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September 08, 2008

Comments

Amy, I think this is one of your best posts to date. You exemplify the careful thinking STR advocates, and it's an honor to be your friend. Keep up the good work!

Genius! Well done, madam. :-)

Why wouldn't a moral command that one ought to pray to God answer his objection? Since an atheist cannot pray and be consistent, wouldn't this answer his objection?

I would like to know what follows from the objection. Suppose a theist said, "I can't think of one." What would follow from that?

The only purpose I can see in Hitchens' challenge is just to make his opponent look bad. Nobody in a debate wants to say, "I don't know," even if the topic is irrelevant.

Theist: God exists.

Atheist: No he doesn't.

Theist: Yes he does.

Atheist: Oh yeah? Well name me one vegetable that can fly!

Theist: Uh...I can't think of one.

Atheist: There! See!

Theist: God exists.

Atheist: No he doesn't.

Theist: Yes he does.

Atheist: Oh yeah? Well name me one vegetable that can fly!

Theist: Uh...I can't think of one.

The crazy thing is that when I see things like this on Yahoo Answers or message boards, I also see Christians get sucked into it. For some reason, they feel like they've got to answer the challenge, no matter how irrelevant it is. What point do THEY think is established by answering it?

Atheist: There! See!

Sorry about the double posts. Crazy laptop!

It's always the fault of the equipment and never the operator. :-)

Can't wait for the atheists to show up and take objection to worshiping God being considered a moral act. Most of them think worshiping God is an immoral act.

>The highest moral good a person can do is to worship the living, true, sovereign God--to love Him with all one's heart, soul, mind, and strength. Not only will no atheist ever do this, no atheist can do this.

>>If we finish what Jesus said in this context, that is to love our neighbor as our self, and elsewhere to love our enemies, it becomes obvious to all that we have a strength that only Christians have. That is to love unconditionally even our enemies, as our own selves, and God is glorified. Even though they can't see God, they can see this!

Amy,

Just letting you know that I discussed this on my blog from an atheist's perspective:

http://unreasonablefaith.com/2008/09/08/hitchens-challenge-solved/

@Trent: That's a good question, but It doesn't answer the objection because you have to first establish that prayer is a moral act. That gets pretty complicated. And even you probably don't think prayer is a moral act — it has to be prayer with a certain kind of attitude, to a certain kind of god.

Thanks for commenting, Daniel--I responded on your post.

> "Name one moral action performed
> by a believer that could not have
> been done by a nonbeliever."

Begs the question.

Are there truly any nonbelievers?
I grant that there are plenty of deniers, but I'm not so sure there are any actual non believers.

Has not God written His commands on our hearts? Does not Creation declare His Glory?

Everybody knows there is a God. Even if they deny it.

>> "Name one moral action performed by a believer that could not have been done by a nonbeliever."

If that’s really what he said, then that’s the most ridiculous “challenge” i’ve ever heard of. I don’t even understand what he’s going for or why you even bothered to answer it.

Here I’ll throw up a challenge that I like:

“Name a piece of evidence that Jesus is God, that you did not receive via paper.”

The only one I can think of is the Shroud of Turin.

Ideas?

Or another better challenge.

"Construct an argument against the ERV data for common ancestry."

www.youtube.com/watch?v=De-OkzTUDVA

ToNy,

Subjective experiences. Changed behaviors, attitudes, values. Answers to prayer.

Amy,

Has Hitchens responded to the answer that atheists cannot love with a reverential love a God whose existence they deny, though this love constitutes the highest moral duty?

Sage S,

sad

If I could be allowed to inject, perhaps in a little less highbrow manner. I'm pretty sure that when Hitchens posed this hypothetical, in context, it was understood to be something many who were determined to take a more 18th century approach to philosophic theology would immediately claim the love of God to be the "answer".

Secondly, for some very good reasons (and not necessarily ones directly from the new atheists handbook) this doesn't really work as an answer anyway, because you are making too many wild assumptions about what God (presumably Yahweh) would have you do in His name.

To some this is a "rhetorical trick", to others - who admittedly already understand many of Hitchens supporting arguments - it is the central tenet of rational thinking.

Hitchens literary ability to summarise how so many people feel about the need for rational thinking to spread around our world, shouldn't be belittled because you have no perspective on the context.

That would be like an atheist insisting that the people who carried out the Spanish inquisition, could not have had any knowledge of the sermon on the mount, were they so capable of acting in such a contrary way to it's central message. That would be wrong, simply because, they would not have acted in such a way had they not been as sure as you are of your "answer", that they too had interpreted what Jesus meant to say correctly.

Mr Gardner - Ironic you should choose to enter the fray under the guise of a less "highbrow manner" and then proceed to inform everyone how they missed the point that both Yahweh and Hitchens were making. You obviously must be sitting somewhere, on some informed plane where the likes of us could never go. Bravo for you.

All of my own readings of the Bible make it most uncomfortably clear where Yahweh is coming from when He speaks of what is a moral act and what is not. But I tend to find Yahweh to be utterly more coherent than Hitchens on such matters.

Well done Amy Hall - This type of discussion wakes me up in the morning so much better than any brew.

"

Sage S,

sad
"

ToNy,
what is sad about a life changed for the better? What is sad about a life that benefits both he who lives it and those around him? What is sad about a life guided by the truth?
I should think that a life of selfish and indulgent unaccountability that does not benefit either the one who lives it, nor those around him that is a slave to immorality without any hope of breaking its chains and misguided by a commitment to lies and subject to deceptions that result in dire consequences even in this life which is but a shadow of meaningless existence...is truly sad. It is more than sad, it is tragic.

Christ offers more than this.
John 10: 10, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly"

Louis,

No it's sad cuz the evidence is just so weak.

Subjective experiences
Changed behaviors
attitudes
values
Answers to prayer

These prove Jesus Christ was God?

Any self-help book on the market will produce these results in some people.

I would go along with the "answers to prayer" one if it could be more readily illustrated. I'd like to see some miracles.

But this video is probably the best evidence i've seen of that:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lvU-DislkI

Then again, these 2 are pretty good too:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBXXA5xhcQ0

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEuKgEjwi6A

>>“Name a piece of evidence that Jesus is God, that you did not receive via paper.”

The only one I can think of is the Shroud of Turin.>>

Tradition, witness of the early Church, the constancy of Christian teaching, the uniformity of Christian teaching with personal experience, miracles, and (not that you'll get this one) Being itself.


>>Subjective experiences
Changed behaviors
attitudes
values
Answers to prayer

These prove Jesus Christ was God?

Any self-help book on the market will produce these results in some people.>>

So? What does that demonstrate except that the Christian view of the human person is the most rational and backed up even by the best and most reputable psychological and biological studies? Christianity is not JUST about "self-help", it claims real facts about the universe. Read CS Lewis' essay "Man or Rabbit".


>>“Name a piece of evidence that Jesus is God, that you did not receive via paper.”>>


"But this involved accuracy of the thing makes it very difficult to do what I now have to do, to describe this accumulation of truth. It is very hard for a man to defend anything of which he is entirely convinced. It is comparatively easy when he is only partially convinced. He is partially convinced because he has found this or that proof of the thing, and he can expound it. But a man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds that something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it. And the more converging reasons he finds pointing to this conviction, the more bewildered he is if asked suddenly to sum them up. Thus, if one asked an ordinary intelligent man, on the spur of the moment, "Why do you prefer civilization to savagery?" he would look wildly round at object after object, and would only be able to answer vaguely, "Why, there is that bookcase . . . and the coals in the coal-scuttle . . . and pianos . . . and policemen." The whole case for civilization is that the case for it is complex. It has done so many things. But that very multiplicity of proof which ought to make reply overwhelming makes reply impossible. -GK Chesterton

>>If that’s really what he said, then that’s the most ridiculous “challenge” i’ve ever heard of. I don’t even understand what he’s going for or why you even bothered to answer it.

He's said he asks it in every debate, I heard him ask it in person, and he asks it in the clip I pointed to. His point (based on a misunderstanding of the real objection of grounding) is to show that atheists can do anything moral that believers can--God doesn't need to exist for this. But he's assuming what he's trying to prove and demanding something that can't be done. The question is invalid as unanswerable no matter how many real answers may exist, and so it manipulates the audience. That's why I respond.

>>would immediately claim the love of God to be the "answer".

Jim, I think you missed it. The answer is that the question is invalid because it is impossible for it to uncover any true answers that may exist--it's merely a stunt, plain and simple. Your response to one possible answer (worship) makes my point.

>>Has Hitchens responded to the answer

I'd have to look into that.

I immediately recognized this question as illogical, but the answer you gave, blows my mind.
God bless you

Pro Life:
I thought your answer was right on. That's exactly what I thought of when I read the "atheist challenge." When we love our enemies (Romans 13) and the agape love that we have for one another (1 John), by this the world will know and glorify our God.

Name one moral action that a non-believer can do that doesn't require him to borrow "morality" from a metaphysical worldview.

If Hitchens replies that morality is a social or evolutionary construct and doesn't need to be borrowed from metaphysics, then he's easily refuted, because I control the definition of "morality" in this little exercise, and his concept of it doesn't meet my specifications.

Ryan,

>> "It is very hard for a man to defend anything of which he is entirely convinced."

Uhmmm

no it's not

Amy,

>> His point ... is to show that atheists can do anything moral that believers can...

I just don't understand why that would even be an issue.

oh well, lotta dumb atheists out there

Ryan,

>> Christianity is not JUST about "self-help", it claims real facts about the universe. Read CS Lewis' essay "Man or Rabbit".

It would be good evidence if, for example, the bible contained the periodic table of elements in the appendix.

But i don't see "facts about the universe" of that sort in it.

How is worshipping a god moral? I don't get it. It may be a requirement within the dogma of Christianity/Judaism, due to Yahweh being (as he admitted) a jealous god. Satisfying his neediness and appeasing his jealousy isn't moral, it's giving in.

Christians can't take the moral high ground when the bible is immoral, full of commandments such as murdering rebellious children, Jesus turning a blind eye to slavery et cetera. Morals are cultural, subjective, dependent on situation (better to shoot one person to save 10?) and therefore cannot be absolute.

Hi barelyEvolved,

Thanks for the post. Your first paragraph perfectly illustrates Amy's point (in her original post), so I'll leave it at that.

In your second paragraph, you claim "the bible is immoral" and then go on to list offenses (which can be answered, but I'll leave that for another time). However, in the next sentence you claim morals are "cultural (and) subjective" (by the way, theists understand that the morality of a situation depends upon the circumstances, though this is *not* moral relativism).

So which is it? If morals are "cultural and subjective" then how can you claim "the bible is immoral"?

>>>> "It is very hard for a man to defend anything of which he is entirely convinced."
Uhmmm
no it's not>>

I know Chesterton can be tough to read sometimes, so let me explain it for you...the point is that the evidence for a first and self-evident principle like God's existence is so overwhelmingly overwhelming that it is difficult to point to a single thing and say, "that there, see?" The new atheists like to back theists into a corner and say things like Hitchins question that began this thread and then point out the theist's seeming inability to point to one thing. My reason for God? Everything. And yes, with that response you either get it or you don't.

>>It would be good evidence if, for example, the bible contained the periodic table of elements in the appendix. But i don't see "facts about the universe" of that sort in it.>>

"God exists". That is a truth claim. Jesus Christ is the incarnate God of Abraham. That is a truth claim. You clearly have not read Lewis' essay or you would have understood my post. Read it and then comment on what I mean by "facts about the universe".

Hi Paul, good point - how can we claim anything is immoral? We can, but only by our current moral standards.

Quite clearly Yahweh of the Old Testament operated on very (by today's standards) morally questionable grounds - if the accounts in the OT are trusted in any way. Jesus came along, and whether he was son of god or not, he had much better ideas about morality than his dad/him/whatever.

I'm interested to know why circumstances mean it's not moral relativism - if you have to kill one innocent to save 10, you have committed a sin by murder. Is one sin scrubbed out to make up for a good deed? Then there are no absolutes. There will always be moral paradoxes.

"Then there are no absolutes. There will always be moral paradoxes."

That sure sounds like an absolute to me.

Hi barelyEvolved,

Your first question is a good one. The answer is that nothing can be called "immoral" (using the commonly understood meaning of the term) apart from a supreme moral-giver. Otherwise, it's just one person's opinion. In Hitler's opinion, it wasn't wrong to kill millions of people. Was he wrong? Under your assertions, I don't see how you can say that Hitler was "wrong", just that you don't agree with his conclusions on morality.

Though you try to cling to moral relativism, your second paragraph still hints at some objective standard of moral perfection when you claim that "(Jesus) had much better ideas about morality". As a side-note, the discussion about God's morality is a bit off-topic and would take more room than we have here, but suffice to say I don't accept your premise that "God operated on morally questionable grounds."

Circumstances *always* dictate the morality or immorality of an act. If I stab you in the throat, is that immoral? Not if I'm a doctor performing an operation to help you breathe. Moral relativism (in short) is when for a given set of circumstances, the morality of the act changes based on who is performing the act (person A is acting morally when they do X under Y circumstances, but B is acting immorally when they do X under Y circumstances).

What you described ("kill one to save 10") is a "moral dilemma" (not really a paradox) -- neither option is preferable (one dies or 10 die), but one is less undesirable than the other. There can be differing opinions on certain moral dilemmas, but most questions of morality do not really fall into this category (unless you want to cast everything as a moral dilemma, as in "endanger lives by running that red light vs. getting to work late", but that seems to be a stretch).

"Hi Paul, good point - how can we claim anything is immoral? We can, but only by our current moral standards."

Hmmm...is murder being considered wrong only a social convention or is it wrong in itself apart from society? Only your conscience and God can tell. Well, not really...


"Quite clearly Yahweh of the Old Testament operated on very (by today's standards) morally questionable grounds "

Is it right to make a judgment of something in ancient past by today's standards? There could have been conditions that existed at that time that the means by which Yahweh operated then were perfectly morally justifiable.

"- if the accounts in the OT are trusted in any way. Jesus came along, and whether he was son of god or not, he had much better ideas about morality than his dad/him/whatever."

By his own testimony, Jesus held to the very same morality. He clearly stated that he did not come to abolish the law.

"I'm interested to know why circumstances mean it's not moral relativism - if you have to kill one innocent to save 10, you have committed a sin by murder."

Motive determines murder. Even Columbo knew that. If your motive is to save 10 people and you are in a position of having to chose between 10 or 1, your motive is to save the greatest number of people and therefore choosing the greater good. You did not murder the one, you saved the ten. If you were responsible for willfully placing those 11 people in harms way, then you could be held responsible. Otherwise it was the specifics of the situation that were responsible for the death of the single individual, not you.
Put simply, you save 10 people, you do not murder the 1.

" Is one sin scrubbed out to make up for a good deed?"

There is no sin. It is quite clear in the teaching of Jesus that sin comes from the intentions of the heart. It is not actions themselves that are sinful, but the motivations of the heart that drive the person to those actions. That is why He said that he who hates has committed murder in his heart already and he who lusts after a woman has committed adultery in his heart. These are the things that come out of the heart of man and defile him.

" Then there are no absolutes. There will always be moral paradoxes.
"

Apparent paradoxes, not actual. It is the usual confusion between epistemology and ontology.

Paul, your supreme moral giver - how does he (god or whoever) decide on what is right or wrong? Are morals absolute only by decree, or is there a reasoning behind it? If there is reasoning behind it, then there does not need to be divine authority if law and morality here on earth can reason too.

When I say that Yahweh is immoral, by today's standards, it is because we actively legislate against the laws set out to Moses. We do not kill homosexuals, rebellious children, adulterers, rapists, Sunday workers, those who worship false idols. We do not force marriage of rapists to their victims. We do not condone slavery, let alone set a price. We do not condone rape of conquered virgins or the murder of male children and non-virgin women. We place equal rights to women instead of oppression. Sacrifice of pigeons or turtle doves for sin would be considered animal cruelty.

God's words in the OT demand all of these in explicit terms. Do your interpretational gymnastics all you want around those words, but they are there and they are what people have believed for thousands of years to be the true word of god.

I agree that not everything is a moral dilemma (yes, paradox is wrong within that context, but correct if morals were absolute - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox#Moral_paradox). I gave it as an example of whether morals are/can be absolute. Personally, I think moral relativism holds, and that the Bible was written by humans, with the morals of their times - not the word of god or misinterpretations (although many will be).

Hi Louis Kuhelj, thanks for your comments. I agree that I am judging Yahweh by the standards of our time, and that is exactly my point. Why would, for instance, killing homosexuals be right for god and society then but not now? He set down the law, and as Paul says, Jesus did not overturn those laws. In other places the Bible says god's word is forever. It just doesn't make sense for a deity to change his moral stance to suit the moral environment of the time. He was setting the moral environment surely? The killing of first-born sons is a greatly-debated example of Yahweh's immoral acts. Is it like killing some innocents to save others from mere slavery? Then it is favouritism, and a non-condoning of slavery of one people over another. It's an eye for a tooth.

On another point, if sin is only committed by the heart, then to use Paul's example, someone like Hitler can kill without sin if they believe they are right. That is a bit scary...

Hi barelyEvolved,

If these posts start to get too long, we can take the discussion "off-line" (if you prefer).

You wrote:
"Paul, your supreme moral giver - how does he (god or whoever) decide on what is right or wrong? Are morals absolute only by decree, or is there a reasoning behind it?"

A "supreme moral-giver", by definition, makes decrees, and probably has "reasoning" behind said decrees, though that reasoning my not be fully obvious or understandable by finite beings.

"If there is reasoning behind it, then there does not need to be divine authority if law and morality here on earth can reason too."

I don't think this follows. Reason alone cannot produce morality. Please give me a rational argument why we shouldn't rape. From a strictly pragmatic standpoint, it seems that we *should* rape so that the species will reproduce at a higher rate. Any rational argument you posit will at some point be built upon a moral law or intuition that comes from outside "reason" itself.

"When I say that Yahweh is immoral, by today's standards..."

By your own argument, morality is culturally based, so why are you even making the comparison? That is, unless you still don't *really* practice/believe moral relativism...

"... it is because we actively legislate against the laws . God's words in the OT demand all of these in explicit terms."

Two questions:
1) Why did God demand those things?
2) Does God need to give a reason for doing what he does? I know you're probably not a theist, but for the sake of argument, assume there is an all-powerful Creator who did something we find objectionable, and then answer the question. Isn't it possible that God has a more informed view on the management of the universe?

"Do your interpretational gymnastics all you want around those words..."

I'm curious why you would call intellectual, rational explanations of historical documents "interpretational gymnastics" -- is it because you have weighed the arguments fully and find them lacking, or because you have a predisposition to dismiss them out-of-hand?

Answer this for me: Surely Christians have noticed these things in the OT for hundreds of years, and yet have no problem following the God of the Bible -- do you think it's possible there is a good reason (other than blind, unquestioning allegiance)? Always be wary of "silver bullet" arguments (simple, less-than-50-word arguments that seemingly destroy complex ideas hundreds of years old with millions of credible believers), whether yours or someone else's.

"I gave it as an example of whether morals are/can be absolute."

Okay, I'll ask my question again: was Hitler wrong?

"Personally, I think moral relativism holds..."

Then I guess Hitler wasn't wrong, on your view. Neither was the God of the OT wrong for doing anything you objected to above, whether he had a reason for doing those things or not. Can you tell me how you come to the conclusion that moral relativism is true?

"... and that the Bible was written by humans, with the morals of their times - not the word of god or misinterpretations (although many will be)."

I don't fully understand this whole sentence, but the discussion of Biblical authorship is a bit off-topic. We can venture there if you like, but I think we have enough to discuss already.

Louis can probably handle this by himself, but I'll just add my two cents:

"Why would, for instance, killing homosexuals be right for god and society then but not now?"

God gave the command to kill breakers of certain moral laws because he was trying to create a people set apart. I fully recognize that such an answer probably doesn't mean much to a non-theist, and for that I apologize.

God has no responsibility to justify his actions, nor explain why he does what he does with his own creation. He is especially unrequired to give reasons why he punishes those who flagrantly and repeatedly defy his commands.

"It just doesn't make sense for a deity to change his moral stance to suit the moral environment of the time."

I'm glad you think so, because God didn't change anything. He gave certain commands to certain people-groups for certain reasons. He also gave general commands to all people. Even our own governments do this -- certain people (police) are given commands to stop lawbreakers by using lethal force (if necessary), while the rest of the population is restricted from exercising many of those commands, but are instead given a different set of commands.

I'm not sure I agree with Louis' statement that "sin is all about the heart" (though I think that's a little bit of an oversimplification of his post), but you seem to think that God is a moral idiot, that he wouldn't be able to discern between a cold-booded murderer and a person taking one life to save ten.

P.S. The "kill one to save 10" moral dilemma example is still much to vague to give a reasonable answer.

ToNy,

My evidences were not conclusive - merely examples off the cuff that adequately answer your challenge:

“Name a piece of evidence that Jesus is God, that you did not receive via paper.”

Others come to mind: archaeological evidence that corroborates the Bible. Or the complexity and order of nature (indirect evidence). Pangs of guilt and shame over wrongdoing. The distinctive moral character of a Christian friend. Plus, I heard the gospel itself from someone explaining to me who Jesus is and what His death accomplished - oral information. But the ultimate evidence that confronts everyone (yes, even ToNy) is the testimony of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Christ sent to save the world. This is the evidence that turns water into wine, that sheds light on the preponderance of concentric evidence placed incessantly in the path of wayward sinners such as you and me. And in the end, this is the one line of evidence that counts.

I'm an atheist, and was wondering if any of the Christians out there would care to take a stab at explaining to me why, assuming God exists, worshipping Him is a moral thing to do? I'm less trying to argue, and more just genuinely curious about your viewpoint, because it seems really alien to me.

Like I said, I'm an atheist. But I would worship the Christian God if I thought He existed. The only reason I don't is that I don't believe in Him. So it seems that the underlying reason that I'm not being moral is because I believe incorrect things? That is, it's more moral to believe that there's one and only one God? Is that right? That seems really weird to me, because I can't think of other cases in which I think people are moral or immoral over their beliefs about factual matters. I understand that I might be wrong when I think there's no God, and that might be because (1) I'm too stupid to correctly process the evidence that there's one and only one God or (2) Haven't been curious enough to take the time to investigate that evidence. But in other situations, when I run into people who reach incorrect conclusions due to bad reasoning skills or lack of intellectual curiosity, I find their beliefs annoying, not immoral. I think it's stupid to believe the Earth is flat, but not immoral. Why is an incorrect belief about a factual matter immoral?

Ryan,

Thank you for going to bat for me with a very pithy quote while I was off on other duties yesterday! Chesterton still speaks with such potency and clarity. He and Spurgeon each remain such a vigorous inspiration for me personally in my devotion to the Lord.

Autumnal Harvest,

Firstly, I want to thank you for your sincere candor and honesty in asking these very good and thoughtful questions. As much as I understand about God (and I am a Christian), which I admit is only a layman's understanding, God requires that we believe Him because it is in our best interest to believe Him. Believing God is not merely agreeing with factual data about the nature of reality. God is a Being with personal abilities (a mind, a will to make choices, feelings, morality, etc.), and when He made people He created us with personal abilities. We can communicate, get to know other people, we have personal hopes and values, etc etc. So God's interest in humanity is not just as some harsh critic, or some insecure narcissist, but rather He is the one who created us, and He loves us and wants what is best for us.

But what is ultimately best for us is what is ultimately best - that is, God wants the absolute best for us, and the absolute best is God Himself. There is nothing better (hence the notion of a Supreme Being). So for us to have and experience the ultimate best thing (God), and thereby to enjoy the best possible life with the greatest possible good, we have to at the very least believe that God exists. Otherwise we can never experience the rich and wonderful existence that He intends for us.

This is not to say that we believe God to try to feel better, or to get some magic happy formula for a great, easy life. (Jesus said if we believe Him we will be hated and suffer many trials.) We believe God because He actually exists, and we are convinced of this by the preponderance of the evidence.

Some atheists who actually set out to disprove God's existence have ended up submitting to the reasonable abundance of the evidence and becoming Christians (against their best intentions!). C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel are two such men who have written extensively about their journeys from atheism to belief. I would recommend both of them as a place to continue your search. Mere Christianity by Lewis, and The Case for Christ by Strobel.

Best wishes, and keep seeking until you find the truth.

Sorry - I realize I didn't answer the worship question. Basically, it is moral to worship God because He deserves our admiration and our gratitude. God does not need anything at all from us - and yet, He does deserve our reverence. When we worship God, we are giving Him what He deserves, which also happens to be the very greatest thing for our development as humans. It is like a moral imbalance is being corrected in the universe when we give to someone what they have earned. He gives us life, health, food, friends, happiness, pleasures, and so we ought to show our gratitude in a sincere and real way. If your parents love you and raise you to be a good person, and you eventually grow up and never call or write or show them any appreciation for all they've done for you, you would be failing to do the morally right thing. And so God commands us to worship Him - because when we do what we intrinsically should do, we prosper as human beings (not financially, but in our development as people).

Sage,

>> "Others come to mind: archaeological evidence"

this doesn't prove jesus is god. This proves that the bible writers kept good records.

>> Or the complexity and order of nature (indirect evidence).

this doesn't prove jesus is god. This proves that their might possibly be a designer of life and the universe.

>> Pangs of guilt and shame over wrongdoing.

this doesn't prove jesus is god. This proves that morality exists

>> oral information.

Same as text but less reliable.

>> But the ultimate evidence that confronts everyone (yes, even ToNy) is the testimony of the Holy Spirit

Yes I think this is the only real reason.

Christians believe Jesus is God because of magic.

Not logic.

Hi Paul, if you could suggest any way to go offline that wouldn't involve putting my email address into the ether then please suggest it, I'm enjoying discussing this with you. You seem to be an intelligent adult and have thought about this a bit.

Until then, we'll carry on with the 'you said.. i said' format (I don't particularly like this as it leads to nit-picking and antagonism, but needs must!).

With the assumption that the Christian God exists (as opposed to not existing or that a different god exists) then their reasoning behind their laws would be, I agree, somewhat more acute with the benefit of omniscience and foresight. Though this leaves certain contradictions throughout Jewish/Christian/Muslim etc history to be resolved, as they suggest non-omniscience (off-topic). Regardless, the laws in the OT are not being followed, and I hope you would agree that if we did follow them all to the letter the world would be a worse place for it.

As for rape, for humans it is not a good reproductive tactic. From an anthropological standpoint, as humans evolved requiring a stable upbringing and pair-bonding developed, rape would not be a practical reproductive tactic in most circumstances as the child would have more chance of dying. There would be pressure on the family/tribe to spend resources on the child, which is not in their benefit. It bypasses the sexual selection process. Hence rape is immoral to the victim and their group. When the rapist is a part of the tribe, they should contribute their resources to the child to make good. This is what can lead to the OT law of the rapist forced to marry their victim.

Moral relativism comes into play here, as in ancient tribal systems with no social aid system and little resources it could be better for the child to be brought up by the rapist and victim than to face the hardship of sole-parenting. The baby may be killed after birth were the mother be unable to support it. In the modern day, the victim has a choice. Keep the baby and be supported by state/family or abort.

In animal species where rape leads to pretty much a guarantee of successful reproduction we see it used frequently and exclusively.

Essentially Christianity has one moral code that is said to be God-given, but in reality constituted the moral outlook of the day, based on ancient tribal systems of security, 'honour' and reproduction (which can be seen in operation in tribal systems elsewhere who worship different gods).

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