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Hell and God’s Goodness

Although this article will address the content of certain theological doctrines, it is written from a purely philosophical perspective. This is the same method used consistently in my book, Origin of the Human Species, in which I examine how evolutionary theory comports with divine revelation and philosophy. What characterizes philosophical analysis of theological doctrine is that reason alone is the method employed. Thus, while the philosopher as such cannot say whether the Trinity is factual, he can still examine whether it appears rationally possible.

The Scandalous Problem

Here I will examine the theological doctrine of hell to see whether it is compatible with the God of classical theism, who is claimed to be all good, all loving, and all merciful.

Many skeptics seem to think it is obvious that an all good and loving God could not possibly consign a fallible human being to the unimaginable, interminable, excruciating pain of physical fire and other torments in the form of punishment known as hell – a sanction for sin from which there is no appeal and no hope of future release. Surely, no good God and no compassionate human being could possibly even contemplate such unmerciful treatment of a human soul, merely because she made errors of choice during a single short lifetime.

One Aspect of the Solution

I do not intend to address every possible solution to this specific variation of the well-known problem of evil – a topic I have dealt with in more general terms elsewhere. Among possible solutions, it is argued that God permits evils, including physical suffering, for some greater good, which the human mind cannot grasp. Since metaphysics proves that God is all good, it necessarily follows that any evil found in the world cannot be his fault. Perhaps, the misuse of free will by certain creatures (angelic or human) has led to the introduction of evils unintended by God. Perhaps, man’s misuse of free will calls forth from divine retributive justice a punishment which seems severe, but which must be measured in terms of the infinite goodness which grievous sins offend – thus requiring the eternal pains of hell as a just punishment.

Pointedly, since God is the transcendent Law Giver, he is not bound by the natural laws that apply to creatures. Rather, it belongs exclusively to him to administer retributive justice to those who violate his laws – natural and divine. This means that it is good that God punish the wicked as part of his overall plan of creating and governing a good and just world.

But Why the Pains of Hell?

Still, I focus here on the specific question posed by some skeptics as to why an all good God would submit departed souls to eternal physical pain and suffering, even in its most agonizing form of physical fire?

Certainly, it appears at first glance that such suffering is nothing but an act of pure vengeance on the part of God. Indeed, does not Scripture declare, “Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord”1? But, how can revenge be reconciled with the concept of a loving God?

Yet, while revenge is not an act permitted to mere mortals, it does have a legitimate meaning properly reserved to God as the ultimate administrator of retributive justice. Retributive justice is not just “getting back” at someone, but the restoration of the proper order of things – an order in which each person gets exactly what he deserves, including proper punishment for his evil deeds. Moreover, it must be understood that this right belongs in its highest instance to God alone as creator and supreme lawgiver.

Should such retributive justice include the fire of hell? And, if so, how can this be reconciled with the belief that God is all good and loving and merciful?

The Specific Solution

Most skeptics’ accusations against the punishments of hell are made on the supposition that even the Christian understanding of creation does not justify such eternal sufferings.

I will show that this divine retribution is consistent with the general order of creation presented in Christian sources as well as with the infinite goodness, justice, and mercy of the God of classical theism.

Among the central doctrines of Christianity is that man’s last end – the ultimate purpose of his very being – is to be united with God for all eternity in a face to face encounter with the divine being, what Catholics call the Beatific Vision.

But, in this present life, we do not enjoy the Beatific Vision. Does that mean that we are already in hell? Well, yes and no. Yes, in the sense that we are presently lacking the ultimate end of God’s intention in creating our nature. But, more importantly, we are not now in hell, in the sense that this is neither a punishment nor necessarily an eternal condition.

The essential meaning of hell is (1) that we finally understand fully that the Beatific Vision is the sole reason for our creation as human beings and the sole thing fully worth accomplishing in our existence, (2) to know that this end will for all eternity be denied to us, and (3) to know that this ultimate failure of our existential purpose is totally and completely our own fault and no one else’s.

All this being the case, why does not God simply punish bad lives by letting us merely fail to accomplish our intended final bliss in exactly the manner just described? Why is the threat of extreme physical punishment seemingly arbitrarily and capriciously attached to this natural spiritual sanction for a wicked life?

Man is a Rational Animal

Man’s uniqueness is that his spiritual, rational soul is embodied in an animal nature. Being an animal means that our nature is that of a sentient organism. We have senses. Our sensitive appetites help us achieve the good of the individual and of the species by making us seek sensible goods and avoid sensible evils. The natural good that accompanies attaining the sensible good is pleasure. The natural evil that accompanies experiencing sensible evil is pain. Thus, we are strongly motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain.

It is not merely man’s spiritual soul that is aimed at his last end, but rather it is his whole human nature – spirit and matter, soul and body – that either attains his last end or fails to attain it through his own fault.

For this reason, we should not be surprised to discover an important role is played by bodily sense knowledge with respect to how and whether man reaches his last end, the Vision of God.

If we believed that missing our last end meant merely never seeing God in his very essence – never having the Beatific Vision, that might not be a sufficient reason for many people to lead virtuous lives. Such a “purely spiritual” motivation might not move us the way that we, like other animals, can be intensely motivated by desire for pleasure and, even more so, fear of agonizing pain!

Many would say that they do not presently miss God’s presence all that much in this life anyway, so why worry about missing him permanently in the next? In truth, we are not moved decisively in this present life toward God in all our choices -- despite many of us knowing, in theory at least, that he is the highest good.

In a word, to many people in this life, if all they thought the end of life entailed was attainment of the Vision of God, they might well be inclined to forgo that final destiny, since they would easily not value it as much as the earthly pleasures they know would never lead them to such alleged heavenly bliss!

But God made man to fear physical pain – and properly so, since it moves us to avoid dangers to our well-being both as individuals and for the sake of our species’ survival.

Therefore, it makes eminent sense that God would use man’s intense fear of great pain to motivate him to reach his last end. Once in the next life, man will clearly know the value of the spiritual reward of the Beatific Vision. Those who fail to attain that true last end through their own fault will then have the appalling realization of failing to attain the very purpose of their existence. But, in this life, the intensity of most human beings’ motivation is focused on sensible rewards and punishments, on pleasure and pain.

Thus, the realistic possibility of knowing that we may fall through grave sin into an eternal pit of most intense physical pain would be, for most mortal men, the strongest possible motivation to live an essentially good life – a life best ordered to avoiding the physical suffering of eternal damnation.

God's Love

Is letting sinners go to hell then truly an act of simple retributive justice on the part of God? Is God seeking merely to punish their moral evil by allowing them to fall into the pits of hell?

On the contrary, it is the greatest act of love on God’s part to make certain that men are motivated as strongly as possible to seek and attain what is, in truth and in fact, the greatest possible happiness -- the eternal Beatific Vision.

In other words, we humans do not properly value what will make us happiest in the long run, and thus, through our own craven ignorance of proper goods, fail to attain the perfect bliss God wills for all men in his act of creating them. Hence, God makes certain that we are properly motivated to seek our true and most perfect end, by graphically placing before us the sensible horror that confronts those who willfully fail to attain their proper last end.

But Most People Don't Even Believe in Hell!

That is quite true. And, even among those who should do so – based on their religion’s public doctrines, a large number do not believe in hell’s physical reality. Of the roughly 7.6 billion people on Earth as of 2018, about 55% belong to Judaism, Christianity, or Islam – all of which religions have some real notion of hell. That makes for some four billion people. If even half of this total take the torments of hell seriously, as probably do, that makes a total of about two billion people – or roughly a quarter of the world’s population – that believes in the real pains of hell.

Therefore, a good portion of humanity is motivated by the physical pains of hell to seek salvation seriously. Fear of hell can well be the beginning motivation that leads one to those religious practices, which, in turn, may lead to a more mature and deeper appreciation that one’s highest motivation should be, not fear of hell, but love of God because of his infinite goodness and perfection.

St. Thomas makes much the same point: “From becoming accustomed to avoid evil and fulfill what is good, on account of the fear of punishment, one is sometimes led on to do so likewise, with delight and of one's own accord. Accordingly, the law, even through punishing, leads men to being good.” (Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 92, a. 2, ad 4.)2

Thus, the fear of hell may set one on a path leading to virtuous living for its own sake. This, in turn, can lead to the true understanding that union with God is the essence of heaven and our proper last end.

While eternal life for the inhabitants of paradise in Islam is usually associated with sensual pleasures, Islamic teaching also affirms that “the most acceptable of them with God shall look upon His face night and morning.” (Al-Qiyama 75:22,23)

In other words, for at least a quarter of mankind, belief in a literal physical hell serves the purpose of leading men in the direction of virtuous living. The net effect of this motivation toward salvation would naturally also lead many to understand the true value of our last end as being the Vision of God. From this would naturally also result an increasing number of souls seeking to please God by living more and more holy lives, that is, to achieve genuine sanctity.

Thus, if one wonders why God would make the torments of hell central to the beliefs of what is, de facto, only, perhaps, a quarter of mankind today, the answer might just be that God is actually concerned with the spiritual quality of human perfection. That is, God may be concerned not merely with the quantity of the saved, but also with the qualitative perfection to be found among those who are saved.

Oddly enough, while beliefs about the eternal torments of hell are used by skeptics as reason to disbelieve in God’s goodness, those same beliefs may motivate far greater numbers of souls to follow an upward journey of religious understanding that leads them eventually to the most holy religious insights and practice, that is, to sanctity itself.

In a word, the doctrine of hell creates a world designed to produce the greatest of saints – a qualitatively more perfect end than might otherwise be possible without hell. It is perfectly within the prerogative of God to design his creation so as to produce the most spiritually perfect creatures. Since the fear of hell, a hell which is licit in itself as a form of divine retributive justice, can serve as a licit means to that more perfect end, it is fully justified.

The Doctrine of Hell and Free Will

The Catholic Church dogmatically defines that those who die in a personal grievous sin descend immediately into hell3 and that the punishment of hell lasts for all eternity.4 Nonetheless, while the majority of traditional theologians do believe hell to entail a physical fire, it also remains true that the Church has never condemned the speculation that hell’s “fire” is constituted of purely spiritual pain, such as exclusion from the Beatific Vision and the pangs of conscience.5

Moreover, the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares that this “exclusion” from the Beatific Vision is essentially a form of “self-exclusion.”6 Such self-exclusion is expressed by Lucifer in Milton’s Paradise Lost, when he proclaims, “Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” It is a measure of final obstinacy and pride that refuses to abandon serious sin and accept divine forgiveness.

It is true that the rational appetite, or will, must always choose the good. But does that mean that no free person in full possession of his faculties could refuse the highest good, God himself, so as to “self-exclude” himself from heaven and go to hell as a result?

This question reveals a basic misunderstanding of the nature of the rational appetite or free will. The good is defined as being as desirable. So, the rational appetite naturally desires every possible good. That is to say, the will is necessitated to seek the universal good or happiness. But the human will does not desire any particular good – no concrete good or action – necessarily in this life, since particular goods are good under one aspect, but not under another.7

Finite goods can always be refused, since there are elements of imperfection about them which may be possessed by some other goods. Hence, we choose between various goods, like chocolates in a box, where each has qualities lacked by others and vice versa – thereby, forcing us to choose between them.

But with regard to direct knowledge of God in his essence, St. Thomas Aquinas concludes that “the will of him who sees God in his essence of necessity adheres to God, just as now we desire of necessity to be happy.”8 (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 82, a. 2, c.)

God is known in his essence solely in the Beatific Vision. Yet, it is self-evident that the final refusal or acceptance of God must take place before God is embraced fully or rejected completely. Hence, God is not known in his very essence before the soul reaches heaven. What the soul knows before that time must then be some finite good, such as knowing the truth that God is the highest good. But, any finite good can be refused.

The problem is that we often choose lesser and improper goods even when we know that they are opposed to God’s law or to God himself – or even to our own true good! In fact, the very basis of our experience of free will is the fact that we can choose between various finite goods and even choose sinful goods that we know are opposed to the true good, or even the goodness of God himself!

Unfortunately, this is precisely why a hardened sinner, who still has essential possession of his rational faculties, can freely exclude himself from heaven by stubbornly rejecting the law of God or even some finite representation of divine majesty and love -- even on his deathbed.

How Many Are Lost?

But how many people actually go to hell? On that question, the closest the official Magisterium comes to offering an answer is found in the encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, in which he suggests that, while a few souls go directly to heaven and a few go directly to hell, the “great majority of people” go to a place of temporary purification before entering the Vision of God, the place Catholics call “purgatory.”9

Curiously, even Islamic writings seem to have some notion of limited duration of punishment in hell, a concept similar to the Catholic conception of purgatory. Indeed, one optimistic text proclaims that almost all people will be removed from this state of suffering:  “From every one thousand, take out nine-hundred-and ninety-nine.” (Bukhari 4:567)

Since there is no way to be certain just how many, if any, souls actually go to hell, it is also possible that those who – through no fault of their own – are ignorant of its existence, may find themselves more likely to end up in some form of purgatory, rather than hell itself.

Conclusion

On careful reflection, the notion of hell as a place of eternal punishment for the souls of the wicked after death turns out to be (1) a just application of retributive justice by a Divine Lawgiver who stands ontologically above the natural law of his creation, (2) a natural sanction that is actually self-imposed by a will stubbornly opposed to the righteous laws of Infinite Goodness, and (3) a powerful tool designed to use the natural avoidance of pain – both spiritual and physical – as a motive to follow God’s laws and prepare souls for a spiritual ascendancy leading to the direct vision of God himself, which is man’s perfect happiness.

Hell, then, is not something evil in itself, but a natural byproduct of the order of being, one which aids in bringing many human beings to the highest state of natural – or even supernatural – perfection through holiness of life. God’s divine providence aims to produce the happiest creatures possible.

Notes:

  1. Romans 12:19 (Douay-Rheims)
  2. "Ad quartum dicendum quod per hoc quod aliquis incipit assuefieri ad vitandum mala et ad implendum bona propter metum poenae, perducitur quandoque ad hoc quod delectabiliter et ex propria voluntate hoc faciat. Et secundum hoc, lex etiam puniendo perducit ad hoc quod homines sint boni." Editio Leonina.
  3. Solemn declaration by Pope Benedict XII in the Dogmatic Constitution, “Benedictus Deus.” Denz. 531.
  4. The Caput Firmiter of the Fourth Lateran Council. Denz. 429.
  5. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma -- sixth edition (B. Herder Book Company, 1964), 480-481.
  6. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033.
  7. /Bro. Benignus Gerrity, Nature, Knowledge, and God (Bruce Publishing Company, 1947), 244-245.
  8. “Sed voluntas videntis Deum per essentiam, de necessitate inhaeret Deo, sicut nunc ex necessitate volumus esse beati.” Editio Leonina.
  9. Spe Salvi (2007), nn. 45-46.
Dr. Dennis Bonnette

Written by

Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. He taught philosophy there for thirty-six years and served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He lives in Youngstown, New York, with his wife, Lois. They have seven adult children and twenty-five grandchildren. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. Dr. Bonnette taught philosophy at the college level for 40 years, and is now teaching free courses at the Aquinas School of Philosophy in Lewiston, New York. He is the author of two books, Aquinas' Proofs for God's Existence (The Hague: Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972) and Origin of the Human Species (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, third edition, 2014), and many scholarly articles.

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  • David Nickol

    The piece makes for interesting reading as long as you don't think too much about human suffering that we are already all too familiar with, and then imagine it going on for eternity. Let us suppose the "fires of hell" (which even the Catechism puts in quotes) produces an effect like real burning. I recently watched Chernobyl on HBO and was appalled by the suffering of those most directly exposed to the reactor's core. High levels of radiation have a devastating effect on the human body and inflict horrendous suffering. Imagine something like that going on forever and ever.

    Perhaps it is just a failure of imagination on my part, but I cannot imagine anyone, and especially an all-merciful being, sustaining human beings (no matter how evil) in a state of extreme suffering that will never end and is known to be never-ending.

    I know this is not much of a "rational" response, but I think it is necessary when trying to cope with such questions by reason to keep always in mind the sheer horror of eternal suffering. It is a lot easier to explain away if you don't really think about it. The horror, it seems to me, is emphasized to frighten people into avoiding sin, but soft-pedaled in apologetics (such as the Catechism's statement that "the chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God").

    • BTS

      I think your response, although not much of a "rational" response, as you say, is quite valid. After all, DB's argument essentially boils down to being afraid every waking moment of one's life. God created us to cower in fear in order to make us work for the prize. That is also not rational.

      • Dennis Bonnette

        This objection again is answered in a more careful reading of the article.

        In part, and for example: "Oddly enough, while beliefs about the eternal torments of hell are used by skeptics as reason to disbelieve in God’s goodness, those same beliefs may motivate far greater numbers of souls to follow an upward journey of religious understanding that leads them eventually to the most holy religious insights and practice, that is, to sanctity itself."

        I suspect that some who read my article are so convinced that hell is an irrational and unintelligible belief that they do not read the article carefully enough to understand what it actually says.

        • BTS

          I read your article very carefully indeed.
          I just disagree that the torments of hell are a useful motivation to do good. Good deeds done under threat of hellfire are diminished. Good deeds motivated by fear of hell are selfish!
          Are you reading my comments just as carefully?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            But your comment totally missed what I said in the article.

            I did not say that the motivation was to get people to do good deeds merely to avoid the pains of hell, but as a precondition to them following "an upward journey of religious understanding that leads them eventually to the most holy religious insights and practice, that is, to sanctity itself."

            You claim that the fear of hell produces "diminished" good deeds, because they are selfish. I already said such deeds were "diminished," but at the same time have enough "goodness" in them to begin human beings' journey toward less and less selfish deeds, leading finally to deeds motivated by love of goodness in itself and of God himself.

            The point is that objectively good moral acts, even if done for primarily selfish reasons, still contain some real goodness in them. And, it is this experience of the ontological goodness of the acts themselves that "teases" the soul to begin to see the value of good acts for their own sake.

            God is wise.

            I wrote an excessively long article of 3200 words when most have been limited to about 2500. Even so, the complexity of the topic requires that the reader try to understand even those insights that are not fully spelled out for them.

            Nonetheless, I stand by each of the steps in this argument, provided they are read as I intended them to be. I was always taught to give an author the best possible reading, not the worst.

          • Raymond

            "I was always taught to give an author the best possible reading, not the worst."

            Please reconcile this with your characterizations of posters as dishonest readers that lack common sense.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Unfortunately, sometimes that IS the best possible reading!

          • BTS

            "Blessed are the Thomists, for they understand the mind of God."

          • Dennis Bonnette

            No, we do not claim to understand the mind of God.

            But we do use our God-given minds to discover he is there.

          • Mark

            @brian_seiler:disqus As an outside observer there are different types of fear and Aquinas differentiates them as you well know Dr. B. The terms fear/afraid may need to be qualified because they are not theologically univocal. I fear you two may be talking past each other?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Actually, we may be in agreement about the type of fear man might have with respect to hell, since it is possible that in some people servile fear that would first cause a selfish aversion to the pain and penalty of hell -- without being motivated by honor, love, or a sense of duty.

            Yet, the actual experience of doing good things could later beget filial fear which is based on love and reverence for the majesty and goodness of God.

            Of course, it is also possible that a believer would begin with both types of fear operative, but with filial fear more and more supervening servile fear as progress in virtue is achieved.

          • Mark

            My understanding is that the object of servile fear is directed toward punishment, whereas the object of filial fear is God. Correct me if I'm wrong.

            "DB's argument essentially boils down to being afraid every waking moment of one's life. God created us to cower in fear in order to make us work for the prize."

            As such BTS seems to mischaracterize servility for servile fear i.e. makes God the object of servile fear:

            ST II-II Q19 A4:

            This servility, however, does not belong to the species of servile fear, even as neither does lifelessness to the species of lifeless faith. For the species of a moral habit or act is taken from the object. Now the object of servile fear is punishment, and it is by accident that, either the good to which the punishment is contrary, is loved as the last end, and that consequently the punishment is feared as the greatest evil, which is the case with one who is devoid of charity, or that the punishment is directed to God as its end, and that, consequently, it is not feared as the greatest evil, which is the case with one who has charity. For the species of a habit is not destroyed through its object or end being directed to a further end. Consequently servile fear is substantially good, but is servility is evil.

        • michael

          Logic dictates that no quantity or quality of greater good, or anything else for that matter, could justify endless unfathomable agony.

    • Phil Tanny

      In this piece at least, the author is trying to take us back to the 12th century. What's next? An article on why burning at the stake can be philosophically validated? Will he provide instructions on how I join ISIS? How about the beheading of children, does God approve that too, and for very good logical loving reasons?

      Once one proposes that an all powerful entity at the heart of reality is sending humans to hell for eternity, all these kinds of insane questions become entirely valid.

      Some clerics and some theologians have been peddling this hateful power tripping trash for centuries, and it's time for it to stop. This kind of theology is the equivalent of Nazi propaganda. Dressing it up in sophisticated philosophical fancy talk doesn't change that.

      • David Nickol

        Some clerics and some theologians have been peddling this hateful power tripping trash for centuries, and it's time for it to stop. This kind of theology is the equivalent of Nazi propaganda.

        Jesus spoke of hell. According to one source I just read, if you count the Gospel verses, he spoke of hell more than he spoke of heaven. What are Christians supposed to do? (Of course, your answer would no doubt be to abandon Christianity.)

        In this piece at least, the author is trying to take us back to the 12th century.

        Well, Aquinas lived in the 13th century. But you are dismissive of philosophy, so I suppose it is futile to argue to you that we can still learn from thinkers of the thirteenth century, or the ancient Greeks, for that matter.

        You often sound angry here.

        • Phil Tanny

          First, I am angry. How do you feel when ISIS tries to sell their hateful garbage?

          Jesus also said, "God, why have you forsaken me?" proving at the least that Jesus was capable of error, or wasn't after all a god. And anyway, we don't actually know what Jesus said but only what some clerics say Jesus said.

          No, no, no and no, my answer would not be that readers abandon Christianity. My suggestion would be that readers adopt Christianity. As example, this site is not Christianity, it's talk about Christianity, something entirely different. Christianity would be dropping the talking of the talk to focus instead on the walking of the walk. A site that raised money for Catholic Charities would be a real Catholic site, as just one example.

          I'm not dismissive of philosophy, I'm doing philosophy. I'm challenging the usefulness of this process through a series of reasoned calculations, which members here are simply too dense and sleepy to begin to grasp. Total waste of time.

          • Phil

            No, no, no and no, my answer would not be that readers abandon Christianity. My suggestion would be that readers adopt Christianity. As example, this site is not Christianity, it's talk about Christianity, something entirely different. Christianity would be dropping the talking of the talk to focus instead on the walking of the walk. A site that raised money for Catholic Charities would be a real Catholic site, as just one example.

            I think what you say is correct in some ways and incorrect in other ways. Part of Christianity is seeking the truth of reality, (and ultimately *the Truth*). So doing these things, like philosophy and theology, is living Christianity insofar as we are using our God-given rational nature as God created it and intended it to be used. And that, in and of itself, is worship of God. (Just like a tree growing as it was created to grow, in accordance with its nature, is worshiping God just by the fact of growing.)

            And since God created all, any actual truth we come to, we also come to know something about God, Him who created it. (Like how we come to know something about the painter when studying her painting.)

            ----------

            But I think your point is more along the lines of you feel that God would be worshipped more if we did other things than this, such as directly helping those in need like at Catholic Charities.
            The answer is, maybe, maybe not. That depends on the person. God may be asking you to do that. But it is dangerous to assume that God is asking other to do that.
            God may be asking those, like Dr. Bonnette, to spend more of his energy worshipping God through the study and teaching of philosophy and theology.

            So the short answer is, ask God what he is *asking of you* and then allow God to give you the grace to do it!

        • Jim (hillclimber)

          Jesus spoke of hell.

          That's not exactly true though. He spoke of Gehenna and Hades and used other images that were later attached to a more metaphysically precise conception of "hell".

          David Bentley Hart puts it this way:

          In fact, what the New Testament provides are a number of fragmentary images that can be taken in any number of ways, arranged according to our prejudices and expectations, and declared literal or metaphorical or hyperbolic as our desires dictate. Yes, Jesus speaks of a final judgment, and uses many metaphors to describe the unhappy lot of the condemned. Many of these are metaphors of annihilation, like the burning of chaff or brambles in ovens, or the final destruction of body and soul in the Valley of Hinnom. Others are metaphors of exclusion, like the sealed doors of wedding feasts. A few, a very few, are images of torture and torment, and yet these are also for the most part images of penalties that explicitly have only a limited term (Matthew 5:36; 18:34; Luke 12:47-48, 59). Nowhere is there any description of a kingdom of perpetual cruelty presided over by Satan, as though he were a kind of chthonian god. Thus, pace Wills, there is no need on my part to “oust” this traditional picture of hell from the New Testament. It simply is not there. By letting my Hades be Hades and my Gehenna be Gehenna, all I have done is report a distinction present in the text. And, in not presuming the mythopoeia of later Christian eschatology and cosmology, I have done nothing more than leave a mystery intact that many translations, through their excessive fastidiousness and uniformity of expression, have tended to conjure away

          (from https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/anent-garry-wills-and-the-dbh-version/ )

          • BTS

            Jim, thanks, I was wondering when someone would bring that up. I was going to write something myself if I did not see such a post in the next couple days. I don't have anything scholarly to add other than that if you study the history of the serpent/satan/devil/accuser you learn that the the current Catholic understanding of hell is nothing at all like the original Jewish understanding. I am almost certain the David knows this, of course.

            So I think that my strongest objection to DB's OP here on hell is that he may be arguing for a concept of hell that even Jesus wasn't espousing.

            A helpful link:
            https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/the-invention-of-hell-939.html

            There is a very strong case to be made that Jesus did not teach of eternal punishment as the antithesis to life in his "Kingdom of God," and there are only scant references in the Gospels where he refers to it. These come in the form of the parable of the sheep and goats (see Matthew 25:31-46) and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Both of these moral stories were voted by fellows of the Jesus Seminar as likely to have been later additions to the Gospels and to have not originated from Jesus himself.[3] In sayings considered to be more likely to be authentic, Jesus does talk of "unquenchable fires" (e.g., Mark 9:43). However, it is to the unending fires of the valley of Gehenna to which he refers, and there is no sense that its flames would burn people for eternity.

          • Rob Abney

            Here's an alternate Catholic version to Hart's, http://blog.adw.org/2017/05/jesus-loves-warned-frequently-hell/

          • David Nickol

            Here's an alternate Catholic version to Hart's,

          • Rob Abney

            That was a response to a Catholic so he will probably read it different than an atheist will.

          • David Nickol

            That was a response to a Catholic so he will probably read it different than an atheist will.

          • Jim the Scott

            That begs the question since Catholics presuppose the Church is the final interpreter of the NT. A non-American can give his opinion on what he thinks the Constitution of the USA means but only SCOTUS' rulings are legally binding.

            Hart is not Catholic even thought as an Eastern Orthodox he is close but that only counts in horseshoes.

          • David Nickol

            That begs the question since Catholics presuppose the Church is the final interpreter of the NT.

            I think I misunderstood the point of Rob Abney's post. I would agree that (for Catholics) the Church maintains the right to interpret the Bible. I was commenting on Hart's decision not to translate Gehenna as "hell," which some English translations do and some don't. I see the word Gehenna is not found in the NIV or the RSV (including the Catholic version of the latter) or the KJV. However, It is found in the NABRE. I was not endorsing Hart's personal views on salvation and damnation.

            I thought Hart's stated intention was to try to translate the NT without reading into it doctrines developed over the past two millennia, which I would find a worthwhile project. However, I see N. T. Wright (whose opinion carries a lot of weight with me) is very critical of Hart's translation.

          • Jim the Scott

            I see..thanks for clearing that up guy.

            > I see the word Gehenna is not found in the NIV or the RSV (including the Catholic version of the latter) or the KJV. However, It is found in the NABRE. I was not endorsing Hart's personal views on salvation and damnation.

            Well his universalism it appears goes beyond the theoretical potential pseudo Universalism of Von Balthazar.

            The late great Cardinal Dulles said his version of theoretical Universalism wasn't against the Faith because it allowed for the real potential for damnation. I would say theoretically since God gives all persons sufficient grace for salvation (thus making salvation a real possibility for all human beings) then that type of Universalism could in theory happen. I don't think it will happen but it could.

            An analogy might be if you had 10000 toddlers playing alone in 10000 kitchens with 10000 pots of boiling water on the stove and add to that mix a load of dumb luck and or divine providence (that is often the same thing depending on yer point of view) it is possible in theory for all those kids to escape being burned & if that did happen we would still say they where still in real danger of being burned. If everybody was saved under Von Bathazar's scheme we would still have to say they where all in danger of Hell. I might add Von Balthazar's speculations have caused me to put great confidence in God's ability to save souls OTOH given his premises there is nothing stoping me from concluding under that same scheme there is no reason why God might not save every soul BUT ME. So where as I might have a great hope for the maximal salvation of souls I should not under any circumstances presume on it.

            These are my personal thoughts on the matter.

            Of course with Frank Sheed I find the idea of annihilation as a final punishment far more horrible than mere eternal damnation. Given the soul in Hell has a disordered form of self love over God they can never change then it logically follows in that state they would want to hold on to their "self" at all cost because in the end that is all they have left. Also annihilation is worst than damnation because it is a total absence of God to a soul leading to non being. Lost of the Beatific Vision is not the total loss of God since God still communicates being to his creatures. Being is good.

            Given a soul in the after life and hear after at the resurrection who is damned to Hell feels the pain of the loss of the Beatific Vision very keenly in a manner they didn't feel before death in the flesh they would rightly feel that the loss of their own self would be worst. It would likely be instinctive.

            So I don't feel the need to justify God punishing the wicked forever. Rather I believe all things being equal it is a type of mercy.

            The greatest pain of the damned is the loss of the beatific vision but that objectively would not be THE greatest of all pains. Loss of being would.

          • Jim the Scott

            PS sorry for the stream of consciousness on my part but I felt inspired.

            Cheers to you Nickols and have a happy new year.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            So I think that my strongest objection to DB's OP here on hell is that he may be arguing for a concept of hell that even Jesus wasn't espousing.

            That is basically my position as well, especially as regards the absolute eternity of hell.

            Of course, the conception of hell that Dennis is working from isn't rooted only in the words of Jesus as reported by the evangelists: rather, it is a conception that also draws from the subsequent teaching of the Church, teaching that -- by hypothesis, at least -- represents valid elaboration and articulation of Jesus's own teaching. And, Church teaching certainly does refer quite clearly to the eternity of hell (at least in English translations of the current catechism). So, there is that.

            And yet ... I think only a fool would claim that we really know precisely what we mean when we refer to "eternity". Could there be several types of eternity? In mathematics, some infinities are bigger than others. By analogy could we reasonably suppose that some eternities outlast others? Could the eternity of grace in some sense outlast the eternity of hell? Who the hell knows?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Look, I am not making this stuff up.

            I cited the Fourth Lateran Councils de fide declaration: "Those (the rejected) will receive a perpetual punishment with the devil." Denzinger 429. This classification is affirmed by Ludwig Ott's definitive Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, which gives the de fide classification.

            So, this is not dependent on my personal interpretation of the words of Jesus Christ.

            Also, as I stated clearly at the beginning of the article, I am writing as a philosopher, not a theologian. That means that I am simply looking at a Catholic doctrine on hell and evaluating its rational credibility using the tools of natural reason. Period.

            But, I might add that, just as God is eternal, nothing prevents him from creating creatures that are eternal and also conditions that are eternal for those creatures.

            Now what anyone wants to believe about those conditions appears to be a matter based on religious revelation. That is outside my profession. I can say if I think a particular belief makes philosophical sense. That is all.

            Edit: By the way, I ought not to have to remind the Catholics on this thread that Catholic doctrine is not totally dependent on what one finds in the Bible. We also have something called Tradition, and also, the Magisterium.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Dennis, I know you are not just making it up. The whole point of my second paragraph was to point out that your position was justifiable (not necessarily correct, but justifiable) in terms of Church teaching!

            I also understand that the point of your article was to demonstrate a logical consistency between two doctrines that many view as irreconcilable, and that that is a totally separate exercise from demonstrating the truth of the doctrines themselves.

            What I am suggesting in my third paragraph is that there may be another way to reconcile the two doctrines, a way that has less to do with logic and more to do with language and meaning. What does it mean for punishment to be perpetual? Everyone seems to think it is obvious. For so many reasons, it is not obvious to me. That's all I'm saying.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I regret that I do not have a copy of the original Latin at hand, but the language of the earlier translations of Denzinger does not appear to offer more wiggle room than what I presented earlier.

            Referring to the Last Judgment of Christ, it concludes: "... to render to each according to his works, to the wicked as well as to the elect, all of whom will rise with their bodies which they now bear, that they may receive according to their works, whether these works have been good or evil, the latter everlasting punishment with the devil, and the former everlasting glory with Christ."

            I suspect the original Latin must have been pretty clear to be rendered as "everlasting punishment." Moreover, this appears clearly to have been the understanding of the Council Fathers at that time, since it reflects the constant Tradition.

            In classical philosophy, the term, "eternity," is pretty well understood either to entail the unchanging now of God, without beginning and without end -- all taking place in the same ontological moment, or else, some form of duration without any limit (when less technically used).

            Technically, the term, "eternity," applies to God as meaning "the whole and perfect simultaneous possession of infinite life." (Boethius)

            Time is the measure of motion with respect to before and after. But, outside physical reality, a condition exists which is intermediate between time and eternity. That condition, which is called aeviternity, entails periodic or irregular intervals of change, but not time as we know it. Hell appears to fall into this latter category.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            That condition, which is called aeviternity, entails periodic or irregular intervals of change, but not time as we know it. Hell appears to fall into this latter category.

            Very interesting! I hadn't heard of the notion of aeviternity before.

            So, at first glance at least, this would seem consonant with what I am suggesting: aeviternity sounds like a type of eternality that is ultimately transcended by / subsumed by / enveloped by God's eternity. If I am understanding that correctly, then whatever may be the state of things in aeviternity, that is in some sense not the end of the story (?)

            Let me emphasize that I'm not trying to downplay hell as something to be trifled with. It's not like I would find it at all reassuring to find myself in an aeviternity of hell. I can understand how very intense and long-lasting torment would have to be part of any system of ultimate justice, and I believe in ultimate justice, and I therefore (knowing I am a sinner) fear it. It's not that bit that I'm objecting to. It's the abssolute eternality of hell that seems logically problematic, because that would seem to be an infinite punishment for finite sins (and as finite creatures we seem to only be capable of finite sins). The notion of an aeviternity that is subsumed by God's eternity seems to me to lessen this logical tension.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I wish I could help you with this, but aeviternity is not a help. It itself is unending or perpetual in hell, even though it is limited in duration in purgatory. The dogma explicitly says, "perpetual."
            It just means that the nature of duration in the afterlife is not like that in this physical world.

            As to the question of infinite punishment for a finite sin, it isn't that simple. When we sin, we break the relation between ourselves and God. We, as mere creatures, cannot "fix" that broken relationship, since the other term of the relation is God himself.

            That is the rationale as to why Christ, who is God, had to suffer for our sins, since God alone can repair this "broken relationship" caused by our sins.

            Moreover, while we are finite sinners, the Person whom we offend is infinite, which is the basis for us being in one heck of a lot of trouble when we sin!

            And you cannot measure infinity like it is univocal. God is infinite, Hell may be infinite in duration, but it is a finite state of existence, since both it and the creatures in it are finite.

            You can see how this gets a bit complicated. And, I am not trying to foist all this on our skeptic friends here. i am just explaining the doctrines and what they involve from a Catholic perspective. And, I am all too aware that I am not a theologian, so don't ask me a question above my pay grade.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            The dogma explicitly says, "perpetual."

            But that hardly settles the matter, because the dogma was written in Latin in the thirteenth century, and it seems unwise to assume that the connotations that "perpetuum" carried in thirteenth century Christendom are adequately conveyed by the modern usage of "perpetual". I would assume that there is some strong continuity between the meanings, but the nuances can matter quite a bit! And to make matters worse (or: to make matters more interesting) the theologians who articulated the dogma in Latin would have been aware of specific Greek antecedents like "aenion", which would have brought its own baggage of connotations and nuances. (And here I would point interested parties to the discussion of the word aenion in the DBH article that I linked above.)

            This sort of thing is exactly why we have a living magisterium. Just as we would be unwise to apply sola scriptura principles to the Bible, so we would be equally unwise to apply sola scriptura principles to dogmas written in the Middle Ages. Even dogmas must be interpreted with an awareness of the interpretive tradition from which they arose.

            As you say yourself: "this gets a bit complicated." This is really my point. This is why it seems premature to me to argue about what is or isn't logically consistent with the notion of hell: I would rather first acknowledge that it is no simple matter to understand what the hell hell is!

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Good job at showing nuances, but the problem is that the concept of duration falls on the sic et non of the principle of non-contradiction. Either hell is with durational limit or not. That understanding has been around since before Aristotle. And I can virtually guarantee that no one in the middle ages was in any doubt about the meaning of "perpetual" in Latin or any other language.

            I would rather not get into the "development of dogma" tar baby, but for my part I haven't the least doubt that it refers to further specification of what is not yet specified fully, but never entails any contradiction of what has clearly been affirmed or denied. Even the living tradition is unidirectional in that precise sense. This is not like the concept of a "living Constitution" that some would impose on American jurisprudence!

            All this is why my article operates on the presumption that the doctrine of hell we have to deal with is one that is eternal. It may be inconvenient to have to try to explain it in this more extreme form, but that is what I do in the article -- just in case it turns out that hell really is that hellish.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Either hell is with durational limit or not.

            That's true, but if hell does not have durational limit, that could be because it has either no duration, or because it does have duration but without limit. And as you pointed out earlier, "eternity" can refer to both flavors. As you noted, "eternity" can refer to the eternal "now" of God. Each individual moment is a participation in God's "kairos", lacking in duration. Each individual moment in our lives is therefore eternal in that sense. To think of hell as eternal in that sense is different from thinking of hell as sempiternal. It's still not obvious to me that the tradition clearly favors one flavor of eternality over the other when it comes to hell.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Eternity properly and primarily is predicated of God's life -- as atemporal, nondurational, simultaneous possession of infinite life. As you can see, our words do not even work well here, since "simultaneous" means "all at the same time," which uses "time" to describe what is timeless!

            But the other, less technical, way philosophers and theologians use "eternity" means simply some form of duration without limit. Now the only difference between time and aeviternity is that time has continuous change, whereas aeviternity has irregular periods of change. Both constitute forms of duration. So, limitless duration does apply to aeviternity, which amounts to saying that hell is forever.

            Now, could hell somehow be forever like the eternity of God? I hardly think so -- without it being a sharing in the divine life, which is precisely what it is not.

            Personally, I really have no doubt that the meaning of the dogma on hell means that it is forever in anybody's language or conception.

            Remember though, as the article points out, we then have to ask questions as to what would put someone there, how many actually go there -- if any. I add the last solely because some Catholic thinkers, such as von Balthazar, suggest this possibility and have not been condemned for doing so thus far.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            That seems like a fitting summary to bring this to a close, at least for now. Thank you for the exchange, Dennis.

          • Sample1

            This is confusing. But your theology isn’t supposed to be a theology of confusion. The only way out of confusion, one way. is to take things on faith. But if you think about it, all that choice is is the choice to look away, to take the issue (any issue) off one’s front burner and place it on the back burner. That mode of understanding, if it can be called understanding, is unacceptable for many. Especially when other explanations exist that actually do explain the phenomena of religious behaviors. You’ve got to at least allow that in either case we have people who have found ways to understand reality that works for them.

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I really am not in doubt about the nature of the Catholic doctrine insofar as it is already specified. Hell is an eternal punishment.

            But I wrote the piece so as to encompass various doctrinal positions, even some of those perhaps not identical to the Catholic one.

          • BTS

            Mike, I agree.
            I am going to continue searching for answers instead of dogmatically asserting that I already have them based on the "think method" from the Music Man.

            I have to note that it is not so much the theology that is pushing me out the door, but the rudeness, behavior and rigid dogmatic certainty of my fellow catholics that is facilitating the process.

            I don't want to spend eternity with such people.

            Perhaps Billy Joel was right.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Perhaps Billy Joel was right.

            You might also like Mark Twain's version if you haven't seen it before: "Dying man couldn’t make up his mind which place to go to—both have their advantages, “heaven for climate, hell for company!” :-)

          • BTS

            You are a good dude.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Hi Mike.

            Let me make a distinction.

            From a Christian perspective (and for that matter, from most religious perspectives generally) what matters at the end of the day is achieving salvation, or a full participation in ultimate belonging, or whatever you want to call it. From that perspective, I don't think "hell" is particularly confusing. The key message with respect to hell is just that if you do not change your heart and go beyond yourself ("repent") and accept the salvation that is offered to you, then something bad, perhaps very bad, awaits you. That's it. That's the level that I need to understand it. Paint me an suggestive picture, as Jesus did in so many ways, using imagery of fire, or of being locked out of a wedding feast, or whatever. It doesn't matter if those poetic images are vague in some sense. I still get the idea. In fact, language that is evocative rather than precise is exactly what is called for. Paint me a picture that shows that damnation is something bad and that motivates me to stay the hell away from it. That's all I need. That's not confusing.

            It only gets confusing when we try to make it philosophically precise, e.g. when we try to specify precisely whether and in what sense this damnation is eternal. And let me be clear: I'm all in favor trying to make things philosophically precise. We usually learn something worthwhile when we try to articulate those things that we know only inchoately. I'm not opposed to that project at all. However, it does, at that point, become complicated. That philosophically precise game is the game we are playing here, and that is complicated. This is not a game that every needs to play, of course. But for those of us (most of us here) who can't help but ask subtle philosophically-oriented questions, we have to expect that we are going to get subtle philosophically-oriented answers.

          • Sample1

            Good grief, I can’t believe I’m going to post something positive about Catholicism, well, maybe only tangentially as it was a Catholic motivated family philosophy growing up.

            Hell was never a ever present danger in my childhood. Those who raised me had a type of faith that truly removed from dreading the implications. They had an immigrant’s faith that trusted in God and that all would be ok. That wasn’t to be understood as a laziness but rather a deep faith in God and his mercy and wisdom. It was a pious yet lovely thing to see at the time. That aspect of faith was palpable and is difficult to describe. What Deutsch describes (experiences difficult or impossible to translate into words) in a recent interview (link at bottom). I don’t see that kind of faith position in most non-Catholic religions (though I could be wrong) so I’m thankful that if I had to be part of a religion growing up, that is was Catholicism. M

            That said, it was the respect for logic and reasoning in Catholicism, generally, that, ironically, also gave me the good course to abandon it! Perhaps Judaism fits that bill too. And I suspect it does.

            At any rate. There it is. A seemingly back handed compliment if understood shallowly, but that’s not my intent. It’s a heartfelt and mature confidence in the will if God, so much so that even challenges like hell are not feared. I remain grateful for everything true (colloquial used) that I learned in that environment. As other atheists (former Catholics who have said over the years) most of us visit Catholic sites because it’s a skill, an education, we possess and there simply is no other place but sites like these to use that education.

            Merry Christmas,

            Mike

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Hey Mike -

            I really appreciate you sharing that thoughtful and sincere reflection on Catholicism as you experienced it as a kid. I think you strike exactly the right balance when you write: "That wasn’t to be understood as a laziness but rather a deep faith in God and of his mercy and wisdom. A faith that required serious engagement rather than sleepy acquiescence."Also, your "all would be ok" reminds me of Julian of Norwich's “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”

            With regard to your appreciation, however qualified, of your Catholic heritage, you might be interested in Tom Holland's exploration of similar terrain in his new book, described in this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0xCs2EfiXA .

            There are a couple fundamental points in your comment that I would like to debate with you, but it would be a shame if I took such a nice gesture on your part and turned it into just another debate. So, let's save those arguments for 2020 and let me just also wish good tidings to you and all of your kin!

            Merry Christmas,
            Jim

          • Mark

            @jimhillclimber:disqus Hear hear

            Merry Christmas to you too Mike. I wish the peace and lovingness of your youth for you and your family this season.

          • Sample1

            Thank you for choosing to allocate an unreplenishable measure of a finite resource, time, and utilizing that created moment in physical space to offer a sentiment I do appreciate.

            I actually began a longer reply involving time and that quickly turned into a monstrous, philosophically-laden, seemingly allergic to, in every way, any sentence that attempted to be informative and concise at the same time.

            But on to what anyone would expect in a reply: Season’s Greeting to you and yours Mark! May this holiday fill each day with the contentment, thankfulness, and wisdom to know just what things what we label existence, has on tap for human beings.

            Cheers,

            Mike

          • Rob Abney

            State of mind evolution seems like it has a better explanation in building of habits?
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Evisxy9Lrp8&feature=youtu.be

          • Sample1

            Let me offer a distillation, by way of analogy, of the hard-to-vary vs. easy-to-vary types of modes of explanations: prose vs. poetry.

            Easy-to-vary explanations are like poetry. That the distilled point I’d like you to recognize. Elaboration is needed so you understand how I see it. A poem may be interpreted meaningfully or not depending on the life experiences of the accumulated by the reader up to and no more than the exact moment in time when it is read. I defy you to deny that fact. I know you agree but suspect it comes off as being a trivial or banal fact. And you’d be justified saying as much. But here my point. Trivial facts are those which are naked, isolated. It’s when they are giving clothing, context, that they earn a place of explanatory power; much like individual sentences by themselves, when put together create paragraphs and a meta-understanding larger than the sum of its parts. Take popular music. Songs, like poetry, can take on new meanings or value as we age. Songs with a trendy beat may be the driving pleasure, when young, with the lyrics being filler or ignored. Some songs from my youth, after rediscovering them today sometimes create a “wow!” moment, like, “wow I completely missed the wisdom or depth of those words back then.” But you can’t miss or appreciate something without having had the experience in the first place. So it’s a fallacy to think we made a mistake or missed out, as if we could have acted differently back then. Surprisingly, it remains a very common fallacious behavior that culture retains instead of recognizing the truth. Shouldn’t we rather say for such moments, “wow, that childhood song makes me realize how much I have experienced since then!” This allows us to value growth rather than think we “missed” something. Granted, that growth what we are wowing at but the cultural phrasings haven’t adapted to reflect that accurately.

            No atheist should deny that poetry or songwriting doesn’t create real and even laudable experiences that can be given value and power for a consumer of those media. Likewise, atheists do not deny that religions provide its consumers with real meaning and value. Your video presents those tangibles. But because the mode of explanation for religion is akin to songs and poetry (easy-to-vary) it is, through its own design, unable to provide universal explanations. The evidence for that is the plethora and diversity of religions now and historically. Alone, that diversity looks like a naked, banal fact. But placed in context, it is harder to ignore (like the larger meaning pulled out of paragraph) that religion, by explanatory design, is vulnerableto making incorrect and unreliable explanations about the subject it has chosen to explain, and it decided to shoot for the moon with that subject. All of reality!

            Prose. Whenever a given religion might produce an explanation that is reliable and universal namely facts, which of those facts are unattainable through natural, hard-to-vary, methods alone? I’m not aware of any and I’m not yet persuaded to expect any, ever. That’s just recognizing where the burden of making one persuaded rests with religion. The point is not to deny that meaning and value may be found in religion. It is to demonstrate that easy-to-vary explanations need not be ignored. It depends on the context like human songs or poems where we do value flexibility of explanations up to contrasting or even contradictory ones. But that is anathema to religion, where explanations about its context, reality, It is the evidence that religion has aligned itself with the wrong mode of explanation for the task at hand. And there are explanations of the hard-to-vary types to support why a fallible species would have historically been vulnerable to that error. The makers of religions, like the teenager listening to music, did not have the experiences, or failed to recognize them, to do any differently. So I’m reluctant to blame them for what they did not know. But religious bodies today have fewer excuses to deny they’ve made a philosophical mistake other than double down and use the easy-to-vary method to rationalize away what people like me can no longer in good conscience do.

            Have to stop and post. May edit later, I’m not completely satisfied and would like to proofread and make it better, but no time at the moment so I’ll leave it as is.

            Thanks for the video which prompted this reply.

            Mike

          • Rob Abney

            I hadn't heard of the notion of aeviternity before.

            It seems as if at this point you would start asking questions rather than continuing with objections. I enjoy good discussions but it seems that you are objecting from a different level than Dr. Bonnette's understanding of the subject.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Rob, my comments have centered around this question, which I asked very explicitly: "What does it mean for punishment to be perpetual?". It was a real question, not a rhetorical maneuver. There are quite a few other questions, both implicit and explicit, in my preceding comments. So, I'm not sure where you are getting the idea that I'm not asking questions. I'm also not presuming to be right about my positions, I am just stating what my positions are and why I believe them. Nor am I failing to show respect for Doctor Bonnette's learning and expertise, nor does he seem to think I am doing any such thing. I think you should consider whether you are being unnecessarily defensive. Nonetheless, thank you for your concern.

          • Rob Abney

            You’re welcome. I didn’t intend to imply that you were disrespectful or anything like that just that the discussion is incoherent if you are using a totally different measurement system, one without aveternity.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Exactly. This is why I expressed such interest in the concept of aeviternity, and why I probed whether the distinction between aeviternity and God's eternity might in fact be very much the sort of distinction that we need to keep in mind when talking about the "eternity" of hell. I was embracing a new concept that I had just learned, one that seemed to shed light on the very tensions that I had been trying to express. This is why I am puzzled by your talk about my "objections".

          • BTS

            That is the rationale as to why Christ, who is God, had to suffer for our sins, since God alone can repair this "broken relationship" caused by our sins.

            Catholic Doctrine in the Eastern Church allows for different, and I would say, better, understandings of atonement theory. It's not as simple as you state here. Recapitulation theory does not place the emphasis on sin but on reunification with God.

            Moreover, while we are finite sinners, the Person whom we offend is infinite, which is the basis for us being in one heck of a lot of trouble when we sin!

            I would read that relationship differently, then. Mercy, perhaps.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            As in many cases, none of this necessarily entails a contradiction between the Orthodox and Catholic understanding -- merely different approaches to the same realities.

          • George

            What leads you to the conclusion that offending a so-called infinite being is even worse?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            The key is that sin, as traditionally understood, entails an offense by a creature against his Creator, the Infinite Being, who is God.

            Since the creature is merely a finite being, he does not have within his power the ability to repair adequately a relationship which has, at one of its terms, an Infinite Being.

          • BTS

            Look, I am not making this stuff up.

            I believe you. I think they were making it up.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Cute.

            Of course, any religious revelation that one does not accept will be viewed as a form of delusion.

          • BTS

            My goodness, yes. Agreed!

          • David Nickol

            Thanks. That's a very interesting quote. I have Hart's NT translation and hope to get around to reading it. There's a quote from McKenzie's Dictionary of the Bible that I have posted numerous times in similar discussions. It is as follows:

            These passages suggest that the apocalyptic imagery of other NT passages is to be taken for what it is, imagery, and not as strictly literal theological affirmation. The great truths of judgment and punishment are firmly retained throughout the NT, and no theological hypothesis can be biblical with reduces the ultimate destiny of righteousness and wickedness to the same thing; the details of the afterlife, however, are not disclosed except in imagery.

            It is very difficult to avoid reading Christian doctrine developed over centuries back into the Bible even with a translation that does it's best to avoid such a pitfall. (An interesting attempt is The Unvarnished New Testament by Andy Gaus.)

  • Ben

    This is how I’ve explained the “pains” of Hell to my 8th grade confirmation students…
    The soul needs God just as the body needs food. From what I understand, starving to death is not a pleasant experience, but the pain ends eventually once the body dies. A soul permanently separated from God suffers like the body permanently separated from food, except the soul never dies.
    In terms of how/why a soul gets permanently separated from God, we discuss the doors of Hell as being “locked” from the inside…

    • BTS

      This is just an aside: I'm 45 years old. I was also confirmed in 8th grade. Having reflected on confirmation for many years I now believe 8th grade is ludicrous. An 8th grader knows nothing of life. The commitment is empty even if done in good faith. The Amish do it better with Rumspringa occurring between 17-21 years of age. That is an improvement over 8th grade.

      I'd go further: I think a person must be a full adult with life experience before being confirmed. I suggest to put confirmation closer to age 30. (seriously). I am, of course, wise (and cynical) enough to know why the church won't do this.

      Edit: I have family in AZ who belong to a parish doing combined 1st communion and confirmation in 2nd grade. Do I even have to mention why that is a horrendous idea?

      • Rob Abney

        Confirmation is not a graduation, it is a beginning of a spiritual life in Christ. It's gift of grace is to help with life, not to reward having lived.

        It is up to the bishop to choose the age that he considers the appropriate age to confer this sacrament, since it's his duty to help get the souls in his diocese to heaven.

        • BTS

          Confirmation is not a graduation, it is a beginning of a spiritual life in Christ. It's gift of grace is to help with life, not to reward having lived.

          Rob, I am familiar with the above. I've had the Incarnate Word nuns in grade school, the Jesuits in High school, the Holy Cross order in college. I hang out with an ex-Marist Brother. My brother is becoming a Deacon.

          It is up to the bishop to choose the age that he considers the appropriate age to confer this sacrament, since it's his duty to help get the souls in his diocese to heaven.

          That's just a procedural point. I get it. I'm saying having eighth graders make empty promises is pointless.

        • George

          Would you give them equal time to be educated in every other religion and then give them a choice between all of them?

          • Rob Abney

            If by "them" you mean my own family then the answer is, no. I would give the most educational time to the truth of Jesus Christ, then later we could study other religions. In the same manner I would give the most time to studying modern chemistry before we compared it to alchemy, And we would spend the most time on new math rather than old math, and more time on understanding modern computers rather than abacus.
            The technique you recommend would result in confusion and a shallow understanding of each religion.
            Despite the frequent claim of indoctrination young Catholics frequently follow their own will and choose other religions or none at all.

      • Mark

        Why is 17 or even 30 the prudential age to expect the moral convictions of agape? If you ride the cynicism train to it's natural end you'll find morality and human goodness has been completely dissolved. Cynicism isn't wise; it's sterile, cold-hearted, lonely, and inhumane.

        "A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." Oscar Wilde

        • David Nickol

          I acknowledge it's only a metaphor, but the old Baltimore Catechism describes Confirmation as "a Sacrament through which we receive the Holy Ghost to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ." The idea of prepubescent soldiers still lives on in some societies, but thankfully not in ours. Still, I do recall that when I was in elementary school, we frequently gathered on the playground at recess to discuss "the moral convictions of agape."

          I think it is appropriate for parents to indoctrinate their children with their own religious convictions, but on the other hand, I agree with BTS if he is saying that children are far too young to truly grasp what they are being committed to. (That is why I am so fond of Lenin's quote, "Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.") I don't know what to do about the problem, although the Amish practice of Rumspringa strikes me as not a bad idea.

          A later age for confirmation, by the way, is not at all an outrageous idea:

          Baptism was the sacrament of the initial gift of the Spirit, while Confirmation was the sacrament of the fullness of the Spirit with his seven gifts. When in the Middle Ages it became the practice to confirm close to adolescence instead of infancy, theologians began to teach that Confirmation was the sacrament of maturity. Those who received it were regarded as old enough and ready to live active, responsible Christian lives. The Christian was sealed as a witness for Christ in Confirmation and fortified by an increase of the Spirit’s gifts to fight, suffer, and die for the faith. The notion of the sacrament making a person a soldier of Christ prevailed. The sign of peace in the rite was even replaced by a gentle slap on the face to indicate readiness for life’s battles.

          I just said this to someone else, but you (too) often seem angry here. I don't think BTS comes across as cynical. And if you read past the paragraph I just quoted and gave a link for, the current thinking on Confirmation does not consider it for those who are already mature.

          • Mark

            I happen to suffer from cynical tendencies David. One of my father's gift to me. I truly work everyday to separate my affinity towards it. It is only in seeing it for what it's natural end is that I can see the mind prison it can be. It's a dog that bites its own tail. Sorry if I seem angry, I'm not an angry person, I'm passionate. I don't think BTS is over cynical, but I recognize a tendency to see what is lacking rather than what is abundant. I hopefully am having him consider a world without any kind of faith; that's the natural end of cynicism.

          • BTS

            but I recognize a tendency to see what is lacking rather than what is abundant.

            Mark, I tend to focus not on what is lacking but what I think the church is overemphasizing. One of those things is fanatical devotion to doctrine. Overemphasis on doctrine, procedures and tradition I find to be mean-spirited. If you need an example, subscribe to this newsletter and read them all for two weeks!

            https://www.thecatholicthing.org/

            Put more simply, I detest people wielding Catholicism as a judgmental cudgel rather than a salving balm.

          • BTS

            I agree with BTS if he is saying that children are far too young to truly grasp what they are being committed to.

            Indeed that is precisely what I was saying.

            I don't think BTS comes across as cynical.

            Thank you.
            Admittedly, I am like Mark. I vacillate; I fight cynicism. Sometimes it wins.
            I try to be charitable and decent in discussions, and I try to admit when someone else has a good point.

            I like to think I am now asking all the questions I wish I had known to ask before my confirmation.

          • Raymond

            "The Christian was sealed as a witness for Christ in Confirmation and fortified by an increase of the Spirit’s gifts to fight, suffer, and die for the faith. "

            Yeah, not so much. My experience of Confirmation was "well, that just happened".

          • michael

            My experience at confirmation (In May 2016) was "Is this rapid foot-stomping really part of the ceremony? Is it something done to get people emotionally riled up and thus FEEL as if they are changing? I doubt they do this foot stomping at other churches" "There's the oil on my head" "a little kid saw angels in a hospital hallway when adults couldn't after a dying old man said "'Oh all right' to becoming Christian? Do they always tell stories like this at confirmations?"

          • Raymond

            Were you confirmed in a Catholic church? We didn't do any of those things. As weird as much of Catholic and Protestant ceremony is, those things seem almost cult-y.

          • michael

            Yes, I was describing The Confirmation Ceremony.

        • David Nickol

          "The only way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it." Oscar Wilde

          • Mark

            You do know you're talking to an addict. :)

        • BTS

          Why is 17 or even 30 the prudential age to expect the moral convictions of agape?

          Mark, you are correct that people at any age can engage in agape. Of course.
          All I'm saying is that confirmation is posed to young people as a life-long decision for which they are not developmentally prepared to make. Also, it's not essentially a free decision, either. Where I hail from, on the frigid south shore of Lake Erie, we have many catholic parishes. I can guarantee you the peer pressure to get confirmed is immense. It is just assumed. I think it would actually be the mark of a mature 14-year-old to say "I am going to wait until I fully understand the ramifications of this decision."

          We would rejoice if our kids used the same discretion about a great many other things...

          I hear many Catholics say the same thing about confirmation. I don't think what I am saying is controversial.

          • Mark

            I don't see what you're saying is controversial, mostly it is some raise the bar to higher levels than what the CC says is sufficient.

            So for chutes and ladders let's reapply your logic to a secular cultural/social value such as math education. How many 14 year olds make an essentially free decision to participate in math? At what age would you say they fully understand the ramifications of their math education to participate in a life-long relationship with math? Do they fully understand how math impacts their life when they are walking across the stage receiving their diploma at 18? They don't, so maybe we should assign them a math sponsor to help them in future math matters.

            As an aside I fully support any one of my students who don't want to be confirmed if they put in the work to be confirmed. Also Mary became the Mother of God at about the same age as the girls in my confirmation class. It's hard to weigh the cultural norms of a society that can't cut the umbilical cord to what a "universal" Church finds prudent.

          • BTS

            Mark you know as well as I do that this is a strained analogy.

            At what age would you say they fully understand the ramifications of their math education to participate in a life-long relationship with math?

            You smuggled in the word relationship instead of using commitment and I caught it. :)

            If we made students commit to a college degree or an occupation in math then your analogy would be more apt.

          • Mark

            Maybe if we made them commit to the ordained life or other vocational occupation. You keep moving the goalpost. A spiritual faith life and relationship with Christ is a value to parents and sponsors of confirmandi. We're not asking them to do anything against their free will; we're preparing them to have an adult relationship with Christ. I leave it up to the grace of God to make it a life long commitment.

          • BTS

            Mark, I'm not moving the goalpost. I'm stickin' to my guns here.
            My own teen kids are telling me their confirmations were pointless. They had a "Jesus Loves Us" church lady do the formation work, and an entire Catholic school full of teachers who would not answer the real questions the kids had. Mom and Dad had to answer all the questions.

            They are too young at 14. Probably even at 18. They don't truly understand it. It's not fair to ask of them. There's no need to "lock them in" so young. It's all about money and numbers. They can have a "spiritual faith life and relationship with Christ" without getting confirmed.

          • Mark

            It's all about money and numbers.

            I thought we might be talking past one another. I can see you're waging a war against a different beast. If you want to wage a war on Catholic education, I don't desire to jump into the ring. This year I got paid with a coffee mug that says "blessed". I'm not locking anyone into anything. If they don't want to make the commitment don't. If they want to walk away from the commitment do so. Not on my conscience.

          • BTS

            Ok. Talk again soon. Merry Christmas. I wish you well.

          • Raymond

            I don't recall any "peer pressure" to get confirmed. When we hit 8th grade, the nuns told us it was time for confirmation - here's what it means, here's what you do, here's the time and location, you showed up and it happened. IIRC, the overall response from the students was "Oh. Ok."

          • BTS

            Raymond, Yes, I agree with you. Mine was the same.
            I shall clarify - It's parent-to-parent unspoken peer pressure. No one wants to be the weird kid/family who does not get confirmed. And (gasp) god forbid you are the family who chooses the local public high school over the local Catholic high schools. Oh, the looks we got...

        • George

          Just like the current administration.

      • Phil Tanny

        Having reflected on confirmation for many years I now believe confirming in 8th grade is ludicrous.

        You make a good point, but the situation is perhaps more complicated. At age 15 I had the clarity of mind to quietly walk away from Catholicism. And now here I am at age 67 wasting, wasting, wasting a ton of time on it.

        Young people are admittedly inexperienced and often unsophisticated, but sometimes they have an extra degree of clarity, having not yet been fully indoctrinated by the mediocre group consensus. As example, consider the high school age activists on global warming. They see the danger that is coming in a clear minded manner, while "mature" people such as ourselves think we still have time for the kind of silliness being pursued on this site.

        • BTS

          And now here I am at age 67 wasting, wasting, wasting a ton of time on it.

          I don't think it is wasted time. I sincerely don't.
          You are Jacob wrestling the angel.
          I contend it is a form of prayer.
          God doesn't want "yes men." If God is really there, he will reward the thinkers.

          Capital G used for you, @rob_abney:disqus
          :)

        • michael

          I'm curious, what is your stance on religion/catholicism at age 67, Phil?

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        You think 8th grade is too young? I was brought up in Eastern-rite Catholicism. We were baptized and confirmed all at once as infants (2 for 1 deal!)

    • Phil Tanny

      I can't believe that you're selling this hell crap to kids. You should be ashamed of yourself too. Seriously. Really, seriously. For crying out loud, get a hold of yourself. The hell concept is an ISIS style doctrine. Your brain is locked from the inside.

      • Ben

        Hi Phil,
        Sounds like you could use some time in my class.
        It stands to reason…
        If there is a God
        And we have souls
        And our souls are made for God
        And God is Goodness itself…
        ...then separating ourselves from Goodness itself would be a terrible and eternal state of “dissatisfaction”
        A lot of premises above; perhaps you question them??? If so, you may want to peruse this blog on those topics.

        • Ficino

          Hi Phil,
          Sounds like you could use some time in my class.

          Do you guys realize how complacent and patronizing you often come off?

          • Ben

            Hi Ficino,
            It happens sometimes.
            Don't take us too seriously.

          • Raymond

            Oh, we don't.

        • michael

          The Bible never describes Hell as people separating themselves from God, but rather as God separating people from him. See Luke 13:24-25 for just one example.

    • David Nickol

      In terms of how/why a soul gets permanently separated from God, we discuss the doors of Hell as being “locked” from the inside…

      According to Catholic teaching as I understand it, at death a human being is "locked in" to the state or position he or she held at the end of life. Consequently, whatever a person may discover after death (assuming there is something to discover) can have no effect. Free choices are therefore not possible after death, and if the damned "keep the doors of hell locked from the inside," it is because they cannot do otherwise. This trope should be banished from apologetics along with the "trilemma."

      • Ben

        If the soul is outside of time after death, then I would think no time means no change (the state is fixed). To keep the analogy...we lock the door from the inside at the point of death and throw away the key.
        Reminds me of deathbed conversions...but if you spend your whole life saying "no" to God, can it be so easy to say "yes" at the last minute. I think not

        • David Nickol

          If the soul is outside of time after death, then I would think no time means no change (the state is fixed).

          But from every indication I can think of, the soul is not outside of time (or at least something very much like time) after death. If no change were possible after death, then the souls in purgatory could not be purified. If there is no time (or something like time) after death, then there could be no suffering. And don't forget the resurrection of the dead. According to Catholic teaching both the saved and the damned will eventually have physical bodies. How humans with resurrected bodies could exist "outside of time" is very difficult to imagine.

          It must be (according to Catholic teaching) that the fundamental choice between God and not-God is made during life and not after death, but that does not mean there can be no change at all after death.

          • Ben

            Purgatory: If God can make a universe with and in time, could he not make a spiritual realm with and with and in time, like purgatory? Just my musing...
            Resurrection of the body: No change as we know it. All we know is change within linear time. Exactly how the resurrection of the body happens after death? I believe that falls in the category of Catholic "Mystery"

        • David Nickol

          Some of these issues were discussed in a previous post title Will We Have Free Will in Heaven?

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      How can I hunger for something that never existed?

      • Dennis Bonnette

        By discovering that it actually did exist when it is irrevocably too late to do anything about it.

  • BTS

    This is one of my favorite topics to discuss. I could write and discuss for hours, and would rather do it in a pub in front of a fireplace (is that irony?)

    To get the ball rolling, I would say I have several comments on Dennis' piece.

    Unfortunately, this is precisely why a hardened sinner, who still has essential possession of his rational faculties, can freely exclude himself from heaven by stubbornly rejecting the law of God or even some finite representation of divine majesty and love -- even on his deathbed.

    1) What is a hardened sinner? An addict? a mentally ill person? A stubborn skinflint like Scrooge? A lost sheep? Aren't we told the Shepherd comes to find his lost sheep? Don't we all vacillate between angel and hardened sinner?

    2) I contend we don't really know what is on offer from god until after death. Yes, we use fancy words to explain the offer, but the words are insufficiently descriptive and convincing to many. It is not obvious what the deal on offer truly is. And...humans don't see clearly and don't think clearly because, well, we are human. Yes we are rational but we are also very stupid, all of us. So many impediments. I agree with the words of the review pasted below of DBH's new book that being human is just one big impediment.

    3) I would argue that good deeds done under the threat of damnation don't count as good deeds. Good deeds would be more worthwhile if done out of desire to do good. Period. Since we all apparently live under the constant threat of hellfire, good deeds find their worth diminished because the motivation is selfish.

    4) You mention the choice on the deathbed. Does not the choice happen after that? The choice is made by the spirit freed from the body, I presume, when physical impediments, obsessions, compulsions, addictions, and presumably human failings, mental illness etc are stripped away.

    5) Divine retribution - issued to folks for failing a test in which the rules and objective are unclear? And, as David Nickol has pointed out, a test in which as much as 60+% of humanity never gets to partake? (fertilized eggs that don't implant). If you count the 108 billion homo sapiens who have ever lived, the number who even know they are being tested is paltry.

    I am not a huge fan of quoting long passages in forums but this is so well-argued:
    Why no one would freely choose Hell
    Hart offers a series of four meditations to advance his point, each presenting a different argument. The first relies upon the moral implications of creatio ex nihilo, the second draws upon Scripture, the third makes an argument on the basis of personhood, and the fourth challenges the view that hell is a necessary possibility incurred by human freedom. Each of his meditations was earth-shattering in its deconstruction of the prevailing theological wisdom, but it was the last that really shook me. In the theological circles that I frequent, the existence of an eternal hell is typically justified on the basis of God's respecting human freedom—on this view, hell is possible because it is the logical consequence of human freedom, which entails the possibility of rejecting God.

    Thus, given human immortality, there must be some place to which those who have rejected God descend after death. However, as Hart so gloriously points out, this argument is incompatible with another theological/philosophical idea that those in full possession of their rational faculties will choose the good. Someone with perfect information and free of neuroses and other impediments will choose the good, because rationality is inescapably oriented toward goodness—if a person dying of thirst rejected water, we would not say that that person had made a free, rational choice to do so, but rather that the person was insane.

    The choice to reject God must only be possible in the context in which some impediment exists to either freedom or rationality, and therefore, the choice to reject God utterly can never be free; it must always be the consequence of some imperfection that, in fact, restricts freedom. Our freedom is oriented toward the all-pervading and transcendent Good, toward God himself; no 'free' choice to reject God can logically ever be made, and thus nobody can ever freely choose hell. - Amazon reviewer of DBH's book "That all shall be Saved"
    https://www.amazon.com/That-All-Shall-Saved-Universal/product-reviews/0300246226/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt_lft?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews&filterByStar=positive&pageNumber=1

    I am welcoming others of diverse opinions to jump in on this and discuss.

    • Rob Abney

      It's a whole spectrum that also includes die hard catholics.

      Are these Catholics public figures that you can refer us to in order to back up your assertion or just individuals that you know?

    • Dennis Bonnette

      "However, as Hart so gloriously points out, this argument is incompatible with another theological/philosophical idea that those in full possession of their rational faculties will choose the good. Someone with perfect information and free of neuroses and other impediments will choose the good,"

      A more careful reading of the article already answers this objection.

      Moreover, as stated, it is an implicit denial of free will.

  • Phil Tanny

    Nothing here but more medieval madness. All this hell business is the purest form of total bunk. Honestly, a person of your advanced training should be ashamed of himself for peddling such garbage. And no, I'm not going to elevate the garbage out of the dumpster by taking it seriously enough to debate all your fine points etc.

    So, now I call upon you to be loyal to your own words. I was born and raised Catholic, baptized and confirmed and as you can see above, in regards to doctrines such as you are articulating, I am now truly a heretic. So you owe it to me, and to the Church, and to God, to get me excommunicated. My name is Phil Tanny. I was born in Syracuse New York in 1952.

    Get me excommunicated. Send me to hell. Or shut the fuck up.

    • Rob Abney

      Unfortunately you have to be of sound mind to be excommunicated.

  • >Among possible solutions, it is argued that God permits evils, including physical suffering, for some greater good, which the human mind cannot grasp.

    Obviously this is not a reason, it's just "I don't know".

    >Perhaps, man’s misuse of free will calls forth from divine retributive justice a punishment which seems severe, but which must be measured in terms of the infinite goodness which grievous sins offend – thus requiring the eternal pains of hell as a just punishment.

    This is not how good individuals behave. We don't allow corporal punishment at all because it is immoral. You're saying here the better the yes excruciating pain is justifice for wrongs person you offend the more you should suffer? If the one you offend cannot be harmed, killed, or suffer, it is good that your pain be excruciating and infinite. This makes the Cenobites look merciful.

    You speak of retribution, again maybe I'm just an immoral Atheist, but retribution is immoral to me. Restorative justice, healing, rehabilitation are how I approach wrongs. Why be retributive at all?

    You then go to try and recharatrrize it as restorative. But there is no indication that anything is being restored. The suffering is justified by offending god, but god cannot be reduced, so there is nothing to restore. It's just suffering because there were wrong and though created by God incorrigyibly evil.

    And there are two moralities. Retribution, corporal punishment are objectively wrong, except for god, for whom they are perfectly good.

    Anyway, sure you can rationalize anything if you need to.

    • Phil Tanny

      Anyway, sure you can rationalize anything if you need to.

      Many people have belief systems which are very important to them, and thus they will spare no effort in defending those beliefs. This is not necessarily a problem, we all get through life however we can. Atheists do it too. It's the human condition.

      The problem arises when people in positions of authority, people who have accumulated some type of credibility which gives them access to a wider audience, use their authority to peddle doctrines which instill unnecessary fear in those who trust them.

      The Catholic Church has been doing this for centuries, pumping fear of hell in to the laity in order to require the laity to turn to the clergy for a solution. At it's heart it's a pure power tripping play that was designed to keep the clergy employed doing things easier than working in the fields alongside their parishioners.

      What complicates the situation is that many in the clergy and others of position have drunk the hell koolaid themselves and sincerely believe it. Some of these people, such as the author of this article, are very articulate and skilled at weaving a pitch that will seem authoritative to many who don't have the same credentials.

      It's a mistake to get in to a rational debate on topics like hell, just as it would be a mistake to take ISIS ideology seriously. ISIS says, agree with us or we'll kill you. Catholic clergy says, agree with us or God will kill you (put you in hell). The Catholic tactic is more sophisticated than the ISIS tactic, but it's essentially the same tactic.

      The whole point of religion is to help people make peace with reality. So for instance we see powerful relatable characters like Jesus who is said to love us, a reassuring proposal, a worthy project. All of this good work in thrown straight in the trash at the moment Jesus is reframed as psychopath.

      No amount of philosophical fancy talk, no matter how eloquent, articulate, sophisticated or supported by advanced degrees can convert the concept of hell in to anything but a psychopath's wet dream.

    • Mark

      Restorative justice, healing, rehabilitation are how I approach wrongs. Why be retributive at all

      This assumes a relationship desired by both parties. If I wrong my wife, I can say sorry, be forgiven, but I'm a fool to not get flowers because sacrifice is the language of love. That's why retribution is necessary.

      Retribution, corporal punishment are objectively wrong

      how so?

      • Raymond

        "If I wrong my wife, I can say sorry, be forgiven, but I'm a fool to not get flowers because sacrifice is the language of love. That's why retribution is necessary."

        None of this makes the least bit of sense. There is no connection between sacrifice and retribution. Sacrifice is the opposite of retribution.

        "Retribution, corporal punishment are objectively wrong"

        "how so?"

        Common sense.

        • Mark

          retribute: to give back: to give in return: requite

          requite: 2/ to make suitable return to for a benefit or service or for an injury

          I sacrifice my time or my money or something of value to return to the person I harm.

          The question was, "Why be retributive at all?"

          This may be sophisticated common sense. Don't buy your wife flowers I guess.

  • >Most skeptics’ accusations against the punishments of hell are made on the supposition that even the Christian understanding of creation does not justify such eternal sufferings.

    No, I get that the (actually just some) Christian understanding sees it as justified. I just find it immortal.

    >All this being the case, why does not God simply punish bad lives by letting us merely fail to accomplish our intended final bliss in exactly the manner just described?

    No, the question is why "punish" this at all.

    You say that knowing we would miss the Beatific Vision would not be sufficient justification for leading good lives. This is true. The moral decisions we make are not concerned with Beatific Vision. They have to do with the effect on well being of other moral agents.

    People do not act morally to avoid punishment. If you punish with measured irrelevant to the conduct, you don't encourage good behaviour but behaviour that avoids the punishment.

    It makes no sense to discipline lying with eternal conscious torture.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      The science of ethics requires careful distinctions be made.

      "People do not act morally to avoid punishment. If you punish with measured irrelevant to the conduct, you don't encourage good behaviour but behaviour that avoids the punishment."

      Of course, people perform morally good acts to avoid punishment.

      But you must distinguish the form or purpose of the act from its matter or what is done objectively.

      A materially good act may be performed for an evil purpose, as when someone helps an old lady across the street so as to push her in the path of a bus that will run her down.

      An objectively evil act may be performed for a good purpose, as when someone embezzles money to give to the poor.

      But an materially good act may be performed for a good purpose, as when someone drives carefully to avoid getting a ticket, not because or regard for human life.

      In that last case, the act is not an evil act, although the motive is selfish.

      Eating proper food is can be a selfish act, but it is not immoral.

      So, too, the fear of hell can induce objectively good acts, even though the subjective motive is selfish -- at least initially. While this behavior is done to avoid punishment, it is still materially good in itself, such as avoiding murder and lustful thoughts and actions.

      Nonetheless, since such acts in themselves are ordered toward the true good, the experience of acting rightly may well lead a person gradually to understand the intrinsic goodness of moral virtue, which can then lead to doing such acts for a more noble purpose, such as serving and loving the good itself or even God himself.

      Thus, the fear of hell can lead to holiness, which is God's will for man -- and which God knows will prepare man to reach his last end and perfect happiness, the vision of God himself.

      • Yes a god could coerce moral behaviour by threatening eternal pain. But would this behaviour really be moral to a god that says even looking lustful = adultery?

        Moreover, the threat is poorly made and not reasobably believed. When robbers threaten your money or your life at least they show you the gun.

        But yes, I get it. That's the morality some Christians advance.

        We would consider it abusive if we did it to out kids if course, but that's a different kind of morality that it applies to us.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          I guess you would then feel demeaned to have us called the "children of God."

          It is amazing how many human beings feel insulted to have it pointed out that we are not God and that God is our Creator who is infinitely superior to us -- and to whom we owe our very lives and existence.

          Again, you have a very simplistic understanding of the ethics involved when Christ tells us that even to look at a woman with lust in our hearts is already to have committed adultery.

          He expects that we would use a little common sense to realize that this really means that the internal intention of the will to view the woman as an object of mere lust is of the same species as the actual act of adultery.

          Christ knew, as should any honest reader, that he distinguishes between the lust in one's heart and the actual external commission of the sin of adultery (with all the attendant social damage of the act). Both are mortal sins in the same species, but the actual act of adultery is a far graver offence against the natural law.

          But those who wish to mock religious truths do not bother with trying to understand such distinctions.

          And I would not say that the doctrine is "poorly made" or communicated if about a quarter of the world's population takes it seriously, as I pointed out in the article.

          Remember, the article must be read as a whole -- not merely cherry picked out of context.

          • Raymond

            I'm glad you have the ability to read the mind of God and clarify something He explained poorly.

            And of course, phrases like "a little common sense" and "as should any honest reader" are rhetorical techniques to try to make your arguments seem stronger by attacking the other participant in the argument.

            You do that a lot.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "Common sense" is just another way of saying "with correct reasoning."

            The explanation I gave as to the proper interpretation of Christ's warning about lust and adultery is the standard one given by theologians.

            One need not be God to understand it. Nor was Christ explaining something poorly, when any person of reasonable intelligence and good will would easily grasp it.

            Quite the contrary, he was making a point to those who felt they could think any dirty thoughts they wished with no moral consequences.

          • BTS

            I would be interested in having you make a list of things you have not made up your mind about, Dennis. Some things you are reserving judgment on. Some things you're waiting to learn more about. Because you make it seem like you already know everything.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            It sounds like you could make up that list for me!

          • Raymond

            "Common sense" is just another way of saying "with correct reasoning."

            No it isn't. There is plenty of room for something to be considered "common sense" and still be wrong.

            "{Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by ("common to") nearly all people, and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate."

            It was common sense at one time that the earth was the center of the universe. "Look at all the heavenly lights moving across the sky. Clearly they are moving and we are stationary."

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Okay. So let's call it "sophisticated common sense," like Thomistic philosophy.

            Incidentally, I think it may have been Einstein who observed that, if you are willing to put up with the complexity of the math involved, you could make any location whatever the center of the universe.

          • No I don't feel demeaned by that. I just don't share your belief.

            I don't feel insulted that you have a belief you are infinitely inferior to this God. I am concerned about the effects of such beliefs. If your view is we are infinitely inferior, and some of us deserve eternal torture, it might result it less than compassionate treatment of those thought to be damned.

            >He expects that we would use a little common sense to realize that this really means that the internal intention of the will to view the woman as an object of mere lust is of the same species as the actual act of adultery.

            No, that's your interpretation. You are saying that, not Jesus.

            >And I would not say that the doctrine is "poorly made" or communicated if about a quarter of the world's population takes it seriously, as I pointed out in the article.

            So you are saying, given God's capabilities, getting through to 1in 4 humans is really good? What infinite superiority.

            I do read and understand the article as a whole. It displays a dark and cruel deity and confusing ad hoc theology.

            I'm rather surprised to see the eternal conscious torture version of hell advanced here. It's pretty indefensible.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Oh, where to begin?

            Reason reveals to most of mankind that there exists a God who makes our world and all that is in it.

            Even without divine revelation, that same reason can penetrate creation to realize that all that is good must come from God and that -- when properly understood -- this means that God is all good and loving and wills the good of us, his creatures.

            Reason also tells us that we have immortal souls whose final destiny goes beyond our finite world to eventual union with this good God, provided we live lives that comport with the actual human natures he gave us.

            Now we add a revelation that tells us that God wills us supreme happiness in that union with him for all eternity.
            In fact, it says that the antecedent will of God is that all men be saved.

            The problem of hell arises solely because of the few who absolutely refuse to accept their proper role as creatures and who flaunt the very nature of themselves and the world God has given us.

            Some struggle to understand how anyone could be so ungrateful for creation as to deserve permanent separation from our natural and supernatural last end. And yet, in some fundamental sense, it is advanced that this rejection comes, not from God himself, but from the ungrateful human creature. And even that its wretched permanence arises, not from God's will, but from the stubborn human will itself. Is this not a possibility? Can it be ruled out?

            But you seem to see the whole divine project as a dismal failure. You see the glass not nearly full for all, but desperately empty because you cannot fully fathom the depths of the aberrant fraction of disorder in the midst of a world in which its Creator wants nothing but supreme happiness for all his rational creatures!

            Much to the contrary, theism and Christianity need give no excuse for its rational content and revealed message.

            It is the "good news!"

        • BTS

          And another nuance...
          I have never seen an adequate definition of lust from a Catholic, either.
          Specifically, as one example, when trying to differentiate between a healthy encounter, say with one's wife vs. a lustful encounter with said wife.
          What's the difference? I know, I know, catholics will say you cannot look upon a woman as an object. Well, if you're staring down the barrel of a legitimate romantic encounter, how does one know if its lust or healthy attraction?

  • Perhaps, man’s misuse of free will calls forth from divine retributive justice a punishment which seems severe, but which must be measured in terms of the infinite goodness which grievous sins offend – thus requiring the eternal pains of hell as a just punishment.

    In the Code of Hammurabi, there was a greater punishment for striking a nobleman than a slave. You seem to be taking this to the extreme with God. But that seems like very partial justice—antithetical to God's impartiality. It violates lex talionis to infinite degree. In fact, it seems immediately traceable to Anselm's push to defend the honor of kings God in Cur Deus Homo. We can see this in its gruesome detail in the beginning of Foucault's Discipline and Punish: the king must mete out extraordinary punishment in order to demonstrate that he is an invincible force and we mortals ought to cower in his presence, never even imagining that we could challenge him.

    Pointedly, since God is the transcendent Law Giver, he is not bound by the natural laws that apply to creatures. Rather, it belongs exclusively to him to administer retributive justice to those who violate his laws – natural and divine. This means that it is good that God punish the wicked as part of his overall plan of creating and governing a good and just world.

    In Genesis 15, YHWH makes a covenant with Abram, which we now know follows the Hittite suzerainty treaty form. The meaning of walking through the animals cut in half is this: "If I break this covenant, let the same be done to me." Extraordinarily, YHWH prevents Abram from walking through the bisected animals by putting him in a deep sleep, where Abram sees YHWH passing through the pieces. Is God not here subjecting Godself to law? In so doing, God chose to be vulnerable to our breaking the covenant—up to and including the Cross.

    I know you like to go off of pure reason Dr. Bonnette, but I don't see how you can pull that off, here. God makes promises to us and therefore binds Godself to those promises. God wants to reason with us if only we will submit to arguing rather than ignoring or talking the kind of nonsense that occasionally provoked God to say, "I will not be inquired of by you." The supreme revelation of God includes the following:

    But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25–28)

    Surely this has to retroactively color our understanding of what God was doing in the OT? To view God as "lording it over" / "exercising authority over" in the OT would be to either call "the exact imprint of his nature" false in Hebrews 1:3, or claim that God changed from OT to NT.

    • Mark

      God wants to reason with us if only we will submit to arguing rather
      than ignoring or talking the kind of nonsense that occasionally provoked
      God...

      I don't have the foggiest idea what that means. Is this an argument from a theistic personalist POV?

      • LB: God wants to reason with us if only we will submit to arguing rather than ignoring or talking the kind of nonsense that occasionally provoked God to say, "I will not be inquired of by you."

        M: I don't have the foggiest idea what that means. Is this an argument from a theistic personalist POV?

        First, Googling the quote you excluded would have turned up Ezek 20:3,31. Next, there is the famous Isaiah passage:

        “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
        though your sins are like scarlet,
            they shall be as white as snow;
        though they are red like crimson,
            they shall become like wool.
        (Isaiah 1:18)

        Then there is the desire for God to argue with:

        The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 22:29–31)

        We can stop and note that YHWH honored Abram's questions about how many righteous would save Sodom from destruction. We can note Jacob's wrestling with YHWH and winning, extracting a blessing in the process. We can note that one of the meanings of 'Israel' is "wrestles with God". Finally, there is this glorious passage:

        Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

        “Dress for action like a man;
            I will question you, and you make it known to me.
        Will you even put me in the wrong?
            Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
        Have you an arm like God,
            and can you thunder with a voice like his?

        “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
            clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
        Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
            and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
        Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
            and tread down the wicked where they stand.
        Hide them all in the dust together;
            bind their faces in the world below.
        Then will I also acknowledge to you
            that your own right hand can save you.
        (Job 40:6–14)

        God wants us to argue with Godself—respectfully.

        • Mark

          I started with googling Godself and found out some people are concerned God is concerned about Godself's gender identity. God help us.

          • God is described in the Tanakh as doing father-like things as mother-like things. Eve is Adam's `ezer and God is Israel's `ezer. Jesus uses a very feminine analogy in his lament over Jerusalem: "How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" I think there is some merit to not associating God too closely with any person or group of persons, as if only a subset of persons were created in the image of God.

            The stereotypical gender difference in Western civilization may even be relevant to this conversation, as fathers are more likely to interact with children as adults and mothers are more likely to interact with children as children. Adults respond to reason reliably; children have limits. It is important to understand both modes of interaction. And it is important to note that God does not demand blind obedience, but instead wishes to reason with us.

            Those who have a vested interest in presenting God as demanding blind obedience are those who themselves demand blind obedience. Parents sometimes have to do this of children because children have not yet learned and become fully stable beings who can be addressed with reason. But parents are failures if they do not help their children develop the ability to reason with them as equals.

          • Ficino

            od is described in the Tanakh as doing father-like things as mother-like things.

            Sorry, Luke, surely you know by now that no one is allowed to quote Scripture to support any conclusion of his private judgment. The interpretation of Scripture is assigned rightly only to the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. You've been on these sites for years and don't know this yet?

            Now go and study your Aquinas.

          • I am indeed incurable. I wonder what Thomas would think of being told to study Thomas before the Bible. :-D

          • Sample1

            By hook or by crook, Aquinas was, in fact, a
            highly important ingredient amongst all the various ingredients that eventually led me to conclude I could no longer in good conscience continue to accept, let alone behave, as if I considered the enterprise that is Catholicism, a reliable and honest pathway to, well, how shall I put it? a reliable and honest method to understand reality.

            And for what it’s worth. You need not be cured. You’re Luke. Or as Geena Saphire once described, albeit frustratingly, a force of nature. Simply stated, but not simplistically, all of us can only do what our individual skill sets affords us to do. You’re Luke. Don’t ever change unless you are convinced by evidence that there is good reason to.

            And I’ll do the same. And together we will drive each other up the wall until Jesus does return (not betting on that) or we find good reasons to no longer be bothered, or, or we will find the exceedingly rare moments when agreement is reached between us and use that as a opportunity to rest and be content for as long as we are able to.

            Ready for your objections. :-p

            Mike, atheist in the house

          • Ficino

            Responsibly thought out, Mike.

            I'm guessing you might be told either that you simply fail to understand Aquinas (or metaphysical first principles or whatever) or maybe even that you are a "hardened sinner." Cuz you love the autonomy of your intellect and will and will not submit to authority outside yourself.

            I write with a bit of excess... but I applaud your integrity. As far as I know you only online, "hardened sinner" is a description that in no way fits you.

          • There is some irony in Aquinas being important in your ejection. I find that philosophers who are wrong but ultra-consistent in their wrongness are very valuable for seeing the error of their way of thinking. Without an environment that fosters Thomases, could one become forever trapped in mediocrity/​incoherence?

            I had forgotten about Geena's "force of nature" comment. I don't know how one can be, without being a force of nature—perhaps without doing at least a mini-Aquinas. It's hard to know you're wrong on anything if you are not hard-to-vary. :-p

            Ok, I've danced the line. Next on the docket is preparing to be a force of nature with my folks over the holiday, trying to convince them that humans have much more potential than is currently actualized and that this meshes perfectly with God's glory being much more excellent than what we currently see among Christians. Seeing as they are largely responsible with my being a force of nature, this could get interesting.

          • Ficino

            I wager any RC churchman would say that the individual is rightly led by his private judgment to reach the Church as the mouthpiece of God's special revelation, but that, once found, the Church is to be the individual's source of instruction into the content of revelation. Not his own study of scripture, which is good and useful for edification etc. (e.g. as in one's lectio divina) but not for his working out doctrine or precept. But of course you know this!

          • Back to Moses & Sinai, with the people too scared they'll die if God says another word directly to them? (Ex 20:18–21, Dt 5:22–33 & 18:15–22, Heb 12:18–29) There does seem to be a mode of being where that is required, but my private interpretation of Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32 suggests that this is a degenerate way of existing—see especially that bit saying "And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord." If anyone wants to give me the Catholic perspective on this, I'm game.

          • Mark

            Thomas arguing with Thomasself. I'm with you; that would be good.

          • Thomas was a biological male. He would be ashamed at your poor use of analogy.

          • David Nickol

            from the Catechism (bold added)

            239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

      • BTS

        If Luke wrote a piece to satirize himself it would be indistinguishable from his serious pieces. I'm not sure if that says more about him or me.

        :)

  • David Nickol

    One thing I find disturbing about the idea of hell as a "deterrent" is that the women who obtains an abortion, the doctor who performs hundreds of abortions, and the mass murderer (Eichman, Pol Pot) all get the same punishment (if they are unrepentant). I am aware that Aquinas says punishments in hell will be "proportional" to the misdeeds of the sinners, but it is difficult for me to imagine that "hell lite" for, say, skipping Mass on Sunday is really a lot more to be preferred to industrial-strength hell for mass murderers.

    It seems the Christian message regarding hell could be interpreted to say that if you are going to be wicked, you might as well be as wicked as you can possibly be. I doubt that many people who believe they are going to hell would be deterred by the thought that if they commit a few more (or a few thousand more) sins, hell will be even more unpleasant.

    • Rob Abney

      Why do you consider a mortal sin against God to be worse based upon the number of humans offended? I don't think that Catholics that understand the seriousness of one mortal sin will be persuaded by your alternate Christian message.

      • BTS

        Rob, it is, as Dennis is so found of saying, "common sense."

        • Rob Abney

          No, I think it is more of utilitarianism sense. To sin against God is an infinite act so how could two infinite acts be worse than one, it can’t be.

          • BTS

            That's just mishmashing of words.When you start making projections about unfalsifiable things you can define the words to mean whatever you want.

            But I'll play your game...
            Human sins are not infinite. Confession can apparently obliterate them.

            Two mortal sins on a conscience can be worse than one! If you only confess one mortal sin, and are sincerely sorry for one sin (but not the other) you still have the problem of the remaining sin, for which you can end up in hell. So, the second sin did indeed make things worse. God is still offended.

          • Raymond

            Oh, so counting sins is a thing? I missed Mass two months ago and I forgot to mention it, and to Hell with you? Nice.

          • BTS

            Raymond,
            I think you missed that I was giving Rob a tongue-in-cheek response.
            I'll make an edit...

      • David Nickol

        Why do you consider a mortal sin against God to be worse based upon the number of humans offended?

        First of all, the idea of one mortal sin being worse than another was not a premise of what I wrote above. Assuming the Catholic position on abortion to be correct, a woman who obtains one abortion and a doctor who performs hundreds of abortions have not committed the same number of sins.

        However, clearly according to Catholic teaching, some venial sins are graver than others, and some mortal sins are graver than others. Do you deny this?

        I don't think that Catholics that understand the seriousness of one mortal sin will be persuaded by your alternate Christian message.

        What does this even mean?

  • Yet, while revenge is not an act permitted to mere mortals, it does have a legitimate meaning properly reserved to God as the ultimate administrator of retributive justice. Retributive justice is not just “getting back” at someone, but the restoration of the proper order of things – an order in which each person gets exactly what he deserves, including proper punishment for his evil deeds. Moreover, it must be understood that this right belongs in its highest instance to God alone as creator and supreme lawgiver.

    (1) Whenever I receive grace or mercy, I get something that I did not "deserve". So even without a single sin, humans would have gotten things they did not "deserve". When the Israelites were given the Promised Land, flowing with milk & honey and already built up, they got something they did not "deserve". When God relented from punishing Nineveh after they repented, they did not get what they "deserve".

    (2) Punishment does not restore relationship. If you punish one of your children for disobeying, that doesn't fix things. Law reveals sin without curing it. "For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." The only use of punishment, if God is hell-bent on restoring creation, is to teach us of how terrible the full consequences of our sin were. This is required if and when we refuse to reason ourselves to the full consequences. It is a technique required for children.

    (3) God routinely took the brokenness of the world onto Godself, instead of forcing the world to experience the [full] consequences. For example, Abra[ha]m was saved from passing Sarai his wife off as his sister, as well as fathering Ishmael. Jacob was protected from the [full] consequences of his habitual deceit. This all presages Jesus taking our brokenness onto himself, and asking us to take up our crosses and follow him.

  • George

    Chimps form social groups in the wild, and sometimes, the groups gang up on an individual chimp and torture them to death.

    What could apes with bigger brains come up with that could organize even larger social groups? Thousands, millions, billions? What could they do with language and abstract thought?

    "We're gonna gang up on you and torture you if you aren't with us. And you'll never get away, even if you outlive us."

    • Rob Abney

      I don't get it.
      How does it follow that one (I guess you are referring to humans) who is ganged up on and tortured is then condemned to hell?

      • David Nickol

        How does it follow that one (I guess you are referring to humans) who is ganged up on and tortured is then condemned to hell?

        I don't pretend to know what michael is talking about, but this reminds me of a thought of my own. Many, many times in life we find out that the perpetrators of heinous actions on others were earlier victims of the same kind of crimes they go on to commit. For example, here's the beginning of a very recent news report:

        Legion of Christ finds 33 priests, 71 seminarian sex abusers

        VATICAN CITY — The Legion of Christ religious order, which was discredited by its pedophile founder and the cult-like practices he imposed, says an internal investigation has identified 33 priests and 71 seminarians who sexually abused minors over the past eight decades.

        A third of the priestly abusers were themselves victims of the Legion's late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, while others were victims of his victims — a multi-generational chain of abuse that confirms Maciel's toxic influence spread throughout the order. . . .

        Sexual abuse is a heinous offense, but how subjectively guilty is an abuser who was himself the victim of traumatizing abuse at an earlier time?

        My point is that there is a lot of glib talk about "free will," but it seems to me much of human behavior that is not wholly free or maybe not even mostly free. Yes, we can assume an omniscient, all-just God takes this into account in deciding who is save and who is damned. But of course we are just guessing how it all works.

        • Rob Abney

          I don’t think that we are guessing at how all this works, God knows your culpability.
          And I don’t think that civil society considers the abused who abuse others to not be culpable, civil society and the government assume free will.

          • David Nickol

            I don’t think that we are guessing at how all this works, God knows your culpability.

            Of course we are guessing. Even if we believe God knows a person's subjective culpability and how it is diminished by past traumatic experiences, faulty upbringing, anomalies in brain chemistry, and hundreds of other factors, known and unknown. we don't know the "formula" God allegedly uses to determine culpability. We assume some kind of objective "grade" can be given (using the "life is an exam" metaphor), but it seems to me we may be wholly ignorant of what it is, if such a calculation can be made.

            And I don’t think that civil society considers the abused who abuse others to not be culpable . . . ..

            Although you are mostly (but not entirely) correct, we are not talking about civil society. Civil society has little choice but to make objective judgments about "sins" that are also criminal behavior. But God is assumed to be omniscient and all just. There is research that tells us the zip code we are born into determine a great deal about our future life. But is an omniscient, all-just God going to judge people based largely on the circumstances of their lives they had no control over?

            Also, it seems to me the Church changes its opinions about God's judgment over time. For example, it is only since the 1960s that the Church has permitted funeral masses and burial in consecrated ground for those who commit suicide.

            The Catechism says:

            2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

            It seems here the Catechism has resorted to "making stuff up"—a mysterious, unknowable process known only to God. Why posit such a thing. The obvious position on suicide (it seems to me) is that it would be judged by God just as any seriously forbidden behavior. Persons would only be guilty of mortal sin if they were fully aware of what they were doing and fully consented to the act.

          • Rob Abney

            Perfect synopsis of fallen man in need of an Incarnate Word to provide the means for forgiveness of sins, even those committed at the very end of this life as long as we do not separate ourselves from God. Merry Christmas David.

          • David Nickol

            Perfect synopsis of fallen man in need of an Incarnate Word to provide the means for forgiveness of sins . . . .

      • George

        The idea of a hell, a threat of ultimate suffering, replaces of the threat of immediate physical torture. Details change. Your peers in the tribe don't actually do the torturing now.

        Does that mean the concept of hell can't be from the same brutal, violent part of our brains?

        • Rob Abney

          Your musings make me think that you don’t really have a good understanding of the difference in intellect between humans and beasts. Nonetheless, I think your premise fails for other reasons.
          Why was hell such a late addition to our knowledge, surely our violent brains didn’t need to await Christianity. More importantly, if we invented hell, why did we make it so easy to avoid?

          Also, I presume you don’t think the violent chimps are sinful but do you think humans acting the same way are? If neither group of bad actors gets punished in this life then would you suspect no difference in their ultimate justice?

  • Gary M
    • Dennis Bonnette

      The article you link to claims that Christian religious belief is primarily a matter of indoctrination that begets a lack of critical reflection:

      "The overwhelming majority of Christians believed in the reality of the supernatural tales of Christianity when they were young children."

      I wonder what kind of indoctrination leads adult atheists to believe that the universe has existed in some form or other from all eternity and there is absolutely no reason why this so except that it happens to be so -- what they "explain" by calling it a "brute fact."

      • Gary M

        I can't speak for all adult atheists, but I personally am undecided as to the origin of the universe. I am undecided because the experts are undecided on this issue. Once the experts reach a consensus on the origin of the universe, I will accept the consensus expert position. That is what most educated people in the western world do: We accept consensus expert opinion on all issues about which we personally are not experts.

        I have a question for you: Do you believe that the resurrected Jesus dwells within you?

        • Dennis Bonnette

          You are missing the point. This is not a scientific observation, but a philosophical one.

          Astrophysicists can try to determine whether the cosmos had an absolute beginning in time or not, but the philosophical problem remains. If it had an absolute beginning in time, then either that is a "brute fact," or else, something outside the cosmos caused it. If it had no beginning in time, then we are into the territory of the atheistic fairy tale that the cosmos has always existed, but there is no reason why -- other than the "brute fact" that it did, which amounts to denying any reason for its existence. And this from people claiming to be the most rational of thinkers!

          As to your theological question about Jesus, I leave that to the theologians -- of which I am not one. My profession is philosophy. While I sometimes comment on the rational credibility of a theological doctrine, I do not routinely deal with questions such as you raise, which would require careful definition of a number of theological concepts before any comments about rationaly credibility would be in order.

          • Gary M

            As I said, I have no idea when or how the universe began. I am very comfortable admitting that I don't know everything there is to know.

            However, it is my opinion that one does not need to know the origin of the universe to reject the reality of leprechauns, unicorns, and resurrected first century virgin born demi-gods. These entities may exist, but the probability of their existence is so low that it isn't worth our time worrying about them.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            So, for you it is just fine that the universe may have been in existence for all eternity and there simply isn't any reason why this is so.

            But you reject all these other things that you think are mythical because they don't make any sense to you, that is, it sounds to you like there just isn't any reason for them to exist.

          • Gary M

            I do not REJECT them because I KNOW they do not exist. I simply IGNORE them because I DOUBT they exist. If better evidence comes along for their existence, then I am willing to change my mind.

            I will bet that you follow this same habit regarding leprechauns, unicorns, flying horses, and talking water buffalo.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            This isn't even a question of whether these thing or the universe exist or not. It is a question of believing that things can exist without there being any reason for them existing.

            My point is that atheists take it for granted that the universe is just a given for which there is no reason that it exists -- other than the simple fact that it does .... or always has.

            We demand reasons for everything else. Why not the cosmos itself? That is why many atheists just claim it is a "brute fact," which amounts to saying that something is a given without any reason for its existing at all.

          • Gary M

            As I said earlier, I have no idea as to the origin of the universe. I'll leave that to the experts.

            I have a question: Do you believe that the resurrected Jesus dwells within you?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            As I explained earlier, that first sentence is irrelevant to my comment.

            And also, I replied to your second sentence previously.

            Unaided reason would require that I affirm the existence of God even if I were not a Christian. So, what is the point of your second sentence?

          • Gary M

            Sorry, I didn't see your response. Could you repeat it? Do you believe that the resurrected Jesus dwells within you?

          • BTS

            My point is that atheists take it for granted that the universe is just a given for which there is no reason that it exists -- other than the simple fact that it does .... or always has.

            No, no no no no. That is not at all what I see and hear. After reading on these topics exhaustively for the last 3 years and after listening to hundreds of debates and thousands of podcasts (yes, on both "sides" of the aisle) with all sorts of apologists and skeptics of all kinds, I don't see many atheists saying this at all. It is much more accurate to state that the atheists are reserving judgment and saying they just don't know. Seems to me the atheists prefer uncertainty to cognitive dissonance. They would rather reserve judgment then make an errant claim.

            Edit: I'd be happy to post a list of what I listen to if anyone is interested.

          • Rob Abney

            Sure, post the best few from each “side”.

          • BTS
          • Rob Abney

            Thanks. Are you signed up for the Thomistic Institute emails at Aquinas101 ?

          • Rob Abney

            It seems as if you don't agree with Fr Mike Schmitz on this subject?

          • BTS

            What gave you that impression? :)
            Correct, in any case. I am still making up my mind, but I might be a universalist.

          • Rob Abney

            I listen to the Unbelievable podcast frequently, unfortunately he rarely has Catholics on the show, although one of the best shows featured a Catholic, https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Why-I-became-a-Protestant.-Why-I-converted-to-Catholicism.-Chris-Arnzen-James-Bogle

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Well, I guess sampling diverse data can give diverse results. But, when I published an article showing why cosmic existence requires God's existence, I listed several major secular philosophers who precisely did take the position that the eternal universe requires no explanation beyond the mere fact that it is a given. For example, see the positions by Roy Wood Sellars, Kai Nielsen, Anthony Flew, and John Hospers as cited in my paper here: http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/creation_implies_god.html

            Perhaps, I did not make clear what I stated in that paper, namely, that the atheists are either saying there is no need for a sufficient reason for the cosmos, or else, it is simply its own explanation. Either way, it amounts to saying the cosmos is a brute fact, a given, for which there is need for no further explanation.

            Perhaps, it will make the issue clearer if I quote from my own article:

            "But in a contrary response to this same most basic question, as Roy Wood Sellars puts it,”…the modem materialist stresses the aseity as against the contingence notion of creationalism.”12

            The meaning for the materialist of this “aseity” is put with clarity by Nielsen: “…all other realities, if such there be, depend for their existence on these physical realities, but these physical realities do not depend on any other realities for their own existence.”13"

            In other words, the modern materialist atheist simply takes it for granted that the cosmos has always existed and is self-explanatory.

            The problem is that the internal laws of physics describe how what exists behaves, but it does not explain why the cosmos and its laws exist at all. Just saying it is all "self-explanatory" is not an explanation. And the explanation needed here is metaphysical in nature, not physical.

        • Sample1

          Evolving from quadrupeds into bipeds allowed our species new survival opportunities but it also left our skeletal systems susceptible to back pain. Likewise with brain evolution. Cognition allowed survival enhancing predictive capabilities but also left us susceptible to imagination that doesn’t always correlate to reality.

          Just the other day in meat-world, I was asked if I believed the Apollo moon landing happened by someone who is at the top of her field that is driven by science-based medical discovery. I turned the question around, being unprepared and suppressing shock, hoping that would allow me time to decide how to respond. Another peer chimed in during my pause with skepticism, saying the US may have simply won a well executed farcical propaganda game to demoralize the Soviets. With two otherwise educated people now expressing doubt it was I who became demoralized!

          It reminded me that even in the company of seemingly rational people often only a question or two separates that surface impression from a mental operating system that alchemists, astrologers and the first furry shamans remained 100% enslaved to and similarly all our ancestors. That is, until a criterion for good explanations was discovered, those that are hard-to-vary, which created a marketplace of relentless progress while shrinking the previous machinery of explanation down to all but a few gears and pistons that still claim functionality in some corners of philosophy and all of theology.

          But as to your point, yes expert consensus is a powerful influence but I’d add that billions of human beings (including in the West) utilize compartmentalism for navigating reality. Compartmentalism is a relatively new mental adaptation, a successful one (my co-workers have jobs), but as with all adaptations, it’s difficult to predict what may follow. Perhaps our species is living in what may be seen as a “Golden Age” of reason where perhaps in the far future, if lacking the ability to compartmentalize becomes ubiquitous, may result in a descendants and a society we’d rather not be part of?

          I’m now reminded of a Dawkins/Hitchens informal talk where Hitchens leaves Dawkins perplexed that a world without superstition isn’t what he’d want today. To which Dawkins, after a moment, interprets that to mean there would be no more sword sharpening debates for Hitchens to improve his reasoning skills with, a reply that Hitchens seemed to agree with by smiling.

          Mike

          • Rob Abney

            When you refer to the brain evolving to being capable of imagination it seems like you are probably referring to conceptual capability?

            "An image is solely of how something appears to the senses, as having this color or that shape or sound. But, the concept gives us the very nature of something, for example, a mammal is understood as an animal that gives milk." https://strangenotions.com/why-humans-are-more-than-mere-animals/

            Where would you suggest that I could read/watch to learn about the evolution of conceptual capabilities?

          • Sample1

            You ask a perfectly reasonable question and a talk given by Andy Thomson immediately came to mind, one I came across many years ago and took me a while to find. But in addition to your question it’s equally important to study the theory of natural selection itself which helps one know how to think about it, unlocking its explanatory power. Much like how you may ask Protestants, I suppose, to study the theology of Catholicism to help better explain why Marian hyperdulia is not worship due to the Trinity alone and so on.

            Here’s the video, enjoy: https://youtu.be/1iMmvu9eMrg

            Mike

          • Rob Abney

            Thanks for the video.
            Summary of video: our highly evolved cognitive structures lead us to invent religions. But my question was how did the cognitive structures evolve to enable not only images in the brain but concepts in the first place?
            It was comical when he described a TV interview where Darwin and another scientist accidentally discussed the intentionality of natural selection.

          • Rob Abney

            Evolutionary psychology (EP) argues that the mind of modern humans was formed as a result of selection pressures in the Stone Age. The empirical data are often overinterpreted, and EP is mostly based upon an outdated view of evolutionary biology.
            Behav Processes. 2015 Aug;117:82-91. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2015.06.008. Epub 2015 Jun 16.

          • Sample1

            I thought the video addressed pretty well how the theory could explain the building blocks of cognition that leads to vulnerabilities of assuming agents when none were needed. And yes, the point with the Dawkins/Randy Nesse talk is to show how even amongst scientists it requires skill to explain evolution without making mistakes about agent-like language.

            Mike

          • Sample1

            @rob_abney:disqus

            Addendum: Were you wanting more along the likes of how understanding evolution in aquatic vs terrestrial animals (eventually us) could have led to cognitive expansion? The idea that in water, for instance, that the eyesight of distant ancestors was limited and able to only see a few inches or feet resulted in less complicated behaviors (fight or flight)? Eyes adapting to an environment that wasn’t one of water but of an atmosphere, allowed more time to be placed between what was seen (perhaps now yards or even miles away) and the ancestor. That time, which didn’t exist in the same way for aquatic ancestors, allowed for new abilities to be favored. Abilities to think of what to do in that space of time. Time that allowed new behaviors which further favored cognitive expansions.

            The ability to harness time, and great amounts of it, without endangering oneself is definitely part of the explanation for how thinking and not just reacting, became an art furthering cognition...one that we even recognize idiomatically: armchair thinking. :-)

            Mike

          • Rob Abney

            I'm looking for a discussion that can support the steps in evolution of human conceptual ability.
            Have you ever read this OP that explains the difference between concepts and images?
            https://strangenotions.com/why-humans-are-more-than-mere-animals/

          • Sample1

            Where have you looked so far?

            Mike

          • Sample1

            I will try posting again, first reply didn’t take.

            I’m looking for a discussion....

            Can I ask where you’ve looked so far? And yes, I’ve read that OP. How is that article relevant to a discussion you’re seeking about evolution?

            Mike

          • Ficino

            Jumping in to hazard a guess, which Rob can correct if it's wrong: relevant because it makes no sense to say that an immaterial faculty of spiritual soul evolved? The thesis that the objects of intellect are immaterial, disconnected from matter (unlike images), therefore the faculty that operates on concepts must be immaterial, is a piece of the argument that rational/intellectual soul is immaterial (or the active intellect - different terms have been used in different shades of discussion). And since evolution only tells us how the body and the nutritive/sensitive faculties of soul came to be, the ToE can't tell us about the origin of the faculty of soul that makes humans distinctively human, by which they carry out their unique and proper ontological functions (reasoning and willing). And on the principle of proportionate causality, the spiritual human soul as so defined can only have been caused by a generator that Itself is immaterial and has intellect and will. i.e. God, by direct creation.

            Am I in the ballpark?

          • Rob Abney

            Home run! That is the issue that I’m interested in, trying to understand how the theory of evolution tries to explain it. Thanks

          • Sample1

            Hi Ficino,

            My Disqus is behaving poorly. No notifications about replies and my posts are delayed (one got eaten). As if that wasn’t enough, my history seems stalled out at 3days ago so can’t even see my own recent posts or new replies in history. Settings, logging in/out, and other attempts made but no luck. In fact, for each reply I am in logged out mode and must begin replying/posting while signed out and when finished, hit the log in Disqus icon where it puts me in edit mode, then I can post. If the word wonky has any meaning, it is this!

            But yes, we suspected the exact situation with Rob. We’ve got a fallacy of category going on for the most part. Standard in these discussions. Been mulling over a reply. Steel-manning is the way to go. Perhaps Rob will steel-man the explanation for cognition from a TOE POV.

            Mike, Happy New Year!

          • Ficino

            hey Mike, I finally was able to see yours. I look forward to your reply, and happy new year, F

      • Ellabulldog

        believe in or believe that? big difference.

        that atheists do not believe in a god doesn't mean they believe every science assertion either. Existence may be eternal or it may only be about 14 billion years old. We just don't know.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          You miss the point completely.

          It does not matter whether the universe begins to be or is eternal.

          If it begins to be from absolutely no preexisting state, then you go from absolutely nothing to something. Even a child knows you cannot get a rabbit out of a hat that does not contain one.

          The logical position of atheism is that the universe must have always existed in some form. Some physical reality or condition must have always been a given, even if it is merely something like a quantum vacuum.

          But, it you ask why it has always been in existence, the answer is often given that it is simply a "brute fact," which amounts to saying it is something for which there is no reason at all.

          Odd coming from those who claim to be the most rational of people, people who demand reasons for everything -- except for "everything" itself.

          • George

            If there was no time before the universe, couldnt you have a finite time going into the past with no beginning, because there is no "before" state?

            Also, you should contend with those who don't assert it's a brute fact, but that its what we know so far based on the data, and that we'll just keep trying to figure it out. That's honesty, not blasphemy. Maybe there's a brick wall to our knowledge, maybe there isn't. How would we know either way? The honest thing is to keep looking.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            The real problem here is that people are trying to address a metaphysical question by seeking an answer from natural science, which simply isn't equipped to address it.

            The real question isn't when did the cosmos begin to exist, but why does it exist at all?

            Those who admit it is simply what they call a "brute fact" are referring to the fact that it exists at all. Natural science takes existing phenomena and attempts to predict future phenomena or even explain it in terms of previously existing phenomena. But the question of why the phenomenal universe exists at all is always presupposed by the such attempts to discern mathematically intelligible relationships between various phenomena.

            The basic presupposition of all this is that we have an existing universe with such and such phenomena. So, the more fundamental question is why does anything exist at all, regardless as to when it begins to exist if at all.

            I have addressed this proof for God's existence in an earlier SN article: https://strangenotions.com/how-cosmic-existence-reveals-gods-reality/

            But, just calling cosmic existence a brute fact amounts to saying it is real, but that there is no real reason why it is real. That amounts to a denial of the metaphysical principle of sufficient reason, which is a philosophical, not a scientific, principle.

          • George

            > The real question isn't when did the cosmos begin to exist, but why does it exist at all?

            Is it possible for one to not know the answer, and also discern false or useless answers put forth?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I have not seen many atheists directly address the question as to why the cosmos exists at all. And when they do, most simply deny that any further explanation or reason is necessary. They do not seem to be proving that any answers are false or useless, since they do not even face the question as meaningful in the face of a "brute fact."

            Stephen Hawking did pose the question of why does anything exist at all. But his answer devolves into a physical theory that still presupposes the physical laws from which it flows. And he was a rarity.

          • Jim the Scott

            @dennisbonnette:disqus

            George buddy(& I am tagging in Dr. B),

            We do philosophical arguments for the existence of God here. Not scientific ones. Indeed from the perspective of Classic Theism to try to prove or disprove God's existence via science makes about as much sense as using a particle accelerator to test natural selection in biological organisms. It is called a category mistake.

            All classic Philosophical arguments for the existence of God presuppose the Universe always existed without a formal beginning. The Kalam & St Boniventure argument against an infinite past are the two sole exceptions and Scholastics reject them & the idea you can prove scientifically that creation had a formal beginning. Aquinas believed you can only know creation had a beginning based on divine revelation.

            I note yer website is for ex-Fundamentalists? We are not fundamentalists here. We are Classic Theists. We don't do Intelligent Design or Young Earth Creationism or even Old Earth Creationism.

            I inform you of these facts so you don't waste yer time or ours with non-starters.

            Pursuant too those facts.

            You wrote:
            >If there was no time before the universe, couldnt you have a finite time going into the past with no beginning, because there is no "before" state?

            Yea that is Hawkings' no boundary view that the Universe has a finite past with no formal beginning point.

            That view is 100% with existing philosophical arguments for the existence of God and if I believe Catholic Physicist Stephen Barr it is likely compatible with a general Catholic view of creation.

            Just so you know.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Also, you should contend with those who don't assert it's a brute fact, but that its what we know so far based on the data, and that we'll just keep trying to figure it out.

            Either the Universe is a metaphysical brute fact (not to be confused with an epistemological brute fact which Dr. B is not discussing) or it has a reason for its existence regardless if it has an eternal past or formal beginning point with a finite past or finite past without a formal beginning point.

            That is the philosophical issue. Science has nothing to do with it. Again we don't try to prove the existence of a Higg Bosum particle by trying to dig it up from a fossil record.

            Cheers.

            Carry on.

          • Ellabulldog

            you have it wrong.

            atheism is simply a non belief in gods.
            it has nothing to do with how this universe or Existence started or if it always was.

            what you are possibly experiencing is some atheists claiming that your "Creator" argument is special pleading because the claim is a god does not need a creator itself.

            so if a "Creator" doesn't need a cause then the universe or "Existence" does not either.

            It's fairly simple.

            Of course if you have an argument that claims a "Creator" does not need a cause that same argument can then be applied to "Existence" as well.

            Most atheists are agnostic towards the question of how Existence came to be. I know of none that claim any knowledge that answers such a question.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Of course, atheists duck the question as to why the cosmos exists, since it is deadly to their atheism. Just plead ignorance. Or, say it is a brute fact.

            But never acknowledge that, just as science demands reasons for everything else, reason itself demands a reason for the ultimate unexplained fact, the existence of the universe itself.

            The best proofs for God's existence are fully open to the possibility the cosmos has always existed, since it is not the beginning of the cosmos in time that is most critical, but rather it is the stunning fact that anything exists at all that demands some ultimate explanation -- or else, intellectual suicide.

            As to the old chestnut that, if the universe requires a creator, then who created the creator -- that one was answered by classical philosophers long ago. The universe demands some extrinsic explanation precisely because it cannot explain itself -- and that is the foundation for all the best proofs for God. But God needs no extrinsic cause for the simple reason that the Infinite Being exists through his very essence, and thus, needs no extrinsic reason for being.

            Theists, unlike atheistic materialists, know we need a reason for everything. It is just that God can explain himself, whereas a finite, ever-changing physical world cannot.

            Just read the best proofs for God's existence for yourself.

          • Ellabulldog

            Classical philosophers were struggling with such a question. Certainly you know how philosophy has changed over the centuries. You are stuck on the ancients because they wrote what appeals to you. Those ancient proofs have long been discarded.

            Modern philosophers are predominantly agnostic today.

            I'm sure you know what confirmation bias is. Motivated reasoning.

            You have invested a lifetime in convincing your mind that your faith and your god actually exist.

            You have sunk costs. You are mortal and do fear your mortality.

            You hide that fear and mask it with Thomist philosophy. It's ok.

            I won't claim to know the answers you are seeking.

            I do know that you found answers that appealed to you emotionally. Not rationally.

            Your life's work is all about dissonance.

            You have to work really hard every day to convince yourself your choice is correct. You have to ignore the work of recent philosophers to hold on to your belief. You have to ignore some science or work really hard to convince yourself that your beliefs are correct. An example of that is your Adam and Eve post. The fable was shown to be just that when we gained the knowledge of how humans have evolved over millions of years. As a Catholic you can kind of ignore the facts because that's what the Catholic Church simply did. They just ignored it. Evangelicals struggle with Evolution because it ruins the literal Bible. We know that the Earth isn't thousands of years old. We know there was no Garden of Eden. We know that modern humans did not evolve from one pairing of a man and a women. There is Neanderthal genes in our bodies. As well as genes from life forms long since gone.

            So you had to come up with a way to talk your mind into somehow making the Adam and Eve fable make sense knowing what we know today.

            I can't change your mind. I can only give you the perspective of why others not only disagree but actually know why you are wrong. You are free to ignore it of course.

            We know what gods are today. We know what religion is.

            We don't know how Existence began.

            Until we do it's best not to simply make stuff up.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            It appears you know about my article on Adam and Eve on this site, but it also appears that you have never bothered to read it.

            Otherwise, you would have realized that I count the Neanderthals as among the descendants of Adam and Eve.

            From my article: "And yes, as Swamidass points out, given their ancient time frame, this would make them “the common ancestor of Homo sapiens, Denisovans, and Neanderthals.”"

            How many other wild statements by you above? I haven't time to expose them all.

          • Ellabulldog

            You missed my point.

            I'm not analyzing that article.

            Your claim that Neanderthals are descendants of Adam and Eve is an example of you trying to deal with your dissonance. My point holds.

            It convinces your mind because the facts are too much for you to handle.

            If Adam and Eve isn't true than your faith isn't true. That's why Evangelicals throw such fits. They take such things literally. Instead of coming up with some apologetics they just deny Evolution and think the Earth is 6000 years old. Both are dissonance.

            Evolution ruins Christianity. It didn't mean to. It just happened because humans learned more about the world that they did not previously know.

            So you have to adjust the claim to ease YOUR mind.

            Humans according to the Bible were modern humans. Not Lucy or a common ancestor. They had no idea.

            Your article is crap. No offense. But you like it. That's your dissonance.

            It's like the Earth was created in 6 days. Now it's 14 billion years for the universe and 4 billion for Earth. So the writers really meant a day was how many years? They meant a day.
            It's fable.

            Adam and Eve is a story written by people that had no idea how humans evolved. It is fable.

            Exodus is fable. No big Jewish presence in Egypt. They made it up.

            Noah's Ark. Ancient fable.

            Changing how you interpret the stories doesn't change what the stories are. It only serves to help your mind cope.

            That's about dissonance.

            You want to know why atheists don't believe.

            Lots of reasons.

            If you want to know why you believe you can study it. If you only want to confirm to yourself that what you believe is true keep ignoring others and do what you are very good at. You are only fooling yourself.

          • George

            > But God needs no extrinsic cause for the simple reason that the Infinite
            Being exists through his very essence, and thus, needs no extrinsic
            reason for being.

            Is this your version of the brute fact answer?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Yes, in essence. A brute fact offers itself without any reason at all. If a thing is its own reason, it is not a brute fact, since it does offer a reason.

            Reasons may be either intrinsic or extrinsic to a thing. If a thing is its own reason, it does not need a cause -- since a cause is properly defined as an extrinsic sufficient reason. Thus an intrinsic reason is simply an intrinsic sufficient reason, but not a cause.

          • Jim the Scott

            There are two types of Brute facts. Metaphysical Brute Facts vs Epistemological ones.

            To quote philosopher Ed Feser.

            "Something would be a brute fact in the epistemological sense if, after exhaustive investigation, we did not and perhaps even could not come up with a remotely plausible explanation for it.

            Something would be a brute fact in the metaphysical sense if it did not, as a matter of objective fact, have any explanation or intelligibility in the first place. With a metaphysical brute fact, it’s not merely that we can’t discover any explanation, it’s that there isn‘t one there to be discovered."END

            If Metaphysical Brute facts exist then they render all knowledge unintelligible.

          • George

            > Of course, atheists duck the question as to why the cosmos exists, since it is deadly to their atheism. Just plead ignorance. Or, say it is a brute fact.

            Saying "I don't know" is honest. Do you know? Are the atheists disqualified from talking about this if they say they don't know? Are they disqualified from interrogating a positive answer like "God"? Is it against the rules to ask what "God" even means?

            > Theists, unlike atheistic materialists, know we need a reason for everything. It is just that God can explain himself, whereas a finite, ever-changing physical world cannot.

            Have you ever questioned this? Replace the word with another that has no emotional investment, and try it out. X can explain itself. How do we know?

            You bring up the universe as finite and ever changing, touching on argument from contingency, something I'm a bit familiar with. No rule saying the discussion can't ever happen again, but right now, I want pose this:

            If someone stonewalls you and uses all your rhetoric about God, but for the universe, how do you respond? What do you do? The essence of the universe explains itself. It contains it's own explanation, it's self actualizing. Its the ultimate ultimate of ultimate or whatever.

            Notice, I'm not saying that. This is a hypothetical.

            Has your whole point on that subject been that it's just hypocritical to do?

            (also, I just want to add, people ducking questions to protect their atheist beliefs. That's kind of funny. We're really invested in protecting this pessimism and depression and dread)

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Just so you know that I have addressed the types of issues you raise here: https://drbonnette.com/how-cosmic-existence-reveals-gods-reality/

            I won't go through all the classic proofs for God's existence, even though I know them fairly well.
            https://www.amazon.com/Aquinas-Proofs-Gods-Existence-Necessarily/dp/940118187X

            But the essence of each of them is to show that the finite world does not and cannot explain itself. While you may challenge the metaphysical conception of God, the fact remains that at least its claim is that it is self existent because an infinite being would have to be identical with its own act or existence, and thus, exist necessarily. Were its existence other than its essence, it would then be a cause being and not the Infinite Being.

            I don't expect you to accept my metaphysical conclusions on the face of my claims, but it still remains the case that most atheistic materialists seem to think that if the cosmos is eternal, it needs no further explanation. It is just a given.

          • Jim the Scott

            Actually Negative Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. Positive Atheism is the assertion "there are no gods" etc.

            Atheism like Theism isn't just one thing.

            >so if a "Creator" doesn't need a cause then the universe or "Existence" does not either.

            Do yer homework please.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html

          • michael

            Writing "yer" instead of "your" gives people the impression that the person behind the other screen is a redneck with a straw hat, overalls, and a plaid shirt, not a kind person trying to act like a proffesional and be taken seriously. like Jesus would want.

          • Jim the Scott

            After carefully considering yer advice for a total of 2 seconds I here by reject yer advice.

            Bye.

          • michael

            More importantly, stop acting surly.

          • Jim the Scott

            We both know that is not gonna happen my wayward son.

            Peace be with you.

          • Ellabulldog

            an atheist does not believe in a god or gods.
            that's the standard definition.

            an agnostic does not believe in a god which makes them an atheist. they will not claim there are no such things as a god because they will claim they can't make such a knowledge claim. yet agnostics deny that YOUR god exists and are considered atheists by Catholics.

            some atheists will claim that there are no such things as "gods". theists will jump on this because it is a claim that can't be supported just as a theist's claim can't be supported.

            what I claim is that YOUR god is fable and does not exist in reality. I have knowledge of how the Christian god was developed over the centuries and how the Bible was constructed. It's a fictional god. No doubt about it. There is more than enough knowledge to prove that. Just as you understand that the Aztec gods didn't really exist or that Zeus really didn't throw lightning.

            I have knowledge of how religion is cultural and a necessary part of the evolution of human societies with the invention of agriculture.

            I have knowledge of how our minds cognitively are superstitious and how others can manipulate the human mind to get people to believe lots of crazy stuff.

            That's knowledge not atheism. It can lead to atheism if one is not afraid and their mind can handle reality if they were raised in a religious environment.

            The philosophical arguments for a god are absolute crap. You did what others do and use a "philosopher" that writes apologetic nonsense that helps to ease your dissonance. It's confirmation bias. His argument appeals to you so you like it. Good for you. It's crap. As is Aquinas's argument.

            You can be fooled by their arguments because you want to be.

            So you have dissonance.

            You will discard any knowledge that hurts your belief system.
            You look for anything that will confirm your bias.
            That's confirmation bias.

            Motivated reasoning is also at play.

            Regarding special pleading.
            Do YOUR homework.

            It's special pleading no matter how you want to argue it.

            If a god is contingent then Existence simply is contingent. Brilliant? Not at all.

            Again you don't see that because you have a bias and can't acknowledge it. His crappy apologetic nonsense to you is great philosophy. Crap wrapped in a bow is still crap. Doesn't matter if Aquinas said it or Feser. You want to believe it so you simply agree with him because it appeals to you and eases your dissonance.

            Even if there is some initial "cause" it need not be a "god".

            If there is a god it need not be the Catholic "God". No philosopher ever argues that. Because they know better. They would be laughed at.

            Do YOUR homework.

            Take a comparative religion course.

            Study other philosophers that don't agree with you. Today that is 82% and growing.
            You are stuck in the past because philosophers then had to be religious. Or they would have to drink the hemlock. The Catholic Church killed dissenters because they knew that their "theology" that they called "philosophy" could not hold up to logic.

            Study the demographics of religion.
            Study why religion is important only when a human group grows beyond hunter/gatherer size.
            Study why some humans are more prone to superstitious thought and others are not.
            Study the psychology of why humans want answers to questions and prefer to make things up instead of waiting for knowledge.
            Your amygdala likely will glow brightly when attached to an MRI machine. Your cerebral cortex less so. That's cognitive science.

            Study Evolution. It ruins the Bible narrative. No Adam and Eve ever happened. It's a child's tale to appease people that lacked knowledge. Genetics supports this.

            Go to the British Museum. They have Babylonian clay tablets showing what the Tower actually was. People speak different languages because of culture not because of building some tower. Silly story.

            We have knowledge of Ancient Egypt. No Exodus occurred. It's a tall tale.

            Study geology. No global flood ever occurred. We do know others told tales prior to the Bible.

            Read some biblical scholars work. Not theologians. They are writing to support their lies. Read actual scholars work. Bart Erhman and others.

            Understand that your "belief" is no different than what Scientologists "believe". Or the ancient Aztecs. The stories differ but how the mind forms and follows the belief system is the same.

            Dr. Bonnette is a smart man. Smart people can be born superstitious and smart people will do a very good job convincing themselves that they are correct. At over 80 years old he won't change his mind. Lot's of sunk costs. He certainly wants to go to Heaven and "live for eternity". He is simply human.

            I'll challenge you Jim to think for yourself critically.

            Yet I don't expect you to change your mind either. I don't expect you to study anything that conflicts with what your mind believes. I know why you won't.

            You should understand why others don't believe the same as you. You can engage with others on the internet. You seem to only care about your stance. You need to know why someone is Muslim or why someone is atheist. Why someone is Buddhist or follows Voodoo.

            Learning that you then should understand why you believe what you do.

            I don't care what you believe. I care WHY humans believe.

            Cognitive science translates to many other things not just religion. It concerns politics to what people buy.

            Why people smoke, follow Hitler or follow some religious organization can all be accomplished by manipulating the human mind.

            Lot's for you to learn.

          • Jim the Scott

            Wow all those words and you actually managed not to say even one thing that is substantial or coherent. No mean feat. I am not really interested in the psychology of why people believe or disbelieve or yer personal unsubstantiated assertions. I am only interested in the philosophical arguments themselves for the existence of God and philosophical polemics against rival metaphysical schemes such as metaphysical naturalism or reductionist materialism.

            If you can't address any of this then as I told the others.. ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there. Have at it. I have one rule people. Don't bore me.

          • Ellabulldog

            you are only interested in some philosophical arguments. not any that wreck your superstitious belief.

            you only come here because the philosophers HERE provide your mind with what it seeks.

            that's confirmation bias.

            this site is not just for philosophy. that's your problem not mine.
            this is a Catholic site not a philosophy site. you should understand that. a philosophy site would wreck your arguments so you don't go to those.
            I will credit this site for allowing others to comment. Other Catholic sites do not.

            you want to define the argument only using what you are comfortable with.

            that's your problem. I have explained why you like it that way. That's the confirmation bias and motivated reasoning part.

            You are no better than Answers in Genesis. Same belief system and no proof or logic to support it.

          • Jim the Scott

            >you are only interested in some philosophical arguments.
            this is a Catholic site not a philosophy site.

            Yes and if you don't have any then good day to you madam.

            >this is a Catholic site not a philosophy site.

            Says who? Last time I checked Brandon is the webmaster not you my dear.

            Dr. B gives philosophical arguments here and thus reason & common courtesy dictates you learn some philosophy to answer him. A science site dedicated to giving scientific evidence for evolution has every right you learn some basic biology.

            If you don't want to learn philosophy that is fine but you will be about as effective as a Young Earth Creationist with a 4th graders' knowledge of biology going up against Theistic Evolutionists and Secular one's with a college level knowledge.

            >you want to define the argument only using what you are comfortable with.

            No I would only want to discuss things I am familiar with rather then put on the facade of a know it all who clearly lacks knowledge of the subject at hand.

            >You are no better than Answers in Genesis. Same belief system and no proof or logic to support it.

            For example......I really don't at all have the belief system of a bunch of Protestant Fundamentalists and post enlightenment mechanists.

            Good day my dear. Happy Holidays.

          • Ellabulldog

            You can keep to your failed philosophy, fine by me. I'm just explaining why you do.

            Dr. B gives philosophical arguments. Good for him. Your appeal to an authority on Thomist philosophy means little. Again you like what Dr. B writes because it eases your dissonance not because it is intellectually some proof of a "god". It fails to convince any that have not already decided a god exists. It's confirmation bias.

            Your belief is the same as a belief in witches, voodoo, Scientology or any other superstitious belief.

            The details don't matter.

            There is knowledge on why you believe what you do. It's no mystery. You can ignore it certainly. Again I know why you do.

            Regarding Existence we simply don't know. Likely never will.

            Philosophically agnosticism is the correct stance.

            The Cosmological argument fails. It's wishful thinking and offers humanity no knowledge.

            Atheism just means that an atheist doesn't believe the god claims of men. The reason is those claims are lies. Even if you put some philosophical wrapping paper on them the arguments are still crap.

            But hey if you like such stuff good for you.

            I hope Santa brought you all you asked for. Why kids "believe" in him is little different than why you believe in a god. It's all about the human mind.

          • Jim the Scott

            Again you manage to pour out a ton of verbiage but still manage to say very little.

            >You can keep to your failed philosophy,

            Which is about as meaningful an objection as some pulpit pounding Bible fundie ranting "I don't need yer Devil science! I got me my King James!".

            That doesn't make me want to become a Young or Old Earth Creationist.

            If you don't want to learn philosophy you are as useless here as the Creationist who refuses to learn science over at an Evolutionist website wither Theistic or Atheistic.

            >The Cosmological argument fails.

            Which one? Odds are you don't know there are more than one and some of them are not believed by all Theists. For example Feser and myself are Agnostic toward the Kalam for example...

            Ranting like fundamentalist wither for Jesus or Darwin doesn't convince anybody and you haven't convinced me. I blame you of course. It is clearly all yer fault not mine.;-)

            Have a blessed new year.

          • Ellabulldog

            Existence has always been. This universe had a beginning but Existence isn't just this universe.

            God as a term is meaningless unless defined. It is defined in your "philosophy" that it is something that is simply not contingent on other things. So change the word to Existence.

            Existence is eternal.

            You are now a materialist.

            Now Jim the Scott is also a Pantheist.

            Glad you dropped Catholicism.

            You actually agree with me. Great.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Glad you dropped Catholicism.

            Where did I say that? I am a believing Catholic & a Classic Theist and a Traditional Thomist. Anyway yer streams of consciousness are no substitute for an actual philosophical argument or defeater. But a least you have reduced the unnecessary verbiage.

            Also you need to work on yer reading comprehension skills. Just saying....

          • Ellabulldog

            reading comprehension? project much? went right over your head didn't it?

            you are using an argument that the also allows Existence to be uncaused thereby negating the need for a god.

            hence you lost your god argument before even beginning it.

            If you believe Catholicism is true I can't help you. Like I said it's the same as a belief in Voodoo or Scientology. You joined a cult. A very successful cult. Which is why I suggested you study why you believe instead of wasting time on confirmation bias trying to prove what you believe is true. Which it is not.

          • Jim the Scott

            ?????????????? Yeh I see words here but nothing coherent.

            Of course a Classic Theist will tell you God is Unconditional Reality or Existence/Being Itself...just saying....but you haven't done any homework and think mere mockery and ranting is a substitute for intelligible argument so there you have it.

            Bye.

          • Ellabulldog

            My explaining psychology and cognitive science to you isn't mockery. My explaining confirmation bias to you isn't mockery. My explaining dissonance to you isn't mockery. My explaining motivated reasoning to you isn't mockery.

            A few years ago I would mock.

            Your philosophy is nothing but a fabricated false defense of your faith that only convinces you. You retreat to ancient philosophers that have long been discarded.

            It is your comfort zone. I get it. I challenged you to look to other knowledge and you flatly refused. I predicted you would.

            Not everyone wants to spend the time defeating the same old arguments over and over.

            You find them convincing. They are not.

            The reasons you believe are NOT because Aquinas has a good argument for a god.
            It has nothing to do with philosophy.

            It is about the human mind and how it is constructed.

          • Jim the Scott

            Ella, You are offering psychobabble woo at worst and at best you are offering anti-intellectual foolishness.

            I am sorry but if a Young Earth Creationist went to a website dominated by Atheist Evolutionists and instead of discussing the scientific case for or against evolution (add to that refused to learn even basic science and biology) wanted to discuss how the locals lack of belief in gods is somehow rooted in a confirmation bias toward empirical investigation and add to that having bad relationships with their fathers etc blah blah blah nobody would pay such a person any mind.

            I cannot think of anything I would find more boring than dealing with such irrelevant amateurish psychobabble vs having an actual substantive intellectual philosophical discussion on real issues of import such as the existence of God.

            Given the theme here I could with ease imagine the former discussion being inflicted on me as my punishment in Hell. After five minutes of such vacuous unprofitable prattle I could with ease see myself begging Satan or Pinhead or whoever is in charge (Adam Sander's Little Nicky?) to please for the love of pete bring out the meat hooks and flay me alive. That would be sweet relief indeed.

            Ella learn philosophy and learn to formulate philosophical defeaters for arguments for the existence of God & or make a case for a rival metaphysical scheme to Classic Theism or as I said before and I will repeat myself again, "Answers in Genesis" is over there. Have at them.

            Peace be with you.

          • Jim the Scott

            Ella you keep repeating the same boring irrational & anti-intellectual nonsense expecting this time it will convince. There is a word for that sort of behavior.

            If you are not going to discuss philosophy we have nothing to discuss.
            That is final.

            Like I said Richard Dawkins would likely be bored to tears talking too some fundie about how confirmation bias and or his relationship with his father cause him to both believe in Evolution rather then discussing actual biological science.

            You can't intelligently criticize Thomism or philosophical argument for the existence of God because by yer own admission you have refused to learn anything about it. So good day to you.

            I have one rule people. Don't bore me.

          • Ellabulldog

            https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13752

            since you like philosophy so much.

            can you refute Carrier?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I'll just pick the first wrong thing that I came across when I followed that link.

            In Argument One: The Aristotelian Proof, Carrier writes:

            A quick and dirty way to phrase that argument is: if nothing exists, then by definition no rules exist limiting what will happen to it; if no rules exist limiting what it will happen to it, it is equally likely it will become one of infinitely many arrays of things (including remaining nothing, which is just one of infinitely many other things no rule exists to prevent happening)

            That is faulty reasoning. To say that there is an equal likelihood of infinitely many outcomes, of which "nothing" is only one, is to imagine a probabilistic rule that is itself not logically necessary. Carrier might learn from his own admonishment that we are not allowed to just wish things into existence.

            There is no probability measure that just inherently lies at the root of everything. Any probability measure is itself is grounded in a sigma algebra, and there is no logical reason why any sigma algebra needs to exist. One need not even exist as a mathematical ideal, let alone as an instantiated reality.

            His argument is basically: "It is 'probabilistically necessary' that reality not be limited to what is logically necessary." It's kinda silly.

          • Ellabulldog

            You did not read his whole point did ya Jimmy? He is not asserting that this is the case he simply is using the same premise or faulty reasoning that Feser did. To prove Feser wrong.

            Try again.

            You just agreed with Carrier that Feser was wrong.

            Thought you understood philosophy?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            He is not asserting that this is the case he simply is using the same premise or faulty reasoning that Feser did.

            The text evidence doesn't support that. Carrier writes:

            But what happens when you take away everything except that which is demonstrably logically necessary? Not what we “conjecture” or “wish” were logically necessary; no, we don’t get to cheat. No circular arguments. Only what we can actually formally prove is logically necessary. And that means, prove now, not at some hypothetical future time. We don’t get to “conjecture” or “wish” into existence some new logical necessity we have yet to really prove is such. Well. What happens is, we get a nothing-state that logically necessarily becomes a multiverse that will contain a universe that looks just like ours. To a probability infinitesimally near 100%.

            It sure doesn't seem that he is proposing that in the spirit of "hey, here's something that's just as speculative as what Feser proposed". It seems rather that he is saying that, absent any speculation at all, we can be assured that "we get a nothing-state that logically necessarily becomes a multiverse that will contain a universe that looks just like ours".

            I have read the whole argument, so I don't think I'm taking him out of context or misreading his intent. But, if I am, I welcome whatever edification you can offer.

          • Ellabulldog

            Still, I’m doing the same thing Feser is: building a model in my head, and working out what would have to happen or be the case if that model were true. Does that mean my model corresponds to what actually happened? No.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Yes, but that's not apposite with respect to the flaw that I identified. My point was that Carrier's logic was faulty when he reasoned that if there ever had been nothing, then that nothing would have necessarily produced a multiverse that includes our universe. He claims that his "then" follows from his "if", "[to] a probability infinitesimally near 100%". That claim is false, regardless of where it fits into his larger argument.

            In any case, the whole thing is an absurd mischaracterization of the basic argument from contingency.

            The argument from contingency doesn't proceed by assuming (or even hypothesizing) that first there was nothing and then later there was something, and "oh boy now we need an explanatory mechanism in between". The argument is rather that in every moment there is no logical requirement that there should be anything at all. The universe (and the multiverse, if one exists) and everything in it is logically unnecessary. Therefore whatever is logically necessary is not in the universe (and not in the multiverse, if one exists). That is the proof that whatever it is that is logically necessary, that "it" necessarily transcends the universe / multiverse.

          • Jim the Scott

            Feser doesn't do Kalam cosmological arguments. Carrier can't tell the difference between the Kalam and the First way. He is attacking a straw man. He is not only beating a dead horse but he is beating the wrong dead horse.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/02/carrier-on-five-proofs.html

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/03/carrier-carries-on.html

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Thanks for the links Jim. At long last, something that you and I agree on! I suppose we can be grateful to Richard Carrier for giving us that much :-) Cheers.

          • Jim the Scott

            You aren't even coming close to doing what Feser is doing. Feser is doing philosophy you are not doing anything remotely intelligible.

            Modelling has nothing to do with anything here. The act/potency distinction is the basic philosophical and metaphysical presupposition to all practical sciences. If change was unreal then what would be the point of doing experiments since testing things presuppose they change under certain conditions so they can be measured? This is basic metaphysics and you are boring everybody to death by doing physics. Cut it out! Do philosophy or as I said before and I will not get tired of saying it till it sinks in ANSWER IN GENESIS or if you prefer UNCOMMON DESCENT is over there.

            > Does that mean my model corresponds to what actually happened?

            Things happening presuppose an act/potency distinction. Wow!

          • Mark

            Really, the most nothingly nothing you can have without facing a logical contradiction, is the absence of everything except logically contradictory states of affairs. And that means everything. Including gods, laws of physics, rules, objects, minds, or extensions of space or time. And by Feser’s own reasoning, the absence of everything except logically necessary states of affairs entails the presence of every logically necessary thing. And nothing else.

            Having read this nothingly nothing statement about 6 times I think I get where Carrier is going with this. I don't remember Feser framing the unmoved mover argument as a "why is there something rather than nothing" question. In fact I remember him warning against this course of reason because that is not what the argument entails. A "quick and dirty" response to Carrier would be refute the causal argument the claimant is making rather than an argument you think you can but the claimant is not making.

          • Ellabulldog

            A quicker way to refute any philosophical bullshit is simply to call it bullshit. Right?

            You may not like Carrier. He's not necessary to refute Feser. Feser's arguments are not convincing to anyone that isn't looking to confirm their own bias.

            Aquinas, Feser or Aristotle were making crap up. Their arguments don't merit a second thought.

            We have no knowledge of a god or gods and no reason to suspect one exists.

            Making up gods is what superstitious people do. Making up gods is what lazy people do not "great thinkers". It's all a god of the gaps argument.

            An honest person says they don't know how Existence came to be.

            Change the word "God" to "Existence" and what changes in the philosophy? Nothing except the appeal to the emotion of the human being reading the philosophy. Because "God" means other things to such humans and it's about more than the philosophical existence of a "First Cause".

            A First Cause or some Eternal Existence simply can be a material thing not something "supernatural".

          • Jim the Scott

            Yer response here is what we call "Point Weak...pound Pulpit!". It is not better than a creationist saying "I dina care what yer Devil science says! My King James says God created man on the 6th day and if King James wasusa good nuff for King David it is good enough fer me!"

            Falling back on yer psychobabble woo is NEVER going to be convincing my dear. Even if no gods exist. You must except this to become rational. Either that or learn some actual philosophy. I would ditch Carrier and read Oppy. That would at least be a start.

          • Ellabulldog

            Philosophy has had thousands of years to answer this question and has failed terribly.

            That most 82% of current philosophers self identify as agnostic hurts your argument not mine.
            "yes it's an appeal to popularity and is fallacious"

            It's not about convincing it's about proving. It appeals to you emotionally not rationally. What you consider rational is nothing more than confirmation bias.

            You are just like a flat earther or Young Earth Creationist.
            They use the Bible. You use ancient failed philosophy.

            you are easily convinced by the likes of Feser because his answers appeal to you not because it is rational or logical.

            I don't care if you believe me or not. It's not me asserting a god exists. It is you.

            I suggest you find some proof. Not rhetoric you like.

            Again I know why you believe. You have no idea why you find such arguments convincing. I can only suggest you learn why. You don't want to know why. I get it.

          • Jim the Scott

            No Ella you are the one making positive claims about the validity of Philosophy a discipline you have never studied. You are the one trying ot convince me there is no God based on yer lame appeals to woo.

            Even Atheists are philosophers and yer dismissal of philosophy is anti-intellectual tripe. Like I said you fall back on "point weak pound pulpit" as yer default.

            >That most 82% of current philosophers self identify as agnostic hurts your argument not mine.

            That statistic is only valid if you limit yerself to Philosophers in America and England. Extend it worldwide and Theists are the majority.

            Not that any of that matters or proves anything. It does not, arguments from popularity & misquoting statistics are not valid at all. I learned that back in college, for example statistically there is a valid correlation between high consumptions of Ice Cream and Higher number of reports of Rape to the police. This does not mean Ice Cream causes rape long story short.

            Let us face it Ella. You clearly don't know how to think critically and yer "atheism" is based on yer own bias confirmation and personal preferences. It is not a well thought out position. That is why you rely on the likes of Carrier whom real Atheist Historians (like Tim O'Neil) correctly dismiss as a fringe figure. You need to learn philosophy otherwise you are only suited to polemic low brow Young Earth Creationism. Anything more sophisticated is clearly out of yer reach. That is evidently by yer own choice.

            Philosophy is a broad discipline that goes beyond mere metaphysics. So you cannot legitimately make board claims like you did above and be taken seriously.

            The burden is on you to convince me there is no God or to reasonably doubt all existing philosophical arguments for the existence of God. That requires you actually learn the correct arguments themselves and formulate defeaters for them. If you will not do so and wish to continue to bore me with yer appeals to psychobabble woo then I must really insist you go bug the people over at Answers in Genesis. I am sure you would shine there. It is more yer speed.

          • Ellabulldog

            I am saying your argument is crap. You can believe whatever you want.
            The Woo is all on you. Stop projecting.

            Extend it the stat to the Middle East and Countries where people have no free speech and where they kill dissenters. Exactly what the Church did for centuries that kept philosophy and philosophers silent on this issue.

            Philosophy is too broad. I'm rejecting your theology you are disguising as philosophy.

            You are assuming the arguments are correct. That's your bias. That's your dissonance.

            No I don't have to convince you because you can't be convinced. That's all my original comment entailed. You have dissonance and use confirmation bias to ignore evidence you have a superstitious belief. You like your philosophy but you ignore the philosophers that don't agree with it.

            So stick with Aquinas. You like it.
            It's your emotional crutch.

            You and Answers in Genesis are like minded. If Aquinas had a philosophical proof that the Ark existed "it never did it is fable" then you would be all in.

            Moses is fable.
            Adam and Eve is fable.
            Jesus as asserted is fable.

            So your philosophy doesn't say anything about that does it?

            Cognitive science does.
            Psychology does.
            Archaeology does.
            Biology does.

            So believe whatever you want. Lot's of false beliefs out there.

            Your belief is no different than a belief in Voodoo, Scientology, Pagan gods or your Answers in Genesis friends. It's all cultural superstition.

            All Cognitive Science of Religion.

            Your have sunk costs. Dissonance is #1. Your own ego. #2 is how much you would lose. Family, friends, maybe your wife if you give up your belief. Maybe it's your job and you have money at stake.

            Of course you don't like to hear it. So stick to Aquinas. Good for you.

            You will continue to lose every argument you ever make leaving a record on the internet for all to read later. Just like Aquinas is not correct. History and human evolution will find your beliefs quite backwards.

            You want to game your argument and I'm not playing your game.

            Prove god exists Jimmy. Any god. Ra or Zeus.

            I'll wait.

            You would be the first to ever do so. No philosopher ever has. Not even close.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Well, you have convinced me. Your mind is made up and will never be confused by the facts.

            But one fact that is evident to anyone who really knows the classical philosophical proofs for God's existence -- particularly St. Thomas Aquinas's Five Ways -- is that you absolutely do not understand their most central tenets.

            "There need not be a "First Cause". Existence can be eternal."

            Anyone who makes the colossal error of thinking the First Cause is a first cause in a temporal regress clearly hasn't got a clue about the Five Ways.

            Before you publicly dismiss something you should make sure that you know something about what you are dismissing.

          • Jim the Scott

            Ella said
            >I'm not critiquing Jim's philosophy or anyone's. I'm dismissing them outright.

            Imagine going to a forum of Evolutionists and saying "I am not critiquing the science of evolution. I am dismissing science outright! I can just hear their justified derisive laughter.....

            >It's up to the philosopher to convince me. I'm far from convinced. If Jim is convinced good for him.

            It is up to the scientist to convince me about science while I spend my days refusing to learn even basic science....

            That is what she sounds like to us. This is just barking mad.

          • Sample1

            Before you publicly dismiss something you should make sure that you know something about what you are dismissing.

            Nah, not really. We dismiss, all of us, various claims from others all the time without getting doctorates in the relevant background. Many dismiss Andrew Yang’s universal basic income campaign plank despite not having a degree in economics (Yang has one). Many dismiss astrology and homeopathy claims without learning the tenets/behaviors behind their appeal to devotees. Most religious dismiss the holy books of others in some capacity, if not outright. Flat Earthers always tell me to look at one more YouTube video. Nah, there comes a point when enough is enough. Dismissed!

            That’s largely because of education and cosmopolitanism. The boats, as the metaphor goes, are generally rising along with the tide of what is hard-to-vary explanatory reasoning. You may not like it, but it seems to me your philosophy is being privileged (unconsciously or not) as “that which cannot be dismissed” unlike “those things Dr. Bonnette likely agrees can be dismissed.”

            No offense.

            Mike
            Edit done. Disqus appears functional again!

          • David Nickol

            Many dismiss Andrew Yang’s universal basic income campaign plank despite not having a degree in economics (Yang has one).

          • Sample1

            Fair enough.

            Mike

          • Rob Abney

            Mike, can you demonstrate that Aquinas' First Way is not hard-to-vary? I agree that people can dismiss any facts they want but at some point hard-to-vary reasoning does prevail and those who dismiss such reasoning are no longer listened to.

          • Sample1

            Rob, any explanation-less theory (if we were to call Thomism a theory) can be hard-to-vary. It’s really a different ontology from thinkers post Galileo. I’m interested in explanations that are hard-to-vary and I’m almost positive you do not understand what it means to say an explanation is hard-to-vary. Have you read The Beginning of Infinity by Deutsch?

            Might be a good start. I think the audio book is free online.

            Mike

          • Rob Abney

            I've read about fallibilism (such as: Fallibilists expect even their best and most fundamental explanations to contain misconceptions in addition to truth, and so they are predisposed to try to change them for the better).

            Do you consider this explanation to be hard to vary "every effect has a cause"?

          • Sample1

            As in philosophy, literature or science the way one structures sentences and the choice of words is important for clarity. A fallibilist is this: one who acknowledges that any held position of theirs may be imperfect. That’s it. One needn’t be a scientist to be a fallibilist though in practice ,fallibilism is the default implication for the scientist. There is no need to bring in extra words like best or fundamental or truth unless one is going to provide examples for a broader explanation of fallibilism. I make this point because words like fundamental do not necessarily equate to fundamentalism. And as it pertains to a Popperian/Deutschian worldview, searching for fundamentals is less emphasized than searching for theory laden explanations we place between ourselves and what we observe/experience. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Deutsch is anti-Foundationalism. Why? Because he is a fallibilist who takes a further epistemological step to avoid, when possible, relying on foundations focusing instead on explanations which is a risk reducing position as nothing is “built up” from a foundation, a foundation which may fail. Metaphorically, explanations can exist in any “stratum“ (if we use the traditional brick wall/edifice/strata metaphor of historical theologies and philosophies) rather than, say, a wall’s foundation. As a result, the Deutschian ”structure” doesn’t fail if an explanation is modified, corrected or chucked. Why? Because it’s the explanatory process for a given observation not any “foundation” that’s in play. These minutiae are better understood in a book, not a combox but I should think I’ve provided enough for you to understand for the purposes here.

            With that in mind you ask:

            Do you consider this explanation to be hard to vary "every effect has a cause"?

            Can you now anticipate how I should respond? I must say no or at best, not really or maybe not. Why? For one, there is not enough data in the question. We must approach it this way: first, what is being experienced or observed? Let’s call that experience/observation a “problem.” A problem because at first, any experience or observation can be called only that, a naked problem without explanation, it’s at first an experience or observation. Secondly, how shall we create an explanation that reduces the “problem” or challenge, if you prefer? Thirdly, do we prefer easy-to-vary explanations (think Greek myths to explain seasons) or hard-to-vary explanations (think axial tilt, orbital distances, global rotation, energy absorption/reflection)?

            Penultimately, cause and effects (as one category) and causality (another category) are not necessarily synonymous and for these purposes they are not synonymous.

            Lastly, let’s pull it all together. If you agree Rob, that you are a fallibilist—that you are/may be imperfect for a given held position then a question such as every effect has a cause implicitly if not explicitly acknowledges one is, in fact, infallible. And hence you have a conundrum for I don’t see any reason in your history to accept that you identify as both fallible and infallible. And yet your question leads to that logical contradiction.

            Something for you to think about without me even having to address physics or philosophy of cause and effect.

            Thank you for the question.

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            If you forgive me jumping in here -- and I sincerely want to understand how what you are saying would apply here -- I would say that your statement here is correct: "every effect has a cause implicitly if not explicitly acknowledges one is, in fact, infallible."

            I find it interesting, since that is precisely what Thomists claim about every metaphysical first principle: they are infallible (and universal) -- or they are useless!

            I don't want this to get too complicated, and maybe that is unavoidable. But if we stick to this one example, maybe it is possible.

            The metaphysical claim is precisely that every effect (meaning anything whose sufficient reason for being or being what it is is not totally intrinsic to it) must have a cause (meaning some extrinsic reason sufficient to account for whatever was not accounted for intrinsically).

            Now, that looks to me very hard to vary, since any smidgen of reality that escapes having a reason here would violate the principle's claim.

            On the other hand, and here is where I think the hard to vary concept does apply generously, in natural science when we observe some phenomena that appears to need a cause, it is tempting to give easy to vary explanations, such as the sun came up because Diana in her flaming chariot is flying across the sky, whereas a hard to vary explanation, such as the earth has rotated on its axis relative to the sun sufficiently to make the sun appear in the east again, is more rigorous and informative and, well, "respectable," since it cannot be easily varied should it not be verified in some of its complex and multiple components.

            In a word, I suspect that hard to vary explanations properly apply to the scientific world where metaphysical principles may be assumed but not proven -- whereas universal metaphysical principles are secure as infallible because the rely on rigorous application of the concept of being.

            Thus, every effect must have a cause, is infallibly universal. But its application to "this effect" and to "this cause" is properly the subject of hard to vary scrutiny.

            Are we on the same planet?

          • Sample1

            A great post from a smart guy who makes me smile when I have to think. Don’t worry about chiming in. That all said, everything you are getting is almost certainly wrong. :-) Lots of good stuff in your post to address but let me start with this.

            The metaphysical claim is precisely that every effect (meaning anything whose sufficient reason for being or being what it is is not totally intrinsic to it) must have a cause (meaning some extrinsic reason sufficient to account for whatever was not accounted for intrinsically).

            Are you not skipping a step by saying effect? Effect is an explanation, a definition, etc. Before that, all we have is an observation or experience, correct? I think you’re leapfrogging. So what I’m saying is what is the process by which we experience and observe something and then create an explanation? And crucially, what criterion is applied to define good explanations from bad explanations?

            See what I’m saying?

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I appreciate your brevity. Too often I fear long comments look (to me at least) like a broadside that requires a specific response to multiple points -- so much so that the simple truths get lost in the avalanche. So I will try to be succinct in reply, with no BS if possible.

            Yes, by the time you get to defining an effect, you have already taken prior steps. The prior steps are made evident (even if this is not sophisticated epistemology) by noting that there are at least two things anyone's mind is forced to affirm by immediate observation.

            1. That being cannot both be and not be -- if one focuses on the exact same aspect of it.

            2. That you cannot get something (some being) from absolutely nothing.

            I would say that these undeniable certitudes come from the concept of being which the mind simply "sees" as necessarily true the same way it is immediately evident that we see a color or hear a sound.

            It may get a bit more complicated to explain, and for the sake of brevity, I would save it a bit for now -- but similarly we are forced to know that things have reasons for being, just as the mind must give reasons for everything it affirms or denies. You are right now demanding (and rightly so) that I give you adequate reasons to believe what I say here.

            Without going into detail, the notion of effect and cause is just a matter then of "locating" where the reasons are. My prior comment explained the location process in its very definition of "effect" and "cause."

            Enough for now, and this isn't even short enough. But you can attack any weak links you see.

          • Sample1

            Cool, glad you like brevity. Let’s continue.

            I think I would combine your 1 & 2 points into a single word: reason. And by doing that I think I leapfrog back, so-to-speak to a better position, a position of avoiding explanations ( 1&2 are explanatory). My thrust here is that I don’t think we should assume 1 & 2 before determining criteria for explanations. Our epistemology does seem different here. And like you, I’m going to naturally think mine is a more judicious position if we are trying to find a starting place to explore from.

            Reason is the one, as far as I know, brute fact that is impossible to vary. I suspect we agree on that or at least nominally (marginally?) agree. Where we differ seems to be, correct me if I misunderstand, something else is claimed to exist for you whereby reason is more fundamentally justified. But I don’t think that works because without a criterion for what explanation is and how to determine a good one from a bad one, it seems you’re adding another brute fact of sorts which to my mind undermines the status of reason itself by, essentially, varying it.

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "Reason is the one, as far as I know, brute fact that is impossible to vary. "

            Am I safe to assume that you take reason as the ultimate and absolute standard of truth?

            While that would not be exactly how I would ground my own perspective, it is close enough for me to pose this question:

            If the laws of reality (being) do not absolutely comport with the laws of reason, then, it seems to me, that reason itself serves no purpose -- and all knowledge is in vain.

            But is the laws of reality do comport with the laws of reason, then the fundamental laws of being must be true and universal, for example, the laws of non-contradiction and sufficient reason -- since these are absolutely demanded by reason.

          • Rob Abney

            RA: every effect has a cause...
            S1: For one, there is not enough data in the question
            This part of your answer doesn't seem correct to me, why does there need to be more data, that will only introduce more avenues for misinterpreting?

            I don't hold that I am infallible but it seems to me that this premise is infallible. Just as the Pope can make both fallible and infallible statements.

          • Sample1

            Forget the infallible/fallible portion of our back and forth for the moment.

            This part of your answer doesn't seem correct to me, why does there need to be more data, that will only introduce more avenues for misinterpreting?

            My goal here is to help you understand my epistemology. You don’t have to agree, but I’ll be damned if you are unable to understand me.

            It starts this way. We experience/observe. Then we react. My question to you: what have you observed/experience that compels you to say, every effect has a cause?

            Mike

          • Rob Abney

            Good question, I experience that everything exists, that it “is”. Then immediately after that apprehension I begin to reason about what it is.
            But firstly, something that “is” requires a cause to be unless it can cause itself to be.

          • Sample1

            I know a lady who will not get in an elevator because she thinks it is occupied by a ghost.

            Do you agree with the following: the way to know what exists is if it is referred to by our best explanations? Do you think that lady has a good explanation for the existence of a ghost in that elevator or are there better explanations?

            Mike

          • Rob Abney

            Do you agree with the following: the way to know what exists is if it is referred to by our best explanations?

            Yes, as long as our best definitions take into account all of reality.

            Do you think that lady has a good explanation for the existence of a ghost in that elevator or are there better explanations?

            If we assume for this discussion that the ghost does exist and that it is immaterial then the lady may, though I don't know how, intellectually apprehend the essence of the ghost but would not be able to explain her apprehension of the ghost credibly unless the ghost was able to give sensible signs of it's existence.
            Or, if the ghost doesn't actually exist, or if it is unknown whether it exists, but the lady was using her senses to detect a ghost then she may easily misinterpret her perceptions and conclude that a ghost exists when in fact it does not.
            The key point, I believe, is that we apprehend existence by immediately judging that the being is or is not, then we use reasoning to determine what it is.
            I can't think of a better way to explain it than that!

          • Sample1

            I don’t think the words after your yes are needed when you already agree that what exists is that which is referred to in our best explanations.

            Mike

          • Rob Abney

            I don’t understand your point. How would you answer the questions you posed to me?

          • Ellabulldog

            It's easy to dismiss some philosophies out of hand because they fail in their premise. All of the following supporting arguments only seem to convince those that want the premise to be true or need the conclusion to be true.

            Of course the weakness of the assertion requires volumes of excuses not to support but to confuse the issue. Further confusing the issue is arguing over how to argue and avoiding the problems with the philosophy.

            I understand exactly what it is. It's propaganda. I understand the assertion. I dismiss it because it isn't logical. That they fail to see the problems with the philosophy is what I have been trying to educate them on. It's all confirmation bias.

            They are taught that the argument is perfect so they believe it is. Because they want it to be true.

            When such a philosophy has been respected for a long time and the person that wrote it is considered a "Saint" his followers don't like having such things dismissed out of hand. Especially as some have made it their life's work.

          • Rob Abney

            When such a philosophy has been respected for a long time and the person that wrote it is considered a "Saint" his followers don't like having such things dismissed out of hand.

            I agree with this statement, the philosophy that you are referring to has definitely stood the test of time including against those who have tried to dismiss it without reasonable arguments. So far your arguments have not been reasonable, but you may be successful in recruiting others who only want an emotional response, I think reason will be required ultimately though.

          • Ellabulldog

            yet it has not "stood the test of time". 800 years and it is not accepted it is refuted.

            Kant, Hume, Russell and many more have refuted it.
            I refute it easily further below.

            It is easy. Short and sweet.

            it is about a First Cause.

            The argument does not succeed in answering such a question.

            It does not establish that a First Cause is necessary.
            It does not demonstrate that there is just one First Cause.
            It does not demonstrate what the First Cause is.

            The argument does not define "God" as anything more that a "First Cause". Yet does not answer how this "God" came to be. Which really brings us back to the initial problem. How did this all begin?

            So it really offers no knowledge. So it is dismissed.
            A refutation isn't really necessary.
            It's a childish "God Did IT" argument disguised as philosophy. He took an older argument and tweaked it for his audience for his purposes.

            What this argument demonstrates is the power of propaganda. Saying something over and over even if not true does convince many that it is.

            It demonstrates the power of confirmation bias. Those that want it to be true ignore arguments that refute it and accept arguments that support it.

            It demonstrates the power of authority. How humans tend to follow and not question it.

            I'm looking for knowledge and the argument provides none.

            Remember I'm not saying how Existence came to be. I'm agnostic.

            You like the answer so accept the argument with all of it's faults. That's not reason.

            Back to the 3 issues.
            Existence itself "materialism" can have always existed without a cause. It can be uncaused.
            Just as a god could be according to the argument.

            There might be more than one cause. It could be a million simultaneous causes.
            It could be 100 different gods too. It could be a god you never heard of. It could be an evil god. It could be the Deist god. It could be a practical joker god. It could be a god that is no longer around. It could mean Existence is God which again is just changing words.

            It fails terribly in that it doesn't provide knowledge on what this First Cause actually is.
            It really just changes the words from First Cause to God.
            Which makes it really lame.

            It is not lame as propaganda. It was designed to convince people and it has. It utilized the power of the author and his position in the Church. It was accepted based on nothing more than nobody at the time was allowed to refute it. It fills a need that some have to support their faith with what they think is reason. It fools the mind. In this regard it is brilliant.

            Yet as a proof for a First Cause it's a failure and rather childish.

            Yet he was speaking to people that thought Adam and Eve is a true story. That the Earth was flooded and people lived on an Ark for 40 days. These people thought that language was the result of the Tower of Babel being built too high. (six stories is all it was btw, plans are at the British Museum). These same people think the Exodus is a true story. Or that a virgin was impregnated by a god.

            So his audience isn't a hard one to fool.

            Which is why humans need to understand how easily we can be manipulated by authority and propaganda.

            It's relevant to more than religion.

            Watch the news daily and it's in play all day long all over the world.

            It is all about emotional arguments. Not from me though.

            Scientists have knowledge down to 43 seconds at the start of this universe. This argument says god did it. Genesis was not about gravity and mass/energy. It's a simple story for a simple time. As is the cosmological argument.

          • Rob Abney

            Your reasoning has been refuted and your only answer has been name-calling and making unsupported assertions. The one link you provided to a philosophical argument was full of errors.
            Thomistic philosophy has not been refuted or we wouldn’t be discussing it with you.
            I think that you would help yourself by discussing this subject, as in modifying your position when it is obviously wrong, and then put up further objections. But so far you’ve just repeated the same objections over and over.

          • Ellabulldog

            which is what Thomists do.

            I'm not trying to refute it. I don't really need to. I dismiss it out of hand.

            you are missing my point.

            Evolution wrecked the Bible right? (not that it had to) You still believe the Bible ?
            Of course you will hold on to Thomistic Philosophy. Not because it is brilliant but because you like it.

          • Rob Abney

            I'll take the advice of others here and dismiss you since you offer no arguments just assertions.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You are so right, Rob. Ella writes:

            "Existence itself "materialism" can have always existed without a cause. It can be uncaused."

            "Scientists have knowledge down to 43 seconds at the start of this universe. This argument says god did it."

            She has had it explained carefully to her several times that the First Cause argument in Aquinas is not talking at all about a temporal causal regress. For him, there is no question about there being a first moment of the universe, precisely because he gave rational arguments that the universe might have had no beginning in time. He clearly believed that it had a beginning in time solely because that was a dogma of the Church.

            But, no matter how many times this is explained to Ella, she keeps making the same fundamental error.

            And many of her other totally unsupported claims are just as intellectually inadequate.

            That is why I no longer am replying to her comments.

          • Ellabulldog

            “Why is there something rather than nothing?” The answer to this ultimate question is simply “because God exists and creates it.” God’s infinite power is the reason for his own existence

            your words Doc.

            that's what these arguments are about.

            A few things. No need to reply.

            I am not discussing anything about this universe. I am talking about Existence. Two completely different things.

            I am not saying that there is a First Cause or that there is not a First Cause. I am saying we don't know and can not know.
            I will say it is likely that Existence is eternal and uncaused. Which is exactly your argument for "God".

            I certainly disagree when you and others add a god to a conclusion to satisfy your emotional need for it to exist. You are convinced by the arguments. I see no reason that the First Cause or Existence itself need be a god and certainly NOT the god as explained in the Bible.

            I am saying your conclusion as above and those stated by others are simply god of the gaps arguments, wishful thinking and confirmation bias.

            Cognitive science, psychology, archaeology, comparative religion, biology, physics, and more are not unsupported.

            Take a look at why you believe this. You want to know why I don't believe right? Did you ever wonder why you do and why you believe what you do? You were not always a Thomist philosopher. Take an honest look at how you came to believe what you do.

            If born in 1200 AD in the New World what would you believe? Aquinas was in Europe not the future Americas.

            I'm not claiming scientist have the answer. They do not.
            I just don't believe theists assertions. They are not convincing and they are not proof.

            If you like them good for you. But you insist they are perfect and they are not.

            I'll leave you alone and try not to post for awhile. I'll work on my philosophy knowledge in the meantime. Give me a few months and I'll know more than the Scot at least.

            Fyi I'm a guy. Dog was a girl. Chick magnet too. Expensive as well. I'm sending the vets kids to a real nice college. Current dog is limping and that's not good. Vet's kids will be driving nice cars in college.

            Now let's worry about this potential war. Hopefully there will be a peaceful resolution.

            Have a good night. No need to reply.

          • Mark

            I am saying we don't know and can not know.

            What the physicist Nigel Cundy said about Krauss in reference to this materialist claim is, "Nor can he say that it is impossible for us to answer the question; first of all because that attitude displays an irresponsible lack of curiosity, but mainly because the theist has provided an answer, and it is his responsibility to give a counter proposal."

          • Jim the Scott

            When I was in college I too read Russell's essay "Why I am not a Christian". Russell (whose knowledge of classic Philosophy was crap) gave three alternative to the origin of the Cosmos. 1)God 2)It always existed 3) It came into existence Uncaused. Before I studied classic Philosophy later in life I thought options 2 & three entailed Atheism but now I know only "3" entails Atheism. Given that the Cosmos isn't a thing but a set of things that change it would still need an unchanged changer/Pure Act Cause to keep it in existence from all eternity.
            Giving up Scientific so called "theism" for Philosophy was definitely a good move in my theistic intellectual development.

            Cheers.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Yes, I read that book also -- way, way back. As I recall, it was a rip off, since only the first chapter was on why he was not a Christian!

            Whenever you talk about Russell's philosophy, you have to designate which decade of the twentieth century you are talking about -- since he kept changing his positions.

            Ironically, like Ella, it appears that Russell -- at least up to his famous BBC debate with Fr. Copleston in 1948 -- understood the causal argument for God as going back in time.
            https://www.johnpiippo.com/2009/02/bertrand-russell-on-first-cause.html

            Common confusion of those who simply are ignorant of the nature of the classical argument to a First Cause given by St. Thomas Aquinas.

          • Ellabulldog

            Doc I'm not trying to convince you. Your mind was made up long ago. I'm trying to explain why you won't change your belief system. Or likewise why others don't find your life's work convincing. Also it is about why you do find it convincing.

            Now back to my simple philosophy if you want.

            Efficient cause or First Cause. nitpicky ???
            Temporal regress doesn't matter either. Just a small diversion but changes nothing.

            There is no reason that there need be a First Cause. Efficient or otherwise. There is no need that if there was a First Cause that such a thing would be a god.

            It is just as likely that Existence has always been. Uncaused.
            It's special pleading to say a god doesn't need a cause but Existence does. So obvious to anyone not blinded by their belief system. Which is why I'm discussing confirmation bias and motivated reasoning.

            If Existence is "God" then it is dismissed as "God" is so poorly defined and really adds nothing to the argument. Igtheism is valid here.

            Today we know the our universe is about 14 billion years old. Give or take. The universe may have had a "cause" but such a "cause" is outside of our ability to test. Existence is more than this universe. It includes everything in this universe, any prior universes and any other universes if they exist.

            So Aquinas was discussing this Universe. So we can discard his argument because he was not discussing Existence or other universes right?

            I can copy and paste others dismissals of Aquinas. Others will post their favored philosophical mentors arguments.

            What really matters is knowledge. Philosophy regarding gods has offered no knowledge. No proof. No evidence. Nothing that can be fact checked or tested. Just opinions and wishful thinking.

            Right now we do not know how this all began. We do know how gods were invented and why religions evolved culturally over time. We can trace the philosophy of religion and see how such concepts have been developed and used to support theology not philosophy. Today we see philosophy trending towards agnosticism on this subject. In Aquinas's time it was different.

            I read two books this year that discussed philosophers from Ancient Greece forward. We can trace how it has evolved. We have never gone backwards in our thought processes. The human race has slowly progressed forward in our thoughts on this subject. Today's philosophers have thousands of years of knowledge accumulated to inform them on the subject. Aristotle was brilliant but limited by his environment. Aquinas too. Others will eventually improve on Russell's philosophy or any others currently working in the discipline.

            We simply do not know how Existence came to be. No fear of reprisal. No need to drink the hemlock. No need to insert a god to answer a question just because no answer is not something humans are content with. An honest " I don't know " is sufficient and intellectually honest.

            Yet people want to believe and there is a market for anything that will confirm to someone that what they believe is true. Whether the argument is good or not really doesn't matter.

            Bernays : Propaganda. 100 years old and still intuitive on how to get the human herd to believe anything.

            Emotion not reason is the key.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Despite having your central error about Aquinas explicitly pointed out to you, there is no sign that you have learned or understood anything:

            You write: "It is just as likely that Existence has always been. Uncaused."

            From your statement here, you appear to still think that an infinite temporal causal regress would avoid the need for a First Cause, which means that you still do not understand that St. Thomas's argument to a First Cause does not depend on a temporal regress among causes.

            You can dismiss all philososphy, but the evidence is clear that you dismiss what you do not understand in its central concepts. This is amazing!

            Worse yet, you refer me to another article that purports to explain St. Thomas's "Argument from an Efficient Cause," whose author commits -- were it possible -- an even more incompetent error than yours in his false claims against Aquinas.

            He most stupidly claims that St. Thomas maintains that: "There is an efficient cause for everything; nothing can be the efficient cause of itself."

            A freshman student of St. Thomas would get an "F" for making such a mistake! St. Thomas never says that there is an efficient cause for everything. For one thing so obvious that anyone should be able to grasp it, St. Thomas clearly denies that God has a prior cause, since God is understood by St. Thomas as the Uncaused First Cause! How hard is that to understand?

            Anyone with a teaspoon of knowledge about metaphysics knows that the correct statement is not that everything has an efficient cause, but rather, that every effect has a cause.

            For neophytes, I must explain: An effect is a being whose sufficient reason for being is not totally within itself. Such a being needs some proportionate extrinsic sufficient reason in order to explain that which it does not explain itself. Hence, every effect requires an extrinsic sufficient reason, or, what we call a "cause." Hence, every effect requires a cause.

            So, the correct formula is not, as this incompetent author claims, that "there is an efficient cause for everything," (which St. Thomas would never have said), but rather that "there is an efficient cause for every effect."

            I could point to other gross mistakes on your part, but the above is sufficient to prove that your ranting against philosophy in general and St. Thomas in particular is based on nothing but atheistic biases which are themselves based on totally incompetent misrepresentations of St. Thomas's actual positions.

            As David Nickol correctly points out: "Ellabulldog doesn't merely dismiss Aquinas. She argues against him by claiming he believed the universe was eternal, when in reality he argued just the opposite. It's Trumpian."

          • Ellabulldog

            Doc,

            Let's start from the beginning.

            It's very, very, very simple.

            Your argument and Aquinas's argument is that God is uncaused.
            I'm saying Existence is uncaused.

            The argument is no different than Aquinas.

            All that changed is the word.

            Existence = God = First Cause = Energy/Matter which can not be created or destroyed.

            He is just saying that at some point something had to exist without a cause from which all else comes from.

            It's not difficult or brilliant. It's not original either.

            Of course I'm not the first to point this out. I suspect you have a prepared answer to what is the fatal flaw in this argument.

          • Jim the Scott

            @Dennis Bonnette

            >It's very, very, very simple

            No it is not. That is like a "Scientific" Creationist saying to Richard Dawkins. Monkeys give birth to other Monkeys not humans so Evolution is false. It is not simple it is just wrong and a wee bit silly.

            Existence is uncaused but Matter is not existence. Rather existence(i.e. being) is a metaphysical component of matter which is mutable and therefore composite and changeable and thus cannot be pure act.

            >It's not difficult or brilliant.

            Simplest error and erroneous thinking have those properties.

            >It's not original either.

            Materialism is the view Matter is all that there is. From the scholastic view Matter can be eternal but it would need something that is Pure Act to cause it to exist from all eternity and that which is pure act would be distinct from it and Existence Itself which we take to be God.

            You are confusing Existence with the view Matter is all that exists(Materialism).

            Dr. B can answer the rest if he is up to it.

            Ella you really don't know what you are talking about. That is obvious. This is not to hurt yer feelings but given that I don't see how you can possibly believe you would be persuasive even if you are ultimately right and Matter is all that exists? You cannot argue from a position of ignorance and you will have to do a lot of reading in philosophy if you wish to champion materialism.

            Bizarre..

            PS Science isn't going to help you. Science merely gives quantitative knowledge. Claiming Matter is all that exists is a qualitative claim. Thus you need to learn philosophy and metaphysics to defend that claim(yeh good luck with that).

          • Ellabulldog

            again special pleading and more nonsense.

            Pure Act? whatever.
            superstitious twaddle.

            you are confusing your need for a god to exist and calling it philosophy. it's wishful thinking.

            don't equate theology with philosophy.
            don't equate religious propaganda with philosophy.
            don't equate confirmation bias with philosophy.

            you only understand what you want to believe. you don't understand why what you believe is absolute crap. it's not me that doesn't understand. it's all you Jimmy.

            I spent a few hours today reading some philosophy. Model logic. Assertions and refutations of more modern cosmological philosophers. Then this "philosopher" presents his long winded argument that essentially is bullshit. Falls apart in a second.

            I'd suggest you not be impressed with the conclusions and look to the actual philosophy.

            First Cause. Can be anything. No need for a god. You can't see past your bias.

            Not that a First Cause is even proven or necessary.

          • Jim the Scott

            Wow talk about confirmation bias.....:D

            Yer point weak pound pulpit rants are sometimes amusing even if they are 110% void of any coherent substance. Naysaying is not a rebuttal.

            >you only understand what you want to believe. you don't understand why what you believe is absolute crap.

            Words you should utter while looking in the mirror. Except I don't believe you have a rational basis for yer atheism. I agree with Dr B. I don't think you thought it out and you haven't gone beyond anything other than anti-fundamentalist polemics. Now this doesn't make me ultimately right and you wrong(you might have guessed correctly via blind luck) but it shows why you are not suited to convince me any god (much less Classical Theism) doesn't exist or I should maximally doubt the existence of said gods. I prefer reasons. Not an irreligious sermon.

            In my judgement you simply haven't done yer homework.

            >I spent a few hours today reading some philosophy.

            Pop psychology is not philosophy my dear. Just saying.

            >Model logic. Assertions and refutations of more modern cosmological philosophers.

            Well color me skeptical you read any of this but taken at face value this is an admission you clearly don't understand classic Philosophy, essentialism or moderate realism. Thus in principle till you correct yer willful ignorance in these matters you will offer no useful response to my beliefs beyond the level of John Cleese and his argument sketch.

            >it's not me that doesn't understand.

            Says the lady who still thinks Aquinas' first way involves showing the Universe had a formal causal beginning.

            >Pure Act? whatever.
            superstitious twaddle.

            About as effective a response as the proverbial Young Earth Creationist type ranting "Natural selection? Scientific twaddle!".

            Cheers Ella.

          • Ellabulldog

            Jimmy one day share a thought of your own.
            You hang on to other's thoughts to show why you believe.

            So can you explain why you think a god exists? In your own words?
            Actually prove one exists.

            Without quoting others.

            Doubt it

            Now you think your philosophy is brilliant. It's not. It is an epic fail.
            It convinces you. Not surprised and I explained why.
            It really is theology disguised as philosophy for propaganda purposes.

            The Church controlled thought for centuries. When it lost power to kill anyone that wrote or spoke against it then the Enlightenment happened. When you study the timeline of Western Philosophy there is a distinct break when polymaths didn't have to worry about what they said and their real thoughts could be expressed. Philosophers today are agnostic except for those that have a bias towards their superstitious belief. Which can be explained by psychologists.

            I'm not here to convince you that your god doesn't exist. You are free to believe whatever you want.

            If you want to know why your arguments don't convince others I am telling you why.

            I'm also telling you why you believe them.

            I know why you believe what you do. You have no idea why you believe. You only know what you believe.

            So when you understand why someone practices Voodoo, believes Scientology's stories, believes in witches, practices Shinto. Buddhism, Islam or Hinduism or any superstitious belief you will may come to understand why you believe.

            I doubt it. Because you told me that you don't want to gain any knowledge that conflicts with your belief system.

          • Jim the Scott

            Now we are back to the psychobabble woo mixed in with long streams of consciousness.......you are predictable at this point my dear. I set my watch by you.

            ANSWERS IN GENESIS blah blah blah. You know the drill.

          • Ellabulldog

            you believe a virgin was impregnated by a god right?
            you believe the Adam and Eve myth?
            How about the Exodus tall tale?
            Noah's Ark?
            Some guy died for your sins story. You believe that?

            you have a lot in common with the Answers in Genesis folk.

            we can discuss what you believe and how it is the same as a forming a belief in witches, Voodoo or any other superstition.
            we can discuss what religion really is and the importance of it as humans evolved culturally.

            both are interesting subjects.

            when you are ready to understand why you believe is the same as why others believe what they do. what you believe slightly differs but that really isn't the point.

          • Jim the Scott

            You believe Aquinas' First Way and and First Cause are arguments about what caused the Universe to being to exist. You have been corrected on this numerous times yet insist on repeating this factual error? You are entitled to yer own opinions not yer own facts and making up yer own custom made "First Way" and identifying it with Aquinas' brilliant argument (which at this point I conclude you refuse to understand therefore cannot intelligently answer) is simply not convincing. Even if there are no gods.

            I am sorry Ella but you lack the basic competence and learning to intelligently persuade me no gods exist or I should doubt my religion. You are best suited to arguing against low brow Fundamentalist Young Earth Creationist Christianity. Like I said, ANSWERS IN GENESIS is right over there. Have at them. Yer simplistic questions (above)will no doubt wow them over there. If you ever one day actually read a book on classic philosophy so you can up yer A game & offer more sophisticated polemics you know where to find us.

            >when you are ready to understand why you believe is the same as why others believe what they do.

            One doesn't have to believe in gods to see that is an absurd proposition. It is the same woo I've heard from foolish theists who claim Darwin believed in natural selection not from science but because he had a difficult relationship with his father and that caused him to invent a science that was against God or some such nonsense.

          • Ellabulldog

            No I believe Aquinas was producing propaganda for the Church.

            So you think Darwin is correct and the Bible is correct? Lot's of mental gymnastics you are doing to hold too such opposing beliefs. You pick Jimmy. 6 days or billions of years? Which is more likely? Evolution or Adam and Eve? Pick one.

            The reason you hold your belief is the same reason a Muslim holds his. Or a Scientologist. Or a person that practices voodoo.

            One that understands why people believe such things has knowledge. You just ignore it because it hurts your feelings.

            Take a class. Learn why a person believed in Ra. Or Marduk. Or Scientology.
            Look at why hunter/gatherers have no need for an organized religion.

            Study how religion has evolved. Learn how your religion evolved out of the ancient Babylonian religion. Then how it has evolved from the Jewish religion. What other things it has appropriated over time. Lots of knowledge out there.

            Now you have an emotional attachment to your faith. So does an ISIS member. You are no different. You are no different than an Answers in Genesis member. Glad you understand Darwin. You missed the bigger lesson. It defeated your religion. Didn't mean too. That's what happens when people believe 2000 year old fables are true when they are not.

            Yes you have some ancient philosophy you like. Got it.
            You can't defend it. You just like to rant and say I don't understand it.
            I do understand it.

            That's what's funny. You don't. You just enjoy it. You need it.
            You don't understand it.
            You think you do.
            It's not about the argument at all.

            What is going on right now with Iran is serious stuff. We elected a narcissistic sociopath and now it might become a huge problem for the US, Iran and the world. Hopefully cooler heads prevail.

            Knowing how the mind works matters. China and Russia know how to manipulate Trump.
            Those that started religions knew how to manipulate the minds of the human herd.

            It's power. Life and death serious stuff.

            Why people behave they way they do can be understood. How they think can be understood.

            Propaganda got us into WW1 and Hitler used such techniques to start WW2. Same thing you are falling for.

            Have an "authority" say something.
            Repeat it over and over and over.
            People will believe it.

            Even when it's crap.

            Because the human mind is programmed to trust authority. It works most of the time. Until it doesn't and very bad things happen.

            Believe whatever you want. If you go to sleep holding Aquinas's 5 ways more power to you.

          • Jim the Scott

            >So you think Darwin is correct and the Bible is correct? Lot's of mental gymnastics you are doing to hold too such opposing beliefs.

            The above statement is Empirical proof that when you scratch an Atheist you find a fundamentalist.
            Why are you still here? ANSWERS IN GENESIS is waiting for you my dear. Off you pop.

          • Mark

            You just like to rant and say I don't understand it.
            I do understand it.

            I don't want to speak here on behalf of anyone else, but my opinion from outside the conversation you've held with others is that it patently obvious you do not understand it. You don't even categorically understand it. Also I don't care one iota about your psychological analysis of others. It's explanatory power over philosophical questions being asked is limited and almost intellectually abusive in the manner you employ.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            From Ella: "So you think Darwin is correct and the Bible is correct? Lot's of mental gymnastics you are doing to hold too such opposing beliefs. You pick Jimmy. 6 days or billions of years? Which is more likely? Evolution or Adam and Eve? Pick one."

            In the same league with thinking that the Secunda Via must entail a temporal regress to a First Cause is this pathetic revelation that Ella thinks the only two alternatives are either Darwinian naturalism, or else, Young Earth Creationism!

            These repeated errors reveal a lack of reading which would make most people too shy to proclaim they they alone are right and everyone else is brainwashed.

          • Jim the Scott

            One also notices she holds what I like to call "Protestant Atheism" that is an Atheist who assumes Martin Luther's Sola Scriptura doctrines and Perspicuity of Scripture doctrines. What is next? An Agnostic who confesses Transubstanciation?

            This is not to equate Protestants with Atheists (or vice versa if that puts them off too) but to note how silly it is to discuss religion and Scripture with a bunch of Catholics while holding non-Catholic assumptions about Holy Writ. I can almost imagine people with this self defeating mentality trying to debate Papal Infallibility over at a Forum for Reformed Calvinist types.

            Why? At this point Ella should stop and go do more reading. The psychobabble on what phantom psychosis is responsible for my beliefs is getting a wee bit old..

          • Ellabulldog

            Explaining why people believe a philosophy is not the same as analyzing the philosophy itself.

            I dismiss the philosophy. I'm not trying to debate it. It failed long ago the second pen hit paper.

            Others are continually going back to debating the philosophy because it's their crutch. They want to argue Thomism because they are convinced by the propaganda. That's all it is.

            You certainly don't have to study why you believe whatever you do. You can stick to your philosophy. You can believe whatever you want. But don't pretend it's about being intellectual. Confirmation bias and motivated reasoning don't create intellectuals. It creates group think. Being an expert on Thomism only relates when someone can trace how philosophy developed prior to him, understand his contributions and then look at modern philosophy as well. It's a continual learning process.

            Cognitive science, psychology, comparative religion, secular biblical research, physics, evolutionary biology, and more can provide you with actual knowledge. But not knowledge you will like.

            It is about emotions not reason.

            Not expecting you to like what I say. This site claims it wants to hear from atheists. Not all atheists will debate using Thomism or even think it's worthy of their time. I gave my reasons.

            82% of philosophers today are agnostic. They disagree with the 5 ways. It holds no knowledge or explanatory power or else they would be theists.

            I promised the Doc I'd learn some more philosophy. Took out more books yesterday.

            I read two last year covering most philosophers from the West. They don't end with Aquinas. Things evolved later.

          • Mark

            Philosophy literally means love of truth. I have multiple science degrees and a post doctorate board certification. I know what science provides. I'm also keenly aware of its limitations and the limitations my education gave me in regard to philosophy. I've also been open about my personal failures which is why I fell in love with philosophy. It isn't about my emotions; it's about truth. I don't like or dislike anything you say, I'm indifferent to your amateur psychology and your ideological abuse of reason is rather commonplace in society and academia. It's just strange you keep writing the same fallacious claims over and over like they might all of a sudden have meaning.

          • Jim the Scott

            Mark I believe what you posted here is known in the vernacular as a mike-drop. Well said.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            My only emendation would be to point out that the etymology of philosophy is more precisely "the love of wisdom." Wisdom, specifically, is the intellectual virtue or science concerning the first or supreme causes of all things. So, the philosopher is concerned with learning the most important truths that the mind of man can attain.

            The story goes that Pythagoras coined the term when asked if he was a wise man. He replied that he was not a wise man, but a "lover of wisdom," that is, a philosopher.

          • Ellabulldog

            I glad you like truth. So why do you believe a lie?

            That's what I'm discussing.

            Aquinas's philosophy is only convincing because you like the conclusion.
            It is not a proof and it has obvious flaws.

            Ignore psychology, the social sciences, cognitive science, comparative religions, anthropology, and more if you must.

            You are projecting when you call my arguments fallacious.

            The cosmological argument argues for a First Cause. Now a cause isn't necessary. The argument does not prove one is.
            It's possible Existence is uncaused. Just as it is proposed a god would be uncaused. It's special pleading. Which is fallacious. Calling something "necessary" doesn't change anything.

            Aquinas's brings up time. Time is a function of this universe. This universe is not Existence. Existence is more than this universe. This universe is not infinite because we know it began 14 billion years ago. We don't know what existed before this universe. That can be infinite. Yet we can't know.

            So he made a mistake there. He doesn't even know what he should be discussing.

            Then he brings up contingent and says everything in the universe is contingent so it needs a non contingent thing to be the first cause. We know that matter/energy can neither be created or destroyed. So no there not need be a god. The necessary being need not a be a being at all. Especially a supernatural being.

            Can't just assume everything is contingent when it's simple to say and prove everything is not.

            Also no reason to come up with a harder to explain entity than what we already know does actually exist. Unless you think "just because I say so" is a good explanation? That's really all it is. Dressed up a bit nicer sure.

            So he made another mistake there.

            Certainly there must be counter arguments to explain away my objections. None convincing to anyone that isn't already a believer.

            Now of course we don't know how Existence began. Or if it didn't begin how it just always was/is.

            So the philosophical stance if you want to be honest and truthful would be agnosticism.

            Believe it if you want. Just don't pretend you have a rational belief. Or that it is the truth.

            It's just all a exercise in confirmation bias. An emotional belief.

            Darn that amateur psychology you don't like.

          • Rob Abney

            I promised the Doc I'd learn some more philosophy. Took out more books yesterday.

            I read two last year covering most philosophers from the West.

            What were the books? You can get good suggestions here.
            Here's a good Thomistic video series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_kd4Kgq4tP8e1BBGrC-eFlp86fqyvGex

          • Ellabulldog

            ok, will take a look.

          • Ellabulldog

            4th video out of the 39.
            science can explain religion. that's a long subject to address later.
            science only proves a god is false and thereby a religion when knowledge learned shows a religious claim to be wrong. for example the Sun is a star and not the god RA. Darwin when explaining Natural Selection didn't set out to prove a Bible story and the Bible itself wrong. It just happened. Not Darwin's fault. Now Catholics accept Evolution but quite a few Christians "millions of them" have a huge issue with the science.

            there is a statement that there can not be something true according to faith and not true according to reason. that simply is false.

            reality is outside of the mind. Aquinas is correct. it exists whether our minds exist or don't.

            what happens is Aquinas assumes God. then equates truth with god and then faith = reason = truth.

            he is correct that we trust authority for our truths. as an authority figure he certainly understood that making a statement from authority that others would accept it. non Catholics/Christians would need more correct? what he calls the signs of credibility are not credible. I did sit through Catholic masses for a couple decades. For easy math 50 a year for 20 years is 1000. Never was anything credible. It was asserted as true and people just accept it. It never had to be proven true.

            The issue is the resurrection story doesn't hold up. That an anonymous person quoted in a book claims that anonymous people witnessed a dead person come back to life needs to be substantiated by a whole lot more. The founders of a cult can't be the source of and the proof of their claim. We come across this while studying Mormonism. Joseph Smith made claims and he had witnesses. While not alive today I'm sure we can all agree that there was no Moroni the Angel that visited him. No gold tablets exist.

            What happens in video 4 is that he admits such things can not be proven true. Then just assumes asserts they are true.

            It's an example of messing with the meaning of the word "true". It confuses the minds of some and then with the power of authority he asserts it and moves on.

            A skeptic says "wait a second" or "that doesn't cut it".

            A believer will say I understand. Makes sense to me. All because they are looking for confirmation that their belief is true

            will watch #5 in a bit. got other work to do.

          • Rob Abney

            "science can explain religion"
            you played your scientism card early.

            "when knowledge learned shows a religious claim to be wrong. for example the Sun is a star and not the god"
            that has never been a Catholic belief

            "Darwin when explaining Natural Selection didn't set out to prove a Bible story and the Bible itself wrong. It just happened."
            as you've been told numerous times, we are not fundamentalists here, I'm sure you just like an easy target.

            "Aquinas assumes God"
            no, he presents multiple proofs which will be explained to you if you keep watching the videos.

            "Aquinas is an authority figure"
            this is funny, he was a lowly monk, he had to walk across the Alps on foot; he is well-known because of what he wrote.

            "the resurrection story doesn't hold up"
            it will not hold up if you deny the existence of God

          • Ellabulldog

            No such thing as scientism. Cognitive Science of Religion is a real science.

            Never said that Catholics thought the Sun was a god.
            There are many things like Genesis, Adam and Eve, the Exodus, and more that have been found to be not true based on science discoveries. If you call them fable fine. Catholics accept Evolution today I know.

            In this video and others Aquinas assumes god. Yes I do have more to go.

            Aquinas is an authority figure now. Because of this what he says is something that many will accept outright without even considering it to not be true. That is what humans do. Not just Catholics or the religious.

            Even if there is a god of some sort the resurrection story is only a story. Lots of theists don't believe the story. Billions don't. Likely you don't believe Mohammed's story or Joseph Smith's.
            To me it doesn't pass the smell test... for a god that is supposed to be all knowing he would understand that such a story would not convince most. 5 billion non Christians. 2 billion Christians. 2000 years after is not what an infallible god would be happy with. Batting .400 is great for baseball but is failing for most things. Pretty good for a religion though. Not for a god. Just my take on it.

            But I'll keep going on the videos.

          • Rob Abney

            “Aquinas is an authority figure now“
            This has to be the most respected way to become an authority figure, by your writing, not by your position.

            “Because of this what he says is something that many will accept outright without even considering it to not be true.“ This is because he earned that trust but it doesn’t mean that he is infallible.

          • Jim the Scott

            >No such thing as scientism. Cognitive Science of Religion is a real science.

            What she writes above is just well....incoherent.

            It is like saying "There is no such thing as metaphysical naturalism. The study of biology is a real natural science."
            Which is equally weird.

            This is what one gets when one refuses to learn philosophy.
            One gets gibberish.

            Scientism/Positivism is the philosophical belief the only real & or meaningful knowledge is empirical scientific knowledge.

            That the above philosophical view cannot be know to be true via science renders it false by its own standards.

          • Ellabulldog

            He was made the papal theologian while alive.
            He was very, very good at his job.
            His job was to come up with reasons to believe.

            He did not prove God. But I don't think that mattered to the Church. They just said he did.

            But the authority I'm talking about is how someone can assert Aquinas said this and it is true and people take it as truth. The videos do that. It's presented as fact when it is not. That's their job. They are doing a good job as well.

            There are psychological reasons for why people trust.

            Certainly he can be questioned. But in the Church who really does?

            Things are asserted. Repeated over and over and people believe it.

            Very few people will read the philosophy. Then next to none will read the counter arguments to it from other philosophers.

            I know a lot of Catholics. None have studied the Bible. None have critiqued it or spent the time studying comparative religion.
            Heck just getting many of them to spend an hour in church once a week is a lot to ask.

            Most will just accept what they are told.

            But if they do want to research some this stuff can work for confirmation bias. They will read or watch it and then feel good about their faith.

            That's what I've been discussing.

          • Ellabulldog

            Video 5 . Hylomorphism. Not going to work. Can't just assume souls exist. It's wishful thinking.

            Video 9. His argument goes way off the board. He is asserting we know things by faith, divine revelation etc. He will say it isn't known by philosophical argument or scientific evidence yet calls it a science known by grace. I can't believe the speaker can say this without rolling his eyes. Theology is not a science.

            Video 11. calls his answers truths. it jumps to an unfounded conclusion. He says it with authority for a reason and not because Aquinas had a proof or offered a truth.

            Video 12.
            Metaphysics: Study of causes of why things exist.
            Great.
            Claims it is objective.
            Great.
            Then right at the end it jumps to "God".
            It could say is Reality or Existence eternal and uncaused or because of his job was it because of a god.

            Video 13. Potentiality. He is assigning a mind to things that don't need one. He starts well and then reaches his conclusion because in his mind that is where he wanted to end up anyway. An island is not made in an ocean because someone designed it. Random events can cause change with no idea of what the outcome will be.

            Video 14. Matter and Forms. What we are is composed of matter. Arranged by our DNA. If you want Form to Equal DNA fine. But non living things have no DNA. The do have a chemical structure.

            Video 15. Kinds are irreducible. This is false. Everything can be reduced. We eventually get down to energy. It was when energy changed to matter when elements formed.

            Video 16. Existence or Nature exist. No need to call it god. This is where Aquinas makes the jump with no reason to.

            Video 21. He jumps to god creates order and all of the cause and effect. No reason to do so. There need be no puppet pulling the strings of Nature. The laws of physics and other systems we discover tells us how the world works. Nothing when we discover such things lead us toward a necessary god.

            Video 22. It's just saying God is Existence or Nature. It then goes way off. Saying it is goodness. There need be no emotion to causation. It states that Aquinas can know that God is the primary cause but that is not true. Aquinas is practicing theology there not philosophy. He can't know.

            Video 23. Analogy. There is good on Earth so God is good or the source of good. It does not establish a god exists. It does not establish "good" exists.

            Good is descriptive and subjective. What I see as good you may not. We see our actions in the Middle East as good yet many there do not. A steak tastes good. A cow may object. As may a Hindu.

            Then Aquinas is giving his god traits. By doing so he is defining this god. So if there is evil in the world this god is also evil. He is saying this god is everything. Again theology not philosophy.

            Video 25. Belief here is trust. But defined poorly. I may believe or trust my doctor but I do not trust unconditionally. Such belief is based on probability and also the ability to fact check the assertion. We get second opinions from doctors. We don't maintain our trust or belief in our teachers or doctors if new information becomes available. We don't trust or believe without predictable results.
            We do have to trust as humans in order to survive. Trust of authority that is then enforced by society is very powerful. Even when what is being discussed is not true. Lot's of examples of how humans can believe things without good reason or evidence. Most of the time trust is a good thing. Don't eat that berry or you will die. Yet this same trust gets people to listen to false authority based on emotional arguments not rational arguments. We can trust but not to the point of being naïve. Trust should never be given unconditionally. Always maintain some skepticism. It is situation dependent.

            will work on the rest later.

            now I may complain and give criticism but I am not giving my agreements here. I do agree with things said within the videos too.

          • Rob Abney

            "now I may complain and give criticism but I am not giving my agreements here. I do agree with things said within the videos too."
            you'll have to list a few, hopefully it won't show a contradiction in your thinking

          • Ellabulldog

            Video 26. universals/forms....dna.
            bunch of nothing but I'm sure it is in this for a reason...
            or we visualize a dog and name it. but the dog exists. our conception of a dog is nothing more than how our brain remembers it.

            our brains process our senses. what the dog is doesn't change because of our brain.

            27. Goodness.
            again it is subjective.
            desire is how he defines it. yet drugs are desired but they are not good.
            he also didn't understand that we don't always choose. our nature chooses for us.
            I don't choose to eat salt. my body craves salt and I subconsciously eat food with salt.

            perfection. living things seek to reproduce. that's pretty much it.

            again good is subjective.
            this is a big difference in how humans think about the world.

            when liberal or conservatives argue it is about how they thing about the term good. what matters the good of society or the good of the person and how do we determine which is best.

            sin doesn't really exist. as humans we follow cultural norms because we are tribal. we work towards the good of our tribe which then aids us. if someone does not they are ejected from the tribe. but what was good in the past might not be good today.
            there are also differences/defects in some humans. such people can not function in society. it is not a choice but a product of their nature and nurture. I don't condone bad behavior but we need to understand why people behave as they do. It's not as simple as an 800 year old definition.

            For instance it is really easy for someone brought up in a stable home with ample food and education to be "good". It is not so easy for someone brought up in by a single drug addicted parent where the water is poisoned by lead. Someone of course can have everything and still have a mental issue that they can't control. All nature and nurture. Most people are good. The problem is it only takes a few bad people to manipulate millions to billions of good people.

            As tribes grew larger controlling people that did not work towards the good of the tribe became problematic and remains so today. Less than 100 it is easy to monitor. Larger and it becomes difficult if not impossible.

            Video 28. Soul. No such thing.
            Again we are a result of our nature and nurture. Our DNA and how the environment we interact with influences us.
            We are not all born the same nor do people have the same environment or experiences.

            We can make limited choices but are very much like a bee or ant. We conform to our nature and what society expects of us. If we do not we won't live to procreate. We are self aware to an extent. We actually don't control most of our actions. Rational thought kicks in after emotional or automatic reactions.

            Video 30. 5 Ways.
            1. That the Bible doesn't always lead to a god belief. Of course it doesn't as god belief is cultural. There were lots of gods well before the Bible. The Bible's history can be traced. It is natural to wonder. Awe is natural.

            2. Natural knowledge of god. There is a natural inclination in some/many humans towards superstition not a god. God belief is taught. Humans worship differently based on their culture and the size of it. Hunter gatherers and smaller groups practice much differently. Monotheism is a concept developed over thousands of years and was not how humans saw "gods" at all.

            I agree with Aquinas.
            There is either a First Cause or something has always existed. I tend towards something has always existed. Either way we can't know. He wants to use his philosophy to say he can know but it fails.

            How matter/energy came to be I don't know.
            If he has a need to call it "God" that is on him. Saying God just exists and made everything is a god of the gaps argument. He spent his life coming up with nothing more than that. He would need to prove a god exists and that this god doesn't need a cause.

            It's that simple.

            We have no proof of a god. We have a lot of proof of Nature. Saying something supernatural has to exist in order to make the natural world is not brilliant philosophy. It is the same thing as someone saying that the Sun is a god.

            The perfection argument is really silly btw. Life seeks to continue. What lives is what outcompetes others for resources and can reproduce. Perfect isn't what we have. It's better than nothing of course.

            That things without intelligent act for the sake of ends?. Bees do what they do in order to procreate and survive. Nature does not have a mind guiding it. Clouds don't produce rain because plants are thirsty. Bacteria adapt to our medicine because of nature not because some mind is guiding it to. BTW that leads you to one evil god if you think it is responsible for smallpox, polio and many other terrible diseases.

            Video 31. It's a bunch of assertions with no backing. Wishful thinking. We exist so god exists. That's all it is. The god of the Bible was not love but jealous and vengeful btw. Not that it is real.

            Video 32. - and then Jesus at the end. bit of a stretch.

            Video 33. God's knowledge.
            Seriously he's just making stuff up.

            Video 34. God is Love.

            Incoherent rambling.

            Video 35. God's Providence.

            Nature has no plan. Things happen.

            Video 36. Choices.
            nothing to do with a god.
            free will is an illusion...
            yes we can make choices. but those are limited.

            hah, only God can make us happy. some people need a god to be happy. many people struggle with reality.

            Video 37. Now this is religion not philosophy. Adam and Eve is fable so there was no original sin. Plus God doesn't make mistakes. Only an inept god would have to come back to fix things. A really bumbling god has to do it over and over. So the Flood "which didn't fix things" then needed "Jesus" later.
            Sorry it's fable and myth. Never happened.

            Only saved by God's grace. Can't become supernatural without him.
            Then sin.

            First in the history of mankind most humans have never heard of the Catholic god. Then there are many non Catholic moral humans.

            Video 38/39 Trinity.
            It's a mess.

            When starting the new cult they based it on Jesus. Not on the Hebrew God.
            So they had a big problem getting the new guy to fit the old stuff and the new stuff. Some people seem to think it works. Some don't. Most don't think about it.

            Summary.

            This video series is for people that believe already. It won't convince anyone that does not. It does give insight into the Church's apologetics.

            Aquinas assumes God. He can't prove God. His philosophy doesn't.
            It provides no knowledge. Well it provides knowledge about how Aquinas and others thought in the past. So that is fine.

            It is an exercise in how people that want a god to exist go to great lengths to justify to themselves that a god exists.

            The priests do a good job. It's well produced. It explains definitions for those that need them.

            But as a skeptic. Doesn't work.

            My sister would love them. She's Catholic. Maybe she has watched them.

          • Rob Abney

            Im glad that you watched the series, not sure how you could take in much information watching them in such a short period of time. It seems as if you only actually responded to the titles since you continue to argue against strawmen such as whether or not the universe has always existed.
            It will be difficult for you to ever acknowledge God’s existence due to your willful self denial (video 30). Try to engage one topic rather than trying to apply your bag of internet cliches.
            For instance, what is the ultimate cause of your existence right now. It’s not your parents since they could be dead and gone and yet you still exist. What keeps you in existence right now?

          • Ellabulldog

            the videos were short.

            I'm not setting up any strawman. I'm agreeing with Aquinas that Existence is eternal. I'm saying it is material. He is inserting a god. He can't back it up with his wishful thinking.

            Aquinas is saying a god exists uncaused and created everything.

            He never proves that a god exists.
            He never proves one is necessary.

            He simply takes the uncaused material world and labels it God. That is all the argument is.

            He plays with definitions. So what? Universe is contingent. Ok. Matter/Energy is necessary. Issue solved.

            No need to invent the supernatural.

            You find it convincing because he is confirming your bias. You want it to be true.
            It's an easy sell.

            Aquinas presents an emotional argument. Not a rational argument.
            Calling it rational doesn't make it one.

            What keeps me in existence? Same thing as you.
            My environment and what it provides to sustain me.

            I'm mortal. When I die I will cease to exist.
            When you die you will cease to exist.
            We both will decompose. Then we are recycled. Not much different than recycling a newspaper. That might depress you. Yes it stinks. But that is reality. I get why everyone wants a god to exist. l;

            I have no self denial. I'm being honest. Not everyone needs a crutch. Not everyone falls for the obvious lies and propaganda of the world's religions. Not everyone is emotional and struggles with reality.

            We can study what religion is. None are true.
            We can study god belief and other superstitious belief. None are true.

            There is knowledge out there and Aquinas doesn't provide it.

            You are in denial. Not I.

            You can access the knowledge of what religions are.

            Take this course. https://www.edx.org/course/the-science-of-religion

            I was raised Catholic. I didn't choose to not believe. I simply can't believe.
            I'm not responsible for what others are asserting. I not responsible for the fact that you believe it.

            I wanted to know why people do. Instead of just dismissing religious people as ignorant.
            Aquinas is smart. I'm sure you are smart.
            It's not about rational. It's emotional. It's how our brains work most of the time.

            The human mind is what we can study. Human cultures we can study.

            It's not about Christianity at all. It's about much more.

            It's about why we form beliefs and hold them. No matter what they are.

            Cognitive science, anthropology, psychology, biblical studies/comparative religion, philosophy that you don't agree with and more are not clichés.

          • Rob Abney

            "What keeps me in existence? Same thing as you.
            My environment and what it provides to sustain me."
            So, what is the ULTIMATE cause, what keeps the environment in existence? Ultimately it must be something that does not require another to keep it in existence. This is not a god of the gaps argument, this is a demonstration of the need for a first cause (not a temporal first cause).

          • Ellabulldog

            I believe I said that. Matter/Energy. The building blocks of our universe and Existence. It can be neither created or destroyed. Which subatomic particles they are we don't know yet. We might not ever. Bosens. Gravitons. Quarks, Leptons? Many are theoretical.

            Changing the adjective matters not. First Cause or Ultimate Cause or Temporal.
            All caps? Is that for you?

            Now you are back to a cause. Why? I keep saying there doesn't need to be a cause.
            And Aquinas agrees with me.

            He calls the first thing God. An uncaused cause.
            Existence can be eternal. An uncaused cause. Whatever word you like.

            It's anthropomorphism. Assigning human qualities to things. We don't need to assign human qualities to nature. We can think so then we assume Nature thinks. We design things so we assume that Nature/Existence is the same.

            I don't know how this all happened. Nobody knows. Aquinas didn't know either.

            It IS a god of the gaps argument.

            13th century theology dressed up as philosophy.

            It's not possible for matter/energy to not exist or nothing would exist.

            It's not about humans.

            We are not special.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I don't have a prepared answer because what you say isn't really an argument. It is a conclusion to an argument.

            The conclusions that "God is uncaused" and "Existence is uncaused" are two very different conclusions to two distinct arguments -- arguments which you do not present here.

            I still see no sign that you grasp the thrust of Aquinas's argument, since you say, "He is just saying that at some point something had to exist without a cause from which all else comes from."

            You still sound like you think Aquinas's argument follows a line of temporal causal regression back in time to a First Cause.

            This simply is not his argument, especially since careful reading of his texts reveals that he considers that an infinite temporal regress is philosophically possible -- even though, as a Christian, he does not believe it actually occurred.

            Aquinas's causal regress entails a causal chain in which all the intermediaries exist and cause simultaneously. Moreover, the "eternity" of the First Cause is understood, not only as having neither temporal beginning nor end, but also as having no time at all -- as existing completely outside of time in a timeless and immutable NOW. Time itself is part of creation, since it is a measure of motion and motion takes place solely in physical things.

            Your term, "Existence," simply sounds to me like saying matter/energy have endlessly perdured, but are merely the same as the physical universe.

            The reason this latter explanation fails to meet the demands of reason is that physical reality, the cosmos, is subject to constant change, and hence, itself needs something outside itself to explain all that comes to be within its changes. See my article on this phenomenon here:
            https://drbonnette.com/how-new-existence-implies-god/

            At any rate, if you really understood St. Thomas's argument from motion, you would realize that it is very different in structure and conclusion from the "argument" you propose as analogous.

            The real problem with your "Existence" or physical world as being the First Cause is that its constant change is the very property that constitutes it as the effect of some non-material simultaneously-existing Cause, which is not a first in time, but rather is an unchanging efficient cause of motion in the cosmos. The argument I linked you to above is in some ways closer to the physical world than you may expect.

            The very constant evolutionary newness of the universe or multi-verse is what it itself cannot explain, as I explain in the article cited.

            The whole reason that God is needed is that physical nature fails to completely explain itself on careful analysis, whereas the First Cause Uncaused does so on careful analysis. They are not in the same category. Of course, materialists think the world explains itself -- since that is what they believe and their confirmation bias makes it hard for them to think "outside the box."

          • Ellabulldog

            My statement is the same as Aquinas's argument. Just switch the words. You are attempting to make it something it is not so you can defeat what it isn't.

            God or Existence are the same thing. The arguments are not distinct. Just words.

            One has sentimental value to you. Doesn't change a thing.

            If one can be asserted to exist the other can be as well.

            Matter/Energy actually do exist in reality. A god only exists in our imagination. Outside the box doesn't mean someone can just make stuff up. We don't gain knowledge by just making things up. We learn by expanding our knowledge base by looking for answers.

            Lightning is not thrown by the gods. The Sun is a star and not a god. Would you wish we still thought that?

            You claim the First Cause Uncaused completely explains itself. Ok. I agree. Existence is uncaused. Matter and energy for some reason just happen to be.

            That you call it "God" is your bias. Which as there is no description of this god at all it can be tossed for not being defined.

            Then you want to change this argument to another. That change has to be explained and that a god is necessary.

            Change happens all of the time with no god necessary. A volcano explodes and an island is produced. Nature is like that. Let's just toss that argument too. It's a poor one.

            Gods are explained by cognitive science. Humans believe in gods as a coping mechanism.

            No god can be the First Cause because there were no gods until we invented them. That happened recently in the last 100000 years or so.

            Best scenario you can get to presently is that you can't know. That's agnosticism.

            Beliefs and faith. Not worth a thing.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "You claim the First Cause Uncaused completely explains itself. Ok. I agree. Existence is uncaused. Matter and energy for some reason just happen to be."

            The real problem here is that you have simply never researched the classical proofs for God's existence, especially the Five Ways of St. Thomas Aquinas.

            I say this as one who actually has published the book, entitled Aquinas' Proofs for God's Existence (Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972).

            In fact, if you knew anything about St. Thomas's Five Ways, you would know that one of the two objections he raises against his own proofs is the claim that "nature just explains itself." (Summa Theologiae I, q. 2, a. 3, ad 2)

            In other words, while you totally fail to understand his arguments, he anticipated yours twelve centuries ago!

            You confute "Existence" with matter/energy, assume it has existed forever, that it is uncaused, and "for some reason just happens to be."

            When you say it "just happens to be" for some reason, which you know nothing about, you have just abandoned all the pretense of rationality.

            Simply put, you are merely a standard, run-of-the-mill, materialist who has never really studied the proofs for God's existence.

            All of which means that your anti-theistic diatribes are based merely on bias and emotion, not upon any real reasoning or proper intellectual formation about the issues involved.

            Further discussion is a waste of time. You may have the last word. And I am sure you will have a lot of them.

          • Ellabulldog

            When Aquinas says "God" just happens to be he lost his argument. He won on the propaganda though which is what he produced. It's disguised as philosophy.

            I made my analogy to show how flawed Aquinas's argument is.

            It's that easy to defeat. You find his defense compelling. Others do not. You find it compelling because you are biased towards his conclusion. God has to exist. God not existing is not possible to your mind.

            But you misrepresent my stance.

            I am agnostic to the question of existence. We don't know.
            Those that claim to know are either lying, mistaken, or simply giving an opinion or they have a "hunch". That includes god statements or string theory or whatever new scientific idea.

            I am atheist towards the gods of men. We do know how gods are invented. We do know how the human mind works regarding such beliefs. We have knowledge of this. You understand this when you see Thor as fable or understand that the Jedi are not real. Yet you do not apply the same type of thinking towards your own belief system. You have to ignore a lot to do so. You can compartmentalize it. It is all cognitive science.

            I am igtheist when a god is not defined.

            So back to Aquinas and my three stances.

            He provided no answer to how Existence came to be. No knowledge at all. Something was first so then we have all this. Doesn't answer why something came first or how that came to be. So I'm agnostic still.

            He did not define this god. It's a First Cause called God. Where he fails is this First Cause can be anything. It could be matter/energy. It could be Thanos after he got the infinity stones. It could be Xenu. It could be the Force.

            So I'm igtheist towards his god and it is dismissed.

            As to my atheism. We can study religions. We can study superstitions. We can study the human mind. Lots of knowledge out there. I knew at a young age the stories were not true. My sister still believes. All nature and nurture. Our brains are wired differently. My sisters and mine and yours and mine. It's not about Aquinas at all.

            I have spent years studying why people believe. You have spent years convincing yourself of what you believe. That's the difference between us.

            Doesn't mean you aren't smart or brilliant. Just a slightly different brain/amygdala and how it processes this one particular issue.

            Have a great day.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You force me to be a liar by replying on one point when I said you had the last word, since, once again, you are making a claim against St. Thomas that simply is not true.

            You wrote: "When Aquinas says "God" just happens to be he lost his argument."

            That is NOT what St. Thomas says about the First Cause. That is what YOU said about YOUR "first cause:" You call your first cause, "Existence." And then you say, "Existence is uncaused. Matter and energy for some reason just happen to be."

            Contrary to saying God "just happens to be," St. Thomas holds that God is the Necessary Being, who MUST exist, since his essence is identical to his existence. Hence, he exists of his very essence and is thus, the Necessary Being.

            If you are going to "dismiss" God, at least get your facts about what others hold straight.

            Now I will try to shut up.

          • Ellabulldog

            I said a First Cause could be Matter/Energy not that it was. It was an analogy. Big difference.

            A First Cause could be just about anything. Which doesn't mean I agree there is a First Cause.

            As an agnostic we don't know how Existence began or if it always has been. I'm not claiming to know. I may have a hunch but I can't claim to know.

            Aquinas certainly did say God "just happens to be". I shortened it some but that is all he really did.

            Aquinas claims a god is necessary and must exist. That is simply an unfounded assertion. A god needs to exist for those that believe a god exists. He's playing to his audience and his own bias. Would you expect a Catholic to say anything else?

            Then why even bother with the First Cause if God exists just because he is necessary and identical to his essence. Maybe because that whole statement is woo and meaningless.

            He can't claim because he can't know "God" nor can he know the "essence" of this "God".
            Then he claims it is a "being". Kind of getting too assured his audience would not call him on that.

            There need not be a First Cause. He did not prove that.

            If there is some First Cause it need not be a god.

            Aquinas came up with an argument that works on those that are looking for confirmation of their belief system. For propaganda it is great. Brilliant marketing? Sure. Still works on many today.

            It's not proof nor is it convincing to those that aren't biased towards his conclusion.

            Philosophically it's full of holes. You can disagree with Russel or Hume and others. Yet 82% of modern philosophers disagree with Aquinas. I'd guess those that do not have a god bias. If this philosophy was proof or convincing they all would not be agnostic.

            I'll shut up. You don't have to. It's fine to discuss things.

            I spent a few hours today reading some German's Model Philosophy about this. I think it is a load of crap too but the guy spent a lot of time writing a thesis that fell apart before he finished his first page.

            So if anything you got me to spend a few hours studying philosophy.

          • Jim the Scott

            Ellabulldog just invents things and pretends they are the arguments of classic philosophers.

            She still thinks Aquinas is arguing for a cause at the beginning of the Universe.

          • Jim the Scott

            You do realize you have yet to post anything original or intelligible? No? I guess you don't.

            These long streams of consciousness must be great therapy for you but they fail to do one important thing. Offer any intelligent polemics against any form of sophisticated classic theism.

            Same thing over and over.....if you won't learn philosophy in order to argue intelligently and effectively yer emotive appeals for me to "just disbelieve" mean nothing.

            >You will continue to lose every argument you ever make....

            How can I lose the argument when you won't even bother to learn how to make one in a proper fashion? Even if I lost my faith tomorrow I would still hold yer anti-intellectual form of Atheism in deep contempt. Much like I do anti-intellectual form of Theism. Philosophy teaches us how to argue. You are like a person challenging me to learn addition without first learning to count. Oh Ella what good are you?

            ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there Ella. Have at them.

          • Ellabulldog

            sophisticated theism????
            hilarious.

            again motivated reasoning and confirmation bias isn't sophisticated. your mind was far too easily convinced by ancient fable and lies. the true knowledge is why you believe not what you believe.

            philosophy teaches you how to argue? so far all you have done is whine.
            it has not taught you how to think critically about your emotionally held belief.

            it provides you with apologetic nonsense. not with any proof.

            that's why you have a belief or "faith" which is simply your opinion. your opinion means nothing Jimmy.

            philosophy can't support your superstitious beliefs. it only makes you feel better.

            science explains why you have superstitious beliefs.

            read Pascal Boyer's book. start there. or not.

            provide proof of you god. calling your opinion philosophy doesn't make it so.

          • Jim the Scott

            Humans who descend from Monkeys! Monkeys who give birth to humans! Hilarious!

            The above represents the quality of non-argument you have shown thus far.

            >philosophy teaches you how to argue? so far all you have done is whine.

            Then there is yer tendency to project yer own faults on others.........

            The burden is on you to learn philosophy and formulate philosophical defeaters. You are here to convince me no gods exists or to doubt their existence. I don't care what you believe. I didn't show up in yer forum challenging you to believe.
            It is on you. Learn philosophy or go away because the Woo is getting tiresome.

            >read Pascal Boyer's book.

            Why do I need to? I reject Scientific Theism. I absolutely don't believe the existence of God is a scientific question but a philosophical one only. The theistic personalist Intelligent Design "god" he refutes (& I am sure he does it quite competently) I am already a strong Atheist in terms of belief.

            You have got Scientism on the brain honey child.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/scientism-roundup.html

            Classic Theist are all Atheists toward any type of "Scientific" God. God is a philosophical question alone and can be known to exist via philosophical argument alone. Claiming you can prove or disprove "god" via science is like claiming you can dig up a Higgs Boson in a fossil bed. Or prove natural selection with a Particle Accelerator. It is called a category mistake.

            You are required to refute the God I believe in. Not the one you wish I believed in.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/classical-theism-roundup.html

            If you after all this still refuse to do this then ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there and or UNCOMMON DESCENT is there too. I am sure Boyer's book would be quite useful to you there but it is worthless here. He refutes a "god" none of us believe in. Not me. Not Dr. B, Feser or Rob & nor all of the Catholics here...

            You still don't get that?

          • Ellabulldog

            I'm not here to convince you. I know your mind is made up.
            That's my whole point Jimmy.

            The burden is not on me to learn philosophy when you have not learned any yourself.
            You quote others. I can do the same.

            https://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/cause.shtml
            bunch of philosophy there defeating your god.

            Boyer explains why humans believe in gods. He doesn't care about what your god is. He understands what your "philosophy" is.

            The god you believe in here isn't a philosophical god is it? Just a generic Creator?

            So you are a Deist then.

            Or are you denying your god when cornered? Jealous gods don't like that Jimmy.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'm not here to convince you.

            Then why do you keep kvetching & responding with nonsense? ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there,

            >You quote others. I can do the same.
            https://philosophy.lander.e...

            You already posted that link to Hume & I posted a link in response to it. Feser blows that nonsense out of the water. See my last link from him. I won't repeat myself. It is clear you read neither.

            >The burden is not on me to learn philosophy.......

            Then you will never offer any anti-theistic polemics more sophisticated than mere Fundamentalism. You have nothing to say to me. I won't waste my time with someone who is willfully ignorant and want to bore me to death offering polemics for a god I already don't believe in or bore me with psychobabble.

            >Boyer explains why humans believe in gods. He doesn't care about what your god is.

            Then in principle he can offer no intelligent criticism since you cannot intelligently criticize that which you maintain an enforced ignorance.
            Case in point yer lackluster polemics thus far.

            I am afraid there is no such thing as a one size fits all anti-religious polemic. That is true even if there are no gods. You have to tailor make yer polemics to the specific philosophical theism of yer opponent. Boyer obviously is targeting scientific Theism. Which I already reject. Really Ella that is a boring as you recommending a book that refutes Young Earth Creationism. I already mentioned to Gary & George I am a Theistic Evolutionist.

            >The god you believe in here isn't a philosophical god is it?

            Seriously? Are you even reading my responses? I am Catholic and I specialize in natural theology. That requires learning philosophy and philosophical arguments for the existence of God. You thus refuse to learn philosophy and wish to bore me to death yer recycled anti-ID polemics. Spare me.....

            Why are you here Ella? If you are not here to convince me Atheism is true and Classic Theism is false then you have no purpose other than to bore.

            I reject Scientific Theism. The "god" Boyer polemics I don't believe in anyway. What part of that do ye not understand?

          • Ellabulldog

            https://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/cause.shtml

            More for you to ponder. It's philosophy. Just not from your favorite philosophers.

          • Jim the Scott

            A rebuttal for you to ponder.

            Hume, cosmological arguments, and the fallacy of composition
            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/12/hume-cosmological-arguments-and-fallacy.html

            Hume confused imagination with conception so his criticism is invalid.

            Additionally there are NO historical Cosmological Arguments that postulate that "Everything has a cause". One only sees that strawman argument being made by Atheists and Skeptics. No theistic philosopher has ever made that. However I do seem to recall reading a version of the Cosmological Argument that argued "Some things have a cause & it is impossible for everything to have a cause so there must be at least one uncaused cause". I have never examined wither that argument is sound but it only serves to show without strawman arguments you would have virtually no arguments.

            So you think you understand the cosmological argument?
            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html

          • Ellabulldog

            Let's make this simpler. Leave out other philosophers.
            I don't make the argument you are claiming. Mines quite simple.

            The Cosmological Argument is that there is something that is eternal and uncaused and that thing is God.
            Correct?

            My argument is that there is something eternal and uncaused and that thing is Existence. The material world we can measure and interact with.

            To get to "God" one has to show that such a being is necessary. The Cosmological Argument does not do that.

            Law of Parsimony applies.

            It convinces theists because theists already believe in a god. That's my point about motivated reasoning and confirmation bias. If I can insert another word the argument fails.

            Others may insert matter/energy from which all else is derived from.

            Existence needs no cause. It's not god. I'm not a pantheist. It's all material.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Let's make this simpler. Leave out other philosophers.

            No deal. You will learn the relevant philosophy and learn the difference between Classical Theism vs Theistic Personalism or you will go away. I am not interested in arguing with you the existence of a "god" neither of us believes in. What could possibly be more boring than that?

            >The Cosmological Argument is....

            Which Cosmological Argument? The Kalam? Aquinas? leibniz? Do you even know the difference? They are not all equivalent and with the exception of the Kalam and or St Bonaventure none of them presuppose the Universe had a formal beginning. They argue why the universe exists here and now.

            >is that there is something that is eternal and uncaused and that thing is God.
            Correct?

            Not even close. But then again you refuse to learn and you claimed you are not here to convince me there is no God. So why are you here? Are you lonely? Friend someone on Facebook. I am the last person you want to friend being that I am unpleasant.

            >My argument is that there is something eternal and uncaused and that thing is Existence.

            So you ARE a Classic Theist then? Really if you are in anyway serious go read THE LAST SUPERSTITION. God is Existence Itself.

            >Existence needs no cause. It's not god. I'm not a pantheist. It's all material.

            Oh I forgot because you are ignorant of Philosophy by choice you are prone to commit fallacies of equivocation in regards to proper terms and definitions. Existence is not material. Existence is what is real. What you likely mean is Matter is all that exists. Even if Matter is all that exists. Existence is distinct from it not the same as it.
            So you are a materialist? Ok then you need to choose wither or not you believe in Reductionist Materialism vs Non-reductionalist versions. Then you need to deal with a host of philosophical defeaters for that view. Some from fellow Atheists like Nagel.

            But all of this requires you learn philosophy. Which you refuse to do.

            So as I said. UNCOMMON DESCENT is over there. They confess a version of Scientific Theism. You will have a blast raking them over the coals. But I won't care. Why should I care that you rip apart some silly false god?

            Cheers.

          • Mark

            So according to Ella reasoning I should just dismiss Ella's cognitive bias as bull$#!t? Maybe "don't know" = "don't know how to know"

          • Jim the Scott

            She is in many ways the Atheist equivalent of the religious Evangelist who doesn't have even the slightest idea how to argue rationally for the truths of religion appealing instead to his/her own positive subjectivist experience with religion.

            Like Mormons who ask you to pray for a "burning in the bosom". I don't discount the importance of personal religious experience or its validity in people's lives as I do in fact believe in God but such appeals don't move the intellect and I am a firm believer in Aquinas' dictum "Reason proceeds Faith. We must have reason to believe and motivation for belief".

            Woo for or against God will only take you so far...…..

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            You are right that the word "God" carries all sorts of connotations and associations that aren't necessarily conveyed by the expression "First Cause". Some of the notions associated with "God" claim the status of being logical deductions (such as the deduction that God is "immaterial"), some claim to be inferences to the best possible explanation (such as the idea that God is in some sense a "mind"), some are putative hermeneutic discoveries (such as the idea that God's logic was fully revealed in Jesus), and others are perhaps just sentimental nonsense (such as the idea that God saved my kittens from the coyotes).

            None of that should distract from the fact that "God" does fundamentally, definitionally, refer to the "First Cause". It's ultimately just two different references to the same referent, differing in connotation but not in denotation. This isn't just a matter of philosophical definition. It's also what is implied, poetically, by the very first sentence in Genesis (and in many other places in the Biblical literature).

            All the other stuff constitutes disagreements about God. That is all secondary to whether God exists. If you believe that the material universe is itself logically necessary, then you are a pantheist, but that still constitutes a belief in God (because you believe in something that is fundamentally logically necessary); If you believe that God has nothing to do with Biblical revelation, then you may be a pagan, but you may still believe in God (as Aristotle did, for example); if you don't believe that God "cares about us", then you may be a deist, but that's still belief in God. If you believe that something fundamentally logically necessary exists but that we can't say anything meaningful about it, then you are in some sense an iconoclast, but that's still belief in God. And so on.

            My point is simply that, for purposes of arguing about God's existence, it makes perfect sense to bracket all of those "secondary" issues, as philosophers have tended to do.

          • Ellabulldog

            I care about knowledge not beliefs.

            The semantics or rhetoric over what a god is or isn't to me is simply people wasting their time and mine. Which is what some people are doing bringing up ancient apologetic theology and trying to pass it off as philosophy.

            God is only a word that theists and wishful thinkers conflate with a "First Cause".

            An atheist likely would simply look for an explanation for our existence and not call matter/energy/laws of physics = God.

            If you get all of the wishful thinking and pandering to religious groups out of the discussion the First Cause argument still leads to no knowledge. It's a dead end.

            There need not be a "First Cause". Existence can be eternal.
            Just as a theist claims that "God" is eternal.

            If Existence can be eternal and a god is not necessary for Existence then just toss the word and the explanation called god into the garbage.

            The best an issue of causes leads to is a infinite amount of causes and never to a first uncaused cause.

            The argument defeats itself right in it's premise.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            There need not be a "First Cause". Existence can be eternal.

            Whether or not the universe is eternal has absolutely no bearing on whether there is a "First Cause". (In fact, Aquinas actually believed that the universe was eternal, which shows you how irrelevant that is to the argument).

            The semantics or rhetoric over what a god is or isn't to me is simply people wasting their time and mine.

            If you are not interested in semantics that's fine, but then you shouldn't kid yourself that you are offering serious critiques of others' ideas. You need to understand how words work before you can meaningfully critique an argument that uses those words.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "...Aquinas actually believed that the universe was eternal...."

            Well, no. As a Christian he accepted the dogma that the world had a temporal beginning, which was solemnly defined by the 4th Lateran Council in 1215. Since that was right before he was born, he was aware of the dogma.

            But you are absolutely correct about the relevant point here. St. Thomas maintained that, following reason alone, it was entirely possible that the world had no temporal beginning.

            That is why his proofs for God's existence do not depend on proving a beginning in time for the world. In fact, his Third Way argues with a premise assuming the endless duration of the world.

            So, you are still right and Ella is still dead wrong.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Oops, how embarrassing. Thanks for the correction.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Oh, don't be concerned. We are all material heretics from time to time. The ones that are in trouble are the formal, deliberate, stubborn ones. :)

          • Ellabulldog

            You came late to the argument.

            I'm not critiquing Jim's philosophy or anyone's. I'm dismissing them outright.
            It's up to the philosopher to convince me. I'm far from convinced. If Jim is convinced good for him.

            What I was doing was explaining why he is convinced. It's about why people believe not what they believe. He wants to stay in his safe zone which was what I was discussing.

            Next:

            Aquinas was wrong. This universe is not eternal. It's about 14 billion years old.

            Existence may be eternal. Semantics right?

            A First Cause is not necessary for something that has always existed and had no beginning. That's what I meant by eternal which is the standard definition.
            lasting or existing forever; without end or beginning. "per Google definition"

            Igtheism is a stance as well. The philosophical god is ill defined. The word is too vague. A First Cause might just be matter/energy. If someone equates the word god with the word universe or existence then it becomes meaningless.

            I'm atheist to the gods of men. I know they are fable and not real. Such knowledge is attainable.
            As others have likely told you that you don't believe in a whole lot of gods too. Right?
            Religion is cultural. Gods come from our imaginations. Pascal Boyer is one reference.

            Why people believe Xeno, Zeus or Ra existed matters to me. We can understand why people believe things and how such beliefs play a role in human societies. We do need to understand how such things have evolved and what will happen when such beliefs no longer have a major role in society.

            How the human mind forms beliefs extends beyond religions and gods. We can learn why people vote conservative or liberal. We can understand why people follow tyrants and evil authoritarian leaders. We can understand why people follow a sports team or why they will die for their country.

            It matters because critical thinking matters. We have to be more skeptical and less trusting.

            Trust is innate. It was necessary for humans to survive. In larger societies trust given too easily can lead to very poor outcomes. In a small tribe a poor leader could be outcast. In modern society it is much harder to combat their power once they have it.

            Religion is what allowed leaders to rule once a tribe grew too large. Once in power they used "God" to stay in power. Divine right and all.

            It worked for thousands of years. Today theocratic states struggle to compete with nations that offer more freedom of thought.

            Gods are not philosophical. They are human constructs and can be studied for what they were and what they are. There is knowledge about them. Ignoring that knowledge is a result of Jim's dissonance leading him to ignore many things and only concentrate on things that favor his emotionally held belief. Calling it rational is misleading. It does not reside in the cerebral cortex but is found in the amygdala.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I'm not critiquing Jim's philosophy or anyone's. I'm dismissing them outright.

            If you are dismissing it outright, why say anything at all? Most religious people will leave you alone as long as you don't call them idiots. However, if you refer to someone's ideas as idiotic, you should be prepared to offer an intelligent critique of those ideas.

            Aquinas was wrong. This universe is not eternal.

            Actually, my apologies: I was wrong on that point, see Dennis Bonnette's comment. I almost fact-checked my memory ... but didn't. What I should have said is that Aquinas did not believe that the temporal finitude of the universe could be known by reason, and that it was irrelevant in any case with respect to proving the existence of a First Cause.

            A First Cause is not necessary for something that has always existed and had no beginning.

            No, that's the misunderstanding that I'm trying to explain, and this is the point that Carrier seems to miss as well. A "First Cause" need not be "first" in a temporal sense; the idea is that it is first in a logical sense, i.e. it is absolutely, fundamentally, logically necessary. If something is eternal but only "happenstantially eternal", then it is still logically contingent and you need a First Cause to explain it ; The need for a First Cause only goes away if you are trying to explain the existence of something that is itself absolutely, fundamentallly, logically necessary ... but in that case the thing would itself be the first cause.
            You raised several other points in your response and I'm going to address those in separate threads so that we can do justice to each point.

          • Ellabulldog

            Really you are assuming that temporal or logical matter. It's just a gimmick.

            The definition of eternal says no cause necessary. Was the definition different 800 years ago?

            Aquinas contradicts himself if he says the universe is eternal.

            If he says it can't be known by reason then he can't reason his way to saying a god is eternal and created the universe and thus defeats his own argument.

            You then just agreed with me and showed how Aquinas's argument is flawed from the get go.

            The need for a First Cause only goes away if you are trying to explain the existence of something that is itself absolutely, fundamentallly, logically necessary ... but in that case the thing would itself be the first cause.

            Existence "Universe" needs no cause. It is and always has been.

            No god necessary.

            Simplest solution is the most likely. Why invent a god to create something that needs no creator?

            So then we go away from philosophy to explain why humans do so.

            We know why humans invent gods. That is psychology/cognitive science not philosophy.

            Of course some can write pages and pages of excuses of philosophy to explain away such an apparent flaw. Which goes back again to my argument using cognitive science about why humans ignore the flaws in their argument when it wrecks their strongly held emotional belief.
            It's all motivated reasoning and confirmation bias disguised as philosophy that is intended to ease the dissonance caused in the human mind.

            It's why very smart people can believe things that they would normally not and it is how they can compartmentalize such beliefs.

            Which is what I was addressing with Jim. He only reads and agrees with philosophers that support his belief. He ignores every other discipline and every philosopher that disagrees with his belief. He calls current science and knowledge woo yet favors ancient philosophical supernatural woo and is quite indignant that he is so smart when doing so. It's all a show to fool himself.

            This site is an an example of confirmation bias yet it also allows atheists to comment. So I give the commenters here accolades for being open to at least hearing things that they do not agree with. Other sites ban immediately because their minds can't handle any information that conflicts with their beliefs.

            We are all influenced by it. So we have to be aware of it.

            There are reasons people cling to their faith outside of reason. Sunk costs. Cultural norms. Innate tendency to stay within a comfort zone. All cognitive science.

            Which is really my point to Jim that he really doesn't want to hear.

            There are many brilliant people that hold religious beliefs. It is an emotional belief not a rational belief. It's innate to the human mind to be superstitious and religion is an evolutionary human cultural invention.

            So when this site asks people why they don't believe they should listen to the answers and not dismiss them if knowledge is what one seeks. There are reasons people don't believe just as there are reasons why people do believe.

            I care about why people believe what they do. Whether that belief is Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Shinto, Scientology, Voodoo, Paganism, or any other supernatural belief.

            How our minds work can show why people are Conservative or Liberal. Then show us why people follow authoritarian leaders.

            Why do people believe in memes that are not true? Because they want them to be true.

            All about how our minds work.

            Religion and gods are just one part of it.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Awrighty. If you think I'm pushing gimmicks on you then we're not doing each other any favors by continuing and I will leave you be. Thanks for the exchange.

          • Ellabulldog

            no problem.

            see my recent simplified answers to the others. such arguments get way off track when the problem with the cosmological argument is simple.

            many times arguments become more about how to argue. or they become about deflecting from the original premise. first cause or every effect has a cause or

            that's what I meant by gimmicks.

            First Cause = God = Existence = Matter/Energy.

            Matter/Energy exist. We can not create or destroy it.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            In equating God with Existence itself, I think you are ironically pretty close to Aquinas's definition of God as ipsum esse subsistens . ("To be God is to be 'to be'", as modern exegetes of Aquinas sometimes put it.) However, to equate existence itself with matter / energy is something else entirely. For one thing, our best current physics seems to suggest that it's not quite true that matter / energy can be neither created nor destroyed, as you can learn in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHdI4Let27I. As is also suggested in that video, it seems most reasonable to hold that something, call it logic itself if you like, is more fundamental than matter / energy.

          • Ellabulldog

            We use logic, reason , or things like math or the laws of physics to describe how things work and to better understand our world. Such things expand our knowledge and understanding but are not why our world works the way it does.

            Quantum mechanics is our latest advancement in physics. Every so often a polymath comes along and we innovate or expand our knowledge.

            A Universe From Nothing is popular today.
            Now what they call nothing isn't really nothing.

            So when someone looks at a bible they are looking at what some thought thousands of years ago about how this all happened.
            Today we read Krauss.
            In a thousand years we'll have a more complete understanding. Hopefully sooner. Yet we might not ever have total understanding because we have limits. Even our geniuses have limitations. Might we one day build a computer that can move us beyond our human limitations? Possibly.

            I watched a movie about the Hubble telescope and it filled me with awe. I left thinking how insignificant we are. I understand that such a thought is difficult for humans to deal with. How we cope with why we exist is a big part of what this is really all about.

            Why do we exist instead of nothing?

            It is a question we will never be able to answer.

            Why is a human term.

            Humans can't deal with that so they make up answers. We don't like being insignificant.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Why do we exist instead of nothing?It is a question we will never be able to answer.

            We don't have to answer it, and proofs of the existence of God don't pretend to answer it. The point is that even to just ask the question is to acknowledge our contingency, and contingency itself is incoherent without reference to logical necessity. Something is logically necessary, and it's not us, and it's not matter / energy. That something we call "God".

            "God" is not an explanation; "God" is a name for a mystery.

          • Ellabulldog

            Really?

            So these proofs are not pretending to answer it? I would have to disagree. The authors and those that agree with this philosophy certainly consider these proofs an answer to their questions. They quite insist on it.

            "God" for thousands of years is a word that is inserted to explain what we don't know. The same is happening here. Putting it in philosophical form doesn't change what is really happening.

            We have quite a bit of knowledge up to Plank time about our environment.

            Anything prior we do not. 43 whole seconds is where we get stuck. Not bad for science.

            Philosophy can't help. It might ask the questions. It can't provide the answers.

            Science might not figure it out either. It did great lately. Now it's stuck at Plank time. When it gets past that it will have to then figure out what came prior...

            So we simply don't know.

            Yes it is a mystery.

            Those selling an answer are lying or repeating the lies of others.

            It's honest to say "I don't know".

            When someone claims knowledge and insists others accept their assertion they have to back it up.

            Logic tells us that we can't know the answer based on our limited abilities.

            We can't think ourselves to solving it. Because we live in this universe and this timeline.

            What came prior to the singularity is beyond our timeline. We can't access it.

            We can guess and extrapolate formulas by taking what we know and come up with theories about what might have come before.

            Yet knowledge is not likely.

            A lack of knowledge is "God" by your definition above. Or a mystery.

            The word "God" fills that gap.

            We do not have to answer it. It should not be about the answer but about the search for knowledge. Not trying means we give up.

            What we gain from seeking knowledge is helpful to humanity.
            Looking beyond got us across oceans and to the moon. Today we can actually see things billions of light years away.
            We didn't have to go to the moon. Yet the exercise brought us things like Velcro and other inventions making life on Earth better. Relativity brought us knowledge like GPS.

            We should always search for knowledge. Some don't like the answers that we find because they made an emotional attachment to an answer that is invalid. Others have a bias and won't search for the truth. Some have financial or other reasons to hold on to a invalid answer. Many humans will take a answer that is false over no answer at all. That is human nature.

            But yes I just like you wonder how this all came to be.

            Yet day to day there are other pressing concerns like global warming and wars.

            Which cognitive science can also give us insight into and knowledge.

            It's not just about religion. It is so much more.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Igtheism is a stance as well.

            Yes, absolutely. As I (obliquely) suggested earlier, igtheism can be closely correlated with the spirit of iconoclasm (and the related tradition of not even pronouncing YHWH, presumably arising from a sense that even to do that would cheapen an infinite mystery). Indeed, the commandment not to have false idols is the very first commandment, so those of us who worship the God of the Bible should find significant common ground with igtheists.

            A First Cause might just be matter/energy.

            That's a reasonable position, but I think it is incorrect. I can conceive of matter / energy not existing (even if I cannot imagine it). And, since I don't think I am capable of conceiving of logically impossible states of affairs, it follows that matter / energy is not logically necessary, and therefore that it cannot be the First Cause.
            Whether you accept that argument or not, I hope it at least hints at why it might be possible to make some justifiable statements about the First Cause, i.e. I hope it suggests why total igtheism / iconoclasm is perhaps too extreme a position. I would argue that a much more reasonable middle ground is found in the Biblical tradition of referring to God as a "mystery". In that context, the word "mystery" is meant to suggest something that is partially, but not totally, revealed. Each person is a mystery in that sense, because each person reveals some things about himself or herself, but not everything. God is a mystery in the same sense. We shouldn't claim to know too much, but neither should we claim to know nothing at all.

          • Ellabulldog

            I can't conceive that matter and energy no longer existing as that would mean nothing would exist.

            Matter/energy is necessary for everything. Without it nothing exists. It is from which everything else comes. Now if you want to call Matter/Energy a god that just confuses the issue. As I argue with pantheist friends that call the Universe "God" when they should just say the universe.

            A god is not necessary. Easy to conceive that something that doesn't exist doesn't exist. We have no knowledge of a god nor any reason to think one is necessary.

            Now what you are saying is that you can't conceive of a world without God. Cognitive Science can explain why that is. It can explain why I can. You might not like the explanation. That I can't help.

            We have knowledge of why humans invent gods. That's what I was talking to the other Jim about. He wants to stick to his philosophy and ignore everything else.

            I'm atheist towards the gods of men. They do not exist in reality. That includes the god of the Bible. It's not a belief it is knowledge.

            I am igtheist when a god is not defined.

            I am agnostic to the question of how Existence came to be.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            As others have likely told you that you don't believe in a whole lot of gods too. Right?

            Sure. My response is that, insofar as (for example) Zeus and Odin are vaguely suggestive of an all powerful creator god, I do believe in Zeus and Odin. Or rather, I believe in the Referent that is vaguely, obliquely, imperfectly evoked by those myths. Our intellectual forebears seem to have been willing to make that same identification, as suggested by the linguistic continuities Zeus Deus Dios and Odin Woden Goden God.

            Similarly, I would not hesitate to say that I believe in Brahma as articulated in Vedanta, because in that context Brahma is clearly the infinite source of being, consciousness and bliss, which is the same infinite source that I am talking about when I say the word "God". Nor would I hesitate to say that I believe in Allah as articulated (for example) by Ibn Rushd, for similar reasons.

            The Biblical authors themselves clearly were willing to make similar identifications between pre-existing traditions, which is how we end up with a God who is "YHWH" while also being Elohim / El.

            In summary, my response to that accusation that I don't believe in all those other gods is: "Depending on which one you are talking about (Odin but not Thor and Brahma but not Ganesh, for example), I basically do believe in those other gods, because they are in some sense the same one true God that I have come to know through the Biblical tradition."

          • Jim the Scott

            The real question is can Carrier refute Feser? The short answer is no the guy is completely clueless. For example:

            >A quick and dirty way to phrase this argument is: change is real; change requires some fundamental underlying substrate, an ultimate “causy thing,” that makes change possible; ergo, that has to be God.

            This is as bad as a Young Earth Creationist saying to Richard Dawkins the Second Law of Thermal Dynamics refutes evolution and it is twice as silly. Or Monkeys don't give birth to humans or whatever.....

            Anyway Feser shows the difference between a professional Philosophy vs a scrub in his response to Carrier. In case it is not clear to you Ella Carrier is the scrub.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/02/carrier-on-five-proofs.html

            Here is an additional response. Ouch!

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/03/carrier-carries-on.html

            As for my own "quick and dirty response". Nobody has argued "change required some fundamental underlying substrate" rather that in an essential causal series of potencies being made actual such a series must terminate in a First Cause which is pure act.

            If he wanted a simple explanation of the first way he could have read this instead of making up his own nonsense.

            https://rocketphilosophy.blogspot.com/2011/07/aquinas-first-way.html

            Nice try Ella and nice epic fail.

            PS can't you read an accomplished Atheist like Graham Oppy? I don't go around citing Kirk Cameron for my religious apologetics. I have some pride......you citing the Atheist equivalent is not a good look my dear.

            Carrier can't tell the difference between the First Way vs the Kalam. Sad....

          • Mark

            @Jimthescott:disqus In regards to the link you gave, I remember Feser in his book used hierarchical causes for the relationships rather than a temporal. But still Carrier never even mentions this.

          • Jim the Scott

            Indeed Feser devotes a significant amount of pages pointing out Aquinas and most versions of the Cosmological Argument presuppose for arguments sake a past eternal universe. Aquinas didn't believe you could scientifically or philosophically prove creation had a formal beginning. He thought only divine revelation could tell us that.

            With the Kalam and St Bonaventure's argument against an infinite past being the sole exceptions all Cosmological arguments presuppose the world always existed. All traditional Thomists reject both these arguments. Thought Feser professes to be agnostic toward the Kalam and Oderberg is the only Thomist or Essentialist I know of who defends the Kalam.

            Carrier is just recycling his anti-ID polemics hoping it sticks. Weak sauce.

      • michael

        I doubt many atheists believe the Universe always existed. They just attribute it's creation to something other than a deity, some unknown mysterious force. Richard Dawkins was asked what created the world, he answered "We don't know. Nobody knows." He didn't say "Nothing. it was always there".

    • Mark

      From your Blog Gary:

      If your faith is more important to you than knowing the truth,

      read one more sentence of this blog or that of any other ex-Christian
      blog. But if the truth—the real truth no matter how cold, ugly, and
      painful it may be—matters more to you than the comfort and security of
      your faith, step out of the Christian “bubble” and explore the
      criticisms of your Christian belief system.

      If you want to be critical of faith, It might be important to note there is a standard Catholics use of the term and it comes from St. Augustine. It is not how atheist sometimes use it. We use the term "faith" in the same way that NT writers used, ancient Latin and Greek philosophy used it, and how St. John Paul II uses it in Fides et Ratio. That is simply, "believing something on the word of a witness". You can welcome a witness' testimony or dismiss it. It isn't rational, however, to dismiss faith. How you arrive at most truths (the real truth as you say) is based upon faith. You've never seen Antarctica, you don't remember being born where your parents said you were, you haven't perfomed a DNA test of your father to determine if he is biologically your dad. Most of what you "know" as truth, as St Augustine points out and modern contemporary epistemologist would agree, are matters of faith because they rely on the say-so of others. This is the Catholic standard and how you use the term faith. It is not contrary to reason, it is not contrary to knowledge, it is necessary for humanness. Too criticize it's importance is untenable. To set it up as a false dichotomy against knowledge is somewhat preposterous if you'd agree to certain presuppositions about reality.

      • Gary M

        You are absolutely correct, Mark. When a skeptic and a Christian debate the truth claims of Christianity, it is very important to define terms beforehand. I have found that different Christians have different definitions of faith.

        Your definition of faith is: "believing something on the word of a witness"

        Please provide the eyewitness testimony that confirms your belief that the first century peasant, Jesus of Nazareth, is the Creator of the universe.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          This is the third time you have used the same comic book theology smarty question to mock Christian belief that Christ is God incarnate.

          It presupposes understanding of the Hypostatic Union, which I am still waiting for you to explain in terms that show you know what you are talking about.

          Besides, I have answered this challenge elsewhere by postulating a way to prove the truth that Christ is God without even needing "eyewitness testimony" from the first century A.D.

        • Mark

          Please provide the eyewitness testimony that confirms an apple that fell in Woolsthorpe Manor's orchard caused the theory of universal gravitation.

          Two can play that sophist's game. It's beneath those who truly "love truth" even if neither gravity nor gods exist.

      • Dennis Bonnette

        Thank you for the excellent reminder that everyone, including skeptics and atheists, use faith all the time in their everyday lives and also in their most intense scientific claims about the world.

        It is often maintained by scientific materialists that their claims about the cosmos have more value than anyone else's because they are built on a body of knowledge that is experimentally verifiable. Grand claims are made about the world, ranging from statements about how the physiology of sensation works to the most universal theories of the universe, such as those made in quantum mechanics.

        Yet, it is almost universally forgotten that all of this is based on faith.

        Saying that science is based on experimental evidence, or on that which can, in principle, be experimentally verified. misses the elephant in the room -- the simple fact that all such scientific knowledge is based on faith, meaning the words of witnesses.

        No single scientist has done all the experiments behind the entire body of universal scientific knowledge. He necessarily depends upon the witness of all the other scientists who have done experiments and reported their findings down through history. They are witnesses and he has faith in their words.

        Worse yet, even in doing his own experiments, every researcher is trusting the reliability of the instruments he uses -- usually as assured by the witnesses who sent it from the factory. In fact, unless he recalibrates every instrument every time he uses it, he depends on the calibration, if any, done by some other previous user, including his less trained lab assistants!

        Bottom line: it is the world's biggest fantasy to think that the scientific world avoids the weaknesses of theology or revelation because it totally avoids the role of faith, meaning trusting the witness of others, in the establishment of its body of scientific knowledge.

        I am not saying we should not trust science generally. But it does give one pause for thought when you hear that many scientific papers making study claims turn out to produce results that cannot be replicated by other scientists using the same study claims.

        At any rate, the belief that natural science is somehow free from the reliance on witness testimony and a faith reliance on that testimony is, on more careful reflection, seen to be something of a chimera.

        It turns out that all men are in the same boat, using their senses and reason as best they can, and trusting the information given them by other human beings. No one escapes reliance on faith in the witness testimony of his fellow human beings.

        • Ellabulldog

          trust is necessary for humans to thrive because we are a social animal.

          faith is not the same as trust. faith is blind belief.
          trust is earned and can be tested. faith can not.

          we trust our doctors. they are not infallible.

          we trust based on results.

          Boeing put out a plane that killed hundreds. Yet over time they have made many planes that have gotten billions to their destinations safely. I don't have faith that a plane is safe I base my use of an airline on their safety record. It's about confidence based on results.

          It's no guarantee certainly. Not everyone that gets on a plane lives. It's about probability.

          A big problem with humans and trust is that some can manipulate that and use that to con us.

          We should not trust blindly because that leads to terrible consequences for us.

          We have learned that we need to put in place institutions to make sure that our food is safe, our roads are safe, that our planes are safe.

          Faith isn't trust. We can't evaluate what we place our faith in.

          Skepticism is a good thing. Critical thinking is a trait we need to teach.

          Psychologically some trust authority more than others. That is nature and nurture.

          That trait can be used to send millions to war. Sometimes to stop evil. Other times for evil intent.

          I can know Trump is lying. I can prove Trump is lying and is a liar. I can't make someone believe me if their mind trusts authority blindly. It's millions of years of human cognitive evolution. It won't be changed overnight.

          Politics and religion are similar. At one time and still in many places they are the same.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            So, the views of those who are convinced of the truth of divine revelation and its rational foundations are to be understood as based solely on blind faith?

            Whereas, the skepticism of naturalists and those whose entire world view is restricted primarily to what natural scientists presently maintain about the physical world is to be depicted as based solely on the "respectable" form of faith called "trust?"

          • BTS

            This line of thinking again strikes me as binary. You have a habit of dividing people into only two camps.

            What about those who are neither naturalists nor committed believers devoted to faith?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Anyone familiar with the history of human thought knows well that a wide variety of positions have been held regarding ultimate explanations of reality -- both epistemologically and ontologically.

            But the fact is that today the large divisions are between those skeptics, agnostics, and atheists, who seem focused primarily on what natural science tells them about the world -- and, on the other hand, believers is the classical understanding of God -- some of whom follow a fideistic emphasis on faith alone, and others, like Catholics, who insist on the harmony of faith and reason, with unaided natural reason providing the rational foundations for Christian belief, such as the natural knowledge of God's existence.

            So, while I am well aware of the complexity of present thought about God and atheism, it still remains true that many take natural science as the "bible" of their understanding of the world, while others recognize the value of natural science, but also follow other rational disciplines as the foundation for their religious commitments.

          • BTS

            Fair enough, but I think you're leaving out a gigantic portion of folks in the middle who are seeing faith chipped away by reason, a huge swath of intelligent humans who are - I think, rightly - refusing to believe things merely because old white men have always said so.

            while others recognize the value of natural science, but also follow other rational disciplines as the foundation for their religious commitments.

            I'm fine with this approach, except when the natural sciences conflict with a faith belief thereby forcing believers to make arguments from contortion. (BTW I get the credit for coining that phrase if it catches on).

            I think human reason needs tools beyond the mind to discover truth. Science is the best tool. I'm not precluding other ways of learning, but science must be used to rule out the bad ideas and I think humans as a species are doing a terrible job of weeding out the bad ideas these days, and an even worse job of championing the good ideas.

            Finally...humans are doing a colossally catastrophic job of deciding which ideas upon which to reserve judgment and wait for further information. What gets me ruffled is all the dogmatic certainty being tossed around when if humanity has learned nothing it's that humanity is often wrong.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "I think human reason needs tools beyond the mind to discover truth. Science is the best tool. "

            You don't seem to realize the extent to which you have just confirmed what I said above when I referred to those "who seem focused primarily on what natural science tells them about the world."

            This insistence on using natural science as the ultimate trump card for finding truth is itself an epistemological commitment that science cannot demonstrate without assuming what it tries to prove, what we call, begging the question.

            What you are missing is that natural science itself presupposes a number of philosophical propositions which it cannot demonstrate precisely because they are presuppositions of science. For example, that there is a physical world "out there," that we can generally trust our senses to know it, that scientific statements cannot contradict each other, that observable phenomena require explanations, and that if your lab experiment explodes there has to be a reason why it did!

            This is why when you say the mind needs tools beyond itself and science is the best tool you are, in fact, contradicting your own starting point for knowing the world.

            Like it or not, we all have philosophical starting points -- even before science -- in our investigation of reality. It is a straw man to talk about believing things "merely because old white men have always said so."

            We all have to use natural reason -- not human authority -- to begin to understand the world. These tools of reason belong to philosophy before you ever get to natural science.

            I respectfully submit that I have outlined how such a rational investigation of reality can be successfully carried out on prior articles I have had published on this web site.

            For example, see this one: https://strangenotions.com/are-metaphysical-first-principles-universally-true/

          • BTS

            I think because you have this argument so many times with so many people, you are jumping the gun on your response to me.

            Perhaps our disagreement is one of degree. You see philosophy as being able to discern some things without aid. I think philosophy can get us most of the way there, but not all the way. At some point science needs to step in and take a flamethrower to the philosophy and see what is left standing. Anything that is left standing may be actually a good idea or "true as best we can tell."

            This insistence on using natural science as the ultimate trump card for finding truth is itself an epistemological commitment that science cannot demonstrate without assuming what it tries to prove, what we call, begging the question.

            The above is NOT what I am saying at all.

            I am saying that science is the best tool to keep reason in check. Geez, think of all the crazy ideas exhibited by philosophers through history. So many crazy ideas. And then... think about the history of vaccinating people. At first, some crazy scientist with a knife wanted to cut (larger than needed - ouch!) holes in children's arms and infect them with cowpox. What a terrible idea! (thought the villagers) Except, er, not. Turns out it was a great idea once refined, although some children did die needlessly from knife-induced bacterial infections.

            This is why when you say the mind needs tools beyond itself and science is the best tool you are, in fact, contradicting your own starting point for knowing the world.

            Science is the best tool to stop us from believing bad ideas that philosophers (or scientists, or anyone) think up. Think Book three of Gulliver's Travels where Swift is lampooning the royal society. I would also put a literal Adam and Eve in the category of bad ideas. Science is going to stick a knife in that one, eventually.

            We all have to use natural reason -- not human authority -- to begin to understand the world. These tools of reason belong to philosophy before you ever get to natural science.

            However you want to slice it, bad ideas need to be weeded out. You cannot do that with only reason and philosophy. A good example is string theory - it's an idea that's stuck in neutral until either
            a) someone designs a test we can actually do
            b) technology catches up to the point where we can do test we currently want to do but cannot

            Until then we have to wait and reserve judgment.

            Does Brian Greene (the scientist) talk dogmatically about string theory? Heck no, because he knows he may be wrong.

            Edit:
            Last word to you, because much smarter people than I have had this discussion with you...I don't want to wear either one of us out rehashing this today....maybe some other day.
            :)

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You are quite right. Science should be used like a flame thrower -- against empirically-testable contentious scientific theories.

            What you don't seem to realize is that most of those "crazy ideas exhibited by philosophers through history" really belonged to the philosophy of nature, whose subdivisions included what today we call scientific questions. For example, Aristotle wrote books that today would be dealing with animal anatomy, astronomy, psychiatry, and other issues that belong to the empirical-experimental sciences.

            But what natural science cannot settle is properly philosophical questions, which you don't seem to realize are simply outside the epistemic competence of experimental science.

            For example, why does anything exist at all, how do we know the first principles of being, why do we know that phenomena have explanations at all, is there a strictly immaterial human life principle, how is it possible to have sense experience of the external world (if we don't say goodbye to science itself), why are we so sure that contradictions are impossible? You may think that some of these can be handled by science, but it does not take long for critical reflection to show that is a false assumption.

            In a word, I don't think you grasp the critical distinction between natural science and philosophy -- a distinction which is such that philosophical questions simply cannot be decided by natural science without the "scientist" inadvertently turning himself into a philosopher.

          • BTS

            I promised you the last word so you can have it after this reply. Just two things:

            1) You're fond of telling me what I don't grasp, don't realize, etc. I'm actually not as dumb as you think! I just disagree there there is such a clearly demarcated line between natural science and philosophy.

            But what natural science cannot settle...

            I would add, in many cases but certainly not all, the word "yet" to the end of your above sentence.

            2) I see the issue differently. I think some big philosophy questions that start with WHY grow up to be science questions asking HOW. Krauss and Baggini discuss this in the brief article linked below. Both make good points, and the issue is not settled, I would say.

            https://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/sep/09/science-philosophy-debate-julian-baggini-lawrence-krauss

            I am now inserting a large balled-up tube sock in my my mouth, and even if you hurl dastardly insults at my mother, I'll still give you the last word.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I shall try not to take ungentlemanly advantage of your courteous termination of our discussion.

            But I must point out that the two protagonists taking part in that debate to which you link do not really disagree on the most basic philosophical issue:

            "You and I agree fundamentally that physical reality is all there is, but we merely have different levels of optimism about how effectively and how completely we can understand it via the methods of science." (Baggini)

            Both are philosophical materialists -- which is the typical position of the natural scientists doing the most talking about philosophical matters.

            What is missed is that the claim that "to be is to be material" is a blatantly philosophical claim.

            Nor is it a claim that can be empirically verified, since, by definition, any non-material entities are not empirically verifiable.

            The only way to determine whether non-material entities exist is to do what philosophers have forever done with them, that is, use rational arguments to prove or disprove their existence.

            That is to say, to do philosophy -- since the fundamental question about spiritual entities is totally outside the competence of the discipline of natural science.

            As to your mother, I am certain she is a wonderful person.

  • Gary M

    Dr. Bonnette: Do you believe that the resurrected Jesus dwells within you?

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Aside from this being a theological question, you fail to define the several terms whose meaning is presumed. And I don't need to respond to what you seem to think is a theological trap for Christians in order to know that God must exist, whether Christianity is true or not.

      I am not the least bit worried about the theology here, provided you actually know the defined doctrines you appear to be questioning. That is why you need to define the exact meanings of the terms you propose.

      Do you really believe that you have found some sort of theological contradiction in terms that has not be sorted out successfully by two thousand years of Christian theologians?

      • Gary M

        John 14:20: "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you."

        This is Jesus speaking. Do you, Dr. Bonnette, believe that the resurrected Jesus is "in you"?

        • Dennis Bonnette

          I am not a Protestant. I know that Scripture has many levels of meaning. The Bible is the Church's book, not the reverse. Thus Catholic tradition and its Magisterium is the surest guide to the meaning of Scripture. She knows that texts have meanings that are literal, analogical, metaphorical, and so forth.

          This particular text may simply mean that we are spiritually united, just as when I say of a brother that I am with him in spirit. Whatever meanings are found in the text, they do not entail anything absurd or self-contradictory, which would be a sure sign of an erroneous reading.

          • Gary M

            Yes, I realize that for Catholics, the Magisterium has the last say regarding the interpretation of Christian scripture. I'm curious about this passage:

            "It is that very Spirit bearing witness[a] with our spirit that we are children of God,"

            Does the spirit of Jesus "bear witness" to you, Dr. Bonnette, that you are a child of God? If so, in what way?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Again, I am not saying that a proper interpretation of this is impossible or not easily had. But one must recall that the Church existed for several decades after Christ's death and ascension before the first words of the New Testament were penned by St. Paul. So, we do not depend on private interpretation of texts like these for our practice of the Christian life. It may simply mean that leading good Christian lives manifest the grace of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

            But I must remind you that I make no claim to be a theologian. You should ask a well-educated priest or real theologian. One need not be a scripture scholar to follow the teaching of Christ through his Church or to save one's immortal soul.

          • Gary M

            Just to be clear: God in no way "testifies" to you personally, through any of your five senses, that his spirit dwells within you?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            ASSUMING I understand you clearly, NO, I have never heard the "voice of God" through my sense of hearing, nor had any personal visions or anything of the sort in my entire life. I run into a lot of Christians, mostly Evangelicals, who keep telling me that God has spoken to them in this way or that, but that is NOT my experience. What I know of Catholicism comes strictly through education using my senses to read and hear the word of others as well as using my own powers of reason on such materials. Moreover, of course, as a philosopher I use my natural reason starting with the evidence of my senses relating the reality of the world around us.

          • Gary M

            Excellent, so unlike evangelical Christians, you do not perceive God (Jesus Christ) within you. You would never use your personal perceptions or subjective personal experiences as evidence for the existence of the resurrected Jesus.

            So as a Catholic Christian, why do you place your trust (faith) in the testimony of fallible human beings (the Magisterium) regarding alleged fantastical historical events such as the bodily resurrection of a first century corpse?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You are trying to get me to do theology here, when my professional role is that of a philosopher.

            Obviously, if I do not have the kind of direct personal experience of revelation such as St. Paul relates, then it must be that I am using my reason on the evidence my senses give me about the world.

            This does not preclude accepting the word of others who have had direct experience of the historical facts of divine revelation, including miraculous events.

            I have no intention of arguing all this out with you here, since this site is busy enough dealing with the epistemological and metaphysical errors of atheism.

            Nor do you win the day merely by casting your skepticism in terms that scoff at revelation.

            My primary role here is dealing with the preambula fidei, that is, the rational preambles to faith -- which Catholics rightly address before examining the rest of the content of apologetics. Among such matters would be the defense of epistemological realism and metaphysical first principles, the proofs for the existence and nature of God, the proofs for the spirituality and immortality of the human soul, and the natural law basis for the science of ethics.

            If you really wish to see how I would develop some of these topics, you can read my twenty-seven philosophical articles on this Strange Notions site or go to drbonnette.com, where they are all also posted together under the Strange Notions heading.

            Skeptics constantly underestimate the power and wisdom of the Catholic intellectual tradition.

          • Gary M

            My primary role here is dealing with the preambula fidei, that is, the rational preambles to faith -- which Catholics rightly address before examining the rest of the content of apologetics.

            But isn't it fair for readers to question your critical thinking skills when you are willing to accept as historical fact the resurrection of a brain dead first century corpse solely upon alleged eyewitness testimony??

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You are making HUGE assumptions about the process of reasoning that leads me to affirm the truth of the Catholic Faith.

            I do not give this as my actual line of reasoning which is actually based on multiple diverse lines of reasoning. But, what if I encountered a single miraculous event which evinced unquestionable authenticity and was clearly intelligible solely in terms of the truth of Catholicism? Would that single line of reasoning alone not be sufficient reason to believe all the truths that Catholicism entails, including the Resurrection?

            Now don't tell my that you are certain that no such case is possible, since that itself would be a very daunting demonstration of a negative.

            But remember, I said "WHAT IF." And note, please, that this kind of evidence entails no direct eyewitness testimony of the Resurrection itself. We would not even need it.

          • Gary M

            Yes, if the resurrected Jesus suddenly appeared to me out of the blue, let me poke my finger into his wounds, walked through a locked door, and then levitated into the clouds in front of my very eyes, I would probably believe. But short of that, I would not.

            Have you had such an experience, Dr. Bonnette?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You totally ignored the logic of my reply to you.

          • Gary M

            "But, what if you encountered a single miraculous event which evinced unquestionable authenticity and was clearly intelligible solely in terms of the truth of Catholicism? Would that single line of reasoning alone not be sufficient reason to believe all the truths that Catholicism entails, including the Resurrection?"

            I answered your question. If I see and touch the resurrected Jesus that would be enough evidence to believe in the RESURRECTION. That is not enough evidence to believe that everything the Catholic Church teaches is true. Just because one claim of one Christian denomination is true does not make all its claims true.

            Now, has the resurrected Jesus appeared to you or performed a miracle for you, Dr. Bonnette?

          • Gary M

            Until you can explain how you came to believe in a first century corpse reanimation (resurrection), no reader of this blog should take your philosophical arguments seriously. I suspect your philosophical arguments are not based primarily on principles of logic, but on wishing thinking ("faith").

          • Rob Abney

            Gary, as a reconstructing protestant have you ever considered other ways to know God other than the bible and the holy spirit, such as natural knowledge of God?

            Book of Wisdom
            13 Anyone who does not know God is simply foolish. Such people look at the good things around them and still fail to see the living God. They have studied the things he made, but they have not recognized the one who made them. 2 Instead, they suppose that the gods who rule the world are fire or wind or storm or the circling stars or rushing water or the heavenly bodies. 3 People were so delighted with the beauty of these things that they thought they must be gods, but they should have realized that these things have a master and that he is much greater than all of them, for he is the creator of beauty, and he created them. 4 Since people are amazed at the power of these things, and how they behave, they ought to learn from them that their maker is far more powerful. 5 When we realize how vast and beautiful the creation is, we are learning about the Creator at the same time.

            6 But maybe we are too harsh with these people. After all, they may have really wanted to find God, but couldn't. 7 Surrounded by God's works, they keep on looking at them, until they are finally convinced that because the things they see are so beautiful, they must be gods. 8 But still, these people really have no excuse. 9 If they had enough intelligence to speculate about the nature of the universe, why did they never find the Lord of all things?

          • Gary M

            I am not questioning the existence of a Creator God. I believe that there is sufficient evidence for a rational person to believe in intelligent design.

            What I am questioning is the critical thinking skills of anyone who believes that a brain-dead first century corpse came back to life and is currently Lord and Master of the Cosmos---based on nothing more than alleged first century eyewitness testimony. Such belief, in my opinion, demonstrates a lack of critical thinking skills.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            What you are enunciating is an anti-Christian bias that would disenfranchise the critical thinking skills of many of the world's greatest thinkers of all ages.

            It is one thing to say, as many on this site have said, that you personally find the evidence for Christian belief unconvincing. But it is quite another thing to claim that your knowledge of the evidence is so omniscient that anyone who disagrees with you must be lacking in critical thinking skills.

            You yourself do not even appear to understand the example I gave you:

            "But, what if you encountered a single miraculous event which evinced unquestionable authenticity and was clearly intelligible solely in terms of the truth of Catholicism? Would that single line of reasoning alone not be sufficient reason to believe all the truths that Catholicism entails, including the Resurrection?"

            You countered by saying that even a personal encounter by you with the risen Christ would not convince you of Catholicism. But that was not the essence of what I wrote.

            If you read my statement with critical thinking, you would have noticed that (1) it did not say that the miracle need involve Christ directly at all, and (2) that it "was clearly intelligible solely in terms of the truth of Catholicism."

            Nor need it entail any "alleged first century eyewitness testimony."

            And yet, you still claimed that just because "one claim of one Christian denomination is true does not make all its claims true."

            But you are not thinking critically yourself or else you would have realized that my wording guaranteed the "truth of Catholicism," which necessarily means all its claims are true.

            You have tried to derail my philosophical arguments by using my personal beliefs about Catholicism to discredit my ability to think critically.

            I suggest you carefully reexamine your own critical thinking skills in so doing.

          • Gary M

            You asked me if I knew the origin of the universe. I responded that I do not know. A simple answer to a simple question.

            Yet, when I ask you if the resurrected Jesus dwells within you, you hem and haw.

            When I ask you why you have blind faith in fallible human beings (the Magisterium) regarding fantastical claims from Antiquity, you hem and haw.

            It is obvious to me that your use of philosophy is nothing more than a cover to give your superstitions respectability.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I think that a careful reading of my previous reply will reveal who is simply showing an uncritical bias against religious belief.

            You won't find any faith premises in my philosophical articles on Strange Notions.

          • Gary M

            No, you are using (misusing) philosophy to prop up ancient superstitions responsible for massive human suffering.

            The fact that the Exodus Story can be easily shown to be TOTALLY bogus is enough evidence that every Christian church should shut its doors. The Bible is a collection of scientifically ignorant religious propaganda: talking snakes, parting seas, virginal conceptions, and dead body reanimations (resurrections). It is time for intelligent, educated people like yourself, Dr. Bonnette, to abandon superstitious beliefs. Embrace reason, science, and rational thinking!

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iep4gnmJeRE

          • Gary M

            Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 6:33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” –John 6:32

            The Gospel authors and Paul certainly insinuate that Jesus of Nazareth believed in the historicity of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. Yet not one shred of evidence has been found of a large population of ancient Jews living in Egypt as slaves or fleeing into the Sinai for forty years. Even modern Israeli archaeologists admit that the Exodus Story is a tall tale.

            Jesus was wrong. Jesus was not an all-knowing god. This fact alone is sufficient evidence for every Christian church on the planet to close it doors and disband. No one needs to disprove the resurrection. Archaeology disproves the divinity of Jesus. Even if by some miracle Jesus was brought back from the dead, he could not have been the God of the Hebrew Bible. The God of the Hebrews did not make mistakes. Jesus made a whopper!

            Definitely watch the above short video.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Look. I have said before that even were I to lose my faith in Christianity, I would still have to accept the truth that God exists -- based on unaided natural philosophical reasoning.

            You are clearly very anti-Christian and convinced that no rational person could be a Christian. The fact that many very famous and brilliant thinkers were also Christians does not seem to faze your bias.

            But you should at least have the mental skills needed to distinguish philosophical reasoning from religious belief.

            Your assumption that any person who has religious beliefs must be substituting superstition for philosophical reasoning shows that you are not thinking very clearly yourself. Clearly you also do not know enough about the philosophical reasoning to realize that, even if in error, its error does not have to flow from religious bias.

            I realize I cannot convince you of all this. But my analysis of the logical errors in your claims made about five comments above should convince any objective reader that you are not reasoning very carefully.

            This raises serious questions about your outlandish claims that all Christian philosophers are incapable of critical thinking.

            What would you say if I claimed that all atheists exhibit mental deficiency because they cannot understand the proofs for God's existence?

          • Gary M

            I never once said that belief in a generic (Creator) God is irrational or a sign of poor critical thinking skills.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Then what is wrong with the philosophical proofs for the God of classical theism?

            What the heck is a "generic" God, except the one your own reasoning leads you to?

            Since when is your reasoning infallible and others clearly just the product of religious superstition?

            You appear to have decided that anyone crazy enough to believe in Christianity is automatically mentally incapable of critical thinking and therefor automatically defunct as a legitimate philosopher.

            You keep ducking the historical fact that many of the leading thinkers of all time happened also to be Christians. Or, do you now rewrite all history to take away their scholarly credentials? And, frankly, who are you to judge?

            I know. You, like many other atheists, think you have found a zillion contradictions and inconsistencies in Christian belief. Is it just conceivable that maybe there are other sides to some of your "evident contradictions" and just maybe you have not read the opposing arguments? Or, are you as infallible as you accuse Catholics of thinking the Pope is?

          • michael

            Seeing apologists say the gospels were written to be read all as one story and that this solves "Alleged" contradictions between the gospel's differing accounts of the resurrection, ascension, denials of Peter, etc. are among the opposing arguments. I consider them weak and Ad Hoc at best.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I see you have another bunch of your militantly anti-theistic questions here. Both Jim the Scott and I have said we were not going to play games with this propaganda any longer.

            You are not asking questions in good faith, since if one is answered you just grab another one copied off one of your anti-theistic web sites. This game can be played indefinitely and we are not going to enable you to play it.

            Any competent Christian scholar can rebut or even refute this kind of material. But it is pointless to waste one's time, since you are not really discussing, but merely using the thread as a propaganda tool.

            You have made it clear elsewhere that you are functioning simply as a militant atheist.

            I have no issue discussing or even arguing with many of the agnostics or atheists on this site, since they will grant when a point is made and they know there is some validity to varying points of view.

            Some, like David Nickol and Ficino, are genuinely familiar with Catholic and Thomistic teachings and will document both its correct meaning even though they disagree with its truth and give real arguments against it. In a word, they engage in respectful and fruitful dialogue.

            So, I hope you have a nice day and a better new year. But don't hold your breath for me to reply to your other eight comments today or any future ones. By now, you should know that I can answer your challenges. I simply no longer intend to waste time doing so.

          • michael

            That's totally fair: Having more than one question to ask is perfectly valid, it's not game--playing.

          • michael

            Does not David Nickol ask MULTIPLE questions? Is it propaganda to insistently ask for sources when they are repeatedly refused with a surly redneck attitude? I aha never called anyone hear a s meshed Unlike Jim, so have no knowledge of why you claim I don't engage in respectful dialogue merely because I disagree with your answers and insist multiple questions and demand free online primary sources.

          • Jim the Scott

            Have you noticed Nickols is wise enough to not argue against the God his opponent doesn't believes in? I respect that & I know you do too. I wish others would learn that lession.

          • Gary M

            One can be very intelligent and very good at using critical thinking skills in most areas of one's life, but fail to do so in others. Anyone who believes that a first century peasant is the Creator of the universe is NOT using good critical thinking skills.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            And anyone who does not understand the theological and metaphysical implications of the Hypostatic union of the divine and human natures in the Person of Christ has not done his homework.

            Critical thinking starts with properly researching one's subject matter.

          • Gary M

            And anyone who does not understand the theological and metaphysical implications of the Hypostatic union of the divine and human natures in the Person of David Koresh has not done his homework.

            Silly nonsense.

            Believing that a human being is a god is silly. Believing that a human being is the Creator of the universe is preposterous. What possible evidence do you have which indicates that a human being is the Creator? Let's use our critical thinking skills. No appeals to "faith", please.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            If you wish to be taken seriously, you will have to do a lot better than this.

            Do you honestly think that any well-educated human beings would accept a doctrine that confused human nature with the divine nature?

            Do your homework. Look up the theology of the hypostatic union and you will see how silly your statements are. Look up the Catholic doctrine on the nature of Christ before insert your foot more deeply into your mouth.

            Show that you understand the doctrine you criticize before you make more statements that show you are out of your depth.

            This is not a question of whether Christ is both divine and human. That IS a matter of revealed doctrine.

            It is a question as to how such a doctrine could be rationally credible.

            You are repeatedly mocking the very concept while showing you have never studied what is actually taught by the Church.

          • Gary M

            I'm simply asking for evidence for your beliefs.

            I have a great deal of respect for NT scholar Raymond Brown because he was willing to admit that some Catholic beliefs must be accepted simply because the Magisterium says so. It is a matter of blind trust (faith). THAT is an honest answer. If you tell me that you believe in the Hypostatic Union by blind trust in the Magisterium that is an honest answer. But if you tell me that there is evidence for this belief, then I would like to see that evidence.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Raymond Brown is one of the poorest examples of a Catholic scholar you could have chosen, since he was not particularly loyal to that very Magisterium you mention.

            Saying that Catholicism is a matter of blind trust or blind faith reduces it to the fideism of Protestantism, which it is not.

            But again, an adequate course in apologetics would not fit in this comment box. I took one at university level some sixty years ago and it took an entire semester to complete.

            This does not mean it cannot be done completely and competently, but it does mean that cheap imitations are just that.

            And you still have not spelled out any understanding of the meaning of the Hypostatic Union. Was that never mentioned in your books on Christianity that you read?

          • Gary M

            Please consider taking a critical thinking course. Modern, educated people like yourself should not believe in superstitions.

            Best wishes!

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Since it is obvious you really do not know what the Hypostatic Union means, I shall explain it for you.

            In Christ, the divine and human natures are hypostatically united, that is, joined to each other in one Person. (De Fide)

            The concept of an hypostasis means a real, substantial union -- specifically a personal union of the divine and human natures.

            Unlike the union between body and soul in a human being that is a union between two distinct principles of being forming a single complete substance, the Hypostatic Union in Christ is a union of two complete and distinct natures that terminates in one sole Person, that of the Word (the Second Person of the Trinity), who is already preexisting at the act of the Incarnation.

            The relevant truth for purposes of the erroneous understanding you keep repeating is that the divine and human natures are not co-mixed, but are distinct, although united in the single divine Person.

            This means that the human nature of Christ is a creature; his intellect and will are powers of a creature, and hence, there is absolutely no claim that Christ is the Creator of the universe in and through his human nature.

            Yet, since his Person is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, he is truly God as well as man.

            This may still be a very mysterious union, but it is in no way the proper subject to the mockery of contradictions between the divine and the human natures which you falsely and contemptuously predicate of Christ.

          • Gary M

            What you have just said is nothing more than sophisticated-sounding mumbo jumbo, no different than the following:

            Our thread is made of of a substance called "Kryptonite". We obtained this amazing substance from a fallen meteor in the desert. With it, through a complicated process of double reverse hydroxidation revealed to us by an angel, we have produced the most beautiful clothing in the world. Anyone who does not see the amazing quality of our thread is ignorant and stupid. Just look at the beautiful clothes we have made for the Emperor!

            Just say NO, folks! Just say no to sophisticated-sounding supernatural claims. There is no good evidence that the supernatural operates in our world.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You just don't like my explanation of the real teaching about the Incarnation because it shows that your complaint about a "first century peasant being the Creator of the universe" is simply your own fabrication and is not now and never has been the teaching of Catholicism.

          • Gary M

            Raymond Brown is one of the poorest examples of a Catholic scholar you could have chosen, since he was not particularly loyal to that very Magisterium you mention.

            Anyone accusing Raymond Brown of being a radical or liberal is himself a fundamentalist, regardless if he is a Protestant or Catholic.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            What I said about Raymond Brown and the Magisterium remains true regardless of your diverse perspective about who is a fundamentalist and who is simply an orthodox Catholic.

          • David Nickol

            Raymond E. Brown was an orthodox Catholic.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Perhaps the following link will help you better understand my concerns about the orthodoxy of Fr. Raymond Brown's biblical scholarship:

            https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=525

          • David Nickol

            Perhaps the piece linked to above will help you better understand my concerns about the orthodoxy of Fr. Raymond Brown's biblical scholarship.

            Nothing about the article alarmed me except the copyright line citing The Wanderer. ;-)

            I really don't see the problem with believing the virginal conception is scarcely attested (from a historical viewpoint) in the New Testament but assenting to it as Catholic dogma. The Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are not found in the Bible at all. I don't see that it is "artful" for Brown to assent to Catholic dogma.

            I note that the author of the piece to which you linked appears alarmed at the suggestion that Mary may not actually have uttered the words of the Magnificat. The NAB says:

            [Luke 1:46–55] Although Mary is praised for being the mother of the Lord and because of her belief, she reacts as the servant in a psalm of praise, the Magnificat. Because there is no specific connection of the canticle to the context of Mary’s pregnancy and her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat (with the possible exception of v. 48) may have been a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. Even if not composed by Luke, it fits in well with themes found elsewhere in Luke: joy and exultation in the Lord; the lowly being singled out for God’s favor; the reversal of human fortunes; the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. The loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.

          • Ficino

            I am sort of chuckling. I used to read The Wanderer back in the '70s, and it was full of attacks on Ray Brown back then. It spoke of a layman, a Gennaro Cal, who used to attend conferences at which Brown was a speaker. As I recall, one article said that Cal would ask Brown gotcha questions, such that at one conference, Brown saw Cal approaching from a distance. The Wanderer piece said something like "the eminent scripture scholar concealed himself behind the door."

            The campus chaplain told me that Cardinal Krol, when asked what he thought of the Wanderer, replied that he only read the Standard and Times (the Philadelphia archdiocesan newspaper).

            Later on, Fr. Brown would say morning mass most days at my parish. I heard him preach only occasionally, as my academic schedule led me to attend the noon mass most days. But my friends, who were down-the-middle orthodox, said that Fr. Brown always adhered to what the magisterium taught. I referred to Brown as "Ray" above because I knew him slightly from that context.

            I seem to see Protestant biblical scholars (usually not called "scripture scholars" over there) like Mike Licona espousing views of inerrancy that remind me of the approach of people like Brown.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Perhaps, if critics of the criticism of Fr. Brown paid more attention to the substance of the criticism, rather than who is making the criticism, the unorthodoxy of Brown would be more clearly understood.

            Let me try again, and this time please read the criticism, not making fun at who writes it:

            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2016/02/fr-raymond-brown-modernist-dissident.html

            For those who won't take the time to read the linked article itself, here is one excerpt:

            "Fr. Brown drew sharp criticism from the late Lawrence Cardinal Shehan and others for his pioneering role “in a new Catholic theology founded on modern exegesis” that cast doubt on the historical accuracy of numerous articles of the Catholic faith.
            These articles of faith, proclaimed by Popes and believed by the faithful over the centuries, include Jesus’ physical Resurrection; the Transfiguration; the fact that Jesus founded the one, true Catholic Church and instituted the priesthood and the episcopacy; the fact that 12 Apostles were missionaries and bishops; and the truth that Jesus was not “ignorant” on a number of matters."

          • Ficino

            I stopped reading Dave Armstrong's blog some time ago. Dave deleted a discussion that Jim the Scott and I were beginning in comboxes to one of Dave's posts. His right, his blog. But I got tired of it in general. The number of times he throws around the descriptor "liberal," as though it is obvious that a liberal is a heretic or close to same, becomes boring. As in this linked piece.

            I don't really care whether Brown comes off as heterodox in the eyes of some other Catholics. Defending Catholic orthodoxy is no longer my battle. And I don't much care whether Bishop so-and-so thinks Brown was heterodox. Was any writing of Brown's denied an Imprimatur or stripped of an imprimatur? Was Brown ever officially questioned by any organ of the CDF?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I suspect that you and I would agree that Brown's orthodoxy or heterodoxy is not as important as the underlying issues being debated about scripture scholarship in which he was involved. I hinted as some of them above, but we may be in a side track here.

            And how one regards the value of his or other's scripture scholarship will probably be conditioned by prior questions the lead back even to the historical development of modern scripture scholarship, where I suspect we may have some philosophical differences.

            It is probably better to shift the topic to areas where head on disagreements are more at issue and perhaps more fruitful than debating the value of the publications in which the subject under discussion is being discussed. Talk about side issues!

          • Sample1

            Putting this reply here. Your God, technically, is not allowing (mysteriously or not) me to reply easily. I can’t reply to the post with the “Supreme Court” “threat” about commenting on articles.

            At any rate, we’ve had good discussions regardless if I’ve read a particular article of yours. At least I thought so. And if you thought so, then this is all moot. It’s no crime to avoid reading OPs. I can’t say which ones I’ve read off hand. Certainly all of the nine that were reposted for discussion on OTS and a few here. So definitely above 50%.

            That’s a reciprocal gift that is yours to acknowledge or not. :-)

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I was hoping you would see my dire report from the Supreme Court at the top of the thread, but yes, I think Disgus is gravely ill at the moment -- so my @Sample1 link did not get your attention.

            Yes, we have had good discussions. And, as I said about my accusation, if I am wrong, then I am sure SCOTUS will be after my own head in short order!

            But I could swear that somewhere in your comments you did say that you just went straight to the comments when I put up a new article! That's okay. It isn't a mortal sin -- unless SCOTUS catches you doing it!

            And I appreciate it when you do read my pieces, even if appears that most of them were over on OTS!

            As the song says, I am sure we'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when. (Probably here!)

          • David Nickol

            Raymond Brown is one of the poorest examples of a Catholic scholar you could have chosen, since he was not particularly loyal to that very Magisterium you mention.

          • Jim the Scott

            Well I have one Brown wrote on Jewish Christianity (a favorite topic of mine) not everything he writes is crap. Even Origen is cited by great Theologians but he is still a heretic & Brown well I won't go that far out of charity but he does leave a bad taste in my mouth.

            >it is the job of a biblical scholar to determine exactly what the Bible says, not to try to retroject Catholic doctrine into Bible texts when it is not already there.

            That is not the job of a Catholic Biblical scholar. That many bishops have been lax is a modern problem but I think they are overcompensating from the days when they where too rigged.

            >Imprimatur and an Imprimi Potest

            Those are issued by individual bishops but what if the Bishop is a scrub? It happens but I am not worried. The Church will correct itself in the end. She always does eventually.

          • BTS

            Exchanges like this make it seem extraordinary disingenuous for you to keep offering the defense in many of your replies that you are not a theologian, therefore you won't speculate about X, Y, Z.

            Everyone is a theologian. Some just have read more books.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            No, not everyone is a theologian. But it is like philosophy and ethics. Everyone thinks he has these abilities, especially at 2 AM when he is three sheets to the wind.

            I am not a professional theologian. I do not have the credentials of one. But, if you raise theological questions or objections, I will sometimes try to answer them to the best of my abilities. And it is true that, for Catholic theologians, Thomistic philosophy has traditionally been the rational instrument they use in their interpretation of revelation and of doctrine.

          • Gary M

            There is no need to "study" superstitions.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            See my other replies that show that the real problem is that you are making allegations against Christianity that simply are untrue because they do not reflect what the dogma of the Hypostatic Union actually teaches.

          • Jim the Scott

            A human being isn't God. A divine person who has taken on a human nature with their divine nature is God. As Dr. B said if you can't get the doctrine right than what good are you? Greene, Nickols and Fucino can get it right & they are Atheists/Agnostics/Skeptic types.

            So you are without excuse. Hit the books laddie and if you won't. ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there. Go debate Kirk Cameron I am sure he is more yer speed. OR you can learn properly what it is you don't believe in. Yer choice.

          • Gary M

            You have made a claim, but have provided no evidence.

            I bet I have read more books on Christianity than most Christians on this blog. Check out the "about" page on my blog for a list of all the books I have read. BTW: Raymond Brown is my favorite NT scholar. I find his work very objective and honest.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Then why did you not explain the Hypostatic Union?

            Why did you not state the essential doctrine of the Incarnation in clear terms?

            Are those all comic book interpretations of Christianity written by militant atheists who also do not do competent research?

          • Gary M

            I understand the concept. I am asking for sufficient evidence to believe it.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            No, you are not primarily asking for the evidence to believe it.

            You are badly referring to a doctrine you do not define properly.

            And you are demanding a proof that equates to an entire course in apologetics, since the conclusion of the demonstration amounts to a proof that Christianity is true.

            Even you know that is not a reasonable demand on a short thread comment.

            By mocking the doctrine, you hope to disprove the possibility of its demonstration. This is not intellectually honest.

          • Jim the Scott

            @@disqus_5Cgg3XYLh1:disqus

          • Gary M

            Just as I do not need to understand the intricacies of Muslim, Mormon, and Hindu "doctrines" to denounce them as superstitions, I do not need to understand your doctrines of Hypostatic Union, Incarnation, Atonement for sins, or Transubstantiation. All these claims involve the supernatural. Since there is no good evidence that the supernatural operates in our universe, I can hand wave them away as ancient tall tales.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            On the contrary, the problem is not your lack of belief in Christ.

            Your problem is that you attacked a doctrine that was of your own fabrication and not what Christianity teaches.

          • Jim the Scott

            What does evidence have to do with you formulating the correct dogma on the Incarnation vs yer own made up strawman of said dogma?

            >I bet I have read more books on Christianity than most Christians on this blog.

            Yet you mis-stated the doctrine of the incarnation? Color me skeptical. Also you don't have a single professional philosopher Atheist or Theist in that list (Boghossian doesn't have his PhD)so that makes you even more unimpressive.

            >You have made a claim, but have provided no evidence.

            No you have made an erroneous claim "A human being is god" and now you are trying to deflect by changing the subject. Michael has done that more often than I can count. Try a better tactic.

          • Gary M

            I do not need to understand all the details of your superstition. I only need to know that your superstition involves the supernatural. Knowing that, I can dismiss it with a simple wave of the hand.

            There is no good evidence that the supernatural operates within our universe. Even if a supernatural Creator created the universe supernaturally, the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that the Creator did not ordain that the supernatural operate within our universe.

            God with evidence, my friend, not "faith".

          • Jim the Scott

            >I do not need to understand all the details of your superstition.

            Then in principle you can offer no compelling criticism of the specifics of my "superstition". That is an irrational approach even if there are no gods. Indeed is qualifies as a superstition in its own right.

            > I only need to know that your superstition involves the supernatural.

            Then you need to learn the philosophical arguments against the existence of the supernatural and their rebuttals. Which means you need to know Hume and Anscombe. If you have not done the homework like I said, ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there.

            >There is no good evidence that the supernatural operates within our universe.

            That depends on yer particular philosophical view of skepticism & what level of evidence is acceptable & of what type. You need to make a positive case for that. You can't just assume it. Or are you just another boring New Atheist neo-Positivist? Because if you are I have some crushing news for you......;-)

            >Even if a supernatural Creator created the universe supernaturally, the
            evidence overwhelmingly indicates that the Creator did not ordain that
            the supernatural operate within our universe.

            How do you have "evidence" to prove a negative? I am sorry but yer thinking here is clearly flawed & illogical even if there are no gods.

            >Go with evidence, my friend, not "faith".

            But I am not the Fideist here sir. That would be you. Scratch an Atheist find a fundamentalist.

            Have a good new year.

          • Gary M

            Thankfully, more and more educated people in the West are abandoning religion. The abhorrent behavior of thousands of Catholic priests and bishops against innocent children, and the cover up by church authorities, including the pope himself, should be sufficient evidence to abandon this evil institution. Abandon religious superstitions, my friends. Embrace reason, science, rational thinking, and secular democratic humanism!

            Happy New Year to all!

          • Jim the Scott

            Yes now you are reduced to preaching like you did back when you where a Fundamentalist. I hate to point it out to you but you are still a fundamentalist.

            If you want to deal with the Five Ways or the philosophical arguments for the existence of God we are here for you buddy. Otherwise you must go somewhere else.

          • Gary M

            So you are a docetist?

            Trinitarians believe that Jesus was fully human and fully God. Therefore in simple English terms: Jesus of Nazareth was a human being who was also God. A human being was God.

          • Jim the Scott

            Let me correct yer mistakes here & I answer "no" to yer question BTW.

            Trinitarians believe that in God's divine essence there are subsisting divine relations specifically the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are predicated as really distinct from one another as subsisting relations but not distinct at all in essence since in God there are no real physical or metaphysical distinction only mysterious ones.

            This is true wither or not you hold too an orthodox Christology. Christological heretics like the Monophysites and Nestorians confessed the Trinity but not the correct Chalcedonian Christology.

            Chalcedonian Christology (which I hold to as a Catholic) tells us Jesus is a divine person with two distinct natures. A divine and human one that are united in his person without confusion or separation.

            Those are the proper theological category and if you wish to criticize them you will need to learn them. It is not valid to make up yer own straw man terms even if there are no gods.

            > Therefore in simple English terms:

            Which by definition concedes you are not using precise theological ones ergo you cannot offer any meaningful critic even if there are no gods.
            Why you think that is a smart way to go is a mystery to me like the Trinity.

            >Jesus of Nazareth was a human being who was also God. A human being was God.

            No a "human being" is a human person. Jesus is a God Man.

            Please do yer research if only as a courtesy.

          • Gary M

            Whatever.

            You believe in the existence of god men (at least one of these creatures). What is your evidence for this belief?

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry I only do natural theology & Philosophy. Ask someone who specializes in Christian evidences for the resurrection.

            Unlike some us I only play to my strengths.

          • Jim the Scott

            >One can be very intelligent and very good at using critical thinking skills in most areas of one's life, but fail to do so in others.

            Look in the mirror my friend. You it appears have merely switched from lowbrow Christian fundamentalist apologetics and polemics to lowbrow atheist apologetics and polemics. I invite you to grow beyond yerself to try to read something more sophisticated.

            >Anyone who believes that a first century peasant is the Creator of the universe is NOT using good critical thinking skills.

            That is not a rational argument or any type of argument and it is not rationally valid even if we grant a priori there are no gods.

            Really that is pretty bad.

          • Gary M

            Please provide sufficient evidence to convince the overwhelming majority of educated people living today to believe that a first century peasant named Jesus of Nazareth is the Creator of the universe. No appeals to "faith", please.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            That is almost word for word the same line you used on me before. Are you getting this material out of your anti-Christian comic book type militant atheist web sites?

            You are confusing the evidence for the doctrine with the rational credibility of the doctrine. You are trying to disprove the doctrine by mocking its content. That is not the same issue as trying to prove the doctrine is true or false.

            "Sufficient evidence" for the doctrine would amount to proving the truth of Christianity. Surely you mock us by demanding a full course in apologetics in a short comment!!

            More to the point is the intelligibility of the doctrine you mock in its very presentation. Once again, you fail to show that you even understand what the doctrine means.

            If you want an intelligent reply, you have to ask a civil and intelligent question.

          • Jim the Scott

            I am not interested as that is off topic & that is not my area of expertise. Go talk to William Lane Craig or Gary Habermas or Peter Kreefe. I deal with natural theology and the problem of evil. So if you want to talk about that then have at.

            I am sorry but I only play to my strengths.

          • Jim the Scott

            additional:

            Anyway if I took yer deflection question seriously (or as seriously as a rational educated person can) then this is what Professor Edward Feser once called a "Prove to me quantum Mechanics/evolution/global warming/global cooling/moderate realism/skepticism etc in 50 words or Less iotherwise it is not true" type question.

            This is all you got?

          • michael

            Would you be so kind as demonstrate, independent of reliance on Christian belief, that masturbation is evil? Perhaps something a little more detailed then "That's not what it's designed for" or Aquinas' "The shape of the sex organs prove they are to be used only for this purpose, otherwise it's immoral".

          • michael

            "The fact that many very famous and brilliant thinkers were also Christians" doesn't support Christianity, that'd be an appeal to authority fallacy.

          • David Nickol

            Jesus was wrong. Jesus was not an all-knowing god.

            I think it is well within Catholic orthodoxy to believe that Jesus-the-man was not omniscient. Christians don't look to the Jesus of the Bible to confirm or refute the ancient history of Judaism. I share your skepticism about the Exodus and perhaps even the historicity of Moses himself. But I don't think it is impossible to imagine a Jesus who was divine but who was nevertheless a man with the understanding and knowledge of his time.

            I was once in a discussion with some Christians who had various viewpoints about this issue, and the most "conservative" insisted that Jesus had to know calculus and quantum mechanics because he was God, and God knows everything. It struck me as a ridiculous position. Omniscience would be a terrible hindrance to the functioning of a human mind.

          • Gary M

            It seems to me that many Christians, Catholic and Protestant, intend to believe in the divinity of Jesus simply because they want to, regardless of the evidence. That is certainly your choice, but it is not rational thinking. It is wishful thinking (faith),

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I know that you work to get the doctrine correct where possible. So, may I offer you the theological explanation of how Christ's knowledge is said to work?

            The dogma of the hypostatic union says that Christ has one divine Person, but two natures: one human and one divine.

            This means that, while as God, he is indeed omniscient, that which he knows through his human nature functions through its finite powers of intellect.

            Thus, Christ's person can "access" knowledge in more than one way. As divine, he knows everything. But as human, his knowledge is limited.

            This leads to many statements he makes that sound confusing to those not realizing that some are made in light of what he knows as God, but others are deliberately limited to what he would know only through his human nature.

            I am not a scripture scholar, so you can probably do better than I finding such quotes, but, for instance, according to Luke 2: 52, there was progress in Christ's human knowledge. On the other hand, he had the Beatific Vision from the moment of his creation.

            According to Ludwig Ott, it is difficult to determine with certitude which scriptural texts refer to Christ's human or divine knowledge, but that does not mean that such a division does not exist. Sometimes, it appears that Christ speaks as if he has the knowledge of God directly; other times he speaks as if his knowledge is limited to his human experience.

            While I realize that the central Christian dogma of the Incarnation is most challenging to explain fully intellectually, what would one really expect of such a paradoxical reality?

            Christ does say things like "I and the Father are one," and "Before Abraham was I AM."

            My point is not to debate the doctrine of the Incarnation here, and I am sure you would not wish to go down that path. Rather, I am trying to shed a little light on why some texts citing Christ seem to reveal knowledge known to God alone, whereas other seem to reflect the limitations of human knowledge that one would expect of a true human being with limited experience.

          • Gary M

            Isn't it also possible that the "hypostatic union" is invented spin to wow the uneducated masses into believing the unbelievable and the nonsensical? Kind of like what the Emperor's tailors did.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You still have not even shown that you understand the essential doctrine of the Hypostatic Union.

            You should show you understand the doctrine before you mock it.

          • But I don't think it is impossible to imagine a Jesus who was divine but who was nevertheless a man with the understanding and knowledge of his time.

            Perhaps not impossible, but it does seriously strain credulity to believe this is the most probable. So Jesus just knew how to perform miracles, and how to talk to the "Father", but the omniscient Father couldn't be bothered to let human Jesus in on the non-existence of most of the biblical patriarchs? I find this difficult to swallow.

          • David Nickol

            My personal feeling about more than one area of Catholic doctrine is that the Church tries to explain too much rather than too little. If the contemporaries of Jesus believed he was God incarnate, they did so without knowing the developments of the next few hundred years of Catholic doctrine. "Technical" explanations about Jesus having a human and a divine nature just raise more questions (for me) than they answer.

            In any case, we have only the barest clue about how consciousness works in ordinary human beings. It seems strange to me to speculate in too much detail what the consciousness of God incarnate would have to be like.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I think it is well within Catholic orthodoxy to believe that Jesus-the-man was not omniscient.

            True, and one can state it much more strongly than that. The position that Jesus was omniscient is explicitly contrary to orthodoxy (identified as the heresy of Apollinarism).

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I think this needs a bit of clarification. I am not an expert on Apollinarism, but I think it denied the human soul of Christ.

            It is true that in his human nature, Christ's intellect was limited as to its knowledge. But since the Person of Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity, and since his divine nature is omniscient, his Person was omniscient.

            Thus, many of his statements reflect what he knew as man, but at the same time in his divine Person his knowledge was always omniscient. Since there is but a single Person in Jesus, it is false to say that he was not omniscient -- except in terms of the natural limitations of his human intellect.

            This is why some have committed the grave error of saying that Christ did not know he was God from the moment of his conception in his mother's womb, or that he only gradually became aware of his divinity as he grew up.

            Some statements in Scripture by Christ manifest his divine nature and knowledge. Others seem to manifest limitations of his knowledge as when he speaks of what he knows as a true human being. Small wonder we get confused!

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Since there is but a single Person in Jesus

            Just as a minor point, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it would be more conventional to use his earthly name, "Jesus", to refer specifically to Christ in his human nature, and to use "Christ" or "The Second Person of the Trinity" to refer to the mystery that unites both natures in one person.

            Given that understanding, I don't technically disagree with what you wrote (since you phrase it as a statement about "Christ"), but at the same time I believe it would be perfectly within the realm of orthodoxy to say that Jesus "did not know he was God from the moment of his conception in his mother's womb, or that he only gradually became aware of his divinity as he grew up".

            I would also offer, out of sympathy for those who find the Chalcedonian formulation to be inscrutable or just bizarre, that that Greek philosophical formulation is a correct way of expressing that mystery, but it isn't the only way. The (perhaps) simpler Biblical formulation that Jesus was the Logos of God made flesh gets at the same underlying idea, but in a way that may be more accessible, at to some people.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.: Luke 2:52. (King James)

            I certainly will not argue with Scripture. It is precisely these types of texts that required the precise theological formulation the Church gave at Chalcedon much later.

            I agree with Shakespeare that a rose is still a rose by any other name.

            The doctrinal statement merely makes certain that we understand the truth of the matter when pressed to be more exacting in our meaning.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            The doctrinal statement merely makes certain that we understand the truth of the matter when pressed to be more exacting in our meaning.

            I agree that the philosophical expressions of doctrine have this value. Probably unhelpful in the context of kerygma, but enlightening in the context of catechesis.
            In fact, I would like to lean on the formal doctrinal expression to (politely, I hope) press my point even further. In stating that the two natures exist "inconfusedly", I believe the intent was to explicitly rule out the idea that Jesus sometimes spoke from a divine perspective and sometime from a limited finite perspective, as if toggling back and forth between two states, as you seem to suggest in your comment above. Rather, it was precisely in speaking from a position of finitude and vulnerability that Jesus fully expressed divine wisdom, knowledge, and power. That, I believe, is the essence of the mystery that the "inconfused" language insists upon.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Since I am neither a scripture scholar nor a Protestant, I have no desire to try to explain the precise meaning of such texts as Mark 13:32: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (King James)

            I am certain that the doctrinal exposition of the Hypostatic Union is the only correct one. Still, I am hardly surprised that Our Lord chose not to express himself by saying such things as: "Speaking in light of my knowledge through my human nature....." or "Speaking in light of my knowledge through my divine nature."

            It hardly would have helped the literary style of the Good Book.

          • Jim the Scott

            To claim the Exodus didn't happen isn't a scientifically provable claim even if there are no gods. Also again what part of we are not fundamentalists here do ye still not understand?

            https://www.uccfleadershipnetwork.org/resource/archaeology-and-the-hebrew-exodus

            >Definitely watch the above short video.

            That video is lowbrow garbage from an internet Atheist who clearly hasn't learned any basic science or even about the limits of archeology.

            Gary M.

            Like I told someone else here. ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there buddy.

          • michael

            Even with the limits of science and archaeology, don't the stories in Exodus sound strange to you? Before leaving Catholicism altogether at age twenty-four in 2016, I already had difficulty believing Exodus and other Old Testament stories even at age five in 1996. Are Christians commiting a fallacy when mocking muslims fo believing in talking birds and ands, and that Solomon had an army of men, birds, and creatures made of smokeless fire called jinn, merely because we can't scientificially or archeologically disproof said Quranic stories?

          • Jim the Scott

            Go away Mike. I have excommunicated you from my company.

          • Gary M

            Excellent. You agree that the Exodus Story is fiction. Jesus seemed to have disagreed. He seemed to believe that the Exodus was a real historical event. That is sufficient evidence to prove that Jesus was not an all-knowing god, and definitely evidence that he was not the Creator of the universe.

          • Jim the Scott

            Where does that article I link to above say the Exodus is fiction? It says the opposite. Kenneth Kitchen does believe the Exodus is historical. Now you are just making stuff up.

            I can't take you seriously. Low brow Atheists are twice as tedious as lowbow fundamentalists.

          • Gary M

            Kitchen is an outlier. I'm sure I can find someone with a PhD in some field of science who believes that the earth is flat or that climate change is fake news. So just because you can find a handful of experts to support your fringe position is not sufficient reason why most educated people should believe your fringe claim.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Kitchen is an outlier.

            I thought you said you read the books on yer list? Hoffmeier agrees with Kitchen. Finkelstein and Silberman come up with the same data as they do but each interprets it differently and as I recall Finkelstein does believe there was a historic kernel to the exodus narrative.

            You made this broad irrational claim (which I am sure even Finkelstein and Silberman would disagree with) that science and archaeology have positively refuted the Exodus. That is not how science works. You cannot prove a negative.

            At best the data compiled by Hoffmeier, Kitchen, Finkelstein and Silberman as it stands today make it highly improbable a mass movement of 3 million people from a country that at its height had no more than 5 million people that took place between 1500BC & 1200 BC. unlikely but that assumes we take the numbers in the Torah literally. Alef can mean "1000" or "clan" or "military unit" or "chieftian" or "officer" and there are at least a dozen other explanations from astrology calculations to the idea later manuscripts increased the numbers as the populations increased or gemetria etc.....

            I don't have to hold to a fundamentalist view 3 million people literally left Egypt. I am not a Protestant. I don't hold Martin Luther's False Perspicuity of Scripture heresy.

            You made the positive claim archeology has definitely disproved the Exodus (which goes beyond the claims of more reasonable skeptics including the scholars you cite) & the existence of Moses and you have offered nothing substantial to back it up. Of course I know enough philosophy of science to know in principle you cannot do that. You cannot prove a negative.

            If anyone is fringe here it is you son. Like I said. ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there. Have at it. You will kill there but here you need to learn philosophy otherwise arguing with you would be about useful as Dawkins arguing with a fundie with a 4th grader's knowledge of biology.

          • Gary M

            The Exodus in an ancient folk tale. It is no more believable that tales of Rip Van Winkle.

          • Jim the Scott

            That is yer opinion but yer claims about science proving that are laughable even if there are no gods.

            Repeat after me. Science cannot prove a negative.

          • Ficino

            The most comprehensive academic reviews of Kitchen's book on the reliability of the Old Testament evaluate his methodology quite negatively, and as a consequence, his overall conclusions.

          • Jim the Scott

            By whom? Vague much? I've read a lot of positive reviews. Also presupposing naturalism isn't a valid methodology it is mere bias.

          • Ficino

            See e.g. the very negative review in Catholic Biblical Quarterly (69.4 [2007]) by John Huddlesten, pp 781-4. He criticizes Kitchen's reliance on implicit or indirect evidence for conclusions that are only not impossible as though they are vindicated, e.g. "("we should consider a Moses or a Joshua writing on papyrus, skins, or waxed tablets in alphabetic late Canaanite") and then later recopied with changes to update the archaic features of the language (pp. 304-5). Such a scenario will sway few, if any, with the exception of those who already share the author's views regarding the biblical text." Or "First, K. stresses the nonhistorical character of such rhetorical boasts in Egyptian and Hittite accounts, yet asks the reader to accept that similar boasts in Joshua, which are in line with ancient Near Eastern practice, are nevertheless historical. Second, K. is highly selective in his use of comparative material: Why restrict the application of ancient Near Eastern campaign ideology to Joshua alone? Third, K.'s simplistic view of the general veracity of ancient Near Eastern campaign accounts (minus references to deity) ignores the vast scholarly literature on history and history writing, and, more importantly, the extent to which literary conventions pervade "historical" texts."

            Niels Peter Lemche in Journal of the American Oriental Society 124.2 (2004) 375-7, including "His knowledge of Old Testament studies is partial and definitely out of touch with recent developments, and his defense of the integrity of such books as Isaiah will hardly be con sidered of any value except to the most evangelically oriented readers ... The author is abusing his role as an Egyptologist; he never engages in a serious way with biblical scholars, nor with students of the ancient Near East who are not members of his party..."

            Andre Lemaire in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 65.3 (2006) 230-2:
            "Est-ce à dire que les conclusions présentées dans ce livre sont toutes convaincantes? Probablement pas: l’auteur souligne lui-même souvent que l’interprétation proposée de tel ou tel texte est possible (“may”, “might”, “could”, “would be” . . .) ou simplement vraisemblable ou probable. Ces nuances sont importantes..." Lemaire notes as deficiencies Kitchen's very incomplete grasp of 1. the field outside of Egypt; 2. how to analyse strata of composition and redaction within ancient texts; 3. distinction betw specific references to persons and events vs to general customs or institutions, which may remain the same over millennia.

            Mark Chavalas in Hebrew Studies 46 (2005) 395-7: Kitchen attacks others for accepting indirect and implicit evidence, but his main conclusions rest on such; doesn't consider most recent NE finds.

          • Jim the Scott

            Very unimpressive since as another critic of his Charles David Isbell
            notes "I do not think Kitchen’s work is either poor, wrong in many
            cases, or unnecessary. He is a better Egyptologist than biblical scholar, and he is actually cute sometimes, if one can avoid the stinger that always lurks inside his attempts at humor. In this, he rather reminds me of the biblical Joab, whose defense of David was always constant, even when it was not always particularly helpful. The value of Kitchen’s work is his dogged insistence upon a reading of relevant texts and an assessment of relevant archaeological recoveries as the appropriate context in which to read OT narratives. And it is precisely here that minimalists must be challenged to respond. They have called for dependence upon extra-biblical evidence, and Kitchen marshals an impressive amount of just such evidence for their assessment. Should his minimalist opponents fail to answer the specific
            evidence Kitchen has brought forward, we shall be forced to conclude
            that they cannot."END QUOTE

            None of the criticism you cite here undermine his work nor do they vindicate Gary H's extremist claims archeology and science have conclusively disproved the Exodus. As an academic you know science doesn't work that way.

            That Kitchen is accused of being "bias" as a believer and that colors his
            work is as unremarkable as the fact Finkelstein's agnosticism colors
            his.

            > Kitchen attacks others for accepting indirect and implicit evidence,
            but his main conclusions rest on such; doesn't consider most recent NE
            finds.

            I don't see the problem here? It's one interpretation vs another and
            Kitchen is right to take people in the minimalist school to task for
            their overstated conclusions yet he can't offer his own? How weird....i love academic double standards.:D

            Further comments.

            >"His knowledge of Old Testament studies is partial and definitely out of
            touch with recent developments, and his defense of the integrity of
            such books as Isaiah will hardly be con sidered of any value except to
            the most evangelically oriented readers ...

            This doesn't substantially tell me anything other than this person disagrees with his interpretation of the archeological data.

            >Lemaire notes as deficiencies Kitchen's very incomplete grasp of 1. the
            field outside of Egypt; 2. how to analyse strata of composition and
            redaction within ancient texts; 3. distinction betw specific references
            to persons and events vs to general customs or institutions, which may
            remain the same over millennia.

            This is a more substantial criticism on actual methodology thought I don't see how it vindicates the Gary H's extremist claims....

            BTW Ficino how many of these critics are themselves members of the
            minimalist school? What of their bias? Just asking because if you
            wanted to criticize a Thomist by citing only a bunch of Scotus'
            proponents I would think that a wee bit unbalanced.

            >First, K. stresses the nonhistorical character of such rhetorical boasts
            in Egyptian and Hittite accounts, yet asks the reader to accept that
            similar boasts in Joshua, which are in line with ancient Near Eastern
            practice, are nevertheless historical.

            So what? Christians believe the mythology of pagans is false and their
            own is true? Well that is a shocker let me tell ya.......

            >Second, K. is highly selective in his use of comparative material:

            Which balances out the extremism of the minimalists in the other direction as one of his critics Isbell notes "What becomes immediately apparent is that Kitchen stands as far to one edge of the stream of OT scholarship as his opponents do to the other.Both sides agree that Old Testament scholars of the past two hundred years have all missed the mark, some to the left and others to theright. In this volume, Professor Kitchen argues that the ANE settingprovides texts, context, and physical data to indicate a long history of biblical "Israel" and its literature. This history begins in the early to mid-second millennium BCE, and extends well into the second half of the first. For his argument, Kitchen aligns himself squarely in the "maximalist" camp of OT scholars and draws upon a vast array of Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Canaanite inscriptions, historical patterns, and cultural customs. In brief, it must be said that the case made by Kitchen is strong."END QUOTE

            >He criticizes Kitchen's reliance on implicit or indirect evidence for
            conclusions that are only not impossible as though they are vindicated..

            That is not how I read him. He merely offers counter point to the opposing conclusions of the minimalist school.

            Anyway thanks for responding with more substance then what others have been doing. It is refreshing.

          • Ficino

            Very unimpressive since

            you do not provide a link to Isbell's "reaction ... not a complete review" (Isbell's own words). You also do not acknowledge the degree to which Isbell disagrees with Kitchen --

            by citing only a bunch of

            Isbell's words and leaving out most of his criticisms, even your admission that Isbell is a critic comes out

            a wee bit unbalanced.

            I referred to "the most comprehensive academic reviews" of Kitchen's Reliability. Isbell's does not aspire to be that; it's not a review published in an academic journal, valuable as its content is. There is one fairly comprehensive academic review that I did not cite, and its author is very impressed with Kitchen's erudition, but I leave that one to your research.

            I'm replying in a bit of a snarky tone because (a) I'm replying to JIM THE SCOTT not to some snowflake (har har), but also (b) because it seems pretty clear to me that Kitchen's conclusions about the OT, when his work takes him outside his specialty, do not command widespread assent among researchers on ANE history.

            Oh well, neither of us is an ANE historian.

          • Jim the Scott

            Here is yer link.
            http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Isbell-Kitchen_and_Minimalism.shtml

            (BTW you didn't give me a link to Hiddlesten or those other citations but I did find his review on my own using FB and read it. All 3 & a half pages which was hardly comprehensive of a 600 page tome IMHO)

            I find his conclusions telling: QUOTE"On the positive side, K.'s volume is packed full of useful,.informative,[sic] and at times enlightening comparative material, even if his conclusions are not always convincing. This is one of the best volumes I know for demonstrating the importance of reading the Hebrew Bible as a thoroughly ancient Near Eastern product. Still, in ploughing through such a massive tome, the wary reader must never let down his''her ideological guard, as it were. It is a pity that the author's hostile and belligerent tone detracts from much of what could be of value in the volume. By comparison, Bruce's much smaller offering on the NT, although dated, accomplishes its stated purpose more effectively."END QUOTE

            The whole review is him taking issue with Kitchen's ideology not his competence as an archeologist. It hardly paints him as "fringe" as Gary H claims.

            >I referred to "the most comprehensive academic reviews" of Kitchen's Reliability.

            Three and one half pages in Hiddlesten's review is comprehensive to you? Forgive me if I balk. At best it is a nice summery of the man's valid academic impressions & opinions about Kitchen's interpreting the data in a 600 page tome. But comprehensive? Well I will be nice and say that is relative.

            I wonder if I should bother hunting down the other critical reviews? Would they be any better? But for some reason I have to provide links but you sir don't have too? Come on Ficino! You are better then that. Don't disappoint me.

            >it's not a review published in an academic journal, valuable as its content is.

            What does that have to do with anything? Both he and Hiddleston offer criticism and positive conclusions? Content wise I don't see how one is more valuable than the other?

            >There is one fairly comprehensive academic review that I did not cite,

            Here is a tip. Lead with yer strongest argument and don't waste my time
            with fluff. BTW since you have made links a thing you cannot cite it unless you provide a link. Now normally I would settle for you giving a citation and if I want to put in the effort to look it up or not that would be fine. But the rules are yours not mine.

            > its author is very impressed with Kitchen's erudition, but I leave that one to your research.

            Well Kitchen like me is a snarky jerk. It is not laudable though it might be funny.

            >I'm replying in a bit of a snarky tone..

            I don't mind the snark at all. I actually resent the bad argument. Come on dude. Dr. B isn't afraid to use his academic know how to give the plebs a punch in the noise. I can take it.

            > it seems pretty clear to me that Kitchen's conclusions about the OT,
            when his work takes him outside his specialty, do not command widespread assent among researchers on ANE history.

            That is yer valid opinion but it is obvious and acknowledged by you above even his critics respect his work even if he is a rebel against the dominate minimalist school. But dude even Galileo was outside the mainstream in his day.

            >Oh well, neither of us is an ANE historian.

            That statement alone redeems you 100% in my eyes assuming that is worth something to you.

            Cheers & felicitations in honor of the season.

            PS. Gary H's claims however are still fringe nonsense IMHO. You are free to disagree.

          • Ficino

            Thanks. I had found Isbell's. There was no link to provide to the various academic reviews I quoted because they are behind pay walls. Their length is standard in academic journals. Book reviews I've written are usually submitted with a publisher's length limit of 2000 words or whatever. But a responsible reviewer reads the book carefully and uses his/her best grounds for assessment of evidence, argument, methodology, place within the field, contribution to the question at hand, etc. Rarely, a journal will publish a "review article" that might reach 10+ pages.

          • Jim the Scott

            Yer welcome and thank you in turn for giving me something challenging to respond too. It was a sheer delight. A lovely Christmas present for which I thank you good sir.

            Peace be with you.

          • Jim the Scott

            I no more believe the Exodus was an A-historical fiction than Kitchen does as I told you elsewhere. I am not a fundamentalist but you clear are GaryM which makes yer anti-religious polemics limiting.

          • Jim the Scott

            Gary M

            What part of "We are not fundamentalist here" do ye not understand?

            Exodus
            https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/the_historicity_of_the_exodus

          • michael

            It seems what Gary is asking for IS those premises.

          • Rob Abney

            You asked me if I knew the origin of the universe. I responded that I do not know. A simple answer to a simple question.

            How does this answer square with your belief in a creator God?

          • Gary M

            I do not believe in a Creator God, I simply believe it is rational to believe in a Creator God based on the available evidence. In other words, a Creator God may exist. I am undecided. However, it is not rational to believe that Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, or Lord Brahma is the Creator God.

          • Rob Abney

            If it is rational to believe in a creator God, then why do you consider it irrational to believe in Jesus Christ? It seems as if it would be irrational to believe in Jesus without a belief in God. But for someone to believe in God and then have rational thinking that also leads to belief in Jesus doesn't seem far-fetched. It seems as if you previously believed in Jesus without critically thinking about God and now you are accusing others of taking that same path.
            Have you ever read any proofs for God's existence?

          • Ellabulldog

            To be fair to the Dr. he certainly can be a critical thinker. He also can be a superstitious person that fears his mortality. That makes him human.
            We are all different in our nature and nurture.

            He has compartmentalized his faith from other aspects of how he thinks.

            It's all psychology and cognitive science.

            Religion can be studied using the social sciences.

          • Ficino

            Book of Wisdom
            13 Anyone who does not know God is simply foolish. Such people look at the good things around them and still fail to see the living God. They have studied the things he made, but they have not recognized the one who made them.

            Is this an argument? Or are we supposed to take it as true on authority, because it's in the Catholic Bible (though not in the Reformers')?

            "You guys" like to deride atheists for deriding believers as foolish. I note that your holy book derides my group and those like us as foolish. Maybe we should all drop the accusations?

          • Rob Abney

            Is this an argument?

            No, sorry, it was a question to a bible-believer, if he questioned Wisdom then he wouldn't question
            Romans 1:20
            20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[a] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

          • michael

            Demonstrations of a negative are possible. I can demonstrate there are no married bachelors or curved right angles.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            One clarification. I did not say that I deny the possibility of such personal experiences. I merely said I have had none. If I should have some in the future, I reserve the right to affirm them at that time. I am personally certain some people have had such experiences.

          • Jim the Scott

            Isn't it freakin hysterical how some people erroneously think a definitional term that defines something as "Not X" (thus excluding it from being X) is somehow equivalent to a scientific proof of a negative?

            Why can't some Atheists just accept there are garbage arguments against theism and you shouldn't use them? I mean to do so doesn't make God exist or them wrong. It just shows their lack of competence & laziness in doing proper research and learning proper critical thinking.

          • michael

            The Nile River turning into blood doesn't strike you as absurd? What about Herod Antipas being eaten alive by worms? The whole wide world being descended from just one lone couple? I've seen Christians call the Quranic story with talking birds and ants the stuff of fairy tales.

  • michael

    It doesn't make sense to think someone on their deathbed would or could think "Nah, I don't want the infinite joy of heaven, I'll settle for less 'cuz I still wanna rob banks! So hell it is!".

    • Gary M

      You would be correct, if the Christian Heaven and the Christian Hell were the only options. But Christianity is not the only exclusivist belief system on the planet. How much time, Michael, do you spend worrying about spending eternity in the Muslim Hell??

      I will bet just as much time as I spend worrying about the Christian Hell!

  • michael

    I disagree with this article for a number of reasons. it assumes the reader will just buy up into the idea of retributive justice, without using a premise to back it up. It doesn't take a premise and use it to lead to the conclusion "retributive justice is right". Also, it seems to presuppose that the reader agrees definition of good is "Actualized potential" or "fulfillment of purpose" rather than "fun and not hurting anyone". It also presupposes the reader will agree that anything, even people shrieking un unfathomable agony forever, is worth it if it can lead other people to heaven.

    Anyone christlike and kind enough to offer a premise-to-conclusion rebuttal? Or a free online source that gives one?

    • Mark

      I'm not kind enough, but there are free online sources that can tell you difference between a counter argument and a rebuttal.

      It seems you don't buy up into the idea of retributive justice. If I had any particular quibble with Dr. B's article it is that it may not have articulated well enough the well accepted concept of retribution with a divine retribution overlay. But that aside, google retribute and connect the dots. Any particular reason that this particular well established form of human social interaction/justice shouldn't be bought up into?

      • michael

        Humans don't send humans to jail for "Payback!", they to it to deter others form committing the same crime and to protect society.

        • Mark

          A retribute would be a pay back if someone suffered a financial loss from your negligence or illegal gain. A retribute can also be a reward for good merit.

          • michael

            Sending people to jail doe'n't fit under that category. And God is impassable and immutable, he cannot lose or gain anything from our "service" or "offenses".

          • Mark

            Sending people to jail is retributive in certain circumstances. The offender makes the sacrificial or is offered the merited retribution. You're not offering anything of substance here.

          • michael

            Sending someone to jail doesn't return stolen items or money. Don't play coy with me.

          • michael

            And as I pointed out, God by definition cannot lose or gain anything from us anyway.

      • michael

        Furthermore, attacking someone with the "He heh, It's payback time!" Attitude is revenge, not justice.

        • Mark

          Furthermore you still don't understand a retribute is not revenge.

  • michael

    Another problem with the article is it's claim in paragraph 5 pf the section "A specific solution" that hell is the damned person's fault "And no one else's". If you give someone 90% or 99% of a flight class and leave the rest for them to guess, and they guess wrong and a crash occurs, does the pilot alone have blame for the crash?

  • BTS

    I'm reading this little gem. Link below. A friend gave it to me as a Christmas present. I find it to be a convincing rebuttal of the OP.

    Dennis, you're not digging deeply enough into the history of Hell, the Judaic concept of hell (or complete lack theorof) and the early Church before Augustine came along and condemned unbaptized babies to the upper levels of hell. Also, like so many other issues in religion, this one is wholly dependent on the translation used. St. Jerome's Vulgate contributed greatly to the fire and brimstone that developed.

    Everything you're arguing for comes from the middle ages or from the magisterium or from what you call sophisticated common sense. If you research further back you'll see where it all gets off track. Gehenna is NOT hell. And it is NOT eternal.

    https://www.amazon.com/Raising-Hell-Christianitys-Controversial-Doctrine/dp/0984357815/ref=sr_1_fkmr4_1?keywords=raising+hell+date+to+question&qid=1577645168&sr=8-1-fkmr4

    Edit: ^^ It is entirely refreshing to me the book was not written by a theologian. It was written by an intelligent person with a desire to learn and access to the internet.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Don't be silly. I am not arguing for the existence of hell in the OP.

      I am taking what the Catholic Church teaches about the existence and nature of hell and examining its rational credibility using the principles of philosophy.

      That is precisely why I have end notes documenting where in the teaching of the Catholic Church these doctrines are defined or taught.

      If you want to believe other things about hell, go right ahead. Just don't call it the Catholic doctrine about hell.

      • BTS

        I replied to this but Disqus swallowed my reply. And so it goes.

  • Dennis Bonnette

    C. S. Lewis gives an interesting argument for the need for retributive justice. He says that it is good for evil to be judged because for it to otherwise evade retributive justice would in fact excuse what is wrong, thus perpetuating evil. To be judged implies punishment.

    One must not confuse retributive justice by God with simple revenge by human beings. We may seek to get back at someone. But God is not in our position, since he is the Supreme Lawgiver. If he fails to administer retributive justice, then some evils will go unjudged, as C.S. Lewis points out. This would be simply wrong, since it would allow the evil to stand without any counterbalance. Evil would win, which is something that no one should tolerate, especially if He is the one who established the law that is being violated, and even more especially, if He is Goodness in Itself.

    In the Problem of Pain (93-94), Lewis explains the reason retributive punishment is a genuine value in itself:

    "“Some enlightened people would like to banish all conceptions of retribution or desert from their theory of punishment and place its value wholly in the deterrence of others or the reform of the criminal himself. They do not see that by so doing they render all punishment unjust. What can be more immoral than to inflict suffering on me for the sake of deterring others if I do not deserve it? And if I do deserve it, you are admitting the claims of ‘retribution’. And what can be more outrageous than to catch me and submit me to a disagreeable process of moral improvement without my consent, unless (once more) I deserve it?"

    In a word, retributive justice requires that the punishment fit the crime, which requires that lesser crimes should have lesser punishments, while greater crimes require greater punishments. It also entails that no crime should go entirely unpunished and that the offender admit guilt and show repentance.

    What is God to do with someone who won't repent? What is he to do with someone who would prefer to reign in hell than serve in heaven? Lucifer is alleged even to this day to be unrepentant. Should God forgive and forget anyway -- even though repentance is eternally absent?

    This is why I said in the article, "This means that it is good that God punish the wicked as part of his overall plan of creating and governing a good and just world."

    This comment is solely about retributive justice. The OP deals with other objections.

    • michael

      This presumes people aren't aiming for deterrence and the safety of society when they say "he deserves it".

  • Dennis Bonnette

    @Sample1:disqus
    While there are a few other commenters on this web site whom I have suspected of committing this "grave" anti-societal act from time to time, I vaguely recall you actually confessing to the crime in one of your comments where you admitted that you frequently comment on my articles without having first read them.

    Therefore, I thought I had best bring to everyone's attention the following linked news report informing all of American society about the "ultimate penalty" that may now await those guilty of this aforementioned indescribable offense against common human decency:

    https://babylonbee.com/news/supreme-court-oks-death-penalty-commenting-articles-without-reading

    • michael

      As someone who has likely read Edward fever's work, could you please be so kind as to give your view of how accurate of a description of his stance would you consider this very brief article to be? Particularly the part about gravity and hydrogen atoms which is followed by citation note #6: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Edward_Feser

      • Dennis Bonnette

        I do not read Dr. Feser's blog all the time.

        So, I do not want to risk the death penalty.

        • Jim the Scott

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Edward_Feser

          Wow the people who edit the Rationalwiki aren't all that rational or intelligent. Plus it is clear none of them can tell the difference between metaphysics vs physics.

          Who ever made up that entry is smoking some serious crak either that or they mistook the Rational Wiki for The Onion.

          The later seems the more plausible explanation.

          • michael

            I've read the article that the rationalwiki page links to, it really does say that Feser says things fall because they are "oriented to" and that an eel "contains the form of numbness". So it isn't rationalwioi's word's but that of the article cited on it.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I've read the article that the rationalwiki page links to,

            But you haven't read Feser. You are only read the comically inept claims of a Newspaper columnist and a mere biologist commenting very badly on philosophy.

            > it really does say that Feser says things fall because they are "oriented to" and that an eel "contains the form of numbness".

            So what? Christopher Howse and Jerry Coyne still can't tell the difference between metaphysics vs physics and their articles are clearly products of excessive crak smoking and unexamined positivism.

            > So it isn't rationalwioi's word's but that of the article cited on it.

            The article doesn't cite Feser directly or specifically so it is clearly worthless. Like reading an Article on Dawkins over at the YEC wiki only twice as incompetent.

            Michael yer willful anti-intellectualism astounds me. You are not in anyway a serious student of Atheism or a plausible critic of Classic Theism. In spite of all my haranguing. You just don't want to do any homework.

            I wash my hands of you son.

          • michael

            The inept claims of a catholic newspaper writer who read and agrees with Feser's book? The linked article in question is a review for a book by fewer, written by someone who read and agrees with it.

          • Jim the Scott

            >The inept claims of a catholic newspaper writer who read and agrees with Feser's book?

            What nonsense are you banging on about? The only reviews linked in that article are by Coyne and Howe both New Atheist twits. Neither of those guy agree with Feser or are Catholic.

            Go home Mike.

      • Mark

        So gravity is explained not by curvature of spacetime but the fact that stones naturally seek the centre of the Earth, and forming water via reaction is the final end of oxygen and hydrogen.[6] To most people this may appear monumentally nonsensical in comparison with Newtonian or Einsteinian physics, but maybe we should ask the stone what it's doing. If you believe that stones have a final purpose, it's not that far a step in terms of credulity to claim that God exists, but that's not really a strong argument for the existence of God... His opinion about unicorns is unrecorded.

        michael you're laughing at a lowbrow joke because you think it's smartly facetious. That's actually what is funny. Carry on.

        • michael

          So you're just going to ridicule the question instead of seriously answering? I am actually expecting a serious answer.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Looking at that RationalWiki article on Dr. Feser to which you link, it appears to me that the ridicule is being aimed at Dr. Feser, which is good reason not to dignify it with a response.

          • michael

            But it actually includes a citation note, as I pointed out. I do expect a serious answer.

          • michael

            I've also found that he allegedly thinks it is not the interaction of electrons from an el with the nervous system that causes numbness, but rather that an eel "contains the form of numbness":

  • Ficino

    I cannot fathom how Disqus is ordering combox posts. Dr. Bonnette and I had several exchanged posts about Raymond Brown (not terribly germane to the OP), and I'd think they would appear in the order they were written. But nope, they are not underneath the post to which they were replying. And so on.

    Brandon, are you still moderating SN? It's getting to be a time waster to hunt for posts and not find them, or to write things and have them disappear.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Right, Ficino. Also, my private alerts to comments from others is some four days behind already and no new ones are being listed. So I have to look for any in the list of comments on the right. But that means that if they have gone off the bottom of the list, I will likely never even see them, or if I am aware of one, I will never find it inside the thread with over 300 comments!

      I am not sure Brandon can fix this, since I suspect Disgus itself is the source of the problem. You may not believe in the Devil, but I sometimes suspect that Disgus is him in Disguise. (Note the spelling similarity!!!)

      • Ficino

        Some other blogs that use disqus don't display this level of dysfunction, as far as I can see.

        Anyway, happy new year.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          But you don't understand! This web site is more germaine to diabolic interests! :)

          Happy New Year to you, too!

          • Ficino

            I did receive private email alerts to your two last posts shortly after you wrote them. But most of the time lately, I am not getting alerts, or getting them days late, as you are.

  • arkenaten

    The biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. Born, raised, lived and died a Jew.
    The Christian notion of Hell as described in this article is a church construct, alien to Judaism, and would have been considered anathema to Jesus.
    Furthermore, that this ridiculous and utterly repugnant doctrine is inculcated into children is tantamount to child abuse.

    • Craig Roberts

      The Christian notion of hell comes straight from the mouth of Jesus. It might be argued that the Jews rejected Jesus and his words and therefore don't ascribe to the doctrine, but anybody that thinks that Jesus would reject the doctrine of "hell" has not read the New Testament. Hell, Jesus is the one that invented the doctrine.

      Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matt 25:41)

      • arkenaten

        Nonsense. Jesus would have referred to Gehenna.
        Anyone who does not know this does not understand the bible.

        • Craig Roberts

          So you are saying that Matthew misquoted Jesus?

          • arkenaten

            Who's Matthew?

          • Craig Roberts

            Like I said...has not read the New Testament.

          • arkenaten

            Who's Matthew?

        • David Nickol

          Are you questioning Matthew 25:41 itself? Or the above translation? Every English translation I have checked is similar, and although I do not read Greek, it is still clear from an interlinear translation that Jesus does not mention Gehenna in this context but speaks of eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

      • David Nickol

        Hell, Jesus is the one that invented the doctrine.

        The ideas expressed by Jesus about punishment in an afterlife did not originate with him but predate his life and ministry. He was speaking in terms that would already have been familiar to his Jewish contemporaries.

        • Craig Roberts

          True. But the world would be completely unaware of these esoteric ancient Jewish beliefs if Jesus had not (reportedly) said them.

          "Invented" is probably the wrong word.

          • David Nickol

            But the world would be completely unaware of these esoteric ancient Jewish beliefs if Jesus had not (reportedly) said them.

            First, the ideas still exist in Jewish literature and Jewish thought, although it is true that Judaism has not developed "doctrines" about the afterlife in the way Christianity has.

            Second, I don't think it is possible to say what contemporary thought and belief about such things would be like if Jesus had said one thing rather than another, or had not been recorded as saying anything at all, or had not said anything at all (whether or not he existed). You could write an alternate history of the past 2000 years and make all kinds of conjectures, but it would basically be a work of science fiction or fantasy.

  • God Hates Faith

    Only a moral monster would create a hell for disobeying his rules.

    If I could create rules, I would not want my children to suffer for not wanting to be with me, or not loving me.

    • Rob Abney

      But would you force your adult children to live with you even if your place was a much better place to be, if they didn’t want to?

      • God Hates Faith

        I would make their place as good as mine.

        • Rob Abney

          The only way to make their place as good as yours, if you are God, is for you to be there also, but since they reject being with you you have forced yourself upon them.

          • michael

            I wouldn't have children at all under such circumstances. Or i'd make the children cease one exist.

          • Rob Abney

            Your way would deny the possibility of love.

          • michael

            Love would not be worth it under such circumstances.

  • Dennis Bonnette

    @Sample1:disqus

    I posed the following reply to you deep in the thread, but received no reply.

    Can you think of an easy-to-vary explanation for the following, beginning with a quote from you?

    "Reason is the one, as far as I know, brute fact that is impossible to vary. "

    Am I safe to assume that you take reason as the ultimate and absolute standard of truth?

    While that would not be exactly how I would ground my own perspective, it is close enough for me to pose this question:

    If the laws of reality (being) do not absolutely comport with the laws of reason, then, it seems to me, that reason itself serves no purpose -- and all knowledge is in vain.

    But, if the laws of reality do comport with the laws of reason, then the fundamental laws of being must be true and universal, for example, the laws of non-contradiction and sufficient reason -- since these are absolutely demanded by reason.

  • Craig Roberts

    "Perhaps, the misuse of free will by certain creatures (angelic or human) has led to the introduction of evils unintended by God."

    How can an all powerful God allow anything unintentional? If He did not intend it then he is not all powerful.

    • michael

      The idea they have is they teaches that god has his "Absolute will" and then his (I forget the word here) will". So a baby falling off a changing tale and dying "is'nt part of God's plan, but it does'nt thwart god's plan".

  • michael

    Something that crossed my mind a few minutes ago: In a videotaped debate with (I think) Dan Barker posted on catholic Answers' youtube channel, the catholic speaker ( think it was Trent Horn) responded to dan's statement that it would be "Unconsiencable" to praise a being that would allow hell and that dan "would not praise Jesus even if Jesus appeared in person" to him, that Dan had "pride" and was being "arrogant". Dan replied that he'd merely by using the intellect God gave him. Trnet also said that we are not to rely on the word of a dictator to judge morality, and that God is not a dictator, but that we should rely on natural moral law.

    The way I see it, in order for Trent to be consistent, then if God were to, say, hypothetically, tell Trent to, say, administer an abortion, or torture a kitten, then it would be "pride" and "arrogance" for Trent to disagree with God. But this would require Trent to go against what The Natural Moral Law guided by the light of reason would tell him is right.

    • Jim the Scott

      So you really didn't read that article on Feser from the falsely called Rational Wiki or the links in the bibliography?

      https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/06/taking-aquinas-seriously

      "First, you cannot properly understand the problem of evil without understanding the nature of God’s causal relationship to the world. Second, you cannot properly understand the problem of evil if you conceive of God in anthropomorphic terms—as something like a human agent, only bigger and stronger. If the world is like a story, God is not a character in the story alongside other characters; he is like the author of the story. And just as it makes no sense to think of an author as being unjust to his characters, neither does it make sense to think of God as being unjust to his creatures. While God is perfectly good, it is a deep mistake to think that this entails that he is a kind of cosmic Boy Scout, and that the problem of evil is a question about whether he deserves all his merit badges. Davies also shows how, from a Thomistic point of view, the approach to the problem of evil taken by contemporary philosophers of religion like Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne is misguided and presupposes too anthropomorphic a conception of God."Ed Feser

      Dan Barker is an ex-Fundamentalist Protestant who clearly had an erroneous view of God even while he was a believer.

      Hell is clearly "just". Just like it is just that if I step off the side of a tall building I fall down. If you reject fellowship with Goodness Itself you will continue yer existence in privation of fellowship with Goodness Itself. Otherwise known as Damnation.

      We explained this all to you before Mike yet you insist on wasting everybody's time with a "god" we don't believe in?

      Why do you think that is an intelligent way to polemic religion?

      Can I get a clear answer from you or will you devolve back into "No Fair you are not a Fundamentalist" mode?

    • Mark

      Michael you might heed some advice the well respected atheist Kevin Parson had for your boy Coyne:

      When a philosophical pro such as ­Feser subjects their (Coyne's) texts to an an appropriately astringent analysis, he makes their logical lacunae and sophomoric mistakes glaringly obvious.
      If what is done by Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and Coyne is the “new” atheism, then I am an ­unapologetic advocate of “old” atheism. That is, I favor atheist advocacy that is argument-dense and skips the invective. Lampooning your opponents as ignorant Bible-beaters may be lowbrow fun, but it is bad manners, and, more to the point, ineffective. Don’t call them names. Defeat their arguments. That is the worst thing you can do to them. However, defeating your opponents’ arguments requires (a) taking their best arguments seriously, and (b) doing your philosophical homework. “Old” atheism is therefore hard. Caricaturing with broad strokes is easy, but it cannot be said to advance rational debate.

      https://www.firstthings.com/article/2016/04/letters

      Please stop with the lowbrow dissent and defeat the arguments. God can no more tell someone to administer an abortion than make a rock so heavy he can't lift.

      • Jim the Scott

        >Please stop with the lowbrow dissent and defeat the arguments.

        Thank you!!!!!!