Bob, you have said so much and I find myself with such an
embarrassment of riches that I cannot say everything I’d like to. As I said in my post, I won’t be able to get into a drawn-out debate—though I wish I could! So, I will just provide this last response and try with all my willpower to let you have the final word in your follow-up, but no promises!
First, I know that Mikel’s point was not accurately reflected in your paraphrase because he told me as much. And, the quote you
provided from him is irrefutable. That is, if there is any god at all, even if he is evil or impotent, then by definition atheism is false. You have to agree with this, don’t you? You are correct that this in no way proves Christianity, but, if it is true that some god exists, it certainly makes atheism untrue.
When I said that you and Harris ignore other possibilities
to answer the problem of the Christian God’s existence in a world in which evil also exists, I did not say that we are in the dark about the reasons why God purposes or allows evil. This is not a hypothetical fallacy because this is precisely who the Christian God is by definition according to the scriptures. You are wrong that we have no evidence that God has a purpose in creating a world in which evil exists. We have the evidence of revelation. God has told us
why he created the world we live in. You do not accept the Bible as a revelation from God, but I think it is actually impossible that God does not exist. If God does not exist, then nothing you have written has any meaning. Your thoughts are nothing more than time and chance acting on matter. Your thoughts are, to barrow Doug Wilson’s illustration, ultimatly no more meaningful than the fizzing that happens when you shake-up a bottle of soda. However, the fact that you expect that your words carry meaning that you expect me to be able to understand means that you believe in reason and logic that are objective, which cannot exist if we accept naturalism. You are barrowing my worldview to argue against it. And, the worldview you are assuming is based on God having disclosed himself as a rational and logical being, who has created his creatures with the ability to think rationally and logically after him.
You have still failed to understand the analogy that Mikel gave. I agree that God could eliminate all pain, suffering, and evil. But that
has nothing to do with this illustration. The point is very simple, and to go beyond the point Mikel was trying to make is really straw-man argumentation. His point was simply that it is possible for God to allow evil or suffering for reasons that we don’t understand. Now, I think we can actually understand the big picture reasons, but we are not usually in a position to know the specifics about the purpose of every given instance of evil. That was Mikel’s point, so, to go beyond this and stretch the analogy in ways he did not intend is inappropriate because it misrepresents him.
You said in your response that your point was not that Harris’ argument proves that the Christian God does not exist. But that was his argument and you seemed quote it approvingly. Again, you left us with the choice between the option that there may be an evil or impotent god, but not God in the way Christians understand him. So, what exactly am I missing here? I don’t think I’m misrepresenting your original point, so I could really use some clarification if I am.
You are correct that I presented my theology when defending Kreider’s statement and the biblical texts I outlined. You asked for evidence, but the biblical text itself is in fact evidence. You have arbitrarily and autonomously chosen to dismiss it when everything you say about Christianity tells me you haven’t made much effort to understand it. If the Christian God exists, then revelation is the only possible kind of evidence we could have. And, as I pointed out above, you cannot deny God’s existence without assuming his
existence by using reason, logic, morality, and constructing argumentation. So, the vote for God’s existence is 2 for and 0 against. That is, I believe he exists, and your reasoning demonstrates that you really do to. I know this sounds audacious, but until I hear an atheist explain how logic, rationality, or morality can exist in a naturalistic world and carry authority that demands ascent by others, I will continue to repeat this argument.
Your point about the Bible’s insufficiency because you think
I am suggesting that we need revelation in addition to it badly misunderstands me, but I take the blame for this one. By revelation I don’t mean something other than the Bible. The Bible is the revelation I was referring to. The fact that former Christians asked for additional revelation and didn’t get it doesn’t mean that God hasn’t adequately reveled himself in the Bible. He certainly has, but I get the sense that you haven’t studied much of the Bible carefully enough to understand its message about who God is. You say you came to this conclusion after years of study, but I’d like to know the context of that study because you bio on this blog mentions no training in biblical interpretation, unless I missed something. Your ignorance about scripture is evident by the passing references you made to slavery and genocide in the Old Testament. Anyone who educated about the historical context of these things would not make such statements. Slavery in the ancient Israel is similar to
welfare in our society; it is not anything like slavery in American history. And you will not find genocide in the Hebrew Bible. What you will find is God acting as a judge against evil people. This is not genocide. You will not find God commanding the Israelites to kill people who are not guilty of egregious evil, but simply because God wants to rid the world of a particular ethnic group without reason. And, the Israelites are expressly told to do their warfare in as humane a manner as possible. If you had read these texts in an effort to understand them in their historical context, you wouldn’t have missed this material. You need to read the texts for yourself instead of repeating the arguments of uninformed atheists. So, I don’t think you are in a position to stand as an authority on the Bible’s meaning, and therefore, your rejection carries little weight with those of us who are professionally trained in biblical exegesis. I challenge you to take some time to do some thorough and honest study. I’d be happy to help you with that!
On the abortion issue, I didn’t intend to raise this to argue about abortion, but you brought up a point I can’t resist discussing. You said that you believe personhood is to be judged on a spectrum, so that the longer a fetus is in the womb, the more innate value they have. Since the pregnant woman is fully a person and the fetus only a lesser percentage of a person—and I have no earthly idea how someone can only be partially a person—then her choice is more important to uphold than protecting the fetus’ life. I wonder on whose authority you make this evaluation? What objective, or
even authoritative, moral standards have led you to value a woman’s right to kill a fetus over the fetus’ right to live and be protected from someone killing him or her? The truth is that this is a created construct of your autonomous imagination, and it is therefore utterly subjective. You later say essentially that morality is the result of majority opinion. But that won’t do, for it was once majority opinion in Germany that the Jews were bad for the nature and needed to be destroyed. It was once an almost universal consensus that slavery was morally acceptable, which you seem to have a problem with. If your understanding of morality is correct then you are unable to judge any action as evil, since the majority opinion is always in flux, except for those who honor an objective standard outside themselves. And, we don’t believe that torture is wrong because it is a shared belief, since it is not a shared belief! There are many groups throughout history and even in the world today that think there is nothing wrong with torture. On what basis does your worldview allow you to say they are wrong? Your worldview ties your hands behind your back when it comes to making moral judgments. It is for these reasons you saw off the branch you are sitting on when you indict God for allowing evil because you illuminate any possibility for consistently and objectively identifying one action as evil and another as morally justifiable. You must see this glaring inconsistency.
And I disagree that “Atheists and Christians use the same
moral machinery and axioms.” We Christians aren’t deluding ourselves when we subject moral dilemmas to the Bible, are we? Are we lying to ourselves when we read passages that discuss the various moral issues that we face in our lives? Of course not! I want to challenge you to be more intellectually honest at this point instead of trying to score points with your followers. If you were honest you have to admit that Christians are seeking to base their morality on what we believe is a supernatural revelation. You may think we are deluded in considering it supernatural, but we are not deluded. You have already admitted as much by confessing that you have no basis in your worldview for believing in objective morality. If this is true, then you also cannot justify belief in absolute truth. Therefore, you cannot judge anything as delusional because that requires it to be untruthful. So, again, you are saying things that your worldview does not grant you sufficient reason to believe. Your inconsistency
here is why I find atheism completely irrational, unless one resorts to Nietzsche’s construct, which you seem to reject because you recognize that there is real meaning in life.
And the arguments I have made are not tired. If they were, I
would expect you to have attempted some refutation, but you didn’t. Instead, you asserted your position, which will not do. And, the second you begin to use reason or logic to refute my view you are assuming objectivity, which you reject. Therefore, to try to refute my argument will actually prove it. You deny all grounds for judging anything as good or evil, but then you do it anyway. These truths can be objective and absolute and they are accessible to
anyone who can read or hear the Bible!
So, I will finish with what I believe is the undeniable truth: we know that the Christian God exists because of the impossibility of the contrary.
I know that we won’t agree, but I value this engagement and which you well! I hope we can even be friends, though we will probably never meet! Blessings!
Source : http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/09/where-are-the-good-christian-arguments-the-problem-of-evil/1971