Monday, February 9, 2009

Responding to Ebon Muse Questions (Part 1)

I was browsing through Ebon Muse website Daylight Atheism and I found Ten Questions to Ask Your Pastor. I am a pastor’s wife and I decided to provide my answers to these questions. My answers are brief, but I hope that they get to the essence of each question in a way that is fair and respectful to the question. If anyone would like me to elaborate on a point or a question later please ask me in the comment and I will try and accommodate you. I will post my answers in two post dividing them five questions at a time due to cut down on the length of doing it as one post. I welcome you to read and to think about my answers, some are repetitive of topics I have addressed before, but are readdressed for the sake of answering this particular list of questions.


1. Why is God called loving or merciful when, in the Old Testament's stories of the Israelite conquest, he specifically orders his chosen people to massacre their enemies, showing no mercy to men, women, even children and animals?


The Old Testament shows us the natural consequence of sin. It shows us the severity of sin and the problem of sin. God physically gave them laws for their protection. These laws were not His whims, but rules to protect their heart and life. They needed to know these things and they needed external enforcement of these rules so that they could taste the goodness of life instead of taking on the weight of sin. God did not at this point co-habitat with man in our hearts for that was going to be made available once Christ came and fulfilled the requirements of the law and showed us and enabled us to live a new way a better way.

In the Old Testament, God was showing them His power. He demonstrated His authority. He gave them leaders to show them how to live in a way that was not going to lead to their destruction. He spoke to the people through Prophets and he gave them warning after warning. He was patient with them. Consider Jonah. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn the people that their ways were going to cause their destruction and they needed to repent. (Repentance means change the way you think turning around away from the path of destruction. It doesn’t mean being really sorry.) The people did just that and were saved from destruction. It wasn’t God’s desire to destroy them for their actions, if it were He simply would have done it without sending Jonah to warn them. Jonah is actually dismayed that God saved them; he says “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2) He says this is why he didn’t want to waste his time warning the people, because he knew God could relent. He didn’t understand why he had to go through the trouble of warning them when God wasn’t going to end up destroying them. His selfishness was showing through. God tells him, “Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11)

If you pull these stories often cited by atheists out of context of the whole of what the Bible reveals to us about God it will look like God is a vindictive annihilator. I am not sure how you can read through Scripture and miss the warnings, the mercy, the compassion and see that all acts of judgment were few and far between and very slow in coming. But when you learn more and you see His holiness in context of His love and goodness and His justice in context of His goodness you will see more clearly. When Moses is working with God to free the Israelites, God sends these plagues as warnings to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He doesn’t come sweeping in and destroy them all and have Moses leave with his people. He is patient. More patient than the Israelites wanted Him to be. He gives ample time for Pharaoh to do the right thing and when Pharaoh remains resolute in the face of all the demonstrations of God’s power, the consequences of His rebellion are brought to fruition.

Also many who are adamant about God having done something unjust the few times He exacted judgment must consider if they believe there is ever a just war? Is there ever a just reason for bloodshed on a human level? If so, why do you not see that there could also be a just reason that God had for doing what He did? We who can’t see the whole picture of the outcome of a war, or the outcome of a battle can see good reasons for going to war and taking lives even when some of those lives will be innocent lives of citizens and not soldiers. Yet God sees the big pictures, He knows the complete ramifications of His actions and He knows the hearts of man to know what the eternal consequences may be and what choices they would make if left to their own ways. Do you not think a perfect God capable of making such a choice and it be good? We have this idea in our minds that good always means pleasant and that just isn’t correct.

2. Does it make sense to claim, as the Bible does, that wrongdoing can be forgiven by magically transferring the blame from a guilty person to an innocent one, then punishing the innocent person?

Does this question forget about question one where it is proposed that God is wrong to punish a guilty person? One can’t have it both ways.

God shows us the severity of sin and then shows us the One who will take the pain of sin for us so that we can be redeemed and free from the judgment. It is a loving act. It isn’t a logical act. Is it logical for any person to die so another can live simply because of love? Yet this happens all the time. One person takes the bullet for another protecting the other by their love and sacrificing themselves. If a created person can act in such a way, why are we confused by a perfect person, Jesus, doing so?


3. Why does the Bible routinely depict God as manifesting himself in dramatic, unmistakable ways and performing obvious miracles even before the eyes of nonbelievers, when no such thing happens in the world today?


How do you know no such things happen today? I’ve seen them happen today. I’ve read countless stories of them happening today. I’ve met many people who can tell me example after example of it happening today. His miracles are a sign of His existence, His love, His kindness, His authority and the power that He gives to those who walk with Him through life. He demonstrates His love through us by healing the sick. We live in an age of an increase of miracles happening in and outside the Church. Many are happening in the malls, on the streets, and in daily life as we Christians are out about our business. Many Christians are actively going out and seeking the sick and injured and physically handicap to bring healing to them and many are seeing results, not every time, but enough to know God’s still doing miracles.


4. Why do vast numbers of Christians still believe in the imminent end of the world when the New Testament states clearly that the apocalypse was supposed to happen 2,000 years ago, during the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries?


The Bible does not state that it was going to happen 2,000 years ago. Jesus said before this generation passes away you will see the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is here now and is demonstrated in the lives of each believer. Moreover, I do not believe the world will end. I believe the corruption of the world will end, but not the world. The Bible says that what can be shaken will fall away but what is unshakeable will remain. It also said the corruptible will put on incorruptibility meaning that what is now corrupted will be restored to something not-corrupted. The earth isn’t going anywhere because God gave humans authority and dominion over the earth. The earth will be made new and sin and corruption will be gone from it one day, but it’s not going to be destroyed.


5. Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain?


The soul is something spiritual, not physical. I’m not sure science could find something metaphysical. I have not researched this area of science so I really can’t say more than that.

65 comments:

Dan said...

The only way the creator of the universe can think to show his power is to kill and kill and kill. Well it astounds me that we can find justification for the creator instead of considering that he simply could have found a better way. The greatest power in the universe could think of no way better to teach than to murder. Why do people not even once consider that God can change the rules at any moment. Why be cruel when he has limitless options open. It makes no sense because there is no God and people are very good at finding meaning in things that dont make sense. It is part of our evolution into modern apes. It made sense that we evolved this trait because we explored and began to question things, going back to when we first left Africa, we wanted to learn. Unfortunately that trait can be a great failing too. Reading people trying to make sense of the senseless is heartbreaking.

The Word said...

Answers to the "problem of evil", specifically in terms of natural disasters etc. I came up with these solutions:


A) I believe God exists and he is omnipotent and benevolent – but in order to deal with the problem of evil... I’ll now turn my brain off.

B) I believe God exists and he is omnipotent and benevolent – but in order to deal with the problem of evil, I’ll [insert convoluted ad-hoc, occasionally perverse, rationalization here].

C) I believe God exists and he is omnipotent and an @rsehole.

D) I believe God exists and he is benevolent, but is p!ssweak.

E) There is no god, the laws of nature are uncaring and random sh!t happens.


E is most consistent with the evidence, has the most explanatory power and conforms with Occam’s razor… But E is dismissed out of hand by the religious, or they use wishful thinking / appeal to personal incredulity ("I cannot make sense of my life in this world without believing in God"). So the religious tend to go for B, which seems to be the least likely when one considers the evidence.

Eldon Tyrell said...

Trying to find logic and meaning from inconsistent ancient stories is like reading ink blots in the Rorschach test. What is revealed has nothing to do with the ancient text, rather, the mind of the reader is exposed.

CyberKitten said...

The idea of the Soul interests me. Of course, being the person I am, I have *lots* of questions about it:

What is it? What is it made of (if anything)? Why can't we detect it? Where is it located? Does it communicate with us? How is any information transferred? How do we know it exists if it cannot be detected? Is there *any* evidence to support the idea of the Soul? Do only people have one? If so, Why?

ETC..... ETC.....

I would make *such* a bad Christian.... [laughs]

Anonymous said...

Regarding the soul:

Xians need to explain why a person's personality can be altered by damage or alteration to the brain. If the soul controls the brain, then there's no reason for it. There are studies and experiments where a certain procedure where they split the connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and amazing results were found. In some cases, people almost seemed to have two people living in them. In one case, a person would start to put a cigarette to his mouth with one hand, and the other hand would slap it away. This is not compatible with the Xian concept of the soul that controls and acts in concert with the person. The Xian has to argue that somehow the soul is split or causing these actions or somehow set against itself, but how is that possible if the soul is supernatural?

The rest of the "answers" are weak as well. I will probably comment later.

Anonymous said...

Question 4:
"The Kingdom of God is here now and is demonstrated in the lives of each believer."

This is in direct opposition to the fact - that you've agreed with - that Xians are no more moral or immoral as a whole than any other group of people. This also assumes that the "Kingdom of god" has been in effect for about 2000 years, yet in that time we've had multiple wars and vast cruelties inflicted on people by people of all faiths. What, specifically, can one use to determine that this is indeed the time of god?

Karla said...

Welcome, Dan, The Word, and Eldon.

Dan, I didn't mean to insinuate that He needed to kill to show His power. I was talking about the Old Testament in general. I should have been more clear. I had the miracles of the Old Testament in mind when I said that. I certainly don't think God goes around killing people to show He is all powerful. That's not what He is like. I appreciate you pointing out that inconsistency in my answer, I'll try to be more careful next time.

Dan said, "Why do people not even once consider that God can change the rules at any moment."

Because God wasn't making rules to make rules. Goodness is found in His nature, and His nature doesn't change. If He needed to change He wouldn't be God, He wouldn't be perfect. Thus, His nature doesn't change, then "good" doesn't change. The standard of "good" is always the same. And that which is not of His nature is outside of the standard of good. Humans were created good, but we rebelled against our nature and began to live in a fallen nature. God is redeeming that in us and bringing us back into Him. I can't say enough, it isn't about rules.

Karla said...

The Word, all your possibilities are negative. There is another.

God is good. The problem of evil cannot be addressed without a standard of good for if there is no good there is no evil and these words are meaningless. Thus if God is good all this gains meaning and we have a reason to be appalled at evil and rejoice in goodness. Without God, evil and good are personal preferences devoid of real meaning. You lose grounds to even have outrage at anything in the Old Testament if you deny the foundation for goodness.


Yes God does give meaning to life. If there wasn't any meaning to be found, why do you think even atheist spend time talking about meaning or the lack thereof? Where does that knowledge of a lack come from if there is no substance to meaning? If humans didn't need water, do you think we would have any thoughts about a lack of water if it didn't exist?

Karla said...

Cyberkitten, you ask great questions. I like them. And the Bible says it is to the glory of God to conceal a matter but the glory of kings to search it out. Meaning truth isn't always on the surface, but He delights in giving us joy in searching things out. I'm saying this to say that it's great to ask questions, God likes that.

I really haven't done a study on the soul. I just spent some time asking my husband what he knows about the topic. In short, it is widely believed that the soul is made up of the mind, the will, and the emotions of a person. It is the part of us that will live on after the body dies. So in that way it is supernatural. To put it another way, it is our "personhood" apart from our body. Psalm 23:3 says "He restores my soul" and 42:2 says "the soul thirst for God."

Anonymous, you also ask a great question, but I don't know the answer. I'm not a scientist or well studied about the soul. I know science is gaining ground in discovery all the time, maybe time will show more. Maybe discovery of the soul is beyond scientific limits. I don't know. I think it's great science is studying it and seeing what they can find. I'm sorry I don't have a better answer for you.

Anonymous said...

"I certainly don't think God goes around killing people to show He is all powerful. That's not what He is like."

If you read the OT, obviously that is what he is like.

"If He needed to change He wouldn't be God, He wouldn't be perfect."

Then why perform any miracles at all?

"The problem of evil cannot be addressed without a standard of good for if there is no good there is no evil and these words are meaningless. Thus if God is good all this gains meaning and we have a reason to be appalled at evil and rejoice in goodness."

There's two logical flaws here. The first is that it's a non-sequitor to say that god must be good in order for us to be "appalled at evil and rejoice in goodness." An evil god can also evoke the same feelings in us. The second is that your assertion that there must be an absolute standard of good (that's what you are really arguing) is also a red herring. These are (some of) the problems that you always have when you make this assertion and you refuse to address. Further, even if we take the standard as set forth that you believe god sets, god does not measure up to that standard. It's a self-defeating argument.

"You lose grounds to even have outrage at anything in the Old Testament if you deny the foundation for goodness."

No, we don't. We can point out the hypocrisy of god not living up to his own standards and how it does not mesh with a perfect god and/or we can use the common conceptions of good that we as humans share (the dictionary is a good reference for that). Again, this is a non sequitor.

"Yes God does give meaning to life. If there wasn't any meaning to be found, why do you think even atheist spend time talking about meaning or the lack thereof?"

If I point out that there's no shoes on my feet, and tell you about it, does that mean that there actually are shoes on my feet?

"Where does that knowledge of a lack come from if there is no substance to meaning?"

Unless I'm standing in a lit room, how can I know it's dark? This is about as coherent as your argument.

"If humans didn't need water, do you think we would have any thoughts about a lack of water if it didn't exist?"

How about qualia? Qualia refutes your claim.

Karla said...

"This is in direct opposition to the fact - that you've agreed with - that Xians are no more moral or immoral as a whole than any other group of people. This also assumes that the "Kingdom of god" has been in effect for about 2000 years, yet in that time we've had multiple wars and vast cruelties inflicted on people by people of all faiths. What, specifically, can one use to determine that this is indeed the time of god?"


Another good question. God has always been at work in the world. Humanity was given entry into the Kingdom of God through Christ. During this age, it is not a Kingdom like we think of in governing nations. There is no theocracy at work upon the earth as such. There is a morality difference, there is a tapping into the supernatural that is a visible difference available in Kingdom living. Many in the Church, however, have entered the salvation of the Lord, but stopped at the starting place of a new way of life for a myriad of reasons. But many have walked through the door and journeyed many miles with the Lord and their lives are a picture of righteousness and supernatural living. And those people are trying to help the others and teach them about what's available in this great Kingdom. All this is being worked out in time as the "Bride" the Church prepares for the return of the King "Jesus" and the corruption we still deal with today will pass away and all will be new and right.

Karla said...

FYI Part 2 of the questions will post tomorrow.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: In short, it is widely believed that the soul is made up of the mind, the will, and the emotions of a person. It is the part of us that will live on after the body dies. So in that way it is supernatural.

But *none* of them are supernatural in nature. The mind, will & emotions are products of the brain. Damage or interfer with the brain and you damage one or all of them. They are simply by-products of natural physical phenomena.

karla said: To put it another way, it is our "personhood" apart from our body.

So what is it that supposedly survives death? In order to do that it must be apart and different from the body. It must be qualitatively different - and yet no such qualitatively different 'substance' has been discovered in the brain nor has anything - especially personal identity - been known to survive death.

We identify 'personhood' with what happens behind our eyes. That there is an 'I' somewhere in there looking out at the world. Personally [grin] I'm not so sure if such a thing exists and I'm fairly certain that there is no mechanism for this feeling to survive the death of the brain that produces it.

Anonymous said...

"I know science is gaining ground in discovery all the time, maybe time will show more."

What we are discovering through science is that the soul either doesn't exist or is completely superfluous.

Karla said...

Cyber Kitten, I don't know how it all works. I haven't studied the subject. If I gain more understanding about it, I'll let you know.

Anonymous said...

Question 3:
"How do you know no such things happen today?"

Because it's not happening to non-believers. This is verifiable.

Anonymous said...

Question 1:
"The Old Testament shows us the natural consequence of sin."

This has nothing to do with god ordering genocide.

"If you pull these stories often cited by atheists out of context of the whole of what the Bible reveals to us about God it will look like God is a vindictive annihilator."

In what context can you put genocide and make it look like a virtuous or good act? This is especially true for a god that has no need to kill and torture, but does so anyway.

"I am not sure how you can read through Scripture and miss the warnings, the mercy, the compassion and see that all acts of judgment were few and far between and very slow in coming."

And I'm not sure how you can look upon the acts of cruelty and barbarism and see good.

"But when you learn more and you see His holiness in context of His love and goodness and His justice in context of His goodness you will see more clearly."

IOW, when you assume your conclusion that god is good, then you can conclude that god is good.

"Also many who are adamant about God having done something unjust the few times He exacted judgment must consider if they believe there is ever a just war?"

Please see my response to this. This argument doesn't hold any water.

"Yet God sees the big pictures, He knows the complete ramifications of His actions and He knows the hearts of man to know what the eternal consequences may be and what choices they would make if left to their own ways. Do you not think a perfect God capable of making such a choice and it be good?"

You can't have it both ways. Either we have enough information to convict god of his crimes, or we don't have enough information to determine whether god's actions are good or bad.

And, no, simply because god may have more knowledge or power than us does not necessitate that his actions are good.

Question 2:
"Does this question forget about question one where it is proposed that God is wrong to punish a guilty person? One can’t have it both ways."

What in the world are you talking about? The questioner is not trying to have anything both ways. This is a quite separate question based on the Xian myth that someone can "die for our sins."

You don't ever actually address the question.

Karla said...

Anon said,"Because it's not happening to non-believers. This is verifiable."

Oh, really? I've seen it happen to unbelievers. I saw this video recently of a team going to the streets and praying for healing and several people who did not believe in Jesus were healed. Muslims who don't believe in Jesus are being healed and then are believing in Jesus. Everyday people from various belief systems are being healed when Christians pray for them.

Karla said...

Anonymous, we've been through this. If anyone else has your same questions I will answerer them when they ask them, but I'm not going to belabor it with you.

MS Quixote said...

Hey Karla,

I remember when Ebonmuse posted these questions, which I believe he did in good faith. They're honest questions that people ask all the time in my experience. I also think you've answered them in good faith. After all, he asked them wanting an answer.

There's a great deal of naked assertion, appeal to personal incredulity, and "nothing of the gaps" comments in response, as well as a couple of constructive comments. Frankly, I'm not real interested in some of the petty, partisan bickering occurring. Honestly, though, I would like to engage Anon on his view of the soul.

I'm always disappointed in the refutation of dualism by damaged brain observations and the lack of measurable energy. I guess what I'd like to ask, not really for argumentation purposes, but for my own purposes, is something along these lines: I can understand methodological naturalism undergirding science as an exploratory paradigm. There's no need to posit the soul when hyothesizing and experimenting on the brain. If that's what scientists are doing, I get it.

I also can comprehend the atheistic approach. If there's no evidence that I deem compelling, I will not to believe. Fair enough. But neither of these leads me to the logical conclusion that no soul exists, and taken on its own, it tends to sidestep difficulties inherent within a naturalistic conception of the mind, say epiphenomenalism.

So how, in your view, do you get to "no soul exists" from the available data, or are you simply practicing one of the above methods, or perhaps just making an inference to the best explanation?

Dan said...

Hi Karla, you said ' His nature doesn't change, then "good" doesn't change. The standard of "good" is always the same'.

I agree but then i do not have to be guided by the bible which is rife with bronze age "standards of good". Which in an enlightened and evolved culture are horrifying and in many cases cruel and just plain stupid. HIS nature is made crystal clear in those books, and its what makes the character so damn terrifying. Even moreso knowing people are guided by a cleaned up version of him.

I do understand how you got to this point where you can see past these things but most people cant. The majority of those who have faith have never read this horror book on their 'own' (and not guided by an expert in re-visioning and interpreting the obvious). So many do see reason once they have read it. Seeya

Dan said...

Oh and on another comment you made to someone - 'you deny the foundation for goodness'.

Not at all. Goodness is a required trait in all species. It is not just in homo sapiens. We are here now, still alive because goodness is inherited, it is passed on in our DNA. Goodness was here before the bronze age, it has evolved and improved as our brains evolved once we started living in larger groups. These 'morals' are essential for group survival which is why you see empathy, affection, caring, altruism and family bonds even in monkeys and apes. Goodness close to our modern idea has been around for over a million years. Not just the last 2000. In fact current ethics blast the water out of bronze age morals. It is why you are no longer allowed to follow gods law and stone, burn, enslave and rape your fellow man any more. All these things are in the bible for goodness sakes (pardon the pun). The question i humbly ask you is have you read at least a few well know books about biology and evolution. I doubt it as it is near impossible to reconcile the facts presented and still look at these texts seriously. Even the nice lessons in the bible (which have been borrowed from earlier texts) are inferior in their poetic expressions of these universal truths of good compared to older and less edited texts from other religions such as the Bhagavad Ghita to mention one of hundreds. Goodness has been expressed in many ways throughout this planets short history. Your version of the thousands of other gods man has concocted does not in any way, historically, chronologically or poetically have any claim to be the top of the heap.
And thats NOT an opinion or a belief. Doesnt need to be. Seeya

Dan said...

Karla said - 'I saw this video recently of a team going to the streets and praying for healing and several people who did not believe in Jesus were healed'.

You really should show the Discovery institute this video because they are spending millions upon millions of good peoples money to finally prove this fact. So far the studies they have done have proved the opposite occurs. I am truly surprised that these miracles are not all over the news, they would tell the world in a second. What a scoop, what a relief for us all.
Forgive the slight sarcasm , the question is genuine. What sort of healing occurred? Any amputees, burn victims, blind, deaf, cerebral palsy, deformed, birth marks, brain injuries, broken legs or arms, 'skin' cancers or basically any healing that you can see with your eyes and could not have been due to normal natural healing or remissions?

Would love if you can point me to any documents or the like that the shocked and amazed doctors would have written when they looked them over? Im assuming these guys making the videos took down their details and recorded all this stuff to show the world. There is nothing in the faith that prevents miracles from being shown to the world after all.

The Word said...

Hi Karla - First, I’d like to say you are courageous in putting your views out to be questioned and engaging in a dialogue. Second, here’s why you’re wrong...

You say there’s another option to my responses to the problem of evil, but in fact, you went, as I predicted, for option B):

I believe God exists and he is omnipotent and benevolent – but in order to deal with the problem of evil, I’ll [insert convoluted ad-hoc, occasionally perverse, rationalization here].

Your rationalization is that without god allowing (or as in the old testament, directing) evil, we wouldn't know what "good" is. So you went for perverse as well.

If you stopped to consider it from an example without god, perhaps you can understand how perverse it is. For example, do I need to be sexually assaulted to know how good making love is? No. It’s good all on its own.

An example from your point of view - is heaven only going to be good because of the knowledge that you’re not in hell? Perverse again. Moreover, what an entirely pointless system. Why set it up this way? Why not just let us all in instead of giving us an “entrance exam”. And don’t cop out to “free will”. Why bother with that? We’re only on the Earth for an infinitesimally short amount of time, but in heaven/hell for eternity – where we won’t have free will. To me, this make god some kind of sicko who enjoys watching the soap opera of human fallibility.

You then say: "Without God, evil and good are personal preferences devoid of real meaning."

And "with god" they are arbitrary rules that we have to follow for reward or punishment. Moreover, they are "rules" that, contrary to your points, have continually changed over time, and that we have to take the word of people who claim to know what god's rules are because it was "revealed" to them. What's your justification for believing these people who hear voices? See how you go answering that without quoting the bible (to do that is a fallacy, called begging the question). And why do you believe one particular fellow over all the other particular fellows who make the exact same claim (again, see how you go without begging the question).

As for the meaning of life thing, that's a relatively pointless question, along the lines of "what's the smell of a triangle". Just because it's grammatically correct doesn't make is a meaningful question.

As for this: "If humans didn't need water, do you think we would have any thoughts about a lack of water if it didn't exist?" That's called a False Analogy.

The reason atheists talk about god's non-existence is the same reason a child psychologist talks about little Johny's imaginary friend. (That's called an "apt analogy".)

And I have no-doubt you’ll have a further response to these points. But you’ll still be missing my original point, which was you have to come up with a great deal of rationalizations in order to make sense of an all loving, all powerful god, in a world where bad things happen to good people. But a much more elegant solution, requiring no rationalizations, is that there is no god – but this is a possibility that you have been programmed to not entertain.

Your blurb on this site says it all. You are married to the answer (Jesus). And will frame all your questions, and rationalize all your responses, in such a way as to get to this predetermined answer. I am married to the process of thinking and questioning – my answers are not predetermined, I don’t care what they are, and am happy to revise them in light of new evidence or errors in thinking - I have no sacred cow. That is actually where our differences lie and such differences are insurmountable, unless I choose my original option A. Barring an unfortunate head injury, I don’t see this happening... ;)

Ps - reading my comment before posting, it might come across as a little harsh. This is not my intention. I think you'd no doubt be a lovely person, and I can safely say I am too... it's just that written text lack the nuance of body language and tone.

The Word said...

@MS Quixote. I'm not Anon, but I can answer your question.

It all comes down to the burden of proof. Atheists are happy to believe in something when we have verifiable, public evidence. Strictly speaking, I say “there is no good evidence for belief in a soul, so I don’t believe in them”. But a shorthand way of putting it is “there is no soul”. Not as epistemologically sound, but easier.

But taking on the burden of proof, which is no way am I obliged to do so, I’ll give a reason besides the lack of evidence.

There are an infinite amount of things there is no evidence for. So yes, we can't disprove the soul, but we can't disprove that the flying spaghetti monster's noodley appendage isn't directing all our thoughts, emotions, experiences, either... “The soul” is merely a psychological preference.

If we can explain consciousness without the need for a soul, we stick with Occam's razor until someone gives us a reason to add a soul (and not a noodley appendage). You can’t use logic, in its strictest sense, to prove or disprove anything. Even mathematical logic rests on a priori axioms. If we accept Occam’s razor a priori, then logically, the soul doesn’t exist (and neither does, unfortunately, the flying spaghetti monster). Accepting Occam’s razor seems rational to me and the particular preference for a soul over the FSM seems like an obvious case of psychological preference (wishful thinking) than anything that can be justified with evidence.

Karla said...

Dan, I've seen an arm grow out an inch and a half. I've been instantly healed of a sinus infection and upper respiratory infection. My friends foot which was numb and could feel nothing for like 15 years was instantly healed and now he can feel his sock and the shower water and all on his foot where he could not before. A woman I know had really bad pain in her foot from a fall and she thought her toe was broken. She was limping all over the place and we prayed for her and she started (against our advise) jumping up and down on the injured foot with no pain. Another woman's ankle was hurting and she was scheduled for surgery for the doctor to try and relieve the pain, and she received prayer and her ankle stopped hurting. I have seen so many other miracles happen, and read of so many more. (I have written accounts of the first two on my blog you should find it under miracles)

The video I spoke of is actually a trailer for a new show being presented to one of the networks to show these miracles each week on tv as this team travels around praying for people. I haven't heard yet if it has been accepted. I'll try and find the link to it.

Karla said...

Dan, I have also written at length on the nature of good and evil and why they exist and what it's all about. You can find that in my subject list to the right of my posts.

Karla said...

Quixote, yes Ebon asks some good questions that deserve answer.

MS Quixote said...

@ The Word

Thanks for the response. That's what I was looking for. BTW-I appreciate your attention to making certain that you're not trying to be a jerk. You didn't appear that way to me, but these discussions are much better when rational.

A couple of things: "If we accept Occam’s razor a priori, then logically, the soul doesn’t exist" This doesn't follow logically, but I think I know what you meant.

With regard to your first post on the POE, stating that God may have a morally sufficient reason to allow evil seems neither convolutedly ad hoc, perverse, or rationalized. The emotional content seems to be within answers A,C, and D. Your preferred position E is rational, but I rarely meet an atheist willing to follow it to its logical conclusion.

Karla said...

The Word, I wasn't done responding on here. I only a had a few minutes the last time I was on. I'll have to respond more later.

Karla said...

The Word said "Your rationalization is that without god allowing (or as in the old testament, directing) evil, we wouldn't know what "good" is. So you went for perverse as well."


That isn't what I said at all. I said God showed us the severity of sin. I said the law showed us an external standard. But the consequences of sin shows us how much it cost. I didn't say He did this to show us what good was. He did this to show us ourselves so that we would see our need for redemption. Still there are only a few times where He took drastic measures after much time allowed for repentance.

I'm sorry if I didn't communicate this well. If it is still confusing please ask more questions and I will try again. But what you took away from what I was saying, isn't what I was saying.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, really? I've seen it happen to unbelievers. I saw this video recently of a team going to the streets and praying for healing and several people who did not believe in Jesus were healed. Muslims who don't believe in Jesus are being healed and then are believing in Jesus. Everyday people from various belief systems are being healed when Christians pray for them."

Two words: Derron Brown.

"Anonymous, we've been through this. If anyone else has your same questions I will answerer them when they ask them, but I'm not going to belabor it with you."

IOW, "I'm getting tired of not answering your questions, so I'm not going to try anymore."

It's ironic that your blog is titled "Answerbearer" when you refuse to answer questions.

Anonymous said...

MS,
"So how, in your view, do you get to "no soul exists" from the available data, or are you simply practicing one of the above methods, or perhaps just making an inference to the best explanation?"

What The Word said.

I'll also add this. The things that the soul supposedly does for us seem to not hold up under scrutiny either. For instance, if we had an over-arching soul, we would not expect the splitting of the L and R hemispheres to significantly alter the person's behavior, let alone lead to such bizarre behavior that we do witness. As another example, damaging the brain should not lead to the problems it does if there is an immaterial soul out there pulling the levers. Not only do we not see any evidence of it, but the evidence we do have leads us away from the idea of having a soul.

Just like god, I would not say we have conclusive evidence that the soul does not exist, because we can't prove a negative. But, there's no reason to propose or believe that it does...just like god.

Karla said...

The Word, here is a more complete response for you. I'm sorry I inadvertently skipped over you earlier when I was only on here for a few minutes.

The Word said “Hi Karla - First, I’d like to say you are courageous in putting your views out to be questioned and engaging in a dialogue.”

Thank you. And I appreciate you taking the time to dialog with me about it.

The Word said, “ Second, here’s why you’re wrong...

You say there’s another option to my responses to the problem of evil, but in fact, you went, as I predicted, for option B):

I believe God exists and he is omnipotent and benevolent – but in order to deal with the problem of evil, I’ll [insert convoluted ad-hoc, occasionally perverse, rationalization here].

Your rationalization is that without god allowing (or as in the old testament, directing) evil, we wouldn't know what "good" is. So you went for perverse as well.”

I don’t believe that is my argument at all. Once good was created, all that is absent of good is by default evil. We being free to make our own choices can choice what is good or what is not good. There is no other way we can be free. If good were are only option there would be no freedom, because there would be something we do not have freedom to do and that is non-good.

I’m not sure if you are combining two answers to different questions. But with regard to God’s response to sin in the Old Testament that is about 1) His showing us the costs of sin 2) His preventing the perverseness of certain cultures from harming the other cultures. However, He was always slow to exact such a consequence giving ample time for the people to change course.


The Word says“If you stopped to consider it from an example without god, perhaps you can understand how perverse it is. For example, do I need to be sexually assaulted to know how good making love is? No. It’s good all on its own.”

I agree. If you see above what you are arguing against isn’t what I was alleging. You don’t learn what good is by contrast of evil. You learn what good is by beholding good. Evil is that which is not good. As soon as something is the right way, that which is not that, is the wrong way. Otherwise one would be claiming all things equally amoral and nothing is good and nothing is evil all just is neutral. Are you arguing for that?

The Word says “An example from your point of view - is heaven only going to be good because of the knowledge that you’re not in hell? Perverse again. Moreover, what an entirely pointless system. Why set it up this way? Why not just let us all in instead of giving us an “entrance exam”. And don’t cop out to “free will”. Why bother with that? We’re only on the Earth for an infinitesimally short amount of time, but in heaven/hell for eternity – where we won’t have free will. To me, this make god some kind of sicko who enjoys watching the soap opera of human fallibility.”

Again you are arguing a point I haven’t put forth. Heaven is good because it is a dominion where God’s goodness reigns without contamination of sin and evil. It is where there is no corruption. Where righteousness is the norm. It is designed for man to have free access and God made that available through Christ. Evil wasn’t necessary to show us what good is. God is eternally good. He didn’t need evil to exist to be good. Evil is the absence of good. It became possible when the physical world was created because it was created good and set on a good course but that created the possibility of non-good.

Karla says: "Without God, evil and good are personal preferences devoid of real meaning."

Word says “ And "with god" they are arbitrary rules that we have to follow for reward or punishment. Moreover, they are "rules" that, contrary to your points, have continually changed over time, and that we have to take the word of people who claim to know what god's rules are because it was "revealed" to them. What's your justification for believing these people who hear voices? See how you go answering that without quoting the bible (to do that is a fallacy, called begging the question). And why do you believe one particular fellow over all the other particular fellows who make the exact same claim (again, see how you go without begging the question).”

You don’t have to take anyone’s word. Where have I said that? God can show you directly. We continually teach people at my church that they need to think for themselves that they shouldn’t take what the church leaders say just because. That they have minds and spirits and they can weigh things out for themselves to see if it lines up with truth. I have asked people not to take my word for anything, but research it out. I have to earn your trust for you to believe testimonies I share. I don’t expect anyone to believe everything they read or hear. I certainly hope people don’t believe everything they are told.

If God is absolute and His nature is unchangeable, then why would His goodness be arbitrary? Also, it’s not about rules, it never has been. Following rules didn’t do anything for anybody. That’s the point is that we can’t earn God’s favor, He gives us His favor freely by paying our debt to sin for us.

The Word said, “As for the meaning of life thing, that's a relatively pointless question, along the lines of "what's the smell of a triangle". Just because it's grammatically correct doesn't make is a meaningful question.”

It’s a question everyone asks. It’s a desire in us to know. We search it out. Humanity is longing to know our meaning. People are looking for meaning.

“As for this: "If humans didn't need water, do you think we would have any thoughts about a lack of water if it didn't exist?" That's called a False Analogy.”

How so?

“The reason atheists talk about god's non-existence is the same reason a child psychologist talks about little Johny's imaginary friend. (That's called an "apt analogy".)”

G.K. Chesterton said that if there was no God there would be no atheists. Meaning we wouldn’t have any construct to talk about God if no such thing existed. It wouldn’t be in the minds of millions. He wouldn’t be so forcefully denied if there was nothing to deny.

“And I have no-doubt you’ll have a further response to these points. But you’ll still be missing my original point, which was you have to come up with a great deal of rationalizations in order to make sense of an all loving, all powerful god, in a world where bad things happen to good people. But a much more elegant solution, requiring no rationalizations, is that there is no god – but this is a possibility that you have been programmed to not entertain.”

Where does good come from if there is no God? Where do you get a construct of a differentiation between the two if there is no God? I think atheists have a lot to explain about how we know what good and evil is and why we all have this idea of a moral “ought” that we can’t rid ourselves of.

“Your blurb on this site says it all. You are married to the answer (Jesus). And will frame all your questions, and rationalize all your responses, in such a way as to get to this predetermined answer. I am married to the process of thinking and questioning – my answers are not predetermined, I don’t care what they are, and am happy to revise them in light of new evidence or errors in thinking - I have no sacred cow. That is actually where our differences lie and such differences are insurmountable, unless I choose my original option A. Barring an unfortunate head injury, I don’t see this happening... ;)”

Correct. It would be illogical for me to form answers that I didn’t think lined up with Truth. I expect my answers to be examined, analyzed, and questioned. I would hope for that. I am continually teaching even Christians to examine their worldview and think deeply about what they believe and why and to take nothing for granted. I am a thinker. I read and I think and I write all the time. I ponder the questions I am asked on here all week and I research them out. Some topics I am studying now that I have told people I will post on, and I haven’t posted yet because I am still researching and thinking and analyzing the information I have been supplied with on here and other various sources from various worldviews.

“Ps - reading my comment before posting, it might come across as a little harsh. This is not my intention. I think you'd no doubt be a lovely person, and I can safely say I am too... it's just that written text lack the nuance of body language and tone.”

I know that tone doesn’t communicate in text very well. I will always do my best to be respectful to all who come here and to treat all questions as valid and all questioners as valuable. In fact, I will bow out of a discussion if I feel it degrading into a quarrel or banter because the person is far more valuable then any of these discussions.

Anonymous said...

"G.K. Chesterton said that if there was no God there would be no atheists. Meaning we wouldn’t have any construct to talk about God if no such thing existed. It wouldn’t be in the minds of millions. He wouldn’t be so forcefully denied if there was nothing to deny."

Do you believe in Leprechauns? If you say, "No," that just proves that they exist. Perhaps even you can see how weak and fallacious Chesterton's argument is.

Anonymous said...

"Where does good come from if there is no God?"

I predict that someone will once again inform Karla that these are human constructs, and she will once again deny that and simply continue to make this claim over and over without ever actually addressing the objections brought up.

"It would be illogical for me to form answers that I didn’t think lined up with Truth. I expect my answers to be examined, analyzed, and questioned. I would hope for that. I am continually teaching even Christians to examine their worldview and think deeply about what they believe and why and to take nothing for granted."

Yet, you claim to have absolute and unmistakeable knowledge that not only is god real, but that god conforms to your perceptions of what god is. This is exactly what you expect all others to examine and analyze, especially those that don't hold your views, but are completely unwilling to examine yourself, even though you continually and falsely claim that you are and do examine your beliefs. What you really mean to say here is that you hold certain dogmas that are beyond question and beyond reproach in your mind and the only things that you are seeking are the best ways to support those dogmas.

"I ponder the questions I am asked on here all week and I research them out."

You would think that with all that thinking and researching you'd be able to come up with at least one answer to an objection that's been raised against your assertions. One might also think that you'd have at least run into some sort of information about science and history, yet you seem to have avoided all of that.

"I will always do my best to be respectful to all who come here and to treat all questions as valid and all questioners as valuable."

Being polite and being respectful are not necessarily the same thing. When you regurgitate the same things over and over without regard for the objections that have been put forth in front of you, you may sound polite, but you are being highly disrespectful. I know you don't understand that because you don't understand the concepts of intellectual rigor and intellectual honesty, but you need to be told it anyway.

"In fact, I will bow out of a discussion if I feel it degrading into a quarrel or banter because the person is far more valuable then any of these discussions."

Which simply gives you an excuse to re-appear and act as if none of the objections posed to you were ever given you. This is a tried and true tactic of intellectually dishonest people (most of whom that I've met have coincidentally been apologists...go figure). You don't have to engage all the time, but you darned sure better acknowledge when someone brings up an objection and not simply plow ahead with the same tired, old apologetic crap that you usually use.

Dan said...

Karla, you have not been able to provide any support to your statements about healing. Once again we see grandiose statements of the kind of healing that you cant actually see, just internal injuries that heal themselves. You leave out the extraordinary power of our minds to ignore pain. Have you never heard of the term placebo before or even once considered that in the excitement of the moment that a sore ankle could suddenly feel better just as one example? With all due respect this is ignoring any current knowledge deliberately, your examples are truly ridiculous for a modern person to think. Jumping to extraordinary claims without even ONCE investigating the more likely reason is extremely dishonest of you. When you can show me an example of healing the EYES can see come back to me. Heal a burn victim and you will have my attention. Once again another power the mind has, to see what they want to see.

Dan said...

Oh and guess what (and this is really going to hurt). If God can make a limb grow before your eyes, he can heal amputees and do all of the other things i mentioned. The one argument healers have had is that God can only work with nature. You have just said he is not bound by this and saw it with your own eyes. Brilliant, time to heal the truly needy my dear. Cure cerebral palsy for one! Thats nothing compared to growing a limb longer.

Dan said...

Karla, you have obviously missed my answer to this question -
"Where does good come from if there is no God? Where do you get a construct of a differentiation between the two if there is no God? I think atheists have a lot to explain about how we know what good and evil is and why we all have this idea of a moral “ought” that we can’t rid ourselves of".

Please read above my explanation of this. Good was around long before your God was even dreamt of. It doesn't get much simpler than that. There are plenty of logical and evolutionary reasons that we have developed 'goodness'. Karla i have already given you this answer. I wonder if it is possible for you to ever truly hear an answer that threatens your beliefs? I was once in your position and i was strong enough to let the wall down and think about these things honestly and openly. The outcome for you is not known however it diminishes our respect for Christians when they hide behind these mental walls.

One last point, i left faith behind me and have come out of it with all my goodness, grace, dignity, love, ethics and relationships intact. Losing God has made absolutely no impact on my ability to love and be loved. And i am just one example of many many people. I thought you needed to know that.

Anonymous said...

Dan,
CyberKitten and I have both given her very similar arguments about where good comes from sans god. I predict that Karla will either ignore you and continue to claim that good can only come from god, or she'll simply re-assert that good can only come from god and act like it's a new argument.

Karla said...

Dan, I did give you an example of a healing I saw with my eyes. It wasn't a fake. My mother-in-law is the one who experienced the healing as my husband prayed for her much to all of our astonishment. One arm had been shorter than the other for 30 years due to an injury that caused her to lose her wrist. She already had a miracle where she has wrist movement when there is no wrist to move as it was surgically removed that baffled her doctor many years ago. But a few months ago I saw her arm grow out and her finger tips come even with each other as she held still as she received prayer. She was showing her sister and husband and others who knew she has had this shorter arm for 30 years. They all see they are the same. Please tell me how this could be an illusion? I think that would be a grander miracle if somehow positive thinking grew out her arm. Or we are all seeing the same delusion. That would be rather incredible and the others who know her arm to have been short are also sharing in the delusion. Now that's a real amazing thing if that's what happened.

I don't know why some get healed and some don't. I have prayed for many who have not gotten healed and I have prayed for people who have gotten healed. Last year I prayed for a woman with deafness in one ear and she said she could hear after. My husband and I prayed for a woman who had I think glycoma and cataracts in her eyes and they were all this milky cloudy color and the discoloration mostly disappeared. I saw an acquaintance who had this condition where her fingers curved backwards like upwards and they straightened while she sat listening to testimonies of healing. The sinus and respiratory infection I was healed of was visible, I wasn't coughing up junk. I was breathing without wheezing. I was able to sleep at night. I wasn't blowing my nose. I was able to talk without coughing for the first time in days. My lungs felt light as a feather and tingled. All instantly. It was incredible and it certainly wasn't positive thinking, I didn't expect it to happen. That was the first of such miracles I had seen or experienced. The other things I have mentioned came after that day. I'm just telling you what I've seen. You can believe me or disbelieve me. But there you have it.

Karla said...

Dan, you said good existed before God? Um, if God's eternal, how did good precede Him? Unless you are inferring that good existed before mankind invented a fictional God. I can see you saying something like that. But you can't say good existed before an eternal God. That would be a logical impossibility.

Karla said...

Moreover, Dan, thank you for sharing a little of your story with me. I have experienced so much of God tangibly that He is far more to me than the conclusion of intellectual arguments for His existence. Those are important, but there is so much more. These last few years have been incredible. I would have to be insane to not accept the reality of His existence after all I have seen. I know He is real. You can call that arrogant, but I just want to be honest with you where I am coming from. I know Him. He's my father and my friend. I can't deny that, He's that real in my life.

cl said...

Anonymous / OMGF /
cl is a coward and liar,


Xians need to explain why a person's personality can be altered by damage or alteration to the brain. If the soul controls the brain, then there's no reason for it.

Let me think of an equivalent argument of my own: Atheists need to explain why red cars drive on Highway 12. If horses exist, there's no reason for it.

Come on man! False opposites and non-sequiturs are quite your forte'. This was just the first few sentences of many that miss the mark.

cl said...

CyberKitten,

I think it is you who asks the right questions when nearly all others in this thread spew dogmatic, irrational rants:

What is it? What is it made of (if anything)? Why can't we detect it? Where is it located? Does it communicate with us? How is any information transferred? How do we know it exists if it cannot be detected? Is there *any* evidence to support the idea of the Soul? Do only people have one? If so, Why?

As far as the soul / spirit pertains to discussions about rationalism and science, it all hinges on whether or not the soul / spirit is falsifiable. I am currently undecided on that question, but I do believe there is preliminary evidence consistent with the idea of a soul / spirit that disconnects from the human body upon death. Further interesting was the uniformly negative results when the experiment was performed on dogs.

MS Quixote said...

Hamlet's the pearl of the English language, cl. Nice choice.

Dan said...

Karla, what about the other religions who have had exactly the same 'experiences' that you have? Different Gods, same miracles. I too belonged to Sahaja Yoga for some years and witnessed amazing things. I felt the cool breeze of the holy ghost above my head. I could feel catches in peoples chakras and would say mantras that would heal those issues they had. My mother who had breast cancer would find her pain went away once i worked on the chakras effecting her cancer. I can tell YOU that i witnessed these things. All this without your God. Instead it was various deities that are associated to each chakra such as Krishna, Buddha, Shiva, Mohammed and others. I can tell you that in Sahaja Yoga christ resides in the agnya chakra. I could cure people of terrible migranes. I also used the photo of Shri Mataji (who claims to be Mother Mary incarnated again, she also claims to be the lamb of God) to perform an exorcism. All these things worked and i felt i had complete evidence having witnessed these things and performed some of them myself. How do you reconcile my experiences against yours? Because aside from their being different deities involved i was also able to heal people directly through this yoga techniques, with many witnesses. I have since woken up and learnt about the wonder of the brain and what seeming miracles the mind can accomplish. I humbly add thousands of other religions and spiritualists with millions of experiences of healing as additional examples that did not require prayer to your God.

Dan said...

CL - regarding that link about experiments to find a soul.

I saw no paper associated to this, just a blog post. Was this actually published? Ta

Dan said...

Karla, a quick correction. Shri Mataji actually claimed to be the comforter mentioned in the bible, not the lamb of God. She taught that opening the last chakra dawned a new age and now self realisation can be performed en masse. Self realisation is essentially baptism. Without your realisation you cannot be connected to God. A christian can be a sahaja yogi and there are actually quite a few of them around the world.

Anonymous said...

Dan,
"Karla, what about the other religions who have had exactly the same 'experiences' that you have? Different Gods, same miracles."

I too have asked Karla this. She replied with something about how only Xianity leads to healing and good, and that all others are from the devil. I predict more of the same.

Anonymous said...

Apparently cl can't see the connection between positing what a soul does and the empirical results of actual studies, but that's not my problem, nor does it require that I answer inane and incoherent demands to know about "red cars" or other such non-sensical attempts at rebuttal.

Karla said...

Dan I don't doubt that supernatural things happen in other religions. I think there are spirits in this world that do these things. I think witchdoctors and mediums and shaman and what have you have real power of sorts, but I don't believe that it is from God. I believe that it is produced by the demonic realm. But I think it is real, and I think many can be deceived that it is good.

Most of the world, except the West, is inundated with spirituality. There are real spiritual and supernatural things at work in this world and most the world has no doubt of this. Atheism is a product only of the West, America, Europe, Canada and small pockets in Africa where it is heavily British. Even then it is prevalent in a very small percentage in the west. I am not, as I know anonymous is ready to say, saying this to make it a numbers game. I am simply pointing out that much of the world attest to spiritual experiences and I don't doubt that they happen in various cultures and religions because humans are innately spiritual. But there are two sources of power in this world just like every movie and every book and every story shows the battle between good and evil. I don't say that to condemn those who are influenced with demonic powers, because that is a bondage I want to help people find freedom from.

That was a good question, I have been asked it before. My answer is the same as it was before.

Karla said...

I was thinking more on the question of the soul. Would not after death experiences prove that there is something that exist after the body has died? Many tell of such experiences and describe with accuracy things they saw happening while their heart was stopped and brain was dead.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of people walking down a tunnel of light while on their death bed? Yeah, that's just the synaptic nerves in the visual cortex firing.

Karla said...

Anon, that may be one of the theories.

Dan said...

Ok, i finally get it. Guys, this blog has nothing whatsoever to do with you wanting to hear others views and to learn. The question everyone in here should be asking is "what will it take for you to change your mind". And anon, cyberkitten and others, the answer is nothing, nothing at all. Not even if the fictional Christ returned would these particular people be able to acknowledge it.

Its very sad but then again we can feel very fortunate that these beliefs are now on their way out. A few generations and most of the western world will be like Denmark, mostly religion free and very very happy. Im out of here and i suggest all the rest of you just ignore as well. Go outside instead and enjoy reality in all its wonder. Seeya

cl said...

Dan,

In the event you return to learn, yes, MacDougall's research was published. But I do appreciate your comments about going outside and enjoying "reality" in all its wonder.

Anonymous,

Regarding your comment to Dan,

She replied with something about how only Xianity leads to healing and good, and that all others are from the devil.

Assuming your paraphrase of Karla is correct, which is a huge assumption, I would disagree with Karla here. A good place to start would be Exodus.

Regarding your comment to me,

...nor does it require that I answer inane and incoherent demands to know about "red cars" or other such non-sensical attempts at rebuttal.

Inane, incoherent and non-sensical arguments merit non-sensical rebuttal. You're catching on!

Karla said...

Dan, you are welcome to be here or to go. It's of course all up to you. I don't know why my answer bothered you so badly. I only said there are two powers in this world and supernatural experiences come from one or the other unless the rare time the experience is fraudulent. But that's the answer that comes from what I believe. You reject the whole package of what I believe, so I wouldn't expect you to accept that answer. But I had to be honest and give it when you asked the question.

I don't hide the fact that I am a Christian and that I give answers from the Christian worldview. If you don't want to hear other peoples perspectives that's fine. I do want to hear others and that is why I invite you all here. I wish you well in your journey.

Anonymous said...

cl,
"Inane, incoherent and non-sensical arguments merit non-sensical rebuttal. You're catching on!"

That you don't understand cause and effect surprises me not one bit.

Dan,
I've known for a while what you've just said. People like Karla and cl are so thoroughly entrenched in their closed-minded thinking that there's little hope of escape for them. In an ironic twist, they have somehow convinced themselves that they are actually the open-minded ones and everyone else is somehow blinkered to the truth that only they can really plainly see. It's almost like a bad conspiracy theory.

The only reason I've stayed so long has been to continually point out those uncomfortable questions that continually don't get answered. Maybe I just like seeing cognitive dissonance in action.

Karla said...

Anon, if you value open-mindedness why are you so closed to God? You insist no evidence exist for Him, and you go beyond that to trying to convince me that what I have presented as evidence for Him is no answer at all. Evidently you believe what you believe to be true or you would not be expending so much time as an atheist evangelist. I just read a post by Ebon Muse promoting the idea of atheist evangelist. Would this not mean you have a way of looking at the world you deem to be accurate and true and you want others to accept it as well. And by having an atheist or non-theist worldview are you not then saying that theists worldviews are not truth and inaccurate? If so you are doing the very same thing you think I am so terrible to do. If I didn't believe Christianity to be true then what point would I have to share it with others? You certainly haven't presented yourself as a postmodern relativist that accepts all worldviews as equally true, so why are you so upset that I would think what I believe to be true? Why would I want to believe something or promote something untrue? The word "open minded" is so overused and misused.

I've not hidden the fact I'm a Christian and that I speak as a Christian and that I have experienced the living God in a myriad of ways both intellectual, physical, and spiritual. If that bothers anyone and they do not have questions for me in their personal journey of truth then please continue on your way. I'll be here if you ever want to talk or ask questions or discuss these things in a calm rational way. But if you don't that's up to you.

Anonymous, I have seen your responses towards cl and I ask you not to post another in that manner. I don't know what you guys history is of conversation, but this forum is not the place for it. I have already asked cl not to speak to you disrespectfully on my forum. I ask you the same. I've never monitored comments, deleted comments or anything else, but if civility is not maintained I will have to start moderating comments and I really don't want to do that.

Anyone from any religion or non-religion is welcome here to ask any question they like and I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge or point you to a better source. All I ask is for everyone to interchange respectfully.

Anonymous said...

"Anon, if you value open-mindedness why are you so closed to God?"

For the same reason you don't believe in leprechauns.

"You insist no evidence exist for Him, and you go beyond that to trying to convince me that what I have presented as evidence for Him is no answer at all."

Because you don't understand what the word "evidence" actually means and why something is or is not evidence.

"Evidently you believe what you believe to be true or you would not be expending so much time as an atheist evangelist."

Actually, if I didn't believe what I believe, then why would I hold that belief at all? What an absurd thing for you to say.

"I just read a post by Ebon Muse promoting the idea of atheist evangelist. Would this not mean you have a way of looking at the world you deem to be accurate and true and you want others to accept it as well."

Yes, I do think that my "view" of the world is accurate, else I would not hold it. And your point is?

"And by having an atheist or non-theist worldview are you not then saying that theists worldviews are not truth and inaccurate?"

I'm still waiting for you to show that your beliefs are accurate, yes.

"If so you are doing the very same thing you think I am so terrible to do."

Not in the least, but nice try. Do I need to spell out the differences?

1. I'm open to evidence that would confirm that a god does exist. I'm still waiting. You are not open to evidence that your beliefs are incorrect.

2. I do not conclude that I "know" the truth, meaning I am open to persuasion, while you claim that you "know" the truth (which is really a claim to infallibility).

3. I have reason and rationality on my side, you have faith.

4. I don't have to subvert science and empirical evidence.

Shall I go on?

"If I didn't believe Christianity to be true then what point would I have to share it with others?"

Nice change-up there, but I'm not buying it. You don't believe Xianity is true...you claim to "know" it is true.

"The word "open minded" is so overused and misused."

Yes, it is, especially when people like you and cl try to use it in regards to self-descriptions.

"I've not hidden the fact I'm a Christian and that I speak as a Christian and that I have experienced the living God in a myriad of ways both intellectual, physical, and spiritual. If that bothers anyone and they do not have questions for me in their personal journey of truth then please continue on your way."

This isn't what bothers me. What bothers me is a couple things, but one of them happens to be the numerous times I've pointed out to you that simply having a theistic belief is not what bothers me. Yet, here you are complaining about how I'm unfair because you should believe in what you want. Nice try.

"I'll be here if you ever want to talk or ask questions or discuss these things in a calm rational way."

I've asked you a gazillion questions, which you simply ignore. It's OK, no apologist has the answers to these types of questions. That's why you need faith.

"Anonymous, I have seen your responses towards cl and I ask you not to post another in that manner."

Then you also know that I'm done talking to him. He's a liar, as I've shown numerous times on Ebon's blog. He complains uproariously about how people misrepresent him, while subtly changing his arguments left and right. Then, he'll turn around and outright lie and misrepresent in an effort to tar people, like me. He's a cancer to a blog, and you're better off with a bunch of commenting atheists than a snake like cl.

"I don't know what you guys history is of conversation, but this forum is not the place for it."

For once we agree. I'm just giving you a word of advice. He'll look nice and polite. He'll make nice sounding arguments. He'll also lie, bluff, and dodge his way through all arguments. There's a reason that even Ebon doesn't tolerate him. It's all well-documented, you can look it up on his page.

Karla said...

I said "Anon, if you value open-mindedness why are you so closed to God?"

Anon responded “For the same reason you don't believe in leprechauns.”

This seems to negate your assertion of being open minded if you still equate the two.

I said "You insist no evidence exist for Him, and you go beyond that to trying to convince me that what I have presented as evidence for Him is no answer at all."

Anon responded “Because you don't understand what the word "evidence" actually means and why something is or is not evidence.”

Define it for me in your understanding of it.

I said "Evidently you believe what you believe to be true or you would not be expending so much time as an atheist evangelist."

Anon answered “Actually, if I didn't believe what I believe, then why would I hold that belief at all? What an absurd thing for you to say. Yes, I do think that my "view" of the world is accurate, else I would not hold it. And your point is? ”

Exactly. Just making sure you understand we both see it that way.


Anon said “I'm still waiting for you to show that your beliefs are accurate, yes.”

I’m still waiting too for you to do the same.


“1. I'm open to evidence that would confirm that a god does exist. I'm still waiting. You are not open to evidence that your beliefs are incorrect.”

You haven’t seemed to receptive to any evidence responding continually that there is None and any answer I have written isn’t an answer. That doesn’t show receptivity to anything that I have to say. Also by continually asserting that belief in God is tantamount to belief in fairy tale figures shows you haven’t any value of any theists arguments whatsoever. I don’t respond to any atheists that their arguments are sophomoric or unintellectual because that reduces your thinking below mine and there would be no reason to resort to any such thing. Ethically I can’t do that, and intellectually it just isn’t so. Many very intelligent people are Christians or theist and many intelligent people are atheists or agnostics. We should be able to converse on the same playing field to think things through and follow the truth where it leads.

2. I do not conclude that I "know" the truth, meaning I am open to persuasion, while you claim that you "know" the truth (which is really a claim to infallibility).

No. When I say I know, I am saying I relationally know. I have encountered God. I say I know God exist in the same way I say I know my husband exist. I’m sorry this bothers you. I’m not trying to claim some kind of intellectual superiority. I just have a relationship with God and I know you think it is imaginary, but I’m being open and honest about the reality that I have encountered God. I only know Him in part. I’m not omniscient.

3. I have reason and rationality on my side, you have faith.

Faith is based on reason and rationality. It’s all very reasonable.

4. I don't have to subvert science and empirical evidence.

Neither do I.



I said "If I didn't believe Christianity to be true then what point would I have to share it with others?"

Anon said “Nice change-up there, but I'm not buying it. You don't believe Xianity is true...you claim to "know" it is true.”

I know it’s true because I have experienced it. Because it doesn’t rest solely on an intellectual assertion of belief but a real relationship with God. If I said I believed I had a relationship with my husband, but didn’t know that I did, wouldn’t that be odd? Wouldn’t it be logical that I would know if I had a relationship with God and not just believe He exists? If I just believed He existed and had faith that the Bible was true but hadn’t experienced any of it as true then what good would that be? What would it matter? Why would you want me to be dishonest and say I only believe something on unsubstantiated faith with no evidence when in reality I have seen much evidence and have encountered God?

"The word "open minded" is so overused and misused."

Yes, it is, especially when people like you and cl try to use it in regards to self-descriptions.



Anon said “ I've asked you a gazillion questions, which you simply ignore. It's OK, no apologist has the answers to these types of questions. That's why you need faith.”

Maybe their answers haven’t satisfied you, but they are giving answers. I don’t think we have conversed about anything I haven’t read ten authors discuss before.

I said "Anonymous, I have seen your responses towards cl and I ask you not to post another in that manner."

Anon said “ Then you also know that I'm done talking to him. He's a liar, as I've shown numerous times on Ebon's blog. He complains uproariously about how people misrepresent him, while subtly changing his arguments left and right. Then, he'll turn around and outright lie and misrepresent in an effort to tar people, like me. He's a cancer to a blog, and you're better off with a bunch of commenting atheists than a snake like cl.

For once we agree. I'm just giving you a word of advice. He'll look nice and polite. He'll make nice sounding arguments. He'll also lie, bluff, and dodge his way through all arguments. There's a reason that even Ebon doesn't tolerate him. It's all well-documented, you can look it up on his page.”

Thanks for the info, but I just met him so I can’t accept negative commentary about anyone from a secondary source. I’m not saying you are incorrect, I don’t know. But I like to think the best about everyone and treat them all equally respectful. I’m sorry if cl has offended you in any way as I invited him over to this blog so if that bothers you I apologize. You don’t have to talk with him. That’s fine with me. I haven’t turned anyone a way.

I don’t even want to moderate comments as I said I might have to do, not just because of the hassle of having to do so but because I want to trust everyone to use their freedom wisely and control their own conduct.

Anonymous said...

"This seems to negate your assertion of being open minded if you still equate the two."

No, it doesn't. I don't have to take your fairy tale more seriously than someone else's in order to have an open mind. You have to show my why your fairy tale is more compelling and worthy of being taken more seriously.

"Define it for me in your understanding of it."

How about a verifiable fact or argument that does not hinge on accepting a logical fallacy.

"Exactly. Just making sure you understand we both see it that way."

And, I've already told you in the past that I understand that you believe what you believe. You are the one that doesn't seem to understand that.

"I’m still waiting too for you to do the same."

The burden of proof lies on you, not on me, for one. For two, I have given you evidence of the evolutionary history of our species and how it ties into things like morality, etc. You've given me things like, "Well, we have morals, so god must exist."

"You haven’t seemed to receptive to any evidence responding continually that there is None and any answer I have written isn’t an answer. That doesn’t show receptivity to anything that I have to say."

Ah, the old, "Unless and until you accept what I say and agree with me, you're not being open-minded," approach. Sorry, but you have not presented any evidence. All of your "evidence" either doesn't show what you claim it shows or is predicated on begging the question. And, your "answers" are generally not answers, since you have only one shtick. Once I question what you've originally said, it's not an "answer" to simply repeat yourself. I'm sorry that you don't understand that, but it doesn't mean that I'm not open to evidence and actual answers. It means that you're not supplying them. It's a common problem for apologists. Apologists don't aim their arguments are non-believers for the most part, they aim them at believers, and this is why. It's because they don't have good evidence unless you've already begged the question and decided that what the person says is/will be good evidence.

"Many very intelligent people are Christians or theist..."

And Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, so very smart people can be very wrong about things.

"No. When I say I know, I am saying I relationally know. I have encountered God. I say I know God exist in the same way I say I know my husband exist."

How do you know that you don't live in the Matrix? Until you can conclusively rule that out (among other things) you can't claim absolute knowledge of god or that your husband exists.

"Faith is based on reason and rationality. It’s all very reasonable."

No, it's not. Sorry, but if you have reason and rationality, you don't need faith. Faith is belief in something when you don't have evidence or reason.

"Neither do I."

Yes, you do. You have to subvert evolution, geology, anthropology, paleontology, physics, and lots of other fields of study to prop up your beliefs.

"I know it’s true because I have experienced it."

And, how can you know your experiences are true? People experienced the sun traveling around the Earth and still do, but that's not what is happening. Other people have experiences where they are sure that things are happening to them only to find out that it is simply a mental illness. Other people are sure that event X happened, only they are not remembering what happened clearly and have had their brains fill it in. Other people swear that Y happened only it didn't and they were tricked by their brains.

"Because it doesn’t rest solely on an intellectual assertion of belief but a real relationship with God."

From what I can tell, there is no intellectual portion to it at all. That's the part that matters!

"If I said I believed I had a relationship with my husband, but didn’t know that I did, wouldn’t that be odd?"

Not in a conversation like this. To "know" something in the colloquial sense would be appropriate, but that's not what you've been arguing here. You are arguing that you "know" in an absolute sense.

"Wouldn’t it be logical that I would know if I had a relationship with God and not just believe He exists?"

In a word, no. It's not logical.

"If I just believed He existed and had faith that the Bible was true but hadn’t experienced any of it as true then what good would that be? What would it matter?"

It would be honest, for one. But, I don't understand why you have to have absolute certainty in order to argue for something. This makes no sense.

"Why would you want me to be dishonest and say I only believe something on unsubstantiated faith with no evidence when in reality I have seen much evidence and have encountered God?"

But, that wouldn't be dishonest. You don't have absolute knowledge of god, you simply have belief. Your beliefs are formed on unsubstantiated faith that arises from first begging the question and also cultural and childhood indoctrination. And, you have no evidence - you have what you think is evidence based on your faulty reasoning and logically fallacious methods.

"Maybe their answers haven’t satisfied you, but they are giving answers."

An answer is something that provides a solution to a problem or question. I know the difference between simply not accepting an answer and not being given one. You would do well to familiarize yourself with the difference as well.

"Thanks for the info, but I just met him so I can’t accept negative commentary about anyone from a secondary source."

I understand. I was just giving some warning.

Karla said...

"It's a common problem for apologists. Apologists don't aim their arguments are non-believers for the most part, they aim them at believers, and this is why."


This is true of many. This is one of the reasons why I want so much to know first hand what you guys think.


"It's because they don't have good evidence unless you've already begged the question and decided that what the person says is/will be good evidence."


It isn't because of lack of evidence. It's more that we look at the same things and see the differently and haven't learned how to bridge that communication gap. It isn't easy to learn how to see something from another's glasses and then try and explain how you see it to them in a way that communicates accurately. We both keep pushing at it and trying to find a way. I'm optimistic still even though some days I feel exasperated. But I just try and learn more and listen more and try and give an answer again. I've never been one to give up.

Also the topic is vastly important.

Anonymous said...

"It isn't because of lack of evidence."

Actually, yeah it is. You simply can't get there from here without using logical fallacies.

"It's more that we look at the same things and see the differently and haven't learned how to bridge that communication gap."

The only gap here is one way. I understand what you are trying to say, better than you do sometimes. But, it's not about "how you look at things differently." It doesn't matter how I look at the world when it comes to matters of evidence. Objects fall at 9.8 m/s^2 regardless of whether I believe in god or not.

"It isn't easy to learn how to see something from another's glasses and then try and explain how you see it to them in a way that communicates accurately."

Oh how you forget...I've been in your shoes. I used to be a Xian. It's not as hard as you think if you are actually open to thinking differently. You are not, hence it is supremely difficult for you.

"I'm optimistic still even though some days I feel exasperated."

Not to do the whole misery loves company thing, but in a way it's nice to know that you get exasperated too.