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How can I respond to the following Christian “apologetic”......
Posted: 07 October 2013 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 226 ]
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inthegobi - 07 October 2013 10:15 AM

As an aside, we should remember that even our ancient ancestors may not have taken Genesis as claimed like Daniel Dennett, or certain modern Christians of the last few centuries: that ‘day and night’ really meant *even to them* 24-hr time-periods, for example. We should never let our opponents frame the debate just how they’d prefer it, and i repeat, we should be wary of arguing over incidentals versus the essentials of Christian faith.

Chris

I understand Chris, and anyone who wants to believe the six days of creation are 24 hour days as we now measure the passage of time are welcomed by me to do so.  I just see other possibilities which fascinate me.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 04:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 227 ]
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inthegobi - 07 October 2013 09:19 AM

I’d say any damn thing it took to fluster and discomfit my opponent. If I and my buddies were clever enough we would introduce only true things (at least true to me). The purpose of an intellectual mugging isn’t ultimately to gain knowledge - since the gang is sure they’re right - but to demonstrate *power* over the opponent.
Chris

This is exactly what I was saying I don’t like about you. These are your thoughts, but you have projected them on others. It is how you are interacting here, not others. I abhor this type of ancient sophism where the goal is merely to win the argument. There is a reason it became unpopular.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 228 ]
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Lausten, Lausten, Lausten,

Lausten - 07 October 2013 04:53 PM

I abhor this type of ancient sophism where the goal is merely to win the argument. There is a reason it became unpopular.

Dude. I am not *advocating* arguing that way. that’s about the saddest part of your replies to me. But in the interests of mutual loathing:

I’m saying *you’re* this thug. You and several others. You don’t seem to realize it (it took a while for me to figure it out, I admit, but I’m slow). The thread on ethics of belief is a good example. Krauss is (as a popular philosophizer) a hack sophist, with all the faults you so rightly abhor, although you cannot bring yourself to admit it - you yourself are trying to that argument, at any cost to reason. I thought Krauss’s folly was pretty obvious; I thought we could all agree it as an *example* of sloppy and practically unethical thinking. Even Dennett - ye gods, even *Jeff Coyne* - disagrees with him!

But please, *please* don’t throw me in the *briar* patch again!

Chris

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Posted: 07 October 2013 05:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 229 ]
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LilySmith - 07 October 2013 03:47 PM

anyone who wants to believe the six days of creation are 24 hour days as we now measure the passage of time are welcomed by me to do so.  I just see other possibilities which fascinate me.

Sorry Lily, I took you as making that claim. You’re making a more subtle one, perhaps, that the six days of Creation somehow matches the overall history of the Universe, say from less to more complex (the large-scale structure, then simple living things, then more complex ones)?

Not my cup o’ tea *if* that’s where you’re going, but mostly because i think it’s just the nibbly edges of our religion, nothing like its core.

As an aside, posters here might like to dig up Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, an old-fashioned but interesting book from a well-mannered atheist. He notes that the Creation story in Genesis does have one great advantage over its surrounding rivals; it is much less mythological, and as scientific as one could expect in those very early days it was first committed to writing. No cutting up Tiamat to make the Cosmos, no Sun-god or Moon-goddess, no gods copulating all over the place, etc.

Chris

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Posted: 07 October 2013 07:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 230 ]
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inthegobi - 07 October 2013 05:49 PM

Lausten, Lausten, Lausten,

Lausten - 07 October 2013 04:53 PM

I abhor this type of ancient sophism where the goal is merely to win the argument. There is a reason it became unpopular.

Dude. I am not *advocating* arguing that way. that’s about the saddest part of your replies to me. But in the interests of mutual loathing:

I’m saying *you’re* this thug. You and several others. You don’t seem to realize it (it took a while for me to figure it out, I admit, but I’m slow). The thread on ethics of belief is a good example. Krauss is (as a popular philosophizer) a hack sophist, with all the faults you so rightly abhor, although you cannot bring yourself to admit it - you yourself are trying to that argument, at any cost to reason. I thought Krauss’s folly was pretty obvious; I thought we could all agree it as an *example* of sloppy and practically unethical thinking. Even Dennett - ye gods, even *Jeff Coyne* - disagrees with him!

But please, *please* don’t throw me in the *briar* patch again!

Chris

Then why do you say it, if you aren’t advocating it? I don’t know which is worse, just being sophistic or making statements about it then saying you didn’t mean you really would do that? That’s the same question I asked before and you are just making it worse.

And you didn’t mention Dennett or Coyne before, and you still haven’t provided any sources, so I’m sticking with my view that there is a conversation going on between reasonable people and you are making it into a controversy and a bitch slapping of Krauss. Why is it so hard for you to have people disagree with you? I never defended Krauss, so there is nothing that I “cannot bring myselft to admit”, I’m only asking you where you got the idea that so many of his “fellow physicists” agree with your interpretation. I never said you were wrong either, just that I hadn’t heard that. That you get upset because I don’t automatically agree with you is very childish.
See Scientific American April 2012, The Consolation of Philosophy
An update by the author of A Universe from Nothing on his thoughts, as a theoretical physicist, about the value of the discipline of philosophy

By Lawrence M. Krauss

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Posted: 07 October 2013 10:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 231 ]
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inthegobi - 07 October 2013 08:26 AM

Actually, there are three possibilities (other than denying His existence): he isn’t perfectly good, he isn’t perfectly knowledgeable (a ‘thin’ god, who lacks personal qualities), or isn’t perfectly powerful. Curious how we all focus on God’s goodness.

Yes, anyway Lily isn’t going for any of these.

‘If he could (stop suffering), he should.’ That doesn’t follow necessarily.

That’s right but check back to the context. Lily said he could but that’s just not how it works.

Here are two replies to unjust suffering by natural disasters (usually called ‘natural evils’).
1) Augustine’s answer to all unjust suffering is ‘free will badly applied is better than robotic beings’.

So, my disagreement with Lily over that defence is we don’t and can’t have Libertarian free will.


The application is obvious for injustice by humans on their fellows. for natural disasters he attributes it to demons - they have free will too, and they commit these injustices upon human beings. You can ridicule this reply, but: demons have a long pedigree in religions; and besides, if you have sympathy for the existence of God, you’re being over-delicate if you won’t countenance lesser beings that are yet more powerful than us.

Lily hasn’t gone for that option

2) A different kind of reply is the ‘no best world’ argument. There is no Universe that can be well-constructed that would not have natural evils. Any Universe like the kind you’re thinking of would be like a very badly made story - you know, where the heroes always have perfect aim and the enemies always miss. On this notion there’s something *childish* about demanding God prevent all natural disasters. It would be a corollary that we could have no real natural science. That would be awful; we would be unable to gain any knowledge on our own. We truly would be entirely dependent upon the supernatural in a way difficult to understand. Such a world would be physical in some stunted sense, but utterly non-natural. Therefore, even granting a perfectly good and loving God, natural evils are necessary.

We were specifically talking about natural disasters before man came along since Lily has only brought up the free will defense and that natural disasters are a punishment for sin.

One of the sad ‘facts’ as I see it is with so much suffering of sentient beings God could have done better by not creating anything at all or just having no sentient beings.

The idea that some suffering is necessary, perhaps makes sense, but all this suffering? I don’t buy it but I’m not going to argue over that.

I’m specifically against things that are more obviously untrue like Jesus was the son of god, I have libertarian free will to believe in Jesus and go to heaven and natural disasters are punishment for sin (again based on libertarian free will).

[ Edited: 07 October 2013 10:29 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 08 October 2013 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 232 ]
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StephenLawrence - 07 October 2013 10:27 PM

One of the sad ‘facts’ as I see it is with so much suffering of sentient beings God could have done better by not creating anything at all or just having no sentient beings.

This is a compelling argument. It has been around since at least the early Greeks. Justin Schieber of Reasonable Doubts calls it “the problem of non-god objects” and has been trying it out in various debates recently. The only response seems to be that we can’t know God, so we can’t know why He created this imperfect universe. Not much of a response at all.

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Posted: 08 October 2013 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 233 ]
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LilySmith - 07 October 2013 03:43 PM

It’s faith that there is an intelligent God who created the universe and governs my life, and it’s faith that I can have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

You see Lily, it is a giant leap from a ‘cause of the big bang’ to ‘an intelligent God who created the universe and governs my life’, don’t you think? I do not see any connection to them, except that both start with a beginning.

LilySmith - 07 October 2013 03:43 PM

Science does not require anyone give up their faith in God. 

That highly depends on what your conception of God is. If you would have believed in Thor, then science has definitely done away with him. Or would you then call electricity ‘Thor’, and say electricity is intelligent? The point is, if you reduce your concept of God intentionally in such a way that science possibly cannot say anything about him, then your sentence becomes a tautology: science can say nothing about things it cannot say anything about. You can do it, but it has a huge price: God is nowhere where science has something to say. That is your methodological problem when you say that God governs your life. ‘Governing’ must allow for some causal influence, otherwise it has no meaning. But ‘causal influence’ means science possibly has something to say about it.

I fully agree that one can make conceptions of ‘God’ about which science will be silent forever. But such a God has no influence in this world: no travel guide in the desert of Sinai, no miracle bread and fish, no arising deaths.

LilySmith - 07 October 2013 03:43 PM

If someone wants to limit themselves to believing there isn’t a God who is the cause, they place that limitation on themselves.  If they say that’s the requirement of science, then they have place that requirement and limitation on science themselves. 

I just think that the intellectually most honest answer is, is that science is just silent about certain concepts of God. But that also means science itself gives no reason to believe in God.

LilySmith - 07 October 2013 03:43 PM

Since I already believe in God and the creation story in Genesis, I am interested in the relativity of time as it related to the six days of creation.  I am also interested in the scientific discovery that the universe had a beginning and the theory of the big bang.  I’m saying at the very beginning, in the explosion of energy which created matter, things would have been moving very quickly.  Velocity is one of the things that affects the passage of time.  I relate that information to the six day creation and ask how God measured time. 

But this is all bending the meaning of the words in the bible. If you have no other reason to define those 6 days otherwise than we do now, then you are just trying to save the bible against criticism. If you find independent reasons (maybe linguistic and historical) that these ‘days’ might mean something else then it is interesting. Otherwise it is just immunising your belief against possible scientific criticism.

LilySmith - 07 October 2013 03:43 PM

I’m really not here as a troll, to be dishonest, to lie or any of the rest of the accusation against me.

I never thought you were a troll. But you have a tendency not to answer directly at questions. And if somebody asks arguments for your belief, it is not much help to give arguments that are only valid when you already believe. And saying that your belief is not inconsistent with science is also not a positive argument, it is at most a counter argument against the idea that science has shown that God does not exist. (But do not forget: I don’t think you believe in a God that does not contradict science. See above.)

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GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

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Posted: 08 October 2013 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 234 ]
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inthegobi - 06 October 2013 06:17 PM

To get back to substance:

I know enough about those things to know they don’t exist, so whatever internally consistent argument they have, it is still wrong. Without external verification, they are meaningless.

Hm. So you enter into debates with Christians like Lily *knowing* there is *nothing* (‘whatever consistent argument’) she could say, *ever*, that wouldn’t be wrong. Such arguments are even *meaningless*. Do you realize that by entering into debate with Lily, that you *must* be acting dishonestly?
Chris

Chris;
I honestly want to straighten this out, or at least find where to agree to disagree. The above is from #191 and a key point where we derailed. I stated that, in a reasonable discussion, external verification is important. For example, two people disagree on who had the most strike-outs in baseball history, so they go to the internet and look it up. That seems completely fair and an honest way to go about settling something. The only difference here is we are not arguing a single simple fact like that. We arguing several points, from history to energy. We are also arguing about how to settle the argument.

From my point of view, to extend my baseball analogy, you and Lily would, at the point of my suggestion to look it up, argue that the internet is not a good source of baseball history. You would say the internet is good for other things, but not that. That there are other ways of receiving baseball knowledge, that you have a book of baseball knowledge and you want to use that. I point out your book was written before baseball was invented, and we start arguing about that. From that analogy, can you at least see how I’m feeling about this thread?

I prefer science over religion because it has been proven historically to be the most fair and just way to settle things. It has not settled everything, and it is open to abuse just like anything, but it is better than any method that I am aware of. I value fairness and honesty, and science supports that.

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Posted: 08 October 2013 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 235 ]
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Stephen,

So, my disagreement with Lily over that defence is we don’t and can’t have Libertarian free will.

Yes, I saw that. But note first, you added the ‘libertarian’ part. You do have some sense of ‘free will’ that includes being able to hold the people who have that free will (or ‘free will’) responsible for their actions. Never mind how you pan that out; you believe that the average thief is responsible for his wrong act. You *do* believe that injustice exists, don’t you?

As for animal suffering:
Augustine’s demons might be blamed. But let’s drop that for now.
I’m not sure that pain is an *evil*, especially for animals.
First, animals are like us in some ways, but not in others. We can dwell on our pains, for just one example. We can revisit them again and again. Animal pains lack many features that magnify human pains.
Second, there are many pains we endure in our animality that no normal person would blame God for: rotten teeth, a fall out of a tree. Even natural disasters (pace to GdB) make remarkably little dent in people’s faith in their gods. Otherwise it’s hard to imagine how belief in gods would have gotten off the ground. (Excepting the obvious answer from Lily or me, that is.) So at least many pains in animals may not really tell against God.
Third, there is an evolutionary view of animal pains. (The following is from John Perry’s Good, Evil and the Existence of God, a dialogue with a pro-secularist bent.) Animals - us included - need pain for obvious reasons (keeping hands out of hot fires etc.). You’re not worried about that kind of pain, right? But sometimes an animal feels pain and no good comes of it for him. Think of a baby bat who has by accident fallen off the ceiling of his cave, and in the fall broken his wing. There he sits in pain, and no good to him will come of it. However, pain is good not just for that single bat but for the species of bats; so even if sometimes animals like that poor bat suffer pain needless for them as individuals, it serves a larger good of their species.
Thus we can explain why God, Who has ordained all things including the processes of evolution, allows seemingly needless suffering, even in animals. This falls under the ‘no best world’ argument.

(Not to misrepresent Perry: he uses this argument to explain *all* suffering without God, free will, etc. I think there’s a big problem with using it that way, but that’s another story.)
You seem to believe that you have some real knowledge that the world could be better. Don’t we all! It’s a pretty bald assertion to claim one just knows a better world could be constructed, but imo that’s a lot like knowing I in my armchair could do much better at that quiz-show than the fool on the podium.

God could have done better by not creating anything at all or just having no sentient beings.

Like this statement, which seems breathlessly bold to me. Better nothing alive than living things? Evolution is a bad idea? I for one find that hard to assert without feeling like the armchair Creator. It is better there are bats than no bats. Bats are amazing. Speciation is astounding. If I’d been God I’d have just popped things into existence like Samantha on *Bewitched*. How lame and unimaginative of me.

You do have a point when you say that ‘some suffering is necessary, perhaps makes sense, but all this suffering?’ We must be careful to distinguish having a discussion, making points, explaining, justifying in some slightly bloodless sense etc., from dealing with actual suffering beings right in front of us. Assume any theodicy you like, Lily’s, my offerings whatever: the proper response to a suffering man, or bat, is not an explanation, even a good one. Suffering in a rational being may be *alleviated*, sometimes, by knowing the right explanation, but it cannot really wipe it away. Suffering sucks, period.

Finally, since suffering is an ‘evil’, something that goes wrong, we cannot expect a single answer to all suffering - no more than I expect a single reason that isn’t vacuous why people get the wrong answer in their calculations, or why species fail to thrive. Error is legion.

Btw and just as an aside about apologetics and debating: you can still appreciate an argument even if you’d deny one of the premises. For example, even if i think there is no free will here in this present Universe, I could still say ‘why yes, if we really had this free will, a world with it would indeed be better than one without it.’ That enables an interlocutor to still discuss, and to gain an interesting argument that - who knows? - will come in handy if you change your mind about what you’ve denied previously. Beliefs change, and arguments previously valid but unsound subsequently become sound.

Chris

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Posted: 08 October 2013 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 236 ]
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“Bats are amazing. Speciation is astounding. If I’d been God I’d have just popped things into existence like Samantha on *Bewitched*. How lame and unimaginative of me.”

I don’t think this is an argument against the “problem of non-god objects”. This counter assumes a creator who had to make choices in the first place, then decides having a creation is better than not having one. But if you first assume a god who had to make choices between lesser evils or lesser goods, then what kind of god is that? It sounds like a god closer to Samantha, who frequently had unintended consequences from what she popped into existence. It does not sound like a god who has a plan and is leading us toward a better point in the future.

The “problem of non-god objects” starts with the God of the Bible. The one who created everything and stood back and said it was good. The one who knows all. The one worthy of worship. The one for whom we should suspend our ability to reason and accept as our Saviour. I’m perfectly willing to accept theological arguments that say God is not all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, but once you do that, you need to apply those limitations evenly and logically. You lose the right to fall back on the argument that God is so far above us, we can’t explain everything He does.

You always have the right to say “I don’t know” or even “we don’t know”. But that is very different than saying “we don’t know, therefore it is in the hands of God”.

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Posted: 08 October 2013 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 237 ]
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StephenLawrence - 07 October 2013 10:27 PM
inthegobi - 07 October 2013 08:26 AM

Actually, there are three possibilities (other than denying His existence): he isn’t perfectly good, he isn’t perfectly knowledgeable (a ‘thin’ god, who lacks personal qualities), or isn’t perfectly powerful. Curious how we all focus on God’s goodness.

Yes, anyway Lily isn’t going for any of these.

Stephen’s right.

‘If he could (stop suffering), he should.’ That doesn’t follow necessarily.

That’s right but check back to the context. Lily said he could but that’s just not how it works.

Stephen’s right again.

Here are two replies to unjust suffering by natural disasters (usually called ‘natural evils’).
1) Augustine’s answer to all unjust suffering is ‘free will badly applied is better than robotic beings’.

So, my disagreement with Lily over that defence is we don’t and can’t have Libertarian free will.

I don’t give that defense.  Natural disasters exist because God allows them to exist.  “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.”

The application is obvious for injustice by humans on their fellows. for natural disasters he attributes it to demons - they have free will too, and they commit these injustices upon human beings. You can ridicule this reply, but: demons have a long pedigree in religions; and besides, if you have sympathy for the existence of God, you’re being over-delicate if you won’t countenance lesser beings that are yet more powerful than us.

Lily hasn’t gone for that option

Stephen’s right, I don’t go for that.  God created all things, and has control over them all.  No being, not a demon or anyone else, can do anything that God does not allow. 

2) A different kind of reply is the ‘no best world’ argument. There is no Universe that can be well-constructed that would not have natural evils. Any Universe like the kind you’re thinking of would be like a very badly made story - you know, where the heroes always have perfect aim and the enemies always miss. On this notion there’s something *childish* about demanding God prevent all natural disasters. It would be a corollary that we could have no real natural science. That would be awful; we would be unable to gain any knowledge on our own. We truly would be entirely dependent upon the supernatural in a way difficult to understand. Such a world would be physical in some stunted sense, but utterly non-natural. Therefore, even granting a perfectly good and loving God, natural evils are necessary.

We were specifically talking about natural disasters before man came along since Lily has only brought up the free will defense and that natural disasters are a punishment for sin.

When God’s purpose for this universe is over, he will create a new heaven and a new earth where natural disasters won’t occur.  I don’t believe natural disasters are a punishment for sin.  They are a part of a fallen world because of sin. 

StephenLawrence - 07 October 2013 10:27 PM

One of the sad ‘facts’ as I see it is with so much suffering of sentient beings God could have done better by not creating anything at all or just having no sentient beings.

The idea that some suffering is necessary, perhaps makes sense, but all this suffering? I don’t buy it but I’m not going to argue over that.

I’m specifically against things that are more obviously untrue like Jesus was the son of god, I have libertarian free will to believe in Jesus and go to heaven and natural disasters are punishment for sin (again based on libertarian free will).

Natural disasters are scary, but the evil done by man is much more scary and horrific in my opinion.  Thankfully we don’t all suffer all the evil that’s out there.  Most of us have fairly normal and good lives.  If we blame God for the suffering in life, shouldn’t we also thank him for the good?  Libertarian free will says we can act against our nature.  I’m not claiming that we can.  I do believe, however, that the Son of God can provide us with a new nature that can overcome our sinfulness if we trust him for it.  In my understanding, that’s what the Bible teaches.

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Posted: 08 October 2013 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 238 ]
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Lausten - 08 October 2013 07:00 AM

Chris;
I honestly want to straighten this out, or at least find where to agree to disagree.

I do too. work on it tomorrow.

Chris

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Posted: 08 October 2013 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 239 ]
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“If we blame God for the suffering in life, shouldn’t we also thank him for the good?”—Lily

This is a good example of all the talking past each other and misconnections going on here. Your question only makes sense from your worldview. From my view, I looked at all that’s going on in the world, war, many religions, empires fallen, poetry surviving it all, people helping people for no personal gain, coincidences, the accumulation of knowledge, and I decided I have choices, or at least I have the illusion of choice. Some of those choices lead to paradoxes, like when I give unconditionally, I often get something unexpected in return. It might just be a feeling of satisfaction, but that ain’t bad.

You seem to have followed a similar path of discovery, but somewhere along the line, you decided there is a god who has a hand in all this. I truly appreciate your use of phrases like “in my understanding”. It keeps things civil. Both of us have slipped up on being civil over the last couple months. I don’t know how to put it any nicer that pretty much anything that follows “I believe” is going to mean very little to me. I need you to supply the “because” to that, and I have rules for what counts as “because”. I didn’t make the rules up, they aren’t arbitrary, in fact they are the fairness set of rules I know. That’s why I ask people to play by them.

Or, we can continue with “God exists” vs “no he doesn’t”.

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Posted: 08 October 2013 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 240 ]
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LilySmith - 08 October 2013 09:56 AM

Libertarian free will says we can act against our nature.  I’m not claiming that we can.  I do believe, however, that the Son of God can provide us with a new nature that can overcome our sinfulness if we trust him for it.  In my understanding, that’s what the Bible teaches.

But I don’t trust him for it, I think it’s bullshit and to think and do otherwise I would have to be very different but I’m not and god can’t blame me for that.

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