Yesterday, today, and forever

I’m taking a certain amount of heat for declaring, as undeniable fact, that God does not show up in real life. That’s a good thing, because it promotes debate and discussion, and I’m prepared to show some easily verified reasons why I can legitimately and objectively make that claim. One of those reasons is the impact God’s absence has on Christian theology.

In his response to the post on Santa, Nessie and God, Jayman writes:

DD, I see the argument that you’re trying to make but I doubt it rings true to many Christians for two main reasons. First, your interpretation of the Bible and the motives you ascribe to God are not in line with the beliefs Christians actually hold. This means your arguments come across as attacking a straw man argument. Second, your appeal to real world truth back fires when it is made to people who believe they have experienced God in their lives. Such an appeal essentially disproves your argument in their mind.

We’ll deal with point two in a future post. Meanwhile, let’s look at the argument that Christians do not believe God ought to behave the way I say, and let’s throw in an earlier comment by cl:

Although I can’t speak for DD, from what I can glean of his writings in this series, any miracle can be relegated to ignorance – unless of course, God actually manifests and takes credit for the miracle – but even then, how do we know the being which manifests to take credit for the miracle is actually God?

These comments are related: they both have to do with the theology of what it is reasonable to expect God to be willing and able to do in real life.

I’ll get to my analysis in a moment, but first, let’s add a few more comments to our list to demonstrate something of the nature and extent of the impact God’s absence has on Christian theology. For example, this comment from Jayman:

DD, we’re in agreement that if god wanted to show himself to everyone at this very moment then we’d all know of his existence. But that’s the only kind of god you’ve disproven. You haven’t ruled out miracles from a different kind of god.

And this:

Hebrews 11:6 does not say that God wants to reveal himself to everyone at this very moment. Full participation with God is for the next age, not this one. From the Judeo-Christian perspective, DD is attacking a strawman god.

As I pointed out in an earlier post,

God is supposed to be a perfect, loving, merciful Heavenly Father Who is intimately involved in the lives and destinies of His children.

Each one of those links points back to a New Testament verse, typically quoting Jesus, in which God is described as having the characteristics, abilities, and motives I’ve listed. Since truth is consistent with itself, these alleged facts about God ought to enable us to make some reasonable predictions as to what we ought to see Him doing in real life. We would not, for example, infer that a God like that would send all Christians to Hell and cackle wickedly about how easy they were to deceive. These are ideas with predictable consequences, and therefore we ought to be able to make real-world observations that would tell us whether these consequences (and thus the premises that implied them) are really true.

These consequences, however, are not what Christians actually believe. Strange, but true. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with the consequences themselves: if we described a human father who was loving and kind and intimately involved in the lives and development of his children, we wouldn’t find anything strange at all in that father showing up and spending time, in person, tangibly present, in 2-way, face-to-face interactions with his children. But believers already know that God does not show up in real life. God’s pervasive and consistent absence puts severe constraints on what Christian theology is permitted to ascribe to God, and forces the present-day concept of God into a box so small as to exclude virtually anything that requires objectively-real existence on God’s part.

We can see this by comparing the Christian theology of God’s behavior in the present day versus His predicted behavior in the apocalyptic future. Christians know, here and now, that God does not show up in real life, leading to a constrained concept of what God can be expected to do. In the apocalyptic future, which no one has yet experienced, these constraints do not exist. Christians are free to envision God’s future behavior in a way that is finally consistent with the characteristics listed above—and they do:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…”

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

Notice there are no objections here like, “How will we be able to be sure the photographs of New Jerusalem aren’t fakes?” or “How will future skeptics know these two glorious beings are the real Lord God Almighty and the Lamb?” There’s no question about “What do God and the Lamb need to do to prove, under these circumstances, that miracles are genuine?” In the future, God is supposed to be free to show up, and does show up, and therefore the evidentiary requirements of the most critical skeptic are easily satisfied. Nobody argues about which star in Orion’s belt is our sun once the real sun rises.

So in fact, there’s nothing unchristian or unbiblical about my assessment of what sort of behavior ought to result from the characteristics and motives the Bible ascribes to God. Even Christians describe God as showing up in unmistakable ways once the constraints of His known absence are removed. In the real world as we observe it today, however, God does not show up in this way, and His absence is so pervasive that it dictates strict limits on Christian theology. There’s no good reason for God not to show up, except for the fact that everybody already knows He does not, and therefore Christians have to retrofit their theology to conform to real-world constraints.

This is where the field of apologetics comes from: the need to rationalize theology in order to make the contradiction between dogma and reality less apparent. If we use forward-thinking (observing what consequences ought to result from God’s character and motives), we come up with a list of consequences that falsify Christian beliefs, because we don’t observe them in real life. Apologetics is backwards thinking: starting from the known conditions, and reasoning backwards to try and find some plausible-sounding scenario that reconciles the original premises with a reality in which God consistently and universally fails to show up.

Apologetics, consequently, results in a limited theology of God’s behavior that allows Him to be “real” in ways that don’t involve actually showing up in a Biblical sense. If God did show up in real life, such limitations would not only be unnecessary, but insulting to God. Jayman is right: modern Christian concepts of what it is possible for God to do are different from the consequences you would expect based on Biblical descriptions of God’s nature and desires. And they’re different in ways that are mandated by the undeniable fact that God does not show up.

So whenever we hear complaints like, “It’s too hard to know what a genuine miracle would look like,” or “How could we know it was really God even if He did show up?” it’s because God’s universally known, experienced, and verified absence is forcing theology to have those weaknesses and limitations. It’s an undeniable fact that even Christians cannot avoid.

 
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Posted in Unapologetics. 37 Comments »

37 Responses to “Yesterday, today, and forever”

  1. Jayman Says:

    DD:

    Jayman is right: modern Christian concepts of what it is possible for God to do are different from the consequences you would expect based on Biblical descriptions of God’s nature and desires.

    First, I made no comment on what it is possible for God to do. I commented on whether our observations are consistent with the existence of the God of the Bible. Second, I find what you call the “biblical descriptions of God’s nature and desires” to be inaccurate and therefore useless in determining whether our observations are consistent with the existence of the God of the Bible.

  2. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “Second, I find what you call the ‘biblical descriptions of God’s nature and desires’ to be inaccurate…”

    He cited every single verse he got the description from, what exactly are you contesting?

  3. Jayman Says:

    ThatOtherGuy, DD seems to think that the God of the Bible should be manifesting himself to all of us on a regular basis right now. But if you read the Bible from cover to cover you will realize that God does not make it a habit of manifesting himself to humanity. The understanding of God’s nature and desires must be understood in this light. Saying that the biblical God’s love, for example, requires him to manifest himself to us now ignores other parts of the Bible which show that is not how God necessarily operates.

  4. John Morales Says:

    Second, I find what you call the “biblical descriptions of God’s nature and desires” to be inaccurate and therefore useless in determining whether our observations are consistent with the existence of the God of the Bible.

    And I find you a disputatious contrarian sophist.

  5. rgz Says:

    True, God is also conspicuously absent from some parts of the Bible, but since truth is consistent with itself we can make the prediction that even then people knew God doesn’t show up so it isn’t surprising that God has being constrained into a little box even then, specially considering the Bible had many authors.

    The difference between Bible stories with an open or closet God can be related to different authors aim for realist or fantastic storytelling.

  6. pboyfloyd Says:

    So, Duncan is saying that God did show up according to the Bible therefore HE ought to show up but HE doesn’t.

    Jayman is saying that while he believes that God did show up, and that the entire basis of his belief is that HE showed up at LEAST by some kind of proxy(in Jesus), only 2 millenia ago, somehow the awful truth is that HE DOESN”T usually show up.

    But, it’s not as simple as that because Jayman claims that HE DOES show up in select Christian’s heads, to heal a select few and by proxy as lit figures on select church rooftops and such.

    Wouldn’t that be, in a ‘nutshell’ what you are claiming, Jayman?

  7. cl Says:

    Well, I had enough to say on this one that it turned into a post of its own, so in efforts to conserve space, here’s the summary. I presume everyone can figure out where each point corresponds in the OP, and if not, they’re argued at length at my blog:

    1) How do we account for the paradox of short-lived and relatively unintelligent, flawed humans reasonably and/or reliably predicting a purportedly eternal and omniscient Being?

    2) Can we assume that which we assert?

    3) Do the healthy lay around in hospital beds?

    4) Are we reasonably justified in faulting physics and astronomy because we’re currently in the Stelliferous and not the Degenerate Era?

    5) Should we equally smear science and detective work with a negative connotation of “backwards thinking?”

    6) Would a trilobyte be justified in faulting evolution because there were no humans around in the Cambrian??

    John Morales,

    Of course you’re free to denounce me like you did to Jayman, but I’m going to stick up here because I know how irritating it is to be accused of sophism when you actually have a valid point. Jayman’s statement you dispute is cogent. We cannot reliably judge whether reality is consistent with a particular idea if we misunderstand the idea itself. Would we be justified in denying evolution on account of the fact that the fossil evidence does not corroborate Darwin’s original notions of gradualism? Certainly not. Obviously there’s a misunderstanding, so why not just ask Jayman to better explain himself if you feel his point is not getting through? Denouncing the guy while not even justifying your own claim seems just more smoke and mirrors.

  8. John Morales Says:

    cl, what’s to justify? It’s my opinion.

    Jayman’s statement you dispute is cogent.

    Really. :)
    Looks like an unjustified opinion, much as mine is.

    Much like yours is, for what it’s worth.

  9. Arthur Says:

    Did Jayman just say that “God does not make it a habit of manifesting himself to humanity?”

  10. Freidenker Says:

    Oh, snap.

    If he doesn’t show up in real life, he’s useless.
    If he does show up in real life, let’s have him, then. If he doesn’t, and people claim him to be, then they’re liars.

    It’s really VERY simple once there’s no emotional strings attached.

    If someone says “but some people DO see him” – let that man show God videotaped.

    If he can’t be videotaped, then the whole idea of “God” is useless. It’s not right, it’s not even wrong. It’s just stupid.

    You can make up any shit you want and call it God, and since that’d be irrefutable, it’d also be useless.

    I’m aware that Jayman and a lot of people really believe that God does show up in real life, he just hadn’t showed up for Duncan, yet. But that’s not the point. The point is, if he shows up in real life, he shows up to real life to EVERYONE, whether they look for him, or not. And he can be taped, measured, observed, tweaked, played with and interacted upon.

    Show me God standing in front of a camera. Photo a human-like creature (or anything that’s somehow concordant with a biblical visual description of God) – breaking the laws of physics.

    Until then, God hasn’t showed up in real life. Not to you, not to anyone. And if you think my skepticism is harsh, try to think up how many times you were told that God does show up in real life, it’s just that his name isn’t Jesus (or God, or that there’s just one of them).

  11. R. C. Moore Says:

    “Would we be justified in denying evolution on account of the fact that the fossil evidence does not corroborate Darwin’s original notions of gradualism?”

    No because the conclusions of science are provisional by definition. Jayman on the the other hand, plays by no such rules. He believes in absolute truths that triumph empiricism.

    Different rules, different criteria. Not all arguments are created equal.

  12. cl Says:

    John Morales,

    Among other things, to justify means to demonstrate correctness. If you honestly don’t think there’s anything to justify, might I suggest discretion in calling other people sophists? Also, to be sure of sophism we must be sure of intent, and on what evidence might you base your claim? Merely tarring someone as a sophist without evidence or explanation is the rhetorical equivalent of calling someone a terrorist with no further explanation. Sure, it’s rhetorically successful, but is it cogent?

    Now, surely we can agree that one must understand something successfully before one can successfully respond to it, right? Would we be demonstrating a correct understanding of evolution if we deny evolution because the fossil evidence does not corroborate gradualism? If yes, we prove we don’t understand science. If no, it seems we agree with Jayman.

    R. C. Moore,

    No because the conclusions of science are provisional by definition.

    Although I agree, I’m wondering if the point of my analogy might have slipped by? John Morales called Jayman a “disputatious contrarian sophist” because Jayman felt DD misunderstood the “biblical descriptions of God’s nature and desires.”

    Surely we can agree that we must understand something successfully before we can successfully respond to it, right? With nothing more than a handwave, John Morales is calling Jayman a “disputatious contrarian sophist” for Jayman’s honest claim that DD “attacks a strawman God.” Do you think that’s fair?

    If a creationist denied evolution because the fossil record does not support gradualism, and you or I politely reminded them that the current theories center around an amalgamation of Darwin’s ideas and Gould’s PE, are we being sophists?

  13. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    Among other things, to justify means to demonstrate correctness.
    [...]
    Would we be demonstrating a correct understanding of evolution if we deny evolution because the fossil evidence does not corroborate gradualism?

    Nice petard, there. Care to justify that question?
    · Cite or define “gradualism” as applied to the modern synthesis.
    · Cite or define how “the fossil evidence does not corroborate gradualism”, in the sense you’re using gradualism.
    Then I can meaningfully answer you.
    If yes, we prove we don’t understand science. If no, it seems we agree with Jayman.Talking about sophism… :)
    What your assertion boils down to is: if I don’t deny evolution, I must agree with Jayman.
    That’s false; it’s also a non-sequitur.
    I don’t deny evolution, and I also don’t think Jayman has a point.

    John Morales called Jayman a “disputatious contrarian sophist” because Jayman felt DD misunderstood the “biblical descriptions of God’s nature and desires.”

    Not proximately; the proximate cause was that a naked opinion was offered, and I offered my own naked opinion – not on the basis of one comment, but on my perception of the corpus of such Jayman has produced over the last weeks.

    What exactly is your thesis, by the way? Your only substantive comment on this thread is just a series of rhetorical questions, the rest is meta. And your vague allusions in those questions are insufficient for me to know what your objection(s) are to the post itself.

  14. John Morales Says:

    Blockquote failure above. That should read:

    If yes, we prove we don’t understand science. If no, it seems we agree with Jayman.

    Talking about sophism…

  15. Jayman Says:

    rgz, your hypothesis that the “realistic authors” of the Bible do not describe God showing up bodily and that the “storytellers” do describe God showing up bodily is not believable since the same author may have God show up bodily in one part of the narrative and then have God not show up bodily for long stretches of the narrative. Perhaps you can grant that the authors of the Bible were sincere in their efforts?

    pboyfloyd, I’m afraid you’re still missing the main point, which is that DD thinks the God of the Bible, if he exists, should show up in the present-day in a manner and with a frequency with which he does not show up in the Bible itself. In other words, he expects the God of the Bible to act in a different way than he acts in the Bible.

    R. C. Moore, you seem to be making up positions for me. Please quote the comment where I claim that absolute truths exist and that they triumph empiricism. Your newest claims are as absurd as your previous claims that I reject science.

    John Morales, sometimes “naked opinion” is necessary to make sure we are not talking past each other. Since you’ve read my “corpus” of comments you can probably surmise that my opinion is, in fact, based on the Bible’s descriptions of God appearing.

  16. John Morales Says:

    Jayman, naked opinions are rarely necessary, and never so in blog comments.
    BTW, there’s no need for scare quotes around naked opinion or corpus. The former term denotes, as cl indicated, the expression of an opinion without a justification; the latter is a common word denoting a collection of writings.

    As for the Bible, it’s but one of many scriptures, no more credible than any other.

    I, and most atheists, judge the claims made in the Christian scriptures no more rigorously than those of any other canons, whether based on the Judaic traditions than I do those of other religions. Those religions also claim to document miracles and divine apparitions, and I disbelieve them no less.
    That is, your defense of Biblical claims (miracles, incarnations, revelations, prophesies etc), such as it is, works just as well for any other scripture or religion.

    As I make, you base your arguments upon human inability to achieve epistemological certainty outside of mathematics and logic (formal proofs and analytical truths), and that the null hypothesis is that deity-claims are not positive claims.
    This, aside from specific claims in specific comments, is why I consider your arguments sophistic and contrarian.

  17. John Morales Says:

    Um, excuse the garbling in the third paragraph above. Editing mishap in the combox. I consider the meaning is still clear, so won’t bother correcting it.

  18. cl Says:

    John Morales,

    What your assertion boils down to is: if I don’t deny evolution, I must agree with Jayman. That’s false; it’s also a non-sequitur.

    That is false and it is a non-sequitur. But it is not what my assertion boils down to and you apparently missed the point. It’s not about denying evolution. It’s about people denying their misunderstanding of evolution. Evolution is not strict, linear gradualism. So creationists who argue against gradualism argue against a misunderstanding, a mere caricature, a strawman. That’s exactly what Jayman asserts of DD regarding the God of the Bible, and such a claim is neither contrarian nor sophist. Especially when it’s true.

    As for your claims of Jayman’s offenses in “specific claims in specific comments” I can’t speak on those.

    What exactly is your thesis, by the way? Your only substantive comment on this thread is just a series of rhetorical questions, the rest is meta.

    Well, I’m sorry you’ve missed my points. I’ve stated several rather clearly. For example: In the context of DM, the “Undeniable Fact” is unknowable sans omniscience. In context of FR, the “Undeniable Fact” is reasonably justifiable. Another point I’ve made was that discussions of what is and is not a miracle are fruitless without painfully precise definitions and criteria. Another point I’ve made is that believers have more that manifestation and hearsay as potential basis’ of knowledge concerning God, and I argued specifically that DD’s opinion on this matter was a false dichotomy. There’s three points in my “thesis” right there.

  19. John Morales Says:
    If yes, we prove we don’t understand science. If no, it seems we agree with Jayman.

    … What your assertion boils down to is: if I don’t deny evolution, I must agree with Jayman.
    That’s false; it’s also a non-sequitur.
    I don’t deny evolution, and I also don’t think Jayman has a point.

    John Morales,
    What your assertion boils down to is: if I don’t deny evolution, I must agree with Jayman. That’s false; it’s also a non-sequitur.
    That is false and it is a non-sequitur. But it is not what my assertion boils down to and you apparently missed the point. It’s not about denying evolution. It’s about people denying their misunderstanding of evolution. Evolution is not strict, linear gradualism. So creationists who argue against gradualism argue against a misunderstanding, a mere caricature, a strawman.

    Really.
    What part of my previous paragraph (· Cite or define “gradualism” as applied to the modern synthesis.
    · Cite or define how “the fossil evidence does not corroborate gradualism”, in the sense you’re using gradualism.
    Then I can meaningfully answer you.
    did you fail to understand?

    Again: how do you link putative denial of an understanding of evolution with Jayman’s claims?

    Well, I’m sorry you’ve missed my points. I’ve stated several rather clearly. For example: In the context of DM, the “Undeniable Fact” is unknowable sans omniscience. In context of FR, the “Undeniable Fact” is reasonably justifiable.

    And that links to evolution, how?

    Another point I’ve made was that discussions of what is and is not a miracle are fruitless without painfully precise definitions and criteria.

    You’re disingenous. Not only have I several times offered definitions, but offered for you to do so. Others have also done so, and they too have you evaded.

    Another point I’ve made is that believers have more that manifestation and hearsay as potential basis’ of knowledge concerning God, and I argued specifically that DD’s opinion on this matter was a false dichotomy.

    That’s not a point you’ve made at all – it’s a claim you’ve made.
    You haven’t established there are other ways of knowing other than reason and sensation.
    You have furthermore yet to establish the credibility of the existence of a supernatural realm, let alone that phenomena exist for which the only credible explanation is ascribable to denizens thereof.

    There’s three points in my “thesis” right there.

    The first is spurious, the second you refuse to address, the third is unsubstantiated conjecture.

  20. cl Says:

    John Morales,

    Yes, I saw your offer for me to,

    Cite or define “gradualism” as applied to the modern synthesis. Cite or define how “the fossil evidence does not corroborate gradualism”, in the sense you’re using gradualism.

    Such would steer this thing further off course than its already gone. I don’t need to define gradualism because the point is this, the putative connection between gradualism and Jayman’s claims is this: As a creationist sounds completely absurd when they argue against a misunderstanding of evolution (gradualism), an atheist sounds completely absurd when they argue against a misunderstanding of the God of the Bible. I don’t see what’s so hard to see or understand or agree with there.

    And that links to evolution, how?

    I never said those points link to evolution. Evolution and gradualism were introduced briefly in an analogy to show why Jayman’s gripes about DD misunderstanding the God of the Bible are valid.

    You’re disingenous. Not only have I several times offered definitions, but offered for you to do so. Others have also done so, and they too have you evaded.

    No, I’m not. You’ve offered introductory definitions. I’ve offered introductory definitions. Jim offered specific examples of things he would accept, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I would like to develop a really rigorous set of criteria so we can try to make some progress here.

    That’s not a point you’ve made at all – it’s a claim you’ve made.

    Oh come on.

    You haven’t established there are other ways of knowing other than reason and sensation.

    That’s not even the argument. There are other ways of knowing besides manifestation and hearsay. I’ve established it.

    You have furthermore yet to establish the credibility of the existence of a supernatural realm, let alone that phenomena exist for which the only credible explanation is ascribable to denizens thereof.

    It’s beyond my power and interest to convince you.

    The first is spurious, the second you refuse to address, the third is unsubstantiated conjecture.

    The first is not spurious but relevant and cogent; the second has already been addressed; and neither one of us knows for sure about the third.

  21. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    As a creationist sounds completely absurd when they argue against a misunderstanding of evolution (gradualism), an atheist sounds completely absurd when they argue against a misunderstanding of the God of the Bible.

    The term evolution has two main senses; it’s both an observed phenomenon and a scientific theory (i.e. the term is polysemous).
    The GotB, on the other hand, is neither – it is a mythical construct, neither observed nor explanatory in any real sense.

    I draw your attention to the Courtier’s Reply.

  22. cl Says:

    John Morales,

    Gee, never heard of the Courtier’s Reply. Why not just cut the stuffiness and let’s try to talk level to each other here? The Courtier’s Reply is irrelevant. The question is this: Can we respond cogently to something if we misunderstand it? Can we respond cogently to evolution if we misunderstand it? I say no. What do you say?

  23. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    The question is this: Can we respond cogently to something if we misunderstand it? Can we respond cogently to evolution if we misunderstand it? I say no. What do you say?

    Depends on what the something is, and what kind of understanding you’re talking about.
    Specifically, where the something is evolution – do you mean it in the sense of the theory or of the phenomenon? And what kind of misunderstanding is it?
    It could be the concept, either in whole or in any number of its constituent parts; it could be the chain of inference from observation to descriptiion; it could be any of a further number of categories.

    It’s a moot point; you may not like it but we all here know what is meant by a miracle – an event that is contrary to known natural law and the cause of which is most plausibly attributable to a deity.
    To repeat what I’ve previously stated, the first part is yet to be established to the satisfaction of skeptics, and the second seems to me to be problematic, since deities are not themselves credibly established.

    It boils down to this: if the Christian deity wished for me to believe in it, and if it existed, then I would.
    But I don’t, and hence the ineluctable conclusion is that either it doesn’t exist, or it exists but does not wish for me to believe in it.

    I’ll believe in deities when deities are believable.
    I’ll believe in miracles when miracles are believable.

    As for the Courtier’s Reply, well aren’t you claiming we must understand your understanding of the GotB before we can meaningfully discuss it? Bah.
    Even Christians (with tens of thousands of sects) don’t agree on interpretation of the Bible – does that mean we must study each claimant’s particular specific belief before we can engage them?
    If the GotB is also the Judaic and Islamic God, why do these religions come into conflict? Do I have to study Judaism or Islam to dispute their god-claims, as you ask we do for you?

  24. cl Says:

    John Morales,

    You say we all here know what is meant by miracle, but yet this disagreement over what is and is not a miracle has been going on for almost a month now.

    As for the Courtier’s Reply, well aren’t you claiming we must understand your understanding of the GotB before we can meaningfully discuss it? Bah.

    No, but what a terrible concept! Ask that the skeptic and believer be on the same page and get “Bah!” I’m not asking you to understand my understanding of the Bible. I’m expecting any skeptic to be reasonably well-read enough in the Bible to know what it says about God. When people gas on about omni- this and that yet refuse to state whether its YHWH or the “Trinity” they refer to, I get suspicious. See, no matter what they are discussing, two people cannot have a reasonable or rational discussion if they are misunderstanding what they are discussing. There’s no sophistry or eschewing in that. Jayman is claiming DD must understand what the Bible says about God before DD can meaningfully evaluate it, just as a creationist must understand evolution if they are to meaningfully evaluate it. It’s a reasonable request. DD counts it as a strike against the Bible that God does not show up right now to spend time with his kids like a good father should. Yet, this is what the Bible says God does in the future, so how can such be a strike against the Bible? How is it a strike against the Bible that reality doesn’t conform to how DD thinks God should act right now? That’s a strike against the God DD doesn’t believe in, not the God of the Bible.

    What it boils down to is this: If the Bible claims the final revelation goes down in the future, that no final revelation type events are occurring right now is not an inconsistency with scripture. It is a consistency with scripture.

  25. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    See, no matter what they are discussing, two people cannot have a reasonable or rational discussion if they are misunderstanding what they are discussing. There’s no sophistry or eschewing in that. Jayman is claiming DD must understand what the Bible says about God before DD can meaningfully evaluate it, just as a creationist must understand evolution if they are to meaningfully evaluate it.

    I vehemently disagree.
    First, both DD and Jayman are operating from the same Bible. So the text itself is common to both.
    Second, I don’t know how knowledgeable Jayman is, but I know DD is quite familiar with it.
    Third, I’ve already mentioned the entire other religions (with their own sects) and the tens of thousand of sects of Christians – all working from the same scriptures.
    I stand by what I posted above.

    What it boils down to is this: If the Bible claims the final revelation goes down in the future, that no final revelation type events are occurring right now is not an inconsistency with scripture. It is a consistency with scripture.

    Uh-huh.
    And if the Eddas claim Ragnarök goes down in the future, that no final cataclysmic events are occurring right now is not an inconsistency with scripture. It is a consistency with scripture.
    Need I further list other religions’ eschatology for you to see how absurd that claim is, or does one example suffice? :)

  26. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    No, but what a terrible concept! Ask that the skeptic and believer be on the same page and get “Bah!” I’m not asking you to understand my understanding of the Bible. I’m expecting any skeptic to be reasonably well-read enough in the Bible to know what it says about God.

    Uh-huh.
    So, as an example, would you say the Bible clearly indicates Jesus as homoousios or as homoiousios with the Father, or something else (perhaps not even Trinitarian)? Does it make even an iota of difference?

  27. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    I’m expecting any skeptic to be reasonably well-read enough in the Bible to know what it says about God.

    Like, for example, Job 1:6-12 .

  28. cl Says:

    John Morales,

    I vehemently disagree.

    With which point?

    1) two people cannot have a reasonable or rational discussion if they are misunderstanding what they are discussing.

    2) There’s no sophistry or eschewing in that.

    3) Jayman is claiming DD must understand what the Bible says about God before DD can meaningfully evaluate it

    4) a creationist must understand evolution if they are to meaningfully evaluate it.

    Which of those points do you disagree with? To me there’s no reasonable answer but Yes to 1-4.

    First, both DD and Jayman are operating from the same Bible. So the text itself is common to both.
    Second, I don’t know how knowledgeable Jayman is, but I know DD is quite familiar with it.
    Third, I’ve already mentioned the entire other religions (with their own sects) and the tens of thousand of sects of Christians – all working from the same scriptures.

    See, but that’s all evidence that we’re talking past each other. Unless I’m misunderstanding you, that the text is common to both is irrelevant, and bringing tens of thousands of other sects into the discussion is also irrelevant.

    DD counts it as a strike against the Bible that God is not here with us right now. But the Bible does not say that God should be here with us right now. So in that respect, that God is not here right now is consistent with what the Bible says – not inconsistent. If I tell you, “I’m not coming over to go swimming until Saturday,” are you justified to call me a liar when Thursday rolls around and I’m not there in my swim trunks? If that’s absurd to you, perhaps we should just stop? I really don’t know what else to say. I want so bad to reach one point of agreement with somebody here besides Jayman, but if we can’t agree on something as straight-forward as that, we might just be doomed.

    And as for whether Jesus is homoousios or homoiousios with the Father makes a huge difference when we are discussing God’s omni-3 qualities, which you brought up. Does the Father alone retain the omni-3 qualities? Or does Jesus also retain them?

  29. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    I vehemently disagree.

    With which point?

    With the conceit that equating DD’s understanding of what the Bible says about God before DD with a creationist’s understanding of evolution, in the first instance.
    That DD’s hermeneutics are any less accurate than Jayman’s, for another.
    That comparing a coherent scientific theory, based on many factors from many disciplines, with a mountain of scientific evidence to support it is in any way comparable with an amalgam of the mythos of various ancient cultures, for yet another.
    Again, what I’ve earlier said about this stands.

    And as for whether Jesus is homoousios or homoiousios with the Father makes a huge difference when we are discussing God’s omni-3 qualities, which you brought up. Does the Father alone retain the omni-3 qualities? Or does Jesus also retain them?

    Ah yes, the heresy of Arianism.
    BTW, there is actually exactly one iota of difference…

    To be polite, I’ll briefly address your points:
    1. Two people can have a rational discussion if their mutual universe of discourse are congruent enough; in this case, they are.
    2. No sophistry? Really.
    As in, if there is but one iota of difference between two discussants’ perception of the subject of discourse, no rational discussion can be had? Close enough is not good enough?
    3. Even Christians seriously disagree on the nature of the GotB. Clearly, the Bible as a guide to the nature of its deity-construct is at best highly ambiguous and at worst inane and contradictory.
    Which makes vitiates your point 3.
    4. Only to the degree any primary school child should. Not to do so is either stupidity, wilful obtuseness or the result of cognitive dissonance.

    DD counts it as a strike against the Bible that God is not here with us right now. But the Bible does not say that God should be here with us right now. So in that respect, that God is not here right now is consistent with what the Bible says – not inconsistent

    Well, who knows? :)
    It depends on whether the GotB is omnipresent. Yet another thing Abrahamic devotees argue about.

    The Bible is just another myth, and its God just another deity, and neither is any more plausible than other myths or deities.

  30. cl Says:

    That comparing a coherent scientific theory, based on many factors from many disciplines, with a mountain of scientific evidence to support it is in any way comparable with an amalgam of the mythos of various ancient cultures, for yet another.

    That’s a misunderstanding of the analogy I’m afraid. And I’m not an evolution-denier, if you’ve gotten that idea. This whole thing started when I questioned you calling Jayman a disputatious contrarian sophist. I’m merely defending Jayman’s point in this case (and in other threads I’ve disagreed with Jayman it’s clearly not partisan for me). The analogy was to defend his point.

    My point: We cannot fault the Bible for lack of final revelation, sun-type experiences if the Bible itself claims final revelation, sun-type experiences are for after the judgment of souls. We cannot fault God for not showing up to spend time with his children if 1) Believers already argue that such happens in a spiritual way, and 2) The Bible claims that this is what happens after this current epoch. So in a very real sense, DD is arguing against how DD thinks God should behave right now, and not what the Bible actually permits about God’s behavior. Jayman’s concern is valid and the point of my analogy is not to insult DD. If I wanted to insult DD believe me, I can spew negative vitriol like the next guy, but what’s the point? But IMO the analogy stands, and no, we don’t have to study ten thousand sects’ ideas to make progress so save further appeals to the Courtier’s Reply, because when two people discuss complex terms they need to be on the same page, as your note about omnipotence demonstrates.

    The Bible is just another myth, and its God just another deity, and neither is any more plausible than other myths or deities.

    That’s fine, I’m not so much interested in people’s opinions about the Bible, and I don’t really want to get into whether the Bible is myth or real or whatnot. I want to know what people actually know about the Bible. Incidentally, if you would just answer this it would allow me to make my point and stop dancing, but I can never make my point and stop dancing until you answer: When you argue against the idea of the biblical omni-3 God, are you ascribing the omni-3 qualities to YHWH alone? Or Jesus and the Paraclete as well?? Third time that’s been asked now.

  31. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    Incidentally, if you would just answer this it would allow me to make my point and stop dancing, but I can never make my point and stop dancing until you answer: When you argue against the idea of the biblical omni-3 God, are you ascribing the omni-3 qualities to YHWH alone? Or Jesus and the Paraclete as well?? Third time that’s been asked now.

    I don’t ascribe infinite attributes to any being. The very concept is nonsensical and paradoxical.

  32. cl Says:

    I don’t ascribe infinite attributes to any being. The very concept is nonsensical and paradoxical.

    I can appreciate your caution, but I already know that you personally don’t believe in any Gods with infinite attributes. But don’t you ever argue against the God of the Bible? Presuming you do argue against this God, when you do, do you argue against omni-3 YHWH or an omni-3 Trinity? Or both, or something else? I know you don’t believe in it, but what’s your definition or understanding of the omni-3 God?

  33. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    [1] But don’t you ever argue against the God of the Bible? [2] Presuming you do argue against this God, when you do, do you argue against omni-3 YHWH or an omni-3 Trinity? [3] Or both, or something else? [4] I know you don’t believe in it, but what’s your definition or understanding of the omni-3 God?

    So many questions.
    1 Not against the GotB, only against the claims believers make about its claimed attributes, about its actual existence and the evidence for such.
    2. I respond to the claims made. Different claims, different responses. I’ve argued with Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians, all self-described True Christians™.
    3. Different believers make different claims.
    4. Omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnibenevolence* are the claims that I, as a Catholic, was expected to believe. Other sects have different beliefs.

    * What can I say? It was an omni-4 :)

  34. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    But don’t you ever argue against the God of the Bible?

    The Bible is contradictory on many matters, including those pertaining to its God.
    Can God be seen? Does God repent?

  35. cl Says:

    John Morales,

    So many questions.

    Is that bad? ;)

    As far as your argument goes, I completely agree with points 1-4, and I’m especially interested in 4. Did you merely accept the omni-4 claim? Did you investigate it? Could you ever find any scriptural support for it?? And for you personally, did those four qualities apply to God the Father or God the Trinity? Did the people who taught you to accept the omni-4 claim teach that it applied only to God the Father? Or also to Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

  36. John Morales Says:

    [1] Did you merely accept the omni-4 claim? [2] Did you investigate it? [3] Could you ever find any scriptural support for it?? [4] And for you personally, did those four qualities apply to God the Father or God the Trinity? [5] Did the people who taught you to accept the omni-4 claim teach that it applied only to God the Father? [6] Or also to Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

    1. Yes.
    2. Yes. I thought about it, and I determined the claims are paradoxical and inane.
    3. I didn’t seek scriptural support for the claims. They don’t make sense, regardless of whether they’re scripturally authorative.
    4. Short answer: Neither and both.
    Long answer: The child I once was, though faithful, had only inchoate beliefs. The more I examined those beliefs, the more silly they appeared. I recall at some point rationalising the doctrine of the Trinity as something too mysterious for human understanding (again, purely on the basis of what I’d been taught to believe).
    However, at some point as my critical faculties developed, the whole thing became too silly for me to sustain belief in it.
    5,6. The people who taught me were mostly priests, I spent years as a child in Jesuit boarding schools, in Spain in the 1960’s. I must admit I’ve forgotten a lot of the theology that was pushed on me.
    As I recall, however, God was the Trinity, and each member of the Trinity was God in itself.

    Apparently, though it’s an categorical contradiction, it is held to be true but ineffable by believers. Me, I find it a ridiculous claim.

  37. kevinc Says:

    Let us lay aside the question of whether or not the Biblegod’s behavior is consistent with the idea of him being a loving father to his children or not, and get to the actual core of DD’s point: does Biblegod exhibit any sort of behavior at all in reality?

    In other words, is there any operational difference between [Universe + God] and [Universe] (i.e. Universe as understood by atheists, scientists, etc.)? If yes, then we have a testable claim. If no, then Occam’s Razor lops off God as an unnecessary hypothesis.

    For example, if God provides favorable responses to the prayers of Christians even occasionally, while not answering the prayers of Hindus, shamanists, Pagans, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. then statistically, Christians would be at least a little better off for praying to their deity than believers in other deities are for praying to theirs, and nonbelievers for praying to none.

    If being “Born Again” creates some sort of inner transformation that is in any way more real than being “Enlightened” (Buddhism) or devout in some other religion or having secular psychotherapy–or having no claimed inner transformation at all–then statistically, we should expect that statistically, “Born Again” Christians would manifest their inner transformation in their outer lives. “By their fruits you shall know them.” “Faith without works is dead.”

    So far there is no compelling statistical evidence that Christian prayer is more efficacious than anyone else’s, or differs from random chance. Indexes of societal health (crime rates, life expectancy, etc.) are consistently better in secular societies like Sweden and Norway than in the religious United States.

    Reality behaves exactly as atheists expect it to. It does not behave as if it is infested with gods or angels or demons or djinn or faeries or any other sort of Invisible Magic Persons (IMP’s).