Atheism and the Christian God.


#1

Another posted this on another thread:

[quote=AnAtheist] I am agnostic towards the question whether ther is a god, ie some kind of god. But I am strongly atheistic towards certain specific god images like the Christian One. I hope, you see the difference.
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For all practical means agnostic and atheistic positions are identical btw, eg there is nothing to worship in a specific way.
[/quote]

Why do atheists have a problem with the Christian concept of God?

Problem of evil, maybe?

Peace


#2

The problem of evil is not a real stumper to me, it just makes you think about some things. But the usual Christian solution of that problem contradicts other Christian claims about the nature of their God. The PoE is a Christian problem only btw, if you propose a non-all-loving god, then the problem does not arise in the first place.
The main problem I have, is, the Christian God is logically impossible. Omniscience is impossible, omnipotence is impossible, and omnibenevolence is highly unlikely when I look at reality.
Even if I assume an omnipotent, omniscient (or nearly so) god for a minute, who created the whole universe, then the universe is completely predetermined, as it is fashioned in the way it is. That contradicts Free Will, and then the PoE kicks in, see above.
Furthermore it is not necessary to claim a god to explain the universe. Granted we are far from knowing everything yet, but in former times, we couldn’t explain lightnings, so we assumed a divine influence. We can’t fully explain the origins of life yet (though we have some insights), well, we will in time.


#3

I am a pantheist.But I do have a problem believing in the Christian concept (interesting choice of words!) of God.

My reason is that I don’t see divinity working in the universe in the way it is presented by Christianity.

I don’t see evidence of a personal omnipresent, omniscient, parent who reigns from above. The explanations and descriptions provided about “God”, don’t fit the reality of the universe I live in.

The explanations for “evil” are one place where the concept does not fit the reality, but only one of many, many places.

I am not an atheist. I believe in divinity. It is nothing like the Catholic concept of God. I accept that the Catholic/Christian concept is a useful metaphore for divinity, but I do not think it in any way approaches the true nature of the divine.

The experience of the divine that some Catholic mystics have, and that is beyond the theology makes some sense to me. But the image of “God” that appears on the screen of the teachings of the church is a very poor one indeed. He comes across as petty, limited and sometimes insane. He has been way too “humanized” to still be a God worthy of worship. Trying to fit divinity into a human like box is a fools effort, and will never result in a good product. The truth of the divine, is so much bigger that we must look much farther than ourselves to be able to even imagine it.

cheddar


#4

[quote=cheddarsox]The truth of the divine, is so much bigger that we must look much farther than ourselves to be able to even imagine it.
[/quote]

If there really was something divine, this sounds valid to me.


#5

Most Atheist doesn’t believe in God because they don’t want to live with lots of rules. They can do whatever they want as long as it is not against the law of man.

But athiest will definitely be put to the Fires of hell when they die. And at the last day they will be put to the fire forever.

If you don’t want to read the Bilble then at least read the Cathechism of the Catholic Church.


#6

[quote=AnAtheist]If there really was something divine, this sounds valid to me.
[/quote]

I use the term divine to encompass that which makes it all possible, and makes it all work together. This may be forces in the universe, some great intelligence, I don’t know what it is, but there is something there. Because that something essenially does what is commonly held to be the work of the divine, that is divinity to me.

There is something pervasive at work in the universe, and it ultimately holds all the cards. It determines (not like bib brother in the sky) what is possible, probable and will happen. It cannot be controlled by any of its parts. It is completely just because everything is subject to it to the same degree. These aspects of it, give it the place of the divine.

I don’t believe in the divine as supernatural, because I don’t think there is anything outside of nature. Perhaps ultranatural would be a term for it. No magic, no machinations, just this incredibly complex, totally integrated universe. Truly mindblowing. It leaves me in awe.

cheddar


#7

[quote=viktor aleksndr]If you don’t want to read the Bilble then at least read the Cathechism of the Catholic Church.
[/quote]

Oh, I have read the Bible - all of it.
Just another reason not to believe in the Christian god.


#8

A most interesting stance. But how does that differ from an atheistic view of the universe, if you don’t think it is absolutely necessary that this ultranatural has a mind of its own?


#9

[quote=AnAtheist]The problem of evil is not a real stumper to me, it just makes you think about some things. But the usual Christian solution of that problem contradicts other Christian claims about the nature of their God. The PoE is a Christian problem only btw, if you propose a non-all-loving god, then the problem does not arise in the first place.
The main problem I have, is, the Christian God is logically impossible. Omniscience is impossible, omnipotence is impossible, and omnibenevolence is highly unlikely when I look at reality.
Even if I assume an omnipotent, omniscient (or nearly so) god for a minute, who created the whole universe, then the universe is completely predetermined, as it is fashioned in the way it is. That contradicts Free Will, and then the PoE kicks in, see above.
Furthermore it is not necessary to claim a god to explain the universe. Granted we are far from knowing everything yet, but in former times, we couldn’t explain lightnings, so we assumed a divine influence. We can’t fully explain the origins of life yet (though we have some insights), well, we will in time.
[/quote]

Can you explain the bolded part more clearly? Why are these things impossible? How do you know they are?

Peace


#10

[quote=dennisknapp]Can you explain the bolded part more clearly? Why are these things impossible? How do you know they are?
[/quote]

Basic set mathematics. Knowledge and the things one can do can be presented in sets. Omni-X would require power-sets containing all other sets including themselves, that’s impossible.

Eg, an omniscient being cannot know, how it is like to be not omniscient.


#11

[quote=AnAtheist]Even if I assume an omnipotent, omniscient (or nearly so) god for a minute, who created the whole universe, then the universe is completely predetermined, as it is fashioned in the way it is. That contradicts Free Will, and then the PoE kicks in, see above.
Furthermore it is not necessary to claim a god to explain the universe. Granted we are far from knowing everything yet, but in former times, we couldn’t explain lightnings, so we assumed a divine influence. We can’t fully explain the origins of life yet (though we have some insights), well, we will in time.
[/quote]

Well, you have more faith in science than I do, to be sure. Putting that discussion aside, though, I want to ask you something. I gather that, by your argument you are implying that God, as you understand us Catholics to understand him, would have to by definition be guilty of evil, because He would have predetermined *everything, *which tells me you probably have a very strong sense of justice (many atheists I have gotten to know typically do). How then do you explain the origin of this sense of justice within you? Where could it have come from, if we live in a merely materialistic universe?

The main concern I have with your explanation of the necessary consequences of an omnipotent God is that you seem to leave no room whatsoever for the possibility that there might be some aspect of His actions that are beyond human understanding, including yours. It seems to me that if God truly exists, as we hold, then this would have to be an inescapable conclusion; otherwise, He cannot be omnipotent. Even if He reveals Himself to us (which we claim He does), still much mystery would remain simply because of the vast gulf between the nature of an omnipotent God and a mere human being, leaving much still shrouded in mystery. Would it not then stand to reason that no human being could ever really be in a position to definitively judge God of evil, by virtue of our finite nature?

The only logical way a human could judge God successfully and rightly, as I see it, would be if God were truly not omnipotent – and yet the moment this happens He is no longer truly God. You said that an omnipotent God is logically impossible, but you seem to be predicating your belief in the non-existence of a truly omnipotent God upon your dissatisfaction with the logical consequences of the existence of a “god” who, according to your explanation must be a god who can be completely understood by a human being, and is therefore less than omnipotent.


#12

[quote=AnAtheist]Eg, an omniscient being cannot know, how it is like to be not omniscient.
[/quote]

How can you say this necessarily follows? This sounds like a sophism to me.


#13

Any and all atheists, if they want to understand a Christian perspective (and have their faith in Atheism challenged quite a bit), should read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. If an atheist can read and study that book all the way through (and it is an easy read), then I will sit down and discuss these matters with him.


#14

[quote=AnAtheist]A most interesting stance. But how does that differ from an atheistic view of the universe, if you don’t think it is absolutely necessary that this ultranatural has a mind of its own?
[/quote]

I don’t know if it does differ from the view of many atheists. I know some atheists reject any notion of spirituality and acknowledgment of anything great and beyond. I do not reject those things. I worship and practice a faith. I do not feel that it is ignorant or weak to believe in a higher power. My concept of what that higher power is differs from many other faiths, but I definitely believe it is there. I have experienced it, I see it at work all around me.

I call myself pantheist, because that is what I am. People on the outside label me as they see fit. Some call me pagan, some monotheist, some atheist. I can’t be resonsible for their attaching a label to me. I still am what I am, and believe what I believe.

I do not call my concept of the divine “God” or god, because it is not parellel to the personal deities that those terms imply. I do have a “name” for my concept, but it is a name that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else, so I try to describe what I believe in terms that others will relate to.

I was raised Catholic. I do not feel that I turned away from the “God” I was introduced to, I came to see that as a metaphor or way of approaching the greater truth. I feel like I’ve been on a continuum. I know many people find that offensive, so I do not claim to worship or even know the Catholic God. Because what I know is very , very different from that being. It is not my intention to insult a faith that I was a part of and that I am thankful for. My upbringing taught me the value of a relationship with the divine, and of spirituality and discipline in my life. I take that with me everywhere I go.

cheddar


#15

It is true that we cannot know the limits of our knowledge. A dog is not aware of what it does not know. It doesn’t know that there are levels of understanding beyond its grasp to even imagine. Humans likewise do not know the limits of our own understanding, but we probably have a step up from dogs, in that we can understand that there are things we don’t know, that we don’t know.

I accept that I cannot and willnot ever really know, and that I cannot and will not ever even have a true glimpse of the limits of my own understanding.

I think that this is the story of the Garden of Eden, us wanting to know, wanting to know what we cannot know, wanting to know how much more there is beyond the limits of our understanding. That is a source of suffering. Animals don’t yearn for what they are not aware of, they deal with the now. We yearn and seek and are constantly frustrated by our limits.

cheddar


#16

AnAtheist,

Must omniscience entail the ability to perform logical contradictions? Does God have to be able to create square triangles in order to be omniscient?

Matt


#17

[quote=AnAtheist]Even if I assume an omnipotent, omniscient (or nearly so) god for a minute, who created the whole universe, then the universe is completely predetermined, as it is fashioned in the way it is. That contradicts Free Will, and then the PoE kicks in, see above.

[/quote]

Just because God is omnipotent, dosen’t mean the universe is predestined or that we don’t have free will. He certainly had the power to make us that way, but he also had the power to give us free will, which he did. I have the power to climb on top of my house and jump off, but I certainly won’t be doing that any time soon. As for evil, I have always understood evil to simply be the absence of good. So evil comes from disobedience to the all good God. At least that’s what I think anyway.


#18

[quote=AnAtheist]Basic set mathematics. Knowledge and the things one can do can be presented in sets. Omni-X would require power-sets containing all other sets including themselves, that’s impossible.

Eg, an omniscient being cannot know, how it is like to be not omniscient.
[/quote]

what has set mathematics got to do with omniscience? or omnipotence? or omnibenevolence? set theory is a limitedly useful arithmetical tool; there are no obvious or self-evidential ontological entailments to it.

but whatever. you are at any rate unnecessarily hung-up on “knowing everything” as a definition of “omniscience”; a much more accurate understanding of the term is something like “knowing all true propoisitions and no false ones”. which avoids your supposed set-theoretical problems altogether.


#19

[quote=AnAtheist]Even if I assume an omnipotent, omniscient (or nearly so) god for a minute, who created the whole universe, then the universe is completely predetermined, as it is fashioned in the way it is. That contradicts Free Will, and then the PoE kicks in, see above.
[/quote]

Think on God’s omniscience this way: God knows everything we could do, and all the choices we could make, and all the consequences and new choices arising from all of those decisions of ours. But He still lets us make the choices. Science-fiction writers touch on this when they come up with parallel-universe stories.

God is not interested in populating heaven with slaves and zombies. He wants those who choose Him freely, and the ones who choose to remain apart from Him forever are allowed to do that also. The only caveat is that, at the moment of death when all mortal restrictions are lifted from us, we finally become fully aware of what it is we have accepted or rejected. Understanding, finally, the glory of God, that you have rejected being a part of it, and that you never again will have the chance to be part of it, is the meaning of “eternal torture in hell.”

[quote=cheddarsox]It is true that we cannot know the limits of our knowledge. A dog is not aware of what it does not know. It doesn’t know that there are levels of understanding beyond its grasp to even imagine. Humans likewise do not know the limits of our own understanding, but we probably have a step up from dogs, in that we can understand that there are things we don’t know.
[/quote]

This is a good intro to the second part about God’s omniscience. Because the Catholic Church also holds that God not only knows everything we could do, he also knows ahead of time everything we will do. It sounds a lot like predestination, if you define predestination solely from our limited human perspective. More accurately, though, God’s omniscience is one of those things that is beyond our limited human understanding. And we can grasp that it is indeed beyond our understanding.


#20

GOD is 100% real! believe in the BIBLE. Believe in GOD and He will believe in you,


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