Monday, June 25, 2012

FacePalm of the Day - Debunking Christianity: Divine Knowledge--Or the Lack Thereof

Cathy Cooper has again taken to the Debunking Christianity blog and shows us what failed arguments look like. This time the argument is trying to disprove Christianity by trying to show that God is not omniscient. Obviously, she desires to make this stick because if Christians are wrong about God being omniscient then why should anything we say about God be believed? Fortunately for all of us she is wrong.

This is a brief excerpt from our book that is almost completed.  It relates to my past post on Yahweh, and how this anthropomorphized god is further illustrated to be quite ignorant.

Another assertion. Let's see if she can back it up.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge, and epistemologically speaking, knowledge is gained by asking the following questions: What is it? How do we find knowledge? How do we know?

This is actually a good place to start. Is she right? Is this the only way gain knowledge? No it isn't. There is also revelation. There is somethings you only know because someone told you - revealed it to you.  As a matter of fact it is how most of what you hold you know. For example, how do you know what your name is? And how did you get it? Did you go to the hospital you were born in? Did you interrogate your family? How about the identity of your grandparents? Obviously, for most of us, someone you trust told you. Thing is was it true? That is the question. This the lie that Eve and Adam fell for in Eden. The serpent asked “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? ” The question under discussion is "Does God really know everything?" And like the question in the garden, it's a twisting on what God actually said and and calling God's trustworthiness into question as if God is trying to hide something from us.  God isn't deceiving us.


To find knowledge, humans use reason, critical thinking, and experience, which is perceived through what JS Mill posited as a "Permanent Possibility of Sensations."* How we gain this knowledge can vary, but the best way of finding knowledge pragmatically speaking, is through the Hypothethico-Deductive method. The H-D method of inquiry begins by formulating a hypothesis which could possibly be falsified by testing, which is both verifiable and reproducible. This is one of the most reliable methods of gaining knowledge; that is, of course, in the context of finite mortality.

Considering that there are things you can't test repeatedly, does that mean that you can't know anything about those things? For example, when you tell a child not to stare into the sun, should they test that out repeated to see if indeed that will turn blind? I really hope that no one would suggest that this is the only way to learn new knowledge.

But what is Divine Knowledge--the omniscience of God? It becomes paradoxical when the god of the Bible is assumed to be perfect in his knowledge, and at the same time, exhibits a lack of knowledge. In Genesis 18 for example, Yahweh illustrates his lack of knowledge when the Bible stated he needed to go to Sodom in order to confirm what he had heard was going on there:
"...I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me."Genesis 18:21
Cooper suggests that God goes down to Sodom because God does not know what is going down there. Does that make sense? No it does not. 

The Hebrew helps here a lot and it does not take much skill or research to see that the Hebrew וְאֶרְאֶה translated by "see" carries with it no indication of  ignorance. Look it up here for Genesis 18. And Crosswalk.com helps shed the light on this. 

 to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider
  1. (Qal)
    1. to see
    2. to see, perceive
    3. to see, have vision
    4. to look at, see, regard, look after, see after, learn about, observe, watch, look upon, look out, find out
    5. to see, observe, consider, look at, give attention to, discern, distinguish
    6. to look at, gaze at

Yahweh's lack of knowledge also causes him to question others. Also in Genesis 18, Yahweh questions Abraham about whether or not Sarah had laughed when she was told by Yahweh that she would bear a child in her old age. The added question, and the silence of Abraham to Yahweh's question, led to the subsequent lie Sarah told Yahweh about her not laughing. This illustrates that Yahweh does not know everything, and the "father and mother of all nations" (Abraham and Sarah) also cannot be trusted, as they were cowardly liars.

The text does not read that way at all. As a parent,  one tactic is to ask children a question about what they did to make them think and give them the opportunity to come clean and take responsibility for the error. My parents did the same thing to me. IT WORKS. God was doing the same thing for Abraham and Sarah. Here we don't see the ignorance of God. We see God's wisdom and mercy. God was going to give Abraham and Sarah a family despite their elderly age and their ability to believe His promises. Sarah doubted she could ever have a child from her own body. Of course God did not just let Sarah get away with lying but she wasn't punished either. Calling her and Abraham cowards is not just unfair but hilarious considering the source.

Furthermore, there was no point in the "Lord" asking for advice from his companions in the following passages:
"When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Genesis 18:16-19
Yahweh visited Abraham and Sarah in human form on earth in time. The men who accompanied Him were angels who were sent on to Sodom. When God spoke by the time of verse 16, they were already on the way to Sodom. God had already decided what He was going to do.  God wasn't asking Abraham, as an equal what He was going to do, but asking if He would let Abraham know. This isn't God asking for advice.

In fact, these passages illustrates a god who is not omniscient at all as he obviously was not fully aware of what was happening in Sodom.

It doesn't say that. 

Many Christians like to claim that Yahweh asks questions as a method of helping us to learn certain things, but there is nothing we can learn from Yahweh asking his companions whether or not he should hide his plans from Abraham. What it does do however, is cause us mere mortals to question how Yahweh can have "perfect knowledge" when he himself questions others, and admits he does not know everything.

How did God admit that He does not know everything. If God was looking for counsel about Abraham, why would God do so while Abraham was standing right there? If Abraham did not think God was omniscient and could deliver on those promises, why did he believe God? Simple: God showed him that God could be trusted and believed. We see nothing here showing that  God isn't worthy of the same trust from us.

Some theologians assert that his "companions" in this case were the other members of the Holy Trinity, and he was consulting with them, (himself?) but this would be impossible, as the Jews who wrote this text do not believe in Jesus as God, and never have. Therefore, this conclusion would be illogical and inconsistent with the Jewish texts.

I don't see any reason to assert that the other two men with God were the Holy Trinity. I got to admit that Cooper shows zero understanding about what the Trinity is. In no part of the Old Testament or New Testament do we find the Father or the Holy Spirit become incarnate - only the Son. And from a Jewish context, we wouldn't even think Moses had in mind to teach that the three was Trinity. There are other texts much better suited to show the Trinity in the Old Testament. However the text is great for illustrating the incarnation. This video will help you.




It should also be noted that Yahweh chose Abraham because his "knowledge" told him that Abraham and his children would keep the "way of the Lord" (Gen. 18:19), i.e., the "laws of Yahweh." This is clearly has not been the case however, as Yahweh's laws have been virtually wiped out by the believers in Yahweh and his son Jesus, which would mean that either Yahweh did not know Abraham's descendents would reject his laws, or Yahweh lied.

No and No. God did  not choose Abraham for anything special about him. Abraham was not picked because he would teach the next generations but so that he would direct them. Second, God did not say that Abraham's descendants would follow God's laws. God said that Abraham would teach them and pass them down. Cooper is also being silly to think God was talking about the Mosaic laws - that was over 400 years later! Abraham was chosen to start a chosen nation.

14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. - Deuteronomy 10:14-15


The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. - Deuteronomy 7:7-9

Furthermore, if it were the case that Yahweh knew his laws would not stand up to scrutiny, why did he give them to his followers in the first place, knowing he would eventually send himself/his son to die a horrible death in order to revoke them? Where is the "Divine Knowledge" of Yahweh, when his knowledge (laws) have been cast aside by Christians? This is quite a conundrum.

The laws have not been revoked or cast aside. They have been fulfilled in Christ.  

16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,”[a] meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. - Galatians 3:16-18


Without knowledge there can be no wisdom, and without understanding, there is nothing at all. Yahweh is, to his own followers, "beyond their understanding" (Job 36:26) [and everyone's understanding] and therefore, he is, according to this belief, unable to even pass his knowledge to them. Instead, we have men who speak in his name. Men, who use Yahweh as a catalyst to manifest their own agendas to the demise of actual knowledge--not to its gain.

*Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, Volume 1,James Mill, John Stuart Mill, Alexander Bain, p. 446
_______________________

Cathy Cooper

Not true at all. God can and does pass His knowledge to those who trust in Him. No one has any excuse for not knowing God's laws. It's readily available. You can know what God's standard of holiness is. If you don't know, you can ask Him - and you will not stay the same. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. - James 1:5

If one is going to try to discredit the Bible, you should make sure to get the scripture correct.

Debunking Christianity: Divine Knowledge--Or the Lack Thereof
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18 comments:

  1. There is [sic] somethings you only know because someone told you - revealed it to you.
     
    In this case, you do not know it, per se, you only know that someone told you it
     
    that the Hebrew וְאֶרְאֶה translated by "see" carries with it no indication of  ignorance.
     
    You are missing the stem.  But why do you think “Learn about”, “find out” “discern” or “distinguish” do not imply a certain degree of initial ignorance? 
     
    God had already decided what He was going to do.  God wasn't asking Abraham, as an equal what He was going to do, but asking if He would let Abraham know.
     
    I think the text actually supports your point here.  However, you should never again use the cosmological argument in your apologetics, but I’m doubtful that you are smart enough to realize why…             
     

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  2. In this case, you do not know it, per se, you only know that someone told you it.

    So according to you, you can't be sure of your own name because someone told you.

    But why do you think “Learn about”, “find out” “discern” or “distinguish” do not imply a certain degree of initial ignorance?

    I provided 6 definitions. A better question is why do you think the Hebrew in Genesis 18:21 supports “Learn about”, “find out”, or “discern”? "distinguish" does not need to imply ignorance. God doesn't learn so I see no reason to think this is an appropriate understanding for the text.

    I think the text actually supports your point here. However, you should never again use the cosmological argument in your apologetics, but I’m doubtful that you are smart enough to realize why…

    I was smart enough to make a point that you have to agree that is supported by the text. But I don't think that believing in God's omniscience and sovereignty makes the cosmological argument out of bounds. I don't see how the Cosmological argument has anything against what I have written. I don't see what you are getting at but it might have more to do with your lack of intelligence rather than mind.

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  3. I don't see how the Cosmological argument has anything against what I have written.

    Of course you don't. Like I said...

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  4. Since you can't seem to explain the conflict of God's omniscience with the cosmological argument, I guess you don't know either. Big surprise.

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  5. Google Marcus, just use Google... LOL

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  6. Sure I know what to enter: "Ryan Anderson Pontificates"

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  7. Oooo...Nice comeback. You must of had help. I see no reason to even consider your musings as more than pontification (maybe you do know what it means since you were offended) if you can't be more specific about what you are talking about.

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  8. Marcus, I am never offended.

    But this is fun. Seriously, look up the cosmological argument and the five ways, review your comment and then report back.

    We'll see if Berkeley owes you an apology.

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  9. 1. Why don't you explain to me if you are referring to all of Aquinas' arguments or just one of them? I've heard of and read through those before. And "Cosmological Argument" can refer to more than one thing. Kind of classy to be so vague and assign lack of intelligence to me when you are being vague. Also holding me to Aquinas is silly because I don't hold to everything he did. Why would I? I do not even use all of the same arguments he does. And I'm willing to move this to another post because this is much more of a shift in subject with reference to this post.

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  10. Why don't you explain to me if you are referring to all of Aquinas' arguments or just one of them?

    Apparently you are unfamiliar with his five ways. Some apologist. You need google now more than ever.

    I do not even use all of the same arguments he does.

    Things you said here show that you do not even know his arguments. Read up.

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  11. Apparently you are unfamiliar with his five ways. Some apologist. You need google now more than ever.


    Obviously you don't know what you are talking about. Aquinas come up very often whenever you look into any philosophy or questions about God. I find that I do not agree with Aquinas on everything, but you seem to think I should have a problem because I should want to use his reasoning and for some reason to I shouldn't based on what I have written here. My time is limited. If you expect to actually be making a point, besides how vague and crass you can be, you should just state what your problem is. I'm familiar with Aquinas 5 ways and heard some lectures on them, but I would not say I rely on all of his arguments in the slightest for demonstrating the existence of God (which isn't the point of this post at all).

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  12. I would not say I rely on all of his arguments in the slightest for demonstrating the existence of God

    I think you would be surprised (you shouldn't be, if you were a real apologist) just what arguments you rely on that themselves rely on Aquinas. I quick perusal of your ridiculous labels shows there are a number.

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  13. 1. Who said I was an Apologist? I'm not entirely sure you know what an apologist is.
    2. And given that you are a reprobate unrepentant sinner, why do you think you know what an Apologist should know and how it should be expressesd?
    3. Covering the same subjects don't mean I have said the same things or contradictory things that Aquinas said?
    4. Christian Philosophy and Apologetics did not began with Aquinas but goes much farther. I see my argument being based on much earlier work that Aquinas himself had based some of his work on.
    5. You seem to have lost the whole point of the post. Either stop being vague and make your point you think needs to be made or admit that you have no point other than trying to demonstrate that you think I should know more about Aquinas (like what you think matters)

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  14. 1 because you pose as one on the internet?

    2 demonstrate that this thing called "sin" exists...

    3 you really have no idea what Aquinas impact on modern theology is. It's precious give #1...

    4 " I see my argument being based on much earlier work that Aquinas himself had based some of his work on. "

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! Yeah, no.

    5. No, I just enjoy seeing you flop around out of your depth.

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  15. 1 because you pose as one on the internet?

    I have never claimed the title. And let's not discuss what you pose as.

    2 demonstrate that this thing called "sin" exists...

    Sin is when we do anything that transgresses the laws of God. You have in previous interactions have admitted that you have indeed not lived up to those standards. Worse, you refuse to repent. That makes you a sinner.

    3 you really have no idea what Aquinas impact on modern theology is. It's precious give #1...

    What's precious is that God loves you even though you refuse to acknowledge it. What is tragic is that you think think you know more than I do about Aquinas and that it matters.

    4 " I see my argument being based on much earlier work that Aquinas himself had based some of his work on. "

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! Yeah, no.

    Uh, yes. You should google "Augustine", it will help you not be so ignorant.

    5. No, I just enjoy seeing you flop around out of your depth.

    So, you like to toss out vague, pointless arguments that add nothing to discussion and then accuse me of being out of my depth when I tell you are not meaningfully communicating. Yup, that makes a lot of sense. I sure hope God touches your heart and turns your brain on.

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  16. And let's not discuss what you pose as.

    Let's...

    Sin is when we do anything that transgresses the laws of God.

    Demonstrate that this thing called "laws of god" exists...

    What is tragic is that you think think you know more than I do about Aquinas...

    At this point, I know I do. And I don't know much...

    ...and that it matters.

    It doesn't.

    "Augustine"

    St. Augustine has nothing to do with what you argue and you know it. You are a fraud.

    So, you like to toss out vague, pointless arguments...

    The fact that you think it's "vague" is all we need to know...

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  17. I was arguing based on the sovereignty of God. Augustine wrote a book on it against Pelagius and you obviously shown just how totally ignorant you really are. My problem with Aquinas is that he didn't go as far as Austine or the Bible on such matters. And yes, you are being vague and like a child calling "I'm not going to tell you what I'm talking about and you don't know what I'm talking about so I'm smarter than you!" Real mature. It's all you have.

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