Unpleasant conversations between atheists and theists

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #81

(Just joking in good fun, I hope it’s ok. My family and I have visited Belgium and loved it and its people very much. And their English was most often actually quite good. :slight_smile: )

(Robin) #82

Yes, you can use respect with manners. But when people feel strongly about something, they tend to not comprehend why you feel differently. And as one of the BioLogos coordinators said elsewhere – others may be reading your comments while not joining in on the conversation. So be respectful of the person you are addressing, and your comments and thoughts — and perspective — may be “heard” by those you are not even addressing …even if your immediate conversation partner is just playing games or blowing smoke. Most of us have pretty good smoke detectors – after some point in life, that is!!

Blessings to you – and always show courtesy, Tutti.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #83

I think that you are mistaken. The philosophy of God is not simple, if only because the God of Christianity is not Simple, but Trinity. To dismiss this concern is simplistic, although it does not threaten the existence of God, but Who God is, which is the essence of our faith.

Is God Personal as the Bible says, or Impersonal as philosophy says.

Does God care or is God impassive?

If God is omnipotent, then how can humans act on their own?

If God knows the future, then the future has already been determined and there is no freedom.

(Luca) #84

Haha i thought that was funny! Too bad my french isn’t the best. I’m from the flemish side!

(George Brooks) #85


If you develop the habit to always highlight a sentence or at least a word or two… and then click the gray pop-up button that says “QUOTE”… it automatically links your response to the original posting.

When you write “Can I use it in Belgium?”… and there’s no linking back to the posting that triggered your question, and lots of posts above… I really don’t know what your question means.

Save everyone lots of time… and try to always have some text quoted into your response…

(Luca) #86

Sorry i didn’t know it wouldn’t link you. Sorry again didn’t mean to.

(George Brooks) #87

So what was the question? Or was it just humor?

(Luca) #88

Well i’m not sure if i have understood your original comment.
Cause i live in Belgium i don’t think i can use the services you have said. :slight_smile:


I think that you are mistaken. The philosophy of God is not simple, if only because the God of Christianity is not Simple, but Trinity. To dismiss this concern is simplistic, although it does not threaten the existence of God, but Who God is, which is the essence of our faith.

I’m not dismissing any concern, I think you’re bringing up a different question. So, originally, the question was: what is God? A maximally great being. Fair enough. The Trinity is certainly a maximally great being, otherwise it wouldn’t be God. But, now, who is the Trinity? That’s a separate, albeit more complex question. It can be articulated, though, even though we may not necessarily be able to comprehend it (but we can’t comprehend special relativity either, though it is factually correct and is mathematically sound, so human comprehension can’t be the determinate of accuracy).

So, you ask a few other questions, which I think are separate from what I originally said.

Is God Personal as the Bible says, or Impersonal as philosophy says.

Why do you believe philosophy says God is impersonal? WLC clearly holds to a personal God.

If God is omnipotent, then how can humans act on their own?

By God not impeding on our free will: being able to control us, but not doing so.

If God knows the future, then the future has already been determined and there is no freedom.

There are a few ways to determine the error in this statement. C.S. Lewis has demonstrated one of them undoubtedly in Mere Christianity, I think in the chapter Time and Beyond Time. God already encompasses all of time, past present and future. So every moment, whether or not its the first moment after the Big Bang occurred, or it’s now, or a year into the future, is the present for God. Therefore, there was no ‘moment’ in reality in which God could have determined our futures for us, since it had, again in God’s perspective, already played out. Therefore, our freedom is not relevant to God’s eternal state in the slightest (it is not the case that God “knows” the future, as if God exists in our universe in our temporal state of time, God is in the future), the only question that has relevance to our freedom is whether or not God chose to endow us with it in the first place. And that’s a theological, not philosophical, question. I believe God gave us freedom, and there is no logical argument that can show the contrary to this. Now, I’m not saying that makes it correct. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying it makes my position logically coherent.

(George Brooks) #90


AH! You mean the inter-library loan service? The public libraries in Belgium (or some other
vast and generous country next door) do not have a similar practice?

I did not know you lived in Belgium!

(Luca) #91

I actually have no clue how the libraries work. It’s been quite a while since i’ve been there. But i do know that my student card will give me a big discount…Or maybe even let me lend books for free!


Interlibrary loans are a system where different libraries loan each other magazine articles or books so that the people who go to one library can potentially have access to the materials of many libraries. It also spreads out the cost of subscriptions and book purchases which can be pretty expensive. If you do go to the library you should ask if they have a system where libraries share books and magazines with each other. It’s been a while since I went to a library as well, so it might be worth asking if they have online subscriptions to any major scientific journals like Science and Nature.


Am I wrong to point out that this is in the general discussion section? Not scientific evidence or biblical interpretation?

I thought all forums have a “lounge” area or “water cooler” to discuss what you want. Though I understand specific topics like politics are explicitly not allowed. But I thought “general discussion” could discuss anything. Though I understand sports isn’t very intellectual and and this is more of a intellectual people here.

I enjoy coming here to learn, but it is also a breath of fresh air to see mostly open minded respectful people. I see it as a place to debate and learn how others view my beliefs and perhaps change my perspective on things. A intellectual workout of sorts.

Is this a problem with religion, or could you be misunderstanding a religion?

What @BoltzmannBrain said. I would just add, and who deserves all worship, and created us to worship Him too, and to love Him, which loving Him is worshiping Him.

I don’t think so. I don’t see anywhere in scripture that says this. I think this is a common caricature of who God is, though there is no scriptural reason for this. I would say there is scripture that says the opposite actually. Can an omnipotent being create a rock so large that can’t move, or make a square circle? No. God can’t sin either. He is powerful (He created the whole universe, including the minute intricate details on a molecular level, and the insanely fine engineered the laws of constants). We can’t fathom His power or intelligence, so omnipotent is close enough, but semantics to say that no, technically not omnipotent.

Omnibenevolent, yes. But that requires us to define morals, so it is easier and I think more accurate to say He is holy.

Physical? I have non clue. The scriptural accounts go beyond what my mind can comprehend.

Are you searching for those above answers? Or are you searching to know God, who created you? I think if you earnestly seek to know your Creator, you will find Hoim, or He will find you, and make Him known to you.

Nope, He gave that choice to us.

The punishment/consequences of sin is death (spiritual death, which is separation from God). But Heaven is a neat place physically, but the greatest part is to be with our Creator, and praise Him for all He has done and continues to do. Hell is just a place for those that reject God, those who have sinned, those spiritually dead. Hell will physically suck, but the worst part is being separated from God. Which some believe (I am not convinced either way myself) that eternal damnation/separation from God, is Hell. We don’t rise again to live in the torture of hell, rather we cease to exist, we are eternally separated from our creator.

Unfortunately, all of us have sinned. None of us can be holy like God is. A single sin is missing the mark. The only way to live a holy life is to live a life dependent on God. The first time we try to do it, we will sin. We are rejecting God and how He created us to be dependent on Him. The good news is that God still loves us, despite us rejecting Him. So He sent His Son to live a perfect life (with His help, as Jesus was a man too, and needed God’s help to live a sinless life) and at the death of Jesus, sin (or the consequence/death of sin), was also conquered. Now if we believe in what Jesus did to atone for our sins, and want to be with God again, we can be, AKA heaven.

What sense would it make to go to heaven to be with God for eternity if you rejected God and didn’t want Him?

Your misguided understand of it might be incoherent, but the truth of it is quite logical.

I would say the same to you. There are many athiest on this board that I would have a beer with.

I also don’t think you are understanding the Bible correctly. God is honoring their choice to reject Him. It wasn’t like God said “Fine, you reject me, I condemn you to hell”. More of a "You rejected me, but I love you, I will send my only Son to earth, to show you how humanity was supposed to be and to provide a way for you to be with me again at the expense of my Son who I dearly love and it is understood in humans how much a good son is loved, but I love and value you so much.

This is hwy God told us not to try and make idols of Him. His image can’t be captured by human hands. It took a few thousand years of examples of continuous love and redemption despite us rejecting Him over and over, for Him to give us His Son which best represented Him.

I don’t know if incoherent is the word I would use though, rather incomprehensible, above our minds. Much like linear algebra and quantum physics is incomprehensible to a 3 year old, but not incoherent.

It is so unfortunate that you were lead this way. Sometime people resort to rejecting God and faith in Him, that God is responsible and the only one that can save, they try to save others with tier “logic” and try to scare them to heaven. But heaven is not a reward or something that can be earned. We can be reconciled to God now in this life, and the life to come. That is the gospel!

Eternal torute is one way to interpret it, and it might be correct that we do live in hell forever. But if that is true (and not the Anihilationist way) I still don’t think the torture part is the fire. Pain is good on earth, it informs us of impending doom if we don’t change something to stop the pain. If you are living forever, you would possibly get used to it, or it would be uncomfortable like hot day in the sun beating on you. The true torture in my opinion is going to be the lack of God. Everything that is good in this world comes form God, and apart from Him won’t be there. That is why there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Like a cornered rat fearing for his life gnashes his teeth, or a scared little boy with no parent crying. There will be great fear and anger and sadness apart from God, that is torture.

I am not convinced that those in hell might become so bitter and angry at God that they will never turn towards Him. People have such pride on earth, why not in hell? The eternal part might be on their own hands, rejecting their Creator for an eternity.

But there is no need to fear eternal separation from God. Jesus came so that we can know God again, be with God and worship Him as He intended for us as we live a “normal” life. Using the gifts He graciously blessed us with to give Him the glory and love our fellow man.

Something is evil because it tries to go against God. I think that is what Satan means, against or apposing God. There is evil going against God, and there is unholiness. Unholiness doens’t directly go against God in an antagonistic way, but it still isn’t God. God is holy, anything not holy is a sin. Sin is rejecting God’s rule over your life, but not necessarily attacking Him.

Every created thing was created to give God glory, that is how everything is designed. The stars do it by burning gas brightly, everything does it by doing what it was designed to do. Humans however were given a choice to do what it was designed to do, or not.We were given a special status of image bearers of God, to give Him more glory than the angels and heavens. He gave us a great power, that we failed to use properly. We gave that power to evil, and sinned.

If you cut off your head, will you die? Is that death a punishment? Or a consequence? Death is a consequence of sin more than a punishment. If you reject God, He allows you to reject Him and you are separated from Him. Completely just. He could have left it at that, but gave us such great mercy to give us another chance by His mercy, love and grace, AND to glorify Him as all things are intended to do. God was glorified in sending Jesus and Jesus dying for us, so that we can know Him and glorify Him as intended.

This was never God’s intent. But in the fallen world we live in, this is what occurred. We don’t know what happened to this adulterer though. Maybe killing them was a merciful way to save them? Maybe if they continued living that life, they would have brought others down, or maybe became more depraved themselves? All we do know is that, that is what God instructed, and we also know that God is loving, merciful, patient, and gracious. I don’t have all the answers as to who goes to heaven. But we see countless examples of God honoring those who want to know Him in faith. We are all sinners, I am no better than the adulterer. Perhapse the flawed adulterer still wanted a better life and wanted to know her Creator? Would God forgive her and allow her to be with Him? We know heaven and hell doens’t exist yet, heaven will come to the new earth after the second coming. Were these people given a chance to learn what Jesus did for them whilst floating around in sheol? I don’t know. But again, merciful and loving despite our flaws/sins, if we want to know Him, but before Jesus, they couldn’t. God provides ways out when there is none.

Thankfully now, there is a way, and Jesus is the Way.

But Jesus wasn’t disobeying the law. He wanted it enforced, and said I want you to throw a stone at her, and start with the one who hasn’t sinned. He then forgave her, and freed her from that punishment. Like He does for everyone!

But He isn’t judging you for disobeying His law, He is judging (honoring your choice) you for rejecting Him. The disobeying of His law is there to show how holy He is.

That is greatly unfortunate. Sin takes great advantage of us. When we try to take control (even with good intentions) it often turns out bad. IE. Pro-life crowd, intent is to save babies, but they often end up hating, yelling and shaming others.If we trusted God will protect or care for the unborn, we could educate in love. But this just goes to show that we cna’t do it, we are in need aof a savior who did it for us.

The path to a fulfilled life or living as we were created, isnt’ anything we can do, it is accepting what Jesus did for us.

So yes, if you reject Him here on earth in the temporary life, you are rejecting Him for an eternity, and rejecting and being separate from Him is hell, regardless of how you live your life.

But once receiving the grace of God and being reborn, one is compelled to live their lives the best they can to honor God because of love, not because it will save or condemn.

I don’t have any answers on this one…I would lean more towards our thoughts?

Yes, I believe this is the breath of God that Adam was given. A soul and knowledge of who God was, and Adam’s blessing of being an image bearer of God. Everyone who Adam communicated with was given that same status. This is why all have sinned “through” Adam, or was started with him.

I am not convinced anything else has a soul. Everything is created/designed with the purpose of giving God glory. All things that do as they are designed, give God glory. However humans were given a special status of an image bearer of God, and came with a soul that could reject God and die, yet the physical body still lived.

That is pretty interesting. That sounds like inception. They implanted that persons idea to get a drink and they didn’t know it.

I believe God chose Homo Sapiens to be His image bearers because of their intellect compared to the other animals. Some humans never develop their brains fully (like aborted babies). I don’t have answers to all questions, but again, I know that God is just, loving, merciful, and gracious.

(Christy Hemphill) #94

We ask that the topics posted (even in the general discussion part) be somehow related to the intersection of faith and science. And we ask that people make some effort to stay on topic, though some amount of wandering off on rabbit trails is to be expected. People are welcome to discuss any topic they would like using our private message system, where you can include any users you would like in the discussion by tagging them or typing their name in the “to” field, and where conversations are not moderated.

(Luca) #95

I would rather say God cannot do anything that is logically impossible. All those things you have as objections to is God omnipotent are actually logically impossible. The “can God create a rock so big he can’t carry” is a classic example of this. And can God sin is the same. Sin is an act against God, God cannot go against himself.

Do you think he is omniscient?


If you add that caveat or that is your definition of omnipotent, then I would agree more, but there still is no scripture saying that He is.

If I hand you keys to my car and say you can go anywhere, am I lying? Well you can’t go to the moon, so was I lying?

When the Bible says God can do all things or anything, I don’t think they are lying either. I will not be the one to limit God’s powers, I can’t really define how powerful He is, so an easy way out is to use omnipotent. I think it is more semantics than anything in my opinion.

Omniscient and omnipresent I think go in the same category. I am not a believer of predestination. I am also not sure if God can be outside of time and inside of time at the same time. Kind of like a square can’t be a circle at the same time, the definitions won’t allow it. If He is outside of time, that is less personal. Can you really be with someone or have a relationship with someone outside of time?

But we also have to define time. There is the time of what has occurred and the time of relative measurement. We measure time in different methods, and time can slow down the faster you travel. But no matter how slow or fast time goes, the past happened, and cannot be changed.

I do not believe (nor do I have any scripture that says different) that God can change the past. Though God knows the past, He is living in the present, with us.

I also don’t think God knows the future in the sense of He has a crystal ball and can see every single detail and know what we will do 50 years down the road. I think God has incredible power and influence, and His ultimate will, will be done like a train moving down the tracks, a mouse isn’t going to stop it, nor is a house, it will barrel right through it all. So in that sense, He knows the big picture future, that is predestined. But I don’t think He knows what we will chose to do and the small details.

Like our kids, we train them, we generally know what they are going to do, and it is awesome when we test our kids and they do what we hoped they would do and what we trained them to do. But that is why we test them, to see if they will do as trained, or if they need more training. Testing is a good thing, it lets us know the progress and if one is ready for greater things.

But God knows our thoughts, so in a way, He knows what we will chose in the immediate, but not a few days from now. I think it is much more personal for Him to live in the now with us.

He knows way more than we can comprehend, His engineering brilliance is beyond comprehension, but I wouldn’t go as far to say omniscient, but again, semantics.

And if one is not at all points of time in the future and the past, one isn’t technically omnipresent (everywhere). Nor will God be in hell, but that is also a logical fallacy, If hell is separation from God, of course god can’t be there.

It is all mostly semantics. So the short answer is God is omni-present,scient, benevolent, potent ect. But if one is to challenge those words, I am not scared to delve away from those words.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #97


Thank you for your input, but I would like to make some comments which clarifies why there are some issues in how Christians understand God. The Jews understood God through the Hebrew Bible. The Greeks understood reality or Being through philosophy, which in many ways replaced their gods.

Christianity’s role was to bring these two together to make both Jews and Greeks Christian, which it did to a remarkable agree by uniting the best of theology with the best of philosophy with the Trinity which was new to both.

However there is still a Greek/Biblical duality to our understand of God. All of those “omni” descriptives, starting with omnipotent are foreign to Hebrew thought. They are based on Latin words. That does not make them wrong, but they need to be used carefully, because God is not the God of Plato and Aristotle, but the God of Jesus and Paul.

I prefer to use the definition of God that God used for Godself, and that is I AM WHO I AM. YHWH. Exodus 3:14. That still leads to the dichotomy between Biblical theology and systematic theology, which needs to be resolved, particularly because science for good reason finds traditional philosophy in valid and I agree. We need to reconcile theology, science, and philosophy by making them all relational.

The other issue is the issue of the Law/Torah. The best way to understand this is to look at the purpose of the Law, in particular the Decalogue, which we Protestants see as the law, rather than the Torah, or first five book of the Bible. The Decalogue was given to Moses as the framework upon which to create the civil/religious law of a new nation which was then a motley collection of newly freed slaves.

The purpose of the4 law was to guide people as to what is right, so they could live as a harmonious nation. It is not to tell them what is wrong so God would have an excuse for punishing them. Following the Law establishes good relationships between people, while not following the law creates sin or bad relationships. Penalties set the by the law are intended to teach the offender the error in his/her ways and restore the relationship.

Jesus did not punish the woman caught in adultery because He determined that she had repented, so He forgave her with a warning to sin no more. Also the men who brought her to Him were not interested in justice, but using her to make a point.

Jesus created a New Covenant based on right relationship between God and humans, humans and others, humans and themselves. This avoids the pitfalls of legalism, although way to many Christians have fallen into that trap.

(Luca) #98

I don’t agree with that God can’t “see” the future. I personally don’t even think seeing is the right word.
And neither do i agree that God can work in time and be outside time at the same time. ( heh, Time time time :slight_smile: ) But all these questions or objections are very, very deep. I can’t start to answer them in this topic. Neither can i start to answer them alone. I do think @Korvexius @BoltzmannBrain @gbrooks9 @Mervin_Bitikofer have a better way with words to explain it.
Neither do i accept that God can’t be in hell. Cause i don’t believe hell is a place.


Very cool, I didn’t know that, thanks.


I agree with you, but that would be the Christian God, we were discussing the general/deist concept of God, that is why I didn’t include those characteristics.