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Atheism of the gaps

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Professor Jerry Coyne has recently written a post titled, Atheism of the gaps, in which he urges skeptics to “make believers read about unbelief” before listening to their arguments, and “make atheism-of-the-gaps arguments.”

In the first section of his post, Professor Coyne throws down the gauntlet:

If people can fault us for not reading Aquinas, Augustine, Origen, Tertullian and (ugh) Alvin Plantinga and David Bentley Hart, well, then, we can do the same to them. If they haven’t read extensively in the honorable intellectual tradition of nonbelief, then they have no credibility as believers. Frankly, Salon should publish a piece that says this.

And what does he suggest that believers read?

Tell believers that we won’t pay any attention to their superstitions, or their criticisms of atheists, until they’ve read The Very Best of Atheist Thought. These works must include the books of the Four Horsemen (one would think the faithful would already have read these, but their misunderstandings about The God Delusion lead me to believe otherwise), the complete works of Robert G. Ingersoll, selected readings from Mencken and Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchens’s The Portable Atheist, selected writings of Hume, Walter Kaufmann’s The Faith of a Heretic and Critique of Religion and Philosophy, and Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science: A Critique of Religious Reason (I highly recommend the last book, which is fairly new).

What Coyne fails to mention is that there are many believers who have already read and critiqued the authors he cites. Here are some good links:

David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Hume, cosmological arguments, and the fallacy of composition by Dr. Edward Feser, Assistant Professor of philosophy at Pasadena City College (and a former atheist).
Hume, science, and religion by Dr. Edward Feser.
A World of Pure Imagination by Dr. Edward Feser.
Critique of the Cosmological Argument: Hume by Professor Robert Koons, Professor of Philosophy University of Texas at Austin.
David Hume and the Argument from Design by Professor Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin.

Robert Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses
The Bible Defended: A Review of Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason” and R.G. Ingersoll’s “Mistakes of Moses,” “Lecture on skulls,” etc.: with ample quotations from both infidel and Christian writers: Being an answer and rebuke to infidel questions and atheistic assertions by Reuel S. Webber. Boston: H.L. Hastings, 1888.
Inger’s Whinge. A collection of two dozen replies to Robert Ingersoll, dating from the nineteenth century.

Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian
Why I am not an Atheist by David Robertson, minister of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, Scotland.
Why I am not an atheist (Ravi Zacharias at Princeton) (45-minute video).
Why I’m not Bertrand Russell by Steve Hays at Real Clear theology.
A Critical Response to Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian by Warren Rachele.
Analysis: Why I Am NOT A Christian, by Bertrand Russell by ex-atheist “Stan” at Atheism Analyzed.

H. L. Mencken
H. L. Mencken: Is this your hero, New Atheists? by Vincent Torley.

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Review Article: The God Delusion or the Dawkins Delusion? by Rev. Stephen Clark (an Anglican priest who lives in Adelaide, South Australia). In Foundations, Spring 2007.
Review: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins by Dr. James Hannam, author of God’’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science.
Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching by Terry Eagleton. In London Review of Books, Vol. 28 No. 20, 19 October 2006, pages 32-34.
Dawkins et al bring us into disrepute by Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy and zoology at Florida State University. In The Guardian, 2 November 2009.
Professor Antony Flew reviews The God Delusion at bethinking.org.

Sam Harris, The End of Faith
A Long Response to Sam Harris’ The End of Faith by Dr. Neil Shenvi.
A Response to The End of Faith – Frequently Asked Questions by Dr. Neil Shenvi.
Trading Faith for Spirituality: The Mystifications of Sam Harris by Meera Nanda, a biologist and philosopher of science and author of Prophets Facing Backwards, who has written many articles for Butterflies and Wheels.

Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great
Christopher Hitchens: My Response to god is not Great by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts.
A Brief Response to Christopher Hitchens’ God is not great by Dr. Neil Shenvi.
Hitchens vs. Hitchens by Peter Hitchens.

Walter Kauffman, The Faith of a Heretic
The Faith of a Heretic. Interview with Harper’s Magazine, February 1959.
Excerpt from The Faith of a Heretic. From Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1961), pp. 149-52, 168-69, 170-72, 177-78, 180-81. (I couldn’t find any online responses to Kauffman’s book. If anyone knows of one, please feel free to contact me. Actually, Kauffman’s writings constitute a valuable counterfoil to Hitchens’ and Dawkins’ vitriolic criticisms of Judaism and the God of the Old Testament.)

Herman Philipse, God in the Age of Science: A Critique of Religious Reason
On Philipse’s Attempt to Write Off All Deductive Cosmological Arguments by Dr. Emmanuel Rutten, Philosophy Department, University of Amsterdam. In Philo Vol. 16, No. 1, Spring-Summer 2013.
God in the Age of Science?: A Critique of Religious Reason. Review by Andrew Pinsent, University of Oxford.

Atheism of the gaps arguments

Next, Professor Coyne urges skeptics to make “atheism of the gaps” arguments:

Religionists often float God-of-the-gaps arguments, saying that God must lie in the interstices of our scientific understanding. Well, we can play that game, too. There are huge gaps in believers’ understanding of God, and in those lacunae, I claim, lies strong evidence for No God. Here are some of those religious gaps:

  • Why would the Abrahamic God, all-loving and all-powerful, allow natural evils to torment and kill people? Why can’t he keep kids from getting cancer? How did the Holocaust fit into God’s scheme?
  • Why, if God wants us to know and accept him so much, does he hide himself from humanity?
  • Why would an omnibenevolent God consign sinners to an eternity of horrible torment for crimes that don’t warrant that? (In fact, no crimes do!). The official Catholic doctrine, for instance, is that unconfessed homosexual acts doom you to an eternity of immolation in molten sulfur. And would the Christian God really let someone burn forever because they were Jews, or didn’t get baptized?
  • Why is God in the Old Testament such a jerk, toying with people for his amusement, ordering genocides in which women and children are killed en masse, and allowing she-bears to kill a pack of kids just for making fun of a prophet’s baldness? How does that comport with the God worshipped today?
  • Why didn’t Jesus return during his followers’ lifetime, as he promised?

…[T]heism doesn’t even begin to provide credible answers to the goddy puzzles above, and, unlike science, has never made a bit of progress in attacking them. So, I claim, we can find good evidence for atheism in the gaps of religious understanding. And that tactic trumps religious God-of-the-gaps arguments, because the gaps in science grow smaller as we learn more (neuroscience is one example), while the gaps in theism are always the same size.

Professor Coyne displays his historical ignorance in the last paragraph: the ancient Greeks knew nothing of fine-tuning, or of evidence for the universe having had a beginning, and they also believed in spontaneous generation.

For those who are interested, the following links should help answer most of Professor Coyne’s questions.

Why des God allow natural evils to keep killing people?
Does a Good God Exist? – A Debate with Christopher Hitchens by Professor William Dembski. Professor Dembski’s remarks on the problem of evil hit the nail on the head.
Tsunami and Theodicy by David Bentley Hart.
Is the Existence of God Compatible with Gratuitous Evil? by Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder.
On Rowe’s Argument from Particular Horrors by Daniel Howard-Snyder.
Must Good Come From Every Evil? by Bruce Little.

Where was God in the Holocaust?
Where was God in the Holocaust? by Rabbi Evan Moffic.
Belief After the Holocaust by Nissan Dovid Dubov.

Why doesn’t God reveal Himself more clearly?
Why doesn’t God just make Himself obvious to us?
Why doesn’t God just show Himself? by Scott Youngren.
Why isn’t the God of the Bible showing Himself to me? by Glenn Miller.

The alleged cruelty of God in the Old Testament
Why morality cannot be 100% natural: A Response to Professor Coyne by Vincent Torley. (Discusses Old Testament morality and addresses charges that the Old Testament sanctions genocide and injustice.)

S. Michael Houdmann also makes some pertinent observations in What does the Bible say about child sacrifice?:

Molech worship was practiced by the Ammonites and Canaanites, who revered Molech as a protecting father figure. Images of Molech were made of bronze, and their outstretched arms were heated red-hot. Living children were then placed into the idol’s hands and died there or were rolled into a fire pit below…

God prohibited Israel from child sacrifice in general and Molech worship in particular. Leviticus 20:2-5 states, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.’” Many other Old Testament passages affirm God’s zero-tolerance for child sacrifice.

Question…wasn’t Elisha very cruel when he sent those bears against those little kids who were teasing him about being bald? by Glenn Miller. It turns out that they weren’t little kids, but a gang of young men who were threatening worshipers of God.

Hell
Hell by Professor Peter Kreeft.
Pope John Paul II on Hell. Sermon from a General Audience (Wednesday, 28 July, 1999).
The Biblical View of Hell by Glenn Miller. (Scroll down to the section on “the traditional view”. This article is well worth reading, as it will change the way you think about hell.)
Hell: a difficult doctrine we dare not ignore by Dr. Christopher Townsend.

Homosexuality
“What will I tell my gay friends?” by ex-atheist Jennifer Fulwiler.
A conversation with my gay friend by Jennifer Fulwiler.

Did Jesus wrongly predict His return?
Did Jesus Wrongly Predict a First Century Return in Matthew 24:34? by Marshall “Rusty” Entrekin. An unusually thorough discussion which proposes no less than four solutions compatible with orthodox faith.

If readers would like to suggest other helpful articles, then I would be glad to add them to the list.


Comments
Jerry Coyne-- just another idiot felicity2112
1914 : Failed Watchtower Prophecy But then there are also people who claim that 1948 is fulfilled prophecy, or that 1967 is fulfilled prophecy, or that Jesus wlll return in (pick your year: 1987, 1988, 2000, 2007, ...) or that the world will end in 2060 (ala BA77 and his slavish believe in Newton's calculations). GROW UP CHRISTIANS! Mung
Do you have an answer which will satisfy the atheists? I guess the answer is no. But seriously Barb, the Jehovah's Witnesses is a cult. Flee for your life. Flee for your soul. Mung
Barb:
In Revelation, John is given visions showing Christ ascending the throne and judging mankind. This is in the future.
Mung:
How do you know it’s in our future?
Mung:
Is Christ’s ascending to the throne really in our future?
Barb:
No.
So Christ ascended to the throne in the past (not in our future). You said it was in the future. When did Christ ascend to the throne? 1914? Did the judgement not begin when Christ ascended to the throne? Is it still in our future? Did it begin in 1914? Why did Peter write, thousands of years ago:
because it is the time of the beginning of the judgment from the house of God, and if first from us, what the end of those disobedient to the good news of God?
And why did Luke record in Acts:
But when he dealt with the subjects of justice, self-control, and the judgement which was soon to come, Felix became alarmed...
Do you have an answer which will satisfy the atheists? Mung
Barb:
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses say that God’s Kingdom was established in 1914?
Who cares? I didn't ask that question. Who here asked that question? (you need to FLEE that cult) 1914 : Failed Watchtower Prophecy Mung
Barb:
The fact that you don’t understand Bible prophecy doesn’t prove the Bible wrong.
Where have I claimed that the Bible is wrong? That fact that you don't understand what I am saying doesn't prove me wrong! You don't have an effective response to the atheists. I do. Your response is to tell them the Bible doesn't say what it plainly says. My response is to agree with them about what the Bible plainly states, and tell them that the things it claims were about to come to pass did in fact comes to pass. The preterist response answers the atheists. Those things came to pass as and when Jesus and the apostles declared they would. They were not false prophets. The futurist response, your response, does not, and cannot, answer the atheists because it agrees with the atheist premise! I don't know how I can make it any more clear than that. Preterists deny the truth of their premise. Futurists grant them the truth of their premise. Why? Mung
bb, if I were to recommend one book, it would be this one: The Parousia: The New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord's Second Coming For all I know you can find it online for free. Mung
Hi bb, No offense taken. An internet search did turn up the following:
Discovered around 1930, near Fayum, Egypt together with two younger manuscripts of the Gospels, Acts and Revelation it is classified as Papyrus 46 ... ...new discoveries and reevaluation of evidence was applied to Papyrus 46. Scholar Young Kyu Kim in a thorough and highly technical paper concluded that Papyrus 46 should be dated to the later 1st century before the reign of Domitian. here
I certainly wouldn't hang my hat on that though. You're right, Revelation is full of symbolism and it's not always easy for us to tease out what the symbols mean. Presumably they meant more to those to whom it was written at the time. :) In Rev 11 If speaks of a temple, It speaks of the city where their Lord was crucified. I there any indication in the text whatsoever that they have already been destroyed by the roman armies? Also, keep an eye out for the parallels with the Gospels. Ho are they not describing the same events? Most preterists, along with amillenialists, deny that the thousand years is a literal 1000 year period. Most preterists are probably likewise not premillenialists, and thus again with amillenialists, deny a literal reign of Jesus from the earthly city of Jerusalem in some form of "benevolent dictatorship." Much of what you are looking for in the way of fulfillment apears to be based upon a literal interpretation, and preterists see much of that as imagery. So for example, if I were deny that Christ had returned because he never came back riding a white horse, with a sword coming out of his mouth and wearing clothes drenched in blood, wouldn't I be right? Is that a literal description of how he is going to return, or is that imagery? Mung
Mung, I realized that one might take offense to a "tone" in the comment above. Please take no offense as you're one of the commenters here I enjoy reading most. The above are challenges to preterist eschatology that I've heard, and that have come to my mind, without hearing or reading your side articulated yet. I'm new to this debate and am ready to learn. bb
Mung, If Christ returned in A.D. 70, what happened to the millenial reign of Christ? I've heard some say we're living in it. But where is Christ and why has it lasted more than 1000 years? From what I read in prophecy, things should look a lot different than what we've seen over church history which is very anti-climactic by comparison: i.e. Christ himself on earth ruling as benevolent dictator, Mt. Zion the tallest in the world, Dead Sea full of fresh water, a massive temple in Jerusalem, nations heading to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the feast of tabernacles or face judgement. There are also a number of end times prophecies that I haven't seen any evidence for happening yet. I.E. marriage and certain foods banned (2 Tim 4...The Roman emperor banned marriage for young men during Valentine's time but the saint died in 269), no one being able to buy or sell without the mark of the beast, an evil, global dictator (while Rome was expansive, it wasn't global), Israel attacked by many nations and rescued by Christ himself at His return. I'm just wondering how preterists deal with these. Please feel free to reply with link or list of links. bb
Mung, Fair enough. I'm not familiar with the arguments for the date of the writing of Revelation. I was just told by sources that I trust that it was circa 90. This will be fun to explore. I just came across this bit from When Was Revelation Written?:
Revelation 17:10 tells us when the book was written. “There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time” (Revelation 17:10). This verse is referring to seven kings, who are emperors of Rome. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has yet to come. This means that five have died. The sixth is currently reigning. The seventh is not yet ruling.
I find the verse so vague that I can't see how anyone can pin it down and say "Yup. That's it." But I guess the interpretation of Roman emperors is as fair as any. Do you know of any Revelation manuscripts dated prior to A.D. 90? bb
Here is the detailed explanation referred to in my post above. Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses say that God’s Kingdom was established in 1914? Two lines of evidence point to that year: (1) Bible chronology and (2) the events since 1914 in fulfillment of prophecy. Here we will consider the chronology. Read Daniel 4:1-17. (Daniel 4:20-37)show that this prophecy had a fulfillment upon Nebuchadnezzar. But it also has a larger fulfillment. How do we know that? Daniel 4:3, 17 show that the dream that God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar deals with the Kingdom of God and God’s promise to give it “to the one whom he wants to . . . even the lowliest one of mankind.” The entire Bible shows that Jehovah’s purpose is for his own Son, Jesus Christ, to rule as His representative over mankind. (Ps. 2:1-8; Dan. 7:13, 14; 1 Cor. 15:23-25; Rev. 11:15; 12:10) The Bible’s description of Jesus shows that he was indeed “the lowliest one of mankind.” (Phil. 2:7, 8; Matt. 11:28-30) The prophetic dream, then, points to the time when Jehovah would give rulership over mankind to his own Son. What was to happen in the meantime? Rulership over mankind, as represented by the tree and its rootstock, would have “the heart of a beast.” (Dan. 4:16) The history of mankind would be dominated by governments that displayed the characteristics of wild beasts. In modern times, the bear is commonly used to represent Russia; the eagle, the United States; the lion, Britain; the dragon, China. The Bible also uses wild beasts as symbols of world governments and of the entire global system of human rulership under the influence of Satan. (Dan. 7:2-8, 17, 23; 8:20-22; Rev. 13:1, 2) As Jesus showed in his prophecy pointing to the conclusion of the system of things, Jerusalem would be “trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations” were fulfilled. (Luke 21:24) “Jerusalem” represented the Kingdom of God because its kings were said to sit on “the throne of the kingship of Jehovah.” (1 Chron. 28:4, 5; Matt. 5:34, 35) So, the Gentile governments, represented by wild beasts, would ‘trample’ on the right of God’s Kingdom to direct human affairs and would themselves hold sway under Satan’s control.—Compare Luke 4:5, 6. For how long would such governments be permitted to exercise this control before Jehovah gave the Kingdom to Jesus Christ? Daniel 4:16 says “seven times” (“seven years,” AT and Mo, also JB footnote on Daniel 4:13). The Bible shows that in calculating prophetic time, a day is counted as a year. (Ezek. 4:6; Num. 14:34) How many “days,” then, are involved? Revelation 11:2, 3 clearly states that 42 months (3 1/2 years) in that prophecy are counted as 1,260 days. Seven years would be twice that, or 2,520 days. Applying the “day for a year” rule would result in 2,520 years. When did the counting of the “seven times” begin? After Zedekiah, the last king in the typical Kingdom of God, was removed from the throne in Jerusalem by the Babylonians. (Ezek. 21:25-27) Finally, by early October of 607 B.C.E. the last vestige of Jewish sovereignty was gone. By that time the Jewish governor, Gedaliah, who had been left in charge by the Babylonians, had been assassinated, and the remaining Jews had fled to Egypt. (Jeremiah, chapters 40-43) Reliable Bible chronology indicates that this took place 70 years before 537 B.C.E., the year in which the Jews returned from captivity; that is, it took place by early October of 607 B.C.E. (Jer. 29:10; Dan. 9:2) How, then, is the time calculated down to 1914? Counting 2,520 years from early October of 607 B.C.E. brings us to early October of 1914 C.E., as shown on the chart. CALCULATING THE “SEVEN TIMES” “Seven times” = 7 X 360 = 2,520 years A Biblical “time,” or year = 12 X 30 days = 360. (Rev. 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14) In the fulfillment of the “seven times” each day equals one year. (Ezek. 4:6; Num. 14:34) Early October, 607 B.C.E., to December 31, 607 B.C.E.= 1/4 year January 1, 606 B.C.E., to December 31, 1 B.C.E. = 606 years January 1, 1 C.E., to December 31, 1913 = 1,913 years January 1, 1914, to early October, 1914 = 3/4 year Total: 2,520 years What happened at that time? Jehovah entrusted rulership over mankind to his own Son, Jesus Christ, glorified in the heavens.—Dan. 7:13, 14. Then why is there still so much wickedness on earth? After Christ was enthroned, Satan and his demons were hurled out of heaven and down to the earth. (Rev. 12:12) Christ as King did not immediately proceed to destroy all who refused to acknowledge Jehovah’s sovereignty and himself as the Messiah. Instead, as he had foretold, a global preaching work was to be done. (Matt. 24:14) As King he would direct a dividing of peoples of all nations, those proving to be righteous being granted the prospect of everlasting life, and the wicked being consigned to everlasting cutting-off in death. (Matt. 25:31-46) In the meantime, the very difficult conditions foretold for “the last days” would prevail. Those events have been clearly in evidence since 1914. Before the last members of the generation that was alive in 1914 will have passed off the scene, all the things foretold will occur, including the “great tribulation” in which the present wicked world will end.—Matt. 24:21, 22, 34. When will the end of this wicked world come? Jesus answered: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” However, he also stated: “Truly I say to you that this generation [that was alive when “the sign” of “the last days” began its fulfillment] will by no means pass away until all these things occur.”—Matt. 24:36, 34. Also, after telling of events that would follow the establishment of the Kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ in 1914, Revelation 12:12 adds: “Be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” Barb
Mung continues,
But atheists can read. And most Christians are not biblical scholars. The OP raises the question about how to respond to the atheist challenge to the prophetic words of Christ and the apostles. How do you answer their challenge?
By what I posted. Yes, atheists can read. But not many of them read the Bible, and fewer still have ever sat down and actually studied it.
You seem to be arguing that when Christ and the apostles spoke of the soon return of Christ that they didn’t really mean soon, or that soon did not mean soon. Based upon what? That’s what any atheist is going to want to know.
The disciples believed that Jesus’s kingdom was going to overthrow Roman rule and allow the Jews to live freely again. This didn’t happen. What is it based upon? What’s written in the Bible.
I have an answer. Do you?
Yes, and I posted it above.
Why doesn’t my answer meet the atheist critique? How does your answer meet the atheist critique?
Your answer isn’t an answer. You state that you can’t figure out why the books of Daniel and Revelation both speak of Jesus’s coming. This isn’t something that can be answered with one or two sentences. This is a prophecy that requires some time to understand, and that requires both reading and studying the Bible.
I was quoting your post @ 41! You tell me. How do you know it’s in our future?
I was quoting you in post #41. I know it’s in the future because many of the signs of Jesus’s presence as king haven’t come to pass yet (peace on Earth, for example).
Matthew 16:27 says the judgment is about to occur.
Yes, and Jesus was concerned about his disciples since he knew that his betrayal and death were near. He promises some of them a sign from heaven. ‘Truly I say to you, there are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28) Obviously, Jesus did not mean that the disciples would live until the establishment of the Kingdom, which occurred centuries later. (There’s a detailed explanation for this in the books of Daniel and Revelation). This is what I posted earlier: Jesus showed them his glory in kingdom power by means of the transfiguration.
Matthew 3:10 says the axe is already laid to the root. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire. (NLT)
The ax of God’s judgment here is referring to his judging those claiming to be followers of Christ (“Every tree”). This does not refer to his judging the entire world as king of God’s Kingdom. For a parallel account, see Luke 13:6-9 and Matthew 7:19.
Is Christ’s ascending to the throne really in our future?
No. Christ’s judging humanity is in the future, but my understanding of the NT shows that the kingdom came to power in heaven in 1914. Again, this requires a pretty detailed explanation. This belief is also not shared by many other Christians. We know that Jesus indicated that there would be signs of his presence as king (see Matthew chapter 24). We see those signs being fulfilled today.
Why does the entire New Testament say otherwise?
It doesn’t. The fact that you don’t understand Bible prophecy doesn’t prove the Bible wrong. Barb
Barb:
In Revelation, John is given visions showing Christ ascending the throne and judging mankind. This is in the future. Which scripture are you referring to? Is it in chapter 19?
I was quoting your post @ 41! You tell me. How do you know it's in our future? Matthew 16:27 says the judgment is about to occur. Matthew 3:10 says the axe is already laid to the root.
Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire. (NLT)
Is Christ's ascending to the throne really in our future? Why does the entire New Testament say otherwise? Mung
Barb:
Atheists can claim whatever they want. They’re not exactly known for being biblical scholars...Very little will convince an atheist.
But atheists can read. And most Christians are not biblical scholars. The OP raises the question about how to respond to the atheist challenge to the prophetic words of Christ and the apostles. How do you answer their challenge? You seem to be arguing that when Christ and the apostles spoke of the soon return of Christ that they didn't really mean soon, or that soon did not mean soon. Based upon what? That's what any atheist is going to want to know. I have an answer. Do you? Why doesn't my answer meet the atheist critique? How does your answer meet the atheist critique? Mung
bb @ 44:
Mung, I’m probably too late, as usual for me at this site, but hope you see this comment. Doesn’t the preterist view hold all prophecy regarding Christ’s return to be fulfilled by A.D. 70? If so, what do preterists do with the fact that Revelation was written in A.D. 90?
Hello bb, not too late! Preterists deny that it is a fact that Revelation was written in AD 90.
One of the oddest facts about the New Testament is that what on any showing would appear to be the single most datable and climactic event of the period - the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and with it the collapse of institutional Judaism based on the temple - is never once mentioned as a past fact.
Redating the New Testament
My confident conviction is that a solid case for a Neronic date for Revelation can be set forth from the available evidences, both internal and external. In fact, I would lean toward a date after the outbreak of the Neronic persecution in late A.D.64 and before the declaration of the Jewish war in early A.D.67. A date in either A.D.65 or early A.D.66 would seem most suitable.
When Jerusalem Fell Mung
Mung @ 42: Whether I believe it or not is irrelevant. We’re talking about atheists here, and about how to respond to their claims that Jesus and the apostles were mistaken. Atheists can claim whatever they want. They're not exactly known for being biblical scholars. Your response is that the apostles were mistaken and that what Jesus said can be re-interpreted so as to ignore the obvious meaning. That’s not going to convince an atheist! Very little will convince an atheist. The scripture you referenced has parallel accounts in other gospels which correspond to the transfiguration. That, to me, seems the best explanation. Remember, not every word in the Bible is to be taken literally. In Revelation, John is given visions showing Christ ascending the throne and judging mankind. This is in the future. Which scripture are you referring to? Is it in chapter 19? How do you know it’s in the future? Does this vision correspond to the same vision Daniel was give? There are some parellels, yes. To Daniel: But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. To John: Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. Concerning this text, commentator Thomas Scott, in the first half of the 19th century, observed: “The angel, by way of conclusion, intimated to Daniel, that this prophecy would remain obscure, and as ‘a sealed book,’ of which little would be understood, ‘till the time of the end’ . . . The fact has evidenced this to be the case: immense difficulties have always been acknowledged in many of Daniel’s prophecies, and they have been ‘as words shut up’ even from believers in general. . . . In these latter ages many have bestowed great pains, in searching into history, to illustrate those parts of these prophecies which are already accomplished; and by comparing them with other scriptures, to form some judgment of what yet remains to be fulfilled: and thus much light has been thrown on them. As they shall gradually be more and more accomplished, they will be better understood: and future generations will be far more surprised and instructed by them, than we are.” (Scott’s Explanatory Notes, 1832) The lack of understanding concerning Daniel’s prophecies in the early part of the 19th century indicated that this foretold “time of the end” was yet future, since those “having insight,” God’s true servants, were to understand the prophecy in “the time of the end.” You're referring here to an angel’s declaration to Daniel, which began back at Daniel 10:20, and which now concludes with these heartwarming words: “And as for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of the end. Many will rove about, and the true knowledge will become abundant.” (Daniel 12:4) Much of what Daniel was inspired to write was indeed made secret and sealed up to human understanding. Why, Daniel himself later wrote: “Now as for me, I heard, but I could not understand.” (Daniel 12:8) In this sense Daniel’s book remained sealed for centuries. What about today? We are privileged to live in “the time of the end” foretold in the book of Daniel. As prophesied, many faithful ones have ‘roved about’ in the pages of God’s Word. The result? With God's blessing, true knowledge has become abundant. Daniel 11:31) This abundance of knowledge, then, is yet another identifying mark of “the holy ones of the Supreme One.” The expression “time of the end” does not mean an ‘end of time’ but denotes a period of time that culminates in the end or destruction, not of all things, but of the things mentioned in the prophecy. That time itself will not end is made clear in the Scriptures. For example, the psalmist said concerning the earth: “It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” (Ps 104:5) Since the earth will continue to exist, it necessarily follows that time, as an earthly “dimension” or measurement, will not cease. While it is true that Revelation 10:6 may be rendered “there should be time no longer,” the context indicates that this means no further grant of time; thus, a specific or allotted period of time terminates. (KJ) Other translations, therefore, read: “There should be no more delay.” (AT, RS) “There will be no delay any longer.” (NW) Commenting on this text, A. T. Robertson observes: “This does not mean that chronos (time) . . . will cease to exist, but only that there will be no more delay in the fulfillment of the seventh trumpet (verse 7), in answer to the question, ‘How long?’ (6:10).”—Word Pictures in the New Testament, 1933, Vol. VI, p. 372. Barb
Mung, I'm probably too late, as usual for me at this site, but hope you see this comment. Doesn't the preterist view hold all prophecy regarding Christ's return to be fulfilled by A.D. 70? If so, what do preterists do with the fact that Revelation was written in A.D. 90? bb
Matthew 16:27 in the Greek: http://biblehub.com/text/matthew/16-27.htm http://biblehub.com/interlinear/matthew/16-27.htm Mung
Barb:
You don’t have to believe it, but it is a valid explanation for the scripture quoted above.
Whether I believe it or not is irrelevant. We're talking about atheists here, and about how to respond to their claims that Jesus and the apostles were mistaken. Your response is that the apostles were mistaken and that what Jesus said can be re-interpreted so as to ignore the obvious meaning. That's not going to convince an atheist!
In Revelation, John is given visions showing Christ ascending the throne and judging mankind. This is in the future.
How do you know it's in the future? Does this vision correspond to the same vision Daniel was give? To Daniel:
But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.
To John:
Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near.
Mung
Mung writes,
The claim that the account of the transfiguration was a fulfillment of that prophecy is just ludicrous.
You don’t have to believe it, but it is a valid explanation for the scripture quoted above.
How many of the disciples had died in those six days? Is this really what Jesus said? “Truly I say to you, there are one or two of those who are standing here who will taste death without seeing the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” No, more than six days is clearly in sight here. And really, how many were on the mount with Him?
There were three disciples with him during the transfiguration.
And he came with his angels and judged, six days later? “For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to each according to his doings.” Now where else do the New Testament authors speak of Him coming with angels and judging every man? Do they claim it had already happened, at the transfiguration?
No. The disciples were given a glimpse of Christ’s kingly glory. In Revelation, John is given visions showing Christ ascending the throne and judging mankind. This is in the future.
Why then, a few chapters later, are they asking him WHEN it would happen????
Why did the disciples not get the point when Jesus told them not to seek first place? He reminded them, repeatedly, to be as children and yet they continually argued over which one of them was greatest. They’re human. They’re imperfect. They didn’t always get the point the first time it was explained to them. Most of them believed that Christ’s kingdom would be a literal kingdom that would overthrow Roman rule. They did not understand that his kingdom would be heavenly. Barb
Smidlee:
I know one for sure who did saw Jesus coming in his kingdom since he wrote what he saw in the book of Revelations.
According to some interpreters at least three people saw him, because he came in the glory of his father with the angels and rendered judgment upon all just six days after he uttered that prophecy. Which makes john's book recount past deeds, nto a prophecy of the future. Or do you believe in multiple comings in glory with the angels to render judgment? Heck, I've heard of some people who believe the Bible teaches SEVEN different resurrections. Hard to get that from anything Jesus said, but hey... Mung
Barb:
Jesus was not a liar.
I'm not the one needs convincing Barb. It's the atheists who take the very clear statements of Jesus and the apostles and claim they were wrong. Even some Christians claim they were mistaken. I don't have that problem. I don't have to explain why "this generation" doesn't have it's obvious meaning, nor do I have to explain why Jesus' numerous claims that He would return soon, within the lifetime of those present, didn't actually take place. I don't have to explain why all the expectations throughout all of the New Testament were misguided, and they are numerous It's Christians throughout history who have been wrong, not Jesus and not the apostles. Let them be true. Let everyone else be a liar. Else what is the basis for our faith?
You also suggest that these words weren’t fulfilled because all of Jesus’ disciples who were present when he said those words died before the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the heavens. The Interpreter’s Bible even says of this verse: “The prediction was not fulfilled, and later Christians found it necessary to explain that it was metaphorical.”
On the contrary, It is my claim that they were fulfilled, without resorting to all the hermeneutical gymnastics. The claim that the account of the transfiguration was a fulfillment of that prophecy is just ludicrous. How many of the disciples had died in those six days? Is this really what Jesus said? “Truly I say to you, there are one or two of those who are standing here who will taste death without seeing the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” No, more than six days is clearly in sight here. And really, how many were on the mount with Him? And he came with his angels and judged, six days later? "For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to each according to his doings." Now where else do the New Testament authors speak of Him coming with angels and judging every man? Do they claim it had already happened, at the transfiguration? Why then, a few chapters later, are they asking him WHEN it would happen???? Mung
Kevnick @ 36: that's fine, we can agree to disagree. Thanks for the conversation. Barb
Fantastic post with an amazing wealth of information!! :) Chalciss
Barb, Unfortunately, I don't agree with you on this issue,l which I have predicted. I will get back to you if I find any reasonable points to this discussion. Thanks for your time. /Kevnick kevnick
Kevnick asks,
If God prevented the holocaust, knowing that Satan and wicked people were behind it, wouldn’t that have made God himself an accomplice to Satan and his rule or a liar? Correct me if I’m wrong please.
No. See my response above. Humans are gifted with free will. Some use it responsibly, others not so much. God allowing something to happen does not make him an accomplice, especially not when he has a nicely written instruction book that states plainly, "don't do that." God promises to rid the earth of wicked people in the future (see Proverbs 2:21,22). How he chooses to do that remains to be seen. In the meantime, he has allowed people to choose life or death, to paraphrase, Deuteronomy, and choose whether to serve him or not. Barb
Barb, It is true that God may have prevented some of the evils that are happening or could have happened. We don't know, but He could have done it so that His plan actually would work out. I, however, meant great evils in the history of mankind like the holocaust. If God prevented the holocaust, knowing that Satan and wicked people were behind it, wouldn't that have made God himself an accomplice to Satan and his rule or a liar? Correct me if I'm wrong please. kevnick
You have to see this! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r83ROf8coSU#t=471&aid=P-8fxdbj0Os Andre
"did see.." ^ Revelation 3:10 " Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation , (rapture) which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (the Great Tribulation which starts in chapter 4- the church isn't mention any longer) 11- Behold, I come quickly: ... This is all the church is given, no warning, no signs , no prophecy unlike the nation Israel. Smidlee
I know one for sure who did saw Jesus coming in his kingdom since he wrote what he saw in the book of Revelations. Smidlee
Mung also writes,
Jesus: Darby Bible Translation For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to each according to his doings. Weymouth New Testament For the Son of Man is soon to come in the glory of the Father with His angels, and then will He requite every man according to his actions. Young’s Literal Translation ‘For, the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father, with his messengers, and then he will reward each, according to his work. “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” It would be within the lifetime of at least some of thee disciples. Or was Jesus a liar?
You quote Matthew 16:28 [“Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” ] You also suggest that these words weren't fulfilled because all of Jesus’ disciples who were present when he said those words died before the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the heavens. The Interpreter’s Bible even says of this verse: “The prediction was not fulfilled, and later Christians found it necessary to explain that it was metaphorical.” However, the context of this verse, as well as that of the parallel accounts by Mark and Luke, helps us understand the real meaning of the scripture. What did Matthew relate right after the words quoted above? He wrote: “Six days later Jesus took Peter and James and John his brother along and brought them up into a lofty mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them.” (Matthew 17:1, 2) Both Mark and Luke also linked Jesus’ comment about the Kingdom with the account of the transfiguration. (Mark 9:1-8; Luke 9:27-36) Jesus’ coming in Kingdom power was demonstrated in his transfiguration, his appearing in glory in the presence of the three apostles. Peter verifies this understanding by speaking of “the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ” with regard to his witnessing Jesus’ transfiguration.—2 Peter 1:16-18. Jesus was not a liar. Barb
kevnick writes,
If we assume that Satan is ruling the world now, and the ungodly people as you I’m sure believe, what would happen if God, at least tried to prevent some of the evil things that happen in the world today? What would that mean?
How do you know he hasn't prevented some of the evil things happening in the world today? What would it mean? It would mean that God still rules the universe. His purpose to rid the world of wicked people and have the meek inherit the earth (see Psalm 37:10, 11, 29) would continue as it always has. Barb
Smidlee:
In verse 3 of Matthew 24 the disciples realize by now there is a second coming at the end time which Jesus address “This generation” (the end time generation).
Peter:
NET Bible For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. Aramaic Bible in Plain English The end of all things has arrived, therefore sober up and wake up to prayer. GOD'S WORD® Translation The end of everything is near. Therefore, practice self-control, and keep your minds clear so that you can pray. Jubilee Bible 2000 But the end of all things is at hand; be ye, therefore, temperate and watch unto prayer.
Maybe Peter was just wrong. Barb:
This brings us to the question, can we calculate the length of the “generation” Jesus spoke about?
Jesus:
Darby Bible Translation For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to each according to his doings. Weymouth New Testament For the Son of Man is soon to come in the glory of the Father with His angels, and then will He requite every man according to his actions. Young's Literal Translation 'For, the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father, with his messengers, and then he will reward each, according to his work.
"Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." It would be within the lifetime of at least some of thee disciples. Or was Jesus a liar? Eric:
All should keep in mind that “quickly”, generally, refers to the speed of the activity, not its timeframe. Jus’ sayin
But how would someone know this is generally true without having studied it? And let's say Jesus in a certain passage said he was coming with all due haste, referring to the speed of his activity. What sense would that make, unless the activity was already underway? He did not say, when I do come, I'll make it quick. He said I AM COMING (quickly). Check the tense of the verb in the Greek. So I can even grant that you can be correct, but that doesn't resolve the problem facing those who claim Jesus said he was coming quickly but still hasn't arrived. Apparently he is still on his way. And it doesn't answer the atheists.
10‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Empty promise? Mung
Andre @ 21 Quite interesting indeed. Thank you for sharing it. Dionisio
Barb, If we assume that Satan is ruling the world now, and the ungodly people as you I'm sure believe, what would happen if God, at least tried to prevent some of the evil things that happen in the world today? What would that mean? kevnick
Semi OT: Scientists stunned by the public’s doubt of Darwin - April 22, 2014 Excerpt: (Stephen) Meyer said that view under-represents the real facts being discovered in evolutionary biology. “Very few leading evolutionary biologists today think that natural selection and random mutation are sufficient to produce the new forms of life we see arising in the history of life,” Meyer said. “And then when the public is catching wind of the scientific doubts of Darwinian evolution and expresses them in a poll like this, these self-appointed spokesmen for science say that the public is ignorant. But actually, the public is more in line with what’s going on in science than these spokesmen for science.” http://www.worldmag.com/2014/04/scientists_stunned_by_the_public_s_doubt_of_darwin With short radio interview on the site bornagain77
Mung and Smidlee: "He will come quickly … suddenly as a thief in the night." All should keep in mind that "quickly", generally, refers to the speed of the activity, not its timeframe. Jus' sayin' :) Eric Anderson
@Coyne: All the questions are pretty easy to answer.
Why would the Abrahamic God, all-loving and all-powerful, allow natural evils to torment and kill people?
There's no evidence that god is all-loving or all-powerful. And he probably likes to torture and kill things. Maybe that's one of the reasons he designed us.
Why can’t he keep kids from getting cancer?
Why should he??
How did the Holocaust fit into God’s scheme?
Perfectly.
Why, if God wants us to know and accept him so much, does he hide himself from humanity?
He only hides from atheists. The other billions of religionists are too blind to see the truth of god.
Why would an omnibenevolent God consign sinners to an eternity of horrible torment for crimes that don’t warrant that?
Hell is a trinitarian invention. There's no evidence, that god designed any hell.
Why is God in the Old Testament such a jerk, toying with people for his amusement, ordering genocides in which women and children are killed en masse, and allowing she-bears to kill a pack of kids just for making fun of a prophet’s baldness?
I don't know. Maybe he was born a jerk. JWTruthInLove
Is Coyne serious? Is his post satirical, or meant to be a spoof? His ravings mimic the exact same sophomoric drivel every self-described "skeptic" spouts out after their first semester of community college (or first month of Reddit). This must be a joke. Argument from evil? Really? Apparently Coyne learned everything he needed to of Abrahamic religion from "The God Delusion". Also, why is such a highly evolved thinker advocating an avalanche of logical fallacies to deal with intellectual opponents? I guess when your ideology is truly vapid, these are the tactics to which one must fall. TSErik
Guys you might enjoy this, the supposed God of the gaps, lightning, superstition and science. God says Job 38:35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'? Science says We have no clue what triggers lightning.... http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/new_scientist/2013/08/lightning_strikes_what_causes_lightning_is_a_mystery_could_it_be_cosmic.html I think God has an awesome sense of humour.... Andre
Part deux. Coyne asks about the genocides recorded in the Bible. Here, posted for the third time on UD, is an article that explains why God allowed for the extermination of groups of people [from The Watchtower, January 1, 2010]: “Completely destroy all the people: the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, as the LORD ordered you to do.”—DEUTERONOMY 20:17, TODAY’S ENGLISH VERSION. “Be peaceable with all men.”—ROMANS 12:18. Many struggle to reconcile God’s command to destroy the Canaanites with the Bible’s admonition to be peaceable.* (Isaiah 2:4; 2 Corinthians 13:11) To them, these instructions seem morally inconsistent. If you could discuss this subject with God, what would you ask him? Consider five common questions and the Bible’s answers. 1. Why were the Canaanites displaced? The Canaanites were, in a sense, squatters in a land that did not belong to them. How so? Some 400 years earlier, God had promised the faithful man Abraham that his descendants would possess the land of Canaan. (Genesis 15:18) God kept that promise when he caused the nation of Israel, which descended from Abraham, to occupy the region. Of course, some might protest that the Canaanites already lived there and therefore had a right to the land. But surely, as the Sovereign of the universe, God has the ultimate right to determine who will live where.—Acts 17:26; 1 Corinthians 10:26. 2. Why did God not allow the Canaanites to coexist with the Israelites? “They should not dwell in your land,” God warned regarding the Canaanites, “that they may not cause you to sin against me. In case you should serve their gods, it would become a snare to you.” (Exodus 23:33) The prophet Moses later told Israel: “It is for the wickedness of these nations that Jehovah your God is driving them away.” (Deuteronomy 9:5) Just how wicked were those nations? Immorality, pagan worship, and child sacrifice were widespread in Canaan. Bible historian Henry H. Halley notes that archaeologists excavating the area “found great numbers of jars containing the remains of children who had been sacrificed to Baal [a prominent god of the Canaanites].” He adds: “The whole area proved to be a cemetery for new-born babes. . . . Canaanites worshipped, by immoral indulgence, as a religious rite, in the presence of their gods; and then, by murdering their first-born children, as a sacrifice to these same gods. It seems that, in large measure, the land of Canaan had become a sort of Sodom and Gomorrah on a national scale. . . . Archaeologists who dig in the ruins of Canaanite cities wonder that God did not destroy them sooner than he did.” [emphasis mine] 3. Were there not other wicked people on earth at the time? Why single out the Canaanites? God has selectively executed sinners on many occasions. When “the earth became filled with violence” in Noah’s day, God caused a deluge that wiped out all but one family—Noah’s family. (Genesis 6:11; 2 Peter 2:5) God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when the sin of their inhabitants became “very heavy.” (Genesis 18:20; 2 Peter 2:6) And he pronounced judgment against the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, “the city of bloodshed,” although he spared that city when its inhabitants repented from their bad ways. (Nahum 3:1; Jonah 1:1, 2; 3:2, 5-10) As for the Canaanites, God destroyed them in order to protect Israel, the nation that would eventually produce the Messiah.—Psalm 132:11, 12. 4. Did not the Canaanites’ destruction conflict with God’s love? On the surface, God’s exterminating the Canaanites might seem inconsistent with his love. (1 John 4:8) However, that love becomes quite apparent when we take a closer look. God knew long beforehand that Canaan’s inhabitants were headed in the wrong direction. Yet, instead of immediately wiping them out, he patiently allowed 400 years to pass until their error had “come to completion.”—Genesis 15:16. When the sin of the Canaanites reached the point where all hope of improvement was gone, Jehovah brought their end. Even so, he did not blindly execute all Canaanites. Why? Because not all were beyond reform. Those willing to change, such as Rahab and the Gibeonites, were shown mercy.—Joshua 9:3-11, 16-27; Hebrews 11:31. 5. How could a God of love destroy any humans? That question is understandable, for the destruction of human life is not pleasant to contemplate. Really, though, it was God’s love that impelled him to take such drastic measures against the wicked. To illustrate: When a patient develops gangrene, doctors often have little choice but to amputate the infected limb. Few would enjoy performing such a procedure, but a good doctor knows that the alternative—the spread of infection—is worse. Because he cares, he carries out this unpleasant task for the good of his patient. Similarly, Jehovah did not enjoy destroying the Canaanites. He himself says: “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” (Ezekiel 33:11, Darby) At the same time, he purposed for the nation of Israel to produce the Messiah, the one who would open the way to salvation for all those exercising faith. (John 3:16) Thus, God simply could not allow Israel to become infected by the disgusting practices of the Canaanites. He therefore ordered the Canaanites to be cut off, or evicted, from the land. In so doing, God demonstrated outstanding love—love that moved him to perform an unpleasant task for the benefit of his faithful worshippers. Does the record of the Canaanites’ destruction have value for us today? Yes, for Romans 15:4 states: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” How does what happened in Canaan instruct us and give us hope? These accounts teach us much. For example, God mercifully spared Rahab and the Gibeonites when they turned to him in faith. This reminds us that anyone who truly wants to please God can do so, regardless of his background or past sins.—Acts 17:30. [Note: In this article, the term “Canaanites” refers to all the nations God ordered Israel to displace.]
Why didn’t Jesus return during his followers’ lifetime, as he promised?
He didn’t. This is a misunderstanding of scripture, which is to be expected with Coyne and atheists of his ilk. They whine and complain about the Bible, having never read it, and they completely fail to understand what it really says. Interestingly, Coyne’s attitude was foretold by the apostle Peter: some mockingly ask: “Where is this promised presence of his?” (2 Peter 3:3, 4) In Matthew chapters 24 and 25, Jesus is said to “come” in different senses. He does not need to move physically in order to “come.” Rather, he “comes” in the sense of turning his attention to mankind or to his followers, often for judgment. His followers asked, "What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”—MATT. 24:3. What of the “presence” that the apostles asked about? This is the translation of the Greek word pa•rou•si?a. The fact that the word pa•rou•si?a refers to an extended period of time harmonizes with what Jesus said with regard to his presence. (Read Matthew 24:37-39.) Notice that Jesus did not liken his presence to the relatively short period of time during which the Flood occurred in Noah’s day. Rather, he compared his presence to the much longer period of time that led up to the Flood. ther Bible prophecies make it evident that Christ’s presence refers to an extended period of time and not merely to his coming to destroy the wicked. The book of Revelation portrays Jesus as riding on a white horse and being given a crown. (Read Revelation 6:1-8.) After being crowned as King in 1914, Jesus is pictured as going “forth conquering and to complete his conquest.” The account then shows that he is followed by riders seated on different-colored horses. These prophetically represent war, food shortages, and pestilence, all of which have occurred over the extended period of time that is referred to as “the last days.” We are seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy in our lifetime. A cursory reading would make it seem as though “this generation” mentioned at Matthew 24:34 meant “the contemporaneous generation of unbelieving Jews.” That explanation seems reasonable because all other recorded uses that Jesus made of the term “generation” had a negative connotation, and in most cases, Jesus used a negative adjective, such as “wicked,” to describe the generation. (Matt. 12:39; 17:17; Mark 8:38) Thus, it was felt that in the modern-day fulfillment, Jesus was referring to the wicked “generation” of unbelievers who would see both the features that would characterize “the conclusion of the system of things” (syn•te?lei•a) and the system’s end (te?los). It is true that when Jesus used the word “generation” negatively, he was speaking to or about the wicked people of his day. But was that necessarily true of his statement recorded at Matthew 24:34? Recall that four of Jesus’ disciples had approached him “privately.” (Matt. 24:3) Since Jesus did not use negative qualifiers when speaking to them about “this generation,” the apostles would no doubt have understood that they and their fellow disciples were to be part of the “generation” that would not pass away “until all these things [would] occur.” On what basis may we draw that conclusion? By carefully considering the context. As recorded at Matthew 24:32, 33, Jesus said: “Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors.” (Compare Mark 13:28-30; Luke 21:30-32.) Then, at Matthew 24:34, we read: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” This brings us to the question, can we calculate the length of the "generation" Jesus spoke about? The word “generation” usually refers to people of various ages whose lives overlap during a particular time period or event. For example, Exodus 1:6 tells us: “Eventually Joseph died, and also all his brothers and all that generation.” Joseph and his brothers varied in age, but they shared a common experience during the same time period. Included in “that generation” were some of Joseph’s brothers who were born before him. Some of these outlived Joseph. (Gen. 50:24) Others of “that generation,” such as Benjamin, were born after Joseph was born and may have lived on after he died. So when the term “generation” is used with reference to people living at a particular time, the exact length of that time cannot be stated except that it does have an end and would not be excessively long. Therefore, by using the term “this generation,” as recorded at Matthew 24:34, Jesus did not give his disciples a formula to enable them to determine when “the last days” would end. Rather, Jesus went on to emphasize that they would not know “that day and hour.”—2 Tim. 3:1; Matt. 24:36. And as for the account where bears kill “children” (the Hebrew word used here can refer to adolescents as well), Jehovah’s prophet Elisha was bald. After he had succeeded to the prophetic office of Elijah, he was proceeding uphill from Jericho toward Bethel when he was mocked by a mob of children who cried: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” The primary reason for their jeers seems to have been not that Elisha was bald but that they saw a bald man wearing Elijah’s familiar official garment. They did not want any successor of Elijah around. He should either keep going his way up to Bethel or ascend in a windstorm to the heavens as the former wearer of that official garment had done. (2Ki 2:11) To answer this challenge of his being Elijah’s successor and to teach these young people and their parents proper respect for Jehovah’s prophet, Elisha called down evil upon the jeering mob in the name of the God of Elijah. It was a test of his prophetship. Jehovah manifested his approval of Elisha by causing two she-bears to come out of the nearby woods and to tear to pieces 42 of them.—2Ki 2:23, 24. Barb
I’m going to attempt to answer some of Coyne’s rhetorical questions about the suppose cruelty of God. Note first that Coyne claims that God’s actions are cruel and wicked, yet as an atheist he cannot offer any objective reason as to why these acts should be considered wicked.
Why would the Abrahamic God, all-loving and all-powerful, allow natural evils to torment and kill people? Why can’t he keep kids from getting cancer? How did the Holocaust fit into God’s scheme?
Coyne has apparently not even begun to read Aquinas. These questions have been debated and discussed by theologians for millennia. That he even asks this question shows how shallow and uninformed he really is. Certainly, God is not to blame. He gave mankind a perfect start, but humans have chosen to ignore God’s requirements and decide for themselves what is good and what is bad. (Deut. 32:4, 5; Eccl. 7:29; Gen. 3:5, 6) By doing this, they have come under the influence of wicked superhuman forces.—Eph. 6:11, 12. See also 1 John 5:19: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”
Why, if God wants us to know and accept him so much, does he hide himself from humanity?
God does not hide himself. Atheists like Coyne are constantly shown evidence of His existence yet they hand-wave it away. See Romans 1:20. Again, Coyne shows how truly shallow he is and how completely ignorant he is of any real Christian apologetics.
Why is God in the Old Testament such a jerk, toying with people for his amusement, ordering genocides in which women and children are killed en masse, and allowing she-bears to kill a pack of kids just for making fun of a prophet’s baldness? How does that comport with the God worshipped today?
Coyne’s attack on God, calling him a “jerk” is merely an ad hominem argument, proving nothing. The easiest thing to do, in most people’s opinion, would be simply to get rid of everyone who is wicked. But consider: how must God feel? For thousands of years people have blamed him, even cursed him, for the bad conditions they have endured. Yet, these are caused, not by him, but by Satan and by wicked men. God has the power to destroy the wicked. Surely there must be good reasons why he has exercised such restraint. If God’s way of handling the situation is different from what we would recommend, should that surprise us? His experience is much greater than man’s, and his view of the situation is much broader than that of any human.—Compare Isaiah 55:8, 9; Ezekiel 33:17. Coyne is insinuating that he knows more than God. He doesn’t know more than William Lane Craig. His argument is ridiculous on its face. Barb
ScuzzaMan@17:
...Coyne is wholly typical of a certain kind of wannabe technocrat who deliberately confuses his possession of some technical information in a particular specialty, with “scientific understanding”.
They're technocrats, yes, but historically they've been called Progressives -- a term that is not being recycled into today's political discourse accidentally. Last century, Wilson was a president and Mencken a wag from their ranks. With today's resurgence, when they see themselves as qualified to rule over your and my healthcare -- for one example among the plethora -- by their alleged "scientific understanding," Fred Siegel's tracing of their political history in Revolt Against the Masses might be worth a glance. The book has been featured on CSPAN and reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, The Weekly Standard, and the Hoover Institution. The last of which talks about how Siegle traces their thinkers back to...
...Progressive theorist Herbert Croly, whose 1901 The Promise of American Life Siegel calls the “first political manifesto of modern American liberalism.” Croly “rejected American tradition, with its faith in the Constitution and its politics of parties and courts, and argued for rebuilding America’s foundation on higher spiritual and political principles that would transcend traditional ideas of democracy and self-government.” ...Croly “wanted the collective power of society put ‘at the service of its ablest members,’ who would take the lead roles in the drama of social re-creation”...
Hooboy. Although in Croly's defense I would say that, clearly, he could have had no conception how difficult it would be to get a website up and running... jstanley01
Religionists often float God-of-the-gaps arguments, saying that God must lie in the interstices of our scientific understanding. Well, we can play that game, too. There are huge gaps in believers’ understanding of God, and in those lacunae, I claim, lies strong evidence for No God. Here are some of those religious gaps:
It is always difficult to take someone seriously when they begin so disastrously. "Religionists" have never floated the god of the gaps argument. It is explicitly the argument of atheists, and an attack on religion. That the argument itself is also false never seems to register. It is a cartoonish misrepresentation designed only to allow its makers to pretend to an intellectual status that is seldom in evidence. Finally, Coyne is wholly typical of a certain kind of wannabe technocrat who deliberately confuses his possession of some technical information in a particular specialty, with "scientific understanding". He does not understand science. From a philosophy of science perspective, he's a disaster, having no apparent awareness of the paucity of his own arguments, nor their self-defeating implications. Meh. ScuzzaMan
Joe Coder @ 14: One reference is the 12th century rabbinical commentary on Jeremiah 7:31 by Rashi. See http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16004/jewish/Chapter-7.htm#showrashi=true This and similar references, including classical Greek and Roman accounts, are mentioned in the Wikipedia article on Moloch. sagebrush gardener
I feel like a kid in a candy store...great list of articles vj! :-) Blue_Savannah
Living children were then placed into the idol’s hands and died there or were rolled into a fire pit below
I can't find an original source for this. The linked article on GotQuestions.org doesn't specify apart from a book and a software recommendation (and searching the first via google books turned up nothing). Can anyone provide more details? JoeCoder
Tell believers that we won’t pay any attention to their superstitions, or their criticisms of atheists, until they’ve read...
Tell atheists that they won't pay any attention to any evidence that points to God, until the condition of their hardened spiritual hearts is transformed supernaturally by the same God they deny. Unless they are honestly and unconditionally searching for the truth about the ultimate reality, in which case they will pay attention to other arguments presented to them, even if we don't read any of the books they require. Dionisio
When all else fails, revert to childish attacks on God. Precious (included is an automatic dismissal of all explanations to the childish questions) Joe
@Mung At the time the NT was written the only scripture the disciples knew was the OT. You need to understand the OT books like Daniel for Revelation to make sense. The church age which is mention "The things that are" in chapters 2 and 3 are not mention in the OT even though there are shadows of it which Paul describes a mystery. In verse 3 of Matthew 24 the disciples realize by now there is a second coming at the end time which Jesus address "This generation" (the end time generation). Jesus in Revelation is saying He will come quickly ... suddenly as a thief in the night. The church is a grace period until the final week (7 years not days) of Daniel. Smidlee
Strict Materialism as Pornography Addiction As pointed out in the Dawkins post, I'm currently working on a thesis that proposes atheism is one of a class of neurodegenerative pathologies, hall-marked by substantial downregulation and possible total ischemia of dopaminergic receptors and opiate receptors. Initial mechanism proposals and meta-analyses are promising. Trying to find a proper control is the elusive variable. My instinct tells me this will sweep discussions like Coyne's completely aside in the future. jw777
Did Jesus wrongly predict His return? Did Jesus Wrongly Predict a First Century Return in Matthew 24:34? by Marshall “Rusty” Entrekin. An unusually thorough discussion which proposes no less than four solutions compatible with orthodox faith.
It was difficult to figure out what the four orthodox views were and why they were considered orthodox. I can't blame any atheist for not being convinced by the argument of that article. First, he concentrates on a single passage and seems to think it is sufficient to address that single passage in order to offer a sufficient response to the atheist critique. What about all the other statements by Jesus and the apostles? The Amplified Bible Revelation 1:1-3
1 [This is] the revelation of Jesus Christ [His unveiling of the divine mysteries]. God gave it to Him to disclose and make known to His bond servants certain things which must shortly and speedily come to pass [a]in their entirety. And He sent and communicated it through His angel (messenger) to His bond servant John, 2 Who has testified to and vouched for all that he saw [[b]in his visions], the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed (happy, [c]to be envied) is the man who reads aloud [in the assemblies] the word of this prophecy; and blessed (happy, [d]to be envied) are those who hear [it read] and who keep themselves true to the things which are written in it [heeding them and laying them to heart], for the time [for them to be fulfilled] is near.
Revelation 22:
6 And he [of the seven angels further] said to me, These statements are reliable (worthy of confidence) and genuine (true). And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His messenger (angel) to make known and exhibit to His servants what must soon come to pass. 7 And behold, I am coming speedily. Blessed (happy and [a]to be envied) is he who observes and lays to heart and keeps the truths of the prophecy (the predictions, consolations, and warnings) contained in this [little] book. 10 And he [further] told me, Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book and make no secret of them, for the time [b]when things are brought to a crisis and the period of their fulfillment is near. 11 He who is unrighteous (unjust, wicked), let him be unrighteous still; and he who is filthy (vile, impure), let him be filthy still; and he who is righteous (just, upright, in right standing with God), let him do right still; and he who is holy, let him be holy still. 12 Behold, I am coming soon, and I shall bring My wages and rewards with Me, to repay and render to each one just what his own actions and his own work merit. 16 I, Jesus, have sent My messenger (angel) to you to witness and to give you assurance of these things for the churches (assemblies). I am the Root (the Source) and the Offspring of David, the radiant and brilliant Morning Star. 20 He Who gives this warning and affirms and testifies to these things says, Yes (it is true). [Surely] I am coming quickly (swiftly, speedily). Amen (so let it be)! Yes, come, Lord Jesus!
The atheists have a point. Mung
Coyne:
Why didn’t Jesus return during his followers’ lifetime, as he promised?
He did. The fact that so many Christian are not aware of the fact that He did does not negate the fact that He did. For those of you who are not yet preterists, see how easy that one was? :D Now here's a touch of irony for you. For an atheist to argue that Jesus did not return as and when he said he would is for the atheist do adopt the same literal hermeneutic that they despise in young earth creationists. Go figure. Mung
to add an exclamation point to the fact that,,, God is not a “God of the gaps”, he is God of the whole show. John Lennox Here are a few points to back it up:
1. Naturalism/Materialism predicted time-space energy-matter always existed. Whereas Theism predicted time-space energy-matter were created. Big Bang cosmology now strongly indicates that time-space energy-matter had a sudden creation event approximately 14 billion years ago. 2. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the universe is a self sustaining system that is not dependent on anything else for its continued existence. Theism predicted that God upholds this universe in its continued existence. Breakthroughs in quantum mechanics reveal that this universe is dependent on a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause for its continued existence. 3. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that consciousness is a ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus should have no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicts consciousness precedes material reality and therefore, on that presupposition, consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. - 4. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe. Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time. – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) - 5. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and that life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind. Scientists find the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. Moreover it is found, when scrutinizing the details of chemistry, that not only is the universe fine-tuned for carbon based life, but is specifically fine-tuned for life like human life (M. Denton).- 6. Naturalism/Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe. Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex organic life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe (Gonzalez). - 7. Naturalism/Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11). Geo-chemical evidence from the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth indicates that complex photo-synthetic life has existed on earth as long as water has been on the face of earth. - 8. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the first life to be relatively simple. Theism predicted that God is the source for all life on earth. The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) - 9. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse animal life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. - 10. Naturalism/Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record. Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record(disparity), then rapid diversity within that group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. - 11. Naturalism/Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man (our genus ‘modern homo’ as distinct from the highly controversial ‘early homo’) is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. (Tattersall; Luskin)– 12. Naturalism/Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. - 13. Naturalism/Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) - 14. Naturalism/Materialism predicted morality is subjective and illusory. Theism predicted morality is objective and real. Morality is found to be deeply embedded in the genetic responses of humans. As well, morality is found to be deeply embedded in the structure of the universe. Embedded to the point of eliciting physiological responses in humans before humans become aware of the morally troubling situation and even prior to the event even happening. 15. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that we are merely our material bodies with no transcendent component to our being, and that we die when our material bodies die. Theism predicted that we have minds/souls that are transcendent of our bodies that live past the death of our material bodies. Transcendent, and ‘conserved’ (cannot be created or destroyed) ‘non-local’, beyond space-time matter-energy, quantum entanglement/information, which is not reducible to matter-energy space-time, is now found in our material bodies on a massive scale.
In fact God is so big that he can also 'play the role of a person',,,
The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.” Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest logicians who ever existed) http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/07/the-god-of-the-mathematicians
At the 9:40 minute mark of the following video, C.S. Lewis comments on God 'playing the role of a person':
Finding Shakespeare by C.S. Lewis Doodle - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXlBCZ_5OYw
and in 'playing the role of a person' God can even reconcile General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and thus become the 'theory of everything' that scientists are vainly looking for:
The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video http://vimeo.com/34084462
Of note:, as would be expected if Gravity and Quantum Mechanics were truly unified in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the image on the Shroud of Turin was formed by a quantum process not by a classical process:
The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008 Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril. http://cab.unime.it/journals/index.php/AAPP/article/view/C1A0802004/271 Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011 Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists. However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax. Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic. “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said. And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-say-turin-shroud-is-supernatural-6279512.html
supplemental note:
The Galileo Affair and “Life/Consciousness” as the true "Center of the Universe" Excerpt: I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its 'uncertain' 3D state is centered on each individual conscious observer in the universe, whereas, 4D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism, Christian Theism in particular, offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe. [15] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BHAcvrc913SgnPcDohwkPnN4kMJ9EDX-JJSkjc4AXmA/edit
Verse and Music:
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and upon earth." Colossians 1:15-20 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. "In Christ Alone" / scenes from "The Passion of the Christ" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDPKdylIxVM
bornagain77
Coyne:
Why, if God wants us to know and accept him so much, does he hide himself from humanity?
He died a criminal's death on the cross, was raised from the dead, then sent his witnesses into all the earth. What was hidden? Why not ask, why doesn't God compel me to have faith in him? Because that's precisely the nonsensical sort of argument being employed here. Mung
Man VJT, that is a great resource of links you've given us. Thanks! Mung
Professor Jerry Coyne has recently written a post titled, Atheism of the gaps, in which he urges skeptics to “make believers read about unbelief” before listening to their arguments, and “make atheism-of-the-gaps arguments.”
Now this just is hilarious. Anyone who has any experience debating atheists knows that atheism is not unbelief, but rather lack of or absence of belief. So why should we read about unbelief and what form does an "absence of belief of the gaps" argument take?
And what does he suggest that believers read?
No doubt Coyne has read anything he demands that we read, right? And why can't I read Dawkins and Hitchens to get the gist of the arguments of these authors. Have the "New Atheists" not deeply imbibed from them? But Coyne really seems to miss the point of our telling someone like Dawkins to read Aquinas. If an atheist author is going to set himself up as a critic they should at least have read the material they claim to be critical of. So no, Jerry. There's a fallacy known as Tu quoque. I suggest you read up. Mung
Did I miss it? Where is the substantive objection to theism or Christianity? Oh, are we back to talking about suffering in this life as an objection to an infinite logical necessity whose final purposes would necessarily transcend time and space itself? Cute.. Jerry, the reason why people want you to read Augustine, Anselm and Descartes is because they've exhaustively answered all of these "critiques" (i.e. - prehistoric brain farts). Frankly, Plantinga's work is redundant killing of a dead horse. The difference is that standard American education is an aggressive indoctrination of atheism and Darwinism. There aren't any educated people here who haven't formulated as good an argument against God as the heaviest anti-theistic thinkers in history. But almost no educated people can accurately describe even Anselm's First Cause argument, which DOES NOT presuppose a start to the universe, NOR does it posit a deistic first mover who steps away. But EVERY objection to it always misrepresents it, never facing it head on or as characterized by its proponents. jw777
Religionists often float God-of-the-gaps arguments, saying that God must lie in the interstices of our scientific understanding.
This is a mistaken notion among atheists and unfortunately among some Christians as well. The idea is that we use the concept of gods only to explain things that science can't. Then when Science comes along and enlightens us with an explanation, the gods have to retreat to the next unexplained phenomenon leaving Science triumphant. Science 1; gods 0. One commonly-heard version of this story is that primitive people, frightened by lightning and thunder, invented gods to explain this scary phenomenon. Then we learned about electrical charges, etc.. The darkness of superstition was overcome by the brilliant light of scientific discovery and the gods were needed no more! But my God is not a god only of unexplained gaps which become fewer and fewer the more we learn. He is God of the whole show. He is God of the lightning, he is God of the thunder. And when we discover electrical charges, then hallelujah! he is God of those too! This leads us to another fallacy endemic among atheists – the idea that when we discover a mystery, the Christian just says “God did it!” and calls it a day. End of science. Of course this is a complete non sequitur. As generations of scientists who were also Christians have shown, a belief in God is not an end to the pursuit of knowledge. Like Johannes Keppler, we see science as "thinking God's thoughts after Him" and pursue it not only for the pursuit of knowledge but for the glory of God. sagebrush gardener
Poor Jerry. He's really not very smart. Dumb in fact. He can't even attack Christianity without borrowing its morality without even realizing it. How can there be good or evil if there is only us? What if you say something is evil and I say it's good? Who decides? There is no morality if there is no transcendent God. There is only "opinion" and yours, Jerry, carries no more weight than mine. The fact that Jerry sets his own trap tells you everything you need to know about his ability to think. He doesn't. Florabama

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