problem of evil and suffering
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20-07-2015, 10:16 AM
RE: problem of evil and suffering
(17-07-2015 06:14 PM)Tonechaser77 Wrote:  
(16-07-2015 07:36 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  That actually sounds like many religions in a nutshell. The difference with biblical Christianity is that salvation doesn't rest upon behavior. Yes, there are some judgments and rewards in the next world that rest upon behavior. To deny this is to say that we can do anything and not reap what we sow in THIS world, which is a total denial of reality.

But salvation is rooted in the cross, death and resurrection of Christ, not what we "do". Please learn this. Memorize this, if need be!

Thanks.

This is a hasty generalization. If you knew your bible you'd know that it claims several ways to be saved.

Consider the email below that I recently posted on this forum from an email I wrote:

Hey man, I hope you've been well! I was hoping you could help me out. I had some questions and thoughts about the recent sermon series regarding the comparisons of religion. I thought I would come to you about them first and go from there. The most recent week 7-12-15 was taught by Ryan and the focus was the differences between Catholicism and Christianity. The 10,000 foot view was that Catholicism is incorrect because the bible only teaches that salvation is brought by faith in Christ and grace alone. When further study is done though, this really isn’t the case. In fact, it is much less black and white, and much more confusing. And it really seems that this message is being spun to support the beliefs that Grace Church holds, rather than identify what the bible TRULY says. I understand confusion needs to be minimized in order to bring people to Christ etc and if they see confusion it brings doubt and rationalization. Most lay-believers are not biblical scholars (and I am in no way claiming to be one neither). If people find conflicting views in the bible then the bible is not the inerrant, infallible word of God and people will see it for it is…a human book written by human people prone to mistakes and differing viewpoints. But I digress….let me get back on track.

There are actually several views on salvation and in fact the views can very plainly be seen to have evolved in the four gospels.

Let me dive in further to explain my point with a simple lesson in biblical criticism (the scholarly study and investigation of biblical writings that makes discerning judgments about these writings.) You may certainly be aware of all this but I don’t want to take that for granted.

The first three Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke are termed the Synoptic Gospels and are regarded by Biblical scholars, both Christian and secular, to be older than John. (The dating of the Gospels is not known but most scholars tend to place the dating of the Gospels after 70 AD though.) Mark is regarded as the oldest, followed by Matthew and Luke, then by John. Now the central theology doctrine of Christianity today teaches a salvation by faith through grace, by believing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose from the grave. This doctrine is central and fundamental to the Christian Gospel. Understandable. However, this form of salvation is not taught in Matthew, Mark and Luke, which are the oldest of the Gospels. The basis for the Christian Gospel of salvation by faith and the atonement comes from the book of John, which is the newest of the Gospels.

The first three Gospels - Matthew, Mark and Luke have a different Jesus and a different Salvation theology than the Gospel of John does. This logically indicates that the Salvation concept we have today, central to Christianity, evolved through mankind after Jesus supposedly left Earth. Therefore, it is a human concept which unintentionally puts a stick in the spoke of the bike that fundamentalist churches teach about sin, salvation, and redemption.

In the Gospel of Matthew, there is not one word about having to believe on Jesus in order to go to heaven. In fact, there is not one word about having to "believe" in anything at all to get to heaven! There is no mention of the atonement or of salvation by faith. In fact, Jesus says that all you have to do for God to forgive your sins is this:

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:" (Matthew 6:14)

Later in that Gospel, when someone asked Jesus directly what he had to do to be saved and have eternal life, Matthew clearly records a salvation by works:

Matt. 19:16-21: "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."

Jesus in this account never said here that you have to believe that he died on the cross for your sins for God to forgive you! In the same Gospel of Matthew, Jesus also preached the famous beatitudes, which emphasize that those with good hearts, attitudes and character will inherit the kingdom of God.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

That's it! He didn't say that you had to believe that Jesus died for your sins in order for you to be forgiven. The verses that say that are in the book of John, which came about 50 years after Matthew.


Now take a look at the book of Mark. He doesn't mention that you have to believe in Jesus to be saved either, except for a verse in the last chapter of Mark: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16). However, most scholars know that that verse is an interpolation, or a forgery, since the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark do not contain that verse, and furthermore it does not fit into the overall context of Mark since the rest of it doesn’t teach salvation by faith. Therefore, Mark probably never wrote anything about having to believe that Jesus died for you, in a salvation by faith, or the atonement concept. Likewise, the Gospel of Luke is also like Matthew and Mark in that it doesn't mention belief in the atonement or in salvation by faith either! Therefore, it is likely that the original Jesus, if he existed, probably never preached such a doctrine either.


Next comes the Gospel of John, and we have verses that require you to "believe" in Jesus to be saved, such as:


John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”


John 3:18 “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”


John 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”


John 8:24 “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”


John 11:25 “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”


Of course, some Christians will respond by saying that you have to add up all the Gospels together to get the complete story. However, the key point here is that if Jesus actually said that you had to believe in him in order to be saved, then Matthew, Mark and Luke would have at least mentioned something about that somewhere. If it was central to Jesus' teachings that you need salvation by faith, then why didn't they mention it at all in the first three Gospels? The logical reason is that they never heard of, or in the least, didn’t supported that idea, because it didn’t evolve until later when the early Christians decided to add that doctrine, as in the Gospel of John. So we can logically conclude that if Matthew, Mark and Luke were with Jesus when he was on earth (assuming they are even eyewitnesses which isn’t even claimed), then Christ probably never said anything about faith, belief, or the atonement either.


The Gospel of John was a result of the developing theology of the Church at that time. That book is where the verses about salvation by faith, being "born again", the atonement, and having to believe that Jesus died for your sins came from. On many pages in it, you will find Jesus saying something about having to believe in him. When Christians cite Gospel verses about being saved, they always refer to John. When they quote Jesus, they usually refer to this book. Yet this book did not come for at least 50 years after the first three Gospels. Therefore, logically whatever Jesus actually said would have been recorded more accurately in the earlier Gospels, which emphasize good works and charity instead.


From this it is apparent as to how the Salvation theology evolved in the Church while the New Testament books and letters were still being written. Another fact that indicates this as well is that according to Mark, Christ was a man. But according to Matthew and Luke, he was more like a demigod, while John insists that he was God himself. That also shows an evolution of the concept of Jesus from a man gradually to a deity status. This is common with religious founders throughout history, because no matter what they claim themselves, their followers eventually try to deify them and make them into a God to worship.


Of course, Christians also quote verses to support their Salvation by atonement theology from the epistles of Paul too. This is where Ryan mainly kept his focus. However, there’s a problem here too. Paul never met Jesus Christ (at least not physically) in his lifetime. He never wrote anything about what Jesus did either. In fact he claims everything he received about the gospel was given to him by revelation and by scripture (Old Testament). And since he was not with the historical Christ, he obviously doesn't know nor is he qualified to tell us what the historical Christ had taught when he was on earth. In fact, there are many discrepancies between Paul’s idea of Salvation and Jesus’ but they aren’t worth going into detail in this email.

Um, I spend much time on doctrines of salvation--after all, I witness to many people weekly, many of them Christians who err in these doctrines. I guarantee I think about all these things and scripture 20 times as often as you do.

The Bible is consistent in both testaments that trusting God will work out well. The Bible is consistent that man errs and that God forgives not based upon good deeds or works of the Law. However, I'm reluctant to go further in argument with an atheist about the mechanism of salvation before we establish some definitions of terms first--such as whether you believe in the Laws of Excluded Middle and Noncontradiction, whether you believe in absolute truth, and in how we may successfully review scripture to learn if it is truth.

If your main point is "Christians have different stripes of belief," I agree, and we can move on.

Thanks.

I'm told atheists on forums like TTA are bitter and angry. If you are not, your posts to me will be respectful, insightful and thoughtful. Prove me wrong by your adherence to decent behavior.
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20-07-2015, 10:17 AM
RE: problem of evil and suffering
(18-07-2015 03:10 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  
(18-07-2015 02:52 AM)The Polyglot Atheist Wrote:  Define "conquer death", because you know... humans still die.

It's also odd for him to declare it conquered when it's a system to him entirely created by his Gods choice on how to alter humanity and existence. It sounds as if humans have an out via the loophole god created to counter his judgement and rules of reality.

Death is not the end, and after-death can be the blessings of life and joy. Keep it simple... sorry for using jargon.

I'm told atheists on forums like TTA are bitter and angry. If you are not, your posts to me will be respectful, insightful and thoughtful. Prove me wrong by your adherence to decent behavior.
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20-07-2015, 10:54 AM (This post was last modified: 20-07-2015 11:01 AM by julep.)
RE: problem of evil and suffering
I see. Have you considered how people cause others to suffer, including innocent children? A crack mom can cause her children all kinds of emotional and developmental difficulties. Again, we can all pontificate anger against God--or we can devote as many resources as possible to helping the crack moms...
[/quote]

Pointing out the ethical shortcomings of the concept of god that you present has zero to do with being angry at your god. It also has nothing to do with how I as a human react to the suffering of other humans. Why you think that there is some kind of either/or situation here is incomprehensible.

Humans definitely cause one another suffering. Suffering can also be caused by other agencies, like gravity (falling out of a tree) or nature (being attacked by a grizzly bear). I also agree that allocating resources to minimize or eliminate suffering is laudable, where possible. No human suffering is actually caused by god, as god is imaginary.

I do assert that the deity you worship, by your own description of its actions and motives, causes suffering that is disproportionate and ineffective, and that that means that your god is not good, nor is your god strategically competent. Even if it existed, it would not be worthy of worship.

Edited to add: What makes me angry is not a nonexistent god, it is believers' defense of that god as good, wise, etc. In addition to being logically inconsistent, nonsense about god's using suffering for a greater purpose, the poor being always with us, etc., have been used to excuse inaction and the preservation of social divides that condemn large numbers of humans to misery-filled lives. In addition, of course, to the outright infliction of suffering on those who don't believe or don't believe the correct way.
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20-07-2015, 11:52 AM
RE: problem of evil and suffering
(20-07-2015 10:11 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(17-07-2015 11:50 AM)julep Wrote:  Thanks for your sympathy. Although I do not believe that my nephew is in heaven, as there is no evidence for heaven, I appreciate that the idea of an infant in hell (no evidence for hell, either) is troubling to you.

It seems to me, however, that you are talking out of both sides of your mouth on this thread. First suffering is brought on humans by themselves, or "reaping what you sow," and it's both justice in itself and part of god's lesson plan. Except when it's not deserved, and in that case, it's light and practically nothing on the scale of eternity, so our being troubled by it is short-sighted. I'm a teacher in real life, and I would be ashamed of myself if I had to use that kind of a stick to get through to my students. A god who communicates with his creations in this manner is a shabby teacher as well as morally problematic.

I do appreciate the narrative impulse that we all have to make our lives into stories, and stories aren't interesting without some drama and conflict. But the stories we use to understand ourselves and those around us aren't necessarily any truer than the ones novelists make up. Including most especially the happy ending of heaven.

I see. Have you considered how people cause others to suffer, including innocent children? A crack mom can cause her children all kinds of emotional and developmental difficulties. Again, we can all pontificate anger against God--or we can devote as many resources as possible to helping the crack moms...

Quote:I see. Have you considered how people cause others to suffer, including innocent children? A crack mom can cause her children all kinds of emotional and developmental difficulties. Again, we can all pontificate anger against God--or we can devote as many resources as possible to helping the crack moms...

Crack moms causing babies to suffer is a drop in the bucket compared to all the natural disasters throughout history and the subsequent misery these disasters have caused.

Take a look at this.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_na...death_toll


If one were to add up all the natural disasters in history, over 1 billion people, (waaaay over a billion) have died at the hands of nature, And your imaginary god doesn't lift a hand to prevent any of this. Apparently your god has never read the wise old Ben Franklin saying..."An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." He's too busy being jealous, having hissy-fits and threatening people with extortion to prevent disasters and diminish suffering.

What you believe in is an imaginary, fictional character though, so it's all a moot point.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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20-07-2015, 11:52 AM
RE: problem of evil and suffering
(20-07-2015 10:16 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  Um, I spend much time on doctrines of salvation--after all, I witness to many people weekly, many of them Christians who err in these doctrines. I guarantee I think about all these things and scripture 20 times as often as you do.

The Bible is consistent in both testaments that trusting God will work out well. The Bible is consistent that man errs and that God forgives not based upon good deeds or works of the Law. However, I'm reluctant to go further in argument with an atheist about the mechanism of salvation before we establish some definitions of terms first--such as whether you believe in the Laws of Excluded Middle and Noncontradiction, whether you believe in absolute truth, and in how we may successfully review scripture to learn if it is truth.

If your main point is "Christians have different stripes of belief," I agree, and we can move on.

Thanks.

Granting that anything at all in the bible could be held as anything other than a storybook: my main point is that the bible contradicts itself and is therefore one of the most confusing books ever put together. Surely the god who inspired said book could have eliminated this confusion by presenting something that at least stood in agreement. The very fact that supposed contradictions MUST be rationalized on the believer's end proves that it contradicts itself. If it didn't there would be no reason to harmonize it and discussions like this would not be needed.

I gave very specific examples on a few of the different standards for salvation in the NT, none of which were addressed. This doesn't surprise me though because they can't be addressed. It's just that simple. The bible states multiple ways to salvation.

It's one big circular cluster. If you believe the bible is the inerrant, infallible word of god with no contradictions, then you spend your time harmonizing all the contradictions that are in there (or you just ignore them as most do). If you believe the bible isn't infallible and that the men who wrote it made mistakes....then you rely on your own way of interpreting it while trying to decide which parts should be read at face value and which parts should not. All of which 2000 years later can be completely different than originally intended. It's really a lose / lose either way.

**Crickets** -- God
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20-07-2015, 06:47 PM
RE: problem of evil and suffering
(20-07-2015 10:17 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(18-07-2015 03:10 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  It's also odd for him to declare it conquered when it's a system to him entirely created by his Gods choice on how to alter humanity and existence. It sounds as if humans have an out via the loophole god created to counter his judgement and rules of reality.

Death is not the end, and after-death can be the blessings of life and joy. Keep it simple... sorry for using jargon.

There is no evidence that there is anything beyond death.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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21-07-2015, 07:36 AM
RE: problem of evil and suffering
All,

Everything you say regarding God as the primary cause of suffering goes against these facts:

* Man is fallen and can behave in a degenerate manner, doing things other animals simply won't do or can't even conceive to do

* God granted man free will. The inability to choose in the manner of one's nature (my nature is both good and evil) removes free will

* Of course there is evidence of life after death--once we establish the resurrection of Jesus as reasonable fact via inductive and deductive reasoning we're set

I'm told atheists on forums like TTA are bitter and angry. If you are not, your posts to me will be respectful, insightful and thoughtful. Prove me wrong by your adherence to decent behavior.
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21-07-2015, 08:03 AM
RE: problem of evil and suffering
(21-07-2015 07:36 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  All,

Everything you say regarding God as the primary cause of suffering goes against these facts:

* Man is fallen and can behave in a degenerate manner, doing things other animals simply won't do or can't even conceive to do

* God granted man free will. The inability to choose in the manner of one's nature (my nature is both good and evil) removes free will

* Of course there is evidence of life after death--once we establish the resurrection of Jesus as reasonable fact via inductive and deductive reasoning we're set

What is fallen about mankind if man was given one free will choice to not break? Did Adam have free will if the tree of knowledge was never planted there?

If Jesus is God, how does that apply to humanity as evidence of free will? I'd like evidence of normal not god men having life after death to believe in it. Non comparable situations are poor uses of evidence.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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21-07-2015, 08:14 AM
RE: problem of evil and suffering
(21-07-2015 07:36 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  All,

Everything you say regarding God as the primary cause of suffering goes against these facts:

* Man is fallen and can behave in a degenerate manner, doing things other animals simply won't do or can't even conceive to do

* God granted man free will. The inability to choose in the manner of one's nature (my nature is both good and evil) removes free will

* Of course there is evidence of life after death--once we establish the resurrection of Jesus as reasonable fact via inductive and deductive reasoning we're set

None of those are facts - they are your unsupported assertions.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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21-07-2015, 08:26 AM
RE: problem of evil and suffering
If someone thinks man is doing things other animals don't do or think to do, they have clearly never read Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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