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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Some Atheist Theology

I hope and trust that this won't convince any religious people. I wouldn't want to do that. But I do trust it won't.

This is from a comment thread. I am responding to Dale Coberly who wrote

God may or may not exist. I have no way of knowing. But the existence of evil in the world is not evidence either way. The whole story of Jesus, I think, is meant to illustrate the point that God permits evil to happen to good people but that is not the end of the story. If nothing else, it helps people to not despair when evil happens to them. I would not take that away from them. A good deal more important to them than a rise in GDP.

I don’t want to argue with you either, but I did not mention the existence of evil. I discussed natural disasters. Augustine can argue that only agents with free will can have souls, so God must accept a world with evil. Omnipotence does not mean ability to overrule a logical contradiction. I disagree in many ways (explained below* no character limit in comment threads (or personal blogs))

But that wasn’t my argument. I was discussing natural disasters. The evil, if any, is committed by the tectonic plates which shift. Now I don’t claim this proves there is no God. I can’t help claiming that this proves there is no benevolent God.

Or take the story of Jesus (Jesus’s version). In that story, Jesus isn’t an aspect of God but a son of God (notably so is everyone else, in the gospels Jesus never hinted that he was God or a god of a new pagan faith). He must suffer horribly as a scapegoat.

If true, this story would prove that there is not a benevolent omnipotent God. Either God can’t let people into heaven unless Jesus suffers on the Cross (so He is not omnipotent) or he chooses not to (so he is not benevolent and demands suffering of the innocent). If true, the gospels would prove that there is not a benevolent omnipotent God.

Now this is all very simple. Obvious even. The fact that Christian doctrine is full of logical contradictions (I haven’t mentioned that 3>1) has been declared by extremely smart people to be proof that it is a higher more glorious truth than we mere mortals can understand. Faith can trump logic and evidence. It clearly has in this case.

Contra Augustine. I don’t believe we have souls in the sense he used the word (immortal souls) so I disagree fundamentally. But I also don’t agree that we have free will. I think our actions are determined by the laws of physics or truly random as asserted by the laws of physics. The causation can’t start with us. In any case, I don’t believe in human free will. But finally, he is talking about evil not un-necessary suffering. That wasn’t my topic at all.

Now you say that religious belief is a very good thing (even if the beliefs do not correspond to reality). I agree entirely. Not being a Christian I disagree with his claim that the truth will set us free. It’s just the truth and sometimes it’s better to believe other things. Fine. Agreed. Religion can be a very good thing and often is. Something to be cherished. But it is also false.


JimV said...

Absolutely not benevolent. Take hell--please! An eternity of torture? Isn't that going too far, even for Hitler, by a factor of infinity?

Punishment it seems to me has two purposes: 1) revenge; and 2) to deter future similar actions. Revenge for the wrongs we did in 70 years or so of life ought not to take more than a year or so, for the average sinner, of the kind of punishment rumored to be meted out in hell. As for deterrence, after the world ends, there will be nobody left alive to be deterred, so why continue the punishment forever? That is one mean god.

Despite going to Sunday morning church, Sunday evening youth service, Thursday-afternoon Release-Time Religious Education during the school year (one bunch of us were marched to the nearest Protestant church and another to the Catholic church; was that even legal constitutionally I wonder), and Daily Vacation Bible School in the summer, up through about age 19, Christianity never made sense to me. Sacrificing the innocent to save the guilty? The Trinity (Jesus sitting on the right-hand side of God in Heaven when they are both the same person?)? Does not compute. A god could not be that silly and be omniscient. (Of course the Norse and Greek gods were pretty silly, and maybe that attitude carried over.)

Then we find that 80% of evangelicals voted for Trump! What is religion good for (as in morally), again?

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