Saturday, December 02, 2006

Discussion With Atheists on Hell, the Argument From Desire, & God's Justice & Ours (vs. "DagoodS" and Others)

The image “http://www.vendornation.com/arenavp/GloryofGod_042804_.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Glory of God, by Yeohann.

This exchange took place on the Debunking Christianity blog, underneath a post by John W. Loftus, called No More Funerals! "DagoodS" words will be in blue.

* * * * *

She still exists. Hopefully, she went to the right place. I don't know if she did or not. God is merciful and gracious. That would depend on her entire life's response to the divine grace given to her, not on a momentary decision.

You would have tended toward the latter in your former theology, but most non-Protestant Christians take a little more of a nuanced view.

[Bruce wrote]:

For the husband's sake, I sure hope she "went to the right place". Must be torture to believe that your dead wife could be burning in Hell. Why would anyone want to be part of a religion that tortures both the dead and living?

Makes a lot of sense: hell is a yucky, icky, dreadful place, so to avoid the yuckiness and ickiness one simply denies that it exists and accuses the Christian of being cruel to folks by suggesting that it may.

Meanwhile, there is no ultimate justice in the atheist world. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Jack the Ripper end up in the same place (nowhere) that John Loftus and DagoodS end up.

Sorry; I find that view of reality far more disturbing (apart from the question of which view is true) than the Christian notion of hell, where someone only goes there if they choose to reject God and suffer the consequences.

The atheist "consequences" (i.e., of the entire worldview) makes life far more troubling and ultimately meaningless than the doctrine of hellfire, much as you guys will protest that till you're blue in the face.

No one has to go to hell, in the Christian view, rightly-understood. But we all have to cease existing and only have a 70-year or so dinky, miniscule lifespan in the atheist view. And then those of you who favor abortion would disallow even that for those who must die by those atrocious ethics. They get obliterated out of existence before they have even drawn one breath in this world.

And you want to wax indignant about hell?

We all would like people who truly deserve it to get what is coming to them, but wanting it to be so doesn't make it true.

Nor does wanting hell to be untrue make it untrue.

Are your religious beliefs based on what you believe to be true or what you want to be true?

The former; however the latter is not to be immediately dismissed. The presence of thirst doesn't disprove that there is water; sexual drives don't prove there is no such thing as sex, etc. Likewise, a desire for God or for heaven is more likely to prove that there is a God and a heaven, in my mind, than that no God or heaven exist. The fact that we all seem to have this interior, gut-level sense of right and wrong and desire for justice suggests to me that there is absolute justice in the universe, grounded in God. When I ponder a universe without God I truly wonder why it would be that this godless universe contains human beings on earth: some 90-95% of whom are religious, and virtually 100% feel that the universe has meaning and that certain things are right and wrong even though there is no basis upon which we are all bound to carry out this morality, unless there is a God.

You chastise John for making this funeral a "matter of polemics" but you have no problem using it to push a pro-life agenda?

I didn't "use" the funeral for anything. John chose to write about it; that being the case, folks can make comments. Didn't you see how I wrote that it is inappropriate to make a funeral an evangelistic service [see my comment]? My point about abortion was just to show how wildly unjust some aspects of the atheist worldview are: depriving human beings of the only life they could ever have. Abortion is self-evidently wrong as it is, but adding the atheist element of no afterlife, either, makes it all the more outrageous.

[John W. Loftus chimed in (tolerant and respectful of the views of others, as usual) ]:

You seem so confident, just like I once was. You defend the notion of hell. That's utterly ridiculous from my perspective. If you were not so blinded by your faith you would see it as I do. . . . a trinitarian three separate consciousness Being is nonsensical, . . . Defend this all you want to, but you are deluded. [emphases added]

[Paul wrote]:

ME: "Hell is a yucky, icky, dreadful place . . ."

I've got to say, this is a new one for me. "Yucky?" "Icky?" Cooked spinach may be yucky, icky. But hell? Whatever happened to "wailing and gnashing of teeth?" Burning torture without end?

Nothing that I am aware of. I would say that this is covered pretty well by the word dreadful. The rest was obviously rhetorical and semi-sarcastic understatement, subtly aimed at atheists who are always going on and on against hell, as if it were an indictment against God (which it is not at all). But as it involved some subtlety and my characteristically dry wit, I'm not surprised that some would misunderstand it.

Yes indeed Dave, it is cruel for the christian (and would be for god if it existed) to use hell as a threat.

As I agree. I don't talk about hell as a threat, but as a potential reality for those who choose to rebel against God. If it is a threat at all, it is in the sense that cancer is a "threat" to those who insist on smoking, or venereal disease is a "threat" for those who insist on promiscuity and sexual immorality. The rational person doesn't blame the laws of nature for those bad things coming about, but rather, the person (who should have known better, based on our knowledge of causation for these horrors) who did the things that were the cause of them coming about.

When a criminal rebels against the laws of a society and is caught, convicted, and imprisoned for life (or executed, to make the analogy fit even better), we don't say that the "cause" of his imprisonment or execution was the laws of the state that he violated, and rail against the very notion of law as the horrible, unjust cause of this guy's suffering! He brought about his own demise by going astray. Likewise, with human beings, God, and hell.

The penalty for very serious crime in a civil sense is life imprisonment or execution. That's just how it is. Law itself is not to be blamed.

The penalty for very serious sin and rebellion against God in spiritual reality is eternal torment in hell. That's just how it is. God (the ground of moral law) is not to be blamed for that.

[DagoodS]:
Likewise, a desire for God or for heaven is more likely to prove that there is a God and a heaven, in my mind, than that no God or heaven exist.
Actually, this is exactly backwards. "Desire" is an outstanding motivator, but a horrible proof. If we desire something, this places us on notice that we have a bias, and should be more careful to remove that bias when attempting to ascertain the truth, not less because it is "more likely."

Well, technically (epistemologically), the word suggest would have been a better choice here than prove. But I still say that the desire is more likely to correspond to the things that are desired actually existing, rather than non-existent. This was the point of the analogies that followed. It was not so much hard philosophical "proof" in mind as it was common sense and experience of our desires and whether or not they are able to be fulfilled. Peter Kreeft makes a long elaborate "argument from desire," drawing from and expanding upon C.S. Lewis. I think it is a rather neglected argument in the Christian "arsenal."

In high school, I may have desired the head cheerleader to want to date me, but the fact she glanced my way in class is not proof of my desire. Simply because we desire something to be true, does not make it true.

I didn't say that it did (I fully agree; that would be most foolish indeed). Don't take this criticism too far. I said that the desire, in my opinion, made it probably more likely that the desired end exists, than that it does not. This is obvious from life. So in your analogy above, you desired to have a date with the cheerleader. This proves that it is possible that such a thing as a date with the cheerleader exists. It may be unlikely, but it is untrue that the desire proves or suggests that the thing is absolutely unattainable or nonexistent. more so than the contrary (as you atheists would make out with regard to the theist longing for God and heaven).

We have no evidence of life after death. None. NDE's don't even come close.

Nor do we have any compelling evidence for the cause of the Big Bang. There are lots of things that don't have evidence; e.g., extraterrestrial life. But then again, you assume from the outset the unreasonable assumption that scientific knowledge is the only sort that gives us reliable information. You would deny the miraculous and revelation: precisely the things that we Christians would bring forth as evidence for life after death.

Therefore a "desire" for it is not a proof, but rather a warning we have painted a wish and now look for "proof" with anything that sticks.

It is a strong indication of existence, precisely on the analogical basis that I have described; particularly because the desire is so widespread, and even had many many defenders in the philosophical world, through the centuries.

I have said it before, I will say it again. The idea of this is NOT to pick the team with the snazziest uniforms and stick with them regardless of the score.

Sure; not exactly clear what this means . . .

Hey, the concept of a place where we will be with people we love and can socialize for all eternity, where wrongs will be avenged, and good acts rewarded is a great idea. So is a perpetual motion machine. Doesn't make either true.

I didn't say it did. You misrepresent my argument if you think I was claiming that the mere desire for something is proof that it exists. I did use a word that should have been softened, but my use of "likely" shows what I had in mind. Context (as almost always) shows that I was not arguing as foolishly as you make out. And now my clarification makes it even more clear. This is one reason why I love dialogue.
The fact that we all seem to have this interior, gut-level sense of right and wrong and desire for justice suggests to me that there is absolute justice in the universe, grounded in God.
Interesting statement. Yet when we want to talk about the Christians claims regarding their God, and how it clashes with our "gut-level sense of right and wrong" we are often (if not always) informed that God's Justice is not like Our Justice.

I wouldn't argue in that way. That is more of a Calvinist approach. The Catholic and Orthodox and non-Calvinist Christian argument is that God builds upon nature. If we (human beings) feel a certain sense of morality naturally, God builds upon that and presents His fuller revelation to us, that expands upon what we already know.

C.S. Lewis argued somewhere that the almost universal agreement on many basic moral precepts doesn't show that Christianity is false because these things are ingrained with the necessary aid of religion (Christian or otherwise), but the opposite: they are ingrained because God put the moral sense in human beings in the first place. The prevalence of a single broad morality is not inconsistent with the notion of one divine source for that morality, just as, e.g., if one follows the history of language, one sees that languages tend to come from a common background (French, English, and Spanish, all derive from Latin). If there were no God and everyone was truly on their own, it seems to me quite reasonable to suppose that we would see a great deal more basic diversity on morality than we do.

So which is it - is our sense of Justice in line with God's or not?

I say it is. But it is also likely, granting this, that some things about God or what He does will be difficult for us to understand. We derive from Him; we're made in His image, but we are finite and created and don't know a millionth of what He knows. So for us to find certain things difficult (stuff like you're about to bring up now!) is totally to be expected.

See, my sense of justice would say that an authority, simply to demonstrate loyalty to the authority, requiring its subject to kill its own child would be an injustice. Yet your God does not. (Abraham and Isaac.)

But He didn't require Abraham to kill his son (as we see at the end of the story). It was a test of faith. How far would Abraham's faith go? Would he do that thing which is incomprehensible to him. Kierkegaard writes an entire marvelous book about this (Fear and Trembling), and I have my own paper: Dialogue on the Ethical Implications of the Story of Abraham and Isaac. On the other hand, even nations sometimes require able-bodied persons to fight in wars that will get some of them killed. People die for their country. So do you argue, also, that this is inherently unjuist for a country to demand of a mother the possible life of her child? It becomes a reductio ad absurdum. You would have to be a pacifist.

The professions of firefighter or policeman involve a given risk of death. People are willing to give their life for someone else. De we say that "society" is unreasonable in having things like firefighters, because potential sacrifice is involved? Yet you would blame God in this instance. You're inconsistent. God is the one who does have power over life and death, so even if He did demand someone's life, there would be no grounds that this was unjust, because He gave the life in the first place, as the Creator. And there is eternal life.

What is truly unjust, as I keep saying to atheists, is abortion, given your presuppositions. You take away the life that is all that this preborn child has, or will ever have. This is the true human sacrifice, going on every day!; not Abraham and Isaac, which wasn't even a sacrifice, but a profound test. Abortion is the sacrament of atheism and radical feminism. That's what your vision of "life"(and the supposed "happy life") leads to: death and destruction. But Christian death may come about because God the Creator wills it, and He has every prerogative to do so; and then there is an eternal life, so that the life of that person isn't truly over, anyway; it just becomes different and better (presuming salvation).

I would think that holding the value of silver and Gold over the life of a two day old boy is unjust. Yet your God does not. Numbers 31:26-28. I would think that enforcing a genocide for the actions of one's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents would be unjust. Yet your God does not. (Amalekites)

Christians have explained this stuff a million times, and tha atheist will never understand it. Because God is Creator He also has the prerogative to judge. This is analogous to our experience. Society takes it upon itself to judge the criminal and punish him if he supercedes the "just" laws that govern the society, in order to prevent chaos and suffering. If that is true of human society (one man to another), it is all the more of God, because He is ontologically above us (Creator and created).

So it is perfectly sensible and moral to posit (apart from the data of revelation) a notion of God judging both individuals and nations. God's omniscience is such that He can determine if an entire nation has gone bad ("beyond repair," so to speak) and should be punished. And He did so. Now, even in a wicked nation there may be individuals who are exceptions to the rule. So some innocent people will be killed. But this is like our human experience as well. In wartime, we go to war against an entire nation. In so doing, even if it is unintentional, some innocent non-combatants will be killed.

But it's also different in God's case because He judged nations in part in order to prevent their idolatry and other sins to infiltrate Jewish (i.e., true) religion. He also judged Israel at various times (lest He be accused of being unfair). In any event, it is not true that nations or individuals were punished because of what "
great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents" did.
Nice try at more of patented atheist caricature and 50-story straw men. There is a sense of corporate punishment, just described, and it is also true that the entire human race is a fallen race. We all deserve punishment for that fact alone, and God would be perfectly just to wipe us all out the next second. No one could hold it against Him.

He decides to be merciful and grant us grace to do better, but He is under no obligation to do so, anymore than the governor is obliged to pardon convicted criminals. Again, the societal analogy is perfectly apt. If someone rebels at every turn against every societal norm and law and appropriate behavior and so forth, is society to be blamed? Say someone grows up thinking that serial rape is fine and dandy and shouldn't be prevented at all. So he goes and does this. Eventually, the legal system catches up with him and he gets his punishment. He rebelled against what most people think is wrong, and more than deserved his punishment.

We don't say that there should be no punishment. We don't blame society for his suffering in prison. We don't deny that society has a right to judge such persons. So if mere human beings can judge each other, why cannot God judge His creation, and (particularly) those of His creation that have rebelled against Him at every turn? What is so incomprehensible about that? One may not believe it, but there is no radical incoherence or inconsistency or monstrous injustice or immorality in this Christian (and Jewish) viewpoint (which is what is always claimed by the critics).

My sense of justice would be to hold each person accountable for knowledge based upon persuasive evidence. Your God does not.

That is how the ultimate judgment works; absolutely. Each man will give his own account (Rom 14:10; 1 Cor 3:13; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 22:12). So again, God's way is analogous to our own (and your own). Hence, Scripture teaches:

But every one shall die for his own sin; . . .

(Jer 31:30; RSV)

Our father. . . died for his own sin . . .

(Num 27:3)

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

(Deut 24:16; cited in 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chron 25:4)
Now obviously, the Christian and the Jew holds that Mosaic Law came from God to Moses, and thus represented how God viewed morality. And this principle was within it. So it is incorrect to say that God is judging someone for someone else's sins. It's a distortion of what the Bible teaches. This true teaching is made even more explicit in the entire chapter Ezekiel 18:
1: The word of the LORD came to me again:
2: "What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'?
3: As I live, says the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.
4: Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins shall die.
5: "If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right -
6: if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor's wife or approach a woman in her time of impurity,
7: does not oppress any one, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment,
8: does not lend at interest or take any increase, withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between man and man,
9: walks in my statutes, and is careful to observe my ordinances - he is righteous, he shall surely live, says the Lord GOD.
10: "If he begets a son who is a robber, a shedder of blood,
11: who does none of these duties, but eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor's wife,
12: oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination,
13: lends at interest, and takes increase; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominable things; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.
14: "But if this man begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and fears, and does not do likewise,
15: who does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor's wife,
16: does not wrong any one, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment,
17: withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or increase, observes my ordinances, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father's iniquity; he shall surely live.
18: As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.
19: "Yet you say, 'Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?' When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live.
20: The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
21: "But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
22: None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live.
23: Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
24: But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die.
25: "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?
26: When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die for it; for the iniquity which he has committed he shall die.
27: Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is lawful and right, he shall save his life.
28: Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
29: Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?
30: "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.
31: Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?
32: For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."
This is how God thinks. This is how He has revealed Himself (or in your skeptical atheist terms, how Jews, and Christians after them, have conceived of their God-that-doesn't exist). Either case, your characterization of God (and/or how He is conceptualized) is false.
I read the Bible and come away with statements that appear to be completely contrary to my gut-level sense of justice.

That's because you have not understood the above elements. youy've been fed a bill o goods by those who distoert the Bible and reason badly and illogically.

What is the punishment for adultery? My intuition doesn't seem to find that raping the perpetrator's wife as very just. Yet your God does. 2 Sam. 12:14

You just keep coming up with them, don't you? The atheist's garden-variety playbook of verses that supposedly prove how rotten God is.

Apparently you got this verse wrong. Did you mean 12:11? The principle here is the same that I have argued with you at length about God's allowing evil in His providence being described as if He caused it (see 12:11). But God could decide to judge, and He can even decide to use sinful agents to do so. They have free will. They are acting freely. But God can incorporate that into His providence in order to judge the sinner. This is what happened to David. His son Absalom freely rebelled against his father, of his own will. So he was judged on his own (by God and by David's soldiers). But this was foretold (not foreordained) by God as a punishment for David's sin.

We can see this on a purely natural, human level, too. Say we raise a child to not repsct elder people, or to believe in euthanasia, under false pretenses and even worse ethical reasoning. Then the time comes when we are old and sick, and our own child actively tries to knock us off, and cares little for us. Like Harry Chapin sang in Cats in the Cradle, "my boy was just like me." No doubt there was a lot of this in David. Something helped cause the son to go astray. He was still responsible for his own sin, but there can be precipitating causes from secondary parties or agents.

Or the punishment for murder. Apparently if God favors you, there is none. 2 Sam. 12:13

Yes; God can pardon whomever He will, just as the governor of a state can. Is this unfair? One can try to argue that, I suppose. But there it is. In God's case, we are His creatures, and we are all part of the rebellion against Him, in the sense of original sin. He offers a way out of that, but some can spurn it. David sinned and repented sincerely, from the heart. God knew his heart. And God decided to spare him, because of his importance as king and bearer of the covenant.

Or it may be that one of the murder's relatives will become sick. (Not the murderer themselves, of course) 2 Sam. 3:29.

I went through that already, above. All these things are complex, and long discussions in and of themselves. You can keep firing out error, but it takes ten, twenty times longer to effectively answer all this falsehood. That's why atheists (much like Jehovah's Witnesses) love the "rapid-fire, throw out 50 things at once "routine. They know full well how much necessary work it takes to answer this stuff. Most people don't have that amount of time or energy (not to mention, knowledge). I've been writing for hours. So they don't do it, and then the atheist can smugly claim, "see, there are no answers or else they would be provided! That proves how irrational and silly Christianity is!" Well, in this case, I think I have provided solid answers. Chances are, you won't be dissuaded in the slightest, but other people who may be fooled by your arguments can be prevented from adopting them. I am writing mainly for them, and for Christians, so that they can be confident that these shots against the Bible and God are groundless.

But, alas poor David will not make it to heaven, either. Rev. 21:8

Is that so? Now here is a prime example - absolutely classic - of muddle-headed atheist "exegesis." Clearly the verse means that unrepentant sinners will not make it in. But David repented of his serious sin. We've already seen above that God will grant mercy to all who do so:
But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

(Exekiel 18:21)
What of the punishment for blaspheme of God?

The word is blasphemy.

I would think this pretty serious, eh? Apparently the appropriate punishment is kill a baby. 2 Sam. 12:15.

First of all, David's sins were not blasphemy (I don't know where you're getting that). They were adultery and murder. The verse is wrong again, too. It is 12:14. Again, it is pre-philosophical language regarding God's providence. Things were allowed to happen (including tragic events) that could be seen as a judgment on persons related to them. But it doesn't prove that God necessarily caused them (swe see thatvvery clearly in the boiok of Job, where God allowed Satan to do his deeds, and do a number on Job). This was all dealt with in our previous disussion on Pharaoh, with many biblical examples provided. You didn't get it, then, and I suspect that you won't this time, either.

(Don't forget, though that blaspheme of the Holy Spirit is completely unforgivable! The worst punishment of all.)

Indeed, but that is not what we're dealing with here. It means no longer believing in God at all or calling evil good. As long as someone refuses to believe in God, and knows that He exists, He cannot be forgiven or saved. This is why you and your fellow atheists need to seriously think about that which you espouse. You could very well end up in a place you don't want to be in. And God could say then, "why didn't you listen to people like Dave when he shared the truth about Me with you, and you didn't want to hear about it? That was My way of trying to reach you, but you refused and would have none of it. So I had to leave you to your fate, because I won't force anyone to believe in Me or serve Me. I want sons and daughters, not slaves."

In light of blaspheme of God being equated to one death, my sense of Justice would think that taking a census, if a sin at all, would be far less. But no. According to your God's sense of Justice, taking a census is worthy of a punishment of 100,000 to 200,000 deaths! 2 Sam. 24:15.

That's absurd. I dealt with all that business in another paper, as you know.

Wow! David's taking a census seems like a pretty big sin. Even within OUR justice system, it would be the equivalent of killing 100,000 people.

Ditto.

So what's the number, Dave Armstrong?

One. One person rebelling against God and spurning His free gift of salvific grace is enough for them to end up in hell by their own choice.

You indicate the concern about dispensing justice to a Hitler or a Stalin. That such persons deserve Hell. So what is the number of murders at which point Heaven becomes barred? Is it one? Is it 100,000? Is it 10 Million?

Hitler could have theoretically repented, just as, e.g., abortionist Bernard Nathanson did, after 10,000 or so (some horrendous number) murder-abortions. But it is exceedingly unlikely, because the more one sins, the more one becomes hardened in sin and against God and His grace.

See, each person's intuition changes. If you talk to a universalist, 10 Million is not enough. Others may say one is too many. Most others would figure some number between one and 100 is too many, although what, precisely would be uncertain.

According to Rev 21:8, one murder is one too many.

If unrepented of, certainly. That's the whole point.

And the verse indicates that anyone that lies gets the toss into hell as well.

No. It is amazing how ignorant you (an otherwise intelligent man) can be about verses like this. This is so ridiculous that I suspect maybe you are just playing a game. It's tough to believe that you are this much out to sea. Clearly it is referring to those who persist in these sins and whose lives are characterized by various sins. Othewrwise, why have forgiveness of individual sins at all? Are you denying that God forgives anyone of their particular sins?

Have you lied, Dave Armstrong? Is there a human that has not? This sure doesn't seem very just to me!

You're right. But since it is a gross, stupid caricature of the biblical system of morality, grace, and forgiveness, it is not my problem. Your ignorance of biblical theology is your own problem to rectify. I suppose you can't even properly believe in Christianity if you wrongly think it is this goofy, irrational, arbitrary system. That's why there remains hope for you. The more you learn and are disabused of your errors, then you can see what Christianity really is, and accept it and come back to following God.

Further, if we all have an interior sense of justice, and create a god, what surprise is it that we claim it, too, has a sense of justice? "If a fish could make a god, it would look like a fish" is not just talking about scales and fins, you know.

I haven't seen anything that is so foreign to my sense of justice that I would feel duty-bound to reject it, and God with it. I have tried my best to show that all these instances have reasonable explanations and have a strong analogy to many other things in life that you and I both equally accept. God's justice is, after all, like our own, which derives from His in the first place.

Thanks for the great discussion! Sometimes it gets very frustrating, but overall I enjoy my interactions with you.

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