Japan and Natural Evil




Comments

  1. Chee says on Mar 13, 2011 @ 09:50 PM:

    Venus is uninhabitable because its atmosphere is very toxic to life. It has nothing to do with its lack of plate tectonics. But other than that, Craig's talk is sensitive and incisive.

  2. Byrom says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 12:02 AM:

    Chee,

    it would still suck if Venus had everything else we needed except tectonics!

  3. Chee says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 01:22 AM:

    Hey are you the great Peter Byrom? If so, it's an honor sir.

  4. Thomas says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 03:03 AM:

    There is an interesting discusion on plate tectonics in the book The Privileged Planet.

  5. Lucas says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 04:12 AM:

    i respect Dr Craig's interpretation of God's providence from natural events. I guess, one problem (and I say this from a compassion perspective, not purely intellectual) is that it seems to render God indifferent to people's suffering. In fact, you have God providentially arranging suffering it seems. I think that's a view that could cause persons to not seek the kingdom.
    I find Greg Boyd's spiritual warfare view of the world and natural disasters more helpful. That's not to say that it's more likely to be true but I think to say evil and suffering are not, in any way, part of God's plans for the world helps people to know God cares about them and is grieved when they suffer like the Bible describes.

  6. Steve Dawe says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 06:42 AM:

    Shame God didn't design plate tectonics so they gave a days warning, people would have been able to move away from dangerous areas and the coast before an earthquake and tsunami struck and it would have made great evidence for a merciful God, I think. Bet he's kicking himself he forgot to include that one.

    Also, I'm sure that it's Mars that is now volcanically inactive due to the fact that it has lost its internal heat as it's much smaller than Earth/Venus. Venus is thought to be the result of over vulcanisation, which there is evidence it is still going on today, leading to a runaway global warming making the surface hot enough to boil lead.

    See what you can find out if you're prepared to listen to scientists rather than cheery pick their results and debate them?

  7. Spencer says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 08:23 AM:

    Let's suppose with Craig that the disaster in Japan ultimately serves some good ends, and those ends are such that they justified God in permitting the disaster.

    Why, then, should we not rejoice in what happened? We may find regrettable the suffering and the lives lost, but given the good ends that will be accomplished through this disaster, we have good reason to be joyful. Why shouldn't this be the right attitude to take with respect to the disaster?

  8. Ian says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 09:36 AM:

    “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”

    -C.S Lewis

  9. Spencer says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 06:32 PM:

    Another thought: could any Christian, following Craig's view, ever coherently prefer that disasters never happen? For instance, could she wish that earthquakes and their devastating consequences never take place? There is reason to doubt this.

    On Craig's view, whenever natural disasters occur, God is justified in permitting them to occur. God's failure to intervene is fully justified because they ultimately serve some good end -- an end that could not otherwise be realized without the disaster. Hence, the Christian can be confident that the next natural disaster will serve some good end, and when it occurs, it is better that it occur than not. It is better because, without it, the justifying good end could not be achieved.

    The Christian (following Craig) must also believe that when the next disaster occurs, God would prefer the occurrence of the disaster to its non-occurrence. God would prefer its occurrence over its non-occurrence because he wants to achieve the good end. From this, several things seem to follow:

    1) When the next disaster occurs, the Christian could not rationally prefer its non-occurrence, for to prefer its non-occurrence would be to prefer the exact opposite of what God prefers (it is more rational to agree with God than to disagree with him).

    2) The Christian could not rationally hope that some future disaster will not occur. The Christian could not rationally: (i) hope that there won't be some future disaster that would serve no good end, or (ii) hope that there won't be some future disaster that God would be justified in permitting. Against (i), the Christian would know that a future disaster that serves no good end is an impossibility - and there is no rational reason to hope that an impossibility won't happen. Against (ii), for the Christian, it is not rational to prefer what God doesn't prefer. God would not prefer that non-occurrence of some future disaster that he would be justified in permitting.

  10. Lucas says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 07:31 PM:

    It all depends, Spencer, on whether you view the future as exhaustively settled or partly open. If possibilities are ontologically real, then there's no coherent sense by which a natural disaster would definitely lead to more persons freely becoming saved and God would know that.

    I'm really not sure also that a world suffused with disaster-related suffering would necessarily lead to more persons coming to know and love God. I think that's pure speculation.
    As Boyd points out, Christ bears the "exact imprint" (Heb 1:3) of God. And when you think about all the leppars and blind men that Jesus encountered, he never did (as far as I can remember) point to the hand of God in their suffering. He treated them as casualties of war.

  11. Spencer says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 07:56 PM:

    Lucas,

    If some future natural disaster would not lead to the salvation of more persons, then it follows from Craig's view that that future disaster won't happen. Natural disasters can only occur in the Christian universe if God is justified in permitting them. On Craig's view, all future disasters will lead to more persons freely becoming saved.

    It would seem to follow that, knowing this, we can't ever rationally hope that some future disaster won't happen.

  12. dullhammer says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 08:47 PM:

    There may not be a day's warning for earthquakes yet, but earthquakes themselves and other disasters do serve to remind human beings of the true nature of our present lives-- no earthly foundation is sufficient for building one's entire life.

    We must build our lives upon the Rock of Jesus Christ. Then if a disaster does strike it can indeed serve an ultimately good purpose. If we do not heed this 2,000+ year old warning, then even a seemingly peaceful life can prove to be a disaster falling far short of what is good.

  13. dullhammer says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 10:27 PM:

    "Why, then, should we not rejoice in what happened? We may find regrettable the suffering and the lives lost, but given the good ends that will be accomplished through this disaster, we have good reason to be joyful. Why shouldn't this be the right attitude to take with respect to the disaster?"
    ------------------------

    Ummm, because, in spite of a facetious claim to the contrary, there is no good reason to do so and every good reason to NOT do so. This is demonstrated by evils which we CAN see as being used for bringing forth good. One can hate rape and still love the baby born from it. One can oppose Down Syndrome and be inspired by the Special Olympics. But to rejoice in the evil itself is to embrace it and so sever oneself from any resulting good in the end. Instead there is only a righteous judgment which makes a 9.0 earthquake look like a caution light.

  14. Spencer says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 10:38 PM:

    Dullhammer,

    What about rejoicing in the fact that the evil was necessary to bring about some sufficiently good end? On Craig's view, the earthquake disaster (and the immense sufferings that follow) was necessary to bring about some good end. Hence, there is reason to be joyful that the evil occurred (because with it, some good end will come about), and it was better that the evil occurred than not.

  15. Spencer says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 10:47 PM:

    Also: why shouldn't one rejoice in the fact that God permitted the disaster to occur?

  16. Thomas says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 11:12 PM:

    Something for atheists to think about. What words of comfort do you offer to those who have lost loved ones. Atheism offers no answer to the problem of evil and suffering. As soon as they reference evil they are steping outside their own worldview. On an atheistic view the only response atheism can offer is "these things happen".

  17. Spencer says on Mar 14, 2011 @ 11:21 PM:

    Thomas,

    "Atheism offers no answer to the problem of evil and suffering. "

    There is no "problem of evil and suffering" on atheism. The "problem of evil" refers to problem of how God can exist in a world full of suffering and evil. On atheism, there is no such problem because there is no God.

    You confuse the "problem of evil and suffering" with the problem of how to deal with the evil and suffering in the world.

    "What words of comfort do you offer to those who have lost loved ones."

    What words of comfort do you offer to those who have lost non-believing loved ones? ("Sorry, but they're in hell now.")

  18. Thomas says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 12:13 AM:

    Spencer,

    Every worldview has to explain why there is such a thing as evil and suffering.

    Ravi Zacharias as often used this argument.
    To say that evil exists is to assume that good exists.
    To say that good and evil exists is to assume that there is some standard with which to tell the deference.
    To say that there is a standard to assume a standard bearer, which is God.
    If there is no God then there is no standard.
    If there is no standard there is no good.
    If there is no good there is no evil.

    As for a Christian answer to pain and suffering let me give it a try. Every person is created in the image of God. Because every person is created in the image of God every person has inherent value. Something went wrong though. Humanity has become more and more rebellions against God. This rebellion has brought about pain and suffering of all kinds. God has promised to return and set things straight and end suffering.

    On the Atheistic view all of this is meaningless. People will die. It means nothing. Richard Dawkins said, “The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Fredric Nietzsche said, “Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of "world history," but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.” Kia Neilson said, “We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view, or that all really rational persons should not be individual egoists or classical amoralists. Reason doesn’t decide here. The picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me… Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.
    This is where atheism inevitably leads. An atheist can lead a meaningful life, but he cannot tell you why it is meaningful

  19. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 01:05 AM:

    Thomas,

    "Ravi Zacharias as often used this argument."

    The argument strikes me as a terrible argument.

    "To say that evil exists is to assume that good exists."

    Why? I can readily imagine a world where there is nothing but endless and pointless suffering. In such a world, evil exists but good does not exist.

    "To say that there is a standard to assume a standard bearer, which is God."

    I don't see why anyone would need to make that assumption.

    "As for a Christian answer to pain and suffering let me give it a try. Every person is created in the image of God. Because every person is created in the image of God every person has inherent value. Something went wrong though. Humanity has become more and more rebellions against God. This rebellion has brought about pain and suffering of all kinds. God has promised to return and set things straight and end suffering. "

    1) According to the Bible, Adam and Eve rebelled - not "humanity." It appears that humanity is paying the price Adam and Eve's rebellion.

    2) Why didn't God promise to "set things straight and end suffering" sooner? What prevented him from doing so?

    3) None of this gives an answer to the question I posed: What words of comfort do you offer those who have lost their non-believing loved ones? I'm referring to the ones who will spend eternity in hell.

    "On the Atheistic view all of this is meaningless. People will die. It means nothing."

    I don't understand your claim. Are you claiming that, if atheism were true, living a meaningful life isn't possible? This can't be true: many atheists live meaningful lives.

    "This is where atheism inevitably leads."

    On what basis are you claiming that atheism inevitably leads to nihilism? What's the argument here?

  20. Thomas says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 02:43 AM:

    Spencer,

    “I can readily imagine a world where there is nothing but endless and pointless suffering. In such a world, evil exists but good does not exist.”
    On what grounds are you calling it evil? In the very act of referencing the term evil you are referring some standard that includes good at the other end. If this is not so then the term it self has no meaning.
    “I don't see why anyone would need to make that assumption.”
    Why does this standard exist? Where did it come from?
    1) According to the Bible, Adam and Eve rebelled - not "humanity." It appears that humanity is paying the price Adam and Eve's rebellion.
    When Adam and Eve rebelled sin and evil entered the world. This affected nature as well as humanity. Every person has lived in rebellion against God. Read the Ten Commandments. I am not asking if you believe that they are true. I am asking if you have broken theme. Even once. Is there evil in your heart? This is the rebellion that I am speaking of. Kierkegaard said that to restrict original sin to Adam and Eve is to misunderstand the doctrine of original sin. Original sin has to do with the evil that is in your heart.
    2) Why didn't God promise to "set things straight and end suffering" sooner? What prevented him from doing so?
    God’s love prevents him from setting things straight. If God were to judge the world right now His justice would demand that he send guilty people to hell that would have repented given time. God loves those people to. Do you want God to set things straight? I have heard some of my friends say that they will not repent because they would have to change the way they live. I do not know how you live. Only you can answer this question.
    3) None of this gives an answer to the question I posed: What words of comfort do you offer those who have lost their non-believing loved ones? I'm referring to the ones who will spend eternity in hell.
    The life of that person who died has meaning. The love and pain that is felt is real. It has meaning. They had choices to make. There time is done and now they must face God. You still have time. You can still choose.

    “I don't understand your claim. Are you claiming that, if atheism were true, living a meaningful life isn't possible? This can't be true: many atheists live meaningful lives. On what basis are you claiming that atheism inevitably leads to nihilism? What's the argument here?”
    I am claiming that if atheism is true living a meaningful life is an illusion. This was Jean Paul Sartre’s position. He said, “Life has no meaning the moment you loose the illusion of being eternal.” He was an atheist. Richard Dawkins said, “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” If Richard Dawkins is right then the universe is indifferent, void of meaning. A meaningful life cannot be lived in a meaningless universe. He is an atheist. Fredrick Nietzsche said, “when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.” That is when humans go extinct it will mean nothing. If atheism is true we can create the illusion of meaning that can last only as long as people last. When people go extinct, when the universe collapses in on itself or dies a cold death of entropy (if atheism is true then one of these will happen) then all the accomplishments of humanity will mean nothing. Nietzsche was an atheist. Kia Neilson said, “Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.” He is an atheist. If atheism is true we can create the illusion of meaning, but that meaning dies with us. If atheism is true we can live good moral lives, but we cannot reasonably explain why we live this life instead of some other life. These are the conclusions of atheists.

  21. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 08:42 AM:

    Thomas,

    "On what grounds are you calling it evil? In the very act of referencing the term evil you are referring some standard that includes good at the other end. If this is not so then the term it self has no meaning."

    Imagine a world where sentient beings are continuously being burnt alive and there is no relief to this suffering. It would not be implausible to suggest that this world only contains evil. Your claim that the term "evil" would have no meaning is unsubstantiated.

    "Why does this standard exist? Where did it come from? "

    You're the one who offered the premise.

    "I am not asking if you believe that they are true. I am asking if you have broken theme. Even once. Is there evil in your heart? This is the rebellion that I am speaking of."

    Why does "evil in one heart" translate to "rebellion against God?"

    "God’s love prevents him from setting things straight. If God were to judge the world right now His justice would demand that he send guilty people to hell that would have repented given time."

    Why should his justice demand this?

    "
    The life of that person who died has meaning. The love and pain that is felt is real. It has meaning. They had choices to make. There time is done and now they must face God. You still have time. You can still choose. "

    This still dodges my question: What words of comfort do you offer those who have lost their non-believing loved ones? How could a mother possibly be comforted when she believes that her son is going to spend all eternity in hell?

    "I am claiming that if atheism is true living a meaningful life is an illusion. "

    Okay, and what's your argument? Stringing together quotes from atheists who seemingly agree with you is not an argument.

  22. hamlet says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 11:14 AM:

    Of course we wish that earthquakes never cause suffering. There may not have been suffering caused by earthquakes prior to sin. See Peter van Inwagen's book The Problem of Evil for interesting thoughts on this. Perhaps the suffering from these sorts of things are related to our freely separating ourselves from God. There are plenty of ways God could achieve union with his creatures without these sorts of sufferings, but given that sin entered the world and that God won't just annihilate the world, it may be that he wrests good from the evil in the world and that it contributes to his plan of redemption. It doesn't mean that God prefers evil to happen so that good may come of it. God is in the process of redeeming what is in many ways a ruined world. And, as Christians believe, He does this at great cost to Himself.

    Given the condition of the world, God may allow (and perhaps desire) bad things to happen in order that his plan of redemption be achieved. But there's a slight difference between the Creator and his creatures. We are not God. He doesn't say, Wish ill on your neighbors so that grace may abound. But we can know that if bad things happen to us, and if all things work together for the good of those who love God, then our sufferings will be salvific sufferings. They will not be meaningless. But even if God's conditional desire is for some bad things to happen for purposes of redemption, that doesn't mean that we should desire that bad things happen to people. That's called blasphemy. It would be putting ourselves in God's position.

  23. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 11:28 AM:

    Hamlet,

    It appears you're suggesting that God permits suffering because it "contributes to his plan of redemption." First, I would ask why God couldn't achieve his plan of redemption without permitting the numerous instances of suffering we witnessed in the past few days. Second, I believe you are suggesting that "God prefers evil to happen so that good may come of it." When evil occurs, God prefers its occurrence to its non-occurrence precisely because the former is necessary to lead to some good end.

    "Given the condition of the world, God may allow (and perhaps desire) bad things to happen in order that his plan of redemption be achieved."

    I see no difference between this statement and the statement that God "prefers evil to happen so that good may come of it."

    "that doesn't mean that we should desire that bad things happen to people."

    But it does mean that when bad things happen to people, we should desire that he happened. Consider the following argument:

    1) God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting the occurrence of some natural disaster (ND) (because it will ultimately lead to some sufficiently good end).

    2) Whenever some ND occurs, God prefers its occurrence to its non-occurrence.

    3) Whenever some ND occurs, and a person prefers its non-occurrence to its occurrence, that person's preference does not align with God's.

    4) It is irrational to prefer the non-occurrence of some ND when God has the exact opposite preference, and when one knows that God has the exact opposite preference.

    5) Hence, when some ND occurs, it is irrational -- and therefore inappropriate -- to prefer its non-occurrence, when God has the exact opposite preference, and when one knows that God has the exact opposite preference.

  24. dullhammer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 01:44 PM:

    Spencer said on Mar 14, 2011 @ 10:38 PM:
    "What about rejoicing in the fact that the evil was necessary to bring about some sufficiently good end?"
    --------

    What about it. The necessity makes no difference to what I said earlier. In fact, my example of a baby being born from a rape addresses the matter of necessity. That baby would not have been born were it not for the rape. But that necessity in no way necessitates that one rejoice in the rape itself. For even though the rape's existence is tied to the existence of a good, the rape remains evil and deserving of condemnation. Evil is not made good when it is employed for good, any more than a "useful idiot" is made smart when he is manipulated to a clever end by a smart politician.

  25. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 01:53 PM:

    dullhammer,

    Your example doesn't address my point because you are talking about an instance of moral evil. Here, I'm focusing on an instance of natural evil. Why shouldn't Christians rejoice in the fact that the disaster in Japan occurred? After all, God thought it was a good idea to let it happen, so why shouldn't we go out and praise God's decision?

    Suppose a Christian praises God for letting the disaster occur. Has this Christian done something wrong?

  26. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 03:07 PM:

    Here's an argument:

    1) God is perfect.
    2) Every one of God's decisions is worthy of praise.
    3) God has decided to permit the occurrence of immense suffering caused by natural disasters.
    4) Hence, God's decision to permit the occurrence of immense suffering caused by natural disasters is worthy of praise.
    5) It is good to praise God's decisions.
    6) Hence, it is good to praise God's decision to permit the occurrence of immense suffering caused by natural disasters.

  27. hamlet says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 04:09 PM:

    That's different than saying that God or his creatures prefer the evil.

  28. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 05:09 PM:

    Hamlet,

    I don't believe I've suggested that God prefers evil. When natural evils occur, God prefers their existence to their non-existence because they will contribute to come great good.

    My question for you is: do you think there's anything wrong with praising God for allowing immense suffering caused by natural disasters to occur? Why shouldn't Christians "thank God for 9/11?"

  29. dullhammer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 08:32 PM:

    "Your example doesn't address my point because you are talking about an instance of moral evil."
    --------------

    So what. My example, despite its being from moral evil, very much does address your point ("about rejoicing in the fact that the evil was necessary to bring about some sufficiently good end"). It's just on a smaller scale that's all. Here, I will spell it out for you and give you essentially the same example only this time in terms of natural evil.

    The example of the rape and resultant baby hinges not on there being an agent of culpability in the evil, but simply the existence of that evil, the existence of the good and the distinction between the two. The birth could also come from a man and a woman who meet each other as the result of an historically devastating earthquake. They marry and have a child (who, btw, goes on to develop an accurate warning system for future earthquakes). But it would be as wrong for them to praise the earthquake as it would be for anyone to condemn the child. They are distinct. One is good, one is evil and there is a clear distinction between the two. Evil is not made good simply for being employed for good. And neither is good made evil when it brings good out of that evil.

  30. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 08:39 PM:

    dullhammer,

    I didn't say we should praise the earthquake. I suggested that on Craig's view, we should praise God's decision to allow the earthquake to happen. What would be wrong with doing this?

  31. dullhammer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 09:19 PM:

    I am now using your own words instead of the quibbled phrase. And though I realize you desperately want to bring God and Craig into this in order to indict them, there is no real need to get into that. What I have written should stand as a sufficient answer to your conflation of good and evil.

    --------------
    "Your example doesn't address my point because you are talking about an instance of moral evil."
    --------------
    So what. My example, despite its being from moral evil, very much does address your point ("about rejoicing in the fact that the evil was necessary to bring about some sufficiently good end"). It's just on a smaller scale that's all. Here, I will spell it out for you and give you essentially the same example only this time in terms of natural evil.
    The example of the rape and resultant baby hinges not on there being an agent of culpability in the evil, but simply the existence of that evil, the existence of the good and the distinction between the two. The birth could also come from a man and a woman who meet each other as the result of an historically devastating earthquake. They marry and have a child (who, btw, goes on to develop an accurate warning system for future earthquakes). But it would be as wrong for them to go "rejoicing in the fact that the evil was necessary . . ." as it would be for anyone to condemn the child. They are distinct. One is good, one is evil and there is a clear distinction between the two. Evil is not made good simply for being employed for good. And neither is good made evil when it brings good out of that evil.

  32. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 09:25 PM:

    dullhammer,

    "But it would be as wrong for them to go "rejoicing in the fact that the evil was necessary . . ."

    But why would it be wrong for them to rejoice in the fact that the evil will help bring out God's good ends? ("Praise the earthquake and the immense suffering that results, because with them, God will bring about his good end?") How do you respond to the following:

    1) God is perfect.
    2) Every one of God's decisions is worthy of praise.
    3) God has decided to permit the occurrence of immense suffering caused by natural disasters.
    4) Hence, God's decision to permit the occurrence of immense suffering caused by natural disasters is worthy of praise.
    5) It is good to praise God's decisions.
    6) Hence, it is good to praise God's decision to permit the occurrence of immense suffering caused by natural disasters.

  33. dullhammer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 10:45 PM:

    I suppose it would have been helpful if you had actually engaged with what I said instead of extracting excuses to avoid it all.

    Let's see. First you say that it would be proper to rejoice in the fact that evil was necessary. When I dispute that and give you an example demonstrating that evil is not made good simply for being employed for good, you say I missed your point. When I then show you that I did not miss your point and give my same example, but in terms of natural evil, you move on to quibble over my use of the word "praise" and its being directed at the earthquake (which indeed is the intended implication of your point). When I substitute that phrase with your own words on the matter, you then ask me why your original position (represented by your own words this time) is wrong-- as if everything I had already said and defended was not even there to begin with! And you introduce all kinds of other nonsense as well.

    So, you have quibbled now in full circle. On a question that was facetious to begin with. I'm afraid you win. You are free to carry on without me. I have better things to do than help you chase your tail a second time, or even third, only to have you declare victory anyway on account of your many words (as you did so magnanimously with Thomas in just the previous thread).

  34. Spencer says on Mar 15, 2011 @ 10:54 PM:

    dullhammer,

    The problem with your response is that it did not address what I said, but merely beg the question. You said: "But it would be as wrong for them to go "rejoicing in the fact that the evil was necessary . . ."

    Asserting that it would be wrong isn't an argument - it's a mere assertion.

  35. Jason5332 says on Mar 16, 2011 @ 06:52 AM:

    There is a third option here: God can allow suffering but have not be his preference, but rather a necessity to create a greater good. For example, say a young child needs open heart surgery (as one in my church did a few years ago). Surgery is not fun for an adult, let alone a five-year-old. Anesthesia is not fun, nor getting poked with an IV, post-surgery sickness, no playing outside, etc. Does a parent want these things to occur if it could be prevented? Certainly. But the parent knows that this surgery in the long run will save the child's life, even if the parent wishes that the surgery could be avoided.

    God doesn't want evil or suffering to occur. However, it may be a necessary condition for some future good. To take the above analogy, the child is mankind. We may not know why we need to go through such pain, and the parent (God) doesn't want this to occur either, but knows in the long run it will produce great good. So God can allow something to happen, not because He enjoys it or wants it to occur, but because the future good outweighs the present suffering. To claim that no good can come of this is presumptous, but to minimize the horror of any evil is naive, and unbiblical.

  36. Daniel says on Mar 16, 2011 @ 12:47 PM:

    Spencer.
    In response to your latest argument [My comments are in square brackets]
    1) God is perfect.[True]
    2) Every one of God's decisions is worthy of praise.[True]
    3) God has decided to permit the occurrence of immense suffering caused by natural disasters.[True]
    4) Hence, God's decision to permit the occurrence of immense suffering caused by natural disasters is worthy of praise.[True]
    5) It is good to praise God's decisions.[True]
    [6) God's decisions are based on His desire to save all people, meaning they won't be eternally lost without Him.][True]
    7) Hence, it is good to praise God's decision to permit the occurrence of immense [temporal] suffering caused by natural disasters.
    [Although not immediately evident this occurence would lead to many people being saved. Also the temporal suffering we endure on earth, is
    nothing compared to the suffering of eternal seperation from God, if we choose to reject Him.
    If it requires a temporal disaster in your life to cause you to turn to God, and thus save you from eternal disaster. I would say the temporal disaster was well worth it, wouldn't you? And yes I would rejoice (obviously not while going through the painful experience) because I know that I am not alienated from God anymore. ][True]

  37. KStret says on Mar 16, 2011 @ 04:38 PM:

    The argument of evil and suffering seems to be prevalent here.The premise of that argument is because bad things happen, that means God doesn't exist. To put in another way, God should eliminate all bad things from happening.

    Think about that for a minute. What would the world look like if God did that? God would either have to destroy the human race or the human race would have to become God's robots. There could be no free will.

    The bible clearly says that man does have free will right from the beginning. Adam and Eve chose not to listen to him. In order to have free will, bad things have to happen.

    For natural disasters and things like that there are a few possibilities.
    1. It was God's will.
    2. It was simply a natural disaster.
    3. It was the work of evil.

  38. Spencer says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 08:23 AM:

    "To put in another way, God should eliminate all bad things from happening."

    Of course, this is a caricature of the argument from evil. Sophisticated forms of the argument do not argue that "God should eliminate all bad things from happening."

    "Think about that for a minute. What would the world look like if God did that? God would either have to destroy the human race or the human race would have to become God's robots. There could be no free will."

    hmm...will bad things happen in heaven? Isn't heaven a place where people experience only joy and happiness? Do you believe the human race will become robots in heaven?

    "In order to have free will, bad things have to happen."

    Then it follows from your statement that humans won't have free will in heaven.

    1) If free will exists, bad things happen.
    2) In heaven, bad things don't happen.
    3) Therefore, free will doesn't exist in heaven.

  39. Spencer says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 12:25 PM:

    Jason5332,


    "God can allow suffering but have not be his preference, but rather a necessity to create a greater good."

    If God permits suffering, then he prefers its occurrence to its non-occurrence. Why shouldn't we praise God's decision to permit the suffering of the earthquake victims? What would be wrong with this?

  40. Jason5332 says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 02:48 PM:

    I don't think you understand my post, and the the quote you highlighted of mine is the answer to your question. Preference is different than necessity, like want versus need. I want a million dollars, but I don't need it. I prefer to have a million dollars, but all that is necessary is money to pay my bills and monthy living expenses. God doesn't want any suffering to occur, but sometimes it is the only way to get our attention or to create a greater good, often beyond human understanding (see Paul, Jesus, the martyred apostles, etc.)


    The Bible does call us to praise God's name in all circumstances because at the end of history, all tears will be dried, all pain taken away. Does that mean we should be happy that suffering should happen right now? Of course not! God grieves with those who mourn and are suffering. But we as finite beings we just do not have the means to determine why something happens. And it would be ludicrous to say to someone "praise God that your family died." Do you really think that we should praise God for the misfortune of others? When the Bible talks about praising in God in all circumstances, the focus is on us, not others. Our suffering creates character for ourself and is between the person and God and does not the actions/suffering/opinion of others. The Bible is quite clear to weep with those who weep. I hope this answers your question :)

    Jason5332

  41. Thomas says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 02:49 PM:

    Spencer,

    Imagine a world where sentient beings are continuously being burnt alive and there is no relief to this suffering. It would not be implausible to suggest that this world only contains evil. Your claim that the term "evil" would have no meaning is unsubstantiated.
    How do you know that this is evil? What is your point of reference?

    You're the one who offered the premise.
    Are you challenging the idea that there is some way to tell the difference between good and evil?

    Why does "evil in one heart" translate to "rebellion against God?"
    Evil in ones heart leads to rebellion against God. Read Romans 1.

    Why should his justice demand this?
    The very nature of justice demands that evil be punished.

    This still dodges my question: What words of comfort do you offer those who have lost their non-believing loved ones? How could a mother possibly be comforted when she believes that her son is going to spend all eternity in hell?
    You have my answer. What is your answer?

    Okay, and what's your argument? Stringing together quotes from atheists who seemingly agree with you is not an argument.
    The argument is in the quotes. Are you unable to extract them?

  42. KStret says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 03:23 PM:

    Spencer,
    "Of course, this is a caricature of the argument from evil. Sophisticated forms of the argument do not argue that "God should eliminate all bad things from happening."

    The premise of the entire argument is to assume that if God exists bad things should not happen.

    Another problem with the argument is that it assumes that God and evil is self contradicting to God's existence. That isn't true. There is nothing self contradictory with God and evil existing simultaneously.

    Another variation of the argument that atheists use is to present a false "either or" choice. Is God all powerful but doesn't care or is he not all powerful?

    The flaw of the argument is you can not have free will and it presents a false either or choice. Once you present a third option, the argument goes into the toilet.

    "hmm...will bad things happen in heaven? Isn't heaven a place where people experience only joy and happiness? Do you believe the human race will become robots in heaven?"

    Being a logician and a atheist(which means you are automatically smart), it doesn't appear that you have brushed up on your theology.

    Satan was an angle in heaven and decided that he wanted to be God and attempted to over throw God. It would appear that there is free will in heaven. I would also say Satan getting a group of angles together to over throw God, wasn't a good thing either.

    You argument is also a bit of a strawman argument. The argument that atheist use, has to do with earth not heaven. If heaven is a paradise, you have to follow the rules to get in and to stay there. It wouldn't matter if there was no free will.

    Heaven is not the same thing as earth. Even if your premise is granted, it still has nothing to do with free will on the earth and the atheist cliche argument from evil or human suffering is still flawed.

  43. KStret says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 03:26 PM:

    Angle should read angel...I have Gorilla hands and can't type on top of that.

  44. Spencer says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 04:12 PM:

    Jason,

    "I don't think you understand my post, and the the quote you highlighted of mine is the answer to your question."

    You have not shown that God does not prefer the occurrence of suffering to its non-occurrence. We need to distinguish two different kinds of preferences: (i) preferring the occurrence of suffering because suffering is inherently desirable, and (ii) preferring the occurrence of suffering because, without the suffering, some great end can't be achieved.

    For instance, I don't want anyone to chop off my arm, but if the choice is between that and my life, I would prefer that it be done than not. Apparently, God's choice according to Craig is between 1) not permitting immense suffering and not achieving some great end, and 2) permitting immense suffering and achieving that great end. God prefers 2) over 1).

    "Does that mean we should be happy that suffering should happen right now? Of course not!"

    Praise God for the immense suffering because it will help achieve God's Divine Plan! What's wrong about this?

    "But we as finite beings we just do not have the means to determine why something happens. And it would be ludicrous to say to someone "praise God that your family died." Do you really think that we should praise God for the misfortune of others? "

    According to Craig, we know the general reason why God permitted the suffering in Japan: because it will help bring the maximum number of souls to God (how this is supposed to happen is, of course, utterly mysterious, but that's another matter). So why shouldn't we say to the family, "Praise God that your family died. Because God allowed them to die, more souls will surely come to know Christ."

    But even if we shouldn't say this to the family, why shouldn't Christians say this is private during prayer?

  45. Spencer says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 04:42 PM:

    Thomas,

    "How do you know that this is evil? What is your point of reference?"

    What point of reference do I need in order to know that pointless endless suffering is bad?

    "Are you challenging the idea that there is some way to tell the difference between good and evil?"

    Like I said, you offered the premise: "To say that there is a standard to assume a standard bearer, which is God." Why on earth am I rationally obligated to accept this premise without argument?

    "The very nature of justice demands that evil be punished."

    According to one conception of justice. But your statement doesn't explain why "sending guilty people to hell" is required by justice. Even if justice "demands that evil be punished," that doesn't mean it would be just to inflict punishment that is wildly disproportionate to the evil committed. Not all guilty people are equally guilty, but according to Christianity, they will all spend an eternity in hell.

    "You have my answer. What is your answer?"

    I would not have great words of comfort to offer. But whatever I say, surely it would be better than telling a grieving mother that her son will be screaming in hell for all eternity.

    "The argument is in the quotes. Are you unable to extract them?"

    You quoted a bunch of mere assertions for the proposition that life is meaningless.

  46. Spencer says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 04:54 PM:

    Kstret,

    "The premise of the entire argument is to assume that if God exists bad things should not happen."

    And once again, this is a strawman. Show me an argument from evil (from a respected philosopher) that has this premise.

    "Another problem with the argument is that it assumes that God and evil is self contradicting to God's existence. That isn't true. There is nothing self contradictory with God and evil existing simultaneously. "

    It is a contradiction for both God and gratuitous[/i evil to exist -- even Craig agrees with this.

    "Being a logician and a atheist(which means you are automatically smart), it doesn't appear that you have brushed up on your theology.

    Satan was an angle in heaven and decided that he wanted to be God and attempted to over throw God. It would appear that there is free will in heaven. I would also say Satan getting a group of angles together to over throw God, wasn't a good thing either."

    Kstret, isn't it part of Christian theology that after final judgment, believers will experience God for all eternity and there will be no longer any suffering? Isn't this what you believe? If so, my argument still goes through:

    1) If free will exists, bad things happen. (your premise)
    2) There will come a day when bad things will no longer happen. (Christian theology)
    3) Therefore, when that day comes, free will will no longer exist.

    "If heaven is a paradise, you have to follow the rules to get in and to stay there. It wouldn't matter if there was no free will. "

    Christians believe they will still retain free will at paradise. If this is true, and if paradise is a place where bad things don't happen, then it follows that your premise--if free will exists, bad things happen--is false.

  47. Thomas says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 04:58 PM:

    What point of reference do I need in order to know that pointless endless suffering is bad?
    You need a reference point outside of what is bad.
    .
    not good in any manner or degree.
    2.
    having a wicked or evil character; morally reprehensible: There is no such thing as a bad boy.
    3.
    of poor or inferior quality; defective; deficient: a bad diamond; a bad spark plug.
    4.
    inadequate or below standard; not satisfactory for use: bad heating; Living conditions in some areas are very bad.
    5.
    inaccurate, incorrect, or faulty: a bad guess.
    6.
    invalid, unsound, or false: a bad insurance claim; bad judgment.
    7.
    causing or liable to cause sickness or ill health; injurious or harmful: Too much sugar is bad for your teeth.
    8.
    suffering from sickness, ill health, pain, or injury; sick; ill: He felt bad from eating the green apples.
    9.
    not healthy or in good physical condition; diseased, decayed, or physically weakened: A bad heart kept him out of the army.
    10.
    tainted, spoiled, or rotten, especially to the point of being inedible: The meat is bad because you left it out of the refrigerator too long.
    11.
    having a disastrous or detrimental effect, result, or tendency; unfavorable: The drought is bad for the farmers. His sloppy appearance made a bad impression.
    12.
    causing or characterized by discomfort, inconvenience, uneasiness, or annoyance; disagreeable; unpleasant: I had a bad flight to Chicago.
    13.
    easily provoked to anger; irascible: a bad temper.
    14.
    cross, irritable, or surly: If I don't have my morning coffee, I'm in a bad mood all day.
    15.
    more uncomfortable, persistent, painful, or dangerous than usual; severe: a bad attack of asthma.
    16.
    causing or resulting in disaster or severe damage or destruction: a bad flood.
    17.
    regretful, contrite, dejected, or upset: He felt bad about having to leave the children all alone.
    18.
    disobedient, naughty, or misbehaving: If you're bad at school, you'll go to bed without supper.
    19.
    disreputable or dishonorable: He's getting a bad name from changing Jobs so often.
    20.
    displaying a lack of skill, talent, proficiency, or judgment: a bad painting; Bad drivers cause most of the accidents.
    21.
    causing distress; unfortunate or unfavorable: I'm afraid I have bad news for you.
    22.
    not suitable or appropriate; disadvantageous or dangerous: It was a bad day for fishing.
    23.
    inclement; considered too stormy, hot, cold, etc.: We had a bad winter with a lot of snow.
    24.
    disagreeable or offensive to the senses: a bad odor.
    25.
    exhibiting a lack of artistic sensitivity: The room was decorated in bad taste.
    26.
    not in keeping with a standard of behavior or conduct; coarse: bad manners.
    27.
    (of a word, speech, or writing)
    a.
    vulgar, obscene, or blasphemous: bad language.
    b.
    not properly observing rules or customs of grammar, usage, spelling, etc.; incorrect: He speaks bad English.
    28.
    unattractive, especially because of a lack of pleasing proportions: She has a bad figure.
    29.
    (of the complexion) marred by defects; pockmarked or pimply; blemished: bad skin.
    30.
    not profitable or worth the price paid: The land was a bad buy.
    31.
    Commerce . deemed uncollectible or irrecoverable and treated as a loss: a bad debt.
    32.
    ill-spent; wasted: Don't throw good money after bad money.
    33.
    counterfeit; not genuine: There was a bad ten-dollar bill in with the change.
    34.
    having the character of a villain; villainous: In the movies the good guys always beat the bad guys.
    35.
    Sports . failing to land within the in-bounds limits of a court or section of a court; missing the mark; not well aimed.
    36.
    Slang . outstandingly excellent; first-rate: He's a bad man on drums, and the fans love him.
    –noun
    37.
    that which is bad: You have to take the bad with the good.
    38.
    a bad condition, character, or quality: His health seemed to go from bad to worse.
    39.
    ( used with a plural verb ) evil persons collectively (usually preceded by the ): The bad are always stirring up trouble.
    All of these definitions require an external point of reference.

  48. KStret says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 05:18 PM:

    Spencer,
    "And once again, this is a strawman. Show me an argument from evil (from a respected philosopher) that has this premise.'

    If you think I am misrepresenting the argument, make the argument, and make the case for why the flaw in the argument is not free will. All you do is post a one or two sentence response and cry strawman.

    "It is a contradiction for both God and gratuitous[/i evil to exist -- even Craig agrees with this. "

    If you think is self contradictory, make the case for why you think that. I heard Dr Craig say that God and evil existing simultaneously is not contradictory and if an atheist believes that, he needs to make an argument for why.

    "Kstret, isn't it part of Christian theology that after final judgment, believers will experience God for all eternity and there will be no longer any suffering? Isn't this what you believe? If so, my argument still goes through:"

    You ignored my point. If that's true does it apply to the argument that God doesn't exist because bad things happen on earth? NO!

    "then it follows that your premise--if free will exists, bad things happen--is false."

    You accuse everyone of making strawman arguments who disagree with you and then you turn around and make them yourself.

    If we have free will on earth but we don't have free will in heaven, does that undercut my points for the argument on evil and human suffering? No, the argument apples to earth.

  49. Thomas says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 05:24 PM:

    Spencer,

    Are you challenging the idea that there is some way to tell the difference between good and evil?"
    Like I said, you offered the premise: "To say that there is a standard to assume a standard bearer, which is God." Why on earth am I rationally obligated to accept this premise without argument?
    Are you challenging the premise that there is a standard, or the premise that there is a standard bearer?

    According to one conception of justice. But your statement doesn't explain why "sending guilty people to hell" is required by justice. Even if justice "demands that evil be punished," that doesn't mean it would be just to inflict punishment that is wildly disproportionate to the evil committed. Not all guilty people are equally guilty, but according to Christianity, they will all spend an eternity in hell.
    Which conception of justice? Hell is a Biblical doctrine. To grant the claims of orthodox Christian theology is to grant punishment in hell. I know that you are not Christian, but what is you question here?

    You quoted a bunch of mere assertions for the proposition that life is meaningless.
    These are not exactly assertions.
    Jean Paul Sartre: “Life has no meaning the moment you loose the illusion of being eternal.”
    If the eternal does not exist, then life has no meaning.
    The eternal does not exist.
    Therefore, life has no meaning

    Richard Dawkins: “The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
    If the universe is made up of blind physical forces, then there is no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
    The universe is made up of blind physical forces.
    Therefore, the universe has no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

    Fredrick Nietzsche: “Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of "world history," but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.”
    Temporal things have no value.
    Humanity is a temporal thing.
    Humanity has no value.

  50. Spencer says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 05:55 PM:

    Kstret,

    "If you think I am misrepresenting the argument, make the argument, and make the case for why the flaw in the argument is not free will. All you do is post a one or two sentence response and cry strawman. "

    I was simply responding to your representation of the argument -- I haven't claimed that the argument from evil (AOE) is successful. You misrepresent the argument when you say it assumes that if God exists, no bad things should happen, which is just not true. Philosophers make a distinction between gratuitous and nongratuitous evil. AOE proceeds from the premise that God's existence is incompatible with gratuitous evil - not non-gratuitous evil. Your representation of AOE conflates this distinction.

    "If you think is self contradictory, make the case for why you think that. I heard Dr Craig say that God and evil existing simultaneously is not contradictory and if an atheist believes that, he needs to make an argument for why. "

    Craig does not deny that God's existence is incompatible with gratuitous evil -- in other words, he agrees the two are incompatible. However, Craig denies that gratuitous evil exists. When Craig says God and evil can exist simultaneously, he means God and non-gratuitous evil can exist simultaneously.

    "You ignored my point. If that's true does it apply to the argument that God doesn't exist because bad things happen on earth? NO! "

    You completely missed my point, which is that your counter-argument rests on a false premise.

    First, you represented the AOE as claiming that "God should eliminate all bad things from happening," and then proceeded to identify the "flaw" with this argument. The flaw, you claimed, is that if God eliminated all bad things from happening, then "the human race would have to become God's robots."

    My response was twofold. First, I pointed out that your characterization of the AOE is a strawman. Second, I showed how the "flaw" you identified is no flaw at all - even in the strawman version of AOE.

    It is simply not true that if "God eliminated all bad things from happening, then "the human race would have to become God's robots" -- or, at the very least, most Christians cannot endorse this premise. Most Christians believe they will retain free will even after God -- some time in the future -- eliminates "all bad things from happening." If you believe this, then you cannot believe the premise that if free will exists, then bad things will happen. In other words, this particular response to the AOE fails.

  51. Spencer says on Mar 17, 2011 @ 08:03 PM:

    Thomas,

    "You need a reference point outside of what is bad."

    Why? This merely begs the question against my example.

    "Are you challenging the premise that there is a standard, or the premise that there is a standard bearer?"

    I'm merely asking what is your justification for the premise -- to "say that there is a standard to assume a standard bearer, which is God." Why should I believe this?

    "Which conception of justice? Hell is a Biblical doctrine. To grant the claims of orthodox Christian theology is to grant punishment in hell. I know that you are not Christian, but what is you question here?"

    My question is why punishing the guilty in this manner -- sending them to hell for all eternity -- is just. Just because it says so in the bible?

    "These are not exactly assertions.
    Jean Paul Sartre: “Life has no meaning the moment you loose the illusion of being eternal.”
    If the eternal does not exist, then life has no meaning.
    The eternal does not exist.
    Therefore, life has no meaning."

    The first premise is precisely what's at issue, and you provided no justification for it.

    "If the universe is made up of blind physical forces, then there is no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
    The universe is made up of blind physical forces.
    Therefore, the universe has no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."

    This argument doesn't show that life is meaningless. At most, it only shows that the universe has no grand purpose to it. The fact that there is no cosmic meaning in the universe doesn't mean life can't be truly meaningful.

    "Temporal things have no value.
    Humanity is a temporal thing.
    Humanity has no value."

    Why on earth should I believe the first premise? And why should I believe that humanity is "a temporal thing[/]?"

  52. Anonymous says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 05:37 AM:

    Spencer

    "Jason,

    "I don't think you understand my post, and the the quote you highlighted of mine is the answer to your question."

    "You have not shown that God does not prefer the occurrence of suffering to its non-occurrence. We need to distinguish two different kinds of preferences: (i) preferring the occurrence of suffering because suffering is inherently desirable, and (ii) preferring the occurrence of suffering because, without the suffering, some great end can't be achieved.

    For instance, I don't want anyone to chop off my arm, but if the choice is between that and my life, I would prefer that it be done than not. Apparently, God's choice according to Craig is between 1) not permitting immense suffering and not achieving some great end, and 2) permitting immense suffering and achieving that great end. God prefers 2) over 1)."

    I believe I have, I do not know how much clearer I can make it. Apparently you are still hung up on preference versus necessity. I alraedy went over that. And yes, God prefers 2) over 1). Your argument is the typical atheist argument of: "I don't like what God is doing, so He must be doing it wrong." To use your example: I don't want my arm to be chopped off to save my life because I don't like it. So chopping my arm off is wrong. But then your have future knowlege of the consequence that if you don't cut off your arm, you will die. The ends justify the means. But in the case of the earthquake, we see only see the means, not the end. How do you know that the death of thousands will save millions years from now? You don't, I know I certainly don't. To say that God doesn't know is naive.

    "Does that mean we should be happy that suffering should happen right now? Of course not!"

    "Praise God for the immense suffering because it will help achieve God's Divine Plan! What's wrong about this?"

    Now you are just being facetious. Be thankful that your arm is gone and you're handicapped! Would someone really say that to you? I don't think so. They can be happy that you are not going to die, but grieved that you lost your arm because there was no other option.

    Jason5332

  53. Jason5332 says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 05:40 AM:

    The above "anonymous" quote is mine, I forgot to put in my name. I apologize :)

  54. Spencer says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 07:13 AM:

    Jason,

    "I believe I have, I do not know how much clearer I can make it. Apparently you are still hung up on preference versus necessity."

    Do you disagree with the statement that God preferred that the earthquake occurred than not?

    "And yes, God prefers 2) over 1). "

    Then it follows that the above statement is true.

    "Your argument is the typical atheist argument of: "I don't like what God is doing, so He must be doing it wrong."

    I have not argued this.

    "To use your example: I don't want my arm to be chopped off to save my life because I don't like it. So chopping my arm off is wrong. But then your have future knowlege of the consequence that if you don't cut off your arm, you will die. The ends justify the means. But in the case of the earthquake, we see only see the means, not the end. How do you know that the death of thousands will save millions years from now? You don't, I know I certainly don't. To say that God doesn't know is naive."

    This completely misrepresents the point of my example. The point of my example is that I would prefer one outcome over another, even when that outcome isn't inherently desirable. I never made the argument that "chopping off my arm would be wrong."

    "Now you are just being facetious. Be thankful that your arm is gone and you're handicapped! Would someone really say that to you? I don't think so. They can be happy that you are not going to die, but grieved that you lost your arm because there was no other option."

    This doesn't explain why it would be wrong to praise God's decision to permit the immense suffering.

  55. Jason5332 says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 09:02 AM:

    Spencer

    "I believe I have, I do not know how much clearer I can make it. Apparently you are still hung up on preference versus necessity."

    Do you disagree with the statement that God preferred that the earthquake occurred than not?

    "And yes, God prefers 2) over 1). "

    Then it follows that the above statement is true."

    Yes, God permits suffering, although he doesn't prefer it. I'm a little confused about what statement you are referring to. I can allow something to happen even if I don't want it to occur, because I know in the long run great good will occur.

    " "Your argument is the typical atheist argument of: "I don't like what God is doing, so He must be doing it wrong."

    I have not argued this."

    I was inferring this because whenever evil comes up, most (not all) atheists play this card, as if they could make better decisions than God. Atheists will try to say "I don't like this to occur." Christians don't either! But we are not navie enough to say that God could have done it better a different way.

    ""To use your example: I don't want my arm to be chopped off to save my life because I don't like it. So chopping my arm off is wrong. But then your have future knowlege of the consequence that if you don't cut off your arm, you will die. The ends justify the means. But in the case of the earthquake, we see only see the means, not the end. How do you know that the death of thousands will save millions years from now? You don't, I know I certainly don't. To say that God doesn't know is naive."

    This completely misrepresents the point of my example. The point of my example is that I would prefer one outcome over another, even when that outcome isn't inherently desirable. I never made the argument that "chopping off my arm would be wrong.""

    So you admit that God prefers one outcome over the other: (bad things don't have to happen vs. people coming to Christ). Since you have not addressed the argument about necessary evil, I would assume you have no answer for it. You also seem to have issue that chopping off your arm capricously would be wrong, but in looking at your lack of acknowleging evil from other posts, I can see why you would make this statement.

    ""Now you are just being facetious. Be thankful that your arm is gone and you're handicapped! Would someone really say that to you? I don't think so. They can be happy that you are not going to die, but grieved that you lost your arm because there was no other option."

    This doesn't explain why it would be wrong to praise God's decision to permit the immense suffering."

    Again, you seem to be missing my point. We never praise misfortune on others, but we are aware that God works for the good of those who love him, and praise his infinite mercy and knowlege that what he does is the best even if we are presently angry with his decisions. So to answer your question directly, we don't praise God that he allows suffering because he himself doesn't approve of suffering. He grieves when his children hurt. He allows it so that we have opportunities to come to know Him. Some people don't turn their life around until they hit rock bottom.

    My final point:
    Christian= I don't know why this happened or why God would allow this. I am angry at Him. But I know that he weeps in our sorrows. I also know that when we get to Heaven all will be revealed on why such things occur.
    Atheist= that is just the way nature is: blind, indifferent to suffering. Be sad for the other people, they just ahd bad luck. Be thankful it wasn't you.

    This is all I'm going to say on the matter. You may have the last word in our discussion :) I know we could go on forever, but I do have a life lol. But I want to thank you Spencer for the discussion and how respectful the discussion was.

  56. John says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 09:24 AM:

    I think there is a difference between "rejoicing in" or "praising" something that God allows to happen, and in simply "recognizing that God has morally sufficient reasons for" allowing it to happen. A good parent will allow his child to sometimes suffer the consequences of a mistake or wrongdoing that the child is doing; even though the parent might know that his own action in allowing the child to reap these consequences is the right thing to do, that doesn't mean that he has to "rejoice" in this decision. Jesus allowed Lazarus to die, which was the right thing to do at the time, but He did not "rejoice" at His own decision; in fact, when He saw Mary and the Jews weeping and mourning Lazarus, he began to cry himself (John 11). The more Biblical view is that now we weep, mourn, and suffer in this world, but that the end result is better. There is nothing wrong with "wishing," in a human sense, that things were better; in fact, Christ "wished" that He didn't have to suffer as He did in the garden, and asked the Father to eliminate that suffering if it were possible (Luke 22).

    Sometimes the best example of a Christlike attitude toward suffering is found in the lives of those who have suffered greatly and yet continued to follow Him. Ben Haden gives an excellent example of this in a sermon entitled "The Falcon and Me" at http://www.changedlives.org/radio

  57. Jason5332 says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 10:01 AM:

    Well said John.

  58. Spencer says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 10:06 AM:

    Jason,

    "Yes, God permits suffering, although he doesn't prefer it."

    But God prefers the suffering all things considered. In other words, given the choice between allowing the suffering and not allowing it, God prefers the former. This is what I tried to illustrate with my arm example: if it's a choice between losing my arm and losing my life, I would prefer to lose my arm.

    "since you have not addressed the argument about necessary evil, I would assume you have no answer for it."

    I'm not sure what you're referring to. Right now, I'm only focused on the argument I made.

    "So to answer your question directly, we don't praise God that he allows suffering because he himself doesn't approve of suffering. He grieves when his children hurt."

    But God would approve of his decision to allow suffering to occur, like in the Japan disaster. Why isn't this decision praiseworthy?

    "He allows it so that we have opportunities to come to know Him."

    This would not be true for the many victims of the disaster.

  59. Spencer says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 10:20 AM:

    John,

    "I think there is a difference between "rejoicing in" or "praising" something that God allows to happen, and in simply "recognizing that God has morally sufficient reasons for" allowing it to happen. "

    There may be a difference between the two, but what would be wrong with doing the former?

    "that doesn't mean that he has to "rejoice" in this decision."

    But remember: God's decision to permit the earthquake will lead to the salvation of many more people. In other words, without the disaster, not as many people will be saved. What would be wrong with rejoicing in the fact that the earthquake -- as part of God's plan -- will contribute in the salvation of many people? ("More people to Christ - can I get a Amen!")

    "Jesus allowed Lazarus to die, which was the right thing to do at the time, but He did not "rejoice" at His own decision; in fact, when He saw Mary and the Jews weeping and mourning Lazarus, he began to cry himself (John 11)."

    I find this example quite puzzling. Why possible reason would give Jesus cause to weep for Lazarus' death? This seems like a gross overreaction, since not only did Jesus have the ability to bring Lazarus back to life, but he DID bring him back to life.

    If my best friend died tomorrow but I knew I could easily bring him back to life, why on earth should I be sad? I should be happy!

  60. Kyle says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 05:41 PM:

    I don't necessarily agree with the purported morally sufficient reasons Craig adduces for permitting natural evil and disasters, but...

    I do think a Christian theist could praise God for setting up a world in which great evil and suffering is *possible* (whether we interpret that as saying evil and suffering are not a necessary part of God's plan for us, or whether we interpret it as being part of the possible, unknown future of God), so long as there are certain intrinsic goods that justify setting things up with this needed possibility (such as love, relationships, significant and deeply interactions between various creatures and nature, etc). And I think this is perfectly consistent with the theist, and God, hating such realities when they do, in fact, come about. So I think one can thank God for this world and the mechanisms that make great things possible, even if they also make horrible things possible as a necessary consequence. In fact we might even be able to coherently regret that such mechanisms make horrible things possible, but at the same time see that their *possibility* (not their actuality) is necessary. I don't see anything cold or heartless about this, and I think it is completely compatible with hoping and praying that such things do not happen, and compatible with we and God preferring that they don't happen.

    I think Christian theists do need to be very careful to avoid saying that evil (natural or moral) and suffering are somehow *necessary* for God's plan in anything like a strong sense. Were there no moral evil, I don't think there would be any natural evil like what we see in this world, if any at all. And certainly moral evil is not necessary for God's perfect intentions for the world. God does not need evil to accomplish His intentions for humanity - He just needs freedom and interrelationships in His world. *We* contingently misuse that freedom.

    Now, *in light of the contingent fact of evil and suffering entering into the world through our free choice,* it may be necessary in a weak sense for God to directly inflict suffering for various morally sufficient reasons. However, I do *not* think natural disasters like Japan qualify under that rubric. I think they are just byproducts of a fallen world that we, and probably other moral agents in the universe, have screwed up. Yes, God permits them, but only as regretfully necessary possibilities - and then as actualities once humans and other creatures freely mess up the world, in order to let human beings have the freedom and environment necessary to choose genuine love and relationships.

  61. Kyle says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 05:54 PM:

    Also, though I think the Christian can praise God for setting up a world that allows for great good, even if it also allows for great evil as a necessary possibility, I think what strikes us as insensitive about "praising God" for such a world when horrible things happen is the idea that we would really be in a frame of mind to praise God for the overall world He has set up when disaster strikes. Surely, we would, and should, be concerned with caring for those who have been devastated, with joining with God in hating these realities and working to redeem them, and the like. We are to weep with those who weep, and it would be inappropriate to rejoice in God's overall providence when we have the duty to be in suffering solidarity with those who need our immediate and full attention.

    Of course, if someone begins to ask such questions about God's overall plan, then it would be appropriate to explain why we believe, broadly at least, God had to permit such things (though not necessarily Craig's answer of bringing about more Christians through suffering). Then we can explain that there is a great Christian hope that God has certain goods in mind for those who are willing to receive them that will eventually overwhelm the evil that was necessary to permit as a possibility, and then an actuality - evils that are not necessary for God's plan in anything like a strong sense.

  62. KStret says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 06:32 PM:

    Spencer,
    You dodged my points once again.

    1. You claim that I am misrepresenting the argument. Make the correct argument, point out how I am misrepresenting it, and point how why I am wrong about free will.

    2. Dr. Craig did not say that evil and God existing simultaneously is self contradictory. I have watched several of his debates and heard him say this when an atheists attempted to make the evil and suffering argument. If you think that they are contradictory make the case as to why.

    You ignored my point on free will. Did Adam and eve have the free will not to listen to God? Yes. Do you have the free will to be an atheist? Yes.

    Even if I grant your premise or even take it a step further and say that if you die in Christ you have no free will after death, your argument is not germane to the point. Once again you are comparing apples and oranges and making a strawman argument.

    If you die in Christ and have no free will after that, does that uncut the free will argument flaw in the atheist attack of evil and human suffering? No, Heaven is not the same thing as earth and the atheist argument is about earth not heaven.

  63. Spencer says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 06:54 PM:

    Kstret,

    "1. You claim that I am misrepresenting the argument. Make the correct argument, point out how I am misrepresenting it, and point how why I am wrong about free will."

    I pointed out precisely how you misrepresented the argument.

    I wrote:
    ------------
    You misrepresent the argument when you say it assumes that if God exists, no bad things should happen, which is just not true. Philosophers make a distinction between gratuitous and nongratuitous evil. AOE proceeds from the premise that God's existence is incompatible with gratuitous evil - not non-gratuitous evil. Your representation of AOE conflates this distinction.
    ------------

    "2. Dr. Craig did not say that evil and God existing simultaneously is self contradictory."

    I didn't say he said this either. What I said was: "When Craig says God and evil can exist simultaneously, he means God and non-gratuitous evil can exist simultaneously." However, Craig does not think God and gratuitous evil can exist simultaneously.

    "You ignored my point on free will."

    No, I did not - in fact, I responded to it.

    I wrote:
    --------
    It is simply not true that if "God eliminated all bad things from happening, then "the human race would have to become God's robots" -- or, at the very least, most Christians cannot endorse this premise. Most Christians believe they will retain free will even after God -- some time in the future -- eliminates "all bad things from happening." If you believe this, then you cannot believe the premise that if free will exists, then bad things will happen. In other words, this particular response to the AOE fails.
    ---------

    "Even if I grant your premise or even take it a step further and say that if you die in Christ you have no free will after death, your argument is not germane to the point. "

    Yes, it is. My only point was that the alleged flaw you identified with the AOE is not a flaw at all.

    "If you die in Christ and have no free will after that, does that uncut the free will argument flaw in the atheist attack of evil and human suffering? No, Heaven is not the same thing as earth and the atheist argument is about earth not heaven."

    If you hold, as a matter of Christian theology, that believers will retain their free will when they go to heaven, and in heaven there is no evil, then it can't be true that the existence of free will necessarily entails the existence of evil.

  64. Jason5332 says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 07:08 PM:

    Very well said, Kyle, and much to think about. God bless.

    Jason5332

  65. Thomas says on Mar 18, 2011 @ 11:32 PM:

    Spencer,

    Why? This merely begs the question against my example.
    Did you read the definitions? By definition evil needs an external point of reference. If I am wrong then what is your definition of evil.

    I'm merely asking what is your justification for the premise -- to "say that there is a standard to assume a standard bearer, which is God." Why should I believe this?
    A standard is a way to distinguish good from evil. A standard has a source. Where did this standard come from? Evolution cannot explain this standard because evolution would have to assume the existence of the standard before it could explain it. Where did it come from? What is its source?

    My question is why punishing the guilty in this manner -- sending them to hell for all eternity -- is just. Just because it says so in the bible?
    The way you phrased the previous questions assumed a Christian theology. On those assumptions my answer follows. In order to object to sending sinners to hell you must object at an earlier point.

    The first premise is precisely what's at issue, and you provided no justification for it.
    What then is your grounding for meaning in a life that is not eternal?

    This argument doesn't show that life is meaningless. At most, it only shows that the universe has no grand purpose to it. The fact that there is no cosmic meaning in the universe doesn't mean life can't be truly meaningful.
    How can life be meaningful in a universe that has no purpose?

    Why on earth should I believe the first premise?
    Temporal things fade. They have no lasting effect. Their meaning is illusory. It is like grasping the wind. Why would temporal things have value?

    And why should I believe that humanity is "a temporal thing[/]?"
    Are you claiming that humanity is eternal?

  66. robaylesbury says on Mar 19, 2011 @ 05:07 AM:

    Has anybody else heard about the recent experiments conducted in Germany on a test group?

    The participants were asked a series of questions, and what
    emerged was that 6 seconds before the person consciously made a selection and the motor function kicked in, some process took place in the brain. I guess we cannot extrapolate a theory of mind/brain dualism on that evidence,
    but it does raise some interesting questions on the subject of free will.

  67. Kyle says on Mar 19, 2011 @ 08:19 AM:

    "If you hold, as a matter of Christian theology, that believers will retain their free will when they go to heaven, and in heaven there is no evil, then it can't be true that the existence of free will necessarily entails the existence of evil."

    It's true that the existence of free will does not metaphysically entail the existence of evil, just the possibility of evil. Of course, we all freely misuse this freedom at least sometimes, so this possibility becomes an actuality.

    Heaven is something of a special case, however. In heaven, I believe the saints have freely cooperated with God's grace at every level of their character to the point that they freely forfeit their ability to sin. Their freedom is, in a sense, fulfilled in that they decisively and irrevocably choose the ultimate direction of their will. Virtue ethics shows that the more we choose something, the more it becomes part of us, and I think there is a point of no return - whether for good (heaven) or evil (hell).

    So because of our choices here, those in heaven lose the ability to choose otherwise than they do. They are therefore free in something like the compatibilist sense in that they do only what they want to do within the unalterable bounds of their freely chosen character. But this is nevertheless critically different from compatibilism, because they have freely (in a libertarian sense) chosen to want what they want for eternity- they have freely chosen the makeup of their own character. So in a real sense, their decisive choice is just the sum-total, or the culmination, of all of their libertarian choices.

    The saints in heaven realize with full clarity that God and His holy law are the only source of true happiness and fulfillment because they have freely chosen that path and have experienced it for themselves. The damned freely avoid this realization because they do not give the good and love the full chance it needs in order for them to be persuaded that only it leads to true human happiness.

  68. Spencer says on Mar 19, 2011 @ 10:39 AM:

    Thomas,

    "By definition evil needs an external point of reference. If I am wrong then what is your definition of evil."

    Says who? Why couldn't pointless suffering be intrinsically evil without an external reference point?

    "A standard is a way to distinguish good from evil."

    Okay. That which causes unnecessary suffering is evil; that which alleviates unnecessary suffering is good. Why does God have to exist to know this? How do you justify your premise?

    "The way you phrased the previous questions assumed a Christian theology. On those assumptions my answer follows. In order to object to sending sinners to hell you must object at an earlier point."

    No, we're debating Christian theology. According to Christian theology, God sends sinners to hell. But why is this action just? Can you give a philosophical defense of this view?

    "What then is your grounding for meaning in a life that is not eternal?"

    This is an attempt to shift the burden. I asked for a justification of the first premise. Asking me why I disagree with it doesn't amount to an argument.

    "How can life be meaningful in a universe that has no purpose?"

    This response doesn't counter what I say. I was merely making the logical point that the fact that there is no cosmic meaning in the universe doesn't mean life can't be truly meaningful. If you think the former entails the latter, please show the entailment relation.

    "Temporal things fade. They have no lasting effect. Their meaning is illusory. It is like grasping the wind. "

    All this does is beg the question.

    "Are you claiming that humanity is eternal?"

    No, I'm asking why I should think humanity is a "thing." The argument asserts that temporal "things" have no value. One problem is that humanity isn't a "thing." A second problem: why can't temporal things have value? Says who?

  69. Spencer says on Mar 19, 2011 @ 10:42 AM:

    Kyle,

    "So because of our choices here, those in heaven lose the ability to choose otherwise than they do. They are therefore free in something like the compatibilist sense in that they do only what they want to do within the unalterable bounds of their freely chosen character. But this is nevertheless critically different from compatibilism, because they have freely (in a libertarian sense) chosen to want what they want for eternity- they have freely chosen the makeup of their own character. So in a real sense, their decisive choice is just the sum-total, or the culmination, of all of their libertarian choices."

    So your claim here is that believers will not retain their libertarian free will when they go to heaven. One problem: it contradicts Christian theology. When God first started the world, wasn't it his intention that Adam and Eve would live forever in paradise, with free will?

  70. Spencer says on Mar 19, 2011 @ 10:56 AM:

    Kyle,

    "However, I do *not* think natural disasters like Japan qualify under that rubric. I think they are just byproducts of a fallen world that we, and probably other moral agents in the universe, have screwed up. Yes, God permits them, but only as regretfully necessary possibilities - and then as actualities once humans and other creatures freely mess up the world, in order to let human beings have the freedom and environment necessary to choose genuine love and relationships."

    I'm not sure I follow. First, let's make a distinction between natural evils and natural disasters. I think we can agree that the latter aren't necessarily evil when they don't cause any suffering. Natural evils occur when there is immense suffering as a result of natural disasters.

    Second, on your view, God permits natural evils (like the one in Japan) "in order to let human beings have the freedom and environment necessary to choose genuine love and relationships." Your view obviously differs from Craig's because the good end he identifies is salvation, whereas the good end you identify is "genuine love and relationships."

    Further, if the disaster in Japan was "necessary" in order to achieve some great end, why would be wrong with praising God with doing what's necessary?

    But why do you think the recent disaster in Japan was "necessary" for the choosing of genuine love and relationships? That is quite a clam. Many people have chosen genuine love and relationships without ever having to experience a disaster like 9.0 earthquake. So your assumption is plainly false here.

  71. robaylesbury says on Mar 19, 2011 @ 11:21 AM:

    I have to say, all I am hearing is intellectual white sound. Any discussion on natural evil can only drown under the weight of sophistry that invariably masquerades as Christian theology.

    By all means posit some moral standard out there in the ether. Call it a necessary being, an uncaused cause. Evoke Leibniz, principles of sufficient reason, or arguments from contingency. But do so safe In the knowledge that these joyfully sophisticated arguments can all be deployed to produce a logically consistent case for the existence of Thor, Poseidon, or the Invisible pink unicorn.

    I'm actually embarrassed to be hearing some of this inanity, and deeply ashamed that I counted myself among the faithful for so many years.

  72. Lucidity says on Mar 19, 2011 @ 10:36 PM:

    There is no magic, invisible Leprechuan in the sky, uh, I mean god. Please grow up!!

  73. Thomas says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 03:42 AM:

    robaylesbury,

    To compare God to Thor or Poseidon is a violation of the law of the excluded middle

  74. dullhammer says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 06:04 AM:

    You don’t really know what atheism is until you’ve heard God tell you that you’ll never see him again.

  75. robaylesbury says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 09:30 AM:

    Now here's a philosopher who can communicate without obscurantism.

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/602215-god-and-disaster

    Thank you AC Grayling. Thank you that the art of exposition, when used succinctly, makes a mockery of those who claim to know things that they cannot possibly know.

    That's me done.

  76. KStret says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 12:42 PM:

    Spencer,
    "You misrepresent the argument when you say it assumes that if God exists, no bad things should happen, which is just not true. Philosophers make a distinction between gratuitous and nongratuitous evil. AOE proceeds from the premise that God's existence is incompatible with gratuitous evil - not non-gratuitous evil. Your representation of AOE conflates this distinction."

    First of all, let's drop the evil label because evil is a concept that atheists should not believe in.

    Secondly, making a distinction between gratuitous human suffering and non-gratuitous human suffering is still saying the same thing.

    That is to say, the premise that gratuitous or unwarranted human suffering is incompatible with God's existence has the same flaw in it. If God exists there should be no unwarranted human suffering. What happens if you eliminate unwarranted human suffering? You still have to eliminate free will.

    " What I said was: "When Craig says God and evil can exist simultaneously, he means God and non-gratuitous evil can exist simultaneously." However, Craig does not think God and gratuitous evil can exist simultaneously."

    Once again, I have watched many debates and listened to many of Dr. Craig's arguments. I watched him in a debate address the argument of human suffering. He did not say unwarranted human suffering is contradictory to God's existence. He made the free will argument. Alvin Plantinga points out the flaw in the human suffering argument is free will as well. Are you going to argue that Dr. Craig disagrees with Plantinga?

    When Dr Craig addresses arguments of God causing human suffering directly he does say they that God has sufficient reason to do so. When he addresses the atheist argument of human suffering, one of the arguments he makes is that the flaw is free will.

    "If you believe this, then you cannot believe the premise that if free will exists, then bad things will happen. In other words, this particular response to the AOE fails."

    You are conflating heaven and earth and making a strawman argument. Does God want Spencer to accept Jesus? Yes. Is he forcing Spencer to do so? No. Spencer has the free will to reject God.

    If Spencer accepts Jesus, dies, goes to Heaven, and has no free will in heaven does that mean Spencer had no free will on earth? No.

    Does the atheists argument of human suffering pertain to earth or Heaven? Earth

    Free will on earth is not the same thing as if you chose to accept Jesus and after you die you have no free will. That does not uncut my argument and it is not contradictory. Anyone can see that, but are going to keep making the same argument again, aren't you?

  77. Spencer says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 01:29 PM:

    KStret,

    "First of all, let's drop the evil label because evil is a concept that atheists should not believe in."

    Says who? You gave no argument for this.

    "Secondly, making a distinction between gratuitous human suffering and non-gratuitous human suffering is still saying the same thing. "

    No, it is not. Gratuitous suffering and non-gratuitous suffering are not at all equivalent: the former is suffering that God has no morally sufficient reason to allow or cause, whereas the latter is suffering that God has morally sufficient reason to allow or cause.

    "That is to say, the premise that gratuitous or unwarranted human suffering is incompatible with God's existence has the same flaw in it. If God exists there should be no unwarranted human suffering. What happens if you eliminate unwarranted human suffering? You still have to eliminate free will."

    False. You fail to distinguish between suffering that results from moral evil and suffering that results from natural evil. Although the former is the product of free will, the latter is not. Many instances of suffering have nothing to do with the exercise of free will (e.g. earthquake in japan). Hence, eliminating natural evils would not entail eliminating free will.

    "Once again, I have watched many debates and listened to many of Dr. Craig's arguments. I watched him in a debate address the argument of human suffering. He did not say unwarranted human suffering is contradictory to God's existence. He made the free will argument."

    Watch those debates again. The argument Craig addresses is the following:

    1) Gratuitous evil exists.
    2) If gratuitous evil exists, then God doesn't eixst.
    3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

    God doesn't object to premise 2), but rather premise 1). Premise 1), he says, can be rejected on the grounds that God always has a morally sufficient reason to allow evil, and therefore all instances of evil aren't gratuitous. But if gratuitous evil exists -- that is, evil which God does NOT have a morally sufficient reason to allow -- then there would be instances of evil that God ought to have prevented, and his failure to prevent them is proof of his nonexistence.

    "He made the free will argument. Alvin Plantinga points out the flaw in the human suffering argument is free will as well. Are you going to argue that Dr. Craig disagrees with Plantinga?"

    There are several problems with the "free will counter." I'll mention three.

    1) Many instances of horrific suffering do not result from human free will. Hence, eliminating those instances of horrific suffering would not eliminate free will.

    2) If God were to eliminate the many instances of horrific suffering that DO result from human free will, that would not entail the elimination of all human free will. Consider: A is about to murder B, but before he could do so, C forcibly restrains A. Hence, C has taken away A's free choice to murder A. But C has not eliminated A's ability to make all free choices -- that is, this one violation of free will does not mean A no longer has free will. So, even if God prevented the exercise of free will in *some* instances, that would not entail the prevention of free will in *all* instances.

    3) The "free will counter" assumes (problematically) that "free will" is something so valuable that it would justify God's failure to violate it in some instances. But, as the above example in 2) shows, there are undoubtedly many instances in which the violation of another's free will is perfectly justified -- even morally required. So there's a curious asymmetry here: on one hand, free will is so valuable that God is morally justified in never violating it, and on the other, free will is not so valuable that in certain circumstances, God would require us to violate it.

    "You are conflating heaven and earth and making a strawman argument."

    No, I am not. I am merely drawing out the implications of your statement "if free will exists, then bad things happen." If your statement were true, then it would follow that humans can't live in a paradise world with free will, contrary to what Christian theology teaches. But if humans CAN live in a paradise world with free will, then it follows that your statement is false.

  78. KStret says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 01:53 PM:

    Rob,
    He is basically using the "either or" part of the argument of human suffering and asking why didn't God create a world where we didn't have earth quakes.

    Why stop at earth quakes? Why do people have to get sick? Why do people have to die? Why do we have to get old? Why do we Why do we need to sleep? Why do we need to eat?

    The flaw is the same. The fact that that bad things happen and there is human suffering means that there is no God. You can not have free will and no human suffering.

  79. KStret says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 10:20 PM:

    KStret
    "Says who? You gave no argument for this."

    Evil should not exist in the atheist lexicon. The default position of atheism is moral relativism. If morals are relative, there can be no evil.

    "No, it is not. Gratuitous suffering and non-gratuitous suffering are not at all equivalent"

    I did not say they were equivalent. I was saying that your argument of pointing out the distinction between gratuitous suffering and non-gratuitous suffering doesn't do anything to undermine the flaw of free will in the argument of human suffering.

    You admit the atheist argument on human suffering is starting out from gratuitous human suffering. Warranted human suffering isn't part of the argument. If the argument starts out from unwarranted human suffering, I can not be conflating the two because we are only dealing with unwarranted human suffering.

    "False. You fail to distinguish between suffering that results from moral evil and suffering that results from natural evil. Although the former is the product of free will, the latter is not. Many instances of suffering have nothing to do with the exercise of free will (e.g. earthquake in japan). Hence, eliminating natural evils would not entail eliminating free will. "

    You forgot about the no bad things happening part of what I said. If natural human suffering from events like earth quakes should not happen if God exists, what you are saying is no one should be killed from natural disasters.

    In an event like Hurricane Katrina, no one should have died. In other words, bad things happening or human suffering caused by natural events means that God doesn't exist.

    When a Hurricane hits and a surfer that is a few cans short of a six pack ignores the warnings, decides to go surf some tasty waves, and dies; God should save him. Since God doesn't save him that means he doesn't exist.

    I fail to see how that is contradictory to God's existence, how I am making a strawman argument when you making my points for me, or how it uncut the free will objection.

    "Watch those debates again. The argument Craig addresses is the following"

    Spencer, I am not going to argue with you about something I watched and listened to myself. I have heard the argument several times and I'll bet if you look you can find it.

    Dr. Craig objected to both premises. Are you going to argue that Dr. Craig disagrees with Alvin Plantinga? That seems to be what you are saying here.

    "then there would be instances of evil that God ought to have prevented, and his failure to prevent them is proof of his nonexistence."

    According to who? Then there is either no free will or you are cherry picking the aspects of life that you don't like. If you are going to Cherry pick, why not go for it all and ask why aren't we immortal and argue we should never be able to be harmed right off the bat?

    "Many instances of horrific suffering do not result from human free will. Hence, eliminating those instances of horrific suffering would not eliminate free will. "

    Putting an argument in number form doesn't make it more valid. All you are doing is assuming that many instances of human suffering is not the result of free will. That's not an argument. That is assuming......

    "So there's a curious asymmetry here: on one hand, free will is so valuable that God is morally justified in never violating it"

    No one said that God never violates free will. The objection is to the atheist argument that suffering from natural events and suffering caused by humans, means God doesn't exist. That is to say, because we don't live in a Utopia that everyone has a different opinion of, that means God doesn't exist. God can violate free will if he chooses to.

    Paul was persecuting Christians, encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, lost his eye site, and followed what Jesus told him to do.

    Why did God violate Paul's free will? Because he had sufficient reason to do so. While no one would have guessed that Paul would become a Christian, he played a huge role in the early Church.

    "If God were to eliminate the many instances of horrific suffering that DO result from human free will, that would not entail the elimination of all human free will. Consider: A is about to murder B, but before he could do so, C forcibly restrains A. Hence, C has taken away A's free choice to murder A. But C has not eliminated A's ability to make all free choices -- that is, this one violation of free will does not mean A no longer has free will. So, even if God prevented the exercise of free will in *some* instances, that would not entail the prevention of free will in *all* instances."

    The premise here is that no one can ever murder another person. If Cain decides to stab his bother, God should put an invisible bubble around Cain or his brother that can not be penetrated by a knife.

    If a group of bank robbers hits a bank, God should make all their guns jam. In order for your premise to work bad things can not happen.

    ""if free will exists, then bad things happen."

    No, if free will exists on earth. Heaven and earth are not the same thing are they?

    "If your statement were true, then it would follow that humans can't live in a paradise world with free will"

    Humans are not human after they die are they? Not only are you conflating heaven and earth, you are conflating Humans with the spirit or the resurrected. They are not the same either.

    We might have a totally different perspective from being Humans to being a spirit. There could be certain things you might not think are a big deal while you are alive and you realize they are horrible things after you die. Your eyes, ears,mind and heart might be closed when you are alive and wide open after you die.

  80. Spencer says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 10:43 PM:

    Kstret,

    "The default position of atheism is moral relativism. "

    Again, you gave no argument for this, or for why moral relativism is the "default position."

    "I did not say they were equivalent."

    Then use words more carefully. You said: "making a distinction between gratuitous human suffering and non-gratuitous human suffering is still saying the same thing." But saying that gratuitous human suffering exist is NOT the same thing as saying that non-gratuitous human suffering exists.

    "If the argument starts out from unwarranted human suffering, I can not be conflating the two because we are only dealing with unwarranted human suffering."

    Then don't say the two are the same thing when they're not.

    "I fail to see how that is contradictory to God's existence, how I am making a strawman argument when you making my points for me, or how it uncut the free will objection."

    I showed precisely how your free will objection fails. You claimed that if God eliminated all gratuitous evil, then he would have to eliminate free will. I pointed out that this is just not true, since many instances of gratuitous evil do not depend on the existence of free will.

    "Dr. Craig objected to both premises. Are you going to argue that Dr. Craig disagrees with Alvin Plantinga? That seems to be what you are saying here."

    No, Craig did not object to both premises -- he only objected to the premise that gratuitous evil exists.

    "Putting an argument in number form doesn't make it more valid. All you are doing is assuming that many instances of human suffering is not the result of free will. That's not an argument. That is assuming......"

    It's an undeniable fact that many instances of human suffering do not result from free will. Ever heard of things like earthquakes? Lighting strikes?

    "The objection is to the atheist argument that suffering from natural events and suffering caused by humans, means God doesn't exist. That is to say, because we don't live in a Utopia that everyone has a different opinion of, that means God doesn't exist. "

    LOL. Can you TRY not the misrepresent an argument? The argument isn't: because we don't live in a Utopia, God doesn't exist. Rather, the argument is: because gratituous evil exists, God doesn't exist.

  81. Spencer says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 11:06 PM:

    Kstret,

    "All you are doing is assuming that many instances of human suffering is not the result of free will. That's not an argument."

    This is an assumption shared by ALL philosophers of religion.

    "Moral evil. This is evil that results from the misuse of free will on the part of some moral agent in such a way that the agent thereby becomes morally blameworthy for the resultant evil. Moral evil therefore includes specific acts of intentional wrongdoing such as lying and murdering, as well as defects in character such as dishonesty and greed.

    Natural evil. In contrast to moral evil, natural evil is evil that results from the operation of natural processes, in which case no human being can be held morally accountable for the resultant evil. Classic examples of natural evil are natural disasters such as cyclones and earthquakes that result in enormous suffering and loss of life, illnesses such as leukemia and Alzheimer’s, and disabilities such as blindness and deafness."

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-evi/#SH3b

  82. KStret says on Mar 20, 2011 @ 11:27 PM:

    Spencer,
    This is getting flat out ridiculous. You are contradicting yourself. If God eliminates all gratuitous evil, he would have to eliminate free will. What was the premise of your argument? No one can ever murder another person.

    What is the other premise? That natural disasters can not kill people.

    In order for your argument to work, people have to literally walk around with indestructible invisible bubbles around them. A person could not die from being murdered, making a stupid mistake, or from natural disasters. That pretty much rules out everything.

    Why stop there? If God existed we should be immortal and never get hurt in any way. We are not immortal and we can not be hurl, therefore, there is no God.

    That is not contradictory to God's existence at all.

    "It's an undeniable fact that many instances of human suffering do not result from free will. Ever heard of things like earthquakes? Lighting strikes?"

    Ever hear of Hitler, Stalin, Mao? Many instances of human suffering do result from free will too. Communism alone has killed around 100 million people.

    "claimed that if God eliminated all gratuitous evil, then he would have to eliminate free will"

    You again ignored the bad things can't happen part of my comments.

    "No, Craig did not object to both premises -- he only objected to the premise that gratuitous evil exists."

    He has been in several debates. Your position is really Dr Craig disagrees with Alvin Plantinga?

    "Again, you gave no argument for this, or for why moral relativism is the "default position."

    There is no God and evolution explains everything. If evolution is true and there is no God, the law of the jungle is the default position.

  83. Thomas says on Mar 21, 2011 @ 01:42 AM:

    Spencer,

    “Says who? Why couldn't pointless suffering be intrinsically evil without an external reference point?”
    The definition implies it. Did you read the definitions I posted? They were from www.dictionary.com.

    “Okay. That which causes unnecessary suffering is evil; that which alleviates unnecessary suffering is good. Why does God have to exist to know this? How do you justify your premise?”
    First you say that evil does not need an external point of reference, and then you give a definition that implies an external point of reference. Evil is that which causes unnecessary suffering. This implies that there is such a thing as necessary suffering. There is also a tension between causing in evil and alleviating in good. These definitions are bound together.
    On atheism our thoughts and perceptions have evolved through time to enhance our ability to survive. Concepts such as good and evil cannot be grounded in this view of the world. In nature there is no good or evil. There is only strong and week, dying and surviving. Atheism cannot account for the existence of these things. On the Christian view, the world was created good. Man then rebels against God. This rebellion allows evil to enter a good world. My claim is not so much that God must exist to know this, although that is implied. It is that these concepts are incoherent without God.

    “No, we're debating Christian theology. According to Christian theology, God sends sinners to hell. But why is this action just? Can you give a philosophical defense of this view?”
    Christian theology claims that God is holy, good, and just and that there is a moral law. Will you grant this for the sake of argument? If not we need to back up and discus this before I can answer your question. Let me start with an analogy. Suppose that there is a judge who has to make a ruling. The defendant is clearly guilty of murder. If the judge let the defendant go would he be a good judge? No! He would be a wicked and evil judge. Because God is good those who have violated His moral law must be punished. Because God is good, He must be just. God is also holy. This is the only attribute of God that is repeated three times, “God is holy, holy, holy.” Because God is holy, He cannot allow lawbreakers into his presence. God’s holiness and goodness require that His justice include punishing the wicked by thrusting them out of his presence.

    “This is an attempt to shift the burden. I asked for a justification of the first premise. Asking me why I disagree with it doesn't amount to an argument.”
    Every worldview must answer the questions of meaning and evil. You do not like to answer questions. You use burden to be evasive. I also cannot really address you objection of you do not tell me why you are objecting. My observation is that, given atheism, the universe begins with no meaning and ends with no meaning. Somehow what happens between the beginning and end has meaning. I do not see any logical reason why this should be so. Also, given atheism, there is no eternal. The universe will die a death imposed by entropy.

    “This response doesn't counter what I say. I was merely making the logical point that the fact that there is no cosmic meaning in the universe doesn't mean life can't be truly meaningful. If you think the former entails the latter, please show the entailment relation.”
    Given atheism, the universe begins with no meaning and ends with no meaning. Somehow what happens between the beginning and end has meaning. How is this so?

    “All this does is beg the question.”
    No, it does not. These are observations. Given atheism the universe has no meaning. How can meaning exist within nonmeaning? I use to work on a wildlife sanctuary. I spent all my time trying to kill of invasive plants and plant native plants. Now there is no one there to do the job that I was doing. There are now invasive plants all over the sanctuary. The time I spent there was meaningless. Given atheism, everything we do during our lives will be destroyed or forgotten when humanity goes extinct. Where is the meaning in that?

    No, I'm asking why I should think humanity is a "thing." The argument asserts that temporal "things" have no value. One problem is that humanity isn't a "thing." A second problem: why can't temporal things have value? Says who?”
    One definition of thing is a living being or creature. This includes humanity. You also have to remember that this argument is given in the context of atheism being true. All will be forgotten. Something that is forgotten has no meaning. The best atheism can hope for is a temporary illusion of meaning.

  84. robaylesbury says on Mar 21, 2011 @ 01:48 AM:

    Facepalm.

  85. Spencer says on Mar 21, 2011 @ 05:44 AM:

    Kstret,

    Not all instances of suffering result from human free will (e.g. natural evils); some evils exist not because of free will, but because of natural processes. Hence, it follows that eliminating those evils would not entail the elimination of free will.

    "If God eliminates all gratuitous evil, he would have to eliminate free will. "

    No, he wouldn't. See above.

    "He has been in several debates. Your position is really Dr Craig disagrees with Alvin Plantinga?"

    Nope, not at all.

    "[i´] If God were to exist, then E would be an instance of objective, gratuitous evil.
    [ii´] If God were to exist, then objective, gratuitous evil would not exist.

    But the Christian who would accept [ii´] will reject [i´] because the evil, though objective, wouldn’t be gratuitous [u]
    (my favored view).
    [/u]
    "

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8605


    "If evolution is true and there is no God, the law of the jungle is the default position."

    Once again, you gave no argument for this claim, let alone why this has to be the "default position."

  86. Spencer says on Mar 21, 2011 @ 08:24 AM:

    Thomas,

    Suppose we agree that unnecessary, pointless suffering is evil. If this is true, then in a world where only unnecessary, pointless suffering exists, there would be no good -- just evil.

    "Evil is that which causes unnecessary suffering. This implies that there is such a thing as necessary suffering. "

    No, this doesn't follow. The fact that there is unnecessary suffering doesn't mean there is also necessary suffering. Again, we can imagine a world where all suffering is unnecessary and pointless.

    "Concepts such as good and evil cannot be grounded in this view of the world. In nature there is no good or evil."

    Why not? In nature we see many instances of unnecessary suffering and many instances of the alleviation of suffering.

    "Christian theology claims that God is holy, good, and just and that there is a moral law. Will you grant this for the sake of argument"

    Sure, but don't confuse the claim that God is all-good with the claim that the actions attributed to God by Christians are consistent with what an all-good God would do. I'll accept, for the sake of argument, that God is all-good, but it doesn't follow from this that God's actions in the bible is consistent with a God who is all-good.

    "Suppose that there is a judge who has to make a ruling. The defendant is clearly guilty of murder. If the judge let the defendant go would he be a good judge? No! He would be a wicked and evil judge. Because God is good those who have violated His moral law must be punished."

    Several problems with the analogy. First, there are instances where a defendant is clearly guilty of murder but a judge, nevertheless, is constitutionally obligated to set him free -- e.g. when incriminating evidence was obtained through unconstitutional searches and seizures (wikipedia: exclusionary rule).

    Second, there is a huge difference between murder and petty theft; the latter, no matter how egregious, does not warrant life imprisonment or death. Similarly, not all violations of God's moral law are equal, and yet, on Christianity, they all warrant the punishment of death and eternal damnation.

    Third, you assume that justice requires punishment for breaking God's moral laws. But why should I believe this? What if God decided it was more appropriate to forgive sin, unconditionally, and rehabilitate us?

    "My observation is that, given atheism, the universe begins with no meaning and ends with no meaning."

    All this does is beg the question. You've given no question-begging argument to show that on atheism, life can't be truly meaningful. Your "observations" are just mere assertions.

  87. Thomas says on Mar 22, 2011 @ 04:04 AM:

    Spencer,

    “Suppose we agree that unnecessary, pointless suffering is evil. If this is true, then in a world where only unnecessary, pointless suffering exists, there would be no good -- just evil.”
    “No, this doesn't follow. The fact that there is unnecessary suffering doesn't mean there is also necessary suffering. Again, we can imagine a world where all suffering is unnecessary and pointless.”
    Unnecessary means not necessary. If suffering is the only thing that exists then it is not unnecessary. If pointless suffering exists then alleviating that suffering exists as a potentiality. I cannot imagine a world where evil exists as an actuality and good does not exist as a potentiality.

    “Why not? In nature we see many instances of unnecessary suffering and many instances of the alleviation of suffering.”
    In nature this is reduced to survival of the fittest. Why should this kind of suffering be considered evil?

    “Several problems with the analogy. First, there are instances where a defendant is clearly guilty of murder but a judge, nevertheless, is constitutionally obligated to set him free -- e.g. when incriminating evidence was obtained through unconstitutional searches and seizures (wikipedia: exclusionary rule).”
    All analogies break down at some point. This is where my analogy breaks down. God is not restricted by a constitution or by how evidence was gathered. He is only restricted by his nature.

    “Second, there is a huge difference between murder and petty theft; the latter, no matter how egregious, does not warrant life imprisonment or death. Similarly, not all violations of God's moral law are equal, and yet, on Christianity, they all warrant the punishment of death and eternal damnation.”
    I agree that not all violations of God’s law are equal. But all violations of God’s law are committed against a holy God. If you steal my intellectual property you will only have to pay a small fine. If you steal government secrets you might get the death penalty. Breaking God’s law is serious. We are all punished with death. We are not all punished with eternal damnation.

    “Third, you assume that justice requires punishment for breaking God's moral laws. But why should I believe this? What if God decided it was more appropriate to forgive sin, unconditionally, and rehabilitate us?”
    Now you are on to something. There has to be a payment made for sin. According to scripture that payment must be the blood of the guilty, or its equivalent. God sent his Son to earth in the form of a man to make the payment for these sins. In order to have this payment credited to your account all you have to do is place your trust in God and turn from your sins. After this God will rehabilitate you.

    “All this does is beg the question. You've given no question-begging argument to show that on atheism, life can't be truly meaningful. Your "observations" are just mere assertions.”
    Which observations do you disagree with?
    1 Given atheism the beginning of the universe is meaningless.
    2 Given atheism the universe will have a meaningless end.
    Most atheists believe that life is meaningful. I have not read any successful arguments to support this belief.
    I have read arguments that the life is meaningless that I think are good. These arguments were made by atheists. (Nietzsche, Sarte, Camus)

  88. KStret says on Mar 22, 2011 @ 10:48 PM:

    Spencer,
    The end result of the atheist argument of evil is a world were bad things do not happen and we have no free will.

    1. There can be no suffering from natural causes. All events that can cause human suffering by natural means would have to be stopped. There would be no tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, torrential flooding or earth quakes. The other option is that humans can not be harmed by natural events.

    Even if you eliminate earth quakes and things like that, people are still killed by other natural causes that are not natural disaster types of events.

    Someone is driving in their car, driving normally, it's raining, they start hydroplaning and get into an accident and die. The same thing could happen with black ice or snow. That can not happen with the atheist AOE.

    Should there be no snow,black ice, or rain because of the potential to cause human suffering? If it doesn't rain, you are going to cause suffering because the world would turn into a desert, there would be no food, and people would starve.

    If people are going to starve, God should make it so we don't need to eat. Deserts are hot, some one could die of heat exposure. By making the AOE you are going into a infinite spiral of removing things that could potential harm people.

    2. Humans can not cause other humans to suffer. There can be no murder or rape. What about mental suffering? An alcoholic or a drug addict can wreck havoc on their families and themselves. Would human gratuitous suffering also include suffering that is self inflicted?

    Should God allow some people to drink and others not to drink? How would that work? Would their mouths close and not open until they give up attempting to drink or should their arms just not work so they can't pick up the drink? Should God stop Charley Sheen from taking massive amounts of cocaine?

    What about suffering caused by seer stupidity? A guy stands in waste deep water with 10 bull sharks, and is eaten. Should God stop the bull sharks from eating him or prevent him from getting in the water in the first place?

    "evils exist not because of free will, but because of natural processes. Hence, it follows that eliminating those evils would not entail the elimination of free will."

    Human suffering from natural causes and from human causes are two sides of the same coin. You are attempting to separate them. The atheist argument does not only pertain to natural causes and you still have to eliminate free will out of the equation from suffering as a result of natural causes.

    If a volcano is going to erupt and a stubborn person will not leave, the argument dictates they can not die from the Volcano.

    Before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina there was a total break down of leadership from the local politicians as well as at the federal level. Local politicians knew the Hurricane was coming and should have been busing people out of the state immediately.

    They waited too long and there were many buses that were not utilized. Buses could be seen sitting in parking lots that were flooded. The argument dictates that can't happen either. God should have turned the political leaders into puppets and made sure that they did their jobs.

    What about natural suffering caused by ignorance? The sky is clear and a guy decides to take his boat out on the ocean. He forgot to check the weather and a bad storm is coming in. The storm causes the boat to sink and the man dies. Should God stop him from going out on the water, should he stop the storm, or should he cause the man to dematerialize and reappear back in his home?

    You can not pretend that suffering from humans is separate that natural suffering. You can not keep ignoring the fact that I said the argument dictates that bad things can not happen which covers the natural human suffering as well.


    "[i´] If God were to exist, then E would be an instance of objective, gratuitous evil.
    [ii´] If God were to exist, then objective, gratuitous evil would not exist."

    The letter that you quoted, was really about the atheist counter argument to Dr Craig's moral argument. It is essentially changing the subject to the moral argument instead of AOE. While they are related, it is conflating the response to the moral argument with the AOE in a way.

    First of all, the guy who wrote the letter said,"I don't believe I've heard one of your interloculars take this route in your debates, nor have I come across it in your published work."

    Secondly, you are side stepping the issue of objective evil. The writer of the letter made a great point that if an atheist concedes that objective gratuitous evil exists, it follows that objective morals exists, and they have made Dr. Craig's moral argument for him. You are not specifying if you are talking about objective evil. If your argument read:

    1) Objective Gratuitous evil exists.
    2) If Objective gratuitous evil exists, then God doesn't exist.
    3) Therefore, God doesn't exist.

    The writer of the letter says:

    [1] If God does not exist, objective moral values (and duties) do not exist;
    [2] Objective moral values (and duties) do exist; therefore,
    [3] God exists

    And in your debates, the atheist generally poses the problem of evil in the following way:

    [4] If God exists, then [objective] gratuitous evil does not exist;
    [5] gratuitous evil exists; therefore,
    [6] God does not exist

    Furthermore, in your debates you will sometimes respond to the argument from evil by appealing to premise [1] of the moral argument: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. Since [5] implies [2]--in virtue of the fact that if gratuitous evil exists, then objective moral values must exist--then, [1] & [5] entail [3]. So in a sense, the atheist's own argument serves to support for the moral argument, in providing the second premise."

    If you reject that objective evil exists, your argument would read subjective gratuitous evil. If the evil is subjective, who is to say it's evil to begin with? You might think that Hitler committing mass genocide is an example of evil, while Hitler thinks ridding the world of the Jewish race is a good thing.

    You might think that the current situation in Japan is a great example of natural evil, while a rabid environmentalist thinks the world is over populated as well as over developed and what happened in Japan is a good thing. The subject has changed to the moral argument.

    "[i´] If God were to exist, then E would be an instance of objective, gratuitous evil.
    [ii´] If God were to exist, then objective, gratuitous evil would not exist."

    Dr. Craig writes:
    "According to [i´], if there were a God, then objective, gratuitous evil would exist (namely, E). But that explicitly contradicts [ii´], that if there were a God, then objective, gratuitous evil would not exist. So the atheist would be making contradictory assertions, and it would be uncharitable to ascribe such beliefs to him. Nor will any Christian assent to both premisses. So the argument misfires, since neither party will agree with both premisses."

    Dr Craig said that specific argument is contradictory.


    "For example, the Christian who would accept [i´] will reject [ii´] because he thinks God can permit gratuitous evil (Peter van Inwagen’s view). But the Christian who would accept [ii´] will reject [i´] because the evil, though objective, wouldn’t be gratuitous (my favored view)."

    This is really a theistic debate between Dr. Craig's view and Peter van Inwagen’s view of how to deal with God existence with evil.

    I believe his rationale for that position is molinism/ middle knowledge. That allows for the free will of man while also affirming that God is completely sovereign. I believe the molinism/ middle knowledge position states that objective gratuitous evil just doesn't exist. If all things that happen are God’s will, there is no gratuitous evil. This would be because God is completely sovereign not because evil is contradictory to God's existence.

    Another Christian philosopher would say that objective gratuitous evil does exist. You have a difference of opinion between Christians not a contradiction.

    Dr. Craig has used the free will objection to the AOE. I remember him saying that Calvinist can not use the free will objection. He also did say that evil and God existing simultaneously wasn't contradictory when the atheist made the claim that it was. However, he did not specify what kind of evil. I believed he used the free will objection when the argument is phrased the way David Hume used it instead of Q &A on the moral argument that you posted.

    "Once again, you gave no argument for this claim, let alone why this has to be the "default position.""

    Yes I did. Evolution being true coupled with the belief that there is no God dictates that the law of the jungle is the default position. Morals are not objective but subjective and cultural constructs. There is no objective right or wrong. Do you disagree with Nietzsche?

  89. KStret says on Mar 22, 2011 @ 11:12 PM:

    I meant to break the last post up into two posts....sorry about that.

  90. robaylesbury says on Mar 23, 2011 @ 02:45 AM:

    Natural evil only requires a long winded explanation from those of a theistic disposition. One of the numerous benefits that comes from the abandonment of theistic assumptions is that the question "Why God?" becomes irrelevant. That free's me to set about the business of alleviating the misfortune of others should I choose to do so. And yes, the choice is mine. Others may choose a different path. I cannot legislate for them.

  91. dullhammer says on Mar 23, 2011 @ 08:37 AM:

    Rob, I'm not in favor of defending long windedness-- for God and natural evil or for the goodness of godlessness. But your short winded comment is just ridiculous. You sound like the proverbial ostrich hailing the benefits of a simpler world if one would just abandon everything going on above ground.

  92. robaylesbury says on Mar 23, 2011 @ 09:00 AM:

    That sounds rather deft. It's also inane. By all means wring every last drop of sophistry from this awful thread. I reserve the right to treat this non existent quandary with the lightness of touch it deserves. By positing a God you have created a problem of your own making. Clear up your own mess.

  93. dullhammer says on Mar 24, 2011 @ 06:57 AM:

    Rob, I understand that positing God does not fit into your neat little world, or discussion thread for that matter. And If there is any mess I personally need to clean up I will address it gladly with the light and grace God gives me through Jesus Christ. But your claim to have no problem with natural evil because you have abandoned God is the opportunistic claim of a man living in darkness . . . insisting his house is clean.

  94. Thomas says on Mar 24, 2011 @ 01:53 PM:

    robaylesbury,

    Every worldview has to address the question of evil, natural or otherwise. You have not even attempted to explain these things. This is just a failure to engage. You cannot explain why you should help as opposed to not helping.

  95. Rayburne says on Mar 24, 2011 @ 03:10 PM:

    "Why do children commit evil if parents exist?
    "The nature of children proves there are no parents."

    The above is as shallow as the reasoning about the existence of God and the reality of suffering and evil of many of the comments I've read so far.

    I'm neither interested in a philosophical discussion about the nature of evil versus the existence of God nor a theological discussion abot Calvinism and "free will" what God's Word plainly says:

    First, as to why evil and suffering are part of the world scenario, on would be wise to consult Genesis 3, and stop blaming God for the problem that humanity itself chose to initiate.

    Second, this fallen sinful world is under the just and deserving judgment and condemnation of a holy and righteous God Who must and will punish sin and rebellion if indeed He is also a loving God. You cannot seperate His attribute of love from that of His holiness and righteousness, which demand that sin be punished.

    Third, God plan and purpose for humanity,as scripture reveals, is not to save all humanity. Thus, we have the divine revelation spoken by the prophets and given to Joseph and Mary concerning the messanic purpose of Jesus' birth: And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Notice that that it plainly states that "He (Jesus) will save His people from their sins," not the whole world. This truth is also expressed in many other texts: "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her" (Ephesians 5:25). "The church" clearly is not the whole world. In fact, the word "Church," (Gk. ekklesia or "called out")refers to those whom God has called out of this world spiritually (though still present physically in the world) and separated from the world unto Himself according to His holy plan and purpose. Thus,we read in 1 Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you many proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness (re: spiritual darkness) into His marvellous lighr (or truth concerning salvation in Christ). I could give many more texts. These chosen or called out ones--the ones given by the Father to the Son (six times in chapter 6 of John's Gospel) are known to God from eternity past (Ephesians 1:4, 2 Thess. 2:13). God knows who they are and where they are, even many who have not yet come to faith, but will come to faith in the future.

    Third, if God's own people have faced persecution and death for their faith down through the ages and are still undergoing terrible suffering and persecution in the world in many Islamic and eastern countries, why are we in the west so alarmed and shaken up because we see natural disasters both home and abroad---yes,that are all part of God's procidence and plan for humanity's redemption? If you are somehow shocked by this, then read the Book of Revelation concerning the horrible outpouring of God's judgment and wrath upon sinful and rebellious humanity--what is known as the seal, bowl and trumphet judgments. Yes, the language is symbolic (though much of it is interpreted by scripture itself) but like one well known biblical New Testament scholar, Dr. Don Carson, said: "Where the methaphor ends and the reality begins, one cannot tell,but one thing for sure--the reality must be far more horrible than the symbolic language used to describe it."

  96. KStret says on Mar 24, 2011 @ 05:22 PM:

    Ray,
    "Why do children commit evil if parents exist?
    "The nature of children proves there are no parents."

    That is a great analogy that sums up the argument quickly.

    "Thus, we have the divine revelation spoken by the prophets and given to Joseph and Mary concerning the messanic purpose of Jesus' birth: And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

    There are also other passages that state that every one has the potential to be saved.

    Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned

    Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who beareth away the sins of the world.”

    1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

    Acts 2:20-21 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

    Calvinists will usually add the word "elect" to bible passages that go against the notion that we don't choose God with free will. When the bible talks about those who have sinned, that includes everyone. When it’s talking about who it was that Jesus died for, it's only the elect.

  97. Spencer says on Mar 24, 2011 @ 05:48 PM:

    Thomas,

    "Unnecessary means not necessary. If suffering is the only thing that exists then it is not unnecessary."

    You confuse "suffering exists necessarily" with "the suffering that exists is necessary." The former (your above claim) means that suffering must, as a metaphysical fact, exist, which is different from saying that suffering is necessary for some good end.

    "If pointless suffering exists then alleviating that suffering exists as a potentiality"

    Maybe, but if the possibility of alleviating suffering will never be actualized, what good is it?

    "In nature this is reduced to survival of the fittest. Why should this kind of suffering be considered evil?"

    I don't see the "reduction" you speak of. What's "reduced" to the survival of the fittest? And why should unnecessary, pointless suffering be "evil" only in a theistic universe?

    "Breaking God’s law is serious. We are all punished with death."

    But you have yet to explain: what would justify imposing such a harsh sentence on all violations, whether they are minor or not?

    "There has to be a payment made for sin."

    Why?

    "Which observations do you disagree with?"

    Your claim is that if atheism is true, living a meaningful life is impossible. I'm asking you to back up your claim.

  98. Spencer says on Mar 24, 2011 @ 06:06 PM:

    Kstret,

    "The end result of the atheist argument of evil is a world were bad things do not happen and we have no free will."

    Once again, this is false. You fail to distinguish natural evils from moral evils. Natural evils are evils which result from natural processes, not human free will. Eliminating natural evils would not entail eliminating human free will.

    "There can be no suffering from natural causes. All events that can cause human suffering by natural means would have to be stopped. There would be no tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, torrential flooding or earth quakes. The other option is that humans can not be harmed by natural events."

    Eliminating natural evils would not necessarily entail eliminating natural events. If God made earthquake harmless to humans (for example), that would not entail eliminating human free will.

    "By making the AOE you are going into a infinite spiral of removing things that could potential harm people."

    The AOE is not committed to the claim that if God exists, people can't be harmed. Again, you fail to distinguish harm that's gratuitous from harm that's non-gratuitous.

    "Human suffering from natural causes and from human causes are two sides of the same coin."

    No, they are not. Sometimes they become intertwined, but not always. Consider cases where people become infected by fatal diseases. In many of those cases, the suffering they experience can only be attributed to natural causes.

    "The letter that you quoted, was really about the atheist counter argument to Dr Craig's moral argument. It is essentially changing the subject to the moral argument instead of AOE. While they are related, it is conflating the response to the moral argument with the AOE in a way."

    My only point in quoting Craig was to show that he accepts the following claim: If gratuitous evil exists, then God doesn't exist. Before, you disputed that Craig accepted this, but I proved otherwise.

    [i´] If God were to exist, then E would be an instance of objective, gratuitous evil.
    [ii´] If God were to exist, then objective, gratuitous evil would not exist.

    Craig accepts (ii) and rejects (i), and (ii) is logically equivalent to the above claim in bold.

    "You have a difference of opinion between Christians not a contradiction."

    I can easily prove the contradiction. But first: will you now acknowledge that Craig himself accepts the above bold claim, contrary to what you said before?

    "Yes I did. Evolution being true coupled with the belief that there is no God dictates that the law of the jungle is the default position."

    This isn't an argument, but a just another question-begging assertion.

  99. Thomas says on Mar 24, 2011 @ 07:00 PM:

    Spencer,

    “You confuse "suffering exists necessarily" with "the suffering that exists is necessary." The former (your above claim) means that suffering must, as a metaphysical fact, exist, which is different from saying that suffering is necessary for some good end”
    Your example is what I am claiming makes a metaphysical statement.

    “Maybe, but if the possibility of alleviating suffering will never be actualized, what good is it?”
    You miss my point. A world where evil is all that exists and good is only a potentiality still has an external reference point for determining what evil is. To say that something is evil is to imply that it opposite or its nonexistence is good. Whether or not these things ever are actualized is not relevant to the point that I am making.

    “I don't see the "reduction" you speak of. What's "reduced" to the survival of the fittest? And why should unnecessary, pointless suffering be "evil" only in a theistic universe?”
    The meaning of life is reduced to survival of the fittest. There is no metaphysical foundation for any other meaning to life on naturalism. I also do not claim that pointless suffering is evil to a theistic worldview. My claim is that there is no metaphysical foundation for the existence of evil in any atheistic worldview.

    “Why?”
    We are starting to go in circles here. If God is good, and God is just, then he must, by his nature punish sin. This means a payment is necessary.

    “Your claim is that if atheism is true, living a meaningful life is impossible. I'm asking you to back up your claim.”
    I have provided quotes from atheists, drawn arguments out of those quotes, and provided observations to back up my claim. My question is if the beginning of the universe is meaningless (all atheists I have read have granted this) and the end of the universe is meaningless (all atheists I have read have affirmed this) Then how can what happened in between be meaningful. (the reason for the worldviews off nihilism, atheistic existentialism) What atheist has provided a convincing argument for meaning for life? They pull it out of a hat like it was a magic trick. I could start adding Christian arguments to my list if you would like.

  100. Spencer says on Mar 24, 2011 @ 07:13 PM:

    Thomas,

    "To say that something is evil is to imply that it opposite or its nonexistence is good. Whether or not these things ever are actualized is not relevant to the point that I am making."

    Your point was that there can't be a world where only evil exists. I provided a counter example. In my example, there exists a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering and that suffering never gets alleviated. Hence this is a world where there's evil but not good.

    "The meaning of life is reduced to survival of the fittest. "

    How so? Can you "show" the reduction? I don't even understand what it meant by your claim that the "meaning of life is reduced to survival of the fittest." Do you mean we live only to survive? If so, that's clearly false.

    "We are starting to go in circles here. If God is good, and God is just, then he must, by his nature punish sin. This means a payment is necessary."

    All you are doing is asserting that a good and just God must punish sin. Why? Suppose I assert the opposite: a good and just God does not have to punish sin. Are you just going to counter my assertion with your mere assertion?

    "I have provided quotes from atheists, drawn arguments out of those quotes, and provided observations to back up my claim."

    1) I showed how those arguments are question begging.
    2) I showed how your "observations" are question begging.

    "My question is if the beginning of the universe is meaningless (all atheists I have read have granted this) and the end of the universe is meaningless (all atheists I have read have affirmed this) Then how can what happened in between be meaningful. (the reason for the worldviews off nihilism, atheistic existentialism) What atheist has provided a convincing argument for meaning for life?"

    I don't see why what happens in between can't be meaningful. Atheists live meaningful all the time, and you appear to grant that their lives are at least seemingly meaningful but not truly meaningful. Perhaps you can explain: what makes a life truly meaningful on your view?

  101. robaylesbury says on Mar 25, 2011 @ 06:06 AM:

    I accept that my life has no ultimate meaning, and that this journey is all I have. This to me adds richly to my life.

  102. Rayburne says on Mar 25, 2011 @ 01:07 PM:

    Kstret, I did not want to get into the Calvinism-Arminian debate, but I will reply to what you have said just this once.

    "Thus, we have the divine revelation spoken by the prophets and given to Joseph and Mary concerning the messanic purpose of Jesus' birth: And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

    There are also other passages that state that every one has the potential to be saved

    All scripture must be interpreted in their historical and biblical context. Name one verse that states evry one has the potential to be saved. John 3:16 states very plainly that "whosoever believed in Him (Jesus) shall have everlasting life". This verse simply states what man must do to be saved (believe in Christ) but says nothing about whether he has the potential (spiritual ability) in and of hilself to perform spiritual acts of true repentance and faith. You are reading this meaning into the text (eisogesis). Your interpretation must harmonize with the teachings of the rest of scripture; for example, John 6:44: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (see also John 6:65). "There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God." Of course, we know people do seek after God and scripture exhorts to do same (Matthew 7:7)but does that mean the Bible is wrong, or that there is a contradiction. Certainly not! It simply means that God wants us to seek him, but human responsibility does not imply moral or spiritual ability. I submit that if any of us are truly seeking after god, it is because God is seeking after us.

    Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned

    All this verse is saying is that we are all sinners and subject to the the curse of death by virtue of the sin of our original parents--Adam and Eve, nothing about a sinner possessing any spiritual ability to believe.


    Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. Ask yourself does "the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" mean all men will be saved (universal salvation). Of course not. Rather, "the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" can only mean those who believe (because only those who believe are justified, but again to infer that this means all people have the spiritual ability to believe is to read more into this text that what it plainly says.


    John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who beareth away the sins of the world.”

    Does that mean that the Lamb of God took away the sins of every person in the world without exception (or every one without distinction in the world) because if so, them many already in hell are suffering there whose sins Jesus has taken away or paid for. In other words, Jesus atonement for our sins did not actually pay for the sins of anyone of His people, even though Mathew 1:23 states "He will save His people from their sins", just simply made salvation possible, as the Arminian believes, and it is really our decision to believe that makes the atonement effacious or effective in saving anyone. In short, man really deserves the credit for his salvation, not God's grace, because salvation is conditional on his "willingness" to receive it. Such theology gives mor glory to man and not God, contrary to the many scriptures that teach salvation is all of God's grace (yes, man must willingly believe, but he only does so because the grace of God in regeneration (new birth) enables him to perform spiritual acts of repentance and faith (belief).


    1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

    Again, that does not imply that all men have the spiritual ability to be saved, or even that the power to save all is somehow outside His desire for all to be saved. The truth all children of Adam are sinners by nature and by choice and spiritually blind (1 Cor. 2:14), spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and hostile sinners (Romans 8:7) will never come to God, unless God, in His grace and mercy draws them and enables them to believe (John 6:44, 65; John 10:26). That last verse incidently does not read, as many divines would like to read it: "ye are not my sheep because you do not believe" but rather: "But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep" (I did not add the word "elect" here, but clearly the reason they did not believe according to this passage was because they did not belong to that special category of people called "sheep", not "goats" (see Matthew 25:33).


    Acts 2:20-21 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

    Yes, it is true that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved," but that states again what sinners must do to be saved and does imply spiritual ability to believe. Absolutely not! (Responsibility does not mean spiritual ability, as John 6:44 makes clear: "No one can ("can" denotes ability, not permission, as we learned in school)come to Me unless the Father who sent me draw him".

    Calvinists will usually add the word "elect" to bible passages that go against the notion that we don't choose God with free will. When the bible talks about those who have sinned, that includes everyone. When it’s talking about who it was that Jesus died for, it's only the elect.

    No they don't. I did not do so because Calvinists do not believe and teach that "we don't choose God with free will". We must believe freely and willingly (free acts of men)but the problem is that spiritually dead, blind, hostile don't want anything to do with the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1, Romans 8:7)and will not willingly and freely choose to believe, unless the Spirit of God enables them to do so. Divine election is not opposed to "free will" in salvation (God does not convert the intelligent free agent into a machine). Indeed, His gracious election is what undergirds and makes possible the response of one whose heart has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit to freely and willingly repent and believe the Gospel (see Acts 13:48; 16:14). God cannot repent and believe for anyone. We must do those things for ourselves, through the enabling power of the Spirit, of course. We have to clarify what we mean by "free will". If by "Free will", you mean that one without Christ has the moral power or ability, unaided by regeneration (before the new birth) to incline himself to the things of God by an act of the flesh, or will, then that person in his natural (unregenerate) state clearly does not have a free will in the moral or spiritual sense, just free agency--which is a totally different thing. Let us see if scripture agrees with that: "But as many received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" who were born , not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of men, but of God" (John 1:12-13). Lest anyone think "But as many as received Him" implies spiritual ability to do so, read the next verse which tells who receive Him; namely, those "who were born (new birth), not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Note that the new birth (regeneration) is "not(nor) of the will of man". What could be plainer? And as for adding the word "elect", scripture does same in numerous verses. I don't need to do that (Matthew 24;31; Romans 11:7, 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:10; 1 Peter 2:6; etc. "elect" simply means "chosen or ordained to eternal life (see Acts 13:48) or called ones (Romans 8:28-30.

  103. Rayburne says on Mar 25, 2011 @ 01:56 PM:

    Idiscussed this topic with others (i.e. Rob..) before on different topics on this blog. I have no desire to do so again. There are many things we may not understand, or consider reasonable, that scripture clearly teaches--the Trinity; eternal punishment, not annihilationism; the virgin birth, etc. If God chose to save none, he would be perfectly just. None of us has any claim upon His grace. We stand condemned before a Holy and Just God, by virtue of what sin, not God, has made us (Genesis 3) If God did not punish sin (and sinners) he would not be loving. it is only because of His grace and mercy to undeserving sinners that any of us are saved. "Elect" could refer to God's chosen people "Israel" as a "people of God" or to Gentiles (1 Peter 2:9) but in most cases it refers to those who have been "called" or "chosen" by God to salvation or eternal life (i.e. see Romans 8:28-29 compare Romans 8: 33 "God's elect" in the same context; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Timothy 1:9; Matthew 24:31: "And He will send His angels with a great sound of the trumpet, and they will gather together His elect (chosen people, both Jew and Gentile) from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other"

    I don't want to engage in the Calvinism-Arminianism debate. I have done so on numerous occasions. One thing we certainly can agree on is that man must believe the Gospel freely and willingly to be saved, but what he is able to do in and of himself is altogether another topic for discussion on which many theologians and Christians have expressed wide disagreement. God bless.

  104. robaylesbury says on Mar 25, 2011 @ 05:09 PM:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0A4_bwCaX0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Time out.

  105. Thomas says on Mar 26, 2011 @ 01:50 AM:

    Spencer,

    “Your point was that there can't be a world where only evil exists. I provided a counter example. In my example, there exists a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering and that suffering never gets alleviated. Hence this is a world where there's evil but not good.”
    No. My point is that evil needs an external reference point. Your counter example still has good as a potentiality for calling the suffering evil.

    “How so? Can you "show" the reduction? I don't even understand what it meant by your claim that the "meaning of life is reduced to survival of the fittest." Do you mean we live only to survive? If so, that's clearly false.”
    In order to answer how this reduction takes place I will repost the Richard Dawkins quote because you never really engaged the quote. In The God Delusion Dawkins writes:
    “The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
    Notice how everything is reduced to electrons, selfish genes, blind physical forces, and genetic replication. If atheism is true, why is this clearly false? You make many of these assertions and do not provide arguments or evidence to back up your claim.

    “All you are doing is asserting that a good and just God must punish sin. Why? Suppose I assert the opposite: a good and just God does not have to punish sin. Are you just going to counter my assertion with your mere assertion?”
    Again, I have provided reasons and illustrations for why a good and just God must punish sin. A judge that did not punish lawbreakers is not a good judge. He would be a wicked and corrupt judge. God is not bound by a constitution. He is only bound by his characteristics. Every definition of the word good would require a good judge to uphold the law. If God did not uphold the law then he would not be good. Are you going to provide an argument for your assertion?

  106. Thomas says on Mar 26, 2011 @ 01:57 AM:

    Spencer,

    “1) I showed how those arguments are question begging.”
    I disagree. I assume that you are referring to the logical fallacy of petito principii. Let’s revisit the arguments. The first two arguments are hypothetical syllogisms. They have no formal fallacies.
    If the eternal does not exist, then life has no meaning.
    The eternal does not exist.
    Therefore, life has no meaning.
    The conclusion that life has no meaning is not a necessary conclusion from the first premise. This argument can be defeated in two ways. First, you can demonstrate that the eternal does exist. Second, you can show that there is no connection between the eternal and meaning for life. But this is not a question begging argument.
    If the universe is made up of blind physical forces, then there is no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
    The universe is made up of blind physical forces.
    Therefore, the universe has no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
    Your complaint with this argument is that it only showed that there was no grand purpose to the universe. I asked you how life could have meaning in a universe with no grand purpose. You have not even attempted to answer this question. Again, this argument is not questioned begging. There are two ways to defeat this argument. First, you can demonstrate that the universe is made up of blind physical forces does not infer that there is no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

    Temporal things have no value.
    Humanity is a temporal thing.
    Humanity has no value
    This argument is a categorical syllogism with no formal fallacies. Your complaint was that you did not see any reason to believe the first premise. I have given reasons for this. Temporal things pass away and are forgotten. When they are forgotten they cease to have any meaning. I have asked you for any reason to think that temporal things have meaning. You have not attempted to answer this question. You also objected to my referring to humanity as a thing. I defined thing and showed that humanity is included in the definition of thing. You have not challenged this. This is not a question begging argument. This argument can be defeated by demonstrating that temporal things have value or that humanity is not a temporal thing.

    “2) I showed how your "observations" are question begging.”
    They are observations. How are they question begging? Question begging does not apply to observations, only to arguments. I ask you again, if the beginning of the universe is meaningless (all atheists I have read have granted this) and the end of the universe is meaningless (all atheists I have read have affirmed this) Then how can what happened in between be meaningful. (the reason for the worldviews off nihilism, atheistic existentialism) What atheist has provided a convincing argument for meaning for life?
    “I don't see why what happens in between can't be meaningful. Atheists live meaningful all the time, and you appear to grant that their lives are at least seemingly meaningful but not truly meaningful. Perhaps you can explain: what makes a life truly meaningful on your view?”
    I have been providing you with reasons why what happens in between cannot be meaningful. You have not offered one positive reason to think that, given atheism, it can be meaningful. Take a look at robaylesbury’s last post. That is my point.
    I just want to make sure that we are clear; my claim is not that atheists cannot lead meaningful lives. My claim is that if atheism is true no one leads an objectively meaningful life. All that is left is a subjective, relative illusion.
    To answer your question, given that Christianity is true, there are several reasons to believe that life has value and meaning. First, God created the universe and people fore a purpose, for his enjoyment. Second, people are created in the image of God. If the Christian God does exist then things created in His image are meaningful in them selves. God has entered into history in the person and work of Jesus. God is guiding history to a particular conclusion, the return of Jesus. These are not arguments. These reasons rest on Christianity being true. I think that there are plenty of reasons to believe that Christianity is true.

  107. robaylesbury says on Mar 26, 2011 @ 04:13 AM:

    Why do we need ultimate meaning? As Douglas Adams put's it, "The garden is already beautiful. Why does it need fairies at the bottom of it?"

  108. Thomas says on Mar 26, 2011 @ 08:22 PM:

    robaylesbury,

    Here is John Frames "Parable of the Gardener":

    Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. A man was there, pulling weeds, applying fertilizer, trimming branches. The man turned to the explorers and introduced himself as the royal gardener. One explorer shook his hand and exchanged pleasantries. The other ignored the gardener and turned away: “There can be no gardener in this part of the jungle,” he said; “this must be some trick. Someone is trying to discredit our previous findings.” They pitch camp. Every day the gardener arrives, tends the plot. Soon the plot is bursting with perfectly arranged blooms. “He's only doing it because we're here-to fool us into thinking this is a royal garden.” The gardener takes them to a royal palace, introduces the explorers to a score of officials who verify the gardener's status. Then the sceptic tries a last resort: “Our senses are deceiving us. There is no gardener, no blooms, no palace, no officials. It's still a hoax!” Finally the believer despairs: “But what remains of your original assertion? Just how does this mirage, as you call it, differ from a real gardener?”


    The question is not, why do we need ultimate meaning? The question is, is there ultimate meaning? I also think that having ultimate meaning helps make life bearable. Albert Camus said that, "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide." Why would an atheist say that?

  109. Spencer says on Mar 26, 2011 @ 09:44 PM:

    Thomas,

    "No. My point is that evil needs an external reference point. Your counter example still has good as a potentiality for calling the suffering evil."

    I don't know what you mean by an "external reference point." I gave you a clear case of a world where evil exists (in actuality) but good does not exist. And my counter example doesn't necessarily have to have good as a potentiality; imagine a world where horrendous suffering can never be alleviated.

    "Notice how everything is reduced to electrons, selfish genes, blind physical forces, and genetic replication. If atheism is true, why is this clearly false? You make many of these assertions and do not provide arguments or evidence to back up your claim."

    First of all, your claim was that in an atheistic universe, "the meaning of life reduces to survival of the fittest." Nothing in the Dawkins quote implies this in the least.

    Second, the quote never claims that everything "reduces" to "electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication." Dawkins' point was that in an atheistic universe, bad things happen and there's no grand, cosmic reason for why they happen. But how is any of this supposed to imply that lives can't be truly meaningful?

    Third, the one with the burden is you, since you made the claim that atheism implies nihilism. Show the connection; don't just assert it.

    "Again, I have provided reasons and illustrations for why a good and just God must punish sin. A judge that did not punish lawbreakers is not a good judge. He would be a wicked and corrupt judge."

    No, you didn't provide any reason at all. All you've done is merely re-assert your position that a just God must punish sin. Why must one?

    "If God did not uphold the law then he would not be good."

    What do you mean by "uphold the law?" Do you mean enforce the law through punishment? If so, this is just another way of asserting your position: that a just God must punish sin.

    "They have no formal fallacies."

    The fact that they have no formal fallacies doesn't mean they don't have any informal fallacies. Your first premise -- "If the eternal does not exist, then life has no meaning" -- is precisely what's at issue, and thus to assume it's truth without argument is to beg the question. Why should I accept the premise without argument?

    "This argument can be defeated in two ways. First, you can demonstrate that the eternal does exist. Second, you can show that there is no connection between the eternal and meaning for life. "

    A third way: remind the proponent that I'm not rationally obligated to accept, without adequate justification, controversial premises.

    "I asked you how life could have meaning in a universe with no grand purpose. You have not even attempted to answer this question."

    Why do I need to answer it? You're the one who wants to claim that in a universe with no grand purpose, life can't be truly meaningful. Prove your claim, can you? Why should I believe it?

    "I have given reasons for this. Temporal things pass away and are forgotten. When they are forgotten they cease to have any meaning."

    Your reason is flawed. Assuming that temporal things "cease to have any meaning" when they are forgotten, it doesn't follow that they don't have meaning when they are not forgotten. Your premise -- "Temporal things have no value" -- asserts exactly what it says: temporal things are valueless. But why on earth should I believe this? What's the argument?

    "I have asked you for any reason to think that temporal things have meaning. You have not attempted to answer this question."

    Again, why do I have to? You're the one putting forth the argument.

    "They are observations. How are they question begging? Question begging does not apply to observations, only to arguments."

    They are question begging because you are assuming exactly what's at issue.

    "My claim is that if atheism is true no one leads an objectively meaningful life. All that is left is a subjective, relative illusion."

    I understand your claim. However, you have yet to put forth a good argument in its favor. What's the argument? Why should I accept the premises in it?

  110. Thomas says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 12:18 AM:

    Spencer,

    “I don't know what you mean by an "external reference point." I gave you a clear case of a world where evil exists (in actuality) but good does not exist. And my counter example doesn't necessarily have to have good as a potentiality; imagine a world where horrendous suffering can never be alleviated.”

    In you example I have shown that good exists as a potentiality. There is another problem that your example has; evil implies that there is a way that things should be. In your “evil” world where suffering is all that exists you are implying that this is not the way things should be. That is there should be a world where no suffering exists.

    “First of all, your claim was that in an atheistic universe, "the meaning of life reduces to survival of the fittest." Nothing in the Dawkins quote implies this in the least.”

    In the Dawkins quote the fittest genes survive. Survival of the fittest is a Darwinian concept and Dawkins is a Darwinian. Survival of the fittest is exactly what he is referring to when he mentions genetic replication.

    “Second, the quote never claims that everything "reduces" to "electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication." Dawkins' point was that in an atheistic universe, bad things happen and there's no grand, cosmic reason for why they happen. But how is any of this supposed to imply that lives can't be truly meaningful?”

    Dawkins said, “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication.” This effectively reduces the universe to, “electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication.” This is Dawkins view of the world. Dawkins point is that, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” In a universe that has, “no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference,” will have no meaning. Meaning is contradictory to, “no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” If this is true, there is no reason to expect to find meaning. You still have not given an argument that, given atheism, life has meaning.

    “Third, the one with the burden is you, since you made the claim that atheism implies nihilism. Show the connection; don't just assert it.”

    I have provided arguments, evidence in the form of quotes from atheist’s philosophers and scientist, and observations. You may not find these convincing, but it is a lie to say that I only asserted this. Your hiding behind some burden of proof is evasive and intellectually dishonest. Every worldview has to answer the questions of the existence of evil and meaning of life. You still have not given an argument that, given atheism, life has meaning.

    “No, you didn't provide any reason at all. All you've done is merely re-assert your position that a just God must punish sin. Why must one?”

    Again, this is a lie. I have provided an illustration and reasons for why goodness and justice demand punishment of the guilty. You may not find them convincing, but saying that I have only re-asserted my position is a lie.

    “The fact that they have no formal fallacies doesn't mean they don't have any informal fallacies. Your first premise -- "If the eternal does not exist, then life has no meaning" -- is precisely what's at issue, and thus to assume it's truth without argument is to beg the question. Why should I accept the premise without argument?”

    I have provided reasons for accepting this premise. See all of my posts. I will be happy to continue defending this, but you must show that life can be meaningful without the existence of the eternal. You have not offered on reason that, given atheism, life has meaning.

    “A third way: remind the proponent that I'm not rationally obligated to accept, without adequate justification, controversial premises.”

    You still have not given one reason to think that the premise is false. You have not defeated the premise.

    “Why do I need to answer it? You're the one who wants to claim that in a universe with no grand purpose, life can't be truly meaningful. Prove your claim, can you? Why should I believe it?”

    I have been giving many arguments and reasons for why you should accept the premise. Most of the time all you do is ask, “Why should I believe that?” The reason you need to answer the question is because every worldview has to answer the questions of evil and meaning. By not answering the question you are being evasive. Given atheism why does life have meaning?

    “Your reason is flawed. Assuming that temporal things "cease to have any meaning" when they are forgotten, it doesn't follow that they don't have meaning when they are not forgotten. Your premise -- "Temporal things have no value" -- asserts exactly what it says: temporal things are valueless. But why on earth should I believe this? What's the argument?”

    Temporal things will be forgotten because the human race will go extinct. The universe will die from entropy. Where is the memory then? Gone. How are things remembered when there is no one to remember?

    “Again, why do I have to? You're the one putting forth the argument.”

    Because all worldviews have to answer the questions of evil and meaning.

    “They are question begging because you are assuming exactly what's at issue.”

    I am not assuming anything. I am using the law of rational inference. I made some observations, I reached a conclusion.

  111. Thomas says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 12:19 AM:

    Spencer,

    Nietzsche implies everything that I am arguing in his “Parable of the Madman”:
    Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!"---As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?---Thus they yelled and laughed
    The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him---you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
    "How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us---for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."
    Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars---and yet they have done it themselves.
    It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"
    Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882, 1887) para. 125; Walter Kaufmann ed. (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp.181-82.]

  112. Spencer says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 01:00 AM:

    Thomas,

    It's a fact that you have yet to give a single non-question begging argument for the claim that nihilism is true on atheism. It's a lie to say that I lied. You know you haven't attempted to adequately support the premises in your arguments, and shifting the burden onto me won't change that fact.

  113. robaylesbury says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 02:00 AM:

    Thomas, my life is bearable. Like anybody I get occasional existential angst, but trying to accept false propositions is no consolation. Also, your parable implies that the skeptic rejects God as some kind of avoidance strategy. For me this is not so. I reject the truth claims of Christianity because I believe the claims to be unconvincing.

    I'm sorry you would find life unbearable without ultimate meaning. We differ here. For me the temporal nature of life is a wonderful, life enhancing incentive. This is our time under the sun.

  114. Thomas says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 03:09 AM:

    Spencer,

    My arguments are not question begging and I have explained why. You did lie. Giving inadequate arguments or faulty arguments is not the same as making assertions. You are now contradicting yourself. Was I making assertions or was I giving question begging arguments. I have attempted to bear my burden. You have not even made one argument to show that life has meaning in a meaningless universe. This is evasive. You have your burden to bear as well.

  115. Thomas says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 03:19 AM:

    robaylesbury,

    I have never had angst and I have not always been a Christian. I was something o a deist and thought that God did not care. The parable also implies that without God there are no objective values. From our earlier conversations I think you agree with that. You reject Christianity for the right reasons. I would reject it as well if I did not think that it was true.

    While I mentioned belief in God making life bearable I do not need this belief for life to be bearable. I was doing fine without Christian beliefs. For me having an objective purpose to my life makes life more exiting and interesting.

  116. Thomas says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 03:43 AM:

    robaylesbury,

    I need to make a corection. I did not feel angst before I became a Christian.

  117. robaylesbury says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 05:43 AM:

    Thanks for the clarification Thomas. What was it that changed your mind about Christianity, if you don't mind my asking?

  118. robaylesbury says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 08:24 AM:

    Can I also just insert a comment made by Richard Dawkins. It addresses those who want to use the famous quote found in the Selfish Gene for nefarious purposes.

    "I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved… I stress this, because I know I am in danger of being misunderstood by those people, all too numerous, who cannot distinguish a statement of belief in what is the case from an advocacy of what ought to be the case… If you would extract a moral from this book, read it as a warning. Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature… Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to."

  119. robaylesbury says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 08:32 AM:

    Actually, here's the entire thread. I post it as it kind of runs parallel to the discussion ongoing here.

    http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/607472-rabbi-misrepresents-dawkins-to-argue-that-atheists-have-no-morality

  120. Spencer says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 10:49 AM:

    Thomas,

    Your arguments are question-begging and I have explained why. And to offer up mere assertions in support of a controversial premise IS to beg the question, so there's no contradiction in what I said. Stop lying now. Consider:

    If the eternal does not exist, then life has no meaning.
    The eternal does not exist.
    Therefore, life has no meaning.

    As I've shown, you offered nothing but mere-assertion support for the first premise, and then attempted to shift the burden onto me to disprove it -- not the way this works. Either argue for your claim or not, but don't pretend to and act like you really did.

  121. KStret says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 02:04 PM:

    Spencer,
    You are simply ignoring what I am saying and repeating the same thing over and over again.

    "Once again, this is false. You fail to distinguish natural evils from moral evils."

    How many time are you going to repeat this? How many times are you going to pretend I did not say the argument dictates that bad things do not happen? That covers natural evil.

    How many times are you going to attempt separate natural suffering from suffering caused by other humans? The AOE doesn't distinguish natural evil from moral evil. There two sides of the same coin.

    "Eliminating natural evils would not necessarily entail eliminating natural events. If God made earthquake harmless to humans (for example), that would not entail eliminating human free will."

    You are making a strawman argument and you are proving my point for me. No one can die from an earth quake? That dictates no one can die from natural events.

    You totally ignored my points about free will and natural human suffering. Can a surfer die from a shark attack? No. Either God has to take away the surfer's free will or stop sharks from attacking people.The AOE is ridiculous.


    "The AOE is not committed to the claim that if God exists, people can't be harmed. Again, you fail to distinguish harm that's gratuitous from harm that's non-gratuitous."

    Spencer. You are making another strawman argument. You proving my points for me again. The world that the AOE dictates, is a world were people can not die from gratuitous natural suffering and from gratuitous suffering caused by humans.


    "No, they are not. Sometimes they become intertwined, but not always. Consider cases where people become infected by fatal diseases. In many of those cases, the suffering they experience can only be attributed to natural causes."

    You keep proving my points. Bad things can't happen. I'm sorry...gratuitous bad things can happen. People can not die from a natural fatal diseases? That goes into the question of what caused that disease to begin with.

    What if a disease is caused by poor eating habits? God should dictate a person's diet? What if the disease comes from an insect bite like malaria from a trip to Africa? Should God stop the person from going to Africa?

    You have a two fold strawman argument. You are making a strawman argument by attempting to isolate natural suffering from suffering caused by humans and only addressing natural suffering.

    You are viewing natural suffering in a simplistic one dimensional way. On top of that, you are pretending the only argument I am making is of free will. I have clearly stated that the AOE also dictates that no bad things can happen.

    Then you accuse me of conflating gratuitous and non-gratuitous suffering. The subject that I started out on was the AOE. You stated that the argument of evil starts out from gratuitous suffering. If I am only talking about the AOE, I am talking about gratuitous suffering. If I am dealing with the AOE, I can not be conflating gratuitous and non-gratuitous suffering because as you said the AOE only deals with gratuitous suffering.

    "My only point in quoting Craig was to show that he accepts the following claim: If gratuitous evil exists, then God doesn't exist. Before, you disputed that Craig accepted this, but I proved otherwise.'

    He believes that gratuitous evil does not exists. All events are a result of God's sovereignty. That doesn't mean that he accepts the second premise. He can hold that position and believe that evil and God's existence is not contradictory.

    Just because he argues from one premise, does mean he accepts the other. You ignored that there is another christian point of view that believes that gratuitous evil does exist. This makes the argument more of two theistic points of view. On top of that, you keep ignoring that the two premises are contradictory.

    "[i´] If God were to exist, then E would be an instance of objective, gratuitous evil.
    [ii´] If God were to exist, then objective, gratuitous evil would not exist.Craig accepts (ii) and rejects (i), and (ii) is logically equivalent to the above claim in bold."

    If an argument's two premises are contradictory, do you have a valid argument?

    "I can easily prove the contradiction. But first: will you now acknowledge that Craig himself accepts the above bold claim, contrary to what you said before?"

    His rationale is that God's sovereignty makes gratuitousness evil nonexistent, not that God and evil are contradictory. As I said before, other Christians have the opinion gratuitousness evil does exist.

    I missed where you clarify, whether or not you are talking about objective gratuitous evil. Are you saying that evil is objective or subjective?

    I also missed your response to my argument about conflating earth with heaven and humans who are alive with dead people who are in a spirit form.

    You didn't deal with the fact this was about the moral argument not about the AOE.

    You didn't deal with the contradictory premises of the argument you keep posting.

    You did not deal with the rationale that God's sovereignty makes gratuitous evil nonexistent. That doesn't mean the reasoning he uses in selecting the first premise are on the grounds that evil and God are contradictory. He did say other christian philosophers use the argument that God and gratuitous evil are not contradictory.


    "This isn't an argument, but a just another question-begging assertion."

    No it's not. Do you disagree with Nietzsche?

    All you going to do in your response is repeat the same things, that I have just addressed. Why do you think that is a valid rebuttal?

  122. KStret says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 02:06 PM:

    Spencer,
    Are you a student in college ?

  123. Spencer says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 04:21 PM:

    KStret,

    The more you write, the most confused you become. It was your contention that if God eliminated all natural evils, then there would be no free will. For now, I'm only going to respond to this contention.

    I pointed out (repeatedly) that natural evils are distinct from moral evils; unlike the latter, the former do not result from human free will, but natural processes (e.g. earthquakes, diseases, etc). Hence, eliminating natural evils would not entail eliminating human free will. For instance, making earthquakes harmless to humans would not entail depriving humans of the ability to choose to hurt each other. Do you agree? If so, we can move on to your other point. If not, we're staying right here.

    "He believes that gratuitous evil does not exists. All events are a result of God's sovereignty. That doesn't mean that he accepts the second premise. He can hold that position and believe that evil and God's existence is not contradictory. "

    Remarkable. I even quoted a passage where Craig himself explicitly endorses the following claim: If gratuitous evil exists, then God doesn't exist. Craig wrote: "But the Christian who would accept [ii´] will reject [i´] because the evil, though objective, wouldn’t be gratuitous [u]
    [u](my favored view)."[/u]

    In other words, Craig's accepts [ii'], which claims: "If God were to exist, then objective, gratuitous evil would not exist."

    The above bold claim is logically equivalent to [ii']. Will you now acknowledge that Craig himself accepts the above bold claim, contrary to what you said before? Yes or no?

    "His rationale is that God's sovereignty makes gratuitousness evil nonexistent, not that God and evil are contradictory."

    By endorsing the above bold claim, Craig DOES think gratuitous evil and God are contradictory, which is what I've been saying all along.

    "No it's not."

    Yes, it most certainly is. Claiming that evolution + atheism = "law of the jungle is the default position" is not an argument - just another question-begging assertion.

  124. Thomas says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 08:41 PM:

    robaylesbury,

    My parents started attending Church when I was three. I was raised United Pentecostal Church which denies the trinity. My parents divorced when I was 16. I stopped having anything to do with organized religion at that time. I never stopped believing in God, but I thought that he did not care. I got involved in martial arts. This led me to Zen and the code of bushido. Eventually martial arts became my religion. I did not get into mysticism; I was more interested in the power of the mind to make the body perform in hand to hand combat. I joined the Navy. The events of 9-11 started the change in my life. I was in the Navy pulling security details when I was a technician. I began to pay attention to politics. I started asking is there any meaning to life? Does God see what is happening? It was more a desire to know than some sort of despair. The Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses began to visit the house I was renting. I always let them in. I decided that I should read the Bible all the way through to see what it said. It made since to me. It was at this time that I began attending a Baptist Church in the town that I lived in. I have been actively involved in Church ever since then.

  125. KStret says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 09:49 PM:

    Spencer,
    "It was your contention that if God eliminated all natural evils, then there would be no free will/"

    There is the same strawman argument yet again. What did I say ALSO SAY, Spencer? That no bad things can happen and that would include natural suffering. Make the same argument again... can you guess what I am going to say?

    "I pointed out (repeatedly) that natural evils are distinct from moral evils; unlike the latter, the former do not result from human free will, but natural processes (e.g. earthquakes, diseases, etc). Hence, eliminating natural evils would not entail eliminating human free will."

    You are making the same strawman argument, attempting to isolate natural suffering, ignoring suffering caused by other humans, and attempting to remove free will from natural suffering.

    If there is a flood and people are attempting to escape and have to choose which way to go, God should make them go the right way. Natural suffering just shouldn't happen or kill people which proves the point I have been making all along about the AOE.

    "Remarkable. I even quoted a passage where Craig himself explicitly endorses the following claim: If gratuitous evil exists, then God doesn't exist. Craig wrote: "But the Christian who would accept [ii´] will reject [i´] because the evil, though objective, wouldn’t be gratuitous [u]
    [u](my favored view)."[/u]In other words, Craig's accepts [ii'], which claims: "If God were to exist, then objective, gratuitous evil would not exist."

    Again, this is not a valid argument. By picking one premise, it doesn't mean he endorses the atheist argument of the other premise. Favoring a premise doesn't mean that he thinks gratuitous human suffering is contradictory to God's existence.

    What did Dr. Craig say? He said he rejects the premise,"because the evil, though objective, wouldn’t be gratuitous" Why isn't it gratuitous? Because in his view of God's sovereignty there is no gratuitous suffering. It doesn't exist.

    "So a person can reject a premiss either because he thinks God can permit gratuitous evil or because he thinks the evil permitted wouldn’t be gratuitous."

    Both are Christian arguments. They are two different christian view points on God's sovereignty and explaining human suffering. It is not a valid atheist argument.

    Why is answering really simple questions so hard for you?

    Do you disagree with Nietzsche and was he question begging too?

    I missed where you clarify, whether or not you are talking about objective gratuitous evil. Are you saying that evil is objective or subjective?

    I also missed your response to my argument about conflating earth with heaven and humans who are alive with dead people who are in a spirit form.

    You didn't deal with the fact this was about the moral argument not about the AOE.

    You didn't deal with the contradictory premises of the argument you keep posting.

    You did not deal with the rationale that God's sovereignty makes gratuitous evil nonexistent. That doesn't mean the reasoning he uses in selecting the first premise are on the grounds that evil and God are contradictory. He did say other christian philosophers use the argument that God and gratuitous evil are not contradictory.

    Is this the part when you pick one point, refuse to address my point on the issue, repeat the same question over and over again, act as if I haven't answered the question, and refuse to go any further until I agree with you?

  126. Thomas says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 09:50 PM:

    robaylesbury,

    Thank you for making this point. I do not mean to imply that Dawkins wants to be immoral. I think that most atheists want to do what is right. Many atheists have made great contributions to humanity. But even in this quote Dawkins lends aid to my argument. He says, “Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature… Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to." Biological nature will be of little help, and we have to go against our genes.

  127. KStret says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 11:42 PM:

    Ray,
    Rather than having large posts with many Biblical quotes I am going to attempt to sum this up into a shorter post. Also it is off the topic.

    What did Paul tell the prison guard when he asked how to be saved? He said simply believe in Jesus. He did not say,"it depends if you are preordained to be saved or not. If you are preordained you're golden and if not you are up a creek without a paddle." He did not say it is up to God and there is nothing you can do.

    " It simply means that God wants us to seek him, but human responsibility does not imply moral or spiritual ability. I submit that if any of us are truly seeking after god, it is because God is seeking after us."

    If God causes us to seek him, why would want us to seek him? All he needs to do is make us seek him.

    " This verse simply states what man must do to be saved "

    If God causes man to seek God,man can do nothing. It's all up to God who he chooses and who he doesn't choose. God literally pleads with sinners to repent and be saved. If he causes them to do so, why would he plead with them?

    " I did not do so because Calvinists do not believe and teach that "we don't choose God with free will". We must believe freely and willingly (free acts of men)but the problem is that spiritually dead, blind, hostile don't want anything to do with the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1, Romans 8:7)and will not willingly and freely choose to believe, unless the Spirit of God enables them to do so"

    How can you believe freely and willing, if God, causes you to believe it? If something or someone makes you have the will, that is not free will. If God causes us repent and believe the gospel, there is no free will. However, there are many examples in the bible that show we have free will.

    Dr. Craig points out:
    "Francis Turretin held that a careful analysis of Scripture leads to two indubitable conclusions, both of which must be held in tension without compromising either one:

    that God on the one hand by his providence not only decreed, but most certainly secures, the event of all things, whether free or contingent; on the other hand, however, man is always free in acting and many effects are contingent. Although I cannot understand how these can be mutually connected together, yet (on account of ignorance of the mode) the thing itself is (which is certain from another source, i.e., from the Word) not either to be called in question or wholly denied (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 1: 512).

    Turretin affirms without compromise both the sovereignty of God and human freedom and contingency; he just doesn’t know how to put them together."
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8111

    Also, there are apparently varying ideas of Calvinism. I don't know what perspective you are coming from. There is a popular "youth minister" who usually has a fohawk, is about 35 or 40 years old and dresses like he is 20 (I can't think of his name) said something about neo-Calvinism or something like that.

    "All scripture must be interpreted in their historical and biblical context."

    You also need to put yourself in the mind set of the people of that period. Why would you limit your view point and depend on the interpretation of a handful of theologians? They could be right on one issue and wrong on another.

    "I don't want to engage in the Calvinism-Arminianism debate. I have done so on numerous occasions. One thing we certainly can agree on is that man must believe the Gospel freely and willingly to be saved, but what he is able to do in and of himself is altogether another topic for discussion on which many theologians and Christians have expressed wide disagreement."

    Agreed....

  128. KStret says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 11:53 PM:

    Thomas
    "This led me to Zen and the code of bushido. Eventually martial arts became my religion. I did not get into mysticism; I was more interested in the power of the mind to make the body perform in hand to hand combat."

    Has your view of Zen/the power of the mind changed since becoming a christian?

  129. Thomas says on Mar 27, 2011 @ 11:59 PM:

    Spencer,


    You said that I have that I have only made assertions. Then you say that my arguments are question begging. Which is it? Have I made assertions, or is my arguments question begging. If I have made question begging arguments then I have not made assertions because assertions are not arguments. You contradict yourself in this then accuse me of lying. You know that I have made arguments. You just think that my arguments are question begging.

    Please, let’s consider one of my arguments. (Contradicting your assertion that I have not made an argument, only assertions.)

    If the eternal does not exist, then life has no meaning.
    The eternal does not exist.
    Therefore, life has no meaning.

    This is a hypothetical argument using the logical rule of modus ponens (affirming the antecedent). Symbolically the argument looks like this:

    If A, then B.
    A.
    Therefore, B.

    For my argument let “the eternal does not exist” be E, and “life has no meaning” be L.

    If E, then L.
    E.
    Therefore, L.

    Here is an example from http://www.brainmass.com/homework-help/philosophy/other/232334.
    “SAMPLE: Chris and Nick would be very happy if the Browns beat the Steelers. The Browns did beat the Steelers, so Chris and Nick are very happy, indeed.

    Valid Modus Ponens (Affirming the Antecedent)

    11. Madeline must have known the material for the test, because if a person knows the material, that person will get an A, and Madeline was one of the students that got an A.
    Madeline did get an A, Madeline did know the material. Valid”
    Notice that these arguments are not said to be question begging. They follow the same form that my argument does. For my argument to be question begging the word “if” would have to be missing.

    My argument is valid. But is it true? The Christian defeats this argument by saying that the eternal does exist. But on the view of atheism the eternal does not exist. Can life have meaning if there is not eternal? Your response is “The first premise is precisely what's at issue, and you provided no justification for it.” But this is not a counter argument. To argue against this you must affirm the following: If the eternal does not exist, life is meaningful. Are you willing to argue for it?

    Let me start by quoting Nietzsche again: “Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of "world history," but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.”

    Nietzsche is not making an assertion here. He is making an argument. On his view, life arose by chance in a universe that just some how exists. In this universe life began on a small planet called Earth. When life began on earth the universe was already trillions of years old. I think the beginning of the universe is now estimated at 13 billion years. Life began several hundred million years ago. As Richard Dawkins has said all of this has happened by, “blind physical forces.” Human society began roughly 10 thousand years ago. At some point the human race will go extinct. All of the great castles and palaces and skyscrapers and temples that people have built will be empty. It gets worse. All of the great structures that man has built will erode and eventually be destroyed by the forces of nature. At some point, due to entropy, the universe will not be able to support life. Nietzsche is arguing that in a world like this it is not only wrong to say that life has meaning, it is arrogant to do so.

    William Lane Craig has said, “The same is true of the human race. Mankind is a doomed race in a dying universe. Because the human race will eventually cease to exist, it makes no ultimate difference whether it ever did exist. Mankind is thus no more significant than a swarm of mosquitoes or a barnyard of pigs, for their end is all the same. The same blind cosmic process that coughed them up in the first place will eventually swallow them all again.
    And the same is true of each individual person. The contributions of the scientist to the advance of human knowledge, the researches of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the sacrifices of good men everywhere to better the lot of the human race--all these come to nothing. This is the horror of modern man: because he ends in nothing, he is nothing.”

    All of this will end. There will be no memory, no evidence, nothing. If atheism is true there is no reason to say that there is any difference between my life and the life of a bug. It appears that my first premise and my argument are true.

    If you say that this is only making an assertion or not supporting my argument then you are being intellectually dishonest.

    Now, I ask you again, how can life have meaning in a universe that is meaningless?

  130. Thomas says on Mar 28, 2011 @ 12:38 AM:

    KStret,

    Yes. I think that God has given us a powerful tool in our minds. I also think that most people do not know what they are physically capable of. But I do not think that the mind and the human body have the capabilities that I once thought that they did. I cannot focus my ki and prevent my bones from breaking, or other things like that.

  131. Rayburne F. says on Mar 30, 2011 @ 05:35 AM:

    If the eternal does exist, then life has meaning.
    The eternal does not exist.
    Therefore, life has meaning.

    That is a much better argument and reasoning according to scripture: "for in Him (Christ) we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring" (Acts 17:28). Unless, of course, you believe you are just the product of meaningless chance (nothing or a non-entity because it has no being) and just dancing to your own DNA; in which case, God 's Word says, "The fool has said in his heart, There is no God" (Psalm 14:1). He is a fool because he denies or suppresses the overwhelming evidence that God exists (see Romans 1:20; Romans 3:15, 19; Psalm 19:1).

  132. Rayburne says on Mar 30, 2011 @ 05:52 AM:

    Ooops, that should have read "If the eternal does exist, then life has meaning. The eternal does exist. Therefore, life has meaning" By the way, I never called anyone a fool but God's Word does because,like Anthony Flew, one can rightly conclude that God exists based on the evidence alone.

  133. Rayburne says on Mar 30, 2011 @ 07:04 AM:

    Of course, belief in the existence of God apart from His divine disclosure (revelation) of Himself in Jesus Christ will not make any difference in Flew's life here, or in the hereafter (which Flew does not believe exists anyway):"You believe that there is one God. Even the demons believe and tremble" (James 2:19). Satan and his wicked angels also know and believe God exists, even know Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), but they will never submit to His authority and sovereign rule.

    God, Who will have the final word, has declared in His Word (Psalm 14:1) that anyone who deliberately says in his heart, there is no God (in spite of the evidence)is a fool--and that includes Richard Dawkins and his kind of followers (the blind leading the blind).

    That is why I am no more impressed with Dawkins than I am with other famous atheists before him--whose last words are recorded:

    Caesar Borgia: "While I lived, I provided for everything but death; now I must die, and am unprepared to die."

    Thomas Hobbs political philosopher "I say again, if I had the whole world at my disposal, I would give it to live one day. I am about to take a leap into the dark."

    Thomas Payne the leading atheistic writer in American colonies: "Stay with me, for God's sake; I cannot bear to be left alone ... O Lord, help me! O God, what have I done to suffer so much? What will become of me hereafter? "I would give worlds if I had them, that The Age of Reason had never been published. 0 Lord, help me! Christ, help me! …No, don't leave; stay with me! Send even a child to stay with me; for I am on the edge of Hell here alone. If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one."

    Sir Thomas Scott, Chancellor of England "Until this moment I thought there was neither a God nor a hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am doomed to perdition by the just judgment of the Almighty."

    Voltaire famous anti-christian atheist: "I am abandoned by God and man; I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months' life." (He said this to Dr. Fochin, who told him it could not be done.) "Then I shall die and go to hell!" (His nurse said: "For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night long he cried for forgiveness.")

    Robert Ingersoll: "O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul!" (Some say it was this way: "Oh God, if there be a God, save my soul if I have a soul, from hell, if there be a hell!")

    David Hume, atheist philosopher famous for his philosophy of empiricism and skepticism of religion, he cried loud on his death bed "I am in flames!" It is said his "desperation was a horrible scene".

    Napoleon Bonaparte, the French emperor, and who, like Adolf Hitler, brought death to millions to satisfy his greedy, power-mad, selfish ambitions for world conquest: "I die before my time, and my body will be given back to the earth. Such is the fate of him who has been called the great Napoleon. What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ!”

    Sir Francis Newport, the head of an English Atheist club to those gathered around his deathbed: "You need not tell me there is no God for I know there is one, and that I am in His presence! You need not tell me there is no hell. I feel myself already slipping. Wretches, cease your idle talk about there being hope for me! I know I am lost forever! Oh, that fire! Oh, the insufferable pangs of hell! …Oh, that I could lie for a thousand years upon the fire that is never quenched, to purchase the favor of God and be united to Him again. But it is a fruitless wish. Millions and millions of years will bring me no nearer the end of my torments than one poor hour. Oh, eternity, eternity forever and forever!...Oh, the insufferable pangs of Hell!”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GHhtTqtTTo

    Charles IX was the French king who urged on by his mother, gave the order for the massacre of the French Huguenots, in which 15,000 souls were slaughtered in Paris alone and 100,000 in other sections of France, for no other reason than that they loved Christ. The guilty king suffered miserably for years after that event. He finally died, bathed in blood bursting from his veins. To his physicians he said in his last hours: "Asleep or awake, I see the mangled forms of the Huguenots passing before me. They drop with blood. They point at their open wounds. Oh! That I had spared at least the little infants at the breast! What blood! I know not where I am. How will all this end? What shall I do? I am lost forever! I know it. Oh, I have done wrong."


    David Strauss, leading representative of German rationalism, after spending a lifetime erasing belief in God from the minds of others: "My philosophy leaves me utterly forlorn! I feel like one caught in the merciless jaws of an automatic machine, not knowing at what time one of its great hammers may crush me!"

    In a Newsweek interview with Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of Josef Stalin, she told of her father's death: "My father died a difficult and terrible death. . God grants an easy death only to the just. . At what seemed the very last moment he suddenly opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane or perhaps angry. . His left hand was raised, as though he were pointing to something above and bringing down a curse on us all. The gesture was full of menace. . The next moment he was dead."

    Anton LeVey author of the Satanic Bible and high priest of the religion dedicated to the worship of Satan. Some of his famous quotes are “There is a beast in man that needs to be exercised, not exorcised”. His dying words were "Oh my, oh my, what have I done, there is something very wrong…there is something very wrong….”

    Please read all of the above.

    P.S. There is no judgment and mockery here in my comment. The quotes are stated matter-of-fact to reveal the disturbing truth about those who spent the whole life mocking Christianity and belief in God. When a well reknowned atheist screams out on their death-bed "only now I know that God is REAL, for I am in torment", it gives us no pleasure or joy for that lost soul. Now, please, I am not really interested in arguments disputing these recorded last words of dying atheists (or disputing the scriptures) because they don't change the truth of the Word of God: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Whether or not you believe the Bible is God's Word (notwithstanding the false claims of other sacred writings to be God's Word--another debate))I would not mock it, if I were you. God bless.

  134. KStret says on Mar 30, 2011 @ 02:37 PM:

    When I first started looking into Christianity, one of the first debates I watched was with Dr. Craig. When he made the the moral argument, at first I didn't think it was a very strong argument. After reading more about it and watching atheist twist into a pretzel to get around the argument, I changed my mind.

    At least the earlier atheists were intellectually honest about the philosophical ramifications of their beliefs.

    Look at the arguments made in here. Pointing out the ramifications of an atheist philosophy is question begging. Yet, that same person will not answer a simple question about when they are talking about gratuitous evil if they mean objective or subjective evil or if Nietzsche was question begging too.

    All morals are relative but a society/ culture that has X values is more evolved than one that doesn't. That is just a different way of saying that a culture that has X values is objectively better than one that doesn't.

  135. KStret says on Mar 30, 2011 @ 02:56 PM:

    Thomas,
    "Yes. I think that God has given us a powerful tool in our minds. I also think that most people do not know what they are physically capable of."

    I had a friend who had a mental block of bench pressing two plates on each side(225lb). He couldn't do it once but he could do more than 225 for several repetitions if he used smaller plates. In that respect it is purely mental.

    There are Tibetan monks who can go out in to freezing cold weather wearing basically a sheet and survive the night. They have also been able to go into cold weather wrapped in a wet blanket and caused themselves to sweat.

    My personal opinion is there is the power of the mind and a power that might come from somewhere else.

  136. To Aylesbury says on Mar 30, 2011 @ 03:50 PM:

    Here is a genuine account of David Hume's final hours.

    http://digital.nls.uk/scotlandspages/timeline/17762.html

    You will find that it differs from Ray's account. Once again, a small amount of checking from non Christian sources would have been advantageous here.

    And that is the only one I took time to check. I scented the proverbial rat as I am familiar with Hume's last hours.

  137. Robaylesbury says on Mar 30, 2011 @ 04:09 PM:

    http://az-az.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=5584629838&topic=39242&post=742497

    Ray, guess what? That last spiel of yours was a complete cut and paste taken directly from this link. The least you could have done was be honest about it.

  138. Robaylesbury says on Mar 30, 2011 @ 04:28 PM:

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?page=paine&section=hall_of_fame

    No deathbed conversion for Thomas Paine, either. I've also tried to find out about Robert Ingersoll but have not found a source yet. If I give Ray the benefit of the doubt that would still mean that 66% of his claims lack empirical verification. This is very unfortunate. I can only conclude that Christian sources have been referred to, with no additional research undertaken.

  139. robaylesbury says on Mar 31, 2011 @ 01:25 AM:

    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=FB0D15F63F5414728DDDAB0A94DF405B8985F0D3

    I have now found a newspaper article concerning Robert Ingersoll. Congratulations Ray. 100% failure rate for three examples I have addressed. What I find really distasteful is that you have sought to distort history to advance your own propagandist agenda. That is nefarious.

  140. Rayburne F. says on Mar 31, 2011 @ 10:57 AM:

    Perhaps you would like to check these out, too.

    http://users.belgacom.net/gc674645/grave/lastword.htm

    Alexander the Great,
    who had conquered land from Macedonia to Pakistan, died at the age of 33, with his boots on, weeping:
    "There are no more other worlds to conquer!"

    Sir Thomas More:
    English Catholic statesman who was beheaded in 1535 on orders of Henry the Eight, for his convictions, because he wouldn’t endorse Henry's divorce:
    "See me safe up (onto the scaffold); for my coming down, let me shift myself"

    Anne Boleyn, Protestant wife of Henry the Eight.
    Before being decapitated on orders of her husband Henry the Eight, she quipped:
    "The executioner is, I believe, very expert; and my neck is very slender"
    Henry the Eighth:

    When his turn came:
    "So, now all is gone—Empire, Body and Soul!"
    Hannibal,

    Carthagan leader and enemy of Rome who crossed the Alps on elephants.
    "Let us now relieve the Romans of their fears by the death of a feeble old man."

    Roman Emperor Augustus:
    "Did I play my role well? If so, then applause, because the comedy is finished!"

    Dr. William Hunter
    "If I had strength to hold a pen I would write down how easy and pleasant a thing it is to die."

    Stonewall Jackson
    "Let us pass over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees."

    Keats, English poet
    "Severn - I - lift me up - I am dying - I shall die easy; don't be frightened - be firm, and thank God it has come."

    Isaac Newton, great Christian Scientist,
    "I don't know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

    Palmeston
    "Die, my dear doctor? That is the last thing I shall do."
    Duke of Monmouth (to his executioner)
    "There are six guineas for you, and do not hack me as you did my Lord Russell."
    Malesherbes, to his priest uttering last rites
    "Hold your tongue! Your wretched chatter disgusts me."

    Leonardo da Vinci:
    Italian inventor and artist, died in 1519
    "I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have"

    Niccolo Machiavelli:
    Florentine diplomat and political philosopher, died in 1527
    "I desire to go to Hell and not to Heaven. In the former I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks and apostles"

    William Somerset Maugham:
    British author, died in 1965
    "Dying is a very dull and dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it"

    Gen. John Sedgewick:
    Union commander in the American Civil War, shot at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in 1864 while looking over a parapet at the enemy lines
    "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist..."

    Churchill:
    English Statesman and co-conspirator of the selling out of Eastern Europe at Yalta to Russia & Communism, together with fellow Freemasons Roosevelt and Stalin, who wrote in his autobiography: "I could have prevented the war!" (W.W.II) He said at his death bed:
    "What a fool I have been!"

    Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary leader:
    "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something…"

    Georges Danton,
    To His Executioner, during the French Revolution:
    "Show my head to the people, it is worth seeing."

    James Rodges,
    Murderer, on being asked for a final request before a firing squad:
    "Why, yes! A bulletproof vest."

    Friedrich Nietzsche, pernicious philosopher who preached "God is dead"
    Nietzsche died in spiritual darkness, a babbling madman. On a wall in Austria a graffiti said, "God is dead, --Nietzsche!"
    Someone else wrote under it, "Nietzsche is dead! --God."
    (See picture for proof!)

    Oscar Wilde,
    Sipping champagne on his deathbed:
    "And now, I am dying beyond my means."

    H. G. Wells:
    "Go away...I'm all right."

    Ludwig von Beethoven:
    "Friends applaud, the comedy is over."
    Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian:
    "I am about to, or I am going to, die; either expression is used."

    Thomas Jefferson:
    "This is the fourth…"

    John Adams:
    "Thomas Jefferson?--Still surv.... "

    Jean Paul Sartre, existentialist
    "I failed!"

    Emily Dickinson:
    "The fog is rising…"

    The prophet Mohammed:
    "O Allah! Pardon my sins. Yes, I come."

    Nurse Cavell
    Before facing a German firing squad in 1915,
    "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."

    Henry Ward Beecher:
    "Now comes the mystery."

    Karl Marx, born in a Christian Jewish family, originator of Communism.
    On his deathbed surrounded by candles burning to Lucifer, screamed at his nurse who asked him if he had any last words:
    "Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough."

    Lawrence Oates:
    British explorer, who sacrificed himself in 1912 in an attempt to save his starving companions during Scott's expedition to the Pole:
    "I am just going outside and I may be some time"
    Crowfoot (American Blackfoot Indian Orator):
    "What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."

    Cesare Borgia, statesman:
    "I have taken care of everything in the course of my life, only not for death, and now I have to die completely unprepared."

    Cardinal Mazarin:
    "Oh my poor soul, what is to become of you? — Where do you go?"

    Thomas Hobbes, English Philosopher:
    "It's my turn, to take a leap into the darkness!

    David Hume, the Atheist,
    He cried: "I am in flames!" His desperation was a horrible
    scene.

    Voltaire, the famous skeptic,

    Voltaire died a terrible death. His nurse said: "For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night long he cried for forgiveness."
    Napoleon Bonaparte,

    About Napoleon, Count Montholon wrote: "The Emperor died forsaken by all, on this horrible rock. (St. Helena) His death struggle was awful!"

    Thomas Edison, American inventor
    "It is very beautiful over there."
    Goethe, German Poet
    "Light, More light!"

    William of Orange, first King of the Netherlands, as he was shot by an assassin,
    "My God, my God, have mercy on me, and on my poor people!"

    John Newton b. 1725. d. 1807.
    Originally a slaver, he had a dramatic mid-ocean change of heart that led him to turn his slave ship around and take the people back to their homeland. He became a Presbyterian minister and preached against the slave-trade, inspiring William Wilberforce who brought about the abolition of slavery in Britain and its colonies. He is most famous for having authored the words to the hymn "Amazing Grace".
    As he neared his end, exclaimed, "I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon."
    Heinrich Heine,

    Heine, the great Skeptic, later changed his attitude. In the postscript to his poem collection "Romancero" (30.9.1851) he wrote: "When you are on your deathbed, you become more sensitive and you would like to make peace with God and the world… Poems, that only contained halfway reproaches against God, I delivered over to the flames in a fearful zeal. It is better, that the verses burn than the verse maker… I returned to God as a prodigal son, after I fed the swine with the Hegelians for a long time… In the theology I have to accuse myself of retreating, because I returned to a 'personal God'."
    As he died: "God will forgive me. It's his job."

    Sir Thomas Scott,
    Scott, once president of the English Lower House said: "Up until this time, I thought that there was no God neither Hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am delivered to perdition by the righteous judgment of the Almighty."
    #

    Stalin at the table at his Dacha! Swetlana sits on the lap of mass-murderer Beria!
    Stalin (seen here lying together with Lenin in the Kremlin!) who was responsible for the murder of at least 80 million Russian and Ukrainians, if not many millions more—most of them Christians! The greatest hushed up holocaust and genocide in human history, never mentioned by the media, as it is not "politically correct!"
    About Stalin's death struggle, his daughter Swetlana Allilujewa, who in March 1953 was called to the dying dictator in his dacha in Kunzewo, stated: "Father died terribly and difficult. God gives the righteous an easy death."

    A Chinese Communist, who delivered many Christians to their execution, came to a pastor and said: "I’ve seen many of you die. The Christians die differently. What is their secret?"

    Stephen the first Christian Martyr, as he was being stoned to death by the Farisees, assisted by Saul, who later met Jesus in a vision and changed into the Apostel Paul:
    "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"

    Notice, that the last words of David Hume are the same as I gave previously. But why did you stop at David Hume. Surely, with such a host of notorious atheists to choose from, if I really wanted to be dishonest, then I would not have done so with only one (David Hume) of all those listed?

    Sure I cut and pasted this list, which is what you (and many others) do (and have done on many occasion, as I have discovered in my past discussion of various topics on this blogg with you, Rob..). But then,the allegation of dishonesty dishonesty is typical of you, Rob.., as I (and others) have discovered.

    I said, I was not interested in arguments disputing these last words of dying men, nor did I state that I was being dogmatic. I was not. there may be some variations in the last words of some of those listed. You can check them out for yourself. Indeed, I want all the readers to do so. My point, as the list below shows, is that they constitute sufficient evidence to show that the death of those who spend their whole life mocking God is very disturbing, especially for the Christian who does not doubt the reality of God's judgment and wrath upon the unbelieving and rebellious sinner.

    When compared to the last words of famous believers who died in the Lord (i.e.John Newton, Stephen, the first Christian martyr, etc.), there is distinct and vast difference--a deep confidence and assurance of eternal glory and safety, not a deep sense of gloom and doom; for example, the words of John Newton: "I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon."

  141. Rayburne says on Mar 31, 2011 @ 11:13 AM:

    Correction, I should have said copied and pasted, not cut and pasted. I honestly don't know what Rob..means by "cut and pasted" ,because I have always copied and pasted information from various sources (so has Rob..and many other contributers to this blog and website)--which is what i did with the list above. Check it out for yourself. If you find last words of dying men on other sources that are somewhat different, it has nothing to do with my honesty, but the realiability of the source in question. Thus far, I have no reason to believe these sources to be unrealiability, or inaccurate.

  142. Rayburne F. says on Mar 31, 2011 @ 08:04 PM:

    Caesar Borgia: "While I lived, I provided for everything but death; now I must die, and am unprepared to die."

    Thomas Payne: Thomas Payne the leading atheistic writer in American colonies: "Stay with me, for God's sake; I cannot bear to be left alone ... O Lord, help me! O God, what have I done to suffer so much? What will become of me hereafter? "I would give worlds if I had them, that The Age of Reason had never been published. 0 Lord, help me! Christ, help me! …No, don't leave; stay with me! Send even a child to stay with me; for I am

    Robert Ingersoll: "O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul!" (Some say it was this way: "Oh God, if there be a God, save my soul if I have a soul, from hell, if there be a hell!")

    I typed in “secular sources for the dying words of the following to check out the following that Rob.. Called into question. Compare to what I copied from Facebook (not "cut and pasted," as Rob..alleged, but "copied and pasted".


    WORDS OF DYING ATHEISTS
    by Kent E. Heaton Sr.

    as originally published in the November 14, 1999 edition of The Trenton Bulletin

    Caesar Borgia: "While I lived, I provided for everything but death; now I must die, and am unprepared to die."


    Thomas Payne: "Stay with me, for God's sake; I cannot bear to be left alone ... O Lord, help me! O God, what have I done to suffer so much? What will become of me hereafter?" No indication of any deathbed repentance here


    Robert Ingersoll: "O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul!" (Some say it was this way: "Oh God, if there be a God, save my soul if I have a soul, from hell, if there be a hell!")


    No dishonesty here, Rob.

  143. robaylesbury says on Apr 1, 2011 @ 03:34 AM:

    No dishonesty, Ray. I just feel you need to cross reference your sources more robustly.

  144. robaylesbury says on Apr 1, 2011 @ 07:44 AM:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/john_remsburg/six_historic_americans/chapter_1.html

    Some more information on Paine. I really don't think we can lend an ounce of credibility to Ray's claim here.

    Concerning Ingersoll, there is little in the way of verification to support Ray's position.

    On the plus side, at least he didn't invoke Darwin and Lady Hope.

  145. Rayburne says on Apr 1, 2011 @ 04:59 PM:

    Rob.. you post a few websites, as if that discredits the sources I listed. No Rob.. concerning Ingersoll, there is little in the way to support your position, and who cares whether he invoked Darwin or not. Not I! I could not care less about one's philosophical justification for not believing in God, be it evolution or a belief that the aliens did it. Boris Pasternak, the author of Dr. Zhivago, once wrote: "I am an atheist who has lost his faith" There is no paradox, no contradiction here. As Allister McGrath stated in his book "Intellectuals Don't Need God and Other Modern Myths": "Atheism, like all worldviews, is a matter of faith. It rests on the belief (not the proven certainty)that there is no God. There is no proof--philosophical or experimental--that there is no God. The atheist's decision is a matter of faith, even if he/she fails to realize that this is the case. When it comes to the big things of life--like believing in the Christian faith--we live on the basis of probability , not certainty. But Christian faith rests on history, reason, experience, and revelation, a formidable quartet that, that like the four legs of a well-balanced table, gives security and stability to the life." of faith"

  146. robaylesbury says on Apr 2, 2011 @ 12:55 AM:

    Ray, you say that "Christian faith rests on history, reason, experience, and revelation"

    Many posit that it flounders for those self same reasons.

  147. Rayburne F. says on Apr 2, 2011 @ 10:15 AM:

    Rob.. we have been over this many times before and I have given you and the readers plenty of evidence why I believe the Bible is true--from history, from reason,and from experience and revelation. I don't have to do so here again. It doesn't really matter to me how many posit what you say because I (and other Christians) are in excellent company with millions whose Christian faith rests on history, reason, experience and revelation, many of whom were strong skeptics and critics of the Bible and the Christian faith before their conversion to Christ. The Bible and Christianity, more than any other major religion, has withstood for over 2000 years the assaults of the biggest guns, both within and outside the church, including scientists and theologians alike, and emerged victorious and unscathed. Of course, there will always be those (the Bible indicates far more unbelievers than believers-asee Matthew 7:13-14) who are ignorant of biblical truth and why Christians believe what they do. I have met many in my time and you don't have to talk to them very long before it becomes obvious that, like many, they have not even read the Bible and tried to understand why Christians believe what they do. They have not really done their homework when it comes to the Bible and the evidence for the Christian faith. Not surprisingly, many don't believe simply because they don't want to believe (It has nothing to do with evidence). Scripture indicates same (1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinth 1:18; Ephesians 4:17-18).

    Now, Rob.., as one of many who has validated the Christian faith through reason, experience (including divine revelation), study (both academic research (historical, scientific, archaeological, etc.) and theology (I hold a MTS from Toronto Baptist Seminary), I know the Bible is God's Word and am not one bit surprised at the skepticism and unbelief, even mockery of others, especially what comes out of Holywood. You have only to turn on the religion channels on TV at Easter time to know what I mean. Seldom do you see a balanced program or presentation representing both liberal and conservative scholars. This, unfortunately, will be the case (it will get much worse before it gets better) until Christ returns in glory and power as the righteous Judge of all the earth and establishes an everlasting kingdom.

    Now, Rob.I know you will disagree with most, if not all, I have said. And I respect your right to do so. Of course, I am praying for you to become a believer, but one thing you can be thankful for--I will never try to force my views upon anyone who disagrees with me. That is also one of the principles and teachings of Christianity, which regrettably cannot be said for many who live in Islamic countries today. God bless--or do we need to be reminded?

  148. John says on Apr 22, 2011 @ 11:45 AM:

    For those struggling with, should we desire the natural disaster to occur or not, it seems to me you are assuming a single un-nuanced desire. Our desire as Christians should reflect that of God.
    God desires even commands man to follow the path that leads to salvation and blessings. He warns against the consequences that will result from disobedience. He mourns the disaster that befalls the disobedient. He rejoices in the forgiveness and salvation of those who repent as a result of the disaster that befalls them. Etc.

  149. Rayburne F. says on Apr 22, 2011 @ 08:50 PM:

    I agree with John that our desire as Christians should reflect that of God--and we know that is the case when we obey the Word of God, which reveals God's desire and will. Nothing of what I've said contradicts this assertion or truth, for which scripture teaches there are consequences for both disobedience and obedience to its commands, one of which, of course, is forgiveness and salvation for all who repent of sin and place their faith in Christ as a result of disasters that befall them. But let us be clear about "following the path that leads to salvation," as John puts it because there are many ideas and beliefs out there today that are not biblical and do not lead to salvation, but damnation (John 3:16-18; John 3:36; Acts 4:12).

    The Bible plianly teaches that the path that leads to salvation is a Person, Jesus Christ (John 14:6; 1 John 5:11-12; Acts 4:12); that is to say, salvation is found through faith in Christ, such saving faith being a penitent faith (repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin)--one that turns away from (or forsakes) sin and rests/trusts solely and completly in the merits of Christ's redemptive work (His death, burial and resurrection) to save sinners,and not in any righteousness or merit of our own(Titus 3:5; John 14;6; Ephesians 2:8-10), lest some out there wrongly think that there is something they can do( be it baptism, good works, obedience to the teachings of some church, etc.) to add to, or merit salvation in some way other than what Christ has done to provide redemption by His "once for all" Sacrifice for sin on Calvary's cross and resurrection (Hebrews 7:25-27; 10:10-12; Ephesians 2:8-10).

    And please, I don't think there is any need to engage in a debate about tradition versus the Bible, or the church being the sole authority, not the Bible. I have debated this topic before and stated clearly and thoroughly why I believe that tradition (though it has its place) does not trump the plain teaching of the Word of God, as many [wrongly] believe (see "Pope Benedict on Justification"). God bless.

  150. Rayburne F. says on Apr 22, 2011 @ 09:49 PM:

    Of course, the Bible plainly teaches that the faith that leads to salvation is not an empty (or fruitless) faith, but rather an obedient faith--one that produces (or evidences itself in) good works (Ephesians 2:10).

    Of course,good works are important, but let's be careful to place good works in its proper place (where scripture places such).

    "Good works" are the evidence, result or effect of salvation, or saving faith (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-10) and not the cause; that is to say, we do not do good works in order to be saved, or in order to earn our salvation in some way, but rather because we are (have been) saved, and want to show, by our faith and obedience in all things (including good works), our gratitude for what God, in Jesus Christ, has graciously done in our lives to save us.

    If there was anything you, or I, could do to merit or earn our salvation in any way, contrary to Matthew 1:21; Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5; Acts 16:31; John 1:12-13, and many other scriptures; then Christ's "once for all" (Hebrews 7:27), sinless Sacrifice in the sinner's place (2 Corinthians 5:21) was not only unnecessary, but indeed a failure, because it was insufficient, in and of itself, to save anyone.

    Anyone who can't see that does not understand grace and the scriptural teaching on what it means to be saved "by grace" and not by works(Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5; Romans 9:16; John 1:12-13, esp. verse 13, etc.). Take care.

  151. Rayburne F. says on Apr 24, 2011 @ 08:51 PM:

    I must say I was quite surprised this Easter to find that there was at least some attempt to bring some balance to religious TV programming dealing with historic evidence for the resurrection; noteably, Day of Discovery, which featured several reputable conservative scholars (i.e. Dr. Paul Maier,prolofic author and world renown expert on first century biblical history), who covered the extra-biblical (secular) sources of documentation for the Historic Jesus and for the historicity and realiability of first century canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), as opposed to second and third century non-canonical gnostic gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Judas, etc. Dr. Maier also discussed the historic evidence extensively and convincingly for the resurrection on 100 Huntley Street (Crossroads Christian television).

  152. Gaffa says on May 4, 2011 @ 04:45 PM:

    Craig's main problem is he demands "people of the atheistic view" to provide counter-evidence for everything he says, because what he says should somehow be considered the template for what is true, and he is often very far from what can be objectively called "probably true" but is deceptively enthusiastic about his beliefs.


    We know about tectonic plates, we know about infrared rays and the sun, we know a great deal about how nature functions, what we DON'T know is whether there is a supernatural deity controlling everything. For the millionth time:

    There are no solid evidence for the existence of a supernatural deity.

    You can look at the world and assume. But we do not know there is a supernatural dictator ruling it all, such a thing simply MUST be proven to exist with good evidence, Craig disregards the existence of fairies, the tooth ferry and Allah, what evidence can he show me that makes me unable to disregard the christian version of god?

    Craig says that since we don't know what an alternative universe would be like we are out of our depths trying to discuss it, yet he feels he can discuss a completely different form of being that works above natural laws, well any laws, and a being which can only be presumed to exist but has to be presumed to exist without evidence, you should believe it because you want to?


    It is late and my writing hands are tired, but I need to say this: I accept facts that are supported by evidence, show me something that makes the bible, or any holy book, appear as anything other than a storybook written by people with rich imaginations, and I may change my mind. Believe me on this, changing my mind is really that easy.

  153. Thomas says on May 5, 2011 @ 01:13 PM:

    Gaffa,

    How much reading have you done on the different evidences and arguments for the existence of God. This whole websight is dedicated to the subject. Are you an empiracist? Why do you reject these arguments. Your statment is vauge. What is your specific objection?

  154. Rayburne F. says on May 5, 2011 @ 10:36 PM:

    Gaffa says: "show me something that makes the bible, or any holy book, appear as anything other than a storybook written by people with rich imaginations, and I may change my mind. Believe me on this, changing my mind is really that easy."

    If you are truly sincere, Gaffa, I hope you will read this long comment. I have read longer comments on this blog, believe me!

    Your comment designed to ridicule and mock the Bible and the God of the Bible reminds me of a line from Bobby Burns poetry about “the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind.” Usually I find that such comments come from people who, for the most part, know very little about the Bible except what they hear from popular sceptics . There is a book I would recommend you get and read, if indeed you are sincere and not just looking to win an argument. I’m not interested in a debate. Believe me I’ve debated plenty of guys like you (nothing new). They usually parrot the same old worn-out arguments I’ve heard again and again. The book is “A Skeptic’s Search for God: Convincing Evidence for His Existence by Ralph O. Muncaster, 2002, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402.

    Ralph O. Muncaster, hard-core atheist with an engineering background (now adjunct professor at Vanguard University in the area of business and administration ), loved to set up and ridicule Christians about their faith, until one day he accepted the challenge of a friend to sincerely research the Bible in the same way he had criticized it--to honestly investigate the Bible and the facts of modern science and he would find that it is 100% accurate. Ralph arrogantly relied that he only needed two weeks in a good library to prove his friend was wrong. Well, the short of the story is that after the two weeks were up, he was stunned by what he discovered. Fact after fact--from biology, history, archaeology, physics, etc. lined up with the Bible. He embarked on an intense personal search over the next three years that took him from disbelief to faith in God and the Jesus of the Bible.

    I personally believe that people who have already made their mind up (usually based on what they hear from other unbelievers ) are not really interested in discovering the truth, but merely looking to win an argument or debate. But, in your case, I will give you the benefit of the doubt this one time. I don’t usually do this, but if a search for the truth could convince a hard-core atheist and skeptic, like Ralph Muncaster, then there is hope for you. Remember, I am not interested in a debate, as I already indicated. There is nothing I can say by way of evidence that can avail as much to convince you of the truth as the truth of God’s Word revealed to you personally by the Holy Spirit (whether or not you believe in the supernatural). I would therefore humbly request first that you pray that God, even if you doubt his existence would graciously reveal the truth to you about the Bible and Jesus Christ. If you don’t want to do that, that is okay (Ralph did not pray such a prayer, but was nevertheless convinced of the Bible as God’s inerrant, inspired and infallible Word).

    First, a note about the Bible. But I would ask that you examine the evidence thoroughly and honestly with an open mind (that it could possibly be true). Please read all of this information, if you are sincere. The supreme Author of the Bible is God, the Holy Spirit.Yes, God disclosed His divine revelation to humanity through finite men, but this does not mean that the Bible is flawed. God did not dictate His message to the 40 or more writers of His revelation (they did not act like machines) but rather He sovereignly guided or superintended the various writers in the whole process of transcription and transmission of His divine Word to convey under the influence or power of the Holy Spirit exactly what He wanted them to convey concerning His divine will, so that in truth, the Bible is not man's word, but God's Word. If God could not convey through human instruments His divine revelation and will for humanity in written form without error, then He would not be God. What evidence is there that the Bible is indeed the divinely inspired, inerrant written Word .


    First, the Bible has no equal in terms of its formative influence in the evolution of our legal systems, our morals, our concept of human rights, and our educational institutions. It answers questions as old as time itself: Where did I come from? Where am I going? Where can I find personal meaning, fulfillment and transformation in life?
    Archaeologists, when in Israel, still rely on the Bible to determine the location of tell sites which reliance has proved to be remarkably accurate. Historians have long acknowledged the accuracy of place names and events recorded in the Bible despite so-called “higher criticism” and skepticism. In fact, the Bible is now a standard historical text for archaeologists in the Middle East, Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Macedonia.

    Second,no classical scholar would doubt the authenticity and general integrity of Caesar’s history of the Gallic wars (58-50 B.C.), although its manuscript authority rests on nine or ten copies dating 1,000 years after his death; yet over 4,000 copies of the original Hebrew Old Testament and about 24,000 copies (Greek, Armenian, Latin, Slavic, Ethiopic, etc.) of the original autographs of the New Testament alone exists today.

    Third, there are over 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah that were precisely fulfilled and could only be fulfilled by the life of Jesus Christ, many made hundreds of years before His birth. For example, Psalm 22:16-18: “A band of evil doers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all of my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” can be recited to virtually anyone on earth and they will conclude it speaks of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Jews notwithstanding); yet amazingly, Psalm 22, a messianic psalm, was written by King David a thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ at a time when the Jews had never heard of death by crucifixion (their chief means of capital punishment was stoning) and it would be many centuries before a country which utilized death by crucifixion (Rome) would conquer Israel and historically enable the prophecy to be fulfilled. I could give many more but for space.

    Fourth, changing any Old Testament prophecies would have involved an impossible task of changing many scrolls and the memories of tens of thousands of the Hebrew people. The odds of any one person fulfilling the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament are beyond statistical probability without divine intervention.(Very important) Biblical historians and palaeographers (who study ancient writings) have long refuted any notion that these incredible prophecies were written after the first advent of Christ and thus, recorded history after the fact. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls, consisting of some 900 manuscripts and including a complete scroll of the entire book of Isaiah that is 1000 years older than any other surviving manuscript, as well as all books of the Tanakh (Jewish or Hebrew Scriptures) except Ester (with multiple copies of most books), were written more than 200 years before the first advent of Christ–as indicated by both radiometric dating and palaeography (the study of ancient writing)–thus precluding such arguments.

    Sir William Ramsey, one of the greatest archaeologists of all time, spent 30 years of his life trying to disprove the New Testament, especially Luke’s writings. After much intensive research with many expecting a thorough refutation of Christianity, Ramsey concluded that Luke was one of the greatest historians of all time and became a Christian based on his archaeological findings.
    Finally, no other than Simon Greenleaf himself, the famous Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University and one of the greatest legal minds in America, upon intensive legal examination of the testimony of the apostles to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, concluded that the resurrection of Christ was one of the best supported events in history according to the laws of legal evidence administered in courts of justice. After examining the evidence from a judicial perspective, Lord Darling, a former Chief Justice of England, concluded that “there exists such overwhelming evidence , positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world would fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true. Tom Anderson, former president of the California Trial Lawyers Association and co-author of the Basic Advocacy Manual of the Association of Trial Lawyers in America, wrote, ” It is irresistibly noteworthy that nowhere in the historical account of the trial, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, or in any “ancient documents’ are any witnesses, documents, or accounts set forth which question the historical fact that Jesus Christ was crucified and the historical fact that He was Resurrected from the dead. Therefore, I, as a trial lawyer, would have to advise my clients who retained me to prove the truth or hoax of the trial, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus that all witnesses and all documents and all historians reveal it to be the truth.”

    But someone says the Bible was written thousands of years ago. And we're heading into the 21st century! We've seen man go to the moon. We've seen mankind take great strides in conquering the hidden mysteries of the universe. The Bible was written thousands of years ago by men with such limited knowledge.

    With their limited knowledge, what could they possibly have known?
    I'M GLAD YOU ASKED . . .

    Luke 17:30, "Even thus shall it be IN THE DAY when the son of man is revealed. (vs 31) IN THAT DAY . . . (vs 34) I tell you, IN THAT NIGHT . . . " Nobody in Luke's day thought it could be day and night at the same time! They thought the earth was flat! Luke was written around 65 A.D. How did Luke know something that the scientists didn't know until the 16th century?

    Isaiah 40:22, "It is he that sitteth upon the CIRCLE OF THE EARTH." How did Isaiah know in 700 B.C. the earth is round? The scientists of Isaiah's day thought the earth was flat. They didn't discover the earth is round until the early 1500s when Magellan sailed around the world. How did Isaiah know something over 2000 years ahead of science?

    Job 26:7, ". . . and hangeth the earth upon NOTHING." During the time of Job, it was believed a god named Atlas held the earth on his shoulders! Nobody believed the earth "hangeth upon NOTHING!" Job is the oldest book in the Bible! Written over 3500 years ago! How did Job know something that was IMPOSSIBLE to know during his day?

    Genesis 2:7, "And the Lord God formed man of the DUST OF THE GROUND, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul." Surely, you don't take Genesis 2:7 seriously? Do you? November 1982, Reader's Digest had an article titled How Life on Earth Began. It stated that according to scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center the ingredients needed to form a human being can be found IN CLAY. The article said, "The Biblical scenario for the creation of life turns out to be NOT FAR OFF THE MARK."(Reader's Digest, November, 1982 p.116) No, it's "not far off the mark" - it's right on it! Scientists have laughed at the possibility of Genesis having any scientific credibility whatsoever - and yet, the more we learn, the more we find it to be SCIENTIFICALLY CORRECT!

    Psalm 8:8, ". . . whatsoever passeth through the PATHS OF THE SEAS." After reading Psalm 8:8, Matthew Maury, a U.S. Naval officer, set out to locate these curious "paths in the seas." He discovered the oceans have paths which flow through them. He became known as the "pathfinder of the seas". How did David (the writer of Psalms) know, over 2,000 years ago, there were "paths in the seas"? David probably never even saw an ocean! HOW DID HE KNOW?

    Ecclesiastes 1:7, "All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again." How did the writer of Ecclesiastes know the water cycle of condensation and evaporation? The sun evaporates water from the ocean, water vapor rises and becomes clouds. This water in the clouds falls back to the earth as rain, collects in rivers, and makes its way back to the ocean. This wasn't known until Galileo in 1630! How did the writer of Ecclesiastes know this in 1000 B.C.? 2500 YEARS AHEAD OF SCIENCE!

    Leviticus 15:13, "And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in RUNNING WATER." God said to wash the infected flesh in RUNNING WATER. Science didn't discover that until two men named Pasteur and Koch in the late 1800s. Doctors were washing their hands in a bowl of water and spreading the germs like wild fire. It wasn't until the invention of the microscope and the science of bacteriology that doctors started washing under RUNNING WATER. Leviticus was written around 1490 B.C. SCIENCE WAS ABOUT 3000 YEARS BEHIND! Isn't it embarrassing how science always lags about 2000 years behind that Amazing Book!

    Job 38:19, "Where is THE WAY where light dwelleth?" How come Job didn't say where is THE PLACE where light dwelleth? Because light is always moving. How did Job know something in 1500 B.C. that science didn't find out until Einstein? How can the men who wrote that Amazing Book, with their limited scientific knowledge - BE SO FAR AHEAD OF SCIENCE?

    Ecclesiastes 1:6, "The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again ACCORDING TO HIS CIRCUITS." How did the writer of Ecclesiastes know the wind traveled within circuits? How did he know something that the aerologists and meteorologists are just now discovering? THINK ABOUT IT! How can these men, with their limited knowledge thousands of years ago, be so far ahead of science?

    Proverbs 6:6-8, "Go to the ant. . . gathereth her food in the harvest." Life's Nature Library "The Insects" (p.163) commenting on Proverbs 6 reads, "One of the entomological puzzles of the last century concerned this observation by Solomon. There was no evidence that ants actually harvested grain. In 1871, however, a British naturalist showed that Solomon had been right after all. . ." How did Solomon know that in 1000 B.C.? How did Solomon CLEARLY, detail a scientific FACT, that was IMPOSSIBLE for him to know in 1000 B.C.?

    Proverbs 17:22, "A merry heart doeth good like a MEDICINE." An article in The Birmingham News, titled Laughter: Prescription for Health, said, the LATEST medical evidence reveals that, "At some point during laughter, your body issues A PRESCRIPTION from the pharmacy in your brain." How did the writer of Proverbs know that - 3000 YEARS AHEAD OF MEDICAL SCIENCE?

    Leviticus 17:11, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood." That's the most accurate, scientific statement ever written about the blood!

    It is the blood that carries on all the life processes of the body.
    It is the blood that causes growth, builds new cells, grows bone and flesh, stores fat, makes hair and nails.
    It is the blood that feeds and supports all the organs of the body. If the blood supply be cut off from an arm, that arm will immediately begin to die and rot.
    It is the blood that repairs the body. It is the blood that clots wounds, that grows new flesh, new skin and even new nerves.

    It is the blood that fights disease. When they give you a vaccine against a disease, they give you a shot into your blood stream.

    For thousands of years, doctors treated people by a practice called "bleeding." They thought illnesses could be cured by removing blood. In 1799, less than 200 years ago, George Washington was literally bled to death. They bled poor George four times, the last time they took over a quart of his blood! They didn't know, but they were literally draining away his life by removing his blood. It wasn't until the early 1900's that a man named Dr. Lister discovered that the blood provides the bodies immune system - THE LIFE OF THE FLESH IS IN THE BLOOD!

    The Birmingham Post Herald, February 26, 1988, told the story of Mike Thomas. Mike was working at a construction site when he fell 70 feet. As he was falling, a cable wrapped around his arm and severed his hand a few inches above the wrist. A fellow worker carried his severed hand to the hospital. Because of serious internal injuries, doctors couldn't at that time reattach Thomas's hand. Instead, they attached his hand to blood vessels on his abdomen wall to "keep it alive". Two months later, the doctors removed it from his abdomen and reattached it to his arm. According to the report, UAB was the first in the nation to perform such a task! Exactly what the Bible said in 1490 B.C.! Keep feeding that hand blood, and it'll stay alive - the LIFE of the FLESH is in the BLOOD!

    Don't you find that odd? What Moses wrote in 1490 B.C., the brightest minds man can produce, are just now discovering! How can that Amazing Book, written thousands of years ago, by men with such limited knowledge, be so far ahead the best mankind can produce in 6,000 years?

    To realize how Amazing that Book is; compare what the scientists taught when that Amazing Book was written. They believed lightning bolts were missiles from the gods. The Vedas (Hindu sacred book) taught, to get rain, tie a frog with his mouth open to a tree and repeat some magic words - and presto - rain! The Egyptians believed stars were the souls of dead people who were now gods. The Greeks believed a god named Atlas held the earth on his shoulders. Some taught the earth sat on the backs of several large (very large!) elephants. And the elephants were resting on the back of a large (very, very large!) turtle! And the turtle? He was resting on a large (very, very, very large!) snake! And the snake? Well, you get the picture.

    But, that Amazing Book, contains nothing so foolish! Despite what was taught and believed during the writers day! That Amazing Book says, "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. . ." (Acts 7:22) And yet, the "superstitions and mythology" of Egypt are not in the books written by Moses! In fact, after 6,000 years of "discoveries and advancements" - that Amazing Book, can stand beside the most advanced medical, scientific, and historical books available!

    One subject that separates that Amazing Book from any other book is prophecy. No other book forecasts the future as this one does. The prophecies are precise. Many times they're hundreds, even thousands of years in advance. And without exception - they are fulfilled - to the smallest detail!

    A prophecy in Ezekiel 26:1-6 reads, ". . . the word of the LORD came unto me, saying. . . Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee. . . And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. . . "

    Three years later, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon surrounded Tyrus. But before he came, the people of Tyre escaped to an island, a half-mile offshore. After thirteen years of siege, the Babylonians "broke down her walls" and "broke down her towers", destroying the city on the mainland. By that time, the escaped people had re-built the city of Tyre on the island. And because Nebuchadnezzar had no navy, the city on the island remained untouched. Even though Nebuchadnezzar, destroyed the city, he didn't fulfill Ezekiel's prophecy. But 250 years later, Alexander the Great took the rubble Nebuchadnezzar's destruction left, and they "scraped her dust", the wood, rock and stubble from the destroyed city, and they built a causeway, like "the top of a rock". They marched on the rubble-causeway, into the island and destroyed it. And if you travel to site of old Tyre today - you'll see fisherman "spreading their nets" to dry on what was Tyre! Exactly, as Ezekiel prophesied around 586 B.C.! Over 2500 years before it happened!

    There were over 300 prophecies fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. That Amazing Book has many that were written thousands of years before Jesus was born! Precise, detailed prophecies such as; where He would be born (Micah 5:2), how He would be born, (Isaiah 7:14) how He would die (Psalm 34:20), etc. And history has PROVEN, without ANY doubt whatsoever, they were fulfilled EXACTLY as that Amazing Book had prophesied, hundreds of years earlier!

    In the book, Science Speaks, mathematician and scientist, Peter Stoner, applies the rules of probability to these prophecies. The chances of just eight of these three-hundred prophecies being fulfilled are one in 10 to the 17th power - that's 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000! In the book, Professor Stoner, illustrates:

    Let us try to visualize this chance. . . Suppose that we take 10 to the 17th power silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly. . . Blindfold a man and tell him. . . he must pick up one silver dollar . . . What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man. (Science Speaks, pp. 106 - 107)

    Professor Stoner, then took 48 of these over 300 fulfilled prophecies. The chances of 48 being fulfilled are 1 in 10 to the 157 power - that's 1 in 10 with 157 zeros! Here's how he illustrates:

    Let us try to visualize it. . . The electron is about as small an object as we know of. It is so small that it will take 2.5 x 10 to the 15th power of them laid side by side to make a line, single file, one inch long. If we were going to count the electrons in this line one inch long, and counted 250 each minute, and if we counted day and night, it would take us 19,000,000 years to count just the one-inch line of electrons. . . With this introduction, let us go back to our chance of 1 in 10 to the 157th power. . . Let us make a solid ball of electrons, extending in all directions from the earth to the distance of six billion light-years (the distance that light will travel at 186,000 miles a second in 6,000,000,000 years). Have we used up our 10 to the 157th power electrons? No, we have made such a small hole in the mass that we cannot see it. Now, one of these electrons was marked and thoroughly stirred into the whole mass; blindfold your man and ask him to find the marked electron. (The electron, in fact, is so small that it cannot be seen with a powerful microscope.) To the extent, then, that we know this blindfolded man cannot pick out the marked electron, we know that the Bible is inspired. (Science Speaks, pp 109 - 111)

    And in case you think Professor Stoner's statistics are exaggerated or without scientific substance the "Foreword" of the book, Science Speaks includes an acknowledgement by the prestigious American Scientific Affiliation stating, "The mathematical analysis included is based upon principles of probability which are thoroughly sound and Professor Stoner has applied these principles in a proper and convincing way."

    Professor Stoner concludes, "This is not MERELY EVIDENCE. It is PROOF of the Bible's inspiration by God - PROOF DEFINITE that the universe is not large enough to hold the evidence."

    What about archaeological evidence? I did a lot of research in this area and presented a great deal of archaeological evidence that collaborates the truth of scripture in a previous debate on a topic (Two recent archaeological Discoveries) on this blog. Here is the complete debate (or you can find it on Craig’s blog).

    But, as I already recommended, please get Muncaster’s book and read it. It presents far more evidence, especially scientific, than I have time (and space) for here.

    Rayburne F. says on Jan 28, 2010 @ 07:53 PM:
    As I have said before (see “A Muslim Comes to Christ,“ July 2009 on this website), archaeology is the greatest defender of the accuracy of the Bible. Archaeologists, when in Israel, still rely on the Bible to determine the location of tell sites which reliance has proved to be remarkably accurate. Historians have long acknowledged the accuracy of place names and events recorded in the Bible despite so-called “higher criticism” and skepticism. In fact, the Bible is now a standard historical text for archaeologists in the Middle East, Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Macedonia. The great names of Archaeology, including Dr. Flinders Petrie, Dr. William Albright, Dr. J.O. Kinnaman, Ira M. Price, Professor Sayce of Oxford, and Sir William Ramsey have gone on record to say that archaeology confirms the accuracy and reliability of the Bible. Dr. William Albright, who was not a friend of Christianity and was probably the foremost authority in Middle East archaeology in his time, said this about the Bible: “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament.”
    Let me quote Dr. J.O. Kinnaman, who spent some 40 years in research work in and about Palestine: "Let me say that of all the thousands of artifacts that have been discovered by the archaeologist, varying from an inscribed jug handle to the complete edition of the Synoptic Gospels, not one thing has ever been discovered that contradicts or denies any word of the Bible, but the artifacts, without fail confirm, illustrate, illuminate, and fill in the gaps of narrative events and historical continuity."
    Seeing this topic relates to a tremendously important archaeological find concerning Nazareth, what about Nazareth? Skeptics have been asserting for a long time that Nazareth never existed during the time when the New Testament says Jesus spent his childhood there. Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, by the apostle Paul, by the Talmud (although 63 other Galilean towns are cited), or by Josephus (who listed 45 other villages and cities of Galilee, including Japha, which was located just over a mile from present-day Nazareth. Dr. James Strange of the University of South Florida is an expert on this area, and he describes Nazareth as being a very small place, about 60 acres, with a maximum population of about 480 at the beginning of the first century. Strange notes that when Jerusalem fell in A.D. 70, priests were no longer needed in the temple because it had been destroyed, so they were sent out to various other locations, even up into Galilee. Archaeologists have found a list in Aramaic describing the 24 "courses" or families, of priests who were relocated, and one of them was registered as having been moved to Nazareth. This shows that this tiny village did, in fact, exist at that time. In addition, there have been archaeological digs that have uncovered first-century tombs in the vicinity of Nazareth, which would establish the village's limits because by Jewish law burials had to take place outside the town proper. Two tombs contained objects such as pottery lamps, glass vessels, and vases from the first century. Renowned archaeologist Jack Finegan, in a book published by Princeton University Press, stated, "From the tombs...it can be concluded that Nazareth was a strongly Jewish settlement in the Roman period. McRay exclaims: "There has been discussion about the location of some sites from the first century, such as exactly where Jesus' tomb is situated, but among archaeologists there has never really been a big doubt about the location of Nazareth. The burden of proof ought to be on those who dispute its existence." Now we have further confirmation of its existence.

    We are living in a day when the stones are crying out in corroboration of the truth of Holy Scripture. Once, “higher critics” scoffed at the idea that Abraham ever lived in Ur of the Chaldees or that indeed such a man as Abraham ever existed. They said he was a mythical person only. But now the very city of Ur has yielded her secrets to the spade of research. In fact there is ample evidence that a high type of civilization existed then just as Genesis 11 tells us. Dr. Driver of Oxford University, used to teach that the first five books of the Bible (the Torah) could not possibly have been written by Moses because, as he said, writing was unknown for hundreds of years after the time of Moses. But Christ said (Mark 10:5): “Moses wrote of me.” Who was right? Christ or Dr. Driver? The stones have cried out. The Tel-El-Amarna tables, discovered in northern Egypt , carry cuneiform inscriptions which date back to the very days of Moses. Carbon-dating gives us remarkable accuracy. In fact, the British Museum has a huge black stone containing the laws of King Hammurabi, and he lived 500 years before Moses. 2 Kings 18:14 tells us that Sennacherib, King of Assyria, conquered the cities of Judah and forced King Hezekiah to pay a tribute of “300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold.” Archaeologists have found a clay cylinder on which King Sennacherib wrote that he had forced the Jewish King to pay him 800 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold. The critics of God’s word said, “At last we have proof of a mistake in the Bible.” But, sad for the enemies of God’s truth, we now know that the Assyrians used a different standard for calculating silver talents than the Jews did and 300 Jewish talents exactly equal 800 Assyrian talents. Remember the story given in Daniel 5, of Belshazzar’s feast and the writing on the plaster of the wall just before judgment fell (Daniel 5: 25-28) . The critics used to say that Nebuchadnezzar was king at that time, that this whole story was a myth and that no such person as Belshazzar ever existed. Once again Archaeology has defended the veracity of God’s Word.

    A cylinder of clay has been unearthed containing a prayer of Nebuchnezzar for his son Belshazzar who was reigning conjointly with his father as king of the nation.
    Again, in Genesis 14 the Bible speaks of Abraham’s victory over Chedorlaomer and five Mesopotamian kings. For years, the critics stated that these accounts were fictitious and many people discredited the Bible. In the 1960s, however, the Ebla tablets were discovered in northern Syria. The Ebla tablets are records of its history . Thousands of tablets have been discovered. What is important is that many of these tablets make a reference to all five cities of the plain proving the Genesis 14 account to be accurate. Another example is the story of Jericho recorded in the book of Joshua. For years skeptics thought the story of the falling walls of Jericho was a myth. Then, archaeologist discovered the ancient city of Jericho. In the 1930s, Dr. John Garstang made a remarkable discovery. He states, “As to the main fact, then, there remains no doubt: the walls fell outwards so completely, the attackers would be able to clamber up and over the ruins of the city.” This is remarkable because city walls fall inward, not outward. The March 5, 1990 issue of Time magazine featured an article called, “Score One For the Bible.” In it, archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon claimed Jericho’s walls had fallen suddenly. Many scholars feel that this was caused by an earthquake which may also explain the damming of the Jordon. Additionally, grain was discovered, which shows the city was conquered quickly. As to the the fact of the grain found in an area long unoccupied, Jericho was heavily fortified (both with soldiers, weapons and food) and defended for the very purpose of preventing enemy penetration into interior Caanan, it makes perfect sense to me that grain sufficient to last a long time would have been carefully stored and protected and due to the sudden and violent destruction of the walls and defenders of the city, would have most likely been the only thing that would have survived the onslaught (not to forget the condition of the grain that was found there, though unoccupied for a significant period of time). Jericho had so suffered the ravages of time and weather and both amateur and professional excavation have combined to nearly obliterate Jericho's usefulness archaeologically and historically. On the basis of some scarabs of Amenhotep 111, the British archaeologist John Gernstang dated level D at about 1400 B.C. Thus Garstang held to 1400 B.C. as the date of the conquest and the exodus. More recently, however, Kathleen Kenyon, another respected British archaeologist, spent several seasons at Jericho and concluded among other things, that Garstang had misread the evidence and that the Amenhotep scarabs belonged to a later burial. His level D, then, had to be reassigned to about 1300 (Kathleen Kenyon, "Digging up Jericho", New York: Praeger, 1960, p. 42.). If this re-evaluation has caused problems for the early dates proposed for the exodus and the conquest of Jericho (Dr. Eugene H. Merrill, biblical historian, places the occupation of Jericho as early as 7500 B.C.), it has hardly benefited the late dates, since conquest of Jericho in 1300 would place the exodus in 1340. Clearly, this fits no one's position. There is no archaeological sign of any early fourteen century B.C. conquest precisely because the Canaanite cities and towns, with few exceptions, were spared material destruction as a matter of policy initiated by Moses and implemented by Joshua. In other words, signs of major devastation in the period from 1400 to 1375 B.C. would be an acute embarrassment to the traditional view because the biblical witness is univocal that Israel was commanded to annihilate the Canaanite populations , but to spare the cities and towns in which they lived. And the record explicitly testifies that this mandate was faithfully carried out. The only exceptions were Jericho, Ai, and Hazor, the violent nature of their destruction which could help explain why neither Jericho or Ai has yielded valuable chronological clues. The best we can say, then, is that the Jericho evidence is inconclusive and at this point is of little or no value in establishing a chronological or historical framework within which to view the fall of Jericho.

    I could give many more examples of so-called "discrepancies" or incosistences in the Bible that were clearly and thoroughly resolved in favour of the scriptures historicity. I am fully confident that whatever "discrepancy" certain skeptics believe archaeologists have found in respect to Jericho (i.e There is plenty of evidence to call into question the accuracy and reliability of radiocarbon and carbon dating-14 dating--see Dr. Paul Giem's book "Scientific Theology," La Sierra University press, 1997) will also be resolved to collaborate biblical history
    I could give many more examples.
    Finally, in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, consisting of some 900 manuscripts and including a complete scroll of the entire book of Isaiah that is 1000 years older than any other surviving manuscript, as well as all books of the Tanakh (Jewish or Hebrew Scriptures) except Ester (with multiple copies of most books), were written more than 200 years before the first advent of Christ–as indicated by both carbon dating and palaeography (the study of ancient writing). This is tremendously important because they refuted precluded ( and refuted) popular claims that the incredible prophecies of the Bible were written after the first advent of Christ and thus, recorded history after the fact. A comparison was made of the Hebrew Scriptures, as transcribed in the Dead Sea Scrolls, with the oldest (extant) transcription (Bible) written in 900 A.D. This study revealed that the transcription in 900 A.D. was 96 % consistent with the Dead Sea Scroll transcription, the remaining 4% being primarily mistakes in spelling. Time Magazine, August 14, 1989, stated: “The scrolls have also affected Bible translations read by millions of Jews and Christians. The caves contained portions of all books of the Old Testament except ester, including a remarkably complete scroll of Isaiah that is 1000 years older than any surviving manuscripts. Besides clearing up anomalies in several verses, the scrolls have demonstrated the remarkable accuracy with which Jewish scribes preserved the text of the Bible.” Now, this most recent archaeological find of the oldest Hebrew text is once again confirmation of the very ancient dating of these texts and scrolls and their authenticity.

    Sir William Ramsey, one of the greatest archaeologists of all time, spent 30 years of his life trying to disprove the New Testament, especially Luke’s writings. After much intensive research with many expecting a thorough refutation of Christianity, Ramsey concluded that Luke was one of the greatest historians of all time and became a Christian based on his archaeological findings. Dr. Robert Wilson of Princeton, world famous philologist who mastered 28 languages and was at home in 45 languages, one of the truly great scholars, said, “I contend that our text of the Old Testament is presumptively correct, that its meaning is on the whole clear and trustworthy, and that we can as theists and Christians, conscientiously and reasonably believe that the Old Testament as we have it is what it purports to be, and what Christ and the Apostles thought it to be, and what all churches have always declared it to be---the Word of God and the infallible rule of faith and practice.” Please,, no nonsense about conspiracy theories when it comes to the Scrolls. I have heard and read them all: the radical-fringe writings of the Jesus Seminar; the myth-riddled documents and books filled with incredible improbabilities; for example, the second-century Gnostic gospel of Thomas; The Jesus Scroll; the gospel of Judas; The Da Vinci Code; Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls; Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the Tomb of Jesus, etc. In battling the Bible for the minds of men, you will find, as many have done, that you are waging a losing battle. Especially is this true of archaeology, as many skeptics and even renown archaeologists, have found out. As I said, archaeology is the best friend the Bible has because it (the Bible) is true.

    One of the greatest archaeological discoveries that confirmed the truth of the Bible was a huge billboard-type inscription carved on the side of a mountain, discovered by Sir Henry Rawlinson in 1835. It was the work of King Darius of Persia who lived 2400 years ago. It was written in three languages, Persian, Babylonian and Median and became known as the "Behistun Inscription." By careful study of this find, the key was found to hitherto unknown languages. Critics of God's Word used to say that there never was such a nation as the Hittites. Secular history knew nothing of them before this discovery. Now archaeologists know the location of the capital of the Hittite nation and can reconstruct much of their life and customs. And it is all perfectly in accord with what the Bible has to say. The Bible as well as other history books (the Bible among other things is also a history book) record that Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem was not voluntary. Caesar Augustus, a pagan and ruler of Rome, required that all Jews of the House of David (tribe of Judah) travel to Bethlehem for the purpose of taking a census so they could be taxed. This is recorded by one of the greatest historians ever known, Dr. Luke in Luke 2:1-5. In 1923 at Ankara, Turkey, a Roman inscription was discovered that recorded that there were three great censuses initiated during the reign of Caesar Augustus, the middle one occuring in 7 B.C. History records that there were petitions sent to Rome by the Jews protesting that they had to travel this long distance to be counted for this census and worse yet, taxed. Due to this protest there was a delay of approximately three years before the edict was carried out, resulting in the census being taken in 4 B. C. That year is the precise year according to biblical historians and the best studies that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).
    Until 1961 the only historical references to Pontius Pilate were literary. Because he played such a central role in the Crucifixion the question would arise: Did he actually exist? The following was found in Caesarea on a 2x3 foot inscription in Latin which specifically said "Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judae, has presented the Tiberium to the Caesareans," confirming the historicity of Pontius Pilate. There have been thousands--not hundreds--of archaeological finds in the Middle East that support the biblical record. The patriarchs--the narratives about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--were once considered legendary, but now these stories have been increasingly corroborated. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was thought to be mythological until evidence was uncovered that all five of the cities mentioned in Genesis were, in fact, situated just as the Old Testament said. As far as their destruction goes, archaeologist Clifford Wilson said there is "permanent evidence of the great conflagration that took place in that long distant past." Also, every reference in the Old Testament to an Assyrian king has been proven correct; an excavation during the 1960s confirmed that the Israelites could, indeed, have entered Jerusalem by way of a tunnel during David's reign; there is evidence that the world did have a single language at one time, as the Bible says; the site of Solomon's temple is now being excavated; and on and on.
    New discoveries again and again have proved skeptics wrong and confirmed the accuracy of the Bible. I already mentioned the historicity of the Hittite Empire, once thought by the "experts" not to exist. Samuel says that after King Saul's death his armor was put in the temple of Astoroth, who was a Canaanite fertility goddess, at Bethsham, while Chronicles reports that his head was put in the temple of a Philistine corn god named Dagon. Now archaeologists were convinced that the Bible was wrong. They didn't think enemies would have had temples in the same place at the same time. The archaeologists confirmed through excavations that there were two temples at this site, one each for Dagon and Ashtoroth. They were separated by a hallway. As it turned out, the Philistines had apparently adopted Ashtaroth as one of their own goddesses. The Bible was right after all. That kind of phenomenon has happened again and again.
    The noted Roman historian Colin J. Hemer, in The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, shows how archaeology has confirmed not dozens, but hundreds and hundreds of details from the biblical account of the early church. Even small details have been corroborated, like which way the wind blows, how deep the water is a certain distance from shore, what kind of disease a particular island had, the names of local officials, and so forth. Now Acts was authored by the historian Luke. Hemer gives more than a dozen reasons for why Acts had to have been written before A.D.62, or about 30 years after Jesus' crucifixion. Even earlier, Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, which is substantially the same as the other biblical accounts of Jesus' life. So here you have an impeccable historian, who has been proven right in hundreds of details and never proven wrong, writing the whole history of Jesus and the early church. And it's written within one generation while eyewitnesses were still alive and could have disputed it if it were exaggerated or false. You don't have anything like that from any other religious book from the ancient world. The great Oxford University clasical historian A.N. Sherwin-White said, "or Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming" and that "any attempt to reject its basic historicity must now appear absurd."
    Until 1961 the only historical references to Pontius Pilate were literary. Because he played such a central role in the Crucifixion the question would arise: Did he actually exist? The following was found in Caesarea on a 2x3 foot inscription in Latin which specifically said "Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judae, has presented the Tiberium to the Caesareans," confirming the historicity of Pontius Pilate.

    There have been thousands--not hundreds--of archaeological finds in the Middle East that support the biblical record. The patriarchs--the narratives about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--were once considered legendary, but now these stories have been increasingly corroborated. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was thought to be mythological until evidence was uncovered that all five of the cities mentioned in Genesis were, in fact, situated just as the Old Testament said. As far as their destruction goes, archaeologist Clifford Wilson said there is "permanent evidence of the great conflagration that took place in that long distant past." Also, every reference in the Old Testament to an Assyrian king has been proven correct; an excavation during the 1960s confirmed that the Israelites could, indeed, have entered Jerusalem by way of a tunnel during David's reign; there is evidence that the world did have a single language at one time, as the Bible says; the site of Solomon's temple is now being excavated; and on and on.

    The noted Roman historian Colin J. Hemer, in The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, shows how archaeology has confirmed not dozens, but hundreds and hundreds of details from the biblical account of the early church. Even small details have been corroborated, like which way the wind blows, how deep the water is a certain distance from shore, what kind of disease a particular island had, the names of local officials, and so forth. Now Acts was authored by the historian Luke. Hemer gives more than a dozen reasons for why Acts had to have been written before A.D.62, or about 30 years after Jesus' crucifixion. Even earlier, Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, which is substantially the same as the other biblical accounts of Jesus' life. So here you have an impeccable historian, who has been proven right in hundreds of details and never proven wrong, writing the whole history of Jesus and the early church. And it's written within one generation while eyewitnesses were still alive and could have disputed it if it were exaggerated or false. You don't have anything like that from any other religious book from the ancient world. The great Oxford University clasical historian A.N. Sherwin-White said, "or Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming" and that "any attempt to reject its basic historicity must now appear absurd."

    I thought readers on this blog would be interested in some examples of archaeological finds that confirm the accuracy and historicity of the New Testament. Lee Strobel, in his research for his popular book "The Case for Christ" (please read it if you haveen't) consulted McRay concerning a problem that archaeologists have wrestled with for years. Luke said the census that brought Joseph and mary to bethlehem was conducted when Quirinius was governing Syria and during the reign of Herod the Great. The problem is this: Herod died in 4 B.C., and Quirinius didn't begin ruling Syria until A.D. 6, conducting the census soon after that. There seems to be a big gap between the dates. That is, until an eminent archaeologist named Jerry Vardaman found a coin with the name of Quirinius on it in very small writing, or what is called "micrographic" letters. This places Quirinius as proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 B.C. until after the death of Herod, which means, as McRay pointed out, that there were apparently two Quiriniuses. McRay explained, "It's not uncommon to have lots of people with the same Roman names, so there is no reason to doubt that there were two people by the name of Quirinius. The census would have taken place under the reign of the earlier Quirinius . Given the cycle of a census every 14 years, that would work out quite well. Sir William Ramsay, the late archaeologist and professor at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England, had come up with a similar theory. He concluded from various inscriptions that while there was one Quirinius, he ruled Syria on two separate occasions, which would cover the time period of the earlier census. Also, scholars have pointed out that Luke's text can be translated, "This census took place before Quirinius was governing Syria," which would also resolve the problem. While these are plausible explanations, it is well established that censuses were held during the time frame of Jesus' birth and that there is evidence people were indeed required to return to their homeland.

    Throughout the centuries, Christians have wondered about Jesus' rather enigmatic reply to John the Baptist's question in Matthew 11:3 while in prison: "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else? John the Baptist was seeking a straight answer about whether Jesus really was the long-awaited Messiah. Instead of saying yes or no, Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor" (Matthew 11:4-5). Jesus' response was an allusion to Isaiah 35. But for some reason Jesus included the phrase "the dead are raised," which is conspicuously absent from the Old Testament text. This is where 4Q521 comes in. This nonbiblical manuscript from the Dead Sea collection, written in Hebrew, dates back to thirty years before Jesus was born. It contains a version of Isaiah 61 that does include this missing phrase, "the dead are raised." Scroll scholar Dr. Craig Evans has pointed out that this phrase in 4Q521 is unquestionably embedded in a messianic context. McRay explains, "It refers to the wonders that the Messiah will do when he comes and when heaven and earth will obey him. So when Jesus gave his response to John, he was not being ambiguous at all. John would have instantly recognized his words as a distinct claim that Jesus was the Messiah. In essence, Jesus is telling John through his messengers that messianic things are happening. So that answers [John's} question: "Yes, he is the one who is to come."

    I could give many more examples.
    Unlike Mormonism, about whose claims the Smithsonian Institute replied to Dr. John McRay that its {the Smithsonian] archaeologists see "no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book" [of Mormon], archaeology's repeated affirmation of the New Testament's accuracy provides important corroboration for its reliability. Prominent Australian archaeologist Clifford Wilson, who wrote, "Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book.
    I am passionate about this subject and could give much more valuable archaeological evidence confirming the truth of the Bible, but I am sure I have given the reader enough food (examples) for thought. I cannot, however, convince him of such truth because only God can do, by His grace and Spirit, through divine revelation. Many people reject such revelation not because of the evidence (obviously there is overwhelming evidence) but rather because they do not like the implications that believing in the Christ of the Bible must bring; namely, accountability to a loving, Holy and Righteous God Who must punish sin and evil if He is indeed, loving and just or righteous.


    What about the New Testament and archaeology? I did some checking and found these recommended books for reading:
    Jack Finegan, "The Archaeology of the New Testament. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992.
    J.A. Thompson. "The Bible and Archaeology". Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975
    Edwin Yamauchi. "The Stones and the Scriptures." New York: J.B. Lippencott, 1972.
    John McRay. Archaeology and the New Testament, Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker, 1991.
    When scholars and students study archaeology, many turn to John McRay's thorough and dispassionate 432-page textbook "Archaeology and the New Testament. When the Arts and Entertainment Television Network wanted to ensure the accuracy of its "Mysteries of the Bible" program, they called McRay. And when National Geographic needed a scientist who could explain the intricacies of the biblical world, again they called McRay's office at well-respected Wheaton College in suburban Chicago.
    Having studied at Hebrew University, the Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Francaise in Jerusalem, Vanderbilt University Divinty School, and the University of Chicago (where he earned his doctorate in 1967), McRay has been a professor of New Testament and archaeology at Wheaton for more than 15 years. His articles have appeared in 17 encyclopedias and dictionaries; his research has been featured in the "Bulletin of the Near East Archaeology Society" and other academic journals, and he has presented 29 scholarly papers at professional societies. McRay is also a former research associate and trustee of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem; a former trustee of the American Schools of Oriental Research; a current trustee of the Near East Archaeology Society and a member of the editorial boards of "Archaeology in the Biblical World" and the "Bulletin for Biblical research", which is published by the Institute for Biblical Research.
    McRay supervised excavating teams at Caesarea, Sepphoris, and Herodium, all in Israel, over an eight-year period. He has studied Roman archaeological sites in England and Wales, analyzed digs in Greece, and retraced much of the apostle Paul's journeys. McRay's conclusions have been echoed by many other scientists, including prominent Australian archaeologist Clifford Wilson, who wrote, "Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book." I hope you will check out these books,
    Rayburne F. says on Jan 29, 2010 @ 09:47 AM:
    Correction to the above statement:
    "The Tel-El-Amarna tables, discovered in northern Egypt , carry cuneiform inscriptions which date back to the very days of Moses. Carbon-dating gives us remarkable accuracy."
    The latter portion of this statement: "Carbon-dating gives us remarkable accuracy" should be omitted. Based on what I've read and researched, I don't believe that "Carbon-dating gives us remarkable accuracy--which is why I wrote
    "There is plenty of evidence to call into question the accuracy and reliability of radiocarbon and carbon dating-14 dating--see Dr. Paul Giem's book 'Scientific Theology,'La Sierra University press, 1997". Please note this correction. Also, I did not notice that I repeated the paragraph, beginning: "The noted Roman historian Colin J. Hemer, in The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, shows how archaeology has confirmed not dozens, but hundreds and hundreds of details from the biblical account of the early church..." until after I had submitted my final comment. I apologize for the mistake. God bless.
    ==============================
    humphreys says on Jan 30, 2010 @ 03:25 AM:
    I have a suggestion for Rayburne. No-one's going to read a comment that length. Start your own blog man!
    Paul says on Jan 30, 2010 @ 11:20 AM:
    Actually, I read Rayburne's comment thank you very much.
    humphreys says on Jan 30, 2010 @ 01:31 PM:
    I read it too. It's a very interesting and well-researched polemic, as good as some of the stuff on this site. I especially appreciated the stuff about the second Quirinius, which I didn't know about and its bothered me in the past.

    Thanks guys, but it is actually short compared to many of the comments I've read in the past on different topics on this website (blog). Seeing no one had responded to this intriguing topic, I gathered some material I had used some time ago on a different topic related also to an archaeological find, and submitted it. I'm glad you appreciate it and found it interesting. I hope it will stimulate your interest to do further research in this area. I have no desire to start my own blog; on the contrary, it has been some time since I commented on any blog. Take care.

    It was thought that David could not have been a musician since the instruments the Bible says he played were not developed until later. Then, archaeologists discovered the types of instruments used by David in the city of Ur (Abraham’s hometown).--including lyres, flutes, harps, and even a double oboe, dating back to 2500 B.C. Additional discoveries of musical instruments were made in Egypt (dating back to 1900 B.C) and in Palestine (dated about 2000 B.C.), both long before the time of King David (which was about 1000 B.C. (Joseph Free and Howard Vos, Archaeology and Bible History, 1992, pp. 126-127.
    It was believed that domesticated camels did not exist at the time of Abraham (as indicated in Genesis 12:16). Then archaeologists discovered paintings of domesticated camels on the walls of the temple of Hatshepsut (near the city of Thebes, Egypt), which date back to this period (Free and Vos, Archaeology and Bible History, 1992, pp.51-52).
    It was once argued that the account of the strong, bolted doors of lot’s house (Genesis 19: 9-10) was illogical because at that time cities were in a state of decline. Then, archaeologists discovered the biblical city of Kiriath Sepher in the same area, with evidence of walls and strong doors. The construction dates from 2200 to 1600 B.C, the time of Lot (Free and Vos, pp. 56-57).

    God bless you, my friend, as you test the truth of His Word (1 thessalonians 5:21).

  155. robaylesbury says on May 6, 2011 @ 05:38 AM:

    Ray, has it occured to you, even for the briefest moment, that he, like I, may have spent many an arduous hour sifting the evidence, weighing and measuring the claims, the historicity, the morality? I know you're a genuine man, but sometimes when I read you it's surreal. You exude an air of superiority, a lack of nuance, and a dirth of subtlety that makes engaging with you frankly a fruitless excercise.

    If that sounds harsh, forgive me. I just cannot grasp what makes you think that your style of discourse could possibly pursaude anybody of anything other than the dangers of fundamentalism.

  156. Rayburne says on May 6, 2011 @ 09:52 AM:

    Yes, it did Rob..and I'm sure Gaffa can reply for himself. After all, he was the on who made the statement: "show me something that makes the bible, or any holy book, appear as anything other than a storybook written by people with rich imaginations, and I may change my mind. Believe me on this, changing my mind is really that easy."

    Rob..you may think that I "exude an air of superiority, a lack of nuance, and a dirth of subtlety that makes engaging with you frankly a fruitless excercise, but I don't (and I'm sure most of the Christians on this blog) don't conside providing Gaffa with evidence, bit it long in reply to a question (call it challenge) so profound (because belief in God involves the question of one's eternal destiny) to be a "fruitless exercise," as you call it. I responded to Gaffa's question ( as I would to any seeking to know why the Bible is not just a story book or fairy tale ) because I believe he was sincere. I don't think my effort, which was honest and sincere, exudes any air of superiorityin any way.

    From our previous exchanges on different topics on this blog, Rob..your comment: "what makes you think that your style of discourse could possibly pursaude anybody of anything other than the dangers of fundamentalism" is what I would expect from you--and I'm going to answer it. My sincere and open presentation of evidence or "style of discourse has nothing" has nothing to do with persuading anybody of anything. I would hope that Gaffa will follow the evidence to where it leads (which is more than I can say for you, Rob..based on our previous exchanges on different topics), but ultimately,as I have clearly told Gaffa, I cannot persuade him of anything--only the enablement of God, the Holy Spirit, through divine revelation, can accomplish that.

    Rob..coming from you, I have to say honestly, that I take your grievous and serating remarks about me (nothing new for you.) as a compliment. Thank you.


  157. Rayburne says on May 6, 2011 @ 10:07 AM:

    Correction (My eye was bothering me) Here is my comment corrected:

    Yes, I did Rob..and I'm sure Gaffa can reply for himself. After all, he was the one who made the statement: "show me something that makes the bible, or any holy book, appear as anything other than a storybook written by people with rich imaginations, and I may change my mind. Believe me on this, changing my mind is really that easy."

    Rob..you may think that I "exude an air of superiority, a lack of nuance, and a dirth of subtlety that makes engaging with you frankly a fruitless excercise, but I don't--and I'm sure most of the Christians on this blog don't consider providing Gaffa with evidence, be it long in reply to a question (call it challenge) so profound (because belief in God involves the question of one's eternal destiny) to be a "fruitless exercise," as you call it.

    I responded to Gaffa's question (as I would to any seeking to know why the Bible is not just a story book or fairy tale)because I believe he was sincere. I don't think my painstaking effort, which was honest and sincere, exudes any air of superiority in any way.

    From our previous exchanges on different topics on this blog, Rob..your comment: "what makes you think that your style of discourse could possibly pursaude anybody of anything other than the dangers of fundamentalism" is what I would expect from you--and I'm going to answer it.

    My sincere and open presentation of evidence or "style of discourse has nothing" has nothing to do with persuading anybody of anything. I would hope that Gaffa will follow the evidence to where it leads (which is more than I can say for you, Rob..based on our previous exchanges on different topics), but ultimately,as I have clearly told Gaffa, I cannot persuade him of anything--only God, the Holy Spirit, through divine revelation, can accomplish that.

    Rob..coming from you, I have to say honestly, that I take your grievous and serating remarks about me (nothing new for you.) as a compliment. Thank you.

  158. Thomas says on May 7, 2011 @ 12:58 AM:

    Rob,

    Your response to ray has no substance. What specifically is your disagrement with what he wrote?

  159. robaylesbury says on May 7, 2011 @ 07:30 AM:

    Ray,

    I followed the evidence, too. This is why I reject your claims. You are of course free to remain within your own particular enclave of Christianity, subject as it is to the law of diminishing returns.

    Thomas,

    Read the previous engagements Ray and I have had. I won't be repeating myself for your benefit.

  160. Rayburne says on May 7, 2011 @ 02:12 PM:

    Oh, Rob..who is projecting an air of superiority now? No, Rob..it is obvious to all that that is not the reason you reject my claims. Yes,you do follow the evidence, but not to where it leads, as I have shown again and again; indeed, as the readers can plainly see (typical of your previous serrating remarks about me above), when you are confronted with solid evidence you can't refute (very apparent on other discussions we have had) you resort to ad homenin attacks, profanity, ridiculing your opposition, etc.that is, when you run out of canards, straw men arguments, bait-and-switch/ bait-and-equivocate tactics(i.e. substituting fixity of species for fixity of created kinds, operational for historical [origins] science, microevolution for macroevolution, etc.(please, the reader can check it out for himself in our past exchanges)--all of which shows the readers of this blog that you are no more secure or confident in your own little enclave of evolution than the language that evolutionists often use; for example, very likely, probably, most likely, maybe, possibly, almost certaintly, etc.

    Yes, Rob, I said enclave of evolution, since just because it is the position held by the majority or mainstream of the scientific community, does not make it true and trustworthy. As I have said before, "from the goo, through the zoo, to you; molecules to man" evolution will go down in history as the greatest hoax on earth. I may not see it happen in my time, but it will happen, I assure you.

    I'm glad you mentioned our previous engagements, not that I believe Thomas really cares, but if he does, he can check out the following topics, where you and I really have a go at it. So can the other readers. These especially come to mind: Why Are Atheists so Boring? (May, 2009), A Muslim Comes to Christ (July 2009), Truimph of Michale Behe (April 2010), The Pope's Warning on Secularism (Sept. 2010), Let's Suppose (Feb. 2010), The Unbelief of Scientists (May 2011), Defence of Marriage (Feb. 2011), Japan and Natural Evil (March 2011),Wheaton College Divorce Case (May, 2008) and how could I forget: Two Recent Archaeological Discoveries (June 2011).Frankly, Rob, speaking for myself,I don't know about other readers on this blog, especially Christians, but I find the same old arguments, canards, straw men,ad homenin attacks, bait-and-switch, bait-and-equivocate tactics (typical of "Talk Origins") not only redundant and boring, but an insult to my intelligence. I say that in a humble spirit, not a hauthy,arrogant and superior one, because it is true. But I do thank you because the more I read your comments, the more I am convinced of the dangers and stupidity of fundamentalist evolutionary philosophy and the futility and insanity of atheistic belief.

  161. Rayburne says on May 7, 2011 @ 02:32 PM:

    Thanks, Thomas, for your question to Rob..: "What specifically is your disagrement with what he wrote? But, as you will discover when you read Rob's comments on different topics, he does not deal in specifics.

  162. Thomas says on May 7, 2011 @ 08:53 PM:

    Rayburne,

    I have noticed the same thing about Rob. I will have to check out those threads that you mentioned sometime.