Friday, December 17, 2010

FacePalm of the Day #35 - Debunking Christianity: The Free Will Fumble: Why Christians Treat it Just Like They do With Unanswered Prayer

John Loftus again provides an example of why it nearly always results in a FacePalm when atheists attempt to discuss "Free Will". I keep hoping to find an example of an atheist explaining "Free Will" well. I have provided Loftus' post with my comments in red.

Christians have developed so many ways to escape the force of the evidence that it’s frustrating to those of us who are trying to reason with them. I’ve written about several of them before. There is the big one I call The Omniscience Escape Clause. Another one I haven’t quite developed yet I call The Faith Trump Card, which is leaping beyond the actual probabilities of the evidence itself. No reasonable person can leap beyond what the evidence calls for. If Christians conclude it’s 51% probable Jesus arose from the dead then they simply cannot conclude they know he did. That’s an unjustified leap. If I thought it’s 51% probable the Colts will play in the Super Bowl and win it this year (fat chance) I would be ignorant to say I know this will happen, especially enough to bet all my meager life savings on it (which is zilch).

I sure would like to know what Christian told Loftus that they thought that Jesus' Resurrection was 51% probable. I would think that anyone who gave their life to Christ would think that the evidence for the Resurrection was better than just a  51% probability!

Then there’s something I focused on in my book, Why I Became an Atheist, which I’ll call Punting to the Possible. Time after time when confronted with an intractable problem for their faith Christians will respond by saying that it’s still possible their god exists, or that Jesus arose from the dead, or that a donkey talked. When it comes to the problem of evil they’ll say it’s not impossible that god is good despite the weight of evidence. That is, unless we can prove their god doesn’t exist then they can go on their merry way believing. But this is unreasonable, utterly unreasonable. Who in their right mind would require that a skeptic must prove a god doesn’t exist? The Mormons use the same tactic by saying that despite the evidence to the contrary it’s still possible their god exists. Of course it is. It’s just very very improbable.

Anyone who checks out the evidence for the Book of Mormon and compare that against the Bible one must honestly come to one inescapable conclusion: They both can't be true. They are in contradiction with one another. This means that only one of them can be completely true or both of them are not true. Now because the evidence supports the Bible and goes against the Book of Mormon, it's not even a contest.  The Bible has better credentials and attestation. Reality attests to the Bible's validity. Loftus attempting to equate the evidence for  Mormonism with historic Christianity is truly an epic fail. Does it make sense to say the miraculous cannot happen?  Nope.
Now we have what I’ll call The Free Will Fumble. Someone fumbles the ball so to speak on an important play and Christians will attribute it to free will. After all, they’ll opine, their god doesn’t want to coerce people to obey or to believe. So there’s murder and mayhem in the streets? No problem. “People have free will,” is the answer (a libertarian will say this). A Christian loses his or her faith? Again, no problem. God doesn’t coerce faith.
Here is the problem with Loftus argument: "Free Will", from a Biblical Standpoint, is an illusion. We are incapable of  not sinning. That means that we are not free to act or not to act otherwise. We are enslaved to sin. We sin in thought, word, and deed. This is not saying that we don't make choices. Apart from God, we can only choose what sins we will and not commit up to a point. We are condemned. Given all that we have have no way to be really free apart from Jesus. God doesn't coerce faith - He gives it to you.

But when someone does something good then god gets the credit. God inspired Handel to create "The Messiah." Praise god for this! Someone found my wallet and returned it. Thanks ya Jesus. God granted us safety for our trip from any potential muggers out there. God is good. My boss gave me a raise. Hallelujah.
Just look what’s going on here. Christians are treating these actions exactly as they do with unanswered prayer. They are counting the hits and discounting the misses. If Christians want to opine that their god doesn’t coerce us, then be consistent. Does he or doesn’t he? In the Bible there are several characters who were convinced by god to believe, like Moses, Gideon, Mary & Joseph, and Saul of Tarsus, apparently without abrogating their free will. So which is it? Can god do this or not, and if he can do this with them why not me, or anyone else?
When we do good of course God gets the credit! There is no good in us. We have no hits apart from God - all we can do is miss. God has to move all of us who become believers to believe. We are not capable to believe on our own. God has done and given you everything you need to believe. He put you in the right place at the right time for you to best find Him. So of course the obvious question is why haven't people like Loftus found him? It's not like God's hiding. The Bible says that those who miss God love their sins more than they love God.
Scientific studies on prayer have consistently shown that petitionary prayer doesn’t work. The evidence is against prayer. And the evidence is against god’s actions in this world through people too. I mean, really, can god answer any prayers that involve the actions of other people? If he can, then why isn’t there evidence that he does (beyond anecdotal evidence, which is no evidence at all)? And if he can’t, then how in the world can he answer any of these prayers, or to be praised when someone does something we prayed for?
Not all scientific studies on prayer reach those conclusion so Loftus over reaches yet again. At least he got the part about how God can't answer many prayers without making behave and think in ways they might not ordinarily think or do. I mean when he keeps a pedophile from raping a child he's acting against that person's free will, for example. When God makes the burglar bypass your house, God messed with that person's will. God is not beholden to anyone for anything. He can choose to allow or stop anything he wants to do.

Free will becomes an excuse for a God that does nothing. The Free Will Fumble is yet just another excuse for an incompetent god. I mean really, what can God do if we have free will?

God is not incompetent. Loftus just doesn't know God is doing and why He does the things He does. All humans are in that boat. The difference is that Believers trust God. We know that we can trust him to do the right thing - the just thing. Let's talk about "fair" for a moment.  Do you really want God to be "fair" or do you want His mercy. Given that we all deserve hell - I'll take mercy.

Debunking Christianity: The Free Will Fumble: Why Christians Treat it Just Like They do With Unanswered Prayer
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  1. Until this post, I had no idea how lost in magical thinking you were.

    There is no good in us.

    Tell that to your daughter. If you can do that with a straight face, there truly is no good in you.

  2. The Bible is against Magic. And there is no good in an anyone apart from the grace we get from God especially me. You seem confused. I would never say that you are so horrible and I'm not. Everyone stands condemned before a holy God. No one likes that. But it sure beats the alternative which you seem hell bent to embrace [pun intended].

  3. Tell your daughter there is no good in her and get back with me.

  4. My daughter is under the curse of sin and death - as are you and every single human being. You need to get back to God.

    I find it amusing that you would try to bring my children into this. Really a straw man and pathetically transparent. It's also sad that you miss the whole point of the post. Yes there are bad news: We suck! We deserve hell. God would be within his rights to just send we and every other human being straight to hell and not even waste another thought. The good news: God did not do that. He has chosen to provide propitiation through Jesus Christ raising Him for our justification. That is what you should be focused on. This is what I teach my children - that my four year-old is learning and that which you fail to understand. Quit dodging the force of the argument by getting caught up in your own depravity that keep trying to deny.

  5. Sadly, your arguments lack force. You've got a lot of non-Christian "goodness" to explain.

    You've shown yourself to be irrational in the extreme, so I think we're done. Take care, hopefully you can wake up some day.

  6. Ryan, you seem to have selective reading incomprehension. Who said that non-believers don't do good things? I didn't. And it is not even a part of the Moral argument for the existence of God. Assuming things that weren't said is a mark of irrationality. You are really good at that. The Bible is saying that the good that we do does not and cannot counterbalance the evil that we do so that we are acceptable under our own merits! And the good that we do is only because of the grace that God does extend to people - even hell bound apostates like you.

  7. Who said that non-believers don't do good things? I didn't.

    And there is no good in an anyone apart from the grace we get from God


  8. Again selective reading comprehension

    "no good in an anyone apart from the grace we get from God"

    does not equal

    No one is capable of doing or understanding good things.

    What language do you speak again? You aren't using "good" meaning what I mean. I mean ultimate God's definition - not just kindness or compassion. This is why I have always said that without God you cannot even define what "goof" is.

  9. How does one get grace again?

    As for what language I speak, it's english, but it's the version of english where we don't make up definitions to better suit theological positions.

  10. I haven't changed the definition of any word. You don't get to come and change definition. I'm using the same English definitions that have been in play for at least the past 500 years. You can't tell me the Bible is using "good" in the same relativistic wishy-washy understanding you have.

    BTW We get grace from God. What is grace? Grace = God's unmerited favor. I'm praying that god gives you some.

  11. I didn't ask from where or what, I asked how.

  12. I answered "how". God gives grace. He opens your heart and mind. He transforms the way you think and changes your inclinations. Not all at once. It's a process. Same answer. He saves you from you. He replaces "your heart of stone" - the default and describes your mind and attitude - and replaces it with a "heart of flesh". He takes a mind that is unable to subject itself to His rule and turns you from hostile to loving Him. You said yourself you didn't experience this. Hopefully you will before it is too late. It's called being "Born again".

  13. This should lead you to the conclusion that only "Born Again" Christians can be good.

    This conclusion is observably false.

  14. Um, you are still not understanding what the Bible says. No one is saying that people are not capable of recognizing or behaving morally - born-again or not. That's not what "total depravity" refers to. Each of us are not as bad as we could be. It's not about doing good sometimes. It's about the fact that we cannot do it all the time!!! It's about that we miss THE STANDARD God has set in some way, shape, or form daily. We know what Holy should look like according to the Bible and none of can meet that standard...that is why Jesus had do come and die to redeem us because we cannot redeem ourselves. This is the way it is. No one is good according to the standards God has set. Can't you understand what the scriptures are plainly saying? Being born-again means that God is molding you into a being capable of living up to that standard - declaring us "not guilty" of sin (note: not innocent). We become that being when God completes his Masterpiece. As long as you are alive - you haven't made it yet. God is still working that stuff out of you and his purposes in you. Romans 8:28,29,30,31

  15. The fact that we know what the moral laws are and that we are unable to keep them is why we are condemned.

  16. OK, now you are back to redefining "good".