Atheist – How Would You Run the World?

Most people are going to answer this question by saying that it would be a world without suffering, accidental death, and disease. No one would ever get old and it would be a world of amazing kindness and fairness and love and everyone would get along.

Amazing enough, this is precisely the kind of world that God made! But there’s one thing that most people are going to leave out of their “ideal” world, but that God also included. It’s called human free-will. God created mankind with the ability to love or reject Him and the beautiful world that He made. We chose to reject the world that God made and to run the world on our own terms and the world we now have is the result.

So, atheist, how would you do it? How would you run the world? Would you take free will away? Would you make everyone a robot, not allowing them to freely choose what they want in life, but enforcing the universal good by the inability to choose bad?

For God to neutralize the possiblity of suffering and wrong, He would have to neutralize the source of suffering – human free-will. If we are not free to choose either good or evil, then we are robots, not humans. And we have no real choice.

But, the atheist will contend. “Why doesn’t God just destroy the really bad people?” But who is to define what “bad” is? Aren’t we all sometimes bad? Does this mean we should all be destroyed? See the dilemma that we create with this rationale.

No. God created a free-will world where a legimate ability to choose is the right of every human being. If you run the world and take away this critical component, you’ve just destroyed the good world that you seek to create. If we live in a world run by you and you take away the possiblity of choosing contrary to what you wish, we would all be slaves to your pre-programming. There would never be true love, only a regurgitation of computer code that satisfies the one listening – yourself. No one would want this kind of world. And not even God wanted this kind of world.

How would you run the world? Precisely the way that God is running it now – with an authentic choice to choose the good or the bad and to live witht the results of that decision, otherwise all of creation is sabotaged and obedience is merely perfunctory because it pays well.

You and I have a choice and that’s what makes the world beautiful.

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54 Comments

Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Creation, Free Will

54 responses to “Atheist – How Would You Run the World?

  1. shamelesslyatheist

    Do you know any atheists? From your posts, I would say no. I mean, really – you haven’t a clue!

    “We chose to reject the world that God made and to run the world on our own terms and the world we now have is the result.” Are you saying, for example, that famine due to drought is due to how the world is run? And here I thought it was due to variations in weather patterns. Yet it is people who provide aid to those in dire need, not a fictitious god. And if god is not fictitious, then it is an evil god that creates such suffering.

    “If we live in a world run by you and you take away the possiblity of choosing contrary to what you wish, we would all be slaves to your pre-programming.” Atheists want no such thing. What we want is for the religious out there to leave us alone. We (or at least I) want the religious to stop attacking science. We want the religious to quit trying make public policy based on religious principles and converting what should be secular institutions to theocratic ones. We do not want to be ‘saved’, since there is no evidence to suggest that there is anything to be saved from. I regard prosthyletizing as an immoral act, regardless of whether the proponent is religious or atheist. We simply want to be left alone without interference from religious zealots. And all evidence suggest that it is religious zealotry that is trying to make everyone Christian robots. Secularists such as myself want an even playing field for everyone (including you), something Christian zealots have no interest in. This idea that we would take that away is so misguided that it’s quite offensive.

    “There would never be true love, only a regurgitation of computer code that satisfies the one listening – yourself.” You might be surprised to hear that atheists believe in things and actually love. As a follower of a naturalistic philosophy I am amazed at the universe, but I do not diminish this amazement with the banal “God did it”. Christians (or members of any religion) do not have a lock on the concepts of love, peace and harmony. It does not come from religion at all, as they are accessible to anyone regardless belief. Study after study has shown that it is the least religious societies (Iceland, Norway, Sweden) which are by any measure the happiest, most stable and least crime ridden.

    You certainly do have a skewed (and ridiculous) view of what atheism is.

  2. sumpteretc

    “Are you saying, for example, that famine due to drought is due to how the world is run?”

    Famine and drought did not exist in the world God originally created. All of creation is in bondage because of man’s sinful behavior.

    “We (or at least I) want the religious to stop attacking science.”

    In what way are they doing that?

    “We want the religious to quit trying make public policy based on religious principles and converting what should be secular institutions to theocratic ones. ”

    So the first amendment only applies to non-religious types? And we should abandon policies against murder, theft and dishonesty because they are based on religious principles?

    “We do not want to be ’saved’, since there is no evidence to suggest that there is anything to be saved from.”

    A cursory glance at any newspaper supplies ample evidence.

    “I regard prosthyletizing (sic) as an immoral act, regardless of whether the proponent is religious or atheist.”

    If Christians honestly believes that their neighbors are going to be eternally separated from
    God, love compels them to share the cure for the disease that causes that separation. I sincerely apologize for the times when we have acted in ways that were unloving. Certainly, we have done many things in the name of Christ that did not reflect His character. I ask your forgiveness for those times, and I ask that you give us the benefit of the doubt in the current discussion. I don’t believe that Joey made this blog to make people into robots. While you may find some of his statements offensive, I believe that he has a genuine concern for all people and desires that everyone come to a knowledge of the truth. The analogy of cancer is sometimes used. If a doctor discovered a cure for cancer, it would be highly immoral for him to keep that knowledge to himself. I recognize that you do not think you have a “disease,” but the testimony of God’s revelation asserts that all of us are sick (and simple observation gives significant supporting evidence for that assertion). So, please, let’s debate freely, while doing our best to refrain from impugning each other’s motives.

  3. Return of Tofu

    If I ran the world, I’d give everyone immortal and indestructible bodies.

    BOOM. No more death or unnecessary suffering, but it has no effect on whether you decide to have tuna or salmon for lunch (not that you’d need to eat unless you felt like it).

  4. sumpteretc

    God gave us immortal and indestructible bodies, but we chose to reject those bodies and to choose mortal bodies instead. In the Bible, we have the promise that someday we will put off these mortal bodies and will again clothe ourselves with immortality.

  5. Return of Tofu

    Who chose? I certainly didn’t.

  6. sumpteretc

    Adam chose, and you and I choose every time that we violate God’s law. God’s warning was that “the soul that sins shall die.”

  7. Return of Tofu

    So if I didn’t sin, I’d be indestructible?

    How could Adam make an informed decision when he didn’t have knowledge of good or evil?

    Why did god punish all of humanity forever for the mistake of a single person?

  8. Return of Tofu

    If all suffering stems from human free will, then was there free will in God’s “original creation?”

    Is there free will in heaven?

  9. sumpteretc

    Whether you sin or not, you are immortal and indestructible.

    Adam may not have had knowledge of good and evil, but he did have a free will and a command from God attached to a warning of what would happen if he chose to eat the forbidden fruit.

    Adam was the representative of the entire human race, but each of is culpable for the punishment we receive, because each of us has chosen–not made a mistake–chosen to violate God’s laws.

    All suffering potentially stems from free will. There was free will in the Garden of Eden, but there was no suffering, until man chose to violate God’s command.

    I’m not sure I know enough about heaven to hazard a guess on your last question. If pressed, I would opine that humans do have some measure of free will in heaven, but I can’t answer all the quandaries resulting from that supposition.

  10. Return of Tofu

    “Adam may not have had knowledge of good and evil, but he did have a free will and a command from God attached to a warning of what would happen if he chose to eat the forbidden fruit.”

    Ok fine, but how did he know that disobeying the warning was a bad thing to do? No knowledge of good or evil, right?

    “each of us has chosen–not made a mistake–chosen to violate God’s laws.”

    It’s pretty hard not to, considering no one can seem to agree on what the heck they are.

  11. InTheImageOfDNA

    If there is an omniscient god, there can be no free-will as you assert. If this god exists and has perfect knowledge of the past, present, and future, then your actions are all known and hence you could not deviate from the known course because this omniscient knowledge, by definition, is perfect. Therefore, you could make choices and think that you had options, but it would be an illusion. If an omniscient god exists, we’re all simply following the script and there is no true free will. Thus, the rationalization that free-will is the source of suffering is shown to be an incoherent answer to theodicy.

    The Calvinists figured this logic out centuries ago and their theology reflected it, but it seems that contemporary Christians ignore logic.

  12. sumpteretc

    The Bible calls it “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” not “good or evil.” Obviously, Adam understood that eating the fruit was a violation of God’s law and had penalties attached to it. The fruit of the tree did not give knowledge of good and evil. By its very existence, it gave meaning to “good and evil,” because it was there that the choice between the two was made.

    Regarding your confusion about what sin is: There are certainly differences of opinion about moral laws, even among religious people. The fact remains, however, that there is massive cross-cultural agreement on some fundamental sin issues. As C.S. Lewis writes, “In triumphant monotony the same indispensable platitudes will meet us in culture after culture.” I know that I have violated some of the taboos common to many cultures; I would venture that you have as well. To quote Mark Twain: “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me; it’s the parts I do understand.”

  13. And to this great discussion (I’ve enjoyed reading the dialog), I would add..

    There are two parrallel themes that run side-by-side in the Bible: the Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of man. Book after book has been written in an attempt to understand the issue (I’m not going to say “resolve” the issue, because there is still an ongoing debate about what these things would mean) and what implications we can draw from it.

    The observation is well taken (intheimageofdna), but I do feel that some headway can be made. I would encourage you to factor in these things as you continue to process this issue:

    1. God is not an All-Determining Power who gets glory from the damnation of “sinners.” This theological system is flawed. That belief runs contrary to all that we see regarding God’s love. If this is true, God is playing a game with us, pretending to love all, while only planning on saving a few.

    2. God respects the decisions of free-will creatures (even allowing them to choose hell if they want).
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/are-atheists-sent-to-hell-no-but-they-choose-it-anyway/

    3. God works in our story – guiding, wooing, winning, loving, chastening – but we ultimately choose. The ultimate wrath any of us could ever receive is not God doing mean things to us in order to get us to conform; rather, it is God giving us over to whatever it is that we want (see Romans 1-2). He simply says, “If you want life without me and you crave these twisted expressions of my gifts to you, then you shall have it. To apply: If you are an atheist, and you want life without me, then you shall eventually have it. But, it will be over the dead body of my Son. You will have to jump over my wooing love throughout your entire lifetime to do it.

    4. That God can know whatever is knowable is true. But it is within the realm of possiblity, that God can choose not to know what is knowable. He is God. We can’t tell Him what he can know or not know.

    5. As some theologians have argued, it is within the premises of Open Theism that God knows all possible decisions that could be made, but does not know the actual decision in some cases. When Abraham offered his son in obedience, God said in response “Now, I know. You will obey me no matter what.” – almost as if to say, “I wasn’t sure before, but now, there is no doubt.”

    6. There are a few broad-purposes that God has committed himself too. Within these broad purposes, many free-will decisions are made. But I have come to see omnipotence, not just as all-powerful, but as the ability to take twisted, messed up human free-will decisions, and still work them toward what He has promised to do for mankind. Amazing.

    7. Finally, you can change. You can surprise and delight God. The future is not settled. Your destiny has not been predetermined without your consent. You are chosen “in Him” the apostle shares. Choose Christ and you are elect!

    These are just some basic guides for you as you journey through this topic. But don’t get bogged down. And remember the love story. You are the captive bride, but the enemy has been invaded, and the great news is that “He (Christ) gets the girl” by the end of the story!

    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/27/can-an-atheist-change-ask-ebenezer-scrooge-this-christmas/

  14. shamelesslyatheist

    “Famine and drought did not exist in the world God originally created. All of creation is in bondage because of man’s sinful behavior.”

    Unverifiable and therefor a conversation stopper.

    “In what way are they doing that?”

    Disingenuous attacks on evolutionary biology, cosmology, geology, etc. to bend science in order to make it agree with their own world view. Ever hear of Dover, PA?

    “So the first amendment only applies to non-religious types? And we should abandon policies against murder, theft and dishonesty because they are based on religious principles?”

    They are also secular principles. Religions do not have a lock on ethics. What is the mental block which prevents religious people from understanding this? In behavioral psychology studies, atheist and religious people are indistinguishable based on what ethical choices they make given any particular ethical problem. Secularism is about everyone being treated equal regardless of religion, not about removing religious freedom. Secularism recognizes differences in people. It’s not about trying to make people conform to a single belief system. The only people trying to do that are the religious.

    ““We do not want to be ’saved’, since there is no evidence to suggest that there is anything to be saved from.”

    A cursory glance at any newspaper supplies ample evidence.”

    I can read newspapers, too. Apparently, I missed the “Save Me” section. I repeat. I have no need of saving. It’s a disrespectful act, implying that your world view is better than mine. Are you saying you are better than me because you believe in a god? It’s like that airplane crash a while back. Calling it a miracle greatly diminishes the pilot’s skill, the training and actions of the crew – all of which can only be attributed to humans.

    “If a doctor discovered a cure for cancer, it would be highly immoral for him to keep that knowledge to himself. ”

    First, the analogy fails since a tumor is quite real for which evidence of existence can be amassed. God is another matter entirely. Second, it would be incredibly unethical to apply the cure without the patient’s consent, as the religious right is attempting when subverting what are consititutionally secular institutions.

    The US is arguably the most religious nation in the developed world, yet it also leads or is no different from more secular countries in rates of nonviolent and non-lethal violent crime, homicide, adolescent suicide, teen pregnancy and teen STD transmission. Most of these problems aren’t really related to religion (the last couple, though, do have a very large religious component), but it is quite clear that religion does not at all guarantee a solution to these problems. In fact, it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

    I would enjoy a discussion, but not here. This guy is so skewed and biased that he’s way beyond the ability to use reason.

  15. InTheImageOfDNA

    Joey,

    Thank you for your response and thoughts. I have read into this issue and given it much thought and but all the answers that I have found are simply dancing around the issue. I think it’s pretty simple: to maintain that humans really have free-will, then a monotheistic god that is both omnipotent and omniscient must be demoted to a tribal or local deity status that is not omnipotent and omniscient. (This, I think, is what that blowhard Vox Day did to get around the problem.)

    This whole “God can choose what to know” thing really is quite silly. Either you don’t know something or you know something. And how can a “choice” be made about knowledge? Wouldn’t God need to make informed decisions? And wouldn’t He need to know everything in order to make those decision? This opens up the possibility of “What if God doesn’t know something that is really important?” Did he know or not know what the 9-11 hijackers were going to do? Was He surprised?

    As you can see and know, this whole issue is a morass of ridiculous and incongruent ideas. I think that it leaves a person with two choices: either God is an incoherent idea made up by humans who want to see agency in the mindless machinations of nature or God Himself is incoherent.

  16. leftcoastlibrul

    “Most people are going to answer this question by saying that it would be a world without suffering, accidental death, and disease. No one would ever get old and it would be a world of amazing kindness and fairness and love and everyone would get along.”

    *SNERK*! No. I think most atheists would say “it would be pretty much as it is now, but with more science and less religion.” As shamelesslyatheist said (and dude, I am SO adding you to my blogroll), we just want to be able to do our work and NOT be discriminated against because we don’t believe as you do. Atheists don’t have some pie in the sky idea about how perfect and utopian the world would be without religion. If anything, atheists are realists about human nature and recognize that ethics and morals are necessary in society in order for it to work.

    You have a very jaundiced view of atheism.

  17. People are free to believe as they wish. No one is trying to take that away. But good philosophy must exist to correct bad philosophy. Atheism is bad philosophy. It cannot answer the deeper questions of life (something I’ve asserted over and over again in this blog). But still, many stubbornly push forward into a bankrupt belief system, that when pushed to it’s logical ends, is actually existentially repugnant – it’s not livable.
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/atheism-is-a-weak-worldview-when-pushed-to-its-logical-ends/

    No one is discriminating here. I’d consider it a privilege to be counted as a friend among atheists, in fact. My issue is not with atheists; its with atheism.

    Rather than declare that God does not exist; reach out for Him, and do your research. What you will find is that your greatest early scientists were in fact Theists; so the scientific method and many other discovered scientific laws were by Christian Theists who would admit that “a lot of science takes a man far from God, but a lot of science brings him back.” What you will also find is that those who thought the most of the coming world (heaven), were the ones who did the most to help the current world (earth). In addition, you will also discover that behind the morality you seek, you will find a Moral Law Giver.

    All that you seek, you already have access to. But you’re cutting off the Source from which these things flow.

    Some have accused that I call atheists liars. Don’t believe it. I have done no such thing. What I have asserted is that there are no atheists, just idolaters.
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/there-are-no-atheists-just-idolaters/

    You want to be god leftcoastlibrul, your own ism. I will not pamper or placate on that. Only when we surrender to the one true God who has self-disclosed can we help create the kind of world that we were all meant to live in.

  18. leftcoastlibrul

    Atheism is bad philosophy.
    Sorry? Atheism isn’t philosophy at all. A= without theism=belief in god(s). Straight translation, and means only one thing. Philosophy, on the other hand, has many different applications and everyone has a different interpretation, although there are subscribers to each school. I can appreciate most of those schools of thought short of post-modernism; post modernists make my hair itch.

    Some have accused that I call atheists liars. Don’t believe it. I have done no such thing. What I have asserted is that there are no atheists, just idolaters.

    K….I don’t believe I called you a liar; merely that you have a jaundiced view of atheism. Atheists are people. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t really idolize anything; nothing survives it. The fastest way to grow jaded about anything is by putting it up on a pedestal. If that’s what you want to think of me, there’s really no way I can stop you, so knock yourself out, I suppose….

    You want to be god leftcoastlibrul, your own ism.
    HA! No, I’m far too lazy to want to be god. It’s tiring enough to be mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, nurse. I don’t need to be god to satisfy my ego.

    Since you’re sharing, though, I may as well return the favor. In my opinion, the only true sin lies in treating other people as things. All other sins and transgressions flow from that. When we break people down and put them in boxes, portray them as two dimensional things…we are removing their humanity. Do me the kindness of recognizing that I am a three dimensional person, and you do not know even the smallest part of me enough to pass judgment (as likewise, I do not know you). And then cast your mind back about what you’re supposed to have learned about judgment as a “Christian.”

    Only when we surrender to the one true God who has self-disclosed can we help create the kind of world that we were all meant to live in.

    Only one question…who gets to decide what kind of world we were “meant” to live in? I’m fairly sure you don’t want me deciding for you; what gives YOU the right to decide for me?

  19. Atheism is in fact a philosophy, a worldview. By it, you see and explain everything else. If God is not, then all things are permissable. This plays out in subtle ways.

    My desire to play/be god and your desire to play/be god is a universal truth. It’s not just mere autonomy that humans seek. We are in rebellion on this planet. “God is holding out on us” so we do our own thing. We are reflections of His image, but we have pulled out of the reflecting relationship. But even though his image in us has been defaced, it is not erased. Even in our rebellion, traces of divine design remain.
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/17/why-are-there-so-many-atheism-blogs-part-2/

    It is an awful thing to treat people as “things.” But what is far worse is to treat God as a non-entity, an non-dimensional being.

    No judgment being passed here. Just the facts. Humanity is in rebellion. That would include you and me.

    The atheist will often assert, “I don’t have enough information. I need more and better evidence before I can believe in God.” But what the Bible so clearly teaches is that our biggest problem is not a “to know” problem. Our biggest problem is that we want independence, total freedom from any deity, even if that deity loves us.

    Singer/songwriter Randy Stonehill in the late 70’s, early 80’s, portrayed rebellion as a marionette who, hoping to be free, cuts its own strings. The song is “Puppet Strings.” We all know that such action doesn’t result in freedom – rather it leaves just a pile on the floor. Like the marionettes who reach up and cut the strings that enable and direct them, we lay crumpled and broken on the stage of life. No, God doesn’t manipulate our every move. That’s not Stonehills point. His point is that we cut ourselves off from the One who gives life meaning, value, and hope, thinking that independence from Him is true freedom. (Randy Rowland talks about his in his book, Sins We Love)

    Rebellion is like that. Rebellion doesn’t want to be dependent on anyone, be superior to everyone, and accountable to no one. Believing that we are unloved, that there is no larger story, that life is a bunch of random events strewn together, we refuse to engage a rationalistic life in an atheistic system. Nothing can truly be understood; nothing really matters in the end. All human activity is about a quest for power over others, we believe. Conceding these points, we then free ourselves of any responsibility to do something with our lives. Since life doesn’t really matter and God doesn’t really seem to care, I’ll light a joint, or pour a shot of whiskey, or go have a fling, or sleep away my life, or make myself dizzy on video games – whatever it takes to escape all the meaninglessness that I feel. We cut the strings.

    “We are all foolish puppets who are desiring to be kings; now lie bended, fully crippled after cutting all our strings.” In verse three of Puppet Strings, Stonehill sings “But God said I’ll forgive you; I will face you man-to-man and win your love again. O how could there be possibly a greater gift of love than dying for a friend.”

    The theist is one who surrenders to love. “I surrender.”

  20. InTheImageOfDNA

    Joey,

    Your last response still held on to the notion that people had “free-will” in light of the assertion that a god of omniscience existed. You never cleared up the logical inconsistencies this brought up.

    Keep in mind that if an omniscient god exists, he knows what you are going to type or not going to type even if you feel you “chose” to do so.

  21. sumpteretc

    DNA, I think some of those problems fade into insignificance when we consider that God exists outside of time. It’s not a matter of God knowing something before we do it. To Him, all times are the present. The fact that He knows what we are going to do in no way means that He has dictated it.

  22. Return of Tofu

    “Some have accused that I call atheists liars. Don’t believe it. I have done no such thing. ”

    A running theme on your blog is how atheists are “pretending” not to believe in god because they want to be rebels. That we secretly believe, but trick ourselves into thinking we don’t.

    Let’s look at some quotes!

    “The greatest thing that we cannot NOT know is that God exists. The only way to get around this witness of deep conscience is by self-deception, to tell myself that He doesn’t exist. The atheist must tell himself/herself that “I do not know what I really do know.” The atheist must pretend that they don’t hear or feel this witness of deep conscience.”

    “There are two great lies being circulated and believed today. Atheism is the first and foremost lie. While I have no problem with atheists personally, it is preposterous to assert that God does not exist, and then to claim that “I am in a sincere search for truth, and oh, by the way, there’s one area of investigation that is off-limits – God.” ”

    “I think the atheist knows that there is a God, but only tells himself that he doesn’t know.”

    “See, atheists don’t have a “to know” problem. its not that they can’t; it’s that they won’t.”

    “Well, the atheist i have found plays this elaborate hide-n-seek game with God. many pretend to be on the search; pretend to be happy; pretend that its ok not to have answers to life’s deeper questions.”

    “Such is a heart that is bent and determined to not allow God to be God. Offer alternative explanations for the evidence, even though its obvious, that God is. “God is,” says the atheist. “But I don’t want Him to be.” ”

    “One Atheist to Another: “Let’s Play Dumb” ”

    “The atheist is many times a wonderfully talented intellectual. I enjoy seeing the mind of an atheist at work. But, Dr. Budziszewski’s point is well-taken. Humans have the basics to understand right from wrong. But we don’t want it to be true. We play dumb to what we know to be obvious. We pretend to search for truth, to convince others that we are honest in the inquiry, but our hearts have already made up it’s mind, and even if the truth was in front of our nose, we would pretend not to see it. “Let’s play dumb.” ”

    “You see, something inside is telling the atheistic bloggers – God really does exist. Rather than yield to his love, the atheist will convince himself/herself that God doesn’t exist and in so doing, proves that he in fact does exist, but that they are unwilling to acknowledge it.”

    I’ll tell you as many times as I need to. I have never had experience or knowledge of this thing you call “god.” I’ve never had a religious vision or revelation. And I honestly don’t believe that the world we live in points towards a higher power.

    When I tell you that I don’t believe in god, I am being honest. It’s possible that I am also mistaken, but I am honest in my disbelief.

  23. Tofu…I’m still looking for where I have said “Atheists are liars.” Not finding it.

    My contention is that atheists know more than they realize; that entire areas of reason and logic and insight will open up to them when they surrender their self-will. I’m not saying atheists are liars; I’m saying that they “play dumb” to what they can and in many cases do know.

    I have never had a vision or revelation either. But I am absolutely convinced, based on arguments of First Cause, Intelligent Design, Special Revelation (The Bible, Jesus), Anthropological, etc… that it all points to something beyond me, something or Someone that transcends me.

    I also believe that it would be a tragedy for someone to live an entire lifetime and never once seriously consider the claims of Jesus. He is the aperture through which God is seen (Hebrews 1:1-3).

    You worship something or someone Tofu. We all do. To not believe in God, does not mean that we are free to believe in whatever we want. It’s far worse, said Chesterton. We believe in anything.

  24. InTheImageOfDNA

    Sumpter, if God knows what we are going to do and his knowledge is perfect, then we cannot deviate from that known course. If God is omniscient, there is no such thing as “free-will.”

  25. leftcoastlibrul

    Atheism is in fact a philosophy, a worldview. By it, you see and explain everything else.

    Nnnno, Atheism is, in fact, NOT a world view. It is simply a lack of belief in god(s). Philosophy, translated, means “love of wisdom.” If you can point me to a reliable citation which identifies and defines atheism as philosophy, I’d be happy to read it (note: a blog post is not a reliable citation). While there are and have been philosophers who identify as atheist (Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein, Diogenes) and there are plenty more who identify as a member of various religions (Voltaire, Plato, Socrates, Lao Tze, etc.) the various schools of philosophy (existentialism and nihilism as primary examples) have little to do with religion in and of themselves.

    If God is not, then all things are permissible. This plays out in subtle ways.

    No. This is a fallacious argument called Petitio Principii, or circular argument. Ethical and moralistic behavior does not prove god, any more than a lack thereof disproves god. Social mammals (such as humans) all have very developed societal structure and rules. I highly doubt Bonobos have heard of god…how do you explain their moral behavior?

    My desire to play/be god and your desire to play/be god is a universal truth. It’s not just mere autonomy that humans seek. We are in rebellion on this planet. “God is holding out on us” so we do our own thing. We are reflections of His image, but we have pulled out of the reflecting relationship. But even though his image in us has been defaced, it is not erased. Even in our rebellion, traces of divine design remain.

    Citation, please?

  26. I don’t think you undestand what you are saying (as many atheists do not) when you say there is no God. It impacts every thing else. And atheism as a worldview is weak; it can’t answer life’s deeper questions.
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/atheism-is-a-weak-worldview-when-pushed-to-its-logical-ends/

    As an atheist how do you answer the deeper questions in life? My hunch is that you will exclude God from your answers; thus this essential atheistic tenet in your worldview will bleed through every other answer that you give. Thus, it IS a worldview, whether you admit it or not. It will only allow you to see things a certain way – in your case, an atheistic worldview.

    Regarding the citation you have requested, Genesis 1-3; Romans 1-3.

  27. Not true DNA. We can deviate from Gods will. Thats what the Fall of mankind was about.

    Do you think all the evil that happens in our world is God’s will? This is what you’re leading me to believe with your logic (we cannot deviate?)

    It was a risk to create a world with free will, but it was a risk God was willing to take; love knows no other way. We create situations for God that He has not willed; but still He works to bring about the good, even with the evil that we do.

  28. Return of Tofu

    “Playing dumb” is lying. If I say that I don’t believe in god, but I actually do believe, I’m a liar.

    “The atheist must pretend that they don’t hear or feel this witness of deep conscience.”

    I don’t feel this witness of deep conscience. I honestly don’t. Yet you say that I must. It seems to me then that you are calling me a liar.

    Joey, the fact that you don’t believe in the Illuminati conspiracy is a worldview. Your disbelief in the Illuminati will bleed through into every other aspect of your life. Furthermore, not believing in the Illuminati doesn’t explain any of the deeper mysteries of life.

    Atheism is only a small part of a worldview. You can have atheistic religions, for example.

  29. leftcoastlibrul

    I don’t think you understand what you are saying (as many atheists do not) when you say there is no God.

    I’m pretty sure I do. When I say “to date, we have no verifiable evidence of any being or thing that can be described as ‘god,’ ” I’m aware that I am stating a fact.

    And atheism as a worldview is weak; it can’t answer life’s deeper questions.

    But I just told you it isn’t a world view.

    As an atheist how do you answer the deeper questions in life?

    Which questions?

    My hunch is that you will exclude God from your questions

    Good hunch.

    thus this essential atheistic tenet in your worldview will bleed through every other answer that you give. Thus, it IS a worldview, whether you admit it or not. It will only allow you to see things a certain way – in your case, an atheistic worldview.

    Again with the circular arguments. Just because I am an atheist does not mean I can only view the world from one perspective. That may be how YOU view the world….especially if your Christianity defines you… but I am able to appreciate more than one viewpoint. Socially, that is how we grow and how we learn. By absorbing new ideas and facts. My atheism doesn’t define me, but it certainly helps me understand others and communicate more objectively.

  30. InTheImageOfDNA

    Joey,

    You said: “Not true DNA. We can deviate from Gods will.”

    Fine, you just have to drop the omniscient quality from your god. If He knows the future and His knowledge is perfect, then there is a no way that humans can deviate from that.

    You wrote: “It was a risk to create a world with free will, but it was a risk God was willing to take; love knows no other way.”

    Are you saying God didn’t know what was going to happen? That he didn’t know the future? Exactly my point.

    This argument of mine doesn’t seek to disprove any god’s existence, it is simply pointing out that people who maintain that an omniscient god exists AND that we have free will, like yourself, are pushing contradictory, mutually exclusive, and incoherent ideas.

  31. What do you mean by “his knowledge is perfect”?

    If by this you mean that his mind is already made up, then why is the Bible filled with literally hundreds of admonitions for people to pray? For when we pray, we co-create a new future with God. We shape a new path, a new destiny. Furthermore, even though God’s character does not change, He has demonstrated a willingness to change his mind when people repent. God decrees some things that he will not change (like his promises to Israel). But there are many things that can and do change based on how I decide (read the Jonah story- God was going to destroy the Ninevites, they repented, and so God spared the nation). You are missing something in your understanding here. You have freedom to make decisions, either for or against what is right. How you decide will determine how God decides on things.

    Knowing something and not allowing something are two different things. God allows many things to go contrary to his will. Knowing the multitude of possibilities that one can choose from does nothing to violate our free will. But God does demonstrate that our choices matter and that we have to decide on many things, namely whether or not we want Him in our lives.

    If God immediately rewarded right behavior, everyone would live for him because it paid well. If God punished immediately bad behavior and every atheist, then everyone would believe because of fear. But God doesn’t do it this way. You have to decide of your own free will.

    God is Sovereign, but he has restricted Himself to work in certain ways to honor our free will. Can God step in and stop a murderer? You bet. But most of the time, he uses the policeman, good citizens, and the legal system. Can God step in and stop a disease? Yes. But most of the time, he uses doctors, biologists, to help find a cure. Can God zap someone for disobedience? Absolutely. But most of the time he simply allows us to live with the consequences or rewards of our decisions. God does not violate our free will, but he guides it with the institutions of home, church, and government.

    This is a very coherent position. So assume responsiblity for the decisions you make and you are an atheist, not because God predestined you to be, but because you are choosing it. And in so doing, you have placed yourself in a most disadvantageous position. You cannot explain where you came from, what went wrong in the world, what my role / purpose is in the world, what God is doing to fix the world, is there life after death, and if so, what can we know about it, how suffering is eventually resolved…etc, etc…

    The worldview of atheism will not work with these deeper life questions.

    If someone wants to call “playing dumb” a lie then that is there perogative, but don’t assign that to me. I did not say “Atheists are liars.” They pretend not to know what is knowable. I am not attacking someone’s character; but I also understand the kinds of mental games we play with not just others, but with our own minds.

  32. Return of Tofu

    “Can God step in and stop a murderer? You bet. But most of the time, he uses the policeman, good citizens, and the legal system. Can God step in and stop a disease? Yes. But most of the time, he uses doctors, biologists, to help find a cure. Can God zap someone for disobedience? Absolutely. But most of the time he simply allows us to live with the consequences or rewards of our decisions.”

    Interesting how this kind of god is indistinguishable from no god at all.

    “If someone wants to call “playing dumb” a lie then that is there perogative, but don’t assign that to me. I did not say “Atheists are liars.” They pretend not to know what is knowable.”

    It seems to me that pretending something is pretty close to lying about it. Obviously, though, I have missed the point you were trying to make, so apologies.

  33. InTheImageOfDNA

    Joey,

    You said: “Knowing the multitude of possibilities that one can choose from does nothing to violate our free will.”

    Exactly my point. You are violating your belief that your god is omniscient with that statement. If your god is omniscient, he doesn’t know the “possibilities” of our decisions, he knows our decision. No probability involved. God has already got in his noggin what we are going to do according to your beliefs and hence we may think we are “choosing” or “deciding” but we are merely following the pre-recorded tape. You can’t dance out of this logic. It is sound.

    Your position is still incoherent and self-contradictory. You can’t have an omniscient god and free-will. Pick one.

  34. But it’s not a pick one or the other proposition. God is Sovereign. Man has free will.

    God operates in a dimension that is not time-bound. So this is difficult for us to understand. But per our conversation a few days ago, I do think it is within the realm of possibility to state that God knows all that is knowable, BUT that until a decision is made, it is not “knowable” in the sense that it’s predetermined. A legitimate choice can be made and God enjoys it when we make the right decisions.

    Also, you think you have an airtight case, but it flies in the face of some very explicit verses that reveal God’s will. You simply ignore the Biblical evidence for free will. The Bible makes it clear that God waits before holding people accountable via judgment. Why? To give more people a chance to exercise their free will and believe in Him. You are not accounting for what is revealed in the Biblical data. Don’t set up this false dichotomy until you’ve done that.

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

  35. leftcoastlibrul

    But it’s not a pick one or the other proposition. God is Sovereign. Man has free will.

    This is in complete paradox with your next sentence.

    God operates in a dimension that is not time-bound. So this is difficult for us to understand. But per our conversation a few days ago, I do think it is within the realm of possibility to state that God knows all that is knowable, BUT that until a decision is made, it is not “knowable” in the sense that it’s predetermined.

    Theoretical physics is fun. If we have a being who is omniscient and omnipotent and exists in all areas of space time and as such views it all as one time with various different points instead of linearly, and everything that happens is his will, then human beings do not have free will. Because if everything that happens is according to god’s plan, then it was foreordained and therefore not humanity’s choice. You can’t have it both ways.

    Incidentally, you keep using the bible as a citation. Do you understand that by citation, I am asking for something that is factual and not interpretive?

  36. leftcoastlibrul

    Really? So it’s absolutely a fact that every species of animal ever born on earth up to that point was within walking distance of Noah’s ark?

    It’s a fact that he flood covered the earth with water fifteen cubits (twenty plus feet) above the highest mountains? Even though this would require steady, worldwide rainfall at the rate of about 6 inches per minute, 360 inches per hour, 8640 inches per day–for 40 days and nights–so as to cover the entire earth with an endless ocean 5 miles deep, thus burying 29,000 ft. Mt. Everest under 22 ft. of water. How did the author know the depth of the water? Did Noah take soundings? And where has all this water gone?

    And it’s a fact that, in the book of Exodus when Moses led the Israelites from Egypt there were approximately 2 million Israelites (based on 600,000 fighting men and allowing for older men, women and children) at a time when there weren’t even 2 million people in all of Egypt? (see Exodus 12:37)

    Moreover, as a nurse, I must disagree that it is NOT a fact that leprosy can be cured with the blood of a certain bird and some Aramaic incantations.

    Nor can I accept as factual the idea that “every king on the earth” sought out Solomon for his wisdom. There were plenty of kingdoms on the earth at that time that didn’t even know Solomon existed.

    So, no, I’m fairly confident the bible is interpretive and contextual.

  37. InTheImageOfDNA

    Joey,

    You said: “God is Sovereign. Man has free will.”

    Simply stating something doesn’t make it so.

    These two propositions still contradict each other.
    You wrote: “A legitimate choice can be made and God enjoys it when we make the right decisions.”
    So, in other words, God doesn’t know what we are going to do. He isn’t omniscient. Ok. I see you’d rather have it that way.

    You wrote: “Also, you think you have an airtight case, but it flies in the face of some very explicit verses that reveal God’s will.”

    I do have an airtight case. Logic and reason are independent of any text.

    You wrote: “You simply ignore the Biblical evidence for free will. The Bible makes it clear that God waits before holding people accountable via judgment. Why? To give more people a chance to exercise their free will and believe in Him. You are not accounting for what is revealed in the Biblical data.”

    “Biblical evidence” is about as useful as “Koranic evidence” or “Upanishadic evidence.” Appealing to scriptures is circular in the sense that it uses itself to justify itself and arbitrary in the sense that it’s authority is solely culturally derived and not derived from evidence.

    • “2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    Exactly. Even the writers of the Bible (and in this case Paul) didn’t see that they were holding contradictory notions about their god-concept. This verse makes it clear that the God doesn’t know who is going to come to “repentence,” or else he wouldn’t need to be “not wanting any to perish.” Thus, He isn’t omniscient.

    Ok, it seems you’d rather have a weaker god than give up free-will. Others have done so as I’ve mentioned before, such as Vox Day. The Calvinists went the other direction. They kinda gave up on free-will to preserve an omniscient god. It drove some of them half mad. Johnathan Edwards wrote in his diary much about how this gnawed at him constantly.

  38. sumpteretc

    Um, Paul didn’t write 2 Peter. Peter did.

  39. You are right; it was Peter.

    And also, he is joined by a number of biblical authors who write about the very real choice we have to “repent” – to change our minds, to make a decision regarding God, Jesus, and truth. Paul told Timothy that God wants all men to come to repentance (1 Timothy 2:4). John said that “whosoever” believes, can have life (John 3:16). And the Hebrew writer included several warning passages for those who had once embraced what I’ll call Christian Theism (in light of this blog), but were now in danger of turning their back on this system of belief, and more specifically, turning away from Christ. So, we do have a choice in this matter. Or these Biblical writers are merely playing games with the reader, and God is pretending to love the entire world and is pretending that they have a choice, while only planning on saving a predestined few that only He knows about.

    I think sumpteretc (from your other posts) that you’re seeing what i’m seeing in these posts – a fatalism and a deterministic theology that seeks to absolve the responsiblity of free will creatures from making choices that they should make.

  40. Some geologists though would affirm that a universal flood did in fact take place (at least according to Gleason Archer, an archeologist). So it is not out of the realm of possiblity. In addition, if there was a canopy of water over the earth as some have argued, and this canopy of water was released, then the case for universal flood gets even stronger. The statistics you offer would be consistent with this.

    There are many things to confirm that the Bible records the facts of history, that Israel existed, that the foreign powers mentioned existed, etc…. In addition, when it comes to Jesus, extra-biblical sources acknowledge his existence.

    The historicity of the text has been confirmed. And where there is speculation (regarding Lukes census or similiar issues) on the accuracy of the text, archeologically consistently reaffirms the details of the Bible.

    And what is critical to the case for Christian Theism is the gospel record. While we have miracles in the gospels, we don’t have myth. We don’t have flying carpets, talking trees, and half-human/half-animal creatures. It reads as fact. If the gospels are fact, then Christ is real and his message cannot be ignored.

  41. Return of Tofu

    “In addition, if there was a canopy of water over the earth as some have argued, and this canopy of water was released, then the case for universal flood gets even stronger.”

    The canopy theory? Really? Really? The canopy theory is pure unadulterated crazy. I don’t even know where to start. The pressure of that much water vapor (about 970 pounds per square inch, as opposed to the 15 pounds our atmosphere exerts) would cause the base of such a canopy to reach 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Also it would block out the stars, and I believe the Bible says something about god placing them to help divide light from day. Not much use if you can’t see them.

  42. Return of Tofu

    There are many things to confirm that Harry Potter records the facts of history, that London existed, that the foreign powers mentioned existed, etc….

    “In addition, when it comes to Jesus, extra-biblical sources acknowledge his existence.”

    If these are the sources you posted about in an earlier discussion, I’d like to point out that nearly all of them mention Christians and that they worship some guy called Christ, but are not actual accounts of Jesus himself.

    “While we have miracles in the gospels, we don’t have myth. We don’t have flying carpets, talking trees, and half-human/half-animal creatures.”

    Why do these things count as myth but the dead returning to life, fish and bread being multiplied, and the sun disappearing from the sky don’t?

    And the rest of the Bible contains just as much crazy stuff like this- talking snakes, animals giving birth to animals of a different species, seas parting, two of each animal fitting on a single boat, so I’m not really sure why you’re singling out the Gospels anyway. You believe in all of it, don’t you?

  43. InTheImageOfDNA

    Joey,

    Sorry for the author attribution error. It was a quick response and I didn’t double check.

    However, you still have not resolved the issue. Just as I’ve stated before, it seems you’ve held on to the notion of free will. Fine, it’s just you can’t maintain that your god is omniscient now. That’s my whole point.

    You wrote to sumpteretc: “you’re seeing what i’m seeing in these posts – a fatalism and a deterministic theology that seeks to absolve the responsiblity of free will creatures from making choices that they should make.”

    I’m not seeking to absolve anyone from any responsibility. I’m merely pointing out your beliefs are incoherent. I neither believe in any god nor in this magical ability called “free-will” that is also incoherent in its (usually theological) strong form where humans have an ability to step out of causality. I do believe people have deliberate choice and that we can indeed be held responsible for our actions. But to maintain that we are “uncaused causers,” as a strong form of free-will must entail, is nonsense.

  44. I have found your questions underscore a need for a new post on this. I have decided to do so of my own free will. ;o)
    https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/the-sovereignty-of-god-does-not-obligate-the-free-will-of-man/

  45. Yes, I believe the Bible. I hasten to the Gospels, to Him who is the Living Word, because in Christ we have the truth fleshed out. We can argue about the Flood and canopy theories, and the population of Egypt and about what the meaning of “goodness” is – but we eventually have to consider the claims of Christ. If He is who he said he was, then it’s imperative that I know what He said, what He did, and what I am to do in light of it.

    If one gets caught up on a “problem passage” in the Bible and begins to question the goodness and intent of God toward His creation, then Christ is the ultimate corrective. And the Gospels read as history, not myth. Christ submersed Himself into our humanity, authenticating and validating it. He restored and began to reverse the curse of the Fall. His life and resurrection call for response.

  46. Return of Tofu

    You didn’t explain why talking trees count as “myth” but the dead rising counts as “history.”

    “If He is who he said he was, then it’s imperative that I know what He said, what He did, and what I am to do in light of it.”

    “If one gets caught up on a “problem passage” in the Bible and begins to question the goodness and intent of God toward His creation, then Christ is the ultimate corrective.”

    But if there are problems in the Bible, that makes it less likely that Jesus was NOT who he said he was. Saying that “Jesus was the son of god, so that solves any problem passage in the Bible” is assuming your conclusion before you even begin.

    Similarly, if the Old Testament is incorrect (mythical) then it makes the Gospels much less likely to be correct (since they claim Jesus was the son of the God of the Old Testament).

  47. Because over 500 people saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion / resurrection (many of whom could still be interviewed). I don’t read where even one person saw a talking tree that had come to life again after that tree had died. We’re talking about real people here, verifiable by eye-witness accounts.

    In addition, those who have studied myth and fiction all their lives and know the nuances of the genre would verify what I am saying. The primary critic being C.S. Lewis. The Gospels do not read like fiction. There are real places, people, foreign powers, rulers, bodies of water, nations, customs, dietary laws, etc, etc… that are all true with the customs and claims of this time period.

    Much of the Old Testament is Messianic, in that it anticipates the coming of One who was promised and who will be the Savior of the World (see my OT summary for atheist).

    We can come at this both inductively and deductively. To start from Christ and work backwards will actually strengthen the case for Christian Theism and weaken the atheistic/OT full of myth position because Christ authenticates the OT in numerous quotations.

    In addition you can start with all the OT parts and work to the summary. What you will find is that Christ is the only one who could fulfill these OT prophecies.

    Take it from either direction (no assumption assumed); rather just a methodology. Either way, Christ stands above All.

  48. Return of Tofu

    “Because over 500 people saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion / resurrection (many of whom could still be interviewed).”

    The Bible says there were over 500, but we don’t actually have anywhere near 500 testimonies.

    “The Gospels do not read like fiction. There are real places, people, foreign powers, rulers, bodies of water, nations, customs, dietary laws, etc, etc… that are all true with the customs and claims of this time period.”

    I don’t know how much fiction you read, but it’s possible for authors to, you know, place their story in real places without the events actually taking place.

  49. “I don’t know how much fiction you read, but it’s possible for authors to, you know, place their story in real places without the events actually taking place.”

    This is, of course, true, but in ancient literature we don’t see myth interspersed with apparently meaninglessly detailed narrative, except in the gospels. Adding such detail to fiction to increase realism is a fairly modern device.

  50. Agreed.

    And also consider the genre of Gospel. It is dramatic narrative. There are artistic patterns discernible in the gospel writers. They were good writers, writing accurate stories complete with plot, character development, and setting. They contain the intermingled ingredients of historical impulse (to record the facts), the didactic impulse (to teach theology), and the literary impulse (to recreate experiences) (Leland Ryken). The Gospels are loosely chronological and have been described as passion stories with extended introductions.

    If you are looking for fiction or myth in the Gospels, the only place you will find it is in the Parables. So fiction is in the Gospels, but it’s clearly identified by the genre of story/parable that works as a subset within the larger genre of Gospel. And the larger genre of Gospel is all about recording what is true. The genre of parable may or may not be true, but the author clearly indicates “This is a story and it may or may not be true” but listen to the lesson that it teaches.

    Gospel descriptions are accurate. Also, there are embarrassing details about the authors themselves that lends to the credibility. Why embarrass yourself unless you were simply being truthful and telling it as it is?

    A myth cannot begin to crowd out historical facts while the eyewitnesses are still alive. All New Testament books were written before AD 100. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all picture the temple’s destruction which happened in AD 70. And John wrote his gospel shortly thereafter or by AD 90 at the latest.

    This means that the community would not allow myth to corrupt the story because there were simply too many eyewitnesses still alive to verify the details. Myth can only creep in when all eye-witnesses are gone, which is not the case with the Gospels.

    Amazingly, there are people suggesting that the Holocaust never really happened. Someday, there will be those who will deny that 911 happened in NY. But it will be only after centuries have passed and all eye-witnesses are long gone.

    What you have in the gospels are accurate accounts recorded within 30 to 40 years of their actual occurence. This along with an understanding of genre, the willingness of the authors themselves to die for their stories, the verifiability of the resurrection, and the incredible surge of Christianity in the first century, despite persecution, makes a very compelling case for an accurate, true, Gospel story.

  51. Return of Tofu

    So you can tell something is true if it’s detailed?

  52. No, but you can look at other literature of the day and see that nobody was including seemingly insignificant details like “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dust” when they were writing mythical literature.

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