Thank You Jesus!

by Luke Muehlhauser on July 13, 2011 in Problem of Evil

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{ 201 comments… read them below or add one }

Jesus Christ January 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm

It ain’t no thang baby doll, chicken wings on a string.

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exapologist January 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Q.E.D.

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Hendy January 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I think of things like this every time someone brings up Lourdes miracles or the like. Really? A non-temporal omni-max being only helps you if you can make it to France? Why not kick it old school and send down some manna?

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Paula Driscoll January 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

The reality is that it is mostly Christ centered groups that are willing to go to these 3rd world countries and help. What you see in photo #3 is the result of SIN(Disobedience to God). By One man(Adam) sin came into the world and by One MAN (Jesus Christ) is it reconciled. Romans Chapter 5. Never attribute to God what is clearly a result of the fall of mankind.

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Justfinethanks January 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm

What you see in photo #3 is the result of SIN(Disobedience to God).

So are you saying that kid is getting what he deserves?

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mashmouth January 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm

(For the time being, laying aside the obvious politico-social issues concerning international relations as wealthy nations put these third-world nations under their thumb in debt, colonialism, etc.)
The atheist, too, needs to address these philosophical problems. What does an atheist say to this child’s mother? How is it explained in the atheist’s world-view?

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PDH January 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm

The reality is that it is mostly Christ centered groups that are willing to go to these 3rd world countries and help..  

Then it seems that mere mortals are more generous than God, because God does nothing. Unless your car keys are missing, anyway.

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cl January 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Luke,

Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse? Or, do you just post them in a “thumbing your nose at the idea of God” gesture? Honestly. I’m not trying to bust your balls or anything, just trying to figure out what motivates you to post these sorts of things. Whether one is a believer or not, don’t you think the blame for that poor child’s plight falls on human shoulders? I do.

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PDH January 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm

mashmouth wrote,

(For the time being, laying aside the obvious politico-social issues concerning international relations as wealthy nations put these third-world nations under their thumb in debt, colonialism, etc.)
The atheist, too, needs to address these philosophical problems.What does an atheist say to this child’s mother?How is it explained in the atheist’s world-view?  

Since we do not posit that there is an all-loving being who oversees the universe, it is not at all surprising to us that terrible tragedies take place.

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Patrick January 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Luke,Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse? Or, do you just post them in a “thumbing your nose at the idea of God” gesture? Honestly. I’m not trying to bust your balls or anything, just trying to figure out what motivates you to post these sorts of things. Whether one is a believer or not, don’t you think the blame for that poor child’s plight falls on human shoulders? I do.  

Of COURSE he thinks it falls on human shoulders. He doesn’t believe your god exists.

But if your god DID exist… one might have some questions.

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Reginald Selkirk January 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Paula Driscoll: Never attribute to God what is clearly a result of the fall of mankind.

When you are the omniscient, omnipotent be-all and end-all, passing the blame is in very poor taste.

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Reginald Selkirk January 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I’m not trying to bust your balls or anything

Another lie from cl.

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Silas January 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Jesus Christ cl. If you don’t like CSA, stay the f*ck away and stop complaining. Could it be more clear by now that Luke does in fact intend to post these sort of pictures/videos now and then?

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Hendy January 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Re. the necessity of man’s intervention (perhaps per cl/Paula)…

Absolutely, I think we have a duty to respond to wealth inequalities and lack of needed resources. Though I can say that my former belief system and friends most certainly pray much and do little. Adding in, “Bless those who do without…” at meal prayers, for example. Or praying for someone who is sick or hurt.

While, yes, this poster provokes an emotional response… is that all it does? I think it contains much more. Many believers really do think that god intervenes in tremendous numbers of little ways through their lives. Coming from a Charismatic Catholic environment, I can think of almost countless instances of people sharing, constantly interjecting “Praise the Lord!” for anything issue that met a resolution, any potential problem that was fixed, or any occurrence where they were able to “think positive” and avoid being down in the dumps and surpass a challenge.

Based on responses like cl/Paula’s… is this reaction warranted? What, exactly, does god do in the here and now? Is it discernible from what chance would have otherwise brought forth?

With respect to starvation, when considering whether the Christian god were ruling the universe, I would look back upon scripture, the authoritative reference:
- god provides manna
- god provides war-winning strength to his chosen
- god cares more about birds who do not gather, so neither should you concern yourself with storing food in barns, for god cares for you much more
- disciples are sent off with nothing, and Jesus reminds them that they were well cared for despite not having a tunic, walking stick, or sandals
- many are fed with just a little food
- amazing numbers of fish are caught in a time previously characterized by lack

In olden times, god provided physically. I know of no instances of starvation in Jesus’ closest companions or others. Also, when people were sick, he healed them after contact or with non-local intention. Now that he has blasted off and reigns on high, I only see his non-local potential as having increased.

While many answers are given with respect to the apparent decline in extravagant miracles of old, I haven’t been satisfied with such answers. I see no reason why one should expect god to have been widespread and “in the open” back then and hidden now.

Or why his “blessings” need to be confined to either emotional comfort or hypothesized rewards in an afterlife rather than caring for basic needs in an earthly life.

Similarly, Paula: should sin be localized in its effect? Should me, a non-believer, be materially “blessed” simply because I was born into a middle income family in the USA compared to a born-again Christian in the 3rd world?

I guess I’m puzzled. On the one hand it seems like miracles are a key aspect to what god can do to show he’s god. In my reading of the NT, Jesus, in fact, seems quite happy to perform miracles specifically so that others will believe. But when a lack of miracles is pointed out, perhaps where they are needed most, foul is cried on man not “pitching in” enough to fix things because, after all, that’s man’s job, not god’s.

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Chris Hallquist January 18, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I’d think the proper Christian response to this is “Oh yeah, it’s not only stupid but kind of offensive to assume God gets involved in helping me find my car keys. I’ll try to avoid that kind of thinking in the future.”

Face it: at the very least, if the world is ruled by a loving god, his ways are pretty goddamn mysterious. Too mysterious for us to have any idea whether He cares if we make that pass or not.

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500 January 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse?

Why not? You use them frequently, cl.

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cd January 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse?

Luke is pointing out how the theist God functions as a projection and expression of self/ego in the life of Believers. This is also the critique of theism of the great mystics.

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Mike aka MonolithTMA January 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

It’s really only an appeal to emotion because it’s visual. It’s actually a perfectly legitimate question. I know people who think God helps them find their keys or do better in sports or whatever activity they participate in. Sure we could get into a whole discussion of theodicy, but this graphic really drives home the opposing point.

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Steven R. January 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Luke,Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse? Or, do you just post them in a “thumbing your nose at the idea of God” gesture? Honestly. I’m not trying to bust your balls or anything, just trying to figure out what motivates you to post these sorts of things. Whether one is a believer or not, don’t you think the blame for that poor child’s plight falls on human shoulders? I do.  

No. (The Christian) God is the one who says he has planned out everyone’s lives, knows when we are to born and when we are to die and who puts people in power. The plight of that child is the result of various things, but most obvious of all terrible leadership from those in power. So, since God could have placed somebody who helps but decided to put another greedy bastard in power, God, as the appointer, is partially to blame, especially since he knew what the result is. Not only that, but at any moment he can feed the child, alleviate his pain, etc. but God refuses to. He is also in a much better position to help than any human. I’ll put it this way: if someone sees a crime go down, is fully capable of stopping it, but refuses to, is he guilty? Of course. Even our legal codes recognize that.

Now, I shouldn’t even have to say this, but this post in particular is to expose just how silly it is to think that God is willing to help humans achieve their goals (say, “I prayed to God and scored a touchdown! Surely that proves God exists!”) when so many other people, in much more dire need of help, are left without help. It’s not so much an appeal to emotion, but drawing attention to the way many Westerners think God is there helping them, but forget that God left Africa.

In an Atheistic world-view, the problem is indeed only due to humans, but in the overwhelming amount of Theistic viewpoints–and certainly in almost all religious views–God is also partially to blame. Really, it’s like if I were to create a dog and then refuse to feed it, and blame my neighbor’s dogs for not feeding it.

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Rob January 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Luke,Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse? Or, do you just post them in a “thumbing your nose at the idea of God” gesture? Honestly.   

cl,

Well I see you are back, and you waste no time donning the dunce cap. This post is about Christians and how they think God is responsible for the most trivial and mundane things in their own lives, yet jump through hoops to let God off the hook when it comes to things that really matter. Now go sit in the corner.

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Steven R. January 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

The reality is that it is mostly Christ centered groups that are willing to go to these 3rd world countries and help.

The reality is that most people in some way or another feel obliged to help, whether religious or not. That, however, is completely impertinent to the point being made here.

What you see in photo #3 is the result of SIN(Disobedience to God).By One man(Adam)sin came into the world and by One MAN (Jesus Christ) is it reconciled.

Please prove that a talking snake embodying all evil is the cause of starvation in Africa. It’s incredible that people still believe that’s an answer to evil. “Well, some book that mentions a flood for which there is no physical evidence for it mentions that some tree caused all evil…hm, that makes sense!”

Romans Chapter 5.Never attribute to God what is clearly a result of the fall of mankind.  

Read my response to Cl. The Christian God also knew this would happen, so he is partially responsible.

I should also point out that God has no reason in the world to continue the existence of physical pain since it is ineffective and that if God is willing to send mana to people, kill the first-borns of a whole nation to get his way, etc. he sure is goddamn willing to interfere in human affairs, so none of this “God wants to see what YOU do” B.S.

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Camus Dude January 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Like they say, a picture is worth – well, in this case, every theodicy ever written.

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cl January 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Here’s a question for everyone who’s commented on this thread: as regards the starving African children, how many dollars and/or hours of work have each of you put into helping them? I’ll answer if y’all do.

Reginald Selkirk,

Another lie from cl.

Do you have any evidence for that accusation?

Silas,

Jesus Christ cl. If you don’t like CSA, stay the f*ck away and stop complaining.

Though there are definitely some mean-spirited and judgmental people here, in general, I like CSA – and I’ve said so several times. I’m just curious as to what motivates Luke to post these types of things. If you don’t like me or my question, well… you can always ignore.

500,

You use [appeals to emotion] frequently, cl.

Can you provide an example of me using an appeal to emotion as opposed to legitimate discourse?

Rob,

This post is about Christians and how they think God is responsible for the most trivial and mundane things in their own lives, yet jump through hoops to let God off the hook when it comes to things that really matter.

This “post” was a picture, and as anyone with even a passing interest in art can testify, pictures have many possible interpretations. That’s why I asked what was motivating Luke. Note I asked Luke, not a half-dozen other atheists.

I mean, y’all complain about me ad nauseum, but yet, here y’all are, apparently unable to refrain from taking stabs. It’s as if you want me to keep talking.

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cl January 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Finally! Some intelligent, non-inflammatory conversation:

Hendy,

I was never one of those believers to throw around the whole “praise the Lord” thing. I’ve heard people thank God because they cleared a level on some video game. I’ve also heard people bemoan God because they stubbed their toe. I endorse neither approach, because both seem self-absorbed to me.

What, exactly, does god do in the here and now? Is it discernible from what chance would have otherwise brought forth?

Any answer I provide will ultimately be processed through one’s point of view. Does missionary work count? Or, are you saying, “Why doesn’t God rain Hormel chili over the continent of Africa?” As we’ve now both alluded to, many believers will attribute divine intervention into anything and everything. Conversely, many skeptics will deny divine intervention regarding anything and everything. For example, you write:

Also, when people were sick, he healed them after contact or with non-local intention.

Yet there are literally countless individuals who testify to seeing this happen today, and, when I or another believer brings it up, the skeptic typically just rationalizes it away. Just as it was in “olden times” as you say, when the Pharisees refused to believe even despite the miracles. The Pharisees – who requested miraculous signs – accused Jesus of using demons to accomplish them. If skeptics didn’t believe then, and simply scoffed then, why should things be any different now?

In my reading of the NT, Jesus, in fact, seems quite happy to perform miracles specifically so that others will believe.

I’m not so sure about that. Although there may be instances where a miracle was intended to bolster faith, for the most part, I think Jesus worked miracles out of compassion, not as advertisements for himself. Further, Jesus had very harsh words for those who requested miracles as criteria for belief [Mark 9:19 as just one example].

Besides, the Bible says the meek will inherit the Earth. That a child like this suffers here and now isn’t the end of the story given theistic belief. Suffering befalls us all in a world corrupted by sin. We, per our excesses, suffer in different ways, but we all suffer.

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Kyle Key January 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Luke, please post more pictures/videos. I enjoy watching the crybabies look for a response, and when they inevitably can’t come up with one, they resort to pretending as if the post invalidates or undermines any of the other content on the website. And of course, even if it WERE merely an emotional appeal, those can be just as effective–if not more so–than the more philosophical posts, since a great deal of people are theists for emotional reasons.

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Steven R. January 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Finally! Some intelligent, non-inflammatory conversation:Hendy,I was never one of those believers to throw around the whole “praise the Lord” thing. I’ve heard people thank God because they cleared a level on some video game. I’ve also heard people bemoan God because they stubbed their toe. I endorse neither approach, because both seem self-absorbed to me.

Do you have any evidence that it’s from being self-absorbed?

Any answer I provide will ultimately be processed through one’s point of view. Does missionary work count? Or, are you saying, “Why doesn’t God rain Hormel chili over the continent of Africa?”

Obviously missionary work doesn’t count, as it’s ineffective given all the world’s needs and is fully explainable through naturalistic means.

As we’ve now both alluded to, many believers will attribute divine intervention into anything and everything. Conversely, many skeptics will deny divine intervention regarding anything and everything.

With the exception being, none of the miracles provided by skeptics are actually provable, fail when tested, and none of them are actually conclusive of supernatural intervention, but rather, involve poorly understood diseases.

For example, you write:
Yet there are literally countless individuals who testify to seeing this happen today, and, when I or another believer brings it up, the skeptic typically just rationalizes it away.

So? That’s because it means your explanation is highly unlikely. I always see theists whining about people reasoning their anecdotes away, but what they fail to realize is that their proof is weak, and that’s why it’s so easy to reason it away. Not only that, but it’s usually inconsistent. One denomination will tell you that praying to the Virgin Mary has no effect but provide proof of how God saved them; the other will tell you how a picture of the Virgin Mary made some bullets bounce off, saving the person transporting the painting. Talk about logically inconsistent.

Just as it was in “olden times” as you say, when the Pharisees refused to believe even despite the miracles. The Pharisees – who requested miraculous signs – accused Jesus of using demons to accomplish them.

Ah, the good ol’ Pharisees. The ultimate resort of the Theist who can’t really explain away the rationalizations of the skeptic, so, why not accuse the skeptic of being stubborn like the mean ol’ Pharisees? First off, you assume Jesus even performed such miracles to begin with. At any rate, they did admit some supernatural cause for it, so at the VERY LEAST, some supernatural means to explain miracles should have already been established, rather than having all of your anecdotes refuted or questioned by nature.

As has been pointed out, why hasn’t God ever healed an amputee or done some very well documented miracle? How, ah, convenient for the Theist.

If skeptics didn’t believe then, and simply scoffed then, why should things be any different now?

1. Skeptics back then recognized some supernatural force. At the very least, these “miracles” should be impossible to explain away with natural knowledge.
2. Because now we can document things very well and can even test this out.

I’m not so sure about that. Although there may be instances where a miracle was intended to bolster faith, for the most part, I think Jesus worked miracles out of compassion, not as advertisements for himself.

Well, seeing how God was willing to burn people to prove that he was the Almighty, I don’t see why he would be adverse to proving himself through miracles.

Further, Jesus had very harsh words for those who requested miracles as criteria for belief [Mark 9:19 as just one example].

I’m sure the Snake Oil merchant also has some harsh words to say to those who question the legitimacy of his product.

Besides, the Bible says the meek will inherit the Earth. That a child like this suffers here and now isn’t the end of the story given theistic belief. Suffering befalls us all in a world corrupted by sin. We, per our excesses, suffer in different ways, but we all suffer.  

Still, if that’s the case, why does God heal anyone at all? Just let them suffer because they’l inherit the earth later, right? Oh, and it doesn’t explain why God created Satan so he could trick humanity. Or why he left Adam and Eve unattended when he knew they were likely to sin–or even directly knew the outcome. And why is it that we are all paying for one man’s sin? Why must a baby who never once even thought about sin die or starve? Honestly, even if this doesn’t come from the high ivory towers of philosophy, as Chef from South Park put it, “God hasn’t gotten over it [the events in the Garden of Evil]…so he doesn’t care who he harms”.

Or, as my friend put it, “The fact of the matter, actually, is that it was your deity’s failure to endow adam and eve with the necessary faculties to recognize the peril in their actions, or to differentiate between the sincerity of the serpent’s words, and your god’s violent threats from which the exile from Eden was a direct result.” Or why God didn’t adequately teach Adam & Eve. Or how Eve really couldn’t recognize her actions were wrong until she tasted from the Tree of Knowledge, etc.

Honestly, Cl, very poorly thought out.

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PDH January 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm

cl wrote,

Here’s a question for everyone who’s commented on this thread: as regards the starving African children, how many dollars and/or hours of work have each of you put into helping them?

I’ve got a different question: are you intentionally missing the point?

This is not a charity competition. This is an argument against the existence of your God. God’s non-existence is perfectly consistent with widespread uncharitable behaviour. Your question is irrelevant.

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Steven R. January 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Here’s a question for everyone who’s commented on this thread: as regards the starving African children, how many dollars and/or hours of work have each of you put into helping them?

@Cl
Last time I checked, nobody in this thread ever claimed to be the most just, benevolent, all-powerful being that exists. And yeah, way to throw out a red-herring and an attempt at an emotional appeal (yes, cl, that’s an emotional appeal…which, given the rest of your post, is quite amusing, really).

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PDH January 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm

cl wrote,

Yet there are literally countless individuals who testify to seeing this happen today, and, when I or another believer brings it up, the skeptic typically just rationalizes it away.

You are rationalising away the suffering of billions of innocent people on the basis of the evidence provided by these dubious claims. I am rationalising your dubious claims away on the basis of the evidence provided by the suffering of billions of innocent people.

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Hendy January 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm

@cl:
Thanks for the response.

Or, are you saying, “Why doesn’t God rain Hormel chili over the continent of Africa?”

Priceless. I absolutely loved that.

As we’ve now both alluded to, many believers will attribute divine intervention into anything and everything. Conversely, many skeptics will deny divine intervention regarding anything and everything.

Fair enough! Your comment made me think about this more, and I wonder if some of it, for me, comes down to the current historical standing. Had god continued to act in ways we see described in the bible — parting seas, calling down fire on water soaked log piles to prove himself, giving man superhuman strength, re-creating some Saul-like experiences in every generation, and so on — then such things as miracles would hardly seem problematic in the present. But the historical record seems to indicate that a whole boat load of incredible stuff happened… and then stopped. Or at least if it continued, it could scarcely be considered as unambiguously supernatural/incredible as the things in the bible!

I guess I just can’t picture Doubting Thomas, with blood soaked hands after fondling Jesus’ exposed rib cage and threading his palm with a finger, leaning over and being like, “Hey John, this dude is such a fraud. That is soooo totally stage makeup.” Does that make sense?

Also, many seem to be on egg shells about testing miracles. But John concludes his gospel with a statement of authority and credibility, and Luke declares his goals from the start of being a reputable source. Back then, a simply assertion seems to have been the gold standard of reliability.

Now it’s the scientific method. Surely god can adapt.

Me:In my reading of the NT, Jesus, in fact, seems quite happy to perform miracles specifically so that others will believe.

You:I’m not so sure about that. Although there may be instances where a miracle was intended to bolster faith, for the most part, I think Jesus worked miracles out of compassion, not as advertisements for himself.

I’d point to the fact that in any instance of chastisement (except for the instance of being told they’ll only get the sign of Jonah) was always followed by performing the miracle requested anyway. This is the case in your cited example of Mark 9:19. One particular that comes to mind is the healing of Lazarus. Jesus is told Laz is sick, dilly dallies for two days, and then hears that Laz actually died:

So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

I guess my simpleton reading is that Jesus was glad (verbatim) that Laz died, knowing that he was going to do something more amazing than just curing his sickness. In other words, “You’re all about to be freaking wowed. Check this out and experience some serious increases in your belief points.”

Lastly, fair enough about the hear and now. I disagree, but agree that it’s consistent with the theistic message. I would say that I still find it odd that sin’s effects are so non-uniform and essentially related to the circumstances of your birth. Born to the wrong people, wrong circumstances, or wrong country… you’re almost predestined to have a sh*t existence. Heck, you might have a sh*t existence and be born somewhere where they don’t even know about Jesus! That strikes me as unfair. In the case of kids, they don’t even seem to be able to muster the malicious intentions necessary have warranted partaking in the muck the rest of us earned by falling short of the glory of god.

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Zeb January 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I don’t object to this post as a form of argument. It makes a couple important points quite effectively, as previous commenters have pointed out. But I do object to the way that person’s image is being used to score a rhetorical point and with a flippant tone. Here’s this kid who has been just about has trampled and forgotten as a person can be, and some middle class blogger dude in America is going to use his photo as an icon of wretchedness for a tool to mock his ideological inferiors. We don’t know anything more about this person’s life and identity than that he is to be pitied, we don’t get to hear his voice in any way, and we’re certainly not helping him by objectifying him here.

Beyond the unconsented use of a photo, which I think is disrespectful and minutely abusive, I have a niggling discomfort with the way the “problem of evil/suffering/pain” is usually discussed. I usually only hear the problem being discussed by people who (like myself) don’t have much first hand experience of it. And so, even in the abstract, the true sufferers who a being bandied about don’t have much of a voice in the conversation, and aren’t generally invited into it. Their lives are reduced to suffering, which is reduced to fodder for debate. If we really want to know if suffering should count against belief in the existence of a benevolent god, we should at least ask the people who have suffered what if they have found that to be the case.

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Zeb January 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I meant to end that by saying that maybe this has been done, and if anyone knows of attempts to study the religious response of people who have suffered intensely I’d really like to read that literature.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm

cl,

Every time I post an image or video, you write something like: “Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse?”

The answer is “Yes.”

Every time.

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cl January 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Man, you boys are really on one tonight!

Hendy,

For confirmation of what I alluded to, see Steven R.’s comment January 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm: deny, deny, deny. No Bayes, no math, just a bunch of puffery about what’s “likely” and such. Point being, no evidence is good enough. It was like that in Jesus’ time, and, as you can see, it’s like that today. If you think I’ve given his reply short thrift, maybe you can identify the parts you’d like to see me elaborate on?

Kyle Key,

And of course, even if it WERE merely an emotional appeal, those can be just as effective-if not more so-than the more philosophical posts, since a great deal of people are theists for emotional reasons.

Bingo. That’s what I was looking for. Of course, a great deal of people are atheists for emotional reasons, too – as the commentary in the post testifies. This whole thing is an exercise in emotion. Everybody gets all worked up about the suffering in the world, then, voila! God doesn’t exist.

Steven R.,

And yeah, way to throw out a red-herring and an attempt at an emotional appeal

It is not an emotional appeal. Rather, I’m sincerely interested to know how many of you are actually doing something about this, and it doesn’t surprise me that nobody’s answered – which doesn’t affect the theodicy at all. Don’t be silly.

If you wish to distill your screed January 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm into one or two simple, pointed, non-rhetorical questions, perhaps we can make a modicum of progress. Else, I remain doubtful, and the evidence is in said screed, so don’t ask.

PDH,

I’ve got a different question: are you intentionally missing the point?

You say “the” point as if there’s only one. Am I not allowed to ask my own questions for my own reasons?

This is an argument against the existence of your God. God’s non-existence is perfectly consistent with widespread uncharitable behaviour.

Of course, that’s the conclusion you draw from the facts. I conclude that widespread uncharitable behavior is perfectly consistent with human sin, just as God said. Unless you can think of a way to empirically determine who’s right here, really… what’s the point?

You are rationalising away the suffering of billions of innocent people on the basis of the evidence provided by these dubious claims.

You’re out of context, entirely. I do not offer any of the various miracle claims in an effort to rationalize suffering. I alluded to them in response to Hendy’s question of what God is doing today. If you are arguing a God that is somehow obligated to come down and hold our hands to make sure we all treat each other right and coddle us all like little babies, well… then I’m an atheist, too.

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Kyle Key January 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm

cl: “Suffering befalls us all in a world corrupted by sin.”

“A world corrupted by sin,” meaning, “a world wherein my deity says we’re bad because we didn’t uphold the rules that it made up, even though it knew before it created both us and the rules that we wouldn’t be able to uphold them.”

Or would you say, “a world wherein my necessarily good (and necessarily existing) deity purposefully created flawed creatures, who it knew would not be able to uphold the list of necessarily good rules that it reported to them unless they believe in it and worship it, two things which very fortunately happen to be on the list of necessarily good things”?

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cl January 18, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Luke,

Every time I post an image or video, you write something like: “Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse?”

The answer is “Yes.”

Well there we go. Thanks for the clear, straightforward, unequivocal answer. Now, I’ll never have to ask that question again – and, I won’t. I suggest employing the same strategy – clear, straightforward, unequivocal answering of questions – whenever you tire of me asking them. All you have to do is answer, but, people shouldn’t fault me for asking. After all, asking questions is exactly what a critical thinker is supposed to do — right?

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cl January 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Kyle Key,

Meaning, “a world where people choose to ignore Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor as oneself.” In such a world, suffering is the inevitable consequence. Sin has logical entailments, just like anything else. If people didn’t sin – that is, if people loved their neighbor as themselves – situations like those Luke shows in the photo would not occur. It’s not just those types of situations, either. There’s suffering everywhere, because there is sin and self-love are everywhere. Sin entails suffering, plain and simple. In desirist terms, “wrong actions entail thwarted desires.”

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Brian January 18, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Whether one is a believer or not, don’t you think the blame for that poor child’s plight falls on human shoulders? I do.  

I think blame is tied to the concept of conditions, both necessary and sufficient.

If a god exists:
1) No human’s actions were sufficient to cause #3.
2) No human’s actions were necessary to cause #3.
3) Humanity as a whole’s actions were not sufficient to cause #3.
4) Humanity as a whole’s actions were not necessary to cause #3.
5) God’s actions were sufficient to cause #3.
6) God’s actions were necessary to cause #3.

If no god exists:
1) No human’s actions were sufficient to cause #3.
2) No human’s actions were necessary to cause #3.
3) Humanity as a whole’s actions were sufficient to cause #3.
4) Humanity as a whole’s actions were necessary to cause #3.

So the answer is no.

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DaVead January 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm

cl,

I agree with your responses, but I think there’s nothing wrong with emotional appeals in an on-going discourse. It depends what your goal is, really. If it’s ultimately persuasion, and your someone as psychologically conscious as Luke, it just makes sense. But I think the emotional appeals of religion are much stronger.

What is wrong is that a lot of people might see that picture, be affirmed in their atheism or have their religious views threatened, but then do absolutely nothing to solve those issues, thereby demonstrating how little they actually care. World hunger is a manmade evil in that most of us are fully able to help but choose not to and instead eat ice cream, buy perfume, go on vacations, and own multi-bedroom detached homes in the suburbs. What is the estimated cost to solve world hunger? 30 billion dollars? Here’s an idea: let’s all sell our computers, forget our differences, quit our jobs, and move to Africa to blow our life savings on saving those children!

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PDH January 18, 2011 at 7:09 pm

cl wrote,

You say “the” point as if there’s only one. Am I not allowed to ask my own questions for my own reasons?

You are allowed to ask irrelevant questions at any time you please, yes.

Of course, that’s the conclusion you draw from the facts. I conclude that widespread uncharitable behavior is perfectly consistent with human sin, just as God said. Unless you can think of a way to empirically determine who’s right here, really… what’s the point?

What’s the point of what? The question that you just asked? I don’t know! Please explain what the point of asking how much atheists have given to charity was, since it has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not God exists.

You’re out of context, entirely. I do not offer any of the various miracle claims in an effort to rationalize suffering. I alluded to them in response to Hendy’s question of what God is doing today. If you are arguing a God that is somehow obligated to come down and hold our hands to make sure we all treat each other right and coddle us all like little babies, well… then I’m an atheist, too.  

I am arguing that claims should be consistent.

I’m not sure how preventing or ameliorating the horrendous suffering of billions of innocent people entails mollycoddling but I am fairly confident that a being who would sit back and watch children being thrown into ovens and do nothing whatsoever to help them cannot be called morally perfect.

Is this what you would to say to the mothers of children who have been abused and tortured to death? ‘Don’t be such a baby?’

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Steven R. January 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Kyle Key,Meaning, “a world where people choose to ignore Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor as oneself.” In such a world, suffering is the inevitable consequence. Sin has logical entailments, just like anything else. If people didn’t sin – that is, if people loved their neighbor as themselves – situations like those Luke shows in the photo would not occur. It’s not just those types of situations, either. There’s suffering everywhere, because there is sin and self-love are everywhere. Sin entails suffering, plain and simple. In desirist terms, “wrong actions entail thwarted desires.”  

Your response is absolutely worthless then. Sin only explains why suffering occurs, but not why God fails to protect those who are affected by it in an effective manner. It seems that God is 100% willing to murder people when they commit sins, but when it comes to helping victims, God is nowhere to be seen.

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Kyle Key January 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm

cl: “Meaning, “a world where people choose to ignore Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor as oneself.””
You could’ve just said the logically equivalent phrase, “Yep, you got it, Kyle,” as on your view, your deity purposefully created those people knowing that they’d ignore Jesus’ command, so your deity’s still just as culpable as it was before, and that command is still impossible to follow. You haven’t contradicted anything I said.

“If people didn’t sin – that is, if people loved their neighbor as themselves”
That’s the only sin now? Not loving your neighbors as yourself? If you’re implying that everything else which might be called a sin follows from this one, that only serves to highlight the uselessness of a command that can be interpreted so widely.

DaVead: “World hunger is a manmade evil…”
Partly; on most theistic views, it’s the inevitable and purposeful result of the universe that your deity of choice put into motion, and thus your deity is culpable.

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Kyle Key January 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm

DaVead: “But I think the emotional appeals of religion are much stronger.”
You mean telling children, “You’re going to be tortured forever if you don’t believe what I do!”? Yeah, I agree…that’s a lot more effective, unfortunately for those children.

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Steven R. January 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Steven R.,
It is not an emotional appeal. Rather, I’m sincerely interested to know how many of you are actually doing something about this, and it doesn’t surprise me that nobody’s answered – which doesn’t affect the theodicy at all. Don’t be silly.

Sure it is. The question bears no logical bearing on the objection presented here, but it is a blatant attempt to shame others, which is really why I think nobody took the time to answer that (although I’ll indulge you and say I have no income and can’t travel abroad at the moment, so no, I haven’t done anything but I have’t been able to do anything either). There really is no other point in asking the question other than an emotional appeal, a “why are you blaming God for inaction when you haven’t done anything yourself”, which attempts to discredit the person via perceived immorality.

If you wish to distill your screed January 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm into one or two simple, pointed, non-rhetorical questions, perhaps we can make a modicum of progress. Else, I remain doubtful, and the evidence is in said screed, so don’t ask.

Alright:

1. You’re just whining that your “miracles” are easily rationalized away, without being able to actually rationalize why they should be counted as miracles.
2. At the very least, if it was really a miracle, we should be able to establish some supernatural force, as the examples you give merely show skepticism about the source of the supernatural powers, not their validity.
3. Why hasn’t God ever healed amputees or something that doesn’t involve poorly understood diseases, trivial coincidences, etc.?
4. As for original sin: “The fact of the matter, actually, is that it was your deity’s failure to endow adam and eve with the necessary faculties to recognize the peril in their actions, or to differentiate between the sincerity of the serpent’s words, and your god’s violent threats from which the exile from Eden was a direct result”

If you are arguing a God that is somehow obligated to come down and hold our hands to make sure we all treat each other right and coddle us all like little babies, well… then I’m an atheist, too.  

Uh, that’s another emotional appeal, since you aren’t making a logical objection but merely appealing to a perceived sense of independence and maturity that would be violated by God’s interference…not sure what exactly is wrong with God taking decisive action when guiding us, but okay.

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Nonchai January 18, 2011 at 8:04 pm

“In an Atheistic world-view, the problem is indeed only due to humans, ”
Even if this problem might possibly be said to be due to humans today, (in that the rich west could arguably eradicate much of the hunger and famine) , the fact remains that humans have been around for over a hundred thousand years. It is highly likely if not certain that cases of famine were present through all that time.

Since thousands or even hundreds of of years ago there would have been no way for humans from one end of the world to come to the aid of the hungry, for the vast majority of human existence the only person able to feed the hungry in famine would have been a god. And this non-existent sky daddy clearly wasn’t able to do diddly squat for them then – nor now.

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Felipe Ramos January 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm

COMPLETELY TRUE!! you are absolutely right abou them.

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Matt January 18, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Luke,

If this picture motivates more people atheist or theist to do something about the child in it then I am insanely glad that you posted it no matter what your motive was.

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Jugglable January 18, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Luke,

If the appeal to emotion has a legitimate place, why is that? Maybe seeing that starving child causes despair in the pit of my soul. But why does that have a legitimate place in theological discourse any more than my fuzzy feelings about God? Shouldn’t we elevate our level of discourse to a level…well, where we present arguments and leave cheap emotional shots behind?

Jugglable

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Steven R. January 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Luke,
If the appeal to emotion has a legitimate place, why is that?Maybe seeing that starving child causes despair in the pit of my soul.But why does that have a legitimate place in theological discourse any more than my fuzzy feelings about God?Shouldn’t we elevate our level of discourse to a level…well, where we present arguments and leave cheap emotional shots behind?Jugglable  

Well, it does present a criticism of a common Theistic tendency, and, need I note that arguments like the Fine-Tuning Argument fall back upon appeals to emotion (why have so many humans thought that human life requires an explanation!), the Moral Argument (hey, murder feels wrong, so it must be an objective fact!), Arguments for the Resurrection (would people really die horrifying deaths for something insane?), etc. They more or less rely upon common human emotionally charged thoughts than reason.

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Kyle Key January 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Jugglable:
“But why does that have a legitimate place in theological discourse any more than my fuzzy feelings about God?”
Have you been following philosophy of religion in the last decade? It’s all the rage to declare those fuzzy feelings proper and basic and all the proof one needs of their particular deity. Fuzzy feelings are the foundation of modern apologetics.

But of course, as multiple people in this comment thread have already pointed out, the picture isn’t merely an appeal to emotion; it’s a quick reminder of the evidential arguments from pain/suffering/evil and simultaneously calls some theists out on the double standard of praising god for intervening in meaningless, privileged bullshit but not condemning it for failing to intervene in cases of the starkest suffering, which, because of its pictorial format, conjures more immediate emotional reactions.

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Thin-ice January 18, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Don’t you just love the way CL and HENDY find each other’s comments so good, so insightful, so penetrating? Like a love fest between the fundies that they are.

And both completely missed the point of Luke’s posting, which is the wildly convoluted and inconsistent ways that christians thank their imaginary god, focusing on the trivial and ignoring the truly important.

Emotional cheap shot (to the fundies) or not, how about dealing with the serious issue at it’s core: a god who answers trivial prayer but chooses to ignore prayers of life or death? The very nature of your christian god is on trial, and from the comments here you folks seem totally unwilling to address the issue head-on.

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Jugglable January 18, 2011 at 9:46 pm

“Well, it does present a criticism of a common Theistic tendency”

Oh, I get it. He wasn’t being overly emotional, he was just pointing out that RELIGIOUS people often are! Oh, how immune-to-criticsm of him.

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Patrick January 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Luke,
If the appeal to emotion has a legitimate place, why is that?Maybe seeing that starving child causes despair in the pit of my soul.But why does that have a legitimate place in theological discourse any more than my fuzzy feelings about God?Shouldn’t we elevate our level of discourse to a level…well, where we present arguments and leave cheap emotional shots behind?Jugglable  

One of the first issues that got me into the whole religion/atheism debate scene was when I realized how, whenever someone brought up the whole “yay for rape!” stuff from the old testament where God authorizes his followers to murder a bunch of people and then rape the leftover orphaned virgins, religious people would often respond by trying to claim that it didn’t count as rape because technically there was a nonconsensual marriage-like ritual before the brutalization.

I suspect this argument was only used because the idea of God handing out people’s children for his followers to force into a life of sexual servitude was something so far in the past, and so distant from their actual experiences, that they could treat it with the degree of separation and detachment we usually see in how we react to fiction.

One good picture of a mass grave, and sobbing pubescent girls being picked through by leering murderers would probably have nipped that in the bud, and stopped a lot of religious people from saying things that, were they to really think about them, they’d probably regret.

Images can help people overcome the sense of detachment that lets them discuss religious beliefs as if they’re just storybook plot elements. The problem of evil, if god is real, isn’t a question about theoretical units of suffering weighed against theoretical units of goodness, its a question about what it could possibly mean to be infinitely good if you don’t actually live up to commonly held human standards of ethical behavior. The problem of biblical atrocity, if those events ever even happened, isn’t a storybook tale of Viking-like rape and pillage and big parties afterward, its a recounting of events that would, if true, place their perpetrators on the same moral level as modern African war criminals and warlords. Even the problem of hell, if real, isn’t just some storybook morality tale in which bad things happen because you are imperfect, its a vision of a universe that is more vicious than anything human beings have ever perpetuated upon one another, and yet which is ruled by a being who looks out upon it and calls it Justice, or who calls it injustice, but is incapable of doing anything about it, and yet expects to be called omnipotent.

Watching the way people relate to these issues (and also political issues) has cemented in my mind a conviction that most people view religious and political beliefs not as true beliefs in the classic sense, but rather as a part of a rich imaginative life. A good picture, now and then, can break things down, and with luck, force people to consider, just for a moment, what the world would be like if the things they pretend to believe were truly real.

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cl January 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm

DaVead,

…I think there’s nothing wrong with emotional appeals in an on-going discourse. It depends what your goal is, really. If it’s ultimately persuasion, and your someone as psychologically conscious as Luke, it just makes sense.

Key words: if the goal is persuasion. Should persuasion be the goal, or, cold logic and search for truth? For the most part, my goal in posting here is to encourage critical thinking. If we say our goal is persuasion, we’ve stacked the deck from the outset – that is, unless the goal is persuasion! Previously, I’ve heard Luke and other rationalists frown upon appeals to emotion and intuition as means of argumentation. Apparently Luke is starting to lean more towards persuasion than that rational pursuit of truth he used to pay such homage to? If so, I can understand, seeing as how the last couple years of “hardcore philosophy” have pretty much led him to a certain disenchantment with the topic.

What is wrong is that a lot of people might see that picture, be affirmed in their atheism or have their religious views threatened, but then do absolutely nothing to solve those issues, thereby demonstrating how little they actually care.

Yes, that’s exactly what I was getting at when I asked who here has donated so much as a dollar or one work hour to such causes. I was accused of an appeal to emotion, but that accusation was vapid. I am appealing to consistency. For, here we have a bunch of atheists who – presumably – would say that if a God does exist, then it’s an evil God that doesn’t care. Yet, what are those atheists doing? Complaining and belittling Christians isn’t going to help those who are suffering. It’s inconsistent, through and through.

Here’s an idea: let’s all sell our computers, forget our differences, quit our jobs, and move to Africa to blow our life savings on saving those children!

I’m definitely part of the problem, I can admit that. However, that said, I can say that I at least make a measurable effort, precisely because I believe Christians are supposed to, well, you know… do what Jesus said.

PDH,

You are allowed to ask irrelevant questions at any time you please, yes.

Who made you the arbiter of relevance? My question is most certainly relevant, to me.

Please explain what the point of asking how much atheists have given to charity was, since it has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not God exists.

I explained my intention to DaVead above.

I am arguing that claims should be consistent.

Great. I agree. You are claiming that if God exists, God should help such children, correct? Well, you exist: do you help such children? If yes, then you’re somewhat consistent. If no, then, you’re not.

…I am fairly confident that a being who would sit back and watch children being thrown into ovens and do nothing whatsoever to help them cannot be called morally perfect.

I understand why you believe that. On your view, this life is all one has. On the Christian’s view, all wrongs will be made right, permanently.

Is this what you would to say to the mothers of children who have been abused and tortured to death? ‘Don’t be such a baby?’

No. To such a mother – if I said anything at all, because words often seem cheap amidst great tragedy – I would probably say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Or, maybe just a hug.

Kyle Key,

You could’ve just said the logically equivalent phrase, “Yep, you got it, Kyle,” as on your view, your deity purposefully created those people knowing that they’d ignore Jesus’ command, so your deity’s still just as culpable as it was before, and that command is still impossible to follow.

If you wish to put words in my mouth, feel free, just don’t be too confident in the conclusions you draw therefrom.

“If people didn’t sin – that is, if people loved their neighbor as themselves” [cl]

That’s the only sin now?

Of course not. Why would you leap to such a conclusion?

Steven R.,

The question bears no logical bearing on the objection presented here, but it is a blatant attempt to shame others,

I can’t stop you from seeing what you want to see. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: my question was not an appeal to emotion, nor was it intended as relevant to theodicy. Rather, I want to know this: of all these people who obviously think starvation is such a horrendous evil, how many are actually doing something about it? We’re supposed to be consistent. As such, the person who claims that God ought to alleviate starvation ought to be doing at least something. If they’re not, on what grounds can they indict God?

I’ll indulge you and say I have no income and can’t travel abroad at the moment, so no, I haven’t done anything but I have’t been able to do anything either

That’s just an excuse. Surely you’ve had income at some point in your life, right? Surely you have the means to produce income for yourself, right? Nobody said you had to actually go to Africa. Nonetheless, thanks for being the only one with the gall to answer. I believe you have far more power than you believe you have.

There really is no other point in asking the question other than an emotional appeal, a “why are you blaming God for inaction when you haven’t done anything yourself”, which attempts to discredit the person via perceived immorality.

Again, that is not an emotional appeal. It’s an appeal to consistency. Why do you think I’m attempting to discredit others as immoral, when I freely admit that I myself am immoral?

1. You’re just whining that your “miracles” are easily rationalized away, without being able to actually rationalize why they should be counted as miracles.

If there was never a case of a cancers and other terminal illnesses “suddenly disappearing,” you might have a point.

3. Why hasn’t God ever healed amputees or something that doesn’t involve poorly understood diseases, trivial coincidences, etc.?

Why do you assume that God hasn’t? Simply because the men in white coats can’t force God to do it a million times in a row?

4. As for original sin: “The fact of the matter, actually, is that it was your deity’s failure to endow adam and eve with the necessary faculties to recognize the peril in their actions, or to differentiate between the sincerity of the serpent’s words, and your god’s violent threats from which the exile from Eden was a direct result”

Why do you assume God failed to endow Adam and Eve with the necessary faculties? How do you know? What evidence can you point me to?

If you are arguing a God that is somehow obligated to come down and hold our hands to make sure we all treat each other right and coddle us all like little babies, well… then I’m an atheist, too. [cl]

Uh, that’s another emotional appeal, since you aren’t making a logical objection but merely appealing to a perceived sense of independence and maturity that would be violated by God’s interference…

False. I’m simply stating that I don’t believe in a God who is obligated to prevent all suffering. At some point, we have to take responsibility for ourselves. This has nothing to do with any “sense of independence” being violated. You made that up and tacked it on to what I said.

So, where does that leave us?

Jugglable,

Maybe seeing that starving child causes despair in the pit of my soul. But why does that have a legitimate place in theological discourse any more than my fuzzy feelings about God? Shouldn’t we elevate our level of discourse to a level…well, where we present arguments and leave cheap emotional shots behind?

Bravo to you. Good to see that not all “freethinkers” think in a herd.

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bossmanham January 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Yes, these emotional arguments are the best that atheists have (note: this is not a good thing). Leave all that rationality on the back burner. People starve and die, therefore God doesn’t exist. Yes, wonderful argument.

Now if someone could argue for how that child is worth even worrying about or getting emotional over on atheism.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 18, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Jugglable,

I object to employing feelings as evidence of metaphysical truth – that is, in an argument that has a metaphysical claim as its conclusion.

But I’m not making an argument in this post. It’s a different kind of discourse.

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cl January 18, 2011 at 10:25 pm

thin-ice,

Don’t you just love the way CL and HENDY find each other’s comments so good, so insightful, so penetrating?

Refresh my memory: where did Hendy respond to me thus?

…both completely missed the point of Luke’s posting, which is the wildly convoluted and inconsistent ways that christians thank their imaginary god, focusing on the trivial and ignoring the truly important.

Apparently you aren’t reading what I write. I’ve already commented on Christians who thank God for clearing a level in video game.

…how about dealing with the serious issue at it’s core: a god who answers trivial prayer but chooses to ignore prayers of life or death?

What are you looking for? What, exactly, do you want me to say? You seem to be arguing that God only answers trivial prayers, but, presuming you’re an atheist, I find that a bit odd. Can you clarify?

Kyle Key,

Have you been following philosophy of religion in the last decade? It’s all the rage to declare those fuzzy feelings proper and basic and all the proof one needs of their particular deity. Fuzzy feelings are the foundation of modern apologetics.

LOL! Bravo, bravo… that was funny as funny can be. Unfortunately, fuzzy feelings appear to be the foundation of the objections being leveled here. It’s funny, too, because many of these people are the same people who will turn around and declare that objective moral values don’t exist. Uh, okay… what was that about being consistent?

Patrick,

Images can help people overcome the sense of detachment that lets them discuss religious beliefs as if they’re just storybook plot elements.

Very well said. By the way, exactly which OT story were you alluding to? I’ve got an idea, but, don’t want to assume.

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cl January 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Luke,

I object to employing feelings as evidence of metaphysical truth – that is, in an argument that has a metaphysical claim as its conclusion.

Then, on what empirical grounds does the atheist rest in their claim that failure to help starving children is evidence of God’s nonexistence? Surely you’re not just going to assert such because you feel it, right?

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Rob January 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm

The concept “good” involves emotions. So this whine from the theists that it is somehow illegitimate to employ emotions to argue about the alleged goodness of god is a non-starter.

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bossmanham January 18, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Rob,

So this whine from the theists that it is somehow illegitimate to employ emotions to argue about the alleged goodness of god is a non-starter

But a tu quoque is a starter, eh?

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Steven R. January 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Steven R.,
I can’t stop you from seeing what you want to see. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: my question was not an appeal to emotion, nor was it intended as relevant to theodicy. Rather, I want to know this: of all these people who obviously think starvation is such a horrendous evil, how many are actually doing something about it? We’re supposed to be consistent. As such, the person who claims that God ought to alleviate starvation ought to be doing at least something. If they’re not, on what grounds can they indict God?

See, the last part reveals that it IS an emotional appeal. You’re asking someone to consider how (seemingly) hypocritical the people making the claim is, which does nothing to logically detract from the argument presented or even raise a new point pertinent to the argument. All it does is appeal to a sense of indignity over this “hypocrisy”. Of course, I don’t expect you to agree, so, since this is a relatively silly debate, I’ll stop commenting here, though feel free to address anything I said if you feel the need to (I rather hate it when someone says they wont answer back and then add some condescending remark that if you raise one or two final points, you’re being immature. See? I can try and be consistent.)

Now, as for what grounds we have to condemn, the answer is quite simple. None of us ever claimed to be the most just, good, benevolent, potent and knowing being possible/that happens to exist. Further, none of us claimed moral superiority when it comes to helping out, although whatever we do really pales in comparison with what God can do. To put it in perspective, it’s like asking a poor man who has an extra dollar why he spends it in the luxury of a chocolate bar when the rich man has all the $30 Billion to end world hunger–and who also happens to be the creator of the victims…

That’s just an excuse. Surely you’ve had income at some point in your life, right? Surely you have the means to produce income for yourself, right? Nobody said you had to actually go to Africa. Nonetheless, thanks for being the only one with the gall to answer. I believe you have far more power than you believe you have.

Actually Cl, I have never had an income at any point in my life and, though I do have the means to make an income, it’s through enterprise alone, and, that’s far too much a risk for me to take, especially without a means of even setting up a store or even obtaining a license, since now I you need to pay to enter any business. At any rate

Again, that is not an emotional appeal. It’s an appeal to consistency. Why do you think I’m attempting to discredit others as immoral, when I freely admit that I myself am immoral?

Apply the same logic then to the Atheists here, none who claimed to be morally good and perfect.

If there was never a case of a cancers and other terminal illnesses “suddenly disappearing,” you might have a point.

No, I think the point stands. Cancer and the human body in general is poorly understood and various other illnesses also seem to “suddenly disappear”. There are also people who have carried HIV for ten years but never had AIDs. Weird stuff happens, but the real question is, why isn’t it that everyone who prays gets healed? And, before I get the “they aren’t pure in their hearts” response, I need to say that my grandmother, who was lying even as she prayed to be healed of cancer, was “healed” with all her imperfections, so it’s a rather unconvincing argument. Oh, and also why miracles for people from other religions have been healed.

At any rate, I want something that doesn’t rely on poorly understood things and which can’t be traced to nature. Like I said, an amputee being healed or a documented event of a supernatural force field protecting a soldier. Something that isn’t just left up to speculation.

Why do you assume that God hasn’t? Simply because the men in white coats can’t force God to do it a million times in a row?

Because prayer has consistently been shown to be false, if prayers actually worked–even just for the most pious–all cancer should have been gone by now if God really does answer all prayers as he claims in the New Testament, etc. It’s wildly inconsistent and more than likely to be the result of different physiology and other natural stuff than God just capriciously deciding who he heals.

Why do you assume God failed to endow Adam and Eve with the necessary faculties? How do you know? What evidence can you point me to?

The end result. Clearly Eve was naive as to what the Snake said and she wasn’t well-instructed enough to resist. That and God left them vulnerable in the garden. Oh, and of course, we have to establish that talking snakes embodying evil are good explanations of starvation in Africa…

False. I’m simply stating that I don’t believe in a God who is obligated to prevent all suffering. At some point, we have to take responsibility for ourselves.

My main question is why? God created us, as such, I think he has a responsibility to ensure our well being, moderate our disputes, etc. since it is well within his power. Not only that, but hell, let’s grant you the idea that we have to take responsibility for ourselves. I used to use that when I was a Christian, but here’s what bugged me: once we decide to start alleviating the pain and suffering of others, why doesn’t God grant us GREAT efficiency? That is, I decide to donate my time to educating children in Africa. I took responsibility. So why doesn’t God just make it so that my effort now miraculously teaches ALL the uneducated children in the world? Or why not the tomato I started growing in my backyard to feed the starving to multiply to meet all the world’s needs and never to go bad during the transportation? You know, ANYTHING to help our own efforts. Sounds silly, of course, but that’s only if we look at it from an Atheistic point of view. I also had some other criticisms for that response, but I can’t remember then atm and it’s getting late.

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Steven R. January 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Luke,
Then, on what empirical grounds does the atheist rest in their claim that failure to help starving children is evidence of God’s nonexistence? Surely you’re not just going to assert such because you feel it, right?  

1. If God is omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent, he’d want to rid the world of evil in the way that produces the most good.
2. Feelings of starvation in children cause unnecessary pain that contributes nothing to bettering their condition
3. The physical pain endured by the victim is wholly unnecessary and does nothing to aid or hinder other human’s aid of him, and thus, free will theodicy’s have no effect when it comes to physical pain
4. Therefore, if said God existed, such pointless pain would not exist

I would even argue that if God fed the children, he’d extend the time they had to employ their free will and thus, at least sometimes, God could help out (assuming Free Will Theodicy holds up, which I’m not convinced it does). God could also make it so that the starving boy can work the earth and miraculously things grow. This way, the boy helps himself. If, for whatever reason it creates good to put people at huge disadvantages, then shouldn’t we also be praising the dictators for allowing such atrocious conditions to thrive? Etc, etc, etc.

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orgostrich January 18, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Zeb,

But I do object to the way that person’s image is being used to score a rhetorical point and with a flippant tone. Here’s this kid who has been just about has trampled and forgotten as a person can be, and some middle class blogger dude in America is going to use his photo as an icon of wretchedness for a tool to mock his ideological inferiors.

This, along with the rest of the post, was a very, very good point. Thank you.

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 1:20 am

Luke,Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse? Or, do you just post them in a “thumbing your nose at the idea of God” gesture? Honestly. I’m not trying to bust your balls or anything, just trying to figure out what motivates you to post these sorts of things. Whether one is a believer or not, don’t you think the blame for that poor child’s plight falls on human shoulders? I do.  

cl,

I believe the point is not the appeal to emotion. I believe the point is that a God that answers trivial prayers is quite fundamentally absurd.
I have much more respect for theologies that include a god with little to no intervention. When people tell me they’re sure God provided them with whatever coincidence they happened to run into, I find it to be a good indication that they’re beyond reason. We know full well by now that such claims generally fall well within statistical predictability, in the cases where they are not exaggerated or just fabricated.

A metaphysical cosmic creator god… That’s not absurd. A metaphysical cosmic creator god that finds your car keys for you but won’t magically provide for the starving, is.
A lot of people will say “that’s not my theology”. I’m fine with that. But I think the majority of believers follow the second definition… And they need a wakeup call.

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Rick M January 19, 2011 at 4:32 am

Once again the Catholic Church can clear this up. According to the Catholic Forum:

The patron saint for lost keys is Saint Zita of Italy
The patron saint for athletes is Saint Sebastian – his feast day is tomorrow
The patron saint for starving people is Saint Anthony of Padua

Growing up in the Catholic Church, the nuns encouraged us to petition patron saints as needed, Jesus was too busy to address our mundane problems.

BTW, philosophers have 4 patron saints;
•Albert the Great
•Catherine of Alexandria
•Justin Martyr
•and of course, Thomas Aquinas

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Patrick January 19, 2011 at 7:28 am

cl wrote: “Very well said. By the way, exactly which OT story were you alluding to? I’ve got an idea, but, don’t want to assume.”

I don’t know exactly why you’re asking… its possible its a legitimate question, and its possible you’re playing a game that I don’t play anymore.

There are two possibilities.

1. You are aware of this aspect of the Bible, in which case you don’t need me to quote the various times it arises, and you have an agenda in asking for specific quotes.

2. You are not aware, and you should go read the Bible yourself because there’s nothing more obnoxious or shameful than simultaneously debating the Bible a Christian while you teach it to them.

I’ve done both, and I don’t care anymore.

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PDH January 19, 2011 at 7:44 am

Suppose a young man is sent to prison for shoplifting and anti-social behaviour. He gets into a few fights and eventually, after his release, gets a job working at the local shopping mall. He is rude to the customers and the rest of the staff. His old habits resurface but this time he is a bit more cunning with it and is able to get away with his thievery for some time. Nonetheless, the general consensus is that he is a deeply unpleasant individual.

Then one day he witnesses a woman being raped in an alleyway and chases off the attacker. Loathsome though he is he agrees to back up the woman’s story. Without his testimony it’s basically just her word against his so this would be a big help in successfully prosecuting this rapist.

But when he gets to the police station they say, ‘oh yeah? And how much money have you given to starving African children? None? Well then, clearly no crime has taken place because the person who brought it to our attention is not himself morally perfect.’

This, cl, is what I mean by ‘irrelevant.’ It’s irrelevant to what I’m discussing. Maybe you want to discuss something else. That’s fine. I’m talking about the problem of suffering and the moral imperfections of atheists have no bearing there.

You could prove that every atheist goes home each night, snaps the necks of ten babies and then drinks the blood and the problem of suffering would still remain. In fact, that would constitute further evidence of it.

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Michael January 19, 2011 at 7:53 am

cl,Well I see you are back, and you waste no time donning the dunce cap.This post is about Christians and how they think God is responsible for the most trivial and mundane things in their own lives, yet jump through hoops to let God off the hook when it comes to things that really matter. Now go sit in the corner.  

I would have to say that the car key thing is in fact one of these trivialities that should not really be attributed to God. We actually had an interesting lesson the other day at church somewhat along these lies as we talk about miracles, and how sometimes the word is thrown around to flippantly. Like when a child it is born, “It’s a miracle!” Or in this case, I found my car keys… Certainly that isn’t a miracle in the same way as a man rising from the dead, being paralyzed and being able to walk, healing leprosy, etc.(Whether they happened or not is not the question though, but certainly we could consider these to be miraculous if they did happen).

However, the Tebow picture seems different to me. I’ve been an athlete for as long as I can remember. Baseball, lacrosse, soccer, basketball… its more of a “thank you for the gifts and abilities to play at this level and be on this stage and to have fun doing this.” Or mo so in a professionals case, “thank you for the opportunity to play sport for money and have this platform to share my love for you, Lord.”

In the grand scheme of this post, I understand that it fails to answer the third picture. But I am sure you have all heard it before, but the Christian concept of the meaning of life or of happiness has nothing to do with health, well-being physically or emotionally or financially, but with your relationship with God. Seems like hand-waving, and maybe it is. But if that situation brings someone to Him because a missionary goes to that land to help them, or sends aid, like a Matthew 25 Ministries, that could have an impact on their knowledge of the gospel.

Something else to mention as somewhat of an aside. It is partially our responsibility to help others, and if God didn’t allow people to ever be in need, who would we have to help? Surely helping others and what we feel and learn from those experiences are beneficial to both parties, whereas if God rained down manna and cured all diseases, only one party is being helped. There would be no Mother Teresa’s, no doctors, and that, to me, seems like something that allows humans to help each other out, promoting community and graciousness. Even on an atheist view, this is a good thing, viz., opportunities to help out the less fortunate and the bonds that are formed in doing so.

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episteme January 19, 2011 at 8:57 am

Now this is what I would like to see on billboards and the side of buses.

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nonchai January 19, 2011 at 8:59 am

What a sick and depraved thing to suggest. This is one of the worst and despicable of the theodicies offered by the xtian apologist. So a child with 100 degree burns and who will suffer facial disfigurement for the rest of their life is just a vehicle for others to be able to practice their kindness ?.

I think theres a matter of degree here. For starters if your Sky Daddy had limited these “so well thought out” opportunities for human kindness to just those situations in which a human had WILLINGLY put themselves into harms way – for example on an expedition, a car racing game, or hiking trip then a mishpa leading to opportunities for kindness could be acceptable. But in situations where the event or circumstance was entirely NOT of the victims making – such as being born to a remote tribe where due to some natural cataclysm or drought – the whole tribe suffers famine and dies – well “praise the lord” for allowing the starving tribe to have the opportunity to show kindness by diverting the majority of its scarce food remains to women and children, before the whole tribe slowly and painfuly dies of hunger.

It depends on whether the person “in need” has a chance of being helped sufficiently by a fellow human to remove the need or affliction entirely.

You’re also ignoring or ignorant of all the natural calamities and afflictions that some humans suffer – EVEN if receiving the kindness of their fellow humans.

Take a person born with severe facial disfiguration – who for the rest of their lives has to endure stares and who has far less chances of finding a suitable partner.

The simple fact is that famines and disease have been around for a very long time, and the further we go back in time, the less chance there will have been for any slightly better off group of people to be able to offer any assistance AT ALL. Go back far enough in time and there are NO communication channels across the waters at all, and any on the same landmass would require days if not months or years for information to spread.

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nonchai January 19, 2011 at 9:47 am

Just to add – my last post was directed at Michaels comment regarding ” if God didn’t allow people to ever be in need, who would we have to help? “

This shows the typical utter lack of imagination by xtians.

Imagine a world where there was no famine or debilitating incurable disease, mass genocide or rape. Even in such a world there would Still be plenty of opportunity for humans to make each other HAPPIER. Humans have the ability to make others laugh, be rapt with delight, enjoy hospitality, be entertained, and give gifts to each other totally irrespective of cases of suffering.

A person on minimum wage does not need to be suffering at all for him/her to benefit from an act of kindness from another.

One could also conceive of a world where a COMPASSIONATE sky daddy, allowed a certain amount of suffering for any given victim, but where after all opportunity has been exhausted for humans to help the victim – the final act of the sky daddy would be to totally remove the cause of suffering.

At least in such a world the victim would have the hope of knowing that the period of pain/hunger etc will only ever be temporary WHILE ALIVE. This is contrary to the imaginary sky daddy world we find ourselves in, where the victims often find themselves in situations of total desperation – one with no hope – apart from death.

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Tommykey January 19, 2011 at 9:55 am

as regards the starving African children, how many dollars and/or hours of work have each of you put into helping them?

Okay, I’ll answer the question. While I don’t have a precise total, I have probably donated roughly $2,000 in recent years, split up among groups like OxFam, Doctors Without Borders, and others.

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

@ Michael

In the grand scheme of this post, I understand that it fails to answer the third picture. But I am sure you have all heard it before, but the Christian concept of the meaning of life or of happiness has nothing to do with health, well-being physically or emotionally or financially, but with your relationship with God.

So if wealth, well-being, etc. don’t really matter, why did God create and/or allow poverty, sickness, etc.? If in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but it DOES cause unnecessary suffering, then shouldn’t God at least provide basic things for everyone? After all, if it doesn’t matter, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

Seems like hand-waving, and maybe it is. But if that situation brings someone to Him because a missionary goes to that land to help them, or sends aid, like a Matthew 25 Ministries, that could have an impact on their knowledge of the gospel.

If getting the Gospels across is the most important thing, then why doesn’t God just make it so that everyone automatically has knowledge of them? Isn’t that much more effective than a baby starving who happens to live in a geographically secluded village that no missionary can get to?

Something else to mention as somewhat of an aside. It is partially our responsibility to help others, and if God didn’t allow people to ever be in need, who would we have to help?

We could spend time creating art, music and conversing with each other rather than frantically growing food to end starvation. Use your imagination.

Surely helping others and what we feel and learn from those experiences are beneficial to both parties, whereas if God rained down manna and cured all diseases, only one party is being helped. There would be no Mother Teresa’s, no doctors, and that, to me, seems like something that allows humans to help each other out, promoting community and graciousness. Even on an atheist view, this is a good thing, viz., opportunities to help out the less fortunate and the bonds that are formed in doing so.  

No, it would mean we would have a much happier, tight-knit community because we would have more time to spend with each other, only know happiness and love, etc. Nonchai’s criticisms are also extremely relevant. I don’t see the problem with not having doctors because they’re now pointless.

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Tommykey January 19, 2011 at 10:11 am

Then, on what empirical grounds does the atheist rest in their claim that failure to help starving children is evidence of God’s nonexistence?

As an atheist, I make no such claim. I didn’t read all of the comments, so I apologize in advance if I am rehashing what has already been discussed, but I see the picture as more of a mockery of theists who labor under the belief that God is helping them find their car keys or for the negative STD test when the beneficial outcomes they receive do not require the intervention of a deity. It’s more a case of “If you really think God prevented you from getting an STD when you made the mistake of having sex with a prostitute, then why do you think that God didn’t keep that poor child from starving?”

I agree that the welfare of others is our responsibility. As I wrote in another thread though, in order for us collectively to wipe out suffering and injustice everywhere, we would in effect have to become like what people imagine God to be like, all knowing and all powerful. We would basically have to set up a surveillance society so that everyone’s situation is constantly monitored, and the moment an incident of suffering is seen, a rapid response team in place will be sent to the scene.

Given that there are nearly 7 billion of us, that would require a lot of f–king cameras and a lot of rapid response teams with the supplies and equipment available to them to carry out their tasks.

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nonchai January 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

Heres another scenario, one which involves no physical pain, and occurs across all groups of people:

Many couples who long for children are unable to have them. Heres a situation where both parties are clearly PRO-LIFE. They are eagerly awaiting one. Yet in so many such situations the woman ha to endure one miscarriage after another.

If cl and other imaginary sky daddy apoligists are to be believed, the reason for this is not simply the atheist one – namely – “shit happens” but:

a) Your inability to have children and repeated anguish caused by a cycle of desperate hope followed by the sadness of yet another a still born baby is so that others can show their kindness by – what ? offering sympathy ? a shoulder to cry on ?

b) the woman gave birth to dead children because one person 6000 years ago decided to disobey a command from the sky daddy. And [ INSERT SOME MYSTERIOUS MECHANISM BY WHICH EVERY SUBSEQUENT MEMBER OF HUMANITY INHERITED SOME WOO WOO EVIL "THING" CALLED SIN - WHICH SKYDADDY GOT SO ANGRY ABOUT HE HAD TO CURSE THE REST OF THE WORLD AND MANKIND - EFFECTIVELY "UPSETTING THE APPLECART ON A COSMIC SCALE" ] thus all humanity had to suffer as a consequence.

Of course the definition of “SIN” needs some clarification – is sin some kind of spiritual entity – some sort of disease ? where is the scriptural or philosophical justification for this ?

Or if in fact “sin is just an act of disobedience against the skydaddy, please explain why an act by one person is a morally justifiable defence for skydaddy having a giant hissy fit and taking it out on the world and humanity ?

“Its cos God is HOLY” i’ll of course hear being uttered endlessly by xtians. However I’m yet to see a clear logical link ever between a skydaddy being “holy” which if memory serves me correctly just means “seperate” – and an overreaching curse upon mankind , along with calamity upon calamity.

And if SIN is some sort of spiritual “disease” then doctor skydaddy mush have some magic spiritual “pill” ro cure he can offer to eradicate this. Sans crucifiction naturally. No need for magic skydaddy to kill himself so he can take out his own hate of mans disobedience upon himself. He is after all able to do anything as long as it doesnt break rules of logic……if one is to believe xtian theologians and theistic philosophers… apparently….

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Henry January 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

“Thank you, Jesus” reminds me of a Facebook conversation with an evangelical friend. He was sick and posted, “Thank God for antibiotics.” I made a smart ass comment on his post, “I think you are better off thanking Alexander Fleming.” He replied that Fleming had to have been inspired by God, so God was the one to truly thank for penicillin. I asked why he would assume that just because he thinks antibiotics are good that God would think so too. It is a theological error to attribute human values to God. I also pointed out that the Christian answer to the “problem of evil” suggests that it is much more likely that God would prefer that my friend should suffer, and that antibiotics are therefore evil. Many Bible quotes and much Christian paranoia later, we agreed to disagree.

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nonchai January 19, 2011 at 10:38 am

Well put Tommykey.

But Lukes picture does serve as more than an just indictment on happy clappy xtians, namely to remind
apologists of the problem of suffering.

See heres the problem with theophanies and “defences” ala sceptical theism – as far as i see it in a nutshell:

Think about the kind of world one would EXPECT TO SEE, based

a) on atheism being true,
b) theism being true.

With regard to suffering – a) predicts exactly what we see. shit happens. Some people are lucky, others are not. We do NOT expect to see a world where nothing bad ever happens, nobody gets raped, burned alive or has miscarriages. No. Atheism predicts ( morally speaking ) exactly what we see in the world. The concept of other “possible atheist worlds” simply wouldn’t occur. Shit happens. Luck prevails. Thats why some people suffer and others dont.

Now look at the b) theist worlds. Sceptical theism and apologists basically rig the argument so that we are NEVER to expect ANY particular world to be most likely due to a good deity. Sure its possible that god could create a perfect place, but thats just one of numerous “possible worlds” INCLUDING THIS ONE. And we’re as “ants” to the sky daddy – so who are we to even dare to suggest that a “good” god” wouldnt make this one. Theism neither predicts a world like this one, or in fact any other. In fact this “shit happens” world in the theistic apologists mind is sometimes discussed as the “best of all possible worlds” – as Mr Loftus would say – SHEEESH!.

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Henry January 19, 2011 at 10:43 am

There are many excellent religious charities that do their work quietly and (for the most part) do not push their religion, but really most of the money and effort to fight hunger comes from secular sources (both explicit like Oxfam or in practice like the Red Cross). We have an impression that evangelical religious groups do so much because they spend a good part of the money they raise on public relations videos and proselytizing.

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nonchai January 19, 2011 at 10:48 am

@mashmouth: re

Simple:

“I am very sorry but you were extremely unlucky to be present/born in the wrong place at the wrong time, and/or with the wrong body. NONE OF WHICH WAS YOUR FAULT “.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 10:58 am

Ok – Luke is officially an idiot.

These pics are great for shock value, but starvation is not really a painful way to go. That’s why you never see these kids screaming/crying. Dehydration/fasting to death is actually chosen by alot of people who no longer want to live. There have been several studies on this. Some health professionals actually recommend dehydration as a method of facilitating a comfortable death.

Fat Americans who go into a rage if they don’t have McDonalds every 3 hours are probably horrified by pictures like this. Sad that atheists use stuff like this, without context or first-hand experience of food/water deprivation, to argue against God. These people are probably in alot more comfort than people who die a slow death from cancer from all of the man-made toxins they’ve ingested throughout their life, and the horrendous chemotherapy they’ve undergone to prolong it.

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 11:04 am

Alex,

Ok – Luke is officially an idiot.These pics are great for shock value, but starvation is not really a painful way to go. That’s why you never see these kids screaming/crying. Dehydration/fasting to death is actually chosen by alot of people who no longer want to live.There have been several studies on this. Some health professionals actually recommend dehydration as a method of facilitating a comfortable death.
Fat Americans who go into a rage if they don’t have McDonalds every 3 hours are probably horrified by pictures like this. Sad that atheists use stuff like this, without context or first-hand experience of food/water deprivation, to argue against God. These people are probably in alot more comfort than people who die a slow death from cancer from all of the man-made toxins they’ve ingested throughout their life, and the horrendous chemotherapy they’ve undergone to prolong it.  

Please read my first response in that thread, or TommyKeys’ more recent comment, as he makes a similar point.
The level of suffering of the portrayed people is not relevant. What is analogous is that all three needed help for a problem they have, or rather toward a state they desire to be in (to have the car keys on time; to win the game of football; to be fed).

As an aside, name-calling is a DH0 level of disagreement and as such fulfills no real purpose here.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:11 am

Luke – some people need to die, even from a secular perspective. Assuming that you know a person’s needs is the problem. From a theistic perspective, the death of a child and entrance into bliss, is problematic how?

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 11:15 am

Luke – some people need to die, even from a secular perspective. Assuming that you know a person’s needs is the problem. From a theistic perspective, the death of a child and entrance into bliss, is problematic how?  (Quote)

1. Why do people need to die again? Couldn’t god make the earth expand to fit our increasing population? I mean really, there are so many things such a God can supposedly do….

2. Again, if this life is pointless, then why not provide comfort to everyone? It’s not like if it matters at the end, right?

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IdontBeleeeveIt January 19, 2011 at 11:16 am

@ Alex: “starvation is not really a painful way to go. That’s why you never see these kids screaming/crying. ”

Was this some attempt at a joke ? Are you frickin serious ? Which version of reality have you been living in ? You don’t come from Alaska do you by any chance ?

If there was ever a justification for name calling – your post would be it. But i shall refrain.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

WOW. “Starvation is not really a painful way to go.” Alex has got to be a Poe.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:20 am

Steven R.: 1. Why do people need to die again?

Alex: Since we’re loosley interpreting needs in terms of strong wants here, death is a more desirable state of affairs for some – like winning the football game, or finding the car keys. Neither of the latter are strict necessities either.

Steven R: Couldn’t god make the earth expand to fit our increasing population? I mean really, there are so many things such a God can supposedly do….

Alex: But since he didn’t do some of the ones *you* thought of, and ushers those poor little toddlers down a love tunnel into the light of heavenly bliss, God sucks!

Steven R: 2. Again, if this life is pointless, then why not provide comfort to everyone? It’s not like if it matters at the end, right? Steven R.(Quote)

Alex: Not sure how we got from “death is better for some” to “this life is pointless.” Also not sure how sending a starving boy to heaven is not providing comfort.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:24 am

Luke – do a little research before you give us the BIG “WOW”. Drowning isn’t painful either. Your lungs fill with water and you lose consciousness. Ever fasted for long periods of time? You don’t experience hunger after about 2 days. Sounds like you need to cleanse your colon in a manner besides poo-pooing theism.

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 11:24 am

Steven R.: 1. Why do people need to die again? Alex: Since we’re loosley interpreting needs in terms of strong wants here, death is a more desirable state of affairs for some – like winning the football game, or finding the car keys. Neither of the latter are strict necessities either.Steven R: Couldn’t god make the earth expand to fit our increasing population? I mean really, there are so many things such a God can supposedly do….Alex: But since he didn’t do some of the ones *you* thought of, and ushers those poor little toddlers down a love tunnel into the light of heavenly bliss, God sucks!Steven R: 2. Again, if this life is pointless, then why not provide comfort to everyone? It’s not like if it matters at the end, right? Steven R.(Quote)Alex: Not sure how we got from “death is better for some” to “this life is pointless.” Also not sure how sending a starving boy to heaven is not providing comfort.  (Quote)

Well done, Mr. Troll.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:26 am

Atheists do lots of research n’ stuff. But sometimes, ya ain’t gotta think so darn much and ya can just find a picture of a starvin’ baby and then ya know – ya gots them theists in a rut!

“But many of the doctors and nurses who witness the consequences of removing such treatment from patients say withholding nourishment is a common _ and largely painless _ way of letting nature take its course for ill patients. They say many people near death actually choose to have their feeding tubes removed, which typically leads to a calm, peaceful death within weeks.”

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-130616486.html

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

Alex,

There is no argument here to the impossibility of god. And your explanations could well be compatible with this deity’s existence. But why one would worship a deity that helps you find your car keys but lets you starve to death is beyond me.

If you would like to suggest that we should attempt to oppose such a deity, or better yet petition it for an explanation we can actually comprehend, I could get onboard. Assuming such a deity’s existence seemed at all likely, that is. But if you think such excuses work for a deity worthy of worship, then I disagree on the most drastic manner.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:29 am

After 24 hours without any food, “the body goes into a different mode and you’re not hungry anymore,” he said. “Total starvation is not painful or uncomfortable at all. When we were hunting rabbits millions of years ago, we had to have a back-up mode because we didn’t always get a rabbit. You can’t go hunting if you’re hungry.”

After a few days without food, chemicals known as ketones build up in the blood. These chemicals cause a mild euphoria that serves as a natural anesthetic.

The weakening brain releases a surge of feel-good hormones called endorphins.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:32 am

“More Patients Choose Starvation than Assisted Suicide”

“…according to the study, which is published in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Voluntary refusal of food and fluids occurs often enough that it must become part of our dialogue on end-of-life issues facing care providers, terminally ill patients and their families,” said Dr. Linda Ganzini, director of the Palliative Care Fellowship at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and professor of psychiatry in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine.

The nurses reported that patients in hospice care who stopped eating and drinking were elderly, no longer found meaning in living, and 85 percent died a “good” death within 15 days after stopping food and fluids.

“We were surprised that patients who chose this means to hasten death were, according to their nurses, more peaceful and suffered less in the last two weeks before death than patients who choose assisted suicide,” Ganzini said.”

http://www.wftv.com/health/2355264/detail.html

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 11:33 am

After 24 hours without any food, “the body goes into a different mode and you’re not hungry anymore,” he said. “Total starvation is not painful or uncomfortable at all. When we were hunting rabbits millions of years ago, we had to have a back-up mode because we didn’t always get a rabbit. You can’t go hunting if you’re hungry.”After a few days without food, chemicals known as ketones build up in the blood. These chemicals cause a mild euphoria that serves as a natural anesthetic.The weakening brain releases a surge of feel-good hormones called endorphins.  (Quote)

Alright Alex. Go get a razor and cut yourself because that also releases endorphins. But yeah, I lol’ed at “Sounds like you need to cleanse your colon in a manner besides poo-pooing theism.”

coolface.jpg

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:33 am

“The idea to stop eating and drinking was not coming from the physicians,” Ganzini said. “In fact, physicians worried about the choice and were surprised when patients had a very peaceful death and didn’t suffer from hunger and thirst.”

http://www.wftv.com/health/2355264/detail.html

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Polymeron January 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

Alex,

Just what part of “this is irrelevant” did you not understand?

Please stop spamming. Either engage in discourse or go someplace else.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

“The process of starving to death seems very barbaric but in actuality is very peaceful,” said Dr. Fred Mirarchi, assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.

“The patient’s experience is really pretty benign,” said Dr. Joanne Lynn, a hospice physician associated with Americans for Better Care of the Dying, a group working for improved end-of-life care. “Overwhelmingly, what will happen is nothing.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Schiavo/story?id=531907&page=1

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:40 am

“During ketosis, the body begins to use fat and muscle as a fuel source.
In advanced cases of ketosis, the nervous system response is dulled, and patients rarely feel pain, hunger or thirst. There is also some evidence that ketosis can produce a state of well-being or mild euphoria.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Schiavo/story?id=531907&page=2

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 11:42 am

Oh – don’t be sour, folks. Just thought I’d share a different point of view. I’m going to grab some lunch (Thank you, Jesus!). I’m starving.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Idontbeleevit: Was this some attempt at a joke ? Are you frickin serious ?

Alex: Believe it, son. Pick up a book or do a prolonged fast and learn it by experience. Granted that you’re probably pretty darn excited about the McRib being back, but if you can get over your fatty food addiction, you’ll be in a more serene state of mind without food. Hence, prolonged fasting, among other forms of sensory deprivation, has been a method of acheiving mystical and often euphoric altered states of consciousness throughout human history.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Polymoron writes: There is no argument here to the impossibility of god. And your explanations could well be compatible with this deity’s existence. But why one would worship a deity that helps you find your car keys but lets you starve to death is beyond me.

Alex: Right, cuz these two things are there is to consider concerning the existence of God. He lets the Asian lady find her car keys and the poor African baby starves! He’s obviously a racist! Who would worship that?!!! If Luke could make a giant banner out of this picture, and maybe fly it around up in the sky off the tail of a plane, maybe we could deconvert some of those angels, and have a real revolution on our hands here. Let’s reallly use our noggins and stop thinking on such a small scale…

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PDH January 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Wow. This discussion went from bad to…Alex.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm

PDH – I know, right? I had such high expectations for rational discourse on a thread that started off with the exploitation of starving children for the sake of mocking God.

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Rob January 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

With or without religion we would have bad people doing bad things. But for people to look evil in the face and call it good, that takes Christianity, as Alex demonstrates.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Right, because the fact that I point out that starvation is actually a preferred method of dying on the part of the soon-to-be deceased, quote doctors to that effect, and discuss the physiological basis for this, must mean I think starving to death is a good thing. Sorry for giving you some perspective on starvation.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm

PDH nailed it.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Luke – instead of cheerleading for your atheist team, why not deal with the issues? I realize that you’re pissed that I’ve blunted the force of your shock pics.

You were shocked yourself by my statement: “Starvation is not really a painful way to go.”

Now that I’ve quoted several doctors, hospice workers, and nurses to the same effect, do you want to confess that your shock, and the shock you seek to arouse in others, is based on ignorance of the matter?

Maybe the team can put aside their atheism for a moment and try a little honesty. C’mon bud. Atheists can be humble too. Its ok if you didn’t know something. You don’t really need those pics. Sure, they make you feel good for a moment, but you knew it was wrong, deep down, didn’t ya? Just didn’t feel right exploiting those kids to mock God, did it?

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Patrick January 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm

For what its worth, I’ve read about the “death by starvation” thing before, and it seems pretty clear in the literature that the perceived desirability of death by starvation is increased by two factors- first, that its the only legal way to terminate your own life, and second, by the fact that doctors will medicate you while you die.

Not that Alex really deserves to be taken seriously, but whatever, context is fun.

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Rob January 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Alex,

Is it your contention that folks involuntarily starving do not suffer?

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Patrick – any number of factors can increase the desirability – some feel life has lost its meaning, some feel life has simply been lived to the full and are ready to go; they choose to go in that manner because it is a peaceful way to go. The point is that they do not suffer some horrifying/agonizing experience of extreme hunger/thirst *because* of the nature of starvation and how the body responds. I’ve provided plenty of info. and resources. All the info. is there. Luke was ignorant of this, as he’s shown by reacting with shock to my original statement. If Luke wants to continue his “argument from scary pictures”, maybe he can find a picture of a person being tortured to death?

Rob – I have never said that nor would I. My daughter suffers when she can’t have chocolate breakfast cereal. Suffering, in this instance though, is not due to some heightened physical pain. Of course there is suffering just in the mere fact of impoverished living, a shortened lifespan, etc. None of these are desirable states of affairs.

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Jugglable January 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Luke:

“But I’m not making an argument in this post. It’s a different kind of discourse.”

What kind exactly and why does the emotional aspect have a place in this kind of discourse as you said?

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Kyle Key January 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm

As usual, the Christian response to the evidential problem of suffering is Jugglable’s seat-squirming and Alex’s subject-changing. Good work, fellows!
Though I understand why…if I were in your shoes, I certainly wouldn’t try to reconcile the existence of a being that thinks humans are the bee’s knees and could stop all pain and suffering with less effort than an eye-blink, with the fact that it apparently prefers to just nervously shakes its tight-lipped head “no.” It’s a lot easier just to ignore it. And keep losing fellow theists because of it.

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Rob January 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Not speaking for Luke of course, but the macro is an argument.

By observing Christians, we learn that they think Jesus is intimately involved in the minute day-to-day details of their lives. But we also observe horrendous undeserved suffering in the world. Why would Jesus help you find your car keys, and not end the suffering of a child?

At the very least, the Christian ought to feel some tension. A sense of disproportion. A sense that if God really is there, he could be doing better.

I know many Christian who readily acknowledge this tension, and struggle with it daily. Alas, we find no such Christians here. Only apologists, dutifully flogging the party line.

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Tommykey January 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm

“Total starvation is not painful or uncomfortable at all. When we were hunting rabbits millions of years ago, we had to have a back-up mode because we didn’t always get a rabbit. You can’t go hunting if you’re hungry.”

Except for when I’h hungry. I get really bad headaches, and sometimes I even vomit.

Dehydration/fasting to death is actually chosen by alot of people who no longer want to live. There have been several studies on this. Some health professionals actually recommend dehydration as a method of facilitating a comfortable death.

Yes, I remember this during the Terri Schiavo episode. Only all the Bible thumpers were crying about what a cruel thing it was at the time.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Kyle writes: As usual, the Christian response to the evidential problem of suffering is Jugglable’s seat-squirming and Alex’s subject-changing. Good work, fellows!
Though I understand why…if I were in your shoes, I certainly wouldn’t try to reconcile the existence of a being that thinks humans are the bee’s knees and could stop all pain and suffering with less effort than an eye-blink, with the fact that it apparently prefers to just nervously shakes its tight-lipped head “no.” It’s a lot easier just to ignore it. And keep losing fellow theists because of it.

Alex: I’m not sure how I changed the subject. I don’t see any need to really reconcile anything. I don’t beleive in a God that said life would be without suffering. I believe in a God who thought suffering worthy of entering into Himself.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Tommy: Except for when I’h hungry. I get really bad headaches, and sometimes I even vomit.

Alex: Except that wouldn’t be “total starvation”. Do a strict fast for a 48 hrs and tell me how hungry you are on the 3rd day.

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Steven R. January 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Guys, guys, Alex is a troll. You ignore his posts and watch him starve–and quite appropriate given the nature of his trolling.

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woodchuck64 January 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Jugglable,

Luke:

“But I’m not making an argument in this post. It’s a different kind of discourse.”

What kind exactly and why does the emotional aspect have a place in this kind of discourse as you said?

If you’re a theist and you have some ambivalence about solutions to the problem of evil, this image reminds you that this isn’t some esoteric or academic point; you should really make up your mind.

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orgostrich January 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Alex,
What about the mother watching her child starve to death? Is she suffering enough to make this argument valid?

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Steven R –

I’m really not a troll. I mocked a bit on this thread, because that is the spirit of the thread. If you engage me rationally, I’m sure you’ll find that I’m a fairly reasonable guy. If you’re threatened by me, the easy route is to label me, and designate me unfit for discussion. I suggest you try to engage me instead; it’ll be more challenging and more rewarding.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm

orgo –

I don’t think we should usel terms like “valid”, which have a very specific technical meaning within logic/philosophy, to describe arguments apparently implicit within a picture that some guy found on the web. Luke’s implicit argument was obviously based on some false premises.

Spell the argument that *you* are making, and I would be glad to tell you what I honestly think of it. The problem I see with alot of arguments about specific instances of evil, is that they aren’t specific enough. If you ask me about this child’s mother, I’ll want to know if she even exists, who she is, what she thinks specifically, how culpable she is for the child’s condition, etc. Without that information, I can’t answer the question. If you’re making an argument based on a purely hypothetical maximally empathetic African Madonna, then your argument has no real-world implications for theism. And that’s really what inductive arguments based on specific instances of allegedly gratuitous evil boil down to – epistemic limitations.

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Paul January 19, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Luke,Do you think these appeals to emotion have a place in legitimate discourse? Or, do you just post them in a “thumbing your nose at the idea of God” gesture? Honestly. I’m not trying to bust your balls or anything, just trying to figure out what motivates you to post these sorts of things. Whether one is a believer or not, don’t you think the blame for that poor child’s plight falls on human shoulders? I do.  

Forgive me if my ideas have been stated or addressed by someone prior, I haven’t read the whole thread.

Cl’s post is predicated on the mutual exclusion of God’s and humanity’s responsibility, which mutual exclusion cannot be proved. Both God and humanity could prevent this evil. Humanity’s complicity is well established; what atheists speak about is God’s complicity, which humanity’s complicity cannot erase. God’s complicity argues against his existence, regardless of whether humanity is responsible.

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Silver Bullet January 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm

It’s one thing to starve at the end of a terminal illness with IV fluids and pain control and narcotics, and quite another to suffer chronic malnutrition. From Wikipedia:

“Individuals experiencing starvation lose substantial fat (adipose) and muscle mass as the body breaks down these tissues for energy. Catabolysis is the process of a body breaking down its own muscles and other tissues in order to keep vital systems such as the nervous system and heart muscle (myocardium) functioning. Vitamin deficiency is a common result of starvation, often leading to anemia, beriberi, pellagra, and scurvy. These diseases collectively can also cause diarrhea, skin rashes, edema, and heart failure. Individuals are often irritable and lethargic as a result…All movements become painful due to muscle atrophy and dry, cracked skin that is caused by severe dehydration. With a weakened body, diseases are commonplace. Fungi, for example, often grow under the esophagus, making swallowing unbearably painful…The energy deficiency inherent in starvation causes fatigue and renders the victim more apathetic over time. As the starving person becomes too weak to move or even eat, his or her interaction with the surrounding world diminishes…There is also an inability to fight diseases, and in females, irregular menstruation can occur.”

Malnutrition is horrible, and there can be no doubt that many if not all children who suffer it really do suffer horribly, and unnecessarily.

Do you take your head out of your ass and celebrate, Alex, every 5 seconds, when a child dies of starvation and “enters bliss”?

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Luke Muehlhauser January 19, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Jugglable,

I’ve repeated myself many times on this point.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm

I don’t know why I occasionally read cl’s posts. But I definitely will not be reading Alex anymore. Just giving notice.

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Alex January 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Silver Bullet’s comments are VERY revealing. He went to Wikipipedia on starvation. Firstly, I gave MUCH better sources than Wiki, which neither he, nor anyone else, has responded to. Let’s observe his redactional tendencies and see his deep dishonesty. Notice where he snips and gives us the “…”. Here is the pertinent information he cuts out:

“Atrophy (wasting away) of the stomach weakens the perception of hunger, since the perception is controlled by the percentage of the stomach that is empty. Victims of starvation are often too weak to sense thirst, and therefore become dehydrated.”

So here we have diminished perception fo hunger and thirst (the very ISSUES at hand, which I have been arguing for, citing better sources), that Silver Bullet conveniently removed from his quote. Why did he remove those? Well, because he is a dishonest person who wants to win an argument. Very sad…Atheistic ethics at work here?

Then after he lies, he launches into a self-righteous condemnation of me, by using my words out of context.

Tsk tsk tsk….

Luke – you don’t have to read my posts. I’m not here to interact with you. I’m here to inform people on matters they might be ignorant on, so you don’t dupe them.

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Silver Bullet January 19, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Alex,

If I were trying to dishonestly make a case for how horrible starvation is by misquoting a source, I wouldn’t (a) cite the source and (b) note where source material was omitted (…).

Feel free to continue to focus on hunger and thirst if you feel that doing so helps cast a more favourable light upon the god that you believe in , but please do so with the full appreciation that chronic malnutrition affects every organ system, and contributes to human suffering in innumerable ways that no child should ever endure.

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mopey January 19, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Alex wrote
So here we have diminished perception fo hunger and thirst (the very ISSUES at hand, which I have been arguing for, citing better sources)

Even if it is granted, for the sake of argument, that wasting away via lack of food/fluid results in absolutely no discomfort related to sensations of hunger or thirst, it seems that there are still a plethora of other sensations that would qualify as some degree of suffering. The muscle atrophy and cracked skin, for example.

Unlike someone who may choose to discontinue food/fluid to end their life in the wonderfully comfortable and peaceful fashion that you describe, children like the one here may be trying to stay alive. So, instead of the complete withdrawal of ALL food/fluid, the child may be getting minimal food/fluid for an extended duration.

Perhaps you would grant that prolonged periods of minimal food/fluid (with corresponding malnutrition) would cause at least slightly more suffering than the complete withdrawal of all intake – such that the bliss of starvation and death that you describe wouldn’t be so soon coming.

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Larkus January 20, 2011 at 5:18 am

Alex wrote:

I’m really not a troll.

Of course.

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Reginald Selkirk January 20, 2011 at 9:30 am

Alex: “During ketosis, the body begins to use fat and muscle as a fuel source.
In advanced cases of ketosis, the nervous system response is dulled, and patients rarely feel pain, hunger or thirst. There is also some evidence that ketosis can produce a state of well-being or mild euphoria.”

Ketosis – good point, Alex. During ketosis, the starving person smells bad, thus causing suffering in nearby people as well.

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Alex January 20, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Silver Bullet writes: If I were trying to dishonestly make a case for how horrible starvation is by misquoting a source, I wouldn’t (a) cite the source and (b) note where source material was omitted (…).

Alex: You would though because you pretty much HAVE TO cite the source nowadays. I can google the words (and would) find the source myself in a matter of seconds. Secondly, you pretty much have to use the “…”‘s because if you don’t, you are *obviously* doctoring the quote. Do you expect anyone to believe that you snipped out the only aspect of that Wiki entry that was relevant to what I’m arguing, by *accident*? And then picked up again with the quote, right after it ends? Again, its ok man. Own it. We all deceive occasionally. Admit what you did. I promise not to grill you for it. But to sit here and deny further; really, it just makes you look completely unreasonable.

Silver Bullet: Feel free to continue to focus on hunger and thirst if you feel that doing so helps cast a more favourable light upon the god that you believe in , but please do so with the full appreciation that chronic malnutrition affects every organ system, and contributes to human suffering in innumerable ways that no child should ever endure

Alex: I don’t deny any of those things. I actually own a company that contributes 20% of our gross proceeds to aid for the impoverished. And I didn’t post what I did out of an attempt to defend anything. I don’t feel the need to defend God on the matter at all actually. I just realize that people are generally uninformed when it comes to the specifics of this kind of suffering, and this was obviously the case, as is evidenced by the shock (particularly from Luke) at what I said.

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Alex January 20, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Mopey wrote:
Even if it is granted, for the sake of argument, that wasting away via lack of food/fluid results in absolutely no discomfort related to sensations of hunger or thirst, it seems that there are still a plethora of other sensations that would qualify as some degree of suffering. The muscle atrophy and cracked skin, for example.

Alex: Like most pain, this is actually the body signalling something important to the person – e.g. that it is time to stop moving, which they ought to do, as they have no source of energy. If you’d like God to remove this warning system from humankind as a whole, we’d see alot of surprise fatalities.

Mopey:
Unlike someone who may choose to discontinue food/fluid to end their life in the wonderfully comfortable and peaceful fashion that you describe, children like the one here may be trying to stay alive. So, instead of the complete withdrawal of ALL food/fluid, the child may be getting minimal food/fluid for an extended duration.

Perhaps you would grant that prolonged periods of minimal food/fluid (with corresponding malnutrition) would cause at least slightly more suffering than the complete withdrawal of all intake – such that the bliss of starvation and death that you describe wouldn’t be so soon coming.

Alex: Never said starvation was bliss. I said, on Christian theism, heaven is bliss. But yes, I would grant what you say. The danger is in taking our own experience of extreme hunger and thirst, when the body is deprived for a relatively *short* time, after a normal diet, and extrapolating and even intensifying that sujective experience, and projecting it onto others. Life forms have been running out of resources and dying as a result for billions of years. It is one of many forms of finitude that we experience, and yes, the body is equipped to deal with it and many other forms of death in ways that are surprising to the average individual. It is sad and we should do what we can to stop it, but is not some unnatural horrifying process of torture that we can really grasp from our own experience. In some cases, it simply has to happen. In many cases, it benefits a species as a whole for it to happen. Again, that does not, and should not stop us from preventing it. In the case of humans, I would say starvation is overwhelmingly preventable. We have enough food on the planet. Systemic selfishness would be at the top of the list of causes from my standpoint.

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Conor Gilliland January 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm

meanwhile, he’s actually starving so go feed him.

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Conor Gilliland January 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm

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Luke Muehlhauser January 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Conor,

Interestingly, Compassion International gets a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, but doesn’t even pass the heuristics for evaluation at Give Well.

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Alex January 20, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Conor – Luke is great with internet research (which I doubt will secure him the academic fame he desires), so he’ll evaluage your web-links and all that, but I doubt his desirism has motivated him to actually help anyone, let alone the starving child he exploited to mock God.

Alex

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Conor Gilliland January 20, 2011 at 9:43 pm

That’s interesting, because Give Well spends all its time critiquing people who help and ends up helping no one. Way to find another reason not to help. Incidentally, Give Well doesn’t pass Compassion’s heuristic for being an evaluative institution.

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Zeb January 20, 2011 at 11:09 pm

That Givewell heuristic looks overly restrictive to me. No charity that distributes food, nor one that works for sustainable independence, will even be evaluated no matter how good they are at what they do. I understand the rationale – they want to have the maximum reduction in harm per dollar, no matter who or where or how. So that’s a useful tool, but if your desire is to feed people or teach people to read or house people, or do anything for anyone in America say, Givewell is irrelevant.

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Dan January 20, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Lets thank the “Powers” also known as G8 (among other names) for the last picture… specially France/UK/Belgium who ransacked Africa.

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Zeb January 20, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I’m surprised no one had any more to say about the objectionable use of the photograph. Where are all the anti-objectification people? Did they not read this post, or is there something different here? Here are the differences I see, in the order I suspect might be causing the lack of reaction in this case: 1. Race 2. Class 3. Foreignness 4. Image used to mock theists 5. Sex makes people feel weird, suffering does not. I know Luke thinks there is nothing wrong with objectification per se, and I think that makes him a little bit of a jerk in that way, but I’d like to hear from anyone who does think objectification and the non-consensual use of a person’s photo are problematic, what about this case?

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Luke Muehlhauser January 21, 2011 at 12:50 am

Zeb,

You want people to be consistent about their moral views???

You’re crazy. :)

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Zeb January 21, 2011 at 6:00 am

Zeb,You want people to be consistent about their moral views???You’re crazy. :)  

LOL.

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Steven R. January 21, 2011 at 8:43 am

I’m surprised no one had any more to say about the objectionable use of the photograph. Where are all the anti-objectification people? Did they not read this post, or is there something different here? Here are the differences I see, in the order I suspect might be causing the lack of reaction in this case: 1. Race 2. Class 3. Foreignness 4. Image used to mock theists 5. Sex makes people feel weird, suffering does not. I know Luke thinks there is nothing wrong with objectification per se, and I think that makes him a little bit of a jerk in that way, but I’dlike to hear from anyone who does think objectification and the non-consensual use of a person’s photo are problematic, what about this case?  

Alright Zeb, I actually thought the same on the previous picture (“How We Know God Doesn’t Exist”) and, though the graphic does make me uncomfortable, and yes, I’ve thought the same about using other people’s suffering to make a rhetorical point, so, for what it’s worth, not all Atheists use the Problem of Evil without at least noticing what you pointed out.

What I will say, however, is that the greater insult is the idea that God is benevolent and that their suffering is glorified as some sort of “good” to maintain the common conception of God relevant. True, through rational discourse of the Problem of Evil we reduce their lives to suffering, but this is because we only deal with the pain and evil of our world; so long as this is recognized, and we realize the importance of staying emotionally connected with those who have suffered, I don’t think it is wrong to treat the subject as we do when investigating the claim of a benevolent God.

Not only that, but I hold that everything is up to how you perceive it. Personally, I take the wry humor in this piece not as something offensive to the child here who has suffered (though I did, at first, find it on the objectionable side), but instead, through its sarcasm it brings to light just how oblivious of other people’s suffering we are; here we have two very commonly expressed ideas of how God “helps” and, really, how good life is, and then comes the shock upon finding out this isn’t always the case. Not only that, but it brings into sharp perspective the differences of our lives and, for someone who is genuinely concerned with these injustices, the picture’s humor is not a taunt to “intellectual inferiors” but a call to arms. Were these the intentions of whoever made this piece? Hard to tell, but to me, no matter. That’s how I take.

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woodchuck64 January 21, 2011 at 8:47 am

Zeb,

I’d like to hear from anyone who does think objectification and the non-consensual use of a person’s photo are problematic, what about this case?

I’d like to see this cleared up, too. Images necessarily present only a facet of a person, and if that facet is part of a message in which the image appears, that person is necessarily reduced or limited in some way to that facet.

But most mixed-media messages use images this way: a plea for donations objectifies the suffering Africans it depicts as if suffering is the only facet of their existence. Is objectification always wrong (without consent), or just wrong when the message itself is objectionable?

(BTW, I’m not sure if it needs to be said, but I’m sure Luke did not create the image above; I’ve seen it floating around long before he posted it.)

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Polymeron January 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

Conor,Interestingly, Compassion International gets a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, but doesn’t even pass the heuristics for evaluation at Give Well.  

I’ve had the same problem with Heifer International (no link – lazy and you have Google). I generally think that GiveWell is a very good indicator but should not necessarily be the only one – some organizations may have some things going for them that are not on GiveWell’s scale.

Conor,
No need to get defensive about it. If you think that an organization that helps optimize the utility/efficiency of donations is not doing any good, you clearly haven’t considered this enough. There are plenty of ineffectual or just corrupt organizations out there, some of which it would be very hard to find this out about until it’s much too late.
No one is telling you not to donate to your favorite organization. However, ask yourself two questions:
1. If you found an organization doing the exact same thing only feeding more people per dollar (say, because your organization spends more on raising donations, salaries, travel expenses etc.) – would you donate to that other organization instead?
2. Assuming you answered yes to the above, and assuming you didn’t do a serious comparative research (I wouldn’t know nor presume to – this is a wild assumption): What do you think are the odds that your organization, out of all the many that are out there, is really the most efficient in its field?

Zeb & woodchuck64,
Of course objectification isn’t always wrong. Why on earth would we even make such a sweeping judgment call?
In this case, for instance, you can point to the causes this serves (e.g. raises awareness for both poverty/hunger and harmful religious misconceptions). That isn’t to say, that you wouldn’t want to weigh the implications of the objectification against that, but seriously, I don’t see how this is a serious issue here.

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cl January 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Tommykey,

Kudos to you for being consistent.

…I see the picture as more of a mockery of theists who labor under the belief that God is helping them find their car keys or for the negative STD test when the beneficial outcomes they receive do not require the intervention of a deity.

Like I said to Hendy, I was never one of those believers to throw around the whole “praise the Lord” thing. I’ve heard people thank God because they cleared a level on some video game. I’ve also heard people bemoan God because they stubbed their toe. I endorse neither approach, because both seem self-absorbed to me.

…in order for us collectively to wipe out suffering and injustice everywhere, we would in effect have to become like what people imagine God to be like, all knowing and all powerful. We would basically have to set up a surveillance society so that everyone’s situation is constantly monitored, and the moment an incident of suffering is seen, a rapid response team in place will be sent to the scene.

I don’t agree to that. I think changes in the heart will prevent external suffering such as that depicted, and indeed, your own testimony affirms this. No sin -> no suffering.

Polymeron,

I have much more respect for theologies that include a god with little to no intervention. When people tell me they’re sure God provided them with whatever coincidence they happened to run into, I find it to be a good indication that they’re beyond reason. We know full well by now that such claims generally fall well within statistical predictability, in the cases where they are not exaggerated or just fabricated.

Believe me, I get the gist, but you’re still arguing in generalities. Of the full set of things attributed to God, certainly, a large subset will fall into statistical probability. However, this claim cannot be applied to the whole set. Like I said, I think an element of self-absorption is often behind many of the “trivial prayers answered” claim.

Patrick,

…exactly which OT story were you alluding to? [cl]

I don’t know exactly why you’re asking… its possible its a legitimate question, and its possible you’re playing a game that I don’t play anymore.

There are two possibilities.

1. You are aware of this aspect of the Bible, in which case you don’t need me to quote the various times it arises, and you have an agenda in asking for specific quotes.

2. You are not aware, and you should go read the Bible yourself because there’s nothing more obnoxious or shameful than simultaneously debating the Bible a Christian while you teach it to them.

I’ve done both, and I don’t care anymore.

Don’t over-think it. If you don’t want to answer, don’t. I’m skeptical whenever people make variants of the claim, “the Bible X” without citations. Simple as that.

PDH,

This, cl, is what I mean by ‘irrelevant.’ It’s irrelevant to what I’m discussing.

You didn’t need a good piece of creative writing to make that point. My point is that there’s more to this discussion than what you’re discussing. It’s not all about you.

You could prove that every atheist goes home each night, snaps the necks of ten babies and then drinks the blood and the problem of suffering would still remain.

Well, now I’m convinced you’re not reading what I write. Again: my question was not intended as relevant to theodicy–which means your extended response is, ironically, irrelevant.

Alex,

Ever fasted for long periods of time? You don’t experience hunger after about 2 days.

True, but you seem to tell only half the story: after the fast is complete–that is, after the process of autolysis has run its course–one experiences hunger again [cf. Matthew 4:2].

PDH – I know, right? I had such high expectations for rational discourse on a thread that started off with the exploitation of starving children for the sake of mocking God.

LOL! LOL!!!

If you’re threatened by me, the easy route is to label me, and designate me unfit for discussion.

That’s a common tactic employed both by Luke and his faithful. I can provide a lengthy list of citations to anyone interested.

Paul,

God’s complicity argues against his existence, regardless of whether humanity is responsible.

Can you elaborate? If not, I have no choice but to chalk that up as bare assertion.

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cl January 24, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Open Question:

To those who say the existence of suffering is evidence against a good God, do you equally say that the existence of joy is evidence for a good God? If not, why not?

Polymeron,

In this case, for instance, you can point to the causes this serves (e.g. raises awareness for both poverty/hunger and harmful religious misconceptions). That isn’t to say, that you wouldn’t want to weigh the implications of the objectification against that, but seriously, I don’t see how this is a serious issue here.

May he correct me if I’m wrong, but I wager that at least part of Zeb’s point was a call for consistency on Luke’s behalf: he apologized in response to the claim that he objectified women in the Sexy Scientists post, yet, no such apology accompanies this post, which objectifies a starving child. FWIW, I’m with those who say objectification isn’t always wrong. I don’t think Luke should have apologized in the first instance, nor do I think he’s under any compulsion to apologize here. Does something about these types of posts rub me the wrong way? Yes, but it’s not that they objectify somebody: as you said, from this, good can result.

So what bothers me? I’m not exactly sure. My initial gripe was that these types of posts tend to rile people up, and riled-up people tend to gravitate towards passion as opposed to cold logic. Surely, the general direction of the thread seems to affirm this. Then again, if one’s intent is simply to mock or parody, well… cold logic was never the goal in the first place, so my objection would seem nullified.

In fact, I might just be changing my mind about appeals to emotion. In your opinion, is it inconsistent or immoral to use an appeal to emotion to mock an appeal to emotion?

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Polymeron January 24, 2011 at 11:43 pm

cl,

Believe me, I get the gist, but you’re still arguing in generalities. Of the full set of things attributed to God, certainly, a large subset will fall into statistical probability. However, this claim cannot be applied to the whole set. Like I said, I think an element of self-absorption is often behind many of the “trivial prayers answered” claim.  

I agree, my point was general.
It does bear mentioning, though, that since so many such claims exist, it would be prudent of us to only examine particularly extraordinary claims that have a much better than average chance to bring us to a conclusion. Therefore I generally ignore such claims altogether – obviously I can’t tell if some of them were indeed driven by anything other than statistics (or dishonesty, or wishful thinking), but to examine each one would not be practical.

May he correct me if I’m wrong, but I wager that at least part of Zeb’s point was a call for consistency on Luke’s behalf: he apologized in response to the claim that he objectified women in the Sexy Scientists post, yet, no such apology accompanies this post, which objectifies a starving child. FWIW, I’m with those who say objectification isn’t always wrong. I don’t think Luke should have apologized in the first instance, nor do I think he’s under any compulsion to apologize here.

I seem to recall that Luke concluded that his post was worng not because it objectifies women. He covered his reasons for apologizing at length. Although I did not agree with those reasons, in that regard he is being consistent.

In fact, I might just be changing my mind about appeals to emotion. In your opinion, is it inconsistent or immoral to use an appeal to emotion to mock an appeal to emotion?  

The way I see it, appeals to emotion have no bearing on the actual points being discussed, unless one can show the centrality of said emotion to the argument. So at best an appeal to emotion is a bit of flavor or entertainment, quite often it muddies the waters and diverts attention from the actual topics being discussed, and at worst it is mistaken for an actual argument despite being fallacious.
As such, I usually try to avoid those, and also avoid discussing them.

Open Question:To those who say the existence of suffering is evidence against a good God, do you equally say that the existence of joy is evidence for a good God? If not, why not?

I’d once again contend that this post does not make a serious point in the problem of evil but rather, at most, points out the absurdity of trivial miracle claims. But, since we’ve touched on this point, I’d like to answer this as a methodological question.

From a Bayesian perspective, the existence of joy could actually be seen as weak evidence for a good deity. We would expect it to exist under such a deity, and we quite probably would expect it to exist without one. But the difference is not big, possibly not even discernable: A good deity may not want joy to exist for any inscrutable reason (but that would constitute a private case with a low probability, so we don’t expect this); and joy is not necessitated by evolution but it does make sense from an evolutionary perspective. As such, the probabilities seem pretty fuzzy, with no real benefit to either side of the equation.

The existence of suffering, on the other hand, is asymmetric in this regard. Under the null hypothesis, we expect suffering to exist in an uncaring universe. It again makes evolutionary sense. Under the good God hypothesis (and assuming suffering is bad), on the other hand, we would need to find a private case where such a deity would allow or even mandate that suffering exist.
Now. If the existence of an all-good deity is epistemically necessary, then all this does is tell us more about this deity. But if not, then we are talking about contingent probabilities and in that regard, the problem of evil does indeed make God more improbable.

This is actually quite intuitive: We might largely discount a person’s claim to innocence (“that’s what you would say if you were guilty!”), but usually we would not ignore their admission of guilt – an innocent person might confess to a crime they didn’t commit, but under ordinary circumstances we would consider this unlikely. Now, if you’re already completely convinced of their innocence, you would go around looking for the circumstances explaining why they admitted it… But if you’re not 100% convinced at the outset, it would in any case be a damning piece of evidence.

I hope this made sense :)

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Camus Dude January 25, 2011 at 11:25 am

@cl – What if god is omni-malevolent? Maybe all of the good in the word is for the greater evil! http://www.philosophyetc.net/2005/01/god-and-evil.html

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cl January 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Polymeron,

I’ll address your POE comments when I respond to Camus Dude and his link. For now:

Although I did not agree with those reasons, in that regard he is being consistent.

I’m not so sure. Luke wrote,

My Sexy Scientists post was wrong because it harmed women and contributed to a culture of harming women.

The fact that I think that statement is cherrypicked aside, I grant that it doesn’t say anything about objectification being wrong per se. However, when elaborating, Luke wrote,

There’s a reason you can’t put up a photo-poster of ‘sexiest women in this office’ in your workplace. It would increase the chances that those women would be seen as sex objects, not taken seriously, and sexually harassed.

The fact that Luke gives no empirical evidence for this claim aside, wouldn’t this also apply to the photo of the child? Though I’ve already agreed with you regarding the “good that could result,” doesn’t posting that photo also increase the chance that the starving would be seen as mere rhetorical devices used to “poo-poo theism,” as Alex put it? Clearly, the implication seems to be that objectification is wrong if it increases the chance of actual harm. Wouldn’t we need some sort of empirical determination to be sure either way? What, if anything, do you infer from the fact that Luke recognized his own failure to justify his claim in desirist terms? After all, Luke does profess to eschew reliance on intuition in the making of moral judgments. If he’s not relying on empiricism, what is he relying on?

Shouldn’t Luke at least apologize to the child, for objectifying him and his suffering in order to mock theism?

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Zeb January 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I was not accusing Luke of inconsistency because he explicitly said that objectification of humans is not immoral. I was challenging many of the commenters who condemned Luke’s sexy scientists post on the grounds that it was an instance of objectification. I do think that objectification in itself is wrong, because it indicates a lack of desire to treat a human as a whole person, which I believe to be a good desire and a desire that I wish to increase in myself and others. I also think this particular use is desire-thwarting in these ways: First and most importantly, it likely thwarts the subject’s desire to not be used as a punchline and a tool in debate, and to not be put on display as an object of disgust. We don’t know that the subject has these desires, but lacking his consent and knowing our own desires, we should err on the side of restraint and respect. Second, the fact that the image is used intentionally as a an icon of suffering and probably unintentionally as an icon of otherness (in terms of race, class, and culture) trivializes the life of the person, including his suffering, and distances him from the audience. So while drawing attention to his existence in this way might provoke more desire-fulfilling responses by the audience than ignoring his existence altogether would, it is less beneficial than treating him holistically. While all use of images risks objectification, it is not unavoidable. A photographer or writer can contextualize the image in a way that humanizes, rather than objectifies, the subject. Such usage would invite the audience to contemplate the person ‘behind’ the image rather merely take a jolt of emotion from a graphic trope. It would provoke one to recognize both the commonalities and the uniqueness between the viewer and the subject. And ideally it would in some way include both the direct will and the voice of the subject. And still, some instances of objectification may yet be justified. I do think it is problematic, for all the reasons above, to use iconic pictures of suffering children in appeals for donations that would address the needs of children like those pictured. But for one thing, the good might outweigh the bad and might be excusable until we find more respectful ways to raise awareness and provoke response without objectifying people. And for another, it is a lot more likely that the pictured children would consent to such usage if it would help them or children like them even if actual consent was not obtained. It is a lot harder to believe that consent would have been given for the usage here.

Steven R, I agree that blithe dismissals of suffering on philosophical or theological grounds are insulting. I condemn people on both sides of the “problem of evil” debate who do not include the voiced perspective of actual suffers in their considerations.

So Luke, based on the lack of outcry here, maybe instead of “15 Sexy Scientists (with pics, of course)” you should have done “15 Starving Scientists (with pics, of course).” But, neither the pictures nor the lack of shitstorm would have been as fun to look at.

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Steven R. January 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Open Question:To those who say the existence of suffering is evidence against a good God, do you equally say that the existence of joy is evidence for a good God? If not, why not?

Nope. If I claimed that a “Love Unicorn” exists and that it has utter control of the world, would the existence of love be proof of a Love Unicorn? Of course not, it’s merely what we would expect if such a stupid hypothesis were real. On the other hand, the lack of love that exists in our world would indeed make us wonder how we can claim that such a being is in charge of things and act against it’s very nature. The Problem of Pain only works because it goes against a hypothesis and in a very blatant way. On the other hand, the mere fact that joy exists hardly justifies the hypothesis of a loving God anymore than love justifies the hypothesis of the Love Unicorn. Then there are, of course, other problems, such as why is joy so hard to come upon, why it is so ephemeral, etc.

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cl January 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Zeb,

Thanks for clarifying.

Steven R.,

If I claimed that a “Love Unicorn” exists and that it has utter control of the world, would the existence of love be proof of a Love Unicorn?

Did I say anything about proof? No. I spoke of evidence, but, it’s good to see that you’re inconsistent–I guess.

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Steven R. January 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Zeb,Thanks for clarifying.Steven R.,
Did I say anything about proof? No. I spoke of evidence, but, it’s good to see that you’re inconsistent–I guess.  

…It really doesn’t change much. It’s about as much evidence for God as it is for the Love Unicorn or invisible fish that make the water in your kitchen sink flow out. The thing is, what makes the Problem of Evil work is that we have a hypothesis that makes some claims and it seems that what we observe is not consistent with the hypothesis. Merely because somethings come out as predicted by the hypothesis doesn’t really provide much evidence. So, in short, yes, but only very minimal evidence that is not worth much.

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nonchai January 26, 2011 at 4:56 am

cl

I’ve been looking at your posts here and as well, some of yours responding to John Loftus.

You very often use the trick of requiring the poster to supply more evidence here more “proof” there, empirical data here etc etc.

For example when Loftus mentions that the bible has been shown to be wrong many times over on the exodus etc.

Firstly all this demand for evidence, and empirical data is a bit rich from a member of a religious group who philosophically seem to go to the nth degree to ensure that non of their doctrines fall within any kind of empirical test whasoever.

Secondly if people were, like loftus to actually present the kind of detailed support and evidence for every post they made, the posts would turn into mini “papers”, academic treatises and the like. It is not practice or practical for posters to be forecver giving citations, footnotes, fully fleshed out examples etc on these comments. You dont do it. We dont do it.

Basically youre just playing a game of cat and mouse here. I do agree there are a lot of posts made against you which are mere insult, ad hominem and the like, but maybe you bring this on yourself. People like John Loftus clearly get angry and annoyed since when they encounter the same endless attempts to wriggle out of obvious and clear cut arguments, xtians come back with the same old apologetic tosh.

Take one example – the Exodus. Loftus says archaeologists have found diddly squat evidence to support this.

You say something along the lines of “Loftus gives no examples etc etc” even though you very likely know full well that this has been covered by respected academics such as Dever and Finkelstein.

Then comes the “absence of evidence evidence of absence” chestnut. Which is true in some cases – but where a proposition has within it an implicit and clear logical prediction or expectation – namely that a million people stuck in a desert region for 40 years WOULD VERY LIKELY leave behind physical evidence , a clear lack of such evidence DOES show an evidence of absence. ( angels with vacuum cleaners excepted ).

Your posts repeatedly remind me of the young child that asks her daddy a “WHY” question, and when daddy gives her the answer she just keeps saying “WHY” repeatedly.

Its a game, nothing more.

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Rob January 26, 2011 at 10:46 am

The Onion’s version of the sentiments expressed in the cartoon:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/god-almost-forgot-to-kill-dave-elfman-of-boulder-c,18930/

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cl January 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Steven R.,

So, in short, yes, but only very minimal evidence that is not worth much.

Much better. Although I disagree with your “not worth much” opinion, I respect that you thought it through.

nonchai,

You very often use the trick of requiring the poster to supply more evidence here more “proof” there, empirical data here etc etc.

Since when is requesting evidence for claims a “trick?” I’ve not heard that one before.

For example when Loftus mentions that the bible has been shown to be wrong many times over on the exodus etc.

“Many times?” I suppose asking you to make accurate claims is a “trick,” to? LOL! That’s just it though: Loftus hasn’t shown the Bible to be wrong on the Exodus. He’s assumed such after presenting, quite honestly… nothing. I’m speaking specifically in the context of the Science Debunks Christianity post. If you want me to take you seriously, whatsoever, then get your little fanny over there, and show–in that post–where John has “shown” the Bible to be wrong. I’ll gladly respond here or there.

Firstly all this demand for evidence, and empirical data is a bit rich from a member of a religious group who philosophically seem to go to the nth degree to ensure that non of their doctrines fall within any kind of empirical test whasoever.

Please. The central doctrine of my faith–that he who repents and is baptized will inherit eternal life–is empirically testable. I have tested it, and it will be either true or false.

Secondly if people were, like loftus to actually present the kind of detailed support and evidence for every post they made, the posts would turn into mini “papers”, academic treatises and the like.

This does not excuse one from making baseless assertions. In his post, A Listing Of Cognitive Biases, John unequivocally states that “We should all ask for positive evidence for that which we accept as true.” This entails both that positive evidence should be supplied upon request, and, that when it is not, our interlocutor is under no compulsion whatsoever to accept the claim without positive evidence. So don’t accuse me of trickery or make excuses for John when I’m simply holding him to the standard he himself endorses.

People like John Loftus clearly get angry and annoyed since when they encounter the same endless attempts to wriggle out of obvious and clear cut arguments, xtians come back with the same old apologetic tosh.

Oh, pooooooor John! Those mean ‘ol nasty theists like me just have to keep coming around and asking them to justify their claims and hold themselves to the same standards they ostensibly endorse! Wah! Wah!

Take one example – the Exodus. Loftus says archaeologists have found diddly squat evidence to support this. You say something along the lines of “Loftus gives no examples etc etc” even though you very likely know full well that this has been covered by respected academics such as Dever and Finkelstein.

My claim has been consistent: John conveniently ignores archaeological evidence that seems to corroborate a nomadic tribe of Israelites being captive in Egypt–a necessary prerequisite for an exodus–which I began to touch on in my post, Why You Should Be Skeptical Of John Loftus. He simply skips all that, tells his readers that archaeology “has shown us there was no Exodus,” then has the audacity to break out the whole, “we need positive evidence” trope. When I challenge him on it, he tells me to read his books [as if I'm not]. If that’s what passes for “critical thinking” and “conservatively stated claims” in your book, well… suffice it to say, I disagree.

…where a proposition has within it an implicit and clear logical prediction or expectation – namely that a million people stuck in a desert region for 40 years WOULD VERY LIKELY leave behind physical evidence ,

Now you’re simply revealing your own ignorance of the vast wealth of source material available to you. This is ironic, because you just chided me for doing the same in respect to Dever and Finkelstein–despite the fact that I’ve taken some time to explore what they have to say on the matter. This has already been quoted in our discussion:

As for the issue of encampments are concerned, it is nearly impossible to find traces of large Bedouin encampments in the Sinai Desert from 200-300 years ago. So would one expect the remains of large encampments after 3,000 years?

…and Lichtman is not the only one to make the point. Further, on what grounds do you claim “a million people” constituted the Exodus? Where is the positive evidence for your hitherto bare assertion?

Look, you accuse me of playing a “game,” yet… I think your criticisms speak for themselves. No offense, but next time, do your homework before you dig into your keyboard to lambast me, lest your accusations get rightfully returned to sender. That said, thank you for acknowledging the many “posts made against [me] which are mere insult, ad hominem and the like.” Please don’t add to them. I’m sure we’re all tired.

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nonchai January 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm

“large Bedouin encampments”

hmm.. lets see – and by large – what perchance do they mean ? encampments of what ? 50 people ? 100 ? 200 maybe ? Maybe this refers to some written records showing – what ? that there was an encampment of 100 ? 1000 nomads ? 2000 ?

Agains – hmmm lets . see – A FRICKING MILLION ??????

Actually as time has gone on, archaeoogists have gotten the tools and methods whereby they REGULARLY can discover settlements of far smaller populations than even 100.

I live in a town of 80,000 people. Believe me – they leave a lot of rubbish.

And you suppose that 1,000,0000 or MORE people, would leave NO trace behind ?

And his pharaoh – you remember – the oh so important one who your Moses supposedly pwned with skydaddys help – somehow the most amazing biblical event that ever happened in Judaism – and the bloody jewsm Moses included – who – of course “wrote” your “history” about all this – conveniently couldnt be arsed to remember his name ???.

And how about the actual location of the mountain where moses came down with the tablets . Mysteriously the exact location of this ancient religious site just gets conveniently lost ? Tradition says nothing about it ?.

We have tombs, fake or otherwise all over the place for more recent holy sites – gethsemane, the point where muhammed supposedly flew to the heavens, even the pool of bethesda, etc etc, but the NUMERO UNO site of world significance – where El Godot actually gave his 10 commandments to your oh-so-not-mythical “Moses” – THAT site
faded from memory! along with any trace of ONE FRICKING MILLION NOMADS SETTLED IN THE SAME FRICKIN PLACE FOR 40 YEARS!!!.

Give me a break.

Yes -

Its a game, to cover up lack of evidence. Evidence of a lack of the exodus.

Its a Myth.

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nonchai January 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm

All this exodus nonsense reminds me of a report i read about a while back of someone discovering a chariot wheel in the Red Sea. And naturally xtians and apologetically minded xtians , along with “prove the bible” archaeologists’ claimed – hey dude -heres the evidence of the exodus.

A single chariot wheel !!!!

Hmmm – and the other four are where ?

Along with all the other wheels that also drowned when pharaoh “got what was commin to him” ??? nada.

This is what is commonly called “straw clutching”.

See thats the thing with your “game”. It consists of endlessly positing POSSIBLE explanations to cover up some embarassing bit of observation.

See, where there truly IS a corroboration between the bible and evidence, you’ll find all archaeologists will never deny it. Nobody denies Nebuchandezzar, Pilate, and all the other historic names and places mentioned in the bible, just as no-one in the UK denies
that there is a real place in England called Glastonbury.

But does that mean Arthur and Merlin were real . Nope. Sorry. Game over.

Denial. Thats the game.

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nonchai January 26, 2011 at 1:53 pm

@cl “Please. The central doctrine of my faith–that he who repents and is baptized will inherit eternal life–is empirically testable. I have tested it, and it will be either true or false.”

ROFL!!!!!

Give me a break!!

I HAVE tested it…. and …… wait for it…. it WILL BE EITHER TRUE OR FALSE !!

One moment you say youve tested it – inferring that the results “are in” – next minute youre telling us
you havent tested it at all – when we claim we have TESTED a hypothesis in science, the common meaning is that a we did the test, observed the results and can this ALREADY draw a conclusion!..

Your statement should if im being kind -re-worded. You mean – I have “PLACED MY BET” and ONE DAY IN THE FUTURE I will find out if i was right.

Although strictly speaking that ain’t true. If there IS an afterlife – yes- you will be able to observe the results of a positive outcome. But – sorry to break this to you -if there AINT an afterlife and we live in a godless, non-supernatural world youre not even going to be able to observe that you were wrong. Youre just going to be rotting meat.

I’m slowly beginning to see now why you’re not taken seriously here.

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cl January 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Wow. Three screeds, back-to-back. You certainly seem a bit riled up, i.e., emotional.

Actually as time has gone on, archaeoogists have gotten the tools and methods whereby they REGULARLY can discover settlements of far smaller populations than even 100.

Look how you argue in vague generalities, without citations or evidence. Can you provide evidence of archaeologists discovering “settlements of far smaller populations than even 100″ living around 1,400 b.c., in the Sinai Desert? If so, please do: I’d love to learn.

I live in a town of 80,000 people. Believe me – they leave a lot of rubbish.

Yeah? So what. Do y’all live in the Sinai desert? Do you really expect me to believe that if y’all did, this “rubbish” would persist for 3,000 years? If so, that’s rubbish! Get real.

And his pharaoh – you remember – the oh so important one who your Moses supposedly pwned with skydaddys help – somehow the most amazing biblical event that ever happened in Judaism – and the bloody jewsm Moses included – who – of course “wrote” your “history” about all this – conveniently couldnt be arsed to remember his name ???.

That the Pharaoh is not specifically named does not disprove the Exodus.

And how about the actual location of the mountain where moses came down with the tablets . Mysteriously the exact location of this ancient religious site just gets conveniently lost ? Tradition says nothing about it ?.

This is irrelevant to the question of the Exodus, i.e., a red herring.

ONE FRICKING MILLION NOMADS SETTLED IN THE SAME FRICKIN PLACE FOR 40 YEARS!!!

That’s the second time you made this claim, with no evidence. Further, note that the Israelites were recorded as wandering through the desert–in stark contrast to your claim of staying in the same place. Get your facts straight. You’re making really amateur mistakes.

Nobody denies Nebuchandezzar, Pilate, and all the other historic names and places mentioned in the bible,

So you seem to affirm the credibility of the Bible in other areas. That’s good.

Your statement should if im being kind -re-worded. You mean – I have “PLACED MY BET” and ONE DAY IN THE FUTURE I will find out if i was right.

No, I meant what I said: I don’t need you to speak for me, especially given your tendency to mangle grammar and sentence structure.

I’m slowly beginning to see now why you’re not taken seriously here.

Shouldn’t critical thinkers eschew cherrypicked arguments? By no means do I intend to toot my own horn, but I do feel the need to challenge your fallacious reasoning. Consider:

…most of what you have written here and on CSA is great (IMO). [Ronin]

…I wanted to get a message to you outside of the context of specific discussions on CSA. You make good, insightful contributions to that site… [Zeb]

…i found your blog from your regular comments on CSA. To be honest, in 2010 I’ve found your comments and posts, esp on desirism, to be invaluable. I remember first reading the things on his website 2 years ago and being impressed by his sincerity and honesty, but i’ve found that the commenters on that website seem unwilling to directly question or challenge what he says and so he gets away with a lot of things, so i appreciate you standing up to that. [Michael]

I appreciate your comments over at CSA. [J.K. Jones]

Hello cl. I found this blog through your comments on CSA, and I’m interested in reading more. [adamoriens]

Save for Zeb’s which was sent via email, I fielded those in under five minutes from only three threads on my own blog: Suggestions Anyone, Why You Should Be Skeptical Of John Loftus, and Just What I Needed To Hear. I assure there are many other comments like those, here and there. That should be more than enough to PROVE that you’re simply cherrypicking.

Best of luck to you in your search for truth, and I do mean that sincerely.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm

How could anyone be against chai?

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nonchai January 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm

The israelites were ( according to Num 13,14,20 ) said to be sojourned in Kadesh Barnea for 38 yrs> Read William G Dever: “Who Were The Early Israelites” Pgs 18-19.

Also Finkelsteins “The Bible Unearthed” Pgs 62-63,

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nonchai January 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm

@luke

actually Nonchai is Thai for “Little Brother” and also used as a Thai euphemism :)

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Polymeron January 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm

guys&gals,
I think I can mostly resolve the whole “citations needed” issue.
(If you’re impatient and don’t want rationale/problem statement, just jump down to where it says “solution”).

In informal conversations such as this, we can have quite the mixed crowd – more and less experienced people, more and less knowledgeable, etc.
Quite often, someone makes an unsubstantiated claim which is also false. They can do that because it seems obvious to them, or because they’ve seen reasoning that is weaker than they think, or just because they are trolling. In any of these cases, the claim should be challenged.

The problem with this, of course, is you don’t know if a claim truly is unsupported, challenged or not. And just challenging everything your opponent just to win points is not conductive to a debate. It further can be construed that this is what someone is trying to do, even if they’re just pointing what they think is an actual flaw. I’ve seen cl accused of doing this in this thread, for instance (not passing judgment myself – but usually I give people the benefit of the doubt and assume good faith). Lastly, too many challenges of this sort can bring about tiresome repetition.

So, a solution.
- You get to challenge claims as unsubstantiated. Your opponents should then provide sources in order for the claims to stand. They don’t get to say “oy, not this again” as an argument, at least not without pointing to where this was actually explained before.
- You should only challenge claims you strongly suspect are false or cannot be shown to be true. Don’t challenge something just to make things difficult or hoping your opponents give up.
- It is always better to mention what rudimentary search you have performed for the claim and what you found. Naked incredulity does not an inquisitive mind indicate.
- If your opponents easily produce a lot of evidence for their claim, you did something wrong and have made an idiot of yourself. If this happens twice in the same discussion, you should probably do your research before being incredulous again.
- Assume good faith. Only if someone keeps challenging your claims, with no attempt to find sources, despite being shown repeatedly that claims are supported by multiple sources, just ignore them.

This should be fairly straightforward, intuitive, effective, productive, and less frustrating all around. I follow this code and I urge others to do the same.

Luke,
I prefer Earl Grey, hands down.

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nonchai January 26, 2011 at 5:10 pm

“And how about the actual location of the mountain where moses came down with the tablets . Mysteriously the exact location of this ancient religious site just gets conveniently lost ? Tradition says nothing about it ?.

This is irrelevant to the question of the Exodus, i.e., a red herring.”

Actually it is very relevant to the exodus ! if the story of the exodus happened INCLUDING the “tablet incident” then we would expect that this location wold have been remembered firmly through time, and made into a place of pilgrimage. Nothing like this happened, so it is yet another of many “anomalies” that indicate this is all just a myth.

Not to mention a while pile of anacronisms to do with the story. And NO im not going to elaborate any further here.

And in case anyone wonders why those books – well William Dever was head of the William Albright School of archaeology for many years, and has led excavation digs in israel many times during his career, as as Israel Finkelstein, who is Professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University.

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Luke Muehlhauser January 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm

nonchai,

Ah, cool, thanks.

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Anonymous June 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

The reality is that it is mostly Christ centered groups that are willing to go to these 3rd world countries and help.What you see in photo #3 is the result of SIN(Disobedience to God).By One man(Adam)sin came into the world and by One MAN (Jesus Christ) is it reconciled.Romans Chapter 5.Never attribute to God what is clearly a result of the fall of mankind.

Fuck you, you sick diluted bastard.

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Average Joe July 12, 2011 at 11:13 am

Luke, do you mind if I make this into a decal?

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Luke Muehlhauser July 13, 2011 at 4:35 am

Average Joe,

Go for it. Not my graphic anyway.

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cl July 13, 2011 at 9:07 am

Fuck you, you sick diluted bastard.

Ah, intelligent, rational atheism at its finest! LOL

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Lorkas July 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Fuck you, you sick diluted bastard.

Ah, intelligent, rational atheism at its finest! LOL

That’s clearly not an atheist, but rather a proponent of homeopathy.

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mpg July 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Ah, intelligent, rational atheism at its finest! LOL

I would say that its difficult to terminate the responsibility for natural evil at the fall of mankind, since, said fall must be, by virtue of God’s purported omni-attributes, an necessary event in God’s plan. I suppose that is the reason why many of us aren’t persuaded by your appeal to the Book of Romans (and sometimes express that disagreement in impassioned terms).

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Derrida July 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Open Question:
To those who say the existence of suffering is evidence against a good God, do you equally say that the existence of joy is evidence for a good God? If not, why not?

The existence of joy and happiness is good evidence against an evil God, but the existence of suffering isn’t good evidence for an evil God. Why? Because unnecessary happiness is inconsistent with the evil god hypothesis, but the existence unnecessary suffering isn’t inconsistent with the no evil god hypothesis.

Similarly, unnecessary suffering is inconsistent with the good God hypothesis, but unnecessary joy isn’t inconsistent with the no good God hypothesis. So joy isn’t evidence for God, but suffering isn’t evidence against God.

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Derrida July 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Similarly, unnecessary suffering is inconsistent with the good God hypothesis, but unnecessary joy isn’t inconsistent with the no good God hypothesis. So joy isn’t evidence for God, but suffering isn’t evidence against God.

“…but suffering *is* evidence against God.”

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Derrida July 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Cl,

Ah, intelligent, rational atheism at its finest! LOL

Why assume “anonymous” is an atheist?

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Ex Hypothesi July 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm

mpg:

I would say that its difficult to terminate the responsibility for natural evil at the fall of mankind, since, said fall must be, by virtue of God’s purported omni-attributes, an necessary event in God’s plan.

Sorry, could you please show us how it follows from God’s “omni-attributes” that the fall was *necessary*?

Keep in mind that whatever is contained in the consequent *must* be in the antecedent. Otherwise, you’re just asserting stuff.

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Christopher Zimny July 14, 2011 at 12:02 am

You already posted this Luke…

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MarkD July 14, 2011 at 12:39 am

I’m beginning to rethink my critique of the EY post rehashes: at least I occasionally learn something from them other than that starving to death might not be too bad in God’s crazy schemes.

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InurfacNiga July 14, 2011 at 4:35 am

Yep. This is the result of you sinners. You self centered atheists aren’t doing shit to help so don’t sit there thinking your witty for blaming religion and getting a chuckle at this little graphic when its you selfish greedy godless people that are the cause of that child’s starvation and suffering

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Zeb July 14, 2011 at 11:14 am

To get an answer to the implied question, “What is the third person pictured thanking Jesus for?” read “What Is the What,” cowritten by David Eggers and Valentino Achak Deng, one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Autobiography-Valentino-Achak-Deng/dp/1932416641

Don’t just insert your own rhetoric into the silenced mouth of this person who has been turned into a cheap polemic device here.

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cl July 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

Zeb,

Check out http://www.emmanuelkenya.org. This believing woman has dedicated her entire adult life to helping the lost boys and girls of Sudan. From what I’ve been told, and from what I can see from meeting a few, the people who have to actually endure this particular breed of suffering don’t run around using it as some sort of trump card against faith.

mpg,

I would say that its difficult to terminate the responsibility for natural evil at the fall of mankind, since, said fall must be, by virtue of God’s purported omni-attributes, an necessary event in God’s plan.

1) One can believe and say whatever one wants. Does that give one the right to hurl insults at others who might have a different take?

2) I’m neither agreeing nor disagreeing until you present an argument which purports to force the conclusion, “The fall was necessary given God’s alleged attributes,” as has already been requested by Ex Hypothesi.

Derrida,

The existence of joy and happiness is good evidence against an evil God, but the existence of suffering isn’t good evidence for an evil God. Why? Because unnecessary happiness is inconsistent with the evil god hypothesis, but the existence unnecessary suffering isn’t inconsistent with the no evil god hypothesis.

Similarly, unnecessary suffering is inconsistent with the good God hypothesis, but unnecessary joy isn’t inconsistent with the no good God hypothesis. So joy isn’t evidence for God, but suffering isn’t evidence against God.

Interesting take, but I see it a bit differently. You seem to be assuming limited options: either a good God, or a bad God. Take, for example, the existence of suffering and evil alongside the existence of happiness and good — which is obviously the condition we actually find ourselves in. Why can’t that be evidence for the existence of an evil god alongside a good God? IOW, why evaluate each separately, when it’s very well possible that both could exist?

Why assume “anonymous” is an atheist?

Well, going on my own experience: Buddhists are generally more laid back and tolerant, as are the Unitarians; Mormons tend not to talk like that; that “anonymous” wasn’t a Christian or Catholic seems a safe bet; an agnostic wouldn’t feel so strongly one way or the other… I mean, I’m not going to exhaust every possible non-theist position, but the feel and tone of the comment, alongside it’s noticeably vapid content, led me to surmise it was mostly like left by one of those “New Atheist” types, or somebody just trolling.

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Derrida July 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Cl,

Derrida,

Interesting take, but I see it a bit differently. You seem to be assuming limited options: either a good God, or a bad God. Take, for example, the existence of suffering and evil alongside the existence of happiness and good — which is obviously the condition we actually find ourselves in. Why can’t that be evidence for the existence of an evil god alongside a good God? IOW, why evaluate each separately, when it’s very well possible that both could exist?

Well, assuming omnipotence, there can’t be two omnipotent beings, since that would mean that both would dominate the other.

But to clarify what I’m saying, I think the existence of large amounts of evil is less likely given classical theism than given atheism/the negation of classical theism. In an uncaring universe, we would, I think, have reason to expect large amounts of suffering, but I see no reason to expect large amounts of suffering given classical theism. We would also expect, by chance, for there to be many fortuitous/happy situations given atheism, and also expect a lot of happiness/joy given theism.

If p(e|H) is greater than p(e|~H), then e is evidence for H. I see reason to think that p(suffering|atheism) is greater than p(suffering|theism), but I see no reason to think that p(joy|theism) is greater than p(joy|atheism).

Well, going on my own experience: Buddhists are generally more laid back and tolerant, as are the Unitarians; Mormons tend not to talk like that; that “anonymous” wasn’t a Christian or Catholic seems a safe bet; an agnostic wouldn’t feel so strongly one way or the other… I mean, I’m not going to exhaust every possible non-theist position, but the feel and tone of the comment, alongside it’s noticeably vapid content, led me to surmise it was mostly like left by one of those “New Atheist” types, or somebody just trolling.

I think many people who hadn’t really thought about the philosophical issue of the existence of God, as many people in my experience don’t, would take exception to the claim that people in the 3rd world suffer because they sin. Perhaps anonymous grew up in, or has relatives in, a poverty stricken country. A lot of people just don’t care to think about whether or not God exists, but do care about practical matters, such as who is to blame for third world suffering. To suggest that the victims are to blame is abominable.

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cl July 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Derrida,

To suggest that the victims are to blame is abominable.

Who suggested that? Neither I, nor Anonymous, at least not in the comment in question (June 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm):

The reality is that it is mostly Christ centered groups that are willing to go to these 3rd world countries and help.What you see in photo #3 is the result of SIN(Disobedience to God).By One man(Adam)sin came into the world and by One MAN (Jesus Christ) is it reconciled.Romans Chapter 5.Never attribute to God what is clearly a result of the fall of mankind.

Sure, as of late, atheists and humanists have better organized themselves in this regard, but at least in the context of atheist & humanist / Christian groups, it is true that “mostly Christ centered groups are willing to go to these 3rd world countries and help.” Of course, that doesn’t entail that “atheists are immoral” or “Christians are more moral than atheists” or any of that noise. Also note that Anonymous didn’t attribute sin to the victims, either.

…I see no reason to expect large amounts of suffering given classical theism.

Well, to suggest, “I see no reason for X, therefore probably ~X” is essentially a position founded on personal incredulity.

I see reason to think that p(suffering|atheism) is greater than p(suffering|theism), but I see no reason to think that p(joy|theism) is greater than p(joy|atheism).

I see just the opposite. Problem is, we’re both up the creek without a paddle here, in terms of the ability to force one conclusion or the other…

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Keith J. July 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Lorkas, you just made my day with the homeopathy comment!

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Derrida July 14, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Derrida,

Who suggested that? Neither I, nor Anonymous, at least not in the comment in question (June 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm):

Sure, as of late, atheists and humanists have better organized themselves in this regard, but at least in the context of atheist & humanist / Christian groups, it is true that “mostly Christ centered groups are willing to go to these 3rd world countries and help.” Of course, that doesn’t entail that “atheists are immoral” or “Christians are more moral than atheists” or any of that noise. Also note that Anonymous didn’t attribute sin to the victims, either.

Paula Driscoll, to whom anonymous was responding, said that the suffering of the third world is the result of sin. She must be referring to either the sins of the people in the third world, or the sins of other people. I don’t see why a good God would let people in the third world suffer for the sins of others. If she’s saying that the suffering of people in the third world is punishment from God, then that implies that people in the third world are to blame, which is abominable.

Well, to suggest, “I see no reason for X, therefore probably ~X” is essentially a position founded on personal incredulity.

I didn’t say that. Since I see no good reason to expect large amounts of suffering given theism, I won’t assume that p(suffering|theism) is high. But since I think there is reason to think that p(suffering|atheism) is high, that’s a reason to think that p(suffering|atheism) is higher than p(suffering|theism).

I see just the opposite. Problem is, we’re both up the creek without a paddle here, in terms of the ability to force one conclusion or the other…

You could provide reasons as to why you think the opposite is true. If the universe wasn’t created for us, odds are the universe would often not fit our needs. But if theism is true, why think that the world would fit our needs as much as it does?

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Paula Driscoll July 15, 2011 at 9:14 am

Just to clarify my previous statement. OF COURSE this innocent child has not sinned. The famine that has caused her horrible state is the result of the “fall of man”.

It seems clear to me that most people who post here do not or have not ever read the scriptures. (duh,I guess that’s a no-brainer huh?) It is no co-incidence that the countries that have a Judeo-Christian basis are blessed! It is God’s desire to bless ALL nations, tribes and countries, but most 3rd world countries are steeped in pagan practices. Clearly God is a GOOD God. God did not perpetrate this horror on this world.

There is an evil force at work on this earth and it is the force of the enemy “SATAN”. He likes to remain hidden in the background causing chaos and death and is quite pleased when his atrocities are attributed to God (or ESPECIALLY to Jesus..i.e.”Thank You Jesus!”).

You may put this graphic on a bumper sticker but it will just prove your own ignorance.

If you would just spend a little time reading the book of John in the New Testament you would see the character of Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man…you will see the character of God, his Father, who is a loving Father. The WHOLE reason that the Father had to send His Son to die for the “SIN”(state of sin) of the world was to redeem it back to Himself.

Satan has blinded the eyes of those who do not believe to the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ! Knowing Him is glorious!

Have you seen the movie “The Rite” with Anthony Hopkins? You will see the character of Satan in that film (inspired by true events)….HE is the one who causes precious little children like you see in this graphic to starve and die…NOT GOD!

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Larkus July 15, 2011 at 11:53 am

Everytime I hear that line of defense I wonder why God not simply smites Satan. Maybe because God still needs Satan for some purpose?

My suspicion is, that God outsourced evil to Satan for reasons of plausible deniability.

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Lorkas July 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I’m afraid you missed the point, Paula. The image doesn’t blame Jesus for the kid starving, it blames Christians for claiming that Jesus helps them throw touchdowns when there are clearly people who need Jesus’s help much more than they do, and don’t receive it.

Either the Christians are stupid for thinking that Jesus would prioritize their missing keys over feeding starving children, or Jesus is a fucked-up mofo because he actually does prioritize prayers in that way.

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poban July 16, 2011 at 6:44 am

Lorkas. Why do yiu think that the other poster was a proponent of homeopathy??

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Marco July 16, 2011 at 9:58 am

Starvation is a fact..

I see this kind of comparison allover in internet – maybe a coincidence that almost all them come from atheist? (that is not a critique, just another fact..). But it is also a fact that there is some humanitarian help in Africa.

In Bible says that God GIVE us this world (i will consider this a fact too for now)

What strikes me is that i can see a clear and causal link between HUMAN intervention and the many problems that we all have in our own countries. So my question is “Who do we have to blame?”

In the lack of an correct answer I have another fact to mention: Truly christians people are doing something about these problems.

If this world is really our, I dont see problems with the apparent omission of God. We are the beings that NEED TO deal with the responsibility of our actions, we are moral beings. Historically WE are responsible for starvation, corruption and drugs.

I really think that we are missing the point laying the blame on God.

(among God’s acts I would count: Putting us in the Earth, He sent Jesus, He gave us the 10 commandments, and the like)

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Lorkas July 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Lorkas. Why do yiu think that the other poster was a proponent of homeopathy??

Aww…. it’s not funny if I have to explain it.

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drj July 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm

The photo in the OP is a powerful one, simple as that.

Any believer that does not at least take a pause, when confronted with such an image, to seriously question his or her faith is beyond reason, and a slave to dogmatic un-reason.

The Problem of Evil is real, tangible, and severe. Let yourself really feel the weight of it…

I don’t see how anyone who truly gets a taste of the POE can remain a theist. Its absolutely crazy.

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BennySinn July 18, 2011 at 5:22 am

So God made the universe obey a principle whereby mr Jones from cricklewood was responsible for a hungry sudanese child.

Where exactly is the chain of causality ?.

Woudnt it have been better for god simply to periodically give warning of an imminent famine or Tsunami to ALL, and then provide a named bank account for everyone to send in a contribution. God gives a figure he accepts sufficiently charitable for all humans alive at the time to sacrifice. Then on the balance reaching that limit, god calls off his demons of famine – or by ‘Puff magic” repeals the mysterious laws of “SIN CAUSALITY” and the “famine/tsunami” is called off.

It is a simple fact that even when humans want to give time or money to avert or lessen the blow of a catastrophe, some innocent humans will still suffer. A famine happens. To sort out aid takes time. Some kid will die through no-ones negligence. We are fallible and limited mortals. God apparently is not. He allegedly can seperate the red sea, cause pestilence to fall upon anyone he likes, and he can even just plainly drown us reprobate sinners if he feels so compelled.

This actually begs another question. If the NOAH incident had happened today, would it have been a proper response for kind, considerate humans to collectively make a whole fleet of “arks” to save humanity from suffering once gods decision were made ?. Or did the fact that god was angry at sinning humans mean that the appropriate thing to do is precisel NOTHING – because to do anything to prevent humands being drowned would be an act of sin?

Maybe every famine, flood, or tsunami IS in fact an act of judgement on mans “sin”. In which case to do something to allay the punishment at all would be a blasphemous sin. Maybe the “holy” thing to do in these naturaly calamities is precisely nothing – or at the most – simply to apologise to god and repent.

I say all of this flippantly of course. There really is NO decent theodicy or “defence” that doesnt deserve to be met by contempt.

Shit happens. Its nature. Sometimes we can help sometimes we cant. If there is a god, he has chosen to stand back and do fuck all about it. Pure and simple. Nice one Yahweh. You can keep all your sycophntic and servile worshippers. What does it take for someone to worship a Cunt ?. Answer ? Christianity.

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joseph July 19, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Alex’s medical infomation seems to be about westerners, with terminal conditions, recieving pain relief. My Grandfather starved himself to death (chronic renal failure, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis, necrosis of part of the colon after a thromboembolic event) on various opioids. From what I could tell the only reason it might not have been painful (i.e. the starvation part) would have been a combination of delirium, comatose episodes and possibly down regulation of nociceptive pathways.

How much can be applied to an untreated yet otherwise healthy African child I am unsure.
I suggest if Alex wants us to treat his/her remarks with anything more than contempt, he/she starve himself/herself under supervision of appropriately trained medical personnel and provide us with documentary evidence.
Also if pain is the only measure he/she will accept why would it be wrong to commit murder with Carbon dioxide?

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joseph July 19, 2011 at 11:06 pm

To clarify i do not want Alex to starve himself/herself to death, or even to do himself/herself any irreversible damage.
I already have some suspicion of a neurological problem (maybe LNE?).
Bad joke minus 10 points me.

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joseph July 19, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Some of these posts are leaving a horrible taste in my mouth, and have moved me to make a new philosophical argument against God.

1)God is omnibenevolent
2)God is omnipotent
3) Paula Driscoll exists
4) An omnibenevolent, omnipotent God would not allow Paula Driscoll to exist
5)Therefore God does not exist

I expect William Lane Craig and Platinga to contact me soon renouncing their faith

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joseph July 19, 2011 at 11:42 pm

that was overly mean of me and I can’t take it down…

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Ronald McD September 27, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Somebody give that poor kid a cheeseburger.

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Brian December 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Thank you Jesus for the love you show me each and every day. You are so wonderful and magnificent. I have been praying for a friend of mine to find the right job and You have heard my prayers. I know when “I” don’t see things happening, I know that You are working behind the scenes finding the right options with the most increase, promotion and joy. Thank you so much for your grace and your mercy that you bestow upon each one of us. I am so thankful for the blessings in my life and I continue to pray each and every day for my friend. Please bless him Lord. I trust in You and I know that Your will ….will be done…..Thank you so much. I love You and I know that You are in control. Amen.

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Polymeron December 8, 2011 at 6:56 am

@Brian

That is precisely it – why would you think that a loving god who is “in control” of things would hear your prayer for a friend to find a job, but would not heed the prayers of people who want to save their child from starving?

Would it not be more reasonable to conclude that your friend found a job without divine intervention?

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Daniel Stenning December 8, 2011 at 7:34 am

@Brian

To add to Polymerons well made point, heres two things mr Yahweh could have done to make human lives a little more bearable for the last 3000 or more years.

1) Revealed to man some herb or chemical recipe to make an effective pain killer. Man has been around for a very long time, and according to xtians, mr yahweh gave man a book with his helpful advice for us in it. It is only in the last 100-200 years that man has managed to come up via science – with effective painkillers. Before this a father would have to watch while their child gets amputated due to gangrene etc. And humans would have to suffer needlessly while being operated on. Maybe yahweh doesn’t care about pain. Thankfully humans do.

2) Through all of mankind’s history there have been criminals who have committed heinous crimes deserving of severe punishment including death. The problem is, for the vast portion of human history, the technology needed to provide exact and accurate forensic science to verify and even FIND evidence, has been non-existent. In fact it has only been in the last two decades that DNA forensics have gotten good enough to be really effective. Now heres the thing. What this means is – that for the vast part of mans existence innocent people have been jailed, tortured and executed for crimes which they did not commit. Now those innocents were NOT necessarily executed or punished because of man being evil, or any bad intent by others, simply due to the fact that humans had no knowledge of forensic techniques or technology. I think one of the worst things that man can to do a fellow man is to punish a person for crimes they did not commit.

Now yahweh could have A) given us sufficient revelation to teach us to at least do good forensics, and even revealed some technology to help us. or better still:

B) yahweh could have given us some miraculous means to ask god for an accurate “fleece” or “oracle” – i.e. a simple “YES HE DID IT” or “NO – INNOCENT” – Maybe by simply miraculously projecting a “video” of what happened on a rock wall for all to see.

Instead yahweh seemed quite happy to let man torture, jail and execute the WRONG MAN – for millennia. The non-existent Yahweh simply has never cared about giving man sufficient tools to ensure justice is done.

What kind of douche bag your imaginary sky daddy really is.

He is a “do fuck all” ( as we say here in the UK. ) deity.

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