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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

10 Questions to Ask Your Pastor

I recently came across an excellent post on another blog entitled: Ten Questions to Ask your Pastor. I challenge any Christian reading this to go to their Pastor this Sunday and see what kind of answers you get. I wrestled with these when I was a believer and I had all the "pat answers" down. However, as I continued to reflect on these problems and many others, I realized that my "answers" were really not very satisfying.

1. Why is God called loving or merciful when, in the Old Testament's stories of the Israelite conquest, he specifically orders his chosen people to massacre their enemies, showing no mercy to men, women, even children and animals?

2. Does it make sense to claim, as the Bible does, that wrongdoing can be forgiven by magically transferring the blame from a guilty person to an innocent one, then punishing the innocent person?

3. Why does the Bible routinely depict God as manifesting himself in dramatic, unmistakable ways and performing obvious miracles even before the eyes of nonbelievers, when no such thing happens in the world today?

4. Why do vast numbers of Christians still believe in the imminent end of the world when the New Testament states clearly that the apocalypse was supposed to happen 2,000 years ago, during the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries?

5. Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain?

6. If it was always God's plan to provide salvation through Jesus, why didn't he send Jesus from the very beginning, instead of confusing and misleading generations of people by setting up a religion called Judaism which he knew in advance would prove to be inadequate?

7. Since the Bible states that God does not desire that anyone perish, but also states that the majority of humankind is going to hell, doesn't this show that God's plan of salvation is a failure even by his own standard? If this outcome is a success, what would count as a failure?

8. Why didn't God create human beings such that they freely desire to do good, thus removing the need to create a Hell at all? (If you believe this is impossible, isn't this the state that will exist in Heaven?)

9. Is it fair or rational for God to hide himself so that he can only be known by faith, then insist that every single human being find him by picking the right one out of thousands of conflicting and incompatible religions?

10. If you had the power to help all people who are suffering or in need, at no cost or effort to yourself, would you do it? If so, why hasn't God done this already?

58 comments:

  1. Ken

    If you were being honest, you would give great answers for all of these. It is post like these that helped me to conclude that you don't want to believe at all cost...

    God Bless...

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  2. great list, I especially like 6, I haven't heard that one before.

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  3. ZDENNY - if you were being honest, you would give great answers for all of these. I assume you have them, yes?

    I do not. To be honest, I'm having trouble even coming up with possible answers that I would consider satisfactory. So go ahead: dazzle me with your exegesis. Tell me why I'm wrong to think that these questions are problematic for Christianity. I won't even ask you do all ten; just give me one.

    But don't expect me to take on faith that "great answers" exist for these questions.

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  4. ZDenny,

    I have been extremely patient with you but I do have limits. I do not appreciate you calling me dishonest. I mentioned in my post that I know the "answers" that apologists have given to these problems but I also mentioned that I don't find them convincing.

    Why don't you provide your answers for us to "chew on"? If you perceive yourself as some great defender of the faith, certainly you would relish this opportunity.

    We are waiting!

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  5. I don't find Christians' answers convincing either. They also tend to ignore questions and change the subject or simply disappear sometimes. They are used to a sympathetic audience who nods and smiles when they give their answers. This has been my experience several times, anyway.

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  6. "They are used to a sympathetic audience who nods and smiles when they give their answers."

    Man, there are times when I wished blogs had a "like" thing you could click on, as Facebook has!

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  7. Good Day Sir,

    Interesting questions, but ultimately not too difficult. Here are my answers with three caveats:

    Caveat 1: I am a Catholic and approach the topic from this angle;

    Caveat 2: Obviously my responses will only touch upon the surface of each issue as this is just a blog comment after all;

    Caveat 3: For considerations of time and space, I will answer each question with a separate comment.

    I can be contacted at radosmiksa@gmail.com or at radosmiksa.blogspot.com.


    Questions 1--perhaps the most difficult one--and a question that I have previously answered, so I will just post that answer:

    “1. Why is God called loving or merciful when, in the Old Testament's stories of the Israelite conquest, he specifically orders his chosen people to massacre their enemies, showing no mercy to men, women, even children and animals?”

    How is it possible to reconcile what seems to be the biblical injunction by God to kill many, even the most innocent of children, and God’s supposed love? How could this be love? How could this be benevolence? Truly, could a reconciliation of these two factors even be possible? Indeed it could, and through various means, arguments and tactics no less. Yet of these various means, it is only one that will be raised here. For one of the ways that have been put forth to reconcile the harsh passages concerning God’s command to kill the innocent and with the idea of God’s love is through the understanding and application of both the chance for eternal life for the innocents, as well as God’s knowledge of all possible worlds. First, let it be clear that one should not have great problems with the killing of the adults that these passages describe, for the obvious reason concerning moral culpability for which such adults are responsible. Now, if God saves the innocent, which with the Holy Martyrs there is Catholic precedent for his doing, and with his absolute knowledge, God may know that in every possible world, the persons that are the infants in this one would have freely chosen salvation. Thus in this world, God kills them as infants, ensuring their eternal salvation, which they would have freely chosen anyway in every other possible world. Yet at the same time, God has chosen this course of action because it creates opportunity for other individuals who might not have been eternally saved without it, to be eternally saved. For example, perhaps God knows that only by seeing her baby killed for the horrid sins that she made and promoted, the baby’s mother would repent. In having the baby killed, God thus saves two people rather than one. In terms of eternal importance, therefore, more individuals are saved via the death of infants than not, but all persons that would have been saved if they had not died—meaning the infants—are saved anyway. And so love is reconciled with the command to kill innocents.

    Question 2 to follow.

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  8. Question 2:

    "2. Does it make sense to claim, as the Bible does, that wrongdoing can be forgiven by magically transferring the blame from a guilty person to an innocent one, then punishing the innocent person?"

    Absolutely. Not only does this make sense in the Bible, it easily makes sense today in a manner that is analogous to the Biblical claim. For example, Bill is the loving son of his loving father Jack. Bill is also good friends with Ted, who also works for Bill’s father Jack. Now, Ted borrows some money from Jack, but is unable to pay when payment is due. Jack, being angry with this, plans to throw Ted in jail. Bill, however, intervenes with his father Jack and tells his father that he will pay for Ted’s debt with his own money. Jack, loving his son as he does, agrees to this because of the love that he has for his son Bill. And thus Ted’s debt is paid through no merit of his own and solely by Bill’s grace. And lest you think that this analogy is too abstract, I actually did this with one of my friends that broke something in the house but could not afford to pay, so I told my parents that I would pay for him and they accepted. He was guilty and I innocent, but I paid for his mistake.

    Furthermore, in Catholic doctrine, one’s sins are actually punished whether temporally or in purgatory, even though one still receives the grace to be received into heaven, so this question does not have much force whatsoever.

    Question 3 to follow.

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  9. Question 3:

    “3. Why does the Bible routinely depict God as manifesting himself in dramatic, unmistakable ways and performing obvious miracles even before the eyes of nonbelievers, when no such thing happens in the world today?”

    Three points reference this question:

    1. There was no such thing as today’s naturalistic-unbelieving-atheist in Biblical times. Everyone believed in some type of deity or deities, so the only question was which deity, not whether said deity existed or not. This means that God’s glorious manifestations in biblical times would not have overridden an unbeliever’s unbelief, only re-directed the belief of an already deity-believing individual to the Biblical God through the miraculous. Thus the free will and free desire to reject God through the denial of his existence, as is the case with in modern times with atheists, is not overridden through the miraculous today.
    2. There is an assumption in your question that these things do not happen, but that only means that they do not happen where you are or where you have been. In contrast to this claim, I have but to present many claims of miracles that are occurring across the world in different areas to show that they do happen in different regions (see below).
    3. Finally, miracles still do occur. The miracles of Lourdes and Fatima (70,000 people in a 20 kilometre radius, including sceptics, saw the sun dance) spring to mind, although this is only a few claims that could be brought forth. These should be thoroughly investigated, before being dismissed a priori.

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  10. Question 4:

    “4. Why do vast numbers of Christians still believe in the imminent end of the world when the New Testament states clearly that the apocalypse was supposed to happen 2,000 years ago, during the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries?”

    First, the claim that that was supposed to be the time of the apocalypse has been disputed. Second, and more importantly, as a Catholic, I see the New Testament through the interpretation of the Magisterium and thus, this is not a problem and it was not claimed by Catholicism.

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  11. Question 5:

    “5. Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain?”

    Interesting to make such a bold and unsubstantiated claim that somehow physical changes to the brain disprove the soul as dualist have long ago put this objection to bed. But again, through a simple analogy: if I crack the screen of a TV or take out some of its internal components or unplug the power, this will change the image on the TV in some way and distort the signal being sent, but this does not mean that the signal is coming from inside the TV itself. The signal is external, but the presentation of the signal is affected by the physical changes to the TV.

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  12. Jumping to Question 10:

    “10. If you had the power to help all people who are suffering or in need, at no cost or effort to yourself, would you do it? If so, why hasn't God done this already?”

    No. Just the other day, I took away a toy from my 15 month old daughter who screamed and cried for ten minutes because of it. She was clearly suffering because of my action, but she also needed to learn discipline as well as the fact that she does not always get what she wants. Suffering is not nearly the biggest problem in this world, nor is my or other’s personal happiness.

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  13. Moving to Question 8:

    “8. Why didn't God create human beings such that they freely desire to do good, thus removing the need to create a Hell at all? (If you believe this is impossible, isn't this the state that will exist in Heaven?)”

    It is impossible. In heaven, free will is removed and only God’s will is done. Thus heaven is a state of no suffering but subsequently no freedom. Hell, by contrast, is a state of full freedom but also the suffering that must accompany it.

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  14. "Thus in this world, God kills them as infants, ensuring their eternal salvation, which they would have freely chosen anyway in every other possible world. Yet at the same time, God has chosen this course of action because it creates opportunity for other individuals who might not have been eternally saved without it, to be eternally saved. For example, perhaps God knows that only by seeing her baby killed for the horrid sins that she made and promoted, the baby’s mother would repent. In having the baby killed, God thus saves two people rather than one."

    I was going to be grateful that someone had at least attempted to answer, but first I'm going to have to get over the fact that you're Pro-Baby-Killing. After all, if killing babies assures their eternal Salvation, then isn't infanticide the highest moral calling a Christian can aspire to? Shouldn't we all be out doing it, all the time, before those babies have the chance to grow up and turn away from God?

    It's for their own good, after all.

    Secondarily: "For example, perhaps God knows that only by seeing her baby killed for the horrid sins that she made and promoted, the baby’s mother would repent."

    I have trouble thinking of a sin horrible enough that having your baby killed is a suitable punishment for it - not to mention the minor issue that the innocent is also being punished for someone else's sins - but you're not arguing on the basis of justice or proportionality, so let's skip that. You're arguing on the basis of Salvation, so instead let me ask: "God knows that... the baby's mother would repent." ...And do what? Turn to Jesus? (Hint: He hadn't been born yet...) Or do you suppose, in a polytheistic society, she's going to repent and start to worship the One who commanded the murder of her child? And even if one mother does react that way, do you seriously believe that they all will?

    If God can harden someone's heart (as, for example, with Pharaoh), wouldn't it be easier for Him to just soften the heart of our hypothetical mother?

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  15. "In heaven, free will is removed and only God’s will is done. Thus heaven is a state of no suffering but subsequently no freedom."

    How do you reconcile that with this sort of behavior:

    "Thus in this world, God kills them as infants, ensuring their eternal salvation, which they would have freely chosen anyway in every other possible world. Yet at the same time, God has chosen this course of action because it creates opportunity for other individuals who might not have been eternally saved without it, to be eternally saved."

    I mean, if God is killing someone's baby because he knows it will cause them to repent, then isn't He interfering with their free will? Or do we only have free will on Earth unless God decides to change our minds for us?

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  16. Good Day Mr. Mock,

    Thank you for your response. Before continuing however, let us just be clear on one thing: when I speak of these matters, I consider the matter from the Christian viewpoint, which means that I take into account both temporal and eternal rewards/lives. Nor do I consider the temporal life to be better or more important than the eternal one. With this is mind, let us continue.


    “I was going to be grateful that someone had at least attempted to answer, but first I'm going to have to get over the fact that you're Pro-Baby-Killing.”

    Please do not put generalizations into my mouth. It is disrespectful to me and shows a lack of etiquette, intelligence and decorum from you. Now, moving on.


    “After all, if killing babies assures their eternal Salvation, then isn't infanticide the highest moral calling a Christian can aspire to? Shouldn't we all be out doing it, all the time, before those babies have the chance to grow up and turn away from God?”

    This is obviously both false and simplifies my point. My point was that if there were certain babies that God had seen as accepting his grace in every possible world—meaning a Molinist point of view—then by them dying early in this world (incidentally, I might add, also preventing any suffering in this world and going to a play of straight joy) their salvation could still be assured without negating their free will. In addition, if their death could simultaneously be used to bring others to God’s grace, then this would be an even greater good that could not be achieved without it. Since all these conditions are only known by God, then it is both obvious and evident that Christians should not be committing infanticide or supporting it in any way.

    More to follow.

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  17. Continued from above.

    “I have trouble thinking of a sin horrible enough that having your baby killed is a suitable punishment for it...”

    Well, just because you cannot think of it does not mean that none exists. What if a person tortured and killed ten other children? What about a thousand?


    “- not to mention the minor issue that the innocent is also being punished for someone else's sins...”

    I am hoping that you are aware that this happens every time someone is born? I have consciously and purposefully (through the sex act) transferred horrible genes to my innocent daughter. I have punished her due to my bad habits, bad health, etc. In fact, I will also punish my grandchildren and great-grandchildren for that matter and it is not fault of theirs.


    “You're arguing on the basis of Salvation, so instead let me ask: "God knows that... the baby's mother would repent." ...And do what? Turn to Jesus? (Hint: He hadn't been born yet...)”

    Thank you for your snarky remark. I always find it fascinating how the rationalists become emotive when someone disagrees with him. But I have a hint for you, as a Catholic, those that died before Jesus are still able to receive his grace if they repent and strive to follow the natural law, written on all men’s hearts.

    “Or do you suppose, in a polytheistic society, she's going to repent and start to worship the One who commanded the murder of her child? And even if one mother does react that way, do you seriously believe that they all will?”

    I do not have to believe anything specific concerning what historical people did or imaginary people would do in such a situation. All I am doing is providing a potential defence of the matter, not a full and complete explanation of it. Furthermore, I know that if I had been as horribly evil as those people had reportedly been, and then someone came along stating that they were coming to punish me for my sins in the name of the One God and broke through all my defences, etc., I would seriously consider repenting in that case. Do not forget that in those days, power and might represented truth and authority, so when the Jews were shown to be more powerful, many would think that that is because their deity was the most powerful.


    Now I have a question for you. Consider this hypothetical situation, where you know all facts and statements to be true. The Christian God (who you are certain is God in this situation) wants you to kill Baby A, who will immediately be granted eternal life. God also tells you that Baby A wishes to be in heaven with God and desires this in all possible worlds, which means that killing him in this world would not violate his free will. Furthermore, if you kill this Baby A, ten criminals will repent of their sins and become extremely moral and productive citizens, helping thousands of people, while also being granted eternal life. In addition, by killing the baby, you will ensure that it does not suffer whatsoever in this life. Thus by killing the baby, you know that you have given the baby what it wants, prevented the baby from any suffering and saved ten people eternally and helped thousands of people temporally. By contrast, if you do not kill the baby, then the Baby will have to suffer in this life, ten people will be eternally lost in pain and thousands of people will not have their temporal suffering alleviated. With this in mind, would you kill Baby A?

    RD Miksa
    Radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  18. "I mean, if God is killing someone's baby because he knows it will cause them to repent, then isn't He interfering with their free will? Or do we only have free will on Earth unless God decides to change our minds for us?"

    Not really, as you are mistaking necessity with sufficiency--I was probably unclear on this matter, so I apologize--because the conditions created could be sufficient to cause repentence, but not necessary to cause repentence.

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  19. Yes, I understand: you speak from the Christian, specifically Catholic, viewpoint. For myself, I'll ask you to bear in mind only that I am not strictly an atheist, and while I object to certain policies and beliefs, I am indifferent (rather than hostile) to Christianity at large.

    "Please do not put generalizations into my mouth. It is disrespectful to me and shows a lack of etiquette, intelligence and decorum from you."

    Beg pardon if the phrasing was disrespectful, but the impression remains: the defence you are proposing requires that we view the killing of infants as a good thing. I trust you understand why I might be a bit appalled by that?

    "This is obviously both false and simplifies my point."

    You're right; I'd more or less overlooked the part where God in His Wisdom has examined possible outcomes in all possible worlds, and concluded that the infants would achieve salvation no matter what. But - and pardon my lack of decorum - I think that's a bullshit hypothetical anyway. If the children are going to achieve salvation in all possible worlds, then they do not have free will. Or, to put that another way, I don't see any way that they can truly have free will, and be human, and not generate possible worlds in which they fall and their salvation is lost.

    I misread your argument as saying that the infants would have been saved because they were killed before they had a chance to sin; rather than that it was okay to kill them because they were destined for Heaven anyway.

    That still leaves you in the position of Apologist For The Murder Of Children (Under Certain Circumstances), but it does not make you pro-infanticide.

    Continuing momentarily...

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  20. Hello Again,

    “Beg pardon if the phrasing was disrespectful, but the impression remains: the defence you are proposing requires that we view the killing of infants as a good thing. I trust you understand why I might be a bit appalled by that?”

    Yes and no. It is true that I might be appalled emotionally at this idea, but I am appalled morally by evil, not emotion, and if the killing of specific infants in specific circumstance is a good, then it is not appalling.


    “You're right; I'd more or less overlooked the part where God in His Wisdom has examined possible outcomes in all possible worlds, and concluded that the infants would achieve salvation no matter what. But - and pardon my lack of decorum - I think that's a bullshit hypothetical anyway.”

    First, it is not bullshit, it is a philosophical/theological argument. Second, it may be hypothetical, but that does not mean it is not possible.


    “If the children are going to achieve salvation in all possible worlds, then they do not have free will. Or, to put that another way, I don't see any way that they can truly have free will, and be human, and not generate possible worlds in which they fall and their salvation is lost.”

    Children could freely choose salvation in every possible world and still have free will. Furthermore, just because you do not see it does not mean it is not philosophically/logically possible. Your personal opinion has no bearing on the argument’s philosophical possibility.


    “That still leaves you in the position of Apologist For The Murder Of Children (Under Certain Circumstances), but it does not make you pro-infanticide.”

    Yes it does, but I have no problem with this position. Remember that the question here is whether God’s love could be reconciled with the killing of innocents and I argue that my argument shows that it does, regardless of whether it makes me an Apologist for Circumstantial Infanticide. Please do not move the goal-posts of this discussion.

    Thank you.

    RD Miksa
    Radosmiksa.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. "Well, just because you cannot think of it does not mean that none exists."

    Granted.

    "What if a person tortured and killed ten other children? What about a thousand?

    I don't see how punishing their child is in any way a just or proportional punishment for that. In any case, it's getting a bit off topic, since your defence doesn't require that having one's child killed be justice, only that it provide conditions under which A) you might (of your own free will) be saved, and B) the free will of the child is not denied.

    "I always find it fascinating how the rationalists become emotive when someone disagrees with him."

    Now who's putting generalizations into whose mouth? Have I claimed to be a rationalist? Do you know that I've become emotive? And if I have, are you sure that it has anything to do with being disagreed with?

    "But I have a hint for you, as a Catholic, those that died before Jesus are still able to receive his grace if they repent and strive to follow the natural law, written on all men’s hearts."

    I would suggest that the natural law, written on all men's hearts, says that killing children is wrong no matter who does it.

    "All I am doing is providing a potential defence of the matter, not a full and complete explanation of it."

    Your potential defence is that it was okay for God to order the murder of children, because it might have provided the opportunity for others to achieve salvation. I, um, to be honest, I don't know what to say to that. I'm still having trouble getting around the whole "murder of children" issue. I guess the best I can do is to tell you that I find your (admittedly hypothetical) scenario woefully unpersuasive.

    Coming up next: the thought experiment.

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  22. Oops, a small follow-up first:

    "First, it is not bullshit, it is a philosophical/theological argument. Second, it may be hypothetical, but that does not mean it is not possible."

    I don't mean that it's bullshit because it's hypothetical, I mean that I think it's bullshit because free will, pretty much by definition, includes the ability to make bad choices. I don't see how this sentence...
    "Children could freely choose salvation in every possible world and still have free will."
    ... is not inherently contradictory.

    ::shrugs:: Either we have very different views of free will, or we have very different views of "all possible worlds", or both.

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  23. "Consider this hypothetical situation, where you know all facts and statements to be true. The Christian God (who you are certain is God in this situation) wants you to kill Baby A, who will immediately be granted eternal life. God also tells you that Baby A wishes to be in heaven with God and desires this in all possible worlds, which means that killing him in this world would not violate his free will. Furthermore, if you kill this Baby A, ten criminals will repent of their sins and become extremely moral and productive citizens, helping thousands of people, while also being granted eternal life. In addition, by killing the baby, you will ensure that it does not suffer whatsoever in this life. Thus by killing the baby, you know that you have given the baby what it wants, prevented the baby from any suffering and saved ten people eternally and helped thousands of people temporally. By contrast, if you do not kill the baby, then the Baby will have to suffer in this life, ten people will be eternally lost in pain and thousands of people will not have their temporal suffering alleviated. With this in mind, would you kill Baby A?"

    I hate this sort of hypothetical, not least because back here in the real world, it's impossible to "know all facts and statements to be true". So, just on the face of it, I've lost any sense of how it's relevant.

    Secondarily, even if I can manage to kill this baby in a completely painless fashion, that's absolutely nothing like what happens to children in Old Testament era warfare. So, again, I'm having trouble seeing the relevance.

    But all right, I'll try to engage it. Under those circumstances - and remember, you're asking me to envision and accept an entire cosmology that I find both foreign and unlikely - I'd probably kill the baby.

    Honestly, I'm really having trouble picturing this, though. I mean, if a voice came from a burning bush and told me this - or if a being of pure light appeared beside me and dropped the knowledge directly into my brain - my first instinct would be to check myself into a psych ward. Why? Because killing babies is wrong.

    Now, take a step back with me, and examine this scenario from the outside: how monstrous and evil would an all-powerful being have to be in order to set up a scenario like that in the first place?

    Also: my apologies, but I need to beg off now. I'm overdue to return home, and entertaining as this is, I have a (non-hypothetical) child to feed and put to bed. Good evening to you, presuming that it's evening where you are.

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  24. Question 9:

    “9. Is it fair or rational for God to hide himself so that he can only be known by faith, then insist that every single human being find him by picking the right one out of thousands of conflicting and incompatible religions?”

    The Catholic position is that God’s bare and basic existence can be known by reason alone—which is how the pagan Greek philosophers determined His existence—but that the Triune God’s specific characteristics require revelation. However, to get to the particular point, as the Catholic Church teaches that even those of other faiths—if they are in invincible ignorance and strive for the moral good through the natural law written on all hearts—can be granted salvation. The Christian, furthermore, can point out that God has not hidden Himself, but came into history through Jesus Christ and is thus historically knowable to man. All this makes God current method of presentation completely fair and fully rational, even allowing those that want nothing to do with Him and actively disbelieve in Him the freedom to do so, which would not be so if He fully presented Himself.

    Also note that the Catholic claims that God’s prime desire is for us to love Him, not to specifically and certainly know of Him and if this love can be achieved by His slight concealment rather than full appearance, so much the better.

    Take care,

    RD Miksa

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  25. Hello Again,

    “I don't see how punishing their child is in any way a just or proportional punishment for that. In any case, it's getting a bit off topic, since your defence doesn't require that having one's child killed be justice, only that it provide conditions under which A) you might (of your own free will) be saved, and B) the free will of the child is not denied.”

    I would just add that to B that the child’s free will is not denied and it is immediately saved.


    “Now who's putting generalizations into whose mouth? Have I claimed to be a rationalist? Do you know that I've become emotive? And if I have, are you sure that it has anything to do with being disagreed with?”

    You know what, you are quite right. I fully apologize. The comment was unnecessary, unhelpful and uncalled for.


    “I would suggest that the natural law, written on all men's hearts, says that killing children is wrong no matter who does it.”

    Actually, this is incorrect, although that is a different discussion.


    “Your potential defence is that it was okay for God to order the murder of children, because it might have provided the opportunity for others to achieve salvation.”

    Indeed, as long as those children are immediately saved with their free will intact, as discussed.


    “I'm still having trouble getting around the whole "murder of children" issue. I guess the best I can do is to tell you that I find your (admittedly hypothetical) scenario woefully unpersuasive.”

    That is quite alright, as I am not trying to persuade you, but rather am just showing that a defence of this issue is possible.

    By the way, if it is not too forward, could I ask what your position on abortion is? Because if you are pro-choice, then your whole emotional indignation is hypocritical, as perhaps God is just pro-choice as well with the children that he creates and sustains through His will.

    Take care,

    RD Miksa
    Radosmiksa.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Carrying On:

    “I don't mean that it's bullshit because it's hypothetical, I mean that I think it's bullshit because free will, pretty much by definition, includes the ability to make bad choices. I don't see how this sentence...
    "Children could freely choose salvation in every possible world and still have free will."...is not inherently contradictory.”

    There is no contradiction there because as the number of possible worlds is finite, then it is possible that a free willed being would choose salvation in each of those worlds regardless which of the worlds that he was placed in. Much like you could flip an unaltered coin a million times and it is possible that it lands “heads” every time. And as it is possible, it is not contradictory.

    Take care,

    RD Miksa
    Radosmiksa.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Final Post for this Discussion:

    “I hate this sort of hypothetical, not least because back here in the real world, it's impossible to "know all facts and statements to be true". So, just on the face of it, I've lost any sense of how it's relevant.”

    It is relevant because in philosophy and ethics, we develop such hypothetical scenarios to test our decision-making and psychological ideas and ideals.


    “Secondarily, even if I can manage to kill this baby in a completely painless fashion, that's absolutely nothing like what happens to children in Old Testament era warfare. So, again, I'm having trouble seeing the relevance.”

    Mere assertion contradicted by evidence and knowledge. It is possible to decapitate an infant or smash its brain against rocks, both of which could be done painlessly and were available as techniques at that time. Harsh and brutal, absolutely, but that should help make it more relevant.


    “But all right, I'll try to engage it. Under those circumstances - and remember, you're asking me to envision and accept an entire cosmology that I find both foreign and unlikely - I'd probably kill the baby.”

    Thank you. At least you are honest and straight-forward in what you would do. This should, furthermore, explain to you that my position and answer to the question is indeed a defence, as you admit that you too would take such a course of action if the described situation was indeed the case in the Old Testament.


    “Honestly, I'm really having trouble picturing this, though. I mean, if a voice came from a burning bush and told me this - or if a being of pure light appeared beside me and dropped the knowledge directly into my brain - my first instinct would be to check myself into a psych ward.”

    This is irrelevant and distracting to the point at hand.


    “Now, take a step back with me, and examine this scenario from the outside: how monstrous and evil would an all-powerful being have to be in order to set up a scenario like that in the first place?”

    Well, I have looked at this from the outside, as I was not a Catholic or Christian from the age of 15 to 30, so these issues are not new to me. As far as how evil and monstrous a being would be, I would say not at all, since that being is trying to maintain and allow libertarian free will while simultaneously trying to create the conditions so that the maximum number of individuals freely chose salvation. Furthermore, I ask you to consider the exact described scenario in the sense of, hypothetically speaking, how grateful the infant would be (in heaven) knowing that his death brought salvation and comfort to so many.

    Thank you very much for the great discussion.

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  28. Question 7:

    7. Since the Bible states that God does not desire that anyone perish, but also states that the majority of humankind is going to hell, doesn't this show that God's plan of salvation is a failure even by his own standard? If this outcome is a success, what would count as a failure?

    1. The Bible is not ultimately clear and direct on this point—that the majority of mankind is going to hell—and furthermore, and more importantly, the Church does not teach it regardless what the Bible may insinuate

    2. The Church does not presume to know God’s Will in reference to salvation. In Catholicism, there is no “once saved, always saved” idea. It may also surprise you to know, as a side-note, that Catholicism even teaches that live-long atheists may even be saved, as it cannot know God’s full and complete will on the salvation of any soul.

    3. Even if we grant your premise that the majority of mankind will go to hell, this is not at all a problem when free will is inter-mixed into the situation. For example, consider a parent that has ten children. That parent wants all the parents to become doctors. The parent does everything in his power to provide the best environment, conditions and situation for his children to achieve this aim...other than forcing it into them against their free will. Now let us say that only two out of the ten children become doctors, has the parent failed? Not at all, but rather he has achieved maximal success with the consideration that he is using free beings rather than automatons. Now if we were all automatons under God’s power and some of us still went to hell, then it could be said that God’s place was a failure.

    RD Miksa

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  29. Question 6:

    6. If it was always God's plan to provide salvation through Jesus, why didn't he send Jesus from the very beginning, instead of confusing and misleading generations of people by setting up a religion called Judaism which he knew in advance would prove to be inadequate?

    This question has quite a number of pre-conceptions, so this already makes it questionable. But now, the question is if this religion was “inadequate.” Again, note that the Catholic believes Jews can be saved after Christ and were saved before Christ, so as far as salvation is concerned—which is the crucial thin—Judaism is by no means inadequate. Furthermore, because something is partial, does not mean that it was inadequate, only that it is partial. This is especially true when the time and situation of the command is given. That is why Catholicism teaches that it is the “Fullness of Truth”, because this allows there to be plenty of truth in other faiths and creeds, just not the fullness of it.

    Consider this: When my daughter is 12 months old, I say “DO NOT TOUCH THE STOVE!” When she is 24 months old, I say “Do not touch the stove because it will burn you.” When she is 36 months old, I say “Do not touch the stove because it will burn you, as it is very hot.” When she is 48 months old, I say “Do not touch the stove because it will burn you, as it is very hot, unless you are very careful.” And when she is 60 months old, I say “Do not touch the stove because it will burn you, as it is very hot, unless you are very careful and want to cook something on your own.” Anyway, you can see the point. Partial truth does not make it inadequate, it only makes it partial.

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  30. My apologies for coming back to this late (and I hope you are still following the thread, RD Miksa). I had two more points that I wanted to make, and a question to ask.

    "There is no contradiction there because as the number of possible worlds is finite, then it is possible that a free willed being would choose salvation in each of those worlds regardless which of the worlds that he was placed in."

    Okay, yes: we are clearly taking very different views of both "free will" and "all possible worlds". (For whatever it's worth, I am not acquainted the the Molinist point of view, at least not formally.) Since discussing the nature of free will would be an extremely lengthy digression, I'm going to call this an irreducible conflict in our views and move on.

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  31. Continuing...

    "It is relevant because in philosophy and ethics, we develop such hypothetical scenarios to test our decision-making and psychological ideas and ideals."

    Yes, I am aware of this. The reason that I dislike hypotheticals - and especially this sort of extreme hypothetical - is not because I think the practice is without value; but because I think that they tempt people to attach too much value to decisions that are based on conditions which are simply not available in the real world.

    In this case, what you've basically asked me to admit is that I would kill a baby if there was every reason to do so and no reason not to. And, yes, in that case I would kill the baby. But, given the same basic setup (every reason to do so, no reason not to) I would also prostitute myself, rape my own child, slaughter the world... (Assuming, in each case, that I could overcome my visceral revulsion at the very idea, which I assume is a reflection of the natural law written on all men's hearts.) So what?

    The original question was: Why is God called loving or merciful when, in the Old Testament's stories of the Israelite conquest, he specifically orders his chosen people to massacre their enemies, showing no mercy to men, women, even children and animals?

    You seem to be answering (and I truly don't mean to put words in your mouth, so please correct me if I've misunderstood) that you call God merciful because He wants and works to let as many people as possible choose salvation of their own free will, which has nothing to do with the mercy or lack of it in His orders to the Israelites. And I really don't have any objection to that as an answer.

    However, you're also answering an implied subtext to the question: how does giving those orders not make God (look like) a Bad Person?

    Here, you seem to be answering that it's possible that God did that for the Greater Good: to maximize the number of souls who achieve salvation without denying anyone's free will. And this is where I run into a problem.

    Yes, it's conceivably possible that back in the real world, there might be a situation where ordering the murder of children is morally acceptable. I still wouldn't classify it as "good" or "merciful"; at best, it might be the lesser of possible evils. It might, as you suggest, serve the greater good.

    God, however, is supposed to be perfectly good, all knowing, and all powerful. And I don't see how such a being could give that order and still be perfectly good.

    Which, incidentally, brings me back to this: you said, "It is possible to decapitate an infant or smash its brain against rocks, both of which could be done painlessly and were available as techniques at that time."

    Even granting your point as stated - and I'm not at all sure that either of those are painless - are you seriously suggesting that God gave the order to kill everyone, including women and children, in the expectation that the soldiers of that era would take the time to be merciful to the innocents? That strikes me as disengenous in the extreme.

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  32. Finally, a question: A lot of what you've posted here suggests that God's options are limited, not by lack of power, but by a desire to grant His creation free will. This is interesting to me, not least because most of the Christian apologists I run into don't address free will at all. However, it seems to create an additional problem: how do you reconcile the notion that God grants us free will with the fact that God was giving the Israelites orders? Especially since God has a well-documented history of punishing the Israelites if they fail to follow his orders?

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  33. Dear Mr. Mock,

    Sorry for taking so very long to answer, but regardless, here are my answers to your questions:

    “Yes, I am aware of this. The reason that I dislike hypotheticals - and especially this sort of extreme hypothetical - is not because I think the practice is without value; but because I think that they tempt people to attach too much value to decisions that are based on conditions which are simply not available in the real world.”

    The reason that I like extreme hypotheticals is because I think that this is where your morality and ethics are truly, fully and deeply tested. For example, we do not receive much of a moral test of living up to our ideals when we reside in North American comforts never experienced before by so many men. We do, however, receive the most serious of moral tests when we are placed in the extreme of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp (see an article that I am about to post on my blog), for example, or a war zone. It is in these extreme situations, or extreme hypothetical simulations, that our true morality is brought forth.


    “In this case, what you've basically asked me to admit is that I would kill a baby if there was every reason to do so and no reason not to. And, yes, in that case I would kill the baby. But, given the same basic setup (every reason to do so, no reason not to) I would also prostitute myself, rape my own child, slaughter the world... (Assuming, in each case, that I could overcome my visceral revulsion at the very idea, which I assume is a reflection of the natural law written on all men's hearts.) So what?”

    “So what” is that by gaining this understanding, you are starting to see and comprehend why God might permit horrible things to occur. And this is a very important piece of wisdom.


    “Yes, it's conceivably possible that back in the real world, there might be a situation where ordering the murder of children is morally acceptable. I still wouldn't classify it as "good" or "merciful"; at best, it might be the lesser of possible evils. It might, as you suggest, serve the greater good. God, however, is supposed to be perfectly good, all knowing, and all powerful. And I don't see how such a being could give that order and still be perfectly good.”

    There are three things that apply here. First, if it is understood that the greatest good is the achievement of salvation while not negating free will, then the perfect achievement of this is would be a perfect good, as my scenario argues. Second, God would be merciful if he could minimize the suffering of people while finding a way to provide them with salvation and in the scenario, this is exactly what he does, minimizing the suffering of the infants (by bringing them to heaven, as they freely wanted, before they had to endure the pain of this world) and the woman and men by granted them salvation before they died. And third, one must remember that all the attributes of God must be taken into account, meaning his justice along with his mercy in order for his actions to be perfectly good. This means that while we, as human beings, may not see something as merciful, God may still be acting in a perfectly good fashion when it is understood that all his attributes must be in function for his action to be perfectly good.


    “Even granting your point as stated - and I'm not at all sure that either of those are painless - are you seriously suggesting that God gave the order to kill everyone, including women and children, in the expectation that the soldiers of that era would take the time to be merciful to the innocents? That strikes me as disengenous in the extreme.”

    We are both speculating here, but my point is that the argument I present is entirely possible, and thus still serves as a defence of the issue.

    Take care and God bless,

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  34. Dear Mr. Mock,

    Continuing.

    You said:

    “Finally, a question: A lot of what you've posted here suggests that God's options are limited, not by lack of power, but by a desire to grant His creation free will. This is interesting to me, not least because most of the Christian apologists I run into don't address free will at all. However, it seems to create an additional problem: how do you reconcile the notion that God grants us free will with the fact that God was giving the Israelites orders? Especially since God has a well-documented history of punishing the Israelites if they fail to follow his orders?”

    This issue is answered fairly simply when it is understood that the Israelites were God’s Chosen people, which meant that they had a responsibility to obey, much like today the Christian, when he decides to become a Christian, must show his love for God through his striving towards a full and total obedience towards God’s orders. And punishment will come if obedience is not striven for.

    Take care and God bless,

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  35. Fair enough. Thanks for answering.

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  36. No problem, I just apologize that the response was so late. Feel free to e-mail me if you wish to discuss the issue in more detail.

    Take care and God Bless,

    RD Miksa
    radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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  37. OK, I've tried to answer all 10. Even though I'm from a Jewish background and now very much an Atheist, I found it interesting to think about these.

    http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-answers-to-10-questions-for-your.html

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  38. Having seen that there is lengthy discussion on this subject, I am choosing to not read the answers that have been given already. Ken, I appreciate that your feelings when you gave pat answers in the apologetics course that you taught when the answers did not seem valid to you. I will answer the questions one by one as R. D. Miksa has done. I will read his answers later, but I don't want to be influenced by his responses.
    Ken, in your audio interview with Luke on "Conversations from The Pale Blue Dot" explaining why you de-converted from Christianity you made the point that if your children were separated from you, that "you would make it crystal clear how they could find (you)". You point out that you would not use ambiguous language, etc. I agree with you completely. In that vein, the difficuly in answering the questions here and in other parts of the blog is for the answers to not be wordy, ambiguous, and basically should be on about a 3rd-4th grade level.

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  39. 1. Why is God called loving or merciful when, in the Old Testament's stories of the Israelite conquest, he specifically orders his chosen people to massacre their enemies, showing no mercy to men, women, even children and animals?

    God is merciful, loving and he is also just and punishes harshly even ordering the massacre of who you might consider innocent. Because He does not show mercy, in your opinion, in these instances does not mean that he is not loving and merciful.

    Perhaps the conflict in this question is trying to generalize the character of God by passing judgment on Him. His mercy toward evil is an act of His grace, but He is also a righteous God.

    A quick differentiation between mercy, grace and righteousness is needed to understand the answer to this question. Grace is receiving that is not deserved. Mercy is not receiving the just punishment that is deserved. Righteousness is receiving the just punishment that is deserved.

    God could destroy any of us at our first sin, (righteousness) but He is slow to anger, (mercy) and rich in love, (grace).

    If you are referring to the Canaanites, it was to destroy their idols and the temptation of the Israelites to follow after their gods. God was slow to anger with the Canaanites but he ordered them to be killed.

    Additionally, God killed all, men, women, children, animals in the flood. The Bible is clear on this.

    "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain." Genesis 6:5-6

    Again, this is punishment and not mercy as we see it. But wouldn't you allow that these righteous acts by God could have been acts of mercy and grace to the Israelites with regard to Canaan and to all who live today through the flood?

    As for me and my house, we call God loving and merciful.

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    Replies
    1. Perhaps we don't understand what "love" means to God - perhaps God in fact is very "team" oriented - the good team which recognizes Him and the bad team which rejects Him. This is simply who He is - and we have the choice to accept Him or reject Him - but at least we know who He is...

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  40. Question 2. Does it make sense to claim, as the Bible does, that wrongdoing can be forgiven by magically transferring the blame from a guilty person to an innocent one, then punishing the innocent person?

    The short answers is yes but with one exception to your question. It is not a magical transference but rather a supernatural transference.

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  41. The longer answer is that God is the one who declared that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood.

    Hebrews 9:11-23 gives a crystal clear answer.
    11 "When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here,[b] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[c] so that we may serve the living God!

    15For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

    16In the case of a will,[d] it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep."[e] 21In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

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  42. Just an honest question that arises when reading these questions:
    If there was a deity-inspired religion/following in this -God forsaken- world, what would people want it to look like?
    How would you respond to it? How would this religion/following drag you into belief? And what the hell does the deity want with you?
    Try to think about this, too: that we might not understand hot water without cold water (but especially without hot water~!)... or that we can't be considered rich without poor... or maybe (and this may be a stretching it) that we can't know what affection is without hatred (particularly without affection -and people), good without evil, real peace without genocide, the mind without the stomach.
    (And I'm half joking about the last one, I think some people might need a laugh or for their brain to explode already! But in all seriousness, I am very curious about what people think about my question on 'the' religion -God forbid it exists and we missed it. Please think about it and post your ideas!)
    If your an atheist, in all respect... maybe post whats keeping you from the inevitable. (Family*? Frisbee*? Fruit pies*?) *Just curious how people from all angles think.

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  43. Anthony,

    I don't think that this world is God forsaken. It is clear that there is evil in the world and there is good in the world. The Bible is clear on how to respond to God, but He does not drag anyone into belief. He does want relationship with each of us as we were created in His image with the choice of free will, but spending eternity separated from God is a choice just as spending eternity with God is a choice.

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  44. 3. Why does the Bible routinely depict God as manifesting himself in dramatic, unmistakable ways and performing obvious miracles even before the eyes of nonbelievers, when no such thing happens in the world today?

    God does manifest himself in dramatic and unmistakable ways in the world today. There are obvious miracles performed before the eyes of non-believers. This is much more true in countries outside of America, but these things happen here also.

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  45. 4. Why do vast numbers of Christians still believe in the imminent end of the world when the New Testament states clearly that the apocalypse was supposed to happen 2,000 years ago, during the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries?

    Show your reason for believing that the New Testament states clearly that the apocalypse was supposed to happen 2,000 years ago. If it is clear, you should cite the passage/s and not make a blanket statement without the reference.

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  46. 5. Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain?

    For clarification, I take the definition of the soul to be; mind, will and emotions. The soul can be altered by physical changes to the brain. Severe psychological trauma such as rape also affects the soul.

    I am wondering if you are referring to Christians believing in the spirit--that individuals have body, soul and spirit--and that spirit separates us from animals.

    Why would changes to identity and personality somehow negate the belief in either soul or spirit? Accounts in the Bible show Jesus healing physical ailments--the blind man--Mark 8:21-23. He also heals the demoniac in Mark 1:23-26 who is possessed by an evil spirit. Some psychological ailments are physical and some are spiritual. The fact that you can alter them is good evidence that they exist, and the Bible is clear to give instances of both soul and spirit.

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  47. 6. If it was always God's plan to provide salvation through Jesus, why didn't he send Jesus from the very beginning, instead of confusing and misleading generations of people by setting up a religion called Judaism which he knew in advance would prove to be inadequate?

    God never was confusing or misleading. Judaism is a rich and wonderful religion which showed many types of the coming Messiah. There are many Jews who worship Jesus as Messiah. Why do you think that Judaism is an inadequate religion? Many from those generations before Jesus received salvation. See Romans 2:28-29 "28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God."

    Luke 16:22-24 also shows that before Jesus, righteous men did not go to a place of suffering after their death. 22"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[a] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'"

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  48. 7. Since the Bible states that God does not desire that anyone perish, but also states that the majority of humankind is going to hell, doesn't this show that God's plan of salvation is a failure even by his own standard? If this outcome is a success, what would count as a failure?

    Going to hell is a failure on the part of the individual when it is so easy for anyone to not perish.

    To your last question--I suppose that everyone going to hell would be a failure.

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  49. 8. Why didn't God create human beings such that they freely desire to do good, thus removing the need to create a Hell at all? (If you believe this is impossible, isn't this the state that will exist in Heaven?)

    The lake of fire was created for the devil, the beast, the false prophet, death and Hades. What makes you think that Adam and Eve were not created to freely desire to do good, but were deceived into an evil action?

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  50. 9. Is it fair or rational for God to hide himself so that he can only be known by faith, then insist that every single human being find him by picking the right one out of thousands of conflicting and incompatible religions?

    To the first question, since sin cannot exist in God's presence God cannot appear to you directly. If you don't see God's presence in the world, that is your choice.

    To the second question, God showed Himself to be a living God. Man-made religions do not have a living God. Why wouldn't you pick the one with the living God? Just because there are, (perhaps) thousands of religions is really irrelevant. How many wrong answers are there for the equation 2 + 2= ? Does that negate the truth of 4 being the only right answer?

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  51. 10. If you had the power to help all people who are suffering or in need, at no cost or effort to yourself, would you do it? If so, why hasn't God done this already?

    If I helped all people who were suffering or in need, I would also need to remove sin completely from the world--or else remove free will from the world.

    God chose to address sin and leave free will, but it was at a great cost--the death of His only begotten Son. Romans 8:17-18 addresses this-- 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

    18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

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  52. Boyd,

    1. Were the Canaanites infants and toddlers not innocent?

    2. So killing an innocent person pays the penalty for a guilty person? How would you think that would go over in a court of law? Why does God like blood so much?

    3. Please document some of these "obvious miracles" that are occurring today.

    4. Matt. 24:34

    5. These alterations as you call them are biological. There is no evidence for any immaterial part of man.

    6. The Jews were confused about their own religion and had different sects. They did all mostly agree on one thing though--Jesus was not the Messiah. In addition what about the multitudes who lived and died and never came into contact with the small tribe of people in the Middle East? God didn't care about them?

    7. "Going to hell is a failure on the part of the individual"--how can you claim that? The kid born in Utah to a Mormon family or the kid born in Saudia Arabia to a Muslim family chooses to go to hell? They didn't even choose to where or to whom they would be born. They were indoctrinated from a child and told that evangelical Christians were wrong. How are they at fault?

    8. Hell was created for the devil but the vast majority of men will wind up there. How does that solve the problem?

    9. If sin cannot appear in God's presence, then how did Satan appear before him in Job 1? How did God appear to Moses, etc. Do you think that Muslims and Mormons believe they are worship a dead God?

    10. Free will does not cause hurricanes, earthquakes and childhood cancers.

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  53. Hi Ken,

    I will split the responses by question.

    1. Were the Canaanites infants and toddlers not innocent?.

    Their innocence was not the basis for God's righteous judgment in ordering their extermination. If you are saying that they were innocent because they had not reached the age of accountability, it is true that all of us die whether we are innocent or not. The flood also killed "innocent" children. The adults were all corrupted in each of these cases. It was actually God's mercy toward the children to take them before the age of accountability. It was also God's grace to Israel to give them the land that they were to possess. The problem for Israel was that they did not follow God's command and they suffered for it later.

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  54. 2. So killing an innocent person pays the penalty for a guilty person? How would you think that would go over in a court of law? Why does God like blood so much?

    Yes, in the case of Jesus, killing an innocent person pays the penalty for a guilty person. That is why grace is unmerited favor. In a court of law, I don't think I would argue with the judge who made the law. It sounds like you are arguing over your impression of God's fairness in His decision. That has certainly been seen in a court of law also.


    God said that there would be no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. I don't think the issue is that God likes blood so much as He does not like sin. Since the crucifixion of Jesus paid the penalty for sin once and for all, the animal sacrifices were no longer needed.

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  55. God isn't pleased with the shedding of innocent blood in and of itself. What He was pleased about when He allowed evil men to murder His Son was the fact that He was going to wash away the sins of His people and cover them in His righteousness. God's emotional life is infinitely complex. He feels everything at once. He's not bloodthirsty or sadistic. In one sense He was grieved at the murder of His Son. In another sense He was pleased.

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  56. 3 I have personally witnessed miracles that were obvious to me. If you start a section of the blog on miracles, I believe you will get responses from others on this subject. While I am certain of miracles that I have seen firsthand, I would not expect you to believe in miracles unless you witness them.

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