Friday, November 19, 2010

The Questions Christians Hope No One will Ask

I recently became aware of a new book: The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. It intrigued me, primarily because of the price: Free. (Until November 20.) I could not resist the temptation. (Heck, I’m a heathen, I didn’t even try!)

The author referred to a survey where 10,000 Christians were asked, “What Questions do you find difficult to answer?” and compiled a list of the top ten; the author kindly provides Christian responses. After having read the first three chapters, I already regret the price I paid for the book. Ah well…what’s done is done.

It did get me to thinking—what questions do I see that Christians hope no one will ask? I pose questions in many conversations, and often see the questions avoided until I have asked and re-asked and re-re-re-re-asked, each time pointing out how I have asked it previously and despite the other person answering everything else I asked, they keep avoiding this one question. Or refuse to take it head-on. Or give some qualifying rationalization that even a 9-year-old could see through.

Given my experiences, here is a list of Questions I see Christians hoping I won’t ask:

1. What is your method to _______?

There are a variety of examples, such as:

“Given a string of words, what method do we use to determine those words are theopneustos?” (God-breathed.)

“How do we determine whether the solution is either: 1) something science hasn’t discovered yet, but will or 2) something science hasn’t discovered yet and never will or 3) something science cannot discover because it is supernatural?”

“How do we determine whether this plane is exactly like the supernatural, similar to the supernatural, or not at all like the supernatural when we cannot observe the supernatural?”

“How do we tell what is myth and what is historical in the story?”

2. What is your source?

3. If you believe your God has phenomenal cosmic power, and is able to sustain the universe, why do you have savings accounts, pension plans, insurance, college funds, stock portfolios and locks? Just in case?

4. Why is it whenever I try your suggestion to “find God” (i.e., go to nature, read the Bible, pray), God never shows up? Worse, why am I arrogant to expect him to, when I followed your instructions where you told me to expect him to?

5. What century did the Exodus occur?

6. If God lied, how would you know?

7. If you use Paley’s watch (indicating we compare designed items to non-designed items) to argue for an intelligent designer in the universe—what non-designed item in the universe are you using to compare?

8. When arguing for the statistical improbability of a natural claim (i.e. natural abiogenesis, or evolution), what statistical probability are you using for a God performing the act, so we can compare which is more likely?

9. If your God determined the only way to resolve the cultural clash in the Tanakh was to engage in genocide, how is it he conveniently found virgin females could be rehabilitated, but not one-day-old males?

10. What law, moral code or justice system was God following when He absolved David of his sin? More importantly, what moral code or justice system was God following when He killed a baby as punishment for a sin He absolved? 2 Sam. 12:13-18

11. If God has mercy, doesn’t this render his justice arbitrary?

Like I said, I’m only three chapters in…maybe one of my questions will get asked yet…

What questions do you see Christians avoiding?


  1. Your fourth question is a powerful one for me. Why doesn't God EVER show up in the real world?

    Other questions...

    Why doesn't God heal amputees? Or, why does he only heal ailments that are susceptible to psychosomatic influence?

    How do we judge between the god-experiences of one faith and the god-experiences of another from outside of both?

    I think the Euthyphro Dilemma is another great one.

    Just dashing off a few, I'll try and return with more later as I ponder this throughout the day.

  2. The question I keep posing to Christians that appears to make them uncomfortable, resulting for the most part in brief, superficial responses is this: Despite the fact you believe the Bible is not inerrant and clearly bears the mark of human effort, why do you choose to be a Christian? Where is evidence of the divine in scripture?

    I've asked various forms of this repeatedly this year, and I never get a good answer. The responses are typically brief and those aswering seem to be in a hurry to move on. It always seems to come down to desire. They want to believe. There is no doubt that it comes down to faith rather than weighty evidence. They find Christianity both desirable and useful for living their life, and making sense of their experiences. I think as humans we make decisions based on our personal experience to a greater extent than we care to admit. If facts contradict our personal experience, we tend to favor our personal experience. For example, my father-in-law grew up on a farm, and everyone on the farm rides their 4 wheelers around both for pragmatic reasons and just for fun. No one in the family has died from a 4 wheeler accident and my father-in-law has never personally been hurt. (For the moment we'll leave aside the fact that several adult family members have been injured as a result of 4 wheelers). I have read the literature on 4 wheelers and know they don't have a stellar safety record. Particularly as it pertains to children riding them. It's against AMA guidelines to let kids under 16 ride them. However, my father-in-law became irate when we wouldn't let our son, who was 2 at the time, ride on grandpa's lap in the 4 wheeler. He grumbled that our son would never learn to be a man. His life long experience with 4 wheelers overrode any facts about their safety. No research article was going to persuade him differently.

    I think there is generally good reason to value personal experience to the extent we do. I think it's a survival skill. My question to myself is how to use it appropriately in answering questions about my religious beliefs.

  3. Why is there evil? Why is the world so awful? Why is there so much disease and pain and torture to name one?

  4. I would ask Christians if they have ever heard or read a deconversion story from a born again believer.

  5. DoOrDoNot,

    I have a friend who once asked something like, “If it is a myth, why do we try to convince other people to believe it?” Her question was phrased much better.


    As I was reading iidb (many years ago) I chanced upon a conversation going something like this:

    Christian: If you were God, I’d like to see you do better making a world.
    Non-theist: That is easy. All I have to do is make our exact same world with one less wife beating. One less child dying of starvation today. One less stubbed toe, or broken bone or car accident. That would be a better world.

    When I look at it like that, I can’t help wonder, “If there was a god, is it really necessary my daughter get that one broken bone? My neighbor die from a preventable disease? My friend get a job before they lose their house?” And, of course, if one, why not two? Or three? Or four and more?

    If this was the best possible world a God could put together, that means every splinter, sprain, cancer and miscarriage was the best this God could do with what it had. And frankly, it is not very impressive.


    There are a few Christians who believe we deconverts were really saved. My own family and friends are afraid to address the issue. (The thought of me and my nephew and niece who have since deconverted going to hell is unbearable.)

  6. Her said this:

    "What are we doing preaching Christ if it’s all a myth or mostly a myth? What are we doing? We lead people to Christ the myth?"

    and this:

    "…how much integrity do we have in this kind of Christianity? If Christianity is more myth then reality, what the blazes are we doing acting like it’s real?"

    Taken from here:

  7. "If you believe your God has phenomenal cosmic power, and is able to sustain the universe, why do you have savings accounts, pension plans, insurance, college funds, stock portfolios and locks? Just in case?"

    The question logically seems to stand by itself, without needing the "If _____ then..." introduction. I have (one) savings account in order to have a place to keep moderate amounts of money where it will not get stolen and where it will at least not nominally lose value. I have pension plans because I have been employed at places where pension plans were included in the contract that the employer had with its employees. I have insurance because, in one case, it is legally and practically required in this society because of the laws allowing liability insurance to exist, in another case, because it is required by the terms of my mortgage contract, and in a couple of other cases, to limit my risk of incurring catastrophic expenses. I have a stock portfolio because I think the investment has a good chance of growing faster in value than it would in a savings account. It is also a component of an investment diversification plan to limit risk. I have locks in order to secure things so that they are less likely to be stolen.

    "Why is it whenever I try your suggestion to..."

    I have never made that suggestion to you. Obviously you have a particular Christian in mind rather than your just throwing that question out to any Christian who will answer.

    "What century did the Exodus occur?"

    Finally a difficult question that is coherent and well defined! I don't know the answer but I'll guess that it occurred during the 13th century BC.

    "If God lied, how would you know?"

    The question seems to be too anthropomorphic to be meaningful. Perhaps you could further specify the question so that it is applicable to God (I assume you mean the God of classical theism since you are talking about Christians hoping you wouldn't ask these questions).

    "If you use Paley’s watch (indicating we compare designed items to non-designed items) to argue for an intelligent designer in the universe—what non-designed item in the universe are you using to compare?"

    I think you intend this question to be for a Christian who attempts to use Paley's "watch" analogy in an argument for the existence of God. If so, the question is not for me to answer. I would say, a propos of nothing in particular, that I find the watchmaker analogy or device and a version of your very question to be an interesting thing to think about. If you find a watch on a beach, how do you know it was made by an intelligent designer? Saying "it's obvious" does not seem like a sufficient answer, yet it is obvious.

    "When arguing for the statistical improbability of a natural claim (i.e. natural abiogenesis, or evolution), what statistical probability are you using for a God performing the act, so we can compare which is more likely?"

    I cannot make heads nor tails of your question, but I was hoping you'd ask it. :-) Seriously this appears to be another example of things getting deleted in your "cut and paste."

  8. "If your God determined the only way to resolve the cultural clash in the Tanakh was to engage in genocide, how is it he conveniently found virgin females could be rehabilitated, but not one-day-old males?"

    "Determination" is a term I use in contrast to "creation" in regards to acts of the human will. I'm not sure how you are defining the concept. The question again needs more explanation to be answerable.

    "What law, moral code or justice system was God following when He absolved David of his sin?"

    Absolution, in the usual use of the term in Christian theology, is an act of mercy not of justice. Mercy is contrasted and not identified with justice. Usually. Maybe you could ask your question differently to make it clear what you'd like to know.

    "More importantly, what moral code or justice system was God following when He killed a baby as punishment for a sin He absolved?"

    I suppose that would be "a life for a life." Of course it's not that simple, God would have "killed" the baby eventually anyway (that is, the child would eventually have died, we all die). I think it is the timing of the death that made it a punishment for David--if someone said to him "your child will die--maybe not for seventy or eighty years, but he will die" David would not think he was being punished. Rather than talking about some specific moral "code" I think it would make more sense to discuss the general moral "principle" that wickedness deserves punishment.

    "If God has mercy, doesn’t this render his justice arbitrary?"

    No. What an odd question! Anyway, comparing the two things, mercy seems necessarily arbitrary whereas justice seems necessarily, well, necessary (not arbitrary), but I think your question is poorly defined.

  9. I'm a Christian, I'll take a stab at it. "Given a string of words, what method do we use to determine those words are theopneustos?"

    Clearly a "string of words" cannot be theopneustos per se. Consider a string of two words: "he went." The string of words can be used for all sorts of purposes. It would be absurd to suggest that the two words, per se, are theopneustos. They may be words found within a literary work that is theopneustos, but that is another question.

    “How do we determine whether the solution is either: 1) something science hasn’t discovered yet, but will or 2) something science hasn’t discovered yet and never will or 3) something science cannot discover because it is supernatural?”

    This seems to be a fragment of a paragraph. What do you mean by "the solution?" I would guess that your mention of "supernatural" means that perhaps your question is unanswerable and meaningless. "Supernatural" means "beyond the natural essence" of whatever thing you are talking about, in which case questions about "solutions" are usually incoherent.

    “How do we determine whether this plane is exactly like the supernatural, similar to the supernatural, or not at all like the supernatural when we cannot observe the supernatural?”

    I know this isn't what you are asking, but I'll start by answering a different question. In those cases where you can observe the supernatural, the question can be answered straightforwardly. A supernatural plane would be a plane that has properties beyond that which planes naturally have. So for example, if in addition to flying passengers and cargo from place to place when skillfully piloted the plane were also able to teach classes in the Bhuddism, it would be a supernatural plane. As for the question you asked, however, I think the best answer would be that if you cannot observe that the plane is supernatural, you would not be able to determine that the plane is supernatural. In that case, however, it probably would not occur to you to think it might be supernatural.

  10. “How do we tell what is myth and what is historical in the story?”

    This again appears to be the fragment of your question. I wonder if you wrote this article in a word processor then cut and pasted into the website and missed some things?

    I don't know which story you are referring to. I think you should go back and look that up; but I also think you need to define your terms. What do you mean by "myth" and what do you mean when you ask about "parts" (?) of a literary work being "myth" and parts being "historical?" I suspect that clearly phrasing the question and clearly defining your terms will make the question easy to answer.

    "What is your source."

    The question is quite vague, and therefore quite impossible to answer. "Source" in what sense? If you are deliberately making the question open-ended to invite personal interpretation I will say that my source is my mother.

  11. That was fun, thank you. Comments 3 and 4 are meant to be read before comments 1 and 2, it that's not obvious.

  12. Steelikat,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I didn’t flesh them out, because I presumed most of my readership is familiar enough with the apologetic debate to understand the typical background. Heck, most have probably seen me ask these questions in some format! A few quick responses:

    “Method of theopneustos” – Thanks for acknowledging there is no method for making such a determination.

    “Method of problem resolving” – I was referring to (for example) the use of natural abiogenesis as an argument for God, since no solution has been presented yet. But even if one does (just like all the solutions in the past to apparent irresolvable issues), the Christian will merely find another problem and claim that since we don’t have a solution now, there must be a God.

    “Method of verification” - Dr. Craig first intones because we see causal relations in this universe, such causal relations must equally exist extra-universe. Using the method: “If we have it, God must have it.” He then immediately says because we have something (“time” and “material”) God must not! A complete reversal of method within a matter of minutes.

    “Locks instead of God” – Again, thank you for admitting your lack of belief in a God that sustains.

    “If God lied, how would you know?” – If we cannot use human terms to describe a God, I am uncertain how any description could ever be utilized. If the word “lies” means something completely different—like “putting on socks”—when referring to a God, then we are all wasting time.

    ”Statistical improbability” – in discussing creationism, I often run across arguments from statistics. The Christian says something like, “We have 1 in a 10 to the 150th chance of such-and-such naturally occurring.” What they don’t say, is how to compare this such-and-such as supernaturally occurring. They presume by making such a large number, we automatically infer supernatural must exist. If we could determine the supernatural odds, and found out there was a 1 in the 10 to the 151th chance of it naturally occurring, the natural solution is more feasible. Without the ability to determine (and compare) statistical odds between natural and supernatural, giving us really, really large improbabilities does not further the discussion.

    “Midianite genocide of Numbers 31.” It is an amazing coincidence God finds virgin females (the same thing humans valued) as capable of rehabilitation, but one day old males were not.

    “Mercy vs. Justice.” Mercy is the deliberate withholding of Justice. Justice is following a legal precept. I have yet to see a Christian put together a legal precept that requires God to kill a baby for its father’s sin. Worse, if God could exert mercy (abstain from justice) then He is just picking and choosing who goes to heaven, who is punished, who is rewarded, etc. “Justice” becomes meaningless when referring to God.

    “Myth vs Historical.” Any story in the Bible. Pick one—Garden of Eden, Global Flood, Exodus, Jesus. What parts of the story are myth (didn’t happen); what parts are historical (did happen)?

    “Source” – I have numerous conversations with Christians who make claims. Like “Peter was crucified upside down because he didn’t want to be crucified like Jesus.” I’ll ask, “What’s your source?” and the Christian has no clue.

  13. "Thank you for acknowledging that there is no method for making such a determination"

    You're welcome. I'm sorry that I had to tell you that there was no such method, that you didnt already understand that. I'm curious that you call it an "acknowledgment" on my part. That suggests to me that you are still missing the point, that you still believe that Christianity in general thinks it has this cartoonish "method of determining strings of words are theopneustos" that if you didn't simply invent you must have gotten from some obscure cult or offshoot of Christianity.

    "...the use of natural abiogenesis as an argument for God."

    That doesn't sound familiar to me. I don't think that's one of the classical arguments for the existence of God. Can you elaborate? Is it supposed to be a teleological argument? I don't know what you mean by "if a solution presents itself." Do you mean "if the argument is refuted?" Do you mean if the argument is conclusively refuted The Christian will stop appealing to the argument? Well if that the argument is refuted and Christians find out about it hopefully some of them will stop appealing to the argument. Probably not all of them, though. Some atheists still appeal to atheological arguments that have been conclusively refuted.

    I've only read a little of William Craig so you'll have to elaborate or give me a reading assignment before I can respond to your question. It may be a waste of time, though. Craig as a natural theologian is not in the historic mainstream of Christianity, and many theologians and philosophers have noted that his "God" does not seem to be the God of Christianity Judaism and Islam.

    "Thank you for admitting your lack of belief in a God that sustains?

    I'm not sure I understand why you would say such a thing. Is this a game? I'm not sure I understand the rules but I'll try to play along:

    Thank you for admitting your lack of belief in the immorality of child molestation.

    Did I do that correctly according to the rules of your game or am I escalating too quickly? Now that I've tried it I don't think I like this game. As you know I didn't admit my disbelief in a God that sustains so I don't know why you thought it would be fun to say that unless you enjoy trying to make me think you are an a****le.

  14. "If we cannot use human terms to describe a God."

    The indefinite article does have a semantic force in your phrase. If you are merely describing "a God" you aren't really talking about God in the sense that classical Theism and traditional mainstream Christianity means by the word. The Judeo-Christian God does not logically admit of plurality even in hypothesis, Mainstream Christians don't mean by "God'" "one example of a class of hypothetical superior beings," even if you add the caveat "though the only one that really exists."

    But if you actually do know what you're talking about and the indefinite article was merely a typo or you were using it differently than I think you were, and you were asking how we can understand the attributes of God, I would suggest analogical predication as a tried-and-true methodology. I won't suggest divine revelation as my understanding is that you are an atheist or at least not a Christian or a believer in any scriptures. I was specifically trying to get at what YOU meant by "God lying." I was thinking of asking you a leading question to draw out a meaning from you but I figured you must have something in mind or you wouldn't have asked the question.

    I'll try to come up with something myself. God is the Creator, his acts from our point of view comprise creation. A "lie" then would be a creature whose very being was somehow false. I would have to say there would be no way for us to distinguish between creatures who have a "lying" existence and those which have a "truthful" existence, and it seems very difficult to understand what one would mean by those terms. Does that help? It doesn't seem to helpful to me but unless you are willing to explain what YOU mean by "God lying" I don't understand why you think that anyone can answer your question.

    "In discussing creationism..."

    I don't discuss creationism or find it a topic worth discussing. "Creationism" purports to be a science so it makes no sense for you to throw questions about it out there for Christians, qua Christians, to answer.

    Were your questions really addressed to "Christians" or to Christianity per se or were they addressed to some historically non-mainstream backwater cult that you or someone close to you as belonged to and that you feel an emotional resentment toward? If it's the latter I think I speak for the mainstream of Christianity when I say "leave us out of it."

  15. As for the "supernatural odds" thing you don't seem to be talking to me or to Christians per se, but I will mention that you seem to be using the term "supernatural" in a nonstandard way. A supernatural attribute is one that is different than, and in some way above or beyond the natural attributes of the being in question. I have no idea how creationists use the term in a technical sense.

    "Midianite genocide of numbers 31"

    I'm sorry. remind me what I said about that. I've lost our train of argument.

    "a legal precept that requires God to kill a baby for it's fathers sin."

    As God is the ultimate being, and simple, the language of things being required of him, as if justice were a thing apart from and prior to him that he were beholden to does not work. It is better to say God IS Justice himself--from there have been a few different explanations taken by Christian theologians. Babies die because it is in our human nature to be subject to death. We don't literally die specifically as a punishment for our fathers' sins. One thing to keep in mind in understanding the Pentateuch is that it was addressed to a Theistic tribe in a pagan and a polytheistic world, a tribe that habitually reverted to paganism. It's emphasis therefore is on the sovereignty and power of the One God. Everything that is is something God creates. The language of the Torah so emphasizes that that it sometimes makes it sound like God is the only actor, that there are no created actors. A baby died, well God created that babiy's death, so God "killed" that baby. That isn't even false that's a question of emphasis.

  16. As for the more general question, you seem to be arguing that justice is strict and mercy is arbitrary. I would agree with that I wouldn't therefore say that I want God to be always just and never merciful with me, any more than a child would say he wants his dad to be always just and never merciful. Of course I think the two of us would agree that a good loving father is sometimes merciful rather than just with his children.

    "Source - I have numerous conversations with..."

    I haven't heard those conversations so I cannot answer the question.

    I will say that I'm glad you asked me those questions and those are precisely the questions I'd hoped youd ask. :-)

    I hope I've given you pause for thought. The real world is profoundly interesting, and has a rich history.

  17. Almost forgot. "Myth vs. History."

    You've defined your terms. You use the word "myth" to mean SIMPLY "the parts of a story that happened" and "history" to mean "the parts that didn't"

    Simply, they all happened, if you are talking about the bible stories.

    Less simply, I wouldn't give them a literalistic interpretation or interpret the bible as if it were a historical treatise. I might even allow that Genesis is in the literary genre of "myth." Now of course I'm using the terms "myth" and "historical" differently than you were, though--according to your definition they all happened, so they are all "historical."

  18. I think the difficult questions are the ones concerning the problem of evil, how can we reconcile Gods goodness with all the evil in the world. It seems to me disbelief in God does not solve the problem, though. Of course the problem is different, it cannot be described the same way, but as long as you remain human and haven't lost or killed your own soul The Problem of evil remains. If you'd hoped atheism would make The Problem of evil vanish in a puff of smoke you will be disappointed.

  19. Steelikat,

    I am a bit surprised. I would think a person who differentiates “Classical Theism” and “historic mainstream of Christianity” from other forms of Christianity would be familiar with those other forms. Even if they are “non-mainstream backwater cult” and “obscure cult or offshoot of Christianity.”

    Of course, in my journey I have often encountered people who claim to never hear what Christianity I am talking about, or that it is the wrong sort, or it isn’t “True” Christianity. *shrug* It sure would help if even those utilizing the title “Christian” would agree as what the term entails. If even you’all can’t agree, and fight amongst yourselves as to which doctrine qualifies, and what belief is necessary—what chance does a poor atheist such as myself have?

    What makes it more surprising, is that my entire family subscribes to such Christianity. And they managed to find spouses who do as well. And find dozens of churches in every city they have ever lived in, who do as well. And find friends who do. And our friends find other churches in other locals that do. I could find more than 1,000 churches within a 100 mile radius that hold some writings are theopneustos and to some form of creationism (YEC, OEC, and/or Intelligent Design).

    On the internet I engage with equally large numbers of such Christians on forums, and blogs and private conversations on these topics.

    Yet you give me your opinion this is just an “obscure cult.” Hmmm…I must be unlucky.

    I am also surprised you have never seen abiogenesis utilized as a proof for god. I googlewhacked “abiogenesis proves there is a god” and sites popped up immediately. And, ironically, the Christian book I referred to in this very blog entry, uses abiogenesis to prove there is a god! Again…I must be unlucky.

    I did not mean for you to get upset about believing in God sustaining you. I look at actions being more demonstrative of beliefs than words. You can say you believe God will take care of you, but by trusting in bank accounts, stock portfolios, insurance and locks you demonstrate what you really trust. And it isn’t God.

    Finally, a suggestion you are free to ignore. If you are going to call someone an “asshole”—go for the gusto and use the word. Don’t hide behind asterisks; it comes across as tentative and self-righteous. Does one really think it makes a difference to use asterisks—as if one can claim they were not technically saying a naughty word because it was written, “a****le”?

    Further, “asshole’ is so…yesterday (as my kids would say.) If we are going to use pejoratives, let’s at least make them entertaining! Come up with some term giving us a chuckle—like “asshat” or “fucktard” or (my current favorite) “douchecanoe.”

    I hope you see how bland “a****le” becomes when we have the English language at our disposal.

  20. 1. What is your method to _______?

    I personally follow the NEW 4 Step Perfect Proof for God of the Bible

    The New 4 Step Proof for God of the Bible

    Infinite Regress is Impossible

    1. We observe trillions and trillions of cause and effects in nature, and no hard evidence something comes from nothing, which is an overwhelming preponderance of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. If there was an infinite regress you would have happened already having had an eternity do so. And you would never have existed because the past would continue to go on for eternity never reaching this point. As you can see, infinite regress in all its varieties (e.g. cycles, mutiverses) is inherently contradictory and therefore, false.

    Something Can't Come From Nothing

    2. Something can't come from nothing (non-existence) either, because that which does not exist can't cause anything. Nothing always leaves nothing from nothing. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It can only change forms. In any process in an isolated system, the total energy remains the same. Since that which does not exist has no energy, it cannot produce a singularity for the universe. Many times I have heard atheists say, "The properties of the universe are different from the whole, so the composition doesn't abide in cause and effect when it was brought into being." Of course, this is doublespeak because for something to be "brought into being" requires a cause.

    A Mind is Needed to Create a Mind

    3. Since nature can't always have existed nor start up from nothing, there must exist that which is outside of nature, that is, outside of time and space which always existed. This is whom we call the uncreated Creator. If you want to compare an always existing timeless singularity to the uncreated Creator, simply observe what we know that that which doesn't have a mind, will, emotion, conscience, intuition, or self-consciousness can't produce that which does. The lesser can never produce the greater. There has not even been enough interatomic interactions in the history of the universe to be able to do so. If you claim time is needed to bring about this universe from a singularity but the singularity has no time then this universe would never have existed if a causeless singularity existed.

    The Resurrection Proves Jesus is God

    4. Now that we know the uncreated Creator exists, we can compare. A God who is accessible and personal is better than one that is not. Only in Christianity do we find God enters His creation and dies for the sins of the world and proves He is our Creator by resurrecting Himself from the dead which can only occur supernaturally. Since almost all skeptical scholars concede for good reasons the disciples truly believed they saw Jesus alive from the dead in various group settings and there are no naturalistic explanations that can account for the origin of the disciples beliefs (having exhausted them all), we should submit ourselves to this evidence, because if a person doesn't, they will surely go to Hell according to Jesus our Creator.

    It's the same as the OLD 4 Step Perfect Proof for God of the Bible, just rehashed in another way.

    Nothing is new under the sun.

  21. DagoodS

    "... be familiar with those other forms."

    I've heard of them, of course. I would be ignorant of western culture and history, I would be an uneducated person, if I confused obscure offshoots with the historic mainstream, though.

    "what makes it more surprising..."

    I cannot think of any good reason all that surprises you.

    "I look at actions as being more demonstrative of beliefs than words."

    The only "action" I can think of that would demonstrate that I believe that God does not sustain is the "action" of ceasing to exist. By continuing to exist I demonstrate that God sustains my existence and that I at least ought to believe it.

    Now that I've told you twice that I do in fact believe God sustains, will you admit that you lied when you said that I believed otherwise? If so I'll prove that I'm slightly less of an a*****le than you are by only requiring you to deny the child molestation thing once before I admit I lied.

  22. steelikat,

    I present the incongruity of stating one holds bank accounts, insurance policies and pension plans on the one hand, and yet on the other hand, claim one believes in the Christian God who will sustain. The Christian God of Matt. 5:39- 47, Matt 6:25-34, Matt. 19:16-24, Mark 12:41-43, and Luke 6:27-36.

    It seems to me there are two ways for the Christian to deal with this inconsistency:

    1) Not have bank accounts, insurance policies, stock portfolios and locks; or
    2) Rationalize away (in some manner) all these passages where Jesus repeatedly emphasizes disinterest in material wealth.

    Of course, option one causes the Christian to have an actual cost for their belief—a cost higher than they want to endure. I don’t see that option taken…well…ever. Instead what I see is option two taken all the time—the rationalization of how these words of Jesus do not apply to the Christian today. This allows the Christian to keep their Cadillac’s, Merrill Lynch account, and Masterlocks, while bemoaning the horrid oppression pressed upon them by the government limiting the tax benefit received from charitable giving.

    A God who “sustains” being demonstrated by existence is not much of a God; more of a deistic creature. I was talking about something more tangible—seeing a Christian actually live by Jesus’ words and daring to not worry about tomorrow, daring to allow their items to be stolen because it is only material possessions, giving up a bank account to feed the poor.

    I present the argument based upon what you said; I’ll let the readers decide whether your bank accounts, locks and insurance speak more loudly about what you believe as compared to what you write.

    In the same way, you are welcome to argue I don’t believe child molestation is immoral. Again, we can leave it to the readers to decide whether your argument is persuasive or not.

  23. "I present the incongruity of stating one holds bank accounts, insurance policies and pension plans on the one hand, and yet on the other hand, claim one believes in the Christian God who will sustain."

    Calling it an "incongruity" or an "inconsistency" is a gross non-sequitur. The conclusion not only does not follow from but seems to be totally unrelated to the conclusion.

    I have assured you that I believe that God sustains the universe. You have responded by bringing up unrelated alleged actions of mine that have nothing to do with the belief that God sustains the universe, and bizarrely asserting, as a denizen of Alice's Wonderland might do, that these actions are somehow inconsistent with my belief.

    I am filled with wonder. You are amazing. Are you acquainted with the Mad Hatter or the March Hare by any chance?

    Just in case you are not simply engaging in childish absurdism to make fun of me, just in case you honestly think there is a rational argument behind all that seeming nonsense, I'll give you a couple of suggestion that might help you to convince me that you are not simply nuts or a childish teenager: I can think of two beliefs contrary to the belief that God sustains the universe. 1. Deism: Although existence ab initio requires God, once the universe exists its existence in subsequent moments in time is explained by its previous existence--some kind of existential ineria, therefore eliminating the necessity of God to sustain the universe. 2. Atheism: There is no creator, so there is no sustainer. The cosmos somehow explains its own existence. So discovering actions that I've engaged in that make me a hypocrite must involve finding actions that show that I am either a deist who believes in a necessary existential inertia or an atheist.

    Here's another way to look at it: In possible world A, spendthrift and non-insurance purchaser H. Higgins reasons, correctly, that as the world exists and continues to exist, there must be a Creator and Sustainer responsible for both its initial existence and its sustained existence in time. In possible world B, investor and prudent insurance-purchaser H. Higgins reasons, correctly, that as the world exists and continutes to exist, there must be a Creator and Sustainer responsible for both its initial existence and its sutained existence in time. Assuming that the two possible H. Higginses are as similar as they can be consistent with their stated differences, in both possible worlds the reasons for H. Higgins's belief are exactly the same and just as rational. The difference between them, the one being prudent with money and the other being imprudent, do not have any effect or relevance in regards to their belief in the divine Sustainer or the reason for that belief.

    I won't tell you whether I am more like the prudent H. Higgins or the imprudent H. Higgins, but I can assure you that my reasoned belief in the divine Sustainer, like theirs, is based entirely on my perception that creation continues to exist and said belief does not stem in any way from my prudent or imprudent use of money, per se (of course money and I are creatures and therefore their existence is part of the world that requires a Creator to explain their existence).

    Here's my argument: You eat vegetables. This action is inconsistent with the belief that child molestation is immoral. Therefore you are a hypocrite who only pretends not to believe child molestation is immoral. Actions, after all, speak louder than words. My argument is analogous to yours, and just as convincing. Like yours, it involves the grossest of non-sequiturs.

    I'll keep score for this game. This is the THIRD time I've informed you that I am totally sincere in my belief in God's sustenance. If you will now acknowledge that you lied when you accused me of not believing in the Sustainer of creation, I will admit my lie after only TWO corrections from you.

  24. Consider three possible worlds:

    1. The cosmos is created at a moment in time and continues to be sustained in existence. Some of the created persons in this cosmos have money and strongly tend to be imprudent in its use.

    2. The cosmos is created at a moment in time and continues to be sustained in existence. Some of the created persons in this cosmos have money and strongly tend to be prudent in its use.

    3. The cosmos is created at a moment in time and is not sustained. None of the created persons in this cosmos have any time to be prudent or imprudent.

    Of course I've described these possible worlds in terms that presuppose the existence of God, but you can easily alter their descriptions in an atheistic way, and just assert that God is impossible and their existence does not require an explanation.

    I am obviously a denizen of 1 or 2, or some happy medium between them. Assuming I believe in God in the first place, only in cosmos 3, if even in that cosmos, could I be reasonably be accused of not acting (i.e. not continuing to exist) as though I believed that sustained the universe after initially creating it.

  25. steelikat,

    My questions are addressed to Christians--not theists in general. As a Christian, there are certain doctrines and characteristics differentiating Christianity from other theistic beliefs. Notice I indicated the incongruity is with Christian God—not any God. I pointed out numerous Bible passages addressing the specific doctrines and characteristics within Christian theism. Specifically, the disinterest in material possessions or worrying about future financial stability or worrying about items being stolen.

    Since you didn’t respond to the applicability of those verses, there isn’t anything more to say.

    Thanks for presenting the argument about my moral position on child molestation. *shrug* I somehow doubt it will be persuasive.

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  27. "I somehow doubt it will be persuasive."

    No, but even if you didn't get it I am sure it will effectively illustrate my point, to anyone besides you who might read these comments.

    Anyway, I AM a Christian, not a "theist in general." However, traditional Christianity is capital "T" Theist so everything I've said, regardless of whether it is merely Theistic or specifically Christian, applies to you and your bizarre non-sequitur.

    Furthermore, mainstream Christianity is not polytheism or henotheism or a kind of "monotheism" that means by "God" one of a set of multiple hypothetical Gods. As Christianity is Theistic all you can say of the Christian God is that He necessarily is and is the very ONE God of any Theistic religion or if you are an atheist that His existence is impossible. The very definition of what Christians and other Theists mean by "God" does not logically allow of even hypothetical plurality or of contingency. If you say that the Christian God is one of many hypothetical Gods you either aren't really talking about mainstream Christianity or your foolishness does not rise to the level of atheism it is mere irrational senseless babbling. You literally do not know what you are talking about.

    I've answered as many of your questions as I was able to do. Now let me ask you a couple of questions. Let me make sure that I've understood what you are saying. You have vaguely alluded to (and assigned some bible readings on the subject!) what you call some "Christian doctrines" regarding "disinterest in material possessions" and "worrying" about future financial stability. Since you claim to be talking about Christianity in general and not the specific sect your friends and family belong to, these are doctrines that you claim are taught by mainstream Christianity in general, western and eastern. You have asserted furthermore that these doctrines go further than simply commanding "disinterest" and a lack of worry but actually generally forbid acting prudently in regards to one's personal and family financial affairs. You then assert (without explaining why, without presenting any kind of argument whatsoever) that disagreeing with these doctrines logically implies a belief that the universe either ceased to exist after the moment of its initial creation or that it still exists but it is sustained in existence by something other than God ("existential inertia?" you haven't really said what).

    Have I summarized your position fairly? Is that really what you are saying? Do you see why I wonder if you are an acquaintance of the Mad Hatter and the Red Queen?

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  29. Upside is I got to play with kindle on my netbook. Downside is the book was not worth the purchase price. :^)

    What questions do you see Christians avoiding?
    Your questions seem to be ones which Christians will side-step in the course of apologetics or debate.

    The one I have struck out with is any form of, "Is it really true?" Its not generally fair game to start with this one, even when it underlies all the others.

  30. I tried to download the book, but I do not own a Kindle, or a Nook, or whatever the heck else is out there. Does not look like I missed much.

    What questions do I ask of Christians that they wish I rather not? They really are not that profound.

    Really basic stuff like, "what evidence do you have that the Gospels were written by the people they are attributed to?" Every time I ask for the most simple inquiry from them, they have no idea, and sadly, it seems they have no desire to want to know.

    That is, the Evangelicals that I know don't seem to like any questions at all.

  31. Frankly, I don't know. I will take your word for it (re: questions they hope won't be asked).

    Forgive my pessimism, but in my experience, Christians always have an "answer" for everything. They don't care if it makes sense or not.

    ** Lorena

  32. I've downloaded the same book to read on my Kindle and... the questions never get asked. It's just a half-asses apologetic tract with no value whatsoever. Disappointing. I would love for some Christian to write a truly critical, in-depth review of their faith sometime, but then... once they do a sincere, critical, in-depth review of their faith... they have no alternative but to stop being Christians...

  33. I'm doing a blog series on each of your 11 questions at my blog, Josiah Concept Ministries. I hope my responses are informative.

    Anonymous: What do you mean no Christian has done a critical review of the faith? Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Anslem of Canterbury, John Calvin? Read any of those guys? What about moderns like William Lane Craig and Paul Copan? Read anything by them? You don't have to answer: I know you haven't. And I know you won't.

  34. I don't have the room here to answer all your questions because there would require too much of an explanation for some, but I picked a few that I could bang out a quick answer to:

    5. Somewhere between 1500BC & 1450BC

    6. God can’t lie. Not because he’s a nice guy, but because God himself is the measure of truth. He is the one who defines it. So if God says something that’s what it is. Even if you don’t believe in God, just think about a computer programmer. If he’s writing a program and is giving it commands, he’s assigning functions names, telling it what to do, etc… what the programmer says is the absolute truth as far as the program is concerned. If the programmer comes back in and changes something, again it receives an absolutely true command from the programmer and proceeds in it’s function.
    Take a temporary leap of faith with me and apply that to theology, God is the creator of the universe. He is it’s programmer. He defines it’s parameters, sets the rules and so on. So when God says something it is the absolute truth because in this world he cannot lie in the same way the programmer cannot lie to the computer program. Make sense?

    7. Exactly the point!

    8. Your question answers itself. The unfathomable statistical improbabilities you’re describing deal with whether or not the universe, anything in it, and life could have been created by chance. So, since that is the statistical Improbability of Unintelligent design then it naturally follows that the inverse is the statistical probability of intelligent design. Unless you have a third option?

    11. Of course not. Merciful judges can still be merciful and just. We see this all the time when a young kid screws up, gets arrested for making a stupid decision and gets charged for a crime that could land him in jail. A merciful judge will look at this young man and say “well you did a stupid thing, I don’t want you to start of life as a convicted felon, I’m going to cut you a break” He can’t let him off scott free so he lowers the charge to a misdemeanor and makes him pay a fine and do community service for 3 years (or whatever). That’s mercy & justice. One doesn’t negate the other, they complement each other.

  35. Timbo,

    Thanks for taking the time to review this blog entry. This is kinda old, but as you took the time to provide input, let me respond to your points.

    5. Too bad archeology completely fails to support this dating for Exodus, and contradicts it in many points. Demonstrating the story to be a myth, and thus the dating becomes irrelevant.

    6. Interesting solution to God lying—make truth so arbitrary and capricious that God can simply change truth at whim, and thus…”technically”…never speak against the truth. On Monday God can say only Jews are saved; on Tuesday say only those who believe Jesus was raised from the dead. On Wednesday, God can say only men named “Steve” are saved; on Thursday, only women with tattoos. Technically God didn’t lie on any day—He just changed what was “true.”

    Seems to me, this solution is more trouble than the problem, but that is your choice when creating characteristics for a God…

    7. Good to Know! (Hope my exuberance with the exclamation point matched your own.) It does leave one to wonder what you claim is not designed in our universe, and what method you utilize to make the determination.

    8. While exclusive alternate possibilities are affected inversely by statistical data—which is more likely requires us to know the starting point of each. Without that, moving the statistical data is not sufficient to provide insight. For an analogy, if we have two numbers—“10” and “0” affected inversely (what is done to one, the opposite must be done to the other), then subtracting 1 from 10 leaves 9, whereas adding the 1 to the 0 leaves us 1. 9>1, so statistical evidence reducing a possibility from 10 -> 9 and inversely mandating the 0 ->1, does not make the “1” more likely than the “9.”

    11. Mercy is the exact opposite of justice in our language. If a judge is provided a range to sentence a person, and uses the lower end out of compassion, while we use the vernacular of “mercy” this is actually still “justice” because it falls within the confines of the law. [Judges are bad examples to use for “mercy” because they predominantly perform justice. Indeed, if they perform mercy, they are overturned on appeal, because that power is not granted to them.] Mercy is when a person is required to be punished under the strict parameters of the law, but punishment is withheld. Parents are the more likely example.