Atheist Experience #490: Atheist parenting »« The “Thou Shalt Not Judge” Mind Game

In which another child is raped, and God’s nonexistence is again proved

Here’s a brief and sad little article. Country star Wynonna Judd is divorcing her estranged husband because he had sex with a minor under 13. In her public statement, she makes the kind of casually thoughtless religious remark that believers make which demonstrates how little they care actually to examine what they’ve been taught to believe. (Emphasis added.)

“Our family will pull together, begin the healing process and hopefully — by the Grace of God — become stronger. We will move forward with our faith, family and our friends to find resolution to this difficult situation.”

Cue automatic atheist response: If you’re so confident your God will help you overcome this “difficult situation,” where was He when your ex-husband was putting a tweener through the “difficult situation” of statutory rape? I guess God likes you better, eh?

Christians reflexively fall back on the Appeal to Free Will whenever the Problem of Evil — always illustrated to maximum effectiveness when a child is harmed — pops up to inconvenience their God’s best selling points, e.g., his omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. The idea is that God cannot ever interfere with our most precious gift, our free will, because to do so would make us “robots,” and God doesn’t want to be worshipped by mindless robots who don’t do anything that isn’t pre-programmed. No, He wants us to come to him by our own free choice and love.

What Christians don’t recognize is that the mere claim their God is omniscient negates the notion of free will. If God is omniscient, then he knows every choice you’re going to make from cradle to grave. Even if he doesn’t directly influence it, the mere fact he knows it calls into question that the choice is entirely yours. I’ve heard Christians engage in all kinds of rhetorical contortionism to squirm out of this one. My ex-wife tried to tell me that God “swears off knowing” certain things to allow for true free will. But you cannot “swear off knowing” something you already know. I cannot wake up in the morning and decide that I don’t know my address or my own birthday. I’ve heard that God’s omniscience means he actually knows all possible choices you might make. But this still means that in the end he knows which one you will make.

So either God is omniscient or He isn’t. If He is, human free will cannot exist. QED.

Another intractable problem plagues Christians who try to use the Appeal to Free Will to justify God’s allowing crimes like genocide, mass murder, or the rape of children. I’ve heard so many excuses here I cannot catalog them all. One of the few that has any persuasive power at all is that God must allow evil in order that people may have standards of nobility, courage, and goodness to which to aspire. Without Hitler, would those of us who opposed him have had the opportunity to present the world with a glorious moment of triumph for the concepts of justice, morality, freedom, equality, hope and heroism? If no one ever did wrong, how would you know the difference between right or wrong in order to choose the right?

Persuasive until, perhaps, you consider that such concepts were not necessarily alien to the world at large before the rise of Hitler or any other tyrant you might care to name. It’s not as if there was anyone sitting around in 1938 — other than the racist, lunatic demagogues (and no, they weren’t atheist) who planned the Final Solution, that is — thinking to themselves, “Gee whiz, I just can’t figure out if it’s right or wrong to murder millions of innocent people in converted gas chambers and dispose of their bodies in industrial ovens.”

That one needs a God to first draw of the list of what’s right or wrong before we can comprehend morality was handily disposed of by the Euthyphro Dilemma. Is a certain act right or wrong because God says so? Then what is His basis for characterizing them as such? Is an act — even one like child rape — morally neutral until God slaps the label “wrong” on it? Then His decision would appear to be entirely arbitrary, and God could just as easily have labeled it “right.” On the other hand, if God has reasons for labeling acts as right or wrong, then those reasons necessarily exist independently of God and are rooted in the observable, tangible consequences of the acts. Any thinking being can draw the same conclusions, and God becomes irrelevant to moral development.

Two more problems demolish the Appeal to Free Will as a rebuttal to the PoE.

  • Christians seem to forget that innocent victims have free will too. So in the spectacle of child rape, let us say we have three actors. 1) The rapist, whose free will is dictating, “I intend to rape this child.” 2) The victim, whose free will is screaming out, “Help, I don’t want to be raped.” 3) God, standing on the sidelines whistling and buffing His nails, saying, “Sorry, I simply cannot interfere. Free will, don’t you know.” Whose free will? Well, in this case, it can only be the rapist’s. God is in essence favoring the free will of the rapist over that of the innocent victim, rendering Him no less evil than the rapist himself. Thus Christians are put in the embarrassing position of realizing they have spent the last 2000 years worshipping the patron God of child molesters.
  • Free will only refers to the ability to want to do something. It refers to a mental process only. To interfere with an actual act in no way impedes the exercise of free will. The FBI might get a tip and thwart a terrorist attack before it occurs. Has the terrorists’ free will been violated? Not at all. Even as they’re being led away in cuffs, they still have every bit as strong a desire to inflict terror and violence. They simply cannot act upon that desire. A crippled man may want to walk, a person with cancer may want to walk out of the hospital in perfect health to enjoy a long life. They cannot do those things, but that will never stop them wanting it.

So the Appeal to Free Will is thus refuted. As long as there are innocent victims of evil, then the Problem of Evil will continue. And while the PoE does not necessarily prove that no God of any kind exists (the indifferent god of deism is utterly untouched by it), it does prove that no God that could possibly matter — that no God anyone would have any reason to worship and court favors from through prayer (and isn’t the act of prayer itself a denial of the Christian claim that God cannot intervene directly in human affairs, since prayers themselves are requests for God to do exactly that?) — exists.

Comments

  1. says

    So I pose to you “You are God” how would you do things different then him to solve the issues that he has? Remember you have an entire race to deal with. Millions of variables how would you solve his issues? Play God for a day and set the world strait. Pick a subject of your choice and solve it better then him.

  2. says

    You could try considering what omnipotent means and the implications of such a claim. Also learn to count. The trivial number of 6,500,000,000 people on Earth pale in comparison to the 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 solar systems floating about the universe.The PoE is easily solved. Your god is sadistic monster and you are a groveling brown noser making excuses for him.

  3. says

    Should I take this response as “i can’t”? I pose my side of the debate and you call me names that is how you all debate? how sadIf you have a gripe with God, pose a solution for your arguement instead of whine and complain how mean he is or how immoral he is. How would you solve the delema’s of our society if you were God? You have a better solution then our Lord? Or you can just keep calling me a jerk I don’t care but you are just making yourselves look foolish. Zed complaining without a solution is so negative and unproductive. Come up with solid solutions for our delema’s. I am sure your listeners would love to hear how you all would handle free will and child molesters coexisting. For Him,Dan

  4. Martin says

    Very easily. If I were God I’d not only stop all child molesters from raping children before they had a chance, I wouldn’t even create people with the propensity to molest children in the first place. The “free will” of a child molester is not more important than the physical safety of a child. There. I’ve just solved one problem better than your God. Give me a tough one next time.In any case, as I explained, free will only applies to thought, not action. (Still not understanding the things you read here, I see, Dan.) Preventing child molestation does not interfere with a pedophile’s free will, only his ability to act upon it.Why am I not surprised your attempts at theodicy are just as poor as every other kind of argument you’ve tried to make so far?

  5. says

    Sure. It could be really easy to prevent child molestation without recourse to controlling thoughts (thereby subverting the “free will” crap) – God could have set up an electrical/pheromonal feedback loop whereby any erect penis that comes within a foot of a prepubescent child gets zapped with a few thousand volts of electricity. Wouldn’t solve all the situations by far, but it would be a pretty strong deterrent.

  6. says

    Ooo, here’s another one – the mythical vagina dentata could be real, and present from the ages of birth to, say, 16, at which point the sharp bits are resorbed. Again only would count to stop child female rape, and not other kinds of molestation, but it would be better than nothing. See, Dan, there are all kinds of ways that an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being could solve problems.

  7. says

    I can refute the things you are posing here later but on just this point: “and isn’t the act of prayer itself a denial of the Christian claim that God cannot intervene directly in human affairs, since prayers themselves are requests for God to do exactly that?”An example of God listening to our prayers. Moses pleaded with God in Exodus 32:10-15And God did not consume them for their stiffnecks by making and worshiping the Golden calf. He honored Moses prayers. For Him,Dan

  8. says

    Dear Chickensh**t Bullsh**tter Dan, You can run like the yellow-backed coward you are, but you cannot hide. Run from post to post, CB Dan Yellow-backed Marvin, you are still the same little boy.NOTHING you say about ANYTHING has ANY merit because you are a liar. Any questions, any stupid, moron situations you pose to your betters are pointless because you have failed to answer the most basic challenge presented you: Prove what YOU said you could prove. Get it through your head, BOY, when you make a statement you claim you can prove and you don’t prove it, NO adult takes you seriously.Shut up, go home to your wife/mother figure and forget about playing in the big sandbox with the big dogs. You are a lying coward, CB Dan Marvin, not fit to be in the company of your betters. Getting some hostility vibes, there, Danny-BOY? You should be. No man takes kindly to a mouthy punk who shrivels up the first time a man lets that mouthy punk walk his talk. You failed, you lying cowardly little puppy. You failed at the most basic level. So steeped in your own hubris you foolishly made a statement that has ALREADY been proven false. I know you will have to look up the meaning of the word hubris. When you do, you will find that hubris has ONE result: nemesis. Chickensh**t Bullsh**tter Dan Yellow-backed Marvin, you have awakened your nemesis. And your make believe pie-in-the-sky-invisible-guy god cannot help you. Do not complain to any of us; you, like the ancient Greeks, have brought your nemesis upon yourself. An unanswered challenger of Chickensh**t Bullsh**tter Dan Yellow-backed Marvin,Otto

  9. says

    Dan,You are dishonest.I asked if you believed that the default position should be that your god exists until disproven…your reply was, “No.”And in the majority of your posts since that point, you do exactly that. You talk about how you challenged your employees to not just complain, but provide solution and then you challenge us to do better than god did. This is a thinly veiled way of claiming that your god is true until disproven – that god is the answer until a better one is given.YOU are claiming that god exists. YOU bear the burden of proof. No matter how much you try to duck and dodge, that’s just the way it is.1 Peter 3:15 doesn’t say “Be ready, at all times to demand evidence of the non-existence of god whenever thou findest thyself cornered by infidels.”Unless your Bible is significantly different from any I’ve read.Considering that Martin and I have both shown you how God could have done better – and Martin’s was so well done, feel free to not even look for mine – we have, even though we bear no burden, demonstrated that your position is unsupported.Additionally, I have it on good authority from a “true Christian” that you will now be going to hell for implying that God couldn’t have done any better, if he’d wanted to. Clearly, you don’t have a very high opinion of your god if you think this is the best he could do.-Matt

  10. says

    Matt said,”This is a thinly veiled way of claiming that your god is true until disproven – that god is the answer until a better one is given.”I disagree. Clarification: I merely pointed out that you all here are complaining about God on how a crappy way he is doing things and I made the statement to put up your own solution (or shut up). Not that I think any of you are better then God or that God could have done it better. I stand on the position that NO ONE can do it better then God and that God is the smartest one here, not any of you. I was interested in what you all would come up with as a flimsy attempt to make the universe better, I admit that.I admit I claim that God does exist and you all claim that God does NOT exist and we are at odds here in semi debate and you have in a sense declared war against God and I am here as a soldier of the Lord to hold the hill. I have stated multiple times proof of God and you said that I am a jerk or other colorful language. In a debate I would win because you all are reduced to slandering and name calling not debating so I hold the hill. ” you will now be going to hell implying that God couldn’t have done any better, if he’d wanted to.” I have answered this already but simply I haven’t done this and the proof is on you that I have. Prove that claim, help me understand with examples, I am listening.For Him,Dan

  11. says

    I have answered this already but simply I haven’t done this and the proof is on you that I have. Does this sort of double speak actually get you anywhere??You asked people to give you examples of how they, acting as your God, could have done better. And, as to further drive the point that you REALLY wanted an answer, you chided Zed for not providing an answer. Shortly thereafter, you were given two or three very interesting and EASY answers for how God could’ve solved the problem…and what do you do??? Do you repsond with…”wow… that’s interesting.” or “Hmmmm…ok, so maybe God could’ve done a better job on that one.”NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!You make the claim that you can refute all of those examples…and then you fail to do so. YOU ARE A BIG-ASS COP OUT!! If you’re a soldier of God, and his defender, then God is screwed (maybe by one of His “hand-crafted” child rapists?)! The saddest part is, you couldn’t even think of these things yourself? Do you NEVER question why God couldn’t design a “mother switch” that would prevent a mother from beating, drowning, or killing, her own child? Do you never wonder why God, in all of his perfection, couldn’t cause a miscarriage in any human fetus that he knew (in all of his omniscience) was going to grow-up to rape a child…or commit murder? It’s clean. It’s effective. It’s efficient.

  12. says

    Dear Martin,This is a sad little situation, isn’t it? My hackles rise every time I hear that ignorant phrase: ‘by the grace of god,’ and I hear it a lot in my line of work. When I have to care for a 12 year old child impregnated by her father and I hear that phrase, or some similar sh**t, I have to leave the room and cool down. I am continually amazed that adults can say such sh**t with no understanding of how stupid they sound. Anyway, thanks for the post. When I read the news on comcast I had to scream at the screen. No excuse for the death-deserving scum that did the crime, but with a wife that stupid, I would have run off, as well.Keep up the good work. This is one of the most active and provocative atheist sites I’ve found.Otto

  13. says

    This blog post is quite amusing and would make a good game show segment on The Atheist Experience, “God or Lunatic?” http://templewhore.blogspot.com/2007/03/voice-i-hear.htmlDan, I am not going waste my time addressing your pedestrian hand waving.I gave you the answer (not an evasion) to Martin’s PoE challenge. God is evil and you are trying to weasel your way out of becoming his next victim.Your fantasy life is not evidence of anything. Your delusional claim that you have provided proof of god where all of humanity has failed before you is laughable.Now for an actual insult, you are a vile, backward, sanctimonious jackass and you are an adequate representative of your religion. This alone is reason enough to reject you and your religion as false and repugnant.

  14. Martin says

    Dan: I can refute the things you are posing here later…Martin: Sure. No rush. In your own time. [pours a tall, cold beer] I’ll just wait here.Dan: An example of God listening to our prayers. [offers yet another Bible quote]Martin: [munches on a pretzel stick] Um, you got one that’s verifiable, Dan? You know, like, not out of a 2000 year old storybook that lacks any independent corroboration?And anyway [takes a nice, long sip from his glass], that wasn’t the point. Christians try to refute the PoE by saying God can’t intervene in our affairs because that violates free will. But then they turn around and pray for just such miraculous intervention.Feel free to actually address that one, rather than dodge it, whenever you get around to that refutation. [signals waitress]

  15. says

    In a debate I would win because you all are reduced to slandering and name calling not debating so I hold the hill. I’m just about ready to claim Poe’s law…The fact that Dan might actually believe that to be true is the very problem. However, Dan…let’s do it. Let’s have a real debate. Drop on by http://www.ironchariots.org, register, post for member’s access and then we can have a discussion in the “Believer’s Backlash” forum about the ground rules – assuming we can agree on a topic and rules, I’m at your disposal.-Matt

  16. tracie harris says

    >I stand on the position that NO ONE can do it better then God and that God is the smartest one hereIt’s consistently amazing to me how often god is “here” but nobody can ever tell.

  17. Mike Roth says

    What difference does it make if God exists or doesn’t exist? People still get sick and die; wars, disease and natural disaters still occur in which people suffer in agonizing pain. What makes people think that God cares? Maybe God is a liar. Mabye he sent Jesus here because he hated him and wanted him to suffer. Maybe he derives great pleasure from seeing children raped and tortured. Maybe “Christians” are in for a rude awakening when they get to “heaven” only to discover a God who is laughing at them while he spends the rest of eternity watching them squirm in agony.Christians are like the women who stay with men who beat them, all the while saying “It was my fault he got mad” and “I know there is good in him.”

  18. Aquinas Dad says

    I think that you really jump the gun on “if God is omniscient, there is no free will”. Just as correlation does not equal causation, neither does knowledge of equal control of. For example, I have children. I know them extremely well. I watched them learn to think and helped the process. Therefore, I often know exactly what they are going to say or do. My knowledge was not deterministic.; simply knowing that my son would turn to me and ask a specific question after viewing a particular film does not mean that I made him ask it. Also, you argument that ‘free will’ is the mere thinking of things rather than translating action into words is also a problem. The theological definition of free will includes action – as a slave that dreams of opening a business if he were free is not, in actuality, a free man a person who can think of sinning but cannot physically do so does not, in actuality, have free will. Your argument of ‘innocent victims also have free will’ overlooks another portion of theology – the inevitability of judgment. Your model indicates a wordview that *you* hold, not the worldview of a believer. To a believer, God is not ‘standing by buffing His nails saying he can do nothing'; in the view of a believer, the criminal has already been sentenced to punishment, just one delayed in time. This may not be a critical flaw to the point, but it does indicate that you fail to conceive of the world like a believer, making this a non-starter to a theologian.

  19. Martin says

    Aquinas Dad: I’m well aware of the function of theology, which is to come up with ceaseless justifications for the moral and intellectual failings of a religious belief system. I know I don’t think of these problems the way theologians do, because the role of theologians is like the role of the White House press secretary. Tony Snow’s duty is to come up with lame excuses every time the boss fucks up.I understand that theologians might choose to operate under the definition of free will you describe, but is that a definition that does Christianity any favors? I don’t think so. If theologians would indeed define free will as being contingent upon the ability to follow through with action, then it seems to me that utterly destroys the appeal to free will, not only as a response to the PoE, but to anything at all. No living human would, in essence, have free will to a sufficient degree to be considered a fully autonomous agent. There is something every single person wants but cannot get; whether it’s money, a certain sex partner, fame, or just not to grow old and die.I actually know a lot of atheists who would agree with your theological definition of free will, but they’d all tend to point out that under that definition, free will simply does not exist at all. I maintain my opinion that free will describes nothing tangible, but simply a thought process. There are some things we desire that we can attain, and some things we cannot attain no matter how badly we desire them. But we can still desire them. Inability to act does not inhibit the mind.From a moral standpoint, I would harshly criticize your theological rebuttal to my innocent victims example. The fact that God has sentenced the evil perpetrator to a punishment that is “delayed in time” is of no comfort to the victim, who is only (understandably) concerned with the fact that she is suffering and being violated now. The theological response you cite is designed to do nothing but dodge that point and absolve God of responsibility to the innocent.While there is some merit to your example involving your child and his questions, I think there’s a distinction to be made. You would, in all likelihood, admit to not being omniscient. So while your knowledge of your child’s habits has been developed over your lifetime of knowing and raising him and learning how his personality is shaping up, the Christian God is supposed to have known that your son would turn to you and ask a specific question after viewing a particular film all the way back in the year one zillion BC, and for an eternity before that. So, like the theological definition of free will you gave, the would seem to be another nail in the coffin of the very concept.I’m glad you dropped by, and I appreciate your detailed comments, though it reads as if you’ve just given me a variant of the Courtier’s Reply. You’re right in that theologians can tap dance around criticisms of religion by atheists simply by concocting abtracted notions of God to whom the criticisms don’t apply, or with special definitions of terms that mean different things than what they do in the real world. It’s the job of atheist critics to stop them dancing and get them to sit down for a minute.

  20. says

    Yes, yes – and philosophy is merely people trying to explain why *they* like what they like; psychology is merely people projecting their own neuroses onto the world; etc. Just as a physicist would dismiss someone who rejects the definition of (for example) momentum because the postulant disagrees with it, your dismissal of internally-consistent theological definitions is a weakness, not a strength. A key element of moral theology 9and systematic theology) is the admission that no human actor is perfectly unconstrained; especially in Catholic systematic theology a cornerstone of theological anthropology is the concept that Man is not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnicompetent and is therefore incapable of avoiding errors. This is what (in Catholic systematic theology) is meant by ‘original sin’. But having constraints on actions because of a lack of perfection is not a denial of free will. “Free will” does not demand “*perfectly* Free Will”; if nothing else, we are constrained by the laws of physics. “Free will” means “making a choice from available alternatives”, not “being freely able to make any choice”. And I think you are a bit morally confused, or at least confused as to moral agency. You claim that this argument attempts to “…absolve God of responsibility to the innocent”. Again, this is to discount the core principle of a Christian viewpoint – that this world is not *it*. An immoral actor is accorded a penalty immediately; an innocent victim is accorded mercy and grace immediately. While the perception of the actor and victim may not perceive penalty and merit until a much later time, God is directly involved immediately in punishing the wicked and rewarding the blameless, even if our limited human perception does not apprehend this until much later. You cannot mix a limited ‘this world and then nothing’ atheistic view of reality with the ‘timeless nature of God and eternalness of human existence’ Christian view of existence and not expect to misunderstand the arguments from the “other side”.

  21. says

    As for the ‘courtier’s reply’ idea, may I point out a flaw with that statement? Terms like “free will”, “omniscience”, etc. have been used in theology for centuries. In particular traditions, specifically Catholic and Orthodox Judaism, the definitions of these words/terms have been clear and set for, again, centuries. Since the goal of the theological traditions of both groups is to create an internally consistent, rational, systematic philosophy that has the real-world application of addressing moral and ethical situations this consistency is not treated lightly by those within the traditions. Just as I look askance of someone who wants to dismiss evolution but has a weak knowledge of biology, I wonder how much richer your argument would be if you are at least passingly familiar with the 16+ centuries of serious dialog on the single topic of “Does God’s omniscience preclude human free will?” This is not a new question! Your stray comment that you want to get theologians to ‘stop dancing and sit down’ is, I fear, an admission of ignorance about this topic. I think I might have to blog about this myself just to save your bandwidth.

  22. Martin says

    Thanks for the dialogue! My responses:Just as a physicist would dismiss someone who rejects the definition of (for example) momentum because the postulant disagrees with it, your dismissal of internally-consistent theological definitions is a weakness, not a strength.Physics makes claims about the natural world backed up with evidence, research and hard data. Theology makes claims about invisible deities backed up with, to hear you tell it, nothing more than “internally-consistent definitions”. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t accept your attempts to equate science with theology. Theological “definitions” are not the same thing as scientific evidence. And just because a theological argument is internally consistent does not mean it is correct, or even that it is addressing anything in the real world. Wacky conspiracy theorists spend a lifetime concocting elaborate stories about how the government wants to enslave us, or whatever they’re on about, and the more accomplished of them can be quite internally consistent about it. An internally consistent delusion is still a delusion.…especially in Catholic systematic theology a cornerstone of theological anthropology is the concept that Man is not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnicompetent and is therefore incapable of avoiding errors…It intrigues me that there are so many schools of “systematic theology” out there, trying to get into the head of what everyone believes is the one true God. You’d think if this being existed he’d make everything easier for his worshipers.What do you say to other Christian theologians who don’t accept your favored “Catholic systematic” take on things? And by what basis do you decide they are right or wrong?I’m sorry if I just don’t take theology as a discipline seriously. The following bit of rhetorical gymnastics is exactly why:An immoral actor is accorded a penalty immediately; an innocent victim is accorded mercy and grace immediately. While the perception of the actor and victim may not perceive penalty and merit until a much later time, God is directly involved immediately in punishing the wicked and rewarding the blameless, even if our limited human perception does not apprehend this until much later.And you call me morally confused? What a truly abhorrent argument you’re making! It’s little more than tortured excuse-making. You’re essentially saying that innocent victims of crime, while they suffer horribly now, ought to just suck it up and accept that God has already written down the appropriate names in his little black book for punishment later. Not only should you not concern your little head with the fact that, perhaps, an all-powerful and omnibenevolent God could have stopped your victimization before it started in the first place, but you ought to be aware that the only reason you feel this way in the first place is due to your “limited human perception”. It doesn’t seem as if you’ve rebutted my argument that all of this legerdemain is solely in aid of getting God off the hook, absolving him of responsibility to the innocent. If anything it looks like you’ve reinforced it.Sorry, but — call it my limited human perception if you like — I would think a ten-year-old rape victim isn’t going to care a whole hell of a lot that they’re being “accorded mercy and grace.” They just want someone to get the damn rapist off of them! I’m supposed to genuflect to a God who can do this, but refuses to, and then says, “Hey, don’t cry, have some mercy and grace…or maybe a cookie!”? Uh…I think not.You cannot mix a limited ‘this world and then nothing’ atheistic view of reality with the ‘timeless nature of God and eternalness of human existence’ Christian view of existence and not expect to misunderstand the arguments from the “other side”.A person with a reality-based worldview cannot understand where a person with a fantasy-based worldview is coming from? That’s like someone who believes in UFO’s telling me that until I’ve gotten abducted myself, I’m in no position to tell them they’re crazy. Thanks, but I don’t think it takes any special qualifications to have a reasonably well-functioning bullshit detector.Just as I look askance of someone who wants to dismiss evolution but has a weak knowledge of biology, I wonder how much richer your argument would be if you are at least passingly familiar with the 16+ centuries of serious dialog on the single topic of “Does God’s omniscience preclude human free will?”Um…you seem to be trying to rebut the Courtier’s Reply criticism, but all you’re really doing is restating it. Again, evolution and biology are sciences; real-world disciplines which derive their conclusions from observation, experimentation, and hard evidence. How do 1600 years of believers arguing over God’s will, omniscience, or angels dancing on pinheads compare in the slightest? (If anything, the fact that nothing has been resolved by theologians on these issues in 16+ centuries despite their claims of having special insight into the revealed world of God in the Bible kind of tells me something about the valifity of the enterprise.) If I see some hard evidence of God’s existence first, then I’ll think theology has anything meaningful to say about… well… anything.

  23. says

    In short; you don’t know much about what you claim to refute, don’t care to know much about what you claim to refute, and you account yourself satisfied that your refutation is complete. Thank you for your courtesy.

  24. Martin says

    *sigh* I’ll say it once again and try to be clearer, Aquinas. Give me some sound evidence that a god exists, some indication that theology is actually a real-world discipline — one studying something that’s really there to be studied — comparable to the examples you give (physics, biology), and not just about people trying to make myths make sense. I’m well open to that.

  25. says

    Let me make a counter-point or two; give me the scientific evidence that murder is immoral, or – even better – that taking advantage of a person in a difficult situation to pay them a below-survival wage is immoral. Not just illegal, but unethical. Science, in the strict sense of the term that we would call ‘hard science’ can’t do this. it isn’t what it is made for. The reason I discuss your need of more research into theology, specifically systematic theology, is that it is more properly described ‘moral philosophy’. In a core work of systematic theology there is no appeal to authority, only a discussion of first principles and then logic arguments in an attempt to determine the truth. There is no real “Because the bible says so” or “it is God’s will” as an argument for or against a position. There is, however, a great deal of discussion of such concepts as, how do you use logic to prove that all humans are equally valuable? Under what circumstances is warfare morally acceptable and, if it ever is, what are the ethical limits of war? Society is not made up of a group of hard scientists under a strict utilitarian regime; the laws of the land and of society are overwhelmingly based upon/derived from theological principles. Science cannot determine if all men are, morally and ethically, created equal. Nor can it determine if free speech is a right or not. That is the role of theology/philosophy – after all, theology is merely philosophy with a particular set of first principles – and those must still be defended.

  26. says

    Without Hitler, would those of us who opposed him have had the opportunity to present the world with a glorious moment of triumph for the concepts of justice, morality, freedom, equality, hope and heroism? If no one ever did wrong, how would you know the difference between right or wrong in order to choose the right?I dunno, maybe, by eating the forbidden fruit? Alas, if that simple act wasn’t prohibited at the same time,,, :PAh, and the very idea that there is a “free will” is for instance, the most absurd of it all. god himself establishing a domain in which he cannot interviene, hence, he’s not omnipotent. Very interesting in deed, an omnipotent god, that must behave in the ways some very human theologist commands him to behave, very omnipotent in deed!

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