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In The End of Christianity John W. Loftus describes the following Christian belief which he finds very implausible:I have seen Loftus make this argument more than once on this blog and to be honest I don't see how rejecting Jesus, as Loftus continues to do, is any smarter. It's the same thing as what Satan did.
“That the highest created being known as Satan or the devil, led an angelic rebellion against an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipresent God … and expected to win. This makes Satan out to be suicidal, inexplicably evil, and dumber than a box of rocks.” (100)So how could any creature be so dumb as to rebel against the supreme omnibenevolent creator of the universe? John definitely has a point: that is definitely implausible.
Rauser has a valid point. If Satan was dumb enough to go against an omnipresent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God - the God of the Bible, and Loftus is declaring that he would not worship the God of the Bible, then why not come to the same conclusion that Rauser did. I'd say that everyone who rejects God has something wrong with them. And since we all have and only God's saving power has blessed some of us to see the truth of our own stupidity.
But now consider the following statement John made in his blog:
“If I was convinced Christianity is true and Jesus arose from the grave, and if I must believe in such a barbaric God, I would believe, yes, but I could still not worship such a barbaric God. I would fear such a Supreme Being, since he has such great power, but I’d still view him as a thug, a despicable tyrant, a devil in disguise; unless Christianity was revised.” [The source of this quote in context can be read here at the very end.]Let’s spend some time chewing on this passage.
According to Christianity, God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omnibenevolent (that is, perfectly good). And worship is, minimally, the ascription of proper worthship to that deity. Incredibly, if that being exists John will refuse to worship that being. Thus we can paraphrase John’s position as follows:
“If I was convinced that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omnibenevolent God existed I would refuse to recognize the worship of that perfectly good God and would instead treat him as a despicable tyrant.”Now wait a minute. John’s accusing Satan [Emphasis his] of being dumber than a box of rocks?
This is an uncharitable reading of Loftus. Charity would have us try to interpret him as saying that the God depicted in the Bible seems barbaric/despicable for letting certain things happen, and perhaps for actively doing certain things. Loftus is not saying he would go to battle with such a being and expect to win, which is what he attributes to Satan. He is simply saying he wouldn't worship him. Indeed he even says he would fear him (e.g., a despicable tyrant is not someone you fight, but someone you might privately fear).
This is a weak "gotcha" kind of thing.
You were eager to suggest John is “dumb as a box of rocks,” and figured out a way to do it: By reading without a reasonable measure of sophistication or honesty. Good luck with that.
John did not write “if I were a Christian.” John did not write “if God were omnibenevolent.” Had John written “If I was convinced God is omnibenevolent…God would be a barbaric, despicable, tyrant against whom I would rebel,” that would be inconsistent and difficult to defend. But that’s not what he wrote. You pay John the respect of assuming he’s not ignorant, why won’t you pay him the respect of assuming he chose to use particular words for a reason? To the extent those words may be ambiguous, why not read his words charitably (!) to determine the meaning he intended and argue against that meaning, instead of one you simply impose?
The initial, unstated question of the blog post was whether John would believe God exists if he was convinced “Christianity was true,” i.e., if he was convinced “Jesus arose from the grave[.]” The answer was yes, “I would believe, but I still could not worship such a barbaric God” because that God is demonstrably not omnibenevolent, rather he’s “a devil in disguise.” Would your position be any different had John had written: “If I was convinced [the fact claims of Christianity are] true and Jesus rose from the grave…I would believe, yes, but I could still not worship such a barbaric God[.]” (Do you see what I’ve been doing here? Using John’s actual words to determine what his other actual words were intended to mean? Ah, context.)
The charge stands: You are narrowly reading a single phrase from John’s post entirely out of context and according to your unilateral definition of a single word in that phrase, in an effort to demonstrate an inconsistency in John’s thinking. No such inconsistency exists.