Why I changed my mind

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #281

You are good. Let me ask you a question. How many people must America bomb for you to be convinced that US is not a morally good country (when it comes to foreign affairs)? Russia annexed Crimea, so they are evil, but the US bombed how many countries in the last few years? And the current (Christian) administration is itching for a nuclear war with North Korea. Where does this end?

As I said, these issues are not all black and white. There is much good that America does in the world also.


Another way to put it is that good people will do good and bad people will do bad, regardless of their religious views.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #283

Why do you seem to make it black and white?

Through the genius of science I am able to speak directly to you, if I am not mistaken a citizen of Russia. I would like to discuss an issue which troubles me, because I have studied Russian history, I know Russian, I visited the Moscow, Leningrad, Riga, Stalingrad, and Kiev, and admire the Russian people. I do not admire the current regime of Putin and his oligarchs.

As I am sure you know, there is a civil war in Syria between the Assad regime which is based on a Shiite sect. The Shiites are the minority in Islam and usually they are discriminated against by the Sunnis. However this regime has become a brutal dictatorship which has waged a brutal war against its citizens. It is opposed by Sunni rebels, who seem to have broad support among the people. Also in the fight are Sunni Jihadists.

Both the US and Russia oppose the Jihadists. The US cautiously supports the rebels in an attempt to find a peace that will replace the current regime without causing the chaos that happened in Iraq, but Russia along with Iran steadfastly backs the Assad regime, no matter how brutal they are. Why doesn’t Putin care how immoral the Assad regime behaves?


I find this argument to be not worthy a discussion board like this. It is shallow. It belongs on Facebook or a meme page.

Arguably, we are discussing between three options: atheism, pantheism, or monotheism. All other options fit in there somehow. Zeus? Well, he’s either “top god” (in which case, all the other “gods” are not really gods) or he is not “top god” (in which case somebody else is “top god”), both of which are variations of monotheism, or he is a representation or of product of Nature, in which case you’re talking about polytheism.

If you’re truly talking about the “top god” and we’re talking monotheism, then we’re merely arguing about the nature and characteristics of that “top god.”

Ironically, the first Christians were accused of being atheists.


For three reasons: Oil, oil, and oil. While Syria has relatively small oil and gas reserves, they do hold great potential as a transport hub for fossil fuels which is extremely important for getting Russian petroleum products into Europe.


I prefer Euthyphro’s Dilemma as a deeper starting point for discussing the relationship between morality and religion. The question posed by the dilemma is if a command is moral simply because God commands it, or does God command it because it is intrinsically moral. This same dilemma reared its head in the Nuremburg trials where Nazi officers tried to escape justice by claiming they were “just following orders”.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #287

Bear in mind, there is a minority view within Evangelicalism called annihilationism, which says that when the Bible talks about a fire that consumes, it means that the fire actually consumes, rather than pretending to consume while somehow not consuming for all eternity. Celebrated British evangelical John Stott was an annihilationist. Of course, it is a minority view, but some (like Edward Fudge or Jeff Cook) find it compatible with the Biblical evidence as well as more satisfactory from other angles as well.

Just my $0.02.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #288

I don’t. I keep repeating myself on this point. No country is completely innocent and completely guilty. If Hitler did not kill the Jews and other innocent civilians, but did everything else he did, I doubt he would be considered the villain he is today. These issues are not as clear cut as the historians claim.

Also, I was born in Kiev City, so have a Ukrainian background, but Russian roots as well. As you may know, Stalin was Georgian.

Say what you want about Putin, but he saved Russia from a complete collapse. The West was not helpful to the Russians and mistook their kindness for weakness. Hence, the CIA supported Chechen ‘rebels’ while fighting Islaimic terrorists elsewhere. Notice, as soon as the Terrorists crossed Russian border, they became rebels. Russian oligarchs under Yeltsin, with the help from Western banks, took over Russia’s national resources, privatised them and started siphoning them off to the west. The scheme worked like this. Oligarch buys a National company (sometimes killing the official standing in their way), and gets a nice monetary bonus for the efforts. The company starts taking Russia’s resources, sells them at a very deep discount to the Western company (Russia sees little tax money as a result) and then the Western company flips the commodity for an even bigger profit. )

Putin came power (Btw, as an aside, I recently heard that Putin was supposed to be the fall man, Russia was supposed to collapse under his watch, but he turned out to be Russia’s savior) and put the stop to the scheme. To much chagrin from the West, Putin rebuilt Russia’s military might and is now asserting himself as a superpower. Bad for the US, but good for Russia and the Russian people (remember, I said these things are not all black and white)

I am aware that in 2003, US invaded Iraq (contrary to the international norms and violating UN authority). The vacuum of power left after Saddam Hussein caused Al Qaida to grow in Iraq and then, joining other networks in the area, to become ISIS. And the ironic situation happened. As the US is fighting terrorists, ISIS grows and becomes a strong power in the region, taking over parts of Iraq, Lybia (US removed Qaddafi from power too, what a coincidence) and Syria (US tried to remove Assad from power too, who would have thunk it?)

Notice something interesting. Lets think like reasonable people. How could ISIS grow? They need people, finances and resources/weapons, etc… How were they able to obtain them, if every other government in the area is a US ally? And ISIS, at it’s peak, was making millions of dollars per day! Rivaling a small country’s GDP. All without sanctions from the US or the West.

The more I study information about Assad, the more I think the West was trying to frame him. Think about it. As ISIS advances on Assad’s forces, he is not using chemical weapons. But right before UN Security council is due to meet about Syria… BAM… Assad delivers a chemical attack on his civilans (but NOT ISIS).

ISIS is on the run in Syria now. And their retreat coincided with Russia getting into Syria. US was there all this time, why didn’t ISIS retreat then? Because US had an agenda. US thought that ISIS could help remove Assad from power. It’s not personal, just business.

I’m a US Citizen now, and it pains me to see what my country is doing. I wish we listened to the likes of Ron Paul more. On the other hand, I do enjoy the freedom of speech here and the Constitutional freedoms afforded every citizen here. Not all black and white, see?

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #289

That’s all fine and good, but even if minority view is right, God still burns up A LOT of people, much more than any human tyrant ever could or did.


And yet, as William Lane Craig pointed out to Rebecca Goldstein in their recent debate (along with Jordan Peterson) at Wycliffe Seminary in Toronto a couple of weeks back, Euthyphro’s dilemma has been effectively “solved” a long time ago; in short, it’s not God’s whim or God’s adherence to a higher moral law–goodness is defined by his character, by who he is.


How do we determine that God’s character is good? Do we say that God’s character can not be questioned and must be assumed to be good? Or, do we look at God’s actions and determine that his character is good using our own moral judgment?


Are you familiar with the Moral Argument as effectively communicated by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity?


It’s been about 25 years since I went over that material, so feel free to refresh my memory.


Okay, I didn’t want to be pedantic and repeat what you might already have known.

I don’t know if I can do it justice, but it’s something like this:

  1. We all recognize some kind of overarching morality (even those who deny it will cry foul if you punch them in the face for no good reason–and is there every a legitimate reason to punch someone in the face?).

  2. There must be some kind of overarching morality that our “sense of morality” derives from or points to.

  3. Any “set of laws” could not be the “ultimate moral authority” because any such set would be subject to our moral appraisal–is it a “good set”? Or a “bad set”?

  4. The only solution is a moral Lawgiver who determines Good, not by his pronouncements, but by his very character. Something is “good” (whether or not he says or commands it) if it conforms to his intrinsic good character.

i think that’s the gist of it. Anybody else is welcome to chime in to clarify, correct, criticize, condone, condemn, or caricature.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #295

“To imagine that cosmologists cannot answer that question without somehow invoking God is a classic God-of-the-gaps move. I know that Dr. Craig says that that’s not what he’s doing, but then he does it.”
Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/11/when-christianity-hits-reality-the-william-lane-craig-vs-sean-carroll-debate/#D6a4GXYTmdUdWtYD.99

Seems to me thiis solution by WLC of a Eutyphro dilemma is a distinction without a difference. It’s just a claim by WLC


Sorry, but perhaps you shouldn’t really consider this ‘Bob Siedensticker’ a particularly reliable source on Craig’s argumentation. That Patheos article is so chock full of mistakes it’s really hard to wrap your head around it. Bobby is just one more troll who wouldn’t last two minutes in a ring with Craig.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #297

Craig would not last two minutes with me…IF I start to speak Russian.

I thought Sean Carroll did well against Craig. He even had slides showing to Craig that the people Craig was quoting did not hold the position Craig implied they did.

Here is the synopsis

But Christians will respect Craig no matter what.


I’d say Carroll was the best opponent Craig has ever had. Still, I don’t see how showing Alan Guth basically disagrees with his own theory was much to thwart Craig. I’d say the debate was a tie.

TMM is an even more ridiculous guy. I’ve already seen that video, he easily chops up the debate.


And you wouldn’t last two minutes with me if I start to speak Dutch. What is the relevance of that?

I can kick your butt in Star Wars trivia too…does that make me superior in arguments about God?

Weird argument.


I hate to sound obscurantist but to dismiss the solution as “a distinction without a difference” is to demonstrate that you don’t understand the argument.