesis 1-4), and John H. Walton (The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis).
(ii) Assuming the questioner is correct:
(a) Adam represented all of creation as the federal head of it. The question presupposes the falsity of federal headship. But, given that paradigm, there’s no problem here.
(b) Jesus, the new Adam, brings restoration (cf. Romans 8).
(iii) This question personifies the animal kingdom as if it’s wrong for a carnivore to eat a herbivore. Animals cannot be treated unjustly by other animals.
Q.15 Many Christians believe that God is a thinking being, that he solves problems and makes a way for them when troubles come. Does God Think? If God is thinking, did he know his thoughts before he thought them? If so, again, where is his freewill and how is God thinking at all if everything seems to be one uncontrollable action/thoughts. - The Infidel Guy
(i) God’s thinking is not temporal. There is no temporal succession in God’s mind.
(ii) The questioner presupposes that discursive reasoning is the only type of reasoning. This is unargued for.
(iii) All the “befores” and “afters” assume that God is not atemporal.
(iv) God does not have libertarian free will. Do the questioners assume indeterminism?
(v) The questioners try to anticipate an atemporal rejoinder. Here is the surrejoinder:
ON GOD'S ATEMPORALITY
1.) God, an atemporal being, created the Universe.
2.) Creation is a temporal processes [sic] because X cannot cause Y to come into being unless X existed temporally prior to Y.
3.) If God existed prior to the creation of the Universe he is a temporal being.
4.) Since God is atemporal, God cannot be the creator the Universe.
[Note: I guess I should also note here that a timeless being would be without the proposition of past, and future. But to be omniscient, God must know the past and future. Hence a God that is atemporal and omniscient cannot logically exist.
(vi) “Creation” is equivocal. It can either refer to a creative cause or a creative effect. The effect is temporal.
(vii) God did not exist prior to the world. Rather, there was never a time when God did not exist.
(viii) Causation doesn’t assume temporal priority. That depends on your theory of causation. For example, counterfactual theories of causality do not assume temporal priority.
(ix) A timeless being can entertain propositions about time.
(x) The objection implicitly assumes the A-theory of time, according to which past, present, and future are objective states or relations. According to the B-theory of time, the only objective temporal relations are priority, simultaneity, and posterity.
(xi) Premise 3 denies what premise one granted. Built in contradiction.
Q.16 I have often heard that faith is all that is necessary [sic] to believe in God and accept the Bible as true. If this is true aren't all supernatural beliefs true since they also require "faith"? - IG ON FAITH
(i) Notice the first statement only says that “faith” is all that’s necessary to believe that, or, accept that, something is true, but then the second sentence claims that if something is accepted on faith then it is true. If they accepted the first sentence, their question doesn’t follow from it. It doesn’t follow that “If [faith means that you accept that P is true], then all beliefs held by faith are true.
They try to put the above formally:
1.) A prerequisite to believe in a Faith is faith.
2.) Having faith is all that is required to accept a Faith (belief) as true.
3.) All Faiths are true.
But of course the conclusion goes beyond the premise. The conclusion should read, “All faiths are accepted as true.” But this is a trivial and uninteresting point! This is hardly the makings of a defeater for the Christian worldview.
(ii) The demons believe in God but do not have saving faith in God. So, faith isn’t necessary for belief in God in this sense.
(iii) Notice the employing of the “I have heard it said” argument. It’s always easier to refute “them,” than an actual theist.
(iv) It is also necessary that one is regenerate before he can have faith in God. So it’s not the case that “all” that is necessary is faith.
Q.17 Why didn't God just kill Adam and Eve after the Fall and start from scratch? Actually, if God is all-knowing wouldn't he know that man would need to be killed eventually anyway, (the biblical flood)? Why create Adam and Eve at all? - ALSCARLATA@aol.com and email@example.com ON THE GARDEN OF EDEN
(i) Why didn’t the questioner’s parents just kill the questioner the first time s/he asked a stupid question, and then start over from scratch?
(ii) Yes, God knew He would kill many wicked humans via the flood, and he knew Adam and Eve would fall, and… God planned it all.
(iii) Why would an all-knowing God, which the question grants, not want to do what an all-knowing God knew was the best course of action to achieve His desired end? The fall was a means to an end.
Q.18 If a spirit is non-physical but the human body is physical, how does a spirit stay in our bodies? - IG ON SPIRITS
(i) Why is this question specifically for theists? There are atheists who are dualists about mind and body, and there are theists who are physicalists.
(ii) The soul (AKA mind, spirit) is not physical, and so is not “in” our bodies.
(iii) The soul is not in a body, but uses a body.
(iv) The RRS then posts this argument to supplement (Q.18):
1.) Spirits are not physical entities.
2.) Brains are physical entities.
3.) Past experiences are stored in our physical brains, we call that, Memory..
4.) Injury can damage portions of the physical brain that store memory and can alter or erase memories completely.
5.) If human spirits exist... after death, spirits can have no memory.
a) Are memories stored in the brain? Considering the extent to which new cells replace old cells in the course of a lifetime, how do we account for the continuity of memory given that physical dislocation if memories are encoded in the architecture of the brain?
b) Apropos (a), http://www.princeton.edu/pr/news/99/q4/1014-brain.htm
c) Does brain damage erase memory or does it impair retrieval?
d) Question presupposes that memories are physical. Unargued bias.
e) Even if memories are stored in the brain, this doesn’t prove that they cannot be stored elsewhere. That I may “store” water in my pantry does not imply that water is the pantry or that water cannot be stored elsewhere. While embodied my soul’s memories may be stored in the brain, but upon becoming disembodied my soul may store them elsewhere.
Q.19 Does God know his own future decisions? If God is all-knowing he actually shouldn't have any decisions to make at all. Nor can he choose anything over something else. For that would mean that he is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. In fact, he can't even think if this is the case. Since he can't DO anything, he might as well not exist. - IG ON GOD'S IMMUTABILITY - Unchangingness
(i) This is equivocal. God makes decisions about the future. But his decisions aren’t future to himself.
(ii) God’s thoughts were addressed above. The question is repetitious.
(iii) Why if God is all-knowing can’t He choose option A over option B? If God is choosing between contingent events, His omniscience doesn’t mean that there aren’t possible worlds where God could have chosen differently. God was under no obligation to create the world, for example. He was under no obligation to save sinners, for example. That God knew, based upon the council of His will, He would choose to save us does not mean that God could have chosen otherwise. God knows that P because God foreordained that P. God could have foreordained other than P.
(iv) Why is God not omnipotent if He cannot choose A over B? For example, God has chosen to bind Himself by a covenant to the elect. He cannot choose to send the elect to hell. God did not have to make a covenant with them, but after He chose to do this He included terms which stipulated that if He ever broke the covenant, He would kill Himself. Since it is impossible for a necessary being to kill Himself, then God cannot chose to violate the terms of His covenant with the elect. But why does this make Him non-omnipotent in the biblical sense? The Bible doesn’t define “omnipotence” as “able to do just anything one can think up.” So, the question doesn’t defeat a biblical understanding of omnipotence (the Bible tells us that there are things God cannot do, Heb.6:18; James 1:13-14; II Tim. 2:13). The biblical definition of omnipotence is that God can do all His holy will. Second, that God has the power to restrain Himself, to be able to always keep His word, seems closer to the idea of omnipotence than a God who is so weak willed that he has the “power” to break His promises.
Q.20 If God is all-knowing, how could he be disappointed in His creation? -- Pm453ca@aol.com
(i) Haven’t we discussed this a couple times above?
(ii) Why is the RRS including variations of the same question? It reminds me of pop theistic apologists who simply repackage their same material again and again. The consumer has to pay money for essentially the same material. The reader of the RRS has to pay his time he’ll never get back. It appears that the RRS just wants to make the “problems” for theism look more foreboding than they really are.
(iii) How is “disappoint” being used here. It can mean to “fail to live up to expectation.” Well, God does expect us to live up to the standards He’s set. When we don’t, we fail to live up to them. In this sense we disappoint Him. That he knew we would disappoint him does nothing to change the fact that we “failed to live up to the expectation.” Or, I suppose the questioner could be using disappoint to mean “to defeat the fulfillment, hopes, plans, etc., to thwart, frustrate, to disappoint.” If the interrogator means it in the latter sense, then God is not “disappointed in His creation.” Everything is going according to plan. And so when we read passages that suggest God’s disappointment we should read them as passages where God offers his authoritative evaluation of what happened, renews or delays covenant curses or blessings, etc.
Q.21 God struck down the Tower of Babel angry at the intent of the people that built them, if this is the case, many of the great pyramids ( which are bigger than any ziggurat) around the world should be rubble also, yet many still stand today. Were not the Egyptians and many other ancient pyramid builders reaching toward God /The Heavens? -
(i) Why assume the intent of the pyramid builders was the same as the ziggurat builders?
(ii) Ziggurats and pyramids don’t have the same function. Ziggurats were temples while pyramids were mausoleums.
(iii) The purpose God had in Babel was to confuse the languages. This had been accomplished by the time of the building of the great pyramids. Since the questioners grant that God is all-knowing, why assume that an all-knowing being thought that people could really build a tower to heaven? His purpose was to frustrate the plans of men; this all had a specific role in redemptive history, especially since God planned to reveal Himself to a specific people, in a specific nation, in a specific language.
Q.22 In the watchmaker analogy, a watch is used to show us intelligent design and compares that to the Universe as evidence of design. We know watches are designed because we have past experience with watches, as well as with other man made objects. My question is: What Universe is the Intelligent Design proponent using to compare this Universe with to draw such an analogy? What God did he see create a Universe? - IG
(i) Did Hume demolish the design argument or did Reid demolish Hume’s argument?
(ii) We don’t know that watches are designed because we have past experiences with watches, though our experience may confirm our design inferences.
(iii) If we knew design based on past experience, how did we recognize it in the first place?
(iv) Design inference isn’t inductive; it’s effect-to-cause reasoning.
(v) Before an interrogator raises a Humean objection to ID theory, is it too much of a bother to consult the ID literature? This question has already been dealt with:
Q.23 Why did God flood the earth to remove evil? It didn't work! Evil came right back, God should have known that would happen! So why did He bother? - Pinesap
(i) God didn’t send the flood to remove all evil. God sent the flood to cut evil down to size and rescue a godly remnant. Many other historical judgments serve the same function.
(ii) God knew alright that evil would return. God constantly judges man and his evil, man constantly ignores the judgment, and continues on in his evil way. The questioner’s point shows us the need for a savior.
(iii) In the Bible, we have four parts to history: creation, fall, redemption, and re-creation. At this point in the story we read of the fall and the ravaging effects of the fall. God then destroys the world, and in effect, ushers in re-creation. He brings Noah and his family over and they provide a link with the old creation. The language of the Noahic covenant (Gen. 9:1-7) takes us back to the language in Genesis 1-2. Noah is commanded to be fruitful and multiply, man is referred to as made in God’s image, and God reestablishes the seasonal cycles. This new creation, in a sense, leads to the tower of Babel, which might seem anti-climactic but, actually, is the precursor for God ending His dealings with the world, and switching to Abraham, and thus dealing with a particular person, nation, and tribe. At this point we move more towards the redemptive aspect of history. So, this act had a specific role in the drama that is unfolding before us.
Q.24 If the garden of Eden was a perfect paradise as xians claim, then why did Eve even want to eat the fruit? Wouldn't a perfect place provide everything a person would want or desire and thus she would want nothing? - keyser soze
(i) Why did Eve want to eat the fruit? She desired it.
(ii) Eden was created good.
(iii) Perfection is ambiguous. Perfect in relation to what? Hell is a place of perfect judgment. Will people in hell desire for their punishment to end? Sure.
(iv) Apropos (iii), in a good garden, people may desire to do something not-good.
(v) Since the garden “provided” the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and Eve desired to be autonomous, then the garden “provided” something she “wanted or desired.” Hence, the tools for answering the question were already in the question.
Q.25 Why would an all-powerful god become flesh in order to sacrifice himself to himself so that his creation might escape the wrath of himself. Couldn't god, in his infinite wisdom, come up with something a little more efficient? - Omphaloskeptic2@aol.com
(i) More repetition. Atheists treat the fall as an accident, and redemption as an afterthought.
(ii) The interrogator acts as if they’ve never bothered to crack open a systematic theology text.
(iii) The second person of the trinity took on a human nature and was one person, consisting of a divine and human nature. Hence he was fully man. Since the Bible operates on the concept of federal headship, the fallen sinners who previously had the first Adam as their federal head needed a new Adam to represent them. The second person of the trinity, taking on a human nature, thus secured for all of his what Adam lost for all of his. Further, the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ on the cross. Thus a human was punished. God needed to punish man. This was all achieved by the Second person of the trinity becoming man. The atheist may think this absurd or stupid, but its fully consistent given the biblical paradigm. Therefore the question presupposes another paradigm and acts as if the Bible is accountable to that paradigm rather than its own.
(iv) The RRS then post this argument in connection with (Q.25):
1.) God’s flesh was known as Jesus.
2.) Flesh cannot enter into Heaven (according to Paul)
3.) God is no longer Jesus.
4.) Jesus doesn’t exist.
a) God’s flesh isn’t known as Jesus. What are they talking about?
b) “Flesh” in P2, as used by Paul, is not referring to physical flesh, it’s referring to a sinful nature.
c) Jesus still is God the Son incarnate (read the book of Hebrews, for starters). He is forever the theanthropos.
d) It’s misleading to say that God is Jesus. God is the Trinity. Christian theology is Trinitarian rather than Unitarian. Jesus is divine in the same sense that the Father and the Spirit are divine.
Q.26 After 9/11 a lot of people have been tossing around " god bless america" [sic]. Why do they keep saying this? From the looks of it god hasn't blessed anything. If god had blessed america,[sic] the 9/11 event would've never happened. Theists seem to give the answer of "everything is part of gods big plan". If everything is part of gods big plan, why are we after Bin Laden? Wasn't he and other terrorists just carrying out gods desired plan? So it seems that Bin Laden/ terrorism isnt [sic] our enemy, but god. - firstname.lastname@example.org [Note: Unfortunately many religious nuts believe they are fulfilling their God's plan by going to war.]
(i) It’s also part of “God’s plan” that governments bring the sword to bear against evil doers.
(ii) Commits the fallacy of division. God’s plan is good, but that doesn’t mean that all the parts of the plan are good in and of themselves. If the stature of Liberty weighs 225 tons, why don’t the screws in the statue weigh 225 tons?
(iii) Because God has ordained that people would commit evil means that (a) we shouldn’t temporally punish evil and (b) God gives his moral stamp of approval t the terrorist?
(iv) Seems Paul Helm has already addressed topics like this:
“So does it follow from such knowing and willing permission of evil that the universe is in every detail as God intends it to be? This is an interesting question, but it is unclear as it stands. There is no reason to think that God intends the details of the universe separately; there is one divine will, which encompasses all events. It would be fallacious to suppose that the divine attitude is the same with respect to every detail of what God wills…As Aquinas put it, “God, and nature, and indeed every causal agent, does what is best overall, but not what is best in every part, except when the part is regarded in its relationship to the whole.” We may suppose that when God knowingly and willingly permits certain events he does so in furtherance of some wider consideration wholly consistent with his character with respect to which they are a logically necessary condition. And likewise some of those things which he causes are means to some further end. It is a fallacy to think that because some arrangement is wise, every detail of that arrangement, considered in isolation, is wise.” (J. Beilby & P. Eddy, eds. Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views (IVP 2001), 182.)
Q.27 Christians say that God is NOT the author of confusion. Can you say, Tower of Babel? - The Screaming Monkeys
(i) Here’s an idea: how about reading a passage in context and not using one out-of-context allusion to misinterpret another out-of-context allusion? The Tower of Babel and Church order are hardly the same thing. Different occasions, different purposes.
(ii) The passage in 1 Corinthians 14 is talking about how a church service should be governed. Specifically, it’s talking about how to govern a church engaged in the 1st century practice of tongues-speaking. Our worship services should honor the ordered mind of God.
(iii) Note that God is not a confused being, He is at peace. There is no disorder within His mind. But, that God is not a God of confusion does not imply that God cannot cause others to be confused.
(iv) And so apparently it is the questioner who is confused, about a great many things.
Q.28 If Noah's flood supposedly covered the earth for a year, regardless of whether or not all the animals could fit on the ark, what the heck happened to all the plants? Can you imagine a cactus surviving under 4 miles of water for a year? I can't either! - Kyle Giblet
(i) This assumes that the floodwaters were four miles deep. Is that what the Hebrew actually says? Not according to Walton’s commentary (pp325-26). Since Walton received his doctorate from Hebrew Union College, I assume he’s a reasonably competent Hebraist.
(ii) Scientists have pointed out that plant life and photosynthesis is possible where the ocean is frozen, let alone liquefied. This was true during the ice age, which evolutionary theory says took place in the Cryogenian period and lasted millions of years. “Deep ocean regions far from the supercontinent Rodinia or its remnants as it broke apart and drifted on the tectonic plates may have allowed for some small regions of open water preserving small quantities of life with access to light and CO2 for plants to use during photosynthesis generating traces of oxygen enough to sustain some oxygen-dependent organisms. This would still happen even if the sea froze over completely provided that the small portions of the ice were thin enough to admit light.”
(iii) Since I’m not a botanist, I don’t know how much flora could or could not survive. Some species are hardier than others. Some individuals are hardier than others. One also needs to distinguish between the survival of plant-life and the survival of seeds.
Q.29 The highest rainfall ever recorded in a 24 hour period was 47inches in the Reunion Islands in 1947 (during a severe tropical storm). To cover the whole earth to a depth of 5.6 miles, and cover the mountain tops (i.e. Mount Everest), it would need to rain at a rate of 372 (three hundred and seventy two) inches per hour, over the entire surface of the earth. Can rain fall at such an astronomical rate? Where did all the water come from?? Where did it all go to??? And would not the dynamics of the earth be so out of balance (tides etc.) that the earth would become so unstable that it would wobble off into outer space???? - Richmond1@btinternet.com
(i) Above we saw that the interpretation of Genesis which says that the entire earth was under 4 miles of water was questionable.
(ii) Of course if this is a miracle, God need not operate according to his normal way of governing creation (what people refer to as the regularity of nature). That God would go outside the normal course of providence and employ an unordinary providence seems unproblematic to me.
(iii) The questioner assumes that the regularity of nature is absolute. Even atheist Michael Martin disagrees: “Frame has argued correctly that science does not presuppose the absolute uniformity of nature, but I do not suppose that it does” (Michael Martin, A Response To John Frame’s Rebuttal of TANG, p.1).
Q.30 What do Muslim women get in Paradise? - IG
(i) Christians aren’t Muslims and so don’t need to bother with this question.
Q.31 In the "Last Days" Jesus is supposed to appear in the clouds. How are the Christians on the opposite end of the world going to see him? Are there going to be millions of Jesus'? What about people that work underground? What about people in deep space? - email@example.com
(i) The question is probably referring to Matthew 24:30.
(ii) If it’s referring to the Second Advent mentioned in Acts 1, there is no claim that everyone will see Jesus as He comes back down in the same way He left.
(iii) So, the interrogator is most probably referring to passages like Matthew 24:30, and Mark 13:30, etc. If so, we can answer this way:
In Mark 13 1-30 Jesus does predict His return. He says,
"30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."
See, Jesus "predicted" his return, and he said that the generation he was speaking to would witness this return.
How would the Jewish hearers have understood this passage?:
"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory."
Would those Jews, who knew the Old Testament very well mind you, think the passage meant that Jesus would be surfing clouds to earth? Or would they remember passages like this:
1 An oracle concerning Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptian melt within them.
4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
How about when they heard things like this:
Mark 13: 24"But in those days, following that distress, "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
Would they remember other passages in the Old Testament where stars and heavenly bodies were used to represent authorities and the judgment of authorities?
Chilton comments (Paradise Restored, ch. 11):
...[T]hese heavenly lights are used to speak of earthly authorities and governors; and when God threatens to come against them in judgment, the same collapsing-universe terminology is used to describe it. Prophesying the fall of Babylon to the Medes in 539 B.C., Isaiah wrote:
Behold, the Day of the LORD is coming,
Cruel, with fury and burning anger,
To make the land a desolation;
And He will exterminate its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash forth with their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises,
And the moon will not shed its light. (Isa. 13:9-10)
Significantly, Isaiah later prophesied the fall of Edom in terms of de-creation:
And all the host of heaven will wear away,
And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll;
All their hosts will also wither away
As a leaf withers from the vine,
Or as one withers from the fig tree. (Isa. 34:4)
Isaiah's contemporary, the prophet Amos, foretold the doom of Samaria (722 B.C.) in much the same way:
"And it will come about in that day,"
Declares the Lord GOD,
"That I shall make the sun go down at noon
And make the earth dark in broad daylight." (Amos 8:9)
Another example is from the prophet Ezekiel, who predicted the destruction of Egypt. God said this through Ezekiel:
"And when I extinguish you,
I will cover the heavens, and darken their stars;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
And the moon shall not give its light.
All the shining lights in the heavens
I will darken over you
And will set darkness on your land,"
Declares the Lord GOD. (Ezek. 32:7-8)
It must be stressed that none of these events literally took place. God did not intend anyone to place a literalist construction on these statements. Poetically, however, all these things did happen: as far as these wicked nations were concerned, "the lights went out." This is simply figurative language, which would not surprise us at all if we were more familiar with the Bible and appreciative of its literary character."
So, we note the Jesus tells us when He's coming by the purposeful use of time texts:
But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (Mat 26:63-64)
You see, the Old Testament Jews knew what Jesus was getting at. They understood. They read the words as they were intended to be understood by them. Jesus wasn't using 21st century terminology. Jesus hadn’t watched Star Trek.
When Jesus told the High Priest that he would see Him coming on the clouds, we see this reaction from the High Priest. He spoke very familiar words to the High Priest, and the High Priest knew exactly what Jesus was insinuating. And for that reason, the Priest cried, "Blasphemy!"
"Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy." (Mat 26:64-65)
Now why would that be? Could it be that a Jew, familiar with the Old Testament, would have remembered these passages:
Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. (Psalm 97:2)
Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled. O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness , that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee? (Jer 4:13-14)
The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nah 1:3)
That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. (Zep 1:15-17)
Let's also note that Jesus said he would come "sitting at the right hand of power." If the "coming on clouds" is taken literally, why not this? Maybe Jesus will surf clouds next to a big hand? How about this prophecy?
'The Lord said to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet." (Matt. 22:44)
"God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel." (Acts 5:31)
Now, back to Jesus' claim that the High Priest would see him coming on the clouds. Why did the high Priest shout "Blasphemy!"? He, and everyone else, knew precisely what Jesus was getting at. In the Old Testament it is The Lord who comes upon the clouds.
Why those Jews, at that time? Why where they judged?
As Jesus tells the Jews in Matthew 23 (interestingly right before he talks about the destruction of the temple in Matt 24),
"35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar."
(iv) And so the questioner brings up Jesus’ coming in judgment on the Jews in 70 AD. In Matthew 24:1 Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple. This happened in 70 AD. Thus the questioner unwittingly brings up one of the strongest examples of predictive prophecy in the Bible.
Q.32 The Bible says that God is a jealous God . How is this an example of a moral absolute of which man is supposed to follow? - IG ON GOD`S JEALOUSY
(i) Man is not supposed to emulate this. God is the highest good. God is the only one worthy of praise. God is the only one who deserves the praise, adoration, respect, and devotion of His creation. Anything that takes this place is ill-deserving of it. God deserves this place of highest authority. God’s “jealousy” is most appropriate in circumstances where the creation takes the place of the Creator. Man is not in this position. Therefore, God’s jealousy is not an “example” for moral behavior.
(ii) What does the Bible mean by jealousy as applied to God? Does it mean that God is like a spoiled child who has a feeling resentment against someone or thing because of that thing’s rivalry, success, or advantages? No. Nothing rivals God, succeeds Him, or has an advantage over Him. Rather, God’s jealousy is His intolerance of unfaithfulness or misplaced devotion to another as if they fulfilled the role in a person‘s life that God rightfully lays claim to.
(iii) The RRS then posts this rather ridiculous argument which piggy backs on the above question:
1.) "God is love." 1 John 4:8.
2.) "Love is not jealous." 1 Cor 13:4
3.) "I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God." Exodus 20:5.
4.) The Christian god cannot logically exist.
This is another example of inane, acontextual exegesis in which you run your finger down a concordance and rip out isolated word without regard to the particular usage and argument of a particular author.
(iv) Thus the argument equivocates on “jealousy” because the “jealousy” in P2 is not used in the same sense that the “jealousy” in P3 is. The two definitions in (ii) above serve to underscore this point.
Q.33 A true Muslim man is not supposed to do anything that the prophet Muhammad didn't do. If one remembers there was a big debate over whether or not Muslims should eat Mangos. If this is true, why in the Hell were these Islamic Fundamentalists flying airplanes? – IG
(i) Christians aren’t Muslims and so don’t need to bother with this question.
Q.34 If the earth was covered by a complete global flood, every living creature killed except those surviving on the ark, why are there many completely unique animal species in Australia that are found no where else indigenously on the earth? - firstname.lastname@example.org
(i) This is a bit like asking why if intelligent humans are found everywhere, why are there completely unique inventions indigenous to America? Now, of course those inventions are found in other countries, but so are the animals and plants in Australia found in zoos. Despite the technicality, the inventions are indigenous to America.
Or, it’s like asking: since we all evolved from the same stuff, why don’t all organisms have consciousness?
If these are views as silly, that’s how the questions is viewed by me.
(ii) Since this is a conjectural question, the only possible answer is a conjectural answer. That said:
a) Many animals are introduced into a foreign habit by human beings. They don’t get there on their own steam. They’re brought there, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by sailors.
b) In addition, creationism doesn’t deny that animals will adapt to the environment in which they’re placed.
Q.35 If god is omniscient and " god is love," why would he allow a child to be conceived, knowing that that child would one day reject him and spend eternity burning in a lake of fire?- TiredTurkeyProd
(i) Again with the asked and answered questions. Have the RRS even read all the questions they endorse? Or, do they just assume that it’s a good question if an atheist asked it?
(ii) Why is it not loving to justly punish criminals?
(iii) 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? - Romans 9:22-23
(iv) Apropos (iii), that you don’t like (iii) isn’t a rational response to (iii); yes, even if your entire squad doesn’t like (iii)
Q.36 Revelations is supposed to take place on Earth. What if we colonize the moon or Mars or inhabit a self-sustaining space station? Do we escape "judgement"? [sic] -- Ray Sommers
(i) First off, there’s no “S” on the end of “The Book of Revelation.”
(ii) Second, judgment in the Book of Revelation is exacted upon fallen angels as well as earthlings. So, it isn’t limited to terra firma.
(iii) Am I on Candid Camera for taking these questions and the RRS seriously?
Q.37 Isaiah 40:28 says, "...the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is he weary?" If this is true, why did God rest on the seventh day?- IG
(i) The word translated as “rested” is shabat. It means to cease work, stop work, celebrate, or keep. Words get their meaning by their use. The questioners might want to take time to study the Bible before critiquing it.
What we see in many of these questions is the vicious cycle of self-reinforcing ignorance. Because the unbeliever doesn’t credit the Bible, he doesn’t think it’s worth his while to study any major commentaries or other monographs and reference works, and because he doesn’t study them, he poses one ignorant question after another.
(ii) If they would read the Bible, letting it tell us how it uses its terms, then we’d see that the “rest” God has is something believers enter in to. Christians enter into The Sabbath rest (cf. Hebrews 4:1-14), this is called the “rest of God” which began on the seventh day. Since God is still resting, then does the interrogator mean to tell us that the author of Hebrews is trying to convey to us the idea that God is still “worn out” from creating the world?
Q.38 Everytime[sic I go to a funeral the preacher and guests always say that " God " has called that person to Heaven or they say, " God said it was time to come home", or some such variation. If God is calling these people "home", why are we putting the murderers of these victims in prison? How can we punish a man or woman for doing God's will? - IG
(i) Asked and answered.
(ii) Furthermore, it would do the objectors good to study up on things like the two wills of God and specify how, given this doctrine, there’s even the slightest problem.
Q.39 Does God have a gender? In most churches, God is predominately referred to as a "he"? [Note: The Bible says God is male, but what does this mean? Does God have a penis? Does he have hormones that dictate his gender?]- IG
(i) This doesn’t bode so well for the “rationality” of the so-called “Rational Response Squad.”
(ii) Not every time something is referred to as a “he” or a “she” does it mean that the thing referred to has a gender or sexual organs. People have called their cars “she’s” in many instances. Would the interrogator ask the person if they thought their car had breasts? Seems a bit hypocritical. When people say things like that, it usually means that the car (in this instance) has some properties that are also instantiated in women. Beauty. Sleekness.
(iii) There are degrees of abstractness or concreteness: masculine>male>man.
A man is a concrete property-instance of abstract masculine properties. God is the exemplar of masculinity—among other things. But that doesn’t make him male or make him a man. To think that commits a level confusion between the exemplar (abstract universal) and the exemplum (concrete particular).
Q.40 Why can't we wait until we get to Heaven to worship God ? Why would it be too late? - IG
(i) If God is praiseworthy in the hereafter, then he’s praiseworthy in the here-and-now.
(ii) Why can’t I hate my father his entire life and then be nice to him on his death bed so he’ll include me in his will?
(iii) So far the questions seem to be getting stupider and stupider. Reverse evolution.
Q.41 (a) What is the purpose of prayer? (b) What can a finite being on Earth possibly tell an omnipotent, omniscient deity that he doesn't know already? - IG
(i) There are two questions here. I’ve separated them into (a) and (b). I’ll address (b) first:
a) The obvious answer is nothing.
b) This treats prayer as simply supplication. In Christian theology, there’s more to prayer than supplication. There’s adoration, confession, and thanksgiving.
(ii) Now I’ll address the (a) part of the question:
a) Sometimes the question “what is the purpose of prayer?” can be taken to mean “why should we pray?” This is a normative question and so it gets a normative answer. We should pray because God has commanded us to.
b) Apropos ((ii), (a)), even if we don’t know the purpose, we still should since God has told us to.
c) Existentially, we pray because it is how we participate in our communication with God.
d) Situationally, we pray because God ordains our prayers as a means to change history.
e) Apropos ((ii), (d)), of course prayer does not change God’s eternal plan, but the devil’s in the details. In God’s eternal plan, God has planned that he would use prayer to effect change. Thus there’s a means-end view here. Just like God has ordained grass to grow, he accomplishes that end by various means (e.g., rain, photosynthesis, etc).
f) Are these atheists indeterminists? Or, do they hold to some form of compatibilism? Even atheist determinists, like, say, Dennett, do not deny that the end will not happen without the means.
g) Hence the question makes about as much sense as asking why you need to get up and go to the kitchen if the laws of nature, biology, etc., have determined that you will eat eggs for breakfast. Now, if the atheist wants to deny this understanding of determinism, then they can also give up their critique of the miraculous.
(iii) Thus, prayer doesn’t change what will happen, but prayer is a factor in what will happen. Absent prayer, what will happen would not otherwise have happened.
Q.42 Some say Jesus was the all-knowing God. Jesus would have known then that when he died he'd be in heaven in less than 3 days to rule. If Jesus is alive and ruling today, what did he sacrifice? -- Cyndy Hammond
(i) He suffered unmitigated injustice as the only truly innocent victim who ever lived.
(ii) His suffering was around 30 years long.
(iii) He sacrificed his life.
(iv) What test does the questioner mean to propose for how to measure how much a divine-human person suffers or sacrifices given what Jesus when through? How does the questioner know that it is not an unimaginable sacrifice to leave your place of exalted honor, take on the nature of a worm, and be put to death by worms for what worms did? Did they test this in a beaker? Where are the lab results? Or, is this just based on ignorant conjecture?
Q.43 God knows that men are sinners, untrustworthy and evil, why does God leave it up to fallible man (clergy..etc) to teach others about his word? Why would he put our eternal souls at risk if he loves us so much? - The Infidel Guy and Danno778
(i) Mostly asked and answered in (Q.10) and (A.10).
(ii) False teachers also serve the purpose of God. The reprobate are deservedly deceived by false teachers who tell them what they want to hear.
(iii) There is not one soul of an elect that is at risk of missing out on everlasting life because of heretical teachers.
(iv) If your soul is at risk, you should repent and turn unto Jesus. See, even though the reprobate knows the truth of God and what He requires, the reprobate will still refuse to come to Jesus. So, the question was really a disingenuous one.
Q.44 Did Adam have nipples? If so, how did he acquire them? In fact, why would God give "later man" nipples at all? They serve no purpose other than lactation. Some say pleasure. Where is that in Genesis exactly? All mammals have nipples as well, are theirs pleasureful for them too? Many men don't find their nipples pleasurable at all. - IG
(i) Since this is conjectural, I can only respond conjecturally.
Adam acquired them by being made that way. Just like his height, deep voice, and hard skull.
(ii) Even if they have no biological function (that we know of), I’m glad God made us that way. If you disagree, take a picture of a male chest and then use a computer to remove the nipples. Looks strange. The nipples provide a focus point for the male chest. They direct the eye to the curve of the pectoral muscle.
(iii) The way God designed things, the nipples form in the seventh week, before the sex is assigned. At this point you can ask why God designed us that way. At this point you can play the, God is a stupid designer and I would have done things differently game.
(iv) What purpose do male nipples serve according to natural selection? What survival advantage do they confer? Why is this question supposed to be a problem for Christian theology rather than naturalistic evolution? If it’s a problem for either, it’s a problem for both.
(v) Apropos (iv), what is the evolutionary advantage of human’s ability to think in terms of modalities. What is the survival value of having the ability to answer abstract philosophical questions? What’s the survival value in forming the ability to ask stupid questions?
Q.45 How did Adam and Eve know it was wrong to disobey God if they hadn't eaten of the tree of knowledge (of good and evil) yet? You can't blame them if they didn't know. - IG
(i) Maybe because they were told it was wrong? Has the interrogator ever read Gen 2?
(ii) It’s possible that the interrogator could be saying that Adam and Eve could not have known what “wrong” was since they had never experienced a “wrong” choice before. In this case, the questioner should prove his radical empiricism. Most atheists don’t even hold this view. Has the interrogator ever bothered to read the refutations of the logical positivists? If meaning is know only by sensuous experience, one could never learn the meaning of this dogma.
(iii) Can we blame people for things that they don’t know is wrong? Is ignorance an excuse in the atheist community?
Q.46 If God has such a tremendous problem with uncircumcised penises, why did he make man with foreskin in the first place? - IG
(i) Circumcision is simply a sign of religious affiliation. Human beings have many different ways of marking their social affiliations, such as jewelry, tattoos, uniforms, hairstyles. The interrogator would make a lousy anthropologist or sociologist.
(ii) God had a problem with what uncircumcision represented (Romans 2:29). Circumcision was supposed to represent an internal condition. Thus the Apostle Paul
“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation” (Galatians 6:15)
And so if one had the appropriate heart condition, God wouldn’t mind his uncircumcised penis.
But if one had that condition, he should seek to visibly mark himself out as such.
Q.47 Did Noah have fish onboard? Salt or Fresh? Since fresh water fish would die in salt, and salt water fish would die in fresh, only one type of fish would survive. Yet....?" - Frank Monaco
(i) This is making extraneous assumptions about the degree of identity of between prediluvian and postdiluvian conditions. The narrative doesn’t assume that one way or the other.
(ii) It also makes extraneous assumptions about the saline tolerance of prediluvian fish. Creatures adapt to their environment. One can’t assume that specialized adaptations in the present world were also in play before the flood. The Bible is silent on these issues.
(iii) Yet… at worse, we have microevolution. Does the interrogator deny microevolution?
Q.48 Why does the omnipotent, omnipresent God need help from man or angels to spread his word or do acts? - IG [Note: Some say God doesn't need help. But apparently he does.] - IG
(i) Asked and answered (see above).
(ii) Why does a creative writer need the help of his storybook characters to spread the message? He doesn’t.
(iii) God doesn’t need help, but uses agents as means to accomplish his ends.
Q.49 How did Jesus ascend to Heaven in the Flesh when Paul says that flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of Heaven? (1 Cor.15:50) - IG
(i) Asked and answered. Repetitive. See (Q.25).
(ii) Should the RRS read the questions they’re asking? It seems that either (a) they haven’t read these questions but just assume they’re good ones since an atheist asked them, or (b) they have read them but don’t have the mental stamina to remember what they read 24 questions before.
Q.50 If God wants us to live right and choose "the good," why did he create evil? (Isaiah 45:6, 7) Not to mention he already knows which people are not going to choose "the good" so why create those people in the first place? It seems that many people are born to go to Hell. - IG ON HELL
(i) Already discussed above. Asked and answered.
(ii) That God ordained (or, determined) that there would be evil, and the interrogator would chose it, does not mean that God forced the interrogator to do anything against his will.
(iii) That you were ordained to go to hell does not mean that you didn’t choose to go there. Again, the questioners seem to show almost zero familiarization with the relevant literature on the metaphysics free will (cf. Fischer, Double, Frankfurt, Dennett, et al.)
Q.51 I hear Christians all the time speaking of a spiritual war between Heaven and Hell, if this is true does God have limitations of power? Man only conducts wars because of our limitations of power and foresight. God has both all-power and all-knowledge, no reason for war of any kind. - IG
(i) Note the employment of the “I once heard” objection once again.
(ii) It is false that man only conducts war because of limitations of foresight and power. A country will quite frequently go to war with a much smaller and weaker military. The outcome is sure, and the power isn’t in question.
(iii) People war against God, He rightly puts them down.
Q.52 The Bible is full of phrases beginning with, "and the lord saw". Didn't he know before hand? - IG
(i) No, you’re right, you got us. It also says God is spirit and does not have a body, but if He “saw” then this must mean He has eyes. Where would we be without atheists to point this out for us?
(ii) The Bible uses graphic, idiomatic language to describe God.
(iii) In the Bible God condescends to speak with us. He uses human language to speak truly about Himself.
(iv) “See” does not always have to refer to the eyes. Sometimes we “see” the point of an argument. This means we recognize it.
Q.53 How can a psychologist condone belief in something not proven to exist, when people are put into mental institutions on a daily basis for the same thing? i.e., aliens, fairies, imaginary people (Multiple Personality Disorders..)? - Dan Denton
(i) If for a belief to be rational one must “prove” it (I assume this means provide propositional evidence for it), then this very belief is irrational. The assumption that a person's S's belief B is rational R iff S has propositional evidence E for B is problematic? Let's apply this to the interrogator’s belief. Call this belief (B is R for S iff S has E for B) B1. Now, does B1 have E for it? If so, then for his new belief (that B1 has E), call it B2, to be R he’d need E* for B2. Does he have that? If he believes that he does, then we have B3. For B3 to be R we'd need E**, does he have that? In case you haven't noticed, we can do this ad infinitum.
(ii) There are plenty of things we believe that have not been “proven” to exist (e.g., that people have other minds, that the earth is older than 5 seconds). Should we all be in mental institutions, or, should psychologists not condone belief in other minds and the past?
(iii) Depending on how “proven” is used here, the questioner assumes Christianity hasn’t been proven. Now, if by “proven” you mean, “an argument that proceeds by self-evident premises which no one can deny, and employs the rules of deductive reasoning to reach the conclusion,” then I dare say we should all be in the mental institution. Even the dogma of macro-evolution cannot meet these standards.
(iv) There’s a difference between knowledge and proof. We can know many things we’ve never attempted to prove. And we can know some things which are insusceptible to formal or apodictic proof. Consider tacit knowledge.
(v) The interrogator also seems to be assuming that there’s no evidence for Christianity. This betrays his ignorance of a vast body of apologetical literature.
Q.54 If Christians say they know God exists and that he will work miracles, what do they need faith for? Faith is not knowing. - IG
(i) The purpose of miracles isn’t limited to their evidentiary value. There is also the humanitarian value of miracles—as deeds of divine mercy. They aren’t intended to persuade anyone, although that might be a side-effect or fringe benefit.
(ii) Many times God says He performs a miracle so that people will “know that He is the Lord” (e.g., Ex.7:5). But this knowledge isn’t contrasted with faith. One must still have the appropriate faith to correctly interpret the miracle. If not, one can interpret the miracle as, say, a freak accident.
(iii) We can know things by faith. And, faith is a special case of knowledge.
(iv) The Bible has “trust” in mind when it uses the word faith. That is, “trusting on the Word of the Lord.” Thus faith is a type of knowledge by testimony. If I can know things based upon the testimony of fallible humans, how much more than the word of the infallible Lord? (Of course saving faith has other aspects, but that is beyond the purpose of this answer.)
Q.55 Brain, or shall I say, body transplants, will eventually be possible, where would the soul be then? Where is the soul? – IG
(i) To ask “where” the soul will be is nonsense.
(ii) If the soul “followed” the brain, and the new body had the same personality as the original, then that’s where the soul “went.”
(iii) That we will have a new (or, glorified) body and the same soul is just a feature of the Christian worldview (viz. the resurrection).
(iv) A basic argument for dualism is a modal argument, I.e., the possibility of the soul existing on its own. It isn’t necessarily required that the soul ever exists independently, all that’s needed is the possibility.
Q.56 If God really wants us to know him, why doesn't he place the knowledge of him in our minds at birth? The same way many theists believe that God implants our sense of right and wrong in us a right birth. - IG
(i) Everyone does know God, but the unregenerate suppress this knowledge.
(ii) Depending on how “know” is used here, it is not God’s intention for all men to “know” him savingly.
Q.57 If God was Jesus' father (not Joseph), then why is Jesus' family tree traced through Joseph? -- Cyndy Hammond
(i) He was the representative of David's line; hence Joseph was Jesus' legal rather than his biological father. God purposed to preserve David's line because of his plan to send his Son Jesus to be the Redeemer. Because Joseph was Mary's husband, Jewish law regarded Jesus as his son.
(ii) Questions like this illustrate the fact that many unbelievers don’t know enough about Christian theology to know what they’re rejecting. Due to the two natures of Christ, Jesus has two fathers: his divine Father, and his human, step-dad.
Q.58 What image of God was man made from? Couldn't have been a moral one or physical one. - [Note: One would suspect that an image of God would be perfect and cannot sin. Oops.] IG
(i) Actually, it could be both moral and physical. This does not mean that God has a body, though. But, our body images God in the sense that we can act in the world, we have power, we can see things, etc. Images aren’t a one-to-one correspondence, though.
That we have an ethical image also does not imply that we image God in every respect.
We also have the image of office. That is, we act is lords and kings on a smaller scale.
(ii) To assume that the image has to be perfect is a false assumption. Where is the argument for that? Where is that asserted in Christian theology.
(iii) This is another acontextual objection of the Bible. For a standard answer, see:
Q.59 Why can't God appear before everyone at the same time? Everyone in the world would then "know" he exists and not have solely "believe" [sic]. And please, don't say he already tried that. Surely a God knows exactly what to do to convince a measly human of his existence. - IG
(i) Asked and answered.
Q.60 According to the New Testament Matthew 5:17 says "Do not suppose that I have come to abolish the Law and the prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to complete. I tell you this: so long as heaven and earth endure, not a letter, not a stroke, will disappear from the Law until all that must happen has Happened." So since Jesus has not returned the "Law" is still in effect, so why aren't we still burning witches, stoning adulterers and disobedient children, killing homosexuals, ostracizing people that work on the Sabbath (nurses, doctors etc.), flinging blood onto the horns of the alter, pulling off the heads of small birds, and don't forget human sacrifice to God (Leviticus 27 P.28)? -- Sheila L. Chambers
(i) Why isn’t “who” doing that? That is the job of the civil magistrate. Part of the law is that the civil magistrate must enforce these punishments. So, even assuming the questioners interpretation, this does not mean that Christianity is inconsistent; all it means is that civil governments aren’t obeying the ethical requirements placed upon them. So, the questioner grants that “we” shouldn’t be doing that. If they want to know why the civil magistrate isn’t doing that, I would say that this would be pretty easy to figure out upon reflection.
We live in a democracy. Legislation requires a certain amount of public support. On the one hand, many voters aren’t Christians. On the other hand, many Christians take a dispensational view of OT ethics. There are Christians who do believe in OT ethics, but they represent a distinct minority of the electorate.
(ii) The question also confuses judicial and ceremonial laws. The lawgiver has the right to modify His laws. The New Testament tells us that Christ has done away with the ceremonial requirements of the law. Thus they still exist, but in Christ. So, trusting in Christ’s death is how one obeys those laws.
Q.61 If there is freewill in Heaven yet everyone has chosen good and is happy, isn't that proof that God could have made us with freewill, choosing good ( God ) and still being happy on Earth? - Dennis Hendrix [Note: In other words, evil didn't have to exist after all. Hey wait, even in Heaven apparently, evil can exist. At least for a short while. Satan became evil and was in heaven. Apparently he even had enough time to form an Army against God. Wow. Maybe Heaven won't be as peaceful as many believe.]
(i) True, evil didn’t have to exist. So what? A theodicy doesn’t need to prove otherwise. The premise of the argument from evil is the existence of gratuitous evil, not evil per se. But evil may be instrumental to a second-order good.
(ii) The objection equivocates over the definition of heaven. When we say there’s no sin in heaven that has reference to the final state.
(iii) The question also assumes a libertarian view of the will. I deny this view of the will.
Q.62 Why does God have a plan? Man is limited in power so we make plans because we are not all-knowing nor all-powerful. If God has a plan, isn't he reduced to a mere finite being? – IG
(i) To say that God has a plan simply means that God created the world for a reason, and that he knew exactly what kind of world he was going to create down to the last detail.
(ii) I don’t know that being limited or finite is required for plans. An all-knowing being still has options how to create. There are possible worlds. Things ways could have been. God wanted to achieve a desired end, and so actualized the world appropriately.
Q.63 . How could the all-merciful/loving God watch billions of his children burn over and over again for eternity? - IG
(i) Asked and answered above. Another repetitious question.
(ii) How could a just God punish criminals who rightly deserve this penalty? The question seems to assume that criminals shouldn’t reap their just reward.
Q.64 Before reading and writing were invented (5000BC), on what basis did God use to judge the people who died before the Hebrew and Greek text (BIBLE) were written? -- email@example.com
(i) Sinners can be judged on the basis of Adam’s sin, irrespective of their personal sins.
(ii) Responsibility is commensurate with revelation, including natural revelation.
(iii) Revelation can also take the form of the spoken word (e.g. to Abraham) as well as the written word.
(iv) Question 56 says that man had a sense of right and wrong implanted in him. Thus (Q.56) provides and answer to (Q.64).
Q.65 Many Christians tell me that I will "burn in hell". If I have a soul, how can a soul burn? Aren't souls non-physical entities? - IG [Note: Some Christians groups believe that you will be given new bodies after judgement [sic]. However, if true, what's the significance of a spirit in the first place?]
(i) Hell need not be taken as a literal fire.
(ii) The subject has pains. Physicalism cannot account for the subjective experience of pain.
(iii) The Bible has a doctrine of the general resurrection. The final state of the damned is a reembodied state.
(iv) The significance of the soul is myriad. For example, if you didn’t have a mind (or, soul) there would be no enduring self who thinks through the logic of arguments. There would be no unity of consciousness. There would be nothing that has first person subjective experiences. The soul is the seat of personality.
Q.66 How can one hold to the barbaric belief that something has to DIE in order to appease a god for a bad deed? -- Nickolaus Wing
(i) Present a secular argument for the “barbarity” of the atonement.
(ii) The atonement wasn’t an “appeasement.” How can an interlocutor not familiarize himself with the position of those who he attacks?
(iii) How can one hold to the alchemic belief that lizards turned into birds?
(iv) That one doesn’t like a belief is no reason not to hold it, question begging epithets aside.
Q.67 Why does SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) occur? Why would God allow a baby to live for such a short period of time? Why not just let them not be born in the first place? -- Terry Clark
(i) In a fallen world, how long must life be to be a meaningful life? Where do you draw the line?
(ii) SIDS occurs because we live in a fallen world.
(iii) Why hold the belief in survival of the fittest and the belief that weak babies die is somehow “sad?” According to you, that’s how humans got on the scene. Why use natural selection and survival of the fittest as a ladder to clime up to where we are and then throw the ladder down once you make it to the top. Have the courage of your convictions.
Q.68 If Jesus was nailed and died on Friday evening, and walked out of the tomb on Sunday morning, where's the 3rd NIGHT he predicted? Per Matthew 12:40: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
(i) The Bible uses round numbers, symbolic numbers, literary allusions, and literary conventions.
(ii) Does the interrogator assume that one must always speak in a scientifically corre3ct manor? If so, will he cease to say “sunrise” and “sunset” and send “questions” to weathermen when they dare to use conventional language?
(iii) Why didn’t any of the ones who “voted” on which books should be in the Bible, and “burned” literature which told a different story, get rid of passages like these? One the one hand, unbelievers present the early Church as people who sought to present the world with a certain unproblematic view of Jesus, on the other hand, they present them as dolts who could not even count up to three. Which is it? Maybe they “missed it,” but unbelievers say that there are “hundreds” of contradictions in the Bible. If the early church was this stupid (not able to count to three), how did they have they cunning and intelligence to mastermind a wholesale cover-up of problematic passages and “secret gospels?”
Q.69 Many Christians claim that hell is merely existence outside of God ‘s presence (C.S. Lewis among others). If this is the case, then Jesus could not have descended into hell (being God Himself). As a result, are you sure your sins are forgiven? - Byron Bultsma
(i) God is omnipresent, and so His presence will be in hell. In hell, God will withdraw His gracious presence and focus the entirety of His wrath and anger upon the reprobate for the rest of eternity.
(ii) There is debate about whether the Apostle’s Creed is meant to be taken in the way the interrogator takes it. If they did mean that Jesus descended into hell (literally), then the creed is wrong.
(iii) Those who trust in Christ can be sure their sins are forgiven. Does the questioner mean to argue that the possibility of error means that one cannot know something? I reject this constraint and allege that it suffers from am undercutting defeater (I.e., the questioner cannot know whether is question is the case).
Q.70 Ten to twenty percent of all women who discover they are pregnant suffer a miscarriage. Also, it is estimated that anywhere from 14 to 50 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Seeing this is all part of God’s plan, does this make God the world's number one abortion provider? - Jim
(i) As the creator and judge of mankind, God has rights over sinners which sinners do not enjoy over one another.
(ii) Assuming the falsity of the Christian worldview, abortion is not immoral and so this isn’t an objection against God. Assuming the truth of the Christian worldview it is not immoral for God to take the life of people who deserve the death penalty, and so this isn’t an objection against Christian theism.
Q.71 What if, when you get to Heaven, you saw God causing pain and suffering out of anger or for the purpose of entertaining himself. What if he required people in heaven to praise and worship him non-stop even to the point of causing his worshipers discomfort, pain and boredom? What if, when he was bored, angry, or jealous, he would create natural disasters to make himself feel better? Would you still follow him? - Fernando
(i) I have no reason to treat this hypothetical as a live possibility.
(ii) Are you asking what if the biblical God was a totally different god and did things that were consistent with another religion? In this case, I’d say that this god is unjust and, depending on what else he has supposedly revealed, contradictory. But this doesn’t affect Christian theism, at all.
(iii) This is about as stupid as asking how you’d feel if you got home and monkeys flew out of your butt.
Q.72 In Leviticus, the bible condemns homosexuality as an "abomination", giving some Christians a reason to hate, harass, torture and kill gays and even picket their funderals [sic] with " God hates fags" signs. In the same book of the bible the eating of shellfish is equally an "abomination". Are these Christians planning to go after the patrons of Red Lobster next? - firstname.lastname@example.org
(i) This confuses moral and ceremonial laws. The Bible draws a distinction.
(ii) Fred Phelps is a hateful, spiteful cult-leader who speaks for no one except his cult following at Westboro Baptist Church. There are one-time homosexuals, saved by the grace of God, who will look down from heaven as he rots in hell with many of the same people he consigns to hell.
(iii) Even granting the interrogator’s assumptions, at best he’s proven that these believers are inconsistent, not that the Bible is.
(iv) According to evolutionary dogma, people’s sexual desires are what they are because they have evolved that way. Are those who champion gay rights going to also champion the rights of pedophiles?
Q.73 Christians will tell you that if a baby dies it goes to heaven. Why then are they so against abortion? All the child is being deprived of is the opportunity to go to hell. Either that or god expects unborn fetuses to accept Jesus. - email@example.com
(i) I don’t know if all babies who die in infancy will go to heaven or not. The Bible only tells us that elect infants dying in infancy will go to heaven. I have no warrant to conclude that there will or will not be infants in hell.
(ii) Even if all infants go to heaven, it would be a non-sequitur to say that people should be for murder.
(iii) We don’t need to worry about sending people to heaven; God will not fail in reaching His elect and bringing them into His rest. No one who God has ordained to go to heaven will be left out.
Q.74 If one could prove to you incontrovertibly that Jesus and God were all human fabrications would still believe? And why? - LOGICnREASON
(ii) If I accepted (Q.74) and subsequently accepted naturalism and evolution, I would then have a defeater for all my beliefs and therefore would have to reject the “proof” offered by the interrogator in (Q.74).
(iii) In a non-Christian theistic worldview, how is “proof” possible? Thus achieving the goal in (Q.74) is to slit one’s epistemic throat.
(iv) I deny that someone could achieve the goal in (Q.74), even if Christianity were false. So, I don’t think someone will ever be able to “prove incontrovertibly” that Christianity is false.
Q.75 It is often said that God allows evil because one could not meaningfully appreciate good without experiencing its opposite. Why is it necessary to experience the opposite of something in order to appreciate it? Must I experience death in order to meaningfully appreciate life? -excidius
(i) Note the use of the “it is often said” argument, again.
(ii) There are some limitations to this particular theodicy. But it contains a partial truth. It’s not that we can’t appreciate anything without experiencing the opposite. But such an experience can often deepen our appreciation.
Q.76 Bible literalists want you to believe that God's Word in the Bible is meant to be taken literally. If this is the case, why was Jesus fond of explaining things in parable and metaphor? Was Jesus literally discussing the biology of mustard seeds, or was the mustard seed parable meant to be interpreted figuratively as faith? -excidius
(i) This is only a valid objection to certain popular forms of fundamentalism.
(ii) Accepting the view in (Q.76) undercuts the hidden premises in three-quarters of these questions here (e.g., God “seeing,” hell as “fire,” God as “grieving,” etc). If the RRS wants to hold this objection, they need to drop many of their other ones. If they want to hold to them, they need to drop this one.
Q.77 Liberal Christians say some parts of the Bible are literally true, but much else is to be interpreted figuratively as allegory. How do you know which is which? What distinguishing criteria are used? How can you be certain "God" is a literal and not a figurative concept? -excidius
(i) A symbol is something that stands for something else.
So if, for example, we see prophecies recontextualized, if we see a one-to-many correspondence between prophecy and fulfillment, then that transvalued or open-textured denotation is a mark of symbolism.
(ii) Some imagery is incoherent if taken literally.
(iii) Some imagery is naturally impossible. Of course, miracles occur in Scripture. But we need some indication that the text is intended to denote a miracle.
(iv) Symbolism is a characteristic of certain literary genres.
(v) The interrogator has the same problem. How does he distinguish between allegorical literature and factual literature?
Q.78 Consciousness is the result of a physical brain, how could God being metaphysical be said to be conscious or sentient without having a brain? - Mindless
(i) This is an assertion, not an argument. It disregards the arguments for dualism and against physicalism:
Q.79 Considering how Leviticus is considered old law, and that Christians do not obey it anymore, why do they always use it to defend homosexuality being an "abomination"? -Bohorquez
(i) “Leviticus” isn’t an “old law.” Leviticus is a book that contains laws.
(ii) Apropos (i), some of those laws moral laws, reflecting God’s unchanging character. Some are ceremonial laws, reflecting what needs to be done when the moral laws are violated. Christians obey the requirements of the ceremonial laws by trusting in Christ.
(iii) Scriptural arguments against sodomy are hardly limited to Leviticus. They include Gen 1-2, Mt 19, and Rom1, among others. For more, see:
Q.80 If God is omnipotent and he has a plan ... then why did he not create the universe as it will be one second after the plan has succeeded? Who or what prevented him from doing that? - Timothy Campbell (http://www.tc123.com)
(i) Asked and answered above.
(ii) God could have done that, but according to His wise council, He chose otherwise.
(iii) Granting the attributes of God in these hypothetical questions has built in defeaters in them. If God is also omniscient He chose the best course of action out of all known possibilities, it is irrational to argue with an all-knowing being.
If the attributes of the biblical God are not granted, then the objection isn’t against Christian theism. Thus we don’t need to worry about it on either score.
Q.81 The large majority of people who have ever existed could not have learned of the Bible or Jesus Christ. And many people afterwards have found other religions or no religion at all to be more convincing, sometimes while being very virtuous. Do all these people really deserve eternal torment because of that? -- lpetrich
(i) Do criminals deserve their just punishment? Yes. Why, does the interrogator disagree with this concept?
(ii) No one is damned for disbelieving a gospel he never heard. Rather, the reprobate are justly damned for being sinners.
(iii) Virtuous unbelievers are virtuous due to common grace, and not their own goodness or merit.
(iv) The fact that some people find atheism or idolatry more convincing than the true faith is condemnable rather than commendable.
Q.82 The above arguments also apply among different sects of Christianity, many of which state that most others are not True Christianity. -- lpetrich
(i) The above argument does not apply to other sects of Christianity, unless they are heretical, in which case they’re not holding to Christianity but to a false religion. In that case, (A.81) answered this objection.
(ii) I don’t know who these “sects” are that are claiming that “other sects” are not “True Christianity.” All orthodox believers have agreed that differing on non-essentials is not damnable.
Q.83 Is it reasonable for the Creator and Ruler of such a vast Universe to be preoccupied with the sexuality of a species living on a tiny little planet? -- lpetrich
(i) Notice that some interrogators attack the Christian faith on the grounds that God is too callous or indifferent, while others attack the faith on the grounds that God is overly concerned with human affairs.
(ii) Sexuality is the basis of human society. The family is the fundamental unit of society, and the exemplar of analogous relationships.
(iii) Notice that the Humean objection to design doesn’t allow us to make claims about what is designed or reasonable given our lack of inductive experience with the claim in question. On what basis does the interrogator talk about what is or isn’t “reasonable” for the Creator to be concerned with?
(iv) Would the interrogator object to an alien race that was just like us in all the relevant ways but engaged in copious amounts of child molestation?
(v) Christian theology brings us a God who is intimately connected with His creation.
(vi) Is it unreasonable that God would want us to make the right choices? See, some of the questioners have asked why God doesn’t help us to see what is wrong more, and when God does so, the questioner shifts his position and says God shouldn’t be bugging him. This point serves to undermine the claim that people are neutral with respects to the fact and that they would just believe in God if only He revealed more of Himself to them.
Q.84 If the Christian god was all loving and all knowing why did he let religious figures such as Mohammed or Gautama Budda [sic] be born, knowing that they would mislead people from the 'true' faith and trick the majority of the world's population into burning forever in hell (in fact, if Islam didn't start, most of the middle east would probably be Christian). It would simple to use the Holy Spirit to guide them to Jesus and spread the 'true' faith. If the Holy Spirit exits, it certainly isn't doing it's job!
(i) God used them as means to deceive the people who He ordained would be deceived.
(ii) There is more to God that love. There is also the justice of God.
(iii) The love of God is a discriminating love.
(iv) The reprobate have an insatiable appetite for self-deception. They deserve what they get.
(v) God doesn’t “use” the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is divine in his own right.
(vi) The Holy Spirit is a person, not an “it.”
Q.85 If one is obliged to follow all the teachings of the bible then why is engaging in homosexuality or adultery any worse than "suffering a witch to live", "muzzling the ox that treadeth the corn", "reaping the corners of thy field", "marring the corners of they beard", "plowing with an oxen and an ass", "hating thy brother in thy heart" or "eating frogs, shellfish and eels" ?
(i) Asked and answered about three times now.
(ii) If atheist Dan Barker is correct in his book Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong, then on page 31 when he says that we should never try to hurt another living person or thing, and on page 26 when he says that humans are part of nature and not better than nature, and that since we are part of nature we should respect all of nature not just humans, does that mean that since we shouldn’t eat people we also shouldn’t eat broccoli, or are some parts of nature “better” than other parts?
Q.86 Exactly how did the alleged worldwide flood kill off all the world's sea creatures? How does one go about drowning a fish? -- Steever
(i) Who says all the fish, let alone all the “sea creatures” died in the flood?
Q.87 Why did this alleged god create humans as an animal form of life that gets sick and dies and experiences pain and has a limited mind when 'it' could have created humans as a form of pure energy or of some indestructible material or whatever, and was totally “sinless” and had “pure” thought? If a god was omnipotent 'it' could have easily have done this. --AI
(i) Maybe God should have given us wings so we wouldn’t fall to our death? Maybe God should have given us gills so that we’d never drown to death? Maybe god should have given us tusks to ward off attackers with?
(ii) We weren’t created to die. Human beings don’t sicken and die because they have bodies. That’s due to original sin.
(iii) Pain is not inherently evil. It’s a warning signal. And a capacity for pain involves a commensurate capacity for pleasure.
(iv) We have limited minds because we are finite creatures.
(v) Why did evolution evolve us without regard to the reliability of our cognitive faculties? As materialist Patricia Churchland states,
"Boiled down to its essentials, a nervous system that enables the organism to succeed in...feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle [sic] chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in their sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost." (Praticia Churchland, "Epistemology in the Age of Neuroscience," Journal of Philosophy 84 (October 1987): 548. Cited in, "C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea," Victor Reppert, IVP, 2002, pp. 76-77).
Q.88 If a god is omnipotent how did 'it' fail to foresee that Satan would turn against 'it'? --AI
(i) God is not an “it.”
(ii) Omnipotence is about power, omniscience is about knowledge.
(iii) God didn’t fail to “foresee” that Satan would turn against Him. Indeed, God decreed it.
Q.89 What is a god supposedly made of? --AI
(i) God is not a composite substance. God is a timeless mind.
(ii) If everything that exists is “made of” something, what are numbers, laws of logic, and laws of morality made of? Or, are the interrogators anti-realists about numbers, logic, and morality?
(iii) Apropos (ii), if so, should the RRS drop their questions? If not, should the RRS drop (Q.89)?