April 17th, 2013
Now, I know this isn’t a term heard often but the imprecatory psalms are the psalms that make requests or desires known to God that are… well… evil. Here’s a few.
Let death come deceitfully upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol, for evil is in their dwelling, in their midst. Ps. 55.15
O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth… Ps. 58.6
May they be blotted out of the book of life and may they not be recorded with the righteous. Ps. 69.28
Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. Ps. 109.9
How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock. Ps. 137.9
I would encourage you to go to these passages and read them yourself. Understand the contexts in which these words and thoughts were expressed. Let’s not be too quick to say, “There’s no wrong in this!”, ”This is the Word of God, these Psalms cannot be evil!” I’m not saying the psalms are evil, I’m saying that aspects of what are being expressed are evil. The psalmist, David for the most part, is desiring justice and vengeance. He wants them to have death be surprised upon them, for them to be buried alive, for their teeth to be knocked out, for them not to receive salvation, and for their children to die in the manner in which his people’s children have been murdered. I’m just guessing but if I had not set up these imprecatory psalms in a biblical context already you would think that they were pretty evil–no?
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April 16th, 2013
Just because you’ve read the Bible do you think that you know God? You could probably predict what Hebrew word was used for a specific word based on the context… but you’ve never felt the passion behind David’s imprecatory prayers and the prayers of suffering. You can parse every Greek word Paul uses in the book of Romans… but you’ve never felt the riddance and self-betrayal like he felt in chapter seven.
You can tell me how to encourage someone or what to do when counseling a depressed friend… but you can’t put yourself in his mind and ask yourself what it’s like to be him. You equate by analogy. You can tell me how much you love your neighbor… but you condition it. You can tell me how much God loves you… but you can’t understand the death of God and his spiritual and physical anguish as he passed from death to new life with you in mind.
You can quote Scripture, Ephesians 6 and the psalms, describing spiritual warfare and what to do… but you’ve never resisted sin to the point of blood. You can quote theological works that systematically define God and who he is… but you’ve never experienced what it’s like to align planets and create stars, to watch you spit on his creation and cross, the gifts he gave for you for the very reason of your anticipated existence.
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January 21st, 2013
I am currently a college student with a strong interest in apologetics. I’ve seen that, by and large, the arguments that apologists use seem to have shown themselves logically sound and hard to disprove despite decades or centuries of them being around. So the theist’s arguments seem to have many strong points. What would be considered the “weak spots” of the apologetic arguments? What arguments might the skeptic use that have the most potential to show that theism is false and that God does not exist?
Thank you. (Shawn)
This is a very interesting question since it seems to me that I’d have to be showing those at the table what my hand is. There are few weak spots in apologetic arguments and I think the two I see most concerning are 1) poor methodology and 2) theoretical implications for parts of the arguments/defense.
Let’s first look at some poor methodology. Most arguments you’ll find in the deductive, inductive, or abductive form. I’m a staunch proponent of abductive arguments. Here’s an example of William Lane Craig’s fine-tuning argument.
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December 15th, 2012
If everything God does is GOOD, and if God controls EVERYTHING, then it would be BAD had one less child been murdered in Newtown, CT.
This is the argument we find particularly among open theists but I would consider it an important existential question. It primarily focuses on the problem of evil and the hiddenness of God. Here’s the argument in a formal depiction:
- If everything God does is Good [and]
- If God controls everything [by weak and strong actualization]
- Then, it would be bad had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
- It would have been good had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
- Therefore, either not everything God does is good or God does not control everything.
- God is good and everything he does is good.
- Therefore, God does not control everything.
It seems like we are posed with interesting dilemma (at least for the Christian who affirms that God’s means of providence is not exclusively causal, but that he controls all things).
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November 30th, 2012
I would like to ask all of you to wear purple at least once this week for Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week. As some of you know, I’ve been in a tough battle with the disease for a while now and I’ve been in chronic pain since last summer. For more on my story please see my links:
Originally blogged at My Journey With Crohns.
As a result of a federal bill introduced by Senator Harry Reid
(D-NV) and Congressman Andrew Crenshaw
(R-FL-4) (passed in 2011 [LINK: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/sres199/text
], Congress declared December 1-7 to be Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week to educate Americans about the diseases and encourage people to join in the effort to find a cure for IBD. This resolution was passed in thanks to some great Senators and Representatives who cosponsored it including:
· Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
· Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
· Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
· Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
October 25th, 2012
Below is the link for the audio of the VT debate on the existence of God I was a part of earlier this year.
Also, for more information and my take on the debate you can view the video and comments through the link below.
September 11th, 2012
Rowe makes a strong positive case for why atheism is true. He supposes that, as especially in the absence of other arguments, anyone who observes the amount of human and animal suffering in the world and the truth of premise 1 in the evidential argument (that there are probably pointless evils) then this person would be rationally justified in believing atheism to be true. He presents two basic forms of the argument: the logical and the evidential problems of evil. The logical problem of evil argues that the existence of God and the existence of evil are logically contradictory claims. However, these aren’t explicitly contradictory—they are implicit (i.e. a married bachelor is an implicit contradiction and a married non-married person is an explicit contradiction). Rowe recognizes that we must abandon the logical problem of evil because the contradiction has yet to be proved (though he states that just because it has yet to be demonstrated doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one).
The evidential problem is a probabilistic argument, which argues that given the apparent [pointless] evil it is more probable that God does not exist than if God does exist. He uses the example of a fawn suffering for no apparent reason. Given that God would prevent this from happening and the fact that it does happen then God doesn’t seem to exist. Rowe seems to favor this form of the problem of evil over the logical problem.
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July 20th, 2012
Today, July 20, 2012, marks the first anniversary of my Crohn’s surgery. I have had Crohn’s for eight years and it has won the battle over a few organs. I was in serious pain for just over a month prior to the surgery. I spent my birthday last year, July 18, in pain. The next day I was going to go out with some friends to TGI Friday’s for a Jack Daniel’s steak to celebrate my birthday. I wasn’t feeling well that afternoon and took a nap. I woke up with a 105 degree fever. Leah rushed me to the hospital. I was not a good patient. I was angry. I refused to take the CT scan at first because I knew what they would find. I gave in. I didn’t know what they would find. I was wrong. They found that my colon was perforated and I needed emergency surgery. They let my body rest for the night in the ICU. It was a rough night…
(Please click here to help me and others.)
I remember the nurses pushing my bed into the room where they prepped me for surgery. I was, of course, having fun with all the drugs I was on, but I knew what was going on. My Dad and step-mother drove out from Richmond for my surgery. I’m so glad they did. I saw them before going in thinking, “What if this is the last time I see them?” The staff let Leah back in one more time before I went unconscious. She had to hold on my wedding ring while I was in surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how many times he’s done this surgery and he said that my condition was “pretty bad” but that he has done thousands and this sort of thing was his “bread and butter.” I trusted him. These surgeries happen all the time, so why was I so nervous deep down?
Before Leah came back into the prep area to get my ring, I prayed. Even though I was high as a kite on the dilaudid and Valium it was the most serious prayer I ever made. I prayed for the surgeon and that I’d make it out okay. I felt like I couldn’t even pray for no complications. Even if complications happened I didn’t care, I just wanted to come out on the other side. This was the first time I seriously entertained the thought that I might actually die and these are my last few moments awake. Without the surgery I could have easily died in a short period of time, but I didn’t think that was going to happen. I’ll come back to this in a bit.
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July 12th, 2012
If God has a sufficient reason for permitting evil in some possible world then he has a sufficient reason in all possible worlds. Given simplicity, God is perfectly similar in every possible world we can conceive. He never wills differently, he never acts differently, he never knows differently, and he never loves differently. If modal realism is true and evil exists then the probability overall or on balance for justice is precisely 1. Thus, the problem of evil is an insufficient objection given whatever God’s interaction is in this world. It would be morally equivalent to his actions in other worlds with evil. If God is absolutely similar in all possible worlds and if he has a morally sufficient reason to permit evil in some possible world then he is morally justified in permitting evil in all possible worlds (even if some worlds are more bad than good because God would be acting towards the same telos). The following is a modified version of Alvin Plantinga’s ontological argument. In it I include the necessary entailment of a morally sufficient reason for permitting evil.
P1. The property of being maximally great is exemplified in some possible world.
P2. The property of being maximally great is equivalent, by definition, to the property of being maximally excellent in every possible world.
P3. The property of being maximally excellent entails the properties of omniscience and moral perfection.
P4. The property of moral perfection necessarily entails a morally sufficient reason for permitting states of affairs that are overall more evil than good.
P5. A universal property is one that is exemplified in every possible world or none.
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