Proving What Isn’t There Doesn’t Work January 17, 2011

Proving What Isn’t There Doesn’t Work

Dante Shepherd explains:

No one should be wasting their time putting salt shakers everywhere. Remember that the next time a Christian says, “But you can’t prove God doesn’t exist.”

Even with god, though, it’s not like Christians keep “salt shakers” everywhere either. How many church sermons urge Christians to be more like Christ? How many fall short of the bar they seem to set?

Maybe it’s because, as Mark Twain once said, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” If people actually, sincerely believed in God — if they feared him and wanted to be near him in the afterlife — they would act like little angels all the time. They don’t. And that should tell us something.

“Sins” aren’t momentary lapses. They’re like Freudian slips, showing the world how you really feel, giving away the fact that deep down you don’t really buy into all the theological garbage they teach in church.

When Christians “sin,” they’re just showing us there are no salt shakers in their house.

How’s that for overanalyzing a comic?

(via Surviving the World — Thanks to Lauren for the link!)

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  • Beauzeaux

    I am so dense. I don’t understand the “salt shakers” — what would having salt shakers in every room of the house mean?

  • Peronally, I think it was a great analysis. I loved the section:

    “Sins” aren’t momentary lapses. They’re like Freudian slips, showing the world how you really feel, giving away the fact that deep down you don’t really buy into all the theological garbage they teach in church.

    In an early post on my blog, I pointed out that christians feel free to masturbate in front of god, supreme being of the universe, when they be mortified if a family member or neighbour saw them-it shows that they truly consider god to not be “real”.

    If you want the long version, see Masturbation and Practical Atheism

    Pointing out the inconsistencies of supposed belief and practice had the most effect on me when it came to questioning things and I think many others have had similar experiences.

    Great job Hemant!

    (even if I hate the idea of giant space slugs) 🙂

  • Steve

    Snails die when you put salt on them because they are dehydrated through osmosis

  • You also can’t prove that intergalactic space slugs are malevolent and you would therefore want them to go away (thus the salt shakers in each room). They might be beneficial and you would want them close by. If so, you might want little plates of vegetables in each room for them to eat.

  • Noel

    Faith and sin are intertwined in Christianity. They are not mutually exclusive. Any religion that declares humility as a virtue carries the self-contradiction of promoting unachievable moral codes: To be sinless is a sin.

    In Christianity, faith and sin are co-dependents.

    As Leonard Peikoff wrote, “If one upholds an ethics of life … he does need to smuggle in any speck of its opposite. One does not need a breathing space — from breathing.”

    Sin isn’t the proof that Christians don’t believe in a god. Let’s not get into that trap. Trying to prove that mysticists don’t believe in god is just as irrelevant and meaningless as trying to prove the nonexistence of gods.

  • Steve

    The salt shakers are defensive weapons only. You need to actively sprinkle them with salt.

    Since you don’t know whether they have good intentions are not, it’s better to be prepared.

  • Bob

    Except the Christian delusion has the convenient mechanism of forgiveness/being saved built into it.

    It’s impossible to express sin = innate disbelief when forgiveness = belief.

  • Hemant wrote:

    If people actually, sincerely believed in God — if they feared him and wanted to be near him in the afterlife — they would act like little angels all the time. They don’t. And that should tell us something.

    Have to disagree here. What people failing to live up to the impossible dictates of religion tells us is religious people are human. And that those dictates are evil and anti-human. It doesn’t tell us that those believers don’t sincerely believe. Can’t tell you how much of my teen years was spent agonizing over doing something human and normal (usually with a girlfriend), then fearing for my immortal soul because religion said it was wrong.

  • Thegoodman

    This argument implies logic. Logic, while a sound weapon against religion, has confusingly been ineffective countless times.

    Perhaps we should consult the Space Slugs to develop a more effective arsenal.

  • Well, there are two issues here. The first is the idea that you can’t prove a negative. I think we can prove a negative and in five days I will release my Ontological Proof for the Non-existence of God.

    The second issue has to do with whether Christians KNOW there is no god. While I think I argued for that at one point, I don’t really like that argument any more. Christians believe what they believe as ridiculous as those beliefs are. Telling them that they don’t believe what they claim to believe is silly.

  • Illiak

    Why the attack on believers when the real problem is the people who use and abuse people’s desire to believe? It seems the real problem with religion isn’t the masses and their simple beliefs but those who manage to subvert said beliefs toward ugly agendas.

  • Crap… time to go buy a lot of salt shakers.

  • Patrick

    Everyday Atheist- That’s just the thing, isn’t it. I bet you wouldn’t have done those things if your mother was literally in the room with you, watching, even if you knew she wouldn’t do anything to stop you except watch with a disappointed look on her face.

    It seems like there’s a qualitative difference between

    a. “I won’t make out with my girlfriend right now because I believe my Mom is watching,” and
    b. “I won’t make out with my girlfriend right now because I believe Jesus is watching.”

    Its probably because “believe” is a surprisingly slippery concept.

  • Richard Wade

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to make a blanket statement that Christians don’t believe what they say they believe. That sounds a lot like the very annoying statements that some Christians make about how atheists actually secretly believe in God, even though they say they don’t.

    Let’s not tell each other what the other thinks, let’s ask.

    Certainly there are some non-believers sitting every Sunday in pews, but not all of them are fakers. “Sinning” doesn’t by necessity indicate a complete lack of belief in their religious principles. It could simply represent a failure. Having a doughnut doesn’t mean that you actually think your diet is complete hogwash. It just means you succumbed to temptation and you need to get back on it.

  • Protestant Christians have figured it out. The believe acts won’t get you into heaven, nor will they keep you out. In short “sins” don’t matter as long as you tell Jesus you’re sorry and accept Him as your personal savior. It’s like having a get-out-of-jail-free card. Their believe is the only thing that matters to them. Their acts are relatively meaningless. I know a few like this and it’s kinda scary. They even believe mass murderers can get to heaven if the accept Jesus before they die.

    Think about it… if a religion said acts alone will get you into heaven no one would follow it because they know they’ve already blown it and will again; hence the popularity of the belief that faith alone is what matters.

  • Jon Peterson

    Over-analyzing? I’m pretty sure Dante would appreciate it.

  • @Todd Grzech.

    I agree with your assessment. Of course the even simpler conception is that there is no afterlife and therefore no criteria to worry about for entrance. Hell, even if there is an afterlife, I think the notion of a criteria for entrance is pretty ridiculous. Just because humans like to form clubs with entrance criteria, doesn’t mean that is the way the cosmos works.

  • The flaw in this argument is it uses logic and is based in rationality….

  • Bob, Noel, and Richard are pretty spot on.

    Even with god, though, it’s not like Christians keep “salt shakers” everywhere either. How many church sermons urge Christians to be more like Christ? How many fall short of the bar they seem to set?

    “Sins” aren’t momentary lapses. They’re like Freudian slips, showing the world how you really feel, giving away the fact that deep down you don’t really buy into all the theological garbage they teach in church.

    It seems that neither Hemant, nor Mark Twain, fully grasp the concept of grace. Which is one of the five fundamental beliefs of protestantism. The five solas. The Catholics have a slightly more complicated view of Grace. But this post misrepresents their views too.

    If you can’t grasp even the most basic tenets of the religion you’re taking a stab at, perhaps leave it to the experts.

    Christians believe that sin is inevitable, as is God’s forgiveness. Luther said something along the lines of “sin boldly, but rely on God’s grace even more boldly”… you are looking at a set of data and coming to some incredibly odd conclusions here.

    Christians fail to be like Christ because Christ is a perfect standard we’re to try to imitate, but we are not perfect (see doctrines such as the doctrine of original sin, and just about anything the Apostle Paul wrote about the battle between flesh and spirit). Sin is proof positive that we need God (at least for the Christian). If I was to stop sinning then I wouldn’t need Jesus to act on my behalf.

    Your theories about Christian belief and conduct fly in the face of 2,000 years of Christian teaching, and Christian thinking, and have no correspondence with the reality of Christian thought.

  • @Todd

    “They even believe mass murderers can get to heaven if the accept Jesus before they die.”

    There’s that little precedent of the guy Rome were crucifying next to Jesus for being a violent insurrectionist (probably) – who was promised forgiveness by Jesus just before he died.

    That’s a pretty orthodox belief, shared by the Catholics (who take deathbed confessions).

  • I think the disconnect here is a mixup between mental assertions and actions. I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that christians don’t assert mentally to the reality of god and sin-I’ll stipulate to that.

    Where I believe Hemant and @Patrick and I part company with the others is when we look at behaviour.

    If there are behaviours that christians will not perform in front of human beings out of a sense of fear or shame or something else, but they will perform in front of “god”, they must consider god to be less “real” than the humans they interact with. It’s not about being unchristlike, it’s about ascribing less value to christ’s presence than that of any human-practical atheism.

    Some catholics I know can’t even have sex in a room with statues of saints, yet they can commit all number of sins in the presence of “almighty” god.

    To borrow Richard’s diet analogy, if I truly believe that the doughnut has arsenic in it, I’m not the least bit tempted to eat it, diet or not. And for those who find I’m stretching the argument, more than one minister has equated sin with poison.

    Either their actions demonstrate they don’t believe in god, or they don’t believe what he says about sin.

    As the nt says “by their fruits you will know them.”

  • “Your theories about Christian belief and conduct fly in the face of 2,000 years of Christian teaching, and Christian thinking, and have no correspondence with the reality of Christian thought.”

    Perhaps at the level of Christian teaching you may be correct, but in every day practice, by Christians I encounter in my neighborhood and workplace, there seems to be huge void between the teaching

    “Christians fail to be like Christ because Christ is a perfect standard we’re to try to imitate

    and the way they live their day to day lives. It seems many are capable of turning it off after church on Sunday and capable of being complete pricks to neighbors, minorities, and worse. I’ve heard people I work with who are Southern Baptists and attend church several times per week, say things like like “the homeless people freezing to death in the streets (during our recent southern cold snap) deserve it!” or how just three days ago when the Charlotte/Mech School board decided to hold classes today to make up for a snow day, and not observe MLK day, several of my “Christian” co-workers said “so what? It’s just N—R day! Did you see all the N—Rs whining on TV about missing their precious holiday?” Yet when ANY of these same Christians gets pissed they’ll exclaim “dat-gummit” like a little child afraid to use their lord’s name in vein.
    It is apparent by their actions and words that at least these Christians are only afraid to commit sins against God, not against humans. Welcome to the bible belt, where it seems you can be a complete biggot, hateful prick and still have your ticket to heaven, secured by your belief in Jesus.
    One of these Baptist Christian co-workers asks me almost weekly to come to his church. On Friday, after his statements about MLK day, I asked him if attending would make me a better humanitarian, like him. Then I left the room.

  • Philbert

    People are horrible at choosing long term benefits over short term desires. I don’t think sin proves anything.

  • Robert W.

    Todd,

    It seems many are capable of turning it off after church on Sunday and capable of being complete pricks to neighbors, minorities, and worse.

    Sad but true. These folks should read James 1:22- Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

    Nathan,

    You are correct about the concept of grace. It is a concept that is hard to grasp for most atheist who judge the world by what they do and not my what has been done for them. That is where the idea comes from that on a person’s deathbed they can say some magic words and be saved- “See God, I said it now get me out of hell free.”

  • Richard Wade Says:

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to make a blanket statement that Christians don’t believe what they say they believe. … Let’s not tell each other what the other thinks, let’s ask.

    Unfortunately this doesn’t work, because religious teachings tell the “believer” precisely how to answer such questions. The game is rigged. A religious “believer” is exactly the wrong person to ask about what he really believes. Extremely strong social norms dictate what he can tell you, and therefore it’s pretty much guaranteed to be misleading. We have to fall back on observing his behavior to infer his beliefs.

    Certainly there are some non-believers sitting every Sunday in pews, but not all of them are fakers.

    How do you know that?

  • If there are behaviours that christians will not perform in front of human beings out of a sense of fear or shame or something else, but they will perform in front of “god”, they must consider god to be less “real” than the humans they interact with.

    Not really. Perhaps it has to do with humanity’s capacity for forgiveness vs God’s capacity for forgiveness.

    Your conclusion relies on some pretty shaky assumptions that are almost impossible to justify.

    For example – growing up in a Christian home I knew that my parents would, if I were caught doing something sinful, punish me, and think of me differently from that point forward. Even if they said they had forgiven me – those indiscretions would not be forgotten. That’s how human brains work, and how we deal with hurts.

    And yet, Psalm 103 says that when God forgives sins:

    “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

    There’s a difference between how God treats sin and how humans do. So it’s likely there’ll be a difference between how we try to cover up our actions with people, and how we try to cover up our actions with God (the futility of which is demonstrated in the very early chapters of Genesis where Adam and Eve try to hide their sin from God – the idea you can’t do that is a pretty core idea in believing in an omnipresent deity).

    Your positions are shoddy and the result of arguing with caricatures, dare I say straw men, that you have created in your own minds for your own amusement. The fact that Christians sin says nothing about their belief in God – the fact that Christians sin knowing that God sees them says everything about their trust in Jesus.

    It is apparent by their actions and words that at least these Christians are only afraid to commit sins against God, not against humans. Welcome to the bible belt, where it seems you can be a complete biggot, hateful prick and still have your ticket to heaven, secured by your belief in Jesus.

    Not knowing these individuals, and not wishing to judge them in anyway – but it may be that they’ll be in a pretty difficult situation should it turn out that God exists… because that sort of hypocrisy (sinning against people) is exactly what Jesus is warning about in Matthew 25.

  • Roy,

    ” Extremely strong social norms dictate what he can tell you, and therefore it’s pretty much guaranteed to be misleading. “

    How do you know that?

  • Richard Wade

    Roy Sablosky, you said:

    Unfortunately this doesn’t work, because religious teachings tell the “believer” precisely how to answer such questions. The game is rigged. A religious “believer” is exactly the wrong person to ask about what he really believes. Extremely strong social norms dictate what he can tell you, and therefore it’s pretty much guaranteed to be misleading. We have to fall back on observing his behavior to infer his beliefs.

    What behaviors would you attribute to verifying disbelief and what behaviors would you attribute to verifying belief? Or would you even look for behaviors that might verify sincere belief? Would you only look for outrageous acts of headline-grabbing hypocrisy? I don’t think that the daily “sins” that Hemant is referring to are “Freudian slips” which are supposed to be somehow more indicative of the truth than someone’s self-report. And why would your interpretation of observed behavior be more valid than anyone else’s?

    You asked,

    Certainly there are some non-believers sitting every Sunday in pews, but not all of them are fakers.

    How do you know that?

    I know that some pew-sitters are non-believers because they tell me so. Are you going to dismiss their self-report as just as false and pre-packaged as those who say they believe?

    Then there’s those pew-sitters whom I say are not fakers. If you’re going to say that no one’s self-report of belief is reliable, and we must observe behaviors, then what about the behavior of sitting in the pew, or a dozen other pious behaviors? Who are you to say that isn’t a valid interpretation?

    Again, you seem to be only allowing for observed behaviors what would (to you) suggest insincerity or hypocrisy, but ignoring behaviors that would indicate genuine belief.

    This whole notion of “mind reading” people is arrogant and foolish. Declaring, as if an authority some behaviors to be significant, which indicate the “real deal” going on inside people, and dismissing other behaviors as insignificant seems to me to be the same kind of “game rigging” about which you are complaining.

    Careful, someone might call that an “observable behavior” indicating hypocrisy.

    I am dismayed by the too-common attitude that every single act of a Christian shows nothing but falsehood, but the very same acts of atheists mean nothing at all. That’s just common bigotry.

    I’ll say it again: We should stop telling each other the others’ thoughts. We should ask. When somebody tells me he’s a Christian, I have no reason to wonder “Maybe he’s lying.” When somebody tells me he’s an atheist, I have no reason to wonder “Maybe he’s lying.”

    Let’s stay inside our own heads, and stop pretending that we’re psychics.

  • Christophe Thill

    If believers really, really believed in what they profess:

    – They wouldn’t be in deep grief when a loved one dies. They’d just be a little sad, like when someone goes abroad and won’t come home for many years.

    – They wouldn’t look left and right before crossing the street. They’d just trust that their god is watching over them.

    – They would never have their car, fridge or computer repaired. They’d just pray.

  • Well Christophe,

    Let me tell you – I’m a believer, and I really believe what I profess. It seems what I profess is nothing like the gospel you’ve been taught Christians profess…

    Which is, in a nutshell, so that we’re on the same page: God created the world, we stuffed it, we’re screwed (because we can’t help but sin and God hates sin and punishes sinners), but if we put our faith in God, revealed in Jesus (as we read about him in the Bible), then our sins can be forgiven. How we live our lives then should be in response to that forgiveness. Gratitude, and hopefully lives that are appealing to people who don’t believe.

    So, your three points:

    a) It would have to be a Christian loved one – but what you’ve put forward is true when compared to the death of a non-Christian loved one. I’ve been to a few funerals, mostly for Christians, some not – and the hope expressed at the Christian ones, and the vibe in the room, was far more positive than at either wishy-washy agnostic ones, or the downright atheist ones…

    b) That’s just stupid fatalism. Can you show me where that’s advocated in the Bible? We’re told “not to worry” – but not worrying is not the same as foolish recklessness.

    c) I’m a little puzzled. Have you read the Bible at all. Fridges and computers weren’t around a couple of thousands of years ago – but things broke. And the stories of their repair (say Jerusalem in Ezra and Nehemiah – involve painstaking labour from trained labourers). This idea is just bizarre and has no bearing in reality at all.

    How dumb do you think us believers are? You guys keep strawmanning Christians. It’s great for your cause.

  • anyone else think the guy in the pic looks like BJ Novak?

    anyways, I don’t think you can paint all sinning religious people with such a broad brush. They all have their reasons, and sure, some of them may sin because deep down they know their theology is a lie, but that is simply just not true of all religious sinners.

  • Just to respond to the “why would you do in front of Jesus what you wouldn’t do in front of your mom” notes above — it’s a basic psychological truth that the certainty of punishment for noncompliance has a strong relationship to the likelihood of compliance with any rule. I live this reality day-to-day with my 2-year-old. The likelihood that he’ll take his medicine when I ask is directly related to his perception of whether I’ll really deny him his few minutes of TV. Same principle – if my mom was standing there when my GF and I got busy, I’d definitely feel the wrath. If no one but Jesus was watching, I might sincerely believe that a punishment would be meted out, but it was a distant, deferred punishment. Psychologically, it just doesn’t pack the same deterrent punch. I’d feel bad afterward, but knowing that I’d feel bad wasn’t enough to overcome normal human impulses.

    I have to agree somewhat with one of the Christian commenters here — in all but a few very extreme sects, the idea that Christians would just pray everything away is ridiculous. Let’s not traffic in absurd, ill-informed stereotypes when plenty of the real substance of religion is well worth criticism.

  • Silent Service

    I, for one, do keep packets of salt at the ready for any emergency. You just never know.

  • Chantay

    If people actually, sincerely believed in God — if they feared him and wanted to be near him in the afterlife — they would act like little angels all the time. They don’t. And that should tell us something.

    “Sins” aren’t momentary lapses. They’re like Freudian slips, showing the world how you really feel, giving away the fact that deep down you don’t really buy into all the theological garbage they teach in church

    This just brings up the question why are Christians striving to be Jesus perfect. Your everyday Christian will be the first to defend any sin they commit by stating they are human like everyone else. So why do you strive to be like a man who if the bible was true, anything but human. You will never measure up to that standard of perfection, so why spend your life apologizing for it.

  • Brian Macker

    “If people actually, sincerely believed in God — if they feared him and wanted to be near him in the afterlife — they would act like little angels all the time. They don’t. And that should tell us something.”

    Nah. I don’t buy that. There are plenty of people who want to be great singers and just suck at it. They even believe they are great singers and suck. Just watch American Idol. Why can’t you really believe in a morality and really suck at behaving the way you believe.

    This should be especially so when you are actually a human and you are expected to behave like a guy who can walk on water.

  • Robert W.

    Chantay,

    This just brings up the question why are Christians striving to be Jesus perfect. Your everyday Christian will be the first to defend any sin they commit by stating they are human like everyone else. So why do you strive to be like a man who if the bible was true, anything but human. You will never measure up to that standard of perfection, so why spend your life apologizing for it.

    As Christians we understand our fallen nature and the fact that we fall short of the glory of God. Understanding that we acknowledge that but for the grace of Jesus Christ we would never be able to have salvation. However, believing that we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t end our responsibility. Once we are saved we are called to live our faith and that means to become more like Christ. Striving to but never being able to meet this standard makes us all the more grateful for the grace that has been given to us.

  • AxeGrrl

    Robert W. wrote:

    As Christians we understand our fallen nature and the fact that we fall short of the glory of God. Understanding that we acknowledge that but for the grace of Jesus Christ we would never be able to have salvation.

    But according to Christian belief,’God’ created this entire game and created human beings and human nature ~ and ‘knew’ what human beings would do……

    Given that, your comment above makes me think of, say, a corporation that produces a food product that causes upset stomach and also offers a product that cures upset stomach.

    The essential question being: why would anyone create something they knew would be ‘faulty’ in the first place, unless the entire strategy was to sell the ‘fix’ for it as well?

    I’ve never understood what some people find so ‘inspiring’ about this scenario.

  • ACN

    Agreed.

  • In pondering “I’ve never understood what some people find so ‘inspiring’ about this scenario.”

    Apparently it is inspiring to get offered what is behind curtain #1 and avoid what is behind curtain #2 when you are convinced that you really deserve curtain #2 and you also believe that curtain #1 is a more valued prize than curtain #2. The curious thing is that no-one has ever seen what is behind curtain #1 or curtain #2 or if there is even anything beyond any curtains at all. The whole notion of curtains is all speculation and wishful thinking by both the people who wrote scripture as well as by the people who read and believe in scripture. Since there is no evidence for what is behind said curtains, curtain #1 and curtain #2 could be the reverse of what most people believe they are. The best we can do is to admit ignorance about if there is anything behind curtains or what is behind the curtains. You have to assume a whole lot of stuff to be inspired about the notion of curtains.

  • Robert W.

    Axe Girl,

    You have left out concept of free will in your equation. God created us with free will to choose Him or not. Without free will we would be robots, forced to love Him. With free will our love is genuine and real.

    God knew some of use would make the wrong choice, but he did it anyway and took that risk.

    So to use your analogy, the company didn’t make the item that would make you sick, but the company warned you not to take it and knowing that some of you would, made a remedy to cure the effects.

  • DA

    “You have left out concept of free will in your equation. God created us with free will to choose Him or not. Without free will we would be robots, forced to love Him.”

    So, just to be clear; all the Christian proponents on predestination, from Anselm and Augustine, to Luther and Calvin, to the Puritans, to today’s Calvinist churches; they’re all WRONG, right? You are stating in no uncertain terms that their take on Christianity was mistaken? I’m fine either way, just wondering which Christianity is the REAL Christianity. I mean, you brush aside reference to Catholic history with “I’m a Protestant” and then take a view that’s historically more consistent with Catholic views than Protestant ones. Or do you just pick and choose what you like or can use to win arguments?

  • Robert W.

    DA,

    To the extent that those that preach predesinatation to the extent that it completely ignores our free choice then yes I think they are mistaken. But in reality these two doctrines can and have been reconciled to a large degree except for those on the extreme positions.

    Frankly I don’t understand your reference to the Catholic church. Maybe you could clarify.

  • DA

    “To the extent that those that preach predesinatation to the extent that it completely ignores our free choice then yes I think they are mistaken.”

    Okay, good to hear it. You simply seem to have a penchant for putting your own views ahead of the intellectual lights of Christianity and I’m wondering why I should believe your version of Christianity over theirs, especially as you’re part of their intellectual lineage.

    “But in reality these two doctrines can and have been reconciled to a large degree except for those on the extreme positions.”

    Uh, how can the two propositions be reconciled? They’re mutually exclusive, “extreme” or not.

    “Frankly I don’t understand your reference to the Catholic church. Maybe you could clarify”

    Elsewhere I brought up Catholic teachings and you said they’ve nothing to do with you as a Protestant.

  • Robert W.

    DA,

    There have been alot of people smarter then me who have reconciled the extreme positions of predestination and free will. I believe that it has something to do with God knowing what will happen but not interfering so that the choice is still our free will. I know that is not a great explanation but its late here.

    Thank you for the clarification on your
    catholic comment.

  • Perhaps if we look at the free will issue from another perspective.

    1) Does god have free will? (I’m thinking most christians would say “yes”-I know it is the catholic position)

    2) Is god capable of sinning? (again the catholic position says “no” and I’m thinking most christians would go along with that-given that a god capable of sinning no longer has a wil that is all good)

    3) Does god love? (catholics-“yes” and I think most others would agree as well, given the nt says “god is love”)

    So if god can have free will and be incapable of sin, and god is omnipotent and loving, then he could have created beings who have free will, are incapable of sin and who are able to love, who would truly be in his image. In fact he would have an obligation to do so.

    The idea of his choosing not to do so puts us in a position of denying god one of the four attributes mentioned above (free will, incapable of sin, omnipotence or being love)leading to a god radically different from the one christians claim to serve or accepting that the whole theological exercise of “the attributes of god” is a human-created house of cards built from a mix of greek philosophy, hebrew mythology and roman rhetoric that can’t quite synthesize enough to cover the contradiction between the textual sources and the philosophical concepts.

  • AxeGrrl

    Richard W wrote:

    So to use your analogy, the company didn’t make the item that would make you sick, but the company warned you not to take it and knowing that some of you would, made a remedy to cure the effects.

    What’s the rationale behind putting children in a room with candy you don’t want them to eat, when you know they’ll desire it?

    Why bring the candy into the house to begin with?

    And why create a game in which the only means of achieving ‘salvation’ is through a blood sacrifice? what on earth does that have to do with free will?

  • DA

    Robert
    I’m sorry, but saying you can reconcile two contradictory positions rarely leads to anything but sophistry and wordplay. If Person A says there’s no god, person B says that there are many Gods, I say that there’s one God, I didn’t reconcile the positions, I staked out a third one that excludes the other two. Same here.

  • I think you’ll find that most of the people referred to above, Calvin et al, had some place for free will in their pictures of predestination and to suggest that they are binarily opposed positions, and thus contradictory does no service to their scholarship. Any suggestion of predestination needs to take into account our experience which suggests that we do have free will, otherwise there’d be no need for an atheist blog because we’d all be pre-programmed to believe one way or another.

    I wonder what the point of being God is, and creating people for the purpose of relationship when you then force those people to relate to you.

    Also, re the question “why live like Jesus if you’re going to be forgiven anyway”…

    Hypocrisy is a terrible witness to one’s beliefs, and living like Jesus is the best possible witness for our beliefs. Christianity wouldn’t have any image problems if Christians genuinely lived like Jesus. For methat decision is about pleasing God and living a winsome life in the hope that others will avoid hell.