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Hagee on Hagee:

Hagee explains his remarks on the Holocaust:

What has been disappointing has been to see my life's work - the great passion of my life - mischaracterized and attacked. I have dedicated my life to combating anti-Semitism and supporting the State of Israel. In taking a stand for Israel I have received death threats from anti-Semites and neo-Nazis, and I've had the windows of my car blown out beneath the windows of the rooms in which my children slept. To hear people who know nothing about me or my life's work claim that I somehow excuse the Holocaust is simply heartbreaking.

Let me be clear — to assert that I in any way condone the Holocaust or that monster Adolf Hitler is the worst of lies. I have always condemned the horrors of the Holocaust in the strongest of terms. But even more importantly, my abhorrence of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism has never stopped with mere words.

I have devoted most of my adult life to ensuring that there will never be a second Holocaust. I have worked tirelessly to eliminate the sin of anti-Semitism from the Christian world and to ensure the survival of the State of Israel.

The fact is that all people of faith have had to wrestle with the question of why a sovereign God would allow evil in the world. After Auschwitz, this question became more urgent than ever.

Many people simply could not explain how a loving God would permit such horrors. After the Holocaust, they abandoned their faith in a sovereign God who intervenes here on earth. While I disagree with this conclusion, I would never denigrate those who arrived at such a conclusion.

But I and many millions of Christians and Jews came to a different conclusion. We maintained our faith in a sovereign God who allows both the good and the evil that is in the world. We therefore search the scriptures for an explanation for that evil. We believe that the words of the Hebrew prophets such as Jeremiah may help us understand the mind of God. But our search for an explanation for evil must never be confused with an effort to excuse it.

H/T: Rosner

T. Gracchus (mail):
The quotation, whatever it may be, is not an explanation of Hagee's remarks on the Holocaust. Further comments on a generally related topic is not explanation.
5.24.2008 8:41am
Henry (mail):
So, Hagee, along with most theists, acknowledges that the Holocaust was evil and believes that God allowed it to occur. And he, along with most theists, presumably believes that God allows natural disasters to occur too. One needn't be a rocket scientist to conclude that God is either evil or less than omnipotent. Or one can drop the childish fantasy of a big father in the sky who looks after you. Of course, if it makes you feel better to believe that, then no one should begrudge you that. But don't try to prove that God exists or that there is an explanation for evil. Just say that you are going to believe in God, and in a god who is both good and omnipotent, because it makes you feel better to do so.
5.24.2008 8:45am
MOdus:
Who gives a Nifong about Hagee?
5.24.2008 8:55am
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Quite standard theology.

Atheist commies who believe in extreme micromanagement of human affairs find it hard to imagine an omnipotent God who wouldn't be intervening all the time.

Those who prize freedom of will (including, we are told, God) because it makes human accomplishments genuine rather than the results of divine or human puppetry, understand the superiority of a system of human choice.

Even if bad things happen.
5.24.2008 8:56am
Waldensian (mail):
So, we can now conclude that McCain lacks judgment and simply blows with the political winds, because he dumped Hagee in error, horribly ignorant of Hagee's lifelong passion for Israel.

Or perhaps we can conclude that someday, when Hagee actually DOES "explain" his remarks.

Meanwhile, I was drawn to this:
"I've had the windows of my car blown out beneath the windows of the rooms in which my children slept."

My b.s.-o-meter went off the scale on that one.
Because this, in my sad experience, is exactly how nutcase bs-ers talk.

Saying your windows were "blown out" evokes -- no doubt intentionally -- imagery of some kind of explosion or bomb, yet if that had happened I'm sure Hagee wouldn't have spared the details. Why do I get the feeling it was more like "my car windows were broken."

"Beneath the windows of the rooms in which my children slept," meanwhile, sounds like the nutcase-bs-er version of "and my car was parked near my house."

And where is the evidence that any of this was related to his views on the Holocaust or whatever, misunderstood or otherwise?

In other words, I get the strong suspicion that somebody broke into his car one night, possibly using the old "brick through the window" technique, and Hagee now plays that for sympathy.

Color me unconvinced until I see the police report on this allegedly ideologically motivated bombing/hate crime directed at Hagee's children.
5.24.2008 9:00am
Waldensian (mail):

Quite standard theology.

Calling Hagee's views "quite standard theology" is at once accurate, and an excellent indictment of theology generally.
5.24.2008 9:02am
John (mail):
Truly religious people who don't want to kill you for disagreeing with them are usually pretty decent, and I think this guy is. The notion that God had some purpose in allowing the Holocaust is not a surprising notion. That the purpose might have been to finally restore the jews to Israel seems to me one of perhaps several logical possibilities, if you start with the premise that God had some purpose in mind.

That said, Hagee's remarks are obviously subject to a great deal of interpretation and misinterpretation, and I can't blame McCain from saying bye-bye. On the other hand, the attempt to turn Hagee in McCain's Wright is just pathetic.
5.24.2008 9:32am
Justin (mail):
Hagee's support of Israel has nothing to do with helping Jews.
5.24.2008 9:45am
Hilarious:
This is hilarious in light of the several incidents in which Obama has said something entirely innocuous and a conspirator has then given the statement some strained interpretation to accuse him of being a wacko.
5.24.2008 9:49am
Bad (mail) (www):
I don't understand how anyone can find this "explanation" sensible. Hagee is first of all clearly confusing the issue when he says that he merely meant that God had to "permit" the Holocaust to happen: his sermon makes it very clear that Hitler was sent by God on a mission supporting God's explicit purposes, and the last quoted paragraph essentially restates this idea (i.e. it was justified).

Once you've gone down this path, there is no coming back. The rest of his justifications are an incoherent bumbling: self-contradiction, deeply confused moral thinking.

The Holocaust cannot both be ultimately good and justified and yet also something worth condemning. And he cannot sincerely insist that he wants to ensure that "there will never be a second Holocaust" when he's already conceded the possibility that Holocausts can be morally justified as God's will. Presumably, if Iran nukes Israel (a possibility that seems as likely to happen because of nutty right wing politics as left wing), Hagee will have to rationalize this as God's will as well, perhaps finding some justification for it in the Pslams.

I just don't understand how this sort of thinking can command any respect. It doesn't make a lick of sense, and it makes an utter mockery of any idea of moral right and wrong.
5.24.2008 10:00am
Joe Bingham (mail):
So, Hagee, along with most theists, acknowledges that the Holocaust was evil and believes that God allowed it to occur. And he, along with most theists, presumably believes that God allows natural disasters to occur too. One needn't be a rocket scientist to conclude that God is either evil or less than omnipotent. Or one can drop the childish fantasy of a big father in the sky who looks after you. Of course, if it makes you feel better to believe that, then no one should begrudge you that. But don't try to prove that God exists or that there is an explanation for evil. Just say that you are going to believe in God, and in a god who is both good and omnipotent, because it makes you feel better to do so.

Sweet, you just solved the problem of evil, the one people have been discussing for 3,000 years, in one paragraph! Props.
5.24.2008 10:03am
anonxian (mail):
While I doubt this will appease some commenters, I think it worth noting that the traditional Christian view is that God has an enemy, Satan, or the "evil one." To say that God Himself is either evil, or not omnipotent, is to ignore the possibility that He is not the source of evil, and does not use His omnipotence to eliminate the existence of evil.

The rise of Hitler can be seen as the proof of an active force of evil in the universe. The existence of Israel can be seen as proof that God take the greatest evil and turn it into something good. I realize this is probably offensive to those who were directly affected by the Holocaust, because it appears so theoretical. But I don't personally see how the reality of the Holocaust disproves either the goodness or omnipotence of God.

If you want to see God in the midst of the Holocaust, look at those Christians and non-Christians who did what they could to defeat Hitler, to hide the Jews, etc. People like the many "righteous Gentiles" honored by Israel. To me, the existence of Corrie ten Boom, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Raoul Wallenberg, and Oskar Schindler is proof of the existence and ominpresence of a God who transcends and overcomes evil.
5.24.2008 10:03am
Kristi:
The Bible repeatedly states that God allows bad -- even evil -- things to happen, and that he uses them for ultimate good, thus displaying his sovereignty, his power. The lives of Joseph and Job illustrate this.

Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. After a series of events, including his imprisonment, he rose to a position of authority and saved many from famine. He forgives them and says, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result . . . ."

God allowed Satan to harm Job in order that Job's faithfulness to God in all circumstances could be displayed. God did not explain his purpose to Job, but simply reminded Job who was boss. (And then restored Job's fortunes.)
5.24.2008 10:22am
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Hagee further explained that the Holocaust was part of God's plan because it resulted in the Jews going to Isreal, which is somewhere around step 3 in the big End of Days fantasy.

Hagee wasn't just explaining why God might let this happen, Hagee was explaining that God intended it - that Hitler was sent by God to do God's work.

God wants his people to be happy, and he's willing to intentionally kill millions of them to make it happen. That's Hagee's God. Bad has it exactly right. The holocaust can not be God's plan and worth condemning.

Some other comments:

Joe Bingham: Henry didn't "solve" the problem of evil, it's your side that has no good answer for it. The atheist answer is "there is no God" and then things make sense. Your side has been discussing it for 3,000 years because you're hitting your head against a wall. Hagee's statement is just another example of the mental contortions required by belief an in intervening God.

Duncan Frissell: I can tell you're not going to take anything serious when you lead off with "atheist commies". This atheist has Adam Smith on his bookshelf, and I think that human accomplishments are "more genuine" when they are ours - neither inspired by, nor done in fear of, some God.

anonxian: You're right, that does not appease. The proof of God is Schindler's work? How about a divine Hitler heart attack instead?
5.24.2008 10:25am
Jam:
Any of the above ever read Ezekiel or Jeremiah?

Yes, God has indeed judged Israel severely but, unless God Himself tells us, we will not know why any catastrophy has befallen us other than what is common to us all under a cursed creation.
5.24.2008 10:33am
Paul Milligan (mail):
"The quotation, whatever it may be, is not an explanation of Hagee's remarks on the Holocaust. Further comments on a generally related topic is not explanation."

You, and in seems most others, make the mistake of arguing the mans theology where he was only explaining and clarifying his remarks and a position that was falsely attributed to him.

It was suggested that he in some way admired, condoned, or excused Hitler and the holocaust. He has clarified beyond all question his position on that. AFAIK, his clarification is consistent with his long-term history, and the mis-interpretation of his remarks was totally INconsistent with his history.

He has now made clear that, when he ponders 'God's will and purpose and methods', etc, etc, he is in no way shape or form condoning Hitler or the holocaust, nor excusing them, etc.

If he says 'it was God's will', well, as much as I think that is delusional ( in fact, IMO there IS no god, religion itself is an irrational fanatasy ), he woudl say the same thing about the all-too-common instance, which re-occured recently, of a teenage driver backing out of the driveway in the family car and running over his infant sister, killing her.

If Haggee says he believes 'it was god's will' ( which is what he WOULD say, and a position I find insane, personally ), then I do not take that to mean he's glad the child died, nor that he takes any pleasure or satisfaction in the event, nor that he would not have prevented it if he could, nor that 'it was a good thing because god said for it to happen'.

To confuse his theology about 'why evil exists' with some kind of 'support or approval for' Hitler, the Holocaust, Aids, fatal car accidents, or whatever else, is disingenuous.
5.24.2008 10:52am
Viceroy:
This is a great saturday AM thread. It's good no one has attacked DB for being inconsistent on pastors . . . incidentally I think DB has been entirely consistent.
5.24.2008 10:54am
Viceroy:
Paul Milligan - this sounds somewhat similar to what rev wright would say, but in his instance the cloak of theology is not as readily available. Of course, if you have wacky theology you can explain anything on the basis of theology and so Hagee's explanation makes perfect sense as being consistent with his theology.

Either way the remarks seem somewhat out of line and I'd question someone who uttered them as would most reasonable people. As far as asking for their endorsement . . . .
5.24.2008 10:56am
Bad (mail) (www):
"God allowed Satan to harm Job in order that Job's faithfulness to God in all circumstances could be displayed. God did not explain his purpose to Job, but simply reminded Job who was boss. (And then restored Job's fortunes.)"

So much for his stupid first wife and kids, right.

I still just don't get how people can say and think these sorts of things without feeling moral revulsion. To say that all of these things (genocides, destruction of a man's family) are justified merely so that God can SHOW OFF is a moral claim. And moral claims are universal. If God can have unseen purposes that we just assume will work out ok in the end, then so can anyone. Charles Manson's actions could be glorious and all for the best for precisely the same reasons. How can you possibly argue against that premise once you've embraced the sort of depravity that justifies anything merely because people themselves often fight against evil, and sometimes succeed?

What does that have to do with anything in any case? Many many people living today live out their entire lives without the sorts of sufferings that people in past eras faced: and in many cases without even any knowledge of those past lives. So how in any sense was that past evil "necessary" for anything at all? We already know that perfectly whole and free lives can be lived without it: in fact, it seems as if lives lived today in modern liberal societies are both far happier and far freerer than in ancient dictatorships.
5.24.2008 11:01am
Ken Arromdee:
Hagee's statement is just another example of the mental contortions required by belief an in intervening God.

Well, yes, it is. But the problem is that we assume that religious believers think logically and accept the logical consequences of their beliefs.

Hagee's statement is a standard excuse for evil that has been around for a long time. It doesn't mean he's condoning the Holocaust or hoping for Jews to die. Yes, logically speaking, there's not much difference between that and condoning, and if Iran nukes Israel, his beliefs will compel him to say that that was a good thing because it was in God's plan. But he'd still try just as hard to stop Iran; his belief that it would be a good thing would only exist after the fact.

If you're going to condemn him for this, you have to condemn most religious believers and leaders throughout the ages who all tried to explain away evil as God's will. None of them thought it through either.
5.24.2008 11:07am
Bad (mail) (www):
Paul M:"To confuse his theology about 'why evil exists' with some kind of 'support or approval for' Hitler, the Holocaust, Aids, fatal car accidents, or whatever else, is disingenuous."

The only disingenuous position here is pretending that it makes any sense to declare that the divine author of all that is good and holy and wonderful, whose actions you fully endorse and would obey to the letter on command, has intended, planned and endorsed a historical event... and yet to then claim that you yourself don't endorse or support that event.

That's like saying "my country right or wrong" and then going to say that this particular event was wrong, carefully avoiding making the logical connection between the fact that this event was caused by your country and your earlier declaration.
5.24.2008 11:07am
Ken Arromdee:
Of course, if you have wacky theology you can explain anything on the basis of theology and so Hagee's explanation makes perfect sense as being consistent with his theology.

It's wacky theology in the sense that theology in general is wacky, but it's utterly standard theology. If you're going to reject Hagee for this, you need to reject just about all religious believers, because they *all* have solutions to the problem of evil that have unfortunate implications.
5.24.2008 11:13am
Michael B (mail):
The malicious smears of Hagee and Hagee's motives are precisely that, malicious and politically motivated smears, originating from a thoroughly mendacious construal of Hagee's sermons. The hope (in addition to obfuscating Barack Obama's twenty year relationship with Wright's genuinely problematic views) is to somehow, at least in terms of some marginal voters' perceptions, align McCain with superfical and malignant theological views - and to represent him as but one more venal politico who is willing to sacrifice anything and everything for votes (when in fact McCain's maverick instincts and principles have often reflected the precise opposite).
5.24.2008 11:21am
subpatre (mail):
Waldensian writes:My b.s.-o-meter went off the scale on that one. Because this, in my sad experience, is exactly how nutcase bs-ers talk.

Saying your windows were "blown out" evokes -- no doubt intentionally -- imagery of some kind of explosion or bomb, yet if that had happened I'm sure Hagee wouldn't have spared the details. Why do I get the feeling it was more like "my car windows were broken."

Your reading comprehension isn't so great, and your BS-meter is clearly broken. It's a great example of trying to obscure the big picture —Hagee's position on Israel, the Holocaust, and the Jews— by nitpicking something; in this case something nonexistent.

Hagee's car windows were destroyed by gunfire; his description is the same as 'Soandso got his brains blown out'. Directed violence in close proximity to children evokes a natural reaction of concern in normal parents; it is something that stands out as significant.

Is it rhetoric? Sure: "blown out" isn't a technical description for anything except 'propelled outward by air'. 'Shot out' would be more accurate. But a bomb that would only 'blow out' a car's windows without proximal damage to nearby buildings is . . . about the size of four or five rifle cartriges. The threat from this limited but expressed violence is clear.
Color me unconvinced until I see the police report on this allegedly ideologically motivated bombing/hate crime directed at Hagee's children.

Waldesian uses a a detail in the contents to attempt ad hominem impeachment, no better than a spelling flame. What's worse is Waldesian manufacturing an event —a bombing directed at Hagee's children— when Hagee said no such thing, and made it perfectly clear any threat to his children was one of proximity and opportunity.

Inventing a non-event from a minor detail and making it the most important, that's the nutcase that should set off the BS-meters.


Hagee takes positions that are different from the mainstream and often unpopular. Whether right or left, his message produces frequent threats against him and the venues he speaks at.

Whether you believe the Jews were slaughtered and dragged off to slavery in Babylon by chance or by design is a legitimate question; just as legitimate as the discussion and search for reason to the madness we call Holocaust.
5.24.2008 11:25am
What is Faith (mail):
It is interesting that most of the post are from non believers that are using Hagee's comments as a tool to bludgeon ALL believers.

It seems that the problem is the belief in God to begin with, not whether Hagee's thoughts on good and evil and the nature of God's relationship with us.
5.24.2008 11:38am
Cornellian (mail):
The problem of evil is as old as philosophy. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then why do bad things happen? You can blame some of those bad things (murder, genocide) on free will, but why did God allow a tornado to land in your town and kill your pregnant wife and 2 year old child? After all, he knows that tornado is coming since he's omniscient, and could have stopped it as easily as saying the word "stop" since he's omnipotent.

Pretty much the only answer they've come up with is "we can't see God's ultimate purpose, you just have to keep having faith." Some people find that convincing, others don't.
5.24.2008 11:38am
Paul Milligan (mail):
All theology is inherently indefensible. All religious arguments ultimately resolve to one question, which the religious like to call 'faith'. Us non-religious folks call it 'delusion'. That, ultimately, is the only religious debate. Every other issue under the tent called 'religion' will resolve to 'faith' ( or delusion ), if you look at it deep enough.

If you posit a loving god - you can only rationalize evil with that magic unarguable word 'faith'.

If you posit a hateful vengeangeful god, you can only rationalize our continued existence ( oh, wait, he already wiped us out once, so the Book says ) on HIS planet with some lame version of 'faith'.

If you posit a vainglorious god who, although all-powerful, relishes our 'praise', in fact requires it, then y ou can only explain his Godly ego with that one word 'faith'.

'Faith' means 'No rational explanation, and no proof, and no argument allowed because it is inarguable'. SO there you have it - the sum of all religious arguments, rolled up into one.

At the same time, to impute any admiration for, or condoning of ( or denial of the evil in ), Hitler and the holocaust to Haggee, is simply a willful mis-reading of his comments. For those who mis-understood, willfully or unwittingly, he has now clarified his position beyond all doubt.
5.24.2008 11:46am
William Oliver (mail) (www):
It's obvious that pro-Obama folk are willfully misinterpreting what Haggee said simply as a political tool. This has nothing to do with theology and it has nothing to do with what Hagee really believes. The idea that God allows evil for His own purpose is as old as the tale of Him hardening the heart of Pharoah against Moses and the stories of the use of empires to punish Israel for various sins.

The idea that the state of Israel is a result of European guilt over the Holocaust is neither new nor is it religious, and it is certainly not antisemitic. The only thing that Hagee is adding is that such a result was part of God's plan.

People may not agree with that kind of theology, but it not any real indictment of Hagee, except in the world of political expediency. To pretend that this is some sort of antisemitic expression is merely wishful thinking.
5.24.2008 11:52am
byomtov (mail):
Pretty much the only answer they've come up with is "we can't see God's ultimate purpose, you just have to keep having faith." Some people find that convincing, others don't.

That pretty well sums it up. That or "God works in mysterious ways."

What's puzzling about this is that those who argue that we can't figure out what God is up to are generally pretty quick to tell us that they know exactly what He wants us to do.
5.24.2008 11:55am
glangston (mail):
There is some consistency here.

Hagee tells the flock one thing and the media another.

Ahmadinejad tells Iranians one thing and is quoted as saying something different in the world press.

The Dixie Chicks bust Bush to a friendly foreign audience with words they'd never say in front of a Toby Keith audience.

Play to the audience and quibble later.
5.24.2008 11:56am
Michael B (mail):
byomtov,

The hecatombs of the 20th century alone are one heck of a Testament to humans "tell[ing] us that they know exactly what [they] wants us to do." And that has nothing to do with theology, indeed it pertains to virtually the very opposite of theological concerns and problems, it pertains to the deification of man during that century of hubris - and hecatombs.
5.24.2008 12:04pm
byomtov (mail):
Michael B.,

That there have been, and are, plenty of people who want to tell everyone what to do for non-religious reasons does not refute my point.

I just claim that it is particularly inconsistent for anyone to say, on the one hand, that God is mysterious and incomprehensible, and on the other that we know His precise wishes on so many matters. It's a convenient approach, anyway.

The certainty of believers has always seemed irrational, indeed sacrilegious, to me. After all, isn't fallibility one thing that is supposed to distinguish the human from the divine?
5.24.2008 12:28pm
pete (mail) (www):
I do not agree with a lot of what Hagee stands for and preaches (he is part of the prosperity gospel/word of faith movement among other issues), but the idea that he is antisemetic is pretty silly. He regularly holds a service at his church celebrating Israel, raises lots of money for Israel relief organizations, and even had Benjamin Netanyahu speak to his congregation a few years ago:


Netanyahu made his remarks to about 6,000 people who packed the main building of the cavernous Cornerstone Church and an adjacent prayer center to participate in the congregation's 20th annual "A Night to Honor Israel."

The eloquent statesman, rumored to be interested in seeking the prime minister's post again, came to San Antonio under tight security as a guest of the Rev. John Hagee, who built the church through his successful television ministry. Hagee said donations collected during the event would be dedicated to the relief effort.


Before he ever endorsed McCain he was pretty well known for speaking out against historic and current Christian anti-semitism.

And I was told by a member of his congregation years ago that the death threats and violence against Hagee are one of the main reasons he moved to The Dominion, an exclusive gated community north of San Antonio that is also home to several players from the Spurs and some country music stars.
5.24.2008 12:35pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
On the problem of evil, I will leave aside the question of whether it's solvable in general but it's definitely not solvable for Abrahamists. The argument is illustrated from the inconsistent tetrad derived in Raymond Bradley's moral argument for atheism:
(1) Any act that God commits, causes, commands, or condones is morally permissible.
(2) The Bible reveals to us many of the acts that God commits, causes, commands, and condones.
(3) It is morally impermissible for anyone to commit, cause, command, or condone, acts that violate our moral principles.
(4) The Bible tells us that God does in fact commit, cause, command, or condone, acts that violate our moral principles.
And thus the Abrahamist must give up one of those principles. There is no way to accept that God ordered the genocidal slaughter of virtually every inhabitant of the land of Canaan (Joshua 6-12), condoned the mass rape of the women of Midian (Numbers 31:15-18), or granted Jephthah victory in battle in exchange for offering up his daughter as a burnt offering (Judges 11:30-39) unless you are willing to give up any pretense of morality or accept that God is evil.
5.24.2008 12:37pm
Smokey:
There are always Leftists who attck McCain, and conservatives who attack the Affirmative Action Hero, but what about this?
5.24.2008 12:43pm
Michael B (mail):
byomtov,

As such and in that narrower sense, I'd agree.

Otoh, from the vantage point of the "human condition" as such, seriously inclined advocates cannot simply forward negative (e.g., anti-theistic) critiques without also forwarding their own more positive thesis. They can, and they do, but it does not reflect any philosophical or more practical social/political depth and concern, it simply does not.

Still, if you intended your comment in that narrower sense only, I would agree that it serves its ironic purpose. It struck me, however, as joining the bandwagon exemplified in this thread and elsewhere - and that's why I interpreted it more broadly.
5.24.2008 12:54pm
EH (mail):
Jam:
...unless God Himself tells us, we will not know why any catastrophy has befallen us other than what is common to us all under a cursed creation.


This is as good a one-sentence argument for atheism as I've ever seen.
5.24.2008 1:00pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Why focus on the Jew stuff to show why Hagee is a pretty horrible person? I can see where the grey area is in all this Hitler mess.

If you look at what he has said about Katrina his is quite straightforward and clear

"In this 2006 interview, Hagee described Hurricane Katrina as "God's retribution for a planned gay pride parade,"

listen here
h

He is very explicit in his thoughts about god destroying a city due to a gay pride parade, and if this is the kind of Endorsement McCain wants, I think it shows McCain shouldn't be elected president.
5.24.2008 1:01pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"On the problem of evil, I will leave aside the question of whether it's solvable in general but it's definitely not solvable for Abrahamists..."

Oh, certainly it is. It just doesn't fit into the arguments of evangelical atheists, so they keep ignoring it and making straw men. God answered this question in Job. In Job, God and Satan make a bar bet about how much they could screw with him before he lost his faith. Job stuck in there and finally asked God why He allowed such horrible things to happen. God's answer was "Bite me."

The bottom line is that for an "Abrahamist" (cute term, that), God's morality and human morality are two different things. God set up a series of rules for *us.* There's nothing there that says He is bound by them.

*Why* there are different rules is a matter of speculation, but the idea that God somehow must be bound by the rules He made for us or otherwise be judged evil simply reverses the role of man and God. It is God's pleasure to judge us; it is not our job to judge God -- unless you happen to be Jeremiah Wright, of course.

My personal opinion is that it's a matter of perspective. As a Christian who believes in an afterlife, I suspect that we will look back on our short period here on earth as a blip on the screen where some important decisions were made, but where most of the things we thought were so important turn out to be either insignificant or of a meaning we could not comprehend at the time. Sort of like boot camp -- many of the things the DI did seemed cruel, thoughtless, meaningless, and inchoate, and involved significant stress, pain, and discomfort. Looking back, it was not nearly as big a deal as it seemed at the time, nor were his acts as silly as they seemed then. It's that "through a glass darkly" thing.

But the idea that "Abrahamists" are obligated to judge God by the same ruler that God judges them is not only wrong, it goes against "Abrahamist" theology itself.
5.24.2008 1:07pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
I know this is off topic, but I just read that Obama's big rally, with the sea of 75,000 people began with the band playing the USSR national anthem. Can this be? I know the media didn't want to say that the people were there because of the band, but did they really begin with the Soviet anthem? Now I'm really scared!
5.24.2008 1:58pm
Josh N:
Isn't Hagee simply clarifying the context or implications of his remarks about the Holocaust?

He isn't renouncing what he said, which is pretty benign, considering many religious Christians (and Jews) believe "everything" is the work of G-d and therfore serves a higher purpose.
It follows that the Holocaust was an act of G-d, and Hagee views the creation of the State of Israel as part of His higher plan.

Hagee is simply trying to defuse what his statements imply: that he hates Jews and thinks the Holocaust should have happened.
5.24.2008 2:15pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
EPluribusMoney,

No, Obama's Rally did not begin with the USSR's national Anthem. It was opened by the Decemberists who sometime open <b>their</b> shows with the USSR's national Anthem.

They are not a pro communist band, they are a pretty good quirky rock band who are so American they played the Colbert Report
5.24.2008 2:29pm
Jody (mail):
EPluribusMoney: I know the Decemberists frequently begin their shows with the Soviet National Anthem (see wiki).

Whether that show also began with the SNA is something we'll likely never know.
5.24.2008 2:30pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
William Oliver: You also display your unseriousness by talking about "evangelical" atheists, but if that is your answer to theodicy then I think most believers would be surprised to learn about it.

Them: Oh, why did this happen? Why, God, why?
You: Sometimes God's a douche
Them: Oh, OK. I guess I;ll go back to worshiping him.

Stick with "Satan did it"; it's must less troubling.

EPluribusMoney: A distantly related prince from Europe recently died and left all of his relations a significant sum of money. (He is rich enough that each person will get a significant sum, even after the money is divided among all his relations.) It turns out that you are one of them! You are distantly related on your mother's side! If you could please just email me your bank account and routing number, I will have the money deposited within 5 business days.
5.24.2008 2:31pm
Ex parte McCardle:
William Oliver's 12:07 post illustrates well why many of us are grateful that there are no gods. Our lives would be a meaningless crapshoot completely subject to the gods' whims if there were.
5.24.2008 2:41pm
anonxian (mail):
Ken A. says, If you're going to condemn him for this, you have to condemn most religious believers and leaders throughout the ages who all tried to explain away evil as God's will. None of them thought it through either.

None of them thought it through? Oh please. All the church fathers (Athanasius, Tertullian, Augustine, etc.) just didn't think it through? All the theologians over all the centuries, they didn't think it through?

Or perhaps they thought it through, and came to conclusions you disagree with. Perhaps, they may even be right.
5.24.2008 2:43pm
anonxian (mail):
Chris B. says, You're right, that does not appease. The proof of God is Schindler's work? How about a divine Hitler heart attack instead?

Well, if God thought that way, He could just as well give you a heart attack, because He foresaw some evil you would eventually commit in your life. (No, I'm not comparing you to Hitler. But suppose some day you will act in a very hurtful and cruel way on a much smaller scale? Is God obligated to prevent it?)

I for one am grateful for a God who allows human beings to be manifested as they really are. Lest we forget, Hitler wasn't the sole cause of the Third Reich and the Holocaust. Millions of people supported him. Why not get angry at fallen humanity, rather than God? And why not be thankful to God for the many people who were like lights that shined in the darkness, who stood against the tide?
5.24.2008 2:48pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
It's touching that Hagee doesn't despise Jews on a personal level. (I'm reminded of a pre-war joke from Poland: An anti-Semite is someone who hates Jews even more than necessary.) I'm still rather uncomfortable with his theology in which our (i.e., the Jews) return to Zion is associated with their (i.e., the Christians) apocalypse.
5.24.2008 2:50pm
anonxian (mail):
"All theology is inherently indefensible," said the expert on theology, Paul Milligan.

Theology is a very broad field of study. Some Christian theology is focused on the Triune nature of God, for example. Some theology is focused on the divine and human nature(s) of Christ. Some theology is focused on the applicability of Christ's death and resurrection to fallen mankind. You may disagree with this, or be uninterested in it, but to call it "inherently indefensible" is silly and contrived. It also makes me suspect that you are uneducated in theology.
5.24.2008 2:54pm
Brian K (mail):

He has clarified beyond all question his position on that


what he really should have said was...

or at least that would have been DB's and a bunch of other poster's opinion if this was wright/obama instead of hagee/mccain.
5.24.2008 2:59pm
Doc Rampage (mail) (www):
I know this isn't going to do any good, and I probably shouldn't bother, but all of you holding forth on theology that you know nothing about are embarrassing yourselves to the people who actually know something about theology. Christians have been debating with opponents smarter and more learned than you since the first century, and if you think that your one-paragraph reproofs based on caricature Christianity are any more profound than those of the average middle-schooler, you are profoundly mistaken.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where people suffering from ignorant hatred and contempt would at least have the humility to recognize their ignorance and not try to spread their hatred and contempt --on the grounds that they might be mistaken. If God were the sort who prevents evil, that's the sort of world we would have. You would be prevented from spreading hatred by divine miracles --your free will completely suppressed in order to ensure that everyone was nice to each other. And that's the world that you think a good God would create.
5.24.2008 3:02pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
This entire political undercurrent is amusing.

Score Card in this quarter is 1:1.

Obama dumps regious fanatic. McCain dumps religious fanatic.

What's next?
5.24.2008 3:03pm
Bad (mail) (www):
Doc Rampage: you're a perfect example of the sort of non-reply that theologians have been giving since the "first century" all self-referencing, never getting anywhere. All manner of entitlement and bluster, never getting down to seriously addressing the issues at hand. Those honest theologians that do generally give up and appeal to ineffability in the end.

You would be prevented from spreading hatred by divine miracles --your free will completely suppressed in order to ensure that everyone was nice to each other.


As has already been explained, no matter what you define "free will" as being, people simply having perfect characters in the first place cannot be said to violate it, no suppression of anything required.

Of course, utterly defensive accusations of "spreading hatred" merely because people no longer buy into a particular line of argument probably wouldn't be around either.

Some Christian theology is focused on the Triune nature of God, for example.


Ah yes: so what are the latest advances of knowledge in this field?
5.24.2008 3:19pm
Ex parte McCardle:
Restating Doc Rampage slightly for greater accuracy:

I know this isn't going to do any good, and I probably shouldn't bother, but all of you holding forth on [phrenology] that you know nothing about are embarrassing yourselves to the people who actually know something about [phrenology]. [Phrenologists] have been debating with opponents smarter and more learned than you since the [middle of the nineteenth century], and if you think that your one-paragraph reproofs based on caricature [phrenology] are any more profound than those of the average middle-schooler, you are profoundly mistaken.
5.24.2008 3:21pm
Jam:
EH: Why? How else would know? And when I say "unless God Himself tells us" I meant that the means of the message are backed up by the author of the message. Like, Old Testament prophets. Which in Christian theology there are no more. The next stage is Christ's 2nd coming. Nothing we can do to speed it up or slow it down. And when Christ returns there will be no disputing it. Until then, we have the prophets of old, the Scriptures and the testament of Christ.
5.24.2008 3:23pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Doc Rampage and anoxian: It is that we have considered your arguments and find them lacking. Look at what anoxian finished up with:
Why not get angry at fallen humanity, rather than God? And why not be thankful to God for the many people who were like lights that shined in the darkness, who stood against the tide?

It's hard for people to evaluate religious arguments because they have such personal attachments to the subject, but how is this anything other than "If good, then God did it. If bad, then "fallen humanity" did it." Anoxian is arguing that God did something, so it can't be that God just lets free will take its course. Or, God let people choose and they chose - some chose good and some chose bad. Either people choose all the time or people choose some of the time. If it's only "some", then we are entitled to ask Why Case A but not Case B?

So I don't thank God for Schindler, I thank Schindler's humanity and moral spirit. I condemn the complete lack of those qualities in the Nazis.

Hagee apparently thanks God for both, as Hagee believes in an intervening God that makes sure that His will is done, His plan is followed.

anoxian blames humanity for the Nazis and thanks God for Schindler.

My argument in this thread is "At least Hagee is consistent." He manages to be consistent while explaining all that is wrong with faith.
5.24.2008 3:24pm
Michael B (mail):
There's an unfortunately unkind yet prominent truth on evidence by those who have promoted the smear and libel and slander of Hagee. That truth is that the spew that postures and preens and fronts itself as something more serious than it is is forwarded by both venomists and vapidists, on the Left and elsewhere. That's ugly indeed and, politically conceived from certain partisan confines, represents Change™ indeed. The political season brings them out for all to see, but it's a thoroughly (and genuinely) wastreling ugliness - and for that reason and other reasons still many prefer not to see the Left for what it is and what it promotes and promulgates - much as many of those venomists and vapidists pretend they're something other than they are; pretense, raised to a politically interested artform. (That twenty years of Jeremiah Wright is additionally obscured and defused and equivocated away by such debased political hackery is considered but topping on, to them, the cake.)
5.24.2008 3:24pm
Bad (mail) (www):
William Oliver: "God set up a series of rules for *us.* There's nothing there that says He is bound by them. "

Sigh. This isn't an argument that any critic has avoided. It's just a rather uncommon one. And the reason that it is uncommon amongst many modern theologians today is that it has obvious implications that you don't seem to have considered. If it is true that morality is merely a set of rules for us and not God, then morality isn't what anyone thinks it is: it's merely a synonym for God's wishes, which themselves cannot have any moral content. What you speak of that this point merely becomes an exercise of power, threats, and bribes, not an exercise of moral standards.

You also don't seem willing to take seriously your own "through a glass darkly" scenario. Either suffering and moral wrong in this world are truly evil or they aren't. You can't have it both ways: appeal to the enlightened understanding that the crushing of toddler skulls in earthquakes is merely some neat lesson we're all going to learn and grow from AND then turn around an object to the evils in the world generally, even when committed deliberately by people. You can't declare the world essentially illusory one moment to get your way out of a sticky philosophical situation and then still ask people to still take it seriously the next.
5.24.2008 3:30pm
Randy R. (mail):
"The bottom line is that for an "Abrahamist" (cute term, that), God's morality and human morality are two different things. God set up a series of rules for *us.* There's nothing there that says He is bound by them. "

Well, if God has a different morality than the rest of us, what you are saying is that God set up a bunch of rules for us to follow, which he himself has no interest in following. If a parent did that, they would be accused of being hypocrites. If gov't leaders did that, they would be called corrupt.

All the defenses of religion that have come here are basically in agreement that God doesn't intervene when evil happens. he just sits by and let's Satan do his work. Then, after all the suffering has been done, he comes by and cleans it up for us and shows how good things are.

But of course, that doesn't make any sense. Why should God clean up anything? If we have free will, then why would God have a plan or purpose for us to follow? If we have free will, then nothing should be prohibited, and all should be allowed.

But what religionists say is they want their cake and eat it too. We have free will, but we are not to violate God's laws. And we can't really decipher what God's laws are -- heck, we can't even agree on one religion!

"As a Christian who believes in an afterlife, I suspect that we will look back on our short period here on earth as a blip on the screen where some important decisions were made, but where most of the things we thought were so important turn out to be either insignificant or of a meaning we could not comprehend at the time."

And yet, what we do here in the short time determines whether we go to enternal happiness or eternal damnation. And this is a fair and just God that I'm supposed to worship?

What exactly is fair and just about the god that any of you have proposed?
5.24.2008 3:41pm
Michael B (mail):
"It is that we have considered your arguments and find them lacking." Chris Bell

You are misconceiving the most basic grounds of the debate. (Conveniently so, hence it's not clear if you're doing so consciously or unconsciously.)

You and others are free to find them lacking, what you are not free to do is presume to dictate and demand, via a variety of mendaciously informed smears, that others find them lacking, whether on their on right or for purposes of social policy and political effect. You are free to promote most anything you care, you are not free to impose it upon others, or demand that others view it as a serious form of rational inquiry. Likewise, you are free to be as intellectually bigoted and stunted and impoverished as you care, you are not free to demand that a cossetted view of that same be promoted by others.

The most basic grounds of the debate does not concern you accepting someone else's views - or vice versa. The most basic grounds of the debate - since this is being discussed in the public square, in the social/political arena wherein a genuine tolerance needs to be a primary tenet - is precisely that, a grounding wherein a more serious and genine tolerance is first conceived, and then practiced as well.
5.24.2008 3:46pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Michael B:
You are free to promote most anything you care, you are not free to impose it upon others
I agree completely, although I do approve of the states that have laws under which mentally disabled persons can be institutionalized if they pose a danger to themselves or others.

Which state do you live in?
5.24.2008 3:52pm
Michael B (mail):
"You also don't seem willing to take seriously your own "through a glass darkly" scenario. Either suffering and moral wrong in this world are truly evil or they aren't. You can't have it both ways ..." Bad

If you're going to allude to philosophical issues, such as the atheist's argument from evil, while also whining and braying about others' lack of philosophical depth, then you should advance more philosophical depth yourself, rather than merely alluding to that particular philosophical problem. Yes, it is a problem which inheres to a theist's position (***) and not to the position of an atheist, but that is far (far indeed) from the end of the story in terms of philosophical depth and breadth. Iow, you have yet to evidence being a serious philosophical inquirer and your superficial forays serve to demonstrate precisely that.

Were you more serious and capable, here's a beginning. One way to view the argument from evil is to first take note of two categories of evil, natural evil (e.g., the 1755 Lisbon earthquake) and human initiated or moral evil (e.g., Hitler's holocaust, Stalin's Ukrainian genocide, Pol Pot's Cambodian genocide, all of which were - variously - enabled by contemporaneous social/political actors).

That is only one beginning of an exceedingly long discussion, but it does begin to make some noteworthy aspects of the discussion accessible to - the mind.

*** Assuming we're talking about grade-A theism, conceived along some form of more or less orthodox lines, within the most basic Judaic and Christian traditions. There are of course polytheistic views and decidedly less stringent and less coherent theisms, but am thinking here of more consistent and substantial orthodox views, fully compatible with natural theology as originated within classical antiquity and elsewhere.
5.24.2008 3:58pm
Blar (mail) (www):
Hagee has said that the apocalypse is coming soon, that it will involve Middle Eastern nations (along with Russia) going to war against Israel, and that the US &Israel should provoke this conflict (with military strikes against Iran) in order to hasten the coming rapture. The Holocaust, he has said, was a necessary step on the way to the apocalypse, since it got Jews to move back to Israel.

Now, he only says these things to certain audiences. To other audiences, he defends military strikes against Iran as a way to protect Israel &the US by stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, rather than as a step towards Armageddon. So it's no surprise that he's defending his Holocaust comments to a general audience as standard problem of evil talk, rather than premillenial dispensationalism, but it's just not accurate.
5.24.2008 4:32pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
William Oliver—if you truly believe that genocide, mass rape, human sacrifice, etc. are all A-OK if God says so then you have given up all pretense of morality.
5.24.2008 4:35pm
pete (mail) (www):

Well, if God has a different morality than the rest of us, what you are saying is that God set up a bunch of rules for us to follow, which he himself has no interest in following. If a parent did that, they would be accused of being hypocrites.


That's funny. There are lots of rules I set for my 2 year old son that I have no intention of following myself and he has know way of understanding for now. I guess that makes me a hypocrite.
5.24.2008 5:16pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Sigh. This isn't an argument that any critic has avoided. It's just a rather uncommon one. And the reason that it is uncommon amongst many modern theologians today is that it has obvious implications that you don't seem to have considered. If it is true that morality is merely a set of rules for us and not God, then morality isn't what anyone thinks it is: it's merely a synonym for God's wishes, which themselves cannot have any moral content. What you speak of that this point merely becomes an exercise of power, threats, and bribes, not an exercise of moral standards."


Sigh. It means nothing of the sort. You are falling into your own tautologies. You define what God must be in terms of what *you* demand of a God you will accept. Your argument depends on the idea that God is subject to rules that are greater than Him. If God *defines* morality, then by definition anything He does is "moral." Your position is addressed directly in the book of Job. The fact that it doesn't fit into *your* definition of what you *want* in a particular morality means nothing.

In fact, your argument is addressed directly in the book of Job, where God tells Job that it is simply improper to judge God by the rules given to man:

"God then confronted Job directly: "Now what do you have to say for yourself? Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?"

...
"Do you presume to tell me what I'm doing wrong? Are you calling me a sinner so you can be a saint? Do you have an arm like my arm? Can you shout in thunder the way I can?
Go ahead, show your stuff. Let's see what you're made of, what you can do. Unleash your outrage. Target the arrogant and lay them flat. Target the arrogant and bring them to their knees. Stop the wicked in their tracks—make mincemeat of them! Dig a mass grave and dump them in it—
faceless corpses in an unmarked grave. I'll gladly step aside and hand things over to you— you can surely save yourself with no help from me! "

Your second paragraph consists of nothing other than straw men and either-or choices that simply are not either-or. You claim that I must choose that suffering is either all good or all evil. It is not. Or, more correctly, it is neither. Morality has to do with people's actions. If the suffering is the result of someone's act, then that act is good or evil, not the suffering itself. In fact, the Pauline writings contain numerous examples where Paul suggests we rejoice in suffering. Moral wrong is by definition evil, but hat tautology does not address the question of whether or not the moral rules that apply to me apply to God.

The "through the glass darkly" scenario applies quite well, thank you very much. I never said that suffering occurs for my edification. I said I didn't have all the answers. Read the context of that allusion. And I *certainly* didn't call the world "illusory." The idea that God sets certain rules for us without necessarily requiring of Himself that He do the same no more makes the world "illusory" than the fact that I allow myself to drive a car but deny my four-year-old that action somehow is a statement that cars are an illusion.
5.24.2008 5:20pm
Ex parte McCardle:
"If God *defines* morality, then by definition anything He does is "moral.""

This, of course, applies just as completely when that god commands you to fly a plane into a skyscraper full of people as in any other situation, does it not?
5.24.2008 5:30pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Well, if God has a different morality than the rest of us, what you are saying is that God set up a bunch of rules for us to follow, which he himself has no interest in following. If a parent did that, they would be accused of being hypocrites..."

When you decide to put your two-year-old behind the wheel of your car, let me know. I want to be out of town. When you decide to start treating your four-year-old to afternoon martinis, be sure to let child protective services know. In fact, we have all sorts of rules for children that we do not apply to adults. Or at least I hope you do.

"But what religionists say is they want their cake and eat it too. We have free will, but we are not to violate God's laws. And we can't really decipher what God's laws are -- heck, we can't even agree on one religion!"

That is nonsensical. Believing that people should be allowed to exercise judgment in no way needs to imply that there is no difference between good judgment and bad judgment.
5.24.2008 5:32pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"This, of course, applies just as completely when that god commands you to fly a plane into a skyscraper full of people as in any other situation, does it not?"

Indeed it would, if He did.
5.24.2008 5:34pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"William Oliver—if you truly believe that genocide, mass rape, human sacrifice, etc. are all A-OK if God says so then you have given up all pretense of morality."

Well, you've moved from straw men to just making stuff up. Indeed, if God defines morality, and God *did* say that mass rape was OK, then it would be. I don't believe He's given that command recently, and I believe that anybody who claims that God has told him to engage in mass rape is most likely mistaken and is listening to a voice of evil. Thus I will oppose that person, and hope that God will bless my cause. If I am wrong and God supports the person advocating mass rape, then I will likely lose.

If you believe He's telling you to do that, perhaps you should question those voices you are hearing more closely.
5.24.2008 5:40pm
Perseus (mail):
All theology is inherently indefensible.

Superficial rationalists like you are quick to dismiss theology without having evinced any understanding of the enormous difficulty of grounding morality and reason in something other than some sort of ultimate faith.
5.24.2008 5:56pm
Bad (mail) (www):
If God *defines* morality, then by definition anything He does is "moral."


I can't believe you complain (illegitimately) about tautologies when you are pulling out this kneeslapper. What you have just stated is essentially the antithesis of morality. It also makes "god is good" a cognitively meaningless statement.

You seem to think that you can go on talking about "morality" when you've undercut every meaningful sense of that concept. You might as well be insisting that pigs can fly because "fly" means "wallow in the mud."

Your position is addressed directly in the book of Job.


Nothing at all is addressed in the Book of Job. A story is told. No clear or coherent moral or even theological view is laid out. God's reasoning as you describe it is nothing more than evasion of the question altogether, not an explanation of why killing someone's loved ones is morally acceptable as a means to show off to another being you yourself created. That sort of behavior is de facto detestable, and demands explanation. "I'm boss, don't pester or question me" is not a moral answer in any sense.

What makes sense is that this is a story that seemed a compelling means to transmit the message "don't question" to an ancient tribe, but has not and never could stand the test of time or critical scrutiny.

Your second paragraph consists of nothing other than straw men and either-or choices that simply are not either-or.


A baseless accusation it turns out you can't defend:

"You claim that I must choose that suffering is either all good or all evil. It is not. Or, more correctly, it is neither. Morality has to do with people's actions. If the suffering is the result of someone's act, then that act is good or evil, not the suffering itself."

Again, this is nonsense. Actions cannot sensibly be immoral if their consequences are morally meaningless, especially if your own moral philosophy essentially reveals them to everyone to be so. Once you've essentially characterized all the evil in the world as a production of Hamlet, it no longer makes any sense to leap up on the stage and try to help the characters. Once you label consequences as irrelevant, then actions are no more than playacting.

You really are an amazing example of just how far someone is willing to sink to cling to a particular theology. Let the world burn. Rape away if God commands it: what's good or bad is utterly relative to whatever I believe God commands today! Let all cruelty, natural and unnatural, account for nothing. Nothing must be allowed to make you question your dogma!
5.24.2008 6:03pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
A "systematic" Jewish holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no objective and reliable ways of identifying Jews and non-Jews.
5.24.2008 6:04pm
Waldensian (mail):

Hagee's car windows were destroyed by gunfire

Says who? Says Hagee, apparently. I'd like to hear him talk about this in detail, because I can't find any details in any news story, other than Hagee simply claiming this happened. How does he know it was shot? Somebody find a bullet? Hear gunfire? Was a police report filed? Any investigation?

I just don't buy it. I think somebody busted his car window(s), at best.
5.24.2008 6:34pm
Waldensian (mail):

If you're going to reject Hagee for this, you need to reject just about all religious believers,

Agreed, and so be it.
5.24.2008 6:39pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
"William Oliver—if you truly believe that genocide, mass rape, human sacrifice, etc. are all A-OK if God says so then you have given up all pretense of morality."

Well, you've moved from straw men to just making stuff up. Indeed, if God defines morality, and God *did* say that mass rape was OK, then it would be. I don't believe He's given that command recently, and I believe that anybody who claims that God has told him to engage in mass rape is most likely mistaken and is listening to a voice of evil. Thus I will oppose that person, and hope that God will bless my cause. If I am wrong and God supports the person advocating mass rape, then I will likely lose.
I suppose Christians aren't committed to believing that that stuff has happened "recently". But see, e.g. Joshua 6-12 (divinely-commanded genocide), Numbers 31:15-18 (mass rape commanded by Moses), Judges 11:30-39 (victory in battle granted in exchange for human sacrifice of daughter by burning her to death).
5.24.2008 6:41pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Bad—I agree 100% about Job. God's answer is nothing more than "I'm stronger than you." It reads like an ad baculum argument.
5.24.2008 6:53pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"What you have just stated is essentially the antithesis of morality. It also makes "god is good" a cognitively meaningless statement."

And that is where you and I simply will have to agree to disagree. You believe that there *must* be an absolute rule of morality which is greater that God, and by which you have the right to condemn Him if He doesn't measure up in your eyes. I believe that God is the *source* of morality and thus can define it any way He likes. The idea that God sets morality to suit His needs no way "undermines" it than the idea that you want to judge Him by your own.

'"I'm boss, don't pester or question me" is not a moral answer in any sense.'

It is when your the boss, and whatever you say is moral is moral. At that point "Because I say so" is, in fact, correct. The fact that it's not a morality you choose to accept makes it no less a meaningful morality. "I don't like it" does not make something meaningless.

"Actions cannot sensibly be immoral if their consequences are morally meaningless, especially if your own moral philosophy essentially reveals them to everyone to be so."

You are begging the question again. That God defines a morality does not make it meaningless. Actions are immoral if they break God's law, regardless of the consequences.

"Let all cruelty, natural and unnatural, account for nothing. Nothing must be allowed to make you question your dogma!"

Now, of course, you are just ranting. I said nothing of the sort.
5.24.2008 6:57pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"It reads like an ad baculum argument."

It may read like that, but it's actually an ad hominem argument. But that's the nature of God -- He's the only one that gets to use it.
5.24.2008 6:59pm
Jim Hu:
I'm an atheist too, but some of the arguments made by my fellow unbelievers seem to miss a really big point: IIRC, the "Abrahamist" view is that all that bad stuff in the vale of tears is part of the process of getting to the ultimate reward that happens after the end of days etc. Which makes the earthly suffering imposed by God different from that imposed by humans. He can give you all the virgins in the afterlife, Hitler can't. The fact that you can't know whether that's really the deal or not is where the faith part comes in.

Isn't that Theology 101? ... OK, I never took Theology 101, but ...
5.24.2008 7:13pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"I suppose Christians aren't committed to believing that that stuff has happened "recently". But see, e.g. Joshua 6-12 (divinely-commanded genocide), Numbers 31:15-18 (mass rape commanded by Moses), Judges 11:30-39 (victory in battle granted in exchange for human sacrifice of daughter by burning her to death)."

Well, that's one of the advantages of being a Christian. New convenant and all that.
5.24.2008 7:14pm
Doc Rampage (mail) (www):
Bad:
Doc Rampage: you're a perfect example of the sort of non-reply that theologians have been giving since the "first century" all self-referencing, never getting anywhere.
What is the point of me trying to answer in this forum? These arguments require books, not paragraphs. And anyway, most of the commenters here obviously aren't interested in the other side; if they were it is easy enough to find Christian apologetics on the internet or in the library. The most I expect my comment to accomplish is to warn people who might be misled by all the testosterone-induced confident ignorance that they are not hearing the whole story and should reserve judgment rather than embracing the first view that sounds excitingly brave and transgressive.

Bad:
As has already been explained, no matter what you define "free will" as being, people simply having perfect characters in the first place cannot be said to violate it, no suppression of anything required.
This is a venerable point, one thoroughly answered in the literature. If you cared, you could research it.

McCardle:
I know this isn't going to do any good, and I probably shouldn't bother, but all of you holding forth on [phrenology] that you know nothing about are embarrassing yourselves to the people who actually know something about [phrenology]. [Phrenologists] have been debating with opponents smarter and more learned than you since the [middle of the nineteenth century], and if you think that your one-paragraph reproofs based on caricature [phrenology] are any more profound than those of the average middle-schooler, you are profoundly mistaken.
The idea that Christianity is comparable to phrenology is simply not supportable to anyone who has seriously studied the issue. If there are problems with theism, there are also some very serious problem with atheism. If you were more aware of them then you might be less smug about your own faith.

Bell
"Doc Rampage and anoxian: It is that we have considered your arguments and find them lacking.
Well, I haven't made any arguments. As to the other theists in the discussion, if their arguments are lacking I propose that it is because you do not understand them (certainly your responses indicate this) and that no one has the space or time to try to explain more effectively (although William Oliver is doing an impressive job and if anyone were really open-minded, I think he would be making a difference).
5.24.2008 7:19pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Bad: Chill, all you need to do is convince WO that it's God will that he give you $$. Besides, he's not that off the wall. I believe the same thing he does, just about Thor.

More seriously, there are several objections:

First, Plato. (Note that Plato was dealing with the same argument back when Zeus was the flavor of the day.)

Second, that's not the God that most people think they are worshiping. As Christopher Hitchens says, sometimes it is best not to argue with your opponent; you should just underline what he says. You and I (and I imagine many others) find WO's vision of a God appalling. (A feeling that God must have put there! How backwards!)

Third, WO is confused. "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" is the creed of Satan, not God.

Fourth, at the end of the day there is really no arguing with someone who starts with the premise "Whatever God says is moral is moral." You could move on, if you wish, to the idea of learning about God's will. For example, why did God tell some backwards Palestinians 2,000 years ago? How do we know God really told them, instead of them just saying God told them? Why didn't God bother to inform the Chinese or Native Americans at the same time? In fact, different Gods appear to have told those people rather different things.
5.24.2008 7:20pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Well, at the risk of getting my "testosterone" on my keyboard, I'll respond to Doc: (Wow, look at this thread. Atheists are "commies" "evangelical" "testosterone induced".)
The idea that Christianity is comparable to phrenology is simply not supportable to anyone who has seriously studied the issue. If there are problems with theism, there are also some very serious problem with atheism. If you were more aware of them then you might be less smug about your own faith.
I'm half tempted to pull the phrenology trick again. (The idea that phrenology is comparable to ESP is simply not supportable...) Doc I've read Aquinas, I've read Martin Luther, and I've studied your arguments. They're all terrible. Some are clever, but they've all been full of holes for centuries. Ask David Hume.

Why do you reject Islam? What about Zorastrianism? Why not Zeus? Have you studied the writings of the Temple of Apollo? What about fairies? Have you compared the versions of the Encyclopedia of Fairies? How can you possibly reject these things without years of study?

As far as the "very serious problem with atheism" I wish you'd name them. Even if I say "I don't know how to explain [insert feature of life]" it gives you no support to claim that you do know because a 2,000 year old book told you so.

As Sam Harris has said, if the Bible had contained calculus I would have been impressed.

As you said, if my arguments are lacking I propose that you don't understand them. (I'll add the words "you arrogant ass" to my version.)
5.24.2008 7:34pm
Kolohe (mail):
Can I still go on hating Hagee because he hates homosexuals? TIA.
5.24.2008 7:39pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Chris: usually believers have a sense of morality, so they will at least jump through elaborate hoops to find some contorted reading of the Biblical texts that doesn't involve God making the commission of the most heinous acts of evil morally mandatory.
5.24.2008 7:45pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
The most I expect my comment to accomplish is to warn people who might be misled by all the testosterone-induced confident ignorance that they are not hearing the whole story and should reserve judgment rather than embracing the first view that sounds excitingly brave and transgressive.
The view that genocide, mass rape, human sacrifice, etc. are always wrong is "excitingly brave and transgressive"? I have a higher opinion of my fellow human beings than that.
5.24.2008 7:53pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Chris: usually believers have a sense of morality, so they will at least jump through elaborate hoops to find some contorted reading of the Biblical texts that doesn't involve God making the commission of the most heinous acts of evil morally mandatory."

Or not.
5.24.2008 8:05pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>What about fairies?

<<<<


Geeze, didja HAVE to?

[There are a bunch of other threads on that subject].
5.24.2008 8:08pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Third, WO is confused. "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" is the creed of Satan, not God. "

No, that is the creed of Aleister Crowley. His was just a wannabe. I've dealt with a lot of evil. When it comes to real evil, he was pretty much a piker. His theatrics don't hold a candle to a real sexual sadist with a knife.

I understand that you and Elliot find the idea of a creator who did not ask your clearance for His moral laws incomprehensible, and thus any morality promulgated by Him to be meaningless, but that's the breaks. What's most amusing, really, is that you find the idea of a God defining morality by His own will apalling when instead you want to judge Him by a morality defined by your own whim. Somehow, His arrogance makes morality meaningless, but yours does not.

But in fact, you convict yourself. One of the primary failings of evangelical atheists who rail against Christian morality is that their primary accusation is that Christians don't measure up to the received conventional Protestant morality that they have so unquestioningly internalized. The primary complaint by atheists is that we all aren't middle class Methodists, but without faith.
5.24.2008 8:19pm
Perseus (mail):
it seems as if lives lived today in modern liberal societies are both far happier and far freerer than in ancient dictatorships.

"The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. ...'We have invented happiness,' say the last men, and they blink."
5.24.2008 8:37pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
We can agree on one thing, I share your distaste of those "evangelical atheists". I hate it when they wake me up on Saturday mornings, knocking on my door.

I don't find the idea of God defining his own morality especially appalling, but I think believers might. God is not real, so all I ever see is believers making up God's Rules and then declaring that everyone else should live by them.

Your argument is disprovable because it is just an assertion. I think believers will find it troubling because they often argue that God's extraspecialgoodness is a reason to believe in him.
5.24.2008 8:37pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Let me explain what I meant by "your argument is unprovable" and then I'm going out and will be incommunicado. It depends on what type of argument we are having. Some people think God is good. Take Hagee, for example, who argues that there must be some deeper, better purpose to the holocaust. Your argument, on the other hand, says that there is no good or bad independent of God's command. To say that God is "good" makes no sense - God is law, no more. God can command Good. This repulses many people and is what I meant by "underlining" your argument instead of opposing it, but when I said it's unprovable I mean that its not arguable. You can't start out by saying "I don't like that" or "that's immoral". You can't make a moral argument against yours. That's what I meant. Logically, it's just an assertion that I find no more convincing than the argument that Zeus is the source of Good and Evil. (Maybe you find that convincing as well?)
5.24.2008 8:51pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
I understand that you and Elliot find the idea of a creator who did not ask your clearance for His moral laws incomprehensible, and thus any morality promulgated by Him to be meaningless, but that's the breaks. What's most amusing, really, is that you find the idea of a God defining morality by His own will apalling when instead you want to judge Him by a morality defined by your own whim. Somehow, His arrogance makes morality meaningless, but yours does not.
No, morality is defined by the objective reality of right and wrong, good and evil. And I will judge your god by that reality, as best as I can determine it. It is better than just tossing the idea of objective morality out the window in favor of the view that God flips good and evil around, so that black is white and white is black.
5.24.2008 9:06pm
good strategy (mail):
Hagee believes in a God that doesn't wait until judgment day to judge. Katrina was taken as sign of judgment that God agrees with Hagee, that tolerating gays is in of itself a crime. But in the end, Hagee isn't content with these little signals of God's wrath and judgment. Too many people aren't getting the hint. What the world really needs is for God to vanquish evil altogether.

For some people, religion is a search for meaning. For some, it is a validation, a way of feeling special and superior to nonbelievers. Hagee's "theology" appeals to that last category in several respects, especially the pining for Revelations. It is that pining that forms the basis for the *charitable* interpretation of his Holocaust remarks -- that he wasn't hating Jews so much as trying to find a sign of the actual apocalypse, the one where the good people go to Heaven.

Most Americans are oblivious to the radical nature of end-times theology, but it makes sense that it is a favorite of authoritarian-minded fundamentalists. People shouldn't be shocked to discover that fundamentalists aren't just traditionalists upset with what they see as negative social change change but people hoping to have their moral superiority validated as soon as possible. The theology of Revelations fits in nicely with the arrogance of fundamentalism (only we know what God really wants!) and the politics it inspires.

But I don't really think Hagee's much of a theological thinker. I think he's a charlatan drunk on power. It's supremely ironic to find atheists chided on this thread for their lack of humility. How about Hagee et. al.? Not exactly a humble bunch.

Believing in Revelations is bad enough, but those who really truly want it to come true during their lifetimes are the worst sort of people with the worst sort of vanity. I don't want anyone who believes in the war of the end times within a mile or a phone call of the oval office. I am floored that Israelis and Jews will take the support of someone like Hagee as a political plus when he is openly hoping for the ultimate destruction of their religion, and of just about everything else.

The nice thing about judgment day on earth is that you don't have to die first. Oh, to be proven right, to have your enemies destroyed by a higher power. I can't wait to be proven right. I can't wait to have the world finally see that my hatred was righteous!
5.24.2008 9:06pm
DangerMouse:
good strategy,

No doubt there's a lot to criticize about Haggee's theology. I'm a Catholic and I think Haggee gets a lot wrong.

But frankly, Haggee is only equally nuts in comparison to the evangelical atheists in this thread. Their anger at God would be amusing if it didn't sound so pathetic. They actually think they have a winning argument when they ask "Why do bad things happen to good people"? How can such an argument have any plausibility when Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God, was crucified? Don't you think that if this argument was such a winning idea, that Christians would've come up with a different theology that avoided their God being murdered?
5.24.2008 9:29pm
Bad (mail) (www):
Scorecard for Michael B

# of substantive rebuttals made: 0
# of actual objections to anything anyone has said: 0
relevance of complaining that others have not raised issues they've raised elsewhere but have not yet come up here: none

amount of attitude copped, given the above: astonishing

response required: none at this time
5.24.2008 9:29pm
Doc Rampage (mail) (www):
Chris:
As far as the "very serious problem with atheism" I wish you'd name them. Even if I say "I don't know how to explain [insert feature of life]" it gives you no support to claim that you do know because a 2,000 year old book told you so.

...

As you said, if my arguments are lacking I propose that you don't understand them. (I'll add the words "you arrogant ass" to my version.)
Chris, you seem to be misunderstanding me. I was not saying that there is sufficient argument that you should believe my view or that I can prove my view; I was saying that the heavy-handed and condescending way that Christianity in general and Hagee in particular have been treated by people on this comment thread is not intellectually justifiable. To quote from the very second comment:
One needn't be a rocket scientist to conclude that God is either evil or less than omnipotent. Or one can drop the childish fantasy of a big father in the sky who looks after you. Of course, if it makes you feel better to believe that, then no one should begrudge you that.
There is plenty more like that. It is hardly reasonable for you to accuse _me_ of being an arrogant ass for objecting to this sort of comment.
5.24.2008 11:30pm
good strategy (mail):

But frankly, Haggee is only equally nuts in comparison to the evangelical atheists in this thread. Their anger at God would be amusing if it didn't sound so pathetic. They actually think they have a winning argument when they ask "Why do bad things happen to good people"? How can such an argument have any plausibility when Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God, was crucified?


Equally nuts? The Holocaust was part of God's pre-planning for the apocalypse (because it has to go down just so) is just as crazy as asking why a supposedly loving God that rewards and punishes good and bad acts also allows bad things happen to good people? Um, no.

The question "why do bad things happen to good people" isn't being asked in a vacuum. Hagee and his ilk like to proclaim that bad things happen to bad people as part of divine retribution, and that more divine retribution is forthcoming if we don't start behaving the way the fundamentalists have deemed to be God's will.

Once you contrive a world where the actions of nature and of other people are ascribed to God, then it is perfectly fair to question why God saves some people and not others, regardless of their faith, prayers, or good works, etc.

Christianity makes a lot more sense in a world where God has left humanity to its own free will. If God is going to meddle in human affairs selectively and give people the power of reason, then people are going to wonder what the guiding principles of His intervention is. Being told by a person that it isn't our place to wonder about the nature of God, while also being told by other people that we have a duty to obey God by obeying the principles in one particular book, just makes religion seem like a big authority trip wrapped up in superstition and fable. And that's fine insofar as other people wish to obey that authority in an unquestioning way, but since people like Hagee also go far out of their way to campaign for the imposition of their theology into my life, I'm going to call bullshit on it.

In any case, there are many people of faith that are happy to believe in a vengeful God because they are absolutely SURE that God is on their side. These people are as dangerous as they are stupid.

I am quite sure that God isn't on anyone's side. Not even America. This despite our constant asking for His blessing because We are so very special. I really don't think He is going to pick up the phone until we at least insist that our leaders ask God to bless us all, everyone.
5.25.2008 12:20am
AK (mail):
William Oliver wrote:
One of the primary failings of evangelical atheists who rail against Christian morality is that their primary accusation is that Christians don't measure up to the received conventional Protestant morality that they have so unquestioningly internalized. The primary complaint by atheists is that we all aren't middle class Methodists, but without faith.

That last part is going on my wall.

Atheists readily identify acts as Good or Evil, but they're only able to do so because they're standing on thousands of years of Christian and Jewish morality. They're fortunate that they're never asked to do any real digging, and if they are they won't hit bottom for a while.

At the bottom, we're all just protons, neutrons, and electrons that combine and interact. Strangling an infant is no different from a wave crashing on a beach. It's just energy reconfiguring matter. You feel bad when you see someone else suffer? That's just a electrical/chemical reaction in your brain. It doesn't mean any more than lightning striking a tree does. Everything is just matter and energy interacting. You can't derive a moral system from that. It's just physics. PV = nRT, E = MC^2, F = MA, and humans rape other humans. There's no "moral" dimension to any of it, except in your mind, which is just more molecules. And you don't have free will anyway, so who cares?

There hasn't been a new argument for atheism in 750 years. Aquinas identified the only two in the Summa:

(1) The world can be explained without God.
(2) Bad stuff happens.

Come up with an argument that isn't one of these two, and you win a prize.
5.25.2008 1:11am
Michael B. (mail):
Theology is the study of a set of books; it is called theology out of respect for a point(s) of view and for historical reasons. To say it is 'indefensible' is like saying studying geology etc. For me the interest is partly in speculating on the psychological origins of religion and partly on finding a better empathy for myself and others and proper conduct; many statements attibuted to Christ sugggest insight into these issues which is why his statements have continued to be of interest. The Torah has a deep structure in my opinion that also leads to such an effect. The problem in Hagee's scholarship is that he takes the books as if dictated to him by God between lunch and His appointment with His florist on succesive Thursday afternoons. Alternative explanations are not limited to but include looking at the Gospels as, to a certain extent polemics or apologies conflating Christ's life with exigenicies of social political circumstances as Albert Schweitzer's review of (mostly) German theology did in The Search For the Historical Jesus.
5.25.2008 2:04am
Brian K (mail):
Strangling an infant is no different from a wave crashing on a beach.

is this really what you think athiests would believe in the absence of judeochristian values? native americans didn't have christianity at first, did they believe this? what about many of the eastern religions?
5.25.2008 2:06am
VMakarov:
"I suppose Christians aren't committed to believing that that stuff has happened "recently". But see, e.g. Joshua 6-12 (divinely-commanded genocide), Numbers 31:15-18 (mass rape commanded by Moses), Judges 11:30-39 (victory in battle granted in exchange for human sacrifice of daughter by burning her to death)."

Let's look at just one of the examples. Number 31:15-18.

Once again, shoddy atheistic nonsense is thoroughly debunked:

Atheist Droppings Debunked AGAIN
5.25.2008 4:04am
Bad (mail) (www):
"One of the primary failings of evangelical atheists who rail against Christian morality is that their primary accusation is that Christians don't measure up to the received conventional Protestant morality that they have so unquestioningly internalized. The primary complaint by atheists is that we all aren't middle class Methodists, but without faith."

Honestly William, this is quite a lame objection. Atheist critics generally take claims as they see them coming, in whatever detail they are offerred.

Its not our fault that theists 1) can basically make literally any ad hoc doctrine up at any moment, drawing upon any theist tradition they want, and sometimes not even agreeing that these doctrines need to be self-consistent or logical and 2) rarely pre-announce all of these caveats, or their particular theological stance ahead of time.

We're happy to take all comers as they reveal themselves. Generally they just end up tying themselves in worse knots the more and more bizarre caveats they toss into the debate.

"What's most amusing, really, is that you find the idea of a God defining morality by His own will apalling"

No, I said that doing so fatally undermines the concept of morality (and of course it should be appalling to anyone that has, say, concern for any other human being). The point is that you are so desperate to defend your theology, that you'll make ANY excuse, toss out any concept to get there. In this case, you'll toss out morality, altogether. This is not exactly complicated stuff either. It's just a plain jane logical consequence of what you are insisting is so.

If God merely defines good, adhering to no standard at all other than his will, then there can be no moral objection for him deciding tomorrow that you must rape your parents. If there IS a moral objection to that possibility (i.e. a reason why he wouldn't do that) then your argument falls apart: because now it appears that there IS some external standard that restrains god morally. It does no good here to say that its in god's nature to only will good things, because you can no longer use the word "good" in a sensible fashion in that context after you've just re-defined it to mean merely "what God orders" and not anything else. Nor really can you make any such objection in any case, given that you've already declared God to be beyond your understanding in a very fundamental way. Indeed, God's entire purpose could be to have all of history lead up to creating a person who would be so enamored of bizarre ideas that they would rape their parents on command, all because it makes him chuckle. Do you find that idea absurd? Unfortunately, you cannot, not without contradicting yourself.
5.25.2008 10:25am
Bad (mail) (www):
"Atheist Droppings Debunked AGAIN"

I read that link, and I think the author forgot what he set out to do by the time he reached the end.

These young girls, you see, who had just witnessed their entire families slaughtered, including male infants (because, according to this author, that was most humane!), were kept apart from the tribe for a time to make sure they had no STDs, all because there was a "desperate need for women of childbearing age...." but its simply errant nonsense to say that they were raped. No no, they would merely have been made to bear the children of their genocidal overlords, which just must have been via consensual means like forced marriage, never involving forced or coerced sexual intercourse!

Does Castro know about this guy? Cuba needs a good publicist like this.
5.25.2008 10:40am
Bad (mail) (www):
"Doc Rampage: if they were it is easy enough to find Christian apologetics on the internet or in the library. The most I expect my comment to accomplish is to warn people who might be misled by all the testosterone-induced confident ignorance that they are not hearing the whole story and should reserve judgment rather than embracing the first view that sounds excitingly brave and transgressive."

Unfortunately, if you do go and read those books, you'll find mostly an expanded form of the above bravado, with barely an expansion at all on any of the paper-thin apologetics given to these matters.

"This is a venerable point, one thoroughly answered in the literature. If you cared, you could research it."

I have. It isn't. You disagree, then perhaps you could offer reasons rather than mere copping of attitude.

"(although William Oliver is doing an impressive job and if anyone were really open-minded, I think he would be making a difference)."

Ah yes: because a view that even most serious theologians don't take seriously anymore because of its absurd implications is the height of genius.
5.25.2008 10:45am
Michael B (mail):
"response required: none at this time" Bad

Nihil ex nihilo. Hence the braying and the spew to mask that rather salient fact.

You don't even do disdain well. Keep braying though, it serves to advertise your own and other simpletons' self-parody.
5.25.2008 12:33pm
Justin Bowen (mail):
This entire discussion makes me glad that I'm an atheist, what with some people here so casually dismissing horrible atrocities that were supposedly sanctioned or ordered by "God". Who cares if those things happened a few thousand years ago or 60-something years ago? These things either happened or didn't, and if they did and were done in the way that they were described by some guy who heard it from some other old who heard it from some other guy, then that's part of your belief system and you ought to stop trying to make excuses for it.

Also, if "God" is truly a god then how arrogant is it for any mere human to think that he or she can truly comprehend the mind of him (her?). How arrogant are you to think you can comprehend the thoughts of a god?

As for me and my beliefs (or lack thereof), they give me an ability to say something that no believer can say: I don't know.

Believer: Why is there evil in the world?
Me: I don't know, but I do know that I, as a rational human being, am capable of not violating another person's rights, even when other people tell me that some all-powerful tooth fairy tells me that I should.
Believer: Where did humans come from?
Me: I don't know, and given the current limitations of technology (specifically, the lack of time-travel technology), neither does any other human being.
Believer: How old is the world?
Me: I don't know.
Believer: How old is the universe?
Me: I don't know.
Some kid: But my believer friend over there told me that he knows the answers to all of these questions...
Me: That's because he's arrogant.

I have the luxury of saying "I don't know" and being content with that. I don't have this burning desire that theists have to know everything. I don't have to make up stories or believe in other people's stories about how things are or were because I am a rational human being who is capable of acknowledging that I don't know something. I don't have to try to convince others of my beliefs. I can go to sleep tonight, and every night, in peace because I know that two things are certain: 1) I'm going to die; 2) I am responsible for how I live my life and no super-powerful tooth fairy can convince me that committing horrible atrocities will earn me a place in heaven with a bunch of other people who commit horrible atrocities.
5.25.2008 1:39pm
Bad (mail) (www):
"Nihil ex nihilo."

Precisely. Until you say something beyond merely copping an attitude, there's really nothing I can respond to.

It is startling, however, that most of the people who spend their time claiming that atheists have no new arguments, or no sense of philosophy, all seem to also be the least willing to actually address or engage in argument or philosophical discussion.
5.25.2008 1:41pm
Michael B (mail):
Bad, what is startling is that you imagine your braying tautologies to represent something beyond "copping an attitude". Or let's put it like this, in two or three threads now, what do you deem your most insightful and probative philosophical point to have been? Single it out via excerpt or link.
5.25.2008 1:56pm
Jam:
I find it interesting that the argument against God is the evil that occurs and has occured. But, if God does not exist where do you even get the idea that there is good or evil? If there is no God then good and evil becomes an argument for utility; what is best for __________(fill in the blank), in reality, it is a discussion of feelings because it will be based on personal preferences on what would be best.

And from where is that idea (the concept of an idea in itself, even), that there is a good/evil come from? What exactly in a exclusively materialistic point of view can matter develop such things as conscience?

If we have a concept of good, justice or whatever, that we fail to attain, it is because the failure to achieve that good is evil. So evil is "not good."

So that if there "not good" there is a good. Therefore, there is no argument against God based on evil.
5.25.2008 1:56pm
AK (mail):
is this really what you think athiests would believe in the absence of judeochristian values? native americans didn't have christianity at first, did they believe this? what about many of the eastern religions?

It is possible to prohibit murder without God. A civilization that does not impose a code of behavior won't last long. I'm confident that a group of atheists could establish a set of rules that prohibit many of the same things that religious groups forbid. But there's no "morality" at the foundation of these rules. It's strictly functional. Violation of these rules isn't "right" or "wrong."
5.25.2008 2:05pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Bad--it's not rape if you force them to go through a marriage ceremony before you force them to have sex with you. Q.E.D.
5.25.2008 2:05pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
I find it interesting that the argument against God is the evil that occurs and has occured. But, if God does not exist where do you even get the idea that there is good or evil? If there is no God then good and evil becomes an argument for utility; what is best for __________(fill in the blank), in reality, it is a discussion of feelings because it will be based on personal preferences on what would be best.
You have stated a conclusion, but the argument is missing. Why must good and evil become an argument for utility without God?
And from where is that idea (the concept of an idea in itself, even), that there is a good/evil come from? What exactly in a exclusively materialistic point of view can matter develop such things as conscience?
I don't know anything about the history of the concepts of good and evil, but you have left me baffled concerning their relevance. The important thing, for the purposes of this discussion, is their validity, not their history.

And, for what it's worth, I don't agree that the only things that could exist are matter (and energy?) and spirits. I believe in all sorts of things that are neither. Laws. Acquisition subs. Patterns. Personalities. Fashion trends. They are related to the physical world, and would not exist apart from it, but they are not the same as any set of physical objects.
5.25.2008 2:26pm
Silver:
Every time I see the word "theodicy" it reads to me as if it was written "theo-idiocy." Reading a thread like this just reinforces the apt nature of that trick my brain plays on me.

In the end, religious people are less moral than my dog.

After all, religious people frequently tell me that the reason they are "moral" is because they wish to avoid punishment and seek reward from God. My dog does the same. If he heels on a walk he avoids a leash correction, and if he comes when I call him he gets affection and treats.

There are a couple of differences, however. Unlike God, I wouldn't order my dog to partake in genocide, murder, or rape. Also, my dog actually sees me everyday and knows that I exist.

He's smart enough to realize that Casper the friendly ghost isn't the one handing out the treats and affection. And he's just a dumb Labrador...
5.25.2008 2:27pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"No, I said that doing so fatally undermines the concept of morality (and of course it should be appalling to anyone that has, say, concern for any other human being). The point is that you are so desperate to defend your theology, that you'll make ANY excuse, toss out any concept to get there. In this case, you'll toss out morality, altogether. This is not exactly complicated stuff either. It's just a plain jane logical consequence of what you are insisting is so."

Well, no. Stating my theology doesn't make me desperate. You pretend that somehow I have a different theology and am using this as some defense. It's not so. I am merely *stating* my theology. I'm not "tossing out" morality altogether, I simply don't believe that I have the right to judge God. You, obviously, want a God who follows *your* rules, while I have a God who demands that I follow *his*.

The fact that I believe in a morality that exists without your permission does not imply that that it is nonexistent.

"If God merely defines good, adhering to no standard at all other than his will, then there can be no moral objection for him deciding tomorrow that you must rape your parents. If there IS a moral objection to that possibility (i.e. a reason why he wouldn't do that) then your argument falls apart: because now it appears that there IS some external standard that restrains god morally. It does no good here to say that its in god's nature to only will good things, because you can no longer use the word "good" in a sensible fashion in that context after you've just re-defined it to mean merely "what God orders" and not anything else. Nor really can you make any such objection in any case, given that you've already declared God to be beyond your understanding in a very fundamental way. Indeed, God's entire purpose could be to have all of history lead up to creating a person who would be so enamored of bizarre ideas that they would rape their parents on command, all because it makes him chuckle. Do you find that idea absurd? Unfortunately, you cannot, not without contradicting yourself."

In fact, if God decided tomorrow that it was moral to rape my mother, then in fact it would be. I suspect that He will not do that tomorrow, however. On that matter, I trush His judgment. You, however, cannot conceive that He can make that decision Himself. Instead, you insist that God must in turn bow to a greater God -- that of your personal moral judgment. No morality that doesn't pass muster with you can exist. That's not the case.
5.25.2008 2:37pm
Michael B (mail):
Bad,

Your dismissive sneer that there's nothing you can respond to is precisely that: dismissive only, and vacuous.

I'm not going to type out a few hundred or a few thousand words in a forum such as this, but I gave you a starting point from which you could have expanded, at least so in some minimal sense, and you chose not to. That starting point again, follows:

Were you more serious and capable, here's a beginning. One way to view the argument from evil is to first take note of two categories of evil, natural evil (e.g., the 1755 Lisbon earthquake) and human initiated or moral evil (e.g., Hitler's holocaust, Stalin's Ukrainian genocide, Pol Pot's Cambodian genocide, all of which were - variously - enabled by contemporaneous social/political actors).

Iow, if you don't care to branch off from that starting point - which bare minimum serves to render aspects of the discussion accessible to the mind, to rational give-and-take, in lieu of the blooter and tautologies you're advancing - then that says something very clearly, at least so for those who are not self-blinded and who more genuinely care about rationally founded discourse. Of course you could provide your own starting point as well, as long as it's equally accessible to a more rationally founded discussion - but you also avoided that.

All of that is telling.
5.25.2008 2:45pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Let me explain what I meant by "your argument is unprovable" and then I'm going out and will be incommunicado. It depends on what type of argument we are having. Some people think God is good. Take Hagee, for example, who argues that there must be some deeper, better purpose to the holocaust. Your argument, on the other hand, says that there is no good or bad independent of God's command. To say that God is "good" makes no sense - God is law, no more..."

It makes perfect sense. To move your argument to the legal arena, then you are saying that the concept of "law" makes no sense -- since it's just a bunch of rules imposed by somebody. In fact, the concept of law makes perfect sense.

And the concept of morality makes perfect sense, as a set of rules of behavior imposed by God. What you demand is that God be subject to a greater God -- the one who *really* makes the rules -- or else God makes no sense. And that's just silly, because then you will apply the same argument against *that* God.

You can't start out by saying "I don't like that" or "that's immoral". You can't make a moral argument against yours. "

Of course you could. You just couldn't make an *atheistic* argument against it. But such discussions occur all the time among Christians, and are based on the various sources of authority for "testing" the voice of God (e.g. the Spirit, the scripture, and tradition). If someone got up and said "God told me to rape my mother," (I'll use that example since it seems to be a rather bizarre obsession here),then that claim would be tested by the congregation against such authorities. Such a testing may not make sense to those who do not accept those authorities, but they do to those who do accept them. I can quote you all sort of scripture to the testing of such things, though I won't bore you with it.

The bottom line, though is that your claim is demonstrably false within the community where such an authority is accepted.
5.25.2008 2:46pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Silver—you are not being remotely fair to the religious. Even people who believe in the Divine Command theory of morality are not typically amoral: they believe the Divine Command theory because they understand that morality exists, and invent the Divine Command theory to explain it. That is why we see all sorts of people who argue from morality to God, and virtually nobody who claims there is no morality because there is no God. It is also why Christians will usually turn themselves into pretzels in order to find a morally acceptable reading of the Biblical texts describing divinely-commanded atrocities, or try to pretend they don't exist and focus on the parts that describe actually moral behavior.

But the people who say "yep, genocide was OK back in the day because God said so" are really scary.
5.25.2008 2:46pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"William Oliver's 12:07 post illustrates well why many of us are grateful that there are no gods. Our lives would be a meaningless crapshoot completely subject to the gods' whims if there were."

No, instead of that, they are completely subject to the whims of atheistic tribunals who make stuff up as they go along. If you want to look at the great evils of the modern world, don't look to Christian morality, look to the societies based on freeing us of such superstition. Societies that brought us such great things as the Reign of Terror, the Holocaust, the Gulags and the genocide of the kulaks, the Killing Fields, etc., etc. Indeed, that objective utilitarian morality has shown us what enlightened atheism brings us once it finally abandons its ties to any religious modulation.
5.25.2008 2:55pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"No, morality is defined by the objective reality of right and wrong, good and evil..."

Heh. You criticize me because I allow God to define morality, while you pull it out of your ass and claim that it's objectively proven. The objective reality of right and wrong? As defined by whom? By Genghis Khan? "The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters."

That "objective reality of right and wrong?"
5.25.2008 3:03pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Even if bad things happen' tp Duncan Frissell?

Holocaust's all over, folks, move along, nothing to see.

Ir seems to me the discussion is missing 2 important points:

The Holocaust could never have happened without Christian theology. It wasn't the Buddhists or the Darwinians who demonized the Jews.

Whatever the nuances of Hagee's theology, he's a hate-spitting, vituperative lunatic. Doesn't that count as a negative any more?
5.25.2008 3:10pm
Michael B (mail):
Harry Eagar,

More venom, more vapidist maunderings, more b.s. and hate-filled spittle.

The holocaust you're referring to (Hitler's, rather than Stalin's in the Ukraine, which murdered as many as 10,000,000 perhaps), was perpetrated by Hitler and his henchmen.
5.25.2008 3:15pm
Brian K (mail):
It is possible to prohibit murder without God. A civilization that does not impose a code of behavior won't last long. I'm confident that a group of atheists could establish a set of rules that prohibit many of the same things that religious groups forbid. But there's no "morality" at the foundation of these rules. It's strictly functional. Violation of these rules isn't "right" or "wrong."

sure it is. god is not necessary for there to be right and wrong. the above conversation is proof enough.

and you didn't deal with a single one of my questions, each of which prove you wrong.

but this sort of answer is not surprising from a person who believes such as you do.
5.25.2008 3:55pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Ah yes: because a view that even most serious theologians don't take seriously anymore because of its absurd implications is the height of genius."

Serious theologians == theologians who Bad finds agreeable.
5.25.2008 5:04pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Yeah, I know that. It was a Christian deal. As I have pointed out before around here, 5% of the Shoah was performed by Roman Catholic Croats, singing hymns, preceded by a crucifix and endorsed and led by priests.

You may want to argue that it was an extremist version of Christianity, principles of Christian theology being pushed farther than (thankfully) some Christian were ready to push them. But you cannot say it wasn't Christian.

Dunno why you drag Stalin into it.
5.25.2008 6:43pm
Jam:
Before Hitler there were Lennin and Stalin. Dem fine Christians dere, eh?

On what basis do y'all decide what is moral/immoral? Culture? Scarcity? Plenty? Wheather? Mood? Mathematical formulas?

On those passages in the Old Testament the Jews, BTW, were commanded to execute a judgment on a people who were sacrificing their own children to the fire of Moloch. When the Jews sinned because of idolatry God's judgement fell on them through the Persians, the Babylonians, etc. The Babylonians committed the first Holocaust against the Jews.
5.25.2008 7:03pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Yeah, I know that. It was a Christian deal. As I have pointed out before around here, 5% of the Shoah was performed by Roman Catholic Croats, singing hymns, preceded by a crucifix and endorsed and led by priests. "


And the other 95% doesn't fit the argument, so we'll just ignore it. The fact is that Nazism and Hitler were specifically anti-Christian. The fact that Harry decides to use this and ignore Bonhoeffer and his followers, for instance, or the profound persecution of Roman Catholics by the Nazis shows the weakness of this bigoted claim that the Holocaust was a Christian event. In fact, the Nazis, while happy to use sympathizers of any stripe, were almost as antichristian as many of the writers here.

Or as Goebbels noted:
"The Fuhrer is deeply religous, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race... Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end, they will be destroyed."

Or as noted by William Shirer in Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

"...under the leadership of Rosenberg, Bormann and Himmler, who were backed by Hitler, the Nazi regime intended eventually to destroy Christianity in Germany, if it could, and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists. As Bormann, one of the men closest to Hitler, said publicly in 1941, 'National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable.' "

In fact, the Nazi propagandists are much more in agreement with the evangelical atheists here than the Christians. Martin Bormann could have been posting here:

""National Socialist and Christian concepts are incompatible. The Christian Churches build upon the ignorance of men and strive to keep large portions of the people in ignorance because only in this way can the Christian Churches maintain their power. On the other hand, National Socialism is based on scientific foundations. Christianity's immutable principles, which were laid down almost two thousand years ago, have increasingly stiffened into life-alien dogmas. National Socialism, however, if it wants to fulfill its task further, must always guide itself according to the newest data of scientific researches.

"The Christian Churches have long been aware that exact scientific knowledge poses a threat to their existence. Therefore, by means of such pseudo-sciences as theology, they take great pains to suppress or falsify scientific research...No one would know anything about Christianity if pastors had not crammed it down his throat in his childhood. The so-called loving God by no means reveals the knowledge of His existence to young people, but amazingly enough, and despite His omnipotence, He leaves this to the efforts of a pastor. When in the future our youth no longer hear anything about this Christianity, whose doctrine is far below our own, Christianity will automatically disappear... "

Martin Bormann, 1942, Kirchliches Jahrbuch fur die evangelische Kirche in Deutschland

This idea that Christianity was responsible for the Holocaust is pure antichristian bigotry and evangelical atheistic hogwash.

Of course, evil people can be Christians, and Christians can be evil, and can use any method, including subverting individual congregations, to do it. That was a problem even during the first generation of Christianity, and was the subject of letters by Paul. And, in fact, Paul's concern was that people would do exactly what you are doing -- use the exception to pretend it's the rule. But then that's the fundamental tool of the bigot -- there were Jews who really did fit Nazi bigoted stereotypes, African-Americans that really did fit racist Southern American stereotypes, shouthern rednecks who fit northern elitist stereotypes about Southerners, etc., etc., etc., ...and there are Christians who fit bigoted stereotypes promulgated by evangelical atheists.

But in the end, you denigrate yourself more than you denigrate us.
5.25.2008 7:38pm
Oren:
The Holocaust could never have happened without Christian theology.
Jews were being persecuted before Jesus was born (or came down from heaven or w/e).
5.26.2008 1:45am
Ai:
Apparently many are unaware that Plato buried theological ethics more than two millenia ago in his Euthyphro.

If God constitutes and defines morality, then there is no substantive content to ascribing goodness to God.

If God does not constitute nor define morality but merely recognizes it, then there's no need to posit God to account for morality.
5.26.2008 9:53am
Bad (mail) (www):
Michael, I've already addressed not just those two categories but several more, in a previous thread. I don't need your help to "branch off" anywhere. If you want to contribute anything of value to a discussion besides insults, you need to actually say something of substance in either defense or criticism of a particular view. Otherwise there is nothing really I can respond to, because you haven't said anything.
5.26.2008 10:40am
Bad (mail) (www):
"William Oliver:The fact that I believe in a morality that exists without your permission does not imply that that it is nonexistent. "

It's becoming clear that your position is essentially that people are not allowed to apply logic to your propositions. If that's your position, then there really isn't any reason to bother discussing anything with you. You can insist that your house is shaped like a square circle, and no argument from logic or empirical evidence could ever dissuade you, because how dare we question the truth of your square circular house? We have no right!

Of course, for the rest of us, we're stuck with the teensy problem that morality is a word that we all feel was supposed to mean something, rather than be a mere synonym for something else. For most of us, the idea that morality is arbitrary, or even "created" renders it nonsense.

You are welcome to decide that you will follow whatever you believe that commands of your commander are. I just don't see how you can sensibly characterize it as "morality" at that point.

In fact, if God decided tomorrow that it was moral to rape my mother, then in fact it would be. I suspect that He will not do that tomorrow, however. On that matter, I trush His judgment.


Then you simply aren't willing to even take seriously your own assertions: because you've completely undermined any basis for your suspicions or your trust, and just don't want to admit it.
5.26.2008 10:48am
Michael B (mail):
Harry,

Firstly, I didn't "drag" Stalin into it, he and his anti-theistic and ideological pals volunteered their offering of five to ten million souls all too eagerly - and during the same time period, which is one of the reasons I "dragged" it in.

Dunno why you'd slight such a notable historic fact.

But no, it wasn't inherently Christian in any sense. There were individual Christians who were variously complicit in the Shoah and far too many of them. Additionally there were individual clergy who functioned in the same manner and too many of them as well, even one representing too many. There were also individual Jews who were variously complicit in the Ukrainian genocide, at least one or two at very high levels in Stalin's machine and several more at lower levels in that machine, but that was the choice those individuals - as individuals and as ideologues - made, it didn't reflect upon Judaic tenets any more than the choice others made reflected upon Christian tenets - even to the contrary, in both cases.

By contrast, when Hitler's genocide, Stalin's genocide, Pol Pot's genocide, Ho Chi Minh's systematic mass purges, Mao's thirty million-plus, etc. were planned and executed, those plans were a direct outgrowth of the very tenets of those arch socialist and anti-theistic regimes.

Hence, to use your own barb against you, to the extent you're a socialist or are anti-theistically inclined, I'm glad you haven't participated in any genocides.
5.26.2008 10:52am
Michael B (mail):
Bad,

I asked you to point to or otherwise excerpt your more serious and probative philosophical insights, or rather, so much as a single example.

And you can't point to a lone, single, solitary example? Not one?
5.26.2008 11:01am
Michael B (mail):
Ai,

I'm not a philosopher and don't pretend or imagine to be one. I read some of the primary and derivative material, but have the knowledge and discipline of a dilettante only. Yet I know enough to know how little I know - and additionally know enough to know when b.s. is being fronted as something more substantial than it is.

In short, you need to delve below the surface of things a bit; in terms of Euthyphro you might at least acquaint yourself with the dialectical tension and aporetic quality Plato is forwarding.
5.26.2008 11:21am
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"It's becoming clear that your position is essentially that people are not allowed to apply logic to your propositions...."

Oh, pish posh. It is quite easy to apply logic to my position; it just uses a set of axioms you are uncomfortable with. Arguing which axioms to use is not an argument of logic; disagreeing with an axiom is not an attack on the logic itself. In fact, rational and logical discussions of morality that accept the axiom that morality derives from God are both historic and common today.

They just exclude the pretense that you can derive the same morality by pulling it out of your ass, which is what you prefer.

"Of course, for the rest of us, we're stuck with the teensy problem that morality is a word that we all feel was supposed to mean something, rather than be a mere synonym for something else. For most of us, the idea that morality is arbitrary, or even "created" renders it nonsense. "


And this is really your problem. Accepting that morality derives from God would imply that it is not possible to derive a correct morality without Him. You believe that any morality you cannot derive without God must be "nonsense," and thus God must bow to any morality you pull out of your ass by your own idiosyncratic ratiocination. You mearly want to replace theology with solipsism.

Well no. And, contrary to your assertion, a very meaningful concept of God-derived morality happens to have existed for a couple of millenia before we were blessed with your insistence that it has all been meaningless until you came along. Proof by construction, I'm afraid, works.

All you seem to be able to argue is that any morality that doesn't fit your personal whim is "meaningless."
5.26.2008 12:42pm
Michael B (mail):
Re, Plato, the following:

Here - titled Islam and the Euthyphro Problem, but reflecting upon Judaic and Christian views as well - is one discursion with a focus upon that problem. It's one starting point only, there are certainly others, but it's noteworthy for its qualitative grasp of some absolutely basic philosophical issues, including the aporetic quality previously alluded to.

(And if one is aware of Plato at all, beyond googling him and cherry-picking him on occasion, they should be aware of the fact that he works out his own natural theology in some notable detail. Likewise with Socrates of course, via Plato, and Aristotle, to stay strictly within classical antiquity's most renown triumvirate.)
5.26.2008 1:42pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Doc Rampage: "it gives you no support to claim that you do know because a 2,000 year old book told you so."

To be fair, it's been through quite a few editions...
5.26.2008 2:45pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Michael, how extremely weird. We are not talking about my views but Hagee's. I don't know what Hagee thinks of Stalin. But we know something of what he thinks about Jews and Christianity.

You can name the German bishops who spoke out against the destruction of the Jews on the thumb of one hand. So it's not just that some or a few Christians participated. Except for Jews and some communists, all Germans were Christians.

At the least, it is obvious that Christianity put up no moral objection to destroying Jews. Hardly a surprise given the previous 1,700 years of Christian teaching about Jews.

I am not any kind of socialist, and while it's true that I am "anti-theistically inclined" that has nothing to do with any organization I adhere to. (Except for the Communication Workers of America, I don't adhere to any.)

Christianity and destroying Jews is your problem, not mine, assuming you are "Christianityally inclined."
5.26.2008 3:47pm
yankev (mail):

And moral claims are universal. If God can have unseen purposes that we just assume will work out ok in the end, then so can anyone. Charles Manson's actions could be glorious and all for the best for precisely the same reasons.
Only if you believe that G-d is a human being apart from being immortal and all powerful. That belief is characteristic of paganism, not Judaism or the religions that claim to be based on Judaism. Accusations about G-d being a "hypocrite" are not convincing to anyone who understands this difference. You don't let your dog walk in the street without a leash; does that make you a hypocrite for going outside without one yourself, or are there differences between you and your dog? You don't let your 6 year old drive a car or cross busy streets; does that make you a hypocrite for driving and for crossing busy streets, or are do you have relevant skills and knowledge that your 6 year old does not?
5.26.2008 6:07pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Father Tiso of Slovakia is upset that only the Croat Christians are getting Holocaust credit.
5.26.2008 7:07pm
AnandaG:
I read this entire thread; it was very satisfying. It is refreshing to see that the theists still have nothing but, as someone put it above, "bluster and entitlement". I'll check again next year to see if they have anything better then. Not laying any odds, though.
5.26.2008 9:45pm
Michael B (mail):
Andrew Lazarus,

And which of your forbears, ideologically or otherwise, is deserving of credit for the Ukrainian genocide? Or do you, like Harry, live in some realm of insouciant abstraction?

Harry Eagar,

Extremely weird, indeed. The Communication Workers of America? And that reflects what you "adhere" to? Good to know, Harry, what a terribly brave soul you are, "adhering" to the Communication Workers of America. And beyond that you "don't adhere to any[thing]," which is always a safe place to be: reposed in the great, abstracted nowhere. Anti-theistically inclined, but not in any sense wherein that association would allow Harry to be tainted with history's anti-theistic ideologues. Hands ceremonially washed of it all, though now, as a sophistical modern, the ceremony is nothing more than the sneer of disdain and reproach.

If you or Andrew Lazarus were polemicists I could take more seriously it would be easy to address everything you've brought up, from 2,000 years of history (e.g., some choice quotes from rabbinical sources and the Talmud, some additional historical facts related to your fellow anti-theistic ideologues) to the underlying motivations of men with names such as Goerdeler, Dohnanyi, Bonhoeffer, Theo and Erich Kordt, Bishop Bell, the White Rose movement and others during WWII, and that's two or three examples only.

But do enjoy that abstracted, self-congratulatory realm you live in. Latte pseudo-liberalism, anti-theistically "inclined" - and contentedly reposed in the land of ever ready disdain and insouciant whateverness.

You and Lazarus, quite the dudes.
5.26.2008 10:22pm
Jam:
Elliot Reed: Thank you for responding.


You have stated a conclusion, but the argument is missing. Why must good and evil become an argument for utility without God?


So what are you proposing? Why then even have categories such are good/evil?


I don't know anything about the history of the concepts of good and evil, but you have left me baffled concerning their relevance. The important thing, for the purposes of this discussion, is their validity, not their history.


I am not arguing for history either?


And, for what it's worth, I don't agree that the only things that could exist are matter (and energy?) and spirits.


My failure. When I use the term materialistic I am referring to the physical cosmos. In as much as energy is a component of the cosmos it is material. After all, isn't matter energy's obsevable qualities?


I believe in all sorts of things that are neither. Laws. Acquisition subs. Patterns. Personalities. Fashion trends. They are related to the physical world, and would not exist apart from it, but they are not the same as any set of physical objects.


Now we are even. You stated your conclusion but where is your argument? ;)

"Patterns. Personalities. Fashion trends" are what we do to reflect what some of us consider what is best. Their uitility is only as "good" (here is that word again) as they are useful.

And from where came the "laws" that causes the "physical objects" to behave, to do what they do? From where came that an electron will be attracted to a proton?
5.27.2008 12:00am
William Oliver (mail) (www):
'Christianity and destroying Jews is your problem, not mine, assuming you are "Christianityally inclined."'

Heh. This is not unlike the claim made in the "Are Christians Happy" thread that Christianity was pro-slavery. Forget that Christianity abolished it.

Similarly, Harry would argue that Christianity was all for the Holocaust. Forget that Christian nations stopped it by force.

But none of it counts, because it's inconvenient and because the motives weren't "pure" enough. The *act* and the *result* simply don't count.

The relationship between orthodox Christianity and Judaism has been complicated and not particularly pleasant on *either* side of it; there's no more justification for the auto da fey than there is for the stoning of Stephen or the murder of James.

Like most important spiritual transformations, the relationship and rapproachement between Judaism and Christianity has undergone evolutionary change. Some folk in both camps prefer to hang on to old hatreds. Some will continue with bigoted and incorrect generalizations and recriminations about Jews and Judaism. Others will continue with bigoted and incorrect generalizations and recriminations about Christians and Christianity.

But all those folk will be left behind to wallow in their own hatred as the great mass of Christians and Jews move in a different direction.
5.27.2008 9:21am
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Forget that Christian nations stopped it by force.'

You mean, like the USSR?

Sheesh.
5.27.2008 11:37am
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"You mean, like the USSR?"

You mean the USSR that signed a treaty to supply Hitler's war effort until it was in turn attacked?

I know that it's virtually impossible with your mindset to admit this, but there were other countries involved besides the USSR. You're grasping pretty hard to hold onto that hatred. Let go. The fall really won't kill you.
5.27.2008 12:32pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Yeah, but the USSR did all the heavy lifting. Germany was defeated before the US ever got in.

I recommend to you a book called "So It Was True" which is an in-depth review of the US Christian press commentary on the Hitler regime in the 1930s.
5.27.2008 3:14pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Yeah, but the USSR did all the heavy lifting. Germany was defeated before the US ever got in."

Ahem. The Germans were still winning in the Eastern Front when the US got in the war.
5.28.2008 8:30am
Chimaxx (mail):
And let's look further at Hagee's comments on Katrina with regard to what actually happened:

Katrina hit sufficiently in advance of the Southern Decadence festival (not, per se, a Gay Pride parade, as Hagee mistakenly refers to it) that all of the people who were planning to travel to New Orleans for the event were able to--indeed, forced to--cancel their travel plans and remain safely home or go somewhere else. The damage to the city was widespread, but the very districts where the festival was to be held and where most of the celebrants would have stayed were spared, while the districts in which the most fervent opponents of homosexuality in general and the Southern Decadence festival lived and worshiped (in particular the neighborhood housing the storefront church of the Reverend Grant Storms, outspoken opponent of homosexuality in general and Southern Decadence in particular) were destroyed.

So either Hagee's God was incompetent, or he was sending a very different message than Hagee thinks he was sending. Indeed, the timing and pattern of destruction of Katrina would suggest a God with very little tolerance for anti-gay activism and sentiment, and a warm appreciation for a now-very-much-revived Southern Decadence celebration, and the sort of gay revelry it represents.
5.28.2008 3:26pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Not so, Oliver. At some point in September or October 1941, the Germans suffered a casualty they could not replace. At that point, the USSR had won.

It was a war of attrition, so it took a while for that to work itself out, but the outcome was settled not only before we fought but before we even assisted with Lend-Lease.
5.28.2008 3:44pm