Anyone who would object to the notion of God on the grounds of suffering, should only do so with the knowledge that there exists one religion that conceives of a God who experienced more of that suffering than any other being in the universe, in order to rescue us from it.

If “God” is to be found guilty, then this God must be among those put on trial, as a suffering God is the only God Christians have ever proposed.

A little atheist myth about science.

Myth: Even when scientists believe in God, they become practical atheists whenever they do science; they never bring God into the laboratory.

FALSE

That is neither true historically nor conceptually.

Let’s consider the great pioneers of modern science – the scientists of the scientific revolution (who produced modern science as we know it). Believe it or not, they were not looking for “naturalistic” explanations of things. They simply looked for consistent explanations of things. The reason they believed that nature would behave consistently is because they believed that God ruled nature.

Atheists often tell us that that bringing God into the laboratory (bringing the theistic worldview into scientific endeavours) will lead to lazy inferences: that is, supernatural explanations. It is as if God becomes a conceptual crutch – an escape clause in every difficult anomaly whereby they can simply say, “God did it,” while atheists, who must assume nature causes everything, are left to do the hard work of figuring out the natural patterns and causes of things. (This is all part and parcel of the broader atheistic myth, that science and theism are essentially opposed.)

Of course, this would entail on the theist’s part an inconsistent model of nature – a nature that lacks the resources to produce the systems around us. For a scientist to invoke supernatural explanations for things would be to assume that nature, unaided by God, is unable to behave in the way that it has been observed to.

But the mistake this makes is not that it brings the theistic worldview into the laboratory; it is that it fails to consider the way in which God governs nature: rationally, consistently, and uniformly. The scientific revolutionaries – almost all of them Christians – didn’t make that mistake. They assumed that nature would behave according to intelligible patterns and laws, because they believed in a divine intelligence as nature’s lawgiver.

Thus when they came across an anomalous piece of data, rather than calling it a miracle, their way forward was not to suspend belief in a divine intelligence, but to invoke their belief in God by assuming that the anomaly must be a consistent part of a divinely designed pattern that had yet to be discerned.

Then they searched for the pattern. And the rest is history.

This myth does not seem to pass the test of history, let alone pure reason.

6 important differences between the Exodus movie and the Biblical Exodus account:

I know what you’re thinking. “Here comes another Christian complaining about the inaccuracies of a Bible movie and spoiling everybody’s fun.”

Well. Please don’t worry. This isn’t a negative film review, or a film review at all. If the Exodus movie isn’t Biblically accurate, that doesn’t make it a bad movie, or a movie people shouldn’t watch. This isn’t one of those articles.

What this is, is an appeal to watchers of the Exodus movie to be informed and educated. Everybody knows that this film is not entirely Biblically accurate, and that’s fine; it wasn’t trying to be. But what I know is going to happen for many people who watch this movie is that they will come away from it making certain conclusions about the Bible based on this movie, even though we all know that the movie doesn’t accurately represent the Bible.

No adaptation is 100% accurate. That’s impossible. But what people should be aware of with Ridley Scott’s Exodus adaptation is that it is different to the Biblical story in all the important ways, rather than being different in peripheral, secondary ways. Many people’s perceptions of God will be influenced by this film, when this film actually says some pretty different things about God to what the original Biblical story says about God.

So before you make conclusions about the God of the Bible, based on your viewing of Ridley Scott’s adaptation of this story in the Bible, be aware of the following differences between the stories:

1. In the book of Exodus, Moses is a spiritual leader; not a military one.

Ok. This isn’t a terribly important difference (not in my books anyway). But if you watched this film, thinking you were watching a faithful retelling of the Exodus story, then perhaps this fact will make you wary of assuming that what you watched is similar to what is written in the Bible.

This difference shows us that the filmmakers were not trying to simply put the same original story of Exodus onto the screen.

2. In the book of Exodus, Moses is a reluctant leader because of timidity, not because of arrogance. (Exodus 3:11, 4:10-13)

Ridley Scott’s film depicts Moses as a self-confident, at times hot-headed character, who is hesitant to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because, 1) he doesn’t yet fully self-identify with the Israelites and has residual allegiances to the Egyptians, and 2) he is unimpressed by the God of the Israelites, and tends to disagree with God’s way of doing things.

This is actually completely different to the character of Moses in the Biblical book of Exodus, who literally says to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex 3:11), then points out his oratorical inadequacy (Ex 4:10), and then asks God to just send someone else (Ex 4:13).

In the film, Moses’ primary character development is a process of gradual humbling before God and before Israel. But in the Bible Moses develops in the other direction; he needs to go through a process of emboldening and encouraging in order to do what God asks of him.

Now, again, this difference isn’t terribly important in the scheme of things, and I rather enjoyed it as a piece of characterisation. But it does show us further, that the makers of this film have changed deep and basic things about the central characters of this story.

In what ways do you think they might have changed the character of God?

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Physicist and TV presenter Brian Cox said on Q and A tonight that the power of science is that it’s the only discipline that admits its own fallibility.

Seems like a really nice guy, but I’m perplexed as to why he would believe something that is so obviously false: I’ve never met a philosopher, historian, economist, lawyer, literary critic, OR theologian, who does not admit their own fallibility and the fallibility of their discipline.

And yes, I meant it when I said theologian. Theologians consider the text they work with (e.g. the Bible) – their data source – to be infallible, but they consider their own interpretations of the text to be fallible.

Note that this is exactly the same as scientists, who consider nature – their data source – to be completely infallible: never lying to us, and never changing, but constantly being misinterpreted by us.

Scientists and theologians are no different in this regard.

Many atheists uphold scepticism as a virtue, believing that scepticism inherently leads to atheism, or that atheism is by nature a more sceptical position. But we must remember that scepticism, per se, is always scepticism of something.

Atheists are sceptical of theism.

Theists are sceptical of atheism.

It is agnostics who are truly sceptical, as will challenge anyone’s positive claims on the matter at all.

“The Incomprehensibility Fallacy”

The atheist asks the Christian how God can exist as three persons – Father, Son and Spirit.

The Christian replies that he doesn’t fully understand the answer to this, pointing out that an infinite being such as God cannot be fully grasped by a human, finite, mundane intelligence.

The atheist is unsatisfied, and says that the Christian is committing a copout. “How, after all, can you expect me to believe in your God when you don’t even understand him? I point out logical incoherencies in your God, and all you can say is you can’t expect to understand the infinite.”

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This is a fictional anecdotal example what I’m going to call the incomprehensibility fallacy – who it is that commits the fallacy hasn’t been named.

I think it is often said by Christians that we simply don’t understand, and thus can’t give you an answer, and that this is because God is totally other-worldly, immaterial and infinite. And it is often said by atheists that this is a copout.

But consider this. There are many, many things I don’t understand about Australia’s legal system. But I’m quite convinced that it exists – and justly so (the evidence is reasonably overwhelming). To say that the fact that I don’t understand the Australian legal system is a good reason to think that it doesn’t exist is pretty unreasonable. You might even call it a sort of “incomprehensibility fallacy”. There are all sorts of things whose existence I am convinced of, and that I don’t understand and do not even expect to understand: my own circulatory system, the discipline of economics, the universe at large, atoms, and of course, women.

The question is not: “can you give an exhaustive and comprehensive theory about this object and all its qualities?”

The question is: “do you have sufficient evidence to be able to say with confidence that this object (with at least x number of essential qualities) exists, whatever other qualities it may possess?”

***

Of course we don’t understand everything about God. But I do believe we have enough evidence to be able to say confidently that he exists, and to understand certain characteristics that he has: that he is good, that he loves all people, that he created the universe, that he is all powerful, and a few other things.

We also know that he became human in the person of Jesus, died, and rose again. Some of the consequences of this are very hard to grasp, though. If God is eternal, and he existed on Earth for a time as a man, then it is necessary that God was at once both in Heaven and on Earth. It is from here that all the deductions have to begin, to bring us towards the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity is a very confusing and often seemingly incoherent concept. But it is a metaphysical difficulty that is necessitated by irrefutable empirical facts. The fact that we cannot understand it does not license us to throw it away entirely, because it is not the theory’s tidiness and comprehensibility that causes us to believe it; it is the theory’s grounding in indispensable premises.

“Let me get this straight. You think the Creator of the Universe cares personally about your life, and that you know, with absolute certainty, what he wants for all of humankind. While I think that we’re basically alone, not very special, and are just fumbling through our random existence trying to do the best we can. And I’m the arrogant one?” -Daniel Miessler

Yes I believe all those things. But I don’t believe any of them with absolute certainty (that’s a bit of a straw man / false dichotomy in disguise).

This is a very late reply. But I just noticed this ‘question’ again and thought I’d just address it for kicks.

Now I don’t know personally the guy who composed this quote, so I wouldn’t call him arrogant. But it is interesting that this quote does acknowledge the ubiquity of the accusation towards atheists that they are arrogant. And in my experience, I don’t think this is an unfair accusation. I have met some very humble atheists, but there is no shortage of your good old stereotypical arrogant atheist.

However whenever I find myself thinking that an atheist is arrogant, it is nothing to do with their worldview. Their arrogance is not intrinsic to, or necessitated by, their atheistic beliefs. It’s just something about their personality and the way they argue about things that, regardless of what they believe, comes across as arrogant.

And thus it is fascinating, a very cunning move, that in response to such an accusation, an atheist would turn the charge back on the Christian, but unwittingly, it would seem, retort with a charge of an entirely different breed of arrogance to the one they themselves have been accused of: two kinds of arrogance which are not assessable by the same criteria. That is, while the atheist has been accused of having an arrogant personality, he charges the Christian with having an arrogant world-view; it is claimed that the very beliefs a Christian has make him arrogant. Really, this is quite a different charge to the one given to atheists. The atheist’s personality has been evaluated, and then he responds by evaluating the Christian’s beliefs. This isn’t a very consistent rebuttal.

But apart from that, Christianity is not and arrogant world-view. Yes I believe the creator of the universe cares about me personally, and I have beliefs about his desires for all mankind. But these statements say much more about the character of God than they do about my own character. They are theological claims. I believe God cares about me. I also believe he cares just as much about every other human. I believe God loves every individual personally and deeply.

Now here again comes the inconsistency of the atheist’s argument. I suppose that it is claimed that it is arrogant to think there’s something special about humanity – that we are valuable, even more valuable than rocks and sparrows. This is nothing like the kind of arrogance the atheist has been accused of. While I believe there is something special about humanity, even go so far as to say we are more important than other things in the universe, atheists are being accused of thinking that they are more important, or smarter, or better than other humans. Hopefully we can see the colossal difference between thinking your species is special, and thinking you are special compared to the rest of your species.

On top of that, everything I believe about God loving me and all other people comes with a couple of qualifications. God doesn’t love me because I’m good. He loves me despite the fact that I’m actually evil. God loves all humanity not because of who we are, but despite everything we are, and everything we’ve done. I don’t believe that I’m in any way deserving of God’s love. That God loves me is informative entirely of God’s character, and has nothing to do with my own.

Call this worldview offensive in whatever way, but arrogant is the last thing it is.

friendlyatheist:

The foundation of morality, reason.

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Dawkins makes a staggering number of mistakes in this argument.

First, he doesn’t actually answer the question that he’s asked. He is asked about how it is that an atheist would establish a framework within which to decide between right and wrong without believing in any sort of divine moral law giver who can bring rational basis to concepts of right and wrong.

Instead of answering that, Dawkins simply critiqued the specific moral lawS that certain religions have apparently suggested, and said that our modern ones are superior. But he has failed to give any rational account of what makes something right or wrong. By saying that modern morality is superior to ancient morality, he presupposed the very thing he was asked to prove – that there is such a thing as right and wrong. He was asked a metaethics question, and provided a normative ethics answer. It wins applause. But that’s it.

The other main one is that he doesn’t seem to understand what absolute morality really means. He says that because the specific religious moral laws are unsatisfactory, he doesn’t want absolute morality. He seems to think that absolute morality means a moral law that you are not allowed to question and reason about. And if that was what was meant by ‘absolute morality’, I think I wouldn’t want it either. But that is not what absolute morality means – not when philosophers talk about it, and I highly doubt it was what the questioner meant by it.

Absolute morality simply means that there is an absolute truth (not relative truth) as to whether something is right or wrong. It means that you can reason and debate about it as much as you want, but in the end there IS a truth about whether or not it is wrong to rape someone; that the truth about it is not relative to people’s opinions. It is this type of moral reality that he was asked to give an atheist’s rational account for. Instead he presumed this type of morality exists in order to blast religious people.

I find it strange that he would do this considering that I’m pretty sure, on other occasions, he has admitted that there is no rational basis for morality under atheism.

This is some pretty dodgy rhetoric on Dawkins’ party I must say.

On Human Value.

– Written 25th July 2010


What makes a human life valuable? Well. God does.

Not only is it God who does, but it is only God who can make human life valuable.

Let’s slow down.

Let me tell you, there is no such thing as intrinsic value. That is to say that everything that has value only has it because there is something external to it that benefits from it in some way. Value is placed upon something. It is located in the mind of the valuer, not within the thing itself.

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