Unpleasant conversations between atheists and theists


There could certainly be a being who believes that he is God, but which is not. If this being has been created by another being, then he is not a final cause, and thus, he is not God. But yeah, “how God knows that he knows” is a puzzling question, I have to admit it, maybe it is one of these things our human minds cannot compreehend (which I’m sure is a answer that will not make you happy, haha). But I think that we can at least agree that God being omniscient within the universe is perfectly consistent, if God is the force which sustains it, it could as well have perfect access to everything in the universe at all times (block universe, maybe?).

I don’t see how that is incoherent with the idea of a God which is the creator and sustainer of the universe, and omnipotent and omniscient at least in within the boundaries of the universe/existence (God is able to do anything logically possible, and is aware of everything that happens in existence), and if God is already perfect, he doesn’t need to change his mind/be unpredictable, perfection is actually pretty simple in that sense of being predictable, Richard Swinburne actually uses that as a central argument to dispute the claim of Richard Dawkins that using God as an explanation makes things more complicated instead of more simple.



But I don’t think it really is a problem to many christians, God not changing his mind could be a sign of perfection, not a flaw, since chaning your mind is usually the result of an improvement over a previous state, I think you would find the discussion in this video interesting:


Quick disclaimer first, I had responded the whole thing in a single post first, but the forum seems to have swallowed the first half of the response, maybe there was too much text, that is why the answers are out of order.

Well, I defined God as the first cause of the universe, which created it and sustains it (and has agency), the implications of that would be an universe which is rationally organized and which has intrinsic purpose and meaning. That vision is not in disagreement with most definitions I’ve seen by theologians and deists.

The problem with this argument is that it equals “omnipotence” to “being able to do anything, even if it is nonsense, like making 2 + 2 = Fish or calculating the mass of the color blue”, creating a rock so heavy that an omnipotent being can’t lift it is also a nonsensical claim, so it doesn’t fit with a definition of omnipotence as “doing anything that is logically possible”. About the conservation of mass, I will link Alvin Plantinga’s treatment of this theme, which I think is pretty spot on.


mmm … would hate to jump in …

The first question, it appears to me, assumes that a reason for, or reasons for believing in Christianity are identical or equivalent of those for believing in other religions. Do you hold the position that the reasons for believing in Christianity are identical to those for believing in other religions, like Islam or Buddhism?

As for the second question, it appears simple enough for me. I think philosophers have already skewered these depths and there is nothing logically inconsistent with God. Omnipotence is the ability to do all things. God is a maximally great being. Simple, no bugs.

EDIT: I saw in a later comment of yours, you pulled the classic “can God create a rock so large that He can’t lift?” Here, I’d seriously recommend you start reading the works of professional philosophers, an argument akin to this one would never get published in a journal of the religion of philosophy today anymore. The question is fallacious to begin with, since it actually assumes, a priori, that it is indeed possible for a rock to be so big that God can’t lift it. However, such a rock is logically incoherent, since there is no such thing as a certain weight measurement that somehow cannot be ‘lifted’ by an omnipotent being. The question, therefore, is actually logically incoherent itself to begin with, it would be like asking “can God create a square circle?” or “can God toad a blue?” The answer to these questions is “No, God cannot do that, because you’re requiring God do logically incoherent things, which is impossible.” This does not violate omnipotence, as omnipotence is the ability to do anything. But what you just outlined in your question is not a thing at all, since it’s logically incoherent, it’s just a jumble of English words that don’t actually make any sense at all.

(Christy Hemphill) #65

Moderator note:

@gbrooks9 is correct to remind everyone that the primary purpose of these boards is not to debate the rationality of Christianity. As moderators we realize it is an interesting topic for many and as long as the conversations are civil and somewhat productive we don’t actively censor them that much when they diverge into atheist/theist discussion. But please keep in mind that these discussions are tangential to our mission.

Since this is @Totti 's OP and he has stated that he doesn’t mind that the topic has wandered far afield into other areas of discussion, I am fine letting the thread alone. @gbrooks9 If I split off a new topic, it would make the atheist/theist debate it’s own primary thread, which we are trying to discourage. So I would rather just leave it here as is.


Atheists do tend to require independent verification for things that are said to exist. That doesn’t mean they require such verification for all their decisions. I don’t know of any atheists who need empirical measurements in order to decide which ice cream flavor to order.

(George Brooks) #67

@T_aquaticus, naturally, the category of decisions I intended were those involving conjectural statements about metaphysics.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #68

Let me assure you, these sorts of tactics drive us Forum regulars (I’m one, too; nice to “meet” you, David) up the wall, too! For us, it’s not only depressing, but it can be maddening, too, because we know such folks are unnecessarily giving our God a bad name.

Thank you for your sensible, amicable approach here, my friend. I will say that I think the original poster felt comfortable posting here in part because he already knows there are several atheist “regulars” here on the Forum these days who are NOT like the people he was complaining about. We occasionally get some really strident YEC folks here but the atheists that are interested in the sort of dialogue we’re having here tend to be of the moderate sort… for which we’re grateful!

(Luca) #69

You are right. The atheists here are very nice and smart. So i enjoy talking and sometimes discussing with them. The people i wrote about in my OP are the ones i don’t like to talk to. Just because they get very rude and start throwing remarks at me instead of what i’m saying. And as you know they aren’t really looking for any increase in knowledge. Because they think they already know it all. (Everything i say can and do also count for certain Christians.) But I think the people here enjoy discussing because we learn from it. Every topic i posted and every reply i have sent to atheist and Christian or Agnostic, Have taught me tons! And i enjoy learning things. And i enjoy nice people!

(Christy Hemphill) #70

That’s because people get kicked out if they can’t behave themselves and play by the rules. We like nice people too. :slight_smile:

(Luca) #71

I am happy for that rule!
I do think the people that are regulars here would still be nice though.
But i am very grateful for this site/forum.

(Christy Hemphill) #72

I think so too. But having real moderation attracts people who are actually interested in productive conversation and deters the type who just want to hear themselves type. I’m grateful for this forum too, because I think it is one of the best places on the internet to chat with smart people. I wasn’t even all that interested in science when I first started checking it out. But I was interested in intelligent conversation with people who read books and actually know things you can’t just learn on YouTube. It doesn’t seem like there are many places you can find that without getting sidetracked by or having to wade through a lot of stupid discussions with rude people.

(Luca) #73

Yes. Especially the youtube comment section is full of rubbish!
(small off topic)Speaking of books, I’m going to the library tomorrow to see if they have one of the 5 books i have on my list!

(Christy Hemphill) #74

If they don’t you could consider getting a trial membership to scribd.com. They have lots of books. The first month is free.

(Luca) #75

Thanks for the suggestion! I might even buy a membership in the end!
But i’ll always prefer real books. :slight_smile:

(George Brooks) #76

@Christy a good idea. And it is compatible with one more!


Most library systems in America have rights to the “Inter-Library Loan” program… which uses the world catalog system. Locate a book in the system, enter your library card, and click the button. You are usually restricted to 3 to 5 books at any one time (depending on the region)… but when the book comes in, they email you or text you and you can keep it out for a couple of weeks… and even renew it once or twice. Then return it.

I’ve received inter-library loans from Canada to Florida… and except for the rarest of occasions, it doesn’t cost the user a penny, but it increases the usage statistics for the donor library and the receiving library.

It’s a real “Win/Win/Resurrection” operation !!!

(Robin) #77

The reason people – atheists or otherwise-- can become :“very unpleasant” is because this is the internet. Go online, say what you want to someone who is nothing more than a couple paragraphs on a website – and they do not know who you are or where you are and cannot come hit you – if they wanted to…

There is also something to be said for the old maxim :“politics and religion” being two things you do not talk to people about. The Internet is exactly where these things DO get talked about…

Additionally there is the matter of spiritual warfare. People are willing to challenge you because they have read a book or article somewhere. But if you have information that conflicts with that, then their argument has been rendered null and void – even in their minds, Their defenses have been destroyed and they can either admit that you are right or start calling you names and mocking or scoffing.

In the end, everything boils down to someone’s personal beliefs and their desire to maintain them.

(Luca) #78

Can i use it in Belgium?

(Luca) #79

I agree with you! But to me respect is everything, I pay a lot of attention to respect. And it bothers me when someone is being treated without respect like they are less than the person who is calling the names.

(I think you can also exchange respect with manners. I am not sure wich one is best to use.)

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #80

Only if you pronounce it something like “eentair librrrrairrree loan.” :smiley: