June 6, 2006

"God will save me, if he exists."

Shouted a man who crept into the lioness's enclosure at a zoo in Kiev. The lioness lunged straight at him and severed his carotid artery.

67 comments:

SteveR said...

I've quoted here before ..."Do not put the Lord thy God to a test"

Beyond that is common sense, what would you expect?

Jennifer said...

Dude, today is Satan's day. What was that guy thinking?

mcg said...

During a particularly wet winter, flood waters rise so high in one town that the national guard evacuates all the residents. One man stays behind, however, and when the water is waist-high, two national guardsmen in a boat motor past his house, checking for people left behind.

"We're evacuating the town because of the flood! Jump in the boat and we'll carry you to safety!"

But the man says, "No, don't bother; I've led a pious life, and the Lord will save me."

The men in the boat shrug their shoulders and motor away. Later, when the water level has driven the man onto his roof, another boat appears.

"Haven't you heard the town has been evacuated? Come on, we'll save you!"

But the man sends them away again, saying "No, no, the Lord will save me!"

The water level keeps rising until the man is standing on his chimney and barely keeping his head above water, and a helicopter, doing a final check, appears overhead. It drops a rope, and the loudspeaker says, "Grab the rope and we'll bring you to safety!"

But the man waves the helicopter away, once again saying, "No, the Lord will save me!"

But the water level keeps rising, and he drowns.

When he gets to heaven, he is completely bewildered. He asks God, "God, why didn't you save me?"

And God says, "Well, I sent you two boats and a helicopter."

Craig Ranapia said...

Indeed, SteveR. Einstein famously remarked that God does not play dice with the universe. Perhaps, but I'm pretty sure that God doesn't do tricks on command...

Simon said...

"Do not test the LORD your God," Deut. 6:16.

HaloJonesFan said...

See, the guy's problem is that all day long, the lioness had been praying "come on, God, just a small snack...a tiny tidbit...a bitty bite..."

Dave said...

I find it amazing that people can thnk like this.

What does the existence or absence of God have to do with the capacity of a wild animal to kill a human being?

I don't suspect that most people who believe in God would take their belief in God as evidence of their invulnerability to the caprices of wild animals.

The proof of God's existence from ego: "If god exists I will be saved."

Would the man have said the same thing jumping out of an airplane without a parachute? Logical consistency would require him to say it--after all, there is no fundamental difference between engaging with a wild animal without protection and skydiving without a parachute: both activities will kill you.

But then I suppose it's folly to expect logical consistency from someone who would say something like the argument from ego.

Daryl Herbert said...

Would the man have said the same thing jumping out of an airplane without a parachute? Logical consistency...

Yeah, who would believe something so freakin' crazy as that God would cause lions to not kill a person?

I mean, what kind of idiot would believe that God would ever intervene to cause lions to not end a person's life?

Only a complete feeble-minded moron would believe a fairy tale like that.

tiggeril said...

That's what you get for not clicking your heels three times.

Dave said...

Daryl surely you have beter things to do than intentionally misconstrue my comments.

Or are you the feeble-minded moron to whom you refer?

tiggeril said...

Daryl, dude, that was a catastrophic failure of sarcasm.

Wickedpinto said...

Where are the Islamic Extremists when they could prove their faith in Allah?

"Allah Akbar"(dinner for lions) "Allah Akbar" food for great whites.

Save the endangered predators of the world, may islamic extremists test the will of god, in an enclosed tank/environment.

Troy said...

Why would anyone be surprised that someone would think like this? The guy's mentally ill. Anybody working anywhere close to the criminal justice field sees crap like this (obviously not EXACTLY like being killed by a wild beast) regularly.

GSH said...

Maybe he'd been reading Daniel.

Wickedpinto said...

The guy threw himself into a lions den.

CLEARLY begging for martyrdom.

DUH!

OBVIOUS symbolism.

Does that make him an Artiste?

Daryl Herbert said...

Dave, you overreached when you said there was no difference between God sparing someone from lions or sparing someone from falling out of an airplane. Don't blame me for pointing out slight a difference there.

In any event, why doesn't God save people who fall out of airplanes? Surely He can tell when it's an accident and when it's deliberate. It's not like it happens all that often. It would be very considerate of Him, is all I'm saying.

He doesn't show us the slightest amount of consideration, and we're supposed to fall all over ourselves to reassure Him how great we think He is, on a daily basis, why? Forget that.

This a story about a crazy Ukranian man who didn't want to live in a world without God. I don't want to live in a world with a God like that, an overgrown six-year-old with super-powerful magic powers who won't use them, who wants more than anything for people to pay attention to him, but won't act to attract attention, and then damns people to Hell for eternal torture if they weren't brainwashed by their parents into the proper religion.

These are not indications of a healthy psychological makeup. In fact, I think there are right-wingers who would say that God is exhibiting pre-homosexual character traits, what with all the coyness and the drama queen act.

Lloyd said...

With the expected failure of the Marriage Protection Amendment in the Senate and House, President Bush is considering supporting a Religon Protection Amendment that will identify the only religons the U.S. Government will recognize as legitimate. You can only guess which ones.

Troy said...

No Lloyd... tell us which ones.

I have news for you. The gov't already determines which religions are legitimate. If you don't believe me try deducting dontions to the Church of Lloyd and see what the IRS has to say about it. Or try going to your local prison and say "I'm a chaplain in the Church of Lloyd." and then see if you get a pass (or try it at your local county hospital for that matter.

If you sincerely think Bush could or would eliminate non-Christian religions from the landscape then we need to watch you around the lion's den Lloyd. For the love of Mike, the guy's a Methodist -- hardly a rock-ribbed conservative fundamentalist denomination.

Tibore said...

"Dave, you overreached when you said there was no difference between God sparing someone from lions or sparing someone from falling out of an airplane. Don't blame me for pointing out slight a difference there."

"In any event, why doesn't God save people who fall out of airplanes?"

Uh, Daryl, you're mispicking your nit. Dave was drawing an equivalence between two acts where a person deliberately put themselves in danger with the expectation that God would save them. The point was the egotism of the individual expecting special treatment in a situation that individual brought upon himself.

And by the way:

"He doesn't show us the slightest amount of consideration, and we're supposed to fall all over ourselves to reassure Him how great we think He is, on a daily basis, why? Forget that."

"I don't want to live in a world with a God like that, an overgrown six-year-old with super-powerful magic powers who won't use them, who wants more than anything for people to pay attention to him, but won't act to attract attention, and then damns people to Hell for eternal torture if they weren't brainwashed by their parents into the proper religion."

Due respect, sir, you really need to restrain your feelings of inadequacy and tendency to project. Those comments say far more about you than they do about the subject you're talking about. The assertations you make match no teachings of religion that I've ever received or heard of. But they sure as heck fit the stereotypes I seen repeatedly thrown at Christians.

archshrk said...

Daryl, I don't doubt you believe what you said, and may even have gotten that opinion from people who describe themselves as christian, but it does not describe the nature of God accurately (according to Christianity)

I'm sure you can point out numerous examples of Christian hypocracy and ridiculous claims of God, but keep in mind that not everyone who says they're Christian really is (I call them faux Christians).

It would be foolish to think I could "convert" you but if you (or anyone) is interested, I'm willing to discuss it (christian beliefs, not convertion). You can still not believe, but at least you would know what not to believe accurately.

Red A said...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6396422/

Taiwanese guy already did this. Old news.

Daryl Herbert said...

The assertations you make match no teachings of religion that I've ever received or heard of

Maybe you can tell me which of these five assertions I made are incompatible with the words of the Bible? It might be true that not all Christians believe these things, but please admit they are relatively mainstream beliefs with textual support (in terms of literal readings and in terms of how those passages have been interpreted through the years)

1 - [has] super-powerful magic powers
2 - won't use [the magical powers]
3 - wants more than anything for people to pay attention to Him
4 - but won't act to attract attention
5 - and then damns people to Hell for eternal torture if they [aren't of the] proper religion.

Wickedpinto said...

Since noone has any respect for the assigned topic, I'm going off topic.

Madam Ann, you enjoy AI, and Sopranos, and whatever else.

My Mother LOVES, "Deadliest Catch" and "Dirty Jobs" she has a crush on Mike Roe, from dirty jobs, and for some reason she has a real crush on "sig hansen" the captain of the northwestern.

Just thought I would share that.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tibore said...

"please admit they are relatively mainstream beliefs with textual support..."

Why? Why would I draw an equivalence between the complex story of a large movement's attempts through history to search out and assign beliefs and explanations to fit the notion that a supernatural being exists and the pithy statement that God "[has] super-powerful magic powers"? Why would I try to point out the scope of teachings about not testing God, and paying due attention to the world around you ("Render unto Caesar" means more than just paying taxes) is not the equivalent of an oversimplified statement that God "won't use [the magical powers]"? Why would I oversimplify a teaching that holds God as the embodiment of truth (this is arguing from the Christian, not the absolutely objective point of view, by the way), exhorts people to come into that truth, and reword that into something making God sound like a self centered 5 year old that only cares for attention? And how would I explain the fact that the teachings are supposed to be centered around acts and attitudes, and not mere pledges of loyalty to sects? That the idea is to live by a moral standard in order to gain entry into heaven? Yes, I know there's debate in many Christian circles about whether one must be a Christian or not to get into heaven, but to assert that God "... damns people to Hell for eternal torture if they [aren't of the] proper religion" is to ignore that debate, to ignore Vatican II for the Catholics, and to state that the judgement is already made when in fact, it's far from that.

"Maybe you can tell me which of these five assertions I made are incompatible with the words of the Bible?"

You can provide as much "textual support" from the Bible as you want, but if you only pay superficial attention to the words on a page, you miss 90% of what is taught. In Christianity, there is also the interpretation of what's written. The Gospels, the various writings of saints and philosophers, for Catholics the Papal Encyclicals and other writings also form the body of knowledge that Christians draw upon, and it's on that entire body that beliefs are based. Not mere one liners, or misconstruances of passages.

Tibore said...

Okay, Wickedpinto, chastisement bashfully accepted. I'll shut up now. It's time to go to bed anyway.

Joan said...

Bravo, Tibore. Thank you for a most excellent response (the one to Daryl, not the one to WickedPinto). You have far more patience than I do.

WickedPinto: I love those shows, too, but I don't watch them all that often. Maybe now that the regular prime time season has ended I'll set the TiVO to get them. "Dirty Jobs" in particular is fascinating. I find I actively avoid "Deadliest Catch" sometimes because it can be so intense, and since these are real people (and real people die), it can be hard to watch. I think it's excellent television, but I get too emotionally invested to watch it regularly.

Wickedpinto said...

Tibore I thank you for your sarcasm :)

And Joan? I The Host of "Dirty Jobs" is the same guy who does the voice-over for Deadliest catch.

I think that the attraction to both, is that they are "manly" depictions, ignoring the minds that are required.

I personaly, was an electronics tech, and the most "intellectual" job I had was the least technical job I ever did.

Later when I fled prosperity, I found that the PHYSICAL jobs I did, were actually quite technical, though in different ways.

"Dirty Jobs" and "Deadliest Catch" has a man like "Mike Roe" who is like Clint Eastwood, only young, and VERY manly, and OH SO SEXY!

At least according to my mother, and she is QUICKLY infecting my sister in law.

Mike Roe is the modern Clint, EVERY chick should love him.

Imagine Ted Dansen with hair, a body, and a voice, not to mention an intellect.

I wanna grow up to be mike roe, btw, Mike Roe is also the host of "The Most" from the History Channel.

Jeremy said...

The "Do not put the Lord thy God to a test" verse is apt here, but I've got another one that might fit better.

Matthew 12 describes a scene in which the teachers ask after healings, excorcisms, the feedings, etc. to see a miraculous sign from Jesus. His response is, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah."

Daryl Herbert said...

You can provide as much "textual support" from the Bible as you want, but if you only pay superficial attention to the words on a page, you miss 90% of what is taught.

So you mean, what I really should have said is "It might be true that not all Christians believe these things, but please admit they are relatively mainstream beliefs ... in terms of how those passages have been interpreted through the years"

Because if you like, I will go back and amend my previous remarks. Snicker.

Why would I draw an equivalence between the complex story of a large movement's attempts through history to search out and assign beliefs and explanations to fit the notion that a supernatural being exists and the pithy statement that God "[has] super-powerful magic powers"?

I never asked you to draw an equivalence between the whole Bible and the statement that God has what could be called magical super-powers. My argument does not rely on the "equivalence" between an elegant, multi-volume work of fiction and a single sentence representing a blunt statement of Truth.

What I asked you to admit was, if you read the Bible, isn't it true that this "God" fellow has these amazing abilities?

And the answer is, of course, "yes." You can hem and haw and shuffle around it all you like, but the fact remains, statement no. 1 is correct. The Bible says God has all sorts of crazy neat powers. Unlimited powers, even.

If God was playing pinball, He could hit the buffers an infinite number of times in an infinitely short amount of time. He could achieve the highest score ever on a pinball machine without even touching the flippers. Because He's God. Super powers. End of debate.

Or do you think God is incapable of those type of feats?

That the idea is to live by a moral standard in order to gain entry into heaven? Yes, I know there's debate in many Christian circles about whether one must be a Christian or not to get into heaven, but to assert that God "... damns people to Hell for eternal torture if they [aren't of the] proper religion" is to ignore that debate, to ignore Vatican II for the Catholics, and to state that the judgement is already made when in fact, it's far from that.

So, there are in fact plenty of mainstream Christians who hold the exact views as I described them.

And even if you believe in an extra-Biblical bonus round before you're sentenced to Hell, so what? If God interjects himself into the process to pick out a few special folk to save from Hellfire, Doesn't that just mean that He's choosing to Damn the rest to eternal torture?

You think a merciful God would make flawed human beings and then damn some of them to Hell? What about this Ukranian nutter? He committed suicide. There are plenty of Christians who believe that means he goes straight to Hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. And even if he passes before God for a bonus round judgment, God might still decide to burn the insolent peon. For all eternity. With jagged metal spikes up his anus and boiling hot lava through his veins and a razor blade dicing open his chest cavity so a buzzard can snack on his internal organs, and then crap them back into his chest to repeat the process at regular intervals. That's your Merciful, Just God? That's your idea of the embodiment of Truth???

No, that's a power-crazed five-year-old on a crime spree. He's running a place worse than Nazi death and torture camps! It's entirely His decision as to
1 - who is in Hell
2 - how much they suffer
3 - that they continue to suffer

God and Hell are incompatible, but without Hell you can't scare people into believing in God.

it's on that entire body that beliefs are based. Not mere one liners, or misconstruances of passages.

I don't think I've misconstrued a single passage. I haven't even construed a single passage. I don't think I've misconstrued a single belief. You still haven't explained why my original statements were wrong, just that you found them flippant and insulting.

Core idea: God chooses to torture people for all eternity, ergo God is bad.

whit said...

Re: Various thread comments

"God will save me if he exists."
What a display of faith! Not!

God doesn't damn man to immortal hell. Man damns himself by choosing to be separate from God. It is thought that Hell is the absolute separation from God.

Pogo said...

I have run into people like Daryl Herbert since I was a boy, the prosletyzers for atheism. I always found it curious their desire to disprove the existence of God. Why the concern? Pascal has much to offer here, but not to the builders of straw men.

As for the unfortunate man and his challenge to God, the previous post pointing to mental imbalance is likely correct; such behavior is indeed a common sight to the police. It serves not as a morality tale on the futility of all beliefs, rather, it exposes the mostly hidden souls that are truly mad, who exist merely as human caricatures.

Corrie said...

Neither the existence nor non-existence of God can be proven or disproven, as both positions are matters of faith.

While one can muster arguments and evidence on both sides, it boils down to worldview. No athiest can be logically convinced of God's existence, as he must explain away all evidence that supports supernaturalism. Likewise, no true believer will be convinced that God does not exist. (Unless one were to produce the body of Jesus of Nazareth.)

For that reason, when I was searching for a consistent worldview in college (having abandonded the patriarchal, bureaucratic, ritualistic religion of my upbringing) I adopted as a starting point the notion that it was possible that God might exist.

That, to me, is the only intellectually defensible position to begin an investigation into the supernatural.

FWIW, my researches led me to conclude that the evidence overwhelmingly points to the Resurrection of Jesus as being an actual historical event. That begged hte question, "So what?"

What, indeed.

Tibore said...

Wow. Touched a nerve, didn't I? If providing a critique of a thesis being oversimplified and missing the poing is backhanded validation, then I guess I'm guilty of backhanded validation. Take from my statement what you will, but there's a certain comedy in someone missing the point about a critique of him missing the point.

One last statement, then I concede the run of the thread: If you miss the point that man is responsible for his own actions -- a point made not by me here but by pretty much every Christian scholar since the dawn of that belief -- and if you continue to insist that facile arguments stated in series of reductio statements somehow proves your thesis about Christianity, then you haven't merely misconstrued one passage or belief. You've managed to miss the whole damn boat. And considering the complexity of the various philosophies embodied in the many denominations, sects, and varients of Chrisianity, that's one hell of an accomplishment. Hats off to you.

Wickedpinto: No no! I wasn't being sarcastic! I was accepting a deserved rebuke for participation in a thread diversion. Which is doubly hypocritical for me, since I loudly complain about that very act on other blogs. I'll stop with this comment. And BTW, I watch "Deadliest Catch" too; loved the ep where the Cornelia Marie and the Northwestern messed with each others pots. Talk about pranks in the workplace!

kimbob said...

The nice thing about religion is that a person can "interpet" it many different ways. It is not set in stone . You can take things literally, like Hell, or not. I am Catholic but I prefer to maintain the belief that God would not have us suffer eternally. I feel the hell they speak of is your own internal beating from the wrong you did. I also prefer to believe that the could not possibly be "one true religion". Many people are wholly good people no matter what religious outlet they choose.
I'm sure there is a reason God does not interfere with our stupidity.

Pogo said...

C. S. Lewis said it best in The Problem of Pain:

"If God were good, he would wish to make his creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty he would be able to do as he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both."

Read on to see his answers to this dilemma.

Al Maviva said...

Daryl, if there is no God, how can God be "bad" for "torturing people for all eternity"? Seems to me, He is just making a choice, nothing good or bad, but that *you* make it so.

And FWIW, I think the Christian doctrine relating to free will indicates that there actually is such a thing as good or bad, free will allows you to choose to do good or bad, and then what follows, eternal reward or damnation, is merely a consequence of your own choices. E.g. accept God and follow the golden rule, the consequence is heaven; reject God and try to liquidate the Jews, you've chosen hell. I believe that's how it works.

Why you or any other atheist cares enough to argue about it is beyond me. Seems to me that in the absence of any unmoved mover, that pretty much all metaphysics is meaningless, and a waste of time. Shouldn't you be golfing, or getting plastered, or writing the great American novel, rather than wasting your time arguing with the faithful?

amba said...

Remember this story?

Al Maviva said...

Oh, and one other thing. I believe that some of the more sophisticated Christian notions of hell don't involve pitchforks, fire and brimstone. Rather they involve the absence of God, the denial of the the purpose of man's existence. C.S. Lewis, and many Orthodox Catholic thinkers, have discussed an eternal emptiness - in the absence of actual physical suffering - as a description of hell. Y'know - no God, unhappiness, lashing out a lot, hell is other people, that kind of thing.

amba said...

There was a story of a woman who was skydiving and both her main chute and backup failed. I saw this on TV -- her fiance was skydiving with her, had a camera and filmed her fall, screaming her name piteously all the way. She smashed up her face, but was otherwise uninjured. She planned to marry the guy and to skydive again after healing from reconstructive surgery.

Atticus said...

Someone said: "but keep in mind that not everyone who says they're Christian really is (I call them faux Christians)." This argument usually means that "not everyone is the same kind of Christian I am."

I take people at their word. If they say they are a Christian, that's good enough for me. Christians are not perfect people, no matter how they try or don't try.

kimbob said...

“Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people,” Wondimu said.

Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said the girl may have survived because she was crying from the trauma of her attack.

“A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they didn’t eat her,” Williams said.


Probably not a miricle by God.

kimbob said...

Sorry, Miracle. Can't spell.

Dave said...

Amba: I know there have been instances when people have survived falls without their parachutes.

My point was that, on average, a person who engages with a wild animal is likely to be killed or maimed, and, on average, a person who jumps out of aplane sans parachute will be killed.

Now, whether we attribute one's survival to God's intervention or something else is a matter of perspective and personal belief.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

His mistake was the "if He exists part." His faith wavered. You don't read about Daniel saying "if He exists." It's like trying to thread a needle and you glance away and your finger twitches.

Pogo said...

RLC's comment reminds me of Linus in the cartoon TV special "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown":

From Wikipedia: "Stressing the importance of faith in the Great Pumpkin, Linus states that one must never say "If the Great Pumpkin comes", but rather, "When the Great Pumpkin comes"; a lack of sufficient faith, he avers, might cause the Great Pumpkin to pass one by at the critical time."

Charlie Eklund said...

Whenever I read comments like those made by Daryl, I find that they make me tremendously sad. I was once like he is now, ready to blame God for all the injustice and tragedy in the world and equally ready to scorn those who had faith in a God who couldn't be bothered to lift his little finger to help a suffering humanity.

I was lucky, though. The scales fell from my eyes and I found my way back to faith. Will the same thing happen to Daryl some day?

I don't know, but I will certainly pray that it does.

David said...

Give a WHIT!

You are right. God gives us the ability to make choices. We would not want a GOD who tells us what to do to insure we live perfect lives or save us from ourselves. That is not freedom!
It is servitude...

W.M. said...

Gee, in response to jennifer, post #2, I've just got to say quickly here, that I believe most Christians would say that everyday is Satan's day here on the earth. Everywhere is darkness, and we shed light where we can...His light.

Didn't this genius read about the Christians and lions in the Roman Coliseum? How many of them were miraculously saved?

archshrk said...

I take people at their word. If they say they are a Christian, that's good enough for me. Christians are not perfect people, no matter how they try or don't try. That was in response to me and you're right. C.S. Lewis made the point that it's not a matter of being a true Christian or not, but rather that they are a Good Christian or a Poor Christian (not very good at it)

Charlie, I was thinking the same thing. My Pastor was once like Daryl but is now equally passionate for God (as is often the case) Remember that Paul was the anti-christian, what with the persecution an all, and he became the apostle to the Gentiles. I think former athiest serve the Kingdom much in the same way - they know the arguments.

Overall, the responses have been very civil and accurate. This has been a real blessing for me to see. Thanks guys (you too Daryl)

Jack Okie said...

Daryl: Please check out http://www.carm.org/parables/parablesamaritan.htm. The parable of the Good Samaritan encapsulates a point Jesus' made many times: WE are responsible for one another.

I don't know if God intervenes in this world or not, but there is this: If God grants us free will, then any "tweaking" He might do would interfere with that free will. If this were not a totally random universe, then the promise of free will would be false. So the responsibility for the Holocaust and other ills falls on the people who chose to carry it forward, or turn a blind eye to it, not on God.

"Go and do likewise" is not a platitude, but the pivot point of following Jesus: To look outward rather than inward, to be concerned with others rather than be self-absorbed. Like riding a bike, faith is best learned by doing. The best way to get answers to the points you have raised is to "Go and do likewise". You might be surprised where you end up.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Maybe God has a perfect sense of humor.

Jennifer said...

W.M. - I was just being a smart ass re: the Satan's day comment - tying in with all the 6/6/06 posts of the day.

Al Maviva - This is what I don't understand as well - the fervence with which some athiests argue with and insult believers. What do they care?

Do they also get in the face of the poor fat girl who believes she's pretty? Do they hunt down every toddler to argue about their faith in Santa Claus? Why get so hot and bothered? I just don't get it.

JodyTresidder said...

Pogo,
You linked to the C. S. Lewis essay. Not his best work! He also doesn't seem to be a pet-lover, does he?
[from your link]

"ANIMAL PAIN:

What about the 'pain of guiltless hurt which doth pierce the sky'? Do the beasts, and plants, 'feel'? Certainly both may react to injury but so does the anaesthetised human body; reaction therefore does not prove sentience. Perhaps - we cannot be sure - we have committed the fallacy of reading into other areas of life a 'suffering self' for which there may be no real evidence.
"

Pogo said...

Not Lewis' best work? I beg to differ. Regardless, his lesser writings are a class above the rest, so we argue over whether he hit a 10.0 or a 9.76 on the dismount, I think.

Quite the animal lover was he. His remarks on pain indicate only that animals don't brood about their pain in the existential or metaphysical manner known to man. (Dogs don't reflect "why me?") For suffering is a purely human trait.

Thorley Winston said...

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Bissage said...

Certainly not George Burns.

Daryl Herbert said...

Can I convince them? Of course not.

But I'm contributing to the general culture in which we all breathe. Impressionable young folk are quite impressed by displays of insolence.

I, for one, picked up pretty early on that God was not to be taken seriously.

If you think I'm trying to grab a Christian and drag him down to Hell with me, you've got the wrong idea. I'm trying to make him look fusty in front of his kids.

"an eternal emptiness - in the absence of actual physical suffering - as a description of hell"

In Matthew 13:42, Jesus says: "And shall cast them into a FURNACE OF FIRE: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

In Matthew 25:41, Jesus says: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting FIRE,. . ."

Revelation 20:15 says, " And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the LAKE OF FIRE."

I'm picturing a Woody Allenesque wailing and gnashing of teeth, wracked with neuroses and on fire with emptiness from lack of God-belief. Yeah, right.

Go ahead and re-write the Bible. You're just more "sophisticated" now. You can get rid of embarrassingly barbaric notions like torture-hell and make homosexuality not a sin and look the other way when people have extramarital sex. Mormons can stop believing nonwhites were cursed by God. Muslims can conveniently forget that Mohammed was, in his 40s, screwing a 9-year-old girl.

Once you loose yourself from the bedrock of believing what you are told to believe, anything goes. You keep whatever parts of the Bible you want to keep, and trash the rest. You're as self-righteous as ever, but your beliefs are fundamentally different, because they are whatever you want them to be. So the non-religious among us have already won, even if you think you've preserved your faith.

I don't care if people think they've got religion. I just want to corrupt it wherever I can, undermine it, water it down. If you have to reject the words of your apostles to win an argument with me, then I've already accomplished something.

Mike Marchand said...

So . . . in other words, you're not a thinking skeptic, just a common, ordinary, everyday asshole?

Barry Kearns said...

Al Maviva said...
Daryl, if there is no God, how can God be "bad" for "torturing people for all eternity"?


My position is that I allow for the possibility of a Creator, but I don't see a convincing reason (at this point) to believe that one exists... and that the story I see presented by the evangelical Christian church I attend is wholly at odds with what I consider the attributes of an omnibenevolent Creator to be.

I allow for the possibility that there is a Creator, but that s/he is not what I would consider "good", nor particularly worthy of worship.

If there were a Creator that was evil, would you consider it ethically and morally sound to worship it, or more morally sound
to refuse to bow down and praise evil, even if that means losing rewards and getting punished as a result?

Al Maviva said...
And FWIW, I think the Christian doctrine relating to free will indicates that there actually is such a thing as good or bad, free will allows you to choose to do good or bad, and then what follows, eternal reward or damnation, is merely a consequence of your own choices. E.g. accept God and follow the golden rule, the consequence is heaven; reject God and try to liquidate the Jews, you've chosen hell. I believe that's how it works.


Here's where I have a problem. You're conflating accepting God and following the golden rule, and then conflating rejecting God and liquidating Jews.

From all I've seen of the Bible, it doesn't work that way. There appears to be only one deciding factor (post-New-Testament) - accept God or don't.

Not "choices"... just one choice.

Let's swap your conflations and see what happens. I believe in and practice the golden rule, but reject God. According to the Bible, I go to hell, and I am tortured for all eternity in a lake of fire. No matter how good of a life I lead, not matter how morally upstanding I am, I apparently deserve eternal torture for one thing only: failure to accept the Christian God as my owner, and that I am some kind of ultimately unworthy possession of his.

Contrast that with someone who liquidates a few million Jews, and then accepts Jesus on their deathbed. That person receives
no eternal punishment or torture according to the Bible... their acceptance is the ultimate "Get Out Of Hell Free" card. They can lead the most horrible life imaginable, and inflict any amount of torture and abuse on those around them... and they get an eternity in paradise.

This, we are told, is justice according to God.

It's not whether you're good or bad that's the deciding factor... instead, it all hinges on whether you accept that you're the property of God or not.

I don't see such a stance as pointing to an omnibenevolent Creator... just the opposite, in fact.

I see Bible verses that indicate that the son of a good friend of mine, who died at the age of six days, was born a sinner and fell short of the glory of God.

Not having accepted Jesus, I see no way mentioned in the Bible for this poor little soul to avoid eternal torture. He apparently deserves it for the outrageous sin of being born prematurely with severe complications.

Of course, he's going to Hell for the choices he made, right?

And yes, I've heard of the "Age of Accountability" doctrine that some churches try to use... show me where the Bible says that. I don't see it.

That's hardly the only reason I don't see the Christian God meeting the criteria that is claimed for him. There are many, many others.

Al Maviva said...
Why you or any other atheist cares enough to argue about it is beyond me. Seems to me that in the absence of any unmoved mover, that pretty much all metaphysics is meaningless, and a waste of time. Shouldn't you be golfing, or getting plastered, or writing the great American novel, rather than wasting your time arguing with the faithful?


I can't speak for anyone else of course, but I find metaphysics to be meaningful without having to accept the Christian God. Likewise with morality and ethics. I find the discussions interesting.

I'm not trying to "argue" with the faithful... I'm simply explaining my position. Perhaps someone will hear it and question some of their own beliefs, perhaps changing them for the better in the process.

"Men go crazy in congregations, they only get better one by one..." - Sting, "All This Time"

That's not my primary goal, but it might be a nice side effect. I'm not explicitly trying to de-convert anyone, I'm just trying to explain why I don't accept their belief system.

Or, as my pastor says, "What's stopping you from believing?"

Al Maviva said...
Oh, and one other thing. I believe that some of the more sophisticated Christian notions of hell don't involve pitchforks, fire and brimstone. Rather they involve the absence of God, the denial of the the purpose of man's existence. C.S. Lewis, and many Orthodox Catholic thinkers, have discussed an eternal emptiness - in the absence of actual physical suffering - as a description of hell. Y'know - no God, unhappiness, lashing out a lot, hell is other people, that kind of thing.


Again, isn't this all decidedly non-Biblical in nature? The pastor at the church I attend describes this sort of thing as "cafeteria Christianity", where folks pick-and-choose which aspects of the Bible they want to believe, and reject the parts they don't like. As if the parts they agree with are the ones that are divinely inspired, and the rest is just a product of cultural residue from ages gone by.

Isn't it awfully convenient for them that the parts they like are the ones that God set down as truth, and not the others?

Dr. Melissa said...

It's interesting. The people with the most God issues seem to be Atheists. The people who throw themselves into lions dens (as opposed to being thrown into one) seem to have mental health issues. The latter find peace and mental health more quickly than the former, if intervention occurs soon enough.

Daryl Herbert said...

And what does being an asshole have to do with not being a thinker or a skeptic? Should skeptics be wise teachers who wear purple robes and speak in soft voices and dispense harmless nuggets of wisdom while reassuring religious people that faith is okay? Screw you. I have something to say, and I'm smart enough to run circles around anyone dumb enough to debate me (so good move with the insults... you wouldn't last a second actually trying to engage my unstoppable juggernaut train of logic. By the way: unstoppable juggernauts don't have to be polite--we just are. I'm not going to convince you either way so I might as well tweak you in the process).

Religious people know the key to keeping this sort of talk down is shunning. It's okay for there to be skeptics, but we have to keep our mouths shut. We have to act like we should be ashamed of our lack of belief, or that being part of a "faith tradition" is somehow distinguishing.

They know they can't debate a skeptic because their own beliefs aren't based on logic. So they ostracize. And if you hang out with a skeptic, they ostracize you for that. It's a high school mentality. People who reveal that they have odd religious beliefs don't experience this the same way an out-of-the-closet atheist does. Because the weirder your religious beliefs are, the more normal you make everyone else feel.

Remember:

1 - A merciful God wouldn't send people to torture-Hell.

2 - Any religion based on the principles that God is good and God chooses to allow unlimited torture is necessarily false.

3 - The foundational principle of Christianity is torture-Hell (remember, the core idea of Christianity, the sine qua non at its very friggin' core, is that Jesus--and only Jesus--can save you from torture-Hell. Take that away, and you're not a Christian any more. You can still be a party-with-Jesus-in-Heaven Unitarian, if you like, but you're not a Christian unless you think Jesus Christ is the only thing standing between you and eternal Hellfire. The word "salvation" has no meaning if you take away Hell. It used to be, Christians believed in Salvation. I guess not so much any more.)

4 - They say Jesus died for my sins. They say He was crucified and suffered for half a week. Now He wants to torture me in Hell for all eternity. That's not a fair trade.

I would gladly accept crucifixion and torture like Jesus received, if I then got the option--complete with personalized, individual capricious review--to decide whether He and all of you go to Hell for all eternity. As it stands now, I think it's wrong to torture people forever and ever. But maybe after 3 days I will enjoy it as much as Jesus.

Kip said...

Daryl,

God is Life. All life is from God and of God. God is Love, all love and joy is from God and of God. What a gift is life! What a fabulous and unearned blessing!

You say it isn't fair that there is suffering. You don't want to live in a world where there is a God that allows it, but despite your protests you still suffer. And God feels your suffering. Jesus wept, he lived our pain, and He suffered for us. The Lord asks you to cast your burden on Him, truly that's better than fair - that's gracious and merciful.

You say the Bible doesn't make sense. Of course it doesn't! The Bible contains the truth of things that can't be comprehended by the human mind - they lie far beyond the realm of human experience. But they can be understood by the heart, in the heart.

It's another fabulous gift from the abundant heart of God - the very secrets of the Universe! And God is so gracious he doesn't present them such that only great intellectuals can begin to comprehend them. Anyone with a pure heart can understand - even small children! Truly God is merciful and good.

You say it isn't fair that God would seek to deprive you of eternal life, and that it is an injustice you might be damned to oblivion. But you proudly declare that you enjoy making simple moral people look stupid in front of their children. To seed division in families and spread moral corruption in the young is light entertainment to you.

So, having complained about the existence of suffering, you then cause suffering for enjoyment, because you say it makes you feel intelligent and powerful. And yet you think God is unjust? How are you not worthy of oblivion?

But even then God offers you eternal life. He stands patiently at the door of your heart, year after bitter year, with a love for you that never fades no matter what you do.

Truly, God's mercy and grace is more abundant than the Universe itself.

Barry Kearns said...

Kip wrote...
You say it isn't fair that there is suffering. You don't want to live in a world where there is a God that allows it, but despite your protests you still suffer. And God feels your suffering. Jesus wept, he lived our pain, and He suffered for us. The Lord asks you to cast your burden on Him, truly that's better than fair - that's gracious and merciful.


Personally, I don't take such a cartoonish position that I want to live in a world without suffering.

However, I think it's more than a bit telling that Christians claim that their God is all good, all powerful and present everywhere outside of time... and have no problem with the thought that such a creator would choose to engender a universe with such rampant suffering, and the promise of an eternity and infintely larger amount later for unbelievers.

I think, however, that you neatly side-stepped Daryl's point: namely, that it's not so much that the world has suffering that leads to an inconsistency with an omnibenevolent God, but instead that the Christian (and very Biblical) doctrine of eternal torture in Hell after leaving the world is fundamentally unjust.

Kip wrote...
You say the Bible doesn't make sense. Of course it doesn't! The Bible contains the truth of things that can't be comprehended by the human mind - they lie far beyond the realm of human experience. But they can be understood by the heart, in the heart.


Sorry, I don't consider emotions to be tools of cognition.

I've had plenty of Christians apply the double-standard of "uncomprehended mystery" when confronted with clear contradictions in their holy book, and yet not hesitate to just ignore the portions that they don't happen to like... little things like the subservience of women, or the keeping of slaves, or the genocide of tribes that lived near Israel.

Kip wrote...
It's another fabulous gift from the abundant heart of God - the very secrets of the Universe! And God is so gracious he doesn't present them such that only great intellectuals can begin to comprehend them. Anyone with a pure heart can understand - even small children! Truly God is merciful and good.


Why wouldn't a truly merciful and good God simply grant intellectual insight... a clear understanding in the mind to all?

What you're describing isn't understanding... it's acceptance and devotion without understanding.

Kip wrote...
You say it isn't fair that God would seek to deprive you of eternal life, and that it is an injustice you might be damned to oblivion.


Err.. I'm pretty sure that's not what he was saying. I'm sure many atheists would object far less if the doctrine was simply that unbelievers failed to gain eternal life, and were simply obliterated at death. I imagine a great many atheists think that's precisely what's going to happen anyway.

The big objection that Daryl was raising had to do instead with the active eternal torture in a lake of fire for those who fail to believe... and how that is supposedly consistent with an omnibenevolent God.

Deliberately creating a structure where unbelievers are caused an infinite amount of suffering is not what I would call "good". It's what I would call "evil".

I would expect an omnibenevolent God to, at a minimum, not cause additional suffering above-and-beyond what people go through here on Earth if they happen not to believe in him (or have never heard of him, for instance). But that's not what the Bible says.

There's a universe of difference between oblivion and eternal torture in a lake of fire.

I'll leave it to you to decide which of those two options is more consistent with a "merciful" God.

Kip wrote...
But even then God offers you eternal life. He stands patiently at the door of your heart, year after bitter year, with a love for you that never fades no matter what you do.


That's in pretty stark contrast to to the Christian doctrine of "election", though. From reading Romans 9:15-23 (among many other verses that support the doctrine), it seems pretty clear that the point is that God forms some people to be "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction", and we just shouldn't object if we're one of those. We're merely clay, after all, and clay shouldn't object to how the potter chooses to form us.

If God didn't write Daryl's name in the Book of Life at the beginning of time, how do you know that God is standing patiently at the door of his heart?

God clearly knew, after all, who would come to accept him and who wouldn't, right? Perhaps God created Daryl as a vessel formed for dishonor, and therefore isn't waiting patiently for Daryl to change... He knew in advance what the outcome would be.

Kip said...

You speak like a lawyer. There were plenty of people in the Bible who took a heartless lawyerly approach to things of the spirit, they were called Pharisees. Their arrogance led them to great wickedness.

The Hell of eternal torture you describe is a pagan concept. The Book of Revelation (whence comes the lake of fire) also refers to the second death. However, it is as it says, a revelation - a vision, and a mysterious one. The afterlife is presented a little mysteriously in Christianity, which is logical.

The Bible doesn't say that all non-Christians wil be tortured, it says that the saving grace of Christ will save us from judgement. Only God can judge the hearts of the world, he doesn't invite us to do it on his behalf.

A great many things in the Bible are left as mysteries. Some things in the physical realm are mysterious too. Can you tell me what happens in the centre of a black hole? How a photon can be both a wave and a particle? From whence does consciousness derive? If you can't understand such petty things of the physical world, why do you presume the infinite world should bow down to your mighty intellect?

Put away your childish things and be a man. Spoilt children scream and cry that things are not as they think they ought to be. Adults accept they are as they are, seek to understand them better, and try and use that knowledge to do good. Hence the wonderful society we have, underpinned by its profound Judeo-Chritian values.

If you love logic, be logical. By all means, take things on the evidence. Societies built on Judeo-Christian values have thrived, to a state of what to the ancient world would think was paradise on earth. Societies in modern times who have abandoned God have rapidly become like hell on earth. That the promise of God has come true in such a simple material way is just one of innumerable proofs of the truth of the Bible.

If you love science and respect evidence, be scientific! Conduct this experiment: pray to Christ to come into your life and see what happens!

Charlie Eklund said...

The unstoppable juggernaut said..."I would gladly accept crucifixion and torture like Jesus received"...

My only question is, will tickets be available for that?

Barry Kearns said...

Kip said...
The Hell of eternal torture you describe is a pagan concept. The Book of Revelation (whence comes the lake of fire) also refers to the second death. However, it is as it says, a revelation - a vision, and a mysterious one.


It matters little whether the everlasting fire is described more as a furnace or more like a lake. The Hell I describe is based directly on the Gospels, and the words that the Bible says are the words of Jesus himself. Those are not represented as "mysterious visions", they are represented as the direct testimony of your savior. Revelations supports the words of Jesus as given in the Gospels, but they are hardly the only source of the concept of eternal suffering in Hell, with the use of fire frequently mentioned. This is the first time that I recall someone on the Christian side calling one of Jesus' major teachings as "pagan". Jesus spoke more of Hell than he did of Heaven.

The afterlife is presented a little mysteriously in Christianity, which is logical.

Why is it logical that the afterlife should be presented mysteriously? Or do you have your own personal definition of "logical"?

Kip wrote...
The Bible doesn't say that all non-Christians wil be tortured, it says that the saving grace of Christ will save us from judgement. Only God can judge the hearts of the world, he doesn't invite us to do it on his behalf.


2 Thes 1:7-9 seems to be pretty clear to me...

"[7] And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
[8] In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
[9] Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;"

My Bible study notes state clearly that the everlasting destruction mentioned in verse 9 is the lake of fire from Revelations.

That tells me that everlasting destruction in Hell will be visited on those who don't know God, and on those who don't obey his Gospel. At least, according to the Bible I have. With you being more "sophisticated" and all, I'm sure you can feel confident in properly instructing people in which parts of the Bible mean the opposite of what they actually say.

A great many things in the Bible are left as mysteries. Some things in the physical realm are mysterious too. Can you tell me what happens in the centre of a black hole? How a photon can be both a wave and a particle? From whence does consciousness derive? If you can't understand such petty things of the physical world, why do you presume the infinite world should bow down to your mighty intellect?

I presume nothing of the sort. Instead, I assume that close to everything of what I understand is probably wrong. The difference is, I'm not the one claiming an infallible and perfect source of information, nor an omnipotent and omnibenevolent creator as its author.

When someone makes claims like that, I expect that the standard they need to meet is pretty darn high. I'm told repeatedly that every word of the Bible is true and perfect, and likewise for the Christian God.

If I make similar claims, feel free to hold me to the same strict standard to which I'm trying to hold the Bible.

Of course, if Christianity as a religion wants to back away from the claim of inerrancy of the Bible and/or God, that's a different matter.

Kip wrote...
Put away your childish things and be a man. Spoilt children scream and cry that things are not as they think they ought to be. Adults accept they are as they are, seek to understand them better, and try and use that knowledge to do good.


I believe that adults try to assess the situation, determine what things can be changed for the better, and seek to change them. The only "things are not as they think they ought to be" here that I see are the advertising and claims of much of evangelical Christianity.

The question comes down to this: How would someone know if Christianity as represented by these evangelicals is a false religion?

Kip wrote...
Hence the wonderful society we have, underpinned by its profound Judeo-Chritian values.

If you love logic, be logical. By all means, take things on the evidence. Societies built on Judeo-Christian values have thrived, to a state of what to the ancient world would think was paradise on earth. Societies in modern times who have abandoned God have rapidly become like hell on earth. That the promise of God has come true in such a simple material way is just one of innumerable proofs of the truth of the Bible.


I contend that we have seen societies thrive to the extent that they allow representative governments of the people, with protections for individual rights... and that we have seen societies decay to the extent that people are ruled by a small number (often one), with obedience demanded and failure to obey ruthlessly punished, and individual rights generally treated as unimportant.

In short, I think you've confused correlation with causality.


Kip wrote...
If you love science and respect evidence, be scientific! Conduct this experiment: pray to Christ to come into your life and see what happens!


How would you suggest establishing controls and measuring results on such an "experiment"?

Regardless... been there, done that. I was a fervent believer from the ages of six until about twelve or so. I also lived through my childhood, and saw the "results" that were dispensed to a true believer. Or perhaps "inflicted upon" would be a better way to characterize it?

I conducted intensive and sincere prayer for quite a span less than eighteen months ago, along with extensive Bible study.

I've seen what happened, and what didn't.