Different Tan

ladysisyphus writes about why she is a Christian even though she cannot say unequivocally that Jesus Christ is her Lord and Saviour, which, as we all know, is the litmus of such things. People who thought that the Jerry Springer entry was intended to imply that I believed all American Christians were nutters, take note: there is at least one who is not. andrewducker says what I’d have said about truth and facts, in a conversation which reminds me of those I’ve had with cathedral_life.

People who read Hebrew might want to have a look at the huge thread on Creationism that developed under my post here, since some of it relies on what I suspect are standard Creationist assertions about the Hebrew used in Genesis. Or you might not: after I while, I learned to avoid the Creationism threads on uk.r.c, only popping out occasionally to ambush people with physics.

There are more photos of the musicals party, to add to bluap’s. My camera’s rubbish in low light, alas.

Random Flash linkage: To Kill A Mockingbird, Numa Numa. Been doing the rounds, but I mention it in case you’ve not seen it.

Update: I got a comment from someone recommending the CICCU mission talks this year (which have now been and gone). This has started a debate on whether God is just. Read all about it in the comments inside.

56 thoughts on “Different Tan

    1. I’d be happy to continue it. Although maybe this is not the best place as I’m not sure pw201 (can someone tell me how to do the whole hyperlink with a person icon thing?) would want us filling up his journal. Of course, then again, he might…

      1. I would appreciate continuing it in maybe a few weeks. The Christianity explored course has just finished and so I’m partly just enjoying having free time to myself, and when I’m not doing that I’m colecting my thoughts and getting ready to write up my conclusions.

        It would probably be better if I wrote up my argument in its entireity all at once rather than the piecemeal tit for tat way these things occur in comments.

      2. Can’t say I mind you having the discussion on my journal all that much. OTOH if you want to start a new thread on one of yours, I won’t be offended either.

  1. Subject: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
    im sure you’ll be pleased to know that this year’s CICCU mission is starting on Monday. Id like to extend an invitation to you, and anyone who reads this. The lunchtime talks are on monday and tuesday in the large exam hall in cambridge, and in fitzpatrick hall queens’ on wednesday. on wednesday-saturday evenings there will be talks at 8pm in StAG. do see http://www.direction2005.com for more details.

    1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
      Ooh, an advert for CICCU on my journal. Full marks for chutzpah, I suppose.

      im sure you’ll be pleased to know that this year’s CICCU mission is starting on Monday.

      My dear boy (or girl), I am ecstatic. Ecstatic in a way that’s appropriate for me, that is, that is, in a sort of dignified way involving swaying from side to side gently in time to the music, rather than waving my hands in the air or suddenly falling over, or any of that sort of stuff, which, as you know, the Lord finds faintly embarrassing.

      Thing is, I could probably give those talks myself, were I to be qualified by my elevation to the position of Pastor-Teacher in A Church Where The Bible Is Taught Exactly Like It Is At StAG (such elevation seems unlikely at this point, I’ll admit, but, you know, mysterious ways and all that). I know what they’ll say, more or less. Some missions might concentrate on getting alongside your nonchristchunfrends’ paradigms in a sort of Paul-in-the-Areopagus kind of way, whereas others may rely on mad Australians with amusing views about gay people, but the message will be the same: the Good News that a God you’ve previously never heard much from intends to horribly torture you. There’s nothing you yourself can do to save yourself from this fate. But he loves you (I am not alone in finding this love/torture combination slightly kinky, by the way). So he won’t torture you if you Accept Jesus As Your Personal Saviour, because he tortured Jesus instead of you (he couldn’t just let you off, so torturing the wrong person was necessary to meet the demands of perfect justice). I think that’s the central message, all else is window dressing. Did I miss anything?

      While I’m always willing to talk to people who’re reasonably polite, the CICCU mission talks are unlikely to be a productive use of my time (or, I’d argue, anyone else’s).

      1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
        Ahem. I think I’ll have to dip my oar in.

        the Good News that a God you’ve previously never heard much from intends to horribly torture you. There’s nothing you yourself can do to save yourself from this fate. But he loves you (I am not alone in finding this love/torture combination slightly kinky, by the way).

        I can’t help but feel that you are trying to present God as a rather sadistic, malicious, character. Do (did) you believe that God takes pleasure in the death of the wicked?

        the CICCU mission talks are unlikely to be a productive use of my time (or, I’d argue, anyone else’s).

        I must disagree. Knowing people who professed the Christian faith as a consequence of previous missions, and seeing them still living as faithful Christians now, I have to say that on past performance mission talks have been an immensely productive (ok, not quite my word of choice) use of some people’s time.

        1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
          Do (did) you believe that God takes pleasure in the death of the wicked?

          I doubt that God even exists to take pleasure. My point is that the central message, the gospel of CICCU’s brand of Christianity portrays God as a sadist, or at least as functionally equivalent to a sadist. There can be no true love under the threat of violence. I think even some leading evangelicals have realised this and become annihilationists. The fact that Ezekiel has God saying “I’m not enjoying this, you know, I’m only doing it for your own good” doesn’t alter how we’re told God actually behaves, which is all that matters. (I think Ezekiel might be surprised to learn that this passage is read as being about non-Christians going to Hell when he thought he was talking about the punishment of the nation of Israel, too, but I guess there’s a bunch of typology there which allows evangelicals to make that translation).

          I do wonder about the “productiveness” of these missions, even from a Christian perspective. As you know if you heard the same dire warnings as I did from StAG’s leavers’ talk, most student evangelicals do not remain Christians for long after leaving university. Interestingly, the UCCF people on their own web-boards claim not to have the statistics which Carrie Sandom quoted to me on this one, but as Angela Rayner writes: “To say that I keep stumbling upon people with similiar experiences [of leaving evangelical Christianity after university] is an understatement.”

          From my, non-Christian perspective, the talks will give the same glib answers as I’ve heard before, and there’s the worrying possibility that people who hear them will convert to CICCUanity. People are grown-ups and can make their own decisions, of course, but I think the mission talks present a very skewed view of both humanity and Christianity.

          1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
            There can be no true love under the threat of violence.

            That’s a fairly bold and wide-ranging statement (if I’ve understood what you mean by love and violence). Can I take this to mean that you think parents who smack their children do not love them?

            how we’re told God actually behaves, which is all that matters

            You do not think when assessing actions knowing the motivation behind them is important? I’m not a lawyer, but as fair as I’m aware motivations are quite important in trials; this seems quite sensible to me.

            People are grown-ups and can make their own decisions, of course, but I think the mission talks present a very skewed view of both humanity and Christianity.

            What is the unskewed view of humanity and Christianity? (This isn’t intended as a quick retort. I would actually be quite interested in your answer.)

            1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
              Can I take this to mean that you think parents who smack their children do not love them?

              No, although I’m not sure smacking is a good idea. In the context, what I meant was that I find it difficult to see how God both claims to love people and threatens the worst possible violence against them (Hell involving more than spanking, we presume), and how Christians who claim to love God can truly do so when they believe that if they did not, God would do them violence.

              You do not think when assessing actions knowing the motivation behind them is important?

              Sometimes it is. However, what I think the law goes by is intention: if someone intends to kill, it’s murder, if someone kills by accident, it’s manslaughter. God must surely be the one person who never does anything by accident. Someone’s motivation for an intentional killing may lead us to sympathise, or even to a reduced sentence, but they’re no less guilty. And of course, some crimes are so bad that there is no mitigation. Choosing to eternally torture a fair proportion of everyone who ever lived seems to fall into that category to me. I don’t care whether someone claims to have reasons for that, because no reasons could be good enough.

              What is the unskewed view of humanity and Christianity?

              There’s a question that could be the subject of books 🙂 Briefly, on humanity, that within us lies the capability for both great good and great evil. That it is possible to do good without the assistance of supernatural beings. That some people are better than others, and that this matters and is to their credit. And on Christianity, that there entire other traditions of Christianity which do not interpret the Bible the way evangelicals do.

              1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                In the context, what I meant was that I find it difficult to see how God both claims to love people and threatens the worst possible violence against them

                Ah, sorry. I took it mean that you thought there was a logical contradiction in God’s character; this I would have to disagree with which was why I was suggesting you were using a false assumption. That it is difficult to understand all of God’s character, and how the various aspects of his character result in his various actions, is not something I would dispute. I strongly suspect it is impossible for me to do so fully. Of course this does not mean I do not consider it a worthwhile task to seek greater understanding of such things; to know God better.

                how Christians who claim to love God can truly do so when they believe that if they did not, God would do them violence.

                This is where motivations come in again. Christians love God in reponse to the love he has shown us.

                Sometimes it is. However, what I think the law goes by is intention: if someone intends to kill, it’s murder, if someone kills by accident, it’s manslaughter.

                I was thinking more along the topical news line of self-defence. When there is an intruder in my house whom I try to knock unconcious by whacking him over the head with my handy oriental vase I am told the law will treat me differently to if decided to start bashing random people over the head, trying to render them unconcious, because I don’t like them. Both actions are quite deliberate with the same intention, but treated differently due to my motivation.

                Or for another topical example: I think many people when assessing armed conflicts would want to have a look at the motivations of the various people involved. (Of course, there is the pacifist position of saying armed conflict is always wrong, so no motivation can ever justify it. Out of interest would you support that position?)

                1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                  I took it mean that you thought there was a logical contradiction in God’s character
                  Evangelical Christianity is riddled with logical contradictions, you get into all sorts of inescapable conundrums by having an all powerful all knowing God who has ended up with a totally screwed up universe, were God really all powerful and all knowing then this would not have occured (see Wikipedia: The problem of evil).

                  Another one that came up on the Christianity Explored course was that logically God cannot be totally loving (or perfectly loving, or ‘as loving as he could be’) if either some are called or some are chosen irresistably. Of course you could say that either everyone has the choice available to them, or that everyone goes to heaven – neither of these match up with what we see around us, or that everyone goes to heaven – but I don’t think there are many evangelicals who would say that.

                  1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                    Evangelical Christianity is riddled with logical contradictions,

                    Ummm. No it’s not. If you believe you have found one please do post it as a thorough logical arguement, listing *all* of your assumptions, and I will happily tell you which of your assumptions I disagree with. (He says in the hope that you haven’t suddenly come up with some stunning new proof)

                    Out of interest, are you happy with what is wrong with this arguement (or do you think it is a valid argument against God’s omnipotence?):

                    “Can good make a rock big enough so that he cannot lift it?”

                    If the answer is no the is something God cannot do. If the answer is yes the is something God cannot do. So God can’t be omnipotent.

                    I ask, as I feel at some stage I might want to show that other arguments are equivalent to that, so would be helpful now to agree with a simple example that such arguments are invalid.

                    1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      “Can good make a rock big enough so that he cannot lift it?”
                      I would say that that shows fairly clearly that God cannot be omnipotent. Unless God chooses for some reason not to be omnipotent to create such a rock, in which case he loses his omnipotence by choice.

                      If you believe you have found one please do post it as a thorough logical arguement
                      OK, I’ll give it a go – I’ll pass this thread on to a friend of mine who is much better at explaining these things than I.

                      What about this:

                      1. God would not create evil
                      2. God is the only being capable of creating things
                      3. Evil exists
                      4. If only God is capable of creating things and evil exists either God is not the only being capable of creating things, evil does not really exist, or God does not exist.

                      or

                      1. God is omnipotent and omniscient
                      2. God is the only being capable of creating beings
                      3. God would not create evil
                      4. Evil is defined as rebellion against God
                      5. Given two, three, and four: God would not create a being who would rebel against him
                      6. God created the devil
                      7. The devil rebelled against God
                      8. Given six and seven: God created a being who would rebel against him
                      9. Given five and eight: God cannot exist

                      or

                      1. God is perfectly just
                      2. Men commit sin
                      3. If God is just, then God will punish the sin of men
                      4. God can punish Jesus for the sin of mankind
                      5. Hell is the punishment for sin
                      6. Hell can be avoided if Jesus is punished in someone elses place
                      7. God is perfectly loving
                      8. God is able to save anyone
                      9. God can choose who to save
                      10. It is more loving to save everyone than it is to save some
                      11. Not everyone is saved
                      12. If everyone is not saved then God is not perfectly loving

                      or

                      1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
                      2. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
                      3. If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
                      4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
                      5. Evil exists.
                      6. If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
                      7. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

                      or

                      1. If God exists he is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect
                      2. If God exists given that he is morally perfect he would not create evil
                      3. Evil is defined as rebellion against God
                      4. God created Adam and Eve
                      5. Adam and Eve rebelled against God
                      6. God transforms people before they go into heaven so that they will not rebel against him
                      7. God would not create man with the ability to sin if it were avoidable
                      8. Given six: God is able to make man such that he will not rebel against him
                      9. Given four and five: God created man who did rebel against him
                      10. Given eight and nine: God cannot exist
                    2. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      I ask, as I feel at some stage I might want to show that other arguments are equivalent to that, so would be helpful now to agree with a simple example that such arguments are invalid. Such arguments are not logically invalid – they are perfect proofs that God cannot be omnipotent!! Therefore no omnipotent God can exist!

                    3. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Such arguments are not logically invalid – they are perfect proofs that God cannot be omnipotent!! Therefore no omnipotent God can exist!

                      Oh dear. I think then we have very different ideas of what is valid logic. Maybe you would care to explain your idea of what logic is, and how it is used to show contradictions, as if we disagree on that then reasoned discussion becomes kinda pointless.

                      Meanwhile, I will try to explain why I consider this to be a nonsensical play on words, rather than a valid logical proof. My apologies if I am making this sound too simple, I haven’t got a clue what sort of level to aim it at. (How much do you know about logic?)

                      When we have a system, which contain concepts of truth and falsehood, we can seek to show that the system is contradictory by taking true statements in that system, applying the rules of deduction, and showing that we can derive false.

                      We can build up more complex statements by assigning them variables and substituting them into other statements.

                      So in my system with we are starting with an omnipotent (this could require more careful definition later on, but for now we will define it as meaning that he can create a rock of of any size, and can lift a rock of any size) God.
                      So we have the question:

                      “Can God make a rock big enough so that he cannot lift it?”

                      I would rephrase this as:

                      1) “Can God make a Z”

                      2) “Z is a rock big enough that he cannot lift it”

                      Z I would now argue is a meaningless concept. We have defined God being omnipotent as meaning he can lift a rock of any size, so the concept of a rock which he cannot lift is meaningless in this system. (If you don’t find this bit convincing try expressing it to yourself formally in first-order predicate calculus. I would do so myself but typing the symbols would be problematic!)

                      So this definition of Z as as meaningless as saying that Z is a square circle, or Z is a strawberry flavoured electron.

                      (Note: the answer to “Can God make a strawberry flavoured electron?” or “Can God make a four sided triangle?” is not “Yes. God can do anything.” but “Your question is meaningless.”….of course God can make strange flavoured quarks)

                      So our question becomes “Can God make a (meaningless concept)?”

                      This question doesn’t have a true, or false answer, it is nonsense, so then cannot be used in deduction.

                    4. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      I think we’ve just posted the same answer (see mine below).

                      So, do the inhabitants of Heaven have free will?

                    5. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      If you define “omnipotent” to mean “able to do anything which is not logically impossible” then the problem goes away. Nick’s argument is that worrying that God cannot create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it is akin to worrying that God cannot create a square circle or similar, or worrying about what happens when an irresistable force meets an immoveable object. In all cases, the question contains a contradiction and is therefore meaningless.

                      The Problem of Evil is then solved by arguing that a universe in which there is no evil but we still have free will is a logical contradiction. God cannot create a logically contradictory universe and so can’t be blamed for evil. A counter to this is to ask whether the inhabitents of heaven have free will. Discuss [20 marks].

                    6. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      If you define “omnipotent” to mean “able to do anything which is not logically impossible” then the problem goes away. Nick’s argument is that worrying that God cannot create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it is akin to worrying that God cannot create a square circle or similar, or worrying about what happens when an irresistable force meets an immoveable object. In all cases, the question contains a contradiction and is therefore meaningless.
                      Indeed – I was hoping that he would define omnipotent in this way. If we define omnipotent as “Having unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-powerful” for instance that then leads us to having to consider whether or not God created logic, and if not (and so he is in some way constrained by it) then where did it come from?

                      Omnipotence in its pure form cannot be true because as you have pointed out it you can easily show that it would be contradictory, so if God exists he cannot be omnipotent in this way. I’m just reading “The blind watchmaker” by Dawkins, and he makes a similar comment – that if God is constrained to some degree then the real question is what/who is the origin of that constraint, for it cannot be God.

                      The Problem of Evil is then solved by arguing that a universe in which there is no evil but we still have free will is a logical contradiction. God cannot create a logically contradictory universe and so can’t be blamed for evil. A counter to this is to ask whether the inhabitents of heaven have free will. Discuss [20 marks].
                      I am aware of that solution, I was waiting for him to suggest it then I was going to ask whether or not the inhabitants of heaven do have free will :0)

                    7. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Indeed – I was hoping that he would define omnipotent in this way.

                      I quite deliberately did not define it as “able to do anything which is not logically impossible”, my arguement is that logic impossiblities are not things, they are nonentities, they are nonsenses. So by nature of not being things, they don’t enter into the question of “able to do anything”. There is no such thing as a square circle, so a statement about any-thing are not about it.

                      I am aware of that solution, I was waiting for him to suggest it then I was going to ask whether or not the inhabitants of heaven do have free will :0)

                      Ahem. I think I’ll need you to tell me what this free will is you speak of before I answer such a question (also would be nice to know in your view of the world, do you think you have it now?). I suspect I may completely reject your concept of free will, but that might depend on how you define it.

                    8. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      I quite deliberately did not define it as “able to do anything which is not logically impossible”, my arguement is that logic impossiblities are not things, they are nonentities, they are nonsenses.
                      Both statements resolve down to the same thing from your position. God is unable to do something because he is constrained by the system of logic. I would argue that a stronger definition of omnipotence (the first point in the linked Wikipedia entry) would be that he is able to change / ‘exists somehow outside of’ (*cough*) / something the system of logic that we are constrained by.

                      I think I’ll need you to tell me what this free will is you speak of before I answer such a question (also would be nice to know in your view of the world, do you think you have it now?)
                      A highly interesting question :0) I’m not sure I have a good definition, but it would seem to be something like:
                      “Something is said to have free will when it has the ability make choices”

                      Some choices (for instance choosing to no longer have gravity available to me) are possible but cannot be acted out due to physical limitations, others (deciding to love a person) needn’t even result in a physical action.

                      It could be argued that our free will is limited to a large degree by our environment, perhaps this is true – if so then we have less free will in such an environment. I don’t agree with this defintion though as we can will something without being able to act upon it.

                      The heaven problem is rather thorny because even if I am entirely unable to act upon my sinful willful choice it still exists within my head/soul/core program – and as we all know sinful thoughts are just as bad as sinful actions.

                      Then there is the old Christian chesnut that God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose (freedom of will) in the garden of evil because that is a prerequisite of love, without choice they are robots as they love him purely because they have no other choice and so the love is meaningless. This falls to pieces both because it doesn’t deal with the obvious question of how all this relates to the angels (and specifically Satan who decided to rebel against God and so therefore presumably also has free will), and if people are transformed such that they cannot sin in heaven then that ability to choose has been taken from them and so although perhaps they have free will in other respects (choosing what colour socks to wear for instance) they certainly don’t have the ability to love God anymore.

                    9. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Both statements resolve down to the same thing from your position.

                      No they don’t

                      “Can God make a square circle?”

                      What is the response in your description of my position? What is the response in my description of my position?

                      God is unable to do something

                      Are you claiming that square circles are things? I am saying they are non-things, so are not included in some-thing. Or are you claiming that any combination of words (without regard for meaning) define a thing?

                      the system of logic that we are constrained by.

                      This argument actually has nothing to do with God. It is about the system of logic we are using. You seen to be happy using meaningless statements as part of your deductive process, this is not something the systems of logic I use allows! Of course if you do accept meaningless statement as part of proofs (do you?) it does make it very easy for me to prove everything (and anything) I want about God, I just need to start by reciting Jabberwocky:

                      `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
                      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
                      All mimsy were the borogoves,
                      And the mome raths outgrabe.

                      As for free will: free will being a prerequisite for love as far as I can see is an assumption you are making, I would query the necessity and basis of that assumption. I think it is more accurate as describing man as having a will, and this will as being free to X. (For various X, to be defined).

                    10. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      “Can God make a square circle?”
                      What is the response in your description of my position? What is the response in my description of my position?

                      The way they resolve to the same thing is that if god is constrained by the system of logic that God is unable to do something for whatever reason.

                      God is unable to do something
                      Are you claiming that square circles are things? I am saying they are non-things, so are not included in some-thing. Or are you claiming that any combination of words (without regard for meaning) define a thing?

                      The issue here is whether the omnipotent being created the system of logic itself, and therefore whether that being is able to transcend the limitations of logic that we are bound by as limited beings existing within the universe created by the omnipotent being.

                      You seen to be happy using meaningless statements as part of your deductive process
                      No not really. I accept that we are using different definitions of what omnipotence is – yours is the most widely used by theists now, that I accept; but I am not alone in the way I am defining omnipotence. It would seem to be more fruitful to continue on the basis that I understand that with your definition of omnipotence God is only able to do things which are not logically contradictory.

                      As for free will: free will being a prerequisite for love as far as I can see is an assumption you are making, I would query the necessity and basis of that assumption. I think it is more accurate as describing man as having a will, and this will as being free to X. (For various X, to be defined).
                      So if free will is not required for love then presumably a robot could love?

                      One might ask what the point of giving humanity free will in the first place was, the consequence of it (which God would have known in advance) was that humanity fucked up creation by introducing evil into the world (let’s ignore the fact that the devil rebelled before man for the moment!). If man was able to love without free will then it was clearly a mistake for God to give it to man, God could have made mankind able to love him without the fall.

                      I would say that love requires a choice, and for there to be choice one must have free will. Therefore if you do not have free will you cannot choose, and if you can’t choose you can’t love.

                    11. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      >”Can God make a square circle?”

                      Interesting question. If God is omnipotent, in the sense of being able to manipulate the fundamental constants of physics (which is reasonable, given that he created our current universe), then you would probably be able to make it possible to create a quadrilateral with 4 “straight” lines and 4 90-degree angles had its perimeter equidistant from a certain point. (You could probably do this in the current universe, in places where space-time is extremely curved)

                      However creating such a square circle would no-doubt have side effects, such as obliterating any life that existed nearby.

                    12. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Sorry, wasn’t quite clear. I was thinking of circles and squares in the system of Euclidean geometry, where we could present well-defined definitions and deductions, rather than as physical approximations to these concepts in a non-Euclidean universe.

                      Time for a joke: What’s the difference between an engineer, a physicists, and a mathematician?

                      The engineer thinks his equations are approximations of the real world.
                      The physicists thinks the real world is an approximation of his equations.
                      And the mathematician hasn’t spotted the connection yet!

                      C’est drôle parce que c’est vrai!

                    13. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      There are reasonable definitions of “Square” and “Circle” in non-Euclidean geometries.

                      And it is possible to find geometries whereby some squares and indeed circles.

                    14. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Yes, of course. So to go back to the original point of the question.

                      If we are reasoning in a non-Euclidian system, where a square and circle are not mutually exclusive, the question “Can God make a square circle?” is meaningful.

                      If we are reasoning in a Euclidean system, the question “Can God make a square circle?” is meaningless.

                      If we are reasoning in a system with an omnipotent deity, (which we need to be doing to show a contradiction in such a system), the phrase “a rock so big God can’t lift” is similarly meaningless.

                    15. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Yes but that assumes that the deity is constrained by that system of reasoning that we are using, were a deity the first cause one might imagine that they created the system of logic. Of course it may be that it is impossible to define such a deity using a system of logic that the deity is not bound by.

                      So the system of logic being used may be insufficient to convey the capabilities of a God who is not bound by it, rather that the question itself being meaningless.

                    16. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      So the system of logic being used may be insufficient to convey the capabilities of a God who is not bound by it, rather that the question itself being meaningless.

                      Bingo! Correct! That is a very good conclusion.

                      Whatever system of logic we use may very well be insufficient to describe God completely. Almost all attempts to do so will simplfy has character, so any conclusions reached (or contradictions shown) in these logical system should be treated with extreme caution as they are probably dealing with a distorted concept of God. I do agree with cathedral_life that I don’t so much define God as confess the God made know to us through Jesus Christ. The purpose of my statements about logic are not to suggest that they are a good way to know God, but to refute the allegation that logical can be used to disprove God by showing he is self-contradictory.

                      Maybe I should suffix all my words with “in the logical system”. When we form arguements about God “in a logical system” we are talking about a concept of God as defined “in that logical system”. We are forming questions “in that logical system”, which must be meaningful “in that logical system”. How statements in this system relate to the real world is another question!

                      It is possible for a question to be meaningful in a different logical system to the one we are using (cf. square circle in Euclidean/non-Euclidean geometry). But to reach conclusions “in that logical system” it must be meaningful “in that logical system” rather than “in another logical system”.

                    17. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Whatever system of logic we use may very well be insufficient to describe God completely.
                      Possibly that is true – but we should expect Gods actions within the world we inhabit not to be contradictory. This is especially true of a god who wants to be known by the inhabitants of the world she has created, acting in a way that makes belief in her illogical would be a very cruel thing to do.

                      Almost all attempts to do so will simplfy has character, so any conclusions reached (or contradictions shown) in these logical system should be treated with extreme caution as they are probably dealing with a distorted concept of God.
                      Ah – so where there are any contradictions or ways in which we can see that Christianity is false it’s because the answers are beyond us? How convinient! I find Santa Claus operates in much the same way.

                      I don’t so much define God as confess the God made know to us through Jesus Christ
                      We know very little if anything for certain about Jesus Christ. There is very limited and disputed evidence from secondary sources about who he was and what he did (in fact some respected scholars question whether he did in fact exist at all). So if we are to know God through Jesus Christ then we can’t really be sure who God is at all. Some Christians (presumably including yourself) would say that they experience God’s presence internally, or that they have a personal relationship with God – unfortunately people have these kinds of experiences in other religions as well, so that’s hardly a reliable source of evidence!

                      It’s ridiculous to believe in a God who is all powerful, who wants everyone to know about him but stubbornly refuses to be plainly obvious. Many who earnestly seek God (such as myself) question why God is so hidden if indeed he does want us to know about himself. Some have said (on the CE course for instance) that if God were to make his existence obvious it would take away my choice (although its never explained why this is a bad thing), this can’t be the case because JC made it obvious that he was God to the disciples and the people he performed miracles to and yet they still had the ability to choose not to follow. Others say that we need to have “faith” where faith is defined more or less as believeing in something although there is no good evidence to do so (or at least no good evidence compared to many other religions) – I might as well believe in Allah, and other god, or pixies.

                      The purpose of my statements about logic are not to suggest that they are a good way to know God, but to refute the allegation that logical can be used to disprove God by showing he is self-contradictory.
                      So if there is a clear contradiction your answer is what exactly? One might wonder if there is anything you could be shown that would end your belief. I was talking to a doctor of psychology the other night, and he said he had found this quite often with (Evangelical, and *perhaps* other) Christians – their position is extremely inflexible, they aren’t interested in finding out what is true, or listening if their position is shown to be incorrect; in fact one person commented to me recently “I don’t care if you show me conclusively that God doesn’t exist, I’ll still believe in him”.

                      We are forming questions “in that logical system”, which must be meaningful “in that logical system”. How statements in this system relate to the real world is another question!
                      Does it follow from your statement that in your opinion is the world removed from logic?

                    18. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Does it follow from your statement that in your opinion is the world removed from logic?

                      I think this covers many points. I do not believe the world is removed from logic, what I think we, or scientifically minded people like myself, do is create logical systems to create models which fit the world around us. These models aren’t the real world, but the are useful to understand it. These are what the laws of physics, and every other scientific theory are: models which make sense of the world around us. So our models and the world aren’t the same, but they would appear to have a connection, exactly what it is I’m not too sure I can describe. (Maybe someone else who studied HPS might be able to help?)

                      When you talk say things like contradictory and illogical you do have to make sure you have described the system you are working in.

                      So if there is a clear contradiction your answer is what exactly? One might wonder if there is anything you could be shown that would end your belief.

                      You can end my belief by showing me a view of the world which covers the variety of different areas of life that Christianity does; makes more sense of the things which are hard to understand in Christianity; and contains a better hope than that which I have in Christ crucified. If you have found one: do tell me!

                      Some Christians (presumably including yourself) would say that they experience God’s presence internally, or that they have a personal relationship with God – unfortunately people have these kinds of experiences in other religions as well, so that’s hardly a reliable source of evidence!

                      I would say the Christian experience is an internal confirmation (by the Holy Spirit) of the external evidence in the bible. So can be both subjective and objective at once!

                      Oh, on a side note, may I suggest it worthwhile investigating if historians find primary or secondary sources to be more accurate. And what exactly are good criteria to decide if someone existed, etc..

                2. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                  I took it mean that you thought there was a logical contradiction in God’s character; this I would have to disagree with which was why I was suggesting you were using a false assumption

                  I think there is a contradiction between claiming to love everyone and doing some people infinite harm. As robhu points out, the parallel with limited amounts of harm doesn’t apply here (unless you’re suggesting that hell is finite, but I thought that evangelicals weren’t allowed to believe in Purgatory). Either God is not universally loving or he does not send people to Hell: Christians have chosen variations on those themes at various times, I think.

                  Christians love God in reponse to the love he has shown us.

                  Indeed, but my point was that love can hardly be seen as healthy when it is given under the threat of violence: it really does sound like the sort of Stockholm Syndrome stuff which Wednesday’s Usenet posting talks about. Christians seem cast in the role of the beaten wife who makes excuses for her husband (“he loves me really; he’s done so much for me; I deserve it”).

                  I was thinking more along the topical news line of self-defence.

                  A key test for self-defence is whether it is proportionate (so you’re not allowed to shoot someone who merely looks at you funny, or similar). I do believe that war can be justified sometimes, but again a key test for a just war is proportionality. In both cases, the analogy to punishment in Hell does not apply, since Hell is portrayed as an infinite punishment for a finite offence.

                  In conclusion then, the standard evangelical doctrine of Hell contradicts the idea that God is universally loving, and portrays God as abusive and unjust.

                  I do wonder whether there is anything which God could to which you would see as wrong, or whether anything he does is correct by definition.

                  1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                    I think there is a contradiction between claiming to love everyone and doing some people infinite harm.

                    I don’t think you can just say the two things are contradictory. You’re starting with an emotion (love), and ending with an action (harm). I think it is necessary to say how the two are related (emotions and actions) before claiming an emotion and an action are contradictory.

                    As [info]robhu points out, the parallel with limited amounts of harm

                    As I’ve pointed out in another reply my aim was not to suggest parrallel or anology, but to query some of your original statements, which I felt were key to your reasoning. (no love with violence. actions assessed apart from motivations)

                    Either God is not universally loving or he does not send people to Hell: Christians have chosen variations on those themes at various times, I think.

                    Christians have throughout history affirmed both of those truths.

                    Christians seem cast in the role of the beaten wife who makes excuses for her husband (“he loves me really; he’s done so much for me; I deserve it”).

                    Such parallels completely ignore God’s right to judge his creatures.

                    In conclusion then, the standard evangelical doctrine of Hell contradicts the idea that God is universally loving, and portrays God as abusive and unjust.

                    Would you consider a non-infinite Hell to contradict the idea that God is universally loving? And be abusive and unjust?

                    (I haven’t tried this line of reasoning, so be prepared for me to back-track quickly. But the prescence of the word infinite does make my inner-mathmo think an analysis style of arguement might be valid.)

                    I do wonder whether there is anything which God could to which you would see as wrong, or whether anything he does is correct by definition.

                    Correct by definition.

                    1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      I don’t think you can just say the two things are contradictory. You’re starting with an emotion (love), and ending with an action (harm). I think it is necessary to say how the two are related (emotions and actions) before claiming an emotion and an action are contradictory.

                      If by love we mean the pure form of agape or charity which always seeks the highest good for its object, it is hard to see how that good is advanced by sending the person to Hell, wouldn’t you say?

                      Christians have throughout history affirmed both of those truths.

                      What, that God is not universally loving and doesn’t send people to hell? 🙂

                      Such parallels completely ignore God’s right to judge his creatures.

                      God does not have that right, or at least not an unqualified right. If he stands in relation to us as a parent to a child, we do not allow earthly parents to torture their children, even if the parents think it will do them good. God as envisaged by evangelical Christians is all-powerful and so has the ability to judge, but I don’t believe his might makes him right.

                      Would you consider a non-infinite Hell to contradict the idea that God is universally loving? And be abusive and unjust?

                      Depends on how non-infinite it is and what the experience is like (and what happens at the end of this non-infinite experience). As I said, it’s about proportionality. We recognise that some people escape punishment for their crimes in this life, and so some kind of court in an afterlife is not necessarily immoral. However, evangelical Christianity posits that we are all guilty, another point I’d disagree with.

                      Correct by definition.

                      So if God appears to you (or sends an angel, perhaps) and tells you to go on a killing spree or similar, in an old fashioned OT style, would you do it?

                    2. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      If by love we mean the pure form

                      I don’t think by love I mean what you mean by pure form. I understand your pure form to mean: in the abscence of other emotions/motivations. Would you say that is accurate? If that is the case, your reasoning stands.

                      My issue (which was the point of how emotions result in actions) is that all we know about God’s character is not just his love, but also that he is just, he desires his own glory, etc..

                      First I would say that emotions (I want a better word to suggest the more deep-felt emotions which make up our character, rather the fickle emotions which vary from day to day) can easily appear contradictory without being so. The obvious example being how it is possible to both love and hate someone. (Has often been said how the opposite of love is indifference, not hate).

                      I would then think about how these result in action. I would say God’s intellect works from these complex motivations to form actions. He uses his wisdom to harmonize these motivations and form effective choices, his actions.

                      This is my model of how a mind works. So I would agree you contradiction stands if we have love by itself, in its “pure form”. But I would say this is not the case with God. He does have a genuine, universal, love. And also has a desire for justice, amongst other things, which is why what we don’t get the actions we would expect if he had just that love.

                      God does not have that right, or at least not an unqualified right.

                      !!! On what basis would you qualify God’s right about anything?

                      If he stands in relation to us as a parent to a child,

                      I should probably say that I don’t think he does stand in relation to you as a parent to a child. That’s the relationship between God, the Father, and the Christian.

                      As I said, it’s about proportionality. We recognise that some people escape punishment for their crimes in this life, and so some kind of court in an afterlife is not necessarily immoral. However, evangelical Christianity posits that we are all guilty, another point I’d disagree with.

                      Hummmm. Depends what the crime being punished is. I’m guessing you’re not too bothered about sins against God?

                      So if God appears to you (or sends an angel, perhaps) and tells you to go on a killing spree or similar, in an old fashioned OT style, would you do it?

                      I’m reluctant to say what I would do in situations I’ve never been even vagualy close to. But what I can do is affirm that when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham was right to obey. I would like to say my faith was strong enough for me to have done the same, but as I said I am reluctant to do so, never having had it be tested in such a way.

                    3. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      I understand your pure form to mean: in the abscence of other emotions/motivations. Would you say that is accurate?

                      That’s not quite what I was getting at. I was thinking of the different kinds of love (as explored in C.S. Lewis’s book, say), and thinking about the kind of love which was the selfless, charitable kind, rather than the kind which included in it a desire to possess, say.

                      [God] also has a desire for justice, amongst other things, which is why what we don’t get the actions we would expect if he had just that love.

                      I think I’m starting to see the point made by Wednesday in her article, where she writes that Christians use the word justice in a way which is quite alien to how most people understand it. The “justice” of God seems more like bullying: demanding worship and perfection from people who cannot match up to his ideals, and taking his wrath out against the wrong person (ignoring for a moment that that person is also supposed to be God).

                      !!! On what basis would you qualify God’s right about anything?

                      On the basis of my own moral sense. What else do you do? Even if you truly have abdicated this in favour of the belief that whatever God says (or rather whatever the evangelical interpretation of the Bible says) goes, you must at some stage have considered whether God was someone you wanted to know, which in part must mean someone good.

                      I also believe that God should be at least as good as he expects his followers to be, so in a sense I’m against hypocrisy on his part.

                      I should probably say that I don’t think he does stand in relation to you as a parent to a child. That’s the relationship between God, the Father, and the Christian.

                      In John’s “children of God” sense, yes, but in the wider sense of someone who, we are told, created and sustains us, this includes everyone. As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” Paul is not addressing Christians here. Parents as creators have a responsibility to, as well as an authority over, their creations. We do not consider a parent moral if the child disobeys them and then they shove the child in the oven.

                      Depends what the crime being punished is. I’m guessing you’re not too bothered about sins against God?

                      I am puzzled by the concept of sins against God’s person, since God as portrayed by Christianity cannot be hurt by our actions. I can understand sins against goodness, but crucially I do not believe a failure to become a Christian is such a sin.

                      I would like to say my faith was strong enough for me to have done the same, but as I said I am reluctant to do so, never having had it be tested in such a way.

                      In a way, I hope your faith would not be strong enough. One of the most worrying things about religion is its capacity for making people think that hurting others is OK because God has said so.

                    4. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      I think I’m starting to see the point made by Wednesday in her article, where she writes that Christians use the word justice in a way which is quite alien to how most people understand it.

                      Have read her article, she does have a point that the common understanding today is different to the Christian use, but the other guy is right that this is quite a recent development. Also I think the definition has been changing recently as people move away from the “1960s liberal consensus”

                      Let me explain. I think an important feature of the Christian view of justice is that wrongdoing demands punishment. At the end of the last century the view of justice has changed to focus on rehabilitation and prevention and the cause of crime. Now people have realised that there are problems with this and are moving back towards an understanding of justice which seeks to punish wrongdoing again as well. Or maybe I am reading too much into the current political rhetoric.

                      Another issue is the basis on which we are judge (re: sins again God), hopefully will write more on that when I get a chance.

                    5. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Inspired by the continuing discussion on atreic‘s journal, I take up my keyboard again…

                      I don’t think that either Wednesday or I are saying that people who commit crimes should go unpunished, though. Rather, we’re talking about the requirements of what I’d call justice, namely that the punishment be proportionate to the crime and that the person punished should actually be guilty of something. Neither of these requirements seem to be to be ridiculous liberal myths.

                    6. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      I must admit I’ve developed a general principal (which has been thrown out of the window in atreic‘s journal!) in these LJ discussions that once we hit 50 comments and the comments get hidden it is time to shut up.

                      Anyway, it’s good to hear that you do think wrongdoing should be punished. I would say that there are people who would disagree, who I was evidently incorrectly grouping you with. (Was recently discussing justice with a doctor who was of the opinion that in was unjust to imprison Harrold Shipman, this was just pandering to our irrational human emotional desire to punish. Rather that removing his medical licence was all justice required as this would prevent further crimes as he showed no risks of harming people other than his patients.)

                      1) What are we guilty of? Rejecting God. The person who created us and sustains us. What limit would you put on the punishment for such a crime? If God is of “infinite” worth, an “infinite” punishment would be proportionate. What other punishment would you put on this? (I’m slightly cautious about the use of the word “infinite” as to me it implicitly implies some sort of scale we are measuring these things on, which I’m not entirely convinced is helpful)

                      2) How are we found guilty? (I think this has the more interesting answer). We are judged on the basis of how we respond to the revealed will of God. Clearly not everyone has the same degree of knowledge of God’s will, this will be taken into account. Someone like yourself who has had the privelege of hearing God’s word taught will be judged more harshly than someone who hasn’t. But even he who has never heard God’s word still has God revealing his law to them through their consciences (I’m thinking Romans 2) which gives them ideas of right and wrong. So when the person who has never heard anything else from God does what their conscience tells them is wrong they are still rejecting God’s will. So on the basis can be found guilty.

                      Do you think this is a fair basis to judge people without any other revelation? What their own consciences tell them is right and wrong (which they use to judge other people in this world)?

                    7. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Hmm… I’m not sure what I do think of punishment, now you mention it. The standard punishment for murder in the Culture is ostracization and being followed by a robot for the rest of your life, who’ll make sure you never do it again. Given that the murdered person cannot be returned, arguably there’s nothing wrong with that as a means of dealing with it. Prison also prevents the person commiting more crime while they’re locked up and servers as a deterrent, both of which are valuable things without insisting on retribution.

                      What are we guilty of? Rejecting God.

                      Nope. We’re guilty of rejecting what someone else tells us is God. The being himself has not put in an appearance to ask whether we reject him or not. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect us to dedicate our lives to an invisible entity because some door-to-door salesmen tell us we ought to. There are lots of gods, and even lots of variants on the Christian God (q.v. recent discussions on atreic‘s journal), vying for our attention. EvangelicalChristianGod doesn’t seem very interested in making his desires known in a way which would make people hear him above the noise. I know that Christians are God’s ambassadors and all that, but there’s the obvious question of why he needs any, what with all the omniscience and omnipresence.

                      Even if we admit he might exist, EvangelicalChristianGod has a few questions to answer. Just because he’s the creator doesn’t mean he’s allowed to get away with anything. But again, it’s worse because he’s not actually around to defend himself. I’m sure, what with him being wise and benevolent, that the problems I have could be cleared up after a bit of a chat, and then we could all be friends. This insistence that everyone gambles their eternity on which god really does have the power to send them to Hell is nothing short of silly. It’s comically messed up.

                      Someone like yourself who has had the privelege of hearing God’s word taught will be judged more harshly than someone who hasn’t.

                      So what you’re saying is that Hank will beat the shit out of me when I leave town unless I kiss his ass? Is he available for chess matches or fiddling competions in an attempt to avert this (you may tell me that’s the wrong supernatural being, however, the difference isn’t so obvious from where I’m sitting)? How about poker? Erm, ballroom dancing?

                      To be serious for a moment, my position is that there were some things of value in Christianity, certainly, but that I could not honestly continue in it any longer. Either God values honesty and people who try to do what they think is right, in which case I’m OK anyway, or he doesn’t exist, in which case it doesn’t matter, or he really is a cosmic jobsworth, in which case he’s certainly not deserving of worship.

                      Do you think this is a fair basis to judge people without any other revelation? What their own consciences tell them is right and wrong (which they use to judge other people in this world)?

                      I don’t think that is fair, because some people are fairly amoral and don’t appear to be overly troubled by their consciences, whereas other good people constantly feel they’re not good enough. However, I suppose most people think they’re basically doing alright, and therefore if your description of how judgement works is true, it is vitally important to shoot missionaries and evangelists on sight. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, as someone once said.

                      There are also people whose consciences conflict with what you think of as revelation, of course. What are they to do?

                    8. Subject: Justice
                      Hummmm. I’ve been trying to think what the best way to answer this is. (In some ways I must admit I am more interested in the meta-argument rather than the actual argument itself!)

                      We have different ideas of what justice is, which means clearly we are going to disagree if something is just. So in someways unless we can agree which definitions we should be using there is really not much point in arguing anything from those definitions!

                      My thinking is that if you are trying to show that what someone believes is inconsistent then you are obliged to work from their definitions. If you are trying to convince someone that your beliefs fit into their view of the world then you have to work with their definitions, or demonstrate that their definitions are wrong.

                      Looking back at the thread, I think that your arguement is not that I am being inconsistent, but that my beliefs about God’s justice don’t fit with your view of justice. So I think the way forward is for me to find out what your definition of justice is and try to establish why I think it is wrong.

                      So, thinking about justice (and using concepts from our justice system as the basis for what is considered just) I think we need to work out which of the following are part of justice:

                      1) Wrong-doing being punished
                      2) Ignorance of the law not being an excuse
                      3) Claiming the devil made me do it (or I guess modern day: I’m genetically predisposed to criminal behaviour) not being an excuse

                      (Actually I’m particularly interested in what you think about 2, and whether it should be part of our justice system, and why. I will add, that my argument is not, and will not become, that you being ignorant is not an excuse, as I do not think you are ignorant. Just thought when typing that that is part of our justice system, for quite good reasons.)

                      I think if you do away with 1 you run into big problems deciding what to do about people who commit “crimes of passion” in the heat of the moment, as deterrence and preventing reoffending, rehabilitation become weaker arguements.

                      I mention 3 as it might be useful to have a view on if issues about God’s sovereignty and our responsibility come up later.

                      On the whole Hank thing, I’m guessing “kiss Hank’s ass” is meant to be a witty metaphor for “repent and believe” and “Hank will beat the shit out of me” is describing God’s punishment of sin. In which case I would point out that the Christian claim is not that sin is not punished, but that Christians are in union with Christ who faces that punishment for us. (It is important that I mention that we are united with Christ. Otherwise there is the obvious question of how is it just that someone else is punished for what I’ve done wrong.)

                      I’m not convinced God turning up for a chat would really make any difference at all. The last time he did we nailed him to a tree! Out of interest, if you were about at the time, witnessing the miracles Jesus did, do you think you would have followed him, or would you have told him his teaching on hell, for example, were wrong and unjust? I think the main thing greater revelation from God does is help people solidfy the positions they are in already.

                      Not too sure what you mean by cosmic jobsworth…

                      Oh, and one final comment. God doesn’t need anything, he chooses to achieve his purposes through his means of choice.

                      Oh dear, that was rather more rambly than my usual comment. I guess mainly as I haven’t decided what is the best point to argue. My apologies for that.

                      Meanwhile at some stage I should probably post something about WAP, and how I think using theories which rely on an multiverse of other universes we can never possibly observe is really rather curious from people who say the evidence for God is not enough! But that’s for another time.

                    9. Subject: Re: Justice
                      I’m guessing “kiss Hank’s ass” is meant to be a witty metaphor

                      It’s a reference to this story, which I found quite amusing.

                      Will reply to the rest at a later date.

                    10. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                      Hummmm. Depends what the crime being punished is. I’m guessing you’re not too bothered about sins against God?
                      I think you’ve missed the point on proportionality.

                      Whatever sins may have been committed against God they are finite, yet God’s punishment of those crimes are infinite. God is not just by any common meaning of the word – no one would consider being burnt alive for an infinite period of time to be a proportional fair punishment for any crime. In this way we can say that the Evangelical god is not just.

              1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                Clearly there is a difference

                I was unaware I was saying it was the same as anything! I was querying what I thought was an invalid assertion <lj user>pw201 was making, that “There can be no true love under the threat of violence”, by seeing how it would hold in different situations. (eg. parental discipling of children)

                1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                  Ah my apologies. It did seem to me as if you were saying that there was some kind of relationship between God punishing humanity in hell, and a loving parent punishing their children. Of course this cannot be the case :0)

          2. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
            I do wonder about the “productiveness” of these missions, even from a Christian perspective. As you know if you heard the same dire warnings as I did from StAG’s leavers’ talk, most student evangelicals do not remain Christians for long after leaving university. Perhaps they are useful as they continue to drum into the students a fear of hell which hopefully will stop them from leaving the church or thinking about what they are being told. When I stopped being a Christian although I had no reason to believe that Christianity was true I was terrified of going to hell – the idea of how awful it is gets drummed into you so deeply that fear can motivate you into going to church. Someone who left the CU at Derby said to me a few months ago that they were amazed that I was no longer a Christian, when I asked why they said that they didn’t understand why I would want to go to hell! This also seemed to be a core reason for them being a Christian themselves.

            1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
              I haven’t the faintest idea whether God could square a circle or why evil exists. Indeed, the question that has always seemed pertinent to me is that of why /so much/ evil exists. It seems that God knows it exists, and works amongst its existence (or the absence of good) in the person of Christ. I can’t decide whether it’s the best objection to Christianity or one of the worst. Some of the Christians I know are people one could describe as having suffered a great many evils, and yet they still continue to come to Church.

              However, I think that the practice of Christianity on the basis that one considers oneself hell-ward bound without such practice is bad practice. Here is Gerard Manley Hopkin’s poem, which I think gives a far better reason for loving God: http://www.cybertime.net/~ajgood/ilove.html The crucial lines being: “Not for heaven’s sake; not to be
              Out of hell by loving thee; Not for any gains I see;”.

              I love the idea of the radical non-utility of that. “Not for any gains I see…” Wonderful. I don’t know if it’s true, but I very much like the sentiment.

              1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                It’s a logical problem for theists (who define God as defined above). If I were to say that Santa Claus exists, has the power to give every child who is good a present, and wants to do so – the existence of good children who don’t get presents (for example) means that such a Santa Claus cannot exist (although some other type of Santa Claus might).

                Logic is I think quite useful, it allows us to make a reasonably good decision on whether something is true or not. Otherwise one might believe anything. The more you try to take reason (well – and to some degree a God who can objectively be demonstrated to exist in any way) the more you end up with a dragon in your garage.

                1. Subject: Re: This year's CICCU Main Event – DIRECTION
                  I don’t know that I define God as defined above. I don’t so much define God as confess the God who is made known to us through Jesus Christ and recognised as the God of Abraham and Sarah.

                  See here:

                  http://www.garnertedarmstrong.ws/Mark_Wordfroms/Tsunami1/tsunami1-7.shtml

                  For what it’s worth, I just love having a dragon in my garage. The problem is that she fights with the invisible pink unicorn…

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