Friday, May 30, 2008

An evil god


Paul C has thrown out some interesting thoughts on how we'd know it if the God of the Bible were actually evil. I had asked him 5 questions and he has responded.
This vein of argumentation is very similar to the ridiculous arguments fronted by the Pastafarians and even recently on the Jolly Nihilist's blog, where he plugs the Ethereal Cosmic Catfish. I've got a post on that topic rattling around in my head right now, but here's this for now:

Hi Paul C,
Kudos for originality. But demerits for changing the argument.
You are proposing an entirely alternative worldview, one that you made up ad hoc. Automatically, ad hoc worldviews get very little credit, and especially when they are so vaguely and poorly defined as what you have here. You clearly haven't even thought halfway thru this.
Also, you're not even proposing it; you're just arguing from the desire to be argumentative, much like the Church of the FSM. Lame. Defend your OWN worldview. Oh wait, you can't; never mind.

My FP is that TGOTB lives and is not silent. You're asking me, thus, whether The God of Not The Bible lives. No, he doesn't. And one can't pretend like this is part of my worldview, which you are doing.


1) I'm not suffering. In fact, I have a great deal of joy.
Why would I despair when I have so many good things in life already? He has given me a huge amount of blessings.

2) Is it you who are claiming that life is "unremitting misery"? Fine - that's YOUR view, and I'm sorry to hear it. It must suck to be you.
If the next life is even more atrocious and miserable, then why believe that God is evil at all? What good does it do? It's like atheism - if atheism is true, it is completely irrelevant to life. It makes 0 difference. None. Nada. There is NO existential or compelling reason to believe atheism is true if atheism is true. There is no reason to seek for true belief if atheism is true.

3) Based on what do you assert that humans have an "infinite capacity for suffering"? Your ad hoc, made-up worldview again?
And how do you know all this?
Also, since this deity is so evil, please explain how you could be sure that you knew the truth about him. Unless you believe seeking truth is intrinsically evil; in which case, one wonders why you're even arguing.

4) I said: How would you define "good" if God were evil?
You answered:
Subjectively, which is exactly the same way we would define "good" if God were good or if God did not exist.

Facts not in evidence. The former assertion has been disproven over and over again. Although I *am* very glad to see that you agree with me that, on atheism, "good" is defined subjectively, at its base. I won't forget that.

5) Atheism is NOT a viable option if what you're saying is true.
You need practice on this critiquing presuppositions stuff. You have alluvasudden switched back to who you really are - atheist Paul C - rather than continue to defend your fantasy worldview. That's OK - that's what I'm here for. Hopefully you'll take this as a useful lesson.

49 comments:

Paul C said...

Kudos for originality. But demerits for changing the argument.

The kudos goes to Stephen Law, not me. I changed the argument because you refused to answer one simple question - why are you so scared of the possibility that there is no objective morality?

My FP is that TGOTB lives and is not silent. You're asking me, thus, whether The God of Not The Bible lives. No, he doesn't. And one can't pretend like this is part of my worldview, which you are doing.

No, I'm not asking you that at all. I'm merely pointing out that the evil god:

a. has far greater explanatory power than the idea that your god is good, given the amount of suffering in the world,
b. means that you have no better claim to moral judgment, since you claim to have no metric for good and evil other than what your god tells you,
c. would happily fool you into thinking he was acting in your best interests, explaining why you have been tricked into believing that he is good,
d. fits equally all of the reasons that you have claimed for believing in a good god, including the argument from design.

I'm not suffering. In fact, I have a great deal of joy. Why would I despair when I have so many good things in life already? He has given me a huge amount of blessings.

All those things that bring you joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. You will watch your family and friends die, sometimes in agony. Your body will slowly fall apart in humiliating and painful ways. Your riches will prove to be worthless, your achievements meaningless, and you will realise this slowly as you stumble onwards. You have been given joy so that it can be stolen from you piece by piece.

If the next life is even more atrocious and miserable, then why believe that God is evil at all?

It doesn't matter what you believe about your god. However if lying to yourself about God's true nature gives you some relief from the torment, then by all means continue with the fantasy.

This is interesting, though. You're now asking for reasons why you should believe something - that your beliefs are based purely on how they can benefit you, rather than on whether they're true or not. It seems that we're quickly establishing that your belief is based on fear and self-interest, rather than on what's actually true.

Kyle said...

paul c said:.

"I'm merely pointing out that the evil god:

a. has far greater explanatory power than the idea that your god is good, given the amount of suffering in the world,"

Paul, for you to make such a comparison means you must know the extent of the explanatory power of both, unless you are overreaching your own knowledge. Would you please give a brief explanation of Christian theodicy and how God uses the evil that men and angels create to bring about his own good purposes. If you can't, then I advise you to familiarize yourself with these Christian doctrines before commenting on them in the future.

Cheers.

Paul C said...

Paul, for you to make such a comparison means you must know the extent of the explanatory power of both, unless you are overreaching your own knowledge.

This is meaningless. Explain to me what the "extent" of an explanation is.

Would you please give a brief explanation of Christian theodicy and how God uses the evil that men and angels create to bring about his own good purposes.

What would that demonstrate? The problem of evil (read, suffering) is solved completely if god is evil.

Kyle said...

Paul,

I can frame the question in a bullet point fashion which will help you define the extent of the explanatory power of Christian theodicy. (FYI, the extent of an explanation is the range of topics explained by the explanation which I am pretty sure you already knew.)

How does Christian theodicy explain:
1) The existence of human suffering
2) The purpose of human suffering
3) The solution to human suffering

and

How does God use the evil that men and angels create to accomplish good.
1) Provide a Christian example
2) Does the Christian God provide for all evil to be ultimately reconciled with His holy nature, if so when and how?

"What would that demonstrate?"

You claimed that an evil god has more explantory power than the Christian God does for the existence of evil. I am asking you to give your understanding of the Christian explanation for evil and its existence in relation to a holy God before claiming that the explanation does not have as much power to account for evil as the evil god.

Paul C said...

Kyle, thanks for clarifying in such depth. You seem to be suggesting that before anybody can be considered competent to discuss these issues, they must first provide you with a written essay on the topic of Christian theodicy around the problem of evil. This is sadly not the case.

I submit that you do not, in fact, want me to provide such a complete description, since that would fill volumes. Instead I would suggest that you are trying to attack my credibility rather than my argument, which looks to me like a genetic fallacy waiting to happen.

The problem (for you) is that it does not matter what the extent of the explanatory power of Christian theodicy is. The evil god hypothesis by definition accounts at least for the entire range of subjects covered by the standard Christian theodicy.

In addition, the evil god hypothesis resolves the entire problem of evil without the need for any of the metaphysical contortions we see in standard Christian accounts. Thus the evil god hypothesis inherently has greater explanatory power.

Rhology said...

has far greater explanatory power than the idea that your god is good, given the amount of suffering in the world,

Since it can't answer the question of how it would tell apart good and evil, it doesn't even get close. It can't even make the most fundamental, basic distinction, by your own admission.
Might as well stop the argument there.

Kyle said...

Paul,
To clarify, I asked for a brief explanation not an essay or volumes. My question was designed to test your competence to address the question of evil in relation to the Christian God. I would have been satisfied with a simple explanation that includes major elements of Christian theodicy.

My concern is that you have given the requisite time to understand how evil is resolved in the Christian worldview before deciding whether such and such a view explains something 'better'. The Christian answer, as you alluded, is robust and carries philosophical and theological weight. I personally find the answers compelling.

An evil god hypothesis does not have any direct evidence, only speculation that the scriptures were written by an evil god. For me, that is hardly good reason to consider it likely. I admit it is 'possible' that an evil god exists, however there is no compelling reason to think so given the evidence for the Christian God and the satisfactory resolution of the problem of evil with the Christian God.

Paul C said...

Since it can't answer the question of how it would tell apart good and evil, it doesn't even get close.

In that regard, it's exactly the same as your assertion that God is good.

Paul C said...

My question was designed to test your competence to address the question of evil in relation to the Christian God.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my reply, then. In this discussion, you have neither the authority or the grounds to grade my competence on this issue. Deal with the argument, or don't deal with it; it's really that simple.

The Christian answer, as you alluded, is robust and carries philosophical and theological weight. I personally find the answers compelling.

There is no "Christian answer" - you may have noticed that the answers proposed have changed over time, from Aquinas through to Plantinga - there is no "Christian answer". What answers have been provided are not, in fact, compelling; the evidence is that theologians continue not just to write about it, but to write different things about it. If there was a "compelling" answer, why would they?

An evil god hypothesis does not have any direct evidence, only speculation that the scriptures were written by an evil god.

You have missed the point. An evil god is equally supported by all the arguments that you make for a good god - all the evidence that supports the good Christian god supports the evil god hypothesis equally. In addition an evil god resolves the problem of suffering finally and with a simple answer - we suffer because God enjoys our suffering. Thus, it has greater explanatory power, and on balance you should probably accept it as being more likely.

Rintintin said...

An evil god hypothesis does not have any direct evidence, only speculation that the scriptures were written by an evil god.

well Rhology was the one that said (words to the effect) that God is capable of evil.

As soon as this concession is made, there is no longer any way to determine if God's actions are genuinely good or evil under the pretense of good, since the only say so we have is from God (kind of analagous to a criminal declaring their own innocence as proof of their innocence ie circular reasoning)

PS - Rho, I have nearly finished reading Gee and have been writing a brief review - I will post it on a blogger.com page I have set up and you can cross link to it if you like

Rhology said...

Paul C,

Kyle has dealt with your argument by questioning your presuppositions regarding what evil is and, more specifically, by questioning whether you have sufficient knowledge to conduct an internal critique of the Christian worldview.
3 weeks ago I would have said you might have sufficient knowledge, but your comments have become increasingly bizarre and irrelevant of late; so I'd like to see that explanation of the Christian theodicy myself. Atheism is not the default position before which everyone must bow in order to receive the gold star and blue ribbon of "Rashunal".

There is no "Christian answer" - you may have noticed that the answers proposed have changed over time, from Aquinas through to Plantinga - there is no "Christian answer".

It may have changed in its peripherals and the details of specificity, but it has not changed in foundation.
I'll give you a hint - the Fall of Man.


What answers have been provided are not, in fact, compelling

To you.
Proof is not the same as persuasion. You are a case in point.

the evidence is that theologians continue not just to write about it, but to write different things about it. If there was a "compelling" answer, why would they?

B/c it is very rich and incorporates many angles.
Man's relation to God. God's to man. Man's to man. God's to angels. Angels' to God. Angels' to man. Man's to angels. Man's to the environment. The environment's to man. The environment's to man. The environment's to God. Etc.

An evil god is equally supported by all the arguments that you make for a good god

Except for the ones that I gave which you haven't dealt with. This is the Flying Spaghetti Monster fallacy. You have the onus to provide an argument FOR your alternate, ad hoc, fantasy worldview.

In addition an evil god resolves the problem of suffering finally and with a simple answer - we suffer because God enjoys our suffering.

And completely fails to address how we know what good and evil are and why we have joy and happiness and peace.


RTT said:
there is no longer any way to determine if God's actions are genuinely good or evil under the pretense of good, since the only say so we have is from God

Yes, the God Who is truth and Who does not lie.

(kind of analagous to a criminal declaring their own innocence as proof of their innocence ie circular reasoning)

Only, God is not a criminal.
You're attempting an internal critique of Christianity. I'm responding to you therefrom.
The fact that you have to presuppose the truth of Christianity in order to make any rational critique of ANYthing kind of waters down your protestations.

Peace,
Rhology

Rintintin said...

Only, God is not a criminal.
You're attempting an internal critique of Christianity.


I'm responding to you therefrom.
The fact that you have to presuppose the truth of Christianity in order to make any rational critique of ANYthing kind of waters down your protestations.


I beg to differ on this, but don't have the time or stomach for writing about it just now. I will refer to John Frame on the matter for the time being, in response to the question how we know TGOTB 'illumines our minds' with the self-evident nature of his existence?

Mysterious though the process may be, somehow God illumines the human mind to discern the divine source of the Word. We know without knowing how we know.

Interesting. Makes it seem as solid as, say, a figment of the imagination...

and as to how we know scripture is true and that God did indeed communicate with the writers and compilers of the bible?

A parallel would be the evangelical doctrine of biblical inspiration: we know that Scripture is God’s Word, but we know very little about the process by which God inspires the biblical writers and texts.

Wow. Again, we just know. We believe it, so it must be true.

Even better, in the same article Frame gives an example (section 4) of a man believing nonsense which he describes as a ridiculous worldview because he's trying to fit everything around his starting assumption.

He will not believe anything that disagrees with his presupposition

I did wonder if he was aware of the irony of what he was saying when he was writing that?

So one of the foremost proponents of your viewpoint bases the entire starting premise basically along the lines of 'I want it to be true, so it must be'. Hopefully those quotes give an indication of why we find PA hard to take seriously.

Anyways,

Yes, I'm aware God is not a criminal - it's an analogy Rho...

I just don't get this - you were the one who agreed that God was capable of evil. So, if he is capable of evil we now have quite a big problem. You then use circular reasoning to decide God is good

I'll try looking at it in the simplest possible way I can think of

I believe TGOTB exists, and has various characteristics, one of which is that TGOTB is capable of evil (based on what you said)

He tells me he is good in the bible

but he is capable of evil, so how do i know he's not lying/tricking me?

because he says so in the bible

but wait - he is capable of evil, so how do I know he's not lying tricking me when he says he's good the bible?

because he ...

and so on x infinite

Rhology said...

Does the evil god of your imagination ever tell the truth? When? For what reason? How can you know?

Rintintin said...

Does the evil god of your imagination ever tell the truth? When? For what reason? How can you know?

this is exactly the point - this is the god you have described ie the one with the capability of evil. Paul and I have both asked how you determine whether he's being good or evil, without lapsing into the chain of circular reasoning I just laid out (it's not the god of my imagination - this is the God you are claiming actually exists).

even without the problem of the capacity for evil, the 'god of imagination' is the other part of your problem - how do John Frame et al 'just know that they know'. Would he be able to 'know' this without ever having first heard of or read the bible? How did the biblical writers determine it was God and not just their own imaginations talking to them?

Neither of these are my problems to deal with since I dont believe in either TGOTB in good or evil versions, but your entire worldview is founded on the premise of humans being able to 'just know' of the existence of TGOTB without any foreknowledge of the bible by some as yet unexplained means, that appears to be no more than already knowing the bible's contents then claiming it to be self-evident after the fact.

Rhology said...

Your argument is dead in the water.
this is the god you have described ie the one with the capability of evil.

No I haven't described Him that way. I said He is capable of DOING evil.
And that evil He is capable of doing is very narrowly defined, biblically. It is in judgment of evildoers and the twistedness of fallen creation. Better said, it SEEMS evil to us, seems catastrophic. It is not evil, fundamentally.

this is the God you are claiming actually exists

B/c you're arguing against a strawman, that's why I say it's of your imagination.

how do John Frame et al 'just know that they know'.

That's not exactly how I'd put it.
I know b/c I know, yes, but I'm convinced b/c of the impossibility of the contrary. "THe contrary" in this case is your position, and if that's all there is, I know even better than I did yesterday.

Would he be able to 'know' this without ever having first heard of or read the bible?

Not nearly as well, no.
Everyone knows certain things about God, that He exists, that He has a law, etc, but nothing nearly so detailed as what's in the Bible.

How did the biblical writers determine it was God and not just their own imaginations talking to them?

They may or may not have known that, but it's irrelevant. God is speaking there.

your entire worldview is founded on the premise of humans being able to 'just know' of the existence of TGOTB without any foreknowledge of the bible by some as yet unexplained means

I think you're overstating the case a bit.

Now, would you mind answering my questions?


Peace,
Rhology

Paul C said...

Kyle has dealt with your argument by questioning your presuppositions regarding what evil is and, more specifically, by questioning whether you have sufficient knowledge to conduct an internal critique of the Christian worldview.

No, he hasn't. If you are resorting to this as a last-ditch defense, it won't wash. Either deal with the argument, or don't. I want to see you deal, but I would guess from your responses that I've planted a seed of doubt in your minds. Is your God evil? You'll never know - you've given away any chance you had of finding out.

Proof is not the same as persuasion. You are a case in point.

As I have pointed out, Christian writers continue to grapple with the problem of suffering to this day. It is irrelevant how many different angles there are, since they are not in fact discussing different angles ("Okay Plantinga, I'll take the environment-God position, you take the man-environment position"). If there was a single compelling answer, then they would not need to. If you have a problem with the arguments not being compelling enough, I suggest you take it up with them.

[An evil god] completely fails to address how we know what good and evil are and why we have joy and happiness and peace.

Unfortunately it does address them - using exactly the same reasoning as your "good God". We know what good and evil are in exactly the same way as we do in the case of your hypothetical "good God" - if you believe that the good God is sufficient to provide us with an objective morality, then an evil God does exactly the same thing. The reason that the evil God gives us joy and happiness and peace, I have already described - it's to make our suffering even worse by giving us something positive to compare it to and hope which can be dashed.

Does the evil god of your imagination ever tell the truth? When? For what reason? How can you know?

He's not from our imagination, but from your imagination. He's your God - and you can never, ever know whether he's telling the truth, because you've already told us that you've given up your independent judgment of good and evil.

Prove to me that the God you worship isn't the evil God?

Rhology said...

Paul C said:

Either deal with the argument, or don't.

Not without your fleshing out how you know what is evil. It's an essential fulcrum for the question.
We've seen your inability to answer that before; you're unable to cast the question anyway. You have no foundation to express the premise.

Christian writers continue to grapple with the problem of suffering to this day

What do I care what others grapple with?


It is irrelevant how many different angles there are, since they are not in fact discussing different angles ("Okay Plantinga, I'll take the environment-God position, you take the man-environment position").

Assertion minus an argument.

If there was a single compelling answer, then they would not need to.

Proof is not the same as persuasion.

Unfortunately it does address them - using exactly the same reasoning as your "good God".

How? I keep asking you how you know these and you just repeat yourself.

We know what good and evil are in exactly the same way as we do in the case of your hypothetical "good God" - if you believe that the good God is sufficient to provide us with an objective morality, then an evil God does exactly the same thing.

How does it do so?

it's to make our suffering even worse by giving us something positive to compare it to and hope which can be dashed.

Which doesn't answer the question as I've pointed out.

Prove to me that the God you worship isn't the evil God?

Mind answering the question I've already posed several times?
Does the evil god of your imagination ever tell the truth? When? For what reason? How can you know?

Also, why are you so willing to give up your atheism for the sake of this idea?

Paul C said...

Does the evil god of your imagination ever tell the truth? When? For what reason? How can you know?

I think that by now everybody here apart from you has realised that I'm not talking about the "evil god of your imagination" - I'm talking about your god. It's a thought experiment, and here's how it works.

An evil god answers all the same questions that a good god does and answers the evidential problem of suffering without any need for convoluted theology. Furthermore, all the arguments that you make about god apply equally to an evil god as to a good god (the argument from design, for example).

I believe that without an independent metric for good and evil, you can never know if you are worshiping a good or evil god. So the answers to your questions are possibly, who knows, who knows, and you can't - unless you have a way of determining good and evil independently of god.

So now I've answered your questions, and I'm asking you to prove that the god you worship isn't evil. Give it a try - I look forward to hearing your arguments, and I promise that I will answer each of them as best as I can.

Kyle said...

"I believe that without an independent metric for good and evil, you can never know if you are worshiping a good or evil god."

Paul,
Your belief that you can't know if God is good or evil without an external measure sets up an impossible standard for knowing the truth of any factual matter. You can't know 'A' by virtue of first hand experience of it, you have to know it relative to something else, measurement 'B'. But you can't know measurement 'B' without comparing it to measurement 'C'. But you can't know 'C' without comparing it to measurement 'D'...etc. At some point, you have to know by virtue of the thing itself. God is the source of good and when you know Him, you know goodness first hand and you don't need a reference point. You would have to deny that it is possible to know God first hand which is a universal negative and therefore unprovable.

A simple example of this kind of knowing from daily life:

You: "Is your wife a serial killer?"

Me: "No."

You: "How do you know?"

Me: "She is loving, kind, generous, honest, forgiving, patient, sweet, gentle and not argumentative. I know she does not have the capacity to murder people. She also denies it and there is no material evidence."

You: "But do you have video footage of her every move since the day she was old enough to kill someone?"

Me: "Irrelevant. I have sufficient knowledge based on her objective character which I have observed."

You: "But it is possible that she is a serial killer because you can't prove she isn't."

Me: "It is possible but so unlikely that I dismiss it. In fact it is beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt."

You: "It is just as likely that she is a serial killer as the sweet woman you described. It is about 50/50. In fact it explains as much of her behavior as her being sweet plus it explains why sometimes she makes meatloaf because secretly she is a horrendously evil, vidictive, serial killer."

Me: "Rubbish. Have you been watching too much telly?"

It is similar with God only I have even more reason to trust him because the level of character he has demonstrated is far more than any human.

-Kyle

Paul C said...

You can't know 'A' by virtue of first hand experience of it, you have to know it relative to something else, measurement 'B'. But you can't know measurement 'B' without comparing it to measurement 'C'. But you can't know 'C' without comparing it to measurement 'D'...etc.

This fits perfectly the hypothesis that morality is subjective, the product of heuristic processes shaped by social pressures.

At some point, you have to know by virtue of the thing itself. God is the source of good and when you know Him, you know goodness first hand and you don't need a reference point.

First, that thing does not have to be external; I know what hunger is purely based on my own experience. It is entirely possible that morality is like hunger, the product of uncontrolled physical processes operating on my consciousness.

Second, the second sentence is a non sequitur from the first. Even if you do have to know virtue itself, it does not automatically follow that your God is your only source of knowledge of that virtue.

Third, even if your God is your only source of knowledge of that virtue, you have no way of knowing that you are correct about the true character of your God. If God is in fact evil, it is entirely possible - entirely likely, in fact - that God is deliberately deceiving you about his true character. Like Rhology, you have no way of demonstrating that your god is not evil because you refuse to apply any independent measure.

A simple example of this kind of knowing from daily life:

This is indeed a stupid example that demonstrates the opposite of what you think it does. The key statement is that "there is no material evidence" that she is a serial killer. In the case of God, there is an overwhelming amount of material evidence that suffering exists and that (at best) God does nothing to alleviate it and (at worst) God is directly implicated in causing it.

This is the entire point of the evidential problem of suffering, Kyle. The evil god hypothesis resolves the problem of suffering; the good god hypothesis only compounds it. I welcome any refutations of the evil god hypothesis, but so far neither you or Rhology have been prepared to address it. Give it a try; I promise that if you successfully refute it, I will concede that I am wrong.

It is similar with God only I have even more reason to trust him because the level of character he has demonstrated is far more than any human.

God has given me no reason to trust him - has given me very little reason to think that God exists - and thus your argument has no force in discussion with others.

Kyle said...

Paul,

Your argument for the evil God seems to be:

1. An all-good God must have a good purpose for everything.
2. There is no good purpose for some suffering.
3. Therefore, there cannot be an all-good God (or an evil one exists).

Premise 2 is false in the Christian worldview because God has a good purpose for all things. Christianity is internally consistent with regard to God and suffering. The answer to the above argument is this:

1. An omnibenevolent God has a good purpose for everything.
2. There is some evil (suffering) for which we see no good purpose.
3. Therefore, there is a good purpose for all evil, even if we do not see it.

You might want to argue that 1 is still in question but not in the Christian worldview. The evidence for the Christian God is primarily what is revealed in scripture and secondarily through nature.

If the statements that God is good are false, the bible is an unreliable book. If the bible is an unreliable book, any statements about the existence of God should not be believed. Also, there is no basis for speculation that he has a hidden evil identity. Therefore, if God is not good, there is no reason to think anything the Bible says is true and no speculation about an evil god makes sense from a book that is not true.

But, the bible is actually reliable so we rightly conclude that God has a good purpose for all the suffering he allows.

Paul C said...

Your argument for the evil God seems to be:

No, this is not my argument at all. My arguments for an evil god are exactly the same as your arguments are exactly the same as your arguments for a good god - argument from design, objective morality, etc - except that my hypothesis also solves the evidential problem of suffering completely without any unnecessary philosophical contortions.

If the statements that God is good are false, the bible is an unreliable book.

I believe that you're starting to understand.

Also, there is no basis for speculation that he has a hidden evil identity.

The evidential problem of suffering strongly supports the hypothesis that God is evil rather than good.

Therefore, if God is not good, there is no reason to think anything the Bible says is true and no speculation about an evil god makes sense from a book that is not true.

Speculation about evil God is not based on the bible, but on the evidential problem of suffering.

But, the bible is actually reliable so we rightly conclude that God has a good purpose for all the suffering he allows.

Non sequitur - nothing you have argued prior to this statement supports the argument that the bible is reliable.

In fact, up to this point, you have been making a very good argument that the bible is not reliable. This also supports the hypothesis that God is evil, since by making the bible unreliable he has caused huge amounts of doubt and conflict, as well as forcing humans to waste large portions of their life in futile theological debates.

Your god is very clever, as well as very evil.

Rhology said...

1) You haven't answered my questions.

2) For the information of those reading, this is nothing more than a Flying Spaghetti Monster critique.

3) How do you define "evil" if you presuppose this worldview? Come to think of it, you haven't answered that either. You just said that it's "subjective", whatever that means. And the implications are crippling for your argument. You're looking less and less able as you continue here, Paul C.

Peace,
Rhology

Paul C said...

1) You haven't answered my questions.

I did write answers to all of them, but then I realised that there wasn't much point in posting them. Sorry about that.

2) For the information of those reading, this is nothing more than a Flying Spaghetti Monster critique.

No, it's significantly more than that. I am not positing a made-up god - I am positing exactly the same god as you, except this version fits the evidence better - the evidence being the problem of suffering.

3) How do you define "evil" if you presuppose this worldview?

In exactly the same way as you define evil, except in reverse. It's your worldview.

You're looking less and less able as you continue here, Paul C.

I notice that you have not yet tried to refute the evil god hypothesis directly - instead you are dancing around it. Give it a try, Rhology. I promise that if you can provide a sucessful argument for good god that does not also apply to evil god, I will shut up.

Rhology said...

Paul C said:
I did write answers to all of them, but then I realised that there wasn't much point in posting them. Sorry about that.

I'm going to have to insist that you answer them. Give it a try. It shouldn't hurt that bad.
Does the evil god of your imagination ever tell the truth? When? For what reason? How can you know?
Also, why are you so willing to give up your atheism for the sake of this idea (since this is not MY worldview, after all. TGOTB tells the truth and is good, not evil)?

If you *ARE* giving up atheism for the sake of this evil god idea, the answers to the preceding questions will go a long way to showing whether it's a worldview worth embracing or if it's like Hinduism or atheism, w/o rational foundation.
If are NOT giving up atheism but are rather just making this up as you go along, why should I waste my time engaging a made-up worldview?

Paul C said...

I see that, once again, you're scared to answer my (very simple) question. This apologetics stuff doesn't seem to work so well when you can't copy the answers out of a book somewhere.

Does the evil god of your imagination ever tell the truth?

It's not the "evil god of my imagination" - it's exactly the same god as yours, but one that fits the evidence better.

When? For what reason? How can you know?

You can't know when and you can't know the reason. Perhaps he lies all the time, although that seems unlikely - then it would be consistent, and remove the torment of uncertainty.

Also, why are you so willing to give up your atheism for the sake of this idea (since this is not MY worldview, after all. TGOTB tells the truth and is good, not evil)?

Unfortunately it is your worldview. You cannot know that your god tells the truth the whole time, unless you claim that your knowledge of god is perfect. You cannot know if your god is good or evil for exactly the same reason, and because the only yardstick you have to judge whether god is good or evil is what he tells you - you yourself acknowledge that you have given up any independent measure of good and evil.

If are NOT giving up atheism but are rather just making this up as you go along, why should I waste my time engaging a made-up worldview?

It's not a made-up worldview - it's your worldview. Every single argument you have for the existence of good god applies to evil god.

Now that I've answered your questions, I'm sure you'll answer mine. Provide me with an argument that the god you worship is good rather than evil.

Here's a prediction: you'll keep trying to dodge the question.

Rhology said...

One that fits the evidence better? As if you have any idea how to define "evil", as an atheist.

If you take on MY worldview to define it, you lose the argument anyway.

And if you can't know whether this evil god ever tells the truth, you also lose. This worldview you've made up has gone the way of the FSM - it is self-refuting where it deviates substantially from the Christian worldview. How do you know this god is evil if he never tells the truth or you don't know if he does?

Nice talking to you. The dead horse will be here all year for beating if you want.

Paul C said...

Guess my prediction was right.

How do you know this god is evil if he never tells the truth or you don't know if he does?

The evidential problem of evil.

Nice talking to you. The dead horse will be here all year for beating if you want.

You really want to leave it there? You want to leave it so that every single visitor that comes to this blog in future sees that you won't present a single argument that you worship a good god? You want to leave it so that every single visitor sees you walk away from discussions when they get difficult? You want to leave it so that every single visitor wonders why, when he was presented with a perfect opportunity to witness to the glory of God, Rhology just - gave up?

It's an interesting approach to apologetics, but I'm not sure it will catch on.

Paul C said...

Kyle, I am genuinely interested to see if you have any arguments which address the evil god hypothesis. Even if Rhology isn't prepared to address this question, I hope that you will, and I promise to give them a fair hearing and full answer.

Kyle said...

Paul,
The evil god hypothesis is not a worldview that can stand on its own. It is a twisting of concepts stolen from Christianity which are then used to attack it.

"The evidential problem of evil."

This is not necessarily evidence for an evil god. It could as well be evidence for Atheism (evil doesn't exist), or TGOTB (God has a good plan for allowing evil and suffering to exist).

"In the case of God, there is an overwhelming amount of material evidence that suffering exists and that (at best) God does nothing to alleviate it and (at worst) God is directly implicated in causing it."

This is a false dilemma that is solved by TGOTB. Suffering has a good purpose and God did not cause evil. Suffering is a result of the Fall. You deny the answers the bible gives and then claim that they are insufficient by pretending they don't exist.

"It's not a made-up worldview - it's your worldview. Every single argument you have for the existence of good god applies to evil god."

The bible does not count as evidence for an evil god. 99.99% of the evidence for TGOTB is in the bible. So .01% of the evidence for God barely fits your evil god hypothesis as long as you steal the foundation that God exists from Christianity. You have to find a new source of information about your pet demon because you can only decide two things from the bible: 1) God is good and holy or 2) the bible is not a true book. If the bible is not true but it claims to be 100% truthful, then you can have no confidence in anything it says about god. If any part of it is false, the WHOLE THING IS FALSE.

The problem with your evil god hypothesis is that it is a parasite worldview off the Christian worldview but it kills itself by disconnecting logically from the host. RIP next to the FSM. Once it denies the truthfulness of the bible it can no longer borrow any information about God from it.

So to recap, the arguments for the evil god are:
1) Teleology
2) Existence of evil

1) Teleology points to intellegence that was responsible for the universe. It does not tell us that God is Jehovah and that His Son is Jesus or that your pet demon exists.

Rho said it before: you have no foundation for premise 2 because you don't have evidence that the evil god exists, whereas there is much evidence that TGOTB does.

Do you have any arguments for your evil god that I did not address?

I will predict your response like you did to Rho. You will deny that the bible is evidence for God and then you will borrow again from the Christian worldview to try to attack it. Who knows maybe you will drop this line of attack and spend some time asking yourself why, if He exists, would you be so angry at a Holy God as to blaspheme His Word and defame His character?

Paul C said...

Kyle, thanks for responding.

[The evidential problem of evil] is not necessarily evidence for an evil god. It could as well be evidence for Atheism (evil doesn't exist), or TGOTB (God has a good plan for allowing evil and suffering to exist).

All of the arguments that you put forward for the existence of god apply equally whether god is good or evil. The evidential problem of evil is evidence against good god, which is solved by recognising that god is evil. My point is that evil god is the god of the bible - it's just that you've been fooled into thinking that he's good, which is exactly what you'd expect from evil god. Of course evil god would want you to think that he's good - otherwise he wouldn't be able to fool you into worshipping him.

This is a false dilemma that is solved by TGOTB. Suffering has a good purpose and God did not cause evil. Suffering is a result of the Fall.

I'm not denying that suffering is the result of the Fall, but all the problems that are commonly identified in the Fall narrative are completely resolved by the recognition that God is evil. You say that suffering has a good purpose, and I agree - it's for the entertainment of evil god. Thus the evil god hypothesis has greater explanatory power than good god, since you can't offer me any explanation of the suffering under good god.

The bible does not count as evidence for an evil god. 99.99% of the evidence for TGOTB is in the bible. So .01% of the evidence for God barely fits your evil god hypothesis as long as you steal the foundation that God exists from Christianity.

This sounds like a number that you have made up to make your case look stronger than it is. I don't think you need to do that. (Incidentally, Christianity stole the foundation that God exists from Judaism - does that mean Jews can dismiss your arguments without addressing them?)

You have to find a new source of information about your pet demon because you can only decide two things from the bible: 1) God is good and holy or 2) the bible is not a true book.

Or 3 - the bible was written specifically to persuade humans that evil God is good and holy in order to get them to worship him. You'd hardly worship an evil god, would you?

If the bible is not true but it claims to be 100% truthful, then you can have no confidence in anything it says about god.

Exactly. Which is exactly what you'd expect from an evil god - a strategy which deliberately undermines your confidence.

If any part of it is false, the WHOLE THING IS FALSE.

No. If god is evil, you would expect the bible to be a mixture of truth and falsehood, since confusion creates more suffering than consistency.

Once it denies the truthfulness of the bible it can no longer borrow any information about God from it.

No, this argument doesn't deny the truthfulness of what the bible reports. You can believe everything that the Bible says historically, but once you recognise that God is evil, it removes the need for 90% (oh look, a made-up number) of theological arguments. Most theology is simply a desperate struggle to reconcile problems or clarify issues raised by the bible - which is exactly what you'd expect if evil god was behind the bible, since he would prize obscurity and confusion over clarity and certainty.

Rho said it before: you have no foundation for premise 2 because you don't have evidence that the evil god exists, whereas there is much evidence that TGOTB does.

The evidential problem of suffering is clearly evidence that TGOTB is evil rather than good. You have yet to refute the problem of suffering with any substantial arguments - you keep insisting that there is a "plan" with "good reasons" for all this suffering, but are unable to explain what that plan is or how it works. The evil god hypothesis tells us exactly what that plan is - it is simply to cause suffering for his entertainment - and thus has greater explanatory power, which was my initial point.

I will predict your response like you did to Rho. You will deny that the bible is evidence for God and then you will borrow again from the Christian worldview to try to attack it.

Sadly I must prove your prediction wrong. The bible is evidence for God, but it is evidence for both good god and evil god. I think that you are still missing my central point. Every single argument that you put forward for good god also supports the existence of evil god; however evil god also resolves the problem of suffering completely, and thus has greater explanatory power than good god.

I realise that this post was a bit long, but as far as I can tell, the evil god hypothesis not only withstands each of the counter-arguments that you made, but actually explains them better than the good god hypothesis. I'd be interested to hear your responses.

Rintintin said...

"Your argument for the evil God seems to be:

1. An all-good God must have a good purpose for everything.
2. There is no good purpose for some suffering.
3. Therefore, there cannot be an all-good God (or an evil one exists)."

I think it's better summarised like this:

a) we are aware a god exists
b) it has allowed us awareness of its attributes
c) it has revealed itself further via the scenarios described in the bible

at some point covered by a and b, but before c, you have to be able to determine how you differentiate between an actual good god, and a god simply making you aware of false attributes. How do you do this?

reference to the bible is no use, as this is really just an expansion of b, and sheds no light on how you are able to differentiate, as it just ends up in the circular process I described before. Remember there is nothing logically inconsistent about an evil, uncaring, lying God. In fact, it would probably explain a lot more about the actions of the biblical God than the good version, but that's just my opinion.

Rhology attempts to do it by again falling into the trap of circularity by explaining it via the bible:

No I haven't described Him that way. I said He is capable of DOING evil.
And that evil He is capable of doing is very narrowly defined, biblically. It is in judgment of evildoers and the twistedness of fallen creation. Better said, it SEEMS evil to us, seems catastrophic. It is not evil, fundamentally.


First of all this is a blatant goalpost shift, seeing as I'm guessing you realise what the consequences of your concession that your God is capable of evil has brought about.

Second - you are a presuppositionalist, which means God imparts awareness of his existence into your mind (by some as yet unexplained means). You have to be able to explain how you are able to work out if this communication from God is good, or lies in the guise of goodness (we'll ignore the fact that either could just be your imagination for the time being). So how do you do it other than wishing it to be true?

Finally, referring to the bible is fairly meaningless until you work this out because of the problem of circularity that I described several posts earlier.

Rhology said...

RTT, are you ever going to answer the basic questions I asked?

Rintintin said...

RTT, are you ever going to answer the basic questions I asked?

Does the evil god of your imagination ever tell the truth? When? For what reason? How can you know?

Apologies, I forgot to do this before and they got a little lost in amongst the jumble (assuming you mean these ones of course).

in order, if such a God existed:

1. He might do - we have no way of knowing
2. See above
3. He may do so to set us up for a greater fall later on
4. See 1.

But these are not my problems - the problem is yours as I am not self-evidently aware of the existence of any gods, good or evil. Since John Frame told us - 'we just know we know' (of the existence of God and his attributes), perhaps you can explain what he couldn't and tell us how to differentiate between imagination, a good God or an evil God fooling you into thinking he is good without lapsing into circularity.

Rhology said...

But if this evil god is TGOTB, then that means he is our only ground for epistemology. You're trying to reinterp my worldview, remember? You have to deal with it ALL.

And that's why I asked those questions.

-Does the evil god of your imagination ever tell the truth? When?
--He might.


How do you know when he does and when he doesn't?
More specifically - how do you know *that* he doesn't always tell the truth?
Did he tell you? How do you know he wasn't lying?
Did you figure it out from other sources of info? How do you know he didn't set THOSE up to lie to you?


-For what reason?
--He may do so to set us up for a greater fall later on


How do you know that? And how do you know that your rational, cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing thoughts that correspond to reality, if this god, who is the only epistemic foundation available to you, might lie?
This worldview you've set up is self-refuting. It's like the FSM but more obvious.


how to differentiate between imagination, a good God or an evil God fooling you into thinking he is good without lapsing into circularity.

A really good way is to realise that my worldview is not self-refuting while this one that you've imagined is.

Peace,
Rhology

Kyle said...

Paul,
Your assertion, which I did not miss, is that all arguments that apply to my God, also apply to the evil god you have imagined. I tried to show you according to your terms that the bible cannot be used for evidence of your evil god because a false book should be discarded and not be used for building a worldview.

The biblical answer to the problem of evil is to call us to account for our own sin and to expose the fact that we have no right to question the character of a holy God. Who are you O man who questions God? I should have made this clear from the start but I am a little rusty at apologetics. Surely you know that you habitually do things the bible calls sin and if you doubt that, God help you for you are thoroughly blind. Since you are a sinner you have neither the capacity nor the right to judge your Judge.

The following link is a very good biblical response to the problem of evil. Please read it.

http://www.thirdmill.org/files/english/html/th/TH.h.Frame.ProblemofEvil.htm

Kyle said...

http://www.thirdmill.org/
files/english/html/th/TH.h.
Frame.ProblemofEvil.htm

Link got truncated. Try again.

Rintintin said...

Rhology, you seem to be gradually getting further and further away from the point - you are obviously aware that my worldview does not utilise any God as a founding principle. Yours does, as you claim to be self-evidently aware of a God. If a lying, self-evident God did indeed exist, then you are right, there would be no way anyone could determine its motives.

The reason we argue against your claim that God is self-evident, is not because a God couldn't exist, but because to say it is self-evident generates a lot of further questions, such as the evil god/imagination scenarios. I'm well aware you don't believe your God is evil, but to be a PA you have to assume you would be aware of God even if the bible did not exist.

Now, I'm guessing if one of the foremost proponents of apologetics (Frame) can't explain how exactly we are aware of this apparently self-evident fact, it offers no better explanation of the world than wishful thinking does. Because the whole premise of the bible in your view is based on the fact that God can make people aware of his existence (since if he doesn't the bible is merely a storybook/history lesson), we need to know this is actually true and not just imagination.

If we grant that a deity is indeed beaming awareness of its existence directly into our brains, it's also worth asking (as this thread has done at length), how do we make the differentiation between good and evil masquerading as good if we nothing of how the deity does this without yet again taking the circular route of justifying it biblically?

A really good way is to realise that my worldview is not self-refuting while this one that you've imagined is.

Incorrect - because every time you've tried to explain why God is good, you've dropped into circular reference to the bible or simply asserting you know he is. You have to explain the problem prior to asserting that the word in the bible is good - this is the whole point of being a presuppositionalist. Because if you refer to the bible first, then draw the conclusion God is good, you have to be relying on other assumptions first.

then that means he is our only ground for epistemology.

This thread is a good reason why I don't think a God is a good grounds for epistemology - because you can't separate the idea from imagination or explain the good/evil conundrum without without lapsing into claims that are purely personal preferences or circularity.

Anyways, I've said my bit, so I think I'll leave this thread alone now as it's getting somewhat repetitive now.

Paul C said...

But if this evil god is TGOTB, then that means he is our only ground for epistemology.

The argument that god is the only grounds for epistemology makes no distinction as to whether god is good or evil.

How do you know when he does and when he doesn't?

If you have no way to independently judge good and evil, you wouldn't ever be able to be sure of anything. If God was evil, this is exactly what you would expect, since it would generate uncertainty, anguish and conflict - all the things that an evil god would take pleasure in.

Yet our misery would be compounded further if evil god managed to convince us that he was good. We would then also suffer disappointment (since evil god would continually break the promises he made, like relieving suffering, the second coming, etc), self-loathing (since we would automatically assume that it was us who was evil, rather than looking askance at the god we assume to be good) and waste our lives working out elaborate philosophical "worldviews" to help us rationalise the cognitive dissonance we felt as a result.

Those three points may sound familiar to occasional students of Christianity.

A really good way is to realise that my worldview is not self-refuting while this one that you've imagined is.

No, this worldview is completely self-supporting. You have yet to demonstrate any weaknesses in the hypothesis, except that if god is evil, it would be impossible to know anything with certainty. This does not refute the hypothesis - it strengthens it. If god was evil, the last thing he would want to do is give us any sense of security - in fact, he would probably perform intermittent "miracles" just to make us doubt that even the laws of physics were consistent.

What you mean when you say that this worldview is "self-refuting" is that it scares you silly. This is completely understandable - it would scare me silly as well, if I believed what you believed. However since I have an independent means of judging good and evil, the evil god hypothesis - if true - doesn't pose any problems for me at all.

Paul C said...

I tried to show you according to your terms that the bible cannot be used for evidence of your evil god because a false book should be discarded and not be used for building a worldview.

The arguments we have seen here for the existence of God - argument from design, impossibility of the contrary, need for objective morality, even the argument from personal experience - are unaffected whether the bible is true or false. In addition, all of those arguments can be founded on an evil god as much as a good god. Literally the only way you can tell if your god is good or not is if you recognise your independent capacity to judge good and evil. If you refuse to recognise it, then you're sunk, I'm afraid.

The biblical answer to the problem of evil is to call us to account for our own sin and to expose the fact that we have no right to question the character of a holy God.

The biblical answer, then, appears to be that we should pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. It's as unconvincing here as it was in the Wizard of Oz.

Surely you know that you habitually do things the bible calls sin and if you doubt that, God help you for you are thoroughly blind.

I'm always fascinated by this one, although it's not really germane to this discussion. What do I do, exactly, that the bible calls sin?

Kyle said...

"I'm always fascinated by this one, although it's not really germane to this discussion. What do I do, exactly, that the bible calls sin?"

It is relevant because the bible teaches that you can't know the truth if you deny your own sinfulness. This is a major plank in Christian epistemology. In fact the door to true knowledge is repentance of sin (a change from self directed life to God directed life). When we recognize the evil of our own sins and confess them, God grants us knowledge and understanding, through faith in Jesus, of the mystery of His existence.

I don't know you personally so I can't speak to your particular sins. But, I can give you a list and you can make your own applications. Remember that God cares about the heart, not just outward compliance. I'm sure you would admit to at least #1 though it shouldn't be hard for anyone to see how several of these apply. We all break many of them either in our hearts or outwardly.

1) Unbelief (of God and His Word)
2) Lying (even small ones)
3) Stealing (all forms)
4) Adultery/Fornication (even looking at a woman with sexual desire for her counts because they are the same attitude, different degrees)
5) Not giving thanks for God's provision of food, health, sunshine, rain, children, etc.
6) Drunkeness
7) Blasphemy
8) Unbelief
9) Pride
10) Greed
11) Cursing
12) Murder (hatred counts as murder with God because because they are the same attitude, different degrees)
13) Coveting
14) Selfishness
15) Gluttony
16) Slothfulness
17) Rape
18) Dishonoring Father and Mother
19) Worshipping false gods
20) Failure to worship God
21) Others (see bible)

The positive statement that sums up all these is:
"Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love you neighbor as yourself."

Paul C said...

Kyle, thanks for the clarification. I find your beliefs touching and saddening.

Remember that God cares about the heart, not just outward compliance.

So if somebody never carries out a single positive act in their lives, but just sits around thinking good thoughts, then God favours them? What a champ he must be.

Murder (hatred counts as murder with God because because they are the same attitude, different degrees)

They're not, though, are they? It's perfectly possible to commit murder without hating the person you're killing.

Adultery/Fornication (even looking at a woman with sexual desire for her counts because they are the same attitude, different degrees)

They're not, though, are they? It's perfectly possible to have sex with somebody without finding them attractive; and you can look at your wife with sexual desire without it being 'fornication'.

My favourite was Others - what you mean is "Everything else", isn't it, Kyle? Everything except worshipping your god is sinful. So, here we have the disappointment, self-loathing and philosophical contortions that I predicted would be the case if god was evil. QED!

Paul C said...

p.s. Does this also mean that you believe that babies are without sin, Kyle?

Kyle said...

"So if somebody never carries out a single positive act in their lives, but just sits around thinking good thoughts, then God favours them? What a champ he must be."

God does not favor people who refuse to obey His will of loving others and doing good. God cares about our motives and our actions and condemns the type of 'faith' you described which never acts out to do good. My point was that the desire to commit evil that is suppressed for concerns of consequence still reveals evil desire. And, that external obedience to God's Law while inwardly breaking it is not obedience at all.

"They're not, though, are they? It's perfectly possible to commit murder without hating the person you're killing."

I was referring to this passage where Jesus was expanding on the meaning of the Law about murder to show it is about the heart attitude, not merely the outward actions.

Matt. 5:21-22
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder,and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."

So for example, someone who dreams of murdering another person but is afraid of getting caught is a murderer even if they don't carry it out.

"They're not, though, are they? It's perfectly possible to have sex with somebody without finding them attractive; and you can look at your wife with sexual desire without it being 'fornication'."

Like the man who dreams of murder but can't do it is a murderer at heart, the man who dreams of sexual immorality but doesn't act on it is still an adulterer or fornicator at heart. Legalists inwardly desire to break God's Law but try to outwardly comply. This was a major problem in ancient Judaism and among most modern people. I put the information in parenthesis so you wouldn't get caught up focusing on whether you outwardly break God's Law but so that you would take into account your internal attitudes and thoughts which God values more than merely external actions.

God is not a prude. He made sex and it doesn't embarrass Him. A man was MADE to desire His wife (her only) and so it is perfectly good to desire one's wife sexually.

"Does this also mean that you believe that babies are without sin, Kyle?"

Not sure why you thought of this from what I said but I can answer it anyway. The Bible teaches that we are born with a sinful nature. We have a choice of how we act on our sinful impulses but they are there to be resisted or indulged thanks to the Fall. The Bible does not specifically declare how God deals with children who are too young to understand sin. Many Christians believe all children go to Heaven based on an OT passage where King David lost a child who was about 5 years old and expected to see him in Heaven. I hope that is the case. But to be honest, the Bible does not directly state it one way or the other, so I will not speak for God where He has not spoken. I will leave it in the hands of my loving and Holy God.

But, as for people old enough to sin, we are punished for our own sins in Judgment and we experience general suffering now because A&E fell and allowed sin into the world.

Paul C said...

God does not favor people who refuse to obey His will of loving others and doing good. God cares about our motives and our actions and condemns the type of 'faith' you described which never acts out to do good.

That's exactly my point. If God condemns somebody for thinking "evil" thoughts but not acting on them, then what is in the heart is just as important as what is in the hand, which you agree with. The logical and obvious corollary to this is that he should equally reward somebody for thinking "good" thoughts but not acting on them.

If you disagree that thinking "good" thoughts is not enough to be considered "good", then how can you agree that thinking "evil" thoughts be enough to be considered evil? You can't have your cake and eat it, Kyle - it has to be one thing or the other.

I was referring to this passage where Jesus was expanding on the meaning of the Law about murder to show it is about the heart attitude, not merely the outward actions.

It doesn't really matter what passage you were referring to - the statement that you made was false, and you need to deal with that. The passage that you cite is nice, but it doesn't make your statement true nor does it seem to me a particularly strong piece of evidence to support your case. As I said, it's perfectly possible to commit murder without hating the person you kill - and it's also possible to hate somebody without having any intention of killing them.

So for example, someone who dreams of murdering another person but is afraid of getting caught is a murderer even if they don't carry it out.

What about somebody who dreams of murder but restrains themself through a heroic will? What about somebody who dreams of murdering another person purely as a fictional exercise? What about somebody who dreams about murdering another person but doesn't do it simply because they can't be bothered? There seem to be a wide range of cases which break the link between anger and murder completely, which considerably undermines your case.

It goes without saying, of course, that I believe that you're not a murderer unless you actually commit a murder. Do you also believe that somebody who dreams about carrying out heart surgery to save a child's life is a surgeon, even if they never do it?

Not sure why you thought of this from what I said but I can answer it anyway.

Because new-born babies are incapable of sinful acts and sinful thoughts both...

The Bible teaches that we are born with a sinful nature.

... except it turns out they're not! Now you've changed your argument almost completely. It's no longer the act of sinning, or even the thought of sinning, that makes us sinful - we are just sinful, whether we sin or not. It's a theology designed to make everybody feel bad about themselves, no matter how they act; to me, that sounds like the sort of thing that an evil god would dream up.

Kyle said...

"It's no longer the act of sinning, or even the thought of sinning, that makes us sinful - we are just sinful, whether we sin or not. It's a theology designed to make everybody feel bad about themselves, no matter how they act;"

Paul,

It is true that we are born sinful according to the bible. The bible describes sin even down to the thoughts in the mind so that people can't claim they are holy because they don't outwardly do bad things when inside they are full of evil.

The bible is not trying to make people feel bad, it is setting people free who are slaves to their sin. Unrepentant sinners should feel bad because they are evil trespassers of God's Law and deserve righteous punishment from a Holy God. God reveals to us that we are sinners seperated from God by our sin. It frees us to live for God, which means that we love Him and His creatures instead of living selfish, evil lives. He does this by giving us a new nature that loves God. The Christian should not be obsessed with their own sinfulness, but rather the grace of God which sets them free. So while I am intimately aware of my own sinfulness, I also know that God is greater than my sin and will cleanse me from all sin to live in Heaven forever when I die.

Paul C said...

The bible describes sin even down to the thoughts in the mind so that people can't claim they are holy because they don't outwardly do bad things when inside they are full of evil.

Yes, but as I've explained, this seems like arrant nonsense to me. If you were able to agree that people were virtuous if inside they were full of good but outwardly did bad things, then you might have a convincing argument; otherwise I'm afraid you're still trying to have your cake and eat it.

The bible is not trying to make people feel bad, it is setting people free who are slaves to their sin. Unrepentant sinners should feel bad because they are evil trespassers of God's Law and deserve righteous punishment from a Holy God.

Your first clause here is directly contradicted by the latter three. The bible isn't trying to make people feel bad - it's just says they're evil slaves who deserve punishment! If that makes you feel good personally - or feel good about the rest of humanity - then you have a strange idea of what constitutes "feeling good".

He does this by giving us a new nature that loves God.

So once you have this "new nature", you'll never be selfish or evil again?

So while I am intimately aware of my own sinfulness, I also know that God is greater than my sin and will cleanse me from all sin to live in Heaven forever when I die.

Yeah. That still sounds like the sort of cruel trick that an evil god would play.

Kyle said...

Paul,

"If you were able to agree that people were virtuous if inside they were full of good but outwardly did bad things, then you might have a convincing argument;"

I don't think that people who are full of evil actually do good outwardly. All their 'good' deeds are corrupted by evil motives. Conversely, there are no people who are full of good that do outwardly bad things. Good deeds comes from a good heart, evil from an evil heart. Unbelievers only have their fallen human nature and do only what pleases themselves and not God. Believers have a new nature that seeks to please God but also have sin residing in their 'flesh'. 'Flesh' is a theological term for the sinful part that is not fully removed during salvation. Ultimate removal of sin occurs at death. So believers are capable of true goodness because when they faithfully serve God and true evil when they yield to the temptations of their own flesh.

"Your first clause here is directly contradicted by the latter three. The bible isn't trying to make people feel bad - it's just says they're evil slaves who deserve punishment!"

The PURPOSE of the bible is to bring salvation not condemnation.

"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." John 3:17

The reason God tells us we are sinners is so we will repent of our sin and go to heaven. Hearing about our sin may hurt, but it is like the pain of surgery where the doctor removes the tumor. That kind of pain leads to healing.

As a byproduct of this, unbelievers may feel bad but that is not the reason why Jesus came.

If God wanted us to feel bad he could have told us we are all sinners and that everyone is going to Hell, since we all deserve it, and not made Heaven possible. Then all we have is dread, terror, and hopeless agony as we await death in total anguish. Thank God that through Jesus we don't have to bear the punishments for our sins if we have faith.

Paul C said...

Kyle - I wrote out a proper response to your points, with some of my own questions. When I read it back, however, I realised that nothing you said meant a thing to me. I can see the words on my screen, and they're clearly grammatically correct - but they're utterly devoid of meaning for me. "Sin", "flesh", "fallen" - these words don't seem to bear any relation to anything that I can see in the real world. So I decided not to post my response. Sorry.