Victor Reppert Against Calvinism

Christian philosopher Victor Reppert has made the same argument I have repeatedly made against Calvinism. He wrote:
God, by definition, is a being who is omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly good. A being who predestines people for everlasting punishment doesn't meet the third requirement, and therefore isn't God.
In the comments section below this post I wrote:
We agree about this Vic, very much so. The difference is that when I make this same argument Hayes and company ask me where my standard for objective morality comes from. Funny, the argument seems to stand on its own, for surely (without reading their comments) they cannot say that of you.

Which should they believe, that they have properly interpreted a historical conditioned book, or that the logic you present indicates that they have misinterpreted it?

Like you I'd go with logic every time, and they cannot say you don't have a standard for logic either. Yes, the divine decree is indeed "horrible" but those who accept that it is a divine decree are made to be horrible.

Oh, I'm sorry, I cannot make that same argument, can I? LOL
So the question I have is this one. What difference does it make who makes a particular argument? Why does it matter whether I make it or Reppert does? It's the same one.

I think it's foolish to say there is a difference at all.

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are no differences, but obviously Christians will think they have more room to argue certain points than atheists. After all, "only the fool says there is no god." You must be a fool.

I think you've pointed out an utter knockdown argument against Christianity using the very words of a Christian. If you accept Mr. Reppert's argument, then you must accept Mr. Loftus.’ But if you do accept Mr. Loftus’, then Christianity is incorrect. But if you don’t, then you must not accept Mr. Reppert’s either and Calvinism could be correct. The Christian is surely between a rock and a hard place here that any curious person with any concern for the truth at all would take very seriously. But alas, they do not.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

To read about true Calvinism see R.C. Sproul: Chosen by God.

Anonymous said...

Tom, start a blog and discuss among yourselves what is true Calvinism. I'd like to watch. LOL

lee said...

Both Calvinism and Arminianism both afirm that there is a necessary condition that is required before anyone can be saved. ("No man can come to me, Unless...")For the Arminian, it is prevenient grace; for the Calvinist, irresistible grace. The bottom line is that BOTH sides agree that those who do come to faith, come, because of their desire to come. The question then, is not who will be saved, but what is the determining factor upon which a persons salvation ultimately depends. Again, both sides agree, "whosoever will come." Why do those who come, come.

The Arminian arguing against the injustices of Calvinism is faced with an equally daunting challenge; millions upon millions of people will never hear the gospel, therefore will never have an "opportunity" for salvation. As a result, several extra-biblical theories have emerged to explain how a just God will deal with these. For me the Calvinistic God makes more sense than the Arminian, he may not be worthy of my worship, but at least he's consistent. He's not in heaven wringing his hands wishing that we would do something so he could intervene in our lives; at least he's not impotent.

Jim Holman said...

For a critique of Calvinism, I suggest Tom Talbot's book The Inescapable Love of God.

http://www.thomastalbott.com/

And also, check out the book on Amazon.Com. The link is too long to post here.

Talbott is a universalist and professional philosopher, and a retired (as I recall) professor of philosophy, specializing in philosophy of religion.

I was one of his students in the late 70s and early 80s. I disagree with him on many issues, but he is no intellectual slouch, and he addresses religious issues from a rational, philosophical point of view -- which means that he is often a target of criticism from other Christians.

Note to the blog owner: if you want a worthy opponent, Tom Talbott is the real deal. And he might be willing to cross swords with you.

As always, in my humble opinion....

John Murphy said...

Let's assume for the sake of argument that there is indeed such a thing as hell. Will there be one person in hell that can honestly say, "I wanted to come to faith, but I wasn't predestined." Answer: No. People who do not follow Christ are making their own choices and will tell you so. From the perspective of the human, he is making his own free choice. Are any of you atheists because you weren't predestined to faith? Of course not. You are atheists because it is a choice you made.

How does the free choice of man fit with God's sovereignty? That is a mystery that is beyond me (as well as every other human). The Scriptures teach both as true. Could it be that they are indeed both true, that it is something beyond our comprehension? Absolutely.

lee said...

John Murphy: "From the perspective of the human, he is making his own free choice. "

Is free choice without prior motivations, dispositions or inclinations? Is free choice simply a matter of caprice? I don't like the doctrine of original sin, but it is still considered orthodoxy for what much of what evangelicals and especially fundamentalist believes.
Scripture, like it or not, still suggest that man is incapable of affecting his own salvation;" even the Arminian branch believes that there is a necessary condition that must be met before anyone CAN come to Christ. "But the carnal mind is in emnity with God, for it is not subject to the laws of God, neither indeed CAN (refers to ability) he be." Free will is not the ability to choose spontaneously without prior motivations determining or effecting our choices; free will is simply choosing what we want, choosing what we desire. If we do not have a desire for Christ, how can we choose Christ? It is like going out on a blind date with a woman that repluses you and then marrying her. Try to think of one instance where you chose something that was not your greatest desire at the moment of choice. Ever heard of buyers remorse? Buyers remorse is the desire for...the new car or whatever.... that has diminished since you made your purchase.
What most free willer's are suggesting, is tantamount to an effect without a cause; something from nothing. Even from a secular and philisophical perspective, by the time we consider our genetic predispositions, add to that our environmental influences, add to that our previous choices that effect or determine our future decisions; we begin to understand why many of the greatest philisophical minds did not believe that man was free, including perhaps, the Apostle Paul.

Anonymous said...

Nope,

Atheist are ateists because they want to be atheists. God, by His grace takes out the heart of stone and puts in a heart oflesh and then we want to come. We freely choose Him because we want to choose Him. God doesn't POSITIVELY predestine anyone to hell. He passes over them and allows them to perish in their sins.

Calvinism

Positive-negative
asymetrical view
unequal ultimacy
God passes over the reprobate


Hyper-Calvinism

Positive-positive
symmetrical view
equal ultimacy
God works unbelief in the hearts of the reprobate.

Kyle P. said...

To answer your question (which you probably already knew the answer to), John: It doesn't matter WHO makes the argument; only whether the argument is flawed, or sound. People asking you where you get your morality from is a complete non-sequitur, of course.

This is not unlike an argument that C.S. Lewis once made (which my former pseudo-fundy boss told me about) that made me laugh pretty hard. He said that Lewis didn't think a person who was a moral relativist could ever argue with anyone about whether or not they were right or wrong, because the moral relativist had no real reason to want to argue: They didn't believe in right or wrong. Of course, I immediately saw the equivocation, but didn't bother pointing it out. I didn't realize the non-sequitur until my wife pointed it out.

lee said...

Tom2:" God, by His grace takes out the heart of stone and puts in a heart oflesh and then we want to come. We freely choose Him because we want to choose Him."

I would refer you to the laws of non-contradiction.

"God, takes out / Puts in..... and THEN we choose. We freely choose because he "puts in." If he doesn't, "put in," we will never "freely choose." You cannot make a better case for Calvinism.

lee said...

You know the most annoying part about the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism? It is the fact that since ANYONE who wishes to come to Christ CAN come to Christ, ("whosoever will come,") that both sides never seem realize that it does not make a wit of difference about WHO will be saved. There is not one soul saved in Arminianism, that will not be saved in Calvinism; and there is not one soul saved in Calvinism that is not saved in Arminianism, since anyone who wants to "choose" Christ CAN "choose" christ. This whole exercise is about why those people who come to Christ, come to Christ. Again, we are not talking about WHO, but WHY.

What is the difference between saying; " God pre-determines who will be saved," than it is to say: "He created us all unique, with different talents, passions and abilities, which for some includes a propensity for an affection for Christ."

Anonymous said...

There is no contradiction. Those who don't believe don't want to. God performs a miricle and changes the heart and then man wants to come. In the everybody gets what they want.

Anonymous said...

God isn't obligated to show grace to those who don't want it. Those who don't want it reject Him and are justly condemned. God shows grace to His children and then they want to come. God doesn't force anyone against their will. Rather He performs a miricle on the heart and then we want to come. We freely choose Him because we want to. This has always been the teaching of Calvinism. This is not me trying to make a better case for it.

Like I said. In the end everybody gets what they want.

Lee Randolph said...

tom2,
I believe that I will drown in water even though i have never experienced it because of the overwhelming evidence that converges on that point. I don't choose to believe that it just happens. I don't choose not to believe in god, it just happened over time it just fell away.

I don't believe that anyone chooses to believe anything, it is just an emotional response that occurs when enough data occupies the right spots in your brain.

I think people can deceive themselves into thinking they believe something. Like I think that christians deceive themselves into thinking they believe in god BECAUSE they love him, when the case is really that if there was no hell or heaven, they'd just call it silly.

Christianity is just a negotiation and agreement to terms between a human and an imaginary god.

The negotiation and agreement part is what gives away its HUMAN ORIGIN. a real God of the type described in the bible could do anything he wanted to without the need to negotiate.

Virtues and morals are independent of christianity. Once you take that away, all you have is a negotiation for people to love god and for god to reward them for it.

I'll send you two hundred dollars through paypal if you'll say you love me and mean it.

Anonymous said...

Lee,

You don't believe because you don't want to. Nothing has forced you not to believe. The evidence is clearly there. You supress the truth of your own will. It's not selfish to love God because He satisfies the soul with the promise of infinite pleasure and delight. Selfishness seeks it's own private pleasure at the expense of someone else. Love seeks it's joy in the holy joy of the beloved.

Lee Randolph said...

and another thing, reppert and john say that predestination negates a premise of god. yes it does.

but the insistence of free will does as well. God being omniscient knew how we would turn out before he made us. He should have only made the ones he knew would qualify.

This points to a human origin for god as well, because either god is not omniscient or he qualifies under Johns and repperts conclusion.

Whoever assigned god the properties of infinity didn't think it through.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi tom2,
You don't believe because you don't want to. Nothing has forced you not to believe.

I challenge you to pick something you believe in and choose to stop. Then when you fail, as you and we know you will, retract that.

philip m said...

lee r.,

I'm literally just passing through here at a million miles an hour, but I'm pretty sure that's not a good test for proving that we cannot choose what we believe. The process of forming a belief may take time, and generally people choose to accept certain beliefs by choosing to move towards them directionally over a period of time.

When he formulated his wager, Pascal understood that people can choose a belief like they can choose to turn on a light switch, so he had to address this. His answer to it was extremely practical. Rather than paraphrase, here it is:

"Endeavour, then, to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. Even this will naturally make you believe, and deaden your acuteness. "But this is what I am afraid of." And why? What have you to lose?"

Anonymous said...

Lee,

I'm not refering to libertarian free will here. I can't choose to stop believing in God simply because I don't want to. Just as God is free to do what He wants but He cannot sin because of His nature. He doesn't want to sin. He's truely free. Free to do what He wants to do. God doesn't positively predestine anyone to hell. He passes over them and lets them perish in their sins. God SOVEREIGNLY chooses His people. He doesn't look down through the corridors of time and forsee who will believe.

lee said...

Philip M: "When he formulated his wager, Pascal understood that people can choose a belief like they can choose to turn on a light switch, so he had to address this."

Actually, Pascal's wager has a very serious flaw. I like Blaise because his birthday is the same as mine June 19 but I digress, which God do you believe in? There are over 33,000 denominations in the Christian faith, many of which hold conflicting or even contradictory views over matters which they hold to be necessary conditions of salvation. For example, the instrumental cause of justification for the catholic church is baptism, (by a catholic priest.) For Protestants, the instrumental cause of justification is faith. Simply put, catholicism deems protestants as not part of the universal church, on the other hand many protestants view Mary's veneration as the worship of false gods, just to name one obvious example.

The problem I keep hearing is we are both agreeing that man chooses in accordance with his free will, I am contending that all free will is, is the ability to choose what we want. Besides, you still have not addressed the issue of how does God deal with those who never heard the gospel? If God is omnipotent, he certainly has the power to make sure everyone has an opportunity to make their, "choice" so why doesn't he? He could write his gospel in the clouds if he so desired. It seems that even Arminians have to come to terms that many are born into this world without hope. Dead on arrival, and there is nothing they or anyone else can do about it. If God is unjust for choosing who will be objects of his grace, why isn't he unjust for allowing people who are born into this world with the predisposition toward sin, lost at birth because of Adams transgression, to perish without an opportunity.

lee said...

BTW, I am Lee B not Lee R. Lee R. however is the educated one; I carry his water.

Lee Randolph said...

philip m,
choose something you believe in and stop. Bet you can't.

I think people can deceive themselves into thinking they believe something.

When it gets down to crunch time is when the they find out what they really believe.

I don't doubt that principles of persuasion can instill a belief in someone, but this is done against their will, by manipulating information in a way that takes advantage of the brains natural information processing algorithms.

look into witness testimony and principles of persuasion. Look up Loftus (not john) and witness memory.

get a copy of "how we know what isn't so" and read it.

And don't overlook the fact you are refuting a christian argument that "atheists were never real christians in the first place."

Lee Randolph said...

and another thing about this 'god gives us free will' crap.

in the job i do, i profoundly affect peoples lives and I constantly hear, "god was looking out for me".

they don't know it was me the athiest.

go ahead an tell me that god works through me and then tell me he gave me free will.

Anonymous said...

Lee,

God gives you the desire. It's by His grace. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All have spurned the infinte worth of God's glory and all deserve eternal suffering. Grace (common or saving) is never owed. God is not obligated to show grace if He was it wouldn't be grace. In regards to saving grace One group gets what they deserve (Justice) the other group gets what they don't deserve (grace)

Neither is God obligated to show His blessing. God is never obligated to show grace. Thus God does nothing wrong in allowing evil and suffering either.

As far as Adam He was our representative in the garden. He was chosen by God to be our representative. I can never argue that Adam was a poor representative for me because God knows everything and infallible.

lee said...

I can almost hear, "A Mighty Fortress" in the background.

God's ways may be beyond our ability to reason, but they are not LESS than reason. God, choosing a federal head for all humanity, knowing that he would fall, that millions upon millions would spend eternity in hell being tortured and tormented infinitely for finite sins, that these fallen people, acting according to their fallen nature, incapable of affecting their salvation unless God intervenes, which, for most he does not, is a plan that is horrendous, appalling, obscene and and is illustrious of a god unworthy, even if he did exist, of our worship. This is the equivalence of God punishing retarded children for being born retarded. Even if you tell me, am I'm sure you will, that we choose to reject god, you still have the problem of millions and millions who never hear the gospel and therefore have no opportunity for salvation. Reason tells me; the very same reason that makes words intelligible and coherent, that allows you to understand scripture, that reason, tells me that if you ascribe this plan to any man, he is evil beyond comprehension. Is god less ethical than man?

Anonymous said...

Lee,

I'm making a distinction between natural ability and moral ability. Fallen man has not lost his ability to make choices. He is still able to choose what he wants. He can act according to his desires. Yet, because his desires are corrupt he does not have the royal liberty of those set free unto righteousness. Fallen man is in a serious state of moral bondage.

God makes decisions but He is "moraly unable" to sin. This inability is rooted in His character, His internal righteousnesss by which He never desires or is inclined to sin. HE doesn't want to sin.

Likewise, in our glorified state in heaven we will be unable to sin because all our desire for sin and all remnants of original sin will be removed from us. We will choose what we want but we will choose only the good because this is all that we want.

God is not obligated to save those who don't want it. God lets them have what they want. Seperation from Him. In the end everybody gets what they want.

Lee Randolph said...

Tom2,
if you'd stop parroting for a moment and engage your brain, Please work out for me exactly how we have free will if god made us and knows how we will turn out before he made us because I don't get it. Its a stumbling block to my belief.

Lee Randolph said...

lee,
thanks for the kind words. Your check is in the mail
;-)

Anonymous said...

Lee,

I don't claim "free will." I claim compatibalism. God's intentions in allowing an evil act are good man's intentions in doing it are evil. One act. Two intentions.

Lee Randolph said...

tom2,
so how does that reconcile that we have free will even though god knew how we would turn out before he made us?

Excluding suffering, there is no point in making a non-believer.

Therefore non-belief shows that the christian god is not likely.

Anonymous said...

Lee,

From all eternity God has chosen to intervene in the lives of some people and bring them to faith and has chosen not to do that for other people. From all eternity, without any prior view of our human behavior, God has chosen some unto election. Human choice is made but the choice is made because God first chooses to influence the elect to make the right choice. God's choice preceeds man's choice. We choose Him because He has first chosen us. Without divine predestination no one would ever choose Christ. From all eternity God forknew His elect in the sense of foreloving them and had a prior idea of their personal identities.

philip m said...

Lee,

I love having birthdays with cool people! You got a good one with Pascal, I'm very jealous. But I don't have it too bad myself: I share a birthday with Marcus Aurelius and was born 100 years to the day after Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Your completely correct in pointing out the Pascal's Wager presupposes two options for consideration. The only addendum you need to make to accomodate this caveat is assume a position on the matter you raised. For instance, if a naturalist was considering becoming a Catholic because they were convinced of Catholocism's veracity, this point wouldn't have any force. For a person who has no clue what the heck is going on in Christianity, your point might hold more sway.

I wasn't really dealing with the primary topic discussion, but since prompted I will. We know from the Bible that not only those who hear about the historical (or ontological) person named "Jesus" will be saved. This is from versus such as Romans 2:7 and Revelatin 5:9 among others. How precisely this works isn't clear, but the ultimate conclusion for a believer in this position is to understand that God's perfect justice means exactly what it is. Everyone will get exactly what they deserve, all considerations included. The missing variable is being supplied by us here living out our lives, because your life demonstrates what you ultimately think the truth is, and is in thought, words, and deed sufficient for God to know what it is you desire.

lee randolph,

I already told you that was an awful test for determining whether or not we can choose to believe something. People believe what they want to believe on the issue of life, since there is believers in every group there is obviously a way to believe it, and thus those who want to believe it find that way. A person who understands both sides of an argument extremely well realizes that it comes down to choice since there are cases to made on both sides of the issue.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Tom2,
From all eternity God has chosen to intervene in the lives of some people and bring them to faith and has chosen not to do that for other people.
....
From all eternity God forknew His elect in the sense of foreloving them and had a prior idea of their personal identities.

so how is god justified in punishing someone for doing what they are made to do? That is, not believe in him?

Anonymous said...

Lee,

God passes over them and allows them to perish in their sins.

Remember the don't want to have anything to do with God and they reject Him.

Anonymous said...

Like I said earier God's intentions are good in allowing evil man's intentions are evil. Fallen man does what He wants to. He rejects God and is therefore justly condemned.

It is willful and wanton rebellion.

Lee Randolph said...

tom2,
I wish I had the time to put your contradictory statements together in one comment but I don't. I'll just point out that you're argument is incoherent.

another last point then I'll say thank you and good day,

Remember the don't want to have anything to do with God and they reject Him.

I know that fire will damage me, that is why i choose not to set myself on fire in the weekends to pass the time. If I really believed that I was going to burn in a lake of fire, or whatever, I wouldn't act in a way that would get me there.

In fact, if this all-powerful, all everything entity would just take a little time out of his day to pop into my office and sit down and have a chat with me, like my other friends do from time to time, it would go a lot further in helping me sustain my beleif. I don't doubt the existence of my friends, and it takes more sacrifice and commitment for them to visit because they are not all powerful.

Christianity is incoherent because it is folklore that has resulted from the meshing of ideas, some of them mutually exclusive, for thousands of years. Don't beleive me? Read up on the infighting in the early christian churches. They were closer to the source than you are, and most those problems they discovered back then, have shown to be irresolvable because they are still with us today.

Amen. Bhrahmin. Abraham. Read up on the axial age, the hellenistic period, the indo-arians, the buddaha, there is reason to believe the Greek Zeuss came out of India in the indo-arian migration that went as far as ireland, and resulted in the foundation of the English language.

Anonymous said...

Lee,

There are no contradictory statements. Fallen man doesn not want what He needs. He doesn't want to believe in God. He doesn't love God. He hates Him. God by His grace performs a miricle on the heart of man and then man wants to believe. Man then belives because He wants to. He has a changed heart. He goes from a God hater to a God lover.

We freely choose Him because we want to choose Him. We choose Him because He has opened our eyes to see His Beauty.

From all eternity God has chosen to intervene in the lives of some people and bring them to faith and has chosen not to do that for other people. From all eternity, without any prior view of our human behavior, God has chosen some unto election. Human choice is made but the choice is made because God first chooses to influence the elect to make the right choice. God's choice preceeds man's choice. We choose Him because He has first chosen us. Without divine predestination no one would ever choose Christ. From all eternity God forknew His elect in the sense of foreloving them and had a prior idea of their personal identities.

God positively chooses an elect people and passes over the reprobate and leaves them in their sins. It is willful and wanton rebellion.

Lee Randolph said...

ooops,
Greek Zeuss came out of India

the word zeuss is very similar to the ancient indus valley word for god.

I wanted to clarify that before I got body slammed.

lee said...

Tom2: "I don't claim "free will." I claim compatibalism. God's intentions in allowing an evil act are good man's intentions in doing it are evil. One act. Two intentions."

Augustine said man had a "liberalis arbitrium" free will, but what he lost in the fall was "libertas"; mortal liberty. I got it! Maybe because I taught it at a reformed presbyterian church. I can also parrot Luther in "The bondage of the Will" and Edwards in "The Freedom of the Will."

As I said earlier though, it does not make a wit of difference about who is saved since even those who come by irresistible grace, come because they choose to come.

Lee R. articulated the sticking point that eventually derailed my belief when he said: "so how is god justified in punishing someone for doing what they are made to do? That is, not believe in him?"

"We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners" because of the fall, man is predisposed to sin according to classic historical orthodoxy, he has a prior motivation, a prior inclination toward sin. He has this prior disposition because someone chose a representative 6,000 years ago that he had absolutely no say in. The failure of that representative will result in millions upon millions of people being tormented and tortured in a manner that is incomprehensible forever and ever without end. These millions are acting in a manner that was IMPOSED upon them by the actions of another (Adam). They had no say whatsoever in choosing the representative, or under what disposition that they would be born into this world. You can call that righteous, holy, and just if you wish, but that is unfathomable even if a human came up with such a scheme, how much more unfathomable is it to believe an omni-benevolent being cooked it up.

As I have said before, God's ways may be beyond our ability to reason, BUT THEY ARE NOT LESS THAN REASON. This schema is equivalent to God punishing retarded children for being born retarded.

Lee Randolph said...

hi lee,
bravo!
you made your point quite forceful-lee, compelling-lee and eloquent-lee.

I hope you stick around.

Anonymous said...

Lee,


No they willfully choose to rebel against God. It's willful and wanto rebelling. Those in hell willfully have rejected the Creator. Your analogy fails. It' not the same thing.

lee said...

Tom2: "No they willfully choose to rebel against God. It's willful and wanto rebelling."

"But the carnal mind is in enmity to God for it is not subject to the laws of God, neither indeed CAN he be."
In other words, neither does carnal man have the ABILITY to do so. "Can," does not refer to permission, it infers ability.

"And you who were DEAD in trespasses and sins, who once walk in accordance with the course of the this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience among whom we all walked in times past, in the lust of the flesh fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by NATURE children of wrath just as the rest, BUT GOD.... not, but man, who has this island of righteousness in himself, pulls himself up by his boot straps and inclines himself to faith, BUT GOD.

" NO MAN CAN COME TO ME unless it has been granted unto him by my father." or vs 37 " No man can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him." The word "draws" from the greek "elios" mean to compel by irresistible superiority according to kittles theoloical dictionary. Arminians use it as "woo or entice" but the two places it is used in the new testament Acts 19 and James 2) the word used is DRAG; as in Acts 19 " but when her master saw that their hope of profit was gone they seized Paul and Silas and DRAGGED them into the marketplace before the authorities."

Fallen man is incapable of affecting his salvation unless God intervenes on their behalf; and even if you don't like the Calvinistic version; the Arminian version still has millions upon millions who never hear the gospel and therefore NEVER HAVE and opportunity for salvation. If you offer up ANY theory of how God will deal with these people, you will have to offer an extra-biblical theory, because scripture does not address this at all.

lee said...

Post script.

The reason "elios" is also translated as "draws" is due to instances where this word is used in classical greek literature; for example a play by "Euripidies." It is always used to convey "drawing" water from a well. Unless you know how to woo or entice water out of a well, it still requires, irresistible force.

Rachel said...

Lee,

so how is god justified in punishing someone for doing what they are made to do? That is, not believe in him?

No one was "made" to sin or not believe. But IRT the issue of Adam's sin and the rest of us suffering as a result... are we justified in punishing criminal behavior by people who are genetically predisposed to that criminal behavior?

lee said...

Rachel: I'm sorry, what is IRT? I'm not understanding what you are saying.

Rachel said...

Lee,

I'm sorry, I think I mixed up the two Lee's. After rereading the comments here, I realized I was quoting Lee Randolph, but then addressed one of your comments.

IRT = in regard to

I was addressing these comments of yours:

"We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners" because of the fall, man is predisposed to sin according to classic historical orthodoxy, he has a prior motivation, a prior inclination toward sin. He has this prior disposition because someone chose a representative 6,000 years ago that he had absolutely no say in.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rachel, Lee,
my two cents
No one was "made" to sin or not believe. But IRT the issue of Adam's sin and the rest of us suffering as a result... are we justified in punishing criminal behavior by people who are genetically predisposed to that criminal behavior?

Rachel, if you look in the bible we were made to sin. we are born into sin. The idea to disobey god had the potential before it was presented, there was somewhere that idea could take root, Adam was not impervious to bad ideas even though he was impervious to dissolving in water. There are boundaries that were imposed on adam, but evidently free will and insulation against bad ideas was not one of them.

And scientifically, you can see that we have plenty of biological algorithms that are beneficial for our survival but that contribute to our 'sin'. In fact, sometimes 'sin' arises out of a pathology of which the patient has no choice. I spent quite a few months here exploring biological bases for behavior, that and free will are some of my favorite topics.

anyway, we are justified in punishing people that behave badly simply because we need to mitigate harm. We need to take them out of society. The difference comes in when we talk about justice and punishment. Human Justice is intended to change behavior or re-habilitate. Jehovas justice is in causing suffering in hell of some sort for succumbing to the emotional ebb and flow that occurs in the three pounds of meat that we are locked into.

the difference is a contrast between the human intent of rehabilitation and the divine intent of punishment by suffering. Humans are more tolerant of the human condition than god is because we understand it better now than the ancients that compiled all this folklore.

the problem arises in the free will and sin debate when the terms justice and punishment start being equivocated, or lose their frame of reference between discussants.

I wish christians would start researching WORLD HISTORY from 40,000 bce to 500 ce with an emphasis in the axial age. They'd see how silly most of their comments are.

look up syncretism, sumeria, mesopotamia, ancient egypt, indus valley, harrapas, and also the old standards, greece, minoans, phoenicians, canaanites, hittites, fertile crescent, trade between the indus valley, sumeria and mesopotamia, and follow the water, and pay attention to ancient peoples whos culture and religion idealize life as a journey. key word "Journey" as in spiritual and economic and trade.

Lee Randolph said...

in the paragraph above I fell into a bad habit that I hate to see in other people. Talking about mythic stories as if they were true.
For the record, Adam and Eve are a myth.

I see that bad habit as contributing to the persistence of bad ideas.

Scott said...

We freely choose Him because we want to choose Him. We choose Him because He has opened our eyes to see His Beauty.

This as if God decided to make some people with eyes, but not others. Then decided to punish those who he did not give eyes because they could not see him. How does this make sense?

It is willful and wanton rebellion.

Imagine you build 20 robots. initially you program all of the robots with an algorithm to rebel against humans, but then you choose 10 specific robots and reprogram them with a different an algorithm designed to help humans. Finally, you put these robots in a room with human beings.

What would you expect to happen? Half of the robots who were programmed to help humans would choose actions that were helpful to humans. The other half would would choose actions that were rebellious against humans.

While it's true that, once re-programmed, half of these robots would be pre-disposed to rebel against humans, the mere factual knowledge of their disposition to rebel is an incomplete picture. They did not create or program themselves.

In fact, these robots would not even exist had they not been created or programed by someone or something else. So why should they be punished for their predisposed disposition which was imposed on them beyond their control?

In addition, Hume's view is that choices are free unless it involves compulsion by another person. Since a natural universe and physical laws are not persons, it is a category error to speak of our actions being forced on us by nature.

However, if God designed human beings, the universe and the laws of nature in such a way that his plan must come about, then he is the 'person' who has ultimately compelled those he has not chosen to reject him.

In a natural universe, there is no 'person' behind the scenes who stacked the deck to cause a particular outcome, so one's choices are free.

richdurrant said...

Scott,
However, if God designed human beings, the universe and the laws of nature in such a way that his plan must come about, then he is the 'person' who has ultimately compelled those he has not chosen to reject him.

Or because the plan is for all to be saved, then he should have programmed all in such a way that they would be compelled to want to be saved. so those who do not follow his plan do so of their own choice.

Rachel said...

Lee R,

if you look in the bible we were made to sin. we are born into sin.

Not quite sure what you mean by this. The Bible teaches that we are born with a predisposition to sin as a result of Adam's fall, yes. Is that what you mean by "born into sin"?

The idea to disobey god had the potential before it was presented, there was somewhere that idea could take root, Adam was not impervious to bad ideas even though he was impervious to dissolving in water. There are boundaries that were imposed on adam, but evidently free will and insulation against bad ideas was not one of them.

If Adam had been as impervious to bad ideas as he was to dissolving in water, he would have been a robot. Adam couldn't dissolve in water even if he wanted to. He had no choice about that. So you're right, Adam was not automatically insulated against bad ideas. If he had been, he would have had no free will. No free will, and Adam is no different than a tree.

In fact, sometimes 'sin' arises out of a pathology of which the patient has no choice.

The person may not have a choice over what they are genetically predisposed to, but they DO have a choice over whether or not they act on that predisposition. Indeed, sin does sometimes arise from a pathology. But that doesn't mean it wasn't the person's choice or that it was impossible to avoid or that the resulting action is not their fault.

anyway, we are justified in punishing people that behave badly simply because we need to mitigate harm. We need to take them out of society.

Sounds quite a bit like Deut. 21:21 that Harry posted in the "Is Yahweh a Moral Monster" thread: "Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear."

Sounds to me like that's exactly what God is doing, taking the people out of society, although not until giving much time for change. Hell is simply permanent removal (in this context).

Human Justice is intended to change behavior or re-habilitate. Jehovas justice is in causing suffering in hell of some sort for succumbing to the emotional ebb and flow that occurs in the three pounds of meat that we are locked into.

By "change behavior" I assume you mean not necessarily the behavior of the criminal. Because surely a sentence of life in prison w/o parole, or 225 years, or the like isn't exactly aimed at rehab or getting the criminal to change.

The issue I was addressing was the "other" Lee's complaint that it is not justice for us to be punished for actions related to the predisposition to sin that we gained as a result of Adam's sin. He seemed bothered that God punishes people for committing sin to which they were predisposed to, despite the fact that they had no choice over their predisposition. I was making the point that this is no different from us as humans punishing a murderer despite his (possible) predisposition to such an act. Predisposition does not remove guilt for actions committed.

Humans are more tolerant of the human condition than god is

What is this based on?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rachel, this is the second time i posted this. I guess i messed up the first one. anyway....sorry to keep you waiting.

Not quite sure what you mean by this. The Bible teaches that we are born with a predisposition to sin as a result of Adam's fall, yes. Is that what you mean by "born into sin"?
First off, this presumes that Adam and Eve were not mythical. Since Christians can't agree on this, and there is no evidence in the paleological record of any likely place adam and eve would have popped into existence, I don't accept the premise, mostly on the grounds that if another christian won't accept the premise, I shouldn't either. Therefore, any predisposition to sin is built into us and can be physiologically verified by several biological bases for behavior. If there is a god, he made us the way we are, and we 'sin'. Some of that 'sin' has helps to perpetuate the species. For example, lust.

If Adam had been as impervious to bad ideas as he was to dissolving in water, he would have been a robot. Adam couldn't dissolve in water even if he wanted to. He had no choice about that. So you're right, Adam was not automatically insulated against bad ideas. If he had been, he would have had no free will. No free will, and Adam is no different than a tree.
Not dissolving in water doesn't make adam a robot anymore than insulating him from bad ideas. When i get sick from the smell of vomit, it makes me not want to eat it. That does not make me a robot. It does not take my apparent free will away either. But an omniscient god giving us free will is a paradox. It is logically inconsistent. It cannot happen. If god knew how we would turn out before he made us, then our fate was sealed then. We can't surprise god by accepting him sometime in our lifetime or he would know about it. Go ahead, try to surprise god. I bet you can't. You have the appearance of free will simply because you don't know the outcome. If you could know the outcome then you could get yourself into an infinite loop of finding out the outcome and then changing it. If everyone could do that nothing would work. Since god has a plan, the amount of uncertainty must be zero or something might happen that he didn't expect. That should be impossible.

The person may not have a choice over what they are genetically predisposed to, but they DO have a choice over whether or not they act on that predisposition. Indeed, sin does sometimes arise from a pathology. But that doesn't mean it wasn't the person's choice or that it was impossible to avoid or that the resulting action is not their fault.
You need to go do your homework on pathologies affecting behavior before you talk about it. You don't know what you are talking about. Obsessive compulsive disorder, and addiction are physiological drives that the person wishes they could control. Not only that, damage to the frontal cortex will 'disable' part of the inhibitory circuitry in the brain such that a person will do things that they would not ordinarily do and in some cases not realize the it is wrong or not socially acceptable. Maybe our staff medical expert contributor can chime in on this and either throw the BS flag on me or educate you.

Sounds to me like that's exactly what God is doing, taking the people out of society, although not until giving much time for change. Hell is simply permanent removal (in this context).
You are so equivocating the meaning of 'taking out of society'. You know full well that hell is torture and torment. There is no principle of rehabilitation. And with regards to giving a life sentence to a prisoner, they are removed from society and at the very least NOT TORMENTED OR TORTURED, at least not legally. So stop being dishonest to try to make your point. Use your head.

Lee R.: "Humans are more tolerant of the human condition than god is"
Rachel: What is this based on?

See my comment above. and to elaborate, in case you haven't been following the news lateley, Your president is catching heat for trying to legalize 'waterboarding' which is a form of torture. He's a god fearing christian, just following the lead of his god. However people who are experienced with human behavior, like psychologists, who would be experts in the field, say it doesn't work because you can't trust the information. And I can understand it because I think I'd say whatever it is my torturers wanted to hear if it would make them go easier on me.

Evan said...

Compulsive behaviors are exhibited when a person's internal milieu is altered.

Examples are the rictus of the face in pain, doubling over from a kidney stone, alterations in body position during stages of labor, inability to not pick up a $100 bill, Tourette's syndrome, epilepsy, the startle reflex from loud noise, wincing due to tic doloreaux and many others that I'm not including.

It strikes me that Lee Randolph's point is really indisputable. Modern science is clearly capable of showing that certain behaviors can be fundamentally altered by changes in neurochemical states in the body and brain, therefore the actions of the Holy Spirit, were he to exist, would need to have neuromodulatory effects that could be seen, but we see none.

In addition, if we did see them, they would be a clear violation of free will as they would be introducing a non-human element into behavior and thus altering any free choice the neural tissue would have derived from its own existence.

Anonymous said...

Lee,

I think this answers your question.

Romans 9

19One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "[h] 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25As he says in Hosea:
"I will call them 'my people' who are not my people;
and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one,"[i] 26and,
"It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,
'You are not my people,'
they will be called 'sons of the living God.' "[j]


Men cannot simply because they don't want to. They are rebel God haters.

Rachel said...

Lee R,

First off, this presumes that Adam and Eve were not mythical.

This seems to be a common tactic by atheists on this board. You present what you perceive to be a "problem" with some aspect of Christian theology. When a solution is offered, you counter with, "well, the Bible isn't true and God doesn't exist anyway!"

If you posit a problem with Christianity, e.g. "we were made to sin/we were born into sin", you of course are presuming that Adam and Eve were real and not myths, for the sake of argument. I understand that you don't think the Bible is true or that God exists. We don't need to continually review that in every discussion. You are trying to say that a certain aspect of Christian theology doesn't make sense (namely, that if we have sin natures then we were "born into sin" or "made to sin"). I respond by trying to explain how it does make sense. Your reply should be to either concede that that particular point isn't as much of a problem as you thought, or to give more reasons for thinking that it really is a problem, or to point out perceived problems in my answer. But to respond by saying that the Bible isn't really true anyway isn't an answer to the issue at hand. It's akin to me answering all your objections with "God wrote the Bible, so it must be right".

So, to elaborate on this particular issue, the sin of Adam at the Fall did not cause anyone to sin. Caused us to be predisposed to sin, yes, but it did not cause anyone to actually commit any sin - we choose that on our own.

If there is a god, he made us the way we are, and we 'sin'. Some of that 'sin' has helps to perpetuate the species. For example, lust.

God made Adam and Eve the way THEY were, i.e. without sin. No one else was specifically and individually "made" by God. No one else has been directly created by God.

And perhaps "lust" has indeed "help[ed] to perpetuate the species", but you make that statement as if it was somehow required. Our species can and does "perpetuate" just fine by a husband and wife having sex with each other. Lusting after someone you're not married to isn't exactly necessary for us to populate the earth.

Not dissolving in water doesn't make adam a robot anymore than insulating him from bad ideas. When i get sick from the smell of vomit, it makes me not want to eat it. That does not make me a robot.

Um, what? You may not WANT to eat after smelling vomit, but you do still have the choice - it is a possible thing that could be done, contrary to dissolving in water. Your point seemed to be that if God made Adam so that he couldn't dissolve in water even if he wanted to, then God should've made Adam so that he couldn't choose sin even if he wanted to. And I made the obvious point that that would have left Adam a robot with no free will.

But an omniscient god giving us free will is a paradox. It is logically inconsistent. It cannot happen.

This is changing the subject again. And this has been beat to death anyway. I never said God could be surprised by something I do, that's a strawman. How does God's knowledge of what I'm going to choose change the fact that I chose what I wanted? If I am the one making the decision in real time about something, then I have free will, regardless of what anyone may know about the choice I will make.

Omnscience is in no way inconsistent with free will. Someone's knowledge of my choice doesn't make it any less my choice. Why should I care that the future is "fixed" if I'm the one that fixed it? If I decided how the future will be, then how is that not my free will being exercised?

Obsessive compulsive disorder, and addiction are physiological drives that the person wishes they could control. Not only that, damage to the frontal cortex will 'disable' part of the inhibitory circuitry in the brain such that a person will do things that they would not ordinarily do and in some cases not realize the it is wrong or not socially acceptable.

Once again, you are stretching this far out from the point being discussed. If people are so mentally affected by a disease, genetics, etc. that they cannot even reason appropriately (e.g. they think it's perfectly fine to murder someone), then they would not fall under normative judicial sentences, either human or divine. Back to my point, being merely genetically predisposed to a bad and/or criminal behavior does not absolve people of guilt when they act upon that behavior in a human court. So why should we be absolved in a divine "court" for acting upon our sin which we were predisposed to? The other Lee seemed to think it was a real problem that God judges us for sin that we commit as a result of our general predisposition to sin that we inherited from Adam, someone we don't even know. Again, my point is that we do the very same thing when we "judge" others for their criminal actions that they committed as a result of their predisposition to those actions that they probably inherited from some distant relative that they don't even know (and even if it is a near relative, they certainly didn't choose to be related to that person). So why is it a problem for God to do it but not a problem for us to do it? This was more directed to the other Lee since it was his comment. But if you agree with him, feel free to respond.

You know full well that hell is torture and torment.

Sorry, don't believe that.

There is no principle of rehabilitation. And with regards to giving a life sentence to a prisoner, they are removed from society and at the very least NOT TORMENTED OR TORTURED, at least not legally.

Again, I don't think hell is torment or torture. And my point stands that not every act of human justice is aimed at rehab (in fact many of them are not), as you tried to say earlier. So why you have a problem with God giving people ample time (a lifetime!) to "rehab" before finally "removing them from society" is not easily understood. In fact, this would suggest that God is actually MORE "tolerant of the human condition" than even humans are.

Your president is catching heat for trying to legalize 'waterboarding' which is a form of torture. He's a god fearing christian, just following the lead of his god.

More unrelated statements. What does "my" president (he's yours too, btw) have to do with whether or not God should punish people for their sin? Trotting out Bush's supposed endorsement of torture as proof that God endorses torture too is begging the question. What Bush does or doesn't do is irrelevant to God's justice.

Lee Randolph said...

You present what you perceive to be a "problem" with some aspect of Christian theology. When a solution is offered, you counter with, "well, the Bible isn't true and God doesn't exist anyway!"
Rachel, see, this is what happens in a debate. Someone attacks your conclusion by challenging your premise. Now you need to show why your premise, namely Adam and Eve are sound, especially when other christians concede they are metaphor.

This is changing the subject again.
no this is attacking another one of your premises.
p1. God made adam and eve
p2. god made adam and eve with free will
p3. Adam had free will to choose to disobey god.
p4. Adam disobeyed god.
C. God is justified in punishing the rest of us because we are decedents of adam.

Above I challenged p1, here I challenge p2. Now its up to you to defend them rather trying to disqualify them for irrelevance. On a side note I also challenge the conclusion (stipulating for the sake of argument adam and eve) because I didn't have the chance to choose from the apples in the garden of eden, I only got here in the middle of the game and the choice was made for me. Adam had god walking around in the garden with him. I don't. Now matter much I asked. How is god justified in punishing me for something he built into me, and when circumstances are not the same at all? I am going to be punished for not believing in god, yet he knew how I would turn out before he made me. Since he knew that my final end would be hell, why bother making me at all? He cannot love me if he's going to do something like that unless you want to equivocate the properties of Love.

How does God's knowledge of what I'm going to choose change the fact that I chose what I wanted? If I am the one making the decision in real time about something, then I have free will, regardless of what anyone may know about the choice I will make.
You need to re-read what I wrote and think that through a little more. Can you explain to me in similar detail to how I explained to you, exactly how it is you have free will when God "made" you, and knows what you are going to do ahead of time? Describe to me what the difference is between you not knowing what you are going to do, yet God knows what you are going to do, and not having the ability to surprise god with what you are going to. If you had free will, you could surprise god. Then think about how it applies to people that die not being a christian. Better yet, walk me through the process from the moment god dreamed me up to the moment I die assuming that I die an atheist.

Once again, you are stretching this far out from the point being discussed. If people are so mentally affected by a disease, genetics, etc. that they cannot even reason appropriately (e.g. they think it's perfectly fine to murder someone), then they would not fall under normative judicial sentences, either human or divine.
it is an extreme example, but God has no mechanism to deal with it except by 'grace' Since that is the case in these cases it nullifies jesus sacrifice because, the same way god extends his grace to them, he could extend his grace to everyone. Requiring a human sacrifice to atone for the transgressions of another group is silly. It violates a whole host of sound principles.
You are right, we judge others, put them in jail, take them out of society for a little while, Ideally they get rehabilitated, but this is a human process, not a God process. Gods process is to know how we are going to turn out, make us anyway knowing full well who's not getting to heaven, then letting them go their whole life mucking up the world for everyone else, and then they go and get punished eternally with no chance for rehabilitation.

Think it through rachel.

Again, I don't think hell is torment or torture.
Ahhhhh, there it is again, like a cool breeze on a warm summers day. Equivocation of a tenet to the point of nullifying it. Okay then, explain to me what hell is.

And you have characteristically jumped to a conclusion, about your president being my president. You should think that through too.

Trotting out Bush's supposed endorsement of torture as proof that God endorses torture too is begging the question.
p1. George believes in God.
P2. George believes in torture.
p3. George wants to please god.
p4. George must believe that god would approve.
p4a. Muslims are not christians
p4b. God punishes non-believers
p4c. God has had his people tear up seven nations and split the bellies of pregnant women after the exodus, and getting them thier land back.
p4d. God sends non believers to hell
C. God believes in torture.

Of course this presumes that George bases his beliefs on sound premises, which I doubt, but you already know that. ;-)

Maybe its a fallacy, but its not circular unless you want to challenge the existence of god but I don't think you do.

Question begging is circular reasoning where the conclusion appears somewhere as being presumed in the premises. In other words for the premise to be true, the conclusion must be true and vice versa. You can think of a conclusion like the top of a table and the premises as the legs of the table.

for example
God exists because the bible says so. God inspired the bible. All teaching is god breathed and useful for teaching and instruction yada yada.

This is circular because in must assume god exists to have him inspire the bible.

Please show me how i was begging the question.

Lee Randolph said...

Thank you evan,
I was hoping you had my back. I'm no expert, I'm just a hack that self-studies.

Lee Randolph said...

Evan,
I'd like to see an elaboration on that refutation of a key christian tenet as an article. I did one a few months ago, but I am no expert and I just can't get enough.

would you be willing?

Lee Randolph said...

Tom2,
no it doesn't answer my question but the fact that you think it does is sweet.

See, that clay thing first appeared in Egyptian myths and then in mesopatamian myths. One of the egyptian gods was a potter and was tasked with making humans out of clay.
A mesopotamian god was killed by the other gods and his blood was mixed with the earth to make humans.
A hindu god died and a small percentage of him became the earth and the rest of him became the universe.
I am told that Adama and the hebrew word for earth are very similar. I suppose Adam got his name as a reminder that he came from the earth?

I'm Just not convinced of the authority of the Old Testament.

therefore, it makes the case for discrediting authority, tradition and consensus in these circumstances stronger.

If you qualify OT as true, then you have no reason not to accept the prior versions of those stories as being true at least partly.

Also, with the success of alexander the great, the blending of cultures and religions was encouraged even to the point of Alexander having himself represented as a pharoah and given divine attributes. Hellenism was all about blending of ideas, it was occurring in the axial age, and it resulted in syncretism.

so when you throw this out there
"It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,
'You are not my people,'
they will be called 'sons of the living God.' "[j]
(from biblegateway I presume)

I as sure as a I am writing this it was a result of syncretism.

If you think hebrew scriptures were insulated from that, I'd like to see why.

lee said...

Tom2: This lee B Not Lee R.
Your quote from Roman's 9 puzzles me; If there a verse that suggest that due to Adam's transgression man is genetically predisposed toward sin and is incapable of correcting his actions and that God is the mastermind behind this schema, this is the verse.

Lee Randolph said...

Now that reppert has shown that predestination nullifies the omnibenevolent god, I want to see how he refutes that an all knowing god does not nullify free will and then reconcile that with refutation with his refutation of predestination.

I say that an all knowing god necessitates predestination, and that John Calvin was right (stipulating that there is a god of course).

Rachel said...

Lee R,

Rachel, see, this is what happens in a debate. Someone attacks your conclusion by challenging your premise.

All well and good. But when you say something like "humans were made to sin, we were born into sin", you yourself are already stipulating and agreeing to p1-4 for the sake of argument (as I said earlier). You/Lee B challenged a specific conclusion, that of the idea that God is just in punishing people for committing sin that they became predisposed to as a result of someone else's (i.e. Adam's) sin. So, for the sake of this current discussion, I don't need to prove that Adam and Eve were real people, because you've granted that premise for the sake of argument. Claiming that Adam and Eve were myths is positing a factual error. Claiming that God is unjust for punishing us for sin we committed as a result of Adam's sin is positing a logical inconsistency. If you say that something I believe is logically inconsistent, and I show how it IS logically consistent, then you bringing up a potential background factual error doesn't change whether or not the argument is logically consistent.

Here's what your/Lee B's argument was:

p1a: It is not just to punish people for crimes they didn't commit.

p1b: It is not just to punish people for crimes they had no choice in committing.

p2a: According to Christian theology, God punishes people for crimes they didn't commit.

p2b: According to Christian theology, God punishes people for crimes they had no choice in committing.

C: Therefore, God is unjust.

So you see, Adam and Eve aren't part of this logical construction. Sure, they are integral to the background, but they are assumed for the sake of argument. What I am doing is showing that p2a-b are NOT true, thus invalidating your conclusion. I'm also introducing my own logical construction, that looks like this:

p1: It is just to punish people for crimes they commit of their own volition, even if they are genetically predisposed to such crimes.

p2: God punishes people for crimes they commit of their own volition, even though we are genetically predisposed to such crimes.

C: Therefore, God is just when he punishes us for sins ("crimes") we commit of our own volition.

You can see that again there is nothing here specifically about Adam and Eve. So your response that Adam and Eve are just myths is indeed irrelevant to the topic at hand. We can't have any kind of discussion about God's justice based on the story of Adam & Eve if they aren't even real. Yet you/Lee B started the discussion - you were challenging God's justice based on the story of Adam & Eve, NOT challenging the story of Adam & Eve. Whether or not Adam & Eve were real doesn't help us decide if God would be just if he punishes us for committing sin when we inherited a predisposition to that sin from Adam.

How is god justified in punishing me for something he built into me, and when circumstances are not the same at all? I am going to be punished for not believing in god, yet he knew how I would turn out before he made me.

Speaking of needing to re-read...

I already answered this issue of "something he built into me", "he made me", etc. Here it is again:

"God made Adam and Eve the way THEY were, i.e. without sin. No one else was specifically and individually "made" by God. No one else has been directly created by God."

You are not punished for "not believing in god" per se. You will be judged for the sins you have committed. Belief in the person and finished work of Jesus is what enables God to transfer His righteousness to humans, enabling them to live in His presence (heaven) forever. Those who don't have God's righteousness cannot live in His presence, and are then judged based on ALL the works they have done.

Since he knew that my final end would be hell, why bother making me at all?

Again, God didn't specifically make YOU. He specifically made Adam and Eve, the rest of us are the natural result of Adam and Eve, but not direct creations of God. It's an all-or-nothing package. If God were to create people with free will, he would have to allow for some of those people to make a different choice than the one that He wants them to make.

Can you explain to me in similar detail to how I explained to you, exactly how it is you have free will when God "made" you, and knows what you are going to do ahead of time?

See above to understand that God didn't directly "make" me or anyone else except Adam & Eve. Again, free will is not affected by someone else's knowledge of what I'm going to do. If I do the choosing, why does it matter if someone else knew what I was going to choose? I say again, why does it matter if the future is "fixed" if I'm the one that fixed it? God's prior knowledge of my choice simply does not change the fact that it was still my choice to make.

Describe to me what the difference is between you not knowing what you are going to do, yet God knows what you are going to do, and not having the ability to surprise god with what you are going to.

I don't know "for sure" what I'm going to do tomorrow. God does. I can't surprise Him because He knows the choice I will make. However, tomorrow morning it will be MY choice of when to get out of bed. No one else is making that choice for me, no one is forcing me to get out of bed, no one is picking me up and setting me on the floor. I will make the choice as to what time I get out of bed. This choice is a result of the free will God has given me. Who knows what time I'll get up tomorrow? God. Who decides (i.e. chooses)what time I'll get up tomorrow? Me.

If you had free will, you could surprise god.

No. Free will does not exclude foreknowledge. Free will does not mean that no one knows what choice you will make. It simply means that you get to choose whatever you want. Please explain how God's foreknowledge of my choice makes it so that it is no longer my choice.

Better yet, walk me through the process from the moment god dreamed me up to the moment I die assuming that I die an atheist.

Once again, God did not "dream [you] up". God knew the choices you would make and will make, but they are still your own choices, no outside force is causing you to make those choices against your will.

Since that is the case in these cases it nullifies jesus sacrifice because, the same way god extends his grace to them, he could extend his grace to everyone.

It does not nullify Jesus' sacrifice in any way. God requires belief in Jesus for salvation. This obviously implies that a person actually has the ability/capacity to believe. How could God possibly extend the same grace to those who choose to sin as he does to those who don't have the ability to choose whether or not to sin? These people don't even have the ability to meet the required condition. This is vastly different from those who do have the ability but still choose to sin.

But again, the point I was making, that still stands, is that God is NOT unjust to judge us for committing sins even though we were genetically predisposed to sin as a result of the Fall. We do not consider it unjust for humans to do this, and it is certainly not unjust when God does it. There is no basis for claiming that God is unjust in judging us for our sins (the predisposition to which we inherited from Adam).

Requiring a human sacrifice to atone for the transgressions of another group is silly. It violates a whole host of sound principles.

Off-topic once again. It's not "silly", and you are perfectly free to atone for your own sins instead. Beyond that, this is really a topic all to its own, don't you think?

You are right, we judge others, put them in jail, take them out of society for a little while,

"A little while"? C'mon Lee. Life in prison, 200 years, heck, even 20-30 years is hardly "a little while". Quit trying to slip that in.

Gods process is to know how we are going to turn out, make us anyway knowing full well who's not getting to heaven, then letting them go their whole life mucking up the world for everyone else, and then they go and get punished eternally with no chance for rehabilitation.

Sigh. See above yet again on God "making" us. Just because people end up going to hell doesn't mean that they've spent "their whole life mucking up the world for everyone else". And God can't just plop people in hell based only on what he knows they're going to do, they must actually do those things in real time in order to be punished for them (otherwise you end up with a Minority Report-style society). Their entire lives were a "chance for rehabilitation". That's a ton more "chances" than humans give each other.

Equivocation of a tenet to the point of nullifying it. Okay then, explain to me what hell is.

Yes, I nullified your point, but not through equivocation, through explanation. Hell is eternal shame, separation from God, and God's final time of "giving people over" to their sinful choices and rejection of Him. I don't know all the details, they aren't given to us in the Bible, and I've certainly never been there (and don't plan to ever go).

And you have characteristically jumped to a conclusion, about your president being my president. You should think that through too.

You're right on this one. I assumed when you said "your president" that you meant that he was "mine" in the sense that evangelicals were one of his biggest voter blocs. Now that you mention it, I think I recall seeing you say that you're Canadian. Sorry about that.

Please show me how i was begging the question.

Thanks for the explanation Lee, but I'm fully aware of what "begging the question" means. You said that God tortures people, and one way we know this is because Bush is supporting torture, and the reason Bush is supporting torture is because God tortures people. If you didn't catch the question-begging there, here's the logical construction of what you said:

p1: Bush is supporting torture.
p2: Bush is doing this because God supports torture.
C: God supports torture.

Use your head, Lee. Think it through.

Lee Randolph said...

HI Rachel,
Thanks for the response. I can't answer it right now, but please check back. I'll have a response in less than a day.

lee said...

Rachel: "p1: It is just to punish people for crimes they commit of their own volition, even if they are genetically predisposed to such crimes."

For humans, yes. We have no choice. Currently, we do not have the ability to change the genetic predisposition, but if we were omnipotent and omniscient and then created creatures for the sake receiving glory from their punishment and at the same time calling it justice, then there is no way to call that behavior just.

God, being all knowing knew before Adam that he would fall, he knew that due to this hypothetical Adam, that all future descendants would be born in a fallen condition, "spiritual death" and that they would not be capable of obedience. He knew that He, God, would have to provide some sufficient condition before these fallen creatures would be capable of volition and acquiescence.

P1 is false in that it treats mans abilities equal with God's abilities. Knowingly creating a creature for the purpose of eternal torture and torment would be unethical for either human or deity.

Historically, Arminians and Calvinist have both believed that man is incapable of affecting his salvation without prior intervention from God. Arminians call this intervention"Prevenient Grace" while Calvinist have called it "irresistible Grace." If you believe that man has the ability to affect his own salvation and live a moral and righteous life apart from God's intervention, you would be classified as Pelagian. Pelagianism was condemned at the council of Carthage in 418.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rachel,
okay, I'll stipulate adam and eve existed for the sake of argument. But I've decided this is the last time I ever include adam and eve in a serious discussion.

p1: It is just to punish people for crimes they commit of their own volition, even if they are genetically predisposed to such crimes.

p2: God punishes people for crimes they commit of their own volition, even though we are genetically predisposed to such crimes.

C: Therefore, God is just when he punishes us for sins ("crimes") we commit of our own volition.


Okay for the sake of argument, I'll stipulate that god didn't specifically make any of us except for adam and eve. But who made the recipe? God, supposedly. Who made the original coke recipe? someone. If some factory decides to deviate from that and produce something not within specifications of the recipe, it is not coke. My point is that we are made to specs, created by god, therefore we are made to gods specs. If something changed in adam and eve, then was it physiological or spiritual? And where did in the paleological record did adam and eve pop into existence? or is that not a fair question?
Okay, so we are predisposed genetically to be inclined to sin. To lust, to drink too much, to smoke, to take unhealthy risks to thrill seek, to doubt.
Yet we have free will.
and If god were to do something that influences us not to sin that would be impinging on our free will right? But if we are made to gods specs, then this influence to sin is built in. Or were we not made to gods specs? and if not, what specs were we made to? Natural selection?
go look up genetic markers that predict likelihood for addiction. Our free will is already influenced in exactly the way you say would make us robots. So we are robots to sin, according to gods recipe.

So now, lets look at the difference between me and adam and eve. They had a real live god walking around in the garden with them. I wouldn't doubt god either, and I would be as inclined not to disobey god as I am not to set myself on fire.

Belief in the person and finished work of Jesus is what enables God to transfer His righteousness to humans, enabling them to live in His presence (heaven) forever.
don't you see this sets a limit on god? He should be able to do this without a human sacrifice, without coming down and being nailed to a cross. He should have come down here and stayed with us forever and created an Academy of Jesus over there in Jerusalem, and then pop in and visit when I need some consoling or comforting. My friends do it and it is more of an effort for them because they are not omnipotent and timeless and infinitely patient.

If God were to create people with free will, he would have to allow for some of those people to make a different choice than the one that He wants them to make.
To what purpose? Rachel don't you see what a stupid principle this is? In manufacturing and in life, we actively try to eliminate inefficiency. We try to do the best we can, and set up circumestances to increase the likelihood of successful outcomes. This is like saying that we shouldn't school our kids because we might prevent them from making a choice other than one that an education influences. Why bother teaching them to read? They might read something that influences thier decision making, like the bible. But that doesn't count does it? Its okay to put the bible out there to influence people with hopes of eternal joy or eternal "not joy" (as you would have it). God influences free will anyway and we are not robots. I'm trying to point out to you that saying that god is justified in punishing us because we make bad decisions, and then saying that he won't influence our free will to keep us from doing that is false. We have mechanisms built into us that drive us to make bad decisions. In fact we are born with a crappy decision making facility to begin with. Thats what education is all about. We don't have any comparable internal mechanism to promote good choices. We have to work at that, but sin just comes naturally. But god is justified in punishing us for that. Its okay to influence us to the negative, but not to the positive right?

I say again, why does it matter if the future is "fixed" if I'm the one that fixed it? God's prior knowledge of my choice simply does not change the fact that it was still my choice to make.
Because your decisions have dependencies. You do not exist in a vacuum. And he knew what you were were going to do before you did it. He knew down to the subatomic particle everything about you and knew that in this combination, this is what would turn out. He could have changed things in the beginning and it would have turned out different. Rachel, your will and your behavior are not as much yours to control as you think they are. You are at least 50% invisibly controlled by your environment. Don't believe me? Go look up the affect that blue light has on people, or how light affects people with no eyes, or ultra low frequency sounds or pheromones and peoples scents affect their perception of other people, loaded language will influence you opinion one way or another, go look up cialdini's six weapons of influence, etc.

However, tomorrow morning it will be MY choice of when to get out of bed.
Barring an alarm clock, it won't be your choice of when you wake up or when you get sleepy and your brain starts shutting down or when you get crabby, or start making bad decisions because you've used up your glucose reserves and need to sleep. You need to think about all the biological functions that control you.

Please explain how God's foreknowledge of my choice makes it so that it is no longer my choice.
look, god knows what you are going to do before you do it right? you can't do anything else but that. What is so hard to understand? can you change your mind? no. You thought it up, you do it, but you can't change it anymore than you can change the next thing you decide to do. I repeat you do not exist in a vacuum. Everything depends on everything else. If god has a plan, it must have no uncertainty in it, or it won't work out.

no outside force is causing you to make those choices against your will.
there are plenty of environmental and biological influences that affect our decision making. You just haven't thought about it.

requires belief in Jesus for salvation. This obviously implies that a person actually has the ability/capacity to believe.
pick something you believe in an try to stop believing in it. or Pick something you don't believe in and try to start believing in it. Bet you can't. Not without some evidence for or against. I don't think that any of us pick what we want to believe in. We may think we believe a certain way, but when it comes down to crunch time, the actions speak louder than words.

How could God possibly extend the same grace to those who choose to sin as he does to those who don't have the ability to choose whether or not to sin?
You're right, god is not all powerful, or he doesn't exist, I forgot. What you are doing here is the moving goal post of gods abilities. He can do anything one minute, then the next he has boundaries and obligations and covenants etc. He's not in control is he? He's not all powerful is he? He has limits. That is why he died on the cross, because he was a man, preaching a message, and the first time he showed up in Jerusalem rabble rousing around the passover they strung him up. Then the followers had to figure out how to reconcile all the investment they had made in him. Presto, Christianity went from being about the coming kingdom of god, "so straighten up and fly right", to the cult of jesus.

"A little while"? C'mon Lee. Life in prison, 200 years, heck, even 20-30 years is hardly "a little while". Quit trying to slip that in.
So 20-30 years, or even dying in prison is equivalent to being separated from god? That is the lamest version of hell I've ever heard, to the point that I'd say you should do some bible study.

And God can't just plop people in hell based only on what he knows they're going to do, they must actually do those things in real time in order to be punished for them (otherwise you end up with a Minority Report-style society). Their entire lives were a "chance for rehabilitation". That's a ton more "chances" than humans give each other.
If god knows they are going to do it, they are as good as done or do I have a misconception about god having foreknowledge. If god knows they are going to wind up in hell for the decisions they make before they are born, they are going to hell, no chance for rehabilitation. You need to get off the fence on whether god has limits or not.

Hell is eternal shame, separation from God, and God's final time of "giving people over" to their sinful choices and rejection of Him. I don't know all the details, they aren't given to us in the Bible, and I've certainly never been there (and don't plan to ever go).
would you rather do that or spend life in prison?

but I'm fully aware of what "begging the question" means
Maybe so, but you don't know how to diagram it very well if you do.
I diagrammed a linked argument, and the "god believes in torture" part was a result of these premises that support p4. George must believe that god would approve.
p4a. Muslims are not christians
p4b. God punishes non-believers
p4c. God has had his people tear up seven nations and split the bellies of pregnant women after the exodus, and getting them thier land back.
p4d. God sends non believers to hell
C. God believes in torture.


This ought to help you with that Argument Structure: A Pragmatic Theory

But any way, as you pointed out, it was irrelevant. I was just in an argumentatvie frenzy!!!!! Yikes!

Use your head, Lee. Think it through.
Nice touch! I love irony!

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rachel,
I forgot to point out about my Bush/God/Torture example that you are probably right and my conclusion doesn't follow my premises as I did a poor job of diagramming them myself, but I think it would be more along the lines of a generic non-sequitur.

lee said...

Hi Rachel: Lee B again, "p2: God punishes people for crimes they commit of their own volition, even though we are genetically predisposed to such crimes."

Premise #2 committing sins of our own volition. As I stated earlier in this blog, christianity has historically held that "we are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. When Calvin was answering the followers of Jacobus Arminius, those who called themselves the "remonstrance," Calvin's first point of rebuttal "Total Depravity," usually misconstrued to mean "utter depravity" was presented that man's fall affected his mind, will and body. It was not suggested that man was a bad as he could be, only that his fallen condition had left him incapable of inclining himself to faith.

He was free to choose according to his desires, which is not the denial of free will, but the very essence of free will, but man in the fall lost his desire for the things of God. No man, (or woman) has the ability to choose against his/her desires. Freewill is not the ability to choose spontaneously without prior choices affecting or determining our choices. That would be an effect without a cause and that would be a rational impossibility.

The whole, "young earth creationism" that these musings infer has its own set of issues that are not addressed at this time.

Scott said...

Or because the plan is for all to be saved, then he should have programmed all in such a way that they would be compelled to want to be saved. so those who do not follow his plan do so of their own choice.

What's at question here is if choice is really an illusion. That is, if God created us from nothing, then the very faculties we use to choose are designed to cause us to make specific choices in specific situations.

To clarify, Imagine you create 20 airborne drones that are programmed to seek out, target and fire on friendly forces and civilians. Then you choose to re-program half of the drones to target hostile forces instead.

Depending on where they are deployed, one drone may choose a hospital and another may choose a school, but their predisposition to choose to attack friendly forces or civilians can be traced back to their initial programming, which is beyond their control.

Merely noting that these drones choose friendly or civilian targets is an incomplete picture.

If one was omnipotent, why would you program drones to pick friendly targets in the first place? Why wouldn't you choose to reprogram them all to attack hostile forces instead of just some of them?

Scott said...

In a study published Sunday in Nature Neuroscience, researchers using brain scanners could predict people's decisions seven seconds before the test subjects were even aware of making them.

Brain Scanners Can See Your Decisions Before You Make Them

To quote the article...

In the seven seconds before Haynes' test subjects chose to push a button, activity shifted in their frontopolar cortex, a brain region associated with high-level planning. Soon afterwards, activity moved to the parietal cortex, a region of sensory integration. Haynes' team monitored these shifting neural patterns using a functional MRI machine.
Taken together, the patterns consistently predicted whether test subjects eventually pushed a button with their left or right hand -- a choice that, to them, felt like the outcome of conscious deliberation. For those accustomed to thinking of themselves as having free will, the implications are far more unsettling than learning about the physiological basis of other brain functions.


In other words, the choices we make have direct connections to the concrete electro-chemical state of our minds, which is based on genetics and the sum of our experiences and knowledge.

If God created human beings, the universe and everything in it, saying that people should receive eternal punishment for the choices they make simply does not make sense.

Rachel said...

Lee R,

No worries on posting a response so quickly. I generally just cannot post comments here as fast as most of you, so my responses will be slower in coming anyway. Just respond when you can, there's no rush.

I'll try to get a reply to you (and the others - oooh, do you guys live on The Island??) later this evening.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rachel,
I am going to move on now and prepare my next article. Its been great chatting with you. I hope to correspond with you in another thread.

Lee Randolph said...

Scott,
as usual, you da man. Thanks. I'm going to post this "nature" study and credit you.

Rachel said...

Lee,

I saw your comment about moving on after I'd already typed up half of my response to you. So I'll finish up my comment and post it in the morning, but I understand you're done. This was going to be my last comment on this as well anyway.

Thanks for the convo, I'm sure our paths will cross again. :-)


P.S. You might want to wait before posting Scott's study... part of my upcoming comment cites some rather interesting info. But, I guess I could always repost it.

Rachel said...

Lee R,

My point is that we are made to specs, created by god, therefore we are made to gods specs. If something changed in adam and eve, then was it physiological or spiritual?

Once again, only Adam and Eve were "made to specs". The rest of us are the result of natural laws. After the Fall, Adam and Eve began to die in every way. IOW, they began to degenerate/decay. Their children's DNA would have been ever so slightly corrupted compared to their own. The slight corruptions/mistakes have continued to accumulate, leading to what we see today. The spiritual decay happened much faster, and was really more a matter of a "frog in boiling water" type of situation. The more often that sinful thoughts were entertained by even one individual, the more acclimated they became to them and the less bad they seemed. Such attitudes are quickly passed on to succeeding generations. So the physical, spiritual, etc. downward changes all work together, and it is a significant error to say that we today are anywhere near perfectly in line with "God's specs" as Adam and Eve were initially.

And where did in the paleological record did adam and eve pop into existence? or is that not a fair question?

Nope, it's not a fair question, at least not for this particular discussion. :-)

If god were to do something that influences us not to sin that would be impinging on our free will right?

Only if that "something" influenced us against our will. If someone says they'll pay me $10/hour, and someone else says they'll pay me $50/hour for the same work, it's highly likely that I'll choose the $50/hour employer. Did the second employer somehow impinge on my free will by making a better offer? It's the same with God. If he shows us that His way is better than our way in order to convince us to do things His way, that is not impinging on our free will. We still have just as much freedom to choose our own way as before.

But if we are made to gods specs, then this influence to sin is built in. Or were we not made to gods specs? and if not, what specs were we made to? Natural selection?

Again, only Adam & Eve were "made to God's specs", and those specs did NOT include a predisposition to sin. When Adam sinned, he was cursed with the predisposition, and that was passed on to the rest of us. So the rest of us were not specially "made" to any particular specs.

go look up genetic markers that predict likelihood for addiction. Our free will is already influenced in exactly the way you say would make us robots. So we are robots to sin, according to gods recipe.

I did look them up, and found a lot of interesting info, this page in particular. Guess what it said? Genetics only play a part in our actions, that in fact environment, personality, and our own choices really determine what we actually do. Genetics merely put us at higher or lower risk for certain behaviors. A few germane quotes from the link above:

"Several established markers can predict later addiction and, together with recent research, suggest a provocative conclusion: that addiction may be only one of many related behaviors that stem from the same genetic root. In other words, much of the heritable risk may be nonspecific. Instead, what is passed from parent to child is a tendency toward a group of behaviors, of which addiction is only one of several possible outcomes."

"...although addiction risk is strongly heritable, the inheritance is fairly nonspecific. The inherited risk corresponds to a certain temperament or disposition that goes along with so-called externalizing tendencies. Addiction is only one of several ways this disposition may be expressed."

"It's worth reiterating that an externalizing disposition simply increases the risk of demonstrating problematic behavior. An individual with such tendencies could express them in ways that are not harmful to themselves and actually help society: Fire fighters, rescue workers, test pilots, surgeons and entrepreneurs are often gregarious, relatively uninhibited sensation-seekers—that is, moderate externalizers."

"When considering the effect of environment on behavior, or any complex trait, it's helpful to imagine a continuum of liability. Inherited vulnerability determines where a person begins on the continuum (high versus low risk). From that point, psychosocial or environmental stressors such as peer pressure or excessive conflict with parents can push an individual along the continuum and over a disease threshold.

However, sometimes the environment actually modifies gene expression. In other words, the relative influence of genes on a behavior can vary by setting. We see this context-dependent gene expression in recent, unpublished work comparing study participants from rural areas (population less than 10,000) with those from more urban settings. Within cities of 10,000 or more, genes substantially influence which adolescents use illicit substances or show other aspects of the externalizing continuum—just as earlier research indicated. But in very rural areas, environmental (rather than genetic) factors overwhelmingly account for differences in externalizing behavior."


"At the same time, many kids with a genetic risk for externalizing don't seem to require any sort of special intervention; as it is, they turn out just fine. DNA may nudge someone in a certain direction, but it doesn't force them to go there."

"DNA is never destiny."

The evidence is resoundingly clear that we are definitely NOT robots to sin (or any action, for that matter). Predisposed to sin (e.g. "higher risk"), yes. Made to sin, absolutely not.

So now, lets look at the difference between me and adam and eve. They had a real live god walking around in the garden with them. I wouldn't doubt god either, and I would be as inclined not to disobey god as I am not to set myself on fire.

LOL, the old "dumb ol' Adam, if it'd been me I wouldn't have eaten the fruit" response. Riiiight. This is impossible to prove, and if we posit a God who is all goodness and all-knowing, then he would have known that you wouldn't have sinned and would have put you in the garden instead. This point is completely moot, because there's no way to know.

Something to consider though, since you seem to think that you'd be impressed/afraid/in awe/whatever if you walked with God every day... remember that this is all they know. It's normal to them. And we have no reason to think God was doing anything particularly impressive (i.e. miraculous) for them to see (other than making Eve, but again, as far as Adam knew this was just normal). They didn't have all the history and revelation that we have. Their situation/knowledge/experience was so vastly different from ours it really can't be compared.

don't you see this sets a limit on god? He should be able to do this without a human sacrifice, without coming down and being nailed to a cross.

Should God also be able to make a round square? Should God be able to make a rock so big he can't lift it? Should God be able to be God and "not" God at the same time? God is not able to do just "anything at all", otherwise he wouldn't be God (i.e. he must be true to his own nature). This is a strawman, to say that God can't have any limits whatsoever. Orthodox Christian theology has never presented such a God, nor should it. Sin brings death, it's as natural and inevitable as 2+2=4. Just as God can't simply snap his fingers and make 2+2=5, so God can't simply snap his fingers and make sin go away. The consequences for sin must be paid in full.

He should have come down here and stayed with us forever and created an Academy of Jesus over there in Jerusalem, and then pop in and visit when I need some consoling or comforting.

Um, right, sure. And the waiting list would have been...

Or instead God could be with each of us individually so that He is available for all of us 24/7... oh wait, He already did that.

We try to do the best we can, and set up circumestances to increase the likelihood of successful outcomes.

And if God is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, then this world is in fact the Best of All Possible Worlds. IOW, God set up these particular circumstances in order to max out the successful outcomes.

This is like saying that we shouldn't school our kids because we might prevent them from making a choice other than one that an education influences.

I never said we shouldn't be encouraged to make the right choices. I simply said that if God were to truly give us choices, He would have to allow for some of us to make the wrong choices, despite all the encouragement to making right choices. My children are truly free to disobey me, but that doesn't mean I withhold encouragement for them to obey (on the contrary!). I do my best to teach them to make right choices, but in the end, it will be up to them.

I'm trying to point out to you that saying that god is justified in punishing us because we make bad decisions, and then saying that he won't influence our free will to keep us from doing that is false.

I never said that God won't influence our free will. Obviously God sets forth encouragement for us to follow Him in a variety of ways. I'm simply saying that He doesn't make the choice for us. God doesn't force us into any decision. I don't know what exactly you're arguing against with the above statement, but it's not anything that I've said (from what I can tell).

But god is justified in punishing us for that. Its okay to influence us to the negative, but not to the positive right?

But yet again, God did not influence us or Adam & Eve to the negative. Quite the opposite, in fact. Adam & Eve were "neutral", so to speak. When they chose sin, that caused the rest of us to start out being more inclined to sin. But that wasn't God's fault, it was Adam's. And even then, God knows we have that inclination, so he has placed a multitude of external and even internal "encouragements" to choose Him instead of sin. God did not influence us to the negative, he only influences us to the positive. It is our own choices that can continually influence us to the negative.

He could have changed things in the beginning and it would have turned out different.

"In the beginning" of what? I keep saying that God didn't specifically "make" me, so He wasn't directly doing anything "in the beginning" of me. There was nothing to change because he wasn't doing it in the first place. If you mean he could have changed Adam & Eve to be "better" so that I would turn out better, I go back to the Best of All Possible Worlds point, that given God's "omni"s, Adam & Eve were made in the best possible way and couldn't have been any better.

Barring an alarm clock, it won't be your choice of when you wake up or when you get sleepy and your brain starts shutting down or when you get crabby, or start making bad decisions because you've used up your glucose reserves and need to sleep.

Those things may influence and encourage me to do something (like get sleep), but it's still my choice. I can choose to stay up all night or go to bed at 8pm. Of course there are certain physical limitations, e.g. a person can't stay awake for months at a time, and a person can't sleep for months at a time. But within those limitations I do have the freedom of choice... and of course any discussion of free will includes the understanding that there are limitations (e.g. I can't choose to fly, or stay 29 years old, etc.).

look, god knows what you are going to do before you do it right? you can't do anything else but that.

Who cares? It was my choice to do it. As I've said, why does it matter if the future is fixed if I'm the one who fixed it?

I said:

no outside force is causing you to make those choices against your will.

You said:

there are plenty of environmental and biological influences that affect our decision making.

Now, please read what I said and then what you said again. What's the difference? I'll help you. I said that no outside forces cause you to make a choice against your will. You replied that outside forces influence us to make choices. Surely you see the difference. Sure we're influenced by our environment, the article I linked to above (along with the quotes) make that clear. Yet 2 people can be in the same environment yet make different choices. This makes it clear that we are not robots, and despite genetics, environmental influences, etc. our choices are still ultimately our own.

I don't think that any of us pick what we want to believe in.

Um, what? I wasn't talking about that. You had mentioned that if God gives grace to babies, mentally retarded people, etc. who don't actively believe in Jesus but still go to heaven, then he should give that same grace to "normal" people who don't believe in Jesus. I responded by saying that the condition of "belief" implies that the person actually has the capacity to believe (which babies and severely mentally retarded people don't have). I said nothing about choosing to believe something without evidence.

You're right, god is not all powerful, or he doesn't exist, I forgot. What you are doing here is the moving goal post of gods abilities. He can do anything one minute, then the next he has boundaries and obligations and covenants etc.

Nope, haven't moved a thing. See what I said above regarding God's omnipotence in orthodox Christian theology (and my own theology, for that matter, as I've never said anything different, so I can't be said to be moving any goalposts). No, God cannot do just "anything". He cannot not be true to His nature, otherwise, in not being true to his "God" nature, he would cease to be God.

I said,

"A little while"? C'mon Lee. Life in prison, 200 years, heck, even 20-30 years is hardly "a little while". Quit trying to slip that in.

You had been stating that humans only imprison people for "a little while" and always for the purpose of rehab, and I had been pointing to lengthy sentences as evidence to the contrary of both of those assertions.

You then said,

So 20-30 years, or even dying in prison is equivalent to being separated from god? That is the lamest version of hell I've ever heard, to the point that I'd say you should do some bible study.

I never said any of that was "equivalent" to being separated from God. My point was that it is not categorically unjust to remove people from society permanently, as you were claiming.

If god knows they are going to do it, they are as good as done...

True. The point is that God cannot punish people for actions that he knows they will do, they must actually do those actions to be punished for them. So in giving all people a chance to live their lives in real time, God gives them all those chances to choose Him. The point is that their punishment is warranted because they actually did choose against Him... they didn't want rehab, and likely didn't think they needed it. God simply gives them their choice.

would you rather do that or spend life in prison?

You seem to think that humans are better than God because the worst we do to someone is life in prison (or perhaps execution, depending on which you think is worse). Of course, the problem is that humans simply can't punish people longer than their own lives, so we couldn't do what God does anyway... it's not really a fair comparison. And anyway, is there really such a thing as a finite sin?

Maybe so, but you don't know how to diagram it very well if you do.

I diagrammed your question begging just fine:

p1: Bush is supporting torture.
p2: Bush is doing this because God supports torture.
C: God supports torture.

Your conclusion was part of your premises (p2). As you agreed though, irrelevant.

Glad you've calmed down from your argumentative frenzy. :-)

Rachel said...

Lee B,

I said,

"p1: It is just to punish people for crimes they commit of their own volition, even if they are genetically predisposed to such crimes."

You said,

For humans, yes. We have no choice. Currently, we do not have the ability to change the genetic predisposition, but if we were omnipotent and omniscient and then created creatures for the sake receiving glory from their punishment and at the same time calling it justice, then there is no way to call that behavior just.

This doesn't really address my p1, but I'll answer anyway. First, why should God change our genetic predisposition? It's not His fault we're this way, it's ours. Kinda ruins the whole "personal responsibility" thing if God steps in and fixes things every time we mess them up. Besides, there would still be the sins that have already been committed to deal with, plus the fact that given God's omni's (as I said to Lee R above), every time God changed our dispositions back to the "right" way, we'd choose sin again and be right back where we started.

Beyond that, I've never said that God created creatures for the sake of receiving glory from their punishment. That may be a beef you have with Calvinism, but I don't hold to that view.

God, being all knowing knew before Adam that he would fall, he knew that due to this hypothetical Adam, that all future descendants would be born in a fallen condition, "spiritual death" and that they would not be capable of obedience. He knew that He, God, would have to provide some sufficient condition before these fallen creatures would be capable of volition and acquiescence.

Yet He did it anyway, knowing what it would cost Him. That would be the "amazing love" we Christians sing about.

P1 is false in that it treats mans abilities equal with God's abilities. Knowingly creating a creature for the purpose of eternal torture and torment would be unethical for either human or deity.

My p1 above says nothing about God's abilities, or even man's abilities for that matter. It simply says that predisposition to certain crimes does not absolve people of guilt when they commit those crimes. So you have not falsified my p1 with this in the least. And again, I never said that God knowingly created anyone or anything for the purpose of eternal torture and torment.

Rachel said...

Scott,

Interesting study, but doesn't really change much. The article noted twice that it's not necessarily representative of more complex decisions than pushing a button. Besides, the study didn't say what caused the subconscious to make the decision. It very well could be that our prior choices in life, combined with the results/consequences of those choices, are what shape the subconscious to respond in a certain way.

The end of the article said,

"Hallett doubts that free will exists as a separate, independent force."

I'm unsure what is meant by this. I don't know too many people who think free will is some sort of "force". That's like saying, "love is not a separate, independent force". Free will is not tangible, it can't really be measured, it's an idea rather than something that can be seen. It just "is", rather than being some sort of force acting upon us. I just don't see how this study indicates that our choices are not our own.

Rachel said...

I think I covered everything that was addressed to me, so as I said to Lee, I'm moving on now from this thread. Thanks to all for the discussion.