Answering Snoop, Part 3

Snoop:

Let’s just get down to business here, shall we?

So you jump from life is complex to that the Bible is true? I completely agree. I mean all these incredible advancements in science, engineering, and technology clearly reflect a biblical world view.

What I did was provide a rational case for (a) the premise of a higher intelligence, and (b) the premise that Man is created in the image of that higher intelligence. The Bible happens to fit that model. I also challenged you to come up with a better model. While you have asserted a naturalistic model–which is definitely a start–you have not developed that model intellectually.

I mean we now have undeniable proof to back up biblical claims such as: the world is flat, donkeys and snakes can speak, giants existed, morality was originated from fruit, men used to live to be almost a thousand years old, a man built a huge ship and collected every animal in pairs so as to avoid a coming flood that we also have proof of, the world is only 6,000 years old, dinosaurs are a myth, prayer is just as effective as medicine, pi equals three, true believers cannot be bitten by snakes, shellfish and pig are dangerous to eat or touch, men can die and came back to life, that a woman’s menstruation is both unclean and sinful, man has the biology to not die if he were perfectly moral and sinless, there is a heaven and hell as well as a second hell that everyone seems to forget about, that angels and demons interfere with political and personal matters, people can become possessed by demons and have them live inside their body controlling them, that a man could walk on water, a woman can be spontaneously turned into a pillar of salt, that above our hell and flat world we also have a ocean heaven and regular heaven, and on and on! How can anyone be so BLIND to these biblical TRUTHS.

Dude, your sarcasm borders on entertaining and makes for a nice sound bite on occasion, even if that occasional sound bite embodies more sizzle than steak.

The Bible makes no assertion that the earth is flat. Does your house have only 4 walls? One need not believe in a flat earth when speaking of the “4 corners of the earth” or “the ends of the earth”. (Certainly you understand the difference between literal and metaphorical, so quit insulting your own intelligence.)

Moreover, the Bible does not require that the earth and universe be only 6,000 years old. In fact, if you’d bother to read the narrative of Genesis 1, you might notice that—between verses 1 and 2—there is significant room for latitude in understanding in terms of time frames.

Complicating matters is the issue of frame of reference. It is no small matter, because in one frame of reference a small time—one second—can be thousands of years in a different frame of reference.

(It is science, Snoop. Not mere speculation, either: this has been verified empirically. Go back and study relativity. Pay particular attention to issues of time dilation. Then get back to me.)

Nor does the Bible suggest that dinosaurs are a myth. Entire species go extinct every day, Snoop. As I said, there is plenty of latitude within the corpus of Scripture regarding the age of the earth. The same is true regarding what happened to various animal groups.

Now don’t get me wrong, Snoop. I understand your anti-supernatural suppositions. At the same time, if one accepts the premise of a great intelligence that designed intricate systems to regulate processes for every manner of organism—from single-cell bacteria to human beings with many different systems, all of which are well-integrated—then it is quite rational to accept that such an intelligence can operate outside the natural zone. Ergo, interruptions of the natural order—where a donkey may speak, people may be cured of catastrophic diseases or conditions, people may rise from the dead (or in the cases of Enoch or Elijah, not die at all), water may become wine, etc.—indeed become quite plausible.

As for various Old Testament laws regarding dietary standards, menstruation, etc., you seem to be missing the larger issue: in the Old Testament, God gives us a portrait of His character against the backdrop of our fallenness.—and it is not a pretty backdrop—all while pointing to the eventuality of the Messiah. But more on that on another day.

In response to your seven biblical observations; you need to slow down. You are making WAY too many assumptions here.

Actually, you are missing my point. You are the one who has suggested that if God exists, then you are more compassionate than He is. You are the one who has spewed rhetorical questions suggesting that the God of the Bible is cruel, unjust, and lacking compassion.

I am simply pointing out that if the God of the Bible is indeed the Creator, then He is under no obligation to act according to your—or my—arbitrary definitions of justice and compassion. If He is the Creator and We are the Creation, then we are subject to His demands, not the other way around.

First off why even analyze the Bible as something true if you have no reason to? Couldn’t you analyze any book as absolute truth if you wanted to using the same process? “Something in this book makes sense so I’m going to analyze that and ignore everything else herp derp.”

I could, but for such a book to be a candidate, it would be a question of how well it fits the data. What I am saying is that the Biblical model fits the data better than any other model. You are more than welcome to attempt to produce a better model.

You’re also basically saying that anything God omits or does not explain falls under the umbrella of being unnecessary? How incredibly convenient for him and you. Really doesn’t require you to think too much on that one. I guess ignorance really is bliss.

The issue is where we set our respective bars. I accept that the preponderance of evidence is in favor of the God of the Bible, and that other frameworks–including the secularist model–don’t come close. Does that mean that every every question I have is answered to my satisfaction? Of course not. But that raises the question: Does God have to answer every question I have—to my satisfaction—in order for me to accept what is already a preponderance of evidence in His favor? Of course not. And that is my point: what I have given you is my assessment based on a preponderance of evidence based on what we tangibly know to be true in science, engineering, and technology.

I have lots of questions for God. But the answers to those questions are hardly deal-breakers. This is because the case for God is already “close enough” in my book. I’m an engineer; I’m all about “close enough”.

You want a perfect God who is the ultimate standard of good, yet when he displays characteristics that he himself declare sinful in others, you also want to look the other way at his own transgressions. Now, God can not just be excused while he holds his creation to the same standard. Does Jesus not constantly condemn hypocrisy? Therefore God cannot be excused of his own sin. By excusing him and not expecting an answer to his own faults, you are having it both ways.

You tend to forget something, Snoop. I’ll sum it up in one sentence: “It’s good to be king!

You see, Snoop, if God is the Creator, then what He does with His own Creation is His own prerogative, and He is under no obligation to act according to your expectations of fairness.

If He is the only God, then it is His prerogative to demand of Creation what He wishes to demand.

Yes, that fact can be very disconcerting, given that if He is God, then we are not.

At the same time, if He is God—and if He made you—then who are you to judge Him? After all, it would be the height of arrogance for the creation to judge the Creator.

Let’s use some logic here. God is moral and does not sin. God is the ultimate example of living correctly and without sin. God murdered babies in Egypt by putting a plague that kills the first born of every house within Egypt. Murdering infants is therefore not wrong because if it is then God has sinned, but we know that God does not sin. Therefore abortion is permitted through God’s example. How is killing an embryo any worse than killing a baby? I mean if you think about it, embryos are the size of a peanut and do not contain nervous systems. Don’t you think killing babies is much more extreme? That being said, according to God it is still moral to kill even babies. So you’re down with abortion, right Amir? I mean, you don’t disagree with God do you? That’s my problem; God is not held to his own standard. So your argument is dismissed completely. Let’s say I’m wrong, then why allow such a thing to even be concluded from the Bible. Why is God such a terrible communicator of his own message?

Again, you are completely missing the point. For one thing, if God is the Creator, then He has the right to deal with Creation as He sees fit. As they say in the military: rank has its privileges. And ya can’t outrank the King of Kings.

Morality is an evolutionary trait. Not killing each other benefits the survival of a tribe. I mean, that’s step number one isn’t it? Killing people outside that tribe who threaten it is in benefit of the tribe. Morality is a social contract that we have come up with to make survival more likely. Doesn’t this also explain why killing in itself is not right or wrong? So if you think about it, God and morality can’t coincide because there are no absolutes or ultimate standard. Consider the golden rule as an example of survival of the fittest. I mean come on Amir it’s 2013. Go to Barnes and Noble and pick up a book to see what you’ve been missing out on since the bronze age.

The problem with your case is that it is based entirely on relativism. Not killing each other may or may not strengthen a tribe. The tribal leadership may, however, decide that–based on the metrics of their own choosing–killing entire segments within the tribe, even if those segments have not posed a threat to anyone else in the tribe, may be within the best interests of the survival of that tribe. Others within the tribe may disagree. But the morality of such a move is totally dependent on who has the superior firepower.

And let’s not confine the discussion to tribes. If humans are mere animals–and there is no God–then there is no objective case against the use of eugenics–or even genocide–in order to purify the human race. After all, it is scientific fact that some races are more intelligent than others, and it is scientific fact that some races are more civilized than others, just as it is scientific fact that some tribes are more productive than others.

A major issue you seem to be overlooking is that atheism hardly requires civilization. If there is no God and if John wants Fred’s wife, then there is no objective case for why it would be wrong for John to kill Fred and then take the widow–possibly by force–to be his wife. And if John gives her a clitoridectomy to mitigate the chances of any other man wanting her, then that is his prerogative. After all, because there is otherwise no objective case for her equality, she’s between a rock and a hard place. After all, minus God, you are left with the law of the jungle. He’s stronger, therefore he wins.

Nor do we have an objective case that you have any intrinsic rights–to include property rights–as an individual in any atheist framework. This is because you have no objective means to suggest that the fruits of your labor actually belong to you. The State may decide that you belong to them. Ditto for your wife, kids, and property. In fact, Atheist governments are prone to such power grabs. Mao (China), Pol Pot (Cambodia), Stalin (USSR), and the Kim dynasty (North Korea) are proof of that. Fundamental rights become a question of which side has the better firepower.

Even in the less-collectivist West, we cannot be so sure of fundamental rights in any Atheistic paradigm, as freedom is–in historical terms–a very recent development, a Christian one no less. It was the Christian–not the Atheist–after all, who led the charge to free the slave. What is often overlooked is that the modern Civil Rights movement is the product of the Christian. When you venture outside the Christianized West–especially in Africa, the Middle East, and even the Far East–slavery continues to be a very ugly mess. Oh, and slavery is re-emerging in post-Christian Europe. Evolving morality? Not hardly…

But hey…in an Atheistic framework, there is no objective reason why we should bother with such issues. This is because those who are trafficking in persons–who tend to have deep pockets–are higher on the totem pole than those being trafficked. If Natural Selection is the law, then it is no less valid to cynically forget the victims and say, “It sucks to be them” than it is to send SEAL Team 6 to rescue those so enslaved.

Also, don’t give me that crap about “Oh, well you never really understood God in the first place”. Please. Do you? You’re saying that God can’t let us have a perfect existence without giving us free will? So what else can God not do? I thought he was omnipotent but I guess not. I was wrong to have such a big view of God.

My observation is that this loss of faith–while rare–is a process, and that usually involves one or more adverse experiences in which a person has certain expectations about God that don’t play out the way he or she expects. And it is a lot more than an intellectual exercise. Perhaps you may wish to articulate how your experiences came into such conflict with your understanding of God.

As for God’s omnipotence, I’d say your problem is that He does not exercise it the way you wish He would. Usually, the argument goes, “If God is so powerful, then why does He not intervene to stop [insert tragic event] from happening?”

Open Theists would say that God is not capable of stopping certain things. Hard Calvinists would say that God ordained for all these hardships to happen.

Rachael–and yourself–seem to pride yourselves on freedom. Rachael even says, “Freedom is my god.” The allure of freedom is quite huge, and I can empathize with it, being a libertarian myself.

Did God permit “evil” or merely “choice”? Assuming that the Bible is giving us the truth here, then that means Adam and Eve had only one hard command, and that command came with a very specific warning. It was a simple command, and the stated consequences were succinct.

As for your contentions about God, I cannot help but ask that if you drank a bottle of drain cleaner even though you understood the posted warning, is it the manufacturer’s fault that you ended up having your stomach removed?

If you were pregnant and knew that drinking alcohol is harmful to your baby–these are posted warnings, after all–and you get drunk anyway and your child is born with defects, is it the beverage company’s fault even though they posted a warning and you knew better?

Still, reading the Biblical text, it is fair to ask where the temptation originated.

Did the serpent call them over to the tree and tell them the great benefits of eating from it? No.

In fact, Eve was gazing at the tree, and Adam was with her at the time. The serpent entered a dialogue with her and convinced her to eat of the fruit.

But did God cause that to happen? No. She and Adam were at the tree by their own choice. They were under no compulsion to be where they were at the time. She was admiring what she was forbidden to have. She allowed the serpent to convince her to eat the fruit of that tree, even though she knew better. Adam–who also knew better–did nothing to object.

Eve was deceived, but she was deceived into partaking of something she already wanted: she (and Adam) were clearly lusting after that fruit. Adam openly rebelled. Both disobeyed. No one forced it on them; they freely chose to do what they did.

As a result, God cursed the earth, Man was driven from the garden, Man was stricken with the curse of death, Man was stricken with hardship (thorns and thistles), and childbearing became very risky and painful. (Even then, God gave a promise of eventual defeat of the serpent.)

So from that passage, it is not God’s fault that Man chose to disobey. As with Rachael, freedom was the god for Adam and Eve, and here we are with the consequences.

My point is that God permitted choice–freedom. That the outcome of the choice–that God warned against making–has worked out disastrously isn’t God’s fault. That it has played out so severely in our frame of reference is quite likely due to the fact that rebellion–in God’s frame of reference–is a very big cosmic deal.

In Scripture, we get occasional glimpses of what goes on behind the scenes, and the antics of Lucifer/Satan are indeed quite ugly and far-reaching. That we experience some of that ugliness in our frame of reference should give us pause about the gravity of rebellion in God’s frame of reference, because believers will end up there one day, and will be like the angels. And a large sector of said angels once rebelled…

In fact, that God has provided a way of redemption for Man is nothing short of amazing, given what we see in the Biblical text. After all, none of the angels who rebelled–to include Lucifer/Satan–are given such a path.

Amir, how many abortion clinics have you stood in front of offering to adopt if the mothers would consider giving birth? How many homeless people do you allow to live in your house? Do you tell your wife to cover her head and remain silent in church? I know you probably tithe or donate money to charity, but you know you will have mansions in Heaven, right? You should be given in proportion to that. So I think your view of God is very limited. You love him because he first loved you? He must not love you very much then because I truly doubt you have taken up your cross and lived a selfless life. Is there more you can do? Then do it. Didn’t your Christ suffer and die? Why is it that your sitting at a computer when you could be off ministering in other countries? That being said, you don’t even need to leave your city to do God’s work. Do you witness to people as Jesus did? Do you baptize others as Jesus did? Do you humbly serve sinners as Jesus did? If your knowledge and love for Jesus reflects your life, then it should be in incredible life. Can you truly say that of yourself? You know damn well that you’re just as selfish as I am.

No question about it. One of the main reasons I am a Christian is that the Biblical model provides the most accurate assessment of the human condition: one of corruption and fallenness. And that is on everyone, which includes you and me.

You see, every other religion–to include Atheism–presupposes that Man is either (a) inherently good or (b) self-redeemable or (c) self-perfectable.

And yet the annals of history reveal no such truth about humanity. The more advanced we become technologically, the more efficient we become at doing harm. In the last century, more people have been killed in war–and acts of peacetime atrocity–than in the previous centuries combined. Technology has given us the capacity to kill people in masses that Ghengis Khan wished he had.

I could even boil it down to the individual level: no one has to teach a child how to be bad. In all my experience at teaching children, I’ve never once had to teach bad behavior to a child. Lying comes naturally. Temper tantrums come naturally. Selfishness comes naturally. The desire to steal comes naturally. That is because the tendency to do those things is a matter of the heart. Parenting is difficult for this very reason: simply coaching the right behavior doesn’t cut it, because programming a behavior doesn’t guarantee character.

Left to ourselves, humanity is on a collision course with extinction. Our character–combined with our advancements in technology–guarantees it. Even setting aside nuclear weapons–of which we have enough to destroy civilization–conventional weapons are themselves becoming increasingly lethal on a mass scale. To argue against me is to argue against human “progress.”

But which worldview properly assesses the human condition and provides an answer?

My contention is that the Biblical model provides the most accurate answer. You are more than welcome to provide an intellectually-developed model for your naturalistic, secular case, and I will be more than happy to publish it here for debate.

Also, what if your wrong? Don’t you see how much hate you’ve spread? I’m not too familiar with your blog (even though I did see it on the cover of TIME and Rolling Stone) but what I’ve already skimmed through shows a irrational conservative mind that fears atheism, homosexuality, and anything else it doesn’t understand. True prejudice is the hatred of what we do not understand. You can believe whatever stupid thing you want, but when you start voting against progress and forcing your delusion into other peoples lives then you’ve crossed a line. Let’s just say God doesn’t exist, what would you have done differently in your life? If you respond to anything just answer me that one question.

To answer that one question: if there was no God, I would have been a lot more self-indulgent and materialistic. I probably would have become a lawyer–at a time when it still had an economic tradeoff–and would have been quite shrewd and aggressive in that practice. I would have been more hedonistic in my personal life, and would not have had even close to the regard for my fellow human that I have had as a Christian. My family was raised to be fairly materialistic, and that would have been my mindset, only on proverbial steroids.

Back to your other contentions, though. I must admit I had quite the chuckle. I don’t “fear” atheists, homosexuals, or anything else of this world. Heck, I have had many co-workers over the years who were atheists, homosexuals, as well as Hindu, Muslim, Bahai, Buddhist, and Pagan. I have eaten and drank with them, and many of them are even my friends. MrsLarijani will even vouch for the fact that–while I loathe feminism–I am very good buddies with many a feminist. Fear them? Bah! I do loathe their ideas, and I understand them a lot better than you think I do.

Like you, I deal with the real world. I write about that, as it pertains to this country: that our country is heading toward a post-Christian society that will last at least one generation. Do I “fear” that? Hardly. Quite the contrary, I look forward to it. The Church in America is long overdue for a housecleaning, and this is probably a catalyst toward that end.

To be honest, I already know for absolute certainty that your God does not exist. Listen, I’m convinced I’m right and you know you’re not going to change my mind with arguments I’ve already heard. I also know that you know for absolute certainty that your God does exist and any argument I give you isn’t going to change your mind. Trust me, I was in your shoes once. Nothing that you have said is something I also wouldn’t have said. It blows my mind talking to you because I’m talking to my 15 year old self. The difference is that I’m on the side of the fence that you will never be on.

I will never be on your side of the fence because–unlike you–my studies (and experiences) have convinced me exactly the opposite: that not only does God exist, but that the God that does exist is indeed the God of the Bible.

I have called upon that God for numbers of things in life. I didn’t always get the answer I wanted, and sometimes I received the answer I wanted, but not on the timetable for which I was hoping. But God has provided for all my needs, even if not my wants. Yes, I have suffered adversities in various forms, and many of those adversities were not the result of any choice on my part. I haven’t always received what I earned, or received the breaks that I deserved. I have had to deal with medical issues that the average bear doesn’t have to face. I have had family-related strife that was no fault of my own. I even stumbled and created some baggage of my own at times.

But you know what? None of those things makes God bad; it simply means I live in a cursed world as a member of a race that is fallen and corrupted, for which God has provided a means of eventual deliverance, even if this life isn’t always fair.

You can reject that if you wish; I’m all for your freedom to do that.

At the same time, I’ve made my case. I made it on the basis of science, technology, and engineering, and have concluded that the Biblical model is more accurate than any other religious model, to include Atheism.

I’m all for the free market of ideas, and the ball is in your court to (a) show that my case is anything other than rational, and/or (b) come up with a more rational, intellectually-developed model.

2 thoughts on “Answering Snoop, Part 3

  1. “the premise of a great intelligence that designed intricate systems to regulate processes for every manner of organism—from single-cell bacteria to human beings with many different systems, all of which are well-integrated—”

    this always blows me away … i mean, how many varieties of each species do we have? and we keep finding more? how many different kinds of frogs, even, are there? i always chuckle when someone gives a specific number of species in a given area, such as the ocean, because we’re always discovering more and more and more. i don’t think we’ll every know how vast God’s creation is!

    i also wonder at how God loves beauty when i realize all the beauty in all of creation that no human eye will ever see. God created beauty for us, yes, but He also created it for Him! i find that truly awsome!

  2. just finished reading the whole post – excellent, Amir.

    i come back to … having ears to hear and eyes to see. i don’t understand that completely, but i know it’s true. my brother is his own god; i don’t even have these conversations with him anymore because his ears are closed to the truth. it breaks my heart.

    to Snoop and others – Amir it tough, but he’s fair, and he has more compassion than an army of men and women put together. he does not harbor bitterness, and while not perfect, he strives to live out in his life what he believes in his heart and soul and mind to be truth.

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