Then Ecualegacy followed this declaration with the following accusation:
The short answer to this question is, "We did!" (and Satan too).
I believe you're taking "God's will is always done" to a literal absurdity.
This isn’t Aaron’s fault; the very idea of a god is itself already a literal absurdity. Aaron is simply trying to interact with someone who has committed his life to believing a literal absurdity.
That is an opinion. And coming from such a finite being, a very weakly positioned one indeed. I'd ask for specifics, but I know where to look on atheist websites and what they argue.
Unfortunately, Ecualegacy’s dismissal works against his position just as effectively as it works against mine. He has offered his opinions. If position statements and affirmations are dismissible on the mere basis that they are opinions, then Ecualegacy’s opinions can be brushed aside just as easily as he brushes aside mine. Also, Ecualegacy himself is a finite being, just like me. He may pose as the spokesman for an allegedly infinite being, but this does not overcome the fact that he is just as finite as they come. And if being finite is supposed to indicate fallibility in some way, Ecualegacy is just as fallible as I am. He could be wrong about his claims about the existence of an infinite being. But he does not seem willing to acknowledge this fact.
The way I understand it, God wanted to create beings that could genuinely love him. This meant giving them a real choice to accept or reject him...to do good or to do wickedness.
To accomplish this, the god you speak of should have at minimum provided its sentient creatures a means by which they could distinguish “God” from imagination.
I believe that God accomplished this spectacularly with the Bible.
For instance, in the story of Jesus coming to one of Jerusalem’s gates (cf. Lk. 7:12f), we imagine what the story describes. We concoct in our minds an image of what he looked like, what he was wearing, who else was there, the time of day, the slope of the road he was traveling on, the packs on his donkey, his companions, the guards at the gate, the people attending the dead man being carried out of the city, etc., etc., etc. Our imagination gives life to the story as we read it and consider it in our minds. The same is the case when we read any story, whether fiction or non-fiction. When we read news stories, we use our imagination to picture what is described, and when we read Harry Potter stories, we do the same thing. Relying on a written source gives us no alternative but to carry what we read over into our imagination.
Ecualegacy has not answered my challenged. But he did continue:
I'm not saying you can "prove" the veracity of the Scripture like heliocentricity or men landing on the moon. But I do think you can narrow the options down to Christianity as the most likely choice. I've written elsewhere about this on my own blog at http://ravizacharias.blogspot.com/ so I won't repeat myself here. This post is already long enough.
In spite of tragic oversights of this nature, Ecualegacy still thinks that we "can narrow the options down to Christianity as the most likely choice." If he thinks Christianity is "the most likely choice," what alternatives has he considered? And if he thinks it's merely a matter of choice - such as "Well, I choose that Christianity is the true worldview" - then he has already long departed from the principle of objectivity.
He says that he has written about this on his blog, but at this time there are only two brief entries to his blog (dated April 11 and April 12, 2007), and neither of them speak to any issue under the present discussion. And yet he says in response to the issue that I raise that he will not bother repeating himself, apparently because he thinks he’s already dealt with it. Not that I can see.
I had written:
the way it is now, we field claims about “God” from other human beings, but we have no way of distinguishing what they call “God” from what they may merely be imagining.
You're just full of simply false arguments today. No way of distinguishing between real God and false god? Tell me I don't have to get neck deep in epistomology and cult detection with you to explain this.
But my overall point here should be clear. It may not be clear to Ecualegacy, but it’s clear to myself and probably to many of my readers. We learn about the Christian god from other human beings, not from the god itself. A collection of writings is not a supernatural person. Books are inanimate and non-conscious, and persons are animate and conscious. Men claim ancient texts were written by a deity, but their claiming this to be the case does not make it so. Everything I have ever learned about the Christian god has in one way or another been delivered to me by another human being or group of human beings. No deity has ever come and appeared before me. I can assure Ecualegacy and anyone else who believes Christianity’s claims, no deity has ever come to me and made its existence known to me personally. Chiding that I’m arrogant for expecting it to do this does not change this fact (indeed, I do not expect the non-existent to do anything). Moreover, my pointing out that no deity has done this does not make on arrogant, unless pointing out facts entails arrogance to begin with.
The bible itself, in Acts chapters 9 and 22 for instance, provides examples of this god personally revealing itself to a doubter and persecutor of believers. The way it is now, these are just stories that we read, very much on the par of a Harry Potter or other storybook.
Ecualegacy does what he did above: he focuses on a small detail in order to distract attention from a more compelling issue. In my statement above, I allude to the story of a man named by the New Testament as Saul of Tarsus. According to the story that we read in the book of Acts, Saul was a persecutor of the early Christian church. In Saul’s pursuit of Christians in Damascus, as the story goes, he was stopped by a visit of the very Jesus he was purportedly persecuting. According to Acts, the two dialogued, there were witnesses to the event, and the event was profoundly real enough to the character of the story that it turned him around 180 degrees in his thinking and he became one of history’s leading spokesmen for the Christian religion. Assuming this story is true (which is what Christians want us to do), this man Saul had a personal encounter with the Christian deity. Assuming this story is historically accurate, then, this man Saul had a firsthand basis upon which he could distinguish what he would come to call “Lord” from what he may have merely been imagining. Unfortunately, a story in a book does not accomplish this for its readers. On the contrary, it leaves its readers stranded in an invented realm of the imagination, giving no objective basis for credibility. Nothing Ecualegacy says even comes close to acknowledging this hindrance to belief, let alone settling the matter in favor of Christianity.
Speaking of absurdities! You're comparing apples with carrots here (or is it ducks with Hippogriffs?). Harry Potter and the Bible don't even belong in the same class of literature! JK Rowling, who we know is the author, doesn't claim her works to be Scripture inspired by God.
As Ecualegacy points out, we know who the author of Harry Potter books is. By contrast, we do not know who the authors of the gospel stories in the New Testament were. This is not my fault as a non-believer, but I am frequently vilified for pointing this fact out. Such reactions indicate that Christians seem to be on the wrong side of facts.
By making statements like this, Ecualegacy is posing as one who would seriously entertain a case against his god-belief if it met certain benchmarks, which of course he nowhere specifies. But since he’s already fully accepted his religion’s premises as truthful, this is merely a pose. To corroborate this, notice that he does not interact with the points of criticism that I have raised, and in fact has repeatedly attempted to divert attention away from them - either by shifting focus or by simply dismissing them as opinions from a finite being, etc.
You'll have to do better than this Dawson if you expect to be taken seriously as an accuser against the Living God.
If your god is the same god as the one written about in the book of Acts, and it wants us to believe it is real, it knows what to do.
I pointed to the biblical precedent, as given in Acts chapters 9 and 22, to support my point that, if the Christian god were real and truly wanted me to believe in it, it would know what to do. Jesus’ appearance to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus was enough to convince an active persecutor of the early church. How much more would a personal visit from an almighty deity to someone like me, turn me around from what believers want to characterize as “evil ways”?
Another fallacious argument.
But given Ecualegacy’s reaction (he calls my citation of Acts 9 and 22 a “fallacious argument,” even though he does not identify any fallacy which my citation allegedly commits), he apparently must think that his god does not know what to do. So we would have to infer from this roundabout admission that his god is not omniscient after all.
Again Ecualegacy shifts the issue in order to avoid dealing with the real issue. We were discussing belief, and when I point out that all Ecualegacy’s god would need to do to get someone like myself to believe it is real, would be to show itself, just as the New Testament book of Acts says happened to Saul of Tarsus. Instead of acknowledging that this would be an effective approach (according to the storybook, it was certainly effective in the case of Saul of Tarsus), he calls this a “fallacious argument” and now tells us that mere belief is not enough. There’s always going to be something more demanded of the initiate once he’s bitten the bait. Christian discipleship is always a game of “But wait, there’s more.” So of course, merely believing isn’t enough: Christianity wants the believer to surrender his will in full, like a payment he didn’t realize he was committing himself to make. But before this can happen, he must first believe, and that is the issue before us, the issue which Ecualegacy wants to move beyond before the ploy has been exposed. Or, does one first surrender his will, and then he will believe? Perhaps Ecualegacy would like to admit this, but lacks the courage to do so.
God does not merely want you to believe he is real. Ref to James 2:19 "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." The point is not intellectual belief in God as though he were a fact to read about in a book. The point is to have a relationship with him built on faith and love. Besides, having irrefutable proof of God does not evidentially produce a deeper love for God. Otherwise, we'd have expected that the Israelites would have had a better run.
Ecualegacy speaks of having “a relationship” with Jesus, one “built on faith and love.” But even before one can attempt to have an actual relationship with Jesus, it seems he would first have to at least believe that Jesus is actual and not merely imaginary. But if Ecualegacy’s god is imaginary, if Jesus is simply a mood, he is doing precisely what I would expect him to do: move around from issue to issue without settling any of them. The intention is to not let the discussion stop long enough for the opposing party to realize that our leg is being pulled.
What Ecualegacy needs to understand is that I have no desire to form a relationship with his Jesus. Why would I want a relationship with a god which requires its worshippers to be willing to kill their own children, just as it demanded of Abraham?
So the issue of belief needs to be explored before we can entertain the idea of willfully entering into a relationship with this invisible Jesus, and that is what I inquired on. The point that I was making to Ecualegacy above in fact has the benefit of biblical precedent, namely the story found in Acts of Jesus paying Saul a personal visit. To believe something is the case rationally, one must first have awareness of it in some manner which provides for distinguishing between reality and imagination. When I see a tree, for instance, I can imagine the tree pulling itself out of the ground and casting itself into the sea (sound familiar?). But when I look back at the tree again, I can see that it is not doing what I have imagined. It remains a tree right where it always was, completely unaffected by my imagination. I can distinguish reality from imagination by comparing what I perceive with what I imagine. Christianity denies the believer this ability when it comes to his god-beliefs.
So what Ecualegacy must be advocating, is a relationship with an imaginary friend. Even adults have been known to indulge in fantasy relationships with imaginary friends. In fact, the Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, is said to have a fantasy relationship with an imaginary friend. According to one source, Cho had
an imaginary girlfriend by the name of "Jelly," a supermodel who lived in outer space and who called Cho by the name "Spanky" and traveled by spaceship.Christians need to provide something better than their flimsy apologetic arguments to distinguish their Jesus from simply a more developed version of an imaginary friend.
by Dawson Bethrick