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Heather Hastie’s logic: simple or simplistic?

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Atheist blogger Heather Hastie, who blogs over at Heather’s Homilies, has written a post titled, The Value of Prayer, in which she pokes fun at religion by using clear and simple flowcharts, whose pithy sarcasm impressed New Atheist Jerry Coyne. But a flowchart can easily be invalidated by faulty assumptions and loaded questions, and Ms. Hastie’s flowcharts are no exception.

Take Heather Hastie’s flowchart on belief in God. Ms. Hastie begins by asking: “If God is all loving and all forgiving, would he forgive someone for not believing in him, without being asked?” If the answer is “No,” then God is not all loving and all forgiving; but if it is “Yes,” then no-one needs to believe in or worship him.

What’s wrong with this flowchart is that it fails to distinguish between two grounds for unbelief: unbelief which is due to honest ignorance of the evidence for God, and unbelief which is caused by a refusal to countenance the idea of a Supreme Being, because of the demands that such a belief would entail. Unbelief of the former kind is certainly forgivable; but unbelief of the latter kind is more than a mere lack of belief: it is a refusal to believe. And I would respond to Ms. Hastie’s loaded question by asking: can God forgive someone who doesn’t want to be forgiven? I would also point out that while people who are honestly ignorant of the case for theism are under no obligation to believe in God, the case is different for those who are familiar with the arguments for God’s existence or who have witnessed His intervention in the lives of people whom they know.

Heather Hastie’s flowchart on prayer fares no better. She begins by supposing that an individual prays for something, and then asks: “Is that something in God’s Divine plan?” If it is, then prayer is redundant; if not, then it is futile. Either way, concludes Ms. Hastie, prayer serves no purpose.

What Ms. Hastie overlooks is the possibility that when God plans for us to receive something, He also plans for us to receive it because we have prayed for it. The Catholic theologian St. Thomas Aquinas made the same point 750 years ago in his Summa Theologica (II-II q. 83, art. 2), when he quotes Pope St. Gregory the Great on the purpose of prayer: “For we pray not that we may change the Divine disposition, but … ‘that by asking, men may deserve to receive what Almighty God from eternity has disposed to give,’ as Gregory says (Dial. I. 8).” In that case, prayer does serve a purpose: it is the Divinely appointed means to the ends which God has planned for us.

A final sample of Ms. Hastie’s logic can be seen in her 2012 tweet, “If it’s God’s will when women get pregnant from rape, then in the minds of the religious, the rapists can’t be criminals.” Ms. Hastie fails to distinguish between God’s active will (i.e. what He intends) and His passive or permissive will (i.e. what He allows to happen). (See here.) Pregnancy resulting from rape falls into the latter category, which means that rapists can be criminals, as their actions are not intended by God but are actually contrary to God’s intentions.

If this is the best that the New Atheists can throw up against belief in God or belief in the value of prayer, then I have to say that I feel very sorry for today’s atheists. With arguments like these, they are digging a hole for themselves.

A Dominican priest once explained it this way in a talk. 1 - The full set is God's Love. If you can live in God's Love then there is no issue. 2 - God's Mercy is a subset (a large subset) of God's Love. If you can't live fully in God's Love, which definitely includes me, then God's Mercy is there if you are sorry (even the slightest bit) and ask for mercy. 3 - God's Justice is a subset (hopefully a small one for the sake of people) of God's Mercy. If you do not wish to ask for mercy then God will respect your decision and deal with you in perfect justice. Can that really happen? Yes, probably more often than we suspect. I add this analogy for consideration. 1 - You poke your younger sister since she "bugs" you. You are not living in love. 2 - Your mother says you can be forgiven if only you say you are sorry and ask forgiveness. Mercy is offered and will be given. 3 - You are not sorry, will not say you are sorry (even a little bit), and defy your mother to punish you. Just give me my punishment and get it over! Justice then demands that she give you what you wish and punish you. Why do we insist on rejecting the truth about reality?? Why do we reject the perfect goodness which is offered to us for a hell of our own making?? GCS
"Well nowhere does the bible say God is all forgiving or all loving so this fails in the first strawman" Yes, but you see, they need the God they don't believe in to be all loving and all forgiving, because if such a God does exist, then they are off the hook. They can appeal to His forgiveness and unconditional love. So not believing in such a God has its advantages, and believing in such a God has it's advantages. IOW, it makes no difference. They escape Pascal's wager altogether, and can continue to live in sin and denial. But if the God they don't believe in is at the same time a God of wrath and a God of love and forgiveness, then if they were to believe in such a God, they know that they will not escape. The atheist position, as you know, is more agnostic than it is a-theist. So they need God to be a certain way such that no matter what they believe about him, there is no consequence. And that's precisely the position of Heather Hastie. Hers is: "unbelief which is caused by a refusal to countenance the idea of a Supreme Being, because of the demands that such a belief would entail." CannuckianYankee
...God's mercy outstrips his wrath aqeels
Well nowhere does the bible say God is all forgiving or all loving so this fails in the first strawman telltheworldtheword
Thanks anthropic: Albert Einstein - Special Relativity - Insight Into Eternity http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6545941/ bornagain77
BA77, thanks (as always) for the citations & info. However, you may need to update the Einstein one about Special Relativity. You Tube shows the video as being pulled. anthropic
She is obviously my intellectual and moral superior. I could probably learn a thing or two from her. Mung
Evanescence – The Other Side (Music-Lyric Video) http://www.vevo.com/watch/evanescence/the-other-side-lyric-video/USWV41200024?source=instantsearch
As well, a man, at the 7:00 minute mark of this video, gives testimony of falling down a ‘tunnel’ in the transition stage from this world to hell:
Hell – A Warning! – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=HSgH2AHkfkw&list=PLCB5F225ABC1F7330#t=420
In light of this dilemma that these two very different eternities present to us spiritually minded people, and the fact that Gravity is, in so far as we can tell, completely incompatible with Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity (i.e. Quantum Electro-Dynamics),,, (i.e. the failure of string theory, M-theory, etc..) ,,in light of that dilemma, it is interesting to point out a subtle nuance on the Shroud of Turin. Namely that Gravity was overcome in the resurrection event of Christ:
Particle Radiation from the Body – July 2012 – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images. https://docs.google.com/document/d/19tGkwrdg6cu5mH-RmlKxHv5KPMOL49qEU8MLGL6ojHU/edit A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection? by Chuck Missler Excerpt: “You can read the science of the Shroud, such as total lack of gravity, lack of entropy (without gravitational collapse), no time, no space—it conforms to no known law of physics.” The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. Dame Piczek created a one-fourth size sculpture of the man in the Shroud. When viewed from the side, it appears as if the man is suspended in mid air (see graphic, below), indicating that the image defies previously accepted science. The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. http://www.khouse.org/articles/2008/847 THE EVENT HORIZON (Space-Time Singularity) OF THE SHROUD OF TURIN. – Isabel Piczek – Particle Physicist Excerpt: We have stated before that the images on the Shroud firmly indicate the total absence of Gravity. Yet they also firmly indicate the presence of the Event Horizon. These two seemingly contradict each other and they necessitate the past presence of something more powerful than Gravity that had the capacity to solve the above paradox. http://shroud3d.com/findings/isabel-piczek-image-formation Turin shroud – (Particle Physicist explains event horizon) – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHVUGK6UFK8
Moreover, as would be expected if General Relativity (Gravity), and Quantum Mechanics/Special Relativity (QED), were truly unified in the resurrection of Christ from death, the image on the shroud is found to be formed by a quantum process. The image was not formed by a ‘classical’ process:
“It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique. It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed. The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.” Kevin Moran – optical engineer 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
Personally, considering the extreme difficulty that many brilliant minds have had in trying to reconcile Quantum Mechanics and special relativity(QED), with Gravity,
A Capella Science – Bohemian Gravity! – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rjbtsX7twc
Considering that extreme difficulty, I consider the preceding ‘quantum’ nuance on the Shroud of Turin to be a subtle, but powerful, evidence substantiating Christ’s primary claim as to being our Savior from sin, death, and hell:
John 8:23-24 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins. G.O.S.P.E.L. – (the grace of propitiation) – poetry slam – video https://vimeo.com/20960385
Verses and Music:
Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 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.
Dr. Torley as to:
can God forgive someone who doesn’t want to be forgiven? I would also point out that while people who are honestly ignorant of the case for theism are under no obligation to believe in God, the case is different for those who are familiar with the arguments for God’s existence or who have witnessed His intervention in the lives of people whom they know.
Very well put Dr. Torley. Reminds me of this quote from C.S. Lewis
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell." - C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce “The Problem of Pain,” C.S. Lewis (Chapter 8 - pg. 67 - Hell) http://www.fellowshipoffaith.org/images/files/upload/Problem_of_Pain.pdf
Moreover, it is important to point out that although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God. And exactly as would be expected on the Christian view of reality, we find two very different eternities in reality. A ‘infinitely destructive’ eternity associated with General Relativity and a extremely orderly eternity associated with Special Relativity: Special Relativity, General Relativity, Heaven and Hell:
“I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.” Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest – 2005 Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ – video (6:00 minute mark) https://youtu.be/jHnRqhnkyGs?t=364 “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.” Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12
And, as with accelerating to the speed of light, it is found that for any ‘hypothetical’ observer falling to the event horizon of a black hole, that time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop for them. This is because the accelerative force of gravity at black holes is so intense that not even light can escape its grip:
Gravitational time dilation tests http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation#Gravitational_time_dilation_tests Space-Time of a Black hole – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0VOn9r4dq8
And as with the ‘tunnel curvature’ we see in the space-time of a black hole, there is also tunnel curvature in space-time for any hypothetical observer accelerating to the speed of light. Please note, at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, (Of note: This following video was made by two Australian University Physics Professors with a supercomputer.).
Seeing Relativity – Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQnHTKZBTI4
It is also very interesting to note that Special Relativity and General Relativity reveal two very different ‘qualities of eternity’ (as predicted in Christian Theism). In particular, Black Holes are found to be ‘timeless’ singularities of destruction and disorder. And Special Relativity is associated with the singularity of creation and order, i.e. the extreme (1 in 10^10^123) thermodynamic order we see at the creation event of the Big Bang.
“But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.” Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang? Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010 Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated. http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).” Roger Penrose - The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? "This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123." Penrose - The Emperor’s New Mind, pp 339-345 – 1989) “Einstein’s equation predicts that, as the astronaut reaches the singularity (of the black-hole), the tidal forces grow infinitely strong, and their chaotic oscillations become infinitely rapid. The astronaut dies and the atoms which his body is made become infinitely and chaotically distorted and mixed-and then, at the moment when everything becomes infinite (the tidal strengths, the oscillation frequencies, the distortions, and the mixing), spacetime ceases to exist.” Kip S. Thorne – “Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy” pg. 476
Needless to say, the implications of this ‘eternity of destruction’ should be fairly disturbing for those of us who are of the ‘spiritually minded’ persuasion! Moreover, in stark contrast to multiverse (and Darwinian) claims, for which we have no direct observational evidence, we have actual observational evidence from Near Death Experience testimonies of eternity and also of people going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension,,,
'Earthly time has no meaning in the spirit realm. There is no concept of before or after. Everything - past, present, future - exists simultaneously.' - Kimberly Clark Sharp - NDE Experiencer 'There is no way to tell whether minutes, hours or years go by. Existence is the only reality and it is inseparable from the eternal now.' - John Star - NDE Experiencer ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’ In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video (27:45 minute mark) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s66DchGhhD0 “I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.” Barbara Springer – Near Death Experience – The Tunnel – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv2jLeoAcMI Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? - article with video Excerpt: "Very often as they're moving through the tunnel, there's a very bright mystical light ... not like a light we're used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns..." - Jeffrey Long M.D. - has studied NDE's extensively http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/beyondbelief/experts-death-experience/story?id=14221154#.T_gydvW8jbI "Regardless, it is impossible for me to adequately describe what I saw and felt. When I try to recount my experiences now, the description feels very pale. I feel as though I'm trying to describe a three-dimensional experience while living in a two-dimensional world. The appropriate words, descriptions and concepts don't even exist in our current language. I have subsequently read the accounts of other people's near-death experiences and their portrayals of heaven and I able to see the same limitations in their descriptions and vocabulary that I see in my own." Mary C. Neal, MD - To Heaven And Back pg. 71
Never heard of her mike1962
vjtorley: "If this is the best that the New Atheists can throw up against belief in God or belief in the value of prayer, then I have to say that I feel very sorry for today’s atheists. With arguments like these, they are digging a hole for themselves." With much of the same atheistic argumentation one can just as well say that hoping is wrong, just as well to say that prayer is wrong. I believe the time of atheist intellectuals has passed, and now is the time of the atheistic hordes. It didn't matter when Flew changed his mind, he was not an opinion leader anymore. I think the same goes for the rest of today's well known atheist intellectuals, that they are not opinion leaders anymore. They have set something in motion, and now there is that motion. It is one thing to make a fancy intellectual argument denying free will is real, quite another thing to really in practise of daily life not understand how choosing works. And now we get to deal with the people who really in the practise of their daily life don't understand how choosing works, the atheistic hordes. mohammadnursyamsu
Most of this kind of "argument" is merely blustery accusations toward the God in whom they don't believe. They sure spend an awful lot of time, it would seem, hating One whom they deny exists. OldArmy94

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