An alternative Fry-up

You may well have seen it. Lots of people are sharing it around the web. Some are hailing it as a tour de force of irrefutable statements against the worship of God.

Yes, I’m talking about that video of Stephen Fry giving voice to his objection to God: people suffer. Specifically, children suffer. Therefore, he concludes, God is a monster, an evil and stupid being of such mean-minded and selfish caprice that he deserves no respect.

It’s a rather vehement and crude way of restating a problem that people have been talking about for centuries, with much thought, many tears, and considerable energy. Bizarrely, despite the fact that Fry says nothing new, or particularly creative, this short video seems to represent for many a visionary and powerful support for their disbelief in and/or hatred of God.

So, I’ve decided to offer my own few thoughts on a couple of problems with Stephen Fry’s invective against the divine, and serve a fry-up of my own; like him, I don’t offer any new insights, nor do I claim to put forward a comprehensive and thorough answer. But for Christians who are unsettled, or others who think he’s got a point, I want to prompt some further reflection about just how persuasive this video is, once you get past the rhetoric.

Given his chosen topic of disgust, I think I can at least stand as one who knows by experience, possibly better than Stephen Fry, about the pain of broken life to which he refers, and yet still have a vision of God as utterly compelling and wonderful, worthy of all respect, without whom life simply would not be.

From whence the complaint?

First, given what Stephen Fry believes about life, the universe, and everything, why does he even have a problem? If all that is, is the result of blind chance, an impersonal materialistic universe that just ‘happened’, then what’s the problem of suffering children? What is suffering? Why care? The weak die, the strong survive, the species carries on – the categories of ‘wrong’, or ‘injustice’, or ‘evil’ have no place.

Indeed, to speak in such terms is to assume that there is something which goes beyond us, and our universe, something to which we can appeal in order to be outraged at the way things are. From where does the ‘ought’ come? Why ought it to be the case that children don’t undergo pain, and hardship? In an impersonal universe of chance, where evolution is absolute, and we are nothing more than vibrating atoms, there is no claim to be made that some atoms should vibrate in a pleasing way. To suggest that the category of ‘evil’ can remain as a useful human construct misses the fact that whoever says something in the world is wrong, unjust, or evil, they appeal outside the human sphere of authority, to something (Someone?) transcendent.

Please, please, please note what I am NOT saying – I am NOT suggesting that people who do not believe in God are not good, or loving. I take it as an empirical fact that many who don’t believe do, to an embarrassing degree, far excel the church in charity, generosity, and love. What I am saying is that without God, there is no way of accounting for why we even care.

Any model which excludes the Christian God of love and perfection necessarily excludes the complaint that there is even such a thing as suffering, or injustice. In short – if these things trouble you, you (subconsciously, unwittingly) assume the necessary existence of God in order to make the case that God doesn’t exist.

As a child needs to be lifted onto her father’s lap in order to slap him in the face, Stephen Fry needs God in order to say anything at all about the misery of life.

Making it personal

However, Stephen Fry does not reference the fact that the problem of ‘evil’ is as much a problem for atheism (if not more) than it is for Christianity. He seems quite happy to argue on the basis that there is a God – his objection is simply that in light of the way things are, the God who created everything must be a reprehensible monster.

Fry has zeroed in on the severe suffering of very ill children to accuse God of evil, stupidity, and caprice. This is an emotive topic, one which touches a deep nerve in many people, and which deserves sensitive treatment.

I don’t say what follows in an attempt to claim firmer authority for my reflections on God, and suffering. I think God has enough authority on his own for that.

I simply want make clear that when I dismiss Fry’s allegations as misguided and ill-considered, I am not dismissing the real pain which many people have when they come to this question. As CS Lewis helpfully says through the words of Aslan in The Horse and His Boy, when it comes to the question why God allows suffering, we can only really deal with our own story, and not that of anyone else; abstract discussion has its place, but let’s not forget that we deal with individuals.

As you can read about in elsewhere on this blog, after burying my first child, my wife and I are now full-time carers for our second, our daughter Tilly. Tilly has a neurological disability so rare and severe that only ten cases have been reported worldwide. She has seizures, which shake her two year old body and make her turn blue as she stops breathing; her brain stem malfunctions, and causes a terrible movement disorder that sets her nerves on fire and makes her scream; she can’t swallow, so is fed through a tube into her bowel; she was fed through a tube into her stomach, but her stomach churned up so much that she vomited all the time, and we are now in the process of preparing to have her stomach sewn up; her lack of movement leaves her prone to chest infections, bowel infections, circulatory problems, joint pain, and a deformed spine. Her life expectancy is poor, and her life quality is too complicated to even pin down. Her vast cocktail of medicines can only make a dent.

I have watched her stop breathing more times than I care to count; I have administered aggressive drugs in order to break her out of long seizures, and then clasped oxygen to her face and called for emergency help as those drugs depressed her respiratory drive; I have watched her cough up blood from her raw and damaged stomach, and spent weeks of sleepless nights loitering by her bed with suction in my hand in case she started again.

Caprice? Evil? Selfish and mean-minded? Tempting though it might be to use Tilly’s condition as a reason to fall back on such clichéd captions concerning the God of the Bible, whom I worship, we need to do a little more thinking.


The God of the Bible

One of the most striking things about the Bible is that God seems singularly unembarrassed by the existence of suffering. The Bible doesn’t present it as a good thing, and it certainly doesn’t try and skirt around it. I mean, the songbook of the Bible (the Psalms), words God gave to his people to sing praise, is full of questions, and pain, and heartache, and suffering! The God who is willing to have us sing the bleak despair of Psalm 88 clearly doesn’t want to cover up the reality of life in a fallen world.

What I’m trying to say is that it is good, and right, that I am cut to pieces by grief when I think of Tilly. Like the songwriter who came up with Psalm 73, I look around at people whose children are fine, knowing that I would give everything those parents have given and more, and feel sad that my little girl has to endure such pain. I don’t know the reason.

And actually, that’s ok. Psalm 73 moves from questioning and pain, to the house of God, and the realization that he has a better understanding, and reasoning, and knowledge, than I do. I have the freedom to lament, and the firmness of the promise that ultimately, God is doing something I cannot fathom, but that it is good.

And it is here that we need to take a step back from what Fry has said, and realize where he’s gone wrong. He cannot make up a god to disagree with, and then complain that he is unsatisfactory; he needs to take account of what the God of the Bible has said concerning himself, rather than attacking a straw-god, a god in Fry’s own imagination.

The Christian God is, quite simply, not like us. He is not a bigger version of me. He is other. He is perfect, in ways that we cannot even begin to understand. He is his own goodness, justice, wisdom, and power.

With an arrogance that so sadly characterizes the brilliant and intelligent people of history, Fry assumes that God can have no reasons for the way things are that he, Stephen Fry, has not countenanced. He gives no consideration to the fact that a being wise and powerful enough to create the universe might just have access to factors, ideas, considerations, to moral qualities of love and goodness, that mere human beings cannot begin to comprehend. That He might have ends, and goals, which are beyond our understanding and judgment.

In the video, Fry claims that his atheism not only promotes unbelief in general, but also seeks to question what kind of God God might be, given the state of things. One wonders where his implicit claim to impartiality and authority to do so comes from, but the fact he claims it is obvious. In any event, it is clear that he has already prejudged any answers that might be given – why else is God stupid, evil, capricious, and so on?

His suspicion concerning God’s ability to be all-powerful and all-good is unfounded. He should instead be suspicious of his own ability to comprehend the infinite.

In removing the possibility that God might know more than him, might have a greater love and care, might have a perfect wisdom, Fry has also removed any semblance of the Christian God, and therefore removed the possibility of a real interaction with this question. It’s an effective presentational skill – neglect any real examination of another position, construct your own ‘opponent’ in its place, and then knock it down. Unfortunately, there is very little substance to it.

The Good News

As I mentioned above, I don’t have a philosophical answer that exhausts and resolves the heartache my family endures. I would be suspicious of someone who tried to offer it.

Christianity takes suffering very seriously. Without entering into all of the debates about free will and God’s sovereign control, the Bible is clear that suffering is not God’s moral fault, but ours. Humanity’s rebellion against God means that we are both victims and perpetrators; not that in any given instance, one moment of suffering is proportionate to an individual’s sin. Tilly’s condition is not due to a severe transgression in our lives; she does not suffer in this way because she personally deserves it more than others. Not at all; I speak corporately – humanity’s fall meant the fall and corruption of everything that God had made good.

So, suspicion and anger towards God is wrongly directed. The world suffers under the curse because humanity is in the wrong. We live in a world of injustice and pain precisely because we have walked away from the One who is perfect justice and joy; we suffer ugliness and strife because we have rejected the beautiful God of peace.

God would have been just to leave things as they are. But he did not. The essence of the Christian message about suffering is not philosophical speculation, but an announcement of good news, that God entered this world, in the person of Jesus Christ, taking human nature upon himself and suffering on a Roman cross, suffering the curse that we deserve, so that eternally, we might be free from its pain.

With a weakness that is yet strong enough to move mountains; with a stupidity that is yet wiser than Solomon (or Stephen Fry); with a perfect love so ferocious and pure in its brilliance that the highest act of human charity seems like a broken lamp in comparison, the triune God confounds all human speculation about his good omnipotence with the bloodied wood of Calvary.

We are not entitled to know God’s reasons for what he does, and allows. We may weep, and ache, with the question ‘why?’ We cannot, however, demand God’s justification according to our own standards, and consider him guilty until proven innocent. As a friend remarked concerning this video, it is a great presumption to demand such answers from the one who gives us our very lives.

Instead, we should take our hurt to the cross, and listen to Him who died in the place of sinners, asking a much more painful ‘why?’ The Son, fully willing and loving, hung there and asked “My God, My God, WHY have you forsaken me?”

Every drop of blood, every seizure, every tear, and every heartache we have known as a family, are bound up with that God-man Jesus as he experienced the stupidity and evil of suffering, the wise and just sentence of God, as he died in the place of sinners.

In that ‘why?’ all of our own find their resolution, even though we cannot fully grasp it:

“If we again ask the question: ‘why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?’ and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we now know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself.” (Tim Keller)

With resurrection hope, we look forward to the day when pain and sadness are no more. Tilly’s suffering is not the final part of her story, nor ours. We aren’t emotionless robots waiting for pie in the sky. By God’s grace, we know that the God who allows our situation is the God who sent his Son to save us, and give us eternal life. And one day, when the tears are gone, and there is nothing but the joy of new creation, we might, just might, start to know by sight what we now grasp by faith – that God is all-good, all-powerful, and if we ever doubt this, or wonder how they fit together, we need look no further than the cross, and have all the answers we need.

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60 thoughts on “An alternative Fry-up

    1. The author of the piece lost a vital element of Fry’s response, that is he was asked “what if” and
      the author being a committed christian could not assimilate the ” if ” and wasted a lot of text as
      a result. His struggled and convoluted understanding of the meaning of suffering would only make
      sense to a believer in the supernatural where the presence of reason is absent.

      Considering the authors personal travails he is quite entitled to seek solace and meaning that
      conforms to his belief system. With the exception of Atheists it appears that even adults need
      imaginary friends.

      All in all his response was the same old, same old, sans intelligence response, sometimes a
      apple is just a apple, you can try and make a pear out one but you will still end up with a apple.
      and thats what Stephen Fry gave you …………….. apples.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I should begin by saying that I respect your beliefs, and you have my sympathies regarding your own difficulties. You are correct in stating that the suffering of children is an enormously emotive issue, and for the sake of clarity, I will lay it aside for the moment.

    As an atheist, I want to make a point about the idea of what “ought” to be. You suggest that caring about suffering requires an absolute morality, and a deity to provide said code. I just wanted to say that this does not have to be the case. This might be a single world amongst billions of others where the conditions happened to be right for life to form and evolve. But we don’t need a universal philosophy to have a problem with the suffering of others. We need a simple tool: empathy.

    It’s simple, and fundamentally, not about the nature of the universe, but about the nature of humans. We care about the suffering of others because in their suffering we see our own. We wish to live in a world in which others to do not suffer so that the ones that we love do not suffer. Ultimately, I suppose it’s a selfish kind of caring, but isn’t that how most people care? Not a transcendental caring for all of humanity, but a focus on those close to us. Our societies, our families, etc. It’s all to easy to ignore the suffering of those far away from us. Ultimately I suppose this comes from an evolutionary urge: a harmonious society benefits us and our close relatives. We are wired to fear and hate suffering, and so we condemn the suffering of others.

    I’m not sure if this really answers of the question of ‘why’? But then that is the nature of philosophy in a universe which doesn’t really see fit to provide the answers.I just wanted to share my own point of view on the matter. Hope I’m not intruding.

    Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your courteous response to Chris’s article. You are absolutely correct to state that it does not have to be the case that one has to believe in an absolute morality or a deity to provide said code to care about suffering. As a Christian however, I would suggest that ‘empathy’ is far more in keeping with a Christian worldview than an atheistic/ evolutionary one. Yes, evolutionists can provide an explanation for human empathy, love, altruism and so on, but as evolutionist Dr Philip Skell admitted, ‘’Darwinian explanations for (such things) are too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centred and aggressive – except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable… When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behaviour, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.’’ (See creation.com/sexstories)

      In my own search for meaning and truth, I’ve come to wholly reject the naturalistic/ atheistic explanation of origins as deeply flawed and unsatisfactory. Yes, suffering is indeed a biggie and a tough reality for anyone to have to come to terms with, but I personally am satisfied that only the Bible offers a satisfactory explanation, if not all the answers. It also takes a deal of humility to accept that ‘we are not God’. This is a notable stumbling block for many atheists to accept and goes a long way to explaining why many though by no means all, are happy to rant and shake their fist at ‘the God who isn’t there’.

      I do not suggest that agnostics and all those who have made a conscious decision to reject God (atheists) do not display virtuous attributes. Yes, even atheists bear the image of God! We do not have, or claim to have, a monopoly on such things. I am merely suggesting that such attributes are more consistent with a Christian worldview than an atheistic one. The universe itself as you rightly point out ‘doesn’t really see fit to provide the answers’. That is the atheist’s dilemma. By definition, Christians look beyond the universe to a supernatural creator who transcends time and space (and has clearly revealed himself in the Bible), for answers. Many will doubtless object to my ‘reasons to believe’. Fair enough, I’m merely suggesting that Christianity is far more rationally coherent than many are willing to give it credit for and atheism has its own internal contradictions: Biological evolution, if true, is fundamentally a brutal process, so what’s not to like about it if one believes that’s the process by which we got here?

      With all good wishes.

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  2. First of all, I respect where you are coming from on this, given your family’s experience with suffering and pain. However, I’ll go ahead and share my thoughts on some of the points you brought up. I have not seen Fry’s video, but I just wrote an article on God and suffering that I suspect conforms to Fry’s view, regardless of whether I would see eye to eye with his approach or not.

    I suspect you are not familiar or are not interested in primatologist Franz de Waal’s work on morality and evolutionary psychology. There are plenty of reasons to believe that our sense of morality, of compassion, and care are a result of the evolutionary process that enabled us to live in social environments. To assume that the evolutionary process could not give us our compassionate tendencies does not reflect current research. And to assume that atheists have no reason to be outraged at wrongdoing misunderstands basic psychology.

    As far as objective morality, (another subject I wrote about recently as well) Christianity itself has no absolute and static moral laws; since it is built on Divine Command Theory (i.e. the inconsistent and sometimes brutal commands of God in the Bible). These commands are often contradictory, or have been made null by other writers through complicated supersessionist theologies. Christians and non-Christians alike must deal with the fact that morality cannot be reduced to absolutes.

    We humans are prone to project onto God, making him a moving target above criticism; revealing his hypothetical nature. I know this because I did that for years. The argument that he could have secret knowledge that somehow justifies the terrible suffering of the world seems ad hoc to me. If we are going to say that, why call him good? Because we do not know if he is good or not. He cannot be judged, so we cannot say he is anything if we approach it this way. His character is unfalsifiable.

    More challenging is the problem of omnipotence. How can God be all powerful and allow suffering? In the end, if God designed every person, why would he design us in a way that we can suffer? Why give the psychopath the brain he has, inviting sadistic actions? Even if God had secret knowledge, that would still not explain why he could not have designed a system where everything was good. No information can influence an all powerful God, so why would he be influenced by secret knowledge? To say he could be would be to assume that he had to create suffering in order to achieve a better end. This would make him an impotent moral consequentialist. Not trying to be irreverent, just taking the argument to it’s logical conclusion.

    Sin cannot account for this. And I think this is the reason atheists (myself included) are offended by the idea of God. As much as it seems unfair to you to criticize God (the one calling the shots), it is unfair for Christianity to criticize humans (I’m a humanist and find the doctrine of original sin appalling). Laying the blame on humanity for the suffering in the world is absolutely wrong, since man had nothing to do with suffering. Man did not design himself. Man did not create hurricanes and tsunamis. Man doesn’t even choose his brain makeup, which guides his actions. Adam and Eve are not me or you or the other 100 billion people who have lived and I don’t think that explanation is an adequate transfer of guilt.

    With all due respect I think you are approaching the subject wrong. I have a Christian friend who follows my blog and is a very intelligent and thoughtful person. He does not defend any view of suffering. He simply says that it is a mystery and doesn’t resort to the same philosophical backflips to explain it away. I respect that more than ad hoc rationalizations. is not a good idea to argue this subject with logic when there is no adequate answer. If Fry has a logical argument, let that stand on it’s own. Criticizing the tone or approach is one thing, but if the only logical refutation provided is an appeal to mysterious (contradictory) factors than I think the criticism is off base and not fair to Fry’s argument.

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    1. Thank you, ‘Think Always says’ you have rightly expressed the exasperations felt by most non believers
      who are confronted with the divine mystery arguments, its that same motive that drive the satirest a la
      Charlie Hedbo to lampoon what they consider the absurd. Instead of the political correct approach which says, “I respect your religion” there is a consensus myself included that say, I respect you but not your beliefs, this is nothing more than a accurate and honest response to give for the non believer, it removes you from being a co-conspirator in their chosen faith and somewhat relives ones exasperation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very true. There is nothing wrong with respectful disagreement, and as you wrote, disrespecting a belief. A person is not their beliefs, but when it comes to religion and politics we all too often build our sense of self around them. I believe it is each person’s responibility to not take it personally when a belief is questioned or argued against. After all, if your name is not attached to it, it has nothing to do with you.

        The mystery arguments are contradictions masquerading as explanations. Take a look at the amount of shares this post has received; Christians love these answers. Yet the only supposed explanation presented here is “what if God knows more?”. And I think the proper question to ask is “does he?” and prior to that we must prove that “he” even exists.

        I don’t mean to be disrespectful of the author, who is probably a great guy. I just think a dose of honesty is helpful, as that’s what I needed to move past these mistaken beliefs myself.

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  3. If a daughter is beaten by her father, with no explanation given, and her mother stands by and allows this; should she be happy in the idea that suffering from that which birthed you is neither to be fathomed or even considered?

    If God is not responsible for this happening; then is he omnipotent? If he is responsible for suffering and simply watches; then is he loving?

    Or…is it all nonsense?

    Fry’s issue with suffering is not to acknowledge a divine creator, it is simply his and our human nature: concern and love for others. Love for others by far and away out reaches the history and impact of Christianity. To suggest that concern for another human is to permit God into your reality is more of an conscious attempt to push him where he never was.

    The fact that all life is a sheer stroke of extraordinary luck does not equate to us having an inability (or for some: the right) to address the problems with aspects of it.

    A child suffers. A man reacts to save the life. A God does nothing. The child lives.

    A child suffers. A man reacts to save a life. A God does nothing. The child dies; slowly.

    There is no argument to suggest that God made the men react, as they acted according to their own freedom of will. However, like your incorrect (and cliche and uncreativity and nothing new – and all the other attempted insults you have thrown at Fry’s argument) suggestion that one needs God in their reality in order to observe and have issue with other’s suffering: to admit suffering as a reality is to admit God (if that IS his real name…) is either cruelly negligent or vindictively violent (aside from the flood and pillar of salt incidents).

    Or that, again, it’s all nonsense?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank the Lord that you have been given the experience and ability to refute the pathetic rant of Stephen Fry. We need to pray for him and other atheists like David Attenborough (yes, we love his films) that the God might show His mercy and open their spiritually blind eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes: we need to pray !! The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
    Debate and argument (Apologetics) are necessary and Biblical but it is not the force of argument that wins the day; it is the Power of God intervening in lives of the spiritually blind and dead that wins the day.

    Pray on believers.

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  6. Ok, the above posts are interesting. Here are my reflections on them.

    First – There is a helpful distinction made by Marcel between ‘problem’ and ‘mystery’. A problem is something to be solved. A mystery is investigated that we might reach deeper clarity, in so doing we find there is even more complexity than we first suspected. We have reached a deeper insight, yet not exhausted (in fact we have expanded) the mystery. Here in this piece I think Chris does an admirable job. He does not attempt to solve a problem, but investigate and bring greater depth of understanding to a mystery. In doing so he actually opens our eyes to the fact that the mystery was deeper than we ever thought. So to accuse him of providing an ‘ad hoc philosophical solution’ to a problem leaving no mystery, is profoundly unfair. He has in fact (repeatedly in the piece) stated that he doesn’t know ‘why?’ In one paragraph he explicitly says – I am NOT providing a complete philosophical answer and would be suspiscious of anyone attempting to! (possibly worth reading carefully before accusing someone of something…)

    Second – understanding of Christian morality as a sort of DCT (and then subtly appealing to Euthrphro dilemma to undermine such morality as arbitrary). Doesn’t work. DCT (in its classical form) is based on a Platonic realism that the ‘forms’ have some sort of independent existence. If Christianity is a form of DCT it is a highly modified one… because it speaks of God as pure act and perfect in his simplicity. The doctrine of simplicity means that God IS his attributes, he is not just good, he is goodness (which itself has no meaning abstracted from God – in other words ‘if’ we hold to the reality of the forms – you might be a nominalist – they are not distinct from God but rather flow out of his simple essence). Therefore his commands are not arbitrary. If we think they are it is because of the difficulty composite created beings have in understanding a simple God who exists with all his attributes enjoying perfect oneness and fullness. Your explanation of Christian morality, not predicated on the biblical revelation as understood by classical theism, is unfortunately not a fair representation.

    Third – whether sin can account for the way things are or not depends on what you understand sin to be. If sin includes ‘walking away from/ignoring the God who is goodness, truth, beauty, love and joy…’ then we need not be surprised to find a world full of ‘evil, lies, ugliness, hatred and bitterness.’ In fact it would be a perfectly just (and poetic) way for God to deal with his creation…if you argue that Adam and Eve are not you, well the Bible would talk about corporate responsiblity of the human race, something our individualistic culture doesn’t get… but that is a product of the Enlightenment and not how reality has been understood throughout the centuries (increasingly not how it is understood today in philosophy departments who see something rahter harmful in this solipsistic understanding of the universe engendered by the pre-critical ‘I’). On the other hand I could just simply ask “have you acknowledged God with your life or do you ignore him? If you do (as we all do) then of course it is perfectly fitting that you are included in his just sentence on his creation.

    The staggering thing would be that he does not withdraw all his goodness from us, but leaves us with some truth, love, justice and beauty, some trace of his goodness… of course this is to remind us what we’ve walked away from… he does it in his great love that he might draw us back. Of course sin means more (but not less) than this. A truncated definition of sin will lead you to your conclusions, but then that is not a fair representation of the Christian position.

    An even more staggering thing would be that the one who was wronged came down to become part of that world under sentence and in fact bear the brunt of that sentence that we might one day be brought back into a world without the stains and ugliness we see at present…

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    1. I appreciate the substantive reply. It’s a good topic, and I can see you are well educated on it. I’ll go ahead and respond to your points.

      I am aware of the “problem” vs. “mystery” differentiation. However, a mystery would be simply not understanding something, a problem would contain a contradiction. And given the amount of “mysteries” in Christianity, one has to ask how many apparent contradictions one worldview can have while still being an intellectually viable belief system? God’s omnipotence (and omniscience) + the Bible’s descriptors of him as a loving and good father seem to me to be a contradiction considering suffering. But more importantly, to say God does not want suffering to exist would be to imply that things happen against his wishes, which seems also to be another contradiction. I think the only conclusion to come to is that God wanted things to be this way (if he didn’t he would’ve made things different). And there is no outside factor that God had to weigh out or consider in order to achieve an end. This is part of the end right here on earth.

      I recognize that the writer of this article was not trying to solve the problem (and you may be right that I missed that to some degree), but why call Fry’s allegations “misguided and ill-considered”? If he’s not going to try to refute Fry’s argument, why not simply acknowledge his argument, and then offer a different take? It was a attempt at a semi-refutation, in that it appears as if he was refuting him, but in reality there was no substance.This will be taken as a refutation by less inquisitive types. I don’t take too much issue with the tone of the article however, because it was mostly respectful. At worst I responded to the article in a similar manner to the way he responded to Fry’s video.

      I don’t think I misrepresented Christian DCT, and Christianity has no satisfying answer to the Euthyphro Dilemma in my opinion. If God’s attributes are loving and just and all that regardless of how things appear, it means that no command from God can be immoral, even if it includes acts which violate basic human rights. No clearer consequence of this can be seen than in the Old Testament, where God often commanded mass genocide, including women and children (1 Sam. 15:3; Duet. 20:16-17). In some passages the Israelites were commanded to keep virgins for themselves and kill all the women who had slept with men (Num. 31:17-18; Judg. 21:10-12). Dispensationalism does not solve the dilemma that if God really did command mass genocide today, as he purportedly did in the OT, Christians would be morally obligated to obey.

      When violent Muslim extremists commit mass genocide, or rape women, there is no way to prove that God did not command it. Muslim extremists have an unfalsifiable claim to divine justification. According to this philosophy, there is no objective way to argue in defense of human rights without proving the absence of a divine command. And a Christian cannot argue that God could not command something like that, since according to the Bible he did. If God hypothetically did command Muslims to take actions such as this, they would be good and moral according to divine command theory.

      Also, according to divine command theory, the absence of divine revelation prohibiting a specific action affords no moral foundation by which one can argue against it. The Bible does not cover every moral issue specifically. For example, slavery is never prohibited in the Bible, and was arguably legitimized (Lev. 25:44-46). Under divine command theory there would be no moral argument against slavery. Slaves are commanded in the Bible to obey their masters, even when enduring harsh treatment (1 Pet. 2:18; Col. 3:22; Eph. 6:5-7). And Exodus 21:20-21 only prohibits the beating of slaves if they die within a couple of days of the beating; the justification for this is that “the slave is the owner’s property.”

      As far as sin, the concept you refer to as “corporate responsibility” is terrible. It’s like ‘Let’s pick the worst person in the world and then judge everyone for the crimes he committed.’ I’m very glad our justice system does not work this way, or we would all pay the death penalty. Of course the Christian doctrine of Hell is no easy pill to swallow, and the doctrine of original sin is no excuse for a “one-size-fits-all, burn forever” sentence for even the most peaceful nonbeliever.

      True love wouldn’t threaten people with eternal agony. Think about it.

      Peace

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “I would also counter your ought/is by reversing it. You cannot get an “is” out of an “ought”. Christians have to prove a) there is absolute morality b) that we have a way to determine what it is and c) that it comes from God.

        Until these questions are answered you have no logical justification for morality in your worldview.”

        Sure; but as I say, I’m interested in discussing the atheist justification for morality right now, that being the subject under discussion by the blogger and your original comment; not the existence of God. Whether or not my beliefs are justified, we’re talking about yours right now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, you are trying to shift the burden of proof when my original comments were about the positive claim of the blogging protaganist who said that atheists have no logical justification for their worldview. I then showed that Christians don’t either, making his point null and meaningless.

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  7. It is not possible to have a sensible religious discussion with someone who believes in that religion. The reason is disarmingly simple; religions are all man-made belief systems. A wide variety of techniques have been developed over hundreds of years to get people emotionally stuck to their particular brand of God. A believer is by definition unwilling or unable to view things as they are. It is usually not their fault, they were often ‘got at’ (by loving parents, priests, school teachers etc.) when at a gullible age and never managed to reevaluate the ‘truths’ they were told. It is very hard to lose the comfort that belief in a God can provide, so most people just don’t go there. Those who have the most faith are those who need it most. What a mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > It is not possible to have a sensible religious discussion with someone who believes in that religion.

      Any discussion is shaped by our worldview. To be an atheist and believe that your position is true (for I posit that any view on the existence or non-existence of God or gods requires belief) by your logic rules out the chance of anyone else having a sensible discussion with them. By that reasoning why even talk about your views, since you cannot have a sensible discussion with others and others cannot have a sensible discussion with you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is without doubt a futility in arguing or debating the existence of a God since the element of mystery is evoked by the apologist in the absence of experience. What possible response can you give to the “Old” God works in mysterious ways stance. As a atheist I take the view that I need to accept the reality that mysteries are a important part of life for the majority and for the rest of us they are not.

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  8. Keith Richardson – that’s a common ‘argument’ and largely wrong. You make some fantastic generalisations that basically boil down to ‘all those religious types are brainwashed fools.’

    It doesn’t account for the long hours spent evaluating the truth or not of various religions, atheism, agnosticism that might be undertaken by a person.

    Instead, believers are defined, by you, as unwilling to view things ‘as they are’ – a wonderful statement that says ‘I am right, you are all wrong because you can’t see things the way I do’. To call that position trite, simplistic or wildly hypocritical would, I feel, be an understatement.

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  9. Think Always: The trouble with citing research showing that compassion may have developed through evolutionary processes, is that it fails to attach any moral weight to morality.

    Had the author of this post said that atheists *do not have* compassion, your point would have been relevant; but in fact he clearly stated that they do. What he said was that atheists do not have a *logical basis* for their moral sense; that in fact, their moral sense contradicts their naturalistic worldview.

    And he is right. Supposing humans blindly, naturalistically happened to evolve compassion because it was advantageous to survival. That describes compassion, but it doesn’t justify or mandate it. You can’t get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. Humans, for the most part, think killing toddlers is wrong; so what? A few humans kill toddlers anyway; so what? These facts have no more objective moral meaning than ‘most humans like the taste of sweet foods; a few don’t”.

    Stephen Fry would presumably object strenuously to the idea that since *most* humans are heterosexual, therefore humans *should* be heterosexual; or that since *most* humans are brown-skinned, therefore humans *should* be brown-skinned. So how can he claim that since *most* humans are wired to find toddler-killing reprehensible, humans *should* find toddler-killing reprehensible? An accident of evolutionary wiring does not a moral imperative make.

    In fact, judging someone else for not sharing your own moral point of view, under a naturalistic/materialistic universe, is as bigoted and judgmental as judging someone else for not sharing your skin colour. The sociopath has evolved slightly differently to you, lacking a conscience; so what? It’s not his fault,; neither way of evolving is ‘better’ than the other, as evolution is not goal-oriented; and you have the rational capacity to recognise that your own moral disgust at his actions are caused by the way you evolved, not reflective of any objective truth.

    In other words, all the atheist can logically do in response to a toddler-killing sociopath is *describe* his own, biologically-determined subjective reactions. “It makes me feel sad to think about the toddler’s parents missing her.” “It makes me disgusted to think of someone causing harm to a helpless small person”. Statements which have exactly the objective moral weight of “It makes me feel disgusted to see a hawk eating a rabbit” or “It makes me feel revulsion to eat licorice”. Even expanding those feelings to humanity at large doesn’t change the issue – “Nearly everybody on earth feels horror and disgust at the thought of killing a toddler” means as much as “Nearly everybody on earth feels horror and disgust at the odour of decomposing flesh”.

    What the consistent, logical atheist can *not* do is claim that any of these subjective responses correspond to an actually meaningful, morally binding, ‘ought’ standard of morality. Naturalism does not allow him to do that. He cannot, in short, say that killing toddlers *actually is* wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sarah. I appreciate your reply. I’ll go ahead and respond to the points you brought up.

      The argument that atheists have no logical foundation for morality is still a fallacy. It assumes that morality must be imposed by a higher authority. Yet, if this were the case, logically God couldn’t be moral either since he has no authority to answer to. Just like the design argument, the hidden assumption refutes the conclusion.

      The writer of the article was presuming that naturalism has no grounds to argue for compassion, and that was a fallacy. As I said, atheists can argue for human rights by appealing to the universal desire to alleviate suffering. Christians needed to employ empathy apart from divine commands too otherwise slavery would’ve never been abolished (the Bible permits slavery, affording no moral grounds to argue for the illegalization of it).

      As I posted in a previous comment, in the Old Testament God often commanded mass genocide, including women and children (1 Sam. 15:3; Duet. 20:16-17). In some passages the Israelites were commanded to keep virgins for themselves and kill all the women who had slept with men (Num. 31:17-18; Judg. 21:10-12). Dispensationalism does not solve the dilemma that if God really did command mass genocide today, as he purportedly did in the OT, Christians would be morally obligated to obey. That is divine command theory, the essence of Christian morality, the same philosophy shared by Muslim extremists (although Christians don’t believe in violence and are sane). Most people view acts like these as wrong, do you?

      Many Christians believe that God’s actions and commands in the Bible are consistent with each other; but it can be decisively shown that if God’s commands create morality, he is not bound by them. And as shown previously, there are even times when he commanded that they be broken.

      For example, I don’t think it’s necessary to list all of the times that God takes life in the Bible. It is simply viewed as his prerogative. Yet the ten commandments include the command: “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). If God establishes morality by his commands, then he has shown himself to be above them in every way, and as in the case of OT genocide, he has even commanded that humans disregard his moral law for specific purposes. This means that God cannot be judged by any moral standards, and is thus amoral by nature.

      There is no objective and static moral law if we take divine command theory to it’s logical conclusion. God’s commands are all that matter. What is disturbing about this is that we have no clear criterion for determining what actually constitutes divine revelation. How could one go about this without creating a subjective methodology? Surely, if Christians were to create a truly objective criterion for determining divine revelation, either most or all of the Bible would fail to meet it, or many non-Christian claims of divine revelation would also be deemed legitimate. Would we not run the risk that the Koran could be deemed as legitimate by the same logic Christians use?

      The only solution to this circularity and subjectivity is to admit that mankind has no absolute and static moral law. This is true whether you are a theist or not. Ethics is something which should be discussed and developed. We’ve come a long way so far, so I trust humanity can go farther. Keep in mind that under a naturalistic worldview, even the Bible’s moral commands are of human origin. The burden of proof is on Christians to prove that God wrote the Bible (sine we know for a fact that humans did).

      Peace.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “As I said, atheists can argue for human rights by appealing to the universal desire to alleviate suffering.”

        What would such an argument look like?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi smokering.

        Something like this: “We all want to live in a world where we are free to live without fear of having these most basic rights, life and liberty, taken away by others. So we must choose to live in such a way that respects others in the same way we want our rights to be honored”

        Keep in mind that Thomas Jefferson was an atheist who said essentially that the Bible is full of crap. I don’t need to tell you how much he did to further the idea of human rights.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Firstly: that argument doesn’t avoid the problem I mentioned in my earliest comment. It is a very basic philosophical principle that you cannot derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. Acknowledging that (nearly all) humans have accidental, biologically-derived chemical desires for certain freedoms is fine. Going on to say that they *should therefore* live a certain way, to respect those freedoms of others, is not. On what grounds should they? You haven’t argued for it; you’ve just stated it. In fact, properly speaking, your ‘argument’ isn’t an argument at all, in terms of having a conclusion supported by premises and logic; it’s a truism followed by an unsubstantiated moral assertion.

        Secondly, the argument doesn’t even work on the pragmatic level. We all (or nearly all) want to live in a world where life and liberty are granted to *us*, sure. But very few people want to live in a world where life and liberty are granted to *all* – rapists, terrorists, invading armies, murderers, the criminally insane. “Give everyone life and liberty because that’s what you want and things will work out fine” is astonishingly naive, and indeed that principle on its own has never been the basis of a nation’s legislation. It’s always, always buttressed by thousands of laws adding “but doing X is evil and will get you locked up”. And it’s the very notion of evil that atheists have to justify.

        Thirdly: Thomas Jefferson is more accurately described as a deist than an atheist, but in either case you’re still missing the point. The point is not that atheists *do not* champion human rights, or show compassion, or have an innate sense of evil. The original blog post and my response both made quite clear that they do. In fact, it would be unbiblical to say they didn’t – common grace is an orthodox Christian doctrine.

        The point is that atheists can not *logically justify* their belief in human rights, in the existence of evil and so on. Their worldview does not allow for it. Complex clusters of atoms do not have duties to other complex clusters of atoms. There are no ‘shoulds’ in a meaningless, random, purely physical universe. The fact that the suffering of others makes most humans sad or disgusted or uncomfortable does not mean that that suffering is wrong.

        Atheists are frequently better than their beliefs; but that’s irrelevant to the quality of their beliefs. If every atheist who ever lived devoted his days to working at soup kitchens and catching pedophiles, the fact would remain that according to their own worldview, those choices would be no more genuinely good or evil than setting fire to the soup kitchens or being the pedophiles. Either set of choices would simply be a biological response to biological stimuli acting in a bunch of molecules.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It is true as you say, that we cannot derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. I will grant you that atheists cannot appeal to divinely instituted consequences as a reason to act decently. But that is why we have government; to establish a system that allows society to flourish. The only way in which a society can flourish is if people can be reasonably protected from harm inflicted by others. And that is why we have laws, voted on by the people. If people disobey those laws, they suffer the consequences. I don’t need to appeal to God, he won’t do anything to stop wrongdoing. Criminals aren’t afraid of God, they are afraid of the law. We institute the laws and enforce them, far better than God has ever done. The reason we should respect human rights is because we, as a nation, have decided collectively that they should be respected. No other justification is needed. The average human desires a safe society, and that is why we seek to establish it.

        Secondly, you are making a straw man argument. I was not saying that the rights of liberty and life are inviolable in an absolutist sense and cannot come into conflict with other interests. As you mentioned, if someone wants to murder someone, the principles of liberty and life come into conflict. Which will be violated? These are the types of questions we as a nation debate and we have decided in cases like these liberty should be violated so that the life of another person may be spared. This is politics 101, as 17th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham once said “It is with government, as with medicine. They have both but a choice of evils. Every law is an evil, for every law is an infraction of liberty.”

        You put “it’s the very notion of evil that atheists have to justify.” No, not all. As I just stated, no divine justification is needed. People either abide by the laws of our nation and respect human rights or pay the consequences. Pretty simple. Keep in mind that “evil” is enormously ambiguous. I would expect you to be able to better define that for me if it is something I must justify.

        I must pose a few questions to you, since you seem to believe that there is absolute and objective morality in the universe. Are there actions that are in themselves inherently immoral? And if so, what is your objective criteria for determining the morality of an action?

        True on Jefferson, that one was a bit sloppy on my part.

        You wrote: “The point is that atheists can not *logically justify* their belief in human rights, in the existence of evil and so on. Their worldview does not allow for it. Complex clusters of atoms do not have duties to other complex clusters of atoms. There are no ‘shoulds’ in a meaningless, random, purely physical universe. The fact that the suffering of others makes most humans sad or disgusted or uncomfortable does not mean that that suffering is wrong.”

        The phrase “logically justify” is ambiguous. Just because we cannot say that something is “wrong” or “evil” in a cosmic, supernatural sense does not mean we cannot say it in whatever since we mean it. If a Christian says something is wrong, it holds no more weight than if an atheist says so. The only justification a Christian has is the Bible, a collection of ancient writings by humans. How is that binding? How can you logically justify the use of a ancient document to define evil and wrongdoing? Not to mention the fact that the Bible is contradictory on issues of morality (you have to explain that before you can argue against atheistic morality)

        There are evolutionary reasons for having a sense of morality. If we did not have any morals, and it truly was dog eat dog, there would be no way we could live socially. “survival of the fittest” means survival of a species. Humans are concerned about the continuance of their posterity, so they desire a world that would allow them to thrive. Even wild animals learn to adapt to living within groups for the benefit of the whole. The sectarian roots of religion are proof of this. Religions say that those who are ‘in’ are going to heaven, and those who are ‘out’ are going to hell and are rotten sinners. How does that exemplify altruism? It is a tribal construct designed to strengthen the bonds of a community and tighten ranks against those who are outside.

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      5. I would also counter your ought/is by reversing it. You cannot get an “is” out of an “ought”. Christians have to prove a) there is absolute morality b) that we have a way to determine what it is and c) that it comes from God.

        Until these questions are answered you have no logical justification for morality in your worldview.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. “I will grant you that atheists cannot appeal to divinely instituted consequences as a reason to act decently. But that is why we have government; to establish a system that allows society to flourish.”

        You’ve skipped a step there; the premise that society *ought* to flourish, or to put it another way, that it is morally or teleologically better for a society to flourish than not flourish. Under a naturalistic worldview, how do you justify that premise?

        “The reason we should respect human rights is because we, as a nation, have decided collectively that they should be respected. No other justification is needed.”

        Right. So when Nazi Germany as a nation decided that the rights of Jews shouldn’t be respected, they needed no other justification either? Majority rule, might is right, consensus equals truth; is that what you’re saying? If in 500 years, the human race collectively decided to forcibly euthanise people at the age of 40, or kill all twins, that would be OK because it would be the new definition of morality?

        “The average human desires a safe society, and that is why we seek to establish it.”

        But we’re discussing the definition of evil, not the pragmatics of running a country. The average human desires that his enemies will suffer and that he will be richer, healthier, more powerful and happier than the bulk of his fellow-man; but we don’t imply that those are *moral* desires.

        “I was not saying that the rights of liberty and life are inviolable in an absolutist sense and cannot come into conflict with other interests. As you mentioned, if someone wants to murder someone, the principles of liberty and life come into conflict. Which will be violated? These are the types of questions we as a nation debate and we have decided in cases like these liberty should be violated so that the life of another person may be spared.”

        Which implies a moral component to humanity’s desire to be alive and free; it is not enough to desire it for oneself, it is considered *morally good* to desire it for others and *morally bad* to take it from others, to the point of legal enforcement. But that’s not your original argument at all, which was based on pure self-interest.

        “No, not all. As I just stated, no divine justification is needed.”

        I never said *divine* justification was needed, though I have yet to hear a logical justification for morality that didn’t rely on an objective moral source, which is generally conceived to be God in some form. What I want is a logical justification; one that fits in with a naturalistic worldview. One that reconciles “we are random, meaningless collections of atoms whose consciousness is accidental, entirely outside our control and dependent on biochemical input also outside our control” with “we have moral duties to others”, or “some things are good and some are evil”.

        “People either abide by the laws of our nation and respect human rights or pay the consequences.”

        But that’s disingenuous. If you hear of a serial rapist being caught, you don’t just go “Oh well, he chose A instead of B, chocolate versus vanilla”, do you? Choosing to risk prison in order to rape is not like choosing to go to Uni instead of trade school; it’s not adiaphorous, and not an atheist in the world treats it as if it is. Instead, they react with horror, disgust, compassion and a whole host of other emotions which scream “What he did was utterly WRONG” – and that, according to his worldview, cannot be justified beyond “my accidental biochemical conditioning is causing me to experience this reaction”.

        “Just because we cannot say that something is “wrong” or “evil” in a cosmic, supernatural sense does not mean we cannot say it in whatever since we mean it.”

        In what sense do you mean it, then? The consensus of the collective, which can change with every political wind or widespread genetic mutation, so that the most you can ever say is “we currently consider that raping toddlers is wrong, for now, due to biochemical circumstances outside our control”?

        I’m not interested in justifying biblical morality at the moment, sorry; I’m interested simply in your assertion that atheists can justify morality.

        “There are evolutionary reasons for having a sense of morality. If we did not have any morals, and it truly was dog eat dog, there would be no way we could live socially. “survival of the fittest” means survival of a species. Humans are concerned about the continuance of their posterity, so they desire a world that would allow them to thrive.”

        Sounds like you’re trying to get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ again. Yes, there are pragmatic reasons for morality. There are also pragmatic reasons for immorality – the sensual gratifications of rape and murder, the increased resources that could be obtained through theft, euthanasia, infanticide and the like, the social advantages gained by lying and blackmail.

        So what’s the reason some of these things are ‘bad’ and some are ‘good’, again? Survival of the species? But why should the species survive? Minimising human suffering? But why shouldn’t humans suffer? Creating a stable society? But why should a society be stable?

        And if it all comes down, as you imply, to consensus, how can you possibly judge other societies for having different standards? I believe it was you who mentioned biblical genocide earlier; well, clearly the Israelites (along with basically all other ANE cultures, though for different reasons) thought wiping out their enemies was perfectly justified, so for *them* it was, according to your lights, moral. So what’s the point of pointing out that from *your* moral (ie majority-consensus) position 3,000 years later, it’s wrong? Who cares? In 50, 500 or 5,000 years it might be considered right again; and you would have no objective reason to object to that. Que sera, sera, right?

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      7. This is a great convo. Hope you don’t mind the back-and-forth. You are very bright.

        You said: “I’m not interested in justifying biblical morality at the moment, sorry; I’m interested simply in your assertion that atheists can justify morality.”

        I never once asserted that atheists can “justify” morality (that entire statement is still hopelessly vague and imprecise; what type of argument are you looking for exactly?). The statement was made by the author of the blog, who asserted that atheists have no logical justification for morality. What I pointed out is that the Bible contains inconsistencies in it’s moral code and in what it approves of.

        You are making a straw man argument and trying to shift the burden of proof so Christians don’t have to justify their grandiose claims about absolute morality. You are arguing against a moral abolutist when I am not one. I wrote: “The only solution to this circularity and subjectivity is to admit that mankind has no absolute and static moral law. This is true whether you are a theist or not. Ethics is something which should be discussed and developed.”

        Neither am I a crude moral relativist, which is another straw man caricature you’re arguing against. I believe morality is subjective, in that it is not external to human minds, but that doesn’t mean I have to approve of all actions as “moral” just because there is no objective way to measure it. When Jesus says to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” how can you say what love is and what love is not? What if a person loves to cut their body? Should they cut others because they are treating others how they want to be treated (the golden rule, also said by Jesus)? Love is subjective, yet we still believe that the average human understands the difference between love and hate. Since you cannot measure love, you might as well be consistent and say that Jesus was a relativist too, since, with no objective way to measure love, whatever contitutes love for one personmay not be loving in another person’s eyes. Yet I think we can assume that Jesus was not condoning all acts done in the name of “love” just as I don’t condone all acts done in the name of “morality”.

        Morality is like music in some ways. There is no objective, absolute standard for what contitutes a good song and what constitutes a bad one. However, most people seem to be able to recognize a quality difference between the average garage band and Coldplay, and certainly they know that a guy hitting a rock with a hammer is not making music. Morality is the same way; while it is never perfect, most people have a taste for good morals, at least when it comes to basic human rights. An atheist can appeal to the common desire for this. Your argument about Nazi Germany would be fair if I believed morality is objective, absolute and can be argued on objective grounds. But I do not. Philosophers are well aware of this conundrum, and all attempts to quantify morality have fallen short of perfection. However, I will quote Bentham again, who said “The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.”. I like this definition, although it is not perfectly applicable in every conceivable situation, as Bentham himself later pointed out. However, this does provide a external justification (albeit equally subjective) for morality that is more pragmatic than arbitrarily choosing a book (the Bible) and claiming it has all the moral answers.

        So, having shown who asserted what about morality first, and the context of my previous comments, I think the burden of proof is still on the protaganists here. Christians still have to prove: a) there is absolute morality b) that we have an objective methodology to determine what it is and c) that it comes from God. Somehow I doubt you will try to answer these questions, because Christianity has no satisfactory objective justification for morality. That is a claim that I will assert.

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      8. “I never once asserted that atheists can “justify” morality (that entire statement is still hopelessly vague and imprecise; what type of argument are you looking for exactly?). The statement was made by the author of the blog, who asserted that atheists have no logical justification for morality. What I pointed out is that the Bible contains inconsistencies in it’s moral code and in what it approves of.”

        I’m sorry if I was unclear, but I was never responding to your points about biblical inconsistencies/divine command theory. The part of your post to which I was responding was this: “To assume that the evolutionary process could not give us our compassionate tendencies does not reflect current research. And to assume that atheists have no reason to be outraged at wrongdoing misunderstands basic psychology”.

        I read that as saying that the evolutionary development of compassion *is* the atheistic justification for morality; a point of view you seem to have corroborated later, when you stated that morality is merely consensus based on evolved human desires. Is that not what you are saying?

        If so, then you are indeed a moral relativist – what a ‘crude’ (versus presumably ‘refined’ one) is, I have no idea. And moral relativism leads to the philosophical problem I mentioned in my first post – it makes morality a purely descriptive, reactionary, arbitrary phenomenon. An atheist ‘appealing to the common desire for good morals’ (a question-begging definition if ever there was one – what *are* ‘good’ morals? Didn’t you just say they were what humans typically desire, making that statement entirely redundant?) is fundamentally missing the point of what morality *is*, as understood intuitively by nearly all humans, and as defined by philosophers throughout history. To reduce the term to a mere description of human behavior robs it of its essence: the ‘oughtness’ or judgment-factor.

        “Your argument about Nazi Germany would be fair if I believed morality is objective, absolute and can be argued on objective grounds. But I do not.”

        I’m sorry, I have no idea what you’re saying here. If you believed morality was objective and absolute you would have a valid reason for objecting to the beliefs of Nazi Germany. As you believe morality is simply the consensus of the majority based on evolutionarily-derived chemical reactions, you cannot make any kind of meaningful moral judgment on their policies. That was my point.

        “Somehow I doubt you will try to answer these questions, because Christianity has no satisfactory objective justification for morality.”

        Firstly, I’m not planning to answer those questions because I’m not currently interested in answering those questions; I’m interested in discussing the specific part of your post I addressed originally, which is all I’ve ever been trying to discuss. Frankly I was confused that you kept derailing the conversation with objections to Christian morality, though I see now that if you thought I was responding to your post in toto it makes sense you would.

        Secondly, as I’m sure you know, the theistic argument from morality largely rests on proving that subjective morality is meaningless and does not correspond with human intuitions about morality; which is what I’m trying to argue. There’s no point developing the argument further until this has been established.

        Thirdly, I suspect discussing biblical morality with you would be a waste of time. You don’t seem to be that familiar with Christian philosophy or theology, and your throwaway comments denigrating the Bible as ‘ancient documents’ (the informal fallacy known as chronological snobbery) don’t give me much hope for having productive discourse with you. Nor does your lack of knowledge concerning the biblical definition of ‘mystery’, or the closed canon, or the definition of ‘murder’ in Exodus 20, or a host of other fairly simple biblical issues that have been covered at length by Christian philosophers all over the web. In short, responding to every misconception and misunderstanding you’ve brought up so far would take far more time than I have; let alone mounting a positive case of my own.

        If you don’t want to discuss the atheist justifications for morality, that’s fine; but I’m not ‘shifting the burden of proof’ by sticking to the topic at hand.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Yes, I did assert that it is incorrect to say that atheists have “no reason” to be morally outraged. However I did not imply that atheists had an objective and absolute moral foundation to argue on. To even ask for a “reason” is ridiculous, because we do get outraged at suffering in the world. The reaction is self-evident. If we didn’t have some underlying motivation we wouldn’t be outraged, since motivation is what leads a person to react to things.

        It seems the problem with your philosophy is a faulty premise. Your logic goes like this:

        Proposition 1: ‘Atheists have no objective and absolute moral rules to appeal to.’

        Proposition 2: ‘Morality is meaningless without objective and absolute moral rules to appeal to.’

        Conclusion: ‘Atheistic morality is meaningless.’

        I would agree with proposition 1, as it is true. But proposition 2 is flawed. It is an absolutist fallacy. Your presupposition behind proposition 2 is ‘all concepts that are not governed by absolute and objective rules are meaningless.’ Once again, I will use the Bible’s use of the word ‘love’. Love is a concept that is not governed by absolute rules. Does this make it meaningless when I say ‘I love my mom’? Of course not. And when Jesus said ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ that means something, even if not in an absolutist sense.

        If we were to take this reasoning to it’s logical conclusion, whenever a food critic says that a certain restaurant dish is ‘delicious’, it is meaningless, since there is no objective, universal, and absolute standards by which we can judge deliciousness. But of course the opinion of that food critic is worth enough that a website or newspaper will pay him for it. And it is also worth noting that the tastes of most humans seem to be relatively universal. For the most part, we can agree on what good food is. This allows food critics to stay relevant. It wouldn’t work if taste in food was too widely divergent.

        You assume there are absolutes. I do not, and most philosophers and scientists no longer appeal to absolutes anymore. Have you ever tried to answer solipsism’s question: ‘how do you know you are not merely a brain in a jar (i.e. how do you know your reality is not a hallucination)?’ It’s futile. And while I’m not into solipsism, it shows quite clearly that if we cannot prove something as basic as whether there is reality outside of our own perception, then we have no absolute (100%) certainty about anything. Everything is on a scale of probability.

        We do things for pragmatic reasons. When I say something is ‘true’, I say so not because I am 100% certain, but because I am very certain a proposition corresponds to reality and this information is worth relying upon. This is pragmatic, since propositions that are proven by the scientific method for example, have been very reliable. Formal logic also has a good track record, therefore I believe we should think logically. And when we talk about morality we must view it the same way. Morality has benefits, although it is not a precise science. For pragmatic reasons I believe it is worth embracing as a humanist.

        The proposition ‘Atheistic morality is meaningless.’ also doesn’t appear to correspond to reality, given the fact that the more secular a state or country is, the more peaceful it is. The numbers are pretty clear, as shown in this Psychology Today article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-secular-life/201410/secular-societies-fare-better-religious-societies

        If atheists have no moral foundation, why do they create peaceful societies?

        It seems this is an ad populam argument Christians use. It is an appeal to simplicity, and the desire for moral absolutes. Do I wish morality was a black-and-white, cut-and-dry science? Yes. But I also wish I had a million dollars. It doesn’t do any good to criticize atheistic morality for lack of absolutes if Christianity has none either. Without a strong defense of divine command theory and satisfactory explanations of the Bible’s inconsistencies when it comes to morality, any criticism of atheistic morality (such as the one asserted by the author and you) will never positively validate Christian morality. At best, you can place us both on the same logical ground.

        I believe that the human concept of morality is relative and subjective, yes. This is not merely a belief, but a fact. That doesn’t mean I think all actions should be considered ‘moral’, just as much as I do not believe all food is ‘delicious’. The question is now: what do we do now that we know there are no moral absolutes? Pretending there are is not a good option.

        Your argument is built on presuppositions that are untenable. And apparently you won’t try to defend Christian morality; which is fine by me. So not only do you not have a compelling argument against atheist morality, your only defense of Christian morality is an ad hominem attack. And one that is unfounded anyway, given the fact that I am very familiar with Christian theology. But there is no way to convince you of that, and frankly it doesn’t matter whether I am or not; it doesn’t prove or disprove my reasoning.

        BTW, I find it funny that you criticize my caricature of the Bible as an ‘ancient document’ when you frequently refer to humans as merely ‘complex clusters of atoms’. lol

        Peace

        Like

      10. “To even ask for a “reason” is ridiculous, because we do get outraged at suffering in the world. The reaction is self-evident. If we didn’t have some underlying motivation we wouldn’t be outraged, since motivation is what leads a person to react to things.”

        Huh? The nature of the ‘underlying motivation’ *is* the reason for which I’m asking. And any motivation is subject to analysis for logical consistency with the rest of a worldview.

        Incidentally, I doubt you’d respond to a person who, say, voiced outrage at seeing an interracial couple with “Oh well, I’m sure he has an underlying motivation”.

        My presupposition behind Premise 2 is not ‘ALL concepts that are not governed by absolute and objective rules are meaningless’. There is plenty of room for subjectivity in the world – tastes in food, as you say, are a good example. (Love is not; in the Christian worldview, love *is* objective, as it is rooted in the character of an objective God. The fact that people around the globe have a fuzzy, biblically-incorrect, half-stated and largely unexamined feeling they call ‘love’ is entirely irrelevant.)

        My argument would be better stated as follows:

        1: Morality essentially involves categorising actions along a spectrum of good and evil.

        2: For a naturalistic atheist, no personal or impersonal objective standard of good and evil exists.

        3. For a naturalistic atheist, a person’s beliefs about good and evil are arbitrary and chemically-derived, based on societal influences (also, ultimately, chemically-derived) and evolutionary forces outside his control. They bear no necessary relationship to reality, being a mere survival mechanism (possibly, in some cases, an obsolete survival mechanism).

        4. A naturalistic atheist, recognising this, must realise his own moral responses to the actions of others are mere subjective biochemical responses; and that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ as he defines them are merely ‘things which comport with my own arbitrary and subjective biochemical responses’.

        5. A naturalistic atheist therefore can only say that an action, such as raping a child, ‘feels wrong to me’; not that it ‘is wrong’. This statement is as trivial and self-centred as saying ‘vanilla ice-cream tastes good to me’ or ‘certain members of the opposite sex look attractive to me’; it is a statement about the self, not a value judgment on the action or the person perpetrating said action.

        6. Naturalistic atheists overwhelmingly do not behave in this manner. Instead, they act, think and talk as if certain actions are *in objective reality* wrong. They do not say “Man, my biochemical reactions react strongly when I hear about that guy who shot up a school; isn’t that weird? And hey, I can curl my tongue too!” They say “What a sick, depraved, evil man; he deserves to die” (or “be locked away in prison forever”, depending on their political leanings). They even go so far as to construct elaborate theories about human rights and freedoms, though those things are illogical under a naturalistic worldview. This reveals a severe disconnect in the naturalistic worldview: atheists don’t think or act consistently when it comes to morality.

        “I do not, and most philosophers and scientists no longer appeal to absolutes anymore.”

        No philosopher writes a paper without relying on the absolute principles of logic – that, for instance, A cannot be A and not-A at the same time and in the same sense. If they didn’t believe that, communication would be impossible – what would be the point of writing “Socrates is a man” when it could simultaneously and in the same sense mean “Socrates is not a man”? So yes, there are absolutes.

        “The proposition ‘Atheistic morality is meaningless.’ also doesn’t appear to correspond to reality, given the fact that the more secular a state or country is, the more peaceful it is. The numbers are pretty clear, as shown in this Psychology Today article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-secular-life/201410/secular-societies-fare-better-religious-societies

        If atheists have no moral foundation, why do they create peaceful societies?”

        You are quite staggeringly missing the point. As I’ve gone to some pains to explain, virtuous atheists don’t mean the atheistic foundation for morality is rational. It may simply mean that atheists are not acting consistently with their worldview; which is what I’m arguing.

        Secondly, it is entirely question-begging to state that secular societies do ‘better’ than religious ones. Better according to what moral standard? To my knowledge, secular societies frequently have higher rates than religious ones of abortion, euthanasia, divorce and – the ultimate ‘worst’ to a Christian – lack of belief in God (y’know, by definition). That’s not ‘doing better’ to me. And if morality is simply societal consensus, by sheer force of numbers most people in the world would agree with me on at least some of those issues.

        Thirdly, given that we’re discussing moral wellbeing specifically, it’s rather irrelevant to bring up things like poverty and ebola. Poverty isn’t necessarily a moral issue; it has a lot to do with a country’s natural resources and the global economy, for instance. It’s not the fault of theism if America decides to switch production of a widget from Somalia to China!

        Fourthly, I’m not arguing in favour of ‘religious morality’ in general. As a Christian, I obviously strongly disagree with non-Christian morality; Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist, for instance. So it’s hardly attacking my position to point out that, say, Muslim societies don’t tend to do well. I have no reason to believe they should; their moral arguments are different to Christianity’s moral arguments.

        “I believe that the human concept of morality is relative and subjective, yes. This is not merely a belief, but a fact. That doesn’t mean I think all actions should be considered ‘moral’, just as much as I do not believe all food is ‘delicious’.”

        So what? On what grounds *compatible with a naturalistic worldview* do you believe that some actions should be considered less or more moral? Appealing to human rights won’t cut it, as that’s an abstract moral principle which has no place in a naturalistic worldview. Appealing to majority consensus means that you, as an atheist (ie, in the global minority; and quite possibly the national minority, depending on where you live) must acknowledge that you are, in fact, by definition wrong if you do not believe what the majority of others believe.

        “given the fact that I am very familiar with Christian theology. But there is no way to convince you of that”

        Getting it right would be a start. So would showing evidence of familiarity with Christian counterarguments to your points.

        “BTW, I find it funny that you criticize my caricature of the Bible as an ‘ancient document’ when you frequently refer to humans as merely ‘complex clusters of atoms’. lol”

        Again, you’re missing my clearly-stated point. It isn’t a ‘caricature’ to call the Bible an ancient document; it’s an unobjectionable fact, believed by all Christians. The problem comes when you use the term ‘ancient document’ in a manner which implies its antiquity has some bearing on its truth, which is chronological snobbery.

        Saying that humans are merely complex clusters of atoms is also an unobjectionable fact, according to naturalistic atheism. Atheist philosophers freely admit it. If you want to add some metaphysical value to humans aside from that, you’re stepping away from naturalism. You’re welcome to do that, but you’ll have to change labels.

        I’m honestly not sure there’s any point continuing this conversation further. You seem incapable of engaging with my arguments; instead, reiterating red herrings and question-begging statements. Hopefully our interactions will be of value to someone else.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. As I said before, it appears to me that you are making a straw man argument that doesn’t correspond to reality. You seem to think no atheists factor intuition, emotion, and subjectivity into their worldview. It is often assumed that atheists become unfeeling robots who eventually, if left to themselves, succumb to a nihilistic survival-of-the-fittest mindset. Yet, as I showed, that concern does not correspond to reality. The ‘inconsistency’ actually validates my worldivew, in that secularism can lead to equal or better well-being in societies. So the argument you are making is almost purely semantical and doesn’t relate practically to anything.

        I think I finally get that your argument is meant to somehow show that atheists do not consistently live according to their worldview. First of all, atheism is not a belief system, but a lack of belief in theism, so to assume a particular ‘atheistic worldview’ is a fallacy of generalization. Atheists could believe in absolute morality (Bertrand Russell held a variation of this view at one time), or even embrace supernaturalism, although few do. You fail to properly distinguish between atheism and naturalism. If naturalism were somehow proved inconsistent or false that would in no way validate Christianity or invalidate atheism. And secondly, you cannot prove atheism or naturalism false by saying that atheists are hypocritical (I’d be happy to present a case that Christians do not live in a way consistent with their worldview). Hypocrisy among adherents to an ideology is not a gauge of the truth value of an ideology. This is elementary logic.

        Yet, since I am a practical naturalist, I will defend it (despite the fact that I should not have to if we are discussing atheism). As I mentioned before, under naturalism, we are social animals who have evolved senses of altruism and compassion. The majority of us are living according to our worldview if we embrace practical morality. You are presuming that atheism is synonymous with strict rationalism. While most atheists are rationalists to some degree, this does not mean that we believe no actions should be taken for emotional or intuitive reasons. This is an incredibly narrow, naive understanding of the broad category of atheism.

        In the same way, you presume saying the word ‘evil’ is always an absolutist statement about a metaphysical entity. That is petty word policing while avoiding the main point of Fry’s argument. An atheist can use words that have subjective or relative meaning in the proper context and not be inconsistent with their worldview. And in the context, it is fair to say that God does things that Christians call “evil”. I would agree that if the argument against an action was merely ‘that’s wrong!’ or ‘that’s evil!’, then it would have no motivational force. But this is obviously not how sophisticated philosophical ethics theories are presented. Philosophical ethics seeks external justification for why an act is considered moral or immoral.

        You wrote: “love *is* objective, as it is rooted in the character of an objective God”

        Alright. In order to back up this claim I would expect you to present or refer me to an objective, measurable methodology for determining what love is. There is no such thing as an ‘objective God’ and even if there was that doesn’t prove that love is objective.

        You wrote: “For a naturalistic atheist, a person’s beliefs about good and evil are arbitrary and chemically-derived, based on societal influences”

        Sounds exactly like Christian morality. You do know that you are chemically driven, and your decision to embrace Christianity was partially (and possibly arbitrarily) driven by societal influences (less than 0.1% of Morroccans are Christian. If you grew up there you would most likely have Muslim values.)

        You wrote: “A naturalistic atheist therefore can only say that an action, such as raping a child, ‘feels wrong to me’; not that it ‘is wrong’. This statement is as trivial and self-centred as saying ‘vanilla ice-cream tastes good to me’ or ‘certain members of the opposite sex look attractive to me’; it is a statement about the self, not a value judgment on the action or the person perpetrating said action.”

        Once again this is merely word policing. Since I am not a strict rationalist, I have no problem with someone using culturally relevant words (such as ‘evil’) to describe something they find abhorrent in an casual setting. Of course, if we are in a debate, it would be far better for me to acknowledge your objection. Secondly, you still assume a word has no pragmatic value if it is not measurable by an external standard. If we believed this, we would have to abandon language due to it’s unavoidable ambiguity and imprecision.

        Also, as I mentioned, an atheist can still appeal to external rules as justification for morality (e.g. ‘an action which promotes well-being is moral’). This rule is subjective, but it is no less subjective than a Christian using the Bible as an external justification.

        You wrote: “No philosopher writes a paper without relying on the absolute principles of logic”

        The principles of logic are objective, but they cannot gaurantee absolute conformity to reality. For example, logicians have found that there are rare instances when an argument fits logical criteria and yet yields a false conclusion. Yes, no decent philosopher forgoes the use of logic, not because logic is an absolute law gauranteeing absolute results, but rather because the use of logic has pragmatic advantage. The same is true with morality.

        You wrote: “what would be the point of writing “Socrates is a man” when it could simultaneously and in the same sense mean “Socrates is not a man”? So yes, there are absolutes.”

        You don’t quite understand the limitations of human knowledge and language. For instance, if Socrates were transgender then one could rightly say Socrates is a man and not a man in two different senses of the word. Words continually need qualitative revision as they are adjusted for new phenomena and different scenarios which change the way in which words are understood. This limitation means that when we view words as having existence idependent of what they represent we are committing a fallacy. A word is only a means to communicate thought. Therefore, when you say that “Socrates is a man and cannot not be a man” you are only making an absolute judgment relative to your own particular and subjective understanding of the word “man”.

        Believing in absolutes also assumes a static universe in which the laws we judge things by could not be moved. Yet we know black holes have the effect of warping time and space (two things we usually assume to be static); therefore to say it can’t be 2:00pm EST and 3:00pm EST simultaneously is an absolute truth in the universe would be to assume a static law of time in all scenarios, which neglects the complexity and vastness of the universe. Other examples of this complexity are found in Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

        Of course things are absolutely the way they are; we call this ‘reality’. Our goal with logic and reasoning is to get as close as possible to a correct view of reality for pragmatic purposes. But to assume that we can actually know absolute truths, which will never change in any scenario is simply a futile effort. If we say something is ‘true’ or ‘false’ we cannot identify what is absolutely, 100% true due to the limits of communication and knowledge.

        Like

  10. I think this is the most comprehensive and clear answer to the question of suffering that I have ever read. Thank you so much for sharing your own pain, and answering with such dignity and clarity.

    Like

  11. You can’t reply to the problem of evil by redefining evil, If you want to call god good you have to care, what goodness is. Otherwise just call god holy and admit, that holy isn’t an other word for good.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good grief, this is not hard.

    1) God is defined as a being with the power and motivation to maximize human well-being and happiness.

    2) Therefore, if God exists, then human happiness and well-being should be maximized.

    3) Human happiness and well-being is not maximum. Not even close.

    4) 3 contradicts 2.

    5) Therefore, God does not exist.

    Do you get it yet? You can’t define a being that loves us and wants us to be happy, only to plop Him down into a world where little parasites eat the eyeballs of children.

    HELLOOOOOOOO? Paging Dr Logic. Those are mutually inconsistent ideas!

    Like

    1. Hey,

      I think there is a lot of truth to point one, but can’t be said without saying that God’s ultimate purpose is to glorify himself. That may sound arrogant and awful (as Stephen Fry indeed says), but if God is love itself, then glorifying him brings joy and delight to us (which surely you agree is a good thing?).
      On point two, what is human happiness? If this world is all we have, then yes, it’s not going overly well. But if as the Christian faith holds, eternity awaits, it turns it around; those who in this life put their trust in Christ are awaiting an eternity in heaven where God is fully glorified, and therefore we are fully satisfied too!
      As to why that isn’t happening right now, I refer you back to the article.

      Hope you can see why all Christians aren’t just illogical (trust me, we’re not).

      Like

  13. Thanks to you for your reflections on suffering. How you can suffer as you have & testify to the amazing love of God is, to me, proof of his sovereignty.

    Like

  14. The article is written under a false premise.

    The author asks the question, “First, given what Stephen Fry believes about life, the universe, and everything, why does he even have a problem?” He doesn’t have a problem. The only reason he said any of this is that he was asked what he would say to God if he died and had to confront him. He’s a known atheist. This whole discussion is framed by the pre-supposition “were God to exist.”

    The author goes on to assert that, “to speak in such terms is to assume that there is something which goes beyond us, and our universe, something to which we can appeal in order to be outraged at the way things are,” and that, “whoever says something in the world is wrong, unjust, or evil, they appeal outside the human sphere of authority, to something (Someone?) transcendent.” Utterly disingenuous. A clear case of the willfull misunderstanding of the framing of the entire discussion. Fry is given the pre-supposition “were God to exist.” Were he not given this pre-supposition, he would be talking from his own, well-established standpoint, that God does not exist.

    I did trouble to read the entire article, and found it to be nothing more than Christian propaganda. We can do better than this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Surely though the point he’s making still stands, that if you say that God does not exist at all, then you have trouble explaining why humans have such a strong and to a large extent consensus opinion of what ‘ought to be’, which doesn’t appear to be explained by evolutionary biology (see Sarah Tennant’s helpful reply).

      Like

  15. Thanks Chris.

    In order to argue against God’s existence on the basis of suffering, you have to be able to show that God has no moral reason for allowing (or even causing) the suffering He does. No one to my knowledge has done this. Yet Stephen Fry casually supposes God “could have easily created a universe in which these things didn’t exist.” Really, Stephen? How many universes – however rudimentary – have you created?

    There is a difference between God’s plan (boulema) and his will (thelema). God’s will can be resisted; his plan cannot. The main difference between the two is time. As Joseph says, “what you intended for evil, God meant for good.” If you read to the end of your Bible, you will discover God intends to redeem and restore the universe. And this will follow the same (spiritual) principles that are shadowed in Old Testament law: If you have had something taken from you, it will be restored many times over.

    Chris (I hope) understands that the suffering wrought in this life through his daughter’s condition will pale into insignificance compared to what God will restore to him and his wife. The grace and love they display now is glorious evidence of the token, the down-payment, they have now which signals the full restoration they will receive.

    I’m not annoyed with Stephen Fry’s little diatribe; I’m sorry for him that he can’t lift his eyes beyond the immediate suffering he sees. This doesn’t mean that we can’t work to display God’s ultimate intention (as demonstrated by the vast amount of altruism shown by Christians over the last 2000 years, far surpassing that of any other belief or unbelief system). But, just like the Old Testament, this is an expression of what we know God is doing and will do. It is not us, it is God working in us “to will and to act”.

    God bless Chris.

    Like

  16. Thanks Chris.

    In order to argue against God’s existence on the basis of suffering, you have to be able to show that God has no moral reason for allowing (or even causing) the suffering He does. No one to my knowledge has done this. Yet Stephen Fry casually supposes God “could have easily created a universe in which these things didn’t exist.” Really, Stephen? How many universes – however rudimentary – have you created?

    There is a difference between God’s plan (boulema) and his will (thelema). God’s will can be resisted; his plan cannot. The main difference between the two is time. As Joseph says, “what you intended for evil, God meant for good.” If you read to the end of your Bible, you will discover God intends to redeem and restore the universe. And this will follow the same (spiritual) principles that are shadowed in Old Testament law: If you have had something taken from you, it will be restored many times over.

    Chris (I hope) understands that the suffering wrought in this life through his daughter’s condition will pale into insignificance compared to what God will restore to him and his wife. The grace and love they display now is glorious evidence of the token, the down-payment, they have now which signals the full restoration they will receive.

    I’m not annoyed with Stephen Fry’s little diatribe; I’m sorry for him that he can’t lift his eyes beyond the immediate suffering he sees. This doesn’t mean that we can’t work to display God’s ultimate intention (as demonstrated by the vast amount of altruism shown by Christians over the last 2000 years, far surpassing that of any other belief or unbelief system). But, just like the Old Testament, this is an expression of what we know God is doing and will do. It is not us, it is God working in us “to will and to act”.

    Like

  17. If God exists, the existence of suffering cannot deny his existence, and our ignorance may find his permitting suffering incomprehensible. But, the presence of suffering is not, and cannot, be an argument for the non-existence of a Creator. After all, God (theoretically) could have a purpose for suffering.

    If God does not exist, why do atheists get so hot under the collar against the beliefs of others? If man is an accidental collocation (arrangement) of atoms, then his ideas, hopes, values, plans, loves and hates are all irrelevant. In a few short years, according to the atheist we shall be returned to atoms and all our thoughts will have become what they were, nothing but the inevitable consequence of the laws of chemistry brought about by an inexplicable explosion from the Singularity.

    The other problem Fry or Dawkins has is this. They praise and glory in the Theory of Evolution, but forget that if evolution is true then it should be viewed as a merciless, cruel, brutal, unfeeling force that ‘delights’ in creating worms that eat the eyes out of children. When Nature programs are shown on TV this idea of the unfeeling brutality of the survival of the fittest is never criticised. Instead the amazing design features of beautiful creatures is praised.

    It seems that atheistic evolutionists want to have their cake and to eat it. They want to praise their creator (evolution) and to criticise our Creator (God).

    Like

  18. Chris, you say there’s nothing new here. Even if that’s true, it’s helpful to have it reiterated, particularly coming from someone in your situation who can speak personally on the topic, rather than a hallow ivory tower answer. Another post filled with realism in the face of terrible suffering in this world AND true gospel hope. Thanks again.
    God bless you.

    Like

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