The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Hell of a Question

August 27, 2005 | 78 Comments

LucyMuff points out that the Devil will insult and otherwise torment Kafkafool in Hell, a conclusion I will accept for the sake of argument. But my question is this: doesn’t that effectively make Satan God’s ally, or at least His employee? It sounds like Lucifer is the warden running God’s prison. Presumably the two get together and decide who gets tortured how bad and things of that nature. Are they actually friends? If God really hates Satan, and ultimately destroys him, who would end up doing all the torturing?

I gotta believe that some theologian has considered and answered these questions. Any ideas?

Comments

78 Responses to “Hell of a Question”

  1. Oliver
    August 27th, 2005 @ 7:00 pm

    Very good point. Also the whole ‘pop theology’ idea that Hell is this firey place where Satan lives and where his little devils torture people, is completely unbiblical isn’t it? The NT talks about unbelievers being thrown into the lake of fire prepared for the Devil and his angels, as I recall (which sounds a bit like destruction), but also refers to eternal punishment. It’s very unclear if this stuff occurs immediately after death or just at the end of time, after the apocalypse etc, hence I understand the Catholics, and I suppose some others, have this concept that you are provisionally sent off the Heaven or Hell (or purgatory, which is a temporary stint of purging from sin through sufffering for the non-saintly – ie most people..) and then after the final judgment, once JC has come back and defeated Satan, then you are judged again and either go back to Hell for good or get to live with Jesus for ever. All seems very pontless and convoluted (and don’t ask me to explain all that crap in Revelation!).

    Either way Hell is not described as a place ruled over by Satan , doing, as you say, God’s work by punishing the non-Christians… Surely Satan would say ‘welcome to the party guys’ and identify with all the people who rejected God and Jesus, even if he, presumably, does believe in them.

    Oliver

  2. Oliver
    August 27th, 2005 @ 7:03 pm

    In fact Satan is described as being ‘Prince of THIS world’ is he not? Hence his tempting offer to let Jesus have all the kingdoms of this world if he worships him… And he is clearly very busy rushing round causing people to sin, so can’t spend much time in Hell.

  3. Oliver
    August 27th, 2005 @ 7:16 pm

    Yeah, and I just got the point about how if satan is DESTROYED ther would be no one to torture us.. though sometimes the Bible seems to use term like ‘destroyed’ or ‘death’ just to mean going to Hell, so maybe that’s the explanation? But otherwise… yeah…

    Some Christians like to claim that Hell in any case just measn being ‘separated from God and his love’ as opposed to actual torture – ie you feel pain from realising the Christians are having a good time with God and Jesus and feel left out. One thing I wonder about that is how can God therefore be omnipresent as he is said to be? Is Hell the only place in the multiverse where God is not?

  4. Tanooki Joe
    August 27th, 2005 @ 8:14 pm

    Actually, according to some Protestants, Satan is ruler of the world, not hell. The material world is sinful and wicked, and is viewed, in fact, as something of a hell. At the final judgment, Satan will be tossed into hell with the rest of the sinners and tortured forever/eternal separation from god/ sent to France. A very nihilistic attitude, to say the least, and one that in retrospect reminds me very much of the Zoroastrians and Cathars, both of whom held that the material world is sinful, and in some cases, created for the purpose of trapping and destroying evil.

  5. Kafkaesquí
    August 27th, 2005 @ 8:27 pm

    The idea of Satan as Hell’s landlord is a ruse rigged by early Christians and clung to by present ones as a way to avoid having to admit, to themselves as well as us, that their faith in an all-powerful God means He must be the one tormenting infidels like myself for eternity. They like to hold to the belief that God is al loving and infinitely compassionate deity, but the flip-side is he must also be all hating and infinitely sadistic if he’s really in charge of everything, including roasting me in the nether realm (pun intended).

  6. Jennifer
    August 27th, 2005 @ 11:27 pm

    Kafkaesqui – I had not heard that before, but that is great. Just as the wicked step mother and not the actual mother plays the villian roll in the fairy tale. Very nice.

  7. john bragg
    August 27th, 2005 @ 11:31 pm

    Well, the Book of Job paints Satan as a henchman of God’s, what in today’s politics we might call a “deniable rogue operative.” As for the nature of Satan’s Hell and his relationship to his fellow sinners, Heinlein’s “Job: A Comedy of Justice” paints Hell as a huge version of Ragtime New Orleans under a corrupt but not heartless political machine.

  8. Jason
    August 27th, 2005 @ 11:36 pm

    Just shooting from the hip here…C.S. Lewis’ comments on evil is that evil was not created, rather evil is a perversion of that which is good. He goes almost as far as to say that evil exists because good exists. It seems to me that while I would not contend that Satan is an agent of God, he is the antaganist of everything good–who else would do the job?

  9. Jennifer
    August 27th, 2005 @ 11:55 pm

    I always thought most of our views of hell came from Dante.

  10. Kafkaesquí
    August 28th, 2005 @ 4:57 am

    Jason, after reading a few of C.S. Lewis’ Christian polemics mumble mumble years ago, I came away with the feeling he was far smarter than the religion he pimped. That’s not a good thing to pick up on in writing that’s trying to gain influence towards the rightness of the belief (rather than the believer). Keep in mind that if evil is a perversion, God still had to create the conditions for it to flourish.

    Let’s face it, God has a fetish thing going with evil. Why else keep it around everywhere for so long?

    Jennifer, Dante was an excellent fantasist, but I think Milton’s physical conceptualization of the lake of fire Gehenna-like fall from Grace, as well as the idea that Satan is the perversion (there’s that word again) that draws evil from mankind, provided as much if not more influence, especially for Protestant sects, Dante being one of those damnable papists and all.

  11. Jason
    August 28th, 2005 @ 5:38 am

    Kafkaesqui

    I’m not clear on your position regarding Lewis. Are you saying that being the intellectual giant that he was makes Lewis’ faith all that much more convincing or are you saying that he was brilliant and engaged in an elaborate lie? That’s a stretch of conspiracy theory even for me.

    -Jason

  12. Oliver
    August 28th, 2005 @ 6:39 am

    I think Lewis just goes to show how some intellectuals can still hold ridiculous beliefs; and maybe even use that intellectual ability to rationalise to themselves the ‘truth’ of what to plain common sense is nonselse.
    I think it comes down to the emotion things as well, I think underneath he probably wanted to be a Chrstian – after all it was very much the mainstream culture of his time – and ended up justifying it to himself with intellectual arguments.

    Oliver

  13. a different tim
    August 28th, 2005 @ 7:19 am

    A little off the topic, and apologies if you have heard this already, but regarding the eternal torture in flames stuff…..

    Heaven is hotter then hell.
    We can calculate the the temperature of heaven from Isiah 30:26 – “the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days”. We must assume that Heaven is in thermal balance. Heaven recieves seven times seven times as much radiation as the earth from the sun and in addition another sun’s worth of radiation from the moon. It must therefore reradiate this heat back out to remain in thermal equilibrium. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann fourth power law for radiation the temperature of heaven works out at 798 Kelvin or 525 Celsius.

    Hell must have a temperature of less than 444.6 Celsius as this is the temperature that sulphur (brimstone) vaporises. Brimstone is molten in Hell as clearly stated in Revelations 21:8 “…the fearful, and unbelieving….shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone”. Lakes are conventionally liquid not gaseous.

    Heaven is therefore hotter than hell.

    Original scource: Applied Optics, 11, A14 (1972).
    My source: A random walk in science, Institute of Physics, 1973.

  14. charmaine
    August 28th, 2005 @ 7:26 am

    Jason: “evil exists because good exists”

    In the realm of opposites, which I consider those conditions to be, I don’t see how you can have one without the other. These two concepts have no real meaning without that other to compare each to.

  15. charmaine
    August 28th, 2005 @ 7:35 am

    The God/Satan myth began as just another way to illustrate the concept of yin/yang. Maybe to personalize it. Then, it got out of hand.

    Of course, this is only my personal belief.

  16. a different tim
    August 28th, 2005 @ 9:17 am

    beep!
    Manichean heresy.
    You goin’ to hell……….

  17. sternwallow
    August 28th, 2005 @ 9:18 am

    The good-evil dichotomy is often explained as charmaine said above, “I don’t see how you can have one without the other.”. In other words, evil is necssary as a contrast to good. This may be true, but I think it is not necessarily true. The same argument is made about light and dark, that you can’t perceive light without its “opposite”, darkness, for comparison. However, darkness is not the opposite of light, it the absence of light. So, by similarity to light, there could easily be just varying degrees of good with no evil necessary at all. God didn’t have to invent, encourage or permit the creation of evil.

  18. SteveR
    August 28th, 2005 @ 9:30 am

    I’ve often wondered why, if Satan, a ‘created being’, arguably the 2nd most powerful and intelligent entity in the universe (after the ‘Trinity’), couldn’t figure out that he was doomed to lose to the most powerful being. So why bother?

  19. Vernichten
    August 28th, 2005 @ 9:50 am

    There are several answers to your question, SteveR.
    Either God is not all-powerful, and Satan knows this
    or
    God is all-powerful and Satan doesn’t know this
    or
    God is all-powerful, Satan knows this, but either Satan has no free will, or he has limited free will, but is forced by an omnibenevolent God to serve as the Universe’s scumbag.
    or
    They are both constructs of language whose sole purpose is to allow for the discussion of abstract ideas
    or
    It’s an episode of Underdog, and Simon Bar Sinister has tricked everyone into thinking that a carpenter’s long-dissolved corpse is integral to their afterlife existence while his lackey, Cad, empties their purses and wallets into a giant sack.

    Eventually Riff-Raff will show up and then it’s ARMAGEDDON

  20. Jason Malloy
    August 28th, 2005 @ 9:52 am

    “kafkafool, it ok, yous will get more than plenty insults from devil in hell, and maybe some bum action as well, but hard and dry not lubed as you enjoy, for it is hell and not for fun times”

    “by the way, debbie, eat my cooch infidel whore idiot”

    Am I the only who suspects that LucyMuff is really Ali G?

  21. sternwallow
    August 28th, 2005 @ 9:59 am

    I can’t speak for Satan directly the way many theists claim to be able to speak on God’s behalf. Not the least of reasons that neither exists. BUT, If I were Satan, I would grab as many souls as possible, probably by telling them the truth, because each and every soul deprives God of a measure of His perfection. It means that God doesn’t entirely win, He has already lost some and therefore isn’t “omni” anything.

    God’s lip service to the importance of the “lost sheep” is shown to be hollow by His willingness (eagerness) to cast out those who wonder (doubt). The bounty limit of the elect to 144,000 leaving multiple billions to the adversary puts the lie to any claim that God will WIN the final battle. Do you think the North would have actually been victorious if only 5 people in the whole country were left alive at the end of our civil war?

  22. glenstonecottage
    August 28th, 2005 @ 11:08 am

    A Different Tim, I enjoyed your demonstration that heaven is hotter than hell.

    I guess one of my atheist heroes Mark Twain was probably wrong when he said “Heaven for climate, hell for company.”

    But I’m sure if he were here among us he’d enjoy your demonstration too.

  23. charmaine
    August 28th, 2005 @ 11:36 am

    I’m going with the Underdog episode.

  24. Buzz
    August 28th, 2005 @ 12:21 pm

    Hell is separation from God. God sends no one to Hell, individuals choose to separate themselves from God, first in this world, and then in the next. Satan’s rebellion was not an attempted revolution; he isn’t foolish enough to think he can overthrow the Creator of the Universe. It was a rebellion in the sense a child rebels against a parent even when the child knows he can’t prevail; the rebellion is for the sake of rebellion itself. People who refuse God’s love are free to do so. Eventually there will come a time when they are stuck with whatever choice they have made.

  25. Oliver
    August 28th, 2005 @ 12:51 pm

    So by that token didn;t God overreact a bit bvy throwing this naughty child out of Heaven and promising to eventually thrown him into a lake of fire. Ah no, forgot the Old Testament says if a child is disobedient they should be stones to death.

    Oliver

  26. Rob
    August 28th, 2005 @ 2:46 pm

    Buzz, for there to be a time when someone suffers forever because they made the wrong choices suggests a god without infinite compassion. It doesn’t matter who put them there.

  27. Mijae
    August 28th, 2005 @ 4:20 pm

    This “rebellious child” analogy makes me picture God as a real deadbeat dad. He’s never around, and just let his kids run loose grow up to be feral. So much so that they went and caused all the evil in the whole universe and deserve eternal punishment! He just can’t raise those kids right, I swear.

  28. Aequitas
    August 28th, 2005 @ 5:02 pm

    Saying that good cannot exist without evil and vise-versa is absolutely not a reason for evil to exist. If God created everything than He dictated that good and evil should work this way. In other words, He made evil necessary. If He really is omnipotent, He could have just as easily made evil unnecessary, and we’d all be living much better lives.

    I think sometimes people fail to grasp just how responsible God is. If he’s omnipotent and omniscient, then he is responsible for every single thing that does and does not happen, and to say that something “has to happen” or that God “didn’t have any other choice” is to concede that God is not omnipotent.

  29. Mister Swill
    August 28th, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

    I once saw a televangelist give a sermon in which he explained that the common view of Hell as eternal torture is all wrong. He mentioned the fact that Brimstone was used for cleansing in biblical times. He mentioned that Heaven is often referred to as “eternal life,” that God loves us all, and went on to tell a story about his family’s old, sick dog who they loved, but put down as an act of mercy.

    You can probably guess where this is going. According to him, sinners are as miserable as his old dog was, and Hell is where these suffering, worn-out souls go to get burned up and disappear. I still have a lot of problems with this concept, but I’ve got to admit that it’s much less cruel and irrational than they popular idea of Hell. I don’t remember how Satan fit in.

  30. Oliver
    August 28th, 2005 @ 5:49 pm

    That’s a cop-out – there are passages suggesting such an interpretation, but others that clearly mention eternal punishment, and that is what the Catholic Church has been teaching for the last 2 millennia. I think it is a huge distortion of language to speak of Heaven as Eternal Life etc when what is clearly meant to happen is we ALL get eternal life, just for some it’s nice and for some it’s nasty.

  31. Kafkaesquí
    August 28th, 2005 @ 11:58 pm

    Jason said:
    I’m not clear on your position regarding Lewis. Are you saying that being the intellectual giant that he was makes Lewis’ faith all that much more convincing or are you saying that he was brilliant and engaged in an elaborate lie?

    Neither of these are anything close to what I was saying. The first would be like claiming that Einstein being the brainiac he was means we should follow him in all things*. In logic circles that’s what’s known as appealing to a false authority. The second I agree with only if by “lie” you consider the human ability for complete and utter self-deception a form of lying. The point I intended with Lewis is that he *was* a very smart fellow, but his intellect tended to stick way out in front of his actual arguments on Christianity and other theological concerns.

    Lewis was born Catholic, spent much of his early life an atheist or agnostic, converted to the Church of England, married an atheist (admittedly she converted), then took to leaning towards Catholicism at the very end of his life, a religion he was often critical of. Sound like someone you can accept on the basis of his religious views? Also note how he moved over time away from Christian polemics and more towards devotional and children’s writing; search on the web for C. S. Lewis and Elizabeth (G. E. M.) Anscombe and see if you come away with the impression Lewis’ brains and his religion were a formidable team. Seriously, I believe you’d find a number of theologians today, at least the more rigorous ones, consider facets of Lewis’ Christian advocacy to be somewhat naive.

    And so ends my personal tangent from this topic of this comment thread.

    *Considering how bad Albert was at personal relationships, as well as a myriad number of other things, I’d rather not.

  32. Chris
    August 29th, 2005 @ 12:32 am

    Can you think of another way to provide freewill true love and still be just and true?


    Do you love freewill? Choice?
    Does a loving God destroy (annihilate) what he creates?
    Has anyone ever wronged you in any way?


    Hell is the absence of God.
    Hell is yours by choice.
    Hell is required for choice to even exist.

    God respects your choice. In fact, He considers it sacred. When you have been informed of absolute truth, and can seek and verify Him, yet you choose not to, then you have exercised your free will. God will not annihilate his creations, but he will eternally suspend their influence by denying them his permissive will. ( God also applies decretive and sovereign wills – decretive is creative, while sovereign is a directive – like a command).

    The exercise of God’s permissive will by allowing Satan to deceive others is done with the knowledge of the outcome, which through God’s sovereign will, becomes a positive result. We are in a massive trial.

    If there was no freewill, there would be no choice and hence no true love. We would be unable to love God freely and would be akin to lifeless dolls. So when God introduce freewill he allows love, but also allows sin – the choice to disobey God. You can’t have real love without the potential for sin – disobedience of righteousness. Such a singular choice is no choice at all. Given sin, there must be a means of testing that love, and another means of handling those who do not love you. No one wants to spend eternity with those who do not return your love – neither does God, hence Hell.

    The test of love is the Cross. Jesus Christ died on the cross as the ultimate expression of our Creator’s love for us. If we accept that love and reflect that love in faith, accept the cleansing of our sins, and obey God’s will, then we are invited into God’s rest – his eternal presence. Rejection of the Messiah’s love is a valid choice, but such a choice, accepted and held sacred by God means his absence.

    Satan has made his choice. The lake of fire perpetually suspends Satan’s ability to influence God’s people.

    The lake of fire is perpetual agony of unreturned love. All within the lake of fire will know the truth of God and yearn for him, but never be fulfilled. It will be cold, it will be dark.

    Again I ask: Can you think of another way to provide freewill true love and still be just and true?

  33. Aequitas
    August 29th, 2005 @ 1:02 am

    “Again I ask: Can you think of another way to provide freewill true love and still be just and true?”

    This is silly. We are not omniscient, omnipotent beings. As theists are so quick to point out, “if we were as smart as God, we would BE God.” Even if we can’t think of a way, God most certainly can, or else he’s not omniscient and/or omnipotent.

  34. sternwallow
    August 29th, 2005 @ 2:30 am

    Excuuuuuuuuse me. “The lake of fire is perpetual agony of unreturned love. All within the lake of fire will know the truth of God and yearn for him, but never be fulfilled. It will be cold, it will be dark.” Did you just say that the lake of fire, filled with molten sulfur burning eternally, is cold and dark? Oh, I’m sorry, yes you did. Huh?

    If Hell is simply the absence of God, doesn’t that mean that Hell is just a balmy as Heaven with all of your drinkin’ buddies as companions, but God not around? If not then Hell is terrible in its own right and the lack of God, much like on Earth today, is so small as to be incidental.

  35. Lucy Muff
    August 29th, 2005 @ 5:07 am

    why cant you get it? Likes I already told, the hell is fully explain in bible, and is for punishment of sinners. Now you shoul repent. It is not just not god, even tho that be bad beyond all else. it be also pain and suffer, so’s you can well know what you have done. yous all should listen to Chris, he know what he be talking about. it your choice, so don’t be crying when you end up there. even kafkafool can understand this simple idea. JESUS IS LORD.

  36. Erik
    August 29th, 2005 @ 8:53 am

    Once again, Christians have to dance around a topic which was pretty well understood for centuries, but is so hateful that it is embarrassing to any reasonable person. The concept of hell as the absence of god is clearly not what was intended, and directly conflicts with the notion of god’s everlasting love. Also, this concept cannot adequately deal with the problem of different punishments for different sins. It treats Gandhi and Hitler as equally sinful. I mean, either god’s love is absent or it isn’t. Indeed, the punishment of absence might even be worse for minor sins, because you would realize just how close you came to paradise but still missed out. I could imagine, for example, that the trauma of drowning in 3 feet of water, with oxygen just barely out of reach, might be worse than being 100 feet under.

  37. Hamilton Lovecraft
    August 29th, 2005 @ 11:24 am

    God set Lucifer up. See Neil Gaiman’s short story Murder Mysteries.

  38. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 11:31 am

    My basic problem with “free will” as described by Cristians, is, God says “Chooes me & live forever in paradise or don’t choose me & suffer for eternity in Hell.”

    Wouldn’t free will be more of choice without strings attached?

    Is it that no one would ever choose God with out the bribery & threats?

  39. charmaine
    August 29th, 2005 @ 12:08 pm

    sternwallow, “there could be just varying degrees of good with no evil necessary at all.” Yes, that’s possible. However, if that was the case, why would we need a definition of either? Without evil as a comparison, good would have no importance, and it’s definition would be endless.

  40. a different tim
    August 29th, 2005 @ 12:08 pm

    Plus, even if you do choose him, you can go to hell for getting it even slightly wrong, calling him by the wrong name, or being born in the wrong family or part of the world (it being true that most religious people stick with the religion of their parents).
    How’s an atheist to tell? We could pin up pictures of major religious leaders or icons and throw darts, I suppose. God might guide our aim.
    Or we could do it for fun.

  41. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

    Supposedly, God offers free will so that we choose him because we love him… so, if I tell my kids “Eat your veggies or I’ll whip you with this belt”… & they do eat their veggies… was it because they love veggies?… or love me?… or are afraid of getting whipped… I don’t see why God would be interested in people choosing him because they feared His anger if they don’t… if this actually is ok with Him, then he’s just an evil bastard…

  42. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 12:39 pm

    DamnRight: “Wouldn’t free will be more of choice without strings attached?”

    Don’t you think that statement is necessarily meaninglesss? How can “no strings” be attached to a choice? If you choose A, you reject B. If you choose B, you reject A. You can choose both A and B, but that’s also just a choice between all or nothing. And you can reject both A and B, and accept nothing or wait for something else.

    There are strings, aka: consequences, involved in every set of actions. In fact, the very nature of “choice” means merely accepting the alternative consequences of an act. You seem to suggest that there are consequence-less actions. I’d love to hear of one.

    The next aspect of your statement is even more absurd: free will without consequence (aka: strings). How can one truly choose A, if there were no consequence to choosing it? The idea is nonsensical. If you really choose A, then you sure as hell want A, or the immediate aspect of choosing A, to happen. Perhaps you mean to say that all choices should be truly informed, all consequences should be known. Well, again, that’s an impossibility when you deal with space and time, which we (and presumably all lesser-created beings, including the spirits, angels, devils, etc) must deal with. If you bought a house in New Orleans, did you choose for it to exist forever or to be levelled by a hurricane?

    In all fairness, I don’t think you mean to ask for a universe of no consequences. It’d be a truly ridiculous place, probably a sea of nothingness, where no matter interacted and caused reaction, where time made no difference, and where everything was a theatre of an illogical or insane mind.

    What you’re really asking is: why can’t we do things which are apparrently forbidden by God? What does freedom mean if we’re not allowed to do certain things? That’s what you’re really asking. Of course you want consequences to happen. Breathing in should cause air to enter your lungs. Moving your legs in a certain way should cause you to walk. Those are consequences we all want. But what you want are other consequences. Which ones? Maybe just casual sex? Or maybe other things like larceny, embezzlement, murder? Maybe just telling the truth when it suits you. Perhaps you’d want to do some of those things, but STILL be accepted by people who consider that stuff wrong? But isn’t that kind of ridiculous? To demand acceptance from people who consider those things pretty wrong, and in fact, criminal not only to the victim but also to the person committing the crime? Are we to be completely nonjudgemental? Isn’t judgement considered a good thing, an indicator of a rational mind?

    I’d be nice if perhaps you can rephrase your question.

  43. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 12:45 pm

    ok… why the paradise vs. eternal torture consequences… how about simply… choose me & you spend eternity with me… don’t choose me & you spend eternity without me… to expand th veggie example… why not just “Please eat your veggies because I love you & know what’s good for you.”… why introduce “the belt”… or worse, Hell… don’t forget, according to the bible, this is supposed to be a marriage analogy… what hopeful proposal adds “…or I’ll burn & torture you for the rest of your life”?

  44. John J. Simmins
    August 29th, 2005 @ 12:51 pm

    Scripture is full of declarations that people who commit particular sins will not go to heaven (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:9

  45. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 12:57 pm

    Wow, what a load that was… no answer to any questions posed… just regugitation of “scripture”… yes, Hell is a real threat (that doesn’t mean Hell is real)… my questions still is, why does God need a threat to get people to say “I love you”?… sorry, I can’t love someone like that… so, the supposed choice is mine… I choose to reject an imaginary being who threatens me to love him or die forever… please, give me freedom or give me death… & I’d still be interested in how many would “love” God if he wasn’t threatening them with eternal punishment or offering eteranal cake & candy…

  46. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 1:12 pm

    DamnRight: “how about simply… choose me & you spend eternity with me… don’t choose me & you spend eternity without me…”

    If you don’t want God (aka: don’t choose me), then why would it matter if you spend an eternity without him? Isn’t that what one would want, if one doesn’t choose him?

    You seem to think of “eternal torture” as something externally inflicted. You are mistaken. Everyone in hell wants to be in hell. Think of Milton’s phrase: better to rule in hell than serve in heaven. They do not want God to muck up their lives, in the now or in the hereafter. Otherwise, what you’re asking for makes no sense. You’re asking for someone who rejects God, spits in his face (as a lesser being like a dog biting his master), to nevertheless be taken care of as an infant for all time, to be enveloped in his presence. Seems a bit strange. God is more than willing to allow you to discover the fruits of his complete rejection. It’s not pretty. And of course, in the fullness of time, he allows people to repent. But there comes an end to all things, eventually. And at that end, there are people who will still refuse. God gives them what they want. They don’t want him? They don’t get him.

    Would you hold on to a murderous pit-bull forever, despite repeated failures in its training? Would you hold onto a pit-bull that’s doing everything in its power to get the heck away from you? Such a dog wouldn’t seem very “free”, would it? Letting it go would be an act of freedom, wouldn’t it?

    As for your question about veggies, aren’t you really questioning the value of discipline? Parents tell kids to eat their veggies because they know that veggies are good for children, and because they love their children they want their children to have the goodness that comes from eating veggies. Not all kids like veggies, but Parents discipline their children because they love them and try to teach them the proper way of things. A parent who fed his children chocolate for every meal would be a deliquent parent. And a child who was able to eat chocolate 24-7 would be a very abused child. Yes, children might resent being fed veggies at first. Perhaps later they’ll thank their parents for the discipline of making them eat veggies. Maybe they won’t thank their parents, but will enjoy the strength that comes from eating veggies. But parents are strict about these things because they’re trying to make their children realize the good from eating veggies: they want their children to be strong, and also they want their children to understand that the discipline involved in the order to eat veggies comes from love, and not mere tyranny. It is outside the realm of a child’s knowledge to understand that it is better to eat veggies than to eat chocolate all the time. Kids like chocolate and would probably prefer to eat it more often than veggies. Parents discipline their children so that they grow to understand in their own time the goodness behind the discipline.

    A dog might not like being forces to learn how to sit. But he does it, because it pleases his master, he gets a reward from it, and there are consequences if he fails to sit. Eventually, once the dog learns, he obeys out of choice because of that training. And the consequences cease. The dog obeys because after a while it becomes routine, and perhaps the rewards are greater than the fear of consequences. And maybe even the dog likes to sit when his master tells him, anticipating the reward, and wanting to please his master.

    If you want to question the virtue of discipline entirely, then go ahead. But I suspect most people will disagree with you.

  47. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 1:19 pm

    … “everyone in Hell wants to be there”… only if that’s the only way not to spend eternity with a mass-murdering, ego-centric ass-hole of a God…
    … discipline?… human fathers & mothers would be locked up for discipline consistent with God’s nature…
    … and, no, I wouldn’t destroy a dog that failed to obey me… not if I loved it… are you suggesting God only loves us if we obey him… is that in “scripture”?…
    … but, let’s say I did destroy a dog for disobedience, God is threatening to torure me forever for disobedience… so, I would be more loving & compassionate than God if I simply shot my dog in the head…

  48. tz
    August 29th, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

    First I would note that it is God’s will that all be saved, i.e. no one would go to hell, but he gave us a gift of free will. So not everything that happens is God’s direct will – He can’t make contradictions exist, so his will is the greater gift of our (and angel’s) free will, even if that means we can oppose it to his and do so with effect.

    But this creates a definition of Hell – the location permanently outside God’s will. The Devil is not his agent (discussing about torments or whatever). It is like several criminals locked outside of a safe city which they can’t enter, so they turn on and attack each other. The Devil does not “run hell”.

    Hell (gehenna) was created for the devil and his angels. We were not intended to be there. The torment probably contains some inter-being mockery, but is mainly environmental and/or internal. It is hard to describe the attitude, but consider someone who wants revenge on a whole city for some happening, and won’t even be happy if the city was firebombed, merely satisfied, but could never bring the destruction into being.

    There are probably many former atheists in heaven – but they could only understand after they could see fully and that only could happen after death. There will probably be quite a few in Hell too because they respond to the revelation of a loving God with hatred instead of wonder.

    Human reason is powerful but overrated. And that is not what points to our destination. Every human being tends to image the angels who love and serve God and his creation or the demons who hate God and his creation. By their fruits you shall know them. Matt 25 has the parable of the two sons, one who told his father he would not work in the vineyard that day, but repented of it and went out and worked, and a second son who said he would work but didn’t. Which one did the father’s will. Are you imaging an angel or a demon?

  49. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 1:35 pm

    DamnRight,

    I take it you think that discipline in some form is a virtue. What you dispute is the nature of the discipline, or the reasons behind it. You quibble with the creator of the Universe as a flea quibbles with an elephant. That’s fine. Obviously, of course, there are people who dispute your characterization of the nature of the discipline. Those people aren’t idiots, either. And I might suggest that your idea of God isn’t entirely genuine, or is perhaps misdirected. Ego-centric? Yes, he IS the person who created the universe, after all. But he’s also the same person who, presumably, died on the cross for all of us. The same theology that says he’s overly powerful is the theology that says he’s endured suffering for us to redeem all of our sins. There’s some meat there that obviously you’re ignoring or that you fail to understand. If you don’t want to understand it, then perhaps you shouldn’t participate in a debate about it.

    You seem to be hung up on threats. God is “threatening you” if you disobey. What would you say to someone who told you that the consequence of living a life as a hard-core drug addict is misery? Would you say that they’re “threatening” you and your choice to engage in the pursuit of a life of narcotics? Or that they’re being realistic? Again, consequences have actions. Choosing to abuse narcotics at every chance leads to ruin. It is a result necessarily intended from the beginning. Surely you see the analogy.

    What would you have God do? Welcome into his arms unrepentant murderers? I’m still not seeing what it is that you want. You obviously agree that discipline, in the abstract, is ok. Do you want God to not discipline people? To take away their freedom by saving them from the consequences of their actions? That would make people into robots. Is that what you want? Him pressing the “un-do” button whenever you screw up?

  50. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 1:39 pm

    I should state that my responses, obviously, are my own. I’m also speaking from a Catholic perspective. I know that certain people here are tribalist and if they see a distinction between 2 different Christians, will pounce on that and say: “Aha! You guys aren’t consistent so it’s all fake!” I hope people don’t engage in making those kind of false premises. Thanks.

  51. MBains
    August 29th, 2005 @ 1:59 pm

    Jeez…

    Good = proton
    Evil = electron

    Morality is demonstrated in every atom above the quantum level of its construction.

    Amorality is Quantum.

    Thus empical observations and decisions made upon that basis are always moral.

    Any other type of decision is amoral until its consequences are observed empirically.

    THUS, religious beliefs lead to either moral or imoral actions depending upon the probabilities of their emprical resemblance to reality.

    Good luck with that…

    (BTW, Lucy Muff is probably the RA’s significant other. Good luck with that too RA… )

  52. a different tim
    August 29th, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

    I am aware of the Catholic answer to this question (basically, free will and original sin cover it for both man and Satan) but remain strangely unsatisfied.
    1) It seems that an omnipotent God could have created a universe wherein every being, of its own free will, turned to him. Does your conception of omnipotence mean merely that God can do what he likes within the universe, or also that he could set the starting conditions? If the latter, how come he couldn’t set it up in the first place so everyone gets saved? If the former, is it really omnipotence?
    2) The argument that it is the best of all possible worlds (which is the way round 1)) does not, I think, stand up. Natural (as oppsed to man made) disasters would seem to contradict this. See Voltaire for details.
    3) The threats allegedly made by God are quite specific in many cases (lakes of molten brimstone etc). They are not just threats of his eternal absence.
    4) Saying we quibble as a flea does with an elephant doesn’t hack it, I’m afraid. We are fleas quibbling with other fleas who tell us they are agents of an invisible elephant that leaves no evidence for its existence, and that we should therefore do as they say or terrible things will happen to us. They have a book. They cklaim the elephant wrote it. I don’t think so. You’d at least expect to find the occasional footprint.

    As to 50, In general I have a certain amount of respect for Catholics as at least they do rational debate of a sort, unlike many of the more evangelistic sects. Aquinas made all these arguments some time ago and I don’t find him all that convincing either.

  53. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 2:43 pm

    Mr. Different Tim,

    1. ” It seems that an omnipotent God could have created a universe wherein every being, of its own free will, turned to him… If the latter, how come he couldn’t set it up in the first place so everyone gets saved? If the former, is it really omnipotence?” I’m sorry to be overly simple here, but free will means free will. Either we’re free to do evil, or we’re robots. However, that doesn’t mean that the Fall was inevitible. I can imagine a universe in which everyone is free to do evil, but has been overwhelmed by the presence of God and thus doesn’t do evil. We are only required to be “saved” because we have Fallen. It wouldn’t be necessary to be saved otherwise. Of course, we know that not everyone WAS overwhelmed by the presence of God, and thus they did commit evil. Heck, theology teaches that certain Angels, who are aware of the reality of God and his power, rebelled. Free will is, I think, very powerful and should not be underestimated. Anyway, this is merely my way of saying that God did not create robots.

    2. “Natural (as oppsed to man made) disasters would seem to contradict this.” I don’t think so. There’s a thread on Dawn Eden’s blog now (should be trackbacked to this post, I think) that discusses man-made disasters in relation to this theology. But they’re much better discussing it than me.

    3. “The threats allegedly made by God are quite specific in many cases (lakes of molten brimstone etc). They are not just threats of his eternal absence.” That’s certainly true. And a person who told you that a life of narcotics wouldn’t merely lead to a life of loneliness, but also the physical existence of medical problems, disease, possibly lack of adequate shelter, and perhaps a predictible cause of death, would all be saying the same thing. There are many consequences with both metaphysical and physcial realities. Still, this point seems entirely tangential to this debate.

    4. You’re correct in the sense that we’re fleas quibbling with other fleas. But “no evidence”? I disagree. Testimony is, after all, evidence, and credibility of people testifying should be judged accordingly. In a civil trial, when liability is imposed, or in a criminal trial when one is convicted, on the basis of testimony alone, the opponents always exclaim that “no evidence” was presented. But testimony is evidence. People seem to forget that. Also, I happen to think that there was other evidence that was physical. I think that the ressurection was literally true. That the miracles were true. Etc. Archeology seems to confirm that locations where things were supposed to happen have in fact happened there. I also think that the people who died by being fed to the lions, refusing to disavow what they physically saw, are credible. The apostles weren’t madmen on a power trip. They weren’t looking to build an empire, but to convert people. They were rational men, with clear writings. They were admirable, and honest, and humble. And I think that maybe there might be something to the fact that they refused to say otherwise about God when threatened, and when punished, with death. But if that doesn’t float your boat, that’s fine with me. I also happen to think that recent miracles, like Fatima, are credible. Again, that’s just me.

    I would still like to understand what people like DamnRight would want God to do.

  54. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 2:46 pm

    I suppose I should add that I probably won’t have time to respond much more today, but it’s always nice to comment here. I’ll try to read more when I get home from work.

  55. hermesten
    August 29th, 2005 @ 2:50 pm

    Christianity in a nutshell:

    “A dog might not like being forces to learn how to sit. But he does it, because it pleases his master, he gets a reward from it, and there are consequences if he fails to sit. Eventually, once the dog learns, he obeys out of choice because of that training. And the consequences cease. The dog obeys because after a while it becomes routine, and perhaps the rewards are greater than the fear of consequences. And maybe even the dog likes to sit when his master tells him, anticipating the reward, and wanting to please his master.”

    A primer on the “Christian” concept of governance:

    “Yes, children might resent being fed veggies at first. Perhaps later they’ll thank their parents for the discipline of making them eat veggies. Maybe they won’t thank their parents, but will enjoy the strength that comes from eating veggies. But parents are strict about these things because they’re trying to make their children realize the good from eating veggies: they want their children to be strong, and also they want their children to understand that the discipline involved in the order to eat veggies comes from love, and not mere tyranny.”

    Stating the “obvious”:

    “I should state that my responses, obviously, are my own. ”

    Really? Wow! You come up with this stuff all by yourself?:

    “What you’re really asking is: why can’t we do things which are apparrently forbidden by God? What does freedom mean if we’re not allowed to do certain things? That’s what you’re really asking. Of course you want consequences to happen. Breathing in should cause air to enter your lungs. Moving your legs in a certain way should cause you to walk. Those are consequences we all want.”

    You must be some super-educated smart lawyer or something.

  56. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

    Simple… I’d like God to be the loving individual He claims to be… sorry, I just don’t see it… he created everything, including Hell, evil, Satan etc…
    … but, I see no evidence that God exists, or if he ecxists, that he cares, or if He cares, he’s capable of doing anything about anything… just because “scripture” says he can & does, isn’t evidence of such…
    … nor does one’s claims of belief in God cause Him or prove Him to exist…
    … so, we are arguing about the ethics & workings of an imaginary being with imaginary powers…

  57. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 3:22 pm

    DamnRight,

    I’m not certain if you want a world where free will exists, or a world where it doesn’t. Either a world exists in which you can rebel against someone, or it doesn’t. Everything else seems to flow from that. From what I can gather, you want a universe where free will exists, but that there are no consequences to those actions. I suppose it’d be a world where murder causes no death and no pain (I don’t know what definition the dictionary would use to define “murder” in such a universe, but it’d be a word inconsistent with our knowledge of the act). If so, it’d be a world where nothing you did mattered at all. And THIS is a world that you think has freedom?

    The existence of evil does not mean that God isn’t loving. I don’t think you really understand free will. That your terms seem inherently contradictory is evidence of that.

  58. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

    I’m not asking for a world any different than what we have… I’m just disappointed that people need an imaginary abusive father to give assent to evrything they do…
    … and, I continue to suggest that a God that creates a system as evil as the one claimed by Christians, is not worthy of obedience let alone praise…
    … I would be more inclined to love a God who does not look to coerce my affection by punishment/reward…
    … I don’t train my dog to love me, he is easily trained because he loves me…
    … God (as the Bible describes Him) is obviously unloveable unless he offers the most fantastic of rewards and/or punishments…
    … the “Family of God” is the most dysfunctional I’ve ever witnessed, starting at the top…

  59. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 3:59 pm

    … one point I failed to address… my original post was questioning the Christian definition of free will…
    … not asking that free will be removed…
    … I just don’t see that bribing & threatening is true free will…
    … it’s why, in our legal system, we don’t accept confessions extracted under threat… of course, the history of the church is to extract recantings & repentance by torture & threat of death… so, I understand why your definition is different from mine…
    … so, I admit, I do not understand the mysterious ways of your God… hHis free will doesn’t mesh with my understanding of the concept…

  60. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 4:02 pm

    DamnRight,

    “a God that creates a system as evil as the one claimed by Christians, is not worthy of obedience let alone praise.”

    You say you wouldn’t want the would to be any different, so why claim it’s evil? Do you REALLY think that the universe is so bad?

    “I would be more inclined to love a God who does not look to coerce my affection by punishment/reward”

    Well, in fairness, I never said that God would “coerce” your “affection” by punishment/reward in THIS lifetime. There were plenty of saints who died poor, horrible deaths after everyone they knew renounced them. So I’m not one of those Christians who claims that virtue will make you rich and powerful. It probably won’t, especially in this Age. But I do think that the presence of God in heaven will be given to those who have faith in him and heed his commands. Those who don’t want God, won’t get him. It seems everyone gets what they want, so why complain? Oh, the fire and brimstone? I’m sure that it’d be preferable to God, who is “obviously unloveable.”

    “God (as the Bible describes Him) is obviously unloveable unless he offers the most fantastic of rewards and/or punishments.”

    News flash: You aren’t owed anything. And be careful, for your logic would also apply to YOU as well. Are you obviously unloveable unless you offer fantastic rewards and punishments?

  61. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 4:06 pm

    DamnRight,

    “I just don’t see that bribing & threatening is true free will.”

    So we’re not allowed to weigh consequences to our actions? The threat of the law should have no bearing on whether we kill someone?

  62. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 4:27 pm

    … I never claimed the world to be evil… I claim your God’s wolrd evil…
    … certainly, life has its consequences… there are evil & good elements… the concept of life’s consequences is insufficient for God… He prefers to forgive some mass murder while condemning another relatively innocent to eternal torture… that’s a special evil…
    … you never said God coerced your love… I said it… you haven’t shown He hasn’t coerced your love…
    … also, we’re talking about eternity, not here on Earth… I too agree that the concept of Christians being specially blessed is nonsense…
    … I hope I am loveable with the rewards/punishments… but, maybe I’m not… I would be leary of any that expressed love to me if I used that approach…
    … when did I suggest I was owed anything…
    … and yes, my logic applies to me… that’s why I approached the subject… I have evaluate the Christian claims of God, His love, his power, His widsom, etc… they don’t mesh… read His Bible… it’s full of His hateful acts & attitudes towards people… good job He’s justa figment of your imagination… but, should it turn out He exists & I’m wrong, I’m not interested in the “God of the Bible” any more so than I would be interested in staying under the same roof as an abuse father…

  63. DamnRight
    August 29th, 2005 @ 4:30 pm

    … adendum… our laws provide different consequences for different crimes… God lumps them all into “I don’t care what you’ve done or not done, your either rewarded for all eternity or tortured for all eternity based on nothing more than givng me your allegiance.”…

  64. Sydney Carton
    August 29th, 2005 @ 4:40 pm

    DamnRight,

    I’d love to respond to you, but unfortunately work demands my time. So you get the last word in. It’s been a pleasure.

  65. Chris
    August 29th, 2005 @ 5:42 pm

    DamnRight said:

    …but, should it turn out He exists & I’m wrong, I’m not interested in the “God of the Bible” any more so than I would be interested in staying under the same roof as an abuse father…

    I take it you actually mean with an abusive father.
    If that is true, then you have freely made your own choice, which I can respect.

    But now I’m curious: Could you please describe to me the gospel of Jesus Christ?
    What is the Good News?

    The reason I ask is that you appear uncertain regarding many points of the Word of God, and it would be a shame to make such an important decision on specious information – wouldn’t you agree? And there does seem to be many differing opinions out there.

    In fact any life-effecting decision should be founded on truth, right?

  66. LucyMuff
    August 29th, 2005 @ 5:50 pm

    good news is that JESUS IS LOVE, LOVE IS GIFT FROM GOD, argo JESUS IS GOD. Not know about yous all but for me this is the best news ever

  67. Sean
    August 30th, 2005 @ 10:46 am

    “JESUS IS LOVE”

    Maybe, but I want to have fun. I’ve thought about this question a lot…well maybe it really just crossed my mind a few times, and I’m of the opinion that hell is party central. Unless satan and god are buddies, I would bet that satan would not do as god says, which is to torture souls. The logical conclusion is that hell is a great place to be. Heaves would be boring.

  68. Lucy's ex boyfriend
    August 30th, 2005 @ 1:44 pm

    HEY LUCY!

    ………………………………………….._______
    …………………………………………/.._____..\
    ……………………………………….|../……….\..|
    ……………………………………….|..\_____/..|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|……_____..|
    ……………………………………….|..—–……..|
    ……………………………………….|..——-…..|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|…._____….|
    ……………………………………….|..——-…….|
    …………………………….______|..—-……….|______
    …………………………../…………|….——..|…………\
    …………………………|…………..|……—……|…………..|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|_____
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|……….\
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    ……________……..|…………/………………….\…………|…………|
    …./…………….\……|…………………………………………….\……….|
    ../………………..\….|…………………………………………………………\
    ..\__………………\..|…………………………………………………………..|
    ……..\………………\|…………………………………………………………..|
    ……….\………………|…………………………………………………………..|
    …………\………………\…………………………………………………………|
    …………..\………………\……………………………………………………….|
    …………….\……………………………………………………………………….|
    ………………\……………………………………………………………………..|
    ………………..\……………………………………………………………………|
    ………………….\………………………………………………………………../
    ……………………\___……………………………………………………../

  69. Lucy's ex boyfriend
    August 30th, 2005 @ 1:44 pm

    HEY LUCY!

    ………………………………………….._______
    …………………………………………/.._____..\
    ……………………………………….|../……….\..|
    ……………………………………….|..\_____/..|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|……_____..|
    ……………………………………….|..—–……..|
    ……………………………………….|..——-…..|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|…._____….|
    ……………………………………….|..——-…….|
    …………………………….______|..—-……….|______
    …………………………../…………|….——..|…………\
    …………………………|…………..|……—……|…………..|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|_____
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|……….\
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    ……________……..|…………/………………….\…………|…………|
    …./…………….\……|…………………………………………….\……….|
    ../………………..\….|…………………………………………………………\
    ..\__………………\..|…………………………………………………………..|
    ……..\………………\|…………………………………………………………..|
    ……….\………………|…………………………………………………………..|
    …………\………………\…………………………………………………………|
    …………..\………………\……………………………………………………….|
    …………….\……………………………………………………………………….|
    ………………\……………………………………………………………………..|
    ………………..\……………………………………………………………………|
    ………………….\………………………………………………………………../
    ……………………\___……………………………………………………../

  70. Lucy's ex boyfriend
    August 30th, 2005 @ 1:44 pm

    HEY LUCY!

    ………………………………………….._______
    …………………………………………/.._____..\
    ……………………………………….|../……….\..|
    ……………………………………….|..\_____/..|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|……_____..|
    ……………………………………….|..—–……..|
    ……………………………………….|..——-…..|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|…._____….|
    ……………………………………….|..——-…….|
    …………………………….______|..—-……….|______
    …………………………../…………|….——..|…………\
    …………………………|…………..|……—……|…………..|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|_____
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|……….\
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    ……________……..|…………/………………….\…………|…………|
    …./…………….\……|…………………………………………….\……….|
    ../………………..\….|…………………………………………………………\
    ..\__………………\..|…………………………………………………………..|
    ……..\………………\|…………………………………………………………..|
    ……….\………………|…………………………………………………………..|
    …………\………………\…………………………………………………………|
    …………..\………………\……………………………………………………….|
    …………….\……………………………………………………………………….|
    ………………\……………………………………………………………………..|
    ………………..\……………………………………………………………………|
    ………………….\………………………………………………………………../
    ……………………\___……………………………………………………../

  71. Lucy's ex boyfriend
    August 30th, 2005 @ 1:44 pm

    HEY LUCY!

    ………………………………………….._______
    …………………………………………/.._____..\
    ……………………………………….|../……….\..|
    ……………………………………….|..\_____/..|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|……_____..|
    ……………………………………….|..—–……..|
    ……………………………………….|..——-…..|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|………………|
    ……………………………………….|…._____….|
    ……………………………………….|..——-…….|
    …………………………….______|..—-……….|______
    …………………………../…………|….——..|…………\
    …………………………|…………..|……—……|…………..|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|_____
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|……….\
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    …………………………|…………..|………………|…………..|…………|
    ……________……..|…………/………………….\…………|…………|
    …./…………….\……|…………………………………………….\……….|
    ../………………..\….|…………………………………………………………\
    ..\__………………\..|…………………………………………………………..|
    ……..\………………\|…………………………………………………………..|
    ……….\………………|…………………………………………………………..|
    …………\………………\…………………………………………………………|
    …………..\………………\……………………………………………………….|
    …………….\……………………………………………………………………….|
    ………………\……………………………………………………………………..|
    ………………..\……………………………………………………………………|
    ………………….\………………………………………………………………../
    ……………………\___……………………………………………………../

  72. a different tim
    August 30th, 2005 @ 3:12 pm

    Sydney carton – (assuming you’re still there).
    In reply.
    1) Nope. Still doesn’t hack it.
    Every choice is consrtained by environment. “free will” is not simply free will.
    We must assume that an omnipotent, omniscient God could have created the universe in any configuration he wished. Since he is also omniscient and can see how it turned out, he could have created a universe where we did not fall.
    Especially if it was not inevitable.

    2) i do think so.
    I was not using them as an argument against the existence of God per se ( I am what AR would call a weak atheist – my disbelief is based on lack of evidence and that good catholic theologian William of Ockham). However the way out of the dilemna in 1 is to say that there is no universe where we did not fall, and that this is therefore the best of all possible universes. The existence of natural disasters tends to be evidence against that. I submit that Voltaire is probaly a clearer thinker on the issue than anyone on dawn Eden’s thread.
    Natural disasters, on the other hand, are perfectly expoected as random consequences of a Godless universe.

    3). You’ve made this drug analogy before and to be honest, I take offence. The notion that God would punish or exclude those who do the best they can to use the reason he allegedly gave us is obscene. If god is our parent, then he should accept that asking awkward questions – and expecting proper answers – is part of the process of growing up.
    Rational thought is not a narcotic, though I can see how it would seem that way to a theist.

    4) Testimony is suspect, especially when the nearest we have to a contemporary account is written some 150 years later (unless the synoptic gospels have been redated since I last checked). It is usual in history to look for physical – e.g. archaeological evidence as well.
    It would be difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt as in you court analogy on testimony alone if those testifying had a vested interest in the outcome. The apostles, however good they were as men, were, as you admit, trying to convert people and thus have a vested interest.
    the existence of bias in testimony – even unconscious or unintentional bias – is why we do double blind tests and the like in laboratories where possible, and try to triangulate historical legend by cross checking against independent sources.

    As to the physical existence of miracles, I am waiting for someone to demonstrate a bona fide miracle under laboratory conditions. If anyone does, it can be replicated etc I will convert. To say that God will not do miracles under these conditions is a cowardly evasion. If something is real, it is testable. Hearsay and rumour don’t count.

    Doubting Thomas got his proof when he asked for it. So, for that matter, did the priests of Baal. Apparently we are so much worse than they that we must accept blind faith instead.

    I appreciate that the Catholic position is that miracles are real, and that is as I would expect – Catholics do try for rational debate and some recognise the value of evidence. But it’s not just that it “doesn’t float my boat”, it’s that the epistemology is laughable, there is no methodology at all, and the fallback position (“you must have faith”) is insulting.

  73. a different tim
    August 30th, 2005 @ 3:14 pm

    sorry about the typoes.

  74. hermesten
    August 30th, 2005 @ 5:50 pm

    “Rational thought is not a narcotic, though I can see how it would seem that way to a theist.”

    Come on Tim, “reason is the devil’s whore.”

  75. a different tim
    August 31st, 2005 @ 2:17 pm

    Yup. but that was Luther, and Sydney Carton is a Catholic.

    I used the “Devil’s Whore” line in a song lyric once. I was trying to be all satirical and sarcastic about born again christains of the bombs-and-Jesus persuasion. But only two born agains ever heard it that I know of, and they thought it was a straightforward affirmation of their beliefs.
    Someone on this site (can’t remember who) said we shouldn’t believe Christians are necessarily dumb as toast. Episodes like that make me disagree.

  76. c matt
    August 31st, 2005 @ 6:49 pm

    Please eat your veggies because I love you & know what’s good for you.”… why introduce “the belt”…

    I think your analogy is a little off. The consequences are not veggies or the belt, the consequneces are more like eat veggies or suffer from illness. There is no belt involved. Its not that God punishes, its that God points out the consequences. Of course, just like with veggies, you are free to not believe the consequences of your actions. Might as well blame the doctor who tells you to take your medicine when you choose not to do so and get sick.

  77. a different tim
    September 1st, 2005 @ 2:31 pm

    I refer you to point 3) above, in my last post but one. Rational thought is neither an illness nor a narcotic.
    Personally I consider religion an illness. A bad meme. An evil mind virus. I’ve tried to avoid saying it in this thread as for the most part the debate has been interesting, but if you’re going to throw loaded terms in then so will I.

  78. jahrta
    September 2nd, 2005 @ 2:34 pm

    “He can’t make contradictions exist, so his will is the greater gift of our (and angel’s) free will, even if that means we can oppose it to his and do so with effect.”

    actually, angels aren’t supposed to have free will. they love and serve god because that’s what they were made for. in theory we were created with free will because we were favored above all other creations. see the bard Kevin Smith’s “Dogma” for a deeper understanding of this concept :)

  • Basic Assumptions

    First, there is a God.

    Continue Reading...

  • Search

  • Quote of the Day

    • Fifty Random Links

      See them all on the links page.

      • No Blogroll Links