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How do we know there's a God? What is he like?

Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby Belloch » Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:51 pm

But is the system he has perfectly fair?

All the stuff regarding hell says it isn't. The existence of hell itself as a looming threat in the afterlife can be considered immoral.

Some theists have started to claim that hell is not as described in the bible, so there is also misinformation and possible miscommunication from gods part.

It is perfectly fair to judge a god like this.
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Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:51 pm

> But is the system he has perfectly fair?

Yes, it is. According to the Bible, everyone will get exactly what is fair, right, and proper. There will be no one who can legitimately say, "Hey, that wasn't fair." Since God knows everything—events, backgrounds, environments, relationships, thoughts, and motives—nothing will escape his proper thoughts. And He will do exactly what should be done.

> All the stuff regarding hell says it isn't. The existence of hell itself as a looming threat in the afterlife can be considered immoral.

I don't believe hell is fire. Fire has no degrees of punishment. But we know that hell has degrees of punishment, so that people can be dealt with fairly, and many theologians believe that it may not be eternal for all people, but only for the people who insist on being rebellious for eternity. There's nothing immoral about that.

> Some theists have started to claim that hell is not as described in the bible, so there is also misinformation and possible miscommunication from gods part.

I wouldn't say misinformation and miscommunication. There's just more to it than the words. He expects us to use our brains and put things together. There's more to it than there seems on the surface. We can't just assess it superficially. There is almost nothing about hell in the Old Testament, and there's almost nothing in Paul. Almost everything we have is from Jesus, so we have to interpret that. Why did Jesus talk about it so much when no one else did? And he almost always brought it up in parables, so we have to try to weigh that.

The main point is the accountability. We are being called to love God and follow him, giving him our lives. If we refuse to do that, there will be repercussions, because he was clear about that part. If you think it's perfectly fair to judge a god like this, then it may also be perfectly fair for God to judge a person like this.
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Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby Nothing Clever » Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:44 pm

> I agree, but since you and everyone else on this forum has at least had opportunity to evaluate the evidences and claims for the judge's (God's) existence, then you won't be punished for unawareness, but only for rejection.

I'd agree with this if he actually showed himself to the world. As long as it takes faith, its not reasonable to punish someone for not believing.

> In that case we have to examine and evaluate definitions and be able to critique all pertinent components such as motive, extraneous causal factors, behavior, and even mitigating circumstances. I'm confident that you're making an assessment about God without the qualifying data to render a reliable decision.

What is the qualifying data? Or is this a mystery?

In what case would you say party X can punish party Y simply for not believing that party X exists? I mean lets say they've never actually seen party X. Or you know what, lets say they have. Even then, how is that okay?

That seems immoral to me.

> The first half of your sentence is noble, and the second half is unrealistic without accountability

Except at that point they're already dead. They can't do any harm anyway.

There's also the point that if the only reason you aren't doing bad is because you're afraid of the consequences, you're not a good guy anyway.

> But I was more responding to your concept of punishment.

So here's a question: lets say we remove a person from a population such that the person can no longer do any harm. Lets also say, hypothetically, that whatever we do to this person will not influence anyone else's decision on whether or not to commit the act this person committed.

Should that person be harmed still? For the sake of punishment, or justice, or retribution?

I'd say no. This is just a hypothetical.

> Forget about the "prison" part of what I said and focus on the "justice" part.

I don't care about justice insofar as it involves harming the perpetrator. Helping the victims is good. But I don't care to harm people for the sake of "justice". I do not subscribe to an eye for an eye or anything like that.

Doing harm to someone, just for justice, is of no use to me.

> But, to address your concern, it would be nice if prison were rehabilitative.

It'd be nice if that's all it was. I don't want harm to come to anyone.

> You're pretty cavalier about putting yourself in a position to decide. Have you seen "Bruce Almighty"? I know it's just comedic fiction, but possibly it's just not as simple as you think.

It'd be nice to get some reasoning here instead of whatever this is.

> Please read all of what I was saying, and don't just create a little straw man.

I did. You're welcome to actually explain if I made an error. Don't just say "you misread" or something, that's not helpful. Explain what the error is. You were saying that science would lose value if we didn't have problems to solve about children dying. At least, that's what it seemed you were saying to me. So I responded with "there are still reasons to do science even if kids aren't dying". Seems like a valid response.

Again, if there's a misunderstanding, explain it.

> Of course I'm not saying that. Please read all of what I was saying, and don't just create a little straw man.

Explain what you actually meant.

you know, when you read something that's wrong, you have two choices. You can assume the other person has bad intentions and is willfully misunderstanding, or you can assume they misunderstood.

Lets give each other the benefit of the doubt, yeah? I don't really have interest in talking to someone who's going to accuse me of stuff when perhaps it was just an honest mistake.

Would you like it if I accused you of having ill intentions any time I think you make a mistake?

> The problem is that God didn't cause the volcano. You're attributing to God an evil in which He was not involved.

Who did? I was under the impression god has a plan and created all of nature including volcanoes. Who made volcanoes? It certainly wasn't us.

> Omnipotence doesn’t mean there are no limits to what God can do (Mk. 6.5). It means God is able to do all things that are proper objects of his power. It is no contradiction that God is able to bring about whatever is possible, no matter how many possibilities there are

So you're saying it would be impossible for god to create earth without volcanoes?

I have no idea how you know that.

> He has complete power over nature, though often he lets nature take its course, because that’s what He created it to do.

I'm not understanding. This sounds like it means he has power to not have volcanoes erupt, or even exist. Are you saying he can do that, or not? Are they under his control? Stopping volcanic eruptions does not effect human free will.

> He can’t do what is logically absurd or contradictory (like make a square circle or a married bachelor)
> He can’t act contrary to his nature. Self-contradiction is not possible. He can only be self-consistent, and not self-contradictory.
> He cannot fail to do what he has promised. That would mean God is flawed.
> He cannot interfere with the freedom of man. If God can override human free will, then we are not free at all.
> He cannot change the past. Time by definition is linear in one direction only.

None of these points seem to apply to stopping a volcanic eruption.

> Of course, you think would be most cool. But it's a denial of the nature of reality.

Which you said he has complete control of. Are you saying its impossible for go to allow a person to walk on lava? But walking on water, that's fine. I'm not understanding.

So he is unable to stop volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, any of that? He just can't do it?

> Nah, I'm not suggesting "Bond Villain type stuff." I'm not advocating or suggesting releasing a disease, etc. so as to be the hero. That's a completely different picture than the Bible's revelation of God or anything I was saying. I agree that you'd be a monster for doing that. I totally agree.

You aren't suggesting we do it, you're just defending it. Weren't you saying that if it weren't for those diseases, science would be less valuable?
That implies that the value of science is greater than the pain and suffering and death of those children. Does it not?
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Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:44 pm

> I'd agree with this if he actually showed himself to the world. As long as it takes faith, its not reasonable to punish someone for not believing.

The Old Testament is filled with stories about him showing himself to the world. Jesus was God in the flesh, showing himself to the world. The stories we have in the book of Acts are of God showing himself to the world through the apostles. The Church is God showing himself to the world (hospitals, schools, orphanages, food for the hungry, etc etc etc), and millions if not billions of people have had experiences with God that is God showing himself to the world.

The problem is not that he hasn't shown himself but instead that many people who see the evidence refuse to accept any of it.

> What is the qualifying data? Or is this a mystery?

You have judged God as being "wrong" when you can't possible have all the information necessary to make a qualified conclusion to that effect.

> In what case would you say party X can punish party Y simply for not believing that party X exists?

No one is being punished for simply not believing, but rather for rejecting despite the evidence.

> There's also the point that if the only reason you aren't doing bad is because you're afraid of the consequences, you're not a good guy anyway.

I agree. We aren't supposed to come to God out of fear, but out of love. But it would be remiss of God not to mention the consequences, and then when everybody gets to eternity and God says, "You, you're to go over there," and then you could go, "Hey, nobody ever said anything about this!" So God tells you about the consequences, and everybody screams blood murder anyway. You criticize Him when He tells you, you would no doubt criticize Him if He didn't tell you.

> lets say we remove a person from a population such that the person can no longer do any harm.

That's what Europe did during the colonial era. They sent their prisoners to Georgia and to Australia and set them free. It wasn't too bad of a solution, imho.

> "Little straw man." I did. You're welcome to actually explain if I made an error.

"How about eliminating birth defects and earthquakes and tsunamis, just those?" You're belittling my argument, picking out a few pieces and saying, "Hey, so what would the harm be?" It's not taking into the account the entire situation or my thesis.

> Explain what the error is. You were saying that science would lose value if we didn't have problems to solve about children dying.

OK, it's easy to explain your error. What you claim I said is not what I said nor what I was saying. What I said was that if the world was not dynamic it would be inferior to the world we have and we would lose our capability to reason. Then what i said was that if God were to take over all natural and personal functions we would cease being human. What I assuredly did not say was that science would lose value if we didn't have problems to solve about children dying.

> Who did? I was under the impression god has a plan and created all of nature including volcanoes

God, of course, created the volcanoes. They serve a beneficial function to relieve pressure from Earth's interior and to create beneficial changes to the landscape and the atmosphere. What is NOT true is that God is behind every eruption. What is NOT true is that God causes the when, where, and extent of eruptions.

> So you're saying it would be impossible for god to create earth without volcanoes?

No. Again, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that a dynamic world is better than a static one, and that volcanoes serve a beneficial function in the grand scheme of things. In the world we have, volcanoes serve a purpose.

> I'm not understanding. This sounds like it means he has power to not have volcanoes erupt, or even exist. Are you saying he can do that, or not? Are they under his control? Stopping volcanic eruptions does not effect human free will.

What I'm saying is that God created nature to work, and it does. He doesn't make it do what it does. He created cause-and-effect, and He lets them do that. He created the world as a dynamic entity, and He lets it function as a dynamic entity.

> None of these points seem to apply to stopping a volcanic eruption.

Of course not. They pertain to the mistaken concept that an omnipotent God can do anything. They pertain to the mistaken concept that a God should stop any negative, painful, or suffering thing from happening. They pertain to the mistaken concept that God should interfere in nature continually to the point where cause-and-effect are unstudyable, where science is meaningless, where there is no order or predictability, and where our ability to reason is continually stymied by the lack of regularity in everything.

> So he is unable to stop volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, any of that? He just can't do it?

Of course he has the power to do that, but the question at hand is whether he is cruel and immoral because he doesn't stop it every time, and doesn't prevent all childhood illnesses, and doesn't prevent all injuries. The fact is that there is value in letting nature be nature, letting humans be humans, and God working with the world he created without negating it so continually that it becomes non-functioning.

> You aren't suggesting we do it, you're just defending it.

No I'm not. I wasn't defending that viewpoint in the least.

> Weren't you saying that if it weren't for those diseases, science would be less valuable?

No, I wasn't saying that. What I said was that a dynamic world was superior to a static world, and even necessary for science and human reason to function.

> That implies that the value of science is greater than the pain and suffering and death of those children. Does it not?

I have no idea if it implies that or not because it's not what I was saying or implying.
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Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby Charro » Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:50 pm

> but there are degrees of reward in heaven just as there are degrees of punishment in hell

That sounds more like Dante than the Bible.

> Everyone will get what he or she deserves.

Obviously not if we're forgiven any sin.
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Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:50 pm

> That sounds more like Dante than the Bible.

Dante had levels of hell. And he had purgatory. I'm not speaking of either of those, because the Bible doesn't teach either of those. What it does teach is degrees of punishment in hell.

* Matthew 11.22-24 & Luke 10.12: Jesus says it will be “more tolerable” for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than for the people of Capernaum. That would indicate to me a more harsh punishment and a less harsh punishment.
* Matthew 23.14: Jesus tells the Pharisees they will be punished more severely for the way they are deceiving the people and living as hypocrites.
* Revelation 20.13: Each is going to be judged according to what he has done. Since that is the case, then the punishments and rewards can’t be the same for everybody.
* and finally, Luke 12.47-48 (workers are punished with more or fewer blows). There are degrees of punishment, and even sins of ignorance are treated differently than sins of intention.

Why I bother to point this out is because often those who consider hell to be messed up are picturing the same punishment for all, which is most likely not the case, and infinite punishment for finite crimes, which may also not be the case.

> Obviously not if we're forgiven any sin.

If someone repents of his or her sins, and Jesus offers forgiveness and to separate those sins from that person because of their commitment to Christ, that becomes part of the picture of what or she deserves. If we are taking stock in the entire scope of possibilities, motives, behaviors, and mitigating factors, a change of heart, true repentance and a life change deserve at least a modicum of mercy. And since Jesus takes the sins of that person on Himself, along with the punishment he or she deserves, then justice is being served in a different way also.
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Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby Shape Shifter » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:04 pm

> You are in error if you think God is punishing unfairly or just to get his licks in. That's not a position the Bible advocates or teaches.

Do you believe that God tortures people for all eternity for disbelief or for failing to accept Jesus as their savior?

> "There's accountability in the here and now." I disagree. Hitler did what he did and then suicided. That's not a fair punishment for his atrocities. Stalin died at the ripe old age of 74, having lived out his full life after executing up to 20 million Russians. What accountability and punishment was that? Idi Amin was exiled to Saudi Arabia and lived out the rest of his life in comfort, dying in his late 70s. His only accountability and punishment was being removed from his own country, but he never got justice for his atrocities.

There are many who escape justice, that's why I mentioned the "here and now". Most of us work hard to hold all people accountable for their actions. Justice, like ethics, is our responsibility.

> You're making light of a terrible reality.

Don't mistake my terse answer with me "making light".

> No ability to think, no ability to love or receive love, no human traits available for you to even appreciate how painless life is. You wouldn't even know. We'd all be robotic morons with no semblance of personality, thoughts, or emotions.

Very much so! Such a condition would be like death for all of humanity. I weigh that state as preferable to the suffering of the innumerable children that died in fear and agony over the eons.

> Omnipotence doesn’t mean there are no limits to what God can do (Mk. 6.5). ... He has complete power over nature, though often he lets nature take its course, because that’s what He created it to do.

"He has complete power over nature..." but not over plate tectonics and earthquakes? Doesn't that seem a bit of an arbitrary limitation?

> What omnipotence means is that God’s will is never frustrated. What he chooses to do, he accomplishes, for he has the ability to do it.

So God just isn't interesting in creating an earthquake and tsunami free world?

> There are, however, certain qualifications of this all-powerful character of God. God can't just "do anything." That's not what omnipotence is. He cannot arbitrarily do anything whatever we may conceive of in our imagination.

> He can’t do what is logically absurd or contradictory (like make a square circle or a married bachelor) He can’t act contrary to his nature. Self-contradiction is not possible. He can only be self-consistent, and not self-contradictory. He cannot fail to do what he has promised. That would mean God is flawed.

What's your justification for these conclusions?

> He cannot interfere with the freedom of man. If God can override human free will, then we are not free at all.
> He cannot change the past. Time by definition is linear in one direction only.

Who or what defined time like this? Is Time defined independently of God?

> Leibniz & Ross philosophically state omnipotence in what’s called a “result” theory: theories that analyze omnipotence in terms of the results an omnipotent being would be able to bring about. These results are usually thought of as states of affairs or possible worlds: a way the world could be. A possible world is a maximally consistent state of affairs, a complete way the world could be. The simplest way to state it may be, “for any comprehensive way the world could be, an omnipotent being could bring it about that the world was that way.” Ross formulated it as “Since every state of affairs must either obtain or not, and since two contradictory states of affairs cannot both obtain, an omnipotent being would have to will some maximal consistent set of contingent states of affairs, that is, some one possible world.”

"...omnipotent being would have to will..."

> In other words, the existence of earthquakes are not a denial or negation of God's omnipotence.

So God is omnipotent but has no free will?

> Tornado, by definition, can't be the same way. A tornado is centripetal wind force, not neutrino bombardment. Ah, diversity in nature.

Who or what defined centripetal, wind, and force, and made it fundamentally different than neutrino bombardment?
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Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:07 pm

> Do you believe that God tortures people for all eternity for disbelief or for failing to accept Jesus as their savior?

Not necessarily. There are different viewpoints on it (reconciliationism, semi-restorationism, annihilationism) that claim that the only people who will be punished for all eternity are the ones who continue in their rebellion against God for all eternity.

> There are many who escape justice, that's why I mentioned the "here and now". Most of us work hard to hold all people accountable for their actions. Justice, like ethics, is our responsibility.

I agree. But where we have failed, God will not. After death there will be an authentic judgment that won't let such evil people off with a hand slap.

> Don't mistake my terse answer with me "making light".

OK

> "He has complete power over nature..." but not over plate tectonics and earthquakes? Doesn't that seem a bit of an arbitrary limitation?

He has power over it, but it was created to operate, to do what it was designed to do. What God does *not* do is cause each eruption, determining where and when and to what extent. Nature was designed to function, and it does.

> So God just isn't interesting in creating an earthquake and tsunami free world?

Again, this sounds like belittling. Earthquakes (and the occasional tsunamis that result from them) have an important role to play in the proper functioning of the planet. A dynamic world is not only superior to a static one, but is also necessary for life as we know it.

> What's your justification for these conclusions?

What the Bible says about God, and using the principles of logic.

> Who or what defined time like this? Is Time defined independently of God?

We are still figuring out what time is and how it works. It turns out it's not a constant, it may be a dimension, and some recent observations of black holes are turning our ideas of time on their heads. Is time independent of God? Yes. God is not defined by time, and time is not defined by God. Time is something God ordered to function the way it does (Day 1 of creation, Gn. 1.3-5), and so it does.

> So God is omnipotent but has no free will?

No, that's a non sequitur. Any being that is self-aware is therefore also self-directed. And any being that is self-directed has free will.

> Who or what defined centripetal, wind, and force, and made it fundamentally different than neutrino bombardment?

God, as creator, did. Without diversity there could be no subject-object relationship, and therefore creation would be impossible. Without diversity personality would be impossible. There would be no foundation for knowledge, love, morality, or ethics. Ultimate reality would be a bare unity about which nothing could be said.
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Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby Belloch » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:21 am

If you found someone you want to love but they don't want to love you back (and it's not that they hate you, they are only indifferent towards you), is there justification to punish them?

What if this person you want to love finds your past actions disgusting? Does that allow you to punish them?

If this person wants to live his or her own life without any contact from you, does it call for punishment?
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Re: Why should we worship God?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:32 am

> If you found someone you want to love but they don't want to love you back (and it's not that they hate you, they are only indifferent towards you), is there justification to punish them?

I'm glad you're staying in the conversation. You've missed the point of what the Bible is saying. God is life. To be with God is to have life. If you don't want to be with God, there's only one possible consequence: non-life. God is love. To be with God is to have love. If you don't want to be with God, there's only one alternative: to be without love.

Suppose we were at poolside and I invited you to come swim. You said, "I don't want to get wet." OK, the only possible state then is that you stay dry.

You are not being punished for not loving back. You are instead choosing to exclude yourself from life and love. The only possible state, if you reject life and love, is non-life and non-love. Your "punishment" is the experience and status you have chosen.

You seem to think God is whacking you unfairly, when what is actually happening is that you are choosing death and isolation and then blaming God for punishing you.

> What if this person you want to love finds your past actions disgusting? Does that allow you to punish them?

Then you have fallen into the common misunderstanding characteristic of people who haven't probed deeply enough to discover what's really going on in the Bible. God hasn't done anything disgusting. There is more to the story than there seems on the surface.

> If this person wants to live his or her own life without any contact from you, does it call for punishment?

Suppose you choose to live your life without contact from food or water, and you blame another entity for punishing you? No. You have brought about the consequences yourself by your own choices. No one needs to punish you; decisions have ramifications.
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