• Strange Notions Strange Notions Strange Notions

How can the God of the Philosophers be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?



Doubt and questioning are a part of the Christian faith. In Randal Rauser's new book, Conversations with My Inner Atheist, the Christian theologian and apologist explores his own doubts and questions by way of an internal conversation with his own inner atheist, Mia (i.e., "My Inner Atheist.") This article is a chapter drawn from the book in which Randal and Mia explore the question of how one can identify the God of the philosophers with the God described in the Bible.


Mia: I have a feeling you just danced around that last question but fine, whatever: here’s another problem. And this one goes to the heart of what Christians say about God.

Randal: Sounds good, I’m ready.

Mia: Okay, here goes. The God of the Bible is a being who has emotions (John 3:16; Psalm 5:5), he grows angry (Psalm 106:40), learns (Genesis 18:21), changes his mind (Jonah 3:10), has regrets (Genesis 6:6), has a body and face (Exodus 33:18-20), and sits on a throne (Psalm 103:19). That’s how the Bible describes God.

But then theologians and philosophers come along and say, oh, no, wait, God doesn’t actually have emotions, he doesn’t really grow angry. He doesn’t learn or change his mind; in fact, he has no regrets, no body, face or throne on which he sits. Instead, here’s what God really is: he is an impassible, eternal, non-physical, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent being. Yeah, that’s it!

In other words, he’s completely different from the being actually described in the Bible.

Forgive me, but it looks like you’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. When you have two completely different descriptions the only conclusion is that these aren’t the same being at all.

How can the God of the Bible be the same being as this God of the Philosophers? You need to choose!

Randal: Yes, many people have sensed that tension. Your framing is well chosen, too: the great French philosopher Pascal famously attributed a mystical experience he had to “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not the God of the Philosophers.”

Mia: Great minds think alike.

I’ll level with you here: it seems to me that the reason theologians and philosophers gravitate to the God of the Philosophers is because they are embarrassed by the God of the Bible. They don’t know what to do with him. He isn’t sophisticated and respectable.

He appears capricious, mean, and unpredictable. He’s a finite being, located in spacetime and he has a body and learns and has regrets: in other words, he is little more than a glorified human being, no different in that respect than the gods of ancient Greece.

Randal: I understand that that may be your perception, but maybe I can help you with your incredulity. Imagine, for a moment the response of an average man when he first learns that according to the scientists, the heavy oak chair on which he is sitting is composed of vibrating packets of energy in empty space. Picture his incredulity. No doubt, he’d be thinking how can you possibly hope to unify these two utterly incompatible pictures of reality? A heavy oak chair that is somehow also vibrating packets of energy in empty space? It makes no sense. Obviously these are really just two different things, right?

But of course, it does make sense if one can understand that these are both legitimate descriptions and that they operate at different explanatory levels. The description of a heavy oak chair captures the everyday experience while the description of vibrating packets of energy provides the physicist’s description of that same reality.

By analogy, the God who acts in history, who learns, changes his mind, grows angry and the like may capture the perception of the everyday Christian. At the same time, the theologian describes God as having particular attributes such as eternality, impassibility, and omnipresence.

Mia: I have no problem with the basic idea of how a physicist arrives at her description of the oak chair. But how do you justify moving from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to that abstraction debated by theologians and philosophers?

Randal: The first thing you need to recognize is that theology is not simply a product of reading the Bible and counting up the verses that support your view. Rather, it is a matter of reading the Bible in a complex process of reflective equilibrium.

Mia: Reflective what?

Randal: You reflect on Scripture in light of your rational and moral intuitions and reasoning, the reading traditions of your background community—like the priority of John 3:16 in understanding salvation— and personal and communal experience. All of these sources inform theological reasoning and together we can see how they bring a theologian stepwise from the experience of the person in the pew to the technical description of God employed by the professional theologian or philosopher.

Mia: That all sounds nice, but unless you can fill in the details, I’m going to suspect you are merely trying to justify the fact that you want to ignore all the Bible’s embarrassing details.

Randal: Pardon me, but can you fill in all the details from the quantum description of the chair to the experience of the man sitting in it?

Mia: Who’s askin’?

Randal: Yeah, I didn’t think so. So maybe you could cut me some slack.

Mia: I don’t claim to be a physicist. But, uh, you do claim to be a theologian.

Randal: Touché. Okay, perhaps I can say a bit more about one specific topic of theology: metaphysics.

Mia: ‘Metaphysics’ as in crystals and gurus and auras?

Randal: Goodness no, I mean metaphysics as in the area of philosophy that concerns our basic convictions about the structure and nature of the world. Just as everyone engages in philosophical reflection so everyone has a metaphysic, a set of beliefs about the nature of ultimate reality. A very basic part of philosophical reflection involves turning our drive for conceptual clarification toward our basic metaphysical commitments. As I said, the fact is that everyone has a philosophy and a metaphysic whether we recognize it or not, and it is important to become aware of what our philosophical views are and how they shape our thinking. As Fergus Kerr observes,

“If theologians proceed in the belief that they need neither examine nor acknowledge their inherited metaphysical commitments, they will simply remain prisoners of whatever philosophical school was in the ascendant 30 years earlier, when they were first year students.” (Theology After Wittgenstein (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), 3.)

So it’s not like I’m reading the Bible through my philosophy and metaphysic while the guy who believes God literally experiences emotion and changes his mind is free of philosophy and metaphysics.

Rather, we’re both interpreting the text and engaging in theological and philosophical reflection as we go. As Alister McGrath puts it, philosophical theology is simply concerned with “the clarification of ideas.” (Christian Theology: An Introduction, 6th ed. (Wiley Blackwell, 2017), 91.) And we could all use more clarity in our thinking about God. So the question is not whether we shall think theologically and philosophically about these issues but rather whether we will do it well.

Mia: But I’m still not clear how you actually get to that philosopher’s abstraction based on the earthy and very human depiction of God in the Bible.

Randal: It might help to consider how we get to one big metaphysical claim in particular—the claim that God is perfect—because a lot flows from that one claim. The great medieval philosopher Anselm argued that when you reflect on the concept of God you arrive at a definition like this: God is that being than which none greater can be conceived.

Mia: Huh? What’s that even supposed to mean?

Randal: Put simply, it means that God is the greatest possible being, there is none greater. Now I have surveyed seminary students for almost twenty years by asking them “Do you think God is the most perfect being there could be?” Time and again, they agree.

In all that time, I’ve never had a single student say that God would be anything less than perfect. They might question our grasp of perfection, but they don’t question that God is perfect.

I think their intuitions in that regard are spot on. And that means that if we encounter passages in the Bible that depict God acting in ways that appear to be very far from perfect, we have one of two options: we can either revise our understanding of perfection or we can revise our reading of the passage in question.

So for example, the Bible depicts God changing his mind, having regrets, learning, growing angry, hating people, lashing out in rage, and so on.

Are these behaviors consistent with perfection? Christian theologians will disagree. But what I would hope we can appreciate is that when a theologian ends up with an understanding of God that looks rather different from some of the depictions in the Bible, she did not arrive at that picture by plucking it arbitrarily out of thin air. Rather, she reasoned to it carefully, informed by several factors including a basic intuitive conception of perfection read in critical dialogue with Scripture and informed by tradition, personal experience, and reason.

Thus, we can conclude that the one God that exists necessarily is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Just as the heavy oak chair is the same object as that particular collection of vibrating packets of energy so the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same perfect being as is described by the philosophers.

The next step in each case is to explore various models to justify these identity claims and reconcile any tension between them. And that’s what systematic theology is all about.

Admittedly, that was a very quick summary, but hopefully you can at least get a sense of how one can unite these two seemingly incompatible conceptions of God.


Pick up your copy of Conversations with My Inner Atheist: A Christian Apologist Explores Questions that Keep People Up at Night.

Dr. Randal Rauser

Written by

Dr. Randal Rauser is Professor of Historical Theology at Taylor Seminary where he has taught since 2003. He is the author of many books including What on Earth do we Know About Heaven? (Baker, 2013); The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails (InterVarsity, 2012); Is the Atheist My Neighbor? (Cascade, 2015); An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar: Talking about God, the Universe, and Everything (Prometheus Books, 2016); and his most recent book, What's So Confusing About Grace? (Two Cup Press, 2017)"Randal also blogs and podcasts at RandalRauser.com and lectures widely on Christian worldview and apologetics.

Note: Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted. Before commenting please read the Commenting Rules and Tips. If you're having trouble commenting, read the Commenting Instructions.

  • Skeptic_Thinking_Power

    Thanks for the brief preview Dr. Rauser. I do agree with you that theistic personalists such as Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, and others can marry the concept of a theistic personalist conception of God with the God of the Bible, however I don't think this task is possible for Classical Theists (and Catholics who are Classical Theists). I have read Dr. Eleonore Stump's outstanding Aquinas Lecture The God of the Bible and the God of the Philosophers but I still have misgivings that I will briefly outline here:

    Classical Theism and the Problem of Extrinsic Change:

    https://youtu.be/MK46WgOxF1k

    The Aloneness Argument Against Classical Theism:

    https://youtu.be/3hCRGwNtW80

    Answering Classical Theist Objections to Neo-Classical Theism:

    https://youtu.be/X_lqqWSNtLs

    Recently a member of the Real Atheology podcast debated Fr. Gregory Pine on the Pints With Aquinas show hosted by Matt Fradd. Unlike some of the prior New Atheists who have no idea what they are talking about, the Atheist interlocutor in this exchange was clearly informed and prepared well for the issue. He offered arguments that Fr. Pine did not adequately respond too and provided some decisive critiques of Aquinas' first three ways (which Fr. Pine utilized to make his opening case). The Atheist interlocutor drew out a lot of the tensions with the Classical Theist position.

    https://youtu.be/0QMwHUijmqo

    • Rob Abney

      Can you support your claims with some details rather than hours of YouTube? I listened to the Pine Watkins debate and do not recall Fr. Pine failing to respond adequately.

      • Skeptic_Thinking_Power

        Just a dialectic note here. I think if Thomists are justified sending Atheists of to read the Summa Contra-Gentiles, Lectures of Ed Feser and a whole host of academic material, similarly I am justified in citing robust and philosophically informed videos that look at these issues in a clear way.

        Despite this I will briefly respond to your comments.

        Ben Made 3 Arguments:

        I. The Bayesian Argument from Evolutionary Evil
        II. The Argument from Modal Collapse
        III. The Argument from Changing Knowledge.

        Fr. Pine dropped the Argument from Evil in his first rebuttal, but responded to it later by citing Herbert McCabe's view about God not being a moral agent. This doesn't seem to work. Even if God is not an agent on classical theism, he is still identical to his act of creating, sustaining, loving, knowing, etc. Actions can be morally evaluated. Hence, there remains a question as to whether God is a good action, a bad one, or a neutral one. The evolutionary argument from evil constitutes powerful evidence that God is a bad action.

        For the Knowledge Argument. Fr. Pine cited Boethius's view that all of time is present to God. [paraphrasing] This seems incoherent; if the future doesn't exist, then it cannot be *anything*, precisely because it is *literally* nothing -- it doesn't exist, simpliciter, full-stop. And hence it cannot be present to God. It's like saying a unicorn is present to God. It can't be present to God because a unicorn doesn't exist to be present to anything in the first place.
        He also didn't pinpoint which premise he rejected. He seems to agree that God cannot acquire anything new. But then he has to reject that God can acquire new knowledge. But then, since knowledge presupposes truth, he has to accept that nothing changes in truth value. And that just seems absurd -- clearly something changes in truth value. Indeed, so long as there is any change in reality (e.g. S going from being F to being ~F), there will be changes in truth value concerning such changes (e.g. it goes from being true that S is F to being false that S is F [upon S's becoming ~F]).

        For the Argument from Modal Collapse, I didn't see how Fr. Pine was able to evade the issue on Divine Simplicity. He kept on saying that Ben was "anthropomorphising" God, when in reality Ben made a clear distinction between Classical Theism and Theistic Personalism, noting that God (instead of being a being or person) is instead the ground of all being or being itself. Or as Aquinas would put it. God is ipsum esse subsistens or Purus Actus.

        Fr. Pine made 3 Arguments. He simply grouped the first 3 ways together as a cumulative case for Thomistic cosmological arguments. Ben offered several robust objections:

        I. Quantifier Shift Fallacy, namely that it doesn’t follow that there’s a first cause of all chains of changes from the fact that for each such chain, it has a first cause. even if things that have per se efficient causes have a unique first per se efficient causes, there are no obvious reasons why all things must have the same first per se efficient cause.

        II. Existential Inertia, namely that is insufficiently justified as to why something needs an actualization of its very existence.

        III. Unactualized Actualizer =/= Pure Actuality, namely that it is insufficiently justified as to why the unactualized actualizer is pure actuality.

        IV. The possibility of a beginningless per se series.

        There were a few others mentioned in the comments, but these were the main ones I found. I did not see how Fr. Pine responded to any of these. Keep in mind there were a sizable amount of Catholics who felt that Ben did an excellent job and won the debate as well.

        • Jim the Scott

          Well if I may take a crack at this.

          >Fr. Pine dropped the Argument from Evil in his first rebuttal, but responded to it later by citing Herbert McCabe's view about God not being a moral agent. This doesn't seem to work.

          By definition it does. You cannot accuse God of being a Bad X if God is not any sort of X in the first place. Special pleading that God must somehow be a moral agent is not a rebuttal. In principle his argument is a non starter. You cannot make any sort of moral argument against a Classic Theistic view of God anymore than you can cause someone to doubt Pantheism by refuting the Kalam Cosmological Argument. The Kalam presupposes a creator God and a Pantheistic God is not a Creator but is identical with the so called creation.

          Sorry STP but this is sophistry.

          > Even if God is not an agent on classical theism, he is still identical to his act of creating, sustaining, loving, knowing, etc.

          One assume you are not thinking of the scholastic definitions of those terms? God's "love" is willing the Good for something. It is not an emotional sentiment.

          > Actions can be morally evaluated.

          Only if the actor has moral obligations & is a moral agent and how do you get that with a God who by definition isn't a moral agent? You simply can't. You disagree? Refute Pantheism by showing the KALAM is false. In fact I will make it easy. If we assume the KALAM is false how does that disprove pantheism? It doesn't! A Pantheistic God is not a creator. Disproving the creation of the universe cannot in principle disprove that concept of God. One would need to come up with another argument. Sorry but this whole line of thought is special pleading STP.

          >Hence, there remains a question as to whether God is a good action, a bad one, or a neutral one. The evolutionary argument from evil constitutes powerful evidence that God is a bad action.

          Without a metaphysical definition of Good or Evil or Bad or Good then this is just more argument from ad hoc special pleading & fallacies of equivocation my friend.

          >For the Knowledge Argument. Fr. Pine cited Boethius's view that all of time is present to God. [paraphrasing] This seems incoherent; if the future doesn't exist, then it cannot be *anything*, precisely because it is *literally* nothing -- it doesn't exist, simpliciter, full-stop. And hence it cannot be present to God.

          As Feser would say here you are assuming God's knowledge is something He observes or senses. God knows the future by knowing Himself willing what the future will become. William Lane Craig makes this mistake too. Which is why his denial of divine timelessness is off.

          > It's like saying a unicorn is present to God. It can't be present to God because a unicorn doesn't exist to be present to anything in the first place.

          Rather God wills a changing world and the future exists when God causes it to become the present in succession of another present which ceases to exist when it becomes the past. God knows that future because He knows Himself as the Cause of It not because He foresees the Future like He is Cosmic Yoda. So many corrections.

          >He also didn't pinpoint which premise he rejected. He seems to agree that God cannot acquire anything new. But then he has to reject that God can acquire new knowledge.

          God doesn't acquire knowledge of the future God knows which future He wants to make actual and wills it to come to pass from all eternity. How do ye not know this?

          Dude this is some serious theistic personalist nonsense? This isn't Classic Theism at all! You are recycling valid arguments one might make against a timeless Theistic Personalist deity who observes or learns etc....but this isn't Classic Theism.

          Let me skip ahead.

          >He kept on saying that Ben was "anthropomorphising" God,

          Sounds like he is right. Wrong "god" guys.

          > when in reality Ben made a clear distinction between Classical Theism and Theistic Personalism,

          I am a classic Theist and so far as I can tell yer arguments really presuppose a Theistic Personalist deity whom you apply a lot of special pleading and equivocation too in order to make it fit that procrustian bed. BTW isn't this the same kid who thinks the persons of the Trinity are the same a divine attributes? Because I am doubting his competence here.

          >noting that God (instead of being a being or person) is instead the ground of all being or being itself. Or as Aquinas would put it. God is ipsum esse subsistens or Purus Actus.

          Yet by definition none of his arguments can be applied coherently to such a God without serious equivocations and special pleadings. You cannot in principle rationally argue God is a bad X if God is not any sort of X whatsoever. It can't logically or coherently be done.

          >Keep in mind there were a sizable amount of Catholics who felt that Ben did an excellent job and won the debate as well.

          Dude I have been Catholic for 52 years and I know first hand yer average Catholic is a theological & philosophical peasant. I blame the Bishops since and I have attended religious instruction which taught me nothing of what I know today which I learned later in life.

          Statements like this never fail to leave me unimpressed.

          Anyway cheer STP.

    • Ben Champagne

      Agree with Rob. Watkins didn't meet a single epistemic burden in that debate. He mostly waffled around misunderstandings and I don't see how you can even try to suggest that such a debate in any way exposes classical theism via abrahamic religions to scrutiny. Feel free to actually provide more than assertion here.

      • Jim the Scott

        It is a waste of time anyway. We Catholics can and do shut down any Atheist with whom we are disputing the Bible with using the words "That is not how we interpret the Bible".

        I don't know why they don't learn this lesson?

        • WCB-2

          But the question remains, is the Bible worth bothering with at all? The numerous contradictions, silly folk tales, nonsense like Noah's ark, Tower of Babel, and faux histories like all of Exodus - Joshua demonstrate the Bible cannot be a true revelation from any God. A true revelation from God would have to be far different than the Bible.

          Since the Council of Trent tells us God is the author of the Bible, that claim seems to be falsified by the state of the Bible's contents.

          Therefore any interpretation you offer is not viable. For example, Catholic dogma clearly states that the serpent in Eden was Satan. But a careful reading shows it was just a beast, not a malevolent being called Satan. Otherwise, why would God condemn the descents of the snake to lose limbs, eat dust and be forever enemies of man and vice versa? And the Pentateuch has no mention of Satan as a malevolent divine being, that was a much later addition to the Israelite religion.

          Obviously, the writers of these dogmas can't be right. But Catholics are stuck with it, unless the Council Of Trent has been abrogated.

          Any atheists who knows these facts then will not care at all how you want to interpret the Bible.

          • Jim the Scott

            >But the question remains, is the Bible worth bothering with at all?

            Not for Atheist who argue with well informed believing Catholics since we are not Fundamentalists. You lot spend yer time tuffing with the fundies but yer objections you use on them are non-starters with us.

            >The numerous contradictions, silly folk tales, nonsense like Noah's ark, Tower of Babel, and faux histories like all of Exodus - Joshua demonstrate the Bible cannot be a true revelation from any God. A true revelation from God would have to be far different than the Bible.

            For example all yer objections here are based on yer personal interpretation of the Bible. Not ours and we believe in our interpretation not yer self serving other than our interpretation. So in principle you cannot argue the Bible with us. You need to focus on philosophy.

            >Since the Council of Trent tells us God is the author of the Bible, that claim seems to be falsified by the state of the Bible's contents.

            But Trent doesn't say Holy Writ is clear and always plain in its meaning and is to be interpreted authoritatively by the average Joe apart from the Church.
            So now what? We know what is says and Trent said God authored it threw the sacred writers but what does it mean?

            Let us take another example. The Soviet Constitution says citizens of the USSR have the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religions and the right to be Atheists and to spread Atheism.

            So why was there so much religious repression in the USSR given they had what looks to us like a first amendment> Well for one thing they didn't interpret or write there Constitution based on the post enlightenment philosophy of John Stuart Mill but on the Dialectical Materialist philosophy of Marxism. So they put more emphasis on the freedom to be an Atheist and spread Atheism part at the expense of the former religious freedom part. Which was natural to their tradition.

            Here you are trying to re-interpret Catholic sacred texts and dogmatic councils in a manner contrary to Catholic and Scholastic philosophy and that somehow is gonna convince us there is something wrong with those texts and councils? Yeh good luck with that buddy. That is just plain bonkers even if there is no god. I learned that lession from a brillant Atheist. God bless him whereever he is right now.

            >Therefore any interpretation you offer is not viable.

            So Pope Francis stepped down and yer the Pope? Sure pal.....

            > For example, Catholic dogma clearly states

            I would lay bets what will follow will be dead wrong but nobody wants to take that bet. It is like betting on a race horse missing three legs. Why?

            >that the serpent in Eden was Satan.

            That is what the serpent according to tradition symbolizes. Like the Trinity invoked in the Don Mclean song represents Richie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper not literally God.

            > But a careful reading shows it was just a beast, not a malevolent being called Satan.

            Congratulations! You managed to put forth an argument more silly and worst then any that @Michael made in the past and he gave me some whoppers but you have surpassed him is sillyness. I am most entertained. Mike told me it was impossible for anybody to take Psalms 91:4 and interpret it to mean God literally had wings and here you are claiming the serpent is literally a talking snake. I love it! Thank you!

            >Otherwise, why would God condemn the descents of the snake to lose limbs, eat dust and be forever enemies of man and vice versa?

            Wow! So I am betting the odds are high you believe psalm 91:4 mandates we believe God is Cosmic Mega Space Chicken because of the wings and feathers.

            Scratch a Gnu Atheist find a fundamentalist.

            >And the Pentateuch has no mention of Satan as a malevolent divine being, that was a much later addition to the Israelite religion.

            Except we Catholics don't take the Pentateuch as the sole rule of Faith. We are not Sadducee Jews. We are Christian. Wrong religion buddy.

            >Obviously, the writers of these dogmas can't be right. But Catholics are stuck with it, unless the Council Of Trent has been abrogated.

            I won't hold my breath waiting for you to show me where Trent endorse the doctrine of the Saffucees that the Torah alone sans the Prophets and Writings and Oral Law is the sole authority.

            You are really bad at this son.

            >Any atheists who knows these facts then will not care at all how you want to interpret the Bible.

            I don't appeal to the Bible when arguing with Atheists. They don't accept it so why would I do something so futile and foolish. I start with philosophy and the philosophical arguments for the existence of God and go on from there.
            Unless you establish God first what is the point in arguing the Bible?

            I am not a fundamentalist. Unlike some of us(meaning you).

          • WCB-2

            I am no fundamentalist. The RCC is, reading the Council of Trent. God is the author of the Holy Bible, all 66 listed books of it.

            Noah's flood is not my interpretation. It is simply not true as competent geologists have known since the days of Hutton and Lyell.

            The differing tall tales of Genesis are obviously not true. You cannot escape that by claiming it is only my personal interpretation.

            The silly claim the snake was Satan, as the church dogmatically claims is not true. Any competent person not wedded to a dogma so tightly they refuse to read that honestly will agree.

            Yes, you don't appeal to the bible and it is clear why, that is a losing proposition.

            The issue then is, if God gives us revelations, holy books, why do these books always filled with nonsense, contradictions and silly tall tales?

            That is the main point we atheists can never get an answer to.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I am no fundamentalist.

            That reminds me of some guy who makes a pass at you in the men's room who panics and says he is nor gay. Well he kind of is and he should confront it. I don't know or care about yer personal life but you clearly take the Bible ultra literally like a fundamentalist. I don't and you cannot seem to accept it?
            Nobody here does. ANSWERS IN GENESIS is right over there buddy. Have at them.

            >The RCC is, reading the Council of Trent. God is the author of the Holy Bible, all 66 listed books of it.

            The Council of Trent lists 73 books in the Bible. You couldn't even get that right. Why do you think spouting ignorant and uneducated blather is gonna convince anybody?

            >Noah's flood is not my interpretation.

            It is all yer interpretation. That is as plain as a Bulgarian Pin up..

            > It is simply not true as competent geologists have known since the days of Hutton and Lyell.

            But geologists know there was a massive flood in the Black Sea area tens of thousands of years ago.

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2000/09/13/artifacts-found-in-the-black-sea-may-be-evidence-of-biblical-flood/814a339e-5e62-4ddd-b4c3-c14d9a015360/

            Sorry but the Vatican Intelligencia abandoned the idea of a global flood in the 19th century maybe as early as the 18th?

            >The differing tall tales of Genesis are obviously not true. You cannot escape that by claiming it is only my personal interpretation.

            We don't take them literally. Even William Lane Craig doesn't take them literally. Even Augustine didn't take Genesis One literally.

            You cannot make a case against the Bible for Catholic by appealing to yer silly fundamentalism. We are not impressed.

            Yer just to lazy to learn philosophy to become a real Atheist. You for some mad reason wish to remain a low cow? Ok then but you won't win converts here and in time even the local Atheist will tell you to pipe down.

            Nobody here cares what you think the Bible means. Learn philosophy or ANSWERS IN GENESIS is right over there. Have at them! I'll be rooting for ya. They are more yer level.

          • WCB-2

            Noah's flood is in the Bible. The bible is held to be the word of God, its author by your church. callijmg me names does not make that fact disappear. Now we now know thanks to the science of geology, it is an idle tall tale with absolutely no truth at all to it.

            You cannot accept that fact? calling me names and ranting polemically does not change the facts or impress any atheist reading this exchange.

            And you have not dealt with any of the other false claims of the bible i had mentioned.

            And now to the final thrilling conclusion, if there was a God, would God if he gave us a revelation, give us a true revelation, not the collection of nonsense we get in the bible, Quran, Vedas, Book of Mormon et al?

            Christianity is dying. In England only 38% of English now self identify as Christians, In the US Nones and atheists are growing by leaps and bound. Only 56% claim to believe in the God of the Bible.

            Cranky, bad tempered polemics can't stop the bleeding as people start realizing Christianity and the Bible are not believable. How the RCC can answer the atheists and skeptics, long term is going to be a problem, and the internet is teaching people why this is all problematic.

            You need a better answer than what you can give me.

            Now we know how the pagans felt in the times of Jesus seeing their sects withering away and being abandoned as unbelievable.

            The clock is ticking and you need something better than what you can offer to us hard noses atheists.

          • Jim the Scott

            You can't even answer my rebuttals of why ranting Trent Said God wrote the Bible (duh!) doesn't mean the Bible is clear or automatically literal in all places. LOL!

            >You cannot accept that fact? calling me names and ranting polemically does not change the facts or impress any atheist reading this exchange.

            I am avoiding calling you names as much I can. It is not easy. Yer arguments are awful. As for an Atheist reading this exchange I would guess it depends on the Atheist. A few decades ago I was arguing with a young Atheist wag who was trying to disprove the Day Age Theory in relation to Evolution & I informed him I was a Theistic Evolutionist and didn't accept the Day Age Theory. Nor did I even then take Genesis One literally. He got mad and accused me of committing act most foul with male donkeys. I laughed in his face. A smart Atheist intervened and pointed out too him his folly. If I don't take Genesis literally then all he is doing is putting on the Hat of a Young Earth Creationist Christian apologist trying to futiliely convert me to fundamentalism before making me an Atheist. He said that is too much and doesn't get to the issues why I think God exists? This was before I learned more deeply about the difference between Classic Theism vs Theistic Personalism and I thougth ID might be correct(Thomism killed that).

            >The clock is ticking and you need something better than what you can offer to us hard noses atheists.

            I offer you nothing. I don't care what you believe. You are the one trying to tell me my beliefs are wrong. Which I don't mind but you really are making a hash of it. It is getting sad now.

            I am not going to bother correcting yer further mistakes. Why waste brain power when Skeptical Thinking Power could come back or Nickol might ask an exciting question.

            Yer a diversion and now I am bored.

          • WCB-2

            The RCC claims the Bible is authored by God.

            The Bible tells us about Noah's ark. Not as an allegory, a metaphor, an analogy.

            We know that was a myth, it never happened. Why does this book, the Bible gives us puerile tall tales rather than obvious true revelations from God?

          • Jim the Scott

            Or the flood could have been local not global. Anyway you think Trent teaches the Bible has 66 books instead of 73. Go do some research.

          • WCB-2

            The Noah's ark tale is an old tall tale adopted from earlier foreign myths. The tall tale of the OT is not a local flood. It cannot be a true revelation from a real God. If the Bible is a revelation from God, we would expect better.

            There are many myths of great floods. Plato discussed these by noting fossil shells and fish found on mountain tops. He though mighty floods from time to time wiped out most of humanity and that humanity had to start civilization over again anew. al based on a few fossil fish and shells.

          • Jim the Scott

            So is no flood yet other ancients had a belief in an ancient flood so that means Noah's Ark could never have been real?

            Yer argument from special pleading on what sort of Scripture God would have produced is not convincing.

      • Skeptic_Thinking_Power

        Watkins didn't meet a single epistemic burden in that debate.

        Please elaborate on this point? He provided positive arguments and responded to Fr. Pines case.

        He mostly waffled around misunderstandings

        Please elaborate on this point too? Unlike most Atheists he made it very clear on the distinction between Theistic Personalism and Classical Theism, and drew on the implications of the Classical Theist position.

        • Ben Champagne

          See, you say he provided positive points, and I'll admit he used words to form sentences, but at no point did he provide any positive arguments in actuality. YOU will have to make this case, that is your claim, not mine.

          Yes, he made distinctions, but as far as logic is concerned, he offered no necessitating exclusions to those distinctions. So again, please let me know how you think he met his epistemic burden.

    • Jim the Scott

      So STP what you are really saying here is based on Dr. Rauser's liberal Evangelical and general Protestant presuppositions on Biblical interpretation you can't "marry" the God of the Bible with the God of the Philosophers? So please explain to me why I as a Catholic should adopt heterodox false doctrines like Sola Scriptura, private interpretation and Perprecuity of Holy Writ before I interpret Holy Writ to conclude Classic Theism is un-Biblical?

      Also STP why do you as an Atheist or religious skeptic presuposing these teachings? Catholics don't believe the Bible is absolutely clear. Why do you? It needs an interpreter and a Tradition. Why is that Dr. Rauser and not the Popes and Councils who endorse the Classic Theist interpretation of Holy Writ? Well?

      Sorry but the best you can do here is give me Dr. Rauser's interpretation which you advocate for "reasons" and set it against the Church's which you capriciously reject for "reasons"? That is like me disputing with a Sunni Muslim over interpreting the Koran and I give him a Hadith produced by a Shia Muslim. Why should he be moved by a "heretic's" "misreading" of the Koran? Are you aware different Christian Church's interpret the Bible differently? Because it looks to me like you have a one size fits all view?

      Even among the Protestants you have people like Paul Helm and or Norman Geisler who are classic Theists who would not agree with Dr. Rauser's interpretation.

      So God has literal "emotions"? God has a Mind that is literally like a Human mind only more Uber? Does Dr. Rauser believe when the Psalmist says God enfolds us in His wings God is literally a giant Cosmic Chicken with literal wings?

      >So for example, the Bible depicts God changing his mind, having regrets, learning, growing angry, hating people, lashing out in rage, and so on.

      So I guess we will go with the Giant Cosmic Chicken view then?

      Still I bet dollars to donuts Dr. Rauser thinks communion is a symbol and not the literal Body and Blood of Christ in spite of what John 6 literally says eh?

      STP in case I told you this before I will tell you now. It is futile for Atheist to argue the Bible with Catholics. We are not Fundamentalists or Protestants. Learn that lesson please. There will be an exam and you are close to flunking.

      Which is a shame because you usually a good student.

      • Skeptic_Thinking_Power

        Mr. Scott our conversations have been pleasant so far, but I believe you've made several unjustified statements about my comment. I actually find sola-scriptura and most protestant doctrines to be false. I think Catholicism is generally correct in this regard. I have made no claims about biblical interpretation. I am simply saying that I found the Theistic Personalist conception of God to be more coherent than the Classical Theist conception of God. And for this reason, because Theistic Personalism is more coherent, I think Theistic Personalists have an easier task of aligning their concept of God with that of the Bible. I am trained in analytic philosophy, not biblical scholarship. I am not here to make any claims about biblical interpretation, etc. I am only saying that from my perspective I think the Theistic Personalist conception of God is superior to Classical Theism.

        • Jim the Scott

          STP you need to be more clear & don't take it personally if I rip yer arguments asunder. I am a Darwinist in argument and firmly believe the weak arguments must needs perish. Trust that I respect and like you.

          >I am simply saying that I found the Theistic Personalist conception of God to be more coherent than the Classical Theist conception of God.

          If that is what you mean that is fine but when you say QUOTE " theistic personalists such as Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, and others can marry the concept of a theistic personalist conception of God with the God of the Bible, however I don't think this task is possible for Classical Theists (and Catholics who are Classical Theists). Then how are you not making claims about Biblical interpretation?
          You clearly are and that is a factor here.

          I don't see how Theistic Personalism can be "more coherent"? Maybe easier to comprehend. After all it is easier to comprehend an Old Man with a White Beard in the Sky then whatever a Ground of All Being is......so I am not getting the coherence. Indeed watching Atheists and Intelligent Design types debate(who are Theistic Personalists) over the years and watching Atheists kick their arses doesn't make it anymore coherent. Theistic Personalism is quite incoherent. What is the difference between a Theistic Personalist "deity" and Q from Star Trek?
          Q is funner? That is it.

          > I think Theistic Personalists have an easier task of aligning their concept of God with that of the Bible. I am trained in analytic philosophy, not biblical scholarship.

          I can tell you don't understand biblical scholarship because that statement is to me incoherent.

          STP be honest. It is easier to comprehend magic man in Sky Theistic Personalist "god" than an Abstract unknowable One?

          But for me it is idolatry to worship the former and a sin not to worship the later.

          >I am trained in analytic philosophy,

          Which is a problem since Traditional Thomists think Analytical Philosophy is wrong thought some of the other Thomistic Schools may be warmer too it like Fr Brian Davies. So we already have a communication problem here.

          >I am only saying that from my perspective I think the Theistic Personalist conception of God is superior to Classical Theism.

          I think Theistic Personalism is pablum for children. Sorry to be blunt but that is what I think. It is unsophisticated and plebeian. It is more intellectually inferior than Gnu Atheism.

          But you like what you like. One cannot argue aesthetics. As a youth I liked skinny girls with great legs but in my maturity I need a big curvy woman.

          Theistic Personalism IMHO makes it easier to be an Atheist. So I can see yer attraction to it.....

          Cheers.

      • David Nickol

        Catholics don't believe the Bible is absolutely clear.

        Neither do Protestants. You give a distorted interpretation of the clarity (perspicuity) of scripture. Your contributions to arguments such as these are generally as follows: Catholics don't believe in sola scriptura or the perspicuity of scripture. Catholics are not theistic personalists. You can't win an argument with us because you think like a Protestant.

        It seems to me that Rauser makes a fairly good beginning to the argument that the God of philosophers and the God Abraham can indeed be reconciled without getting into any specifically Catholic-vs-Protestant issues, but heaven forbid that a Protestant be given any credit for anything here on SN.

        I would like to suggest that if it is possible to reconcile the God of Abraham with the God of philosophers, someone should make some concrete attempts in specific cases. Even granting that the Catholic Church reserves to itself to to have the final word on interpreting scripture, that does not mean Catholics cannot read, discuss, and even interpret the Bible themselves in discussions like these.

        I recall a discussion from years ago attempting to reconcile the behavior of God as described in dealing with Moses and Pharaoh. How do we reconcile the description of God hardening Pharaoh's heart and inflicting plagues? It should be a particularly interesting exercise for those who believe Moses himself wrote it.

        More important than the above, though, I learned something amazing tonight reading Edward Feser's blog. I will just quote him verbatim: "The correct pronunciation is 'fay-zer,' like the word 'phaser' in Star Trek." I have pronounced it a number of ways over the years. But never phaser. I am stunned.

        • Jim the Scott

          >Neither do Protestants.

          Which Protestants? There are hundreds of sects. Yea a few thousand of them. All teaching different doctrines and having no central authority.

          >You give a distorted interpretation of the clarity (perspicuity) of scripture.

          Which version? Perspicuity like Sola Scriptura is a moving target? Some Protestants may admit the Bible contains some ambiguity and that is it merely clear enough to teach us how to get to heaven. Which Catholics reject as it contradicts Peter who said Paul's teachings can be twisted to destruction. But even some Protestant Classic Theists would not agree with Dr. Rauser who confess Sola Scriptura and Perspicuity.

          >Your contributions to arguments such as these are generally as follows: Catholics don't believe in sola scriptura or the perspicuity of scripture. Catholics are not theistic personalists. You can't win an argument with us because you think like a Protestant.

          Yes and it astounds me how it always plays out that way and the New Atheist (and even the more rational informed Atheists like STP) never learn?

          >It seems to me that Rauser makes a fairly good beginning to the argument that the God of philosophers and the God Abraham can indeed be reconciled without getting into any specifically Catholic-vs-Protestant issues, but heaven forbid that a Protestant be given any credit for anything here on SN.

          But I am addressing STP's reading of Rauser that the two cannot be reconciled and that I am taking issue with. I won't give Rauser credit unless he is a Classic theist. But I would and did credit Paul Helm and Norman G who are Protestants and Classic theists.

          >I would like to suggest that if it is possible to reconcile the God of Abraham with the God of philosophers, someone should make some concrete attempts in specific cases.

          Meaningless! It is merely a conflict of conflicting interpretations of Holy Writ. Nothing more. With you lot we must first argue the existence of God then move on from there. Moving ahead to choose Catholicism or Protestantism is ahead of the game.

          >Even granting that the Catholic Church reserves to itself to to have the final word on interpreting scripture, that does not mean Catholics cannot read, discuss, and even interpret the Bible themselves in discussions like these.

          But they cannot interpret the Holy Bible contrary to doctrine and no Atheist like STP can convince me Classic Theism is not compatible with the Bible by assuming a Protestant mentality in interpreting it. Which is what he is doing even if his intentions are otherwise (& they are if we take him at his word and of course I do).

          >I recall a discussion from years ago attempting to reconcile the behavior of God as described in dealing with Moses and Pharaoh. How do we reconcile the description of God hardening Pharaoh's heart and inflicting plagues? It should be a particularly interesting exercise for those who believe Moses himself wrote it.

          You could look it up yerself in any conservative Catholic commentary. I know you have the skills Sir Nickol.

          >More important than the above, though, I learned something amazing tonight reading Edward Feser's blog. I will just quote him verbatim: "The correct pronunciation is 'fay-zer,' like the word 'phaser' in Star Trek." I have pronounced it a number of ways over the years. But never phaser. I am stunned

          Would I look like an arrogant boastful arse if I told you I knew that for years? Yea I would....but it is true. :D

          Which is why I often think of Star Trek metaphors when I cite him. Q=a Theistic Personalist god etc.....

          • Ben Champagne

            While not a protestant, I would take issue with this: "All teaching different doctrines and having no central authority." All authority comes from Logic, which comes from God. Espousing some implication of central authority from Catholicism is wholly wanting.

          • Jim the Scott

            That is where we can't agree. Without a living authority you have what you have in Protestantism. Thousands of sects.

          • Ben Champagne

            This belies what is blatantly obvious in Catholicism. You have many sects as well. Just look at the Pope. You truly believe he is spouting accurate Christian doctrine, or Catholic doctrine? The Jesuits in America, multiple conflicting bishops as well. That is just an aspect of humanity. The logic doesn't change, people's grasp of it varies however. And it is not altogether clear which direction logic points in particular cases as well. A living authority is just a lie you've convinced yourself you need for some unbeknownst reason. I agree with a lot of Catholic doctrine, but that doctrine isn't because of a living authority, it is because of logic, I depart Catholicism along the same lines that logic does.

          • Jim the Scott

            No we have many schools but being we have a single visible church we have a clearer understanding what views are mere opinions vs what views are essentials. If there is a problem eventually the Church steps up and settles it which is why no Thomist today denies the Immaculate Conception and the Franciscans won't let us live that down. Heh! Our time will come.;-)

            Protestants believe there are essential doctrines (the main things you must believe) and secondary issues. But they have no decernable way to figure out which is which.

            That is why I know my Thomist views on Grace and Free Will vs the opposing Jesuit view is a mere opinion vs the dogmas God's Grace somehow causes the will to choose salvific good and does so freely which both Thomists and Jesuits must confess.

            Protestantism is illogical. So I must reject the sinlessness of Mary because there is no verse in the Bible that tells me to believe it but there is no verse in the same Bible that tells me it is the sole rule of faith and sufficient? I am just suppose to ignore that and listen to Luther?

            Hard Pass.

          • Ben Champagne

            You have logic, same as any protestant. Saying you have the Catholic Church to settle disputes is illogical. You can believe it, but that doesn't give it any logocal merit.

          • Jim the Scott

            > Saying you have the Catholic Church to settle disputes is illogical.

            Doctrinal disputes. History shows the Church (with a few wee grand exceptions) is shite for anything else.

            But we do have just like the USA has a SCOTUS to interpret the Constitution.
            Except we cannot and do not change doctrine.
            Now you may not agree with the Catholic Church's interpretation of doctrine but that is hardly my problem. I have no motivation to accept yer fallible interpretation over Her alledgly fallible one so here we are.....

          • Ben Champagne

            Logic is the motivation, by necessity. Still no actual argument for the cebtral authority veing dispositive of anything absent logic. Waiting.

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't care to make one. I Yer in our house Protestant. You show me where the Bible alone teaches we must follow the Bible alone sans Tradition and a Church with the final authority.

          • WCB-2

            No place in the Bible do we really see any thing like a Catholic church. Jesus is to return, soon, soon , soon, and will establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth with Jesus as King of it all. See Matthew 25. No single church is mentioned that has a Pope, and exclusive rights as the sole church on Earth. No such system is mention by Jesus at all.

          • Jim the Scott

            Sounds like something you read in chick comics? Here compare Isaiah 22:20-24 and Matt 16:18-20 and get back to me. Because it looks to me like Peter was made "Father over the people" by the King of Judah(Jesus) just like the OT Master of the Household.

          • WCB-2

            Have you REALLY read Isaiah? The false prophecy of God's holy mountain? Where bears and lions will eat hay like cows? Men will not grow old and ever be ill? Didn't happen did it?

            Matthew 16
            18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
            ...
            22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
            23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

            Matthew 16. Chronicling the world's record for a founding of a church by God and dissolution of said church by God.

          • Jim the Scott

            So you missed the part where the King of Judah gives Eliakim the Key to the House of David? Making him Father over the People? The Latin word for Father being Papa or Pope. Just saying, Jesus clearly make Peter the first Pope.

            Where you a Baptist? Because you think like one. Baptist impress me with their piety and love of Our Lord. But their theology and inability to argue....yeh.......well I will be kind and stop here.

          • WCB-2

            I am an atheist you silly person.
            Again, we had a great prophecy of the Holy Mountain of God and it's coming and establishment of a happy world. The prophecy did not occur. Obviously then Isaiah, who claims to be telling us what God told him to tell us is false. So nothing else matters as to what this man said. Unless you want to call God a liar.

            Your Bible. Not mine. Authored by God himself, your church's dogma, not mine. Do you think labelling be a fundamentalist, or baptists et al solves this problem of false prophecy unmasking the falseness of claims about everything else?

          • Mark

            Mary's life long sinlessness, immaculate conception, perpetual virginity, and status as Theotokos was not actually rejected by Luther. Those are still teachings of high Lutheranism. Luther indeed wrote poems about Mary praising her as the divine mediatrix, later he would recant that position. But he opened pandoras box and now we have 30k denominations that appeal to their own interpretation. Later on Luther became keenly aware how others used this illogical bypass and rejected his interpretations and doctines. And the irony still fails the Protestant who protest each other along with the original protestor and the Church he protested. The holy writ appeared out of nothing self-defining and self-explaining and self-sustaining like the Stratonician universe does for atheists.

          • Jim the Scott

            I agree with you my brother thought I would out of respect to the Protestants say the 30k number is a bit off. The person who came up with that # counted Religious orders and liturgical rites within Catholicism as distinct "denominations" and this is a bit off. As those are all part of the same denomination. But I would say there are a couple of thousand Protestant denominations. But other than that wee quibble I am with you guy.

        • Ficino

          Heh heh, I've always pronounced it Fay-zer. It's German! And that was the first foreign language I took in junior high.

          • Jim the Scott

            As they say on the Simsons nobody who speaaks German can be an evil man. You rule dude.:D

        • WCB-2

          "I would like to suggest that if it is possible to reconcile the God of Abraham with the God of philosophers, someone should make some concrete attempts in specific cases. Even granting that the Catholic Church reserves to itself to to have the final word on interpreting scripture, that does not mean Catholics cannot read, discuss, and even interpret the Bible themselves in discussions like these."

          In 1944, the RCC established an official project to create the best translations of the best manuscripts in various languages to establish the best and most authoritative Bible for Catholics.
          For Americans we have the latest and greatest from this project, the New American Bible. It can be found on the Vatican website, so we know it is Vatican approved.

          It is a good, clear translation with lots of footnotes explaining the finer points of the translation.

          But, it offers nothing that would support the claims that when verse X is read, it does not really mean X, but must be understood to mean Y. Nor is there a parallel document to explain this away for correct understanding why X does not mean X but means Y. This idea we are finding here that we cannot read the Bible and understand it "personal interpretation", is not supported by these translations and lack of explanation as tow how to interpret these verses correctly. So it does not seem to be an important issue to the Catholic Magisterium.

          Until the Magisterium prepares such a comprehensive work and tells us it i dogmatically, the only official understanding of the meaning of the NAB, we can safely ignore this sort of special pleading.

          http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__P1.HTM

    • Jim the Scott

      @rob_abney:disqus

      Additionally STP I have a request to make of you and I am tagging in others to upvote my request and sort of ambush you but I hope in a good way.:D

      Have you considered writing a blog or posting on a webpage yer criticisms of Classic Theism? Because linking to an essay you wrote & reading it would be better than listening to these recordings & or having you write a huge post of verbiage in the comboxs (not that they where boring mind you. They where very challenging and I enjoyed them greatly) and having the tyrant that is disqus eat said posts (just when they are getting good) for being too long.

      I just thought I would ask and hopefully Ben C and Dr. B will upvote my post here to show their support.

      If you are busy I understand. Cheers.

  • Phillip Dent

    I fail to see how this explains anything. Is god changeless, and did he change his mind? These two statements are in apparent contradiction in a way which, "this is a heavy oak chair made up of trillions of atoms which are mostly empty space", is not.

    Moreover, if that still seems implausible to you, i can demonstrate this empirically, logically, and to the highest standards of science.

    What I'm seeing here about god is an intution that god is perfect, therefore changeless, so we have to think of this contradiction as not a contradiction?

    Is Jesus god? Did Jesus die? If he did then he changed, then he wasn't perfect.

    I don't get it. There is a much simpler explanation, the authors of the Bible weren't writing about the god of the philosophers. They were writing their take on stories and mythology. They weren't writing about a perfect god. When they wrote about Jesus they didn't think they were writing about god. Except maybe the author of John. But even that's pushing it.

    • Rob Abney

      I agree, that’s a simpler explanation, it’s not supported in anyway but it is simpler.

      • Phillip Dent

        It's got more support than the supernatural.

        • Rob Abney

          Please go ahead and detail some of the support. If this is a serious objection then at least state which Biblical authors were writing stories and myths. Why do you accept John alone?

          • Phillip Dent

            Sure, prove wrote stories a the time. You must accept that most of these writings are mistaken or fraudulent impresions of natural humans.

            No supernatural claim has ever been accepted by any agreed critical analysis to anything close way the idea that people promote false stories about religious issues is.

          • Rob Abney

            Are you a native English speaker, because I don’t really understand what you’ve written?

          • Phillip Dent

            Lol

    • Ben Champagne

      First, you can not 'demonstrate it logically'. Such a task isn't capable of logical demonstration. Second, while you CAN provide empirical evidence, such empirical evidence is reliant on your epistemological commitments, so I don't see what relevance this provides in regard to the analogy. It went unsaid, but seems easily understood that 'heavy oak chair' inferred the solidity of the chair in question, and that apparent perception would seem to contradict the empty space, even though, in reality, there is no necessary contradiction present when considering the two positions with good epistemological commitments.

      In the sense of perfection, nothing necessitates that God's nature is 'completely changeless'. Just as my fundamental nature would not be changed by eating a hot dog as it moves through my digestive tract, I would technically, in an arbitrary way, be a different set of contingent physical properties as that hot dog was digested into my system. In the same way, God may have eternal perfections, but his actualizating is in flux while his knowledge, will, and creative force of potentials remains static. This is simply one method of rectifying your confusion, but there are others. What we have to think on, is whether, in fact, this is a contradiction. It appears that no necessary contradiction obtains.

      In what way do you think Jesus' death changed his fundamental nature of being?

      "There is a much simpler explanation" I don't see that to be logically defendable. But feel free to make such a case robustly.

    • Jim the Scott

      >Is god changeless, and did he change his mind?

      Yes He is changeless. God can will conditionally. That is God can immutably will it won't rain today if I don't pray and that it will rain if I do pray for rain. This gives the appearance of God changing His mind but God never changes His Mind. God Wills all that He Wills in One Divine Act from All Eternity.

      >Moreover, if that still seems implausible to you, i can demonstrate this empirically, logically, and to the highest standards of science.

      In Classic Theism God is a philosophical question only. God is not a scientific question in anyway. Any "god" you come up with empirically (if you could) in principle couldn't be the God of Classic Theism. It would be like claiming you could dig up a Higgs Boson in a fossil record. Category mistake.

      To attack the God of Classic Theism successfully you will have to learn philosophy and learn how to formulate philosophical defeaters for various arguments pertaining to natural theology and philosophy.

      Otherwise you are wasting everybody's time.

      >What I'm seeing here about god is an intution that god is perfect, therefore changeless, so we have to think of this contradiction as not a contradiction?

      Rather Dr. Rauser is interpreting Holy Writ like a Fundamentalist. Which is ironic since at least to me he more resembles an Evangelical theological Liberal.

      As I said the Psalmists says the Lord enfolds us in His Wings. Does this mean God is a Cosmic Mega Chicken with literal wings? I think not.
      Rauser's "god" is an anthropomorphic idol made from his misinterpreting of Holy Writ and as a Catholic I refuse to bow down to a false god.

      >Is Jesus god? Did Jesus die? If he did then he changed, then he wasn't perfect.

      Well this is not hard for those of us who follow the Council of Chalcedon and the infallible teachings of Pope St Leo the Great. Christ has two natures united in His Divine Person. His human nature suffered physical death and physical change. His divine nature is unchanged.

      >I don't get it. There is a much simpler explanation, the authors of the Bible weren't writing about the god of the philosophers.

      Rather that begs the question as it assumes a priori that the God of the Bible is not the God of the Philosophers who is also the God of the Catholic Church and that said God meant to give us Holy Writ with Tradition and the Church to interpret it.

      > They were writing their take on stories and mythology. They weren't writing about a perfect god. When they wrote about Jesus they didn't think they were writing about god. Except maybe the author of John. But even that's pushing it.

      Yes I get it you are an Atheist or a Skeptic and if you are correct this naturalist explanation would be true but you have given me no reason to presuppose an Atheist and skeptical explanation for the bible.

      Of course Atheists specifically modern Gnu Atheist types have a hard time dealing with the God of the Philosopher since few of them know philosophy and can't get past Fundamentalism or Intelligent Design versions of Theism(or as I like to call them false gods).

      So ad hoc claiming the God of the Bible is not the same as the God of the Philosophers is the best they can do and quite frankly it is weak sauce.

      • VicqRuiz

        God never changes His Mind. God Wills all that He Wills in One Divine Act from All Eternity.

        Then in what way can God's actions be said to be worthy of praise? It's not as if it would have been possible for him to take any others.

        • Jim the Scott

          God can be given any sort of praise that is not moral praise. Moral Praise is prasing someone for doing their duty and or being well behaved. To do that to God is silly. For example.

          "Whose a good God boy! Whose a good Omnipotent Deity who saved my soul(which you say while tickling Jesus under his chin since the Divine Essence isn't material so you cana tickle anything)! Now here is a cookie God, go play!"

          Yeh we don't do that.....Aristotle said it would be silly to do that. None of the praise for God in the Bible is of that nature as far as I know.

          Of course God could have acted otherwise in the sense He could have willed to do other than He did from all eternity. So we can praise Him for thespecific Good He willed us which He need not have willed.

      • David Nickol

        God can will conditionally. That is God can immutably will it won't rain today if I don't pray and that it will rain if I do pray for rain. This gives the appearance of God changing His mind but God never changes His Mind. God Wills all that He Wills in One Divine Act from All Eternity.

        First, what does "from all eternity" mean? It sounds like it means something like "before the beginning of time." But presumably there is no "before" for God.

        Second, what does it mean for an omniscient God to to "will conditionally" when he knows what the actual condition will be? If he wills conditionally that it will snow on Christmas 2020 if you pray for snow on Christmas Eve 2020, how is that "conditional" if by his omniscience he knows that you will indeed pray for snow on Christmas Eve?

        • Jim the Scott

          >First, what does "from all eternity" mean?
          It sounds like it means something like "before the beginning of time." But presumably there is no "before" for God.

          A challenging question! I was beginning to despair. Literally there is no "before" for God to choose between A and B. But notionally and logically there is a "before".

          That is it is conceivable God could have willed Not A instead willing A. Of course whatever God wills He must do. We will in time. But if I Will A at time X I cannot also Not Will A at time X. If that is the only choice I ever make it doesn't follow it wasn't a free choice. Also conceivably God can will A or Not A from E even if it turns out He wills A.

          More often then not Atheists and Theistic Temperalists (like Craig who believe after creating Time God made himself subject to it...yeh wrong but that is another topic) confuse God not being able to change His Mind and or His inability to Will both A and Not A from eternity with a "lack of free will". Which is nonsense. God wills freely because nothing external to God compels Him to will and no passive potency in his nature compels him to will.

          >Second, what does it mean for an omniscient God to to "will conditionally" when he knows what the actual condition will be? If he wills conditionally that it will snow on Christmas 2020 if you pray for snow on Christmas Eve 2020, how is that "conditional" if by his omniscience he knows that you will indeed pray for snow on Christmas Eve?

          Rather it is not impossible for God to will He would have caused snow on Christmas if I prayed for it even if He knows from all eternity I won't in fact pray for it. That is the condition.

          Now I don't know any of this so it is a good idea to pray.

          Also you have to take into account God Know what prayers will be said from all eternity and in one big act of will he wills which ones He will answer vs which He will not. There is nothing to exclude Him from willing to grant Snow on Christmas if I pray for it even if He knows from all eternity that I won't.

        • WCB-2

          This is called providence. John Calvin preached the same thing. But then the Problem Of Evil becomes a problem. Calvin got into a long and bitter argument with a Catholic name Albert Pighius over this. And then it drags in the related issues with predetination.

    • WCB-2

      Carneades I believe stated that if God is perfect, God cannot change as any change must be to a lesser states that perfection.

      • Phillip Dent

        Exactly.

  • Jim the Scott

    The thing is Theistic Personalism in my opinion leads one to Atheism. Especially New Atheism. The "god" Richard Dawkins & Christopher Hitchens hate in their respective tomes more or less resembles the overly anthropomorphic "god" of Theistic Personalism who is a moral agent and not the Ground of Being who is the God of Abraham and Aquinas and is both ontologically and metaphysically good.

    MIA:The God of the Bible is a being who has emotions (John 3:16; Psalm 5:5), he grows angry (Psalm 106:40), learns (Genesis 18:21), changes his mind (Jonah 3:10), has regrets (Genesis 6:6), has a body and face (Exodus 33:18-20), and sits on a throne (Psalm 103:19). That’s how the Bible describes God.

    Jim the Scott: No Mia that is yer misinterpretation of these verses. So by that logic Psalm 91:4 God is a Chicken since that verse says the has wings and feathers? So when the Bible calls either God or Jesus a Rock or firm foundation stone God is literally a piece of mineral?

    MIA:In other words, he’s completely different from the being actually described in the Bible.

    Jim the Scott: Again whose interpretation of the Bible Mia? Because Augustine, Aquinas, Maximos the Confessor, Gregory of Nyssa all read that same Bible and all of them are Classic Theists. That goes for ancient Jewish writers like Philo of Alexandria too. Why is yer overly anthropomorphic view the correct one? Who are you that you get to overthrow the whole Christian Tradition which I submit endorses Classic Theism. We don't see yer anthropomorphic theism till after the Englightenment?

    Randal: Yes, many people have sensed that tension. Your framing is well chosen, too: the great French philosopher Pascal famously attributed a mystical experience he had to “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not the God of the Philosophers.”

    Jim the Scott: Pascal wasn't great. He was a boob. I can think of a host of French Thomists would would blow him out of the water.

    >Put simply, it means that God is the greatest possible being, there is none greater.

    No God is not a solitary being who is more uber than all other beings. No such "god" exists. God is Subsistent Being Itself. God is the Ground of All Being or if we use the Eastern Chrisitan formulas God is Beyond being.

    One of the errors of Theistic personalism is making God out to be a solitary thing. An isolanti. A Thing among things and is just plain wrong.

    • David Nickol

      Jim the Scott: No Mia that is yer misinterpretation of these verses. So by that logic Psalm 91:4 God is a Chicken since that verse says the has wings and feathers?

      Just because there are metaphors in the Bible doesn't mean every passage Rauser cited could be dismissed as metaphorical. Some of them were, but you didn't even look among his examples. You just cited a clearcut instance of a metaphor.

      • Jim the Scott

        >Just because there are metaphors in the Bible doesn't mean every passage Rauser cited could be dismissed as metaphorical.

        True enough as far as that goes. But then how do you decide with passages contain metaphor and what are literal? Especially given Luther Perspicuity doctrine is false?

        I explained it too you in my other post. I will repeat myself. We presuppose the God the Philosophers whose existence is shown to be true via the demonstrations of philosophy and then we move on from there and interpret the Bible accordingly. We don't start with the Bible and construct a God based on our private hyper literalistic readings then fit that God to some neo-theistic after thought philosophy.

        > Some of them were, but you didn't even look among his examples. You just cited a clearcut instance of a metaphor.

        Given what we can deduce about God via Philosophy which must precede reading the Bible as Aquinas said Reason precedes Faith we must interpret those verses as metaphors thus God's anger as "his will to Justice" & his regret is not literal. God didn't literally make Pharaoh's heart a literal solid lump of mineral. It would have killed him.

        Rauser's theistic personalist "deity" is not interesting or worthy of worship and if I for a second thought that is what God is suppose to be I would be on yer side with the rest of the Atheists and Skeptics.

        I am an Atheist against Theistic Personalism.

        There is no Theistic personalist "god" only the God of Abraham and Aquinas.

        • David Nickol

          But then how do you decide with passages contain metaphor and what are literal? Especially given Luther Perspicuity doctrine is false?

          This seems to imply that Catholics should not read the Bible since only the Church can decide what in scripture is literal and what is metaphorical.

          Rauser's theistic personalist "deity" is not interesting or worthy of worship . . . .

          Why are you attacking Rauser? He is arguing that the God of Abraham can be reconciled with the God of philosophers. You seem not to have read the OP.

          • Jim the Scott

            >This seems to imply that Catholics should not read the Bible since only the Church can decide what in scripture is literal and what is metaphorical.

            No it merely means Catholics shouldn't give their own interpretations of the Bible apart from the Church. Otherwise we have the hundreds of sects the Protestants produce and we fail to become one body as Holy Writ says we must become.

            OTOH personal Bible reading presupposes universal literacy which is a modern phenomena. Same with regard to personal ownership of a Bible prior to the invention of the printing press. This shows even thought the Catholic Church relies on the Bible we don't have the error of the Protestants who confess the Bible alone.

            >Why are you attacking Rauser? He is arguing that the God of Abraham can be reconciled with the God of philosophers. You seem not to have read the OP.

            Then I apologize unreservedly for that and withdraw the charge he goes to the Bible first. But I have been fighting several skirmishes on this thread so collateral damage is inevitable.

            OTOH he is an Analytical Philosopher so....yeh.

    • WCB-2

      The God of the Pentateuch is very anthropomorphic. He walks in the Garden of Eden. He commands the israelites bury their excrement with shovels so when he walks in their camps, he won't step in it. 72 Elders of the Israelites see God standing on a pavement of sapphire. God twerks for Moses.

      • Jim the Scott

        So you do think God is a Cosmic Chicken in psalms 91:4?

        ROTFLOL!!!!

        • WCB-2

          ????. Cosmic chicken? No. Where do you get that silliness?

          Did the elders of Israel see god standing on a pavement of sapphire?

          Exodus 24:10
          And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness

          Exodus 33
          22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
          23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be see

          20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

          So, why didn't those 72 elders who saw God melt away like the Nazis in Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark?

          • Jim the Scott

            >????. Cosmic chicken? No. Where do you get that silliness?

            I cited Psalm 91:4 which speaks of God's Feathers and Wings. So according to yer insistent hyper fundamentalist hermetic God literally and really does have Feathers and Wings?

            >So, why didn't those 72 elders who saw God melt away like the Nazis in Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark?

            Are you trying to attempt humor? Give it up son. You will starve as a comedian.

          • WCB-2

            I am attempting to show that the God of the Bible is rather anthropomorphic. That if God gives us true revelations, these must be true. Silly as they are. Can the rather abstract God of philosophers be harmonized with the Bible and it''s tales?
            Well, no. I find it all rather silly. And once pointed out, I can attest that many atheists do to. And as many ex-Christian atheist can tell you, noticing these things is why they left Christianity. Trying to harmonize it all with some philosophers God is in the long run, not going to work.

            72 elders witness God standing on a pavement of sapphire. Now the big question, why doesn't God make an appearance like this before one and all today? To let the world know God does in fact exist and cares about us and wants to convince us to be religious?

            Orrrrrrr, could it be, could it just be these are lies from some ancient priest?

  • Jim the Scott

    The fecking filter ate one of STP posts!!!!!!!! Brandon will you do something about that! STP is one of the few(next to Nickol, Greene and Ficino of course) Atheists here who makes a good effort to response to Classic Theism and is a cut above the blithering nonsense the Gnu Rabble puts out. Can you do something so his post may be freed up?

    Oy Vey! My blood pressure............

    • Fixed.

      • Jim the Scott

        You are awesome Sir Vogt. My regards to Mrs. Vogt & yer wee one.

  • Philip Rand

    There are many that take no heed what happeneth to others by bad conversation, and therefore overthrow themselves in the same manner through their own fault, not foreseeing dangers manifest.

  • Jim the Scott

    Catholics don't start with the Bible like many Protestants do. We establish God's existence threw reason alone and the Philosophical God we come up is concluded to be the True God. We take the Bible and recognize since all truth is one then the Bible must be in harmony with the Classic God.

    As Augustine noted if a particular interpretation of the Bible, even a literal one contradicts the known science or philosophy then that interpretation of the Bible must be abandoned and yield to the Science and the Philosophy.

    Fundamentalists like MIA and to some extent Rauser and their Atheist partisans like Skeptical Thinking Power put their odd ad hoc interpretations of Holy Writ first and make the Classic Theist God yield to that.

    That gets is backwards. You cannot in principle set the God of the Bible against the God of the Philosophers.

    • David Nickol

      Then what does this (Genesis 6:5-7) mean?

      When the LORD saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil, the LORD regretted making human beings on the earth, and his heart was grieved. So the LORD said: I will wipe out from the earth the human beings I have created, and not only the human beings, but also the animals and the crawling things and the birds of the air, for I regret that I made them.

      Keep in mind that the Catholic Church teaches the Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant. The Holy Spirit allegedly oversaw the author of this passage in Genesis attribute to God himself the words, "I regret that I made them." What is the true meaning if it is not, "I regret that I made them"?

      It seems that the way to maintain that the God of Abraham and the God of philosophy are the same is to assert that they are but never actually talk about the God of Abraham or quote the Bible.

      • David Nickol

        This is a little abstruse, but it sounds to me that Aquinas attributes to God a change of mind:

        6:6 it repented Him: These words of the Lord are to be understood metaphorically, and according to the likeness of our nature. For when we repent, we destroy what we have made; although we may even do so without change of will; as, when a man wills to make a thing, at the same time intending to destroy it later. Therefore God is said to have repented, by way of comparison with our mode of acting, in so far as by the deluge He destroyed from the face of the earth man whom He had made. (St. Thomas Aquinas) Divine repentance takes in all cases a different form from that of man, in that it is never regarded as the result of improvidence or of fickleness, or of any condemnation of a good or an evil work. For it will have no other meaning than a simple change of a prior purpose; and this is admissible without any blame even in a man, much more in God, whose every purpose is faultless. Now in Greek the word for repentance (METANOIA) is formed, not from the confession of sin, but from a change of mind, which in God we have shown to be regulated by the occurrence of varying circumstances. (Tertullian)

        • Dennis Bonnette

          I truly fail to see much problem with either of these examples.

          First, God expressing "regret" at having made man is simply an anthropomorphic way of saying he was displeased with our misuse of his gift of free will. When my siblings and I got into trouble as children, our mother would sometimes threaten to "give us back to the Indians." We didn't think this actually designated our method of joining the family. But, it did clearly underline for us the fact that we had misbehaved.

          As for St. Thomas's explanation, it is clear that he precisely does not intend to convey a change in God: "For when we repent, we destroy what we have made; although we may even do so without change of will; as, when a man wills to make a thing, at the same time intending to destroy it later. "

          God does "so without change of will," because the entire sequence of events is foreseen in God's eternal providence, wherein he may create according to one intended purpose -- while fully realizing that the contingent creature will fail in that purpose, and therefore, an alternate purpose will supervene. All of this takes place with no change in God at all. But, since from our perspective, it appears as a change of will, the inspired writer describes the events for our understanding by using metaphorical language about God.

          • David Nickol

            First, God expressing "regret" at having made man is simply an anthropomorphic way of saying he was displeased with our misuse of his gift of free will.

            What does it mean to say God was displeased?

          • Jim the Scott

            It is the same as His anger. It is not an emotion. God has no emotions. It is God willing His justice and in the narative bringing down the flood.

          • WCB-2

            So, God is like a computer running a program. No emotions. Can you prove that assertion? Aquinas affirms God is happy. Is Aquinas wrong? Is Lactantius "A Treatise On The Anger of God" wrong? Is John 13:6 "For God so loved the world..." Wrong?

          • Jim the Scott

            >So, God is like a computer running a program. No emotions.

            I believe one or more of the Councils says God has no parts or passions. What yer didn't know that?

            >Can you prove that assertion?

            Aquinas said God is love without passion. He said repeatedly God has no passions.

            >Aquinas affirms God is happy. Is Aquinas wrong?

            The actual term he uses is Beatitude which is not a literal emotion.

            God’s happiness consists in the friendship among the persons of the Trinity. For God to be happy is for God to be God, and for Aquinas this means being a Trinity of friendship. Therefore, what God communicates, when he “befriends” us through grace, is the life of eternal friendship which is God (ST II-II q. 24, a. 2)

            Do yer research.

            >Is Lactantius "A Treatise On The Anger of God" wrong?

            I never read it but then again Lactantius is not St Lactantius. He is not a Church Father but Christian writer. He got a few things wrong and he has the dubious honor of being like yer Buddy Democretus in that he is maybe one of two Christian writers of antequity who believed in a flat earth.

            My guess is you didn't read it either. You where just looking for a title to proof text like the fundamentalist you are.

            >Is John 13:6 "For God so loved the world..." Wrong?

            Love for God is His Willing of the Good not an emotion.

            Classic Theists remember. Leave yer fundamentalism in Texas. We have no use for it.

          • WCB-2

            Yes, I know very well the 4th Lateran Council confirmed Simplicty Of God as a dogmas. Also Vatican II.

            Aquinas Q3, article 1
            God is happiness by His Essence: for He is happy not by acquisition or participation of something else, but by His Essence. On the other hand, men are happy, as Boethius says (De Consol. iii),

            So, either God simple lack of parts lacks the essences of emotions? Did you not think about that a second? Then God has no emotions.

            God the great emotionless computer in the sky. God then is not a "person", But how can God then care, love us (John 3:16) or be merciful, and compassionate as the Bible claims?

            And you do not see how silly all of this strikes atheists when we run across this oh so sophisticated theology stuff? Because this is silly.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Yes, I know very well the 4th Lateran Council confirmed Simplicty Of God as a dogmas. Also Vatican II.

            I don't believe you. At this point yer faking it.

            >So, either God simple lack of parts lacks the essences of emotions? Did you not think about that a second? Then God has no emotions.

            Yes God has no emotions. Nickol or was it Greene? Was a bit put off when i explained this concept to them. But unlike you they listened and didn't attempt to fake it.

            >God the great emotionless computer in the sky.

            God isn't any sort of computer. He is simple God has no parts remember? A computer has parts? Of course we both know you only found out about this an hour ago. But instead of doing the heavy lifting and heavy reading you charge in like a bull in a China shop.

            Amazing....

            >God then is not a "person",

            Techincally God is not a human person (even the Bible says that "God is not a Man that he should lie". Or more precisely God is not unequivocally comparable to a human person. God is personal in that He has Intellect and Will but not as a human. Gee you did not know that?

            >how can God then care, love us (John 3:16) or be merciful, and compassionate as the Bible claims?

            Why should I waste my time trying to explain it to you? You to this day refuse to acknowledge the divine timelessness has to do with metaphysical time not space time. Yer useless....

            >And you do not see how silly all of this strikes atheists when we run across this oh so sophisticated theology stuff? Because this is silly.

            Actually this makes you low brow Gnus look like the Creationist wags who crow about how no Ape gave birth to a human and no Evolutionist has ever produced an Ape who could give birth to a human so Evolution must be false. All hail God work in the KJV!

            Yes you are as convincing as a Young Creationist it seems. But you don't want to become better so there is nothing to be done.

          • WCB-2

            4 Lateran Council

            C O N S T I T U T I O N S

            1. Confession of Faith We firmly believe and simply confess that there is only one true God, eternal and immeasurable, almighty, unchangeable, incomprehensible and ineffable, Father, Son and holy Spirit, three persons but one absolutely simple essence, substance or nature

            I already posted this once. We had this argument. you have the attention span ofa gnat and no memory at all of anything I posted since yesterday.

            You are lazy. And you knoweth not. You do not seem to really know what you are posting about. carry on.

          • Jim the Scott

            ROTFLOL!!!!

            Now yer just copying my criticisms of a few days ago and reposting them as yer own. I cana take you seriously laddie. This is low cow even for Michael.

            At this point yer copy/pasting Church documents and you don't even know what they mean. Yet just proof texting them like the Fundamentalist you are only more extreme than Michael.

            Please......

          • WCB-2

            Jeremiah 31:33-34
            33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saiththe Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
            34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

            See also:
            Isaiah 36:26-8, Isaiah 59:20-21, Jeremiah 24:6-7,
            Jeremiah 31:33-34, Ezekiel 11:19, 1 Samuel 10:9,
            2 Corinthians 1:21-22

            If we take the bible seriously god here is saying he can over ride one's free will and as such, can't be said to care for free will. Rather than regret or whatever some theists says about what that really means, God could makes us all believers and saved.

            With the announcement of the Great commission, God had a chance to do what he claimed he would do in the verses I cited. and if God has problems with our moral evil, why would not God banish Satan from earth, and by fit, eliminate original sin on day one?

            God chooses the elect, and non-elect, makes some vessels of mercy, some vessels of wrath, etc. Predestines all. God hardens the hearts of the Jews not to believe Jesus was Messiah. None of this makes any sense at all. Not for the atheist. And the usual special pleading we get as an answer to preserve appearances are not convincing.

            Then there are problems with an omniscient God who creates all, who will know what any Universe he creates will turn out at any point in the future, depending on what initial starting state of creation god chooses. The Universe is hard determinate and we have no free will. Then all evil is God's creation.

            Perhaps God regrets the initial state of creation he chose?

          • Jim the Scott

            @dennisbonnette:disqus

            >If we take the bible seriously god here is saying he can over ride one's free will and as such, can't be said to care for free will. Rather than regret or whatever some theists says about what that really means, God could makes us all believers and saved.

            Which philosophical conception of free will chief? We Catholics don't believe in volunteerism and the libertarian vs compatible-ist dichotomy doesn't really apply to us in that regard?

            Did you read any Aquinas at all on free will? Of course not that would require you do some actual learning vs charging in hot looking silly, Why do I bother......

            >With the announcement of the Great commission, God had a chance to do what he claimed he would do in the verses I cited.

            Atheists can't use the Bible to argue with Catholics. In principle all yer interpretations are automatically wrong.

            >and if God has problems with our moral evil, why would not God banish Satan from earth, and by fit, eliminate original sin on day one?

            Here you are channeling yer Theistic Personalist view of God who is a moral agent. Yeh God is not a moral agent. Ergo God doesn't have obligations to us.

            >God chooses the elect, and non-elect, makes some vessels of mercy, some vessels of wrath, etc. Predestines all. God hardens the hearts of the Jews not to believe Jesus was Messiah.

            Ah double predestination Calvinism! Condemned by yer favorite(& mine) Ecumenical Council the Council of Trent.

            When are you gonna learn some actual Catholic doctrine buddy instead of Faking it? Dr, B is a philosopher not a theologian but he knows quite a bit and he isn't gonna be moved by you trying to fake it.

            I am gonna stop now with this post... You have make yerself look bad enough without me twisting the knife.

            Dude Magic Old Man in the sky doesn't exist. That is not Our God. Critique the God we believe in not the one you wish we believed in.

            Those Baptists you live among are in yer 'ed.

          • WCB-2

            The Bible says what the bible says.

            See also:
            Isaiah 36:26-8, Isaiah 59:20-21, Jeremiah 24:6-7,
            Jeremiah 31:33-34, Ezekiel 11:19, 1 Samuel 10:9,
            2 Corinthians 1:21-

            And you are stuck with it. God claimed he would put his laws into the hearts of the Israelites. he could thus do it for all post Great Commission.
            Free wiill arguments that God values free will above all, say such as Alvin Plantinga claims, all fall.

            These verses destroy all theodicies,all compatibilist arguments, all other similar theological concepts. You diversionary word salad does not solve this realization.
            RCC claims the bible is authored by God, so these verses are then to a Catholic, authoritative.

            That is all.

          • Jim the Scott

            >The Bible says what the bible says.

            Yes but what does it mean? The Bible is not clear unless yer a Protestant and even among them they have levels of clearness. Catholics don't believe in perspicuity. Why don't you get that?

            >Free wiill arguments that God values free will above all, say such as Alvin Plantinga claims, all fall.

            Fr Brian Davies thinks Plantinga is wrong and I think he is wrong and Alvin thinks God is a moral agent and we don't.

            At this point yer not trying.

          • WCB-2

            When the Bible is clear, the Bible is clear. and much of it is very plainly clear to anybody except somebody who does not WANT to admit it means what it says.

            Nobody that is intellectually honest is going to buy the special pleading and torturing of the words of the bible to save appearances. In this regard, you and the rabid fundies who play these same games are no different. Same old, same old.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I did not know you were such a biblical literalist.

            I read this text and see a promise made by God to his people -- all the time with the understanding that they will, both individually and collectively, respond to his providence for them. I do not see it as suppressing their ability to resist his plans for them, but more of a promise of his protection and guidance -- always assuming their cooperation in his laws.

            You assume too much about the infallibility of your interpretation. Catholics are not literalists, but there is plenty of room in this kind of text for human freedom.

            This may be a basis for your atheism, but it does not impress me at all as logically either denying man's freedom or God's existence.

            You assume far too much about your understanding of God's plans and how divine providence works.

            Anyway, I am not a scripture scholar, so go direct this argument to someone more adept at this sort of thing.

            For my part, as a metaphysician, I know from reason that God exists, stands outside of time, has infinite knowledge of all things -- past, present, and future, is eternal, and providentially rules his creation with a plan that he alone fully understands. I know man is free and that God works with our freedom, and yet, will accomplish his plan for creation in his good time.

            If we think we know more than he does as to how he should have created and ordered things, we are foolish indeed. And no, I am not ducking the meaning of Scripture. But neither do I read it as it seems do you, since you see contradictions where I see a complex harmony of divine providence and human freedom playing out through time.

          • WCB-2

            Doctor Bonnett,

            I am not a literalist. As I pointed out to JtS, the RCC is. The bible is supposedly authored by God. But then we are told when we bring up these Bible verses that are problematic, that the Bible really does NOT mean that. This mean we must ask the question, are you all just playing games, deluding yourselves, or did God do such a lousy job of writing the Bible (RCC;s dogmma, not mine) that nothing in the bible means what it obvious really does say?

            My list of quotes for example from the prophets that God will write his laws into the hearts of the Israelites does not really mean that?

            Do you really think this sort of reaction will stop young people from abandoning Christianity? 33% of young Americans are now Nones, and do not believe in the Bible God. Nor in the bible.

            No, the verses tell us God will change them. Repeatedly. Twisting them to pretend they do not mean that is not correct. Then we have Paul's doctrines of predestination, election, grace and god the Great Potter who decides who is a vessel of wrath and a vessel of mercy. which is telling us God decides who is and who is not saved in unmistakable detail.

            Playing games to pretend these verses do not mean what they obviously do mean is not going to fly.

            My interpretation is correct. The idea that none of the many problematic verses of the Bible do not mean what they do mean and it is all a matter of interpretation is ain't gonna convince anybody whois not wedded to Catholicism.

            Man's freedom? If God is omnipotent and creates the universe and is essentially omniscient, free will is impossible. End of argument.

            God's plans? The Bible is not exactly consistent about any of God's plans.

            Not a scriptural scholar? You don't need to be to read what the bible tells us and consider the consequences of these sorts of problematic verses. I am not a official Bible scholar either, not offically with a degree et al. But I have read the Bible over the years repeatedly and with great care. I found all these verses from the prophets I listed, putting God's laws into the hearts of the Israelites myself. I have never seen this issue raised by anybody. You don't have to have a degree, just interest in careful reading and thinking.

            God stands out of time and knows all, past present and future? And creates all? Then any Universe God creates will unfold as god knows it's future in full detail. His chosen initial starting state of creation decides all. Including all moral evil. Hitler and the holocaust. Stalin and the gulags. Mao and the many evils he was responsible for.

            As a metaphysician, have you really considered the logical conclusion to what you accept as true? I can play metaphysician too. And have. God is outside of time? And creates all? Then he creates all at once. Including all acts of moral evil. there is no A cause B causes C temporally. A, B, and C are created by God specifically by his own will.

            metaphysicians have been wrestling with God outside of time for years now, and some believe that, others do not. The books I have on the subject are mostly nonsense. The problem with reading scripture is to avoid being so wed to a theology one does not, and cannot read it and accept it's clear and true meaning. Metaphysics, the same.

            The problem with all of this is, long term, that is going to doom Catholicism as we know it.

      • Jim the Scott

        Two can play yer game my good friend.

        "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."-Psalm 91:4.

        Keep in mind that the Catholic Church teaches the Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant. The Holy Spirit allegedly oversaw the author of this passage in Psalms attribute to God himself the words, "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge" What is the true meaning if it is not, "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge"?

        So basically we are both wrong Sir Nickol. God is not an anthropomorphic disembodied magical invisible mind who is essentially like a human mind in his thoughts and so called feelings but more Uber, as the Theistic Personalist envision Him to be. Nor is God Pure Act or the Ground of All Being or Beyond Being or Subsistent Being Itself etc....The Absolute, Unconditional Reality Itself etc...etc.. We are both wrong.

        God is clearly Cosmic Mega Chicken! Praise be to the Holy and Divine Feathers!

        Well now that I have entertained everyone with my comedy stylings let us get real and my being an Aristotelian let us do so in moderation .
        (Leave yer tips in the hat on the ground)

        Seriously David the only way what you say makes sense is if you read the Bible with a fundamentalist mentality and with the false belief Scripture is absolutely clear and the sole source of truth about God & must be interpreted in isolation from everything else. We don't do that.

        Or you can presuppose a Theistic Personalist God for "reasons" and read and interpret the Bible accordingly. Again we don't do that here.

        >It seems that the way to maintain that the God of Abraham and the God of philosophy are the same is to assert that they are but never actually talk about the God of Abraham or quote the Bible.

        No Sir we presuppose the God of the Philosopher's whose existence is shown to be evident by the demonstrations of philosophy and we then move from there to read & interpret the Bible accordingly.

        With that in mind I not only conclude God really doesn't literally have "wings and feathers" I further conclude God's anger is merely is "Will to Justice" and not a literal emotion. I also conclude His "regret" is mere metaphor like his "Wings and Feathers".

        Let us be blunt. This is more often then not an extension of what Feser likes to call the "No fair! Yer not a fundamentalist!" complaint explicitly or implicitly employed by some Atheists (not you Sir Nickol I sense you are merely playing Devil's Advocate here & I thank you for that) who are knackered over the fact the arguments they use against Craig or Plantinga or the folks over at Uncommon Descent are non-starters for a Brian Davies or Feser.

        They have to reinvent the wheel. They just have to. Skeptical Thinking Power is wasting his time trying to convince me if God exists He must be a Theistic Personalist so called "deity" before he can convince me that God doesn't exist.

        I said it before and I will repeat myself till I am blue in the face or cold dead in the ground from a heart attack or brutally murdered by a mob of irate Gnus Atheists, Fundamentalists and extreme Reactionary Radical "Traditionalist" so called Catholics.

        You must polemic the God I believe in and not waste my time arguing against the "god" you wish I believed in.

        Peace to you David. I appreciate yer push back. It keeps me on me A game. Thanks bud.

    • WCB-2

      "Catholics don't start with the Bible like many Protestants do."

      Yes, they do. Council of Trent lays down that their basic belief system is based on the claim that God authored the bible. The only difference between the RCC is that the RCC also adds Catholic traditions to be dogmatic and reserves the right to interpret the Bible dogmatically. See Council of Trent, session IV. Protestants do not hold that these RCC traditions have the same authority as the Bible. Sola Scriptura only. Orthodox Christians do not grant the RCC that authority to be sole interpreter of the bible.

      • Jim the Scott

        >Yes, they do.

        Channeling yer inner Sir John Cleese I see.

        > Council of Trent lays down that their basic belief system is based on the claim that God authored the bible.

        Is that the one you claim taught there where 66 books in the Bible when Trent and the Church list 73? Yeh like you are an authority on Trent? I think not. I am skeptical you even have a higher education. Then there was the way Nickols corrected yer erroneous physics on light. He is a learned skeptic and he is vastly more familar with Catholicism than you and he doesn't try to fake it.

        > The only difference between the RCC is that the RCC also adds Catholic traditions to be dogmatic and reserves the right to interpret the Bible dogmatically.

        Which nullifies all yer criticism of the Bible which presuppose the views of the Baptists you hang out with. You even included a Calvinist interpretation of how God chooses the elect and the reprobate. Love it! You know nothing and yet you pot on spouting nonsense and expect to be taken seriously.

        Son please go read a book. This is getting painful I am feeling something I normally don't feel. I feel sorry for you. I have a rep as a cool hearted bastard to maintain.

        > See Council of Trent, session IV. Protestants do not hold that these RCC traditions have the same authority as the Bible. Sola Scriptura only. Orthodox Christians do not grant the RCC that authority to be sole interpreter of the bible

        In other news water is wet.

        • WCB-2

          Polemics is not a answer. The Bible is the basic bedrock book the RCC claims as its foundation. again, Council of Trent, Session IV.

          ...the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church; which (Gospel), before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books,

          Your theology lesson for today.

          • Jim the Scott

            Yes that is lovely quoting Trent..the Bible is all those things to the Church. But it still doesn't say the Bible is clear to individuals and to be interpreted by them apart from the Church and Tradition. It doesn't tell me to take Genesis literally across the board nor endorse Calvinists views on Free Will and Election.

            Ah well then. As too the lesson you didn't make one. Anybody can copy/paste.

          • WCB-2

            When the Bible is clear, it is clear, even if is is clear about something you, Jim the Scott do not like.

            Ezekiel 11:19
            19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
            20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

            Why does not God do this for all now? The bible claims god is omnipotent, and does not lie. I know you do not want to consider this question. But you have no real answer to this conundrum. Nor will all the sophisticate theologians in the world can answer this in any way that will be satisfactory except to true believers looking for sophistry, a straw to cling to.

          • Jim the Scott

            >When the Bible is clear, it is clear, even if is is clear about something you, Jim the Scott do not like.

            But the Bible is not clear? I have even seen Atheists argue that with Protestant believers as a means of showing the Bible to be useless because it is not clear. So it is weird you break company with them.

            >I know you do not want to consider this question.

            Yer questions are about as meaningful as the Young Earth Creationists who challenges an Evolution to produce an Ape who gives birth to a human to "prove" evolution true. Then pronounces himself the winner when he doesn't get an answer.

            I short it is beneath me to answer silly questions.

          • WCB-2

            The Bible is often clear as it can be. Trying to claim it is not when it is will make you look like a religious fanatic playing at sophistry when any reasonable person reads the verses under discussion. Often the Bible is indeed not clear. Like when it tells us God is good, merciful, just and fair and then gives us Paul's predestination, God the Great Potter, election, and other theological claims that are not in fact merciful, just, fair or compassionate. God elects Jane, but does not give John election, arbitrarily, for no good reason? A lot of atheists who were once Christians abandoned the faith because of such contradictory and incoherent contradictions. And yes, many heard all the usual apologist's argument to try to paper over these issues. Your strawmanning arguments and polemics and diversionary tactics, are not answers.

            These questions are not silly when considering the many ex-Christians who left because of these questions.

          • Jim the Scott

            >The Bible is often clear as it can be.

            But without the Church, the Tradition and the Pope it is a lottery and you wind up picking and choosing which interpretations ya fancy. At least my Church can put up the guidelines to you don't go off the reservation.

            Yer goofy Calvinist understanding of Election is not interesting to a Catholic. Yer wasting my time expecting me to defend Calvinism. I am not a Calvinist. Calvin was a heretic.

            At this point yer quite mad. Touched in the heid and I am bored with you.

            >These questions are not silly when considering the many ex-Christians who left because of these questions.

            Fundies becoming Atheists because the Bible doesn't work if you use it in a Fundamentalist fashion vs a Catholic one? Makes sense to me.

  • Ficino

    Would it be accurate to say that in practice, the proximate "control" on rulings of the Church's magisterium is not scripture but prior rulings of the magisterium?

    • Dennis Bonnette

      You could be right. This is not my field, as you know. But one must recall that part of the formation of the Magisterium could also be the Church's own reading of Scripture. And then, we have Tradition as well -- as read by the Magisterium.

      • Ficino

        Yes, that's why I inserted "proximate."

  • God Hates Faith

    So, your god is perfect because Anslem says he is, and others agree. hen you rationalize everything in the Bible to be consistent with this belief, rather than challenging whether (1) that belief is wrong; (2) people in the Bible worshipped a different deity; or (3) the Bible is wrong.

    Its so easy when you assume your conclusion and then work backwards!

    • Ben Champagne

      " Then you rationalize everything in the Bible to be consistent with this belief, " To come to any conclusion at all, we must rationalize. Your suggesting it as a dirty word here assumes you don't know how to rationalize in the first place.

      • God Hates Faith

        Rationalize
        - "to ascribe (one's acts, opinions, etc.) to causes that superficially seem reasonable and valid but that actually are unrelated to the true, possibly unconscious and often less creditable or agreeable causes."

        You are confusing using reason, with rationalizing.

        • Ben Champagne

          Nope. I am really not. You clearly haven't thought this through.

          • God Hates Faith

            That isn't a rebuttal.

  • Jim the Scott

    What is it with this species of Gnu Atheists who show up defending a Fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible with more rigor than a Baptist Preacher on a Sunday morning so they can try to convince Catholics who are not Fundamentalism that "Christianity is wrong" or "God doesn't exist" or "the Bible is false according to my interpretation which you reject"? Or something something Darkside...something something complete.

    These people are out there even if there are no gods.