Originally posted by rwingett
All the crimes commited by man do not excuse the crimes commited by god. After all, it is claimed that god is perfect, whereas man clearly is not. But god's behavior in the bible is no better than the worst of men.
I have no interest in picking a fight with your hypothetical god. But I'm more than happy to pick a fight with his followers. Followers who ...[text shortened]... o the logical contradictions inherent within the purported attributes of their 'loving' god.
Greetings to my fellow seekers,
I was not, originally, going to post a reply, but in light of the harsh and hurtful language being used, I will respond once, and then, if you wish, you may PM me if you want to debate further.
This thread raises a sobering issue: one that, I hope, we can approach with maturity and not with flippancy. If one has an issue with a worldview, let us express it, by all means. But, please, in the name of tolerance and of reason, which this board purposes to uphold, let us not descend into behavior that is not worthy of the man or woman who utters it. I beg, in all seriousness, that we approach matters such as this with pathos, concern, and desire for the truth, rather than cruelty and unbounded scorn. I applaud you for being willing to engage the emotions, but let us not descend into emotionalism. We are whole people, my friends. Let us show compassion.
That having been said, let us examine the allegations. I believe these can be boiled down into three main objections:
* Punishment of disobedience of God's law.
* Punishment for offending God's ego.
* Capital punishment with no chance of restitution.
First of all, let us examine the nature of sin (which, for further reference, has been addressed in another thread). Sin, by definition, whether one believes in its existence or not, is a violent rupturing, a willful act of rebellion that deserves death because it a direct assault on God's holiness (i.e., His seperateness and righteousness) and a deliberate violence against the intimate communion God desires with and for every human.
Secondly, let us consider the nature of God Himself (whether one believes in Him or not). God, by definition, is an infinite and absolute being, who is described as being in "eternity," which is to say, not governed by time. Thus, He experiences all time as the "present" unlike humans who must experience reality successively. This does not mean so much that He "ordains" the future, but that he is already in the future, cooperating actively with all humans' free will simultaneously. We, on the other hand, cannot know the future. We cannot say "if the man or woman said he or she was sorry, God would have spared them." We cannot say that for we do not know if they would have repented. Only He does and that makes Him the only rightful judge as to who shall live and who shall not. And as for the infants who perished, Christian theology also mentions that babes are under what is commonly known as the "age of accountability," i.e. they know no better and cannot be held responsible for their actions. Such deaths amount to direct admittance into bliss in Heaven.
Also it is worth considering that the Bible speaks of God as the author of all life. If this is true, then if the author of life takes my life, has He really taken it when He has the power to restore it? The reason we are forbidden to murder is that the lives we have taken do not belong to us. We cannot restore them. C.S. Lewis said that, at least at the present stage in history, God regards human birth chiefly as the prerequisite for human death; and regards human death as the chief qualification for the "other kind of life," i.e. the life in eternity. It is an ineradicably true statement that the Bible regards this life as a tenuous vapor that is here for a moment and passes away. The Christian perspective is that eternity is more important than this temporal life and that this physical universe is not all that there is. Death is not the end, merely a gateway. If Hell enters the equation, we need only refer to the issue of repentance (addressed immediately above).
As to God having an ego, this is an unnecesary anthropomorphism. The Old Testament states "God is not a man that He should change His mind," which is to say that God is not swayed by our insults or our praises. If we insult, His will is unchaged. If we praise, the same remains true (praise is meant for our benefit, not His). If God mentions that His anger "burns" against someone, that is only to help us understand His level of hatred for that which is evil, i.e. that which severs all ties with the source of goodness and makes imperfect mankind the author of reality, a place which man cannot and must not possess for the sake of reality itself.
At this point the skeptic may ask, "Aren't these a lot of hoops to jump through? Isn't it simpler to just say that either God does not exist or that He exists and is evil?" This is where another aspect of our being comes into play, namely the Will. I believe it is far simpler to put faith in a loving God. That is my perspective, and I don't believe I'm jumping through any hoops. I could easily deliver similar objections to the skeptic.
I believe I would be right in saying that there is intellectual material for both sides of the God debate. In the final analysis, one must make the transition from debate to decision. This takes faith. Not blind unreasoning faith, but what the Bible defines as faith ("pistis" in the Greek), a judicial term that denotes a sober conclusion based on evidence (the abscence of Descarte's rational certainty notwithstanding) from the chosen perspective; atheist, thesit, pantheist, or otherwise.
I realize that this post of mine will not convince the hard-nosed skeptic, and it is not designed to do so. I merely present a counterperspective. I beg all to believe me that I write in a most serious frame of mind. No flippancy is intended.
I do not wish to list comparative body counts, so I shall not do so. Let us not descend into the Vietnam syndrome where good and evil are determined by statistics and surveys. Instead, let truth be our goal.
The warmest regards possible,
P.S.: Forgive the number of edits, I just wanted to make sure that I said exactly what I wished to communicate. Thanks again in advance for your patience.