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[Off Topic] Two Things I Don’t Understand

From time to time on this site we discuss the theodicy — how is it possible to reconcile the existence of a good God with the existence of evil in the world.  It is a difficult problem, and anyone (in either camp) who says it is not plainly hasn’t thought about it enough.  Pain.  Suffering.  Misery.  Like a cruel and irresistible tsunami, the problem of evil threatens to engulf and overwhelm our minds.  Yes, there have been many excellent efforts at theodicy, and they are often helpful, but none is completely satisfactory.  The solution to the problem of evil is one of those things we see “through a glass darkly,” and we are not conceding defeat when we admit our solutions are tentative and our understanding far from complete.   

There is another thing I don’t understand, and I was thinking about it this morning during communion.  Why, in all of the vast universe, would God even take notice of me, far less love me enough to set aside the attributes of his deity and become a man and suffer and die for me.  The very thought is absurd.  Yet there is clear and convincing evidence that he did just that.  I have no right to share in the vast riches of God’s love and grace and mercy, but, astonishingly, he freely gives them to me anyway.  I have spent decades studying apologetics, and on an intellectual basis I am satisfied of the truth of Christ’s claims for himself.  However, my faith does not rest on mere dry intellectual assent.  Sometimes I sense his presence so strongly that, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, my heart burns within me, and at those times I experience the indescribably wonderful lightness of a spirit infused with hope.   

The title of this post is misleading.  There are a lot more than two things I don’t understand.  But I have hope and for me that makes all the difference.  I will leave you with a meditation from David B. Hart: 

[When confronted with enormous evil we must not attempt to] console ourselves with vacuous cant about the mysterious course taken by God’s goodness in this world, or to assure others that some ultimate meaning or purpose resides in so much misery. Ours is, after all, a religion of salvation; our faith is in a God who has come to rescue His creation from the absurdity of sin and the emptiness of death, and so we are permitted to hate these things with a perfect hatred. For while Christ takes the suffering of his creatures up into his own, it is not because he or they had need of suffering, but because he would not abandon his creatures to the grave. And while we know that the victory over evil and death has been won, we know also that it is a victory yet to come, and that creation therefore, as Paul says, groans in expectation of the glory that will one day be revealed. Until then, the world remains a place of struggle between light and darkness, truth and falsehood, life and death; and, in such a world, our portion is charity. As for comfort, when we seek it, I can imagine none greater than the happy knowledge that when I see the death of a child I do not see the face of God, but the face of His enemy. It is not a faith that would necessarily satisfy Ivan Karamazov, but neither is it one that his arguments can defeat: for it has set us free from optimism, and taught us hope instead. We can rejoice that we are saved not through the immanent mechanisms of history and nature, but by grace; that God will not unite all of history’s many strands in one great synthesis, but will judge much of history false and damnable; that He will not simply reveal the sublime logic of fallen nature, but will strike off the fetters in which creation languishes; and that, rather than showing us how the tears of a small girl suffering in the dark were necessary for the building of the Kingdom, He will instead raise her up and wipe away all tears from her eyes—and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain, for the former things will have passed away, and He that sits upon the throne will say, “Behold, I make all things new.”

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179 Responses to [Off Topic] Two Things I Don’t Understand

  1. From time to time on this site we discuss the theodicy — how is it possible to reconcile the existence of a good God with the existence of evil in the world.

    Christians do so by referencing the Fall of man.

    Also how could we be judged if we lived in a world without pain and suufering, ie without evil?

  2. He will instead raise her up and wipe away all tears from her eyes—and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain, for the former things will have passed away, and He that sits upon the throne will say, “Behold, I make all things new.”

    Is this a promise for the future, a statement of a past accomplishment, or a statement of what He is doing in the present?

    http://interlinearbible.org/revelation/21-5.htm

    Verb – Present Indicative Active – 1st Person Singular

  3. Thank you!

  4. as to this personal comment of yours Mr. Arrington:

    I have spent decades studying apologetics, and on an intellectual basis I am satisfied of the truth of Christ’s claims for himself. However, my faith does not rest on mere dry intellectual assent. Sometimes I sense his presence so strongly that, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, I feel my heart burning within me, and at those times I experience the indescribably wonderful lightness of a spirit infused with hope.

    At a low point in my life Christ was there for me in a tangible way that left no doubt for me that He is who He claims to be. This ‘personal experience’ of Christ that I had, contrasted to the ‘dry apologetics’ I’ve studied, no matter how strong the apologetics may be in their testimony, simply does not compare as to establishing the reality of Jesus to me personally. It is much like this statement:

    Nagel Asks, Is the World Really Knowable? – Joshua Youngkin – October 26, 2012
    Excerpt: science even at its best could never offer a complete picture of the world. That is, science as science will necessarily lack the vocabulary to capture and express the myriad private worlds of subjective, conscious experience. To take Nagel’s famous example, science could tell you everything you want to know about bats except what it is like to be a bat, to “see” via echolocation. Similarly, brain scientists could in principle learn every objective fact about your brain and how it works yet they wouldn’t by virtue of this knowledge know what sugar tastes like to you.
    In the final chapter of the book, Nagel sums the matter up this way:
    “In attempting to understand consciousness as a biological phenomenon, it is too easy to forget how radical is the difference between the subjective and the objective, and to fall into the error of thinking about the mental in terms taken from our ideas of physical events and processes.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65761.html

    To echo those thoughts, Apologetics even at its very best could never offer a complete picture of what it is like to be a Christian.

    Nicole C. Mullen – My Redeemer Lives – Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpCaNBhK4S0

  5. I’ve posted this before, but anyone who is interested in the problem of evil owes it to themselves to read Benjamin Wiker’s article of the same title:

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/.....em-of-evil

  6. Nice article Eric. It fits what I have said- that 1) “evil” is relative and 2) the “problem” is how to deal with it.

    Also it seems that “evil” drives learning. For example we always see a rapid advance in technology in war time. The same goes for disease. Technology increases when the threat increases, ie when problems arise that need to be solved.

    What fun would it be to live like the people in “Pleasantville”?

    But anyway, I have a way to eliminate evil- make everything acceptable. D’oh…

  7. So even the atheists at TSZ serve a purpose in God’s plan?

    I wonder how they feel about just being puppets on a string.

  8. The problem of evil pretty much disappears when one adopts the point of view that we incarnate many times on earth, experiencing all aspects of what it means to be human, but that this is not our true home. In our true home, which has been experienced by innumerable people who have had near death experiences, and whose nature is reported by Michael Newton’s clients in Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls, there is no suffering, God’s presence is experienced directly, and love is the basic way in which all beings (souls) relate to each other.

    The reason we experience earthly lives is that there is experience and growth to be had here that cannot be had in the environment of our true home.

    So it is all perfect. The temporary suffering we all experience here to a greater of lesser degree in any particular lifetime is perfect, part of His (and our) plan, and in fact chosen by each of us.

    It makes so much sense to me, which is one of the reasons that I can give unqualified assent to the idea of reincarnation.

  9. “The problem of evil pretty much disappears when one adopts the point of view that we incarnate many times on earth,”

    Hmm, I think not:

    A Small Glimpse At The Preponderance Of Negative Near Death Experiences Being Found In Foreign, Non-Judeo-Christian, Cultures:

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand:
    Excerpt: The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of `going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves. (Murphy 99)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999:
    Excerpt: We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:
    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living.
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....4&amp

    India Cross-cultural study by Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia Medical School and Dr. Satwant Pasricha of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India
    Excerpt: “Suddenly I saw two big pots of boiling water, although there was no fire, no firewood, and no fireplace. Then, the man pushed me with his hand and said, “You’d better hurry up and go back.” When he touched me, I suddenly became aware of how hot his hand was. Then I realised why the pots were boiling. The heat was coming from his hands! When I regained consciousness, I had a severe burning sensation in my left arm.” Mangal still had a mark on his left arm that he claims was a result of the burning. About a quarter of Dr Pasricha’s interviewees reported such marks.
    http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/apr/06pas.htm

    Near-Death Experiences of Hindus Pasricha and Stevenson’s research
    Except: “Two persons caught me and took me with them. I felt tired after walking some distance; they started to drag me. My feet became useless. There was a man sitting up. He looked dreadful and was all black. He was not wearing any clothes. He said in a rage [to the attendants who had brought Vasudev] “I had asked you to bring Vasudev the gardener.,,, In reply to questions about details, Vasudev said that the “black man” had a club and used foul language. Vasudev identified him as Yamraj, the Hindu god of the dead.
    http://www.near-death.com/hindu.html

  10. Near-Death Experiences Among Survivors of the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake (Chinese)
    Excerpt: Our subjects reported NDE phemenological items not mentioned, or rarely mentioned in NDE’s reported from other countries: sensations of the world being exterminated or ceasing to exist, a sense of weightlessness, a feeling of being pulled or squeezed, ambivalence about death, a feeling of being a different person, or a different kind of person and unusual scents. The predominant phemenological features in our series were feeling estranged from the body as if it belonged to someone else, unusually vivid thoughts, loss of emotions, unusual bodily sensations, life seeming like a dream, a feeling of dying,,, These are not the same phemenological features most commonly found by researchers in other countries. Greyson (1983) reported the most common phemenological feature of American NDE’s to be a feeling of peace, joy, time stopping, experiencing an unearthly realm of existence, a feeling of cosmic unity, and a out of body experience.
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-39-48.pdf

    The Japanese find death a depressing experience – From an item by Peter Hadfield in the New Scientist (Nov. 30th 1991)
    Excerpt: A study in Japan shows that even in death the Japanese have an original way of looking at things. Instead of seeing ‘tunnels of light’ or having ‘out of body’ experiences, near-dead patients in Japanese hospitals tend to see rather less romantic images, according to researchers at Kyorin University. According to a report in the Mainichi newspaper, a group of doctors from Kyorin has spent the past year documenting the near-death experiences of 17 patients. They had all been resuscitated from comas caused by heart attacks, strokes, asthma or drug poisoning. All had shown minimal signs of life during the coma. Yoshia Hata, who led the team, said that eight of the 17 recalled ‘dreams’, many featuring rivers or ponds. Five of those patients had dreams which involved fear, pain and suffering. One 50-year-old asthmatic man said he had seen himself wade into a reservoir and do a handstand in the shallows. ‘Then I walked out of the water and took some deep breaths. In the dream, I was repeating this over and over.’ Another patient, a 73-year-old woman with cardiac arrest, saw a cloud filled with dead people. ‘It was a dark, gloomy day. I was chanting sutras. I believed they could be saved if they chanted sutras, so that is what I was telling them to do.’ Most of the group said they had never heard of Near-Death Experiences before.
    http://www.pureinsight.org/node/4

    Hindu Woman asks Jesus to Make Himself Real – HE DID!!! – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKp8w1qR5XM

    Monk and Jesus Miracle Story
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOLEW3heQwA
    here is the transcript:
    The Buddhist Monk and Jesus
    Excerpt: Monk “And then the man turned and he walked away, going toward the door. And when he got to the door, he turned back around, and he said,
    Jesus: ‘My name is Jesus.
    Monk: “Now, I had never heard that name before, so I didn’t know who Jesus was. He didn’t tell me anything else about himself, only his name. And then I think I must have fallen asleep again. But later on in the night, I felt warmth in my leg. By morning, I had feeling. And when the doctors came to prep me for surgery, my leg was healed.”
    http://www.asiastories.com/?p=7

    related notes:

    Several studies (Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86) & Kellehear, 1993) Murphy 1999,2001) have indicated that the phenomenologies of NDEs is culture-bound. (Of Note: Judeo-Christian Culture NDEs are by far the most pleasant “phenomena”)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindestxt.htm

    G.K. Chesterton – Christianity and Buddhism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7rWFSEWj0

  11. “Why, in all of the vast universe, would God even take notice of me,…”
    IANAT (I am not a theologian) but may I suggest: To give a proper judgement at Judgement Day?

  12. Bruce David:

    The problem of evil pretty much disappears when one adopts the point of view that we incarnate many times on earth, experiencing all aspects of what it means to be human…

    ok, you’re officially a wack job.

    So Hitler and the camps were just people experiencing one aspect of what it means to be human. And we all get a chance to come back and experience that. No thanks.

  13. So Hitler and the camps were just people experiencing one aspect of what it means to be human. And we all get a chance to come back and experience that. No thanks.

    Perhaps you already went through that and you are just blocking it in this incarnation. You need a good chakra cleansing and your kundalini fire needs adjustment.

    Now go sit in a pyramid.

  14. Bruce David is not a whack job. He is wrong,
    but there is a difference. Let’s be respectful.

  15. Actually reincarnation is just as provable as the multiverse theory. Think about all those multiverses, each with the various combinations of characters in the infinite reincarnations. So silly. Trying to get rid of God or the need of a creator does lead to silliness.

  16. 16
    sagebrush gardener

    Sure, I believe in reincarnation – one time: “All who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

    And, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

  17. Evangelical cHristianity does not see any problem with why there is evil.
    The bible is clear on this.
    Evil comes from satan and from men and God stops it some but not all.
    God does not stop it all because justice demands our destruction.
    Out of his love he does stop much evil but he’s going out of his way.
    Jesus christ came to end evil but without this evil is not stopped.
    His work won’t be done till the new world.

    The book of Job settled why God allows evil.
    There is no mystery but simply poor physics by us.

    God is always saving us but we always deserve destruction.
    Satan does the destruction although sometimes with man’s consent.

    Asking why there is evil is saying otherwise earth is fine.
    A rejection of Gods charge that we are all evil in nature and deeds.
    Only faith in Christs execution, as successful replacement for us, saves us from our deserving destruction from satan and our fellow evil mankind.

    Why there is evil and why god allows it is the core point of accurate Christianity!
    This is why Evangelicals have to be apart from the rest of Christianity.
    Those guys don’t get the physics.

  18. Bornagain:

    “The problem of evil pretty much disappears when one adopts the point of view that we incarnate many times on earth,”

    Hmm, I think not:

    And just how is it that Thai, Chinese, and Japanese NDEs contradict my sentence in your blockquote?

    Mung:

    So Hitler and the camps were just people experiencing one aspect of what it means to be human. And we all get a chance to come back and experience that. No thanks.

    Well, you are always free to choose. But what you choose at a soul level between lives may be something whose purpose you cannot possibly guess while incarnate in this life.

    Joe:

    Perhaps you already went through that and you are just blocking it in this incarnation. You need a good chakra cleansing and your kundalini fire needs adjustment.

    Now go sit in a pyramid.

    Ridicule is always fun, and always gets a laugh and a knowing wink from the choir, but it may well hurt your case with anyone who might actually be considering my views with an open mind (and there are many who do consider these possibilities with an open mind), as we all know from watching how well ridicule works when utilized by Darwinists as a rhetorical device.

    Sagebrush Gardener:

    Sure, I believe in reincarnation – one time: “All who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

    And what about those of us (which includes me and nearly everyone on the planet) who have done both? How is it decided whether we will get the “resurrection of life” or the “resurrection of condemnation”? And how could either alternative be remotely considered just to someone who lives an ordinary life, full of many acts—some kind, loving, and compassionate, and others thoughtless, selfish, or cruel?

    The whole notion of a binary choice—Heaven or Hell for all eternity—makes no sense at all in the context of belief in an unconditionally loving God.

  19. BD states:

    “And just how is it that Thai, Chinese, and Japanese (and Indian) NDEs contradict my sentence in your blockquote?”

    Seeing that all pantheistic cultures studied that believe in reincarnation, that we have large scale NDE studies of, have extremely negative, horrific, even hellish, NDE’s, with a stark absence of the extremely positive, pleasant, heavenly, characteristics noted in very many Judeo-Christian NDE’s, I should think that should give you a very strong clue that “the problem of evil does not magically disappear when one adopts the point of view that we incarnate many times on earth,”. Perhaps you feel denying this consistent evidence for hellish NDE’s in pantheistic cultures, and stating your opinion over and over again, that evil does not really exist, All is good, All is god, somehow makes your opinion true, myself I call such disregard of the consistent facts presented to us from the best studies we have, denialism of reality.

    Moreover if we look at reality itself we find a correspondence to what the Judeo-Christian worldview tells us what we should expect and we find a lack of correspondence for what the pantheistic cultures expect. Judeo-Christianity tells us that when we die that we will enter either one enternity of bliss or another enternity of torment. And when we look at the best evidence that modern science has given us from special and general relativity we find that there are two very different ‘eternities’:

    notes:

    Time, as we understand it temporally, would come to a complete stop at the speed of light. To grasp the whole ‘time coming to a complete stop at the speed of light’ concept a little more easily, imagine moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light. Would not the hands on the clock stay stationary as you moved away from the face of the clock at the speed of light? Moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light happens to be the same ‘thought experiment’ that gave Einstein his breakthrough insight into e=mc2.

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    ‘Hypothetically’ traveling at the speed of light gets us to a place where time, as we understand it, comes to complete stop for light, i.e. gets us to a eternal, ‘past and future folding into now’, framework of time. This higher dimension, ‘eternal’, inference for the time framework of light is strictly warranted for us to make since light is not ‘frozen within time’ yet it is shown that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light.

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

    Yet there is another ‘eternity’ that is not quite as famous as the ‘eternity’ of accelerating to the speed of light in special relativity is. There is also another ‘eternity’, a place where time, as we understand it temporally, comes to a complete stop in reality. This other eternity in reality is found at the event horizon of a blackhole if a ‘hypothetical’ observer were to fall into the infinite curvature of the space-time of a blackhole.

    Infinite Space-Time curvature of a Black hole – short video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0VOn9r4dq8

    It is also very interesting to note that extreme space-time curvature has also recently been deduced for any hypothetical observer accelerating towards the speed of light. Please note the optical effect at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light.

    Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    Moreover traveling through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension has been testified to in very many Judeo-Christian NDE testimonies:

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.(Barbara Springer)

    As well, falling down through a tunnel to a place of torment has been testified to in a few western NDE’s. A man, near the beginning of this video, gives testimony of falling down a ‘tunnel’ in the transition stage from this world to hell:

    Hell – A Warning! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4131476/

    The man, in this following video, also speaks of ‘tumbling down’ a tunnel in his transition stage to hell:

    Bill Wiese on Sid Roth – video
    http://vimeo.com/21230371

    Here are the empirical confirmations for the two very different types of eternity found in reality:

    Experimental confirmations of Time Dilation (Gravitational Well and acceleration)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....nfirmation

    Another thing that testifies against your preferred pantheistic view of reality is this,,,

    This following video interview of a Harvard Neurosurgeon, who had a Near Death Experience (NDE), is very interesting. His NDE was rather unique from typical Judeo-Christian NDEs in that he had completely lost brain wave function for 7 days while the rest of his body was on life support. As such he had what can be termed a ‘pure consciousness’ NDE that was dramatically different from the ‘typical’ Judeo-Christian NDEs of going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension, seeing departed relatives, and having a life review. His NDE featured his ‘consciousness’ going outside the confines of space/time, matter/energy altogether to experience ‘non-locally’ what he termed, for lack of a better word, ‘the Core’, i.e to experience the infinite consciousness of God. It is also very interesting to note that Dr. Alexander retained a ‘finite sense of self-identity’, as Theism would hold for such a experience, and that he did not blend into the infinite consciousness/omniscience of God, as pantheism would hold.

    A Conversation with Near Death Experiencer Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander III, M.D. with Steve Paulson (Interviewer) – video
    http://www.btci.org/bioethics/...../vid3.html

    verse and music:

    from Lazarus and the rich man:

    Luke 16:26
    ‘And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

    Building 429 – The Space in Between Us – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1cDtSHqeuY

  20. Bruce David-

    FYI I happen to share your PoV wrt reincarnation (and chakras and kundalini). And yes I say that pyramids are antennas that can focus energy.

    I am OK with reincarnation because 1) I doubt and omni-deity would allow us to suffer for eternity for what we did in a blink of an eye- relatively speaking. IOW I say we get other chances to learn and “get it right” and 2) It may not be possible to do what we have to do in one life.

    I was trying to have fun with Mung.

  21. and keiths chimes in with more nonsense:

    The problem of evil remains a problem only if you insist that God exists, that he is omnipotent, and that he is perfectly good.

    Just cuz keiths sez so! Unfortunately for keiths, his bald assertion has already been shown to be a complete FAIL.

    What’s wrong keiths- afraid to follow the evidence like the coward that you are?

  22. Joe, despite your and BD’s druthers for how you would prefer God to operate the universe,,, philosophically/theologically, there are severe problems with the entire reincarnation precept of pantheists: One is ‘permanence of form’ as noted here in this video:

    G.K. Chesterton – Christianity and Buddhism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7rWFSEWj0

  23. Neil Rickert:

    I doubt that Barry is reading either of us.

    Only for a laugh. Ya see Neil, neither you nor keiths have anything reasonable to say. So what is there to read?

  24. We have another problem in addition to the Problem with Evil, and it’s the Problem with the Problem with Evil:

    If atheists are so open-minded, then how come every time the Problem of Evil is answered for them, they go on as if the answer had never been made?

  25. Bruce David:

    Well, you are always free to choose.

    Free to choose what?

    You think you get to make choices when you’re dead?

  26. ‘Also it seems that “evil” drives learning. For example we always see a rapid advance in technology in war time. The same goes for disease. Technology increases when the threat increases, ie when problems arise that need to be solved.’

    Well, Joe, also, in the Gospels we are told that, Son though he was, he(Christ) learned obedience through his sufferings’; and in the New Testament, we learn through the example of Jesus that believers are called to a life of obedience – the fruit of which are God’s blessings.

    So, the hackneyed answer, simplistic to many, is that this is indeed a place of trial, whereby we grow in our knowledge qua, in the Christian case, actual union, with God, the divine nature, the life of the Most Holy Trinity; which, in turn, answers to the first consideration we should harbour, namely, the purpose of our life here on earth.

    Of course, in many ways, like all the deepest spiritual mysteries, it remains unfathomable to our analytical intelligence.

  27. bornagain77-

    One does not have to be either a Buddhist or a Hindu to accept chakras and reincarnation.

  28. Joe: “One does not have to be either a Buddhist or a Hindu to accept chakras and reincarnation.”

    Well, the ‘permanence of form’ objection to the ‘plasticity of form’ that is required within the reincarnation scenario (mentioned in the video I listed about Chesterson), at least how it struck me, is basically, at this point in time with our advances in science, a scientific objection related to the conservation/permanence of quantum information and does not have to rely on Buddhist of Hindu doctrines in order for its objection to reincarnation to be valid as far as what our best science in this area is strongly suggesting to us is true.,,, I can sympathize and see where one would prefer there to be ‘do-overs’, seeing as the consequences of hell are so horrific, but I simply don’t see reincarnation as scientifically defensible at this stage to relieve that angst over the terror of hell. On one bright note though, seeing that hell is so terrifying for us mortals (at least mortals who have a bit of sanity and reverence towards God), Howard Storm, who was a rabid atheist professor, was pulled out of hell by Jesus after he had come to the end of himself, i.e. his pride, and finally called upon God, thus at least suggesting that there is some kind of method, although not reincarnation, that is possible after death to be pulled from the clutches of hell by Jesus.

    video – Howard Storm continues to share his gripping story of his own near death experience. Today, he picks up just as Jesus was rescuing him from the horrors of Hell and carrying him into the glories of Heaven.
    http://www.daystar.com/ondeman.....Ku3HIYsE30

  29. It’s not “do-overs”, it is about learning and growing.

    And I tried to watch the video but it didn’t make any sense.

  30. Joe: ‘I tried to watch the video but it didn’t make any sense.’

    Hmm, I just, serendipitously, found the video as I was writing my response to you, but from what I’ve seen of it so far, although the video is a bit on the feminine, language of the heart, side, I find the video to be fairly direct and to the point of exactly what is under discussion.

  31. Mung:

    Free to choose what?

    You think you get to make choices when you’re dead?

    You’re never dead—you only inhabit different environments depending on whether or not you happen to be occupying a physical body. And you are always at choice. Always.

  32. Bornagain:

    Seeing that all pantheistic cultures studied that believe in reincarnation, that we have large scale NDE studies of, have extremely negative, horrific, even hellish, NDE’s, with a stark absence of the extremely positive, pleasant, heavenly, characteristics noted in very many Judeo-Christian NDE’s, I should think that should give you a very strong clue that “the problem of evil does not magically disappear when one adopts the point of view that we incarnate many times on earth,”. Perhaps you feel denying this consistent evidence for hellish NDE’s in pantheistic cultures, and stating your opinion over and over again, that evil does not really exist, All is good, All is god, somehow makes your opinion true, myself I call such disregard of the consistent facts presented to us from the best studies we have, denialism of reality.

    You have missed the point completely. The problem of evil is the question of how a good God could allow suffering of innocent people to exist here on earth. Hellish NDEs experienced by people in other cultures are irrelevant to that question. A belief in reincarnation makes that understandable—we each live many lives and have all kinds of different experiences, but all of them are temporary, all of them are in fact chosen by us for the potential for growth inherent in them, and none of them can harm our essential selves, which are immortal.

    Furthermore, the effect you cite is far from uniform. There are innumerable cases of Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists living in the US and Europe who have had NDEs in which they experienced unconditional love and acceptance. Furthermore, there are cases of people raised in the East in a religion that includes belief in reincarnation who have had similar experiences. One case in point is that of Anita Moorjani, a woman of Indian descent, living in Hong Kong, who was raised in the Hindu tradition. She was in the hospital, dying of cancer, having been given no more than 36 hours to live, when she had a remarkable NDE from which she returned healed in her soul. Her body in short order caught up with the state of her soul, healing itself completely of the cancer, to her doctors’ astonishment. You can read her story here: anitamoorjani.com.

  33. BD: “Hellish NDEs experienced by people in other cultures are irrelevant to that question(the problem of evil).”

    Actually I would say they are directly relevant since hell is quite literally the embodiment of all evil itself,,,, but since you know that this is not going to end well for you(seeing as you have been through this many times before) I can see why you would want to deny that obvious fact.,,, As to your citation of Hindus and Buddhist who have grown up in Judeo-Christian cultures,,, UMMMM BD they grew up in Judeo-Christian cultures,,,, as to your lone example of a very young woman who had a NDE, I too have found anomalous examples of young people having positive NDE’s in foreign cultures, and chalk that anamolous evidence up to ‘age of accountability’ for the young people (I have a example of a young muslim man that did not conform to the consistent pattern),,, but the main elephant in the living room point that you ignore time and again is that the overwhelming preponderance of foreign pantheistic culture NDE’s are horrifying. This is certainly no small concern and for you to pretend you are being rational in your denial of this overwhelming trend in evidence is ludicrous.

  34. HMM BD, seems your lone example could possibly have been contaminated with Judeo-Christian influences in her upbringing:

    ,,Because of her (Anita Moorjani’s) background and British education,,,
    http://www.icandoit.net/newyor.....hor_id=709

  35. OT: For King & Country “The Proof Of Your Love” – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr9YVD05x8M

  36. Bornagain: re 33 & 34

    Judeo-Christianity tells us that when we die that we will enter either one enternity of bliss or another enternity of torment.

    Then how come the NDEs of people in the West are almost universally experiences of unconditional love and acceptance, regardless of belief. Shouldn’t the atheists, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the New Agers, and others living here who are not Christians be experiencing Hell when they die? What gives?

    Your claim is that people living in a “pantheistic” culture (a serious misnomer, by the way) will experience unpleasant NDEs regardless of their beliefs, and that people living in a “Judeo-Christian” culture will experience the opposite, again, irregardless of their actual beliefs. You then claim that this proves that “pantheistic” religion is wrong and what? Judaism and Christianity are right? All of them? All versions of Christianity from the Missouri Synod and Southern Baptists to the Evangelicals to Catholicism to Mormonism to liberal Christianity? And Judaism too? Does this mean we all get to go to Heaven just by virtue of living in this culture, no matter what we believe?

    And you simply ignore any other possible explanations for the effect you cite, like maybe beliefs regarding the nature of the afterlife are so strong in most people in many Eastern cultures that it affects what they experience in an NDE (unless it doesn’t, of course). The idea that the culture you live in determines what you will experience in an NDE regardless of what you actually believe or the strength of those beliefs is frankly ridiculous.

    You also have no explanations for the exceptions to your rule—the people in Eastern cultures who experience a blissful NDE and the occasional people in Western cultures who experience a frightening NDE.

    Frankly, I find this to be a truly stupid argument—so obviously flawed that one despairs of being able to respond with anything other than “You’re kidding, right?”

  37. I am near death every minute of every day and I’ve never had a NDE. What gives?

  38. BD, take very close look again at the best studies we have for pantheistic cultures:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-439542

    These are cold hard brute facts BD, Eastern culture NDE’s are overwhelming and consistently horrific in their description!. Deny the facts if you must but don’t expect me to consider you sane in your reasoning if you do!

    As for western cultures having negative (hellish) NDE’s, no theologian in Christianity that I know of has ever claimed that all people in Christian cultures go to heaven, in fact the breakdown is as such for NDE’s in Judeo-Christian cultures:

    THE FOUR TYPES OF NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES
    1) Initial Experience (sometimes referred to as the “non-experience”) Involves elements such as a loving nothingness, the living dark, a friendly voice, or a brief out-of-body experience; perhaps a visitation of some kind. Usually experienced by those who seem to need the least amount of evidence for proof of survival, or who need the least amount of shakeup in their lives at that point in time. Often, this become a “seed” experience or an introduction to other ways of perceiving and recognizing reality.
    Incident rate: 76% with child experiencers; 20% with adult experiencers
    2) Unpleasant and/or Hell-like Experience – Encounter with a threatening void or stark limbo or a hellish purgatory, or scenes of a startling and unexpected indifference, even “hauntings” from one’s own past. Usually experienced by those who seem to have deeply suppressed or repressed guilts, fears, and angers, and/or those who expect some kind of punishment, judgement, or discomfort after death.
    Incident rate: 3% with child experiencers; 15% with adult experiencers
    3) Pleasant and/or Heaven-like Experience – Heaven-like scenarios of loving family reunions with those who have died previously, reassuring religious figures or light beings, validation that life counts, affirmative and inspiring dialogue. Usually experienced by those who most need to know how loved they are and how important life is and how every effort has a purpose in the overall scheme of things.
    Incident rate: 19% with child experiencers; 47% with adult experiencers
    4) Transcendent Experience – Exposure to otherworldly dimensions and scenes beyond the individual’s frame of reference; sometimes includes revelations of greater truths. Seldom personal in content. Usually experienced by those who are ready for a “mind stretching” challenge and/or individuals who are more apt to utilize (to whatever degree) the truths that are revealed to them.
    Incident rate: 2% with child experiencers; 18% with adult experiencers
    http://www.theglobalintelligen.....007/fringe

    I remember once BD that you tried to deny the validity of NDE’s when you were pressed on this matter, just so to try to protect your belief in reincarnation (being that the negative NDE’s are so overwhelmingly consistent in cultures that believe in reincarnation), thus I think this following clip is fairly strong to prevent you from taking that route again:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

  39. Mung:

    I am near death every minute of every day and I’ve never had a NDE. What gives?

    Not near enough, evidently.

  40. Bornagain: re 38

    Nothing in your comment addresses the questions I asked and the points I made in 36.

  41. I never claimed what you think I claimed BD, thus why should I answer a straw man questions that you’ve erected???? MY “claim’, the one you always refuse to deal with honestly, for over a year that I know of, has consistently been that the NDE’s from cultures which harbor your preferred reincarnation religion have a overwhelming preponderance of negative, hellish, NDE’s (even your one example you gave today was found to be tarnished by British influences in childhood!). This is a cold hard brute fact BD. Like I said before deny it if you must if that is what you are compelled to do, but I certainly do not consider you sane in your reasoning for doing so.

  42. semi OT: Dr. Eben Alexander has a new article in The Daily Beast:

    The Science of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander – Nov. 18, 2012
    Can consciousness exist when the body fails? One neurosurgeon says he has seen it firsthand—and takes on critics who vehemently disagree.
    Excerpt: Many scientists who study consciousness would agree with me that, in fact, the hard problem of consciousness is probably the one question facing modern science that is arguably forever beyond our knowing, at least in terms of a physicalist model of how the brain might create consciousness. In fact, they would agree that the problem is so profound that we don’t even know how to phrase a scientific question addressing it. But if we must decide which produces which, modern physics is pushing us in precisely the opposite direction, suggesting that it is consciousness that is primary and matter secondary.
    This may sound absurd to some, but it is really no less absurd than the facts—now solidly established by quantum mechanics—of how we see the world around us right now. Every moment of every day, we completely personalize the data coming in at us from the physical world, but we do it far too quickly and automatically to be aware that we are doing so. Physicists discovered just how completely consciousness is wedded to the physical environment at the beginning of the 20th century, when the fathers of quantum mechanics (physicists such as Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein) established that units of light, called photons, can appear either as waves or as particles, depending on how we choose to measure them. The implications of this seemingly minor curiosity are in fact enormous, for they demonstrate that at a subatomic level, perception itself (our inner consciousness) is so wedded to the world that our consciousness of a physical event—say, a moving photon—actually affects that event. The very nonlocal features of consciousness, so well supported in Irreducible Mind and in Pim van Lommel’s wonderful book Consciousness Beyond Life, are the resounding evidence that consciousness itself is a quantum phenomenon. Refinement in our understanding of this mystery proceeds even today, as the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland for their innovative work in isolating the “collapse of the wave function,” or the exact process by which the conscious mind of the observer paints subatomic reality (hint: Einstein would still be frustrated!).
    Totally objective observation remains a simple impossibility. And while in our ordinary earthly life we miss this fact completely, it becomes much more apparent in near-death experiences, when the body and brain cease to mediate our encounter with the larger reality and we encounter it directly.
    Make no mistake: consciousness is a total mystery. As total a mystery now as it was 10, or 100, or 1,000 years ago. We simply do not know what it is. But consciousness is so familiar to all of us, so central to our identities, that we have learned to overlook this most obvious of facts.
    It is a deep mistake to do so. Far from being a shadowy epiphenomenon or “ghost in the machine,” as the philosopher Gilbert Ryle famously called it, consciousness is and always has been our primary link to the larger universe. My seven-day odyssey beyond my physical body and brain convinced me that when the filter of the brain is removed, we see the universe clearly for the first time. And the multidimensional universe revealed by this trans-physical vision is not a cold, dead one, but alive with the force that, as the poet Dante wrote some 600 years ago, “moves the sun and other stars.”
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/n.....eaven.html

    here was his first article a few weeks ago:

    Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife – Dr. Eben Alexander – Oct 8, 2012
    Excerpt: One of the few places I didn’t have trouble getting my story across was a place I’d seen fairly little of before my experience: church. The first time I entered a church after my coma, I saw everything with fresh eyes. The colors of the stained-glass windows recalled the luminous beauty of the landscapes I’d seen in the world above. The deep bass notes of the organ reminded me of how thoughts and emotions in that world are like waves that move through you. And, most important, a painting of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples evoked the message that lay at the very heart of my journey: that we are loved and accepted unconditionally by a God even more grand and unfathomably glorious than the one I’d learned of as a child in Sunday school.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/n.....rlife.html

  43. MY “claim’, the one you always refuse to deal with honestly, for over a year that I know of, has consistently been that the NDE’s from cultures which harbor your preferred reincarnation religion have a overwhelming preponderance of negative, hellish, NDE’s (even your one example you gave today was found to be tarnished by British influences in childhood!). This is a cold hard brute fact BD. Like I said before deny it if you must if that is what you are compelled to do, but I certainly do not consider you sane in your reasoning for doing so.

    But their ideas of reincarnation are embedded within religious systems to which I don’t subscribe. I am not a Buddhist, nor a Hindu, nor a Muslim, nor a Taoist, nor any other religion. They all believe in some version of Hell, as do you. I do not. Your comments are therefore irrelevant to me, and to most of the people I know in this country who believe in reincarnation.

  44. Bornagain:

    In fact, I think we’ve just hit on the real reason for the preponderance of unpleasant NDE experiences in Eastern countries and the lack of same in this country. In the US and Europe, with the exception of a minority—mostly conservative Christians—people do not believe in the existence of Hell, whereas this is not true in the East. It is this belief in Hell that exists in the consciousness of Eastern people that prevents them from experiencing the more accurate version of the between life environment that is generally encountered in western NDEs.

    Thanks for allowing me to clear this up!

  45. Bornagain:

    Oh yeah, and the minority of referred to—conservative Christians—for the most part, although they believe in Hell, don’t believe that they are going there, because they have accepted Jesus as their savior and thus will be headed for Heaven. So they don’t have a fear of Hell either, unlike the Eastern populations.

    This is great—it all fits perfectly!

  46. Well BD you have managed once again to twist things around in your fertile imagination until, somehow, in contrast to much evidence that is readily available, they fit ever so loosely. I shake my head in disbelief at such willful self deception. So be it. I’ll press you no further on your many inconsistencies for it is a waste of time. You, much like neo-Darwinists, want to believe what you want to believe no matter what evidence presented to you says to the contrary! But one thing I am curious about is why, since you apparently believe these many wonderful heavenly accounts coming from Judeo-Christian cultures are true, just why in blue blazes would you prefer a reincarnation scenario to be true where you would be yanked out of that heavenly dimension to face these trials on this earth all over again, until finally, maybe, perhaps after a billion lifetimes, you manage to achieve perfection, nirvana, or whatever? Frankly, this world, for all the beauty God has endowed within it and around it, still sorely tries men souls with the evil present in it. Just look at Israel and Gaza today!, not to mention each of our personal trials day by dat (I know you deny evil exists, but anyways,,). I’m very, very, happy to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a unimaginably wonderful paradise awaits in the higher heavenly dimension, and I am extremely grateful to Jesus for making a way for me, and anyone, to inherit that paradise. It is beyond me how someone would, without proper foundation of evidence, want to reincarnate over and over and over again.,,, Perhaps this saying best sums up my thoughts on the reincarnation scenario:

    “Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results! :)

  47. Bornagain:

    Well BD you have managed once again to twist things around in your fertile imagination…

    Thanks for the compliment.

    But one thing I am curious about is why, since you apparently believe these many wonderful heavenly accounts coming from Judeo-Christian cultures are true, just why in blue blazes would you prefer a reincarnation scenario to be true where you would be yanked out of that heavenly dimension to face these trials on this earth all over again, until finally, maybe, perhaps after a billion lifetimes, you manage to achieve perfection, nirvana, or whatever?

    People don’t get “yanked out of that heavenly dimension”, they agree to come here for the growth that can be had here on earth. Very advanced souls sometimes return to earth in order to help the rest of us along as well. No soul is ever forced to do anything against his or her will. This includes you, by the way. You also agreed to come here, and I doubt that it is your first time, either. And for most souls, the number of earthly lifetimes required until there is no more to be gained by coming here numbers in the hundreds, not the billions.

    If you really want to know the answer to that question, I can recommend two excellent sources: Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, and Journey of Souls by Michael Newton.

    It is beyond me how someone would, without proper foundation of evidence, want to reincarnate over and over and over again.

    There is abundant evidence for the truth of reincarnation. Some people simply choose to ignore it.

    Also, to come full circle, a belief in reincarnation is the only way that I can make sense of the “problem of evil”—how could an infinitely loving God create a world in which so much suffering happens to so many innocent people. See 8 and 32.

  48. Claiming solid evidence for reincarnation when you have none is not establishing a solid empirical basis for reincarnation, (I certainly don’t consider personal interpretations of NDE’s taken from predominantly Judeo-Christian cultures to be solid evidence for your case), and denying the reality of evil, as you did here,,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-439554

    ,,,is certainly not dealing with the problem of evil. ,,, Moreover, as far as physics is concerned, and what it would actually take for you to provide a solid empirical basis for your beliefs, the permanence/conservation of quantum information, and the finding of two very different types of eternity within physical reality (General and Special relativity),,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-439591

    ,,,is certainly not conducive towards you ever providing a coherent empirical basis towards your belief as far as physical reality itself is concerned.

  49. Claiming solid evidence for reincarnation when you have none is not establishing a solid empirical basis for reincarnation, (I certainly don’t consider personal interpretations of NDE’s taken from predominantly Judeo-Christian cultures to be solid evidence for your case), and denying the reality of evil, as you did here,,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-439554

    ,,,is certainly not dealing with the problem of evil. ,,, Moreover, as far as physics is concerned, and what it would actually take for you to provide a solid empirical basis for your beliefs, the permanence/conservation of quantum information, and the finding of two very different types of eternity within physical reality (General and Special relativity),,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-439591

    ,,,is certainly not conducive towards you ever providing a plausible empirical basis towards your belief in reincarnation as far as physical reality itself is concerned. ,,,

    Here are a few notes as to what I would consider establishing a credible empirical basis in physics towards a primary religious/metaphysical claim:

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

  50. Here is a interesting twist on Near Death research:

    Raymond Moody on Shared Death Experiences- video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWjYjsh8i0w

  51. Barry,

    I think that there are 2 distinct problems of evil.
    1. Evil exists, therefore God can’t exist.
    (this is not really a problem because if evil exists, then God MUST exist. Otherwise, evil is merely “not preferrable.”)
    2. God does exist, but why does He permit evil?

    In my faith tradition this is answered by conceding that God is not strictly omnipotent because true omnipotence is not possible. God cannot create an object so heavy that He cannot lift it. God cannot be dishonest or malicious. God cannot violate our free will and justly punish us. etc.

    One thing that my faith tradition teaches that I haven’t yet seen elsewhere in quite the same way, is that God must permit us to experience evil, even senseless evil, in order for us to truly understand the difference between good and evil. Only by experiencing pain, frustration, futility, and despair, can we truly appreciate the good. God literally does not have the power to “implant’ this knowledge inside of us. We must go through it ourselves if we are to become what God wants us to be: wise.

  52. Good thoughts, Collin.

    Don’t we have to treat two categories differently? Namely, we have (at least) the following categories, which are sometimes too quickly lumped together as “the problem of evil”:

    1. Pain, suffering, old age, sickness, natural disasters, the general heartaches of life.

    2. Real evil, in the sense of one sentient being purposely and malevolently harming another, engaging in cruelty, etc.

    To be sure, materialists often argue against God’s existence on the basis of either or both. You rightly point out that such arguments are nonsensical and self-defeating, so I won’t belabor that further.

    Yet for faith traditions, it seems there might still be some value in distinguishing between the two for the following reason:

    We can reconcile the first kind of “evil” (pain, suffering, the general challenges of life) with a benevolent God who wants us to experience things and learn and grow. In other words, even if God is not directly causing these experiences, He has still set up a system which gives us ample opportunity to experience such things. I think there is good reason to believe that such experiences are ultimately beneficial and can serve to bring us closer to God. So in that sense, a “good” God could still be fully and quite closely involved with these experiences and not necessarily run afoul of our sensibilities that God should be “good.” Indeed, God could be viewed as even wanting us to go through these tough times for our own good. In these cases we are perhaps like the child who — without a larger and more long-term perspective — cries out that his parents are “mean” for making him do his homework, do the dishes, clean the house, get a flu shot from the doctor, or even suffer on the dentist’s chair.

    The second category — real evil — is perhaps harder. One might very well conclude that surely God doesn’t really want people to suffer through pure evil. Wars, holocausts, gang violence, etc. Surely God Himself sorrows to see such things (as scripture suggests). Surely God would step in and prevent at least these atrocities, we might be forgiven for thinking.

    So is the second category of evil really a different situation, or is it just a more extreme case of the first category?

    If the second category is somewhat different (as I’ve defined it, it includes those events intentionally caused by another sentient being), is there another principle at work that would allow us to reconcile the existence of this “real evil” with God (and God’s goodness)?

    Specifically, is there a limit on God’s power (i.e., he cannot prevent evil)? Is there another principle at work (perhaps, as suggested in some scriptures, he lets evil flourish to more fully justify the righteous and punish the sinner)? Or perhaps having granted us a certain measure of free will as sentient beings, is God then obliged to honor that free will to some extent, even if it means we harm one another? Does all this “evil” not really matter in the larger perspective, because it is all temporary anyway and eventually those who trust God will end up in a place in which “there are no more tears”? Some combination of these?

    Anyway, I think there are some very valuable and interesting questions here about the “problem of evil.”

    I agree with you that it is perfectly possible to reconcile God’s existence and the existence of evil (indeed, that is the only way). I just want to make sure we are distinguishing the two categories and perhaps throw out some musings.

  53. Eric,

    Those are all interesting thoughts. I have always thought that if God were to intervene too much, then people would refrain from evil, not because they want to, but because they merely fear punishment. If God’s goal is to have us become good out of a genuine desire for goodness, then we have to have the space to act good or evil without a certain knowledge of divine retribution. We cannot flourish and become truly good if we are always feeling coerced into being good. Even the threat of punishment can taint a good desire. It’s like how sometimes you engage in an activity as a hobby, but if someone paid you to do it, it would quickly become drudgery and a chore. God wants our goodness to be a hobby rather than a chore, if that makes any sense.

  54. Bornagain:

    Claiming solid evidence for reincarnation when you have none is not establishing a solid empirical basis for reincarnation, (I certainly don’t consider personal interpretations of NDE’s taken from predominantly Judeo-Christian cultures to be solid evidence for your case)

    I used the term “abundant”, not “solid”. The trouble with “solid” is that it is more or less synonymous with “convincing”, and convincing, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The evidence is solid to me, but it will never be to you, since you have already rejected the idea.

    I have no idea what you mean by the term “empirical” in this context. You certainly can’t perform controlled experiments, any more than one can perform controlled experiments to prove the authenticity of Biblical accounts of Jesus’ life.

    But the evidence is abundant, as in there is lots of it. There are innumerable cases of past lives recalled through hypnosis, as well as many recalled, particularly in children, without benefit of that technique. Dr. Ian Stevenson has documented over 2,000 such cases, and examines 20 of the most compelling ones (ie., those for which there is independent corroboration) in Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. More such cases are documented in Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect by the same author. There are also Michael Newton’s two books detailing case studies of over a hundred of his clients who he regressed into past lives and then through their death into their experiences between lives. What is compelling about Newton’s cases is the consistency with which that realm is described by his clients, none of whom knew each other nor had any knowledge of what the others had reported. His clients consistently reported that they incarnate many times, and described the process of incarnation in some detail (which agreed with each other).

    I just outline some of the evidence. There is much more.

  55. “There are innumerable cases of past lives recalled through hypnosis,”

    Really???,,, I give very credible evidence from best physics we have,, which is amazingly in line with what Judeo-Christian metaphysics holds as true,,,

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

    ,,,and you give evidence from a pseudoscience that is infamous for its abuse by charlatans?,,, And you wonder why you failed to get taken seriously??

  56. “There are innumerable cases of past lives recalled through hypnosis,”

    heck, i have billions of past lives alone.

    In one, I was a snail. I was very, very confused, thinking I was supposed be experiencing all aspects of what it means to be human.

    But then one day I ended up on a plate in a fancy restaurant, and then I understood everything.

    WACK JOB! RUN!

    How many times did Jesus have to be re-incarnated before he got it right?

  57. BD, I’ve been kind of thinking on the incompatibility of your reincarnation belief contrasted to your denial of evil belief.,, If lack of perfection (not good, and thus evil in some sense) does not exist in reality, what in blue blazes are you continuously reincarnating towards??? You simply have no way to demarcate your progress if you deny the reality of all evil. ,,, Moreover, logically, there can only be one infinitely powerful being,,,

    God Is Not Dead Yet – William Lane Craig – Page 4
    The ontological argument. Anselm’s famous argument has been reformulated and defended by Alvin Plantinga, Robert Maydole, Brian Leftow, and others. God, Anselm observes, is by definition the greatest being conceivable. If you could conceive of anything greater than God, then that would be God. Thus, God is the greatest conceivable being, a maximally great being. So what would such a being be like? He would be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and he would exist in every logically possible world. But then we can argue:

    1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.
    2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
    3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
    4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
    5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
    6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
    7. Therefore, God exists.

    Now it might be a surprise to learn that steps 2–7 of this argument are relatively uncontroversial. Most philosophers would agree that if God’s existence is even possible, then he must exist. So the whole question is: Is God’s existence possible? The atheist has to maintain that it’s impossible that God exists. He has to say that the concept of God is incoherent, like the concept of a married bachelor or a round square. But the problem is that the concept of God just doesn’t appear to be incoherent in that way. The idea of a being which is all-powerful, all knowing, and all-good in every possible world seems perfectly coherent. And so long as God’s existence is even possible, it follows that God must exist.
    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....ml?start=4

    thus it follows that only one human person, if he were to achieve spiritual perfection, would ever truly attain ‘infinite perfection’ in the reincarnative sense since there can rationally only be one infinitely perfect being!!!,,,

    notes:

    As weird as it may sound, this following video refines the Ontological argument into a proof that, because of the characteristic of ‘maximally great love’, Almighty God must exist in more than one person:

    The Ontological Argument for the Triune God of Christianity – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVYXog8NUg

    Verse and music:

    Psalm 53:2-3
    God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

    Evanescence – Lost in Paradise (Lyric Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rnxlW5TrBs

  58. And you wonder why you failed to get taken seriously??

    On the contrary, I get taken seriously by quite a few people.

    But I don’t wonder why I don’t get taken seriously by you or Mung or Joe. I know why—your minds are closed up tighter than drums.

  59. Bornagain:

    BD, I’ve been kind of thinking on the incompatibility of your reincarnation belief contrasted to your denial of evil belief.,, If lack of perfection (not good, and thus evil in some sense) does not exist in reality, what in blue blazes are you continuously reincarnating towards??? You simply have no way to demarcate your progress if you deny the reality of all evil. ,,, Moreover, logically, there can only be one infinitely powerful being,,,

    Your argument, like so many I have encountered in this blog, confuses preference for and against with moral good and evil. I prefer having enough money to meet my needs over not having enough. Does this make having insufficient money evil in my eyes? Of course not. When I deny the absolute existence of evil, I am speaking strictly in the moral sense. I do not deny the reality of desire for one thing or one state over another thing or state. That isn’t morality, it is simply preference. Preference can be quite strong and passionate, but it is not equivalent to moral judgment.

  60. “On the contrary, I get taken seriously by quite a few people.”

    “There’s a sucker born every minute”
    credited to P. T. Barnum

  61. That isn’t morality, it is simply preference.

    So preference in morality between what is less desirable, (evil), and what is more desirable (good) is just defined away in your imagination? Thanks for clearing that up! :)

    Matthew 23
    23“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

  62. Bornagain:

    thus it follows that only one human person, if he were to achieve spiritual perfection, would ever truly attain ‘infinite perfection’ in the reincarnative sense since there can rationally only be one infinitely perfect being!!!,,,

    We are all made in the “image and likeness” of God. The purpose of coming to earth is to be able to experience that in the fullest possible way. In order to experience something, it is necessary to also experience its opposite, as Colin pointed out in 51. Thus, we also experience all aspects of the opposite of being in His image and likeness (which most religions call sin*). In order to do this, it is necessary to forget temporarily Who We Really Are. So the process is one of gradual remembering. This process takes many lifetimes. And in the process we souls grow in wisdom and power.

    No one said (or at least I don’t say) that the goal is to become an infinitely perfect being in the sense of being “maximally great” in all respects. The image will always be less than the original in at least one respect—it is the image and the original is the original.

    *Thus, what many people see as sin, or evil, is actually a necessary part of the process of actualizing the purpose of life on earth, and thus, ultimately, not evil at all, but rather part of the perfection of the design.

  63. That isn’t morality, it is simply preference.

    So preference in morality between what is less desirable, (evil), and what is more desirable (good) is just defined away in your imagination? Thanks for clearing that up!

    No, that is not what I said, nor does it follow from what I said. I said that preference is not morality. Morality includes notions of good and evil, whereas preference does not. Therefore they are not the same thing. What don’t you understand?

    Please don’t put words in my mouth (or my keyboard).

  64. Well BD, I think propitiation needs to be revisited:

    Propitiation Revisited – video (The just Judge and the guilty daughter)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9v1h1PeFtg

  65. this one is a bit better:

    G.O.S.P.E.L. – video
    https://vimeo.com/20960385

  66. ‘No one said (or at least I don’t say) that the goal is to become an infinitely perfect being in the sense of being “maximally great” in all respects.’

    got to love this forever plastic religion of yours, I seen you morph your beliefs from pantheism to what can now uniquely be called Bruce Davidism. You got your own religion now from what I can tell! :)

  67. got to love this forever plastic religion of yours, I seen you morph your beliefs from pantheism to what can now uniquely be called Bruce Davidism. You got your own religion now from what I can tell!

    My beliefs haven’t changed at all. Your understanding of them may have improved somewhat, however. Time will tell.

  68. “My beliefs haven’t changed at all.”

    HMM, I guess lying is not evil and is just another path towards spiritual growth in your reincarnating process???

    Bruce Davidian sermon on Nov 2011:

    Well, this is very interesting. I went to the dictionary (American Heritage Dictionary, 1989) to find out the official definitions of the two terms. I found that “theism” is defined to be “belief in the existence of a god or gods”, so by that definition I am certainly a theist. What surprised me is that the definition of pantheism is “the doctrine of identifying the Deity with the various forces and workings of nature.” I have always understood pantheism to mean the belief that everything that exists is a part of God. By that definition, pantheism is a species of theism, and so I was both. However, it appears I was wrong about the definition of pantheism, so I stand corrected. I am a theist but NOT a pantheist.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-410391

    Bruce Davidian today:

    “My beliefs haven’t changed at all. Your understanding of them may have improved somewhat, however. Time will tell.”

  69. Bornagain: re 64 & 65

    You know how thoroughly I have thought out my beliefs (or you should know, at any rate). Do you actually think that a couple of guys in videos telling me something different is going to make one iota of difference to me?

  70. “You know how thoroughly I have thought out my beliefs”

    Thanks for the laugh :)

    The last word is yours for the one thing I do know about you is that no rationalization is off limits to you to defend your absurd beliefs,

  71. Bornagain:

    Well, this is very interesting. I went to the dictionary (American Heritage Dictionary, 1989) to find out the official definitions of the two terms. I found that “theism” is defined to be “belief in the existence of a god or gods”, so by that definition I am certainly a theist. What surprised me is that the definition of pantheism is “the doctrine of identifying the Deity with the various forces and workings of nature.” I have always understood pantheism to mean the belief that everything that exists is a part of God. By that definition, pantheism is a species of theism, and so I was both. However, it appears I was wrong about the definition of pantheism, so I stand corrected. I am a theist but NOT a pantheist.[empahsis supplied by Bornagain]

    If you will read the quote you cite carefully, you will understand (or you should understand) that what changed was not my beliefs. They remained the same. The only thing that changed was my understanding of the meaning of the word, “pantheism”, (based on having just looked it up in the dictionary).

    So let me ask you a question. Do you really not understand that distinction, or are you just desperate to make me look bad by any means you can come up with? In other words, are you not very bright, or are you just basically dishonest?

    P.S. If you haven’t noticed this about me yet, this is true: interact with me with respect and basic good manners and I will do the same. Insult me and you’re liable to get your head handed to you on a platter, like you just did. Or are you not smart enough to see that that is what just happened.

  72. Hmmm, so your belief that you are pantheist changed to you believing that you are a theist, yet this radical renaming of your beliefs to an entirely different belief system is not a change in your beliefs at all? But was only a improvement in your understanding of what you were believing? Yet you claimed,,,

    ““My beliefs haven’t changed at all. Your understanding of them may have improved somewhat, however. Time will tell.”

    And somehow this is all a misunderstanding on my part?,,, But why should you be so upset and imagine that you ‘handed me my head on a platter’ when I pointed this out this change in belief to you? Remember evil does not really exist so you should be as accepting of my version of truth as you are accepting of your version of truth.

  73. Of note:

    idiom – ‘have someone’s head on a platter’ = apprehend and punish someone severely.

    King Herod wanted and got St John the Baptist’s head on a platter.
    http://www.english-test.net/forum/ftopic24876.html

    BD, Seems you may have to do a lot of reincarnating to get of all these base Judeo-Christian influences purged from your soul. :)

  74. Re 72:

    Well, thanks for the clarification. It seems you actually don’t understand the distinction between 1) changing one’s beliefs and 2) an updated understanding of the meaning of a term used to characterize those beliefs.

    Let me spell it out for you in a way you might be able to understand.

    1. There are my beliefs on the one hand and a label I used to describe them on the other (namely “pantheism”).
    2. I discovered, by looking it up in the dictionary, that my application of the label “pantheism” to my worldview was an incorrect use of the term.
    3. The paragraph you quoted in 68 was simply an admission that I had misunderstood the meaning of “pantheism” and that it didn’t apply to my beliefs after all.
    4. My beliefs, my worldview, didn’t change. All that changed was my understanding of the meaning of “pantheism”, and a realization, based on this revised understanding, that I had incorrectly used it to describe my worldview.

    I can’t put it any clearer than that. If you persist in claiming that my beliefs changed, I can only assume that you are deliberately misunderstanding this quite simple point in order to find some way of invalidating my positions by maligning my character (accusing me of having “plasticity” in my beliefs and then lying about it).

    A piece of advice, Bornagain: given your modest intellectual gifts, a little humility might be in order.

  75. Trust me, I have looked at this “problem” enough. I spent 12 years in constant agonizing pain from a back injury and now have recurrent corneal erosion which is basically like having someone scraping my eye out with a hot knife for 30 minutes to an hour, several times a day, usually 10 days a month, for the rest of my life. I have a crappy job I hate that pays next to nothing, seasonal affective disorder, anger issues, and some sort of equilibrium disorder that makes driving very difficult for me. I lost two loved ones within the same year and I have been an outcast even among other outcasts everywhere I have gone. I know suffering first hand and none of it ever makes me question God. Here are exerpts from something I wrote about on this topic in October:

    Who are we to demand answers from God?

    Since this is an election year that is a referendum of the welfare state I could just as easily call it “the problem of laziness.” “If God exists then He could do things for me, so why should I have to? Since I have to do these things, therefore God doesn’t exist.” Michael Drosnin basically says the exact same thing “If the Bible code came from an all-powerful God, he would not need to tell us the future. He could change it himself.” You can almost hear the author whining “But I don’t wanna change the future, why can’t God do it for me? Because he’s stinky, that’s why! I have to change the future myself, so God doesn’t exist, aliens did it!”

    Just as a parent wants their child to grow up one day, God wants us to grow up too. A parent lets go of a child’s hands so the child can walk on their own. Sure, the child will fall, several times, before learning to walk, but the child will never learn to walk if the parent never lets go. Just like a teacher asking a question to a student, God asks us to do things He could easily do for us so that we can learn on our own. It is the most rewarding thing in the world to watch your child grow to become an adult, an experience made all the better because of the hardships faced along the way. If we are made in God’s image why should it be any different for Him? The most rewarding thing for God would then be watching us overcome the problems we must face and grow into our full potential. Sure, God could do everything for us, but then what would be the point in creating us?

  76. Oh I get it, your beliefs about your beliefs can change, say believing you are a pantheist first then believing you are a theist later, but your beliefs of what led you to believe that you were a pantheist in the first place can’t change. And then when someone points out this major revision in belief about what you actually are, a theist instead of a pantheist, is in fact a major adjustment of your belief system, you just accuse whomever points out that this major redefinition of your belief system of ‘modest intellectual gifts’ because they just don’t understand which beliefs you are allowed to adjust and which you are not. Thanks for clearing that up. :) (Heads I win, tails you lose, you retard, thanks for playing),,

  77. blast from the past:

    Here you go Bruce. Since you believe that evil does not really exist and thus you must believe in subjective morality (if it feels good do it), here’s the ‘moral’ of the story;

    Bruce Almighty (2003): Moral of the Story – video clip
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/an-YU6l4tbbmhbJmm/

    Bruce: There were so many. I just gave them all what they want.
    God: Yeah. But since when does anyone have a clue about what they want?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-410306

  78. Bornagain: re 76

    Well, I see you’re not going to take my advice (no surprise there).

    I’m sitting here genuinely trying to figure out if you really are too dense to understand the quite simple distinction I made in 71 and 74 (and indeed in the original citation that you quoted in 68) or if in fact you are deliberately misunderstanding the distinction in order to discredit me.

    You know, BA, your insistence on attacking me based on an inability or unwillingness to comprehend a quite simple intellectual distinction—which will be obvious to anyone reading comments 68 through 76—makes you look very, very foolish. You really should reconsider your strategy here. Get some help understanding the point I made if necessary; you are not helping your cause.

  79. Well Bruce, I understand perfectly well that you changed your belief about what to call you beliefs,,, Bruce was pantheist, Bruce now theist,,, thus strongly suggesting that your beliefs were not nearly as well defined as you think them to be in the first place, and yet when I point out this very surprising turn of events that happened right here on UD in 2011, a turn of events that strongly suggested that you are not nearly as cognizant of the basic facts about your belief system as you had presented yourself to be up to that time, then you attack my ‘modest intellectual abilities’ when it was you yourself that had severely misindentified, (for over a year on UD up to that point), what your beliefs actually were.,,, It was you mistake, It was a grave foundational mistake, and it is not my ‘modest intellectual ability’ that made you make that foundational mistake in properly defining your belief system.

  80. Re 79:

    You really are a piece of work, BA. I simply had an incorrect idea of the meaning of the word “pantheism”. You take this mistake, freely admitted, and declare that it “strongly suggest[s] that my beliefs were not as well defined as [I] think them to be in the first place.”, an entirely unwarranted conclusion. My understanding of the meaning of the word “pantheism” is irrelevant to whether my beliefs are well defined or not. The fact that you won’t or can’t see this obvious point casts serious doubts on either your integrity or your intelligence.

    Then you call my simple misapprehension of the meaning of a word “a grave foundational mistake”. It was nothing of the sort. The fact that I had an incorrect definition of a word in my mind had absolutely nothing to do with whether the foundations of my beliefs were mistaken. My beliefs have evolved to their present state through years of study, experience, and contemplation. The meaning of the word “pantheism” was in no way essential to that work. Once the beliefs took shape, I labelled them as “pantheism” based on a misunderstanding of the meaning of that term. When I came to understand the correct meaning, I saw that the label was inappropriate and withdrew it. This withdrawal clearly had no impact on the beliefs themselves.

    The fact that you keep attempting to make this simple misunderstanding of the meaning of a word into some kind of deep alteration of my beliefs in order to discredit them reveals that you are someone for whom truth is easily and effortlessly discarded in the attempt to win debating points. And people can see this when they read what you write, BA. The result is you destroy your own credibility. Why should anyone believe anything you write when your commitment to the truth is so obviously lacking?

  81. That simple mistake in the defining of that ‘simple word’, pantheism, is no small matter, as you would like to pretend it to be, since that ‘simple mistake’ on that ‘simple word’ defined the entire belief system that you had claimed to be for up to a year at that point on UD., thus, no matter how much you toot your own horn about how well you understand your belief system, that ‘simple mistake’ strongly suggests, since it was indeed a profound mistake on the very word that defined your entire belief system, that you are not nearly as well versed as you would like to pretend yourself to be. ,,, Moreover I find your belief system, whatever you are calling it today, or whatever you may decide to call it tomorrow, to be absolutely useless as a fruitful heuristic as to understanding reality. Indeed, I find many characteristics of reality to go directly against your belief system. For instance, physics reveals two very different qualities of ‘eternity’, a ordered eternity revealed by special relativity for accelerating to the speed of light, and a destructive eternity revealed by General relativity for falling into a gravitational well of a black hole:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-439591

    ,,,In your belief system, whatever you are calling it today, we simply should not have expected to find two very different qualities of eternity within reality, whereas, on the other hand, in Christianity we should have rightly expected to find two different ones such as we have now found.,, Moreover BD, I find your cavalier dismissal of the extremely negative NDE’s, coming from the pantheistic cultures which root your basic belief in reincarnation, to be thoroughly disingenuous.,, There is a profound difference in NDE’s of eastern cultures and the NDE’s of western Judeo-Christian cultures, with the western cultures having, by far, the most desirable, extremely pleasant NDE’s. For you to pretend that this does not matter to you, that the cultures who most strongly believe in reincarnation have extremely negative NDE’s, exposes your lack of honesty to the best evidence we have on this matter. I know you’ve seen the NDE studies before on eastern cultures, but I found this one video recently of a man from Thailand giving testimony of his NDE. Although you probably will not watch it, I’ll list it anyways,:

    Near Death Experience Testimony – Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

  82. BA:

    That simple mistake in the defining of that ‘simple word’, pantheism, is no small matter, as you would like to pretend it to be, since that ‘simple mistake’ on that ‘simple word’ defined the entire belief system that you had claimed to be for up to a year at that point on UD

    No, it did not. That is what you cannot or will not see. Here’s an analogy: The Egyptian pyramids are what they are. If someone mistakenly calls them “cubes” because he misunderstands the meaning of the word “cube”, thinking that it referred to structures that have triangular sides that come to a point at an apex, and then when his understanding of the word is corrected and he subsequently refers to them correctly as “pyramids”, the structures themselves have not changed from cubes into pyramids. They were simply mislabeled.

    That is just how it is with my worldview. It is what it is. My labeling it as “pantheism” based on a misunderstanding of the meaning of that word and subsequent withdrawing of the label did not change my worldview from pantheism into non-pantheism. It remained what it was; it was simply mislabeled.

    Your attempt to construct that mislabeling and subsequent correction into a change of belief is a specious argument, and, I repeat, brands you as either not very smart or simply dishonest.

  83. Well Bruce, the simple fact of the matter is, to use your own analogy, that you acted like the reigning expert on pyramids on this blog for over a year, all the while calling them cubes, when in fact they were not cubes at all but pyramids. Thus since you yourself, the expert on cubes, are the one who made such a foundational mistake in your belief, what makes you think that this should not reflect unfavorably on your knowledge in this area? The logic simply does not follow even using your own analogy.,,, and Once again I see you insult my intelligence with the statement,, “not very smart”. But Bruce, I never claimed to be above ‘modest intellectual ability’, nor do I perceive, as shocking as it may sound to you, you to be above modest intellectual ability, in fact when I see some of the gaping unaddressed holes in your argument, I think your self-professed superior intellectual prowess to be premature to put it mildly.,,, But don’t feel bad Bruce, because even when I see how simple Einstein’s original thought experiment was that opened the flood gates for special relativity,,,

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    ,,I tend to think,, after seeing how simple the thought experiment really was in its formulation for a genius of Einstein’s stature, that all humans, no matter how much smarter they may claim to be, are actually of very ‘modest intellectual ability’, and certainly see no cause for anyone to blow their own trumpet and try to tear others down.

  84. I saw an interview with a certain Hollywood actor some years ago, during which his questioner asked him if he believed in God. Who said, “Well if there is, He has a lot to answer for.”

    As members of a fallen race, we do fancy our presumed ability to sit in judgment of our Creator, don’t we? As we busy ourselves thinking through, running our mouths, and spilling ink over how wrong God must be.

    It is hard to imagine the contrast being more stark, when what the God who is love has busied Himself thinking through from eternity is honestly considered. Namely, how to deliver human beings from sin and the consequences of sin. The accomplishment of which required the spilling, not of ink, but the blood of His only begotten Son.

    The response to which among the sons of Adam ought to be singular, appropriately enough for the day. Thanksgiving, that is.

  85. Well Bruce, the simple fact of the matter is, to use your own analogy, that you acted like the reigning expert on pyramids on this blog for over a year, all the while calling them cubes, when in fact they were not cubes at all but pyramids. Thus since you yourself, the expert on cubes, are the one who made such a foundational mistake in your belief, what makes you think that this should not reflect unfavorably on your knowledge in this area?

    At last! You finally got it. Congratulations!

    Now, with regard to your question, people will evaluate my belief system however they do, although I doubt that many will hold it very much against me that I at one time misunderstood the meaning of one particular philosophical term. I have laid it (my belief system) out to the best of my ability within the restrictions of space inherent in a blog. I am perfectly willing for people to draw whatever conclusions they wish regarding my worldview.

    My hope, however, is that some will respond to my words by opening up to the possibilities that I present here and in other threads, resulting in a genuine inquiry on their part into the nature of reality, of God, of human beings, and of the relationships among these three.

    I tend to think,, after seeing how simple the thought experiment really was in its formulation for a genius of Einstein’s stature, that all humans, no matter how much smarter they may claim to be, are actually of very ‘modest intellectual ability’, and certainly see no cause for anyone to blow their own trumpet and try to tear others down.

    To be accurate, I did not “blow my own trumpet”. I limited myself to casting aspersions on your intelligence. Partly I did that because your refusal to get my point about pantheism was actually basically—how shall I say it?—not smart. Here’s the rest of the reason:

    These are some of the comments you have made about me:
    From 46: “I shake my head in disbelief at such willful self deception. So be it. I’ll press you no further on your many inconsistencies for it is a waste of time.”

    From 55: “,,,and you give evidence from a pseudoscience that is infamous for its abuse by charlatans?,,, And you wonder why you failed to get taken seriously??”

    From 60: Responding to my statement that I get taken seriously by many people: “’There’s a sucker born every minute’ credited to P. T. Barnum”

    From 66: “got to love this forever plastic religion of yours, I seen you morph your beliefs from pantheism to what can now uniquely be called Bruce Davidism. You got your own religion now from what I can tell!”

    From 68: “HMM, I guess lying is not evil and is just another path towards spiritual growth in your reincarnating process???”

    From 70: “Thanks for the laugh [that in response to my statement that I have thoroughly thought out my beliefs] The last word is yours for the one thing I do know about you is that no rationalization is off limits to you to defend your absurd beliefs”

    These are some of the more blatant examples of the tone of disrespect with which you pretty much consistently respond to my comments. I told you already, treat me with respect and common courtesy, and I will respond in kind. Insult me and I’ll likely take the gloves off.

  86. Sorry. I case there is any question, number 85 is direct to Bornagain77.

  87. To Joe, if you’re still following this thread:

    I really apologize. I originally missed your comment number 20, and only caught it a little while ago while reviewing some of BA’s comments.

  88. Okie Dokie Bruce Davidian, you got a deal, you go ahead and continue to say I’m ‘not very smart’ and I will continue to say you are insane! :)

  89. Mr Arrington, in keeping with the OP, you may appreciate this:

    Miracles: Keener’s Reflections – video playlist
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ature=plcp
    Description: Dr. Craig Keener, author of “Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts” discusses in this web series some of the accounts of people being raised from the dead and people being healed of sicknesses from around the world.
    For more content visit us at
    http://asburyseedbed.com/

    Miracles: The Raising of the Dead
    http://thebarainitiative.com/m.....ofthedead/

  90. Bornagain:

    Okie Dokie Bruce Davidian, you got a deal, you go ahead and continue to say I’m ‘not very smart’ and I will continue to say you are insane!

    So I guess that we can to conclude that you are unwilling to extend respect and common courtesy to anyone whose worldview differs from your own. How very Christian of you!

  91. “How very Christian of you!”

    But alas Bruce Davidian, that’s just the point you had to refer to Christian ethics to make your case, there is no right or wrong, good or evil, guilt or shame, in your worldview, just the sophistry of preferable and non-preferable, thus why should you be offended by anything I do or say according to your worldview not according mine???

    Tell me again how you don’t believe evil exists:

    http://www.holocaustpictures.org/

  92. Bruce:

    “So I guess that we can to conclude that you [bornagain77] are unwilling to extend respect and common courtesy to anyone whose worldview differs from your own. How very Christian of you!

    By your standards, you and bornagain77 are the same person. There is no division; we are all one, or will soon become one. Why do you carry on as if some other person insulted you? You must have insulted yourself since there is no distinction among “individuals.”

    Or, if that is a problem, remember that, for you, we are all God. So think of the offense as having come from God or, if you like, another part of God–or from one who will soon become God. I realize that one cannot “be” God and also be on his way to “becoming” God, but these kinds of contradictions have never bother you before, so don’t worry about them now.

    In any case, you are getting too hung up on BA’s words, since your guru Neal Walsch has stated that they don’t mean anything anyway:

    “Words are really the least effective communicator . . . merely utterances: noises that stand for feelings, thoughts, and experience . . . . They are not Truth. They are not the real thing.”

    But wait! Hold on! Walsch’s teachings, which are made of words, must also be meaningless noises. Why, then, would anyone believe them. More to the point, why would anyone accept God’s “revelation to Walsch, which was also communicated through—words!

    But wait! That same God who told Walsch that words are mere noises, is also reputed to have told him that words are “expressed thoughts” that “send forth creative energy in the universe” and, that creation operates through, “thought, word, and action.” So much for words as mere noises.

    But wait! Words can be both meaningful expression of created power and meaningless noises at the same time. We need not be constrained by that infernal and pesky law of non contradiction. Why? Because Walsch says that we must “abandon our philosophy of contradictions” so that we can all become one.

  93. But alas Bruce Davidian, that’s just the point you had to refer to Christian ethics to make your case, there is no right or wrong, good or evil, guilt or shame, in your worldview, just the sophistry of preferable and non-preferable, thus why should you be offended by anything I do or say according to your worldview not according mine???

    Do you actually think I care whether you abide by your own standards or not? I just thought you might.

  94. I’m sure he’ll pay for it in another life. Or just chalk it up to his experiencing all it means to be human in this life.

  95. By your standards, you and bornagain77 are the same person. There is no division; we are all one, or will soon become one. Why do you carry on as if some other person insulted you? You must have insulted yourself since there is no distinction among “individuals.”

    Or, if that is a problem, remember that, for you, we are all God. So think of the offense as having come from God or, if you like, another part of God–or from one who will soon become God. I realize that one cannot “be” God and also be on his way to “becoming” God, but these kinds of contradictions have never bother you before, so don’t worry about them now.

    We are all One, BA. We are each of us also individuations of the One Existence. It is a mystery (until it isn’t).

    You think you understand that which you do not. The truth cannot be understood by logical thinking. Every mystic knows this. Words are not meaningless, but they can only point to the Truth; they cannot accurately describe it. When you attack the words of those who know by attempting to parody them into logical fallacies, you only display your ignorance.

    You can ridicule all you want, BA; it will have no effect. Those who respond to words that point towards the Truth, whether they be those of God (through Walsch), Yogananda, Rumi, or perhaps even me, will respond regardless of your ridicule. Those in your “choir” will laugh and applaud, you know, but so what?

  96. Again Bruce Davidian,,,,,, I said/say that ‘you are insane’ to which you objected, yet I hold that you have no right to object to anything I do or say in your worldview. You appealed to Christian ethics to try to say it was wrong for you have no foundation within your own worldview to appeal to. Thus clearly illustrating, for all to see, the insanity of the position you hold.

    Notes:

    Matthew 12:36
    But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

    Genesis 1:3
    And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

    The following video, in the ‘life review’ section of the video, shows just how important our ‘idle words’ are to God,,, in which every minute detail of a person’s life, and the repercussions of our actions on others, are gone over according to the perfect standard by which God judges them whether to be good or evil:

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

  97. here is an interesting footnote:

    The Deep Connection Between Sound & Reality – Evan Grant – Allosphere – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4672092

  98. Bruce:

    We are all One, BA. We are each of us also individuations of the One Existence. It is a mystery (until it isn’t).

    It was I, SB, that made the comment, but I understand (oops, I mean I feel) what you mean. We are not individuals, except that we are. I get it, really I do. Bornagain is the same individual that you are, but he is also a different individual. I think I am getting the hang of this thing.

    You think you understand that which you do not. The truth cannot be understood by logical thinking

    If I feel that I understand that which you claim I don’t understand, then I understand it because I feel that I do. It is, after all, my truth. You are claiming that I don’t understand my own truth based on your limited understanding of your own truth. This is very presumptuous on your part, perhaps even a little judgmental.

    Words are not meaningless, but they can only point to the Truth; they cannot accurately describe it.

    Neal Donald Walsch says in his book that words are, indeed, meaningless noise, but he later changes his mind. So, his first truth is different from his second truth. I accept his first truth as representative of his views. As I learned from Mr. Walsch, and from you, my opinions are neither right nor wrong, they just are. For me, they are true. So, that should settle the matter.

    When you attack the words of those who know by attempting to parody them into logical fallacies, you only display your ignorance.

    Why would you insult me by calling me ignorant for simply expressing my own truth. My critique of Neal Walsch (and you) is true for me. For you, that should be enough.

  99. Stephen:

    Neal Donald Walsch says in his book that words are, indeed, meaningless noise, but he later changes his mind.

    I don’t mind your silly use of logic to ridicule that to which logic does not apply. However, please get your facts straight if you are going to attack something. God does not say in Conversations with God that words are meaningless. He says that they are the least accurate of all His available means of communication, which is a very different statement. However, when He chooses to use a book as His medium of communication, words are pretty much what He must use.

  100. Stephen:

    Neal Donald Walsch says in his book that words are, indeed, meaningless noise, but he later changes his mind.

    I don’t mind your silly use of logic to ridicule that to which logic does not apply. However, please get your facts straight if you are going to attack something. God does not say in Conversations with God that words are meaningless. He says that they are the least accurate of all His available means of communication, which is a very different statement. However, when He chooses to use a book as His medium of communication, words are pretty much what He must use.

    P.S. Apologies for not noticing it was you who made the comment and not BA.

  101. Again Bruce Davidian,,,,,, I said/say that ‘you are insane’ to which you objected, yet I hold that you have no right to object to anything I do or say in your worldview. You appealed to Christian ethics to try to say it was wrong for you have no foundation within your own worldview to appeal to. Thus clearly illustrating, for all to see, the insanity of the position you hold.

    A word to the wise: to anyone reading this thread who is paying attention it will be obvious that nothing you say can be trusted—you continually attribute statements to me that I did not make, and then you attack what I did not say. You will be much better served to stick to the truth.

    I did not object to your calling me insane. I merely noted that your continued insulting tone implies that you are unwilling to extend respect and common courtesy to anyone who doesn’t share your worldview.

    I never said anything remotely resembling your statement, “You appealed to Christian ethics to try to say it was wrong for you have no foundation within your own worldview to appeal to.” I did point out that your unwillingness to treat me with courtesy and respect violated your own Christian ethics, but I never used the word “wrong” nor any of its synonyms. I was attempting to call attention to the inconsistency between your professed morality and your actions, hoping (vainly, obviously) that drawing attention to your obvious hypocrisy would prompt you to conduct yourself in a more civil manner. It was a subtle use of irony. I’ll know better than to use subtlety to make a point with you in the future.

  102. If I feel that I understand that which you claim I don’t understand, then I understand it because I feel that I do. It is, after all, my truth.

    I believe (nay, am certain and have repeatedly demonstrated) that morality is unavoidably relative, that it is in fact the human condition. However, I have never claimed and in fact do not believe that ultimate Truth (the actual nature of reality) is relative. Like you, I hold that there is actual Truth. We disagree on what that truth is. Your comments attempting to apply logic to that for which logic is a useless tool demonstrates that, whatever you might feel about it, you don’t understand what Truth is (ultimate Truth, not that which is true for you in this moment—your feelings, beliefs, experience, etc.).

    Why would you insult me by calling me ignorant for simply expressing my own truth.

    If you don’t know something then you are ignorant in that regard by definition. Pointing it out is not an insult; it is simply stating the case.

  103. Man, it must be getting late. Number 101 is to BA, and number 102 is to Stephen.

  104. Bruce: “God does not say in Conversations with God that words are meaningless.”

    Walsch says that God communicates with everyone, but not just with words, which as it turns out, are mere noise–not the real thing. By his account, God’s main form of communication is through feeling, the medium through which he can reach everyone.

    “However, when He chooses to use a book as His medium of communication, words are pretty much what He must use.”

    Why would God use the least effective medium if the most effective medium is available? If, as Walsch says, God has already given his children the real thing in the form of feelings, why do they need Walsch’s words, which are, by his own account, mere noise?

  105. Why would God use the least effective medium if the most effective medium is available? If, as Walsch says, God has already given his children the real thing in the form of feelings, why do they need Walsch’s words, which are, by his own account, mere noise?

    Because, as He points out, not everyone listens to their feelings as communications from God, nor understands their true import. God uses all the means available to Him to get His message across. Read the book. He makes it very clear.

    And again, you are not accurate. The quote you yourself cited states that words are

    merely utterances: noises that stand for feelings, thoughts, and experience

    That is a very different statement than that words are “mere noise”.

  106. Bruce Davidian states:

    “I did not object to your calling me insane. I merely noted that your continued insulting tone implies that you are unwilling to extend respect and common courtesy to anyone who doesn’t share your worldview.”

    If you truly do not object to what I said, since you have no basis for judging anything as evil in your worldview, why in blue blazes are you ‘merely noting’ what I said was ‘insulting’ to you. Man you really have some work to do on getting over these illusions that evil exists! :) But then again, according to your worldview, it is not really evil that you would be under the illusion that evil really exist, it would just be preferable if you believed that it did not exist. :)

    note:

    John 6:68
    Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

  107. Bornagain:

    If you truly do not object to what I said, since you have no basis for judging anything as evil in your worldview, why in blue blazes are you ‘merely noting’ what I said was ‘insulting’ to you.

    My purpose was not to make you wrong, since I don’t believe that right and wrong exist, as I have stated many times. Rather, it was stated in the context of an attempt to induce you to engage in more civil discourse by pointing out the inconsistency between your professed ethical system and your actions—an attempt which has failed, alas.

    Just to be crystal clear about this, since you have a habit of attributing motives to me that don’t exist, I am not implying nor do I believe that civil discourse is “right” and insults are “wrong”. I just find civil discourse to be far more pleasant than the style with which you habitually interact with me, and I prefer pleasant to unpleasant. Again, to be clear, this preference includes no moral censure, just as my preference for tasty food over bland food does not imply that bland food is somehow morally wrong.

  108. “it was stated in the context of an attempt to induce you to engage in more civil discourse”

    But why should your ‘preference’ matter to me if there is no such thing as evil? Me calling you insane is just as preferable to me as you not having me call you as such, indeed more so. You simply have no standard to have over against me in your worldview and I’m not going to let you cheat and try to use my worldview as a standard to tell me why I should behave in a way that you personally would find morally preferable.

  109. BA re 108

    But why should your ‘preference’ matter to me if there is no such thing as evil?

    You’re the Christian here, not me. It would matter to you that you do not abide by your own moral standards if you believe that they are real, as you claim. If you really don’t care that you are continually and flagrantly violating your own standards, then just admit that you don’t really believe in them after all, and stop trying to prove that there is such a thing as objective morality!

  110. But Bruce, Bornagain77 did not violate his own standards, which, among other things, require him to warn you of your folly and to dramatize the extent to which your intellectual capacities have been compromised by new-age psychobabble.

    On the other hand, you violate your own standards by even bringing it up. Neal Walsch’s God says “your will for you is “God’s will for you . . . I have no preference in the matter . . . I do not care what you do . . .”

    Thus, bornagain77 is doing what he wills, which by your standard, is also God’s will, and he obviously wills to critique your orientation to reality in a negative way. By that same standard, your behavior is inappropriate because you are criticizing bornagain’s act of following his own will.

  111. Stephen:

    But Bruce, Bornagain77 did not violate his own standards, which, among other things, require him to warn you of your folly and to dramatize the extent to which your intellectual capacities have been compromised by new-age psychobabble.

    It is quite possible to make points without using ridicule and insult. Is that how you and Bornagain wish to be treated, with ridicule and insult? If not, whatever happened to that “objective” standard, the Golden Rule?

  112. “If not, whatever happened to that “objective” standard, the Golden Rule?”

    But, once again, why in blue blazes are you appealing to a Christian ethic to defend what you can’t possibly defend in your very own worldview? That’s exactly why I consider you insane in your reasoning! You wish to call something evil that you personally find offensive but you simply have no resource to appeal to in your worldview.,,, It is much the same insanity that is found with the atheist when they try to defend morality. i.e. Much like you neo-Darwinists cannot maintain a consistent identity towards a stable, unchanging, cause for objective morality within their lives;

    The Knock-Down Argument Against Atheist Sam Harris’ moral landscape argument – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL_vAH2NIPc

    This following short video clearly shows, in a rather graphic fashion, the ‘moral dilemma’ that atheists, and subjective moralists such as Bruce Davidian, face when they try to ground objective morality;

    Cruel Logic – video
    Description; A brilliant serial killer videotapes his debates with college faculty victims. The topic of his debate with his victim: His moral right to kill them.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qd1LPRJLnI

  113. BA:

    But, once again, why in blue blazes are you appealing to a Christian ethic to defend what you can’t possibly defend in your very own worldview? That’s exactly why I consider you insane in your reasoning! You wish to call something evil that you personally find offensive but you simply have no resource to appeal to in your worldview.,,, It is much the same insanity that is found with the atheist when they try to defend morality. i.e. Much like you neo-Darwinists cannot maintain a consistent identity towards a stable, unchanging, cause for objective morality within their lives;

    God, but you’re thick! I am not accusing you of “evil”, I am accusing you of hypocrisy. I’m “appealing to a Christian ethic” becaue it’s your ethic. I’m suggesting that you, you know, walk your talk, put your money where your mouth is, put up or shut up.

    Why am I making this suggestion? It is not because hypocrisy is evil. I am hoping that you will realize that you are violating your own standard of right and wrong, which you profess to believe is “objective”, and that this will induce you to begin interacting with me with respect and common courtesy. Do I want this because interacting with me in this way is “good”? No. It is, as I said, because that would be much more pleasant, and I prefer pleasant.

    But if you insist on continuing to violate your own “objective” standards of behavior, at least everyone will see that while you say you believe in objective morality, your actions betray you as a moral relativist—it’s ok to do whatever you feel like; the Golden Rule be damned.

  114. “and that this will induce you to begin interacting with me with respect and common courtesy”

    But alas, if there is truly no evil, you cannot even ground the ‘trivial morals’ of respect and common courtesy in your worldview, so why in blue blazes do you object to me for pointing out your insanity of you appealing to what you suppose my Christian moral code ought to be towards you since you can’t ground it in your cultish worldview??,,, to try to enforce your ‘subjective preference’, over my subjective preference for how I should act?? As StephenB pointed out, Christian ethics also demands that Christians correct heretical teachings, such as New Age garbage you are trying to teach. Why don’t you prefer that Christian moral for me? Moreover, why do you think I should respect your opinion for Christianity when it is apparent you can’t even grasp the fatal flaws of your own religion?

    2 Timothy 4:2
    Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

    Titus 2:15
    These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

  115. BA re 114:

    Ok, BA, it’s obvious that your own professed “objective” moral standards, including the Golden Rule, actually mean nothing to you, since you can discard them so easily when it suits you. So be it. It is now clear to all and sundry that not only do you act in opposition to your stated beliefs (this is known as hypocrisy), but that your professed belief in an absolute standard is just so much hot air.

  116. Bruce, I gather it slipped your mind, so I will make the point again:

    Neal Walsch’s God says to all of us, “your will for you is “God’s will for you . . . I have no preference in the matter . . . I do not care what you do . . .”

    By your standard, bornagain77 is doing God’s will by expressing his own will, which is to critique your orientation to reality in a negative way. Conversely, your behavior is inappropriate because, in criticizing bornagain’s will, you are, by your own standard, criticizing God’s will.

  117. Bruce, I gather it slipped your mind, so I will make the point again:

    Neal Walsch’s God says to all of us, “your will for you is “God’s will for you . . . I have no preference in the matter . . . I do not care what you do . . .”

    By your standard, bornagain77 is doing God’s will by expressing his own will, which is to critique your orientation to reality in a negative way. Conversely, your behavior is inappropriate because, in criticizing bornagain’s will, you are, by your own standard, criticizing God’s will.

    There are no “shoulds” in that quote. There is nothing there that says I should or should not refrain from pointing out to someone that he is being false to his own professed standards. (God, after all, doesn’t care what I do, either.) This could be useful information to Bornagain if he chooses to recognize it, and therefore of service to him. As I also pointed out, if he heeds my advice to “walk his talk” it will make my own life more pleasant, and so be of service to me also.

    My last comment, number 115, is an attempt to put the case in such stark terms that even Bornagain cannot fail to see it, although I don’t hold out a lot of hope for success…

  118. Bruce

    “My last comment, number 115, is an attempt to put the case in such stark terms that even Bornagain cannot fail to see it, although I don’t hold out a lot of hope for success…”

    That is at least the third time that you have insulted BA’s intelligence. How do you manage to reconcile that fact with your complaints about my alleged insults toward you.

    “There is nothing there that says I should or should not refrain from pointing out to someone that he is being false to his own professed standards.”

    That is the funniest thing you have said all day. If there are no objective standards by which truth and falsehood can be discerned, then there is no way for you to say that anyone has been true or false about anything. You are simply making wild and insulting claims that you cannot defend.

    To speak your language (and that of Mr. Walsch), I feel that bornagain is being true to his principles, and you feel that he is not. But your feelings are no better than my feelings. Indeed, I say my feelings are better than your feelings, and since I feel that way, and since my feelings are the ultimate standard for my truth, then what I say is true.

    Indeed, I will take it one step further. By virtue of the fact that you complain about anyone’s behavior for any reason, you are being inconsistent with your own principles. Since I feel that way and, as Mr. Walsch says, since my feelings are the ultimate source for my truth, then what I say about you is true.

  119. Bruce

    There is nothing there that says I should or should not refrain from pointing out to someone that he is being false to his own professed standards.

    Again, you miss the point. Let me express it again in terms that, to borrow your comment to BA, “even you can understand.” You are in no position to say that anyone who feels that he is being true to his principles is being false if, as Mr. Walsch says, our feelings are the standard for our truths. Try to grasp your own philosophy.

  120. Stephen: re 118 and 119

    You and Bornagain are the ones who claim that there is an absolute, objective, moral standard, and that the Golden Rule is part of it. I am merely pointing out the inconsistency between what BA professes to believe and his actions (yours too, on more than one occasion). My beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with whether you are acting consistently with the beliefs for which you have argued with such fervor on so many occasions.

    That is at least the third time that you have insulted BA’s intelligence. How do you manage to reconcile that fact with your complaints about my alleged insults toward you.

    In the first place, BA has repeatedly shown an amazing inability (unwillingness?) to grasp relatively simple points. In the second, it is you and he, not I, who are bound by the Golden Rule by your own (quite strongly worded) statements. Thirdly, I have warned BA twice that if he refused to deal with me with respect and common courtesy, that I would likely respond in kind.

  121. BD, and exactly why are you so upset with what you falsely perceive to be disrespect on my part when evil does not even exist in your worldview. I mean really BD, if you can’t get over me calling the insanity of your worldview for what it truly is, New Age psychobabble to use StephenB’s term, what in blue blazes are you going to do if some atheist, who like you does not even believe in the reality of evil, decides it is his best subjective interest to kill you and your loved ones and take your property??? Will you try to use your very selective use of Christian morals to stop him from harming you?

  122. Bruce: You are really slow on the uptake. Let me try to explain it to you once again using your own philosophy:

    You have no basis for saying that there is an inconsistency between BA’s standards and his behavior. According to your feelings, it may be true for you, but according to my feelings, it isn’t true for me. I have already made it clear that my feelings are better and more reliable than your feelings because I feel that this is so–and if I feel it, it is true for me–and if it is true for me, it is true. Please stop making insulting claims that you cannot defend.

  123. BD, I wonder, do you think that Jesus was not showing respect and common courtesy when he said this?

    Matthew 23:33
    “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

    or perhaps Jesus wasn’t showing proper respect and courtesy for others feelings when he said this:

    Matthew 23:27
    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.

    What do you think BD? Would you lecture Jesus on how he should have respected others who promoted a false religion like you are promoting a false religion??

  124. Stephen:

    You have no basis for saying that there is an inconsistency between BA’s standards and his behavior. According to your feelings, it may be true for you, but according to my feelings, it isn’t true for me.

    Frankly, Stephen, I think you’re lying. You know perfectly well that what I have been saying regarding the inconsistency between BA’s words and his actions is true. You’re desire to trap me into an inconsistency has overcome your commitment to the truth.

    In any case, I have never said that feelings are the only avenue to determine knowledge.

  125. Bornagain:

    BD, and exactly why are you so upset with what you falsely perceive to be disrespect on my part when evil does not even exist in your worldview. I mean really BD, if you can’t get over me calling the insanity of your worldview for what it truly is, New Age psychobabble to use StephenB’s term, what in blue blazes are you going to do if some atheist, who like you does not even believe in the reality of evil, decides it is his best subjective interest to kill you and your loved ones and take your property??? Will you try to use your very selective use of Christian morals to stop him from harming you?

    Firstly, I am not “upset”. I have merely stated a preference.

    Once again, you have demonstrated a singular inability to understand simple ideas. Let me lay it out for you:
    1. Preference is not a statement of good or evil. This should be obvious, but since it is not, let me give you some examples: I prefer to be happy rather than depressed. I prefer to tasty food to bland food. I prefer well written novels to poorly written ones. I prefer playing tennis to playing basketball. Do these preferences make depression, bland food, poorly written novels, and playing basketball evil? Of course not.
    2. Most of the decisions that people make in their daily lives are not not made on the basis of morality; they are made on the basis of preference. One doesn’t choose a restaurant, or a film to go see, or what groceries to buy, or what artwork to hang on one’s walls on the basis of morality. These decisions are all made on the basis of preference.
    3. I would prefer that you interact with me out of respect and common courtesy.

    A belief that evil exists is not a requirement for having preferences. Clear?

  126. Yeah StephenB,

    You ought to be pointing out the inconsistency in BA’s remarks because that would be the morally right thing to do.

  127. BA re: 123
    I can’t help it that your scripture is full of inconsistencies.

    So are you saying that you reject the Golden Rule? Yes or no?

  128. Stephen:

    More on feelings: Feelings are a reliable guide to truth, but they are not sufficient by themselves. Intelligence is also required, along with an open mind and a commitment to the truth above any preconceived ideas, cultural conditioning, and the need to be right.

    Feelings, however, only work if one is honest about them—first of all to oneself and then to others. One also has to be willing to to actually confront them, which can be very difficult for many people.

  129. BD, if you truly are not upset about me pointing out that your worldview is insane, why do you go on harping about it again and again as if you were upset? You have to be willing to actually confront the fact that you are intellectually deficient and thus incapable of living consistently in your Alice and Wonderland worldview, as you claim it to be, man up about it, and go on.

    you also state to StephenB:

    “Feelings are a reliable guide to truth, but they are not sufficient by themselves. Intelligence is also required, along with an open mind and a commitment to the truth above any preconceived ideas, cultural conditioning, and the need to be right.”

    But in post #107 you state:

    “My purpose was not to make you wrong, since I don’t believe that right and wrong exist, as I have stated many times.”

    OK Bruce Davidian, how do you have a commitment to truth, moral truth or otherwise, if right and wrong don’t actually exist?

    You don’t really need StephenB to baby step you through the insanity of your position again do you?

  130. as to alleged ‘many inconsistencies’ in the Bible, I found the following work by Timothy McGrew to a particularly effective rebuttal to that argument:

    Alleged Contradictions in the Gospels by Dr. Timothy McGrew – lecture
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJizWvoGCIg

    Undesigned Coincidences – Tim McGrew – article
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....of-design/

    Tim McGrew – radio Interview
    http://www.brianauten.com/Apol.....mcgrew.mp3

    The Gospels and Acts as History by Dr. Timothy McGrew – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAPG3eECaxw

    Alleged Historical Errors in the Gospels (Luke & John) by Tim McGrew – lecture
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5kJuTkUo0w

    Frank Turek interviews Tim McGrew on the subject of “undesigned coincidences” in the New Testament: – very interesting apologetic!! – radio interview
    http://mediaserver3.afa.net/ar.....073011.mp3

    Tim McGrew on Frank Turek – Part II
    http://www.afa.net/Radio/show......2147510644

    Undesigned Coincidences (evidence for the historicity of the Gospels) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGVLeC5HbSQ

    Who Wrote the Gospels? by Timothy McGrew – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gldvim1yjYM

  131. Along that same line, Dr. Peter Williams also has a strong defense against alleged inconsistencies in the Bible.

    Video: New Evidence for Eye Witness Accounts
    http://hcchristian.wordpress.c.....-accounts/

    Accuracy Of The Bible – Feeding 5000 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6745194

    Lecture – Dr Peter Williams – Things Which Ought To Be Better Known About The Resurrection Of Jesus – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbBVBUeHXZ4

    and this:

    How Reliable Is the New Testament? – Dan Wallace (publicly debated Bart Ehrman 3 times) – video
    http://www.watermark.org/media.....ment/2305/

  132. Bruce:

    “You know perfectly well that what I have been saying regarding the inconsistency between BA’s words and his actions is true.”

    “You’re desire to trap me into an inconsistency has overcome your commitment to the truth.”

    Well, look at you!—-alluding to THE TRUTH. I thought that we each possessed our OWN TRUTH and that no such thing as a single, objective truth existed. It isn’t hard to reveal your inconsistencies. They abound.

  133. Bruce:

    More on feelings: Feelings are a reliable guide to truth,

    Your truth, my truth, or the truth?

    ….but they are not sufficient by themselves. Intelligence is also required, along with an open mind and a commitment to the truth above any preconceived ideas, cultural conditioning, and the need to be right.

    The question is, Can feelings mislead one about the truth or not?

    Feelings, however, only work if one is honest about them—first of all to oneself and then to others. One also has to be willing to to actually confront them, which can be very difficult for many people.

    Again, you miss the irony as you always do. I explained to you ages ago, with great resistance on your part, that truth cannot be separated from morality. Now here you are asserting that truth cannot be separated from the moral virtues of honesty and courage, which you will, of course, promptly, predictably and confusedly claim are not moral virtues.

  134. Stephen:

    I thought that we each possessed our OWN TRUTH and that no such thing as a single, objective truth existed. It isn’t hard to reveal your inconsistencies. They abound.

    See 102.

    What I have said is that each of us must find the truth for ourselves, that because of the innumerable competing claimants for being the authority on truth (the Bible, the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures, the Hindu holy books, the Tao Te Ching, Mao’s Little Red Book, the writings of the “new atheists”, all the philsophers in the Western Philosophical traditions, mystics of various stripes, etc., etc.), each human being is of necessity his or her own authority regarding what that truth is.

    But I have never said, nor do I believe, that there is “no such thing as a single, objective truth”.

    Again, you miss the irony as you always do. I explained to you ages ago, with great resistance on your part, that truth cannot be separated from morality.

    How condescending, Stephen, to assume that because you explained something to me that I would then accept it as true. The problem, you see, is that your explanations generally miss something rather crucial, namely validity, as I continually explain to you, but which you continually ignore.

  135. BD,

    Because everyone claims to be their own source of truth, each human being is of necessity his or her own authority regarding what that truth is.

    That’s your argument?

  136. BA:

    BD, if you truly are not upset about me pointing out that your worldview is insane, why do you go on harping about it again and again as if you were upset?

    Come, come, BA—you’re the one who keeps bringing it up. I just answer your questions.

    OK Bruce Davidian, how do you have a commitment to truth, moral truth or otherwise, if right and wrong don’t actually exist?

    I hope you’re not making the truly elementary mistake of confusing two meanings of “right and wrong”—1) morally good and bad, and 2) correct and incorrect. That would be so embarrassing.

  137. BA:
    By the way, you still have not answered my question: Do you or do you not accept the Golden Rule as objective moral truth? Yes or No?

  138. Mung, re 135:
    No, that is not my argument. Please read it again more carefully.

  139. Bruce Davidian, you stated a few times something about me trespassing the ‘golden rule’:

    “it’s obvious that your own professed “objective” moral standards, including the Golden Rule, actually mean nothing to you, since you can discard them so easily when it suits you.”

    And the golden rule is:

    “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”

    Yet that phrase is not even in the bible. The golden rule is actually a deviation of the second commandment given by Jesus, which is:

    Mark 12:31
    The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    Thus you are trying to apply a standard to me that is not even in the Bible. ,,, and I maintain that although I almost certainly fail to love you as myself (what man can claim perfection in that area?), none-the-less, I hold that for me to let you continue in your folly as a New Age fruitcake completely unchecked would be far more unloving of me towards you than for me to falsely pretend that your views are not severely incoherent and even extremely dangerous as far as the security of your eternal soul is concerned. How loving would it be of someone to let an associate go unwarned into grave danger? Not very!

  140. Stephen:

    Now here you are asserting that truth cannot be separated from the moral virtues of honesty and courage, which you will, of course, promptly, predictably and confusedly claim are not moral virtues.

    Well, what is the definition of honesty? Basically it is telling the truth. And courage? The willingness to do something in the face of fear.

    These are morally good to you if you say so, but if absolute morality doesn’t exist, which it doesn’t, then they are just what they are.

    I may be prompt and predictable in this case, but I am not confused.

  141. Bruce Davidian pontificates: “each human being is of necessity his or her own authority regarding what that truth is.”

    and

    “Well, what is the definition of honesty? Basically it is telling the truth. And courage? The willingness to do something in the face of fear.
    These are morally good to you if you say so, but if absolute morality doesn’t exist, which it doesn’t, then they are just what they are.”

    So if I fearlessly tell the truth to you that you are a insane New Age Fruitcake, that is not morally evil or disrespectful on my part, that is just what it is???? :) That is my version of truth which is just as, or more valid, than your truth??? Thanks for clearing that up Bruce Davidian!

  142. BD,

    Because everyone claims to have their own source of truth, each human being is of necessity his or her own authority regarding what that truth is.

    That’s your argument?

  143. Bruce

    What I have said is that each of us must find the truth for ourselves, that because of the innumerable competing claimants for being the authority on truth (the Bible, the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures, the Hindu holy books, the Tao Te Ching, Mao’s Little Red Book, the writings of the “new atheists”, all the philsophers in the Western Philosophical traditions, mystics of various stripes, etc., etc.), each human being is of necessity his or her own authority regarding what that truth is.

    Obviously, and as usual, you are contradicting yourself. If each human being is “his or her own authority regarding what the truth is,” then there would be multiple subjective, particular truths, ruling out the possibility of one objective, universal truth for everyone. Either individuals make up their own changing and varied truths, or they apprehend the one, unchanging truth. There is no excluded middle.

    But I have never said, nor do I believe, that there is “no such thing as a single, objective truth”.

    Oh, but you have said that. Among other things, you claimed that there is no such thing as objective moral truth.

    The problem, you see, is that your explanations generally miss something rather crucial, namely validity, as I continually explain to you, but which you continually ignore.

    I didn’t miss anything since I understand your misguided philosophy much better than you do. Earlier you refused to acknowledge that truth cannot be separated from morality. Now you are asserting that truth (albeit your cockamamie version of it) cannot be separated from the moral virtues of honesty and courage.

  144. StephenB and Bruce Davidian, you guys may appreciate this neat little video I just found:

    SQuire Rushnell Good Morning America “GodWinks” – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYJRddhzFG4

    Tends to put things in perspective huh?

  145. BA:

    And the golden rule is:

    “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”

    Yet that phrase is not even in the bible. The golden rule is actually a deviation of the second commandment given by Jesus, which is:

    Mark 12:31
    The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    I beg to differ:

    Matthew 7:12
    Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

    Luke 6:13
    And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

    So I repeat my question. Do you or do you not accept the Golden Rule as objective moral truth? Yes or No?

  146. Stephen:

    If each human being is “his or her own authority regarding what the truth is,” then there would be multiple subjective, particular truths, ruling out the possibility of one objective, universal truth for everyone.

    Doesn’t follow. There is one ultimate Truth. The fact that each of us must discover it on our own in no way negates the fact that there is one Truth. There is plenty of help, of course, but part of the problem is to discover which such source or sources to trust.

    God, however, made us each in His image and likeness, so each of us has within us the capacity to know the truth. It usually takes many lifetimes for a soul to be able to access that knowingness when incarnated. But it will come to all eventually, in the fullness of time. There is no rush.

  147. Bruce thanks for the correction, I was badly mistaken from an erroneous teaching I had been taught earlier in life. So I accept the golden rule,,, and indeed if I was acting as insanely as you are in regards to the inconsistencies in your incoherent worldview, and the extremely dangerous implications involved in that for your eternal soul, Yes Indeed!,, I would want someone to call me on it in the strongest terms possible. Thus I stand by ‘my truth’ that I find you insane, arrogantly so!

  148. Bruce Davidian, now please answer my question in 141 towards your worldview:

    if I fearlessly tell the truth to you (my truth) that you are a insane New Age Fruitcake, (then) that is not morally evil or disrespectful on my part in the least??? and that is just what it is???? :) i.e. That is just my version of the truth which is just as, or more valid, than your truth??? With no moral implications whatsoever???

  149. BA:

    I hold that for me to let you continue in your folly as a New Age fruitcake completely unchecked would be far more unloving of me towards you than for me to falsely pretend that your views are not severely incoherent and even extremely dangerous as far as the security of your eternal soul is concerned. How loving would it be of someone to let an associate go unwarned into grave danger? Not very!

    I see. And so you use ridicule and insult to bring me into the fold. Tell me, have you had a lot of success with this approach?

  150. ridicule and insult? Surely you jest Bruce Davidian, according to you there is no such thing as evil in the world, just different versions of good, why are you objecting to what I say? You act as if there was some moral implication to what I said. For crying out loud man up and walk your talk and quit crying about what I say since it is just what it is!

  151. BA re 148:
    Do you really not know the answer? Your words are definitely disrespectful, and also quite wrong, but not morally wrong (since there is no such thing as objective morality). And by the way, in violation of the Golden Rule, which you just affirmed in 147. You really are quite the hypocrite, aren’t you?

  152. BA:

    ridicule and insult? Surely you jest Bruce Davidian, according to you there is no such thing as evil in the world, just different versions of good, why are you objecting to what I say? You act as if there was some moral implication to what I said. For crying out loud man up and walk your talk and quit crying about what I say since it is just what it is

    Well, I’ll say one thing for you—you have a real talent for making stuff up about me and then attacking me for it.

    I merely asked you if your strategy of saving souls by the use of ridicule and insult was effective. It seems to me that you probably know that it isn’t, which makes you doubly hypocritical, doesn’t it? Do you enjoy hanging your hypocrisy out for all the world to see? I’m just asking…

    So I’ll answer your next question before you ask it: No, I don’t believe hypocrisy is wrong. I just point out that the description fits you quite well, in case you want to reconsider how you interact with people you disagree with.

  153. “Your words are definitely disrespectful, and also quite wrong, but not morally wrong”

    No my words, “You are a insane New Age Fruitcake” are what I find to be true, and my truth is just as valid as your truth according to you, thus what I say is not ‘quite wrong’ according to you, it is just that you have failed to take the path to the enlightened truth I have about you :) . Moreover why are you disrespecting my right to tell my truth to you and follow my spiritual path to enlighten you on your fruitcakedness???

  154. Bruce

    The fact that each of us must discover it on our own in no way negates the fact that there is one Truth.

    You have shifted the ground again. Recall that you didn’t say that we must all DISCOVER truth in our own way, you said that every individual is his own authority about what that one truth IS. The former claim is not nearly the same as the latter.

    We also have that nagging problem that persists. How do you reconcile your claim that the wholeness of truth is absolute while moral truth is relative?

    There is plenty of help, of course, but part of the problem is to discover which such source or sources to trust.

    That brings us back to the question of feelings. Can they mislead us about which sources are trustworthy? By the way, that question calls for a yes or no answer.

  155. Stephen:

    Recall that you didn’t say that we must all DISCOVER truth in our own way, you said that every individual is his own authority about what that one truth IS.

    I intended them to have the same meaning. When I say that every individual is his own authority, I mean that there is no clear and unquestionable source outside ourselves to which we can turn for the answer. If we pick an outside source to trust as an authority, such as scripture or a charismatic figure, it is each of us who must make the choice to trust that source, and if we choose later to withdraw that trust, each of us must also make that choice. So ultimately, each of us is unavoidably his or her own authority, and thus has the responsibility to discover truth in our own way.

    We also have that nagging problem that persists. How do you reconcile your claim that the wholeness of truth is absolute while moral truth is relative?

    What’s the problem? That happens to be part of the wholeness of truth—morality is relative because in God’s eyes there is no right and wrong (in the moral sense of those words).

    That brings us back to the question of feelings. Can they mislead us about which sources are trustworthy? By the way, that question calls for a yes or no answer.

    Well, the answer is more complex than a simple “yes” or “no” can encompass.

    Feelings are always an accurate guide to truth, but like any source of information (including scripture), they can be misinterpreted. The trick is to learn to read one’s feelings and the message they are sending at any particular point in time accurately. This takes time and experience, like learning any skill.

    God did not set up this game with pat answers. Living on this planet is a continual process of discovery and deepening understanding, leading eventually to wisdom, joy, love, and truth.

  156. Bruce to BA: “No, I don’t believe hypocrisy is wrong. I just point out that the description fits you quite well, in case you want to reconsider how you interact with people you disagree with.”

    This is a boilerplate comment conceived by moral relativists aimed at proponents of objective morality. I have heard it hundreds of times and I always marvel at how cheap and empty it is.

    The reasoning goes something like this: “You sometimes fail to meet the demanding standards of Biblical morality or some equivalent of the natural moral law, so you are a hypocrite. You stand up, fall down in the mud, get back up and try to clean yourself up.

    I, on the other hand, never fail to meet my own convenient and easy standards, designed for the sole purpose of making my life as easy and demand-free as possible. I may be wallowing in a moral pig stye, but I feel no need to clean myself up because I have found a new name for dirt, and that becomes reality for me.”

  157. Stephen:

    The reasoning goes something like this: “You sometimes fail to meet the demanding standards of Biblical morality or some equivalent of the natural moral law, so you are a hypocrite. You stand up, fall down in the mud, get back up and try to clean yourself up.

    I, on the other hand, never fail to meet my own convenient and easy standards, designed for the sole purpose of making my life as easy and demand-free as possible. I may be wallowing in a moral pig stye, but I feel no need to clean myself up because I have found a new name for dirt, and that becomes reality for me.”

    1. Well, I don’t notice BA getting back up and trying to clean himself up. He seems to be quite content to wallow. In fact he appears to be sinking ever deeper into the muck, near as I can tell. I call BA a hypocrite because he is apparently totally unwilling to make any effort to reconcile his actions and his professed belief once the discrepancy has been pointed out to him. He isn’t even willing to acknowledge that he is failing to live up to his own standards.

    2. Your second paragraph is hugely unfair to the majority of people who are moral relativists. Most people, whether they are relativists or not, have moral standards that they try to live by, and your description that “You stand up, fall down in the mud, get back up and try to clean yourself up.” applies equally well to them as to any moral absolutist. I could not help but admire Christopher Hitchens’ steadfast refusal to surrender his principles even in the face of his impending death from cancer, for instance.

    3. To the extent that your second paragraph applies to me, do you imagine that it is easy to live always according to the imperative “What would Love do now?” Do you imagine that I don’t also fail from time to time? My sister and I joke about it—laughing at how difficult it is for us to love certain people unconditionally, like Rush Limbaugh, for example (we’re both confirmed liberals, in case you were wondering).

  158. Bruce

    So ultimately, each of us is unavoidably his or her own authority, and thus has the responsibility to discover truth in our own way.

    You are confusing the responsibility of the believer to find the right authority with the teaching authority of the one who claims to have the truth. The authority of a revealed truth claim comes from the claimant, not the person who receives the teaching.

    The authority of Scriptural teachings is based on the authority of the Church’s claim that they are inerrant and inspired, which in turn, is based on the authority of Christ to empower the Church to make that claim, which in turn, is based on Christ’s Divinity, which is turn, is confirmed by the prophecies that prefigured his arrival and his subsequent claims to Divinity associated with his supernatural miracles, including his supernatural resurrection.

    The authority of Neal Donald Walsch’s teachings, on the other hand, is based solely on his claim to have communicated with God. On the strength of his claims alone, he says, “trust me.” Unlike Christ, he was not foretold. Unlike Christ, he did not claim to be God himself. Unlike Christ, he did not live a perfect life. Unlike Christ, he did not rise from the dead.

    In any case, these claims to authority are different matters entirely from the responsibility of the believer or the receiver of the teaching to discern which claims to authority are justified and, consequently, which teachings should be believed. I realize that the words “justify” and “should” don’t often find their way into your vocabulary, but I don’t abandon rational terms and phrases simply because you don’t entertain them yourself.

    What’s the problem? That happens to be part of the wholeness of truth—morality is relative because in God’s eyes there is no right and wrong (in the moral sense of those words).

    That makes no sense. If truth is absolute, then every aspect of truth is absolute, including the aspect of moral truth.

    [That brings us back to the question of feelings. Can they mislead us about which sources are trustworthy? By the way, that question calls for a yes or no answer.]

    Well, the answer is more complex than a simple “yes” or “no” can encompass.

    No, it isn’t. The question can be answered very easily with a yes or no.

    Feelings are always an accurate guide to truth, but like any source of information (including scripture), they can be misinterpreted

    If feelings can be misinterpreted, then they can be misleading, or, if they require extra experience to interpret, then that experience can be lacking. So, the answer to my question is “Yes,” feelings can mislead.” Why do I always have to do the thinking for both of us?

    God did not set up this game with pat answers. Living on this planet is a continual process of discovery and deepening understanding, leading eventually to wisdom, joy, love, and truth.

    What is your authority for making that claim? Why should anyone believe you?

  159. Bruce

    To the extent that your second paragraph applies to me, do you imagine that it is easy to live always according to the imperative “What would Love do now?”

    .

    Such a framework has definite possibilities, unless, of course, love is defined in convenient and self-serving ways. Let’s put it to the test. A young woman is about to abort her 5-week old fetus. Planned Parenthood has just told her that it is just a blob of tissue, but Human Life International explains its many human features, including a brain and a beating heart. What would love do now for the mother? What would love do now for the baby?

  160. Stephen states:

    “The reasoning goes something like this: “You sometimes fail to meet the demanding standards of Biblical morality or some equivalent of the natural moral law, so you are a hypocrite. You stand up, fall down in the mud, get back up and try to clean yourself up.

    I, on the other hand, never fail to meet my own convenient and easy standards, designed for the sole purpose of making my life as easy and demand-free as possible. I may be wallowing in a moral pig stye, but I feel no need to clean myself up because I have found a new name for dirt, and that becomes reality for me.”

    to which BD states:

    “Well, I don’t notice BA getting back up and trying to clean himself up. He seems to be quite content to wallow.”

    to which BA asks BD:

    “What moral filth am I dirty with? I thought you said there are no morals to get dirty with?”

    You really need to stop being a moral bigot you New Age fruitcake!

  161. Stephen:

    You are confusing the responsibility of the believer to find the right authority with the teaching authority of the one who claims to have the truth. The authority of a revealed truth claim comes from the claimant, not the person who receives the teaching.

    I disagree. You assent to the authority of scripture on your own authority. No one else does that for you. If you should decide to withdraw that assent at some point (as many do), you will do that on your own authority as well.

    If I decide to accept God’s words as recorded in Conversations with God as valid, I do that on my own authority also. Each of us decides on our own authority whom or what, if anything, to accept as a source of truth. Each person is the ultimate authority for what he or she accepts as truth, and what he or she accepts as authority. There is no avoiding this.

    If feelings can be misinterpreted, then they can be misleading, or, if they require extra experience to interpret, then that experience can be lacking. So, the answer to my question is “Yes,” feelings can mislead.” Why do I always have to do the thinking for both of us?

    No, you are wrong. Feelings do not mislead. Inexperience misleads. I’ll give you an example: A friend tells me that there is a Walmart in the suburb of Sierra Hills on Grand Ave. Unfortunately, I don’t find it because I think I am in Sierra Hills, but I am actually in Sierra River. I cannot in fairness accuse my friend of misleading me; it was my inexperience with the suburbs that misled me. It is a subtle distinction, I know, but thinking requires the ability to make subtle distinctions.

    And the distinction is important. The conclusions that can be drawn from the statement that feelings can mislead one are very different from the conclusions that can be drawn from the statement that feelings are always accurate, but they can be misinterpreted because of inexperience.

    God did not set up this game with pat answers. Living on this planet is a continual process of discovery and deepening understanding, leading eventually to wisdom, joy, love, and truth.

    What is your authority for making that claim? Why should anyone believe you?

    I make the claim based on experience and years of study and contemplation. One should believe me if and only if the statement rings true for them. If it seems possible or plausible, then one should accept it provisionally and then seek to confirm or disconfirm it through their own experience, study, and contemplation. I do not expect anyone just to take my word for it.

  162. BA

    “Well, I don’t notice BA getting back up and trying to clean himself up. He seems to be quite content to wallow.”

    to which BA asks BD:

    “What moral filth am I dirty with? I thought you said there are no morals to get dirty with?”

    You really need to stop being a moral bigot you New Age fruitcake!

    I was just continuing with the metaphor that Stephen began. Don’t read more into it than is actually there.

    Now I know that you will accuse me of lying or twisting or some such. But you know what, BA, I really don’t care what you think. Your attempts to discredit me are so transparently lacking in integrity that you have forfeited all credibility.

  163. BD you state:

    “I really don’t care what you think.”

    At last, finally you are trying to live consistently in your moral free worldview. Now why did you have to go on and on pretending that you were morally offended by being called a New Age Quack? Were your feelings deceiving you that evil really does exist?? Better go back get more experrinece for your feelings fruitcake! :)

  164. Stephen: re 159
    I do believe you and I have already exhausted our relative positions on the topic of abortion. You know what my beliefs are on that subject. I’m not willing to rehash that one yet again.

  165. Ahh but BD a new thread awaits:

    Libby Anne (part 3): A reply to her article, “How I lost faith in the pro-life movement” – November 26, 2012
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-movement/

  166. It will be nice to see you on that thread BD. I look forward to paitently refining your errant feelings that are deceiving you that moral evil exists. Of course, if you want, I’m sure we can work it out so that we can have a more ‘feelings intensive’ session to deal with these errant feelings of yours that seem to be deceiving you that evil exists, and thus get you the experience you cherish:

    Cruel Logic – video
    Description; A brilliant serial killer videotapes his debates with college faculty victims. The topic of his debate with his victim: His moral right to kill them.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qd1LPRJLnI

    :)

  167. Bruce @161, you comment is so irrational and evasive that it doesn’t deserve a response.

  168. Stephen: re 167

    Bruce @161, you comment is so irrational and evasive that it doesn’t deserve a response.

    Translation: I can’t find anything in them to attack, so I have to call them irrational and evasive rather than actually admit that either 1) I don’t understand them, or 2) I can’t find any logical error in them.

  169. Yeah StephenB,

    You OUGHT to actually admit that either 1) you don’t understand them, or 2) you can’t find any logical error in them. That’s what a moral person would do.

  170. “I can’t find anything in them to attack, so I have to call them irrational and evasive rather than actually admit that either 1) I don’t understand them, or 2) I can’t find any logical error in them.”

    On the contrary, your irrational nonsense is quite easy to understand and you have, indeed, been refuted every which way but Sunday. You have created an alternate reality that protects you from the truth of what happened to you on this thread. If you don’t believe me, find someone who is capable of rational thought and get their assessment.

  171. Better yet, find someone who is capable of rational thought and get his assessment.

  172. Stephen,

    Well, so it’s come down to flinging accusations of non-understanding at each other. I guess it’s time to quit.

    Let the onlookers judge for themselves.

  173. StephenB, though BD probably does not, I appreciate the clarity that you brought to this thread, and admire the seeming ease and grace with which you cut through BD’s sophistry (i.e. cut through B.D.’s B.S.),,, I’m truly like a bull in a china shop on these matters of philosophy many times, and I am not nearly as careful in many of these philosophy things as I ought be, and thus I can appreciate that subtle touch in others, and you, when I see it. Like, for instance, this song:

    Evanescence – My Heart Is Broken – music
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....WV41100052

  174. Like, for instance, for comparison sake, this song:

  175. Bruce @172, I will end on a positive note. I think there is much positive potential in your ethic for asking what love would do. Though you leave the key word undefined, I believe that much good can come from that attitude and I do, therefore encourage it.

    No one believes that reason or logic can substitute for love. Still, reason’s rules have a role in helping us to understand the difference between when we are really loving and when we are simply doing as we please in the name of love. Beyond that, you will hear no more criticisms from me on this thread. Peace.

  176. Stephen:
    Thanks for the kind words. In return I will say that your commitment to finding the truth and living by it—even though I disagree with your conclusions regarding what that truth is—does you credit.

    Peace to you, too.

  177. Bornagain77, I appreciate your kind words very much. To me, the famous 80/20 rule is essential. I try to identify and emphasize the “vital few” factors (the 20%) that truly define the subject matter and de-emphasize the numerous yet peripheral issues (the 80%) that count for much less.

    Of course the intellectual component is one thing and the emotional component is something else. I try very hard not to launch personal attacks, but I do fail occasionally (well, maybe rarely)—but it never happens in the beginning. Usually, I stay with the subject matter, and, when necessary, identify what I perceive to be inappropriate behavior patterns. I call attention to my adversaries’ “evasions” and “obfuscations” only to clarify the point that such tactics violate the principle of good-faith dialogue and to telegraph the fact that I am starting to get irked at the prospect of having to administer, perhaps for the tenth time, the same kind of corrective that should have been long since attended and responded to.
    I do, however, regret those few times that I have made the leap from writing comments about personal behavior to writing comments about personal character. To say “that was an irrational statement” or “that is a gross misrepresentation” is not the same thing as saying, “you are an irrational person” or “you are a dishonest person.” While I seldom make that leap, it has happened. When I become convinced that I am dealing with a person with a serious character flaw, I am often tempted to characterize his behavior in those terms. When I fail in this way, my conscience, that still small voice that tells me that I have done the wrong thing, tugs away at me and reminds me that I am communicating with someone who will live forever. That realization prompts me to reflect on the fact that I need to look inside my own soul and root out the impulses that prompted my fall.

  178. StephenB, very wise words as usual from you. And, although I have been guilty of letting my emotions drive my words on numerous times in dealing with neo-Darwinists, and seek to stick strictly to the facts of science because of that tendency on my part(which is much easier to do in my favorite field of science) on this particular thread of philosophy (a subject I’m very much handicapped in), towards the end of this thread, I had a specific point in mind by my brute words towards Bruce. I wished specifically to induce Bruce David’s natural disdain for evil (a natural disdain we all have that is very hard, if not completely impossible, for someone to mask) all the while knowing Bruce would try to maintain that he did not believe evil is real.,,, He may have said that logically, in his mind, that he does not believe evil is real, but I’m absolutely positive that he can’t possibly live that way consistently,,, and sure enough his actions soon revealed that natural disdain for evil and the inadequacy of his worldview to account for that disdain,,,,, thus, with that one trick pony lined up in my repertoire (a trick that got old real quick), I set out to expose that fatal flaw. And succeed I did(at least as far as conducting an experiment to elicit a response towards perceived evil would be concerned), though Bruce, in his pride or whatever, will most likely disagree, the fact is that his reactions towards me for the perceived injustice imposed on him reveal that he has a natural disdain for evil whatever his words to the contrary would say otherwise. ,,, But alas, I also realized, very belatedly, especially in your last post on love outweighing logic and reason, that dealing with humans is far different than dealing with experiments of science,,, thus though I succeeded in the experiment, I failed in the much weightier matter of caring that I was dealing with human not with a brute fact of science. And in that my ‘experiment’ failed miserably!

  179. bornagin77, I know exactly what you mean about human experiments, and I, too have applied that method, which, in my judgment, can served a useful purpose. I once advanced a series of arguments using my adversary’s world view (unannounced by me and unrecognized by him). He became so frustrated at the prospect of having his own tactics used on him that he called me “Judas.” He didn’t realize what had happened until another ID proponent interpreted the sequence of events for him. The point being that, in my opinion, you need not feel guilty for giving people a taste of their own medicine from time to time. To me, we cross the line only when we judge the goodness or badness or worth of another person in a global sense–as if we could look inside their soul and know their deepest intentions or as if we had the moral right to assume that they are totally responsible for their present mental state, which, of course, would be inordinately presumptuous for a Christian, even for a Christian warrior.

    For those who don’t feel the need to fight the good fight, or enter into the fray of a culture war, these kinds of dilemmas don’t come up so much. Because the middle-of-the-roaders are not emotionally involved, they are not so vulnerable to excess. Their sin is apathy and lukewarmness, which, from the vantage point of our savior, is the worst fault of all. The real heroes are those who know how to love and fight at the same time. Most lovers don’t have the guts to fight, and most fighters don’t have the heart to love. The greatest souls are those who integrate all the virtues. Christ could be a Lion or He could be a Lamb. A soldier can have courage but also be a barbarian, or he can be kind and also be a coward. But imagine the great war saint who has the courage to fight his enemies to the death, but also has the meekness to mend the wounds of those he has conquered and minister to their every need with heavenly tenderness.

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