Sunday, January 31, 2010

Haha Harry or Weepin' Willie?

Does your attitude cause you to think the way you do? Or does the way you think cause your attitude? I'd say most Christians have a positive outlook on who God is. So they think God is good. And I'd have to guess, but those who are mad at God have a negative outlook on who God is. So they try to find ways to convince themselves that God is a tyrant.

I've been a little busy with work lately and trying to figure out my tax stuff. But I have been bouncing around the blog world trying to stay in touch with you all. I seem to notice that most atheists seem to have a bad concept of who God is. Is there something I could say to you to convince you, that if there was a God he truly loves you? And only wants the best for you?

Could the difference between a Christian and an Atheist be a simple as our attitude?

Shalom, feeno


  1. No- absolutely not. Nothing to do with attitude, purely belief. Atheists do not believe in God, simple as that.

  2. People have been mad at God, certainly. Those people, by definition, weren't atheists at the time.

    Arguments over the nature of God fall into the category of theology, and as such they're purely hypothetical to atheists. Whether God as described in the Bible actually loves us, hates us or whatever, that god's not real as far as we're concerned.

    We participate in such arguments anyway in the interests of testing the consistency of Christianity, or Islam, etc. The entire field of theodicy has had to be developed to deal with the many examples of what, on the surface, appear to be examples of God doing or allowing terrible things, and causing or failing to ease great suffering.

    The very fact that this field exists speaks against the obvious existence of a loving god. Christianity maintains a list of God's good works, alongside a list of different (sometimes competing) rationalisations for God's apparently malicious works, or else tragedies that slipped by Him.

    Something I like about JD is that he doesn't maintain that God is straightforwardly omni-benevolent, which solves many such problems immediately. Not all Christians agree with him, though.

  3. There's just a fundamental problem with Christianity's vision of God: it has been forever tainted by Platonism. The Hebrew God isn't loving; their God is kind of a jackass. Read the Old Testament if you don't believe me. Really read it, the whole thing: every genocide ordered by God, every baby dashed against a rock, every woman taken as a spoil of war. Yahweh and his people were pretty awful.

    The God of Jesus is a great guy. Admit you're wrong and say you're sorry on your knees and all will be forgiven. Sounds like my wife, actually. This notion of God as an everflowing fountain of love is one borrowed quite directly from Greek culture at the time. The New Testament is nothing more than Greek Platonist philosophy syncretized (or blended) with Hebrew theology. The fact that the New Testament is written in fluent, almost majestic Greek indicidates that the writers would undoubtably be familiar with Greek culture and philosophy.

  4. As I've always tried to point out to those who think I'm being too negative... I'm not. When I point out that God is a tyrant, it's because the God of the Bible does tyrannical things. How can sending a possessed bear down from the woods to murder some children for making fun of a balding prophet not be considered tyrannical?

    I'm not mad at God, I'm just calling them as I see them. Although, if God were to turn out to be real, in my estimation, it is capricious and cruel acts like this which would justify one's being angry with God.

    Finally, my interest in religion is two fold. One, I was a naive Christian and a very smart historian showed me that I had no clue of what I was talking about, so I took him up on the challenge to educate myself on my religion. And two, I've always had a passion for good stories, whether they are true or not. And my interest in the Bible and Christianity is both historical and literary.

    In fact, I'm interested in it because I find it fascinating... but this doesn't mean I can't find faults with some of its poor teachings or criticize it's imperfections.

    I think the God most Christian venerate is the God of their mind's and not of the Bible. They've conflated their ego with God and superimposed their favorite notion of what God ought to be and mean (for them personally) and they adapt scripture to support their theological surmises instead of having an independent theory which is supported by scripture. Two entirely different processes; the Christian way being subjective and the scientific way being objective.

    And that's what I base my thinking on, logic and reason, and what is quantifiable. I don't hate God... never had a reason to. But I can point out that if he was real... there would sure be a lot to hate about him. I do however find Christianity to be full of hypocrites, but what institution isn't?

    Yet as always, when talking about religion's sway over people, faith in God is no good if your faith is corrupted in the first place. And that's something to seriously think about.

  5. Welcome back. Thanks for hangin' around and responding. This is always a busy time of the year for me. Mostly because of my taxes. Then I will be leaving town Thursday A.M. and wont be back until Sat. night. And where I'm going there will be no computers. I'll be roughin it a little bit? It's an annual trip I take to the Mtns. of Tennessee or the Carolina's.

    TB 13, Thanks Tink. I hope someday you will change your mind? Who knows. You have a lot of endearing qualities and I like to see them used as a Christian.

    LX, Great points. It wont be easy trying to convince you Geenks and Tristan that your wrong about God, but I will certainly try. Even if my answers seem lame.

    I am familar with all the points everybody made. But that's why I will stick to my original question about "is our attitude or thinking which causes the other". Here's why: Let's look at Geenks' argument about "God ordered genocide". If you think highly of God you just may look at these differently? I don't like the idea of this type of God, but I truly believe God is just and righteous. And only God knows the future and can see the big picture. All we can see is what is in front of us. Also wouldn't it be emberassing to say God was unfair because he killed a bunch of people, but because of it many more were saved? And then to find out many of those people only suffered a physical death but God spared them spiritually from an everlasting death?

    Romans 11:33-36 puts it this way. "Oh, the depth of riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to Him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever".

    Before you say "feeno, they just put that in there so you will continue in your delusion". My response would be simply then "why didn't they just leave out all that crazy stuff"?

    Part 1, be right back

  6. OK, I'm back.

    Platonism? Don't know a lot about Plato, but he certainly believed in God. If you are referring to the mixing of religons, I wouldn't disagree a whole lot with you. But the Bible speaks about this very thing. Why do you think God kept getting pissed with his peeps, the Jews. 'cause they kept their other religious beliefs that they learned from other nations. Christianity is a religion originally started by a bunch of Jews. And the many Israelites certainly borrowed things from pagan religions. I can only try to keep myself "pure".

    I think the Bible admits that God can't be proved. Other wise we wouldn't have verses that tell us "With out faith it is impossible to
    please God". Some faith is required. But I also believe God gives us just what we need at the time we need it. It's called grace. And His grace is suffecient. And finally it is not a blind faith. That's why it goes back to maybe an attitude? Because I think it takes to much faith to believe there is no God.

    I'm very honored that you at least give me an oppurtunity to share my thoughts. I don't want you guys (and Tink) to think I don't listen to what you have to say. I have heard all these arguments before, why? Because there valid concerns, but how I think of God gives me an attitude of he is soveriegn and does what is right.

    Later, feeno

  7. Hey feeno,

    Yeah, you've heard all these arguments, and we've heard all the arguments you brought up. So let's do another dance around the circle and end up right where we left off :P

    I think the problem that I have with what you said (that if you've got a high view of God, you'll believe that he had a reason for genocide), is that a high view of God's omni-benevolence would make me less likely to believe that God would command genocide. Surely an all-powerful and all-loving God could come up with some other solution rather than telling the Israelites to just go in there and slaughter everyone.

    To give him one option that I guess he didn't think of: Appear to all the Canaanites. Tell them all that this land has been promised to another people, but that he will provide an equally good land elsewhere for them all to relocate to. Then pick them all up and transport them supernaturally to this new location, give them plenty of resources and protect them for at least a few years so they can get themselves settled again. Voila. Nobody dies, the Israelites get their land, and well, maybe the Canaanites are still a bit pissed off at being moved, but they're still given compensation, and they're less pissed off than if they were all getting slaughtered. Sounds like a better solution to me. Would make a great OT story too.

  8. Hang on a minute, Feeno. You say the victims of God's prescribed genocides were spiritually spared? On what do you base that? Why didn't they go to hell for the same reasons they had to be massacred in the first place? Few if any of them repented.

  9. Romans 11:33-36 puts it this way. "Oh, the depth of riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to Him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever".

    Seems those who invented the christian faith and wrote the bible etc, must have felt they had the right to become gods counselor,and felt it their right to know the mind and ways and charactor etc of the lord....What silly dribble that this particular scripture Romans suggesting the lord cannot be known blah blah,is itself actually "self defeating" in the sense that the writer obviously seems to think that "HE" can know the lord.Otherwise why else would he write about it?....Was he just having fun playing a game of tiddly winks?

    What sad double standards and utter fraud the very foundations of faith is so often built on.Magical quick-switch.Illusion that became dellusion for man full of the ignorance of blind faith.

    Anyway putting that headache aside ...Do enjoy your time away out in the mountains Feeno!!

  10. 'Sup LX

    I never said that they were spared. I said wouldn't you feel embarrassed if you found out they were? However I do believe in an age of accountability for the young. And again I believe God to be just, maybe some were and maybe because of His fore knowledge he knew some never would and they weren't spared. My point is only that we don't know.

    To Jeff's point about coming up with a better
    solution: Jeff is a great guy who is cool and kinda funny, however he is not a Holy God. I too would have come up with a "better" solution, in my eyes. But our brains have limits.

    If there is a God who created the world and all with in it, and has knowledge of everyone's thoughts and is in control of every molecule that ever existed, do you really think you can understand his ways?

    If you think he's capable of genocide for evil reasons then that causes your attitude of "he's bad". Because of my attitude towards God, I
    think he has a valid reason for whatever he does.

    Peace, feeno

  11. Jeff lots of your ideas sound like great common sense.Many of your ideas would have likely made matters so much more simple,and helped us humans understand etc.

    But they dont fit the old supernatural book ...Faithful folks cannot have that now can they specially the ones leading the group and having their feet kissed by followers head over tail in love with the wonder of it all.

    So insert Romans 11:33-36 ,bingo! ..It didnt happen and your ideas cannot have been good,because gods judgements and ways are unsearchable.

    Except quietly for later on ...when all of a sudden the faith leaders want you hopefully believe they the special leaders HAVE actually been able to SEARCH gods ways and judgements.

    Aint it real neat! Jeff :) ....Its a win-win ,never can lose situation where idiots can be made to look like scholars.woo hooo!!

    Gods can be both searchable and unsearchable ,depending intirely on what happens to suit the moment for continued promotion of the faith.

    God works in mysterious ways

  12. Gandolphski

    I'm sorry I drive you crazy, that was kinda my point of the original question. My attitude about God is that he is good. So it forms my opinion of him favorably.

    But thanks for well wishing. When I get back maybe I'll take a little break from religion talk and explain what we do every year? I told Jeff a while back, he may remember?

    Later, feen.

  13. Feeno to Jeff --"do you really think you can understand his ways?"

    Ohh you dont think Jeff can ...But yet you faithfully think those who designed the faith and wrote the bible could ?

  14. Feeno i might not think much of your faith.

    But that i try my best to keep (separate) from what my personal opinion is of you.

    Enjoy your time in the mountains !!

    Take care !!

  15. helloo
    "And I'd have to guess, but those who are mad at God have a negative outlook on who God is. So they try to find ways to convince themselves that God is a tyrant. "
    Hmm, I'm not sure this is the case. Basically what you are saying is that when we believe in something we tend to give credit to it, or discredit what goes against it? =p
    Seems kinda obvious, but you say it like atheists do that because we don't believe in God. Well, I could say christians do that to the "atheist" way of thinking because they don't agree with it.
    It goes both ways. =/
    One more thing. There are several gods in history that weren't such nice folks as the Christian one. So it's may not be only atheists that think God (gods...) may be bad.

  16. Let us review the belief system of the human race in the Western World... A very simplistic one at that, and I am well aware of the gross omissions that I am making here, but bear with me.

    First, the Egyptians believed in the Sun God, for some reason, that was not true. Then, the Greeks believed in Zeus and his friends. Then the Romans came, and that was not true. Then, the Romans developed their own gods, but they were no longer true once Constantine developed the idea of the Christian God. To make sure that this would stay firm, Christians stopped any inquiry based discipline (schools of philosophy, etc) and the Dark Ages began when Christianity spread by killing those who had other beliefs. Then, the Renaissance came, and scientific inquiry began again. We have slowly progressed to where we are today. Evolution is transitioning to a fact from a theory, and people still believe in God, even though many of us point to the fact that it is not true.

    I do not see God as any possibility, part of our history and that is it. I do not see how this is an attitude, sorry Feeno. Human history is bloody, it is what we do to each other, like it or not. And, all too often, religion is the reason for it.

  17. If I found the genocide victims were spared, Feeno, then I'd already know that God and Heaven existed and I wouldn't be arguing anymore.

    I'm not saying that God's (hypothetically) bad. There could be a good reason for everything. I'm just saying that just because people have rationalised the horrific stuff He's supposedly done doesn't make Him good either.

  18. If we can't understand God's ways, then that's it...we can't understand God's ways. We can say nothing further about God, because we simply cannot understand him. If this is true, then it is the end of religion, the end of any sort of "relationship", and you've relegated yourself to being an agnostic in every sense of the word.

    Of course, no Christian believes that they can't understand God. They've built an entire belief system out of the very idea that they can understand God. So feeno, you simply cannot have it both ways. If God is all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, then that tells me something about him that lets me know how he should react in a given situation. Just like if I know that you're an honest person, I should be able to predict that if put in a bank vault, you won't steal any money. How much more for someone who's "all-honest" - I should be able to say with 100% certainty that they will never ever steal any money.

    Therefore, an all-good God must always act in the best way possible in every situation. And if I, with my puny little brain, can think up a better solution to a problem, that says something very damaging to the notion of this all-good God.

    But feeno, since you seem to think that you can't understand why God does things, and yet you think he's got a good reason for things, let me ask you a question: What if God is actually evil, but has a very evil reason for telling you that he's "good"? And how is your belief in his goodness any more justified than this belief in his evilness?

    Anyway, let me add my warm wishes to you as well: enjoy your time in the mountains :)

  19. Jeff

    Why does everything have to be so black or white?" So because we aren't all knowing and all powerful and can't understand everything about God, that means we can't understand anything about God?

    I hope you don't look at science like that?

    late, feen

  20. Well, Feeno, what CAN we unambiguously understand about God?

  21. LX

    God created us and all things.
    He loves us and desires a relationship with us.
    He is worthy of all glory and praise.
    We screwed up by sinning so God sent Christ to give us a way out of his punishment.

    We(?) may not like this plan, but it's his plan.

    If anyone has the time and feels like reading 15 verses in the Bible about God's love, I think (1st John 4:7-21) is a good place to start.

    That's my take anyway. Thanks Bro. feeno

  22. feeno said... "Jeff,Why does everything have to be so black or white?" So because we aren't all knowing and all powerful and can't understand everything about God, that means we can't understand anything about God?

    Depends how you define the word understand.Understand defined in the faith sense might be kinda more like meaning take a good guess?,which means trolls,fairys,santa,elfs,unicorns,70 vigins in heaven available for Islamic bombers, gold actually being hidden in rainbows.....And endless amounts of all manner of complete idiocy should be still considdered this thing "understood" that you suggest.

    Feeno--"I hope you don't look at science like that?"

    Actually its very important reason we DO need to look at science pretty black n white, like what you faithfully quickly try to convince yourself that we actually dont.

    Because if we dont, it can be very dangerous.And should you experience the danger of the ignorance of a lack of care taken in the production of mans creations,then when it happens to be effecting you (personally)! im sure you would ALSO be inclined to be voting for a more black and white approach.

    To me it seems obvious you are often biased and acting faithfully blinded, when concerned to matters of mans creations of faith,my opinion is what causes this! is the faith thought of "salvation" is actually a condition which produces and induces a very "selfish attitude" in humans .

    Because im sure you use double standards and would change your thoughts quite differently, when concerned with questioning (other creations of man) that are imposed into our societies.With these other matters dishonestly! you would then honestly expect a more "black and white" approach with "science" when involved in the (testing of such products) before allowing general public human exposure to them.

    Unless for instance you wish to try and tell me you would honestly be quite happy if say car companies for instance willy nilly developed cars that could actually quite easily harm or killed one of your daughters?.

    I bet not! ...I bet if you are very honest! you will actually admit you actually often do expect science to be pretty much black and white! about matters.As long as its not faith,you often expect things to be quite black and white.

    The difference is real truth and honesty often gets cast aside and thrown out the door for a moment or two when suits,when folks convicted of faith! go about thinking and discussing these matters.Sure they maybe dont mean to,but in my opinion it still seems actually even a little deceitful.

  23. If Ford liked to create cars by faith and some of them were harming folks,Feeno would be screaming "be more black and white about your faithful car creations" will you Mr Ford!!.Grrrrr!! gnashing of teeth !!

    Specially if it had happened to have harmed his own! personal family.

    Faith is a very selfish selfcentred gene !

  24. General golden Rule of Faith = Create what ever belief you wish!,who even gives a hoot! how it might happen to effect any others.Stuff em!,who cares!...our salvation is what comes first !

    And the faithful try to claim the non believers to be the anarchists?

  25. Feeno,

    I didn't mean to imply that everything was black and white - either we know everything about God, or else we know nothing. It was more of a reaction to the "God is mysterious" idea, because that seems to indicate that we can know nothing about God - at least nothing for sure. It's a matter of degree, and you're right to point that out, but it's a matter of the degree to which we know God's character. That's what we use to predict people's behaviour - their personality or personal characteristics. When God is an all-or-nothing type of guy (all-loving, all-powerful, etc.), it gives us pretty complete knowledge about how he will act in any given situation.

    All I'm saying is that situations that offend us and shock us as being utterly immoral (such as commanding the slaughter of innocent children as part of a massive genocide simply because one wants your "chosen people" to have a specific piece of dirt to live on) seem to strongly indicate that something is amiss here. When an all-loving God cannot come up with any better strategy than to command innocent children to be put to death, it seems that he is not "thinking outside the box".

    And of course, to say that there is some hidden purpose that we just don't understand or some plan that God has that we don't know about really just drives us to the question of whether the ends justify the means. And really, what positive end could outweigh the wholesale slaughter of an entire group of people, including children and livestock? I'm really drawing a blank as to what you think could justify that action. Don't answer "eternal life" because I'm pretty sure genocide is not generally included as part of the salvation message. God could easily have saved us without slaughtering the Canaanite children.

  26. Actually, Jeff's logic is sound.

    "But feeno, since you seem to think that you can't understand why God does things, and yet you think he's got a good reason for things, let me ask you a question: What if God is actually evil, but has a very evil reason for telling you that he's "good"? And how is your belief in his goodness any more justified than this belief in his evilness?"

    Let's just break this down a bit, shall we? Because I think feeno is getting caught up on what he feels are the important themes of the atonement/redemption/salvation story--not whether or not the premise of the belief in God is logical.

    In other words feeno, I think you're making a purely emotional choice and not one based on the believability of your professed beliefs, but rather, on how much these beliefs would mean to you if they were true.

    So let's ask again, do you not agree that: "You seem to think that you can't understand why God does things?"

    Okay, good. We’re off to a good start. Would you answer this next question also, "You think he's got a good reason for things, right?"

    Previously you stated affirmative in both cases. So you’ve basically admitted to not understanding God but hoping that he has a good reason for what he does, correct?

    So then, "How is your belief in his goodness justified?"

    In not so many words, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, you’ve just admitted that you can’t understand him. So how can you pretend to affirm that your understanding of him is that he is good?

    I think this is the point where you'd have to refer back to the Bible and rely on apologetics and theological defenses to try and formulate a rationalization which gets around this next question:

    "What if God is actually evil, but has a very evil reason for telling you that he's "good"?"

    I hope you can see what's happened? You were using your own reason to defend your position, but when faced with a logical challenge which confounded your convictions in God’s goodness you retreated back into the theological boundaries where you are safeguarded by endless centuries of pre-conjured harmonizations to get around, but not have to answer, such complicated issues.

  27. This is what counts as a preconceived bias, because you’re not going outside the faith to defend it, your retreating back into the confines of its walls, utilizing subjective preferences for scriptural interpretations in support of your faith, and quote mining apologetic sound bites which cater to your professed beliefs. You've have given up objectivity to pure subjectivity, and rationality has given way to harmonizations galore.

    If you want to live in a world of grays, then that's fine, but this is basically relativism, and then you are again stuck with the *possibility that God is on the dark side of the scale.

    Either way, your choice that God is all good is a preconceived bias, whether via indoctrination or else limited insights into the relevant (available) information, perhaps a combination of both, the FACT is there is more in the Bible to suggest to the reasonable person that God is in fact malevolent and capricious. Only harmonizations and ignorance can allow someone work together to discard what is evident and explain it away because it's not what you want to believe. See what I mean? It’s not about what you *want to believe… it’s about what is justifiably believable. And let’s not forget that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, otherwise you’re merely left with incredible stories which are not all that believable.

    You might even say such a comment is too black and white... but isn't what you've been saying pretty one sided anyway? You haven't left room for any gray let alone black because your convictions white wash everything out. I’m simply asking that you leave open that possibility, and think about it critically, otherwise you’ve fallen victim to the same exact narrow-mindedness you are railing against. I just thought I’d point that out.

    In the end, whether or not you want to see it, or acknowledge the fact, the question of God's moral character is more than valid if you take the Bible at face value. And if you didn't, well then, you couldn't defend the rest of the beliefs you profess to take at face value, such as the atonement/resurrection/salvation story you hold so dear.

    I just wanted to point out this common mistake, because in my experience, many believers have been known to make it, especially when they claim us atheists are being too literal. In actuality, it's the believers who are trying to have it both ways, and are stating one religious conviction as literally true and then in the next instance are jumping all over the place with a literal interpretation here, and a more subjective rendering here, and then something in-between over here, and all this is to harmonize away the irreconcilable conflicts in logic (it’s reasoning away possibilities you disagree with whether or not they are valid) and therefore are free to make God perfect in the eye of the beholder, but at the sake of making faith completely arbitrary I might add. And I would be amiss if I did not point out how illogical I feel this form of reasoning is.

    Peace, and live long and prosper.

  28. My understanding is that God is infinite, and my human faculties are finite and limited. This means that quite often I have to put up my hand and concede that there's plenty of things about God that I don't understand. I don't doubt that God is good, but when I look at the state of the world and reflect on my life experiences, I wonder what He's doing. My faith is resilient enough to grapple with this tension. I could say more about this, but I won't for the sake of brevity.

  29. Hi Ross,thats interesting that account you give of how you see these things.

    But im wondering,doesnt your theory still need to appeal to human standards? of diciding what supposedly can "should" be thought to be able to be known and understood about gods,over against what supposedly "shouldnt" (because of the idea of gods supposedly being infinite).

    Either way we need to appeal to the very same human finite standard, to decide what we can and what we cant dont we?

    We use the "finite human standard", to think and say what we think maybe "can" be known about gods.

    Then we also use the very same "finite human standard" to think and say what we think maybe "cant" be known.

    So really both could be totally wrong.

    Maybe we actually cant know anything about gods!.What standard? can we use to say we can even know anything about gods?.

    That has to be a serrious consideration doesnt it Ross?...Specially if some folks also want to appoint themselves as being some standard to try and suggest this "thought" of infinite gods, and go drawing some line in the sand somewhere ...And assert maybe we cant understand gods past this point here.

    What other? "reliable unbiased standards" can we say we might really actually honestly EVER have choice of using?, other than things like our complete honesty, reasoning, logic, education knowledge and method of science?.

    With how much we think we can know or how much we think that we cant,either way its a matter of it being decided by human thought.

  30. Maybe matters of knowledge of gods is actually so infinite and so very far outside of our mere human understanding,that we really shouldnt even start to try and think of thinking we actually had ways of understanding even anything about them!.

    We humans might have only been fooling ourselves to ever think that maybe we actually could

  31. Seem to me faithful folks simply make a guess about how much they suggest we can know,and then take another guess again to suggest how much we cant know.

    So what objective does it prove?