Cherry-Picking The Apologists

cherry-picking
Until recently I had hoped that the focus on logical argumentation by many of the leading apologists out there might have trickled down to the herd, giving me at least an interesting debate. Let me point out the fallacies on one single Youtube thread on which I was basically the only non-believer posting while 3 or 4 christians had a go at me.

My argument was that the bible is internally incoherent based on the following incompatible premises.

  1. God claims to love all sinners.
  2. 1 Corinthians 13 defines love.
  3. God becomes so angry over a single sin that he decrees the sinner deserving of eternal torment.
  4. This decree of damnation (as opposed to rehabilitation) imposed on a son he loved is in violation of the standard of love found in 1 Corinthians 13.

The entire thread in all its glory is found here (inactive).

Here are just some of the responses I encountered.

  • Why would ANYONE think 1 Corinthians has to do with God’s love?
    [YT user: spgdmin]

    This spgdmin is presumably a christian who ought to know his bible. 1 Corinthians 13 is called the “love chapter”. Unless he is saying that god’s love is different from the love that god requires of humans (it would actually have to be inverted to work as an argument here), then I can only conclude he does not read his bible much. This really becomes problematic if christians also claim Jesus is god, for he says in John 15:12 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (The deity of Jesus is not even necessary here since John 15:9 reads “As my father has loved me so have I loved you.”) If this love which christians are told to direct towards each other is some sick inverted love that requires torture consistent with the love of the “loving” god who metes out such torture in the form of Hell, then churches today would be better served if they had the apparati of the Inquisition at their disposal.

  • (1) Moral law implies a Moral Lawgiver.
    (2) There is an objective moral law.
    (3) Therefore, there is an objective Moral Lawgiver.
    simple logic
    Unless you refute the logic your position is illogical.

    [YT user: FORCHRST ]

    Having in no way introduced morality (as I wouldn’t since I don’t believe it exists as conventionally defined), this FORCHRST now demands that I must answer his argument on morality in order to make my argument on the internal incoherency of a malicious loving god logical.

  • You say, “This [the Bible’s] incoherence is my ONLY point!” Yes, this is the point you’ve unsuccessfully tried to make. However, this isn’t the point I’ve been asking you about, is it?
    [ YT user: spgdmin ]

    I suggest that if you take away the common christian tactic of claiming victory without argument, and dropping a red herring into the mix in an attempt to distract from the point staring them in the eye, they would be hard pressed for content. However, as incredible as it might seem, this tactic is considered an appropriate response by a majority of christians. In this case, spgdmin asserted that I did not understand the scriptures since I was a non-believer. I assured him that I had spent much time reading the Greek New Testament as a believer, and that I would like his interpretation of the passages in question. No response. And not surprising given his statement about 1 Corinthians above.

  • When you assert the Bible is “internally inconsistent” while you ignore your own inconsistencies, you are simply begging the question.
    [ YT user: spgdmin ]

    This is an response I’ll always treasure. Illogic does not come any rawer than this. And spgdmin does not even bat an eye. William Lane Craig! Ravi Zacharias! It’s time to take your boys back to school to learn some fundamentals! Not only does spgdmin call my argument an assertion, he trumps it by asserting that I had been inconsistent. Then he calls it “begging the question”. Perhaps the holy spirit does not have the power to assure that its residences perfectly avoid minor logical fallacies, but couldn’t the holy spirit at least stop believers from embarrassing themselves to such a degree?

  • Have you only told one lie in your life? I know that I’ve told many. And I thank God that I was punished for those lies leading me to repentance and a desire to know and tell truth.
    [YT user: cliffw77 ]

    This was in response to my claim that one sin, such as a lie, was enough for the “loving” god of the bible to deem the liar deserving of eternal torment. Cliffw77 confuses earthly “punishment” and eternal “damnation”. And could not convince him that this was illogical even after several attempts. That exchange drifted to another thread. He also attempted to make me demonstrate that there actually was someone that had been condemned for a single sin. I assured him that this was not necessary for my argument since I only had to show that, in his god’s eyes, the sinner of a single sin deserved eternal torment.

  • You probably first read [the argument you used] somewhere else?
    [ YT user: spgdmin ]

    Here is the inference that, because I had gotten the argument somewhere else, the argument was devalued somehow. Now the humorous thing is that this very same argument had been disparaged just a month earlier by another christian who claimed “I think you just made that argument up!” The truth is I had thought of the argument on my own, but in a wonderful demonstration of the ideological convergence of seekers committed to rational thought, I discovered that others had been using it long before I had!

I do have more hope for the maturing children of most christians. They are living in an age where irrational beliefs are more quickly exposed as fallacious though the medium of on-line interaction which allows them to explore beyond the isolation of their physical communities. As reasoning skills develop, I am confident that the cognitive dissonance of a religious belief system will draw many to the freedoms of rationality.


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9 thoughts on “Cherry-Picking The Apologists

  1. yeager says:

    That verse you quoted says the wages of sin is death, not “eternal torture.”

    God warns us that certain behaviors will separate us from Him. Those behaviors are called “sin”. When you sin, you separate yourself from God. If you separate yourself from the source of life, how can you live?

    No matter how much a father loves his son, what can he do if his son insists on engaging in self-destructive behavior? Sin is spiritually self-destructive behavior. Some sin is arguably less destructive. Telling a lie might be the spiritual equivalent of running into the street without looking both ways. Aggravated rape and murder of a juvenile might be the spiritual equivalent of shooting yourself in the face with a shotgun.

    Would you be angry if your son pushed you aside and ran into the street without looking both ways? Maybe? Even if this was the first time such a thing happened, it could have resulted in the child’s death. You might recognize the need to discourage that behavior from occurring again. But God doesn’t become so angry after only one sin. God does indeed show a pattern of forgiveness and restoration. Read Jeremiah’s book. Even with the Chaldeans at the gates of the city, God provided a way out for the people. All they had to do was surrender and they would have been spared destruction. But many were too wise to surrender. They fled to Egypt, to a place of safety. After all, wasn’t Egypt a superpower? But Jeremiah warned them that they would be destroyed if they trusted in Egypt to protect them. Many made a “rational” decision and ignored the prophet, and they were destroyed. What can a father do if his children insist on ignoring his warnings, and stubbornly persist in self destructive ways? Our heavenly father knows better than we do, and he wants us to trust him, just like you want your child to trust you and not run out into the street.

    But some sin makes God especially angry, because God is the God of all creation. What if your own son was responsible for the aggravated rape and murder of a juvenile? If you knew, would you turn him over to the authorities, or would you protect him? What if your son’s rape/murder victim was none other than your own daughter?

    A father can love his son, and still recognize the need for justice.

    The idea that people will be tormented for eternity for telling a fib is not biblical. Those who trust in Jesus Christ will be given eternal life as a free gift. Those who reject God separate themselves from the source of life. The result is death.

    • Hi Yeager,

      It sounds as if you believe a single lie is not deserving of eternal torment. Good for you if this is true.

      So if you don’t believe in hell or the idea that a single sin can separate us from a “loving” god, what do you believe?

      And people who do believe in hell must, according to you, be using a faulty standard of hermeneutics. What is your standard? You’ll need a consistent standard of hermeneutics before you dismiss the clarity of Revelation 21:8.

      The hermeneutic errors of those who believe the bible is the Word of God, yet believe in strange concepts such as hell is probably due to the fact that many of them don’t have a single consistent standard of hermeneutics. They just interpret away based on their feelings. I’m guessing that you don’t do this, and instead have a consistent standard of hermeneutics that you can let me look over. At least I certainly hope so given the confident tone of your comment.

  2. yeager says:

    I don’t see any hint in Revelations 21:8 that the individuals thrown into the lake of fire will suffer there for all eternity.

    I think a system of beliefs has to be internally consistent, and if a particular tree seems out of place in the forest, I think it is important to look at it in context of the whole picture to see what it might mean, rather than simply throwing out the whole forest without examining your perspective, your assumptions, and whether or not you may have misunderstood something. Incorporate the tree into the forest and look at the forest in a new way, or take another look at the tree to see if it fits in in a way that was not immediately obvious. I can’t give you a single consistent standard of hermeneutics because the Bible was written by many different authors through different periods in time for different purposes in different styles, and it contains different kinds of content such as parables, prophecy, history, friendly letters, songs, poems, etc. Each must be interpreted taking context and purpose (not to mention syntax, grammer, etc.) into account.

    In this case, I think too much is assumed about this place that we call “hell.” We have mixed scripture with tradition and art to create a place that is fleshed out a lot more in popular culture today than it was in the scripture.

    Also, we should examine what it takes for someone to earn the label “liar”. I wouldn’t label you a “smoker” simply because you smoked one cigarette when you were fourteen. I wouldn’t call you a smoker if you smoked for ten years but gave it up a year ago. In order to fit the label, you must be someone who smokes regularly and has not given up the practice. This idea is consistent with other scriptures. For instance, in 1 Cor. 6:9-11 Paul says that some of the believers in Corinth no longer fit the sinful labels that they once wore. In contrast, the idea that a person who tells a single fib will suffer eternal torment is not consistent with the nature of God, as illustrated in the rest of scripture, as you originally argued citing 1 Corinthians 13 as proof.

    So putting hermeneutics aside, did I answer your question about why the wages of sin is death?

    • If you have no single and coherent standard of hermeneutics, then don’t suggest the the bible is “truth” that god intends for humans to understand.

      A high percentage of christians disagree with you on the notion that the lake of fire is not eternal, and they all have bible verses to back their positions. When I ask them for their standard of hermeneutics, they also have nothing to offer.

      I’m a firm believer in what works. The bible as a source of truth does not work as demonstrated by the lack of doctrinal unity among bible believers.

      How does one find truth? Through the bible? Through direct revelation of the holy spirit? Through prayer? No. None of these have been demonstrated to have produced a consistent doctrinal position among those who claim they work. Claiming the bible is the source of truth while at the same time spouting doctrines in direct opposition to other bible believers is incoherent.

      The bible does not work as the source of truth. I unapologetically reject it on these grounds.

      And your answer to why the wages of sin is death remains incoherent. A loving father does not ever kill a son that is rebellious. And I’m assuming that you still believe that 3 days of death for a single man is the exchange rate for the sins of billions who would ordinarily die forever due to that sin. The math is wrong.

  3. yeager says:

    You reject the truth of the Bible because not all of the people who have read it have the same perspective about every part of it. That position seems illogical to me, but whether or not the Bible is “truth” is irrelevant to the question: The wages of sin is death. Why? This question assumes for a moment that the Bible is true and then challenges whether God’s supposed justice is consistent with God’s supposed love.

    I demonstrated how a loving, earthly father might kill his own son in my first post. Are you suggesting that you would protect your son from the authorities if your son had raped and murdered your own daughter? I can maybe understand that sentiment if your son was sorry for what he’d done and he begged you for forgiveness… but if he was unrepentant, even proud of what he’d done, you would protect him from judgement? Wouldn’t that be irresponsible? What if you had another daughter? Wouldn’t your failure to judge your son put her in danger?

    • If you claim to have a cookie machine that will make cookies faster and more delicious than a baker, you don’t study the machine. You examine the cookies it produces.

      If you have a book that claims to provide a single truth to all its believers, you don’t need to examine the book. You examine the doctrines of the book’s believers.

      This seems illogical to you?

      And before we continue, tell me what you believe. I have no idea what kind of hell if any you believe in. I have no idea how many sins or what kind of sins are deserving of hell. If you are arguing that Hitler deserves to die for his atrocities, that is one thing. If you are suggesting that a young girl deserves to be in anguish for eternity for her lies, that is another thing. What do you believe?

      And the fact that you extract your beliefs from a vague book without a standard of hermeneutics to guide you seems quite absurd. How do I (and you) know your interpretation of scripture, as it stands in opposition to the interpretation of other bible believers, is not based on what you simply want the bible to say? Consider the end product of having no such standard—a sundry of contradictory doctrines. This is the current state within the bible-believing community. The bible does not work as it claims. What does not work I reject out-of-hand without need of looking at the mechanism.

  4. yeager says:

    First the straw man:

    Christians are of one accord about the resurrection, the divinity of Jesus, and most core doctrines. What we differ on has more to do with semantics. Take for instance the Lord’s supper. Some Christians adamantly believe that the bread becomes the literal body of Christ, others see it to be more of a metaphor, others find a way to make it both literal and symbolic and neither at the same time. There is not much written in scripture to clarify the issue. Why? Because it isn’t terribly important.

    The fact that Christians are not in total agreement about every doctrinal detail is irrelevant to the question of whether God’s love is consistent with the wages of sin, your original issue. We can talk about other supposed inconsistencies after we’ve cleared up this one. That said, I can see how common ideas about “hell” can lead to uncertainty about God’s nature. So let’s talk about “hell”:

    http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_16.htm

    Now, putting the straw man aside for a moment, and assuming for the sake of discussion that the views on “hell” expressed in the above link are true: Does God’s justice still seem out of line with His love?

  5. Andrew says:

    yeager, that link you post spends way too much time talking about how “sheol” just means “grave” in the OT. That much is obvious. And then it tries to defend the other mentions of hell in the NT. I find most of them plausible, and I suppose they could be interpreted to mean annihilation, which seems to be what you believe. But the reason so many Christians believe hell is a place of eternal torment is because the Bible blatantly says so.

    “And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” (I wish I could use formatting in these comments, so I can bold “torment” and “no rest day or night.”)

    There are many other places, which the link you gave addresses; for example the parable of Lazarus. But these are all attempts to twist the meaning of what the words actually say, in an attempt to make them align with what you believe. The verse above seems pretty unquestionable to me, but I’m sure you’ll come up with a creative patch to “fix” it.

    While I was a Christian I was aware of all the patches I had to keep in my head to make everything fit. I would remind myself that there are some people who believe we didn’t make it to the moon, and that it was all a filmed hoax. The list of reasons for the hoax seem compelling at first glance, but upon further examination there are reasons for those seeming contradictions. In the same way I thought that just because Christianity had lots of “patches” didn’t mean it wasn’t true. But then one day I came to my senses and realized that all those patches have to _work_. Like Phil said, there’s no standard of hermeneutics. What are historical events? What were actual prophecies and predictions? What was only meant allegorically? What were absolute moral principles, and what were only cultural instructions?

    (Test: bold, italic, underline, emphasis, citation)

  6. Yeager said…

    “Christians are of one accord about the resurrection, the divinity of Jesus, and most core doctrines. What we differ on has more to do with semantics.”

    Are you joking? Just the essential doctrines surrounding faith, salvation and the need for salvation (hell, baptism, fideism vs evidence, security of the believer, predestination, age of accountability) are widely disparate among christians. These are issues central to christianity! Is this a straw man? It is like saying Americans are basically monolithic in their political beliefs.

    And now you’re arguing that, because you don’t take the conventional stance on hell, you’ve somehow said something important?

    Do you believe that a child of 10 who has told a lie deserves to die for that violation of a “loving” god’s moral standard? Tell us what you believe as I’ve already asked. How can I assess whether what you believe is coherent if you refuse to tell me what you believe? Or perhaps that’s the point? The less you tell me what you believe, the less I can threaten your beliefs?

    And where is the standard of hermeneutics you employ when formulating doctrine that I can cross-reference to assess whether you are interpreting all scripture consistently? Are you actually in the business of interpreting scripture without such a standard?

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