Thursday, June 17, 2010

Response to Jeff Schweitzer: Why Free Will, Prayer and an Omnipotent God Are Mutually Exclusive

Two commenters on John Loftus's blog have challenged Christians with the following article. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am very interested in the questions and discussion that make up the bulk of  this essay. This is important because of all the arguments against Christianity, this is the strongest one and considering how quickly it collapses under its own weight of presuppositions and errors that just tells you how much evidence the atheist worldview really has. To be fair this essay by Jeff Schweitzer is one of the best summaries of the problem of evil I've seen a long time. Flawed logic but states the arguments well. His words are in black text and my comments are in red.

Religious morality has maintained a powerful grip on the human psyche for two millennia through the concept of "free will." Without the notion of free will granted by an omniscient and omnipotent god, religion would run into an immediate and insurmountable conundrum. Humans would be automatons, doing god's bidding with no choice. By definition, with no free will, all actions by all people would be a direct expression of god's will. That would clearly pose a problem, with war atrocities, rape, torture, genocide, and the full repertoire of human debauchery reflecting poorly on the almighty. No religion would tolerate such a grim view of the creator, so there must be a way to reconcile the reality of ugly human behavior with an all-powerful, all-knowing god. David Hume nicely summarized this tension between a kind god and the unkind reality of human existence, saying, "Our natural terrors present the notion of a devilish and malicious deity: Our propensity to adulation leads us to acknowledge an excellent and divine. And the influence of these opposite principles are various, according to the different situation of the human understanding."

Judging by what is written, the author must be talking about "Libertarian Free Will", He neglected to give a concise definition of what it is he means when he uses the term "Free will". What I  mean when I use the term is that one who has Free Will has the ability to make decisions based solely on what one desires without outside prompting or direction. It is my understanding that Schweitzer is latching on to the philosophy that there is "tension between a kind god and the unkind reality of human existence" that needs to be reconciled. I'm further understanding that he refers primarily refers to Judeo-Christianity given that all religions have something to say about human suffering  but not all religions believe there exists an omnipresent and omnipotent God. For example, Buddhism has no supreme deity.

Here is the central dilemma: religion must somehow explain the existence of evil in the presence of god, an endeavor known as theodicy. Despite heroic efforts, all attempts at theodicy have failed completely. The bottom line is clear. In a world that knows evil, an all-powerful god responsible for all creation must be evil. That interpretation is unavoidable and certain. But given that many people will wish to dispute the claim, I will show next how no other conclusion is possible.

I agree with Schweitzer's  definition of "Theodicy". I disagree with the conclusion he gives. Schweitzer makes his conclusion clear: "In a world that knows evil, an all-powerful god responsible for all creation must be evil. That interpretation is unavoidable and certain" He promised to prove this beyond all doubt. It's important to recognize that this line of argument often lead to denying God's existence because of the perceived contradiction of God's existence and the presence of evil. The problem is that does not fly because the flawed understanding of who God is and what good is.  Let's watch his argument fall apart. 
Some who oppose the notion of a brutish ugly deity propose that god did not intentionally create evil. If so, that begs the question of evil's origin if not from the hand of god. In one scenario, god allowed evil to flourish as an unintended consequence once his newly-minted Adam and Eve started roaming the earth; in another, evil sprang to life without god's permission, as a rude cosmic surprise. Both scenarios would give god a pass on being evil, but would at the same time mean he was not omnipotent. None of the three scenarios is looking too good for the big guy. Let's review: in the first case, an all-powerful god must be evil since evil exists and god created all, including evil; in the second case, god's work got beyond his control, a mistake not typically associated with an all-powerful thing; in the third case, god not only does not control our fate, he is incapable of peering into the future, a decidedly un-god-like attribute.

Schweitzer describes three scenarios based on different ways of  understanding who God is. I'm going to argue that the only way to understand the character and nature of the Judeo-Christian God is to look at what the Bible says about Him. Schweitzer describes God as all-powerful and all-knowing. I'm sure he got that understanding from the Bible. That being the case his understanding of God's nature should square with what the Bible says. Each case falls apart because it does not describe the God of the Bible.

Case 1: God is suggested to be evil. but James 1: 12-15 says:

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
 13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 

Therefore God cannot do evil nor can he be tempted to do evil. People do evil because of the evil desires of our own hearts. 

Case 2 Suggests that the world God created is out of His control. Isaiah 45:7-10 says

 7 I form the light and create darkness,
       I bring prosperity and create disaster;
       I, the LORD, do all these things.
 8 "You heavens above, rain down righteousness;
       let the clouds shower it down.
       Let the earth open wide,
       let salvation spring up,
       let righteousness grow with it;
       I, the LORD, have created it.
 9 "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker,
       to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.
       Does the clay say to the potter,
       'What are you making?'
       Does your work say,
       'He has no hands'?
 10 Woe to him who says to his father,
       'What have you begotten?'
       or to his mother,
       'What have you brought to birth?'
In case it was missed: God is saying he controls everything. There is no verse in the Bible talking about how God is limited.

Case 3 says that God "not only does not control our fate, he is incapable of peering into the future, a decidedly un-god-like attribute." The thing is the Bible disagrees. Acts 17:24-28 says:

24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' 

This shows that God more than controls our fates. He had our fates in His hands before He first made anything! Also look at Ephesians 1:7-12 says

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
 11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Religion solves this conundrum the old-fashioned way: by making up an answer with truly contorted logic. The answer in this case is free will, but only for human beings. Somehow, when god gathered his last strength to make people, before taking a one-day vacation, he decided, unlike with beavers or parrots, to give his new creation the ability to choose a path not preordained by god. This divine grant of free will solves the dilemma because people can choose to be evil without implicating god. Whew!

I notice a hint of smug sarcasm. Undeserved sarcasm.  When God rested on the seventh day of creation, it wasn't because He was tired. "Rested" only means He stopped creating not that He was tired. I disagree with the standard idea that Free Will solves the problem because people do not choose to be evil. Evil is default. We are not good people who sometimes make mistakes. We are fallen sinners who are sometimes blessed by God to do good. We are not free of on our own. We are enslaved to sin. Breaking one commandment means breaking them all. Therefore it is silly to think that free will solves the dilemma. We do evil because we want to do evil. This means that we have will of our own only it's not free. The Bible does not teach that we have free will with mean that God is not implicated. Read Romans 5: 18- 21:

 18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
 20The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are not free without Jesus. We are enslaved to sin. Here is another passage that puts it even clearer Romans 7:14-25  says:

14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
      So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Unfortunately, the idea does not hold water. Even the briefest examination lays waste to the claim that free will was or could be granted by an all-powerful god. The idea is an absurd oxymoron: the very act of granting free will would destroy the power do so. Let's see why by looking at the combination of free will, evil, and prayer in the presence of an omniscient god.

I agree the idea does not hold water. The Bible does say that God is all-powerful but it does not say that God granted us free will. I mean if we had free will then we ought to be able to choose to be sinless - making Jesus' sacrifice and suffering unnecessary. If there had been a better way to fulfill God's purposes don't you think he would have done it? Schweitzer then claims to show that granting free will destroys the power to give free will setting up a contradiction. I disagree because again there is no free will but let's humor him for a few minutes.

We can start with prayer. If god has a plan for everything and everyone, prayer could not affect his behavior. If he changed his plan according to a prayer, that would be an admission that god's original plan was flawed, making him fallible. If only those prayers that fit into god's original plan are answered, then the purpose of praying is defeated. With preordained fate, prayer could not change any outcome, which is the very purpose of a prayer.

I agree that prayer does not affect God's behavior. Prayer changes us not God. When we pray according to God's will we get "Yes" or "Wait". When we pray for something contradicting with what God was going to do, God says "No." Many people are teaching that God is obligated to do what ever we want if we ask  with enough faith. I think that Schweitzer thinks that this is something Bible believing Christians thinks. It's not.  Look at: 1 John 5:13-15

 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
A more proper view of prayer can also be found in Matthew 16:18-20

18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Look at the part of binding and loosing. In the Greek it really says  "has been loosed in Heaven"
and "has been bound in Heaven." This means that we are only saying what God has already said.

"Ah-ha!" you might say. "The trick is that god gave mankind free will -- that allows for the legitimacy of prayer." But prayer cannot work in the case of free will, either. If we have the power to choose our own destiny, prayer has no role to play. If I pray to god for a certain outcome, just the act of praying is an admission that I do not determine my fate; I admit my fate is in the hands of god, that god can change the outcome of my life, making the notion of free will moot. The idea of free will is religion's version of having your cake and eating it, too. You can have a god who already preordained everything, and you can pray for a different outcome anyway, and you have free will to change your destiny. The wishful thinking that a pastry can be consumed without being depleted is no more viable than the notion that free will and prayer are compatible.

Prayer is legitimate but not the idea that you can use it to change your fate. We pray to communicate with God not to change his mind. It's supposed to be a two-way conversation. It's about to be more like God - conformed to the image of his son (Romans 8:29).  God wants to change us so that we can see more clearly not to confirm to our skewed understanding of reality! Isaiah 1:8 says:

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

God is not looking for us to tell Him why He is wrong. He wants to give us the gift of seeing the truth as it is. Schweitzer's argument fails because he does not understand what the Bible teaches about prayer.  

An argument often provided to counter this line of reasoning says that god knows what every person will choose beforehand, but the person does not; the person is still making a choice. How oddly tautological. Whatever we choose, our choice is according to god's plan because we chose it! But if god already knows what we will choose, already knows the outcome of every choice, that is not free will, only the cruel illusion of free will. The choice was already made at the beginning of time, meaning there never was any choice.

God does sometimes decree something and people involved just make decision on their own fulfilling that decree. For Example King Cyrus of the Persian Empire returned the Jews from Exile 70 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. God takes credit for the Babylonians destroying Jerusalem and for Cyrus ending the exile - centuries before the events. Look at Habakkuk 1:5-11 and Isaiah 45:13. Some other times God restrains us from sinning. Sometimes we think it was our idea to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing  but sometimes God tells us it was him preventing us from doing the wrong thing. I've personally experienced that but it's also in the Bible where King Abimelech was kept from sleeping with Abraham's wife Sarah although he did not know Sarah was Abraham's wife (Genesis 20:1-20). Still another scenario is that God uses the evil that we do to get profound good. For example when Joseph's brother sold Joseph into slavery, Joseph told his brothers over 20 years later after he became the second most powerful man in Egypt: Genesis 50:19-21

19 But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
The good that was being accomplished? - Saving the known world from starvation.

Another common argument is that free will allowed humans to fall from god's grace, without impugning god's character. That is simply defining away the problem without solving anything. If god is all-powerful, he could have created a species of humans who chose to use the gift of free will only for good. That his creations chose to behave badly means that such behavior was either god's original intent, or that god is not all-knowing.

I agree that God could have chosen to create us so that we would never sin. But God didn't. Why? I don't really know all the reasons why, but one thing I am certain about it was because God had You in mind. He had me in mind. He had in mind everyone who has or ever will existed. And our existence in our current state - genetically and environmentally - is contingent on the fact that everything you have ever experienced had to happen when and how they happened or you would not exist. The same is true for everyone else. If the people in the past had not lived and died when and how they lived and died you would not be here to ask such questions. God has purpose for everyone. And everyone fulfills that purpose. God knows who is going to disobey him and how. There is no way to predict how He will react in every situation because God keeps his own counsel. Sometime God chooses to extend his mercies other times He punishes. What we know for sure is that if a person repents, God will not ignore the person or say "no" to them.

Perhaps a benevolent god created a world with evil, but he chose to do so for good reasons. He created evil but is not evil himself. Assuming this logic, some argue that evil and suffering are necessary in order to know god. Well, that is simply another example of solving the problem by defining it away, and ultimately contributes nothing. Since god is all-powerful, he could have just as easily designed the world such that suffering was not required to know him.

Schweitzer is paying "Monday morning Quarterback". Of course God could have chosen to create a world without suffering. However you would not be in it. Neither would I. For some reasons that we cannot yet fathom God has chosen to do things this way. Schweitzer's argument fails because he failed to prove that God did not create a world where evil was possible. Being all-powerful also means that God gets to do things the way He wants. Isaiah 45:7 says:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Let's look at a real case of evil, that of Slobodan Milošević and his choice of genocide: only three scenarios are possible. One, god knew beforehand the choice Milošević would make and did nothing to prevent the outcome; two, god knew beforehand but could do nothing to change the outcome; or three, god did not know what choice Milošević would make. From these three possibilities we must come to a conclusion that is irrefutable, undeniable, and logically immune to any counterargument. In a world in which evil and suffering exist, god is either all-powerful and is responsible for that evil and suffering, through design or neglect, or god is benevolent but not all-powerful. Nothing else is possible, other than the obvious conclusion that god does not exit. With evil in the world, an all-powerful god cannot be benevolent. Whether god's power is diminished either as an original state of being or as a consequence of voluntarily relinquishing his power to human free will, the effect is the same. If god is benevolent and not culpable of evil, he has no control over evil. If god is not evil, he cannot alter our fate. No amount of twisted or convoluted logic can change that immutable conclusion. Saying "God works in mysterious ways" or "We are humble enough to admit that we will never understand god" just do not cut it.

Schweitzer misses another possibility: God is responsible for everything that does and does not happen - making Him responsible.  In Isaiah 45:7 God even claims responsibility. The point that is missing from his 3 possibilities that God could have stopped Milošević but did not because of  God's over all purpose and goals to do the most good. Schweitzer equates God being responsible with God being accountable. Accountability means that you are beholden to someone. Someone has your leash. Who is God accountable to? Himself. Not to Schweitzer. Not to you and certainly not to me.God is not limited by our will. Milošević is responsible for his actions. God did not make him do any of the evil he did.  Same for Hitler. Same for anyone including you and me. We do evil because evil is in us not because God makes us do evil things. The only thing keeping us from being worse than we are is God's mercy.

That conclusion yields an obvious and terminal problem for prayer. If your baby is seriously ill, you pray to god for her recovery. Why? If god is all-powerful, he would already know the fate of your baby, and your prayers would be for naught. Whether you prayed or not, your baby's fate is already sealed, pre-ordained, for better or worse, by the all-powerful god. Plus, since an all-powerful god must be evil, since he is responsible for everything in the universe, including evil, he might take joy in your suffering, since he allowed so much grief to visit the human condition long before your child became ill.

Several problems here. God is not just responsible for evil but for everything good too! Prayer isn't about trying to change the baby fate but for strength to deal with whatever God's decision is and trusting that God will do what is best for you and your baby. The Bible explicitly says that God does not take pleasure in our suffering. 2 Peter 3:9 says

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Not saying that people perish against God's will because "not willing" does not mean God does not allow people to perish. It means that He isn't taking joy in it. 

Alternatively, if god is benevolent, he is not responsible for the evil and suffering in the world, meaning he has diminished powers since forces exist in the universe for which he has no responsibility and no hand in their creation. You would be praying to a being without the ability to control human fate, rendering the prayer useless. If god has no control over evil, praying to him to stop evil and suffering makes no sense. Prayers to an all-powerful and evil god are futile; prayers to a benevolent god are useless. You might as well pray to the tooth fairy. At least with the tooth fairy you get a dollar under the pillow.

God does stip evil and change fate. I'm certain He has done it in everyone's life and you did not realize it because you would not have been able to tell because you don't know what the other options were in every situation. God is in complete control. Sometimes He does not stop evil because of his own purposes.

The flip-side of human free will is also important to examine; that is, does god himself have free will? If not, can god grant what he himself does not have? An all-powerful god is all-knowing, meaning god knows all of his future actions, and all of the choices he would make. Here is the rub: god could not change those choices, otherwise his earlier knowledge would have been wrong, meaning god would not be all-knowing! All-omniscient god therefore has no free will to choose actions, since all actions must be preordained. God becomes an observer of his own omniscience since all knowledge of the future precludes any changes to that future. Any god with free will would have to be imperfect, and would by definition not be all-knowing.

This is an amazing mess in logic. Why would want to change his choices if his choices are always right and perfect? The other thing is God is not bound by time. Causality means nothing. He does not look down the corridors of time because there is no future from his point of view. Transcendence trumps Schweitzer. Free will does not work like our will where causality and  experiencing life moment-by-moment makes no sense from God's point of view.

So an all-knowing god, who cannot possess free will, cannot grant something he himself does not have. But a bigger problem remains. Free will implies a future with no predestination. A god who knows all, about everything past, present, and future, could not create any free will that would prevent that knowledge of the future; the very act of creating free will would destroy the fact of omniscience.
The notion that an all-powerful god granted humans free will is one of the most egregious examples of religion's absurdity. But the situation becomes positively surreal when people believe that praying to an all-powerful god can alter the outcome of events according to the entreaties of the prayer. Holding three mutually exclusive ideas at the same time is a sign of insanity.

In conclusion, this is where Schweitzer really fails. God does possess free will in that He can literally do what ever he wants to do. God has not given humanity free will. Therefore omniscience and omnipotence of God are all logically intact. Schweitzer argument was summed up: "The notion that an all-powerful god granted humans free will is one of the most egregious examples of religion's absurdity." Agreed. Good thing the Bible does not teach that. People who would push Schweitzer's argument further to argue that there is no god are proving that a particualr god does not exist and I concur,  but that god is not the God of the Bible..

Jeff Schweitzer: Why Free Will, Prayer and an Omnipotent God Are Mutually Exclusive
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  1. What a joke.

    "...the only way to understand the character and nature of the Judeo-Christian God is to look at what the Bible says about Him."

    You mean we're to read the God-obiography to get the character and nature of God? What a ruse. What a circular argument.

    What a surprise if this comment is allowed to stand.

  2. You have not challenged Schweitzers article with anything but the bible. This is a pathetic response by a religious zealot who has lost all reason when it comes to religion.

    You are using a book as the only evidence you have to support your argument.

    I will respond in kind. These quotes are from your bible, God giving free will to his people..

    Deuteronomy 30:11 "For this commandment which I command you today [is] not [too] mysterious for you, nor [is] it far off. 12 "It [is] not in heaven, that you should say, `Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 13 "Nor [is] it beyond the sea, that you should say, `Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 14 "But the word [is] very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

    Deuteronomy 30:15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 "in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 "But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 "I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong [your] days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

    Joshua 24:15
    Choose you this day whom ye will serve.... But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

  3. Assuming that neither commenter had the guts to write his or her name I will respond to both assuming that they are different people.

    1. God is transcendent. How can you truly know anything specific about Him and who he is apart from revelation? Schweitzer's whole understanding for what we mean when we say "god" is a flaw misunderstanding of what the Bible says about God. What sources did he use other than the Bible? None.

    2. I think you both missed my whole explanation of what Free will is. The passages mention does not support libertarian free will as I have defined it. I'm not saying that we come to God without wanting to. I'm saying that God puts that desire in us. We don't have the ability to choose God on our own (John 6:44). We are commanded to serve and obey God. It's not a suggestion, yet on our own we lack the power. Deuteronomy 30:11,15 and Joshua 24:15 is not talking about what we have the ability on our own to do only what we should do.

    Obviously you both think you have free will. Prove it. Live a sinless life and choose to obey God. I wanna see that. Good luck with that.

  4. Schweitzers article said>he decided, unlike with beavers or parrots, to give his new creation the ability to choose a path not preordained by god. This divine grant of free will solves the dilemma because people can choose to be evil without implicating god. Whew!<

    You said>I disagree with the standard idea that Free Will solves the problem because people do not choose to be evil. Evil is default. We are not good people who sometimes make mistakes. We are fallen sinners who are sometimes blessed by God to do good. We are not free of on our own. We are enslaved to sin.<

    You are missing the point that it seems somewhat strange God evidently only gives human ability to choose a path.A fine way for God to get to blame humans for all wrong they do, but yet still grant God an ability to totally rid himself of any need for him to hold the animals accountable.

    Schweitzers article is pointing out this God is a type of God of coincidence.Had beavers or parrots had more ability in choosing a path they might have been thought just as responsible for many things too.

    Yet do we see animal complain for not having this fine ability of this thing the God of Humans brains decided was evidently this thing he called free will.That supposedly later made all the difference between responsibility and punishments in a place humans called hell.For that matter do we even see mentally retarded folks, complaining often about not having this thing called free will.No we dont.

    So why then is this free will such a gift to humans, if its actually what brings us so much more responsibility and possibility of punishments in some place human brains evented called hell.

    Schweitzers article is pointing out the stupidity and injust thinking of such type of thought.

    Like others here have already exlpained you are missing the point and simply rolling back on your bible to see what it says.Much of Schweitzers article is not about what it happens to say in the bible at all, its far more concerned with pointing out the bottom line stupidity of this bible type of base line thinking.

    For instance the idea that this thing free will should supposedly be considdered such a great gift and blessing to humans ,even though when looked at a little more openly and honestly its really seen to be far more like a curse.

  5. Schweitzer said>Saying "God works in mysterious ways" or "We are humble enough to admit that we will never understand god" just do not cut it.<

    You said >The point that is missing from his 3 possibilities that God could have stopped Milošević but did not because of God's over all purpose and goals to do the most good. Schweitzer equates God being responsible with God being accountable. Accountability means that you are beholden to someone. Someone has your leash. Who is God accountable to? Himself. Not to Schweitzer.<

    You just go and suggest almost exactly what Schweitzer suggested isnt really any decent answer .You use the good old tried and trusted God works in mysterious ways trick.A trick which could be used to try and suggest almost any God humans could ever even dream of,could possibly even be real.In turn, it turns all ideas of Gods into a completely open book.

    These type things are simply things you will never learn how to understand or even get to properly address, while you simply always keep rolling back to what your faith book happen to say.Did you really even expect it so likely your faith book would likely ever even suggest anything other than that old tried and trusted trick, of we just dont need to question these things we dont understand, because Gods work in mysterious ways?.

    Its a no boner.Naturally most all faith books will often be suggesting something along those kind of lines, of oh humans cant question Gods ways.It isnt likely they will really be suggesting things should hopefully sound reasonable and logical to humans is it.They would soon lose far to many worshipers if humans were allowed to use the natural minds.

    But yet its an idea thats obviously very wrong, or how else do humans ever get to decide between the God of Islam or Gods of Hindism and so on.

  6. Human being have souls. No where in the Bible are we told that animals have souls. Soul and Spirits are often equated but they are not the same thing. Anonymous -6:05pm rails against free will but I never tried to defend that we do have free will. What point are you trying to make?

    Anonymous- 7:00pm, Who said that we can't question God's ways? Didn't your read Isaiah 1:18?! I'm saying that trying to apply human logic and reason to God's way is like an ant trying to understand human behavior. It doesn't work. We are not capable of doing it on our own and it is not that we shouldn't do it. I said that it's silly to hold God accountable because you are not in control of anything. I never said that God's ways were so mysterious that it was pointless to ask about them. If you really wanna know what God's will is you can find out (Romans 12:1,2). But you won't do it. So you keep living in ignorance. Good plan. The Bible clearly tells us about God's character. You can be like Schweitzer reading whatever you want into God or you can know God as God truly is!

  7. >Human being have souls. No where in the Bible are we told that animals have souls.<

    If it was written in the bible that humans had inbuilt cake mixers while animals didnt,to you Marcus naturally that would simply make it truthfully so too right.This is the silly way you often argue,you simply say the bible book says it, so then that settles it.This is not so.

    And if you argue humans have no free will, then they cannot choose to be sinners can they,so then neither are they responsible and punishible for wrongdoing.

    >I'm saying that trying to apply human logic and reason to God's way is like an ant trying to understand human behavior. It doesn't work. We are not capable of doing it on our own and it is not that we shouldn't do it.<

    So much double speak.First you suggest trying to apply human logic and reason to Gods way is like an ant trying to understand human behaviour,and yet how do you ever suppose the bible was possible to even be compiled.Did it arrive from thin air or did the easter bunny deliver it to us or something.First you try and say we are just not capable of doing it,next thing you try telling us its not that we shouldnt do it.

    Whats going on here Marcus does a double minded siamese twin live within your headspace or something.

    It cannot be both ways.Either we say humans can understand Gods ways, or we say humans cant understand Gods ways.

    Or is it more about you also like to impose the right for faithful folks to be allowed to dictate what they think we can, and cant know about Gods.

    If this is what you trying to suggest,then let me simply say, its obviously the best shonky inside rigged lottery job that man ever invented.

  8. Great comment anonymous at 8.03pm.

    The assertion about not knowing God is an enormous cop-out. If you believe that to be the case, then you truly are deluded.

    There can be no omnibenevolent, loving, all-powerful deity which would expect his creation to guess or offer notional concepts (such as “His purpose is beyond our understanding”) as justification for irrational, unreasonable stories or situations. Why would he? He has laid out his rules in the bible, why then would he have anything else that we have to guess at and if we get it wrong he might punish us? “It’s a test of faith,” some might say; I say that is irrational.

    If he has some hidden agenda outside his laid down rules that we excuse by using a platitude or guesswork as an excuse then what sort of fair, loving, understanding and merciful God is this? If this is the case, do we really know what he wants from us? I would suggest a “test of faith” would just be another of God’s cruel little games.

  9. @Anonymous-11:25pm, Schweitzer used only the Bible to talk about God's character. And He said things that about God that conflict with the Bible. You missed my point. We don't choose to be sinners. Sinners are what we are. If you can't choose not to be a sinner, you do not have free will. Let me be clear. I said that we cannot understand God on our own not that we can understand God. If you want to know the will of God it's possible, again Romans 12:1,2.
    the bible came from us because God inspired those writer to write what they wrote. I'm not saying what you said and you are. Why setting up a problem that I'm not suggesting?

  10. @Trevand

    Okay, Let me be clear. I did not say that you can't know God;s will. I'm saying that you cannot understand on your own. That is why you think that there is need for "justification for irrational, unreasonable stories or situations". You don't understand. I don't completely understand either. It's not a test of faith. I never even made such an argument. You don't have to guess. And there is somethings God has yet to reveal. As for the stuff you need to know from God now you can know.

    1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:1-2

    You can't submit yourself to God unless you are saved but you don't even believe God exists.

  11. Marcus >@Anonymous-11:25pm, Schweitzer used only the Bible to talk about God's character. And He said things that about God that conflict with the Bible. You missed my point. We don't choose to be sinners. Sinners are what we are. If you can't choose not to be a sinner, you do not have free will. Let me be clear. I said that we cannot understand God on our own not that we can understand God. If you want to know the will of God it's possible, again Romans 12:1,2.
    the bible came from us because God inspired those writer to write what they wrote. I'm not saying what you said and you are. Why setting up a problem that I'm not suggesting?<

    No Schweitzer used logic and common sense as well as the bible,thats the difference.We cannot allow that logic and common sense should always be seen to match what is said in faith books .That would simply allow that all faith book could then be proved as correct.Which would be irrational.Its far more safe we judge faith books by logic and common sense ,not common sense and logic being judged by faith books.Because that would leave humans in danger of being fooled by those who wrote the book.

    You still miss an important point.If we dont have free will and so cannot choose to be sinner, but instead just are sinners,why then would God have need to punish us?.Simply for lack of the ability to believe, when the presence of God cannot be even said as being so obvious?.What justice is that?.You suggest God is so harsh he would punish some folks for not seeing evidence and reason to believe Gods existence?.This is the type of stuff Schweitzer tied pointing out to you.

    Also you are very clear you wish to suggest you can have the right to choose or suggest who has the right and caperbility to be named as these inspired people or prophets who can help be understand God so im not on my own.But again you miss the point this idea is wide open to abuse and decietful practices.And i dont matter if its a prophet or somebody claiming to be inspired,they is still only man just like myself is.And you say we cannot understand God on our own,well who get to chosse who holds the prophets hand while he standing there claiming some inspiration from God?.Where is the checks and balances in place that prevent deceit from happening?.

    Marcus like Schweitzer tried explaining when you put your faith in faith books you ultimatly basically putting your trust in some other men .They can tell you they have the holy spirit and claim they are inspired or whatever, just as easy as you or anyone else can.

  12. @Anonymous_06-10-10_9:17pm -

    Schweitzer did not use logic or common sense if he is claiming the Bible says things it does not say. He did exactly that. You are wrong that we can logically accept that all faith books are correct because they contradict each other. They can't all be true. We are accountable for our sin because there is a standard. If you don't meet the standard you deserve punishment. It's not being harsh just because you are being held to a standard you can't meet on your own. We are without excuse because God himself helps us to meet those standard on HIS terms not ours. You and Schweitzer want to assume God is obligated to give to us a pass just because we are enslaved to sin. He isn't. Mercy can't be earned only given. The Bible is not a solely human product. God used people to write it but He directed it.

    I want to know why this discussion seems to have been shifted from point of Schweitzer's article to why you can't trust the Bible. That's an entirely different point. My whole argument rests on the fact that the Bible disagrees with how Schwitzer describes and thinks about God. That is the point. If anyone wants to argue about why the Bible is trustworthy and how you can know that I am more than happy to discuss it, but that isn't the point of the article.

  13. Your argument is simply that your interpretation of the bible disagrees with Schweitzer's. But it also disagrees with the sincerely held interpretations of Calvin and his followers, with the Westboro Baptist Church, with most of Catholic doctrine, with liberal Episcopalians, with Mormons, with any number of multitudinous splinter Christian sects, with those who speak in tongues (or possibly with those who don't), with those who believe in pre-tribulation rapture (or possibly with those who don't), etc. Why would a God who sincerely wishes to be understood and obeyed allow for the possibility of so much misinterpretation? Is he leaving it all to chance?

  14. Bronxboy47, you didn't understand my argument.

    1. I'm saying that Schweitzer's interpretation directly conflicts with scripture.
    2. If you understand Calvinism then you would know I presented the same argument many Calvinists use to answer the "Problem of Evil".
    3. If you are trying to saying that my answer disagree with Christians who hold an Arminian viewpoint - yup. So? Although we may disagree on how people are saved from hell, they agree that it's only through Jesus and are just as much Christians as I am.
    4. Catholics and Episcopalians are not in conflict with me as long as they hold scripture as final authority and there are people who are among them who do.There are people in my own denomination who don't. That means nothing.
    5. Mormons are not Christians. Any one who denies basic essential doctrine is not a Christian.
    6. God is not leaving interpretation of his word to chance. Just because people twist it into a pretzel does not mean it's not clear where it needs to be for you to get close to God. People are fallen sinners. If God does not regenerate their hearts what else would we do but twist and misrepresent God's word horribly.
    7. Matter such as speaking in tongues, when the rapture takes place, and predestination is in-house family talk in Christianity. You as an atheist don't have a thing to say about it. They are not part of essential doctrine and some things are still going to be mystery until God reveals more information. In those matters, if you are not a believer, God is not talking to you. When it comes to the New Testament, you might as well stop reading after Acts because it's not for you if you are not a believer.
    8. If you wanna argue that my rebuttal is only my interpretation and Schweitzer is not wrong, then you have show how the scriptures I cited do not conflict with Schweitzer.

  15. The whole point is that you are only quoting scripture and you have not a shred of evidence to prove that it is the inspired word of God and final authority.

    Can you provide any evidence that it is?

    Everything else you say is your intepretation. And that is all it is, interpretation, wish thinking and best guesses. Irrational belief without evidence. Nothing else.

    Without quoting scripture (and I'll wager you cannot) where is your evidence of your God?

    If you had been born a Muslim, what would you be quoting?

  16. Trevand,you missed the point again haven't you. Schweitzer has provided an argument based on a faulty interpretation of the Bible. If you want to disprove my argument you have to show how I have misinterpreted the Bible and that he is right in what he has said. It's just his interpretation and he is wrong.

    Why is the Bible the final authority? It's infallible and free of error. You disagree? Prove it's wrong. It's testable and falsifiable. All you have to do is show a passage that says something that is not true, not one that makes no sense to you.

    If I had been born a Muslim (I'd still be quoting the Bible (Have you ever looked at Muslim Apologetics?) They quote from the Bible all the time. I also hope that once I were faced with the preponderance of the evidence for the Bible, I would give my life to Jesus and submit to God as I have done. As I hope that God in his mercy will grant to you.

  17. You are quoting scripture to present and support your case. This is evidently because you believe the bible is infallible and free from error.

    Here are some errors which make it fallible:

    On what day did Jesus die? Mark says on the passover day (at 9.00am), John says on the day of preparation for the Passover (not condemned till noon and then taken out for execution). You might say, does it matter? He was crucified; but this is an error, a contradiction which cannot be historically correct. One of these accounts can't be true.

    Only Matthew and Luke give accounts of Jesus' birth. These differ considerably in the detail of telling. After the birth, Matt has the holy family go to Egypt until Herod dies. Luke has them return to Nazareth. One of these can't be true. Which is it?

    There is also the falsehood that there was a worldwide Roman census (contrived to get Joseph to the City of David, Bethelehem to attempt to fit the OT prophesy). The Romans never did any such thing, nor would they have because it would have been totally impractical with thousands of people traveling over vast distances for months to send them back to the place of their ancestors. That story is a lie.

    Why are the genealogies of Jesus from Matt and Luke so different? And why are they Joseph's genealogies when he wasn't a blood relative of Jesus? Please don't give me the nonsense about adopted children or whatever drivel you use to make this ridiculous myth work.

    Jesus preached that law must be followed, Paul (Romans 1-3 and Galatians 1-3) said it should not be followed. Who was right? One of them can't be.

    It is generally accepted by bible scholars and historians that six of Paul's letters are forgeries. I would guess that you think you know better.

    Why did Jesus (and Paul) say that the second coming would be in the lifetimes of their respective audiences? This did not happen so those statements were wrong. There is nothing you can say to excuse these errors - without made up drivel.

    The errors, contadictions and fabrications in the NT are manifold but those above will do for now.

    Let us look at the OT:

    Whay are there two different creation stories in Genesis? One of them is wrong.

    Why is there no Egyptian record of the Israelites 430 years of bondage or the killing of the firstborn? (I dare say losing a fair sized workforce when they left and the killing of the first born may have sent a scribe to his tablet). Why is there no archaeological evidence of around two million people wandering in the desert for forty years?

    Why do archaeologists say that Jerusalem in the time of David was actually a tiny hill village rather than the great city as portrayed in the bible? Are they wrong? I suspect you may say they are.

    For countless contradictions and discrepancies go to:

    Say what you like but these are quoted directly from scripture. Don't give me any nonsense, please, about them "not making sense to me" so therefore they don't count. The fact is they are errors, I see them as errors and in most cases, only one of them can be TRUE and one cannot be TRUE.

    What you are actually saying about being born a Muslim is that you might have some sort of revelation, a Damascene event leading you to Jesus. Your arrogance and stupidity is breathtaking.

  18. Trevand, let's really hold up scripture and see who is stupid.

    1. Read look at number 52
    2. Both Matthew and Luke tell us Jesus was raised in Nazareth. There is no contradiction. so what if Luke does not talk about the trip to Egypt. Luke does not say they didn't go to egypt. You are reaching and coming up empty.
    3. Romans did do censuses and there is plenty of research that shows your conclusions faulty. Google it.
    4. The genealogies are different because in ancient times they were not intended to list every single individual. We know for example that Matthew's is intentionally missing people. Genealogies are supposed to be used to prove thins. not list each person. The point of Luke's genealogy is different than Matthew's. There is not contradiction.
    5. Paul was saying the ceremonial laws and traditions didn't have to be followed because Jesus fulfilled them. Read the context.
    6. It is afar from generally accepted that six of Paul's letters were forgeries. Yes, i do know better than that. If you did the research you would too.
    7. Neither Jesus nor Paul said that the second coming would be in their audience life times. Where do you get drivel like that?
    8. Genesis 2 gives a summary and more details on what happened in Genesis 1! There is no contradiction
    9. Egyptians were great at destroying records of people and events they wanted to forget. But there is a papyrus that describes the 10 plaugues! Biblical Evidence: Part 1- Archaeology
    10. I'm not the only one who would say that Jerusalem was a city decribed the way the Bible descrtibes it. Some Archaelologists woould disagree with you.

    10 supposed contradictions? Nope. Do better if you can. I'd say its far more arrogant to say the Bible has contradictions and then throw up these sad examples that it is to claim that the Bible is correct and it does not matter what anyone thinks about that.

    The whole point of salvation is that none can get it or understand God without direct revelation from God. It explains why you are not able to see it and why i know of people who grew up right next to me in church and do not live for Jesus. I'm praying that God reveals Himself to you and remove your stubborn pride.If you need more information as to why you are wrong that these are contradictions,I'll be happy to provide more information.

  19. 1. Apologist nonsense. The lengths religionists will go to in order to justify nonsense in the bible is beyond reason. From the beginning Christianity has been rife with forgery, interpolation, false interpretation and downright lies.

    Eusebius Church History book 1, chapter 1, section 4.

    "But at the outset I must crave for my work the indulgence of the wise, for I confess that it is beyond my power to produce a perfect and complete history, and since I am the first to enter upon the subject, I am attempting to traverse as it were a lonely and untrodden path. I pray that I may have God as my guide and the power of the Lord as my aid, since I am unable to find even the bare footsteps of those who have traveled the way before me, except in brief fragments, in which some in one way, others in another, have transmitted to us particular accounts of the times in which they lived."

    Hard to believe that if there was a historical Jesus the first historian of Christianity would write such a thing for it implies there was no history. You are reaching and coming up empty.

    2. No ancient historians or geographers mention Nazareth before the beginning of the fourth century, three centuries after Jesus.

    Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the Talmud, or in the Apocrypha and it does not appear in any early rabbinic literature.
    Nazareth was not included in the list of settlements of the tribes of Zebulun (Joshua 19:10-16) which mentions twelve towns and six villages.
    Nazareth is not included among the 45 cities of Galilee that were mentioned by Josephus (37AD-100AD).
    Nazareth is not mentioned in the 63 towns of Galilee listed in the Talmud.
    None of the authors of Gospel knew Palestine as it is well known that they (the Gospels) were written elsewhere. Their inaccurate geographical references confirms this.
    Luke said they returned to Nazareth, are you saying that because he didn't mention Egypt they might have gone there but he chose not to mention it? You are reaching and coming up empty.

    3. Of course the Romans did censuses but these were local. They did not do worldwide censuses and certainly never did one where they sent the heads of families back to the city/ton/village of their ancestors. You are reaching and coming up empty.

    4. Pathetic. You have not the faintest clue why Matthew's genealogy is shorter than Luke's. There are different names at corresponding times. That is a contradiction. The genealogies however, are worthless regardless of whether or not there are contradictions. You didn't answer the point. Joseph was not a blood relative of Jesus. You are reaching but coming up empty.

    continued below:

  20. 5. Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17)

    Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
    You are reaching but coming up empty.

    6. Utter rubbish. You are reading biased apologist's views to suit your purposes. Try reading dispassionate historian's and scholar's views of the language, styles, content, theology and historical settings. Early christians as far back as Origen thought that some of his letters were forgeries in his name. You are reaching but coming up empty.

    7.Err.. I got that drivel from the bible:
    "When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes." (Matthew 10:23)

    "That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord." Jesus Christ: 1 Timothy 6:14

    "Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief." Thess 5 1:4

    Paul made numerous references to this in other letters. No doubt these mean something else to your bigoted brain. You are reaching but coming up empty.

    8. But they are different. Still Reaching etc!

    9. The fact of the matter is that most Egyptologists date the Ipuwer Papyrus to the First Intermediate Period (ca. 2100 BC) or the late Middle Kingdom (ca. 1700 BC) (Shupak 1997: 93), well before Jacobovici’s Exodus date of 1500 BC. Distorting the detail to make it fit again? Reaching again?

    10. MOST archaeologists would agree with me. You're not too confident on that one are you? Reach a bit further.

    Your fundamentalist zeal is on par with the likes of Ted Haggard and Pat Robertson. It wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference what anyone proved to you, black is white in your deluded brain. Get some help.


    1. Eusebius did not have access to the same evidence and resources that we do today. We simply know more about Hebrew and Kione Greek then he did. You point is stupid.
    Also more baseless accusations of lying, interpolations and the like. Don't have anything else? Guess not.

    2. Why would Luke have to mention the point about Egypt? Luke was writing to Greek gentiles and I doubt that they were concerned over if Jesus had fulfilled all Jewish Messianic prophesies or not. Matthew was written to Jews who would have cared about that. I'm sure that is why that detail is there.
    Can you prove that it was the point of Old Testament, Talmud, Apocrapha, or Josephus to mention every single town and city? I don't thin so. The Bible itself mentions how much of a backwater Nazareth really was. Insignificant. I'm not surprised that no one else mentioned it. why should you be?
    Where did you get that the Gospels were written elsewhere? Because that's not what the research I've read comes up with. If you look at the details in the Gospels stories, they could have only been put there by people who knew the culture at the time. For example, why does Matthew mention 2 donkeys when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? Because when a baby donkey had never carried a person before, they had the mother donkey lead the baby by walking in front of it. And I read a book about how Luke and Josephus match up in details regarding events, culture, and geography You need to read more.

    3. I wanna know if I provided others' research showing that the Roman census mentioned in Matthew and Luke was historical, would you read it? I doubt it. But I will if you really wanna press this point. You might learn something.

    4. I gave you the reason why Matthew's Genealogy is shorter. Remember Luke's goes back to Adam and Matthew's starts with Abraham. Don't you know anything about how genealogies were constructed in that culture and at that time. You also seem to forget that people often were known by a Greek name and a Hebrew/Aramaic name. Sometimes these names were transliterations/translations and sometimes they were not. You say that the names conflict at the same time - prove it. What bothers me is that you read the Bible in a way inconsistent with the way you read anything else. If I read what you wrote: You didn't answer the point. Joseph was not a blood relative of Jesus. And then I went around telling people you accept the virgin birth! It's the same thing you do when you argue that the genealogies are worthless, even if they don't conflict. What do you think the purpose was for them being included anyway? Kind of arrogant to judge their worth since you do not understand why they are there.

  22. @Trevand

    5. Why are justified by faith in Jesus? Because Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law. Now where does Jesus say that we are justified by observing the Law. He said that we are justified through him. John 3:16 and John 8:24 bear this out. If our sins are not paid for we die in them. Romans 8:23 There is no conflict. Get real.

    6. Origen didn't even have all of Paul's letters that we have now - they existed but he didn't have access to them. He also said several things that I would disagree with to day because I have more information than he did. I'm not saying that he was not a Christian, only that people with more information disagree. Try again. It is funny how people who disagree with you are arrogant, bigoted, and biased - No matter how much they've studied or researched. Coincidence? You should get that checked.

    7. Nope that drivel came from your own imagination.
    Matt 10:23 - the Towns of Israel are not done yet even today
    1 Timothy 6:14 - do you really think that Paul was saying, "when Jesus returns you are going to stop keeping his commandments, Tim"? I hope you don't think that but if you think he was saying that Jesus would return while Timothy was alive then you would have to think that is what Paul meant. He's encouraging Timothy to keep going and never ever stop.
    1 Thess 5:1-4 - Paul is clearly saying he does not know when Jesus will return only that we should be ready!

    You say that there are other examples - provide them - because these are not them. If you believe i'm wrong prove it. Show how they mean what you say they mean in the context of the passages in which are found. I'll wait.

    8. Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 give different details but no conflict. Can you show how they are giving contradictory details? Nope. I have no reason to reach. Burden of proof is on you.

    9. I've seen scholars date the Exodus at 2100, 1700, and 1500 BC. Experts disagree. I've distorted nothing. If you accept 2100 BC for the papyrus and 1500 BC for the exodus you still have to explain why there is a match. The Papyrus is not in a Semitic language. You disagree that the Exodus happened, you have explain this. If you think the Jews stole the story and never were slaves in Egypt, how did they have access to it? When? I'm not omitting details. You are.

    10. I disagree that most archaeologists agree with you. How do you know that? That's arrogant. I said some agree with me and some disagree with me.b I haven't enough data to say what the majority thinks. Why do you? How did you get it? Did you read every single journal or article ever written in English, Germman, French, and Hebrew on this subject. Funny how you think that if someone comes to a conclusion that agrees with the Bible they must be biased. Why do you think that?

    Seems like the delusion is yours. I find it funny that you would insult me by equating me with Ted Haggard and Pat Roberson. You have proven nothing but how much more you need to study.

  23. As I said earlier, your black is my white.

    What is both sad and terrifying at the same time is that you are no different in your zealotry to a radical Muslim. He may be intelligent, educated, have high intellect and maybe a scientist or engineer capable of rational thought in respect of everything outside of their religion but has polarised irrational beliefs, for example, that all unbelievers should die, and as a martyr he will go straight to paradise and be blessed with 72 virgins.

    The majority of muslims believe the koran is inerrant and infallible. Some of them are as radical about the koran as you are in your belief about the bible in terms of the zeal with which you both promote and defend it.

    The muslim beliefs may be different but the concept of faith, believing in a supernatural deity without evidence, is exactly the same. Interestingly, if these levels of irrational belief are observed outside of religion, (eg: ghosts, UFO's, alien abduction, flat-earthers etc) people are considered mentally ill or at least deluded. (And no doubt you believe muslims are deluded). Whilst I'm pretty sure suicide bombing is not on your agenda, I repeat, I believe you are no different in terms of your radical and zealous beliefs to the most radical of muslims.

    Your defence of the errors within the bible is unshakeable because your mindset with regard to it is such that it does not allow you to have doubt, which is unnatural and dangerous. The fact remains that the bible is the only proof you have of your God, you have nothing else. You search for biased supportive material, rationalize, interpolate and interpret any point of contention to fit with and defend a book written over many centuries by ignorant, superstitious men who knew nothing of science or of the world.

    I take no credit for this quote but it works for me:

    “You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that atheists are the ones that need help?” Dan Barker. (Or deluded as you suggested I might be).

    On that point, one has to believe in a subject which is self-deceiving to be deluded. I see only one person like that around here.

  24. @Trevand

    It's simply fallacious to equate me to a Muslim terrorist that is so sure he is right that he is willing to kill others. I'm not willing to kill others. I'm not commanded to kill others. I am commanded to live so that others will see the power of God in my life. I defend the Bible because you said things about it that aren't true. You made claims about truth and they are not true. At least Muslims recognize that there is a God greater than themselves. I think that puts them above people like you although I do disagree with them on many subjects. At least they have that much sense. What's your excuse?

    The fact is you have no proof that the Bible is not infallible or false in any shape or form. You have nothing to stand on to base your atheism on but your own ignorance. I haven't twisted any of the scriptures to get the interpretation I've put forth. You however can't say the same thing. You may mock me for believing that a book that has "talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories (in your opinion) but just because it doesn't make sense to you does not mean those things didn't happen. You can't prove that they didn't. All you can say is that they offend your views of reality. So what? Truth is truth no matter what you might prefer. Rejecting something just because "That does not make sense to me" is not the way to find truth. It's pathetic.

    You think that me as "zealous Christian" have not considered other religion, but delude yourself. Of course I have thought about why I accept the Bible and reject the Qur'an. Obviously! Most Historians agree that Jesus was crucified on a Roman Cross sometime between 28-33 AD. The Qur'an straight up rejects it. The Qur'an says that Muslims should accept and respect the Old Testament, yet it contradicts it in many ways. The Bible does not have such problems. I reject Mormonism because it is "another gospel". IT gets no historical event or geographic place that can be confirmed outside of the Book of Mormon. As for the Bible either we can confirm it or can't disprove it. That's the bottom line. As more information comes in, it only serves to validate the Bible. You still ignore my questions. Why is it that disagreeing with you equated to being biased or bigoted? That really makes no sense. Funny you should quote Dan Barker. I'm familiar with his "work". The things he says are even more ridiculous than what you say. I suggest listening to his Debates with James White, Dinesh D'Souza, and Doug Wilson. They will help you. You can find them linked to this blog.

  25. Disagreeing with anyone on any subject does not mean that the other side is necessarily biased or bigoted, although either side could be. My point is that you are extremely narrow minded and biased in your views on what is a belief system without any evidence whatsoever. You only have a book written by many fallible, primitive human authors who were attempting to develop and create a series of allegorical stories around the deity they perceived as their God. (Interestingly, recent archaeological finds prove that polytheism was still rife in Palestine after the Babylonian exile).

    The NT was cobbled together by a group of people not one of whom were eye-witnesses to Jesus and then interpolated, forged and added to by early Christians who wanted to enhance the story of an apocalyptic Jewish teacher, whom they finally decided 300 years after his purported death, was the messiah and Son of God.

    Your arrogant statement that believing in God means the believer is superior to me is pathetic and ridiculous and is another example of your bigoted, deluded brain. I am a good, decent, generous and loving person and I don’t need a God to know how to behave. My grown children are the same and are happy, decent, generous and loving people. Believe it or not they were all baptised, were educated in schools where religion was part of the curriculum (I was brought up a catholic- like D’Souza) and without any persuasion from me, they rejected of their own volition, the notion of God and the religion that goes with him. Don’t even begin to tell me that being brought up as a Christian put my morality in place. That didn’t work for the greater majority of the prison population worldwide, did it?

    As a matter of interest, do you have any non-believing friends outside your religious circle? I would wager not. I have many religious friends but they are not fundamentalist or radical in their belief like you.

    I have never suggested that you want to kill anyone. The analogy of you being as radical as an extremist muslim in your unshakeable, irrational set of beliefs (more, I would suggest than most Christians), in my opinion, stands. The only difference is that you want to evangelise it in more peaceful means. That is except issuing threats of eternal torture in a lake of fire, which a just, merciful God could not possibly permit. In your view, I dare say everyone who hasn’t followed Jesus because God chose to allow them to be born in non-Christian countries will burn in hell. How just would that be?

    Continued below:

  26. Cont'd from above:

    I have more proof that the bible is false, fallible and contradictory than you have that it isn’t. The problem you have (and therefore everyone else who communicates with you has) is that you absolutely, utterly WANT to believe it is the inerrant, inspired word of God and will argue every point of contention against what is now generally accepted by archaeologists, scholars and bible historians as the truth of the matter. There is no point offering any points of contention to you because you present more irrational and obtuse excuses and interpolation back. This just leads to a circular argument.

    Are you aware that almost every single seminary and religious college in the USA and Western Europe teaches students that there are many contradictions and errors in the bible? They also highlight the most ridiculous ones (and there are many). By your standards, these bastions of religious education are all wrong.

    Have you read “The Bible Unearthed” by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman? I suspect you have and reject it and will know of only religious commentators who reject it also; because like you, they don’t want the myth dispelled.

    Dan Barker saw the light of reason, which you are incapable of, regrettably because you are deranged by your faith. I have watched all the debates between the people you mention, along with Sam Harris, Hitchens, Peter Singer, Michael Shermer, Dan Dennett, etc etc.

    I have communicated many times by email with Dinesh D’Souza with good response from him. The one thing he has a problem with is why God allows suffering. He tells me he is writing a book on it. Dinesh is a very bright guy but he is a professional religious debater and makes a great deal of money from it. He therefore has to be contentious and confrontational. The problem with these debates is that once you have seen a half dozen of them the rest are rather dejavu.

    I cannot imagine living with the zeal you have and the compelling need you feel to impart God’s message when all you have is faith. Even that institution of unreasonable doctrine and behaviour, the Catholic Church, believes in Evolution and so admits that this contends with the Genesis creation story. Here you are in your radical world sermonizing the inerrancy and validity of the bible and disagreeing with everyone who has a different view of it. In this case it would be the RCC.

    You are waiting for something that just might not happen. What a waste of life.

  27. @Trevand

    I think you are making several mistakes. You say that the authors of the Bible were wrong. How do you know? You haven't been able to show that. As for your point about polytheism in Palestine after the Babylonian exile...duh! There were more than Jews living in Palestine after the exile.v If you had proof of Jews worshiping other gods wholesale then your point has merit.

    Your distorted view of how the New Testament was generated and transmitted makes me think you have not studied the subject very much. I think a good start would be you need to read the King James Only Controversy by James White for a good start there. There is good evidence that Jesus' first followers affirmed his death, burial, resurrection and deity.

    You said: Your arrogant statement that believing in God means the believer is superior to me is pathetic and ridiculous and is another example of your bigoted, deluded brain. I am a good, decent, generous and loving person and I don’t need a God to know how to behave. Thank God, that He has blessed you to be generous and loving. Don't you think you can do better? Can you? With God you can do better. I never said that you were not generous or loving. Where did you get that? I didn't say that they were better than you...just more enlightened. I'm not saying anyone is better than you just because they see God clearer than you. No one can take credit for that. I'm pointing out that they are better off because they at least recognize that god exists.

    I have not read Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman so i won't comment on whether or not they are right or wrong. Have you read the work of archaeologists who disagree?

    All of the people you have mentioned who argue for atheism have serious problems in their view of the world. I've linked to many critiques on this very blog. If you have rebuttal material I will look at it. but i won't rehash their problems here in the comments section.

    I also don't think that you understand what "faith" is. You think faith is antithetical and in place of evidence. That is wrong.

    I have unbelieving friends and family and yes I recognize what will happen if they don't accept what the bible is saying. I'm going to trust God. That is why I'm not worried about people raised in other cultures because God saves and calls all those who are his to himself. Some Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhist are converting. If you were right, none of them would and no one raised Christian would go the other way. Youo said I dare say everyone who hasn’t followed Jesus because God chose to allow them to be born in non-Christian countries will burn in hell. How just would that be? acts 17 rebutts you because it says that everyone was born in the best possible circumstances for them to find God - that means finding Jesus. Some never do and that is a different discussion.

    You said "eternal torture in a lake of fire, which a just, merciful God could not possibly permit" but i don't see why you can say that? How do you know that a good and loving God does not have right to bring justice and wrath? Your view of God is one-dimensional.

    Many Seminaries and religious schools in deed have given up Biblical inerrancy and they are wrong. The theologians, teachers and scholars of past generations were right and today many of us were wrong. Argument from majority opinion does not make an argument true. And you surely claim that I don't think for myself. Now that is a laugh. You concluded by saying You are waiting for something that just might not happen. What a waste of life If I am wrong then my life is indeed wasted. I gain nothing; loose nothing. But what if I'm right? If I am right then it is your life that is wasted. You loose everything. I hope you are really, really, really sure. I am.