i have yet to get to replies of my posts, which I will try to get to if someone questioned me, but for now, I just wanted to post me take on the debate.
Shermer speaks of omniscience as requiring a reference point. We would seem omniscient ot Neanderthals. That is one reason I don’t like to use that word personally, nor have I found that in the Bible.
Then Shermer speaks of there is no need to create a god or belief to fill in the gaps and uncertainties, its ok to not know.
I wonder if Shermer, or anyone who claimed Christianity and then became and atheist, was actually a Christian. That is not for me to say, only God knows our hearts, but I wonder it. I myself I feel was indoctrinated into the ‘correct’ religion by luck/divine intervention. But it wasn’t until later in life that I chose to seek out God, and I believe He revealed Himself to me, and that He was the God of the Bible. I have such a profound feeling of certainty, I cannot ever see becoming an atheist or any other religion no matter what. So I wonder if Shermer, wasn’t just brought up in Christianity, but never in his heart, nor ever experienced the truth of God, and then became an atheist. The way he explains or interprets Christianity is so book answer from the outside, it is so not what God or Jesus taught or intended. Are there any examples of a person who was a preacher or a missionary, passionate for God, and knew Him well, and then became an atheist? MY guess is no, though that doesn’t prove much, as it is generally the scientific element that would presumable turn one from God to science. And Pastors aren’t known for their scientific passion.
Like Shermer said and you guys mentioned above about the bubbles. Sherman said the reason he was a Christian, was through being born in that bubble and lack of knowledge of the choices or possibilities. Once presented, he ‘left’ Christianity. Was he ever really a Christian? Only God knows.
Though since one is basically born an atheist, until given enough information and desire to make that leap of faith, it makes more sense to go from atheism, to Christianity. A true atheist to a true Christian. It is interesting how there are many former atheist and well known/respected scientist atheist, who became a Christian.
But I don’t see God as a God who fills in gaps on knowledge (like a few holes here and there in the boat to keep it from taking in water and sinking), rather one who fills everything, like the boat itself. There are some gaps that we can’t explain in the boat of God, but He is the boat, not the leak.
I also likes Shermers argument on how wikleaks uncovered millions of things about the government, and not one thing about aliens in area 51 or 9/11 as an inside job or faked moon landing. Not from a religios standpoint or anything, but just a good argument for those tin foil hat people.
Though when Shermer talks about inner demons and how Christianity got it right is interesting. I don’t think Krauss would agree with this at all. Where does this come from? I don’t think this could even be remotely explained scientifically or evolutionarily. I think our inner demon is our biology, our natural selective minds. And the only inner angel we have is that which comes from the Holy Spirit and revelations of God, lived through Jesus on this earth.
I spoke of above how love is a logical thing, and this logic is revealed to us from God. I almost want to say that any evil thing, is basically lack of logic. A selfish being looks out for their perceived self interest. I believe that atheist and any humans (Christians too) are selfish. If one is harsh on oneself in attempt to preserve the human race, that person just believes that the human race is worthy of continuation, is still doing a selfish deed, in which they are acting on what they believe. I think our best interests is in God’s will. Natural selection is to preserve our own kind, but not even in a selfish way, but in a way that we pridefully perceive to be the best. Going back to Hitler, he didn’t want to eradicate humans, he actually wanted to preserve us in the most optimal way (in his mind) to have an Aryan only race. One who helps a neighbor out could be seen as moral. But it could also been seen as self absorbed in a natural selection point of view, in that this is simply helping preserve our human race. I know/believe that doing what God intended or instructs us to do would be the best thing to do, but I frequently don’t do it. Why? Paul speak of this in Rom 7:15. It is that biological natural selection mindset that we want to do, what we perceive to be best. This is a fight. Wanting and having (revealed) knowledge that God knows best and His ways are perfect, is this faith in God’s ways and the hearth that God speaks of as ‘credited righteousness’, or that Paul speaks of in “wanting to do the right/God thing”, this is the loving God with all your heart, wanting to do. Loving Him with all your mind is knowing His will (which comes through seeking it through fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ and reading His word. And Loving Him with our soul is actually doing it. This is where spiritual warfare comes in the most. First you must yearn to know it, and then you must want to do it, but then, you must actually do it. This is where the Holy Spirit comes into play and assists us in this endeavor.
Which I think I have said in other threads if not this one. The main difference between atheism and Christianity is a point of pride. An atheist believes they know what is best and a Christian admits we don’t know what is best for us but God does. Why we worship Him as God, and King of our lives.
I thought it was interesting to Shermers point about how some things occur so strongly that are incredibly improbable of going back to. To which he then says slavery, to which they both agree was a bad thing. I don’t think slavery was a bad thing just like I don’t think monarchy was a bad thing. I believe bad things can easily come from both, but so can good things.
First we need to define slavery (and differentiate it to servanthood). In the sense that one is the legal property of another. A car is in my legal property, and I could drive it into a tree or off a cliff and that would be bad for the car. I could also detail it and clean it and provide proper maintenance for it so it last a long time and perform well. So slavery is can be bad or good, if the owner is bad or good. Though a car doesn’t have a say no if it can be property or not. There are plenty cases of slavery turned servanthood in America where though born into or sold into slavery, had a good master, and preferred to stay a servant even if they couldn’t leave as a slave. A human does have a say. Slavery meaning that one is in control of the other is not a bad thing (if control is given). I guess this is where servanthood is probably a better word. If one can’t afford a home or land or to feed themselves or their family, they could sell themselves into servitude to an owner they believe will take care of them. They at one point had a choice, like a contract. But when you believe your best interests are no longer in mind, you can then leave said owner. That is basically employment in the day and age. We are not slaves to our jobs, in that we can quit, but we are contractual servants to it. Many are slaves to debt. Though it was a choice, it isn’t something we can just walk away from when we no longer like it. This is more like a slavery, but the master is not an individual, rather a corporate entity. This is perhaps a good slavery in that it should be seen as a bad thing and therefore prevent us from entering into it. Everyone is a servant to something. I consider myself a servant to God. But I have free will to choose if I want to be in servitude to Him, or not. Many humans are slaved to their desires. They have to go to work, to make money because they like nice things, or a title and respect. They have to discover scientific theories, because it helps preserve our human kind, and we desire mankind to be uplifted and preserved in our knowledge and achievements. But you just happen to luck out that you have desires of fairly benign or possibly helpful means. Some are slaves to malignant desires that harm others. I think the only thing worth it is to not live by my desires, rather to live out my design, as I was designed purposefully and intentionally by my Creator to do as He wills.
Shermer speaks of natural disasters and manmade disasters (which I don’t believe should be lumped together). When good things happen, God gets the credit, when bad things happen, He isn’t to blame. This is a viewpoint that many (flawed as we are) Christians can have. Which I would challenge that that is biblically accurate. Job is a great example of this. The Lord gives, and He takes away (credit to perceived good and bad), Blessed be the name of the Lord. We perceive things to be good or bad is incorrect. Because all natural things that happen are for Gods will. Where I think that it does differ and God shouldn’t receive credit for the bad, is the bad of man. God can’t get credit for that, because it is man’s evil. He gave us freewill to do what we will, and any bad that comes from that is not from God.
Childhood leukemia. An atheist perceives (since there is no defined meaning of life) that a human life is valuable, perhaps the most valuable thing? Why is the fact of someone dying young or suffering seen as a bad thing? If the meaning of life is to know God, and these unfortunate circumstances can be used for that purpose, then they would be a good thing. If you had to break the legs of a stubborn goat to save him from keep attempting to jump off a cliff, is that a bad thing? Obviously this requires faith or forebelief in the meaning of life is God to see this. But natural things that come, do not equate to a bad God. Getting a fever is seen as a bad thing, but it actually the bodies way of getting rid of a bad thing in it, burning it up. Hurricanes could be a way of the earth trying to get rid of some of the people that are trying to kill it. Whether that is directly trying to kill them (which is arguable, as the Caribbean’s don’t pollute too much), or in using our sympathy of not wanting that to happen to cause a change for us over all and pollute less. Is a fever a bad thing? Is a hurricane? Yet God can and still does provide protection in the midst of these storms. Sometimes it is through divine intervention, other times it can be through giving us the knowledge to build hurricane proof infrastructures and structures, or knowledge to predict and know to prepare.
9/11, a bad thing, was a choice by man. God can allow good things to come from it, as he did with the love of people as coming together. God also stopped some people from coming to work that day and dying. Maybe He had a larger purpose for those, maybe it was through prayer and He intervened so they wouldn’t come to work or flight that day. But this is evil that shouldn’t be attributed to God, but the good that He brings from it is good that can be credited to Him.
Shermer speaks of why all the drams, why not just create a heaven with us all and skip the whole earth story ect. Why watch a football game? Why not just get the end score? It would save so much of our time. It is the experiences of it that we watch it for. The relation that we can have to them, the enjoyment of competition, and the admiration of skills. I don’t think God wanted to ‘skip’ the game and just have the final score, there is beauty in it being played out.
Shermer talks about money or politics as better motivation to do good than religion since we created it. This again speaks to how pride in man is his God.
It was interesting Shermer’s comment that happiness is different from meaningful. Taking care of the elderly isn’t easy work, it is difficult. But it brings a longer term good feeling that surpasses the temporal difficulty. Same with marriage or children. That is pretty similar to a Christian, in that we endure the temporarily difficult/miserable to obtain a long term glory is given to God. Our entire meaning and purpose in life is to give God the glory, and to use the gifts He blessed us with to do this. But when an atheist life is over, all of those things that made them feel good (though it might have helped others and I guess in a way created a legacy for them) are gone when they die. I am not so sure this is how it works. I think the reason an atheist would endure a short term suffering is again because of natural selection. If one feels good, it is a benefit (maybe one feels good because they are assisting in the prolongation of our human species) but the real benefit is in the continuation of the human species. The atheist has such a respect and admiration of natural selection (I believe ingrained and written in our genes), it is basically a god to them. They obey it, the desire it. Every seemingly ”good deed” can be traced back to our ‘selfish genes”. Where everything good deed a Christian does can be traced back to attempt to glorify God. And if it can’t be traced to glorify God, it wasn’t a good deed, hence why all of our righteousness (good deeds) are like filthy rags to Him (Isaiah 64:6). Anything not done to glorify God is just to obey that selfish gene which is to continue humankind of our own efforts.
I think it is good to want our species to continue, and I believe that is why God put that in our genes via natural selection. The problem is are we wanting to control and be “God” to ensure this happens, or are we going to trust that God will ensure this, and we are just to use the gifts He gave us to do this, and in that glorify Him. I think it is good that a doctor or scientist can discover a cure for a suffering that we have. Though I believe this is God, blessing a man with this gift to learn this, and that is why He deserves the glory and man is just a means by which God ensures the continuation of humanity. And this is the problem with humanity, the fall of man. Some man want to continue humanity via eradicating the ‘bad’ ones. Some want to do it by imposing their rule and logic. Or thinking they are the best thing, and wish to help humanity by ensuring that only their ‘blood’ gets the future which is why nepotism is prominent. Which this argument of natural selection within a mechanic that God uses, is another Christian argument for evolution.
Which kind of shows that God, in creating us in His image, wanted us to be ‘gods’ in a way. Like He is in charge or our human destiny and whether or not we will ultimately continue as a species. He put us in charge of animals and help ensure its continuation. We can always ask for His help, but He wants the animals and earth to be in our rule, as He is to rule over us. He gave us gifts of creation (as He is a creator) to help us rule them. It is when we rejected God’s rule, that life became hard. We then were to rule over animals as He ruled over us changed. We needed to use animals to help ensure our future. That is why we began to eat them and to use them as tools to accomplish tasks. I do not believe this was the intent of animals in the beginning, though they were blessed/designed with these great strengths. This is why every green plant was food (Gen 1:30). This is why we have the authority to rule over animals (as He is to rule over us) and how that shows that when re reject God’s rule and ways, we live deprived lives and are terrible ‘gods’ in that we use the animals in our care to help sustain us at their expense. Thankfully God does not require our suffering in His rule, nor requires us to work as mules to move His cogs. Rather He asks us if we want Him to rule us, and allows us the honor of helping Him move some cogs with the gifts he blessed us with. In this day and age, we no longer require any animal to help us out. We have discovered and learned of hydraulics and machines to help our work. We could create enough plant life to sustain us and not eat animals. We were also created in His image to relate. This is why a helper suitable for man, was not animals. Other humans are needed to relate to.
I think it is neat to think of rule in this sense. It is too commonly use/perverted to mean a dominant, authoritative, aggressive control. You do as I say or face punishment. Rather than a passive, “this is better for you, so it would be wise to choose my rule” kind of way. You do as I say, or consequences will arise.
I like McGraths final thoughts, that science is wonderful, it informs things, it doesn’t determine things.
Overall, there are a few insights I gained from McGrath, but he wasn’t my favorite Christian debater I have heard so far.