The Instigator
Rational_Thinker9119
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
LayTheologian
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

God Couldn't Have Caused The First Moment Of Time

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/16/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,105 times Debate No: 39008
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (34)
Votes (0)

 

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

The resolution is pretty simple... I will have to show that God couldn't have caused the first moment of time. My opponent will only have to undermine my arguments sufficiently. The first round is for acceptance.
LayTheologian

Con

Go for it.
Debate Round No. 1
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Introduction

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. In this discussion, I will be attempting to demonstrate that a being with God's attributes could not have created the first moment of time.

God's Attributes

If God was the cause of the first moment of time then two attributes must be applied:

(a) Intelligence

(b) Timelessness

He must be intelligent, because intelligence is inherent to what the conception of God is (take "intelligent design" for example). God must be a being with an intellect far more advanced than humans because he is also described as a maximally great being[1], who would certainly have intelligence as this is a great making property. In fact, it is so self-evident that a being with the name "God" would be intelligent that arguing for this as an attribute of God is actually rather futile. Any reasonable conception of God will entail he has the property of intelligence. Thus, (a) holds as an attribute of God.

In the case of the cause of the first moment time, the cause must be timeless. If the cause was in time, then this would negate the original assertion that the first moment of time is being created (as time would already exist). Thus, (b) holds as an attribute of God.

The Incoherence Of Timeless Intelligence

As I have established in my last section, if God exists he must be both timeless (assuming he creates the first moment of time) and intelligent. However, a being cannot have both of these properties coherently. The reason a timeless intelligence cannot be substantiated in the actual world is that intelligence presuppose time. Since timelessness entails no time, and intelligence entails time, a being with both attributes is logically impossible due to the Law of Noncontradiction[1]. Why does intelligence entail time? One reason is that to be intelligent, one must be able to think, but thinking is a process by definition:

"The process of using one's mind to consider or reason about something."[3]

"The action of using your mind to produce ideas, decisions, memories, etc. : the activity of thinking about something."[4]

When it comes to definitions, Oxford and Webster are the standard to say the least so there should be no argumentation with regards to the definitions provided. Now, thinking is an action, a process, and and activity. The idea of a process entails change. First there is a stage 1 in the process, then a stage 2 and so on and so forth; this is what a process is. The jump from stage 1 to stage 2 is self-evidently a change:


This is an issue, because virtually all philosophers acknowledge that change and time are fundamentally linked, and change implies time.

"So construed, the notion of change is obviously bound up with notions of cause, time and motion" - Change and Inconsistency (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)[5]

"Change is intimately bound up with time." " What is philosophy? (University of Florida)[5]

The second something changes, one could time how long the change has occurred; which presupposes time. This is especially the case with the idea of a mind:

"How can a nontemporal mind think!? Thinking at its most generic metric requires that this mind have one state and then transition to another." - Ben Schuldt[7]

If we bring together the facts that intelligence requires thinking, thinking is a process, a process is a change, and change entails time; it becomes rather clear why a "timeless intelligence" makes no sense. God cannot harbour thoughts without a process, because a thought by definition is a product of thinking (which is a process):

"An idea or opinion produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind"[8]

"A product of thinking" [9]

"The act or process of thinking" [10]

Intelligence without thinking or mental processing is as absurd as the idea of bench pressing without arm lifting, or car rides without moving vehicles. These are nonsensical scenarios as they go against the very nature of the intention entailed by it.

Conclusion

Either way you slice the cake, intelligence requires time to function. This is a metaphysically necessary a proiri truth, so there doesn't seem to be anyway around it. Since intelligence requires time to function, then the idea of a "timeless intelligence" is nonsense, as it violates logic to a harsh degree. However, if God exists and was the cause of the first moment of time, then he would have both attributes. Since those attributes are incompatible, it follows logically that God couldn't have caused the first moment of time.

The resolution has been established.

Sources

[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[3] http://oxforddictionaries.com...

[4] http://www.merriam-webster.com...

[5] http://plato.stanford.edu...

[6] http://web.phil.ufl.edu...

[7] http://richardcarrier.wikispaces.com...

[8] http://oxforddictionaries.com...

[9] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

[10] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
LayTheologian

Con

I'd like to begin also by thanking my opponent for this debate; it promises to be interesting.

There are three problems with your assertion that God, with the attributes commonly attributed to him, could not have caused the first moment of time. The first is that it's not at all clear that it is necessary for a maximally great entity to be an intelligent one, the second is that it's not clear that an entity that does not experience time is therefore incapable of performing an action over time, the third is that it's not at all clear that a deity that does not exist within the space-time continuum is therefore incapable of change.

Contention One: a maximally great entity is not necessarily an intelligent entity.

It may seem incoherent to call an entity maximally great if it is not intelligent (that is to say, if it is not capable of thought) but think about the purpose of thought. The ultimate purpose of thought is to acquire knowledge or beliefs that are likely to be true. A maximally great being, being posessed of the quality of knowledge to the maximal degree, has no need of the ability to acquire knowledge or beliefs. "Intelligence" in the sense you reference when you refer to "intelligent design" is really much closer to "purpose" or "meaning."

Contention Two: a being that does not experience time is not necessarily incapable of performing an action over time.

I intend to prove this contention by way of providing a counterexample to its negation. The negation of contention two is that a being that does not experience time is necessarily incapable of performing an action over time. To provide a counterexample, I point you to the example of photons and the action of moving. Due to relativistic effects, photons do not experience time; that is to say, a mind travelling at exactly the speed of light would never experience the passage of time. However, a photon most certainly does perform the process of moving from one place to another.

Contention Three: an entity that does not exist within the space-time continuum is not necessarily incapable of change.

I here use the term "space-time continuum" to mean the set of four dimensions that we experience: three spatial dimensions and one time dimension. An entity that exists externally to our space and our dimension of time could conceivably experience another form of time; perhaps there exists another time dimension that is inherent to this external entity.

Please keep in mind that only one defeating argument to Pro's stance is necessary; it is not required that all or even most of my arguments be shown valid.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 2
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Introduction

I thank my opponent for his interesting response. However, I do not think the contentions he brings up actually undermine my argument. If his contentions do not undermine my argument, then my argument stands and the resolution has been affirmed.

Contention 1: A Maximally Great Entity Is Not Necessarily An Intelligent Entity

My opponent states that it may seem incoherent to call an entity maximally great if the being is not capable of thought; this is exactly correct. It seems rather absurd to think of a Maximally Great Being who cannot even process a thought, if even less great beings like us can perform such a task. Con then argues that the purpose of a thought is to acquire knowledge and beliefs, but since a Maximally Great Being would have all the knowledge and beliefs then thinking is not required. The problem with this argument is that the purpose of a thought doesn't necessarily have anything to do with gaining new knowledge or beliefs, as the purpose of thinking usually pertains to mental reflection upon what is already known and believed. Intelligence is what you do with knowledge, but it isn't knowledge itself. Now, a being who can think and reflect upon his thoughts, is intelligent and is deserving of the term "Maximally Great". A Maximally Great Being who cannot even think is self-evidently nonsense.

Additionally, even if one was to grant my opponent's contention for the sake of argument, all that would show is that God doesn't have to be necessarily viewed as a Maximally Great Being. However, intelligence is something inherent to the concept of what God is conceived as by virtually all believers (I know believers who reject the notion that God has to be a Maximally Great Being, but seldom find who who thinks he is not intelligent). Remember, that without essential attributes attributed to God by humans, then "God" is a meaningless term. The very word "God" implies intelligence. As popular Christian philosopher William Lane Craig states:

"As a pure mind without a body, God is a remarkably simple entity." - William Lane Craig[1]

Also, on a popular Christian website, the author wrote:

"God is able to make decisions. He is not merely a robot, but instead has the ability to decide to do certain things."[2]

Decisions by their very essence are the product of thought. If I make a choice that implies I thought about it, or else the whole scenario is reduced to a mechanical or robotic situation. I think it is clear that any reasonable conception of God includes him being intelligent, and able to process thoughts and think. Therefore, I do not see my opponent's contention as causing any harm to my argument.

Contention Two: A Being That Does Not Experience Time Is Not Necessarily Incapable Of Performing An Action Over Time.

With this contention, Con seems to engage in the red-herring fallacy[3]. This fallacy is when someone presents something irrelevant to stray from the real issue. It doesn't matter whether God experiences time or not, the argument I am presenting pertains to whether God is within time or not. If God exists, he is either in time, or not in time (The Law of Excluded Middle[4]). Since the question is whether or not God is in time, not God's non-experience of time or performance of actions over time, then this contention does absolutely nothing to dent my position.

Contention Three: An Entity That Does Not Exist Within The Space-Time Continuum Is Not Necessarily Incapable Of Change.

Unfortunately, Con's argument here violates the Law of Noncontradiction[5]. If God exists in another sort of time, then he couldn't have caused the first moment of time (as time would already exist as the background God exists in). Remember, my argument deals with time, not specifically our physical time within this universe; time itself. Since another form of time would still fall into the category of "time", then my argument that the cause of the first moment of time has to be timeless cannot be avoided.

Conclusion

None of my opponents contentions are valid or sound. Contention 1 implies God doesn't have to be intelligent but this essentially denies God what it is to be God, and reduces the world "God" into nothing. A Maximally Great Being surely would be able to process thoughts, especially considering the fact that the sole purpose of thoughts has nothing to do with gaining knowledge of beliefs. Contention 2 is based on a red-herring logical fallacy which makes it invalid. The issue is with regards to God existing within time or outside of time; not his actions or experiences specifically. Contention 3 violates an essential rule of logic. If God exists in some sort of time already, then he cannot cause the first moment of time (that would contradict the original assumption that God exists within some time). Note that this debate deals with "time", so any time falls under that umbrella, as any time is obviously time. There is nothing about my argument that states that the cause of the first moment of physical time must be timeless, the argument states that the cause of time itself (which ever kind of time that may be) must be timeless.

Since none of my opponent's objections go through; my argument remains unscathed...

The resolution has been affirmed.

Sources





LayTheologian

Con

Contention 1:

It is also conventional Christian thought that God cannot lie, be evil, or be unjust; would you also call this incoherent? There are many examples of things God is incapable of doing that we lesser creatures can. There are also examples of things that God cannot do because they are logically impossible: creating a square circle, for instance, is one of these. Another of these things that cannot be done by a maximally great being is thinking. What does a being that knows everything with certainty think about? What is there for it to consider? What questions does it have to resolve? You claim that the purpose of thinking usually pertains to mental reflection on what is already known and believed -- to what end does a maximally great being reflect on its own certainty?

You claim that God is viewed as a pure intelligence and therefore requires the capacity for thought. However, there are multiple definitions of intelligence, and not all of them inherently require change over time. One Christian definition of intelligence is merely "the basic eternal quality of divine Mind" [1]; in this sense, it does not necessarily require thought. If your author on a "popular Christian website" spoke for all believers and defined all Christian belief with his words, you would have a point, but he does not.

Contention 2:
You are correct. I concede the point.

Contention 3:
I disagree with this argument. It is not incoherent to argue that God could exist outside of the dimension that we call time while still having inherent to himself the quality of being capable of change or of having an inherent sequence of experience that all events he performs (the creation of the universe, the incarnatio of his son, etc.) follow. Moreover, if God did have such an inherent quality, there would still be only one first moment of time, because God, being eternal, would not have a first moment but the space-time continuum, being temporary, would have a first moment.
Debate Round No. 3
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Contention 1:

Con starts off the round by listing things that God cannot do (be evil, unjust, and a liar), thus showing the coherency of God not being able to do something humans can. The problem is that none of those are considered great making properties. Note that in my first round I stated:

"God must be a being with an intellect far more advanced than humans because he is also described as a maximally great being, who would certainly have intelligence as this is a great making property."
Having intelligence is certainly greater than not having intelligence. Thus, any great making property that humans posses; God would have to a further extent. This doesn't mean that God is expected to do everything a human can do. He then mentions the fact that God cannot make square circle to show that there are things God cannot do. However, I know this, as this whole debate is about me proving that God cannot do something; create the first moment of time. My opponent then claims that a Maximally Great Being cannot think, but that is like saying that a Maximally Great Mathematician cannot do algebra; It is complete nonsense. Intelligence allows us love, if we couldn't process thoughts about emotion then love would have no meaning. God is conceived of as a omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent being:

"a. A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions."[1]

Omniscient means all knowing, but knowing presupposes a mind and thus intelligence. There is simply no reasonable conception of God which does not entail he is intelligent. My opponent then asks the question of what an all knowing being needs to think about. Well, an all knowing being would have to think about whether or not he wants to create a universe. Without this ability, he wouldn't have free-will and couldn't be a Maximally Great Being. Even though he would have knowledge of all things, it is what he does with that knowledge that matter. What Con is describing is like static information stored; like a frozen bookshelf stuck in timelessness. However, this shares no relation to anything that can be called a "being".

Con then appeals to a definition of intelligence that is as follows:

"The basic eternal quality of divine Mind"

The problem is that the term "mind" necessitates intelligence, so the implications of thoughts from a mind cannot be avoided:

"The principle of intelligence; the spirit of consciousness regarded as an aspect of reality."[2]

A functioning intellectual mind without a mental process is like flame that doesn't burn. They are logically incoherent situations as the very essence of that that thing is denied and assumed at the same time. Additionally, I did not just source an author from a popular Christian website, I quoted one of the most popular Christian philosophers as well. To deny God the ability to think, is similar to denying him the ability to have consciousness, or the ability to be a being! One cannot just stray from the very essence of what is implied by a term, that is the height of irrationality. Any reasonable definition of God will infer intelligence.

Contention 1 still does not harm my argument.

Contention 2:

This argument from Con was dropped.

Contention 3:

Con argues:

"It is not incoherent to argue that God could exist outside of the dimension that we call time while still having inherent to himself the quality of being capable of change or of having an inherent sequence of experience that all events he performs (the creation of the universe, the incarnatio of his son, etc.) follow."

However, it is incoherent. Change presupposes time, as any change can be timed which actually entails the existence of time. If something begins to move or change, then as it moves, everything that traces back beginning in the earlier than direction is "past", when that "past" moment was "present", everything in the later than direction is the "future". This means time is necessary for change. Saying a process or change can occur with 0 time is like saying you can fit a basketball in 0 space; it is clearly impossible. If God was the cause of the first moment of time, then he would have to be timeless and thus changeless. Your argument would only work if my argument was that God couldn't have caused the first moment of physical time. If that was the case, then God could exist in metaphysical time. However, my argument states that God cannot cause of the first moment of time (which means time itself in any context), necessitating that any cause of it being timeless.

Additionally, my opponent states:

"Moreover, if God did have such an inherent quality, there would still be only one first moment of time, because God, being eternal, would not have a first moment but the space-time continuum, being temporary, would have a first moment."

God cannot have the inherent quality of changing while being the cause of the first moment of time. The reason, as stated before, is because change presupposes time. If God exists in some type of time already (even if it is not physical time), he cannot cause the first moment of time (because some time already exists). My argument has nothing to do with specifically the time within the universe but time itself.

Conclusion

All of Con's objections fall flat on their face (Con even conceded contention 2). Any reasonable conception of God requires him to at the very least be intelligent, and be able to process a thought in order to make choices (this is how God is usually conceived, and Maximal Greatness entails it). If we deny that God is intelligent, we might as well deny that water is wet. As far as choices are concerned, If God doesn't think about a choice, then we have a mechanism that violates free-will (another great making property). Contention 3 entails an incoherency. If God caused the first moment of time, then he would have to be timeless and thus changeless. If he existed in some prior time, then he really didn't cause the first moment of time. My argument doesn't say that God couldn't have caused the first moment of the time we experience, but time. Any type of time self-evidently falls under the "time" category.

Since none of my opponent's objections go through; my argument still remains unscathed...

The resolution has been affirmed. Vote Pro.
LayTheologian

Con

I neglected to provide a citation in the previous round. The [1] should have referred you to a merriam-webster online dictionary definition.

Anyway, moving on. In this debate, Pro has made many mistakes, the most crucial of which is as follows: he assumes that words mean only what he wants them to mean. He assumes that intelligence, for example, means only "the capacity for thought," and ignores the theological definition (an egregious error, considering we are discussing religious philosophy) which defines intelligence as "the basic eternal quality of divine Mind. [1] Please note that his argument centers around the idea that intelligence entails thought, but intelligence in the theological sense does not entail thought.

He also assumes that "mind" entails thought. This is false. William Craig, celebrated philosopher and proponent of the timeless God, describes God's mind as a "changeless consciousness of truth" that is "properly regarded as timeless."

He elaborates:

"But what if God's mental life in the absence of any created world is not discursive, but changeless? Why could the contents of God's consciousness not be comprised of tenselessly true beliefs such as "No humans exist," "7+5=12," "In W* Socrates drinks hemlock," "Anything that has a shape has a size," "If Jones were in C, he would write to his wife," "The atomic number of gold is 78," "God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect," and so on, and be such that He never acquires and never loses any of His beliefs?"

To summarize, we have the same popular Christian philosopher that Pro himself cited defending the belief that God does not think. This is destructive to Pro's claim that Christian belief entails a thinking God, and I could probably stop here if I wanted, but I won't.

To establish that God must be able to think, Pro appeals to the conception of the Maximally Great Being, a being who possesses all logically coherent great-making qualities to the maximal degree. He appeals here not to logic but to the instinctive belief that the ability to think is a great-making quality.


So, what evidence does he present that the ability to think is a great-making quality?

None whatsoever. Pro would have you believe that a Mind who cannot think is not maximally great, but I'd like you to consider two points.

Firstly, thinking is the process of transitioning from one belief to another. This is destructive to the idea of a timeless thinker because thinking, as a process, entails time.

Secondly, a maximally great being must be omniscient. By the definition of omniscience, this means that a maximally great being holds true beliefs and only true beliefs. Therefore, a maximally great being must hold true beliefs and only true beliefs.

I refer you again to William Lane Craig's view that God's mind is "a changeless consciousness of true beliefs." These beliefs would include a simultaneous perfect awareness of every moment of the universe, etc. So God simultaenously knows that at 12:40 I am drinking water, but at 12:41 I am writing an argument. Why does God need to think?


As we have seen, a maximally great being, being omniscient, has every true belief. What need is there for its transitioning from one belief to another? In fact, should a maximally great being change any of its beliefs, that is to say, should a maximally great being think, it would cease to have only true beliefs -- it could no longer be considered maximally great.


Pro has one more response that he could attempt. "Of course intelligence is a great-making quality. If we were not intelligent, we would be less great than we are now." (Again, of course, Pro would be advancing his definition of intelligence to the willful exclusion of the philosophical definition of intelligence). Pro would be correct. If we, as temporal and flawed beings, were not intelligent, we would be less great than we are now. However, God is not a temporal or flawed being. We as humans have need of intelligence because intelligence allows us to acquire true beliefs and dispose of false beliefs. God, as an omniscient being with only true beliefs, does not.

I'm going to summarize this, because it's important that you understand what I'm getting at.
Pro claims that a great being must be able to think. However, thinking is the process of changing one's beliefs, and a maximally great being (God) already has perfect beliefs.
Thinking is of value only when one does not hold all true beliefs, or when one's beliefs are not all true. When you think or when I think, the purpose is to improve our beliefs -- I may think in order to examine the question of whether I have homework tomorrow, or whether my belief that God can be timeless is warranted. God, though, holds only true beliefs, and he holds all true beliefs -- to what end does God think? Does he somehow become more certain in his beliefs? But this is nonsense. God exists as an eternal consciousness of truth. Not only does he hold perfect beliefs, he knows he holds perfect beliefs.

Pro also appeals to the idea that God must be able to choose. He supplies no warrant for this claim, though, apart from a vague assertion that it is better to be able to choose than not to be able to choose. What is choice, though, other than transitioning from a lack of belief about the action to take to a belief about the action to take? God has no need of doing this, because God's beliefs about the proper actions to take are already perfect, because (as Pro has repeated over and over) God is maximally great.

We have already seen that Christian belief has no problem with a definition of God that does not include the capacity for thought. Pro cited a philosopher as an example of "conventional Christian belief," but that very philosopher advanced several arguments for why God can be a timeless entity that does not think. Pro's claim that Christian belief requires a God that thinks is therefore nonsense. I could stop here, because Pro himself acknowledged that not all of Christianity requires that God be a maximally great being, but I'll keep going, because I can refute his other claim, too.


Pro claims that a maximally great being must be able to think. I have shown that this is not the case. A maximally great being holds perfect beliefs, and thinking would entail changing those beliefs. After being changed, those beliefs would no longer be perfect; ergo, a maximally great being cannot change.

In short, Pro wants you to generalize that what makes humans good to what would make a perfect entity perfect. This is ridiculous. Protesting that God must be able to think is like protesting that God must be able to grow, or improve Himself, or learn. These qualities are good for humans because we are not perfect; a perfect being that is able to change its beliefs, grow, improve, or learn is a contradiction.

The resolution is negated. Vote Con.
[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com...;
[2] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...;
Debate Round No. 4
34 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by skipsaweirdo 1 year ago
skipsaweirdo
Calculator obviously missed the confusing cause and effect lecture in logic. But nevertheless this debate has at its core the obvious equivocation fallacy people seem to overlook. "Timeless" does not refer to God not having "a" time, it refers to God being outside of the time with which humanity identifies with in the physical universe. God isn't subjected to the assumed limitations of what humans perceive as "time dependent" ideas.
As in making something , thinking something, or needing something to accomplish things because humanity merely thinks it takes time to do things over time because you need time to accomplish what can be accomplished given the limits of time. (Nothing but circular reasoning)
Posted by calculatedr1sk 3 years ago
calculatedr1sk
Ah, but let me slightly correct myself... in summarizing your position I just realized I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, LayTheologian. You don't quite think Yahweh was merely an imaginary friend overall... yet. You merely see him as standing in as one in that specific context. But that opens the crack for which I must drive the wedge. If Yahweh's brutal commands could be a figment of their imagination in one instance, why not others?
Posted by calculatedr1sk 3 years ago
calculatedr1sk
LayTheologian, you are correct that the Biblical accounts relating to genocide are most reasonably explained as the Israelites using an imaginary friend named Yaweh to to justify to themselves the horrendous and brutal things that they (arguably) had to do in order to survive. This explanation is far more plausible than the belief that the creator of the universe took on the role of an extremely violent real-estate agent.

Rabid.Penguin, you are also correct that if house of cards that is the Old Testament falls, it takes with it any and all Christian claims built upon it.

Gentlemen, I must say that I always enjoy encountering intelligent, thinking Christians... or "future atheists" as I like to think of you as :) I don't mean to frighten you, but unless you are willing to bury your head in the sand and stop asking questions, your days as a Christian are probably numbered. My brothers, you are each about halfway there.

Yahweh, just like Zeus, Ba'al, Thor, Ra, Shiva, etc... exists only in the human imagination. We made him, like we made all other gods. While I agree that it is difficult for humans to govern ourselves, and probably always will be, we are continually refining our systems of governance to the point where we live in a much better world today than the one our ancestors endured. In a sense, Yahweh did contribute to this, since love and respect for the idea of God was clearly a tradition practiced by American settlers and founding fathers. While the God they believed in may not actually exist, some principles found in the Bible are none the less a workable blueprint for what it takes for human society to flourish. Therefore, much like the Chinese were able to flourish with their Confucian moral foundations, or other Asian societies flourish with Buddhist moral foundations, the Judeo-Christian moral foundation in the West did serve as a crude but effective foundation. If our species is to avoid destroying itself now, though, we need to do better.
Posted by LayTheologian 3 years ago
LayTheologian
I'm not saying the OT was fabricated. I'm asking that there are parts of it that don't really seem to mesh with the majority of it.
Posted by Rabid.Penguin 3 years ago
Rabid.Penguin
I completely understand what you're saying, but the New Testament hinges on the Old Testament being accurate. Jesus believed it to be accurate and so did all the apostles. If you're going to trust the resurrection account of the New Testament and place your faith in Jesus as God, why wouldn't you believe the Old Testament like he did? Just curious.

People want to say the God of the New Testament is Love and the God of the Old Testament is wrath. But then they're not reading so closely, because the God in the Old Testament is also Love and the God in the New Testament is also Wrath. The God of the OT and the God of the NT are the same.

Also if you read the OT there are plenty of things the Hebrews did that were so very, very wrong, and it is documented in the OT as such. If the Hebrews wrote the OT to justify their behavior then why is so much of what they did condemned in the Bible?
Posted by LayTheologian 3 years ago
LayTheologian
Because that's the interpretation of the evidence that makes sense to me. I'm a Christian because of what I feel are several good arguments in favor of Christianity -- historical evidence of the Resurrection and arguments in favor of the claim that a deity must have created the Earth. It seems far more likely to me that the Israelites told themselves that God commanded atrocities they performed to justify their actions to themselves than that the loving God of the New Testament ordered genocide. My faith doesn't hinge upon this claim that God didn't order the slaughter of the enemies of Israel. Perhaps he rewarded any of those that did not deserve to die in the afterlife. This is just the interpretation that makes sense to me.
Posted by Rabid.Penguin 3 years ago
Rabid.Penguin
"I'm not entirely convinced a bunch of ignorant goat herders did a fantastic job of writing down what God told them"

Why not? If God did, in fact, inspire goat herders to write the Bible, I'm sure they wrote it down very accurately. Also, Moses was not an ignorant goat herder.
Posted by Rabid.Penguin 3 years ago
Rabid.Penguin
"While my opinion about the cruel, unjust, violent, and nasty character of the Old Testament God understandably doesn't care a lot of weight for you, let's be clear about something... "maximally great"? Forgive me, but it isn't even remotely difficult for me to imagine a better, more merciful, and more loving God than the one described in your Bible. Most children I know have better moral intuition and less jealousy/insecurity issues than YHWH."

I find it interesting that people say this. If God was all merciful people would scream "Where is the justice!" If God was all just people would scream "Where is the mercy!" However, it's a good thing that man did not create God. We can't even agree on how to run our own governments lol. What should be law, what shouldn't. Man would make a terrible God. God is both merciful AND just. God is holy and demands holiness from us as well. All of us have sinned against God and deserve his wrath. So you're asking the wrong question. Why does God have mercy on any of us when we all deserve to die? We all deserve his condemnation. I understand the argument of "What about children though, what have they ever done?" They are products of a sinful and fallen world. Not the world God wanted, but the world we created. God would be just in killing everyone on earth (as He did during the great flood). I encourage you to read the Bible and search for yourself without bias and truly seek answers. I think you'll find that it's not God that is wicked, it's man.
Posted by Rabid.Penguin 3 years ago
Rabid.Penguin
"Since aside from Jesus' Resurrection there isn't much of anything in Christianity that 100% of Christians will agree on, it's sometimes hard for me to to pin down exactly what to refute or how strange the ideas of any particular opponent might be."

That is so true! Although some beliefs are obviously not Biblical (though not obvious to some :p), I don't like it when Christians are extremely dogmatic on an issue that the Bible is not entirely clear on. I can sympathies with the confusion of non-Believers.

"As for the idea of God never changing his mind, that actually runs completely contrary to what scriptures like Exodus 32:14 literally say: "God changed his mind". The kind of mental gymnastics that Christians must necessarily do in order work around these verses can be very entertaining for me."

I understand what you're saying. On the surface it appears as though Moses had convinced God to change His mind. The expression is an anthropomorphic one. God is not man and we cannot possibly understand Him in his totality. Expressions like this are for man's benefit. God, knowing everything, can't possibly literally change his mind. If God knows beforehand the outcome, did he ever really change his mind? But I admit, I haven't studied this enough to really debate the issue with you. I understand your thoughts though.
Posted by LayTheologian 3 years ago
LayTheologian
I'm not entirely convinced a bunch of ignorant goat herders did a fantastic job of writing down what God told them, but whatever floats your boat. That's beside the point, though. One possible response to Exodus 32:14 is that God limits himself in some capacity to allow either for temporal beings to interact with Him or as a way of allowing free will to coexist with omniscience. Sort of like Stapledon's Star Maker. Another is that this changeless consciousness of truth held the concept "if Moses makes an impassioned plea, be merciful, ELSE be vengeful."
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