Tuesday, August 04, 2009

New players, old playbook

If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant. I make my choice now. I despise that doctrine. It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men.... What right have you, sir, Mr. clergyman, you, minister of the gospel to stand at the portals of the tomb, at the vestibule of eternity, and fill the future with horror and with fear? I do not believe this doctrine, neither do you. If you did, you could not sleep one moment. Any man who believes it, and has within his breast a decent, throbbing heart, will go insane. A man who believes that doctrine and does not go insane has the heart of a snake and the conscience of a hyena.

–Robert Green Ingersoll

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

–Richard Dawkins

Sing, O hell, and rejoice, ye that are under the earth! For God, even the mighty God, hath spoken, and devoted to death thousands of souls, form the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof! Here, O death, is they sting! They shall not, cannot escape; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Here, O grave is thy victory. Nations yet unborn, or ever they have done good or evil are doomed never to see the light of life, but thou shalt gnaw upon them for ever and ever! Let all those morning stars sing together, who fell with Lucifer, son of the morning! Let all the sons of hell shout for joy! For the decree is past, and who shall disannul it?"

–John Wesley


  1. Victor Reppert said Paul Manata doesn't post here anymore; is that true? What happened? Did I miss some "good-bye" post?

  2. He doesn't have time to blog anymore.

  3. Oh. Is he at school? Or maybe he's got a job or something?

  4. Steven said:

    Oh. Is he at school? Or maybe he's got a job or something?

    I can neither confirm nor deny that he's been recruited by a shadowy but powerful "company" to train future undercover super agents at an undisclosed underground location for the purposes of infiltrating infidel headquarters and other seemingly nefarious but actually patriotic acts of tremendous courage.

    For me to comment further would be neither wise nor safe.

  5. Wow. Dicky-Dawk sure knows a lot of fancy adjectives!

  6. The similarity seems to be that a God (or rather, an omnipotent being) who did certain things would be open to moral criticism and not worthy of worship. Dawkins makes these claims about God in general, Arminians sometimes make such claims against a God who would predestine some to everlasting punishment. Some rhetoric is similar, but the claims are vastly different.

    In order to avoid being fitted into this comparison, a person would have to hold that no omnipotent being, however wrong his deeds may seem even in the light of eternity, could ever be considered to be acting wrongly. I think you guys denied theological volunarism in the course of our original 2008 dialogues on Calvinism, and quoted Sudduth to the effect that Calvin was not a voluntarist either. But if you're not a voluntarist, then there is at least some possible omnipotent being that would not be worthy of worship if he existed, and instead would be subject to justified moral criticism. No?

  7. Victor Reppert said...

    "The similarity seems to be that a God (or rather, an omnipotent being) who did certain things would be open to moral criticism and not worthy of worship."

    The similarity is that atheists raise the same sorts of objections to the God of Biblical theism which some Arminians raised to the God of Reformed theism. If you think the God of Reformed theism is repugnant, it's hard to draw the line there. Why not find the Yahweh equally repugnant?

    But if you choose to press the comparison in detail, then according to Arminianism, God created this world in full knowledge of all the horrendous evils which it would contain–although it lay within his power to prevent those events by choosing not to create this world. And perhaps by choosing to create a world with fewer evils or none at all.

    After all, if human beings enjoy libertarian freewill, then, presumably, there are human beings who freely choose good rather than evil. Why not create a world which instantiates only good choices?