Aaaand we get email! Yesterday, we heard from a fellow who objects to our objections to Christianity, because, as he goes on to explain, all other Christians are "ridiculous" because they've read the Bible all wrong, and he's the first one ever who's got God all figured out. Thing is, I don't see his version as being much of an improvement on the concept...
My replies, as written in my email back, appear within.
(And PS: The first person in the comments who makes the usual "Oh, I just can't believe anyone could be this stupid, this guy must be a Poe" remark gets to wear the Pointy Hat in the corner for 24 hours, and doesn't get any pudding after supper either.)
I'm a Christian.
Your anti-biblical arguments are strawmen, and your anti-theistic arguments are typically childish, because you are arguing against mainstream definitions of God, which themselves are ridiculous definitions. Shame on those of you who claim to be "former Christians" because you, like the rest of Christians, never attempted to define the biblical God in any kind of logically consistent manner.
So you're off to the races with a "no true Scotsman" fallacy right out of the gate? Look, we won't stop you from claiming that you are the only Christian out there who isn't working from a definition of God that is "ridiculous," but honestly, isn't that a matter for you to take up with your fellow Christians and not us? Shouldn't all of you come to some kind of consensus as to what this being is you worship, and want us to worship, whose supposed edicts you want enacted as laws that will affect all the rest of us? I really don't see how you can blame us for critiquing the concepts of God as they are presented to us by the vast majority of believers who contact us, even when you agree with us that these are "ridiculous" concepts. Really, where's your beef with us?
The only way to resolve the problem of evil, or to make sense of the biblical accounts, is to define God as a being subject to certain needs, weaknesses, and limitations. For example, the biblical God obviously lacks foreknowledge, because a loving God would not create Lucifer, Adam, and Eve knowing in advance that they would freely choose to fall. The most loving thing to do would be to create only those persons foreknown to freely chose righteousness.
WHY did God give Lucifer, Adam, and Eve enough freedom to hang themsleves? The only solution is to define God as a being who has an emotional need for voluntary fellowship. Had I the space, I would explain precisely WHY God has emotional needs.
Well, I suppose one can imagine a weak, stupid and insecure god just as easily as one can imagine an almighty, powerful, omniscient and omnipotent one. I think you're going to have a harder sell where your fellow Christians are concerned, though. Why worship someone with weaknesses and limitations? What believers want in a God is a being just like them, except idealized and perfect. Otherwise where is the appeal? I don't see too many religions thriving whose sales pitch is, "God! Just as pitiful as you!"
Next question. On what basis would the biblical God indict the whole world for the sin of Adam and Eve? The solution is quite simple. A soul defined as an immaterial substance is a logical absurdity beccause it leads to the insoluble mind-body problem, as the church father Tertullian pointed out in 200 AD. Therefore the soul must be defined as a tangible substance.
Lovely. Then it ought to appear on a CAT scan, an MRI, an X-ray or somewhere in the human genome. Let me know when you find it.
Let's assume for the moment that God created only one tangible soul named Adam. After Adam sinned, God extracted most of Adam's soul from his body and held it in suspended animation. At every human conception He mates a portion of this soul to the embryo. In other words, YOU are Adam. You were born guilty of sin because YOU are part of the Adam that originally sinned even though you don't remember living in the garden.
I see no reason to assume any of these things, but I do think you probably have a fantastic career ahead of you writing for Marvel Comics. Seriously, there's a plot here worthy of an entire series.
The biblical writers wrote with great brevity. Therefore we really don't know how severe Adam's rebellion was. For example we don't really know how many times he partook of the forbidden fruit before God pronounced sentence. But if we give God the benefit of the doubt, we'll assume that Adam's sin was severe enough to merit hellfire, although personally I don't believe that hell is everlasting. And since all men merit hellfire, we cannot regard the biblical God as tyrannical merely because he sent a Mesopotamian flood in Noah's day, or rained burning coals upon Sodom and Gomorrah, or allowed babes to starve to death. All are guilty in Adam.
Well, that all sounds like a pretty raw deal for every human being born since Adam. So far, what you've been describing are the actions of a god that I can only consider an incompetent clod at best and a malevolent psychopath at worst. Why, exactly, would God only create one soul, watch it epically fail, then continue reinstalling tiny bits of that same soul in all subsequent humans in the hopes that — what — it'll work this time? Why not just go back to the drawing board and keep plugging away until he's ready to launch the new and improved Soul 2.0, now with new sin-negating algorithms?
Remember what I said about your promising writing career? Scratch that, you have serious problems with story logic, even worse than the conventional Christian mythology you've dismissed as ridiculous. Exactly where is the sense in God suspending a broken and malfunctioning soul so you can keep using it, despite knowing it's broken and malfunctioning? I mean, even for religion, that's silly.
Let's move to another topic. Why believe in Christianity? Subjective experience is the only way for God to reveal Himself unfailingly. In other words He must persuade the heart that Christianity is the true religion, if in fact it is so. Why doesn't He give this revelation to everyone? Again, because He has needs and limitations. It COSTS Him, emotionally, to show kindness to people who regularly sin against Him even after they get the revelation.
Then frankly, he should have gone about his business in a less idiotic way. Stop re-using the same old broken souls for all of humanity, and get rid of the completely unjust sentence of hellfire and damnation for refusal to believe in something that you admit he is too incompetent and emotionally dysfunctional to communicate properly in the first place. Sorry, but if you're trying to cast your version of God in a sympathetic light, it ain't working. As you describe him, he's petulant, unintelligent, rash, given to tantrums, and incapable of following through on anything he's started, or even understanding the consequences of his own failed actions.
For the long-term safety of the universe, He will not emotionally expend Himself to the extent of mentally destabilizing the Godhead (because were that to happen, we WOULD end up with a capricious God).
No, the being you describe is already capricious, because he's not even in control of his own emotional health and compounds his mistakes by punishing people for his own failures, rather than simply correcting those mistakes. And apparently, if he gets extra pissy he'll blow up the universe or something. Talk about a buggy system! It's really sounding like God should have put together a better angelic QC team before creating stuff.
You know, your God isn't really much different or any more appealing than the conventional Christian concept after all.
The Bible says that God is love. This IMPLIES that He is already expending Himself to the max, that is, to the very brink of destabilizing the Godhead.
Therefore He needs our help in getting men saved. When we Christians pray to Him and worship Him, this ministers to His emotional needs - you might say it raises His pain threshhold - and thereby enables Him to impart the saving revelation to more and more unsaved people.
You know, Jerry, when you say stuff like this, do you know what we hear? We hear something like this: "In Thor #whatever, Thor, like all Asgardians, is shown to be not truly immortal but relies upon periodic consumption of the Golden Apples of Idunn to sustain his lifespan, which to date has lasted many millennia. After Odin's death, Thor inherited his father's power, the Odinforce. Thor becomes capable of feats such as reconstructing the Earth's Moon, willing the Asgardian monster Mangog into nothingness, and, by focusing his entire power into a hammer throw, decapitating a Desak-occupied Destroyer."
Yes, I got all that from the Wikipedia entry on the Thor comic book. Which is the point: to us, your mythology sounds no different than that one. You can describe this being you have imagined all you wish, but in the end I'm going to ask you the same question I ask all those other Christians with their "ridiculous" version of God: How do you propose to demonstrate that your God is real and not merely something you are imagining?
I claim to be the first person in Church history to provide any kind of reasonable, legitimate theodicy,
I think this claim is open to doubt.
but unfortunately I don't have time right now for a full exposition. Feel free to contact me with any objections and, if I have time, I'll provide you with more details on my views.
All I ask is that stop reading the Bible in a silly manner. Don't start with the assumption that God is insusceptible to weakness, because such assumptions makes the Bible look ridiculous. I realize that's how Christians have been reading it for 2000 years, but this kind of silliness is precisely why I haven't attended church for many years. I reached a point where I just couldn't stand it anymore.
As you've described it, your variation on the myth is no less silly. In places it's even moreso, as I've described above.
The incarnation demonstrates God's susceptibilty to weakness. Jesus became fatigued and needed rest. God is not, therefore, inherently strong. Strength is rather something He aquired over a long time, as the Ancient of Days. Nor is He inherently omniscient, as shown by the fact that Jesus arrived on earth as an ignornant babe. God therefore aquired His knowledge over time. Note well that a God defined as susceptible to learning would quite naturally create the species over a period of several billion years. Learning takes time.
Scientists tell us that the fossil record is consistent with a slow process of evolution. But it is also perfectly consistent with a creative Being who is slowly educating Himself, experimenting with various species.
You could also say evolution is "consistent" with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, provided you define that being the same way you're defining your god: a cosmic tinkerer who's just kind of messing around without really knowing what he's doing. Again, I fail to see why Christians should be eager to embrace this klutzy, inept, Aspie God you seem to find appealing.
If you actually study evolutionary theory (or any field of science for that matter), you find that what is so beautiful and elegant about them is that they make recourse to supernatural explanations totally unnecessary. Gone are the days when people had to fear that sickness was due to evil spirits clogging our humors. The more you study nature, the less need there is for cosmic tinkerers.
Does this imply that He is cruel to innocent animals? Again, let's not read the Bible in a silly manner. The Bible says that God is love. Therefore He isn't cruel to animals, in which case we can safely assume that animal souls are actually Lucifer's followers who already deserve hellfire. Therefore it isn't capricius for God to run experiments on animals, for they already deserve any suffering experienced.