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January 27, 2010

Comments

The Haitians died because an earthquake came and they were in the way.

I'm not an atheist, but I would bet atheists do in fact have an answer to the human tragedy in Haiti. Those dirty atheists call the events a natural disaster brought about by tectonic plate shifts--how silly. I'm not even sure that what happened in Haiti would qualify as evil for atheists--it was a natural disaster and natural disasters are not good or evil. They just are.

And by the way, theodicy does seem to be a major recurring issue when it comes to this disaster and others as well

Matthew 5:45 says - so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

I'm curious. How would one know if God had caused the earthquake to punish Haiti? The claim is made that Robertson "lacked evidence". What counts as evidence?

Like Jesus' disciples, Robertson mistakenly believes that the blind man is blind because of something that he or his parents did. As Jesus noted, his disciples, like Robertson, are not in step with the "Christian tradition."

Dawkins, who is illiterate in multiple disciplines (philosophy, theology, and biblical studies), provides yet another piece of evidence to establish his rich and multilayered ignorance.

But he has no cause to worry, since he does not believe in final or formal causes. Thus, his mind, indeed his person as a whole, like the mud and goo from which it arose, has no proper function or intrinsic purpose by which we can pronounce ignorance a vice, or Haiti a tragedy.

Melinda >>Atheism and Darwinism can only view earthquakes in the cold, materialistic light of naturalism. Events are random, natural processes with no meaning or purpose. No redemption. No hope. No nothing but suffering and death, victims of the natural fates.

Do we have some right to expect redemption and hope from this world? Must a worldview offer redemption and hope in order to be valid or worthy of our consideration?

I understand why people prefer such views. It is indeed very comforting.


Melinda >>The problem of evil is a problem for both Christians and atheists. The difference is, the Christian worldview has an answer for the human tragedy in Haiti. Atheism does not.

Equivocation, since the problem of evil means very different things to those two groups, and they each have responses. The answers are even in the above post itself!

The comfort level of the answers does not help us discern their validity.

"Where was God in Noah's flood?...."

This is a remarkably childish comment. This is all Dawkins and his ilk are capable of, ad hominem attacks and simplistic gesticulating are the rule.

>Where was God in Noah's flood?...."

"This is a remarkably childish comment."

Yes, it is childish, because we know where God was in Noah's Flood. He was busy killing 99.999999999...% of life on Earth.

I'm still wondering about what would count as evidence that God caused an earthquake as a means of punishining a given group of sinners. How do we know when a given mass death event is God's doing and when it's not?

Joe,

"How would one know if God had caused the earthquake to punish Haiti? The claim is made that Robertson "lacked evidence". What counts as evidence?"

I'd be willing to treat Robertson as a prophet if he pronounced God's judgement with specificity before the earthquake occurred.

I'd be willing to treat Robertson as a prophet if he pronounced God's judgement with specificity before the earthquake occurred."

I assume that you mean if he'd predicted when and where the earthquake would occur, yes? Just want to be sure I understand.

GOD is sovereign. The earthquake occurred because all if creation was broken after the Fall. We rest in knowing that GOD is using this for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). For those who do not love Him, they need to hear the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. If they died in the earthquake, they received the wrath due them for sinning against a Holy and Just LORD. You may not like the sounds of that, but it is what the Bible tells us.

It's more the way Pat said it than what he said. The Haitians did this, so God did this. Most of Pat's type liken God to a bully who dares people to knock the chip off of his shoulder, and then beats them up when they do.

The truth is, we are all pact making devil worshipers from the womb unless God intervenes in grace. God did not pass the Haitians by because of a pact they made with the Devil (if they indeed made a pact). They would have made a pact with the Devil because God passed them by.

The self-righteous tone Pat and others emit make good targets for the opposition. After all, Pat thinks he's better than the next guy because he chose Christ, and you know, water seeks its own level.

It wouldn't occur to him that Christ chose him, while passing another, probably more worthy than he, by.

Joe,

"I assume that you mean if he'd predicted when and where the earthquake would occur, yes?"

Yes, that's essentially right. I'd also find him more in line with biblical prophets/prophecy if, in addition to predicting when and where, he'd included a specific call to repentance before the event.

If Robertson had said, "God has directed me to tell the Haitians that unless they repent of _______, He will strike their nation with a devastating earthquake on _______ (date)," I'd be much more willing to consider him a prophet.

A prophecy of sufficient specificity would count as evidence to the extent that it contained information which Robertson could only have gotten from God and to the extent that a lucky guess was highly improbable.

As it stands, Robertson, to my knowledge, made no such before-the-event claims and I am not inclined to view after the fact claims as evidence of prophetic utterance.

I don't think the relevant matter biblically is to focus on whether Robertson's comment would have been more impressive had he predicted the earthquake, rather than just commenting on it afterward.

As someone mentioned above, we know God did this because He is sovereign over all things, according to the many Scriptures which teach God's sovereignty.

Jesus points to this kind of event and warns that the God who is our Maker and in control of all that happens may suddenly demand our lives, so we'd better be ready to face Him at any time.

Admittedly in the face of the anguish and terrible pain events such as these leave in their wake, it's neither easy or very palatable to take them as being from God.

As a Christian however I take some comfort in knowing that because God is control of both eternity and earthly life, all pain and suffering has some ultimate purpose.

Is this comfort why I believe such a doctrine? No, I believe it because I believe the Bible which states it, and also believe that Jesus really is who He claimed to be. These beliefs are in turn founded on a lot of other reasonable evidence.

Bruce,

When was the last time someone successfully made a prophecy that met the following description?:

"God has directed me to tell X that unless they repent of Y, He will strike their nation with a devastating earthquake (or other disaster on Z".

Anyone successfully do this in the last, say, two thousand years?

Joe,

My answer to both of your questions is "I don't know".

Well, if it hasn't happened in the last two thousand years, then maybe it's not realistic to expect that "evidence" will include a specific prophecy.

So, what else would count as evidence?

Joe,

I believe what Bruce may have been getting at with his original comment was to point out that Robertson was in a sense claiming to speak on behalf of God (or in other words, speaking as His prophet). When Robertson said he knew precisely why God visited Haiti with an earthquake, he spoke for God. This is presumptuous unless one can somehow present proof that he has heard from God. It seemed rather that Robertson merely presented a personal interpretation of why he thinks God acted. As Bruce pointed out, Robertson's statement does not line up with how biblical prophets have spoken/acted (e.g., prediction in advance, calling to repentance) and thus provides no proof that he is God's spokesman in this matter.

Is it possible someone today could be given direct revelation from God with the kind of knowledge Robertson claimed? Well, anything is possible for God. However it does not appear that God has been speaking through prophets in this manner for a good while.

But in any case a believer in the Bible's revelation does not need proof in the form of a prophetic statement to understand that this indeed was God's doing. We know that it was because God is sovereign. What we don't know is whether this was a punishment visited specifically upon Haiti for some sin. I am not inclined to think it is and one reason is because Jesus warned his disciples against just this kind of speculation. In a fallen world such as ours bad things happen to all sorts of folk.

Robertson is right to send aid to the suffering in Haiti; he's wrong to set himself up as a prophet who interprets the meaning of God's actions in Haiti.

Joe,

I not sure what you'd like to get out of this exchange. Your two questions (from the 4:30 pm post) seem to presuppose that if someone had make a specified prediction of the nature described then I'd have knowledge of it. There are a lot of things which have occurred in the last 2000 years of which I have no knowledge. My lack of knowledge is not evidence that something hasn't occurred.

All I'm saying is that I would consider a specified prediction before an event to be evidence that a prophecy is from God. An after the fact proclamation, such as Robertson's, could be from God, but I don't know how I could confirm it as such.

Joe, is there something you'd like to assert as opposed to just asking questions? Are you taking a position contrary to mine? Not sure where you stand, but I'm curious.

If I may...

Joe if your looking for "contemporary" "prophets"...try a Mormon blog. (I think you'll be hardpressed to find that claim here.)

But be forewarned, you pretty much have to take a bite of their particular flavor of apple and swallow it before you'll get "inside" information. ;)

I supposed that there are a couple of points here.

First, it’s pretty clear that no one has a problem with the idea that God regularly wipes out men, women, kids and those precious unborn babies with earthquakes, floods, tidal waves, plagues, famine, war, etc., and all because said victims committed one sin or another. Doesn’t really matter what the sin is, because all inevitably sin, so God can do the mass death thing anytime He’s bored or literally has time to kill. And then, of course, there’s the whole torture for all eternity thing. So, as I see it, there’s no reason to think that God *didn’t* send an earthquake to punish Haitians for voodoo. This is God’s MO, this is how God rolls. Why does Robertson have to produce evidence? Given God’s typical behavior patterns, maybe the burden of proof should be on those who say that God didn’t send the earthquake.

But if evidence is required, what would count as evidence? We have the suggestion that Robertson must predict earthquakes, but has anyone done anything remotely like this for thousands of years (I doubt if anyone did this before the first century either, but I’ll skip that argument and stick to the last two millennia.) So, if Robertson is right, why should we expect that his evidence will take the form of prediction? Is there anything else that he could do? Anything else that would count as evidence?

(Sidebar: Why have there been no more prophets for last two thousand years? Prophets can be very useful.)

Now, I understand that people are upset that Robertson appears to be trying to “speak for God”. But why should this bother anyone? People do this all of the time. Millions of people do this every day. How many times have people said that God spoke to them, or God revealed his Truth to them, or God touched their heart, or God “convicted” them to do something, or that they know God’s will? At a minimum, this is passing along God's message, a form of speaking for God, and this is mainstream Christian stuff. And do we ask for evidence when someone makes such claims? One can argue about how specific one can be when one says “God told me X, Y or Z”, but that seems to be arguing details and not the main concept.

People are constantly saying that Event X happened because God wanted to achieve Goal Y. This is absolute routine, everyday, mainstream Christian stuff. I learned this at my grandmother’s knee. People are constantly interpreting the meaning of Incident Z. And when someone says that God spoke to them, or revealed something big to them, or said Incident Z happened for Reason A, how often are these folks asked to produce “evidence”? How is anyone supposed to prove that they’ve heard from God? As far as I can see, it’s just as likely as not that God told Robertson to say He sent and earthquake to punish Haitians. Who can say that Robertson is wrong?

Bottom line, I’m not sure what it is that Robertson did that’s so inconsistent with Christianity in general. So, I’m not sure why folks are working so hard to distance themselves from Robertson. The Robertson incident is a logical, natural outgrowth of the starting conditions provided by Christian theology.

Joe
"Now, I understand that people are upset that Robertson appears to be trying to “speak for God”. But why should this bother anyone?"

When it comes to speaking for God (prophecy), there is no _trying_. You either do or don't. What if I told everyone that I am speaking for you in stating that you beat your wife and then not producing one scintilla of evidence that there is any truth in what I am saying? Why should anyone care that I did that? Why should your family members be upset with me?

Do you understand now why it bothers people?

" And when someone says that God spoke to them, or revealed something big to them, or said Incident Z happened for Reason A, how often are these folks asked to produce “evidence”? How is anyone supposed to prove that they’ve heard from God? "

Ok, anyone can claim what they want, but their claim proves nothing. We both agree on this point. The test of a true prophet of God is that their prophecy will reflect reality as it is in itself, not some subjective interpretation of the observer of that reality. The accuracy of specific details and the unobtainability of that information from any other source, as has been pointed out before, will leave no question about the actual source of prophetic information. In the Roberson case there is a whole lot of room for questions that a reasonable person can point to that disqualifies him as a prophet.

I understand your point about beating my wife, etc., but I'm not sure that it addresses what I was saying.

My point was that huge numbers of people do something similar to what Robertson did on a daily basis, and I don't hear a lot of complaints or demands for evidence in these cases. The main difference between Robertson and all the others "speaking for God" (saying God did this, that or the other thing for reasons X, Y and Z) is that Robertson gets noticed when he does something like this while no one really notices all of the others doing essentially the same thing. Doing what Robertson did is just a part of the practice of Christianity. Why not embrace what he said? As I said, given God's MO, I don't see any reason to conclude that Robertson was wrong.

Obviously, we agree that Robertson is not a prophet, although I'm not sure that what he did in this case was what I think of as "prophecy". He just said that a given event was caused by God for a given reason. It was an after the fact interpretation, and I didn't think that this was the same as prophecy (but maybe this is just a matter of semantics). I've heard this sort of thing a thousand times from countless other Christians. Does one have to be a "prophet" to engage in such activities?

Just out of curiosity, has anyone "passed the prophecy test" in the last two thousand years? I understand your point about the evidence required, but has anyone produced evidence like this in last two thousand years?

Joe,

Thank you for your last post. I'm afraid I don't have time to wade into the whole of what you wrote and I'm sure there are others who are more qualified to address some of the issues that you raise, but I do have a few passing comments that I hope are helpful or at least thought provoking.

Regarding: "Given God’s typical behavior patterns, maybe the burden of proof should be on those who say that God didn’t send the earthquake."

I think the distinction between what God wills to happen and what he allows to happen applies here. Yes, God can and has exercised judgement through all manner of "natural" disasters, but that does not mean that every disaster (natural or otherwise) is an act of judgement.

But I don't think it's fair to describe disaster, even a disaster intended by God as judgement, as typical of God's behavior patterns. As a Christian, I believe God's typical behavior pattern (in terms of judgement and otherwise) is summed up in his sending his son to suffer God's judgement in my stead. Are there examples in the bible of God's judgement which seem harsh to me? Yes. And there is much that I simply don't understand. But what I do understand, in some limited way, is that God loved me so much that he would suffer and die in my place and in the place of anyone who would trust him with their life. What I know of God and of his love trumps that which I can't explain.

Regarding the Robertson situation specifically, you note that people claim to be speaking for God all the time and that Robertson's claims, therefore, aren't anything unusual. Yes, that's true. But I suspect that most of the STR aficionados (of which I am one) would agree that there's much too much speaking for God going on in general. Robertson's comments are an example of a too casual readiness to claim that whatever pops into one's head is God inspired or God speaking.

On a more general note, I find Robertson embarrassing. He has a track record of pronouncing God's judgement (911 and Katrina, for example) and then backtracking. He seems to be surrounded by yes men and women who hang on his every word. He is not the person I want speaking for me on these matters. I suspect that many are seeking to distance themselves from Robertson for similar reasons.

All for now. Thanks again for your last post.

I have to agree with Joe here. Didn't a bunch of Christian leaders i.e. John Piper, Al Mohler etc, jump all over the tornado that hit the Lutheran church in Minnesota after they decided not to hate gays anymore? Claiming it was a sign from god? How was that any different from what Robertson said?

Atheists like Dawkins can get away with living on the borrowed capital of the Christian worldview because all people, regardless of what they say their metaphysical views are, can't escape the intuitions God made them to have in recognizing evil. So sure Dawkins' belief that Haiti was a tragedy is unwarranted given his naturalism, but nobody expects him to actually dismiss what is prima facie obvious about the world; there is evil. It's socially and in large circles intellectually acceptable to hold contradictory views if and only if it entails no God. So with one hand he and other atheists say theres nothing but a closed system in which physical things happen to physical things and thats it, while with the other wielding the sword of "ought not's" at theism, something their worldview simply doesn't grant. If Dawkins can't stay within the limits of his worldview, and has to cozy up to mine, well then why on earth should I adopt his?

topher

" Claiming it was a sign from god? How was that any different from what Robertson said?"

The difference is the individual involved. A big name, gets more attention. Robertson is a big name. I know that does not point out any differences in the kind of message we are talking about, but it goes a ways to explaining the reaction that results.
I would say that because there is not as much of an outcry in one case, does not negate or invalidate the the outcry in another. It is either right or it is wrong to misrepresent God's mind in a particular matter. I should think that a misrepresentation lands on the wrong side.

Joe
"The main difference between Robertson and all the others "speaking for God" (saying God did this, that or the other thing for reasons X, Y and Z) is that Robertson gets noticed when he does something like this while no one really notices all of the others doing essentially the same thing. "

I think that you are right, I just don't know to what extent. Just because something does not get notice, does not make it any different. I am sure there are many thousands of people doing this kind of foolishness, but I've never heard of most of them. Well, since I haven't, I can't actually comment on them or their claims. I mean there could be a Joe Gonzales(no particular individual in mind at this time) out there that is doing the same thing. Should I start speaking out against Joe when I don't even know if he exists? That would be kind of silly of me.


" It was an after the fact interpretation, and I didn't think that this was the same as prophecy (but maybe this is just a matter of semantics)"

Interpretation of events that occurred in the recent past while pretending to speak on behalf of God without any evidence to support his allegations is what Robertson engaged in. Is something like that prophetic? I think it is a one foot in, one foot out. In the sense that it claims to describe the thinking and motives of God, it has a prophetic flavor. In the sense that it does not make a prediction and reasons behind a future event, it certainly is not prophetic, but is interpretive. Painting himself as both a prophet and interpreter of events, Robertson is trying to wear the fanciest robes to out-compete his rivals. It seems to me that he is more interesting in strutting then he is in the fact that he is strutting over the edge of a cliff.

Chris,

You sputtered...

...borrowed capital of the Christian worldview...acceptable to hold contradictory views if and only if it entails no God... wielding the sword of "ought not's" at theism, something their worldview simply doesn't grant...

Sometimes, I get the feeling that Chrisitian apologists actually think that there's something to this kind of stuff. Is that true in your case?

RonH

Why did the Haiti earthquake happen and what role did God play in it (allowing it to happen or actually creating it?) Who knows?

However, in the aftermath, let's count how many Christian charities and relief organizations are helping Haitians and how many atheist charity and relief organizations are in Haiti right now?

Bottom line is that if you are an atheist your correct response to the Haitian tragedy is to do exactly what you are doing, make fun of Robertson's foolish statements (while his relief organization's continue to pour in money and resources to help) and DO NOTHING TO HELP! Why? It would be logically inconsistent to do anything else.

"Let's count how many Christian charities and relief organizations are helping Haitians and how many atheist charity and relief organizations are in Haiti right now."

Is the Red Cross a Christian charity? How about Partners in Health? Doctors Without Borders? What is your evidence that atheists are DOING NOTHING TO HELP?

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/01/haiti_needs_help.php

Folks keep saying that Robertson is foolish. But as far as I can tell, there's no evidence that he's wrong. And, again, it's been my observation that "interpreting events" as Robertson didd is pretty standard stuff for Christians, and folks doing the interpreting are rarely asked to produce evidence. In any event, how could they produce evidence? How can one prove that the voice in one's head is real? I've asked what would count as evidence, and I've seen little in the way of specific responses except for the prediction requirement. And when was the last time that requirement was met?

I think that Roberstson's real mistake was in reminding everyone about the nature of the Christian God. And that God is not a pretty sight.

@Rich
Good job way to reduce a horrific diaster into nothing more than a Christian/atheist pissing contest.

Joe
"How can one prove that the voice in one's head is real?"

You are assuming that we subscribe to the "voice in your head" concept. I assume that you mean that the air was not being displaced around the subject to create such a voice. I see not a shred of evidence that God used telepathy to communicate. He used dreams and visions, but that is hardly the same thing. He also used an audible voice in the case of Paul and while others around Paul did not understand the contents of the voice, they did hear it. So, to claim that Christians subscribe to a concept of telepathic communication between God and man is just going in the wrong direction. Since He acted in history, we rely on historical sources such as historical manuscripts as evidence(i.e. proof). That kind of thing has nothing to do with some kind of private telepathic communication. There are sufficient manuscripts around to describe the voice of God and a voice that sounds different than that, is suspect.

Look, I have been in this country for many decades and even today I carry a slight accent. Not everyone has a good enough ear to catch it, but there are some who do and realize that I am not a native. It is kind of like that when it comes to recognizing what is made up by a man and what is clearly given by God. Like John 10:27 states, his sheep will know his voice.

" I've asked what would count as evidence, and I've seen little in the way of specific responses except for the prediction requirement. And when was the last time that requirement was met?"

Would you like an example? Is that what will satisfy you? Ok...here goes...let's say that I claimed to be a prophet and then said that tomorrow at 10:00am there will be an earthquake in San Francisco that will topple only one particular building, leaving all others untouched and that all but one person in that building will be killed and his name is Jerry Peterson (fictional person) who will receive a small cut just bellow his right knee as a result of the building collapse. However, he will suffer no broken bones or any other injury. Having said that and made it public three weeks ago, the incident came to pass exactly as predicted. Would you have any doubt that my claim to having been given the information from God is pretty solidly backed up by the evidence of the events? Is there any chance of having any other source of that information inform me of the events to take place three weeks hence?

You wanted to know what would suffice as evidence, I have now given you an example and you have no longer any reason to claim that none of us have provided you with proper criteria. Isn't that right?

Joe
just in case even that is not clear enough, I will elaborate just a bit more. There can be no alternate explanation that makes any sense for the specific nature of the information or the high degree of accuracy of the prediction. The only other explanation is that I jumped into a time machine and witnessed the events myself then came back through time to tell you about it.
So, you see, the requirements for prophecy are pretty high as real prophecy denies any purchase to alternate explanations.

I understand the Prophesy Test, really I do. I understood this several comments ago. And I understand why it’s important to claim that Robertson must pass this test, a test that no one has passed for thousands of years, before he can say what he said. Since no one passes the test, this test can be used to discredit and dismiss Robertson. But, again, I think that this misses my point.

The point is *why* must Robertson pass the test before making a post hoc interpretation of events? Is this fair? Why must Robertson prove that he is a capital-P Prophet first? Why must Robertson do what million of other Christians are not required to do when they do as Robertson did? As I said, how many times have people said that God spoke to them, or God revealed his Truth to them, or God touched their heart, or God “convicted” them to do something, or that they know God’s will? People are constantly saying that Event X happened because God wanted to achieve Goal Y. As I said, the Robertson incident is a logical, natural outgrowth of the starting conditions provided by Christian theology.

As far as voices in the head are concerned, it’s been my observation that when people do as described above (say that God spoke to them, etc., etc.), they rarely claim that they heard a voice from a source external to the body, e.g., a burning bush. So, what did they hear? How was the will of God or the message from God communicated? I think that we’re just left with voices in their head, that is, the outgrowth of various thought processes. That’s it, that’s the evidence presented to back the claims of millions. Now, if these voices, messages or what have you genuinely originated from God, what would you call this? Why not “telepathy”?

Voice in the head, dreams in the head, visions in the head…what’s the difference? The Bible is composed of words, not pictures, so presumably, the inspired writer must have heard words, yes?

" Why must Robertson do what million of other Christians are not required to do when they do as Robertson did?"

Actually, they all have to or they are in error.


"As I said, how many times have people said that God spoke to them, or God revealed his Truth to them, or God touched their heart, or God “convicted” them to do something, or that they know God’s will?"

Well, I have said so before, but my source was what was written in the manuscripts that resonated with what was written on my heart. It is possible to reverse the process and allow sincere feelings from the heart to cloud judgment to the point where the manuscripts are forced into the same frequency of one's heart, so to speak, twisting the words to fit the feelings. It is a question of .... is the heart the final decider of what is true, or is what has been written by God. I think that emotions are far less reliable.
Robertson must pass the test of a prophet if he claims to be performing the same function of a prophet...and that is speaking for God outside of the confines of what is written in scriptures already.
If I say that God spoke to me that I should not murder, well He certainly did in the old testament where He set down the law to prohibit it. So, I am not making myself equal to a prophet and therefore, have no reason to pass the test. What Robertson did, was way beyond this idea.


"Voice in the head, dreams in the head, visions in the head…what’s the difference? "

I think that there is a clinical difference. Folks with voices in their heads need treatment. Folks who have dreams, are perfectly normal. As to visions, they are not voices in the head. What is seen is real, not a hallucination, which might be your take on the thing. So, there are important differences.

Why not telepathy? I don't know. What I know is that I have seen no evidence of it, nor has any such clear evidence been reported to my knowledge. I mean, Jesus walked through walls in the upper room after the resurrection, but there is no evidence that he spoke to the disciples through telepathy. Why not? Might be because we aren't capable of it...being the limited creatures we are.

" The Bible is composed of words, not pictures, so presumably, the inspired writer must have heard words, yes? "

I don't know. The only thing that we are told is that those words were God breathed(inspired). How God breathed His words into the men in order for them to write them down, is something I can't answer any more than I can answer how God breathed life into man(scientists are still chewing on that one). However, I have seen no evidence of voices in the head or telepathy as the means of transmission. Somehow, these writers were divinely moved to write those words down.

"Actually, they all have to or they are in error."

Guess that there are a whole lot of people with a whole lot of explaining to do.

"Robertson must pass the test of a prophet if he claims to be performing the same function of a prophet...and that is speaking for God outside of the confines of what is written in scriptures already."

Ok, I understand how you're defining "prophet", but how is Robertson speaking "outside of the confines of...scriptures"?

I'm not sure it takes a prophet to read the Bible, see the nature of God, and then look at a given event and make the connections that Robertson made.

"Loathsome as Robertson's views undoubtedly are, he is the Christian who stands squarely in the Christian tradition" (Dawkins)

I agree with Dawkins here - he stands within the confines of Christian 'tradition' concering the interpretation of various incidents and God's hand on such incidents. Does this still make Robertson's claims accurate of what is within scripture?

You see, scripture is an interpretive piece of work many times left to the mind of the one reading...this is a certfiable fact.

If someone says 'love covers a multitude of sins' any array of questions fills the readers mind. Define love/cover/multitude/sin. How many sins are covered? What exact sins are covered? What does 'cover' mean for that person we love? Etc.

As we can easily, as the eye can see, read that sentence - it is pretty clear cut we have to define the limits and thresholds of what that teaching will mean (it's not dead on specific as one can easily tell). It leads a way to more thought.

And this is the problem with someone claiming 'this is the Christian thought on this or that issue'. The fact ism Christian thought has been occuring for some 1900 years (ever since anything was written on the subject) and has changed a lot from place to place - era to era.

Someone may want to believe that a certain thought like Robertson's thought here is 'Christian'...fine...we can find that type of thinking in the 'tradition'. Is it the only type of thinking in the tradition? No. We also need to see what Pat is basing this on to be even more clear on interpretation in the past.

However we can make it easy and put each of ourselves on even ground starting with 'what we know' on the subject and debate from there...or we can go a rummaging through countless books on the passages Robertson used to some to this conclusion. One way is easy - the other will take some serious time.

Joe

"Guess that there are a whole lot of people with a whole lot of explaining to do. "

If there are many who do the same as Pat, I agree.

"Ok, I understand how you're defining "prophet", but how is Robertson speaking "outside of the confines of...scriptures"? "

Unless I am a careless reader and have missed it, I seen no reference to Haiti in the bible, nor the specific catastrophic event that took place. To draw a connection, to the way God may have dealt with rebellion in the past with a specific geological event is to go from a broad general principle of the way God might handle such a situation and draw a very specific conclusion that He _did_ that this time and do so without proper justification is simply wrong. We are not just talking about the broad topic of God might have done things this way or that He could have done things this way, but a claim that He actually did it this way. The one making this kind of claim, had better have some solid evidence to support his allegation. He is not claiming a possibility, but an actuality and for that kind of claim he shoulders the greater responsibility of providing evidence(i.e. proof).

Societyvs

"You see, scripture is an interpretive piece of work many times left to the mind of the one reading...this is a certfiable fact. "

2 Peter 1:20 clearly denies this claim and makes one of its own that "knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation."

I think you better check your certificate, it seems to be a forgery.

Ok, I think I understand Pat's mistake now.

I'm curious. Can you think of any events from, say, the second century to the present where someone could draw the very specific conclusion that God did specific Event X for specific Reason Y? Since we're looking at disasters, I'm particularly interested in catastrophes unleashed as punishment.

Joe
"Ok, I think I understand Pat's mistake now.

I'm curious. Can you think of any events from, say, the second century to the present where someone could draw the very specific conclusion that God did specific Event X for specific Reason Y?"

The time for prophets was over way before Jesus walked the earth. So, why should I think that such a thing should be expected?

"Since we're looking at disasters, I'm particularly interested in catastrophes unleashed as punishment. "

The ones that were clearly that, are well detailed and you will soon exhaust your list quickly. I don't know why you are not satisfied with the short list and want to expand on it.
In order for a balanced view on this reward/punishment issue, would it not be more appropriate to look to rewards as well? Does not focusing only one side of that ratio speak of a bias in one direction?
Considering the amount of time that God gave those who rebelled against Him to lay down their swords before taking action against their rebellion, does it seem fair to you to focus only on measures taken to crush the willful rebellions? If I keep warning you to stop punching me on the chest and you persist about a hundred times, why should you consider it some form of vicious injustice if I give you a bloody nose after that many strikes?

Joe
Actually, I do understand why you might think that way. It is difficult to think clearly while your nose is bleeding and your brain is sloshing around your head from my strike.

The time for prophets was over way before Jesus walked the earth."

Ok, so we can conclude that the Bible has and has had little or no value with respect to explaining the reasons behind daily events, including disasters, for thousands of years.

"If I keep warning you to stop punching me on the chest and you persist about a hundred times, why should you consider it some form of vicious injustice if I give you a bloody nose after that many strikes?"

Drowning 99.999...% of all terrestrial life and every man, woman, child and oh-so-precious fetus on Earth, save for eight people, is a bit more than just a "bloody nose". In fact, one is tempted to call it unjustly disproportionate to the crimes.

"It is difficult to think clearly while your nose is bleeding and your brain is sloshing around your head from my strike."

Getting a little personal and aggressive now, aren't we?

"Ok, so we can conclude that the Bible has and has had little or no value with respect to explaining the reasons behind daily events, including disasters, for thousands of years. "

Whoa!! That's quite a jump...huge jump. Well, what do you consider value? Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple in 70ad that no one knew would happen until it did. What value was the information? Perhaps prophecy has value, but perhaps not the kind you want. So what? Value is value even if your narrow definition excludes it from value.

"Drowning 99.999...% of all terrestrial life and every man, "

Actually, that is not accurate. The wording is not precise...it is described in ways that could well mean the known world. So, the number could be way smaller than that. Not that it makes much difference from the moral perspective.

"woman, child and oh-so-precious fetus on Earth, save for eight people, is a bit more than just a "bloody nose"."

He could have wiped us all out and you would not be here to enjoy the things you enjoy.

"In fact, one is tempted to call it unjustly disproportionate to the crimes. "

Are you kidding? What is the penalty for murder when it comes to mankind? What is the penalty for genocide of every woman man and child of the world forever and ever? Well, that is no crime at all compared to the crime that would have been allowed to be committed had God not stepped in and caused the flood. Because everyone that ever existed would be for all eternity have been damned to hell for all eternity and that would have been the crime those people who died in the flood would have been guilty of. By doing what God did and saving Noah and his family, He prevented that and made it possible for hell not to be full and heaven not to be empty.
And for this rescue mission, you would brand Him a criminal. How can you come to that kind of conclusion, considering the evidence?


“Whoa!! That's quite a jump...huge jump. Well, what do you consider value?”

I thought I defined what I meant by value; “value with respect to explaining the reasons behind daily events, including disasters, for thousands of years". In other words, looking at all of the events that have occurred over the last two thousand years, can the Bible explain why any given Event X occurred or provide Reason A for why Event X occurred? I believe that you said “no”. So, the Bible would appear to have very limited explanatory power. At least the poor, limited scientists can tell you why an earthquake happened.

“So, the number could be way smaller than that.”

Just to clarify, do you mean the number of humans? Are you saying that after the flood event described in Genesis, the total human global population was considerably greater than eight people?

“He could have wiped us all out and you would not be here to enjoy the things you enjoy.”

Well, yes, the overreaction could have been even more disproportionately unjust, but I’m not sure that’s really a point in God’s favor, given the level of destruction attributed to God.

“Well, that is no crime at all compared to the crime that would have been allowed to be committed had God not stepped in and caused the flood. Because everyone that ever existed would be for all eternity have been damned to hell for all eternity and that would have been the crime those people who died in the flood would have been guilty of."

Seriously? This is the only way to keep everyone that ever existed out of Hell? This is the best that the Creator of the entire Universe can come up with? Killing (how ever many were killed in the Flood) is the only way to get a few humans into Heaven? That’s “no crime at all”? This is a “rescue mission”? Wow. This may be the greatest “ends justify the means” rationalization I’ve ever seen.

Joe
"I thought I defined what I meant by value; “value with respect to explaining the reasons behind daily events, including disasters, for thousands of years". In other words, looking at all of the events that have occurred over the last two thousand years, can the Bible explain why any given Event X occurred or provide Reason A for why Event X occurred? I believe that you said “no”. So, the Bible would appear to have very limited explanatory power. At least the poor, limited scientists can tell you why an earthquake happened. "

Actually, they can't tell you why it happened to particular individuals. All they can tell you is the cause and effect of a disaster as defined by the limits of philosophical materialism. So, they don't have the answer of "why" in the broader sense, only in a very limited sense.

"Just to clarify, do you mean the number of humans? Are you saying that after the flood event described in Genesis, the total human global population was considerably greater than eight people? "

The way that the word "world" is used is often in terms of the "known world" or maybe "civilized world". So, the flood may have been quite limited in its scope. To think that the whole of the globe was engulfed in a flood may not be the way it happened.

"Well, yes, the overreaction could have been even more disproportionately unjust, "

Unjust? Is it unjust of me to take the car from you that I let you borrow because you are misusing it? I don't think that a single legal system would think me unjust. Since all of life is God's possession, there is nothing unjust about His demanding it back when it is being misused.


"but I’m not sure that’s really a point in God’s favor, given the level of destruction attributed to God."

I don't think you understand what is at stake here.

"Seriously? This is the only way to keep everyone that ever existed out of Hell? This is the best that the Creator of the entire Universe can come up with? Killing (how ever many were killed in the Flood) is the only way to get a few humans into Heaven?"

Few? I should think there will be quite a few over the thousands of years...not just a few. You don't seem to get it. When you create a creature that genuinely is a free moral agent, it is possible for that free moral agent to thwart your plans for him even if those plans are genuinely good.

" That’s “no crime at all”? "

It is not a crime to doom every single human being that has ever existed or will ever exist to hell by your actions? Well, if that is true then murder must be a benevolent act.

" This is a “rescue mission”? Wow. This may be the greatest “ends justify the means” rationalization I’ve ever seen. "

Exactly my point. Ends do justify the means when the ends are objectively good.

...And so we've reached the "God can do as He pleases 'cause He made everything, and by definition, what God does is always good and just and right" portion of the program.

Well, there's not much point in arguing when one starts with the conclusion followed by an interpretation of all observations such that they will fit the conclusion. It's hard to beat an approach that draws the curve and then plots the data.

Joe

"...And so we've reached the "God can do as He pleases 'cause He made everything, and by definition, what God does is always good and just and right" portion of the program. "

I am afraid it is much worse than that. All goodness flows from him. If there is anything good about you or me, he is the source of that. So, when you take exception to what you consider to be evil...that's a good thing, but the source of that good is not you.
However, just one point that I would like to add, if you don't mind. It is that when we speak of God being good, we mean that He is objectively good. My perception or your perception of His being good or not being good, in no way effects what He is. Were He not good in this way, He could not be the God that the bible describes, but would fit the model of all other concocted Gods that man has ever invented. That is why the one described is at the very least unique from all others. Now, Joe, how do you account for that?


What is there to account for? You've drawn the curve and then plotted the points. Game over.

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